Our lives moved forward with no knowledge of your existence for a little over a month.
It was sweet for this planning-everything-to-a-T kinda mama, to have something so completely beyond her, come into being without her knowledge.
Thank you for choosing us.
I’m feeling you kick, for sure now, on the cusp of 19 weeks with you. I’ve been feeling flutters of you since 14 weeks…it must be the way I’m built, being able to feel my little ones so soon.
I remember the ultrasound technician being so sure I couldn’t have felt your big brother at 16 weeks. Later on, when I knew for sure what a kick from a fetus felt like, I knew it had been very real.
My life with you so far is constant, yet in snatches. I’m constantly aware of your presence, the changes in my body. Yet, I’m completely caught up in living and how many times you’ve already kicked your brother or he’s sat on you, I’ve already lost count!
I didn’t know if I’d be able to emotionally handle having the dreamed about second child. You see, hormones swirling & mama’s mental health struggles don’t mix very well. But what I didn’t realize was that more than a cliche saying, His grace is sufficient for me.
And more than I realized, this journey of motherhood is a journey of me rising up, an invitation to step into beauty. The beauty of making my own choices for myself and two little ones. The beauty of being true to what I can handle and refusing the guilt that threatens to overcome me. Just like in my marriage, what is required of me is to become the real me. The one I’ve always been shy of being in bright boldness, but the only option, really. The more I’m true to myself, the sweeter my marriage to your daddy. The more I’m true to myself, the sweeter my mothering is to you. Thank you for requiring that of me. ❤
God’s grace is overflowing, my second baby. From that earthquake shock of a positive test at 11 months postpartum with your brother, to that sweet rush of joy that hasn’t stopped coming, your presence shakes the world little one.
We are all so happy to meet you. Eager to know more about you, little by little. First, you just keep forming & growing, then we’ll figure out the rest when you’re in our arms.
I can’t wait to love you with a little less worry than I felt with mama’s firstborn.
I can’t wait to drink in your sweet newborn newness without wondering if you’ll ever grow, make eye contact, really smile & laugh.
It goes breathtakingly fast and I’m gonna hold on a little longer, and I’m so glad that gets to be with you.
We’re dreaming up names for you & we’re excited to find out whether you’re a girl or boy in 2 weeks.
I just finished a captivating read and thought- I need to do some book recommendations on the blog!
I am an avid reader and adore historical fiction. My preference is to read a book that takes my heart from the place which I started and deposits me into a new place. Forever changed from what I have read.
That is also my goal in writing books one day. I’ve come to notice that while nonfiction challenges the mind, fiction has the great opportunity to bypass the mind (on some level) and go straight to our hearts.
Since this book was written in 2009, you may find it wherever used books are sold on the internet; I’m not sure about in bookstores. A simple search told me that you may buy it for $2.99 plus shipping or as low as $1.35, I think.
I borrowed it from my local library.
Who Should Read This:
This book is psychological fiction. My highest recommendation would be for any who have experienced traumatic deaths, depression and/or fear of traumatic events and deaths. Now, this book will journey you through these things, but will definitely have moments of touching these places in the heart. I would’ve wished that someone would have told me this before I read it, so I could be open with a close friend about the things going on inside my heart. Thankfully, my husband is my close friend, so I ended up being able to let him in on how I was feeling in the beginning of this book and the follow-up at the end. That was really helpful for me.
What it is About:
Largely, this is a deep read that delves into human nature and many different peoples’ stories and then brings it all together in the end. I don’t want to say much more than that, to allow the reader to experience much of the same that I got to experience!
On a more detailed note, this book acknowledges the fact that we all hear voices in our minds. These voices can guide us to great things; these voices can threaten to completely overcome us with despair. It was the most amazing experience for me to acknowledge that it’s not something that I alone experience, but that each one of us experiences this within. Coming to realize the power of these negative voices and the power of voices speaking truth is something I hope to freshly bring to my awareness again and again over the years. This book did an extravagant job of journeying through this truth of life and I think that many can relate to this deeply.
Fun to Note:
The author herself is from Atlanta, Georgia but lives in Lyon, France. I love her global perspective as well as her down-home Southern experiences written throughout the pages of this book! Anyone who has been to the South and experienced it’s delightful warmth and beauty will find pleasure in going back there. For those of us who have not been to France or abroad very much, it was fun to feel the experience of one of the character’s cities and the traditions of that European city.
All in all, I hope you can get your hands on this book and give it a read. I hope your heart is touched, like mine was.
Today’s post is about my goals this next year for a healthier life.
I’ve spent the past 2 weeks with all of 3 of my siblings and parents. Many times, our topic of conversation has centered around nutrition and cutting out sugar.
We’ve talked about how it helps us emotionally, mentally & physically be our best selves.
Another topic that I have felt strongly about is how to get my family on a real budget, a doable budget and one that we feel good about.
Anyway, here are my 5 Goals for a Healthier Life:
1. Learn how to eat whole, unprocessed foods again. Begin to replace refined sugar with fruit & then come up with a plan to eat 3 meals a day (4 meals while pregnant) & 1 healthy snack each day.
2. Come up with meal plans and grocery shop with a list again to help us stick with our budget goals.
3. Look at each of our long and short term financial goals and make sure our budgets for each are in line again. I find that during hard stretches of life (1st trimester sickness) and/or summer vacation type times, the budget can get a little out of whack!
4. Keep up with friends who bring me life, who have expressed that the feeling is mutual. Start a mom’s group for support & friendship.
5. Keep practicing self care and sharing it gracefully with others. Please visit this post on a friend’s blog for more about this!
One last note- I was thrilled to find that this book is coming out tomorrow! You can purchase through my link to Amazon here.
Have you ever suffered from aches & pains while trying to sleep?
In fact, during pregnancy, it is even harder for me to sleep. Especially in the second and third trimesters as everything is stretching and growing!
I’ve been wanting to share this post for awhile, but was freshly reminded of how important my earthing sheet is to my sleep this week.
Have you heard of grounding? It’s growing in popularity recently, so you may have.
My neighbors some years ago practiced it, and while I thought they were a little strange, I’ve come to see that it’s a great practice.
Grounding (also called earthing) is when we connect with the earth and the Earth’s electrons conduct into our body which helps to ground us to the same free electrons as earth. In theory, it can reduce inflammation in the body & help with chronic illness.
I wasn’t sure if it was crazy, but you know how you feel really rested after walking barefoot on the beach? (To ground, the best part would be to have your bare feet in wet sand).
I know that feeling, so that’s what first made me think this could be plausible.
I saw a naturopath that recommended an earthing half sheet & when it went on sale, I decided to buy it along with other supplements I was purchasing to optimize my health at the time.
Then came my first pregnancy! This is the first time I finally noticed real benefits with the earthing sheet. You see, I’d unplug the sheet during thunder and lightning storms, just as an extra safety precaution and after a few nights, familiar aches & pains were overwhelming my body again.
I would also sleep very lightly, waking up many times throughout the night which was my normal since I was a teenager.
When the storms passed and I plugged my earthing sheet back in, I slept deeply and woke up with significantly less inflammation and pain in my body.
The same thing happened this week, only I didn’t realize that I had forgotten to plug my sheet in after a night away from home this week.
I was really feeling the 2nd trimester aches and each day I woke up with a new one, it seemed! Not to mention I couldn’t fall asleep at night, even though I was exhausted.
Last night, I slept so deeply and awoke feeling refreshed.
So, my friends if you want to try it yourself, here’s the Earthing Sheet on Amazon to the exact sheet I have. You can use this across the bottom of your bed so both you and your partner’s feet are grounded all night, or you can just use it for yourself.
This is about $50 cheaper than when I bought it, as it’s about 3 years later.
Here’s to great sleep!
Also, if you don’t wish to ground while sleeping, you should be able to get the same benefits from walking barefoot on the earth each day! Either on the beach or in soil.
This is my story, as a first-time mama. This is the story of my son Samuel’s birth!
What a swirl this past year has been! It’s time to write out his birth as his first birthday is drawing close!
I’ve always adored kids and connected so well with them.
I’ve also always avoided newborns. They are just so sweet and tiny and incredibly precious! I wanted to leave these treasures in their own parents’ arms. Even though, of course, I was drawn to the sweetness!
I had NO idea that having my own would be soo sweet and soo simple, yet soo difficult.
Looking back, I had an amazing birth story, but the birth & recovery hasn’t been easy.
Labor was gradually and then immediately intense for me. I like to call it the “marathon of labor.” For most first-time mamas, this is what it is. Statistically speaking. In some way, pregnancy is a marathon of labor for all mamas. The birth story is incredible in that it ends up being completely unique for each mama & child. There are probably little or great disappointments and there are probably little and great joys.
Here is mine!
It began with cramps close to menstrual cramps the day before giving birth, just as I was finishing up working from home. I was 40 weeks plus 2 days at that point and it was 2p.m.
I had a lovely dinner date with my hubby at Cheesecake Factory the night before and I just felt like it was my last big meal. I just had this peace.
My parents also came into town that week and once they got here, I felt like okay, now I can give birth.
So, on June 22nd, after finishing up work, I took a nap. This is the advice of my midwife team. Time to rest up for what I was pretty sure was to come. It was also recommended to go to sleep to see if the labor continues, or if your pregnant body just needed rest. (If tired or dehydrated, this can cause Braxton hicks, those practice contractions, but if you rest and drink water, they may go away).
I woke up around 4:30p.m. and it all continued.
By 6 p.m., I realized I was having back labor, which really surprised me! I also started to lose my mucus plug.
I jumped in the tub and ran hot water over my back to soothe it. My mom and sister came over and prayed with me.
I went to bed early and this began a full night of pretending to sleep as the contractions kept coming and bringing me awake. I knew my body needed to lay down and to rest if I was going to make my goal of having a natural home birth the next day or days; statistically first-time labor can go 24-48 hours! My midwives recommend drinking a glass of wine and going to bed once labor starts. I’ve never had a glass of wine, so I decided not to start now! Haha!
I was texting back and forth with my midwife and with my doula, just to update them that my mucus plug seemed to be releasing and the cramps/contractions didn’t lessen after sleep. They told me to take an Epsom salt bath and go to bed! I was laughing at that point, because I knew EXACTLY what my midwife would recommend and was already planning on it! (Epsom salt baths got me through my pregnancy, helping me to feel like a normal person each time the aches and pains got out of control.)
My long night of letting my husband sleep and pretending to sleep in and out of contractions ended at 4a.m. I was pretty sure I would throw up at some point during labor because I often did during the first painful day of my period (the rest of my period, I usually had no pain, but that first day was so rough most of my menstruating life pre-having kids!)
I finally yelled, CARL, I NEED YOU! It all came together, how intense things had been all night long, just me and Jesus and this babe. Time for some support!
I laid on my left side all night long, as this helps position baby best for labor. There is also a position where you lay on your left side with one leg up & bent that is really good, so I stayed in that position, of course moving when it was comfortable to change positions. That can also be good, to keep baby moving as they will probably keep moving during labor until they finally are engaged and it’s time to move through the birth canal.
Oh, how I loved studying about pregnancy, labor and birth these past few years! I took some courses I love from Kristen Burgess of naturalbirthandbabycare.com. Her Great Pregnancy course is amazing and just all of her classes. Helped me to prepare for becoming pregnant, know what to eat through all the trimesters and she’s just so. calming!! Not to mention she has had 7 babies of her own.
Carl, God bless him, woke up and then we were together for the next hours. I opened a book, Birthing From Within, and read about putting wash cloths in hot water in a crockpot and asked Carl to do this. That’s all I read! But it turned out to be a godsend.
After I rested as much as I could during the night, I began to record the contractions. I actually couldn’t hit the start and stop button because of the intensity and the plan had been that Carl would do that, anyway! I just didn’t realize I’d have to focus so much for so long. But it was good. The work of labor was good!
I would rotate between the bed, the couch, then my exercise ball and I tried to stay out of the tub though I would’ve stayed there forever, mostly because I knew I’d want hot water later for the blow up birthing tub! (Room temp water, not good for it to be more than a few degrees above body temp).
The warm birthing bath was going to be my “epidural”, so to say. My birthing education that happened with my midwives & doulas group (check out Arise Birth Doula, google it if you’re local), gave me tools to move through labor and move through pain. Especially the pain that can come with contractions. (Read Supernatural Childbirth if you’re wondering why I say “can” and not “FOR SURE WILL COME”). 😉
My doula was so amazing. Just looking into her brown eyes is the most peaceful and encouraging and calming experience! I knew I wanted her at my birth from the moment we met with her in my home. I got to not only have her at my birth, but another amazing doula who is a midwife in training and had her babies at home unassisted, and of course my amazing, wonderful, beautiful midwife. (And hubby, and at the last minute, dear sister).
I forgot to say that my whole labor experience was more involved than I had expected, so I didn’t use my music playlist. Instead, it was written on my heart from months of soaking in it and I could hear it in my head during some of the most challenging moments.
I moved through labor, with my rotation and eventually got to the point where I stayed on the exercise ball with a hot wash cloth pressed on my whole lower back. It was very painful in that area and I needed every inch covered at all times. Carl did this for me. ❤
At this point, drinking water made the contractions more intense, as did trying to drink a healthy smoothie. Things were intense, moreso than all night and I asked Carl in between contractions if he could please ask the midwife and doula if they could come. And also if he could get the tub ready. And if it wasn’t time (close to the end), DON’T TELL ME!!
Thankfully, it was time for them to come and it was time for the birthing tub to be blown up and filled. (We didn’t blow it up or fill it prior to keep it clean.)
My doula came and took over with the hot wash cloths against my lower back and I kept breathing, low and slow into the pain and through the pain. It was incredible.
I had a thought while I was breathing through some contractions- even if I could get an epidural, I’d still have to go through all of these hours of labor to get to that. And by that time, it will be close enough to birth and this is the part that I want to feel and be fully alive for. To me, being aware as I gave birth was a pinnacle of my womanhood and life. I love a challenge. This is probably why I wanted to have my firstborn at home. (That and we felt immense peace about it).
My midwife came and I was allowed to jump into the pool! It was amazing for 5 minutes and then the contractions came back. This told me that I was really gearing up here, the fact that labor didn’t stall out but continued. This is exactly what the birthing pool was for, relaxing my body even further to continue the work of labor.
It was a godsend to have my midwife there, helping with counterpressure on my back (counterpressure is a tool of natural labor that is AMAZING!). She talked me through some of the contractions and then offered to check me. Not a normal practice, but I was happy (& a little nervous) to find out how dilated I was.
I was almost there and they said, okay, you can get up and kneel to melt the cervix away. I was like, OH MY GOSH. I had begun to feel the urge to push, but I really had no idea if I was going to be laboring for another night and day, or if I was close and they were also trying to figure it out. I think I was a bit too calm for them to tell. And though I tried to communicate with them via text & phone calls, I really labored on my own for about 20 hours. (about 8 of those with Carl awake.) So they were trying to gauge where I was at in labor.
It turned out that they were with me for 5 hours, and that was active labor, the last phase of labor. It was about 26 hours altogether, from the very beginning and Samuel was born at 5:06p.m. on Friday June 23rd!
A prayer of mine was that my water wouldn’t break until it was close to birthing my son, because I heard that having the waters intact could be less painful. (And who knew, it could’ve been a miracle en caul birth!)
I had to get out of the tub to recalibrate, so to speak (you should only stay in about 90 minutes or less at a time). So I went to the toilet. This was where I was going in and out of sleep which is sign that birth is near. It doesn’t seem that it could be near the end, but things have been so intense and this is the body’s way of making it happen & getting the energy for pushing.
My water also broke.
So, I remember that I left the part about getting up to kneel. This position helps the cervix to open and works with contractions to let the baby come down quicker than other positions could. It’s still a process but effective. I couldn’t imagine breathing deeply and calmly, relaxing every muscle, but against the feeling of pushing while in this position. But I also knew that I needed this birth to come, that I couldn’t exert energy and labor forever.
So I said, with Christ, ALL things are possible! It was the most difficult sensation ever. To calmly breathe through an urge to push and not give in. My pelvic floor muscles were shaking with the effort but I did it again and again. I thought I would give up, in a panic and as I voiced this, my doula and Carl and midwife said, no Ailene, breathe, you CAN do this! I came back down into the peaceful, gentle birthing place I desired to be in.
My darling sister walked in at this point and was a calming presence who was praying and just being a support.
All the prayers I’d prayed about this birth, the miracles I’d asked for, they came alive in me.
I gave birth in an apartment in peace, quietness and gentleness and even 10 months later, some of my neighbors were so surprised to hear it had taken place!
My mom also turned inward for strength during her experiences, so I believed that I would be the same. In prior intense physical experiences, this was the case with me, so I also had that knowledge.
In fact, for years, during the first excruciatingly painful day of my menstrual cycle, I learned to pace and read Scripture to get through until the pain meds kicked in. I just kept going for those 45 minutes and I believe I built up a well of trust in God, through physical pain that came back around to help me through this birth, as well. So incredible.
So, my water broke and then I asked if I could get back into the tub (I didn’t talk a whole lot, it was too intense). The instant they said yes, I actually ran and jumped in! My doula laughed, surprised and said I’ve never seen a pregnant woman in labor run and jump like that! (I just didn’t want to have the baby on the toilet!)
It was time to push. I breathed and groaned deep and low (the lower your sounds, the less pain, the higher the sounds, the more energy used).
And oh my GOSH, my husband made up this cold red raspberry leaf, ginger and honey tea for me to sip on that was a PERFECT labor drink! I highly recommend it!
I just asked him and he made it up the day before. It was red raspberry leaf tea bags, fresh ginger and honey, he stirred it all up and then refrigerated it (take the bags out after 10-15 mins, maybe a little longer, leave the ginger in).
Red raspberry leaf was an incredible tonic for me. It really gets your uterus ready for birth. I drank it in my second and third trimester. Another supplement that was huge for a home birth was alfalfa tablets. This built up my stores of Vitamin K and baby’s stores. This way, we both would clot really well during birth.
I felt SO strong while pushing. In fact, I pushed and they said, he is crowning! I pushed again 1 or 2 times and they said, his head is out! I felt his head but it was a bit distracting and honestly kinda grossed me out! 🙂 I pushed a few more times and, just like we talked about & practiced, he was up and through and into my arms, out of the water!
He was so heavy and real and it was the most crazy outta this world experience of my life.
He was so cute and Samuel opened his eyes and looked around, so peaceful and calm. Like, hello world! He made some noises and his lungs were clearing of the fluid (which actually this process starts the lymph system for the first time! So amazing!)
He latched and we practiced nursing on and off all night. I was not a natural, it wasn’t easy. It was awkward and I hoped I was doing it right. My doula and midwife literally taught me everything (and my mom, she’s such a pro). 3 days later, at the home visit from the midwife, she helped him latch on and my milk literally came in. He has always had such a strong latch and suck, but I had to learn how to let it happen!
I was on such a high. Nothing like it.
30 minutes later, on the dot, I gave birth to the placenta. This is TOTALLY tmi, but it was heart-shaped and one of the dear doulas pointed out. Nothing was gross about the birth except for the placenta, but honestly it wasn’t shocking, probably because they handled it professionally and were fascinated by it scientifically. Telling me that it was showing signs of aging. I had been overdue 40 weeks and 3 days and Samuel was a big boy! 9 lbs, 9 oz. So shocking, but totally made sense. Gosh, he was heavy those last days!
They let the placenta pulse until it stopped, giving Samuel an incredible blood transfusion that gave him enough iron for the first 6 months of his life. You could alternatively have the cord blood saved in case of illness in the child’s future. Pretty incredible, but I preferred it went straight into him after birth, especially since we wouldn’t be monitored at a hospital.
It turned out that I had a third degree tear. It was decided that I needed to get to the hospital right away to be stitched up. I was so grateful for my midwife’s wisdom.
My mama got to come with us to the hospital, and my midwife came in and held my hand through it. So tender and I needed her support and strength. Samuel was skin to skin on Carl’s chest and went for his very first car ride. Aunt Deni had dressed him for the very first time, so precious!
I was very happy to be numbed up after birth, and even though it wasn’t ideal the birth hormonal high that comes from natural birth got me through! (I don’t know if it comes with every birth, I’d imagine it does in some way but I haven’t researched that!)
The hospital I went to and the doctor and nurses were so incredible. I really appreciated them.
We finally made it back home and my dad was so grateful to finally be able to DO something after a day of waiting and praying. He met us with Chipotle and the picture we have of that moment…it’s beyond words! SO much joy!
At this point, I headed straight for bed in a completely cleaned up apartment (not that it was hugely messy). Midwives and doulas do an incredible job keeping birth neat and tidy. Birth in itself, without intervention is a lot neater than you’d think! I only have one experience, but my experienced team let me know this when I asked during one of our planning meetings.
Everyone else left us and we snuggled in bed, smiling huge, very tired and ready to dig in to our food.
Anytime I left the baby at this point, I shivered violently. We were both regulating each other’s temperature. Did you know that mamas are the only ones who can both warm and cool a baby?
Thus began the craziest chapter of our lives, 72 hours of skin to skin and becoming a family of 3.
It was an incredible labor. I relished each moment and found grace to meet every turn by leaning in and rising up instead of backing down and curling up like I wanted to. I’ve found that this is the calling of not only pregnancy, not only labor, but motherhood itself.
It continues to be a journey of rising up into beauty, rising up into strength and transforming.
Thank you to all who helped and prayed. Those prayers were so strong.
Thank you to all who have read this!
Much, much love,
p.s. do you feel that oooshy gushy tender love? I think it happens with each and every birth. Families get doused in it. I think it’s a gift from God.
Then I took a step back and peered into that fear.
I think I felt terrified because the only existence I have experienced is this life.
And this life can be stunningly beautiful and it’s so meaningful, but it can also be so hard and even terrible.
And the burden of that…it’s too heavy beyond 70 to 100 years, with grace.
I think this would be a good place to share my beliefs.
I believe that heaven is a real place. Beyond my imagination.
I have felt very real moments, tastes of what it is like.
I believe that heaven is lit with the purest Being’s light. That He actually is light.
And I believe that I will live forever in close relationship with God.
All the dearest things of this life, I believe heaven is only that.
I still have fear rise up when I try to imagine me living forever.
But the truth is, we all know that this life is short. Even when it’s long, it’s short.
And yet, each day is so consuming and usually it’s so normal that it’s amazing to me that I can completely forget the forever part.
The death part.
I can’t truly forget it, though. And when I remember that I am made for heaven, more than this fallen world, my life gets even more beautiful.
A Father of light on His throne. Steadfast, ruling His kingdom with perfect peace and justice.
A perfect Son of the Father, whose life came into our world and who lived, died and was risen from death! He now lives in that human body, but it is glorified.
1 Corinthians 15 talks about the glorified bodies we are also promised as an inheritance.
The wild thing, the thing that makes Christianity different than every other religion that I have studied, is the inheritance part.
In Christianity, we don’t get our inheritance because of us. Because of our good deeds. Because we ate pure things. Because we did right while living here on earth.
Instead, our inheritance is given to us as a gift from the One who already did it. He already was perfect. God’s Son came to earth and lived a perfect life, took our punishment and lives again. And it was all the greatest love story ever.
Scripture describes us who believe as a collective Bride. To me, I have felt that this means that we each, equally have the opportunity to be close to the Lord. Our position is just like a bride and then a wife is to her husband. It’s a great analogy!
There is also the Holy Spirit. And oh, all Three are my favorite and are One, according to what I believe, but how I love the Holy Spirit.
He is the gentle voice I hear saying, this way Ailene, not that way. Say this, lovely one, you don’t have to say that. Go here, do this.
I believe that the Holy Spirit is perfectly communicating God’s voice and will to me.
And the level that He is personal…it is ASTOUNDING! Where are my keys, Holy Spirit? Instantly, my hands are on them. How will my crying son be able to take his nap? If I put the paci in his mouth just so & tuck his blanket one more time. Bam, he’s asleep.
Life in the right now, connected to heaven…there is no other way to live your best life. There’s no other way for me to live my best life, any who!
I’d be happy to continue the conversation.
What is your experience of life?
What are your beliefs?
I promise you’ll find a thoughtful and welcoming friend to talk to. I don’t believe in pushing my beliefs on people. That is impossible!
I believe in love. And the same love that won my entire heart, into eternity, can win yours. Hopefully, it already has!