Dearly Noted

Wallace Harold: Month 2

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Yesterday my adorable baby boy turned 2 months old. It’s a bit surreal to think that in a few weeks I will have a 2 month old and a 2 year old!

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As I reread my 1 month update I’m astounded by how far we have come in just 4 short weeks (insert praise hand emoji here). Slowly but surely we are starting to find our sense of rhythm with 2 young babes and our days are beginning to have more structure. As the temperate starts to drop, I find myself longing for Fall, a change of season, and the inevitable patterns that occur as the school year begins. There is something refreshing about everyone around your city having a similar pace. I enjoy that sense of reliability.

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Wally’s Progress:

Eating:
Thankfully, not long after I wrote last month’s post, Wallace really found his groove with nursing. Just like Flora, he is a wonderful eater and our nursing relationship is so very sweet. He feeds on both sides every 2-3 hours, burps, and is either ready to sleep or ready to hang out.
I’ve continued to pump each morning, storing about 3-4oz each day to have reserves for when I begin working again (in 2 weeks!). I’m also hoping to have enough around so Daniel and I might be able to have a date night soon!

Sleeping:
I’m happy to say our nighttime schedule has been really wonderful with him. He usually cluster feeds during his fussy hour (about 6:30-7:30), then I swaddle him and lay him down for the night. He wakes up only one time anywhere between 2-3:30 to eat again, then can sleep until 7 sometimes. We are always up with Flora before then, but it’s nice to have him down for that long! I’m very grateful for this!
Our daytime looks a bit different. Because our mornings almost always involve an activity or playdate, we haven’t had a super consistent nap-time. Generally he falls asleep in the car on the way to our activity and sleeps most of the time. Then we get home, I put Flora down for her nap, then nurse Wally and he either sleeps more, or we cuddle and chat. The afternoons are a bit random so depending on if we are home or out running errands, he may get another good nap, or just little ones here and there.
I felt like with Flora we found a pattern a bit sooner, but I wasn’t juggling a toddler schedule at the same time!
It’s wonderful when they both nap at the same time b/c then I can usually get a chore accomplished and tidy up the house which makes the clean-freak in me happy.

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Other:
Wally is officially in size 0-3 month clothing and size 1 diapers. The last week he has had a really hard time pooping and we even had to give him a baby suppository. I’m hoping his little body is able to start regulating a bit more.

This last month I began taking Wallace to a chiropractor because he was having very fussy times during the day, particularly in the morning and evening. He would cry in a way that made me wonder if he was in pain. He was also arching and spitting up a fair amount. After 4 sessions of chiropractic work, I do feel like he is doing better. Since I pushed for 3 hours, I wonder if he got a bit misaligned in the process of birth (something my breech little stinker, Flora, never had to deal with!). It’s so hard as a mom to know when your baby is just…being a baby, or if there is something you should do and when to seek help. But ultimately, I’m very glad we’ve taken him in to help his body function better.

Wallace loves to be held…like a lot. Haha. He really enjoys eye-to-eye contact and being talked to. You can almost always elicit a smile when doing this and his whole demeanor changes when you interact with him. Thankfully, I’ve tried wearing him again and he has started to like it more than month 1. He also enjoys trying to stand on his legs and he has a very strong neck and grip. I keep telling him not to grow up too fast on me, and it’s ok to be a baby! I don’t recall Flora being quite this ready to support herself so early! Maybe it’s a boy thing…

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Mama Update:

This last month has been a transition from ‘complete survival mode’ to a mixed bag of ‘hey…I think we are getting this!’ and ‘am I going to survive?!’. Some days I feel on top of the world, both kiddos seem to do well and there aren’t too many breakdowns. Then other days I call my mom more times than I want to admit, crying and asking for support. Our days are a mixture of such sweet moments where Flora cuddles with brother and gives him kisses (melts me!), and times where both babes are crying, one needs nursed, the other is begging for juice, I’ve got one eyebrow filled in, and we need to leave the house in 5 minutes to make it to our scheduled play date. Whew! Somehow, it always ends up working out though. And I’ve learned if I can just get us into the car…often that gives us the transition we need to make it through. Admittedly we leave early for most play dates and drive around for 15 minutes to get everyone (including myself) calmed down.

I’m happy to say I am not on pain killers anymore. The last 2 weeks I haven’t had to take anything and I am starting to feel a bit more normal again. At my 6 week check-up my doc told me it would probably be another 2-6 weeks of healing for me since the tear was so significant. I’m very grateful that I’m at least able to sit normally now and not be thinking about the pain or discomfort constantly like it was before.

Lately I’ve been trying to schedule playdates each morning of the week, which is a lot and a bit exhausting sometimes, but I’ve really enjoyed them! I’ve gotten to know some really sweet mamas so much better and I feel like my sphere of friendships is growing. The more I talk to other mothers, I realize everything I’m feeling, all the questions, doubts, concerns, guilts, joys…they are NORMAL. I’m not alone in this season, and, in fact, there are a lot of wonderful ladies out there trying to juggle it all too. There has been such a sense of camaraderie with my mama friends lately and I’m so blessed by them.
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Hardest Moment:
I had an interesting situation come up this last month that really challenged me. It was unexpected and a bit sad…but ultimately it made me face something that was good. God is teaching me over and over lately that the ONLY person in this life that I need to desire approval from, is Him! If the world rejects me or disapproves of me, I am OK b/c I am His child. And as long as I am trying to follow Him, listening to His voice, being obedient in my actions…that’s all I can do! By nature I am a people pleaser, I don’t like discord, I long to be friends with everyone and I enjoy it when everyone gets along! But, sometimes this can mean me bending over backwards to try to make everyone and everything ‘right’, when really…it’s not my responsibility. I’m responsible for me, you are responsible for you. It’s funny how that works, right?😉

I’d say the other hardest thing has been those heightened moments in my house where there are 2 crying children, one barking dog, a sink full of dishes, toys scattered everywhere, and one tired mama. It’s a recipe for being overwhelmed and it happens about once a day. BUT, I’m  s l o w l y  learning not to freak out. My therapist encouraged me to take a few deep breaths in those moments, remain calm, and remember it will pass. I’ve been attempting to put this into practice and it does help. Sometimes Daniel still receives a text. That sweet man, always putting up with my meltdowns.

I will admit, I’ve never experienced a season quite like the one I’m in. Most moments I feel so stretched thin attempting to take care of these small helpless beings that I wonder if I will every be able to think a thought again. Will I ever be able to read a book? Get back to my love…sewing? Pee in privacy? Not take a lightning fast bath b/c a baby is crying? Have time for my husband? I know in my head the answer is ‘yes! this is just a season’ but I will admit that, none-the-less, it is hard season. Giving of yourself 100% of the time is just hard. In the same breath, it is also the most beautiful and rich season I’ve ever known. The stark contrast of these feelings, the stress and joy, the guilt and successes, the crying and the cuddling, the chasing and the nursing, the fullness and the exhaustion…it all holds so much. It’s full. And it’s full of it all.

Best Moment:
I’m still in that amazing newborn love haze, the one where it’s like you’ve taken the strongest love potion in existence. It’s like you can’t hold your baby close enough, breath them in deep enough. Even when I manage to slip away for a moment to bathe, I find myself missing my Wally. It’s as if he belongs in my arms always, and when he’s not…something is missing. A part of my heart isn’t with me.
That being said, my best moments are holding my little man, staring deep into his amazing blue eyes, and having sister right there too, giving kisses and saying his name in her adorable toddler way…’wawwy’. I imagine the friendship they will have, the mischief they will get into, the things they will learn together.
Even now my eyes are welling up letting it sink in that I have a family. My body grew 2 beautiful healthy babes and they are here in my arms. I know this is not everyone’s story and there is so much heartache out there. For that reason I hold them even more tightly…my little tribe. My little undeserved blessing from God.

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Y’all. Thank you for letting me share all of this with you. Please know that in these posts, these vulnerable records of my life, you are getting me in my raw form. You are seeing me grow and process. Sometimes I read former posts and want to delete them. How could I have said that? Or not understood that? Or thought that thing was so important?
But, you know what, I don’t delete them. B/c that’s where I was then, and this is where I am now. I’ve grown. And I’m still growing. I’m ALWAYS in need of grace.
Thank you for allowing me that space.❤

Wallace Harold: Month 1

‘Because I feel that, in the heavens above the angels, whispering to one another, can find, among their burning terms of love, none so devotional as that of ‘Mother’.’ -Edgar Allen Poe

 

Here I sit, one month into this ‘mother of 2’ business. A ‘mother of 2 under 2’ at that. I long to process all that this last month has entailed, what I’ve learned, all of my baby’s progress…but all I am coming up with is a haze. A cloudy mind tossed around in a storm. Because this month, much like a storm on the sea, has had its beauty, its chaos, its fear, its lack of direction. There have been waves of tears (ohhhh the tears), waves of joy, waves of humility, and not to mention far too many diapers than I can even count. I have found myself fighting to stay afloat, to find moments to breath before the next crashing wave hits.
So I will try my best to share our last month with you. To actually sit and put a thought together…we will see how it goes.

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For Flora’s first year, I blogged each month about her accomplishments, how I was doing, any significant changes, etc. While it was a challenge to get done some months, I find myself SO thankful I documented her first year of life in this way. Now I go back and read those posts and see myself growing, struggling, and surviving! I am filled with hope that, yes!, I might just survive again! And I see how each month got a little easier in its own way. I hope to do this again with Wally, and share with you (but also more for me!) how we are doing.

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Wally’s Progress:
Eating:
I suppose I’ll start with eating…b/c a newborn doesn’t do much of anything else!
My sweet boy had a few rough days getting started with nursing. But after ridding his body of remaining amniotic fluid on day 2, he has been nursing pretty well since! I did go visit a lactation clinic and get some input about my milk supply, positions to hold him, and how to get him as full as possible. He had been wanting to nurse constantly and I feared I was having a supply issue. It turns out he was getting plenty, but they figured he was just going through a growth spurt! Never-the-less, I started taking fenugreek and blessed thistle, 2 supplements that are supposed to help with supply. I believe those have helped!
In these last few days I had reached a point of desperation. This boy just loved to eat all the time. He would fuss and fuss and only be consoled by nursing. What I finally figured out is that he was never getting a full feeding! He was just ‘snacking’ and not napping well to-boot! So for the last 2 days I have implemented a new ‘system’ where at each feeding I really focus in to keep him awake and have him eat on both sides as long as possible. I burp him. Then we go at minimum 2 hours before the next feeding. If he fusses, we use the paci, bounce him, hold him, take him outside, or whatever we can do to ‘distract’ him. Usually he will fall asleep for a little while which is so wonderful (something he wasn’t doing before). I’m very excited to get in a better rhythm with him and feedings. This makes life SO much easier with 2 I’m learning!
Sleeping:
It’s no surprise that we are all a bit sleep deprived around here. For the first 3 weeks we had absolutely no sleep routine happening. Flora kept waking up and Wally, again, just wanted to nurse all night. I was in tears most nights, just so exhausted and at a loss for what to do…so I would nurse and nurse. BUT this last week I had a thought to try the swaddle again. We had tried swaddling Wally in the hospital and he haaaated it. So I thought he was just different than Flora and didn’t need it. However, last week out of desperation, I swaddled him in the SwaddleMe, nursed him, and put him down. He slept from 9pm-2am! FIVE HOURS! Of course I woke up panicking b/c why would he sleep that long…but apparently the swaddle was our magic ticket! For the last week he has been sleeping from 9-2 then 3-5:30. Not too bad! Only 2 feedings per night.
The other trick we’ve used is placing our small heating pad in his moses basket for a few minutes before we lay him down. We ALWAYS remove it before placing him in there, but it just warms up his blankets and he goes right down! This is something that was never an issue with Flora, but Wally despises being cold…just like his mama. (Random aside, we also bought the wipe-warmer for him. Something I swore I would never ever get b/c it’s just one of those ‘ridiculous spoiled American children things.’ Lol)
Other:
Wallace is still in a few newborn-sized things but he is starting to transition into 0-3 months. He wears newborn diapers still, but I have a feeling that will be changing this next month!
Wally has been a much fussier baby than Flora was, but I’m learning all his nuances and trying to understand his needs. I think our new feeding and sleep routine will help with this.
He hasn’t loved all the wraps (sad!), but I’m hoping this changes b/c I love baby-wearing!
Since they first layed Wally on my chest, he has had the strongest neck! At 8 days old I got a video of him on his tummy holding his head up for quite some time. He is my strong little dude!

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Mama Update:

Like I alluded to before, this month has been all about survival. Between little sleep, loads of family and visitors, healing from a big tear at his delivery, nursing constantly, pumping daily, keeping up with laundry and dishes, chasing a toddler around, and all this Kansas summer heat…I have had a LOT on my plate. One thing I’ve tried to do (which I did in my pregnancy too) is get ready each day. This means I at least try to get my makeup on and a comfy/cute outfit. It’s been a struggle to make it happen some days, but I feel more ready to tackle the day when I’m dressed and feeling put-together.

When Daniel was home that first week I remember thinking, ‘Hey! We can do this! This isn’t that bad!’. And even that next week I had lots of help from my wonderful mothers. But these last 2 weeks have been more of a glimpse of reality: me at home {alone} with a 22-month-old and newborn. Some moments I’ve about lost my mind. Flora has watched far too much Daniel Tiger and I will admit that every toilet in my house is in desperate need of cleaning. But! Both of my children are still alive and my husband still loves me. I consider that a win!

One challenge I wasn’t expecting to face, is how hard my physical recovery has been. I am still taking ibuprofen every few hours to cope with the pain of the tear. I can’t sit normally and any sort of bending is painful. I keep longing to feel ‘normal’ again and pray everything is healing correctly. I’m SO grateful that I was able to have a VBAC, but the longer-term recovery has in some ways been harder than my csection.

With Flora I remember spending the afternoons on our couch nursing her, staring at her, falling in and out of sleep, and watching my favorite shows. It was such a sweet bonding time with her where we cuddled and I tried to memorize her every feature. There are some days that I manage to get both kids napping at the same time and I try to pause from cleaning up all the mess, to stare at Wallace and breath in his sweetness. He is so handsome (of course I’m not bias) and smells like heaven. He looks at me with an intensity of a deep thinker. And I swear I’ve even gotten him to smile a few times!🙂

After I had Flora, I was so focused on loosing baby weight and seeing that magic number on the scale. I remember being ashamed of my postpartum body and thinking far too much about that. This time around, while I do want to focus on my health, I am not going to share my weight loss journey. It just doesn’t matter. I know that chasing 2 kids around will be ample exercise for the time being!

Hardest Moment:
I think the hardest thing about this last month has been the feeling of inadequacy. There is just NO way I can ‘do it all’ or keep up with life. I can’t do a good job taking care of my children, be a wife, cook the meals, keep the home, look cute, have energy, meet friends, blah blah blah. It just hasn’t been possible. There aren’t enough hours in the day. All in all this has been humbling me to my core. B/c the fact is…I can never do it all. When I think that I can I am just fooling myself. Although I haven’t had an actual ‘quiet time’ since the birth, I do find myself talking to Jesus and just admitting I’m a mess and I need Him. I am oh-so weak right now, so I ask Him to be strong for me!
Additionally I have really been wresting with the idea of friendships and what that looks like in this season. I’m finding motherhood is just quite lonely at times and the little extra time and energy I’ve got left needs to be spent of people who are ‘cup-fillers’ and not ‘drainers’. Those kind of friends who meet you in the mire, tell you it sucks, and bring you a Dr. Pepper. You know what I mean? Well anyway…one goal I have is to not wallow in the ‘lonely motherhood mire’ and to reach out and have more playdates throughout the week. I’m really pumped b/c we purchased a double stroller and I’m hoping this makes getting out of the house with 2 much more possible.

Best Moment:
This month was such a blur, but the support of our family and friends (THANK YOU FOR ALL THE MEALS!) has been a great encouragement to me. And I am just so utterly thankful for my healthy children. ChildREN…that’s multiple! Because I have 2! It’s still sinking in, guys. 2 sweet healthy babes, my gifts from the Lord!

 

So, that’s it guys. Our first messy month of being a family of 4

Dressing a Post-Partum Body

After my last style post on pregnancy fashion, I thought it’d be fun to do a follow up post on postpartum style and how to flatter your figure after you’ve had a baby (hello 4th trimester). I had my baby a little over 2 weeks ago and am in that fun stage of trying to dress my ever-changing figure!

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If you’ve ever had a baby you know the postpartum season can be tricky. Just like pregnancy, you don’t want to go buy a whole new wardrobe b/c you know your body will be continually changing for quite some time. But, you probably still want to look stylish and also wear clothing that is functional for nursing, carrying a newborn, and chasing other children around (hello comfort!).

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Here are a few ideas for dressing after baby:

  • Find the right shape:
    If you’ve just cranked out a baby, chances are your tummy will be a bit poochy for a while. This is nothing to be ashamed of, I mean, you just grew and birthed a human for crying out loud. But if you don’t want to accentuate your midsection, here are the types of tops to keep in mind:
    Boxy
    as pictured, boxier tops help hide a bulging tummy as well as provide lots of room for movement as well as ease for nursing. Win!
    Peplum
    pictured below, peplum style shirts flow away from the body at just the right place. I opted for a top that fit more loosely all around as apposed to a fit-n-flare style.
    Babydoll
    not pictured, but I’ve been keeping my babydoll-style tops in heavy rotation these days. This style is typically more fitted around the shoulders than flares out right above the bust all the way to the bottom of the shirt.

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  • Keep fabric in mind:
    Fabrics that carry a little more weight tend to stay put and not cling to the body. Although it’s tempting, if you are trying to flatter your postpartum figure jersey knits aren’t the best option. These types of material will hug and cling to each curve and crease. Look for tops that hold their own shape.

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  • Consider a girdle: There are a myriad of postpartum girdles out there ranging in price. I opted for one from Walmart that was $10. I don’t wear it every day but it’s nice to have. And they are actually proven to help your uterus shrink back down and offer support after all that bodily change. Win!

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  • Organize your closet:
    It can be a little depressing to see an entire closet of clothes that don’t fit, but try not to let that get you down. I suggest creating a space in your closet for the clothes that fit you now. You could even pack away the clothing you know won’t be fitting you for a while if you find yourself discouraged every time you look at your closet.
    As you start loosing baby weight, remember to keep evaluating your closet, slowly you will be able to add more items that fit and hopefully it feels like a success each time!

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  • Stay positive and creative:
    Like pregnancy, I think it can be easy to just ‘give up’ during these seasons of constant bodily change. But, for me, keeping a positive spirit and challenging myself to stay creative with my wardrobe (and in other areas!), I found this season a fun chance to think outside the box and utilize what I own in new ways.

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And finally, remember you are so much more than what you wear. We are children of God, we have purpose and talent, we can love and create and embrace and smile. Even if you don’t feel quite yourself in your postpartum season try to embrace today. Embrace the woman you are in this moment in time. You are a child of God, His design, and He adores you!

{As a gift to my followers I am offering 15% off one item at Penelope & Olive using the code STARLEE. That is where I ordered both of my tops in this post and I LOVE them! All items at Penelope & Olive are $40 or less which is so great when you live on a budget like me!}

Much love,
Star

Wallace Harold: A Birth Story

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As I sit here and type, my one week old son is snoozing peacefully beside me in his Moses basket. We have been home a little over a week and have even began finding a sense of routine and our new normal. Now that we are getting our wits about us (although, I am still on pain meds…thank you Jesus for pain meds), I thought I’d share the story of Wally’s birth, a vastly different story than that of my daughter’s (which you can read, here).

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After having an emergency c-sections with Flora, it took us a while to decide what we wanted this birth to look like. We had a much better understanding that even the best laid plans can go awry, but we wanted a plan as a starting point. Something we could hold to, but not cling to.
After prayer and discussions with my doctor, Daniel and I felt confident moving forward with a drug-free VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean). With Flora we had studied the Bradley method of childbirth and we wanted to use those same techniques with Wally, but this time planning on going to the hospital much earlier to be monitored due to the risks involved in a VBAC.

So…the story…

Friday, June 24th, 2016

  • 3:30am: As usual, I was getting up to pee for the 3rd time that night when I felt what I was sure was a contraction. A low burning in my uterus that had a definite starting and stopping point. The pain was dull but very present. I went back to bed, not waking Daniel yet until I was certain.
  • 4:00am: I let Daniel know I thought we were in labor. We counted a few contractions but kept resting in bed to get as much sleep as possible, knowing it was a long road ahead.
  • 4:15am: Not able to sleep, I got up and took a bath to try to stay relaxed. I had started my ‘low moan’ technique through each contraction. This helped me greatly with Flora and it was my ‘trick’ this time as well. By keeping a very relaxed face and turning your head downward, you make a low moaning sound as you feel your contraction start. You continue to moan deep into your tummy, almost pushing the pain down, never letting your body tense up. In this way you ‘relax’ through each contraction and focus all pain down down down…the direction the baby is moving.
  • 6:30am: Both mothers were called and began getting ready to head over. My mom was my labor coach alongside Daniel. Kathy, my mother-in-law, was ‘on-call’ to come get Flora at a moment’s notice. We knew once Flora woke up I would have a harder time concentrating on what my body was doing. At this point I had moved to the exercise ball, we had the lights low in our room. We lit a candle and I had ocean sounds playing on my phone. The atmosphere was calm and relaxing. For the next few hours I labored at home. Contractions were consistent but I felt no urge to push or need to get the hospital just yet. Daniel and I took a few walks around our cul-de-sac to help me change positions and keep moving this baby lower and lower. I had several snacks between contractions knowing once we got the hospital, they wouldn’t let me eat.
  • 9:30am: We gathered up all of our ‘go bags’, tidied the house a bit (wouldn’t you know…I was planning on doing some deep cleaning on Friday so the house would be clean for baby’s arrival), then headed to Wesley hospital. We arrived, got all checked in, I had several contractions in the waiting room (pretty sure that freaked a few people out), then followed our sweet nurse into the room I would deliver in.
  • 10am-2pm: For the next few hours I labored at the hospital. For the most part it was pretty peaceful. There were a lot of random people who came in to ask questions, verify information, and try to hook me up to the IV. With the help of my mom, Daniel, and our nurse, we were able to communicate that I wanted a drug-free delivery.
    I have to say our nurse was just the best. She had never had a patient deliver without pain meds before. This made me nervous at first, but she was super cool about it all and really open to whatever we wanted to do. She even copied our Bradley Method documents so she could take time to read it while I labored. I thought that was so awesome. We did go ahead and get the hep-lock put in my arm so that way if there was a need for IV or other meds in case of an emergency, we were ready.
    I labored off and on the monitors changing positions from the bed, to an exercise ball, to walking up and down the halls. Things progressed nicely at this time, I came into the hospital at 5cm and moved to 8cm by 2pm. All this time my water hadn’t broken (again…soooo different with Flora) so after talking with my doctor we decided to go ahead and have him break it once I had been at an 8 for some time.
  • 2:00pm: Dr. Jensen broke my water. He said it would probably help things progress a bit more and make my contractions more productive since the bag of waters was shielding things from moving downward as quickly. We debated whether to do this, but he felt like it was safe and might not wear me out as badly.
    After the breaking of the water, my contractions were much more intense, just how I remembered with Flora. Before this they were easier to focus through and didn’t feel quite so deep and burning. Pretty quickly I was feeling the urge to push. I tried to fight it off for a while, but soon it took over.
  • 3-5:43pm: I began to push with every contraction. At first I had no idea what I was doing. The relaxing technique was out the window…I just couldn’t fight them off anymore. Honestly it was a horrible feeling. My body felt overcome by this urge and it was SO exhausting. For the next 2hrs and 45mins I pushed, each contraction getting more intense. Daniel and my mom were on either side of me helping me hold my knees to my chest and pressing against my feet each time I pushed. Jennifer, the nurse, would have me breath in and out as the contraction started, then breath in one deep breath before I pushed as hard as I could for 8 seconds. Oh lawd…the longest 8 seconds of my life. For each contraction I was supposed to push 3 times. THREE TIMES! Y’all, that was the worst. For the first bit, I could only get 2 pushes in each contraction. I just couldn’t find my breath to do a third. But eventually I found my determination and with the help of my husband and mother, we started getting three good pushes with each contraction. I was so hopeful when they said the could start to see the head. Even so, it took a while longer, but then….

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(I had just done the hardest work of my entire life. I was so exhausted and so relieved.)

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(My sweet mother holding my hand as they stitched me up.)

  • 5:44pm: My Wallace Harold White entered the world! After pushing out the head then his body a contraction or 2 later, my son was placed immediately on my chest. The extreme pain and burning of the last few contractions subsided. They wiped him off as I held him and saw his chunky little face for the first time. As I was catching my breath, trying to soak in my son, I delivered the placenta and I noticed a lot of nurses in the room as well as my doctor and the 3rd year resident who had checked in on us throughout labor. They informed me that I had torn quite a bit and they had some work to do on me.

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  • 6-7:15pm: After 3 hours of pushing in the same position with my legs up in the air I had to stay in that same position (hello world…here is my ripped up nether-regions) for another hour and 15 minutes. My legs were shaking the whole time…I was so exhausted.
    Sweet Wally was a bit of a big fella at 8 lbs 7oz and his head was large. Because of this he tore me up pretty good on the way out, including a very important muscle that they had to put back together. They informed me that I had internal as well as external tearing going in different directions and had lost a lot of blood. Not exactly sure what all that means…not exactly sure I want to know. But finally after a very long hour of stitching  (they didn’t have me quite numb eep!)…I was DONE! I was finally able to hold my boy and close my friggin legs.

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For the next several hours we remained in the labor and delivery room. I had lost over twice as much blood as a typical vaginal birth and they had to monitor my hemoglobin levels. At one point they tried to get me up to clean me off and move me upstairs to recover, but I fainted back onto the bed. They had me rest a few more hours and gave me more fluids. At 11pm we were finally able to move to recovery where a very sleepy Wally, mama, and daddy spent our first night together. We had done it, we were on the mend!

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They continued to assess me and decided to keep us one more night which I was grateful for. My hemoglobin had dropped to an 8 which is pretty low, so they wanted to keep an eye on things as well as get Wally nursing a little better. He hasn’t been the ‘natural’ that Flora was, but he continues to get better and better.

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By Sunday evening we were in our own home. I don’t think I’ve ever felt such peace. No more poking, prodding, pushing on my uterus, stitches, or blood…just me and my family home together!

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I can’t tell you how vastly different the vaginal birth was from an emergency c-section. It’s like comparing apples and oranges. There was chaos and disappointment with the c-section and a long road of physical and emotional recovery. With the VBAC, it was intense and painful, and although I still have a fair bit of recovery ahead of me, I already feel more ‘me’ than I did months and months after the c-section. I can see why God designed us to have vaginal births and I’m beyond grateful for the chance to have had one.
I am already on my feet, I could help change Wally’s diaper within a day of his birth, I could nurse him without having to be cautious of my incision. I can bend over, twist, pick things up, get in and out of the car, help clean the house, and just so much more. I feel a sense of happiness, of a deep joy that wells up in me, that I don’t remember feeling after Flora’s birth. I don’t feel weighed down by the birth or held back like I did before. There is a sense of hope and confidence I have in myself and my abilities as a wife and mother. How much of all of this is just being a 2nd time mom, I really don’t know. But I do know that I’m very glad we tried for a VBAC. It isn’t something that is wise for everyone to try for, but for us it was what we needed and what was right. It wasn’t a fairy tale birth (who has those anyway?), but it is Wally’s unique story that I am happy to share.

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After thinking we lost this baby at the beginning of our pregnancy (read that story, here), I have no words to express how thankful and humbled we are to be holding our healthy baby boy. To breath him in, to hear his cry, to smell his newborn goodness when we were certain he was gone…it is overwhelming to me. God’s grace and goodness has been poured out overflowing with our gift of Wallace Harold. To God be the glory and praise for creating and sustaining his life.

If any of you want to chat further about our decision for a VBAC, feel free to message me!

Thanks for reading our story.❤

Much love,

Star, Daniel, Flora, & Wallace

Frugal & Functional: My Best Maternity Fashion Tips & Where to Shop

IMG_3349As I draw near to the end of my 2nd pregnancy, I thought it would be fun to share my best tips for getting through pregnancy when it comes to fashion. Some women feel their most beautiful when pregnant, others feel like a giant balloon, but either way, you gotta dress yourself! And if you are like me, you don’t have a lot of extra money to go buy a whole new wardrobe to accommodate this short, beautiful season. So, here are my tips for a functional and frugal maternity wardrobe…

  1. Stick with the basics.
    For the first few months of pregnancy, you can probably get by wearing your normal clothes, but as you progress you will definitely need a few things. I would recommend investing in a few pieces:
    -2 pairs of maternity jeans
    -5-6 basic maternity t-shirts (short or long sleeved depending on the season you are pregnant)
    -1-2 comfy dress options (I have 2 jersey-knit throw-on casual dresses)
    -1 nicer maternity dress (think for church or special occasion).
    It may not sound like much, but these are the basics of what I have used particularly through this 2nd pregnancy as I have realized I can make do with much less.
    If you are working away from the home and have to look more professional, this list may look different. I work 1 day/week in a professional office setting and I usually pair a dress with leggings and some flats to create a comfortable yet dressier look.IMG_2632
  2. Utilize cardigans, sweaters, or kimonos.
    With baby #2 I have been pregnant through mostly colder months and my go-to combo has been a long sleeve fitted maternity shirt under my open cardigans and sweaters. These are cardigans I already owned and simply paired them over my maternity shirts. If you are pregnant in the summer but still want a little more coverage, I would recommend buying 1-2 cute light-weight kimono style open tops.
  3. Let your accessories take the stage.
    With such few maternity pieces in my wardrobe, it’s easy to feel like I’m wearing the same old boring outfit over and over. But I’ve had a lot of fun challenging myself to wear some neglected accessories that pair well with basics. Do you have a statement necklace you like but that has been gathering dust? Pull that baby out! Do you, like me, have way too many scarves that never get worn? Put those in rotation! Try a fun hat, a funky earring, or stacking some bracelets in a new way. These things shake up an outfit and take away from the fact that you wear that simple black tank dress every week (guilty).IMG_2900
  4. Borrow from friends.
    Do you have a close friend who is a similar size and not pregnant right now? Ask them if they have a few pieces they would share with you. I was lucky enough to have a friend who just had her 4th and last baby and she passed down several wonderful pieces to me that I wore a lot over the winter. This is a frugal method to get some maternity clothes, and since it it such a short season of life, why not share the love! Then, when you are done with your season of growing babies, you can pass on your clothes too! Cool!
  5. See what you already own that will work throughout your pregnancy.
    You might be surprised to find that you have more pregnancy-friendly clothing than you realized. Flowy shirts are wonderful for accommodating the bump. I have worn my elastic high-waist skirts with a  tied up t-shirt through both pregnancies (these are easy to find at thrift stores!). Pull out any empire waist dresses; these can be easily worn with leggings as your belly grows and your dresses get shorter.IMG_3239
  6. Don’t forget about undergarments.🙂
    Until I had Flora I didn’t realize just how much various parts of my body would change…not just my belly. Once of my 2 saving graces have been my seamless panties from Victoria’s Secret. They are the stretchy kind that have no seam around the legs or waist which accommodates growth in the bum area without cutting off circulation. My other secret weapon is my bra extender! As baby grows and takes up more space in your body, all your organs shift around and get pushed up. This means your rib cage widens and your bra size will change quite a bit. From my last pregnancy I had purchased 2 new bras, but this time around they just weren’t wide enough. For about $7 I ordered a 3 pack of bra extenders from Amazon that simply clip to your bra hook, and voila! No need to buy more bras (which can be dang pricey!).
  7. My favorite places to shop.
    So where do you find these few, but important pieces? This is where I have gone…
    -For inexpensive basic tops, shop at Ross! They have a small maternity section where I have found short and long-sleeve simple tops. They aren’t the most amazing quality, but for $3-5 a shirt, you can’t complain!
    -Check out Old Navy, online and in store. Both of my jersey-knit comfy dresses are from there. They also have great sales.
    -On Cyber Monday I ordered a pair of nice skinny jeans from Motherhood Maternity for $20 and they have been great. I don’t adore most of what Motherhood sells, but for a basic like jeans, it’s hard to go wrong.
    -Check Target for jeans, tops, and dresses. While there prices aren’t always amazing on maternity, the selection is usually pretty cute.
    -For a fancy dress, look at ASOS online. Be warned…it’s all super cute and not necessarily budget friendly.IMG_2985

Hopefully a few of these tips are helpful and you can learn from my experience and mistakes.🙂 The season of pregnancy has really show me how little I can live with in my wardrobe and it’s kind of refreshing!

Blessings!

Star

*top image by Neal Dieker Photography

Crafting a Childhood

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As a mama of a busy 18 month old and another baby on the way, I’ve found myself thinking a lot about the idea of childhood lately. Isn’t it funny how, when you are in the midst of your own childhood, you don’t think about or understand that the universe you live in could look any different? All you know is what is set before you. The ideas, the experiences, the environment your parent/care giver surrounds you with…that’s it. Those very circumstances shape your childhood and thus the person you come to meet in adulthood. Yes, we can analyze our pasts, understand the ‘why’s’ and the hurts, but our childhood is something that is forever cemented the way it was…for the good and the bad.

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I am finding that in parenting, despite my best efforts and years of healing from my own childhood hurts, my gut reaction/instinct when responding to my daughter is quite similar to what was modeled for me as a child. In the deepest part of my mind and memory, these reactions are engrained and seem to bubble to the surface in my moments of frustration and weakness. My childhood had many pockets of positivity, but I would categorize it mainly by the word ‘fear’. Home was not a place of emotional safety and I was taught to fear the world and, to some extent, my own abilities. God has been very good to me in that as I grow in relationship with Him, so does my confidence and understanding of myself and my past. But, no matter how much healing happens, the fact remains that my childhood will forever be marked by the feelings of deep fear.

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So naturally when it comes to my own parenting, I ask myself questions like these:
How can I create a home that is filled, not with fear, but with peace?
How can I shape my children’s childhoods in such a way they leave the nest with just the right mixture of humility and confidence?
What does it look like to balance discipline with love?
When do I allow my child to be free to make a mistake and when do I try to protect them?

All of these questions have been swirling in my mind lately, mainly because I find myself messing up a lot. My patience runs thin and I snap at Flora, who, at 18 months old does not have the capacity to understand what I, a 26 year old, can. Really the immaturity comes on my part for having such ridiculous expectations of her. I also see how God is shining light on my selfishness, my need to do things my own way, and how my expectations are not in line with His most of the time. Simultaneously, as I am seeing more of myself and the brokenness of my childhood, I have become desperately fearful that I will leave deep wounds on my children, similar to my very own. Will I continue the cycle of fear, or lean on my Prince of Peace?

As I seek for an answer, a solution, an equation to plug in…I find myself coming up empty. Then the Lord speaks and tells me I.just.need.Him. The more time I spend with Him, the more like Him I become, and He is, after all, the perfect parent. The perfect Heavenly Father who knows how to execute justice and mercy and discipline and grace simultaneously. He can continue to heal my past while holding my hand and guiding my future, my children’s futures. The pressure to perfectly author my baby’s lives is suddenly lifted when I choose to put the focus not on my own deeds, but on the greatest example set before me.

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I will continue to pray for guidance and help as a parent. Oh Lord, how I need it. I need him every moment. Nothing has shown me my desperate need for a Savior more than parenting a toddler.

I know I won’t always get it right and inevitably my children will walk away with scars. But my prayer is that, hopefully, none of those scars are too deep, none of the wounds are beyond repair, and that mainly they can come into adulthood knowing how very much they are loved by their earthy and heavily parent.

Powder Bath Update

As many of you know we are flipping a 1992 foreclosed home in Wichita, Kansas. We had a lot of momentum when we first started b/c many updates had to be done in order for us to move in (i.e. new roof, carpet, hardwood floors, paint). So our big pink house took on quite a transformation pretty quickly, but there are still many projects left to do! Our big winter project will be renovating our master bath, but we decided to knock out 2 smaller bathrooms first so we had 2 usable finished bathrooms to feel good about in the midst of our master bath construction. Daniel and I just finished transforming our front bath off the kitchen and I thought I’d share! This bathroom sees a lot of traffic as it is the one guests use.

Here is the bath mid-construction with lots of speckling and paint sample options. As you can see it was previously a horrid shade of yellow! This color felt very harsh in this small space that doesn’t get any natural light.  We gravitate more toward muted/cool tones. (All photos are taken with my phone and the lighting is not the best…but you can get the idea!)
IMG_0656IMG_0659There was a awkward storage cabinet above the toilet that we took down.IMG_0660

Here is the bathroom after spackling, priming, painting, new shelves, new faucet, new mirror, new towel bar, new toilet paper holder, and a little bit of styling!

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The color we chose for the walls was Sherwin Williams Light French Grey. This is such a gorgeous middle tone gray. I have a feeling I will be using it for future projects!
I thrifted this mirror months and months ago…before we even bought this house. It was a steal and I just loved the shape. I’m so glad it fit perfectly in this space! I love how the gold is a bit unexpected against all the oil rubbed bronze and gray.
We were able to salvage this pedestal sink, but just replaced the faucet and drain cover.

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I ordered these fun prints from Minted just to jazz up this space a little bit. I tend to thrift a lot of items to decorate and that usually means it’s a lot of vintage stuff. But I also love quirky modern art and wanted to brighten up this space with these pops of color.
The towel bar was ordered off of Amazon along with the matching toilet paper holder. The towel is from Target many moons ago.

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I knew I wanted shelves that took up the width of the wall above the toilet and found this tutorial for ‘floating shelves’ on Pinterest. Daniel built them, stained them, and installed them all for under $30. I think they turned out so great!

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It was a fun challenge to style these shelves! I’m not the world’s best decorator and we are also budgeting very strictly right now, so I knew I needed to use items we already had around the house. I rummaged in the basement and gathered items. This vintage fan was my grandfather’s who just passed away! I love the character it adds.

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Here is the lower shelf. All items were thrifted for the shelves, given to me, or made with the exception of this basket which I got on sale at Target. I love the copper handles!

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This is the top of the toilet…not to exciting. But I did decide to make a tissue box cover out of felt using this tutorial. I think it just neutralizes the look and I never like the designs on tissue boxes.IMG_0988

Other details that are small but make a big impact are the light socket and wall sockets and covers. Throughout this house ALL of them are an almond color. It’s not the worst thing, but does tend to age the house. Plus, after we sprayed all the trim white, the coordinating sockets make everything look more cohesive and finished. So Daniel changed this out as well as the socket near the sink.

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A close up of the toilet paper holder. Not sure why, but I like the ones you slide on better than the spring loaded ones!

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I wish the lighting was better so you could get a truer sense of the color, but here is the finished product!! We will be changing out the door knob and hinge to be oil rubbed bronze as some point too. But, that’s really the last detail! Wahoo!
Even though we are living in the midst of a flip, it feels so good to knock out an entire room. I feel so happy every time I walk by this bathroom now and I’m not so ashamed when guests come over! Haha.

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