Anneli's Birth Story: Part 1


I woke up around 1:45am on Monday, July 14th after barely an hour of sleep.
Suddenly my pants felt wet.
Did I just totally lose control and wet the bed??
Did that finally happen? 
Or did my water break? 
No, I'm not going to get my hopes up about that. 

I sat up in bed, held myself and ran into the bathroom.
My pants were definitely wet through.
But from what I wasn't sure.
Or at least I didn't want to make the wrong conclusion.

Without waking Adam, I decided to take a shower.
I tried to just relax, take my time, and figure out what my body might be telling me.
After the shower, around 2:15am, I decided I should probably tell Adam.
"I think... my water may have broke."
"Are you sure it's not just wet from the shower you just took?"
"That's why I took a shower."
"Are you having contractions?"
"No."
"So what should we do?"
"I have no idea..."

We kind of sat there for a while trying to decide if we should go to the hospital to get checked out or wait until later. My water never broke with Elijah so I didn't have anything to base this new feeling on.
And it wasn't like a big gush of fluid, but more of a trickle.
Like I definitely could've just peed my pants.

Reading online we saw that labor could still take 24-48 hours to start after your water breaks.
And if your water did break, the hospital would make you stay because of risk of infection.
I really did not want to be stuck in the hospital for a whole day especially with Elijah at home.
So we decided to wait.

I told Adam to go back to sleep and I went to get ready in case we had to go to the hospital.

I called my mom around 2:30am to tell her that maybe my water broke but I wasn't sure.
She tried to tell me to go to the hospital but I still wasn't convinced since I only had one, small contraction while I was on the phone with her.
I told her we would go if they got worse and I would keep her updated.
About 15-20 minutes later though, the contractions started to come more regularly.
I told Adam he should probably start getting ready for a definite trip to the hospital.

By 3:00am I started timing the contractions.
I was still managing them okay and didn't really feel any kind of impending death.
So I continued to nonchalantly curl my hair.
{Curl my hair! Which I haven't done in months. Denial anyone???}

Adam came in and checked the contraction timer and started picking up speed.
What he noticed that I didn't seem to  was that my contractions were coming 2 minutes apart.
Kind of an important sign...

A short time later, as I was trying to get dressed, the contractions were starting to really bring me down.
Literally.
I would yell for Adam to come in while I was crouched on the floor to rub my back.
Adam would race in, rub hard & quick, and then race back out trying to put it things together and get our stuff ready. Like get the car seat in the car. Cause oh yeah, we didn't do that yet...

I called my aunt around 3:30am and asked her to meet us at the hospital for take Elijah.
She was driving in from an hour away & we didn't know if she would make it to our house in time.
So knowing our babysitter was on her way, Adam woke up Elijah and we all piled into the car.

Elijah was so tired and so confused.
"Where are we going??"
"We have to go take mom to the hospital."
"And then are we going to go look for bugs and snakes?"
"Sure buddy. We can do that too."
"What's wrong with mom?"
"She's just not feeling good."

And then about 2 minutes into the car ride...
"Adam, I think I need to push!"



Marriage & Babies

While I try to get back into a routine after having Baby Anneli {and deal with mastitis... so fun...} I have some really amazing friends who will be helping out with the blog. Be sure to check out their blogs and show them a little love for doing this big favor for me. 

Today, Alexis from Alexis Laughs is sharing her very real and uplifting story of how life after baby isn't always a fairy tale. Having dealt with my own post-partum depression and hormone-induced relationship struggles after Elijah was born, I can relate to much of this post and really appreciate when people talk openly about their own experiences. I think that, having personally experienced this or not, this post is powerful for all people to read to help them understand what their friends and loved ones might be going through. 

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I had heard a lot of people talk about having their first baby really strengthened their relationship with their spouse. Since my husband and I had a pretty fantastic relationship to begin with, I was excited for this aspect of having our first child.

See, aren't we so cute!

Just about everything about the process of bringing our sweet girl into this world did not go as planned.

(this was after she was born and after they had stitched me up and all that jazz. I was in so much pain I could not even move my arms to hold her. It's not a pretty picture, but reality isn't always pretty people!)

 I had a very difficult pregnancy, a traumatic delivery, and postpartum recovery wasn't so hot either. I was diagnosed with Postpartum Depression at my six week check up with my doctor. In addition to all of that stress, I had a family emergency going on and Clint was in his last semester of school; he was trying to balance work, school, internship, senior design project (he's an engineer), church responsibilities, family responsibilities, etc. 
As a result, he wasn't around as much as we both would have liked.

I grew to resent him, maybe in part because in the midst of all those sleepless nights I could hear him snoring!
 With everything going on, I felt so alone.

Borderline: Having our first baby didn't strengthen our marriage. 
It made it a lot, a lot, a lot harder!

I don't tell you this to scare you, but to prepare what reality is for so many people! Not a lot of people talk about things like this because they're difficult, but that's why it's so important to talk about them. Don't you find so much comfort knowing you're not the only one who struggles with something? It's very typical to have some turmoil between spouses, especially in those first few months following the birth of a child. But it's normal. It happens. It's part of life. I have a friend who says that her and her husband are both prepared that the first three-ish months post-baby will probably not be harmonious between them. I think it's so smart to plan. When you're prepared for that, you approach the situation differently because you know it can be temporary. 

Hormones were a huge contributor to the difficulty in my marriage. Another big thing that's important to recognize is that the kind love for your child and love for your husband aren't the same. They don't come in the same way. It's a whole different package. The love you have for your child is instant and comes naturally. They are a piece of you. I remember just staring at my daughter and sobbing because I didn't know what to do with such strong feelings of love! You have instincts to love and protect your children. It's easy to shift our love to our child, or focus more on our child than on our marriage. 

However, I've learned in these last eighteen months of being a mother that loving my husband and being quick to forgive him is one of the best things I can do for my child. She deserves to be brought up in a kind, loving home with parents who show her a good example of the blessing of marriage. I want her to feel that her home is a sanctuary and not a place of tension. It's hard, but it's attainable.


Having our first baby didn't make our marriage into a fairy tale. It made it a whole lot more work; but you know what? We made it! And we are all better because of it. Our relationship is stronger, our love is deeper.

So, if you have your first baby and you think your marriage is going to hell in a hand basket, hang in there. With the appropriate amount of love, respect, and forgiveness, it can be all kinds of amazing.

Inspiration

just a little preview...

Just a little birth story preview... 


Mainly the scream at the end. 
Except mine was more higher pitched and painful. 
The rest of the song has nothing to do with it. 
I just love this song, High School Musical, & Zac Efron. 
And it made sense to make a HSM reference because... well it's me so of course I would.  

Story to come!

Blink

While I get some rest after having Baby Anneli and try to gather my thoughts for the birth story, I have some really amazing friends who will be helping out with the blog. Be sure to check out their blogs and show them a little love for doing this big favor for me. 

Today, Jenna from Mom, the Intern is sharing her beautiful words & inspiration today. This post made me cry, a lot. It could be post-partum hormones. But also her words & message hit me so hard especially in this sleepy newborn phase. It is hard to appreciate these moments yet these are the moments that I know I will miss & crave the most once my babies are grown. 

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I hear Clara over the baby monitor, cooing and sucking her hand. She’s awake. I open my eyes and look over at the clock – 5:40 in the morning. She slept through the night, I think happily. My husband Dillon has already left the bed to get ready for work, the form of his head still pressed into his pillow.

I go into the nursery to retrieve her for her first feeding of the day. She is wiggling and delightedly looking at the ceiling fan while gnawing on her pudgy hand, apparently staving off the hunger of seven hours without milk. She lights up when she finally sees me. Breakfast has arrived. I pick her up, kiss her little forehead and snuggle her on my shoulder as we make the journey back to the bed.

I sit on the mattress, lift my shirt and offer my breast – Clara takes it without a second thought, so desperate to quench her thirst. I am desperate too, though, for relief. It has been a long night and I’m quite full. As she calms down to eat, I recline back onto the pillow, her sweet head resting in the crook of my arm. She closes her eyes and drinks deeply. Her little body fits perfectly against my soft abdomen and shapely hip, just like two puzzle pieces. I feel my eyes getting heavy too, willing me to return back to sleep. Her warmth is so comforting. I kiss her head again and breathe in its perfect scent. I catch her grinning slightly before I drift back to Dreamland.

***

About a half hour later, I wake again to the sound of my preschooler Carson shutting his bedroom door down the hall. I hear him dragging his blanket against the carpet as he approaches my room. I crack my eyes slightly to see his towhead bobbing along in the bedroom. He exerts great effort to haul his large, fluffy blanket and at least four stuffed “guys” around. He throws them all onto Dillon’s side of the bed and hoists himself up.

 “I want to cuddle with you, Mom,” he says, crawling toward Dillon’s pillow. He snuggles up next to Clara and me and sucks his thumb. Not long ago, he was the one I nursed in bed during the early hours of the morning. Like his little sister, his plump body once fit against mine so perfectly. He sucked and sucked until he was full, and then he fell right to sleep next to me, a fat Butterball breathing slowly and steadily. Now, he is long and lean, his soft cheeks the only evidence of his former babyhood. His cuddling is short-lived as he restlessly flops around in the bed, clearly ready to play. He used to be so still as he snuggled up with me. Now, he only wants to move.

***

Final wake-up call. My 6-year-old daughter Audrey is up now, standing by my head. The clock says 7:38. “We’re late for breakfast,” she says, ever the taskmaster. Her long blonde tresses are slightly mussed and wavy from going to bed with damp hair. She holds a stuffed pug in her arms against her hot pink nightgown. I briefly remember when she, too, was a baby sleeping in my arms. Looking at her bony, long limbs and the adult-like impatience etched into her face, it’s hard to believe it ever happened, but I have the pictures to prove it. I can see her now: her perfect bald head against my shoulder, her chubby cheeks completely relaxed, her fat arms dangling by my side. My fluffy motherly figure provided the cushion for her comfort. It was just yesterday, I swear.

I remember those early days of Audrey’s life when in an exhausted haze, I wondered how women went on to have more babies after the first. How could they find the energy and time when one baby sucked it all out of them? How did they not die from being deprived of so much sleep? Those thoughts were shortsighted of me. Of course, no child stays a baby forever. And sometimes, that fact is sad to us. But it’s also the entire point of parenthood: create a child and help it grow. They do get bigger. They eventually start talking and walking on their own. They start eating the same foods you do and can even help prepare them. They go to school, buckle their own seatbelts, get their own drink of water, take their own showers and draw pictures of things they came up with all on their own.

And mothers … we change, too. We become more patient. We relax a little. We don’t let a little spit-up or a tantrum bother us anymore. We figure out how to live on less – less money, less sleep, less attention to yourself. We start to see the forest for the trees and know the sleepless newborn phase will not last forever (even though it still feels eternal, even on the third kid). But that first time … nothing can adequately prepare you for what it’s like for a tiny human to be solely dependent on you and no one else. It’s emotional, it’s exhausting, it’s challenging, it’s humbling. Oh so humbling. But let’s not forget – it’s rewarding, too, as difficult experiences tend to be.

So if you’re about to embark on the journey of motherhood, beware: it moves fast. Faster than you want it to sometimes. Take pictures. Keep a journal. Change your baby’s outfit frequently because believe it or not, she may outgrow some of them before she ever wears them. (True story.)

And don’t be in such a hurry to return to the Land of the Living after your baby comes. Sleep, relax, snuggle, enjoy. Watch and wonder about how your baby’s appearance can literally change from one morning to the next. When she falls asleep in your arms, lay back and sleep along with her. Cherish the sweet moments and savor them. They are like elusive hummingbirds -- hovering, fleeting, then gone.

Basically, whatever you do, just don’t blink.


5 Tips for Transitioning to Motherhood

While I get some rest after having Baby Anneli and try to gather my thoughts for the birth story, I have some really amazing friends who will be helping out with the blog. Be sure to check out their blogs and show them a little love for doing this big favor for me. 

Today, Abbey from Along Abbey Road is filling in for me with some great tips on surviving motherhood. Love her tips and they are great for even 2nd, 3rd, and 4th time or more moms! 
{it's all too easy to forget the little things}

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The moment I became a mother is and will be the greatest accomplishment I've ever made. It was insanely scary, yet made me feel incredibly whole. 

I remember staring down at Luke and thinking, "I can't believe this perfect, tiny human is mine!" 

Not even two years later, I stared down for the second time at Wes and again thought, "I can't believe this perfect, tiny human is mine!"

Motherhood is also by far the hardest thing I have ever done and probably will do. It's an eternal role and refines even the most patient and well-organized women (of which I am neither). That being said, I have learned some important life lessons in the two short years I earned my mom badge. Here are some of my tips in making the transition to becoming a mama:


1. Get on a routine. Babies love routines, and it makes life much more predictable and happy for everyone, especially when things feel overwhelming and like a whirlwind is ensuing (which is, like, always). Try to feed on a regular schedule, do baths at a specific time every day, and try to get naps down to a schedule, too. You will probably even find that your little one works into a schedule all on their own. With that being said, realize that the schedule is not really going to happen until they are 6 weeks or older. Their days and nights will be backward, and there is no use in fighting it, so in the meantime just do what feels right. Before you know it, they will be eating and sleeping like clockwork (hopefully!). 

2. Don't try to hide your emotions. Postpartum hormones are real and will make you feel all sorts of things you may have never experienced. One moment you are all sunshine and rainbows, and the next a raincloud is following you wherever you slump around. Your body will feel weird. Learning to feed a baby might be challenging. You will be exhausted. You may even deal with some postpartum depression. Find comfort in that fact that you are not alone. Talk to your spouse, partner, family, or doctor about it so you can get the help you need. 

3. Let others help you. Right after having a baby is not the time to play Supermom. Trust me on this one. Let your family and friends pamper you and don't feel guilty! Those dishes in the sink and piles of laundry staring you in the face will still be there in a few weeks, but guess what won't be? Those teeny fingers, wrinkles, yawns, goofy faces and coos that are exclusive to newborns. They can only curl up and sleep on your chest for so long, so let those snuggles and precious time take priority. (Last time I checked, a vacuum isn't very cuddly.)


4. Write down the details. I should be taking my own advice on this one. Those first time moments you tell yourself you will never forget? You will. It's called mom brain, which you probably think is a thing of legend. It is real, my friend! You will not remember every little first, so get a cute journal and write down those darling details! You and your children will appreciate it.

5. Take time for yourself. Whether it's just going for a walk or going out for a fabulous spa treatment, you will feel so much better. There is a reason they say, "if mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!" Mothers somehow set the tone for the household and its inhabitants, and alone time is the essential elixir to maintain that happy, well-balanced mama. And again, don't feel guilty about it!

Be sure to stop by my blog for more thoughts on motherhood and life! You can also find me on InstagramFacebookPinterest and Twitter

Megan, congratulations to you and your now family of four! You're such a wonderful mother, woman, and friend, and I wish you all of the happiness and joy life has to offer at this precious moment in your life. XO!

Upcycled Color Matching Game

While I get some rest after having Baby Anneli and try to gather my thoughts for the birth story, I have some really amazing friends who will be helping out with the blog. Be sure to check out their blogs and show them a little love for doing this big favor for me. And I will be back soon with all the details of Anneli Mae's eventful arrival :) 

Today Aubrey from Dreaming About Someday is sharing a really easy and fun activity you can make with your kids to help teach them color matching. Elijah loves little games like this so this is definitely something we will be using in the future. 
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i'm aubrey from dreaming about someday. i met megan in real life before we became blog friends at a church craft activity. the first time we met we upcycled men's ties into necklaces.
i wish i had a picture with megan, but sadly i only have the necklaces.

 in keeping with the craft theme of upcycle and to help with summertime boredom, i'm sharing an upcycled craft for kids. 

i absolutely 100% did not come up with this idea on my own. a friend gave me the idea a few years ago. i'm sure i could look it up on pinterest, but i came up with pretty easy instructions.

supplies
pringles can
hot glue
butcher paper (or some other paper to cover the can)
tape (i used washi tape)
hole puncher
reinforcement labels (ya know...the kind you used in 6th grade when you tore the holes in your papers)
markers
pipe cleaners

1. cut paper to cover pringles can
2. cover can completely
3. use a little hot glue (or glue stick if you like that stuff) on the inside paper to glue it to the can and also glue the paper to the paper so it stays in place
4. secure the paper with some tape. i like this fun washi tape found at wal mart of all places


5. punch holes in the lid of the pringles can. i did 3.


6. color reinforcements with marker


7.  put reinforcements around holes in lid


8. match pipe cleaners to the holes


finished product


if you want pipe cleaners to go all the way in the can, trim the tops off. they cut easily with regular scissors

this was so easy to make. it could be quickly done during nap time or even with the help of your little tykes. i might add a kid's name to the other side of the can to make it more personalized. let me know if you make it.
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