Christmastime is Here!

It’s the greatest time of year, and clearly it must be documented. Despite bouts of sickness and crying fits and curious hands, I am in love with the pictures I took this year. Christmas has always made me happy, but my heart is just overflowing when I get to share it with my babies. Making special memories with them brings a whole different kind of joy.

Now before I get too sentimental…enjoy these photos of my kids. Their individual personalities are on full display. 🙂

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Merry Christmas from our family to yours 🙂

4mo + 2 yrs

Well, I’m behind on Nolan’s monthly pictures and I can barely ever manage to get any pictures of Ali the blur, so I decided to take some yesterday of both.

They are both so different. Nolan will be my sensitive and clingy one (he is already) while Ali is my feisty, independent girl. I won’t even get in to the amount of bribery and trickery it took to get her to look for even two pictures. Sigh.

She is the sweetest big sister. She gives him his paci, helps rock him to sleep in his swing, and asks for him right away when she wakes up from a nap or in the morning.

It is not an easy task taking care of these two every day, but it is the most wonderful one. I can’t imagine a better way to spend my days. They are my whole heart.

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Ali’s 2nd Birthday

My tiny girl is 2 years old!
We kept it small and celebrated with my parents, in-laws, and grandparents at my parents’ home. My sweet mama decorated and made the cutest cake. Somehow she didn’t even end up in any of these pictures, but she deserves the credit for how perfect this little party was. She was already busy preparing for a road trip the next day and still found time to do all of this. In short, she is a superhero. Super Nana? Either way, it works.

Happy birthday to my sweet girl!

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We love you Ali girl! I hope you had fun on your special day!

Nolan – 2 months

Every day, my mornings begin with a bright-eyed baby boy and an energetic little girl who is just so overjoyed to see her “bubba.” I’m always a bleary-eyed hot mess due to demanding days followed by little sleep, but these moments are special–just our little family starting off the day together. Ali loves playing under the blankets, and all this gibberish just spills out (with just a few actual words involved), along with some hand gestures and giggles. Nolan has started smiling, and he just lays there quietly and watches, or patiently puts up with Ali’s unintentional roughness as she shoves the paci in his mouth again.

Ali clearly loves her brother and it is evident throughout the day.  She asks for him when she wakes up, gives him lots of kisses (complete with a dramatic “mwah“), gently pats his pack while I burp him, and is always running to his aid the moment he starts crying. Last week she said, “Bubba sad.” I never get tired of watching them together and I am constantly filling up my phone with pictures of them (how is there never any space?). I am definitely that mom oversharing on Instagram now and I am sorry…except that I’m really not. I can’t help it.

Nolan has now started sleeping until 4:30am. He’s gaining a lot of weight and is outgrowing most of his newborn clothes. He has started smiling and cooing a lot. He still prefers to be held most of the time, but thankfully he is comfortable in a Moby wrap and will even sleep through an entire church service (which he has done for 3 weeks in a row!).

Some days I still can’t believe this is real. I have two beautiful, sweet, healthy children that have made my life so much richer. I could just cry over how much I love them. I have become the mushiest, most emotional person because of them–which is saying a lot, because I was already that way. It’s just over the top now.

I had so much fun taking his 2 month photos! I forgot how easy it is to take pictures of babies. It takes some serious skill (and many, many tries) to get good pictures of Ali these days.

Anyway, here’s my happy boy:

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Nolan – 1 Month

It’s crazy how much faster time passes with two kids. Every single day is a blur of feeding, changing, cleaning, calming…of wiping spit up and picking up toys…of running back and forth between the stove and sticking the paci back in his mouth…and feeling that mix of relief and excitement when your husband finally comes in the door and you have an adult person to talk to again.

…and then repeat until you collapse into bed, completely drained (only to wake up to nurse again in a few hours).

I can never keep track of what day it is. I am exhausted and overwhelmed and emotional. But I have never been so full of joy and thankfulness. I have never felt as whole as I do now. Our little family is so complete.

Nolan has been entirely different than Ali. He’s my sensitive one. He constantly wants to be held and is always nursing. He despises having a dirty diaper for a moment too long and is not a huge fan of being swaddled.

Ali loves him. It took her a while to warm up to him, but she now loves to give him his paci (albeit a bit roughly) and enthusiastically tries to rock him in his little chair. She runs into our room in the morning and loves to peek over the top of his bassinet to see him.

It’s been quite an adjustment, and we have good days and bad days, moments of chaos and calm, but altogether, I think I can say we’ve been doing pretty well.

He now weighs 9 lbs and is getting a little bit chunky (hence the constant eating). He had some jaundice at birth, but it’s almost completely gone now. At his first doctor’s appointment, our pediatrician said everything looked great.

Here’s our one month old:

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Anticipating the birth of your second child is so much different than the first.

I was excited and I was ready–but there was a bit of odd sadness at the fact that my little girl wouldn’t be my only child anymore. In the days leading up to the induction, I felt extra attached to Ali. My parents took her home with them for a few days while I attended one more long day of appointments and prepared for Nolan’s arrival. I will always remember staring out the window and ugly crying as I watched my mom’s car drive away with Ali in it, holding on to one of her toys like she was gone forever. It was so ridiculous, but in that moment, I couldn’t help it.

The night before, I took extra time to love on my girl and made sure Tim captured those last moments with her as my only one. Again, it was an odd feeling. But the night felt very special, very sweet in a way that is hard to accurately describe. I treasure these pictures.
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I nearly jumped out of bed at 5am the next morning, before my alarm even went off, to get ready for the hospital. I did my hair and makeup, peeked at a sleeping Ali a million times, and poked my tired husband until he managed to get out of bed.

Before I get into the story, I do have to say how much God’s hand was on the whole day, in every detail. He was my strength and my joy and my guide the whole way.

Once in that lovely gown and in bed, and my nurses came to get things started. All the nurses at Menorah are amazing, but Krista, the nurse who helped deliver Ali, had been my favorite–and with a look at the name tags, I realized she was my nurse again, just with dark hair! It may seem so trivial; but to me, it was just another part of God’s involvement in my day. He truly does care about the little things.

Everything started slowly: low amounts of Pitocin, no changes in dilation, very small contractions. My parents came, one of my mom’s adorable handmade signs in tow, and my in-laws showed up later with Ali. She was excited to see me until she found the stool with wheels, and from that point only took interest in said stool, snacks, or any cell phone she could get her hands on.

My doctor visited briefly and broke my water. That was probably the most excitement the first few hours contained, because there was thankfully no meconium and there was so much water. It just kept coming! Honestly, it was comical.

The day dragged on with little changes, though, and my optimism at a quick delivery was fading. Contractions soon became painful. I was still thankful when they increased the dosage of Pitocin to speed things up–until back labor began suddenly and with great intensity. It was like someone stabbed a flaming knife into my back, twisted it, and dug it in there with all their might. It was literally unbearable. I squeezed the life out of Tim’s hand (so much he even said “ouch”) and asked politely but adamantly if I could please have the epidural now. I was determined to stop the back pain, having experienced it for hours upon hours when I gave birth to Ali.

Thank goodness for my anesthesiologist. Anesthesiologists are heroes. The kind man who did my epidural understood the back labor and he made it disappear almost completely within minutes. Oh, I wanted to hug him so bad, and I would have, had it been appropriate or had I not been hooked up to a million things.

My contractions continued to grow stronger, but they were still fairly inconsistent and failed to get things going. Krista and Dawn, my other nurse, finally explained that part of the reason things were so slow was because of all the extra fluid (or water). My uterus was so stretched out that it was taking longer to contract properly.

Well, great. Was it so much to ask for a simple, easy delivery? 

A couple more hours passed. My nurses came in and out, checked me for dilation multiple times, and put that awful inflatable peanut-thing in between my legs, which were 100% numb and completely dead weight. It was about dinnertime when I asked why I wasn’t progressing faster and what we could do to make it happen. Nighttime was approaching faster than I thought it would, and I did not want to have a baby at 1 in the morning again.

This time, from what I managed to understand, the problem was that his head was at an angle where it pressed against a bone and kept him from descending any further. The only thing that could be done was for my doctor to come in and literally try to move his head herself. Krista said Dr. Shipman would come in soon to try it.

Well, as fun as that sounded, I quickly sent out a prayer request to our Lifegroup’s group message on Facebook, along with a few random text messages.

Thankfully, at that moment, there was no one else in the room and it was quiet. Rather than giving in to my feelings of frustration and hopelessness, I stayed calm. I put my hand on my belly and I prayed. God, I know you’re in control. Please, take this sweet boy and turn his head. Please make it possible for things to move forward.

Only minutes later, I was in pain again. I had made it through most the day feeling mostly comfortable, but suddenly there was a deeply intense pressure that hadn’t been there before. Once again, I was grabbing my husband’s poor hand, the side of the bed, whatever was available when Krista came in to check me again.

The other times they had checked me, they took a few minutes before they decided how much I had dilated. This time, it was quick. “You’re complete!”

Oh, thank you Lord. I knew He had heard my prayer and I knew He had graciously answered. And so quickly!

The pressure, though, coupled with vicious contractions that came out of nowhere, was enough to make me lose composure again. “Oh! Oh! Let’s go! Can we push? Can we get this started? Let’s do it now!”

Unfortunately, I had to wait. But thankfully, within the next 30 minutes, additional doctors and nurses came in and equipment was wheeled up to the bed. Those dreaded stirrups were pulled up and my awkwardly numb legs were lifted into them.

Things happened fast from that point. I started pushing, but it stressed him out and his heart rate dropped alarmingly low. I was quickly handed an oxygen mask and took some deep, slow breaths, although I was anxious about his well-being. Thankfully, my nurses were masters at staying calm, and once his heart rate bumped up to normal again, we resumed pushing.

Well, for a minute. My new nurse, Rhonda, said, “Okay, stop. I can see his head. We need to wait for Dr. Shipman to get here.”

Tim was right next to her. “I see his hair! It’s dark! It’s like yours!”

I laughed and cried at the same time. I couldn’t believe we were so close already.

When Dr. Shipman finally showed up, everything happened so fast. I barely remember her coming in and I don’t even remember how many pushes it took because it happened almost instantly. My baby boy came out crying and someone said, “Do you want to hold him while we clean him up?”

Well, then I definitely started crying. “Yes! Yes!” I was overwhelmed with joy and thankfulness. I hadn’t gotten to experience this moment with Ali because of the issues related to her meconium–so this was incredible. My baby boy let out all these healthy wails as they cleaned him up, and I just couldn’t stop looking at how perfect his face was and how it looked so much like his sister’s.

Moments later, as he lay calmly on my chest under a blanket, I noticed how I had fresh blankets covering me, so I asked if they were going to stitch me up. Dr. Shipman just smiled and said they didn’t need to. No tears, no cut, nothing.

Again, I wanted to cry. If you’ve had babies before, you know how this makes a world of difference. My recovery would be so much different–so much easier.

At that point, Dr. Shipman showed Tim and I the placenta with the velamentous cord insertion. The membranes were thin and so delicate. It was a bit frightening to know just how fragile they had been. “This is why we wanted you to come in early,” she explained. “If your water had broken at home or one of these had ruptured, it could have been very, very dangerous.”

Rhonda added, “The fact that you and your baby came out of this as healthy as you did is nothing short of a miracle.”

Looking at my sweet, healthy boy in my arms, I continued to be overwhelmed and aware of God’s presence. He had not only protected us this whole time, but had blessed us beyond what I would have ever imagined. I felt guilty for the times I’d complained when my pregnancy got rough along the way. I don’t know if I’ve ever been so acutely aware of just how personal God’s love is for me. It was just so evident that he had taken such precious care of me and my baby boy, that He had worked out every single detail to ensure the best for me and my family. I am so, so thankful and He is so, so good.

If you’ve made it this far, thanks for taking the time to read it. Now for the pictures, which were made possible my by sweet husband. 🙂

 

Nolan Everett – 7 lbs 9 oz  19in – 6:25pm – Tuesday, March 29

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And some photos from the next day / at home

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in His timing.

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Thursday was all I could think about.

Thursday was the day we’d schedule a C-section. My stubborn baby boy showed no signs of turning, but had made himself rather comfortable with his bottom down and feet up by his head.

I sought advice from friends who had C-sections and dared to read about them online. I dug out those pregnancy books I forgot I had, combing every relevant page listed in the index. The additional information did not make me feel better. Worse, in fact.

I cried. I complained. I finally accepted that it was happening and started seeking the positives. Delivery would be faster….um, what else? Oh, It would be scheduled. I could plan everything around that day and waltz right in to the hospital, rather than stagger in at an unknown time with horrible contractions. Um…

Maybe I’m just a wimp. I know people that prefer C-sections and have many friends who have had multiple. No big deal. It literally happens every day. I still could not wrap my mind around it, though, and could not get used to the idea. Maybe it’s because it was unexpected. I’m a huge planner and I do not like the unexpected. I don’t know.

On Wednesday night, I stopped at a friend’s house, where she did moxibustion with some Chinese herbs. I sat on her porch with my bare feet on a chair while she held a (super smelly) smoking stick by my toes. We laughed and wondered if it could possibly work. I planned on coming by the next day to do it again.

I came home and, with Tim’s help and a good number of grunts and whining, propped my hips up in the air, feet on the wall, looking absolutely ridiculous as I continued to try to convince this baby boy to flip over. (Yes, it is documented, but that ridiculousness does not need to be seen.)

About ten minutes later, sitting in bed watching Friends, my stomach suddenly bounced a great deal, so much that Tim even noticed baby boy’s movement and said, “Whoa.”

I thought, Oh, he just flipped! I didn’t say anything out loud, though. I was afraid to believe that he actually might have. So I just silently kind of assumed he did.

At the biophysical profile (basically just an ultrasound where they look at specific things for the baby) the next morning, as the technician carried on a friendly conversation with Tim and I about our kids and the nice weather, she casually said, “Well, baby’s head down, so that’s good.”

Tim and I at the same time: “What?”

Oh, God is so good.

It’s fun to believe that it only happened because of the moxibustion or the awkward position or anything else.

But it’s realistic to believe that it happened because of all the prayers.

I had so many people praying for him to turn. Friends said, “Oh, he’ll turn just in time.” I liked to believe it, but I was doubtful. I did keep praying, though.

And in God’s timing, His perfect timing, my baby boy turned over. Just hours before we were supposed to schedule a C-section, he flipped. God gave me the opportunity to give birth to him at the right time and in the way that my heart desired. Why? Because God cares about the little things. He cares about the details.

In spite of all the chaos and seemingly unending bad news during this pregnancy, He has still been working things out beautifully as we go along. He’s provided for all the extra visits and procedures. He’s kept baby boy growing and growing, defying the odds and complications of a velamentous cord insertion.

He’s taught me so much about wholly and completely trusting and resting in Him.

We like to think we know best. We make our plans and rest in our own confidence. Then, despite our careful planning, we end up struggling through the biggest messes and misunderstandings. Yet, everything becomes clearer than ever when you stop, take a breath, and rest.

Just for a moment, be still and seek Him. Walk with Him. It’s better that way.