Ella Dearest what a special girl you are! Today is your 5th birthday! I look forward to writing this post to you every year because I get to think back on special memories and funny things and all the ways you are growing. Lots of things have happened since you turned 4 last January.
The biggest thing that happened this year is that we moved to a new house! Starting in January we were really hitting it hard every weekend going out to open houses with Mrs. Jennifer and you and Avery had so much fun exploring all the houses. Several times it was in the rain. Then we finally found this one and after closing in April we (Daddy and Doowah mostly!) spent like 5 weeks remodeling it! Mimi and Doowah were here staying with us to take care of you kids. You had so much fun with them. Andrew wasn’t even crawling yet and you girls would LOVE to come up to the house and see it. We would bring pizza or burgers sometimes to daddy and Doowah and eat in the backyard before we moved in. One day you’ll understand what a miracle it is that God provided a house for us to buy. I can’t wait to share the story with you.
You are having a blast at Kiddie Kampus preschool. This year you moved from the Peach class with Miss Keri and Miss Miranda into the Yellow class with Mrs. Jen, Mrs. Melinda and Mrs. Frida. You LOVE it and we have seen your development really take off with learning letters and the months of the year and your favorite friends are Emily, Audrey and Ella M. (You now sign your name Ella H everywhere because there are two Ellas in your class.) It is so fun to see you start to have real friendships with kids your age. Glenn Lally came over to drop off your birthday present and he made you a card and was so excited to give it to you. You wanted to keep it in the envelope and put it with your jewelry to keep it safe.
You are growing so fast and maturing in really noticeable ways. Although you still feel things very deeply and experience quite a range of emotions, you are able to understand things and handle them with more stability because once you get it you tend to be ok with it. We have learned that you like to have the reasons behind things and that helps you buy in and go with it. You’re starting to ask questions that reflect a deeper level of thinking, like about HOW the doctor fixed Doowah’s hip, WHY you can’t breathe under water. You have a new interest in being a paramedic, and when we ask you what you want to be when you grow up you say “an ambulance.” You love to help people and I believe God will use that so powerfully in your life to make a difference for others. Whether or not you grow up to be an “ambulance.”
You have said some funny things too, I always try to remember the funny things you kids say. You call an envelope a “glove” and you and Avery both say “snuffed animals.” You tried a Hansen’s root beer or something one day and out of nowhere came up with “it fancies my tongue.” Recently you started saying “You BET I do” haha. It makes me laugh every time.
You had your first cast before you turned 5! On the day of the Kiddie Kampus Christmas show I dropped you and Avery off for school in the morning and not 20 minutes after I left you had fractured your knee in the bouncy house! I didn’t know how bad it was until I drove you to South Bay Church and you still couldn’t stand on it after 3 hours and you were in tears. Daddy left work to take you to the doctor and you came home with a bright pink sparkly full leg cast for 6 weeks! Needless to say we didn’t make it for the Christmas show! You have been so brave little Ella! I didn’t know what to expect but you have really been so mature in understanding why the cast is important. You are thrilled to sit on the couch all day and have food and things brought to you and watch shows and read books and color. Two more weeks to go now and then we will begin the road to recovery and building back your strength. Doctor Godley says you’ll need crutches for awhile. We’ll see how that goes! Yet again your daddy and I were completely blown away by how brave you were when you got your cast. You had to get X-Rays and everything and you didn’t even cry.
This is the year you will start “big kid school.” We aren’t completely sure yet which one because we have two good options, but I know God will guide us to choose the right one and you will be fine because you are learning to be brave.
You really haven’t had many “bad” things happen to you yet. You have such a purity and innocence, especially when it comes to believing the best about people. You haven’t really been hurt emotionally. I am keenly aware of how sensitive your heart is (you don’t even like to watch movies that have kids temporarily separated from parents, etc. they make you feel so sad). You have a tender heart just like your mommy did, and still does. I want to help you this year to begin to understand that loving Jesus doesn’t mean we don’t have hard things happen to us, and sometimes things in this life really hurt our hearts. What we can always know, however, is that no matter how much we hurt, Jesus is the ultimate healer and he can turn any winter into spring. He uses everything that happens to us in our lives, both good and bad, to reveal himself to us and to others. Knowing Him is the best thing ever. Stick with Jesus, sweetheart, trust him always, and you will be just fine.
My dear little DrewBug you are such a bundle of joy! We anticipated your arrival for sooooo long! We were elated when we found out that God was going to bless us with a new baby boy. You came pretty much on time but the circumstances around your birth were quite unique, and you definitely made an entrance that was unforgettable! I wrote a blog specifically about your birth story. God was definitely teaching me a lesson in all of it, as He always is, and I learned through your story that He is always the one who knows the plans and just because it looks one way to me doesn’t mean I understand. He is the one who does. Always remember that we can’t see the whole picture, but we can trust the one who does.
You came into this world at a whopping 10 lbs 7 oz and shocked everyone. When you came out you didn’t cry right away and Lin our midwife was rubbing you down and even blew on your face to make you cry. It worked, and that beautiful newborn cry filled my ears and my heart with joy and relief! You were finally here. There is nothing in the world like it.
Bringing you home was different of course because we now had two toddlers to contend with and they wanted a piece of you every waking moment. So much of your first weeks and months we spent pulling them off of you! Ella was 3 1/2 and Avery had just turned 2 when you were born and neither of them had a clue the difference between a stuffed animal and a real baby. But as you have grown they have also grown and are head over heels in love with you, as we all are. I can’t wait to see the three of you grow up and do school and sports and relationships together.
One thing that was different for us this time around with nursing is that we didn’t realize you had a tongue tie that was preventing you from nursing efficiently. So you got really dehydrated because my milk supply went down and we didn’t know it. We thought everything was fine because the milk was coming but you just weren’t able to take in enough. That was one of the hardest couple of weeks for me. We had to start you on a bottle at 2 weeks to get your weight back up and you did so good buddy you were a champ! You figured that bottle out real quick because you were needing those calories! We had the tongue/lip tie fixed at 3 weeks and you hated it but it was the best thing for you. I had to nurse/bottle feed breastmilk/pump every 3 hours for what seemed like an eternity. It was probably about 4-5 months. When we started you on solids things kept getting better and for the last 6 months we’ve had a much more normal nursing experience.
You had a very large head (shocker) and there was a point in time where we were a bit concerned about it being flat in the back so we went in and turned your head every chance we could once you were asleep, and what do you know? It turned out great! You are a stud and have even already had a haircut. I’ll include a picture of that, it started and ended ok but you were not a fan of the process to say the least!
You got your first tooth around 6 months and you began crawling around. But it wasn’t until just about a week ago actually that you started actually crawling. You really did your army crawl/belly scoot/one foot push-off thing for a long time! You aren’t walking yet but you are so close. You can pull up and even stand with very little help. You do this head throw back thing all the time, when you are really excited about something you swing your head around in a spastic kind of way and its super cute.
You are also incredibly dramatic in the way you “protest cry.” You HATE the changing table and everything it represents so it will always send you into a tail spin even when you are happy to begin with. But one thing that stands out to me so much about you is that you just quit crying when we start singing. Around 8 months I would guess you started this. You can be all-out warring against me about having your diaper and/or clothes changed or not wanting to go to bed, but as soon as I walk toward your crib and start singing you just quit and put your head down on my shoulder. Its like you give up and just decide to admit that you’re tired. I am not kidding, it is the sweetest thing. You do it with daddy too.
You LOVE your daddy. Even from like 5 or 6 months when daddy would come in the room especially after being gone all day you would come alive in such a special way. Your eyes would light up and you’d track him all across the room no matter where he went. Melt my heart!
Well the past month has been really exciting because you are truly starting to try to communicate and are understanding SO much of what is said to you. Your first big trick was “arms up!” and the head shake. You have started repeating sounds and you are waving and saying “bye”. You have said momma and daddy but we still can’t get you to repeat them yet. You LOVE animals and will moo, bark, and quack on command. We are celebrating your birthday in a couple of weeks when Nonna is here. We can’t wait for you to get some good man toys like trucks and planes and bulldozers! You’ve been playing with minnie mouse and pink tiaras too long already!
What in the world have I gotten myself into little guy? So far you are just like your sisters at this age but soon you will show us all how you are becoming a man, and we can’t wait to see what your personality and interests are. Your daddy will be teaching me a lot as we go and I’ll be stretched in so many ways raising you. You will always have my heart, buddy.
My little Avery you are growing so fast! Turning 3 already and doing such big girl things! You are precious and smart and bold and energetic. I just want to eat you up sometimes because you do the funniest things. You roll your eyes and cut looks like a teenager yet you are sweet and fun loving at the same time.
You got a new little brother since your last birthday and you were so thrilled when he came. Daddy and I were so glad he was a big baby because you and Ella were too little to understand that rolling and jumping and pulling on him were not a great idea! You’re getting better about that now. You do still scrunch up and snort your nose and squint eyes and get right in his face and make squeal-ish noises as if you just can’t help yourself! I can’t wait to see your relationships with Ella and Andrew grow over the years. I like to think about what you guys might say to each other as you hold the mic at one of your wedding receptions or something. So many wonderful years ahead for our family!You love animals and you have about 50 in your bed. Of course your beloved Teddy Dog is the most prized of all though. Ever since last Christmas he has been your buddy. You and Ella rotate who gets to pick the show we watch and your favorite shows are Veggie Tales, Winnie the Pooh and Bob the Builder (which Ella tries to convince you NOT to pick because she doesn’t like it!). You are doing really well with your eating and will down almost anything for a cookie or ice cream. You like sprinkles on everything (the apple doesn’t fall far from the daddy tree) and you are going to have birthday pancakes tonight with sprinkles on them and who knows what else your daddy will concoct.
One of the funnies things you have said this year was when you were standing on top of the white couch and when I came around the corner and got onto you for the 4th time for doing that you looked at me with the most innocent eyes and said “Mommy, I can do hard fings!” I couldn’t help but laugh. I have lost my composure into laughter several times actually because of your facial expression when I am trying to discipline you or have a serious conversation. You don’t really get the serious conversation thing. It’s not really something you are interested in. You are also saying “this weekend” all the time like you know what it means. Tonight as we were putting toothpaste on your toothbrush you said “mommy my toothpaste is coming out this weekend” and I just laughed to myself because you have such a serious way of saying things like that.
You are starting to potty train the past couple months and you are doing really well with it. Daddy and I are ready but we are letting you go at your own pace like we did Ella so you are ready too. You are able to wash your own hands now and even want to help wash dishes and cook. You have special time with Mommy (and Andrew) every Wednesday morning because Ella has school. You still love to do things like shop at TJ Maxx HomeGoods with me because you haven’t figured out that its not that fun. I like to make it an adventure and ask for your help in finding things and you are all about it. We talk about everything as we go and I hope that never changes. Its really fun to be with you!
Your imagination is one of the things about you that I love the most. You have endless ideas and stories whether you are playing with me or someone else in the backyard or whether you are entertaining your animals. We love how you will disappear into a corner somewhere with a book and read all the words as best as you can start to finish. And you make up your own versions too of course. You have always loved books and stories.
We moved into a new house this year and we have a private backyard for you and Ella (and soon Andrew) to play. You LOVE being outside and I can hear you wherever you are just making up stories. You buckle yourself to the wagon and then cry when you can’t get out. You are very particular and directive when I play with you so its great because I don’t have to think much you just tell me what to do and also when I’m not doing it the right way.
Sound is always coming out of you! Even now as I type you and Ella are in “quiet time” and she is laying quietly on her bed resting and you have not stopped for 30 minutes. You have so much to say whether its thoughts or songs or just noises.
Recently there have been several times that we’ll be riding along and from the backseat with no prompting I’ll hear you say something you have learned about God. You’ll say “Mom! Jesus wants us to love each other” or “Mom! Jesus made people” Or “Mom! God made the mountains”. Its so cute and I love how it shows me what you are thinking about as we drive. I love that you are processing with your little mind the truths that you are being taught. And yes, almost every single thing you say in the car begins with “Mom!”
I can’t wait to see how your little faith develops and what your personality grows to be. Daddy and I are working hard on capturing your heart and building steady character in you so that you will be someone who is faithful and trustworthy and responsible and respectful. We dream big things for you little Avery Faith! I’ve already been blessed beyond measure being your mommy for 3 years so I can’t fathom what the future holds! Love you dearly my little A-Bug!
My precious Ella, you are turning 4 today! What a past year you have had my dear! You started preschool, got a new brother, got your first haircut, and can now put all your clothes on by yourself. You are growing and maturing so fast. You even like to paint your nails now. I love to look back at videos and pictures of you as a baby and pre-toddler, but I wouldn’t trade today for the world. The older you get the more I am learning about who you are, your God-given personality and interests. It makes me so look forward to the years to come. I know you will continue to grow in character and beauty.
Sometimes when I look at you I see myself; what I know in many ways I was like at your age. I see many aspects of my own natural personality in you. It is a very strange feeling that you will likely experience for yourself one day when you are a mom. Looking at a small version of yourself.
You are learning that it feels good to do the right thing, and you are proud of yourself when you (finally) try that new food, or let Avery have a turn with your things, or say thank you to an adult who says something nice to you. You still very much love people, and Daddy and I remark sometimes how sweet it is that you love young adults and our friends, and consider them your own friends. Some of your favorite people (there are many!) are Stacy Johnson, Linsey, Bree Deatheridge, Ms. Jovita, Tien, Cozette and Miss Casey.
You also love, love, love your preschool teachers Miss Keri and Miss Miranda (“Buranda”). When you started Kiddie Kampus in November of last year the transition was so easy because you loved it so much. Daddy goes in early to wake you up and as soon as you open your eyes you often ask “is it my school day?” and then you jump out of bed and get ready. I remember that first day watching you walk to daddy’s car with your backpack and ponytail and you just looked like a miniature 16 year old. Be still my heart.
You are starting to begin to understand context, like days of the week, months of the year, and our weekly family rhythm. Such as when we have BayKids, when you to go school, what are weekdays and weekends. I think this knowledge will help you a good deal because you very much like to know the plan. You have been known to fall apart when you ask what we are having for dinner and I have to say I don’t know yet or I haven’t decided. Might as well have taken your teddy bear. Plans are good for you. Especially plans you like. This makes it a bit challenging when there is a plan you are not especially fond of. We are working on communicating without whining and having a happy heart 🙂 You are very routined and structure is good for you. Even at such a small age. Daddy and I think its so cute how you get into the habit of asking the same thing every day at the same time, for example, for about 5 or 6 months you asked us almost every night the same question . . . “Mommy (or daddy) . . . when its morning time . . . can I have cereal?” And you also often say “Mommy and daddy I’ll be quiet” when we leave the room at night. (Whether or not you actually will!) And you had a long stent of waking up in the morning asking if it was “fwamwy day.”
You LOVE family day. You love to go places as a family like restaurants and go to the beach or the park. But your favorite thing to do at home is to watch a show or movie. Your favorite shows recently are Cat in the Hat and Octonauts. We often get pizza and pull you and Avery’s chairs into the living room so we can have movie night. You are in heaven.
You also LOVE BayKids. You are learning so much and we can truly see your faith in Jesus budding in your heart. You can tell us stories you’ve learning and you like to read the Bible. For a long time your favorite story in your Jesus Storybook Bible was the story of Joseph. You understand that Jesus is with you, that you can be brave, and that God made everything.
One of your most profound moments this past spring was when you had your first dentist appointment. Daddy and I tried our best to prep you for weeks in advance and help you prepare for what to expect (without really knowing too much!). I woke up that morning and prayed a spirit of bravery over you! I took you to the dentist myself and daddy stayed with Avery. Ella you were such a big girl. You blew me away. You looked at the nice ladies when they talked to you, and you never even cried. You started to when we first put you in that big chair all by yourself but you were ok with it if you could sit in my lap on the big chair. So you laid down on me and wore your eye protection glasses and watched Curious George while they worked in your mouth. Praise Jesus for flatscreens with Netflix. After it was all over I took you to target to get a special reward and you picked out a blue baseball bat 🙂 Girl after my own heart.
Another defining moment for you happened the day we went to the pumpkin patch to buy our pumpkins for fall. We did a hay maze, got ice cream, and rode a hay ride all together as a family. They had a train there with traincars made of blue barrels. There must have been 20 cars on that train, pulled by a huge tractor driven by a man you had never seen before, and you wanted to ride that train all by yourself. There were no other kids in line. Avery would have gone but she wasn’t tall enough. Daddy and I couldn’t believe you wanted to go by yourself, and it was even going to take you all through the corn fields where you would be far away and couldn’t see us. Probably an 8-10 min ride! We let you go on the condition that the driver would watch you closely and stop if you cried. I was so prepared for you coming back in tears, but we saw your little Bermuda hat coming around the corner and you were all smiles and thrilled with yourself for doing it! Daddy and I were so proud of you. Even writing it now I still can’t believe you did that! You showed how brave you really are. Made me so thankful for your BayKids teachers, who are helping us teach you that you can be brave because Jesus is with you.
I look forward with anticipation to see where life takes you and who you become. The future is so bright for you. The older you get, its true that life will bring many challenges, and fear knocks on the door of our hearts. But you can always remember that no matter what Jesus is with you so you can do hard things. You have what it takes because He made you and you are His. He always has the plan, and His plan is always good.
Welcome back for the third and final entry of my labor story, hope its been fun to read the details of something so personal and special to me. I love writing the labor stories because I get to relive these days as I write it, and it will be a record for each of our kids to read one day. If you are just joining, click here for part 1 and part 2.
So here’s where it gets good. The ever loving night that something finally happened!! Early in the morning of August 10th I was sleeping on the couch and David was on a twin air mattress next to me. My very pregnant self could not possibly get in and out of bed if I were sleeping on the air mattress! I got up to use the bathroom at 4:00am (like every third trimester mommy does) and I remember feeling soooo much pressure I had the thought “I can not believe my water is still intact with how much pressure I am feeling right now! Jesus please!” Then I got back settled and was drifting off to sleep when pop, there it went, fluid gushing everywhere. Felt like a huge water balloon gently breaking inside me. Sounds so gross, and it was, but it was the most gloriously beautiful gross moment I have ever experienced!!
We texted our doula and told her the water broke. She said just to get ourselves ready and drive straight to the hospital, she would meet us there (as opposed to coming to our house like she had with our previous two). I stood in the shower In my dripping wet clothes for what must have been 10 min trying to figure out what to do! I didn’t have contractions yet but could feel them brewing, so I figured I better take a quick shower while I had a chance!
So David and I woke up my parents and let them know what was going on and took off for the hospital. I rode all the way there sitting on a towel and wearing a size 5 diaper! It was epic. We arrived about 5:30am and got checked in and settled in our labor room. Contractions were coming pretty strong now and were just a couple minutes apart.
I did some various positions with the help of our doula to try and progress things. We tried something new this time at her suggestion that I had never done before which was pure gold. Pure gold, I tell you. During the contractions I would sit on the toilet and she had David sitting in front of me pushing up hard on my tummy with both hands and tucking the baby in and down. He would push for the intense part of the contraction only to work with it and move the baby. It hurt like #%&* but I am not kidding you folks I could feel that baby moving through me with each one. I could literally feel his head pushing fluid out of me as he descended down the birth canal. It was so effective that we sat there in the bathroom adjacent to the labor room for quite awhile doing the same thing with each contraction. David asked me after it was all over to try to explain what it felt like. The best I could describe was that it felt like he was pushing a baby through my pelvis! My challenge was to acutely feel the pain and make myself relax through it. A woman’s body is made for this. God is brilliant. Its just a matter of understanding how to work WITH your body and not against it. If I braced myself against the pain and resisted it, the contractions would not have been near as effective. So ironically at this stage in labor you have to WORK with all your will power to RELAX!
Well it wasn’t long until my body started another contraction just as the previous ones, but before that contraction was over I was pushing whether I wanted to or not! The long awaited urge to push is so strong you can’t not do it! Its like your body goes on autopilot! So once again, you get behind your body with all your might and work with it. This time instead of working to relax you are working to push as hard as you’ve ever pushed anything. Its hard work but nothing to be scared of. With my first baby I pushed for almost 4 hours. I was expecting to have to do this for a long time.
Well after about 2-3 pushing contractions with Tara (doula) and David in the bathroom with me, Tara was all the sudden very urgent about asking me whether or not I wanted to have this baby on the toilet or in the bed! I had to make a decision! I said BED! and out we came. My mom and friend Stacie were outside the bathroom chatting with our midwife Lin and all the sudden everyone is running everywhere and grabbing cameras and all the nurses are rushing in. I made it to the bed between contractions and they put me on my side and held up my right leg in the air. I pushed hard through 2 more contractions and his head came out! Then it was like one more time through and his body came out, face down like it should (or close enough)!
What a truly incredible feeling. There is nothing like it. Holding that baby on my chest and hearing him cry. Everyone is rubbing and wiping him down and checking his vitals and all I can do is leak tears of joy and relief. Nothing compares.
Then I asked for my apple. Because I always eat an apple after pushing out a baby. But that’s neither here nor there; here are some more pics, courtesy of my dear friend Stacie Wood. (You know your friend is a dear friend if you want them at the hospital as you birth a baby in all of your glory. Sarcasm intended on the glory part).
Well they put this child on the scale and folks he weighed 10 lbs and 7 oz! I am not kidding you. Everyone was so shocked. Most of all me, because the pushing part went so fast if I had to guess I would have said he was 8 lbs! I didn’t tear, had no cuts and no stitches. Natural delivery with no pain meds, no epidural. So over the next several hours as we are celebrating and taking pictures, I am putting it all together in my head and my heart.
I remembered Tara telling me on the phone several days before that half the work was done. The contractions I had been timing for a week prior, though they came and went, were still effective. They had a cumulative effect on my labor. If I had not had all those days of contractions, or if I had gone ahead and had my water broken to start the process, this labor would have likely been what I feared. It would have taken a huge toll on my body.
God knew what he was doing. All those days of waiting, confusion, disappointment all made sense now. I thought each day that went by was dooming me to experience my fear of having a large baby that would do more damage to my body on delivery. But it was the opposite. God was using each day to accomplish his plan. And his plan was perfect.all those days were the very reason the labor went so smooth and quickly.
I’m not saying every time it works like this. What I am saying is that trusting God is always a win. He knows best. He works for our good and His glory every time. Even when it doesn’t make sense.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight. -Proverbs 3:5-6
Welcome back. This is part two of my labor story, click here to catch up and read part 1.
So here we are, living in this holding pattern of timing contractions . . . watching them float away. Hearing promising news from the professionals . . . watching the days drift into nights. Seeing literal physical signs of the beginnings of labor almost day after day. Over and over having something that seemed to point to progress, but disappointment always following.
This was a really challenging time for me emotionally. If any of you have been there you know what I mean. The waiting seems like its going to last forever! But during these 12 days, there were two incredibly significant and personal moments I had with God as I was sitting at my kitchen table before anyone else was awake. Two things that I truly believe God communicated to me. I didn’t hear his audible voice, but he pressed these phrases clearly on my heart.
Stop pulling on my hand. One morning not long after my parents arrived I was sitting at my table journaling and praying, trying desperately to keep my heart connected to Jesus and putting truth in my heart to keep my perspective right. I felt very clearly that God whispered to me, “stop pulling on my hand. walk with me.” In that one moment I began to cry because he exposed the fear that was winning in my heart. I was afraid that every day my baby was growing bigger, and I was trying to control the process to begin labor because I wanted to. I thought it had to be this way. I had to make it happen because it was scary to completely trust God with his timing. But he gently called me to a new level of trust and asked me to simply walk with him. It melted me. I knew it was exactly what I needed.
Let me write it. Another one of those moments, about 4 days later, I was journaling again and praying, and I was asking God to give me a story to tell through this. Give me a glimpse into your heart and ways, God. Give me a story that will show everyone why this happened the way it did. And I sensed him gently press on my heart this phrase . . . then let me write it. He was reminding me that it didn’t matter what anyone was telling me. What all the professionals predicted, or even what evidence I had already accumulated for the labor process to be starting. His way is perfect, and it was His story to write. I was still scared, and definitely had a moment by moment struggle over that two weeks to surrender control and let my heart trust God completely. I failed at times and had plenty of tears and doubts and discouragement, but each time I could return to his promises and remind myself to stop pulling on His hand and let him write the story. Every time I was faithful to do that, peace flooded my heart and washed away the fear.
There were a few Scriptures that I held onto with white knuckles during this time. One was Isaiah 26:3 “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.” I would remember this Scripture sometimes hourly to keep my mind steadfast, because this truly was the only place I had real peace. And friends I can tell you I really did. Although it was extremely temping to doubt and fear, I’ll say it again . . . when I would remember to keep my mind steadfast and trust God through it, there was truly a peace that passed all understanding. What a gift.
As I’m writing this I’m going back through my journal. I was clinging to God’s word to get me through. I was just writing Scriptures down word for word many days because I knew that’s what I needed to keep my mind steadfast. Here are a few more I recorded and held onto tightly. . .
So how did it all end up? Oh my friend let me tell you how amazing it was. It blew me away and I would have never believed it if someone had told me how it would all go down. Actually I didn’t mention this but I was offered an ultrasound at 36 and 38 weeks to check the baby and try to estimate the size. I’ll just say I’m so glad I declined. Stick with me for part 3 coming tomorrow!
I’ve just given birth to my third baby . . . Andrew Gregory was born on August 10th and is almost 4 weeks old. As I’m making my final edits this morning he is paying his respects by spitting up all down the front of my nursing cami and I’ve changed 4 diapers in the past hour. This is my life. I have two beautiful girls as well, Ella (3 1/2) and and Avery (2). After each of them were born I wrote a detailed blog of their labor story. I’m so glad I did! Although it may be helpful and interesting for others to read I’m not gonna lie its mostly for me and for them to read one day. Andrew is our first boy, he was 10 lbs 7 oz and 21 inches long at birth, and he came with quite a story to tell. If you stick with this story you will see a message from God that came through so clearly. Walk with me, this is good stuff.
As I approached the end of my pregnancy with Andrew I had two main fears. The first was the fear of having another large baby. Every one of my babies has been large. Ella was 9 lbs 13 oz and Avery was 9 lbs 1 oz, both delivered naturally. So this time around I was really hoping for just an average 8 pounder. That would have been glorious. I knew I could give birth to another big baby somehow because my body has already done it twice, but I was scared to. Underneath it all was a real fear that if this baby was too big the labor would do more damage to my body and without going into too many details that was not a pleasant prospect!
In addition to this fear of having a large baby was the fear of having a large posterior baby. This is a pattern for me. My first baby was posterior (head down but facing basically front instead of toward my back) until the bitter end when she finally rotated and came out face down after almost 4 hours of pushing. My second baby was actually delivered facing up, or posterior. That was not a pleasant experience for me, although it was shorter, the delivery process was more painful in some ways. So as the due date grew closer I was really hoping and praying for an early delivery. Once I passed the 38 week mark I was trying all kinds of things to get this baby to come. All factors pointed toward the very real possibility that I could go into labor any time and that thought thrilled me. I knew the baby was plenty big and full term, so green light!
A hindering factor however was arranging overnight childcare for my two young girls. We talked to my parents on the phone and their already scheduled arrival to San Jose from Alabama was August 4th. My due date was the 7th. I made me SUPER nervous to think about them not being here on the ground when labor started, so after much discussion we all decided to move their tickets up 6 days to arrive on July 29th. This decision greatly reduced anxiety for me, and also built in extra time for them to be with the girls and visa versa, learning the bedtime routines and lunch foods and quirks that all toddlers have! We all figured it would be good to give them a few days to get into the routine and make everyone comfortable with the arrangement PRIOR to imminent labor. There was a peace and even seemed to be a spiritual confirmation that this was the right move. We felt this was a possible sign that things might be getting ready to happen!
Over the next two weeks I experienced the most up and down emotionally draining journey waiting for this baby.
- At my 38 week check I was starting to dialate and was 4cm and 70% effaced by my 39 week check. (I know this can be the case for weeks but its just another factor in a long list of things)
- At my 39 week check my midwife offered to meet me across the street at the hospital and break my water to get things going. (Tempting, but felt too aggressive to me, like I’d be taking control in a way that was too aggressive, since there was no medical reason to do so).
- Multiple trips to chiropractor who expressed her belief that this baby would come any day. She used “inductive” techniques that are pretty effective for bringing on labor).
- Mucus plug passed on Saturday August 1st! (typically believed to mean labor is 48-72 hours or less)
- I have SEVERAL scrap pieces of paper lying around that have my record of timing contractions. I was having contractions 7 min apart over a week in advance. Not just one day but almost every day!
- I purchased and was taking an all natural labor tincture suggested by my doula, I know its effective because I used it in lieu of pitocin with Avery’s labor and it worked like a charm to bring STRONG contractions. This time I took it for 5 days with no effect, at least that I could tell.
So here’s the situation. Every day for 12 days we all went to sleep hoping and expecting to wake up in labor. Have you ever seen the movie Groundhog Day? You know, Bill Murray waking up to the same song and experiencing the same day over and over? We lived it! My parents would come out in the morning day after day and we’d all look at each other and say well, here we are, what do you guys want to do today? Here are some pics of how we spent our days. We had a fan cleaning party, went to breakfast, played with sidewalk chalk, set up the water table outside for the girls, my mom went to my Breaking Free Bible study with me not once but twice, and we did lots of just, well, nothing.
Nothing made sense to me. I didn’t understand why God did it this way . . . until it was all over. Often we don’t get to have that clarity in hindsight, and we never do understand why things happen the way they do. But this time I saw. And I want you to see.
Come back tomorrow for part 2, I’ll share with you two clear and specific messages that God communicated to my heart during those days of waiting. Have you ever had this experience? You are swimming neck deep in your own thoughts and then BAM! There it is. A perspective from God that demonstrates how well He KNOWS you and what is in your brain.
He’s finally here! Announcing the arrival of our newest member of the family Andrew Gregory Hibiske! He was born on August 10th at 9:12am. He weighed 10 lbs 7 oz and was 21 inches long. Stay tuned for the labor story, it was quite unique!
My parents were in town to help with our 2 girls Ella and Avery, and they brought them up to the hospital to meet their brother. These girls are in love with him!
We chose the name Andrew because it comes from the greek word for “man”. It means manly, masculine, strong. Once we came across this name we couldn’t shake it. This is what we want most of all for our son. That he would represent in every way what was in the heart of God when he envisioned what a man should be. Masculine, leader, protector, bold and courageous, provider, shepherd, respectable, dependable, taking responsibility for family, church and community, hard worker.
As a wife, I believe my husband embodies all of these characteristics and nothing would thrill me more than for little Andrew to grow up to be just like his daddy.
Andrew in the New Testament was also the first disciple to join Jesus. While he was likely unsure of what all of it meant, he demonstrated faith and boldness to step out with his brother Peter as the first ones to say YES to Jesus and give up everything to follow him.
Andrew Gregory, we are praying great things for you as well as your sisters, that you will love Jesus and pursue him with your whole life!
You are turning 3 years old! I can hardly believe it. I just spent a few minutes reading through the letter I wrote to you when you turned 2. You are my only ever first baby! You are growing so beautifully. So many fun things have come out of you this year! You have so much joy, one of my favorite things about you is how much you love people. You get so thrilled when someone is coming over, even if it is one of my friends. Everyone is your friend. When you see a child in public you call them your friend. You have such a loving heart toward people and also toward your sister. We’ve watched you learn to share and although its hard sometimes and it really stretches you, you will often make the right choice to give and share things that are yours with Avery. She hasn’t learned to do the same yet, but don’t worry, that’s on her agenda for this year!
Last year one of our biggest challenges with you was food, and I would still say it is a challenge, but you have improved significantly. One thing we have learned is that you really don’t need as much in your tummy as we thought. You often decide you are done with dinner after eating 4 or 6 bites of something. And you still sleep all night! You do LOVE going to restaurants. You also LOVE watching people more than eating which has caused us to adopt the strategy of facing you towards the wall in restaurants when we can. Not sure it makes a difference though 🙂 You are more willing to try new things, at least once, and we have taught you to say the phrase “challenge accepted!” We are praying for Jesus to develop a heart of bravery in you. You have what it takes to be brave and try new things. We want to see your heart develop in trusting mommy and daddy, and trusting Jesus to be with you always.
You started the process of potty training this year which has been . . . fun. We are taking it slow, which seems to be your style. Daddy started giving you two sixlets for going #2 in the potty which is exciting for you, but not enough to really increase the odds of that happening 🙂 You did go potty for the first time in a public place when were in Carmel with Nonna and Poppa just a couple weeks ago. That was a big deal! You also slept in a big girl bed for the first time at the house we stayed in down there. Daddy told you to stay in the bed when you wake up in the morning, and to call for him and he would come get you. So you did just that. You woke up early and screamed his name. We were so proud of you!
You love to play with Avery in the bath tub and you love to be “nice and cozy” when you come out. You like us to wrap you up and you say “hold me like a baby” and we carry you all wrapped up in your towel like a burrito. One of the funniest things you’ve been saying this year is when you are trying to understand which way something goes you say “this way? Or this way? This way? This way?” Back and forth like 4 or 5 times. You’re getting a little better now but at first it didn’t matter what answer you got, you were just gonna keep asking. Too funny.
We took a 2 week trip this summer to Indiana and to Alabama. You got to see Jax and Aurora, and also got to meet your cousins on Daddy’s side and catch frogs at Gma and Gpas house. You loved watering the plants outside with Gma and we have such cute pictures of the two of you playing together. Mimi and Doowah came to stay with you and Avery at our house while mommy and daddy went to Hollywood for a few days. That was your first time being away from us that long, but you and Avery both did so good! You had a blast going to Chick-fil-A and In-N-Out and the park.
You are growing in your understanding of Jesus too. The other day we were having a muffin that the Feffers brought to us and I asked you if you knew who made that muffin. I thought you would say “Jo!” but you looked at me without skipping a beat and said “God!” I laughed out loud it was so cute. You love going to South Bay Church and you cry sometimes when we have to leave BayKids. Ms. Jovita has been caring for you and Avery every Tuesday morning this year while I am in meetings. You love her and also Mrs. Suad who comes to our house sometimes on Saturday nights. You bake and make crafts with her and cry when she has to leave to go home.
It has been so fun to watch you mature in your behavior too. You are trustworthy. I can ask you to stay in a place or hold onto Avery’s stroller or do this or that and you will do it. (90% of the time, which I think is exceptional for your age!) This is why I am comfortable with having a third baby this fall. (You don’t know that yet!) I can’t wait to tell you and to watch you watch me grow a baby. You will be such a good helper for mommy, and such a good big sister.
You are a precious gift to our family. I love your heart. I can’t wait to see what the future holds. You will always be my only ever first baby.
Sweet Avery Faith,
Your middle name is Faith because I didn’t know I was pregnant with you until I was half way done! I felt you kicking in my tummy and that’s how I knew I was pregnant! Nonna and Poppa were visiting and they went with us to the doctor when we found out I was 20 weeks and 5 days. That will always be a part of your unique story in our family. Always remember that sometimes we don’t see what God is working behind the scenes. My labor with you was interesting because you came out posterior, facing up instead of down! You were 9 lbs 1 oz and beautiful as can be.
You rolled over for the first time when Mimi and Doowah were here just after your 5 month birthday. You love to have your head up when you’re getting your diaper changed so you have really strong abs. Everyone laughed so much at how you would plank yourself and refuse to lay your head down when on your back. You spit up all the time until you were about 8 months and you always had to wear a bib. We did laundry almost every day! You LOVED to be swaddled for sleeping as a baby, and we didn’t wean you off of your swaddle until you started rolling over. You got your first teeth on the bottom at 6 months and your top ones came through after your 9 month check up.
Everyone was so impressed with how fast (speed) you crawled! You love to chase your sister around the house and you laugh and laugh when she plays with you. After Ella’s nap I bring you in to her bed and you guys play and giggle and I can hear it wherever I am in the house. I love that when I’m in the kitchen cooking you will tug on my leg and climb up to stand next to me. You’re my little kitchen buddy when Ella is sleeping. Your daddy and I laugh every time we open the dishwasher because no matter where you are in the house you are like a moth to a flame and come crawling around the corner to try to get into things you aren’t supposed to be into!
You LOVE to roll over when you’re getting your diaper changed and you also are quick with your hands so we have to be careful! You started playing peekaboo at about 10 months, and started signing “all done” and “more” at about 11 ½ months. You waved goodbye for the first time also around then, and learned to clap when Baby Claire Stevens came over and taught you how.
The biggest challenge we have had with you is your nighttime sleep. The only baby we had to compare to was Ella though, and she was extremely early and consistent in sleeping through the night. You have been so especially sensitive to being over-tired! If you don’t get enough sleep in the daytime you like to wake up at night and cry really loud. Luckily your sister is a hard sleeper and usually doesn’t even stir when we get you out of the room. You would get on these habits or routines of waking up in the middle of the night and I’d have to nurse you to get you to go back to bed. You did it from about 6-8 months, then again from 9-10 months, then again from 10 ½ to 11 ½ months! And we tried everything! There is a limit to how much we can let you cry because you are in Ella’s room. But we finally figured something out that might have made a difference. We padded your pack and play more and it seems to be helping. You have been doing great ever since then. So happy birthday, you got a comfortable bed to sleep on, poor thing! What if that was it all along! I don’t know, but I’m glad for all our sakes that its working so far. To your daddys credit, he did mention that to me months ago and your hard-headed mommy didn’t listen. But now I think he was right! I do best when I just listen to him and do what he says. You probably will too, little princess.
One of the things we’ve enjoyed most about you is your eating! You will eat anything we give you and you don’t really refuse anything except sometimes baby food because you want what’s on our plates! You love avocado, eggs, and banana especially.
You started walking just a week or two before your one year birthday, and you are certain you are talking, though you don’t have any words yet. Often you repeat things with the same general sounds and the same number of syllables, like “bubble” and “daddy.”
I love how you cuddle. You’ll lay your head down on my chest or on my shoulder just to take a little rest and I love the shape of your mouth, its like a little rosebud. One of my absolute favorite things that you do is squeal and do this crazy head shake when I’m on the floor chasing you. You have so much excitement and joy you can’t contain it.
You are such a blessing to our family. I can’t wait to see what your first word will be, what you will look like when you are two years old, and where life takes you. You are loved more than you could ever know. I can’t imagine life without you. You light up my world, little A-Bear.
Helium is the gas we use to fill up party balloons. It is also the illustration of a lesson I have learned today about prayer and faith. I feel compelled to tell you about it because it’s one of those spiritual lessons that come straight from God’s heart to yours in a way that you can understand and apply immediately.
Backstory: I posted a blog called BELIEVE not long ago, sharing about how God was embossing this word on my heart, branding me with this directive to BELIEVE Him. Awesome right? Its great to get a directive from God because then you know what to do! Yes. So I said sure, God. I want to believe. Show me. . . Well this lesson is still evolving for me. I’ll tell you how. This is hot off the press. I learned this lesson after I started drinking the coffee sitting next to me and there is still some in the cup.
The illustration: What I am beginning to understand is that faith is like helium gas. Think about this with me . . . If you have a helium tank in a large room and you begin to release the gas from the nozzle, what happens? The helium comes out and diffuses all over the room. It fills the space, but if the space is too big, the helium doesn’t have much effect at all. It is still helium when it comes out of the tank but it isn’t very useful.
However, if you put a balloon on the nozzle of the tank, you can fill that balloon up fast and it has pressure inside that takes it somewhere. The helium has a specific space to fill. It fills that space and has power.
The application: I have had general “open space” faith since God gave me that gentle directive to BELIEVE back in the fall. (I make it all caps because this word is set apart for me this year. It is literally my word of the year!) However . . . I have not demarcated any defined space for my faith. I was recently convicted in my heart by the question “what prayer circles are you drawing currently?” I didn’t have an answer. My prayers have been vague and general at best.
The point: Drawing a prayer circle gives faith a space to fill and increases its power. General prayers and vague requests are not inspiring to God, and they are not the kind of faith God is moved to bless. Specific prayers force us to define what it is we want from God, and helps us know what we are believing for. Not to mention how we will know that God has answered!
Why this is so remarkable to me today: I felt God dropping this analogy on my heart before I picked up my Circle Maker book and read chapter 3. This is exactly what chapter 3 is about. If you want to go deeper on this, pick up the book and read the third chapter! God is doing something in me, and I am sure he will do something in you as well. He is pleased with bold, specific faith.
What’s next: Now my efforts are focused on doing three things. . .
- Searching for and compiling God’s promises.
- Defining my own desires and dreams to see these promises fulfilled in my life, family and ministry.
- Connecting the dots. Or, as I should probably say, drawing the circles.
I’ll tell you one thing, my friend. I am excited to see what prayer circles I feel compelled to draw in the next few weeks. Thankful for a God who isn’t satisfied to leave me the way I am. Thankful he wants more for me than I want for myself. Otherwise He wouldn’t be opening my heart to this.
Join me in these 3 things above! Lets find God’s promises and having the faith to make specific prayers about what we want God to do. He may not answer the way we envision he will, but we can know that he will. Here is a promise to get us started!
“This is the confidence that we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us–whatever we ask–we know that we have what we asked of him.” -1 John 5: 14-15.
There you go, straight from the horse’s mouth.