31 Days of Writing

Day 31: New To Two Finale

It has finally arrived - the last day in the 31 Days of Writing Challenge.

This month of October has completely flown by for me! Not sure how much of this was because of this New to Two role of mine, and how much had to do with the writing challenge.

The fact that I managed to post something every single day, before the midnight deadline, is beyond shocking to me! It has really helped me feel accomplished in one area of my life. Granted, this blog is overall one of the least important aspects of my life, but these days accomplishment does not come easily or readily, so I will gladly take it where I can.

I wasn't able to write posts on about half of the subjects that I had outlined for myself at the beginning of this journey. Most days just didn't allow for deep, though provoking, or soul baring writing. However, my main goal in joining this challenge was to record life, memories, thoughts, and emotions of this time in our life - adjusting to having two kids, under the age of two. And I feel like I did that. Even while traveling!

As luck would have it, I had great plans for this final post. And great plans for this final day of October.  You guessed it - not going to happen.

I've started working out again, and realized very quickly if I am to keep it up, and not ruin my favorite 3 o'clock hour ( I detest working out, and doing so during the 3 o'clock hour would completely ruin my "me time") I am going to have to get up earlier then the girls. Earlier starts to the morning also need to happen just to help life run more smoothly around here.

This morning I had my alarm set for a not too early of a time so I could get in my work out before we started the day. I have a long list of small tasks to accomplish today, as well as an evening full of plans. All of this should have gone smoothly, thanks to the plan in place.

As luck would have it, I woke up at 3:30 am with a splitting barometric pressure headache. Having a brain/head that is a freaking measurer of barometrics is not my idea of a desirable talent, but its what I have been given. When Quinn's 5 am feeding rolled around, my head hurt even worse, and I felt like I hadn't slept at all due to the headache. I turned off the alarm. The work out would have to wait until 3.

As I was eating breakfast, I got a text that Ellie's day long outing to the grandparents (aka a mom's saving grace!) was cancelled due to cases of the fall sickies. The to-do list would have to wait until… my youngest is 2 yrs old. And yes, that statement is overly dramatic.

When I started the month of October, and this writing challenge, I thought/hoped that the end of this month would find us in our groove. Schedules would be kept, errands run, chores completed, re-entry into society would be running smoothly, etc… Ha!

In all honesty, things are more disorganized now in many ways, then when this month started. But thats  because we have re-entered society. Errands are being run. Chores do get completed, just way past when they should have been. And because Ellie has decided now is the time to not only protest the very existence of her baby sister, but also take up pitching fits at any moment of day for any given reason, and often for no reason at all. Hello toddler-hood!

The only thing Ellie semi-enjoys about Quinn right now are her dirty diapers. She takes great delight in throwing "Shoonies" away. However, the slightest coo or whimper from Quinn sets Ellie off into a full on scream fest. You can imagine how things spiral from there.

Dear Lord, serenity NOW!

And while I realize this is a completely normal developmental adjustment, I know my daughter, and realize I need to do a better job incorporating her in Quinn's care and routines.

I am hoping and praying, that just like all other times in life, this is just a phase. Plus, I also realize that we were out of town for 5 days, and came home with an awful case of strep throat that resulted in a massive allergic reaction to penicillin. Its not been an easy past week for any of us.

As the mom, I set the tone for the house for the day, sometimes even down to the minute. It is more necessary now then ever before that I make sure I am taking care of myself, and cultivating my relationship with Christ on a daily, somedays even hourly, basis.

The role as a mom makes you hit your knees unlike anything I have ever experienced. Ten trips to time out in an hour (the first hour after breakfast), and the toddler is still doing the exact thing she keeps getting in trouble for, can make you feel like a complete and epic failure of a mom. Quite possibly a candidate for the worst mom in the whole world award.

In addition to being spiritually healthy, being mentally, emotionally, and physically healthy is also important as a mom. Seeing the numbers on the scale at your 6 weeks appointment, and having them swirl before your eyes every time you try to find an outfit to wear, will do a number on you mentally and emotionally. It is possible to still be carrying around the tons of pounds of water weight you obtained after giving birth due the massive volume of fluids you were bolused with, right?? If the answer is no, hush your mouth. Its what I am telling myself for now.

While I had hoped this post would be full of goals accomplished, awesome insights realized, and tips for how to survived the New to Two role, we just aren't there.

Fortunately, God started working on my need to adjust my relationship with expectationsbefore I entered this new role.

Yes, I still battle self doubt, insecurities, and experience disappointments on the regular. But I also am learning to more readily stay flexible, and to adjust my expectations on the fly. As I am closing up shop, so to speak, in the evenings, I think this, this, and that is what I would like to do tomorrow, but we will just take it an hour at a time, and see what all the day has in store.

The month of October I wanted to write daily and settle into a productive schedule and routine. Well, I did write daily. Our routine is somewhat better. Quinn is at least sleeping better at night. Productivity is hit or miss, depending on the day.

So looking ahead to the month of November, the month of giving thanks, I want to do just that. Live thankfully.

Yesterday, I sent this to Jared:
"coot" is how Ellie says "cute":)

He is right - I will have years, later, to shower before 5 pm. I want to the be thankful in the days where the house is a disaster, I am unshowered, and the girls are wild and emotional. After all, this is what I prayed for and wondered if I'd ever get to experience.

Our interactions with the college ministry are picking up again, as we re-enter society. Life is getting really really busy, and we aren't even into the Holiday swing of things yet. Here is an overview of our week:

- Sunday: church/family day
- Monday: Main service on campus in the evening
- Tuesday: A few students come over in the evening to watch the shows we DVR for them:)
- Wednesday: our own "adult" small group
- Thursday: Bible studies on campus
- Friday: late morning play date. Evenings, usually visits with family or college kids, or family time
- Saturday: UT football, family time, household stuff, etc…

Yes, that is a pretty full schedule! But its a life we love.

In addition to being Thankful, I also want to accomplish some other simple goals:
  • do my own personal Bible Study every day (I am think about doing She Reads Truth's James study on youversion.com) 
  • get up before the girls
  • work out 3-5 days a week for at least 30 minutes.
Those three things are tasks whose completion is nearly solely dependent on me. I can't blame my girls as the reasons for not getting them done. Accomplishing them most of the time will help me be a better wife, mom, and a better me. I am going to give myself grace to not accomplish them perfectly, or even daily. I somehow managed to write on this blog daily, so I have proved that I can do something daily if I really want to.

I have shared this picture before, but I love it so much, I am sharing it again.

In order to be thankful life doesn't have to be perfect. In fact, I think true thankfulness can be found more fully in the gaps and imperfections of life, with Christ.

I am not sure how many people, if any, read along with me this month, but for those of you who suffered along through it - thank you. I do plan on continuing to blog, but definitely not daily. That would bore y'all to tears! Maybe 2-6 times a month? We shall see.

Its been fun! Off to do some "toddler time" activities before Quinn wakes back up again!

Day 30 : when a nurse becomes a mom

Being a pediatric nurse can be a great asset in motherhood. Not only for your immediate family, but also for your other friends who are moms.

I love getting calls, texts, and emails from other moms asking questions or for advice on various childhood health and illness issues. 

I love these communications because I love the many acts of the nursing profession! One of my favorite aspects of the job was always the patient education aspect. Followed closely by broadening and deepening my own knowledge base. Helping out my mom friends encourages the continuation of both these interests.

My husband probably doesn't appreciate my skill and knowledge set as much. He is convinced I only have sympathy for illness if you've had your chest cracked open, have drains pouring out at least three orifices, or are currently receiving CPR. While this is not the case, it is true that I have no fear of a sinus infection or a stomach bug bringing any realitivly healthy person anywhere near death.

This pretty much sums up our family's interaction with medical establishments, when I do the decision/appointment making:)

Jared comes from a family with a... shall we say healthy relationship with all establishments medical, while growing up my family was doing good just keeping up to date with immunizations. 

There have been more then a few times he has second guessed my decisions about not contacting a medical practitioner (but to date, its always turned out just fine). Overall he goes with my gut in the end. After lots of repeated explanations on my part. 

While I am very confident in handing out advice to others and helping our friends come up with a plan of action, I am also very comfortable saying I don't know, check with your doc. In the end though, it's their choice what to do - to get checked out, or just treat and watch at home.

Funny thing is that when it comes to my kids I do find i second guess myself. And it's not that I second guess my nursing know-how. I second, triple, and quadruple guess my mothers intuition.

I still have way more confidence in my experience as a nurse then in my experience as a mom

All my life, I have always been far more comfortable with things of the head as opposed to matters of the heart. 

When I would help prepare my patients family's to take home their babies after major open heart surgery, we had  huge list of signs and symptoms to watch for and report, things to do, things to avoid, medications to give, schedules and appointments to keep, CPR to certify, etc… But in the end, I always concluded each discharge teaching session with, "but you are the mom - you know you baby better then anyone. If something seems off to you that is not on this list, do not hesitate to call us about it.

And I still believe a mom does know her child better then anyone. I believe this is true for me and my children.

So why do I triple and quadruple guess myself when making medical decisions for my kids?

Well, first of all, most of my experience comes from giving other moms advice based on what they have told me about their kids and what their gut saying. I use the info they give me and combine it with my nursing knowledge to formulate a plan. My nursing knowledge is way more experienced then my mommy intuition has yet to become.

Second of all, when its my kids its just me, myself, and I giving the advice to my mother's intuition. And let's be honest, that's just way too much Amy for any one person to really handle.

There is probably a little bit of pride mixed in there too. You know, not wanting the be that nurse who can't tell the difference between a common childhood cold and their kid dying.

In her first year of life, Ellie had an ear infection at 4 months of age. Other then a few minor runny noses it was the only time she was sick or on antibiotics. I found out about the ear infection at her 4 month well child exam. Clearly, I had no idea she had an ear infection. Shehad a cold with a low grade fever a few days prior, but all those symptoms had cleared up. I am fairly convinced the ear infection was viral, not bacterial, but still… I didn't know she was still sick. I apologized profusely to her doctor and to Ellie. The pediatrician looked at me like I was crazy.

About 5 months later, Ellie was either teething, having a really bad 3 days in a row, or she had an ear infection, and I had no clue which it was. And we were getting ready to go out of town. So I did what drove me batty when I worked in a pediatrician's office, I called for a Friday afternoon appointment to make sure my kid wasn't sick before heading out of town. Its pretty much the equivalent of sending your custom ordered plate back at a restaurant because you forgot to mention you wanted the dressing on the side. Except as nurses, we can't spit on anything related to you because we understand germs too well… and you would probably get sick and have to be seen again next Friday afternoon.

Anyway, I had to interrupt Ellie's nap to take her in to be seen, because my pediatricians office is amazing and is always able to somehow work you in. And her ears looked perfect. I just had a fussy, coming into her own attitudinal self, 9 month old, who was now sleep deprived, on my hands.

Again, I apologized to the nurse practitioner profusely about taking up her time when she could have been tending to patients who really needed it. Thankfully, she is a young mom herself. She looked and me and said,"Amy, you are a great nurse, but first and foremost you are a wonderful mom. You can't always been the medical expert for your kids. That's what we are here for. But you are always the expert for your kid. You knew something was wrong, you thought we could help. Unfortunately, and thankfully, there is not we can treat Elliott for, but I have complete confidence you will come up with a perfect plan of care for her when you get home."

Without knowing it, she hit on a deeply seeded mistruth I tend to believe about myself - I need to be practically perfect.

The arrival of Quinn has helped solidify me more deeply into the role of mom. Plus, with two babies under the age of two, I need more help then when I just had Ellie. While I may still have dreams of perfection, I am well aware that it is no where near a viable option.

This past week, Ellie has had strep throat, and through this process I have realized several things - I am a good nurse; I make mistakes; my mommy intuition has gotten better; and even though I am good nurse; I still need medical help.

Here is how the past 7 days have gone. Thursday, Ellie woke up with a low grade fever, but no other symptoms. Odd. Usually childhood fall illness involves congestion at least. That night, I gave her what I thought was ibuprofen to help keep her comfortable as she slept. Unfortunately, since I buy dye free medication, I got confused and grabbed acetaminophen, but dosed her based on ibuprofen. Y'all, I never  made med errors when I worked, and now I can't give the most basic of OTC meds to my kids without over dosing them!!!

Come to find out, I had not overdosed her as I had also hadn't paid attention to the concentration. Miraculously, I had somehow given her the exact right dose. As a result, she was just fine, slept great, and Tylenol and Ibuprofen are now kept in separate places.:)

The next morning, she woke up screaming. And screamed for two hours straight. Her fever was 104. Then she started pull at her ears saying "Ooooowwwweeeee." I am usually a watch for at least 12-72 hours with fever before call the doctor type person, but I listened to my mommy intuition and called.

Raging strep throat.

Quick fix with some amoxicillin. Everything was looking good until Sunday when we noticed Ellie look like she had just woken up from a life long sleep all day long. Her eyes were so puffy.

They were worse the next day, plus her face looked a little swollen. These are the first signs she exhibits when she accidentally comes in contact with eggs, which she is allergic to. When I changed her diaper I noticed a very odd looking rash. It did not look or act like strep-type rash, or an antibiotic reaction rash. But something besides strep was clearly going on with her. So back to the doctor we went.

Atypical reaction to penicillin… most likely. 

Before I could even start my apologies the nurse practitioner stopped me by saying," Don't even think about apologizing, we aren't even sure she is in fact allergic to penicillin, as this isn't a typical reaction type rash."

Just like it took time for me to become confident in my roll as a nurse, it is going to take time in becoming confident in my role as a mom. And I need to be ok with that.

In the meantime, we may just show up to the doc a little unnecessarily, and maybe a tad too late sometimes.

And that's ok.

This is really old picture of Ellie, but one of my favorites

Day 29: swag wag

We added a new member to the family this weekend.

brand new member.

Our old faithful Mazda is no longer in our ownership.

Or as I like to say, it took steroids and POOF!!!

Meet the new Ross-mobile! A Brand new minivan! Or swag wag.

I don't think I have ever had any cool points, but if I did, I have now lost them in joining the ranks of the minivan driving moms.

Somehow this status strikes me as more adult-like then the fact that we have two daughters.

Yes, that strikes me as strange too.

What is even more crazy is the fact that this vehicle will more than likely be driving me and Jared into our 40's!! Uh, Yikes!

It is worth mentioning that my husband bought this vehicle without me ever driving it or even seeing it... And with my complete blessing. 

I really could not care less about what car I drive, especially in regards to a minivan. A van is a van. As a busy babysitter through high school and college I have driven just about every make and model van there is. A van is a van is a van.

We had decided our next purchase would be a van, in spite of the fact that Jared has sworn our entire marriage he would never buy a minivan (never say never honey, God laughs!). Once that decision was made, and we narrowed our choice down to two "brands," I knew I needed very little say in the situation.

I just didn't want a bright red or bright blue van, if it could be avoided.

I can not stand the car buying process. The haggling, smoozing, the lets-make-a-deal-ing. I assume 75% of what the dealership tells me is a lie. And driving around with the salesmen is just awkward.

So when Jared found some potential options online that he wanted to see, I told he to go alone. I completely trusted him.

And I didn't want to disturb the nap schedules of the tiny humans... The oldest one recovering from strep.

So I either have the worods most trustworthy husband, or I am totally lazy.

Or both.;)

I have never owned a brand new car. So naturally I am terrified to drive it, having convinced myself that since I have never been in a wreck, let alone received a ticket, my time has come and I will wreck our brand new vehicle.

Because that is rational thinking!

checking out her new ride

I think she likes it!

Thanks Daddy, for our our Swag Wag!

Day 28: The Finale of The Prolonged-Early Arrival of Quinn Collins, Part 3

Finally, let's see if we can get this series wrapped up! Click on the links to read Part 1 and Part 2.

Sept 5, 2013

I got up around 4:45am in the morning to make sure I got a complete shower and shave in, along with a touch of make up before giving birth… you never know how long the labor process is going to take and how you will be feeling afters, or what state you will be in. I can probably count on one hand the number of times I have not gotten to shower in a day, in the last 5 years. Yes, even when I have the flu or am newborn-baby-sleep-deprived, I shower. Showering daily is basically in my DNA. Besides, labor makes you not only feel awful, but look terrible! A little mascara can go a long way to helping a girl feel a tad better about herself.

As I was getting dressed, I told Jared I was really glad today was the day, as I didn't feel like Quinn was being active enough for my liking. Again, she was reactive, but her own independent motions seemed dramatically diminished. And again, I felt like my abdomen was tiny in comparison to what it had been before.

Oddly, I was not have experiencing any pain contractions. I remember thinking great, I have been miserable all week with contractions, and now that I really need them to work for me, they quit.

Just my luck.

By 6:30 am, I was in a hospital gown, hooked up to a fetal monitor, and having my IV placed. It felt so different from the last time, when it was all new and unknown. Instead, it felt like just yesterday that we had been here for Ellie Faith's birth.

Some of the same nursing staff were there from last time, and remembered us. Everyone seemed to think this labor would progress much like Ellie's, and that Quinn would be in our arms between 12-2pm. I continued to prepare myself for something different, like a marathon of a long labor.

The monitor showed mild, but consistent contractions, and Quinn's heart rate was holding rock solid steady at 145. Exactly were she had hung out the entire pregnancy.

Good, she is just fine. Probably just a little tired, like her mom, from all this stupid prodromal labor nonsense. 

This greatly relaxed me. Once I could hear my baby second by second, I had the constant reassurance she was ok. Now, I just started to prepare for, and dread, the labor aspect.

I had made a  Labor Playlist, much like I had prior to Ellie's birth, but I opted for a quiet room for now, in hopes of getting some rest.

Side note: when I had been making this playlist Jared thought he would be sooooo witty by saying he knew what my labor theme song would be this time: Roar by Katy Perry. The glare I gave him nearly made myself a widow. Needless to say, that song did not make the cut.

Jared and I tried to catch a few minutes of sleep during the nurses shift change, before the pitocin got started, and the "real" fun began.

My day shift nurse was Rose, and she was about to become my new BFF, ally, and advocate. She was pure Bostonian - thick accent, catholic, and cussed like a sailor. But kind of grandmother-ish too. She was awesome! The nurse in me could tell instantly this woman knew what she was doing, and she did a good job doing it.

Sometimes when I am in a medical setting I don't tell people about my own nursing background. Just depends on the situation. In this situation, I wanted everyone to know, in case Quinn got compromised, something went wrong, etc… I wanted the real facts, and I wanted them quickly and succinctly. I didn't need much in way of wordy explanations. I also wanted them to realize I was capable of making informed decisions. This ended up really paying off in the end.

Rose and I chit-chatted about all things of the nursing profession, while Jared sat back and made of us and rolled his eyes.  I gave a pretty short but detailed description of my labor with Ellie, so Rose understood what my goals and expectations were this go around… and that I wasn't the quietest of laboring patients.  (Hence the Roar theme song suggestion.)

One of the main things I wanted really wanted to be different with this labor was to keep my bag of water intact as long as possible.

"So when are you going to start my pitocin?" I finally asked.

This was when Rose told me that she had decided to wait until the midwife arrived on the floor to start pitocin, even though she already had the orders in hand.

Apparently, I had been listening to Quinn's heart beat with my mommy ears and not mynurse's ears. While Quinn's heart rate was holding steady at 145, she was not having any accelerations after my contractions. In fact, she had had a few decelerations already. For the lay person, late decelerations tend to indicate placental insufficiency, and poor blood flow.

I wasn't too concerned when I heard this. If anything it just reassured me that I was right in noticing that Quinn's movements and actions had changed and that is was definitely time for her to come out.

By the time my midwife arrived, there had been a few more decelerations on the monitor. After talking through it, we decided we would in fact go ahead and break my water, while holding off on the pitocin. The thought being that breaking the water might self induce my labor/speed up and intensify my contractions more naturally then pitocin, which can be hard on the placenta. Also, my OB-GYN was in surgery, so on the off chance something went wrong, we wanted him as readily available as possible.

Because of the decelerations, they wanted me to stay in bed to keep a close eye on Quinn, so no walking around.

Right off the bat, I was having to let go of any ounce of control I had hoped to maintain.

They had a much harder time breaking my water this go around, because apparently there wasn't much amniotic fluid left, as it pretty much just trickled out, as opposed to the typical gush. I was 4 cm dilated and 90% effaced. It was around 7:45ish.

I don't really remember the exact times of things after this point. My mom showed up at some point, but I don't remember exactly when.:)

Around 9:30-45, decels were still happening, and my contractions hadn't picked up a whole lot. They decided to do an amnio-infusion (place a catheter between the baby and my uterus to infuse warm liquid to help ease the strain of labor on Quinn) as well as place a scalp monitor just to make sure the decels were in fact decels. I was around 5 cm.

FYI scalp monitors hurt like crazy!!!! My advice, do everything possible to avoid them unless you have an epidural. Good Gosh, it was awful. I am sure the addition of the catheter through  my cervix to my uterus wasn't helping either. In addition to natural labor. Just a few too many things going on down there for my liking!

As luck would have it the infuser they needed for the amnio-infusion was in use in surgery, the second floor set up was no where to be found, and central supply in the main hospital was "coming with it" for over 1.5 hrs.:) So the infusion never got started. Those who have worked in a hospital setting understand this scenario with all too much familiarity.

Around 10:30, my OB-GYN came in to check on us. He hemmed and hawed with Rose and the midwife looking over my contraction and Quinn's heart rate graphs. He felt confident that Quinn was fine now, and that it was more an issue of my placental blood flow. The big question was, how long could we go on like this, and how would my placenta and Quinn react to transition.

After the doctor left, Jared did what he always does when we find ourselves in these medical situations - he asked me, "so what do you think?" My answer was short and to the point, "Probably a c-section."

About this time my contractions kicked it up many notches. I was having to close my eyes and breathe through them. They were coming every 5-7 minutes and lasting for 45-90 secs. I could not move comfortably with those dang chords and wires hanging out of my crotch, so I couldn't rock, which is the motion I prefer during contractions. But I was somehow able to go completely limp, and just breathe extremely deep with each wave of contractions. I was willingthose babies to work for all they were worth with every cell in my body.

In spite of all the in and outs of medical staff, changing of plans, and beeping of monitors, the room was extremely calm. The lights were low, people spoke quietly, and it was just pretty chill. No panic. We hadn't turned on my Labor Playlist. Instead I think Jared and were just both continually praying silently for peace, safety, and wisdom.

Even as Jared and I began to discuss, what I figured was a rapidly approaching c-section, we both were completely matter of fact and unemotional (in the way of negative emotion). I decided that even if they decided to continue to let me labor, especially with pitocin, that I was going to get an epidural.

My thought process was that if I ended up needing an emergency c-section, an epidural already in place was my best chance of avoiding general anesthesia. Plus, I know how important it is to relax in order for labor to progress. Even though I was overall calm, I was worried about my baby, and knew that worry would only increase the longer she was inside me, and that labor can make you loose all rationale.

It was after 11 when my midwife and OB came back in on things. The amnio-infusion equipment was still unavailable. My ob decided to do an exam to see if I had progressed at all.

Let's take a moment here to note that I have never had a cervical exam done by a man. Let's also point out the fact that every time my midwife did my exam, she made sure she waited until my contractions were over. I should also note that I love my OB, and think he is the best at what he does! However…

This is how that exam went:

OB: oh I see you are having an contraction, a good one too…..
        WONK - up to his elbow in my va-jay-jay!

I am quite sure a levitated off the bed. Good news, I was 7.5 cm and completely effaced. Bad news, I am quite sure I will never let a man give me cervical exam every again… unless he has hands the size of a 12 year old, below average sized boy.

By now my contractions really hurt. Fun fact, once you decide you are going to get an epidural, you loose the ability to mentally go the place you need to go to handle the pain of contractions leaves, like it was never there at all.

My OB said he was willing to let me attempt to labor for an hour with a low dose of pitocin, with close monitoring. He thought I could potentially deliver in an hour or two, since I had already progressed so quickly, and reacted so favorably to pitocin with Ellie. As he was saying this, Quinn had one of longest decels yet, and I looked at him and said, "I think she needs to get out, now."

What transpired next is a blur. I stayed curled up on my side with my eyes closed breathing through contractions.

Surgical apparel was thrown at Jared and mom helped him garb up.

Nurses were in and out of my room, taking things out of me, putting in new things, prepping, etc… then I was being wheeled into the OR. And that's when I finally started to cry. Not sob or boo-hoo. I just had a continuous flood of tears pouring down my cheeks.

I would like to say I was reciting long portions of scripture at this time to calm my nerves, but all I could do was silently beg God to, "hold my baby for me, protect her."

I remember thinking it was really warm in the OR. It was bizarre being the patient and not the medical staff. Before I knew it, I was sitting on the side of surgical table, socked feet dangling like I was 5 year old (and silently shedding tears just like one too), having my back prepped for the spinal block. Sweet Rose, made me lay my head on her shoulder and wiped my tears, and kept telling me it was ok, and not to to cry, because then she would have to cry too.

I felt something less then a pinch with the spinal. NO pressure, no pain. Just a tiny pinch!

As soon as I laid down, my feet started to feel like they were falling asleep, but just for a a few seconds. After that the most incredible warmth just spread up my body, as I went numb.

About this time Jared was brought back to the room, and informed me he had been taking selfies of himself in the surgical attire ( ha ha!) and texting an update to my friends.

And to think that whole time we had been separated I was so worried that he was freaking out without me there to tell him what was going on and assure him I was fine! He held my left hand, that was strapped down, and my anesthesiologist held my right hand, and kept my right arm unstrapped.

The only moment of panic I felt was when they started prepping my abdomen for the incision, and I could feel it! I quickly let them know! I was then informed I would in fact feels somethings, nothing sharp thought "just" dull. Um… excuse me what!?!? They asked me if what I was feeling was in the prep work felt wet or dry.

It felt like a dry cotton ball was being rubbed over my abdomen. And apparently that means you are numb enough for surgery. Who knew!?!?

I couldn't feel the incisional cut, but I could feel just about everything else, but it was not painful at all. I was aware of clamps and retractors being placed, hands inside me, pulling and tugging, but it was not painful in the slightest. Most bizarre sensation ever!

Because we knew Quinn was going to be pretty small, my OB cut a much smaller incision then usual. Lucky me! Even though she was so small, she was very low in the birth canal, and they nearly had to use forceps to get her out! Jared and I were both surprised with theaggression used to get her out. I could feel my body being rocked back and forth, side to side. You could also see the force/strain my OB was using in all his movements.

And then, the tiniest little purple baby was held up over the drape and my OB said,"Hi mom!"

"She is TINY!" 

And off she was wisked to the warmer and NICU staff. I sent Jared over to her immediately.

She let out a few little cries but was silent after that. I kept asking if she was ok.

Apparently, she was just looking around, taking in her new surroundings. Just like her sister did. And just like with her sister, as soon as she was out, my tears stopped. She was fine. My baby was finally outside of me, and she was ok.

size comparison to daddy's hand

newborn diapers swallowed her, but check out the size of those feet!

And she was 4lb 11oz, and 18 inches. The baby doll we had bough Ellie as a big sister present was bigger then that!

I asked my OB to give me a six pack since he had me sliced open already. He laughed and said he would do what he could, but that I should be thankful for my small incision. The c-section he had done before me was for a 9 lb 11 oz baby. Bless its mother, y'all!

When I had been moved from the hospital bed to the surgical table, some meconium had been noted on the sheets, but thankfully there was no sign of Quinn aspirating any of it. Her apgars were 8 and 9.

The decision to have the c-section was made around 11:30. I was wheeled to the OR at 12 o'clock, and by 12:40 I was back in my room, holding Quinn. The nursing staff had been right - she was in our arms between 12-2 pm.:)

My parents and sister in were the room waiting for us. Quinn was so little, even all bundled up, they didn't notice that she was in my arms until I held her up for them to see.

Ok, so I thought this was going to be the final installment, and technically it is. However, there is still quite a bit I want to document about how Rose was the best postpartum nurse ever, how we managed to keep our 4lb-er out of the NICU, c-section recovery, post-spinal headaches, etc… Looks like I will be doing a Postpartum post in the near future.

I've been asked a lot if I was/am ok with the way everything happened. Yes, over all I am. We got a healthy baby at the end of the day. Am I disappointed that I wasn't able to give birth naturally, a little. But mainly only because I now have mildly increased my risk of needing a c-section in the future. Immediately after delivery, the nurse in me was worried about wound dehiscence and infection, and worst case scenario (because nurse know too much sometimes) uterine rupture.:) Recovery was no where near as bad as I thought it would be. But still way worse then a vaginal delivery! I don't mind my scar. It is rapidly diminishing in size, and looks neat and straight.

While I will always be a huge proponent and supporter of natural labor and childbirth, I ambeyond thankful for the advances in modern medicine. Without them, I probably wouldn't have two healthy girls. 50 years ago, I could have been one of those women who always delivered a still born, for unknown reasons.

So there you have it! How our teeny-tiny, little rockstar finally made her early appearance, in style and fashion.

Day 27: sister snapshots

This is a pretty short/boring installment of Sister Snapshots. Traveling, unpacking, and a sick toddler haven't provided good opportunities for grabbing the camera. Today's post will be the last Sister Snapshot posting in the 31 Days of Writing Series. I've have really liked the concept, and the challenge it provides to make sure I keep photographing the girls together, so it may be something I continue to do, maybe on a monthly type schedule. 

The girls in their party dresses for Lolli's surprise party

Always gotta give the baby sister a check up

night time snuggles with mom… and the new toddler smile

a sick toddler and an infant mean you need a bigger lap!
after church sunday snuggles before naps… for everyone

Hope everyone had a fabulous weekend! Off to plan out final posts for the upcoming week!

Can't believe we are almost done!

Day 26: sad sickies

We have a sick, sick girl in the house.

Strep has struck the toddler, and she is pretty pitiful.

Overall, she is a pretty good sick baby. She has just been sitting on the couch watching shows on the iPad, snuggling in mommy's lap. 

And sleeping! She napped twice yesterday, which she hasn't done in over 6 months! She slept a total of 7 hours during the day yesterday! And slept 12+ hours last night!

I am usually a "let them run a fever a good 2-3 days before going to the doc" type of person, but when her fever was 104 upon waking up and she screamed for two hours about her "eeeeee-yours" (ears), I knew we needed antibiotics.

I was convinced she had bilateral ear infections. But no, it's strep and her ears looked perfect. So much for my nursing assessment skills.

I wish I could look this cute when I went to the doctor, in my jammies!

Don't let that sweet smile fool you - she screamed the entire time we were there, until I took the camera out to snap a picture of the pitifulness.

... Out came the cheese!

I had high hope all the hours of watching DocMcstuffins and giving all those check ups to her animals and baby sister would help out at the doctors office. 


At least she still blows kisses and says "dad-dooo" (thank you) through her tears when they are done with her exam.

I had my first drive around for an hour because the kids are asleep in the car experience. 

Fit pitching at the doctors office can really wear a girl out! Wears mommy out too!

I thought a healthy toddler could destroy a house unlike anything I had ever seen. Well, a sick toddler wreaks way more havock. 

Like, whoa!!!

We had plans today for a family pumpkin patch outing, but instead it looks like we will be hanging out inside snuggled up watching movies. 

Ellie Faith is watching her first Disney movie, Tangled. 

Its a it's a toss up who is enjoying it more, Ellie or her daddy!;)

Day 25: marriage

I should start this post by saying no one is more surprised then I am that I got married. I decided in my late teens-early 20's that I really didn't want to get married. I didn't have a problem with the institution of marriage at all. I just didn't think it was what I was created for.

Therefore, I never spent much time or energy day dreaming about my soulmate, my fairytale wedding, or our happily-ever-after. 

I am pretty weird in that I always like to research/become familiar with the otherside of any issue. If I read a book geared for girls or women, I always read the male counterpart, when available. 

So while I read books on singleness, I also read a lot of dating and marriage books to help me understand the majority of my friends, and society as a whole.

I am so thankful I was created this way, with the desire to understand the otherside of situations. It prepared me for many situations I was to face in the future, and for marriage in particular. Since I didn't think marriage was a ticket to a fairytale, I read books that dealt with the heart of marriage, not the fluff of weddings.  Reading about how marriage could be a refining tool used to grow you into the person God created you to be, gave me the courage to keep an open mind on the subject of marriage. And I am so glad I did!

When I first decided to take part in the 31 Days of Writing challenge, I made a list of topics I wanted to write about. Marriage/my husband was one of those topics - How to keep your husband your priority after adding another kid to the brood, etc... Let's just say I am in still in the very early stages of learning these lessons. After just getting back in town, recovering from all my late nights, and a sick toddler, this week just isn't providing the literary stimulation for such a topic. And my husband would probably think I was a complete hypocrite. ;)

But I still had lots of "marriage-y" thoughts rolling around in my head...

Last night I read an awesome relational blog post by one of my favorite Christian Authors, Gary Thomas, about how his daughter being in love on her wedding day was not his top priority for her on her wedding day. Yes, I know, it sounds insane and way too radical. But seriously, read the post. Its awesome! Its what I hope we can instill in Ellie Faith and Quinn when it comes to picking out their spouse.

Then it hit me - I have a lot of singles (primarily ladies) who read this blog. Why not write something more relevant to them. While I am still very much figuring how the wife and mom combo, I feel confident enough to say - when it came to choosing my spouse, I hit it out of the park. I am not taking all the credit for this  - my parents, authors like Gary Thomas, and other christian mentors had a lot to do with it. But I am going to give myself credit here, something I don't often do. I personally spent a lot of time in my younger years cementing into my heart what my spousal criteria was. And because I didn't put stuff like "tall, dark and handsome; guitar player; worship leader; starting quarterback; doctor, etc..." my list lasted through my ages and phases in life.

1. He had to be a solid christian. Independent in his relationship with Christ
    a. if our relationship progressed, he needed to love Christ more then he loved me.
2. He had to respect me.
    (yes, I wanted respect before love. I am weird that way)
3. He had to make me laugh.
    a. A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones prov 17:22

I still stand by these criteria. They are not for everyone nor are they a guarantee for success, as we all have our own free will to choose and make decisions as we see fit. However, here is how I see it:

  •  if someone maintains ownership in their relationship with Christ, their chance of keeping up the marital relationship are far better than someone who starts (and tries to maintain) a christian walk for someone else.
  • if you have respect as one of the cornerstones in your relational foundation, that is going to support the waves and trials of life way more then any butterflies-in-the-tummy- in-love feeling could ever hope to do. Because guess what, you may not always feel in love with your spouse. In my opinion and experience in all types of relationships, it is my respect for someone that will keep me maintaining my relationship with someone, over my love for them.
  • if someone can make you laugh, chances are they can laugh at themselves too. I wanted someone who was kind enough to help me laugh, even at myself at times when needed, but was also humble enough to laugh at himself too. I never wanted perfection, and I didn't want perfection required of me. Humans make mistakes in life, and if you can really and truly laugh together after mistakes, I think you have probably both learned something.
Gary Thomas says something in his book Sacred Marriage along the lines of what if marriage isn't just to make you happy, but to make you holy?

Ponder that for a minute. Let me assure you in NO way is he stating that you should ever enter into a joy-less marriage, or that an unhappy marriage is a healthy marriage. No, what he is aiming at is that what if marriage, in addition to everything else we are familiar with marriage being,  is also something that could be used to make us more Christ-like, and draw us closer to God.

If this is truly the case (and I firmly believe it is) and I am a single today, in the process of choosing my future spouse, I am going to do my darn-dest to make sure I choose someone who is going to make this process as easy as possible on me. :) Because I don't like pain, discomfort, stretching, or stepping out of my comfort zone. Someone who is going to be pursuing Christ on their own, and who is on their own journey with Christ, so that when I am going through the training process of becoming who Christ created me to be, they will love and support me through the painful and difficult times. Because they see Christ in me and in those times. And if I am to love an imperfect human, who might from time to time make my life not so fun or uncomfortable, I want to know that I can see Christ in them. Because, sadly, I am selfish. I don't like others to suffer on my account, but I sure as heck get frustrated, ok even angry, when someone else's shortcomings are having an negative affect on me

A commonality in Christ will carry you much further than any feelings of love ever could. 

Single readers - it matters greatly who you marry!

It will affect every action of every day for the duration of the relationship, and leave a lasting impression on you if/when the relationship ends, whether by death or divorce.

The type of car or house you buy is not going to affect you for the rest of your life. Who you marry will. So please, choose carefully!

“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love.”  
1 Corinthians 16:13-14 

This is the perfect verse to help evaluate yourself in the process of choosing your spouse. 

Are you on your guard? Ladies, especially, we can get swept away quickly by our emotions. I tell girls all the time you can't help who you feel attracted to, but just because you are attracted to someone, does not mean they are someone you should enter into a relationship with. I am even willing to admit, based on the exact right circumstances, you sometimes can't help who you fall in love with. But just because you are in love with someone does not mean a relationship, short term or long term,  is the correct path for you to follow. Guard your heart! Know what your criteria are, and don't settle. Be on guard for people who try to appear like they meet your requirements, but in reality are only becoming who you want them to be, and not who they really are.

Are you standing firm in your faith? We are all humans, therefore we are going to make mistakes, and God will love us despite our shortcomings. However, if we are being vigilant in not only maintaining our relationship with Him, but more importantly, being active in getting to know Him better, our mistakes will tend to be much less costly mistakes. Calling a deepening relationship with Christ as sort of like an insurance plan definitely cheapens the relationship in a word play, but in reality it kind of is your insurance plan. Yes, you have free will to make your own decisions, as do the people around you. You will be the victim of other's free-will made decisions. But if you are actively pursuing Christ and His plans for your life, you will make life much easier on yourself. I promise you - there is safety in His plans for you!

Are you being courageous? A charge to be courageous is not an encouragement to go out and try something different or outside the God's plan. I think being relationally courageous more often times means being brave enough to not compromise. To hold true to who you are and your convictions. This can be very scary, especially early on in a new relationship. Being youis extreme vulnerability, as is expressing your convictions. But better to do the courageous thing and be honest upfront in the beginning, then attempt to do it later. Chances are, you will have compromised some of you by then, and that deep honest place inside you will be much harder to express, or even find.

Are you being strong? In order to be courageous, you have to be strong. Real relationships take strength. They are hard work. Doing the right thing is often hard, sometimes even undesirable. And if you ever want to maintain an lasting marriage, you better have strength in Christ beyond words! Again, this is where a personal on going relationship with Christ is so vital. He will help you be strong and courageous! Go ahead - try Him!:)

Are you doing everything in love? Clearly I am not just talking about twitterpated love, I am talking about the real deal. Sometimes loving someone means not entering into a relationship with them, because you aren't whats best for them. Maybe they have some lessons they need to learn and maturing to do first. You might be a distraction, enabling, or even a crutch. Loving someone isn't always fun, and it isn't always, initially, rewarding. Its often hard and painful, but when its done correctly, whether in a romantic or friendship type relationship, it can bring about much growth and beauty.

Marriages today often don't last. The younger generations are becoming used to seeing divorce as the more common and acceptable outcome, as opposed to marriages of 60+ year being ended by death. It can make it very difficult to know how to find the right spouse, especially if you think your parents got it all wrong.

So what are the singles to do? Everything I already stated, along with surrounding themselves with a church body (and much more... I don't have all the answers!).

Yes, statistics show that the divorce rate is just as high in churches theses days, but the marriages in the church that do work are, for the most part, built on foundation of Christ's love. Not only will the husband and wife love each other, they will have asked Christ to enter into their marriage. They will also be honest about what they have learned, the mistakes they have made, and how God has redeemed their short comings. A Christ-centered marriage will/should become your standard. I love what Gary Thomas says:
"...you want to become so aware of genuine character and godliness that when you hang around false character and pseudo-piety, you smell it for the rat that it is."

Finally, more for the marrieds out there, I recently had a revelation about love languages.

I am not a clear this or that when it comes to the 5 Love Languages... it kind of depends on the person and situation I am dealing with. But this revelation came to me involving my husband and my house.

Our house is small and gets messy very quickly, especially with the toddler, also known as hurricane Ellie. A messy house drives me batty, and often makes me feel like a failure, or just really far behind in the day.

And for the sake of full disclosure, the thought of allowing someone other than myself or Jared to clean my house or do my laundry makes me shudder... its a bad pride issue. And, I like things done a certain way, and if its not done that way, I won't like it. Yeah... not good.

Jared is not a neat freak in any shape, form, or fashion. He is very much a Quality Time and Words of Affirmation love language guy. (let's all just agree that physical touch should just be a given when speaking of male love languages, ok!? Good! Moving on...) So he would rather me sit on the couch and watch a stupid football game, and discuss it, or just talk, then live in a tidy house day in and day out.

The other day I was fuming inwardly that, in my mind, he never did anything around the house except make more housework for me.

I really try to stop these negative thought patterns as quickly as possible. Sometimes I am better then others. Right now, I realize I am still somewhat sleep deprived and hormonal from being postpartum. There is a very good chance I am the one out of line. :)

My husband does the vast majority of life very well, so I usually just try to think of those things. And that's when it hit. He is always commenting and complimenting me on the intentional quality time I spend with our daughters.

When he is home with us, he is always doing something with either one of the girls. Even if he is "just" watching tv, he is usually holding Quinn. He takes Ellie to the park, or on walks. He is very intentional with the time he has at home with the girls.

Yes, would the act of service of having him clean the kitchen, vacuum, clean the bathrooms, etc... knock me over. It absolutely would. But that is me only looking for love in the places I think I want it most.

When in reality, if he asked me, "Amy, would you rather me clean the bathroom or take Ellie for a walk?" I wouldn't even think twice about it - take our daughter for a walk!

I think we often show others love in our love language, because it is what makes the most sense to us. I am trying to love Jared by keeping the house clean, and he is trying to love me by spending time with the girls.

In doing so, we are both loving each other, actively.

So if you are getting frustrated with your spouse, first, remember the role female hormones play in life, then look to see if you are being blind (or deaf actually I guess) to the language of love your spouse is speaking, acting, or doing in your life.

In closing, I thought I would share some for my favorite relational books, authors, and posts.


For Girls:

For women of all ages:
Liberated Through Submission ( pinky swear its not scary, but awesome, even though it deal with the dreaded "s" word - submission)

On marriage:
Sacred Marriage ( Gary Thomas recently wrote a book for singles, Sacred Search. I haven't read it, but I am sure its great!)

On Singleness:
Singled out for Him

And for if/when the marriage falls apart:
Beyond Ordinary
(this book is must read for ANYONE! Even though the central theme is marriage, it applies to anyone in all walks of life. One of things I most respected about these authors, was how they in no way sensationalized the affair that took place in their marriage. I have many articles, etc... about broken marriages and relationships, and often times come away feeling that more time was spent on how things went wrong, almost more of a how-to, if you will, then how they made things healthy again. Again, I recommend this book to everyone to read. More than a book about marriage, it is a book about a personal relationship with Christ.)

Blog Posts:

It matters who you marry: girls

It matters who you marry: guys

That should keep you busy reading for a while! :)

Happy Relationships!

Day 24: the 3 o'clock hour

The girls and Lolli right before we headed back hom
We are back home in East Tn this morning. Our trip back yesterday was much less eventful then the scream fest we experienced going to my parents house on Saturday. Thank God!

There was this peaceful scene for a brief time in the trip:

both girls sleeping... at the same time
Another bright spot in the trip home was stopping my brother Daniel's office (he is a physical therapist) for a quick visit.

Unfortunately, in the car,  awake toddler happiness was the result of listening to the DocMcstuffins theme song on repeat for an hour and a half! Followed by the Hot Dog song for another 40ish minutes, until Ellie lost her listening privileges due to high pitched, ear piercing screaming. 

At this point, we were about 20 minutes from home and both girls were shrieking. So I did what every normal mom would do - turned on the radio at nearly full blast.

Mikky Ekko and Rihanna's song, Stay, was just beginning. Miraculously, silence ensued, and continued throughout the song! At the end of the song, Ellie held up her pointer finger and said "Rooowwwwn mo time, peas." (Round one more time please)

Thankfully, I had the song on my iPod! We listened to Stay on repeat until we got home. Then Ellie screamed more because she had to get out of the car and couldn't listen to "Rooowwwn" anymore.

Never thought I would thank Rihanna for improving my child's behavior.:)

As wonderful as our time with my family was, I very glad to be home and to be getting back into our normal routine.

Our house is a disaster zone with all our half unpacked bags, laundry... I am tired from all the late nights up visiting. Ellie is a little out of sorts and missing all my family members who waited on her hand and foot (as my husband says, this ain't the Ritz, kid). 

This morning, as I sat nursing Quinn, in the middle of the mess that is our house, I had a moment where my attitude began to quickly spiral downward. You know that overwhelming feeling when you think of all that you need to get done that day? 

I started to pray for peace and focus. Then I remembered the 3 o'clock hour.

It is one of my most favorite times of the day. Ellie Faith is usually down for a nap by 2 pm. Quinn doesn't eat until 3, so from 2-3 I do a house hold chore blitz. By 3 pm the house at leastlooks clean, if you don't look too close.

Quinn eats at 3. I love being able to sit in a neat/clean room that smells good and really enjoy the moments of feeding my babies. After a diaper change, Quinn is usually back to sleeping soundly. She and I enjoy a few moments (or more) of some uninterrupted cuddles. I usually reheat some decaf coffee, and pretend it has caffeine to give me a extra push to finish the day strong. Sometimes I read, catch up on blogs and social media, doze, watch someunashamedly mindless tv, etc.. Basically, it is a small moment in the day when I am usually pretty free to do me.

Maybe it's selfish. But I have found I am a much better wife and mom if I take those 30-45 minutes in the 3 o'clock hour to be mindless, goal-less, and quiet. I don't need much me time, overall, but for now, this window of time in the day helps my attitude and sanity. 

Being needed and wanted 24-7 can wear anyone out. There are days it exhausts me. 

So until I grow and mature more in my role of wife and mom, the 3 o'clock hour is mine... or until my girl's schedule changes.:) But even with growth and maturity, I still think it is very important for me to continue to maintain a brief window of time in the day for me to connect with me. Not to indulge necessarily, but to connect with myself. To see where my mental and emotional status is. How I am changing and evolving. 

And don't worry, my devotional/quiet time before the Lord happens first thing in the morning... otherwise it won't happen. And as a mom, my prayer life is alllll day long. How else do you survive!?!:)

For me to be the best wife and mom I can be, I need to be the best me I can be. And that takes honest introspection. 5, 10, 20 years from now I don't want to be doing things, routines, life, the same way I am today all because I never took the time to stay in touch the evolution of myself. If I never stop to take inventory, I will never know or see areas that need improvement, or even be encouraged by areas of growth.

So for now, 3 o'clock will be a time I look forward to every day. Even if all I do is watch this little one sleep on me.

Day 23: sister snapshots

I realized I didn't do a sister snapshots post this past weekend. Today we are heading back to Knoxville, so its a good day for a next to wordless picture dump type post.

My photo stream through iCloud on my phone has been punky since the software update. I can only access a fluctuating 100-200 photos. Before the update I always had 1,000 photos in my stream. Any advice is greatly appreciated.

Without further ado, sister snapshots

giving "bebe" sister "loves"


giving baby sister a check up
Mom life at its finest
Ellie's special new smile - precious right?

Quinn was not a fan of her ears getting checked by Ellie Faith:)

The girls with their Great-Nanny and PopPop

Day 22: trampoline and cousins

I jumped on a trampoline today for the first time in years. 

6 weeks after pregnancy and a c-section.

I am proud to announce that my uterus is still residing inside my pelvis, and I did not urinate on myself. Not even a little!

It might be the most accomplished I have felt in quite some time.

And I definitely think I will be feeling it in my leg muscles tomorrow. 

Seriously, how cute are these little munchkin-cousins?!?!


I am exhausted, so that is all for now! Getting this in 10 minutes before midnight....

Day 21: "punkas"!

Today we took the girls to a pumpkin patch back in my home town.

Unfortunately, there was miscommunication about the hours of business, and we showed up 30 minutes before closing. Bummer!

Even though we didn't get to go do all the farm activities, Ellie Faith still had a blast!

She started out saying pumpkin clear as day, but the pronunciation has regressed to punkas.

that's not me with Ellie, that would be my sister, MaryGrace or Drace according to Ellie:)

Of course I had grand visions of adorable sister pictures and dressed the girls accordingly. Yeah, didn't happen, but that's ok. There's always next year right?

Since we didn't get to spend the afternoon at the pumpkin patch, we headed to a near by park, where Ellie proceeded to give herself her second black eye in a week's time.

Thank goodness she doesn't have to go back to the doctor until she's two, otherwise they might think she is a battered child and call DCFS on me.;)

Ellie loves going head first down the tallest and curviest of slides, but has been terrified of swings since she was 6 months old. But today she discovered just how fun wingin' could be! 

After the park we headed over to my grandparents house and spent the rest of the afternoon with them.

y'all my grandparents are almost 90! Don't they look amazing!?

Apparently, all the festivities wore the littlest of the tiny humans out.

thanks for the precious outfit, Aunt Jess!

This is Ellie's 2nd day without a nap!!! Miraculously, she has been a gem and our day has been fit free! Minus the throw down in the dirt when we left the pumpkin patch. But I think that had more to do with the fact that mommy made the mistake of saying she needed her diaper changed.

Apparently my child prefers to be left to wallow in her filth. 

Anyway, I am a little scared the bottom is about to fall out due to the no nap in. 48 hour situation we have going on here, but so far so good.

I am betting bedtime comes a wee bit early tonight ... For everyone.

It's hard to believe we only have 10 days left in this writing challenge!!

Update: epic toddler meltdown happen 2.5 seconds later! Nothing some new jammies, snuggles with mommy, and some DocMcstuffins couldn't fix.

Day 19: SURPRISE! Happiest birthday, Lolli!

When my mom called me this week to ask if she could come spend Thursday and Friday with us, of course we immediately wanted to say yes, but I knew something she didn't know.

My sister, the youngest of our brood, (along with some friends) had planned a surprise birthday brunch with mom's closest friends, and her kids.

I was planning on leaving early Saturday morning with the girls to surprise my mom at her party.

I just knew mom was going to end up wanting to stay until Saturday with us, and then we would really be up a creek. Luckily, she already had plans in place for Friday night that she had to get back in town for.

We had so many close calls to spilling the beans while my mom was visiting us, but somehow we pulled it off.

And boy was she ever surprised!

realizing all her friends were at the house

AND the grandbabies!

Ellie and I "hiding"

It was so fun to see my little sister showing so much growth and maturity in planning the perfect party.

I had to wake Ellie up about 2.5 hrs before she usually woke up, to get on the road in time. I think out of the nearly 3 hour car ride, only about 30 minutes did not involve screaming, tears, etc... from the toddler. And those were in less then 10 minute segments.

might have called Jared about an hour in and told him I was letting him know the mile marker at which to come pick up his daughter.

.... but it was worth it in the long run.

this is the face of exhausted

worn out from all the adoration from Lolli's friends

My baby sis did such a great job coming up with sweet details for the party. Everyone was to bring a sunflower, a reese cup (my mom's favorite candy), and a card that stated what my mom meant to them, which they could read out loud if they choose.

We had a great time visiting and catching up.

Then it was time to "Bless" my mom. The lady who had helped Gracie pull together all the final details prayed a beautiful prayer over my mom, then we went around the room and shared some of our favorite memories, attributes, and characteristics of my mom.

Gracie and some of her friends during the prayer

My mom does not take the most basic of compliments well at all, so you can imagine how uncomfortable it was for her to sit through!:) But it was such a sweet time for all who were able to attend.

Sadly, I didn't get a picture before several of the ladies left
We all have our own individual love languages, but I think all females need words of affirmation and truth spoken into their lives throughout our lives. In a world where we are constantly comparing, or being compared to, everyone around us, it is so important to be reminded of what really makes you who you are.

Its not the perfect clothes and accessories, the best decorated home, the sassiest hair cut, the most amazing gourmet prepared meals... that are important. Its how we interact with each other. Support each other. Love each other that is so important. 

Its what leaves the most lasting influence, and deepens the relationship the most. 

The girls and I will be here for a few days, so posting is coming to be difficult. I had planned to have a few scheduled posts for this time, but mom's visit kinda wrecked those plans.:) If I can keep it up while here, the posts will be short at best.

the best picture we could get of the sisters in their party clothes
The Elliott women

Day 18: Friday Check-In

Just a quick check-in - we have had a fun past 36 hours! My mom, the girl's Lolli, came in town for a quick visit!

With five kids, one of which is still at home being home-schooled, another that is a college basketball player, and husband who is an athletic director for a university, she stays really really busy.

I am so thankful that she is always willing to make even the briefest of trips in order to visit heroldest daughter and only son in law her two grandbabies.:)

Every time my mom comes in town, I make grand plans, with her encouragement, to tackle all those big and small tasks the the tiny humans hinder... and yet, I rarely get even one of them done! And its all my mom's fault.

I am one of the few daughters who is truly blessed enough to actually mean it when I say my mom is my best girlfriend (husband gets the best friend title). So when she is in town, even if she is playing with or holding my girls, I want to spend time and visit with her.

The last few years have been a fun change in our relationship. As the oldest child, and probably the most naturally independent of us kids, the other siblings naturally, and rightly, got more of her time and attention. However, when you up and marry the man of the dreams you never knew you had and move out of town, all in the span of less than a year... the oldest child suddenly gets a lot more attention.:)

Now that I live out of town, if my parents come to visit us, or we go to visit them, I get to spend a lot more one on one time with them then the past years have allowed (or that I previously took advantage of.)

Mom just left, as she has a weekend full of activities with my high school aged sister, as well as several university athletic events to attend with my dad. So while my tiny humans nap a wee bit longer, I am off to get to the never ending piles of laundry (I swear our clothes procreate in the dryer!) and a few other chores to get ready for the weekend.

The weather here is supposed to be beyond gorgeous and perfectly fall-like!!! I have dreams of family park dates, pumpkin patch visits.... unfortunately there is the thing called VOL Football in our area, and they have a big game tomorrow. One my husband will need (in his mind) to watch.

Maybe we will load up the girls and take them to their first tailgate experience. Win Win for everyone - enjoying gorgeous weather outside and  football.

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

The Prolonged-Early Arrival of Quinn Collins... A mini-series. Part 2

Part 2 - the longest week ever!

FYI: this is an extremely boring, yet long post. Its for my memories... And my sweet friend,Josey, who loves nothing more then a good labor and birth story.:)

Wednesday night, just to be safe, we went ahead and packed our hospital bags, and Ellie's bag for her to take to the grandparents once her baby sister decided to make her arrival. And a few extra long cuddles with our first born.

We probably didn't crawl into bed until around midnight. The discomfort I had begun feeling that afternoon had intensified somewhat, but was totally manageable, and definitely didn't feel like labor.

I woke up around 2 in the morning with waves of pain coming pretty fast. It didn't necessarily feel like contractions, just extreme discomfort that kept me from sleeping, along with stabbing-like pains down there. I knew by now those type of pains meant dilation was happening.

In case this was the very early stages of labor, I opted not to wake Jared up so at least one of us could be well rested. Around 6:00 that morning, the pain dissipated somewhat, and I was able to fall back asleep. Jared got up about an hour later. As he was getting ready to leave, I got up, as I was starving. However, the more I moved, the worse I felt. The pain came back. I was incredibly nauseous, along with a lot of other GI symptoms that can go hand and hand with early labor stages.

Jared opted to hang around the house for a bit just to see where things were headed.

I can't explain how exactly I felt. I was sick, in pain, dizzy, lightheaded, exhausted, etc... but that still doesn't describe it. Having only experienced preterm labor, or induced labor with pitocin and no pain meds, I thought maybe this was just early natural labor stages.

Jared knew something wasn't right, when I was almost in tears, said to him, "I think I might need my mom to come into town to help with Ellie... can you stay until then?" I have been puking uncontrollably over a commode for hours with a stomach bug, and still didn't want someone to come help with Ellie. I clearly have issues asking for/receiving help.

Jared's parents came by and took Ellie for the day,  while he stayed with me and worked from home. We opted to keep my mom back in middle TN until we knew  it was go time. Finally, Jared and my mom convinced me to call the doctor just to check in and make sure everything was ok.

Here is the thing about preterm labor, or any complications that arise in pregnancy - you start to loose your mind with worry. You loose all concept and awareness of what is going on with your body as you hyper focus on your baby, and only your baby. By mid afternoon, I couldn't tell you if I was more  sick from physical symptoms or mental and emotional strain.

Everything checked out fine at the doctors office. Of course, I was having the least amount of pain/contractions I had experienced all day. Quinn's heart rate sounded great. However she had dropped significantly lower then she had been the day before. I had progressed a little bit more myself. But nothing major.

The midwife warned me I might be experiencing the dreaded prodromal labor - early stages of labor that can last for a week or more! Um, what!?! I was told to rest as much as possible, take baths every few hours to help ease the pain, and drink plenty of  fluids. The midwife said they even had to prescribe narcotics for some of their patients just to help them sleep. Um... no.Narcotics make me climb the walls!

I did have some phenegran at home from an earlier prescription, so we decided if I continued to be unable to sleep I would take some, but would hold off on narcotics for now.

That night I took a 30 minute bath before climbing into bed. Being the stubborn idiot I tend to be sometimes, I didn't take the phenegran, convinced surely I wouldn't experience the same hellish night two nights in a row.


2am-6am, same exact freaking thing pattern as the night before. Come sunrise though, nada! I would still have contractions that were enough to be uncomfortable, but not enough to really progress anything.

So began the pattern we endured for the next week. Hospital/office visits every 36-48 hrs for non stress tests and ultrasounds. I continued to feel awful and exhausted.

I did start taking the phenegran to help me sleep, and it did help me get about a four solid hours of sleep a night.

I swear I developed a mild case of body dysmorohia during this time. It was like I could feel my abdomen shrinking by the hour, to the point I almost wouldn't feel pregnant. I would have to go look in the mirror to convince myself I still looked very much pregnant. Very bizarre.

Ellie stayed with Jared's parents during much of the day during this time, so I could rest, and so she didn't have to be dragged to all the doctors appointments. 

I spent the evenings with her on the couch coloring, reading books, watching an episode or two of her shows on the iPad, eating, etc... Basically breaking rules and making memories! Jared took her on a few outings to the store and park. 

Ellie handled the shuffling around like a champ! I mean, both sets of her grandparents are her 4most favorite people in the whole world. Kid was in heaven. Especially on Tuesday, when my mom (Lolli) and my sister MaryGrace (Tracie) came in town to stay until the impending birth!

I had said since the beginning of finding out this pregnancy wasn't going to last until Oct, that Thursday, Sept 5, would be be D-day. Not exactly sure why... maybe it was because Ellie was born on a Thursday. Maybe it was mother's intuition. Either way, by Wednesday I knew it was time - things just weren't going to be ok for much longer. We had a doctor's appointment that afternoon, and I knew I was going to leave with induction orders.

Sure enough, I was right. Amniotic fluid was very low,  placenta looked worse, cord blood flow still looked good, but even though her heart rate looked great, Quinn's overall motion and tone seemed to be on the decline. Her biophysical profile was a 6 out of 8. It was time for her to be taken care of outside of my body.

For those wondering, like my husband and most everyone else who was non-medical around me, the reason my midwives and doctor did not deliver Quinn sooner is that 99% of the time, a baby is safer inside the mom for as long as the mom's body can allow it. Too many babies in America are induced, sectioned, delivered, etc... too early and suffer complications afterwards. With Quinn's small size, there was a very good chance she could end up in the NICU if delivered too early. Not a death sentence by any means, but something to be avoided if possible. I was not given steroids for her lungs, as her breathing looked very mature on ultrasound. We were more concerned with her ability to maintain body temp and blood sugar. I very much appreciate my medical team allowing my body, and Quinn, time to try to do this whole birth process on their own, and for monitoring us closely in the process. We were also trying some well known, and very safe, techniques at home to help jump start labor on its own. Unfortunately, they did not work. While I believe 90% of births in America are WAY "over-medicalized", resulting in very unfavorable outcomes and statistics (America has one of thehighest mother and infant mortality rates amongst first and free world countries!), I am alsovery thankful for the modern miracles of medical intervention. I could very easily be one of those women from previous days in history who always delivered term still borns. That thought sickens me. Thankfully, that has not been our story.

We were given the option of being induced that night, or waiting until the following morning. I opted for the following morning. I was still hoping for a natural delivery (with pitocin) and knew I needed to be as well rested as possible in order to have a shot at enduring a pain medicine free delivery.

This decision is the only part in this process I look back on and wonder what if. 

So tomorrow we would be holding Quinn! Possibly by early afternoon, if things progressed as quickly as Ellie's delivery. But for whatever reason, for the past few days I just had this nonspecific feeling that things would not be like Ellie's delivery at all. I was prepared for a very long, drawn out labor. Very  much like the past week had been. 

Having been here before, it was very much like business as usual once we got back home. Our bags had been packed for a week. Ellie's care was taken care of. We knew where to go and what the process would be like.

That evening we took Ellie out for some ice cream to celebrate her last night as an only child.

last picture as our family of three (I look as exhausted as feel!)

gotta use two spoons when eating ice cream
Poor kid had no idea her life was about to dramatically change forever.:)

helping get baby sister's bed ready

trying out the bassinet

I was a little emotional putting Ellie Faith to bed that night, in more of a nostalgic way. It would never be just the three of us again, which was exciting, but unknown territory at the same time. It was the closing of a really good chapter. My momma's heart pricked just a tad hoping Ellie wouldn't feel insecure, thrust aside, or forgotten in the craziness of days to follow. I knew long term she would be fine, based on her personality, and the history of nearly every other first born who has 
survived the birth of their first sibling.:) 

As we crawled into bed that night, Jared prayed over the upcoming day(s) in only the way he can during these times. Our in bed prayer times have been some of my favorite memories. Its is then that I see even more deeply the incredible man of God I have been blessed enough to marry. He always has just the right words for these moments. Words I could never express, but that I need to have spoken in that moment.

Curled up on my side, as I was drifting off to sleep, I remember asking God to protect our little girl overnight, and mildly second guessing postponing the induction until the am. 

Something was different this go around, then it was with Ellie....

Until next time!:)

Day 16: this little light of mine

This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine.

Ellie Faith is staring to sing. As in saying every 5th word or so in a song about 2 seconds late. But it is just darn precious.

She loves Jesus Loves Me, Matt Maher's Lord, I need you, along with just about any song fromDocMcstuffins and of course Mickey's Hotdog Dance.

But the song she can listen to the most consecutively is This Little Light of Mine, which she calls a very nasally shiiiiine!

She wags and waves her little pointer finger to the beat, eeeeks instead of saying no to the hide it under a bushel - NO! part, and blows a whooo noise for won't let Saran blow it out.

The shiiiiine fascination extends to anything the color yellow - they are all shiiiiines. This includes the sun, crayons, and candles. 

For whatever reason, these days  I want apple candles burning all day long in our house. Maybe it helps keep me from eating any more then 4 honey crisp apples a day. 

When Ellie wakes up in the morning or from naps, if she doesn't see the candle on the kitchen bar burning she emphatically and incessantly says shiiiine on mommy, shiiiine on!

She is becoming a wee bit too fascinated with the flame of a candle.

Yesterday, October 15, was Pregnancy and Infant Loss Day, where people could light candles in honor, memory, and celebration of these lives and their family.

The girls and I picked up some votives last week in preparation for this day. 

I had some fun ideas for getting pictures of the girls with the lit candles... It was a good idea intheory just not in practice.

Kids under 10 should probably just be kept away from open flames for their safety ... And the safety of your home.

We lit three candles this year - our angel baby, one for Gabriel Morgan, as well as the other babies our friends have lost in miscarriage, and for my parent's four angel babies.

It was awesome seeing Facebook and Instagram flooded with pictures of flames flickering away in the name of our friend's son, Gabriel. I hope it helped the sweet Morgan family feel loved, supported, and remembered. 

I was so blessed to have these two candles sent my way by one of our friends and one of our former college girls. While I know a miscarriage is much less traumatic then going through the loss of an infant, it's still a babyYour baby. And even though it's life was only inutero, it's still touching to know the life is remembered. 

If you are ever wondering if you should remember a baby lost in miscarriage or infancy by someone you know - just do it. The parents never forget. You won't be bringing up bad memories. Your remembrance will be seen as a celebration, and therefore sweeten the parent's memories.

Case in point, my parents. I sent them the picture of the candle lit in memory of their angel babies. It hit them much harder and touched them way more then I ever could have anticipated. They have always spoken openly about the miscarriages, but we have never really done anything as a family in memory of those lives, until last year. We got mom a pandora bracelet, and dad chose a charm of angel wings in memory of the babies lost. My parents miscarriages happened over the span of 15-30 years ago. And yet they still remember.

Ok, shifting gears here to a more light hearted note.

We went grocery shopping yesterday, which is always an experience.

Can all the mothers of the free world band together and insist, create, fund, something the invention of shopping carts that accommodate numerous children and/or carseats. 

You are loosing money on me grocery store - I can barely fit half my needed groceries in the cart around the infant carrier, and the task of pushing the cart out to my car, one handed, while carrying an infant carrier in the other hand is no small fear post c-section, keeping me from making more frequent trips.

And those awful car-carts - pretty sure I would pop a uterine stitch trying to maneuver one of those around the corners of the aisles.

Epic first world problem...yes, this I realize.

Anyhow, the plan was to be at the store by 11. Plenty of time before lunch and naps. But as luck would have it, the girls conspired against me with their latest episode of "lets poop and puke as much as possible since mom thinks leaving the house is a necessity today."

Oh, and in case you ever think showering while the toddler is awake and has free reign of the house is a good idea - its NOT! Still digging ourselves out of that disaster nearly 24 hours later. 

By 12:30, we were pulling into the parking lot. Way too close to lunch and naps.

I turned my head for 15 seconds trying to find the right amount of ground turkey, during which time Ellie decided she was hungry and bit through a plastic wrapper in an attempt to eat one of her love languages - cheese.

Feeding your toddler lunch while shopping seemed like a win win for mommy! The toddler should be nap ready by the time you arrived back home. So I fed her cheese straight from the pack.

Judge away. The toddler was beyond thrilled!

Since cheese and turkey is a frequent lunch combo in our house, Ellie began chanting tookey, tookey two slices of cheese into her cart feast. We needed turkey, and since we were semi-close to the deli, off we went to get turkey.

Ellie usually only eats a slice or two when at home. Apparently, she was ravenous after destroying the entire house and produced obscene amounts of poop that morning.

hungry much kid?
We started with half a pound of turkey, but by the time we reached check out, I fairly certain we only had a 1/4 lb left.

Later that evening, Ellie wanted to "hep" (help) me make dinner... complete with her BFF's: cat, otoscope, and DocMcstuffin's f*< k (yes, my child drops the f.bomb clear as day any time she refers to a fork. Sometimes though she adds an ey to the end the word to sweeten the deal a bit).

I am so thankful we had our family pictures taken two weeks ago, as this is Ellie's precious new "smile for the camera" face. 

Lovely, isn't it? Apparently, she and her daddy have been practicing and perfecting the look unbeknownst to mommy.

Thanks babe. ;)

Day 15: Feels like home

We are half way there in this 31 days of writing challenge. No one is more surprised than I am that I haven't skipped a day ... yet! ;)

Last night we took a step back into what has been a major part of our life since Jared and I started dating  - college ministry!

Since Quinn decided to make her debut at the start of the fall semester, the girls and I haven't been around campus at all. Other then a daycare classroom of 12-18 month olds, college campuses are some of the biggest cesspools of germs! Not something a 4 lb nothing babe needs exposure to. Jared has been able to take part in a few of the activities and services on campus. It is going to require some shuffling of schedules, good time management, and lots of preparation a head of time, but we are very ready to get back to the CSF as a family.

this is what Quinn did the entire time we were at the CSF
It felt so good to be back on campus. I am really excited to see how everything goes this school year. We've changed up the schedule this semester, have some really fun plans in the works ... It has the makings of a great school year.

We shall see how it all goes with two kids, under the age of two. 

Ellie's lovely new smile. Its a shame she has no personality!
I am not leading the girls bible study this year, thank God! While I loved my weekly time with the girls last year, leading a bible study is not my forte! I never got comfortable doing it, and was so nervous before each session. I am a much better "wing" person. I don't like beingthe person in just about any area in life. I prefer being the second person! 

I am a little sad we won't be going on the fall retreat this year, but that would just be disastrous. Maybe next year. Let's just take a peek back at itty bitty chunky Ellie at last year's retreat.

As much as I love being at the campus house or on and around UT's campus with the college students, some of my favorite times with the students are when they are at our house. 

Each semester we usually have a few evenings or afternoons a week where we have students in our house, scheduled or spontaneously. These times are where we are really able to build relationships with the students. Jared and I, along with the CSF staff , feel it is so important for the students to be around good, healthy, marriages and intact families. We try to keep our hearts and homes open and available for these kids.

Our DVR is also open to the students. We always have a show, or several, that are recording (and being stored) for a group viewing. This semester it's Hart of Dixie.

I love the fact that , for now, Ellie Faith and Quinn are being raised in an environment unusual to most infant and toddlers. Life doesn't necessarily revolve around them. They are learning to be flexible in their little schedules. They are seeing their front door, couch, fridge, etc being open to many outside our family.

I hope we are teaching them, even in these early years, that life in the body of Christ is about living out, and being an active part of a community.

We also get great babysitting benefits! :)

Last year's Girls Flag Football Team

Day 14: one year ago

One year ago today, I was just waking up after a long, painful, and very emotional night/early morning.

My body had finally released our baby. The baby we would never get to know or hold.

That morning a year ago was actually a fairly peaceful morning, especially compared to the previous few days just waiting for the miscarriage to complete. I had been scheduled for a D&C the next day. Even though I knew my baby's heart had quit beating days ago, and would never beat again, I was physically sick at the thought of voluntarily having the remnants of my baby surgically separated from me.

Instead, I got to call and cancel my surgery on this day a year ago. As strange as it may sound, for me, this simple act was actually a sign of God's mercy even in this awful experience. I had begged Him that a D&C would not be necessary. Thankfully it wasn't. 

In the months following the miscarriage, I have continued to hear from more and more women who have also experienced the loss of their babies way too early. Many of whom I have known for a while but never knew of their loss.

It's been very interesting to see all the different levels and ways miscarriages have affected each individual woman. 

One way is not better then another. We are all are our own special and unique individuals, therefore our experience should be just that - special and unique.

If you have experienced the loss of your baby, or any loss, you should feel free to walk through that pain the way you need to. 

Note I said walk through the pain. Not drown indefinitely in that pain. That would not be healthy. 

A year ago I was so upset knowing that very few people would remember or even know about our second baby. I wondered if a year down the road I would still feel that way.

Today I know I will never forget, and that I always want that sweet little life to be remembered by our little family. And celebrated. That baby is a part of our story, and helped us be the people we are today. That baby is a gift - I have a baby with Jesus.

So as today marks one year since being separated from our baby, I am more thankful then sad. 

I feel quite certain I will always mourn the loss of that baby's life, however that mourning is not keeping  me stuck in the past. We've walked through the pain. 

And on the other side is a sweet thankfulness.

A thankfulness that we were entrusted with that precious little life, even for such a brief time.

Thankful, as strange as it sounds, that if we had to loose this baby, we never were able to hold our baby and bond. We recently had to to watch our sweet friends loose a baby hours after a full term delivery. Our path has been nowhere  near as difficult and painful as theirs!

Thankful that we have baby who never knew pain, but only the arms of Jesus' embrace.

Thankful for what that sweet baby taught us about our family, each other, and Christ.

Thankful that we will meet again one day.


Please remember that tomorrow, October 15,  is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. Light a candle at 7 pm tomorrow night in memory of lives lost.

Day 13: Sister Snapshots

Today is the second installment of Sister Snapshots. I am glad I decided to do these posts. They have helped me realize that I really need to do better about getting pictures of the girls together. Although, as you will see one of the only time Big Sister is still enough to be photographed with Little Sister, is during "Muk drinking times." (muk=milk).

For the sake of my pride, please note that my children do not only wear pajamas, or the same pair of pajamas for days on end. We have several of the same pair (yay for Carter's clearance racks!). Also, I have been doing lots of mini laundry loads... at the end of the day its just easier to reach into the dryer and pull out the clothes/pjs that were worn and washed in the last 24 hours.:)

Hope everyone is having a happy and restful Sunday!

Day 12: a whole (low) level of parenting

You realize you have reached a whole new level of parenthood (possibly an all new low point) when in the darkest of dawn hours, your infant squirts poo across your white sheets, and you simply clean it up with a wet wipe and roll over to go back to sleep on said sheets.

Motherhood at its finest...

Oh, and the toddler's bedding is currently in the wash as she wet clear through her diaper, pajamas and sleep sack onto her sheets for the third time in 5 days. 

Clearly, sizing up in diapers isn't the answer to dryness. Any advice is welcomed. All mothers know changing crib bedding is close to visiting the outer regions of hell. Although it is much easier now that I don't have a pregnant belly to work around.

My infant-poo-smeared sheets on still on our bed. 

Parenting is full of lazy selfless acts.;)



October 14, 2012 we lost our second baby in a miscarriage. I learned the next day, Oct 15, was Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day.

President Ronald Reagan named the entire month of October a month to remember the loss of these tiniest of precious lives, in 1988.
"When a child loses his parent, they are called an orphan. When a spouse loses her or his partner, they are called a widow or widower. When parents lose their child, there isn’t a word to describe them." Pres. Reagan
Click on the link below the awareness ribbon to learn more.

Therefore, on October 15 at 7 pm, people all over the country light candles in memory of those lives lost, and in honor of their families.

If you, or even someone you know, has lost a pregnancy or baby, consider joining others as we light candles in remembrance of these sweet lives, and their families. If you take part in honor of someone you know who lost a child, send them a picture, etc... of the lit candle. I promise this simple act will bless them beyond words.


Happy weekend y'all!

Day 11: my little observer

We actually left the house today, ran several errands (ok only two) and got to see and play with some friends!

It was a good day. 

I have mentioned recently that I have noticed the tiny beginnings of obsessiveness in Ellie Faith. Well, she is also quite the little observer.

Earlier this summer, we went to a new play ground. She wasn't familiar with the location of slides, stairs, etc... She kept going up only the first few steps of the sets of stairs, then back down again. She couldn't quite figure out how to get up to where she wanted to go. I tried to show her, but she wasn't comprehending. Finally, two elementary school aged brothers came to the playground and ran all over the place like they owned it. Ellie hung back and watched their every move for a bit. All of a sudden, she was off! Trying to keep up with them, following their paths, and mimicking their every move. Thankfully, the boys were super sweet, and didn't seen to mind.

A few weeks ago, she came walking into the living room with an empty milk jug she had retrieved from the trash, acting like she was drinking out of it. When I asked her what on earth she was doing, she very matter of factly stated,"Pop do." 

Pop would be my dad. And yes, he and my brothers have a horrible habit of drinking straight out of jugs of beverages. Apparently Ellie witnessed Pop doing this more the a few times while she stayed with my parents after Quinn's birth.

She knows how to use every piece of her little doctors kit correctly for a physical exam of any nearby willing subject. This comes from her slight obsession with watching Doc McStuffins.

When she was barely a year old and hardly saying anything, Jared said crap in front of her. As clear as day she repeated ,"ap," and giggled. We quickly realized a slight vocabulary change on our part was probably needed.;)

I am constantly being more then a little freaked out by what Ellie Faith picks up of my habits and mannerism. Scary would be an understatement. She doesn't miss a thing, down to the tiniest of details.

The other day as we were running out the door to go grocery shopping, she ran into the bathroom and came out with one of my rubber bands on her wrist. I always have a rubber band on my wrist! 

One day I turned around to find that Ellie had found an eye shadow brush and was doing this:

She blows air out of her mouth now whenever she sees me doing my make up, as I also blow off the excess powder, bronzer, blush, etc...

And those are just a few examples ...

Today, we met some friends at a local Chick Fil A that has an outdoor play facility. While most kids can barely eat for their excitement to get up and play, my daughter is way more entertained my dippies - any kind of dipping sauce. She just sat there, swinging her legs in her highchair, dipping away. 

Once there was nothing left to dip, she got down but just hung out near me, not clinging or wanting my attention, just near by. 

The play area was pretty crowded and she was one of the youngest kids there. She didn't act scared, more disinterested then anything. 

Finally, she started making her way closer  to the others ... Just watching. Observing.

I eventually took her hand and walked her over to the play stairs where one of her older friends was playing to see if that would help encourage Ellie to go on up.

Nope, after several emphatic head shaking no's, it was clear she was not going up.

I had a moment where, as she walked away from her friends to rock her "bebe" sister in the car seat, I wanted to force Ellie to just try. 

My heart hurt for her a little bit. She wasn't scared of the environment. I wondered if she was worried she couldn't do it right. Something she definitely could have learned from me, unfortunately. 

But I didn't. I let her call the shots this time. I am sure there will be times in the future where we will need to encourage her with a little bit of force to do and try new things. I am not sure this needed to be that type of time.

Wouldn't you know as the last of her friends left, and I was packing our stuff up, I turn around and see this. 

I was so proud! 

And as luck would have it, she then refused to leave and displayed a mini fit on our way out. I swear that is not something she learned from me!

So next time, I guess we will just get to CFA 2 hours before the scheduled time to give her time to warm up.:)

I am going to need a lot of wisdom in the coming years to know when to just let her sit back and observe life, and when to help her get out and live life!

Day 10: "Two" tired.

I remember with Ellie Faith one of the most overwhelming times in her infancy for us was the 3-7 week phase.

You are over the adrenaline high that can follow childbirth (didn't get it after Quinn). The initial, magical newness of parenthood is wearing off. Visitors bearing meals and the near constant family help is ending. And most importantly,  the lack of sleep is finally starting tobulldoze you over.

The same is true this time. I am exhausted. I may not look or sound too tired if you should see me, but trust me, the constant thought in the back of my head is "when is my next chance to get some sleep?"

I know more regular sleep is probably right around the corner (we started sleep training Quinn this week), so I am not really stressed about it. Just tired. More than anything, it just requires serious expectation and plan reduction.

Yes, I miss my friends, our college kids, our small group, etc... However, a little isolation is best for our tiny infant as we head into "sick season." And we all know the saying,"if mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy." I can go short periods of time with very little sleep, but more than a week or so, and it definitely starts affecting my mood.

There is also that little saying "sleep when your baby sleeps." Notice it says baby, not babies. That's because when you go from child to children you have at least one child awake nearly the entire time you are awake. And I only have two kids! My hats off to moms with more. I want to nap for you!:)

If I am being completely honest, I actually have really good sleepers. Way better than average. I've said it before, but I truly believe its a combination of the blessing of good personalities in our kids and some hard work put into sleep training, using the Moms on Call method.

Right now, I get about an hour alone with Quinn while she is awake, followed by 30 minutes of alone time while she sleeps, before I get Ellie up. And in the interest of full disclosure, Ellie will happily play in bed with her "friends" for an hour. Currently, I do have them both napping for about 1.5-2 hrs at the same time, in the afternoon. I could nap then, but I seriously, how can one tiny infant make soooo much of a mess of the house!

I swear before Quinn arrived the house got messy daily, yes, but it was manageable. But since her arrival - OMG y'all! Somedays I seriously think I am going to physically drown in laundry and dishes. Keep in mind, the child has yet to use a dish of any kind, and her clothes are just now of the newborn size, up from preemies. Diapers should be the only true waste and mess she generates, right? Somehow the arrival of the tiniest (and most precious) of humans has generated an ridonculous amount of mess and disorganization in our home.

 I get 2-3 hours total a day without the girls awake. Sure sounds like a lot doesn't it? It does to me at least. However, I swear something happens to time when babies sleep - it passes at warp speed. In motherhood, you just need a good 2-4 more hours in a day, plain and simple.

This isn't a complaining type post. I really hope it doesn't come across as that. Because, I am not complaining, just being honest. Since I am writing under the "Family Life" link of The Nester's 31 Days of Writing Challenge, I  know there are a lot of other tired moms out there. I feel you. My eyes physically hurt and struggle to stay open with you. Up at 3:30 am? Yep, I am probably too. I understand. And in case this is your first go at this sleepless motherhood thing, it does end... eventually. Well, actually you just trade one type of exhaustion for a new type of tired, and so on and so forth.:)

But its worth it!

Because without it, your heart wouldn't burst upon seeing your daughters snuggle up together like this.

PS: Yes, I realize the obvious - taking part in a 31 day writing challenge within my first month as a "New to Two Mom" probably wasn't the brightest idea, and is taking up some possible nap and rest time. But these days are tend to be so blurry in later memory, I don't regret having these days and thoughts written down. 

Day 9: Lessons in Coloring

As a kid, I loved coloring. As an adult I still enjoy it! I just find it so relaxing.

Ellie Faith's first piece of art work. 
Ellie Faith seems to have inherited my love for crayons and paper. She colors no less then 3 times a day. Her morning coloring session is her longest and lasts on average 30-45 minutes. I usually am "coloring" with her about half the time. We work on our letters, colors, and shapes (futilely for the most part at this point.)

"Bumbo" is what Ellie calls coloring. Her first coloring book, from the dollar store, was a Dumbo the Elephant coloring book. She has not seen the movie yet, but she has always been intrigued by elephants. She also can't say Dumbo yet, so bumbo it is.

She also has a very thick sketch pad notebook that we bought her at the end of July. She has already covered every single page with some sort of color and scribble. It may not be impressive to 99.9% of the population, but to me, it is way more impressive then any piece of high dollar art work. I am quite sure I will never throw this sketch pad away.

The more she has learned about coloring, the faster she goes. We used to be able to stay on the same page for days. Now, we are doing good if we stay on the same page of her coloring book or sketch pad for more than 60 seconds. Its like a furious color, scribble, flip page, color, scribble, flip page, repeat.

Over the past few months, as Ellie enters more deeply into Toddler-hood, her personality, opinions, and emotions are becoming more and more evident. And I am afraid she is a wee bit obsessive. I realize fixation is a completely normal developmental stage for her, but this is beyond that. And she comes by it honestly from both myself and Jared. So I am more then a little worried about her developing some severe OCD tendencies.

In addition to this, she is the oldest child of two oldest children. Both her dad and I can be perfectionists.

While a touch of OCD and perfectionism can be great qualities in life, I never want them to paralyze  or limit her. I understand what that can be like.

So what does this have to do with coloring?

I forgot to mention, we color outside a LOT as well.

I have a very vivid memory of coloring at church during my mom's bible study session. I remember the children's teacher that was with us (none of kids liked her... she didn't play with us, was pretty militant, and her kids came with her and they were bullies). I remember where I was sitting, and who was with me. I was probably 5-7 years old. I was coloring a nature page that had a lion on it.

I don't remember what else was on the page because I was so focused on getting the lion's color just right/realistic that I never made it past coloring the lion. Lions aren't the yellow, orange, tan or brown that the crayon box contains. They are a mixture of all those colors. The mean teacher told me I couldn't keep all 4 of those crayons but had to share them (see what I mean about militant?:) ) So in addition to obsessing over getting the lion just the right realistic color, I had to wait my turn for the colors I needed. Hence, only the lion got partially colored. I remember I got the body they way I wanted it, but the mane was still a work in progress.

This is just one incidence. I always got hung up on finding the most realistic color for whatever I was coloring, and would get so frustrated when/if the right color combination couldn't be found. I wouldn't even color certain things/pages because I knew there wasn't the right shade(s) to obtain a realistic color.

Another way the perfectionist/prideful part of me inhibited my artistic attempts had to do with coloring inside the lines. If I slipped outside the lines just a little bit I have been known to rip the page out of the coloring book so no one could see my mistake.

Those above two paragraphs describe a completely normal relationship most kids have with coloring, right? I certainly hope I am in the minority here!

Those paragraphs describe how I limited myself, not just artistically, but they are also example how I limited myself in life.

Perfectionism, obsessiveness, and pride can do that to you when left unchecked. When bridled and guided correctly, they can you accomplish greatness.

When Ellie Faith and I first started coloring together, primarily in her coloring book, I found myself trying to teach her appropriate colors and the importance of coloring within the lines.And getting frustrated that my 16-17 month old wasn't going along with my instruction. Thankfully, I snapped out of it pretty quickly, and vowed to immediately do things differently. Instead of making realistic art work, we were going to dive into the uncontrolled creativity of the toddler mind.

Ellie is a kid. I want her to enjoy being little while she can. There will come a time when appropriate color choices and staying within the lines of life will be important. But we aren't there yet.

I want Ellie to be able to tap into creativity without worrying about the end result not being perfect, or worse, what if people think its silly or don't like it. She has clearly displayed she has her own unique sense of style, even at her young age. She seems to have quite the imagination as well. I want to cultivate these aspects of her inner self, to give them deep, well grounded roots, so that they steer and hold her steady in the later years of her childhood/young adulthood as she comes into her own.

Like “Wayne Gretzky said," a You miss 100% of the shots you never take.” Granted its a sports metaphor, and we are talking art, but it still applies. I don't ever want her to be afraid to at least try something new, creative, or outside the box. Even if it means trying something out of the norm for her

Some of us don't come into our "brave" until later in life. I was one of those. Even though I was always fairly confident in who I was, I wasn't brave/adventurous enough to really display or express my own unique individuality. I hid the places where I wanted to color outside the lines

If any random individual was to look at the artwork Ellie and I create they would probably think we were tripping on acid!;) Lines are rarely stayed within, and color schemes are extremely psychedelic. Why can't elephants be teal with painted magenta toe nails, water be orange, or monkeys be purple? 

I only said I liked to color. Never claimed to be Picasso :)
I want Ellie to learn to express herself, comfortably and confidently. To be proud of the lady God hand crafted her to be. To not allow herself to be controlled by the lines of society. 

... And just to clarify, by lines of society I mean constraints not related to laws, morality, or faith.:)
And so, even though it seems simple and mundane, we will continue to color outside the lines, use unrealistic color schemes, and only spend 5 seconds at a time on a page. Maybe this exercise has absolutely no life lessons what so ever, but I like to think it does. 

If nothing else I think it will give us a platform for a conversation on this topic in the distant future, when she is struggling with the colors of and lines of her life and personality. 
Be free and color wild, my sweet girl. 
Be colorfully free in who you were created to be.

Day 8: The Prolonged-Early Arrival of Quinn Collins... A mini-series. 

Part 1

I have had lots of people ask me why Quinn was born so early and by c-section, so I thought I would do a little mini-series on it. Plus, I have really enjoyed going back and reading the post I wrote on Ellie Faith's birth. I would like to be able to do the same with Quinn's birth as well.

Why a mini-series? Quinn's arrival, although it wasn't how we planned or expected, really wasn't all that dramatic or exciting. The mini-series reasoning has more to do with time constraints - I am wordy/long winded... I drag posts like these out wayyy too long. Writing everyday is a challenge time wise for me. Also, not everyone finds birth stories enjoyable. However, I started this blog to document our journey through infertility, (you can read about itherehere, and here) and the majority of my early readers were in similar situations. We enjoy reading about the arrival details of each other's miracles, whether it be through our own physical labor or adoptions, etc... 

I plan the mini-series to be something like this.

Part 1: The curveball 
Part 2: The weeklong labor
Part 3: Meeting our baby... Finally

They will not be on consecutive days since I realize these will not be of interest to everyone, so I will spread them out.

So without further ado...

Part 1: The Curveball 

It all started on the last Wednesday in August. We had returned home from our 10 trip to South Carolina the previous Saturday night.

Pregnancy wise I had been really pretty good. I had some strong-ish contractions at night starting around 6-8pm every night, but never more then 2-5 an hour. They never woke me up at night. Quinn was super active. All signs seemed to indicate we were on track for a normal and healthy delivery.

Monday evening I remember telling Jared that I thought my abdomen growth seemed to have slowed compared to the previous month. Having not made it past 35 weeks with Ellie Faith, I hadn't experienced the end of a third trimester. From what I hear it's pretty miserable as you grow exponentially by the day.

Wednesday afternoon I was scheduled for my 35 week appointment and bi-weekly ultrasound. That morning, I asked Jared if he thought my stomach looked smaller. We both decided the baby has maybe just dropped. Either way, no reason to worry as I was seeing my midwife later in the day.

Jared's parents kept Ellie that day, so I ran around town doing various errands. My second stop was Trader Joes. I remember walking out thinking walking was suddenly becoming increasingly uncomfortable. I wasn't having contractions, just lots of pressure. But again, Quinn was doing flips inside me. I wasn't concerned at all. After all, third trimester pregnancy is not to be considered comfortable.

Around 1:30pm Jared called to say he had finished his sales calls early and was thinking about coming to my appoint nth since he hadn't attended an ultrasound in a while. I told him, gladly, to come on!

It wasn't until I was pulling into the hospital nearly two hours later that I thought crap! God, is something wrong with the baby? Is that why Jared is coming? Apparently, Jared was thinking the same thing.

Fortunately, our favorite tech was the one scheduled to do our ultrasound. I told her as soon as we got into the room that my abdomen felt smaller and that I was having exponentially increasing pelvic pressure. 

She immediately reassured us that the heart rate looked great and that the blood flow through the cord was excellent. That's where the good news ended. My placenta was a grade 3, amniotic fluid was extremely low, and Quinn, who had measured in the 50% just 2.5 weeks previously, was in the 12%, right around 4lbs. Fortunately, once all the numbers were added up, her biophysical still scored at 8 out 8.

As the tech left the room to complete her report and consult with the midwife, I just sat there stunned, saying repeatedly," I can't believe it, I just can not believe it!!" Having gone throughthis once before, I knew that we would be meeting Quinn within a week, at the latest. Here we were at the end of August , and my due date wasn't until October.

4 lbs at 35 weeks did not bode well for escaping a NICU stay. The nurse in me was all too aware of this.

Jared, we have to get her to 36 weeks! We have got to give her time to gain some more weight and let her lungs develop more. 

This became my fixation. Must make it to 36 wks. I needed a goal to focus on, a focal point, something to keep me sane while others around me were freaking out sincerely concerned. 

We were dealt another, though smaller, shock moments later when we learned our midwife, who had delivered Ellie and had planned on delivering Quinn regardless of call schedules, was out of town for the next two weeks. Bummer. Fortunately, the other two midwives in the practice are fabulous as well.

We discussed a care plan with the covering midwife - I was to be placed on bedrest and to drink water until I felt like I was going to burst. If I went into labor on my on my own, it would not be stopped, but they wanted me to get as close to 36 weeks as possible for lung development and for weight gain on Quinn's part. I would return in 48 hrs, unless anything changed, for a non-stress test, ultrasound, etc...

We decided to do a pelvic exam just to see where things stood, uh... there. I was 2.5 cm and 60% effaced. The midwife said she would not be surprised if we had a baby that weekend.

Even though we were still rather in shock leaving the office, I was pretty calm. We had been here before and had a great outcome. I was worried about a NICU stay, and I was more then dreading a possible induction again. Because of her tiny size, I knew that I would do everything in my power to have a natural birth, just like with Ellie, even if it meant another induction. I'd be lying if I didn't admit that that thought nearly brought me to tears in the office before the thought of delivering a preemie sized baby.

Thanks to my crazy nesting in the weeks prior, everything was in order and ready for Quinn's arrival. I had even completed a huge grocery store run earlier that day.

We called our families on our way home to let them know. They were just as shocked as we were. Since my family lives about 3 hours away, they insisted we keep them very updated, as they did not want to miss the birth. As in they wanted to be in the waiting room when Quinn arrived.:)

We have our small group on Wednesday nights, and I was scheduled to bring part of the meal. We decided to go ahead and go. Its a good thing we did too, as our sweet friends had planned a beautiful surprise shower for us!

legitimately, the best cake I have ever had!
 Sadly, the even was cut short, as two of our friends kids came down with a stomach bug in the middle of dinner. You have never seen several families of small kids pack up and leave so quickly. Thankfully, the plague didn't affect anyone else!

Ellie Faith was sent home with some chocolate covered strawberries from the shower spread, and as you can see, she greatly enjoyed them!

She was not a fan of the clean up process though.:)

Little did I know as I crawled in to bed that night that I was about to experience my first, in many, nights of labor....

... Part 2 is planned for next week... hopefully:)

Day 7: Happy 1 Month, Quinn Collins!

...this post was originally intended for October 5, Quinn's actual one month birthday. However, the day got away from me, I didn't finish writing the post, and I didn't have the pictures ready that I wanted to use.

Better later than never.

Happy 1 Month Birthday, Quinn Collins!

The perfectionist in me always hates/get confused as to what it do about the difference of the 4 week milestones vs 1 month. Quinn was 4 weeks on Thursday, but one month today. 

This time a month ago we were getting ready to go home from the hospital.

It was an all day process, so we didn't get home until that evening. 

It was just me and Jared at home with our new little bundle the first 5 days, as Ellie Faith went home with my parents.

We missed our first born so much it hurt at times, but she had a great time, and we really enjoyed our "alone" time with Quinn during that time.

How on earth has it been a month already?!?!

Quinn is not looking like the miniature baby we brought home - she has outgrown her preemie wardrobe and is actually filling out her newborn clothes!!

We have her one month appointment later today. I can't wait to see how much she weighs and how long she is now.

It feels like just a month ago we were reaching this milestone with Ellie Faith.

Time in parenthood flies by entirely too fast. Unless you are talking about nights with feedings... Those tend to last for next to an eternity.;)

Even though I am not wishing her infanthood away, I am excited to see Quinn's little personality emerge. So farci think she is more laid back then Ellie (even though Ellie was incredible easy going as a baby). However, this girl does have a feisty side. She isn't a big crier, but shoo baby when she does she makes sure everyone heard her. All the medical staff commented on it at the hospital. It was like she had the lungs of a 10 lb baby, not the 4 lb mini that she was.

I would not at all be surprised if Ellie Faith ends up with more of her daddy's personality and Quinn has more of mine. However, overall Jared and I have fairly similar personalities... So we shall see how similar our girls end up.

My inlaws are being gems and taking Ellie to their house for part of the day, so I will just be a mommy to one again. I have several time intensive tasks I am hoping to accomplish in the toddlers absence...

... But dang, a nap sounds really really really good!!

Day 6: Sister Snapshots

In an effort to continue keeping up with the daily posts, especially on the weekends, I am going to do a weekly "sister snapshots" post. They will primarily just be pictures of what the girls have  been up to during the week.


First park outing as sisters. Double stroller+hills=ridiculous post csection work out
Ellie decided to try her hand at pushing...
Our version of Baby Crossfit :)
Holdings hands at the grocery store
Ellie loved Quinn's "shine wee-wee" (yellow outfit)
Making faces for the camera 
This is what Ellie does when we ask her to be "sweet to Quinn"  or "give Quinn love" - she goes head to head with her
Hand holding session before bed

Have a great Sunday everyone!

Day 5: too short to title

Well, During my early am nursing sessions I almost completed the post I was going to publish today, but never got the pictures taken that I needed to accompany the post.

I almost just skipped today, but figured it was wayyyy to early on to start skipping!;)

Weekends are times I either get the most writing done or next to none. Looks like this is a next to none weekend.:)

It's been a crazy, busy, fun day full of family and friends.

Jared's aunt and uncle stopped by to visit us/meet Quinn this morning. They are always so much fun to see!

After they left we loaded up the girls to go visit with some friends, the Myers,who were in from out of town visiting parents. The ladies and kids stayed back at the house, while the guys went to the UT-GA football  game. We don't get to see each other often enough, but we always have such a great time when we do.

And now our kids are clearly enjoying each other's company as well. 
Yes, arranged marriage talks are already in the works. :)

Sadly, UT lost, but they lost well, thankfully. I say thankfully because for the first time this season my husband is actually in a good mood after a game. A rarity after the last few UT football seasons.

Tomorrow is a full day too. Hoping to grab a few quiet moments though to rest and relax.

Rest and relaxation are definitely not hard things to find for this little love bug.

Hope everyone is having a great weekend!

Day 4: Consigning Mama

Whew! This is going to be short... Yesterday was a ridiculously fast and busy day, and today I am hoping to get us three girls up, fed, dressed, and out the door in time for play group. We haven't been since Quinn's birth, and poor Ellie Faith is about to go stir crazy!!

We shall see how it goes:)

Yesterday, I left Ellie Faith with a babysitter during her nap, loaded Quinn into the car and headed out to our city's biggest consignment sale.

In case you are new here, I am all about shopping consignment and/or discount! I buy all the girls clothes at one or two consignment sales twice a year. Only about 10% of their wardrobe is new, from the store. I even did a post on some consignment shopping tips here.

I spent 4 hours shopping yesterday!

Yes, that is just about as miserable and exhausting as it sounds.

I had to do a lot more digging and sorting then I usually do. Not sure if it was because the quality of clothes was that much worse this year, or just that I went later into the sale then usual. So it wasn't my best/most favorite haul ever, but I still got plenty of cute stuff for both girls.

My little shopping buddy slept most of the time (thankfully), but still generated plenty of attention. Most people thought she was days old (because normal people take their 4 day old to a consignment sale the size of the state fair) and were shocked to learn she was 4 weeks old.

But my favorite conversation (and by favorite I mean most memorable) was this exchange... 

Keep in mind "lady" reeked of cigarette  smoke... While carrying her 6wk old in a baby wearing device. This makes the nurse in me want to call child protective services more than you know!

Lady: gosh she tiny! Was she premature?

Me: a little... She was born at 36 wks

Lady: mine'un was born over 4 weeks premature. Had to spend some time in the nicu. 'Yun?

Me: no thankfully she didn't have go to the nicu.

Lady: wow, and her is so tiny. What'd she weigh?

Me: 4 lb 11oz. How about yours

Lady: 10 lb 12 oz

Me:........ Well, thank goodness she came  early.

Lady: Ha ha I know! They'd liked to never have gotten her out if she hadn't.

Y'all ... That baby was more than twice  Quinn's size!! I can not even imagine!

And my apologies to those of you unfamiliar with east-Tennessee-eese. I am still adjusting to it and learning its meanings and definitions myself.

How about you - any other consignment shopping, bargain hunting mamas out there? Is love to hear your tips and tricks!

Day 3:
Its not "pin" worthy on Pinterest

Yesterday was ... A day. Not great. Not terrible. Just a day with a 3 week old and a 20 month old. 

Days these days are unpredictable. I am learning to either not set expectations, or just set very low expectations. Like I have said before no expectations, no disappointments. :) 

When you got very little sleep, your house is a wreck, you feel yuck in the pajamas you soaked through thanks to lovely post partum night sweats (just keeping it real folks) - what do you do?

Sit in the middle of your living room and cry along with your newborn, while your toddler joyfully throws even more toys all over the living room floor? Sure, that's a good option, but it doesn't really accomplish much. And while it may be a necessity some days, today I felt there were better options.

I joined the toddler in her strewn toy crazed fun. In our dirty pjs, smack in the middle of the toy insanity.

We built with Legos, played her piano, bounced balls, gave her toys "check ups" with her doctors kit, and colored.

I entered into the insanity, and found joy in the eyes of my little girl. She won't remember these days, but I am making memories with her that I will treasure forever. And (I hope and pray) these days are laying the relational foundation withy girls to carry us for years to come.

Before you start thinking I was seeing my life/day through rose colored glasses, trust me I wasn't. 

My usually sweet, easy going newborn was screaming and fidgeting in my arms, which disturbed her big sister to no end, producing lots of "no mommy no baby no mommy no baby! Uh oh uh oh uh oh!"

In addition to this I was reminded of our complete failure to learn our colors and abc's this summer. We've tried, but apparently I am not tapping into her learning style.

For example: 
I point to a capital A and ask Ellie Faith to tell me what letter it is. She does her own version of downward dog, making her body look like an A. 
Ok E for effort.

Next I point to a B, to which she enthusiastically says,"2!"
Maybe I should have started teaching her to count first.

And finally, when asked to identify the "C" she says,"Car!"
Perhaps sight reading is the way to go.

She gets and right every time. However, let's not dwell on the fact that my mom taught her those in a matter of days.

As for colors, everything is initially blue or purple, followed by an occasional black or brown. Oh and yellow is "shine." Apparently most primary colors are just boring to her.

So yeah, trying to make our playtime fun and educational is not making me feel like mother of the year.

Yet again, I eventually realize that its ok. We have plenty of years ahead where I am going to wish my girls were innocent, oblivious, even ignorant to aspects of the world around them. 

And surely my girls won't be that kid showing up to kindergarten not knowing their colors or abc's, right???

Right now, I am exhausted. My house is picked up (note I didn't say clean) and the laundry is done (thanks nap time - don't ever leave me!). But for what started out as a rough day, really turned itself around. 

Quinn and I curled up in bed for a few minutes just to cuddle.

And then big sister woke up and joined us.

Followed by some singing of "Shine"

... Also known as This little light of mine.;)

Nothing that happened today was worthy of being pinned to Pinterest.

And that's ok. It's life.

It's my life. My crazy, messy, blessed life.

Day 2: Tummy Time

Y'all, I got to sleep on my stomach last night!

...and you thought I was going to talk about the all important developmental time infants should spend on their tummy.

Nope. This is about momma getting her "sleep back on."

I have been a stomach sleeper my entire life. Yes, I realize it's not the healthiest for posture, your back, etc... But it's just soooo comfy!!

This detail is one of the huge reasons sleep during my pregnancies leaves much to be desired. Thank God for the invention of body pillows!

clearly remember the night after Ellie Faith's birth, flipping over onto my stomach and literally tearing up because it felt to good to finally get into my favorite  sleeping position.

As we were climbing into bed the night before we were going into the hospital for Quinn's induction, Jared said," well, just think babe - tomorrow night you get to sleep on your tummy again."


I ended up with a c-section. And while the pain was no where near as bad as I thought it would be, there was no way I could sleep on my tummy.

Speaking of jinxing, I totally jinxed myself by publishing yesterday's post as I was finishing Quinn's nursing session before bed. Do not ever speak, text, or blog about what easy, great sleeping babies you have as you are going to bed. Babies and God laugh at such occurrences. 

Now you know why I am writing about something so shallow, boring, and just blah... Mama is seriously sleep deprived!

So back to sleeping on my tummy...

The first night after my c-section if I laid at any angle above or below 75 degrees I would (nearly) pass out and/or vomit. Sleeping on my stomach didn't even cross my mind. The second night, due to a calamity of errors, I went 8 hours without my (non-narcotic) pain meds. By 6 am I was about incoherent I was so uncomfortable and sleep deprived. 

I might have shed tears to my husband in those early morning hours while whining," I just want to sleep on my tummy!" Cause clearly that was the most pressing matter at hand.

So I have continued, much to my husbands disgruntlement, to utilize my dear body pillow.

Until last night, around 4:45 am... Sleep was elusive thanks to my teeny tiny (sleepless) rockstar. Your mind starts wandering during these types of hours. Often to unsafe places.

... Remember when you slept for more then 2.5 consecutive hours?

... Remember when you only had one baby and could just sleep in/nap after sleepless nights.

... Remember when you could flip over onto your stomach and be sound asleep in 2.5 seconds?

Wait! Stomach sleeping? Oh I have missed you! Maybe I'm ready?!

So slowly over I flip...

Ah, it felt so good!! Until it didn't.;) 

I do not advise getting out of bed from a stomach-lying position by pushing yourself up with your arms. Vinyasa yoga style. Your abs haven't moved like that since about your 6th week of pregnancy, and the tissues around your healing incision are not meant to move in such a fashion!!

So, tummy time is going to be reserved for the infant in our home for now. However, my brief time in the prone position did serve as a reminder of the glorious sleep I once experienced... During times when there isnt a newborn in our house. 

I will again someday. When my baby(ies) are older. 

While I can't say I will ever long for the sleepless nights, I am already sad that someday in the future newborns won't be a part of our life. 

So until my tummy is ready to help/allow me blissful sleep (and Quinn sleeps through the night) I am off to apply extra cover-up under my eyes. Sleep deprivation isn't a good look on anyone!

In the mean time this little nugget sure seems to enjoy sleeping on her tummy (while mommy is awake and watching near by).

Day 1: happy due date day

Today is this little lady's due date.

However, instead of still gestating inside me, she is nearly a month old!

I am always super thankful for each and every pregnancy, and the new life they bring. Yet I enjoy my babies in my arms way more then when they are nestled under my uterus!!

I should mention I have (so far) been blessed with super easy babies. They eat  and sleep like champs, and cry very little. 

The second newborn experience has been so similar to our first go around with a newborn, yet so different.

With Quinn, I realize not only just how quickly the newborn flies by (even though during those 3 am feedings I could swear we are trapped in eternity) but also how rare and priceless my few alone moments are with her.

When Ellie Faith was born, it was just the two of us most of the day. We had little else to do but cuddle, snuggle, eat, and sleep. My mom told me, soon after she had me, she had heard you couldn't spoil a baby in the first 6 weeks, so she held me constantly. 

I figured I turned ok, so I would use the same method.:) A friend's mom also told me her #1 piece of advice for young moms was for them to sit and watch the baby's eyelashes grow.

I concur!

Quiet, alone time snuggles with my little Quinn Collins are so precious that it gets me out of bed early in the morning, before her big sister wakes up. I can sleep when my babies are no longer babies. It makes me attempt to turn a blind eye to the messy state our house is most often in. I spent too many days longing for babies to mess up our house to waste these messy days by cleaning and not snuggling. It's what keeps us pretty sequestered inside our home those first weeks. My friends are very important to me, but they aren't changing daily at the rate my tiny newborn is.

I am so glad Quinn is my second baby. Even though I have had years of taking care of critically ill babies, bringing home your own 4 lb 11oz tiny human is a wee bit scary, no matter what your professional experience is.

 I learned things with Ellie Faith that prepared me for taking care of Quinn. Things that I truly believe kept her out of the NICU.

Things like using a supplemental nursing system with formula within the first two hours she was born. Both my babies have been born so early (not too early, just right under full term) it takes my milk days to come in. Feedings needed to happen every 2-3 hrs while in the hospital to satisfy the medical staff. This also kept her blood sugars up.

The importance of a good swaddle!! This combined with lots of skin to skin contact  in the first 24 hrs keeps their body temperature up. The swaddle practice I keep up for the first 4-6 weeks. They were still supposed to be cocooned inside me, so I try to mimic that environment as much as possible, to ease their poor little processing systems.

And last, but definitely not least, they don't need to be put on a routine or schedule right out of the womb. A few nights of bed sharing doesn't mean you will have a 5 year old still battling to sleep between mommy and daddy.

A few off schedule feedings here and there will not ruin their sleeping and eating habits forever.

My teeny tiny little rockstar, as Quinn came to be known by our medical staff, needed a little bit extra TLC. I had the book knowledge years ago to care for her, but I didn't have the "mommy-ness" that I now have. I would have stressed, worried, regimented, cried, etc... 

Instead God knew I needed time and training before becoming her mommy. 

And I am so thankful His timing is always perfect. 

Quinn Collins, our little "Quality Control Baby" as we jokingly called you during my pregnancy - you are such a little gift from God and we fall more in love with you every moment of every day!

New to Two

I am really excited about participating (or attempting to participate) in the 31 Days of Writing challenge hosted by The Nester! When I first started this blog we were going through fertility treatments while trying to conceive our first daughter. I was very consistent with my postings. Then pregnancy happened, and I slacked off. Ever present nausea, vomiting, and exhaustion did not lends itself well to writing. However, once our Ellie Faith was born, I started writing again to document my journey through early motherhood. I realized how much I loved it, and how I gained so much personally from blogging. Unfortunately, I have been sporadic at best over the last year. 

This blog has never been about gaining umpteen followers,  a huge readership or sponsors. Instead, over the years I have learned that writing is very therapeutic for me. Sometimes I need to write down all my thoughts, feelings, and experiences to gain the most out of life's lessons. If you have read this blog for any length of time, you know I tend to race head long through life, only to find I have to stop, screachingly, several months down the road to look back, and figure out how the heck I ended up here? Particularly in all things emotional

This summer, while at the beach, I started blogging again. I was getting ready to give birth to our second daughter, our first daughter was/is entering toddler-hood (aka a requiring a whole new level of mothering/parenting!), plus I realized how much I missed writing down my journey through life.

I am a huge believer in sometimes you have to look back to see where you've been,  and where you are now, in order to give thanks. I don't want to ever let my life get so busy, I forget or gloss over the blessings, lessons, or even trials God sends my way. Blogging helps keep me accountable in this area.

While, I would love to think/believe I will actually write something every day for 31 days, I am going to be completely honest - its probably not going to happen. However, I am going to do my best to participate as much as I can. I am using this as a discipline tool in my life.

After the birth of my first daughter, I got us fairly quickly into a pretty set routine. I was new to the staying home routine, after being used to the professional world of 5 days a week. After Ellie Faith's birth, I got up early. Had devotionals. Worked out. Snuggled my baby. Blogged. Cleaned. Cooked dinner. Napped. We are only three weeks into a being a family of four, and I am giving myself time/grace to enjoy and adjust to our new normal, but I can already tell ritual and routine are not going to be as easy this go around. 

And I am ok with that, for the most part. However, I don't want to take it so easy, that I loose all sense of discipline in my free time. Yes, my free time is greatly diminished with the addition of another child, but lets be honest - I still check instagram, facebook, and twitter more then a few times a day. Read blogs. Watch a tv show or two. I have time. Yes, there are days I feel like there really should be at least 4 more hours in the day, but ultimately, if I am being completely honest, while I may not have a ton of spare time, I have plenty of time. I just need to learn to use it wisely.

The vast majority of these post will not be deep or profound. They won't be entertaining or creative. They will probably be really short, and most likely boring to most. But they will be precious to me.

Precious because I intend to simply document our day to day life as we figure out how to parent two tiny females. How to balance household chores while cherishing sweet new born snuggles. Helping the toddler become familiar with who she is created to be, yet providing discipline and boundaries along the way.

These days will be gone all too quickly, and I will miss them and wish I remembered more. So far, I have never written a post I regretted. I do wish I had written more, and captured more memories with words.

So be prepared - many posts may not be posted until/during a 3 am feeding... from my phone. And even then, who knows how coherent they will be. Maybe you can function eloquently between the hours of 2-5am. Not this girl. I will be proud if I muster up a few sentences, that contain only a few grammatical errors, along with a picture or two that I posted to instagram earlier that day.

To learn more about our family, visit my About Me page!

Here's to 31 Days of Writing together!

1 comment:

  1. Oh, I love this! I am about to have two...under two...like you! I will be following along your journey! Check out my 31 day marriage challenge, if you want! Http://talesofbeautyforashes.com