Tag Archives: before the blog

Poppyseed Week-by-Week

Here’s a wonderful walk down memory lane!

I wanted to capture on the blog our weekly photography project of little Poppyseed’s first year. We had so much fun completing this project, and it wasn’t too difficult. Chris spent a good deal of time working on this, and I love how you can see how his skills further developed over the course of the year.

Some of the fabric backgrounds are meaningful (the blanket used in her first shot was my baby blanket!), and some are cute prints we picked up at Joann’s. Enjoy!

 

Week 1Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6 Week 7 Week 8 Week 9 Week 10(2) Week 11 Week 12 Week 13 Week 14 Week 15 Week 16 week 17 Week 18 Week 19 Week 20 Week 21 Week 22 Week 23 Week 24 Week 25 Week 26 Week 27 Week 28 Week 29 Week 30 Week 31 Week 32 Week 33 Week 34 Week 35 Week 36 Week 37 Week 38 Week 39 Week 40 Week 41 Week 42 week 43 Week 44 Week 45 Week 46 week 47 Week 48 Week 49 Week 50 Week 51 Week 52

Cloth Diapering

Cloth diapering is definitely gaining in popularity. There is so much good information online about getting started with cloth diapers, choosing the style for your kiddo, care of cloth diapers, and more!

I’m by no means an expert on cloth diapers, but now that we’ve been using (and washing!) them for more than two years, I thought I would share how it works for us.

Why yes I did take a photo of our stash after we purchased it! This was taken March 24, 2011, so Noelle was nearly two months old.

Why yes I did take a photo of our stash after we purchased it! This was taken March 24, 2011, so Poppy was nearly two months old.

*****

The Motivation

Our motivation for cloth diapering was about 99% frugality. Everyone makes his or own decisions and concessions about cost and where to cut corners. For us, this was an easy choice. I know plenty of other parents who cut corners or save money in other ways, but cloth diapering was really something we could get behind.

The other possible 1% motivation was that cloth seemed more gentle for our sweet girl. We liked that by cloth diapering we got to avoid the chemicals that are often found in disposable diapers (sposies). Again, this was just a personal preference. My skin is pretty sensitive, and we’ve found that Poppy’s skin is very similar to mine. So, our foresight here regarding Poppy panned out.

We bought one diaper from a boutique to try before buying our stash. This is Noelle, still too little for the diaper at 4 weeks old.

We bought one diaper from a boutique to try before buying our stash. This is Poppy, still too little for the diaper at 4 weeks old.

The Diapers

We decided early on that we liked bumGenius diapers, and we adored the idea of the one-size diaper. When we ordered our stash, we didn’t follow ANY of the rules you’ll see elsewhere about buying a few different kinds or styles of diapers and experimenting with what works best. We simply tried to think logically about our purchasing decision and committed. Consider that foolish, stubborn (absolutely ;), or just plain lucky, but it worked well enough for us!

Actually, when we ordered our stash, we actually thought we were buying all-in-one (AIO) diapers, which are essentially the closest cloth style to sposies that you can get. AIO diapers require no stuffing and are usually secured with snaps or velcro.

What we actually ordered were bumGenius 4.0 one-size pocket diapers with snaps (our preference over velcro). And, it was a happy mistake because we grew to appreciate having the pocket that we could stuff with different liners to accommodate our growing girl! Our diapers came with a newborn (small) insert and a larger insert. At different points in Poppy’s time in these diapers, we used the inserts in different proportions. After she turned a year old, we started looking into buying new, more absorbent inserts to use, too.

This is Noelle in the same diaper - she is just a few days over 8 weeks here, and it fits much better!

This is Poppy in the same diaper – she is just a few days over 8 weeks here, and it fits much better!

The Maintenance Routine

Can I just say that using cloth diapers on a breastfed baby worked wonderfully? They cleaned very easily and any “staining” was easily sunned out.

We have basically followed the same routine throughout: rinse on cold, wash on hot with cloth diaper safe detergent (see below), and rinse again on cold. We line dried the diapers as much as possible to sun them bright white, but machine drying them worked great, too.

We have washed every other day for the most part, and we store our diapers in a regular trash can with a lid.

The Detergent

When we first purchased our stash, we ordered the bumGenius detergent. We were happy with it, but we had also heard good things about Country Save detergent. Our local grocery store carried Country Save, and it was inexpensive, so we switched. When our store stopped carrying it, I believe we bought another round of the bumGenius detergent before settling on Tide original powder. I’ve heard mixed reviews on the Tide, but it’s worked well for us. We just be sure to buy the very original/basic formula. Any brighteners, scents, etc, are bad for diapers (and sometimes the babies!)

Because of the mixed reviews, when I found myself in a baby boutique last summer, I decided to try the Rockin’ Green detergent they had. Ultimately, I had to stop using that detergent and return to Tide, though. The Rockin’ Green gave Poppy’s diapers a pungent ammonia smell that didn’t wash out. So, we’re still using the Tide original.

The Diaper Cream

We have always used Triple Paste or California Baby diaper creams as needed and have not had any issues with either of those two creams affecting Poppy’s diapers. We intentionally do not use Desitin or A&D and some of the other “common” creams because they are not safe with cloth diapers.

For the record, too, we have needed to use very little diaper cream while having Poppy in cloth. Overwhelmingly, we just use diaper cream for overnight when she is in a sposie for several hours (in which case, obviously, you could use whatever cream you wanted).

Noelle sporting a cute belly button and a green diaper at 13 weeks. You have to admit this diaper is cuter than a sposie! :)

Poppy sporting a cute belly button and a green diaper at 13 weeks. You have to admit this diaper is cuter than a sposie! 🙂

The Wipes

We used sposies for Poppy until she was about 8 weeks old or so. Until that point, it seemed she was too small for the cloth diapers. If we ever diaper another newborn, I’ll be checking into the smaller, newborn styles; but, for our first time, we were happy with the way it worked for us. When we made the switch to cloth diapers, it was an easy switch to use cloth wipes, too. Again, it proved to be one less thing to buy, and I liked that the cloth wipes were more gentle for her sensitive skin.

There are many cloth wipe recipes out there, whether you’re using cloth or just homemade wipes. We settled on regular water, and we couldn’t be happier.

I bought white flannel, cut them into roughly 6×8″ squares, and hemmed the edges. I hemmed them to make sure they’d hold up, but you wouldn’t have to if you didn’t mind dealing with the fraying and/or needing to replace them.

The Fit

Poppy was a tiny 6 lbs 1 oz when she was born – 15th percentile; but she quickly gained to 90th percentile and stayed there the rest of her first year. Our big baby had an even bigger bottom with the cloth diapers she wore! I know different styles fit differently, but it didn’t bother us too much that her diapers were somewhat bulky sometimes. Mostly, the only thing it affects are her jeans; and she doesn’t wear jeans too often anyway.

The Nights

There are many, many wonderful nighttime cloth diapering options out there. We just never bit the bullet and dove in to find the right fit for us. I am pretty sure we started using sposies overnight as a way to cloth diaper and still use up the sposies that had been gifted to us. We have never strayed from that plan!

It’s proven true for us that sposies are more absorbent, so we liked not having to change Poppy overnight or waking up to wet sheets. Yes, it means we do still spend money on diapers, but using them at the rate of 1/day instead of 6-8/day makes a big difference!

Growing Girl

The Days Away From Home

For day trips or quick overnight trips, the only difference between using cloth or disposables is basically the amount of space that the cloth diapers take up verses the sposies. And, since we used cloth wipes, we sometimes brought a bottle of water if we knew water would otherwise be difficult to come by. We bought a size medium Planet Wise wet bag (a waterproof bag) to store the dirty diapers in, and we washed it basically every time that we washed the diapers. For what it’s worth, it’s showing the wear, but after two years of near daily use, I am satisfied with how it’s held up!

For weekend trips, we had to think ahead. Thankfully, most of our weekend trips were to visit my parents, and they had no issue with us washing diapers as needed. And, with 17-22 diapers and a couple of sposies for overnight, we could often make it through a weekend without needing to wash anyway. Yet, if washing were not possible, then we’d either leave the cloth at home or just supplement with sposies. No big deal. We have a large size Planet Wise wet bag that we use for weekends away (or longer!)

The Toddler

Diapering a toddler has been a bit different than diapering an infant. On the “pros” side, the one-size has sure proven itself. It still amazes me that Poppy wears the same diapers that she did when she was so super tiny!

Our only real struggle with cloth has been the annoying leaks. We struggled with leaks more as Poppy got older, and we ultimately had to buy more absorbent liners to use in her diapers. We also try to check her diaper frequently to keep it from getting super saturated (not a bad thing, in my opinion, as it surely keeps her skin healthier!) Recently, we’ve also switched to using sposies during her nap time, too. Again, not really a big deal in the big scheme of things, but leaks are annoying! I’m sure we could have dealt with the problem more effectively, but I guess we found what worked for us!

Baby Noey wearing her fancy panties :)

Baby Poppy wearing her fancy panties 🙂

The Savings

Honestly, I haven’t calculated our savings by using cloth diapers for two years. It would be really cool to do so sometime, though. I’m sure I’d be pleased with what I found. What I do know, however, is that by the time we spent the $270 on our cloth diaper stash when Poppy was still quite young, we calculated that we had already spent roughly the same on disposables.

I know that’s not a fair way to continue to calculate our savings. Those early days, we went through so many diapers ensuring that our newborn’s bottom stayed clean. Still, it was a real eye-opener for us and helped incentivize us to stay the course with the cloth.

*****

Do you use cloth diapers? What works best for you? If you don’t use them, have you ever considered trying them?

Losing Parsley

Telling Parsley’s story brings this blog current in this chapter of our story. We lost Parsley December 2012, almost exactly a year after our first loss, Pepper, in December 2011. Know that we are taking necessary steps to protect whatever blessings God may see fit to give us in the future. We are honored to know that many of you are praying for us as we walk this path.

*****

Upon waking early one Sunday morning, it dawned on me that I just might be pregnant. I had none of my usual tell-tale signs that accompany the opposite scenario.

Honestly, I trembled at the thought. To be pregnant again after two previous losses seemed too much to bear. I fell to my knees under the weight of it all and cried out to The Lord. I cried and prayed, promising Him that I would walk whatever he had for me; that if I were indeed pregnant, I praise His name for the blessing and place the little one into His hands.

After some time in prayer, I worked up the courage, and yes, even the hope to test. A few minutes later, I knew little Parsley existed.

So hopeful Thanksgiving morning, just four days after finding out I was pregnant!

So hopeful Thanksgiving morning, just four days after finding out I was pregnant!

You see, just the day before, Chris and I had an emotional and heart wrenching conversation about our family. In a sense it was a sort of memoir to the road we’d walked for the past year and the ways our faith had been strengthened. We affirmed before God to one another the things we believe: we would not take things out of God’s hands; we would accept the blessing of more children however He sees fit to give them; we would accept His choice of perhaps never granting us more children; and we would be eternally grateful an blessed by His sovereignty in giving us Poppy.

It was one of those conversations that leaves you feeling spent and energized all at once; but mostly, I felt peaceful, in harmony with my God and my husband.

Because of that conversation, the following day’s exciting news was received a bit with fear and trembling. I now know that becoming like Christ is painful.

Yes, Lord, I will follow you. Yes, I will trust you no matter where my path leads. Yes, you are enough. Yes, yes, yes…

And yes, I know where you lead may hurt. Yes, I understand that becoming more like you means dying to self. Yes, I understand my faith is worth more than gold. Yes, yes, yes…

Like times before, I shared the wonderful news with Chris. Could it really be possible that in two-and-a-half years of marriage, this was my fourth pregnancy? Four times to experience the elation of a positive pregnancy test! Four times to celebrate with Chris. I don’t want to sound trite, but seriously – what a blessing. I fully recognize that even the experience of a positive test is a blessing denied to many. And so, I rejoice.

We didn’t really make plans on how or when to announce this new little one’s existence to anyone, but I nearly had to spill the beans the very next day due to some intense morning sickness. I was pretty nauseous with Poppy, but mostly after week 6; and I hadn’t had any morning sickness really with my previous two pregnancies. I was estatic! Morning sickness is generally believed to be the result of strong hormones. Since it was my hormones we had been doubting, I saw morning sickness as a true gift. I know, I know… But, repeated pregnancy loss turns everything upside down.

Thankfully, I made it through a big Thanksgiving prep grocery trip with my mom and Poppy, and we told our parents two days later – the night before Thanksgiving. I just couldn’t hold the news in any longer, and in case we had the opportunity to share at Thanksgiving (you know, the whole go-around-the-table-and-share-what-you-are-thankful-for spiel), I wanted to take it!

Thanksgiving passed without the opportunity to share our news, but I was content. Simply peaceful. Our experience with Pepper motivated us to share big and share early with Basil; but with Parsley, I just felt at ease.

Me and my girl - during the "in between."

Me and my girl – during the “in between.”

My “at ease” feeling lasted exactly one week.

At 4w5d gestation, I was overwhelmed with sadness and fear. It was the first day where my past came back to haunt me, and I was emotionally miserable. I spent the whole day believing that spotting was on its way. In retrospect, it was. Still, it was so insignificant that when things seemed okay the following day, I changed my mind about what I thought I had experienced.

This up-and-down emotion and my body’s confusing signs continued for a few more days, and I felt the stress. The few people who were privy to what I was going through kept encouraging me to stay rested, not panic, release the stress. I think that those were good reminders, but I also think that subconsciously I was preparing for what was coming.

The not-knowing and the fear to hope during that week were agonizing. My sweet mama even reminded me to trust the Lord and hold tightly to Him. It was almost impossible for me to explain at that time that I did trust Him, and He was why I was even able to take one step in front of the other. However, and I want you to catch this because it has been life-altering for me, trusting God doesn’t mean we get the happy ending. If I have learned anything in the past year, I have learned that this is the case. But, you know what? Trusting Him is still worth it. I wouldn’t be able to walk this path if it weren’t for His mercy upon me.

Finally, after more than a week of spotting and pseudo spotting, emotional anguish and many shed tears, I began to miscarry. I was exactly 6w0d.

You may be questioning my use of the word, “finally” above. I’m going to be painfully honest here: in real, tangible ways, it was a relief to know the answer to the unspeakable question. Oh man, did it hurt. I grieved this lost baby whose eyes would never meet mine; whose body I would no longer nourish; whose hand I would never hold. I grieved the loss deeply. But, for better or worse, I was now accustomed to the grief. I knew how to be there. I knew how to feel the pain and keep walking. I knew how to cry one moment and laugh the next. I am learning better and better every day how to dive into the arms of my heavenly Father for my comfort and source of peace.

It’s not that the pain lessens or that my ability to withstand the blows strengthens. It is simply that when I am weak, He is strong. And in those moments, I was weaker than I had ever been.

The “finally” means that “finally my sweet baby sees the face of Jesus.” “Finally, I can find peace and not worry.” “Finally, I can stop fearing to hope.” Finally.

Gratefully, Chris was able to be home with me through the next few weeks. That had not been the case when I lost Basil, and I could tell how having my husband with me daily made an overwhelming difference. We decided after a day-and-a-half of bleeding to go to the doctor. They were able to confirm with an HCG blood draw that I was indeed miscarrying. The doctor I saw was very genuine and compassionate – a relief to my previous two experiences. I didn’t even need to return to the doctor; I simply took another HPT a week-and-a-half later to see that opposite. That negative.

God was very gracious to me as this third miscarriage was the easiest physically. And, at the risk of attributing my experience to others’ – I have found that the emotional road to recovery somewhat mirrors the physical. It’s easier to begin healing emotionally when your body is healing easily, too.

And so my fourth pregnancy became my third miscarriage. My third child to know only the richness of heaven – to see the face of Jesus before the face of his or her mama.

I love you sweet Parsley… baby number four.

Poppyseed’s Birth Story

Happy 2nd Birthday sweet girl! In honor of your special day, I share the beginning of your story…

Oh childbirth. What an amazing rite of passage.

This is our story, Poppy’s and mine. This IS a birth story, so consider yourself forewarned.

If you’re a guy or otherwise not interested in the nitty gritty, here’s the basic version:

I was pregnant for several months. One day, contractions started, and Chris and I went to the hospital where, after a few hours, Poppy was born. She was healthy; I was healthy. All was well.

And, if that’s not enough for you, here’s the rest of the story (written shortly after birth with a few current updates and thoughts)…

I feel so blessed to have the birth story that I do with Poppy. After having such a wonderful pregnancy, I was sure my luck was going to wear out when it came to labor and delivery.

I had my first internal exam at 37w5d, and Dr. Andrews said I was 80% effaced and 1 cm dilated. She said that was a great place to be at my gestation. That was also when I felt confident to say that I had indeed been feeling some very minor Braxton hick’s contractions. Early on in my 38th week, I had one night where I was woken up every two hours with a BH contraction. They weren’t too painful at all, but they woke me up. They didn’t continue through the next day, at least not with any regularity. I didn’t really feel any different, though I was getting weary with work that week. I was looking forward to my Thursday (38w5d) appointment so I could leave work early. At that appointment, Dr. Andrews walked in and asked, “Is tonight your night?” She was very lighthearted and reported that I was 2 cm dilated, 100% effaced, and would not be pregnant by Valentine’s Day (more than two weeks away!). However, she also let us know that she was on call all weekend should we need her.

Pregnant

My last belly photo (38 weeks) before Poppy made her arrival!

We left the appointment feeling great; and while we were out, we decided to wash the car. I vacuumed it out, too, and then we went home for our normal evening together. I had no inclination about anything, feeling no different at all. I had some spotting and cramping, but I assumed it was from the internal exam, which is what had happened the previous week, too. We went to bed, probably between 9:00-10:00 PM, and I was awoken around 11:30 PM with what I thought was a BH contraction. I fell back asleep, only to be awoken again about an hour later. I can’t remember if I told Chris about the first contraction, but I’m pretty sure he woke up with me for the one around midnight. Then, I had a third contraction a little after 1:00 AM on January 28. From then on, the contractions came at 1:30 ish, 1:50 ish, and 2:25. When my next one came at 2:40 AM, we decided to start timing them. The one at 2:40 AM lasted 1:26. They then came as follows:

2:51 AM – 1:16 || 3:01 AM – 1:28 || 3:20 AM – 1:20 || 3:27 AM – 1:20 || 3:37 AM – 2:08 || 3:45 AM –1:00 || 3:52 AM – 1:21 || 3:59 AM – 1:02 || 4:07 AM – 1:15 || 4:14 AM – 1:08 || 4:21 AM – 0:58 || 4:27 AM – 0:40 || 4:31 AM – 0:40 || 4:34 AM – 1:25 || 4:40 AM – 1:06 || 4:46 AM – 1:40 || 4:54 AM – 0:40 || 5:05 AM – 1:00 || 5:10 AM – 1:08 || 5:17 AM – 1:08 || 5:24 AM – 1:13 || 5:30 AM – 0:48 || 5:34 AM – 0:33 || 5:39 AM – 1:22 || 5:46 AM – 1:35 || 5:51 AM – 0:32 || 5:56 AM – 1:41 || 6:01 AM – 1:19 || 6:07 AM – 1:20 || 6:11 AM – 1:11

And my next one came at 6:15 AM, but we were no longer tracking them since we had arrived at the hospital by then.

But, to back up and fill in the gaps: after the three contractions in the 1:00 AM hour, we decided it was pointless to try to go back to sleep. We found the information from the doctor’s office to try to refresh our memories on what we were to do once I was in labor. Then, we just killed time. Chris finished packing the hospital bag; we watched an episode of The Office on Hulu.com; Chris set up the baby bed; I took a shower to get more comfortable, etc.

Around 4:00 AM, I logged on to my work email to let my boss know that I wouldn’t be at work that morning. I remember writing him that I didn’t know if I would be at the hospital or not but that I definitely wasn’t going to make it to work by 8:00 AM. I also set my out-of-office assistant, just in case. Most of the time, I breathed and labored through contractions standing up but bent over onto something (the desk, table, bed, etc.) swaying my hips. Mostly it was very effective, and I felt really good about my pain tolerance.

It was finally around 5:45 AM that we called the doctor’s office to speak to the answering service. I let the lady know that I thought I was in labor, and she said she would let the doctor know. Dr. Andrews called me back at 6:00 AM, and I was so embarrassed to have to breathe through a contraction with her on the phone. She told me to head to the hospital and that she would let them know I was coming. Chris loaded the car while I continued to labor, and we left the house at 6:30 AM. By then, I was becoming quite tired after having been up all night. We were at the hospital probably only 10 minutes later or so.

I don’t really think I had a “this is it” moment. Maybe because I was hesitant to get my hopes up if it wasn’t the real thing; maybe I was just too tired; or maybe I was relaxed enough to just let everything happen without over-thinking it (if you know me at all, you know this last option would be miraculous if true!).

When I got to the hospital, triage had me change into a gown and get into bed to monitor baby’s heartbeat and my contractions. Writing that sentence was so easy. However, this was part of the hardest part! I didn’t want to talk to anyone; I didn’t want to lie in bed; I didn’t want any monitors on me; and I had to stop while changing clothes a few times for contractions to pass!

It didn’t take them long before they assured me that I would be staying at the hospital (dilated to a 3) and let me walk into my labor and delivery room. Soon after, the doctor came to check on me. She asked if I was getting an epidural, and I said that I was hoping to avoid it. I loved that no one second-guessed me. If they had, I may have buckled. Dr. Andrews really soothed me and helped me to relax, looking me straight in the eyes and telling me to breath and relax my shoulders. She checked me and determined I was already almost 7 cm dilated. Then, she left, and I continued laboring.

I was in a lot of pain as they hooked me up to the fetal heart rate and contraction monitors because I had to lie down on my back. It hurt my back, and it was so hard to work through the contractions in that position. I began to doubt my ability to go medication-free when my movement was constricted. I was also so tired and weak feeling (note to self and others – eat and drink when you can, even if you don’t think you need to!). The nurse and student nurse had some trouble putting in my saline lock IV. I was pretty dehydrated, so my veins weren’t very “plump.” It hurt quite a bit – the IV was a welcome distraction from the contractions and vice versa!

Our plan was to call our parents once we knew we would be staying at the hospital, but we had no cell service in the labor and delivery room. So, I think it was about 9:30 AM before I gave Chris the go-ahead to go get our bags from the car and call our parents. I was a little hesitant about letting him leave me, but it worked out well. I sat completely upright in bed, bracing on the bedrails and breathing through each contraction. I think it was then that I really started to relax. I think I just moved into a routine, and I was pretty focused (and pretty tired). I didn’t do much but try to stay relaxed and breath (hee hee hee ho). I surprised myself by wanting to stay in bed, but I think I just felt too alone and exposed to get up without Chris there with me.

Thankfully Chris got back in short order, and it wasn’t long before the contractions began to get worse. Chris tried to sooth me by touching me or rubbing my back, but it didn’t feel good to me. I think that it distracted me from staying focused. The nurse asked if I wanted to get out of bed and try the birthing ball. I really didn’t want to move, but I didn’t want to lose out on my chance to labor in all different ways. I think I got out of bed too late for the birthing ball, though. It hurt too much to sit on it.

I could tell that the contractions were getting harder because I could no longer maintain my previous breathing pattern (looking back, I am pretty sure I was in transition then). I switched to quicker one in and one out breaths, trying to focus on not breathing too quickly. Because sitting didn’t work, I called Chris to me, and I lay on his shoulder, and we swayed back and forth. Moving my hips felt so good, but it had to be precisely one way. Chris tried to widen his stance to hold me up better, but that brought him down too low, and I couldn’t handle it. He also tried to move only his hips instead of completely swaying with me. That didn’t work either. So, Chris worked quite hard! It was during this standing and swaying that I felt the urge to push.

At first I thought, oh wow! We must be close. Because of stories I had heard from other women, I figured that when I told the nurse that I wanted to push, she would tell me to wait, call the doctor, get me back in bed, etc. But instead, she nonchalantly said, “Okay. Do what you feel like you have to do.” So I began bearing down through the contractions, and Chris basically had to hold me up. It didn’t necessarily feel good to push, but it did feel like a relief.

In retrospect, it was finally at this point that the nurse thinks my water broke. It didn’t occur to me until well after Poppy had arrived that I didn’t even know when or if it had broken. There was definitely no gushing for me, and all those days spent sitting on a towel-lined trash bag in my car became laughable.

After my water broke, I really thought I needed to use the restroom. Because the nurse didn’t seem to think I was as close to delivering as I thought I was, I decided it was safe to sit on the toilet (it felt good – relieved some pressure). But when the nurse saw I was on the toilet, she hurried in and checked me internally. That’s when she started to “panic” a bit, and hurried me into bed while calling for the student nurse to get the doctor over to my room. It didn’t seem like much time before the doctor was there, and Chris said she came in out of breath! They got me into position and asked me to push so they could see what was happening.

Then, everything kind of blurred together. At some point, the room filled with people, and they told me to push. I just closed my eyes and pushed as hard as I could, holding on to my legs. I think it was the second contraction that they encouraged me to push harder and longer, and I think that was when she crowned. One nurse told me to open my eyes and look at baby’s head, but I refused. For one, I didn’t really want to; and for two, I couldn’t imagine spending any extra effort – I wanted to stay focused! It was then no time at all before she was out and a nurse told me to open my eyes and look at my baby!

First look

I will treasure this photo forever! Chris was johnny-on-the-spot with the camera and captured this even before she began to pink up!

The first thing I noticed was baby’s big blue hands. Then, they announced that she was a girl! Poppy was here! I looked up at Chris and said something like, “of course!” So many people thought we were having a boy. They laid her right on my tummy, and she was beautiful.

She was born at 10:37 AM on January 28, 2011. Six pounds and one ounce. Nineteen and three-quarters inches long. God’s precious gift to us!

I had a weird experience though – I think I thought I would recognize her, and I didn’t (obviously). It kind of threw me for a loop but made me quickly remember that she is a brand new human being! I had never seen her before – no one had!

“For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them.

How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How great is the sum of them!
If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand;
When I awake, I am still with You.” Psalm 139:13-18

I was hooked up to pitocin so I would continue contracting, and it wasn’t long before it was all over. Poppy lay with me for a long time. One nurse tried to take her from me, and I asked if I could keep her because by that time Dr. Andrews had informed me that I had a second-degree tear and needed to be stitched up. The needles hurt, and I felt some tugging, but the stitches were a non-issue.

Our first family photo!

Our first family photo!

We actually spent a fair amount of time in the delivery room after Poppy was born. Daddy gave her her first bath, and I ate the best food of my life. Seriously, I was so hungry that they probably could have fed me spam, and I would have loved it. Instead, I got this really tasty pasta and veggie dish. Poor Chris was a champ at letting me fill up first, even though he was also hungry!

Poppy wasn’t warming up very easily and it took us a while to realize that was because I wasn’t warm at all! (I definitely went through the post-delivery shakes that you hear about). Thankfully, she didn’t have to spend too much time under the warmer before we were good to go. We settled in to our mother/baby room, and looked forward to some privacy and getting to know this sweet new baby!

Reflecting on my first-time, hospital, medication-free birth leaves me feeling so blessed. Though there are so many horror stories out there about unnecessary inductions and interventions, I had a really great experience, and there is very little that I would change. Actually, there are only two three four things I would change: first, I would have liked to avoid the IV. It wasn’t a huge deal to have it, and they did end up giving me some fluids because I was dehydrated, but I believe that there are other ways to achieve the same results. Secondly, I really am bothered that they gave me Pitocin after she was born. This was not something I knew to discuss with Dr. Andrews before-hand, and she never brought it up. I think it was completely unnecessary and seemed to be something they just did. Some women absolutely need extra care if there are big risks of hemorrhaging, but I don’t believe I was one of them. Third, I wish I had been able to push following my own timeline and not be told when to push. I believe this is why I tore. And finally, I think it’s obvious that lying down to deliver a baby is a little counterproductive. It’s definitely one of those “this is just how it’s done” decisions that is super convenient for the doctor and not so convenient for the mama. Oh well.

I want to emphasize though how extremely blessed we are. Poppy was born healthy, and I absolutely know that is nothing to take for granted. I had a good team supporting me, and I am pretty much thrilled with the end result.

Noelle Irene

Sweet baby

Consider this a stone of remembrance. God is good.

Losing Basil

Our announcement photo

Sweet Basil’s would-be estimated delivery date is quickly approaching, and so I remember.

Basil changed my life.

Carrying on with the “herb garden” theme for naming our pre-born babies, we affectionately dubbed baby, “Basil.” For some reason, it might just be my favorite of the names we’ve used so far.

I found out I was pregnant on Mother’s Day 2012. Perfect, right? I thought so, too, and viewed it as a happy sign from God that all would be well with the little bean.

More happy “coincidences” gave me confidence that this would be our next take-home baby. Poppy would finally have a little sibling to love and grow up with. Chris and I would get to enjoy newborn snuggles and the joy of meeting a new little human once again.

One of those “coincidences” was my would-be due date – the end of January. Two years apart exactly! And, can I just say how much I loved being nine months pregnant in the winter? And, ridiculous but true, I already had the perfect first birthday planned for sweet Basil. It’s a theme I found just a little too late for Poppy’s first birthday – Winter One-derland! My pun-hating husband would just have to deal. It is that cute.

Needless to say, it was mere days (hours?!) before I was yet again all in with this little blessing.

I wonder if all women behave the way I do upon learning of a new miracle growing inside of them. I would imagine so. But, sometimes I wonder if this is a personality trait that makes losing my babies that much harder for me. Then I remember that it’s not meant to be easy. I don’t want to think of losing my sweet babies as easy. It isn’t. By no stretch of the imagination do I think miscarriage should be viewed casually. After all, we’re speaking about eternal souls.

But I digress.

The early days passed similarly to how I remember them going with Poppy. Similar symptoms and all. Even though the fear of a second loss was real, I think I genuinely believed deep down our hard days had passed.

Sadly, so many women experience miscarriage at least once in their lifetime. Overwhelmingly, most women carry healthy babies to term the next go around. I was relieved — we had gone through the fire and come out alive. We “passed the test” and would now be home free.

Man do I have a lot to learn sometimes.

We had so much fun with this pregnancy. In hindsight, God blessed us with the ability to genuinely celebrate this little life despite lingering fears or life’s complications. We purchased a sweet little pair of gray shoes from Target that we excitedly used to put together a little photo project (Thank you Pinterest). We printed the photos and mailed them off to family and friends. We even attempted to mail them in waves so that everyone would receive them on the same day – local or far away.

Poppyseed

She was a cutie that day – loving the marshmallows we used to bribe her to stay still!

We were visiting friends the day their photo arrived. Because we were itching to tell them the news, we made up some (mostly true) story of our days living in Denver and how memorable our walks were each night to check the mail. They thought we were nuts but gave us the mailbox key and sent us on our way. We all laughed moments later once the secret was revealed.

Just a few days after receiving all the wonderful and exciting congratulatory calls, texts, and notes, the spotting started.

I was 6 weeks 6 days and, while nervous, reassured myself that I had spotted with Poppy in my 6th and 7th weeks. All would be okay.

Because we had moved from Denver, I was seeing a new doctor. I had been in once for them to say, “hey! You’re right! You really ARE pregnant!” They also mentioned that they’d like me to call if I spotted so they could check things out. At the time, that was reassuring because not doing anything when losing Pepper felt… too passive.

After 24 hours or so of spotting, I made the call and got the appointment. I was to go to the lab for some blood draws and then proceed to get an ultrasound. Strangely, even though I was nervous, I was also excited. I truly thought all was well and this would be a chance to put my mind at ease. I also remembered reading that once the baby’s heartbeat was seen on ultrasound, the odds of miscarriage decreased. I would imagine that’s the case because so many babies die before they reach week 6 or so, generally about the earliest a woman will get an ultrasound.

Chris was in rotation number two for his final year of pharmacy school and was 3.5 hours away. It just wasn’t possible for him to be there. My mom had a conflict that day, too. So, my dear cousin offered to accompany me to help with Poppy. I didn’t want to leave her home, “just in case” I needed her hugs when it was all said and done.

Poppy hated the lab draws, but thankfully I remembered that from the first appointment I had, so my cousin was able to distract her a bit. We then got called back for my ultrasound.

Last minute, I remembered I had intended to show my cousin how to use the video camera on my iPhone to capture that little beating heart for Chris. I was trying to quickly show her how, and it went downhill quickly from there.

“Um, what are you doing?” The tech asked curtly. When I started to explain, he cut me off and said, “that’s not a good idea.” The nurse jumped in and pointed out that a sign on the front door of the clinic prohibits photography anyway. Sheepishly, we started to put my phone away when the tech pushed, “you’re here because you’re spotting right? So what makes you think this will be good news?”

Cue internal waterworks, fury, and silent prayers. Turns out I saw firsthand the truth in our blog verse, “He works all things for the good of those… Yadda yadda.” If it hadn’t been for that doctor’s insensitive and borderline harassing words, I wouldn’t have braced for the worst and cried out to The Lord for his strength to make it through the rest of the appointment. So there, rude tech. God used your ill-spoken words for my benefit. Good wins again.

My not-at-all-pregnant-looking 7 week 1 day belly was bared and the ultrasound started. I don’t remember how long it took before he spoke, but I think I knew instantly. There was no fluttering light heartbeat or dancing gummy bear images that I had seen with Poppy. Something was wrong.

I had always imagined that a missed miscarriage would be the worst “kind” to experience. To think all was well, go in for a routine appointment and find that baby was gone, and your body wasn’t yet ready to let go. While that still may be the worst experience, what I experienced that day was a whole new version of horrific.

A blighted ovum occurs when fertilization happens and hormones surge and symptoms develop, but baby dies before or shortly after implantation. A placenta and gestational sac continue to develop for a time, keeping the hormones up and symptoms flying. But, there was only a baby for the shortest time.

Experiencing a blighted ovum made me feel cheated. Like even the celebratory moments and days, the photo announcement, the symptoms were all a lie. Most of this pregnancy, I had been day dreaming about a baby that God had already gathered into His almighty arms.

I left the ultrasound feeling battered. The nurse and tech had certainly not redeemed themselves through the rest of our time together, and then no one at the front knew what to do with me. Follow-up appointments? More lab work? Any guidance for what to expect? No one could give me any information at all. Thankfully, one careful nurse found me in the waiting room and gave me an action plan.

I left bewildered, devastated, and shocked. Not only did I not know how to process my emotions but I certainly didn’t know how to process them in my cousin’s presence. She was wonderful. I just missed Chris with every ounce of me.

Thankfully Poppy fell asleep on our drive home and after my cousin left, I had the freedom to break down. It was definitely one of those wrestling matches with The Lord. Though I had technically been in this place before with Pepper, everything was so different this time. I wrestled and cried and cried and wrestled.

Frankly, that process continued for a long time — a very long time. In many ways, I’m still that girl, sitting on the couch trying to make sense of this path God has us on. This path that no one would ever choose but that I have to believe – know with my deepest being – is God’s best for me, even if I never understand.

The actual miscarriage process thankfully started the next day at 7 weeks 2 days. Often, women diagnosed with a blighted ovum must have surgery to complete the miscarriage because the body just never catches on. Some information I read even suggested that it wasn’t safe to diagnose a blighted ovum before 9-10 weeks in case the ultrasound imaging was just inaccurately presenting the status of the womb. I couldn’t imagined waiting it out, praying my body would enable me to avoid surgery.

So, as utterly painful as my natural miscarriage was, I see it as a blessing from God. I’m thankful that my body seems to take care of me in this way, at least.

There’s so much more to say about our sweet Basil; but mostly, I just can’t wait to meet this eternal soul that God allowed me to usher into heaven. In the moments when it all feels too hard–when I am not sure I can bear to walk this path any further, I have to remember that God is using Chris and me. He is populating heaven through our obedience and our desire to love and serve Him.

I am unworthy.

Losing Peppercorn

We started out with Poppyseed.

She was the size of a poppy seed when we learned I was pregnant. We thought the prenatal nickname was cute, and it stuck clear through my pregnancy. Poppy.

We didn’t really plan ahead, but it wasn’t long after seeing those beautiful pink lines for the second time that Chris declared our second little one, “Peppercorn.” I can remember giggling about our newly discovered secret on the airplane back from California where we had just spent a few days celebrating an early Christmas with Chris’s family. But that’s not where the story started.

Poppy was nearly eleven months old, and I was starting to not only admit but embrace that baby fever had returned. Before we left for California, a friend shared that she was pregnant. That was all it took to make me suspicious myself, but an early home pregnancy test showed negative. We flew to California without any reason to suspect otherwise.

It wasn’t long, though, before my suspicions began to grow again with each passing day. By the time we said farewell and began the drive back to the airport, I was so convinced that even Chris was excited to find out the truth. A quick detour to a drug store to grab some tests, and off to the airport we went.

I didn’t plan to test at McCarren International Airport, but I tell you what. Those tests burn a hole through the pocket of any woman who thinks she’s pregnant or wants to be pregnant. Kind of a “have test will pee” mantra. Well, lo and behold, those two pink lines greeted us in Vegas. (Chris wondered aloud to me how many other pregnancy tests are used in the Vegas airport… but that’s a whole other topic).

Noelle

Our sweet girl just a few hours after we found out about Pepper!

Can I just stop right here to say what goes through a type-A planner’s mind when she finds out she’s pregnant? Within twenty-four hours, I had lists prepared, a birth center orientation on the calendar, and brainstorms galore of many of the decisions we’d make in the next nine months or so. I was all in.

Sadly, I might have known that Pepper wasn’t going to be with us long (there were a few signs), but my heart was instead full of hope and already 100% committed to this new little life. Less than 48 hours after seeing those pink lines, I began to miscarry. I was – as best as I could tell – 4 weeks 6 days pregnant.

Where do I start in relating the grief? There were oh-so-many tears. Confusion. Lists tossed in the trash, and appointments cancelled. I called my sweet mama before 6:30 AM, and all I could say through my tears were, “Mama, I think I’m miscarrying.” She had to absorb two truths in a matter of seconds. I was pregnant. But no, I wasn’t.

She listened, prayed, and gave me advice. I sent an email to my boss and another person at work to let them know I wasn’t sure when or if I would be able to make it into work that day because I was not well. Then, we waited until my doctor’s office opened and gave them a call.

Some estimates suggest that up to 25% or more of all pregnancies end in miscarriage. Many sources claim that there are several women who may miscarry without realizing they were ever pregnant. I suppose that’s a simple enough occurrence if the woman is irregular, a test is never taken, and the baby goes home early enough.

It is probably because of the statistics and my baby’s early gestation that my doctor’s office didn’t even want to see me. After insensitively suggesting that I’ll likely never be able carry a pregnancy while breastfeeding (which I was doing at that time and even though several other sources suggest otherwise), I was given the warning signs to watch out for – hemorrhaging, fever, unbearable pain, signs of infection – and told to wait out the bleeding. There was nothing to be done, true, but “waiting it out” felt difficult to do. The nurse told me to wait a week and take another home pregnancy test. If it was negative, I could consider all as well–as well as I might be post-natural miscarriage. If the test were to be positive, I’d have to make an appointment to see if I needed extra medical attention or if, by some miraculous chance, I hadn’t actually miscarried and baby was still well.

The next week or so proved to be extremely difficult for me. Because we had only known about Pepper for a few days, we hadn’t had a chance to tell anyone our good news. Now that the news had turned bad, I didn’t know how or what or when to say something to anyone. Add to the complications that we were supposed to drive home to my parents’ house the next day – December 23 – to spend several days there celebrating Christmas with them and the rest of my extended family, and I was overwhelmed. I’d rather have climbed in a hole.

Much of what kept me taking one step after another was that this was Poppy’s 1st Christmas. You don’t get those firsts back, and I didn’t want to look back on those memories with regrets, no matter how much we were grieving. For better or for worse, we continued on with our plans and spoke to no one other than my parents (who already knew from the horrible wake-up phone call) of our hidden pain.

Aside from the happy memories we were (thankfully) able to make, I remember much of the time spent a bit disillusioned and crying. I asked all the questions: Why me? Why now? What were we supposed to do next? How is it possible for such a teeny tiny human being to grab a hold of my heartstrings so quickly and so thoroughly?

Family

A picture’s worth a 1000 words, but this one certainly doesn’t tell the whole story.

Baby with ornaments

Despite the struggle, we certainly made Poppy’s 1st Christmas a memorable one!

We survived our Christmas break and certainly did our best to thrive. Physically, I was experiencing the equivalent of a very angry period, but I hung in there. We returned home, and I took my test one week after I had started bleeding. Positive to negative in one week. Pregnant to not in a matter of moments.

Expecting to grieving.

In many ways, I think that abrupt shift in thinking can rock a person. Add in the quick rise and fall of pregnancy hormones, a major holiday, and a thousand other things that seem unbearable in the moment, and you feel like you just need distance. Distance from the situation, from others, and from the emotions that are raging.

Praise the Lord that He knows what I need even better than I do. Praise Him that no matter what, He refuses to distance Himself from me. Praise Him that He has given me an amazing support system. And praise Him for the blessing of Pepper, now safely a happy, healthy citizen of heaven.

We can’t wait to meet you one day, sweet thing.