motherhood // and so we wait and surrender

“life is always a rich and steady time when you are waiting for something to happen or hatch” e.b. white from charlotte’s web 

for the past few weeks since we hit full term, i feel as though i can hear the earth's clock ticking.  each profound second, a thick, dull thud, slowly yet steadily creeping round the bend until yet another full minute has gone by.  it's how funny life works.  how patience works.  how ridiculously emotional one can be.  how one week you can be praying for more time, for things to stretch out and linger, and in the subsequent one, wishing life to fly by and land on one precise dot, that future moment you've been dreaming about for months.  how silly we are to wish for things to hurry up, then slow down, and then hurry up again and just happen already.  i am guilty of such silliness.  in taking a step back i see just how wise god truly is, always keeping us in a place of need and on our toes...gently suggesting through our trials and sufferings that we bend our knees and offer our worries and woes up to him, helping us see that the answer lies in surrendering and inching away from the illusion that we are in control of his plan. 

as our family anticipates the arrival of our little one (who is due to arrive any day now) we are met with every emotion.  we are already three weeks past when we delivered our other babies (three whole weeks!) meaning that we will not be delivering a preemie.  interestingly enough, i did not go on progesterone with this pregnancy, however i did get steroids just in case our sweetie needed lung support if early like his/her brother and sister.  all of this being said, we are overjoyed to have made it to this point.  but now that i have reached that full-term mark, i am finding that i am feeling rather ready to get labor going.  seriously, amanda, settle down already.  enough with the wanting!  but if i am being honest here, i have grown tired of the scores upon scores of contractions that that have taken over by tightening and paining my now very sore body.  as i lay on the couch or bed, i'll feel one coming on and so i'll start the timer on my phone, only to find out an hour later that they were false.  and so it goes.  but with each twinge and long pause, my hands gripping the corner of a pillow, i know that they are not in vain.  my body is smart and strong and is getting ready by testing my weary self, preparing me for an impending time when things will indeed be real and i will have needed all that prep work in my back pocket.

as for other things i am learning on this journey, let's throw "embracing the now" into the mix.  as the shadow of my belly outstretches over my red painted toes, i am learning how important it is to be present.  to stop thinking that happiness lies in something based in the future, no matter how badly i want it.  to soak up the richness of all that is right now, albeit quite plodding and pokey, and enjoy these final moments as a family of four.  to relish in our weekends of waking up slowing and reading the paper and chasing the kids around the yard.  to having no plans and keeping it that way.  i love that when i need a good nudge out of my anxiousness, andrew is right there to remind me, "let's take one day at a time, honey." and he's right.  one day, one hour...to allow this slow drip commence and consume us, not in a way that ushers in impatience, but one that fosters gratitude for the gift we've been given to grow a healthy baby.  thank god for that.  

lately i'll catch myself thinking back to that newborn smell, the one of softness and sweetness, the smell that envelopes a mama heart right after they've been born.  i'll reminisce, longing to breathe it in.  i'll think about that and the whole experience of delivery, taking a deep breath, aware that in a matter of a few weeks (or more realistically mere days) i will get to experience this all over again, but with time most likely no nicu.  i dream of our doctor placing our tiny babe in my arms, rather than being whisked away only to be hooked up to tiny wires and tubes.  these thoughts, among other things such as sticking to routine and immersing myself in simple tasks such as baking banana bread and reading to the kids before nap time, are helping me stay calm.  each chore accomplished and each fading sunset reminding me that we are getting closer to meeting our baby.  however, i would be amiss if i did not tell you that there are indeed other times, more fast paced ones, when growing this baby and nearing the finish line feels more like i am running full speed down a steep hill, making me give into the momentum that is carrying me.  this momentum, however scary and powerful, is giving me grace and forcing me to let go.  to again surrender, and know that god, not me, has this.  in the thick of this imbalance where calm and crazy meet, letting go is what wins.  it's what gives me permission to go about life peacefully, presently, laced with a glowing lining of thankfulness. 

so as the hours tick on and we wait for our precious baby, we will be keeping to the rhythm of our everyday.  a load of laundry in the morning, followed by coffee and something sweet.  painting and drawing before nap time, followed by lunch on the porch, even if it's raining outside.  our later afternoons filled with puzzles and playing with tractors.  a simple supper prepared, nothing too fancy, flavored with herbs from our garden.  and before bedtime, few books, bubble baths, and maybe a movie.  and so we wait.  


snippets // as spring turned into summer

1. stella in her favorite dress on her birthday after we had a mama/daughter taco date.
2. andrew and theodore, just melting my heart on our big swing.
3. a special lunch for the ladies, jammies required.
4. daddy found theo's blankie!
5. the night he took his first swing.
6. just a little selfie for ya.
7. he spotted his blankie on the line and that was that.
8. theo being theo in the mud.
9. relaxing at mama and looking up at the trees.
10. stella and daddy on a weekend ride.
11. every morning, he sits next to andrew and watched his put on his shoes.
12. at our favorite nursery on mother's day.
13. playing with her new birthday stickers.
14. saturday pool hangs in the backyard.
15. we were craving a cake.
16. the face of concentration with a touch of sass.
17. enjoying a nice lunch by myself as the littles napped.
18. reading sister's book upside-down.
19. stella's last day of ballet.
20. lunch made with herbs from our garden.
21. being a turkey and rather determined to touch those birdies in our bassinet.
22. looking so peaceful during an afternoon nap.
23. taco night and a little game of let's run around the island!
24. playing with his yellow car as i folded laundry nearby.
25. all the summer veggie cravings right now.


celebrating stella's fourth

birthday's are funny business, let me just start by saying that.  like shaking a jar of river water, they tend to stir up so much sediment in my mama heart, eventually settling into a place that is very much bittersweet.  thoughts of both the past and future flooded my memory bank on birthday morning...like the first time we saw her, touched her, her first time using a spoon, when she used to do that little dance where she shook her booty, when she learned to climb out of her crib, when she started ballet.  and oh, how the years have danced on into the present and our stella bear is one year older.  a bright spot in our days, she is, and with each passing one i find myself echoing the dear grandmas we bump into at the market from time to time in that mmm yes, it goes so fast. 

for stella's fourth birthday celebration we decided to keep it pretty low key, inviting only close family to gather and sing and do birthday things at our home.  i remember back to my birthdays as a little girl when all of my grandparents would be there in the room conversing about, uncles and aunts rushing past, cousins playing outside, their only thought about present opening and what sweet treat would be served alongside ice cream.  for me it was always a "worlds colliding" moment, and a very special one at that.  it is not very often that everyone on both sides of the family is able to sit shoulder to should in our living room.  i think that togetherness is what makes a celebration truly memorable.  as we start our family's birthday traditions, it's important to us that we cultivate a sense of connectedness and joy for our kids as we have here those near and dear to our hearts, to not only shower them with love but to also eat really good cake (of course).  speaking of cake, this french chocolate silk was nothing short of magic.  and to prove that, i have been the leftovers for breakfast every day since.

the day we celebrated stella was relaxing and this kansas city weather couldn't have been more pleasant.  bbq filled our bellies and stell got some pretty neat gifts.  this year, a critter tree house with new mice and squirrel toys, many new books, tickets to frozen on ice, and a bike!  that evening after the party guest made their way home, i waddled behind andrew and stella as they went on their first ride in the neighborhood.  stell worked hard to petal and not get caught up on playing with the ever-exciting bell and streamers, with her daddy following closely behind.  i watched as he patiently coached her, giving little nudges here and there to get her moving up the slanted sidewalk and around fallen branches.  it felt like a movie reel was unfolding before my eyes, for this was a moment we had talked about since dating in high school.  a dream of ours, to grow a little family and give them a memorable childhood.  much like seeing our baby take her first step, or when she called us name, seeing stella on a bike with every intention of doing it herself was so special.  this evening ride capped off the day so beautifully, and with a lump in my throat, i could not help but look up to the flowering, emerald leaves making a bridge over my head and breathe out, "thank you, god."


essential oils // natural birth kit & gentle baby body balm recipe

while beautiful and miraculous, plainly put, giving birth is very hard work.  from both of my experiences, having a baby it is not only physically taxing but very emotionally challenging too.  i think many of us assume, and correctly so, that it will hurt hurt hurt.  while true, i feel that pregnant moms, myself especially included, are unable (undoubtably for good reason) to grasp the toll that labor and delivery will take on their hearts emotionally speaking.  i feel those expecting have a perfect package wrapped up in our minds and when that doesn't unfold the way we've been hoping, everything within our reach, or so it seems, is susceptible to crumble like a dried out sand castle.  or at least that's how i felt in those immediate hours after having given birth.  as excited and overjoyed i was to meet both of our babies, each experience was rather overwhelming.  when a precious life is involved, the stakes are high, and possibly as high as a one can go.  when i think back to how i felt when i had both stella and theodore, the physical pain i had in those intense moments of labor and delivery was fervent, coupled with the raw emotional pendulum we felt chained to as our babies were whisked away from our teary eyes and into the nicu where all was uncertain for far too long.  

let me boldy say, birth is amazing.  it is most definitely beyond and above stringing together words and it is thee most beautiful gift.  but, is also so hard.  growing, having, and meeting our babies was undoubtedly one of the most humble seasons of my life, and if i am being honest, the entire journey was and still is very difficult to emotionally navigate.  i think about those times in the hospital quite a bit, reflecting on each moment as i know i'll be experiencing this all again very soon.  although i am well aware that things could be very different this time around, and i pray every day that they will be, we are taking a few extra steps to help both my physical and emotional healing while i stay in the hospital.  for our third labor and delivery i am taking with me my oils birth kit.  it is packed with simple and natural forms of comfort and healing to aid throughout the whole process.  i have already started using some of these oils to help prepare my body for giving birth, and use certain oils to help calm me down throughout the day when feeling anxious or sensing unease.  i feel so blessed to have these little bottles to help me when i need it, and love even more that they are pure, safe, and made by god.  knowing that i'll have this tool kit gives me a tremendous amount of contentment and i am happy to share it with you. 

gentle baby blend: i'll be diffusing this blend during labor and delivery to help calm emotions and create a beautiful atmosphere as we welcome our little love into the world.  i adore the smell of this oil blend and have been wearing it and diffusing it regularly throughout my pregnancy.  it contains some of my favorite calming oils: lavender, geranium, roman chamomile, rosewood, jasmine, palmarosa, rose, bergamot, ylang ylang, and lemon.  it smells like the loveliest garden and it is what i want to smell during those times of discomfort.  in addition to diffusing, i made a gentle babies body balm with this oil that i've packed in our hospital bag to use after delivery to help my skin.  every oil in this blend is beneficial for skin regeneration and combined with carrier oils it is very soothing.  i will be applying this all over in the hospital, as i am currently, to my belly and legs and back to help my skin as it changes and stretches daily.  this oils blend is also safe for babes when used correctly and one we will be using once our little one is born.

my gentle baby body balm recipe: 

with a hand mixer, whip 1/2 cup of organic coconut oil and 1/4 cup of shea butter until smooth.  add 30 drops of gentle baby oil (you can add a few drops of lavender to this if you are wanting to help calm your uterus down) to the whipped oil mixture and blend in.  melt one teaspoon of organic bees wax pellets in a mason jar.  you can do this using a double boiler method on the stove.  once the bees wax is melted, and stir oils mixture into the wax until fully incorporated.  store in a cool place overnight to let set.  this mixture will harden a little bit creating a soothing yet very soft body balm.  

lavender: this versatile oil is one i have been using throughout my entire pregnancy.  not only does it promote relaxation and help relieve pain, but it may help calm the uterus if experiencing early contractions.  i keep this one nearby and use it neat on my lower abdomen if i cannot get my pre-labor contractions to settle down, which i have been having a lot of.  this oil, paired with a large glass of ice water and laying on my side have helped me and my baby relax. 

claraderm spray: i have heard amazing things about this oil blend spray.  it is a bit of a splurge, but after all i have heard and read i think it will be quite worth it since it contains so many oils that together, create the perfect healing blend for both pre and post delivery.  the oils in this spray are myrrh, tea tree, lavender, frankincense, roman chamomile, and helichrysum with a coconut oil base.  because it is diluted with a carrier, it is safe to spray on your lady bits and is suggested you do so not only after delivering, but also before labor as early as a few months out.  myrrh serves as a liquid bandaid helping avoid infection, lavender and frankincense sooth and heal, roman chamomile is good for skin regeneration and calming, tea tree is anti-bacterial, and helichrysum is known for its amazing restorative and healing properties.  

geranium: this oil is one that can help the perineum before delivering.  to one ounce of almond oil, add ten or so drops of geranium and massage.  this can help prevent tearing during delivery and make for a smoother recovery.  i plan on using this in a sitz bath after delivery as well as this oil is known to help with pain and inflammation.  in addition to helping pull together tissues after delivery, this oil may also help stimulate circulation which in turn can facilitate easier breathing during difficult bouts of labor.

peppermint: this oil may be helpful to relieve nausea before or during labor.  it's a good one to have on hand if you are in need of immediate relief.  i will put a drop of it on the roof of my mouth or simply smell from the bottle if i am feeling sick to my stomach.  note: this oil may hinder your milk supply so keep that in mind.

lemon: adding a drop to ice water may help with swelling and water retention.  i have been doing this once a day to act as a gentle detox to help keep things moving in my system.  it also peps up my water which is nice since i am strictly supposed to be drinking like a hundred glasses a day.

fennel: this oil can help boost your milk supply!  i am bring it along to help increase my lactation by swallowing a drop in a tablespoon of honey a few times before heading home.

peace and calming: i'll be diffusing this blend at night in the hospital and applying on my spine and feet to get a restful (as restful as one can in a hospital) sleep. 

clary sage: this oil is used to help speed along labor, but given that i am in need of the opposite i will not be adding this to my personal birth kit.  however, i do have friends who have used this to help induce labor and swear by it.

gentle babies book: this recourse is one that has helped our family tremendously.  we will be packing it along in our hospital bag as well. 

*if you are new to oils or are wanting more information regarding safety etc. please read below.  if you are wanting to order oils of your own or create your own birth kit, click this link and create a wholesale account.  feel free to leave a comment or shoot me an email if you have further questions!

it's important to note that oils are a great tool to have when it comes to practicing wellness, no matter the season, but if used without knowledge they can be harmful, just like medicine that is used irresponsibly.  this by no means should deter you from using them because they are a great way to keep your family healthy naturally throughout the seasons, just do your homework and play it safe.  education, education, education friends!  also, the information contained on this website is not meant to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.  the information represents what i, an independent distributer of young living essential oils, have chosen to do to take charge of my own personal health and that of my family.  statements on this website have not been evaluated by the food and drug administration.  products on this site are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.  if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition please consult your physical before using these products.  furthermore, information found on this site is meant for educational and informational purposes only, and to motivate you to make your own health and dietary decisions based upon your own research and partnership with your healthcare provider. 

why young living oils you ask?  our family chose to use young living essential oils because they are a seed to seal company, meaning they plant, cultivate, distill, test, and seal the product resulting in a product that is genuine, free of synthetic chemicals, and unmatched in purity.  it is important to note: not all oils are safe to consume or to use even on small humans; furthermore, many oils you find in the supermarket are either diluted or are comprised of a variety of ingredients that will not give you the same health benefits as a product like young living.  i have learned you must check the labels on the oils and do your own research before ingesting any oils, no matter the brand.  likewise, is important to practice caution with any oil or natural remedy you are using at home to ensure the safety of you and your family.  


motherhood // preterm labor & our hospital bag

as i lay in bed with my feet propped up and a cool fan on my face, i am noticing that this sweet babe growing in this belly on mine must be taking a nap, for he or she is usually full of spark, kicking here and there, even rolling across my stomach visible for all to see.  but now, it's late morning and all is calm.  i'll take the calm.  it's a welcomed change of pace.

i am currently thirty three weeks along, and these past few have been a whirlwind to say the least.  because perhaps life in the springtime brings on a season of doing and planting and prepping and such, or being that i get to chase a little boy who loves to eat dirt around all day, my pregnant body has been favoring pre labor contractions for quite some time now.  it has been a bit uncomfortable and rather worrisome, given that we've been down this road of delivering early before.  there has never been a reason as to why i deliver early, other than that is just what happens.  and i suppose if one were to really analyze why my body has been contracting so soon for awhile now, one would eventually chalk it up to because my body just does.  because after drinking all the water and taking all the rests and doing everything my doctor has said, i have been having about four to five contractions an hour.  every hour.  for about a month.  so as of last week, i went in for some steroid treatments to help baby's lungs and tests (fetal fibronectin) that were able to tell us that i would probably not be delivering within the next week or two.  such beautiful news!  alas, i was sent home with strict instructions to "take it easy" aka "bed rest" with minimal to no stairs, no exercise, no lifting, no difficult chores, no getting out of breath etc.  which is easier said than done for a busy body who looks after little ones from sun up to sun down.  but if we can keep this baby cooking for another month, i'll do anything.  so i am cheerfully abiding and while accepting help from anyone that will offer it.  oh you want to bring over street tacos for supper?  okay.  i suppose.  :)  just don't forget the hot sauce. 

much to my disbelief at how fast this all has gone in these final weeks, we are nearing the end of this journey and are so close to meeting this sweet baby of ours.  since i delivered early at 35 weeks with both stella and theodore, packing our hospital bag is my first step in recognizing this is happening.  the bag sitting there by our nursery says, "yes, this is all very real and you are prepared."  i think every new parent, no matter how many children they have, go through a stage of nervousness before meeting their little one.  i think it would be silly not to!  taking care of and raising a little human is an extraordinary responsibility and believe it's a good thing to want to have all your ducks in a row before bringing the new baby home.  my internal mama monologue has been steadily whispering, "are we ready for this?  can i handle this?  three is a big jump from two, because hello...we will be outnumbered!"  but of course we are ready.  i am ready, and quite giddily so.  we cannot wait to stare into the dark eyes of this little one, to breathe in his or her sweet newborn scent, to wake in the middle of the night to nurse and cuddle.  yes we are ready, but keep on baking little bun, we want you to be healthy and strong when you come into the world!

in packing a hospital bag, i am taken back to the time that i didn't have one when we delivered stella.  i laid there on the couch laboring, mind you after my water had broke on a patio when we were out for burgers here in kanas city, and andrew went about in a new dad frenzy shoving things here and there in a duffle.  we forgot nearly everything as i laid there, mid contraction fatigue, telling him, "don't forget the baby clothes!" and "grab me a comfortable skirt to wear!"  not only did we pack far too many things we did not need, but andrew laid out black pencil skirt for me to wear in the thick of this laboring madness.  he was sure that was what i would have wanted to deliver in, never mind the narrowness of said schoolmarm skirt.  we still laugh at that today, him asking me if my pencil skirt has been washed and ready to go for the big event.  and white panties?  no, no, no.  do not bring those either.  

this time around, our third adventure of delivering a baby, we are starting things a little early at thirty three weeks and doing our best to stay ahead of the game.  we will be staying overnight in the hospital with a possibility of having our little one come early, so the contents of this bag are rather substantial to what you may consider.  in keeping with the essentials, plus a few extras to make our hospital stay more comfortable, here is what i have thus far to help me though labor, delivery, and everything to make my recovery in the hours afterward a smooth one.  *some items below are linked to things we have purchased and are going to use, other's not linked are most likely hand-me-downs or do not have a source.  

for mama:

- a few comfy pillows from home

- a soft, stretchy robe
- slippers and a pair of warm wool socks
- lip balm
- a few nursing bras that are comfortable enough to sleep in
- nursing pads
- many pairs of dark underwear 
- two loose fitting tee shirts
- comfortable feminine pads (the ones they give you are practically diapers, and while that's all and good, they are not the most pleasant while walking around)
- body balm (i am making mine and will share the recipe in my oils post)
- one pretty going home shirt (you'll be a bit swollen, or at least i always am, and something pretty helps me feel extra nice on that last day in the hospital) 
- a pair of button down pjs (to make it easy to nurse or pump in the night)
- normal toiletries (i am keeping mine in a bag in the bathroom, ready to go whenever but also ready for everyday use, and don't forget shampoo and conditioner and minimal makeup) 
- two pairs of stretchy, cozy pants (such as yoga pants or thick leggings)
- a warm cardigan for walking the cold hallway
- face towelettes (i love the sage and cucumber made by burt's bees)
- essential oils (i will be doing a post on this later this week about the specific ones i am bringing and why)
- massage oil (i am using ortho ease to help with pain after delivery)
- oil diffuser for delivery and after to calm 
- camera, chargers, and computer
- two warm and comfortable outfits for your husband (hospitals are freezing at night!)
- a few snacks and mints 
- a heating pad for back pain

for our little one: 

- a few cozy and soft onesies (we love the ones with the open bottoms to make changing easier, and if your little one is in the nicu, it helps keep the wires from tangling)

- a soft hat and pair of booties
- a paci (we used this in the nicu for comfort when we were not able to hold our little ones)
- baby blanket
- a few books to read to your babe (we loved doing this with both babes whilst in the nicu)
- two swaddle wraps, one thin and one a bit thicker for layering in the nicu crib 
- a warm and comfortable going home outfit
- approved car seat

i like to gather everything up and wash it all with our baby detergent before packing it away.  for the things that you use everyday, like toiletries and such, make a list and leave it somewhere easy to find, like the top of your night stand or in the bathroom cupboard.  that way, when it is time to finish packing essentials and head towards the hospital you or your husband, depending on who's doing the packing at that point, can remember what else should be included!