Friday, May 11, 2018

how to enjoy paris - with three tiny children!

We decided  to embark on our ex-pat adventure to the Netherlands for a few key reasons, with one being that we wanted to travel more around Europe and beyond!

I sat talking with a mama at coffee when the kids first started school here.  She was a seasoned ex-pat with several kiddos of her own, and she had that fabulous, confident aura of wisdom about her.

So I asked, "Where would you recommend we take our kids first for a long weekend?"

"Paris!" was her immediate response, and she started rattling off all the amazing things that are kid-friendly in the City of Love.

I listened a bit doubtfully.  Paris? From what I remember on my high school German trip, it was kinda crazy, with a bunch of museums,  masses of tourists, and crazy drivers.  (Thankfully we were in a tour bus!)  However, I had once told Finola, my almost five-year-old, that I would take her to the Eiffel Tower and we would have a picture together there -- just here and I!  She loved the idea and we subsequently talked about it on a regular basis.

Now was our chance!

Despite my doubts, our first long weekend here - Easter! - we were hopping in our newly-acquired station wagon and driving across the border to France.

First, let me say, driving across Europe is a delight - if for the gas stations alone!  Forget dirty truck stops with Icee machines and an obligatory Subway or Mickey D's.  French gas stations are gourmet!  I was pleasantly surprised to find a hot food cafeteria, which sold fresh bread, IG-worthy desserts, and next to the checkout...bottles of wine!  Which they will uncork for you, but not re-cork...so...might want to have a wine stopper in your purse.  Just sayin'.  I threw away some perfectly good rosé.

And if you are judging me for drinking wine at a gas station while on a road trip with kids...then you probably don't have kids.  Or you don't have three kids.  Or your kids have devices which keep them quiet in the car.  And hey, I wasn't driving, so, I indulged.  Viva la France!

Without further adieu, here are a few mama tips for seriously enjoying Paris with your three small kids...

1.  Stay within walking distance of the Eiffel Tower.  We walked about 30 minutes to get there, taking in the charm of the Parisian streets, and stopping for crepes if we were hungry at the cafes that abound.  We have three kids - ages 6, 4, and 6 months - so thirty minutes was about our max.  We pushed the baby in the sit-n-stand and the older two took turns riding, too.  We also brought a baby carrier along to be able to mix things up!
One of the days stopped for crepes + coffee at Le Dome, a cafe super close the Eiffel Tower.
A mama-daughter 'cheers' to Paris!
2. When choosing a spot - rent a private Parisian apartment, rather than a hotel.  Find one with kid-friendly bedrooms and toys!  I much prefer having some personal space when traveling with kids, and when they have a separate bedroom everyone wins.  I mean everyone.  On every level.  Just sayin. ;)  I loved ours, as it was in the city and convenient to everything, and I felt for the weekend as though we were real Parisians.  Also, was no more expensive than getting a hotel in the same area.
we had a lovely terrace with city views.

our place was beyond adorable. you cannot get this charm at a hotel.
the blondies adored their bedroom.
Baby Whit probably enjoyed himself as well.
hubby did breakfast runs to the market each morning.
most of our meals were purchases at a little market across from the street.  oh, and we ordered pizza twice. #noshame
3. Go to the Eiffel Tower at dark!  Let the kids run around (you know, near you) while you and your love drink wine or champagne underneath it!  This happened for us at about 9pm. Just throw a reasonable bedtime out the window that night!  At 10pm the Tower started twinkling!   My advice is to bring your own bottle of wine (and that trusty bottle opener) or you'll spend 25 euros for a mediocre bottle of red.  Wine is inexpensive at the grocery shops along the walk there.

4. Spend an entire day hanging out around the Eiffel Tower.  (Do you sense a theme here?) With kids this is the way to go!  There are many super cute, fenced playgrounds that provide a beautiful view of the tower.  Pick up a baguette, some fancy cheeses, and an assortment of tapas at one of the supermarkets on your walk there.  Or there is the loveliest food stand with red metal tables right by the playground with the mini-carousel.  The pastries and sandwiches there are so, so delicious.  There is also hot mulled wine, and really good coffee.  You can sit and stare at the Eiffel Tower as you enjoy it all.  Your kids can act like fools and run around the lawns, which would normally make you crazy but cest la vie you are in Paris at a casual outside park and it is encouraged that they run and act like normal little kids.

5. Buy some cheap felt berets and then head to one of the two BIG carousels beneath the tower.  Buy a ticket and hop right on with your kiddos!  (There was no line when we went, even on a busy Saturday!)  One of my favorite moments was on that carousel, going around and around and looking up at the Tower.  It was pretty surreal.  I kept thinking, Is this real life, or an Audrey Hepburn movie?
6. Take a leisurely walk along the Seine River.  You could also take a river cruise if you've got the time.  We simply walked from the carousel to the ferris wheel, which wasn't that far (maybe took a half hour) and there was a lovely little playground along the way.  If you are walking on the same side of the Seine as the Eiffel Tower, towards the ferris wheel you can't miss it.
taking a break as we crossed the Seine.
7. Take a ride on the huge ferris wheel and see an amazing 360 degree view of Paris!  Our kiddos loved this!  The line was not that long, even for a Saturday on Easter weekend, and it provided a nice break from the walking.

I was legit terrified but did it for the kiddos!  
8. Visit the Louvre...even if you don't go inside at all.  The Louvre is totally worth the ticket price, and I've heard there are companies that do awesome private tours that cater to young children.  Had we had another day I may have booked it.  But we got to the Louvre at the end of a long day and pretty much all we did was walk around the glass pyramids and take some family pics.  Worth it!  The walk up to it is a lovely park with lots of sculptures, and when you get to the huge courtyard with the pyramids there is plenty of space for the kiddos to run, while listening to live music.
Our only family pic not taken with a selfie stick.  

9. Bring a selfie stick.  This is my favorite advice to give for traveling anywhere with tiny kids.  You're gonna want some family pics, obviously.  Sure, you can ask strangers to take them.  That could turn out completely fine.  But with tiny kids it is hard to get a good one in one or two shots.  Also, they love to see themselves in selfie mode, so you'll tend to get better smiles/expressions.  Also, you can take a billion photos and not feel like you are bothering anyone (except your family...but that's okay, they love you!)  Bonus tip : the best pics are when you yell "Everyone look silly!!!!!!"  but then you and your partner do NOT act silly but smile happily.  Your kids look adorable and will more likely be smiling, and you will not look annoyed because you're trying to coerce them into taking a nice family pic.  Win-Win.

10.  Embrace a laissez-faire attitude!  When traveling with littles, don't have a rigid schedule.  Keep it all very simple, and embrace all life's small pleasures.  Literally, my only agenda for this trip was to get our entire family up on the Eiffel Tower.  Guess what?  That didn't even happen.  We did, however, all make it to the Tower at night to see it twinkle.  They took pics of their mom and dad kissing and toasting with plastic cups of wine underneath it.  On the final night, the older two went with my husband while I stayed at our apartment with the baby.  They made it to the first level, walking up the stairs, despite a huge line and Finola almost having a meltdown before they got there.  We did all the other things mentioned above, at a very slow pace, and knowing that at any time the kids could decide it was time to grab an Uber home.

So was a weekend in Paris worth it with three littles?  YES.  Every moment.  Sweet memories were made, without any crazy drama from either parent.  Hurray!

That is what our kids will remember - that we were happy.

And maybe the Eiffel Tower, too.

Monday, January 29, 2018

brave.

"Life is a daring adventure, or it is nothing at all." 

I have always found this quote inspiring.  Well, when I say "always" I mean since I started doodling it in my college notebooks (which I still keep, yes, every single one) along with random self-written poetry and the epic beginnings of many, many novels (all still unfinished.) 

I can say, even as a young girl walking endlessly around the perimeter of our farm, that I've always craved adventure.  I have tried to "say yes" to most opportunities that have come up in my life, especially pertaining to travel.

Some examples (paraphrased by me)... 

Dad: "Wanna drive 24 hours straight and climb this 11,000 ft mountain with a group of us and then immediate drive back home?"  

Me : Sure!

Friends: "Wanna come visit me in NYC {Dallas, Fargo, Boston, Canada, etc, etc.}?!?!?" 

Me: Alright! Booking flight now.  

Dad: "Wanna be a counselor on this church youth group trip, even though you just flunked out of your first year of college and have no clue what your next step will be and probably should be getting your life together?  PS - there are mountains involved!"  

Me: Sign me up!

Future Hubby: "Wanna move back from the new state you just moved to two weeks ago and continue dating me, oh yeah, and get an apartment together for a few months even though that is something you swore you'd never do and your parents might literally murder you?" 

Me:  Yes - that feels like the right risk to take!
(PS...we ended up married, oh, like six years later, so... yeah... Also, my parents think he is awesome him so it ended up okay.)

Future Hubby: "Wanna move (again) to another state and see if our relationship might really work (living separately this time) now that we are four years older?"

Me: Um...alright!  

My Parents:  Wanna fly to visit us in Prague and travel around Europe for a couple weeks, even though you just birthed your first baby and are basically hot mess?

Me: Are there beer gardens?  Then yes.

Hubby: "Wanna move to Amsterdam even though we just finished our dream home renovation and everything finally feels settled in life, oh and you just had another baby?"

Me: Yes.  God help me, but yes.

Oily Friend: "Wanna fly from Amsterdam to Seattle to hang out for a few days with twenty women you only know through Facebook and Instagram?"  

Me: Yaaaaaaaaaaaaas! 

These are just some of the examples.  It hasn't always been convenient or seemed like the ideal time, but I have never regretted a travel adventure so I will keep on saying 'yes' whenever it is possible.  

However, this spirit of bravery cannot be limited to travel.   I have begun to think about other areas in my life that I've started to be more adventurous in, or that I want to be.

Motherhood.  Friendships.  My business.  Witnessing about Christ.

All require a spirit of adventure if life is to be experienced to the full!

So that is what I am working on this year.  My word is 'brave.'

I want to speak my truth courageously, and set about doing things that I never thought I could do before.  I want to attempt things that previously I've been too scared to do, believing the lie that those things aren't meant for someone like me.

I'm casting off limitations I've put on myself and living 'wild + free.'


What area of life are you most adventurous?  
Where would you like to be more so?  

Saturday, December 9, 2017

a new adventure.

Since his birth I've staring at the wall of Baby Whit's nursery a lot.  (The chair where I nurse faces it, so...)

Upon that wall are these words...

When I first hung this piece of artwork up, I thought - "This is perfect for our new baby!  It is all about having an adventurous spirit and trusting God and being 'born for such a time as this!'" I loved it and thought it could inspire our babe as he grows up.

But I now know these words were actually meant for me.

You see, recently an opportunity presented itself to our little family.  My husband was offered a position in his company that would mean we would have to relocate to Europe - for several years at least.

Exciting!  Adventurous!  Scary!  I questioned God's timing.  Why would this come about now, when we have a brand new baby?  When we have built solid friendships here and a sense of community - both in our neighborhood and church and beyond? When everything seemed so comfortable and safe?

But as my husband reminded me recently:

"Life begins at the edge of your comfort zone."

Such a great quote.  God doesn't give us our best life by keeping things "safe" - he wants us to trust in Him.  I believe that sometimes He pushes us to our limits so that we learn to trust Him and that nothing else is going to give us his level of comfort and peace.  Not jobs, not houses, not people, not stuff...just Him.

So I sat there in the nursery, butt glued to the chair, breastfeeding our tiny new babe day after day, staring up at the those words in clear, bold black and white font...and it was like God was speaking straight to my heart.

I was born for such a time as this.  I needed to give God room in my life to prove himself faithful.  I needed to let faith, not fear be my guide.  All of it.  Speaking to me.  For this time, about this decision, right now.

Hubby and I are no strangers to adventure, or uprooting our lives.  He moved to Minnesota from Kentucky at age twenty -- and praise the Lord that he made that move...as it led us to meet each other!

Then he moved to Jackson, Tennessee for a job after he graduated college, where he began his career and made some amazing friends.

I briefly (brief as in two weeks) moved from St. Paul, MN to Portland, OR before deciding to move right back to continue to date Paul, and see where our relationship might lead.  Then I moved from Minnesota to Cincinnati after I graduated college, leaving the only state I'd ever lived in and pretty much everything I'd ever known...again, to see if a relationship with my now-husband could work.  (It does!)

We survived all those moves, those big changes, and as I look back, each one enriched our lives in some way or taught us something invaluable. In each situation we had each other, so I guess that says something about our relationship and God's plan.

So, after several weeks of prayer and discussion, and me staring up at that the words of that sign, Hubby and I decided to accept the job and move our family across the ocean.  We will move sometime in early spring!

I have no idea how I'll cope raising three small children in a foreign country.

I have no if it will be good or not-so-good for my mental state.

But those are all uncertainties that I will pray about and give to God.

For those curious we will be moving to Amsterdam. We have traveled there together once,  before we ever thought we would end up moving there.  (Read about that trip here.)
in the city.

in the country.
Prayers would be much appreciated, friends, as well as advice from others who have done the ex-pat thing.  We are both nervous and excited about what life may bring!

Have you ever had to move due to a job opportunity?  
Is there a new opportunity in your life that excites you, but you are avoiding because it seems a bit scary or uncomfortable?
Friend, my prayer for you is to pray, trust, and go boldly!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

baby whit // a birth story.


Each birth story is unique, raw and real - teaching us about love and, ultimately, about ourselves.

When I birthed Cormac six years ago (at precisely 4:44pm on a blazing hot July day) that first night I thought nothing of writing his birth story, but spent the entire time bedridden, still with zero feeling from the waist down, catheter inserted, completely exhausted, with absolutely no idea what to do with the sweet, hungry, crying baby whose diapers my husband had to change.  I didn't write his story until months later, when I finally felt like I had processed it all, and was not in a new mama haze.

// Read that story here //

I remember after birthing Finola I sat up that entire first night (she was born at 9:12pm) grinning happily to myself, high on birth hormones, and writing out her birth story in my head as she rested peacefully in my arms.  I refused to put her down.  Everything had gone in such a way I wanted to replay it over and over in my mind.

// Read that story here //

Flash forward four years.  I'm older.  Maybe a bit wiser, but mostly older.  And much more tired.

Hubby and I finally decided, after much prayer and deliberation, to give it another whirl, leave it up to God and see what happens.  We wound up very quickly with a positive pregnancy test back in early January.  (Oh, those Christmastime conceptions!)

While I didn't blog much about it, mostly tiny blurbs on Instagram, this pregnancy was very similar to my others.  Lots of first trimester all-day nausea, a lovely second tri, and then a very uncomfortable third tri.  Weirdly, I gained the exact same about of weight each time, although this time I focused more on eating healthy, rather than hitting the gym every single day as I did with Finola. Being older I was simply more tired, more busy with the other two children, and to be honest it just got really uncomfortable doing cardio.

Even without being on the treadmill all the time I really thought this baby would come early, like Finola did.  But at my 36 week check I was only dilated 1-2cm (versus 5cm at that point with Fin!)

So I decided to stop getting cervical checks.  It is optional at my midwife practice and honestly I was feeling a bit unprepared to give birth anyway, as our nursery was basically a hollow shell at that point.

The month before my due date was spent hustling to get the nursery, and my mind, prepared for a third baby.

In that final week I thought I could go into labor at any time.  The Braxton-Hicks contractions I'd been having for quite a while got a bit more intense but nothing timeable.  Almost every night I'd wake up from them, or severe heartburn, and then go back to bed after an hour of no real action.  In truth, I dreaded going into labor during the night because I didn't want to go into the process super tired, and didn't want to stress about getting in touch with someone to come stay with the kids.

I believe I was mentally blocking this labor.

My due date of September 13th came and went.  I couldn't believe it.  Wasn't the third baby supposed to come early and basically fly out???  Kidding.  I didn't really think it would go quicker but honestly did think I would go early.

I was mentally preparing for the labor and birthing as best I could.  It was the same "plan" as last time, but this time I'd be incorporating my essential oils into the process.  Every day I diffused oils like Valor, Peace + Calming, and Release in our home - to help get my mind and body supported for the birth.  I applied Joy and Sacred Mountain to my skin and my diffuser bracelet regularly to feel grounded and happy for baby's arrival.

I had also read a couple books on hypnobirthing, although I admit I didn't wholeheartedly buy into it -- an "easy, pain-free birth."   To be clear, I think that can happen...but when you doubt something I don't think your brain is able to hurdle that doubt and block the pain.  You have to truly believe it...

...and I was more in the "This is going to hurt like hell, but I'm powerful enough to let my body do it's job" mindset.  Warrior versus zen mama.

We hired a doula again to be there as my liason with hospital staff and emotional support birthing coach.  I know most people just have their husband/partner be that...but Paul knows he is best appreciated as a silent encourager who is simply present with me.

Here is how it all officially went down - early on a Saturday morning, with the other two kids already safely in Louisville with their grandparents (phew!)

3:30am
I woke up with a contraction that was stronger than the usual Braxton-Hicks.  Knowing I was several days past due and that I could be in labor at any time, I got up immediately, noted the time, and tentatively started gathering some last minute items to put in our bags.  I had slept in the comfy tank dress I had worn the day before because I really wanting it to be my "birthing outfit" -- as opposed to a hospital gown.  As the contractions continued every ten minutes or so, I washed my face, brushed my teeth, and got ready to leave.  Something in my gut (or uterus) told me this was it.  The contractions were now about 8 minutes apart and there was noticeably more pressure.  And some bleeding, which was another good sign.

4:30am
Texted my doula to let her know about the consistent contractions, and that I planned to call my midwife soon.  I told her most likely would be heading to the hospital.  Then I woke Paul up and told him that Baby's arrival was imminent!  Called midwife office and when the midwife on duty called back she said she would meet me at the hospital.  I reminded her (as I was told to) that last time I went really quickly.  But I think that since my last check (weeks ago) was only 1-2cm no one seemed really worried.

5:00am
Texted doula that we were headed to hospital and would meet her there!

5:30am
We arrived at the hospital, which was quiet in the early morning hour.  Encountered a random person, presumably a new dad, who led us to the floor where we were supposed to check in.  I had been having pretty intense contractions since we arrived -- and was finding it hard to concentrate on his friendly and excited banter.  Paul chatted with him while I silently breathed through each surge.

When the nurses at registration heard my last check was 1-2cm (weeks ago!) they had me fill out a bunch of paperwork and then put me in triage.

Triage nurse : "Here is a gown to put on." 

Me : "Um...can I just wear this?" gesturing to my tank dress.

Triage nurse, blank-faced : "Um...I guess so."

She immediately starts to hook me up to the fetal monitor.   I interject that I don't want to be hooked up to the fetal monitor.  She says she needs to have at least 15 minutes of fetal monitoring.  I agree only when she tells me she will then take me off the monitor.  I did not want to be stuck to a machine in any way.

At this point, with the doula not having arrived yet, I am direly wishing I had brought a copy of my birth plan.  I was having some scary flashbacks to my experience laboring in the hospital with Cormac, when I felt completely alone and that none of my birth preferences were being adhered to.  I now knew I had to speak up for myself and make sure things happened the way I wanted...or at least as much as I could.

By this point the contraction intensity was about a seven and they were only about two minutes apart.  The nurse checked me and pronounced me 5-6cm dilated and 90% effaced.  Good progress but I was surprised I wasn't farther along.

I was very anxious to get to my labor/delivery room and out of triage.  All the tub rooms were occupied, but I was told I would at least have a shower.  Waiting to get unhooked from the monitor was taking what felt like a lifetime.

6:20am
Finally, when the contractions were starting to become blinding, and still no sign of my doula or midwife to check me, I was brought to my room, still hooked to monitor.  I got through a few contractions lying on the table, and then asked if I could labor in the shower.  The contractions were now about only a minute apart.  This forced the nurse to unhook me from the monitor.  I was feeling very nauseous, and the pressure "down there" was becoming so intense that I had to stumble bow-legged to the shower, legs shaking violently.  Mentally I was trying to hold it together, trying to be calm and breathe through each contraction steadily, in through my nose ABCDEFG, out through my mouth HIJKLMNOP, or something to that effect.  I knew I had to stay on top of every contraction, but was finding it very difficult.

Paul, for his part, knowing I did not want to be touched or hear his chipper words of encouragement, set about plugging in my diffuser, dropping in some Peace and Calming, and texting my doula for her status.

6:40am
My doula arrives I believe at approximately this time.  I feel a sense of relief in some ways that I finally have someone to help me through the last, most difficult waves.

In the 45-60 seconds of relief between contractions, I kept asking for my midwife.

"Where is the midwife?!?!  She needs to check me."  I knew I was close.  I felt all the things I felt when I transitioned with Finola.

Including : the sense that I could no longer deliver naturally.  I was starting to feel panicked.

"Okay, I am too old for this.  I need the epidural.  Order me the epidural now." 

Both Paul and my doula told me I could do it, I'd done it before, etc. etc.  I was hearing none of it, as I felt literally like I would die if I couldn't push the baby out soon.  The "urge to push" is what I was experiencing.  In fact, most likely I had transitioned in the shower and probably reached 10cm fifteen minutes prior.

I was then informed the midwife was on her way.  I was disappointed it wasn't one that I saw regularly.  In fact, this was the midwife I'd only seen one time throughout my pregnancy!

7:00am
Midwife gets there, I get on the table quickly to be checked, still dripping wet and naked from the shower.  She immediately exclaims happily, "You're complete!  You can start pushing!"

Music to my ears!

For the next seven minutes, I was in the zone.  Conscious of everything.

The huge light descended from the ceiling.  The room filled with people.  Women.  Paul was the only male.

The doula and a nurse held my knees up by my head as I quickly recalled how to "bear down" and push when a contraction happened.

"Here's one!" I exclaimed and did whatever I could to make that baby come on out.  Yep, I totally pooped on the table and I couldn't care less.

I screamed each time I pushed.  Not the gutteral, animal moans I did with Finola.  High-pitched shrieks.  Three of them.  In the back of my mind I silently apologized to any other laboring mamas hearing me from neighboring rooms.

7:07am
I felt the baby's head come out.  There was no stopping now - I gave another loud shriek and pushed!

The rest of baby slid out quickly.

The greatest relief.  Honest first thought : "I did it...and I'm never gonna have to do it again."  There was no sadness...just absolute certainty.

Somewhere in the chaos of the room, with Baby shrieking all kinds of new baby cries, I heard Paul announce, "It's a boy!"

I felt ambivalent about the gender.  Baby was out.  Baby was crying.  It was good.

I cried, too.  A brief, ugly cry.
this is real.  the best feeling.  

When they handed him to me and I marveled at his tiny size.  So much smaller than the other two.  Long delicate fingers and toes.   I held him close while the midwife went immediately about the business of delivering the placenta, etc.

"Whitman Paul is his name," I heard Paul say, so they could write it on the board.  But they only wrote Whitman, along with the date and time.

"Baby Whit,"  I said lovingly to him and him alone, knowing the name would be perfect for him.

The birthing hormones were surging through my body as I put him to breast not long after.  He latched as if he had been practicing every day for the past nine months.  We were off to a good start together.

Everything ended well, baby in arms, a beautiful boy.  Praise be to God.
"...and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have its richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body."  - Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

We LOVE you Baby Whit.

And because your journey began way back in January, with a completely overwhelmed mama finding out she was preggo...
...here is a look back at all of it.

Friday, September 8, 2017

ten years.

Today we've reached double-digits.
Ten years of marriage!  
We've gone from nice tans and well-chiseled abs...
To...well, sort of pasty and our abs have gone taken a leave of absence for one reason or another.
But hey - at least we still travel, right?  

We have had lots of fun, both pre-kids and with kids!
We've been blessed with two smart and lively blondies...who give us challenges, of course.  

I look forward to this eleventh year, raising one more tiny baby with you, getting through more reno projects, Cormac's first year of kindergarten and all the new things for our smart + perceptive + sensitive kid,  and Finola's mood swings and BIG joyous personality that both delight us and wear us out.

I promise that someday I'll nag you less about the renovations.  Someday you'll come home and I'll have made a more creative meal than "chicken + rice + cheese" (AKA whatever I had left since somehow we've eaten everything fresh) or "I seriously cannot cook tonight so can you please get us takeout???" 

Someday I'll have more interesting things to say, besides "Oh my gosh Finola {-did the most hilarious thing in Target today!"} or {-made me want to cry in Target today."} 

Someday we'll spend an entire Saturday binge watching TV shows again, and go on late night walks, and take super romantic vacations, and it will be so very "adult" again.

But until that 'someday,' which I know will come much quicker than either of us want it to, please know this:
Ten years later I still love you dearly.  Our life is less simple, but no less lovely.  

Ten years later you are still the only man I would ever marry.

I pray for many, many more years with you.

Happy anniversary!

(PS : Your present is this blog post...and a baby!) 

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

oils + my birth plan.

I am kinda stunned to be typing that I am officially 39 weeks.  It's about to get real, ya'll!

This is my third time around, and is is my very first official oily birth plan. 

Had I heard that term a few years ago I would have been like, "Welp, that sounds gross."

However,  I've learned that essential oils can truly support you physically and mentally before, during, and after childbirth. 

With Finola my doula brought oils to warm so that my midwife could soften the perineum and prevent tearing or the need for an episiotomy.  That was amazing in that my recovery time was MUCH shorter not having to heal from that!  At that point that was my only experience with essential oils, but it was a positive one.
Since becoming a part of Young Living and researching oils and birthing I know that this time I want to incorporate a few other oils into the process. So here it is, my...
Release - to diffuse in the days leading up to my due date -- or as soon as I start having official signs of labor.  This has a beautiful scent and promotes the release of negative emotions.  I really want to go into things with a positive mindset so that the experience is the best it can be for both me and babe.
Peppermint - for nausea support, something that I experienced last time when I neared the transition stage.
Valor - I have a roller blend which consists of several oils, but mainly Valor, which I call 'brave mama' that I use regularly.  I plan to roll on shoulders during the birthing process to promote empowerment and confidence!  I've also recently been putting drops on my lava stone diffuser bracelet to boost my bravery for this birth.
Peace + Calming - to diffuse in the birthing room, for obvious reasons.
Frankincense - to anoint the baby after birth.  Perhaps more of a symbolic, romantic thing...but I love the idea of this so my Frank will be ready.  Plus, it is such a lovely grounding oil. Also can be used in direct application to perineal area during birth.  Frank is a wonderful skin support oil!

Other oils in 'My Bag' :
Panaway roller - comes in starter kit and I basically always have a roller ball fitment on it!   This one is good for aching muscles! Also to roll on temples/back of neck for headaches!
Thieves roller  - for general wellness support - can't go a day without this one!
Rose Ointment - for lips, décolletage, any other dry/chapped skin issues.
Fennel - to support a healthy milk supply
Gentle Baby - to wear and diffuse once babe has arrived.  The most beautiful scent!

So those are the oils what I will have on-hand for myself and my birth support team at the hospital (hubby, doula, midwife, and nurses.) I have already made sure this is all going to be acceptable.  I'm not sure all traditional obstetricians would be cool with all the oily goodness, so if you desire an oily birth make sure to talk in-depth with your doc/midwife WAY ahead of time (like, as soon as you know you are preggo) about their views and what may or may not be allowed in the birthing room. (It may inspire you to choose a different doc/venue!)

I also make sure that eating/drinking will be allowed if need be during my labor process.  While I want to labor at home for as long as possible, I also know that "stuff happens" and if I have to spend a lot of time in the labor/delivery room I might need sustenance.  Not all hospitals are cool with that, especially if you think you might opt for an epidural.  So again, ask ahead of time.

A few books I've read + found helpful:

As with all plans, it could change at the last minute!  I've learned to expect the unexpected with birthing babies.  But, it is nice to have a some sort of plan you desire written out and discussed with your birth support team in advance, so everyone is on the same page with your desires, whatever they may be.

Have you used oils during pregnancy + birthing?  If so, what else would you recommend?

Monday, August 21, 2017

nursery inspirations for a third babe.

I have only four weeks until my due date...which is pretty crazy.  Even crazier is the fact, as of writing this, our nursery for Baby Three is no where near being done.   Eek!

Eventually it will get finished, I know.  Even if baby has to sleep in a pack-n-play for a few weeks (not ideal, but we would survive.)

Here is what I am dreaming of for this babe's nursery....
source : @paigejonesphoto (instagram) 
I love the white walls, and minimal decor in this inspiration pic.  Our nursery is tiny, so bright, white and simple is ideal!  Baby's new nursery is our former 'master bath' - so it is conveniently located next to our room for night feedings.  However, the furnishings will have to be different than our former two nurseries (see Cormac's in this post and Finola's in this one) due to the size.  Um, and my style!

My style has completely changed in the past six years!  What you'll see in this nursery is more of a minimalist,  boho-style, rather than traditional.   We are selling our white sleigh crib and instead using the very simple IKEA Sniglar crib (in the picture above) which we bought four years ago after second-guessing Cormac's big boy bed after Finola was born.  I am glad it will get some additional use!

I can no longer fit my HUGE IKEA white chair + ottoman in the baby space, so we will most likely be seeking other, smaller options for my nursing chair.
source : domino
Other items we already have for the room :  the existing changing table dresser (kinda huge, but with three spacious drawers will serve as basically ALL of baby's storage - as there is no closet in this room.)   Also, I have a piece of art that I for sure want to hang over the crib, as well as a new light fixture that I am in love with!
source: project nursery
Other desires...
+ Plants!  A fiddle leaf fig in a cute basket would be ideal.  And various hanging in front of the window in some white macrame hangers.

+ A bold rug!  The walls will be white, so I'd love some big personality on the floor.
source : project nursery

Here is what we started out with...
Baby's room six years ago...a little drab and dark!  Um, and a bathroom.
Since this pic all the bathroom fixtures are gone, and we have painted the walls bright white and installed new wide-plank flooring.  Still so much to do, but so exciting to start completely over, with a fresh space.

I'll be sure to post some before + afters when all is complete!

Happy Monday!