Tuesday, August 6, 2019

What To Say and Not To Say To Someone Diagnosed With Cancer

In July of 2015, I went into a doctors office to have an annual gynecological exam. That exam ended with me in tears.

During a pelvic exam, the doctor felt a mass inside, sent me for an ultrasound, revealing the mass was a tumor on my left ovary.

I was sent to a gynecological oncologist, a surgery was set, performed, and I was diagnosed with stage 1a, Grade 3 immature teratoma. A very rare form of ovarian cancer.

And my life was forever changed.

During my cancer battle, I had to hear A LOT of opinions from everyone around me. Some of those thoughts were helpful. Others not so much.

And I vowed that once I had the opportunity, I wanted to share what words or actions I found helpful. And to share what was not, so anyone that is around someone that is facing cancer will know how to help and bless that person.

I will start with what you should do to someone battling cancer.

DO Say You Are Praying For Them
I was pretty open with my cancer battle. And that came with pros and cons. But the biggest pro was the support that came in the form of prayer. I can never express enough gratitude to those that took the time to lift me before our Father, and to those that told me they did so. There was no greater form of encouragement.

DO Acts of Kindness
I had so many people bless me in my journey, with many acts of kindness. I had one person that I met through blogging send me the sweetest package of chocolate, bath sitz, a scarf for my soon to be bald head, and a pretty lace cover to go underneath to help keep the scarf from slipping.

Others sent cards regularly. And some gifted coloring books. Which were amazing to occupy myself with while in the chemo chair for 6 hours a day.

I also had a special family that at the end of each round of chemo, they would come and decorate my front porch with a balloon, a Bible verse, and pretty banner.

Another act was bringing us food. While I did not have an appetite, Justin did, and it was such a relief to know he was taken care of, and we did not have to worry about cooking.

DO Continue To Ask them How They Are Doing LONG after Chemo
Cancer is not just a physical battle. Its a mental one. And the scars will last long past the end of chemo. Four years later, and the memory of the battle is still in my mind, and I am easily triggered by the memories of those days.

DO NOT Assume They Are Dying
Yes. Cancer kills. And had it not been caught, I would probably be dead by now. But praise the LORD, we live in a day and age where new treatments and advances are being made in treatment. And more people are living. With that being said please don't say to someone, "I was hoping to see you grow old...". Yes. Someone said that straight to my face after hearing the news.

DO NOT Talk About Someone You Know That Died of Cancer
Someone that is newly diagnosed is VERY aware of their mortality. And we want to fight with hope. Hearing about someone who has died does nothing to us but cause anxiety about our own state.

DO NOT Look At Them Like They Drank A Bottle of Roundup
Not long after treatment ended, and before my hair grew back, I made a meal for a family. The woman came up to me later and said she was surprised I made such a healthy meal for them. And proceded to ask if I eat healthy now because of cancer. I shared to her I had been eating very healthy for years before my diagnosis. I had even completed a second WHOLE30, two weeks before diagnosis. She had pure shock on her face, and asked what did cause my cancer then.

Most cancer casues are unknown. And the type I was diagnosed with is one of those. Don't assume because someone gets cancer its because of something they did. Because cancer just happens sometimes, and even the healthiest can get it.

DO NOT Compare Treatment or Offer Healing Advice
And I would have to say this might be the biggest piece of advice.

So many people would ask about my treatment and offer so much useless and pointless advice.

Cancer is different for everyone. And it comes in many different subtypes. My subtype called for one type of chemotherapy regimen. The regimine I was on was different from what another woman I know that has another subtype of ovarian cancer.

And along the lines of offering treatment "advice", don't talk to someone with cancer, about any type of "natural" treatment for cancer. Unless you have solid medical research behind you.

I have always been a more natural medicine type of person. I believe in food being your medicine. Admitting that I needed, more than an herbal remedy to heal my body required a huge slice of humble pie. I did not need to have multiple people, with NO medical background come back to me and say I just needed to eat some special berry seen on Facebook (true story) or eat a raw vegan diet to cure myself. Those types of comments cause nothing but more mental distress.

Unless you have been in that situation, you do not know the mental anxiety hearing the words you have cancer creates. You go into survival mode. And you are going to do anything in your power to survive.

And Above All Else...
Just treat them with kindness. Treat them as you would any other human being in your life. Yes they may have a scary disease that takes a lot of their time and energy. But they are still the same person they were before diagnosis. A more tired and scarred version. But still the same. Remind them of that. Invite them on outings you know they would enjoy. Spend time talking about non cancer things.

Be patient, and don't leave them fighting alone.

Have you ever been diagnosed with cancer? What are some helpful insights you can offer those not in the fight?

Have a wonderfully blessed day everyone! Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, March 30, 2019

What I Packed In My Hospital Bag For My Second Baby's Birth

Last November, I planned on writing a post on here about what I was planning on packing in my hospital bag for the birth of my second baby. In the hustle and bustle of nesting, and his arrival coming right in the middle of the busy holiday season, I was never able to get around to writting out this post.

And I really wanted to, as I found it so incredibly helpful while I was packing to go onto Youtube, or read others blogs on what they found useful for their stay.

So I did a poll recently on my Instagram stories, trying to gauge if there was an interest in that still, and surprisingly there was. And since I am in the midst of spring cleaning, and finally getting around to putting some of that stuff into storage, now would be the perfect time to share.

Note. Some of these items are not specifically for a birth. Some of these items are great for any stay in a hospital.

Also, I had my bag packed by 38 weeks for a spontaneous labor and delivery. But I ended up needing a medically necessary induction. But having my backs packed and ready to go, made the day go so much smoother.

Comfort Items

~Pillow- I sleep better with my own pillow I am used to.
~Childhood Teddy Bear- This bear goes with me anywhere I travel to. And I may or may not sleep with him every night still...
~Stuffed Peacock Justin had given me for Christmas
~New Throw Blanket- I went to Target and purchased a new throw blanket for not only the hospital stay, but to use on our bed after. I threw this on top of the hospital bed blankets to make the bed feel more comforting, as you spend most of a hospital stay in the bed.

Note: I went and purchased all new and travel size toiletries and put them in my toiletry bag, placed in my big duffel bag.

~Shampoo and Conditioner
~Toothbrush and Toothpaste
~Contact Solution and Case
~Extra Pair of Contacts
~Hair Ties
~Bobby Pins
~Hair Wraps
~Body Wash- I went to Whole Foods and purchased a body wash that I would not normally get. It was nice to have a special wash for that first shower after labor and delivery. And what is special now when it is used, is that the scent takes me back to that first shower, and the first day of my second baby's life.
~Lotion- I did the same as with the body wash. I chose something I had not used before, so it would be a special treat during those first days. Cause lets face it. You don't always really feel pretty and nice after the rigors of birth.

~Makeup- I grabbed my makeup bag before I headed to the hospital bag. I ended up only wearing mascara while I was there the whole time. Ya'll.  I just cant go without my mascara.

Note: Most hospitals will allow you to wear your own clothing. I took full advantage of that fact. I CANNOT stand hospital gowns.

~Labor and Delivery Gown- I purchased a "Baby Be Mine" gown on Amazon. But I knew that more than likely it would not be used long, if this birth ended up like the first. Where I lost ALL sense of modesty. And that did happen. But it was great for the first part of the induction, where I was not in active labor, and needed the electronic fetal monitoring. Because it gave easy access to the nurse for that.
~Maternity/Nursing Sleep Bra- That was what I actually went through and finished active labor in.
~Night Gown- I wanted a nightgown for easy nursing access, and was comfy and pretty for after my first shower. And Amazon had a really cheap and nice one just for that.
~Shorts and Shirt PJ Set- I found a really nice set at Victoria's Secret on Black Friday. They had a BOGO sale going on. I loved the idea of shorts to keep me cool. During the postpartum period, I have TERRIBLE nightsweats. So shorts made it really nice to help control the temperature.
~House Slippers- I love slippers for hospital stays as you can take them on and off easily as you get in and out of bed. I only had socks in my first hospital stay and hated having to bend over and take them off when I got in and out of bed. Cause there was no way those germy things were touching my sheets.

~ Going Home Outfit- I wore the same black leggings that I came to the hospital in. And packed a nicer oversized sweater to wear with them. And I just wore the same tennis shoes I went to the hospital in.
~Socks- Did not end up wearing any
~Nursing Bras- Only Wore upon arrival and on the way home
~Robe- I only wore it while being transferred from the delivery room to the mother/baby room.
~Jewelry- I packed several pairs of earrings. But only ended up wearing what I had on upon arrival my entire stay. My tried and true pearls.

Note: I went to Trader Joes and stocked up on our favorite snacks, and placed them in a huge gallon ziplok bag.

~Granola Bars
~Honey Sticks- These are really great for a quick labor energy boost. And to help coat a sore throat after grunting and groaning for hours...
~ Candy- Who doesn't need a big bag of M&M's post delivery

Baby Items:

~Receiving Blankets
~Swaddles for first photos
~3 Sleepers
~ Diapers
~ Wipes


~Essential Oil Diffuser and Oils- I took this at the suggestion of my doula. Hospital smells tend to give me cancer related PTSD symptoms. The diffuser helped tremendously in combating that.
~Handheld Nightlight- This was by far the best item packed. At our hospital, you cannot turn the lights on or off from the bed. So you have to get up or have someone turn them on if needed. Which is irritating while night nursing. Plus they are only those bright overhead lights. The nighlight made it so much more convenient during that first night of cluster feeding. Plus, we still use this nightlight for night time nursing even now.

~Birth Plan
~Wallet and ID's
~Cellphone and charger
~Earbuds- Did not use
~Extra SD card
~Trash Bags- Used to keep dirty clothing in
~Gallon Ziplok- For the placenta
~Small Cooler- To fill with ice and transport that beautiful placenta home for encapsulation.

And that is it!

If you want to see some of the items more in depth, I will have them posted in my Instagram stories, and highlighted in my profile for future reference.

What do you pack in your hospital bag? Anything unique and special to make your stay easier? I would love to hear and keep it in mind for the future!

Have a wonderfully blessed day everyone! Thanks for stopping by!
Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Not Bouncing Back Postpartum

Long before I was married, and for as long as I can remember, I have had an interest in learning all I could about pregnancy and childbirth.

I remember the days of walking into the library, going to the health section, and grabbing every book I could find on the subject. And also the perplexed look on the librarians face when this 17 year old girl would gleefully place her stack of books onto the counter. And me having to say "No ma'am. I am not pregnant." Followed by her slow nodding of the head.

This passion continued even after marriage. So much so that twice I started the process of becoming a doula.

The first try was when I thought I would be unable to have children, and then having to be stopped because of my cancer journey. Followed with the second attempt and being stopped by becoming pregnant myself.

So you can say, I was ridicously excited to go through the pregnancy and labor process myself. Being able to finally experience firsthand what I had only read and dreamed about.

And I did just that. But there was one aspect of childbirth I had not read up on so much. And I certainly was not prepared for it.


I genuinely did not give one thought in all my reading and "preparing" to the time after birth.

For some reason, I only had the current thought process of society ingrained in my head.

That I would have the baby. And bam! Pop back up and continue on with normal life like nothing happened.

When I was transferred to the hospital from my homebirth, after the delivery of my first son, I went from being under the care of my midwife during that stay, to the care of the hospital OB.

I had third degree tearing, plus two sulcus tear with that birth, that required a two and half hour operation. I had labored for almost 3 days. With maybe 10 hours of sleep in those three days. And you want to know what that OB told me to do to help me recover?

Walk. And to get home and move around as much as I normally would on any given day.

And you want to know what I did when I got home the next day?

I woke up cooked myself some eggs. And attempted walking around the house with that major repair down there.

And do you know what happened?

I sat back down, blacked out and woke up to the most terrifying panic attack of my life.

I fell trap to the modern lie that women are to bounce back to normal life after giving birth. The lie that pushing an 8 pound human being out a small opening is an everyday occurrence.

I mean, I grew said human being in my body for nine months. The same human being that had taken up most of my nutritional stores. After spending hours with my body working harder than ever before to push that little person out. And after my bones and internal organs shifted for that exit, I bled at least a half a quart of blood, plus more because of my complications. Not to mention the HUGE shift in hormones that happened.

Yeap. easy thing to bounce back from... *insert eye roll*

Modern society has so ingrained into women's minds that it should be nothing for all of us to get back to normal life. And hides the truth from us. The truth that going back to "normal" immediately, or even within the first year of giving birth is natural for everyone.

No one talks about the reality of postpartum, and the need to nourish the mother and her spirit, because society has taken all of the attention the mother needs, and placed it onto the baby.

But that is soooooo... wrong. And unnatural.

All through history, and in every culture, both the mother and the baby were well taken care of following birth. In most of those cultures, the first 40 days or more, were set aside as a time for the mother to rest, recover, renourish, and bond with the baby.

Not cook. Not clean. Not jump back into exercise or everyday tasks. Their only task was to eat the most nourishing foods prepared by the other women in the community, and to rest, recover, and bond with their new baby.

And in turn, the mother would be well enough to give that baby the best care possible for a lifetime.

I learned the hard way that bouncing back is not natural. And that rest and recovery is essential to being a healthy mama for my babies.

That is why I took a whole different approach to this second postpartum period.

For the first week following birth, I was either sleeping, eating, herbal bathing, or feeding my baby.

I took my amazing doulas advice, and kept myself as horizontal as I possibly could.

While pregnant, I had prepared a ton of nutrient dense, high calorie freezer meals, that only needed to be reheated. To which my husband and mom were able to fix quickly.

On my second week, I only got up a little each day. And that was primarily to sit outside in fresh air, or sit with my older boy while he played.

At week three, my husband returned to work, and I was able watch my toddler and the baby on my own for a few hours each day. And in the afternoon, it was just me and the baby while my toddler played at either set of grandparents house.

And at a month, I started to feel well enough to have them both at home all day.

I feel incredibly blessed to say, that at 8 weeks postpartum, I feel really well. Much better than I did at 8 weeks my last go around. But I still tire easily, and my moods still shift quite a bit with my still fluctuating hormones.

And with that, I still do not feel the need to jump back into life full speed ahead. I am okay with days spent cuddling my boys on the couch, while watching Veggie Tales, because I am having an extra tired day.

I do not feel the need to jump into dieting or exercising hard to lose that natural and healthily gained pregnancy weight.

Yes, I try to exercise daily. But instead of jumping back into running and cardio, I have focused more on yoga and daily walking to keep my joints loosened up and strong, and to boost my energy and mood.

And when it comes to food, I have been focusing on eating plenty of nutrient dense foods to fuel my body, and to replace the nutrient stores that were taken from my body during pregnancy, and will continue to be used while breastfeeding.

There is no cutting calories right now. I did that the last go around, and paid dearly for it. I truly believe that cutting back on food was one of the biggest factors that lead to my postpartum depression.

I sadly realize, that most women today, do not have the resources to be able to rest as they need in the postpartum period. And that deeply hurts me.

My purpose in sharing all of this is to hopefully spark a conversation, that will eventually lead to a change in modern society.

That all women will be mentally prepared for the postpartum period, and given a much needed and special time to rest and recover from childbirth. A time focused on her well being, when she so desperately needs it.

How about you?

Were you prepared for the postpartum period? What surprised you the most? And if you could change anything about that time, what would it be?

Have a wonderfully blessed day everyone! Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Much Different Than I Planned: Beaus Birth Story

"Many are the plan's in a mans heart, but it is the LORDs purpose that prevails".
Proverbs 19:21

Time for a birth story!
If you have been following this blog for awhile, you know the story and all the unexpected events that surrounded the birth of my first son. Well, this second baby's arrival was no different.
So much happened that I could not have foreseen, and definitely did not desire to happen. But I praise the LORD that me and baby are safe. And besides being exhausted (hello sleep deprivation) we are recovering very well.
So, lets get into it with a bit of backstory from the pregnancy itself.
We decided at the beginning of this pregnancy to forego another homebirth.
I so badly wanted to have a another try at a homebirth. But with the history of a third degree tear plus two sulcus tears, I was terrified of repeating the previous experience of an emergency transfer immediately after birth.
So I decided upon a local group of midwives, and to give birth in a hospital.

The entire pregnancy was full of so many unexpected events.
After sudden bleeding appeared, making me believe I was losing my baby, I was diagnosed with a sub chorionic hematoma at 10 weeks. And at his 20 week ultrasound , we were told he had a "spot" on his heart, meaning he could have a birth defect of chromosomal abnormalities(to which he has neither).
Then there was constant fatigue, nausea, and no rest with having to take care of my toddler.

At 36 weeks, I began to get higher blood pressure readings at my appointments.
It is not unusual for me to have higher readings in an office setting, due to post cancer treatment nerves and a bit of PTSD.
So after the 38 week appointment with another high reading, we purchased a blood pressure monitor to check it at home.
It ran a bit higher than normal at home that week. But nothing like it was in the office.
At my 39 week appointment, it was very high. So high, the midwife wanted me to go to triage to have it monitored for a few hours and have labs run.
Obviously I did NOT want to do that. Because I knew that once I knew I was being monitored, it would sky rocket, and I had it in my mind I would be induced right then and there. To which I REALLLLLLYYYY... did not want.
But at the same time, we knew that we could not take this lightly. So we agreed to in office blood work and a 24 hour urine sample to check for protein.

The blood work results came back within a day, showing normal levels. But with the urine sample having to be collected over 24 hours and not being able to be turned in until Friday morning, and then Christmas that Monday and Tuesday, it would be several days before the labs would analyze the results.

So for four days, I tried my hardest to keep positive that all was normal and just enjoy the holiday. But the entire time I was desperately praying that labor would start that weekend, (the 23rd was my due date), and at the same time mentally preparing myself for the possibility of an upcoming induction.

Christmas came, and went, full of tons of contractions, but nothing regular or strong enough to keep labor going.

Wednesday morning arrived and at 8:15am, the midwife gave me a call. The urine sample showed high levels of protein (the highest normal range is 300, mine was 500), confirming the beginnings of preeclampsia. An appointment to come into the office to have my blood pressure checked again was scheduled for 11 am.

I burst into tears right there.

How did I get preeclampsia. Considering I did everything under the sun they say to avoid it. Exercising daily, eating healthy, and I did not gain more weight than is recommended.

I knew that one my biggest fears for labor would have to happen. I would have to go through an induction.

I called my husband to relay him the news and to have him arrange care for Flynn, and then I called my doula.

I spent about 45 minutes on the phone with my amazing doula. ( I cannot recommend getting a good doula enough...). She helped calm fears, and brought me back down to a mostly calm and clear minded state. She explained what an induction might look like, and listed all of my choices and rights for what was about to take place. She gave me all the info I needed to make an informed choice.

After getting off the phone with her, I quickly loaded up mine and Justin's bags, and tearfully left my first baby for the last time as him being my only baby.

Ya'll. That was hard...

With my mom riding with me, so she could drive Justin's vehicle back home, we arrived at the midwife office. My blood pressure was checked. And it was sky high because of nerves, as once in the hospital and I calmed down it went back down some.

The midwife did a physical exam, revelaing that I was 2 cm dilated, but my cervix had not fully softened.

She suggested to be induced by cytotec, followed by Pitocin. And then arranged for us to head over to the hospital to get checked in.

Justin and I headed out, and once again I called my doula to inform her of what was going on. She once again reviewed all of our options and rights, and then suggested that we go get some lunch before she came, as well as before we head into the hospital, to fuel us and to give us a few more moments to process what was happening.

And we did just that.

It was very difficult for me to process the emotions of giving up my hope of going into labor on my own, and submitting to an induction.

I had to come to a place of surrendering my fears, and realizing this was a necessary medical intervention. I was going to become very ill, and possibly put my life and his life in danger if I did not give birth soon. And given my history with my first birth, it might be another week before I went into labor on my own.

But even that knowledge did not lessen the disappointment and even heartbreak of giving up my dream of having a medical intervention free birth. You can say I underwent a quick grieving process.

Justin prayed, and we headed in. We checked in, and we were led to our room, and my doula arrived shortly after.

I was set up with a hep-lock, a continuous fetal monitor, and some blood work was taken to check on my liver enzymes, because of the preeclampsia.

Following the blood draw, and a good crying session because I don't do blood draws and IV insertions well, the cytotec was administered, and so began the induction process.

Cytotec is given four hours to work. It works by softening the cervix. We went with this option, versus the typical 12 hour cervadil, because I was already "overdue". And giving that fact that I was a bit dilated and effaced, and it was my second baby, the midwife believed my body would kick into gear fairly quickly.

I was worried the cytotec would be intense. But honestly it was nothing.

It caused steady contractions after two hours. But nothing that caused me to have to focus too hard.

I even told my doula she could leave for awhile.

After the four hour mark, I was checked, and I was found to be 4 cm dialated, and 70 percent effaced.

Then began the Pitocin.

For the first 2 and half hours on 2 ml of Pitocin, the contractions felt very much the same as what they were with the cytotec.

I was completely coherent, talking in between, and not needing much focus.

Then after the two and half hours, I was bumped up to 4 ml (Pitocin can be given up to 20 ml).

Right after they bumped me up to 4, I told Justin to lay down and take a nap, and I decided to get in bed and rest as much as possible, as I had been bouncing on the birth ball most of the time.

Probably after 15 minutes of the dosage increase, and 5 minutes after Justin and I laying down, I felt a pop in my abdomen. It startled me at first, and then the thought that my water had broke came across my mind.

I told Justin, who was laying on the window couch that I thought my water had broke, and to help me get to the bathroom.

I got out of the bed, but there was no gush or even trickle of amniotic fluid.

What did happen was a sudden BIG time contraction.

I was thinking okay, maybe things are getting a bit more serious now...

I couldn't make it the few steps to the bathroom before another one hit.

I got into the bathroom and told Justin, this is it.

I pulled my hair up in a pony tail and bam! Another one came.

And I yelled for Justin to call the doula to get there now.

It was on then.

Almost immediately, I went into labor land. That shift of the mind that takes place in active labor. Where for me, that means complete focus on the task, I cannot talk sentences (only one word at a time, or yelling how much it hurts), I do NOT want to move from whatever spot I am in, and I just want it DONE.

At some point I remember someone asking me if I wanted to get in the shower, but I don't remember the act of getting in there. I only remember being in there, and holding onto Justin during rushes.

My doula arrived within 20 minutes of Justin calling her. But I do not remember her getting there. I just remember her offering me water, helping Justin hold me, and gently stroking my head.

If you have ever been through an unmedicated labor, who know how intense it is. But you also know that you do have moments of reprieve. But Pitocin induced, unmedicated labor, is a whole other game.

The only thing I can compare the contractions to are the contractions you go through in transition during normal labor. But they are ALL like that.

I remember thinking over and over, "I can't do this" and then thinking "YES! That means its over soon!". Because feelings of self doubt are normal during transition. But these thoughts happened with each rush.

I even remember at one point begging everyone in my head for medication (I could not verbalize it at that point).

There were feelings of exhaustion and just wanting to sleep. Waves of nausea that could not be relieved. There were moments of me yelling at poor Justin that I could not do it. And even a few times where the pain during a rush was so intense, I started to bite down on him or bang my head.

Praise the LORD, I only had to endure that for a little over an hour before I began to feel the urge to push.

I was somehow able to relay that urge, and everyone managed to get me out of the shower where I had been hunkered down since things picked up, and into the bed for the pushing phase.

Most of this phase was on my hands and knees. I tried pushing side lying for one rush, but did not care for it.

I also was not coached during pushing, unlike with my first delivery. I specifically made it known that I wanted my body to take over and dictate when it was time to push.

And my body did take over. It was such a powerful feeling having my body bear down on its own. And much more enjoyable than my last delivery where I was made to push till the count of ten.

It was like that over and over. A rush would come, and my body would bear down with me roaring each time for about an hour and a half.

I remember at one point really thinking there is no way I can do this. During most of the labor, I would look to Justin, and in his eyes to help me get through it. But for some reason at that moment with that intense thought, and with me yelling that I couldn't, I looked in my doula eyes, and she calmly said I could. And that simple act gave me the last bit of energy I needed for the final pushes.

On the next push, I felt one, then a second rush of fluid, as my water broke.

And then I heard my midwife say not to be alarmed, but there would be more people coming into the room, because there was evidence of meconium.

Another rush and then push came, and that lovely "ring of fire" announced that I truly was at the end.

Another push and I felt my baby slide down and out some more. But because I was so tired, I paused.

And then everyone started yelling "Keep going Angel! He's right there!"

With a final effort, my baby slid from my body, onto the bed and I was able to pick him up. Only 3 hours from when active labor began.

Instantly, all the pain was gone. It was just me and my baby for those few seconds.

The only downside to his delivery is that because of the meconium, he had to be taken away quickly to be suctioned. But thankfully he was only taken a few steps from me, while Justin walked with him, and my doula stayed with me. I was even able to see him the entire time.

After he was suctioned, he was brought quickly to me, and we were able to enjoy that special skin to skin time, that I was unable to get with my first baby.

So much did happen with this birth that I did not want. But even in all those unexpected, unwanted moments, so many good blessings did happen.

Like making it completely through with no medication, just as I wanted.

That I only experienced 2nd degree tearing, and did not have to be separated from my baby. I had 3b tearing, plus two sulcus tears with my first delivery, that led to me having to have a two hour operation. Which took me away for over 3 hours.

That my water did not break until the very end.

And the entire 72 hour hospital stay was a pleasant one, filled with so many caring nurses and staff. A much different story from the last time.

Yes, it was much different than I planned. But I am now 100 percent okay with how it turned out.

And hey, I am not going to lie. I feel pretty powerful and strong for surviving a Pitocin induced labor, with no meds.

Mama's. How did each of your birth stories differ? Or were they very similar?

Have a wonderfully blessed day everyone! Thanks for stopping by!
Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Pregnacy Number Two Update: 28 Weeks

"You are chosen by GOD to be your child's mother. He doesn't make mistakes."

How far along?
28 weeks
Baby is Now:
Possibly between 2 and a half pounds, and about 15 inches long
We are over the moon excited to be welcoming another little boy to our flock! I always said I wanted 10 little Justins. We have 2 now, just 8 to go!
I have been struggling in the sleep department for the last bit. With my bladder always filling . I wake up between 3 and four times each night. And of late, I have been unable to take the naps I feel I so desperately need as Flynn seems to not want to nap much of late.

I finished my walking training for a 5K recently. And completed the 5K just this past Saturday. I would like to continue walking daily, but right now that is not possible with a HORRIBLE mosquito infestation following Hurricane Florence. So some indoor prenatal Youtube videos it has been, as well as yoga several times a week.
Still everywhere. I seems to be dealing with a lot of sadness over some loneliness I am struggling with right now. Other than Justin (and you amazing internet buddies) I have never had a close friend. I try and reach out to others, but a lot of the times that reaching out is fruitless, and so I give up. And it just seems to be getting to me of late.
Oh my goodness. I NEVER craved foods with Flynn, like I do this baby. Salt and vinegar chips are a daily NEED. And right now I am seriously contemplating riding to town to get a cup hot chocolate. Despite it being 90 degrees today. And orange juice. Ooooooo... I could really go for a tall glass of that...
Still beef. And surprisingly, I am not really wanting to look at coffee.
Can you say FATIGUE?! I am soooooooo... tired lately. And am always in need of a nap. Which as I said, Flynn will not allow.
Some nausea at random times.
And this weird feeling in my stomach where I am not sure if I am hungry, or going to be sick. I usually eat just eat a little something when I feel it, in case it is hunger. But usually end up being sick at what I just ate.
Braxton hicks occur almost every day.
And back pain upon being on my feet for an extended period of time. It only gets better from here folks...

Sleep. Running. Heavy weight lifting. And being able to drink a glass of water without having to run to the bathroom every 15 minutes after.
As I said in my last update, I have an anterior placenta, which kept me from feeling most movement up until about 24 weeks. But I DEFINTLY feel it more now. This baby does not move as much as Flynn did, but when he does, there is no denying it. His kicks are SO strong at times, I seriously wince.
Maternity Clothes:
All maternity pants and jeans. I purchased 3 basic maternity tees. And have been trying to just pick up more tunics, or larger sized shirts. I did this with Flynn, and it was nice to still have those clothes to wear postpartum. They worked well to hide the "leftovers". Be on the lookout for an upcoming post on how I am buying clothes that are good for maternity and postpartum.
Have a wonderfully blessed day everyone! Thanks for stopping by!
Wednesday, September 26, 2018

The Quiet After the Hurricane

Right now I am siting in my living room while my little guy is quietly watching some Veggie Tales. I may still be in my P.J.s, and the extent of our productiveness has only been eating, cleaning the kitchen, and resting.

And I am not one bit ashamed at that. Because to be honest, we have long needed a quiet, peaceful day at home, just like this.

The past two weeks have been some of the busiest, most chaotic, anxiety filled, purely emotionally exhausting weeks we have gone through in a LONG time.

What has made them so chaotic you ask? Two words...

Hurricane Florence.

Our community, along with everyone within 100 miles of us were slammed head on by Hurricane Florence almost two weeks to the day.

Many of our local communities were destroyed by devastating winds and torrential rainfall that lasted for 3 days.

And then once the rains did stop, local rivers began to rise as they never have in recorded history, and flooded out many, many more homes and businesses. And today, some communities are still under those swollen rivers.

We praise the LORD that we did not receive any extensive damage to our home. Only a few shingles blew off the roof, and a TON of branches and leaves fell from the trees cluttering the yard.

Oh. We lost my favorite shade tree in my front yard.

We were also living on something of an island for almost 5 days. As every route out of our neighborhood was completely flooded over.

Right beside our house

We were without electricity and internet for 8 days. Which was a huge trial in itself having to take care of a toddler in 90 degree heat, with 100% humidity, and 6 months pregnant and already always hot from the pregnancy itself.

Trust me. There were many tears shed everyday.

But we were well prepared provision wise. We had a generator to run our well pump for water, and to keep our refrigerator and freezers running.

And we were even able to cook hot meals on a propane camping burner.

Breakfast of freshly laid eggs, cooked camp and eaten style, covered in nutritional yeast

Our days were spent trying to keep calm to help our little guy keep calm in the heat of the day...

Keeping the other members of our homestead safe and fed...

At one point we thought we may have to evacuate the pigs from their pen, due to rising water. But thankfully that did not have to happen. Overall, they were pretty happy with all the extra mud

The chickens spent the height of the storm (2 days) in a steel hunting dog box on the back of our truck, parked next to the house to keep them safe from any possibly falling trees. They were very happy to get back to their coop, even if it was muddy.

And for me, trying very hard not to let the chaos that comes with having to live in the coolest room of your house day in and day out, drive me to the brink of insanity.

Our living room became a camping site
But the LORD was good in all of it. And the moment I was able to get some normalcy back and the electricity and air conditioning back on, that was a beautiful moment indeed.

Notice the orange dot on my mailbox post? That was a marker from a volunteer search and rescue team from Illinois that came by and marked each household safe or not.

If you could still pray for the southeastern part of North Carolina, we would be very grateful. There is a LONG road of recovery ahead for so many, with homes and livelihoods destroyed. In particular for our small farmers. As so many of them are still under water.
Have you ever been through a hurricane or other natural disaster? What did your days during that time look like?
Have a wonderfully blessed day everyone! Thanks for stopping by!
Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Right There With You, Mamas


Do you ever feel discouraged? Kind of let down, and sad?

I know I do from time to time.

Even this week, if I am truthful...

It is one of those times where I looked out, and saw others succeeding at life. Doing seemingly great things with their days.

They have a job with a very clear end result. And can show some sort of accomplishment at the end of their day.

While I struggled to stay afloat through endless toddler tantrums, diaper changes, and that ever present housework.

That housework that NEVER ends.

Where despite spending most of my waking hours attending to it, at the end of the day, it looks EXACTLY like it did before so much effort was spent trying to organize it some.

I could talk on and on, about how important our jobs as mamas and homemakers are.

More than likely, you already know this fact...

It IS one of the most important jobs out there.

And one so full of never ending blessings.

Blessings that we really have to dig and search for at times.

I just want to take a moment to let ALL you mama out there in the trenches, that I see you. And I am right there with you.

I see all the hard physical and mental work you put in day after day.

And how at times it seems as if it was all fruitless.

And if I could, I would send each and everyone of you a huge bouquet of flowers to brighten your day.

Know that I am sending a prayer of encouragement for your heart today, and the strength to tackle the never ending laundry, dishes, and dirt and grime of everyday life.

Oh. And that you receive an extra big, unexpected, wet sloppy kiss from your little one.

Are you feeling discouraged of late? What are some of your favorite scriptures for those time? And how may I pray for you?

Have a wonderfully blessed day! Thanks for stopping by!
Monday, August 27, 2018

No One Can Serve, As An Empty Vessel

I was able to spend some time in the mountains a little over a week ago. It was my first time ever staying not just one, but two nights away from my little guy.

I have had a few hours sprinkled here and there since he has been born, that while my parents or in-laws have watched him, I have been able go grocery shopping, attend doctors appointments, or spend the day cleaning or resting in my home alone.

But never before an over night stay from him...

I was quite hesitant to begin with. And to be honest, the thought of traveling across the state and being away from him for 2 and half days made me want to cry.

But at the same time, a break sounded AMAZING.

So with my amazing hubby's encouragement, I decided to take the opportunity I was given, and allow myself a few days mental and physical rest.

And despite missing my baby and my hubby HORRIBLY, I enjoyed myself.

I was able to let go mentally of being "mama" for an extended period of time, and just be me.

And the result of that was coming back home eager and ready to give more to my little guy, than I had in awhile.

I have always had a difficult time letting go of being "mama" and just letting myself be "Angel", and not feeling guilty. Even when it is just for a few hours at a time.

But after giving birth to Flynn, and several months of giving, giving, and more giving to my family, and not putting back and replenishing my own stores, I burned out.

I had to learn the hard way, that NO one, not even so called super moms, can constantly give, without becoming drained themselves.

Motherhood is the BEST job I have ever had. But also the most difficult.

In order for me to continue to grow and become a better mama for my little guy, I have to take care of myself.

And sometimes that means taking a step back, breathing in the rest the LORD provides, and letting someone else step in and take over for a bit.

And you know what. That is Biblical. Our LORD and Savior Jesus Christ did it Himself while living on this earth 2,000 years ago.

In Mark 4:35-41, we read about how after teaching the multitudes for days, he said to HIS disciples "Let us pass to the other side of the sea of Galilee."

And while Jesus was in the boat, HE laid down and went to sleep. HE rested. And HE prepared HIMSELF for the next task to be done.

And from time to time, I need to do just that as well. And not feel guilty.

To just take a small step away from job at hand, and REST.

"Rest and self care are so important. When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve others from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel."
~Eleanor Brown
How about you?
Does rest and letting go come naturally for you? Or do your seem to struggle and feel guilty about "letting go"?
Have a wonderfully blessed day everyone! Thanks for stopping by!
Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Devotions As A Mama

I remember my devotions in my pre mom days. I am sure some of you do too.

Those days where you would slowly wake up, grab that beautiful steaming mug of happiness, climb into your old worn in comfy chair, and snuggle with a plush blanket.

And you would be able to just sit there in your spotless living room, with perhaps a candle burning, filling your nostrils with the beautiful aroma of vanilla or pumpkin. You would feel completely and mentally alert and be able to comprehend what you are reading.

And you would be able to sit there for an entire 20 minutes, just resting in the goodness of your Savior.

Le sigh...

Devotions in mine and your mama days. Well, they tend to look a tad bit different...

You don't typically wake up early, cause your sweet one might be teething and waking you up all hours of the night.

And you don't crawl into your comfy chair and snuggle with a hot drink, candle, and blanket. Cause that precious babe insists on crawling into your lap to sit or show you all his trucks. And toddlers and hot coffee don't mix well...

So you wait until your little one is mostly occupied, and you light your candle, brew a hot mug, and sit at your kitchen table that is piled with mail, and bills to go out.

And you open your book and Bible and low and behold, someone is suddenly on the verge of starvation.

 Even after eating his body weight in grapes 20 minutes before...

So you stop. Walk to the freezer, and then pop a waffle into the toaster. You wait on said waffle and plop your little one into his high chair, and try to reassure him he will not starve in the 3 minutes it takes for the waffle to warm up.

The waffle pops up, you put some syrup on it, cut it up, and put the tiny pieces onto the tray, for the "starving" toddler to eat.

Surely now you can sit and get some time with your Savior in. Right?


The toddler decides he needs your attention, and proceeds to continuously yell "Mama! Mama! Mama!".

So you look at said toddler and he just smiles at you. And your heart melts into a puddle of love once more. Cause how could you possibly be more blessed than you are right in that moment?

You have a baby, you have a candle burning, you have coffee, you even have your Bible open and at the ready for the right moment.

GOD is SOOOO... good!

So you decide to stop, and wait until your precious little bundle goes down for his nap. Because, lets face it. Something WILL come up in that exact moment you begin to read.

And then you put him down for his nap. You quickly dart back into the kitchen like a flash, cause you only have 1 hour and 15 minutes to conquer the world.

And as soon as you sit down, it hits you like a ton of bricks.


You begin an attempt at reading that passage that has been sitting there for hours, and try as hard as you might, ya just cant for the life of you understand what on earth you just read.

Your mind has completely shut down.

And you know that by then, that it is completely useless to try any longer.

So you ask the LORDs forgiveness, say you WILL be back, and head straight for a nap.

I used to let scenarios like this upset me as a new mom. But now I accept them.

It is only a season in my life. Eventually I will have all the time and mental energy in this world to sit at the feet of my LORD.

But that is not the case right now. And that it okay. Because I know that I am doing EXACTLY what the LORD has called me to do, right in this moment.

Its okay to just read one or two verses in the magical 2 minutes you have free. I don't have to have a full uninterrupted 20 minutes every day.

So long as I am continuing in prayer daily, and at least trying to commune with HIM first thing, the LORD understands my situation right now.

HE led me here to this life. And HE will offer the rest and peace I need in HIM, exactly when it is needed. :)

"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."
Matthew 11:28
How about you?
Are you in a season where you can experience lots of uninterrupted time with the LORD? Or are you in a season where you have to get it when you can, even if it is just a little bit at a time?
Have a wonderfully blessed day everyone! Thanks for stopping by!