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Monday, June 16, 2014

First Hair Cut

Emma is nearing 4 years old and has never had a "real" haircut. I trimmed her hair once, but other than that, it's been growing out since the day she was born. A few weeks ago, we saw a video in which a 3-year old girl, Emily, cuts her hair to donate to kids with cancer. Emma loved it! For the past few days, she has been asking when she can cut her hair. Well, we finally did it - 8 full inches!

She absolutely loved her new cut. Even the next morning (when I was afraid she wake up wanting it back), the first thing she said to me was, "Mom, I love my new hair! Isn't it beautiful?"

We packaged up her ponytails and put them in the mail to send to the Pantene Beautiful Lengths program. As we put them in the mailbox, Emma happily said, "Now some other kids can have my hair." Truly a happy mommy moment. They're never too young to start doing good in the world.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Words to a pregnant woman...

Conversation at Publix last night between a store manager and myself:

Manager: WOW! Are you having twins? (eyes my stomach)

Me: Nope, it's just my third baby.
(plus I was holding Hope on my hip, thus sticking out my stomach even further)

Manager: Is it a boy?

Me: Yep!

Manager: Well, he is going to be a BIG boy. Were your girls big?

Me: No, they were both about 7.5 pounds.

Manager: You must be due in just a few days then.

Me: No, still 5 weeks to go!

Manager: (raises eyebrows) Well, good luck!


I'm 35 weeks pregnant, but I am feeling good. I don't feel huge (most days), and at my appointment earlier that day, baby was measuring at about 33-34 even on the small side. Somehow pregnancy gives perfect strangers a free pass to comment on a woman's weight gain...I still don't understand that. Oh well - grow baby grow!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

A Birth Day to Remember, Suzie's Story....

Our God is a God who hears...

A mighty God whose ways are higher than our ways...

I begin this post by saying that God gives grace to the humble...and it is with humility and grace that I begin this post about my precious daughters birth. Her story begins rather dramatically, and I know that God must have dramatic plans for her life!

As a "high I" on the DISC test - I love attention and I willingly put myself in the spotlight...

...everyone knew I was 42 + weeks pregnant, and many were worried about that.. But I was in excellent hands and my baby & I were monitored regularly, so... I had no fears. 

When Brad graciously agreed to allowing me my dream of a home birth, he    said, "babe, I just need a no-drama birth, a calm, peaceful, no-stress experience"... Both of our previous birth experiences had their share of drama including an ambulance ride (Jack) and a crowning baby (Noah) as we pulled up to the hospital.

As 42 weeks and 2 days arrived, it became a DESPERATE plea of mine ... "Lord, please allow this labor and delivery to be smooth & seamless"...

...I had witnessed this with Courtney's home birth, SO - I knew it was possible with mine.

**and it was possible… but that was not going to be our story.. you see in hindsight, as I write this line 2 weeks post Suzie's birth.. I realize that God knew how she would arrive.. and whether it would have been at home or the hospital.. her position/arrival would have been the same.. yet the 2 scenarios would have been quite different (more on that later)**

I realize now, I probably prayed this more for everyone else, all of those watching our story unfold. I wanted everyone to see that I could go LONG in my pregnancy and have a PERFECT home birth. But you know what? If that would have happened.. I would have given all the credit to my beautiful midwife, Marianne Power, and myself. 

NOW, I see God's hand at work in Suzie's beginning and I see how God blessed my midwife's capable hands and how He is so giving, so gracious, so loving.. and also.. VERY CONFUSING at times! God deserves the GLORY and recognition in this story as He continues to HuMbLe me. 

When Jack was born, I KNEW we would not transfer. 

we did. 

God taught me many things through that.. and I am a better wife, mom, friend and daughter because of it. 

Noah's birth was practically seamless… and I realize in hindsight I always give myself credit for the awesome VBAC and what a redemptive birth that was FOR ME. 

God doesn't get much glory in that story.. I often praise myself, actually. 

so… with that said... 

…it's funny how God works.. 

Apparently I'm a lot like the Israelites: I FORGET who is in charge, and who is IN CONTROL. 


With Jack I used a birthing center and did not even allow myself to THINK about the possibility of a transfer to the hospital...but thankfully my wise husband made me talk through it and prepare, and again... After 54 hours of labor, an acynclitic baby (his head was crooked) and contractions that spaced out, I had to be transferred for a C-section... I learned a lot through that experience and I now know that of course Gods hand was in that, and all that I learned thereafter.

The midwife who stuck it out with me for 54 hours and who graciously allowed me to realize on my own that I would be transferred was the same who would be delivering my Suzie. I couldn't wait for our story to come full circle.

So, back to how funny God is...

(and I'm sure to the embarrassment of my hubby, my stories are sometimes full of graphic read on with caution)

May 9th, 2014: 1:48am.... 42 weeks 3 days pregnant

I had to pee. 

I stumbled in the darkness and had my moment in the pitch dark bathroom, and as I got up to return to bed, I literally had this thought: TURN ON THE LIGHT.

there was blood in the toilet.

...and I was SO EXCITED! That meant something was happening!

Contractions began at 2am... Slow & steady ... But constant. Praise the LORD, today might be the day, and I was ready. This was the first pregnancy that I felt "done"...

I alerted the troops first thing in the morning: midwife, childcare, KK (mother in law), photographer, and my dear home birth sister... The cleaning lady was supposed to come that day and I really wanted her to come anyway because my best friend and baby girls namesake was to arrive that night and I wanted the bathrooms & floors clean.. So turns out she was present too!

I had written this that morning on the chalk board

My mother in law brought Panera breakfast and we ate as a family with the boys, Jack & Noah, and then they got picked up by my dear friend Jordan at 9... Contractions were roughly 8-10 min apart, but not very intense...part of me feared it would be a long day...

Courtney, my dear home birth sister and bestie, had been working on a childcare plan for her 4 adorables (stole that from you, Lauren!) and her plan was to come shortly after 10am... (thank you Jody Grant for making that possible!!)

It was a BEAUTIFUL sunny, breezy day out and I told Brad & KK I wanted to walk. I remembered that Courtney's labor really jump started when she walked...and I certainly did not want this labor to stall... Midwife and friends were on the way - so we had to make sure something was going to happen!! It was a slow trek around the block... I wasn't yet pausing during contractions, but it felt good to be out and moving.

We got home, grabbed some water and I wanted to go again.
So we did.
This time, I started pausing during contractions & leaning on the hubs

We got home and made a lunch plan. Poppy (father in law) was to bring subs from Mama Dilo's. YUM, I was starving.

At this point something was going on that was occupying KK & Brad (later found out it was a water leak behind the washing machine).. So I was laboring alone in my living room listening to a Suzie playlist that KK had created... It was pretty empowering, sitting there, dealing with each contraction with breath and focus, alone. But then.. hit me hard.

I texted Courtney, "I need you... I need a buddy"... Followed by, "oh gosh, last 2.. Killer, and on my own. Pretty empowering actually."

I had a thought after this: Marianne (my midwife) needs to get here. This is real.

Courtney & Marianne showed up around the same time (details are a blur of course).. but I know that when Courtney showed up, I wasn't making noises… but shortly after she arrived my contractions were intense enough that I was making some beautiful noises during each one.. 

my sub arrived from Mama Dilo's

I started chowing down between contractions, so delish!!

I had a few contractions and started hoping that my dear friend Sarah, and photographer, would show up soon...and as soon as I had that thought, she did! Everyone was in place, ALMOST all the people that I had hoped and dreamed could be there, were!

Charlie (former birth assistant, doula and now midwife) was missing… largely due to miscommunication, and even now, my heart aches that she wasn't present… but I felt her love and support via text and thought throughout the process…
The first picture Sarah took when she arrived
My darling hubby - one of the best birth partners out there
Let's not leave out Charlie…this WAS a home birth after all!
My KK (mother in law) - another one of the best birth partners around

Weeks before this I had a daydream of my head in Court's lap: she sat on the couch, as I contracted with hubby behind or beside me... And so, I asked Court to come sit on the couch and it was the following contractions that really started getting serious... The moaning had begun.. My "whale song" as Court called it, ensued...

Time was flying.

It was lunch time.. 12ish? Maybe a little later?

I couldn't believe how "text book" my labor was.. the contractions were getting longer, stronger, and closer together.. intensity RISING with each one.. I was certain that we were ABOUT to have a baby. 

I labored in this position (the one from my day dream) for quite awhile:

Meanwhile - there was worship music playing in the background...
and there was one particular chorus that I had hoped to hear DURING a contraction, and what do you know - over the course of my labor I heard that chorus during MULTIPLE contractions.. it is a Kari Jobe song, and the line in the song is "breathe…" and she sings it over and over again. 
The atmosphere was just:
I was surrounded by people who love me and I was in awe of how quickly things were moving

my contractions weren't PAINFUL, they were PRODUCTIVE (Courtney helped me to name this reality), I knew that with each one.. my baby was coming closer and closer to being born "gently into my loving arms" (one of my previously memorized birth affirmations)
Soon enough I felt "stuff" coming out and again, I was SO EXCITED because this meant progress.. and during that next contraction my water broke
At this point I thought for sure my baby would come while I was in this position:
I was so happy to be in Courtney's lap… I knew that at 1pm she needed to nurse her baby Sara - and I was nervous that the time was nearing, so I was just hoping beyond hopes that she wouldn't have to leave…
Courtney later told me that she was just SO HAPPY when my contractions (and thus my moanings) intensified because she knew I was so close to meeting my little Suzie.. of course my FABULOUS photographer (and co-blogger) captured that emotion:
It was in this intimate position with my dear home birth sister that I began pushing. Shortly after my water broke I had the urge.. so I started grunting and pushing with each contraction.. 
it was also in this position that I heard Courtney asking Brad to text Jody and tell her to "hold off" bringing Sara to nurse. Courtney had a master plan that our friend Jody could bring Sara to my house, Courtney could nurse in the car, and then return to the birth…
..but Court and I both assumed at this point that baby was a'comin!…
I became tired in this position and felt the need to lay down
pushing in this position felt good for awhile - I started feeling progress… but I was also getting tired. 

it was while in this position that between contractions I told Courtney to nurse her baby, I told her I wouldn't mind her little noises, and that in fact, I thought it would be great if she was nursing her baby while I was pushing out mine…

which - was basically what ended up happening :) 

***side note: …during pregnancy I read a book. a book that I HIGHLY recommend EVERYONE read.. but especially preggo's or women thinking about becoming pregnant. the book is Ina May Gaskin's Guide to Childbirth - one of the things you learn in this book is that there is a maneuver that Ina May learned while she was overseas for delivering babies with shoulder dystocia. She brought this method back to the U.S. with her and later the maneuver was named after her:

Gaskin maneuver, named after Certified Professional MidwifeIna May Gaskin, involves moving the mother to an all fours position with the back arched, widening the pelvic outlet***

this info plays a role in what happened next

I was getting discouraged and tired.. and at one point, while on my back, I felt a sudden (and rather intense) urge to flip over. I knew in my head that I needed to flip over, I needed gravity on my side .. and I just NEEDED to flip over. No one told me to. I just knew I had to. 

**well, someone did tell me to. I believe this was one of those divine moments where I was actually sensitive to the Holy Spirit's prompting.. because of what was coming next…

So - onto all fours I went 
this felt better and progress was being made.. 

(later, in debriefing with Courtney, we figured out that I was pushing for less than an hour - maybe 45 minutes-ish)

FINALLY I felt that "ring of fire" and PRAISE THE LORD I knew that meant my baby was coming out in the next contraction (because, well - that's what happened with Noah!)

by this time I had pushed the above pictured birthing ball out of the way and my hands were flat on the ground and I was pushing with my back VERY ARCHED (think cat pose for yoga)…

as each subsequent contraction came though.. I still felt that ring of fire, and it was even more intense

I didn't know why

I thought … umm, the baby is supposed to be slipping out now… 

and she wasn't

it was shortly thereafter (less than a minute or two) that I heard and felt a sense of urgency in the voices around me that were encouraging me to push. 

specifically Marianne & Brad

"push Jenny, this baby needs to come out NOW.. push"

I had been screaming, "GET HER OUT, PULL HER OUT, why isn't she out yet!?" 

and now I heard their urgency, so I stopped, closed my eyes and focused. I felt as though I was pushing my brains out.. I WAS pushing.. 

then.. my baby arrived. 


very pale, blue lips, lifeless and not crying

this is my dear KK, on her knees praying, thinking I had delivered a stillborn:
(fast forward a moment) this is my dear KK when she heard Suzie's first cry:
(please note baby Sara, present at her BFF's birth)
Marianne laid baby Suzie down directly in front of me and said, "okay momma, talk to your baby" and I started to rub her belly, I bent forward and said things like: "oh girl, daddy is going be SO MAD… you'd better perk up because we are in trouble! He needed a NO DRAMA birth, and he will NEVER let us do this again if there is drama.. you'd better think about this.. daddy is going to be so mad…"

as I was talking gently to her, Marianne provided 2 or 3 rescue breaths and all I could think was: this is going to be okay. I've read about things like this happening, and they DO happen.. some babies just need a kick start. 

I had a "peace that passes all understanding" (Phil 4:7)

not to say that my dear husband didn't have this peace.. but he too thought I had delivered a still-born and was thinking frantically in is mind a way to shield me from seeing my pale baby… but BOOM Marianne put her STRAIGHT in front of me

I was completely at peace and I knew that everything would be okay

after those 2 or 3 rescue breaths the oxygen tank was making its way over but my darling Suzie was already starting to cough and breathe… the oxygen tank helped her to pink-up quickly but she was already crying practically as they put the mask on her

moments. this all took mere moments.

Marianne handed my baby to me (would love to post that picture, but it's awfully graphic!) and I held her and listened to her sweet cry. 

in fact, I didn't soothe my baby for what seemed forever…I knew that EVERYONE in that room needed to hear her crying…so I just let her…
 my BEAUTIFUL midwife: Marianne Power

SO: what happened? My baby had 3 strikes against her… any of these 3 on their own would have been less dramatic, but she had shoulder dystocia (see above), she had a compound presentation (her hand was up by her face) AND the cord was wrapped around her neck.

Praise the Lord that instinctually, without anyone telling me, I flipped over onto all fours - knowing in hindsight that that is the BEST position to be in for delivering a baby with shoulder dystocia… for that I am so thankful.

I digress a moment here in the story to tell you that a day or two following her birth I thought about not sharing all of the details with the world via blog, I told this to a friend of mine and she texted me this: 

"I got your email yesterday (I sent an email to my non-FB friends telling them the major details of the story) and I want to tell you it's an incredible birth story and I hope you DO share all of the details. Part of being able to make the decision to have a home birth is to really accept the fact that the worst could happen, but you overcame that fear and when actually faced with it, responded in true peace. I totally see how a home birth was the better option for you and I hope you're not regretting it (we aren't!) because if God's will was for Suzie to be born in that manner, regardless of location, a hospital birth would not have given Suzie to you the moment she was born like your midwife did. A hospital scenario would have been way different and possibly more dramatic and scarier."

**thank you Alicia for these kind words**

and you know what? she's right. Suzie would likely have spent a night in the NICU, away from me… and I wouldn't have bonded immediately with her. I think there is MUCH VALUE in those precautions, obviously… 

but for me.. for this birth.. Suzie was (and is) just fine..

well.. wish my story ended there.. but it doesn't.. 

after Marianne handed my baby to me, before I went from the floor to the couch I was give pitocin in my thigh. I knew that this was to help my uterus contract… but I wasn't sure why she was giving it to me.. this wasn't standard procedure…  

a second shot of pitocin in my thigh

I got moved up to the couch and felt a gush of blood leave my body

now 2 pills, cervidil ..

Marianne asks me, how are you feeling? Do you feel light headed?

I guess I felt a little woozy. I was also hungry. 

I was brought orange juice and the remainder of my Mama Dilo's sub and I chowed down.. 

Courtney brushed my hair (umm.. and later, in the hospital, she washed my feet and legs.. what a true servant and beautiful soul.. I ALSO found out later that she stayed an hour after everyone left and cleaned up my house and re-made my bed.. oh Courtney, thank you… I adore you more than words can say)
I delivered my placenta and felt another HUGE GUSH of blood and received another shot of some kind in my thigh..

Marianne kept pushing on my uterus and she wasn't happy with what she was feeling. 

She told me she was going to call an ambulance because my uterus wasn't contracting well and I was losing too much blood. 

Poor Marianne: this was the SECOND time she's had to call an ambulance for me. The percentage of times she has to do this is SO LOW.. and here I am.. raising her percentage.. 

a hemorrhage. 

really Lord? 


**in hindsight as I write this 2 weeks later, I am so thankful. I was able to spend SO MUCH TIME bonding with my Suzie that she felt like a first baby. I needed recovery and rest time, and therefore had no visitors and I was spoiled by my childhood best friend Suzanne Marie (who my baby is named after) and my husband who took EXCELLENT care of me.. I was really able to fully engage in my newborn and her habits and faces … precious time that I am JUST SO THANKFUL for!

No need to go into all of the details after that.. but after I left in the ambulance my baby got weighed and measured and there were some sweet pictures taken:
My darling friend and photographer and co-blogger (shall I go on?) also came to the hospital to wrap things up and take a few pictures of us there.. they aren't my favorite (because eww. I'm swollen and hospital gowned..) but this IS where the story of the day ended...

It was at this moment in time that I learned I had birthed a 9 pound 2 ounce baby that was 21 inches long


BOTH of my boys, at 41 weeks, were 7.5 and 7.9

I was shocked.

…so, the 3 strikes against her AND SHE WAS BIIIG! sheesh...
We decided to admit Suzie, even though we were able to keep her as a "visitor"… they kept a close eye on her, but neurologically she is perfect… and later the pediatrician even said as much, and commented on how strong she was… 

my perfect little squishy.

SOOOOO, in conclusion… there are so many things I wanted to convey as I told her (our) story… but the main thing was that we are NOT in control. 

I wanted everything to go perfectly

don't we all? 

but this story is what it is for a REASON. God did not do this TO ME, he did this FOR ME (I believe those are Lauren's wise words to me)

He has a plan and a purpose.. for MY LIFE, for SUZIE'S life.. and possibly for someone who is reading this.. someone may just need this story. I hope and pray it is used for good and to GLORIFY GOD.. 

I'm so glad I can say that she was born at home and I'm so thankful for Marianne and her willingness to brave birth with me once again 

I'm very thankful for all the friends and family who I KNOW were covering us in prayer and for Courtney's willingness to be the recipient of what must have been hundreds of texts as she kept people informed 

This was a day to be remembered and one I will not soon forget

I end with one of my favorite shots: 
All watermarked photos taken by Sarah Matthews

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

…the waiting game...

I've told this information to SEVERAL people lately, and because I keep repeating myself, and because I keep thinking about these things.. I've decided to compose a blog on the subject…

…the waiting game…

ALL over FB and the internet you see "top 10 things not to say to a pregnant woman" or similar such stories. Those lists often include things that are repeatedly said at the end of pregnancy, such as:

"you haven't had that baby yet?"

"when is that baby coming, aren't you just READY TO BE DONE?"

"you're OVERDUE? are you getting induced?"


Well, when I was pregnant in 2009/2010 with Jack, I was seeing a midwife and at the time, one of the birth assistants (NOW MIDWIFE!! shout out to Charlie Young!) said to me, "whatever the doctor told you, add 10 days - and tell everyone that is your due date."

Jack: Due Date: May 28th, I told everyone June 7th. He was born June 5th. 

Noah: Due Date: December 18th, I told everyone "Christmas time". He was born December 25th.

…therefore, I didn't have people hounding me at the end… AND MENTALLY I was prepared for June 7th & Christmas time….

in essence: I fooled myself. I was within my expected timeframe.. so there was no need for impatience

Suzie: Due Date: April 22nd, I told everyone EARLY MAY. 

however, this time - we had a curve ball. 

Bradley, my dear, sweet, brilliant husband earned a trip! We knew about it EARLY ON. I KNEW I would be 38 weeks pregnant. Both of my boys came at 41 weeks. I had NO FEARS at all sending Bradley off and I PRACTICALLY FORCED him out the door. HE was the one hesitant to leave. But I won. I made him go. I'm super woman, right? AND, my babies are always late. 

So, he left. April 10th. 

I had a midwife appt. that day. 

I felt labor-ish. 

…then, that whole weekend, I had several contractions, phantom labor and well… mind over matter. I was SO FOCUSED ON NOT going into labor - that my body SURELY FELT as if it WAS. 

On Brad's final day, April 14th, he was scheduled to fly out at 1:30pm.. but the night before he was scrambling to get an earlier flight out at my insistence. He was able to fly out at 8:30am and be home 6 hours earlier than expected! YAY. 

I thought SURELY he will walk through the door, hug me, and Suzie will just slip right out. 


that did NOT happen

My body went back to being normal, and I felt as I always do late in pregnancy. 

Yet this time, my REAL due date sneaked out as I shared with more and more people that suzie COULD possibly come "on time" or "early"… and so now.. 

here i am


maybe she WILL be an April baby. 

Brad & I both allowed that trip to "trip" us up

we've both been hopeful

SO now, here we are: April 30th. 41 weeks and 1 day. Longer gestation than BOTH of my boys. Suzie must want to make a grand entrance. She must want to be fashionably late. She MUST 


(who told EVERYONE and even had the necklace that said MAY)




I didn't fool myself this time. If I had.. I would not be as anxious, excited, impatient as I've been feeling these last SEVERAL days. This time around is UNLIKE both previous times.. THIS time.. I'm ready. Every day. Maybe today? I keep begging her.. COME ON… I want to meet you! 

These are all NEW FEELINGS for me at this stage in pregnancy. 

SO - will she have a DIAMOND for a birthstone? or will she share an EMERALD with her momma?… who knows? apparently she is pretty darned comfy in there.. and apparently she DOESN'T want to be "just like her brothers"

I think we're already in for it with this one.

Heaven help us.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Food baby

Yesterday's conversation at the cafeteria, while waiting in line for my lunch.

Guy in front of me: "So, do you know what you're having?"
Me: "Oh, just a grilled cheese."
Guy: "I meant the baby." (points to my stomach)

Apparently I forget that I'm pregnant more often than not. And also? Food on the mind. All. The. Time. #pregnantgirlproblems

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Baby #3 Announcement

Well, it's official. The children are officially outnumbering the adults in our household. We are so excited to announce that baby #3 is a little boy, set to make his debut mid-July. We are so blessed and very humbled to be on this exciting journey as parents. Stay tuned for more updates!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

{free printable} Valentine Love

Just popping in to say hello and an early Happy Valentine's Day! Enjoy spending time with your loved ones and print this 5x7 to hang for some extra flair wherever you choose!

You may download and print this PDF for your own personal use. I recommend using white card stock for printing. NOTE: Website watermark is not on downloadable version.

Jack & Emma Printables are free to print for your own personal use. Have a suggestion of something you'd like to see? Email us at jackandemmablog(at)gmail(dot)com.

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