3rd Time Around

There are no shortage of posts out there about what it’s like having a 3rd kid. The common theme in all of them is that basically “anything goes” by the time you’re on kid #3. And 5 weeks in…I can say that’s accurate for the most part lol. Here are some things that are different/new now that our #3 has arrived.

*Breastfeeding. With the first kid I was all about sticking to “THE SCHEDULE!”…every 2-3 hours baby must eat (at least in the very beginning). And be on each boob  for a minimum of 15 mins, per  the advice I received from the hospital. Also each nursing session must begin on the boob you didn’t start with last time. I also covered up using a nursing cover anytime people other than my husband were in my presence. Note: I never had, nor do I currently have a problem with breastfeeding in public with or without a cover. I just always chose to do it for my own personal comfort/modesty. This time around…I DESPISE the dang nursing cover. It is such a pain and it’s really stinking hot for both me and baby (since I had a summer baby). Fiona hates it. I hate it. I’m just over it. It’s not like I just leave my boob hanging out for a long period of time for the world to see. And while baby is latched, there isn’t much to see anyway. Once she latches on I can throw shirt or something over any exposed skin, but I’m not completely covering my entire baby in a huge piece of fabric anymore. I just can’t do it. As far as “the schedule”, I dropped that with baby #2. We nurse on-demand. When she’s hungry, she eats. For as little or long as she wants. And while it is definitely a good idea to switch up which boob you start with each session, my mom brain just can’t remember most of the time. So I no longer care.

*Sleep. We are SO lucky that Fiona is a great sleeper. My first 2 kids were not, at this stage anyway. And since this is our last baby, I am soaking in all the bedtime snuggles I can get. Normally at this point I would not want to nurse her or snuggle her until she falls asleep. I’d want to put her down while she’s still awake, but drowsy so she can learn to fall asleep on her own at night. And at some point I probably will switch to that again. But right now, while she’s still so tiny, with her soft newborn skin and smell and little noises, I happily nurse her until she falls asleep and then take a few extra mins to snuggle her on my chest. I just love how she buries her face in my chest and tucks her little head snug underneath my chin. Sigh…

*Daytime Schedule/Routine: Before having any kids, I always said “our world will not revolve around baby” thinking we wouldn’t need to schedule our day around naps, feedings, etc. And then of course we had a kid and we realized how important routine and naps were for the health, happiness and sanity of EVERYONE. However, now that we’re on baby #3 and we already have 2 older kids, 1 of which is in preschool, and we have other scheduled activities etc….baby 3 kind of has to learn to go with the flow. Otherwise, we would never leave the house…EVER. One thing we will remain strict with, however, is bedtime. We believe in an early bedtime for our kids and plan to stick with it. But as for our days, anything goes 🙂 Thankfully Fiona seems to be pretty easy-going and can nap on-the-go, especially if I’m wearing her. Which brings me to…

*Baby-wearing: I didn’t do this much with my first 2 kids. I never quite got the hang of the Moby wrap and it’s mile-long fabric. Again, I wanted to wear them during the summer and wrapping myself and baby in a crap-ton of sweat-inducing fabric just did not appeal to me. I did use our Ergo-carrier when they got bigger but only while we were out and about. And even then, with 2 kids so close in age, they were in the double stroller most of the time. So baby-wearing wasn’t a common occurrence. This time around, however, it’s pretty much a necessity. I need to be hands-free to wrangle my 2 older kids. I found a great carrier from a company called Nesting Days. I won’t get into a full review right now (because it’s coming) but I will just say that it’s amazing and perfect and exactly what I was looking for.  And again, because this is my last baby, I’m really enjoying the whole baby-wearing experience and keeping her close for as long as possible.

That’s all I have for now. I’m sure I’ll add more to this list as time goes on 🙂

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3, 2, and Brand New!

If you missed it, we have 3 kids now. Fiona Joy graced us with her arrival on July 22nd. She’s 3 weeks old now and as expected, things have been a bit of a blur. This post is my attempt to sum up what life has been like since her arrival, while it’s still fresh. I’ve decided to break it up into categories to keep my brain organized. Because “pregnancy brain” turns into “mom brain” and it just gets worse the more kids you have. So my brain is basically mush at this point.

Here we go.

EMOTIONS

The first 2-3 days home from the hospital were the worst. Baby blues hit as expected. This time it wasn’t centered around any one thing specifically. Just an overall sad/depressed feeling. And it hit around the same time each day, about 4-5pm. A wave a sadness hits and the tears come. Thoughts of feeling overwhelmed flood your brain. I wanted to fast-forward time to when Fiona sleeps through the night, is bigger and can play with her siblings, etc. I just wanted to skip over the whole newborn stage and jump to when we have life figured out. Wondering how the heck I was going to manage 3 kids on my own was terrifying. It’s a crazy thing, those hormones. You don’t feel like yourself at all. Thankfully, it was short-lived. Don’t get me wrong- feeling overwhelmed still happens and will continue to happen, but that feeling of walking around with a rain-cloud over my head has passed. Also during this time I get really clingy/needy with my husband. Not sure what it is…it’s like everything else in the world has changed and he’s my only constant. And I just need cuddles. #NotAshamed

SLEEP

I hesitate to even talk about this, because I don’t want to jinx myself. But….it could be worse. She may be the best sleeper out of all 3 kids. The first few nights at home were rough. My milk hadn’t fully come in yet so she was just never satisfied. I’d nurse her until she appeared to be asleep, but a few minutes after I put her down, she’d start fussing and crying and would only calm down if I put her back on the boob, or just held her. So there wasn’t much sleep happening at all. Once my milk came in though, she started sleeping in 3-4 hour stretches. We have occasional “bad” nights when she wakes up 3-4 times. But most of the time it’s 1-2 times. Keeping in mind this is with an 11-11:30pm “bedtime”. Gwen and Ivor Baby still go to bed around 7-7:30pm. But Fiona stays downstairs with us until OUR bedtime. I feed her a few times while we’re watching TV. Then one last time upstairs in our room right before we all go to bed. So the waking up 1-2 times is from that point on. All of that said, I know things can easily change…with growth spurts, teething, and other random reasons etc. So I won’t get my hopes up. I’d rather prepare for the worst and then be pleasantly surprised if it stays this way. But for now, I am so thankful to get a solid stretch of sleep at night so that I can function the next day.

SIBLINGS

So Gwen is 3 and Ivor Baby is 2. They each come with their own challenges. Gwen can be emotionally exhausting and challenging. Ivor Baby is more physically exhausting/challenging. And having a newborn who nurses-on-demand can make things a little crazy, trying to make sure everyone’s needs are met and get the attention they’re demanding. We’re still working that out…especially now that I’m on my own with them during the day. But so far there have only been a few times where crap hit the fan and all 3 were screaming or needing something at the same time. Let me tell you, the first time that happened, it really did feel like this:

3 kids

And I just wanted to go run and hide in the closet.

As far as sibling interaction: Gwen is doing great with Fiona. She’s like a little mommy and loves to help. She loves touching her hair (who doesn’t?!) and giving her kisses. Ivor Baby kind of ignored her most of the time in the beginning, but he’s starting to take a little more interest in her now and he even gives her kisses too. He still needs to be more careful around her.  He’s a bit like a tornado when he’s playing, destroying everything in his path, and doesn’t pay attention to his surroundings. Like I said, it is physically exhausting trying to keep him from hurting himself and others. But…he is a 2-year old boy.

BREASTFEEDING

Not much to report here other than the stupid infection I got (mastitis). I’m prone to clogged ducts and have had mastitis once before (which makes it even more likely to happen again), so I wasn’t all that surprised that it happened. Except that I didn’t even realize I had a clogged duct. Usually you have a clogged duct first, and then if you don’t unclog it within a few days it can turn into mastitis. In my case this time, it all seemed to happen in one day. I started the day off just fine, then around lunch time I felt some pain in my boob and thought “crap…clogged duct”. But then within just a few hours it progressed quickly, I came down with a high fever/chills and was in urgent care by dinner time (it wasn’t that bad the first time I got it, with Ivor Baby). Thankfully with antibiotics, a breast pump, warm compresses and Fiona spending more time on the boob, the issue was resolved in a few days. We’ve been doing great since.

PHYSICAL RECOVERY

Aside from the bout of mastitis, I’ve really felt great physically compared to my previous experiences. I had a smooth, vaginal delivery and didn’t require any stitches this time (despite pushing out my biggest baby!) The fact that it was my 3rd time probably had a lot to do with that. So I am very thankful. Don’t get me wrong, there has still been recovery involved. To paraphrase Ryan Reynolds, a human being did indeed exit my body and that’s no trivial ordeal.

I’ve started to ease back into working out again  by lifting weights. I’m basically starting from scratch again and rebuilding muscle. My core is really weak right now…I can barely do a sit-up. I mean..my core/midsection has housed, sustained and grown 3 human beings, 3 separate times in the last 4 years, so it’s kind of to be expected that my core strength isn’t what it used to be (especially only 3 weeks postpartum right now).  And I’m totally okay with that. I’m starting light and going slow. I feel no pressure to “get my body back” in any particular time-frame. But there’s no denying the benefits of working out…I feel better mentally and physically when I do it. Results will come eventually.

SUPPORT

Last, but not at all least, I’ve been blessed with help/support in these first few weeks! My mother-in-law was here at first and was a huge help, occupying my older kids, cleaning, etc. My awesome friends brought over meals. And my husband has been a complete rockstar. He also occupied the kids, took over potty-training with Gwen (she had a regression just before Fiona was born and it was causing me major stress). He went grocery shopping, He cooked meals and fed me (and poured the wine!) He did dishes. He did whatever he had to do so that all I had to worry about was nursing and resting. He also made sure we got out of the house, especially during my “baby blues” phase. Today is his first day back to work and we miss him already 🙁

The fun is just beginning! Gwen starts preschool next week, MOPS will start back up again next month and I’m looking forward to settling into a new routine.

Here are some snapshots from the first few weeks…

 

 

Fiona’s Birth Story!

Ok. Took me a little while to sit down to write this because…holy crap I have 3 kids now (still adjusting to even saying that). Any “free” time I’ve had up until now I just wanted to spend doing absolutely nothing, if not napping. Or trying to be somewhat productive around the house because that actually makes me feel more like a normal human (and not JUST a milk-dispensing, diaper-changing, baby-snuggling machine…though I am a big fan of the last one!) Sitting down to write a blog post usually takes quite a bit of time and thought. I go back and re-read, re-write things, etc. before posting. So it’s somewhat time-consuming and I just haven’t had much of a chance until now (or a willingness to use my brain more than necessary lol). And even now, before finishing this first paragraph I’ve been interrupted at least 5 times. But I will press on! Anyway, I’ll get more into what life at home has been like in my next post. For now, this one’s all about the arrival of BG3- miss Fiona Joy!

Things actually began on July 21st. In God’s crazy timing, that’s exactly 1 year to the day since Ivor’s accident and the miscarriage of our twins. Now, you’ll have to forgive me because I’m about to get all sentimental and spiritual up in here. From the day I found out I was pregnant and realized what my due date was, I couldn’t help but marvel at God’s goodness and be overwhelmed with gratitude for the blessing of this little “rainbow baby”.  A tangible reminder for our family of the beauty and joy that can come after pain and suffering. I think it’s a really beautiful and powerful parallel actually to physical childbirth. There is a great pain involved, but it’s productive pain. And the end result is LIFE…a living, breathing child entering the world. Instead of fighting against the pain, you embrace it and let it move through you because you know what’s coming at the end. Doesn’t make it any easier at the time and you may ask for some meds to help you through it. But it’s always worth it. I think we can view grief and suffering in the same way. It sucks and it might be a really long road, but God can and will redeem it. It’s never in vain. He can bring something beautiful out of it if you let him. I don’t believe God causes the suffering, but he allows it and redeems it and uses it. I’ve seen it happen.

“Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5)

I’ve included a music video at the end of this post that means a lot to me. I heard this song after my first miscarriage and the tears just immediately started to flow because I could relate to the lyrics so much. I’m sure Paramore didn’t write it about a miscarriage, but it’s generic enough that it could apply to many different situations. For me, it’s about how I felt after my miscarriages and that transition from fighting against the pain to embracing it and just “letting it happen”. It was also going through my head during every contraction while in labor.

So now, back to July 21st, 2016.

My braxton hicks contractions felt different this day. They weren’t more painful, but instead of an all-over tightening feeling in my abdomen, there was pressure much lower and it radiated around my lower back. So that made me take notice of them and start tracking them. I did this for a few hours that evening while we were watching Netflix. They were pretty consistent and not going away. But not getting any stronger either. So we went to bed. Of course right before falling asleep I finally told Ivor that I thought I *might* be in early labor, but that he should try to get some sleep anyway. Apparently that was a mistake and he couldn’t fall asleep after that lol. I did though 🙂

Until about 3:15 ish-am (now July 22nd) when I woke up to a contraction and my water breaking! But this was much different from when my water broke with Gwen. This time, there was quite a bit of blood involved and it freaked me the heck out. So we left for the hospital in somewhat of a panic. Thankfully I felt her move around in the car on the way there so that was reassuring. We checked into the hospital shortly after 4am. The nurse assured me that the bleeding thing was totally normal. I had just never experienced that until after being in labor for quite awhile and in the hospital AFTER my water had already broken, not at the same time (in my previous pregnancies).

She checked me and I was 5, almost 6 cm dilated and 80% effaced. She confirmed that my water did indeed break. So I thought “hooray! this will go quickly!”

Until it didn’t. Things were not progressing quickly at all. We started pitocin. Still…no progress. We increased the dose of pitocin and still…not much progress. Contractions were still frequent and started to get more painful. So much so that I did end up getting an epidural (more on that later), but not enough to dilate more and move things along. So the nurses determined that it was likely a sort of “partial” water breakage that happened in the middle of the night. Or, it broke, but then baby was in the way of full drainage. If that makes any sense to you. So the plan was for my doctor to come in and break it the rest of the way because that would likely get things moving big time (especially with my history- once they broke my water with Ivor Baby, he basically popped out 5 mins later).

But the on-call doctor was apparently super busy with patients all day and took forever to show up. I still don’t understand why another doctor couldn’t have just come in and taken care of it, but whatever. So to recap- we got to the hospital around 4am and the doctor didn’t arrive to see me until 6pm. SIX PM. This baby could’ve been born so much earlier in the day. Anyway. Once my doctor finally arrived and broke my water, sure enough, things got crazy fast. My epidural basically stopped working and I started feeling the contractions again, and mostly on just one side. Even after having them “top off” my dosage. All that did was increase the numbing on one side of my body and do absolutely nothing to the other side. I apparently have bad luck with epidurals. That’s what I get for trying to fight against the pain and keep some control ;-P

I then got really hot and sweaty and faint. I know this feeling well- this is what happens right before I’m ready to push. The doctor came back in shortly thereafter and checked me and asked if I was ready. Yes. Yes I was. I gave my first push with the next contraction and then the doctor got dressed and everyone else prepped for delivery. Then 3-4 more pushes later, she was here! At 6:34pm. 8lbs 0oz, 20 in. long.

After confirming that she was really a girl (I’m always paranoid that the ultrasound tech is wrong), one of the first things I said was “omg look at all her hair!!’ And that’s basically what everyone says when they see it haha. I love it. And I love her. I love our new family of 5.

We are so thankful to have her in our lives. Our 3rd rainbow baby (since my very first pregnancy ended in miscarriage, I consider all 3 of my kids little rainbows).

Thank you all for the well wishes on her arrival <3 She’s so sweet and snuggly and soft. Despite the sleep deprivation, I’m enjoying this “simple” newborn stage (eat, sleep, poop) before she starts talking back and throwing tantrums and peeing on the floor 🙂

Coming Soon…..”Life with 3 Kids, Ages 3, 2, and brand new!”

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BG3 (Fiona) Pregnancy Update- probably the last one!

Due Date: July 23, 2016

How Far Along: 38 weeks (39 weeks on Saturday)

Next Appointment: July 19th

Gender: GIRL!

Total Weight Gain/Loss: + 35lbs or so….I have an ice cream sandwich problem right now. And I’m not ashamed.

Exercise: Any movement feels like exercise at this point lol

Stretch Marks: No

Swelling: Yes- comes and goes. Usually at the end of the day, particularly when it’s hot.

Maternity Clothes: Yes but not for long! I’m so over it. I want my old wardrobe back!!

Belly Button: Popped.

Sleep: Waking up at least once every night to pee- sometimes 2-3 times. And getting out of bed right now is the WORST.

Food Cravings: Ice cream sandwiches

Food Aversions: Nada

Symptoms: All the pain and discomfort.

Movement: Still nice and active in there.

Labor Signs: Braxton hicks, 2cm dilated, 50% effaced. Just waiting for real contractions to begin at this point.

What I Miss: My non-maternity wardrobe. And being comfortable.

What I’m Loving: Getting closer to her due date!

What I’m Looking Forward To: See above. I am SO excited to meet her and can’t believe how close it is now 🙂

Best Moment This Week: Always love hearing her heartbeat on the doppler at my doctor’s appointments. Since I’m so close to my due date I’ve been having weekly appointments, so I get to hear it often!

Words of Wisdom: Listen to your body- ask for help- rest when you can and don’t feel guilty! That’s been the theme for me recently. If I want to nap and eat an ice cream sandwich, that’s just what I’m gonna do 🙂 Because life’s about to get a whole lot crazier, very soon!

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BG3 (Fiona) Pregnancy Update- getting closer

34 weeks

1 day shy of 34 weeks

Due Date: July 23, 2016

How Far Along: 34 Weeks (tomorrow)

Next Appointment: June 20th

Gender: GIRL!

Total Weight Gain/Loss: + ….a lot. I always put on the majority of the weight in the 3rd trimester. Because I eat all the food I see at this point and I’m too uncomfortable to be any more active than I have to be.

Exercise: Sadly, going up and down stairs and chasing after my 2 kids is all I can muster. I’m super uncomfortable these days…

Stretch Marks: No

Swelling: A bit..mostly during the heat wave though

Maternity Clothes: Yep, all the maternity clothes.

Belly Button: Popped.

Sleep: Not great

Food Cravings: If it’s edible, I’ll eat it.

Food Aversions: Nothing anymore really.

Symptoms: All the pain and discomfort.

Movement: Lots! She’s an active girl in there…and getting to the point where certain movements actually kind of hurt. Like she’s trying to push/kick her way out of my stomach or up through my ribs. Wrong direction, baby girl.

Labor Signs: Not really…braxton hicks have actually lessened a bit, or maybe I’m not noticing them for whatever reason

What I Miss: My non-maternity wardrobe. And being comfortable.

What I’m Loving: Getting closer to her due date!

What I’m Looking Forward To: See above

Best Moment This Week: The one productive day I had when I went through ALL the old baby clothes that were in trash bags, piled in my closet. Kept the good stuff for Fiona and donated all the rest. Be gone with you, clutter!

Words of Wisdom: I’ve been complaining a lot recently about this pregnancy. Unless I’m forgetting what it was really like with the other 2, this pregnancy seems to be taking a much bigger toll on my body physically. My husband agrees that I’ve definitely complained a lot more with this one. I don’t know if she’s bigger, or if it’s just that this is the 3rd time I’ve gone though it and it’s normal to get worse each time or what. But my whole mid-section area just hurts. It’s the worst after I’ve been sitting or laying down and I go to stand and walk a few steps. Those first few steps are killer. Anyway. The wisdom part. I’ve struggled with feeling guilty a bit for complaining (both internally and out loud) so much. Because I’ve experienced loss, I do not take any of this for granted. I know how blessed we are. I am still SO thankful for the reason for my pain and discomfort: the little life growing inside me. In general, I’d love to not complain so much of course. But I think you can still be grateful and thankful AND acknowledge the difficulty too. Like when people say about motherhood “embrace every moment, you’re going to miss this”, ….well, sure…but some moments still really suck at the time. And I think that’s okay. Those ideas don’t have to be mutually exclusive. And to be frank, I have not loved EVERY moment of being a mom…and I don’t miss everything. Like the sleep-deprivation and the monster it turns me into 🙂 Don’t miss that one bit (and won’t miss it after I go through it one more time).  So yes, I do love being pregnant most of the time, but some days just really suck and as beautiful as pregnancy is/can be, I’m much more looking forward to having a baby in my arms, rather than in my belly.

 

Marriage with Kids

As we’re quickly approaching the birth of our 3rd baby (in less than 4 years), I have to be a little honest. I’m concerned about the strain it might put on my marriage. In the 3+ years I’ve been a mom, talking to other moms, hearing other moms’ struggles and prayer requests, a common theme that comes up frequently is marriage. The struggle between the SAHM and the working husband. Resentment. Bitterness. Competition (who works harder, who deserves a “break”, etc.) It typically looks something like this (more or less): the overworked, overwhelmed SAHM struggles to keep her sanity as she juggles all the responsibilities/expectations of staying at home. Being a good mom, a good wife, a good housekeeper, the one who everyone needs SOMETHING from at all times, etc. And doing it all by herself the majority of the day, every day. Then there’s the working Husband who has a stressful, demanding and challenging job. A job that’s not necessarily a 9-5 either (because you KNOW being a mom is NOT just 9-5) and could sometimes involve travel, etc (especially Bay Area jobs). He may or may not actually enjoy his job and in most cases he certainly doesn’t enjoy or desire to be away from his family so much, he just feels obligated to do so because of his responsibility. Husband comes home from work at the end of the day and Wife wants a dang break, or help from the Husband- to either completely take over the caring for the kids thing for the brief period of time before bedtime, etc. or just lend a helping hand and “tag-team” while they’re both at home. But the Husband probably just wants a break too…to come home and relax after a long day. Or he’ still busy working hard to provide for his family, even though he’s not physically at the office. Because that is his role and responsibility and he feels pressure to provide financially for his wife and kids. But the Wife wants the Husband’s work-life balance to lean more toward “life”, while many men are wired more toward “work” BECAUSE of life or SO THAT his Wife and kids can have a good life. If that makes sense. Sometimes Husband and Wife may even start to envy each other, believing the grass is greener on the other side. Husband “gets to” leave the house and be away from the kids and have actual adult conversation that doesn’t revolve around poop, or sippy cup colors or Daniel Tiger and then can actually enjoy being with the kids because “separation makes the heart grow fonder”. But the Wife has more freedom and flexibility and can stay in her pajamas or workout clothes all day and “gets to” play with the kids and not have the pressure of deadlines or dealing with really difficult clients, etc. (Unless of course you consider demanding toddlers “difficult clients”..which, I do).

That’s the general picture I get from others. And I understand all of those feelings. Because I’m there too. It’s a tough season to navigate.

So how do you survive? And not just survive, but thrive, in your marriage during this stage of life? I know that might sound cheesy or cliche, mostly because it rhymes (the “not just surviving, but thriving” thing) but it’s something I do feel strongly about. Marriage isn’t meant to just be okay or mediocre or barely getting by. Yes, marriage is hard and there are seasons of mere survival. I understand that. But that’s certainly not the goal. It should also be life-giving- a beautiful, earthly reflection of the relationship between Christ and his Church. It’s a big deal. The ONE person on this earth that you are to have the closest and most intimate relationship with is your spouse. The person who knows you inside and out, better than anyone else- every line, curve, and flaw on your physical body, and every flaw/short-coming in your personality. While I do recognize and accept that there are just difficult seasons of marriage (having small children is one of those) and it’s a season that will pass- that doesn’t mean we should put marriage on the back burner and just get back to it later after the season has passed. I think it can still be a time of growth (as a lot of trials and tribulations can be). A time where, in the midst of total and complete chaos (hello 3 year old, 2 year old and a newborn), where we can find calm and peace and intimacy in each other. To fight AGAINST the attacks that will surely come from Satan- “oh, you have 3 small children that you’re taking care of at home, by yourself, let me fill your head with negative thoughts about your husband as he leaves you to go to work every day”. Satan looooooves these vulnerable times. And let me tell you, the Internet and the world doesn’t always help. I have to avoid certain groups of people who love to complain/vent about their husbands not helping out more with the kids or around the house, because it can easily create a sort of angry wife mob mentality….”Yeah, you’re right….they SHOULD help out more, and it shouldn’t even be called ‘helping’, it’s called parenting because it took TWO people to make these kids”, etc. etc. “Down with the husbands!” You may think I’m exaggerating…..I’m not. And yes there is truth to it….it takes 2 to tango, there are 2 parents who should be parenting, but what that looks like and how it all plays out in roles/responsibility and who does what when, is what I’m talking about- and I just don’t like the mob mentality thing. Anyway.

I am NOT an expert nor do I claim to have it all figured out. What I do know is that I will fight for my marriage with every fiber of my being, even in the difficult seasons of life, as long as it depends on me. And it certainly works better when both spouses are on the same page in that regard. I don’t mean to make it sound simple either. What I share is from my experience and my marriage. If it’s helpful to someone else, GREAT! But if it’s not, that’s cool too.  I’m sure there are plenty of other blog posts out there that you can relate to more. But I feel called to share what I’ve learned because I don’t think it happens enough. We were fortunate to have really great mentors at our old church in Philly who shared stuff like this and invested in young adults/couples. If this happened more often in churches, perhaps the need for actual counseling would be less? Just a thought…

I post this “list” every so often and it keeps evolving over time, because circumstances change (more babies come into the picture, etc.) and you have to adjust and do what works best for your marriage at the time. But these are some things we’ve done or tried to do to keep our marriage a priority during a really stressful and chaotic season of life. I’ll start with the newest one to the list:

  1. Making “me” time a priority. Because “if mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” That might sound counter-intuitive or productive to the goal of making marriage a priority. But I assure you, it is not. ‘Self-care’ is vital to my role as wife AND mom. It doesn’t mean I’m being selfish. It just means that if I’m not taking care of myself, I can’t take care of my family well. Period. In a very logical, practical example: I remember one day shortly after our 2nd kid was born- I realized it was lunch time and I hadn’t eaten anything all day. I was sleep-deprived and taking care of the needs of my kids all morning. It was hot and I started to feel very faint (I do actually have a history of passing out) and it occurred to me “If I don’t stop everything and eat right now, I’ll pass out and there will be no one here to take care of my kids”. So with both kids screaming, I said to myself “let them scream, they’ll survive…you need to EAT”. So that’s the idea. If I don’t take time to get refreshed and re-energized somehow (both spiritually and physically), my husband and my kids will suffer. Specifically in regard to marriage- NOT doing this started to create resentment toward my husband. As I mentioned earlier, a common thought can be “my husband gets to go have adult conversation and get a break from the kids” and as moms we complain about never being able to do that. So….DO THAT. Actually have the conversation with your husband. Not to ask permission, but to inform and schedule the logistics of it. Whether it’s going to a coffee shop by yourself, getting a pedicure, hanging out with other mom friends (kid-free!), schedule that time. Once a week, every 2 weeks, whatever. Just make it happen. I’ve only recently started making this a priority and I really wish I would’ve started sooner. I come back from that time better equipped to love on my husband and kids and I don’t feel that resentment whenever he leaves the house. Because I get my time too.
  2. Acknowledging and recognizing that you are not in a competition with your spouse. Communicate to each other, lovingly (that’s the tough part), what it’s like in your shoes, with the purpose of giving each other grace. It amazes me how well actually communicating something verbally helps our marriage. Seems obvious, but as women we tend to want our husbands to be mind-readers. “Why doesn’t he just KNOW what I want or need or how difficult my day was!” 9/10 times, they just don’t. Not because they don’t love you, but because they’re wired differently. They don’t see what we see all the time or how we see it. Just tell him. He’ll be more receptive than you think (depending on the delivery of course). Again- my experience…everyone’s different. But you won’t know until you try!
  3. Going on date nights. Cannot stress this enough. I know it’s difficult with a newborn, especially if you’re nursing- you may have to get creative. But either invest in a regular babysitter (if you don’t have family around) so that you can get out of the house, alone, with your spouse. Or do a babysitting exchange with a friend if finances are an issue. That’s what we do. Once a month- a friend watches my kids so we can go on a date. And then I do the same for her and her husband. There’s something about going out on an actual date- out of the house, without kids, that reminds you “hey…you’re husband and wife, you once didn’t have any kids together, and romance was a thing”, that is so necessary. It doesn’t always have to be a romantic thing, it can also rekindle the companionship/friendship with  your spouse too. But that needs to happen without kids around 🙂
  4. Waking up early and spending time together before he leaves for work and before the kids get up (again, this was only a thing once the youngest was sleeping through the night). It sets a much better tone for my day to spend that quiet time alone with my husband, before the chaos of the day begins. And then…
  5. Going to bed at the same time. Note: doesn’t necessarily mean falling asleep at the same time. Recently, it’s been me falling asleep while he reads until he’s actually tired. Because I’m 8-months pregnant and tired by about 8pm….ok, more like 7pm…ok, I’m just tired ALL THE TIME. But being in the same room together, in the same bed, at the end of the day, is crucial. Beginning and ending our day together reminds us that we’re in this together- it was just the two of us at the start, and it will be just the two of us at the end (once this season has passed and the kids are out of the house). Keeping our bedroom a sacred space, that kids are not allowed in, also helps. I know not everyone agrees with that and co-sleeping is a big thing for some people, but just not for us. Our kids have taken over the entire rest of the house. Our bedroom is the only space that’s ours. And we like it that way. Perhaps that’s why we’ve had 3 kids in such a short amount of time 😉

I would LOVE to hear other ideas/thoughts. Please do share. What are some things you’ve done to keep marriage/your spouse a priority? Or what are the biggest challenges you face in making that happen?

And because when I share this post on social media, it always looks better with a picture attached, here’s my gorgeous husband/click-bait (yes, I cropped myself out):

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Dear Ivor Baby

I wrote one of these for your sister when she turned 2, so it’s only fair I do the same for you 🙂 You’re about to turn 2 next week and I can hardly believe how fast those 2 years have gone by. Everyone always says that, but it’s true. Coming so soon after your big sister was born just added to the speed I think. You came into this world quickly and intensely, leaving everyone in the room wondering what just happened. But it was the best way to start a Monday morning! And even though having you so quickly was unexpected, we couldn’t imagine life without you or having done it any differently.

Much like the day you were born, you continue to brighten everyone’s day with your lively, energetic, jolly self. You always have a glimmer in your eye and a smile on your face. Your dimple has been melting mommy’s heart since day 1 which makes it really difficult to discipline you when you’re in trouble…because you’re so dang cute and you know just what face to make to either make me laugh or wanna give you a great big bear hug. Speaking of hugs, you are the BEST snuggler a mama could ever ask for. Not just with me, you like to snuggle with others too…and that’s cool. I can share.

I have a feeling you will be a “class clown”, as you’ve already started to enjoy making faces and being a goofball to make other’s laugh…and you feed off of the laughs.

Like your big sister,  you can be passionate and loud and very impatient when it comes to food. I know Gwen went through that phase too, but man…you’re not going to starve kid, I promise you. Oatmeal IS coming.

You are a daredevil. You climb, you jump, you dive. You have no fear. You are the reason we can’t have nice things 😉 I mean, your sister is too…but you take it to another level. You get into stuff Gwen never had any interest in. When we visit other people’s homes, we’ve discovered that even if they’re toddler-proofed…they are rarely ever “Ivor-proofed”. But you’re just in that stage of life filled with curiosity and exploration…you’ll learn that there are boundaries. And you’ll get better at listening and understanding consequences as you get older. Right? Right.

You enjoy playing with your big sister and you’re getting better at standing your ground and not letting yourself be pushed around by her (we’re working with her on this, but she will always be your big sister and I’m sure she’ll remind you of that for the rest of your lives) 🙂 I suppose it will get better when you’re old enough to play properly with things, instead of just destroying them. That’s what makes her mad right now.

Your vocabulary is growing slowly but surely every day. You’re not nearly the talker Gwen was at this age, but that’s totally fine by me! Not sure I could handle that lol. Though the screaming really does need to stop 😛 Here are some things you can say:

“Mommy”- or “MOMM-AY” when you’re whining

“Daddy”

“Gwen”- used to be “Gway” but you’re now pronouncing the “n”

“Mootin” (Milton, the cat)

“Guys”

“Hey”

“Hi”

“Are you?” (where are you)

“bank you” (thank you)

“peas” (please)

“c’mon”

“no”

“owside” (outside)

“books”

“yay”

“wet it go” (let it go)

“elsa”

“anna”

“olaf”

“nemo”

notice a pattern?

And you have a very interesting and unique way of asking for more food. It goes something like this “amama-dayee?” ….sounds like “mommy daddy” but it’s not. And it’s only when you’re in your high chair, wanting more food. I’m sure there are other words you can say now that I’m not remembering, but those are the most common ones.

You know a few numbers and letters. You still LOVE bath time, and being in or near the water. Finding Nemo is still your favorite movie and a surefire way to calm you down in just about any circumstance. We love you so much and can’t wait to watch you learn and grow and become a big brother very soon 🙂

Happy 2nd birthday little man!

Love,

Mommy, Daddy, Gwen, and Fiona

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BG3 (Fiona) Pregnancy Update!

Just now as I sat down to write this I realized I’m nearing the end of my 2nd trimester already (in about 2 weeks). The 1st trimester dragged on, this trimester flew by. I wonder how the 3rd will feel (I’m hoping for another fly-by). We shall see 🙂

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Due Date: July 23, 2016 (nothing’s changed here)

How Far Along: 26 Weeks

Next Appointment: April 28th

Gender: GIRL!

Total Weight Gain/Loss: Close to 20lbs now….It must be the lifting, right? Yes, all muscle and baby (that’s what I’ll keep telling myself…as I stuff my face with chocolate)

Exercise: Still lifting but nearing the end sadly…doctor says no more than 20lbs once I hit 32 weeks (which means I wouldn’t be able to lift my own children soooo, we’ll see :)….)

Stretch Marks: No

Swelling: No

Maternity Clothes: Yep, all the maternity clothes.

Belly Button: About to pop

Sleep: Not terrible, could be better

Food Cravings: Lately, sweets. And still with the Indian food.

Food Aversions: Nothing anymore really.

Symptoms: Lower back aches, leg cramps….meh.

Movement: Yes! I feel her move quite a lot now. Loving it 🙂

Labor Signs: The occasional braxton hick. When I’m dehydrated and really active…but I’ve got it under control now for the most part.

What I Miss: The ability to sneeze without peeing myself a little. And apparently coughing too hard may also cause the peeing….sigh.

What I’m Loving: Feeling the her move and seeing her little kicks and jabs from the outside too.

What I’m Looking Forward To: Same as before- meeting her for the first time! Can’t wait to kiss her little cheeks 🙂

Best Moment This Week: I ate a lot of Indian food…that made me happy.

Words of Wisdom: Pregnancy hormones are not to be trusted.

Until next time, here’s another picture from her ultrasound back in February (cause I like looking at her pictures):

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Our 1st Disneyland Trip: Part 1

If I don’t sit down and write this now, it won’t happen. And I need it to happen. This was a very special and memorable trip and I must document it in as many ways possible 🙂 So I’ll recap it, share some photos/videos and some lessons learned/tips for future trips. Because I tend to ramble and I know most blog readers have a short attention span, I will probably break this up into several parts (with separate posts). Because there’s just SO much to share.

Let’s start with a history…

Going to Disneyland wasn’t really on my radar until very recently. I always said to myself “maybe when the kids are much older so they remember/enjoy it more.” However, in February I took Gwen to see Frozen on Ice as a mommy/daughter date and early birthday present. Frozen is one of her favorite movies of all time (like 2397429 other little girls), so I figured she would enjoy this. And I wanted to see how she’d do at her first “show”. Well, to say she loved it would be an understatement. Her face was lit up the whole time. She sang. She danced. She clapped at the appropriate times. She excitedly exclaimed “MOMMY, LOOK! IT’S _______!” (fill in the blank with every character she saw). I texted Ivor during the show and told him how much she was enjoying it and said something like “We are SO going to Disneyland!” Of course I wasn’t expecting to do it anytime soon, but then he responded with a comment about trying to book it before the baby comes. So let it be known, while I may have been the one to put the bug in his ear at that Frozen show, it was my husband who suggested actually going before Baby #3 comes. So of course, I ran with it 😉

I then started doing research, asking friends for advice, reading blogs, etc. about going to Disneyland (where to stay, when to go, what rides to go on, where to eat etc.) Since we live in California, almost everyone we know who has kids  has been there and it’s a very popular place to visit. So there is no shortage of Disneyland experts/veterans to seek advice from! We ended up booking it fairly last minute, during a peak time of year (spring break/Easter). I’m thankful we got a room at all, let alone at one of the Disneyland Resort hotels (places were selling out quickly during the dates we wanted, but we wanted to be able to go while Ivor’s mom was still here). While staying on property (at 1 of the 3 resort hotels) is definitely more expensive than staying off-property, we decided the convenience was worth it for us right now. When you stay at one of those hotels you get the advantage of the “Extra Magic Hour” every day of your stay. That means you get into the park an hour before it’s open to the general public. The 2 parks (Disneyland Park and California Adventure) alternate which one has the magic hour each day. With 2 small kids (and a husband who LOATHES crowds), this was extremely appealing to us. Other advantages of staying on property is the convenience of the location- everything within walking distance, really nice pools, restaurants, etc. and that little bit of “Disney magic” that each of the hotels have. I wanted to truly feel like I was on vacation and staying somewhere where everything is right there, helps me feel like I’m really on vacation. Maybe that’s just me. But I loved it! The Disneyland Hotel is the one we stayed at.

Anyway, we stayed for 6 nights- but only purchased 3-day park hopper tickets. So we had 2 days of rest, which I highly recommend. 3 days in the park(s) was about perfect.  We arrived on a Wednesday. We did Disneyland Park on the first day, Thursday (because it had the extra magic hour that day), California Adventure on the 2nd day- Friday, then had 2 rest days (Saturday and Sunday- which is when the park was probably more crowded) Then on Monday, our final day in the park, we went to California Adventure first (for the magic hour) and then “hopped” over to Disneyland park for the rest of the day. Drove home on Tuesday.

Here’s a quick breakdown/summary of each day (and by “quick” I probably mean “detailed”):

Day 1 (Disneyland Park): If I had to rate each day in the park, this was probably the worst. We didn’t get in line as early as we (my husband) wanted to, even for the magic hour- the line was already crazy long when we got there. So the crowds were there early, lines for rides had already started, blah blah whatever. Despite all of that, Day 1 was always going to be the “break-in/warming-up” day, no matter what. The kids have never really been to any amusement park and have never seen characters up close and personal. So it was a little overwhelming for both of them at first (understandably). It took Gwen some time to really get into the rides. And that’s ok. I expected that to happen. It was also really really hot, which didn’t help things. But we still managed to go on a decent amount of rides before noon, which is when we planned to go back to the hotel for lunch/naps. The ride highlights from this morning: the carousel (which ended up being Gwen’s absolute favorite) and the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage ride (very cool). We went on more rides obviously, but those were the best (most enjoyed by all). After lunch, naps (which didn’t actually happen, so let’s just call it a “rest” period) and dinner, we went back to the park for the Paint The Night parade and the Fireworks show, both of which kind of redeemed the whole day for me. Because they were AMAZING. We let the kids stay up and watch both of them, which was a little rough- but they were troopers. For their first full day at the park for the first time ever, they were EXHAUSTED by that point. But it’s vacation…bedtime shmedtime.

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Day 2 (California Adventure): Best day ever. We got in line early for the extra magic hour (and the lines weren’t nearly as long as they were at DP the day before), so we got in right at the start of it and went straight to Anna & Elsa. (I had planned out all of our stops in advance and knew exactly where they were in the park). There was hardly any line at all. We were maybe 3rd or 4th in line to meet them that day. Gwen was dressed as Elsa and she was SO excited but SO nervous. We walked into this royal room where they were meeting and greeting and there was a quiet “awe” sort of vibe in the room. Like the feeling you get when seeing a bride right after she puts on her wedding dress for the first time on her wedding day. That’s the best way I can describe it. Obviously, I know Anna and Elsa aren’t real, but Gwen doesn’t. And it was magical to her. And so it was magical for me (and Ivor). I may have teared-up a bit (and I wasn’t the only adult in the room who did ;-). Gwen was really shy but gave them her Frozen sticker book that she made for them to sign. They were so good with her (and Ivor Baby too- who took to Anna right away). We didn’t feel rushed. They took their time talking to her and taking pictures with us, etc. It was such a great way to start our day. I think that was the turning point moment for Gwen, and she really started getting into this whole “Disneyland” thing and wanted to go on rides and fully embrace all that the parks had to offer. The rest of the morning was just as wonderful. It wasn’t very crowded at all (compared to the other park) and we didn’t have to wait very long at all to go on all the rides we wanted to. Even the longest line (for the Toy Story ride) moved quickly. Also, we got to meet Olaf that morning too. We may have actually been the first ones to meet him that day, there was no line at all. Poor Olaf lol. Anyway, Gwen was actually a little afraid of him up close but Ivor Baby LOOOOOVED him. He was full of smiles and giggles 🙂 Definitely the highlight for him I think. We saw the Frozen Sing-A-Long show before, once again,  heading back to the hotel for lunch and “rest”, and I think I finally showered after several days (highlight for me). We came back later in the afternoon for the Pixar Play Parade, went on the carousel a few more times (Gwen preferred the one in this park because it was sea-themed with underwater sea creatures. She liked those better than the horses), checked out the Mad-T Party thing (cover band), then Ivor’s mom took Ivor Baby back to the hotel and the 3 of us (Gwen, Ivor and myself) headed to Cars Land, went on more rides, then waited around for the World of Color show, which was also INCREDIBLE. Then back to the hotel for Zzzz’s….

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To be Continued…. because this is getting way too long….

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BG3 (Fiona) Pregnancy Update!

We recently found out that little BG3 is a GIRL! Woohoo 🙂 It was fun watching her on the ultrasound. She was very active but not cooperative at times. The tech already saw the gender when she was doing her initial measurements and capturing the images, but when it came time to show mommy and daddy, baby was very modest…legs crossed, thighs closed lol….cause she’s a lady, after all. But we saw the girl parts eventually. We’re thrilled for another sweet little girl to join our family. Miss Fiona Joy Griffiths is her name 🙂

So, here’s the latest update (and if you missed the 1st one, you can read it here):

Due Date: July 23, 2016 (nothing’s changed here)

How Far Along: 19 Weeks

Next Appointment: March 10th

Gender: GIRL!

Total Weight Gain/Loss: About +10 lbs now (my appetite came back lol…and I’m lifting weights, so I’d like to think some of those lbs are from muscle)

Exercise: Yes! Now that I’m not miserable and puking all the time, I’ve started lifting weights with my husband, as I just mentioned. I’d like to start going for more walks too, especially now that the weather is getting nicer.

Stretch Marks: No

Swelling: No

Maternity Clothes: Yep, all the maternity clothes.

Belly Button: In, but changing shape a bit.

Sleep: What’s that? I have 2 toddlers.

Food Cravings: I can eat most things again which is wonderful. Still love my sweets and a good pizza. Newest craving though is Indian food.

Food Aversions: Still not a big fan of chicken, but depends on how it’s prepared. Last night the hubby made a pesto chicken pasta and that was wonderful. I can also eat chicken in Indian food (like butter chicken for example), but chicken noodle soup? No thanks.

Symptoms: Nausea/vomiting has subsided, but I’m still a crazy emotional mess, with acid reflux, fatigue, gas/bloating, various body aches, etc.

Movement: Yes! I’ve been feeling the occasional little kick and jab for the past 2-3 weeks or so 🙂

Labor Signs: Nope

What I Miss: The ability to sneeze without peeing myself a little.

What I’m Loving: Feeling the baby move

What I’m Looking Forward To: Her birth! Seeing what she looks like and what her little personality will be, how alike/different she’ll be from her big sister and brother, blue eyes or brown eyes, etc.

Best Moment This Week: Obviously finding out the gender and seeing her move all around on the ultrasound.

Words of Wisdom: You’d think after this long I would’ve learned my lesson about Googling things. After the ultrasound I was concerned about what I THOUGHT looked like a very low fluid level (amniotic fluid) despite not being told that by anyone. Some of the images on the ultrasound just looked like Fiona’s poor face was right up against the placenta with little to no fluid in there. So I Googled it….bad idea. Turns out, I’m just a crazy person and everything was totally normal. GOOGLE IS THE ENEMY when you’re a concerned parent. (Yes, I know my husband works there). Just don’t do it, friends. Until you’ve heard something from your own doctor, you are NOT the expert…and neither are the people of the Interwebs. That is all.

Until next time, here’s Fiona saying “Hello from the inside!”

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The big gender reveal for the kiddos (and everyone else when we posted it) 🙂

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