Monday, November 3, 2014

Race's Work Contest

Emma's already blasted this on Instagram and Facebook, but on the off chance you haven't already done it, help Emma and I win $500 from my company!

My company, Nifty Marketing, is doing a Halloween costume competition, and the winner gets $500. All you have to do is click the link above, look for the picture of us, and 'Vote' it up. The competition ends this Wednesday afternoon, so just do it really quickly right now. The competition is fierce, so every vote counts. The picture you're voting up is this one:

Nifty Marketing is an internet marketing company, so I spend a huge chunk of my day on the internet. If you've never seen the picture on top, you might think this is less awesome, but Irelyn's cuteness makes up for that, and then some. Anyways, we're just making fun of how darned awful Internet Explorer is compared to real browsers, like Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. It's a funny joke, if you spend all day on the Internet. We had a ridiculously good time making our costumes, building our set, and putting 'glue' (frosting) all over Irelyn's face. Holland would have joined in, but she was taking a nap. Also I think she would have been a little too vigorous with the frosting. 

When it came down to actual trick-or-treating though, we switched up our costumes. I went as the headless horseman (sans horse), and carried Irelyn as my 'head,' since she was dressed as an adorable pumpkin. We took an early Halloween-themed family walk, and there's this amazing field of trees and leaves a short walk from our apartment that we stumbled on here in Meridian. It's the most perfect 'Fall Weather' picture spot I've ever seen, and we had a great little family date playing in the leaves and having me pretend I had lost my pumpkin head. I'm not sure Irelyn got the joke, but it made for some memorable family pictures. Here's a little taste of that below. Happy Halloween! Don't forget to help us win the contest!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Magic of Mornings


I feel like there is something so special about morning time. The light is gorgeous in our apartment {one of my favorite things about being on the second floor}, everyone is happy to be awake and to see each other {usually}, and I just re-fall in love with my family and the wonderful role of "mother" that I get to take on for another day. It's a great way to start the day!

On this morning in particular Irelyn slept in so I got to cuddle with Holland for a little while and then we ate breakfast together. When Irelyn woke up Holland was so excited to be the first one to hear her. She rushed into their room to attempt to get Irelyn out, rushed back to me to announce that baby sister was awake, and then raced me back to the room and by the time I got there both girls were giggling and just so happy to see each other. Also, Race was home for a few minutes when the girls first woke up and they were so happy to see him and hang out with him for a few minutes. I felt truly blessed.

And a random side note (lest you all think every morning is magical):
The next morning was not wonderful and beautiful. Irelyn was up a lot during the night so I was exhausted and grumpy, Race was not able to be home helping out, Holland woke up really crabby and fought me about everything and threw a BUNCH of tantrums, all before 8 AM, and it might have even been cloudy outside just to top it all off. Haha. Often pictures, videos, blog posts, Instagram, etc. can make life look so perfect {and honestly this morning felt like a little piece of Heaven} but know that I have crazy mornings/days/moments too. I'm just not usually taking pictures when I'm feeling crabby {and the light is gloomy}! Haha. 


Friday, October 10, 2014

Remember How Blessed You Are.

Ever since Irelyn was a tiny baby she has done the sweetest thing. While nursing she periodically takes a break and just stares up at me. She patiently waits for me to stop whatever I am doing {usually messing around on my phone} and then just stares into my eyes for a while. Every time she does this I feel like she's saying to me, "Mommy, stop being distracted. Soak this moment in. I'm not going to be little for long. Touch my soft cheeks, memorize my tiny features, hold my chubby hands, remember how blessed you are." So that's exactly what I do. I am so blessed to have my two sweet girls in my life. They bring me so much joy and I can't imagine being happier than I am now. I am so grateful for this little reminder from Irelyn to pay attention and enjoy the little moments. And then she gouges my eyes out, grabs my glasses off my face and pinches my nose and I memorize these little moments too because someday I won't have a nursing baby scratching up my face and snuggling with me and I don't ever want to forget what a joy it is.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Dear Irelyn: Month Five

Dear Irelyn, 

You just turned five months old yesterday and I am already getting your five month post up! Shocking, I know! :] This is just such a fun age and I want to remember all of it! 

This month you have started to learn lots of new things. You had a couple of grumpy weeks and Mimo {Grandma Olmstead} said that she remembers her babies would get grumpy just before they learned something new. That turned out to be just the case of you! You were grumpy just before you learned how to grab your toes and then you were grumpy just before you learned how to sit up! You are not totally sitting up on your own yet but you can go for quite a while before you fall over. I just make sure you are always surrounded by pillows so you don't bonk your head. You decided to try this whole sitting up thing yesterday {on your five month birthday!} and then today you pretty much have it down for up to about twenty minutes at a time. We are all super impressed with your skills! You have rolled over a few times from your stomach to your back and just once from your back to your stomach {and I didn't even see it happening!!} but you are not all that interested in rolling over and you really aren't a fan of tummy time. We're not too concerned about it though since your big sister didn't roll over regularly until after she learned how to crawl! It has been so fun watching you learn these new things and you are definitely a happier baby once you add these tricks to your book! 

This month you went to the doctor for the first time. Haha. I didn't take Holland until she was three months old and then we barely got you in before your fifth month! Clearly, we're really good at going to the doctor. Hopefully from here on out we'll keep you on track though! You did great with the doctor and with getting shots. You fell asleep within about two minutes of nursing afterwards and even slept while I transferred you to your carseat for the drive home. It was shocking and such a relief! At the doctor we found out you weight 17 lbs. 3 oz. {85th percentile} and 24.5 inches {24th percentile}. I think you are going to be like Holland and just go down in the weight percentile from here on out though. We will see though! We sure are enjoying your chunkiness!!

Some other notables: 
-You have started doing this cooing/screaming sound and it is the funniest, cutest thing ever. It cracks your dad and I up every single time! 
-You still blow little spit bubbles all the time. 
-You are super good at holding onto your toys so you can chew on them. 
-You've decided you have no need for a binky anymore. Mostly I'm sure this is a nice thing {no weaning you from it later on} but I do miss it sometimes! 
-I figured out that I had been wearing our Ergo carrier wrong {I needed to move the back strap up} and ever since then you {and I} are so much more comfortable and happy in the Ergo. I have started using it a lot more and we are big fans! I used it at church yesterday and you even fell asleep in it {only for a few minutes though because then sacrament meeting got out and it was loud--sad!}!
-I have started putting you down for naps without nursing and the first couple of times you weren't a fan but you've been doing great the past few days! I am attempting to get you on a little bit of a better schedule and since we started doing naps without nursing you have started sleeping longer in the night. I'm not sure if they're related but they happened around the same time. It works for me! 

You are such a sweet, beautiful little girl and we love glimpsing more of your personality as you learn to do new things. We are so happy to have you in our family! 

Mom, Dad, & Holland

Falling over

Sitting skills! 

The cutest chunky profile. 

Gorgeous blue eyes. 

More sitting and some spitting of course!

Goodness I just love this little girl of mine! I am the luckiest!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

On Memory Keeping:

I keep starting these blog posts about memory keeping and how important I think it is but I haven't figured out quite what I want to say on that yet. So I just decided I am going to start writing about some of the different ways I record memories for myself and my family. No fancy introduction needed!

Today I am going to write about an awesome site called {which I have actually blogged about before--you can read that post here if you're interested}. I just got back into using this site over the past couple of months and it is a great way to keep a daily journal.

Here are some of the cool features of

-You get badges for little accomplishments {like writing so many days in a row, writing at certain times of the day, and stuff like that--see picture below} and you get points for writing each day. As silly as these little things may seem they really can be great motivators!
-You can join a monthly challenge where you set a goal to write every day for the month. I just joined one for October {wish me luck!}. You set a reward and a punishment for yourself {if you want} and if you complete the challenge your name goes on the Wall of Amazingness and if you miss a day your name goes on the Wall of Shame until you do complete the challenge. If you know you are going to be away for a day or something you are able to schedule that into your challenge as well. Just make sure to do it before the day actually happens!
-It really only takes 10-15 minutes to write 750 words which just isn't that much of your day. And even if you don't write all 750 words it is still great to write a little something every day.
-You can export all of your journal entries so that you can print them and put them into an actual, tangible journal.
-It analyzes your writing for you which is really fun. See examples below:

{It also shows you which words you used the most in your writing but if I showed you that you would basically be reading my journal entry! Haha. Anyway, that's another fun feature it has!}

This is a great journaling site that will help you unload your thoughts after a long day and it is great to be able to look back at your entries when you are trying to scrapbook older photos and want to remember what happened on a certain day. You just have to make sure to write regularly!!


I will be continuing this mini series "On Memory Keeping" by talking about some of the other ways I record things for myself and my family so look forward to posts on some of these other fun ways to record your memories:

-ProjectLife App
-Gratitude Journal
-Plain Old Notebook
-Home Videos
-Project 365 App
-Instagram/Facebook {social media}
-Printed Photo Books {Shutterfly, Blurb, Snapfish, etc.}

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Dear Irelyn: Months Three and Four

Dearest Irelyn,

My blog has been a little bit Holland-centric lately so I wanted write you a little note about how grateful we are to have you as part of our family {And to catch up on your bi-monthly posts since I'm behind on those!}!

Irelyn-girl, a lot of the nicknames we have for you are recycled nicknames. They are just ones that we'll probably use on all of our babies just because you can't help it. Names like chunk-a-monk just fit with lots of babies. But a couple of names we never used with Holland are: sweet pea, sweetheart, sweet girl, etc. Holland is definitely sweet {now--haha} but I guess during the first few months of her life that is just not the first word that came to our minds to describe her {see Holland's one month and two month posts to see some of her nicknames!}. Anyway, I'm not here to bag on your big sister because we love her so stinkin' much {and she was super fun in lots of other ways} but just to say that we love your sweet nature and are so grateful for the peace and love you bring to our home with your calm, mellow demeanor.

Your third and fourth months have been so much fun. It is such a joy to watch you grow and learn new things!

Here are some highlights from the past couple of months:

-You have been spitting bubbles like crazy! I don't remember this stage with Holland {although I'm sure it happened--maybe??} but it is so cute and fun! Whenever you are bored you just entertain yourself by spitting. It's pretty hilarious to watch!
-You have also started "talking"/cooing a lot more. So much in fact that the other day Holland thought you said "yellow" and then proceeded to say "Don't say yellow baby sister!" Apparently the word yellow is a little offensive. Haha.
-You stick your tongue out all the time and let me just tell you, you have a dang cute tongue! I didn't even know tongues could be so cute!
-You LOVE it when people talk to you/around you. Whenever I am having a conversation with someone you are convinced they are talking to you and you just grin like it is the best thing ever! A few Sundays ago you were convinced the Sunday School teacher was talking JUST to you and you smiled at him for a good fifteen minutes. I guess I need to sit in the front row more often!
-You have started giggling at your big sister so much more! Witnessing the two of you interact is one of the best things ever! I am grateful you like your big sister even though she is constantly smothering you in hugs and kisses.
-You chew on EVERYTHING! I do remember this stage with Holland. So. Much. Slobber! Good thing you can pull off the drool face super well!
-You have started bathing with your big sister while in the Bumbo {instead of showering with me} and you seem to enjoy it a bit more. Like, I mentioned, Holland is your constant entertainment so being in close quarters with her is definitely fun for you!
-You are definitely getting your own look as you get older. The first couple of months you looked quite a bit like your sister but you are looking less and less like her. I think the family consensus is that maybe you have the Olmstead eyes/eyebrows? I have the hardest time seeing these things but you are definitely looking different than your big sister!

I should also probably write about some of the not-so-exciting stuff just so I can remember later on:
-You don't sleep through the night yet but that's probably because I spoil you and just let you half-nurse, half-sleep the second half of the night. It's easier for me to sleep and I just love to snuggle with you.
-You are, however, a GREAT napper. You usually take two to three naps a day unless I mess with your schedule by leaving the house. But even if I do that you make up for the lack of one nap with a ridiculously long afternoon/evening nap. It's pretty awesome.
-You have always been a great at nursing for which I am so grateful! You and Holland both never had any problems nursing {knock on wood for my future children!} and while I have never had an oversupply of milk I definitely never have to worry about supply since you have both been so stinkin' chunky!
-Oooh you do have more hair than Holland had! Which has me so excited even though you are still basically a little baldie! Haha. Anyway, I love your tiny wisps of hair that blow in the wind!

Some Stats:
3 months- 15.5 lbs.
4 months- 16.7 lbs.

We love you sweet girl! You are growing up much too fast--of course--and we are just trying to soak  everything in before you are walking and talking like your big sister!

Mom {&Dad}
Three Months

Four Months

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Chatting with Holland {Part 2: Featuring Cousin Madison}

We have Holland's cousin Madison visiting us for the week while her parents pack and move all week long. Every day is filled with a whole lot of fun and a whole lot of crazy. I have been enjoying listening to the girls chat during meals and stuff. Most of the stuff they say makes absolutely no sense! And half the time I'm not even sure if I'm hearing them right. Anyway, I've been trying to record some of their conversations throughout the day and I thought I would put some of them up on the blog for everyone to enjoy!

The following conversations were from this afternoon within a ten minute period: 

H: Got this for my paint nails. {Talking about a spatula}
M: It's for my paint nails.
H: This one got for my paint nails. L-M-O-P Okay I need color. {Holland likes to go off on random tangents spouting parts of the alphabet}
M: Hey! You color my finger nails!

M: This is my finger! This one is for my toes.
H: It's for my toes. Okay...
M: Don't hold this! Okay?
H: K... my knee! My knee! It's my knee right here!
M: Got it.

M: You use it first. I use that one!
H: I'm using that one!
And...the fighting commences. Haha.

H: You can't take these away!
M: You have to share!
H: There's lots of books!
M: I don't want them. I don't like 'em.
H: You don't like them? Also, you can get down.
M: No, you can't get down.
H: You like this one?
M: No I don't like books
H: You like birdie?
M: No, I don't want them.
H: I can read you book?
M: No I don't want them.
H: This one's about a birdie. Come by me.
M: No I don't want to come by you.

{Holland just happened to be the peacemaker this time around...kinda. She wouldn't share in the first place and then she decided she could share her books but only by "reading them" to Madison. Haha. Madison wasn't having any of that! The girls seem to take turns being the peacemakers. They are both really sweet just also really stubborn and a little bossy towards each other!}

From breakfast on Sunday morning {and the rest of the conversations are all from Sunday}: 

H: She don't have any pants! 
M: Yeah 
H: It's a very hard day 
M: It's a happy day! 
H: I don't have any ideas! 
M: Clothes? 
H: No...

H: Ow! 
M: Did you poke yourself? 
H: Ya 
*Giggles from both girls* 

M: I have to burp again...see? 
H: Woah! It's getting to fall! 
M: It's getting to fall! You catch it! 
H: I did it! 
M: Ew! That's disgusting! 

M: Look at that spill! 
H: What? 
M: Oh! Don't touch it! Did you make a mess on your cereal? 
H: No! 
M: What? 
H: I need to feed that birdie! {Talking about the birds outside} 
M: No! That's the blinds! *giggles*{Pointing out the blinds on the window...I guess thinking Holland thought they were a bird??} 
H: I eat cereal! 
*Giggles from both the girls that scare Irelyn so she starts crying** {She was sitting in the bumbo on the table while the girls ate breakfast and chatted} 
H&M: I'm so sorry! Shh! Shh! Shh! 
H: Baby sister is so crabby mommy! She's coughing! 

M: You're drinking your milk! Why would you bite your spoon? 
*Silly noises from both girls* 
M: I burped! 
H: I burp too! 
M: Ewww! That's disgusting! 
H: Ewww! That's isgusting! 
M: That's isgusting! Is that your hair? 
H: Yeah. 
M: You got it on your head? 
H: You can't go on my head! You can't go on my *BURP* 
M: You burped! 

All finished with breakfast and just playing around the house: 

H: I need this pillow! 
M: Ahh, nahh, I need another pillow! 
*Giggles from both girls while sitting on the couch** 
H: Jump! 
M: No jumping on the couch! {Apparently some of the things we say least some of the time!}
H: I need to jump on the bed-y!
M: This is a couch! 
H: This is not a couch! 

H: I'm not the queen! I'm Elsa! 
M: You Anna! {Of course they talk about Frozen all the time...what kind of two- and three-year-olds would they be if they didn't?!} 

H: You puppy Madison? You puppy? 
M: You have my puppy?! 

Post-nap snack conversation: 

M: I burped! Excuse me! Ah Ah Ahchoo! Excuse me! {This whole sequence was repeated about twenty more times! Haha} 

M: Is that yummy?! 
H: Mmmmhmmm!
M: I don't like it! 
H: Okay.
M: Did you say that?! 

M: Is that chocolate milk? It smells like milk! 
H: I have milk too! 
M: Just like chocolate milk! 
H: Chocolate milk like me! 
M: I don't have any chocolate milk. 
H: I don't have choc. milk. 
M: Are you eating chocolate milk? Or drinking it? Chocolate milk? Let me see! 
*Toots. Giggles* 
M: I tooted! 
{Neither one of the girls had chocolate milk. I guess it was just wishful thinking. Haha.} 

M: Hi little baby! 
H: Hi little baby! 
M: Peek-a-boo! 
H: Peek-boo! 
M: Listen to my baby ever! 
H: She wanna say hi to me! 
M: Peek-a-boo! 
H: She's saying hi to me! 
M: Peek-a-boo! 
H: Peek-boo! 
M: You're so cute!
{This was all a conversation with Irelyn}  

It might be a lot of work having all three girls around but they sure are great entertainment when I take the time to just listen to them talk. It's like getting a little glimpse into what they think about/how they think. 

And here are the cute faces of those silly conversations 
{along with Irelyn since I just can't leave her adorable face out}! 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Chatting with Holland {Prequel}

So I just wrote this post about Holland's talking nowadays but I wanted to do a little prequel to all of her talking posts to write a little bit about when she started talking and all of that fun stuff. Just for memories' sake! {The pictures are to show how much she has changed over the last year or so!}

June 2013 {just barely learning how to walk}

Holland's first words were "mama" and "dada". In no particular order...of course! And I actually can't find the dates of when she said both of these though so whoops on that one! But those were definitely her first two words. After those she learned "no" in the end of June 2013 followed by "dog" and "wow" {July 2013}. For a while those were her only few words other than signing a couple of things {"more" "all done" "eat"}. Then towards the end of October and into November she just started talking a bunch more. By the end of November {about 14 months old} she had 25-35 words that she said on a regular basis and she could also point to a bunch of her body parts {belly/belly button, toes, head, nose, tongue, ears, eyes, mouth, teeth, hair, fingers, knees, cheeks}, and she knew how to do some fun gestures {high fives, kisses, more, please, eat, bump it, blow kisses, wave}.

November 2013

Towards the end of January {2014} Race and I wrote down all of the words Holland could say one night and we ended up with over TWO HUNDRED words! It was crazy! A few of them we asked her to say but most of them were words she used on a regular basis.

February 2014

We have enjoyed Holland's talking so much over the past year. Every time she learns a new word or the correct way to phrase something it is so exciting but also a little bit sad! It is just a constant reminder that she is growing up so fast! I'm trying to write it all down so I never forget this fun phase!

September 2014

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Chatting with Holland {Part One}

Holland has been talking for a LONG time and I have yet to document it on the blog! Recently she has gotten even more entertaining and I've been writing some of the adorable and funny things she says down and I just wanted to compile them somewhere so that they're all together instead of jotted on whiteboards, chalkboards, in my phone, in notebooks, and just all over the house. So here are some of the funny things my sweet two year old is saying these days!

{E: Emma, H: Holland, M: Madison--Holland's cousin}

Some examples of Holland being the absolute sweetest: 

H: I always love you so much! I can hug you!

H: Hey mommy? You wanna hold me super bad?

H: You being a princess mommy. Like soooo princess. {As she brushes my [super greasy] hair}

H: Hold me closer!

H: I wanna hold you closer.

H: I got you so closer! {As she is holding me or Irelyn or Race}

Some "phone conversations" Holland has had. {With herself on her fake cell phone}

H: Hi Granddad! It's good to see you! I touched the water today for like....three hours! Hi! It's good to see you! {We had gone to the aquarium that day}

H: Hello daddy! It's good to see you daddy! I text my daddy! It's my daddy calling me?

H: Hi daddy! It's good to see you! I talkin' to my granddad!

Loving on her baby sister: 

H: She's done eating! Poke poke! *Kiss* {She actually said poke and didn't poke Irelyn but she did kiss her}

H: She wanna hold me so closer?

H: {While holding Irelyn's feet and making them "run"} Run! Run! Run! Run! Run! Run! Squeeeeeeze the poops out! Squeeeeeeze the poops out! {Irelyn used to poop EVERY time I changed her diaper so I used to say this to Irelyn while I held her legs against her tummy to make sure everything was out. Haha. Apparently Holland remembers that and decided to copy it recently! It cracks me up!}

H: {I don't know if this one exactly qualifies as loving on Irelyn...Irelyn was crying and this is how Holland responded} Shh shhh... It's okay baby sister! You're gonna be okay! {A little pause and then...} HUSH THE GUB BABY SISTER! HUSH THE GUB! {This is a phrase Race uses on the girls. Haha. It was so funny to see Holland respond just like me and then just like Race!}

And some randoms: 

H: I have my two heavy girls! {While carrying dolls around. I have said this about Holland and Irelyn a few times while carrying them down the stairs at our apartment complex. Haha. She picked up on it pretty fast and says it about her dolls all the time now!}

E: Are those fruit loops?
H: FART loops??

H: I cried in blanket and then in bedroom. {Talking about nap time--it's hard stuff!}

H: I just spank my bum!

E: Do you know what color that is?
H: ....
E: It's purple.
H: Oooh that's so silly!
{A lot of things are "so silly" to Holland}

H: You gonna eat all the pananas {bananas} all gone? Awww that's so sad! {She randomly started calling them pananas after calling them bananas in the past. Random, but it's so dang cute!}

H: Look at your pants! They're mine! I match like you! I have pants! It matches just like mine...or yours! {Holland noticing for the first time all day that her and Madison are wearing matching pants...this was after nap it had been a while!}

I love this girl of mine so much! She brings so much joy to our home every single day and she is a dang smarty pants! There will probably be more of these posts to come as I'm sure the things she says will just get more and more amusing over the next few years!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

We Moved.

We moved for the seventh time in our four years of marriage last month {August 10th}. You would think that we would be pros at the whole moving thing by now but we're not. It's stressful and crazy every. single. time. This was our smoothest move to date though! We had family, friends, and soooo many people from both our old ward and our new ward come to help us load and unload all of our stuff. We felt so blessed to have so much help!

Over the last month I've gotten everything unpacked and have kind of started decorating things. It's a work in progress of course but this is the fastest I've ever unpacked before so I'm feeling pretty good! It usually takes me a good six months to get the final few boxes unpacked and then another six months to a year to get the house decorated. This time I was unpacked in under a month and we're about halfway done with decorating. Woot! Woot!  I guess it has helped that I'm not pregnant/have a brand new baby {We moved two times while I was pregnant with Holland and then again less than a month after her birth--ridiculous!}. I just wanted to post a few pictures of our new place. It's nothing fancy but we are really loving our new apartment and making it feel like home!

I have a couple more decorating projects I want to get done but I am trying to make a trip down to IKEA first so it might be a while before things are finished. I'll post more pictures whenever that actually happens though!

In the girls' room. {Pallet bookshelves made by Patrick and Tyne}

Living room. {Cubbies made by Race, banner from Nikki}

Kitchen {ASHBY est. 2010 sign made by Amy Gregson of My 3 Monsters, whiteboard from IKEA years ago, chalkboard from a friend's wedding, tin buckets from Target}.

Aprons made by my mom, aunt, and grandma. {We LOVE these aprons for art projects and eating and just wearing around the house!}

I spent a good hour+ decorating our fridge with contact paper one of the first nights after we moved in. Race got a good laugh out of the fact that I got so distracted by this pretty, but definitely not top priority, project. He was super nice about it and helped me finish it up and I love it! I'm thinking of switching it out for some chalkboard contact paper but we shall see. I'm enjoying the bright green! {Crate from Michael's, white basket from Target $1 section, contact paper from WalMart}

We only have two drawers in our whole kitchen {ridiculous!} so these 
little containers are our new "junk drawers"! 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Sunday Family Photos 08.17.2014

These are from the first Sunday in our new ward {We moved about a month ago--I don't think I've written about that yet}.

We are loving our new apartment and the ward we moved into. Holland hasn't cried once going to nursery {!!/Knock on wood} and we are already making some new friends! We haven't always been super great at being involved in some of our previous wards and are trying to make a better effort this time around. We haven't missed a Sunday yet so that's a good start!

I really like trying to match everyone on Sundays and today I felt like it worked out particularly well so of course we had to take pictures! Holland was not in the mood at first but as soon as she knew she could show off her new cupcake toys {thanks Aunt Tyne!} she was fine.

I sure do love this family of mine!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Iris' Birth Story

Today I am so excited to be sharing my niece's birth story on the blog. Iris was born just three days after Irelyn and my sister Helena and I are just loving having babies so close together. To read more about that you can go here but for now enjoy this beautiful birth story!


To my sweet sweet Iris,

I have always loved hearing the story of my birth, over and over again (even though I caused my mother lots and lots of pain!) so I want to write down your birth story for you to read someday, and also as a way for me to remember everything that made it such a hard but miraculous experience. 

Your due date was April 19th, the Saturday before Easter. The week before I'd had a few nights of Braxton Hicks for a few hours, and my lower back would ache, but your due date came and went with no sign of your coming. Dad and I spent the day at Ma and Pa's with his family to celebrate Easter. I had expected all along for you to be late, so I wasn't too disappointed.

Right around midnight the Wednesday after your due date I started feeling very mild contractions, usually about 5 minutes apart. This was more regular than anything before, so I suspected it was the real thing, but still didn't believe it yet or want to get my hopes up. I woke up my mom to let her know something was happening, and an hour or so later contacted your Gramma Cluff to let her know they were good to head down from Springerville- it looked like you were coming! By 2 am contractions were closer together, but a little shorter. When I wasn't in the bathtub (listening to Benjamin Francis Leftwich) I mostly rocked in my rocking chair, breathing through contractions. By 3 am contractions were strong enough I could talk through them but didn't want to, and the back labor had gotten much worse. Between my legs would ache and shake (the same way I remember them shaking when I went to the dentist when I was younger. So I guess just a nerves thing.) By 5 am my contractions had been consistently 2 minutes apart for a while, although still shorter than in the beginning. We gathered up last-minute things for our hospital bag and headed to the hospital. The whole drive there we listened to “All at Once” by Jack Johnson on repeat, a song that I have always thought is very soothing and relaxing.

At 5:45 in triage they checked me and I was at 4 cm. They suggested I walk the halls for an hour to get me dilated further. It took the whole hour pretty much for my mom and I to walk down the hall and back. I would only get past two doors between contractions, and then I'd have to stop, lean my head against the wall, and sway and breathe through the contraction. Mom would also put pressure on my lower back throughout each contraction to help with the intense back pain. At 7:50 they checked me again- I was at 4.5 cm, you were beginning to move down, and my water was bulging right at the edge of my cervix but had yet to break. They suggested I walk for another hour, and at that point if things hadn't progressed further they would have to send me home. At this point your dad came back in to triage (they'd said at first that only one person could be in there with me), and I spent the next hour sitting on a birthing ball and leaning over the side of the bed, with Mimo and Dad constantly putting pressure on my back, and rubbing my legs to help with the aching and shaking. I didn't feel like my legs could have taken much more walking. At about 9:30 they checked me again, and I (thankfully!) was between 5 and 6 cm dilated. They started me on a round of antibiotics for Group B Strep and I was officially admitted! I remember feeling so relieved that things had progressed enough for them to not send me home. I did NOT want to get back in the car.

At some point they moved me to a delivery room, and I think I spent the next few hours mostly lying on my side on the bed. (My ability to measure the passing of time accurately during labor was a bit skewed, thankfully.) I think I was urged multiple times to labor in more vertical positions, to help you move down, so two or three times I labored in the shower with Dad for a bit, but didn't ever last very long because my legs were exhausted. Over the next few hours I just focused on breathing through increasingly strong contractions, and trying to rest in the two minutes between. At some point your Gramma Cluff arrived (with your aunts Karra, Evie, and Jessie) and joined Dad and Mimo in rubbing my legs and back and giving me verbal encouragement. I don't know what time, but eventually they checked me and I had reached 8 cm. That meant we were getting closer! But also meant time for the most painful contractions as you were making your final descent down the birth canal. After 2 or 3 hours of very intense contractions along with very painful back labor, a part of me wanted to give up. My eyes would water and I wanted to look up at my mom and tell her I couldn't do it anymore. I continued enduring contraction after contraction though, and finally decided to try a technique your aunt Emma had used three days before during her labor with Irelyn, after learning you were posterior (which they had known all along but never told me? Probably a good thing because I think that would have made me worry and made it harder to stay focused). The technique (abdominal lift and tucks) would help get you facing the right direction, which would move things along and relieve most of the back pain.

Dad stood behind me and did the lift and tucks for me (I admittedly was too scared to, knowing it would make contractions even more uncomfortable), while I applied pressure to my back. After a few lift and tucks I began feeling an intense (super super intense) need to go to the bathroom with each contraction. In hindsight I realized this was feeling the urge to push, but at the time I remember just saying, "I HAVE to go to the bathroom. Get me to the bathroom" and thinking they were the most awful contractions yet. As soon as I sat down on the toilet my water broke, and probably 2 or 3 minutes later I was on the bed pushing! It was one of the best feelings I'd yet experienced, knowing very very soon I would be meeting you, my sweet baby girl. 

You were born less than 15 minutes after I started pushing. Those 15 minutes were a blur. I don't remember much, but I almost right away I was told your heart rate had dropped. We needed to get you out as quickly as possible. I think after a few rounds of pushing you were crowning but weren't coming out any further. My midwife gave me an episiotomy, and you were out within seconds. Mimo says you were born with your fist by your cheek, and it looked like the cord was pinched under your arm, explaining your heart rate. I didn't get to hold you right away because you were not yet breathing, but within a minute you were breathing on your own and doing just fine. In retrospect, I realize that I could have/should have been a lot more scared and worried those last few minutes of delivery, but all I remember is feeling calm and knowing everything would be okay. I am very thankful I was able to feel that peace, because I know it wouldn't have helped any for me to freak out. I also remember feeling extremely relieved that you were here and healthy, immensely grateful for your dad and grandmas for helping me through labor, and especially thankful for our Heavenly Father. Being able to give birth to you naturally was an answer to months of prayers, and I felt the Spirit so strongly at your birth. I had never felt so close to heaven. 

After about 10 or 15 minutes (I think?) they brought you over to me to hold, and you cried and cried and cried. I have no idea how long I held you for, but at some point you went back to Dad and other family, while I stayed on my back waiting for my  placenta to come out. We waited for about a half hour with nothing happening, so they started me on Pitocin. A half hour later the placenta still hadn't detached. Because of the risk of hemorrhaging , we couldn't wait much longer for it to detach on its own. They gave me Stadol so I wouldn't feel anything and had the doctor manually detach my placenta. The pain killers made me very loopy, and although it didn't hurt I could still feel pressure and movement, which was really uncomfortable. I remember thinking it was worse than labor, although it definitely was not.

There are a dozen other things I could write about, but most of all I hope you know your birth was a special day for so many people, and you are surrounded by family that loves you very very much :)

Your Momma

Dad helping me do the lift and tucks. This was probably less than 20 minutes before you were born.

Getting cleaned up and measured.
Weight: 6 lb. 6 oz. Height: 19.5 in.

Our first family picture.

You and Gramma Cluff. 

You with your Aunt Evie. I think she may have been the first person to hold you.

You and your Mimo.

One more from the hospital.

And my most recent picture of you- almost 3 months old!