My bedroom is dimly lit. The windows are open and the ceiling fan circulates the cool June breeze. It’s 4 a.m. and I’m listening to an audiobook while sitting on the big gray chair in my bedroom feeding Amber. I can see John peacefully asleep in our bed. My parents are asleep in the bedroom next door. They arrived late last night, and I know my kids will be eager to see them in the morning when they wake up. For right now, the house is totally still, and the kiddos are all sleeping peacefully.
While I’m going on nearly six weeks of interrupted-newborn-mom-sleep (and sometimes that’s really hard for me), I’m so grateful for these simple moments. I’m grateful I’m alive and physically able to care for my newborn baby. I’m grateful she’s alive and weaving herself deeper into our family tapestry as each day goes by. I’m grateful for our home and that’s there’s food in the pantry and refrigerator downstairs. I grateful for simple moments that I often take for granted, and I’m grateful this newborn-mom-life forces me to slow down and take in these quiet, simple moments that I know will pass quickly in retrospect.
We recently welcomed baby #4 to our family. Baby Amber has evened the score – we now have two boys and two girls.
I developed high blood pressure during this pregnancy (something that had not happened in any of my prior pregnancies). This meant that I was induced at 37 weeks just in case the high blood pressure turned into something more severe.
Because of how quickly Drew was born, I was actually very thankful to be induced. My prayer this pregnancy had been that we’d make it to the hospital in time for the baby to be born. We live 45 minutes from the hospital and Drew had been born just minutes after we arrived. So, in an odd way, I was thankful for the high blood pressure since it provided an opportunity for an induction.
Because my previous labors had gone so quickly, I figured this one would too. But I was wrong. This little girl took her sweet time. The nurse put me on Pitocin around 9 a.m. John and I watched a movie and I finished a book I had been reading. The medical staff increased the Pitocin amount many times (all the way up to a 20) before I started feeling contractions. Once I started feeling some contractions, I asked for an epidural and life was good. I wasn’t in pain and the doctor decided around 4 p.m. to break my water to hopefully speed things up.
Shortly after breaking my water, Amber’s heart rate dropped. The nurses said sometimes a baby’s heart rate drops as they go down the birth canal. However, this was not the case with Amber. When the nurse came to check how far dilated I was, she realized that Amber had a prolapsed cord, which meant we needed to have an emergency c-section. I could tell the situation was not good because the senior nurse who had been so calm and relaxed all day was stuttering as she called out orders to the other nurses.
Poor John had gone to the restroom (which was in our labor and delivery room) right before the nurses came to check my status. When he came out of the restroom, I was being whisked away, and he was quickly briefed on the situation and then left alone not knowing exactly what was going on and if I or Amber were in danger.
Thankfully my epidural was still functioning, which meant they didn’t have to put me under fully for the surgery, and I was able to remain awake for Amber’s birth. John was permitted in the operating room, which wouldn’t have been the case if they put me fully under (I’m not sure why that’s the policy). Right as Amber was being pulled out, a nurse escorted John into the room. Thankfully, Amber let out a big wail of a cry when she was born and she was healthy. Amber was my tiniest baby, weighing 5 pounds 13 ounces.
The doctors and nurses who helped with the c-section were all amazing. One nurse took our camera and snapped pictures of Amber after she was born. My anesthesiologist was so kind, calm, and engaging. He talked to me the whole time. One challenge I faced during surgery was feeling like I couldn’t take a deep breath. Apparently my epidural had been placed a bit high and created the sensation of feeling like I could not breathe easily, even though my oxygen levels were totally normal. This sensation was probably the hardest part physically of the c-section experience for me. The anesthesiologist talked me through it and I was so thankful for him.
For the first hour of Amber’s life, she bonded with John while I was in the operating room. It was such a welcomed sight to see them together when I was wheeled into recovery.
This experience was so different than my previous three deliveries. The hospital experience started out in a very boring fashion since it took hours for my contractions to kick in. And the day ended very dramatically with a distressed baby and emergency operation.
Even though things did not go as anticipated, I saw God’s hand in so many different ways that day (like being able to remain awake for Amber’s birth).
The recovery has been much longer and harder than any of my previous births. I just recently received the all clear to be able to pick up Drew. I was not supposed to pick up anything heavier than Amber as I recovered. Thankfully my mother-in-law stayed with us for over three weeks after Amber’s birth.
Life with four kids has been an adventure. This past week our whole family except Amber came down with a virus that wiped most of us out for days. Thankfully we’re all feeling much better.
So far Amber has been an angel baby. She sleeps and eats like a champ. She doesn’t cry very often and when she does, she is calmed fairly easily. We are all so grateful she’s here!
David gave his first talk in primary (Sunday school for children ages 4-11). He did a great job. His talk was on the Sabbath Day. My favorite part was how he began by joyfully saying, “Good morning, everyone!”
David is learning and growing at a rapid pace. I’m consistently surprised by the things he remembers. We’ve been studying the Old Testament this year and for the first time, it seems like his beginning to remember scripture stories. I’m grateful I get to be his mom.
John decided to take the older two kids camping, so it was just me and Drew home tonight. I decided to take him to run a few errands because going into stores with one kid is way easier than going in with three kids. We had fun shopping together. He just sat in the cart and smiled and giggled at me. Drew is at such a cute, cute stage. He loves to put blankets over his head and play peek-a-boo, clap his hands, wave high, and bounce to music. It’s crazy to think that in a matter of weeks he won’t be the baby of our family. He still isn’t walking fully yet. He can walk, but he definitely prefers crawling. I’ve loved watching him learn to walk. At first, he would only take a few steps when no one was watching, but now he proudly walks and loves the attention he gets from all of us when he takes a few steps.
Brooke has been looking forward to her birthday ever since we celebrated Drew’s birthday in January.
She is a girl with a lot of personality. She loves to laugh and make others laugh. She has the best smile, although it’s almost impossible to get her to smile when I’m trying to take a picture. Below are facts about 3-year-old Brooke.
– She is full of energy. She rarely naps in the afternoon anymore, and even though her bedtime is 7 p.m., she often stays awake in her room until 8:30 p.m. or so.
– She loves all things baby shark.
– Her favorite book series is “Little Blue Truck.”
– Her favorite food is chicken nuggets. She loves pretty much all fruit, especially grapes and berries. She recently discovered she also loves sliced bell peppers.
– She is quick to apologize.
– Purple is her favorite color.
– Adventurous and curious are both accurate descriptions of her.
– She often wants to “help” in the kitchen. When she sees me preparing lunch or dinner, she’ll run and grab a stool to stand on and say “I help you?”
Brooke’s birthday began with donuts and presents. The kids played with her new toys in the morning. I took Brooke and David to get McDonalds for lunch. Then Brooke and I went to get our nails done. When we came home, we popped popcorn and watched Encanto. We then headed to Cracker Barrel for a celebratory dinner and came home to have birthday cake. It was a fun-filled day! On Sunday, we had a birthday dinner party for Brooke and my sister, who’s birthday is three days prior to Brooke’s.
Last year, I think I wrote about Christmas in July, so I’m ahead of the game this year, even though Christmas was nearly two months ago ha.
We were able to see both sides of our extended family this Christmas season. My parents came out to Virginia (my brother living in Virginia had his first child, whom my parents were eager to meet). We were able to spend time with them before and after our trip to Iowa for Christmas (we spend every other Christmas in Iowa with John’s family).
Spending time with both sides of our family meant our kids had many present opening opportunities, which they loved. We did our immediate family Christmas gift exchange the day before my parents arrived. (On the years we go to Iowa, we open our immediate family presents before we head out of town. Only Santa presents make the trek to Iowa.) Having three kids ages four and under at Christmas makes it magical! One of the presents we got David I wasn’t sure if he would like (they were tinker toys) but they ended up being his favorite toy. He has such an engineering focused mind. I had fun taking Brooke and David individually to pick out presents for each other. It was adorable to see what they picked and fun to watch them open those specific presents. Both Brooke and David are so appreciative of their gifts. Brooke says “thank you so much” in the sweetest and most sincere tone. Drew is still a little too young to really understand what’s going on.
Highlights of the time we spent with my side of the family include: Shopping on Main Street in Luray (they have such cute shops!), hiking in Shenandoah State Park, visiting DC to see the National Christmas Tree, meeting baby Will (the first cousin for our kids!), and a pre-Christmas dinner and white elephant gift exchange with my aunt, uncles, and cousins, who also live in Virginia.
Highlights of our time in Iowa include: Going for walks, playing at parks, Christmas Eve gift exchange and Christmas Day dinner with John’s extended family, and playing games.
Below are photos from the Christmas season.
One aspect of the Christmas season I loved was being able to read my scriptures each morning with the Christmas lights glowing inside our house. I took this photo one morning to remember how meaningful that was for me. I made a concerted effort to read my scriptures each morning (versus reading them at the end of the day when I’m exhausted). It has made such a difference in centering me and enabling me to feel closer to God.
For the last few years, the LDS Temple in Kensington, Maryland near Washington D.C. has been closed for renovations. In August 2022, the Temple will be rededicated, and we will once again be able to worship there. But before the rededication, this temple will be open to ALL people (regardless of religious affiliation) to come and tour and learn more about what happens in temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Tours will begin on April 28. You don’t need a ticket, you can just show up any day (except Sunday) between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. Parking is limited and you can register for a free parking pass at dctemple.org. You could also park nearby and uber if you can’t get a pass on the day you’d like to go.
This is the temple where John and I were married. It’s a special and sacred place to me, and it’s literally one of my favorite places on earth where I can go and feel peace and feel God’s love.
Earlier this month, Drew hit the one-year mark. Even though Drew is my third, it’s still crazy to me how much a baby grows in their first year of life.
He went from this:
He’s been such a delightful, social, happy baby. My parents visited recently, and my dad commented that he didn’t hear Drew cry once. Drew’s typical demeanor is always happy. Teething has been the thing that’s caused him the most tears (generally in the middle of the night when he wakes up in pain).
We had two celebrations for Drew. The first was on his actual birthday with just our immediate family. His birthday fell on a week day and I was sick. So his actual birthday was pretty low key. I made him a lemon box cake because that was the only thing I had, and I didn’t want to run to the store because I wasn’t sure if I had COVID. Thankfully my COVID test came back negative the next day. The second celebration was this past Sunday with my sister, brother/sister-in-law (and their cute baby Will, Drew’s first cousin), our friend Keri, and John’s uncle David.
Below are facts about one-year-old Drew.
– He is the BEST eater. He is not picky at all. He eats anything I make. His food is generally loaded with vegetables and he eats them like a champ (while my others kids say “it’s yucky”).
– He loves being around people, especially his siblings. Sometimes he will cry at night when we put him down because he wants to keep hanging out.
– He is a speedy crawler.
– He likes to pull himself up and stand.
– He loves bath time. He likes to splash and chew on his bath toys.
– He has seven teeth. Four on top and three on the bottom.
– He likes to hear himself talk.
– He has a hearty laugh when he is tickled.
– He likes to tackle his siblings if they’re laying on the floor.
– He really likes his pacifier, which we’re in the process of weaning him from. He only uses it when he sleeps but the second we put him in his crib, he looks for his pacifier and plops it in his mouth.
We are so grateful for the joy and light he’s brought this past year into our lives!
In the month of January, we’ve had two large snowfalls (6+ inches). The first was a very heavy, wet snow that created the most beautiful winter scene as the snow hung to the branches of the trees. The second snowfall was a light, fluffy snow but was covered by a layer of ice that made playing in the snow more like an ice skating adventure for our kids. They liked pretending the front steps were a slide.