Baking with my babes!

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Hey friends! So, if you have been following me for awhile, you know one of our absolute favorite things to do as a family, is bake together!  When we homeschooled last year, every week we baked/cooked something that coordinated with the letter we were learning that week. It was so fun and it’s so amazing getting to teach them baking skills and introducing them to new foods and such a fun way to incorporate learning into our week!  Some things we made were healthy, some not so much, but all so fun to make together! Cooking as a family is my favorite!  When Dad gets involved I love it that much more!  Chris is an insane cook and these girls don’t know yet just how lucky they are to have a Dad with such amazing culinary skills! #happywife!

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Having a house full of daughters is kind of like a dream come true!  I don’t know that I necessarily ever imagined this, but it is truly incredible!  We joke that we’re going to need to remodel our kitchen soon because our house is full of people who love to cook, including my husband who is the best of the best!  But, we probably really will have to… So, if you want to come help remodel our space, let me know:D

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It is so wonderful watching each of our daughters’ personalities develop, and you can see it so much when we bake.  Norah takes baking pretty seriously and wants to get the recipe right.  Charlie pretty much spends the whole time taste testing anything that falls onto the table and Ada just likes to bang spoons and make messes!

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It’s so fun watching them pick out their aprons, their whisk of choice, choosing which ingredients who gets to put in first and probably most of our recipes get extra eggs because egg cracking is their favorite part, next to dough tasting of course!

When my sweet friend Robyn told me she was flying into town from Phoenix and asked if we would want to do some photos, I knew right away that I wanted her to capture us doing one of our favorite things and do a little baking session! Guys, if you live in the Phoenix area, hit her up for photos!  She does it all and her work is so good! But seriously, she does such a great job at simply capturing what’s happening and makes you feel totally comfortable. So, please check her out if you’re in her neck of the woods! I maybe ugly face cried when looking at these because she did such an amazing job capturing the girls’ personalities and the little moments that make up our time spent baking with one another!

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We usually only get family photos done when we have a baby, so like once a year:D But, seriously, this was such a blessing!  Robyn did a little home session for us after we welcomed Ada and I cherish those moments so much! I knew I wanted to do something to remember this special season with these 3 little ladies before their 4th sister arrives, and this was absolutely perfect!  I am so excited to have those moments as our family of 6 beginning, but this was so very special!

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I imagine what life will be like when they’re in their teens and I get so excited! People make lots of negative comments about how terrible it will be, and I just smile because I know it doesn’t have to be!  I am so thankful to get to mother these ladies and when I imagine those years I imagine more coffee dates, more movie nights, more conversations in our kitchen… I know there will be rough moments, but I know none of those will compare to how wonderful the good ones will be!

A little alliteration for you!  Cooking Chocolate Chip Cookies wearing Comfy Clogs with the Cutest Crew!  See, education, education, education! IMG_6269

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Robyn, Thank you so much for the gift of these photos!  We are truly so grateful!  Check Robyn out at RobynRena.comInstagram and Facebook!

Featured Items

Norah’s Dress: RemieGirl

Charlie’s Dress, which she basically lives in: RyleeandCru

Charlie’s Hair Bows: TheLittleDesignCo

Ada’s Romper: ShopTheRabbitandFern

Momma’s top: LoveWinnieJames

Momma’s Clogs: SandgrenClogs

Some thoughts about Father’s Day & an Interview with my Love On Fatherhood

The Pahls Family

Recently, BabyMori reached out to my super hunk of a husband, Chris, and asked him the question, What does Fatherhood mean to you?”  I was excited to read what he wrote because I am constantly amazed at what an incredible Father he is.  We talked in our dating days about wanting two daughters, and now that we’re about to have four daughters, I would have 100 more babies with this man!  On that note, want to have at least 5 more, husband? Just saying… think about it:D

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Father’s Day is one of those days that is bittersweet to me.  This will be the 8th Father’s Day that I mourn the loss of my Father and sister.  While I miss my dad tremendously, I can only imagine how much joy it would bring him to see the way my husband loves me and the way he fathers our daughters.  I know this is what he prayed for me when he first held me.  I imagine him rocking me to sleep and praying for me to have a husband who would love me and our children the way he loved my mother and me. I know that when he dreamt of having grandchildren, he dreamt of them being fathered by a man like Chris.  While I mourn the fact that my dad didn’t get to walk me down the aisle and give me away to Chris and mourn that he did not live to meet his grandchildren (he is about to have 9 now!) or embrace us as we welcomed our daughters and became parents, I know that the things he prayed over me were answered, and in more ways than I think he ever imagined.

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I miss my dad so much, especially on this day… But the joy that I feel when I see the smiles on the girls’ faces when they model a new dress for their father, or the way the girls soak up the way Chris teaches them how to play a new game or the way they hide and jump out to surprise him when Chris gets home for work… That joy and thankfulness trumps the pain that comes with not seeing my father today.  Chris preached at Church today, so he got there before we did.  When we walked into the sanctuary, the first thing they did was look around for their dad and then took off running for him as soon as they found him in the crowd.  That love they have for one another, that excitement they have as they run to their father and then watching the way he picks them up and embraces them, feeling that same excitement… It’s just so rich!

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So, with that, here is an interview with Chris on what Fatherhood means to him.  Happy Father’s Day to all of you Father’s out there, and for all of you may be mourning any kind of loss of a Father, a spouse or a child, I pray you feel more joy than pain today and that you are overwhelmed with love and peace each and every day you mourn those losses.

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An Interview with BabyMori- What does Fatherhood mean to you?

“Fatherhood is, to me, a gift, a responsibility and a blessing all rolled into one. I get to experience what it is like to have my hands involved in molding and shaping a life, but am also being molded and shaped by my daughters. My eyes are constantly opened to new things around me, in my daughters and in myself.  Fatherhood has shown and is showing me just how compassionate I can be, but at the same time, has shown me and shows me just how truly selfish I am and can be all at the same time. Fatherhood is one of the most fun things I have ever done while also exhausting and frustrating. I think Fatherhood is amazing, but also a weighty responsibility that I want to continue to grow in and handle correctly.  My understanding of what it means to be created in the image and likeness of my Creator has been broadened beyond what I ever thought it would be.

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On a related note, as a father to daughters, I will say that fatherhood has made me keenly aware of the way we, often unintentionally, belittle our female population. As we enter into the last stretch of pregnancy with our 4thdaughter, I am met with many comments about my lack of sons that are increasingly frustrating to me.  Many times the conversation goes this way:

Person – “Wow, your 4th child.  Do you know if it’s a boy or girl yet?”

Me – “It’s my 4th girl”

Person – “Wow, I’m sorry” or “You must have more patience than me” or “Still don’t have that boy yet?” or “Will try until you get a boy?”

IMG_7078Now, I understand where the line of questioning comes from, but this is often in front of or within earshot of my daughters.  I would love to take this opportunity to say that I absolutely love raising these little girls and in no way feel as though I was left out of something simply because I do not have a son, or that in some crazy way, these girls are of less value to me than having a son. I thank God for these 4 precious girls that I have been entrusted with and cherish the fact that I’m able to be part of their lives, and they a part of mine.  Sure, the novelty of raising a little boy is alluring and I enjoy entertaining the thought of having a little mini-me running around.  That novelty, however, pales in comparison to the blessing of this house that is filled with estrogen.  I want to see the gifts set before me and be diligent to raise strong, productive, useful, and joy filled women. I am planning a small bunker for myself for the future, though, and will be practicing my most intimidating facial expressions and death threats for the boys that will be knocking on my door.” -Chris Pahls.

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To read more inspiring stories about Fatherhood, head over BabyMori and read more in their Journal Series.

Photos By Robyn Bunch, Courtney Unruh & Stephanie Pollock

 

International Family Day: An Interview With BabyMori – Inspiring Lives 14: The Importance of Family, Kindness and Accepting Loss


  • How did you and your husband, Chris, first meet? 

Chris and I will never stop laughing about how we met!  I’ll try and set up the scene. It’s 2004, we’re college freshman, I’m maybe hung over (because #college and I was into poor choices at this stage in my life:D) and I was dressed in what we will call ‘not my best look’. We were in our University Cafeteria, and I’m standing in front of a TV & and literally shoveling ranch dressing smothered cottage cheese into my mouth using a chicken strip as my utensil of choice when my friend came over and introduced Chris and I 😀 I knew him after that as Hot Art Student Chris and he knew me as That Weird Chicken Strip Girl 😀 We didn’t begin dating until two years later, and have been inseparable since, but to this day Chris will joke, “I can’t believe I married the chicken strip girl”. So, maybe not a love at first sight story but it makes for a good story and we will never stop laughing about it. Oh, and I’ve been working on my table manners and Hot Art Chris has only continued to get hotter and hotter:D

  • Life isn’t always kind to everyone. How do you both approach life with such positivity and love?

Chris and I both understand that you can’t take life too seriously.  We have learned to really value the good moments, as we understand it is these moments that will help get us through the more difficult times.  We both value kindness and try to remember that the person honking their horn at us maybe just found out they have cancer, or the mean lady in line at the coffee shop is maybe grieving the loss of her best friend.  We understand that people are hurting all around us and believe we are called to be kind and loving to all people at all times. We both share the belief that everybody has a story to tell, everyone’s story is very valuable and sometimes these stories really just need to be shared and listened to. 2016-04-20 09.17.39.jpg

  • You’ve both lost family in the past, something that can be so difficult to cope with. How has family helped you to find the light at the end of the tunnel?

Chris and I were dating when my father and 17-year-old sister were killed in a tragic car accident.  I kind of lost myself for a while.  I hurt in a way I didn’t know was possible and I was hurting even more deeply for my family, watching them grieve.  I know watching my family and I hurt the way we did was difficult for Chris. I remember Chris not really giving me advice when I was really hurting, but just trying to be there and listen to me when I needed it. He still tries to do this. Please do this for your friends experiencing loss. Just be there for them. Just listen to them. Just cry with them…

Chris lost both his grandparents in the same week and my water actually broke with our first daughter the morning of their funeral so we were unable to attend.  As strange as this sounds, we gained such interesting perspective through this.  Although we will all experience extreme sorrow on this earth, there is still immeasurable joy that happens alongside this sorrow as well. However, sometimes you have to choose which thing you’re going to give more attention to, the sorrow or the joy.

All of us will experience loss and difficulty but we also all get to choose how we respond and react to these difficult times and painful emotions.  After the loss of my dad and sister, I reacted in many ways. Some reactions were good, some were damaging, but in the end, with Chris’ love and support, I went back to school and became a therapist so I could walk alongside people who were going through their most difficult times and be a part of their healing process.  We have learned, though, that you don’t need any kind of special degree to walk alongside people and help; we can all do this every day.

We can take the time to visit with the person checking us out at our your local grocers, we can be kind and buy someone’s coffee behind us in line at the local coffee shop or simply compliment and encourage that sleep deprived mother trying to convince her toddlers why they don’t need that candy that they’re letting the world know they need… You’ll be amazed at the connections and relationships that will form around you if you take the time to do these simple things daily.  Listening to people’s stories and sharing ours can have so much power and impact on the world around us. Chris and I believe we were made for connection and community and these are ways we have learned to join together as a family and connect with others around us no matter what season of life we may be in.

  • Moments are so rare because they come and go so quickly. For you, what family moments will you always hold close?

When it pertains to loss, I will never forget the moment I held my father’s hands or touched my sister’s beautiful face and said goodbye to them for the last time as they laid in their caskets. I can’t help but cry and breathing sometimes becomes difficult when I think of this moment, knowing I wouldn’t see them or touch them in this life again.

However, when I think of this moment, I also begin to think of the many unforgettable memories that made saying goodbye to them so difficult.  I remember the first time I held Bethany in the hospital when she was born and being so excited to have another little sister.  She was such a spunky, compassionate and genuinely unforgettable person. I remember my dad sharing with me, shortly before he passed, the regrets he had as a father and asking me for his forgiveness while expressing his deep love for me as his first-born daughter. My mind is flooded with memories of family game nights, road trips across the country and so many of my dad’s corny jokes that I will forever be grateful for!

I have learned so much from my family and so much more in having to say goodbye to them. Their loss made me realize I will say goodbye to other loved ones before I’m ready to, so I am trying to be more aware of this and hold tightly to the happy moments, especially as a wife and mother.

When it pertains to my family, there are so many memories that will stay with me.  The moment Chris asked me to be his wife, the moment we promised to love one another even through the hardest of times, the moment we became parents and every moment we met each one of our daughters for the first time. Every time we welcome a baby, I look at him and feel the deepest emotion that I don’t even know how to describe.  It’s like, WE did this! You did this! I did this! This is our baby, this is our family.  I think about this feeling and treasure it deeply.

IMG_6767.jpgThere are so many moments, which might be considered mundane, that have become so precious and almost sacred to me because I have learned that forever is a lot shorter than it sounds. Making pancakes in the morning, singing songs in the bathtub, the girls crawling into our bed after they’ve peed in theirs:D  I know these moments are fleeting and I want to hold onto them as long as I can!

  • What does family mean to you and how do you enjoy the little moments?

To me, family is a gift.  I don’t necessarily deserve my family or this life of ours, and yet they have been given to me and I to them… And for that, I am so thankful. There are some days I almost can’t believe how blessed I am! Before we had children, I was such an extrovert.  Now, I’m happiest at home hanging out with our family! I love and look forward to the days where our calendars are empty and all we have to do is to hang out with one another! Movie nights, dance parties, baking and making meals together, playing outside, watching the girls play together… Even cleaning the house is so much more fun as a family! I know my family is a gift and I am so thankful and continue to grow more and more thankful!  I think the best way to embrace family is to understand that it truly is a gift and to try my best to act in a manner that reflects this gratitude.

  • Finally, what does motherhood mean to you?

Motherhood.  So much can be found wrapped up into the word Motherhood. Motherhood is one of the greatest gifts I have ever been given.  Motherhood is a huge responsibility, a new identity, a constant dance of evolving and adjusting. Motherhood brought with it new insecurities, new challenges, new opinions, new fears, new convictions, new emotions, new abilities, new passions, new hopes and aspirations, new relationships, new priorities… To me, there was almost my life before motherhood and my life after motherhood.  Motherhood is not the only thing that defines me, but it is a confounding element that has completely redefined me.

 

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Read more inspiring stories @ https://babymori.com/blogs/journal . Thank you for letting me share my heart @BabyMori!
 Photos by StephPollock & RobynBunch

 

 

Sister, Sister, Sister, Sister: Sisterly Love

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Motherhood is more amazing than I could have ever imagined. There are so many aspects that I never knew existed or never even thought about before having our own children.  One of those things I never really thought about when we were dreaming of children, was what it would be like to get to watch their relationships with one another form and change as they grew.  We planned to have one baby, and now, 5 years later, our 4th girl is due in October:D  Watching these little ladies is such a gift! I can think back to when they were so little and just learning how to use words and communicate with one another…And now they’re best friends, most of the time, and doing just about everything they do with one another!

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I am the oldest of 4, with 2 younger sisters and a brother whom I love dearly.  I also gained 2 brothers and an amazing sister-in-law when I married my husband.  Our youngest sister, Bethany went to be with the Lord 8 years ago when she was 17 and I miss her more than I can express.  Losing Bethany strengthened the bond I have with my sister Heather and has taught me so much about how incredible the gift of siblings can be.

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I have a lot of regret as a sibling. I feel like I missed getting to know my siblings or pouring into them the way I should have… mostly because of my own selfishness… One thing I really want my daughters to understand is that they are precious gifts to one another and their job as a sister is to be selfless, compassionate and a best friend to one another…  I want to model that they are to be understanding and gentle with one another; to hold one another accountable yet give one another lots of grace. It’s easy to get frustrated and judgy with the ones you love most.  I am guilty of this and wish I would have shown my love to my siblings better.  I pray that through what I have learned, these daughters will love and protect one another in such a way that when they look back on life, they can smile and know they always were there for one another and that they will never feel alone in the many stages of life they go through.

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When it comes to the girls’ personalities and interests, all of our girls all pretty ‘girly girly’ but some of their favorite interests include learning, reading, baking, playing with dolls & barbies, playing dress up in princess dresses and momma’s clothes, lots and lots of make believe, playing midwives, doing make-up, building forts, dance parties, making & playing with play dough, painting, coloring, playing tag and hide-and-seek, playing outside and really just doing anything together! Norah wants everything Disney Princess Ariel, Charlie wants all things Princess Rapunzel and Ada likes anything she can throw or chew on:D

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It is truly so interesting how different they are from one another…. Chris and I started talking last night about what it might be like welcoming our fourth little lady, and we couldn’t help but laugh at the thought of four daughters but more so, about Ada becoming a big sister! She is so funny and wild and is going to be so in love!

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To describe them each briefly, Norah wakes up in the mornings like Disney Princess happy! Charlie always wakes up a bit grumpy and hungry and Ada always wakes up way too early and ready to wrestle and play.  Whenever Ada sees her two big sisters in the morning, she squeals with joy and instantly tries to wrestle with them!  It’s amazing watching how much she loves them, how much they love her and how much they all just love one another! My heart swoons thinking about the 3, soon to be 4 of them, growing up together and all the memories they will make together! Norah is our social butterfly, Charlie is our super creative artist and Ada kind of acts like she’s been raised by wolves 😀 I’m so excited to see what baby girl #4 will be like?! Also excited to giver her a name!

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Our two oldest have recently entered the ‘fighting’ stage and they are, surprisingly, very good at it.  One minute, they will be playing barbies, the next minute they’re fighting over who said what and then act as if the world is ending.  Chris and I are working on trying to learn what works best for each of them and that’s an interesting process as well. They fight over who gets to wear what outfit and they almost always ask to be “matchy matchy” which just means dress similarly, so I’m getting smarter about getting them “matchy matchy” coordinating outfits

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Even in the more difficult times, I am so grateful to be their mother and feel so blessed to call these daughters ours! Sometimes I just watch them and smile and take 1,000 photos so I never forget how these moments felt… When they hug and tell one another they love each other, or compliment and encourage one another… all the hard stuff seems to melt away…well, most of the time:D Motherhood is simply amazing and I am so grateful for our little girl party!”

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We are very thankful to have partnered with LittleCottonClothes and their Sisterly Love campaign for this piece.  Thank you LittleCottonClothes!

Heidi Skirts and Sidonie Sailor Shirts by LittleCotton Clothes

Knee Socks by RedRoverKids & AtHomeWithAveryGrace

A wonderful new friend & some family photos

Instagram has turned into something that I never imagined it would be.  At the same time, Motherhood is everything wonderful I ever imagined to be and beyond amazing, but it too has surprised me.  Along with the incredible joy, love and everything sprinkles and rainbows are made of, came along some unexpected insecurities, discouragement, doubt, fear, mom guilt and loneliness. Somewhere in between these feelings, busy schedules, 2am nursing sessions, toddler tantrums, 4am nursing sessions, sleep deprivation, trying to adult,  6am nursing sessions and snapping photos, I found myself  in this wonderful community and surrounded by mothers who seemed to understand everything I was experiencing. While Instagram may just be a button on my phone, it also opened up this extra community where even in times when I might not be able to sit with my best friends for coffee, I could still drink coffee and visit with my best friends.  These friends I have made through these little squares have reassured, in my moments where motherhood is rough, that I am not a total failure, I am not doing everything completely wrong and I am definitely not alone in feeling these things.

I was laughing with some friends I have made through instagram this week about how instagram used to just blue blue & orange filters over our poor quality photos of our food:D You guys remember that right?! If I could just give this piece of cheesecake a more grainy vintage look and a sweet vignette or border, it will be perfect!  🙂 However, out of those grainy photos has birthed, for me, a wonderful community full of awesome opportunities and genuine friendships!  While I could talk much more about this, I bring it up to to share that I got to have my first insta meet up with a beautiful friend that came out of these little squares and it was wonderful!!  I can think of at least 30 of you, you know who you are, who I am just certain we will meet up one day soon too!

Anyway, not only did I just meet my sweet friend Stephanie, but she also blessed us with her talents and photographed our family doing one of our favorite pastimes, visiting coffee shops!  She brought along her sweet daughter and we were all smitten with her! For those of you who know her from instagram, she’s even prettier, more kind and more hip than she looks in her feed!  I instantly wished we lived closer and in our conversation it just felt  like I had known her forever!  It was such a fun visit and I just feel so grateful that we had the opportunity to meet up in real life and to have these sweet memories of such a fun day.  Thank you SO much Stephanie and Loyal Coffee!

Here are a few of my favorites!  Well, they were basically all my favorites but here are a couple!

 

Photos By Stephanie Pollock 

Dresses & Romper- JamesVincentDesignCo

Tights-Sawyer&Halle

Bonnet-YarnRepublic

Moccasins-TheLittleDesignCo

Watch- Jord

Boots- Wilcox Boots

Ring Sling- WildBird

Diaper Bag-Fawn Design

Location-Loyal Coffee

Welcoming Ada Lynn

I feel like the only time I blog is when I have a baby, so most probably this will be my last one until next year:D Just kidding…but probably not☺️

Ok, so it’s taken me almost a year to finish writing this but here she is… Ada Lynn’s Birth Story!  Ada’s birth story is nuts.  I kind of don’t even know where to begin.  I’ll start with the week before we met her.

Sunday morning, January 31, I woke up and felt so weird.  I was nauseous and dizzy and couldn’t stop cleaning… I was nesting to the max! I called my midwife and she decided to come check on me.  Everything looked great, I was in tiptop shape and I asked her to go ahead and check me just to see if I was dilated at all.  To our surprise, I was a 6!  I wasn’t having any contractions that I could feel so she just told me to let her know if I progressed at all. OJ4A1832.jpgThursday, February 4th I felt great! Just very pregnant and very ready to meet our little lady.  We had an appt with our midwife and the whole drive there I just rubbed my belly and kept thinking about being a family of 5 and how excited Norah and Charlie were to meet their little sister!  Norah kept telling me she was going to catch Ada and pull her out during labor, and she was just so excited!!  At our visit, our midwife decided to check me since I tend to dilate pretty good before birth and I will never forget the look in her eyes:D She looked at me with these huge eyes and was like, “Amanda! Amanda! How are you not feeling these contractions?! You’re having one right now!” She then looked at her apprentice, looked back at me and was like, “Um, you’re dilated to a 9!”  What the what?! I was dilated to a 9, baby was at  a +1 station and I wasn’t feeling my contractions?!  SO weird.  Our midwife lives an hour from us and I remeber her laughing and was like, let’s head to your place and have a baby☺️

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On the way back home, I started feeling my contractions but they weren’t painful at all. They just felt like I was flexing my abs…  Rebecca told me to get home, eat some cucumbers to keep my blood pressure low and to take a bath to help slow down my contractions. I got in the bath and laid on my side so I could rest and prepare to meet our daughter.  There I was with my giant belly, my cucumbers, and a nice hot bath☺️ I maybe ate some chicken strips too😂 Very romantic 🥰

When our midwife arrived, I was fully dilated!!! Like a 10!!! Like, a 10, 10! What?! How?! I thought I would at least feel some pain by this point?! I was even feeling any discomfort! Since I was fully dilated, we were sure we would be meeting Ada any moment.  Long story, short… We did not. We would fill the tub, drain the tub, repeat…I am pretty sure we tried every midwife trick there is as well.

We tried everything we could think of my favorite was playing an intense game of tag with Norah and Charlie around the house. But nothing seemed to get my contractions strong enough. Like, I’m running around my house, in a robe, dilated to a 10, playing tag with the girls, but like labor just wasn’t happening.  Most labor inducing techniques involve ripening the cervix but I was fully dilated so it was like…what the heck is happening?!  We decided the next step would be breaking my water… Welp, guess what?  This didn’t work either!… Like, that bag was so thick we couldn’t pop it. My midwife encouraged me to eat lots of oranges with as much pericarp during my pregnancy as I could to strengthen everything. We joked that I shouldn’t have eaten that many since apparently it definitely worked!OJ4A1961.jpgOJ4A1974.jpg

So, after a day full of trying to induce labor, laughter, good conversation, amazing lattes made by Chris, delicious pizza’s sent from a sweet friend in Colorado (Thanks Lacee!) we decided to call it a night.  I remember Rebecca asking me what I felt like I wanted to do and just started crying because I was so tired and so confused…Chris held me…Reminded me of how strong I was and that I had this…Rebecca held me and whispered encouraging words to me and then everyone came over, laid hands on me and prayed.  It was amazing.  I felt such peace and security and the presence of the Lord in such a special way🧡

Rebecca, her team, our photographer, and one of my dearest friends all set up camp in the living room and said they weren’t leaving until Ada arrived.  A slumber party it was! Having that many people choose to stay with me and support me was such an incredible feeling.  I felt so loved!

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One of my favorite things about home birth is the wonderful atmosphere and comfort that comes with just being in your home.  There was no rush, no other women needing tended to and no agenda besides my comfort & Ada and I’s health. At one point in the day we all got starbucks and just hung out visiting by the birthpool:D Everyone involved had a wonderful sense of humor so the atmosphere just felt fun and relaxed the entire time. Rebecca’s team was made up of her two oldest daughters, (she has 11 children! #Goals) and her apprentice.  Her girls played with our girls and braided their hair, and watching the incredible relationship that these teenage girls shared with their mother makes me so excited for the relationship that my girls and I will share one day!😭🥰

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I mentioned above how badly Norah wanted to help or at least witness the birth of Ada and I wanted this so badly too, but it just didn’t happen. After such a long day, we decided that maybe it would be best for Norah and Charlie to go to Grandma and Grandpa’s for the evening so Chris and I could get some rest and wake up ready to go!  I was super bummed, but also felt like we needed to do it this way.  The next morning I woke up, still dilated to a 10 and was beyond ready to meet our little lady!

Just like the day before, we tried all kinds of things until I was just so ready!  Rebecca asked what might be stalling labor and I told her it might be that the painters tape on my windows in my room😭 We had just painted and there was still painters tape up… So my friend, our midwife and I took down all of the tape. I think that really helped 😂

We were determined to get my water to break so we decided to go to the bedroom and make it happen!  Everybody huddled around my bed, I think at this point there were 8 of us, and we finally got my water to break! What I should say, is my water BURST! Like, sprayed me and everyone around me kind of burst.😂 Sorry about spraying you with birth fluids, friends😂😭  I remember laughing, and then getting a contraction that was like the mother of all contractions!  Up until this point, my contractions were painless. I would have a few minutes of some soft contractions followed by hours of nothing… It was emotionally so strange and draining because they would start to get a little more intense and I would think, “This is it!  Here we go!” and then nothing. But this contraction, I knew she was coming and FAST!

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I asked Rebecca and Chris to get me downstairs and back into the tub.  I got in and there was another huge contraction!  I was on my hands and knees and reached down and could feel Ada’s head.  I remember Rebecca asking me to roll over and I was like, “Nope! Not happening!” She rolled me over herself and told me to push!  Now, this was my third labor and I feel like after all this work and being dilated to a 10 for so long pushing would be so easy, but I’ve never had to push like this.  Norah was 6 pushes, Charlie was 2 painless pushes, but this was like, no matter how hard I pushed, I felt like I needed to push harder!  It wasn’t that I was in pain, or that it even hurt… I just couldn’t seem to push like I felt I needed to. Then, with every fiber in my being and an maybe a hint of some serious scrunting (you know the grunt/scream I’m talking about) 😂, I pushed and then… Rebecca told me to slow down!  Slow down?! Ada was finally right there and I had to slow my pushing down?!OJ4A2412.jpgOJ4A2417.jpg

This is another area where I am so incredibly thankful for the extra time, care, consideration, and attention that you receive with a well-seasoned, very attentive midwife.  Rebecca had a hunch and thought maybe Ada might be trying to exit with a Nuchal hand.  It’s not what it sounds like. She was crowing with her hand on her head with her elbow bent out wanting to exit at the same time as her head!  Think Burt Reynolds 1972 centerfold style.  She was just wanting to arrive with extra class, but this class is not so great for your lady biz, and we realized this was the reason my pushing felt so weird.

Rebecca used her sweet skills and gently pushed Ada’s hand and arm back while having me slowly push and I am happy to say that no vagines were hurt or torn in any way during this delivery!!! Or in any of our home births! THANK YOU, Rebecca!!! After that, I reached down and with one more push, pulled my sweet little Ada out and onto my chest!OJ4A2650.jpg

I then remember something really special. My mom was there with me when I delivered Norah and Charlie but timing was a little off on this one and it didn’t work for my mom to be there this time. Sorry Mom! However, my best friend was there with me.  I remember looking down at Ada and looking up and meeting eyes with Olivia, both us with large tears streaming down our faces.  I remember looking at her as she birthed her son and held him for the first time and just feeling so proud of her and so amazed with her strength and the beauty of birth.  In that moment, I knew what she was feeling and there’s just something so special about it 😭 It was just a special moment I’ll never forget😭OJ4A2678.jpgOJ4A2697.jpg

I will never forget the sensation or that moment when each one of my ladies first laid on my chest!  Reaching down and pulling your own baby up and out of yourself and onto your chest yourself is a sensation that is truly incredible! I exclaimed, “You’re here! You’re here!”  I remember kissing her, looking at her hands which were so small in comparison to her sisters, and looking into her face and just being in awe of how perfect she was.  Her pouty lips, her dimpled chin, her soft brown hair.  I remember looking  at Chris and smiling and having this funny sense of relief and while he didn’t say anything, in my head he was laughing and saying, “FINALLY!” 🥰 2 days of being dilated to a 10 is a serious tease!😳OJ4A2707.jpgOJ4A2770.jpg

After cuddling with Ada for awhile, we got out of the tub and got settled in our bedroom. Our room was set up with all the necessities you might find in a hospital except way cozier! And no painters tape! 🥰🥰 By this time Norah and Charlie were back home with us. I was so bummed they weren’t there when I delivered but it all worked out beautifully. I was on the bed nursing Ada as the girls rushed in screaming, “She’s here! She’s here!”Norah jumped up onto the bed, put her hand on my cheek and said in the sweetest little voice, “I really wanted to pull her out… BUT YOU DID IT!” She gave me the biggest hug was just so proud! Her and Charlie got in bed with us and were so excited! I’ll never forget them smiling, and laughing, and cooing about how much they loved their new little sister and how cute they thought she was! Special doesn’t even begin to describe these moments😭OJ4A2844.jpgOJ4A2845.jpgOJ4A2852.jpgOJ4A2856.jpgOJ4A2884.jpgOJ4A2888.jpgOJ4A2923.jpgOJ4A2938.jpgOJ4A2957.jpg

Then we just got to cuddle up and love on one another while we watched and participated in taking Ada’s vitals. She was here, we were all together, all felt perfect. Home birth is seriously magical😭 I hope to experience it again and again!

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Ada Lynn. 21 inches. 7 lbs 4oz. Born in our dining room on February 5th, 2016 at 5:53pm.
Oh man, I am so thankful for this incredible family and for all if the incredible people who took part in loving and caring for us while we welcomed our sweet little Ada Lynn!
OJ4A3188.jpg Thank you so much toTruly You Midwifery Services and to everyone who prayed for us, encouraged us, supported and loved us throughout our pregnancy and welcoming Ada! This was one of the most incredible days of our lives.  I can hardly believe that Ada is almost one.  It doesn’t seem possible that this much time could have passed already.

What’s in my bag

I decided to do a small update to what’s in my bag now that my blog has moved and Ada is almost 1!!! How?!  I am always curious what others carry in their bags so I hope this is helpful!

My mother-in-law recently got me the FawnDesign bag and I love it!! It’s super roomy, you can wear it both back pack or messenger style, it has everything I was wanting in a bag and it’s super pretty! Thank you Janet☺️❤️

Several months ago, I won these maptotes canvas tote bags via Instagram giveaway and I love them! They have made it so much easier to find stuff in my bag and also limit what I can carry so I adhere better to my minimalist ideas. I have one titled diapers that carries my… Wait for it… Diapers☺️ sorry for the mom joke…

 

Ok, back to the bags☺️  Now I sort my stuff by bag so I have the diaper bag, medicine bag, and snack bag which should probably just read lollipops because when the girls read the bag they say, “S.N.A.C.K.S. Lollipops!” I’ve also added lots of little snacks like trail mix, freezer dried fruits and fun healthy snacks on the go.

In the Diaper tote I carry diapers, wipes, a couple different healing salves for diaper rashes and/ or and small wounds or bug bites we encounter throughout our day. These include some homemade salves made by my friend Olivia and  Mom’s Stuff Salve which is amazing and you should totally check them out! It works on everything basically! Also, I think we have discovered the best diaper rash cream ever! The packaging is lovely, it smells amazing and it works wonders! It’s so natural you could eat it, and I promise it smells good enough to eat! Charlotte’s Bum Butter for the win! Our favorite diapers are BamboNature and SeventhGeneration diapers! Both of these diapers are eco friendly, sleep friendly and they’re white, cream and adorable patterns so even better!!

Here’s a rundown of what I keep in my medicine bag. It changes depending on where we’re going/ how long we will be gone, but this is what you will find most of the time.

A roller ball full of YL digize for any tummy pain, Wish Garden Colic Ease for extra tummy relief,  Ada’s teething oils which I will share below, YL gentlebaby roller bottle to calm us both down if we’re experiencing a tizzy, black drawing salve for our crazy mosquitos, tweezers, clippers, and all the lipchaps! I currently use my own handmade lip balm, Whispering Willow’s delicious mint balm and as of recently, I’m carrying Norah and Charlie’s all-natural tropical lip balms & butters from LiveBeautifullyBody around with us too☺️ I also carry a stress away roller from my frind Bethany & essential oil perfume blend that my friend Ashley and made for me! I could probably drink stress away.  It’s one of my favorite scents ever! I also have like 20 princess bandaids at all times now!  I should buy stock in Ariel bandaids:D

Now that Ada is full on teething I try and bring our teething toys and oils with us. Here is what I use. I have several favorite chew toys (can I call them chew toys?) maybe teethers sounds better…4 favorite teethers. Yarnandhookmade , EarthandMirth and Chewable Charm are a few of the wonderful shops where our teethers come from. Side note, both of these shops make amazing bonnets which you will see Ada living in this fall:D Ada’s silicone teething clip is from BaybeeBoutique and it’s super convenient and functional! We also use Madeline’sBox braided leather pacifier clips and they are wonderful! The oils I use for teething are YL copaiba & orange and I just rub those directly on her gums and her frown turns upside down real fast! Then I rub her jaw line with a blend of Roman chamomile & lavender.

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With teething also comes a lot of drool and now that we’re eating big girl food as well we use BillyBibs  and MaryandKate bibs. They’re so pretty, reversible, and soak up all that mess real fancy like!

I also carry around a small brush because Norah’s hair literally goes to her little buns crack😱 I don’t use it as much as I probably should but I keep this and carry an extra headband for Ada and a set of Charlie’s hair bows incase we need to freshen up and look a little more like maybe we bathed that day☺️ I’ll include a list of our favorite bow shops in an upcoming post!

Ada has lived with swaddling blankets since she was born basically and we don’t leave the house without my favorite Mary & Kate swaddle.. I also use Modern Burlap and House of Jude blankets! All of these are so soft and also make perfect nursing covers!.  I often spray these down with lavender linen spray so it smells delicious as well!

 I also don’t leave the house without a baby carrier!   I currently use my Solly Baby Wrap,  an Elbebaby Ring Sling or my Wildbird Sling! I enjoy all three very much!

So, yep! That’s pretty much it! I keep an extra outfit, extra pacifier clip and Pacifiers incase we accidentally lose one, or 3.  Oh, and an extra bonnet! Thank you so much for all of these wonderful partnerships and to everyone who has given so wonderfully and made our lives a little easier, thank you SO much!

Also, be on the lookout for a Mommas’s favorites that I will be posting soon!! I’ll include our favorite toy shops, clothing and accessory shops!

Diapers- BamboNature SeventhGeneration

Swaddle- Mary and Kate

Diaper Cream- Charlotte’s Bum Butter

Wood Teethers- Yarnandhookmade 

Bunny Ear Teether- EarthandMirth

Silicone Teethers & Rattle- Chewable Charm

YL Oils- Ashley, Bethany Barkey

Salves- Mom’s Suff SalveOlivia Michael

Bibs- BillyBibs

Diaper Bag- FawnDesign

Canvas Totes- Maptotes 

Baby carrier – Solly Baby ElbeBaby WildBird

Silicone Pacifier Clip- BayBeeBoutique

Leather Braided Pacifier Clip- Madeline’sBox

Chapsticks- Whispering Willow, Live Beautifully 

Pacifier- Natursutten 

Bonnet- YarnRepublic

Update: Some of my new favorite items to tote with me since posting are my Gathre Changing Mat, Willaby Heirloom Blanket, WindyKnitsCo Blanket, Sakura Bloom Sling and probably more oils.

Momma’s Favorite Lactation Cookies

One of my favorite ways to boost my milk supply has to be these lactation cookies! They are super delicious and every time I eat them my milk supply is awesome! I make them when I know I have to pump a little extra milk for my little lady.  I’ve tried a few recipes, but these are the best tasting and most effective ones I’ve tried. I’ve adapted this recipe from http://www.bellybelly.com.au/breastfeeding/lactation-cookies/.  I hope they work out for you. Worst case scenario, you just get to enjoy some delicious cookies:D  several people have asked for this recipe so here it is!

Prep time: approx. 15 minutes

Oven temp: preheat to 335-340F

Makes approx. 14-16 cookies, using a dessert spoon per cookie (double the recipe for more)

Recipe

1 cup self raising wholemeal flour (if you have plain flour, add 1/2 teaspoon baking powder. You could probably substitute with coconut or almond flour but I haven’t tried that yet)

1/2 cup coconut oil

1/2 cup brown sugar )

1 egg

2 tablespoons flaxseed meal

3 tablespoons of water

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons of brewers yeast – do not substitute with bakers yeast or any other yeast

1/2 teaspoon salt – use himalayan salt if possible

1 & 1/2 cups oats – organic, steel cut oats are best for you, but rolled oats are fine

1/2 cup of dark chocolate chips or your favorite cookie extras- you can alter this and add fruit, nuts, whatever your lactating self is craving 😂

 

Directions

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar, then add the egg and vanilla. Mix well. In a separate bowl, combine the flaxseed and water, let them sit for a few minutes before adding to mix. Add the dry ingredients (apart from the oats and your additional ingredients) and mix well again. Finally, stir in the oats and your additional ingredients. Spoon 2 tbsp sized scoops cookie dough balls and place them onto a lightly greased or lined baking tray. Bake the lactation cookies for around 10-12 minutes, depending on how soft/ crunchy you want them. I like mine super soft so I do 10 minutes. Remove from oven, take pretty picture and enjoy 😂😂

I hope these work wonders for you!

Charlie’s Birth Story

She’s here! She’s here!  Our beautiful Charlotte Reece was born January 2 at 2:21 pm weighing 7lbs 15oz and 20 inches long.  Based on how big my belly was, I was sure she was at least an 8lb baby, but she was just right!  Our sweet Norah is down for a nap and Charlie is snuggled up asleep as well.  As I look at my two beautiful daughters, I am overwhelmed with how blessed Chris and I are. We have joked since we were 20 years old about our two beautiful daughters we were told Chris would give me, and they are here!!! We are SO in love!

I thought while the girls are sleeping, I could start to write about our home birth experience.  I am not exaggerating when I say it was one of the most incredible experiences of my life!  When Chris and I found out we were expecting baby #2, I knew that a home birth was the way I wanted to go.  I really struggled with Norah’s birth experience.  There were no actual complications, just a really, really long labor (30 hours) and an awesome staff who did only what they were trained to do.  Hospitals are not my jam, and I could not relax while I was there.  Any time I would tell the doctors and nurses what my body was telling me to do, they would have me do something different.  I just knew that if I could get comfortable and do what my body was telling me, labor would be so easy… And Charlie’s birth proved this for me:)

I started looking for midwives right away, like the day I found out I was pregnant. Chris wasn’t sold on a home birth at this point but the more we researched and the more I stressed to Chris how badly I wanted a home birth, he decided we should do it!  We met with our midwife and decided home birth was going to happen!  Her values and beliefs aligned with ours and I felt confirmation that this was the way we were to go. The whole experience seeing a midwife vs. a Dr. was so different.  They give you so much responsibility and ownership in the whole process.  You check your protein levels, eat a stricter diet, take different vitamins and nutritional supplements, and there was such an emphasis placed on our health and making a healthier lifestyle than what was stressed with our first experience.   Everything was so natural, warm and comfortable.  All my checkups were done in a big cozy bed and I just felt so taken care of.  Also, prayer was a big aspect of the whole process as both of our midwives were believers.

There were many times when I would ask my doctor or nurse a question and they wouldn’t have an answer or, after researching, I would discover many of the answers they gave me were false.  It wasn’t that I was being lied to, I was just being given the only information that they knew. Our midwives gave us nutrition classes, birthing classes, vaccine classes, pre and post-natal classes and most of the information  stemmed from the Bible and Biblical principles.  This was especially cool to me.  Not only were they coming from a holistic, natural point of view, but they used lots of scripture to explain why they did things and why certain practices were so efficient.

It wasn’t until about a month before we had Charlie that we decided to do a water birth.  The last 2 months of my pregnancy I had crazy back pain and Michelle and Rebecca thought that the water would be really good for me.  I’m so glad they suggested we do a water birth!   A few months before we were due, Michelle got an exciting opportunity to go to Haiti, but in order to do so she would need to leave a week before my due date.  We talked about what we  might do and we decided she should go to Haiti and we would naturally encourage labor the day before she left.  At first I struggled with the thought of encouraging labor in any way because I wanted to do things “all natural” and this seemed to contradict this, but everything worked out just right!

Monday morning, December 31st, I went to see our midwife and found out I was dilated at a 4, 95% effaced and Charlie was at station 0.  This was great news!  The plan was to go again wednesday night to see how I was doing before Thursday, the morning we would encourage labor, but due to snow we decided we would just see them the next morning!   I could hardly sleep Wednesday night knowing we would meet our sweet Charlie the next day!!!!

So, Thursday morning, Chris and I woke up early and made my labor encouraging milkshake which consisted of castor oil, chocolate ice cream and chocolate syrup.  For those of you who have never eaten castor oil, you’re not missing out on anything:)  That stuff is funky!  However, castor oil helps you dilate in a fast and effective manner. I had read horror stories about the fun bathroom times that castor oil would give me, but I did not experience this.  I probably would have been sicker just eating at a salad bar:) I had a little bit of this concoction at 6:30, 7:30 and 8:30. Chris started juicing me a bunch of delicious fresh juices to drink during labor and I snacked away on crackers and sprite. At 9:30 I started taking Caulophyllum Thalictroides, a holistic herb which helps bring on contractions.

Our midwives arrived at 10am and I felt great!   The ladies came in with all their gear and were all set up by 10:30. They were studs!  Here’s where the fun begins!!!

Getting  the tub all ready!

They put the tub in the dining room and set up shop in our bedroom which was so very cool.  Basically our bedroom was turned into a birthing/ recovery room.  I got all nestled in bed and felt so comfortable.  They went ahead and checked me and I was dilated to an 8 and stretched to a 9!!! A 9 and I was experiencing 0 pain!!!  An 8 is usually when you hit transition and is considered the most painful/hardest stage of labor, yet I had no discomfort or pain at all?! I was still 95% effaced and Charlie was moving on down!  They then decided to break my water.  I had also heard horror stories about this, but I have to say it actually felt awesome!  After this, I started having contractions right away… Man, they were good! I guess I wasn’t expecting things to go so fast, but I didn’t mind.

I labored on the couch for a while, walked around the house, and just hung out with everyone through the my contractions.  Chris, my mom, Michelle, Rebecca and I just sat around in our living room, visiting like any other day.  It was so cool and relaxing.  I was in active labor but I felt so comfortable.  There was no fear, no discomfort, just peace and relaxation.  There were no IV’s, no beeping machines, no chords, no hospital bedding, no unnecessary checks, no hospital smells,  no other patients for my nurses or doctor to tend to, no fall risk bracelets or big red bulky socks:)… Just my super handsome hubby, our sweet little Norah, my awesome mom and our midwives. Our midwives laughed at me a lot and told me that I was the most positive person they had ever seen in labor.  I was just so very excited to be having this experience and so excited to meet our Charlie!

After about 30 minutes, I decided to get into the pool which felt AMAZING!!! I just hung over the side and rested through each contraction.  They were coming on stronger and stronger and lasting longer and longer, but still not super uncomfortable.  One of the big differences between a midwife and Dr.’s and nurses is the way they take care of you through the labor and birth process.  You are their only patient, they have no other agenda, and their goal is to make you as comfortable as possible while waiting for that beautiful babe to arrive. Rebecca rubbed my back through my contractions in the pool & whispered words of encouragement, while my mom rubbed my arms and played with my hair.  I like to be touched, but even more so during labor.  It’s hard to describe what the water did for my contractions but the ladies told me to ride my contractions out.  I rocked and floated through each contraction and it was like I just melted through them. Once my contractions were lasting about 1.5 minutes, they decided to check me again.  I was dilated at a 9 and they wanted to help me get to a 10 with gentle ease. Midwives have all kinds of cool tricks up their sleeves:)

They had me go back to my bed and during contractions I gently pushed while they pushed on the thicker part of my cervix that was dilating slower.  This was the most difficult part of the whole process, but totally worth it. After doing this about 3 or 4 times, I was adamant that I needed to use the loo… like now!  They knew what was happening but they let me get up and go to the bathroom anyway.  That’s when I realized I didn’t need to use the ladies room, just have a baby!  I told them I felt like I needed to squat, so I left the bathroom and came out and squatted on a C stool, an awesome stool used to help you deliver in a squatting position.  I squatted, pushed once and the ladies suggested I hop back in the pool.  Again, the water felt INCREDIBLE! I laid back and the ladies told me to push on my next contraction.  I bared down and there was Charlie’s head! I had no idea she would be here a push later!

While I was pushing, they were putting hot oil compresses that had been soaking in oils in a crockpot on my lady bits, massaging me softly and asking me if it hurt anywhere.  They had me push very slowly through my first contractions which made them seem to disappear, like not hurt at all. Chris was by my side, holding my hand and was just so awesome the whole time.  I was anticipating lots of pain and being in the tub for a long time, but I was way wrong. Chris did an incredible job at being there for me, for Norah, and making sure everyone was taken care of.  Our midwives ensured that I was comfortable during the whole labor process. Surprisingly, I only felt very little pain and when I told them when and where I was experiencing discomfort, they just supported me so that I wasn’t hurting or stretching in a way that could cause me to hurt or tear.  The infamous “ring of fire” that I had heard so much about was nothing like I had imagined.  There were also some other things they did to help this part move along smoothly, like instead of administering pitocin to speed up contractions, they have your husband twerk your nerps to help produce natural oxytocin.  Funny and effective:D  One more push and there she was! It was the most incredible feelings!  I felt the most insane rush of adrenaline and a feeling of joy that I can’t even describe! Norah had napped through my whole labor but woke up as I began pushing.  My mom was holding her across from the pool so they could watch and when Charlie came out of the water, Norah held out her hands and yelled, “my baby!” It was SO cool.  I felt like I had just climbed Mt. Everest!

 Charlie’s Apgar score was a 9 and after 5 minutes, a 10. She was, is, absolutely beautiful! After cuddling and nursing in the water for a while, Chris cut the chord and I delivered my placenta which was also very different from the hospital.  They took their time and it came out pain free. We headed back to our bedroom to to check on Charlie’s vitals and I snuggled up and got all warm and watched as they weighed and measured our precious new babe.  It was so cozy.  Chris and I just kept smiling at each other and saying how awesomeness thankful we were for this experience! There was no stress, no fear, no anxiety, no discomfort…just so much peace and joy.   From the time my contractions started until we met sweet Charlie was right around 3 hours!

Proud, beardless, and might I add, very studly Daddy!

About 10 minutes after I was all cuddled in bed, I had to use the restroom.  I got a little scared because this was more painful than birth itself with Norah.  In fact, it hurt to sit down or go to the bathroom for 8 weeks after having Norah… However, I was surprised when I had absolutely 0 pain, tenderness or sensitivity! Praise the Lord! Had it not been for sweet little Charlie laying in my bed and my cute little jelly sack of a belly,  I didn’t feel like I had just had a baby at all!  I have had no pain or tenderness in my nether regions whatsoever since having Charlie!   Another thing I’m praising the Lord for is no back pain!  I had really bad back pain where I received the epidural with Norah that lasted almost a year after having her.  That was so frustrating and was a constant reminder of the frustration and discouragement I felt. I begged the staff not to give it to me with Norah, but they felt it was necessary to slow down my contractions. I know now that it wasn’t, and am so thankful to have learned so many natural interventions.

Weighing sweet Charlie

While I was resting, the ladies put together a basket full of diapers, wipes, gauze and goldenseal (used to help dry and protect the umbilical cord), arnica oil and olive oil (natural and great moisturizer), thermometer, stethoscope, q-tips, baby blankets and anything else we might need for little Charlie.  This way, we had everything we needed easily accessible and ready for us to change Charlie and do our vitals.  Since we weren’t in the hospital, they taught us how to check both Charlie and I’s respiration rate, pulse, temperature, and other important vitals.  I have to admit, it was pretty fun playing Dr. with Chris;)  Another awesome thing the ladies did was take notes the entire time.  They noted when my contractions were and what they were like, all the important transitions and different things we said and did and different stages of labor. I thought that was neat that we get to have those kind of things recored.

Big sister Norah holding her little sister for the first time!

Charlie’s right ear had this cute little pointed tip, but after  few minutes it was gone:)

Charlie’s first bath in our kitchen sink:)

Getting those sweet little footprints

Fun fact: did you know that vernix, the protective covering of the baby’s skin, has lots of antimicrobial properties protecting baby from infections and is uber moisturizing for both momma and baby.

I am so thankful we got to have this experience.  I contribute this first to God’s faithfulness.  I believe the comfort I experienced in our home along with the comfort Michelle and Rebecca brought with their natural techniques played a huge role in this experience as well.    Michelle and Rebecca, along with Chris and my mom, were so encouraging and empowering and made me feel that, not only was I able to have a natural delivery, but that my body was created to do so.  The best way I can describe our experience is that it was supernatural.  Not only was it easy, but it was FUN! Thank you so much to everyone who encouraged us and prayed for us during our whole pregnancy and through this process.  Chris and I are so grateful for all of the encouragers in our lives!  Charlie is such a blessing and we are so excited to watch Norah grow into her new role as a big sister!   Chris and I understand that everybody’s circumstances are different and home birth might not be the experience for everybody, but we would highly recommend at least researching home birth, and your natural birthing options if you are interested.

Norah’s Birth Story

The Week Of:

The day we were blessed with Norah Grace was quite the day…Let me rephrase…Quite the 2 days…  I’ll start with the week of her arrival.  The plan was to call my mom and have her come to Kansas once my labor had started.  However, my mom had an intuition that Norah would be joining us before my due date and my doctor told us that she was expecting me to have a very fast labor, so my mom decided to come early.  I was already 70% effaced, dilated to a 4, and Norah was positioned at 0 station, so I really thought labor would be fast too.  My mom and little brother came down for the week and she was determined for me to have Norah by my due date, September 4th… and so was I! I was HUGE! Like, HUGE, HUGE!  I gained 60 pounds during my pregnancy and I’m sure only 30 of it was baby:) I was SO ready to meet little Norah and say goodbye to the extra pounds!  I could hardly walk at this point:) Determined to kickstart my labor, we went all out while my mom was here. She bought lots of chocolate, black licorice, stocked my freezer with hot wings and greasy food, got me blue cohosh ( an herb commonly used by midwives to help bring on contractions), primrose oil to ripen my cervix, and red raspberry leaf tea to strengthen my uterus.  She encouraged me to do anything and EVERYTHING she could think of to help Norah get here.  We watched funny youtube videos because supposedly a good laugh should help contractions,  then we watched sad movies because we read maybe a good cry would kick start things.  Anytime we were sitting around that week my mom made me sit on my exercise ball and bounce to try to start things.  She was hilarious! I absolutely loved having her here! Chris and I went for lots of walks, curb walked, and did all kinds of fun things to try and kickstart labor;)   Well, every night that week we thought Norah was coming.  Around 7:00 every night I would start having crazy strong contractions.  Chris would pull out his guitar and play worship music while I would sit in my rocking chair and rock through the contractions.  We were convinced she would be coming, and then about 4 hours into the contractions they would stop. UGGHH… I was very discouraged after 4 nights of this.  One of the reasons my mom wanted Norah to get here by my due date was my younger sister Heather was due with her little girl and my mom needed to get back home to Colorado for her birth as well. (They ended up being born only 4 days apart!) 

My sweet Niece

During this week of Norah’s birth, both of Chris grandparents went to be with the Lord.  It was very sad but also an amazing blessing the way they went.  They went two days apart and both very peacefully. They were married over 50 years, raised 7 healthy kids, and have grandkids and great grandkids a plenty! God is so gracious!  Their funeral was to be held Saturday morning and Chris was asked to be a pallbearer.  

Day I:

Well, on September 1st, the day Chris was suppose to be in his Grandparent’s funeral, I was woken up at 5:30am by a sudden gush in my bed.  I thought, great! I just peed myself, which wouldn’t have been that surprising:)  Thank goodness we were advised to  put trash bags under our sheets! I sat up and then realized maybe my water had broken. I woke Chris up and told him my water had broken or I had just peed myself.  I stood up and well, my water BROKE!!! There was water everywhere! It wouldn’t stop!  Every time I would step, there was more water! It was hilarious! I woke my mom up and the three of us were in hysterics!  We were laughing so hard which only made more of a mess:) My water broke in the bathroom, in the kitchen, in our living room, in the laundry room, in the car on the way to the hospital, and my favorite…All over the parking lot in the way to the hospital!  Not at all embarrassing:)  I wasn’t in any pain but, I could feel my contractions.  We had taken bradley method classes and had been advised what to do in this situation.  Chris, my birthing coach, made me drink a gatorade and eat a healthy breakfast before we went to the hospital.  He juiced me some fresh orange juice for me to drink after delivery.  Fresh orange juice is a great recovery drink!  We packed extra gatorade, honey sticks, and healthy treats to snack on for energy during labor. I know this is a no-no, but I am SO thankful we did this! Little did we know, we were in for quite the experience, and no pack of 2 lil’ crackers was gonna cut it!   We got all checked in and everyone was so nice, but acted surprised I was in such high spirits.  I didn’t stop joking throughout the entire process.  Whenever I get scared or uncomfortable, humor seems to be the antidote, so I thought as long as I could keep laughing, I wouldn’t get too scared and for the most part, it definitely worked! 

When I got all hooked up, the nurse informed me that my contractions were strong and only 3 minutes apart!  I had no idea!  I had been praying for a pain free delivery and so far, I was having one!  I stayed active for the first…day:) I would have to get in bed every hour for monitoring and this was my least favorite part.  My nurses were amazing! They were so funny and kind and one nurse even me a giant twix to enjoy after Norah’s arrival.  That twix was SO good:) I know they were only doing their jobs, but I hated my IV and the monitors. They would apologize every time they hooked me up.  The IV and monitoring bothered me more than my contractions.  It seemed like every time I would get int the bed, my labor would stop.  I was so frustrated to the point of tears.  Well, about 10 hours into labor, I started having serious pain, the good stuff.  I had been having contactions all day but now they were staring to get real serious!  Some of them were peaking all the way to the top of the monitoring screen! I had company all day which I think helped me manage my pain.  A lot of the girls from my bible study were stopping by with gifts and plenty of labor humor.  Those girls made my entire pregnancy experience such a blast! Between the surprise chocolate milks, fat jokes, and incredible  prayer, I wouldn’t want it any other way!  (Thank you ladies!)

(Our last picture as a family of 2!)

So, back to labor.  I thought surely Norah would be here any minute but after at least 20 hours I was still at a 4!  WHAT?!  I couldn’t believe I hadn’t progressed past that point after a day of labor.  Well, I finally got to a 7 and that’s where things really got hard… I felt like I was in transition for days! I did not want an epidural and although I was in an incredible amount of pain, I never asked for meds.  We prayed, played lots of worship music, tried several birthing positions, and used bradley method pain management suggestions.  Around midnight my contractions got nuts! They were non-stop and I was having contractions on top of contractions with no break in between. OUCH!   There was about 5 hours that I went into a trance that I don’t really remember but, Chris tells me after seeing me this way, I terrify him.  I began shaking uncontrollably and this lasted for several hours.  Well, I finally hit 24 hours since my water had broken.  I couldn’t believe I had been in labor for this long.  I didn’t understand how this could be, especially since I had been expecting a fast delivery.  My mom and Chris were amazing! They stayed up with me through all of this.  They alternated rubbing my back, legs and arms, tickling my feet, playing with my hair, and praying over me.  My primary love language is physical touch and I wanted it more than ever during labor.   We originally were not going to let anyone else in the room with us, but I turned into a giant momma’s girl and am so glad she was there.  My mom was so encouraging and whenever I would get scared, she knew exactly what to do.

Thanks mom!

Day II:


At 26 hours of labor, I began to run a fever.  This is not so good.  The doctor kept letting me try to have Norah with no medical intervention, but once I hit 28 hours she decided she needed to intervene.  She hooked me up to some antibiotics to protect Norah from any infection.  My body had grown so week at this point.  I was EXHAUSTED!  I was still having contractions but I wasn’t appearing to progress at all.  Fearing that I would be too weak to push once Norah did arrive, the doctor gave me the choice of getting an epidural to help me rest or C-section… NO!!! I had gone this far to reach this point?  I was devastated.  I bursted into tears when they told me this.  I wanted so badly to have a completely natural delivery.  I felt like a little kid hearing I was going to get a spanking and wanting to do anything to avoid it.  I asked them if there was anything else I could do, but the doctor’s said at this point, these were the only options they felt comfortable with.  This definitely wash not in my birth plan.  I  now know, I was actually very lucky.  Most doctor’s would not have let me try this long.  I remember looking at Chris and being overwhelmed with fear and disappointment.   I was terrified to get an epidural. I cried so hard as they administered it and I felt so defeated.  However, it worked, and the rest it provided was great.  As they laid me back into the bed, I crashed.  I fell right asleep.  I woke up 2 hours later, the doctor was checking me and I was ready to go! She asked me how I felt about a 10 and 100%.  Oh man, I was psyched! Apparently rest really was what my body needed.  They gave me the lowest dose of medicine in my epidural that they could, but my legs were still pretty numb when it was time to push.  Chris and my mom held my legs and after pushing only 5 times, SHE WAS HERE!!! At 11:32am, after 30 hours of labor, Norah Grace Pahls was laid on my chest!   AHHH!!! It was AMAZING!!! I didn’t even care that she was all messy.  I covered her in kisses, which looking back was maybe a little gross:)  She was perfect! Her little cry was SO cute!  Like a little velociraptor:)  I pulled her up to my chest and she started breastfeeding almost immediately!  It was the most incredible thing I had ever experienced.  It was perfect!  Everything around me faded and all I can remember in that moment was, Norah…Our sweet little Norah, whom we have prayed over and anticipated like nothing before, was in my arms!!!  That moment changed our lives in the most incredible way.  



 I gained feeling back in my body almost immediately so I was able to get up and move around.  I got to enjoy the delicious orange Juice Chris had juiced me the day before…SO Delicious!  Chris gave Norah her first bath and everything else they were able to do in our room.  Chris’s parents showed up and ordered me the BEST…I’m talking, THE BEST pizza I had ever had. I love food, but I have never enjoyed food like that!  

I am so thankful for everyone who helped take part in this special time in our lives.  My awesome husband, incredible mom, family, friends, the young ladies, our church family who covered me in prayer, and the incredible staff at Salina Regional Health and Mowery Clinic.  Although, things didn’t go how I had planned, God taught me so much through this experience and, like always, He provided and blessed us with a precious, beautiful, healthy girl!!!