Wednesday, May 24, 2017

A Family of Almost 5

Maternity photos are one of my favorite parts of pregnancy. Honestly, a lot of the time I feel frumpy and uncomfortable, but in these pictures, I feel beautiful and happy. There's a special kind of joy and excitement that comes with expecting a baby (read my last pregnancy update here, by the way), and I love being able to look back on this time.

Now that time is coming to an end, and it's so bittersweet. Wish us luck tomorrow. In less than a week, we'll be taking pictures as a family of 5!

Photos by our sweet friend Jessica Southfield

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

7 Simple Yoga Stretches for Pregnancy

This is the yoga that saved my life (or at least my back) this pregnancy, so I'm sharing it in hopes that it can help someone else, too.

I'm not a yoga expert, by any means. I've taken a few classes, but I'm not sure I'm using all the right terms here, or if my positions are technically correct. What I do know is that doing these stretches every night before bed helps me relax and fall asleep faster with so much less pain. (I mentioned in my last post about this pregnancy that I've dealt with some pretty bad back pain.) I also try to start my morning with at least a couple of these stretches, which has an amazing way of calming and energizing me at the same time. 

I'm sharing just 7 simple yoga-inspired stretches, so they're easy to remember, and you can do them all in about 5 minutes. If you want to spend more time, you can take as long as you like on each stretch, or go back and repeat any or all of the stretches. 

But first, here are a few tips that have helped me make the most of my routine:

Tips for Stretching

Don't count to 10. Instead, concentrate on inhaling and exhaling deeply, and count your breaths. It helps me to close my eyes and breath through my nose. I try to hold each stretch for at least 3 slow breaths, or sometimes longer. 

Observe every sensation. Think about where you feel the stretch, and this will help calm your mind, too. Are your joints aching? Try straightening your spine and relaxing your body as much as possible. You should feel a gentle, deep stretch, not burning or aching. If it hurts, stop right away, or adjust your position. 

Stretch on a soft surface like carpet, or on a yoga mat or blanket if you have a hard floor. You can even sit on a pillow if you need extra cushioning.

Experiment. You don't have to be a yoga expert, and you don't have to do these positions exactly the same way every time. You might want to roll your shoulders or neck, or move your arms around more. If it helps you relax and relieves some of your stress and pain, then it's working. I'd definitely suggest Googling images of prenatal yoga poses or YouTube videos with simple routines you can try at home. A class is great if you can get out of the house for one! I took a class at my local hospital during my other pregnancies and loved it. 

But I've also learned not to wait until I can make it to a class or turn on a half-hour-long video. I still try to do that when I can, but spending just 5 or 10 minutes a day has made a huge difference. If you try out this routine, let me know how it goes! Happy stretching!

7 Simple Yoga Stretches for Pregnancy

#1: Stand/Salute the Sun
In yoga, "sun salutation" can be an entire sequence of poses, but for our purposes, simply stand with your hands together at your heart and inhale deeply. Then reach up with your arms and face as you exhale, like you're looking up at sun. Repeat for 3 or more breaths.

#2: Lunge/Warrior Pose
As you reach up to "salute the sun," step out with one leg (making sure your knee doesn't extend over your toes), and stretch your arms out horizontally. Relax your shoulders, straighten your spine over your hips, and sit back into your tailbone. Feel the stretch as you inhale and exhale deeply. Hold for 3 or more breaths, then switch legs and repeat.

#3: Down Dog
From warrior pose, reach down over your knee to touch the ground with both hands, then step back with that leg so that both feet are behind you. (Sometimes I have to get on my hands and knees first, and then push up to this pose.) Let your head hang between your arms, and push your tailbone back and up, so that your wrists aren't supporting your entire weight. You should feel a stretch from your lower back through your backside and legs. Breath slowly and deeply, then try slightly bending each knee in rhythm with your breaths, for as long as it's comfortable. 

#4: Cat Stretch
Bend both knees so that you're in a crawling position on the floor. As you inhale, let your belly drop and look up. As you exhale, pull your belly up toward your spine and tuck your chin to your chest. Repeat with slow, deep breaths at least 3 times. You can also try stretching your hips by drawing a big letter "o" with your tailbone.

#5: Child's Pose
Still in crawling position, spread your knees and drop your chest toward the floor. You can fold your arms and rest your forehead there, or stretch your arms out in front of you and tuck your chin. Relax your body and feel the stretch. Breath deeply and hold for at least 3 breaths or as long as it's comfortable.

#6: Seated Side Stretch 
Sit up and stretch your legs out in front of you. Bring one foot in toward and bend over the leg that's still outstretched. Inhale and exhale slowly for 3 or more breaths, then switch and stretch the opposite side.

#7: Lotus
Sit with both feet tucked in and relax your body. You can hold your hands at your heart or rest them on your knees. Try to keep your mind clear as you breath deeply and slowly.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Just Another Day as a Stay at Home Mom

I get up and shower while my 3-year-old watches Bob the Builder. I wonder to myself if it's good for him to watch TV first thing in the morning, but I know it's the only calm time I'll have all day long, so I finish up and kneel to pray for strength and kindness today. I get dressed and consider putting on shorts, but I didn't have time to shave my legs, and apparently it's winter again. Jeans and a cardigan it is.

My 1-year-old is crying in her crib, so I lift her out and snuggle her. Then I pin her down with all of my upper body strength and change her diaper while she screams "noooo!" I tape it for good measure like always. My two toddlers sit on the counter and push the buttons on the blender while I make smoothies for breakfast. Fifteen minutes later, we finish; I congratulate myself on not losing it and text my husband to suggest getting me a new blender for Mother's Day. While I try to come to terms with the fact that my gift of choice is a small kitchen appliance, I grab a tissue to stop a gushing bloody nose. She must have been picking it again.

Before I sit down to my own breakfast, I see bibs and spilled smoothie on the floor, and I know if I don't get that purple stain out of her pajamas right now, it's there to stay. So I stop and scrub, and it still doesn't come out. I set it by the sink to dry when my 3-year-old runs into the bathroom screaming for help. I try to calm him down and reassure him that he can do this. Sit and wait, I tell him, and I'll be sitting just a few feet away at the table. I wash my hands before I eat my toast, because I always feel germy after being in the bathroom. Before I can finish my toast, he starts screaming again and I go in and pray with him. We clasp our hands and ask God for help going potty. Pooping is hard work.

While I finish eating and start on the breakfast dishes, he decides to try again later. She decides to take off her diaper (apparently the tape didn't stop her), and I chase her down to tape on a new one. I'm going to need more tape, I think to myself. I go back to the sink to give the pitcher full of sticky smoothie a quick rinse, and then abandon the rest of the dishes to dress my nearly naked children.

My mom texts me to ask if we can Facetime; I realize it's almost 10, and I'm late for a FaceTime call with a friend. I see the open note on my phone, too--a blog post I'm working on called "Positive Affirmations for Christian Moms" and laugh to myself. I finish getting everyone dressed and put my 1-year-old's wild hair in pigtails while she plays with the closed bag of hair bands. Her sweet big brother wants to help her, and approximately 400 tiny clear hair bands spill onto the carpet. We make a game of cleaning them up as fast as we can, then I coach him through the process of making his bed while I finish his sister's hair. I decide to ignore my own unmade bed for the moment, and I talk to my friend for the few minutes she has left while I change a poopy diaper.

My kids settle down to watch Leap Frog Phonics Farm, and I leave to tackle my bed...and because I can't stand to listen to that show. My mom and I Facetime while I straighten the sheets, but before I can get the pillows on, I hear shrieks and have to run to break up a hugging fight. I decide to start on the laundry and finish the dishes while I FaceTime so I can keep a closer eye on those two. We say goodbye right as my phone dies, then I throw some sandwiches, fruit and cheese on the table for lunch because we have to leave in a few minutes for a meet-and-greet with my 3-year-old's preschool teacher. I briefly consider the possibility of lunch for myself other than half-eaten PB and J. The breakfast dishes are still in the sink, and my phone is barely charged. 

We get shoes on, and I realize my 1-year-old has a new stain on her shirt and grapefruit in her hair, but there's no time do anything about it. Five minutes later, everyone is buckled into their seats for our two-minute drive to the school. I was going to walk, but it's raining.

It's fun meeting his teacher and exploring the school. She has no problem with the kids dragging out all the blocks and books and puzzles. I sit down and we chat about my new baby coming and how she remembers being a mom with little ones. 

When we get back to the car, my 3-year-old asks to go the library for the twentieth time this week. I always have a reason to say no, but today I think, why not? I try not to think about herding two toddlers around the library and parking lot with a pregnant belly and an armful of books. It will be fun for them, I tell myself. And it is fun, even though we spend half the time in the bathroom, trying to go again. Still no luck. As we get ready to leave, I use a generous amount of hand sanitizer on all of our hands and try not to cry when my 3-year-old drops all the books on my toes. 

It's raining, and I'm wet and cold and tired when we get back to the car. It doesn't feel like summer, but I know they both need summer clothes, and I might not have another chance to go shopping before the baby comes. We head to the consignment store, vowing to make it a quick trip. 

They play in the play area (thank goodness for the play area) while I shop, until my 3-year-old starts screaming. He runs--I waddle with his little sister in my arms--across the store to the bathroom. The toilet's too tall for him. He asks, why don't they have kid-size toilets here? Good question. It's another false alarm, so we all wash our hands and head back to the play area and my abandoned shopping cart. 

I'm almost done when he starts screaming again, so I follow him to the bathroom for probably the tenth time today, but this time he manages to climb on the potty and go before I even get there. I'm bursting with pride and relief. We all wash our hands (for probably the tenth time today), and get ready to check out. She starts crying because she wants to wear the jelly sandals we're buying right now

All of us are exhausted when we get home, and I wonder, why am I bringing more stuff into my already messy house? I see the breakfast dishes still in the sink. The wet laundry still in the washer. My bed still half-made. I unload the car with the books and clothes while the kids eat a snack at the table. We pick out a couple of our new library books to read and snuggle together on the couch. When they're both finally asleep in their beds, I collapse on the couch and try to decide if I should finish the dishes and laundry or take a nap.

I choose a nap.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Baby #3 is Almost Here + 5 Ways I'm Getting Ready

I'm 9 months pregnant, so I guess now is a good time for an update, right? I feel like I've been pregnant FOREVER, and yet it's flown by so fast...I can hardly believe I'll be holding my new baby in my arms in less than 3 weeks! With every pregnancy, I like to write down a few things to remember and look back on later (like I did with Caleb here and Lydia here).

at 7 months pregnant

I've learned a lot about myself this pregnancy. The thing is, I find myself waiting to see what God has in store for us next, when maybe now is the time for ME to decide that.

For almost 6 years, I couldn't get pregnant and stay pregnant no matter what I tried. Now suddenly (it seems), I'm up to my eyeballs in dirty diapers and laundry. We've moved houses or changed jobs every year for the last 8 years, and even though Ben seems to finally be in a permanent position, his work schedule is still pretty hectic. I feel like we're still trying to catch our breaths and "figure things out."

at 8 a typical day with two toddlers

I guess that's what I've learned though, is that I'm never really going to "figure things out," and all I can do is my best every day.  And I can be happy with that. Now don't get me wrong. It's not that I would change anything, either. It's true that most of our plans haven't worked out like we thought, BUT things have worked out for us. We've been SO incredibly blessed--it's miraculous. And I needed to learn to put God's plans before my own, especially when I felt like I was stepping into the dark.

And I'm where I am now because of the choices I've made, too. I could've never come to Idaho, or refused to stay here, or quit that tough job that kept us out of so much student debt, or given up after 3 or 4 bad experiences with doctors, and never found the one who knew what caused my 3 miscarriages. But I didn't, and through the grace of God, I'm living an amazing life with my beautiful family and my best friend.

I'm learning to embrace the endless messes and crying right along with all the simple joys and laughter. So with that, here's the latest on this pregnancy ( in, it doesn't get any later than this #37weekspregnant)!

But first, here are 5 things on my to-do list right now before our baby girl arrives.

5 Ways I'm Getting Ready for a New Baby

#1: Stock up on staples. 
I've been buying extra of almost everything lately--toilet paper, hair gel, laundry detergent, dry pasta, tortilla chips--anything we might run out of in the next month or two. I'm also planning one last Costco trip this week, and I'll be doubling up on some items so that they'll last us as long as possible. Stocking up like this almost doubles our grocery bill for the month, but we'll be doing a lot less shopping the month after the baby comes, so it balances out. I've already got a few boxes of (tiny!) diapers and wipes ready to go, too!

#2: Store a few freezer meals. 
Along with stocking up, I'm adding a few frozen pizzas and lasagnas to our freezer, especially for when family comes to visit. We don't usually keep paper plates and cups on hand either, but I've got that on my list for my next trip to the store. I'll probably spend an evening making a few homemade freezer meals, too. My quick-and-easy favorites in the past have been enchiladas, chicken divan (I use frozen broccoli to save time and chicken broth instead of sherry) and this creamy noodle bake

#3: Clean the house. 
There's nothing like a bringing a newborn home to a clean house. That way I can relax without having to even think about scrubbing a toilet or mopping a floor for at least a few days (...or live with the mess....or ask someone else to clean it for me...). Of course, what passes for a clean house around here has changed quite a bit since my last baby. Two years ago, with an 18-month-old, I could clean my house once a week or so and it would stay pretty tidy. Now, with a 3-year-old and almost-2-year-old, I could clean all day every day, and my house would STILL be messy. So we're giving everything a good top-to-bottom cleaning, and hoping at least our house won't smell bad by the time we bring the baby home. 

#4: Make some special memories with family and friends. 
I've been soaking up all the baby snuggles I can and making it a point to do fun things with my kids--simple things, like going on walks and eating lunch outside. This weekend, we're planning either a drive to Shoshone Falls or a day at the zoo as a fun family date. Later this week, my friend planned a night out with our girlfriends, instead of a baby shower. And Ben and I are hoping to squeeze in a special date night, or maybe an overnight "staycation" when my parents get here...I'm thinking sleeping in and room service!

#5: Relax
In between all the deep-cleaning and memory-making, I'm trying to put my feet up and take as many power naps as possible. Especially on rainy days, we put on a good movie and snuggle on the couch together. On other days, we sit and read books or swing in the hammock. And I don't have to feel guilty about it one bit, because I have the best excuse for taking it easy!

relaxing (at 5 months) with my babies, my bump and a good book

All About This Pregnancy

How far along?
I'm 37 weeks, so I'm officially 9 months pregnant! I'm delivering in less than 3 weeks on May 25th. My due date is June 1, but my doctor always induces me a week early to lower the risk of hemorrhaging from my blood clotting deficiency. I don't love being induced, but it's nice to have a "deadline."

It's another girl!

Any names?
We're pretty set on Claire.

That profile (at 20 weeks)! She looks like a Claire, don't you think?

Maternity clothes
I raid Ben's t-shirt drawer daily! I'm pretty much always wearing leggings and a cardigan over a loose, stretchy t-shirt. I'm all about casual comfort, so I'm loving these slip-on sneakers from Target--they seriously feel like slippers on my feet, but the best part is that I don't have to bend over to tie the laces! And I've really been missing the t-shirt dress my friend Rachel let me borrow my last pregnancy, but I haven't been able to find one like it that doesn't ride up and show too much thigh for me. Anyone?

THE shoes!

She's slowed down lately, but she gets hiccups about 10 times a day! A couple of weeks ago though, she was kicking me in the sternum. I have no idea how she got her feet up there, but she kept me awake for over an hour that night.  

Excited! I'm feeling only slightly crazy about getting everything "ready" for the baby, but surprisingly, not too much. I'm just trying to relax and enjoy these last few weeks with my family of 4. Like always, I started out this pregnancy feeling pretty anxious and nervous, but I think I've learned to cope with it better this pregnancy.

YES. I sleep like a log...I always have. But instead of waking up every 2 hours to pee, I wake up in the morning in massive pain because my bladder is about to explode. I've had some back pain with this pregnancy too, so that's made falling asleep and waking up more uncomfortable. But I've been fighting my night owl habit, trying to get myself in bed earlier and get as much sleep as possible. I've also been doing 5-10 minutes of yoga at night before bed, plus 5 minutes of meditation using the Calm app while I fall asleep, and that's seriously improved my sleep quality! I can't recommend it enough. 

Weight change
I've gained just under 30 lbs., and it's ALL in front. I was the same way with my last pregnancy--also a girl--but with my little boy, I was pregnant all over. I think I gained almost 50 lbs. with him!

She's ALL in front!

To name a few: breakfast sandwiches, ice cream (I'm usually more of a brownie girl), Chic-fil-A, peanut butter, and carrot sticks. My cravings have been so random this pregnancy. With my first (that I miscarried), I craved seafood. With my little boy, I craved hot dogs, ham sandwiches and savory soups, and with my daughter I craved sugar cookies, donuts and pop-tarts. I guess this baby likes variety!

Any aversions?
Eggs (except on breakfast sandwiches, apparently). I usually love eggs, but I can't ever eat them when I'm pregnant without getting sick.

The best part so far
Gotta love that nesting energy! In the last few weeks, I've been motivated to tackle projects that I've been putting off for years. (But then I have to take extra naps to recover from all that "nesting.") As for the rest of my pregnancy, it sounds silly, but the best part was learning to let things go. I just don't have as much time as I did with my other pregnancies to be either excited or stressed, and the end result has been that I'm more laid back. It's taken a while to get there, though. 

The worst part so far
The back pain. It's been almost unbearable sometimes. I didn't deal with much back pain with my other pregnancies (except at the very end last time), so I have a whole new appreciation for people who deal with this all the time! Some days I couldn't walk or sit or lie down without being in pain, but I started going to a chiropractor a couple of months ago, and WOW. I feel better at 9 months pregnant than I did at 7 months! Between my weekly adjustments and daily yoga routine, my back pain is half what it was.

I wasn't at this stage (7 months), but now I'm feeling pretty good!

Looking forward to...
Feeling "ready." It's an elusive feeling, I know, but I'm not quite ready for this baby to come yet. I am ready to have the house put together and the hospital bag packed and all those last-minute projects checked off, but I'm still getting there. I'm excited for my family to visit, too! And imagining that moment when I'll hold her for the first time is what keeps me going every day.