Project 31: The First Anniversary of My 30th Birthday

I’m pretty sure this was the first time I’ve ever actually been truly surprised.

But let me back up a bit, because the story is really in everything that led up to this moment. or just scroll down for photos

A couple weeks before, I was wearing my husband’s Garmin watch, basically to show off to him how many steps I assumed I took in a day as a full-time mommy… however he forgot to turn off the bluetooth that has it connected to his texts and emails. Well, as I’m standing in the kitchen, my arm buzzes and my mom’s name pops up with the subject “Project 31” and I look at my husband who quickly turns off the bluetooth. It only took me a few seconds to think they must be planning something for my 31st birthday. Everyone who knows me, knows I truly love surprises, so I made myself not think of the possibilities.

Now reading that first statement, you may think I’m crazy…

Fast forward to the weekend of and I haven’t seen or heard anything else – maybe that’s because, as I learned afterward, my husband changed my mom’s and best friend’s names in his phone to men’s names, Terry Groke (Torrie) and Clay Oar (Claire), to throw me off incase I saw anymore messages coming through! Haha!! Saturday morning (the day before my actual birthday), I’m nursing the baby in bed and KR runs into my room and says, “Stay in bed!” and scurries away again. Then comes a beautiful parade of my parents (who got in town the day before), my husband and my girls carrying a tray of a cinnamon roll with a candle lit in it and a hot cup of coffee (they know the way to my heart) with a card with #1 written on the envelope. After I read it, I immediately thought, “This is what ‘Project 31’ meant”, although I was a little confused. Written, was a riddle, and I was only able to figure out that we were having mimosas, but that’s basically my favorite way to start a Saturday… ok, really any day, so I was excited! We enjoyed a wonderful brunch at Black Sheep, one of the best rooftop restaurants on the river in Jax (in my opinion), and at the end of our meal, an envelope with #2 showed up in front of me…

“Fingers and toes, everybody knows, a day of pampering begins with these!”

Now, something that requires me to be gone for a couple hours and my husband to have all the kiddos, definitely requires a heads-up, so I was now sure this was the culmination of ‘Project 31’. I guess all of them understood it was my birthday because no one cried or begged to come along when we departed!

After my first mani/pedi sans kids in years – I’m talking at least 3 –  I’m getting ready to head home when another card with #3 is handed to me. You guys have to know how creative and thoughtful my mom is – she’s absolutely who I get it from.

“If we’re going to get it right, a light bite and an outfit for the night, must be the next adventure in sight”

I value our time together so much & she’s honestly one of my favorite people to hang out with, so I was so happy our day wasn’t over yet! I truly hope and pray that I have the true friendship with my children when they’re adults that I have with her. Even after a cocktail, being the over-thinker I am, just telling me to “get something you feel great in” was not enough information! I needed to know more , but knowing how important surprises are to me and not wanting to give it away, she just hands me another envelope with #4 written on it and says, “Here, maybe this will help.”

“Sweet fruit of the tree, fruit of the vine, ending the night with nibble to delight”

I looked at her with a blank stare… This is also the moment I realized I’m terrible at riddles unless they’re completely obvious. So then she says, “Well, maybe your husband is wanting to take you on a date to a nice restaurant tonight .” to which I replied, “You didn’t have to tell me the surprise!!” I know I sound ridiculous, just wait… I now decide on this amazing dress (which happens to be on major sale now) and we head home to get ready. Pretty quickly I’m giving marching orders, telling my parents they  need to get going so they can get the kids fed and back home to bed on time. I know, I know… basically the moment I recovered from my shock and surprise, I felt bad and we had a good laugh about it…

 

So here it is, the most thoughtful celebration of my life through a few photos…

 

Invitation design
The super talented designer behind Loved Baby Designs happens to be a lifelong friend of mine, and she nailed it as always, even though I didn’t see this until after

 

Curated Menu
 As I looked over the menu, I was told Zach was who I could thank for the amazing menu selection. For a little behind-the-scenes detail, I ordered the Herb Crusted NY Strip, Zach ordered the Blackened Atlantic Salmon, and we shared both – which he knows is my favorite thing to do!!

I suddenly figured out the last riddle when I saw the menu with wine pairings… “Sweet fruit of the tree (Candy APPLE Cafe), fruit of the vine (WINE)!!!

 

Moment of surprise
The look of genuine surprise… It might be blurry, but it reminds me that my dad was there to capture this moment. And looking at this brings me right back to that moment of seeing so many of my friends and family waiting for me when I walked in.

 

This night was the first time I realized how many great friends I’ve made in the 2 short years we’ve lived here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I didn’t want to let go… I couldn’t believe she was here – she lives over 8 hours away people!!

 

Here she is… the bestie who drove all this way, with these giant balloons in the back of her car, because she knows me so well that I would want a good photo op!

I have to point out my favorite part about this picture though – do you see that guy back there and the way he’s looking at me?! Yep, ‘nough said…

 

Mommy Daughter posing with 31
Her mismatched socks… my heart.

 

 

Mommy with The Kraze posing in front of 31
I’m so thankful that the group who pulled this off, knows my heart well enough to know how much it would mean to me for my children to be a part of the experience… although we quickly sent them off to bed after they finished their dinner.

 

Trying to get me to stop being mommy long enough to decide what I want to order

 

My seriously wonderful, fun, supportive and dedicated parents… married almost 35 years!

 

My mother-in-law DROVE 9 hours to be here, so she could take the kids home and put them to bed because my husband couldn’t find a babysitter! The blessing of a wonderful MIL is not to be underestimated!!

 

3 generation photo
I’m told I look so much like my mom, and I know this little bit looks just like me when I was a little girl – I love that we captured a 3 generation photo!

 

So Candy Apple shares their building with this amazing “million dollar” candy store and the 2nd floor has ice-cream… Every time we’ve gone to this restaurant and Pops is in town, the 3 of them get ice-cream as soon as they’re finished with their dinner and tonight was no exception.

 

Group Photo
I was amazed this many friends showed up for me and without a baby on someone’s hip! Well except me, but even he is smiling… but that little red-faced girl who dropped her rainbow lollipop and cracked it just moments before this photo was taken – don’t worry, Pops got her a new one… grandparents!

 

Cheesecake decorated
Y’all, I love cheesecake so much that I wanted it as my wedding cake. Taking everyone’s advice but going against my better judgement, I opted for the traditional. A renewal will happen again one day (we just celebrated our 9 year anniversary so maybe next year for the decade mark) and I will have a giant 3-tier  cheesecake. For now, I’ll take it for my birthday every year!

 

 

Making a wish
Every time I make a wish, I actually say a prayer. Anyone else? It just doesn’t feel right – who in the world am I sending my wish to?

 

 

When you’re 40 weeks pregnant on your 30th birthday, THIS is how those who love you most, totally, absolutely make up for it, although it was 100% unexpected and not necessary! I am forever grateful and humbled by the love and effort that was put into this.

 

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Celebrating Summer: Perspective Not Perfection but 3 ways to make it better

Today we’re kicking off an all-new series on TwoShadesofKraze.com – one I’ve been dreaming up for awhile, and I couldn’t be more excited to share it with you. At the beginning of the year, I finally said yes to a nudging God’s had in my heart since we moved here, now 2 years ago, to use the blessing of our house to serve whoever He would send my way. I had no idea (still don’t) what I’m doing. What would I talk about? I can hardly keep my house clean enough for us to live here, much less have people over on a consistent basis! I relent and am embracing that obedience is more important than perfection. There’s nothing I love more than the connection and encouragement I pour into and receive from moms in different places and stages of motherhood. So… I started a mom’s group with this really great group of moms that God, no doubt, placed in my life. Every other week, we share brunch and an encouraging word around my dining room table. Here I’ll let you sneak a glimpse into the conversation and food we share…and with this series, I’ll uncover little entertaining secrets and what’s on the menu for each week, and we’ll call it Brunch with ME (Moms Encouragement). I can’t imagine a more fitting time to kickoff our first post than the first day of summer (ok, it’s officially the first weekend of summer now, but we’re not striving for perfection here, remember).

 

For as long as I can remember, summer has always been my favorite time of year. Summer meant lake days that lasted until the sun went down (in Texas that was until 9:30 at night), eating outside for almost every meal, beach trips, fruity drinks, a great tan… And one of my favorite days of the year, my birthday is smack dab in the middle of summer! More than anything, I’ve found myself being more spontaneous, free and positive during the summer, when I’m at my best.

For three very special reasons, summertime is a bit different now. The days are still long but some day are loooonng (I know you feel me mamas)

Let’s take a poll….

  • Are you the “Make it Monday”… “Water Wednesday” with an activity planned for each day kind of summer mom?
  • Or do you like to plan multiple activities (camps, trips, etc) over the summer but leave a little room for spontaneity?
  • Anybody like to keep summer wide open for 3 straight months of ‘who knows what we’re going to get into’?!

“Kenzi pre-kids” was person #3 – that was the life of being married, both working, no kids (we were the definition of DINKs – Double Income No Kids), so any free time we had, we were spontaneous and adventurous! Now with 3 children, there’s no way I’m going to step into 3 months of having no idea what the heck we’re going to be doing. Option number one would make me feel completely trapped by “Water Wednesdays” when I want to go to the beach on a Tuesday. As silly as that sounds, I know myself well enough that if I’ve chosen to implement this, I would feel so uneasy to stray from it. What’s best for me is right in the middle… planning as much as possible to know ahead of time how our weeks will be spent, but leaving enough freedom for days to spontaneously check off our summer bucket list.

No matter what works best for you, as moms, summer can be busy and complicated, exhilarating and exhausting…but I’ve learned that I can still be my best self by holding on to what I’ve always loved most about summer.

3 Things I’ve learned over 5 summers of motherhood:

Please know I’m sharing my own experiences, which will look different for each of you based on where you are in your journey and what works best for your family.

  1. Set expectations
    • Before your children can weigh in, set the expectations with your husband. He needs to know if you’re going to go mad if you don’t have at least one outing a week planned or something of the like. Once they’re old enough, give them boundaries and let them know what needs to happen/ not happen in order for you to not lose it have the best summer possible. A couple examples from our house: 1) After breakfast, take your plates to the sink, brush your teeth and make your bed. (I could and might do an entire post on the morning routine and why) 2) Put away the first thing before getting out another to play with.
  2. Write down fun things do as well as goals
    • This is the first year I was able to involve The Kraze in coming up with a list. I got my big white board and they each chose a color marker to represent themselves. I wanted to be able to keep up with whose ideas belonged to who, so everyone got an equal voice (talking over each other is a real struggle ) and I can be intentional about scheduling in their ideas as equally as possible. It was so much fun to hear their ideas, and my biggest takeaway is that kids don’t really ask for much. A few items included “pet cute puppies”,  “bake a key lime pie”and “meet a friend at the park” (ok, there are a couple “Disney World” and “SeaWorld”). See the full list in Stories.
    • Lists and goals keep me grounded, especially in such an unstructured season. This summer I wanted to be intentional about teaching them the important things like tying their shoes, hanging upside down on the monkey bars and reading. Yes, even teaching them to read. It’s so fulfilling to help them achieve something they’re proud of, plus, the intentional time is invaluable.
  3. Keep perspective
    • Summer is so fleeting – the days will become notably shorter and the kids will go back to school before we know it. I recently told my husband that I’m overwhelmed with the feeling that everything that annoys me right now are going to be the things I’ll miss.  These truly are the days… The days are long, the sun is shining, we’re all together, and they actually beg to wash your car for you.

 

Perspective not perfection

Colossians 3:17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

This verse isn’t referring to special circumstances. God knows we we’ll spend a whole lot more of our time in ordinary moments than we will in the extraordinary ones.  Whether we’re at work, taking care of our children, talking with a friend, or even cleaning our house, it’s clear that WHATEVER we do and whatever we say…we are to do it and say it in the name of Jesus.

Over the summer, we’ll have way more ordinary days than special, planned out days and while we can talk about keeping perspective and giving thanks to God in all of it, I don’t believe that means we can’t feel human. “in the name of the Lord and giving thanks to God” doesn’t mean I’m to be happy in every moment of motherhood. Some days we’ll feel like super mom and some days we’ll feel like giving up… Some days we’ll be thanking God for every little moment and some days we’ll be thanking God that he’s there to lean on…  We can be grateful for these amazing blessings and be absolutely over it at the same time… if it were easy, if it were nothing but bliss, would we remember we need to lean on God – would we remember that our strength comes from Him and not our own power? 

Sometimes it’s ok to say “we’ll try again tomorrow” because God’s grace is new each day… with a few more hours of sunshine to enjoy your little ones!

 

Photo Cred: Southernboy Dishes

On the Menu

To maintain a no-pressure vibe, everyone brings a shareable dish if they’re coming, so we’re sure there’s enough food for everyone. 1) You make whatever sounds good and is doable for you 2) No biggie if you were up all night with the baby and you can’t get out of the door that morning

Drinks: Coffee (this will be the first thing you see on the menu every week – obviously a must with a group of moms) + a variety of creamers and sugar and OJ

Mozzarella, Tomato Bruschetta

Cinnamon Rolls

Banana Bread

Blueberry Scones

*Clearly everyone was feeling carbs this day!!

 

I’d love to know what summer plans you have with your kiddos??

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Turning THREE with Minnie

So once upon a time, I thought I’d start an event styling business. I still may. I actually still believe in my vision for it very much – it just didn’t feel like the timing was right… At the time of this party, I shared all the details here, but I want it to have a home here with all their other parties before I move on to the next celebrations. So we’re going waaaaayy back to when The Kraze turned THREE.

I had so much fun planning this one! Mickey Mouse Clubhouse was a definite favorite at the time, but I had a deeper meaning behind the execution of this one. We’ll get to that. Being that Minnie was their favorite character and pink and purple were (are still) their favorite colors, we turned it into a MINNIE Mouse Clubhouse Road Rally (based on this episode). I’m breaking down all the details because there was a lot more strategic planning for this one because of what was surrounding the event. Scroll all the way down to the finish line to find out!

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Our Snow Tubing Adventure!

Overlooking the slopes

We were feeling a bit home sick, so we decided to go back to Atlanta to do some of our favorite holiday traditions. We started going to the Stone Mountain Christmas Village as a family Christmas tradition back in 2013 when the girls were barely over one – but we’ve never done the “Snow Mountain” tubing before.  This year, we felt like The Kraze was finally old enough to have fun doing it, and there’s always room to add a new tradition around the holidays. Experiencing things through the eyes of my children, just makes it so much more fun too!

Atlanta is almost a halfway point between my parents’ and our house, so we decided to have them join us here to “have Christmas” together. The morning we were going to Stone Mountain, we pretended it was Christmas and walked across the hall in our pjs to open presents in their room while sipping mimosas (just orange juice for the girls of course). It was such a simple time before all the excitement of the day, but left such sweet memories in my heart.

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Baby Boy’s Newborn Photos and Nursery Details

 

I’m just going to start out by saying, this newborn photo session did not go as planned. I had the baby nice and cozy and asleep for the photographer to arrive, but when she did (I was back in our bathroom finishing my hair) the girls got so excited they ran to the nursery and flipped the bleeping light on, shouting “Here he is! Here’s our new baby brother – isn’t he cuuuuuute?!” I hurried in there and they were already bent over his crib and had startled him awake. And he was not happy. So most of those precious sleeping baby poses I had planned didn’t happen.

However, looking at these images, I’m reminded that sometimes it works out just fine that things don’t go as planned…

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My Word for 2018

I’ve been praying this prayer over the past several months, and when it came to choosing a word for 2018, this prayer popped in my mind and one word stuck out to me as the theme:

Purpose

To know who to be, where to be and what to be in the season I’m in.

To not run from season to season so busy and missing what’s most important.

To have a holy anticipation about the future so that I live each day like it matters.

To be a woman who lives (and loves) intentionally.

To seek God’s way and not my own.

What is my piece of the puzzle?? (not what do I want to do with my life but what will He have me do)

To live out my purpose.

To live life on purpose.

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Last Minute Gift Guide for Baby

Although he won’t remember it, I’m so excited for our baby boy’s first Christmas! Every first is just so special, and two years ago all I wanted for Christmas was an opportunity to have another baby and HE’S HERE!! Some say baby is too little for Christmas presents, but there are several things I want for him and this is the perfect opportunity to check off my own wish list for him. Most of these aren’t necessarily toys, but developmental items that I think he and I will both enjoy.  Best part about this list is if you’ve waited until the last minute to shop or feel like you just need one or two more items to round out your gift giving, all of these items can still make it in time for Christmas (most with FREE shipping)!!

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Playtime Pals Activity Chair – He’s trying to sit up and is reaching and grabbing everything. Just lying down playing with toys is no longer cutting it, so I think this will be the perfect solution to keep him engaged and help him learn to sit on his own.

 Socks with grippers – Great stocking stuffer! These will be perfect since he’ll start practicing crawling and walking soon!

Yihakids Soft Sole Moccasins – It’s important to let baby’s feet develop on their own, but as he starts to want to stand and take steps when we’re out and about, I’d like for him to have cute shoes to protect his little feet and these soft soles won’t hinder him (and they’re a fraction of the cost of other moccasins)

Joovy Spoon Walker – Some would call me a minimalist, but I’m so excited about this walker! I love the combination of walker and high chair with the easily removable tray (that’s dishwasher safe) and the fact that the tray has a large enough surface area for him to play with all kinds of toys that I can interchange as opposed to a normal walker that comes with everything built in. And it folds flat so our house doesn’t become overtaken by large baby things… maybe I am a little bit of a minimalist.

Sophie The Giraffe Teether – Another great stocking stuffer! I don’t what it is about this little giraffe, but all 3 of mine have loved this thing and I love that it’s made of all natural rubber.

4mom mamaroo 4 infant seat – This is for the littler ones (0-6 months), so he’s pretty much outgrown this one, but we loved this so much the first time around, we got a second one with the twins and he’s loved it just as much.

Wee Gallery Art Cards for Baby – These cards are made in high contrast black and white to visually engage baby, plus they’re made of sturdy cardboard to withstand baby’s strong grasp. As he will surely put them in his mouth, they’re made of soy ink, which doesn’t contain any harmful chemicals.

Plan Toys Color Car – All little boys need a car and I love this one for its bright colors!

Intuitoys Two Ring Teether – Another great stocking stuffer! All natural wood with an organic beeswax and olive oil finish and it’s made in the USA!

 

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Rose Gold Thanksgiving Tablescape & Menu

I truly love Thanksgiving – taking the time to focus on family and all that we have to be grateful for, with nothing to do other than just be together.  This year, I’m hosting the largest group I ever have: my parents + some extended family that’s traveling all the way from Texas (everyone wants to meet the new baby!). I like to keep Thanksgiving casual and inviting, but want to make it feel special too. A well thought out table, with a few personal touches, and a menu with something for everyone is a great way for everyone to know how happy you are they’re there.

 

via Rooms for Rent

 

The Tablescape

While I do love Thanksgiving, I’m just NOT  a fan of orange, brown, red and yellow together… but replace one or two with a little blush and suddenly I’m in love… I have these great moscow mule copper mugs I plan to use for drinking, simply because of their color – who says you can’t drink water or sweet tea out of a beautifully copper cup?!

 

via Courtney Browning

 

Pumpkins on the table may seem like an obvious choice for Thanksgiving, but when they’re white and have pink ribbons tied on the stem, they become unexpected.

The Kraze made these tapered candles with candle holders at school this week, and I think their precious artwork will be the perfect personal touch to the centerpiece.  To ground the tablescape and complete the look, I’ll be grabbing some eucalyptus while I’m at Trader Joe’s today (which they have a great price) to lay down the center.

 

via Camille Styles

To add to the personal touch, I’m making simple placemats made out of craft paper for everyone to write down what they’re thankful for to read aloud. I pulled out the girl’s lists from last year and they’re simply hilarious – also sweet but so funny!! Take a look…

Zo:

  • Teddy bears
  • My puppy
  • Bunnies
  • Mommy
  • Kitties
  • Daddy
  • Squirrels
  • Butterflies
  • Bacon

KR:

  • Uncle Mike
  • Family
  • Rainbow (stuffed cat)
  • Handy Mandy
  • Candy
  • Living in my home
  • My dog
  • Painting

After looking back on last years’, I’ve decided this needs to become an annual thing that we keep and read again the next year!

 

via Country Living

 

The Menu

Main course:
  • Honey Baked Ham
  • Chicken and dressing
  • Twice-baked mashed potatoes
  • Green bean casserole
  • Baked broccoli
  • Dinner rolls
Dessert:
  • Italian Cream Cake
  • Sweet potato casserole
  • Mini Pumpkin pies – I absolutely love this idea of making bite-sized desserts without the work of baking all those miniature pie crusts!

 

What to Wear

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The Birth of Isaiah Gre

Well, I’ve yet to answer the question “How the birth go?” without tears in my eyes, so thankfully you can read it on a computer screen rather than watching me blush with embarrassment as tears start forming in my eyes as I begin to just babble on and on and give more information than I’m sure was really requested.

On 7/10/17, at 41 weeks, I was scheduled to be induced at 7AM. Over the weekend prior, I became increasingly anxious because I wanted to labor at home for a bit because I would have to be hooked up to the monitors the entire time I was at the hospital and knew having to be induced wouldn’t increase my chances for a successful VBAC.

After the c-section with our twin girls… Not only was the recovery so very hard, but the delivery was so rushed that I was completely overwhelmed. Baby A come out and they put her on my chest for all of 15 seconds before moving her away to deliver Baby B… but she was stuck under my ribs. I needed to be cut more and male nurses came in to hold me down so the doc could really tug to get her out.  They showed her to me, but immediately rushed her to the NICU because she was having a hard time breathing. After this and for many more reasons, I wanted to try for a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarian) this time. Whatever my reasons were, we were well-informed, I talked with my husband and prayed about it.

For several weeks, I had many contractions, some of which became very regular but never turned into labor. At 39 weeks, I was told he was completely engaged and I could go into labor at any moment. This left me quite frustrated (and swollen down there) as I approached 41 weeks and my imminent induction date. Less than 24 hours before my scheduled induction, my magical chiropractor, who you’ve heard me rave about, literally got off a plane from Cuba and came straight to the office to work her magic on me. For an hour and a half, she adjusted me, had me do exercises, defused Clary Sage essential oils and rubbed them on a few pressure points. I’d like to think it was all for me, but she also had a streak to keep alive – she has a 100% success rate for her patients not having to be induced. From here, we went to one of our favorite restaurants in town, Biscotti’s, for a last hoorah family dinner. While at dinner, just 3 hours after leaving her office, I started feeling intense contractions. I knew this was different but didn’t want to get my hopes up again. It was a little awkward when the waiter asked me a question right as one came on and I just had to pause to breathe for a second. My doula had said that smiling and laughing would naturally release oxytocin, so after dinner we walked to get icecream for the girls then went home and watched a movie with the girls while I ate my cake from the restaurant. We put the girls to bed and continued preparing for arriving at the hospital early the next morning. The contractions continued but were very irregular, so we went on to bed around midnight (I was so anxious, I could hardly wind down to go to sleep).

It felt like I barely fell asleep before I woke up with strong contractions at 12:45AM. This wasn’t the first time contractions had woken me up, but it was the first time they made me get out of bed. I immediately found myself pacing and having to pause for each one. Just 6 hours before my scheduled induction, I was in true labor – a huge answer to prayer and a reminder that God doesn’t work on our timeline, but is forever faithful. After about an hour they began to come about every 3-5 minutes, so I called my doula.

At 3 AM she arrived and immediately got to work on making the environment peaceful to labor at home for the next few hours. Since I was scheduled to be at the hospital at 7AM already, we would just ‘enjoy’ the time at home until then. She placed candles all around the nursery, diffused essential oils in the air and started coaching me through the contractions. Before we left, I even got in a warm bath for a bit, which was nice because it was the only showered I’d have over the next 3 days!

I’m not one to have a very specific birth plan because I understand that things are going to go the way they’re going to go and am willing to do whatever is best for the baby. The only two pieces of the birth process that I cared about were to have a successful  VBAC and to let me say when/if I felt I needed the epidural. I wasn’t trying to be superwoman, but I wanted to experience it this time. I felt that if it was offered to me, I might just take them up on it before I really needed to.

So we got to the hospital around 7 AM and my doula continued coaching me through different positions and breathing techniques to help with pain management. *For anyone considering having a Doula, it’s worth it! My husband even loved her because she had sent him back to bed while I had her at the house during the night so at least he would have rest to be there for me as things progressed throughout the day. And let me tell you, he was.  As soon as we got settled in the room and I was all hooked up to the monitors, he turned on our praise music and never left my side. He rubbed my back, he held me, he danced with me, he sang in my ear. I don’t know if I’ve ever loved him more or felt more loved by him. This was one of the most beautiful parts of our journey bringing our baby boy into this world.

Fast forward to 10 AM. My midwife came in to check my progress and things were moving slowly but progressing. Up to this point, the contractions were intense, but I was able to talk and even smile a little in between. If you know my husband, he’s always trying to make me laugh.

A couple more hours go by and the contractions became so intense that it required my full focus. I began having intense back labor. My doula had me try a few positions to change the baby’s position to ease the back pain. This helped for a while, until baby decided to totally flip on us and wouldn’t move back into position. My contractions started coming one right after the other, only 1.5 minutes apart and lasting 45-60 seconds each. I could hardly catch my breath in between. My midwife comes to check me and there has been no change. She grabbed my hand and began to pray – praising God for the miracle inside of me that we would soon meet… asking Him to fill us with his presence and to space out my contractions. An answer to prayer walked in the room when, again, in stepped my wonderful chiropractor… She did her “voodoo magic”, as my husband calls it, and baby boy flipped back into position and the contractions began to space out again, about every 3 minutes apart.

I continue to labor like this for several hard hours and my midwife checks me again. Still no change… 7 hours without change. I immediately started crying. I just didn’t know how much longer I could go on. She decided to place a foley bulb to help move things along. This immediately caused my contractions to start coming one on top of the next – the contraction before hadn’t fully descended before the next one would begin. Zach literally held me up during each one while my legs gave out, but lying in bed was just too uncomfortable. After an hour of this, I wanted to be checked again to see if these contractions were making progress… still no change. I immediately grabbed Zach and sobbed “I can’t keep doing this.”

My team knew my experience with the girls and wanted to give me the birth experience I longed for this time. My doula asked, “What is more important to you – to do this naturally or to have a successful VBAC? I’m afraid you’re going to wear yourself out to the point you won’t be able to push when it’s time.” She was right… at 16 hours in and less than an hour of sleep, I was exhausted, so I requested the epidural. They wanted to give me a bag of fluids before placing it, but my IV was pushed too far in my arm and kept getting blocked. After several attempts to fix it, they needed to redo it in my other arm. This took over an hour to get the epidural placed and I am now screaming into my pillow with tears streaming down my face. I had reached my breaking point. Zach held my hand and whispered in my ear during each one, “Just focus on this one. You can do anything for 60 seconds.” After 17  hours of true labor, I finally received the epidural. Within minutes, I looked over at Zach and said “I’m having a contraction” then smiled really big and we both laughed.

Within one hour of receiving the epidural, I progressed 4 cm. My midwife said she thought I had just been in too much pain for my body to relax enough to allow for dilation. We still had a way to go, so we decided trying to get some rest was best. In spite of the uncontrollable shaking, I fell asleep for a few hours when the nurse came in and said, “You’re having a lot of contractions and the baby doesn’t seem to like it. His heart rate has dropped, so let’s have you change positions.” I rolled to my side and he didn’t improve. She put me on oxygen and said to focus on my breathing. My mom had arrived at the hospital at this point, so I asked her to please come pray with me. The Lord filled me with peace as I put all of my trust in Him and the baby’s heart rate immediately started to rise. We decided I would keep the oxygen on the remainder of labor.

Early in the morning of July 11th, after only one hour of pushing (and 28 hours of labor), our baby boy miracle was born at 5:08AM with praise music playing in the background. It was hands down the most surreal moment of my life. Everyone in the room immediately said, “He’s a big one!” He was placed on my chest with his head full of dark hair while daddy cut the cord.

 

He gave us a little scare because he wasn’t crying at first, and when he did try he couldn’t get much out and started turning purple. The nurse scooped him up and put a tube down his throat to really suction him and then that cry was loud and clear! Relief and joy came flooding back in.  We all anticipated his weight, while I was being sewn up (thank God I got that epidural)! After his series of checks, the nurse placed him on the scale and announced, “He’s 10lbs 4oz!!” Word spread and for hours, I had nurses coming into my room saying things like, “Wow! Way to go mama!!”

 

She brought him right back over to me and he went right to nursing, which was something else I didn’t get to experience with the girls being preemies. He was so strong and my heart immediately grew by a 3rd.

 

My rockstar doula – Her shirt says “Cesarean” crossed out!

 

After a few hours of bonding, we had the grandparents bring the girls to the hospital to meet their baby brother for the first time. This was the moment I dreamt of for months!

 

After just 36 hours, we all got to go home as a family.

 

She decided immediately that she wanted to call him “sweet cheeks”

 

To every mama out there, you are a super woman. You deserve to be celebrated. Regardless of how you brought your child into this world, you. brought. a. human. being. into this world which is nothing short of a miracle.

 

Isaiah Gre born 7/11

Isaiah 7:11 – “Ask for something special to see from the Lord your God. Ask for it to be as deep as the place of the dead or as high as heaven.”

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38 Week Update + Big Sister Announcement Box

Not only are we hoping this will be a smooth transition for The Kraze when their baby brother actually arrives, we wanted the idea of becoming big sisters to be so great that maybe they’ll be ok with him demanding a lot of my attention and all the other ways he’ll “take away” from them when he gets here… and what if he cries a lot?! I ordered the. cutest. big sister gift from their baby brother, to give them in the hospital after he’s born, I’ll share soon , but this box is all about how we made the big announcement to them to get them excited about becoming big sisters!

 

 

  • First, a book all about being a Big Sister. There are tons of options out there, but I really loved how positive this one kept it, although it has a healthy dose of honesty, like dirty diapers and needing to be quiet when baby is sleeping… I mean I don’t want them to be completely shocked at the reality of having a baby in the house.
  • Next, we included a couple gender neutral (again we didn’t know the sex at the time) baby toys like this and this so they would have their own toy to turn to to play with the baby
  • Baby doll bottles to practice how to feed their baby brother or sister with their baby dolls… Every. single. time. they ask, “Is this how I do it?” “Am I holding the baby the right way?”
  • And even a picture of the baby, which looked more like a bean, but helped us explain why the baby was too small for us to tell if it was going to be a boy or a girl yet and that it would be a long time before the baby was ready to be born.

Nothing over the top but a few items they’ve used over and over to practice becoming “the best big sisters in the world” (their words)… I’ve said it before, I really think they’re as ready as one could hope for. How seriously they’re taking their new role already is absolutely heart melting!

 

38 Weeks…

 

 

Emotionally: Carrying this baby boy has been one of the biggest blessings of my life – to have the chance to experience this all over again, but in a totally new way with only one baby in there this time. I’m to the point that I know he could come any day now which has me pausing (when I can) to soak in the moment when he starts rolling around and gets those cute hiccups. However, I am getting quite anxious to meet this little guy. I can. not. wait. to lay eyes on him and breathe him in. So I guess I’d say I’ve come around to accepting that this is not a season that can last forever, but I’m so grateful to have been chosen to be this boy’s mommy that I’m feeling emotionally read for this chapter to end and the next to begin, which is good timing! read ‘Symptoms’ below

Big step this week:  Hospital bags are packed! And I finally have all his clothes & blankets washed and hung/folded and organized in his room. Now that all the essentials are in there, I’m focused on getting all the details put together.  I totally understand that he could be here any day now, but all they really need in the beginning is your boobies and a place to sleep right?!

Craving: My appetite actually seems to have gone way down and I’m not that hungry anymore… although the nightly hot, fresh cookies over ice-cream are still going strong. I used to have a glass of wine almost every night, so I guess this is my ‘nightcap’

His size: He’s about the size of a winter melon or a toolbox, depending on who you ask (but seriously, a toolbox inside my belly?!). I’m thinking, whatever they say, he’s probably a little bigger because we have big babies (I was 10.5 lbs & Zach was 9.13 lbs – I know, woah!) plus how he was measuring a few weeks ago at our 4D. Not to mention, I had the twins a month early and they were 5.13 & 6.4… which is big for twins!

My size: I gained my weight back at my 36 week visit from the previous weigh-in, but didn’t gain anything at 37 weeks, so I’m at a total of 30 pounds gained so far… we’ll see in a couple days after our indulgent weekend of cake and donuts!

Symptoms: Contractions… lots of contractions. I’ve been having Braxton Hicks for weeks now, but this weekend they started coming more regularly and stronger. After I clocked irregular contractions for 6 straight hours, they eventually became more and more irregular and eventually stopped.  The thought of giving my husband his son on Father’s Day was so exciting to me… needless to say, I was quite disappointed by the end of the day, but remaining grateful for every day of this miracle and knowing God’s timing is best.

Wardrobe: Now that I’m down to my final days, I realize that it’s become somewhat of a pride thing for me to creatively piece together outfits without purchasing any maternity clothes.  Actually, I’ve purchased exactly three: a casual dress, a baby shower dress and a swimsuit.

Favorite Moment: One of the girls screamed in excitement the other day and he literally jumped! It just reminded me that there is in fact a real baby in there that is hopefully getting used to his wild sisters before he’s even born.

Big Sisters: When we thought things were happening we asked them what they thought about baby brother coming today (yesterday) and they both screamed in excitement. When they came into our room this morning, KR said, “Why wasn’t he born yet? Maybe if I could just talk to him, he’ll want to come out!” My heart totally melted as I sat on the side of the bed and let her talk to him!

 

I didn’t mean for the baby updates to take over the blog, but who knows if I’ll get to post another baby update or not. I’ve loved getting to document it all here and am so glad it’ll be here to look back on one day!

 

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