Sunday, February 25, 2018

Obadiah Ryker: 1 Month

Nope.  Not happening.  My little man is not already 1 month.

But here we are.

It's been a fun month.  And a challenging one.

I have been peed on more times than I can count.  Which is amusing, because after years of being a teacher in the infant room in two different day cares, I was only ever peed on once.  I blame this on sleep deprivation.  Ha!

There are things I have done with Obi that I swore I would never do.  Sleep has been a bit difficult.  Little man is a bit gassy and he doesn't sleep well unless he is being held.  We end up doing half the night in the bassinet and half the night he ends up on my chest.  I've never been comfortable with co-sleeping, though I know many are.  I'm just too paranoid.  But, for now, it is helping us both to sleep - which is important.  Especially when there is a toddler depending on me the next day.  Little by little we will get into a routine I'm more comfortable with.

His big sister loves him to pieces.  Smothers him a bit.  But LOVES to help.  And she absolutely loves to show him off when he meets new people.

How am I growing?
Our little guy has gained almost 3 full pounds in 1 month!  He's now 9 lbs 10oz (38th percentile) and 22 inches long (90th percentile).  He is tall.  But that's expected.  And his little skinny legs are already chunking up!

What's New?
Lifting his head is a new favorite.  If he's awake, he wants to see what's going on.

How am I sleeping?
Already talked about this one.  He does sleep most of the day yet.  Awake first thing in the morning for awhile.  And again in the evening (7ish) consistently.  Through the day just depends on what takes place. 

She LOVES to "read" him stories.

His foot must have been stuck this way in utero.  Although it bends normally, when he is sleepy it often rests this way.  A little thing - but something I want to remember.  <3

While he loves showers, bath time is NOT a favorite!

One of my favorite little outfits.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Behind the Name: Obadiah Ryker

Is there anything more difficult than picking a name for a child?  Not only is it difficult to find something you both agree on, but you are literally defining someone's life.  What if that child grows up to hate their name?  What if you didn't think of a horrible nickname that, inevitably, someone else discovers in Jr. High...

We went through a very extensive list this time around.  And it was tough.  Aelah's name has so much meaning and significance (check it out here).  So I wanted something with meaning for our son as well.  There were a few times that we thought about just giving him a name because we liked the way it sounded.  But then I would hear something about the definition of a name bearing so much importance...especially Biblically.  So we decided that his name should definitely mean something.

After nixing all but two names on our list, we had narrowed it down to two.  He was stuck on one and I was stuck on a different one.  And neither of us would budge.  I had decided that I would just wait until delivery day.  Then there was no way he could tell me no.  ;)

But I decided to take the high road and started making a new list.  I stumbled across "Obi" which is of African origin and means "heart" or "center of."  I suggested it.  Knowing Justin would have some objections to the association with Star Wars.  He did at first.  But then he asked me a couple of nights later what I thought of the name Obadiah.  So I started doing my research: "servant or follower of the Lord" - loved it!  And, in 1 Kings, Obadiah is known for fearing the Lord and saving others.  It was perfect.  We have been in a season lately where we are learning what it truly means to serve, follow, and fear the Lord.

And I have already been calling him my little "Obi-wan."  :)

The middle name?  Both Justin and my dad have the middle name "Richard."  It tends to be used as a negative connotation for both of them...yeah....  A few seasons ago on Dancing with the Stars, we were rooting for Ryker Lynch.  And we both LOVED the name.  In fact, it was in the running for a first name.  But, apparently, it is currently in the top 100 baby names.  But when I looked up the meaning and origin, I knew it HAD to be his middle name - it is the Dutch version of Richard!

As the nurse at the hospital said, "That's a big name for such a tiny guy to grow into!" And I'm certain he will live up to it! 

Monday, February 5, 2018

Obi's Birth Story

This story isn’t quite the one I thought I would be writing.  But it is one I am proud of and thankful for, despite the imperfections.

Early on in our pregnancy they discovered a slight abnormality with my placenta – a condition called circumvallate placenta.  I won’t even try to explain it as I don’t fully understand it myself.  I know it’s a pretty rare condition and most of the time it goes undiagnosed.  But basically it put me at a slightly higher risk for things such as impeded fetal growth, placental abruption, other similar issues, and, worst case, still birth (most often when the condition goes monitored).  We met with a specialist in Pittsburgh who wasn’t concerned at all, put our minds at ease, and told us she figured we would have a very normal pregnancy and she wouldn’t need to see us again.  To be on the safe side, she recommended having a growth scan at our usual office every 4 weeks.  Which was fine with me – just more opportunities to see our little Peanut!

So we diligently went to the scans every 4 weeks and everything was going great.  After an odd growth jump at 36 weeks, they decided to schedule me for one additional scan at 39 weeks, just to check on things if he hadn’t arrived yet.

38 weeks – I’m 3cm dilated.  I left the office relatively anxious – I was 2cm when I checked into the hospital with our first and she was here 6 hours later (her birth story is here).  I was relatively sure I wouldn’t even make it to our 39 week appointment.  Contractions came off and on for the next week, but no active labor, no trips to the hospital, no baby yet.

So I head into our 39 week appointment anxious to see if things had progressed any further.  I went for my scan first and then I was called back to see the midwife, as usual.  As she comes in she asks, “Are you ready to have this baby?”  “Yes!”  I mean, of course.  What woman at 39 weeks is going to say no to that question?!?  But she stops and looks at me, “No, I mean, are you ready to have this baby tomorrow?  Because he needs to come.”

According to our scans, his growth wasn’t looking so great.  His belly hadn’t grown at all in 3 weeks.  And his growth was a bit asymmetrical – the belly in the 20th percentile with his head in the 80th.  While it wasn’t extremely urgent, they decided it would be better for him to be out than in so we could be sure he was getting proper nutrition.

I was heartbroken.  Induction was not a part of the plan.  Our birth plan is all natural.  No drugs.  No intervention.  Aelah’s birth had been such a beautiful experience.  And we had picked a different hospital that was more natural-friendly this time around.  So I had high hopes.  But I knew induction made things a bit more difficult.  Pitocin = more pain.  And that it also put us at a higher risk for intervention.  But, ready or not, it was time.

We went in the next morning ready for anything.  I was willing to discuss pain meds, but only if it got bad enough.  I was prepared for a very long day.  Pitocin started a little before 7am.  Shortly after, they broke my water.  It was a slow start.  I walked the halls for awhile, sat on a birthing ball, rocked – the contractions were getting stronger and closer together.  They actually didn’t have to increase the Pitocin as much because things were progressing pretty quickly. 

The first time they came back to check my progress, a nurse relatively new to the maternity wing checked me – “oh! I think she’s at 9cm,” I was ecstatic…until my midwife rechecked – only 4-5.  Oye.  Only half way.  But it started to get pretty intense from that point forward. 
I started to hyperventilate because of the pain.  I wasn’t breathing quite right.  Shallow breaths and using my lungs instead of my diaphragm (something that also happened with my daughter…but at the pushing stage).  My hands went tingly and then tensed to the point that I couldn’t move them.  It was really distracting and I couldn’t focus on getting through each contraction, making it all worse.  At this point, I had a moment of panic and kept telling my husband and my mom that I couldn’t do it.  I was going to need those drugs!  But, the good coaches they were, they kept telling me that I could, that I was almost there – the whole time, helping me refocus on my breathing and rubbing my hands and back.  I switched positions in this process and eventually got a hold on my breathing and started to feel my hands again.  That made dealing with the pain a WHOLE lot easier!

As push time came closer, they did end up having to give me oxygen – but that also helped my breathing, which helped the pain.  In this transition one of the nurses offered me Statol a few times to help me relax.  I wasn’t sure what to do, so I kept saying no.  But I knew if they checked me again and I wasn’t much further, something was going to be necessary.

They left us alone for awhile and a contraction hit so hard and so sudden, I knew something was different.  I should have had the nurse come check right then.  But I waited through a couple more horrid push contractions before I told them I knew it was time.  They checked and I was given the clear.  Of course, at that point, I had to wait for the doctor to show.  Our midwife had been in at one point, so I asked if she was going to be coming – but she was over at the office, which is right across the street.  They told me they could get her.  But I knew the doctor was already there.  There was NO way I was going to wait with everything in my body telling me to push.  There is no pain like the pain of keeping your body from doing what it wants to do in that moment.  I was writhing as we waited for the doc – literally lifting myself off the bed with each contraction.  I think it was actually only 3 contractions before I was able to push – but it felt like eternity.

I never opened my eyes through that whole process.  I heard the doctor tell me I could push.  And I did.  While screaming.  Twice.  Not very productive.  I got out of my head, focused on breathing correctly, and the next few pushes were much better.  I still can’t figure it out, my midwife thinks it may be how his head presented – but the pain of pushing was three times as bad as it was with my daughter.  I hadn’t wanted an episiotomy (had one with my daughter, 3rd degree) but I was about to tell the doctor to just cut me if she needed to when she told me she was going to. 

When I had Aelah, she came head, shoulders, knees, and toes – all at once.  The relief from that push was incredible.  And I felt that same relief with the next push.  I was done, he was here!  Except I wasn’t.  It was only his head.  And, again, what felt like eternity, but was only one or two pushes later, he was on my belly.  He was here now!!  I could breathe again, it was all over.  And in that moment, almost all of that morning had already been forgotten. 

There was meconium present when they broke my water, so they had to take him pretty directly (he stayed in the same room).  I got my few stitches while they looked him over.  It was a process.  I was trying to focus on him, but I was still in a lot of pain and trying to reorient myself after the whole experience.  Before I knew it, he was back in my arms. 

The hospital we were at encourages “the Golden Hour” of skin to skin AND a good first latch in that time – so he was all mine for a whole hour.  Within minutes of getting him back, he started trying to eat his hands.  It took me a moment to realize he was hungry – he latched right away!  Nursed twice in that first uninterrupted hour.

It was beautiful.   He was born at 11am, which meant labor was just barely over 4 hours.  Absolutely incredible when you stop to think about it.  It wasn’t the “perfect” experience.  But it is ours.  And I will treasure it forever. 

But given the choice, I definitely would not opt for an induction again.  😉  And I have mad respect for all of you who have suffered with Pitocin for an entire day…or more.  

Monday, January 22, 2018

My Dear Son

My Dear Son,

I never dreamed I would be writing this.  To know that I am days away from being a mom to a boy!!  Yikes!! 

I wrote a letter to your sister a long time before she was born.  And I wanted to do the same for you...but time kept slipping away.  I'm so glad I got to do this before your arrival.

You are already so loved, so cherished.  From the moment we knew you existed you have been loved.  It has never wavered and it never will.  You fill a place in our hearts we didn't even know was empty. 

I cannot wait to hold you, to count your fingers and toes, to see what color your hair is.  I can't wait to see your Daddy learn what it means to father a son.  It will be a new adventure for sure!  And one we are so excited (and a wee bit terrified) about.  I cannot wait to see your sister love you even more.  She already talks to you ever day, rubbing my belly and giggling as she tells me just exactly what you say.  She is so excited to have a brother! 

And while I know you two won't always get along perfectly, I pray you will always have each other's backs.  I pray you know what it means to treat each other with respect, honor, and love. 

As you move right now, I am reminded that our whole world is about to change.  You take us from 3 to 4.  You keep the score even, 2 boys, 2 girls.  You moved Mom and Dad's room across the house.  And you brought a bit of healing to a wounded Momma's heart - my rainbow baby. 

I pray for you often already, although probably not near enough.  I pray you always serve the Lord, and like your sister's name, that you would find your place in Him.  I pray your heart is strong and that it always points you in the right direction.  That as you make each choice in life, you listen to the Lord, and think of His kingdom first.  I pray that your daddy and I set that drive within you, that you first see it modeled in us.  My biggest hope is that because of the relationship we have with the Lord that you would be desperate for the same - desperate to know Him and serve Him, to do His will and further His kingdom.  I pray that you love people like He wants us to - relentlessly and without expectation - know you will get hurt in the process, but jumping in anyways.  I hope you give more than we do, love more than we do, and change the world in bigger ways.  My child, I already pray for the wife you may meet one day - that she will be loved by you like your father loves me.  And I pray she will love you back, even more than I do - if that's ever possible. 

This and so much more goes through my mind constantly.  There will be times I want to move the world for you and know that I can't.  I will have to watch you struggle, and stumble, and sometimes fall - knowing that it is for your best.  But I will always be there for a hug, or a shoulder, or just a listening ear. 

I love you to the moon and back and then some, my sweet, sweet, son.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Why Easter is my Favorite Holiday

Easter, Church, Family, Tradition, Sader Meal, Communion, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Crucifixion, Reverence, Worship, One Body

Easter.  No gifts for adults.  No pumpkin pie.  No twinkle lights upon the tree.

And yet, it is my absolute favorite holiday.  As Easter approaches, my heart fills with the joy that Christmas magic brings to children each year.  Though the week will be extremely busy, I anxiously anticipate Holy Week for a couple of reasons.

You see, first, it is the one time of the year where I feel like the church really acts like the family they should be.  Our focus turns to the One who should have our focus constantly and we are reminded of the reason we all gather in the first place - because of the love of Christ.  Second, because of that focus, there is a beautiful reverence we sometimes lack throughout the year. 

Yes, Christmas does the same thing on a certain level.  However, do to the demands of the world, everyone is busy, rushing around like ants at a picnic.  During Christmas, church is usually reserved for Christmas Eve.  

For some churches, this may also be true at Easter - a lot of rushing around for a big service on Easter Sunday.  But our church does things differently this time of year.  

It starts Maundy Thursday as we gather for the Sader Meal and foot washing.  Admittedly, I am not a huge fan of foot washing.  However, it serves a significant purpose - a reminder of how we are to be a servant for all, just as Christ has been for us.  My favorite part of the evening is the Sader Meal - a brief glimpse at the history and tradition that our Savior personally participated in!!  Though we have been attending this service for years (both now and at the church I grew up in) - I still love talking about the significance that each piece of the meal represents.  Everything they did was intentional.  When did we lose that!?!  I am so excited to share this tradition with Little Miss when she is a bit older, to teach her how significant the reverence of the night is as we conclude with a candle light service.

Easter, Church, Family, Tradition, Sader Meal, Communion, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Crucifixion, Reverence, Worship, One Body

Then Good Friday arrives.  This night holds special significance for me personally.  Our church goes to a production of the Easter story each hour north at the church I grew up in, the church where I accepted Christ as my Savior and was first welcomed, wholeheartedly, into the family of God.  It is the one time of the year that I have two of my church families together in one place.  And my heart soars because of that.  It reminds me that one day we will all be together again, in one place, worshipping the Lord.

The retelling of the Easter story never gets old for me either.  Though I have seen and participated in the same play for years and years....and still reminds me of the sacrifice Christ made for us - that because of His scars I am free!!!  And as Little Miss grows, I cannot wait to tell her about all the behind-the-scenes shenanigans, about why I was brought to tears on that very stage, and about how THIS story is HER story - that Christ went through all of that (and more) so that SHE could have freedom and eternal life with Him.  This year, I imagine the animals will be the highlight.  And she will love the children and the singing.  But as each year passes, she will understand more and more.

Easter, Church, Family, Tradition, Sader Meal, Communion, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Crucifixion, Reverence, Worship, One Body

And last, but not least, comes Easter Sunday.  We have two services with breakfast between.  Since each service is different, we attend both - we never want to miss an opportunity to worship the Lord as one body.  I am glad, however, that the first service is no longer at sunrise.  That means I get plenty of beauty sleep and I get to enjoy extra time in the house of the Lord.  There is just something different in the air on Easter morning - maybe it is just my heart.  But there is a reverence, a joy, a heightened awareness of the Spirit that all too often goes unnoticed.

So I guess in conclusion, Easter is my favorite because it gives me a glimpse of what it will be like one glorious day.  The Church will come together as a whole - united as one.  We will forever and always be reverent and joyful in the light of His glory and grace.  And we will never forget, even for a moment, the Greatest Story Ever Told, we will never forget just how much He loves us.

When Easter comes around each year, I feel like we remember all of that, if only for a moment.  We worship together as one, there is reverence and awe and recognition of who He is.

Wouldn't it be great if every Sunday were like that?

The choice is mine.  

Sunday, March 20, 2016

We Have Been Married for FIVE Years!!

5 years.

I have been married for FIVE years!

It is absolutely unreal.

Yesterday morning at breakfast we were talking about how different our life looks now.  And how it probably isn't exactly what we imagined 5 years ago.  On the not-meeting-par side of things, I definitely thought we would have more money.  And neither of us ever imagined we would live in a town smaller than where we grew up.  I probably thought we would have at least one more kid but I'm sure Hubby thought we wouldn't even have Miss A yet.  haha.  I saw myself not working at all (possibly volunteering, but not working).  On that note, I NEVER, EVER thought I would be teaching sex ed (yikes!).  And I definitely pictured a house with pictures on the walls (currently, the only room we have decorated is the nursery...and it is super cute!).  

But there are so many things that are better than we could have ever imagined.  Having all of my family in one place (one house in fact) is super unexpected (especially the addition of a sister-in-law).  We both love the jobs that we have - especially because I'm getting paid to work at a place where I very easily could have ended up volunteering!  I never thought I would enjoy talking to junior high and high school students about sexual integrity - but every time I leave that classroom, I am glowing from the inside out.  God somehow managed to allow me to have my dream job (behind the scenes at a non-profit) AND allowed me to be a *mostly* stay-at-home mom.  But more importantly, we absolutely love being parents - more than I ever thought possible.  I think that is the biggest unexpected curve ball - how much you love your kids.  Even if I had known 5 years ago that she would be a reality today, I couldn't have anticipated the joy that overflows from my heart as I kiss her goodnight.  5 years ago, I could have never dreamt up the journey that brought Hubby and I here today.  I have seen us both grow in phenomenal ways - usually by looking back. 

God brought us together.  He brought us here.  I'm sure he had a good laugh at our 5 year "plans."  What He gave us was so much better than what we ever asked for, so much better than we ever imagined.  I can't wait to see where the next 5 years takes us.

So with that being's a fun guess:

In 5 years we will have at least 2 more kids (maybe more).

We will have finished our bedroom suite and painted every wall in this house.

I will be homeschooling Miss A.  Or unschooling.  Maybe.

My walls will be decorated.....maybe......

We still won't get the whole "parenting" thing but we will love it and have fun in the middle of the mess.

Justin and I will be growing even more.  Closer together, closer to God.

Outside of those hypothetical ponderings - only God can know.

But I can't wait to see what He has in store.

So far, so beyond good.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Hands-Free Pumping Bra!

Anyone who has breastfed for any amount of time, knows that any contraption to make it easier is a life saver!  ;)

When I saw this hands free pumping bra, I was ecstatic!!  Pumping and being able to use both hands at the same time?!?  

Gift, Perfect, Nursing, Breastfeeding, Baby Shower, Push Present, Birthday, Christmas, 1st Baby, 2nd Baby, 3rd Baby, Children, Pumping, Working Mom, Stay at Home Mom, SAHM, WAHM, Hands Free, Bra, Nursing Bra, Pumping Bra, Handsfree Pumping
The perfect nursing bra!  (Photo credit goes to BeliBea)
 We have cut our nursing down to just one session in the morning and one in the evening.  Mostly, it was because I was sick of pumping while I was at work or away from Baby Girl for any amount of time.  Maybe, just maybe I wouldn't have stopped as soon if pumping wasn't a pain in the behind.  This bra, from BeliBea could have made a world of a difference for us.

The BeliBea motto is this: "Nursing mothers demand a new maternity bra that is comfortable but affordable, flexible and durable, simple yet clever - this is the bra line for nursing mothers everywhere."

And I believe it!!  This is my go-to bra.  It is extremely comfortable, offers great support (without wires), and it doesn't have a weird shape that shows when I'm wearing my everyday clothes.  Always concealed.  Always comfy.  Plus, there is enough padding that no one knows when I'm cold....if you catch my drift.  ;)

Affordable, I suppose, is a matter of opinion.  The Nourish bra runs $49.95, which is way more than i want to spend on a bra (I am pretty cheap).  However, I know, first-hand, that you get what you pay for.  I found nursing bras for under $10 at a bargain store.  They are stretched out, tattered, misshapen, and the elastics are shot!  I won't be able to use them for my next child.  I will have to go through the whole process again.  Nourish from BeliBea is so well made, I have no doubt that it will last me through my next couple of kiddos.  Even if I wear it every single day!

But what about that hands free pumping thing??  Does it really work??  Unfortunately, I do not have the right type of pump for this bra to help.  Again, this is because I'm cheap.  Since I wasn't planning on work much, I got the cheapest pump I could find.  The pump attaches directly to the breast shield, no tubing or anything else.  Let me show you why this is a problem:

Gift, Perfect, Nursing, Breastfeeding, Baby Shower, Push Present, Medela, Freemie, Birthday, Christmas, 1st Baby, 2nd Baby, 3rd Baby, Children, Pumping, Working Mom, Stay at Home Mom, SAHM, WAHM, Hands Free, Bra, Nursing Bra, Pumping Bra, Handsfree Pumping
The bra naturally pulled the shield against my chest....
Gift, Perfect, Nursing, Breastfeeding, Baby Shower, Push Present, Birthday, Christmas, 1st Baby, 2nd Baby, 3rd Baby, Children, Pumping, Working Mom, Stay at Home Mom, SAHM, WAHM, Hands Free, Bra, Nursing Bra, Pumping Bra, Handsfree Pumping
Until I attached the actual pump....then it instantly pulled away as the pump was too heavy (this picture was taken at the same angle...and you can see a whole lot more of my tank top since it was pulling forward).  I still had to use one hand to keep it in place.

I'm hoping with the next baby I will able to buy (or maybe win) a better pump.  In which case, this bra will be perfect.  One great feature is that there are two separate clasps and dual panels - you remove the first layer for hands-free pumping and the second layer to nurse.

Gift, Perfect, Nursing, Breastfeeding, Baby Shower, Push Present, Medela, Freemie, Birthday, Christmas, 1st Baby, 2nd Baby, 3rd Baby, Children, Pumping, Working Mom, Stay at Home Mom, SAHM, WAHM, Hands Free, Bra, Nursing Bra, Pumping Bra, Handsfree Pumping
Two clasps

In the meantime, it is STILL MY FAVORITE NURSING BRA!!  Seriously....I want to wear it every day.  It may be my favorite bra in general...

BeliBea Nourish would make a fantastic gift - think Baby Showers, Push Present, New Mom, 2nd Kid, 3rd Kid, Birthday, Christmas, etc.    ;)   If you know a mom who is currently breastfeeding - she will LOVE this gift, I promise!

Don't forget to checkout BeliBea's website.  And follow them on your favorite social media: