Our Juliet Hope

The probability of giving birth on your due date is just under 4%. Of the current moms my age at my church, I know of three births in the last two years that landed on due dates. My last child is one of those punctual children.

I never announce the name I picked for my child until they arrive in the world. Partly to make sure they are the right gender (we didn’t find out for my first) and partly to make sure they fit their name.

My husband actually chose our newest daughter’s first name…Juliet, or Jules. Even in the womb, she seemed to be feminine and dainty compared to Maggie. The name just fit her, even before I officially met her. I even decorated her room with pinks and flowers, basically the opposite of what I did with Maggie’s nursery.

Hope. We (I) knew we wanted to continue with the theme we had set with Maggie’s middle name of Grace – reminding us of God’s grace. I struggled a lot with choosing the right middle name. But as we drew closer to meeting her, I got a peace about the word “hope”. Especially in the time in our world where there’s so much suffering and fear, we could use the reminder of the hope of Jesus’ return and completion of His beautiful kingdom.

Now, her birth story…

Her birth day arrived with much anticipation. Funnily enough, the day before she came, I was exhausted from trying whatever I could to start labor the whole week. I fell asleep around 10:30 Saturday night without even thinking about my due date the next day.

At 1:30 am,  I woke up to my water breaking and jumping out of bed because I had forgotten that I had put on a waterproof mattress cover. I woke Bear up and told him my water had broken. We sprang into action and I took a shower to clean up before heading  to the hospital. We chatted excitedly about finally meeting our new baby girl.

I woke my mom to tell her the news and fought the urge to snuggle with Maggie for one last time before her new sister arrived. I didn’t dare wake her up when we were trying to get out of the house quickly.

We got to the hospital around 2:30 and got checked in pretty soon afterwards. Apparently the week prior had been very popular for having babies because there  were no recovery rooms available until late Sunday afternoon! We arrived just in time to get the largest room with a jacuzzi tub in it. An answer to prayer since I chose to not use pitocin this time around. The doctors and nurses I had were awesome and were great advocates for my rights and desires in my delivery.

Since my water broke, I had more of a deadline than a normal delivery. I was granted six hours to progress from 4.5 cm. I was desperate to not need pitocin, so I did everything I could to get labor moving quickly. I walked the halls, bounced on the birthing ball, and relaxed in the tub for hours. Thankfully, my contractions began to come stronger and more consistent. By 7:30 (the end of my 6 hours), I had gotten to a six! My body was doing exactly what God designed it to do.

The next couple hours were filled with intense contractions and not even the tub would help. I honestly felt like giving up. I only labored for roughly 7 hours, but once they came, my contractions progressed quickly. At 9:15, I must have been getting really loud in an effort to manage the pain because all of a sudden, two nurses and two doctors were in the room asking to check my dilation.

I fully expected to only be at an 8. I was ready to ask for an epidural if that was the case. I was losing focus and having a hard time mentally staying on top of my contractions. Of course, I was having such a hard time because I was fully dilated and ready to push.

The doctor told me to hold on while he gets everything ready “just in case”. It was a good thing he did, because two pushes later, our Juliet came into the world with a healthy set of lungs.

We loved her before we knew her, but knowing her is so much sweeter. She has blessed our family and we never knew how much she would add to our dynamic. It’s difficult to remember life before her and we can’t get over how our love has been multiplied.

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Juliet Hope

Born on Sunday, August 27th 2017 at 9:29 am

7.8 lbs and 20.5 inches long

Portland Trip Pt. 2

  • Oregon Zoo
    • Be prepared for crowds. We went on a day when apparently all the schools had a field trip there. Kids were literally climbing over Maggie’s stroller and pushing her aside to get pictures on their iPads.
    • The best zoo I’ve ever been to. Hands down. We never saw the same exhibit twice on our way through. Very well designed and most of the fun creatures to see were active.
    • It was lightly raining the day we went, but there are lots of indoor areas and we toughed it out like Portlanders have to do all the time.

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Seriously the only pic I took at the zoo. But isn’t it a good one?

  • Portland Children’s Museum
    • Admission is free on the first Friday every month after 5pm, we obviously had to take advantage of this deal.
    • Lots of exhibits and it was well worth the short drive.
    • Maggie was a little young to enjoy it, but we adults liked showing her how everything worked.

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  • OMSI
    • Honestly, I was a bit disappointed and thought we had wasted our time and money until I found the little kids’ area (a huge room devoted to different exploration exhibits for kids under 5 years old.
    • This was right up Bear’s alley. He loved the “big kid” exhibits and was in awe of the expensive equipment they have there.
    • Be ready for lots of kids here too.
    • There are a ton of food trucks set up just over the river from here, so that’s where we ate afterwards.

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  • Rose Garden
    • Free! (Always a fan of free things)
    • Beautiful collection of the most varieties of roses I’ve ever seen
    • We took a stroller, but I wouldn’t recommend it. There are a lot of stairs we went down and it was kind of awkward to handle in the rows of flowers. I’d take a carrier if I had to otherwise we just let Maggie roam free.
    • There’s a neat trail going behind the park if you’re up for exploring!
    • Not much parking so plan on walking a bit

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Where we ate: 

  • Tasty & Alder
    • family style meals
    • up to an hour wait on Sundays to get your name on the waitlist
  • Blue Star Donuts (because, when in Portland)
  • Pelican Brewery (as mentioned above)
  • Henry’s 12th St Tavern
    • the patio is considered a bar, so no under-agers allowed (even 18 month olds, apparently)

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  • Salt ‘n’ Straw (make sure you try as many flavors as you want, so you can make an informed decision about your choice!)

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  • 10 Barrel Brewing
    • we had a really long wait and unfortunately had to leave early because a certain toddler had jetlag and was overtired and causing a huge ruckus.
    • the waitstaff was awesome and did what they could to help entertain her while we waited.

 

There’s not much I would do differently next time – I would probably try to get a room with a little more space (fitting a pack n play and stroller in the room was a tight squeeze), I would schedule a day to find an awesome park (Portland really lacks for good kid-focused parks, in my opinion. At least in the downtown area, but maybe that’s normal for a city). We took a flimsy umbrella stroller which did the job until we found my dream double stroller off Craigslist to take home, it was actually nice to have a really small stroller because our room was tiny. I took a bunch of small toy animals and puzzle toys and they worked really well to occupy Maggie most of the trip. We used public transit most of the time, walked, or hitched a ride with my sister, only renting a car for our solo waterfall road trip. It worked out pretty well and we got around a lot.

If you’ve done Portland with kids, feel free to comment with some helpful tips or fun areas you’ve explored!

Maggie Grace at 18 Months

We’ve finally hit it. The last of the monthly ages. 18 months is generally where people stop referring to their child’s age by months. Next she will be 2 years old and I don’t even want to think about that.

This stage has been the most challenging, fun, amazing age yet. Her development from a year old to now is jaw-dropping when I think about it. She definitely is more developed in the physical area than the language area. She walked just before her first birthday, spins, dances, goes down slides by herself, jumps, barrel rolls, and climbs on EVERYTHING. Seriously, I’m pretty sure her purpose in life is to get a broken leg before she hits 2. She is very tactile and has to touch whatever she sees. She also has some stellar fine motor skills like screwing bottle caps on. We’re just starting to get past the stage where everything goes in the mouth, which means bring on the play-doh and more crafts!

Her language has sped up like crazy in the past two weeks, however, and she is signing and speaking words I didn’t know she knew. So far, she signs for: more, please, thank you, all done, love you, and help. She says “mama, dada, baba, banana, go, car, cracker, up, cheese”, and of course her own versions of “leia” and “jackson”. She knows about four animal sounds and every time we ask her what a cow says, she says Leia. I think we mixed her up somewhere on that one.

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She enjoys music, playing with other kids, snuggling, doing what mom says “no” to, swimming, and her baby dolls. She has now been on eight plane rides and has been to both coasts. She takes a 2-3 hour nap everyday and used to sleep fairly well for her (waking up only once a night) until we hit the 18 month regression.

I don’t usually write monthly posts like this, exclaiming over where my kid is developmentally and such, but it’s been six months since we’ve seen extended family, so I figure this would catch everyone up on what she’s like now. She just got to see her aunt and uncle again (it had been over a year!) and I know she loved showing them what she can do.

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I know we’re a bit late on her 18 month birthday, but we were in Portland and I honestly didn’t even care to think about blogging while enjoying vacation with my family. Anyways, that’s Maggie for now!

Encouragement on Mothers’ Day

This is for all the mamas out there. Mamas of all kinds…the ones who are just surviving, the ones who feel more like a feeding trough than a human being, the ones who haven’t slept through the night in years, the ones who reheat their coffee five times, the ones who hope no one notices that she hasn’t showered in a week. This is also for the mamas who are longing to hold a baby. The ones who have grieved, prayed, and even lost hope. This is for the mamas who are loving a baby that doesn’t share their last name, the ones who are raising someone else’s baby, the ones whose love goes deeper than blood. This is for the mamas who are raising someone else’s child, knowing full well that the child will never stay with her. The ones who are giving a temporary home but a forever love. This is also for the mamas who already raised their own children and are now raising their grandchildren. The ones who are even more tired and worn out than us young moms ever could imagine, but still chasing little ones.

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You are loved. You are honored. You are important. Your love is eternal and your care leaves an impression on all you meet.

You are a teacher, a provider, a chef, a personal shopper, a housemaid, a secretary, a chauffeur, a contractor, a nurse, and a counselor (among many other roles).

You are in the most demanding job in the world with the least preparation. You are amazing and have filled your role with grace.

This Mother’s Day, be encouraged. Know that you are respected and loved. Reflect on your past year and be open to what struggles and blessings the next year will bring.

 

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A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands. She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar. She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family and portions for her female servants. She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night. In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers. She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet. She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple. Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land. She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes. She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.”  Psalm 31:10-31

Transitioning My 15 Month Old to a Floor Bed

We finally did it. We had planned on waiting until the baby was almost here or when she was closer to two year old, but we’ve never been the types to hold to a plan, I guess.

We splurged on ourselves and upgraded to a king-size mattress (co-sleeping parents, rejoice), but knew we wanted to save our queen for Maggie’s room so guests could still have a place to stay over after the baby comes. A way to keep a guest room, but not really considering we host someone maybe every two months for a weekend.

So we jumped the gun and moved Maggie’s crib to the new baby’s room and moved our old mattress on her floor. This all happened in one day and needless to say, this pregnant lady was emotional about her baby moving out of her crib so suddenly.

Maggie played in her room and watched as we set up and organized her room to accommodate  the new bed. She was excited about the change and loved being able to get up and down from it. Her first time sleeping in it was a naptime. I did a similar routine as we always had – rocked her while she drank her milk, read a story, and then laid her down. For the first week, I tried this, but she kept waking up at her normal times at night (12-1, 4-5) and I would give in and sleep in her bed.

Finally, one night Bear said that I would have to get strict about her sleeping alone soon. He was right; she would have to learn to sleep in her own bed for the whole night eventually. So I changed things up…

I moved the rocking chair into the new baby’s room and instituted a snuggle time instead of rocking her. I put on her sound machine, gave her the milk, snuggled her while she drank (usually reading as well)…and something miraculous happened…she handed me the bottle, grabbed a couple pacifiers, and turned over. It was like she was ready for sleeping and wanted me to leave. That may be heartbreaking to some parents, but to a mom who struggled with her daughter’s sleeping patterns for almost a year and a half, I celebrated. And even more miraculous, she slept through the night (well, woke up once but i just found her pacifier for her and she went right back to sleep).

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I honestly believe that switching Maggie out of the crib at this age was the key to her sleeping well. She goes to sleep well every night (even if she cries a bit, I tell her “it’s bedtime, go to sleep” and that does it), she sleeps through the night almost every night (HALLELUJAH), and sleeps til around 8-8:30 (a full HOUR longer than she normally slept). We haven’t had any issue yet with her playing with her toys at 3 am, but I have had to tell her to stop playing and get back in bed at the beginning of naptime once or twice. Overall, I think it helped her not feel so confined and alone.

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I do have some work to do to finish my plans for her room, but turning it into a toddler-friendly free space (Google Montessori bedroom, if you can’t picture it) didn’t actually take that much work.

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Switching your 15 month old to a floor bed may not be for everyone, but it certainly worked for us. And we take whatever works.

How to Get It All Done

Baby crying, dogs barking, the UPS man knocking on the door, the washer leaking water, and the microwave incessantly beeping about the coffee I had put in there an hour ago…this is typical, right? All moms suffer through this chaos.

It’s been two months since Maggie joined us and it has been a major learning experience of how to cope around the house while toting a newborn. Many people have advised me to forget the house, to not bother with anything and to just focus on the baby. While well-intended, I can’t take the advice. It goes against my very nature to forego the laundry or vacuuming or cleaning the tub (how can it possibly get so dirty every week?!) As a semi-OCD mom, I’ve had to figure out how to do it all. The impossible.

 

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First off, I wear Maggie almost every day around the house. Whether it’s in the wrap or Ergo, its a great way to get things done with a baby who doesn’t want to be put down (AKA: Crabmeister, AKA: Maggie). I’ve even discovered some workouts that you can do while babywearing! (I suggest using a carrier of some sort…we tried Zumba in our wrap and it didn’t give me the freedom to go all out like I wanted).

 

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Second, I have a great 4Moms Mamaroo that keeps Maggie asleep or content while I vacuum or put dishes away, I normally would never be able to justify spending so much on a baby swing, but hello Christmas! I also did some digging around and found a discontinued version for only $150 ($100 off) at Albeebaby.com Score! This is by far our favorite baby item and my hubby was just about as excited as I was when it came.  Click on t

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Honestly, I do it all by not doing it all at once. Some days, Maggie has a 3 hour nap in her bassinet and I clean the entire house, do two loads of laundry, and cook a 6 course meal (HA!). Most days are like today: Maggie hasn’t slept more than 30 minutes at a time because the dogs keep barking and waking her up,  she cries when I put her down (even in her swing!), and I’ve found myself doing things in 20 minute increments between feedings and her naps. I’ve found that its easier to train my dog to walk on the treadmill than try to get Maggie to sleep so I can get Leia outside or to bundle the baby up and take her into the frigid Michigan winter air.

 

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Sometimes it’s frustrating to have to work around a demanding little human, but then I see her smile or watch her curl her fingers over mine and my heart (and all my other chores) melt away.

Rest easy, Mamas. You CAN do it all. Eventually.