Thursday, October 26, 2017

Life is a Journey...but it isn't always pretty. =)

This past week, Facebook has been showing me a lot of "memories" from a few years, the year we moved to Washington and the year I had Gracie. (Her birth story here) These memories have had be reflecting quite a bit on how far I have come since that time.

I love my spunky Gracie Lu, but there was a time I struggled with her. She was such a colicky baby. Crying on average 6-8 hours a day. The quietest she would get was if I held her, even then she fussed quite a bit. Unfortunately, I was in a new state without family and I hadn't put myself out there enough to make friends and I was so lonely. Sidebar: Ladies, please, please make friends. Step outside your comfort zone and find those gems who will have your back and save you when family isn't available or you're in a new place. I honestly believe I could have done so much better if I had just had more courage.

Anyways, I know now, I developed postpartum depression during this time. Throughout my pregnancy everyone said, "Oh, three is the hardest so having your fourth will be easy!" HA! The fourth was my hardest. Everyone's different. Gracie had jaundice too which meant light therapy for hours where I couldn't hold her the first week of her life. When she was 4 weeks and 5 days old, I got a text from my Dad that my grandpa had passed away. I was devastated. I love that man like a second father and I had prayed and prayed he would live until I could see him one last time in just 2 more weeks. So, Gracie and I got on a plane to his funeral when she was 7 weeks old. The whole trip she was fussy if I didn't hold her or wasn't sleeping. I heard what people said about her and what a difficult baby she was. And I felt like a failure. I was her mother and couldn't comfort her. Failure. The flight home, we made a stop in a tiny town for a quick layover, only to be told we hit a freaking bird and they had to have a mechanic come inspect before we could take off again. We were told to leave everything on the plane, that it wouldn't be too long. *Face PALM!* We were in a tiny airport. One bathroom. For over two hours. Gracie screamed the entire time. Had a blow out. And was inconsolable. I timidly begged a diaper and wipes off a kind couple with a baby about 4 months old. She was so sweet and reassured me, she wasn't as loud as I thought. Those words were a balm. I thanked them and got Gracie changed, and hid back in my corner. I fed her, burped her, swaddled her. Everything I could think of. Two sweet ladies came over and took turns holding her just so I could go to the bathroom (where I may have cried), and another incredible woman bought me some Doritos and a water and brought them to me. I can never see Doritos without thinking of these incredible strangers. Gracie never stopped crying, but they never stopped smiling and encouraging me. Finally, they announced that we had to go grab our carry-ons because they had flown a new plane in for us to ride home. As I was holding her and waiting to carry her out, once again I was saved when another woman stepped toward me arms outstretched and said, "I'm a NICU nurse in Alaska. Let me take her while you grab your things." When I got back, Gracie was sleeping in this woman's arms. I couldn't believe it. She slept the whole way home after that.  I'm crying just typing this.

We need each other. These people, these women who were so kind, compassionate, and empathetic towards me and my situation, saved my life. When I stepped into that little airport, I was at one of the lowest points of my life. The loss of my grandfather, feeling like I couldn't handle being Gracie's mother, and just feeling as if I weren't great at life period, had me in a deep hole. And even though those two hours were hell, by the end, I felt this little spark in my chest. This familiar nudge that I know was from my Savior. He knew my situation, my state of mind and well being, and He sent His earthly angels to comfort and assist His daughter who desperately needed to feel looked after and comforted. A daughter who was doubting her very significance. He saved His child. He saved me by sending them.

Things didn't get better over night. Gracie still cried. But I grabbed onto that nudge and that spark and held on for dear life. I never felt as alone. I knew He was there and that He loved me and had faith in me and my abilities.

I know this is getting long but, if you've made it this far, can you hold on a bit longer? Please, never brush aside a prompting to reach out to another. Whether it be friend, family, or stranger, the Lord may need you to answer their prayer. To save them from their own doubts and fears. To give them hope, courage, and strength to make a flight home to a spouse and children who make them feel safe and whole. That is was those dear strangers did for me.

Lastly, if I could go back to the Heidi then, I would tell myself this: Remember it's okay not to be okay sometimes. Allow yourself the space and time you need to heal yourself become well within your very soul. On the days that you just can't take another step, allow the Savior to carry you. Because He will. Without hesitation. Fall to your knees and pray for the strength and the reassurance to carry on. And when you have the days where you may not feel one ounce of hope or faith in yourself, rely on His love and faith in you, because He has more than enough to get to another day. And turn on the Celtic Pandora channel. =) (For reals though, I LOVE Celtic music! Bet you didn't know that about me.) So, yes, life is a journey, and it isn't always pretty, but we can make it prettier by being His hands for others. I love you my dear, dear friends and I will always be here to cheer you on! XOXO

Sunday, August 13, 2017

"No man..."

To be honest, I didn't even hear about the situation in Charlottesville, VA until this evening. I am flabbergasted. Sad. Heartsick. Far too often I get comfortable, too comfortable, with my life and situation. I rarely feel fear because of who I am or what I believe in. Because, let's be honest, I'm a white Mormon woman living in Utah (for the record, I know and understand white Mormon women in Utah do get hurt and feel fear), and some people may say that I don't have the right to say anything, but I want to say what I have been feeling and thinking with the help of others who are more eloquent than I am.

This is NOT okay. I cannot stand by and be silent. Racism does exist. Bigotry does exist. Hatred does exist. We cannot make things better until we accept things need to be changed. I am not here to change anyone's beliefs. I am here simply to put forth some thoughts.

I read this on a dear friend's page about this country that I love and I couldn't agree more: "It's ours. It belongs to all of us. We don't want to "replace" your stories with our stories. We just want all of our stories to be heard and respected. We want justice and fairness to apply to everyone. We want to make this country better TOGETHER."

I implore each of you to take the time to listen to those who are different from you. I promise they don't bite. =) One of the best things that has ever happened to me was Peter getting into grad school in Washington state. I got to meet the most incredible people of different religions or none at all, different sexual orientations, different ethnicity, some immigrants. These people are some of the most kind, loving, selfless, intelligent, humble, hardworking people I know. People who DO live their life in fear. People who can't stop in certain places for gas because of the hatred people have towards their lifestyles. People who are asked, "Who's car is this?" first thing when getting pulled over in their own car because of the color of their skin. Meeting these people has enriched my life. It has also opened my eyes to problems in this world that I have never been exposed to or put much thought towards.

I would also ask that we think before we speak. Racial and religious slurs are offensive, even in joking. Generalizations about religions, identity, or race do not include everyone in that "category". Just be kind for crying out loud.

President Gordon B. Hinckley said, "No man who makes disparaging remarks concerning those of another race can consider himself a true disciple of Christ. Nor can he consider himself to be in harmony with the teachings of the Church of Christ."

These people are our neighbors. Our brothers and sisters. The majority are not looking to change anyone else's lifestyle or beliefs. They want to be heard, accepted, and respected. You don't have to agree with them but you can still be kind and understanding and have conversations and still be friends. And yes, this goes both ways. Both sides need to listen and both sides need to refrain from bulldozing over each other and trying to get them to agree with what they say. It's okay to have different thoughts and opinions. It's what makes things exciting and enriches our lives.

"We should love all people, be good listeners, and show concern for their sincere beliefs. Though we may disagree, we should not be disagreeable. Our stands and communications on controversial topics should not be contentious. We should be wise in explaining and pursuing our positions and in exercising our influence. In doing so, we ask that others not be offended by our sincere religious beliefs and the free exercise of our religion. We encourage all of us to practice the Savior’s Golden Rule: “Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them” (Matthew 7:12).

When our positions do not prevail, we should accept unfavorable results graciously and practice civility with our adversaries. In any event, we should be persons of goodwill toward all, rejecting persecution of any kind, including persecution based on race, ethnicity, religious belief or nonbelief, and differences in sexual orientation." -Elder Dallin H. Oaks

Please, don't let the divisions in this country tear us apart anymore than it already has. Treat each other with respect and kindness. Stand up for those who don't have a voice. Always remember that we are children of God and each person is known and cherished no matter what. May we step out of ourselves and see those around us as our Savior sees them.

Well said, some people think they have it worse when really, they need to look around and maybe ask if others need help or anything they can provide or help with. If it dosent benefit you then you will not even hear it.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

I Am As Strong As I Can Be...

Today was a tough day. One of those days where doubt reigned its ugly head and I listened. I listened. And in my mind, I was not enough. For anything or anyone. The darkness of my thoughts were oppressive. Numbing. Paralyzing. Then, I was rescued. I was rescued by people who didn't even know that they were casting lifelines today. But they did, and I am so grateful.

I need to thank so many people who have been carrying me lately. Too many to count. Friends who don't let the words spoken by others take root in my mind. Friends who persevere through times of loss, heartbreak, deployments, sickness, depression, and all their other trials, with smiles on their faces, even when they are hurting and still reaching out to ask how I'm doing. Like they don't have enough going on, haha! Friends who text me out of the blue; especially, friends I don't get to see because of moves. I can't tell you how much I love and miss you. You were my family, my sisters, and support when I was in a new and lonely place and you saved me (like that time when I accidently got pregnant?!). My family for making me laugh, even on the toughest days. My wonderful girls, who forgive me so easily of my shortcomings and never let a day go by without telling me they love me. My Mr. Benson. The man who has stuck by me and lifted me time and time again out of the darkness because he sees me in a light that is so much brighter than I see myself. Peter never gives up on me and I am so grateful for his humor, loyalty, love, and faith. And my Savior. He is the one who dives deepest to find me when there is no hope to be seen. He is always there to give me the love, hope, and strength I need to get to another day.

I am as strong as I can be, but I know it is because of so many of you reading this, that I am here today. That there is always light shining through the clouds of self-doubts and insecurities. You have to know how many times you have carried me along the way. You gave me strength to move forward and continue to progress. The smiles, texts, conversations, messages, hugs, Cinnabon runs, Red Robin dates, CrossFit, and so many little things that may seem so inconsequential to you at the time, have come at crucial times for me and have been answers to desperate prayers of needed strength. I am so bless and thankful for all of you.

So, yes, I made it through another day. I am as strong as I can be because of the strength you have so freely and selflessly given me. I promise my next post will be much more uplifting, but I wanted you all to know how important you are and what a wonderful difference you have made in this girl's life. XOXO

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Today I'm 30

I turn 30 years old today. Remember in 5th grade or so and 30 sounded SO OLD?! Well, maybe it’s just me, but I feel pretty dang good. I know it’s because of the people in my life; especially, Peter and our five beautiful daughters. They make me feel like the most incredible woman on the planet. The little things they have been doing all day today have been constant reminders of just how blessed I am. Jane’s unicorn puppet show she put on for me; Anne singing “Happy Birthday” about 27 times today; Olivia telling me how much she loves me and it’s the “best day ever!”; Gracie not really understanding but giving me hugs and kisses anyway—haha!; Claire’s smiles and chattering; Peter telling me it’s the best day for him because it’s the day I was born. I am so grateful and humble. Yep, my life is pretty great.

Don’t get the idea that things are absolutely perfect here. They aren’t. I mean, for the record, this 30 year old bod of mine has had five babies in less than 7 years and because of that (I am about to get real personal here, just a heads up) I went to grab Claire’s car seat from the base, and because of that strain, I literally peed my pants. Just a bit. But then I started laughing at the ridiculousness of it and that was it. I lost it. Then it’s the awkward “please don’t let there be anyone in the front room or shared bathroom (we’re bunkin’ up with my in-laws) that I have to get past and to because I might die from embarrassment” moment. Thank the heavens for dark wash jeans! Am I right?! Hope that wasn’t too out there, but at least your day has to be better than that. LOL!!

On a more serious note, even at 30 I have triggers from my past that put my anxiety and panic attacks at the forefront. That I will post about another day. It’s important for me to share my experiences but not today. Today is a day for celebrating and gratitude and funny stories.

I am grateful to be alive. Even in this day and age and all of the darkness that comes with it because, you know what? There is still so much good in the world. I get to text my loved ones any freaking time I want! I can call them anytime I want or need. I live in a country where I am free to choose my profession and my religion. I love the US of A!

I am grateful for my body. It’s true. Aside from peeing itself, this body has done some pretty incredible things. Even if, on a daily occurrence, one of my precious children asks if I’m having a baby or do I just have a big tummy now, I’m grateful for this body. It is lined with many tiger stripes. It is stretched out, saggy, and a bit squiggy around the edges and has gotten softer in all the places I wish it wouldn’t but, it has also gotten stronger. I can hold a toddler for hours if I have to, even if those muscles are protected by a layer of squishy ;) and I have been blessed to house and birth my five girls. My body knew that one pregnancy just wasn’t working out, that something was wrong and it healed itself through a miscarriage. A heart-wrenching, terrible miscarriage through which I gained empathy for my fellow sisters who have gone through the same and I gained appreciation for each healthy pregnancy (even the surprise one). I am a comfort for my husband and children just by being present. What a blessing!

I have an incredibly supportive and loving husband. And although our marriage isn’t perfect, I know that he has my back. He is the most honest, kind, selfless, hardworking, faithful, loving, patient man I know. Which, by my own definition, when he tells me how freaking sexy I am, I should believe him, right? Haha! For real though. I know people say it all the time, but I really don’t know what I would do without him. He’s my best friend and he loves me. I am so grateful I have him by my side and that I was smart enough to snag him when I had the chance because he “had a lot of girls wanting to date him” at the time (direct quote from my man back in the day). I’m one of those people that believe you can be happy with more than one person as a spouse; that it’s more about the timing and circumstances than just finding “the one”. For whatever reason, I found Peter and, thankfully, he stuck around long enough to be drawn into my awesomeness and beauty. ;) Oh, good times. Bottom line, he makes me a better me and sees me as who I can become and I love him more every day because of his love, devotion, and loyalty for me. Thank you Peter! XOXO

I can’t end without thanking my beautiful girls. They have taught me more about life and myself than I can ever teach them. They are light, love, kindness, and forgiveness personified. Their resilience is awe-inspiring and hopeful. I am eternally grateful to be their mother and I do not take the responsibility lightly. I’ll post on the weight of motherhood another day as well. I love you my wonderful girls! Thank you for being you!

Also, my sweet, incredible friends! I have the BEST friends on the planet. It has taken a village to raise me in my adulthood and I have had great friends to do that. You have all been such radiant examples to me. You love me despite my snarkiness, shortcomings, and venting. You have taught me what it means to persevere, how to love, serve, and work. How near and dear to my heart all of you are! I hope you know just how much I love, need, and admire you. If not, sorry. I’ll be better. =)

30 did seem old, but now that I’m here, I realize how wonderful life is at this age. I’m married to the love of my life and have a wonderful family with him. I have just enough life experience to stay out of trouble with the law but still be able to have crazy good times. Life is good. My testimony in the true gospel is strong and firm. My testimony in my Savior’s love and life is even more so. It is through him I have been so blessed. And although he may not take away my struggles, he is there to get me through them. He is always there and I am never alone. Not even in my darkest hours because he is the brightest light of all.

Thanks for a great day everyone! 30 is pretty great but I have a feeling the next 30 is going to be just as sweet!!  

P.S. For your viewing pleasure continue to scroll down for some of my favorite memories =)

Just a girl and her dinner

BB Gun wars

College days

Midnight Denny's runs


                       The night we announced our engagement                        


First time through the temple


In N' Out



Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Claire's Birth Story: Part 3

Hallelujah! I can't tell you the relief I felt when I was told we would be staying to have this baby. But at the same time, I was discouraged that I had progressed at all since my last appointment. So, it took me a little while to get into a better place mentally before things picked up.

If you remember from Gracie's birth story, I mentioned I wouldn't have Susan break my water this time around, yeah, that went out the window at this point. We didn't come to this decision lightly. The number one reason was for my well-being. I was exhausted. I could barely keep my eyes open, even during contractions, and we all knew I still needed to push and bring our sweet baby earth side. So after she broke my water we expected things to go quickly, but Claire had other plans. Stinker. Susan suggested we sleep as much as possible before things escalated. So we did. I would literally zonk out between contractions, and Peter was able to sleep for a couple of hours, thankfully. After a while the contractions were painful enough that I got into the birthing tub to help me through them. I am a huge advocate of this method of pain management. The hot water was amazing. But after another hour and a half in there I was ready to try something else. Susan checked me again and I was only a 6. I could still feel sweet Claire's head in my hip through some of the contractions and Susan knew this was why she wasn't moving down into the birth canal and why I wasn't dilating the way we thought I would after my waters broke.

Susan rubbed some herbal oil (I don't know what was in it but she did tell me at the time haha!) on my stomach and had me swish another herbal mix in my mouth for a little while before swallowing to help progress labor. Let me just say how much I appreciated Susan. Never once did she show concern or urgency or stress. She was calm and soothing and never did anything without talking it through with both Peter and me. Also, Peter was also always calm and soothing. After we took some herbal measures, Susan had us get in the shower and during contractions had me put my leg up on chair to help open my pelvis and move Claire out of my hip. Ooooo wee!! Now this was the progression we wanted. For those that wonder what the pain is at this point, my best description is a first bad sprained ankle pain that lasts 60-90 seconds. It's extremely intense and incredible and awesome. It's so amazing what a woman's body can do in childbirth.

I was at the point where I would curl into Peter's chest in between contractions and then hang on his neck and sway during contractions. And I found making a low moaning sound would help me get through and keep me as relaxed as I possibly could be. I made the decision to get back into the tub as I was planning on having another water birth. I had about five more contractions before the tub was ready. I was happy to get back into the water. At first. As soon as I was in the tub the contractions started coming one after the other. One other thing I appreciate about the Birthing Inn is that Peter and I were usually alone. I loved that. I loved that I didn't have a ton of people coming and going or just hovering waiting for things to happen. So, at this point Peter and I were alone. I remember telling Peter that I felt like I was hyperventilating and that I couldn't get enough air. I was feeling super claustrophobic. I made him take off my sports bra because I felt like I couldn't take big enough breaths. (TMI? My bad.) I then told Peter, "I need the contractions to slow down. I feel out of control. I can't catch my breath in between. They're just coming too fast!" After I spoke these thoughts out loud, it was like my body listened. The contractions were just as intense but I had a longer break in between to rest.

About this time, I noticed a change in my contractions. It almost felt like an electric shock was going from the top of my spine down to my toes. And after a couple I felt our sweet  baby shift and more pressure on my pelvic floor. And during the next contraction I felt my body start to push on its own. Susan came in to check on things at this point. I told her I needed to push. And then had another contraction. This one was so intense I literally came up out of the water. Susan reminded me, "Heidi you have to be completely in the water to have the baby."

I said, "I know but I can't be in the water. I feel too claustrophobic."

Susan simply said, "Okay. Let's get you onto the bed."

I say, "I'm scared to walk to it."

Seriously, the bed was maybe three feet from the tub, but guys, it seemed like a mile when I had contractions racking my body. Susan, cool as a cucumber, says, "You'll get through one more contraction, then we'll help you there."

Peter adds, "You can do this. We will help you. We got you."

Me, "Okay." Cue contraction and nothing else matters. Just the pressure of my baby trying to be born. It finally ended and I took one step onto a stool and then up on the bed. Right before I got there I told Susan, "I don't think I can push her out on my back. I need to be on my hands and knees."

All Susan said, "Good. You know what you need." I will be forever grateful for her complete faith in me and my ability to know what was best for my delivery.

Now I could go to work. It was so satisfying to be actively pushing. It was still painful but now I knew I was getting somewhere. Now I wasn't just waiting, I felt like I was helping. I was being proactive. I was pushing and helping my sweet baby come. But I was tired. So blessed tired. And for all my pushing she still wasn't coming just yet. I heard Susan tell me that I needed to prop one of my legs up. I did but after three contractions, my leg was shaking so badly from weakness I couldn't stop it. My muscles were literally quitting. I could feel the exhaustion spreading and I was afraid for the first time that I wasn't going to have the strength to have this baby. I literally cried out, "Father help me! I need thy strength and help. I cannot do this on my own!" And you know what? Despite the circumstances, I felt the most warming and comforting feeling come over me and the words, "You are never alone. I will help you." This was such an incredible and personal experience. I haven't told anyone about it but I wanted to now. I want people to know that no matter what you're going through, you are never alone.

 I switched legs and decided right then and there I needed her to be born. After two more huge contractions her head was out. At this point I told Susan, "Just get her out." Haha!

She calmly said, "I've got her but you have to help me." So I did. I gave one more big push and there she was.

They had me turn over onto my back and Susan placed our beautiful Claire Christina onto my chest. I was too tired to cry but I was able to whisper, "Thank you Lord."

My sweet Peter, my rock, kissed me through his tears and told me I was an amazing woman and how proud he was of me. I love him so much. Again, I can't say enough how much he means to me and how much he lifts me up.

Claire latched on right away and after delivering the placenta, Susan's midwifery student, Bre (who was with me from our first appointment and I love her!) gave me the pitocin shot in my thigh to help slow the bleeding as I was anemic before having a baby. Bre is going to be wonderful midwife someday.

Susan later told me that part of the reason it was so difficult to birth Claire's head was because her chin wasn't tucked into her chest. That was why she had be prop one leg up to help create more room for her come out.

After Claire was fed, Susan gave her a bath and Peter got to dress her and love on her while I got in the shower to get cleaned up. I did need two stitches that Susan took care of beforehand. And then three hours after she was born, we were on our way home.

Now remember how our parents were in town? Well, my parents had to fly home that morning and missed seeing Claire by 45 minutes. The only downer of the day. Peter's parents were still in town though, thankfully. They had taken our girls to church that morning which just happened to be Gracie's first Sunday in nursery. Gracie and Claire are 18 months, to the day, apart. Everyone did great at church and when they got home they all came into our room to meet their new baby sister and newest granddaughter. Such a beautiful and sweet moment.

I love my sweet family. And despite all the ups and downs that came with Claire's pregnancy and birth, I am so grateful to have her with us. I'm so humble to be the mother to five sweet girls and wife to an incredible man. The Lord has blessed me so much. I know that He lives. That He died for me and that because my Savior chose to come to earth and provide the Atonement, he was able to lift me up in my weakest moment through this birth. I love the peace my knowledge gives me of forever families and of the eternal love and faith my Savior has for me and for the rest of my family.

Thank you for your patience in this story. I am so blessed with wonderful friends and family who love and support me. All my love to you all and know that you are always enough!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Claire's Birth Story: Part 2

 It was a lot to take in. My first appointment with Susan we used her ultrasound on her laptop just to get an idea of how far along I was since I really had no idea. By the picture she guessed I was 11-12 weeks along, so we went with that. Then, at our anatomy ultrasound, I thought I was 19 weeks along, but I'm watching the tech do her thing and measurements, which with four previous pregnancies I knew where to look on the screen for how big the baby was measuring, and all I'm seeing is "22.6 wks, 22.4 weeks, 22.5 wks, etc. For real? I had already lost four weeks with my first appointment, now you're telling me this baby is three more weeks ahead of what I had planned? And, for the record, I literally started laughing out loud when I saw it was a girl. I couldn't help it. I mean what are the odds? The tech had to stop until my belly stopped moving so much, haha! So, here we were, due 6 days before graduation. Right in the middle of final presentations. After reassuring the doctor that we weren't worried about the date being so different, we went home. And I started adjusting. As a side note, I also called my mom soon after we found out. Well, she called me because our entire family was planning a trip to Disneyland that October and we were trying to work it in with Peter's schedule. Anyways, I broke down again and blubbered out, "I'm pregnant. I'm so sorry." (We had jokingly said that no one was allowed to get pregnant before the trip). But, joking aside, I was seriously afraid I had upset her and my dad because who wants to go to Disneyland with a 7+ months pregnant woman? Blah. I told her how unhappy I was with it and just wasn't excited about it and how guilty I was feeling, and you know what? She took all that away with one statement, "It's okay not to be excited right now. I'll just be super excited for you until you're ready to be excited." Again, words I needed to hear at the perfect time. I don't care how old you get, you need your mama.

 Okay, sorry for all the sidetracks, back to the story. Around 23 weeks I just couldn't hide my growing belly anymore. I am so grateful that I had that time to adjust and the time it allowed for a lot of prayer, scripture and conference studying, and a lot of therapy talks with Peter. He helped me work through so many emotions and fears. Validating them and helping me realize I wasn't a failure or an ungrateful woman because of those feelings and fears. Because of this time I allowed myself to process through so many things, I was able to tell people I WAS happy to have another baby girl and it wasn't just me putting on "that face". With close friends, I was open and honest about how I was still getting to a good place with the pregnancy and what a process it had been, but at least I could give an honest answer now, one that I didn't feel ashamed about. I really tried to take into account the feelings of others around me. I have been through a miscarriage myself (August 15 is forever etched in my mind as the due date that never came) and knew how raw they can leave you. Physically, spiritually, and emotionally. Let me just take a sec and say that it's okay not to be okay with this too for a little while. I know with the gospel we have the knowledge of forever families and people say you'll have that baby again all the time but that doesn't take away the pain or sense of loss. Not right away anyways. It's okay to be sad and mourn the loss of life that was a part of your very being, no matter for how long. Please, allow yourself the time you need to be okay. And remember, you're awesome, beautiful, smart, and full of love and kindness.

Don't you give up. Jeffrey R Holland:

 Refocus. I was really okay, but exhausted. Peter's schedule couldn't magically change to help me and I had to learn to ask for help. Ugh. I am the worst at asking for help. We made it through though and, to be honest, Peter's last semester was probably the best one for us, despite it being the busiest. We talked, a lot. Looking from the outside in, it probably looked like we over-communicated, but I don't care. It was amazing. We never had to guess how the other was doing or what they were feeling or where their head was at. We were in sync and awesome. 

 At my 37 1/2 week appointment Susan checked me and I was 2 cm and 80% effaced. Woot, woot! I thought this baby girl would come early. That would be a welcome change. We were staying home for Thanksgiving that year and we got to have some amazing friends come and eat with us. Thank you Bells and Crokes for being okay with such a low key Thanksgiving. I was have contractions all day while I was preparing food and thought, "Maybe this will be a Thanksgiving baby," but they pittered out by the time we were eating. For the next two weeks every night from about 8 PM to 2 or 3 AM I would have contractions. Consistent and painful enough that for every night, for two weeks, I thought I was having a baby. Haha! Nope. We got through Thanksgiving and Peter had his final presentation on December 7 and our due date was December 6. At my 38 1/2 week appointment, I was 3 cm and 90% effaced. Susan felt it could be any day. So did I.

 At 39 weeks my contractions got to the point that Peter called Susan and we thought we would have a baby that night. So, we went to the birthing center. But we were back home two hours later since my contractions had completely stopped. That is so discouraging and embarrassing and a little humiliating. I felt like I couldn't trust my instincts. That I didn't know what my body was telling me. Super frustrating. We got home around midnight that night and sent our sitter home and were just getting settle in bed when the power went out and the pretty big storm came through. All of our girls woke up in fear. I can't help but be thankful we were able to be home to comfort all of them. If we hadn't I don't know how well they would have done without mom and dad. Everything happens for a reason. One of the issues I was having was baby girl would wedge her cute little head into my left hip and just wouldn't budge. I did everything I could to get her out of there and to just slide into my pelvis to make the contractions more productive but somehow she always managed to wedge back in. I finally just gave into the fact that baby girl would come when she was ready and healthy. I just kept thinking, "You can't come on the 7th, and please don't come on graduation."

29 Weeks

 39 Weeks and 2 days

 Well, we made it past finals--Peter rocked them! Each night the contractions would come. I wasn't getting any sleep and I had lost 6 pounds in the last two weeks. I was as anemic as you can get without medical intervention and exhausted. Susan and Peter were both concerned for me. I was just too tired to notice. After finals, Peter was able to be home more and he pointed out that I always made sure the girls were fed and taken care of but that I rarely ate myself. I know it may sound crazy but I was literally forgetting to eat. I was just busy. Cleaning, laundry, feeding princesses, picking up toys, running errands, homework, laundry, dishes, picking up toys, get it. I was just forgetting to take care of myself. Peter was my remedy for that. Anytime he was home he would send me up to our room for a bubble bath or a nap and would always bring me something to eat. I love that man. 

 Both of our parents came into town the week of graduation. It was so wonderful having them there. Graduation day arrived and still no baby but a lot more contractions. I spent most of the ceremony standing in the back swaying back and forth to get through the contractions. After graduation we went out to lunch with dear friends. The girls loved the soft serve ice cream machine =) I ate a little bit but was feeling achy and sore and tired and the contractions were still coming. We made it home and took it easy the rest of the day. After some dinner and some Rook with my parents, we headed off to bed. My contractions were still coming every 8-10 minutes and lasting about 30 seconds. I took a Tylenol PM hoping to get some sleep. And I did until about 1 AM when a painful contraction woke me. I got up and began pacing our room. The contractions picked up to every 5 minutes and lasting 35-45 seconds. At 3 AM we called Susan and we made the drive again to the center.

 After getting settled in our birthing suite Susan checked me again and I was still a 3/4 cm and completely effaced. Since I was 41 weeks though Susan said, "You're staying and you're having this baby today."

To Be Continued...

P.S. I'm sorry there has to be a part 3 but trying to write this all down with five little cuties who need me is taking longer than I thought. Don't hate.

Claire's Birth Story: Part 3

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Claire's Birth Story: Part 1

I have had a lot of people ask about Claire's (our fifth beautiful daughter) birth story, so I thought it was time to write it out. Her story is long, sometimes unexpected, and, probably to most people, uninteresting, but I need to write it all out. Not only for Claire's sake but for mine as well. I hope it will help me process through some things.

Claire was unexpected. So beyond unexpected. We knew we were going to have another baby, but we had decided to wait until after Peter's graduation to begin trying. We thought getting through the last year of Graduate School would be easier (is there such a thing haha!) without a pregnancy and a newborn. Besides, who has two kids during a master's program? Who does that?! Oh, us.

The day I found out I was pregnant is so very vivid in my mind. I had been feeling unusually tired the last few weeks and wasn't sleeping well; however, I chalked all that up to Peter's 14+ hour days  (class, work, seeing clients, and teach online) which left the girls up to me from wake up to bedtime, add in church callings and Olivia's school stuff and I was just tired. Please don't judge me in my weakness. I am fully aware of those parents who do this every single day without fail. Also, I would like to say my husband is a friggin' rock star. He astounds me. He rarely, if ever, complained and when he did, it was over the fact that he missed the girls and me. I love that man. And, the girls missed him too. Fiercely. Anyways, back to finding out. I was still nursing Gracie at the time and had a few pregnancy tests left over from when I found out with her to take randomly since my cycle hadn't regulated yet. That being said, we were so, SO careful not to get pregnant. And since our intimate life is our business, not the world's, I'll leave it at that =) So, I just decided to take a test. A positive test was NOT even a possibility in my mind. Not a chance. The tests were going to expire within the next couple of months so I thought, "What the heck." What the heck, indeed!

Two pink line. TWO FREAKING PINK LINES!! I tried calling Peter. No answer. Probably with a client. So what do I do? I take a picture of that positive test and send it to BFF Lauren. That's right. My peed on stick with the caption: I AM FREAKING OUT!! And I was. Bless her amazing self, she called me right away. So there I sat crying, trying to figure out how I was going to handle this. I didn't even know how far along I was. I was guessing around January 2016. I was afraid to tell Peter. I was afraid to tell anyone. Lauren talked me through the panic and anxiety (and is still my friend after all that) which I am so grateful for because by the time Peter called me back, I didn't immediately break down when I heard his voice. He tells me he had been suspicious I was for a while. Wait, what?! And you didn't say anything? He figured either way he was happy. 

So, now for the nitty-gritty. This next part is personal. I am writing it in hopes others may learn and find comfort through my own experiences. I didn't want to be pregnant. I wasn't ready. I didn't want another baby. Not then. I felt angry. I felt unprepared. I felt extremely flustered. And then, I felt guilty. So, so guilty. I have beloved friends and family who are unable to get pregnant who desperately want to have a child of their own. And right around this time, an amazing woman from our ward miscarried. I had a sister-in-law miscarry a few weeks after I found out I was expecting. And another incredible family who lost a baby as well. And then I couldn't stop thinking about all those who struggle with infertility. My guilt, shame, and humiliation were paralyzing. I didn't leave my house for weeks. My friends were texting and worrying and wondering what was going on. Lauren and Peter knew. Eventually, BFF Stephanie decided just to drop by to check up on me. Friends are amazing. Angels on Earth. I broke down almost as soon as she walked in the door. Complete word vomit. All about how I didn't want this, and why was this happening, and all about the guilt. All that guilt and shame. She hugged me and loved me and told me what amazing parents Peter and I are and how lucky this sweet baby was. I get emotional just thinking of what she and Lauren and others did to buoy me up and get me through those dark days. A few days later, BFF Leticia comes by to drop something off. Cue break down. Cue word vomit. I was such a hot mess. My emotions were everywhere. After I told her about feeling so guilty after seeing what a sister was going through with her miscarriage, she stopped me in my tracks. She said, "Don't make this harder by taking on others' trials." I can't tell you the comfort and peace this brought me. Just because I was feeling the way I was about the pregnancy doesn't mean I was wrong. It was just a trial. MY trial. I am so grateful for the ability to carry and birth children. I do not take it for granted or the responsibility lightly. This was so different from my past pregnancies. I was scared. Scared I wasn't going to be enough. Scared of the added strain for Peter. Just, scared. And taking on the trials of loved ones would only make it harder. I couldn't do that to myself, my husband, or my girls. I needed to realize that everything would work out. 

I guess I just want to say, it's okay not to be okay sometimes. I think we need a time to mourn when things happen unexpectedly. Mourn the loss of plans. Loss of self--this was a big one for me. I had been working really hard at getting my body back to being strong and in shape. I had lost 15 pounds recently but gained it all quickly back after finding out because of my stress eating (which is for a whole different post) and to just give my body a break; yet, here I was, pregnant with baby number five in seven years. But because of answered prayers through some incredible friends, I was able to pick myself up and find the joy in bringing another sweet baby into our family. 

After all of this, I made an appointment with my beloved midwife, Susan. When I went in for my first appointment, I was guess I was 7-9 weeks pregnant based on what I thought was my last cycle. I was 15 weeks along. So, instead of being due in January, I was now due six days before Peter's graduation. 

To Be Continued...

Claire's Birth Story: Part 2