Tuesday, July 29, 2014

{Dear Lucy | 3 years + 2 months}

Dear Lucy,

My sweet girl. You are well aware lately that big changes are coming. Your baby brother/sister isn't even here yet and you are wanting to "be the baby" around here. You want to be held like a baby. Wrapped in blankets like a baby. Fed like a baby. Oh my. You love hearing and talking about how you used to be in mama's belly just like this baby and how you were born in the water at home just like this baby will be. You are the one who first made me a mama and no one can ever take your place, beautiful girl.

Overall, I'd say you are very excited about the baby coming. You love hugging and kissing my belly every night before bed and you'll whisper "I love you" in the sweetest little voice that makes me melt every time. I just know you are going to make the most amazing big sister. You are such a great helper and you are looking forward to helping us with things like diaper changes and feedings. You are especially excited to take baths with the baby and to share all of your toys. We'll see if those feelings actually last once the baby is here- but we'll just go with it for now :)

You have been in your new "big girl" bedroom for a couple of weeks now and you absolutely love it. You look so grown up in your full sized bed and it tugs at my mama heart strings a bit. Your room is pink and white and so pretty and girly and you are just in heaven in there. You didn't seem to mind leaving your old room one bit and you've been such a big helper in getting it ready for baby to move into it.

It just truly is overwhelming to see how quickly you are growing up these days. You are so smart and sometimes we have a hard time keeping up with all the new skills that you are constantly acquiring. You have such a beautiful and vivid imagination and I love watching you play. We are just so in awe of you each and every day. You certainly know how to throw an epic tantrum when you want to - but we are still madly in love with you no matter what. We keep joking that you are going to be a lawyer someday because you are constantly finding new ways to argue your points and try and get your way. You come up with some pretty creative excuses for things sometimes and then you'll flash this cheesy smile that makes us giggle immediately. You are then very disappointed if our answer is still "no" after all of that work you just put into it :)

You have been going to daycare full time now for about the last month. You were going part time before that for the last 3 years. You absolutely love it there and we wanted to start taking you in the mornings once you turned 3 so that you could take part in the preschool activities they do there. We used to miss that part of the day when you wouldn't go until 12:30pm. You love telling us about "school" when you come home and I can tell that you are learning so much there and having so much fun!

You have recently developed the terrible habit of biting your nails! You definitely got this from your mama and papa who both do the same thing ::sigh:: So we are working hard as a family to break the habit! I haven't had to cut your nails in awhile. It's just one more thing that reminds us just how much we need to set the example around here. You are watching everything and you are learning from the things we say and do. Of course, we already knew that to be true. But still... we just have to be more conscious of even the little things.

Things you love: Reading, coloring/drawing, learning in general, taking care of your dolls, puzzles, games on the iPad, big Flip and baby Flip (your stuffed penguins), your ABC blanket, helping us with absolutely anything possible around the house, cooking in your play kitchen, telling/making up stories, playing in water (although you are definitely still a bit timid when it comes to actually full on getting into a pool), anything having to do with the outdoors (but you don't like bugs!), playing doctor, watching movies, bagels and cream cheese (that's all you ever want to eat for breakfast), carrots/celery and hummus (your favorite snack), popsicles (you'd take them over ice cream any day)....

You are sweet and sassy and full of magic. I love you to the moon and back...with all my heart.

Love, mama

Friday, July 25, 2014

{baby #2: 38 weeks}

I will actually be 39 weeks tomorrow (due date is one week from today!) but I wanted to go ahead and squeeze in a 38 week post so I could show off some of the lovely photos my sweet friend/doula, Michelle, took after my midwife appointment with Mandy a few days ago. It just wasn't in the budget for us this time around to get professional maternity photos taken, so I was excited and grateful when Michelle offered to snap these for me. She used my big girl camera to take the photos and then I edited them after I came home. Teamwork! :)
{Michelle, Mandy and I}

We had our home visit last week with Kathy (the midwife) and Michelle. Little bean had been making huge movements (bigger than normal) a couple of days before, and I had been getting a little nervous that it may have flipped into the breech position. So Kathy decided to check me again and she confirmed that little bean is definitely still head down (woo!) and that I was a solid 2cm dilated (I'll take what I can get!) This babe's head is super deep in my pelvis and is "locked and loaded" as Kathy put it. ha. No wonder I am waddling around so much.
After taking her usual belly measurements, she also informed me that I'm measuring right back on track as well, which I was super excited about. Everything else looked really good as well except that my iron is definitely pretty low again. I am now drinking 18 drops of Chlor-Oxygen in water twice a day as well as taking a tablespoon of Black Strap Molasses once a day. This is on top of the 18 vitamins (consisting of prenatal, probiotic, fish oil, 5-W, evening primrose oil, and bioflavonoids) I am taking each day. Whew! I just put them all in a little dish at the beginning of the day so I can keep track.
I had another visit a couple of days ago with Mandy, the co-midwife. Mandy was apprenticing with Kathy at the time of Lucy's birth and she now has her own practice. I was so honored and excited when she said she'd love to be a part of little bean's birth as well. I seriously have the best birth team ever.
I really have been feeling pretty good as I near the end of this pregnancy. I have been doing some pretty hardcore nesting and preparing these days and I am finally feeling ready for this whole shindig to go down. Zach has also been nesting with me lately and it is just so sweet. I'm not sure if it's because he's been through this once before, but I can see that he definitely is wanting to be as prepared as possible to be a great birth partner to me. He was already an amazing partner last time around, but I just love that he is diving head first into things this time. He just finished reading "Husband Coached Childbirth: The Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth", and is now reading "The Birth Partner". I've been calling him my end-of-pregnancy boot camp instructor because he reminds me every evening to do my squatting exercises and pelvic rocks. He even calls me during the day while at work to remind me to "get down" (squat) as much as possible and to drink plenty of water. We've also been practicing other massage and relaxation techniques as well as talking a lot about labor/birth in general. He's been letting me boss him around (nicely, of course!) and has been taking great care of me. I just love that man so much.
Some 38 week stats:

Gender: Still thinking boy...but who knows!

Total weight gain so far: 25 pounds

Cravings: Sweets, as usual. Key Lime Pie (although I have only actually had it once in this pregnancy), Lucky Charms cereal
Sleep: Not great. Still waking up A LOT to use the restroom (5 times last night!) and then it takes me a little while to get back to sleep. I haven't taken any naps for the past week though. Even with as tired as I am lately, I have definitely been getting these big energy spurts throughout the day. Part of the nesting instinct, I suppose, and the need to get everything in order before this baby decides to come.

Looking forward to: Snuggling this little bean! Also...ready to not be so out of breath from little things like going up a flight of stairs. But I must say...I am going to miss being pregnant so much. I really am getting a bit sad that it's almost over because it's likely that this is the last time I will feel a little baby growing on the inside. I truly have just been so lucky with 2 easy and wonderful pregnancies.
To do: We have really knocked out most of our pre-baby to do list. Lucy officially moved into her new "big girl" bedroom last weekend, and my mom came up earlier this week to help get the nursery back to baby ready. We also did a huge shopping trip that day to Babies-R-Us to pick up some other last minute items. Baby clothes (which so far is pretty much just an array of white onesies since we don't know the gender!) and blankets are washed. The birth pool is here and ready to be setup at a moments notice. The rest of the birth supplies are all gathered and ready. I've also put together a pretty killer labor playlist on the computer. So yes...I guess you could say we are feeling quite prepared now! The only things really left to do are to finish washing the cloth diapers (which we won't even use right away most likely) and to get a "big sister" gift for Lucy (any ideas???)

Speaking of Lucy...she keeps asking if the baby is ready to come out and play yet. She also seems pretty sure that it is going to come out of my belly button. Ha. Oh my :) She has just been hearing so much of "this is for the baby. that is for the baby" etc etc...and it's definitely starting to affect her. She's wanting to pretend she's a baby A LOT lately and wants to be held/snuggled like a baby...and even fed like a baby. We've been working hard throughout this entire pregnancy (especially in the last few months here) to prepare her as much as possible for the changes to come- but the truth is- her world is about to be totally rocked. We are just trying to soak up these final days as a family of three and we will just make sure that Lucy still feels ALL the love in the world even after a new little babe arrives. I still just can't believe that my sweet baby girl is about to become a big sister!!
We are ready little bean. Come on out whenever you are ready. All our love...mama, papa and lucy

Monday, July 21, 2014

{Blessingway}

On Saturday, my wonderful friend Michelle put together another beautiful Blessingway Ceremony for me, just as she did when I was pregnant with Lucy. Michelle and I have been friends for 10 years now and I cherish our relationship so very much. She is mama to 3 beautiful little gals and she gave birth to each one of them at home. I was lucky enough to be her doula for her last home birth last year (sweet Marigold turned one just yesterday!) and it is a memory I will cherish forever and ever. She was my doula for Lucy's birth and will also be my doula for this birth.
I'm sure most people are quite familiar with what a baby shower is, but I'm sure many people are quite unfamiliar with what a blessingway is. It is an old Navajo ceremony and is a very positive ritual affirming that a woman will have a natural and beautiful birthing experience. It marks a woman's right of passage into motherhood and is a ceremony of empowerment near the time of birthing. It is a time to gather within a circle of close friends and celebrate sisterhood while honoring the birth mother and preparing to welcome a new baby to earth.
The blessingway was held at my home in the dining room which is where the birth pool will be setup again, just as it was for Lucy's birth. It was such a special feeling to have all of these amazing women gathered in the exact place where we are planning bring this new baby into the world. During Lucy's birth, I could absolutely feel the powerful energy lingering in that room from the blessingway that had happened just a few weeks before.

Michelle transformed the room yet again into an beautiful, colorful and inspiring space for this special gathering. The smell of lavender and other essential oils filled the room as the women came in one by one with delicious food and plenty of love and light to share.
The canvas on the right in the picture below was a group collaboration from my last blessingway.
Love it so much. 
 We spent the first half hour or so just nibbling on delicious food and catching up with each other..
Then everyone gathered in a circle in the birthing room and each person took a turn introducing themselves (there were a few people who did not know all of the others) and telling the story of how we had met. I loved hearing these special women in my life recall such wonderful memories from over the years.
A crown of flowers was placed on my head and the ladies took turns painting my belly,
and massaging my hands and feet with warm lavender water. I felt so pampered!
 In the meantime, the others worked on creating beautiful posters with birth affirmations and
other inspiring messages on them for me to hang in the birthing space when the time comes. 

Each person also brought a special bead with them and Michelle is putting together a necklace that I will be able to wear during the birth. They also each took turns stringing colorful heart beads onto 
a necklace that I was able to give Lucy when she came home later that day. So special!

At the end of the ceremony, we threw a ball of yarn around the room creating a web between all of us. As each person received the yarn, they wrapped it around their wrist or ankle three times first saying the
name of their mother, then their grandmother, then their great grandmother. After each person had
done this, we cut and then tied the string which will stay on until after this baby is born. 
I had to have a little help with mine :)
Michelle gave each person a candle to take with them so that they could light it at home and 
think of me and baby when I go into labor. We all joked about how with Lucy's labor, people
needed more than one candle since it took so long with her. Hopefully one candle will
suffice this time :)

I am feeling so empowered and so ready for this baby after such a beautiful blessingway with 
all of these incredible women. 
I just feel so very blessed.

When Lucy and Zach came home later that evening, Lucy went gaga over my belly art and decided
she wanted to get in on the action as well. So I gave her a washable marker and let her have at it :)
This is going to be one well-loved baby :)

Friday, July 18, 2014

{Destin, Florida}

Zach lived in Johannesburg, South Africa for a year in high school as an exchange student. It was absolutely one of the most incredible experiences of his life, and what made it even more amazing was that he lived with such an incredible family while there. The Harlands truly became his second family. He grew especially close to his host brother, Nic, who is just about a year older than him. They developed a wonderful friendship and brotherhood...and certainly caused all sorts of mischief together ;) 

Nic met the love of his life, Katherine, while living it Switzerland as an exchange student. She is actually from Tennessee but lived in Switzerland for 10 years and then eventually moved to South Africa to be with Nic. Quite a worldly love story, huh? 

We were so excited to hear about their engagement earlier this year and I dreamt of going to their wedding in Johannesburg, but knew that wouldn't really be an option for us at this time. So, we were extra excited to hear that they were going to do a ceremony in the states that Katherine's family could attend...and then they would do another event in South Africa later on. They picked Destin, Florida for their destination wedding and we just knew we had to go...even though I'd be 35 weeks along at the time. What was even more special was that Nic asked Zach to be his best man. Of course, Zach accepted with great honor. 

It was such an amazing week. Katherine's family was just wonderful and I was so happy to finally get to meet Zach's South Africa family (even though a couple of the immediate family members were missing). And of course, everyone really just got a big kick out of miss Lucy :) Speaking of Lucy...it was her first time ever to the beach and she was in absolute heaven!! The poor girl got pushed to the brim for those 4 days with super late bedtimes and extremely minimal napping...but she rallied and did great...with only a few semi-major meltdowns :)

We stayed at an Embassy Suites, but Nic and Katherine's families had rented this awesome beach house a mile down the road and we pretty much camped out there most of the time. Absolutely amazing. 

So, without further ado....get ready for a bit of a vacation picture overload....

 Night before the wedding:
Wedding day:


That beautiful day ended with laterns being lit and let go on the beach...
 The entire day after the wedding was spent on the beach. Perfection.
 Seriously...the happiest girl in the world...
Someone hired these guys to come out and teach us how to build giant sand castles. 
It was super hard work actually...especially for this very pregnant mama...but it was so much fun! 
Zach and I were in a group with Nic and Katherine and this was our massive creation...
After a full day at the beach...we went back to the house to hang out for awhile longer and
have dinner one last time with everyone since we were going to be leaving the next day. 
One last picture of Zach and his South African brother from another mother...
(Check out Zach's awesome sunburn. Yeah...I got one of those too...)
We checked out of our hotel the next morning and went back to the beach 
for a few hours since our flight wasn't until later that day...
 Zach attempted to take her out in this kayak...but this is as far as she made
it before begging to get out :)
...and before we knew it...it was time to head to the airport and head home.

Such an amazing week with wonderful people. Can we please go back?!