Sunday, August 25, 2013

A Life of Purpose

Do you ever recognize a reoccurring theme in your life, to the point that it makes you realize that God is trying so communicate something important to you? A recent series of events have me thinking a lot about living a life of purpose. Not a life that is busy just for the sake of it, but a life that is full of service, sacrifice, love, and intention. I find myself dedicating so much time and thought to things that just don't matter, and I'm beginning to realize that if I continue to live this way, I'm going to find myself at the end with so much unfulfilled potential and so many lost opportunities. Less peace, more unhappiness. Less meaning, more regret.  And I've realized that the only way that we can find and then fulfill our purpose, the only way that we can ensure that we're maximizing our potential, is by giving ourselves over to Him. I believe that through our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, not only can we find exactly what it is that we are here to do, we can also be given the strength to then do it, no matter how challenging or impossible or burdensome it may seem. And for that, I'm so grateful.

Happy, Friendly, Just Like Dad

When people meet Noah, they say one of three things: he's one of the happiest babies they've ever met, he's one of the friendliest babies they've ever met, or he looks just like his dad. Sometimes he gets all three at once and it makes my mama heart so proud. I love this little boy so much and to have other people see what I do, and to love Noah, fills my heart with joy. He smiles at strangers in the grocery store who aren't even looking at him. He babbles on and on to people he's only been around for a few minutes. One day we were out and someone came up to me and said, "I don't know if you noticed, but your baby has been smiling at me, and it has really made my day".  He's so full of joy. As he grows older and faces challenges and rejection and disappointment and fear, I hope that he never loses that.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Easy Subway Art Tutorial

When I saw this easy DIY art project over at Polka Dots and Paisley, I loved it right away and knew I had to try it. I learned a few things along the way and thought I'd share with you exactly how I did it.

You'll need:
-Piece of paper
-16 x 20 inch canvas
-1/2 inch masking tape
-5-6 coordinating paint colors

1) Cut your piece of paper to a 6 inch x 2.5 inch block. This size will create a symmetrical result if you use 1/2 inch masking tape.

2) Using the paper as a guide, mark the edge of the canvas on each side and then place a piece of masking tape across the entire canvas horizontally. Continue this until you have 5 horizontal rows.
3) Next, use your paper block as a guide for your vertical lines, which should be evenly spaced across the top row.
4) For the second row, simply stagger the blocks with the first row and tape away. Rows 1,3 and 5 will be the same and rows 2 and 4 will be the same. You can't see it, but I also taped around the edge of the canvas to prevent any drippage.

5) Now it's time to paint! I used 5 paint colors and I love the way it turned out. I personally think that anything more than 6 or 7 starts to look a little disconnected. There was really no specific strategy for color placement, I just made sure 2 blocks of the same color weren't too close together and that the lighter and darker colors were somewhat evenly spaced as well. One tip from the tutorial at Polka Dot's and Paisley that I found useful  for creating a clean line was to start painting at the tape and move inward. After you've done this and painted the entire block, go over the space in one direction so that the paint looks good.
6) After you've finished painting, remove the tape while it's still wet if possible because it will create a cleaner line.  Some of the darker colors required a few coats, so just make sure that you're really done painting before taking that tape off.

And the end result:
This project was easy, inexpensive (less than $10) and added a pop of color to Noah's room! I absolutely love it!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Noah's 9 Month Update

I can't believe Noah has been here with us longer than he was in my belly! This last 9 months of being a mama has gone by so much more quickly (and been a lot more fun...and more challenging) than my pregnancy. So much has happened with him this month!

Right now he's wearing 6-9 month clothes and size 3 diapers.

This month he's started to show a strong preference to me over anyone else, even Josh.

He has this super cheese ball smile that I can't manage to get on camera.

He slept through the night for 3 or 4 nights a couple of weeks ago and has totally regressed since then, and now wakes up 2-3 times a night and has a really hard time falling back to sleep. It's seriously harder than when he was a newborn. He just got his two bottom teeth about two weeks ago so I don't think that he's teething.
He's become a tummy sleeper.
A few weeks ago he started scooting backward and moving around in a circle while on his belly. He can also move around in a circle while he's sitting on his bum. The last few days he's started rocking back and forth while on his knees, so I think crawling is right around the corner. His favorite thing to roll or scoot to are power cords...power cords that are plugged in. I've run across the room and ripped one out of his hands in a panic more than once. He's such a curious little guy.
He has become terrified of so many different noises. The washing machine, the bath water running, blenders, blow dryers, and hand dryers (you should have seen me trying to calm him down by singing the ABC's while simultaneously talking on the phone and changing his diaper in the Target bathroom...I looked like a nut). He also screams dramatically while being dressed. Yeesh. This boy has become way more opinionated lately.

He's also been imitating what we do, like dancing, putting a toy in a certain place, etc.

We took Noah to the zoo for the first time this month. He was most into the deer.
He's a champ with solids and the only thing he really hates in zucchini, unless I mix it with something else. A list of foods he's eaten:
Fruits- Apples, bananas, prunes, peaches, pears, blueberries, mango and a smidge of apple juice
Veggies-Carrots, string beans, broccoli, spinach, pumpkin, peas, sweet potato, avocado and corn
Other- Oat, rice and teething wafers

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Tips for Achieving an Unmedicated Birth: Strategies for Labor and Delivery (Part 3)

If you're just joining, check out Part 1: Preparing Your Mind and Part 2: Preparing Your Body.There are so many different strategies you can adopt to help ease discomfort during labor. An acronym that's helpful in organizing these techniques is PURE:

Positions. The desire to move around during labor was one of the reasons that I wanted to avoid an epidural. I think it's a good idea to familiarize yourself with different positions that can be helpful in reducing the pain of contractions, but I also believe that your body will guide you during labor. Taking a cheat sheet with you to the hospital in case you do end up needing different ideas during labor is still a good idea. An example can be found here.

Urinate. A full bladder can put additional pressure on your uterus, making contractions challenging. Go to the bathroom often.

Relax. A few ideas to help you relax during labor:
  • Visualization. This is the practice of using visual imagery of what is happening in your body to help the progression of labor and keep your body relaxed. All of my experience with visualization was through the HypnoBirthing course I took, and if this is something that you think you may find useful, I'd highly recommend reading the book and looking into taking the course because there's way too much information to discuss here.
  • Deep breathing. This was a lifesaver for me and was a huge part in helping me stay in control during labor. I'd recommend practicing deep breathing daily during your pregnancy. Simply take a few minutes to inhale and exhale, counting to 8 for each, while also focusing you filling your abdomen so that it rises on the inhale. A snippit on this from the HynoBirthing book: "When your uterus surges (contracts), it rises. Slow breathing helps you to work in concert with that upward movement of the uterus as you breathe your abdomen up to the highest possible height- like filling an inner balloon. This maximizes the wave of the vertical muscles (the outer longitudinal muscle fibers of the uterus that contract to help push the baby out), causing them to work more efficiently in drawing up the lower circular muscles (the muscles that are concentrated near the cervix that need to be relaxed in order for it to open for birth), and thinning and opening the cervix. The assist that this gives to both sets of muscles shortens the length of the surge (contraction) as well as the length of labor."
  • Massage
  • Birth ball. This is good not only for relaxation, but can also help to open up the pelvis, allowing the baby to move down. 
  • Bathtub
  • Heating pad (generally provided by the hospital)
Environment. A calm, comfortable environment is so important to staying relaxed during labor. A few ideas to creating a tranquil environment:
  • Choose a supportive doctor and birth partner. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to choose a care provider who supports your birth preferences. Choose your doctor carefully and discuss your birth plan fully. You obviously don't have control over which nurses will be working when you're in labor, but (at least in the hospital where I had Noah) you can share your desire for an unmedicated birth while in triage and they try to assign you a nurse who prefers to work with and/or has a lot of experience with unmedicated birth. It's also important that you have a supportive birth partner. For many women, this is the father of the child, but you may also opt to hire a doula.
  • Specify your preferences for lighting and bring music you find soothing. Some women find that dim lights and relaxing music have a calming effect during labor and birth.
  • Use aromatherapy. My thought on using aromatherapy is that it will be most effective during labor if it is used in conjunction with relaxing activities during your pregnancy (meditation, yoga, a warm bath) so that there's a positive association. Lavender is an obvious favorite.
  • Bring things from home to make yourself more comfortable. This may include pillows, blankets, comfortable clothes, etc. Just make sure you're ok with them getting dirty/stained.
  • Post a sign on the door so that any staff member that enters the room is aware of the type of environment you're trying to create. We got a sign in our HypnoBirthing class that simply said, "We are a HypnoBirthing family", but yours could say something like. "Our goal is to achieve a calm, unmedicated birth". 
A few additional tips:

Make educated decisions regarding interventions. Modern medicine is amazing and sometimes so necessary. But too often, interventions are used unnecessarily and just lead to complications that require additional interventions. If an intervention is suggested, ask these questions (or have your birth partner do so. You obviously may not be in any state to be having full-blown conversations. This is another reason why it's so important to have a supportive birth partner who understands your desires exactly). Just remember the acronyn BRAIN:
  • Benefits. What are the benefits of the procedure?
  • Risks. What are the risks?
  • Alternatives. What are the alternatives?
  • Intuition. What is your intuition telling you?
  • No/Not now. What would happen if declined or said, "Not now"?
Minimize the number of cervical checks you get. I can tell you from experience that nothing is more frustrating than feeling like your body is working hard for a long time, but you're checked and haven't progressed. It took me seven hours to dilate one centimeter, and less than an hour to dilate an additional FOUR! When I was checked after that seven hours and learned that almost nothing had happened, it was so defeating and made me want to give up on my goal to have an unmedicated birth. Every body progresses at a different speed, and the information gained from a cervical check is not always an accurate representation of what's going on in your body or how much longer your labor will last. So, do yourself a favor and have as few of these as possible.

One thing that I have to emphasize is that these ideas are good for your labor toolbox, but you probably won't use all of them. You'll know what your body needs and you'll figure our very quickly what doesn't work for you. Thank you so much for reading and best of luck in achieving your birth goals! If you have any questions about anything you've read in this series, I'd love to hear from you at
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...