Dear Lila: You’re Eight Years Old!

Dear Lila,

Today you turn eight years old! We started your morning with the usual donuts, balloons, flowers and presents. I love showering you with attention on your special day, because you absolutely deserve it!

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It feels a little weird that you’re turning eight, because on one end I feel like you were just my little baby. I can actually feel your little hand in mine as we took on all our daily adventures to story time, play dates, the zoo and coffee shops. It was just you and me most days and it was so awesome.

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But then on the other hand you seem so much older than eight. You have a quiet maturity beyond your years. Sometimes when we’re laying in bed before I say goodnight, you tell me about your day, your friends, whats happening in school and I feel like I’m talking to a young woman, not a little kid.

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You’ve shifted away from princesses and dress up towards pop singers and begging me to wear some makeup. While I am not too keen on you growing up too fast, I am enjoying watching the amazing person you’re becoming. I tell my friends all the time that you really are such a wonderful kid. When I feel like I’m failing as a parent, I remind myself how great you are, so I must be doing something right, right??

Screen Shot 2020-11-16 at 1.38.05 PMThis year you’ve really come into your own. You are so confident that it blows my mind sometimes. When I was your age I often tried to do anything to just fit in – even hiding parts of myself to appease others – but you are unabashedly yourself. This is probably why people are so drawn to you!

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Just like when you were a toddler and would ask me daily to “go bye bye sumpin,” you still like being active and busy. This year you did cross country again and got first place at championships against girls a year older than you. It was so exciting! Other sports you’ve done this year include swimming, tennis, golf, basketball and yoga. You also still love art, drawing, singing and you’re just starting piano lessons. On the rare days we don’t have anything planned, you usually beg to have a friend over to play. You do NOT like just sitting around.

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Despite having a lot of friends, you still love spending time with your family the most. You have developed an especially close bond with Alden. And he adores you right back. You love to hold him, play with him and try to get him to giggle. You’re also still very close with your cousins Mabel and Reagan. I’m so thankful for technology that has allowed you girls to play games together despite covid and living so far apart.

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You are incredibly smart and have an insatiable appetite for reading. Daddy can’t keep library books coming fast enough for you and we often have to tell you to turn the lights off or you’d read well into the night. In fact last year you read the most minutes during a school competition – 33 hours in one weeks! You definitely got your memory from your Daddy as you already smoke me in matching games. I love that you love school, learning and expressing your creativity. I often find you writing stories, plays or poems in your free time.

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I love how sensitive and open you are with your feelings. Almost every day you tell Daddy and I how much you love and appreciate us. You always express your genuine appreciation for the things we do for you, like take you shopping or have your friends over. Little things many kids take for granted, you recognize and know how lucky you are. Any time you feel angry, upset or sad, you are able to work through your tough emotions and apologize on your own later. Like I said, you’re mature beyond your years!

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These birthday letters are always bittersweet because I know you’re growing up and eventually will set out on your own. Any time I start to get sad though I remind myself how lucky I am that I got to spend literally every day of your life with you. I haven’t missed a thing and it’s been the BEST experience of my life watching you grow up.

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I hope you know how special you are to me and Daddy. We are so proud of you kiddo!!!

Love always,

Mommy

 

 

 

Giveaway: Get $100 a Watermelon Session with Brittany Ann Photography

Summer is in full swing here in Ohio! Our kids have been enjoying getting outside, going to the pool and playing tennis. Even though this summer looks different than years past due to COVID, we are making the most of the beautiful weather.

One thing I wanted to do was capture the kids in a photo session, so when Brittany from Brittany Ann Photography offered to do a watermelon mini session I jumped at the chance. The photos turned out so adorable and the kids had a blast!

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Brittany does such a fantastic job of capturing the kids personalities. She’s so good with the kids that I honestly didn’t do a thing for this shoot! And can we also talk about how Lila looks 16!?

Brittany Ann Photography is offering one of my readers $50 off their Watermelon mini session (normally $175) PLUS $50 in print credits! The session must be booked by end of August.

To enter, follow @brittanyannphotos on Instagram and comment below with your kids favorite summer fruit. I’ll pick a winner on July 3rd!

Dear Boys, You’re Four Years Old!

Dear Whitaker and Davis,

A few weeks ago you guys turned four years old! We had grand plans to throw you a big birthday party with a magician, but the coronavirus pandemic foiled our plans. Instead, after 56 days of isolating at home, we decided it was safe enough to spend your birthday with Grammie and Gramps.

You both were SO HAPPY to be out of the house visiting your grandparents. They as usual made the visit lovely for you, with special toys laid out all around the house, big wheels in the garage and all your favorite foods ready. I was so relived to see both of your happy, sweet spirits return while we were there. At one point, Davis, you said “I’m so happy here.”

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The morning of your birthday, you woke up (Davis at 2:45 am from excitement!) to gifts, cake, balloons and transformer decorations, because if there’s one thing to know about you right now, it’s that you LOVE transformers! We ate a breakfast of cinnamon rolls, eggs, bacon and fruit before you tore into your presents (surprise! More transformers).

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It was a great end to your third year. Honestly, three has been a tricky year for you guys in many ways. A new sibling joining the family, starting school, then your beloved preschool teacher abruptly leaving and finally a global pandemic completely halting your life. So many big changes happened this year, that any one would struggle with, let alone a little three year old.

Three is a big year already with a lot of milestones. You both became more independent, yet still wanted to be little. In fact leading up to your fourth birthday, Whitaker, you asked me “Do I have to become a big guy on my birthday?” I reassured you that you have a lot more years as a “little guy” before the pressure of growing up is upon you.

Despite all the changes, one thing remained consistent this year, and that is your brotherly bond. I feel bad at times that I group you two together (like writing you one blog post vs two separate), but in reality you two are still very much a package deal. You love being together, playing transformers for hours. When I try to do “special time” with you separately, you both ask where the other one is and why did I leave them at home!?

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Although you’ve got that amazing twin bond going on, you both are very different in many ways.

Davis, you are our little builder. You love playing with legos, connecting blocks and other toys that require you to use your imagination to build something. I think that’s why you love transformers so much, because you can use your hands to change and morph them into something new. Your focus and concentration amazes me – you already can complete transformers that are 20+ steps meant for 10 year olds.

IMG_4696You are still my sweet snuggler and are content to lay with me watching a show (usually transformers). It absolutely melts my heart when you let me hold you, because your siblings are far too active for that. I will miss that time together so much when you get older and don’t want your mommy as much.

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I’ve realized this year that you are far more sensitive than I ever thought. You pick up on things that other kids are oblivious to. No small detail passes you by. You are the kid stopping to notice the roughness of the tree bark, or the feather underneath the grass.

This also has meant you have stronger emotions to things like the coronavirus. You ask me a lot about the virus, when it will end and why you can’t go to school or go to all the places you love. While my heart hurts seeing you struggle with these big feelings, I know this sensitivity will be an amazing asset for you as you grow up. You’ll be the man who is a empathetic husband, father and friend.

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Whitaker you have grown up so much this past year and yet in many ways are still my baby boy. You enjoy your creature comforts and honestly find the whole school thing a little bit uncomfortable. Pretty much every day you would cling to us at drop off and start your day crying a bit. The teachers assured us that you warmed up quickly, but let’s just say the stay at home order from the pandemic was a welcome change from you!

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You are such a BOY it’s almost funny. My friends laugh at all my Instagram stories showing you scaling some part of our furniture, making giant messes or just being your loud, boisterous self. Before having boys, I thought all that gender stuff was mostly conditioning, but you have shown me that it can be absolutely just inherent!


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You are a strong little guy and have such coordination. Before your fourth birthday you were riding a bike without training wheels. I can see a future in athletics for you for sure. Beyond your physicality, you also love playing transformers with Davis. You love making up little story lines and I’ll often hear you mumbling to yourself followed by a “blast! blast!”

 

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Oh and if you can’t tell by these photos, you spent most of your third year of life naked! lol. You definitely make your preferences known and can be extremely persistent in what you want. This will serve you well later in life when you won’t let yourself be peer pressured. I have a feeling you’ll be the person who always knows what they want in life.

I am so excited to see what this year brings for both of you. If your experience is anything like your sisters, I think you’ll love being four. For her things just sort of “clicked” shortly after her fourth birthday and life for everyone got a lot easier.

My hope for both of you this year is that you know how much you are loved and that no matter what challenges come your way, you are capable of overcoming them. You’ll have your family cheering you on every step of the way.

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We love you both so much and are so glad we get to watch you both grow up together.

XO,

Mommy

 

Alden’s Birth Story – a Successful VBA2C

Our fourth baby made his arrival on his due date – December 10 at 8:54 am. He weighed in at a hefty 9 lbs 12 oz and has a TON of hair. We’ve been home for a few weeks and are all settling in with our new little love.

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We named him Alden Roy. Alden means “old, wise friend” and Roy is after Luke’s maternal grandfather – the person who sparked his love of golf and so much more. So far he’s been a super sweet baby and perfect addition to our family.

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I like to document each kids birth story so I can remember the details of each day. We usually will read their birth story to them on their birthdays. They love hearing all the ups and downs of their original birth days.

Alden’s begins at 36 weeks pregnant. I had already had two c-sections, Lila’s because she was a surprise breech after laboring to 8 cm, and the boys at 34 weeks because I had preeclampsia. My doctor and I had already set a scheduled c-section date and I had just figured “that was that.”

Until my intuition told me to at least look up the options for having a vaginal delivery after two c-sections. I was surprised to learn that the risk of uterine rupture after two csections was only 1.36% and that more than 80% of women who do a trial of labor are successful in having a vaginal birth.

I brought this information up to my doctor at my 36 week appointment, expecting her to shut me down, but I was surprised by how open she was to discussing doing a vbac. We decided to take the last few weeks of my pregnancy week by week to see how things were going. At each appointment thereafter she became more and more optimistic about my having a vbac, until we actually cancelled my scheduled csection.

At 38 weeks I began having a lot of contractions, but they would always peter out. Then at my 39 week appointment, I was frustrated to learn I was not dilated at all. I began to second guess myself and got quite discouraged about being able to pull a vbac off.

I knew I had to go into labor on my own (you cannot induce with a vbac because it’s too hard on the uterus) and was starting to wonder if I would ever have this baby! On his due date, I decided to try what worked to start labor with Lila – spicy thai food. :)

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After dinner I went to bed feeling nothing. Around 12:30 am I was awakened with a strong, painful contraction. I didn’t think much of it because I had been having contractions for weeks. I laid in bed and timed the contractions, but they were only every 10-15 minutes so I tried to go back to sleep.

Over the next two hours the contraction became more regular and stronger, so I woke Luke up and called my mom to come over. As I hung up with my mom, I felt a POP and knew my water had broken. I ran to the shower and told Luke to pack our stuff up. I knew from my experience having my water break with Lila that labor was about to start for real.

Sure enough by the time we drove the 15 minute drive from our house to the hospital, I had had 10 contractions in the car. Originally my plan was to labor in the car outside the hospital for a bit because my doctor told me if I arrived not progressed much, my chances of a vbac would be lower. But when we arrived I knew I needed to go in. The contractions were every 3 minutes and painful enough I could not talk through them.

I’m so glad I went in when I did because it took THREE HOURS before I was given an epidural. That entire time I was having strong contractions about every 1-1.5 minutes apart. It felt like I was never able to get a break.

I went into the hospital expecting to have to fight for my wishes to have a vbac, but was surprised by how positive and accepting everyone was. The intake nurses didn’t bat an eye when I told them I’d had two csections already and the L&D nurse really didn’t even mention it.

I was also ecstatic to learn my doctor was at the hospital! She is part of a 10 doctor practice and is only there one night a week, so I was expecting to have a doctor I didn’t know, which would just complicate the whole situation further. Having her there helped me feel at ease and safe.

Any way, when I first arrived, they confirmed that my water did break. Then they checked me and I was only 3 CM dilated. I was discouraged at first, but kept reminding myself that I dilated from zero to 8 cm in five hours with Lila. And by the strength of my contractions, my body clearly knew what to do.

I had to wait what seemed like forever to get my epidural because I had high blood pressure when I arrived. Since I had a history of preeclampsia with the boys, they had to check some blood work before anesthesia would see me. Waiting on the results felt like forever! I kept focusing on breathing through the contractions and letting my body take over, but I cannot lie – I was SO HAPPY to finally get the epidural. Once I was finally able to relax, the nurse brought me a popsicle to celebrate.

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My doctor then came in and said since she had been there all night, she was going to run home to shower and nap and would come back to deliver me. Since I was only 3cm at my last check, we assumed we had several more hours to go.

She decided to check me before she left to gauge how much time she had. When she lifted the sheet, her eyes went wide and she said “Well never mind! We’re having a baby now!” Apparently his head was nearly coming out and a tuft of dark hair was visible.

Twenty minutes later Alden was born. When he came out everyone kept saying “OH WOW he’s a big boy!!” I was expecting 8 lbs or so, but was shocked when he weighed at 9 lbs 12 oz. I mean Lila was full term and only 6 lbs 8 oz. Crazy.

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They laid him on my chest and I was … just in shock. I was overcome with emotion. Love for my baby, relief that he was born safely, admiration for my determination and JOY that I had done it!

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Both my doctor and I started crying “we did it!” We hugged over Alden and I told her “You are doing exactly what God intended you to do. You are SUCH an amazing doctor. Thank you.” She told me later that I was her first patient to ever do a VBA2C and that she was now “a believer.”

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After two stressful emergency c-sections, Alden’s birth was my redemption birth. I loved being able to be an active participant and to know that my body was capable and strong. I still love my csection births and am beyond grateful they helped bring my three other babies safely into the world, but I am also happy I got to have the powerful experience of a vaginal birth. It’s pretty cool to say I’ve experienced both sides, because truly ALL births are beautiful in their own way.

My recovery went a lot better than with my csections. I was in a lot of pain postpartum after my csections and with my VBAC, I was up and walking around hours later. I even felt up for having photos taken 48 hours later in the hospital. Our amazing sitter and photographer Brittany Anne Photography took them.

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I will say, the long term recovery was a bit slower than expected. I had a second degree tear that reopened two weeks post partum. I think mainly because I pushed it too hard and didn’t rest enough. It was hard to rest with all that comes with the Christmas season and three older kids. I’m four weeks out now though and finally feeling fully like myself.

Alden is likely our last baby, so it’s bittersweet to say I’ll never be pregnant or give birth again. It’s hard to feel sad though when I think about how perfectly his birth went. I will cherish this experience birthing my last baby forever.

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