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eloise josephine–a birth story, part 2.

19 May

So where were we, little one?…

Someday you might not remember the upstairs of the little blue house, but there we were: daddy with Henry in his bedroom, trying to keep things as normal as possible, me in the bathroom, gearing up physically and emotionally for what was happening, and Karlye rounding the banister to the second floor, just in time to gather me up as I realized how quickly things were starting to move. I wanted so much for Henry to have a calm morning, and I wasn’t sure of how he’d feel about watching mom in pain, so (barely) between contractions, Karlye helped me travel from upstairs to down while daddy occupied your brother. Someday we’ll talk more about this, but one of the best things about having a doula around is that they just get what’s happening, and often without words. Karlye knew you were really coming along…everything I was doing could show it. I didn’t feel panicky, but my sense of urgency about things was heightening quickly.

I wanted cereal, then I didn’t. I wanted to move from one place to another, then…NO. WAIT. I just wanted to stay in one place. I’m sure it was kind of entertaining, but I suppose you could ask Karlye about that. I camped out in a standing position at the end of our bed, grabbing onto the foot board rail for support. Karlye applied counter pressure whenever a contraction came. I remember the feeling bringing me up to my toes, everything in me curling, even as I tried to relax. Time was moving fast. Daddy was in and out of the room, having gotten Henry to the breakfast table and distracted with food. He’d called your grammy to come over, and was juggling contact with her and the photographer and the doctor’s office as our timeline kept changing. Wait. No, don’t wait. Maybe call in a little bit…No, better call right now. I’d wanted so badly to have time with your brother that morning before we became four instead of three. The best I could manage was to time a super-quick hug and goodbye with him at the bedroom doorway, just as one contraction ended and right before another one began. I won’t soon forget daddy carrying Henry in and then ducking back out again. It was crazy-bittersweet for me. I was so beyond excited to meet you, but processing the end of a different chapter at the same time. And baby, you were leaving me little room for over-thinking. ;)

I can still see the light in our room, the pale colors, the texture of the morning and the heat and the intensity all blended into one space. In a very short time (no more than half an hour from when she’d first arrived), Karlye and I both decided it was definitely time to get to the hospital. No such thing as a “low key morning at home” for you, my dear. You were ready to be here. Your grammy arrived as I came down the hall. I took one last look in the hallway mirror and thought a thousand things. Your daddy was re-routing the photographer to the hospital and juggling bags and checking in with me and settling Henry…a dozen tasks in a matter of two minutes. We thought we’d never rush to the hospital again, living so close, and here we were, practically running (ok, shuffle-waddling) out the door!

I stopped at the back gate and took as deep a breath as I could manage. The summer air was perfect, the sun, shining. I trailed one of those “life will never be the same again” thoughts in my mind. It wouldn’t be. In a good way. Your daddy had turned the car around for me and helped me up. Between contractions, I asked him (or probably told him with some intensity) to take me to the front door of the hospital. “Don’t go to emergency. I am NOT sitting in a wheelchair,” I tried to explain. Karlye drove separately and met us there not minutes later. I couldn’t believe how fast your dad was moving! He helped me out at the front door, parked, and had all of our things back to meet me in the lobby in probably 60 seconds flat. I think maybe the part where I said I felt like I was holding you in sort of hustled everyone along…

From the hospital doors, down the looooong hallway, into the elevator and up to the birth center, I had eight contractions. Eight. They were exactly as on top of each other as they could have possibly been. I stopped with almost every one, except for maybe two–I was pretty convinced that I might have you right there in the hallway, and I just. needed. to get. to. a room. Probably no less than six people asked if we needed a wheelchair. I know I made the morning at least a bit more interesting for one little boy and his dad as they walked out of the hospital. Ha.

As the elevator doors opened on the birthing center, a woman walking by asked if we were leaving. Nope. Just standing on the floor of a birthing center in an elevator, carrying around a huge belly and having a contraction, I thought to myself. Nothing could have seemed more ridiculous to me in the moment. “Oh, good,” she’d said as Karlye answered her, “because it doesn’t look good.” “It doesn’t NOT look good,” I remember saying to her. “I’m having a baby.” Oh, mama. I suppose being in labor makes us all say things we wouldn’t otherwise. I waddled down the hallway toward the nurses’ station, where my doctor stood waiting. Just as when our nurse came around the desk before I delivered your brother, this moment was one of great relief for me. We’d made it. Or as our Dr. announced, “Here she is. And under her own power!” Yes. Everything was feeling fairly victorious in that moment. There’s something about labor that does this to a woman. You feel like you could do just about anything. Because you can. It’s the greatest rush I’ve ever experienced.

At this point, I remember standing (or probably bending) there awkwardly for a moment, and finally saying, “So, where am I going?” in the general direction of the nurses’ station. I’m all for visiting and such, but I was ready to be in one place and to stay there. “Room 106,” the nurse pointed. Just barely down the hall from where we’d done this before. I made my way into the room, and grabbed onto the *rolling* bedside table just in time for another serious surge. Not my best move in all of this, but your dad was quick on his feet and secured that thing while supporting me in a flash. Karlye was at my other side, and I stood there, working through each contraction with some intensity, until the nurse came in. Maybe minutes had passed…maybe…but this whole story is still such a drawn out movie in my mind. I’m so grateful. When the nurse asked me to get on the bed, I think I must have looked at her as though she had four eyes. I told her no. As much as I do try to be gracious, transition in labor is no time to say more than what’s practical or necessary. She wanted to measure my progress, and I agreed, but on my own terms. Her next words were confirming and relieving and encouraging all at once. “You’re complete. I’ll let your doctor know.” And suddenly, we were in business.


I wasn’t going to do this, Miss Eloise, but the very best part of the story comes next, and it deserves an entry all to its own. One more day to wait…I promise it’s worth it! Your big debut…tomorrow, my love.

happy nine months to the sweetest, spunkiest nine month old i know!


a crazy ton.

25 Apr

Last night, I was thinking back three years to that sacred afternoon when our whole world began to change in the very best way. We knew you were coming, Henry, and the excitement and joy and celebration of it all was far more significant than the pain of the process. At 3 am on the dot that next, early morning–when we laid eyes on you for the very first time, my heart stretched and stretched until I didn’t think it could stretch anymore. Clearly, I hadn’t gotten to know you yet.

There are things I’ve already forgotten about the time between then and now, but largely, I remember so much of you in every stage. You are forever imprinted in my mind. All of your firsts have been ours as well–all of your joys and hurts and triumphs and struggles ours, too. The thing with you Henry is that you claimed the very first piece of my mama heart. You did that day, and you still do now. I am blessed to know now that God gives us mamas hearts for each of our children, and yours, Henry, is bursting on a day like today.

Celebrating your birthday is much like dedicating a day (or a week, in this house ;) to the marvelous miracle God has created you to be, and then thanking Him for you over and over until my joy is so abundantly full I could actually burst with gratitude. I don’t take it lightly that you are ours for a time. No. I think being your mom has taught me to savor, but not take for granted. To be reflective in a new way regarding my calling and my responsibilities to The Lord. Thank you for that.

As you unwrapped new cars and trucks today, and as you rode through the store on your very first big boy bicycle, you seemed to possess a new little confidence–one that enhances everything about you that you already are. There must be something to saying, “I’m three!” or to considering that fact as you go about things all day long. You are growing into a remarkable person, Henry! I almost cringe to admit that you feel so grown up, because it have loved every part of Baby Henry, and every aspect of toddler Henry, too. Now suddenly, you will be riding down the street on your bicycle and going to school in the fall, and I still want to think of you as so small when really, you’re coming into your own.

My favorite parts of today were all moments when you and I spent concentrated time together–a bagel date with you at JP’s, watching a movie snuggled up on the couch as Eloise napped, reading with you in my lap this afternoon and at bedtime. I adore our conversations and teaching you about things like pay phones and Jesus and how to pedal a bike. There are few–if any, things I would rather have done today than celebrate the marvelous boy you continue to become. In fact, I can’t really come up with even one!

Thank you for blessing our lives with yours, Henry David! Your unmatched energy, contagious curiosity, and innate ability to light up a room (and your sister’s face) at any moment just continue to bring pure joy! You are articulate and smart. Funny and creative. Imaginative, thoughtful, conscientious, and kind. I couldn’t ask for a better match for our family, or for a better son than God has given us in you!

I pray that this coming year will be filled with all kinds of adventures–big and small, that God will protect and keep you, and that you will know our love for you in deep and simple ways, every single day. You are a gift, sweet three year old!

i love you a crazy ton!





reporting for duty ;)

9 Feb

It’s mid-February, and it’s been snowing. A lot. Like 115″ a lot. Every hint of green or formerly green or will-be-green-again-someday is buried. Shoveling and snow blowing are kind of like Olympic events around here, and most of us have forgotten what our yards look like. That being said, I do not want to write about snow. Quite frankly, I think it’s gotten enough attention already. So there’s my obligatory update on the weather–which should come as no surprise to most, being that it is mid-winter and we live in the Midwest.

Now, all winter banter aside, February is full of eventful things and we’re not even halfway thru the month. We’re just getting back from a lovely overnight in Chicago where we paid our annual visit to the Chicago Auto Show. Until last year, I’d never attended, but I’ll admit I’ve grown to like it quite easily. The boys (big and small) look forward to it so much. I couldn’t really resist going to watch them enjoy the fun! I picked my favorites again this year, but I’m not yet ready to admit what they are (although I did hint at an Airstream in my Instagram feed yesterday…).

This year, we wised up a bit and checked into the hotel adjacent to the show–perfect for this nursing mama and our two kiddos when we all needed to rest, plus, it afforded us the sense of a mini-getaway with some pool time and fun meals out in the city. It was refreshing to find a plethora of dairy-free options at the ready for dinner last night and lunch today. I didn’t have to try very hard to accommodate this new-for-me diet shift away from home. (More on my transition to a DF menu in a later post.) This particular trip to Chicago marked a few firsts for our little fam–our first hotel stay with Eloise in tow, her first dip in the pool (it was even warm and sunny where we lounged ;), and her first successful attempt at sitting up this morning. Of course, the car show with two kids in tow was a first, too. I’m so thankful for my Solly Baby Wrap, which kept E snug as a bug and close to mama while we wandered and she napped.

I feel like I’m missing a lot of documentation these days as I spend my time really focused on the kiddos and home life, with little margin for a whole lot else. Not a bad swap, certainly, but I do hope I’ll be able to look back on this season and remember some of the milestones I’ve not written down. In that vein, Henry is officially signed up for preschool as of Thursday (!), Eloise is suddenly rolling over (both directions) like a champ in the past week or so, we’re teething for sure, and H got his 9th (crazy!) haircut the other day. He is looking dapper and so old, with a third birthday right around the corner. Eloise will be six months old next week and starting table food, which will (hopefully) give this ’round-the-clock nursing woman a smallish break in the action. I know a daddy and big brother who are eager to help in this way, and I’m excited to employ willing hands :)

We’re all beyond anxious to get outside and enjoy walks and hikes and parks and such…cannot wait to take the kiddos out for morning coffee with just a stroller and spring jackets, or to push Eloise on the swings for the very first time. Still, there’s no shortage of activity to be had in the little blue house or in these days as we pass time thru the winter months. We wake up with plans and aspirations of things to do and explore every morning, falling short of our lists all of the time and better for learning daily how to go with the flow.

I do love that love is in the air as Valentine’s Day rounds the corner, and as I look forward to celebrating my three loves this week. The weekend together was a very good start, indeed.

rested in spirit, which may be a first in a while. grateful of all of this Grace,






you’re safe with me.

17 Nov

Dear Eloise,

Here you are, now twelve weeks old, and all this time I’m racking up mommy guilt like a pro because I’ve hardly written since you were born. It’s an amazing phenomenon, this mommy guilt thing, and I’m convinced it’s evil’s way of getting under my skin in this beautifully raw season. It’s true I’ve not written you much–and I regret not keeping up the way I did for your brother. But then…well, let’s just say there’s no benefit in keeping score.

Life with you is full to the full, Miss E. You, Henry and I keep ourselves busy every single day if nothing else. And when the day is done and H has long gone to bed, we keep on going, you and I–into the wee hours with our marathon snuggles and feeding sessions and cooing and tears. I didn’t imagine it this way, and yet, I can’t say how I did see us moving through these hours. Maybe with a little more sleep or a little more freedom to accomplish tasks and stay on top of things, I guess. I want you to know I’ve never been mad about this. Frustrated with circumstances in moments, sure. Worn down, yes. But never mad, and certainly not with you.

I want to be meeting all of your needs and imprinting a level of security for you that you’ll carry with you through childhood and into adulthood. If you need mama all but for the blessed and restorative hours you sleep each night, I’m yours. I hope you sense this in the care I’m giving as we learn each other more. You are always safe with me, no matter the day or hour. I pray this notion is woven into your heart.

As I type this evening, you are where you can be found nightly–asleep in my lap on the couch just waiting out the hours together. I’ve tried to tuck you in sooner, but it’s not your cup of tea. You want to be close, close, close, and I can’t deny you this at such a young age. It may be tiring, but it’s also lovely. And the things piled up around me are ones you’ll never remember…tasks I once saved for H’s bedtime that get little to no attention now. By this time, I thought we’d acclimate; we’d find a rhythm and be moving toward a schedule. I thought you’d be drinking bottles and I’d be back to work part time in a more substantial capacity than I am to date. I thought a lot of things and planned to be more present doing so much else, when really all I should have planned on for sure was you. I’m getting there.

Now, that’s what I do. I simply plan on you and your sweet brother who loves you, and together we move in and out of days like buoys, bobbing in a bouncy sea. Sometimes we’re admiring the horizon, sometimes just staying afloat, rarely longing for shore or something different than this. The thing is, you two are a high calling (and arguably the highest, while you’re growing), and the rest of what I feel called to or pulled toward will either wait for me or it won’t. I’m not neglecting anything on purpose. Just parenting you two with a purpose and working to shake off the mommy guilt for the rest. I’m almost over that, too, in a way. Because I’m not sure God could make it much clearer that you are the thing. That this is the thing. Your freedom to be who you are at this early stage and my freedom to love you to the utmost degree. And these are the things–the hours we keep all tucked in close, your deep dependency for now, this little family we have become, and all of the safety I can offer you. When the piles reach the ceiling in my mind and the world is pulling as it is wont to do, I pray that I will have been unwaveringly faithful to this.

you are loved, little one. so very, unbelievably loved.


dear eloise.

19 Sep

Eloise Josephine,

One month ago today, you joined our family in person and made your birthday official. To date, August 19th, 2013 is one of the most spectacular days of my life. Thank you for making your mark on our hearts so marvelously that morning ;)

For the past month, you have changed the shape of our days and brightened the world just by being in it. Your sweet spirit and peaceful presence are notable–you love to snuggle and be tucked into my arms at all hours of the day. I look at you and wonder at the gift of a baby girl in our lives…no doubt the tiny person God intended for our family in this season that feels so full of mystery and change.

There’s so much I want to tell you about who you are already, and I owe you the tale of the day you were born. (We have magnificent photos of your birth and the precious hours after you arrived, too…) I wanted so much to have that for you now, but am recognizing the importance of having time with you more. I’ll work on your story, I promise, and you’ll have it before long. For now, you have your mama’s attention and lap and hours, and I couldn’t offer you better. I want you to feel warm and safe and settled as you acclimate to life here in the world…I think perhaps you miss the womb a bit, and I’m trying to acknowledge what makes you most comfortable for now as you grow into yourself. Truth be told, I loved having you tucked safely away just as much as I love having you right in front of me. I can’t believe a month has already gone by since we first set eyes on you. You’re such a precious, precious little girl.

Happy one month birthday, Eloise! Thank you for blessing our lives (and your mama’s heart) for the past thirty days. Here’s to thousands and thousands more!!

love overflowing,

mOm ;)

four weeks.

16 Sep

Whoops! This didn’t publish as planned when I wrote it. :(  A few days late, but the sentiment is the same…

There is just SO much to say as we reach this little milestone of four weeks with our sweet baby girl. I realize I haven’t even formally introduced her here yet, but it’s not for lack of intention, I promise! I’m writing tonight after days of wanting to record every sweet thing about our new babe–the thing is, each time I set out to write, there’s a need to attend to here. As much as I want to be recording precious memories for my kiddos to someday hold dear, I’m busy being mama to them right now (as I know any parent totally understands). This newborn season is so fleeting. And our toddler is very much a toddler. Both have different needs for time and energy at the moment that no blog could. When triaging the day, I’m so sad to say that writing rarely makes the cut for now.

As “the Button” nears her one month birthday this week, I’m plotting out her birth story post and excited to begin telling her tale a bit more in the days ahead. She is, as any child, a most perfect gift from The Lord–and although I may not say it as often as I’d like in a blog post, we are certainly celebrating her presence daily.

This has been a beautiful and most difficult season of parenting for me…learning a new baby while desiring to give my best to our first born is a tireless and, at times, overwhelming task. But I wouldn’t change it for anything. I am in love with both kiddos for new reasons every day. And I’m gleaning new tricks of the trade and levels of patience as I go–things that will undoubtedly come in handy in the days ahead!

I can hardly believe four weeks have gone by…in a whirlwind of visitors, cluster feeding growth spurts, a bout of illness, and a grand attempt at getting to know our little leading lady. In three days, when a month rolls around, I may be moved to tears at the thought that it’s already come and gone. For so long we anticipated her arrival, and now, we blink and she’s changing right before our eyes!

so much to be grateful for as I type, one handed, from my phone tonight. it’s a glorious thing to have so much love and so little sleep all at once ;) happy “four weeks,” eloise!


every good and perfect gift.

31 Aug

Eloise is twelve days old today. Naturally, the past twelve days have been a mix of beauty, adjustment, re-entry, sleepiness, joy, challenge, and great blessing. We are acclimating to life as a family of four, and I, as a mama to two–two babes that God has entrusted to our care, and two who serve as an all day reminder of the responsibility God has placed on my life as a mother. I have never experienced a greater sense of calling, nor have I been more humbled by the way God has surrounded me with His presence and care.

For so long, I prayed over the details of my second labor and delivery, and for so long, I battled new fears and self doubt–all the while wanting desperately for God to be glorified in the process of His creation and design. Someday soon I’ll tell the story of all that God did to be present and to cover Eloise’s birth and my heart. For now, I’ll simply say that He is good, and that His love is palpable and accessible and wonderfully present these days. Ellie’s labor and delivery were just the very beginning of this humbling season…

I hardly know where to begin telling the post-birth chapter. We shared the news of our baby girl’s arrival, and love poured right on in from the very first minute. God has shown up in visits and prayers, in thoughtful gifts and wonderful, home-cooked meals. He has shown up in sweet, sweet times on our couch with dear friends as they meet Eloise, in overly-generous gestures of celebration and shared joy. He has been present in dishes washed, laundry done, vacuuming checked off the list. And most especially, He has cared for our hearts in the care of our sweet Henry. Family and friends have certainly not forgotten (and most definitely celebrated) H’s new, big brother status and the challenges that can come with such change. In turn, I have been blessed with the joy of watching our eldest enjoy others, and also with the gift of time for our new little one. Getting to know her with room enough to still snuggle our first munchkin has added peace to my heart.

I’ve learned a lot in twelve days, and I’ve had to realize over and over again that God’s overflow is something I can’t begin to measure. The cup and portion are simply too big. In the same ways that Henry has taught us so much about joy and laughter and discernment, I have a feeling that our new little lady has been delivered to us to teach us a new depth of love and a softness that our lives could all use. She brings with her a peaceful calm I can’t ignore. What gifts from The Lord!!

Before long, I’ll begin to write thank you notes and make a very feeble attempt to express our gratitude for all that God is doing through those around us. It will, no doubt, feel an insignificant gesture by comparison to the love we’ve witnessed these past few weeks. Even still, maybe God will doubly bless those who bless us. May it be so!

admiring God’s handiwork in the new life before me, and thanking Him over and over again for the gifts of love and friendship that have come along with ellie’s arrival,

one grateful mama

midnight snack.

29 Aug

Milk for you. Cheerios and blueberries for me. Just in case you ever wonder when we started having sleepovers–we didn’t wait one bit. You and me? We’re having a pajama party every night these days. Loving this snugly time with you when you’re just a bundle of scrunchy, warm love in my arms.

We pretty much exist in our own little world at this time of day–you, making sleepy-eyed faces at me and I, singing made up songs and trying to learn you in every move and detail. I’m fairly certain we get along alright so far. :)

loving you at every hour of the day and admiring your pretty little face,

your mama


one week.

27 Aug

Sweet Baby Girl,

You are officially one week old (and almost a day, because I’m posting this to you so late). There’s so much I want to say to you already, and I’m not sure I’ll ever keep up with all of my thoughts for you from here on out, but I’ll certainly try. You’ve been home now for five days, give or take, and we’re all in love with you. I’ve never been so smitten, really…except for when we brought your brother home, which was equally as joy-filled and wonderful. All day long I keep thinking to myself, “This is the very best part of the day!” and the thing is, it’s true every time. You are as sweet as sweet can possibly be, and I just can’t get enough of you. Everything about you is a precious, precious gift!

Each day that’s gone by, I’ve wanted so badly to write you–and to tell you all about the day and what we did together as a family. Time is flying so quickly, though, and between caring for you and keeping up with your enthusiastic big brother, your daddy and I have had our hands full. We’ve spent the past number of days home as a family, learning how to be four and taking you in. Today was daddy’s first day back to work and I was admittedly a bit nervous. I didn’t know how I’d manage a newborn and a toddler all at once without sort of losing my wits, but we did it! Your daddy came home and we were all in one piece–showered, dressed, fed, somewhat rested, happy. And tonight, I’ll go to bed thrilled that you and H have both had baths, that there’s laundry in progress, that the dishes are done…the little things that will make a difference in our day tomorrow. Today went by more quickly than I imagined, as I suppose many of them will from here! I’m eager to explore the world with you and Henry together, and to watch you learn and grow with each other in a beautiful way.

Your big brother is quite taken with you and loves to hold and kiss you regularly. Today, he probably checked on you a dozen times in a span of 15 minutes, and each time he would say, “I will go check on Eloise! I will see if she is sad, or happy, or scared, or worried, or confused, or angry, or just fine.” It was the cutest thing, and he’d come back each time to tell me you were ok (and sleeping), and to repeat the process all over again. You’re in good hands with him to watch over you, Miss Eloise! I’m so glad that God gave you a big brother as thoughtful and gentle and loving as Henry, and I know you’ll be thankful, too.

You are a champion sleeper at the moment, really only waking to eat and staying awake a short time. You’ve even blessed your mama with 4 or so hours in a row of sleep each night for the past few–something I never expected but am so thankful for as I care for you throughout the day. We are working together to learn each other and to be in sync as best we can. I so love having you out in the world–just as much as I loved carrying you around in my belly for all of those months!

Ellie B (I’ll explain later…I know you’re Ellie Jo:), you are an absolute delight! I can’t wait to tell you so much more about who you are at this age, and how much joy and light you’re already bringing to our lives. For now, I’d better tuck in for a bit while you sleep–that way, we can all face the day with energy together tomorrow.

I love you so very much…I feel like I could burst!

certainly the luckiest,

your mama

this would have been (3).

21 Aug

Two and a half days ago, life was looking very different. Tonight, I’m sitting here, admiring my baby girl’s sweet face and enjoying the comforts of home. The boys are upstairs sleeping, the house is completely quiet, my heart is unbelievably full.

Our sweet peanut arrived just as I had prayed and hoped–six days early and healthy, healthy, healthy–praise The Lord! I’m totally overwhelmed by this new little life in our hands.

I skipped the blog last night because it just didn’t feel quite right to interrupt our time in the hospital, and it still feels kind of strange to be blogging from home, even now. Sometime in the next few days I’ll be back to tell the story–to share more about our babe and what God has been doing here. And I promise there will be plenty of pictures:)

In the meantime, we’ll be tucked in quietly, adjusting to the new normal, squeezing BOTH of our kiddos as often as possible, and resting whenever we’re given the chance. It’s a beautiful season I want to capture in every detail–it’ll just be soaking itself into my heart a bit first before I share it here on the blog.

looking forward to connecting with all of you very soon…



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