thankfulness day five and six

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day five: i am so thankful that the Lord brought these three precious girls into my life and allowed me to be their mama. i am also thankful that he allowed me to reconnect with them before we move to moldova.

day six: (in honor of orphan sunday being today) i am very thankful to be the auntie to these amazing two…my nephew, spencer and my niece, emma.

a month of thankfulness

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let’s just pretend today is the first of november instead of the fifth. 🙂 i have excuses, right? anyway, november is a great month. it’s my birthday month AND it’s a time to be thankful. i wish i could say i focused on being thankful all year. practice makes perfect though, so for the month of november, i am going to try and be extra thankful!

day one: i am thankful for the birth of this amazing little person, mercy adoniyah. what a blessing to be her mama!

day two: i am thankful that the Lord gave me such an amazing, helpful and totally handsome husband. the Lord does give us good things!

day three: i am thankful for this goofball of a child, addy grace. she will be three this month and every day is a blessing and adventure with her. she truly shows me what it means to become like a young child.

day four: i am thankful for this amazing person…my sister, dohdoh (aka sarah). we’ve been through a lot this past almost three years that she has lived down south with me.

this is just the beginning, i hope! twenty-five more days of thankfulness!

mercy adoniyah, four months old

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i can’t believe it has been four months since mercy’s birth. it seems like it was just yesterday i was holding my newborn baby. now i have this smiling, laughing, giggling bundle of happiness.

mercy is calm and content. she smiles easily but she also startles easily. she is willing to lay on her play pad and entertain herself as long as i am in her eye sight. she has been rolling from tummy to back since she was eleven days old and she started rolling from back to tummy about two weeks ago, but just in the last few days she has discovered that combining those two actually get her somewhere!

she now sleeps unswaddled and tends to roll herself onto her tummy to fall asleep. she has always been a good sleeper but she is sleeping more and more every day. some nights we get eleven hours out of her! she also gone bald and her new hair seems to be blonde like addy. as far as we can tell, it looks like her eyes are going to be brown.

she’s a bit of a peanut. i’m thankful she’s baby #2 or i would probably be a little too worried. i really have to work on making her eat enough. she tends to nurse for a little while and then get distracted and give up. she never wakes up to eat. we finally realized that we have to force her to eat and even “top her off” after each feeding. she actually lost a few ounces between 2.5 months and 4 months but we are back to gaining weight and she is even getting a few thigh rolls back. 🙂 she is ALMOST twelve pounds which still only has her in the 5th percentile but it’s better than her percentiles a few weeks ago! she’s pretty average in length at 25.5″ (70th percentile).

we are blessed to have such a fun and easy baby. she is the joy of the entire household and the pride of her big sister, addy. addy is still completely in love with her sissy and actually such a big help to me! if mercy is getting fussy, i can ask addy to play with her and addy will get a toy and entertain her. joy. 🙂 i love having these two princesses!

here are a few pictures i tried getting right before nap…not only was she tired, but she was checking out the camera (hence the serious look) and rolling every which way. oh the fun of an active baby!

montana (and more), pt. 2

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one more picture-only update…this is the end of montana with our trip home (through washington and oregon) plus a visit to apple hill and a visit to the pumpkin patch. enjoy!

getting ready to hike dog mountain

mercy slept the entire hike

happy girl in montana

montana pumpkin patch with the piedemonte kids

yeah she's scary!

montana "bouncy house" with selah

favorite activity...bouncing of any kind!







being prayed for at potter's field

mars hill church in seattle

so cute behind bars

russian food at pike's market

mmmm, beet and spicy carrot salads

addy and her second cousin, preston

her other second cousin, peyton

visiting my college on the way home from montana

family trip to apple hill

she loves her cousins, spencer and emma

my pretty princess

and her daddy

another pretty girl at apple hill

and a pretty good lookin' auntie doh doh too!

playing around

they look so innocent

another family trip to the pumpkin patch this time

daddy took her on a pony ride

she loved every minute!

yeah this works

hay ride with uncle aaron

mercy’s four month pictures coming soon. and a newsletter too! if you would like to receive our first newsletter, just email me ( with your email address. i can’t believe we are moving to moldova in less than three months!

montana (and a little canada) in pictures, part one

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eureka, montana

some memorial...not sure why at the park

yeah, i was pretty tempted...

it says 1915

kootenai + canada + usa = koocanusa

leaving eureka

on to canada!

need a drink of water?

why does she look so old?!

smiling girl!

fernie, canada was beautiful

ice cream in canada

fall colors + christian's favorite road sign

closer view

canada is exhausting!

our montana grandmas ♥

they got addy a "peekaboo" bear

♥ miss berta and miss jo ♥

selah, addy's bff from montana

so cute but so fiesty together!

mr. randy spinning the girls

hmmm, who thinks randy and karen need a girl?

"ugly dolls" background

half of an awesome family!

cool whitefish park

no fear

she doesn't want any help

she wants to be completely independent, hmmmm

mama's pretty girl ♥

oh spencer man ♥

"addy, what are you doing?"

"she is rapunzel..."

"and i am her mama!"

ask toddlers to smile for the camera...

and you get this instead!

selah gave addy her binky and it had dirt on it!

she was going "night-night"

what can i say? she's a natural!

shaylene sharing with addy ♥

miss michelle letting addy see the big horses

caleb letting addy brush the little horses!

she LOVED every minute of it

at the end she said, "okay cayeb, yet's get another!"

auntie barbara would be proud!

christmas trees…uh, i mean, montana!

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we moved out of southern california thirty-two days ago. we have been in montana for twenty-one days. in six days, we are headed back to northern california. one hundred and thirteen days until we move to moldova.



we studied isaiah 55:6-11 for our inductive bible study this past week. funny, because the Lord gave these verses to me through my sister, sarah, a month or so before we moved.

“seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. for my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. for as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which i purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which i sent it.”

montana in itself is beautiful, just like everyone tells you. there are christmas trees everywhere! but it’s hard to be anywhere when you are homesick. i miss my church and my friends and my family. addy misses her class at church and her friends and her frozen yogurt. it has been a long month and an exhausting one. a good and new friend told me last week (when addy was melting down, oh and yes biting someone for the very first time), “this is a time when we extend much grace to our children and when we give ourselves a little too.” hmmmm.

and now that we’ve been here three weeks, we’ve made even more friends. miss berta and miss jo let addy ring the breakfast bell every morning. addy calls them both “my peek-a-boo.” addy greets everyone like big brothers and big sisters. “hi jacob.” “whatcha doin’ there, oh-livia?” “braeden, you use your inside voice.” “karlee, come here!” “i go sit on jaymi’s lap?” these young adults are so willing to help me with the girls. and this morning as i was writing notes for the first teams that are leaving this week, i realized that i am going to miss these new friends. addy is going to miss her new friends.

i will be honest. sometimes i wonder about that part. will my child have some hidden resentment that we took her all over the world and away from friends and family? yet even as i find myself thinking those doubts, i am reminded of our confirmation verses that the Lord used to lead us to moldova. and i have to thank the Holy Spirit for comforting me with the Word.

“however, i consider my life worth nothing to me, if only i may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me–the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.” acts 20:24

beautiful and so encouraging.

“then he said to them all, ‘if anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.'” luke 9:23

we are in this together – – christian, addy, mercy and me. and together we will as a family make this transition. and yes, there will be times when i doubt the call but i know during those times the Holy Spirit will whisper reassurances to me and i will keep going.

confession – – i love a plankeye song that came out in ’99 or ’00, called “goodbye.” call it what you want, i did listen to music that tended to be, okay fine, a little “emo.” but this song is solid. the last line says,

“but he always fills my cup
and he lifts me up oh how he lifts me up”

amen. my prayer is that no matter how i am feeling, i would lean on Jesus and allow the Holy Spirit to comfort me and lead me. when i am clinging to my Savior, talking to Him every minute of the day, i find myself growing more and more excited about moving to moldova. in fact, i’m almost ready to go!


becoming all things to all people, right?

nightmare trip + bruise (walmart in elko, nevada)

lunch in avon, montana

first day (potter's field ranch, montana)

bathing the balding princess

9-11 tribute concert in the park

daddy and a tired girl

mama and mercy

family picture taken by a stranger

playing in the (cold!) creek (potter's field ranch)


new friends (ben is almost five)

one of her "bffs" here, karlee!

a visit from our pastor when we needed it most!

olivia being baptized

shaylene being baptized

dylan being baptized

yep, city girl gone country!

pretty girl concentrating

still to come…canada, eh?!

happy three month birthday, mercy adoniyah

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happy three months to my beautiful youngest daughter! you are a blessing and a joy. you are laid back, easy going and sweet. thank you for sleeping no matter where you are or what we are doing. thank you for adjusting to moving around so well. we love you very much and are blessed to be your parents!

mercy’s monthly pictures:

hours old

one month old

two months old

three months old

here is my first attempt at a photo shoot without sarah but with sarah’s tips and advice. i am happy to say it at least turned out okay! mercy was pretty funny during her pictures, mostly wanting to “talk” to me or chew intensely on her arms, hands, anything!

enjoy 🙂


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This is our updated Foster/Adopt page and our foster story. I thought some of you might enjoying reading it.


Most people probably don’t realize how many children are in need of a forever family. The numbers are staggering, in the U.S. and in the world. The U.N. approximates that there are at least 145 million orphans in the world (and this number doesn’t include abandoned or displaced children). In the U.S. alone there are approximately 500,000+ children in the foster care system with around 78,000+ of those kids in California alone.

We truly believe that if every Christian got involved with orphans and adoption in some way, there would no longer be orphans/abandoned children in this world! Our prayer is that through our story and others’ stories, we might encourage other families out there to also look into foster and/or adoption!

Hope Takes Root


Holt International Adoptions

Show Hope

Hope For Orphans

Our Story:

Christian and I had one child but knew we weren’t even close to being done. Addy was nine months old when we started our foster parent licensing and one year when we received our first placement. Aaliyah was seven, Bea was four and Aalysha was two when they first came to live with us. It was hard to go from one to four kids, but it was amazing. I can’t say we loved every minute of it, but it was worth every minute of it. We thought we would adopt them, but the Lord had different plans. Letting them go was possibly the hardest thing I have ever experienced.

Four months after our girls left, two year old Luca came to live with us. Five days after he came, I found out I was pregnant. I won’t sugar coat those months. In fact, those were some of the most challenging months I’ve lived. I had horrible morning sickness and our little man had been a drug baby. He didn’t know how to sleep in a bed, he didn’t know any words and he just wanted to sit in front of a television. He cried more than half of every day. Every day was a battle over every little thing. There were times when we wondered if all our hard work and struggling was even helping him.

As I neared the end of my pregnancy, I found myself thinking more and more about our girls. Christian and I would reminisce together and wonder where they were. It was an ordinary afternoon, walking through Joann’s (fabric store) when I heard Christian say, “Luca?!” There was our little man, with his new foster mom and as he looked at us, he smiled a brilliant smile. As we talked to his foster mom, we were amazed as she began telling us about all his progress. She talked about him sleeping through the night in his own bed, eating healthy food, playing with toys and better yet, talking. I couldn’t believe how much he had improved. I knew the Lord had brought him back into our lives to show us that every tear, every sleepless night, every frustration had been worth it. Yet it made me wonder about the girls even more.

Mercy was born two weeks late, in June. As we were sitting in the living room, enjoying our new baby, Christian muttered under his breath, “wait, what is this?!” He had received an email through his facebook from Aaliyah. We were all in tears about the idea if reconnecting with our girls. Sure enough, we were able to begin corresponding with their mom, Marilyn, and she asked us if we would be willing to visit with the girls. Willing? Ecstatic was more like it.

So far, we have spent one long and amazing afternoon/evening with our girls. They are all bigger, talk more and are doing so well. As I chatted with Marilyn, I knew without a doubt that we had done what the Lord had called us to do. We had been the girls temporary parents while Marilyn figured out that her lifestyle meant she was not loving her children the way she was supposed to be. Aaliyah talked fondly about church and coming to know Jesus. Bea was living in reality and smiling and laughing. Aalysha was chatty and funny. I realized then that even though Christian and I felt like we had experienced a lot of pain through it all, we had actually helped them experience less pain. We had provided stability when everything around them was chaotic and we had shown them unconditional love when they felt the most unloved.

I’ve always wondered why the Lord called us to foster while we lived in Southern California if it wasn’t to adopt. I think I can finally say I know the answer.

It was to love an unloved child.

Are you willing to love an unloved child?

{sierra sue}

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the story goes that when our great-aunt betty came to help after sarah was born, she would sing to sarah, “sierra sue. how do you do? your heart is lighter than mi-iiii-ne.” i don’t know why she sang it to sarah since i am actually the one named su{sanna} but for some reason it just seemed fitting. for years, when aunt betty would come to visit, she would sing it to sarah.

i prayed for sarah to be born. i actually remember telling my mom, “i want a sister. i have two brothers but i want a sister!” her response? “ask God for one.” i think they were already pregnant but not telling us because i’m positive a few weeks later my parents told us we were going to have a new baby and i was shocked at how quickly God heard my prayer. i knew she was going to be a girl because i had prayed for one. when they called us from the hospital to tell us that she was a girl, i was so excited.

she was pretty awesome for a while. she was basically my living doll and i took care of her. i got her dressed, i carried her everywhere, i burped her. i was seven and i loved every minute of it. then she became a little less awesome. she started breaking things. and she did it so well. she wasn’t supposed to play in my doll house (the old fashioned kind with real, miniature furniture). but she did anyway and broke pieces every time. then she started to write. on my things. the word, “sarah.” she really wanted my samantha books, so she of course took possession of them by writing “sk” on every one.

but those days were still pretty good. those were the days when i was the “big sister god.” she had a bed and i had a bed, but she slept in my bed. it was a big bed, a double yet somehow she always managed to roll right up against me. she remembers making little noises and kicking a little until i’d say, “sarah are you okay?” and she would answer, “i have to go potty, will you go with me?” she hated coyotes and their howling. if the coyotes would start, i would jump up and try to cover her ears until they stopped so that she wouldn’t wake up hysterical.

i moved out of our bedroom and downstairs when i was fifteen or sixteen, i think. a year or two later, dora moved in with sarah. i graduated and went away to college. she came and visited once and i was of course the proud older sister showing her younger sister off. but we didn’t really know each other then. yet. then i went through a few stupid years. you know, the years you go through where you are really smart and know everything there is to know and everyone else (especially parents) are just really dumb? yeah, i think all adolescents go through it to some extent. after college, i moved down south.

then she went through the stupid years too. and we really weren’t friends then. i mean, don’t get me wrong. we were sisters. but we weren’t buddies or friends or the best way i can put it, kindred spirits (thank you anne of green gables). we were just doing different things . our own things. but enough light hearted banter about sarah. (although it’s all true. at least 99% true. okay fine, 98%.)

sarah graduated with a degree in photography and moved down south and we started hanging out more. she was starting to come out of those stupid years and i was starting to figure out how you treat an adult sister. we kept hanging out. addy was born and sarah was her own personal photographer. addy’s first word was “mama.” addy’s second word sounded something like “doh” which we coined sarah’s nickname, in case you were wondering how she became “auntie doh doh.” we actually started enjoying the hanging out. we did things. coffee. then christian and i became the foster parents of three amazing girls and my life became a blur. sarah was there after work every single day. i actually think she stopped having a social life during that time.

the summer after the girls left, we spent a lot of time together. grief has a way of bringing people together and making friends even closer. but it was more than that. our sister relationship was becoming a friendship relationship. we discovered we actually had a lot in common. with the girls gone, we no longer needed a third bedroom and sarah was willing to help pay rent. it started as a financial blessing but it ended up just as much of an emotional blessing for both of us. sarah, christian and i are all “norcal” transplants and there is something to be said about “safety in numbers.” (okay, okay, slight jab at socal but it is a completely different world down here!)

last semptember, our family welcomed a little guy to foster. he came on wednesday. on monday, i didn’t feel so great and took a pregnancy test. {pregnancy test = mercy, nine months later.} little man was not so easy. we were pulling all-nighters and our hair. two weeks later, we sat sarah down and gave her a note that said, “we need you to pull more weight.” she was so serious, not sure if she should be hurt or what. then we told her i was pregnant. i don’t think i pulled another all-nighter with little man after that. somehow christian and sarah took turns with little man in the middle of the night and got up and went to work everyday. they cooked and cleaned and i puked.

when little man left right before the holidays, it was official. my little sister, the original punk, the master of tricking mom into thinking she was innocent, the middle child and i, we were friends. no wait, we were bosom buddies. we were kindred spirits.

it’s still hard for me to grasp that the Lord is calling christian and i to moldova and calling sarah to stay here in thousand oaks. who will make inside jokes with me? who will make socal jokes with her? how can we be kindred spirits when we live almost six thousand miles away. yet i know that no matter where we live, our friendship can stay just as strong if we keep working on it. sarah sent me a song the other day and it reminded us that the Lord has every chapter of our lives in His hands. the beginning says,
where you go, i’ll go
where you stay, i’ll stay
when you move, i’ll move
i will follow…
all your ways are good
all your ways are sure
i will trust in you alone

we are believing that promise, right now: all His ways are good and all His ways are sure. we are also hoping that the next chapter of our lives has us living in the same country. or at least continent.

until then, we have plans. we started a blog called a sea apart. the plan is for each of us to take a photo every day and post it, 365 + 365 = 730 pictures. we are pretty much going to be famous after next year. you know, we will publish it in a book and sell it and never have to work a paid job again. but just in case that doesn’t happen, you should probably just follow the blog instead.

i love you, sarah. i am going to miss living with you more than you realize. you are an amazing sister and an amazing aunt. i am very thankful for skype, internet and our cameras!

mercy adoniyah, two months old

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her latest obsessions are smiling, “talking” and sticking her tongue out. when she isn’t too busy doing those three things she is also realizing that can grab things and sometimes they end up in her mouth. she still rolls off tummy time if she isn’t in the mood. 🙂 she also thinks big sister, addy grace is the coolest person in the world and i think they can communicate! this is the last time she will wear her newborn onesie, next month i will just lay it next to her. notice it doesn’t snap and she is in a slightly too big diaper. i bought a big box for while we are in montana and i didn’t want her outgrowing them. enjoy!

a story

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To understand this birth story, Addy’s birth story needs to be explained first. I should add my own “disclaimer” that I am in NO way doubting the Lord’s perfect will in the way he allowed Addy to be born. I know that the Lord used it to teach me (and Christian) a lot. However, when it was all done and said, I knew without a doubt that my body had not been given the chance to do what it was designed to do – – give birth naturally.

When we found out that we were pregnant with Addy, we did all the research and decided that we would deliver at St. John’s in Camarillo because they allowed midwives to practice there. I started my prenatal care at The Women’s Place and mainly saw one of the midwives. During my prenatal care with Addy, I met Dr. Fischbein but I didn’t have a lot of interaction with him since I was seeing the midwives.

I had everything planned out and knew I wanted a natural delivery without pain medication. Then Addy didn’t come – – for twelve long days. When I finally went into labor, it was the day before Thanksgiving. I had a “typical” first time labor, starting around 2am on Wednesday morning and continuing all day, through the night and on into Thursday. When I finally went into active labor, it was on one of two days of the year that the midwives or Dr. Fischbein were not on call.

I can say quite simply, we did not care for the doctor that was on-call that evening. She didn’t really care for our natural delivery plans and she definitely didn’t want to be at the hospital the night of Thanksgiving. The nurses were amazing but they were doing all they could to help me progress the way the doctor wanted me to – – the “blueprint” of deliveries. When I got stuck at 9.5 cm and Addy’s head was caught on the lip of my cervix, they had me push while trying to move the cervix – – for a few hours. I was completely wiped out by the time I was successfully dilated to 10cm and I was on pain overload.

That was pretty much it – – the doctor came in and let me push through one contraction and decided she was done with the entire thing. It was the craziest, most blurry moment of my life. She used words like “emergency” when she called a c-section yet she never said Addy was in distress (a common reason for a c-section). Somehow, my “emergency” c-section took 45 minutes to get together, while they were telling me not to push (for those of you that have pushed, you know how crazy that is). It was our first delivery and we were uneducated. At that point, we didn’t know what else to do but believe the doctor.

I am thankful that Addy was born safely and was a healthy baby, yet I also look back at my c-section and wonder why a c-section must be done the way it is done. After Addy was taken out, I remember lying there and wondering what was happening. I asked the anesthesiologist is she was actually a girl and how she looked. My first look at my baby girl was a five second glance as they held a swaddled baby next to my face before “whisking” her away. I had to be sewn up and then taken to the recovery room while Addy had to have a lot of “stuff” done to her. Forty-five minutes later, my baby girl was finally brought to me and laid on my chest.

I am blessed that Addy and I were able to bond and make up for that lost time. Addy was simply natural at nursing and wanted nothing more than to snuggle on my chest. I was also blessed that physically, I had a fairly quick and easy recovery. Emotionally, however, I felt like I had been in a horrible car accident. The following three weeks were a blur as we attempted to get back to a somewhat normal life. I struggled for months trying to come to grips with my c-section. Just when I thought I had dealt with it, I had two friends give birth successfully in February (three months later!) and I found myself in tears once again. I struggled feeling depressed that something was “wrong” with my body. It was a healing time in my walk with the Lord however, and finally about six months later I was able to surrender the entire thing to Him.

When we found out we were pregnant again, we automatically made out first prenatal appointment at The Women’s Place. (*Insert shameless plug – – if you live in Ventura County, you have to meet Dr. Fischbein because he is the BEST there is!) When we went in, we met with a new OB/GYN and found out that Dr. Fischbein wasn’t doing any hospital deliveries and that St. John’s Pleasant Valley didn’t allow VBACs. At the time we thought it was our only option and went along with it. Then in January, I was accidently scheduled on a day that only Dr. Fischbein was in the office, so I ended up seeing him instead of a midwife. Somehow as we sat there and talked, we ended up telling him how frustrated we were about being forced to have a repeat c-section.

Doctor Fischbein didn’t miss a beat – – explaining to us that it wasn’t truly our only option. We could have a c-section if we wanted but we could also not consent to a c-section once we got to the hospital. They can’t force you to have surgery but for myself personally, I knew that I needed a supportive environment if I was going to have a successful delivery. Another option was to find a hospital and a doctor that allowed VBACs but that would mean us traveling 45 minutes or more (think Southern California traffic if I went into labor during rush hour). Then Dr. Fischbein explained that he was doing home deliveries in an effort to reestablish a woman’s choice to give birth naturally and the way she decides to. He explained the thoroughness of it and what it would look like and as I sat there listening, I knew this was going to be the way baby #2 would be born.

At this point, I will skip January through May – – it was “typical” pre-natal care although I will argue that it was the best. It was mostly doctor’s office yet ten times more personal. We would have a full hour visit each time, Dr. Fischbein was the only one doing an ultrasound (not a tech) and he encouraged us to bring Addy and include her in the process. Towards the end, we met the midwife that would attend our birth with Dr. Fischbein and they made a home visit and helped us set everything up and plan out the birth. We felt relaxed yet completely prepared. Then we waited. And waited. And waited. ☺

Of course, I went late, just like with Addy. I guess 40 weeks is just not my magical number. I did everything known to be natural and healthy in order to induce labor but it was pretty much useless. It was such a challenging yet amazing time in my walk with the Lord. I look back now and realize just how much I (and probably many other women) had this idea that I was in control of when the baby would come. I knew that there was absolutely no reason the baby needed to be medically induced yet. At 39 weeks, the estimated weight was only around 6 pounds and I was still only measuring around 35-36 weeks. I knew my birth would be more successful if I let the baby come when ready but I will confess that I spent at least the last week shedding a tear or two every night! I wanted to know if there was a boy or girl in there and all I wanted to do was go shopping!

Finally I was approaching 42 weeks and Dr. Fischbein has a family reunion on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The Tuesday before he was supposed to leave, we went in for our 41.5 week visit and I asked him if he would be willing to strip my membranes. I guess I have stubborn membranes because it didn’t really hurt and nothing happened. We decided to come back in on Wednesday and try one last time and that time it finally hurt a little but it only lasted for about an hour. We spent the day trying to relax and stay distracted. For two weeks I had been going to sleep diligently by 9 or 10pm but that night I had no desire to go to bed. We finally got to bed around 11pm and while Christian drifted off to sleep, I lay there thinking about meeting my new baby.

Then I had an uncomfortable contraction. I won’t say it hurt, but it was in the right place and it wasn’t painless. I was pretty sure it was false, but I sat on my birth ball anyway, laid my head on the bed and fell asleep. I woke up to another contraction. I glanced at Christian’s cell phone and it was 12:01a. I dozed back to sleep, only to be awaken by another contraction at 12:06, then 12:11 and 12:16. I remember thinking, “could this actually be real?” I dozed between contractions that came every five minutes until 1am and then my stomach started really growling. I moved to the living room, ate two bowls of cold cereal and set myself up with my birth ball, heating pad, laptop and worship music. I managed to surf the internet but stay off facebook to keep from looking suspicious! Around 2:30a I decided I needed another distraction so I woke my Mom up, knowing she is quite coherent in the middle of the night and thinking Christian could probably use the extra sleep.

My goal was to make it one hour at a time without waking Christian up. It ended up being pretty easy to do for a couple hours. My mom and I chatted about anything and everything, pausing for contractions that never stopped coming every 5-6 minutes apart. Most of them were bearable with my heating pad on my birth ball, worship music and my mom distracting me. We ended up waiting until about 6am to wake Christian up – – which was a blessing because he was very rested. Once Christian woke up, he and my mom got to work getting the room/living room/kitchen ready. I think we called Dr. Fischbein around 6am and told him that I had been having contractions since midnight. He was asking Christian how bad Christian thought the pain was which made me smile a little as Christian attempted to describe my “condition.” He said he would call and check on us in about an hour or two after everyone was up and around. I was a little worried my contractions would just stop once everyone was awake and I will confess I was earnestly praying that this was still the “real thing.” I still kept thinking it might be fake because baby was moving around so much and kicking so much and I was sure baby needed to stop moving in order to be born!

To my excitement, even after Sarah and Addy were up and my Dad came in from the motor home, my contractions were still coming at least every 6-7 minutes apart. They were definitely getting more uncomfortable and I would need to stop and focus on each one. It was such an amazing experience already at that point – – I was walking throughout the entire house, watching everyone get ready and whenever I would have a contraction, whoever I was around would stop and hold my hand, rub my back, stroke my hair, etc. Addy would come over and squat next to me and rub my back and say, “it’s okay mama.” I don’t remember hearing Christian talk to Dr. Fischbein again but I believe he and Karni (our midwife) came around 8:00 am. The only thing he did right away was check the baby’s heart rate, which of course stopped my contractions for a few minutes. They encouraged me to take a walk to help the contractions come closer together so at that point, my dad and Addy headed off to Burbank to make business calls and Christian, Sarah and I (with Sarah’s camera in tow) took a long, slow walk around our neighborhood. I am sure whatever neighbors witnessed us walking thought we were out of our minds.

The good part is that I am pretty quiet during the early stages of my labor so at least I wasn’t hollering my way around the neighborhood. I remember telling myself, “don’t worry Marie, you won’t even live here in a few months!” The walk didn’t speed up my contractions but it definitely intensified them and lengthened them. I had a few contractions that at the 30 second mark, Christian would say, “okay it’s halfway over” and I would exclaim, “no it’s not, it’s still getting worse” and the contraction would end up being a two minute contraction. I had one that I thought would never stop and it ended up lasting three minutes! I was pretty exhausted during those contractions and ready to head home after about an hour. When we got home, Dr. Fischbein and Karni were completely set up and had decided to go get some breakfast and let me focus and be alone.

My strep B test had been positive at 36 weeks, so in my own living room, Dr. Fischbein administered a dose of antibiotics through IV around 10am. That also helped my contractions phase out for about ten or fifteen minutes. I remember we were talking and laughing and then Christian hung the IV bag from the curtain rod on a hanger which made me laugh. It was night and day different from the IV I had gotten with Addy. Dr. Fischbein put a heparin lock in so that they could give me a dose of antibiotics every four hours as long as I was in labor. I think I was feeling kind of antsy at that point because I wanted to be progressing faster – – as far as I was considered I wanted to be pushing. I spent probably another hour or more just walking throughout the house and having contractions. I pretty much had a contraction in every room except the garage and Sarah’s bathroom. I even used Addy’s toddler bed and crib to support me at different times. I think everyone was eating lunch and they were encouraging me to snack, but I pretty much only wanted almonds and juice.

After lunchtime, Dr. Fischbein and Karni encouraged me to take another walk and afterward we would break my water (my water never broke on its own with Addy either and they finally ruptured it when I was 9 cm). This time our walk only lasted about 45 minutes and it was a LOT of work. I had intense and long contractions although they still came every 4-5 minutes a part. I was completely wiped out and told Christian I was ready to go home! When we got there, I got my second does of antibiotics and then Dr. Fischbein checked me for the first and only time. For those of you that think it would be better to be checked more often, I can honestly say that it was probably the best thing. I was not focusing on a measurable “progress” but instead simply focusing on each contraction, one at a time. When he did check me, I was dilated to a 6 or 7 and 100% effaced. Even that, I found slightly discouraging. I wanted to be dilated to 10 cm!

Dr. Fischbein ruptured my membranes (aka “broke my water”) around 2:30 or so. I was feeling pretty tired but I knew that my contractions would become more intense with the head bearing directly down. I asked if they thought I could get in the shower and that helped a little but it also slowed my contractions down. That was the last thing I wanted to happen, so I got out. I decided to lie down instead because I was really feeling sleepy. I immediately dozed off and slept for 15 minutes before I was awaken by a pretty painful contraction. I started to doze off again and found myself again jarred awake by a painful contraction. I was determined to get some sleep and tried to find a comfortable position. I was just starting to doze off when a third contraction hurt so badly I had to sit up to get through it. I started walking around the room until Christian came back in and then he helped me through a few contractions by massaging essential oils (for pain) on my lower back. I was getting to that place where everything hurt and it was hard to cope through contractions.

I decided to try sitting on the toilet. Don’t worry; it’s not as strange as it sounds. Many women have sat on the toilet during contractions and even pushing. It’s actually a pretty comfortable way to sit when you are in labor. I was trying to focus through my contractions and all of a sudden I wanted Christian and my mom right there with me. I was starting to shake all over and cry. I remember thinking I couldn’t keep going but now looking back I realize I was in transition. I looked at my mom and said, “I really want to get in the tub, like NOW.” I think they were having a problem filling the tub because our water heater is pretty small and had only filled the tub a few inches. Unknown to me, they started boiling water in everything and anything and dumping it in along with cold water and got the birth tub ready really fast.

It did feel better although I think in my dreams it had made the pain go away completely. It mostly just dulled the pain and helped me regain my focus and concentration. I started off by leaning over the edge of the tub and hanging onto Christian. I don’t actually remember this, but I am told this was the position we were in when I almost gave my husband two spiral fractures. All I remember was that for the first time the baby was completely silent and I had pain and pressure from different areas. I think there were a few times when I wanted to yell but I didn’t want to scare Addy and my dad (who were hanging out in the garage). I was still crying when I got into the tub and tried to take just one contraction at a time. I’d guess maybe 45 minutes into it, I started wanting to push and I started feeling differently. All of a sudden all I could think about was meeting our baby.

I ended up being in a kind of sitting position while Dr. Fischbein was trying to help me during contractions. Sarah, who had been quoting “Baby Mama” to me for months, while joking that she would be my “biwthing pahtner,” actually ended up being one. She held me under my arms for probably an hour. My mom was on my right side, helping me support my foot and leg and Christian was on my left side doing the same thing. Dr. Fischbein explained pushing but that was about it. He didn’t tell me when to push or when not to push. Pushing was still really painful – – in fact for me it was a little more painful when I first started pushing. Getting into the groove of pushing was pretty easy but I was so ready to be done that after a few pushes, I didn’t think I could keep going. It felt like contractions were coming one right after another and nothing was happening. I remember thinking a few crazy, irrational thoughts and then I heard someone exclaim, “there’s the head!” I know that normally would be an exciting part, but for me it was really scary for a brief moment, because everyone had seen Addy’s head also before my c-section. In that moment though, I remember realizing that everyone was standing around me, cheering and praying and no one was panicking or upset.

I heard Dr. Fischbein say, “no, probably twenty more minutes.” I guess he was answering my sister-in-law who had asked if she should start the video camera. I just remember exclaiming, “I can’t push for twenty more minutes!” Dr. Fischbein calmly replied, “what’s twenty more minutes? Six, seven more contractions? Look how many contractions you’ve made it through today” and he placed my hand on a tiny little head peeking out and said, “do you feel that? That’s your baby.” I think that is when the mad woman took over and the pain blurred away in the intensity of the moment. I had to work for about thirty more minutes but each push brought me closer to meeting my new baby. At the very end I remember thinking, “I HAVE to get this baby out” and pushing with all my might, a dark head of hair came out all the way. I’m pretty sure I yelled but I’m told I was actually pretty quiet. Dr. Fischbein checked for the cord and helped the top shoulder out which allowed the baby to rotate face up. He then pulled her slightly out and let me reach down and take over. I was the one that was able to pull her all the way out and she was already just staring at me and I brought her up to my chest. I glanced down and said, “I thought you were a girl!”

She just stared at me with the biggest open eyes and I held her close, repeating, “my baby really is here.” The next thing I actually remember saying was, “someone get Addy” but I think she was already in the room. Christian was bending over the tub with his hand on her head and I think that was when I said, “her name is Mercy Adoniyah.” Addy was completely mesmerized and it was quite possibly the most perfect moment. I think almost everyone in the room was grinning and crying at the same time. No one did a thing that I can remember. Because they didn’t cut the cord immediately, Mercy didn’t scream or get upset. She just started taking small breaths through her nose while her cord finished pulsating. She stared at me the entire time I was in the tub. After they clamped her cord and Christian cut it (the real cord, not the trimming version in the hospital) she gave a few hearty cries for good measure and then calmed down again and went back to staring at me.

When it was time to move into the bedroom, Christian took his shirt off, they handed him Mercy and put a towel over her. Once I was in the bed lying down, Christian laid her back on my chest. Of course there were a few more details like delivering a placenta and all but it just doesn’t seem all that important once the baby is finally here. I will mention that thanks to the awesome support of Dr. Fischbein, I didn’t need any stitches or anything. We were just allowed to be alone as a family for probably more than an hour while Dr. Fischbein and Karni cleaned up, everyone made/ate dinner and just had a normal evening. Around 8pm, Dr. Fischbein came in and did a newborn exam, which Mercy handled like a champ and then Karni helped me take a shower. Once we were back in bed, I tried nursing Mercy again but she wasn’t really interested. She just wanted to look around and soak everything in. I ate some dinner, made a few phone calls and then I was ready for bed. Mercy was ready to sleep and slept soundly in her cradle the entire night.

I’m sure there’s more and I’m leaving out some detail. I think this sums up enough though and it definitely took me long enough to write. I really have been working on this for the past two months. I can’t believe that today is August 16th and my baby is two months old. Happy birthday, princess. Mama loves you very much!

mercy’s newborn pictures

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i realized that i never posted all the amazing pictures sarah took when mercy was one week old. this photo shoot was actually really hard because mercy kept waking up and being all alert instead of being a normal sleepy newborn! it took us a couple days to get all these.