the gang

Two nights ago I ended the day in a crumpled mess of a woman eating Fun Dip and Reese's curled up in the fetal position on the couch.

The details of how I got there are a little hazy.  But I remember lots of crying, unbelievable amounts of spit up and poop...just a whole lot of poop.  It was one of those days where I ambitiously had two things on my to do list and only one of them got done. Nothing about the day involved a shower or a change out of pajamas and I kept the same pony tail in all day that I had slept in the night before.  There's nothing like the walk of shame in your own house all day long.  I don't recall if I even had a toilet break.  My darling children conspired against me and the day gave me an eye-twitch that may not ever go away. When my husband walked in the door from work I'm sure he looked at me in a squinting fashion and said, "Darling is that you?"

Like I said, I don't remember much but I do remember tears and poop, and also not a lot of napping.  There was a moment at the end of the day where a meltdown from my almost two year old was happening because for the life of her she didn't understand why she couldn't have marshmallows for dinner.  Avett was crying for a good 30 minutes because...well he's a baby and babies cry.  My ears were ringing and I was trying to feed Evaleigh who had gone on an eating strike until marshmallows became available with one hand while vigourously bouncing Avett with the other. Everything came to a head and I just let out a high pitched operatic note. I needed a release. Sporadic opera notes are a normal in our house and I thought it was a good idea because hey, it wasn't yelling, but no...in the insanity of the moment it only made Evie cry harder.  
It was that moment that I realized that the hardest part of this job is showing patience and letting the children think you have it under control.  

Motherhood is a tricky thing.  It is easily the hardest and most wonderful job in the world.  Most of the time it is a big old guessing game.  I would say that for me in moments like that it is a battle of patience and keeping my cool.  
These little people that take all of our time and energy have so much to teach us if we let them.  They have the capability of helping us to become our best selves.  
I've realized that the best thing we can do when the crazy is breaking out is to respond to them with the opposite emotion.  When they are selfish we need to respond with selflessness, when they are impatient we need to give them patience, when they are irrational we need to be the one to show understanding and compassion.  This is a stretch for most of us and it's a hard thing to do when our initial reactions aren't so naturally good.  Children test our deepest patience.  But I've learned that when I react in the kindest way and exercise my restraint and tolerance I feel so good about myself as a mother.  I love my two little people more than anything because they do push me to want to be a better person in the most profound way possible.  
So, here's to reigning in the crazy,  maybe one night saying, "I understand that marshmallows are a magically delicious thing, of course you can have them for dinner!", sucking up the eye twitch, and giving our babies our best.  Here's to understanding we will rise from the ashes of the day.  The sun will set and rise again and the next day we will have the chance to do it all over again. 
Hopefully better than the day before.

(A thanks to my husband who brought home the fun dip and Reese's, ordered me to have a long hot shower, and gave me a foot rub at the end of the night.  You da best.)


twenty two

Evaleigh Joy,

You are such a miracle to watch.  I am honored to be your mother.  I love watching you fold your arms to pray every night before bed.  You put a happiness in my heart that only you can do.  I love watching you learn and I love teaching you.  This week we took a walk in the orchard and we found a birds nest in one of the peach trees, I told you that nests are where baby birds and their mamas live.  Later on our walk we came across the fig tree and we picked every last single one.  Then we came across 5 huge holly trees and I helped you pick a couple of sprigs with bright red berries on them.  You loved walking around with them in your hand while repeating your newly learned word over and over again, "Berries!".  After we went back to the side of the house we were sitting under the tree and admiring our findings from the walk.  I told you that birds eat berries.  You got an excited look in your eye and hopped down from the chair and started running towards the orchard, you turned back for a moment and said, "Bye!"  and then continued on your way.  I didn't think much of it at the moment but then you went straight to that peach tree and started putting the red holly berries in the nest.  My heart melted at your compassion and thought for the birds even though they are gone for winter.  You amaze me with your knowledge and understanding.

What a glorious little spirit you are.
I've missed doing your monthly videos and updates since one turned one.  Since then 10 wonderful months have gone by.  You've changed so much in that time.  
You make me laugh hard every single day.
Today we spent 20 minutes playing with my squishy post partum belly and I think it was the funniest thing you'd seen all day.  You kept pointing at my stretch marks and calling them boo-boos.

You are becoming your own person minute by minute and I love seeing it.  I am impressed by your compassion, humor, and brilliance.  You are talking so much every single day and have started repeating just about everything. 
We are working on improving some words however.  You try ever so desparately to say "socks"  but somehow that s is replaced with a c....uh oh.  Its a word that we use everyday and we are trying pretty hard to correct it!
You call your little brother "Bay-dit".  I don't even want to try and correct that one because its so cute. 
Aunt Rebekah had her baby girl 3 weeks after Avett was born and her name is Kate but you call her Cake.  Well...we could just about eat her up like a cake, she is beautiful.
You love to sing.  You can match pitch and every time you even see music notes you sing in a high pitched opera voice.  You love to go to the piano and play it and sing along and make up songs.  
You are such a daddy's girl.  I love seeing you love your daddy.  I feel like I've missed you a lot since Avett was born but I am enjoying seeing a little girl blossom out from your new role as a big sister.  I still see you as my little baby though.  I can imagine your big chubby cheeks and your pretty eyes just closed for a nap and you laying in my arms.  I loved the days we spent together just the two of us and I will never forget them.  Thank you for being my first born.  Thank you for loving me through my mistakes, you deserve a great mother and I try to be that for you every day.  I love you more than you'll ever know.

your mama


becoming four

We have no sense of routine or schedule yet.  So far I'm just enjoying Avett's cuddly baby ness and loving seeing Evie be a big sister.  Somedays are total disasters with major meltdowns and blowouts (literally and figuratively).  I congratulate myself if I manage to change out of my triple dried and crusted spit up shirt before John walks through the door from work.  And other days surprise me and I feel like I might know what I'm doing.  Yesterday I did 3 loads of laundry and put them away, did a load of dishes, and cooked dinner after a nature walk around outside with the two dressed kids!  

The transition to two feels natural but difficult.  There are a lot of moments where both babies are crying and need something and all I can do is sit on the floor and nurse one while I try to hold the other on my lap and I just look around and laugh. My mother always says, "Might as well laugh as to cry." It would be easy to feel overwhelmed and stressed out but I remember something that my mom told me a couple of weeks a go when I was worried about how I would get things done.  She told me that my only job right now is to hold and love my babies.  That's what I try to remember when I'm going throughout the day.

I just love being the mother to a little boy. I feel different about Avett than I do Evaleigh.  Obviously I love them the same amount but when I look at Avett I feel protective of him in a totally different way.    I'm not sure I know how to explain it yet but he's my son and I love having a little mini John Murphy.  

I feel like Evaleigh grew up over night when I was in the hospital in labor .  When she came to meet Avett she was walking around saying, "um, um, um."  The next day she learned the word princess and there have been new words every day since.  It was like all of the sudden she wasn't a baby anymore.  She is so helpful with getting diapers and trying to console her brother if he is crying.  

It's like we were always meant to be four.

one down

I just really can't believe a month passed by as quickly as it did.  Avett is such a happy addition to our family.  He is quite the record setter for weight and size.  He never even had the chance to wear newborn diapers, he went straight in to size ones at the hospital.  When he was two weeks old those were already too tight on him and John had to go buy size twos.  He skipped all of the newborn clothes we had and he is in 3 month clothes.  Those are already snugging up on him as of this week!  The fact that he spits up major after every feeding and I go through about 4 shirts everyday doesn't seem to affect his weight at all.  At his one month appointment he was 13 pounds and 9 ounces, his daddy is so proud. The pediatrician says that his growth curve isn't a curve at all, it's a straight up line.  If I move him at all when I nurse him he will growl at me, I've learned not to mess with his food.  He takes meal time very seriously.

He is starting to make little noises and is quite smiley. He seems more vocal than Evie was at this age.  He has the saddest chin quiver when he cries and when he stretches he shakes his fist at you like a little Italian guy.  He tolerates Evaleigh's hugs and kisses and violent seat swinging.  He loves the Bjorn and baths. He has a bad case of the second child syndrome.  Everyday you will find him in a pink swing, pink bibs, and his sisters hot pink cloth diaper cover.  We are building his character.


avett's birth story- part two

(part one here)

Dr. Dott came in and sat down on the end on the bed and broke my water.  Maybe this is weird but I loved the way it felt.  The water was the most wonderful warm temperature and it felt comforting.  There was a sense of release of pressure and with every contraction more water flowed out.  Dr. Dott said he would monitor my contractions for the next 15-20 minutes to see if things would start moving along.  The contractions started coming immediately.  Cindy asked me if I had received the Northside gift yet.  At that point I thought it was some sort of baby goody bag...diapers, samples of formula and what not.  Nope.  It was an enema.  I did not want that gift, but lucky for me what ensued in the following 5 minutes made Cindy think Avett was about to walk out of me so...no gift.

Cindy suggested that I go empty my bladder so I did.  But first she hooked me up to the telemetry monitors so I could move around and labor however I needed.  As soon as I sat down on the toilet the contractions started coming very strong. So much so that I had to ooh and ahh pretty loudly to get through them.  For a moment the sensations of the contractions were so intense I thought, "Oh my gosh, my baby might be born on a toilet."  I couldn't let that be Avetts story so  I knew I wanted to get back to the bed as soon as possible.  As soon as I could muster the strength I walked back to the bed and got in to the position that I would stay in for most of the rest of my labor.  Sitting up in the bed with pillows behind my back and my legs in the butterfly position felt the best, this position was my sanctuary.  I came prepapred to labor on the ball, walking, on all fours, pretty much whatever it took but nothing felt as good as sitting right there in that bed and concentrating through each contraction.  At one point I even tried to do the 'labor dance' with my arms around John's neck.  I just about ripped his shirt.  I was most calm when I could sit and close my eyes and think about relaxing breaths.

I prepared for the birth by using essential oils and listening to hypno birthing tracks.  I had a friend send me Doterra's Whisper oil and it helped me through the first few hours of labor.  For the last two months of my pregnancy I would dab the oil behind my ears and right under my nose and I would listen to the tracks during Evaleighs nap time.  It was so helpful to relate that smell with the deep relaxation I was able to feel during that time.  So, during my labor I started with the oil under my nose and on my chest and it helped me breathe deeply down in to the contractions.  It helped me to get in to a zone and I was able to concentrate on the smell as I inhaled and that was what my mind focused on more than the pain from the contractions.  In the beginning of labor I would close my eyes and just be silent during the contractions, Cindy could read just what I needed and always respected the silence that I needed during those times.  Towards the end there were a couple of contractions that I could hear her praying me through them. She would always remind me to keep relaxing and to breathe slowly. 

Most of the time when a contraction would come I would either want to hold John and Cindy's hands and squeeze them.  A few hours in to labor I started tickling johns hand or massaging it through the contractions.  Those contractions weren't nearly as painful as when I would tense and squeeze the life out of johns hand.  As long as I focused on staying relaxed things were bearable.

Time was such a funny thing during labor.  Every once in a while I would open my eyes and glance at the clock but the minutes and hours felt the same.  John would come to my side, Cindy would feed me some ice chips, Dr. Dott would come in and check on me.  John was right by my side at the first sound of any little noise I made.  He was so patient with my requests.  For a few contractions he would look at the monitor and tell me as the contraction climbed and then descended.  At one point I said (probably very rudely) ,"Don't tell me when they are starting, I only want to know when they start coming down!"  There were times I would want to hold his hand and then as soon as we touched I couldn't stand it and I would tell him not to touch me.  Another time as I was in transition I grabbed a blanket from behind my head and threw it across the room.  He just looked in to my eyes and told me I could continue on and that I was doing a great job.  The truth is I didn't know what I wanted.  My body took over and it was like a train going down a hill with no breaks.  Everything was forging ahead powerfully and all I could do was take the ride.

Dr. Dott was such an empowering influence during the labor.  He would walk in and tell me, "I am so impressed by you, you are doing such great job." Or "You are going to make it, you can do this."  I felt so supported knowing that he believed in my ability to have a completely natural birth.  He would massage my clavicle and tell me to breath and his presence was so calming and encouraging.  At one point I was overcome with the emotion of the labor and I told him I loved him.  He just looked at me and said, "You are just another one of my daughters."

As my labor progressed I turned on my hypno birthing tracks I had practiced with and the difference between the contractions I had with the track on was so different than when I didn't have it playing.  I loved being reminded to enjoy the time in between contractions and use that time to rest.  I craved that moment.  I was so grateful to have those as I neared transition. 

I remembered being checked at one point and being at 8cm, I don't know what time it was.  Then all of the sudden the contractions started to get more intense than I had ever felt them.  I know I must have looked desperate. I stared in to John's eyes and told him I couldn't do it anymore and on the surface I really thought I couldn't.  But as I said that out loud in my mind and soul I knew I could.  Somewhere inside of me was a place I had never been before but I knew that I had more strength there.  

Dr. Dott came in and checked me and looked up and said, "Let's just try a few practice pushes."  I looked to John and wondered if this was it because only what felt like minutes before Dr. Dott said that I probably had another hour or two.  He had me hold my legs up and taught me to breath in blow out, breathe in blow out, breathe in...hold...and push.  As I did this he was telling John about a nerve that runs down my leg that he should rub.  He said it was connected to the uterus and would help make me feel better.  He also told me that the painful parts were over and that most of what I would feel now was a lot of pressure. The first time I pushed he looked at me and said with a smile, "You just moved your baby's head two inches down the birth canal!" I felt so empowered and pushing felt great! After a couple more pushes he got a phone call and took it outside.  I looked at John and Cindy and said, "I have to push right now!"  Cindy left and went to the hall to get Dr. Dott.  I looked to John and again told him I have to push right now! So I did a little. And a little bit more.  Cindy comes in to the room and Dr. Dott follows quickly behind and sure enough Avett is coming.  Then Cindy asks me, "Do you want the mirror?"  I politely decline and she gives me a stern look and says, "You WANT the mirror."  I had never planned on using it and quite frankly was a little scared of it but we were in it now.  It didn't get more real than that moment. So she rolled it over and there was everything.  I had a quick moment of, "whoa that's a whole lotta me staring back." But then it passed quickly because with the next push there was Avetts head!  It was the most encouraging thing to finally see him, I could see my little boy and I wanted to meet him and hold him so bad.  At that point nurses and the nursery team started rushing in and preparing everything for his arrival.  The energy in the room changed.  Dr. Dott turned around and said loudly but calmly,  "Stop talking, this is a place of peace and calmness."  He was protecting my birthing atmosphere and brought the peace back to the room.  He sat right on the bed with me and in the dim lights of that room and with my next couple of pushes at 3:23pm I brought Avett in to the world.  He cried and John cut the cord.  Dr. Dott look at John and said, "Present your son to the world." So John picked him up off of the bed laid him on my chest.  He was the most wonderful warm temperature and I couldn't stop saying how beautiful he was! A few tears brimmed my eyes and they took him over to clean him off.  I looked at Dr. Dott and kept saying, "I can't believe I just did that! That was amazing! The most incredible thing I've ever done!"  

He finished stitching me up because after all I did push a 10 pound 3 ounce baby out of my body (thank goodness for a little lidocaine shot!).  No major damage done.  I would do it a thousand more times.  Birthing Avett was one of the most sacred and incredible events of my life.  The births of my children are special to me in different ways and are the best days of my life along side the day I married John.   I'm so grateful that I listened to my heart that kept telling me to try for a VBAC.  I am so grateful that my body did what it was made to do and what I always knew it was capable of doing.  I love being a woman and having the opportunity to experience the miracle of birth.  We love our son so much.

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