Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset

I know you were sooo excited, so.... my Christmas bulletin board! I like the hand-stamped months. :)

And while we're getting warm and cozy, how about a goodread for ya?!

Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset
Translated by Tiina Nunnally

Here is a book that I loved.  I kept thinking about Shakespeare's line (from Hamlet I think) "More matter, with less art," because unlike some Dickens (no offense to Dickens and those who love him), Sigrid Undset does not fill her book full of fluff. Stephen bought it for me several years ago. I finally made the time to read the whole thing this Fall, and I'm thankful that I did.  I loved this book because it is a classic Catholic book, not to mention Nobel Prize winner, full and rich with love, history, and a command of the liturgical year.

For starters, though it is long, it feels seamless. She marks passage of time with Saints' days.  Her writing has a dreamlike quality, so at times you feel so far from your own modern world, you may expect to walk into your kitchen, and see a huge wooden table, decorated with sprigs of juniper, and laden with fresh fish or bear meat cooked over a fire. But that's because it takes place in Medieval Norway, thus, it should take you far away from your present-day surroundings.

To summarize (without spoiling the plot), the book starts with Kristin's mysterious interaction with faith and family as a young girl. As I said, much of it, dreamlike. Then, it follows her complicated love story involving two men, Simon and Erlend. We follow her through the major events of her life- growing up, marriage, housekeeping, and raising seven sons. Watching her struggle with sin and betrayal, as well as seeing her deal with pain, such as the death of her parents, you often have a mirror held up to your own personal life. Something interesting is always happening, so don't be fooled by this boring narrative.

Kristin is a very Catholic heroine.  She deals openly with her oft-grief stricken heart by talking closely to a priest, and bemoans her mistakes and failures throughout.  She is not a perfect person, but her imperfection makes the story feel so very real. She struggles with fear from folklore, and superstition, and often must turn to practices such as confession, consolation in Mass, or seeking out the wisdom of her superiors.  She proves the universal truth that grief and broken hearts make the beauty and happiness of life richer.

The other main characters are all very Catholic.  The fun of reading a trilogy of this length, is that many of the characters are developed in a much richer and more complete rendering than a book of average length. Talking of her two youngest, twin sons, Kristin thinks,

"Secretly, in her own heart, she knew that she was actually proudest of these two. If only she could break their terrible defiant and wild behavior, she thought that none of their brothers would make more promisiing men than they would. They were healthy, with good physical abilities; they were fearless, honest, generous, and kind toward all the poor. And more than once they had shown an alacrity and resourcefulness that seemed to her far beyond what might be expected of such young boys."

And since you watch her grow up, and then watch her children born and grow, this makes perfect sense.  All of the characters, particularly the nobility, are developed over time, as is the time period.  The richness and depth are a result of lengthy time in its pages.   For all of these and the other aforementioned  reasons? And being Norwegian myself? Ah, the perfect book.

Have you read Kristin Lavransdatter? What did you think? What can you add to my discussion of the book?  Cristina?  Rhonda? Would you please consider weighing in?

If you haven't read it, do you want to read it? Why or why not?

Now, go read this piece from Crisis Magazine. I feel like I'm continuing a conversation about KL and that's what I like about blogging. Correction: That's one thing I like about blogging!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist (and few other things)

I just finished a book on Saturday, and I really enjoyed it. It was called Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist. The rave reviews you may have already read are not to be ignored.

She had to adopt a gluten-free diet, for her husband, but instead of making a big hairy deal about it, she just rolled with it.  Her attitude is extremely positive and relaxed.  Her recipes are down-home and not terribly difficult, such as Annette's Enchiladas or Mango Chicken Curry. A good many are stylish and will stretch the average homemaker's cooking abilities (and maybe your budget), like Turkey Burgers a la Donald Trump's chef, or Sullivan Street Bread. Many- but not all- of her recipes are gluten-free, and there is a valuable chapter on every-night weekday meals, which speaks to special diets and is very helpful for meal planning in a simple, budget-friendly, special-gluten-free diet-friendly way.

I jotted down a few notes on What I like about Shauna's writing.

She's articulate, without going on and on (and on).  I loved the chapter "Delicious Everywhere" about travel and the food of many cultures. She has traveled so very many places, like France and Africa and South America and New York City, and has great wisdom to share from her experiences. I also loved the recounting of her visit to Mexico for a family vacation to catch a break from Michigan in the dead of winter, in which she explores the importance of a break from technology, entitled, "Swimming in Silence."

I can't wait to try her recipe for breakfast cookies, which include almond meal, chocolate chips, and shredded coconut. I already made a version of her Gaia cookies recipe, and blogged about it, here. The recipe for roasted broccoli near the end sounds to die for.

Check out this book, Bread and Wine. And read it, especially if you love cooking or foodie books, or if you just simply like Shauna's writing style. I'll probably give you my copy before you get a chance, since I'm as enthusiastic about this one as I was about Cold Tangerines. And we all know what happened to my copy of Cold Tangerines. I would say the only thing I had reservations about would be the time-money efficiency of a few of the recipes in the book. I love food-writing, and I love the simple sophistication of these two foodies, who I've mentioned before.

Also wanted to mention that we had a GREAT weekend...

We visited my parents' cabin for dinner Saturday.

And the girls spent the afternoon there.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

What Can I Do With My 3.5 year old?

Ok mommies/parents. Since we aren't sending our son to preschool, I want to make sure I'm keeping up with him developmentally - giving him ways to play that match where he is - not talking serious schooling or anything. But as I read about "what do preschoolers learn" it's all stuff that he already knows and stuff we already do at home. It all seems like basic "good mommy" stuff that I wouldn't NOT do (read aloud to your children and point out colors and numbers and shapes or Your child will learn about geometric shapes in preschool - iow - talk about squares and circles). So... I'm looking for ideas from any of you... How do I not introduce formal home schooling to him but also step things up a bit? I'm not good at craftiness, but maybe being more dedicated in daily fun things at home would be good. Please tell me your #1 source for craft/activity ideas. I've spent hours on Pinterest before only to disappoint myself with how little I do. I need to be diligent with creating a schedule (for MYSELF) so that I actually DO - like: Monday - "nature walk to hunt for treasures and stick em on paper" Tuesday - "use markers and crayons to draw some letters and cut them out" Go!! Remember - he is 3.5.

A friend of mine recently asked this question on FB.  She tagged me in the post, and although I wrote a short response on her wall, I wanted to answer it more thoroughly here.

I think in short order, she is asking-- how do I homeschool without homeschooling?

And that was my question as my oldest Molly got to be about 3.5.   I wanted her to learn how to read- I thought she was smart enough- certainly- and I thought we had worked hard enough with her that it would be a breeze. She loved to sit with a pile of books, surely she was on the cusp of reading! Boy I was wrong. But now that she is in Kindergarten, I am so very glad we didn't push things. She is learning right alongside her classmates. She isn't bored (at all- she loves Kindergarten) at school, and she is right where they want her to be. She knows letters and their sounds. Nothing is new, so I personally think she is ripe for learning how to read.

I have an almost 3-year-old, a 1.5 year old, and a newborn at home.  How can I stay intentional with them, but also, as my very astute friend pointed out, not get overwhelmed by Pinterest craftiness and/or the pressure of "homeschooling"?  It certainly can backfire and it has for me... 

Just a simple set of materials.... paper, crayons, play-doh, etc.
1. Love your space.
You don't have to homeschool to have a place to "do school."  We call it "tot school" instead of homeschooling. It involves the things we love to do! 

2. Love your ritual.
Include things you will enjoy in the ritual. Make it a peaceful routine.  Don't give yourself a nervous break down. They're little.  This isn't boot camp, nor will your children die from a hot dog.

3. Love your materials.
If you look in your closet, and it makes you happy, then that's a good place to start.  Don't overdo it, but I guarantee if you are excited about your materials, they will be, too.  Read the books and watch the movies that you read and watched as kids. Introduce new stuff- but only the stuff that you approve of (a.k.a. doesn't drive you batty). If it isn't twaddle, then you and your child should both enjoy it (so wisely pointed out by Charlotte Mason).

4. Make it rich- for them and for you.
Every day is a precious gift. Teach that principle to them.  If it means making high tea (as the French would call it, a gouter- 'goutay') en route to dinner at 4pm with cake, cookies, and chocolate milk, in order to celebrate the day or a certain person, then do that. 
Frances memorized a verse :  "Do everything without complaining or disputing." Philippians 2:14

5. Teach Jesus.
At the end of the day-- THIS. THIS is what matters.  What did Jesus teach? Model it in your behavior and your words at all times.  This life is soooooo short. We're on our way to our eternal home.  Keep this before you as you do everything, all day!

Direct them to becoming the people you hope they'll be.
If you want one basic, simple principle, here it is.  Train them in the way they should go... and when they are old, they will not depart from it. AMEN.

linking up with Hallie.

Friday, August 16, 2013

My Fall Reading List 2013

**Photo courtesy of Etsy, the dreamy giraffe

I'm on my last book from the Summer Reading List- I'm trying to finish Nicholas Nickleby before the September train rolls in.

I feel set and ready to make my Fall Reading List known.  So without further ado.... here it is!

1. September: Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset
I read about half, when my husband bought me this translation.  After a season, I'm picking it back up. It's time to conquer!

2. September: Choosing Joy: The Secret of Living a Fully Christian Life by Dan Lord
Husband of the ever-fun, muy respected Hallie, I'm excited to dive into this book that I've heard and read so much about.

3. September/October: Dinner: A Love Story by Jenny Rosenstrach
This one just sounds fun.  From the looks of it, it will be read quickly!

4. October: Life After Art by Matt Appling
I've read a few fabulous reviews of this book.

5. October/November: Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist
Like the one above, the positive reviews are endless, and I've found a kindred spirit (and a fellow Westmont alum/student) in Shauna after reading her book Cold Tangerines. Isn't it comforting to know you'll love a book, even before you read it?  Does that sound too presumptuous? I'll get back to you on that.

6. November: Loving Frank by Nancy Horan
I've heard good things, and I love me some historical fiction.

7. November: The Handbook for Catholic Moms by Lisa Hendey
I've been wanting to read something by Lisa Hendey, founder of CatholicMom.com. This looks like a great place to start.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman

Back in May, I catalogued my Summer Reading List, and one of the books I couldn't wait to read was Pamela Druckerman's Bringing Up Bebe.  I have thoroughly enjoyed hammering through this during our first week post-partum.  It's about all the things I like and am interested in-- culture, France, food, and parenting. What's not to like? Well, to be honest, I had one minor miff, myself. As she praises French parenting, increasingly throughout the book she - at first humbly, and later self-deprecating to a fault- puts down her own parenting, and with it, American parenting in general.

Le Pause and Le Cadre.
She deals with many driving ideas in French culture about parenting. Two that stuck out to me were 'le pause' and 'le cadre.' While Americans might rush at the first peep, 'le pause,' is the idea that you should teach your child patience, and that they can learn it even as infants. If you hear them crying, wait a minute, or a few minutes, and evaluate the situation. Can they soothe themselves? Is it hunger, or is it a momentary anxiety that - in waiting and letting them work it out- can help them to learn patience in the long-run?  'Le cadre' is French for 'the framework.' This term applies to the schedule about which most French parents remain strict. This often means no snacking between meals, an earlier lunch, and a 'gouter' or snack around 4pm, followed by a later dinner. This makes a lot of sense to me, and I think we might implement this with my own kids- especially considering the "after-school snack" will be apart of our everyday routine with Molly now. There are many more significant French terms- sage, betise, that I don't have time to cover.

Druckerman also starts the book by talking about pregnancy and childbirth. It is fascinating to read how differently American and French cultures approach this part of life.  I was fascinated that French women really work hard not to gain much weight during pregnancy, and they will get comments and social pressure not only to lose the baby weight, but not to gain it in the first place.  This contrasts with many Americans' approach (including my own way of thinking about it) that the baby needs a milkshake, or a woman is craving cake, so let her have some (more)! It seems that many French women -at least in Paris- are also influenced by ads, but in a much different way from Americans. They're into the sexy image, even if their primary occupation is motherhood. Interestingly, there is no division between the "Mom look" and the "on the town" look.  French mamas show up at the playground, not in the grubbies or drawstring pants they found on the floor of their bedroom, but in skinny jeans and boots, just months after baby is born.

She chronicles her daughter's acceptance in and experience at The Creche- a state-run day-care provider. While American day-care is sometimes looked down upon by those who want their children to have more one-on-one attention, the Creche is standard for each neighborhood in France, and getting a spot at The Creche is deemed admirable.  The workers are well-trained professionals, and the atmosphere is a nurturing place where lunch looks like a menu from a five-star restaurant, and kids receive potty training and (if you are Mrs. Druckerman's daughter), a crash course in French! While Day-Care often gets a bad rap in our country, these look much different.

She writes about the history of this institution, the Creche, as well as various philosophies that drive French women. For example, she chronicles their approach to teaching children patience as they grow up, and their relaxed sensibilities,  particularly just letting the children play and learn without too much intervention.   The example she gives in the book of "helicopter parenting" is a series of American mothers she sees at the playground who narrate everything their child is doing. "You are going down the slide!" she overhears one mother saying to her son.  She talks to a French pediatrician who is based in New York, and he thinks Moms do this to tell other people at the playground what good parents they are! However, it's an exhausting way to parent.

I think American mothers do overcompensate in parenting and motherhood in general, and one reason may be because of Corporate America and the struggle with materialism. For example, Parenting Magazine's take on a confident day at the beach. It would only make sense that the average American Mama has a bit of guilt over this issue.  If a certain product doesn't answer our parenting woes, then maybe the latest self-esteem philosophy. We turn to anything and everything, always influenced by the latest ad. There seems to be a guilt-factor from various other aspects of our culture, too.

She goes on to say that the framework and the authority is deeply important. She writes, "For French parents, living with a child-king seems wildly out of balance and bad for for the whole family. They think it would drain much of the pleasure from daily life- for the parents and the kids. They know that building this cadre requires enormous effort, but they believe that the alternative is unacceptable. It's obvious to French parents that the cadre is the only thing standing between them and two-hour 'goodnights'"  (p. 228). Can I just stop there and get an AMEN?!

All in all, I loved this book. I think it would be great fun to become a French mama for a while.  Pamela Druckerman is quite honest that she never tries to be what she is not. She does things the American way, (for example, nursing and gaining that extra baby weight), while learning from and admiring the French parenting happening all around her. I would say she adopts some techniques and wisdom from the French- read the book to find out what.

The only quibble I take with the book is that Druckerman seems to put French parenting on a pedestal. When approaching the issue of authority, she compares herself to the French Mamas at the playground, and repeatedly undermines herself and her kids' behavior. We take for granted what our own culture says about parenting, and her humility is quite compelling. It can be refreshing and enlightening to read about other cultures and their perspective on little ones. Reading about the menu for toddlers at The Creche is itself worth the price of the book. However, stereotypes are made be broken, and perhaps American parenting should be held in higher esteem. Perhaps this book will help improve the culture of parenting in the U.S. and in turn change the tide and with it, the stereotype. I recommend it if you enjoy learning about other cultures, or if you have an interest or passion in parenting.
Linking up with Housewifespice for What We're Reading Wednesday!
...just because I couldn't resist! 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Molly's First Day of Kindergarten!

Today was Molly's First Day of School!

Go, Molly! :)

~  ~  ~

When talking about the baby brother, we asked the girls what they thought his eye color would be, we said, "They could be brown like Frances,"
and Molly said "Or they could be hazelnut like mine!"
Frances said, "Yeah- they could be hazelnut!!!"

During dinner, Frances said, with delight, "Mommy, eating is FUN!"

While talking to the automated voice on Daddy's iphone (Siri), Frances asked, "Do you like to waltz with potatoes?" The iphone answered, "I don't like these arbitrary categories."

More Mollyisms...

Molly taking a sip out of my water bottle, "And the top is made out of rubbish!"
Me: Do you mean rubber?
Molly: Yeah! Rubbish.
Me: :)

Stephen put together a wooden wardrobe, and Molly wanted to help, so she asked me,
"Mommy, can I have a check board (clipboard) so that I can check things off and tell people what to do?"

Before Kindergarten: "I hope rest time is 20 minutes and not 30 minutes. Because 20 minutes is less than 30 minutes." (It was an hour).

On using her new ($5 from Walmart) backpack:
Daddy: You have to use the school bag that they gave you. They won't let you use the new one.
Molly: That's ok. I can save it for College.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Birth Story~ Anders Eliot Beck

My due date, August 1st, came and went. I packed bags for the girls on Wednesday night, July 31st so that we would be ready to go. We have a babysitter who usually comes on Thursday night, but since it was my due date, I told her I'll call her if we needed her. I called her that afternoon!  Stephen and I walked the Walnut Street bridge, hoping to start labor.

Friday I woke up, again hoping labor would start any time. We went through a normal- and by normal, I mean challenging- morning, and after sluggishly getting the girls their breakfast, I started sobbing. Baby, please come out! I can't do this!   I felt wrapped up in worry, but countered my fears with notes of faith. Maybe they got the due date wrong, I wondered.... but I'm measuring 40 cm and at 20 weeks ultrasound, the baby was measuring to be due August 1st!  God will bring him in his perfect time... I prayed over and over again for peace. And trust.

We went to run errands- a pretty normal, albeit somewhat busy Friday. Then while the girls were playing at the play area in the Mall, I started having some pain. Painful contractions, I thought.  My mind whirred into action.... what needs to be done, where the girls need to go, what I need to pack, etc. We got home and I spun into action.  And then it stopped. My Mom had called that morning to offer to take the girls to the playground. We ended up meeting her there in the afternoon and she took the girls home to have popsicles while I did some walking. We came home and had a normal Friday night.

Saturday, the same story. I woke up hoping I could induce labor by staying on my feet.  I did laundry, put it away, cleaned up, and vacuumed. Still, no signs of labor. Headaches seem to be the only indicator of pre-labor symptoms. I listened to my Labor Playlist and relaxed. I lit candles. I paced. I fiddled and did more laundry. That night I prayed over the Daily Readings and asked Stephen to pray for me- for protection, and that I would go into labor! Whenever concerned friends would call or text, I would ask them to pray that I would go into labor.

Sunday was a very restful day.  I was able to sleep in until about 9am, while Stephen watched the girls. My parents took the girls to church with them at the Little Brown Church. I did some light chores and Stephen and I went to the 11:30 Mass as usual. I walked on the way there, again, trying to bring on labor.  We then met my parents and brother and the girls for lunch.

We came home and watched 101 Dalmatians as a family, and rested.  I took a nap, then we headed out to pick up some dinner. It was nice to stop cleaning so frantically, and just rest. At about 6pm, after dinner, I started having some painful contractions.  I was in denial that it was actual labor, because I had been having pre-labor symptoms all day week. Desperate that I was almost four days overdue, I had taken 2 tbsp. of castor oil in the morning, but I had decided it hadn't worked a bit. I took another 1 tbsp. around 6pm. By 7pm, my contractions were coming regularly. Most were about 15 minutes apart. I rested and lit candles.  I was hoping it was true labor, as I thought it would be neat to go into labor after receiving the Sacrament that morning.

At 9pm we called my parents. My contractions were coming about every 10 minutes, but I had just had two that were 7 minutes apart. Some were bad and others were very mild.  I wasn't sure what to do- should they wait until the contractions were closer together? Both of my parents and I ended up agreeing that I shouldn't wait- after all, that's what we did last time when Madeleine was born.... contractions had come every 7 minutes, every 10, every 5, every 10.....and then we told the Midwife that, and she didn't make it to our house in time!

We checked into the hospital at 10pm.  My contractions had slowed down, but they checked me and I was 4-5 cm dilated.  I answered a litany of questions from a nurse in triage, another series from the OB doctor whom I had never met, and another set of questions from another nurse.  They checked me into a nice, big Labor and Delivery and started me on an IV and monitor, for the baby and for me.  I had to lay down for about an hour of monitoring.

I had a birth plan of sorts written up, recommended by the doula we met with prior to his birth. She recommended writing your three top things that are most important to you, at the top, and then anything else desired below that. This proved invaluable, and all of the people on staff when we checked in were respectful of my desire for "freedom of movement," and my disinterest in having my water broken, or other serious interventions that felt unnatural. The doctor on call was a young guy whose wife had recently had a natural birth herself! (Praise God!)

Thankfully labor progressed naturally and rather quickly. By midnight, they had taken me off the regular monitoring and were letting me and Stephen walk the halls. I only had two big contractions out in the hallway, but boy, when we came back and sat down in bed, they picked up. We could watch them on the screen and around 1:30am, I had twelve to fifteen contractions back to back- within 3 minutes of each other.  It was interesting being able to watch them rise and fall, since last time we were at home without all the technology! You could see some were short and sharp, and some were long and intense. Stephen could watch them along with me, which I liked.

Stephen was amazing. He kept encouraging me and saying (sincerely) "You are so close. Keep going. The contractions are helping him to come. He'll be here soon."  The nurses were good, and did not interrupt us much.  They brought ice chips and asked how things were going occasionally. The room felt very sacred. It was dim and quiet.

The second time they took me off the monitor, I could tell that any little bit of movement would bring on a strong, painful contraction. I had probably just started transition at that point.  I asked for a birthing ball, and a bit later a nurse brought one in. That was just what I needed to cope with the pain.  I sat on it for a few contractions and they offered me a popsicle and I said YES to that! Eating the orange popsicle around 2am was the last thing I did before I pushed that boy out into the world! I think it helped my sanity, and my blood sugar!

We walked to the bathroom, then walked out to the sink in my room.  I stood with Stephen, leaning against him for two painful contractions, then I started panting.  I could tell my body was building up to something! I gained a bunch of oxygen from panting and used it all to let out a huge scream and push with all my might! I could feel the head about to crown. Stephen paged the nurse and said, "Um, I think my wife needs to get CHECKED!" :) They heard my scream. Several nurses and two doctors came rushing in - right in time for the birth.

I let out two more huge screams and gave two pushes- the first one to get the head out, and the second one to get the body out!   A nurse caught the baby, while I leaned on Stephen for support. We were standing right at the foot of the bed. My bag of waters had stayed in tact until he was born.

I laid down, and kept thinking, "Oh wow, that hurt. That really, really hurt." I think I mumbled, "He was big."Stephen cut the cord.  I laid down on the bed, dreading delivering the placenta.  The doctors and nurses did a quick clean-up and laid him on my chest for skin-to-skin time. I could tell he was going to be a very sweet baby. I delivered the placenta and was informed I didn't need any stitches and hadn't torn at all. I was shocked! After some time holding him they weighed him- 7 lbs 7 oz. Again, I was shocked.  I was not surprised by how quickly he came once labor started progressing and picking up. It was much like Madeleine's birth in that way. I could tell my body was ready to push and so I pushed!

All in all, I think it was the perfect birth. It was slow and steady, but all in all only about 8 hours of labor. The thing I am most surprised by was how ready I was so far in advance this time. I really had to lean on God in faith to wait for him to come. (Although the castor oil is something I would recommend to other moms out there who are overdue and ready!)  I was also imagining him coming during the day, so a 2:30AM birth wasn't on my radar!  Thankfully, I was not very tired during labor. I felt relaxed.

Compared to the home birth, being in the hospital was a relaxing experience in so many ways.  We enjoyed the support, the time away from home, the meals, and the time to just spend time with baby before bringing him home. I'm very thankful for how God orchestrated and perfectly timed Anders Eliot's arrival.  We are so proud and so happy!

Anders means Strong and Brave.
Eliot means The Lord is my God.

Welcome to the world, baby boy!!!! :)

Monday, July 22, 2013

Pregnancy Update 38.5 Weeks + Molly's Birth Story

38.5 Weeks... hopefully this guy will show up soon! A stork will drop him off on our doorstep, right? :)
We are packed for the hospital. My girls are spending the first couple of days this week going on a train trip with my parents. I'm going to attack the last nesting projects I have burning on my to-do list. Stephen fixed up our pantry nice and organized like. I will post on that this week. Hopefully soon.

I'm feeling well.  About once every day I think "Eek! I can't make it until August in these conditions!!!!" And then a few minutes later, I get over it again. The heartburn, sleeping sitting upright, and bigness of it all is getting challenging with 3 kids in tow!  Thank God for grandparents- they have been soooo amazingly helpful throughout this entire pregnancy. I can't say it enough.

I've been posting my girls' birth stories. Here's Madeleine's and Frances'. And now for you today.... Molly's birth story!

sweet little molly jane.... she was our 6 pounder.

We have had visitors non-stop since Molly's birth. My Mom came the day after she was born and helped us pack up to leave the hospital for our first night at home. It was really special having "Marmee" or Grandma here. We are thinking she'll be called Marmee but since Molly won't be saying much for a while, it's still up in the air. The past 3 days my Dad and little bro Eric were here. It was really nice to have all the help and Molly enjoyed the attention!

I have been wanting to chronicle a few details of Molly's birth just for memory's sake. Everything in terms of Molly's arrival went much better than I could have hoped. I was in labor for about 14 hours. For a first baby, my progression in labor was actually really fast, and it maybe would have been even faster if I hadn't taken it super-easy. I have to confess I had some specific prayers about my labor and delivery, and God seems to have heard them all. One of those prayers was that Molly would hurry up and come early! Another was that my labor would go quickly, and I'm not sure how quickly it would have gone if I hadn't done certain things to SLOW IT DOWN! Another prayer was that I would have Christian nurses, and I know at least my first nurse in the delivery room was a believer and all the others were very sweet.

I went into labor sometime around 2:30 am on Tuesday January 15. I kept waking up feeling uncomfortable and thought it was indigestion, so I kept going back to sleep. Then I really woke up around 3:30 or 4 and realized I was actually in pain and it was probably contractions. It was exciting and wonderful to think I might actually be in labor, meaning Molly was coming 5 days early... and all the joy made the pain much more bearable. The few days previous, especially on Saturday, I was having pretty random "false labor" pains... really irregular contractions and just generally feeling odd. So when I woke Stephen up really early in the morning on the 15th, he was doubtful that my pains were legitimate labor pains - for good reason - we didn't want to go to the hospital if it wasn't real, and besides, I still had almost a week to my due date. AND I tend to be dramatic (especially while pregnant) so Stephen had to keep me balanced. :) My contractions started coming regularly, but they were still 10 minutes apart at around 8:30 am. But I was feeling anxious and pretty sick because I couldn't keep any food down which was making me feel weak, so I called my friend Susan- who is a doula and in school for midwifery- to ask her some questions. I asked her if it was normal that my contractions seemed to speed up when I moved around. She said absolutely yes because everything gets very sensitive when you go into early labor and walking or activity can move things along quickly. But she suggested taking it easy in order to preserve my energy for active labor. So... I watched a movie... Almost Famous... while lying in bed! This really took my mind off of everything and I really enjoyed the movie, for the hundredth time. :) Well, the minute the movie was over, I got up to get something in the kitchen, which is across the apartment from our bedroom. I forgot my gatorade in the bedroom, so I walked back down the hall to get it, and then I walked back to the kitchen. Well, in the span of those couple of minutes, my contractions sped up from every 10 minutes to every 5 minutes! I only wonder how fast labor would have gone if I hadn't stopped to rest and watch a movie!! As soon as my contractions were 5 minutes apart (about 11am) Stephen started to believe me that this really was it, even though neither of us could really believe it was finally actually happening!! 

Conveniently, I had a doctor's appointment with my OB-GYN scheduled that day for 1:30pm. Stephen suggested that we try to wait it out another hour to the appintment, and I told him, "NO! I NEED to go to the hospital NOW!" Good thing, because when we got to my OB's office I was almost 5 cm dilated and he told me I needed to get to labor and delivery cause it was time to have that baby! He said, "This is a great day to have a baby!!" And of course I got very excited when he said that, although by that time I was starting to become mean because the contractions hurt. We tried to walk to Clatanoff Pavilion to Labor and Delivery (across the parking lot from where my doctor's office is in the Wayson Pavilion) but I told Stephen I needed a wheelchair. I was walking like a little old lady, all hunched forward with my bum sticking out. haha! So we got one in the lobby and he wheeled me to the 2nd floor where we needed to go. Good thing we did the hospital tour .... FIVE days earlier... so we knew where to go!!! Stephen called my mom to tell her "Today is the day!" It started to snow furiously outside but nothing was sticking and it stopped pretty soon after that. But it was cool because last February our nephew was born and it was a snow day in Chattanooga - one of the only ones last year. So it brought back memories of Luke's birthday.

We got to the second floor and I have to admit this was when I started to lose confidence and I wanted to be anywhere but there. I guess that's part of labor. My doc broke my water around 1:30pm and Nurse Phyllis started asking me a million questions for her little forms she had to fill out. It was making me really mad because she asked me the exact same litany of questions multiple times. It was almost like she was trying to distract me, but boy it wasn't helping!!! She also recommended the epidural if I wasn't sure. I asked her if it slowed down pushing and she said in all of her experience, it doesn't tend to slow down pushing time much if at all. Dr. Hankinson told me after he breaks the water things really get going and usually that's when people decide to get an epidural. He was right because not long after that, in the peak of active labor- contractions coming really frequently in great intensity, I decided I wanted an epidural. I was about 6 cm. I had to wait a good 30 minutes for the dude to come give it to me and then another 20 minutes or so for it to work. That was awful. Once I got it, I was able to rest while I dilated from 6-9 cm in a matter of about an hour and half! I was in a very happy state of mind during this time and Stephen and I talked to our nurse about books. :) My nurse was pretty surprised when she checked me the first time after getting the epidural and I was a big 9cm and almost ready to push! Dr. Hankinson came and congratulated me on my timing- it was about 4pm- he said I'd get an extra jewel in my crown because he would be able to pick his kids up from swimming before he had to be back to deliver another patient!

I pushed for about 40 minutes, Stephen and Nurse Phyllis helped a lot during this process. Everything went very quickly and really before I knew it Molly was here in the world!! I had gotten the epidural around 2:30pm and she was born at 4:49pm. She was beautiful when she was born, not puffy or ugly at all.... and I just kept saying, "Oh my goodness!" The doc and nurse were both very curious about her name since we kept it a secret, so Stephen let me announce "Molly Jane," and the doctor said, "I thought you said it was a Southern name, that's not very Southern... Molly Jean?" And I said, "NO! Molly JANE." It was kind of funny. Stephen and I were both in a daze. I think a mixture of exhaustion and emotional overload my face started twitching uncontrollably and I kept involuntarily blinking really hard. My nurse was a little worried so she made me rest my eyes for a while. They warmed Molly in the incubator and then I was able to breastfeed for the first time. A bit stressful, but our nurse helped in the best way and Molly was a pro by the second day!!! Everything has been going really well since then. Stephen took a week off from Coptix and we enjoyed sitting around staring at our lovely doll.

Molly Jane in Maryland.

Sweet girl
looking so old....
and i just have to say I'm proud that that bathingsuit was a goodwill find! :)

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Obstacle Courses with Molly Jane

The other day we were bored waiting and watching for Daddy to appear from work, on his bicycle!

Molly wanted to play a game, so I quickly schemed a little obstacle course for her.

The object of the course was very simple.

1. Scissor steps backward holding the beach ball.

2. Put the beach ball in the kiddie pool and pick up the little watering can.

3. Fill the watering can with water. 

4. Walk to the sand table and pour out the watering can into the sand table.

4. Run back to Mommy and do a "Johnny, Johnny, Johnny whoop" game. We used to do this when I was a camp counselor!


Very silly and unfancy, but it worked. She did over and over, and Frances wanted to learn the Johnny game too. :)

By the way, because baby pictures never get old, I'm so happy for my cousins Matt and Ginny, who just recently had a sweet little baby man, named Jude.  :) Here's a photo of my Grandma Evelyn holding him! Congrats to you!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Pregnancy Update~ 37.5 weeks+ Frances' birth story

A few more weeks to go! I had an OB visit and was measuring 38 cm. I also visited the Labor and Delivery floor and got a tour. It is very nice and so close by. We are getting packed for the hospital!

Last week, I shared Madeleine's birth story. This week, I'm sharing Frances' story!  Fair warning: it is a little bit lengthy and I thought about sharing it in segments, but I figure you can always read it in segments even if I post it all here!

photo by Sarah Culver

One week ago today... she was born. Although my doula recommended that I rest and nurse and not try to do much else, writing this down has been like breathing and resting for me. I didn't want to wait longer than a week because I didn't want to forget anything.

All week I had said, "She can come Friday (October 1). I have too much to do before then." Thursday we went to Sams and stocked up on diapers and granola bars and everything else to be able to not leave the house for a month. Friday morning I had an appointment with my OB. I learned that I was 3cm. We picked up some milk at Trader Joe's and headed home to get some cleaning done. I mopped the floors, vacuumed, cleaned the oven, wiped the baseboards and the spindles on our stairwell. When Molly woke up we went for a walk and even while I pushed Molly on the swing I shifted my weight like I was walking. I wanted to be on my feet all day to see if I couldn't induce labor.
I made and ate a HUGE plate of Pasta Carbonara for dinner. God knew I would need the carb energy. At around 8:30 pm, I started feeling a little funny. Molly watched a ballet movie and following along with the steps. She was acting like such a big girl, and I started crying watching her, thinking about her as the older sister and how much this baby was about to change her life.
On my walk with Molly, my feet had gotten very dirty on the muddy playground in my chacos, so I asked Stephen if he would wash my feet so that I could lay on the bed without getting it dirty. When he started, Molly got very excited and so he had to wash her feet too. That turned out to be symbolic of his servanthood to his wife and daughters throughout the night and into the next morning.
It started out with feeling a little nauseous and tired, then I started to have mild contractions once every ten minutes around 10 pm. They were bearable and Stephen and I became excited and giddy thinking that this might be it- she might be here by tomorrow! So after we put Molly down, we went into “labor mode.” We had planned for this moment for weeks- and thought about it for nine months- so we were ready and excited. The hospital bags were packed, the house was clean, Molly's pack n play and diaper bag were ready to go. I had spent time during the past week making a playlist of relaxing music and worship music. I love these sorts of details so I wrote out the playlist in its final form.(* see below.)
We lit candles and I talked to my sister on the phone. Mostly we just listened to music and talked, Stephen had a beer, and whenever a contraction would come, I would close my eyes and breathe through it. Around midnight we were both getting sleepy, so we decided to get some rest. I was amazingly relaxed but I had a hard time getting comfortable to actually fall asleep. I may have dozed off a time or two but every ten minutes a contraction would wake me up. The night before, we had read scripture – a sheet called “Verses for Labor” I do not own a copy of translation so it was refreshingly unfamiliar. One of my favorites is this translation of Isaiah 41:10:
“Don't panic. I'm with you.
There's no need to fear for I'm your God.
I'll give you strength. I'll help you.” -the message
I had also written out my birth plan along with some encouraging quotes and things that Stephen could say to me during labor that I thought would encourage me.
I found a great resource online that I thought of throughout labor that really helped me mentally-BirthingNaturally.net. One of the things on there was about dealing with your fears. I loved how the site put it: “What are you afraid of? Why are you afraid?” I read the latter question in the tone, “Why would you be afraid when there is nothing to be afraid of?"
I found courage during this labor by reminding myself that my body knows what to do, and since I am a woman, I am made to give birth. God would not give me more than I can handle, so there is no need to panic at any time for any reason. It also helped for me to visualize what was happening during each contraction. With Molly, I was imagining all kinds of crazy impossible things that my body had to do, and the complexity of the baby travelling down through the pelvis, and possible complications during that process, really scared me. But this time I just thought about the simple fact of the cervix dilating so that the baby's head could come through. That was all that was happening during each contraction- otherwise the baby was positioned and ready to be born. She was right there, so close to being here, and the contractions were simply helping to let her out.This thought process greatly helped me mentally. And having contractions 10 minutes apart really helped the time go by quickly. I would just read or rest in between and before I knew it the night was passing me by.
Around 3am, I had a contraction that was so painful I could no longer lay down. I got up and took a bath with eucaplyptus essential oil and lavender oil, and I ate a clementine and some graham crackers. After the bath and after walking up and down the hall, several of my contractions were getting to be about six minutes apart. Some were bad, some were pretty mild. I was able to close my eyes and breathe through them, and I just took them one at a time.
All throughout my labor I did not think about the past except to say, “Look at how long I have been doing this- I can keep going.” And I did not think about the future, except to say, “Frances, I can't wait to meet you.” Otherwise I focused on keeping my mind in the present, being creative to cope with the pain, and leaning on Stephen for support. At around 5:00am we called our doula Cheryl and our neighbor and dear friend Sarah who came to pick up Molly and they both arrived at about the same time. Stephen got Molly all ready to go. He was doing so much, running this way and that. Contractions were getting much more intense, but I held it together until a little while after Molly left. I kept thinking about the endorphins that accompanied the pain and the verse, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart.” I thought about “laborland” and how you really are in a different world – focused on what you are doing- when you are in the peak of labor. These things kept me going.
Cheryl first tried to have me lie down to rest, as she was concerned that I hadn't gotten much if any sleep all night. As soon as she had gotten me comfortable with a pillows to support me, I had a very strong contraction and I realized my water had broken. With Molly's birth, this happened unnaturally and contractions became much more painful after that cushioning bag of waters was gone. But Cheryl helped me to relax my shoulders and not panic despite more intense contractions. She was a calming presence, saying "Good job" after each contraction.
Stephen was awesome encouraging me, giving me spoonfuls of honey and pieces of clementine and lighting candles. I had to lean against the wall every time a contraction came. They were about 3 minutes apart at this point and soon coming back to back. I told them I thought we needed to go to the hospital. I think we must have left for the hospital around 6:30 or 6:45 am.
To be continued...
*Labor Playlist:
Death Cab for Cutie- Marching Bands of Manhattan
Enter the Worship Circle- You're the One
Sigur Ros- Samsketyti
Jon Foreman- The Cure for Pain
Hem- An Easy One
Amy Grant- That's What Love is For
The Album Leaf- Streamside
Enter the Worship Circle- Bright and Beautiful
Enya- Only Time
Patti Griffin- Rain
Blind Pilot- 3 Rounds and a Sound
Rosie Thomas- Since You've Been Around
Enigma Variations
Mosaic- Repentance
Henryk Gorecki- Lento Cantabile Semplice
Damien Jurado- Ohio
Neil Young- Harvest
Mosaic- Anthem
Leo Kottke- Bigger Situation
Chicago- You're the Inspiration
Over the Rhine- Born
Bon Iver- Flume
Sixpence None the Richer- Trust

photo by Sarah Culver

...Looking back, I am sure I was in transition on the stairs. At least we had a goal to take my mind off of it: get down the stairs and get to the hospital before I am ready to push.
As we were going down the stairs, Cheryl asked me if there was a verse that I wanted to think about, and I quoted Proverbs 3:4-5. I have to laugh now that despite being able to barely speak, I quickly quoted the entire verse to her: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your path.” We live on the third floor so we have to walk down 43 stairs to get to our car on the street. It must have taken us almost ten minutes to get down the stairs because I had to stop every few steps to breathe through a contraction and say “Trust in the Lord." They were very intense and it would be an understatement to say it was an uncomfortable ride over to the hospital.
Stephen pulled up to the front entrance and just left the car, hoping valet would take it. No one came for it so it just stayed there at the front entrance until after Frances was born when a nurse came in and told him to move our car. I LOVE him for that!!!
Cheryl and Stephen walked me down the endless hallway from the entrance to the elevator to Labor and Delivery. They were practically carrying me. Literally, fifteen people asked “Do you need a wheelchair?” One guy asked, “Have you been to the ER yet?” (I don't think he realized I was in labor because I was hunched over with a coat on... that's why we were headed in the opposite direction of the ER). I refused the wheelchairs because I knew walking would help bring her out, and it would have been too painful to sit down. We made it up the elevator and I certainly made quite the scene when we got to L&D. It felt like a TV show for a minute. The nurses were in between shifts so there was double the necessary amount present, and about ten people came into the delivery room with us. A big nurse was barking at me and so Stephen started answering her questions for me: How long has she been in labor? When did the water break? Is this her first? Etc. Meanwhile, nothing was penetrating my zone and remembering the next thirty minutes is like a blur. I was yelling “Lord have mercy!” because I had started to feel the urge to push as we were walking down that hall to the elevator, contractions were getting very strong, and by the time we got to the Delivery room, I knew the baby was coming soon.
The contractions were changing from one on top of the other, to breaks for several minutes in between, with a strong urge to bear down and push. But after the pushing, I would have another calm break and just wait for the intensity to wash over me again. These contractions were the most painful of all, but I got the biggest break in between each one. Yes it was probably the hardest work I have ever done in my life, but by God's grace, never unbearable.
They checked me and I was 9cm. My doula really helped to defend my birth plan, and they dimmed the lights. When they checked me, they realized I had a cervical lip, or a part of the cervix that was in the way of the head. Cheryl told me to try an optimal position that would solve this problem.
Despite several people trying to change positions, I kept my eyes and ears on my doula. And although my memory of the last moments of labor are a blurry chaos, one thing did not feel chaotic. The connection with my doula. I have since developed a new respect for doulas and midwives. I trusted her, and I knew she was there to defend the sacredness of the space where my daughter would come into the world. It was as if she and me and Stephen were the only ones in the room that realized this moment was about the birth of our daughter. I think it was in that moment, for me, that thoughts of miracles, heroes, angels, and the supernatural came crashing into the room. Later I found out that the Lord prompted my Mom and Dad to pray together for the birth, not knowing it was at almost the exact time Frances was born.
Those last contractions were painful but by that time I was not talking, I was not listening. I had moved past laborland and into babyland. I just kept saying, “Baby, I'm ready for you to come out.”
Sweet Frances was born after about 20 minutes of pushing, at 7:43 am.
A few minutes later we were getting to know her. I was eating a nice big breakfast of eggs, bacon, muffin, juice, and even had a cup of coffee that didn't give me heartburn for the first time in nine months. Coffee had never, ever tasted soo good. Then we watched MASH in our hospital room and beheld God's gift to us.And thankfully I quickly overcame my late-pregnancy fears that I had forgotten how to care for a newborn!
Our good friend Lisa brought Molly to visit that afternoon around 4pm. When she met Frances, Molly had a great look on her face- surprised, happy, and pleasantly joyful. Molly seems to have been born knowing how to be an amazing big sister.
I have a new love in my life that casts a new glow over everything I do. This love. Everything in our home is warmed by this glow of love in all of our hearts.
Colossians 1:11-12 “As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn how to do your work. We pray that you'll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul—not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us.”

Big Girl Frances is 2 1/2! :)

Monday, July 8, 2013

Pregnancy Update~ 36.5 weeks + Madeleine's Birth Story

Here's a picture for you.... baby bump and all!

36 weeks!
This was taken on Wednesday of last week.
To see an update on the nursery, from this past weekend, click here!

And no, don't worry, I didn't have the baby....
this is Madeleine, a few minutes old! Precious!

I have wanted to post Madeleine’s  birth story--- click away if not interested or if you don’t like birth stories! I was inspired by reading Michele's. I got so much peace from reading her story, as she prepares for her upcoming birth. So.... since I'm 3 weeks away myself, here you go... Madeleine's birth story!

It was a long process deciding to do a homebirth with a midwife. Molly was born in a hospital, and so was Frances. Frances was natural, Molly was not- I had an epidural.  I talked to a friend who had used Nicole, our midwife for Madeleine, and she said it was like having a good friend at the birth. She came for home visits, which were AWESOME- nothing like having her come to YOU, at your house for every check-up. She really was an amazing person. In the short time we got to know her, I trusted her, she bonded with our kiddos, and put forth an incredibly professional presence.

The reason we finally decided to go with Nicole and a homebirth was because we were in inner city DC, our insurance wouldn’t cover a nice hospital in the area, and I was wary of going into labor in the car if we tried to go to Annapolis, about 40 minutes away to an incredible labor and delivery facility there.

A few days before Madeleine was born, I watched a video of a birth standing up, and thought, I could do that. It seemed to really be good with gravity on my side, so I tucked it away as something I wanted to consider for the birth.

On Saturday, I cleaned and I got ready for my mom’s arrival. The timing could not have been more perfect. She got there late Saturday evening to help out with the girls during the imminent delivery. We had a nice time together.  On Sunday, we went to church, took lots of pictures of the girls, and ate a big lunch, with cake for early Mother’s Day celebration.

On Sunday night, May 6th, I prayed that the Lord would bring the baby soon. Both times before I remember telling God, “I’m ready for this baby to come. I’m ready, baby. Come out!” The house was clean, we finally returned the library books that were in the car, we got everything on the homebirth list, even the ammonia that we had trouble finding before. We stopped on the way home for a few last groceries we needed. I went to bed Sunday night feeling very ready to be a Mommy of three babies.

I started feeling painful contractions between 4 and 4:30am Monday morning. I thanked God for answering my prayers! No long, awkward wait for labor while my Mom was visiting!  I woke up, had a small breakfast with lemon tea, checked email and listened to music. As labor progressed, I kept spiritual peace by meditating on the fruit of the Holy Spirit, and asking St. Anne and St. Brigid, patron saints of labor and newborns respectively, to pray for me. I also tried to stay in the present moment, and to refrain from fear of the future, or labor getting more painful, by meditating on truths of scripture and the promises of God, such as...

I will never leave you, nor forsake you
I will meet, supply your every need
I will give you peace for the journey
I will be with you
I will give you rest
I will direct your path
I will give you my Spirit, the Comforter, to sustain you and give you a willing spirit
I will love you.
Life is a precious miracle.

I stayed in bed and rested, and contractions just kept coming every 10 minutes all morning.  I also used the rainbow technique to make it through each contraction. I imagined each color of the rainbow one by one and tried to think of something that color.

The girls would come up to check on me, and so did my Mom and Stephen. Things were not changing much, so when we called Nicole, she said to keep resting, and call when contractions sped up to 4 minutes apart.

I spent the morning in bed, feeling like I had a mild flu. Then, labor sped up at around 11:30am.  It started transitioning from every 10 minutes to irregular contractions, anywhere from 7 to 4 minutes apart. We called Nicole at 12:30pm, after 3 back to back contractions that were 4 minutes apart, and she said she would be there in 30 minutes. She came in 40 minutes! :)

I took a shower, and it was getting hard to keep going.  Stephen brought me oranges and saltines, turned on classical music, and I asked him for some teaspoons of honey. Contractions were getting very intense, but I didn’t realize how close I was to giving birth. I kept going back and forth from sitting to standing up, all while in the bathroom. Everything was becoming painful, but I would bear down and really try to make the most of every contraction. My water broke while I was sitting on the toilet. It hurt, but I kept bearing down.... the more painful the better, I kept telling myself. And yes, the contractions were productive. Very productive.  I suddenly felt the urge to push and let out a very large scream. The girls had just returned from a walk to the playground with my Mom, and Molly heard me from downstairs, as they were starting lunch, and said, “Why is Mommy screaming?”

Stephen came upstairs, and I said, “She’s coming!” He checked standing from behind but couldn’t see her head, but I could feel her crowning.  I had another urge to push, and he looked again and saw her head.  He said, “Just keep pushing!” I gave one more push standing up, and she was born! Stephen caught, or delivered, the baby. Stephen yelled to my Mom, “Wendy! She’s here!” He was awesome and very calm the entire time! She was born at 1pm, about 10 minutes before Nicole arrived.

My Mom came upstairs, and Stephen handed the baby to my Mom, so that he could call Nicole to find out what we should do. My Mom was standing behind me, so I had to swing my leg over the cord, which was not around her neck, but wrapped around her back and the back of her neck.  Stephen’s comment was, “I’m so glad God made the cord so long. He knew what he was doing!” I could finally hold her, and Nicole told Stephen on the phone that I needed to recline. I almost laid down in the bathroom, but then said I thought I could walk to the bed! She was blue at first, but pinked up quickly with blankets.

It didn’t seem to take long until Nicole got there and helped us to do all the post-partum care. She was awesome, despite being up all night with another birth. She had Stephen cut the cord, and then we cleaned her up together, and she got me some tea with herbs. I nursed Madeleine, then she did the baby exam and weighed her... 6lbs 15 oz. I kept saying, “I can’t believe she’s here!” And Nicole said, “I have never missed a birth! I can’t believe I missed it!”  She checked me, and I was able to deliver the baby without tearing at all.  Praise God, that was one of my prayer requests.

a few hours old....

My other prayer request was peace and a non-eventful labor. Well... ironic that that was my request... delivering our own baby was peaceful, but it definitely WAS eventful in its own way! It was not what we expected, but just as God usually works, an extremely sacred, relatively short, fairly simple labor at home, and only three pushes, with no tearing, and a healthy baby...was better than what we hoped for, expected, or imagined!

She was a great newborn. She was a great eater and good sleeper. She had her days and nights mixed up, but she stayed by me all night the first night, and nursed like a champ. I'm really, really in love! She is beautiful, but I'm sure I'm not biased. ;)
a week old.

Look at her now... big girl at 14 months!