Imogen turns three

I can’t believe it’s been three years.

So much has happened with our family in the span of Imogen’s life. In some ways, she will always feel like my baby because my recovery after her birth was so much longer and her sister came as a surprise.  I’m not sure if that makes any sense, but that’s how I feel.

But, I don’t want to talk about all that right now.  I want to tell you about our wonderful joy, Imogen Annabelle.

This year she

  • moved into a new house and from a toddler bed to a big girl bed (the bottom of the bunk bed)
  • welcomed Miss Sarah as her caregiver and developed a sweet relationship with her.  And now in the past month she welcomed Miss Laurel.
  • transitioned so smoothly from diapers to big girl undies last summer
  • continued her love of water.  This usually results in nakedness because heaven forbid she wear clothes she’s gotten sopping wet while playing in the sink, with the hose, in a mud puddle, etc.
  • developed a love of dressing up – she is constantly wearing a Cinderella or Minnie Mouse dress and she loves picking out her outfit for church every Saturday night.  In fact, she just generally loves clothes.  She “ooohs” and “ahhhs” every time a package comes in the mail from a grandparent with pretty clothes in it for her.
  • became the disappearing child.  I don’t know how many times I would turn around for a second and she’d be gone.  This happened a lot at Ian’s preschool.  I developed my own reputation – the lady who can’t keep hold of her kid!  To her credit, she’s become much more obedient in this area in the last few months.
  • welcomed a new sibling.  This was much easier for her than it was for Ian, probably because she was already second in the pecking order.
  • is Daddy’s girl.  She’s got some competition now, but her and Jason really do have such a sweet relationship.
  • grew her hair out long. I think it’s really beautiful, especially the one big curl that frames her face. Of course it still gets crazy sometimes.
  • is cruising around on her skut bike like she’s going to be riding a two wheeler in no time!
  • solidified her reputation as the goofy one in the family.  She instigates the potty talk at the dinner table, makes funny noises and faces, and usually is the one to start any kind of silliness.  And once it catches on with her brother it’s like a freight train that’s unfortunately unstoppable.
  • developed her tactile obsession with hair.  I sit down on the couch and within minutes she’s sitting right next to me, running her hands through my hair.  She would do the same thing with Miss Sarah.  When she goes to bed at night she grabs a clump of her own hair and runs it through her fingers as she falls asleep.
  • affirmed to us that she’s definitely a snuggler, which her daddy loves.  If there’s an open lap, she’s in it.  Sometimes in the morning if she’s the first one up she crawls into bed next to Jason, which he never turns down!
  • became more photogenic.  Yes, she had an unfortunate phase where it was hard to get a good picture of her.  Now she smiles and poses and generally likes getting her picture taken.

Speaking of pictures, here’s some of the best photos of her third year, in chronological order.

Second birthday.

Fun at Grandma’s last summer.

Big girl bed.

Here’s some proof of that goofiness I was talking about.

Halloween with Bo Bo.

Beautiful in one of her holiday dresses.

Becoming a big sister.

More fun with Ian.  They really do love playing together.

Egg hunting.  She wasn’t interested so much in finding the eggs as in plopping down and eating as much candy as she could before someone stopped her.

Had to throw one in of the trio.

Happy Birthday, Immy!  You are a pleasure to us and we love you so, so much.

Our cool DIY hexagonal light

Jason and I are back to working on the house.  The intensity of the fourth trimester has let up, the weather is warm and nice, our yard is blooming and we are checking things off our house list (and, I might add, are quite pleased with ourselves).

I was going to wait to devote one post to display all of our work, but I am really excited about a DIY project we worked on and completed this weekend.

May I present to you my new hall light.  Or chandelier.  Or nautical-inspired glass dome of bursting, hexagonal light.  Or whatever you want to call it.

It’s pretty cool, I think.  Here’s what it looks like close up.

I had no idea that it would look so cool lit up, I was excited just by the idea and finished product hanging there in the daylight.

The lamp itself was a find from Goodwill for $6 and originally served as an exterior light over a front door.  It came with a chain link strand, which I knew right away I was going to get rid of to snazz it up a bit (this is where husband comes into the picture).

Jason confirmed to me that the idea I had in mind was probably do-able, so we brought it home and he started thinking about how to make it all happen.  We needed to put together some sort of set-up to put the electrical wire through that I could also fix the rope to.

Here’s what Jason came up with . . .

First, he bought PVC pipe and cut it to our desired length.  Then he drilled holes through at the top and bottom. He used stainless steel eye straps which he bent and put into the pipe, threaded with screws.

Hopefully the pictures below will help make sense of that description.

The top of the pipe, side view.

More of the top attachment.

The bottom of the pipe, where it attaches to the light.

Threading the wires through.

At this point we started messing with the rope we bought, trying to figure out how we (I) wanted it to look wrapped around the PVC pipe.  It ended up looking too fat attached to the lamp.  Jason was annoyed and my dreams of a fun, happy fight-free DIY couples project started to fizzle.

Apparently he felt stronger about the aesthetics of this project than I had realized (this is typically unheard of).  He really liked the particular type of rope we bought (as did I) and he didn’t want to use something thinner, which I thought would look better.  Eventually I went back to Home Depot and found smaller copper pipe to replace the PVC.  This way we could keep the rope.

Once Jason had drilled and configured the new copper pipe, put the wire through and added the existing top and bottom hardware, we hot-glued the rope to the pipe.  The only hard thing was, as I mentioned, figuring out how we wanted the rope to look.  Thankfully, we were in agreement about this, so the gluing process was easy.

Then Jason slapped some ceiling paint on to cover up the gross brown spot that the old light left, and did whatever electrical stuff needed to be done to hang the light and make it shine.  And then, voila!

We finished the project at about 11pm, but it even shoots out those rays in the daytime, too.  Usually I am fastidious about turning off lights when we’re not using them, but I like to leave this one on for the wow factor.

For the sake of me showing off one more time, here’s a before and after.

Our lamp, at the steep price of probably about $25 total.

My obsession with lighting continues.  I’ve decided to sell the chandelier that hangs in our stairwell and probably the ceiling fan/light in our bedroom and come up with some lighting we can make ourselves.  If it works out and isn’t ugly,  I will be sure to share the results.

Heartfelt thanks

During this pregnancy my psychiatrist told me I needed to find a significant amount of help for the first 12 weeks postpartum.

12 weeks is a long time.  That’s 2,016 hours that could potentially be filled with tearful meltdowns, bored children up to no good, sleeplessness, a colicky baby, piles of dirty laundry and dishes, hungry stomachs, poopy diapers, and other variations on the definition of chaos.

In the months we took to thoughtfully prepare for our new addition, I continued to get the impression from the Lord that this prescribed help would come from a lot of different people.  And that a good portion of that help would come from people I didn’t know all that well.

This made me uncomfortable.

But, as we drew closer to Beatrice’s arrival, God sent people who committed to help. Sometimes it was because we asked; other times people knew to ask.  That 12-week period ended a few weeks ago, but we didn’t even have to contact all the people on our help list.  That’s a blessing I did not anticipate!

I want to publicly thank those that have supported us in the last few months, and that’s what the rest of this post is for.  I also wanted to write this all down so I can come back and remember.  This is how Jesus came to us in this season and got us through.

*These thanks are not in any particular order and if I’ve forgotten anyone please, please forgive me and know that I appreciate you.

Jason – you are still married to me because 1) you are extremely loyal 2) God has given you incredible strength and 3) He holds all things together.  Thank you for not only wanting me and us to get through this, but for wanting us to thrive and for doing so, so much to see that happen.  You are also amazing for doing night duty for three months.

Mom – you’ve done pretty much everything for us around the house.  And you never cease to entertain us either! You’ve also listened to me when I’m crazy and empathized when I’m in tears.  You’ve just generally been motherly and I have needed that.  And you’ve been there for Ian and Imogen during a time when they need extra love and attention.

Sarah T – you have kept our household from falling apart!  I can’t say thank you enough for your care of the kids, your hard work, your flexibility, and your asking how I am.  You and your family are a Godsend.

Cindie – thank you for being there, once again, for the birth of a Haggard baby.  You have given me such thoughtful and personal care and counsel with each pregnancy, but especially this one.  And you are always so good to remind me that you are thinking about me and praying for me.  You pray harder than anyone else I know.

Sherri – for giving breastfeeding expertise and encouragement in the first days and weeks as Beatrice and I tried to figure things out.  It was so nice to have you come over or to know that I could call if I had questions or didn’t know what to do.  Nursing has continued to go smoothly.

Jessica – for being my dear friend and now I can also say, my doula.   I am really glad you were able to be such an integral part of this pregnancy, labor and birth.  One more drama we’ve walked through together!

Jane – you just kept bringing food.  And more food.  And more.  It was wonderful.

Ben & Allison – thank you so much for taking care of our kids on the spur of the moment, on several instances.  They had a lot of fun and just today they asked if they could go over to Isaac’s house again :)

Sara B – for seeing me at preschool in the months while I was pregnant and getting the sense that I needed some help (which I did!).  Thank you for giving Ian rides home from preschool.  I’m glad Ian and Ellie have become buddies and I really hope to get to know you more in the future.

Alicia – for donating breast milk I could use in the early days after birth.  It really took the pressure off of me and aided my ability to sleep at night.  And thank you for offering to continue to pump if needed.

Amanda R – for being so excited for us when my water broke that you stayed up the rest of the night and then still took our kids for the rest of the day so I could go about the business of having a baby.  Also, for dealing with my inconsolable child who didn’t want to sleep at your house.

Lynette – for bringing us your amazing pot roast plus other food, as well as handmade baby gifts and a big tub of clothes to go through.  And that day you took my kids for like five hours–that was amazing, too.

Emily N – for coming over, taking care of your kids and mine while also somehow managing to clean parts of my kitchen that had been neglected for months.  I don’t really know how you did that!

Amanda D – for your life coaching and for offering to be my birth assistant.  I really felt honored that you would ask and want to be there.  Also, for the great foot rub.  I look forward to pow-wowing with you soon and setting personal goals for the future.

Michelle – thank you for supporting me through prayer and emails as well as the specially made Chinese postpartum food.  Also, when you nod your head when I share parts of my story at BSF it makes me feel like I’m not so crazy after all.

Brenna – for knowing I could call you if I needed to talk and for calling at the right times to check in.  I really appreciate it.

Kathy – thank you for offering your postpartum doula services to us at just the right time. You’ve helped me gain confidence as a mom and it has been so nice to know I can ask an expert questions when I have no idea what to do with my baby (which is more than you would expect with a third child).  If anyone needs postpartum help, connect with Kathy!

Brittany – for coming over and doing night duty (and doing it so well), even though you have a little one at home to care for.  We got some great sleep that night.

Lisa – thank you for giving us your Sunday afternoons so many times and finding creative ways to entertain the kids.  I know Jason especially appreciated that he could nap during that time since he was so dead tired there for a while.

Monica – for being so excited to see me back at BSF and for praying for us.

Nathan and Natalie – for coming over and cleaning all the floors in our house (they were nasty!), and with smiles on your faces.  They looked so shiny and pristine, which is a treat for me, and so I am thankful for your elbow grease.

Sarah L – thank you for being so available to come over and help and for being so persistent in getting here even though Jason gave you the wrong address!

Linda – for spending the good part of two days of your visit here cooking in my kitchen so I could have delicious freezer meals to get us through the last few weeks.

Alyssa – for the absolute perfect voice mail you left me.  I still have it on my phone to listen to on particularly crappy days.  It makes me miss you, too.

Ashley – for holding my baby so I could take a shower, even though your baby was screaming on the floor.  I found it amusing, I’m not sure if you did at the time!

To everyone who prayed for us.  We really needed it and God was faithful through your intercession.

To everyone who responded to my requests on our church’s website for baby supplies – absolutely everything you’ve donated or lent has come in incredibly handy.  Julie – I especially appreciated all those newborn diapers!

To everyone who made food for us.  It was delicious and we had plenty extra to carry us through.  Also, thank you, Blythe, for organizing meals for us and for everyone else in need at our church.

To friends and family who sent cards, money, gifts, and congratulations.  It feels really good to know that those who are far away are thinking of us and celebrating with us.  It’s also nice to get a fun treat in the mail or put cash towards diapers or medical bills :)

After this experience I can say that it has become a lot easier to ask for help (and that’s saying a lot).  It also makes me look forward to the day when I am more fully able to help others – hopefully that day won’t be in too long.

Many, many blessings,

Elisabeth

(and Jason, Ian, Imogen & Beatrice)

Beatrice’s birth story

Beatrice is just over three months old and her birth story has been sitting here waiting to be finished. Some of you may have thought it would never come, but I love birth and birth stories too much to not get this out of my headand on to the blog. So, here goes.

_______

As I rolled into the final weeks of the third trimester, I can’t emphasize enough how much I was looking forward to meeting the next Haggard baby. I remember with Ian I was focused on how labor and birth would go.  By the time Imogen came around  I was already a mess so much of the pregnancy and postpartum is sadly a blur.

This time I knew I could give birth because I’d done it twice before.  And I was making every preemptive move to not be a mess postpartum,  so I had the mental and emotional space to think (over and over) “I can’t wait to see and hold this baby!”  I will say, this time around it was really fun not knowing the sex (something we had not done before).

We sailed through the holidays and once those were over, in my mind, it was baby time.  Mystery baby was due January 23rd, but since Imogen had come a week early I was more open to the idea that may this baby would come early, too.

That being said, as I met weekly with my midwife in January, there didn’t seem to be any indication that I was going to go into labor soon.  In fact, on January 15th I left the office with a cervix that was far back and not dilated.  My midwife said “See you next week!”

That night Jason and I finally finished our laundry/office space.  He had been working on insulating and sheet-rocking it and the final piece was to take everything out, lay down a carpet remnant, and then put everything back in.  After several hours of hard work we went to bed late and tired, but in fine spirits.  I did wonder, though, if all the lifting or even just the fact that this final project was done and out of the way, would help my body get in the mood to labor.

At about midnight Imogen woke up because she had wet her bed, so I went downstairs to sort things out.  When I bent down to help her change her clothes my water broke.  It wasn’t a gush, but I definitely knew what it was.

In the course of the commotion Jason had gotten up and after telling him the news, we called the Richards, who were our childcare.  We told them to be on standby and that the baby would probably come in the next 6-10 hours.  We also notified Cindie, our midwife, and Jessica, our doula.

At that point I went back to bed and over the course of the next 3-4 hours I dozed, feeling contractions every so often that were enough to sort of wake me.  Early morning came and while everyone else was still asleep I got up and sat in the rocking chair in the baby’s room and worked on my BSF and spent some time journaling. When everyone woke we decided to ask Jessica to come over and to get the kids off to the Richards.

Jessica arrived and because my contractions weren’t really going anywhere, we decided it was a good idea if Jason and I went for a walk.   We walked the kids down to the end of the street to meet Amanda, who would take them for the day.  She was so sweet and excited for us, and had brought me a bouquet of daffodils.

After that Jason and I walked for about an hour.  I remember telling him, “Doesn’t it kinda feel like we’re first-time parents, taking a walk and trying to get labor started?”  Jessica had warned me that third labors could be a bit wonky with their stopping and starting, but it felt odd to actually be experiencing it.  By this point we had resigned ourselves to the fact that we would not have a textbook labor like we had with the other two.

Our little walk was really lovely.  The air was cold and we were bundled up, but it felt good to be outside and moving a bit.  It was also an opportunity for us to talk and for me to tell Jason I was anxious. I felt like more contractions should be coming and I wasn’t making them happen.  I was worried I just wasn’t relaxing enough. Jessica was sitting back at our house, ready to help a laboring woman and I wasn’t much of one at that point.

Jason responded wonderfully and I felt really comforted.  I don’t remember exactly what he said, but I think it was something to the effect of “We all love you, we are here to support you, and you are going to do great.”  I remember saying “THAT was the most perfect thing you could’ve said to me!”

Contractions did pick up as we walked, and I remember feeling free to let them happen.  We would stop every so often when they came.  But when we returned home and assessed things with Jessica, they began to slow down again.  I wasn’t in labor enough to not feel self-conscious when the contractions would come.  I suppose I still had some mind control over them.

I also had this feeling, though I wasn’t able to put it into words at the time, that my body just wasn’t totally ready to have this baby.  I couldn’t put my finger on it, but it was like all the pieces just weren’t in place yet.  Jessica was great about it all, and said she’d go home and that I could call her at any point either just to talk or to have her come over.

For the rest of the day the contractions would pick up and then slow down, coming anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes apart.  I could tell they were definitely doing something, but I could still pretty much go on with regular activities.

It’s been long enough since the labor and birth that I don’t remember exactly how we filled our time the rest of the day.  It was unusual (and nice) to have a quiet house with just the two of us there.  I believe Jason spent an hour or two making work calls.  Cindie called and I gave her an update.   I remember her saying, “I just want you to take your time and enjoy this day and what comes of it.”  Such a Cindie thing to say–it puts a smile on my face to think about it now.

Later in the afternoon I called Jessica and we had a good talk about where I was at emotionally.  I told her I felt pressure to make this happen and she helped me process through that a bit.  I spent some more timing journaling, too.

By late afternoon/early evening contractions weren’t necessarily closer together, but they did have a bit more umph to them.  Cindie called again and I told her a lot of the same things Jessica and I had talked about.   In her calm and cool manner she reminded me that my body would do the work, I didn’t have to.  But again, I wasn’t into labor enough that it felt like my mind didn’t have some say in when or how contractions would come.

Cindie also shared that she had just had a patient whose labor progressed in a very similar way to mine.  Cindie had deduced that because the patient’s cervix was so far back but her water had broken, she had light labor for a long time.  Each contraction, though far apart, was bringing the cervix forward.  Once that was ready, her labor picked up and it wasn’t too long before she was holding her baby.

This was exactly what I needed to hear.  I knew my body was in the same situation and that my cervix coming forward was the missing puzzle piece.  And this was why this labor was so very different than my others.  It also felt good to know that every contraction I had been having was doing something productive.

The Tarters came up and chatted with us around 6 or 7pm.  I had previously asked Sarah if she wanted to be there for the birth since she is an aspiring midwife, so we needed to give them an update of what may lie ahead so they could plan for the night.

Jessica came back around 8pm.  She had been nothing but supportive and helpful during this process, but I could tell when she arrived that I was feeling self-conscious again.  Jessica is a dear friend and I knew I wanted her to be there, but we had never experienced this in our friendship before.  And you just can’t hide in the middle of labor, if that makes any sense.

I tried to labor in the bedroom on my own, but I just kept feeling like I needed to vocalize to her about how I was feeling about her being there. Getting it out in the open would help me move past it, I knew that.  And I knew that’s what God wanted me to do.

Even though it was a bit awkward, she was, of course, really great about it and at the end we prayed.  We specifically prayed that the labor would pick up, that I would feel comfortable and ready for what would come, and she would know how to help.  I remember telling God, “I have known for months that I want these particular women at my birth (Jessica, Cindie, Sarah, and Amanda the birth assistant).  I still really want that, and I pray you would make this a really special time for all of us.”

Now that I think about it, I suppose that was another puzzle piece that needed to fall into place–the last piece.  Because after that I went back into the bedroom and really got to work laboring.  Actually, laboring just started to happen without my control.  Jessica was listening from the other room, encouraging me that I was doing a good job.

Jessica eventually came in and started helping me get through contractions, and soon after Cindie arrived.  Sarah came up at that point and helped Jason get our bed set up for birth and I moved into the baby’s room for a while.

Also, while I was laboring we got a call from the Richards that Imogen was not doing so well.  It was around midnight and she was feeling homesick and would not go to sleep.  So Jason jetted over there to get her and got her into her own bed for the rest of the night (and thankfully we didn’t hear a peep until everything was all over).

I would like to say that as labor progressed it all became a whirlwind, but it really didn’t.  I sat on the birth ball leaning onto the side of the bed as I moved through contractions.  It felt like I did this for a long time, while everyone else stood around and listened and watched.  I was very aware of their presence, but not bothered by it.

Physically, I was doing just fine.  My body wasn’t really tired and I was managing contractions with both the help of Jessica and Jason.

Mentally and emotionally I was becoming more tired of the whole thing.  Although it hadn’t been hard, the start of all this had been 24 hours ago by that point. Jessica prayed for me, which I appreciated.  I remember saying at least once “When am I going to be ready to push?” — I was waiting for Cindie to tell me.  In reality, everyone in the room knew she wasn’t going to need to tell me–my body would certainly do that.

Eventually that feeling did come.  I don’t even really remember it ramping up, it was just there and I got up on the bed.  Jason was sitting on the other side on the edge, and as I kneeled on the mattress I grabbed onto his shoulder and arm.  With a strong contraction I pushed with all my might.  I was looking into his eyes the entire time and he maintained eye contact, but he had sort of a horrific look on his face.

With that big push the baby’s head popped out.  It literally felt like a pop.  I obviously knew what had happened, but it took everyone else a few seconds to realize it.  Cindie had turned around to do something and when she looked again she said with delight “Oh my goodness, the baby’s head is out!  Elisabeth, the baby’s head is wiggling around.”

I don’t think I even waited for another contraction; I pushed again and the rest of the baby came out.  Cindie hands were there and she sort of caught her and let her rest on the bed beneath me.  I looked down and there she was, all curled up.  My first thought and words were “What is it (as in the sex)?”  I had to uncurl her and look to discover it was a girl.  I was so surprised, more so than I thought I would be.

She was covered in vernix (because she was early), but her little eyes peeked through the white on her face.  We laid down and she was tucked between my arm and side.  Jason lay next to me in the bed as Cindie and Amanda went to work.  I had no tears and the placenta easily came out.  After a while Cindie suggested we try nursing and the baby was definitely more interested than I remember my other two babies being.  That was encouraging.

It felt really good to just lay there and relax.  Jason was so great about staying right there with me in the moments afterward; this is something I specifically requested he do.  At the time I didn’t realize how grossed out he was by all the vernix on the baby, the shot of pitocin I received, cutting the umbilical cord (which Sarah did) and the delivery of the placenta, but looking at the pictures you can see it on his face. Despite that, he played the role of doting husband and father very well.

Jason’s looking a little worse for the wear in this picture, but he was amazing.

We announced her name, too–Beatrice Olive Haggard.  Even though I had been so surprised, it was such a pleasure to know we had another girl and to look into her face and call her by her name.  As I mentioned in her birth announcement, Beatrice means “bringer of joy” and Olive was my grandmother’s name.

After a while Amanda did the amazing thing of asking if she could give me a foot rub, which of course I did not turn down.  We all chatted and watched Beatrice for a while.  Sarah took more pictures.  At one point someone asked if I wanted to sit up or get up and into the bath and I said “No, actually, it feels really good to just lay here and not move.”  The hard work of labor was over and I could relax with my baby and husband by my side, and these wonderful ladies nearby.

I did want to make a point of getting a photo of all the women at Beatrice’s birth.  They are all so very special to me and I was truly honored and blessed to have them there.

 

From the left – Amanda (birth assistant and my NP), Jessica (doula and friend), Sarah (friend) and Cindie (midwife).

God really answered the prayer Jessica and I prayed at the start of that evening, that everyone who I wanted to be at the birth would be there and play an important role.

Eventually I did get into the bath and Amanda fed me some of the salted chicken and rice we had made in our postpartum recovery class, which we had frozen just for the occasion.  I had very little bleeding and I felt, all things considered, pretty good.

I also got a chance to take a good look at Beatrice’s placenta (I even took pictures, but don’t worry, I won’t share those).  Cindie explained to me the various parts of the organ.  I am truly amazed at placentas and the work they do in utero.  It’s really astounding.  Beatrice’s was on the smaller side because she was a smaller baby.  It made me wish I would’ve looked at Ian and Imogen’s more to be able to compare.

By the time recovery, clean-up, and Beatrice’s assessment were done it was about 6am.  Imogen woke up a little while later (Ian was at the Richards) and we heard her coming up the stairs.  We told her we had a surprise and she got up on the bed and peeked in the co-sleeper.  She was so sweet about it.  Here she is holding Beatrice for the first time.

I can’t quite remember the order of things, but I think soon after that Amanda Richards brought Ian back to meet his new sister.  We had wanted to wait to tell him it was a girl ourselves, but apparently he overheard Amanda and Jason talking.

Let’s just say he was not impressed with the news.  In fact, he was quite disappointed.

But for being as upset about it as he was, within ten minutes of meeting her he must’ve realized he wasn’t going to be able to change her into a brother, and decided to happily accept Beatrice into the family.

Actually I think what did it was when Jason told him that he gets to be the only brother in the family and that means he has a very special role.

Here is proof of his turnaround:

He’s been seriously doting on her ever since.

I think Amanda took the kids back to her house at this point and Jason, Beatrice and I lay down to get some sleep.  After the last two births I remember very distinctly laying in bed with my husband on one side and my new baby in the co-sleeper on the other side.  Both of them deep in sleep and I wide awake.

But this time I slept, what a wonder!  That was also encouraging; we were off to a good start. And thankfully, postpartum recovery has progressed very positively, even with its normal ups and downs.  I intend to share more on that later.

We are so blessed to have Beatrice Olive in our family.  I am thankful to the Lord that he brought her to us in His timing and with His protection and care.  I can’t say enough how amazed I am at how far we’ve come since that day back in May when we found out we were pregnant.

Here’s one final picture from January 17th.  One beautiful baby, all fresh and new.

Yes, the crazy lady had another baby — and it was wonderful!!!

For nostalgia’s sake, here are Ian and Imogen‘s birth stories.

My variegated camellia

I know it’s been a while, and that’s to be expected since we’ve been busy since Beatrice was born.  I do have a couple blog posts half-written (one being her birth story) but for now I wanted to share something shorter.

Wait, what am I kidding; I don’t do short.

With what I’m about to share I don’t intend to portray myself as especially godly.  In fact, I feel the opposite;  I am in a season of spiritual dryness.  I remember experiencing this after Imogen was born, too.  I feel tapped out mentally and emotionally.  I’m barely doing my daily BSF homework and my prayers feel like they are words spoken distantly and with little intention.

When the end of the day comes I just want to sit down on the couch and watch Parks & Rec on Netflix.  In the moments where I have some quiet while breastfeeding I sit and watch clips of The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.  I tell myself I need light and superficial, that I can’t handle much more.

Despite this desert, there is a little sprout.

We have a big picture window in front of our kitchen sink.  On the other side of the glass sits a camellia bush (more like a tree in our case).  We moved in July so we didn’t see it bloom last spring. Actually it was only recently that I even looked closely enough to recognize that it was a camellia.

And then, this last week, right in the center of the window, this happened.

A lone bloom.  And a pretty spectacular one at that.

I was very pleasantly surprised.  I have never seen a camellia bloom with stripes before.  I posted a photo on Facebook and was told it’s called a variegated camellia.

I have been walking by this window or standing in front of it doing dishes and thinking. Not too deep, mind you, but at least it’s a start.

It’s a little gift to me.

My mom gave me a devotional for Christmas called God Calling.  If you’ve read any of the Jesus Calling devotionals, it is similar in style but a bit more obtuse and written in more complex, older English (which I like).  In fact, it is the book that inspired Sarah Young to write her books.  If you’re not familiar with these devotionals, they are written in the first person, as if Jesus were talking directly to the reader.

This last week I was flipping back through a few day’s worth of devotionals that I’d missed and I came across March 11th, entitled “Seek Beauty.”  This stuck out at me:

“I am with you. When I wanted to express a beautiful thought, I made a lovely flower.

When I want to express to man what I am–what my Father is–I strive to make a very beautiful character.”

There you have it; that’s what my variegated camellia bloom is–a beautiful thought from God.

I gave up Facebook for Lent.  Well, I sort of did.  I’ve been back on a few times but it’s been quick and usually to post a picture.  I have not been trolling it like I ashamedly have spent a lot of my spare time doing in the last few months (years?).

It was–it does–pretty much eat away at my soul.  I’ve tricked myself into feeling, with every “like” I get on my status update, that things are better, that I’m better, that life is better, heck, even that I’m better than others.

I hoped that during this time of Lent I could empty that part of my mental and emotional space and fill it with whatever the Lord wanted to put there.

Emptying hasn’t actually been that hard, but filling back up with the worthwhile has proven much more difficult.  Yes, I troll more on Pinterest now.  And I’ve been obsessing about how my sweet little baby girl is overtired and won’t nap.  I’ve been looking in the mirror at my soft, lumpy body, discouraged. I’ve been imagining how I’m going to organize my laundry room.  Everything will be neat and organized and in control–it will all be wonderful!

I am encouraged that somehow, in the midst of all my chaos (let’s just call it what it is–idolatry) something of the goodness and purpose of Lent has gotten through, all because of that variegated camellia.

I look at it, again and again, by the mere fact that my daily routines center around that window.  It takes me away from Facebook and Pinterest, away from the way things should be, according to me or to the world, to actual reality, where God resides (which is much better).

He makes beautiful things and He’s making me beautiful.  The former is evident, the latter I ask for faith to remember and believe in.

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Also, along similar lines, I have appreciated what Amy Lepine has been writing about Lent and also her post entitled “The Long, Hard Winter, Right?” at Making All Things New.

And here’s some photos from February and March.

Beatrice Olive

On January 17th at 2:42 am we welcomed Beatrice Olive Haggard into our family.  She is a healthy little one, weighing 6 lbs 15 oz (the smallest of our three), and so darn cute.

Beatrice is an English name (keeping with the theme among our kiddo names) which means “bringer of joy.”

Olive was my grandmother’s name (Mother Teresa’s mom), who passed away about ten years ago.  The name is associated biblically with the olive branch, which is a sign of peace.

If you know any of our journey you’ll agree that the significance of these names is, well, significant for us.  And already through this pregnancy and Beatrice’s first week of life she has brought much joy and peace with her.

Beatrice and I are spending a lot of time nursing and snuggling and resting for now.  At night she is with Daddy, either sleeping next to him in the co-sleeper or tucked under his arm.

Ian and Imogen LOVE Beatrice.  Whenever they come back home from somewhere they run in the house to find her, wherever she is.  Ian keeps saying over and over “She’s sooo cute!”  They are adapting so well and I’m so glad they have each other through this time.

We have had wonderful help from Sarah and an outpouring of meals and offers for more help from friends from church and BSF.  I can’t say how much of a blessing these are to us as we adjust and move forward.

And of course, a birth story to come later.

Ian through his fifth year

I will have to say this year has been one of my favorite with Ian.  The last few years have been difficult for us all, but lately I’ve been thinking a lot about how I much I really enjoy my son.  He is blossoming in so many ways and it’s so fun to be a part of his life.

This year Ian:

  1. learned to ride his two-wheeler
  2. was baptized (which he did NOT like)
  3. went from Spiderman to Batman
  4. started going to preschool mid-year (and did so very well)
  5. got a terrible stomach flu while in New York visiting Jordan & Elysia (which he still talks about to this day)
  6. picked me A LOT of dandelions throughout the summer
  7. got the bunk bed he’s dreamed of
  8. has been able to truly play with his sister, now that she’s old enough to chase and be chased
  9. confirmed to me that his love language is quality time
  10. has been so empathetic when he sees me hurting (just this last week when I had the stomach flu he brought me my Juice Plus, a glass of club soda, and my bible because he says that’s what you need when you feel bad)
  11. found out he was having another sibling and was VERY excited upon finding out (and still is)
  12. developed a few new dance moves
  13. remained the best person in the house to find anything that’s lost
  14. had a several-month visit with Grandpa Bill & Grandma Becky and a month-long stay at Grandma T’s during the summer
  15. transitioned to his new house and new preschool very well
  16. started being more consistently and firmly disciplined (results following)
  17. went from more sullen and angry to a lot more cheerful and helpful
  18. adjusted well to having our new helper, Sarah, around to care for he and Imogen
  19. became more snuggly (yay!)
  20. blossomed into quite the artist and letter-writer
  21. continued his mad Lego-engineering skills
  22. made some new friends (though he swore he didn’t need them, he said liked his old ones just fine)
  23. had a two-night hospital visit for a nasty case of croup (he’s so stinkin’ cute and sweet when he’s sick)
  24. became very interested in space and animals, which he will tell you about at length, and in detail
  25. made his first fire in our fireplace
  26. remained incredibly photogenic (beware: you will be inundated below)

Fourth birthday party

First day of preschool in Seattle

Riding his two-wheeler

Spiderman phase

Zip-lining in the backyard

Mother’s Day Party at preschool

Riding the trailgator with Dad

End of first year of preschool (Feb-May)

4th of July Parade

First day of Pre-K in Shoreline (which wasn’t as bad as the picture implies)

Feeling crummy during his hospital stay

Batman at Halloween

Enjoying his birthday with us and Batman

Pre-K school photo

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Sadly Ian came down with a stomach bug the night before his birthday party this year, but still enjoyed himself by celebrating with Grandpa Brad and Nana Linda–and a few birthday presents, too.

Thanks to everyone who has loved him so well this year, he has so many special people in his life, and for that we are thankful.

Ian is a great kid! We love him so much.  And I look forward to seeing more of God’s ways in his life in the coming year.