Category Archives: Beatrice

Ten weeks into home school

We have just completed our tenth week of our new and improved home school.

The best way to describe what we’ve been up to is to share some thoughts about how each one of us has fared through the last weeks–from my perspective. So, here goes.

Things I am learning about Ian

  • He really likes “couch time.” This is together time, where we sit down and do our main Sonlight stuff–Bible, World History, Geography and reading novels. He especially likes the Usborne Time Traveler and World History books we go through, which are packed with lots of great illustrations and encyclopedic information.
  • The boy needs structure and consistency. It has been helpful for him to see a list each day on the fridge that tells him what will be expected of him in both school and family life. His fits and whining have dramatically decreased.
  • He has a knack for a lot of things–things that surprised me. He has pretty quickly picked up novice piano reading and playing skills, and I didn’t realize he could spell as well as he does. His ability to communicate in writing has improved, too. I think it’s all the reading he’s doing, and the varied subjects that the Sonlight Readers give him.
  • Despite his bad attitude about going to church, he enjoys reading the Bible with me, listening to me explain meaning behind stories, and engaging in conversation. I think he thinks about these things later, at least I know he remembers them. Maybe this is a better way for him to do it than Awana, which we discontinued after last year.

22750187138_e0131d199b

We’ve been spending many mornings doing couch time in front of a fire. Our woodpile may not last us through the winter.

30840733551_432dbb83ab

22750186748_eb01414131

22750186278_28d933aff2

Portraying desk work worse than it actually is.

25292938149_cffe88586d

Piano practice.

30627091490_1e71fc30b1

Archeological dig.

25292937309_7a270bb05b

Smaller, indoor archeological dig that ended up bearing more fruit than its outdoor counterpart.

22750187798_eec6bc4547

Ian’s budding rock and treasure collection.

Things I’m learning about Imogen

  • She’s picking up a lot of what Ian is learning–the things that pique her interest. She likes the Bible memory verse songs and the Geography songs. She likes to move to them as she learns.
  • She LOVES Aesop’s Fables. Honestly, many of them can be perplexing and the lessons can be difficult to explain to children. She loves the animals, the older, unique writing style, and the pictures. So we’re going with it.
  • She is excited about learning and I don’t want to dismiss that because I’m busy doing stuff with Ian. She wants to be read to and to have her own library books to look at. She often says, “When I read I’m going to . . .” She’s memorized a Sandra Boynton book she reads to Beatrice.
  • She loves art. Love, love, loves it. I have a love/hate relationship with her doing it because it’s messy. But she feels so loved and inspired when we engage in art activities. I’m excited for her to enroll in the Art class at the HEE next year. I’m ordering her some drawing books to work on for now.
  • She plays well with Beatrice when I’m teaching Ian things she’s not interested in. I am very thankful for that.
  • She loves swimming, and I’m so glad we got her into lessons. She gets to shine, doing her own thing.
  • She’s still doing ballet, but I’m not sure that will be a long-run activity.
  • Doing Pre-K was a good choice for her. I don’t hear her talk a lot about it, but I also don’t hear her complain about going. I think she feels confident in her class. She gets some one-on-one time with her teacher developing skills as one of the oldest in her class.

25292937739_0a2063be72

We found a great toy store called Toys that Teach. They have a fantastic book collection that clearly Imogen was intrigued by (not to mention I drooled over so many good titles). I’m thinking I may need to create her a quiet corner with a comfy chair.

22750189688_9fe307c655

25292936009_75d4aec7ae

Things I’m learning about Beatrice

  • She’s definitely moved into that 2.5-3.5 year-old difficult phase. Hitting, calling names, yelling, throwing fits, being sassy. It’s not so bad yet, but as the youngest she is definitely getting away with more.
  • She talks like she’s a ten-year-old sometimes, complete with attitude and hand gestures. We think it’s cute, but I’m not sure we should encourage it all that much.
  • She really likes being at the HEE. She’s found a favorite toy (a pull along puppy) that she drags all over the place. Don’t tell her, but she’s getting one for Christmas.
  • She doesn’t put caps on markers and it drives me CRAZY.
  • She has picked up French words with more enthusiasm and ease than the other two.
  • She has memorized the Middle East geography song we worked on in our first weeks, and can sing the Alphabet. It’s amazing what little ones can learn through song and the influence of their siblings.
  • She can start doing more household chores, I just need to make an effort to include her and hold her accountable.
  • She was a fantastic potty trainer!

Things I’m learning in this process

  • This gig is like a job. No, it is a job. Depending upon how much one invests in it, it can be part-time or full-time. I like it, but I didn’t think about how it would change my schedule and my relationships with others. I am missing some of my friends and fun activities, and need to consider how to fit those things into our lifestyle.
  • I really love learning, particularly when it comes to history and literature. This isn’t a revelation, but a rediscovery. There’s a reason I got a liberal arts degree in English Literature (I also strongly considered History). Ten years after leaving formal education I am seeing it bear fruit in the parenting and education of my kids. I know this is not for everyone, but I am having fun right now. You can ask me later how I feel when higher-level math and science come onto the scene.
  • I can see that this current endeavor could equip me for something else down the line, though I have no idea what. I like sharing what I know and engaging kids in good conversations. I can ask good questions appropriate to their level and then listen for their answers and personal views. I don’t think is just my kids; this has come naturally to me in nannying and other teaching scenarios.
  • I really love reading out loud. The more I do it, the better I get at it, and the more fun it is for all of us. It’s a bit of acting, of finessing words, and of creating the atmosphere I think the author is intending.
  • I can become a slave to the schedule and the checklist. I’m starting to feel that pressure to keep us on track with what is assigned each day and week. It’s wearing on me. Other Sonlight parents in the Facebook group I’m in warned of this. It is certainly not the intent of the Instructor’s Guide to encourage this. It’s just us Type A types.
  • In light of this, I am going to pick up Teaching from Rest, which has been sitting at my nightstand, waiting for me to come around to it. I’m interested to learn more about schole, the intentional slowing down of learning. This will be a challenge for me, but I think it will prove beneficial to my kids in the long run.
  • I can see myself living vicariously through my kids. Biggest example: I want to teach Ian Grammar (probably too early) because I learned very little when I was a kid. I turned out to be a good writer anyway, but I wonder if it hindered my foreign language learning. I am insecure about it. On the other hand, I don’t want to focus too much focus on Grammar in a way that hinders him from writing freely and outside of the box. Yes, these are the things that home school moms stress about and that I used to roll my eyes at.
  • I am tempted to choose the school stuff over the character building and discipline work. It’s just easier, folks. I’m trying to switch priorities.
  • I’m still hesitant to pick up French because I don’t have a set curriculum or lesson plan. I obviously don’t have the immersion option. With Ian going to Botswana in July it is more motivation to move forward, but this will be a real challenge for my personality. I’m hoping to focus on teaching him essential phrases for his travel experience and not venture too far out from that for now.
  • I’m still a homebody. Getting my kids outside for play is another weak point for me. I am glad they have the HEE and preschool two days a week.

Other things I’m excited about

  • Ian’s piano lessons with Miss Jane. I am thoroughly impressed with her skill and her thoughtfulness in considering the interests and needs of her student. Ian respects her tight ship. At the same time, he’s impressed when he requests songs like the Imperial March and Miss Jane practices it to perform for him at their next lesson. Sometimes I wish I could be a fly on the wall when they work together.
  • Usborne books. I’m not a fan of buying anything at full price, but I’ve gotten sucked into these fantastic materials. I’m particularly excited about some of the books I’ve ordered for Imogen that will help her transition into and get started in Kindergarten. (Side note: I have a book lady named Jessie, if you are interested in Usborne, and she did help me get some good deals.) I’ve also gotten a lot of used encyclopedic books from Goodwill I plan to dole out. I will be cracking them open myself in my *mass* of free time.
  • Putting together a centrally located bookshelf of good stuff that the kids will visit regularly (the one in their basement bedroom doesn’t get frequented).
  • How fun the HEE community continues to be, and how helpful and kind the staff is there.
  • Setting goals. I usually hate doing that. It’s like creating a mission statement–you forget it, move on and then feel guilty about how much you clearly didn’t care that much about it in the first place. That being said, the curriculum specialist at the HEE encouraged me to come up with some benchmarks for the school year. That way, I can put possible new endeavors through the checklist and see if they fit into what we are trying to achieve with our kids. This includes not just formal education, but also character traits we want to encourage, and our kids assimilation into being contributing members of our household and society. I really did feel relieved after putting my thoughts on paper, and I look forward to getting Jason’s feedback, so we can hone in on what we’re doing with these kiddos.

30812300022_93b05dcaa0

30627091620_18a1685998

Archeological dig in the backyard.

25292939749_990e72ba51

First day in our new workspace. It was clean then, but now it’s a mess of scribbled scrap paper, uncapped markers and really dirty carpet. But, we’re making our way through that shelf of books!

25292939109_4a2732263f

Members of the HEE family (at our new location). These three aren’t official students yet, but they enjoy the space, the people, the regular refills of popcorn, and the lollipops that are given out by the generous Ms. Trudi.

25292936699_37b6652fca

Weekly preschool carpool with this bunch

30812061942_52166e293a

Preschool pumpkin patch visit

30812061532_2b74211762

22750188648_49203e5dcc

Trick-or-treaters who mean business

25292936539_af90a7f388

Future homeschooler? Yet to be seen.

30812061162_c806167ed9

On a sunny day at the HEE, watching the big kids with their remote-controlled truck.

*For those who are interested in the details of our curriculum and materials, Ian is using Sonlight’s Core B&C World History curriculum, Math Mammoth, and Spelling Power. I can’t seem to commit to more Language Arts materials, but we have been trying out Shurley English and Winning with Writing. I’m thinking about starting Rosetta Stone for French.

Imogen is a part of our Sonlight Bible, History and Reading time when she wants to be, she’s doing a few pages a week of a Scholastic Pre-K workbook I got at Costco, and I’m trying to get her books at the library that interest her. She attends Westgate Preschool two days a week and does ballet.

Beatrice at two years

Dear Bebo,

I want to take a moment to remind you that you’re given name is Beatrice. You insist on being called Bebo, and I suppose I can’t blame you; it most likely originated from my own postpartum stupor of tiredness. And then it really, really stuck.

Over the course of your second year you went from babe in arms to a walking toddler.  I guess that’s how it’s supposed to go, but you took your time. I could tell you could’ve walked earlier if you had wanted to, but you stayed crawling well after your first birthday. You made the commitment to walk at sixteen months, and man, now you’re running to keep up with your siblings, and calling me to run along, too. Maybe you gave me that extra time as a semi-baby as a sweet, wonderful gift. I just loved that time with you.

God gave you beautiful brown eyes. Your sister has them, too, but in a different way, with a different tone. When I open the van door to get you out of your seat, I see it most then, in the natural light.  I can’t explain it, but they have a sparkle, a shine to them. I think that’s unusual for darker-eyed children. It makes me stop and really look at you, which when you are a busy mom, you don’t do enough with your kids. Yet another gift.

I see both your siblings in your face, and your Dad and I, too, but you have your own look. Ian says you are the “key to cuteness.” He’s been saying you’re cute from day one. In fact, he sings about it constantly, with the same lyric and sometimes a varying tune: “Bebo is so cuuuuuute!” He was pretty stinkin’ adorable at your age, but he doesn’t have the lone dimple, which is a pretty big leg-up on his toddlerdom of yesteryear.

Your brother is obsessed with both delighting you and annoying you. In the first few months of your second year you didn’t notice so much, and when you did, you would sometimes dance along. By your second birthday you were annoyed, would yell “NOOOOOOO!!!!!” and gave him a good slap. He would laugh and laugh. Beatrice, you have total power over that boy.  Be nice to him as you get older, even if he drives you nuts. He’s devoted to you.

You learned how to smile for the camera this year, and it’s is such a cheeky smile. Your face is small enough that all if it scrunches up–your cheeks, your eyes, and a big, memorable crease across the bridge of your nose. Before you could walk you had a wholehearted and joyful desire to dance along with your siblings to “I Like to Move it, Move It!”(played MANY times at our house), even when all you could do was crawl up to the speakers and bounce up and down with a smile on your face.

You love the bath. Early on in the year, the moment I would turn on the faucet you’d come crawling with incredible speed, then pull yourself up to the side of the tub and try to tip yourself over into the water. You’d splash and splash, and now you and Imogen fight over toys. She takes great joy in seeing how much you love the water.

You have chub like your brother and sister didn’t, and I LOVE IT. We play belly drums on you all the time. What I find miraculous is that you’re padded despite the fact that it seems you barely ate anything this year. Carbs, carbs, carbs. That’s what you ate. No fruits, no veggies, barely any meat. I would put loads of butter on anything you ate, though it’s better now. And smoothies–that’s really what got us through it. Even ice cream–you’d turn your face away and even when we’d force it into your mouth you’d spit it out. You do things on your own time.

You babbled this last year, and you certainly weren’t a quiet child, but you didn’t really start talking until closer to two. The doctor said you should be saying some ridiculous amount of words (23?) by a 18 months, which your siblings never did. Nevertheless, we took you to a speech therapist at Children’s per the doctor’s recommendation. You were an absolute delight to the therapist; you played farm and ball with her and she showed me you were actually trying to say quite a few words, you just didn’t have them down yet. It was not worry; by two you were chatting away. Now it’s full sentences and you hold your own against the rest of us loud, opinionated chatterboxes.

You have always been a super snuggler. Imogen can stealthily sneak into a lap without anyone noticing–that’s her talent. You announce your presence as you climb up, and make sure no one tries to take over your spot (sometimes by force). You would babble and talk and grab my face to make sure I was listening. If you were tired you’d lay your head on my shoulder and stick your thumb in your mouth. I have LOVED that.

In fact, for a few months after you turned one, we had really special moments at the start of the day. You’d wake up before the other kids, and I’d still want to sleep, so I’d pull you out of bed, get back into our big bed, and lay you on my chest. You’d snuggle in, your head in that shoulder-spot, still and quiet. These were best moments of your second year for me, bar none. I will not forget them.

That phase has passed and you’re a ball of energy now. Towards the end of the year when I knew you wouldn’t sit still on my chest, I’d leave you in your crib for a few more moments of wake up for myself. You would start bouncing up and down, thumping pretty loudly. You’d chant, “Mommy, Mommy, Mommy” with increasing volume until I’d finally come and get you.

One of the first phrases you started saying was “NO WAY!” Again it started with me–a silly thing I’d say to you when you’d kick me during diaper changes. You laughed and then started saying it back.  But then it was “NO WAY!” to a lot of things, sometimes in silliness, but later on in defiance.

As the youngest, you’ve picked things up, including Ian’s obsession with Star Wars. You started humming the Imperial March at about 20 months. I could hear you during nap time alternating between that and your “NO WAY!”s. Geesh.

You love books. If I couldn’t find you or hadn’t heard from you in a while, I’d peek into your room and find you on the rocking chair looking at books quietly. As your language developed you would chat to yourself, your intonations going up and down, as if you were actually saying words.  This went on for a few months, but now you want me to read the books to you, and you anticipate what’s next in your favorites, which include all of Sandra Boyton’s hippos and cows. I think it’s meant to be.

26782383104_7e39deb24b

To my surprise you expressed an interest in the potty not long after you could walk. I’d set you on the big toilet and you’d even push, proud of yourself and saying you peed. I’d have to coax you off the toilet. Then one day your actually did pee. And you did it a few more times. I didn’t commence potty training (you may be ready, but I’m not quite yet), but I am hopeful for our future efforts.

You grow in personality and tenacity and smarts every day. I don’t want to dive into your third year, though months of it have already passed by. That’s for another time, and there’ll be lots more to say. For now, I’ll just say it’s getting better and better. You have made your place in our family. Everybody loves Bebo.

You were a surprise, Beatrice. Truly a miracle, coming into the world at the most perfect time, but also at an uncertain and honestly scary time for me and our family. But I can’t imagine a day without you–back when you were a newborn in my arms, a snuggler on my chest, and now in the chaos as your siblings show you the way (and when sometimes you give them a piece of your mind).

Keep growing into yourself, Bringer of Joy. There’s so much more of it in you to come!

Love,

Mommy (dum dum dum, dum de dum, dum de dum)

_________________________

Here is Beatrice’s second year in pictures, in chronological order starting with her 1st birthday and ending with her 2nd.

16308965478_e92d8e842b

16470696736_94f2449f2a

16728469773_d2734b7e701

17160968368_9bb3412a3c

18028332861_a53ffd03ae

17348418621_604fdfb733

17348776835_cf32ddd76a

19215920195_454647df07

20805223976_727198ae7d

20838627761_d5829b82d9

20822005802_0642b6ee98

20831402945_83a30a37df

20831544865_45d45dbf52

20210887513_7ecc2a5bbc

20645174789_c825483a1a

20209391964_e81fa9a669

22401863226_9d7c4f8edd

22401877386_8156252900

22241068739_e293267da3

23801650880_7381b34a91

24097386345_f202bc898e

24116609604_6ecd78fd62

24651328351_c365787a001

24744802785_9d6f5b7c3b

27389793795_02f0e56fc9

27318695651_38c0eea63b

27356115356_c2854edd26

27389617905_c849edc6de

27356118776_9f6a2eb57b

Beatrice’s first year

January 17th marked Beatrice’s first birthday. Can you believe it? It’s already been a year.  I know people say that all the time, but it really is true.  The time has passed quickly.

Here’s a few memories, mostly in chronological order:

  • Beatrice’s first few weeks were spent sleeping next to Dad, or in the co-sleeper next to the twin bed in her room.  She liked to be swaddled and tucked right in the crook of his arm.  Not very comfortable for Jason, but sweet dreams were had for Beatrice.
  • Speaking of sleep, Jason did night duty for this little girl for weeks, until she was pretty much sleeping through the night.  He is amazing.
  • What is also amazing, and a pure gift from God, is that Bea started sleeping through the night at about eight weeks. At around this time we moved her from the co-sleeper into her crib.
  • For the first three months of her life Beatrice would not take daytime naps anywhere but upright, snuggled on someone’s chest.  There was a lot of baby-wearing going on in this house.  At exactly 12 weeks we started putting her down in her crib and after getting past the shock of a mattress instead of a warm body, she learned to sleep alone.  She sleeps on her tummy, sucking her thumb.
  • At around eight months Beatrice started crawling, clapping and waving.  These milestones made me feel like she really moved from an infant to a toddling baby.
  • At ten months Beatrice could pull herself up on her knees and by eleven months she could pull herself up to standing.  She’s nowhere near the walking stage yet.  The only time she’ll stand is if she’s at the edge of the bathtub, banging on the side because she wants to get in.
  • Speaking of, she LOVES baths and water.  She had her first pool and ocean swims in July when we went to Florida.  But she really just loves sitting in the bathtub batting at the water and letting it splash back up in her face.  You start the water running and she can’t get in there fast enough!
  • She’s doing her own jibber jabber, which began with “da da” and “ga ga” and a bunch of other consonant-based sounds.
  • Even though she doesn’t have any actual words to say yet, that doesn’t keep her from speaking up.  If the rest of us Haggards are all talking at the dinner table or in the van, she starts yelling loudly, to join in.  If everyone stops talking, she stops, too. That child is going to have to keep interrupting if she wants to get a word in edgewise in this family.
  • She’s gone from breastmilk to pureed foods to regular food (and is still breastfeeding).  She was the smallest Haggard baby to start and had a difficult time putting on weight in the first six months of life.  I work really hard to breastfeed, but I think I’m just not a major milk factory and my thyroid hit some low points.  Since Bea’s started eating regular foods, she’s looking chunkier.  I love her little dimpled hands.
  • Speaking of dimples, yes, I know you’ve noticed them.  Her right one is more pronounced.  My mom says they’ve passed down from her Great Grandma Olive.
  • At her one year well-child exam, Bea was 80% for her head and 25% for height and weight.  I think she’s going to be on the petite side, but I suppose that’s still to be seen.
  • She’s acquired her two bottom teeth, but hasn’t seemed to be uncomfortable in the teething process (yet).
  • She’s my brown-eyed Ian look-alike.  When I compare baby photos, you can see a lot of the resemblance, although quite a few people say they see Jason in her face and I agree with that, especially as she gets older.
  • At around eleven months Bea started dancing along with the rest of us.  She has her own little body wiggle she does when Ian puts on his dance music, which is really super cute. Just yesterday Ian’s favorite song, “I Like to Move It, Move It” came on Pandora and she was the first one to recognize it.  She got a big smile on her face and started boppin’ along to the beat.
  • She loves her daddy.  The minute he walks in the door from work she starts whining, wanting him to hold her.  When he does, she lays her head on his shoulder.  I can practically see his heart melting out of his chest.
  • She also enjoys her siblings, but Ian in particular.  He’s worked harder to interact with her and win her affections, so he deserves every smile she gives him.
  • The thing I look forward to most at the end of each day is sneaking into Bea’s room at around 10pm and giving her one last feeding.  We sit in the rocking chair and her little body keeps me warm.  We rock back and forth in the quiet.  I hope I never forget how full my heart feels in these moments.

Now, here’s the fun part, a pictorial of Beatrice’s first year.

First day

2nd month

3rd Month

4th month

Bea’s baptism and Mother’s Day

That face!

6-7 months

At the beach

Unhappy, but matching

With Mom, 9 months

I have the privilege of getting to know this little girl more with each passing day. She really is as sweet and soft as she’s portrayed here.

Having her wasn’t part of “the plan” for the last year and a half of our life, but you know what?  My plans are pretty small and stupid.

God knew.  He knew her place in our family, He knows her place in this world, and her role in His Kingdom.

Happy First Birthday, my sweet love, Beatrice.  I can’t imagine our life without you, Bebo!

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.

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.