Saturday, October 21, 2017

Reflecting: 3 Kids

This is called survival mode blogging, I had to fend of my children, baby, and husband but by golly I'm going to get this thing posted if it's the last thing I do. ;)

Josette: adorable, strong, fantastic night sleeper, good eater, lousy napper, found her toes, laughs at her brother, "talks" in high pitches squeals, loves tummy time, smiles with her entire face.

 Isaac: Beautiful, quick and quiet, still curly haired, LOVES his trains and tracks, slow and careful eater, enormous eyes, tender, he is his own authority, loves water, snuggler, fearless, stubborn, he doesn't really have a favorite food--he just eats when he is hungry and doesn't when he is not, often says: "sure!" "okay mama" "let's go mama (pulling on my clothes,) "hold you," "sorry mama," "no fanks!" "I don't fink so," "3, 2, 1, blast off!!" "uh oh! We're closed!" "Where is he?" "trains!" "look mama!" "mama! (I look at him and say "yes Isaac?") "Mama!" ("yes?") "MAMA!" (yes! Isaac!) "oh, Hi mama!" "Hello!"


James: so tender with his baby sister, increasingly self controlled, unfailingly determined, extroverted when it's time to be still and introverted when it's time to be crazy, decidedly helpful, loud (even his whisper is loud,) logical, innovative, curious, honest, completely hilarious, kind, loyal, observant, packs his own snacks, puts on his own clothes/socks/shoes and always ready for action.

Me: content, blessed, and surviving beautifully.

Austin: My reward at the end of the day, selfless, protector, provider, and leader.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Josette Marti Ann Fife: The Birth Story

The third trimester was harder than I’m used to. The baby was so low that, even with a few trips to the chiropractor, I was in pain almost constantly.  It was particularly bad if I stayed in the same place for too long or when getting up in the morning.  Then I became anemic and felt completely exhausted most of the time.  My heart raced for no reason, I’d get light headed.  I supplemented my prenatal vitamin with iron, but that made me SUPER nauseous and still tired.  So, I’d have to choose each day if I wanted to be on the couch because of anemia or on the couch because of extra iron. :( 

Then a week before her due date contractions started getting more painful and real feeling.  Almost every night I’d lay down for bed positive we would have a baby by morning.  I’m used to labor starting in the middle of the night so that is what I assumed would happen this time.  Morning after morning we woke up still pregnant.  

Poor Austin rearranged his schedule at work over and over again.  We had babysitters and back up babysitters and middle of the night back ups.   I started having YW from our ward come help me with the boys during the day because it was hard to get up.  Austin was doing double duty working and then coming home to pick up the pieces of a house left to the will of two busy little boys.  Time kept passing.  a week and a half after my due date we had to schedule a non stress test and a check of my fluid levels to make sure baby girl was okay. When they asked if I wanted to schedule another one for 3 days later or if I wanted to schedule an induction I relented and scheduled an induction for 2 weeks and 1 day after her due date.  

Why didn’t I get induce sooner you ask?  Especially since I was practically on self imposed bedrest?  Here’s the deal.  I love natural birth.  Another reason I’m deemed crazy.  ;) But it’s true.  It works for me.  Both our other boys were born in a home birth setting.  So, as much as I was completely done being pregnant and desperate to meet our daughter, thinking about being induced made me tearful and nervous.  I’d felt impressed, before we even conceived our daughter, that this time I should deliver in a hospital.  I didn’t know why (still don’t really know) but it did give me peace of mind when the last few weeks was so difficult and I worried about my girl and my own health, that we would be in a place equipped with any and every thing we might need.  Now with an induction date looming over me, I was sad supposing that if I did need to be induced I might not be able to have the peaceful, natural delivery I was looking forward to.  There was so much unknown to me about hospital birthing.  I’d chosen a fantastic team of midwives who knew how to advocate for less intervention, but I knew it would be different. 

On Monday, the 17th I realized that I’d been avoiding my Father in Heaven a little bit.  When I was scared about the induction or hospital birth I would pull out my phone to distract myself or spend time googling questions I already knew the answers too.  It was apparent by my state of fear that I was putting my faith in anything but Him.  I knew I needed to adjust.  I spent a considerable amount of time on my knees asking for forgiveness and pouring out my heart.  We talked about how badly I wanted to go into labor on my own and I told Him I understood if that wasn’t the plan, but if there was an option for me to have that desire granted I would be so thankful.  It was a tender day. Austin gave me a priesthood blessing that night that reiterated the love I’d been feeling from my Savior that day and my fears were hushed.  

Mom flew into town late that Monday night and my sister Tori, her husband, and son came that night too to stay the night on their way to Seattle, where they have moved for Nicholas’ new job.  I mustered all my will power to quash my FOMO and go to bed at a reasonable time.  

The next morning I ate a plate full of mom-made teddy bear pancakes and my contractions started to get good and heavy.  I brushed it off for a little while, but they were getting consistent and hard. Austin dropped the boys off at the DeVoe’s house.  I think the midwife was dubious when I called, assuming it was the same kind of false alarm I’d given her three other times in the past month, but she gave us the go ahead to drive to the hospital.  The contractions stayed consistent and we checked into the birthing center.  After tracking the baby’s heart rate and my vitals for 20 minutes or so the nurse was good enough to let us into a room.  I was only at 3 cm, no further than I’d been for weeks so no one was taking me seriously.  Especially since my style is pretty calm and relaxed during birth so it’s easy to mistake how painful the contractions actually are.  Once we were checked into a room the contractions became strong enough that I relied on mom and Austin to push on pressure points on my knees and lower back as each one came and went.  My midwife arrived and started a detailed explanation of the induction paperwork.  I was a little puzzled since I knew I was in active labor, but I figured if things stalled we could just induce today.   Before she had me sign it she checked me again and I was at 5 cm 80% effaced and a -1.  She laughingly whisked away the induction paperwork and declared me in active labor. 

I labored for hours with the help of mom and Austin.  I tried different positions and did my best to eat while I still wanted to.  There was more interference than I’m used to.  Obviously, since I was at a hospital, but we had a beautiful view out our window to a garden and the hours went by quickly.  Particularly from noon to 4 o’clock I was shocked to see how much time had passed.  

I was more distracted than usual.  People were coming in and out, talking a lot, checking, and poking.  I needed an IV because of a positive group B strep test, so that was annoying, even with a saline lock.  After four hours the nurses needed to give me more penicillin.  My body reacted by throwing up.  The nurses assumed that meant I was transitioning, but I knew it was just my body's response to the IV.  They pulled out all the birthing stuff and called in more people and every one stood around waiting for something to happen.  I knew it wasn't time yet and finally locked myself in the bathroom for a bit to escape the pressure.  

By evening I was starting to feel frustrated that my water hadn’t broken.  In my last two births my water broke or was broken just before transition and pushing began quickly there after.  It felt like it was time to transition but the contractions weren’t changing and I was pleading in my head for my water to just break already so we could meet this little girl!  I was tired.  It’s had been a long month filled with mild contractions and I was tired mentally and physically.  I suggested we break my water but after a quick check put me at 7cm I decided to wait a little longer.  

I was flustered and felt less in control of relaxing into my contractions.  I knew if I was going to labor longer I needed to recenter.  The hour that followed was special.  It was a dig deep moment full of focus and prayer.  I thought about my Savior in His darkest hour.  The deliverance He offers me.  Laboring and delivering a baby is the closest I will ever come to feeling the way He felt that day in the garden. I clung to that and I breathed through the next hour completely enveloped in scripture passages that came to mind. As each contraction came, I softly said “help" and Austin and my mom came to my aid over and over again.  

After an hour I felt confident that breaking my water was the right thing to do.  We probably could have done it sooner, but I’m grateful I had that sacred hour before meeting our daughter.  My midwife broke my water.  There was some meconium in the water.  It wasn’t fresh which meant it wasn’t an indication that the baby was distressed, it must have happened sometime earlier, but it was still important that she didn’t breath it in. 

As soon as my water broke I felt instant relief (an unusual sensation that happens for me every time) I had one contraction on the bed and then moved to my knees next to the bed.  I suddenly wanted to be in Austin’s arms.  I stood up and reached around his neck intending to “slow dance” through the next contraction.  However, as soon as I stood up I felt a strong urge to push.  Almost involuntarily, I lifted my feet off the floor.  Austin was caught off guard but managed to not fall over. 

In one push she crowned and the midwife hurried over in case she needed to deliver her right there, but I opted to move to the bed to finish pushing.  In one push her head was out and the next brought her into the world completely.  It was the most painful pushing experience I’ve had, but it was over so quickly I didn’t have time to care!  She was finally here, all 9 lbs 11 oz of her.  The waiting and longing was finally over and she was in my arms.  

She is the sweetest little bundle I’ve ever laid eyes on.  We named her Josette Marti Ann Fife.  Marti Ann is Austin’s mother’s first and middle names.  We had a conversation before any of our children were born about all the admirable traits Austin’s mom possesses.  She is uncomplaining, selfless, service minded, forgiving, loyal, determined, ambitious for the Lord, full of love, and a devoted mother and grandmother.  These were all traits we wanted a future daughter to emulate.  We decided that our first daughter would share her name.  Marti is a variation of the name Martha which means “lady” and Ann means “grace.” Very fitting for both my mother-in-law and our daughter.  Her first name is Josette which means “Jehovah increases” She has entered our lives during a time of strong spiritual growth.  Her name represents that increase and also the added measure of the Savior we feel in our home just by looking into her bright eyes and tiny features.  She will no doubt be a force for bringing an increase of Christ where ever she goes.  

Josette is also a french feminine variation of the name Joseph.  Joseph Smith has had an impact on us lately as we’ve come to more fully understand the impact he had on the world.  So in a small way her name also honors the first prophet of the restoration.  

Mom was behind the camera for these pictures so you don't get to see what an incredible support she was.  If I could have known how wonderful it would be to have her here at the exact time I needed her most, I wouldn't have complained a single moment while waiting, past due.  If I can be even a little bit of what my mom is for me to my children I will consider myself successful.  

James is completely smitten with his little sister. He was more gentle with her than he's ever been with anything in his life.  Isaac avoided both me and Josette for a while, but he'll come around.  It's hard not being the baby anymore.

I don’t like hospitals much, and I was less prepared than I thought I was for the differences I experienced, but I’m so grateful she came on her own and I was able to have her naturally and without complications.  What an enormous blessing.  

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Reflecting: Motherhood

Over Easter weekend I took a trip BY MYSELF to Utah to visit my family while Austin took the boys to his parents house.  It was wonderful.  I missed my little buddies almost immediately, but it was a much needed break and it helped me step back and then refocus a little.  

Without my kids around, I was able to see my personal progress more sharply.  Let me explain.  You've heard the phrase "cleaning a house with kids in it is like brushing your teeth while eating an oreo," or how about this one, taped on my mom-in-law's fridge, "cleaning house when children are growing is like shoveling while it's still snowing." 

This concept applies to more than just cleaning.  The ability to be patient, think clearly, remember, be positive, accomplish tasks start to finish, engage in meaningful study, follow through, make decisions, be creative, maintain balance and order, and let's be honest almost any area of growth you could tackle.  Being a parent is not convenient by any stretch of the imagination.  It's not supposed to be.  So, when I was kid-less for a weekend it was like going from heavy weights back to light weights and realizing just how much life progress I've made. 

"No, don't kiss my belly, that's weird!!" 

Motherhood is often invisible work, uncharted, unmeasured, not graded, and unpaid so seeing progress in the moment is a challenge.  Being with my family made it especially easy to see how far I've come since they always bring me back to my childhood.  I really am growing and changing for the better.  Really seeing and believing that was the most refreshing part of the entire trip.  

That and this adorable nephew of mine.

He is pretty great too. :)

It was good coming back to my lovely Vancouver, little red house, and family.  Things are even better now that the SUN IS FINALLY OUT! 

It was beginning to feel like we'd never be done with the damp rain of winter.  Especially since we spent a load of time looking like this:

 and this: 

They are too cute even when they are sick.  

Now that the sun is out, Isaac's nose has finally stopped dripping and James' cough has subsided. 

I can feel the time sliding away as we count the last few weeks as a family of four.  Both boys are growing so fast, but it's good to pause I soak in their littleness.  Their fresh soft skin and bright eyes that seem to radiate their own light.

 Before getting married I thought their were introverts and extroverts in this world.  Austin challenged that idea because he was the most extroverted, introvert I'd ever met.  Now introducing James Fife the most introverted, extrovert I've ever met.  We can't quite predict which it will be.

Today at Home Depot he was hollering "hello! we are getting some sandpaper!" at the top of his lungs to anyone who passed, but a week ago at a friends goodbye party he was clinging so hard you'd think he was trying to get inside my skin. I finally had to feign a bathroom break just to get some air.

On Sunday it was the sunbeams turn to be CTR super heroes.  When his teacher attempted to put a super hero mask and belt on him he lost his mind and took off down the hall crying for mom, jump to Tuesday when he had a cavity filled at the dentist without even flinching.

We are stumped.  The only correlation I can draw is he is uncomfortable if he doesn't know what is expected of him.  If the situation calls for him to perform without any preparation or practice he is not interested.

James has a loud voice.  Austin will often say, "James. volume." at which point James moves his hand as though he is turning down a nob and says, "vrrrrrrr vrrrip" and starts speaking more softly.

He has a mind all his own.  Adventurous and creative.  Leave him alone for 5 minutes with a piece of rope and he will have the whole house in knots.  He was in heaven on our first boat trip of the summer when he got to tie the boat off to the dock.  It took a while for me to undo his pirate knots when Austin backed in with the trailer!  

For his birthday we stocked him up with more play tools and he has finally started to leave our tools alone.  This is huge relief for me.

James loves in a BIG way. As he gets older his relationships with his family and friends are deepening.  When he catches a wave of love for one of us, he can't contain it and he gives the biggest, most sudden, and painful hugs possible.  We are trying to find ways to help him express those big feelings without requiring the recipient to tap out.  It's been a challenge.

He identifies with Tigger and likes to "bounce" people, and generally just seems to have a need to connect with the world physically.  If I am close to him, he finds a way to be pushing, pressing, thumping, or gagging me.  It's also common for him to suddenly throw whatever he is holding at my face.  

Now, we do have precious moments when we just sit and talk and talk, learn to read, or eat together, but I'm ever vigilant.  

I week or so ago, I was having a particularly pregnant morning and was struggling to get out of bed.  He bounded into my room and declared he had a surprise for me.  I handed him my phone on the camera setting and told him to take a picture of it so I could see.  He came back with about 50 snaps of this scene above.  The leaning tower of TP.  

He is always doing something.  Always.  I've learned that the face he is making in the picture below means he is in his happy place.  I took this picture from the warmth of the house while he was out in the rain with boots and a jacket pouring buckets of water from one place to another.  He was focused, "workin'," and completely content.  

If he asks for something and I say no, he will immediately gather all his faculties in coming up with a way to get it anyway.  If I say yes, I'm usually not quite fast enough and he will begin helping himself before I can get to him.  It's a blessing and a curse.  He is so incredibly capable.  He could move out tomorrow and have some decent survival skills under his belt, but it's messy.  oh so messy. 

He is helpful! When his baby sister arrives I can already predict what a cheerful little helper he will be.  The relationship he is building with Isaac is so touching to watch.  They wrestle and bite like the best of them, but they genuinely love and look out for each other. 

I'm pretty sure I remember something about 4-year-old's constantly asking questions?  Yeah.  I was not prepared for just how constant those questions are. He will ask questions about the questions. Questions about the babysitter he might be getting because of the clues he got from a conversation Austin and I had on the other side of the room yesterday. Plus, if I didn't know better I'd think he had hearing problems because the response to EVERYthing is "what?"

As part of his birthday celebration this year Austin took him on a camp out.  Just the two of them.  He looked forward to it for months and it didn't disappoint.  As they were ready to drive off I snapped this picture and then Isaac insisted on joining in.  

That cheesy grin didn't last long after he realized he didn't get to tag along with the big boys. Lucky for him the father-son's camp out was only a few weeks later so he got to get some camping in too. 

 The last birthday surprise was a pocket knife for James.  He only gets to use it when daddy is around, so every now and then Austin will pull it out and they whittle sticks in the backyard.  Isaac is using a plastic butter knife and couldn't be more pleased.

There was another birthday boy (man) in the month of May.  His request?  To make himself a lunch of steak, lobster, shrimp, soda and cherries.  Cherries weren't in season yet, so he had to content himself with mangos. :) 

James and Isaac made the cake on the right with the help of a dear friend of ours. 

While the rest of Austin's peers are lamenting the end of their twenties, he couldn't be more thrilled to finally own the distinguished age, 30.

Isaac, my happy little goof ball.  This buddy is Cuuuuuute.  Spunky and outgoing and a total charmer.  his curls and squishy kisses are pure heaven.  

With all that spunk comes some clumsiness.  He trips a lot. like A LOT. I'm not sure how he ever says upright with the way he is constantly reinventing the way to walk (skip, bounce, gallop.) Sometimes he will even try to walk on tippy toes, so "tippy" that they are bent over backwards!  It's no wonder his skinny little knees are always scraped and his head always bruised.  Luckily, mommy's kisses are pure magic.  No matter how bonked up he is, as soon as there is a kiss planted on it, the pain is gone and he is off on new adventures.

When we are sitting in the pew at church, he has made it a personal goal to fall and bonk at least once every "sac-a-ment" meeting.  I'm getting better at catching him so he has to really get creative in order to met the once a Sunday bonk quota.  Last Sunday he propped his feet up on the top of the bench in front of us. Then quickly reached his arms out to grab on the same place.  To his surprise, his little bottom slipped right off the seat and his folded body slipped right down to the carpet below.

He is aware of feelings.  If mommy is sad, he is intent on helping me feel better, "A kiss it momma?"

He loves giving prayers.  When it's time to choose someone to say it, he will call out, "I say it! I say it!" Whether he is chosen to say it or not he will begin "A father"  and go on and on, speaking very deliberate nonsense words until one of us reminds him to close in Jesus name "Ah-men."

"I got it!" has become a common refrain around here as he becomes more and more insistent on doing things by himself.  Even if he eventually asks for "halp" any attempts to interfere are met with an even louder, "I GOT IT!"  

I can't really emphasize enough, just how cute this boy is.  His mannerisms, his voice, his smile, all of it is just stinkin' adorable.  He is tiny and light and it's no wonder because he's not a big eater and he is always moving, but he loves his milk and applesauce with a passion.

An enjoyable joy ride with Auntie Pat in her convertible!


There is so much more to write.  Things about these boys, my feelings, my struggles, and triumphs.  This will have to suffice for now.  I'll just say, these are glorious days.  Hard days. The best and the worst.  Sweetness and pain.

Completely beautiful.