Friday, December 5, 2014

Traditional Tree Hunt 2014

Squire is finally getting around to a project he has prepared for and been contemplating since our very first Christmas together. He has saved a piece of trunk from each one of the Christmas trees we've had. He is slicing them into ornaments and wood-burning the year into each one. That Squire had and executed this idea all on his own is pretty romantic to me. I absolutely love these - and my husband. :) Here are the few he has finished. They just need a little twine to hang:

Christmas tree ornaments - from our previous Christmas trees!
I have photos of each one of our Christmas trees, as well as a photo of our family each year at Christmastime. I am planning to print them up and hang them with clothespins from twine. We will add a new Christmas tree ornament, and photo(s) each year.

(*Update 12/11/14 - Here is the garland!*) 

Oh, Hepworth family Christmas traditions. Speaking of those . . .

The Saturday before Thanksgiving, we went on a little trip up to the Arizona White Mountains to cut down our Christmas tree - Squire's favorite Christmas tradition. We cut our tree down from the White Mountains last year, too. A 3 hour drive 5 hour drive with kids, for Tuscon residents wanting to get their Christmas tree the right way! ;) So far, we have cut down our own tree 5 of the 6 years we've been married - the one year we didn't, understandably, was the December Atley was born. (Guys - I'll never hear the end of how dry that tree from the lot was!!) To save myself from hearing about another dry tree for the rest of my life and for a little fresh air in uncommon scenery to Arizona - even with Jocelyn just being a few weeks old - we made it happen!

Here are some photos documenting the parts of the day we want to remember most (NOT for example, the bathroom stops on the side of the road with a newly potty trained little girl, which may or may not have included a trail of little poops spaced out evenly and frequently enough to rival and outlast Hansel and Gretel's bread crumb trace. . . or the "sticker getters" that found their way into every nook and cranny of our socks, shoes and pants . . . or pictures/video of the kids crying in unison to "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" the whole last hour of the drive home. Nope. No photos to remember those things.) We do, however, have these: 

Interesting fowl on the side of the road - there were two of them - partridges?! ;) Only a pear tree would have made this better, and more delicious. Don't worry, we didn't eat the birds. And for the record, I have no clue what they really were.
Per Squire's request - Me pretending to have cut down with mammoth tree with my tiny handsaw while holding a baby. Ooooh yeah. Don't mess with THIS mama!
Lincoln with "the one!"

 "Yay!" Family snapshot with our tree.

Little Jocelyn - look at those little neck folds, and her pink cheeks, and her little hands! Excuse me while I go chomp on my baby girl's face for a moment. . .

K. I'm back! :) Here are the boys, hard at work, sawing down our Christmas tree.

 Atley, being her adorable little self.

Lincoln helping daddy saw. Learning how to be a man.

Sexy beast Squire proudly displaying our Christmas tree. See the tag? This was legal tree-cutting, people! (Get permits for cutting trees at your local Big 5.) 

All tied up and ready to go!

 I don't know who did this to this tree on the side of the road, but I kind of love them. Seriously. So much joy seeing that little guy right here while driving up and down the canyon.
 The sun setting on our time in the White Mountains. All in all - it was a fabulous way to start off our Christmas season. May there be many, many more years of this great tradition to come.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Quick Photo Dump and Update on Baby Jocelyn

I don't have much time to write, but I wanted to post these photos so we have them close to Jocelyn's birth story!

**WARNING: One photo of my placenta is in this post. If thinking about seeing that makes you squeamish, then don't read this!**

The day after Jocelyn was born, my friend Amanda texted me around 6:45am to let me know my kids were asking to come home - they wanted to see their new baby sibling! We were anxious for them to come home and meet her, too. Who wouldn't be excited to meet this sweet baby girl?! :)

Love her little face!

Sucking her thumb.
Squire ran over to pick up the kids and they met Jocelyn for the first time in our room. They were both so happy to see her - to find out that she was a girl - and to hold her. So far, there has been no animosity toward their new sibling at all, only tenderness and excitement. A true blessing.

The day they met Jocelyn was also exciting for Lincoln and Atley as they got to see mommy's placenta and have a little anatomy lesson with Misty. I love this picture for so many reasons - it's hilarious and awesome. It is also evidence of just how crunchy I have become. Though, let it be written - no placenta consumption happened in this house. More power to the mamas who make that happen, but that level of crunchy just isn't my cup of hot chocolate. If I end up getting post partum depression, the ladies who do eat their placentas have fully earned the right to scold me, albeit gently, please.

Learning about placentas.
It took us a three whole days after her birth, to pin down Jocelyn's name. We had another girl name picked out, but it didn't suit her, so we had to go back to the drawing board. After three days and much deliberation, we decided on "Jocelyn Lily Hepworth" and we were happy and relieved - as were my family members, who were getting quite impatient for baby girl to have a name! They wanted a name to which they could attach all their lovey feelings. Credit for Jocelyn's name goes to Aunt McKenzie. She shared one of her less favorite girl names with me, which turned out to be very favorite for me and for Squire, too. "Brooke" and "Amelia" were high in the running, but Jocelyn ultimately won out. We loved the sound of Jocelyn and that it is a diminutive form of "Joyce," my granny's name. Lily was my Granny Shank's mother's name.

I have to link to this in here - my brother made this cute little song and video once we named Jocelyn. :) 

In celebration of having given baby girl a name, we took a picture of our whole family together for the first time:
Our very first photo as a family of 5!

Love this little face!

Doesn't she have the most beautiful thick brown hair?
Awkward photo shoot with 3 day old Jocelyn.
A photo with Aunt McKenzie.
Sneaking in a little kiss. Love this sweet babe!
Lincoln's first picture with Jocelyn.
Aunt Riley with Jocelyn.
Sweet baby Jocelyn.
Baby girl seems gets very concerned looks on her face quite often. (I promise she hasn't been wearing the same dress for two weeks . . .):

Jocelyn, 2 weeks old
She weighed 8 lbs. 8 oz. at her two week appointment - nursing is going very well. So well in fact, that two days ago she decided it would make for an exciting day to nurse from 9am to 1am (No, that wasn't a typo.), with no breaks exceeding 30 minutes. Whew! That one was a doozey!

She is very alert when she is awake. Jocelyn, 2 weeks.
When Jocelyn was one week old, we did a family photo shoot with Picture People.With Squire being gone so much for interviews the next few months, we figured it was now or not until a lot much later than I wanted a nice family photo. I was very pleased with how they turned out:

I purchased the girls' dress pattern off of Etsy. Very simple and quick to make.

It was really great and all to get fancy and pretty for our photo shoot, but in all reality - THIS is a more honest depiction of how we are dressing and looking around here these days. Caring for three babies is pretty tiring. Stretchy yoga pants and "Crusty's Pest Control" T-Shirts are required for the job sometimes.

Girly goo is 3 weeks and 4 days old today. We love seeing her many faces and snuggling with her every day. She is a very cuddly little babe. She is a very easy-going baby to care for. She only really cries when she is hungry or needs a diaper change. Though she is quite an active baby, too. She loves to move her arms and legs. She lifts her head impressively well for a newborn and will even push up on her legs sometimes, too. We are loving getting to know this little one. We love the spirit she brings to our home. We are grateful for all the help we have received (from my family - and friends, too!) that has made this special time of getting to know her, so comfortable and enjoyable for us. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

On Making Breadcrumbs (or Parenting Three Kids)

My mom and two sisters left this afternoon. They left me with dinner cooking in a crock-pot. They left me with a freshly cleaned house in perfect order, and with two children in their rooms for their nap/quiet time. They left my little girl, potty-trained when she wasn't before. They left my little boy with words of love, and admonishment to be a helper, a listener. They left my baby with a kiss on her soft cheeks, each of them. And me - crying - rather pitifully, asking if they weren't absolutely sure they couldn't stay just one more day?

I made a batch of my multi-grain sandwich bread this morning, in an effort to get one last cooking project in before they were gone, and to teach my Sister, McKenzie, a thing or two about making bread before she left. I've done this recipe literally dozens of times now. And . . . my loaves turned out like this:

Flat, heavy, golden brown loaves. Great as doorstops, or bread crumbs. I'm thinking LOTS of bread crumbs. Maybe even bread pieces for stuffing next week? Trying to look on the bright side, here.

I just realized that having to make breadcrumbs out of my tried and true sandwich bread recipe, is a perfect metaphor for how I'm feeling about parenting three littlies right about now.

I've done this before. Given birth, and nursed and cared for babies through their toddler years. Now, I have another one. (A sweet, calm, easy little baby at that. *Fingers crossed she keeps it up.*)

But, I've also watched my mom, two sisters and I all run around all day to care for these children and this home of mine for the last two weeks. And now they are gone. And it's just me. . .

Plus, when I walked back in the house after my family drove off, I heard Lincoln yelling for me to wipe his poopy bum, Jocelyn crying for me to change her poopy diaper, and Atley - who was much too-quietly sitting in her bed - rubbing a whole pump bottle of shower gel all over her hair, her bedding and stuffed frog. All at the same time.

And I cried some more.

My midwife told me about a family who is about ready to welcome their fourth baby, all 4 years and under. The husband's sage advice to his wife was, "All you have to do is keep them alive, honey." I like that advice.

I have a feeling that we'll be eating lots of breadcrumbs - literally and metaphorically - for the next few months. Healthy, happy, multi-grain, heavy, golden brown bread crumbs, made with all the love and effort I can muster while short on sleep. 

And so it begins!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Jocelyn's Hypnobabies Homebirth Story (Jami's Perspective)

Baby Jocelyn, 1 day old
Reader's Digest Version:

  • Jocelyn Lily Hepworth was born at 11:46pm on Monday, November 3rd, 2014. 
  • 7lbs. 14 oz. and 21 inches long 
  • This was the most comfortable birth I've had - dare I say - pain free?!* 
  • It was a home, water birth. I caught my baby and placenta myself. 
  • We now have a sweet, calm, healthy baby GIRL!!

*Pain-free didn't mean it was a numb experience. It was still filled with lots of feelings of pressure, movement and varying levels of intensity, but it was completely manageable. I was always in control, and nothing stood out as being excessively uncomfortable or stinging. Pretty amazing! Thank you, Hypnobabies!

And now - the **TMI** version with all the details I assume you want to hear, since you clicked to read a birth story. . . ;)

Leading up to "Go" Time:

The two weeks leading up to baby's birth, I had been having lots of pressure waves (Hypnobabies lingo for contractions), some that were pretty intense. I thought I was having baby at 37 weeks 5 days, because things were getting so strong and uncomfortable while I was out grocery shopping. I even called my midwife to come to my home thinking that things were really happening. I felt slightly embarrassed when things calmed down when we were all home. I'm a veteran mom and a childbirth educator - you'd think I'd know by now when it was really "go" time! My midwife assured me that I wasn't the first. "Those third babies - I've seen them throw off childbirth educators, midwives-in-training, all kinds of mamas. One mom called us on three different occasions before her birth time started. No worries! This is what we do!" 

I was very relieved that our baby didn't come that day. My home wasn't clean and ready, I wasn't done with all my errands or cooking prep, I wasn't yet on the maintenance program for my Hypnobabies, and I wasn't ready emotionally for a new little one to arrive. I wanted things in order at home, I wanted a few more days to just enjoy my kids in a calm, clean space before we welcomed another. Plus, my mom and sisters weren't coming for another week and a half. 

That experience really pushed Squire and I to get everything prepared. We even had that week to just enjoy our other two kidlets. I wondered if my mom and sisters would make it in time for baby's birth, but I knew that at least WE were ready.

My mom was going to come on the Monday before baby's "due" date (November 6th), but she decided to push through and drive 13 hours straight to our house so she could be here Sunday, November 2nd, just in case baby decided to come that night.

Baby did not come Sunday, which was very nice as my family was exhausted. So they had one more day to recoup, and to settle in. My mom and sister, Riley, were even able to visit a good friend of Riley's who is serving a mission for our church in Mesa. They took her out to lunch Monday afternoon and had time to come back to Tucson without missing any action.

Mom (a.k.a. "Mimi") offered to take us to dinner Monday night. We excitedly took her up on her offer and chose one of our favorite Tucson restaurants - Zemam's, Ethiopian Cuisine. Amazing ethnic comfort food. Unfortunately, when we arrived at the restaurant to eat, we discovered that they were closed on Monday nights. So we decided to head to Guadalajara Grill. We missed the news that the restaurant had caught fire at the end of July and was now closed. Very sad news. Plus, we were getting hungry. Third time's a charm, right? We headed over to Macayo's - a Mexican restaurant we passed on the way to Guadalajara that looked busy.

Starting with a splash:

We pulled in the parking lot around 6:30pm. I felt a strong pressure wave begin as I stood up out of the car. Then - *gush* - SURPRISE! "Umm, my water just broke!" Seemed to me that in the darkness, my mom and Squire didn't realized how wet I was because they were saying, "Let's just go in and get some dinner real quick." "No way! I'm not going in there!" I turned around to show them how my whole rear-side was soaked with amniotic fluid. We had driven in separate cars as we didn't have room for everyone in one. So, we made a plan for Squire to take me and Atley home and to get set up there, and for my mom, sisters and Lincoln to order some take-out from Macayo's to bring back home. Mom graciously let me borrow the quilt in her car to sit on as we drove back home. :)

On the drive home, I called my midwife Misty to let her know that things were definitely happening. With my history of short birthing times she headed right over. I called my friend Amanda and made plans to drop Lincoln and Atley off at her house for the night. Squire and I said a prayer together for the baby and birth as we drove home.

We got home and started tackling last minute preparations. Squire finished filling up the birth tub with air and was tidying up and getting other things in order. 

I snapped one last photo of my pregnant belly and a pic with Atley (before the camera died and I had to plug it into the charger!) I tested my wet pants with pH paper to confirm it was actually amniotic fluid and not the contents of a weak bladder. Blue! It was. :) Then I threw a load of towels in the washing machine we would need for the birth, and changed into more comfortable clothing.
39 weeks, 4 days - Time to meet baby!
Selfie with Atley before she became a big sister. Sorry I couldn't get another picture with your eyes more open, girly goo. The camera died.
I knew baby was still posterior, so I alternated between hands and knees positions on the rug and leaning over my birth ball for most of the pressure waves while rocking my hips from side to side which felt great. Turn baby, turn! 

Misty arrived at our house before my family did. She took my blood pressure, listened to baby and got settled in. Misty commented that I looked gorgeous as only moms in their birthing time can look. I was feeling great - this was the night to meet my baby! My family arrived back home around 7:30pm. In between birth waves, I gratefully and ravenously ate the massive chicken, cheese and veggie stuffed quesadilla while leaning over my birth ball.

Family Home Evening:

Once the kids were fed, dressed for bed, and their teeth were brushed I insisted we do a little FHE (Family Home Evening). I had the idea for the lesson come to me earlier in the day and I wasn't going to let a few waves get in the way of a great teaching opportunity for my kids. We sang "I Lived in Heaven" and I read Jeremiah 1:4-5

"Then the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations."

I taught them that just like Jeremiah, Heavenly Father knew and loved all of us in heaven before we came to Earth. And the little baby who was growing my belly was coming from heaven. I taught that baby and every one of us is given something special to do while on Earth, we just have to find out what that is! We had a short object lesson with a glove to illustrate the relationship of their spirit to their body. "We need our bodies to do the special things Heavenly Father has for us to do. This new baby, just like each one of us, is growing in Mommy's womb or uterus and getting a body so he or she could do what Heavenly Father wanted him or her to do! And this little baby, who had just been with Heavenly Father, is going to be here with us by morning time! This is a special time, and this is a special baby. Heavenly Father loves the baby and each one of us. Our bodies are special and help us become more like Heavenly Father." 

We finished with a prayer, and my mom brought Lincoln and Atley to Amanda's.

Getting down to business:

Up until this time I had been using my Hypnobabies Fingerdrop to go to instant deep self-hypnosis through the pressure waves, and had been using my "Peace" cue to direct my mental anesthesia where I needed it. All along, my sisters McKenzie and Riley, mom, Misty, Squire and I were talking and laughing in between pressure waves.

Riley being a silly Minnie Mouse in her awesome jammies.
Me making a face at something Kenzie was saying.
I drank my Sprouts Coconut water to stay hydrated. A more natural alternative to Gatorade. Good times.

About 9:30pm, my pressure waves were increasing in intensity and closeness. I wanted to know how dilated and effaced I was. A perfect opportunity for Squire to practice the skills he had learned from his OB/GYN rotation. He checked me and then Misty did and she gave him some helpful tips on how to get more accurate assessments. They concluded I was 6cm dilated (the new "active labor") and about 90% effaced. 

Things were picking up so I set up my Hypnobabies birth guide CD and started to play the "Easy First Stage" track so I could focus a bit better. I leaned on my kids' Learning Tower while sitting on my birth ball as Squire, Mom and Misty started to fill the birth tub.

Are you noticing our birth pool fail? I'll explain more later.
Connecting the hose to the sink.
Speeding up the process a bit with buckets.
Me using my "Peace" cue to direct anesthesia to my belly as my midwife listens to baby through a complete pressure wave.
Water for birth - a fantastic thing:

I loved getting into the birth tub full of warm water. It gave me a renewed focus on my Hypnosis so I could relax even more through the pressure waves that were coming almost constantly at that point. 

Misty taking my temperature right before I got into the birth tub.
Listening to my hypnosis birth guide tracks in the tub. Using the "Release" cue to shut off completely through a pressure wave.
Snuggling in the water through the pressure waves.
Waiting, waiting and more waiting - and relaxing with Kerry Tuschoff's help.
Us laughing at the birth fail - the liner . . .
Yeah, so while we're talking about the magic of birth tubs, I have to mention that somehow the liner was put in, folded in half and we didn't make the realization until about the last 30 minutes of the birth time. But we had used duct tape to help secure it. It didn't really work. Kind of hilarious. When Kenzie pointed out the open corner to me I immediately said, "Birth fail!" We are all still kind of laughing about that one.

See the seam that we missed?! Completely open, the (ineffective) duct tape would have been completely unnecessary. Oh well. You live and you learn.
I think it was about 10:30pm when I got in the water. I made several trips out of the tub to use the restroom, my mom assisting me in and out each time. The second to last restroom break my body was starting to get a little shaky. I knew that these powerful waves were bringing my baby and soon. When I started to bear down a bit the last time on the toilet, my mom said, "You need to get back in the water or you're going to have this baby in the toilet." I agreed wholeheartedly, in my mind. I was very focused on what was going on within my body at this time and wasn't very interactive at that point. I just needed to focus on what was going on inside.

Misty and Sharon, looking over notes together during the birth. Love these ladies!!

Pushing or "Ahhhhing" Baby out: 

I got back in the tub. Squire wasn't in the water with me at this point. He got out to take a break. I was on my hands and knees in the water, breathing heavily with heaving sighs at this point. My open mouth helped to open me up even more. Then I felt big shifts and some involuntary pushes slide baby down my birth canal. I remembered what Misty and her partner, Sharon, taught me about holding my own perineum to help ease baby out. "It will give you more control and help you know better how to push in the most comfortable way." I wondered briefly what everyone was doing around me but I didn't want to focus on that - I needed to keep my attention on my baby. I felt a couple more buckets of warm water being poured in to the tub. I assumed that everyone was watching and knew just how imminent this baby's arrival really was. 

I reached down and felt baby's head crown. I felt a twinge of worry and nervousness hit me at this point. I felt the tight ring of the edge of my cervix around baby's head. I didn't want to tear, and I wanted to push baby out in comfort but I didn't see how that could happen with how tight things felt. I had a moment of panic and wondered whether I ought to just push really hard and get it over with? In answer to my worry I heard in my mind, "Just wait." And with that, I felt a couple of waves come but I fought the urge to push with them and waited as I had been instructed. When the waves passed, in the calm moment, I told myself, "Open, open, open" and with a little nudge of pushing effort my baby slid out - head, shoulders and body - in one smooth glide. I pulled baby up to my chest and laughed a cried with joy. Little did I know - with how calm I was - no one realized what was happening until I was pulling baby out of the water to my chest! Baby felt much skinnier and lighter to me than my other babies, but baby's cry was as strong as any of theirs.

Anatomy Lesson and Placenta Pulling:

As I have mentioned on this blog before, we didn't know baby's gender but we very much expected baby to be a boy. After baby was on my chest for a minute, I heard Squire(?) ask me to check baby's gender. I looked down and saw what looked like a little uncircumcised penis. "It's a boy!" Squire stood behind me in the birth tub and we looked at our new sweet baby and listened to "his" cry. "He even looks like a boy," Squire said. With the way baby's nose was flattened, "he" sure did! We noted the thick head of brown baby hair. I was thinking how one of our baby boy names would fit better with this dark-haired baby over the other. After trying to get baby to latch unsuccessfully in the water to help with the placenta detachment we had a few things to do. Misty clamped the cord which had stopped pulsing, and Squire cut the cord. I gave baby to Squire and focused on pushing out the placenta which wasn't coming on its own. Misty explained to me how she wrapped the cord around her fingers to give a light pull but the tug she gave was a little uncomfortable. "I'll do it," I said. Misty directed me to hold my lower abdomen to protect my uterus from flipping inside out. I did that and I wrapped the umbilical cord around my fingers a few times and gave a light pull. Within seconds I felt my pushing urge come back and my placenta slid out with ease, perfectly intact. Pretty neat!


Misty and Sharon helped me onto our futon which had towels and chux pads to protect it. They were doing some checks on me when Squire, holding the baby, looked over at me and said, "This baby isn't a boy - it's a girl!" "Really? Are you joking?!" "Really! She's a girl!" Apparently, my deep expectation that this baby was going to be a boy helped me lazily pass off baby's belly button - which was pulled out by the cord in a little tube an inch or two long - as a penis. I did notice the skin color of the belly button and the blue cord beneath, now that I think about it, but the power of expectation helped me dismiss what was weird and just see a baby boy. Will I ever live that one down? Probably not! Haha! Squire passed me our baby GIRL who I inspected with fresh eyes. We all laughed as I helped baby to get a great latch. Squire gave me a brownie to eat and said even though I got the gender wrong, my good work for this birth deserved some brownie points.
The tricky belly button . . . ;)

Delicious fudgey brownies made by Kenzie - gluten-free, for Sharon and Riley. Still enjoyed by all.
After the Birth Care:

Misty had prepared a great little herb bath for me that I soaked in while I nursed baby girl some more. When I was ready, I got out, got dressed in my nursing gown jammies. Misty and Sharon checked me for any tears, swelling or excess bleeding - there were NONE. Truly amazing news after having experienced an Episiotomy with the first birth and quite a bit of tearing with the second. I then got into my own bed where we weighed and measured baby girl. We all took our guesses. Squire and I tied in the guessing competition. I guessed 7lb. 11oz. and he guessed, "7lb. 17oz." ;). She was 7lb. 14oz. She got a little shot of Vitamin K for which she let out one strong cry but quickly settled with a comforting boob. Sharon packed up, thanked me for the "cushy" birth, congratulated us, and headed home.  

Riley holding baby girl for the first time.
Mimi holding baby girl while she watches something or other.
Squire helping Misty weigh Jocelyn.
A prayer of Thanksgiving:

We all sat on my bed - Squire, my mom, sisters and our new baby girl. Misty asked us if we would like a prayer of Thanksgiving. We would! She offered up the most beautiful prayer to the Lord in behalf of our family and especially our new baby girl. She prayed for our girl and dedicated her to the Lord. Very few eyes were left dry at the close of that powerful heartfelt prayer. We hugged, said our goodbyes and Misty made her way home around 3:30am. We snapped a few photos and went to sleep around 4am. 

We love you baby girl!!
It was an incredible night. Filled with sass and laughter, as well as quiet, still moments. There were surprises on surprises, as well as spiritual guidance and blessings. An abundant, heavenly experience - a gift from God - was what baby girl's birth was for me. If this birth serves as guide for what this girl's life will be like, it will be truly incredible. Welcome to the world, baby Jocelyn! We love you!! 


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