big blue box of love (a thanksgiving post, before christmas takes over my blog)

i know that most people are done with thanksgiving, and already shopping, or (maybe even done shopping) for christmas. the lights are hung, the trees are up, the halls are all decked up, santa is at every mall, the cards are being sent. christmas season is fun and legnthy, whereas the thanksgiving season is a little short-lived and sweet. other than a big meal, thanksgiving just doesn't have as many festivities surrounding it, and there is hardly any mystery to it - we make a turkey, we eat it with family and friends, we talk about how thankful we are and then the christmas season starts. and christmas season just always seems like it is full of surprise and hope.

and this is not bad. i think this is how it should be - lets all get together, eat a big meal, and remind ourselves of what we have to be thankful for, before the christmas season makes us feel poor! i was thinking about thanksgivings and christmases from when i was a child, and growing up, my family was what some would consider "poor". i never thought of us as "poor" though. i knew we weren't rich, but never thought we were "poor". i suppose most kids who grow up in "poor families" don't always think they are "poor" though, you just know your family isn't "rich". poor families don't have television or a computer, and they can't afford shoes and dress in rags, they are dirty, skinny, and sick... or at least this is what i thought when i was a kid. i did not realize i was living in a poor family until i was a teenager and we received a "box of love" from our church. it was a big blue box, that kind of looked like a moving box, and was full of canned goods, some juice, gravy, stuffing, and everything that you would think of that would be needed for thanksgiving dinner. the "box of love" came along with a frozen turkey, and this was meant to be thanksgiving dinner for a family of six. the boxes were donated by church families and given away to "poor" families in the surrounding neighborhood as well as to "poor families" within the church. my family was a family of ten (eight of us kids, and two parents), the box easily could feed all of us as almost half of the kids were under the age of five.

that blue box was the first realization that my family was a "poor family", that we were seen by others as not being able to afford to feed ourselves. the boxes were given away "secretly" to church families, so as to not embarrass them, or allow others to know they were picking up one of the boxes that another more "privileged" family had put together and donated. the church did not want any "poor family" to feel any sort of way about accepting one of these boxes. well, my family did not feel any sort of way about accepting one of these boxes. no, i can remember my family being first in line right after the service to pick up our box and haul it out to the family van. as a teenager there is nothing quite as embarrassing. everyone saw your huge family grabbing a big blue box of poorness and dragging it to the van, and knew for certain that you were poor. as if your gaggle of siblings in hand-me-down clothing, old shoes, and rusted van hadn't clued them in already. now, everyone was sure you were poor, and you knew that they were looking at you, and pitying you, and probably praying for you. as a teenager growing up in the church, you don't want people praying for you.

funny thing is - my family donated a blue box of love. every year. we would come drop it off during the week, only to retrieve one the following sunday. i can remember shopping for the items on the list for the box with my mother. it was fun to shop for the items on the list and pack them away in the empty box you had picked up a church the sunday before. it made you feel like you were helping out. which only left me feeling completely confused as my family became a recipient of the box less than a week later. 

in many ways there were little hints prior to the big blue box that i should have picked up on. i had a job from the time i was fourteen and as soon as i started making some money i bought my own shoes and clothes. we always had hand-me-down appliances from relatives who had remodeled or someone who was getting rid of theirs. there was at least one year that our oven decided to break on thanksgiving day. we accepted hand-me-down clothing, and shoes, and toys. we always had old clunker cars or vans (growing up as one of eight means many vans). but, i never though i or my family was poor. i thought the old grand-pa sweaters i bought from the thrift were amazing, and that my family was smart and frugal for using others old appliances. i was thankful.

now i am an adult, and i am not what my teenaged self would have considered "poor". in fact i am probably what my teenaged self would have thought was "rich". i have more student loan debt than i would ever like to admit, i have a mortgage, and can't really justify spending the money on that dumb madewell dress that i have had my eye on forever, but i also have a nice home, good car, food on the table, and a very good job.  most importantly i have a healthy family and friends to love, which is not so different from when i was growing up "poor". i am thankful.

"rich" or "poor" - i hope you are thankful too.


yes friends, turkey has been eaten, christmas lights are being hung, and the carols are playing - it is time for a black friday through cyber monday sale! starting today through midnight on monday use coupon code "merry at either of my shops (here or here) to get 25% off your entire order! happy holidays! i hope you had a great thanksgiving and your holiday season is full of goodness!

happy thanksgiving!

happy thanksgiving! do you have any special plans? any holiday traditions? traveling? staying in? i hope wherever you are that you have a great holiday.

this morning we got up early and ran out the door to get to the philadelphia thanksgiving day parade. although i have lived in philadelphia for the majority of my life, it was my first year going to the parade, and i loved it - so did chloe! i baked some scones last night, brought them along for breakfast, two of my brothers joined us, and we sipped hot chocolate as we took in the marching bands, floats, and balloons. we will need to do this again! but, right now my chloe is napping, christmas music is playing, my house is messy, i am shaking out scone crumbs from clothing, shoes, my hair (thanks chloe!), and the stroller. i have a little beet salad set out that i picked up from the store (along with some pre-roasted turkey breast!) and some diet coke, christian should be home in just a few hours, and still nothing is made.

and i am very happy, and content, and thankful. 

this is the first year i can remember just spending the holiday at home with my immediate family and it seems very intimate and special. i do love big family dinner's, entertaining, and visiting, but every now and then i think that having a very small, very quiet, and very low-key holiday is kinda special. 

i am thankful for my husband, family, home, friends, job, the sparkle in chloe's eyes as her mind was blown when seeing mickey and minnie in the parade this morning , and beet salad gosh darnit!

i have been spending some time this week thinking about thanksgivings past, and have some stories to share - i plan on sharing some on the blog tomorrow, as well as some more photos from this thanksgiving. i have a little christmas ornament tutorial coming along that i will be posting soon, and  oh yeah, i am also planning to add a bunch of new things to my shop, rockwell handmade, as well as a giveaway and black friday through cyber monday sale!!! 

once again, happy thanksgiving friends! i wish you all the very best, and i am thankful for all of you!

a week of photos

here are some photos of our week through the lens of my camera and iphone:

all photos were taken with my camera, and phone (a few stolen from christian too). do you instagram? my username is missleahruth. have a lovely week.


recently one of my coworkers brought in her amazing homemade butter-cake. for those of you not familiar with butter-cake, it is rich, gooey, and one of those deserts you just don't ever think you could local bakery sells it, and it is truly one of those cakes that you treasure, bring with you when you want to really impress someone, and is always sold out on holidays. it consists of a soft but dense cake layer covered by a thick layer of sweet, buttery, and gooey topping (and sometimes fruity pie filling is added between the layers). it isn't very pretty or really complex looking, per say, but there is just something about it that is intimidating (maybe how delicious it is!) i overheard my coworker explaining to someone how to make it, and i was surprised at how easy it actually is to make, and out of ingredients that are pretty standard in many kitchens.

so yesterday i decided to try my hand at making a butter-cake. i decided to play around with the recipe and substitute gluten free cake mix, as i had been meaning to try it out anyway. it did not disappoint. this cake was quick and easy to make, and furthermore it was darn delicious. i made a pot of coffee and invited over my sister-in-law who has been gluten free for just about, or maybe a little over a year, and we both loved it.

here is the recipe. i recommend making it with cute little one on your counter, and that you feed them an apple during the process so that you don't feel bad about giving them butter-cake for lunch.


What you need:

1 boxed yellow cake mix (any kind will do - i used betty crocker's gluten free, and it was great)

 4 eggs

2 tsp. vanilla

1/2 cup butter (softened, but not melted)

1 - 8oz. package of cream cheese

4 cups confectioners' sugar

preheat your oven to 350 F. mix together the boxed cake mix, two of the eggs, the butter, and 1 tsp. of the vanilla. the mixture will be doughy, and you should be able to press it into a greased pan. i used a nine by thirteen inch pan, and i could have used a larger one even, as the cake turned out a little thick. try to make the middle of the cake base shallow, and the edges a little higher as this cake will be holding the topping.

once this is done, then mix together the cream cheese, the remaining vanilla, two remaining eggs and the confectioners' sugar. pour this mixture on top of your cake base.

it doesn't look very pretty, but trust me, it will be amazing. it is a-okay if the topping is touching the dish and it looks a little sloppy, that isn't going to affect anything. put the cake in the oven and bake for about thirty to forty minutes. you want the whole cake to look set, and for the base layer to have baked up and look cakey, but you don't want the cake to be browned. it should look gooey in the center.

then make a pot of coffee, or some tea, call over some friends and enjoy! this is a rich and guilty pleasure that is best shared with others, so you don't eat it all yourself!

the post where i talk about breastfeeding.

this post, like chloe's birth story, is long overdue. it has been months since chloe weaned, however, i think that the 15 months that i spent breastfeeding her might just be blog post worthy, and perhaps interesting enough to read about, no? (well, if you don't want to read about it you don't have to). while breastfeeding i would often receive many questions, some funny comments, and only encountered a few "issues". the experiences of others found on blogs or in online forums were often helpful to me. this post is not meant to give advice, but just to share what worked well for me and chloe, as well as some very g rated boring photos of me nursing chloe.

so, i started breastfeeding chloe as soon as she was born. i can remember immediately after she was born my midwife and the nurse leaving our delivery room and being alone with my new little family for the first time. chloe was awake, and i knew she would be heading to the nursery soon to have her first shots and what not, so i decided i would give it a go. to my surprise she latched on right away. christian looked at me, was quiet for a second, and then asked "are you sure you are allowed to?" and i looked at him and smiled and said "yeah, i think so...". it sounds funny, but nobody ever told me to try feeding her or gave us any instructions. in fact while we were at the hospital there was little advice given by the nurses, other than encouragement to feed her often. the second day i was there a lactation consultant came by and gave me some pointers that were pretty helpful. i am not sure what to attribute the lack of support for breastfeeding among nurses to, but i found it funny that there was no real advice or support offered during my hospital stay. especially since as a nurse i feel very strongly about offering support and encouragement to other moms, especially when it comes to breastfeeding.

now, my family was very helpful and supportive. both my mother and mother-in-law had breastfed multiple children (sometimes multiple children at the same time!), and both of my sister-in-laws had breastfed as well. it helps to have the support of family and friends who have breastfed. it is amazing how easy it can be to question yourself when you are a new mom. you think that you have it together and know what you are doing, but when something doesn't turn out quite right, you automatically think you are doing something wrong, or that what you are trying to do just isn't going to work for you or your baby, and that you need to change what you are doing. sometimes it just takes some time, patience, and someone to tell you that you are doing a good job.

chloe was a good feeder. she grew well, and at her first pediatrician visit she was gaining weight just fine. now, the pediatricians themselves were extremely supportive and encouraging of breastfeeding. and believe me, there is something very reassuring about the pediatrician cooing "you are doing a great job. she looks so healthy". on bad days i would wish that i could have pulled those pediatricians out of my pocket.

chloe not only ate well, but she ate wherever we went. i breastfed in my car, in restaurants, at the park, anywhere and anytime she needed to eat. so convenient. it took a little while to get comfortable feeding her in public, but eventually it became second nature, her and i became pros. i learned to dress for feeding, which unfortunately for me meant no dresses (very hard to manage feeding a baby without completely undressing). feeding in public was more comfortable and easily managed by wearing a tank top, that could pull down or up, under another shirt (such as a tee or a button-up). i also always carried a light-weight muslin blanket that i could drape over my shoulder if need be. i found these light blankets didn't irritate chloe very much and could offer me a little more privacy if i felt i needed it, but once chloe and i got good at feeding we hardly needed the blanket. at first i felt kind of self-conscious about feeding in public, but eventually it was no big deal, just like it should be. if anyone else ever felt uncomfortable, i never noticed, and nobody ever said, as far a nursing bras go, i recommend bravado ones - they are super comfortable and easy to fasten and unfasten in a haste! eventually i found i could wear my regular bras again once chloe was eating more table foods and my breasts started to return to their old size. this was slightly less comfortable than the nursing bras, but offered a bit more support to my changing boobs.

now, once i went back to work i pumped. i used a medela pump in style advanced and felt it was a great pump. it came in a black somewhat inconspicuous bag and had a nice little cooler to keep your milk cold without needing a refrigerator. where i work we have a staff refrigerator and sometimes i would just put the milk into the cooler with the ice pack and throw it in the fridge. if you don't spend a whole twelve hours at work, you might not need to do this. now as far as where i breastfed, i used an empty office that i could get keys to, and that worked just fine. some places have "mother's lounges" for nursing mothers, and i think that is great. once i needed to pump in a bathroom, and that was incredibly awkward, and just felt icky.

i found that quiet and cozy places to pump were key to successful milking. i started pumping a couple weeks before i started working to build up a supply. at first i could only get a couple ounces and i thought i was doomed for pumping failure, but eventually it picked up. when i was away at work i also wasn't breastfeeding my baby as i did at home and so there was more milk available at these times. i found that my supply and her feedings evened out pretty much - meaning that if i had pumped eight ounces at work, she usually had consumed eight ounces while at home. one little tip - my pump came with a "let down" button, which was very helpful. a pump isn't the same as a baby, but it is supposed to mimic the baby nursing, so sometimes if i found that i wasn't getting as much milk i could hit the "let down" button and get a couple more ounces. i found it also helped to have photos of chloe around when i was pumping, because just looking at my baby triggered a let down.

now, other than a pump, a quiet and private place, a cute baby, and some supportive friends and family members, the only other thing i can recommend is a sense of humor. because, some people are going to make jokes about you expelling milk from your breasts. i think they do this because, well, it is funny. boobs are kind of funny, and milk coming out of them? come on, you know it is funny. but you know what else is funny? that men pee standing up. that cracks me up (maybe i just have the sense of humor of a twelve year old kid). laugh along with the jokes, don't be embarrassed by anyone, and be proud that you are feeding your baby. it is incredible that the body is able to provide all the essential nutrients for a growing human being - nothing to be ashamed of.

now about weaning. i was all for breastfeeding chloe until she was showing signs of being ready to wean. i didn't know exactly what this meant when i would say it, but when she would refuse to feed for one whole day, only to want to nurse the following, and when it got to be insanely difficult to make her nurse just so that i wouldn't be in horrible pain, that is when i felt it was time. this happened at about fifteen months. my breasts were sore for a few days, but eventually all that subsided, and chloe really didn't seem to mind. honestly, i think i was more upset about it than she was. this meant she was growing up, and just didn't need me in the same way, but it also meant we both were sleeping better at night, and that she was learning to get nourishment from table food (even though part of me did miss the late night feedings). very bittersweet. the only time i think she missed it was about two weeks after weaning. she was crying about something (like a baby, ha!), and i picked her up to comfort her and while i was sitting with her she pulled down my top, took a look at my boob and went to latch. my heart broke and burst at once, as i just didn't know what to say or do. i pulled my top up and said, "sorry my baby" and hugged her. i thought she had forgot all about it, but she hadn't, and in that moment she remembered what comfort it was to be fed by her mother. once again, bittersweet.

hope this was helpfulish. but if not, here is a link to information from the American Academy of Pediatrics, which i think is very helpfulish!

*all photos are from my instragram feed (and you can follow me if you like, my username is missleahruth).

**while this post is about breastfeeding, i have nothing bad  to say about moms out there who chose not to - they are good mommas too and deserve just as much support as us breastfeeding moms.


the weekend is almost upon us, and it is cold. it seems that our fall season has decided to only make a short appearance this year and winter has set in. part of christian and i not working 9-5's are that we don't need to rush every morning and there is always time for warm breakfast. most of the time this means hot cereal, steel cut oats and bananas get a lot of play around here, but some mornings call for something special.

so, pancakes. we are no longer a boxed mix pancake family. we used to be, until i ran out of pancake mix one morning and in a pinch attempted them from scratch. my first ones were pretty good - i looked in my copy of "joy of cooking" and just made the standard buttermilk pancake. they were good enough that my husband requested them again. however,  i came across a recipe for sour cream pancakes on pinterest one day and my interest was peaked. i made them up the following morning, tweaked the recipe a tiny bit to my liking, and then committed it to memory. they are magic if i do say so myself. tangy, sweet, super fluffy - they are my family's new favorite, and perfect for cold winter mornings. they would make a great addition to a big breakfast, with eggs, bacon, hash-browns, and what not, but they also stand alone just fine.

here is my recipe for sour cream pancakes, adapted from "the pioneer woman's" recipie:

1/2 cup flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
2 eggs
1 cup low-fat or no-fat sour cream (greek yogurt could be used as a substitute if that's your thing)
1 teaspoon vanilla
butter (trust me, don't use cooking spray).
syrup of your choice

mix your dry ingredients together in a small bowl with a fork, add eggs, sour cream or greek yogurt, and vanilla and mix until eggs are incorporated but batter is still lumpy. sit the batter aside for five minutes and make some coffee or bacon. then heat a pan or skillet to medium-low heat. grease the pan or skillet with butter. don't be tempted to use cooking spray - the butter adds a crispness to the pancakes and flavors them, cooking spray just doesn't give the same results. using a small ladle spoon a small amount of pancake onto the skillet. i have a small skillet and get four pancakes onto mine with no problem. 

now wait until they just start to get bubbly. this is where these pancakes become high-maintenance and will easily become all temperamental, burning easily if you are not tending to them. stand there with a pancake turner and wait, they don't take long to cook. once they are bubbly and look like the edges are starting to become dry, carefully turn them. you know they are ready when they will allow you to pull them away from the pan or skillet with the turner - if they aren't ready they just won't go. turn them and let them cook for a couple more minutes. for some reason they cook really quick once they are flipped. you can butter them if you wish, or just pour a little syrup on them (they really don't need much syrup, my photo shows them drowning in it - not necessary!). eat them immediately.

have a great weekend!

why i am now selling

rockwell handmade, my new little online shop opened up this morning.  i am excited. i am scared. i am satisfied with it, and at the same time i am already thinking of more products, discovering more ways to sell, thinking about what the next step is. i have been sewing and crafting since i can remember, but i never really considered selling the things that i create until recently. why?

one reason is because i really do value the things that i make. the time i spend making things is time that i spend not sleeping (if anyone out there has a young child, or children, then you know how precious sleeping time is). the time i spend making things is also time i get to stay at home, and not go to my "real job" - so that is pretty nice. given the choice i would much rather stay home and craft or sew all night than go to my "real job". but the time that i put into the things that i make is time that i could be spending sleeping, cleaning my home, picking up time at the "real job", etc. how could i put a price on that time? for a long time i didn't believe i could, so i would only give away the things that i make. i love giving hand-made things. i love when others value the time and thought that i have put into something i have made . for me there are few things sweeter in life.

that is my next reason: i put a lot of thought into the things that i make. i pick out materials that i love, and that i think others will love. often the things that i make are due to not being able to find something that i am looking for, or not being able to find something of the quality that i want. i get ideas into my head about how i want something to look, to feel. i think about how this object is going to make the recipient feel. i spend time looking at things around me, and use that inspiration to create something that i believe is going to make someone else happy. the creating and thinking process is invigorating to me, and usually spurs on more ideas and dreams. but how do you put a price on your ideas or the thought you put into something? not easy to do. much easier to give these things that you have created so specifically for the recipient, hoping that they are going to love it. when you can see that they love what you have created for them, you as the creator feel loved.

but what about when you are making something without knowing the recipient? what happens when you are producing multiple items without knowing if they are going to be loved? what if your time is not valued? what happens if others don't think what you have made is worth it?


growing up my mother sewed and crafted. i loved watching her and there is no doubt that she has influenced my love for handmade goods - buying them, making them, giving them. she might have had one craft show ever, and she never really sold her things. however, she gifted her items, and they were cherished. my favorite rag doll, my brother's stuffed humpty-dumpty that matched his easter outfit (oh yeah, she also made our easter outfits growing up), quilts, reindeer dolls with tiny little denim coats - items that were special, unique, and in many ways "priceless".

the other night while sitting at the dining room table, which has been taken over by my sewing machine, chloe came over and wanted to sit with me. i held her on my lap as i finished sewing a batch of ties. she watched patiently and quietly, not even trying to touch the material. she was mesmerized. i want my daughter, and my future children, to grow up with a love for creating. i want them to value the things that they create and strive to make those things the best they possibly can. i want them to value quality.

therefore, i must value quality things, and strive to make things the best i can. and i must be willing to allow others to value the things i create, therefore i am selling them.

and i hope the things i make and sell are loved.

below are some of the things i have created in the past:




1 : my "jude doll" that i made for my nephew last christmas. 2 : knit striped long mittens lined with the softest vintage mint floral flannel. 3 : a knit heart i made for christian for our first valentines day.

much love to all of you this week!

rockwell handmade!

shop is up!

enter rockwell handmade

i am very excited.

chloe's birth story

a while back i wrote about the thought of writing about chloe's birth here. well, believe it or not, i did write about it, but was waiting until the right time to publish it. well, tonight while standing in the shower i was thinking about the latest episode of "the walking dead". a zombie sci-fi series reminded me of that day when i brought chloe into the world. i began to remember little bits of the story, and i decided i would make some quick edits and finally publish and share this story.

well i logged on in and the story had disappeared! oh how i wish i was better at crying over such things like blog posts, because i really feel like this deserves it. it seems that i can only really ever have one good cry per day, and i wasted today's tears on "the walking dead"!

well, instead of editing the story, here i am writing it out again. i am sharing it because i love reading other people's birth stories, love listening to others talk about the birth of their children, and love telling this story.... and i think other people enjoy reading, hearing, and telling these stories too. i used to bar-tend and was amazed at how easy it was to get a group of middle-aged men to talk about the births of their children just by asking a couple questions about how their pregnant wife, or new child was doing. you would be amazed by how willing and excited they would be to share.

well, with the same fervor, or maybe even more, here is chloe's birth story:

i was thankful to have a very healthy pregnancy. i was sick for the first trimester, happy and full of energy in the second, and it seems like as soon as the third hit, well, i was over it. i worked up until the week  that i was due, with only a couple little signs of labor, and one false alarm. i made the obligatory false alarm visit to the hospital and got sent home.. and then a couple days later it was just about time.

the day before her due date i woke up with some contractions. i had been having contractions for weeks. contractions that would come and go, with no real pattern or consistency. contractions that would play with my emotions and make me crazy. contractions that would make me get up and walk for miles and miles. contractions that kept me up all night long. contractions that would get to eight minutes apart and go on for hours and then just stop.  these contractions had a firmer tone. they weren't really painful, but they were just more steady. they meant business.... so i scrubbed the floor. and did the laundry. and painted my nails, and took a walk. i did anything i could think of to just keep myself occupied. i needed to. i couldn't really relax. i tried to nap, and wound up stretching instead. i wasn't in pain, but i just couldn't sit still.  i thought about how animals get ready to give birth, how pet dogs and cats, they just can't seem to relax or stay still... and that was me.

the hours went by, and the day did too. at around eleven that night i told chris to try to get some rest, and i laid down with my laptop and started watching another episode of "lost". contractions just kept on coming, and then a really firm contraction said "POP". i heard a "POP" and just like that my water broke. i looked at the clock and it was eleven thirty. i woke up chris and told him this was it. our baby would be born on their due date. 

i waddled to the bathroom while telling him to call my midwife. he passed the phone into the bathroom, "she wants to talk to you". 

"how are you feeling"


"how far apart are your contractions"

"about five to six minutes for the past hour or so"

"are you uncomfortable? ready to go to the hospital"

".... yes" 

i was surprised at my last answer, but as soon as i said it i realized that i was more uncomfortable, in fact i was frozen and leaning over the sink to brace myself through a much more serious contraction. she told me she would meet me at the hospital and let them know i was coming in.

my contractions continued the whole time we drove to the hospital. chris looked worried and serious and i begged him to slow down the car, even though i knew he was hardly even going the speed limit. when we arrived at the hospital he offered to get me a wheelchair, which i declined laughing, "i am in labor, not injured". then stepped out of the car and "SPLOSH". then i laughed, because it was kind of funny... and well, hello more amniotic fluid. i grabbed a towel and took him up on the wheelchair. 

within the next twenty minutes i was registered, taken to a room, changed and in a bed with a tocometer measuring my contractions and a fetal heart monitor beeping away... until it slowed down, during the beginning of a contraction.

my heart sank, or stopped, or curled into a fetal position itself. i took some good breaths and turned onto my left side. i could see the look in the nurses eyes as they stopped taking a history on me and started putting an i.v. line in. i am a nurse - not an obstetrics nurse, but an emergency room one. i have taken care of women who give birth in emergency situations, and i remembered from nursing school that these "early decels" were not good. they meant the baby was not getting enough oxygen.

i let the nurses take care of me. i didn't ask questions. i could see the monitor. i knew what was happening. and as i continued to watch the "early decels" went away with my change in position. the nurse explained that she was going to call my midwife and keep a close eye on me. i thanked her. when the nurses left the room i explained it all to christian, who looked worried and scared, and didn't know what to say. he sat by my side. i wasn't scared. believe me, i would tell you if i was, and there would come a time where i was, but it wasn't at this point. i was okay on my left side with my contractions marching along through my body.

after about an hour my body started to cramp up with every contraction. the baby's heart rate was beautiful, but my back, my legs, my arms, and my entire body was cramping up with every contraction. i remember using my arms to push my back and bottom off the bed with each one, and pushing my back into the side-rail of the bed to get some pressure onto my lower back. when the contractions would subside i would breathe and try to get my body to relax, but it just wouldn't. during each contraction i would tie myself into a knot that i just couldn't seem to unwind quickly enough after the contraction was over. i needed to relax. i needed this break. i needed my legs, arms, and body to relax for these few minutes. i knew i needed to be ready when the next one came. i knew i needed to stay on my side. i knew i had hours to go, and that the rest between these contractions was critical. 

it was about one thirty in the morning, and the nurse checked on me and informed me that the baby's heart rate was good with this position change. i told her about how tired i was getting and how tense my body felt during each contraction. she nodded her head and asked me if i was ready for my epidural. i didn't want an epidural. i didn't really want pain medicine at all. i just wanted to be able to relax between my contractions. i didn't mind the contractions themselves, but i knew that i was going to be exhausted too soon if i kept up at this rate. when i came in and they had checked me i was only three centimeters... i knew i had a long way to go - it was too soon to get too tired. i asked for some medicine through the iv to just help me relax a bit between contractions. she said she could give me a small dose of an anesthetic to help, and i accepted the offer. 

it worked. and i relaxed well. my contractions were still coming, but once they were done with i relaxed more easily and felt like i could stay on my side more comfortably. shortly after, my midwife arrived and checked me and i was at just about five centimeters. it was almost two-thirty in the morning. she assured me the baby's heart rate was looking good and told me if i wanted to change positions i could - that she would keep an eye on me and as long as the heart rate continued to be alright i could even get up and walk around. oh, i wanted to kiss her face. i walked to walk more than anything else at that moment. my legs needed to stretch, and my back and bottom needed to be off of the bed. 

during the next contraction i looked at the monitor and turned myself back onto my left side... just as my midwife was walking in the door. she smiled and told me i would be staying in bed.

by five in the morning i was curled into a ball and trying to relax my body at the end of my contractions. chris had stayed by my side and was pushing on my lower back for me. my midwife checked on me and i was still at five centimeters. i had a while to go. i accepted more pain medicine. about an hour later she returned and stated she wanted to get me moving along. she explained she wanted to place a catheter in my uterus to monitor my contractions more directly than from the outside of belly, and she told me she wanted to put me on a little pitocin while the pain medicine was working well.

i remember the catheter being placed, i remember the pitocin being hung. however an hour and a half later, my contractions were merciless, and noticeably more frequent (yeah, i might have been timing my own contractions).  i looked up at that little bag of pitocin and said "what the heck is that? pit?"... chris then whispered "you told them they could, you bartered for being able to go to the bathroom". that was right! i do remember getting up and going to the bathroom... oh how silly i was! (and how smart of a nurse my midwife was to ask me at such a good moment when i would be so cooperative).

when i had been planning on how i wanted to give birth, or "making a birth plan" as so many books instruct you and urge you to do, i had decided i didn't want an epidural, or really any pain medicine. i didn't want any extra interventions. i wanted to "go natural". not because i have anything against pain medicine, or epidurals, or medical interventions. i just wanted to do this without it, if possible. but if i needed to be put on "pit", then just bring on the epidural. because at that point, once you have medicine pumping through you that is amplifying each and every contraction and bringing them closer and closer together, you are no longer natural, and you deserve a little bit of help. now, this is not a scientific fact, you can have "pit" without an epidural, but this is just what i felt would be fair to myself. well, i never needed the epidural. the pitocin did it's job, and the pain medicine they had given me through the i.v. line worked too, and i felt my body start to progress and i was transitioning. 

my contractions were the strongest they had been, and each one got stronger. i dreaded each one, but i knew they were bringing me closer to my baby. my husband was at my side the entire time, and while i loved him there, i started to lose my patience and even his breathing was irritating me. i started to think "i can't do this. i am not going to do this". and i laughed to myself, at my thoughts, because of how many times i had heard women yell these things while in labor, right before they gave birth. 

at around ten in the morning i needed to push. 

while watching "the walking dead" this week, and seeing lori in labor it hit me how crazy this sudden instinct that you never even knew existed overcomes you during labor. suddenly you know you need to do something that you have never felt, or done in your entire life. you need to give birth, you need to push. i had heard people describe this urge a number of ways, but it was like no other instinct. i knew what my body was going to do, and that was all i could think about. i needed to push. i told my midwife, and she said "well, last time we checked you, you were only about eight centimeters leah..." i replied, "i need to push. i am going to push". she checked me, smiled, and said, "yeah, you are there". 

i remember pushing three times. chloe was born with a triple nuchal cord, meaning the umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck three times. it was unwrapped quickly and easily within seconds (later i realized how lucky i was to have a midwife who would allow me to labor like i did and deliver like i did so safely. i am thankful for her knowledge and wisdom as a nurse.)  my midwfie announced, "it's a girl!". the girliest little baby cry i had ever heard pierced the air, and the most perfect baby girl was placed on my chest. her hands blue, and her face pinking up, perfect and beautiful, as i felt her breathe. when i said her name i felt her become more quiet and calm. christian held her and i don't think i had ever seen such love and fear at the same time. she was ours. she is ours. she is magical - she made us into a momma and papa.

day and night

what days look like around here:






what nights look like:



1 : a baby in sunglasses (who behaved herself pretty darn well at a wedding this past weekend!). 2 : sharing a shake and fries while taking a break from a busy day of thrifting. 3 : sharing food with her daddy (we weren't on our game, and realized this past weekend that we should have made chloe into luke skywalker for halloween. she most likely won't look like mark hamill for too much longer). 4: little feet! 5 : you know you live when a toddler when you have a blender bottle ball in your boots. 6 : one of the peter pan collars i made... not pressed or finished in this photo, mind you. 7 : sneak peak at the bows and collars i have been working on for my shop opening this week (eeep!).  more to come on the shop - i cannot wait to share more with you. have a great week everyone!

happy halloween

every year the day creeps up on me and then all of the sudden it is gone. growing up in a very religious family, we never celebrated the holiday, or gave out candy... so when kids start showing up on our street by four-thirty in the afternoon i am always caught a little off guard. thank goodness christian is a seasoned halloweener. we spent the evening hanging out on our porch and handing out halloween candy with some friends. 

chloe was a cute little hobo for halloween this year (after she refused to wear a wig, thus ruining my plans of making her into a mini marilyn monroe) and we walked her to some of our neighbors homes for some trick-or-treating. it was her first time really eating candy, and she LOVED it. 

i think that a small part of me always wanted to become a momma so i could make halloween costumes for my babies. there are some pretty amazing costumes out there to buy, but there is something about a home-made costume... i have a feeling we have a lot of home-made costumes in our future.

we all ate our fill of candy, and when my little hobo was finally asleep we watched "abraham lincoln: vampire hunter".  it was a good night.

we hope your holiday was fun and safe! i cannot believe it is already november...

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