Wednesday, June 17, 2015

I think I'm becoming a minimalist...

Wow, two years since I've blogged here. For a while I was thinking that this blog didn't serve much purpose anymore, but I browsed through it a while ago and decided there was some good direction here. My other blog ( is more about sharing poetry and profound thoughts. This one I feel should be more about day-to-day stuff, which I have not been very good at recording lately. Since my last blog post here, I've had another baby, we've sold our old house and moved to a new one in a different city, my husband changed jobs--life has just been busy. But I'm ready to start recording again. I'm not sure if I'll do it here or if I'll switch to a regular pen-and-paper journal, but this will do for now.

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about simple living and minimalism. When we put our home up for sale last summer, we did a lot of decluttering and dejunking. We had a very successful yard sale, paid to have our house professionally  deep cleaned (which was heaven for me as a pregnant mom!), packed away the rest of the stuff we could easily live without for a while, put grass in the back yard, did a little redecorating and staging, and made our home look beautiful in a simple, clean way (which made me sad to leave it!). Because we had to be ready for a showing pretty much any time of day (we opted to have only a one-hour notice before showings), we tried our best to keep the house pretty clean most of the time. It was a lot of work with two toddlers running around and my ever-growing belly (stooping again and again to pick up all the toys off the floor was murder!), but we were confident our house was priced right and would sell quickly--except it didn't. It sat on the market for six months--once we didn't have any showings for over three weeks, which drove me crazy. But that was six months of doing our best to keep our house as clean as possible at all times (though we did finally say that we needed more notice before a showing when I was super pregnant and just after Jenna was born). And things got a little more lax the longer our house stayed on the market. Even so, it was definitely the cleanest and most clutter-free our house had ever been, and I realized that I really liked it that way. I liked having clean countertops and tidy floors. It brought a greater amount of peace to our home. When we moved into our new house in February this year, I felt this was something I'd like to keep up.

I made and tried several different cleaning schedules. We were already rotating our toys before we moved, but I reduced the amount of toys in each rotation a little more. I took a few ill-fitting things out of my closet, and tried to keep papers from piling up. It helped, but I began being really bothered with something. Maybe I'm a bit of a baby when it comes to housekeeping, but I began to be really bothered by the fact that if I took even one or two days off to do something like a fun family outing or to care for my kids or myself when we got sick, the house would become disastrously messy very quickly, and I would have to spend an entire day cleaning just to catch up (more if I had missed a Friday, which is when I do all the deeper cleaning). Even just doing every day cleaning felt burdensome and too much--in order to keep my house reasonably clean (but not sparkling) took up a lot of time every day. I felt I was missing all my opportunities to be doing fun things with the kids, using all my energy and patience for attacking the dishes and floors and leaving little to none for reading to the kids, going outside with them, or even my own personal development.

At first I told myself that I should just woman up and accept it--taking a day off means working harder later when you're in the job industry, why should my home be any different? And maybe I should just be fine with messy floors and piles of dishes (Pinterest quotes like "Excuse the mess--we're making memories," and "Excuse the mess, but we live here" come to mind). As President Monson said, "If you are still in the process of raising children be aware that the tiny fingerprints that show up on almost every newly cleaned surface, the toys scattered about the house, the piles and piles of laundry to be tackled, will disappear all too soon, and that you will, to your surprise, miss them profoundly.” I know I will be in this position someday, so I should just learn to enjoy the messes...right? 

Maybe not. Lately I've been on a blog-reading, podcast-listening spree. I'm not sure what brought me to it, but I began feeling a strong urge to read every blog post on minimalism and simplicity I clap eyes on. The more I read, the more it ruminates in my brain, and the more I feel the need to purge and simplify. I don't think I could ever live as spartan a life as some minimalists do (I love the decorations on my walls and I don't think I will ever be able to give up our perfect book collection), but I have found courage and determination to really evaluate the place that each item in my home has in my life: it is supporting my goals and dreams for myself and my family? is it useful or beautiful? is it adding value to my life? I feel I can honestly say that most of our possessions fall on the "yes" side, but I was surprised at how much I could still edit out: I threw away a ton of medications, supplements, and beauty products in our bathroom, cleared out my closet again (I'm thinking there's still more to do there, however!), pared down my kids' clothing and toy rotations yet again (I've gotten a few complaints from Noah and Bethany, but they soon forget), and got rid of a bunch of kitchen items that haven't been touched since we moved in. I also reorganized my usual routine to put my personal development time and my time with kids first and my housekeeping second. I'm still working on making this a habit, but so far I've loved how much better I feel and how my house cleaner my house is!

I keep thinking about accruing experiences instead of stuff. One of my favorite joys in this world is enjoying a new experience or watching my children enjoy a new experience, and the less money and time I spend buying more stuff and having to care for it, the more time and money I'll have to give our family these new experiences. 

I think I've gotten most of my writing bug out for now. There are still a few unfinished thoughts in my brain on this topic, so I'm sure I'll revisit this soon. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Snapshots Part 2: Random pictures and thoughts

Friends, I won't lie. This motherhood thing is tough. Just when I feel like I have a handle on balancing the kids' needs with my needs, just when I start to feel like I don't need to rely on Netflix and my iPhone to make it through the day with any semblance of sanity, my kids just laugh and say, "Just kidding! We're changing everything--again!" It can be very discouraging sometimes. Especially on mornings like this:

This was 8:47 a.m. on Monday morning, folks. 8:47 a.m., and the kids were already whiny and grouchy. It pretty much went on for most of the day.
Finding 20 minutes to myself to go through a quick yoga podcast doesn't sound too hard, right? Well, this is pretty much what happens when I try. So much for my relaxing "savasana" pose.

I'm not sure how much difference my few-and-far-between yoga practices make for my body, but apparently I'm doing it enough for Noah to catch on. He says, "o-ga" whenever I pull out my yoga mat, and knows how to find and turn on the podcasts on my phone. He even tries to copy me sometimes. 
I know this picture is super blurry, but seriously, can this be any cuter? I might have to get him a yoga mat of his own--he always wants to share with me when I try and use it. 
A friend gave us some free passes to the Discovery Gateway center, and the whole family had a blast watching Noah go from one area to the next! 
The car was his favorite!

I've been trying to think of ways to make our days run smoother. With these two young'uns being so--well--little, each day requires constant adjustment and flexibility, which is something I am not very good at most of the time. I am always looking for great ideas and tips to help us have happy days, days that fill everyone's cup. My kids need attention, love, laughter, and good nutrition. I need exercise, showers, time to read and play the piano, and a house that is not on the verge of disaster all the time. Of course it's a give and take thing, but finding that balance is hard. Here are some things that I am either currently implementing or going to implement very soon:
  • quiet time instead of naptime for Noah (so far it's working great! hallelujah!)
  • a daily story time (we need more books, though!)
  •  exercise in the morning before the kids are awake.
  • storing meals in the freezer
  •  keeping up with chores by doing a little bit each day, rather than taking a huge chunk of time every once in a while
  • doing more house-stuff and me-stuff in the morning, while focusing more on the kids in the afternoon. The kids are more self-entertaining right after breakfast. At least, it seems that way. It could totally change tomorrow. Flexibility, right?
  • more books, less Netflix
  • going to bed earlier

Sometimes, I worry that I don't do enough for my kids. I don't give them enough experiences, I don't read enough books to them, I don't take them outside enough. It's May, and Noah hasn't even been out to play in his sandbox yet. I can count the times he's played with play dough and finger-painted on one hand.

When I think of this, I start feeling like I ought to start planning glorious projects and experience-packed schedules. But then I see their smiles, their exuberance, their love for life. It is so easy to make them smile! A tickle, a silly song is all it takes, and they're happy. I have to remind myself that what Noah and Bethany need most is a safe, peaceful, happy home, a place of growth, exploration, and hugs. They need a mom who recognizes their needs any time of day, and has the energy necessary to respond. In order for this to happen, we need simple activities and easy schedules right now. We're ok with that.
I want to fix these faces in my mind forever. I want to enjoy my kids without worrying too much about things that don't really matter.

They matter. So much. I can't imagine life without them.

I want to remember this time, these tender days of early motherhood. I want to remember that it is really hard to be a young mom. I also want to remember that it is rewarding beyond belief. I want to remember these days so much that, halfway through writing this post, I held a very squirmy Bethany and typed with one hand, desperate to preserve the feelings in my heart. 

Today I read a poem by William Blake that touched me:

When the voices of children are heard on the green,
And laughing is heard on the hill,
My heart is at rest within my breast,
And everything else is still.
(Nurse's song, st. 1)
I love those words. I let myself stress too often over transient things, I become overwhelmed too easily by silly problems. I hope I can learn to let my heart rest more, let myself bask more in Noah and Bethany's joy as I watch my children grow and play each day. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Snapshots: A Celebration of Real Motherhood

This morning I had a brilliant idea to photograph and write about as many little moments from our day as possible--the good, the bad, and the crazy ones--and make them in to a blog post. I didn't take as many pictures as I wanted, but I captured the important ones. It wasn't until the end of the day, though, that I realized that I didn't get very many pictures of Bethany (oops!) so maybe I'll try this again and focus more on her.

I'm calling this "a celebration of real motherhood" because I often give too much glory to the moms I see on Pinterest--the bikini-body-after-having-five-kids-moms, the DIY-Pottery-Barn-House-moms, and the I-make-everything-from-scratch-moms. I compare the worst sides of my house, my kids, my cooking, my clothes, even my body to the best things I see on the internet, things I don't and can't have and do right now, causing me to forget the generous amount of beauty that already exists in my life. 99% of the time, a mother's life is not Pinterest-perfect, nor should it be. Moms spend a lot of time doing things that are fairly mundane and repetitive. But hidden within our daily labors are precious little moments that should never be forgotten--moments that make it all worthwhile. I believe that both the mundane and the precious moments deserve celebrating every once in a while, which is why I'm writing today. Enough explaining. On to my account of our day.

8:15 am: Noah and I are sitting down to eat breakfast together. Bethany is playing in her bouncer. I start cleaning our breakfast mess.

8:42: Just as I'm turning to do the dishes, Noah randomly starts puking on the kitchen floor. No idea what caused it. When it's all over, Noah starts crying because he wants to be held, and Bethany starts crying because she's tired. But there's puke on the floor. All over the place. What's a mom to do? I clean it up and try to comfort both kids at the same time.

9:45 Bethany wakes up from her first nap, and we have story time. Noah and I choose 6 or 7 books (some short, some long) and settle down on the couch to read. Of course, both kids clamor to be held. Luckily, they're still little enough to squeeze on to my lap. I don't know what I'll do when they get bigger.

{note--this picture isn't from today. This was another story time that took place a few months ago. My arms were too full of kids and books to pull out my phone to take a picture of this moment today.}
10:30 Snack time! This picture actually marks an important moment in Noah's life. See that cup he's avidly drinking from? That, my friends, is cow's milk! The supposed dairy allergy is out, and we've been earnestly trying to get Noah to like cow's milk. It tastes so different from the rice milk and coconut milk he's used to drinking, so he hasn't exactly taken to this new taste. Today was one of the few times he's been willing to drink it (with the help of some strawberry Nesquick...)! Good job, Noah!
11:00 I put Bethany down on the bed for a few seconds. I come back to find her chewing on Daddy's (freshly washed) sock. Yummers. About five minutes later, I notice Noah cuddling with something on the bathroom floor. Is that...? Yep. A package of toilet paper. Apparently it's very comfortable. 


12:00 pm--Noah is again playing in the bathroom while I iron something for a craft project. His game of choice: trying on Mommy's necklaces.

12:30-Lunchtime. I'm trying to broaden Noah's palette a little, so today we have tomato basil pasta salad and avocado chicken salad on the menu in addition to the more-familiar cheese and hot dogs. I hope he will be interested in trying it. 
12:45-No dice. A few bites of hot dog and cheese. It seems this little boy was too tired to be patient at lunch, so we ended it early. Off to bed. 

1:50-That was a short nap.
 4:30-Noah is literally running around in circles while I'm trying to teach my piano students. I'm surprised my students can concentrate at all through the racket he's making.
7:00-Bethany's bed time. Diaper change, pajamas, and then nursing in the rocking chair. She's been doing this odd little humming thing today when she's nursed, and she proceeds to hum and suckle with great gusto. Noah, understanding that it's time to wind things down for the night, brings a blanket into her room and curls up with it on the floor.
7:30 Bath time for Noah. We've had a busy day--I'm exhausted by this point, and I had imagined Noah would play happily in the water while I sat and tried to find some sanity for 15 minutes. Instead, he throws a tantrum because he wants me to turn the faucet on again. How are you supposed to discipline a kid who's throwing a tantrum in the bath tub? You can't do time-out, you can't just end the bath without washing them, and you can't leave the bathroom to let them cry it out and blow off some steam. Suggestions? Anyway, I quickly washed my thrashing, screaming toddler and threw his pajamas on as quickly as I could. I had hoped to end the evening on a high note--a nice cuddle, maybe do a puzzle or something--but he wouldn't quit whining, so straight to bed he went. I tucked him in and said good night.

 There you have it--our day in a nutshell (I spared you the more unnecessary and boring parts). I hope that you enjoyed reading it, and that you feel a little bit more inspired to celebrate and cherish both the precious and the mundane in your own life! Thanks for reading!

Friday, February 1, 2013

20 Reasons Why I Can't Wait for Spring

1. I can go on walks with the kids.
2. I can start my 12-week jogging program.
3. Noah can try his hand at decorating our sidewalks with chalk.
4. I can get in and out of the car without getting snow in my shoes.
5. Flowers
6. Starting a little vegetable garden.
7. Being able to spray paint stuff outside. I have a lot of little home improvement projects I want to do!
8. When I'm having a rough day with the kids, I can take them outside and let Noah burn off some energy by running around.
9. I can dress Bethany in nothing but a onesie, and I'll be able to see and squeeze her chunky thighs all day long! (Okay, I guess that's more of a summer thing, but still!)
10. The chronic dry-skin-winter rash on my arms will finally go away!
11. We can take Noah to the zoo!
12. Going on walks with Tyler.
13. Sunlight after 6:30 p.m.
14. Short-sleeved shirts
15. Driving without risking my life on black ice
16. Having a clean, shiny car with no yucky salt residue all over it!
17. Being able to open the windows to air out the house.
18. The semi-annual Hilltop consignment sale in April, where I will buy all my kids summer clothes! It's so fun to go shopping!
19. Green grass
20. Easter!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Finding our rhythm

Bethany has been with us for almost eight weeks, and I think I'm getting the hang of things again. This week things have felt less stressful and more normal. Before Bethany was born, Noah and I had a pretty nice routine to our days (in a loose sense of the word), and we're finally settling back into that relaxing, normal rhythm.

I find that having a daily "rhythm" gives me a lot of comfort. I don't mind spending the morning washing the dishes and folding the laundry as much as I might have once. It actually feels rather therapeutic to cook and clean and even change diapers (yes, I said diapers). Is that odd? I find that the normal doctor's appointments, family dinners, and occasional trips to WalMart have given me all the escape I need lately.

One thing that I really enjoy doing each day is keeping my New Year's Resolutions. I know, I know, it's only the second week of January, but even so, I've done a pretty good job of keeping up with all those things I wrote about last week. I've been eating much healthier, and I really look forward to the time I get to spend exercising. I started using cloth diapers for Bethany a lot sooner than I thought I would, and so far I am absolutely loving it. My efforts to spend intentional time playing with Noah are paying off as well. Right now, I feel like our playtime together benefits me just as much as it does Noah, if not more. It's such a great time for me to drop all the concerns and frustrations that come with parenthood and just see life through his eyes for a little while.

It's so nice to feel all the bits and pieces of my nature and personality fitting into place. I feel whole, fresh, and happy to be alive. I can go to bed at night and honestly look forward to the day ahead of me, no matter what day of the week it will be.

Time to go take a loaf of yummy wheat bread out of the oven. Mmmmm, I'm hungry...

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

My 2013

I am so excited for this new year! I love the fresh, hopeful, clean-slate feeling that January brings. I feel ready to reach for my hardest goals and my loftiest dreams. I am determined to make this year the healthiest and happiest year yet! Who's with me?!?
There are a lot of changes Tyler and I want to make in 2013. We've decided to take every measure possible to help us achieve these goals. We started with the most basic, important step--writing it down! We did that last night. I've decided to take the next step in resolution-keeping 101 by sharing it with family and friends and enlisting your support. Below is our family mission statement for 2013. Tyler and I are going to keep this on our iPhones and hang it in our bedroom so we can always keep it fresh in our minds. What do you think of it?
Bailey Family Mission Statement 2013
To better prepare our family for any circumstance: Pay off our existing debt; Live debt-free and within our budgets; Complete our family’s 72-hour kit; Create a regular fund for 3-month food storage; Eat out only on special, pre-planned occasions.
To enjoy and care for our God-given bodies: Exercise regularly (at least 3 times a week) throughout the whole year; Eat processed foods and sugars sparingly; Use Bountiful Baskets and the Food Co-op to encourage healthy, clean eating habits.
To strengthen our family relationships: Hold a weekly Family Home Evening; Spend 30 minutes a day playing with Noah and Bethany; Limit television-watching to 1 show a night; Go on at least 2 dates a month.
Apart from our family goals, I have a few personal goals for myself. I want to:
-Lose 25 pounds by June 1st. Sadly, this is the same amount of weight I had leftover to lose after my first pregnancy. It was my intention to do better the second time around, but I kind of lost steam in the last trimester and ate whatever and however much I wanted...oops! On the bright side, I've already lost 25 pounds once, so I feel pretty confident that I can do it again!
-Eat absolutely no sweets or treats in January. No chocolate. No ice cream. No cake. Nada. Folks, I am addicted to yummy, sweet things, and it's becoming a problem! So if you see me reaching for a cookie or a Snickers anytime in January, STOP ME! After January, Tyler and I are thinking about establishing certain days each month that we are allowed to eat a treat (holidays, birthdays, that kind of thing). Right now, though, I'm not thinking beyond January. Baby steps first.
-Complete this running program I found on pinterest. I am just waiting for my 6 week postpartum checkup to get my "official" exercise clearance and then I am lacing up my running shoes! 
Pinned Image
-Run a 5k. I'm shooting for end of June, before it gets too hot.
-Take another summer class from George Wythe University. I took a course on William James' work on psychology last year and it was a blast!
-Do all of the projects on my 2013 Bucket List pinterest board. I'm really excited for this one! I think my first projects will be the vinegar produce spray and the laundry detergent.
-Spend at least 30 minutes each day just focusing on Noah. You'd think this would be easier, considering I am home all day, every day. But even with no car and no places to go, it's amazing how much effort it takes to stop my googling, facebooking, reading, and house-keeping stuff and just focus on him for longer than five minutes. But he needs me. He needs me to look in his eyes, to converse with him, to show him how to build with blocks and put puzzles together. I think he's been having a harder time adjusting to our new family life with Bethany than we've realized. He gets really sensitive and clingy at times in the late afternoons and early evenings when he wakes up from his nap. So my plan is to spend a good chunk of these grouchy times helping Noah do fun, new things--coloring, fingerpainting, playing with his new sensory tubs, building with blocks, doing puzzles, reading stories, and all that fun stuff. I love my little guy, and I hope that these special mommy-and-me times will help him feel more like his secure, good-natured self!  
-Read a long picture book to Noah every day. I'm kind of including this outside of the 30-minute playtime. We read lots of board books (I've got Mr. Brown Can Moo and But Not the Hippopatumus memorized like the back of my hand), but it's harder to get him interested in reading longer stories. He always wants to get up and run away after the first two pages! But even if he doesn't sit still for any of it, I'm still going to read one longer story every day.
-Start using cloth diapers. I've actually wanted to do this for a long time, but we've lacked the funds to make that initial investment. I'm going to be bringing in a bit of extra money from teaching piano lessons, though, so I think I'm going to use some of that in the next few months to buy what we need. I'm going with these Flip Diapers. I'm super excited for the money-saving benefits, and for no more blowouts (Bethany has at least one a day right now)!
There you have it, friends! My 2013 Resolutions!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Bethany's Birth Story

Wow! It's almost Christmas, Noah is 18 months old, and Bethany is finally here!!! Actually, she's been here for a month now. And it's been fantastic! I love having a baby in the house again! I know there are so many other details about our lives that I could (and should) write about, but today I'm just going to focus on Bethany's birth.

Sunday, November 18th, was my due date. That afternoon, as I sat in church, I had a few contractions that felt different from the usual Braxton Hicks. They were sharper, and they wrapped around my whole lower back and abdomen, instead of coming just in front. They weren't anything to pay serious attention to, so I went on with my day and didn't say anything. About two hours later we were driving out to Tyler's parents' house for Sunday dinner. I noticed the funny contractions again, and mentioned it to Tyler. By the time we got to my in-laws' house, I was starting to feel like this might be the beginning of labor. Not wanting the contractions to go away, we left Noah with Cort and ElLois and took a walk around their neighborhood. It was very cold outside, but I didn't mind. I was excited that our baby might be coming soon, and I sincerely hoped all that walking would encourage my body to keep those contractions coming!

We only stayed at my in-laws' house for about an hour before I decided we needed to go home. The contractions continued all the way home, and I whipped out my handy-dandy iPhone contraction timer app to see how far apart they were. If I remember correctly, they were about 5-7 minutes apart and lasting for about 50 seconds, and definitely different from Braxton-Hicks.

Once we got home, they seemed to slow down a little bit and came a little less regularly. We went to bed and tried to act like everything was normal, just in case nothing came of it after all. Thankfully, normal was not in the cards for us that night! My contractions woke me up at about 1:30 am, and they were definitely getting stronger and more regular. I woke Tyler up to tell him, and he advised me to try to go back to sleep. I tried for another hour and a half to sleep, but was unsuccessful. After timing my contractions for a little while longer, I got up to get a snack. I was starving! I got some applesauce and some toast, but as soon as I ate a little, my appetite went completely away. I started feeling a little nauseous, and my bowels started moving quite efficiently (how's that for putting things delicately, eh?).

I decided that taking a bath would help relax my body and my nerves. I stayed in the tub for an hour or so, timing contractions and reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. At this point, my contractions were about five minutes apart and lasting for about a minute, and I had to start concentrate to relax through each one. I called the midwife at the hospital to tell her what was going on, and she advised us to come within the next hour and a half. I woke Tyler up and told him to start getting things together to to go the hospital. I didn't feel the need to rush, so we took things slowly and calmly.

About 30 minutes later, I realized that we needed to leave for the hospital ASAP! I couldn't talk through contractions anymore, and they had really started to hurt. The center of the pain was right in my lower back, and I asked Tyler to come and push on it when each wave came. We got Noah up and got our bags in the car, and by 6:10 we were on our way to the hospital. It was a 40 minute drive to the hospital, and I wished that we had left an hour before we did. Each contraction was getting harder and harder to handle, and during that car ride, things intensified really quickly. The only way I could keep my body relaxed was to sort of hum and moan through each wave of pressure.

By the time we handed Noah off to my father-in-law in the parking lot and got into the L&D lobby at 7:00, I was really having a hard time. It was all I could do just to remain standing as we checked in. They got us into a room very quickly, and I changed into a long, grey nightshirt that I had picked up at the DI (last time I had to wear the hospital gowns and I HATED it!). The nurse, Cathie, checked me and told me I was 8 centimeters dilated. I felt so relieved and elated! I was terrified that she would tell me I was only at a 4, and even my best-case-scenario thoughts  imgined I was only at a 6. Without saying another word, the nurse zoomed out of the room to see if the midwife was there. Since everyone was in the middle of shift change, the midwife I had spoken to was already gone, and the new midwife was 30 minutes away. Cathie got a resident doctor to be on standby, and she came back to get my IV for antibiotics started (I was strep positive). About five minutes later, I told the nurse I felt like I needed to push. The nurse checked me again, and told me I was at a 9. Since the midwife wasn't there yet, she said I could push "a little" to make me feel better. Any woman who's given birth naturally knows there's no such thing as pushing "a little" when your body is truly ready to push. I tried pushing and my body completely took over, pushing harder and longer than I even imagined possible. Just as the resident doctor was getting ready to come and break my water, the midwife, Martie, ran in and started coaching me through my contractions. Three contractions later, my water broke as I was pushing and the baby really started moving down. Martie and Cathie did such a great job coaching me through this pushing stage. I was not a very calm and quiet laboring mother, that's for sure! The contractions were so very intense that the moaning and humming had long given way to a very loud groan that was closer to yelling than anything else. As I pushed and the pain intensified, my groans started getting higher in pitch, and it took a lot of reminders from the nurse and midwife to keep it in a lower octave. Apparently, when I let my voice get higher, it tightened my vagina. Keeping my voice low allowed my vagina to remain relaxed as the baby descended.

It seemed like the "ring of fire" stage lasted forever. For a few minutes, I felt like I couldn't do it anymore and that the pain would never go away. But Tyler, Cathie, and Martie gave me lots and lots of encouragement, and I kept pushing. After only 20 minutes of pushing, Bethany Elise Bailey emerged at 7:55 am, and Martie put her right on my chest. I couldn't believe it was all over and Bethany was here at last!

That hour after Bethany was born was completely opposite from Noah's first hour. Because there had been some minor complications with Noah's birth, they had to whisk him right away after I had only held him for a few moments. They had cut the cord immediately and started doing his assessments quickly. The room was full of nurses and lights and talking. When Bethany was born, the room was completely devoid of rush and worry. It was just us, Cathie, Martie, and maybe one other nurse. Everything was just as it should be. I held and tried to nurse her for a good 20 minutes before anyone talked of taking her anywhere. When I was good and ready, the nurse did her assessments and gave her right back to us. Everything was calm and peaceful. In fact, the only uncomfortable thing that was going on was the attention Cathie and Martie had to give to my body. Just as with Noah's birth, I came close to hemorraging, and I needed medicine right away to stop it. I also had a 2nd-degree tear which took a while to stitch up. Nevertheless, it was wonderful to be alert, with no epidural to restrict my movements, and to have Tyler and my baby right there with me the whole time.

My recovery was a hundred times better this time around, thanks to the lack of drugs. Last time I felt like a train had hit my body, and it took two full days before I was strong enough to walk around comfortably. This time, I was able to get up and go to the bathroom a few short hours after giving birth, and by that evening I could stand up long enough to shower and make myself look presentable for my parents and Tyler's parents to visit us. I was definitely on a birth-high, and I felt happy, energetic, and pleasant. In short, everything that I had wanted for this birth came true. It was intense, but it wasn't anything I couldn't handle with the great support that Tyler, Martie, and Cathie gave me.

I love my dear, sweet Bethany. She is such a blessing to our family, and I am excited to see her little personality take flight and grow. I hope I am being a good mother to her and Noah. Motherhood is definitely a challenge, but it is also a joyful privilege. I am so thankful for two healthy, beautiful babies and for my wonderful husband. Family means everything to me, and I feel so blessed by my Father in Heaven because of the beautiful people that share their lives with me!