06 September 2016

A Mother of Three

It took us a painfully long time to name our newest daughter (nearly a whole day!), and because I don't want all that deliberation to go to waste, her blog name will be Addie, which is a nickname for our runner-up name.

I never understood the appeal of sharing birth stories until I became a first time mom and suddenly it was a rite of passage of sorts to share all the details with other moms. When sharing my experience, I wasn't sure if I was supposed to skew the story to emphasize my strength and courage, or if I would earn more points if I played up the drama and had all listening ears horrified by the end. Truthfully, I still don't know which one is more impressive. If you find out, you can let me know.

It all started at about 1 am Friday morning. I was having a hard time sleeping and I realized that I was having what felt like Braxton Hicks contractions, but at pretty regular intervals. When I started timing them, sure enough, they were regular and getting closer together. I didn't feel any pain aside from the discomfort from the tightening, but I was sure that we would have a baby that day which of course did not help me fall back to sleep. I remember tossing, turning, and timing contractions until about 3 am, when I finally fell asleep.

I woke up at 5 am and began timing my contractions again. This time the contractions were a little more painful (like a mild menstrual cramp) and began lasting longer and coming closer together. Now I completely gave up on sleep and took a shower and began packing the last few things into my hospital bag. I woke Joseph up around 6 am and told him to get ready because we were going to have a baby!

Lucky for us, my mother-in-law was visiting from Idaho and so we were not scrambling to get the kids up and off to a sitter before we left for the hospital. Our kids are habitually early risers and so we were able to kiss them and tell them we were on our way to the hospital. J was especially tickled when we told him that today would be the baby's birthday.

We left home about 6:30 am and headed to the hospital. I was relieved when we made it there before the morning traffic, but I was also nervous because I had stopped timing my contractions and now that we were in the parking lot, I was sure they had stopped all together. Curse my pride, but I knew I would be so embarrassed walking into the hospital thinking I was in labor with my third baby, only to have them send me home. So, my patient and loving husband walked laps with me for about 45 minutes around the hospital and surrounding blocks until I was sure something was happening.

In the elevator ride up to Labor and Delivery, I continued to be so nervous that they would send me home. We made it upstairs, checked in, and they gave me a robe and a sectioned off portion of a triage room. The nurse continued asking me questions and I could tell she didn't think I was in labor. She hooked me up to the monitors and then said she would return in 20 minutes to check me for dilation. 

When she came back to check me, we were all surprised when she told me that I was dilated to 8 cm and it was time for them to find me a room. She admitted she didn't think I could be that far along based on how I was acting, but I was just celebrating the fact that I wasn't crazy and we would be having a baby soon. After that the nurses were very quick about hooking up my IV, finding me a room, and calling the anesthesiologist.

In my delivery room, the anesthesiologist came and went and we were told that it was a busy day in Labor and Delivery and our doctor would be in as soon as possible. By 9:30 am we were settled in the room, happy with an epidural, and patiently waiting. We passed the time by trying to agree on a baby name and trying to find something worthwhile to watch on TV. We failed miserably at both.
The nurses continued to check on us, but after a few hours not much had changed. The doctor finally came in around 12:30pm to break my water and help things along. After my water was broken, the nurse had me move to my side to help the baby flip so she would be in the right position. Soon, I felt a big movement and I knew that she had moved. It wasn't long after that I realized that my right side was completely numb from the epidural, but my left side was left numb. In fact, after she flipped my contractions became MUCH stronger and suddenly I could feel it on my left side. OUCH! By the time the nurse came back in I told her that I was very much feeling my contractions on one side and I really needed to push.

She immediately called for the anesthesiologist and the doctor, but she told me to be prepared to have the baby without either of their help. She put on gloves and said that she would deliver the baby if necessary. At that point, I was in a lot of pain from the contractions on my left side and it took my complete concentration to breathe through the contractions while trying not to push. The anesthesiologist made it and adjusted my epidural, while the doctor ran in and got ready. 

Thankfully, soon I was much more comfortable and the doctor gave me permission to push. After pushing for about 30 minutes, our dark haired little baby girl came into the world! The doctor and nurses were surprised and said, "That is a big baby!" to which I couldn't believe because my other two babies were right around 7 lbs. Sure enough, after taking guesses our baby girl was weighed and she was 8 lbs 6 oz, 21 inches long.

Because I delivered at a Baby Friendly hospital, she was weighed and then given right back to me for skin to skin, before she had even been wiped off much. They let me have what they call a "golden hour" where they left me alone with the baby to snuggle, kiss, and begin breastfeeding. It was heaven to hold her close and check out all her little rolls.

Later that afternoon, Joseph brought the kids and Grandma to come and meet Addie. And just like that, my hospital room filled with children and I realized that I was the mother of three.

Read Ellie's birth story here

22 April 2016

Quiet Moments

I've been a mother long enough to know that when your child is missing and being quiet, it means that messy mischief is most certainly going on. (Last week, it was large bottles of baby powder emptied  on the floor and two guilty children.)

But sometimes, as I go running looking frantically for the child that is suspiciously quiet, I find them with a book. And then my mommy heart is happy. And then I obviously go find my camera to capture the moment in as many possible angles as I can.

When I was pregnant with J, I was an Early Childhood Education major with big dreams of how to best raise a child. Our impending parenthood paired with my coursework in child development and pedagogical strategies assured me that we would know what would be best for our child and we would implement it every time. 

(Insert mild eye-rolling and laughter here.) Needless to say, our visions of parenthood quickly changed when we became parents.

One of our main priorities as new parents (that actually lasted) was to make intentional decisions in the lives of our children. We wanted to have valid reasons for at least most of the things we included in our children's lives. So when we moved a few months after J was born, we sold our television and haven't owned one since. 

All this is to say, we filled our home with books instead which has made these quiet moments of reading and enjoying books a daily occurrence at our house. I have LOVED exploring the world of children's literature with my kids and I love that we quote books instead of movies at our house. I feel a great bond as a family because we have many friends in common, like Trixie, Mercy Watson, Benny Alden, and Wolfie

I should say that I do not feel that television is evil or parents who watch television with their children are careless. I feel like all parents have those one or two things that they are passionate about (organic snacks, stylish clothes, cloth diapers, and on and on....), and my thing just happens to be reading and limiting screen time. 

There are times, like every day at 5 pm when I am trying to make dinner, that I wish I had a television and Daniel Tiger to get me through! But I know myself and feel I would use the television too often to entertain my children and so I have to just abstain all together. Thanks to Gretchen Rubin, I understand this tendency about myself. 

And if my kids grow up thinking that only hotels have the luxury of a television, that is just fine by me.

25 February 2016

Mr. Four

As of last week, we have a four-year-old living at the Pieper residence.

But this is not just any four-year-old, as he informed me during his annual birthday interview (see age 3), he is a biker now. And I should have believed him, all the signs were plainly pointing to the fact.

After waking up and seeing his new balance bike tied with a red ribbon, he was on it and scooting to the table for breakfast. Then he was on it to scoot to his room to get dressed. he scooted back to the living room. And I even witnessed some scooting into the bathroom.

The first day it was so adorable to see this boy so very much in love with his bike that had so quickly become part of his identity. That first night, it was parked tenderly at the side of his bed. When he woke up the day after his birthday and scooted to the table for breakfast again, I wondered how long I would let this go on.

It was comical to me that we had been listening to Charlotte's Web on audio book because suddenly I felt that J was Fern and the bike was his new little Wilbur that would soon become too rowdy and too much of a hassle to keep in the house. When I mentioned that the bike should stay the night in the garage, I was quick to add that it would be a warm, safe place for the bike to sleep.

As of now, he is content with the bike staying outside all the time and loves to ride it whenever he can. I am a proud and content mama and I cannot help but think that this bike has given me a few more years before I need to get him a dog (or a pig).

Birthday Interview

How old are you? four-years-old
What is your favorite thing to do? ride my balance bike (keep in mind these was a matter of hours after receiving it)
What do you want to be when you grow up? a bike rider and ride to work like Daddy
What is your favorite food? birthday cake and birthday pie
Who do you like to spend time with? Mommy and Daddy
What do you do really well? take care of breakable Christmas ornaments, and ride my bike
What makes you laugh? Ellie saying, "Me-mouse!"
What is the best time of day? sleeping so I can grow
What are you afraid of? lightning and thunder
What do you like to do with your family? go somewhere
Where do you like to go? to see Super Grandma and Grandpa
If you had one wish, what would it be? a balance bike with pedals
If you could have any animal for a pet, what would you choose? a turtle named Wilpert

18 February 2016

A Little Love Day Party

Do you know what I bet everyone LOVES to see?

Pictures of other people's kids. This is probably a slight exaggeration(with some sarcasm), but I'm sharing anyway because these are the little people I love. And you should love them too.

don't know how it happened, but I found myself planning a Valentine's party for J and Ellie and their little friends. Because J's birthday is just a few days after the day of love, I figured it would be a fun way to celebrate and fill my house with little people all at the same time.

We started with a picnic, heart sun-catchers, and a few rousing games of Don't Eat Pete! (Have you ever tried explaining the rules of Don't Eat Pete to an adult? It is impossible to even imagine how it would be fun. But those little kids were DYING of laughter. It was one of the silliest things I have ever seen!)

All children were asked to bring a mailbox/bag and valentines to share. It was so adorable to see little hands rushing around handing out candy and cards while little eyes grew wide with the promise of sugar.

Then we headed outside for a wonderful homemade heart-shaped pinata which the children enjoyed whacking on their turn and walking too close to when it was not their turn.

J had his little heart set on sharing cupcakes with his friends, and I'm so glad it made his day when they sang "You've Had a Birthday" and he blew out his candle.

05 February 2016

Temple Going

We take our weekends pretty seriously around here. With Joseph's busy season in its full tumultuous swing, our one day of pure bliss and Pieper family do-whatever-we-want-day is Saturday. 

Last Saturday we filled to the rim with library, Target, Krispy Kreme, and grocery store runs. After a crazy fun morning and afternoon naps, we decided (after some prompting from Ellie) to take a family field trip to the temple grounds.

Visiting the temple here in Sacramento really is the whole package.
Large grassy places to play, check. 
Fountains, check. 
Wild turkeys and geese to chase, check. 

On this particular Saturday it was very overcast with a determination to rain. We wandered. We explored. I relished the beautiful moody clouds.

I ended up with J by my side as I was photographing the temple. I loved hearing his thought process as he quietly snuck around looking for traces of turkeys. Every sound he heard MUST have been a turkey hiding around the next turn. 

Much to our dismay, the turkeys managed to evade us. Do the sounds of small children scare wildlife?  

We returned home with pockets full of acorns and a sincere, indescribable appreciation for the knowledge that because of temples, our family can be together forever.

01 February 2016

Mom in the Frame Project

After completing another 365 project last year, I felt a little burned out. I love photography of course but the daily task of photographing, editing, and then posting can get overwhelming day after day. 

When 2016 rolled around, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do. Then January 1st became January 11th and I still had not decided if I was going to start a daily project (a 366) this year. At that point I felt that it was too late to begin and then panic set in. 

Looking back, the collections of photographs that I have from years of completing 365 projects (2013 and 2015), are truly some of my most prized possessions. And I know now that I regret not shooting everyday in 2014, the year Ellie was born and changed so much!

This year I have decided to focus on the one thing that was missing from the many photographs I have created and shared over the years... me! So I'm becoming more comfortable with my tripod and shutter remote and getting in the frame with my children. 

I know it sounds like a vain sort of endeavor, but I really think I am doing it for my children. I *think* they might treasure these photographs some day. 

I have joined Kristen Duke's Capturing Joy Photo Club for encouragement and a weekly prompt. This week's theme was "cuddling" and as you can tell, my children have a different interpretation of the word than I was expecting. 

If you are working on a similar project, I would LOVE to see it! Please send me the link and share the love.
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