Friday, July 21, 2017

I Did It!

Betty Pearl

I finally did it! Those are the words that keep running through me as I reflect on the birth of Betty Pearl at 40 weeks and 6 days. It's been just over two weeks and I am humbled. So grateful for all the support from family and especially all the friends from our church who fed us right when we got home from the hospital! Feeling a little crazed too because I have FOUR kids now! And I'm currently getting over mastitis because apparently I must have it after every birth unfortunately. While I caught it early, the first antibiotic regimen didn't work, so praying that the second one does. Boo! Hiss! But Betty is here! I'm so relieved!

I love sharing birth stories as I really enjoy reading them. It was empowering to me and I garnered strength from many women who were willing to share their birth stories too. You can read Ezra's here, Vivienne's here, and Teddy's here. I treasure these records because I forget that blissful feeling in the beginning of each child's life. Enjoy!

All of my previous births were around 38-39 weeks gestation, so you can imagine my "horror" when I finally met my due date for the first time. And then passed it. So many women experience this and prior to my own experience, I was sure that my body just wasn't capable of carrying to 40 weeks. Oh how wrong I was. My little body is capable of so much and proved me so -painfully- wrong. Oh it showed me alright. I won't be using Hypnobabies terms for the sake of most of the people reading this but I cannot emphasize enough how much this program has helped me have the births I wanted, even when I didn't follow the program carefully.

I had had contractions intermittently for a few weeks. On Sunday, July 2, 2017, I was exceptionally tired of being pregnant and was trying to induce labor yet again (believe me, we tried just about everything. Except castor oil because that's gross. Who wants to have the runs during labor? Ooh! NOT ME). This time, I thought I'd give pumping a try for oxytocin production (so a form of nipple stimulation). I would get fairly strong contractions but then they'd go away. After trying pumping on and off for nearly 4 hours, I gave up and just moped for awhile. Yes, I literally just sighed and moved from sitting on the couch to the bed back to the couch and then wandered around. Pitiful. My parents were in town and had been so helpful for the 9 days they'd been here already but I was feeling guilty of their sacrifices to be with my family and feeling the burden of my scheduled induction for Monday morning at 5 am (which is kind of hilarious because I thought it was at 5 pm so I would have missed it, whoops!). This pregnancy had been ridden with a lot of depression and anxiety already, so I was feeling fairly down at this point.

Carl encouraged me to keep my chin up throughout the day though and later around 5 pm, I noticed I had a random but fairly strong contraction. Through the rest of the evening, I had a strong contraction every 30 min to an hour. However, I talked myself out of the possibility that this could be "it" each time. Because why would this be "it" when I had had contractions for two weeks now? Every evening since my parents came, Carl and I went for an evening walk after the kids went to bed. During this walk, I told Carl again how much I did not want to be induced and how I was so concerned my provider didn't seem to 100% support me or my birth plan. She seemed so ready to induce me as soon as I hit 40 weeks and made sure I "understood all the risks" of going past due. I missed my last OB doctor who was so supportive of my birth plan. She had told me at my last appointment with her, "Tracey, be strong with your decision. After all the births I've been to since I started, I can tell you that the fewer the interventions, the safer the birth. You've done this before and are so low-risk. Don't let the providers push you any other way you're not comfortable with." Her words stuck with me, but I was nervous about birthing at the local hospital I didn't know much about and I just felt like I had all the odds stacked against me. Carl listened to my words and then told me to try to stop worrying about others since he and I have always been the main team anyway and we would be doing all the work.

We came back home shortly afterwards and chatted with my parents for a few then went upstairs. By 9 pm, I began having more contractions, about every 20 min it seemed. Later around 10 pm, the contractions were about 6-8 min apart lasting a minute each and fairly intense. I kept thinking that they'd fade though since I felt totally fine in between them. Carl was ready though. He jumped out of bed, showered, changed to "nice clothes" (because "I've got to look good in pictures too!" haha), and grabbed a few last minute things. I kept saying "you really think this is it? I don't know..." I had too many false hopes the past two weeks thinking labor would be soon. About 11:10 pm, I called my OB office's answering service and talked to my midwife and we arrived at the hospital around 11:30. I got checked into my room shortly after and my contractions were monitored. I was 5 cm and 90% effaced at this point, which I was satisfied with since I had been at 2-3 cm and 50% for a few weeks.

My nurse was very supportive of my birth plan, including not wanting an IV, which eased some of my anxieties immediately, especially since I had several people, including my midwife, tell me I'd need an IV per protocol and safety (I didn't have one the last two births). I was overly concerned about the slippery slope of interventions and felt like my midwife was not as supportive of natural birth as I wanted, but my nurse looked over my paper and said it looked great. It really helped me to be less anxious with her low-key attitude. For the first time here in my new town, I finally encountered a medical person (besides Carl) who I felt recognized birth as a natural process and was ready to just let me do what I felt was right- no push backs, no warnings of hemorrhaging, no scare tactics of "well you know, just in case you or baby are...." I get it. Scary things happen. I worked in the ER, I understand trauma and the unexpected dangers of life! Of course there is a place for medical interventions and no shame to the mothers who otherwise need or choose to birth with interventions. But as for me, I cannot fully explain the innate, natural calling of motherhood that streams through me and reassures my deepest feeling that birth is a natural, normal, and safe process if we listen to our bodies.

I was coping with the contractions pretty well at this point and really able to stay calm and focused by using my hypnosis techniques. They were very intense and strong, but I had a good few minutes of rest between them. I thought labor might take longer this time since it was a weird pregnancy, but just after midnight, contractions picked up and were closer together making it hard to rest between them. I still felt pressure instead of pain as Carl helped me stay focused. We tried bouncing on the yoga ball, then squatting, and then swaying/slow dancing, which was very helpful in assisting baby girl to "labor down." By 12:30 though, I was beginning to grow quite fatigued and climbed onto the bed. I assume this was the "transition" part of labor from my symptoms as it was seemingly impossible to find a good resting position between contractions. Carl had his hand on my shoulder and brushed my hair away from my face, continually reading hypnosis scripts and telling me how great I was doing. My nurse was very gentle and discrete about fetal monitoring and would just sneak in and hold a monitor to my belly every 15-30 minutes. So grateful to not be strapped to monitors constantly. I then began having a lot of very sensitive, low back pressure and thought maybe I might need to push. I hoped this was baby time! My midwife checked me but I was at 7 cm. I felt so disappointed at that moment, even though considering what time it was, I had progressed 2 cm in about 45 min. Darn false pushy feelings.

I began to lose focus on and off and deal with my internal struggle.
Is this pain? 
No, just pressure. 
No, this is called pain. 
No, pressure! 
This sucks! 
Almost done. 
I hope.
Please almost done. Please please please. 

Carl kept reminding me to relax and cued me to use hypnosis, but the mental struggle was challenging. Probably about an hour later, he helped me stand at the side of the bed to give my knees a break, but he had to literally hold me up because my legs were so wobbly and could not support my fatigue. I felt baby girl lower down more before climbing back in bed back to my knees. Finally, shortly before pushing, I puffed up my chest and told my thoughts "enough, I am too far into this labor and past the point of no return. Whatever I feel, I will feel, and just deal with it!" And so I did. I didn't allow myself to have the thought battle anymore and focused on each contraction being a "wave" instead and attempted to relax as much as possible. Not an easy task.

It felt like an eternity, but at 1:50 am, I felt like I could try pushing. Interestingly, my body has never gotten that overwhelming urge to push with my unmedicated births. I could feel baby girl making her way down and finally had some relief between pushing. It was so wonderful to rest between pushing! I finally caught a much needed break and didn't feel much while resting- just took some slow, deep breaths in preparation for the next contraction. I hardly felt the contractions but just pushed when I felt like it. Since I was on my knees on the bed, I gripped the head of the bed like I was about to fall off a cliff with each push. I felt very primal in the moment from "ahhhhh-ing" baby girl down and pushing when it seemed helpful. I was in control, which is kind of an empowering feeling during birth.

I felt it all, but I had basically just run a marathon and pushing baby out was the last half mile. Being able to rest between pushing renewed my energy and powered through the "ring of fire." It was tolerable, but I understand why it's called that haha. My midwife really showed me why so many women love her as a provider during this birth. She was present, but great at letting Carl and I do our thing and once I was pushing, she helped direct me only when needed to avoid injury. I ended up with a small first degree tear and by 1 week postpartum, it has healed up very well. She allowed Carl to "catch" baby girl, which has been such a great and unique experience for him for these last three babies. As soon as I pushed her out at 2:06 am, I felt instant relief in my hips and could take a deep breath. Before doing anything else, I looked over my left shoulder (because I was still on my knees) at Carl and, probably with a crazy, sweat glazed look, I said, "I did it! She's here!"

Betty Pearl was placed on my chest as soon as I turned over. She was a bit purple and didn't really want to cry and pink up for the first few minutes but was otherwise breathing well and very alert. Once the cord stopped pulsating, it was clamped and Carl snipped it. Not much longer, my placenta came out and my midwife did her minor repairs. Betty nursed right away and had a perfect latch. Nursing is always extremely painful for me at the beginning, but she's off to a great start already.

I've had a few thoughts while pondering birth this past week- the main one is if you desire a natural, unmedicated birth, you totally can do it. Truly. When I started this journey of having kids, I had no idea what I was doing. My first birth was so traumatizing to me- I left a lot of details out of my birth story then, but the fear has never been forgotten for Carl and me. I thought "great, this is it. I have to be pumped full of drugs and filleted open every time I have child." But I didn't. The human body is so capable. It's amazing. It's inspiring. Using the Hypnobabies program three times now has been the best birth preparation. I've had 3 different births with hypnosis and while the first one I did with Vivienne was more like the "ideal birth," I've had great experiences and outcomes with each of the following.

The second thought is having a strong birth partner is so important- almost a must if you want an unmedicated birth. Someone you can trust and be strong with you. Carl was my rock. I don't know what birth would be like without him. He was so calming and all the staff who came into our room were incredibly impressed with his birth preparation and hypnosis script reading. He helped keep me hydrated, reminded me to relax, change positions, and speak for me when needed. It was amazing to have so much trust in one person. Not to brag, but yes, I'm totally bragging that Carl was awesome. He will be taking on clients as a birthing doula from now on. Just kidding. awkward...

The last thought is to trust yourself. I had so many doubts and anxieties leading up to Betty's birth. I was so concerned about providers and hospital staff being unsupportive but Carl was right- we were the team. We did what we felt was right for this birth. Our opinions were the only ones that mattered. I had prepared for years at this point for what I felt was the right birth for me. I read so much research and truly practiced evidence-based medicine in my decision making. I wish I could have had less fear with the anticipation of this birth, but darn anxiety always has its way of being the party pooper. I was surprised at how much I depended on my provider's confidence to support my own- I guess I was lucky to have two amazing doctors the previous two births to not realize that I cared so much about what they thought. Trust your instincts. Prepare. Birth is a beautiful experience!

Thanks for reading. And now, indulge in these beautiful children of mine, taken at 4 days and 6 days old. I don't know how they are so cute. I certainly was not a cute child. 

Smile twins

Ohhhhh Teddy, your blond curls kill me!

I promise I'm happy.

Sisters! Sisters!
The best for last- digging for gold! #keepingitreal
*** I've read that I should watermark my photos from internet thieves. I didn't obviously. Please do not use my pictures for any reason without permission.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Ready, Set, Go! ... now GO! ...and GO! C'mon....

I am 38 weeks and counting down still. I am trying to be optimistic that I will continue to never meet my due date, but at this point, I feel like like I will be pregnant forever haha. As with the previous three, I'm sharing all about my pregnancy likes and woes. I realize that i don't really blog anymore, but I love having these posts to look back on! I am not the greatest at recording memories or milestones, but I'm glad I can at least do this.

  1. Morning sickness was the pits for the first trimester. However, it lasted only until the first trimester ended! It was not easy working in a smelly ED at that time haha. Zofran was a good friend for several weeks... 
  2. Weight gain. I've gained more this time than any other- I think I'm at 40-45 lbs gained total. I had lot more water weight with Teddy (remember my nasty ankles?!) so I felt like I looked bigger. 
  3. Woe is my low back and hips again!! Darn sciatic pain. My hips are so loose and sleeping is definitely not comfortable. My mattress is way better than the ones I slept on during the previous pregnancies though (Costco's 10" Sleep Science, king size)! 
  4. No left rib pain again! Guess that was just something my first two pregnancies had. 
  5. Oh, we're having a girl! I was hesitant to find out the gender since I thoroughly enjoyed having a delivery room surprise the last two times, but the older kiddos really wanted to know, so we did :) we had a very sweet gender reveal though with our children. Vivienne is the most excited to have a sister! The brothers are happy too, though Ezra was crossing his fingers to add more boys. 
  6. I've been much lazier about practicing hypnosis (using the Hypnobabies program I used the last two times), but I feel overall confident about birth this time. I mean, teddy was born in less than 2 hours from the first contraction so.... I can do this! I can't help but feel a little nervous as I approach these last few days *I hope*. We could have a newborn here in less than 2 weeks!!! 
  7. Cravings, cravings, cravings... Carlos knows this one better than I do. I know that I have had an abnormal craving for sweets and desserts of every kind, but I forget everything else! So I guess I have a severe case of preggo brain too haha. 
  8. I've been a bit of a doomsday prepper this time around. I've managed to get all the newborn laundry washed, the bassinet is ready to go, and I have enough diapers to last months, maybe even through the first year! I have about 2-3 weeks worth of meals frozen/jarred too, which includes a spreadsheet of all the meals haha. Having underlying anxiety is a bit of a doozy most days, but it's worked in my favor in regards to preparation. 
  9. I packed a hospital bag last week and even completed all the hospital registration paperwork. It must be my most prepared and smallest bag yet! I know we've been DIY maniacs for a few weeks too. I guess dads nest too haha. We just like to have things done... 
  10. So far, no disgusting sausage feet. I only had a lot of swelling with Teddy. If I'm in the car for awhile, I'll have a little swelling, but otherwise, I can still fit most of my shoes! 
  11. I had the sweetest baby shower thrown for me by some of the ladies in my ward. It was so incredibly thoughtful and I truly felt so loved. And my friend Emily made an adorable melon baby, which then my family and I devoured the next day because we are cannibals. 
  12. I've been way grouchier and emotional this pregnancy. I wonder if it's just a cumulative effect where the more kids you have, the more kookoo you get. That's my experience at least. 

The #4 pregnancy has been quiet on social media. I know. I purposely kept it quiet until I hit 34 weeks. More than anything this pregnancy, I craved privacy. I think it's because we had so much freaking stuff going on! I was tired of answering the same questions over and over.

So to clear the air, yes, we moved out of our beautiful, crazy fixer upper. Yes, we still own it and rent it now. Yes, it is mostly finished!! Including window trim, 2 additional bedrooms, a full bathroom remodel, exterior, porches with a roof, a complete HVAC system, kitchen lighting, and various other finishing touches. There is still work to be done, but nothing too urgent.

We moved to southernish Oregon for an awesome job opportunity for Carl. Which means I had to leave my sweet gig at Silverton's ER- miss that crew!! We bought another house here but now we are in suburbia. I don't love having neighbors this close, but the conveniences of having everything I need or want within 10 min is great.

This was initially a really painful transition full of bittersweet feelings. In my mind, likened it to losing part of my liver and hoping it would regenerate. It has. We are so happy to be here now and have felt a sense of belonging and being in the right place! It's been a faith building experience and we are so glad we took this leap to continue our life's journey here!

Now send me all the good baby-having juju out there and pray that I won't be pregnant forever. As I've written this post, I've had several light contractions! Hoping they develop into something and aren't some kind of baby trickery...

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Theodore Rich

taken at 5 days old. babies are so easy to photograph when they sleep all day long!

Wow, what a crazy few weeks we've had! Our little Teddy is THREE weeks old now! Recovery for me has been great so far, thankfully. It's also helped to have family come help left and right too!

In the last three or four weeks, we have painted rooms in our new home, sanded and finished floors, peeled wallpaper, packed up all our belongings, had swim lessons, Carl went to WI and back, moved into our home, had school assignments written, Carl back to WI for a week, more school papers, graduated from our colleges, and oh yeah, had a baby in the middle of all that. Makes you want to take a nap, right? I could use a nap.

As with my other children, I am sharing my birth story with Theodore. I love reading positive birth stories when I'm close to my due date, so I hope sharing this takes some of the anxieties out of birth for my preggy friends and family.

I was much more patient this pregnancy and decided to not try to induce labor in any way since we had so much going on. In fact, I would have even been okay going past my due date this time around! I opted to not have any vaginal checks, so I never knew how dilated or effaced I was prior to labor and I utilized hypnosis for childbirth via the Hypnobabies self-study course again. My birth with Vivienne was so peaceful, so I had high hopes that it would be similar this time around. I used my hippy hypnosis training and visualized my birth to be after 39 weeks (namely because I didn't want the kids to miss their swim lessons haha!) and the first day past my 39th week, I lost my mucus plug (why does it need to be called that? It sounds so... gross). With my first two, I went into labor within 24-36 hours after losing it! So I went into crazy nesting mode that day and tried to figure out how we would bring a baby home to the chaos we were living in- boxes everywhere, beds on the floor, couches in the dining room, yikes... I went to bed that night and when I woke up for my nightly potty break around 2 am, I felt a light contraction. It felt a little stronger than the Braxton Hicks contractions I'd had the past couple of months of the pregnancy. So I stayed up to see if I would have more and sure enough, the next one was slightly stronger! Excitedly, I woke up Carl and told him that I had felt some contractions and put him to work timing them. After 15 min, they had gotten much stronger, so I called my doctor's office to tell them I was in labor and then we called my mother in law to have her come stay with Ezra and Vivi. She zoomed on over like Lightning McQueen and by then my contractions were much stronger and closer together. Carl and I got into the car and off we went to the hospital! But we only made it to the train tracks down the street before the 5 minute long train crawled by. 5 minutes never felt so long! Sitting down and buckled up during labor is not fun, by the way.

We arrived to the hospital around 3 am and at that point, I was trying very hard to concentrate and not focus on how intense everything felt. Thanks to hypnosis, I wasn't feeling much pain, but it was still a challenge to walk and answer questions. The nurses in the unit didn't seem to think I was that far along in labor because they took their time having me sign consents and taking my weight. I'm pretty sure I looked like I was in labor as I was moaning and leaning up against walls and the nurses' station every two minutes. We got into a room and the nurse hooked me up to the monitors and then did a vaginal check.

This is the part where she suddenly went from chill into high adrenaline mode and called in the team because I was complete! For those unfamiliar with the term, this meant that I was done with transition, completely dilated and effaced, and baby was making his way out. All the nurses and aids must have been bored because I'm pretty sure there were at least 6-7 of them in there. They called my doctor a few times and she was rushing over. I began to have an urge to push after about 15-20 minutes from being checked in. Everything was happening so fast, it became quite the challenge to remain focused and in deep hypnosis, but I did have a couple seconds between contractions to rest and reposition myself. I stayed on my hands and knees for the duration of the labor. My doctor managed to fly into the room about 10 minutes before the birth! Shortly before crowning, my amniotic sack finally broke (woah, step back everyone!). Compared to my experience with Vivienne, I felt a lot more, including pain, but it wasn't horrendous- just intense. I could tolerate it well enough, though it wasn't a walk in the park nor was it "just pressure" as Hypnobabies tries to help you feel. I worried about the dreaded "ring of fire" that occurs at crowning, but it wasn't as dreadful as I read about. Whew. After about 20 minutes of pushing when I felt urges to, my doctor let Carl deliver the baby once his head was out and he announced to everyone "we have another boy!" We named him the next day, but Theodore was placed onto my chest as we waited for his cord to stop pulsating and for the placenta to deliver. I had been in the hospital for about 45 minutes at the time of his birth! To add to the shock, an hour after he was born, he was weighed and Carl and the nurses were all wide eyed when they told me he was 9 lbs, 1 oz! I figured he would be a little bigger than my other babies just because of the struggles I had with the pregnancy, but holy smokes, I was in disbelief that he was two pounds more than my first two!

so, so snuggly

It was such a surreal experience- perhaps a combination of being in the early hours of the morning or just because it was so fast- when he was born, I couldn't help but think "wow, did I just give birth or is this a dream??" I felt like I had much more time to prepare with Vivienne since I labored lightly at home for about six hours and then had more intense labor for 3 hours in the hospital, but this time it was just under two hours from the very first contraction. While I am very much logically minded, there is something to be said about the power of the mind when it comes to pain control. I definitely could not have done this as calmly as I did without my hypnosis preparation.

Just like my other babies, we always use 1-2 family names when naming our children. Theodore was always a favorite name for me because I had a great uncle, whom I never met, that my great aunt Dorothy would endearingly call Teddy. Rich is after my father, Richard, because he never had any sons to carry on his name :) So there you have it- Theodore "Teddy" Rich Leder. We love him to pieces!

My mother-in-law and sister-in-laws worked hard with Carl to somewhat organize our home prior to me coming home a day later, so when I came home, our chaos was a little more organized! Then, my parents drove up the following day and helped around the house some more and with the older kiddos. Carl had to go back to WI last week for finals, graduation, and a boards exam review course, so then my sister and my brother-in-law came and helped out and when they left, my mom came back :) She is here currently and will return to CA tomorrow as Carl will returns the same day. So grateful for all the help! It has made the transition to having three kids much easier, not to mention the extra help while Carl finished his clinical rotations and left for WI, and so that I could finish up school as well (PS- I'm done! Tracey Leder, RN, BSN!).

Thanks for the all the congratulatory texts, messages, phone calls, etc. We have felt the love :)

And just for fun, here is my "studio" for Teddy's photoshoot:
correct, it is a mound of pillows on my bed covered with a comforter.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

A few thoughts on this pregnancy

I am now 37-1/2 weeks along and I feel it everyday.  This might be my most complaint-filled pregnancy yet.  The past two pregnancies have been so comfortable overall, so now that I have experienced more of the typical pregnancy woes, I am more sympathetic to women who experience this every time.

So how does this pregnancy compare to my others then? Very different. I made a list:

1. Morning sickness.  It lasted the first half of the pregnancy and then some.  Never had it, hope I never do again.

2. Swelling.  I'd show you a picture of my feet, but you might barf, so I'll save you the horror.  I basically walk with little summer sausages instead of feet now.  Not so funny when you don't have shoes that fit anymore.

3. Joint pain. This goes with the swelling.  My fingers also are swollen, so I have not worn any rings for 2 or 3 months now. I didn't know swelling could cause so much pain in all my toes and knuckles.

4. Weight gain.  I've gained about 5 more pounds this pregnancy than my other two.

5. Stretch marks.  It was bound to happen at some point.  They are not too bad, but they are there!

6.  Cravings.  It's mostly under control now, but I went through several periods of wanting breakfast foods only (waffles, fried eggs, butter, butter, bacon, butter), then only southwest style foods (think ranch, cumin/chili, black beans, corn), and then cheeseburgers.  There was also the time I only wanted Quakers Oatmeal Squares cereal too.  Anything healthy? Not unless I wanted to puke.  Only in the last 2 months have I finally eaten a green salad.  Cravings are so strange.... I'm currently eating ice cream cones regularly.

7.  Baby movement.  Each pregnancy I think the baby kicks like crazy, but this time, I won't be surprised if I have twins. I get beat up inside hourly.

8.  Unable to walk sometimes.  Today was rough. Other days have been too.  Walking causes extreme pelvic and low back pain that I cannot manage to find relief for. Don't even suggest assisted lunges or animal yoga poses.  I have tried everything on Google. But by all means, let me know of a miracle move or drug of choice.

9. No left rib pain! This is nice as I had a rib slightly pulled out of place for Ezra and Vivi.  Yet, no amount of pillows provide relief for my hips/pelvis

10. Crowded bladder.  I used to be able to hold my pee for hours, pregnant or not. Now I have to wake up 1-2 times a night. TMI? Whatevs.

I know, I know, someone please call the Wahhhhhhhmbulance.  I feel better having written down my complaints.

I have been practicing my Hypnobabies almost every night for 18 weeks now.  I try not to scare myself by watching birthing videos.  The screaming in the videos haunt me! Especially when the videos are labeled "Gentle Birth with Hypnosis" and the mom is shrieking in pain during transition.  Not my definition of "gentle," thank you very much... Even though I had so much success with Vivienne, I can't help but feel worried as I anticipate labor and delivery again.  My doctor is awesome and so supportive of my birth plan.  I am opting not to have my membranes swept this time around.  Not sure if it even worked the last two times, but I'm just going to not have any kind of intervention done.  My doctor doesn't even believe in vaginal checks since studies have agreed that dilation/effacement aren't reliable indicators of impending labor- evidenced based practice right there, folks. It's true.  I walked around at 4-5 cm with Vivienne and was not in labor until a week later.

So what will this baby be?? I'm becoming more curious as the d-day nears.  For Ezra, I want a brother. For Vivi, I want a sister.  For me, I don't care.  I want a healthy baby and another easy and fast delivery.  Any guesses?  Strangers' favorite guesses are "Ooooohh you look like you're gonna have a boy! Because you know, boys carry more like this and girls are like that." Love the logic.

And for fun, here I am around 31-32 weeks with each baby! Ezra, Viv, #3
If only I did another selfie for the last picture haha.  

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Family and Festivals

I am desperately trying to blog more, but the excuses keep piling up.  I CANNOT wait until July! Carl and I will be done with school and done with unnecessary amounts of busy work.  This week, I have finally reached term in this pregnancy.  It is very exciting to be at 37 weeks! I'm also kind of freaking out too as Carl leaves for Wisconsin tomorrow and won't return until late Friday evening. Crossing my fingers that the universe is on my side and this babe doesn't come until after he returns.

Anyway, enough about now, I have been planning on updating about my parents visit this last April. They came at the end of the month for a very short, but wonderful visit.  I loved having them here and I'm glad my little family has planted roots in the West coast once again. Sure, Oregon isn't California, but hey, someone pumps my gas for me and I don't have to pay sales tax.

The few pictures I took were at the annual Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival. Because half of the tulips were dead as it was near the end of the festival, we all got in for $5! Still fun times :)

the kids thought the cow was the coolest part of the festival 

Stop and smell the... tulips

goober dipping and kissing a tulip

yes, my dad carries around an iPad and takes pictures with it because he's that cool! <3 i="">

sometimes they are just so awesome at posing for pictures- perks to having overly confident kids!

Viv aka "Muscles" Leder.  She toted Ezra around in that cart for quite the distance!

my beautiful babies!

I loved the visit and can't wait to see my parents again!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

A full heart

As I've pondered on the celebration of mothers coming up, I've been filled with feelings of gratitude.  How did I get so lucky?  and why the heck do I feel so frustrated some days?? It's true, I'm human. I get annoyed with the day to day routine sometimes and there are days when I feel the burden of parenthood more than anything else.  But as I woke up to Vivienne tickling my toes this morning, I felt a peaceful feeling- one which I've had often and wish I could never forget- of being grateful for being a mother.
Last weekend at the Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival
This gratitude really begins when I think of my own mother.  She is so amazing.  I know I tested her patience growing up from throwing tantrums as a child to bleaching my hair blonde without asking for permission (I looked terrible, by the way).  But as I look back, I can't remember a time when my mother was so upset with me that she told me something to hurt my feelings or to shame me.  She was just always there to support me. I am grateful for the life lessons she has taught me, her willingness to give her children everything that was possible and to make sure we had rich experiences growing up. I am grateful for her strength during trials and to see the positive attitude she has each and everyday.  Her motto has always been to not be downtrodden about things out of our control.  If we can't do anything about it, then it's time to move on and keep working.  I love her stories about growing up in Myanmar and to hear about her industrious family, working so hard to get to the states and to start a new life in the US.  She inspires me day to day to be a better mom and to work hard to give my everything to my own children.
Christmas 2014
I also think about my sweet mother in law, who raised five kids and taught them all valuable lessons day to day. I am grateful for the lessons she taught Carl through growing a garden, canning fruits and vegetables, and even sewing.  She taught him to be kind and to be a gentleman, to serve others in whatever way he could.  He has treated me like a queen since I've known him and makes me feel like the most drop dead gorgeous person that ever existed. I am grateful for the friendship my mother in law and I have. I love to sit and chat with her and I love how giving she is of her time.  She has shown me that motherhood can strengthen a woman and that it can extend beyond being a parent- mothers can be the best of friends too.  All her children are such good people with good hearts full of kindness and love.  They definitely learned this not only from being threatened to be knocked in the head with a 2x4 (haha!), but by example.

I got married when I was 19, which I realize is incredibly young, but it has been the best decision I've ever made.  Carl has been an inspiring person to spend night and day with and has helped me to become the mother I really wanted to be so very much. We decided to grow our family a few years later and I have found now that that decision was also a choice to grow myself.  I am a changed person because of my children.  I am grateful for the lessons they teach me in looking for the joy in the simple things like the excitement over an ice cream cone or building a block tower taller than themselves.  I wish I could bottle up that pure joy and breathe it in whenever I'm frustrated that I've asked Ezra to put his shoes on for the umpteenth time or when Vivienne decides that coloring her hand and the couch with a sharpie is a good idea.  It helps to take time and ponder the joyful things though and I will be making more of a conscious effort to remember these things.  May we all have more gratitude in our hearts for the people who have made us mothers. Happy Mother's Day!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Back Better Than Ever!

christmas 2014

After having a nice texting chat with my sister-in-law a few weeks ago, I decided that it was time to jump back into blogging.  Sure, I've been busy, but it's not like I'm trying to make a career out of this! I blog for enjoyment and to keep those who are interested in my life- namely a few friends and family- up to date on the happenings of our life.  Also, it's a great record keeper- I'm basically writing my family bible. Ha. But really, I used to be into journaling so that I wouldn't "forget a moment" and that fizzled out once I got married. Whoops. A lot of precious moments forgotten I guess.

What the heck are we all up to now? Well, we are still in Oregon! Yay.  I love it here.  I miss my dear friends and ward in Wisconsin, but Oregon is wonderful in every way- close to the mountains, ocean, beautiful weather, and best of all- close to family.  I never thought we would be homebodies, but it has been a blessing to be close to both our families for once.  We live with my in-laws (how much closer can we get?? hahaha) and Carl's siblings are all within an hour's drive.  There are aunts, uncles, and cousins every which way we look because something about this Leder family keeps everyone in the same area, many in the same town, for generations.  My parents, sister, and brother-in-law, are only a mere 9-1/2 hour drive down south- only a 1-1/2 HOUR plane ride! It has also been wonderful for our kids to be so close to their cousins.  I love seeing Ezra and my nephew play and use their imaginations together. 

Makes you think National Geographic cover, right??
Little miss Vivienne just turned 3! Full of sass, attitude, and an unbelievable talent to be so adorable all at once- we sure are glad to have Vivi in our family! I can hardly believe that she's 3 already... and that I have a third baby on the way! Eek!
Vivienne's favorite..

  • color is purple
  • food is cucumbers and pickles. Oh and goldfish. duh.
  • beverage is chocolate milk
  • activity is playing in water (endless bathtime, sprinklers, the sink...)
  • show/movie are my little ponies and the book of life
  • book is "where's spot?"

She is a master of getting under Ezra's skin and making sure all the attention is on her. She loves to have the spotlight! She is our big talker.  I can hardly remember a time when she wasn't talking now.  She was an early bloomer when it came to talking! We thought she was an early bloomer when it came to using the potty, since she started wearing undies at around 18-20 months, but that has been a 1+ year process.  I guess some parents claim their children are potty trained when they use the potty 50% of the time, but until my kids are 100% day potty trained, I claim almost potty trained. So, as of one week now, she is 99% day potty trained! I'll take it. Potty training is my least favorite parenting venture.

Ezra is in preschool and a teacher's pet- they all love him! Unfortunately, preschool takes a lot of his time and energy, so come the end of the day, we have noticed a lot more attitude from our little guy. Nonetheless, he is such a good kid! I love this kiddo.  He will be so good with the new baby! I love his imagination and expressions.  This kid is so outgoing and social.  I never have to worry he won't make friends. We decided to "homeschool" him for kindergarten this upcoming year.  I say "homeschool" because I enrolled him in the Oregon Virtual Academy (ORVA) which is through  It is essentially public school brought to your home.  So, I'm not coming up with my own curriculum, but I do have a lot more active role in instruction and support.  We weren't really sure where we would end up after Carl and I graduate, and enrolling him in public school has been up for debate since we started having kids, so I figured, why not just try "in-between homeschooling" and see how he does? The one thing about Ezra's preschool is that I don't feel like he has been challenged enough.  I like the idea of him attending kindergarten for 2-4 hours a day so that we have more time to do activities he really wants to do like gymnastics or going to museums. And if I completely fail at this, at least it was just kindergarten. Ha! Good plan, I know.

my favorite 2014 picture!
Carl is doing great.  I am so proud of this guy. PA school has been crazy hard with long hours, but I'm so glad it's only a 26 month program, ending in July!! Carl has completed clinical rotations in family medicine, cardiology, women's health, internal medicine, and now currently emergency medicine.  I don't know how he does it some days! We have had good years and rough years, but 2015 is beginning to feel a little too good with all sorts of prayers answered.  No complaints here though, we are happy to be out of the mud for a bit!

I can finally see a time in our life where there is a solid plan and no moving to a new state.  I have loved our moving adventures over the last 7 years, seeing our country from coast to coast and getting to know people from all walks of life.  It has been a blessing.  Not many people can say they've lived in 7 states (13 moves? I keep losing count) in 7 years.  But- I am glad to say we are settling down in Oregon.  This is our home now.  Carl received two job offers this week, so we definitely will be staying in the area! That is probably are most exciting news!

I am surviving most days :) 26 is not very old, but something about have two kids and a baby on the way has aged my body. I guess I need to actually try harder to get back into tip-top shape after this baby is born.  This baby is very active and kicks me hard every hour.  The pregnancy has been quite different than my other two, namely the morning sickness for the first 20 weeks.  I am grateful for zofran but grateful to not be dependent on it any more.  I've actually had sciatic pain too- I can now relate to other moms in that matter.  It hurts a LOT.  My abdomen grew very quickly as well, so I have many more stretch marks than before. We are stoked to meet our tie-breaker in July though! Either way, baby girl or boy will be adorable and loved :)

This is my last and final semester as well! I am beyond excited to never go back to school if I don't want to.  I am glad to be finishing my BSN though.  It just needed to be done.  Overall, I'd say the workload hasn't been too horrendous and this semester is my (thankfully) lightest one, with only one class at 3.0 credits.  I took 9 credits in the fall and 7 credits last semester.  There is some busy work, but I'm at a point where I could care less if I get an A anymore. It's funny the things that used to matter don't really mean anything anymore.  I was working to get an A again last semester and was doing well until the last three weeks of the semester when I thought, "what am I trying to prove?" I knew I could do it, but why did I want it? Just to say "Boom! I got straight A's!" ? So I skipped all of my last few busy work assignments and received a beautiful B.  It was the best way to end my semester!

I hope you all are doing well! I look forward to chronicling our life more in upcoming months! We've had a trip to Spain, grandparent visits, and all sorts of fun :)