Six months here

This week marks 6 months living in the UK and just 4 months in our home. We’ve already had the opportunity to travel many places and see some incredible things. We love our home and little town. Mostly, I love how being so far removed from all things familiar has turned our attention, hearts, and time inward on our own family and upward to who has given us such a gift. After many years of schooling and training for Andrew, this time and opportunity is much needed and so very appreciated.

Much about living in the UK is similar as in the states but there are also SO many differences. My day-to-day flow looks much different than it did in the prior few years. We are home. We are walking everywhere. We are cooking everything. I’m finding great joy in being a homemaker and “owning” my title as such with gratefulness. Truthfully, it’s taking every bit of my time, attention, energy, and self to do so. Three young kiddos with little to no local support network is challenging! But we are finding ourselves more deeply in this season as we simply DO life. Cleaning, cooking, weekly walking into town on market days for many of our fresh foods, walking children to and from school, hand-washing and drying dishes (EDIT- we finally just got a dishwasher… halleluia!) , often line-drying clothes (our dryer takes 3-4 hours… on nice days, line drying is just more efficient), and finding every opportunity to guide and teach the children in many areas of life is indeed so life-giving.

We’ve been enjoying our day-by-day bible reading, our castle building, our coloring and creating, home-learning, crafts, our fiddling with guitars, dance parties, baking together, and most of all- adventure days!

There is such a vast array of adventure spots; it is unreal. You could never be “bored” here. Never. History surrounds us on every corner. Incredible architecture stands in every direction. The routine to life I’ve so longed for that residency did not allow for has nearly found us. We are almost there. We’ve mostly now become used to the Monday-Friday work-week and flow that Andrew now has. What a gift!!! I had no idea the difference that would make in our family, but it does. It’s incredible and so much more manageable for me to get through the week with a more positive attitude when I know he’ll be with us over the weekend before we start the week over again.

School for our oldest has been the absolute best blessing. We’ve always known she needed more. Those who know her, know. She’s just more. Perhaps this is yet another way God has paved the way for us to be here. Full time school at the age of just barely 4 when she started is a gift to us and to her. As far as we know and can tell, she’s thriving and learning an incredible amount. Best of all, she loves school.

She’s reading, she’s creating, she’s enjoying learning. It’s amazing to watch. She’s still our ever-so-passionate, energy-filled, wild little girl and I presume will always be. It’s a full time job fostering her little heart, mind, and soul in the right direction. But what a joy to watch her succeed and to give her these opportunities.

Our son has really blossomed in the past 6 months. He was hardly talking when we moved here and now will hardly stop. It’s marvelous. He has a great imagination and loves telling stories, singing, playing trains, helping others, and is still just as obsessed with his baby sister. He’s learning to be such a gentleman and he’s my best tea drinker of the bunch. He’s truly something special.

Little Rosie is sweet as ever. She may not be a great night sleeper, but I can’t complain as she’s just incredible in every other way. She’s really brought such joy to our home and we all smile more because of her.



Our Hop Across the Pond

What a crazy few months it has been. From having baby #3, receiving a last minute change of assignment for Andrew, to moving to a new country.... we are now just beginning to see what real life will look like. This bizarre, awesome, stressful, and amazing adventure to a new chapter in our family's life is much under way. Having been here (In England!!!!) for about 6 weeks we can just now begin to breathe a bit easier.

I will never forget the few minutes surrounding us getting out of our beloved mini van at the San Francisco airport preparing to hop across the pond. Children in matching jammies and all. The weeks leading up to our departure were pure chaos. I was over the top exhausted and here we were unloading our three tiny children (at that time, aged almost 3 months, 2, and 3) and the seemingly ridiculous amount of luggage, car seats, and strollers we thought we’d need in the coming 3-4 months until our household goods arrived. Eight pieces. Eight pieces of checked baggage. We were allotted up to 5 per person (that would be 25 for our family!!- yikes).

The only thing I could utter in my mind during those insane few minutes was, “what the ***heck are we doing!!??!?”

Tears filled my eyes but there was no time for that. No time at all. There had been no time for that since the moment I received the call about the quick change of plans (we were all prepared to move to Florida instead). And so, I swallowed the tears. Swallowed the harsh words that were in the forefront of my mind, and I grabbed tight to my children’s hands. That’s what they needed. That’s what I needed. We ARE doing this. We ARE moving across the world with three tiny humans alongside. We DON’T have a home to move into. We WON’T have a home for who knows how long. We have NO idea what we are doing. But we have each other. We have orders in hand. I have a job to do. I must literally keep calm and press on. And I did. Because I had (& have) something even greater. I had peace. Overwhelming peace.

In the midst of complete craziness and the whirlwind of logistics and arrangements and tearful see-you-laters, I had a peace that could only come from the Lord. When fear would creep in (as in that moment arriving at the airport), I was re-directed and overcome with the calming presence of the holy spirit.

So, we are here. We are learning. We are adjusting. We are finally getting a bit more sleep. We are exploring. We are together. And we are leaning on the grace of God and counting this chapter a gift. It must be. It has to be. And being here, I see that it truly is.

Birth Story: Rose Emaline

What a special day this was. I will forever cherish and treasure the memory of Rose's birth. We are fortunate to have the day beautifully captured by Nicole at Heart + Soul Unscripted.

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After a night of hardly two hours of sleep (thanks to nerves, being very pregnant, and our 3 year old turning on every light in the house at midnight looking for the pony she fell asleep with), we arrived at the hospital bright and early Wednesday morning for Rose's birth. For a number of reasons, we decided to go forward with induction on this day.

My dear mother even drove out off base the night before to get my coffee order (sans ice) to chill over night in the fridge so that I could be firing on full throttle the next morning. That's love.

We got all checked in, and I loved the fact that I could prepare my birth space the way I wanted and felt might be most helpful for me. This included setting up my essential oil diffuser, starting my "labor day" playlist on the bluetooth speaker (which consisted mostly of worship music), tucking clutter and bags to the side, and placing verse encouragement cards where I could see them.

My ultimate goal and birth plan consisted of- "healthy mom, healthy baby."  But my heart of heart's birth plan was to have this precious babe without an epidural. Being the nurse that I am though- I did my best not to obsess over this or make a big deal of it. If it came to me needing one, I wouldn't hesitate. I also knew that it being an induction (on pitocin) could potentially make this goal a bit more difficult to reach, but again- I didn't focus on that.

The pitocin was started by 8am and then began the waiting game. We walked the halls, bounced on the peanut ball, walked some more, swayed at the bedside, did hip-dips like crazy (trying to aid in optimal positioning). The pit was increased per standards until we were getting to quite a higher dosage and my contractions (though pretty regular and ideally spaced) were still just not painful. Around 12:15pm, my sweet doctor was able to break my waters in hopes of getting active labor truly started.  I was only maybe 3-4cm at the absolute most. I knew there was no going back at this point (& we then called in our wonderful birth photographer, Nicole).

By the time she arrived, things had gotten real and I was working hard through the contractions. My goal once active labor hit was this- keep moving, don't lay down, just keep moving and changing position. This worked beautifully with Abram and I knew it would this time too. Besides that, laying down was the last thing that sounded helpful or comfortable. Swaying and leaning over the bed with back pressure (with my heated rice bag) was extremely helpful.

The tears were falling and I was most definitely in pain. Andrew was the calm, quiet, and constant support I needed.

The plan had been for my doctor to come back in 2 hours after breaking my water to re-check me.  She did come back. But she did not check me as she kindly explained that she didn't want to disappoint me (& I was maybe only 5 or 6cm at this point). I won't lie when I say this was extremely discouraging to me as I was already shaking and nauseous feeling (how I've felt during transition with both Bonnie and Abram).

She then asked if I wanted to get in the shower (as I had mentioned wanting to at appointments prior). Thankfully, I insisted on the waterproof and wireless monitoring before labor ever started. To the shower I went.

***Consider this your warning. Though modest, uncensored images of Rosie being born are below***

Each contraction brought greater and greater pain. I sat for just a few minutes but that seemed incredibly uncomfortable. The warmth and sensation of the water was helpful as I continued working through each wave knowing that they were bringing me closer and closer to meeting Rosie.

It wasn't but 45 minutes later that the sudden feeling of intense pressure began. Though I felt like I was getting close to needing to push, I began to doubt myself. Less than an hour earlier, I was encouraged that a longer road was ahead and I still had quite a ways to go. A few contractions later (through the screaming. Oh yes, I'm a loud laborer.... no shame!), I called out for someone to go get help. In my mind, I knew there were towels behind Andrew and that he very well may be helping me catch this baby any minute. Nicole (birth photographer) ran out for help and Andrew reached up to check me (bless him). Yep, babe was coming and I wasn't moving anywhere.

Just prior to this, I was feeling at my breaking point. How on earth could things be this real, this painful, this intense and still so long to go I kept thinking. I believe it was at this point that I was literally crying out, "Lord Jesus, help me."

And it was indeed time.

There was no halting the urge to push. I was relieved to hear my doctor run in. My doc, RN, and Andrew helped gently guide me down to hands and knees for more pushing. I so appreciated Andrew's soft instructions helping as I was struggling to open my hips/legs.

So, there on the shower floor (gross!?), my doctor and RN at my rear (they should win an award or something for just going with the flow and jumping in- literally), Andrew in front, Rose was born. Out she came and my doc instructed me to reach down and help grab her. Oh what an empowering moment!!

She was safely out. Adrenaline rushing, wet from the shower, bleeding, there I sat holding our babe.  All the while, supported and literally held up by my doctor (seriously- she should win an award) on the shower floor.

Babe stunned and myself in so much pain, they took Rosie over to the warmer to continue pinking up. She was just fine. I stood to deliver the placenta and was assisted back to the perfectly untouched bed. They brought Rosie over to me and I remember thinking, "oh my goodness, did that really just happen!?"

Rose was born plump and perfect. Weighing in at 8lbs 5 ounces, she's our biggest babe to date. Oh she's simply perfect. Through the after-pains (they for reals get worse with each babe), I remember feeling so relieved that she was here safely, quickly, and well.

My mom brought the big kids to meet their baby sister. Oh what a joyous time this was.

You never know how meeting new siblings will go, but I don't think it could have gone any better. Abram in particular is quite possibly obsessed with his baby sister and this blesses my heart more than I can even express.

Reflecting back on Rose's birth day, I couldn't be more grateful for how it all happened. I felt very safe and confident that we were in the hospital through it all and could get the help and support we needed if anything wasn't going well. Compared to Abram's birth (primarily laboring at home and arriving to L&D with 3 minutes to spare), I felt a much greater peace. Having seen & cared for mamas & babies with complications, I respect and know full well all of the possibilities of the birth process. Yes, birth is natural and beautiful, but it isn't always straight forward and complications do happen. I couldn't have asked for a better team that day. The staff pretty much let me be and supported what I wanted. All the while hooked up to pitocin and properly monitored, she was born just as I would have dreamed it. With my worship music blasting, my mind stayed focused. Oh it was simply beautiful and I'm SO grateful. Thank you Lord for a healthy baby.

We brought sweet Rosie home from the hospital 24 hours later and began life as a family of five.

(I was able to snap a few photos in the hospital before heading home).

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Stay tuned for Newborn session photos & more on the latest HUGE change to our summer moving plans.