Monday, October 20, 2014

Life is BUSY!

Big shocker, right?  Everyone knows that life is busy!  This season of our lives is no different and yet it still seems to slap me in the face every now and then that it's passing like a freight train!  And at the same time some moments seem to move so sluggishly.

With taxi'ing kids back and forth to school half an hour each way during the week, house building, baby raising, and everything else in between I feel like I can't catch much of a break.  I have so many excuses for all the things I'm not doing lately.  Not blogging, not working out, not sleeping well, not eating like I should, not socializing, not catching up on favorite shows, not reading as much as I'd like, not keeping in touch via social media...

Thankfully we are still making time for family.  We took a few days off for Fall Break this past weekend and just got away with the kids.  There were moments of fighting and grouchy and yelling parents, but mostly it was just great time together making memories and experiencing some new things.  I need to remember to make more moments like that consistently, rather than only on vacation.

I can't wait until the house is finished and we are settled into our routines again and I feel like breathing is a little easier.  :)  In the meantime, I'm going to go snuggle my growing-like-a-weed baby girl and bathe my crazy monkey children.  I sure love these people of mine.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

We're Moving!!

Jason and I are finally buying our first HOME!  I could not be more excited!  It's been ten years of dreaming and planning and envying and preparing, but it's finally the right time and we found the right place.

We will pay our last month of rent in August when we move in with my parents so that the kids can start at their new school while we wait for the house to be finished.  Hopefully we will close mid November and spend the holidays in our beautiful new home.  Have I mentioned I'm excited?

In the mean time, we are making lots of design decisions and planning and preparing for our big move.  If anyone still reads this, be prepared for lots of home progress posts in the future months!!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014


 Miss Ellison Beth Ralls

Born on Sunday, March 2nd at 5:43am.

She weighed 7 pounds 4 ounces and was 21 inches long.

 She is perfect and beautiful and we are so, so very in love with this little lady!

And now, for those who want the gory details you may read on where I have recorded her birth story.  It's LONG and super personal, but there are pictures of my pretty babies.  :)

In the Spring of 2013 I had just started working out and training to run.  Not any big runs, just a simple 5k.  But it was something I'd never done before and I was so excited when I actually accomplished that goal.

That same day after coming home from my first 5k, I took a positive pregnancy test.  I was so unsure about having number four.  I was so nervous about sacrificing my body and emotions for nine months an then starting over with the sleep deprivation and diapers.  Jason and I were enjoying focusing on each other and I knew a new baby would force us to be on the back burner for a little while.  But I also knew that this was what Heavenly Father wanted for our family and that I would do what He asked of me.

It happened so quickly, and really almost miraculously.  I hardly had time to digest it.  But almost immediately I felt strongly that this little being had a divine purpose and I was grateful to be a part of it.

The first few months were rough.  I was sick and tired.  Then things got easy and I enjoyed being pregnant.  But reality smacked me in the face for those last few months.  No.  Not a smack in the face.  A kick.  Or a slew of kicks.  To the crotch and ribs.  All.  The.  Time.  I was big and miserable.  I had horrible heartburn.  I threw up daily.  I was emotional and tired.  I woke so many times at night to pee, shift positions, throw up, whatever it was.  I was so over being pregnant!!

Jason was out of town working for those last two weeks of this pregnancy, but one night I noticed bloody show (sorry for the TMI) when I went to the bathroom.  I knew this meant that labor could start any time, so I called my doula, Elisabeth, to see what she thought.  After talking, I decided to call Jason and have him head home from work a few days early, just to be safe.

I was 39 weeks pregnant on Thursday.  Jason got home in the early morning hours of Friday.  We spent the day getting last minute things done around the house.  We attended my cousin's daughter's baptism on Saturday and then I told Jason we were going to spend the day "running errands".  We were just going to go shop around or whatever and I was going to walk until the baby fell out. 

By the end of shopping on Saturday I was sore and tired and emotionally spent.  I just wanted to go home and go to bed.  And I did.

Then at 3am I woke up.  I felt a contraction on my way to use the bathroom.  When I sat down on the toilet I had two more.  They were more intense for some reason when I sat on the toilet.  I lost the rest of my mucus plug and was having contractions two minutes apart.  I knew this was the real deal, but it wasn't too intense yet.  

After about half an hour I decided to wake Jason and let him know.  We decided to get things ready to go even though I didn't think I'd be ready to head to the birth center for a while.  I kept telling Jason they weren't that bad and that this was definitely not going to be as fast as Lucas's birth (3 hours and 45 minutes).

Payson and Lucas both woke up while we were getting things ready so they laid in our bed watching cartoons.  I called my midwife around 3:45am and told her I wasn't ready to come in yet, but that I was definitely in labor.  She said she'd need one hour warning to get things ready at the birth center.  After about 15 minutes I called her back and told her to get things ready now.  I wasn't sure how long things would be and my contractions still weren't very intense, but they were only 2 minutes apart.  I wanted to play it safe.

I also called my doula and let her know what was going on, and then called my parents to have my mom come stay with the kids.

At about 4am, both parents and three of my 4 siblings walked through the door.  I had expected my mom who was watching the kids, and my younger sister, Madie who was planning to attend the birth.  But everyone wanted in on the action.  :)  We hung around and chatted between contractions for about 20-30 minutes. 

 Just before leaving, I had Jason and my dad give me a blessing.  During that blessing, I strongly felt the presence of my grandmother, my dad's mom, with me.

The birth center was about 10-15 minutes away and I had called the midwives at 3:45am, so we left at about 4:30.

Now, during each of my pregnancies I had said I wanted to try to do it naturally.  No drugs.  With Payson, my water broke a month early before labor began.  They eventually started pitocin and by the time I was at 3 cm I was ready to quit!  With Jack I made it to 7-8 cm before I asked for the epidural.  With Lucas, by the time I got the epidural I was actually 10 cm.  I was saying I needed to push while the anesthesiologist was putting the epi in my back.  I knew that Payson's situation was a little different, but I'd always been disappointed in myself with Lucas and Jack's births.  I was almost done!  I could have done it!

So this time around I was very determined.  I knew I needed more support for a natural birth.  I read a lot of natural birth materials, got the hypnobabies home study course, hired a doula, and found a fantastic freestanding birth center with amazing midwives and midwife students where I would deliver.  This way I had no option to ask for an epidural.  :)

Anyway, we arrived at the birth center at about 4:45am.  The birth tub was being filled.  My midwife, Teresa was getting some paperwork ready.  My doula Elisabeth was there waiting and the students as well (Laura and Adrianna).

They got my vitals and listened to baby.  They offered to check me if I wanted, but I declined at this point.  I hadn't been checked at all this pregnancy, knowing that my body was probably dilated and effaced, but for me it didn't mean much.  With my others I was dilated up to 4 cm for weeks before labor began.  And at this point in labor I didn't want to be disappointed if I wasn't as far as I thought I "should" be.  

I kept wondering if I came too soon.  I knew I was in labor, but just felt like it was still early.  Should I have continued to labor at home?  I apologized to everyone for waking them and keeping them from church later that morning.  When I'd have a contraction, I would stand and wrap my arms around Jason's neck and sway or "dance".  At some point I started chanting "ooooh" or "oooooookay" through contractions.  I allowed my body to go completely loose and limp with mental cues/key words, the way I had practiced with hypnobabies.  Jason was the perfect partner, always emotionally and physically right there when I needed him.

At one point I sat down on a couch and my contractions stalled.  I mentioned this to my midwife and she casually suggested that I stay up then, if I wanted to keep things moving!  So I did.

After a few minutes I wondered about getting into the tub.  I wasn't sure I was ready, but I asked anyway.  Adrianna said she could check me if I wanted and I said yes.  When I went to lay on the bed, I almost immediately sat up.  I had another contraction and it did NOT feel good to lay down on my back!  I tried one more time, but the contractions were coming closer together at that point and I just didn't want to lie down!

Suddenly my contractions were right on top of each other.  I was on my knees on the bed and asked someone to grab my exercise ball and blanket.  I threw the blanket over the ball and leaned forward on the ball, going as limp and loose as I could through contractions.  I mentioned to Adrianna that I was NOT going to be lying down to get checked.  She mentioned that she could just check me where I was, but that I sounded like I was ready to get in the tub.

Someone helped pull off my sweatpants at that point so she could quickly check me.  Baby's head was "right there".  I remember being shocked at how close her head felt!  I hadn't thought I was that far along!  I asked if I could get in the tub and Adrianna said, "Oh, honey, if you're going to get in the tub you need to do it NOW."

But by the point there was no way I was going to get up and walk to the tub.  Teresa, Laura, and Adrianna left the room for a bit to let me continue to labor.  Madie was in the waiting area with them.  Jason tried putting pressure on my lower back through one contraction, but I quickly told him not to touch me!  It hurt!  I wanted to be left alone during a contraction, but he and Elisabeth rubbed my back between them, which helped.

It was really only a few moments that they were gone before I said to Jason that I felt the need to push.  He quickly told everyone and they all came rushing back in.  That's when my body took over.  It was not pushing like I did with the other kids.  No nurse counted and told me what to do or when to do it.  A contraction would start and my body would bare down.  I moaned through each contraction and Elisabeth helped remind me to keep my voice low and grounded whenever it got too high.  I could feel the difference in how effective the pushing was when she did this.  

I could feel my pelvis separating to make room for my baby.  I felt her moving down.  For a moment again I sensed my grandmother there, ushering my little girl from one place to the next.  It was a moment I will never forget.  There was an amazing spirit in the room.  My body, mind, and spirit worked together with this little girl and did exactly what it needed to do.  Jason and Elisabeth stood at my head, encouraging me.  Adrianna and Laura were behind me.  They quickly called Madie into the room to make sure she didn't miss this miracle.  

And then as quickly as it began, it was done!  There was intense pressure and pain and burning and then nothing.  Adrianna had guided my baby to the bed and I stayed, a little shaky, leaning on the exercise ball.  I kept saying, "It's over?  We're done?  I did it?  She's here?  Is it really over?  Did I really do it?  I can't believe I did it!"  Over and over and over again.  I was amazed!  Amazed at what my body and this little baby had just done.  Just completely in awe of the entire experience.

I was so grateful that no one rushed anything.  I was allowed those moments of awe before my baby girl was passed through my legs and we were helped into a comfortable position, lying there together, still connected.

I just stared at her tiny little body and features, still wondering and amazed.  I really couldn't believe it!  It was 5:43am.  Just an hour had passed since we'd arrived at the birth center.  I'd only been awake for 2 hours and 45 minutes!  And here she was, my sweet baby girl, in my arms already!  And she and I had done just what our amazing bodies were meant to do.  We had been an amazing team.

After a little while, I delivered the placenta, easily.  Jason and Madie cut her cord together.  Ellison was weighed and measured.  I got cleaned up, went to the bathroom, and got dressed.  I was a little tired and shaky, but I felt amazing!  I climbed back into bed with my sleeping baby and we all just stared at her and talked about what had just happened.  I'm still pretty amazed at it all.

Eventually Brennan, Maren, Jack, and Payson came to meet Ellison.  Lucas had fallen asleep and was home with Grandma.  These two were beyond thrilled to meet their baby sister.

It was only about 3 hours after her birth that we took Ellison home.  There she met big brother Lucas and Grandma.

We spent the rest of that day with the family.  Uncle Devin and Grandpa (who had to leave for bishop meetings earlier) got to meet our little sweetheart.  We lounged around and snuggled the baby and ate yummy food and just enjoyed every moment of the day.

I was thrilled to not be pregnant anymore!  I cold fully empty my bladder, eat as much as I wanted without heartburn, and hug my husband without a belly between us!  It was wonderful!

 (Ellison, dressed to come home, just hours old)

And now today Ellison is one month old!  A MONTH!  I don't know how the time has flown by so quickly!  My recovery went so well.  It was quick and easy!  She is a relatively easy baby.  We are sleep deprived, but otherwise so happy!  Everyone has adjusted to this new addition pretty easily, even Lucas.  :)

Immediately after her birth I could not imagine how I ever almost didn't want another baby.  My life would be so incomplete without my sweet number four!  I love this little girl with all of my heart!  She has us all completely smitten.  

I am so lucky to have these babies of mine and watch them grow!  I love them so much!  Jason and I are lucky, lucky, lucky to have them and to have each other.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Nobody Blogs Anymore...Including Me.

Life is generally busy and we have plenty going on, so why is it I find it so hard to keep up with blogging these days?  I don't know what it is, but the rest of you aren't doing it either so I feel less guilty about my lack of journaling.

So much has happened since I last blogged and I still have to upload pictures to my computer from half of the big events.  

We had a great Halloween.  Jack was a cowboy, Payson was an Indian Princess, and Lucas was Peter Pan.  They were adorable and had a blast at class parties and parades, and trick or treating in Grandma and Grandpa's neighborhood on the trailer behind the four-wheeler.  Although this year the four-wheeler broke down halfway through and the kids were devastated to learn they would have to WALK like the other neighborhood kids.  Poor things.  :)

Next was Thanksgiving which was just at Grandma's this year.  We've gone out of town every year for the last several years and it was nice to just be home this year.  Apparently I have no pictures uploaded of the grand event yet.

Up next was Christmas!!  We kept things super simple this year.  We didn't change any of our Christmas traditions, but we kept the getting to a minimum and focused on the giving.  I thought the kids would be disappointed with how little they received but they were beyond grateful and even said it was the best Christmas ever!  I was so proud of their giving attitudes this year.  I think they were right.  This year may have been our best Christmas yet.

After Christmas we celebrated New Year's at home.  We were all sick.  I bought a few party hats and blowers and some treats and things for the kids, but it was just them and mom this year.  Jason was working, close family was out of town, and we didn't want to spread our germs.  Despite everything, we all had a good time ringing in the New Year.

January is a big birthday month in our family.  Mom and Dad plus Grandma and Grandpa and Payson all have January birthdays!  So we end up doing Payson's thing and one big family dinner birthday party for the month and call it good.  Payson chose to celebrate with her friends at Color Me Mine this year.  The kids had a blast painting and we had pizza and cupcakes, per her request.  I just love this 9 year old girl!  I love watching her grow up.  She's a pretty amazing kid, but you already know that if you know her.

February has been a pretty busy month so far as well.  We've spent these last couple of weeks prepping as much as possible for this baby girl to join our family.  I'm now about 38 weeks pregnant and feeling it!  Just about everything that can be done in preparation for the baby is done.  Everything has been pulled from storage and washed and set up and packed and whatever.  We're down to the waiting part.

Here's the kicker, though.  I've got about 2 weeks to go...and Jason left for work this morning...for two weeks.  Awesome.  So I'm praying that either baby waits for daddy, or my labor is just long enough for him to make it home.  Worst case scenario, if Jason happens to miss it I have a great support team and I'm sure things will go fine.  It will make for a story to tell later.

So I'm physically and emotionally prepared for an early delivery as well as the torture of a late one as well.  And with my track record lately, the next time you'll hear from me here is when baby girl is about 6 months old!  Ha!