Monday, January 31, 2011

Grandma Nancy

My mom came over to have dinner with us last night (orange chicken- it was really yummy.) Before she left we corralled everyone in for a picture. Here she is with HALF of her grandkids. Thanks for a fun night Grandma Nancy.

(Thanks for going cross-eyed Noah. Little goober.)


SOMEbody got a hold of the camera the other day and took these pictures of Rachel. We have a partial divider wall between our office and staircase that has a flat tile top that the kids like to (but aren't supposed to) climb up on.
The angle of these shots tells me that whoever was taking the pictures was up high... (i.e. on the wall)
...and then zoomed in.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Blossoming Talent

Ashlee is continuing to work on her piano skills and practices new songs regularly. Her goal is to be the Young Women's pianist at church in one year, so she has been working extensively from the Hymn's book. Here she is playing "Israel, Israel God is Calling." (Authentic version below.)

And of course you have to have a little fun, so here she is playing "Breathe" by Taylor Swift. (She's a Taylor fan; authentic version below.)

Saturday, January 29, 2011

And the Doctor Says...

It's still a boy.

And everything else looks great.

After a very tiring 4 hours of appointments yesterday, we were reassured that all is well (and we can still call our baby Anthony.)

My OB referred me for an ultrasound the same day, so it was a lot of back-and-forth between offices.

By law a physician can not provide shadow care if a woman is planning to deliver at home, so in order to keep the appointment I had to fudge and say that we were "undecided" as to where we would be delivering. She was very warm and friendly, but there's pretty much no question in our decision. We have to follow our hearts, and our hearts belong to... homebirth.

It was fun to see our baby again on an ultrasound, and he's so big now that he fills up the screen! He has a cute profile and dainty nose, just like Rachel and Noah. I am especially thankful this time around for a healthy baby, and will be more appreciative than ever before to have him in my arms. My OB did order a full pregnancy panel on me to rule out certain birth defects and other things, so I will probably head down to the lab next week for that. I was too exhausted after yesterday's appointments.

Speaking of exhausted, I think I'll use the last bit of energy I gleaned from that Haagen-Dazs I just ate and go finish my laundry. Sunday can't come soon enough this week...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


It's been years since I've had my nails done. It used to be a part of my routine back when I was working and going to school, but since becoming a stay-at-home-mom I've sort of abandoned that tradition. Well maybe it's a last-pregnancy thing, but lately I've had the urge to get them done again. So when I found out that the Mom's club I used to be a part of was having a Mom's Night Out tonight to the salon, I hopped on board. I chose a full set of gel nails in a french manicure, while sitting alongside friends and chatting. They feel wonderful and look so shiny! I feel like a receptionist as I sit here typing. I hope I can look forward to more of this...there's something to be said for pampering.

Healthy Peanut Butter Cups

I came across this recipe at a Healthy Cooking class years ago and finally got around to trying it. It's not quite what you would get from a traditional peanut butter cup in terms of indulgence, but the nutritional boost it packs far surpasses any other recipe.

Healthy Peanut Butter Cups

2 c. wheat germ
8 oz. peanut butter (freshly ground is best.)
1/2 c. honey
1 bag carob or grain-sweetened chocolate chips
(okay, I confess, I used Nestle Tollhouse.
I love carob but it is so darn expensive.)

Mix first three ingredients and spread into 9" square pan.
Melt chips and spread over top. Refrigerate.
These are just satisfying enough without being over-indulgent. Now when I am having a craving I can get my fix without feeling (as) bad.

A Beautiful Morning

Nothing says compensation for an 8:00 trip to the dentist like Jamba Juice and the park. It was a beautiful morning.

The boys went in and had their first cavities filled today. I stood behind their chairs and watched them get their shots, and they didn't even flinch. They could not have done any better. What made me laugh was seeing the left side of Noah's mouth paralyzed as he told me, "Mom, my mouth's not numb anymore," and flashed me a crooked smile. Smile...

Monday, January 24, 2011

Pizza Night

Who needs to wait for the weekend to have pizza night?

One of our favorite dinners is homemade pizzas, and the kids especially enjoy making their own. I made the dough in my bread machine (whole wheat, of course) and found this awesome recipe for exquisite pizza sauce. Seriously, I don't usually get this excited over pizza sauce, but this recipe rivals Round Table's, and that says a lot coming from me (I pledge my loyalty to Round Table.) I think the pizazz in the sauce comes from two secret ingredients- honey and organic garlic. Yummm.

Anyhow, I laid all of the ingredients out on the table, gave each of the kids a ball of dough, and let them go to town. It's interesting to see how each of them created their own unique pizzas based on their personal likes.

These were too good and I am ashamed to say I polished off my pizza in its entirety (followed by a few chocolate chip cookies.) I am feeling a little bit of remorse at the moment, but tomorrow it's back on the bandwagon. For what it's worth, I blame the sauce...

Multiplication in 1st Grade?

Multiplication popped up in Jacob's math book today, so I thought we'd sit down for a mini-lesson.

The supplies: a box of Mathlink cubes (one of my favorite homeschool manipulatives) and our trustee whiteboard.
I started by explaining the symbol for multiplication, and that instead of saying "times," we could replace it with "groups of." (Thank you Saxon math!)

So for 2 x 2, we would read "two groups of two." Then Jacob would snap the mathlink cubes together, and I would ask him to count how many total.
We then revised our "groups of" sentences to read as multiplication problems (making the connection.) Now, I am hoping that when he sees
2 x 2 in his math book, he will read it as "two groups of two" in his head and it will make sense. It's all about giving the concrete example.

Then we moved on to groups of 5.

At the end, I gave him a challenge by writing out the multiplication problems without the words. Sure enough, he automatically read them as "one group of two equals two, two groups of two equals four," and so forth. I also had him continue to show me with the cubes as reinforcement.
All in all, we spent about 20 minutes on this lesson, and he understands it completely. I am confident that he has a concrete understanding of multiplication that will give him the ability to progress on to more challenging problems. Teaching your kids may not always be this easy, but it's always worth it.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Another Farmer's Market Day

Every Saturday I look forward to going to the Farmer's Market. This weekend I was able to go with a friend, which made for an even more enjoyable time. Here is what I picked up:

Bok Choy
(my personal favorite)

Onion and Garlic
(Have you ever tried organic home grown garlic?
It's amazing.)

Brussel sprouts
(These are a love/hate item. Either you love them,
or you hate them. My family happens to
fall into the former category.
BUT, I must say in their defense, if you haven't
tried them from the Farmer's Market, you need
to do so before you formulate your opinion.)

Red potatoes



Kiwi fruit

So what do I plan on doing with all of this earth-grown yumminess? Here are some ideas:

*Boy Choy is my favorite for lunch. I sautee it in a pan with some oil and garlic, then season with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, salt, and pepper. It's also excellent in a stir-fry.

*Brussel Sprouts are so good for you and way under-rated. My family loves them roasted in a 400 degree oven with some oil, salt, and pepper. You don't need much more seasoning than that for Farmer's Market produce, as it is so delicious in itself.

*I have an excellent recipe for honey mustard roasted potatoes that will probably go alongside one of our dinners this week.

*Broccoli is good steamed with a little salt and butter, or stir-fried. Farmer's Market broccoli is exceptionally tender and flavorful, much different than what you buy in the store.

*Spinach- I love it creamed, (I do the simple version with just cream, pepper, and a little nutmeg) or sauteed with garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper. This is another one of my lunch favorites.

I'm on my third week of healthier eating, and what a difference I feel. Almost immediately I noticed an increase in energy and a clearer mind. Someone made a comment in church the other day that when we put good foods into our body, it leads to good thoughts and positive actions. Conversely, when we put bad foods into our body, it causes us to feel bad about ourselves, creates negative thoughts, and carries over into other aspects of our lives. Something to think about...

Thursday, January 20, 2011

20 Weeks

Well here we are at the mid point. My uterus measures 20 cm. as of yesterday's prenatal, dead-on where I'm supposed to be. My net weight gain is about 1-2 lbs., being that I initially lost 6 lbs. then gained it back, plus 2. So I guess you could say I've gained 8. I notice a big increase in my energy level, which now lasts all day instead of in spurts. A healthier diet has also helped to fuel this. I am not exercising, largely due to the scare we had 6 weeks ago. At that point I decided I was going to treat this pregnancy as high-risk. I will, however, be anxiously anticipating a 5K come October, and half-marathon training in 2012. It's a small price to pay.
Emotionally, I am not yet mourning the fact that this is a last pregnancy. I am very excited and anticipating the birth, and I think the nostalgia will set in after delivery. In all honesty, it is difficult for me to digest that I am closing this chapter of my life, but I'm not at the end yet. I am counting on bigger and better things to come along and take its place. There was a time when I really thought life would be over when I was done having kids, but I have since re-adjusted my mentality. I need only look to other women in the church (and my step-mom) to see that all seasons in life have their glory. And with 6 kids and potentially oodles of grandkids, who am I to think that I will ever slow down?? Providing this baby is still a boy when we go in for our next ultrasound, we have decided on a name:

Anthony Jordan Hart

I strongly felt that if this baby were a boy, Forrest needed to choose the name, so I gave him the honor. We liked Jordan because it keeps in line with the theme of biblical names for our boys, and at the same time Anthony provides the option of a nickname.

Well, not much else to report at this time. The second trimester is always kind of a honeymoon period. I did decide to seek supplementary care from an OB doctor, whom I will see next week. I am hoping for a more in-depth analysis of what we saw on the ultrasound and maybe a bit more of an explanation as to why we experienced the complications. However, no news would be good news. We are eagerly anticipating another homebirth providing all is well to go forward with such. My midwife is a saint, and as always I am so thankful to be in her care.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Fast Food

Or rather, good food... fast.
After a long morning at the dentist and coming home to a full day's worth of school work, I needed a good lunch and I needed it fast. I had only had my Mother's Tea for breakfast and was in need of some nourishment. So, while the kids munched on their hot dogs and apple slices, I cooked up a concoction of vegetables. I simply heated some oil in a pan on the stove, and sliced up the following: a handful of small white potatoes, half of a red bell pepper, some bok choy, and a carrot. I seasoned the mixture with blackened seasoning (tastes like cajun,) salt and pepper, and a squeeze of lemon juice when it was done cooking. This was a satisfying meal. It was hearty enough with the potatoes, but light enough with all the other fresh veggies. It gave me just enough energy to get through the afternoon, took only a few minutes to prepare, and was a nice deviation from the usual green salad. Who says fast food can't be good food?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Dad Says it All...

...and makes it all right.

(In case you missed this in the comment section, it bears repeating.)

"Strength comes from being "BRUTALLY HONEST" and "COMPASSION" comes from thinking ahead for those that you may hurt in being 'BRUTALLY HONEST".
I am the Very Proud Dad of two grown daughters that have gone on to create their own families and have given me 10 plus “ONE”, grandchildren. I am the very lucky man that has two grown daughters that represent both "BRUTALLY HONEST" AND "COMPASSION". I also have three more children at home.
If we lived "ON" the perfect world, then we should always have to answer to "BRUTALLY HONEST". But, God made it perfectly clear that this world would always be a home for challenges, in expressing our God Given Talents. This is why God, gave us” Freewill”. He also gave us the gift of Compassion.
I agree with Lisa in the fact that there are those that take advantage of modern medicine and use it to "FIT THEIR RUSHED LIVES “, and this is not what God intended for the Talents to be used for. However, God did give some the "Talent" to be used as a means to bring his children from Heaven to Earth for reasons that are only known to him.
It is not for us to judge the outcome of these events! It should be our choice to assist in the outcome in a positive manner that displays “Compassion” to all involved.
It is also important to display Honesty in our expressions so that our thoughts with God are always present in who we are.
I am surely a Blessed Father in all of the above!
God Bless All."

There are no words, Dad, except may we never be too brutal yet never lose the strength to be honest.

Monday, January 17, 2011


Okay, so I thought I was done blogging about my girls then Vera sent me these from last night. I couldn't leave them out!
Uncle Tommy put her on a chair with some pillows, and she kept laying her head down on them. It was so cute!
Always happy with Sis.
And Sis can't get enough of her.
Thanks Vera!

Sugar and Spice and Everything.....hmmm....Nice!

I absolutely love having three girls. They are so alike yet so different. I very much see Ashlee's stamp on the younger two; Kaitlyn's hair is reminiscent of two-year-old Ashlee, and Rachel has inherited her big eyes. However, they possess unique differences only a mother could know.

On Sunday, Kaitlyn received this hand-made baby sling as a belated birthday gift from Tiffany. She wanted to wear it right away, and was eager to place her new baby doll in it when we got home.
I am absolutely loving this age with Rachel. She is more independent, crawls all over the place, and is always happy. Give this girl a full belly and a good nap, and she's good to go.
All the kids take turns giving her a bottle. She is usually in-arms, but here I caught her loungin'. This girl looooves her bottle.
We met up with some friends for a park play date and walk around the lake, which pretty much did Rachel in. This is her on the way home (sorry, you'll have to tilt your head to the left. I took this with my cell phone and couldn't figure out how to flip it.)
I took both of the girls in on Friday to get their first vaccinations, and Kaitlyn is still recovering. They got the "cocktail," so I'm sure her immune system took quite a hit. Poor girl's been under the weather ever since, but at least I can breathe easy knowing they'll soon be caught up. Whooping cough? Thank you, no thank you.

And finally, what happens when I let my kids get a hold of the camera:

I love my girls!

Jacob's 7- party!!!!!

Jacob's 7, and on Saturday we celebrated.

It's kind of funny, but the night before his party he told me worriedly, "Mom, my party's tomorrow, shouldn't we be doing more to plan it?"

I had to explain that Mom's a last-minute party planner and that it would all come together. "Remember the day before Kaitlyn's party, and how Mom was in bed sick? I planned her party the day of and it turned out great, and so will yours."

I think it did.
There was more fizzy sherbet punch, a seven-layer dip, fruit, and by Jacob's request, root beer.
He requested a chocolate cake, and since we couldn't find any dirt bike decorations at Party Express we opted to go with race cars instead. Daddy did the decorating.
Forrest put together a game of "Jacob's Favorites" bingo. All the kids sat through it and really enjoyed it, and every time someone got a bingo, they all would get a prize. This is how we filled their goody bags.
Here is Brady's sour Warhead face. I think most of the Warheads ended up in the trash. Remember how sour those candies are? Yikes.

Happy 7 Jacob!!!!!!!!!! We love you.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Sincerest Apologies

Okay, so I've had a nagging little feeling about a blog post I did recently. It was the one on "A Baby Story." Specifically, it was these words:

"A c-section is not birth."
See? That's me, eating my words.

Gobble, gobble.

I haven't stopped being bothered by it all week. Perhaps it's the close friends and family members who have had c-sections and read my blog, and the remorse that I would have for ever offending them or undermining their birth experiences.

Let me clarify- I am obsessed with labor and birth. Be it my own or others, I simply am in love with and infatuated by the whole process. Every time I witness a birth, whether in real life, through reading a story, or on a screen, it's like I am right there re-living that miracle and feeling everything the mother feels. So, for the purposes of "A Baby Story," I always find it a little bit of a disappointment to watch a birth via c-section because I don't get to experience the whole labor / delivery portion of it.

However, that's not to say that bringing a child into the world via c-section is not "birth." That was a poor choice of words. Make no mistake, I get teary-eyed every time a baby makes its appearance, whether it comes out on its own or is pulled from its mama's belly.

So if you happen to be one of those I've offended and I'm sensing your vibes, please forgive me. I meant no harm.


Never attempt crockpot yogurt when you're too tired to stay up and finish it.
This is what milk looks like when it's been cooking on low for 12 hours instead of the required 2 1/2 hours to make yogurt. I fell asleep last night and forgot to unplug it. I'm about to go start over, so we should have fresh yogurt by tonight. Darn that wasted half-gallon of milk!! (Darn feeling so tired by the end of the week.)

*Never attempted crockpot yogurt? Ooooh it's good. Find the recipe here.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Random Good Things

When all else fails, blog about food.

So, here you go; the day's random good things.

Over the summer I was turned on to a drink called Yerba Mate. I first started noticing it in Nugget Market in the form of iced drinks and energy drinks. I assumed it was actual tea, so I passed it up. Then while I was in the health food store one day looking at the teas, I saw a box of Yerba Mate and read "100% herbal" on the label. Score! So I purchased my first box (for around $7.00) and made some "tea." This soon became my stand-in summer drink (iced, of course.) What I like about it is the mental lift it gives. One cup contains the caffeine equivalent of about a third of a cup of coffee, but being that it's herbal it is a good, clean lift and not the kind that makes you cranky (like would come from coffee or soda.) When you're a mom of 5 you take energy any way it comes.

Well, at $7 a box, my pocket book put a quick end to this love affair. That is, until today. You see, my friend Tiffany discovered this neat little hole-in-the-wall meat market in Folsom that carries a 2 lb. bag of loose-leaf Mate for $5. See ya kids, Mom's off to the meat market. Score!
While there, the shop owner talked me into trying some of his store-baked pita bread. At $1.38 a bag, I couldn't pass it up, so I grabbed a white and whole-wheat. They were so soft, the kids loved them, and they went perfectly with our...
Cuban beans and rice. I am so excited about my pressure cooker, and Katie suggested I try black beans in it. Well, the only experience I have had with making beans from scratch was a few years ago and it ended in a very stinky house and a clogged garbage disposal, so needless to say I have been hesitant since then and have resorted to paying $1.09 per tiny can at Trader Joe's. Well, last night I made one pound of black beans from scratch, in my pressure cooker, in 35 minutes! And they turned out creamy and amazing. So, tonight we used the leftovers to make this dish, Cuban beans and rice. Yum.

(Not my... you guessed it. Food never stays around long enough in this house to be photographed.)

So there you go, random good things. This is day 1 of my re-re-vamped diet, so you can understand my slight attraction to all-things-food (not that I need an excuse for that.)

Oh, what's my re-re-vamped diet you ask? Well, here's a breakdown: nix the sweets, small portions, whole foods, base of fruits and veggies, and Mate... lots of Mate (that's pronounced ma-tay.) Sounds pretty boring and typical, right? Well, I never was a fad person (fad diets are horrible for you anyways,) and it works magic. Guess what? There is no magic to a healthy diet! Word of Wisdom folks (that's what I keep trying to remind myself of.) Oh, and physical activity helps too (when you're not having a complicated pregnancy... I'm really trying to get in to see a doctor.) I am seriously fighting this running bug and can't wait to get back to it though.

5 more months, 5 more months...

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Showin 'em How it's DONE!

I have a love / hate relationship with A Baby Story. It's mostly love, mingled with just a little hate, like yesterday when they showcased a lesbian couple (sorry, won't watch those) or a few years back when they had the gay guys and their surrogate sister-in-law. There is something so disappointing about waiting for the 1:00 hour then turning on the T.V. to that. My other pet-peeve is the sheer amount of c-sections on the show. I am sorry, but that's not birth! Yes you are bringing a child into the world, but if I wanted to witness major surgery I would watch the health channel.

And then there are the times when A Baby Story makes its restitution. More and more I am noticing the increasing trend of home and midwife-attended births on the show. These stories are the rare gems we watch and wait for, and when they come around, it makes it all worth-while.

Today's show, however, took the cake. Specifically, I am referring to the second episode. The woman was a fourth-time mother with three natural births under her belt. I knew right away she was someone I could sit down and have tea with. She was so composed throughout the whole labor, and progressed textbook-style. At every stage, I predicted to the kids where she would be at in terms of dilation, and I was always right. I said she'd be 5 cm. the first time they checked her, and she was. After a couple of hours she got into the jacuzzi tub and said she noticed some shakiness. When she got out of the tub to be checked, I said she'd be seven centimeters, and she was. I felt like I was witnessing one of my own births through another's body. Then- the best part- baby came out in two pushes. She knew exactly where she was during every stage of labor, she predicted what was going to happen, and she never lost composure. Her strength and perspective were awesome.

She made a little comment at the beginning of the show that if this birth "went how (she) was envisioning it, then all would go well." Bingo. Let me repeat that:

*If you want a positive birth experience, visualize it and it will happen!*

Don't just say the words, but really believe in it. This has to take place on a sub-conscious level, virtually to the point where you are unaware. It becomes engrained in every fiber of your being, through your practice and mental preparation. All fears have been erased, and at this point your body will use every facet at its disposal to ensure the kind of birth you desire.

Perhaps if the media's portrayal of birth were more like this woman's and less like the screaming-woman-being-wheeled-into-the-delivery-room-type, we would see more women (and their doctors) trust their bodies and fall less victim to medically-induced procedures and c-sections. The words I dislike hearing the most on the show are "your baby's just too big" or "you're just not progressing." Okay, if you tell a woman that then it will be. Next comes Mom being wheeled into the surgery room just in time for Doc to make his lunch break. Whenever my kids tell me they can't do something, I tell them, "You're right, if you tell yourself that, you won't."

So kudos to you TLC mom for showing 'em how it's DONE! This is why I share my stories, and encourage others to do the same. If you have an empowering birth story, get out and share it. Let other women know what their bodies can do. Help them to access their God-given right. Counteract the negative effects of the media and false notions that birth has to be a medical procedure. While a c-section can be a life-saving procedure, something tells me there will be no operating rooms in Heaven.

As for you Baby Story, I continue to pledge my loyalty to you for now. Just stick to your nature of telling birth stories, and keep the drama on Lifetime.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Jacob's Birth Story

You're all well-enough acquainted with me by now to know that it wouldn't be a birthday celebration without a birth story. If you think you've heard enough, entertain me for just a while, and understand that no matter how many children one has, birth is never something that gets tired (or easier for that matter) over time. As such, I never tire of sharing my stories. I hope you will enjoy them as much as I do.

Birth Story II Jacob's Birth
(FYI, this story is transcribed as-is, not intended for an audience, so please excuse any details that may offend you.)

The day was Friday, January 9th, 2004. I had a 4:00 doctor's appointment at Evergreen Hospital in WA. I had already lost my mucous plug the Tuesday before (Dec. 30th) and had been having pretty strong Braxton-Hicks for about a week and a half. Tonight they were going to strip my membranes, and hopefully labor would soon follow.

I saw Dr. Russell, who discovered upon checking my cervix that I was 2 cm. and 80% effaced. She stripped my membranes several times and sent me on my way. I went into Denny's and ate some dinner, then came home and took a bath to relax and mentally prepare for labor. I picked Forrest up from work and we all came home and slept out on the living room floor (Ashlee fell asleep in her bedroom.) I awoke around 2:30a.m. because I was feeling some pretty strong contractions that were preventing me from staying asleep. I decided to get up and see if they were regular. I went in and sat on our bed and began timing them around 3:30a.m. They were about 6 minutes apart. I decided to wake Forrest up around 4:30a.m., at which time I also called Candy and told her to be on call. Forrest drove Ashlee over to Sarah's house, then came home and took a shower.

I ate a light snack (bread and tomato soup) and we headed out to walk around the parking lot. My contractions were now about 3-4 minutes apart, but they weren't really increasing in intensity. I phoned the hospital and let them know that I would be on my way shortly.

At about 7:30a.m. we arrived at the hospital. I wanted to see if I was making progress before they admitted me. I was checked at 8:15 a.m., and was 4 cm. and 80% effaced. We decided to go back home. I ate another snack (toast with peanut butter,) and called my sister. My contractions were very regular but not intense enough to prevent me from walking or talking through them. Forrest took a nap on the couch and I took a nap in the rocking chair, which seemed to ease the intensity of my contractions even more. I didn't know if this was good or bad, and the last thing I wanted was to slow my labor down, so I got up.

We decided to go back to the hospital at about 11:00. I was given a room, and when the nurse checked me at 12:30 p.m. I was still 4 cm. I have to admit that I was feeling discouraged at the slow progress of my labor. Forrest and I decided to walk the halls for a while. When I came back and was checked again, I was about 6 cm. I finally felt happy knowing that I was making progress.

The next time I was checked by Dr. Stemmerman, I was 7-8 cm. and 90% effaced. I think this was around 1:30 or 2:00 p.m. I got in the hot tub for a while after the doctor assured me it would not slow my labor down. Forrest held the shower head on my back and stomach and fed me crackers. My contractions were now very intense. I started hyperventilating which caused my hands and feet to feel tingly, so the nurse had me breathe into a container. The warm water was soothing though, and the nurse was very helpful in getting me to relax. I decided to get out because I was afraid that if I waited too long I would not be able to.

I got back in the bed, and at about 3:15 p.m. Dr. Stemmerman broke my bag of waters. At 3:45 I was 9-10 cm. and 90-100% effaced. I knew this was the home stretch. At one point I said I wanted an epidural, but I knew I wouldn't get one. I was very tired and it took all my strength to stay on top of the contractions. Transition was lasting much longer than I hoped for, and I began to sort of fall asleep between contractions. I was waiting for the urge to push, and it never came. I finally just let myself go limp and was motionless throughout the last 6 or 7 contractions. Forrest even dozed for a few minutes. My body would quiver each time a contraction would come, and I knew that the end was near. I was beginning to feel like I couldn't take anymore. I awoke just enough to ask the nurse if she could get the doctor so I could push, knowing that was the only means to an end. She checked my cervix and I heard her say that I was complete; music to my ears!

With the next contraction I sort of half-pushed, just enough to relieve some pressure. I didn't have quite enough strength to give it my all. My Dad, Candy, and my mom all came back into the room, along with Dr. Stemmerman. It was 4:55 p.m. when I began pushing. They set up a mirror for me to watch, and dimmed the lights. After 21 minutes of pushing, out came Jacob Edward Hart. I was so happy and relieved. He was covered in vernix and they placed him in my arms right away. He filled me with joy, and I was so relieved to finally have my baby boy. I was also happy to have succeeded in yet another natural childbirth, and relish in the satisfaction that comes with it.

*After-word: Jacob's birth was by far my longest, and most difficult labor. In hindsight, I realize this was because they induced my labor before my body was ready. I had two due dates: the first was Jan. 20th, and the second was Jan. 10th. I knew he was due on the 20th, but on the 9th they decided to strip my membranes. I now realize he could've stayed in there a little while longer, and surely labor would've progressed with much more ease.


P.M., that is. The time that you came into the world 7 years ago.

You and Mommy had a long labor, sixteen hours to be exact, which makes sense being that you were my biggest baby to date. An obedient child from the start, you arrived just in time for dinner, slept soundly, nursed on a schedule from day 1, and slept happily in your bassinet. I called you my "textbook" baby. Since then you've given us seven years of joy, kept true to your nature as a big, strong boy, are a natural at every sport you have tried, and are a perfect role-model older brother. We love you.

Happy Birthday Jacob!!!!!!