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Biblical Womanhood, Birth Stories, Motherhood, Pregnancy

Lilah’s Birth Story

October 14, 2016

lilah

We have a girl! Can you believe it? I mean really, can you? Because after three boys I can’t, hahaha.

I took this photo the day I went into labor, at 39 weeks and 4 days, just a few hours before we went out to have Thai for dinner- which is either the best or worst thing (???) to have when you’re on the verge of going into labor. Continue Reading

Motherhood, Pregnancy

Blue or Pink?

April 15, 2016

BlueorPink
StorkIt’s been quite a while since we started wondering what color this stork’s little bundle would be. For those of you who wait until the end, how do you do it? There’s a part of me that would love a delivery day surprise, but with a family comprised of one gender the suspense was just to great over whether we’d be getting another little boy or- could it be?- a girl.

As of yesterday, the wait is over!

Are you ready?!

Hold on…the blue needs a little sharpening…

BlueorPink2

Ok, blue, are you ready?

BlueorPink4

Oh. Um, I’m not sure how to break it to you this time, blue. But…

We may not be needing you after all.

Girl!

It’s a GIRL!

BlueorPink3

Biblical Womanhood, Family Adventures, Motherhood, Pregnancy

Surprise Babies

March 5, 2016

Stork

I always thought the idea of a surprise baby was really sweet and romantic. Asher, our second baby, and then Silas were not surprises, and I assumed we’d probably never have one that was. Then we got the news that Finn was on his way a mere two and half weeks after Thane got home from his last deployment to Afghanistan, and though we definitely wanted him, we certainly didn’t anticipate him coming so quickly! So, he was a semi-surprise.

Then…

Ultrasound

Oh my goodness. I’m not sure I would have been more surprised had a literal stork crashed through my bathroom window with a packaged newborn. We generally planned on remaining a family of five and were very, very happy and content with our three little boys. I’ll admit that I had no idea what I was going to do when Finn was no longer a baby, because he is my snuggle bug! But I assumed that any additional babies- if they ever came- would be a surprise a ways down the road. A ways.

But January was not that far down the road at all.

It all started with Thane making a few very silly comments about me being pregnant, which I adamantly denied. I thought there was- maybe– a 1% chance that he was right, but 1% might as well be zero so clearly he was just making silly comments because he was bored and had nothing else to talk about. Then we had a weirdly serious conversation about it one evening, so just to put it to rest I decided to take a test when I woke up the next morning. I had one sitting there on the bathroom shelf, about to expire. Knowing it would be a complete waste, I almost didn’t take it. Then decided that $1 down the drain was worth getting this crazy idea out of Thane’s head.

Well… When two pink lines showed up on that thing so fast that I couldn’t even process what I was seeing, I dug the box out of the trash to look at the instructions. This is far from my first round with reading pregnancy test results but extreme shock + pregnancy brain aren’t a great combination, so I just stood there, dumbstruck. Later that day I decided it must have been a faulty test (since it was old) and so I bought a new one just to be sure. Two more pink lines. By then it was starting to sink in, but it was very bewildering in the beginning. I truly did not see it coming, at all, and I’m not used to be caught so off guard!

It took me a little while to get used to the idea… I can’t say I felt ready for another big life change, not in the slightest. We stepped onto one giant roller coaster ride last April when Finn was born, rode it all the way to Germany when we headed overseas six weeks later, and then spent six months trying to put all the pieces of our life back together once we got here. And as of January, I was just starting to feel on top of things again. I guess that’s why God thought it was a good time for the next curve ball, hahaha! One thing is for sure; He’s thrown us lots and lots of big surprises these past couple of years. One of these days- perhaps- our life will get more predictable again. But until then, I guess we’ll just go with it!

It’s definitely been a struggle to keep my head above water these past couple of months, I can’t deny that. I shared a little bit about what it’s like to be taking care of three very active little boys in the dead of winter while enduring the first trimester in my last post. But I’m doing my best to trust in God’s plan, to stay focused on the big picture, and to remember what a gift this is. Whether this is another little boy that I wouldn’t trade for the world or the little girl that I never expected to have, wow! I never pictured myself as a mom of four, but I guess one of the great thrills and blessings of life is never knowing what’s around the bend.

And on that note, please pray for me. I need it!

Stork

 

Biblical Womanhood, Motherhood, Photography, Pregnancy

Farewell, February!

March 2, 2016

Steaming Coffee Cup

I’d like to say that February was a cozy, quiet month spent contemplating the finer things of life in front of a warm fire while sipping on gourmet espresso as depicted in the photo above. But sadly, it was anything but that.

I really want to write more about the new baby (!!!!!) but feel compelled to document our rather epic February first. There are certain things you just can’t sweep under the rug.

First of all, who else is thrilled that it’s March?! No, March is traditionally not much better than February concerning the weather. But at least it brings a small ray of promise that warmer days are coming! I don’t know what it is about February, but it generally seems like the time of year when the winter is at it’s worst, the whole family takes turns being sick for three or four weeks straight, and we basically hole up at home with minimal interaction with the outside world. Asher’s birthday on the 19th is always the highlight of the month (and though last year was fantastic!) there’s always a very high chance that his party will have to be canceled or take a serious hit due to sicknesses. I’m so thankful it didn’t have to get canceled this year, but it didn’t exactly go off without a hitch.

The other tough aspect of February was being smack dab in the middle of the first trimester of this new, exciting, and very very surprising pregnancy! Lord willing, I’ll be back with more details about that soon. But for now, let me just say that feeling sick all of the time, having zero energy, being faint and dizzy and all the rest of the common symptoms on top of taking care of three very active little wild things all day (every day) + nursing Finn + all of our colds + my full blown stomach bug over Asher’s birthday + the really cold, dark, depressing weather + little to no coffee was enough to have me begging God for mercy a few times. Seriously. My life was basically an episode of the Walking Dead, and I was the Dead. I don’t remember if I took a single photo or did a single creative project. I lost all of my passion for Instagram (hahaha, but really). And blogging? Forget it.

Waffles, impromptu naps on the living room floor, and daily prayers for just enough energy to get by were my “functional saviors”. And- though I’m painting a melodramatic portrait of my personal woes- there was a lot of grace. There were a handful of very manageable days scattered among the tough ones, and despite the tough ones there were many, many times when I knew it was only through Christ and His strength that I was making it. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. (2 Corinthians 12:10) This was my anthem this February! Sometimes, it’s a blessing to have what we’re used to- our normal ease of life- taken away for a season to be reminded just how good the life that God has given us can be. To be reminded of just how much we have to be thankful for! Not to mention the fact that I have a loving and supportive husband that is currently home (which is not always the case in Army life) and for that I am so, so thankful.

And here’s more good news; the fact that I have the energy to be typing this up means that things are getting better. I’ve actually felt human these past two days, so that’s got to be a good sign.

Anyway- assuming this new found energy holds out- more regular blogging will resume! (As regular as anything can possibly be with three little boys + one rather large one set on stealing my heart and my time, haha!). But until next time, I’ll leave you with some serene photos from my Instagram account (taken sometime back in January) that have absolutely nothing to do with what life has been like lately.

Enjoy!

Flax Seed Bread 2
Garlic 1Floral PaintingSpartan Antique Silver RingWet Paint Brush | www.sarahkeller.comFossil WatchPencil and ShavingsVintage Illustration Nusery Decor 2Golden Camera Paper Weight | www.sarahkeller.comWhat the Bible Says About Being a Woman | www.sarahkeller.com

 

Motherhood, Our Birth Plan, Pregnancy

Our Natural Birth Plan

March 9, 2015

Our Natural Birth Plan | www.sarahkeller.com

I recently sat down with a friend and soon-to-be-mom to go over some first time mommy stuff, like birth plans, what to expect in labor & delivery, good resources to read, etc, and it wasn’t until after she left that I thought hey, wait a minute, I’m about to do this whole birthing thing again too! Yes, that’s right, I (sort of) forgot that we both have an upcoming appointment with the labor & delivery ward and that both of us need to get our birthing plan in order. (Then a few weeks later when I picked up some nursing cream for her baby shower it didn’t occur to me until I got home that- earth to Sarah!- I needed some too. Why do I keep forgetting that I’m having a baby?!)

Anyway, one important thing to mention before delving into birth plan talk; this is a no-judgement zone! It’s a blessing to be able to have the natural birth experience, but life is unpredictable, not everything goes according to plan, and there’s never a “one size fits all” approach to this. And that’s okay! I’ve been really fortunate to have short and uncomplicated deliveries, but that doesn’t mean that it always goes that way. So praise God for good doctors and for the interventions that we’re blessed to have when needed.

That being said, this is the birth plan we’ve used for both Asher, Silas, (update: I also used it for Finn. Though his birth was not exactly what I expected). I borrowed it from a friend- thanks Jamie!- and was able to follow it fairly closely for all three boys. This was a great guide to have on the onset of this journey in motherhood, and I hope it’s helpful for some of you moms-to-be, too!

OUR NATURAL BIRTH PLAN

LABOR & DELIVERY PREFERENCES
Pain medication: none preferred.
IV and Heparin lock: none preferred if not medically necessary.
Membranes: allow to rupture naturally, even when dilation nears 10cm.
Electronic fetal monitoring: external and only for initial 20 min strip, after that I would prefer intermittent monitoring.
Freedom of movement/positioning: throughout labor and pushing stage.
Perineum care: no episiotomy unless absolutely necessary.
Skin-to-skin contact immediately following delivery, and immediate attempt at breastfeeding to promote natural delivery of the placenta.
Umbilical cord not to be clamped until after it has stopped pulsing.

NEWBORN SCREENING/TESTING/VITALS
No Hepatitis vaccination.

NEWBORN CARE & HANDLING
Exclusive breastfeeding: No bottles of any supplements or formula or pacifiers.
Prefer baby to remain in room with mother; If baby needs to leave for any testing, father/birth partner will accompany baby at all times.

INTERVENTIONS & EMERGENCY PROCEDURES
No interventions desired unless absolutely medically necessary.
Cesarean section: In the case of this surgery, dad would like to be present and to remain with the baby at all times following birth.

One note; I did have a Heparin lock all three times {the receiver for the IV that goes around your wrist}.

And there’s one thing I didn’t mention on our list, the most important of all; PRAYER! I admit that it’s another thing I haven’t been doing consistently enough when it comes to preparing for this birth, so I need to change that. But I know that whether our big day goes according to plan or not, Christ holds all of the details in the palm of His hand. He’s my source of strength and sufficiency in all things, especially the sacred blessing of birth. I hope and pray that you have the same assurance!

One last thing- here’s my 10 Things On Breastfeeding post, another topic I need to brush up on.

 

Biblical Womanhood, Birth Stories, Motherhood, Pregnancy

Silas’ Birth Story

June 13, 2013

Silas Birth Story 2

Praise God for our sweet little Silas! He arrived at 8:18pm on June 4th, weighing in at 8 pounds and measuring 20 inches.

This little birth story starts at 10:30pm on the evening of June 2nd when I started having regular contractions that went on for three hours, getting closer and closer together as well as more intense. This was it! Just a few more minutes and then I’d get up and get ready to go to the hospital. That was the plan, at least, until I woke up and realized it was the next morning and all signs of labor were gone. Womp woooomp…

Nothing happened the day of the 3rd other than the usual achy joints and muscles and maybe a contraction here or there. Same thing that night and the next morning, which was the day of my routine 39 week appointment. After telling my midwife about the false start, she checked for dilation and found that I was 4 (close to 5) centimeters, and that Silas’ head was very very low. So those false labor contractions must not have been for nothing! Since she would only be available to attend the delivery for two more days (before her weekend off), she offered to do a quick membrane sweep to encourage things to continue moving along. I somewhat hesitantly accepted in order to avoid the possibility of a delivery with a doctor I’d never met. But she was confident that it wouldn’t be much longer either way, and sure enough, very mild and sporadic contractions started again a couple of hours after the appointment.

I didn’t want to get excited too soon after my night of being sure I was in labor when I wasn’t. But Thane was pretty certain that Silas wasn’t going to linger in the womb much longer so he came home from work and started prepping things for the hospital. When I asked him a couple of hours later if the two of us should take Asher up to the park for a little while, his reply was “woman, you are on your deathbed. You should be ordering your last meal, not taking Asher to the park.” I preferred a less urgent frame of mind for the matters at hand, but as usual, his urgency wasn’t misplaced.

By 4pm, contractions became regular. By 6pm, Thane was ready to drop Asher off at our neighbor’s house and get me to the hospital. I still wasn’t convinced that we needed to rush, but I followed his lead, called my midwife, and we pulled into the hospital parking lot by 6:30pm. At this point, I had to occasionally stop and brace myself but I was still walking and in good spirits. By 7pm, I was getting settled into a room, having blood drawn for lab work, and answering all of the questions that I’d already filled out in my per-admission labor and delivery packet (don’t you just love that?).

When my midwife arrived I was 6 centimeters dilated. The frequency of my contractions slowed down and the longer breaks in between were much appreciated! I laid in the bed while they monitored Silas’ movements for about twenty minutes, and since he was asleep- of all times!- they had me drink juice to wake him up. That did the trick pretty much immediately, so then I was free to move about. After a few extremely intense contractions in the bed, I decided to employ one of the more classy laboring positions- sitting upright on the toilet. My first midwife suggested doing this while I was in labor with Asher and it proved to be very helpful with Silas, too, since the contractions got shorter and a little easier to bear through. {See Asher’s birth story here}.

Meanwhile, Thane brought me a cup of ice water with the yummy, crunchy ice to munch on between gripping the sink ledge and the side of the tub, praying to Jesus to get me through this and wondering why I ever, ever thought giving birth without an epidural- again!- was a good idea. After what seemed like ten or fifteen minutes, I could feel myself starting to do the somewhat involuntary/impossible-to-resist pushing that many of you ladies know all too well. So I had Thane go get the midwife (who’d been out of the room for a while), and I high-tailed it back to the bed.

In the midst of this, I remember the beautiful natural light of the setting sun streaming through the delivery room window. Despite being in the thick of childbirth, God reminded me of His peace and I’m so thankful for that.

My midwife came in quickly and determined that I was definitely ready to push. She had me lay on my back and pull on my thighs through each contraction. This seemed to make them even more painful, but it was affective. After getting splashed when my water broke during the pushing phase of Asher’s delivery, Thane stood as far back as he could this time to avoid being a repeat victim. And very smart of him, because not long after I had my second projectile-water-breaking experience (my apologies to the poor midwife and assistants.) And after pushing through three or four contractions for what seemed like ten minutes or so, Silas was born!

He came out just as lively as he normally was in the womb, kicking and squirming and with a good, hearty cry. He was healthy and vivacious and it was so, so wonderful to see his face for the first time! After a few minutes of taking him in and attempting to wrap my mind around the fact that he was here {it all happened so fast!}, he was able to latch on perfectly and start nursing. Once he had his bath and the rest of the routine checks a little later, I got up and pushed him in his little cart to the recovery room where he and Daddy and I had a wonderful, relaxed first night together. Thankfully, Asher’s first sleepover at his friend’s house right down the street was going great too.

The recovery was a little different this time around. I felt sick and nauseous right after the birth from drinking that juice during labor on an empty stomach and then not eating anything for a couple of hours. So I won’t be making that mistake again! I had no need for stitches this time, praise God. But I did have terrible, awful, long, almost-like-contractions cramping every time I nursed for the first week, accompanied by the same extremely painful tenderness from nursing that I had with Asher. But all in all, I’m so thankful for a fast, smooth delivery and for the pure blessing that Silas is!

It was so nice that this labor & delivery experience was a few hours shorter (four compared to seven) and a little less intense than the first time. I think that’s what allowed me the mental capacity to not only have sane thoughts during it (ha!) but to pray. To remember Jesus and to thank Him for suffering for me in a way that was much more painful and heinous than this. To do it willingly and sinlessly, and in turn for giving me the strength and grace to endure the little bit of suffering I’m called to in this life for the sake of my own sin. Not to mention for blessing me with yet another perfect little boy at the end of it! So, I praise Jesus and lift His name up! He remains my most faithful Lord and friend.

Silas Birth Story

I still remember Asher bounding into the room to meet him for the first time! Thane had just taken him to the store to pick out a new toy- a big green monster truck- so he was blissfully distracted by that for the most part. But this picture captured at least one moment of relative awe (or indifference, it’s hard to know, hahaha!) upon meeting his new little brother.

Asher