Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Happy First Birthday Ehren!

One year ago today at 2:17 in the afternoon we welcomed our son Ehren into the world. He has grown into a joyful, sweet baby. Always giving out a smile and a hug and sometimes an open mouth kiss. He's known in our family as "the hugger." I've enjoyed waking up each morning to his smiles and giggles and can"t imagine life without him.
Ehren at 1 month old - Lily put his hat on (doesn't he look thrilled!)
I'd like to thank our family for your unwavering support (even when it scared you.) Thanks especially to my Mom who can sense when I feel overwhelmed and drive all the way from Dallas to take care of me and take Lily home with her for a week. I feel inexpressible gratitude to our midwife Toni, who caught Ehren with gentle, patient and loving hands. I also want to thank the many mothers I have met along the way who by their example showed me how to parent gently. Elaine P., Andrea H., Cori L., and Rachel S. for sharing their home birth experiences and giving me living examples of strong women who have brought their children into the world without fear. Thanks to Kimberly R. and Natalie H, who helped me embark with confidence and discover the joy of exclusive breastfeeding. Thanks to my dear sweet Lily who has learned to share Mommy's attention with grace above her years. Thanks to all of the people who offered kind words when we needed it. This year has been the hardest of my life but also the most rewarding!

Here's a collection of photos from Ehren's first year you might not have seen.
Ehren at 1 week old

Cuddles with daddy - He's about 1 month old here

4 months - the chunky phase

Future Starbucks addict (Won't Aunty be proud!)

Loving on the dog

Have toy - will hug

Welcome home Daddy - I love you!

The hugger in action - he loves the cat

Monday, November 28, 2011

November 2011

November has been a quiet month in the McGallion household.

I have implemented a cleaning schedule so it won't always be put off.  I am scheduled to clean the floors one day, dust another etc.  It works pretty well and I seem to have less time to goof around. ;-) Kimberly R. suggested the kids help.  It was actually quite amusing to see how hard they tried.  Even the baby got in on the action.

Ehrenella scrubbing the bathroom floors

Not so helpful


Lily getting in on the TP fun

We've also been crafting and making Christmas presents for the family.  Thanks to Pinterest I've got tons of great ideas to try out. We made soaps which was tons of fun and we're going to make spice tea and hot chocolate mixes.  Lily loves to help me cook and loves to craft.

I met a lovely lady names Suly who owns her own business crocheting adorable hats and accessories.  Turns out she lives right in the next neighborhood over.  I went over to her house to pick out some things for a birthday girl we know and she whipped them right up for me in the custom colors I picked out.  She also encouraged me to pick up the hook and make more!  Here is her website - Proud Child Crochet & Handy Fashions

My sister Audrey also introduced me to the world of Amigurumi (Japanese crocheted dolls)  How did I not know about this???  I love to crochet and am a Japan-fan but somehow I'm just now learning about it.  Well better late than never!  We went to the craft store and bought up bags of yarn and this book More Cute Animals to Crochet.  I tried my hand at it and made a hedgehog for Lily.  I also made one for Wyatt and plan on making lots more because it is super fun.  Stay tuned for a Yoda!  If you're on Pinterest, check out my Amigurumi board for all the goodies I want to make.
My little hedgehog (different than the book because mine has ears)

Thanksgiving this year was at my Aunt Kayla's house in Mt Enterprise.  We came and stayed with Brandon's folks the day before and made the short drive Thursday morning for lunch.  It was great to see the family.  All of my cousins are so grown up!  Maegan even has a darling little baby, Kolby.  She and Ehren are close in age and played so sweetly together. It was so nice to just relax and soak up the love.  We left with tons of goodies from Grandma Gibson including pecans!  Mmmmm....
Kolby, me, and Ehren hanging out

After we got back to Lufkin we put the kids down to sleep and sneaked off with Brandon's sister Leslie to see the new Twilight movie!  Mike and Aly met us at the theater and we all laughed and made jokes at the cheesy-ness of the movie.  This is the first movie I have seen in about a year!  Ehren slept the whole time and Grandma McGallion only had to get Lily in bed.  It was great to get a break from my little darling and spend some time with grown ups.

Friday was another family day with the McGallions this time.  The kids (Brandon and Me, and Leslie and Drew) went shopping and both boys got new cowboy boots.  Where better to go than Cavender's in Lufkin?  Brandon will probably be going to Sweden some time during the winter and didn't want to get his feet wet.  Can you believe this guy didn't already have cowboy boots?  After shopping, we all gathered at Nana's house and had Thanksgiving dinner.  Lily was having some melt down issues (she was without a nap 2 days in a row) but we all survived.  After nap time we had an impromptu birthday party for Ehren.  He had a serious little face the entire time.  But the presents made him smile! 

I LOVE this rock

Hi Nana!

Hope you all had a blessed Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

DIY Swiffer Pads

Mopping.... we all hate it.  So messy!  I had the added challenge of having most of my floors laminate which as you might know cannot get very wet without getting ruined.  So the mopping would not get done for MONTHS.  Gross huh?  I had all kinds of gadgets and systems but it just wouldn't get done.

I decided with a crawling baby that I needed a better system. I started making a commitment to clean floors at least once a week. The Swiffer came the closest to meeting my moppnig needs but was so expensive for the cleaning solution and pads refills.  So I improvised.

I discovered you can use a high quality diaper and your own mixture of vinegar and water or use a generic floor cleaner. 

One weeks worth of dirt

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

October 2011

October has been a busy month for the McGallion family!

Brandon is officially a world traveler.  He has been to both Sweden and England.  I've been suggesting that he write out a guest post for ya'll but no luck so far!

 Lily has visited the dentist for the first time.  I was concerned about her chipped front teeth, but it turns out that its not a problem.  She got x-rays and got her chompers polished.  She was so cooperative and giggled the whole time.  Too cute!  To reward her for her good behavior we went to Toys-R-Us where she liked NOTHING.  She wanted a grow platypus.  Um.... yeah.  So I ordered a platypus online for her.  Girl KNOWS what she wants.

The dog also got to visit the vet for some much needed dental care. She also had teeth pulled and that gross wart on her head removed. She had stitches and looked perfect for Halloween - FrankenMo. She is doing well.

We've had some exciting adventures in eating inspired by Forks over Knives. Its a documentary about the link between meat and cancers and all sorts of other diseases. We're eating more vegetables and less processed foods now. If you've never tried to cut back on processed foods - you should try it! Its surprisingly difficult to avoid additives. So far I have seen a number on the scale I haven't seen in YEARS! We're now a semi-vegetarian family.

Ain't is purty?  Butternut squash soup with organic chives (Thanks Grandma G!)

I've been inspired by Pinterest and friends to make my own laundry detergent.  It was surprisingly easy thanks to Brandon and his workout buddy who ground the bar of soap for me.  It does not leave the clothes smelling like anything but does an adequate job cleaning.

In other news, Micheal Evans was so kind as to lend us his camera so we can take better pictures than my phone will allow.  We had planned on going to the store and buying one but it turns out I am camera challenged and know nothing about cameras.  They are also expensive.  Who knew?  This brings to mind the time back in 2000 or so when Anna told me that digital cameras are the way of the future.  No way I told her, they'll never be able to get the resolution as high as film.  Oh how young and silly I was. 

Lily had the opportunity to visit my folks in Dallas for a week.  She got to attend lots of gospel meetings and was reportedly well behaved (to earn a stuffed animal).  It was nice to have some one on one time with the baby.  He started signing and babbling in earnest when she left.  He was, however, quite excited to have her back.  He adores her.  His favorite thing to do lately is just hug her, knock her over and just lay on her.  Occasionally he will bite her.  She takes it well though.  Makes me so proud of her!  Charlie bit me

Gorgeous little Winry
We had the great honor to attend a welcome Winry party in Lufkin this past weekend.  She was such a doll and didn't cry at all.  We got to visit with Brandon's folks and enjoy some great BBQ (not on the diet)  Since I was already off the diet we sampled all four kinds of desserts too.  YUM!  We had Sunday lunch at Nana's which was super tasty as well.  Lily announced that the macaroni and cheese was not healthy.  Thanks kid!  More whole wheat pasta for you then.

Halloween this year was fun.  Lily was a bumble bee AGAIN.  Ehren was a panda bear which he did not like.  He kept trying to pull off the hood so we left it off.  After dinner we put Ehren in the wagon and set out to visit our friends in the neighborhood.  Lily got so excited she practically went inside everyone's houses!  She's just the most enthusiastic and talkative little girl everyone we visited was cracking up about her enthusiasm.  After a couple of polite bits of chit chat she would say, "I've got to go get more candy - See you next week!"  She had a blast.  And I think we got our money's worth on that bee costume!

Halloween 2009

Random day in 2010 - Bee Mario
Halloween 2011

I actually made something I saw on Pinterest!

Lily had me carve this to look like Ehren. Sorta.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Ehren's Birth Story

This is the story about the birth that changed my life - for the better and helped me learn what birth could be like and why we NEED natural birth.  Some day I will write Lily's birth story.  Still processing how I want to share it. 

When Lily was about 18 months old Brandon said that she needed a playmate.  Until then it really did not occur to me that we might get started on #2.  I was just so busy with Lily at the time.  So we started TTC.  After it didn't work the first month I started researching....  I became obsessed with learning as much as I could!  I wish I had read Taking Charge of Your Fertility at the time.  After 7 frustrating months we had a faint little positive line on the pregnancy test!

Now on to step two - have a better pregnancy and birth!
32 Weeks

I talked to other home birth mamas and did hours and hours of research.  After the impersonal at best and negligent at worst OB care I received I decided to see a midwife and have a home birth.

My second pregnancy went much better than the first one.  I ate healthier, exercised and didn't gain as much weight.  I got plenty of rest and relaxation and didn't have any problems.  No diabetes, no toxemia, no swelling.  I looked and felt so much better this time.  We took a Bradley class which was great.  We met nice people and learned a lot of good information about staying healthy and gained confidence through knowledge.

37 weeks
Ehren was due December 7th by traditional due date calculations, but really due on the 12th if you use NFP calculations. Ehren gave us a practice run the day before his due date.  I woke up in the middle of the night with contractions.  I tried to go back to sleep but couldn't and they kept getting closer.  From 6:00 to 8:00 they were 10 minutes apart.  When I got up to make breakfast they went away. We were a little disappointed but decided to make the best of it.  We went for a walk around the neighborhood and for a lunch date at Ninfas.  It was sunny and beautiful and Brandon and I enjoyed spending time together.

I didn't have any more contractions until the day after his due date, December 8th.  I woke up at 6:30 with contractions 2-4 minutes apart, but they were still rather mild.  When they didn't go away after we ate, I called the midwife and let her know what was going on and that I probably wouldn't make it to my appointment we had at 11.

I labored pretty calmly without much fuss.  Brandon would support me and remind me to relax and he made them so much better when I could lean on him.  At 10:45 he called my midwife and asked her to come over because the contractions were getting much more intense.  She came over and checked me at 11:30.  To our surprise, I was already 9 cm dilated.  Wow.  I thought to myself.  This is going to be a piece of cake! With the ok from the midwife (Toni) I hopped in the bathtub and Toni called her assistant Liz (whom I had by chance met at the grocery store the week before) and they set up the room with plastic and equipment while I labored in the tub.  The bathtub made the contractions feel better and I laughed and joked around between them.

When I started to feel shaky and queezy I decided that it was time to get out of the bathtub.  When I looked around my bedroom it was an amazing transformation!  Everything was set up and ready with supplies and the bed had plastic under the sheets.  The pillows were even encased in plastic with the pillow cases over them.  They were super efficient.  The contractions were much more intense after I was out of the tub.  Toni checked me and said I still had a lip of cervix that needed to get out of the way.  She gave me some options, wait, stand up during contractions, break water.  I said I wanted all three because it was getting quite painful and I was having a hard time relaxing.  When the cervix lip was finally gone, they told me that I could start pushing, but I did not like that at all!  I screamed so loud the windows shook and jumped up mid contraction.  Toni almost got kicked in the head (sorry!) I didn't feel stable on the birth stool, the bed was much too painful, pushing hurt more than not pushing so I breathed through some of the contractions.  I was getting very panicky by this time and Toni, Liz and Brandon were all working together to help calm me down. In my head what they were saying made sense, but my body just wanted to say NO, GO AWAY, and RUN myself out of there.

Toni suggested I go to the shower again and have a couple of contractions so we tried that and then I sat on the toilet.  I finally got the real urge to push when I was on the toilet and he dropped down almost immediately.  They hauled me off the toilet and back to the birth stool.  Brandon figured out the best way to support me, with his arms supporting me under my arms and I pushed!  Because he was behind me he didn't get to see Ehren coming out but I really needed him there to use as leverage.

As I was pushing I closed my eyes it seemed like I was no longer in my own body, I could vaguely hear what was going on but it didn't feel like it was me there.  Toni told Liz to get me some oxygen and that gave me strength (perhaps only in my head like Dumbo's magic feather).  I felt a ring of fire which was worse during the break between contractions and then after two contractions they told me his head was out. I figured the rest of him would slide out like the other babies I had seen, but no such luck.  I had to keep pushing and felt a ring of fire again (what?  Nobody told me about that!) and finally I felt the little legs slither out and a giant blue baby was put on my chest.  Liz gave him some oxygen and he turned pink and cried immediately.  Toni immediately thanked God for the safe delivery of Ehren.  (I'm so glad the spiritualism of Ehren's birth was honored by my midwife!)

He was born at 2:17 in the afternoon after a labor that lasted less than 8 hours.
Minutes old!

 He laid on my chest until the cord stopped pulsing and then Toni clamped it and Brandon cut it.  My mom and Lily came into the room as soon as they heard him cry and I was so happy to see them!

Ehren was cleaned with a towel and wrapped in a blanket while I moved to the bed to deliver the placenta.  One little push and it was out (much easier!)  I got to hold Ehren and look at him and nobody took him away.

After a while, Toni checked me and found a superficial but long tear along my (unnecessary) episiotomy scar that I got with my first baby.  She gave me two stitches which didn't hurt much at all.  She had been supporting me with warm washcloths and olive oil while I pushed (which felt much better).

I felt like quite a wuss about the whole transition and pushing and all the whining and complaining I put everyone through, but when they weighted and measured Ehren he was 10 pounds 1/2 oz and had a 13 3/4 inch head (moulded) and a 15 inch chest.  OH.  Ok, well I didn't feel quite as wussy when I found that out.  Toni also said that the giant baby head might have been dragging my cervix down instead of the cervix moving out of the way for it so that would have contributed to the difficult transition and me not wanting to push.

Recovery has been great!  I feel good emotionally and physically.  Didn't have very much soreness like with Lily with the exception of my back and arm muscles. 

My father and Ehren on his birthday
I am very grateful to my midwife Toni and assistant Liz for all their skills and the faith they had in me when I didn't think I could do it.  They made Ehren's entrance into the world as safe, gentle, natural and wonderful as it could have been.

Looking back I'm so glad we had a home birth.  Ehren was born so healthy and perfect with nobody tugging on him with forceps or trying to section me for a "big baby".  It is frightening to me to think about what could have happened at the hospital with the tendency of the Dr.s to overreact and the position I would have been forced to push in.  Article about lithotomy position
Ehren at 6 months old

I have grown so much from that experience.  I used to think in my head that I was in control of my life and circumstances, but labor showed me that GOD is in control.  I could not escape the feeling and had to surrender to it and ride it out.  It was a hard lesson for me to learn, but a valuable one for a mother.

P.S.  My home birth cost 1/5 the price of the hospital birth and my midwife must have spent about 10X more time with me.  She actually stayed with me and cleaned up afterwards.  I was treated like royalty instead of just another patient.  It felt nice to be mothered. :-)

Why start a blog?

Why did I decide to start a blog? 

The kids are growing up so fast - the baby is almost one!  Looking back over the past four years with Lily I realized that we didn't really record any of her moments except for the occasional facebook post. 

I want to make a more detailed scrapbook of our lives to share with family and to be able to look back and remember this brief, busy and wonderful time of childhood. 

That said - I will also be adding things that interest me like cooking, crafting, musings and of course lots of natural birth stuff!  Stay tuned for catch up posts that explain why I'm so interested in birth and monthly updates on what the little stinkers have been up to!