Thursday, May 28, 2015

30-day challenge: Every Accomplishment Starts With the Decision to Try

For my New Year's Resolution I set out to try new things! And this past February (wow--so long ago, now!), I  decided to try a 30 day challenge; I would do one thing every day for 30 days in a row. I decided to do something I've never attempted in my life: to paint a picture. 

Typically, my creativity is most easily expressed through my photography. I love taking pictures of people, landscapes, nature, and even abstract subjects. I've learned the "art" of photography to the extent that I can manipulate images using the camera settings, or in post production using software such as Photoshop. Snapping a picture is easy to me. 

But painting. Whoa. That's another story! 

I've never taken an art class in my life, but having acquired a watercolor set and some paint brushes, I determined to at least TRY. 

I started with a photo I'd taken while in Venice, Italy last year.

I then preceded to section off the photo into thirty equal boxes, intending to sketch and paint 1 box per day of my monthly challenge. 
And then, I just jumped right in! The first few days I chose to sketch portions of the photo that seemed easier or had less elements. And, of course, I was happy when I completed a square of empty sky or water. :)  After a while, I started to get the hang of things. To be a little more efficient with my time, I would sketch for a few days in a row and then paint (this saved time because I didn't have to mix and remix the same colors every day to paint). I enjoyed watching as the painting came together. In fact, as the days passed and my painting grew and grew, I started to feel like an artist. And, I started to believe that I could really do it! 

Eventually, I ended up with this as the finished product. It's now framed and hung up in my room so I can enjoy the art I created! 

So, why do I bring this up? Is it to brag to y'all that I'm a brilliant artist and that I will be signing autographs for anyone that wants them? 



I bring it up because I realized through this 30-day challenge that I can do things I didn't expect I could. I simply decided to TRY at the start of this challenge, and now that it's done, I know that I CAN!  

So, hopefully this will motivate you to decide to TRY something new. You never know whether you will be able to accomplish something until you set your mind to it and try. 

"Every Accomplishment Starts With the Decision to Try!"

Best of luck! Let me know what challenge you are going to take on. I'd love to hear in the comments below so that I can root you on! :) 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Heavenly Father: Our Greatest Coach

While browsing Facebook this morning, I came across a wonderful video titled "Catching Kayla".

This story of a champion runner--shared in an E-60 sports Youtube video--is one of the most inspiring stories I've heard in a long while. Basically, this girl was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and was unable to feel her legs for quite some time. Through the use of medicine, she was able to feel her legs once again, but was no longer able to participate in contact sports. Giving up soccer, she decided to take up running.

She was by no means a fast runner to start, but through constant diligence and the help of a wonderful coach, Kayla got faster and faster. You can watch the full spotlight here:

For my purposes here, I want to focus on one aspect of the video: the finish line! When Kayla runs, the heat in her body signals the symptoms of MS, causing her to lose feeling in her legs while she continues running. She has to pace herself using the help of her coach calling advice out to her. She is not limited by the pain in her legs as she runs, simply because she cannot feel them. But, that is not what struck me so much about her story. Each time she runs, she pushes and gives it her all, so much so that as she crosses that finish line, she collapses into her coach's arms and he carries her away off the track to give her the help she so desperately needs.

As I watched her coach catch her after every race, I thought of another person who I know that stands with open arms to catch each one of His children: Heavenly Father, the God of each one of us.

I made this connection while watching this video, and it was something about THIS last scene, at the state championship, that really got me:

I love this part. I love the way that Kayla pushes and digs and gives it EVERYTHING she's got (throughout the race) and especially right at the end.

I love how you can hear the coach screaming encouragements (quite emphatically) as she comes towards the finish line.

And I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE what happens as she crosses that final finish line, collapsing once again into her coaches arms; the coach exclaims:

"I got you....You did it!....Beautiful!"

I have come to have a very personal relationship with my Heavenly Father throughout my life. I've prayed to Him daily, and have faith that He is listening. I trust that He is there watching over me and comforting me when I need it. I know that He loves me enough that He sent His only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to live a perfect life, to suffer and die for me so that I can live again in my Father's kingdom. Ultimately, I hope that I can live my life now in a way that will allow me to come back into His presence later.

I imagine that He, my Heavenly Father and greatest coach, will be there to catch me--both physically and spiritually--when I pass on at the end of this mortal life.

I imagine with eagerness that He will celebrate when I arrive, that my actions through the "race" of life will put me in good standing in His eyes.

I imagine that as I run towards that finish line, I will continue to give it my all, that I will not falter at the end, but will run straight and true, ever gazing into the arms of my Heavenly Father.

And, I imagine that He will be there at the end of it all to embrace me, and to tell me:

"I got you."

"You did it!"


**To learn more about my faith, especially what I believe about a Heavenly Father who loves me and ALL of His children, please visit: You may also want to read What Happens After We Die, to learn more.**

Friday, December 12, 2014

Christmas Reflections

This morning, I logged onto Facebook just as I do everyday, to aimlessly update myself on the happenings of my social media world. What I found instead was something much more spectacular; it was a video of "Angels We Have Heard on High" like I'd never heard or seen before!

If you aren't one of the already 165,000 people that have watched this video today since it was released this morning, you should definitely take the time to watch it; it's spectacular!

This video and its behind-the-scenes touched my heart and lit my spirit on fire! I was wrapped in God's love for me and realized, for the first time in my life, just what Christmas is truly about.

Christmas is about a small child born in humble circumstances, but foreordained to a grand mission: to be the Savior of the world! This small babe would grow to save every living soul on the earth. He would grow up to

Why hadn't I known this before?

Well...I had known the purpose and reason for celebrating Christmas each year was to honor and remember Christ's birth. But, due to my experiences in the past few months, combined with watching this beautiful video, I realized that it is so much more.

I think back to when my son was born, almost 4 months ago. The joy that I felt as a new mother was incomprehensible and I basked in the newness of this perfect child that lay before me. Thousands of years before this event in my life, Mary--the mother of Jesus--looked down upon her perfect son with awe and wonder just as I looked upon my newborn son. My parents, friends, siblings, and the hospital staff rejoiced at my new addition, but these celebrations were nothing in comparison to the hosts of heaven rejoicing at the Savior's coming! Family and friends came to visit my new Baby Wesley in his first few weeks, but so many more people flocked to see the little babe, Jesus Christ, swaddled and laying in a manger.

Such similar stories, of a mother and her newborn son, and of family. 

So, as I reflected on all that has happened to my family these past few months. I realized that Christ's coming impacts not only me, but my growing family. I realized that the Christmas gift--the Son of God to all mankind--directly affects my happiness and future:

Because Jesus came, 
because he lived--and died--for me,
my little family can live together again....for eternity.  

How had I missed that connection for so many years? How had I naïvely thought that Christmas was just a celebration of a humble babe who would grow into a perfect man? Christmas is a celebration of everyone, a celebration of the fact that Jesus provided us all with a second chance, with repentance and mercy and eternal life!

Christmas to me is realizing that Jesus Christ lived! He was born! These simple words were written and prophesied for years prior to his birth, and for thousands of years after!

Now, when the birth of Jesus Christ often sits in the shadow of Santa Clause and holiday commercialism, I hope that we can all take some personal time to shed some light on the real meaning of Christmas, and what that means for us in our individual lives.

Merry Christmas! 

To find out more about the real reason for the season, visit:

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Where'd the Newborn go?

Wesley (2 months) meets his friend, Cohen (2 weeks)
I woke up this morning and began editing my friend's newborn photos, all the while holding my little baby boy in my arms. My little boy was smiling at me, holding his head up (almost) all by himself. But it was just then, with pictures of a 7 pound baby up on the computer screen and a baby twice that size in my arms, that I realized that my little baby is no longer so little: Where'd my newborn go?

It's only been two months--10 weeks--since Wesley was born, and yet the time has just flown! He has gained 4 pounds since birth and has grown 3 inches. He is smiling spontaneously and even in reaction to silly faces, songs, and smiles from others around him.

So, I only thought it right to update everyone on this little BIG boy's development lately.

1.  Sleep, Sleep, and MORE SLEEP!

Most of the time, Wesley sleeps. I guess he's going through lots of growth spurts. :) He can sleep anywhere: on the floor, on the couch, in a swaddle, and my maternity pillow. He also loves cuddling up to daddy and momma, sleeping on our chests. The funny thing--he's still not sleeping more than about 3 hours at night time. **Bummer** I guess he just likes to nap. 

2. Lots of FUN meeting new people! 

Wesley got to meet my grandparents, if not for just a few minutes, when they were passing through San Jose via train. He's also met and spent time with two sets of grandparents, an aunt, a cousin, and LOTS of ward members and Google employees. 

3. Enjoys time with Daddy!

Wesley LOVES his time with Daddy! Daddy is so good at giving his attention to Wesley; he plays piano with him, reads to him, takes him on walks, and "chills" with him, too. 

4. Smiles! 

Wesley melts my heart whenever he smiles. Sometimes, I'll be working on the computer or doing dishes and then I'll glance over at Wesley and he's smiling as wide as the Grand Canyon--he must know that I love his smiles! :)

5. Observant Eyes

Wesley can track objects as they move, and he will look directly at people when they are talking to him. Right here, he was starting SO intently at his fish mobile while he was swinging. 

I'm loving every moment of being a mother, especially as I get to watch my little one turn into a big boy! We have lots to look forward to as he begins to roll over, crawl, walk, and run!

Thanks for reading!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Fall Flavors: Butternut Squash Rigatoni

Butternut Squash Rigatoni, courtesy of Rachael Ray's show 30-minute meals, paired with Honeycrisp apples
I adjusted a few things when I made the recipe so my version is shown below. For the original recipe, as seen on 30-minute meals, be sure to click here

  • A 2-pound butternut squash: cubed, roasted, and pureed (or you can take the easy route and buy one 10-ounce box frozen butternut squash puree)
  • 1 pound rigatoni
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon (TBS) Extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1 pound Italian sausage
  • 5-6 cloves of garlic
  • 2 TBS thyme
  • 1/2 of an onion (add up to a whole onion if you so desire)
  • 4 TBS butter
  • 3 TBS flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • nutmeg
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese

Serves 6. 


Butternut Squash Puree
If you are using a frozen squash puree, you will need to defrost it and place the contents of the package in a strainer to drain. But, it you want to roast and puree the squash yourself (I highly recommend this!), here are the instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2. Peel, seed, and cut the butternut squash into 1-inch cubes.
3. Toss the squash with 2 TB olive oil and 2 cloves of minced garlic. Season with salt and black pepper.
4. Arrange the coated squash on a baking sheet and roast in the oven until squash is tender and lightly browned, about 30 minutes. Half of this will be pureed and added to the sauce later on.


5. Put some water to boil on the stove. When the water is ready, cook the pasta to al dente, about 7-8 minutes, straining out the water when done.

6. Heat 1 TBS olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage to the skillet and cook till browned.
7. Add 3-4 cloves of minced garlic, 1/2 an onion (chopped up into fine pieces), and thyme. Cook until the onions are tender, about 5-6 minutes.
8. Deglaze the pan by adding 1/2 cup of chicken stock to the contents; scrape off the little brown bits from the bottom of the pan, mixing it with the chicken stock, veggies, and meat. This will help ensure you collect ALL the flavor from the pan.

9. Melt 4 TBS of butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
10. Whisk in 3 TBS flour for 1 minute.
11. Whisk in 2 cups milk, and season with salt, pepper, and a healthy amount of nutmeg. Let the base thicken until it coats a spoon.
12. Grab half of the roasted, cubed squash (setting aside the remaining squash) and toss it in a food processor, along with 1/2 cup of chicken stock. Blend until smooth.
13. Stir the puree into the sauce base and bring the sauce back to a light bubble.
Honeycrisp apples are So deliciously sweet, and VERY large, too (here the
honeycrisp is seen next to a granny smith apple,  which pales in comparison)! 
14. Mix in the 2 cups of cheddar cheese, letting it melt into an ooey-gooey, amazing sauce! (Taste test now just to prove how amazingly tasty this sauce is!)

15. Toss the pasta, sauce, and meat mixture together!
16. You should still have half a roasted butternut squash; you can either serve it alongside the pasta, or mix it in with the pasta (I recommend the latter--the big chunks of squash add a burst of color and flavor to every bite!).

On the side...
17. Chop up a beautiful honeycrisp apple. Plate it alongside this fall-flavored, comfort food!
18. Enjoy!!

Thanks for reading! Stay-tuned for more fall favorites throughout the coming weeks!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A Mother is Born

On August 19,  at10:56 pm PST, my son Wesley was born. But, this minute in history marks another birth just as important--the birth of a mother!

Imagine it! I was pushing this little person out of my body just a minute prior at 10:55 pm, and all of a sudden, 60 short seconds go by and he is no longer inside of me. He is strong and healthy and covered in vernix, and he's mine--all mine. :) In that moment, I have become a mother.

It's been 6 weeks since Wesley came into the world and 6 weeks of motherhood for me. Things are going well, but I don't think I will ever be able to say that I'm "getting the hang of this motherhood, thing".

Just the other day, my brother-in-law asked me what it's like to be a mother. I told him (all humor aside) that the past 6 weeks have seemed like one, long, continuous day, interspersed with constant feedings and 3-hour naps.

This is not too far from the truth! Motherhood is a LOT of work, and I don't know that any birthing class really mentions that. In fact, it seems that most first-time mothers (me included!) hardly know what life will be like post-pregnancy. So, here's my two cents on the joys, and the not-so-glamorous moments, of motherhood:

Cuddle Buddy

My most favorite moments spent as a mother have been when my little Wesley is cuddling up on my chest, perfectly content or sleeping. I know that these moments won't last forever, proven by the fact that he is beginning to outgrow his newborn clothing. In what will seem like an instant, he will have outgrown my lap as well, and I will no longer get these perfectly cuddly moments. So, cuddle while you can, new moms!

Was that a smile? 

Most newborn smiles are more like a muscle spasm and they usually occur when the baby is passing gas or sleeping peacefully. But last week, Wesley really started to smile AT me! It's been very wonderful to see him stare into my eyes, recognize my face, and then smile directly at me. It's rewarding because often motherhood can be exhausting, and it's good to know that your little one appreciates you when he gives you a little smile. :)

Bring on the dirty diapers

Besides costing an arm and a leg, diapers are definitely one of the not-so-glamorous parts of a mom's job. But (haha, no pun intended), in reality the diapers aren't that bad! At least for now, there have not been any blowouts and the diapers don't smell too bad, either. So, new moms, appreciate the moments when diapers don't smell and don't get all over the place--I'm sure in a few months' time I'll want to deny that I ever said changing diapers was "not that bad", especially when the diapers become little stink bombs. :)


Breastfeeding...the double-edged sword of motherhood. I must admit that this was the one thing I wish people had been more honest about with me. On the one hand, breastfeeding is a wonderful bonding experience and a time when the mother can have the baby all to herself (because there are cries that only breast milk will pacify!). But, on the other hand, breastfeeding hurts! Now, I don't want to scare new moms away from breastfeeding. Know that it doesn't always hurt, and the pain can often be avoided by having proper positioning and a good latch (make sure you take advantage of your lactation consultant's wisdom in the hospital before you head back home), but the first few days of breastfeeding WILL and DO hurt. Obviously, it's less pain than labor, so any woman who just went through labor should have no trouble tolerating the pain of breastfeeding. The breast--and especially the nipple--is very tender and has to be "toughened up" a bit before the pain recedes. After that, though, I would say that breastfeeding really is a joy. In fact, it was during breastfeeding that I experienced some of Wesley's first smiles; he would finish eating, come off the nipple, look up at me and smile. It was then that I truly felt he appreciated me and the nourishment I gave him.

Also, breastfeeding is a time when you get to be spoiled a bit. Sit in a comfortable place and put on a movie or Netflix show. Ask people to bring you snacks and beverages to make your time breastfeeding more enjoyable. Let others give you a foot massage or rub your shoulders while you nurse, whatever helps you to feel spoiled. Take advantage of this time to read a book or just watch your little baby.


Luckily, in the third trimester of pregnancy, you become a pretty well-trained insomniac. Whether it's having a hard time sleeping due to back pain or needing to get up for constant potty breaks, pregnant ladies already know what it's like to wake up multiple times in the middle of the night; a full night of sleep becomes a luxury that pregnant ladies, and new moms, no longer have access to. SO, the transition to motherhood is pretty easy. :)

At first, I spent most nights waking up to my baby's every coo and fidget because I wanted to make sure he was still breathing. Now, I wake up only to change his diaper and feed him; he lets me know when he's hungry, and I no longer wake up to his every move.  But, because there is no avoiding the insomnia that arises as a new mother, my advice is basically to get as much sleep throughout the day as you can. When you have family or friends over, let them hold the baby while you catch a quick hour of shut-eye. Or, when the husband is home from work, especially on the weekends, let him get in some baby-bonding time while you get that much needed power nap. And, when you are home alone and you want so badly to do the dishes or vacuum the carpet while your baby is asleep, give yourself a break and sleep instead. The advice of "sleeping when your baby sleeps" is a really good one to stick to. You'll be so much happier and much more able to serve your baby if you take care of your physical needs, sleep being key!

 Going on errands

When I go on a quick errand to the grocery store, or to drop off a library book at the library, or just to get out and go for a walk, it seems that I end up taking the whole house with me! I have to pack up the diaper bag, strap baby into the carseat, carry my purse, and get the reusable grocery bags. Then...precariously holding all of these things in one hand while balancing the carseat in the other hand, I shimmy my way out the door, lock it, and prance down the stairs to my car. When I finally get to the car, beads of sweat running down my face, I unlock the car doors, toss baby and supplies in the back seat, and then head out to my destination. But the fun has only started! Once I get to my destination, I pull out the carseat, strap it into the stroller or put it into the grocery cart, and proceed to take care of my errands, hoping that baby stays asleep the whole while. :) 

So, errands are definitely an adventure, but as a new mom I suggest getting out as much as you are able. Otherwise, you begin to feel a little cooped up in the house and that's not good for shaking those postpartum baby blues. So, don't be afraid to get out of the house, but be sure that you don't overexert yourself right away. Just take it easy and know that you are not the only mother who also feels like a camel carrying around all that baby stuff! 

Extra emotions

The postpartum baby-blues do exist, just so you know. I think all pregnant ladies probably think, "oh, that won't happen to me" but they will; in some small way, at least,  the baby blues will affect you. After bringing home the baby, you are in a honeymoon state of excitement and happiness. But, that first night at home, you will most likely get little to no sleep, and you might still be having trouble with breastfeeding. So, with that in mind, you will most likely feel under appreciated, overworked, and exhausted. These feelings basically are the baby blues, and it's hard to avoid them when you are super tired and haven't had a real moment to yourself in several days since you had the baby. When these feelings of sadness and depression seep in, my best advice is to talk about your feelings with someone, whether it be your spouse, your friend, or another family member. When you talk about these feelings with someone else, that person can act as an extra support as they help you bare your emotional burden. 

One person on whom I relied heavily was my Heavenly Father. I don't think I've prayed for help more in my life than I have in the past six weeks as a new mother. You are of great worth to your Heavenly Father and He has granted to you the responsibility of one of his precious spirit children. He knows that there will be plenty of sleepless nights, moments of sadness and even some crying. But, there will also be those happy moments--a cute little smile from your little one, cuddly moments, and great bonding time. When you begin to feel down, get down on your knees and pray to your Heavenly Father--He knows a bunch about parenting, or so I hear, and is eager to help you in your journey as a new mother.

Motherhood: a divine role

To end on a spiritual note, I want to share a video I watched just a few days after having Wesley--I basically bawled through the entire thing, too. :) Not only is the movie beautiful, but the message is so sweet. It just reminds me that motherhood is such a divine role; even when it's interspersed with insomnia, dirty diapers, and postpartum blues, it is all worth it in the end. 

Being a mother is the best job in the world!

Thanks for reading. I'd love to know your opinion, advice, and feelings about becoming a new mother. What helped you get through the baby blues? What inspired you to give every day your all, even when it was tough? Soon-to-be-moms--what fears do you have about becoming a mom that I might not have mentioned above? Let me know in the comments below and let's keep this conversation going. 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Welcoming Wesley: August 19, 2014

When I told my obstetrician that I was hoping for a natural birth, her response was this: "Keep an open mind." 

It was still weeks before the due date, but I had wanted my doctor to be on the same page as me. I briefly explained my birth plan to her--a plan which in my mind consisted of laboring at home until the contractions became consistently frequent, tossing all the hospital bags into the car in a frantic rush, driving the 3 minutes up the road to the hospital, and courageously managing the remainder of my labor without medications--and I felt confident that things would go as planned. But, the advice my doctor gave me weighed on my mind as I left the office that day. 

While I was hoping for a completely natural birth, I definitely didn't throw out my doctor's advice. Over the next few days and weeks, Matthew and I had several discussions where we considered other options, especially if there were complications during labor that would cause me to "give up" my desired birth plan. We talked about the possibility of being induced, or of needing the help of an epidural to manage my pain. And, as much as I didn't want to think about it, we even considered the route of c-section in case one was deemed necessary. But, after all this talk, I remained optimistic that Wesley would come on his own, without the help of medications, allowing me the at-home labor and unmedicated hospital experience I so desired. 

I guess that's why what happened in the coming weeks threw me for a loop.

Week 40

On August 12, we went in for my last doctor's appointment before Wesley's due date. I was already 3 cm dilated, so my doctor seemed pretty eager to, as she said, "get this baby delivered!" Matthew and I were still aiming for a natural labor at this point, so we asked if waiting until Monday (the 18th) for induction would be alright. **As a side note, you may remember that I was diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes late in my pregnancy. Although I was a VERY mild case of GD, my doctor still did not want me going a week past my due date. So, she wanted us to have the baby by the 20th. Matthew and I also had a timeline to keep to--we didn't want to share our anniversary (the 20th) with Baby Wesley's birthday. Basically, we realized that by inducing on Monday the 18, we could avoid having him born on the 20th all together AND appease my doctor's request of getting the baby out prior to 41 weeks.** She agreed that we could have the weekend to see if labor would start on its own, and that we would discuss induction on Monday if Wesley hadn't made his debut by then. Matthew and I went home content, expecting that within the week labor would have started all on its own and induction would not be necessary.

August 13 (his due date) came and went, and there weren't any signs of baby Wesley's arrival. That isn't too abnormal, seeing as most first babies come late. I tried going on daily walks, moving as much as I could to induce labor naturally, but baby Wesley was plenty content on staying where he was. So, as the weekend passed, I became overly anxious and upset that there hadn't been any progress. 

By Sunday night, Matthew and I realized that Wesley wasn't coming on his own. I cried a lot because I really wanted to go into labor naturally, to have the opportunity to see what my body does on its own without the help of medication. By this point, I realized that my ideal birth plan was slipping away and out of my reach; it was really difficult to let go of something I'd been preparing for for months. All the same, with the help of some prayer, a few good cries, and the support of my wonderful husband, I came to realize that this was not the end of the world; at the end of it all, I would have a baby in my arms and it wouldn't really matter HOW labor had come about--naturally or induced.

Going to the Hospital

On Monday evening, Matthew and I sat down to a nice home cooked meal of spaghetti. It was an interesting feeling knowing that in a few hours we would leave our apartment, pack our things in the car, and check into the hospital for the night. At 7:30 pm, August 18, we locked the door to our apartment and were on our way.
1 - Calling in to labor and delivery so they would unlock the door.  
2 - Me and my baby bump sportin' the cool robe I brought with me. 
Notice the swollen ankles and feet, too. :)
We got admitted to labor and delivery by 8 pm and I put on my spiffy cool robe (that I'd made myself). Then, we had to do a bunch of paperwork and answer about a hundred questions to make sure everything was in order (pregnant ladies who are already in labor when you get to the hospital, my question to you is this: how can you focus on getting through contractions AND answer all those questions at the same time? Props to you!) 

Between 9 and 10pm, a few nurses came in to monitor baby and I. One nurse came in and checked my cervix; apparently my OB had exaggerated slightly when she said I was 3 cm last week; the nurse said I was more like a 2 and that I was 65% effaced. She suggested that I get put on Pitocin right away to get contractions started (and when I say 'suggested', I mean that she probably would have defended this suggestion down to her grave; she was SO adamant about Pitocin!). This shocked Matthew and I a bit because we were under the impression that we were going to start Cervidil (a cervix ripening agent) tonight and then get put on Pitocin in the morning. At this point, we were still hopeful that the Cervidil would help induce labor and that I wouldn't need to be put on Pitocin at all. Also, the thought of starting Pitocin so late at night scared me; I was already pretty exhausted from the long day and I was NOT ready to stay up through the night laboring without having gotten at least a few hours of shut eye first. So, we declined the Pitocin and decided to go the Cervidil route first. 

By 11:00 at night, I was put on Cervidil. It needed to be in for 12 hours to work its magic, so all we had left to do was wait. Matthew got a full night's "rest" on the fold-out hospital bed while I spent the next 7 hours or so waking up to the beep of the baby monitor, taking bathroom breaks, or just watching the very inconsistent, bell-curve contractions appear on the screen next to my bed (contractions which I could not even feel half the time).

August 19

11:00 am arrived soon enough. The nurse came and checked my cervix--I had progressed one centimeter, now at a 3, and was now 90% effaced. So, while the Cervidil had not induced labor on its own, at least I had made some progress through the night.

By 12:15, an IV had been placed and my Pitocin inserted. They started the Pitocin on a very low dose--only 2 mU per minute--so even when the contractions started coming consistently, I couldn't feel them at all. They looked funny on the monitor, though; what used to look like a smooth bell curve, the contractions now looked like the jagged peaks of the Rocky mountains.  So, for the next hour or so, Matthew and I just played card games and talked while the contractions painlessly came and went. 

The Pitocin dosage was raised at about 1:30--now to 4 mU per minute--and I could actually feel the contractions when they came. It felt empowering to finally feel contractions and be able to work through them using the techniques I'd learned in birth class. I sat on a birth ball most of the time with Matthew supporting me from behind; he did a fantastic job at helping me breathe through each contraction! We also went on a few walks around the labor and delivery unit, towing my IV bag behind me. 

When they upped the dosage to 6 mU per minute, that's when the contractions really began to feel hard. I kept telling myself that good, strong contractions would help Wesley come into the world, so I welcomed the pain that came with each contraction. I felt completely in control; I was able to signal to Matthew that another contraction was starting and then he would coach me through the contraction using visualization techniques, soothing words, and deep cleansing breaths. In all honesty, my favorite part of the entire labor process was this part, when I got to depend entirely on my husband for support. I loved having Matthew there as my coach, speaking through the contractions, reminding me to breathe and relax. Yes! The contractions were hard--they felt like a tightening and lots of pressure--but they were bearable as I breathed through them and listened to my husband's guiding voice. Plus, after every contraction, there were a few minutes of rest; it’s amazing how just a few moments of rest helped invigorate me for the next contraction. 

By this point, I had been in active labor for a good couple of hours. It was now about 3 o'clock and I was definitely having to focus my attention entirely on each contraction. Again, they were not unbearable--I was able to manage the pain by simply focusing on my breathing--but the contractions did feel unnaturally strong and sharp, which I assume was an effect of the Pitocin. 

At about this time, I had to make my way to the bathroom to relieve myself (I know, tmi) and as I was sitting on the toilet, meanwhile going through 2 or 3 contractions, I started an internal conversation with myself:

  • I wanted an unmedicated labor, although now that plan has been totally changed due to induction. 
  • I’ve prepared myself for managing the pain using breathing techniques (which is working thus far), but I am not sure how much longer I will be in labor and thus, how much longer I will have to manage the pain.
  • The contractions will only get harder--more sharp--from here, and it may take up to an hour or so before an anesthesiologist can come to start my epidural. I better request one sooner rather than later…
  • I want to be far enough along that the epidural won’t stunt my progress. Ideally, the contractions I’ve been through these past few hours will have at least gotten me to 5 cm; if that’s the case I feel that an epidural would only help--not hinder--in managing my labor pain. 
  • I think I will ask for an epidural. 

All the while, Matthew was sitting right in front of me, holding my hands and talking me through another contraction. In between contractions, I briefly explained my thinking. I told him how the contractions weren’t unbearable at this point, but that I wanted to have my cervix checked for progress, and that I was considering having an epidural; he was completely supportive of my decision. 

Together we decided that if I was at least 5 cm dilated, we would go ahead and get the epidural right away. If I wasn’t yet at a 5, we would continue laboring without the epidural, hopefully to help my cervix dilate quicker. 

We called the nurse in and asked for a cervix check; she told us not to expect much, since I was still not in that much pain from the contractions. But, when she checked, she was surprised (as were we) to find out that I was already at a “ a 7!” When I heard that, I about cried. My initial goal going into labor was to get to a 7 on my own, and I HAD DONE IT! 

Within 10 minutes, the anesthesiologist was there and my epidural placed (I didn’t have to wait for him to finish with other patients like I had expected!). He was super funny and peppy, saying things like “In less than ten minutes, your pain will be gone” and “I’m the best there is! I just finished watching a YouTube video on how to place epidurals”. If I weren’t a sarcastic individual, these comments probably would have freaked me out, but instead it just lightened the mood and helped me smile. 

With the epidural in place, I looked up at Matthew (who was probably more happy and relieved than I was because his wife was now no longer in any pain) and smiled. I could still feel my toes--in fact I could wiggle them--but I could no longer move my legs very easily. They felt very heavy, like they were made of cement, and it required assistance from the nurse to move positions. My epidural was very light, meaning that I could tell when contractions came, but this time instead of feeling the need to breathe through the contractions, I was simply able to relax; that was a very nice change. 

Just after getting an epidural
The next few hours passed. I ate jello. I read Harry Potter. Matthew and I just waited, anticipating the arrival of our son which was drawing ever closer. 

At 6:00, my doctor came in and checked my cervix. She said I was at a 9 and she went ahead and broke my bag of waters. Great! I was thinking. This baby will be out in a matter of hours. 

I was expecting Wesley to come by about 8 or so, which is why the next 5 hours seemed to go so slowly. I’m not exactly sure what happened in those next 5 hours or at what time certain “landmark” events took place. All I know is that between breaking my bag of waters and the pushing stage, I started to feel a lot of pressure in, how can I put this nicely? derriere. 

Looking back on it, it was probably just a REALLY bad Charly Horse, but it would not go away. Matthew tried to massage it, put counterpressure on it, and even place heating pads on the sore area, but the pressure would not go away. We tried a bunch of different positions, so I spent some time on my left side, then on my right, then on all fours. I was moaning and groaning and I think the nurses thought I was dying from all the sound I was making. In reality, I might have been overreacting just slightly, but the moaning seemed to help distract me from the pain I was feeling. 

Somewhere amidst all of that, the nurse checked me again and I was only at an 8! I’m telling you, my doctor must have small fingers because her examinations of my cervix seem to always be more exaggerated than reality. So...I was back to an 8. I think it was like 9 pm by now? Question mark? I really have no idea. 

Matthew was the biggest support through all of this. It was really hard to manage the feeling of intense pressure down in my pelvic area. It probably had a lot to do with the fact that Wesley’s head was dropping lower into my cervix, thus causing a lot of pressure in my lower back and buttocks. But, the hardest part was just not knowing when all of this would be over; I didn't know when the pressure would be relieved. I kept moaning through the pain and hoping that my contractions would help open that cervix to a 10! 

10! The magic number! It was around 10 pm when the nurse finally checked me again. I had been complaining that I really wanted to push. Matthew kept telling me to “resist the urge because at that point we thought I was still at an 8 or 9. But when the nurse checked again, her words were like music to my ears: “Go ahead and push whenever you feel like it.” I looked up at Matthew with relief as I said, unbelievingly, “Really?”. 

I was so happy. Pushing never felt SO good! The nurse told me to curve my back, bringing my neck to my chest, and then bear down with each contraction and push as if I were going #2. Lovely image, right? At this point, it felt so good to push because I knew the baby had to come out soon, that it was the final stretch. 

Minutes into pushing, Matthew was sitting next to me, talking me through and saying how great I was doing. I almost didn’t believe him when he said that I was really close to delivering the baby (apparently, right from the first few pushes, Matthew could see Wesley's head!).

So, the baby would have come out in about 10 minutes...had the doctor been there. I was so eager to push Baby Wesley out, that the nurse had to start telling me NOT to push. Ugh. You just gave me permission to push, and then you tell me to stop? That was even harder to control. Matthew tried to console me and remind me not to push, but my body was still trying to push on its own. I cried a lot at this point because I was having a hard time understanding why I wasn't allowed to push. 

It wasn’t until I asked the nurse, “Why can’t I push?” that I started to believe just how close this baby was to being born. She replied “If you push, the baby will come out!”. My doctor was still a few minutes away, so I continued to try and breathe through the contractions rather than push. doctor ran through the door (it was probably 10:45 now?) and got settled in to deliver the baby! A few more rounds of good, strong pushes, with my handsome husband as a cheerleader right beside me, and I watched a miracle occur: my Wesley--our Wesley--was pulled into existence. The doctor held him up and surprisingly, my first words were not “There’s my baby” or even “Look what we made!”. Instead, I looked to Matthew, who was standing to my right, and sighed “It’s over” to which he simply smiled. :) 

The feelings inside me were of relief. Of happiness. They cleaned Wesley off a bit and placed him on my chest. I stared at him as he stared back. The doctor stitched me up (I tore a bit) and cleaned up the mess that had been made. All the while, I just watched Baby Wesley with gratitude in my heart that all had gone well. Matthew and I admired our son and breathed a sigh of relief that labor was complete.

The Joys of Parenthood 

At 10:56 pm on August 19, a 9 lb 6 oz baby named Wesley Hase Young made his entry into the world. Since then, he’s been an absolute joy to our family. I love watching Matthew hold him, play piano for him, read him stories. I love cuddling with him, taking naps on the couch with him on my stomach, and bonding with him via breastfeeding. I love his squishy cheeks, his inquisitive eyes, and his little fingers and toes. I love him. 

Besides learning to be a mom now, I’ve already learned a lot about myself and about how miraculous a woman’s body is. Looking back on my birth experience, I’m only slightly disappointed that I didn’t get the natural labor that I had planned originally. But, I found something before being induced that I hope will help others as it has helped me; you never know what will happen with the “birth plan” you’ve created and this has helped me to realize that it doesn’t really matter whether things go as planned, as long as you keep the bigger picture in mind:

“A birth plan that takes many different possibilities into account can help you be prepared, and empowered to make decisions consistent with your personal needs and values should any unexpected events occur during delivery. In the end, remember that the most important part of the delivery process is the little person you’re delivering.

Thanks for reading! Feel free to ask any questions, leave comments, or just enjoy the postpartum pictures below.

In his Daddy's arms

Introducing...Wesley Hase Young

Mom, Dad, and Baby are doing great!