Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Story of Wilder

About 6 weeks ago, I sat down with the intent to update this blog. I started a draft that got sidelined and is now being re-worked into multiple posts to better share with you the crazy intense year that has been 2016!

When I started writing the post, I was 39 weeks and a few days pregnant. Which was the most pregnant I'd ever been in my life! All my children were born at either 39 weeks or 38 weeks.

In keeping with the pace of this year, this baby took his time - drawing things out with a certain amount of drama and anticipation. I would have expected nothing less.  God has used pretty much every day of this year to teach me to rely wholly on Him, His timing, His control.  I have a history of wrestling with God over control.  This year, I may have fully surrendered on that front, as God has tested and retested and then tested yet again to see whether I really learned the lesson.

As I explained to my sister, Rachel, every day this year has unfurled slowly and deliberately, almost like a cartoon image of a page being turned oh - so - slowly by an unseen hand.

This pregnancy was no different. I couldn't rely or plan on anything for certain.  I wasn't sure where we'd be when I delivered the baby...I wasn't sure whether I'd be able to have a home birth (this baby stayed breech up to close to the very end)...and then I went past my due date, which was a new experience for me, so it felt like I really might not ever HAVE a baby.

I have heard that the more pregnancies you have, the more accommodating your womb is - size-wise. My 4th child, Wyeth, was breech until the day before I went into labor.  This little one was breech until about 38 weeks. In fact, my midwife manually turned the baby twice, Kyle and I did moxibustion and inversions, I had a prenatal massage to loosen up anything that might be tight, and I even manually turned the baby myself one night. Which, contrary to what you might have heard, is not painful. Or rather, my personal experience is that it's not painful when done by an experienced midwife...or myself.

In addition to the breech issue, I had several false starts with this baby.  I would wake up with regular contractions in the middle of the night that just faded away. My sister-in-law, Melissa, was due pretty much the same time as me, and she also went a week over her due date.  She delivered early early on a Thursday morning, and interestingly, we were both having contractions the same day. Hers just was the real thing, and I think mine were sympathy contractions!

Exactly a week later, on October 20th, I experienced my "real thing."
I had been praying and hoping that my labor would begin with my water breaking, because that's the way my labors began with Dorien and Wyeth and they were both pretty nice, short labors. It helps when that water breaks first. Also, I never "drop" like a lot of women. I carry my babies high, until that water breaks and then they plop down into the pelvic bones and engage. I can't tell you how many people commented on how high I was carrying.

As I mentioned in my previous post, a move to Chicago was in the works, and I was in a limbo state of packing, but not really packing in earnest, because things were still up in the air regarding the sale of our house. But the Wednesday night before my labor began, August, Dorien and I hit the library hard - boxing up row after row of books. We made such great progress, and I think in the back of my head I suspected it would be good to make that progress since I could have a baby very soon.

Sure enough, at 3:15 am Wednesday night, while sleeping soundly, I felt a sharp pain that woke me up. My water has broken before with a loud "POP" (Dorien's birth) and a silent gush that startled me awake (Wyeth), but never a sharp pang.  I got up to go to the bathroom and it was like a gallon of water poured out. I am not exaggerating. I knew I had a lot of amniotic fluid in order for the baby to be flipping as easily as he was, and I was right. There was so much of it, I stood in the tub to catch it all. Then, I grabbed a towel and waddled down the hall to alert Kyle. It was the real thing!

I called my midwife, Mary, who asked if I was having contractions (no), and told me to call her in about 30 minutes with an update. In the interim, I called my best friend, Emily, and alerted her. She was going to be present during the birth, and had a bit of a drive to our house. I texted my friend, Holly, a midwife apprentice who's been at 4 out of my 5 births. I also called my parents so my Dad could come get Wyeth and Dorien. Brooklyn and August wanted to be there for the birth. Kyle turned on my Penguin Cafe Pandora station as our "mood music."

My contractions began around 3:45, and they were not bad.  My friend Emily arrived, followed closely by my midwife. Mary set her stuff up and I relaxed between contractions, chatting with Emily and Kyle and the kids. Holly showed up around 5:40.  The contractions were never more than 50 seconds and never incredibly intense.  I stood up almost the whole time, just circling my hips and relaxing my body. Kyle and I were totally in sync, and it was a beautiful experience. I felt so connected to him. I also just felt surrounded by love - I had my husband, two of my dearest girlfriends present, my trusted midwife and two of my sweet children. It felt blissful.

  I can honestly say that at no point did the contractions feel really intense. They were all pretty moderate. It was truthfully, a blend of pleasure/pain. I didn't mind them at all.  And suddenly, around 5:40, I started feeling an urge to push, which seemed quick. My midwife checked me and I was more like 5cm - not fully dilated - which was disheartening and frustrating because I really was feeling that pushing urge! What was I supposed to do? And at the same time, the baby's heartrate dropped. They weren't sure whether there was cord compression or what...given the amount of flipping the baby had done, it could be anything. I think they had this mental picture of the baby being all tied up in the cord.

Mary and Holly had me get into a different position - hands and knees on my bed, face down on the bed, bum up in the air - basically to shift the baby out of my pelvis and hopefully remove pressure from whatever was being compressed. Mary had me hold that position for about 7 minutes, during a few more contractions, using her fingers to fully dilate me during the contractions. It sounds awful, and she kept apologizing, but it really wasn't bad. Since there was no baby head pressing down during the contractions, it wasn't painful. I just had to concentrate on fully relaxing my body - and I had a sense of peace that things were going to be fine. My past three deliveries, there has always been a drop in heartrate because my labors happen so quickly, the baby is rushed through the birth canal.

Pretty soon, Mary said I was fully dilated, and I could change positions. Good! Because I really had to pee! I raced to the bathroom, emptied my bladder and immediately had the urge to push. I think I made a sound that alerted everyone, because in 2 seconds, the bathroom was filled with people! Kyle standing by me, Mary kneeling in front of me, Holly crouching beside her, Emily against the wall snapping pics with Holly's phone, Brooklyn and August peering around the corner quietly. It was pretty funny seeing everyone crammed into such a tight space!

I stood up, over the toilet, and I remember registering the thought that I hoped this baby didn't fall into the toilet! Mary was taking care of that, though, as she draped a blue chux pad over the pot. I supported myself with one arm on the window ledge, one arm on the cabinet beside me and I focused on Kyle who was whispering encouragement to me.  Meanwhile, in the space of that one half-push, Mary said, yep, we have a head. I could not have been more surprised! How was that possible? I tried to relax and not push the whole head out, but let it ease out. I scanned my body and felt ok, like I could rest for second. So I did. Then, I gave one big push, and on Thursday, October 20, 2016 at 6:02 am, out slithered a little body! A quick glance told me that it was a boy! What do ya know?

He was big and healthy and squawking immediately. He was beautiful. Born exactly 2 hours and 45 minutes after my water broke. Not a bad way to deliver a baby.

We named him Wilder Eames.
The middle name is pronounced Aimes...not Ee, like the designers.

He weighed 9 lb, 8 oz. and was 21.5 inches long.

Feels like our family is complete. One beautiful daughter and four handsome sons.

I could not be more richly blessed.
Praise the Lord for such an overflow of blessings.

Big Happenings

There are several big reasons why I've been very remiss in updating my blog this year. The first reason is that we expanded our family by one. Yes, I had another baby - our fifth child and our fourth boy!  In previous pregnancies, I was fairly consistent in recording my progress via belly pictures and general updates, but this last pregnancy, I deemed it a success if I remembered to take any pictures at ALL of my belly, and blogging simply fell by the wayside.

Why is that, you ask? Well, along with being pregnant with baby #5, this year contained possibly the biggest change of our lives yet - a cross-country move from North Little Rock to Chicago!

As I write this, we have been here one full week.

Which means there is much to update you on.

And I will update you, beginning with the story of the birth of our 5th child...

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Master Bathroom Renovation

For reasons which will become clear very soon, I am finding it important to document the final project I have undertaken here on Goshen. It is our master bathroom.
This was basically the final piece of my vision for this house, and it was accomplished over a period of about 2-3 months this year of 2016.

Here is what it looked like before:

And after.


A tired Jacuzzi tub from 1994 which looked pretty nasty and was sloped slightly, causing it to leak periodically and drip down into the foyer ceiling.  In order to fix it, we needed a new tub. If we needed a new tub, why not just re-work the whole set-up?

So we did.

One more view of the before....
I didn't change everything...I kept the cabinet, as it serves some practical purposes.
And I left the original tile on the floor.

Here's the other side of the room...

And it's transformation....

And here's how it all came to be...

For the majority of the work, I hired the same tile guy I'd used to do the tile and marble installation in my kitchen.


Bye-bye old tiles!

I replaced the old Jacuzzi tub with a 19" Kohler soaker tub. I was so excited about this!

Fresh, clean, modern.

I replaced the old square white tiles with subway tiles with dark grout.

As this house is old, the walls were shaped in such a way as to complicate things for my poor tile guy, but he was incredibly patient and thorough and did a great job!

Progress being made.

Finally all tiled with the grout in, and my new faucet fixtures up! 
I got a Kohler Purist faucet (ordered online), and I love the way it looks!

My vision was to surround the tub with marble, which matched the marble baseboards already in the bathroom.  

I was so pleased!

I love it all!

After the tiling was all complete, I repainted the whole room (Sherwin Williams Bosporus), repainted the mirror, replaced the sconces and towel holder. 

I also removed the towel bar, replaced them with hooks to use instead, and I installed a little glass shelf over the hooks. 

A better look at the shower with the new paint color.

New tile around the toilet and cabinet.

I replaced the cabinet door pulls with these simple brass pulls. I also put some on the wooden sink cabinet.

I got these floating shelves from Ikea and used them instead of the wall cabinet we'd had previously.
And as a final touch, I replaced the nasty "boob" light with a fixture from Cedar and Moss. I'll have to add the picture for that later. It's this one...

And for now, folks, that's all! It's a dramatic improvement in both style and functionality, and I am extremely pleased with how it all came together. And even better, it came in under budget! Gotta love that.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Gallery Bathroom

I think it's worth it to show you the transformation our half bath underwent as part of the whole kitchen/breakfast room transformation.
Above is the BEFORE picture.
Red walls, ugly tile was tired and needed a change.

We decided to go with one of my favorite colors....a super dark blue that I also used in my nursery.
I wanted to create a room that was rich in color, like a jewel box. And I wanted to cover the walls with art.

New wood floors in place, toilet and vanity back in position...all we lack is the art.

Which Kyle (and Wyeth) and I played around with until we got it just right.

Here is the final result.
My lovely gallery bathroom.

Each piece of art is special to us, some because we did it ourselves, others because they are favorite artists of ours.

Even the towel holder (a "Come Here" ceramic finger holder) is special and unique. 

Friday, July 8, 2016

Kitchen Renovation - Phase 2

The second phase of the kitchen renovation began in 2015 and involved replacing the tile countertops and backsplash with marble and subway tiles, respectively.  I also changed out my cast-iron sink with a farmhouse sink, installed a new faucet, replaced all the cabinet door and drawer fronts, put in slide-out shelving for my heavy pots and pans, put wooden lazy susans in my corner lower cabinetry and installed new pendant lights over the sink work area.  And last but not least, painted all the new cabinetry.

The first step was the selection of marble. I picked out a slab of Carrera marble - the one pictured above. It's funny how you can fall in love with a piece of marble. It happens. Trust me.

One key complaint I had about my sink area was the window sill behind the sink.  It was, as you can see, very faceted and caught all kinds of dirt, grime, splashes, etc. In short, it was a total pain to keep clean and looked cluttered to me. I wanted that changed as part of the marble installation.

We experimentally repainted the brown walls a white color, which ended up appearing slightly lavender to me. I decided to change the color along the way, but when the hard work began on the kitchen, the walls were white.

Here are the "before" pictures of the cabinet fronts, backsplash and countertops.

Rather than hiring a contractor for this, I sourced it all and hired all the individual specialists myself. I ordered all the "things", the Blanco farmhouse sink, lighting, hardware, wooden lazy susans...all online on various websites. I ended up saving tons of money doing it this way.  I estimate (from quotes I was given) that I saved about $10,000 being my own contractor.

Obviously, before work can begin, the room must be cleared.

What an amazing sight that is!

But then it all has to go someplace....which ended up being my dining room table.

I ended up finding a marble fabricator who fabricated and installed my countertops, as well as removing my countertops and the backsplash and installing the subway tiles for me. He was wonderful, and I ended up using him to do my recent master bathroom renovation.

In the process of removing the old tiles, several ants nests were discovered in the insulation behind it. Talk about absolutely disgusting. I hate ants more than just about anything.

The sink in place and awaiting its marble top.

Also waiting for its marble...

And there it is. Masterfully fit into the corner cabinets and looking truly truly fabulous.

The veining of this particular slab looked almost like statuarietto marble, but it's not! It's carrerra which is much less expensive than the more heavily veined statuarietto.

Sink in place. Marble in place. New faucet installed. 
I loved the squared off, modern faucet. It's from Danze.

So pretty!

Subway tile goes up next.

Getting closer!

New shaker front cabinet doors were next.

Even unpainted, they were a huge improvement.
And you can see the ledge that was built for me at the base of the windows to replace the elaborate sills that used to be there. Simple, elegant.

The other side of the room.

A different view...

Then the lights!  I ordered pendant lights from Cedar and Moss, a Portland-based company. I have since ordered additional lights from them and continue to be impressed.

The light these now shed on my sink/work area was a vast improvement!

Here is one of the corner cabinets which house some huge lazy susans. They were plastic and cracking and also had a big pie-wedge missing which didn't make sense for the space. I removed them and replaced them with wooden, D-shaped ones which fit the space perfectly.. I did the removal and installation myself.

It involved a fair amount of wiggling around on my back in a tight space, but was very satisfying! 

Mid-spin, they are not lined up evenly in the picture. But they are strong, sturdy and functional!

During our week vacation to Captiva last year, the upper and lower cabinets were painted for us. 
The lower cabinets are Sherwin-Williams Naval, and the upper cabinets are Sherwin Williams Origami White.

It made me indescribably happy to see it all taking shape and color.

I love the crispness of this room. The navy, grey marble, white subway tiles and cabinets, silver appliances.

And the sink perspective.

I installed all the hardware myself, too. 
A lesson in measuring and lots of patience.

It truly just makes me happy.

It looked so wonderful without anything in there, it was really hard to put my things back. And I did pare back as much as I could on what went onto the counters. 

Above is the "Before" new counters and cabinets, etc.