Today I feel so blessed. Last night I finished my first read through of this document. It is probably the most amazing story I’ve ever read. Because it’s my story. It’s the story of those who made sacrifices and tough … Continue reading

Lesson in First Time Motherhood #3 Daddy’s are Important!

20140729-095015.jpgI am very fortunate. I not only have a husband, I have the best husband on the planet. I know a few single mothers. Some the dad’s are in the picture and some the dad’s are not. I am amazed by these women. I lean on my husband A LOT. There is no way I could do this parenting thing without him. I’m eternally grateful to have such a wonderful supporter and partner. He works tirelessly to make sure that Mo and I have everything we need. For you single mothers out there, I applaud you and I marvel at your abilities. I’m not sure I could do what you are doing for your kids. For those of you ladies that do have Daddy on board, this one’s for you.

You are a team regardless of who has chosen to take care of the kid’s full time or if you are planning to have childcare a part of your day, you are a team. Daddy’s job started right when she came out of the womb. Since I had a C-section Daddy was in charge of all diaper changes, helping me to the bathroom, passing the baby to me when it was time to eat, walking and bouncing baby to sleep, etc. He was very busy as I was not able to move much and I was taking some pretty powerful painkillers. It was also Daddy’s job to watch Mommy closely so if I fell asleep while holding baby he could come in and put her in a safe place. There were many times I fell asleep mid feeding and he was there to make sure that both mommy and baby were safe. His job was never ending.

We had many challenges with breast feeding and continue to have challenges. My husband’s job in the beginning was to put together and then wash my pumping supplies for every feeding until I could muster up enough energy to get out of bed and do it myself. I can honestly say with all of my heart and without a doubt, I would not be breast feeding my child if it wasn’t for the constant support I received from my husband. Now that our daughter is 8 months old his job is still going. She is not the best eater so I pump frequently and regularly which means that a lot of the housework and cooking falls on my husband because I’m busy being hooked up to the “mechanical parasite” (as my husband calls the breast pump). He is not happy about this but he does it because he loves us.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Daddy’s are important!

Lessons in First Time Motherhood: Lesson #1 Breast Feeding is HARD!

I was asked “What is the most difficult part of being a mom so far?” Breastfeeding. Hands down. No arguments. My husband agrees with me and he’s not even the one doing it!
Breast feeding was one of my non-negotiables going into parenthood. I planned to be a stay at home mom which means that my role changed from making money to conserving it. It was and is important for me to keep my milk flowing to conserve finances. Formula isn’t cheap!
Before I gave birth I spent countless hours watching You Tube videos, reading online forums and asking questions to my lovely sisters about breast feeding. I’m so very glad that I did. You can ask my sisters, I asked and continue to ask A LOT of questions about breast feeding and quite frankly I’m still not an expert.

The #1 lesson I’ve learned is: Breast feeding is something a Mom and dad have to be proactive about. (yes I said dad too) There is a small window of time where you can fool your body into thinking your baby needs more milk than it does. I found this little supply and demand trick extremely useful as I had to give Moriah a bottle to supplement her feeding because she had a hard time latching on for the first few weeks of her life. When she was first born I never gave her formula. I stocked my freezer full because you never know what could happen. And if you’re planning on going back to work after you have a baby and want to give your baby breast milk you REALLY need to be proactive!
My little bits of advice for first time mom’s is buy all the supplies. Get it all. I had a Brest Friend AND a boppy and I used them both. I had wonderful sisters who stocked me full of things I didn’t even know what they were and it was so wonderful to open up my drawer and see everything that I needed just waiting for me. I had no idea what a nipple shield was, or storage bags, or covers, or pads, the list goes on. I have used every single bit of it. True, I used a majority of it in the first 3 months of her life but I used it all. In my opinion, breast feeding supplies are not where you want to conserve your baby budget.


Daddy: the champion bottle feeder.

Another lesson I’ve learned in this new motherhood experience is: Daddy’s are a big deal. I never thought I would have needed so much help from my husband and I’m very thankful for my husband’s servant heart. I would never have succeeded in breast feeding if it weren’t for his constant support and encouragement. I really thought when it came to breast feeding the responsibility would fall completely on my shoulders and I couldn’t have been more wrong. He was right there with me. While I held our upset hungry daughter he was right here to keep my frustration at a minimum. The lactation nurse taught him how to put together the breast pumping equipment and how to clean it while we were still in the hospital. She also taught him how to suck up the colostrums that I pumped out into a syringe and then expel it into my breast shield so that Moriah could eat it with little effort on her part. It came to a point where trying to eat was burning too many calories and she was losing weight at a rapid pace and needed to be bottle fed. Bottle feeding was his responsibility as I was again, hooked up to the mechanical parasite (aka breast pump).

Another shock: babies lose weight after they are born. I didn’t know that, but it makes sense as they are learning how to eat. One of the nurses on the night shift felt my pain as I struggled to feed my baby and went to get me a breast shield and I’m so thankful that she did. Most mothers don’t even know what a breast shield is and that’s a good thing. It’s really a last resort type of thing, and that’s because you will have to re-teach your baby how to breast feed if you use it as regularly as I had too. Moriah was small, had a shallow gag reflex, and wasn’t born through the vaginal canal. All things that were stacked against us, thankfully she was never jaundice. That was really the only thing working for us. That was truly a miracle.

Despite all that was mentioned above one bit of advice I got was spot on. It’s totally worth it! I was going to breast feed her if it killed me (and I think it almost has several times, but that may be another post). There’s nothing like the bonding time you get with your child. It’s a little piece of heaven on earth when your little one stops feeding, looks up at you and smiles as milk drips down both sides of her face. It’s like she’s saying “Oh wow, my mommy is so pretty and I love her so much.” After 3 visits to lactation consultants after we left the hospital and two visits to the chiropractor to give Moriah adjustments to get her to have the sucking reflex. She’s now 8 months old and breastfeeding. She’s distracted, but that’s because she’s 8 months old. Breast feeding is messy, painful, frustrating and can be incredibly difficult but I still maintain that it’s totally worth every hurdle you may face. Now if you’ll excuse me I need to get back to drinking my Mothers Milk tea.



Milk Coma’s are so adorable.

Moriah’s Birth Story Part 2

I called my mom and got her voicemail, called dad, sister, brothers, and in laws. Called Mom again and it went to voicemail. Called my Grandmas, sent a text message to my friends, and then called Mom to once again get her voicemail. There’s just something about having a baby that makes you want to talk to your mom and all I got was her voicemail. COME ON! She did finally call me back after my sister in law chased her down.

After the doctor’s office we went back to work to let our employers know what was happening. My husband really needed to keep himself busy as the surgery wasn’t scheduled for a few hours. After a while I went home to “get ready”. I think this mainly consisted of me wandering around my house not really doing anything. I needed a few minutes to myself to think and pray. I don’t cry in front of people much but when I’m alone I let her rip. The tears flowed and flowed. I sat in her room and touched her things. I’m not sure there’s anything more terrifying than being a parent and the reality of that fact was hitting me hard in that instant.

I remember saying her name over and over while I cried and rubbed her little head up in my ribcage. And then I heard his whisper, “Joanna why do you want to name her Moriah?” My answer, “Because Moriah is the place that you chose to be your holy place.” “That’s right. I chose her. She is mine. I’ve got this.” “Okay Lord, with you in charge, I can do this.”SAM_2906

A few hours later we were in the hospital and I was more nervous than I had ever been in my life. I can’t imagine what my face looked like at that moment when they handed me the hospital gown and showed me to my room. I was so terrified they couldn’t get my IV in my arm. I was calm on the outside but on the inside the waves were rocking and the storm was moving in. My doctor came in and there was just something about having MY doctor there that calmed my nerves. I asked him if I would be able to watch the C-section and he said “SURE!” They walked me into the operating room and the less than glamorous process began. My doctor set up a mirror and I was able to watch my daughters little body emerge bum first out of my belly. It was still the most magical moment of my life even if it wasn’t at all what I had planned.SAM_2909

Moriah means “The Lord is my Teacher” and I have a feeling the Lord is going to use this little girl to teach her Mama. Her birth was only the first of many lessons he will be teaching me. I learned that parenting is all about trusting the Lord. I can’t control anything. I can’t control how she was born and I won’t be able to control her future. The power of a praying Mama is one of the most powerful forces in the universe. And I have to trust that he will always know what is best for my sweet little princess.

My first look at my sweet little Mo. :)

My first look at my sweet little Princess Mo. 🙂

Moriah’s Birth Story Part 1

It is time to post it! The long awaited birth story of my first born.  Honestly, there is so much emotion wrapped up into that experience that it’s hard for me to sort out my thoughts and write it all out. But I guess I’ll start from the beginning and see where it takes me. That’s what blogging is about, right?

My Mom has always told me that I’ve never done things “the way everyone else does”. I tend to march to the beat of my own drum, however, when it came to childbirth I was perfectly fine with the experience being just like everyone else. I wanted to go into labor, have contractions for hours and hours, have a baby emerge from my nether regions, and then recover. Lynn and I had planned it, the doctor was on board with our plan and that was just the way it would be! Yes, that is how this is going to go. HA!

Prior to the main event I was doing my research and asked my sister to tell me her birth stories of when her boys were born. I wanted to have some examples of what I might be able to expect. The best advice I got was from my sister in law, “don’t expect anything, be flexible, and just go with it.” I remember telling my sister that I wasn’t afraid of the pain or the labor. My biggest fear in the world was a Cesarean Section. I just didn’t want that. The idea of it freaked me out and why anyone would actually want one was beyond me.

I went in for my 36 week appointment and everything looked great. Baby was positioned perfectly but she still needed to keep cooking for a while longer. A few days later I came down with a nasty fever. I have to say that being sick while pregnant is miserable. I only had a fever but man I was shocked I survived. I spent most of that week on the couch.

My 37 week appointment came. Fever had finally broken a few days earlier and I was back to just feeling huge and pregnant. My super awesome doctor came in and did his measurements, poked around my belly and decided that all was normal. He went to check the heartbeat, those of you that have been following my blog know that hearing that heartbeat is a big deal to my husband and I, at every appointment I think both my husband and I hold our breath until we hear that gentle thumping. Then a sigh of relief would escape our lips when it was there. However, this time the heartbeat wasn’t easy to find. Every other appointment the doctor rarely had to search to find it but this time it couldn’t be found. I saw my doctors face change from happy and relaxed to concern and confusion. He moved the wand all over my belly and finally after what seemed like an eternity found her heart beat up in my ribcage. She had flipped and was now breach. That wasn’t all; the fluid levels in my uterus had dramatically dropped. Time started to move really slow and yet my mind was moving really fast. The doctor left the room to see if he could get us in for an ultrasound. My husband started pacing and I tried to remain calm. I prayed, “Jesus, just so we’re clear, I’m really okay if you don’t use childbirth as one of those teaching experiences to grow my character. I would rather you wouldn’t.” But that’s not how Jesus works and I knew that I would have to find a way to trust him.

The doctor came back in and informed us that the ultrasound department was busy so he took us to a back room and did an ultrasound on what I assume is one of the “old” machines. His suspicions were confirmed, I had 2 cm of fluid. At this point in my pregnancy I should have 15 cm of fluid. After hearing that I stopped listening to what the doctor was saying. He continued to talk “doctor talk” to my husband for several minutes while I laid there in an almost passed out state. After a few minutes,  I broke my zone and asked the doctor point blank “do I need to have a C-section?” Which followed by my husband asking, “Doc, are we going to be parents today?” With a slightly disappointed look on his face he said “Yes, we need to get you in today or there could be further complications. I’m sorry these things just happen. I know it’s not what we talked about.”

At the time I didn’t ask what he meant by “further complications” the thought of it made me very uneasy. The doctor left to get us scheduled at the hospital while Lynn and I stayed in the little room, prayed, and shed a few tears. We reassured each other that she was okay and we were going to be parents today! I tried very hard to focus on the excitement of the situation, but I was terrified.

The doctor came back and we were scheduled to become parents early that evening. As we were walking out of the doctor’s office I looked at Lynn and said, “I better call my Mom.”

The Little Blue Dress

Sometimes I need a reality check. I posted before about a pipe break in our main living area. I’ve been walking on concrete floors for a little over a 2 months now. I realize it takes time to coordinate repairs but walking out to see my main living space in such madness has been wearing my nerves thin.

Last night my sweet baby woke up at least 5 times wanting to eat. I walked downstairs in a dreary fog at 7 am greeted by my musty smelling floors I was going to wake up. I proceeded to finish the feeding ritual and watch the morning news while I tried to find some ounce of strength to start packing boxes so the new floors could one day be put in. Then my husband calls to tell me that the production schedule will be pushed back into February and I feel my nerves are about to burst! Out loud I prayed “my baby isn’t sleeping well, my house is a mess, and my milk supply is dwindling. How am I supposed to feed this baby in all this madness?! Help me Lord!” Anxiety took over and what I thought was starting my day turned into me pacing a cross the cement floor. I found myself staring out the window blankly. The baby was sound asleep and my home was quiet. “I need fresh air,” I thought.

I grabbed my keys and walked to the mailbox to find a package from Target. “What did I buy?” I walked back to my house and opened the package to find a little blue dress, I didn’t buy anything, someone else bought my daughter a special dress.


Me sometime around 1984

The tears started to flow. It was definitely a special “mommy moment” for me. When I was little I had a very special little blue dress. It was made by a neighbor and given to my parents when I was little. It was MY dress and when you have a younger sister there are very few times in life when something is yours and doesn’t have to be shared.

Our family dedication was in January. My mom asked if she could get my daughter something special to wear. I told her to go ahead and pick out something special for my daughter to wear. I trust her judgment. The package came and it was a little blue dress. I’ve been trying to plan a special party for our family to commemorate this wonderful occasion but all of my plans kept falling through. Nothing was working out the way I wanted it too and on top of that my house was in such disarray that I could barely think straight.

Now I sit, in a fit of tears realizing that I don’t’ need a party. I’ve been extra hard on myself since the pipe broke. I want to be a great stay at home mom. I want to clean my house and make everything look perfect. I want to have everything in order when my husband gets home so that he can just focus on our daughter. But so far, that hasn’t happened. This little blue dress has helped me see the important things in life. I have a wonderfully supportive extended family, amazing friends, a new baby girl and a husband who showers our home with love every day. And now, a little blue dress. God is good.

Picture 12

She may be laying on our new floor. 🙂


My First Proud Mama Moment

I went to a garage sale today. At 24 weeks pregnant, this is the first time I went shopping for “baby stuff.”  I will admit it has taken me awhile to allow myself to get excited and actually start shopping. As I searched through the girls clothes, I think it finally hit me: “I’m having a little girl!” I searched through the big girls clothes for fun and found multicolored tights and dresses and my excitement grew. “I’m going to have a baby girl.” I said out loud to myself in my car for the first time as all my sweet little purchases smiled up at me from the passenger seat.

I came home and after defrosting the fridge and starting another load of laundry, I sat down to finish the lesson I had planned for the following day’s leadership meeting.  The lesson was all about a small group curriculum I use in my own small group called “bible storying.” It might sound cheesy or even childish but we do this every Monday night in our 20-30 something small group and I have yet to grow bored with the concept. The leadership training manual I was teaching from began to give examples of “bible storying” success. One story was about a little girl who overheard her parents talking about someone’s daughter who was “lost.” She proceeded to ask her dad, “Who lost their daughter, daddy?” And her dad explained that their daughter was choosing not to follow Jesus. The young girl proceeded to tell her Dad that the daughter of his friend was like Peter from a story she had overheard a few weeks earlier in her parent’s small group: the young girl was looking at the waves instead of Jesus so she began to sink.

A smile crossed my face, I think back to earlier in the day when I dug through piles of little tights and dresses. I can almost see my daughter at 7 years old “schooling” her own father or myself on bible application through her innocent eyes. I look forward to how she can teach us new insights that our adulthood and life experience may have kept us from seeing. She is half my husband’s daughter so I would be shocked if she doesn’t tell all her friends about how amazing this man called Jesus is and how she loves Him, or at least I hope and pray that she communicates like her dad. That is our favorite topic in my marriage already. As I allowed myself to dream about her, I realized I’m so proud of her already and she’s still just squirming in my belly.Image

These are my thoughts… I think.


Baby Girl Due October 19th 2013

I’ve had many requests from people wanting to know what is going through my head during pregnancy. Well, this is a challenge. I have a TERRIBLE case of pregnancy brain where my brain decides when it wants to work. I was just trying to update some blog posts and write a few more when my brain just… stopped. I wasn’t finished but my brain decided it was done. So, this is my first pregnancy post. I would venture to guess that if you have ever been pregnant you know exactly what I’m talking about. I’ve searched and tried to find something that I want to write about but the fact of the matter remains there’s only one thought that runs through my head daily, I thank God for the miracle He has given me. I will never forget the day when all I wanted was to be pregnant again and for that reason I wake up every day thanking God that I am still pregnant. (Read more about my story here) I won’t allow myself to forget the blessing that He has given to me. I am blessed and I will be thankful everyday. For now, these are my thoughts… I think.

My First Jack Bauer Moment

Since my sister’s birthday is coming up this weekend AND Jack Bauer will soon be returning to television what better post to kick off my relaunch than this one? I’ve taken a little time off but I hope to be back up and running in no time. Enjoy!!!BekandIsleeping

As children we were always finding ways to get into mischief. It’s really all my parents fault. They were the ones who encouraged my siblings and I to be overly creative farm kids. Summer vacation is when my creative genius was at its finest.

Long summer days with 4 children home all day left my mother in a state of exhaustion. As we got older “nap time” slowly morphed into “be quiet for one hour while mom regains her sanity”. During this time the kids had two options: one, we could play outside for one hour. Or two, play upstairs quietly and don’t bother mom who was napping on the couch. Basically, you could either go outside and stay there or be upstairs and stay there but you couldn’t have it both ways.

The boys would retreat to do whatever boys do outside. While my sister Bekah and I opted to stay upstairs and play quietly. This arrangement worked well for a couple of days. But by that third day I grew bored. About 20 minutes into the quiet time I decided that I wanted to go and get the baby kitties from the barn and bring them into the house. However, there was an obstacle. Mom was napping downstairs right next to the front door. There was no entering or exiting the house through the only door. However, this would not stop me and my mission. My creative juices started flowering. There had to be a way, right? In all honesty, my sister probably tried to talk me out of my devious plans, but my plan required team work. I successfully convinced her that she wanted to play with the baby kittens too. And so my accomplice was born and I could execute my fool proof plan.

For whatever reason, my dad had taken the screen off of one of the upstairs windows on the 2nd floor of our 3 story home. I went into the linen closet and found an old mismatched sheet that my mom wouldn’t notice was missing. I slowly and quietly opened the window and hung the sheet out of it. Then I tied one end of the sheet to the couch leg; I asked my sister to hold on to the sheet for extra support and I lowered myself down. It worked! Bek threw one of our school backpacks down to me and I made my way down to the barn. I loaded the baby kittens into the back pack and climbed back up the sheet. This was our daily occurrence for several days. Mom and Dad would never find out. We were like secret operatives on a top secret mission and no one would ever know our secret.

That is, until the day Bek asked if she could be the one that was being lowered down. I opened the window and threw the sheet out just like every other day. However, my sister was small and my pride was as big as the state of Minnesota. I decided that I could just hold the sheet and not tie off the end to the couch.

Carefully, my sister made her way out the window. She began to climb lower and lower on the sheet. Then all of the sudden she looked up at me and her facial expression turned to panic…and then her hands let go. The shock of her letting go caused my hands released the sheet and both my sister and the sheet went falling to their doom.


All I could do was watch as my sister fell flat onto her back. To my relief her head was inches from the cement opening of the cistern and she landed on the grass. To my detriment, my dad was working in the yard that day and saw everything. Well, he didn’t see everything. He saw my sister climbing out of a window, and me dropping a sheet. Let’s just say my dad was none too pleased with me that day, and yes Mom did wake up from her nap. And yes, I was punished for dropping my sister out of a second story window, but really, she let go… It doesn’t matter no one will ever believe me.

Happy Birthday!!! It’s a miracle you survived this long….

The Christmas Blues…

prayerblogAll of December I have felt less than “myself”. As Elvis would say, “I had a Blue Christmas”. For the life of me I couldn’t figure out why. Did I miss my family? Do I want to go home? Am I not busy enough? Am I too busy? And then last week as I was sitting at work on Friday it hit me. I’m not supposed to be here. I should not still be working right now. I should not be HERE. I should be at home baking cookies in anticipation for my husband to arrive home from work to start some amazing Christmas traditions that I’ve dreamed about for a long time. My house should be warm and filled with lights and decorations. Not bare due to lack of time in my schedule to dedicate to decorating. I should hear small coo’s and cries in between my Christmas music that’s blaring on my Ipod. I shouldn’t be stuck at work. I should be home preparing for babies first Christmas… And ever since that thought entered my mind I knew why my Christmas was blue.

All December I have had a hard time getting out of bed. I had no PMS so there really wasn’t any other reason other than the weather. And I don’t like to blame a month long of bad attitude on the weather (but it may have been a factor). I find myself just wanting to shut the door to my bedroom and stay in there, because “I should not be here”. I didn’t send a Christmas card because I feel a card of me smiling would be a misrepresentation of how I feel this holiday season. I went home on Friday and was doing a pretty good job of keeping it all together until I started opening the Christmas cards that came in the mail. I love Christmas cards. I love seeing how creative my family and friends get. I love seeing my nieces and nephews dressed in their best posing for some sort of ridiculous riddle their parents create. But this year was different. My joy was gone. And only bitterness and frustration was left. UGH!!!! I needed a break and time to grieve once again. I screamed and took the longest hottest shower I could stand. I told my understanding husband that I needed some time and to leave me be as I wailed on the tub floor. Life isn’t fair and it sucks. And I’m angry, frustrated, sad, hurt etc. (the list goes on)

Just when I decided I was going to stay in the shower forever because I couldn’t move from paralyzing grief I heard a little “meow” and the shower curtain started moving. Louie needed food and he refuses to let Lynn feed him. And then the water went cold. So I stood up, dried off, and fed him and realized that life will go on. I went down to find my husband making beer with his giant burly arms open and ready for me. I am blessed and that is a fact. But I’m not exactly happy about it right now. And that’s OK. Right now, I can surround myself with the family and friends that God has placed in my life. I’m so thankful for the encouragement and love that I receive from them every day. This is my advice if you are also suffering from “The Christmas Blue’s”: feel what you’re feeling and scream and wail all you want. Surround yourself with those that love you. It’s OK to not be OK. God hears and He cares. And He’s right beside you every step of the way. So today I will celebrate that my future is out of my hands and I will find my smile again in the little things. A new year is about to start and I thank God for that!!!