Saturday, September 28, 2013

Five Things for Friday, Catch Up Edition


Life has been good. A bit sleep deprived and cranky, but really good. I feel like our transition to four children hasn't been as bad as I thought it would be. But then again I think that is because I have lowered my expectations. I remember when Rose was born my motto was, "Success is only having one person crying at a time, with bonus points if it isn't me." I realized the other day when Tabitha was screaming because she was hungry, Abe was screaming because he couldn't hold the baby, I was screaming because I was overwhelmed, and Rose was screaming because-- well, actually I don't know why she was screaming--- that my NEW motto is now, "Success is only having TWO people crying at a time, with bonus points if one of those people isn't me."

It helps not to set my expectations very high. Which means if you happen to come to my house in the next six months, please ignore the oatmeal on the couch, the muddy footprints on the stairs,  and the weeks worth of dishes in the sink. I'll get to them eventually.


Our goat grew a goatee!

Which I guess is why they call them "goat"ees. 

His voice also changed. His "naaaa" is much lower now than it use to be. He also seems to be a bit more aggressive-- butting heads and such-- with Solomon the boy sheep.

I guess this means he has reached puberty.

We should probably get him a girlfriend.


I never got to post about Rose's birthday, which was more than a month ago, and I really wanted to share about her day. I think the highlight of her birthday, for her and for me, was that we went to go get pedicures together. When we went to Utah for my brother-in-law's wedding I got a pedicure because I figured that, since the only shoes I could fit my swollen feet into were flip-flops, I should at least have cute toes. Rose was jealous and so I promised her I would take her for her birthday. We went during Jon's lunch hour and so it was just her and I. 

They didn't have a chair small enough for her so they had to prop her up with big pillows to get her feet to touch the water.  I don't think they are use to four-year-olds and so she got lots of attention from the ladies at the salon.

She loved it. 

 Jon snapped this picture of us as we were coming back. He said that Rose was just beaming.
Oh, my poor feet. It hurts just remembering!
I've decided that for each of our kid's birthdays I am going to focus less on giving them toys or gifts but focus on giving them experiences and time. Toys and books will get broken and thrown away, but time together is something that they will always remember.

For Rose's cake I made her a ballet slipper cake. Our library checks out cake pans. Isn't that the best idea? They have a huge assortment of different specialty cake pans you can choose from. When Rose picked out the ballet slipper cake pan I was a bit worried about how it would turn out. I've never had much luck with making cakes and frosting, but I think it turned out cute... if I do say so myself.

And of course if you have a ballet slipper cake you have to wear your ballet dress to eat it in.

Then she got spoiled with presents from grandparents and aunts and uncles. I think getting so many packages in the mail was half the fun of it!

All in all it was such a sweet day. It will be fun that next year Rose and Tabitha's birthdays will be five days apart! My brother and I have birthdays that are four days apart and it has always been fun. Though, I do remember him being jealous of my presents and me rubbing it in. Then four days later, when my presents were boring, I was jealous of his presents and he got to rub it in. I guess Rose and Tabitha will have that to look forward to :)


Abe caught his first chicken!

I have never seen a kid so proud of himself. This is pretty much a rite-of-passage at our house.

Granted, we didn't know that this chicken was sick and actually, it died the next day, but it gave him confidence. Now he is a chicken catching machine. Much to his delight and the dismay of our chickens.


It is amazing, now that I am no longer pregnant, how my creative juices are flowing again. For the last few months of pregnancy I was just so tired that all I wanted to do in the evenings was to lay in bed and watch movies or read a book. Which is what I did. It was like pulling teeth to try to write anything. I guess my body was channeling all its creative power to create another person... which is pretty awesome. But wow, now that she is here I feel this surge of creative juices flowing again. My brain feels like it is going to burst with ideas I want to write about. The only hard part is finding the time to do it. It seems like whenever I sit down to write someone needs me. But my head might explode soon if I don't get some of these ideas out of it. So hopefully I'll figure out how to carve out the time.

We have been slowly getting back into homeschool things. Mostly we read lots of books, watch Planet Earth, and play Reading Eggs. But I am slowly gaining the organization-- and the energy-- to do more. This week we had a field trip with our homeschool program to the most amazing orchard.


They had so many fun things to do, but the best part was that they had a corn pool. It was two feet of corn and it was amazing! When I was younger my sister and I fantasized about winning the lottery and then getting it all in pennies. We wanted to have a penny bath and be covered in pennies up to our shoulders. Well, this came pretty close to that.

Abe tried to swim in it.

Do they do these anywhere else? Or is this just a cooky we-love-corn-Iowan-thing?

Have a wonderful weekend and a beautiful sabbath! 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Teaching Children Charity

After a long break (sorry) here is the next lesson in my Mom's MTC. If you would like to know the details of how we implement these lessons in our home please read the first part of this post.

  • Kindness
  • Friendliness
  • Gentleness
  • Service

Song: "I'm Trying to be Like Jesus" #78 in The Children's Song Book

Memory Scripture: John 13:35 "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have a love one to another." 

Books to Read Aloud: (choose one or two)

The Family Under the Bridge by Natalie Savage Carlson
Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman
The Little Mermaid by Hans Christen Anderson

Week One: Noticing Others

Scripture Stories

The Good Samaritan

Read Luke 10:25-37

Jesus told this story to teach his disciples about love. It is important that we show love to everyone, even if we don't know them. The Levite and the Priest didn't show love because they walked past the man and didn't help him. Only the Samaritan, who stopped to help, showed real love. Help children understand that sometimes helping or loving others means that we have to put aside what we want and focus on what other people need. It also means that we need to learn to notice other people and pay attention to what they need. You may also want to role play this story in a modern day example, like kids on a play ground or a stranded car on the side of the road.

Questions to Talk About:

Have you ever seen anyone hurt?
How did it make you feel?

What did you do?

Why did the Levite or priest not stop to help the injured person?

Who did stop and why do you think they decided to help?

What would Jesus have done?

Can you think of a time when you didn't help someone who needed your help?

Who do you know who needs help?


Put Yourself in the Picture

Find a collection of books that has a people displaying a variety of emotions and situations. Have the children look at the pictures and have them explain how the people might be feeling, what they might be experiencing, etc. For example, if you show a picture of a family eating dinner you could talk about if they look happy or sad and why, what the food they are eating might taste like, if you think the room would be cold or hot, etc... The idea is to get them thinking about what it feels like to be another person. You could also do this activity by having the kids flip through magazines and cut out pictures. Old copies of the Ensign, New Era or Friend magazines would be perfect for this.

The Noticing Game

Place several objects out on a table or a tray. Instruct the children to look closely at the objects and try to remember what is there. Have them close their eyes and then take away one (or more) of the objects. Have them guess what is missing. The more similar the objects are (ie. All crayons but different colors) the harder it is and the more diverse they are (ie. a seashell, a feather and a crayon) the easier it is. Feel free to adapt the number of things and the type to the skill level of your children. For older children you could also have them look at a room, place, or person for several minutes and then later have them describe what they remember back to you or draw a picture of it.

Eye Contact Game

Have you ever noticed how if you make eye contact with a stranger you both smile? This is because you are seeing each other and acknowledging one another. It is a way of showing love. Discuss with the children how it makes them feel when someone looks them in the eyes when they are talking. How does it make them feel when they are talking to someone and they don't look them in the eyes? Challenge the children to find ways to make eye contact with people and smile at them. You might even take them to the grocery store (or some other public place) and have a contest about who can get the most people to smile back at them by making eye contact with them (no talking aloud).

Books to Read:

The Three Questions by Jon J. Muth
The Lion and the Mouse by Aesop
The Elves and the Shoemaker
Ordinary Mary's Extraordinary Deed by Emily Pearson
The Quiltmakers Gift by Jeff Brumbeau

Week 2- Kindness

Scripture Stories

Lazarus and the Rich Man

Read Luke 16:19-31

Lazarus was a poor man who didn't have anything. He asked to be able to eat the crumbs off of Lazaraus' table but Lazarus wouldn't let him. Later after both the rich man and Lazarus had died the rich man was suffering in Hell and he saw that Lazarus was in "Abraham's bosom" meaning that he was with Christ in Heaven. When the rich man saw this he was angry and wanted to be where Lazraus was, but he wasn't allowed to because he had not shared what he had with Lazraus when he was alive.

Questions to Talk About:

Why do you think the rich man wouldn't let Lazarus eat the crumbs?

Whey do you think the rich man was sad after he died?

Do you think Lazarus was sad after he died?

Are you rich or poor?

What do you think God wants you to do when you see someone who is in need?

Jesus and the Rich Young Man

Read Matthew 19:16-30

The rich young man asked Jesus what he needed to do to live with him again. Jesus told him he needed to live all the commandments. The rich young man was sad because his heart was set on his riches. Jesus was trying to teach us that he wants us to love him more than anything else. You could also pair this story with the story of the Widow's Mite in (Mark 12:42-44) and discuss who the stories are the same and how they are different.

Questions to Talk About:

Why do you think Jesus asked him to give all his money?

What did the rich young man do? Why was he sad?

Is it harder to share if you have a lot or a little?

Why can money make it hard for someone to go to heaven?

What are your treasures?

What do you think Jesus would have done with His treasures if He had been rich?


“What do we have extra?” [From Kids of Integrity]

Link this activity with the story found in Luke 12:13-21. After reading the story, ask your children what the rich man could have done with his extra crop and extra possessions. Explain that it would have pleased God if he had chosen to share it with others who needed it. Spend some time thanking God for all He has blessed your family with. Finish by asking, “What do we have extra that we could share?” Discover what you have extra, package it up and search out a place in your community to donate it.

Put it in Perspective:

Children sometimes have a hard time understanding how blessed they are, especially in comparison to other people in the world. For this activity go to your library and find books that have pictures of children from all over the world. Talk about what is the same and what is different between them and you. You could also watch the movie "Babies" which follows four babies--from Mongolia, Japan, Niger, and the US-- through their first year of life. Take time to talk about how each child was the same and how they were different.

You could also make "If the World Were A Village" lapbooks (print it off here) and talked about where and how people live around the world. The idea of the activity is to give children an idea of what the world would look like if you reduced the population of the world to 100 people. You could take 100 beans (the 100 people in our world village) and put them on which continents they would live on to visually show how many had clean water and air, how many spoke which languages, practiced which religions, had how much money, etc...

Real Service

Help your children identify a need in your family, neighborhood, or community. Have them pray and ponder about who might need their help and what they could do. It is okay to give them some ideas if they need it! For example, my children wanted to make homeless kits for the homeless people that we often passed when we went to pick up their dad from work. We bought things like soap, toothbrushes, combs, razors, socks, band-aids, simple foods, and child drawn picture and message of love and put them in gallon sized bags. We put them under the front seat of the car and whenever we were at a stop light with a homeless person they were able to roll down the window and hand one out. They also gave some to their Dad to take on his commute. We had several wonderful experiences where the people we gave them to were really grateful.

Books to Read:

The Lady in the Box by Ann McGovern
Boxes for Katje by Candace Fleming Stacey Dressen-McQueen
Doctor De Soto by William Steig (this is a good book to talk about how to be kind but still set boundaries)
Sam and the Lucky Money by Karen Chinn
Beatrice's Goat by Page McBrier

Week 3 -- Gentleness

Scripture Stories

David and Abigail

Read 1 Samuel 25:2-42

Abagail was a smart and beautiful woman who was married to a mean and rude man named Nabal. David and his men had helped Nabal by protecting his sheep and his shepherds when they were in the field but when David and his men needed food because they were starving, Nabal refused to help them. This made David and his men angry and they were determined to march to Nabal's house and kill everyone as a punishment. Abigail heard what David was planning and so she quickly put together lots of food and went with her servants to meet David and asked him to forgive Nabal. Abigail reminded David that the Lord asks us to forgive everyone and that even if others treat us poorly we need to be kind. David saw the wisdom in what Abigail said and listened to her. He and his men took the food and went back home.

Questions to Talk About:

Have you ever been nice to someone and they were mean to you?

How did that make you feel?

When someone is mean to us, what should you do?

What was David going to do to Nabal?

What did Abigail do?

Do you always make the right choices?

What happened to Nabal in the end?

Jesus Loves Children

Read Mark 10:13-16

People were bringing their little children to see Jesus but the disciples told them to go away because Jesus was too tired. Jesus heard and he told them to let the children come to him. Even though Jesus was tired he made time for everyone, this let the children know that he loved them and they were important to him. Just like Jesus we can make people feel loved and important when we take time to be with them.

Questions to Talk About:

What does it mean to ignore someone?

Have you ever felt ignored?

How did it make you feel?

Have you ever told your brother or sister to go away?

How did it make them feel?

How can we show people that we think they are important?


Ugly- fish Game

Put the children on a table, chair or couch and have them imagine they are on a boat and that you are an “ugly fish” swimming around in the water. Snap at them as growl “I am an ugly fish. I am mean and I don’t like anyone” Encourage them to say things like “You are not ugly, you are beautiful.” Then instantly transform – happy smile, calm, and say “ I am, oh, sorry I snapped at you.” Let the children say you are ugly and transform back to the ugly fish. Tell them that how you treat people determines how they feel and how they treat you.

Thumper's Motto

It never hurts to go over this famous Motto. "If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all." Watch the clip (or the full movie) and talk to your kids about what it means.

You can also role play different situations in which your child might be tempted to say something unkind, but chooses to be silent. Or situations where someone says something mean to them, and they choose to say nothing back to them.

Generosity party time [From Kids of Integrity]

Practice being generous with each other. For instance, have an ice-cream sundae night. Each family member makes a sundae for someone else in the family. Put out ice cream and a variety of toppings, and allow your children to be generous in making sundaes for other family members. You can also do this with “monster cookies,” which are oatmeal cookies filled with numerous additions like nuts, chocolate chips, sprinkles, etc. Family members can make monster cookies for designated family members, decorating each other's cookies generously.

Books to Read

Enemy Pie by Derek Munson
Hey Little Ant by Philip and Hanna Hoose
Now one foot, Now the Other by Tomie DePaola
Shibumi and the Kitemaker by Mercer Mayer

Week 4- Friendship

Scripture Stories

David and Jonathan

Read 1 Samuel 20

Jonathan should have been king because he was the King’s son, but the Lord had chosen David to be the new king. Instead of being jealous or angry Jonathan was happy for and loved David. He protected him when he was in danger and stood up for him. Jonathan and David were such good friends because they loved one another.

Questions to Talk About: 

How can you tell that Jonathan and David were good friends?

What makes a good friend?

Are you happy for your friends when they get blessings that you don't get?

How can you be a good friend?

Ruth and Naomi

Read Ruth 1-3 (you may want to summarize part of Ruth's story instead of read it spending on your children's attention spans)

Ruth chose to stay with Naomi instead of going back to her family even though she knew that Naomi would be poor and that life would be hard for her. Even when Naomi told her to leave she stayed. Ruth loved Naomi and wanted to be with her. Ruth also listened to Naomi's advice and went to work hard in the fields to get food for them. Ruth showed real friendship to Naomi because she didn't leave her when she needed help.

Questions to Talk About:

Why do you think Ruth chose to go with Naomi rather than go home?

Can you be friends with people who aren't the same age as you?

How did Ruth show her love for Naomi?

How did Naomi show her love for Ruth?

Have you ever stood by a friend when they needed your help?

How did it make you feel?

What happens to Ruth?


Making Friends

Have your children pray and ask God to help them know who needs their friendship. Try hard to let the children figure out who it is on their own (and trust them, even if they choose someone you weren't thinking of). After they have chosen someone to befriend have them pray again and ask for ways in which they can show their love to this person. Help your child follow through with the ideas and inspiration that he receives.

Secret Service

Have each person in the family draw a name of someone else in the family and then challenge them to give that person "secret service" all week long. Encourage them to pray for opportunities and ways in which they can show their love to that person. Talk about how service can be physical, emotional, or spiritual. You may need to help younger children service in secret. At the end of the week meet up and have everyone talk about ways they saw that they were served and guess who they thought it was that served them. Talk with them afterwards about how doing the service made them feel. Also remind them that even though the person they are service doesn't know who did it, God always sees the kind things we do. He knows our hearts.

Working Together

Start by reading the scriptures in Romans 12:3-10 and talk about how the body works together. Talk about how no single part of the body is more important than the other but that they all work together. Have them experiment what it would be like to not have a part of their body work. You might have them:
  • Get something from upstairs while only hopping on one leg
  • Buttoning a shirt with only one hand
  • Try feeding someone else a messy food (yogurt, applesauce, ice cream) with a blindfold on. The first time allow them to speak and the second time have them do it in silence.
  • Play charades (no speaking!)
  • Stand outside (or somewhere else soundproof) and try to communicate with someone on the other side.
  • Close their eyes and try to draw something. Could also have them use their non-dominate hand to draw something.
  • Do three legged or potato sack races.
After doing the activities talk to the children about which part of the body they think is the most important now. Emphasize the idea that every person that God has created is valuable and that we are more powerful when we all work together. Help the children think of ways in which they can work together with their family or with their friends.

Books to Read:

Horace and Morris but Mostly Dolores
by James Howe
Four Feet, Two Sandals by Karen Lynn Williams
Frog and Toad are Friends by Arnold Lobel
Owen &Mzee, the True Story of a Remarkable Friendship by Hatkoff and Kahumbu
14 Cows for America by Carmen Agra Deedy

Final Program

Put on a program for parents, grandparents, neighbors, friends, or stuffed animals and review what they have learned. Include the song and scripture they have learned as well as some of the stories they have learned over the month. Instead of doing a lesson the day (or two) before the program we spend it getting ready for the program. It doesn't have to be anything big, just a chance for them to teach what they have learned... because when you teach something you learn it the best.

If you have any other good ideas for scripture stories, activities or books that go with charity please leave a comment. I plan on using this same lesson plan again with my children next year and it would be great to have some new ideas!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Tabitha's Birth Story

"I am a girl."

Those were the words that flooded into my heart the moment I saw those two pink lines appear. The force with which they came impressed me and made me wonder.

Later that day I was at a church conference. Abe and Rose were fussy so Jon and I took them out in the hall. I was walking with Abe when out of the corner of my eye I saw a little girl  in a white dress come running towards me. I realized at the last moment that she was going to run straight into me and so I literally jumped out of the way. I had assumed it was Rose (she was wearing a white dress) and so I was stunned when I turned around and didn't see anyone there.

No little girl in a white dress.

No Rose.

No one.

Then again I felt that little whisper, "I am a girl."

Over the next nine months Jon and I would both have several more glimpses of this little girl. A dream of a fifteen-year-old with long blonde hair running through a field, "Dad, remember the lilies of the field how they toil not..."

Our Lily.

Then there was a prayer for help, offered one night in fear and anguish. I felt the presence of a much older woman-- a very noble and great female spirit-- whisper to my heart, "Heather, you are not doing this alone. I am ready for this. We will do this together."  I felt her gratitude and her love. I  knew that she was coming to earth for an important purpose and that everything would be okay.

My Tabitha. 

These glimpses helped ease the burden of a challenging pregnancy. My body and heart had been through a lot. My pelvic joint had relaxed so much it was starting to separate and my hips ached under the strain of holding them together. There were some days that just getting in and out of bed was a monumental feat. On top of that my feet and ankles had swollen to an enormous size. I was puffed up like a marshmallow and every day when I crammed my feet into my flip flops, the only shoes that would still fit me, I wanted to cry.

I'd also had to move my family 1,000 of miles away from the midwife I loved and trusted and from friends and family who supported  me. I felt alone, scared, and unsure of what to do. There was a part of me that was terrified to give birth again. I had had three wonderful, picture perfect births. I worried that I was pushing my luck to think that I could have four perfect births. Surely, something was bound to go wrong, right? These fears overwhelmed me and made it hard for me to fully settle on any birth plans. Yet, underneath the fear was an abiding assurance that everything was going to be okay. No matter how, where or when she was born. I knew there was a little girl who was suppose to come to our family.


When I woke up on Labor Day I was hoping for a very "labor-ious" day, but no such luck. My contractions weren't any different than they had been for the last few weeks. So I helped the kids pick green beans and set up a green bean and lemonade stand in our front yard. They made $12 in less than two hours! I was feeling lonely that it was Labor Day and we didn't have any family to share it with so Jon told me I could invite some friends over for a campfire in our backyard. We had three families over that night and had a beautiful time. When they were leaving at 8 PM one of my friends said, "So, Heather looks like you didn't get your labor for Labor Day." And I, totally joking, replied, "Well, who knows I still have a few hours left." We all laughed because it was obvious that I was not in labor.

Jon and I got the kids in bed and at 8:30 PM I laid down on my bed, totally and completely exhausted. My hips and my pelvic bone hurt so bad. The bean picking had just been too much for them. I was really hurting.

So of course, that is when labor decided to start.

After I'd been laying down for about a half hour I realized that my contractions were a lot lower and a lot more crampy feeling. They were also coming closer together. Somehow I manged to get my hurting body off the bed and waddled into the bathroom. I sat there for about a half hour, debating within myself if these were "real" contractions or not. Finally Jon came and checked on me and I told him I thought I might be in labor, but I wasn't sure. His eyes went big.

"I am going to go blow up the birth pool," was his first comment.

"No, what if this isn't the real thing."

"Then you can deflate it in the morning," and off he went.

I guess he's been through enough births with me to know that I am really bad at admitting when I am in labor. This time he recognized all the signs of approaching birth and wasn't going to waste any precious time.

So I sat in the bathroom. The last few months had been so physically challenging, what with my pelvic pain and swollen legs and feet, that instead of being afraid of labor I was so ready for it. As the contractions started to increase in intensity I just kept reminding myself that every one was bringing me a little bit closer to having this baby out of me.

Once the birth pool was blown up Jon came upstairs and I told him I thought we should call the midwife. I was still worried that I might not be in real labor, but I figured I'd rather have everyone come than have them miss it. We called the midwife but couldn't get her on her cell phone. We left a message and then called our doula, Mandi. It wasn't until I talked with her on the phone that I was ready to admit I was in labor. It was so hard to talk on the phone!  I couldn't form any coherent thoughts. I realized my mind was involved else where and that I should stop pretending I wasn't in labor.

Right after I got off the phone with Mandi, the midwife called back. When she asked how far along Jon thought I was he said, "Well, I don't know but this is how she acts before she has a baby. So I think you should come." That was all she needed to know. She said she'd be there as soon as she could. The kids were still asleep in their rooms. We'd arranged for someone to watch them while I was in labor, but it seemed silly to wake them up now. So we just let them sleep.

My contractions were getting strong and they were very low. With every one I felt lots of intensity in my legs, so much that my legs were shaking and it was hard for me to stay standing. During a contraction I'd hold my belly, bend my knees up and down, and move my hips around in a figure eight motion.

My birth dance.

My shoulders were really tight and Jon kept reminding me to relax them. He'd come come over and put his hands on my shoulders and give me some light pressure. Eventually this evolved into me holding on to his hands and doing my birth dance. I think this was the sweetest part of Tabitha's birth. Just Jon and I, with a household of sleeping kids, dancing away in the hall. Dancing that exquisitely hard dance... to a rhythm that only I could hear.

Oh man, I love that boy.

Mandi showed up and it was really nice to have her there. Even though I am a doula I've never actually had one at my own births. I am usually a very private birther, but this time I really wanted to be surrounded by people. I think it was because I had been feeling so alone this pregnancy that I needed to know that I had people-- especially other women-- who were there for me. I also wore the beautiful tree of life shawl that my Gift of Giving Life co-authors sent me. Wearing it felt like getting a big hug from them all.

My legs were really hurting and so I decided to sit on the birth ball. Jon moved it right over by the air conditioner so that I could cool down because I was getting hot. My contractions were much stronger by now and I started to have to vocalize and moan through them. Jon sat/stood behind me and put lots of pressure on my shoulders during each contraction. I was so tired.  I kept falling asleep in between contractions, but luckily the birth ball always rocked enough to wake me up before I fell off.  I really was just exhausted.

As things got stronger a phrase that I'd seen posted on the wall at my chiropractor's office came back to me, "Your contractions can't be stronger than you are, because they are part of you." That really resonated with me. It was tempting to start thinking negative thoughts like, "I can't do this anymore," or "What if this lasts forever?" (I think I may have even said that one out loud) and so I kept reminding myself that my body was powerful. That instead of being afraid of the contractions I should be in awe of the incredible thing that my body was doing. My contractions were strong because I was strong.

After one really hard contraction Mandi gently asked me. "Heather, where do you want to be when the midwife comes? Do you want to be here or go get in the pool?" She told me later that she could see that I was nearing the end and thought it might be good to get me down into the pool. I really wanted to get in the water, but I just couldn't bear the thought of having to move. The ball was working for me and so I just stayed there.

Oh, and I guess with all the excitement Asher woke up and asked Mandi who she was. "I am here to help your Mom have her baby."  "Oh," said Asher and closed his door and went back to sleep. I guess he wasn't too excited about the whole idea.

At around 11:50 PM the midwife arrived. She came in and checked the baby's heart beat. The baby was doing great. I knew this because I'd been feeling her move around inside of me the whole time I was in labor. My other kids seemed to quiet down during labor and just be born. Not Tabitha, she moved and moved the whole time. She was, by far, my most wiggly baby.

Right after that I had a contraction and my water broke. When the midwife saw the water she immediately started to get everything set up for the birth. But I was not quite ready for the baby to be born. I still had my pants on and I didn't see how I was going to be able to move my body off of the birth ball. It hurt so bad to move. But I really didn't want to have the baby right by the air conditioner vent, and I really wanted to make it to the water.

So Mandi and Jon helped me to stand up and to start moving downstairs. I made it to the top of the stairs before I had another contraction. This one was really low and I could feel the baby's head moving down. "I'm not going to make it to the water am I?" I asked Mandi. But we kept moving and I made it to the bottom of the stairs before I had another contraction. This one felt super low.  I knew that if I wanted to have this baby in the water I'd better get to the pool soon. So after the next contraction I  sprinted-- well, as much as a woman in labor can sprint-- to the birth pool and got in the water.

It felt heavenly.

I didn't really feel the urge to push, but I was feeling a lot of intense pressure.  I reached up and could feel her head not too far up. The midwife encouraged me to try pushing and so on the next contraction I gave a huge push and felt her head come down into my hands. I'd told the midwife that I really wanted to deliver-- as in "catch"-- my own baby. I had done that with Rose and Abe and I loved the fact that my hands were the first things to touch them as they came into the world. But as soon as her head came out I lost all rational thought.

Really, I did.

I sprang forward onto my hands and knees and, in Jon's words, "howled" like a crazy woman, "Just get it out of me!"  I guess that I had pushed so hard that I had pushed her head and her shoulders out. Since she was such a big baby her shoulders didn't fit through nice and easy, and so for a whole contraction I was stuck with a shoulder wedged baby. It was the most intense sensation I have ever experienced in my whole life. I couldn't think about anything--anything at all-- except that I all wanted in the whole wide world was to have this baby out of me.

Jon said that this might have been one of his favorite moments of me, ever. I am usually a very quiet and calm birther, and so my howling totally took him my surprise. "I think you were howling out just more than a baby there," he said, "that was nine months worth of bottled up emotions coming out." I think he was right. I got a lot more out in that howl than just a baby.

On the next contraction the midwife reached over and helped adjust her shoulders and out she came, yelling just as loud as her mama.

And I was delivered.

" I did it. It's over, " was all I could say.

All of it-- the worry, the fear, the uncertainty, the confusion, the loneliness, the aching--everything I had waded through the last nine months.


I have never felt so much relief. It washed over me in waves and I felt like a millions pounds had been lifted of my shoulders and my heart.

"Heather... Heather, go ahead and take her," the midwife urged as she handed me a screaming little body.

I grasped her in my hands and quickly checked between her legs.

I turned to Jon and smiled, "It is a girl."

Our eyes locked and in that moment my joy was complete. I knew that everything I had felt this pregnancy-- all the promptings, all the dreams, all the glimpses-- were real. I knew that I had not been left alone, but that God and this beautiful spirit had been with me the whole time.

When it was time for the placenta to be delivered Jon cut the umbilical cord. When the cord was cut I felt it. Not any physical sensation, but I felt that connection, the literal rope,  that held us together separate. For nine months we had grown, struggled and learned together and in one moment that was gone. With one snip she was no longer a part of me.

I held her head close and whispered, "Now you are your own person." 

That noble and great spirit I had felt in my prayer, was here, in my arms.

Apparently, some time during all this Asher had woken up and was standing on the stairs. It took a little coaxing but eventually he came down and met his little sister. He was really excited and so curious about everything. It is funny to me that he has-- unintentionally-- been at both of his sister's births. I hope that those experiences will someday prepare him to be a good husband and father when it is his turn to bring children to earth.

Jon took her while the midwife helped me deliver the placenta. And as that last remnant slipped out of my body the midwife smiled and said, "There, now you are a free woman."


"There could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were may pains. Yea, and again I say unto you... that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as my joy." (Alma 36:21)

Giving birth is exquisitely hard. There are really no words to describe what it feels like, just as there are no adequate words to describe the type of joy it brings.  It is more than happiness, more than relief, more than freedom-- it is deliverance.

Divine, exquisite, soul changing,  deliverance. 

A reminder that no pain or sorrow will last forever. 

Tabitha has already brought so much joy into our home. It is hard to remember life without her. Looking at her makes me grateful for every ache, every tear, every prayer, and every contraction I went through the last nine months, because they brought her into the world.

It was so worth it. 

And sometimes when I hold her I feel overwhelmed at the thought that the noble and great female spirit I felt in my prayer is now...this tiny baby.

She has forgotten who she is.

But I remember.

And it is my job to remind her, which is a job I very much look forward to.

(Our doula also made this beautiful video of the birth, don't worry nothing graphic)  

Pictures by Mandi Hardy Hillman @ Gentle Beginnings

Wednesday, September 11, 2013



There is nothing better than having a new baby.

Something sacred happened in our house when she was born, and it has made time slow down.

There doesn't seem to be anything more important to do than-- love-- her.

She is beginning to grow into her name.  It always feels so strange to give something so--earthy-- as a name to someone-- so fresh-- from heaven. I'm afraid that this week she has been called by her womb name "Baby Sam" more than anything else. We are slowly transitioning over to "Tabitha", just as she is slowly coming down into it.

Rose has been calling her " Baby Sabitha" which, we decided, is a happy medium. 


Someday soon I will have to face reality again, but for right now I am enjoying our babymoon and living-- somewhere-- between heaven and earth.