Enjoying our girl

Tuesday, April 25

A week after she was born my mom and I snapped these photos of Avonlea around our house. She's now 3 weeks old and I can already tell she's grown! She's an amazing little eater, and her stomach is so round it's hilarious!

We are just in love with this sweet girl and enjoying her so much. Yes, we are a bit sleep deprived, and yes, I spend my days mostly nursing and rocking her, and yes, I'm mostly covered in spit up and breast milk…but I honestly can say that I really love it. More than I thought I would, which has surprised me. I'm not sure what I expected to feel like in the weeks following the baby, but it certainly has been really lovely. This little one has charmed my heart:)

I'm healing up well, and starting to take walks which has been a game changer. She loves to walk! It's been raining a lot, but starting Thursday it's supposed to be in the 80's and completely sunny for a while, so i'm pumped!!

The flower game here in northern california is strong, and I'm loving all the wildflowers in the hills, the gorgeous blooms at the farmers market, and the bouquet of daffodils on my kitchen table. The camellias in the pictures above were cut from a bush in our yard, just love them!

We've got some sweet visitors this week so i'm looking forward to that! Any fun plans this week for you??

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Avonlea's birth story

Wednesday, April 19

 While I was pregnant with Avonlea, I kept a prayer journal. I often asked the Lord for any words, verses or pictures he had for me with the birth. The words He gave me were trust and dependence. I wasn't sure what to make of the words, but let me tell you, in hindsight, I needed a lot of trust and dependence during this process, so I'm glad the Lord had prepared me:) So much of my pregnancy and birth forced me to abandon my plans, and trust His!

To "prepare" for birth (can you really ever prepare with your first? haha!), Kevin and I took a 5 week birth class at the hospital. It was helpful to gain some basic insight into the process. We also took an online Kingdom Childbirth Class called A Heavenly Welcome. It incorporated a Christian perspective into the birthing process, and was just so encouraging. It taught me to release fear and embrace birth as something so beautiful! A Heavenly Welcome also has free birth podcasts, where women share their birthing stories (which I found fascinating!). The one thing I gained from the podcasts is that your birth will not go as you plan, but as God plans.

So…from the start, I felt pretty good about holding things very loosely. I'm a very natural person, so of course I wanted to try to give birth with no drugs at all…but I told myself I wasn't opposed to it. And I'm so glad I had that attitude, because I can tell you right now that my entire experience didn't go at all how I would have planned! But…it was absolutely perfect because it's what God planned for me. I had to trust and depend on him each step of the way.

To begin, Avonlea was two weeks past her due date. Those two weeks were so hard emotionally. I was So ready to meet our girl and each day I would excitedly arise and think "this could be the day!" only to go to bed with absolutely nothing happening. My mom and I walked every single day (sometime multiple walks!), I bounced on a ball, did lunges, put essential oils on, and even tried castor oil (never again!)! She just wouldn't budge!

Finally my OB scheduled to induce me on Monday night, April 3rd. Again, "my plan" would not have included being induced, but I just had to trust God. Deep breathe! Kevin and I went in and around 9pm they gave me Cervadil to soften my cervix (as up until this point I had only dilated to a 1- my cervix being so far back they could barely get to it!). Around 4am, I started having some pretty intense contractions. Kevin stood next to me, holding my hand as I slept between contractions. Around 7am the nurses checked me and I was at a 3 and my cervix had finally moved down into the right position (which was something to celebrate! haha).

They hooked me up to an IV and started the pitocin. The contractions started becoming pretty massive and close together. My mom came and brought me a smoothie in the morning, and then went right to work massaging my back during the contractions as Kevin looked me in the face and walked me through each part of the contraction. My mom and Kevin were lifesavers during this time. The pain was excruciating! I tried all the methods I thought I would like…getting into the whirlpool tub, holding on to Kevin, etc…and I hated all of it. Everything felt so painful. The only position I liked was sitting on a folding chair with my mom and Kevin around me. I had read the book by Marie Mongon on Hypnobirthing, and her hypnobirthing cd (which I had downloaded on my phone) literally got me through the worst of the contractions. I can still hear those chimes now…haha! But really, I was able to sleep between the contractions and stay relaxed.

Around 10am they checked me again and I had progressed to a 6! We all cheered! The pitocin was really doing it's job. The next 4 hours were the most excruciating as I continued to labor through the contractions. At 2pm they checked me again, and I was still only at a 6. Being in so much pain, and feeling like nothing had happened in the last four hours prompted me to ask for an epidural. I had tried hard without it, but felt no shame in asking for one. I just trusted that this was going to be part of my birth, and let me tell you…it was heavenly. When the drug started working, I was on cloud 9. Even though I could still feel the contractions, they were more a dull pain. I was able to nap, my mom and Kevin were able to eat some lunch and rest, and we all just relaxed for about an hour or so.

Around 5pm the nurses checked me and I was at a 10! I was so happy I cried! Actually I sobbed. I couldn't believe I was finally there (except little did I know I still had so far to go, haha!). The nurses had me start pushing. At first, because of the epidural the pushing wasn't hard, and I thought "this is easy!" haha…that was not my tune later!. An hour in, the doctor came in and told me we needed to turn down the epidural so that I could feel myself pushing. I pushed a total of 3 hours, and Avonlea still wasn't coming out!

At this point, my doctor gave me three options…he said I could have a C-section, I could keep pushing naturally (but she wasn't going to come anytime soon), or he could use the vacuum to get her out. I literally told them I didn't like any of the options. In this moment, after laboring 16 hours and pushing for 3, I was exhausted and felt like I couldn't make a decision. Kevin mentioned we try the vacuum, and I went for it. Three sets of contractions later, Avonlea came out. (I won't mention the part where her head was stuck half inside me and half outside of me, and I had to wait 4 minutes until the next contraction! I can honestly say, that was the worst!!!)

But what a miracle! Honestly, when they put her on me, Kevin and I were so overwhelmed with emotion. We couldn't believe that our little peach was finally here and sitting on my chest. Everyone was cheering, my mom was taking pictures, and it was just such a holy moment. My dad and siblings and Kevin's parents were all in the waiting room, and over time they came in to see her. It was just such a beautiful celebration of our baby girl's arrival into the world.

I literally look back at my birth experience and rejoice at each part of it. It all felt holy and miraculous to me. I felt the Holy Spirit at each stage through my nurses, the doctor, and especially my mom and Kevin.  It was such a sweet bonding time for me with both of them as they worked SO hard to support me. I couldn't have done it without their constant encouragement. The room was so peaceful, and I felt like I was able to bring her into a calm and loving atmosphere. Like I said, nothing really went the way I had envisioned it going in some ways, but the way it went seemed perfect to me. I learned to just depend and trust God in a tangible way, and that was beautiful.

Thank you all for being so loving and supportive to us in this time. I've received so many lovely blog comments, cards in the mail and emails. Thank you ALL!! xoxo 

An honest 2 year review

Monday, April 17

Organic and All Natural Beauty Prodicts

I hope you had a wonderful Easter:) This one was special as it was Avonlea's first time celebrating the  resurrection of our sweet Savior! My parents hosted in their beautiful home, and every fire place in the house was roaring as it was pouring rain outside. It was actually rather magical with the fires and tons of candles all over the house. My huge wonderful family had driven in for the event, and Avonlea got more than her fair share of cuddles. I barely held her, haha! Today I thought I'd share a review of products that have truly changed my life:)

It's been exactly two years since I was introduced to 100% Pure. I was in the beginning of my quest to rid my life of the toxins that I so cluelessly was rubbing all over my body (lotions, make-up, etc). I started my search at the local natural food shop, and found that the make-up there was just not cutting it.  I did an online search, but was overwhelmed with options. Finally, I read a review from another blogger on 100% Pure products, and thought "i'll give them a try". So, I bought some basics…foundation, mascara and a lip stick. When my package arrived, I excitedly tore it open and tested them out. I was amazed at how beautifully they applied, and then lasted the entire day!

Now…two years later, I can honestly say these products have changed my skin in the best way possible. If you are someone on the beginning of your search for a toxin-free lifestyle, I would really recommend trying out a few staples. Of course they are going to cost more than the products in the beauty aisle at the grocery store, but that's because they are made with only the BEST pure ingredients...free of all toxic chemicals and anything that will harm your body. I literally felt the difference the minute I put the make-up on, and my body did too!

Here are the staples I use on a daily basis. I hope you'll consider trying them for yourself!

I wash every morning and every evening with the Purity Facial Cleanser + Mask. It's amazing, and I will never part with it!

After washing, I rub a dollop of the Coconut Whipped Body Butter all over my face. I actually started using this on my face by accident, as one day I ran out of my face lotion and tried this. My face loved it so much i've been using it for about 8 months and my skin is so hydrated and no break-outs!

For make-up, my routine includes:
Mattifying Primer: This is a total STAPLE you should try. Game changer in my opinion! Regular primers make me break-out for sure, but not this one. It is smooth, healthy, and makes my foundation slide on my skin!

Fruit Pigmented Healthy Foundation (in Peach Bisque) : Another staple I will always buy. Great coverage and so smooth!

Maracuja Mascara: Black Tea: Best mascara i've ever used!

If you're into lipsticks, this one is my favorite. If you're looking for something more subtle, I adore this lip glaze, and if you like a good lip gloss, this one is my favorite!

At night, I wash with the Purity Facial Cleanser + Mask, and then apply a serum that they actually discontinued. Once I run out of the serum, I'm planning on trying their new night cream product called the Retinol Restorative Overnight Balm.

They also source baby products too!! I got this lotion, this shampoo, and this sunscreen for Avonlea. I feel super comfortable using them on such a tiny babe as they are all non-toxic and gentle as can be!!

So that's that! These are the staples I use on a daily basis! My advice is to start small, purchasing just a few foundational products (foundation, mascara, etc) and try them out! If you like them, then over time add a few more to your routine. Everything lasts a good amount of time, and I swear you'll notice the difference!

Hope this helps get you where you want to be with your more natural, non-toxic lifestyle:) And as a fun added bonus, in the month of April 100% Pure will plant a tree for every item you purchase! So cool, right?

Hopefully this week i'll be sharing my birth story and more pics of sweet Avonlea! Have a lovely day:)

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Our little girl is here!!

Tuesday, April 11

I am seriously overjoyed to announce that our sweet daughter,
Avonlea Grace,
 who we have prayed for and carried for 9 months, 
has arrived into our arms. 
She made her debut a week ago, 
Tuesday April 4th at 8:30pm. 
She weighed 7 pounds 14 ounces and was 21 inches long. 
We are so so smitten. 

I have always loved the name Avonlea. 
I first heard it about 10 years ago when I met a little girl in a coffee shop name Avonlea, 
and thought it was beautiful. 
Being that Anne of Green Gables is one of my favorite books and movies, 
it was a top contender for girl names. 
For months Kevin and I tried to find a name we liked better, and we never did. 
I think we always knew it would be Avonlea:) 
The name means
"A return to childlike faith, simple beauty, noble purity, and compassion for the least"
all beautiful qualities I pray for our girl! 
I think it fits perfectly for her:) 

Grace, her middle name, is the anthem for our life. 
I am encouraged by this verse in John 1:16 that says, 
"For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace"
Jesus offers us gifts we don't deserve, an immense love beyond measure. 
As Avonlea is a gift, grace felt like the perfect middle name:) 

I am excited to write out my birth story on here, as it was beautiful and unique 
(and not what I expected at all!). 
Hopefully that will come this week or next, as I don't want to forget it! 
This past week of being parents has been a crash course in figuring out what to do with a newborn, haha! But she has been wonderful, and I'm still on a total high. 
Kevin and I spend hours just staring at her, laughing hysterically at her funny faces, and praying over her tiny frame. 

In our eyes, she is just perfect:) We praise God daily for his generous and kind gift to us, one that we so don't deserve…what a privilege it is to bring a baby into the world. 

Don't worry, more pictures and stories to come:) 
But for now, thank you for your prayers and your excitement for this sweet babe. 
We are just filled to the brim with gratitude!