IRL: Dinner and a Baby


Clean dishes. Hear baby cry. Look down. Baby has salt shaker from trash and now salt is all over the floor. Grab rag, clean, clean bottom of baby’s feet, baby grabs my hair and pulls on for his life. Scream. Finish cleaning salt, realize baby still has salt shaker and shaking it furiously. Groan. Give up. Start Bath. Get pitcher from bathroom. Walk in bedroom. Why does it smell like poop in here? Who pooped? We haven’t even been home today? I don’t understand. Grab pitcher. Go to water tower. Fill pitcher with filtered water for baby’s bath. Realize we are almost out of water and the rest will be used on bath water. Great.

Put small amount of water in kettle and wait. Baby sneaks up behind me. Step on baby. Baby falls. Baby cries. Mom feels bad. Pick up baby. Kiss baby. Soothe baby. Baby cries. Hug baby. Tell baby I’m sorry. Baby cries. Hold baby and finish bath water. Poor hot water into cold water for lukewarm bath water. Baby cries. Realize there are weird white flakes floating in bath water. Why?! Pour bathwater into another pitcher. Flakes still follow. Put baby down, baby cries. Get out strainer and strain bath water because it’s all the filtered water we have left in the house.

Baby stops crying. Yes. Baby grabs household cleaner and starts running. Grab baby. Take away cleaner. Baby cries. Ugh. Pick up baby.

Grab bottle of milk so it’s ready after bath. Realize all the milk in our country gives people the poops. Grab Formula. Scoop with left hand four scoops of powder into a small tiny hole of a bottle. Spill formula. Groan. Go to water tower to fill up with water. Remember I just used the last of the water for the bath. Groan.

Smile, because I also remembered that I saw two water bottles in the hallway. Frown, because said water bottle is empty, and the other water bottle was taken by husband to class. Smile again, because I still have some water in my thermos from today’s trip. Open with one hand and fill bottle.

Put bottle on changing table in bedroom. Realize I forgot to turn on the a/c during dinner. Go get remote. Where is remote? Wait, I saw baby with remote this morning. Then I saw daddy take remote from him. Where is remote? Look in drawers. Nope. Look in bedroom. Nope. Hmm, why is the office open? Look in office, on the bookshelf. Logical place…grab remote, turn on a/c, note time so in 2 hours I can turn off a/c.

Go to bathroom in bedroom. Ugh. It still smells like poop. Why? What the? Hold breath, put baby down. Baby grabs shaving cream…every.single.time. Clean baby. Forget towel. Grab towel. Get baby. Carry baby into bedroom.

Dry baby. Lotion baby. Brush baby’s teeth. Clothe baby. Brush baby’s hair. Wait. What is this? Why are there orange flecks in his hair? Where did it even come from? Pick out flecks. Kiss baby. Fill up diffuser. Turn on fan. Turn on sound machine. Place baby in crib with blanket and paci. Say good night. Walk out. No crying, yes!

Go to kitchen. Remember the salt incident. Moan. Grab broom. Sweep. Smell Chili. Yumm. Grab a spoon to taste. Realize the new chili powder has way more spice to it than the last one I bought. Spit out chili. Acknowledge chili is ruined and try not to cry. Grab a diet coke and google how to make chili less spicy.

UPDATE: Not but 30 minutes after writing this did I get a call from my husband. After learning of the chili dilemma he offered to go up the street to get us Kebabs. He called because our car died. Nothing, zilch. And he was parked on the street. Luckily, we have a spare car from our teammates parked in our driveway. But, Ezra is asleep and even if I woke him there would be no where for him to sit safely in the car. I would normally call our bosses and/or teammates, but they are all out of town. I would then call a friend to run over, but they don't have cars. So here we sit on the photo, figuring out how to get my husband home, and how to get our spare car back to the store so we can jump the car and bring it home...oh how life is never boring around here!

Life in Africa: Part 2


Since posting the blog A Typical Day in Africa with a Baby, our little guy has grown a lot! He is now 16 months old and all over the place! And now that he is no longer an infant our schedule has opened up to do more in the community. So I thought I'd do another post on what our day/week looks like here in Africa.

7:30 - wake up and get going (In an effort to be vulnerable, I'm not a morning person, so it takes me fooooorever to get out of bed, but I aspire to get better and spend some quiet time during these 30 minutes instead of hitting the snooze button) *insert thumbs down emoji*

8:00 - Sometimes Ezra wakes up around this time, but he usually just plays in his crib until we come and get him. Then we change him, give him some milk, and get him in the high chair for breakfast. Sunday through Thursday our house helper arrives and she often takes over on days I have appointments in the morning.

9:00-12:00 - Mondays I spend my time in the home office or visiting the women at our Project House. I'm usually meeting with the jewelry group for Dreamer & Co or meeting with others as I leave this day open for appointments. On Tuesdays we have team meetings, and Wednesday through Thursday I have language lessons. Friday and Saturdays are the weekend here and on Sunday we get ready for chapel at the base.

10:00 - Ezra takes a nap (depending on the day) and Monday-Thursday our house helper is actually watching Ezra and getting him down for a nap so we can attend language class or work in the office. When he wakes up he has another 4 oz. of milk.

12:00-2:00 - Ezra is usually awake by now and we get ready to have lunch. Lunch is the main meal here so we usually have a big spread, pasta and bread, rice and beans, and other dishes prepared for us by our house helper. 

2:00 - 4:00 - Ezra goes down for a nap, sometimes we do as well :) Most places close down for "siesta" time and so we take this time to rest as well.

4:00 - Ezra has a snack, and depending on the day I leave for my next activity. Monday I attend Girl's Run 2 practice, Tuesdays I have women's volleyball, and Wednesday I have women's basketball on the French base. Reed has langugage class Monday-Wednesday so our house helper stays with Ezra. Thursdays and Sundays I use the afternoon to catch up on office work in the living room, while Ezra runs around playing. 

6:30 - We start preparing dinner. I return back from volleyball or girls' running. On Wednesdays I am actually leaving to go to basketball, so our house helper feeds Ezra dinner and put him down for bed.

7:30 - We eat dinner together. Ezra eats with us and we try to get him to eat whatever we are eating as well. But if he refuses it then we chop up some fruit and bread or make a smoothie for him. 

8:00 - Bath, bottle, bed for little man! He gets one more 4 oz. bottle of milk and then goes down for the night. 

9:00 - We watch tv, catch up on emails, and try to be in bed by 10:00pm, however most days it's really more like 12:00 am. But we are working on that, because getting in the morning is so much harder!

Below are a few answers to some common questions we get about raising a baby in Africa:


1. What do you feed Ezra and does he still take bottles?

We have transitioned from bottles to sippy cups and we hope to eventually transition to milk only being drunk from the 360 cups. Right now Ezra is such a wiggle worm when we change his diaper, so we often use the sippy cup full of milk to keep him still. It's really the only way. As for food, we try to get him to eat whatever we are having, but there are a few foods that we eat consistently that we found do not bode well for his digestive system (i.e. beans). His favorite (outside of all fruit) is spaghetti and musil (a local dish made out of red lentils). We also make him grilled cheese sandwiches and left over rice pilafs for days when he won't touch our food. We can always count on cut up fruit, pureed fruit, and crackers to be a big hit. His other favorite is any kind of smoothie. In fact, if I make a smoothie for myself as soon as he hears the blender he starts whining for some. The good thing about our smoothies is that we use Juice + so we know he is getting a good dose of fruits and vegetables. 

2. What kind of milk do you use?

The milk here is actually a point of contention. A local company started producing milk, but it gives everyone bathroom issues (even the locals won't touch it). But the company refuses to fix the issue and they have stopped letting many companies import other brands. Sometimes we can find milk from France, but it comes in tiny bottles and is skim milk. We would go through four containers in one week! We finally decided to use the formula designed for babies 12-36 months. We can buy it in a large container and it last for a couple weeks, plus it has extra vitamins to help with growth. 

3. How do you keep Ezra cool in the hot climate?

From November to March the weather can range from upper 60s to upper 80s. While it's still warm inside the apartment we have found it's not too hot for sleeping. So Ezra will sleep in his crib in his own room during this months. We run the a/c for two hours before bedtime and then shut it off when he goes to sleep. We also keep his ceiling fan on high and have a tower fan blowing on his crib. So far, he hasn't woken up sweating, so we count is as success. During the hot months we will move him into our room with the a/c and he'll sleep in the pack-n-play. During the day we keep the fans running and if he's out in the stroller we have a portable fan that attaches to his tray and blows on him. It works wonders! During the hot months if it gets too hot inside then we run the a/c for a little bit and make sure he stays cool. 

4. How do you get clothes and other supplies for him as he transitions?

We plan ahead. We have yet to find a place that sells affordable baby clothes so we find it easier to bring several sizes with us. We have stocked up through size 2T and when we travel during the summer we will plan for the next year. We also have visitors that come from the US during the year and will ask them to bring us something if we find something breaks or we need something.  

5. How did you get Ezra to sleep through the night? 

When Ezra was four months old we read the book, 12 hours by 12 weeks. We started following the guidelines and with a lot of practice we got Ezra to sleep through the night. He would still wake up around 6 am, and sometimes have an occasional mid-night wake-up, but around 1 year he started sleeping 12 hours at night and waking up anywhere from 8am to 10am! He was also going to sleep at 9pm or later. That's the downside of sleeping in the same room, he can't fall asleep until we are quiet in bed and all the lights are off. 


Ezra James: 7 Months

Is it just me or do the months seems to go faster and faster? Maybe it's because we aren't waking up every 3 hours like we were in the beginning, which I am so thankful for! But seriously, this kid blows our minds every time he does something new. This month he has become a pro at sleeping on his belly, laughing A LOT, walks around the room with his walker and pulls on things, can rotate his body around and so close to crawling it's scary. He also had is first campout under the starts and swim in the ocean. Not to mention he met the Easter bunny (in Africa!) and got to have two egg hunts, this kid is living the dream...

Ezra James: 6 Months

This past month has gone by so fast! I feel like I blinked and Ezra was 6 months already! He has been full of laughs and giggles as he wasn't having to deal with unpleasant teething, but that's about to change. He also is getting better at sitting up, had his first ride in the grocery cart seat (he wasn't a fan), no longer sleeps in the bassinet of the pack-n-play, and is LOVING solid food. Seriously, I can't give that kid enough, unless it's peas, not a big fan of peas. If you're interested in what we feed our little one then check out this book. It's based on the French food system and it's a great way to introduce real whole food and a variety of flavors to your little one. So far, Ezra is loving all the recipes, except the peas, but it's growing on him. :)

Ezra James: 5 Months

Oh my goodness, is this little guy really 5 months! Well he has done so much this month, he now has two teeth, is almost sitting up on his own, sits in a high chair and eats solid food, and sits and plays in his walker. I really can't believe he did all that in one month, not sure if I should be scared or excited for this next month of growth. Anyways, here are a few photos from the past month with Ezra. He might just be my cutest valentine to date. 


Ezra James: 4 Months

4 months. Wow. Little guy has now spent half his life in America and half his life in Africa. Kind of crazy, when you think about it. In the past month, Ezra has learned to roll over from his tummy to back, he loves laughing at mommy and daddy, enjoys catnapping in his carseat, has started sleeping 10+ hours at night, and is officially 17.2 pounds! Unfortunately we missed how long he was because ya know it was in French with the metric system, but we did understand that "whoa" that followed after the nurse read the measurement. And the latest development is our little guy has started teething. We thought we would have another month or so before this started, poor guy has NOT been happy. There has been a lot of tears and a lot of time in the rocking chair. Anyways, here's to 4 months and we can't wait to see what next month has in store!

Having A Baby: What We've Learned In 3.5 Months

As we've ventured into this whole baby thing, we've finally started learning some things about being parents. There's the obvious things like how your heart might burst when you see your little one smile and laugh and then there's the practical things, like learning which pacifier works best and which diaper cream gets rid of his first rash. And while I don't claim that any of these things may work for anyone other than our baby, I encourage you to try them. Because that's how we found out what worked to begin with—we tried and then tried again.

First off, I have two books I highly recommend reading. I'm not one for lengthy, doctor-jargon books, so needless to say some of the more popular books bored me straight to sleep (literally). But there were two books that had me so intrigued I couldn't put them down, I even finished one of them in one day, and yes, that was while pumping and taking care of baby! The other I read while pregnant. With that said, I recommend reading this book while pregnant. It will give you some practical guidelines for a newborn (just a couple) and a whole lot of ideas for when they are older. I really recommend reading the other book after you've had your first baby, in the first few weeks. I think if I would have read it before having baby I would have been totally overwhelmed. I feel much more confident having spent time with my little one and understanding the importance of the issues discussed in the book. 


So, here we go: What I've Learned. And as you read these, I want you to remember that every baby is different, every mom is different, every culture is different, and every day is different. In other words, let's not judge, but learn. 

1. Learning to Read Your Baby Takes Time, But Trust Your Instinct  

I really had that feeling of meeting someone new. I feel like it took a few weeks before I could even start to understand what to do with Ezra. We kind of just did a simple routine of put him down in his little lounger (rock n play) to sleep, when he wakes up crying, change his diaper, then my husband feeds him his bottle while I pump more milk, and repeat every three hours for weeks on end. Sometimes we'd change it up by putting him in the mamaroo, but we usually only used this when he was awake (more on this later), which means, not much use the first month. Now during growth spurts and cluster feedings life looked a lot more chaotic. There was less sleeping and more crying (mostly from us) and wondering if this would ever pass. I had never even heard of cluster feeding or growth spurts until my husband read about them online. Do yourself a favor and look it up, then be prepared. We know use an app called Wonder Weeks (there's a book too, but I haven't read it) and it will tell you when your baby is in his fussy stage. This helps with your sanity when you know he's growth spurting and not just fussy for no reason.

While learning to read our baby we were also able to realize that he was having tummy troubles. He would spit up a lot, have lots of gas, and just seemed to be in pain. At his one month check up the doctor put him on acid reflux meds and it's been a big game-changer. He started crying less and when I cut back on my dairy at month two I even noticed less gas, which also reduced the fussy fits he would have. That said, don't leave the hospital without gripe water—it will save your life! When our little when get the hiccups, crazy amounts of gas, or just not stop crying no matter what we would give him just a little bit of gripe water and the whole world would calm within seconds. I highly recommend Momma's Bliss brand because it's void of sugars and much more natural then other brands out there. You can get it at your local store or on amazon.

I usually put his paci in immediately after I give it to him so he sucks and soothes himself. And speaking of paci's we were all about those green Philip's Avent Soothers (the same paci on the wubanubs), but after using Dr. Brown Bottles we discovered that the Dr. Brown Pacifers worked better since they were same shape as the bottle he was use to sucking from. I suggest finding what works for you, if your little one doesn't take the paci, try a different brand, remember try and then try again. Also, I love using the wubanub type pacis when we are in the car or when we are trying to soothe Ezra during sleeping hours. Why? Because when he drops the paci I can easily find it with my hand, with the little soothers, I could never figure out where it rolled to. Oftentimes I would find it behind his head or under his carseat support pillow. And of course, he's screaming bloody murder because, ya know, he wants his paci. Now we use this one non-stop. He has his scent all over Mr. Turtle (as we affectionately call him) and it's become his lovey, comfort tool for sleep time. I also like the Dr. Brown over the wubanub beause you can remove the pacifer and replace it with a new one. With the wubanub it's attached forever, until your little guy yanks it off as my nephew did.


2. Teach Your Baby To Sleep & Have A Schedule

Okay, so remember, if you don't like what I say, just repeat my mantra above. But this is where I recommend the books above. I really believe that we need to be taught to sleep well. We can all sleep, but how many times do you hear people complain about lack of sleep, sleeping bad during the night, etc. It's interesting to see how sleep is viewed and taught in different cultures, and I love the Brining up Bebe book for this reason. It takes a look at French culture and how simples things like sleep aren't looked at as horrible and hard things to accomplish. So we decided from the beginning to try and train our baby to sleep. However, we got lucky and our baby was born way over 9 pounds so he slept 3 hours from the beginning and then slowly worked his way up to 5 and then one day it was 10, all before 3 months and without any sleep training! But after he started regressing and waking up during the night again, I decided to take a friend's advice and read a book she recommend (see above). 

Immediately we began implementing the steps. What I like most about her book is that it gave me a practical step-by-step guide on what to do. First, being to feed him every 4 hours and make sure by the end of the day he had at least 24 oz. This helps eliminate snacking and makes sure he's full so he can sleep for 12 hours straight. Since Ezra was already eating around 24 oz, I knew it wouldn't be a problem to get his amount in, but he was having them sporadically. When he would cry we would feed, what we learned in just one day of following her steps, was that sometimes when he cried, he was tired, but needed help. Wow, remember how I said reading your baby will take time, yeah, still doing that at month 4. So we started by picking our 12 hour time frame (8am-8pm). Some people do 11-11, some 6-6, etc, you can make it work for your schedule, which is another important thing that is stressed in both books above. Baby needs to adapt to your world, you don't need to adapt yours to baby's. So at 7:45am we get Ezra up, change his diaper, and begin feeding him by 8am. We then feed him again at 12pm, 4pm, and 7:30pm. We try to make feedings last only 30 minutes, and to have an average of 6oz each time. He usually heats 8 oz in the morning and then less at the 12 pm feeding. At 10am we attempt to take an hour nap and at 2pm we attempt to take a 2 hour nap. Ezra is not a good napper, which I'm learning is because we weren't reading him well. But since trying our sleep traing for only 3 days, he has now started taking a 10 am nap and sleeping through the night. He does wake up or root around a bit once in the early morning, but instead of feeding him, we now use shooshing, paci, and rocking the rock n play to get him back asleep. Guys, I really can't recommend this book enough! It's been amazing! We are still trying to get naps down, but she doesn't even recommend nap training until 2 weeks of sleeping through night, and did I mention we are on day 3 of 3 of trying and succeeding! *happy claps*

Also, having a schedule really helps me have a set time to get my work done, and be able to plan site visits or grocery shopping. It wil lbe even easier when I'm done pumping and can just rely on formula. Because of that, my husband helps A LOT! And I mean a lot. I honestly wouldn't be able to stick to this schedule if I had to pump and get him fed and down for sleep all by myself. 

3. There are Few Things I Couldn't Live Without

So now, for the fun stuff. Here's a few things that Ezra has loved and so have we. Again, each baby is different, but I encourage you to try them out. 

1. This thermometer. Because let's be honest. There have been so many time I thought he might be sick, and sticking this up to his forehead is WAY easier than trying to stick one under his arm and hold it. 

2. Gripe Water, because it will be your best friend. Read more about it above in the blog post.

3. Zen Swaddle. Our guy was too big and strong for ordinary swaddling, it was pointless. I couldn't even do it for his newborn photos. But this guy not only keeps him in with the velcro straps it also has a weight in it that makes him feel as if he is sleeping on his chest. It really helped in those early months.

4. Bamboo is amazing, and even more amazing for Africa weather and washing clothes in harsh water with no dryer. It's the only fabric that doesn't seem to get all stiff and hard after washing. We love using this particular style now that he's older and sleeping 10-12 hours.

5. Because we don't leave the house without mosquito protection. This stuff is gentle enough for even a young baby.

6. The insert that came with our infant car seat was a joke. It did nothing, so we quickly realized we needed something else to support his neck. I love this one because it's reversible (ya know for spit up situations) and the other side is plush and soft! There is also a removable neck support pillow and we actually took that out and use it to support his neck when he is in the mammaroo.

7. Because in Africa you cover up. Also, I would totally use this for walks at dusk in the states, I mean we may have Dengue and Malaria in Africa, but the US has West Nile and Zika, both of which have been found in the neighborhoods we have lived in.

8. Favorite paci so far, see above for more on this.

9. Love these bottles. We quickly switched from the basic Madela bottles when we noticed he was getting too much air and having trouble with gas and spit up. It didn't eliminate those things, but it reduced them for sure! I have enough bottles now for one day of pumping and feeding (thanks to a friend who donated her stash) so I only have to wash them once. I will say, I really wish I had dishwasher for these, but that's where #12 comes in handy.

10. I wasn't sure if I'd use this or not until he got older, but after his two month shots and a couple rough nights after some intense travel to Africa, this stuff came in very handy. There have been a total of 3 nights when he was in a lot of pain. We gave him a little bit of this and it worked like magic and made him sleep for hours. :)

11. I didn't think I'd need a monitor at first, but wow, was I wrong. I also didn't want to invest in an expensive monitor or one that used wifi, because our wifi is not unlimited in Africa. When I ran across this guy for under $100 I was skeptical, but my mom graciously purchased it for us and it's been amazing. Sometimes it looses signal so I have to play around with where I put it, but it allows me to hear him cry after nap time while we are in team meeting or when we were still in the states it would let us know he's awake for night feedings, because even though in the beginning we'd wake up at the slightest sound, we eventually became immune and it took a lot more to get out of our sleep deprived state. In other words, volume up.

12. Because without a dishwasher you want to make sure these bottles are clean! So this guy helps get all the leftover residue out. 

13. I had the hardest time picking out a stroller. For one they can be super expensive! And then there are ones (like ours) that are priced for normal people, but what's the difference? I have yet to discover anything wrong with our "cheap" stroller and he even handles the pot hole dirt paths of Africa. Ezra loves his carseat (I think because it keeps him upright) so he spends most of his time in his carseat when we are out of the house. I also like keeping him in the stroller because it puts him at my height and I don't have to bend down to reach him in the carseat. Anyways, if you are having trouble deciding on a stroller and don't want a fancy $500 one, but you aren't really into umbrella strollers, I highly recommend this one!

14. If your kid has acid, this will be a life saver. It can adjust to different inclines, and is great for rocking your baby to sleep. It's been even more handy during our sleep training nights. I can't say enough about this, except that they should make them longer for babies like ours. I'm not sure how much longer he'll be able to sleep in it, because the poor guy is getting kind of cramped!

15. Y'all, this bag! I didn't use it all in the states, but starting from the airport on, it's been my only bag. Since there are no changing tables in the rest of the world, this guy provides the perfect solution. We went on a 3 hour drive in country last month and in the middle of no where I can plop down the bed of the truck, open this guy up and voila, changing pad. We also had a blow out diaper at a cafe one day (all over Reed, poor thing) and with no bathroom, we were able to open this bag up, change him, wash him, and get him clean without any hassle. It even has an insulated pocket for milk. Seriously, can't go without this guy.

16. This one serves two purposes. First, it's a must for moms. I have so many times started a cup of coffee only to have gotten distracted and not finished the cup before it went cold. With my Yeti it stays warm for hours. In fact, one day I didn't have my morning coffee till dinner, the Yeti even kept it warm for me. I also use it for ice water. Since we live in a place that is hot all year round and we only run a/c at night in our bedroom, drinks get warm quick. I love that I can put water in this guy and it never goes warm, plus it doesn't sweat so there's no clean up or dripping of water everywhere. 

Okay and purpose number two. It's great for warming up bottles. Since it retains heat, we put the hot water in it and drop in the bottle. To be honest, we actually have another mug we got a coffee shop in Colorado. It is tall and slender and has a lid to it. I like that one better because I can fit the whole bottle inside the mug and then twist the lid shut and wait for the bottle to warm. It also allows us to bring hot water with us when we leave the house in case we need to warm up a bottle on the go. 

17. Another bamboo clothing item. In the first two months when baby is still getting up every 3 hours or less this guy made diaper changes MUCH easier. We didn't have to mess with buttons during the middle of the night and could just pull it up and go. And if you want you can covert it to pants instead. win, win.

18. The mamaroo. Really, any swing would do. I just recommend using it for playtime and not sleeping, read the sleep training book above to find out why. We just have the mamaroo because that's what someone bought us. And we loved it so much we put it in it's original box and took it as one of our luggage allowances back to Africa. 

So there you have it, a list of all the things we have come to love these past 4 months. I'm hoping that we'll start using a baby carrier and play mat and toys soon, but for now they haven't really been much of help. There were a few times I would put Ezra in the Moby Wrap and it would calm him down, but here in Africa it's just so hot! I plan to try a ring sling soon, so we'll see how that goes. I would love to hear what products or tips have been a big help to you as you raise your little ones! Leave comments below and let me know!

Also as a sidenote, if you are overwhelmed by cost (as we were) make sure and ask friends who are done have kids if they want to sell anything or check out craigslist or resale shops. We got almost everything gifted to us and the few things we didn't get as gifts we found at resale shops. Just remember that there are LOTS of people getting rid of things and all you have to do is ask!

If you want to see more reviews of incredible products check out Jenn Reviews' Blog Post Here!

Ezra James: 1 Month

I can't believe it's been one month! In some ways it feels like it's been longer and in other ways it feels like it's only been a week. This month he has grown from his birth weight of 10 lbs 13 oz to 13 lb 3 oz! He's our big boy, that's for sure. He has recently learned to use the pouty lip when upset, and likes to lift and turn his head, a lot! He LOVES tummy time, mostly because it's the one position that soothes his acid reflux. He has spent lots of time with grandparents, sleeps about 3 hours at a time (sometimes 4!) and eats 4-5 ounces each feeding...did I mention he's big? 

So to celebrate his one month we took some photos at the pumpkin patch. What better way to celebrate than to dress up your little one for Fall and take some photos of him and pumpkins! #fave

Ezra James: Birth Story

Photo by Mary Fields Photography

For the most part my pregnancy with Ezra was a healthy, semi-smooth 9 months. The hardest part was spending the first 3 months attached to the bathroom as "morning sickness" became "all day sickness". Even as we moved to Africa in month 4 things carried on as normal. Battling heat and the occasional sickness was something I could handle compared to what many others have faced in their pregnancies. And around month 6 we headed back to states (per doctor's orders) to settle in for the third trimester and wait for baby Ezra to make his debut. 

At my last sonogram before the baby came, the doctor noticed that our baby was a bit on the larger size, she estimated that his birth weight would probably be around 9 pounds as he was already 2 pounds bigger than the average baby at his gestational date. On week 39 the doctor suggested we schedule for induction since it was not advised to go much beyond that date due to his size. She also wasn't sure if his head would fit, but said we won't know until we try! So while c-section did get planted in the back of mind, I never really had the courage to consider it an option. 

Photo by Mary Fields Photography

On Thursday, September 22nd (2 days after his due date) we headed to the hospital to begin inducing. After 2 hours of laying on my side and not moving, I finally finished the first part of the process. Side note, more than 20 minutes on my side at 40 weeks was killer on my hips; two hours and I thought they might explode, but having the season opener of Grey's Anatomy and How to Get Away with Murder on tv sure did help take my mind of the pain. Thank you Shonda Rhimes... 

Afterwards I had my last meal until little guy comes, and settled in for the night. About 2 hours later, the strangest sensation happened—my water broke! My mind started rushing, wondering if this meant he was coming now, should we call the parents, should I be scared, where's the doctor. But it turned out I was barely dilated at 3 cm, so they had to re-give me the medicine and have me sit still for 2 hours again...yay... I'll spare the details of what the rest of the night held, but let's just say I felt like I was sleeping in a pool for the rest of the night. It's comforting when the nurse tells you it will feel like this till you deliver...awesome. 

The next day, the nurses came in and checked on me, they started the next round of inducing and we began to wait. Family started to show up and check in on things. I had received my epidural at this point so I was pretty content in my bed. Not gonna lie, but not having to get up to pee at 40 weeks pregnant and exposed is kind of greatness, I think I like that part of the epidural more than the pain medication. Plus since active labor hadn't started I wasn't in much pain, but we made the decision to go ahead and put the epidural in now instead of waiting, and I'm glad we did. 

Later that afternoon I still hadn't dilated much so the nurse brought in a peanut ball. In my mind (and the mind of my family) we imagined something small that would fit comfortable between my legs, ha! It was ginormous! But lo and behold it started to work. An hour or so with that guy and I started to dilate to about 9 cm, we are almost there! And then something happened. I started shaking uncontrollably and throwing up. I had been shaking all day, but that was the side effect of the epidural, and it was manageable, but this was different. My jaw couldn't stop moving, my whole body would just move with no control. We wrapped blankets around my head and all over my body to try and control it. My husband put on worship music so I could focus on the lyrics and try to control the shaking. 

After hours of sweating I started to get cold and chilly. In a matter of minutes my fever spike to 102, and the decision was made to do an emergency c-section. At the time of my shaking and fever all of my family had decided to take a break and walk around the hospital. Imagine their shock when they came back after 30 minutes to find out I was being wheeled into surgery. 

Even though I had known a c-section was a possibility, I thought it would be because baby's head wouldn't fit, not because I had a fever, shakes, and the signs of an infection that the baby could get. I honestly had never been so scared in my life. The thought that I could sick and pass it on to my unborn child minutes before birth was frightening. Reed immediately sent out an email asking people to pray, then he suited up in his scrubs and met me in the OR. 

The next part was just plain scary. I have a hard time watching Grey's Anatomy and the whole reason I started watching the show was so I could build up my tolerance to blood and guts. I never wanted to think about a c-section because the thought of having people cut me open while I was awake was just too much for me, and now it was happening. But it turns out the hardest part, was holding my neck up. I have no idea why, but I just remember how much it hurt and how the pillow kept falling out under my head. Afterwards I had spasms in my neck from trying to keep still, who knew that would be the hardest part of the surgery. Also, can we just say how opposite Reed is of me. He kept standing up to look over the sheet and watch my insides being opened on the table. Brave man, that's all I got to say.

What I do remember is when the baby came out is how the doctors and nurses were shocked at his size. I remember my doctor saying he had linebacker shoulders as the rest of the nurses gasped and all took guesses at his weight. Turns out everyone under-guessed, as his real weight was a whopping 10 pounds and 13 ounces. I immediately felt justified for the lack of laziness I had during my last few weeks of pregnancy. No wonder I couldn't bend down, walk, or sleep right, I had an almost 11 pound baby inside me!

Ezra, taken right after he was delivered in the O

Since I had a fever the baby also came out with a fever. I was already on antibiotics by IV and now it was time for Ezra to receive his. He was immediately rushed to the NICU so I only saw him by a photo that Reed had taken once he was delivered. After they were done with sewing me up, I was then wheeled into recovery. I was monitored and given more IVs to try and reduce my fever. At the same time Ezra was also put on a c-pap machine and they started his round of antibiotics.

After spending 3 hours in post-op I was then wheeled in my bed down to NICU so I could see Ezra. I don't remember much, other than he was hooked up to the c-pap machine and it just broke my heart. I couldn't hold him but only touch his little hands. Afterwards I was then wheeled into my room while nurses began monitoring me every couple hours. Eventually my fever broke, and I was allowed to eat again. 

The next day after my epidural and catheter were removed I had to start the process of walking on my own. I will stop right here and say this was the most difficult thing I had ever done. I now have tremendous respect for all those who going through physical therapy and recovery from major surgery. It is no easy task. After having two people help me to the bathroom, then to a chair, and then to a wheelchair in a matter of hours, I eventually broke down and just cried. I couldn't even carry myself to the bathroom much less sit on my own with shooting pain, how in the world would I ever take care of a baby. In my mind this was going to last days, and how would I do this again in an hour when I had to pee again. Questions flooded my mind as tears flooded my face. Eventually I calmed down and was wheeled down to see my baby boy. 

Day two and Ezra was no longer on the c-pap machine, which meant all the fluid was out of his lungs, and he was a much happier baby. Being that big, the nurses said he was so strong he kept pulling it off anyways. Hard to blame him...I'd want to do the same thing.

The next few days involved a steady rotation of pain pills, sleeping, eating, pumping, crying, and checking on babe. Each day recovery got tremendously better, and even by that night I was able to get to the bathroom without crying (though still with help of 2 people). One of the things that helped me the most in my recovery were two things:

My mom with Ezra while he was connected to the c-pap machine.

1. A binder. If you have a c-section make sure you don't do anything until the hospital staff puts this on you. I cannot tell you how much this helped with my pain and that feeling as if your organs are falling out. Seriously, I regret not having this in those first few hours of trying to walk. 

2. Stories from those who have gone before. Most of my family had no delivered via c-section so they weren't exactly sure what to expect, other than they knew I was in pain and it was not fun. I had shared my struggle and asked for prayer for both Ezra and I on social media and in response got an overwhelming amount of stories from others who had had c-sections. I cannot tell you how much every single comment meant to me. For the first time I felt as if I would recover, this would not last forever, and I wasn't the only one going through this. People also shared their experiences of having their little one in NICU and how they managed to survive. I wish I could say thank you to each and every one of you who reached out, but if you happen to read this just know I am beyond grateful for your words and stories.

While I was recovering, so was Ezra. He was still fighting low blood sugar and the doctors were still running tests to see if he had caught my group B strep. Because Ezra was not going to be released by my discharge day, the hospital provided a courtesy room for us to stay in while he was in the NICU. Honestly, this was a major blessing. I was not ready to transition home. I had no idea how I was going to sleep or use the restroom, as I was not strong enough and needed A LOT of help. Let's not even think about how I'm gonna crawl in a car on day 3. So when I found out we would get to stay in the hospital and I would have access to that awesome bed with hand rails and the ability to lower and raise the frame, I was ecstatic. I knew this would help me recover faster and allow us to be close-ish to Ezra at all times.

Finally the day came where Ezra was no longer fighting low blood sugar, and a couple days after that he finished up his round of antibiotics and was officially declared free of any infections. This meant we could go home! My body was much stronger and for the first time I knew we could actually manage the huge transition out of the hospital. 

It was one of the longest weeks I'd ever experience, but at the same time I feel blessed. I never had to worry if Ezra was going to be okay or if he had made it through the night. He was a healthy baby boy and just need a little extra attention in those early days. He also only had to be there a week, unlike many who have had to wait weeks before they could bring their baby home. But being in the NICU I saw a lot of babies who parents didn't know if their child would make it, in fact, one didn't. My heart ached when I saw them bring in the body bag to the room down the hall. I cannot even imagine what those parents were going through. 

If Ezra's birth story taught me anything it was that I have the upmost respect for nurses. The nurses that took care of me and Ezra were excellent. I cannot imagine doing their job, and I seriously tip my hat off to anyone in the medical field. You guys are what get people through recovery and you do the hard stuff that most people could never do, so thank you. And thank you to everyone who prayed for Ezra and myself during our time in the hospital. I know it was through your prayers that we made it through so smoothly. 

My grandma meeting Ezra, her first great-grandbaby

I'd say Ezra was a fan of the skin on skin time with his momma. 

Reed finally getting to hold Ezra.

Skin on skin time. I highly recommend Milkmaid Nursing Ponchos, they allowed me to pump and hold Ezra with privacy.