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    Family Life

    Our Family Photos with Mint Photography

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    Okay – I’m so excited! These photos may or may not be the very reason I started this blog. As soon as I saw (and loved) them, I knew that I had to post them all. I could feel it, my overgramming was about to reach an unhealthy level and surely anyone following me on instagram would run for their lives away from my feed and never return. I love photos, they have memories attached to them, memories I want to write down and remember. So here I am, shamelessly posting as many family photos as I want on my new blog. Of course, I’ve blogged in the past, and after taking a long break, these photos reminded me of why I truly love blogging; to document and share and save our family memories. To be able to look back on these days for years to come and to write again, even if it’s just for me. I used to get so caught up in all the “Ways to be the best blogger ever!”/”How I made a bajillion dollars after three months of blogging” posts and while some thrive off of that challenge, it actually made me feel stuck and stressed and afraid to start something that I knew I loved, for fear of it not being…enough.

    I think these photos mean so much to me because to be honest, we’ve been going through a bit of a tough time as a family the last couple of months. Nothing too serious, but enough to really get us down. I’ve had a bunch of negative self talk lately, and a lot of stress, worry and just feeling blah about everything. I saw these photos and my first reaction was “Wow, Natalie made us look like a really happy and carefree family!” But as I scrolled, I realized that this is the true us. Not the lies I sometimes believe. We are not a family defined by stress and hard times, we are a family who laughs and genuinely smiles and plays and feels joy in the midst of our circumstance. And I guess I hadn’t seen it all laid out in a photo in a long time.

    I am so grateful to Mint Photography for taking these photos. Photos that caused me to feel more grateful than I have in a long time and that inspired me to get back into something I love regardless of whether I’ve got it all together or not.

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    Thanks for reading!

     

    Family Life

    Getting our Christmas Tree + Video

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    I’m going to be totally honest, I have a love/hate relationship with our annual trip to cut down our Christmas tree. On one hand, it’s kinda magical and fun. We go to this amazing place that has pony rides, cookie decorating, campfires and Christmas music playing from the tree tops. It always signals the beginning of the holidays for us, and having always grown up with an artificial tree, searching for the perfect one and cutting it down is something I have so much fun with. You know who doesn’t think its all that fun? My kids. I mean, they like it. Dex is always excited about the day (not that you can tell in that first photo below HA) and Elle is just along for the ride, but at some point in the day, my husband and I always look at each other and without saying a thing, wonder why in the heck we bother with these things when they are so young. Last year, the day was just a total disaster, and by the time we got our tree, both kids had had it. I literally had one under each arm and the kindest women walked up to me with the most knowing smile and said “It gets better, I promise.” This year was actually much more successful! Other than when Dex got lost among the trees about 5 minutes after we got there, there were no major meltdowns. I think it’s the combination of the cold, toasted marshmallows and a fire and mini train crossing you’re trying to keep them away from that always make for an interesting time. My husband and I are always half joking say “Next year we are just going to the grocery store and grabbing the first tree we see.”  But, I know we will keep coming back, even though it can be total chaos, it’s such a fun memory and gets me SO in the Christmas mood!

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    Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

    Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

    Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

    Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

    Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

    Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

    Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

    I also took a little video of our day! This is so new to me and I kinda feel nervous to share it. I’ve never made a video like this before but my husband and I got chatting one day about how it would be fun to have video of our times together as a family. If you have kids (or even if you don’t) you’ll know that trying to capture that perfect shot where they’re looking and smiling can totally kill the moment. This day, we thought it would be fun to snap some candids and a family shot, and then just let them do their thing and take short little clips throughout the day. My husband edited it for me and I almost cried when I watched it. I just pictured myself watching this same video when my kids are grown and gone. Being able to see their little marshmallow faces, the way my son watched as my husband cut down the tree and how Elle loves to move and dance. It’s so special to me. I’m going to be making a bunch more videos like this and posting them here as I go! It’s not perfect, and we are not videographers, but I love our squirmy family photo and this shaky family vid so much.

    Thanks so much for reading! And for checking out my new blog – Haaaaayyy!

     

    Blogging, Family Life

    Back To Blogging

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    Back at it again! Guys, this is my 4th blog. I remember reading waaaay back when, that your first blog is usually not the one you end up with, and that has obviously proven true for me. I started with a beauty blog, then moved to a pregnancy/baby blog when I was pregnant with my son, then I had a mom/lifestyle blog with my best friend, and now here I am!

    After my last blog ended, I felt kind of lost. My blog ended (amicably of course!), I had just had my second baby and was exhausted, I was (and still am) closing in on 30 and I just felt kind of lost. I lost who I was. I forgot what I was passionate about. I forgot why I did what I did. I remember turning to my husband in bed and asking him, “What are my hobbies? What am I into?” because I had no idea.  These things change as you get older, and I found myself so poured into motherhood, that I became a little unfamiliar with me.

    I’ve been back and forth on this whole blog thing for a while. First of all WHY do I want to blog in the first place? What kind of blog will I have? Can I keep up with it if I can barely manage a shower and laundry these days? I decided I was going to wait until I had my stuff together before I started anything, but anyone who’s ever said that knows that you NEVER ever get all your stuff together.

    Here’s what I know. It’s important to be wise, but in the end, sometimes you just need to go for it and figure the rest out on the way. Even when you feel nervous and vulnerable. Even when things aren’t totally lined up.Even when you can’t imagine taking on something else. 
    So, here we are, another blog. It’s about me. It’s about my family. Our home. Our beliefs. Our adventures. It’s about things I like, that I think you guys might like too! It’s about blogging and learning and challenging myself. It’s for me. And that feels really good. It won’t be perfectly consistent. I probably don’t have a narrow enough “niche”. I probably still misuse commas and have a million run on sentences but, for the first time in a long time, that’s totally okay with me!
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    Motherhood

    Elle’s Vbac Birth Story

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    Elle Sunday Havens // June 5th 2015 // 7 lbs 5 oz / 6:32pm

     

    I’m so excited to finally share Elle’s birth story on the blog. Elle’s birth was a really amazing and healing experience for me. For those of you who don’t know, my first birth experience was pretty challenging and ended up in a c-section so when I became pregnant with Elle, I was determined and hopeful that I would be able to have a Vbac. Attempting a vbac was a big decision for me to come to, and we spend the entire pregnancy preparing for it, but in the end it was the best experience and it went so much better than I ever thought it would.

    I should warn you, this post is pretty long. I am so happy to share it with you guys but I also want all the details down so that I can read back and remember too. I’ll paraphrase where I can.

    Here’s how it all went down:

    Thursday we went to the splash pad near our house with Natalie and the boys. I was a week away from my due date, super uncomfortable and ready for this baby to come. When we were done at the splash pad I decided that instead of driving home with Zach, I would walk home to try to get things moving. Later that night Natalie and I went to get mani/pedis and Starbucks to get in some girl time before baby’s arrival. I went to bed that night feeling nothing until….

    4am on Friday I woke up to cramps. Nothing super painful but just like a deep period cramp in my belly and back. I noticed they were rhythmic (probably every 20 minutes) but I would easily fall back asleep in between. I decided that I would see what was going on at 6am and go from there.

    I woke at 6am and things felt about the same but they were much closer together (10 minutes ish). I told my husband that I was feeling “something” but that he should totally still go to work.  After a couple more minutes in bed and some more cramps I hopped in the bath to try and see if the “contractions” would stop or space out at all. I got into that bath fully expecting them to stop, Zach would go to work and we would wait at least another week to have this baby. Once in the bath things picked up a bit and I started to entertain the idea that this might be it. I hung out there for a while but then felt lonely and anxious and Dex had woken up so I went to snuggle with them in bed. Pretty much as soon as I got out a I had a couple really strong contractions and noticed that they were super close together. My husband was saying “Call Erika” (our amazing doula) but you never want to be the preggo who cries wolf and regardless of my increasingly strong contractions, I was still in total denial. I got my phone out to start timing and paced around the room. I timed a couple and when I looked down at my phone they were all 45 seconds long and less than 2 minutes apart. That’s when I knew (and finally admitted) that this was it. We called Erika and let her know what was going on and to head over whenever she could. I called Elleana (my midwife) and filled her in too. We also called my mom and sister who began the 5 hour drive to come be with me for the birth. This was it!!

    I started packing and trying to get in some time with Dex when I realized that this would be my last time with him as my only child. Erika showed up around 9am (thank goodness) and contractions had gotten pretty strong. No closer together but they were starting to stop me from talking and puttering around. I needed counter pressure on my back for each contraction and a hot water bottle to help with the pain. At this point I started getting coupling contractions where the first one would totally kick my butt and then about 10 seconds later there was another mini contraction (so fun!) that was shorter and less painful. My midwife arrived and I immediately wanted her to check me. Already this labour was so much more painful than with Dexter so I assumed I had dilated quite a bit……… I was one centimetre! ONE CENTIMETRE PEOPLE! Last time I got to 3-4 centimetres without a whole lot of pain and here I was dying at one cm!!? I tried not to cry or get discouraged and got back into the bath. We all hung out in the bathroom while I laboured for another hour and things got REAL. I was literally crying “no no no” with each approaching contraction and making a host of other sounds that I never knew I could make. An hour later, we checked again and I was a four! Finally some progress.

    We then decided to head to the hospital. I wanted to stay home as long as I could but with being a vbac we did want to be in the hospital just in case of any complications. It was the longest 10 minutes of my entire life (seriously though, there are few things as torturous to me as labouring in a moving vehicle) but we arrived and got settled into our room really quickly. My awesome midwife was already filling up the tub for me and I got right in. The water didn’t help much with the pain and we ended up having to move to a different room so after getting out and moving rooms I was ready for an epidural. This was a tough choice for me. Everything I read about vbac said that you have a higher chance with a natural birth but my contractions had been less than 2 minutes apart for 5 hours at this point and I was desperate for a break. It was now noon, the epidural was in place and perfect because I could still feel a lot and move my legs and toes. We did another check and I was at a 6. This number is significant for me because with my son that’s the most I ever dilated. As thrilled as I was to be 6cm, I was terrified that I would stall there again.

    I rested for the next couple of hours. It was such an amazing experience to be in labour during the day, in a room with big windows and the sun shining in, with my closest family and support. We chatted on and off about baby names and made our gender predictions for this baby. It was honestly such an amazing time. I remember laughing so hard and some points and thinking how it was just the best day ever, and my baby wasn’t even here yet.

    We checked me again at 5pm and I was 9cm dilated. I instantly started crying. This was such a big deal for me because it told me that my body can do this. I didn’t stall at a 6cm like last time and I was one cm away from our meeting our baby. It was then that my doubts completely went away and I knew. I knew in my heart that this vbac was happening.

    We waited another hour (6:20pm) and when we checked again I was still a 9 but my water hadn’t broken yet. While my midwife was checking me, my water broke anyway and I was instantly a 10. We talked about letting me labour down for another hour to get the baby nice and low but then Elleana (midwife) suggested that I do a little practice push just to see where we were at. At this point,  I’m assuming I’m going to practice a couple times, not be very good at it, wait an hour, and then maybe push for two hours before this baby actually arrives. I wasn’t even taking the practice push too seriously, nor did I have a clue what I was doing so I just went for it and pushed as hard as I could. I could sort of tell that something exciting was happening based on everyone’s reactions but when the push was over they told me they could see the head and it was time to have a baby.  I could barely process what was happening. I wasn’t emotional (which I’m usually super emotional), I didn’t even know where anyone was standing, I just became fiercely determined to push this baby out. My vbac was within my grasp and it was the moment I had been preparing for and praying for for so long.

    I pushed the next contraction and her heart decelerated. They threw the oxygen mask on me and told me to take deep breaths (which totally scared me) and there were loud beeping noises coming from the monitor. I was losing my mind on the inside but knew I had to stay focused. After another push and another decel, they called in the NICU team just in case, which also scared the crap out of me and I knew that something about these pushes was stressing my baby out. I literally thought to myself, I’m getting this baby out next push. Sure enough, next contraction (so three total) her head was out. Her shoulder however, was stuck. Without a contraction, my midwife looked me in the eyes and basically said “push as hard as you can right now”. I did (I swear my head was going to pop off) and out came our precious second born. They placed her on my chest briefly which was a moment I had longed for for so long. I was so focused on getting her to cry/breathe that I didn’t even think to check what this baby was. I was so in the zone but I heard my mom say something like “she’s okay” (trying to reassure me because I was scared) and then Zach said “It’s a girl??”. I still hadn’t reacted to the gender thing yet because I just wanted her to cry. After a minute they took her across the room so the NICU nurses could check her out. I heard my baby cry and then I just started bawling and processing everything that just happened. I had a vbac! I did it! I have a DAUGHTER?!

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    My husband went with our baby and was at her side for her first moments. He brought her back to me in a pink hat and kept saying “She’s perfect, she’s so beautiful”. Something about seeing that pink hat made everything so real and I let all the emotion of the last 10 minutes out at once. My baby girl on my chest, in her pink little hat and everyone I love around me – it was easily the (tied for first) best and most intense moment of my life. It took me so long to process everything. I had stressed about the vbac for so long and now it was behind me, and I did it! I had wondered for 9 months who this baby was and here was my daughter, in my arms, healthy and peaceful.

    We took forever to name her because we had so many girl names that we loved but we finally settled on Elle Sunday Havens. Elle is a name we loved back when we had Dexter. We thought it sounded strong and stylish and classic and cool. Sunday (we get asked about that one a lot) is just a special name to us. We thought it was a beautiful name and just gives you good vibes. Sunday is the best day and it just felt pretty and peaceful and full of light. It suits her so perfectly.

    I feel very blessed to have had the birth experiences that I have had and although they could not have been more opposite (one 3 days of labour and a c-section, the other, 6 hours of labour, 10 minutes of pushing and a vbac) I love both experiences for different reasons. If there is one thing both experiences have taught me, it’s that birth is just the first step in a long and amazing journey. I used to put so much pressure on birth but I am learning  that birth is beautiful no matter what and down the line a few months/weeks/years when you hear your baby say I love you, your birth plan not going exactly to plan will be the last thing on your mind (that’s been my experience anyway). I know all of our journeys are VERY different (some very easy and some painful and difficult) but bringing a child into this world (adoption, birth, the desire at all to be a mother) is incredible and beautiful and I love that us mamas all have that in common and how brings us together.

    All Photos by Mint Photography 

    Thank you so much for reading!