hazel's birth story

37 weeks, 6 days pregnant.
We pulled up to the hospital around 7:30. My room had lavender oil diffusing; this hospital was so on-trend.

photo taken the next day; the night hazel was born

My nurse tried to get my iv going in my left arm. I didn't watch, but Travis was preeety sure that blood spurted to the ceiling. At least, it was all over the floor. The left arm failed, so we gave the right arm a go. Check.
I swallow an itty bitty pill to soften my cervix, repeat every four hours. I also take an ambien. OR DID I, because it didn't make me sleep. The first pill wasn't supposed to start contractions, but it did, so I spend the night with aching hips in an uncomfortable hospital bed, and I'm SO glad to finally be here. So, so glad.

In the morning, my doctor let me off the monitors so I could shower and eat.

10:00. I started a low dose of pitocin. By 11, the contractions were getting pretty strong, and coming every two minutes. I had warned all my nurses about Elsie's delivery- how I went from a 7 to peeking under my gown and seeing her head already out, in less than five minutes. The on call doctor didn't make it, and the nurse had to deliver Elsie, so I wanted to be prepared.
My doctor was planning on coming to break my water by noon, and we expected our baby would be here within twenty minutes after that. We called my mom, and our dear friend Halie (who took all my gorgeous birth photos), so that they could head over to the hospital.

11:30.  I was getting a little uncomfortable, so I got my epidural. I was looking forward to this so much. Seriously. At night, when my hips hurt so bad, I'd cry to Travis about how much I wanted that epidural, so that I just couldn't feel anything anymore. It was over quickly, and by the time my mom and Halie got here, I felt GOOD. I hadn't felt this good all pregnancy, and I was cracking jokes and loving life.

We waited for my doctor to come. And waited. And waited.

3:00. My hips were hurting again and I could feel some light contractions. I kept pushing the button to give me a boost of the epidural, but I couldn't feel the cold medicine run down my back any longer. Every time I paged a nurse (to ask where in the heck my doctor was), I asked them if the machine was still working. They all told me that they could hear the pump turning over, so it was doing its job!

We watched a lot of HGTV. I listened to an audio book and bullied Travis into bringing me peanut butter and crackers, and a ginger ale.

5:00. Still no doctor.
Every so often my contractions would flatline, and I'd have to ring for a nurse to up my pitocin level.  Every time a new nurse came in, she'd say, "oh YOU'RE the girl who went from a 0 to a 10 in three minutes!" The story of Elsie's birth got more and more exaggerated as the day went on, and it made me burst into tears. I wasn't progressing at all, and I was hungry, and tired, and everything hurt.
around 5:30, my doctor finally shows up, and breaks my water. I was still at a 3. He predicts a baby by 7:00.

7:00. No baby. My doctor comes back; I'm still at a 3. I remember asking him if he was kidding because that was not a funny joke. I'd been in the hospital bed 23 hours now.

I could move my legs. Nothing felt numb; I kept faithfully pressing that button for extra epidural juice every fifteen minutes. My nurse said she'd come back and check on me at 9.

9:00. No baby. I had made it to a 5. I was getting so discouraged. They gave me an internal monitor to track my contractions. They looked strong on the external monitor, but they obviously were not strong enough yet, since I wasn't dilating. Baby was high up still. They adjusted the pitocin rate accordingly.

9:30. The pain was awful. I cried with every contraction, and made Travis sit by me so I could squeeze his hand. Squeezing helped. I kept thinking I'd be okay if I could just press pause for a minute and catch my breath. I couldn't figure out how to breathe. I felt like I was fighting my body and I was just so unprepared for more pain. My mom rubbed my back. I remember getting so hot and sweaty. Someone gave me a cold cloth for my forehead. My blood pressure kept dropping, and I felt light headed. And why the hell could I feel all this anyway?? I think I swore a lot, but it might have just been in my head. I remember crying, looking at my mom and seeing tears in her eyes too.

10:00. My nurse noted the amount of pain I was in, and asked, since it looked like we'd still be here awhile, if I wanted the anesthesiologist to come in and adjust my meds. YES.
He arrives, and arranges to give me a strong shot of medicine directly into the iv in my back. He paused. He checks the epidural pump. He fiddles with it a moment. My eyes are squeezed tight, and my hand grips Travis' even tighter. The anesthesiologist turns to me and says, "I'm so sorry to tell you this, but your pump is dry. You haven't been receiving anything for the last 7 hours. Anything you had has worn off already, and that's why you're in so much pain."

10:15.  I don't think I've ever been so pissed off in my life. I think I probably just sobbed something like, "are you kidding me?", but oh man. I was so done. After such a hard and painful pregnancy, all I had wanted was a little relief, and this labor was going on forever AND I WAS HUNGRY AND TIRED, DANGIT. 
As it turns out, the anesthesiologist who originally placed my epidural does not regularly work the maternity ward. He inserted the wrong size medicine cartridge into my pump, and it ran out after three hours. I was pressing that button in vain. This new guy said he'd go get the right pack and he'd be right back.
10:20. I inform my nurse I need to push. Fiiiinally. I'm at a ten. Unfortunately, I'd have to finish this off unmedicated. 
My doctor comes in, knees up, I push. I learned that that ring of fire everyone talks about was a real thing. oh my gosh. Pushing a baby out without drugs AND a broken hip was literally the worst ever. 
Baby's face is out. It looks just like Luke. A boy, we think. Shoulders are stuck. Another minute and Travis is able to reach down and pull our baby out, and place it on my stomach. It's a girl.
It's a girl?!

I hold my new baby; she's sticky, but so sweet. I get one stitch, which luckily, I don't feel because I fell asleep. 26 hours later, and I'd done it. This was all the worst, but I'd do it all a thousand times over, for her. 

hazel jane
6 lbs 12 oz
10:26 p.m.

(and here's a hundred more pictures)



pregnancy deets

whew. I think this thing is a little dusty.

we had another baby. if you don't follow along on instagram, surprise!

a little about the pregnancy:

It was my worst pregnancy yet.
let me back up.

Last June, I sneezed and ruptured what turned out to be an ovarian cyst. I phoned my ob's office to discuss the pain I was feeling, and also mentioned the pain that I was still having after Elsie's delivery. I described how she cracked my pelvis, and was told that it was definitely not normal to be still feeling that kind of bone pain two and a half years after delivery. They mentioned that I might be unable to carry a third child. Cue the tears. After several discussions with my doctor, he determined that I could carry a baby, but my body would not be able to sustain the pregnancy past 38 weeks. It was difficult to decide to proceed with a third pregnancy, knowing the amount of pain I would have, but being told I might only get the two children I already had made me realize how much I really wanted one more baby.

I took two cycles to heal from the ruptured cyst, and then took a pregnancy test. It was negative- something I'd never had before. Later that night I was sobbing for an hour and a half over anne of green gables, of all things- all I could choke out was 'puffed sleeves!' - and I felt crazy. If I wasn't pregnant, then I was just nuts.
a week later I still hadn't gotten my period, so I took another test.
I remember closing my eyes and bracing myself for the pain that I knew would start in a few weeks.

At twenty four weeks, I crawled into my doctor's office for a checkup. And I mean crawled. I grabbed at the wall with one hand, hunched over, and slooowly and carefully placed my steps so I wouldn't fall. I cried through that whole appointment. I felt like I was drowning in pain. I went to sleep at night crying because everything hurt, and woke up crying because I knew I had to do it all over again. I left the appointment with a prescription for some pain medication, instructions to purchase a walker/wheelchair & to stay laying down and off my feet. My doctor assured me that we would get this baby out at 37 weeks.

 I went four places for the remainder of my pregnancy- one hour of church on Sundays, preschool drop off 3x a week, my ob's office, and my physical/massage therapist's office. I remember telling my mom that I was so damn sick of laying on the same damn couch all day long. She laughed, but understood that it was getting bad if I was swearing about it! Thankfully I had a few friends who would let me come hang out on their couches for awhile. I also had to swallow my pride and let friends come clean my house every week, and bring meals in. I get choked up every time I think of all of the people-angels- who helped carry my burden during these long months. I have never felt such pure love before. It is such an awful feeling, sitting and watching your ability to use your body slip away. I felt like I was trapped, living in someone else's body, unable to do any of the things I wanted or needed to do. And man. I'm so grateful for a husband who doesn't think twice about helping his wife to the bathroom, carrying her up the stairs, or rubbing her back at two a.m.

 I ordered my groceries online and had them delivered. Once I went to Target & Sam's Club to get out of the house, and rode on one of those riding carts my grandma uses. It wasn't worth the pain that sitting upright caused, but it was still nice to get out for a half hour.

we had lots of ultrasounds, which was a bright spot I always looked forward to. We didn't want to know the gender this time, and it was kind of surprising that with all the ultrasounds, no one slipped up and told us!

at 36 weeks, I received two rounds of steroid shots for the baby's lungs, 24 hours apart. Right in the rump. Those hurt like the devil. The fluid was thick and had to be administered verrry slowly. The second day, I wised up, and brought an ice pack to sit on after. I sat in my car until I stopped crying enough to drive. At 36 weeks, 5 days (a friday), I had an amniocentesis done to check the development of baby's lungs. We didn't want to deliver and then have baby in the nicu on oxygen.  One of the nurses who administered my steroid shot warned me that my uterus would burn after this procedure and I would need someone to drive me home. Thankfully my mom arrived early that morning and could come with me. It was so nice to be able to squeeze her hand and have her give me courage. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I was monitored for awhile after and had a non stress test to make sure everything still looked okay. The plan was to go into the hospital at noon on Sunday (36 weeks, 6 days) for induction, pending the test results of the amnio.

On Saturday evening, I spoke with my doctor. He told me the results of the test were "indeterminate", and while he could run a more accurate test on the fluid from the amnio, he'd rather play it safe and wait a full week for delivery. I hung up the phone and just sobbed. I couldn't look my mother or Travis in the face, because I didn't want to see the pity in their eyes. I was so tired of fighting my body every single day. I had forgotten what it felt like to not feel pain. I was looking forward to delivery in less than twenty four hours, and now I had to endure another week. Typing it out, a week doesn't seem like a big deal, but it was monumental to me. I can't describe how heavy the pain felt.

I declared it was "Treat yo'self Week 2016". I went to the movie theater and enjoyed the fancy relining seats. I ate cake for breakfast, and napped every afternoon. I laid on the couch and my mom made me meals and snacks. I did a lot of online shopping. I cried a lot, and ate a lot of ice cream.
I thought the pain was bad before, but Tuesday of that week it slammed me over and over. Baby had a growth spurt and my bones could barely hold themselves together. I saw what my doctor had meant last summer- I certainly would not be able to carry this baby much longer.

Finally Sunday- Mother's Day - rolled around. I went to one hour of church and watched my boy sing the mother's day songs. I talked to my brother in Korea when he called. I twiddled my thumbs and thought about how great it would feel to not be pregnant and in pain. We kissed our babies goodbye and drove to the hospital.
Go time.


chore chart

just a bonus chore chart. Luke is getting bigger and more capable of chores, so while I shop around and think of larger diy options (more chores!!) I whipped this up to use in the meantime.

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download here

cleaning schedule

I've been getting a lot of comments and questions lately on how I keep my home so clean / is it always this clean?

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 The answer is, honestly, yes. mostly. OBVIOUSLY we get messy and I'm totally not perfect but I'd say about 90% of the time anyway, it's clean :) I was raised by the son of German immigrants who married a very organized woman, so I am used to a clean home and I actually enjoy cleaning.
And for me, I feel calmer and more receptive spiritually as well a more perceptive mother when my home is clean and in order. It frees up so much mental space so that I can focus on my kids- plus I totally don't care if we get messy- paint or legos everywhere- because it's just that mess that needs cleaning after- not that plus the rest of the house. I'm not one of those "good moms have sticky floors", because sticky floors make me cranky mom. It isn't the having the clean floors that makes me a good mom, but having them clean allows me to relax and let go and enjoy my children. Does that even make sense? What I'm saying is that you're a good mom whether your floors are sticky or clean, but I respond better to my kids if all this stuff is taken care of. So for me, this works. Anyway, I decided to share on the blog because I just taught a class on this at my church last week and made up this printable for that.

The schedule helps keep me organized and in order. Each day I have some cleaning task to take care of. I avoid weekends for now, since I like that to be family time. I fully realize that when my kids are older and are in school all day, we will have to have some Saturday chore time, but that time is not yet. Thursday is my catch up day; if I or a child was sick or we ditched home in favor of the zoo or something, I have Thursday to fall back on so I don't get behind. If I am caught up, I choose something in my home to organize- linen closet, tupperware drawer, spice cabinet, kids' outgrown clothes etc. I don't spend more than 45 minutes on cleaning each days task (obviously the daily chores add into that throughout the day).

This is just what works for me- it may not work for everyone. But having a schedule- any schedule- is so helpful! I've been following this schedule just about a year now. It changed  little bit when Luke started school and I like that it can be fluid.There are literally a million different ways to clean, but this has been most effective for me

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I won't keep droning on and on about cleaning, snooze, but if you're interested in the printable,
you can download my copy here, or a blank version here


lukie boy

he'll be turning four in a few weeks and every so often, I'll turn the corner and see him doing something...big. And it hits me that he is a real boy now, and not a toddler, and certainly not a baby anymore. His legs are long and gangly (5T pants!) and he can (almost) make his own peanut butter sandwiches (hold the jelly, because that's fruit and fruit is EW). I love this boy.

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living room tour

welllllll, I've finally finished decorating our formal living room. This feels like a triumph, mainly because it's the first thing people see when they come through the door and for many moons it was empty and awkward. It has been so fun to decorate and find furniture and artwork for each room. And paint! After years of renting, it was so nice to put a fresh coat of paint on our walls. And now that this living room is done (and I love it), I am running out of rooms to decorate! I only have our master bedroom and the two upstairs bathrooms left. (not bad at the one year mark!)

herthreadedneedle living room tour

I added some personal artwork to this room. One of my favorites is this little black and white painting Elsie did. I wanted something unique and abstract, but I always over think the things I create. Plus, I feel pretty strongly about displaying my kids' art as "real" framed art in our home. So one morning while Luke was at school, I stripped Elsie down to her diaper, gave her a blank canvas and paint brush, and let her go at it. She was surprisingly deliberate about her brush strokes, and she did a better job than I would have! It's a treasure to have around for sure (and compliments the family portrait Luke painted in our living room...photos coming soon, but you  probably saw it on my instagram @rachfrakes).

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The F type picture is an inexpensive blueprint copy I printed out at Staples after designing it in Photoshop. The mirror I found at an antique store a few years back while shopping with my mom, and this island print is another one of my favorites.

herthreadedneedle living room tour

 The photo is one I took while we were in Mexico, celebrating Travis' graduation. I ordered the canvas from TinyPrints, and personalized it a little bit with a line from the song Swing Life Away.
  Travis proposed to me under palm trees on the shores of La Jolla, and we were married a few minutes away from that spot in the San Diego temple.The song seemed appropriate since our love story has deep roots in that city, and one day, maybe one day, we'll end up back where the palm trees grow.

herthreadedneedle living room tour

I painted the lyrics directly to the canvas, and then got to work on the frame. It was originally an oak color, and it wouldn't take stain, so I ended up spray painting it white. Then it was too white, so I stained over the white paint, and that was better. It still wasn't quite right, so I added some gold leafing I had laying around to compliment the gold mirror.

herthreadedneedle living room tour
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herthreadedneedle living room tour

 That green chair is probably my favorite thing in the room. My father in law acquired it several years ago as a bit of temporary furniture while they were in the middle of a move. He thought it was the ugliest thing, but offered it to us because we were poor and newly married and Travis hates it too, but so help me, I WILL NEVER GET RID OF IT. Because it is fantastic, and so comfortable. 

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couch is from macy's, side table is from target, rug is from rugsusa, curtains are ikea, children are mine

herthreadedneedle living room tour

the sun streams in the the late afternoon, and this couch is our new favorite place to cuddle up with a book before dad comes home.