How God has used my baby for His Glory in the first four months of his life

I may have underestimated God’s power a bit before he used this 15 pound little human to rock my world.

The meaning of Oliver’s name is so special to me, Oliver means peace and Zane means precious gift from God. Ever since we found out he was a boy, I have prayed that he would have a heart after Jesus’, a gentle and peaceful spirit, and with that spirit, that he would be a warrior, fighting for justice and the Gospel truths. I pray that masculinity won’t overcome him but he would be genuinely STRONG and that he’d radiate the love of Jesus through peace and gentleness to those he was around. I selfishly prayed that his arrival into this world might even bring peace to and mend relationships that really need some mending.

It is an absolute joy to see Oliver have a peaceful and gentle spirit already but that took shape in a completely different way than what I prayed would happen. Through Oliver, God has revealed my own uneasy and anxious spirit, I truly did not realize how insanely restless I am but God has graciously called out all my mess and I’m working through it. Rather than using Oliver for what I wanted to use him for (to bring unity and restore relationships – big tasks for a baby, I know), he used him to call out my restless spirit and draw me into finding peace that only my Heavenly Father can bring — peace that can’t come through any earthy relationship.

I am so unbelievably humbled by the soul experience that I’ve had since Oliver came into this crazy world and though I will naturally feel I know what’s best for Oliver, ultimately, God’s plan for him is so much greater. So, I’ll daily lay that desire to control down and give my sweet baby boy to him. Because God is gracious and his plan is good. Thank you Jesus for allowing me and my dream guy to steward this little ones life. The experience so far has forever changed me. I am (daily) praying against having an agenda for Ollie’s (or any of our future kids) lives – that’s just not my role – but instead a willing heart that will continue to welcome and aid in the Lord’s purpose for each of their lives.

Oliver Zane: 1 Month

Sitting on the other side of month one, I’m convinced it was designed for one thing: survival.

A few things that I didn’t expect:

  1. How incredibly unconfident I was the first week of his little life and how easy it could have been to fall into postpartum depression. I GET IT NOW – I completely understand why and how people fall into that, it is incredibly easy to feel inadequate and for those feelings to absolutely consume you. There are so many natural things happening to your body that just feel completely unnatural (i.e. breastfeeding and healing from pushing an 8lb baby out of tight quarters…)
  2. My marriage was the first thing to suffer. You always hear about it but it is something serious when you’re going through it. Sleep deprivation takes everything from you and then you have a little human that is completely dependent on you and he takes the rest of what you have. I am not my best self on a few hours of sleep and Justin was the one getting the brunt of that. We have had to learn how to communicate and connect in much different ways than we used to and I am continuously reminding myself – my marriage is and will always be #1. Figuring out what that looks like and how to keep it in the number 1 spot – well, you’ll find us here, continuing to figure that out.
  3. How important it is to get out of the house. Even just for 2 hours at a time. It filled me up and allowed Justin and I to have some sweet time together just walking around the lake in Downtown Orlando and Oliver loved being outside, too! Win-win-win.
  4. This is the craziest one for me — when Oliver was born, I definitely knew he was my baby. I was overwhelmed with love but what I didn’t realize is that I would literally have to get to know him. I didn’t know the baby I was holding – it by no means was an instantaneous connection. And maybe it’s different for other moms, but for me I really had to work toward figuring him out – what his different cries meant, how he liked to be held. I remember being asked like the second week if he was ticklish – I had NO idea – I hadn’t made it that far yet! I learn something new about him every single day and it wasn’t until I embraced the fact that I didn’t know everything about him and that that was OK that I really enjoyed everything about being a mom.

Justin and I just keep telling ourselves, ‘we will never get this moment back’ – the moment at 2am when he is fed, changed, burped and is STILL screaming his head off. That moment. It’ll never be again, he’ll never be that small, that dependent. Those hard times are still really hard. Being up at 2am with a crying baby is HARD. Functioning on a few hours of sleep? HARD! But, to have a little that is so dependent on you. To know that one day, they’ll no longer need you to bounce them for 2 hours straight until they fall asleep — ooo, I’m soaking it up for now. I have had to have lots and lots and lots of grace for myself and for Justin as we just begin to start figuring out and doing this whole being parents thing.

It’s been crazy fun to watch him grow, giggle in his sleep, and start to smile while awake now! He is eating great and toward the end of the month started to sleep better. This big boy was 11 lbs at his one month appointment – 90th percentile!

I am so very grateful to God for my sweet little Oliver and this crazy first month of just figuring him out.


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Oliver Zane’s Birth Story

We made it to 40 weeks! …then past 40 weeks and on to 41 weeks. Up until about 38 weeks it seems that time FLEW by but once 40 weeks hit then the days beyond that, Justin and I both had a really hard time. We had pretty much put everything on hold as Oliver could have made his grand entrance any day so we were home and going stir crazy. Our midwife sent us to get a biophysical profile (BPP) – which is a post dates ultrasound that checked on our guy to see how he was doing (fluid, tone, movement, etc.) to make sure that he was safe to continue cookin’. We had the first BPP done at 4o weeks and 6 days, it came back perfectly normal so I was instructed to rest, do a little walking and continue waiting. The second BPP was done on 41w and 2d, the fluid levels had dropped and the midwife sent me to Winnie Palmer Hospital for an evaluation. At this point, I was 2cm and 70% effaced and had been for about a week.

On Tuesday, we packed everything in the car on the off chance that we would have to stay there but fully anticipated coming home. Thankfully we were prepared to stay because 5 minutes into my evaluation I was told by the doctor that I should be induced (I was 41w and 3d). We went through the pros and cons and since I hadn’t showed any progression or signs of spontaneous labor, they said that I needed an extra push – my midwife agreed. I gave myself about 5 minutes to break down in an ugly cry because this was not how it was supposed to go. Our dream of a quiet and hospital-less delivery was not going to happen and I had a very short amount of time to come to terms and keep on. Justin and I went over the birth plan with the triage physician and to our surprise, they were very accommodating.

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They moved me to an antepartum room and started me with a cervical ripener, misoprostol, at 10pm and at 2:30am I woke up to my water breaking. After my water broke, my contractions got INTENSE and became more consistent but not enough to put me into “active labor” (felt pretty active to me…). Because my water had broken, that showed some sign of progression, they put in an order for me to be transferred to a labor and delivery suite. The contractions continued to be way intense and I labored for another 16 hours before I was transferred to L&D. Showers and the exercise ball were what offered me relief (and squeezing the life out of my tired and gracious husband’s hand). At that point, I was dilated to 5cm and still 70% effaced – my contractions were still not consistent. I shoved my face full of food even though I had absolutely no appetite because I knew I would need the energy and I wouldn’t be able to eat in L&D.

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Once I got to labor and delivery, we got settled, went back over my birth plan with the new team and I felt so empowered by the nurses – they continued to affirm me that I could do this naturally. Shift change came and I had another fantastic nurse, then another… They gave me a peanut ball (never want to see one of those things again), an exercise ball, and told me to get walking. I did, though I was growing more and more exhausted and increasingly more weak, I hadn’t slept since Monday night (36 hours at this point). At the 24 hour mark (24 hours after my water broke), I was still only 7cm and now at risk for an infection since it had been so long since my water broke. Justin and I decided that I was going to get Pitocin to get the ball rolling, I also got an epidural at this point since my body was going to begin creating contractions artificially and I didn’t know that my exhausted body would be able to handle it. The last thing that I wanted to do was to end in a c-section because I was too tired to push. I know my body and it’s limits so I broke down and got the epidural and I’m so glad I did. I slept for about an hour and a half, and steadily progressed from then on. 6 hours later and I was a 10 and ready to push.

The last person who came in to check me was a midwife who came in place of the doctor because they were all tied up. How it works at this hospital is that you get 3 doctors in your room when you deliver – 1st and 3rd year resident and the attending physician. This brought me so much anxiety to think about a full room of strangers in the tiny birthing suite we were in, that just sounded like chaos to me. I asked the midwife if she could be the one to deliver, she said yes. So, it ended up being Justin, my amazing nurse, and the midwife — silver lining. 29 hours of labor and 1 hour of pushing later, the wait was over and Ollie was in our arms. 8 pounds, 2 ounces and 21 inches of pure perfection born on Thursday, 11/3/2016 at 10:40am.

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The plan was delayed cord cutting and skin to skin for one hour. However, I spiked a fever (they were concerned about infection) and so did Oliver – he was also grunting not crying when he was born so after about 2 minutes, Justin cut the cord and after about 5 minutes with me, they took him to try to get him to yell out a cry and he didn’t. They took him to transition, Justin went with him. From there, they started antibiotics on Oliver and his blood sugar was low so I was able to hand express colostrum for him to have and that got his sugar back up. He had to pass a series of tests in 2 hours in order to be released from the transition nursery and come back with us. After I was all taken care of I was able to go see him and thankfully, he did pass those tests and I finally the three of us got to be together in PEACE and I got to hold on to my baby.

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We stayed for 48 hours to complete mine and Ollie’s antibiotics and then got to come home. I couldn’t have even thought up the way that our birth story went down – it wasn’t what I wanted but I truly wouldn’t change a thing. In the hours leading up to his birth and the first few days after, I’m reminded that ultimately, I have no control over how things go. Justin and I get to steward his little life to the best of our ability and there will be outside circumstances that we just won’t be able to control. So, before he even made his way into this crazy world, I’m learning from our little and I am sure it won’t be the last lesson God teaches me through his life. Justin and I grew closer in those 3 days than we could have in any other situation – he was my rock and I couldn’t have gotten through it without him. We have the most beautiful, healthy baby and I couldn’t ask for more.

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Also, my very greatest treasure in life has been my sweet husband – second best? Seeing him as a dad.

Thoughts 4 Days Post Due Date

I feel very anxious to meet Oliver. However, this is all together very different than the kind of anxious that I felt four days ago – a feeling that once felt pure and full of joy and excitement – is now tainted with overwhelming anxiety and straight up fear. Fear that I might not be ready for this after all: I have so much left I want to see/do with Justin, I’m not ready to give my time up with just him. Fear that something might be wrong with Oliver. Fear that I am going to disappoint myself and Justin and be embarrassingly weak in childbirth. Fear that I’ll look back in regret. Anxiety to get on with life and pick back up again because right now everything is really just put on hold as we wait for our little – things are a little too slow for my liking. Anxiety over childbirth. Anxiety for our families meeting him for the first time and how those relationships individually will play out. Anxiety over how Justin and I will handle the first few days together and then parent together. 

These are all thoughts I have had before but today they were just too much. The day ended in a complete breakdown and included a long and very ugly crying/praying/yelling session. 

Through that, I got it. Thank God, I got it. I am just where I am supposed to be: wrestling through these fears and anxieties that I do believe are normal and ok but completely out of my control. I’ve got no business worrying about what I can’t control. So, here I am, 4 days post due date struggling to reach complete surrender and it feels so much better than being shackled to fear and anxiety. 

All of Matthew 6. If you’re where I’m at, go there and find a little piece of refuge. 

Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. Matthew 6:34

Jesus, I am so human. And I need you SO terribly. Holy Spirit, help me obey this command, for in it, I know there is crazy freedom that can only come from you. 

Oliver will be in my arms soon enough, in God’s perfect timing, and he will be exactly how he was made to be. And for now, his mama will keep learning lessons from her good and loving Creator. I know I’ll probably teach that kid a thing or two but already I’m blessed by and learning through his little life.

Are you out of your comfort zone? Good.

I quit my day job. I. QUIT. MY. DAY. JOB.

I have worked for the last 2 years for this moment. I’ve re-branded once, made many mistakes, learned from some of them, made some of them again, and now, finally, my business has grown to where I get the opportunity to quit my day job and delve into the reality of what it looks like to grow TSB full time and work from home. Throughout this whole process, Justin has kept me steady. Scratch that, he’s been steady and being the dreamer, I’ve been all over the place. He has called me out and kept me in check; if it were up to me, I would have quit long ago. Heck, I still try to quit on a weekly basis. He has led me well in this and I let him and that is the #1 reason why I am where I am. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in the last few years is that you have to allow others into your dreams and to hold you accountable, I knew that I was genuinely ready to be doing this full time gig on my own when Justin told me I was ready. I had been saying I was ready for the last 2 years and the hard truth is: I wasn’t. I was so upset with Justin every time he told me that but that would have actually probably been really disastrous.

What’s been really hard: Since I was 17 years old, I have not had 2 weeks go by without a pay check being deposited into my checking account. Now, how successful I am and how much money I make is completely up to me. My success is in my own hands. I don’t know that I trust myself with that. Sales is also something that 100% does not come naturally to me, it actually brings me EXTREME anxiety. The kind of anxiety where I come home at the end of a day spent networking and cry and tell Justin I want to quit. But, the nature of growing a business, especially in just starting up, is getting in front of as many people as you possibly can, and building relationships with strangers. It is just how it is. And you know what? I’ve been out and about going door to door drumming up business, doing as many one-on-one meetings as I possibly can. I did my first elevator pitch this week (it was awful, like, I actually had two total strangers offer me advice on how to do better) and felt like I was dying inside while speaking but I didn’t even die… 🙂

The lie that I’m tempted to believe: I need to be more personable. Less awkward. Better at describing what I do. Better at selling. And only in doing all of those things, I’ll be more successful.

The truth that I have a hard time believing: I don’t have to be anyone or anything that I am not. I actually got this far from just being me and I’m really proud of where I am. So, I vow to myself to continue to be me. Sure, I want to grow more comfortable in my own skin, I want to be crazy confident, and I’ll continue working toward that but for now, this is me, this is where I am at, and I am enough.

Fear, insecurity, and being (WAY…WAY…) out of my comfort zone always creeps in and is a total fun sponge. Here, I find myself completely reliant on Jesus and what he says about me and he says I am enough. I will continue to let these circumstances, right now that is being 100% out of my comfort zone, bring me to my knees and remember how much I need a Savior.

What’s been really, really wonderful: FREEDOM – an obvious pro for anyone who works for themselves. I was growing TSB while working 40 hours a week for the past 6 months so I now had that additional time to grow TSB but also to do a few personal development things that I had been desiring to do for a long time (more on that soon). My work life is now a place that I grow and am consistently challenged. My previous job got very comfortable, not that I wasn’t 100% in it or that I wasn’t occasionally challenged, but I pretty much knew what the day would bring. Running your own business, testing markets/wording/techniques, and planning your own days, and marketing strategies look very different than that and it’s incredibly empowering. I am learning something new every day and have been pleasantly surprised at how myself and TSB has been accepted throughout other business owners.

What’s been completely different than I thought it’d be: That freedom that I was talking about has been hard to accept. For example, Justin had a couple hours free and I had a light week so we went to see a movie at 12:45pm on a Monday and I felt guilty! Like I should be working on something. I don’t work 40 hours a week. I mean, sometimes I work beyond that, sometimes I get close, and sometimes I just don’t. But after week 3 of working from home, I don’t even keep track anymore, I actually fight very hard against that urge to make sure I’m living up to that.

I get to be a work from home mama, a dream come true. I am beside myself and feel so undeserving of this opportunity but the reality is, I worked very hard to get here and have a very long way to go. Getting to the place where I can work from home isn’t where it stops, it’s actually where it begins so I’ve got a lot of hard work ahead but I can’t wait to see what kind of growth that brings: to me, to my family, and to the community of other dreamers out there who are 6 months behind me or 6 months ahead of me or 60 years ahead of me. I want to pour into and learn from everyone that I possibly can and I can’t wait to see what that looks like.

Get out of your comfort zone, my friends. It. Is. Life. Changing. Be true to you. 

You are always enough. I am always enough. All the glory and praise be to Jesus.

THIRD TRIMESTER!

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I am 39 weeks today! I can’t even believe how quickly time has gone by until right now, just now has time started crawling by. I cannot wait until Oliver is here, I grow more and more anxious with every day that passes, but I know that in just a few short weeks I will be holding my sweet boy in my arms.

This pregnancy has been a dream. I really, truly could not have asked for a more pleasant pregnancy. I had some pretty serious food aversions in the first trimester and was sick for about 2.5 weeks in the third trimester (about three weeks ago – the first week of me working from home full time!) but that has seriously been the worst of it.

Big changes have happened in the last nine months: we moved, Justin switched jobs into a part time position in ministry, I quit my day job and started working from home full time, we traveled to see family, went on the most perfect babymoon, Justin traveled to Cambodia, and we prepared for our little ones arrival. But, we are settled and so at peace right now. Sometimes we just don’t see it, nine months ago I had no idea how all this crazy was going to go down but what sweet timing The Lord has.

The emotions throughout different stages in pregnant have been really interesting (put mildly) and God is so good to know that we need 9 months to process through it all. I’ve gone from anxious about how everything would work out to scared about labor and delivery to empowered, back to scared and weak, then sad about losing time with Justin to feeling guilty about being sad about losing time with Justin to this last week really – just feeling 100% at peace. Labor and delivery will be rough, it will surely be painful but my goodness, I cannot wait to hold his little body in my arms and to watch Justin with him for the first time.

Come soon sweet Oliver, we cannot wait for you to join our little family.

We did maternity photos with the talented and lovely Amber Malia Photography and I couldn’t be happier that we did. I will forever treasure these pictures!

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What I’m Loving: Pregnancy Products

I was told of a million and one things that I absolutely HAD TO HAVE during pregnancy by everyone but I tried to keep it real simple and only buy the necessities and I just figured out as I went what those necessities for me were. Here’s what ended up being my absolute favorites:

Ingrid & Isabel Bellaband – this was a total lifesaver for me. I didn’t buy one pair of maternity jeans, I used this over my regular pants throughout my entire pregnancy.

Old Navy maternity dresses – (this and this) I have been pregnant through the Florida summer so these have been on repeat (the least amount of clothes that I can get away with is what I aimed for ;)). I also found a few plain shirts and tank tops at Motherhood Maternity that I dressed up with accessories and that pretty much did it for me on the maternity clothes front.

Garden of Life Protein – it’s hard to get in as much protein as you should be! Especially with food aversions. This has always been my go-to but during pregnancy, I clung to it to make sure I was getting enough protein. My go-to smoothie is: scoop of protein, frozen banana, heaping handful of spinach, cacao, and almond milk.

Garden of Life Prenatal Vitamins – they are a little more on the expensive side and you have to take three of them per day but the quality and contents are so worth it. You wouldn’t believe how little nutrients you get from many of the prenatal vitamins you can get off the shelf for $10.

Frankincense, Lavender, Coconut Oil on my belly (I use Young Living for my essential oils). It’s the only thing I used on my belly.

5 drops of Young Living Abundance (this is a YL essential oil blend and it is heavenly) in the tub. Hot baths have been especially helpful toward the end, it’s really helped me to relax and relieves some of the aches and pains.

ACURE products – I have talked about them before as being products that I’ve loved and these have been safe for me to use throughout pregnancy and they’ve continued to be amazing even through my crazy hormonal skin ups and downs.

Freezer Meal Prep – I’m making my way through this list right now, picking what I want and skipping over what I don’t but this is an AWESOME list of really great freezer friendly meals.