Thursday, October 31, 2013

helpless

Well, the verdict is out. Karsten is definitely my most mellow and content newborn. Thank you, Lord. I needed this.


Strange, but I think because he is mellow it took me a little longer to bond with this third baby. Don't get me wrong, I am now fully in love and completely attached to this squishy adorable face. I just think it might be harder to bond with a baby who sleeps all the time. Not complaining, just saying.


All of those hours spent rocking and comforting my other crying newborns actually served the purpose of attaching us to each other quickly, in that supernatural way that God intended for a mother to feel attached to her children. And it has got me thinking that maybe God intended babies to be fussy for just that reason. Something about a tiny helpless baby being in need bonds us as we swoop in to rescue them.


Life is like that too. We live through seasons that are especially hard, and we might feel especially needy. On the other side of that life experience, however, we can see how the season changed us in a permanent way. There was a bonding that took place, a deep spirit learning, an experiencial wisdom that was gained. Those needy times are the only ways to get a certain supernatural change to take place within us. In our need, we are given the gift of helplessness, being reliant on God to swoop in and rescue us.


Perhaps God intend for hard seasons to work just like that in our lives.

I am just thanking God daily that He decided this baby would not be a full test of my helplessness. And if God chose to give me a baby who knows how to sleep and sit contently, I am not going to question His good gift. I am sure we have plenty of other challenges ahead!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

mine

Every day this precious little boy's appearance changes. Every day a new feature of his stands out to me, making him look like someone different. How can they grow so fast at this age?


The thing is, that they grow just as fast when they are older, we just forget to notice it because their appearance isn't changing quite as rapidly.

Here are a few comparison shots of my three kids at the same age.

The sleepy newborn shot:
Annike

Sommer

Karsten

The profile shot:
Annike

Sommer

Karsten

The newborn with eyes open shot:
Annike

Sommer

Karsten

Best shot around 3 weeks of age:
Annike

Sommer

Karsten

When I am old and looking at these pictures, I will be able to tell Karsten apart because he will be the only one wearing blue. Annike will be the one without any meat on her bones. And Sommer will be the darker, chunky one (which we adore about her). What I know for sure is that I won't be returning Karsten to the hospital any time soon because I know without a doubt that he is one of mine.


Sunday, October 13, 2013

garden goods

Our garden hasn't done quite as well as it did last year. I suppose we have been focusing on growing little people this year, instead of vegetables.


Still, we got a large crop of tomatoes, quite a few handfuls of peas, many ears of corn and some delicious carrots. Tip for other parents of a super-picky non-eating toddler:  have a garden. There is nothing like pulling something out of the dirt to make a 2-year-old want to eat it.


We lost a lot of our plants to mold, or birds, or a family of 6 baby turkeys that discovered the raised bed. The one crop that seemed to be immune to the animals were the pumpkins.


If you want to plant one thing for the fun of watching it grow with kids, I highly recommend pumpkins. These grew like Jack's magic beanstalk. We could practically see the vines stretching out over the earth with each passing day, the gourds getting bigger, turning green, then orange.



I've been seeing pictures on facebook of everyone with their cute kids at the pumpkin patch. Yesterday we went to the pumpkin patch too. Except that we didn't have to get in the car. We walked out the front door to harvest our pumpkins from our very own side yard!



I admit our little patch is not quite as artistically displayed as the professional lots, but the kids had just as much fun in this one. In fact, they have been having fun in it all summer long. The girls each "claimed" their pumpkin months ago while they were still green. They watched them grow, and were excited to finally pick and place them on the porch.



I always love the idea of having a large pile of pumpkins on my doorstep, but at $10-$15 dollars each it can really add up! Is anyone else shocked at the price of pumpkins these days? Someone is making a lot of money on this Halloween commodity. We can now tell you from experience that they don't cost a lot to grow. The $3 spent on the packet of seeds was well spent.


The little guy even got in on some of the action!



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Another great joy we find in our garden is the opportunity to give of our abundance. My husband teaches me a lot about this, and I guess I have a lot to learn.

Every time one of our little friends comes over, he suggests that we let them pick a pumpkin to take home. I was selfishly excited about putting all 15 of the pumpkins we grew on our porch for the fall. But it is such a good feeling to share the joy with others. So much better than feeling pride in an overly decorated porch. Seriously, who needs 15 pumpkins on the porch?

Especially when the things that matter most are already there.


Thursday, October 10, 2013

k's labor story

When I come home from a girls' night out Christian often asks me if the girls talked about A) our weddings, or B) our labor stories. The answer is usually yes to at least one of the above.

While I am certain that not everyone loves a labor story as much as I do, I also know there are plenty of others that are curious. In my opinion every labor story is worth telling because it is the story of how a precious life was brought into this world. Below is my story of laboring little Karsten into the world. His story deserves to be told, because it how his life outside the womb begins. I am writing it down as much for myself as for others, so if you aren't into labor stories, then I give you complete permission to skip this post!

It is strange how history can color our experiences. After the births of my two other children, it was hard to picture things progressing differently. With both of these other labors I woke up in the middle of the night and immediately went into hard, active labor. Annike was born 2.5 hours later; Sommer was born 1 hour and 15 minutes later. Neither experience included any early labor signs. Both were about as intense and fast as I could physically handle.

This history led to a little bit of anxiety (for Christian especially!) about how fast my 3rd labor was going to be, and whether or not we would make it to the hospital on time considering we live in a somewhat remote location 20 minutes away from the hospital and I am often home alone with the kids. Who would take me to the hospital if he wasn't home? While worrying over this, we enlisted a lot of prayer and had many conversations about plan A, B, C, DEF and G. In the end, Christian's relief about the "convenient timing" of this 3rd labor was just one of many proofs that God's was with us.

On Saturday morning, one day after my due date, we had nothing planned for obvious reasons. All morning long I was experiencing more low back pain than normal and feeling mild abdominal cramps. You might think these would be obvious signs of early labor. Yes, but I was 40 weeks pregnant and similar aches and cramps had been part of my daily existence for the previous three weeks or more. I read books to the kids. I highlighted my hair. I took a long shower. I should have picked up the house but I guess I was feeling slightly tired and unmotivated.

Around 10am, Christian came inside from working in the garden. When I told him about my growing discomfort, he thought we should play it on the safe side and decided to take me to the hospital just to get checked out. We left the house in a state of calm, found a good friend to take the girls for the morning, and called my parents to make their 45 minute drive up. On our way out the door, I was pretty convinced the hospital was going to send me home. I was wrong.

A few minutes before we pulled up to the birthing center, I felt my first real contraction. Oh! I was glad we had left when we did. They checked me in to the hospital around 10:45, hooked me up to the monitors, and told me my contractions were 3 minutes apart. Soon thereafter I began really breathing through them, while Christian sat by my bedside practically giddy with relief that we had timed it the way we did. I can still hear him saying, "I am so glad we are at the hospital!" and "I am so glad this isn't in the middle of the night!"

Things progressed as they should have, I suppose. But it all seemed sooo much slower to me than my other labors. It has occured to me that labor, and pain in general, is such a mental game. Mentally we have to be prepared by setting our minds to endure. For whatever reason, my mental game was not on this time around and I never really "relaxed" (as if that can truly happen) into the rhythm of my contractions. I kept asking the nurses what was taking so long?!?

Eventually they broke my water when I was dilated about 7-8cm. In my impatience to be finished with all of the extreme pain I tried to prematurely push the baby out, which just resulted in a lot of extra pushing. Little baby did not want to come out and it felt like he was stuck for all 25 minutes of the final stage of labor. When he finally made his grand exit, the pediatric team took him right away because there was some meconium in my amniotic fluid (meconium is that black sticky stuff that makes up the first bowel movement of a newborn and can be a problem if the infant ingests it.) Fortunately, the meconium proved not to be an issue.

I heard the baby cry within moments. With my eyes closed and my head laid back on the table in exhaustion, Christian exclaimed in utter surprise and excitement, "Oh my goodness! It's a BOY!"

What? What?!? A BOY?? I was pretty convinced I was having a third girl, though who knows what old wives tales and stereotypes were dictating that notion. BOY. Who knew?

A baby boy big beautiful surprise, born at 12:51pm. A healthy 7pounds and 15ounces, pushed out about 2 hours after arriving at the hospital.

I couldn't believe how looong it felt like I had been in labor. The labor team just laughed at my complaints and assured me that was pretty fast. But after 3 natural labors and deliveries with no pain medicine, epidural, or anything to take the edge off, I just might be curious to try that epidural next time. If there was going to be a next time, which there isn't. Unless God has something to say about it.

The process of laboring a child into this world is truly a miracle. I am in awe of the way that God designed women with the ability to endure so much pain at one time. Serious explosion of pain. I had unrealistic expectations that my third labor experience would be easy, would involve a lot less pain than the others, and would find me healed up more quickly. Not sure why I had those expectations. They only messed up my mental ability to persevere and focus through it all.

In the end, holding this little miracle makes it all worthwhile. Yes, that is mascara running down my face, probably trapped by a tear or two during labor.

Today Karsten is 12 short little days old, and so far seems to have the sweetest nature of all our newborns. I guess that makes him worth a little extra pain in delivery.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

baby karsten

Falling in love with my newest addition.








Who does he look like? Christian, Annike, Sommer, Me?? 

** These precious hospital photos were taken by my talented and amazingly artistic friend Jessica. Special thanks for blessing us with this priceless memory of our 3rd baby in the hospital.**

Friday, October 4, 2013

happy birthday to me

Yep. Now it is my birthday. We like to pack it in around here! I think I am 34, but I will have to do the math to be absolutely sure.

This year all I want for my birthday is a luxurious nap... and a long bath. Strange how our perspectives of birthdays change as we mature. Even a few years ago I would have been disappointed if we did not at least go out to dinner on my birthday. Or I would secretly desire some unique gift.

I can honestly say that not a single material thing matters at the moment. My family is healthy and my heart is full of love for them. I was greeted with two little girly voices eagerly excited to wish me a "Happy Birthday" this morning. My husband is taking care of me. And I just received a surprise birthday visit including cake and coffee from some very dear friends who love my children as much as they love me.


My grandma's special gift to me on my birthday, and each of us individually, is a personal card that is really an exhortation over our lives. I especially appreciate her wisdom and written blessing for my life this year, and want to share it:
Dear Ashley, 
In all this flurry of new babies, I dont want to overlook the mother of some of them!  In spite of the frenzy and clamor in every house with young children, these are some of the happiest years of your life!  Youll forget the constant demands on your time and privacy, energy and interests, and remember all the joy of sticky fingers, delight in new discoveries, hugs around the neck (somehow, teenagers dont indulge in expressing love or gratitude) and the absolute trust little ones show .  Relax and enjoy!  And dont think you have to accomplish as much in the house as you have done prior to arrival #3.  You and Christian make ideal parents, and are mature enough to get your priorities straight. 
Above all, keep the place of Jesus prominent in your home, so that your children grow up to honor His Word always, sing songs of praise to Him, participate in all the church activities, and make Him a prominent Person in their lives. 
With much tender love,Grandma Grace
I had such low expectations for being the one who is celebrated this year, and yet I think it may be one of my best birthdays ever - because I have so much to celebrate!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

another birthday

Introducing Karsten Paul Negard! A BOY!! And another birthday to add to our end of September celebrations.


Born on Saturday, September 28, 2013 at 12:51pm
7 pounds, 15 ounces, 20 1/4 inches

The name Karsten is the Germanic or Dutch form of the name Christian, meaning "follower of Christ". It fits in nicely with our Scandinavian set of names, and we just plain like the name.

His middle name was given in honor of my father, Paul, who will surely be a favorite playmate of Karsten's just as he is of our daughters. Paul means "humble".

We pray little Karsten will always be a humble follower of Christ.


He is welcomed with great love and affection, and a little apprehension, by his two older sisters.



Little Karsten was born after around 2-2.5 hours of labor, which felt like a decade to me. I had this unrealistic expectation that birthing a third child would be much easier than the first two. Hmmmm. As soon as I can get my act together as a mother of three, I will share more details.

For now, suffice it to say that all of our prayers were answered in that mom and baby are both healthy and baby wasn't born in the car. He arrived only one day past my due date - HUGE GIGANTIC relief for me. I really didn't think I could carry two weeks late again this time around. And Christian was especially pleased that I decided to bring him into the world at a convenient time instead of the middle of the night.


I can't believe we have a little BOY in the house!!!! Our lives are about to change...


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