Sunday, January 17, 2021

The Birth Story of Elliot Rex

The story of my second son's entrance into the world is so so very different from the story of my firstborn. And yet, as I reminisce back on both births, I am reminded not just of the differences, but also of the similarities.
Pain. Hands down, these were the two most painful experiences of my life.
Joy. The moments that they each entered the world were also two of the happiest of moments of my life.
(June 17th and the last full bump picture I took before Elliot was born.

I had my first Braxton hicks contractions about a month before Elliot was born. And then on the 18th of May, I started having intense contractions. They were like the real deal and close together. Under normal circumstances I wouldn't have cared too much at the thought of baby coming early (although a month is a little too early!) but John's brothers wedding was that coming wkend, and I didn't want to miss that wedding for ANYTHING.  I spent that day and the next in bed, drinking water and resting, and the contractions stopped completely. 

Nothing happened for the next few weeks. Well, no contractions, that is. We took a the wedding road trip and hosted a big bridal shower and had multiple batches of company though, so we had plenty going on! But PTL baby obviously got comfy and decided to stay put after all. =)
(Axton "giving baby brother sugar" during our time in the sun Thursday afternoon, June 18th. 
Little did I know that this would be the last picture of my bump with Elliot on the inside!)

June 18th was a day just like all the others that week. I felt great, did housework, sat outside in the sun while Axton played, etc. That evening we went on one of our routine evening walks with John's brother and his family. Toward the end of the walk, I had one slight contraction, but really didn't think anything of it, because I had had a small one that afternoon, and it wasn't that substantial. It was so tiny I barely even thought of it as a contraction, more just like a little twinge of something...

I had a hard time going to sleep that night but that was just because I didn't feel tired. Finally I drifted off probably around 11pm? I must've hardly slept at all because when the contractions woke me up, my first thought was that I hadn't slept yet. In comparing timing later, I realized that I must've slept at least 20-30 minutes before the contractions started. But it wasn't much. I was quite groggy with the first few but didn't stay that way for long as they intensified. With the first few, I remember thinking to myself, "ah, labor is starting....but maybe I'll be able to go back to sleep and sleep through these early contractions for a while?" That was clearly an ignorant thought! A few contractions later and I realized that I was definitely done with sleep for the foreseeable future.

I quietly moved out to the living room couch without waking John. I knew (thought!) we had a long labor ahead of us and I wanted at least one of us to get a little more sleep yet! I had the contraction timer downloaded on my phone and I started timing my contractions. Within half an hour they were two minutes apart and extremely regular. I was groaning through them almost right away which was different than with my labor with Axton, and John woke up before long. He sat with me through a few and then said he was going to call the doula. I was adamantly opposed to that---she had spent upwards of 20 hours at our house when I was in labor with Axton and there was no way I was going to do that to her again! I protested as best I could with the 60 seconds or so that I had between contractions.

John called the doula and let her listen to me laboring. (she told me later that when she heard me she knew I was really progressing) Based on that and the length between contractions, she headed our way and John called my midwives. I was borderline frustrated because I just "knew" that everyone was coming way too early, but I really didn't have the energy to disagree because those contractions were building up right on top of each other. I headed back to my room to do my makeup because I just like to be prepared like that. Note: applying mascara while in active labor takes forever!

My doula arrived at 2am and she could tell right away that things were flying. The midwives were on their way, John was filling the birth pool, and suddenly one of the contractions turned into a sudden urge to push. I remember thinking, "I don't know why, but I have to push!" With Axton's birth I didn't even have the slightest need to push until hours and hours and hours into the labor. So that need to push took me greatly by surprise. I think I said to my doula something like, "yikes, I've got to push!" It started happening every couple of contractions-it was like I just could not help myself, I HAD to push. 

Over the next hour I labored mostly in the living room or the bathroom. I hadn't been laboring long enough to feel hungry but I did throw up. (same as last time) 

*Quick note to other mamas: if you are like me and have a hard time keeping food down during labor, try drinking some kind of sparkling juice/beverage. The sugar/sweet gives needed energy and it seems to stay down better than snacks, maybe because it is a liquid! This has been a lifesaver for me in both of my labors!

The midwives came in around 3am. Someone said I needed to get in the birth pool and I told John, "I don't want to!" (ha, I probably sounded like a 2 year old or something!) Much as I wanted a water birth, I had bad memories from the birth pool with Axton's birth-I had been in and out of that thing so much then! In my mind it was just entirely premature for me to get in and I just didn't want to get in and have things slow down and have to get back out. 

Somehow, in spite of my stubbornness, they convinced me to that it really was a good idea to get in. Once I was in the pool, around 3:10am, it really did feel so good and I was glad I was in, even though I knew I'd probably be in and out again like last time...

In between contractions I was able to sip some sparkling juice which tasted HEAVENLY and so refreshing! One of my midwives asked me what time Axton usually wakes up and I told them "7:30am" to which she responded "aww, there's gonna be a little brother here for him to meet when he wakes up!" and I thought, "wow, they really are optimistic, bless their hearts."

That thought was at 3:15am.

Suddenly, at about 3:20am, the pushes weren't random, but were every contraction. I HAD TO PUSH every time and all of a sudden it hit me that maybe this train was really moving a whole lot faster than I thought it was.

The next ten minutes were fully focused on pushing and bringing our little man into the world. John said I was squeezing his hand so tightly that he was going to take off his ring in between pushes...only for the next ten minutes there was no in between anything-it was one after another and I was getting closer and closer!

At exactly 3:30am little Elliot Rex arrived! As he was born, the song "In His Time"was playing on my birth playlist, and it was SO fitting, especially after the trauma of Axton's birth. Truly, Elliot's little story felt so redemptive and healing for my heart. It was a beautiful experience and once again I was just in awe of God's amazing design in the gift of LIFE!

"In His time, in His time. He makes all things beautiful in His time. Lord please show me every day, as You're teaching me your way, that You do just what you say, in your time." 
Back in bed, warm and cozy, just an hour after Elliot was born. This was one of my favorite parts of the home birth-being able to relax in my own bed and rest on my own schedule. I knew I would love a home birth but it was honestly just above and beyond even what I thought it would be! I HIGHLY recommend!

John and I had a couple of hours to just lay in our bed and soak in the amazing-ness of everything and little Elliot. Because my labor was so short, and had started in the middle of the night, we hadn't even told anyone I was in labor. (with Axton, we had ended up telling both of our families so that they could be praying for us, especially with the length and complications) So it was pretty wild to think that there was no need to contact anyone or anything because literally nobody knew anything, and it was still the middle of the night! The timing was really great. Finally around 6:30am, we face timed our moms. They were both so shocked! When they answered their phones, I could see a mixture of questioning and worry in both of their faces...and then I turned the phone away from John and my faces and down onto little Elliot! Our moms were both SO surprised! We also face timed Gigi to tell her in person since little Elliot Rex was named after her husband, John's late grandpa. That was a very special moment as well. It was an honor to get to name our son after his great-grandpa Rex.
Such a praise-even though Elliot was 8lb 4oz-almost a whole pound bigger than Axton-I hardly tore at all and didn't have to have any stitches! 
My amazing birth team. These ladies are rockstars and I cannot brag on them enough. Having midwives that I completely trust and love has been invaluable!
First picture of the little brothers together. Just beyond sweet. We took a video of Axton coming into the room and meeting Elliot for the first time and his reaction was just honestly the cutest thing ever. He was so inquisitive and smiley and adorable with Elliot. I will treasure that video always.

Our baby, our Elliot Rex Maxwell, was finally here!
And that's the story of his little grand entrance into the world.

Note: The items linked in this post are items that I own and love. The Amazon links are affiliate links. Please read my Amazon affiliate link disclosure here)

Friday, December 25, 2020

Merry Christmas 2020!


Merry Christmas!

*Many thanks to my sis-in-love Sarah for the beautiful photoshoot, and to Rachel Wyatt for the lovely graphic design.

Saturday, October 24, 2020

What's in My Makeup Bag, and Questions for YOU!

(Here's my current makeup bag-I can't remember where I got it. I've had it for a couple of years. It is Adrienne Vittadini brand.)

This isn't your typical makeup post, because I'm actually coming at y'all today with some QUESTIONS! Yes, I'm going to share what is in my current "makeup bag", but I'm really looking for some advice and help to "up" my makeup game. 

I have not always loved wearing makeup, although I do now! I was a tomboy growing up, and could've cared less about makeup when I was in my early teens! I remember my mom giving me my first lipgloss when I was thirteen, and my first mascara when I turned sixteen, but it wasn't a big deal to me and I hardly ever used them. I last minute decided I should probably wear a little mascara, right before my senior pictures, if that gives you an idea. So my makeup experience is really only about ten years along, and if you could see my "early days" pictures, then you'd agree with me that those early days shouldn't even count. (yikes!) 

I've grown up a bit since (maybe, ha!) and over the last number of years I have established a makeup routine and grown to love wearing makeup. For a number of years now, I have worn it every single day, with the exception maybe of a sick day here or there. For me personally, makeup makes me feel more put together and I feel like wearing it is a great way to enhance and support my face. 

Here is what is in my makeup bag and what I use everyday! 

BLUSH. I use Covergirl Classic Color Blush in Soft Mink. I don't use much and I probably don't apply it in a professional way. I just like giving a hint of color to my cheeks, especially since my skin undertones are more yellowy than pink. 

EYE SHADOW. I use Covergirl Eye Enhancers EyeShadow in Tapestry Taupe. I use this exclusively; it is the only eyeshadow I own! My application is fast and easy- I apply it all over my eyelids in a thin covering. I love that it is the perfect light tan for my skin and also has a little shimmer to it. It has worked really well for me since I don't really know anything about blending different colors etc, so this has been a simple look that at least works, even if it isn't much. I'd recommend it especially if you are just getting started with makeup, and/or are going for a simple and more natural look that you can't mess up. 

MASCARA. I use L'Oreal Paris Voluminous Million Lashes, in Blackest Black. I have tried lots of different kinds but have used this exclusively for the past several years and really do love it. It is the perfect mix-I like a dense and dewy texture-and I apply several coats. (I should also mention that before I apply my mascara, I curl my eyelashes first, but I don't like the eyelash curler I have currently, so I'm not going to link it. If you have any recommendations for a good one, please share in the comments!) 

These next two items, eye liner and lipstick, are also in my makeup bag but I don't wear them everyday. It honestly depends on my mood. =) I'd say I probably wear eyeliner half the time? And I wear lipstick mostly if I'm in a fun mood, or going for a more dramatic look. 

EYELINER. I use L'Oreal Paris Infallible SuperSlim Liquid Eyeliner in Black.

LIPSTAIN. I use this Covergirl Lip Stain when I wear lipstick and I LOVE it! My favorites are shade #545 and #626. Shade #545 is what I wore on our wedding day and what I wear most! I prefer these lip stains to actual lipstick because they don't wear off with eating, drinking water, kissing, etc. =) Each color comes with a tube of clear "sealer" that you put on after applying the color. They stay on remarkably long and don't make your lips feel dry and "caked", either. I highly recommend these! 

This may sound like a full makeup bag but in reality (and as you more experienced ladies know) mine is a super basic routine. I've never learned about contouring, shading, or blending. I love the look of foundation but the concept stresses me out because I've had a couple of bad experiences trying it and can't seem to figure out how to make it look natural on myself. I've never worn lip liner and I can't do "cat eye" winged liner lines to save my life! So this girl needs a little help here!

This is my current makeup look. I was trying to find a close up picture of myself and I realized that all of them are selfies with babies these days! That's fine with me-this little guy is my favorite mini accessory anyhow!

What products do YOU recommend? What are your favorites? I'm always up to try something new! Have you watched any helpful youtube tutorials and if so, would you share the links? What is your makeup routine? Does anyone have recommendations for a great liquid foundation that is natural-looking and breathable? I would also love to find a good toner/base and a sealer spray!

Can't wait to hear from you, so comment below, and have a lovely weekend!


(Note: all of the items linked in this post are items that I own and love! The Amazon links are affiliate links. Please read my affiliate disclosure here)

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Summer Favorites from July & August

Picking tomatoes! This was one of my favorite activities of the summer-picking tomatoes with him, and watching him stuff his mouth and learn to LOVE them! My mom planted this plant for us back in April and it went CRAZY over the summer! Literally grew over six feet tall and totally took over the flowerbed.  It provided us with so many delicious tomatoes and Axton and I especially enjoyed them soooo much!July and August were the "family visit" months; almost everyone from my family was here at different times to visit. Some even came twice! So special for most of them to meet Elliot when he was so little! Here are a few favorites from our company and memories made together during these summer months!
Visits and stories with Uncle Taylor.

This little charmer just lights up our lives!

My latest decorating project, in the living room.
The aunties came for a visit!
Kisses from cousin Jubilee! 

We had my sisters in love over for dinner one night!

More tomato picking!

A fun summer visit with Gigi and mutual friends!

Snuggles with the boys.
Shopping with the sisters.

Such an angel baby!

Fresh muffin delivery to Auntie Mary, on her birthday!
Being funny with mama.
Poor kid gets into all kinds of predicaments these days! Here he was trying to take his shirt off and things got a little twisted for him. =)

Elliot's yawn though. =)
Allllll the guys searching for a lost ball underneath the couch. 
Axton LOVES to feed Ellie treats!

Walks with Grandma!
These three Maxwell cousins. Peas in a pod, and they love each other so much!!
Nana got to meet Elliot when he was just two weeks old!
We love the holiday parties over at my inlaws! This one was for July 4th.
Cuddles with Auntie Rebs.
Errands at Walmart and special one-on-one time with my firstborn.
He loves to listen to the children's cd by his uncles and aunts! And he still is loving this carseat as well! 
Stuck, while playing at Grandpa and Grandmas. =)
This little guy slept and ate so great and so much this summer!
Three very serious little boys. =)
We enjoyed visits from my brother Mitchell, Bryn, & Micah....
...and my brother Carson, Carolina, and Jubilee! Such a treat to have family visit. 
Allllll the baby snuggles.
My dad meeting Elliot!
I love these little bibs! They were given to us a few years ago and now this is the only kind of bib I use for Axton. The little scoop/catch feature at the bottom is perfect for catching all the things. =) If you have little ones, I highly recommend these bibs!
Mowing lawn with Daddy! John is such a good dad and does amazing at involving Axton in so many of his projects.
I'm including it in an upcoming "baby favorites" post, and will talk more about why I love them then, but for now, here is the link to the Ear Protection Axton is wearing above. Perfect for protecting those little ears from loud noises!
Stories with Auntie Allison, on her last visit here as a single gal! 
Playdate with a local friend and our babies! I first met her at the bridal shower my inlaws did for me, when John and I were engaged. At that time her eldest was just a couple of months old.
Fast forward three years, and we have five babies altogether! She has the girls, and I have the boys. =) Thankful for sweet friends like this and spending time together!
All three boys sleeping at THE SAME TIME means party time for the parents. =)  Settlers of Catan has been a Bontrager family favorite for a long time. Thankfully all the ones who have "married in" like it as well!
Time with Nana!

The end of August, we had a visit to the newlyweds!


Delicious BLT lunch--homemade sourdough bread by my sis, bacon, lettuce, and tomatoes from my plant!

And that's a few favorites from our summer months! I am so thankful for all the time we could spend with extended family and also our new little "party of four". We are so blessed.
Happy Weekend!

(Note: all of the items linked in this post are items that I own and love! The amazon items are affiliate links. Please read my affiliate disclosure here)