Barrett's Birth Story: Part II - Stange Sisters meet baby brother

February 26, 2016
There is nothing like finally meeting the little person you've carried for nine months and holding their little warm bodies against your skin for the very first time. I looked into the face of my beautiful baby boy, absolutely beaming inside.

And then he peed on me.

Haha! I didn't care.

He looked so much like Chelsea to me, but with his own little flair! I think it was mainly the big lips.

Breastfeeding Barrett was a little tricky at first. I tried for a solid 45 minutes or so before he finally latched on. My nurse suggested later that it might have been because of the bruising he sustained on his face from such a speedy delivery. Just about the only thing bad about quick deliveries.

By the time we got into the recovery room, it was past nine, so the girls definitely wouldn't be meeting their new baby brother until the next day.

The meeting between Chelsea, Alexa, and Barrett was one of the sweetest experiences of my life. It was also a little stressful trying to keep Alexa from loving on baby brother too much, but regardless, Andrew and I couldn't stop smiling.

Chelsea wanted to hold Barrett right away and was so sweet with him. "Awwww! Look at his cute wittle toes!" "Isn't he adowable?"

Alexa wanted to kiss his head over and over again, hold him, hug him, poke him, and name all of his body parts as she poked. "NOSE!"

Barrett is so lucky to have two older sisters who love him so much!


Barrett's birth story: Part I - Labor and Delivery

February 24, 2016
Since it took me twelve pages to write Barrett's entire birth story in my journal, I think it would be a good idea to split this story up into pieces. I'll start with the actual labor and delivery (which is probably the longest part) and save all the other "feely feelies" for another day.

So here we go.

Wednesday morning (Feb 17), I went in to the doctor's office at 9:00 AM and got my membranes stripped in hopes it would jump start my labor naturally. It turned out to be more uncomfortable than painful and just made me feel like I had a perma-menstrual cramp, so I got all my stuff together along with a couple of bags for the girls who were driving with Uncle Karl to Grandma Wilson's house for the night while we had our baby!

After the girls left, Andrew gave me a blessing, promising me strength and peace throughout the labor, then we headed for the hospital at about 4:00.

I started getting nervous in the car on the way over as I started remembering how much going pain-med free hurts. I even started asking myself as I was getting dressed in the hospital gown "Why am I doing this? Why am I subjecting myself to this pain all over again when I've already done it?" But I told myself to stop right there and remember the feelings I felt after I had Alexa.

At 4:45, they started the Pitocin. At 4:50, they broke my water. They asked me if I wanted them to check how dilated I was but I said no because I was sure I hadn't progressed much since they checked me that morning at a 3.

So, I waited, breathing through each contraction slowly and deeply. Each time a contraction would come, I counted to 20 as quickly as I could in my head while I inhaled and imagined giving that breath to the baby. While I exhaled, I counted to 20 again as fast as I could and imagined the baby progressing further down into the birth canal. I got this idea from reading bits and pieces of the book Hypno-Birthing and it really helped!

At 5:40, the contractions were steadily becoming more painful, but not unmanageable.

At 5:52, the nurse asked me if I'd like her to turn the Pitocin up a notch. I agreed because I really wanted to get this labor moving and get my baby in my arms as quickly and as safely as I could!

At about 6:35, I practically forced Andrew to leave and get himself some dinner from McDonalds down the street because I'd rather have him leave now when I was still a ways off from delivery than have him pass out from hunger when it really counted. He grudgingly left me to get some dinner with a kiss and a promise to be back as quick as he could.

At 6:45 while Andrew was away, my nurse checked me and I was dilated to a 6.5 cm. I texted Andrew to tell him the news. He didn't take much longer to eat and shortly after he got back, my nurse came in again and told me to let her know when I could feel constant pressure down low so that we could get Dr. Boheen there in time.

That time came at about 7:30. My contractions were getting pretty painful at this point. Suddenly I wasn't quite as calm with my breathing. Instead of counting all the way up to 20, I was only getting to 12, maybe 14 before I had to exhale. I'm not sure how quickly I exhaled because the exhales had turned into moans of pain. You could probably gage the severity of the contraction by my moaning. Haha! But I still tried really hard to focus on giving my breath to the baby and moving him down lower as I exhaled. Focusing on this instead of the pain helped.

My left hand started tingling first, followed by my right hand, my feet, and then even up into my neck and face. I always forget that my body starts tingling during labor.

Up to this point Andrew's main job was to help me relax and focus which ended up being sitting quietly and reading a book or texting people with updates. Haha! But as soon as I started moaning, he was up, right by my side, holding my hand letting me squeeze the life out of his hand, massage my shoulders, put a cold hand on my head, say encouraging words, whatever helped. I definitely couldn't have done this without him.

Dr. Boheen arrived sometime after 7:30, probably about 7:50 and waited for me to be ready to deliver my baby! The contractions were so painful at this point and I could really feel his head coming down, but not enough to push yet. I kept telling everyone that I needed a coach, someone to tell me when to push, but they kept telling me, "You've done this before. You'll know. You can do this." Between contractions I would try to communicate things like needing a coach, but I was also saying things like, "I just want him out. Can I push now? Is it alright to push? I just want him out." I was trying so hard to remember my breathing and helping the baby come down, but man. It. Was. Painful.

What's crazy is how quickly things move and how intense it all gets the moment you feel that urge to push, and it's hard to describe how I knew it was time to push. I don't know if it was just that I could feel him in the right position or what, but I just started pushing because I just had to. That's when I started yelling. I can't imagine not yelling. Andrew told me over and over again to breathe, so did the nurse, and everyone was telling me to keep pushing.

I could feel the burn as his head began to crown. It hurt and I wanted to stop pushing, but I knew I couldn't. The only way out of this pain was through, so I decided to push through with all my might and pray that I would be strong enough to end the pain and get my baby into my arms.

The first "pushing contraction" ended and I felt such relief! I took deep breaths and relished the relief before I would have to push again.

The next contraction came and I pushed and yelled with everything I had in me! That's when I felt his head come out. Dr. Boheen told me to open my eyes and I saw my baby for the first time, but I knew I wasn't done yet. I pushed one last MIGHTY PUSH! And my beautiful baby was out and in my arms!

Throughout the labor, I wondered if I would have the same "runner's high" at the end that I had with Alexa or if I would just feel tired. It's amazing how even though I had just worked harder and exerted more effort than ever, I was practically jumping up and down cheering!

"Look at my baby! Here he is! I have my baby! He's here! He's so beautiful! I did it! He's out! Oh, I love you!"

I held my baby against my skin and relished the feelings of relief, accomplishment, and victory. He was here and we were together! He, Andrew, and I had worked as a team and we were all together at 8:03 PM. This, this feeling that I get when it's all over is why I choose to go naturally.


My sis-in-law who has made it a sort of tradition to arrive within 10 minutes of my baby's births was on scene and took a few pictures for us. I cherish these photos that capture one of the greatest moments of my life.

So, from start to finish? 3.25 hours. W-O-W. Short labor... that's the way to go.

To be continued...

Barrett Stange

February 21, 2016
He is finally here! After 41 weeks of waiting, our little Barrett finally decided to show up! Not that he had much choice about it since we decided to induce him. He is so perfect and looks so much like his sisters to me. It was pretty apparent from the moment he came out that he got Chelsea's lips!

So, I want to share his birth story, but I don't think I'll have time to get it all written as a blog post today. I'll have to defer that for later, but here's a preview!

My sis-in-law has made it a tradition to arrive within 10 minutes after my babies are born and she didn't disappoint this time either! I'm so glad she is able to come take photos of these precious moments for us!

Can't wait to share how it all went down with you!

Happy Sunday!

Barrett's birth story:

Dear Alexa,

February 14, 2016
I am so curious to see how you are with this baby brother! Every time we see a baby, you are totally engrossed! You love to name all their facial parts and sometimes point them out, which becomes a problem when it comes to their eyes.

I wonder how you'll feel about the attention that you have to share with a sister and a brother. I know that you'll love him and that you'll love having a baby around. I wouldn't be surprised if you were one of those little kiddos who cries sympathetically when he does.

Even though things are going to change a lot around this house, I hope you take it in stride and remember how special and loved you are by your dad, mom, sister, and by the baby brother who will join us. You are such a sweet little girl who makes us all smile with your giggles, little phrases, and snuggles. I especially love it when we're walking and you say "gallop! gallop!" and do your 18-month-old interpretation of galloping. Dad and I still love the way you say "thank you, Daddy" and "sorry, Chelsea." You're such a smart little girl and such a tease! Every time I give you food to eat in the kitchen, if you're not strapped into your chair, you will take a step or two into the family room with a mischievous grin on your face until I say something Then you say "okay," and step back into the kitchen for just a moment before you do it all over again. You think you are soooo funny!

I love you so much, Alexa and know that whatever comes our way, you'll maintain your happy, sweet, loving personality no matter what!

My goodness how we love you! and P.S. Happy Valentine's Day!

Dear Chelsea,

February 13, 2016
Life is about to get a little crazy. Adding a new baby to our family isn't going to be easy, but I take some comfort knowing that you've done this before and you're older now. You know *better* how to share my attention, and you have become the BEST little helper. I just know that you and your baby brother are going to share a really special bond.

You know that I'll miss being able to spend as much time with you when he comes than I do now, but I'm going to try really hard to make time for one-on-one time. You make me laugh every day, you know that? You've gotten so good at laughing at yourself and your mistakes, and you've made some real progress with your independence that I know will be so helpful, especially when baby brother comes, like choosing and putting on your own clothes! I was really proud of you this morning when you came upstairs fully dressed and with a twinkle of pride in your eye. There was a twinkle in mine, too.

This morning, you woke up and started talking to Daddy through the vent. It was hilarious to listen to you, Dad, and Alexa jab at each other, asking how the other was doing, what they were doing, and to come upstairs. Sometimes it was hard to tell your voice and Alexa's apart, to be honest. Alexa is growing, too.

You drew me the CUTEST picture today of our family. Dad had Alexa on his shoulders, Mom had baby brother in her tummy, and you were "walking around our house." It is probably my favorite picture you've drawn to date, but you were pretty upset when I took down one of your old pictures to make room for this one. It's hard to put old art away! I wish I could display it all!

With baby just a few days off, Dad and I have been thinking even harder about what his name will be. I'm still leaning towards Barret (Barrett?) the most so that his nick-name will be Barry, but every time I bring that up, you say "that's a girl's name!"

You are so good at quiet time, girl! And I love the time I get to spend with just you before you're on your own. We made a parade the other day with Legos lining the street and Beanie Babies, characters from Frozen and 101 Dalmations, zoo animals, and ponies as spectators. It is so much fun to see your creativity!

Still as active as ever! You keep everyone in this household fit! Today you told me that you were faster than I am. That might be true... for now...

I hope you know how much I love you, Chelsea. I'm not a perfect mom, but I sure do love you, and getting to spend all day with you? I promise that there's no where else I'd rather be.

Love you Chels!

^^i love ALL of your silliness!^^

P.S. It was really fun to go through the photos on my phone today and discover all of the places you'd gone and the things you thought were important enough to document, like the rug, the Beanie Babies, your toes... You know. The really important stuff!


Thoughts on the due date: Baby 3

February 11, 2016
Ta-da! 40 weeks! Let me tell you how I'm feeling...

Remember that great list of ways to help the last little bit before your due date go by easier? Well, it works. Especially the "keeping yourself busy" part. The last two days stunk because I wasn't doing anything productive. At all. Once I started organizing my craft room and keeping busy, it got easier.

Joanna and Chip Gaines? Thank you for brightening my life every time you come on the screen. I love escaping into the hilarious life and relationship of you two at least once a week.

To schedule an induction, or not to schedule an induction? I'll think about that next week if the babe still hasn't come.

Ya know, Tuesday would be a really great day to have this baby. I could have the baby Tuesday, stay in the hospital for a couple days, and Mom could come Thursday, since she works in the temple on Wednesdays.

I wonder how big he'll be. Will he be about the same size as his sisters or will he be bigger?

Andrew made me feel really good last night when he asked "Hasn't there been a study done that babies who stay in the womb longer are usually better sleepers and less whiny?" Not sure if that's true, but you helped me feel better. I love you, Babe!

Andrew's birthday is next week on the 17th. What shall I get you... Just kidding, I already know what I want to get you. ;)

Whenever I feel a little overwhelmed at meal times trying to serve everyone, I can't help but think, "What am I going to do with three?"

I love that I feel like I've gotten to a point where I have my kids and our life figured out (on time to church every week, spend good quality time with each and they'll be good for me, stick with a routine) and now we're going to throw another little one in the mix. Awesome. Starting over again! It'll be fun.

I love when my girls play nicely together and I can hear their sweet little giggles!

I'm sure I'll miss all the crying and refereeing someday.

Let's plan the newborn shoot! Just need some greenery and maybe a cute little stuffed animal, I think, but what am I going to wear?

Has it really been nearly 5 years since I graduated from college? Time to renew that certification! It might be kind of fun to go back to school for 6 credits!

Oh how I wish Chelsea would like the clothes I buy her. I bought her the CUTEST skirt and shirt last night and she said, "Maybe I'll like it in 100 days."

I am so grateful that I have so many good and kind people in my life! I love you ALL!

Let's get going, baby! We're all excited to meet you! Until then, I'll try to be patient and subdue myself by looking at pictures of  your sisters when they were babies.



What a blessing these little babes are! I can NOT wait to find out how this little boy fits in! See you soon little man!

Susan is a birth photographer/videographer serving Mesa, Arizona and surrounding cities including Chandler, Gilbert, Queen Creek, Scottsdale, and Tempe. Considering a photographer for your birth? Contact Susan for EDD availability.

How to survive the last couple of weeks before baby

February 8, 2016
All moms know that it's the last month of pregnancy that's the longest, and the last couple of days/weeks before the due date? Even worse, however, this time around, it hasn't been as bad a wait for me. It's probably because I'm really busy with two active girlies in my home, but I also decided that this time, I would change my mindset.

To begin with, because both of my girls decided to show up "late for the party," I'm expecting this one to arrive on or after his due date, too. That way, if for some reason he does decide to show up a little early, I'll be happy, and if he's late, I'll be fine, too!

So, with that expectation in mind, here are some helpful tips for getting through those last couple of weeks.
**Keep in mind that this list is based off of my own personal experience with fairly "routine" births that were over-due. Every birth is different and every mother is different.

Don't pack your hospital bag too early
Honestly, I think I'd probably be fine waiting until the day I start into labor to pack, but I do think it's a good idea to be at least a little prepared. However, if I had packed at the beginning of January, like I really wanted to, I think it would have raised my expectations a little bit. So, I convinced myself to wait until the first week of February, at least!

Pace yourself
I decided to make myself a calendar with one big chore to tackle each day, things like dusting the blinds, cleaning the oven, doing the laundry, making freezer meals, organizing the girl's room, cleaning the baseboards, etc. I even included one day where I just get to rest, those are normally the days when I have my Dr. appointment. This saves you energy and also makes you feel like you have stuff to do while you wait. I'd suggest scheduling in some fun stuff, too!

Fully-cooked is good!
Those little babes grow SO MUCH in the last couple of weeks! They gain that cute squishy baby fat and their little, tiny baby organs are developed exactly the way they need to be in order to handle life outside the womb. Having that mind-set has really helped me this time around.

You can have Braxton Hicks, efface nearly 100%, be dilated, and still be weeks off from welcoming your little baby into the world. Don't get too excited.

People are going to say stuff and make disbelieving faces and it's going to get REALLY old. Expect it, and just smile or laugh and walk away.

Keep busy
And don't read too much baby literature! There comes a point when you just have to kind of "wash your hands" of it all, close your eyes, and accept that you're ready.
Spend time with friends, read a good non-baby book, watch your favorite TV show, write thank-you notes, clean, improve old talents, find new ones, write in your journal about how hard it is to wait... Just do something!

Service and Gratitude
^^printable via happiness is homemade^^

Recently, I've been feeling like I don't show enough gratitude to all the people who have/continue to help me out and thinking I'd like to be more like my amazing sis-in-law Brooke who makes birthday cards for EVERYONE in our family (which really is saying a lot). And the more you focus on serving other people and being grateful for others, the less time you think about how terribly you want to hold your baby in your arms!

Those last couple of weeks are for sure the hardest of the entire pregnancy with all the anticipation (not to mention the discomfort!) that you have for your babe to come, but try to relax. Your baby is safe and happy. He'll come when he's ready.

Be strong, and good luck!

P.S. If you wanna be one of the first to know when this baby does make his arrival, make sure you follow me via my social media, especially Instagram. That's my favorite. ;)

Quality time and our home

February 4, 2016
It's funny how we re-learn the same lesson over and over again, but we don't realize it until we *think* we've learned it yet again. For instance: I have experienced, multiple times, just how important quality time is with my children, especially Chelsea. But in the last two days, I've experienced and learned it again.

Yesterday was kind of stinky. I did pretty good with being patient for most of the day, and then - I didn't (why oh why are you fighting me about going potty before quiet time?) So today, I really didn't want a repeat and I asked her to think of something she wanted me to do with her before quiet time today. She just wanted to play. I spent 10 minutes with her, building a Lego zoo and then, when I told her to give me a kiss before I left, she gave me a kiss, and I went upstairs. Now, that's not to say she was a perfectly perfect angel and stayed in her room for a full 90-120 minutes, but I decided that it really didn't matter so much if she came up a couple of times to show me something or tell me something (I'm trying to remember my 2016 word of the year).

I love these "aha" moments, when it feels like the sun is coming up over the horizon and you just feel warm and fuzzy inside. I think that's God's way of giving you a thumbs up.

^^excited to have a baby brother!^^

^^trying to teach chelsea how to take a photo with my camera. not bad, right?^^

Something else I've been thinking a lot about recently (because of the nesting instinct, really), is how grateful I am for my home and for the man who provides it. My house isn't totally where I want it yet (some walls leave me in a stupor), but every time I clean it up and look around, I feel so blessed to be where I am.

^^i love this little corner where chelsea hangs her art!^^

^^mine and chelsea's chairs from looking at photos on the computer together. quality time!^^

Well, hopefully this time next week, I'll have a babe to introduce to you, but we'll just have to wait and see! Thanks for stopping by!
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