Saturday, December 21, 2013

Flu Management and Recovery Holistically

First of all:
I am not a doctor, voo doo or otherwise. I am not an herbalist, a natropath, or certified to give anyone any advice of any kind ever. (though I need to get on that eyebrow consultant certification...making the world a better place one arch at a time...) 
I write this as an encouragement to mamas out there who are looking to take care of their kiddos during this flu season in a gentle manner, whether they chose to vaccinate or not.

Like any family who chooses not to vaccinate, I do not believe that decision will protect us from getting viruses or diseases. The hefty weight of the decision to vaccinate was/is not taken lightly. Based on the effects it can have on our daughter with a probable auto immune disorder, the danger of the ingredients found in vaccines (from heavy metals, to peanut oil which is deadly to our 4 year old), religious reasons, and the overall effectiveness of vaccines has lead us to exclude them from our family's healthcare. Making this decision means that we must have a plan of action for if/when our children are exposed to viruses.
We are a mission minded family and understand that we called to reach the ends of the Earth. We trust that if/when we or our children are called to international missions that God will do so in a timely manner, allowing us to make appropriate decisions regarding this manner.
And lastly, be aware of overwhelming your body with essential oil usage. Know your body, and your children's.


Last Saturday Norah and Lily went to a friend's house to play. Norah had a stuffy nose and a little cough, but that is common for her after having a severe reaction (which she had less than 48 hours before). Not long after dropping them off, I received the call that she was running a good fever and not feeling well.
Still assuming it was her reaction flaring up in a big way, I didn't do much but apply Lavender and Peppermint (carried in organic coconut oil) on the bottoms of her feet, base of her neck and spine to reduce her fever. Worked like a charm.
We went to church the next morning thinking she was fine, but got the report that she had been a particularly cranky babe and wasn't feeling well.
Fast forward a few days and all the Burke Ladies (and then the Burke Daddy) had thrown up, fever, coughing, loss of appetite, boogery, hot mess. It was clear- the F Bomb had been dropped on our house.

It has now been one week since Norah first had fever and all the babes are doing much better- this is how we did it.

Essential Oil Flu Shot
doTERRA's Official protocol for Influenza is as follows:
Breathe (Respiratory Support blend)
On Guard (Antibacterial Immune Support Blend)
White Fir
Aside from the White Fir, Orange, and Ginger, I mixed one drop of each oil into a glass roller ball bottle and filled the rest with organic coconut oil. I rubbed this on their chest, base of the neck, spine and feet every 30-60 minutes.

If fever became an issue again, I held back on the flu shot and continued with the lavender/peppermint on their feet until the fever broke. Usually under 45 minutes. Unlike Motrin, Tylenol, etc, using essential oils to break a fever is not dangerous. It doesn't just block fever receptors, it fights the bacteria that are triggering the fever.

The pukes and squirts
Along with loss of appetite, it can be hard for little ones (and big ones) to keep anything down. Vomit, diarrhea, and dehydration are not fun for anyone especially itty bitties.
I'm so grateful for this article I found on how/why to use Activated Charcoal to manage/prevent dehydration.
It is very important that you are feeding yourself and your babes gentle, nourishing foods during this time.

Garlic Flu Shot
While I can't get the girls to touch this with a ten foot pole, my husband and I take this little concoction. Call me a weirdo, I actually kinda like it.

Keeping Clean
To keep the spread of germs to a minimum, we used doTERRA's On Gaurd hand soap and disinfected with Purify and Lemon. Norah cannot use foaming hand soap so she uses Badger Balm Baby Soap.
Changing bedding, throw up clothes, etc as soon as possible is a must. I am even using paper diapers until the virus is out of the house. It's one less thing I have to clean up!

Regular Supplements
We kept up on our intake of a high quality Cod Liver Oil and vitamin D. I loved what this mama had to say about liquid Vit D3:
"I recommend Micillized D3 specifically, if you can find it.  Micellized D3 is a form of vitamin D that has been processed to be more readily absorbed by the body. Vitamin D3 is an essential vitamin that is especially hard to get enough of naturally during the winter months because we’re not getting as much sun exposure. In terms of fighting illness, it helps the body to produce immune cells and helps with mineral absorption, and regulating mineral levels in the body."If we could handle probiotics, we of course would be taking those as well.

Remember, try not to drive yourself crazy while your family is puking and coughing their brains out.
The flu will pass and hopefully, this information will help to keep you all sane and a little more comfortable in the meantime!

Bathed in Serenity

Last night (and the one before) have been hard, hard, hard for our sweet Phoebe. Flu and teething and getting to that point where just falling asleep peacefully in mamas arms just isn't an option anymore make for a very unhappy babe.
I rocked, prayed, sang, cried, nursed, everything I could think of, she still squirmed screaming. Her hair was curly with sweat, little voice worn out, I felt completely helpless. Husband went downstairs, giving up on trying to sleep with us.
I drew a warm bath in the dark and readied fuzzy towels and a diaper.
We climbed in, I blanketed her in a washcloth that barely covered her doughy rolls, and slowly poured the warm water over her. She quickly slipped into sleep.

I dared not moved, hunched over, holding her chubby being curled up into me.
I washed the sweat out of her hair...
I was left to my own thoughts and began to weep.

Everyone around is buzzing about this year being almost over and reflecting on the good and the bad.
2013 was a wash for me. It is not what I planned, not what I wanted. A kick in the gut. A fresh start turned Series of Unfortunate Events.
Phoebe's birth was beautiful, God's provision has been undeniable and abundant (this is where I am writing that down to convince my unbelieving self.) But, while not necessarily a bad thing, my identity's been shaken, my pride sucker punched, my heart humbled. And the truth of the matter is that there is NO PROMISE that tomorrow will be better. Mercies will abound and renew, undoubtedly, but our heavenly circumstances await in Heaven!

The first night of Phoebe's fits I sat in our stairway crying to God, "Lord, let me long for Heaven as much as I do right now when I am on the mountain top and not in the valley."

Sitting there in the dark, soothing a sick babe I realized that the essential oils I poured in the tub must be helping. The blend I used was called "Serenity."
I smiled as I realized once again that my faithful Father had used my babies again for my edification.
Her pain was legitimate, it was real, it hurt in a way she couldn't express. But, (once I overcame my frustration) being bathed in Serenity, she was able to relax.

For just a moment, the haze of PPD lifted and I was able to let out

"Blessed is the Lord who bathes me in His Serenity!"

Isaiah 9:6
For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;
And the government will rest on His shoulders;
And His name will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father
Prince of Peace.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Much Ado About Really Important Stuff

I've got a lot to say recently. About Jesus, about sex, about being a wife.
I'm a person with a big mouth of strong convictions and with that requires confident discernment.

In the past, I've been able to speak my mind (and get my point across...more or less). But I've got words rattling in my brain overflowing from the guttural disturbances in my soul waiting to explode out of my fingers and from my mouth. But quiet I have been sitting. A little bit haunted, a little bit anxious.

You see, being convicted is not an easy thing for me. 
I HAS THINGS TO SAY. But will anyone hear them? 
GOD IS STIRRING STUFF UP IN ME. But will it hurt everyone around me if I share?
I am often seen as young, naive (rabbit trail, I only know how to spell "naive" because of some 90's movie that went off about how bottled water is stupid and "Evian" is "naive" backwards), judgmental, uneducated... I could go on but I'll stop before I get personal.

Let me give you an example.

I don't masturbate. Neither does my husband.

I would be willing to bet (based on personal conversations) that most of you who read this thought the same thing for two reasons.
"Oh, you poor thing."

Because you think I am self deprecating and my sex life must be unfulfilled and boring and that I sleep in pinafores and I've probably never had an orgasm.
Or because you think one of us is lying and that I'm naive enough to believe that lie.

But I can stand before you and yell and sing and fall on my face declaring my fulfillment in the obedience of my conviction. 

But I don't feel qualified. I married young. Only slept with one man, my husband, on our wedding night, I didn't tear and bleed, I wasn't locked in my bathroom crying to my mom because I didn't know what to do. I've only been married five years, my husband has not had an affair with anyone and neither have I. I'm blessed to have a husband who admitted to his pornography consumption- and stopped it. I don't have to constantly forgive an abuser for using me sexually as a child, or myself for using my body to gain love from men in previous relationships. I don't know that hurt. I don't know that grief. Who I am to speak on this?

There is an urging in me like I've never had before- and the doubt to match it. To speak about my convictions- because they aren't mine alone. Most of them on the Christian Sexual Identity, but also less scary stuff that doesn't involve fun words like "fornication."

The conversation I want to start about what the Bible has to say about a lot of the REALLY IMPORTANT STUFF that is viewed as "nothing" I fear will turn out much like some of my conversations with Norah. She is a sweet girl. She doesn't eat any junk food. Fruits, veggies, meat and some rice and legumes. That's it. But sometimes she has a sweet tooth. And she really wants a banana. A banana is a fruit. It doesn't have high fructose corn syrup, red dye #40, and is seen by most as a health food! But is is high in histamines. Norah's body is very sensitive to histamines so allowing her to have a banana is a dangerous game. We never know how many is "too many" or where to draw the line because on any given day that number changes. It won't send her into shock, but it will cause her to break out. And if she does break out too frequently, she will go into shock.
Who wants to be the parent to tell their kids they can't have a banana?! 
I have to be that parent. Maybe I have to be that disciple.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Dear Daughters: Fall

Lady loves,

It seems like time is running on exponentially quicker by the day.
We're now in November, 2013 is almost over. The next few months will be slightly cooler here, dictated only by a series of cool/cold fronts. Winters are much more mild on the coast.
It seems like God isn't moving slowly with our family. He is moving us swiftly through each transition in our lives. Your daddy got injured at work on his birthday and we were left totally vulnerable. God showed off in a big way getting our bills, groceries and rent paid for when we were completely unable to. How wonderful is it that HE IS ABLE when often, we are not. Don't ever forget that He has been your everything since you were in my belly. He always shows up.
Because of this injury, a new job opened up for daddy at a different company. The hours are long for now, leaving me a bit lonely, and you a bit pent up, but it is temporary. We've had to re-examine our priorities to make this time that is challenging, demanding, and sometimes monotonous, filled with just a little more peace and grace.


You are losing the last bit of your baby chub, revealing a young lady that is maturing within you. You are incurably curious, generous, and your budding sense of humor leaves us all rolling. Becoming your school teacher challenges me daily. Watching your eagerness to learn combined with your lack of discipline gives me deeper insight to the Lord's patience with me. You are the best of helpers, when you want to be. You are developing your own taste in what is beautiful and womanly. You bring an innocence and silliness to the groups you play with. I hear you tell your friends about Jesus and my heart explodes with Joy. I am praying for a best friend for you. A loyal, sweet, Jesus claimed girl that will bring you laughter and creative conversations to nurture your growing soul.


My sweet girl. Daily I am reminding myself not to define you by your condition or your attitude. Your reactions are intensifying, leaving my mind to constantly worry about what I can "do" for you. You test my faith and show me how often I doubt the ability of Our Father. You give me the courage to pray deeper, more extravagantly than ever before. You are petite, still have the chubbiest fingers and the most adorable pot belly. Your hair is thinning in some places, but it is getting long enough for me to play with when you sit still long enough. You are a spit-fire. You have sass and humor for days. You are enjoying your new role as big sister and getting to know who Lily and Phoebe are in your world. You are learning fast at your sister's side. You are developing a love for food and cooking. I am praying that you know contentment so deeply that you can show me. I am praying for a diagnosis and cure for your ailment.


I have yet to meet a single human that greets you with anything less than a smile. You spread joy with your chunkalicious rolls and contagious smile. You are my shy girl, you bury your head in my chest with the sweetest smile anytime you meet someone new. You have rounded out our family in such a way that makes us feel a wholeness we didn't know was missing. You exhaust me to no end, but are my breath of fresh air whenever I need it. You are scooting and army crawling around our apartment and are sure to be full on crawling any minute. You have two adorable chompers. You are tiny and I am not wistful for you to grow up in any way.

We have six more months before we have to move out of this apartment. I spend my evenings before I go to bed praying about what that looks like. Moving into another apartment? Finding a home where we can stretch our legs and play in a yard? I know what I want, what I covet, but I am breathing in the Truth that God has something perfect for us. Your daddy and I know this is a time of rebuilding for our family. To bring us to know each other more intimately before He sends us out again. This fall is a time of closeness, and as much as my flesh wants to push you away at times to live selfishly, I will draw your closer to me, to Jesus.

All my love,

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

They Do Not Even Know How To Blush

We've all been there, ladies.
Hangin out with your lady friends, trying out clothes at the mall or in someone's living room at a clothing swap, or bathing in our pantaloons near a wild riverside... No, slap out of it, that never happens in real life, weirdo... Anyway there's that one girl with the rockin' bod- long legs, big butt (but not too big) teeny tiny waist, big boobs, appropriately trendy hair- and all the other lady friends are silently hating her (or not silently, if you're into verbally abusive friendships) while she tries on that one pair of jeans that seem to not fit anyone "just right". Except her.
A friend recently recounted one of these scenarios to me at a loss for words. Her friends urged her to try on a crop top. There is little to no evidence that she's grown several giant babies in her Barbie tight tummy so her friends NEEDED to see what this non-complete piece of clothing is "supposed to look like." Since she and everyone else there was saved, she offered up "I'm way too modest to wear something like" to which all of her friends- whom she had prayed with, walked through engagements and marriages with, had pledged to raise up chaste children with- stood in protest. "Noooooo, you are so hot!", "If I had YOUR body..." She just rolled her eyes, threw the shirt back on the "Ain't nobody got time for that" rack and changed the subject.
No one wants to be the wet blanket and kill the Girls Night Out Buzz (except for me, apparently. don't invite me to fun things, your other friends will hate you. I'll probably bring up how the sushi you ordered isn't sustainable, or how slave children mined for your engagement ring diamond. no like, YOURS specifically) so she kept her thoughts to herself, but what she couldn't help but think "What if you DID have my body? Then what? You'd show it off?" Her friends, who know and love Jesus, momentarily let their guard down and mistook modesty for self-hate.
See, we've tricked ourselves into thinking that the calling to not bring attention to our bodies (1 Thess 4:6) brings devastation on our beauty. We've flipped "modesty" on it's head and rather than using it to honor ourselves, we've assigned meekness and unworth to it. We have even over-corrected the attitude of "girls, dress yourselves not like hoes to protect our defenseless men" (wrong) to "men, don't be dawgs, ladies be dressin like hoes if we want, quit yo starin!" (still wrong) instead of embracing the empowerment of handling our beauty in a Godly manner, which produces a righteous shame.
And it's hard to do so, REALLY! I've got bewbs for days. Like, if breasts were a trade-able commodity, I could run a co-op out of my shirt. And according to society, this is what er'ybody wants (men and women) and I need not be ashamed of my "curvy" goods but WORK. IT. OUT. But ladies, in the world of deep v tees, shorts that require underwear that is thinner than most of my favorite pasta types so they don't hang out, and skirts that my toddlers could wear as a headband, we've just got to say no. Let's remember that the Kingdom's riches are far more satisfying than any sideways, stolen gawks- wanted or otherwise. To be "shameful" as Jeremiah pointed out (Jer 6:13-15) is to still have the ability to blush at sinful behavior. To be able to recognize and weep for sin, and that is BEAUTIFUL!

(I'm currently working on a series in my head, "Modesty Matters". If you'd like to pray for my heart as I write this, I would greatly appreciate it.
Be back soon with lots of info about more changes in the Burke home)

Thursday, October 10, 2013

"Don't Stand So Close To Me"

I recently asked a young lady to please respect me, my girls, and my husband by wearing more conservative clothes when she is around us. Her response- "He's happily married, isn't he?"
I was floored. All she was saying is if that he wasn't happily married, she was there to give him something to at least look at.

Last Sunday, only a few minutes after getting home from church Eamon's phone rang.
This is a pretty normal occurrence after church since we moved back. Meet new people, hand out our numbers, badda bing, badda boom, friends.
Eamon answered, but whoever it was hung up. He called them right back saying "this is Eamon, sorry I missed your call, give me a call whenever you're free."
Shortly after that he received a text that read
"how old r u? can we b friends?

My red flag went up, but still assuming that it may be one of the kiddos we were talking to after church, Eamon responded. A young woman on the other end of the line proceeded to tell him that she was someone who he knew from high school. Eamon and I didn't remember anyone at church with her name (which was probably, hopefully fake) that he went to high school and responded by telling her he doesn't carry on any type of relationship with women in private, but if she is looking for a friend, he would gladly give her my information or introduce her to some great women at our church and gave her our church's info and service times. She responded with "whatever, I lied. I'm 16" and continued to explain that she was looking for someone to hook up with, and that if he wasn't going to, could he point her in the direction of an available male.

Immediately, I was enraged, then disgusted, then worried for this young lady's safety.
What you are doing, little girl, is very dangerous.
If I were a woman of the world, I would have the right mind to find you and knock some sense into you.
I would find out who your parents are and make sure they do not leave you alone with your phone.
I would tell you that had you reached any other man in our area, that yes, you may have gotten the sex you wanted, but you also may have been kidnapped, beaten, sold...the dangers are numerous.
I would also give you a quick kick in your pants. THAT. IS. MY. HUSBAND. You may not walk up to him, with me or alone, and ask him to meet with you privately, let alone have sex with you. You may not call him, text him, email him, snap chat him, instagram him. None of it. None of these things are appropriate. And if you are sitting there in your room typing random numbers until you find someone, know that you may reach someone else's husband. And though your luck to find a sexual partner may be better, your chances of finding a woman with less restraint is also higher.

Mothers, wives. THIS. IS. REAL.
I've heard of this happening before, but it is all too real.
Yes, your teens and tweens are posting scandalous pictures of themselves on the internet. Yes, they are even tagging their location so anyone can find them. Some of them have a tiny bit of sense and make their various social media accounts private, but in instances like these, they are just looking for a stranger. To validate their sexual desire because they feel this is the only way to create self worth.

When I was 16/17 my husband and I were "forbade" to be dating because I got in some serious, serious trouble. During this time I got a text from a random website asking me if I wanted to know what "hot single guys" in my neighborhood were up to. I'm an intelligent girl. I was a virgin until I got married. I sent "yes" as my response. Months went by and nothing came of it. Eamon and I were released from my parental prison and began to see each other again. And one night, while I was watching tv, I got the text. A man, who I don't know, asked me for a sexual favor and to meet him soon if I'd be willing to "help him out." I was very scared, and very confused. I responded by telling him that I didn't know who he was and to never contact me again and he said "Why would you have signed up for 'such and such' service if *this* isn't what you wanted?" And I cried and cried, not realizing what I got myself into. The next day I confessed to Eamon what I did and he unsubscribed from the service for me.

This young lady (older than my own mother was when she had me) knew what she was doing, however, as most young girls these days. She knew she wanted sex. She knew that she wasn't having any luck at school. And she was alone. I don't know if her mother knows she feels this way, but the awkwardness of having the sex talk is incomparable to the pain she would feel if her daughter were raped, or physically abused because of these actions.

I don't know if young women have always been like this, or if it is just getting worse day by day, but I do know that I'm holding on to my girls' innocence, not naivety until they are able to handle it with a Christ filled heart on their own.

Prov 31:30 "Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised."

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Jesus In My Bed

Two weeks after Eamon and I got married we had "family dinner" at our apartment with about a dozen of our friends. It was great to have our new friends in our new place soak up the awesomeness of our perfect new love over for a meal.
Then a funny thing happened. A few of my girlfriends came into our room and plopped down onto my our bed in the traditional "SO. Tell us AAAAAALLLL about it" manner. I could feel the eyes pop out of my head, they were nearly dangling out of my sockets.
"PLEASE DON'T SIT ON OUR BED!" I vomited up to very surprised stares.
"I mean you can sit anywhere else" I said gesturing around the room with only a vanity and....nothing else "just not there. That's just...ours. You know?"

Now, if I had been more practical about this whole bed thing, I could have pushed them off of my bed in a far more humorous manner "So, out of the last 14 days, we've spent 10 of them in that bed and don't own a washer and dryer, AYO!" But no, I took the creepy, "sacred marriage bed" stance. It is possible this is why I have such a hard time making friends...

This morning I was cuddling with this hunk of adorableness and reflecting on the role our bed has had in our family. Even though the mattress has changed a few times, Eamon and I became husband in wife in our bed, we made life changing decisions in our bed. While there have been many a shout of praise (went there) there have been soul ripping pleas for grace and direction from our bed. We have made and grew three beautiful baby girls in our bed, and welcomed two of them at the foot of it. We have wept silently over loss in our bed. We have tossed and turned in worry and anticipation, only to thank the Lord for provision the next night in our bed. We have fought in our bed, made up in our bed. And there are times we've been so worn out, that all we can do is lay in our bed, and let Jesus meet us there.

My pastor reminds us almost weekly that we shouldn't have to go back 15 years to tell our testimony. Maybe the story of how we came to Jesus, yes, but our testimony should be alive- What is Jesus doing in your life RIGHT. NOW. Sometimes I feel like we, as Christians, treat our testimonies like I treated my bed in those first weeks of marriage. We like to talk about the beautiful ceremony that was the wedding, but we are full of pride thinking that there is something sacred, unshareable (awesome word I just made up, you're welcome), too good to talk about, or maybe even too shameful to speak of.

This morning, as the sun was coming up over the building in front of us, and Phoebe was scooting around in all her chubby glory, I saw Jesus in my bed. Saw Him there smiling as we welcomed Lily & Norah, saw His broken heart the nights Eamon and I went to bed angry, saw His patience as we were begging for the many answers that He had already given us; and I prayed that just as we've multiplied our family, our love, in our bed through our trials and joy, that we would grow Jesus' disciples through our testimony in our home and out in the world.

Happy Tuesday, Y'all


Thursday, August 29, 2013


If you've never seen fog roll in over the Gulf, you are missing out on something special.
Millions of tiny bubbles of water collect to cover whatever they feel needs to be hidden, clouding the air above. Usually a storm has just passed and the fog is there to stay. Sometimes it's so thick, if you stand in it long enough, you can feel it move, like rain with no agreed upon direction.

This is where I am now. This dense fog.
It isn't eerie or frightening, but thick and uncertain. A beautiful thunderstorm has passed through complete with electric lightening and trembling thunder, but the ground is taken in what the rain had to offer and the fog has decided to come for a while.

It's hard for me to keep my mind clear as of late.
Where do I take my business, how do I make new friends, when will I feel at peace in my new post baby skin, do the girls need more structure, where do the lines of self awareness and self obsession meet and how do I keep from teetering on it... The thoughts ramble on and on. My heart is simply overflowing with business that refuses to cease. I think back to when I was fasting before Phoebe was born and am envious of my prayer life and concentration. I consider daily deactivating my facebook account because of the unwanted hours I pour into flipping through the screens of redundancy on my phone, but am wary of the attention and unwelcome comments it brings. But I also get words of truth, deep, life-giving truth that seem to balance out the rot.

So what do you do? How do you create a quiet space for your mind that enables the fog to clear focus on what matters? I know that in actual fog, a hot sun and a fierce wind can make it vanish before your eyes.

Lord, let your Son bring his heat, and support my discipline as a fierce wind

12 We don't yet see things clearly. We're squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We'll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!
(the message "boo, hiss, let's all throw things")

1 Corinthians 13:12

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Home Is Wherever I'm With You

I was curled up with Eamon, a bit of his breath still warm in my lungs, his heart loudly beating in my ear on his chest. Phoebe was softly snoring in her nest under the window, the moonlight competing with building lamps for her attention. Sleep I desperatly needed came quickly. It was there, as my body relaxed and my eyelids dropped, I finally felt at home.

For weeks I've encouraged the notion that I am above my surroundings. But with a humbled heart, I've found myself alive in our new abode. The downsizing left us with only the most functional and beautiful of what we owned. The people that dwell in it are my most prized posessions. The words spoken here are life giving when we deny ourselves. Simplicity and Grace have been my two biggest motivators as a mother and wife. They also bring awareness to the ongoing changes of our little temporary home, and I am glad of it.

What God is doing here is important. Being present is imparitive, and I know that I am lacking there, but when Eamon shows me a deeper understanding of Christ's love, or when my heart is softened for a disobedient daughter, I am reminded once again to pay attention.

We are home again. Thank you, Father, you are faithful, indeed.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Systemic Mastocytosis

Many of my friends and regular readers know about the... trouble, for lack of a better word... We've had with Norah since she was about three months old.

She broke out in a rash that was at the time blamed on post partum hormones that were just out of control bc of my PPD.
After getting on an herbal supplement routine with little change, we started on a many month long ellimination diet trying to pin point what could be causing my baby's face to be oozing and bloody.
After about three months I stayed away from eggs, dairy and gluten.
There was a lit of improvement, but anytime I cheated on my diet or ate something unknowingly that even had trace amounts of one of these ingredients, Norah would be scratching for days.
We introduced foods at this time and over the next few weeks more and more things made her react. Red meat, soy, probiotics, chicken broth, EVEN BANANAS sent her body spiraling into a hive induced shock.
At this time I took her to a specialist who tested her for specific allergies and from that point on Norah and I both stayed away from those foods internally and externally.
I lost a ton of weight and Norah was doing night and day better. Unless there was a cross contamination issue, there were no hives. She habitually scratched (...well, sometimes) and that seemed to be a mental issue to me as I had been doing everything I knew to. And then some.

In that time I've been looked at sideways at birthday parties.
I've been asked repeatedly "Have you tried XYZ? It's really the only thing that works"
Norah's been given the "Poor BABY" pout and rub on the back... Or legs or arms or any visible roughed up skin more times than I can count.
Most people haven't even seen Norah in a full blown flare up in over a year, and yet, one woman even had the nerve to tell me "You always complain about her skin, but it doesn't seem like you do anything for her."

Meanwhile, I've gaurded everything she's touched, every bite she's eaten. I've stayed up endless nights holding down her hands as she fought me to scratch.
I've blamed myself for not following certain diets to the T like my peers preasured me to, knowing it would harm her.
I've cried with Eamon all night long wondering how we could be such shitty parents... Consider giving up our baby because of "food allergies"... How worthless could we be?
I had come to accept "This is our life, it won't get any better than this."

When we made the move this summer, her symptoms got worse.
Hives were constantly popping up especially if she got hot. It was also Partially because our friends and family were still learning about her allergies.
Her thighs and calves started to break open and bleed like her face used to. Going to the beach was a miracle cure, but only for a day or two. Certain foods started to make her throw up. And she began telling us that her legs "reawy reawy hurt, but not itchy".

Seeing Norah like this really worried our family and friends who haven't lived with Norah the past few years.
The questions and comments (all in love) made me dizzy with frustration. THIS IS HOW IT IS... This is Norah's itchy little life, just let it be, there's nothing more I can do.

One evening, I got the energy to research a condition one of Norah's doctors mentioned in passing.


I read all night long. Straight through when the sun came up. I was exhausted. My milk supply dropped, but this was my answer. I felt immediate confirmation from the Holy Spirit.

I began looking for doctors who.knew something about this rare, uncurable genetic mutation with only a few options. there was a doctor studying the condition at MD Anderson Cancer Research Center. After talking with him, I found out that he is only studying it as it pertains to adult lukemia patients and that he couldn't help us. But he was quick to reffer us to the pediatric wing of the National Instatute of Health in Maryland. The NAIAID is sponsering a case study specifically to gain knowledge about pediatric systemic (more severe than just confined to the skin) mastocytosis.

I had a long talk with the doctor running the study this afternoon. She thinks we are good candidates for the study and she'll be sending the paperwork to get us started on Monday.

Dear Jesus, THANK YOU, FATHER for answers. I am not weak, I am not incapable, there really is something wrong with my baby girl, Norah Jean. After the small shock of "My heart... My baby is sick... She has a rare, uncurable disease" I thanked Him for the answers. Finally, we are on our way to healing our sweet girl.

Within the next month or two we will take her to see the doctors in Maryland for hee initial tests. Their pediatrics wing is one of the best in the world, and her doctor seems compassionate and invested. She was affirming, kind, and informative.

It seems very... Surreal. Dramatic. Even dream-like to be where we are right now. But I think I'm ready.
Your prayers for our family as we start this adventure are appreciated. I believe we will find relief for Norah and I hope that in some way we can help other babies who may be suffering like she was/is.

Systemic Mastocytosis.
Systemic Mastocytosis.
Systemic Mastocytosis.

And mamas, be affirmed that God gave your baby to YOU. Never doubt that.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Audience of One

A funny thing happened to me last year- I lost my voice.

Not from illness or injury, I guess mostly from lack of use, but suddenly the voice that I'd won competitions with, serenaded my hubby with, led worship with... Was gone.

I remember opening my mouth at our new church and the noises I wanted to make were not the noises that came out of my mouth. I was a little devistated.
I came home and tried singing along to the radio only to find the same story. My vocal chords strained finding new limitations in their range. I was unbelievably embarassed even though I was alone in my kitchen with Lily & Norah paying no attention.

Tonight we took the girls to Padre Island to escape the heat and the trappings of the little apartment (Norah can't go outside because she breaks out in hives once it's over about 90° which happens around 9 am ). I took some pictures, played in the sand, stripped Phoebe down, played in the water with everyone and watched the sun set behind the dunes.

Twilight set in, Lily & Norah continued to play with Eamon along the shore and a lightening storm danced across the sky to the north. I rinsed Phoebe off, swaddled her in a towel, popped up my beach chair and began nursing her as I soaked it all in.
In front of me, over the water, behind my family, the sky started turning the deep blue/black that it gets when fall is around the corner. The moon was vibrant and by the time the first stars started to wake, I began to praise Him. The funny thing about singing at the beach is that you usually feel like the waves are trying to compete with you, drown you out with their crashing and bubbling. The wind will carry your song far as if it's hiding it away.
But tonight, my Lord wanted to hear my broken voice. He hid my missed notes and cracked pitches from eavesdroppers by the waves and lifted up my song to His ears on the wind. I didn't realize that in the midst of moving, and business planning, and teaching, and cleaning that I hadn't spent sufficient time praising Him, let alone with wild abandon! Hadn't my voice been lost by the lack of using it?! My Love wanted to remind me of how He created me to worship Him. Salt air in my lungs, baby at my breast, sand in my toes. It was such a tender gift that was intended to serve as a reminder that I am created for Him.
My reigning audience of One.

(more on our new tiny apartment and homeschooling to come soon!)

Thursday, July 25, 2013


Some days it's easier to dig into the Word than others. Some days I can't get through a chapter without it ripping me to shreds. Today was one of those days.

During the girls nap I sat down with Eamon's bible. Lily & Norah had been fighting all morning, I'd been on the phone taking care of various business matters, impatiently waiting to hear back from a leasing department about an apartment... It had been a rough one. I chose joy ever minute of the day, but it was exhausting.

Eamon had mentioned (while I was glued to my mom's tv, waiting for the Prince & Dutchess to show off the new babe) that the royal fam was conaidering one of "his" boy names, "James". (oh no they di'ent) so I flipped over to James to see what the Lord inspired this Saint to write.

" 2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 Let endurance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God,who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
9 Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position.10 But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wild flower. 11 For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business.
12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him."

Line by line, a painful blow that broke through to some long sought after clarity. I've read James... I don't know how many times, but today my heart felt something new.
My stubborness and unwillingness to take joy in our circumatances finally stung. I reflected on the dozens of times where friends or family have said "Wow, that's gotta be rough" and my reaction was "rough... ROUGH?!You're freakin kidding me, right? Betrayal by your father leaving you and your family of five, FIVE, living in your MIL'S craft room without a penny to your name, praying that you can get into a 950 sq ft, 2 bedroom appartment in government housing when you had a cute house with a yard and happy little life... Yeah. ROUGH's the word. Bitch." I didn't ever actually call anyone a bitch... I just felt like that should be there...
^That, my friends, is the response of a heart who has not let Endurance do it's work. Who has yet to see the fruits of Maturity.
"Oh, Lord, forgive that heart. Break it more, rip it away, help me LET. THIS. GO."
And then immediate affirmation of receiving no answers... My doubt. My ever reoccuring, pitiful, unfounded doubt. I thought about the seaweed that washes up at Padre Island. The waves bring it to shore from the depths of the Gulf. Before it is beached, it's tossed from surf, to sand over and over, incapable of controlling which direction it will take. To the shore if the wind is angry enough to blow it there, or back out to sea if the tide decides to reclaim what is her's. The seaweed cares not. It goes as it's surroundings dictate.

I got to verse 9 and remembered my plea to Jesus in the monthals preceeding Phoebe'a birth, begging him to strip me of my wants, my need of THINGS, my love.of my possessions, and then remembered crying at Eamon over the fact that our STUFF was too big and too much for an apartment and too "important" to let go of. I could only hang my head and shake it. My own greed, filling me with ugly pride.

And verse 12... A prayer answered.
I have been fighting bitterness over Phoebe's birth for months. "Why so long, Jesus? Why didn't you show up sooner? Why didn't you "redeem" Norah's birth? Why couldn't I have a normal "third time mom" birth?"
It has become very, very clear to me God has done for me, ever so sweetly, in my births. Lily's- cake. Lily's labor and birth could not have been hard, or fear inducing, if it were, I wouldn't have had the confidence *or endurance* to make it through 8 hours of painful transition with Norah. And now I truly believe that I made it through Phoebe's day long non progression because I knew that it was nothing compared to my pain with Norah and that Jesus WAS there, and she would come. I had two births worth of endurance under my belt to get me through it. Thank you, Jesus, for building that endurance in me, and for the lives of my sweet girls that it produced.

In truth, endurance scares me. It gaurantees that fruitful maturity is being grown, yes, but also that there is even more on the horizon. But in these past few weeks and months of trial, and having a hard time finding where God's promise is in all of this- I will cling to this:
"...that person will receive the crown of Life that the Lord has promised to those who love him."

I love Him, and I will take that crown for me and my house.


Friday, July 19, 2013


I don't know how to write all of this out honestly and put a happy "I'm such a good Christian" spin on it all. So I won't. This is my heart today. It hurts, it's tired, it's impatient.

I prayed from the night we got pregnant with Phoebe that she wouldn't have allergies.
So far she is allergic to dairy, eggs, and gluten.
I prayed almost as long that she would have a less difficult labor than Norah.
No such luck.
We have now been in Rockport for two months instead of one week without a home. Any glimmer of "opportunity" here being long deminished.

Today (and the last few days) I feel that prayer is useless.

I feel like we have just screwed ourselves over by coming here. Like years of damage control are ahead of us.

I feel like my friends who are far away are sick of hearing my sob story and I wish I had a real friend here.

Every house we've found we haven't been able to get bc we don't have money for a deposit.
And those are few and far between because it's summer in a beach town which means that every vacancy is immediately filled.

Lily needs tons more attention.
Norah's skin is out of control. I wish I had somewhere to just keep her safe.
Phoebe is having trouble nursing and pooping.
Eamon's doing all that he can and more to make us some money.

I read Prov 31 again this morning, bc it usually recharges me, but when I came to verse 25
"She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come."
I felt... slapped. The only laughter I have for our situation is that of disbelief.
I have no strength left. I can't say I'm very dignified at this point, either.

I have a horrible attitude for my friends and family asking for prayer.
"Oh...your son got a bug bite... sorry? My kid scratches all day every day of her life. And no. She's not 'used to it' "
"Your baby is having a hard time nursing? Just take him to one of the millions of chiros on your street."
"Had a rough day? Just get one of your dozens of friends to bring you your favorite wine."

What. A. Bitch.

I don't recognize this person. Crying all of the time, paying little attention to her kids, a peice of crap friend. Hopeless.

I am ready to be done with this part of my life, God. I know You're still there. I know You can do this. Please. Just do this.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Tomorrow Will Worry About Itself

Yesterday marked the sixth week that we've been in Rockport.

Some days are worse than others (like today). I'm torn between falling on my knees, thanking the Lord for His protection and storming into town to light my father in law's house on fire, 'less I take my anger out on my God.

The house we were going to move into- wasn't actually an option. When confronted about this, Eamon's dad made it clear we needed to leave his brother's house (where we were staying, which he owns) leaving us & our three girls without a dime to our name (bc we had used all our funds to get down here & then worked on the house for a month sun up to sun down instead of working) and without a home.
Luckily, my family is here too. We have been staying in my old room at my parents house. The Lord gave Eamon a job as soon as we were kicked out which was amazing.

The first day we were here I bought year passes to all of the beaches in the area, so as long as we have gas we can go to the beach whenever we want. Friends & family have helped us feed all these hungry mouths. My mama's been there to let me cry on her shoulder and tell me how she survived her "homeless with three girls" (and she had one more on the way!) period of her life. For a week we were terrified they were going to lose their home too, but we got to watch as God protected them.

Things could be a lot worse, and I mean A LOT worse, but when you've got PPD (third time's a charm, right?!) and you've been through so much in six weeks, things start becoming harder and harder to deal with.

Like when I remember all of the adorable newborn clothes I had for Phoebe but she can't wear them because she already outgrew them and I have them packed away in storage bc I only had one week of clothes packed bc that's how long we were supposed to be staying with family...
Or when I think about all the amazing things I was going to do with her "this time around because now I know everything about newborns" but I can't because everything we own is packed away...
Or when Lily exclaims "I can't wait to sleep in my big girl bed in the new traylor!" because she saw Eamon work every day on it and I have to sit and explain to her (again) that not only did we leave her bed in Hurst bc we couldn't afford a bigger truck to bring it in last minute, but we also won't be moving into that traylor because Grandpa doesn't want us to...
Or when Norah is so overwhelmed... So overwhelmed that all she can do is scratch her legs til they bleed because her little world is turned upside down. First mama has a new baby, then she moves in with her uncle, then she moves in with her grandma...
Or when Lily talks to her imaginary friend Chocky Mocky on the phone and tells him "No, we can't ever see Henry or Ruby Kate or Hazel ever again because Fort Worth is too far away"...
Or when Eamon and I argue  because I'd rather save our money for a deposit on a house instead of my stupid PPD supplements...

Or any of the other thousands of tiny things that make me question what type of man seduces his son & his family away from all they know and love only to throw them on the street.

Not my God.

My God led us here with confidence.
My God has kept us out of the heat.
He has kept all of our bellies full.
He has given my girls clothes to keep them dressed and adorable.
He has washed my sweet Norahs skin with His gentle, salty hands of waves, meeting her at the shorline each time she goes to the beach.

He has reminded me, as I was starring down at my sweet 9 week old babe, to just rest in Him. To allow Him to nourish me, body & soul, exhale and sink deep into His embrace.
Phoebe loves me. I don't ask her to, and she can't verbalize it, but I know she does. She cries out to me when she's hungry or cold, trusts and allows me to take care of her, and then completely surrenders all of her weight into my arms, fulfilled.
Lord, I beg of you, LET ME LOVE YOU LIKE THAT!

Matthew 6:25-34
" 25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worryabout your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Birth Story of Phoebe Christine

I have sat here for a few days with "The Birth Story of Phoebe Christine" written at the top of the screen and a blank page, not knowing where to start. While Lily's story was about peace and God ushering me into a new stage of life, and Norah's story was about letting go of my pride and fear and completely trusting Jesus, Phoebe's story is about the support and love God's given me through my family here in Ft. Worth. Some small, irrational part of me feels that if I write it down, it means that this time here that God's ordained for us is really over, and I just don't want to face that.

But there is so much Love and Joy in Phoebe's story that I can't not share it.

I went into the last trimester of my pregnancy with this baby expecting to go into labor "late" like I had with Lily & Norah. I knew by now that my body takes a while to warm up, but when it is ready, someone better be there to catch my babe. Labor signs started at 39 weeks with the first two, but Phoebe's started at 38 weeks. I assumed that this just meant that I would going through early labor a week longer than before.

But on the evening of the 2nd, a few days before my EDD, I noticed that I had 10 min apart contractions from about 4 pm. They were manageable  nothing I couldn't just breath and sway through, but I let Eamon and my birth team know what was going on as I figured that I'd probably be giving them a call later that evening. I was able to sleep in between contractions that night, but by 4 am, they were about 6 mins apart so I hopped in the bathtub to see if they'd stop. Nope! They kept up, so the calls were made. 

Eamon was more convinced that I was in labor than I was. He duct taped the hose to the water faucet in the kitchen and began filling our birth tub. I was still terrified that once again my birth team would show up and my labor would stop like it did with Norah.

At about 6 am Angela, Ceci (our birth cinematographer), Michelle (our birth photographer) and Katie had quietly arrived. Angela was supposed to be assisted by her student midwife, Lanette. Throughout my pregnancy I had gone back and forth about whether or not she was supposed to be there, finally deciding that I should know by now that the Lord will have whoever is supposed to be there come. It just happens that Lanette was out of town that weekend so she wouldn't be there.

I was cheerful between contractions, able to keep up normal conversation with these women that I love.
I was consistently having bloody show, and couldn't quite tell where the back side of my cervix was, so I requested to be checked. I had started throwing up and was hopeful that this was transition. Angela held me as I threw up into a bowl and pushed back my hair. Her presence and the fact that I was probably in transition kept me cheerful though. I laid down to be checked... 4. I was 4 centimeters. That, is quite a bit away from transition. And I was pretty discouraged.

I crawled into the birth tub struggling internally. Eamon assured me over and over that we WERE going to have a baby that day, and it was okay if we stopped and started, that it's what this baby needed, but I didn't really believe him. Michelle came to my side and tried to encourage me to regain my confidence and joy. I knew she was right, and I knew not to let pride in like it had before, but this was hard.

The girls woke up with the sun shortly after.
Lily was very excited that I was in the tub. Norah kept asking "BABY?!" It was very sweet.

I labored on around my home.
Most contractions brought me to the floor, all I could do was fold completely in half in child's pose and keep a low moan in my breaths.

8, 9, 10, and 11 o'clock ticked by.
My contractions were consistent, but weren't progressing.

I'd been here before. I hated that I was here again.

Angela said that some of the birth team was going to go get lunch.
As I was sitting in my bath tub at 4 am, I thought I'd surely have a baby in my arms by lunch...

Lunch time came and went. Katie entertained the girls while Eamon and I labored in my room.

The team returned and I told Angela that if by 2 I wasn't in transition that the team could leave
Dr. Cindy came and gave me an adjustment to help alleviate some pain and possibly increase the contractions.
Many contractions later, 2 pm arrived and I requested to be checked again.
Four centimeters. No change.
I went into the bathroom and sobbed alone.
Again, my body was "doing this to me."
I got on me knees and begged Jesus to meet me. To bring me my baby. To give me strength and confidence and patience and trust, because I had run out of all of them.
I asked Angela to pray with me and to tell everyone to leave because I couldn't face them.

Everyone left and Eamon put the girls down for a nap. My contractions slowed to ten minutes, then to fifteen and I was able to rest for maybe an hour and a half between contractions.

When I woke up, the girls were in their room, and Eamon was with me in ours.
Something in me knew "my baby needs help".
I needed to help her. My body was trying, but my baby needed some encouragement.
Something switched in me at that point. I went from feeling sorry for myself to having a renewed determination to meet my baby.
I texted Angela saying that my contractions hadn't stopped. I either needed them to stop so I could get some real rest, or I needed to get this show on the road.

I decided that in between contractions I would start nipple stimulation (which, I'm not gonna lie, was super awkward and embarrassing  even though it was just Eamon and me) and then to start a contraction, I would begin pelvic tilts on all fours.
It worked.
My contractions got back down to 6 mins apart very quickly and I called Angela. Anyone else would have given me benadryl and sent me to bed, but at about 4 pm, Angela made her way back into our home to support me in labor. I told her that if I still hadn't progressed that she could go home and we could do whatever possible to try and stop this marathon labor.
While it wasn't much, all that work had done something! I was finally at 6 cms!

Angela gave me a napkin with some Clary Sage on it to help intensify my contractions in addition to what I had already been doing.

The next hour, it was just me and my baby.
Angela rested on the couch in our living room, Eamon couldn't stay awake and had fallen asleep in the bed next to me.
The work was hard.
I prayed between contractions, moaned into my pillow, but finally had hope that I was going to meet my baby.

By five, I felt my contractions start coming right on top of each other and finally felt comfortable inviting the rest of my birth team back.
Michelle had gotten a stomach bug and had to stay home, and was sending our friend Keri in her place.
I wanted Michelle there since she was such a good friend and because she had been at Norah's birth, but I wanted Keri present throughout my pregnancy, but thought it probably wasn't an option. Once again, God had ordained exactly who was supposed to be there to greet our new baby.

Contractions were very painful at this point, and consistent so I figured it was safe to get in the tub without the warm water slowing them down.

I had Eamon turn on some music for me and I got in the zone.
It was beautiful.
The evening sun was shining through our living room windows. Our girls were playing with their Auntie Katie, picking me dandelions. The back doors were open letting in fresh air that I would fill my lungs with before embracing each contraction. Two of my best friends were supporting me, my midwife who never gave up on me sat nearby...This was labor. It was here.

Eamon whispered soft encouraging words to me as I worked. Each wave that came was met with a low moan. I concentrated on keeping the same note throughout the contraction and trying to stay on top of them.
I couldn't see her, but Eamon told me "Ann's here, you can have your baby in twenty minutes now." and I didn't know what he meant, I was in my zone. But a few minutes later I looked up and saw my sweet Ann there. She was present for Lily's birth and was supposed to be at Norah's (but her husband was in the hospital that night with a heart attack) but made it for this birth. Everything was rolling along.
I started feeling really uncomfortable, at this point with Lily and Norah, I got out of the tub, but I really wanted to experience a water birth this time, so I stayed. When I started hearing myself saying things like "I can't do this," and "it just hurts too bad" I knew I was in transition. I could feel a small bubble (still very high up) in front of my baby's head and I knew I was okay with my water being broken, so I asked Angela to check me with the hopes that it would agitate my water bag.
Angela confirmed that I was 8 cms (THANK YOU JESUS!!) and while she checked me my water broke. On it's own or with a little help didn't matter to me, I knew what came next. The contraction that came with it was intense and left me light headed. I thought I was going to pass out, I had never experienced this before. My whole body was tingling and shaking. I thought I needed oxygen, but my midwives kept reassuring me it was because I was getting so MUCH oxygen and to breath into my hands.
The girls came in and were starting to get curious. Norah was checking the tub to see if there was a baby floating in there, and Lily was making sure that I was okay.
I got myself into a very unfamiliar position. Eamon was behind me outside of the tub with his hands supporting my back as I floated up at the top. It was very strange not having anything to brace myself up against. In my head I was encouraging my body to get that "one contraction" that would make me push. I knew that if my body would start pushing, my baby would be here in just a few minutes.

Then, just 3 or 4 contractions after my water broke, I felt it :]
My body started pushing and I was excited.
I yelled to my team "I'm PUSHING!!!!!" and Angela came right over and said "The head is out, Mae!"
Everyone else was still on the other side of the room, but when they heard this they all started running over.
Shortly after she said "There's the body-MAE! Reach down and grab your baby!!!"

It was surreal.
After one push, my baby came into the water where I scooped it up.
It was warm, slippery, and so very, very tiny.
The midwives unwrapped the cord from around our baby's neck as I lay in Eamon's arms in euphoria.
My praises of our faithful Lord rang out in our home as Lily and Norah came to see their new baby.
We excitedly checked to see if our babe was a boy or girl. With her swollen lady parts and cord coming up through her legs, we both momentarily thought she was a boy, but excitedly announced that it was indeed, "Another Girl!!"
Lily was thrilled :]

Our baby came to be one night during a meteor shower, so I knew that I wanted his/her name to reflect that. "Phoebe" means "bright and radiant . Phoebe is also considered the first woman decan in the church. She aided Paul in the early days of church planting. When searching for a middle name, I decided to name her after my friend, Keri, whose middle name is Christine. It means "woman of God." and during my time here in Fort Worth, Keri, the first person I met, has shown me what that looks like. I was thrilled that she and her mama were there to welcome our little lady and told Ann the meaning of her name while we were sitting in our post baby high. There was no blood in the water, all of the women who had taken on the roll of Mother, Sister, and Friend were surrounding us, and my family felt complete, again.

Phoebe Christine Burke
7:04 pm
6lbs 15oz | 19.5 in 

Lily, who has been preparing herself for the "scary placenta" turned to me and said "Okay, mama, now it's time for the plusempta!!" The placenta came just a few minutes later. I always find it very amusing that I cannot actually push, ha, but we got it out eventually. The only blood that was present in the tub came when Angela tipped over the bowl with the placenta and some blood came out of the sack. I think that kept the girls both very calm and made the after birth less traumatic for them.

Eamon cut the cord and wrapped our baby up in a warm towel while I got out of the tub.
We snuggled in our bed as the bathtub was filled up for the herbal tea bath. I couldn't believe how tiny and beautiful she was. I truly believe that my little lady needed help coming down into the birth canal because she was so tiny!

I got into the warm bath while Katie and Keri got a chance to hold and love on her. She was then passed into the tub with me where I cleaned her off and let her sisters get a closer look at her. We crawled back into bed with fresh clothes and my fashionable depends, prayed and gave thanks for the day, did the newborn exam and (after Angela had been there for about 15 hrs) were left on our own... as a family of five.

I didn't sleep much that night, or the following. Sweet Phoebe was ready for my milk to come in and wouldn't let mama rest until it did. But once it did, she has been the sweetest nursing baby in the world.

Angela asked me a few days after the birth how I was "processing" it. All I could say was "Well, it happened!"
We were so blessed not to have any complications during her birth. Nothing... happened.
But both Eamon and I had a sense of... finality with her birth.
Like, for now, our baby baring chapter has come to a close.
And instead of being joyous that it went so perfectly with all of the family that God's given me here, it breaks my heart. God has confirmed in me that family is beyond blood, through the births of my own. My sweet midwives who have supported me spiritually, physically, and emotionally through several births. My friends who have prayed through lean times, depression, and pain, who have cooked and cleaned, who have become my sisters... I don't want to leave them, but they have taught me what type of women that I want my girls to be.

Phoebe, my sweet darling girl, I am so glad you are here. You were welcomed with an outburst of joy and laughter. I can't wait to introduce to the world Our Father has created for us. Your daddy and I love you so very much <3 div="">

Monday, May 13, 2013

A Post All About Southernly Things

Phoebe is ten days old... sigh.

Post partum has been VERY different this time around.
Eamon stayed home for a week while I recovered, and finally understands why I am crazy. I guess he just didn't understand the sincerity of my voice when I said things like "She just doesn't stop talking" or "I really did JUST clean that up" or "She JUST pooped, I swear I'm wiping her butt all day" Nope... Now he knows ;]
I took care of myself differently this time as well.
I got my placenta encapsulated and have been taking them along with my other suppliments. It seems to be helping. On the 4/5 day I was pretty weepy, but we'll get to that in a minute, but other than that, I feel a lot more leveled out than before.
Also, instead of using maxi pads that always leave me itchy, I used cloth pads after I was done needing Depends. I stopped bleeding a LOT quicker this time, so wearing a light, breathable cotton liner is much more sensable.

I've been so grateful for all of the meals that have been provided for us, allowing me to stay off of my feet for a bit. Phoebe's labor was long and slow and took a lot out of me. The first two nights she was here, she REALLY wanted my milk to come in and kept me awake for two straight days. But when it finally came in, she has been a great little sleeper. If it weren't for all of the help we've had...wooo, I'd be a zombie!

There's so much you forget about the newborn stage...
It's all about just the two of you, nursing is so innocent, she tries to figure me out as I get to know her... The snuggles, the poopy smiles, the teeny tiny everything... Ahh, I love it!

With the lack of attention, and waaaaaay too much tv watching, Lily has gone back to pushing every possible limit she can. Allowing some grace through this transition is super difficult, but necessary.

And Norah... well Norah is suddenly a big girl. She's a spit-fire who is ready to take on the world, one half eaten crayon at a time...

And lastly...
Next week I'll be all alone with at least two of the girlies while Eamon is in Rockport... getting our new house ready for us.
We're going back.
After Phoebe was born, my FIL called and offered us an opportunity of a lifetime. Eamon will be able to finally finish his degree, we'll be able to pay off debts, and we'll be with our blood family (even though we are leaving all of our chosen family and friends...)

I'll be back with Phoebe's birth  story before we move, promise ;]


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Phoebe Christine 05-03-2013

My sweet, tiny girl is here <3
Phoebe Christine Burke
05-03-2013 | 6lbs 15oz | 19.5 in long

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Sticks & Spit

When I was at the end of my pregnancy with Lily, we were hit with the news that we would have to move. Immediately. As in, on her due date. It was very traumatic for me, and while other people may have seen it, only one man spoke into that. He walked past me one day as I was worrying and came back around to talk to me about the move. Bob was/is a great, kind man who is married to one of my midwives and knows so much about a woman's heart.
He said "I understand, you already built your nest. You don't have time to put together more sticks and spit to get ready for your baby."

That's the first time that I really understood what "nesting" meant.

This being my third time around, I've refined my nesting ways just a tad-it's more streamlined, if you will.
But, as of yesterday, my nest is built.

I woke up to...ahem...progress... yesterday morning and had contractions through lunch time, but after a nap, everything went back to normal. BUT, it got my booty in gear. Sweet Katie came over and helped me clean my house, I aired up the birth pool (which should have been done anyway...oops) got out all of the clean towels and started preparing my heart.

After an uneventful night and morning, I think it's safe to say that yesterday was just the start of the long, ridiculous process that is "Mae having a baby" but I was thrilled's coming. SOON. Soon I will lift a tiny, warm, squishy baby up out of the water and on to my chest and our little family will expand and be complete-again.

The anticipation of whether or not I'll continue on as a "girl mom" or if I "get" my boy (I have mixed feelings on that sort of attitude) is kind of killing me.
Reminding myself that "THIS IS GOING TO HURT" has to happen. Last time I expected smooth sailing and was hit with reality, but the first time I expected the worst pain of my life.... and it wasn't so bad, haha ;] We'll see what this little babe has in store for me. What I do know for sure is that God will be there.

Norah hasn't slept more than 2 hours at a time for over a week now, and it's wearing us out, but we'll survive.

I'm ready for my new babe to be here. To introduce Norah to big-sisterhood. To walk through the miracle of childbirth with my favorite people. To see Lily light up at the addition of new life.

Any day now... Or week ;]

Saturday, April 20, 2013

When We Were Young, Oh Oh We Did Enough

I'm 38 Weeks pregnant with my third baby.
I can't even believe that.

My dresser is topped with towels, sterile gloves, a boy and a girl onesie, extra sheets... all the signs that a messy, beautiful event will take place in our home in just a few weeks. I am tired, excited, my body feels like it's at full capacity, my heart is wondering how it will expand yet another time... This limbo of the last month in pregnancy is familiar and can be overwhelming if I let it.

My mind races with things like:
Eamon's dealership is doing poorly this month.
Our car only fits two kids, so the option of going out with all three of them isn't there...yet.
What if this baby has allergies... God, what if this baby has allergies...
Or WORSE, what if it has heart problems like so many babies we know.
I'm barely keeping it together with my girls, can I *really* do this with three?!
Another one of my teeth broke apart last week and I've been in pretty terrible pain since, what if it's like this when I'm in labor?
What if Norah gives Baby whooping cough and s/he's hospitalized, or worse...

And then I remember,
The most prosperous, merciful, righteous King I have ever known.
And He has done nothing but use me to glorify His kingdom.
My testimony is that He allows me to slip, fall, and dive into places of deep need, need that no one can help me out of, just to prove what a magnificent rescuer He is. From suicide, to painful births soaked in pride and mistrust, to hungry bellies, HE. SHOWS. UP.

So, with "D Day" approaching, I must remind my brain to not be fooled.
Eamon is not my Provider.
Though He never drove one, God can pull in a vehicle to our driveway at any time.
I am not my children's Healer, but they have a marvelous one who will protect them.
He heals the broken hearted. Every day.
This is my calling, my heart bursts with this when I allow it.
I know to surrender all of my pain to Jesus... a tiny crappy tooth is probably nothing compared 10 cm dialited cervix.
HE IS MY BABIES' HEALER. Protector, savior, lord, LIFE GIVER. My worrying heart will not keep them from that.

So here I will walk, or waddle rather, for the next few weeks and stop preventing Him from soaking my heart with Joy. I will trust our bellies will be full, I will trust my body is slowly progressing to bring our baby out safe, whole, and full of light. I will ready myself to encounter my King again. I love being so close to Him and hate that I fight to go on the journey to His embrace.

Meet me, Jesus.
Meet your daughters who cry out in their confused identities.
Meet your sons struggling for honor.

Happy Weekend,

Friday, April 12, 2013

Norah Jean | Two

My sweet girl turned two at the end of last month.

On one hand, it's been a very long two years.
Two years of scratching.
Two years watching every single thing she comes in contact with.
Two years of puking up the same explanation of what is wrong with her to people who refuse to understand.
Two years of my mothering of her being questioned by strangers and myself.

There were times when she was up past her bedtime, crying and scratching in her crib after she weaned (we made it 18 months!) that I sat wondering if I could actually provide what she needs or if she wouldn't be better off with someone else. My discipline has been completely different than Lily's (or any other baby I know for that matter) because of Norah's condition. I often let my joy as a mother get stolen by judgmental moms, exhaustion, and self obsession (when you drop down to a size four and live in a society that accepts looking at one's self ALL. DAMN. DAY., it's easier to do than you think.)

On the other hand, two years have gone by so fast.
Two years of bonding out of necessity  that I had not known before.
Two years of drawing closer to my Jesus for wisdom and strength.
Two years of preparing a wee babe to walk with a gentle savior.
Two years of watching Grace be poured over someone I love so deeply, I can't begin to elaborate. 

Norah laughs with an intensity that will make you cry with joy.

Because I held her hand down at night to keep her from scratching for the first 14 or so months, so loves to hold hands when she sleeps. She's started doing this with her sister lately and it's the most adorable thing that you've ever seen.

I can't really believe how beautiful she is. She is one of the most gorgeous babies I have ever seen. With her big honey colored eyes and perfect little lips.. I'm in trouble, I just know it ;]

Her sense of humor leaves us in stitches. The other night she was being very kissy kissy with Eamon and he asked her "Are you my little lovebird?" and out of nowhere she got up, and started running around the living room flapping her arms. It would go viral on Youtube. Bet.

She's a deep thinker. She asks lots of questions and loves learning new things. And Lily loves teaching her everything she knows ;]

As the days tick by, drawing closer to my EDD, I savor every second I get of her being my "baby." She loves to lift up my shirt to rub my belly and say "Nuggle me, mama?" and lay next to me while I hold her. While Lily has basically written my birth plan for me, and is excited to welcome our baby and help with the baby, and be the best big sister ever, I worry about Norah from time to time. Whether or not she will allow me to give this baby all the attention I gave her mostly. We keep saying "You will be the only big AND little sister." to make her feel special :]

Lily & Norah both have Pertussis right now (because that's what every nearly due mama wants to deal with) and are snuggled in their bed holding hands, I am grateful for her sweet, soft skin that she's come into the past few weeks. I am grateful for the heart that has been knit so tightly with Lily's and that God honored that for me. I am grateful for the...laborious event that was her birth that set me up to know to trust Jesus with her.

Happy (belated) birthday baby girl. We love you <3 br="">Mama