Lillie’s Birth Story:A Look Back a Year Later

I love birth stories. Every birth story is different. Some are harder, others may be more intense and exciting, some might even contain a lot of heart ache, but each is fascinating and unique. The miracle of birth still blows my mind and giving birth to Gracie and Lillie are the two favorite (though somewhat painful) days of my life. A year has passed and Lillian is now one! So to remember her birth and revisit that special night, I’d thought I’d share her birth story post with you again. I posted this a little less than a year ago, spread throughout a couple posts. Here it is all in place, cleaned up a little for your reading enjoyment. Now pardon me while I go read through it and reminisce for a bit again.

Baby’s due date was February 1st. Gracie’s 2nd birthday was February 1st. I thought I would play it safe and have Gracie’s birthday the Saturday before she officially turned two. So January 25th it was. I was up in the morning making cupcakes. And not just any old cupcakes mind you, ballerina cupcakes. Because when you asked one certain toddler what she was having for her birthday, the answer would be “rina cake” (translation: ballerina cupcakes). She had also requested tea and pancakes. So this mommy was diligently working away to make something that resembled the torso of 20 little ballerinas out of pink wafers with frosting tutus. In turn, Dustin was diligently working away to rip up the linoleum in the kitchen to add in wood laminate flooring. Needless to say the kitchen was a mess. Picture cupcake supplies spread out across the counter, linoleum half torn up, kitchen table and chairs moved to living room, and one toddler begging for cupcake scraps at your feet.

10:00 am. Cupcakes finished and our friend, Drew, had arrived to help Dustin with the floor. Now my job was to keep Gracie busy. We pulled out Gracie’s tool set and she began to “work” as well. Sometime in the next hour or so I noticed mild contractions. I briefly considered that it could be the start of something, but brushed it off at first. Then I noticed a few more, still irregular though. I then thought that just maybe this was the start of something, but doubted that it would progress very quickly.

Fast forward to around 3:00 in the afternoon. Contractions are now more noticeable and regular, but I still figured it could be awhile as my contractions have not seemed to be by the book type contractions. With Gracie my contractions started out at about every five minutes, but were very mild for awhile and lasted all through the night in a noticeable, but manageable way. I finished getting ready for the party. Dustin and Drew worked to finish the floor.

4:30 PM. I headed over to Mimi and Pap Steiner’s (aka Grandma and Grandpa Steiner, so christened Mimi and Pap by Gracie) for the party. Dustin and Drew stayed behind in hopes of quickly finishing up the floor. Both sides of the family were due to arrive around 5:00. Did I mention contractions to anyone? No. I was focused on getting this party completed and didn’t want a fuss over something that could still be awhile in the making.

5:30 PM. Everyone had arrived. Dustin and Drew were there after just about finishing the floor. They needed a few finishing pieces and then could move everything back into the kitchen. I was manning the pancakes and sausage and Gracie’s 2nd birthday party was well under way. And the tea that she asked for…well she decided she wanted juice instead.

6:30 PM. A ballerina cupcake was finally given to the ballerina birthday girl (she had been asking for one ALL day). Candles were blown out to the tune of Happy Birthday and sugary icing was thoroughly enjoyed. Presents were unwrapped and through it all the contractions continued. A little more noticeable, and a little more regular.

7:30 PM. One tired and starting to get cranky ballerina was taken home. Stories were read, milk was drank, and songs were sang.

8:15 PM. Contractions were getting stronger. We called Dustin’s mom to fill her in and have her on standby to come stay with Gracie if we needed to leave during the night. We told her it was just a precautionary call and it still may be awhile.

9:00PM. That precautionary call turned out to be not so precautionary. Contractions continued to have stronger peaks and were getting closer together, about every two minutes or so. They still felt manageable, but were getting increasingly more painful with stronger peaks. I also started to feel a little shaky and figured it was about time to go the hospital. I did feel a little stressed about the decision to head in. Was it too early? Would we be there awhile? And for some reason I didn’t like the idea of having to head in through the emergency room since it was after hours. But we made the call to Dustin’s mom and she headed over to stay with Gracie.

9:30 PM. We headed into the hospital and I called my parents to let them know we were going in . This started a sequence of calls
and texts from my mom wondering how things were going and when they should come in. We got admitted through the ER and headed up to the maternity wing. They strapped on the fetal monitors and started asking me a whole slew of questions that at times weren’t particularly fun to answer through contractions.
One of the things that Dustin and I had in our birth plan was intermittent fetal monitoring and freedom to move around and try different positioning. With Gracie, whenever they had me lay in bed and strapped on the monitors, I became more uncomfortable. I kept hoping they would soon take off the monitor and Dustin asked for me, but baby was on the move and they were having trouble getting a good reading. They also said that they were seeing some decelerations in baby’s heart rate and needed to get the ok from the doctor to take off. *sigh* But they did finally let me move to an exercise ball by the bed which was a little more comfortable.

10:45 PM This was right before I moved to the exercise ball. They had finally checked me after determining that my water had not broken yet. I was 4 cm and 80% effaced. I was a little disappointed, thinking that I would be farther along as contractions were getting pretty intense. Dustin and I looked at the clock, thinking the chances were slim that baby would arrive before midnight. I made the move to the exercise ball and felt a little better. After about 20 minutes or so (I’m a little hazy on the whole time thing) I felt baby give what felt like a mini karate chop followed by a gush of fluid. Yep. My water broke. That was a new experience since with Gracie my water never broke. The nurse’s rushed to get me back into bed on my back…again…*sigh*

11:15ish Dustin asked them if they could get the tub ready and going for the water birth that we wanted. Those things take awhile to fill up! They started filling the tub and called the doctor. It was literally only a matter of minutes after getting into the bed that I started feeling the urge to push. The nurse checked and I was almost completely dilated. The urge to push was getting pretty intense and I asked if I could push. One nurse answered no immediately (since the doctor wasn’t there yet), while the other told me to try to breath through the contractions and if I still needed to push to let my body do what it needed. Thank goodness for her! I was breathing so hard that I started to feel light headed and overheated. I squeezed Dustin’s hand tightly through each intense contraction and the pressure to push. At this point they had stopped attempting to get the tub filled, because this baby was coming sooner rather than later! Dustin asked if I was ok to push in the position I was in, and at that point I didn’t really feel like moving. I really wasn’t actively trying to push at first, just breath like the nurse had instructed, but I could feel my body getting ready to push out baby and the head was starting to make an appearance. I think I really only went through around five really intense contractions where I felt the jarring pain and pressure of really needing to push. All it took was about one to two big pushes and baby made a grand entrance, delivered by the nurse before the doctor was able to get there!

At 11:34 PM on January 25th,  we got to meet our beautiful baby girl, Lillian Mae. We had decided not to find out gender and I was expecting that she would be a boy. I was surprised when Dustin told me we had another girl, and a girl with a full head of dark hair at that! They laid her on my chest and she just stared up at me with these big, beautiful eyes, alert and perfect in every way.

First picture taken shortly after she was born. Alert and enjoying some time with mommy.

A few minutes later the doctor arrived. He waited for the cord to stop pulsing and then Dustin was able to cut the cord. A few stitches were needed and through it all baby girl stayed with me on my chest. I was able to nurse her for about an hour and then when my parents got there I let the nurse’s take her to get weighed and measured. Lillian weighed in at 6 lbs 10 oz and 20 inches long.

We actually did not decide for sure on her name until the next morning, as I had last minute thrown another girl name into the mix. By morning I had decided that she was our Lillian. So far our Lillian has proved to be a bit calmer than her older sister (though we wouldn’t have Gracie any other way!) She doesn’t seem to get upset too often and most of the time can be calmed down quickly. She also has already slept longer stretches than Gracie ever did at this point, (thanks for listening to my letter baby girl!) She’s a good snuggler and already showing her strength by lifting her head up high and turning it from side to side. She makes the best faces and is always entertaining us with her little grunts and sighs. She is loved by us all and now makes us a family of four.

Birth: Amazing, right? This tiny little thing is seeming all grown up now. Walking, jabbering, and eating pasta like it’s her job. Though we thought we might have a calmer little sis, she’s proving to have a whole lotta spunk in her and makes herself quite known! Quiet or loud, we love her either way and are so blessed to have our Lillian Mae. 


Hi, My Name is Gracie’s Mom & I’m a Child of God

“Hi, Gracie’s Mom”. I’m greeted by a little three year old in church nursery. To her, that’s who I am, Gracie’s Mom. I may have tried to tell her my name once or twice, but the whole, “Gracie’s Mom” thing was just easier to remember, and frankly, I kind of love it. I LOVE having, MOM, as my job description. 

I LOVE being identified as the caretaker of two precious, little human beings. I LOVE finding purpose in caring for them, raising them, teaching them, and guiding them alongside my husband towards the Lord as best we know how. I LOVE being a mom. Now, don’t get me wrong, some days are just plain hard. There are days when I want to scream/cry/rant/throw something and then go eat a bunch of chocolate. Can I get an Amen!? But when I look back at all the little joys and add them up, my heart feels very full. When I remember that this season of life won’t last forever, I quickly try to grasp every little moment and take a million too many photos. I find great joy in my identity as a mother. But it also makes me think. It makes me think that while this season of life as a mother to littles is wonderful and fulfilling, I need to make sure I don’t rely on mothering to be my sole identity or my ultimate fulfillment. 

Honestly, this can be hard for me. Being a mom is something I’ve always wanted. I find myself at this pinnacle of my identity where I feel comfortable and confident in my purpose. Of knowing that I’m the best person for the job because I was made to be their mama. And partly, this is a good thing. Raising children (whether biological, adopted, fostered or other circumstances) in the Lord’s love is so worthy and should be valued and enjoyed, but when I find my whole identity getting wrapped up in it, that’s when I need to take a step back. A step back to realize that while my identity as “Gracie’s Mom” is an identity that I love and one that I believe the Lord desires for me, my main identity should read “God’s Child”. 

First and foremost I should strive to remember I am a child of God. My worth is not found in earthly gain, but in Him. What if we all really, truly went about our days with the remembrance that we are God’s children. Would placing our identity in Him make the day look a little different? Would the choices we make reflect more of our Father? Would we have more confidence to do the right thing, make the hard choices, share love and be genuine, knowing that we have one pretty powerful and awesome Dad that is always right beside us, holding our hand, cheering us on, and working for good alongside us? Doesn’t that all make everything seem better and throw a little holy and eternal perspective at you? 

Whatever role you have in this current season of your life, I encourage you to remember that you are a child of God through all seasons. It is a part of your identity that you can’t lose, because you are His and He has laid claim to you. So not only am I “Gracie’s Mom”, but I’m a child of God. 

It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone.
Ephesians 1:11-12 The Message

Also, how are these girls that made me a mama going to be one and three in a few weeks!? Wanting the time to slow down, but loving the blessings that come as they continue to grow.


Let’s Keep it Simple:A Simple Mash Up Saturday

One of my words for 2015 is Simple. Ahh. Just saying “simple” makes me imagine myself sitting comfortably, feet kicked up in a not overcrowded, toy-exploding living room, sipping tea and reading a book. Yeah…so that’s not what simple has looked like thus far. I can tell you though, that I have started simplifying in a lot of areas already. Simplified cleaning, beauty, baking, health, learning…say what!? So to end this first full week of 2015, I’m going to let you in on some simple changes this simple gifts girls has been making. I’ll also be pinning simple things to a Pinterest board so you can follow along and get some simple ideas for yourself. 

So let’s start out with some simple baking. I really do care about what I’m putting in my kid’s bodies, but when store-bought granola bars are what my almost three year old begs for + the organic stuff is $$$$ + the stuff I make never turns out so tasty, you get not so clean eating store granola bars. But I’ve been feeling the urge to eat more clean, to cut out more of the processed food and get back to simple, whole foods and ingredients. And guys, I think I’ve done it! I’ve found a granola bar recipe with minimal ingredients that is oh so tasty. My daughter loves these and I feel a little better about her having a snack that I know what all the ingredients are. And please don’t think I’m trying to make anyone feel guilty over getting store-bought granola bars! You gotta do what works best in the season of life you are in and for your family. I promise though, these granola bars are pretty fool proof, aka, Moriah proof, and cut out all the #momguilt. I found the original recipe here at Live Simply. Her sight has amazing ideas for simple living, check it out! I didn’t have any flax seed, but they still turned out wonderfully. I may be sneaking ten, a few, during the day. 
I started using Young Living Essential Oils in September, and WOW. Having these oils on hand makes staying healthy, cleaning, beautifying and more really simple! These oils are the life blood of plants and using these helps us get back to simple, pure ingredients to keep our bodies in balance. Ingredients that the Lord has naturally and wonderfully given us access to to keep our bodies healthy! Instead of using the toxic cleaning chemicals I have used in the past, I’m switching it up. I’ve been using the same essential oils to clean fruit, AND clean my floors and counters! Simple, right? I’ve had a hay day with looking up all the DIY products you can make with simple household ingredients and essential oils. I personally would recommend Young Living because they are 100% pure (if you’re curious check out These oils (Young Living only!) are safe to ingest, so I’ve even been using them in my water daily as a healthy, SIMPLE, immune boost each day. Lemon and grapefruit in my water=yummy and healthy. I use them on the girls daily and feel good about working to keep them healthy and knowing what is going on their bodies. I’ve used them  in lotions, hair care, makeup, deodorant, and scrubs just to name a few things. I could go on and on, but don’t worry, I’ll just keep pinning tons of things to the Pinterest board. Side note-if you do have any interest in learning more about essential oils or trying some for yourself, you can e-mail me at Ok long-winded oil excitement-filled paragraph ended…but seriously, they’re awesome!
Simple learning? I’m always looking for ways to keep my girls busy during the cooped up winter months, and activities that incorporate learning are a definite plus. Gracie has known how to count for a long time, but she’s had some trouble with number recognition. When we try to work on number recognition she gets bored easily and does a really good job of pushing all my buttons and trying as little as possible. If we every homeschool it will be a lesson in extreme patience for us both! Somewhere amongst my Pinterest scouring, I found a number activity that I knew she would enjoy. It involved jumping off the couch…nuff said. Sadly, I’m not sure of the original source, but I can tell you that all we did was write numbers on paper plates, and scatter them on the floor next to the couch. I would tell her what number to jump on, and low and behold, the girl actually knows a lot of her numbers when she tries! *sigh and grit teeth* patience is a virtue. She actually wanted to play the game twice! Also enjoy the getup pictured below of Gracie wearing my old tap dance leotard and some awesome biking shorts. We don’t go out much.
So there’s a little roundup of my first few days of 2015 and how I’m keeping it simple this year. The move to Africa in the spring is also forcing us to drastically simplify our possessions, but in a good way. We have too much stuff and when we let go of things that are just sitting around gathering dust, it feels less burdensome! So how about you? Anyone else feeling the need to keep it simple?

Words for 2015


Live Simply. Simplify heart and home. Clear the clutter. I’ve realized that when you start simplfying, there is a peace that comes with it. Giving away or throwing out all the stuff you never even use and has just been sitting around for years feels pretty good. Putting down the phone, shutting off the TV, unplugging for a bit allows more time to connect. When you take away all the unneeded distractions, it allows you the time to focus on things that are truly important to you. 


To give thanks. Finding the daily gifts that are all around me. Seeing that He is behind these daily gifts. Give Him back the thanks. Find joy in every day moments. 


Saying yes. Being willing to step outside my comfort zone. To help where I know it’s needed. To not hold back helping because of my own hang ups. To learn that by serving others, I can point back to Him.

Happy New Year to everyone! 2014 has brought so much goodness and joy. Some changes are now on the horizon for this new year. 2015, I think you’re going to be a good one.