Babies piling up

Yes, I am indeed pregnant again! And it feels like it was just yesterday that I was going through this with now baby Charlotte.... because, well, it practically was.

To answer some possible burning questions:

Planned? You betcha!
Due? May 12th
Are you crazy? That is up for interpretation.
How far apart will these babies be? According to my calculations... 13 months and 2 weeks.
Why?  a) I feel so inspired b) Babies rock c) We want a large family (so no, its not so I can just be done) d) Charlotte needs to experience some attention sharing e) Who wouldn't want a sibling a year apart from them?

My reasons are many and the extent of them a bit more personal than I wish to share publicly.

I have been sick again but milder this time thanks to the help of a wonderful friend called zofran and the grace of God. My belly has expanded at a much faster rate this time around, which is joyous because I have been reintroduced to the ever comfortable maxi skirts and maternity jeans.  I think being pregnant with a baby is possibly far easier than pregnancy with a toddler (i.e. 2-3 naps a day).

A few people have praised me for my bravery but I have to set the record straight. I was a little bit terrified of being pregnant again and the thought of having 2 babies at those ages is still intimidating but I have an unbelievably unique husband who is quite marvelous with newborns and is calm in... every situation where you may not think peace can be found. Unaffected by the wails of a baby, he has made this decision so much easier for me than I ever thought it would be. For that, I will be forever grateful for him.

Let the fun begin!!


The ongoing modesty debate...

I must admit, a lot of these arguments about modesty have made me uncomfortable, because I haven't been able to completely agree with any one argument.  So I decided to take a step back and look at what modesty means to me and how I can raise a family that upholds values of modesty.  I turned to the sources I trust the most: Scriptures, "For the Strength of Youth", plus a couple of talks from prophets or apostles.  The most common argument lately has been spreading like wildfire through your internet browsers, so it won't be news to you.  "Men have the ability to see these images or these 'scantily clad' women and control their thoughts.  Wear whatever you want!  You aren't walking pornography.  Men can't blame you for anything."  I agree with certain aspects of this.  I completely believe that men are more than helpless creatures of vision.  But.... (and this is so so critical to me) Women (and some men) are fighting so hard to remove photo-shopped images from the media, get rid of pro-anorexic websites and "thinspo" because it negatively effects our minds.  It "makes" us believe we aren't good enough.  It "pushes" us to be something that we aren't.  This is such a double standard to me. 

While I agree that both men and women have the ability to be confronted by these things and choose to turn away from negative thinking and actions because of them, I think women have really downplayed the fact that what they wear does indeed send a message just like a ridiculously photo-shopped magazine cover sends a message to women.  We have the ability (regardless of our gender) and help to overcome these negative lines of thinking, but these messages that are being sent (knowingly or not) are not helpful.

I am not writing to tell women how to dress or judge them for their choices.  My purpose is to point out that the way you present yourself (including dress) does send a message.  "For the Strength of Youth" says: "Your dress and grooming send messages about you to others and influence the way you and others act. When we are well groomed and modestly dressed, we can invite the companionship of the Spirit and exercise a good influence on those around us."  It does not say that it forces people to act certain ways or think certain thoughts, but it does influence.  If you decide to sport a bikini at the beach, you will be looked at differently then someone who is trying to be more discreet.  Dressing to show more of our bodies is not just about ourselves. Everyone we come in contact with sees that first.  So the notion that it is only our own business is naive to me.  Another quote from "For the Strength of Youth" reads: "Never lower your dress standards for any occasion. Doing so sends the message that you are using your body to get attention and approval and that modesty is important only when it is convenient."  I believe that.  Dressing immodestly is a way to gain attention and approval (I realize I may receive backlash from this, but this has been my experience with every girl or woman I know, myself included.)  Again, we are in a battle to promote healthy positive body image for women and girls for generations to come by helping rid the world of these negative pictures and negative messages that we are bombarded with.  I am very much at the front of that line because those unhealthy messages about body image influence me negatively.  So I hope that we can understand modesty in the same light.  That it may not ever force someone to think or act poorly, but it DOES influence.  

On another note, I am happy to share that my ideas of modesty have really grown through this conflicting time.  The LDS culture is infamous for teaching modesty in a way that may not be uplifting.  I get that.  I don't think that we need to shame girls into covering their bodies.  Our bodies are wonderful and beautiful.  I don't believe that girls have to be modest because boys can't control their thoughts.  I think I have more than one or two articles of clothing in my own closet that don't live up to the standard that I have set for myself based on my beliefs and love for the Lord.  Modesty is far more encompassing than the way we clothe our bodies.  It is a state of behavior that portrays through our dress, speech, and actions.  The courage someone has to act modestly in all areas of life is really astounding to me.  It is something I aspire to achieve and will continue to work towards. 

In conclusion (finally, I know...) here are some of the best scriptures I read regarding modesty in dress.
**Foretelling the Second Coming when "the Son of Man shall acome down in heaven, bclothed in the brightness of his cglory" (D&C 65:5)
**The counsel "And above all things, clothe yourselves with the bond of acharity, as with a mantle, which is the bond of perfectness and bpeace." (D&C 88:125)
**When Christ visited the Nephites "And it came to pass, as they understood they cast their eyes up again towards heaven; and behold, they asaw a Man bdescending out of heaven; and he was clothed in a white robe" (3 Nephi 11:8)

When our clothing draws attention to worldly approval or noticing different aspects of our bodies, we cut off the ability to be clothed in that which is most important and draw attention and respect to Heavenly Father.

Christ, in all of His humility and perfection appeared simply in a white robe, but shone brighter than the sun.  

That is beautiful.


REAL positive for my expecting friends {more thoughts on pregnancy and motherhood}

I can't begin to explain my delight in finding out these last few weeks that a handful of my friends are expecting babies.  Sheer bliss, I tell you.  

It seems to be popular to be "real" about things these days.  For good reason, of course.  I believe in being honest.  But it also seems that being "real" can be another word or excuse for being "negative".  I know that these lovely pregnant friends will hear it all... "get as much sleep now while you still can." or "better do what you love quickly because your life is ending soon."  all through well-meaning (or not) grins of experienced mothers. 

So I would like to happily tell you why being pregnant and being a mother are the greatest blessings and joys of my so far life.  
*as a side note, I am happy to discuss all details and answer all questions honestly... things aren't always glamorous and definitely not easy, but those things don't detract for a second the beauty of childbearing and rearing.

*in the heat of summer with no A/C means half naked baby*

My pregnant life was not easy for me.  I had aches and pains and sickness.  But I grew a human inside of me!  I felt the thumps and eventually the jumps of a baby girl eager to come into the world.  That first little pitter pat, I will never forget it and there was no denying it was little Charlotte.  I went silent, then got this huge grin on my face.  I waited ever so impatiently to feel another thump.  I miss that feeling... truly I do, so enjoy every kick, elbow, headbutt, hip check, whatever it is.

Then as mentioned before, I loved giving birth and can't wait to jump into that again.  Seriously... giving birth to a baby is just surreal.  Even if you have a crazy experience... you just BIRTHED a human.  High fives all around.

*this is Charlotte, flirting with the light.  I call it her boyfriend, they seem to charm one another.*

When Charlotte arrived - I was so very overwhelmed, and rightly so.  Your life changes in the blink of an eye.  But I can't tell you how much happier life can be with a baby if you start singing when he cries or dance like a crazy person to distract her or just kiss the life out of those soft baby cheeks because you don't know how else to calm your distressed bundle of cuteness.  Yes of course, I've done those things with tears in my eyes but you really learn to enjoy all those moments when you take advantage of them.  I have made up so many songs to entertain my baby girl and keep my spirits up as well.  Top hits include "mama's in the shower", "round and round we go" (the gassy song - complete with leg pumping), and "Charlotte" (to the tune of Justin Bieber's "baby").

 *propped up like a big baby... loves chomping on those hands.*

Some of my favorite moments have been propping Charlotte up in the boppy on our bed while folding and putting away laundry.  I always turn on music and dance and sing along.  She loves it when I drag shirts across her face before folding them up and she gets a kick out of watching me dance like no one is watching.


She may not even be 4 months old yet, but she loves her book "baby faces".  She always looks intently at each face and gives a grin and sometimes a chuckle when we reach the laughing baby.  She's a snuggle bug when you set her up on your shoulder and sometimes I feel so content I could die.  The first time your baby smiles at you is an inner explosion (implosion?) of feel good and you can tell that she knows you are her mama.  Did I mention kissing baby cheeks? You get to do it ALL the time.  WHENEVER you want.  WITHOUT feeling weird about it. Then those moments when you change babe's clothes because she pooped or spit up or whatever and you can just keep her in her diaper and hang out in bed at 6:00 am.

*Here is that 6:00 am moment.  Ryan likes to make her look like a nun with her blankets then sing "how do you solve a problem like maria?*

Then dad comes home from work and the 3 of you grin and giggle as he plays airplane and blows raspberries on her belly, what sweet sweet memories these will all make.  Seriously, Charlotte loves when her fun dad comes home.

*babies make the most hilarious faces. Hours of entertainment!*

I could go on with this last part forever and bore you to pieces because really - your own baby in real life is much more awesome than reading about mine or holding that lady's.  What an important and amazing job we have to be mothers.  And golly, I'm so glad you all are pregnant!!


Latest of baby Charmander

 Charlotte posed for her first official photo shoot, courtesy of Samantha Kelly Photography.  Sam is extremely talented!  We are nuts about this 3 month old.  She squawks like a pterodactyl these days and it seems to sound less and less cute every time but I can't help being totally crazy about Charlotte.    


 This is my favorite.  She perches a lot.  Especially when she wakes up.  There is something so hilarious about her perching habits. 

 She has the longest baby torso known to mankind.  Look at it!  This is a Hunter trait, all the way. 
 Her daddy is all torso.

 Sneaky little smile...

 Ryan calls this her Abercrombie shot.

 Super awesome vintage blanket provided by Heather Edwards. 

Very Sentimental

"Now I don't like to be very sentimental if I don't have to be - oh but I think that I just may have glued my hand to yours if you had asked me."
- Andrew Belle "Don't Blame Yourself"

This quote is very applicable.  In fact, I think of it so so often when I think of Ryan.  
He will probably be embarrassed by this post and I'm not one to publicly declare often how attracted I am to him, but right now, I just don't care.

When we were walking along the super crowded beach in Carpinteria, CA during our marathon honeymoon, Ryan kissed me (not lightly) in front of what seemed like a bajillion beach goers.  I was so shy about it.  I think I may have appeared rejecting even.  Which is awful, because truly, secretly, I thought it was so romantic and it made my whimsical heart skip a beat.

When Charlotte was born - one of the things I will remember the most was the time I had with Ryan to soak it all in and realize we were more than just me and him.  He was so awesome.  Because I was suffering so much blood loss and on weird medications and utterly exhausted, the night that Charlotte was born, I broke down in my hospital recovery bed.  All visitors had left.  All staff was gone.  Charlotte was in the nursery until her next sign of hunger.  I felt so strange, such a mix of emotions, and so overly tired and wound up that I couldn't sleep.  Ryan nudged his way into the bed next to me and held me.  He told me how wonderful I was.  He spoke of how kind I was to all of the hospital staff.  He assured me of his unwavering love.  He was so proud of me.  I needed every word he offered in that moment.  So encouraging, so calming.  It is one of my favorite memories with him to date.  I really do not only love him, but like him so much.  I wish I could spend even more time with him and talk to him and dream with him and kiss him.  He has given me a wonderful year of marriage and it just keeps getting better.  I am so grateful.

"I think that I just may have glued my hand to yours if you had asked me."


Sleep has made all the difference...

Charlotte is sleeping.  

When we first arrived home from the hospital, I assumed I knew how to take care of a baby.  For the most part, I did... but I realized quickly that I didn't know what I was doing or what I should do for a large portion of the time Charlotte and I were together (which was constantly).  She cried often and even produced tears much faster than most babies... those tears were so so sad.  Surely, as her mother, I should have known how to handle every situation with my God-given intuition, right??  There were numerous times when Ryan would come home to see Charlotte and I crying together in the rocking chair because I felt so sad that I didn't know how to make her feel happy.  He handled those moments so well.  I really couldn't ask for a better husband.  The best thing I ever did was decide to get outside at least once every day.  The sunshine and fresh air can really help put things into perspective while experiencing the life changing event of becoming a parent.  Nearly 8 weeks have gone by and I've learned so much about this little girl.  It seems as though there is a large group of mothers (or not) who believe they know everything about motherhood and will tell you the "right" way to do things. 
For instance:
your body WILL produce enough milk as your baby's needs grow.  I didn't find that experience to be true for me.  Charlotte was insatiable and nursing constantly.  Therefore, I have been able to supplement her with breast milk from a lovely neighbor of mine.  She is happier and finally looks as if she is putting on weight.  

Your baby MUST sleep on her back.  There is an entire campaign with outspoken advocates who are very much against any sleep position except for on their backs.  Do YOU sleep on your back? I sure don't... and I couldn't wait to sleep on my stomach again once Charlotte popped out of me.  She is a light sleeper - movement seems to rouse Charlotte very quickly and I learned that she didn't enjoy being on her back or her side.  Once I put her on her tummy to sleep - she slept like an actual baby!  Yes - I know it may increase the chance of being at risk for SIDS... but nobody knows what causes it and I don't believe any mother has control of whether or not her baby dies in this manner (our mothers were told to make us all sleep on our stomachs as infants) - information is always changing.

  I guess my point is that you are the parent for a reason and you have to make difficult decisions about how to raise your own children, don't let people put so much fear into you for making these decisions.  

Now that my baby girl has been eating enough - I have moved her out of our room and into a crib.  She's growing so fast!  For the benefit of our entire household, I have made the decision to begin helping Charlotte learn sleep independence.  I think my whole world has changed and I found myself with so much extra time today.  My poor baby has needed far more sleep than I realized before - and she is quite capable of putting herself to sleep with the occasional (who am I kidding, I can't let her cry more than 2 minutes without swooping in) pat on the back, rub of the hair, and whooshing sound.  We are ALL better rested and more relaxed (especially my smiling baby) now that the longest it takes Charlotte to go to sleep is 15 - 20 minutes.  What a dream.  

Do what feels right to you - don't let anyone rush you or tell you that you're wrong. 

Co-sleep if you so desire
Formula feed if you want
Give birth with an epidural or go for the natural
Swaddle your baby
or Don't

But never underestimate the power of trying new things and wisdom from those who have gone before!  Thank heavens for my Mom, Mother in law, Sisters, and Friends.

Happy parenting, world!


Finally made the switch

Charlotte is taking a lovely nap, what an angel.  So I took the opportunity to do a blog update.... name change, inclusion of family, etc.

Ryan and I feel as if we have been given so much, bounteous are we!

I also feel as if we need to strive more and more to be more giving, so I found the name suitable. 

I've promised a few of you Charlotte's birth story, so here goes nothing!

Monday, March 25th, Ryan and I were scheduled to check into labor and delivery.  I was a week past my initial "due date" and put on a list to be induced.  We arrived around 7am and I was put on pitocin around 9.  It was extremely uneventful up until that point... I hadn't experienced any real contractions, the baby was sitting fairly high, and I felt better than I had in months.  After a couple of hours, I began to feel the contractions in bed gripping manner.  I took the greatly appreciated advice, and received an epidural around 11 and my midwife broke my water shortly after.  Let me tell you something about that epidural: it was awesome.  I managed to sleep and eat snow cones (flavored ice chips) for a good portion of the next few hours until my nurse came in and informed us that I was fully dilated and ready push, this was at about 3pm.  The nurse told me my hips were perfect for child bearing.  Swoon! every girls dream to hear that, right?? This lady's hips don't lie.  I gave my first push before the nurse said "k, stop - we need to get your midwife in here before I end up delivering this baby."  The head full of black hair was clearly visible.  Jenny (midwife) arrived along with a team of who knows what they were, and they prepped the landing strip for the baby to arrive.  Ryan looked at me with excited eyes and said "are you ready??" It was such a strange feeling, so much thought, worry, excitement lead up to that moment.  I said "I'm at the top of the roller coaster and there's only one way down." I was totally ready.  About 3 pushes later, the baby came "shooting out" down the slip n slide as Ryan described it.  I immediately felt my stomach drop when she came out, what an awesome feeling!  She graced the earth at 3:50 that afternoon.  She was instantly placed in my arms while they stitched me back up.  I had 3rd degree tearing (no bueno) and lost a lot of blood because of it.  They called in another surgeon to help with stitching (4 hands were required, apparently) and he kept commenting on how he was stitching creatively.  Jenny kissed me on the forehead, commented on how kind I was being, and felt so awful about my pending recovery.  I remember shaking uncontrollably and feeling a bit out of sorts, but completely dazed by this new baby in my arms.  She pooped on me twice, the little jokester! 

I can't tell you how amazing I think giving birth is.  I loved every second of it, truly!  I realize this may be a very rare experience and that I may tend to really keep on the sunny side of life, but I look forward to delivering another baby!

Recovery is not as bad as I anticipated, and Charlotte is a dream.  She cries a lot, and sleeps sometimes, and eats whenever she feels like it, but she is such ball of personality already, and I couldn't ask for a greater gift than becoming a mom. 

Charlotte Kristy Hunter
8lbs 6oz, 21 inches long
3:50 pm March 25th, 2013


Marriage and Pregnancy: the ultimate teachers

We're down to 5 weeks now... come on baby girl! 
We have empty bouncy chairs and clothes just dying to be filled by newborn sweetness.  
Ryan and I have been married for 8 months and I have also been pregnant for 8 months, both of which have been awesome, (probably the former a little more than the latter) and both of which have been great educators. 

Marriage - is the sweetest thing.  I really do believe that!  Yes there are the lovely reasons of coming home to one another, having a friend by your side, supporting you at all times, and never having to say goodnight at a doorstep again.  But those are just the beginning of a fulfilled life that can be had through marriage.  I have learned so much from Ryan in these past few months.  I have learned that I can be overwhelmingly helpful, I'm an obnoxious eater, and I've enjoyed independence and control far too much.  I have learned how a car engine runs (very intriguing), how the sun works (even more intriguing and absolutely breathtaking), and which ingredients go well together (his kitchen confidence is far superior).  I have had so many opportunities to change and become better with Ryan by my side.  Closer to God.  What a perfect plan to label marriages and families as extremely important.

on the same note...

I've been pregnant for as long as I have been married.  I won't go into details, but it has been physically taxing in almost every way.  I have even experienced some sort of repercussions from hopping on one foot (note to your pregnant self) Ha!   During this pregnant period of life, I have felt quite useless.  I've spent days physically unable to cook, clean, walk, sleep, breathe well.  I feel as if I can do very little to help anyone around me and lift others up because my body has been very uncooperative.  

 And a couple of nights ago, Ryan reminded me...

I have a person growing inside of me.  He reminded me that I find so much joy in uplifting others emotionally that when I am required to put all of my efforts to raising one person physically, my sense of worth can be skewed.  How beautiful is that?  To have a husband who can help me to see so clearly... that I made the choice to give of my entire physical self for this period of time to be a "co-creator with Heavenly Father".  To give this - Heavenly Father's spirit child - a place to dwell on earth.  Our bodies are the most important thing we gain on earth - THE MOST IMPORTANT THING.  I sometimes forget that things of most importance are paid with a great price.  

I am so humbled to know that I can provide a life for this child and now understand a bit more why my lot in life is to bear children.  Some women are physically unable to.  Some women don't have the opportunity to.  Some women don't want to.  Each scenario breaks my heart and my love extends great, deep distances to all of these women.  I also think that each of these scenarios can provide great learning experiences if you allow the Spirit to enter in and teach.  The lows in pregnancy have taught me patience, reliance on the Lord, humility, and extreme empathy for those with similar situations or ailments.  How perfect it is - that the lows of my pregnancy have taken me to higher planes than I could reach before.  

I have learned many things in 8 months, and I can't wait for my education to continue!

Please please PLEASE read these inspirational talks