Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 in photos

see past years in photos: 2010, 2011


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We had quite a year. Celebrated Isaac's first birthday! Found out we were pregnant with another boy. Took an alone trip to San Antonio and Austin. Moved from Texas to Las Vegas. Took a family trip to San Diego. Had a baby!

And we are excited to usher in 2013 and see what the Lord has for us this year.

Happy New Year!!

Monday, December 10, 2012

day in the life: saturday

you can see more day in the life posts here

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wake up // remnants from Ben getting ready for work 3 hours prior // toddler breakfast (and some serious reading material) // my breakfast: berry and orange juice smoothie // truth cards // what I wore // dropping my dad off at the airport // fabric store run // grocery store run // hanging around the house // cinnamon bread we got on sale // breakfast for lunch // catching up on project life // making dinner: chicken enchiladas // modeling his new dino hat

these photos were taken October 27 (obviously before I had the baby). I've been meaning to post them and decided this was a good opportunity to!

linking up with living in yellow

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

elijah's birth story

I wasn't totally sure how much of Elijah's birth story I wanted to share here. Like I said in his announcement, I have had to filter through so many different emotions in the days following his birth. I honestly was not prepared for how it went. It wasn't at all what I was expecting and definitely not what I had hoped for. But it's our story. And I know the Lord wants to use it. I trust that He wrote it and was with me in the midst of it. And because of that, I want to share it with you.

Elijah was born in the wee hours of Saturday, November 17th. 4:23 am to be exact. He wasn't late, and he wasn't early. He was right on time.

I had been having braxton hicks contractions for about a week leading up to actual labor. I would have a few in the middle of the night and get somewhat excited. But they never got stronger and closer together. So we would go for long walks and I would drink raspberry tea. And wait.

Friday morning, I began having consistent contractions. Finally! They were about 6 minutes apart and 30-45 seconds long. I started timing them at 6am. And they kept coming, just not closer together and not stronger. And they kept coming, all. day. long.

You know how they say that labor goes quicker with every subsequent pregnancy? Hah.

I stayed busy all day, mostly watching Isaac and making sure I had all my things together for when it was time to head to the birth center. I baked brownies. I ate lunch. I called Ben to come home early from work because it could be "any time now". And we waited.

At about 7:30 that night we decided to drive to the birth center. My contractions were about 5 minutes apart but weren't quite 1 minute long. But we figured we'd get there and get settled and fill the tub. I called my midwife and she guessed things would get going around 9. And she was almost spot on. In the mean time, we unpacked and hung out.

As each contraction came I found it most comfortable to lean over on something tall (like my bathroom counter or the dresser in the bedroom at the birth center). I crossed my arms and rested my head. That way I could squat and breath through each one.

My midwife arrived around 9 o'clock. By this point my contractions had gotten a whole lot stronger and closer together. And now that the tub was full I was able to get in and labor for a little while. It did, as they say, "take the edge off" during each contraction. But I decided not to stay in. I got out for a little while and layed in the bed on my side. Ben laid next to me and held my hands during each contraction. Around 11 o'clock, while my midwife was monitoring Eli's heart rate, my water broke.


And then my contractions got really intense (as they usually do once your water breaks).

Almost immediately I was feeling the need to push. So I did. And I got back in the tub and labored for a while longer. My midwife noticed almost immediately that with each contraction I was arching my back in pain. At that point she suggested she check me to see what was going on. And she found the same thing that had happened while I was laboring with Isaac (my now 2 year old). There was a lip of my cervix in the way, so I wasn't quite at 10 cm. During my next contraction, she was able to push it back behind Elijah's head. And immediately there was relief. Well, at least when I pushed during each contraction, I wasn't in pain anymore.

I stayed in the tub for a little while longer. I labored forward, holding on to Ben and I turned and labored the other way around with my arms around the side of the tub (and oh man did my arm and chest muscles ache a couple days later!!). I pushed and pushed and Eli was definitely working his way down the birth canal. But when things didn't progress much for a while, my midwife suggested I get out and lie on the floor. So I did.

And things still weren't progressing very much. I would push, push, push with each contraction and I could feel him moving down. And then as soon as I stopped, I could feel him slip back. Oh. My. Goodness. That is discouraging. I kept praying for the Lord's strength. I needed it. By now I had been pushing for a couple hours.

So we tried a few more things. I labored on the floor. I labored on the bed. I labored on my back. I labored on my side. I labored on my other side. I labored on all fours. I labored in the tub. I labored on the toilet. I labored squatting while someone held me up. You name it, I did it.

And still, almost no progress. I could still feel him slipping back as each contraction faded. By this point, I don't even think I was still in the room. There comes a point when you are so exhausted from laboring and pushing as hard as you can, that it feels like you aren't the one doing it anymore. You just check out. And I did.

I got into the bed and breathed through my contractions rather than pushing, to give my body a bit of rest. Although, that is not as easy as it sounds. They also gave me oxygen. I was looking at Ben saying, "I can't do this anymore. I just can't." And it was the truth. I had been in labor close to 21 hours, pushing for over 4 and he had been crowning almost 3 hours. Ben discussed with my midwife what the next step would be at this point. She said she would call the OB she works with to meet us at the hospital. He would need to use the vacuum to get Elijah out.

She got me up out of the bed and had me try squatting for a little bit longer as a last ditch effort. But things didn't change. His shoulders were caught because he was posterior (actually turned sideways). He couldn't get past my pelvis.

The last thing I remember at the birth center is my midwife and her intern rushing to get me out as quickly as possible. Ben threw a pair of his shorts on me, put a jacket over my shoulders and grabbed my flip flops. My midwife drove her car around, and her intern got in the back seat with me. Meanwhile, Ben followed them in our car. I layed in the back seat, oxygen up my nose trying not to push through each contraction. Oh man, is that painful!! They kept telling me, "breath through your nose. breath through each contraction. don't push. get oxygen to your baby." And while I know my midwife drove as fast as she could, that was the longest 20 or 30 minutes of my life! And the longest 3 contractions I had ever experienced (at least I'm pretty sure I only had 3 contractions, but who really knows?)

We got to the hospital, where my midwife dropped me and her intern off at the ER entrance. Ben got there right behind us. He stood there with me while I was hobbled over on him, wearing his basketball shorts, a sports bra, a jacket, and barefoot as I breathed through each contraction. I'm sure it was quite a sight. They came out with a wheel chair for me and rushed me upstairs to L&D into room #1.

I got in the bed and all the nurses (there were alot!) rushed around getting everything together. That is when I lost it and became belligerent. I was done. I had expected the doctor to be there to get Elijah out immediately. But it didn't go like that. Instead they were treating me as if I was only a few cm dilated and checking in at the beginning of my labor. One nurse came over and asked if she could check me. My response? [insert sarcastic, rude tone]: "Sure! But there's nothing to check! His head is right there!"

I was lying on my side because it was the most comfortable and with each contraction, I couldn't help but push. I mean, I had my knee up, leg in the air, pushing. And they kept telling me to stop! But that wasn't going to happen. In between contractions I was yelling, "Where is Dr. ______?!!?"

Finally the doctor arrived and within just a few minutes he had Elijah out. In the mean time, a nurse was attempting to put at heplock in my arm for an IV. To which I kept thinking, "why is she even trying?" But I was shaking so much that she was unsuccessful. But she did leave 2 lovely bruises. My husband later told me that it took 3 attempts with the vacuum to get the baby out successfully. During that time I had no idea what was going on. I was just pushing when I was told to push and praying that Elijah was safe and healthy.

I remember tearing my hospital gown off as fast as I could so they could lay him on my tummy (I don't remember them putting the gown on, though). I looked down at him and was so relieved that it was finally over. He was here. And he was beautiful.

Elijah Patrick weighed 8lbs 4oz and was 19 inches long.


Of course they wouldn't allow him to stay with me for long. The nurse grabbed him and took him over to the baby station (I don't know the technical name for it). They weighed him, and used the bulb thingy to suck the meconium out of his lungs. I was yelling across the room not to give him any shots. To which my husband laughed at me because he was already over there, on the spot, watching them like a hawk, telling them what they couldn't do. I love that man.

After what felt like hours, he was finally given back to me. And he nursed, very well on both sides.


I couldn't believe how much he looked like his older brother. And boy was he cute!! I fell in love all over again.

So, that's how I remember everything happening. Things are still a little bit hazy from that morning. I was high on adrenaline and exhausted from 22 hours of labor and 5 hours of pushing. But as they say, it comes to an end eventually. And for that I am extremely thankful!

That day and that week, I was really disappointed. There was no way I thought I would be writing this story. I had expected to write about how quickly things went and that we were able to rest and recover at the birth center, but head home the same day. I was hoping to write about how God gave me the strength and ability to push him out on my own. I wanted to tell you about Elijah's incredible homebirth.

But that wasn't how it went. That wasn't the plan.

Now, 2 weeks removed from this story, I am no longer disappointed. I know that the Lord was with me through my entire labor. I know He never left my side. And I know, as things seem to always work their way out in my life, that His plan was not my plan. This was yet another experience that God is using to teach me that lesson. And it's okay. He kept me safe. He kept Elijah safe. He had a purpose for my labor and He will use our story for His glory. I am sure of that.

I just wanted it to be noted that at no time during my labor were either Elijah or I in danger. My midwife did an amazing job of monitoring his heart rate the entire time and making sure I was drinking water and had enough oxygen. If we had been in danger she would have transported us right away. I am grateful for the chance to labor as long as I did in an effort to deliver Eli of my own strength. When the time came that I didn't feel I go do it anymore, then we made the difficult decision to head to the hospital.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

the little guy is here!

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We welcomed Elijah Patrick into the world on Saturday morning at 4:23am.
He is one happy and healthy (and sleepy) little guy.
And of course, we couldn't be more in love.

I'll share more of the story here in the weeks to come (although I haven't decided how much of it I'm going to share). Labor and delivery with Eli challenged me in so many different ways. I can't even begin to explain all the emotions I've had to work through in the past few days. All I can say for now is, he is one stubborn child.

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Monday, November 12, 2012

prayers for labor and birth

I wanted to share with you the prayer requests that I have as I prepare for Elijah's labor and delivery and for the actual day. I've also included the scripture I've been praying and meditating over. My hope is that you will not only join in by praying for me, baby Elijah and my family, but that you would use these prayers and scriptures for yourself, your family members and your friends when needed. One of the many things I love about the church is that we are called to pray for one another and that we get the honor of doing so! Thank you for your prayers and petitions.

The one major difference I've noticed about my attitude toward labor this time versus when I was pregnant with Isaac is this: with Isaac I believed I would be able to get through labor on my own because my body was made for it. I felt that because my body was designed to give birth, all I needed was to trust it to see me through (with the help of some basic preparations, of course). What I discovered in my labor with Isaac is that 1. that is only partly true and 2. I can't do it alone. I needed to also trust in the one who designed and created my body to give birth.

As women, our bodies are created and designed for pregnancy, labor and birth, but we have to always look to the One who created and designed them that way.

Many of the scriptures I've been praying over in preparation came from this post and this site. I highly recommend both.

The simplest but most important prayer I've been praying is: Lord, be my focus and my strength during my labor and may all of it be for Your glory.

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. ~ 2 Timothy 1:7

I ask the Lord to help me use the spirit of self-discipline He has already given me to focus on my breathing, to focus on relaxation and to focus on God in prayer and petition while in labor. I know I have a spirit of power and of self-discipline, but I need to focus on Him to maintain it. And I need both in order to get through labor successfully.

Commit to the Lord whatever you do... ~ Proverbs 16:3

My prayer is that I would commit this labor and birth entirely to the Lord- that it would give Him honor and glory. I pray that I would humbly submit to His plan and purpose for my labor, because I know He has a provision for it. And that I would also commit my role as a mother to Him as well and that He would use me mightly in this child's life.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. ~ Matthew 11:28

Lord, help me to find my rest in You and to relax in the knowledge that You are completely in control and can fill me with the strength my mind and body need. I know labor will be, well, laborious, but I know that I can rest in You in the midst of the work it requires. And that I can find peace of mind in the moments when I need it most. I know you give peace.

You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you because he trusts you. ~ Isaiah 26:3

I trust Your words whole-heartedly; that You will keep me in perfect peace during my labor because I trust you. You are the source of all peace and strength and I will seek You alone for both. Please Lord, grant me that peace of mind. I'm also praying this in the days before labor so that I begin labor in the right state of mind. Free my mind of any frustration and stress so that I don't take those feelings into labor.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. ~ Psalm 139:13-14

The Lord has made me and created my body. Help me to trust in its ability to do what You have made it to do. Help me to follow its lead and trust my instincts, all the while knowing that You strengthen me in those moments. Help me to work with my body and not against it. And thank you that I am so wonderfully made. Thank you for the new life who You have knit together in my womb. Give me the desire and motivation of a mother's love to get through his birth. I cannot wait to meet him on the other side of it!

In the end, as I said above, my focus and desire through and through is that the Lord will be glorified and honored in this. I trust Him for strength, for peace, for patience, for self-discipline, for power and for love. He will provide as He always has. He is faithful and I know that full well. I am incredibly grateful that He has placed this child in my life and I look to Him to see me through baby Elijah's birth.

Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one's youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them; They will not be ashamed When they speak with their enemies in the gate. ~Psalm 127:3-5

You can also read here on other ways I've prepared for this labor and how God answered my prayer.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

how to be a stay at home wife

Long before baby(s), I was a SAHW - stay at home wife. My other titles included Trophy Wife, Homemaker and Home Manager (I always loved filling out forms that asked for my occupation so that I could write those words on the blank line).

My breed is a bit hard to come by. Most women these days without kids, married or not, are in the work force. And I was, for a time. But my calling changed and so did my heart.

It happened when we moved from Las Vegas back to San Diego when Ben signed his second contract with the Marine Corps, back in 2007. We had been married about 3 years. I had worked since the age of 15 and was now 22. I decided to quit my job in Las Vegas rather than transfer back to San Diego, which was an option. That way we could move, transition and get settled in without me working. So for a few months, I didn't work outside the home.

And I decided that I really enjoyed it.

And so did my husband.


There's something about "staying home." You have this thing; this thing called time. I had never had so much of it before! granted I was still in school. i wouldn't finish my degree for another year.

But, all this time! I was able to keep the house clean, the pantry and refrigerator stocked, dinner was always made or being prepared when my husband got home from work. And I had time for me and for service! I was able to volunteer, at multiple places. And get lunch with friends on a whim. Or run errands in the middle of the day.

One major challenge was that I had to learn how to not waist my time, but to instead fill it with beneficial activites. It's easy to spend your time sitting around, watching tv, eating, just plain vegging out if you aren't intentional about what you do with it. And that's exactly what I learned not to do.

I got the question often: what do you do all day?

Let me just say, as a woman and a wife, if you stay home, don't let others look down on you because you don't have children and do not work outside the home. Neither of those things has to define us as women. And yet, if you aren't doing one or the other, people can't possibly understand why not or how you can be a contributing member of society. But you are because you can fulfill your God-given purpose as a woman through following His call on your life. And that call does not have to fall in line with the secular world.

My focus during that season of life was clear and simple: I sought the Lord through study and fellowship and ministry. I served my husband well. I served others as best I could. I cultivated friendships. I spent time doing things I enjoyed.

What exactly does that look like? Here are my suggestions for being a good stay at home wife:

1. Get plugged into a church. From there, join a small group or 2. Definitely join one with your husband if you can. Sign up for a Bible study (these are often different than small groups because they focus on specific books of the Bible. I highly suggest Precept Upon Precept). Seek God daily through prayer and study.

2. Serve your husband! I know, that isn't very politically correct to say it that way, but it's the truth of scripture and God's purpose on your life. Learn his "love language" and speak it. alot. Have pride in your home; decorate it, clean it, make it a haven for your marriage to thrive. Learn to cook and sew. Then do it. Spend time with him, give him your attention, listen and be interested in what he's interested in. Learn to manage the money he brings in. Tithe, give, save and of course spend it for both of your enjoyment.

3. Volunteer. Determine what cause and calling the Lord has placed specifically on your heart. If you don't know, pray about it! And try helping in a few different areas until you find one you really enjoy. Many churches support local ministries and outreaches so try helping with those. Serve others because He has called us to be servants.

4. Make friends. And build the friendships you already have. Get together as often as possible. Ask how they are doing. Pray for them. Help them out when they need it. Rejoice with them and weap with them. Study the word together. Be vulnerable. It's worth it.

5. Do something for you! You have free time. Use it to find out what you love to do or do more of what you love! Blog, scrapbook, read, run, cook. Just don't waist your time or your money. Use it to be productive.

I was a stay at home wife for 4 years. It was fantastic. I cherish that season of mine and my husband's life. It was a time when we were able to grow together and with the Lord. We were able to travel and spend ample amounts of time together on the weekends. We spent time seeking Christ as the foundation of our marriage and as a result our marriage is now a strong foundation for our growing family. When we had our first son, a million other responsibilities were added to that list I shared above. But now I get to be a stay at home mother and I couldn't be more thankful for this season of my life.

My last piece of advice would be: if you are blessed enough to be a stay at home wife, cherish the time. Make the most of it now because life moves quickly and seasons change before you even know it.

I would like to note that I was a stay at home wife while my husband was in the military. We were far from wealthy and part of my job was to budget our money and learn to live frugally if I was going to stay home. Please don't think that I stayed home because my husband had some job that made us filthy rich. We lived in a small apartment and shared one vehicle. I took public transportation alot of the time and thrifted most of our clothes. My point: you don't have to have a rich husband to stay home.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

pregnancy update: 38 weeks

38 weeks and ready

Here we are, about 2 weeks away! I am so ready at this point. Baby Elijah is sitting so low and it's become pretty uncomfortable. But I'm trying to be as patient as possible.

In the mean time I'm still working on getting my list knocked out. Most of it is done. I spent a couple days washing and folding laundry. We have diapers, lotion, butt paste and baby powder. The bedding in his moses basket is clean and ready. Carseats are installed. It's all really coming together. At this point the only thing that I really have left to do is pack for the big day. I better get on that, huh?

An update:

It's November, so that means the month is here!
In my search for a pediatrician, I think I'm actually going to go with a doctor who I haven't yet met. I spoke to him over the phone about some concers and questions I had and I got a really good impression. We'll visit him after birth and I'll make my final decision.
While I haven't been exercising as much as I should be, we have been hiking quite a bit and it's been a really good work out. I can feel my hips widening and Eli has definitely worked his way down as a result.
The swollen-ness is out of control. I look down and think "those are not my feet!!"
Speaking of feet, I got a pedicure yesterday and it was wonderful.
I found my one shirt that fits while I'm this pregnant!! I thought I had lost it in storage somewhere but last week I opened a box and it just happened to be sitting right there. Yay!
Elijah is still head down but seems to be sunny side up, although he moves around alot. Prayers that he flips over are very appreciated.

Still no sciatic nerve pain. I'm incredibly thankful for that.

I got my post-labor/nursing pajama set in the mail this week (thanks mom) and I love it. It's a 3 piece nursing shirt, pants and robe and it's so soft. I can't wait to wear it.

I painted some cute little onsies this week but I still want to make this.

I'm working on a "labor day" post for the blog. I'll be sharing specific prayer requests and scripture if you want to join in praying while I'm in labor. I'll post it as soon as we know it's time.
I can't wait to meet the little one who will fill this basket #37weeksMy 2 boys. One in and one out.Just because I felt like painting something for baby Eliupload

*all photos from instagram. you can follow me @jessibridges

Thursday, November 1, 2012

teaching my son his civic duty

This past weekend my mom and I went to vote and we took Isaac with us. I want my children to understand the importance of being informed politically and being active in the process from an early age. And the most important way to get involved is to vote!

I've been interested in politics from a young age. It probably had to do with the fact that my parents have always stayed informed politically and (don't hate me here) Fox News was on our television about 12 hours a day. Okay, I'm exaggerating but only slightly. I registered to vote before I even turned 18 and I've voted in every single election, including midterms since then, with the exception of the primaries this year. Voting to me is the most important thing a United States citizen can do. Why would you forfeit your voice and your power?

But enough about that. Let's get on to the fun photos from our Isaac's first voting experience!

ps- Everyone there was old, because we voted in a "retirement community" and they were very intrigued that I had Isaac with me. I don't know what the big deal was, but okay. One lady asked, "Is he going to vote??" and I really didn't know if she was kidding or not. I just said, "I'm teaching him his civic duty at a young age" and all the old ladies laughed.

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He even got his very own "I Voted" sticker!!

Now all there is to do is wait until November 6.

In case you are wondering who I voted for, I won't be disclosing that. Okay, who am I kidding. It should be pretty obvious based on my values and convictions that I didn't vote for one person in particular based on his record in one very specific area.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

halloween with a homemade Dino!

You can see Isaac's homemade pirate costume from last year here.

I wasn't quite sure what Isaac should wear as a costume this year. There were a few options, but in the end dinosaur just seemed perfect. He loves to growl and his favorite stuffed animal, actually his best friend, is a green dino that he found at a yard sale a while back.

I had seen a tutorial for making a kid's hoodie into a dinosaur costume a while back. This isn't the exact one, but it's very similar. As far as the tail goes, I figured out how to do that on my own. I'm not going to share a tutorial of how I made it here, but I thought I would show you some of the steps. The whole costume was pretty simple and took maybe an hour total, but probably not even that long.

From this: 021022dino1dino3dino2

To this:
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And a few fun photos:
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I cannot wait to take my little dino trick-or-treating tonight!! Last year he wasn't quite walking yet so we didn't take him around the neighborhood. Instead we wheeled him around in his stroller at a local carnival. This year though, we will be hitting at least one neighborhood (not my parents' because its a retirement community) and then over to our church for trunk or treat. Did I say yet that I'm so excited!

Happy Halloween!!