Step Into My Shoes

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With busyness of Christmas fast approaching, I'm excited to share with you a great free resource from Compassion International. Step Into My Shoes allows families the opportunity to experience life in a different way - asking the question, How do we define 'enough'? This journey takes us to Uganda to walk in the shoes of a family who have little but are content and full of joy. Each day we are invited into the lives of Pastor Tom, his wife Nancy, and their children through video.  Journey cards offer easy-to-lead questions, Bible verses, and activities that reinforce the message of the day. My girls love the family and are constantly challenged and in awe of the similarities and differences between their lives and ours. It's been beautiful for the girls to realize that even though we live differently, we are all one family under God.

My prayer is that Step Into My Shoes will help ground our family in the truth that contentment and pure joy isn't about us; what we have or our entertainment. We could have embarked on this journey anytime this year but I saved it for this season in order to reinforce gratitude before the wishlists are written and holiday festivities begin.

Start you trip today, no passports required - www.stepintomyshoes.ca

Summer Nights in Steveston

I know I'm a little behind the times, but this is my first summer exploring Steveston in Richmond, BC. What a quaint little village by the water! This historic fishing village pretty much offers it all, from a fun family outing to a date night, there's something for everyone!

FAMILY TIME

This summer is all about family time for us. Our kids are getting older, so we're starting to be able to have more active family adventures together. We're out of the baby stage and in toddler/preschooler mode. Bike rides are on our summer bucket list, so we geared up with a bike rack for our car and tuned up our bikes. Even our three year old can keep up on his Strider bike now! Tourism Richmond has a great website loaded with good ideas and info on the area.

Garry Point is a large waterfront park with bike and walking trails that hug the seaside with spectacular views. The trails are mostly flat, wide gravel paths that even little legs can traverse. If you don't have your own bikes (I personally think they are worth the initial investment), you can rent them from Village Bikes. We went in the afternoon and refueled with Pajo's for dinner. Yum! Definitely some of the best fish-n-chips in the lower mainland. We have tried many since it's one of our favorite summertime meals. :) And, of course, not to be missed...ice cream! There are several vendors that you can't really go wrong with near the boardwalk. Perfect to pick up your favorite flavour in a homemade waffle cone and stroll the fishing docks (or Hawaiian Shave Ice like my girls prefer). 

DATE NIGHTS

We recently had a date night in Steveston with friends. As nice as it is for families, it's equally lovely for a relaxing night with only adults. ;) There are many unique restaurants to try varying in specialties like seafood and pizza. They are scattered in the village so depending on your priority, whether it be waterfront location or food quality (or both), you will leave with a full, happy belly. We tried Steveston Seafood House. The atmosphere is minimalistic, but the food delish and the service staff entertaining.

Afterwards we window shopped the many local boutiques along Moncton Street. Again, there's something for everyone - from toy stores, to fashion and antiques - it's really all there! We rounded it all out, of course, with an ice cream cone and stroll on the fishing docks. It poured rain on our way in but the skies cleared and we caught a beautiful sunset.

Next on our list of places to try is Catch. Overlooking the fishing docks with unbeatable sunset views, this place looks like the perfect summer night out. The menu looks simple and enticing and the wine list is loaded with some BC favorites. Sounds great to me!

We are reminded again how blessed we are to live in such a beautiful place. There are so many local adventures to tackle. We are headed out on our new adventure soon, so stay tuned, and happy adventuring!

Summer Fun Bucket List

Cue the music: “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” I’ve had my girls home for a week now and I’m still singing. Don’t get me wrong, come September I’m sure I’ll be singing the same song, excited for routine and alone time. But for now, I am so excited for the days ahead. Days filled with no expectations or timelines. Staying up late and sleeping in, family fun and hanging out with friends. 

Why is year end always so crazy? Between field trips, class parties, after-school wrap up parties... June made me feel like I was barely keeping my head above water. I scarcely survived and since school ended I've been in hibernation/recovery mode. Even checking Facebook has been deemed too much social interaction for my overexposed self. I love people but June is overload for this introvert. Ah yes, summer is here! In our house we like to keep our summers simple and spontaneous.

Our first morning of summer break always begins with a big breakfast and a family dream meeting to come up with our “summer bucket list”. We have a lot of fun with this and nothing is off the table, but it doesn’t mean everything will be crossed off by summer's end. Camping has been on the girls list for 4 years and has yet to happen. You’d think they’d learn that it’s a pipe dream with Mark and I as their parents, but yet again, it’s made the list. Maybe this year…

In our yard we’ve created a space that allows us to never have to leave but it’s great to have the bucket list for the days we feel stir crazy or need to do something out of the ordinary. This is the list my girls came up with:

  1. Aquarium - Love the renovation!
  2. Water Slides
  3. Horse back Riding
  4. Camping
  5. Baking
  6. Zoo
  7. Lemonade Stand
  8. Grouse Grind - Picnic at the top
  9. Camp Fire - S'mores
  10. Slip & Slide
  11. Village Kids Camp - Highlight of every summer
  12. Bike Rides
  13. Skating
  14. Swimming - This year we invested in a medal framed pool from Target. On sale for $250, it has already been worth every penny. We have a blast without ever leaving our yard.
  15. Hike
  16. Summer Party - At least once a week we accomplish this request
  17. Crafts
  18. Soul Surfer Birthday Party 
  19. Gardening - We just planted a vegetable garden
  20. Restaurant - With my husband away for 10 days, this may have already been checked
  21. Green Bay Bible Camp
  22. Imagine Children's Museum
  23. Krause Berry Farms
  24. Beach
  25. Summer Camp (My 10yr old is using her entrepreneurial skills to host a summer camp in our yard, she's made up registration forms and flyers. I think she's a pretty cool kid!)

Would love to hear what makes your kids bucket list.

Out to eat with a toddler - crazy?

We've all had those proud parenting moments when your toddler throws a massive tantrum or has an epic meltdown in the middle of the restaurant and you end up leaving before you've had a chance to finish your meal. Never happened to you? If you have a toddler or a baby approaching toddler-hood, you may experience this. Good news, it is a season and this too shall pass...hopefully sooner rather than later. Why am I talking about this? Because it's happened not once, not twice, but several times to us in the last couple of months (we have an adorable, but busy, boy who turns three soon). Thought I'd share my tips - not because I'm an expert - but because I needed a refresher on how to survive this stage! AHHH!

Toddler truths

  1. Toddlers attention spans are extremely short - they usually max out at about 15-20 mins in a high chair.
  2. Toddlers easily tire and your window of opportunity to feed that little belly is short. Meal times generally fall just before nap or bedtime, so choose your timing wisely. Early dinners tend to be better than, say, a 12pm lunch before a 1pm naptime. Join the early birds and arrive at 5pm!
  3. Toddlers tend to like to graze rather than sit down for a big meal - goes back to their short attention span.

Is it impossible to go out during this stage? It may feel like it sometimes, and I may have recently said I wasn't leaving the house for the next six months, but it is possible and it is important to continue to attempt to go out. It's a great time to learn table manners, how to follow directions and a great time of family interaction and connection.

Pick a family friendly restaurant

Do they have a kid's menu? Check it for good, reasonably healthy options that you know your child will enjoy. High chairs? Coloring? Is the restaurant filled with other families - meaning they tolerate the increased noise and mess that comes during mealtimes with kids? We recently went out to eat at Boston Pizza and they are winners in my book for kids menus and activity books. Their current version is 3D. Pretty awesome in this Mom's book (see pictures below).

Know your order

Be prepared to order as quickly as possible. Toddlers are like little ticking time-bombs - their attention span is extremely short and you will run out of options to entertain him/her quickly. The sooner you can get your order in, the better chance of success. Don't order too much food, give them too many choices or introduce new foods. Order what you know they will like and eat.

Pack some finger foods/snacks

Cheerios, crackers, raisins, nuts, etc. A little something they can munch on helps to keep their attention and their blood sugar up! Remember, they usually graze, so this will help keep them entertained.

Pack a "survival kit"

Hot Wheels cars are great - they're small and you can easily set up a "road" with silverware, straws, menus, etc. We also love My Busy Books - they're popular character books that come with a bunch of little figurines to play with - as well as sticker books, which can keep them busy for quite a long time. Nursery rhymes and various I Spy-type games help too - here's a link to a site that has some great ideas. It also helps to travel with an early childhood educator (thanks Erin!) who comes up with imaginative games to entertain the toddler (I spy, Colored car spying and counting, etc). :)

Keep expectations low

Not to go into a dining experience with negative expectations, but just in case things get crazy (there will be a time, I promise), be ready and okay to just pick up your family, take your food to go, and head home. There's nothing wrong with throwing in the towel if things just can't be brought back into control. It's important to teach them about respect for other diners - leaving is one way of teaching this concept.

We were so confident about our refresher lesson in how to eat out with a toddler, we decided to take a couple of extra kids with us. :) As soon as this phase started up again for us, I remembered that it lasted several months, but it is temporary. They do grow out of it and the payoff of taking them out during this phase is that you will have a child who can behave well in a restaurant (most days). Lastly, a glass of Cabernet may be in order and help you all get through the meal and season. Bon appetit!

Teaching My Kids How to Spend, Save & Give

This month marked the beginning of allowance in the Clark household. For years I have pondered and researched the approach that I believe would work best for our family. Should the kids earn their allowance through chores? Should they lose allowance for poor behavior? So many questions!! Money management is a discipline that takes time and practice to master. I want my girls to grow up with a good grasp of how to handle money. I believe it is my job to teach them how to save, make wise decisions when spending, and most of all, I want to teach them to be generous with what they have been given.

We have decided that we are going to use allowance as a learning tool for finances, and not tie it to chores or behavior, as recommended by Gail Vaz-Oxlade. Chores are connected to being a part of a family not for financial gain. I know this becomes a touchy subject so it is important to keep in mind that each family is different and will choose different approaches. That's okay! 

The Banker

Every Saturday morning after our weekend chores are complete (*future post), the Clark Family Bank is open for business. The girls each sit down with the banker (me) and I distribute their money. The amount doesn’t matter, do what works for your family; in our house we give $1 for every year of age, weekly. Together we break the money down into jars I found at Dollarama: one for Save, one for Spend and one for Give. 

Our Allowance Breakdown

10% tithe/give, 20% save and 70% spend (we round up as I don’t want to deal with dimes and nickels)


Sienna  –  9 years old = $9.00 ($1.00 Give, $2.00 Save, $6.00 Spend)

Hayden – 7 years old = $7.00 ($0.75 Give, $1.50 Save, $4.25 Spend)

Isabella – 5 years old = $5.00 ($0.50 Give, $1.00 Save, $3.50 Spend)


Lessons Learned

Since beginning allowance, I no longer buy random treats for the girls when we are out. I make it clear when we go into a store, what we are there to purchase. If they are in need of a new pair of jeans, I purchase the new pair of jeans. I am less tempted to purchase the random shirt that they “just have to have!!!”, even if “it matches the jeans perfectly!!” If they want to purchase the shirt we talk it through. “How much do you have?”  “How much does it cost?” “Do you have enough?” I have found that they are being more deliberate in their purchases and are seeing the value in how much items cost.

My daughter recently had a book with water damage that the library fined us for. She took that amount from her jar and was able to make amends, vowing she will take better care of books from now on. She understands now that there are monetary consequences for not taking care of her belongings.

We are only four weeks in, so I'm sure there is much to learn and tweaks we will make as the days and years pass on but, for now, these are some tips that I would recommend to make the most of allowance:

  1. Keep Change on Hand - I go to the bank bi-weekly and stock up on quarters, loonies, toonies and a couple bills
  2. Stay Consistent - If Saturdays are bank day, then Saturdays are bank day. 
  3. Have a "Give" Goal - Ex. Once we have $20 in our jar, we tithe.
  4. Open a Savings Account - Ex. We will make a deposit when we have $20 in the save jar.
  5. Don't Cave - If your child really wants something that is not a need but does not have enough money, make them wait. Share examples of times you wanted something but had to wait another month
  6. Lead by Example - If you want your child to be generous, be generous. Include them in decisions on how to bless others.
  7. Show Grace - Remember kids are naturally selfish. Take the opportunity to guide them in finances but allow them to make mistakes. 

Motherhood: It's more than a 12 hour shift!

In my former life, I was a pediatric nurse. Sixteen years ago I graduated with my BS in Nursing and began my career. I worked full time until going on maternity leave with my eldest, 7.5 years ago. I could multitask like no one’s business - manage patient care for several very sick patients, give medications, perform procedures, chart on each patient, change dressings, wipe countless tears away. I was a nurse, an educator, a grief counselor, and a stand-in parent - all in a twelve hour day or night.

My husband and I didn’t meet and marry until I was in my thirties. So, he would tell you that I was fairly set in my ways and was fiercely independent (because I had to be). I had always hoped and dreamed for motherhood - I’ve loved tiny babies since I was a little girl. Everyone said, “you’re a pediatric nurse, motherhood will be natural and easy for you!” Ha! Then, my eldest was born. She was a 24 hours a day, 7 days a week job. Every week. All year long. No days off. Man, did that tiny bundle rock my world! Simple tasks seemed like mountains - how to breastfeed? SO hard! Why did no one tell me?  

ella haus photography

ella haus photography

I was given the gift of three beautiful children. All with unique personalities…with high sensitivity and some anxiety, to a love for all living creatures. And then - a boy! That in itself is such a learning experience for me. I grew up with three sisters, then had two of my own girls, and then God must have thought He should give me a boy to really test my skills! :) Amazing how different they are right from birth!

Some things have not changed from nursing to parenthood, however. I still have to multitask, change band-aids, kiss endless owies, monitor intake and output (and provide and prepare that food). I had no idea how this new “job” would challenge me. I didn’t think I would use my critical thinking as much and as often as I do now. From how to get all the household tasks done in one day between meals, school pick up and drop off and owie kissing, to more complex things like parenting different personalities, working with one’s anxiety to sleep issues and picky eaters.

Ella haus photography

Ella haus photography

And I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I am so thankful for all of my friends and family who continue to help me through each stage, who have the battle wounds or are in the thick of it themselves and can share their wisdom, and who are a safe place to share my struggles. I couldn’t do it without my team! And I’m honored. Honored and humbled by motherhood and the endless grace that’s given to me by my husband and kids as I try to muddle my way through the beautiful chaos.

Motherhood: 5 Lessons Learned

Growing up I always dreamed of having a daughter. God has blessed me with not one, but three beautiful girls.  Everyday I am thankful for the gift that they are. I never want to take motherhood for granted. 

My doctor wasn’t sure if I would be able to have children, so with each pregnancy I was truly thankful. My first pregnancy did not go as planned. Just after the excitement of getting that positive test, I became very ill. I will never forget the doctor telling me that they needed to operate but there was no guarantee my baby would survive. I couldn’t risk it, so I told the doctor that I would wait until her delivery. His response, “If we don’t operate now, neither of you will survive.” In that moment as I sat in the hospital, I realized the weight of motherhood. Just weeks before I didn’t even know I was pregnant and now I fiercely wanted to protect my sweet baby. Many surgeries later, I delivered a healthy “miracle baby”; she will be 10 years old this summer.

I have learned so much from being a mom - about my kids, and about myself. These are a few of the lessons I’ve learned:

1.     Motherhood is humbling – As an Early Childhood Educator I had an opinion and confidence about everything child related. Now, I understand that this gig is hard and that no one knows their child’s needs better than them. I try not to judge others on their parenting, knowing they are doing what they feel is best for their child and family.

2.     It’s true what they say: The days are long but the years are short. I can’t believe my youngest is already 5. I try to savour every moment, knowing in a blink my girls will be grown. These pictures are proof of how fast time flies and kids change. It's been 2 years since these photos were taken...eek! How did that happen?

3.     It takes a village – I could not survive motherhood without the support of friends and family. Our families are a great support but live far away so we are thankful for friends who have stepped in to love and care for our family. 

4.     Laugh often – I love having fun with my girls and want them to live in a home that is filled with joy and laughter. Kids love seeing their mama being silly!

5.     Don’t compare – God gave me my children on purpose and for a purpose. Don’t fall into a trap of comparison. Live the life you have been called to. Be the mother God has made you to be and give yourself slack. Some days we make mistakes, some days we just downright fail. But tomorrow is a new day. Thankfully a legacy is made over a lifetime; not a season.

The 30-Day Challenge

A Gift from God
This week I had the privilege to speak to the women of Village Church about sex. Not the worlds version of sex, but healthy, God honouring sex. I believe the world has taken sex and made it perverse, dirty and so far from God’s plan. I believe it is time that Christians stop living like the world and start redeeming sex for what it is: a gift from God. Sex is good. It is not dirty or wrong. As I have studied scripture, it is quite the opposite. It is clear that God made us to be sexual people, and that sex in the context of marriage is meant to be enjoyed, and enjoyed often.
 
I meet with women over and over again who are disengaged from their husbands and discouraged about sex.  I often hear women say, “if he would spend more time connecting with me emotionally, I would connect more with him physically,” like it’s a reward. But the reality as Dr. Emerson Eggerichs says, is not that simple. It’s not always the case that emotional connection leads to physical connection. It can work the other way too! The physical can lead to the emotional. If we ‘minister to our husband’s body,’ Eggerichs says, he will be more inclined to ‘minister to our spirit’. We can gain access to his spirit through physical connection. That’s just true, but, for a variety of reasons, not many are saying it.
 
It’s no secret that men are generally created with a higher need for sex. As wives we don’t need to understand this need, but we do need to honour it.
 
The 30-Day Challenge
I was talking to a friend who years ago her marriage was a mess, they weren’t connecting emotionally or physically and she didn’t know how to bring change. She was encouraged by a friend to pursue her husband for physical connection every day for 30 straight days and see what happened. She was skeptical and felt like it was one more thing added to her long list of to-do’s, but after much prayer she knew she needed to try something. It wasn’t that they had sex everyday, but she committed to pursue him every day for 30 days.
 
She said something changed in their marriage by that commitment. For him, his physical needs were met so he had capacity for more emotional connection. For her, physiologically, her body began to change. She began to enjoy having sex and it no longer felt like a chore, but instead, a gift with all kinds of pleasure she hadn’t experienced before that then she started to crave! It’s been years since she took the challenge, and still she pines for her man with love and passion and their relationship both physically and emotionally is stronger than ever.
 
Before you say this all sounds crazy and maybe even ‘unbiblical’. I would challenge you to read through the entire book of The Song of Solomon and pay attention to the women’s role throughout the book as it describes a married couples sex life. Old Testament Scholar Tremper Longman III describes is like this:

The role of the woman throughout the Song of Solomon is truly astounding, especially in light of its ancient origins. It is the woman, not the man, who is the dominant voice throughout the poems that make up the Song. She is the one who seeks, pursues, initiates. She boldly exclaims her physical attraction [“His abdomen is like a polished ivory tusk, decorated with sapphires...”]. Most English translations hesitate in this verse. The Hebrew is quite erotic, and most translators cannot bring themselves to bring out the obvious meaning.... This is a prelude to their lovemaking. There is no shy, shamed, mechanical movement under the sheets. Rather, the two stand before each other, aroused, feeling no shame, but only joy in each others sexuality.
So, as was the challenge given to the ladies the other night, I challenge you. If you and your husband are feeling disconnected from one another physically, emotionally or spiritually, lack a drive or joy for sex or have a hard time making sex a priority in your marriage, make the first move. Commit to the 30-day sex challenge. You may find it difficult at first but keep going and who knows, you may end up having a little fun along the way!

 
I’m excited to hear how your husbands react to your pursuit. Will your experience be as my friends? You’ll never know if you don’t try.

Pray and ask God for a desire to pursue your husband.
Commit to pursue your husband everyday for 30 days straight.
Be accountable to a friend (I've heard of women planning to commit as a group to this challenge so they can be accountable to one another).
Have fun, and enjoy the process!

 

Pink T-Shirt Day!

I remember the pain of bullying. I had graduated from a Christian elementary school made up of just 200 kids, and then started grade nine at the biggest public high school in my city with over 2000 students. To say I was overwhelmed was an understatement. I had always been a confident girl, but in that environment I was a fish out of water. In vocal class, I would choke on my words and in my nervousness would watch the “cool” girls, wishing they would invite me in. They didn’t, instead they mocked my singing and made fun of me in front of the entire class; making me want to flee and never return.

Every day it continued, except they got meaner and meaner. I would hide in the hallways if I saw them coming and would never use my locker because I was worried they would find me alone. Then the day came when they called me to fight in the locker room. I was petrified. I remember the excited screams of everyone running, yelling “fight, fight”. I no longer felt safe in my school. I don’t remember much after that, except my sister going to get help from a teacher. As much as I was embarrassed that my sister ‘tattled’, I was relieved that it was finally in the open. After months of receiving their cruelty in silence, I felt freedom.

Today is Pink t-shirt Day in Canada (anti-bullying day). I am wearing pink to remind people young and old who are being bullied in silence to bring it to light so it will lose its power. Anti-bullying day is the perfect day to make a change, remind yourself that you are made in the image of God and that you are beautiful and not alone.

My story is not unique; we all have stories of mean girls (maybe you were/are the mean girl). Often it’s subtle actions over and over that make another feel inferior or not good enough. As a mom of three girls it breaks my heart to see how mean girls and boys can be to one another. And it always leaves an awful mark on people.

My daughter loves the song Mean by Taylor Swift, “All your ever gonna be is mean…” I think it brought comfort when she was having a hard time with some girls at school. I had to remind her that God has the power to change hearts, even the hardest. Even though someone is being mean, doesn’t mean they are a mean person. So when my girls come home sad I try to explain, that we only see a snapshot of peoples lives, we don’t know what’s going on in their hearts. Maybe they are scared or sad. Then we commit to pray for each girl by name.  

 
 

I asked a bunch of boys and girls in our neighborhood and our school today why they are wearing pink – and here is what they said:

I am wearing pink because it is the anti-bullying color. We are all wearing pink because everyone's kind of a team. Together we are trying to be nice and kind to each other. Everyone is together!                                                                     M – age 9

I am wearing pink because I hate bullying. It hurts my feelings when girls are mean. Everyone says mean things sometimes, but bullies always try to put other people down. I don’t know why they do it. Maybe they are sad or jealous? I wish the mean girls knew that God made them special so they’d like themselves and wouldn’t compare and put others down.                                                                                                                                                                                               S – age 9

I am wearing pink because it reminds me of love. If you love people, they might love you. We should love our neighbors and our friends and everyone around us.                                                                                                                                    H – age 7

I am wearing pink because bullying is not right, and being nice like helping someone will always make our world a better place. I got bullied today at recess when I was playing a game, and it made me feel sad and frustrated. I don't want anyone to ever feel sad.                                                                                                                                                                Z – age 7

I am wearing pink because people should never be mean to the friends around you.  When people are mean to me I feel left out and I feel sad. I don’t want to ever be a bully. When I’m having a fight with my friend, I can try to figure out what to do. If I can’t figure it out, I can go find a teacher.                                                                                                                                                                                           H – age 7

I am wearing pink because I usually play with my friend but when we were at our secret hideout, my other friend came in and said, “I’m going to punch you in the face”, that made me sad.                                                                                            B – age 5

I am wearing pink it reminds me that you should always love each other instead of bullying. You should never put down others because it’s discouraging and mean to other people who don’t want to be bullied. I wish the older boys and the younger boys don’t have to be so mean all the time.                                                                                                                                                                                                  E – age 9

Today, join with us as we wear pink and we say “NO” to bullying. It’s not going to happen by accident. The change needs to start at home. Let’s guide our kids to show love and kindness to our neighbors and to stand up for injustice. Together we can make a difference.


Little Man's Debut

Giving birth is an amazing, wonderful and agonizingly painful part of bringing life into this world. I have been blessed to do it four times with every labour experience different, yet very much the same. My fourth, however, took the cake on confusing this mama and causing a whole lot of drama!

mary konkin photography

mary konkin photography

Being my fourth term pregnancy, there were already a lot of aches and pains and I was getting braxton hicks on a daily. Then came Saturday. I was contracting every few minutes and they were painful. I know this feeling – or so I thought. I showered, I laid in bed, I tried to relax but nothing was alleviating the pain. Because I delivered my second child at 36 weeks, I was pretty sure I was heading that direction. After all, I was 36 weeks and 5 days and I know what labor feels like, right? By the late evening, the pain was getting intense and I said the words every husband loves to hear, “I think it’s time”.

I got checked into labour and delivery, put on the gown, and prepared myself to walk out with my baby. I wasn’t ready but I know my body - and this baby was ready! With my blue gown on and monitors strapped, I laid back and waited. Nothing was getting worse, but nothing was getting better. Annoying. Finally the nurse comes in and tells me I am extremely dehydrated and they will be giving me an IV to jumpstart my fluids. Cool. I will now deliver the baby AND be hydrated. As I lay there listening to another woman scream for what seemed like hours, the nurse assured me the doctor would be in to check me shortly. Man that woman was in a lot of pain – good thing I don’t scream like that when I deliver! Ha!

It’s now actually hours later and the same woman is still screaming. I, on the other hand, am not. I am uncomfortable at worst. Super annoying. What is taking my body so long to get this started? The doctor finally makes her rounds and opens my little curtain. Yay! This is where she will check me, I will be well on my way to the magic number and be wheeled into a delivery room. Rubber glove on. Hate this part. Done. “So you are dehydrated and this is definitely false labour. We will see you in a few weeks.” I sat in shock for a few moments. So, I go home now? I have become what I was always afraid of – the woman who “thinks” she is in labour but isn’t and is sent home – of course not before wasting everyone’s time and taking up valuable resources. Shame on me! How could I not know this wasn’t labor? This is my fourth child! I was so confused.

The next morning, I got up and felt pretty good – still ashamed – but good. The braxton’s had slowed down and I was ready to rock the day. We had ‘Church in the Park’ that Sunday and I was really looking forward to it. I got the girlies ready in their sundresses and I prepared for the beautiful day. There were times I was uncomfortable standing or sitting on the low lawn chairs, but I was fine! After all, I was weeks away from delivery. I relaxed for the rest of the day but my contractions were not going away. I guess I didn’t drink enough water. So I downed more.

mary konkin photography

mary konkin photography

Evening came and I wanted to rest. I drank another glass of water but the contractions were still there. I couldn’t understand why they weren’t going away. Plus, I was weeks away from delivery and I did not want to go back to the hospital just to embarrass myself again and be sent home – no way! Not this chick. So, I showered. I laid down; again. I slept. I woke around 1AM and decided to shower again because that should relax the braxton’s. I was timing just in case, but some were 3 minutes, some were 20 minutes and others were 45 minutes. Just like they had been for the past few days. Guess this is typical of false labor. And then, in a split second, it all changed. I bent down and I literally felt my baby there. Right there! The pressure was mind-blowing! I turned off the water, stepped out of the shower and realized, I can’t walk or this baby is going to come out! I crawled on my hands and knees to my husband’s side of the bed, “Babe please help me!!!! Call my parents. We have to go!!!!” I cried. What I was thinking for the next 25 minutes was literally only one thing – do not let this baby be born in the car!

I barely got dressed and made my way down to the car. All I knew is that I could feel my baby pushing his hardest to exit my body and I was fighting my hardest to keep him inside. I cried out, “God please! DO NOT let this baby come out!” Not once, but over and over and over.  I am sure my neighbours appreciated the crazy woman screaming outside at 2:45am. Awesome. I barely got myself into the car and then we were off. And when I say we were off, I literally mean we took off – comparable to a jet. I keep screaming for this baby to stay inside! So, my husband gets freaked out and calls 911. He says we are on our way but the baby could be born in the car. I keep screaming. The 911 operator is clearly impressed with the sheer capacity of my lungs. I remember glancing over at the speedometer while deciding whether to push or squeeze and we were a comfortable 180kph. I feel the car slow for a brief moment while my husband takes the exit. There is a semi truck. So my husband does what all husbands would do, he takes the shoulder around the semi at 160kph.

Finally! I see the hospital and my husband flies into the parking lot and jumps out to open my door but I can’t get out – literally. My body will not allow my legs to move. The next few moments seemed a blurry mess. Racing in a wheelchair down the hallways, my water breaking all over me and the hospital floor, and screaming like a madwoman - it was the epitome of chaos! And then, only moments after arriving, our little man came into this big world.

new kid on the block

new kid on the block

All the time I spent worrying about being THAT woman – the one who didn’t know what real labor was like, who wasted everyone’s time, who didn’t know her body - none of that mattered. Everything I didn’t want to do, I did. I was the one who showed up to the hospital and got sent home and I was the one who screamed bloody murder for my neighbourhood, the 911 operator, and the entire two floors of the hospital to hear. The fact is, when you have a baby, there is no time for pride or perfection. Who cares how many times you “think” you are in labor or how you deal with the excruciating pain? Or whether you had an epidural or didn't? Or a cesarean or natural birth? As women, there are times we are incredibly hesitant to let down our guards, forget our expectations, and give ourselves permission to be our perfectly imperfect selves. So mamas, forget the unrealistic ideal and be blessed and know that you are delivering a miraculous baby and HOWEVER that may look, it’s absolutely beautiful!

mary konkin photography

mary konkin photography

mary konkin photography

mary konkin photography