Two pumpkin patches in two days

It's pumpkin patch season and we seem to have two pumpkin patches that we like, both of which are becoming traditional. This year we happened to do them both back to back.

First - Dick and Jane's farm (yes, run by married couple, Dick and Jane!) This place is adorable. It's never been busy when we've been. The hayride is on-demand which means this time when we said we wanted a hayride, Jane (of "Dick and Jane") hopped onto her gator and drove to the barn to bring out the hayride tractor just for us. A personal hayride! We love this place. They also have a corn maze (which is small but has just enough twists and turns to feel legit) and a (modestly sized) mountain of hay bales to climb on.

Apparently it was a fantastic year for growing pumpkins so there were lots of fantastic ones to pick from.



Hayride time!






Corn maize!

Team work



Riding home with pumpkins on our heads.












Our second pumpkin patch was one very close to our house. Weber's Cider Mill. This one also has a hayride - shorter l then the other but still a fun little loop. And this one also has a bunch of fun fall activities to enjoy while you are there. Oh and they also have apple cider donuts-yum!


Hayride with our friend (papillon walked into a rose bush - literally - and got a scratch. The bandaid makes it seem MUCH worse than it was. Ha)




Mini tractor rides

It was a beautiful fall day

The big pumpkins!


Call it a Victory

Papillon has been a thumb sucker since basically the day she was born. At some point (maybe 18 months) she became a thumb-sucker-nose-picker.  We've tried to discourage it for years (which it seems is exactly the wrong way to handle such a habit. Oops)

But we decided to give it a conserted  effort to knock out the habit. I did lot I reading and decided to use all the tools I could find all at once.  So we had special thumbs-only band aids...
...new nail polish, gum, lollipops, a penny reward jar where she was saving up for the ultimate trophy. Papillon totally owned it! She worked really hard for two weeks before she received her hard earned prize. 
The original plan was an Elsa dress, but when the moment came she picked Sleeping Beauty.
It's been about 4 weeks now since we started this venture and the habit is certainly not gone. Her thumb slips in when she's tired and distracted. And she still sucks her thumb at night. But it is sooooo much better than it was. And I am very proud of her. And I think she is proud of herself.

We have a sticker chart to keep the incentive up and I am optimistic that before long the day time habit will be gone. Eventually we will address the nighttime part.

For now I am a proud momma and we are calling it a victory!

Triton Jaune's Birth Story: Boasting in my Weakness (Part 5 of 5)

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As wonderful and amazing as his first hours and days of life were, Triton Jaune’s labor was incredibly hard for me. It wasn't long by average standards. 10 hours from first contraction to last; only 5 truly uncomfortable hours.  But afterwards, I didn't feel like super woman. With my other two labors I came away feeling like I could conquer the world and I wanted to tell everyone all about the experience. I feel like this is a very normal post-labor experience for women. It's life changing, in an amazing way!

After Triton's birth, however, my thoughts were very different. I didn't want to tell anyone anything. When asked I would just make general statements that attempted to be positive or at least neutral; like "Water birth is the way to go" or "it was longer than the girls'" or "It was hard, but I was glad I was at a birth center".  I think I may have managed to tell some version of the story to some folks and I am pretty sure those folks were hugely congratulatory and complimentary. But didn’t feel like I deserved it.

I felt like labor had undone me.
I felt like labor was not something I had done; but was something that had happened to me.
I felt like I used to joke "If I ever had to push more than once, I wouldn't be able to do it", and now I knew that was true.
I felt like I had no idea why I had wanted an unmedicated labor.
I felt terrified on behalf of my friends who were expecting in the weeks to come, knowing that if they'd asked me about my experience, I would be forced to tell them horrific things that would make them dread labor.

I felt like I had failed.

I would sit on the sofa, nursing Triton and look at the books about birthing that I have on the shelf, wanting to read them now and figure out where I went wrong. Why was this so hard for me?

Truth be told, I know why this labor was so hard for me. I was not prepared mentally, or physically. I blame last year's miscarriages which is probably at least partially true. But whatever it was, I started this pregnancy majorly stressed and kind of acting on the assumption that it didn't matter what I did (or ate) because this pregnancy, like the others, wouldn't amount to anything; and even if it did, I had been through so much, I deserved to be lazy and eat what I wanted. For 9 months I ate poorly and didn't exercise at all (I can blame the ridiculously cold winter for the lack of exercise, right?). 

I gained 60lbs (which is significantly heavier than the hefty, but normal-for-me, 40-45 that I gained with the girls) and was majorly out of shape. 

Mentally, I was also not prepared. Again, perhaps it was partially the miscarriages and my checked-out mentality because of that. Or perhaps it was because I this was going to be my 3rd labor, and my first 2 were incredibly fast and relatively easy.  Why wouldn't it be quick and (relatively) easy again?  So I didn't prepare. No rereading any of my books on labor. No prepping for the possibility that it would be a long labor. With Papillon's birth, we brought our favorite TV show to watch, and all manner of distracting, time-passing things.  So I think I was undone before things really got going. When the contractions started getting intense, but weren't accelerating rapidly to the end, I had nothing to think about except the next contraction and how much it wasn't going as fast as I had hoped.  So by the time it got really intense, I was already defeated.

By the grace of God, however, I was not actually defeated. By no strength of my own, Triton Jaune made a safe entry into this world. And at the end of the day, as I have been muddling through processing the whole experience, that's been the thing that's stuck with me.  Just as my experience with the miscarriages had taught me that I was not in control of anything; my experience with this labor reinforced for me how God is still in control, even when I have completely lost control. 

I have always loved the verse Phillipians 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength".   But I think, in my pride, I loved the "I can do all things" part more than the strength of Christ part.  I liked the thought that I could do anything. 

Very recently I've come to a deeper appreciation of a different verse. 2 Corintians 12:9 "But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me."

Could it be any more fitting to describe my experience with Triton's labor? I was incredibly weak, utterly spent; and in that weakness, God's power was perfect.   Oh that I would learn to sincerely boast in that weakness.


I don't want to end this (epically long) tale without a nod to my wonderful sister. For a number of reasons I am incredibly grateful that she was there for this labor.  First, her affirmation that Triton's birth was an incredible and amazing thing was very encouraging to me. At least once (and possibly more than once), after Triton was born, I apologized for how crazy that labor was, hoping that she wasn't scarred for life and wishing she had been at a less traumatic birth.  She seemed surprised at these sentiments and said that far from being traumatic (other than the midwife's insistence that she photograph the placenta, haha), she thought it incredible. Her declaration that I did an amazing job was hugely encouraging to me.

Secondly, I am grateful for the pictures that she took. I never thought I wanted labor pictures. And I don't have any of the girls' labors. But, thanks to my sister, I have some wonderful pictures of that day.  I will cherish these pictures.

Triton Jaune's Birth Story: His First Moments (Part 4 of 5)

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Those were some sweet moments in the Birth Center. Mon Amour and my sister, Triton and myself. Just hanging out. Triton was very alert. He loved to nurse. It was pretty much perfect.

Eventually they weighed him (they don't rush these things at the Birth Center). We all took guesses - estimating maybe 8.5 lbs.  When they put him on the scale, they told Mon Amour he needed to be the one to officially make the big announcement.  9lbs, 10.5oz!  And he'd pooped already, so we decided it was fair to round up to 9lbs 11oz.   Officially huge, without breaking the 10lb mark (for some reason, I really really didn't want to have a 10+lb baby...so thanks for not being quite that huge, Triton!)

They tested all his baby reflexes and such and he checked out perfectly. They took his footprints and we discovered he's got his daddy's feet. They were just a smidgen too big for the ink pad! Despite lining his heel up with the bottom of the pad, his big toe is just a bit cut off on the foot print! 

I loved this part of the Birth Center experience. Triton literally never left my sight and rarely left my arms.  He didn't get a bath. He didn't get swaddled in a million blankets such that he would resemble a burrito with a head.  He was just a baby, and he was all mine.

Eventually my sister went home. And Triton fell asleep. And so Mon Amour and I tried to rest. However, even though we were very comfortable and the setting was very peaceful, we felt like we were ready to move onto the next thing. So after a brief rest, the nurses helped me shower. We gathered up our stuff and packed our big-little man into his carseat.

At about 2:30am, we walked out to our car. No need to wait for a wheel chair transport! (We had waited forever for one when we left the hospital with Papillon...hospital policy that you must leave in a wheelchair) I walked slowly, but truly, I felt great!

Some pooping sounds came from Triton as we pulled out, but they sounded mild (boy were we in for a surprise!) so we kept driving. As we drove home on the empty roads in the calm of the night, I felt amazing! I knew I had been uncomfortable during this pregnancy, but I didn't know how uncomfortable until I adjusted myself in my seat in the car on the way home with much more ease then I had for months. Truly I felt better in that moment then I had in a very very long time.

Once we got home, we discovered Triton had managed an epic blow out. Meconium everywhere! Yikes! We cleaned him up, wrapped him up, fed him, and laid him in the pack n' play next to our bed. Then I promptly fell asleep.

I woke up a couple hours later as the sun was just starting to rise. I looked around our bedroom and thought "I feel so great. And so oddly normal" and for half a second, I forgot that Triton had arrived. Being home just felt so normal. I loved it!

Then, I went to get out of bed…and suddenly i felt like I'd been hit by a truck. Every muscle in my body was sore, as if I'd run a marathon...or, more precisely, delivered a 9lb 11oz baby!  But it felt so good to be home that even that felt rather normal; as it might (I would imagine) after running a marathon.
 It was a good, old Ive-worked-hard, kind of ache.

Bringing Triton home was amazing. The transition to having him be part of our family has been so much smoother and joyous than I could have possibly imagined. He's an amazing baby, and I feel like I've known him for much longer than his (currently) 2-month life.  He just is a part of the family and he has already brought us much joy.

Triton Jaune’s Birth Story: A Hard Labor (Part 3 of 5)

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Well, wouldn't you know it, homeopathic remedies do work! We spent that night at my parents again so that we'd be near the birth center just in case. The next day, I wasn't having contractions, but I thought it was possible my water had broken. So I called and asked if I could come in and have it checked before I drove an hour home only to wonder if we should have stayed in town. I figured I was probably wrong though, so we went ahead and packed up as if we were going to leave.

A quick stop at the birth center revealed that, while my water hadn't broken, I was a good 4 cms dilated and in a great place to have a baby that day! The midwives said to go somewhere close and come back when contractions picked up.

We headed back to my parents' house (they were quite surprised to see us!) and settled in to wait for things to start happening. Mon Amour turned on his computer so he could do a little work and I paced/lounged around the house while the contractions started to pick up.

Before long they seemed pretty consistent - 5-6 minutes apart and getting stronger. I interrupted Mon Amour's conference call and we headed off to the Birth Center again. This time, for the real thing. My sister came along to be there for the big event.

I don't remember exactly, but I think I was only about 5 cms when we arrived. They said we could stay, or go and come back later, whichever we preferred. I was feeling terribly indecisive, so Mon Amour decided we should stay.  I believe it was about 3 or 3:30 pm when we officially settled into a room at the birth center.

For a couple hours I bounced around on a birthing ball. Chatting with Mon Amour and my sister between contractions and focusing during contractions. Mon Amour and my sister were doing a lovely job keeping track of the contractions on their handy dandy app, and kept updating me when my stats got more impressive. "Now they are averaging 5mins 36 seconds apart!"

I think a part of me still didn't believe that this was "it" and I don't think I really shifted into 'go-mode'. I felt kind of silly being there, and wasn’t really taking my own pain seriously. This may have been the beginning of my undoing in this labor. I believe being mentally engaged is essential to pain management, and I most certainly was not.

One huge difference about delivering at the birth center vs a hospital is that they actually allow, nay, insist that you to eat and drink. I didn't really feel like eating, but the nurses and midwives kept strongly encouraging me to do so.  Apple juice and trail mix (truthfully, mostly the raisins and M& Ms from it) were my snacks of choice.  At some point I realized something that totally makes sense, but hadn't occur to me until then; when you drink during labor, you also have to pee during labor. Having not drunk anything in my previous labors (ice chips are more obnoxious than they are worth), this was new to me.  Just something random that I learned.

Eventually the contractions were hard enough that the breaks in between felt more like recovery time then rest time. Which is a feeling that I don’t remember with my past pregnancies until the very very end. I don’t know if I realized it then, but looking back, I see how my ability to manage the pain was fading fast. It’s got to be over soon, I started to think. With my previous labors as the pain increased, I figured it was going to be long and it was going to get worse; so I focused and just dealt with each one individually. With this one as the pain got worse, I hoped/assumed it was nearly over and I just wished for the moment when it would shift into overdrive and be done with.  

This seemed like a good time to fill up the pool. Truth be told, I was a little hesitant to get in lest it slow labor down, but I was convinced to get in and I am sure glad I was!  Being in the water was AMAZING!  Where moments before, I was feeling mildly miserable even between contractions, suddenly I felt 100% fine between contractions. In fact, I felt so fine in between contractions, it seemed a little silly to be sitting in the water when I wasn't having a contraction.  The contractions themselves were so much better. In the water it was so much easier to tell what my body was doing. The contractions were very clear and focused rather than being an all over generalized kind of pain.

Despite the amazingness of the water the contractions were getting pretty intense. We asked midwife M to come in a check on me. She sat with me for a while. Again, I don't remember how dilated I was when she checked me, but I suspect I was entering transition because I started to have those thoughts of "I can't do this". And after a contraction I felt like I wanted to cry. At this point, perhaps I should have given my labor coaches permission to use their firm voices and tell me to keep it together. I remember recalling the doula I had at Hibou’s birth snapping at me to “don’t cry”; I hated her for such a ferocious command at the time, but in retrospect, crying at that moment would have been a terrible thing. Control was slipping away from me…

I asked midwife M if she thought it wouldn't be much longer and she used some classic midwife line about "not knowing when, but knowing we were getting closer".  I think I tried to pretend that was encouraging but I knew that was code for "It could still be many hours", and my heart sank.

Shortly there after it really shifted into high gear. Even in the water I could no longer find a comfortable position. I ended up on my hands and knees for most of the contractions. Resting my head on the side of the tub between contractions. Mon Amour kept me well stocked with cool wash rags, which, as with past labors, was just what I needed.

In my previous, lightening fast labors, I recall having a few (perhaps as many as a handful, though probably less) of contractions that felt really and truly 100% excruciating, before I felt the urge to push (and by urge, I mean uncontrollable pushing). Then it was 2 incredible pushes, and - shazam - it was over.

This time around with every terrible contraction I kept waiting for my body to take over and the pushing to just happen! But it wasn't happening. And with each passing contraction I started to panic a little bit more. Why wasn't the pushing just taking over! It was time to push and be done!

At last (and really, not that much later...we were still progressing quickly by normal standards), I thought I felt the hint of a desire to push. So, being desperate to be done, I tried pushing.  This was the first time I felt like pushing was largely voluntary. I could tell it wasn't as effective. The next contraction or two I pushed again, trying to keep it together, though I think I was full on screaming with the contractions at this point. I was ready to be done.

Can you see him? I asked (or perhaps begged)
Not yet, dear; but I know he's coming. (Another thing midwives say to try and be encouraging but that is really a thinly veiled "it could still be a while")

I believe that's the point at which I totally panicked. I needed to be done. In previous labors I had had that moment where you think you are going to die; it's short lived, and you survive. This time I am pretty sure I was actually convinced of it. Between pushing contractions, I wasn’t resting; I couldn't think straight. I just wanted to get away from the pain. If I could have climbed out of that tub and run away from it all, I would have.  A contraction would come again and all I knew was that I needed to get him out right then. I pushed with everything I had; and yes, screaming does make it seem more effective.

3 or 4 pushes later his head was out. The mere seconds (and it was just seconds, I am sure, though it felt much longer) of time between that and when I pushed and his whole body was born were terrible.  I heard someone say "He's here" and all I could think was "They must be lying, because it still hurts".

With the next push, he really was here! Up he came through the water and into my arms and I began to weep with joy and relief. He was here. A moment before I had felt like I was going to die from the pain, now I literally felt like I was going to collapse from happiness. I have no idea what anyone else was doing; I wasn't even really aware of what I was doing I don't think. Holding him felt instinctive; as compulsive as the contractions had been in a way. He was here and I was not letting go. The joy I felt in that moment, like the panic of the moment before, wasn’t just emotional; it was physical. An amazing amazing moment that there really are no words for.   It was 8:41pm

When we first checked into the birth center, the nurse gave me a heads up that after the baby was born, I'd have to move from the pool to the bed. I looked at her like she was crazy and was said "I am assuming I'll have lots of help for that". Remembering back to that shaky exhausted first moment post-birth with the girls, I didn't think there was anyway I was going to be able to manage that without serious help.  Moments after Triton was born, they told me it was time to head to the bed. (It seems they usually let you wait a little longer, but they had a bleeding situation they wanted to look at pretty urgently.) And I have no idea how it actually happened or how much support I really got, but I felt like I floated on a cloud from the pool to the bed. If they'd asked me to fly, I am pretty sure I would have given it a try; I was pretty high on happiness and hormones.

Unfortunately, my hormone high was burst pretty abruptly. The placenta was delivered without too much trouble - though I didn't actually have to push, which is not something I remember having to do previously. And sadly, I had torn pretty badly (only 2nd degree this time); so what followed was an hour and a half of the most unpleasant repair-work ever.   Apparently it was a "creative tear" so the fix up job was not straight forward.  The bleeding also wasn't slowing up like they wanted it too, so they started me on some pitocin. And they couldn't get the IV in me.  The first one missed the vein and left me with a little bruise on the back of my hand. The 2nd one didn't go in right, so I had to hold my arm still while someone held the IV in place so the pitocin would actually drip.

I tried to focus on Triton (who, wonderfully, was still in my arms and was even trying pretty successfully to nurse!). But without the use of my one arm, and as time kept stretching on and on, I was waaaay past the point of being distracted and just wanted it to be over!  Being oh so creative with my outbursts, I am pretty sure I simply repeated "ow" over and over again, occasionally looking and Triton and saying "Momma's tired of being poked".  I really do hate needles. And it didn’t hurt all that bad; the worse part was just that it seemed never ending.

At last it was over and with the help of about a million pillows, I got comfortably settled in with my little man.

Triton Jaune's Birth Story: The Impatience (Part 2 of 5)

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Braxton Hicks continued on and off for the next 10 days. Some days were very uncomfortable, some were wholly unremarkable.  All were emotionally draining. I found myself very impatient and self-pitying. It felt like I had been pregnant for 17 months (we initially learned we were expecting 17 months before. 2 miscarriages and 17 months later, I was still pregnant!) It was hard to find the motivation to do anything at times - all I wanted to do was hold my baby. Nurse him. Kiss him. Be up all night with him (it would be better than being up all night with these contractions!)

Monday, July 14th (our 7th Anniversary) I had my 39 week appointment. At which point, I was told, the midwives were willing to do things to 'help labor along'. At my appointment I was maybe (if they were generous) 2 cm dilated. But the midwife said she didn't think labor was going to happen any time super-soon.  She stripped my membranes (though she said she wasn't able to do a 'good strip'), and gave me a couple options for 'encouraging labor' - everything from a reflexology foot massage to the good ol' Castor Oil Milkshake.

Following the appointment, it being our anniversary, Mon Amour and I went to the mall to enjoy a milkshake and do a little more walking while we discussed the pros and cons of 'encouraging' baby to come sooner rather than later.

As impatient as I was for Triton to arrive, I felt very uncomfortable with any kind of 'encouragement'. Even considering these things felt wrong to me. Previously I was very much of the Baby Will Pick Their Own Birth Day Even if it's Weeks Late, variety. (It's easy to be of that variety when both your babies have been early, and you've had the easiest pregnancies in the world...). So I was a little disappointed in myself for even considering any kind of "encouragement" at 39 weeks. I am a natural child birth momma...it would be a badge of honor to go till 42 weeks, right?!?

Prideful reasons, aside though, I was still uncomfortable with the stronger “encouragements”. One thing God has been teaching me through our journey through miscarriages and then through this pregnancy is that everything happens in God's timing and is wholly in his hands.  Try as we might to get pregnant and have a baby on our schedule, Triton Jaune was evidence that God's timing is best.  And I felt as though drinking a castor oil milkshake and essentially telling Baby it was time to be born, would be like saying "Alright God, you got to pick the month, I'll pick the day".   For that reason, we nixed the Castor Oil milkshake option.

That being said, I was skeptical that the homeopathic remedies that the midwife recommended were really going to do anything.  She had said they would help if your body was ready and would do nothing if it wasn't time. I truly figured they'd do nothing. So why not give them a try.  Then we could feel like we had something to do…but really, we weren’t doing anything, right?

Triton Jaune's Birth Story: The False Alarm (Part 1 of 5)

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Triton Jaune's birth story begins 10 days before his actual birth day.
No, I wasn't actually in labor for 10 days.
Yes, I am now one of those people who went to the birth center, convinced that it was the 'real thing' and got sent home.

It's my third labor! You'd think I would know what I was looking for.  But here's how it went.

For a while even before our false alarm trip to the birth center, I'd been having Braxton Hicks. Lots of them. I never had any significant Braxton Hicks with the girls, so this new for me. Between that and the fact that Hibou came so early, I started thinking (perhaps even assuming) that Triton would come early.  I was even anxious he’d come too early. If he’s arrived before 37 weeks, we wouldn’t be able to deliver at the Birth Center like we hoped.

But, despite the ongoing Braxton Hicks (that didn't hurt a ton, but were uncomfortable enough to wake me up multiple times a night), we made it safely past the 37 week mark.

July 4th we had company over, and when I had to excuse myself to lie on the sofa because the contractions were getting intense, I was having flashbacks to Papillon's birth day, when I was similarly distracted from our company. Perhaps today would be the day!  But no. I went to bed and by morning, they were gone.

Saturday, July 5th we decided to keep ourselves busy in order to prevent just sitting around waiting for baby.  We went to the science center, played around the harbor, enjoyed some Starbucks, and explored the Wegmans (which is like a field trip in and of itself).  By the end of that fun day, the contractions were back. They were not too intense, but definitely unignorable and timeable.  They were 5-7 minutes apart and had been for some time.

Take a shower, drink some water, and lay down to see what happens, the midwife said.
I did that.
Still 5-7 minutes apart about an hour later.
Midwife said I could wait it out, or come in.

Since we live an hour from the birth center and my labors have a history of going from zero to sixty in no time flat, we opted to go in.

It seems that what taking a hot shower, drinking cold water and putting my feet up failed to do, walking into the Birth Center did with ease.  As soon as we arrived, contractions eased up and spaced out.  We went out to dinner, paced around a shopping center and came back for another check before deciding it was not going to happen that day.

At this point, I was really grateful that I was at the Birth Center. At a hospital, I'm pretty sure they would have rolled their eyes at me and turned me away without a second thought. The midwives took my false alarm seriously; if I thought I was really in labor, they were going to believe me unless it was proven otherwise. I truly appreciated their support and the way they didn't just assume that I was over reacting.

But, at the end of the day, it was a false alarm. We went back to my parents’ for the night. The next day, feeling exceptionally stupid for now being "one of those people" who had a false labor alarm, I was determined to walk the baby out! Mon Amour and I went for an epic walk! I hadn't exercised much at all during this pregnancy (note to self: next time, exercise! Even if it's the coldest, snowiest winter in 100 years…which it nearly was), and by this point, walking 3 or 4 blocks was pretty tiring. But we walked a solid 2 miles at a decent clip.   Our efforts were for naught. It was going to be 10 more days before Triton arrived.