Monday, December 19, 2011

around this time..

Around this time last year I was spending time with my friend in Iowa.

Playing with her 2-yr old boy
And talking life, marraige, Christ in us, breastfeeding, homemaking, and the fact that I was feeling different. And didn't know why.

Which led to a suggestion from this friend that I take a pregnancy test, which I laughed off and dismissed:)

To which she replied, "no, really" and "I'm hoping to be preggo with #2 so I'll take one soon, too!"

We ended our time together with the question "wouldn't it be hilarious if we are BOTH preggo right now, and don't know it?!"

And around this time last year I went back to Albuquerque, waited several days, took a test, called her, told her the news, told HER to take a test, she called me back, with the same news. And all we could do was grin:)

Here we are THIS year, both with two beautiful baby girls, born 10 days apart, reflecting on just how much joy, life, and beauty God has brought us this year. A chapter in our life that was only a hint of an idea in our minds not long ago:)

Steph & I halfway through our pregnancies:)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

owl love you forever

This sweet baby has been showered with gifts long before and especially since her arrival. Many of them share a common theme....

two owl/nest themed baby showers
owl spoon fork set
owl onesie stickers to take her picture each month as she grows
owl pillow/bedset (one of the animals in her forest friends set)
owl sweater, outfits, soft soled shoes
skip-hop collection of owl stroller toys and soft book
handmade owl frame
handmade owl print bag & lovey
owl gift bags
owl stuffed animal
owl crocheted hat
owl backback


One day when she was only a few weeks old we said, we should just call her "Owlive" :)

annnd, Sam laughed and then quickly told me we had enough owl stuff. no more allowed. buttt they just keep showing up:) and I'm still caught eyeing them when we're out and about. hehe

so. darn. cute.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

winter in july

Have you ever been woken up by the cold breeze of your own heart?

Photo credit:

There are times I feel I'm in a slumber spiritually. In my slumber-land I'm too busy trying that I miss out on the experience of God's presence and peace.
The result: a cold, calloused heart.

Just came across this excerpt from my journal in July. I happen to be in a similar place on this cold November day. After a couple weeks of going my own way, I'm weary, but my cold heart has me running to everyone and everything but Him. Funny how He won't allow rest in my soul until I surrender.

I know a man's soul is deep waters and I've not let you search my heart much lately! I feel I could break (maybe not a bad thing) if I were to face it in the mirror and let you shine your light on all my brokenness and sin. But you have to, you just have to, lest I be ruined by the false mask of self-sufficiency. Ruin me that I might live for you fully. From Bebo Norman's song, "Take my heart, I lift it up. I have not the strength to praise you near enough...but I am nothing, I have nothing without You."

Only you know where to start...break this callous heart...

The answer to my cold heart is the touch of a warm, loving Savior. He is gracious enough to wake me with it. Tender, warm, inviting. The touch of God.

Are you living fully awake today? How are you in need of His touch?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

to our olive jolie

Shane & Shane: The One You Need

Sam wants to learn this on guitar. What a sweet depiction of the daddy-daughter relationship. Our fave worship leaders capture a message here that will never get old for Olive. It's a message Sam comes back to for me time and time again. It's for all of us.

Monday, October 3, 2011

the womb

I had the privilege of carrying our baby girl in my womb for 39 weeks. To feel her all snuggled in there, little (and big) kicks and movements at different times. Silence (rarely) at other times. But cozy, warm and bundled up inside me she grew. and grew. and grew.

And now, daddy gets to experience a taste
of that goodness.

They call it the Maya wrap or ring sling, we
call it "the womb"

Cause once she's in, it's lights out baby. Nigh-night baby. She-gone!
It's like she's instantly back in that familiar

Mama wears it sometimes...

Daddy has been wearing her this way since the beginning...

But the cradle position is on its way out as all things in infancy... Baby's a growin' and she likes this position a little less each day as she stretches out and discovers the light and color of her new world . She's moving further and further away from that cramped, dark world of mama's womb and therefore "the womb" wrap. Bittersweet. Thankfully we get to baby-wear a lot longer in other positions as she grows. The bond between us grows as we get to hold her close all the day long.

With the way she's holding that head up and gaining more head control each day, I think we'll soon be using the on-the-hip version of the Maya for hanging out and nursing on the go. I love that you can nurse discretely in it that way.

But for now we're cherishing the last of the newborn stage...and especially "the womb"

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

birth story

Herein lies the story of how our precious Olive Jolie entered the world just shy of 3 weeks ago. Although the birth was not the story we planned, it is still an amazing story of God's goodness and mercy! And to process it here, bare before you friends and family, brings healing to the disappointments in my heart and focuses my mind on thanksgiving and gratitude to my King. I know I didn't get to blog throughout this pregnancy, but as many of you heard through my facebook posts or in my voice, I was filled with awe and wonder most every day I carried this miracle of a baby and felt her grow within me. Her grand entrance was no different, you just can't describe in words the awesomeness of your child coming forth from your womb into the world! I'm going to go into lots of detail so I can remember all this, but feel free to skip over the ins and outs I share here and read what interests you!

Here goes......

It was the night/early morning of A
ugust 10. Exactly one week before my "date". I really wasn't expecting to go early with my first baby and tried not to get my hopes up (I even avoided packing my bags, which was dumb by the way). But upon waking to pee for the up-teenth time, my waters broke all over the bed and down the stairs to the bathroom. And it was pretty undeniable that this was "it" since I gushed (although I still asked "Could I have lost control and peed myself?") and then leaked and leaked more fluid so that each time I tried to lay back down to get rest, I would soak the bed!

No, no more sleep. From 3:30 a.m. on I was up, trying to stay cool and calm and focus on my affirmations. I wasn't having consist
ent contractions yet so it was more of that period crampy feeling, same that I had the couple weeks prior. I tried to give Sam some peace to sleep since his alarm was set for 5:15 to see patients at 7:00. Well, that never happened! Within a couple hours of the waters breaking, I was timing pressure waves at 4 mins apart and talking with our doula about when it was right for us to go in to St. Elizabeths, since we live 45 mins away. Our doula encouraged us to cancel morning patients and get our stuff together to leave soon thereafter. At around 9:00, I slowed to 5-6 minutes apart (prob cause I was focusing on packing instead of resting!), so I laid and listened to my hypnobabies tracks on the ipod, and within 30 minutes we were back to 3-4 minutes apart. We hopped in the van and headed out to St. E's around 10:00.
From 11:00 to 5:00 we labored in
our room freely, getting in many positions and yoga-breathing through pressure waves. I was checked immediately by the midwife (one of my midwives partners) who said I was only at 1 cm. I remember being a little disappointed...Evidently she hadn't read our birth preferences yet which said we didn't want to be checked and told how dilated I was over and over (unless I asked) because I didn't want to get anxious/hyper-focused on the number:) From there we were consistently having intense waves, 2 mins apart, and things seemed to be progressing well. My doula and Sam took turns helping me with the back labor I was having due to the baby being posterior. I remember sitting upright in the rocker and laying on the birthing ball while she pushed on my back. We went for a brisk walk where she guided me (must have looked hilarious walking that fast with my eyes closed holding on to someone else!) We didn't rush to call in the midwife because we seemed to be getting along well and she would be heading our way at 5:00 anyway. And we weren't wanting to check me too often because of the risk of infection with the waters broken.

I remember being surprised at h
ow often I had to pee and how often I would leak more fluid. I don't know why it bothered me, maybe because it was so difficult to change positions (it would bring on a pressure wave) and especially to get on the toilet and have a contraction come on. I remember toward the end of the afternoon I had been up since 3:30 and felt a bit tired and concerned knowing I couldn't stay in this phase forever and keep up my endurance. Sam, by the way, was an awesome advocate and encourager through it all. Poor guy, I shushed him when he tried to talk to me during a wave ("shhhh! not now!") I had to use all my concentration to breathe and make low noises like "oommmm" or "aaahh". But he was so sweet to comfort and put a wet washcloth on my head at the right times, touching me gently and speaking about how well I was doing.

So, the midwife on call comes in at
5:00 (not my planned midwife but one I had seen for appts. several times) She checked me for the first time since Carol had checked at 11:00. And sat down to talk to us gently. This was where things started to get hard... She expressed that she knew I didn't want to know numbers, but that she had checked me and I had not progressed (what?) ...and she didn't know why considering that my contractions were very strong and real and close together. She knew we wanted to consider all natural options first so she suggested doing some nipple stimulation and left and came back and had us try a couple times over the course of an hour or so. Then she walked me briskly around the unit again as my doula had earlier. And checked again. No progress. My heart was fragile at this point. She said we needed to start talking other options, not that she was quick to jump to anything but that we did need to consider why I wasn't progressing and what to do about it. That news mixed with the exhaustion from a day of laboring was enough to make me shed some tears. When the waters break first (only 10% of women) it makes for a harder labor as there is no cushion left. Not to mention baby was posterior (and big, come to find out) The next step was to put a monitor in so the midwife could watch the peaks and measure the strength of the contractions. What she found was that the contractions that I felt as hard were for some reason not enough to dilate my cervix. I just remember being shocked and sad. Still a 1? So much for not hyperfocusing on the number. We had to think about numbers. And the 9 more we had to go after a whole day of laboring.

So the options were now, straight to a c-section or trying pitocin to dilate me. They did have to consider how long it had been s
ince the waters broke. But we still had time. We were so torn. Neither? Wait, that wasn't one of the options. Everyone left the room to let us talk privately. And I remember crying to Sam and just telling him that I was so sorry and felt so bad, but that I really didn't think I could go into another night of contractions on pitocin which would make them harder and stronger. It was now 9:00 at night and I had been up since my water broke at 3:00 a.m. And the contractions had been hard to work through for how many hours now? And to be honest, knowing that I was still starting from the beginning was not motivating. I promised not to focus on numbers, but that went out the window by now...a 1? and I'm still starting from the beginning without sleep and it will get harder through the night? I was so sad to say it, but I just had to be real.

If we went straight to c-section, I knew I'd have regrets. And for surgery, they would have to give an epidural or spinal tap anyway, so
we opted to try the pitocin with the epidural so I could rest and hopefully push when it came time. Everything was done by 11:00 pm. But now I had to be monitored every half hour. Rest from contractions? Yes. Amazing. But still no sleep. Check blood pressure and flip me from side to side every half hour. And now I couldn't eats or drinks except some ice chips.

But good news came through the night
. She tried to check me only every 2 hours. And each time, I was dilated a couple more cm. And I remember having the sweetest nurse, she was so encouraging. It was about a cm an hour and that continued till I was nearing 10 cm at probably 10 a.m. Shift change. My original midwife, Joanne, came in for a couple hours to help the other midwife on call. Things looked at this point like we'll get to the pushing stage soon. She put me in a couple positions to get the last little piece of cervix out of the way. One of them helped, but one made me go backwards a little. So we waited to push, and she put me back in a good position. Then it was time to try to push. Right before, Joanne warned me she still had concerns about baby's position, etc and needed me to prepare myself for the possibilities of the cesearean. I felt peace. I remember praying right then with my ipod playing softly and saying, "God, we're going to do this last bit that we can, but ultimately I surrender to you. Either it will happen or it won't and either way you're good."

We had come this far and it was worth seeing it through. She told me how to push, as gently as possible and she knew we had to a
void raising my blood pressure or pushing with my head since I was at risk for a brain hemorrhage. That became pretty difficult but sensation was starting to come back so I tried to focus my attention and lowest of low groans on where her fingers were. She could only stay for the first hour, no! We were moving the baby but just millimeters. Sam saw lots of hair. That made us think we could do this!!! The second hour it was the doula, nurse and Sam helping. And another midwife at the very end. And then the final pushing. Everyone in the room, a gentle vacuum (our final intervention and shot at a vaginal birth) and all my might and effort. ANnnnnnnd....still visible hair, but no baby. We later found out she was not only posterior but military posed (head wouldn't tuck) And that was that. It was time to take her. 33 hours after the waters had broken. I knew it. Everyone knew it. And we just wanted our baby here safe. I had done everything I could and I remember thinking and saying that several times, and truly believing it in my heart. It was okay.

I couldn't open my eyes, all sensation was back and I was working through a headache from pushing and not eating/drinking for so long. And I remember being SO HOT! I just craved cold water. But I couldn't have it quite yet!

They prepped me and at 2:14 p.m. August 11, 2011 Olive came out 8 lbs, 7 oz, 21 inches long, screaming. Sam and I quick looked at each other with tears in our eyes and then he was gone....daddy was right there to hold her and put her on the table and rub in her vernix. And the nurses said, "Daddy, do you wanna announce the gender?" And he said was surprise in his voice the sweet words. "It's a...Guuurrl!" And I could look over and see mostly adults but a little bit of the baby. Nurses were saying things like "She's a big girl!" and "Wow, look at all that hair!" I just cried and cried. and tried to sneak peaks of her now that I could open my eyes again. Then Sam brought her over and we nuzzled skin on skin and out to recovery. Then more skin on skin, her on my chest and straight to the breast! She kept licking her lips and looking for it (not surprising now that we know how big of an eater she is!) She latched perfectly. And we were heads over heals in love from that point on.

We are so thankful to have our healthy baby girl here! God knows we wanted a natural birth and I believe He'll give us that as we learn more and seek some alternatives for next time. But this is the time we can be thankful fo
r modern medicine. Daddy has been working on her spine, especially the cervicals that were jammed again and again for many hours. We made lots of efforts to be healthy while she was in utero and the nurses even commented on how well I must have eaten (and supplemented) while pregnant. She is a strong strong girl who likes to box with her little arms and kick her little legs. It makes sense since she was so active in the belly from 16 weeks on!

Psalm 128:3
Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table.

We love you and welcome you into our family, Olive Jolie!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

They're ready!

I am so so pleased with how our {first} maternity photo session went! Yes, I say first because we are doing it in two parts. The plan was to take photos when I go back to Illinois at like 32-33 weeks. But we've for sure decided that Sam will stay back in Nebraska while I go for showers and a visit, so we had to do some early with him in them:) They are just beautiful.

I'm so thankful for sweet friend, Tracy, who came all the way here from IL in her little black Vibe with all her photography gear ready to work. She even painted our main floor while she was here and helped us cook and catch up after a crazy few months. What a friend! And when it comes to her photos, they capture the treasured moments so so well. I love her photojournalistic style and pure talent (and for all you Illinois family and friends, she is only a phone call away if you'd like to get some photos taken!) I described to her a vision I had for capturing the beauty of pregnancy with lots of skin and sun shining through sheer clothing. She, however, knew how to make it HAPPEN. Go seeeee!

To log on and begin:

Go to: “

Select: “Enter Client Gallery

Select: “Sam+Libby | Maternity"

Password (*Cap Sensitive): "OertelMaternity25weeksSL"

Saturday, April 30, 2011

6 months preggo!

So, it's blog-official! We're pregnant with baby "O", due Aug 17th (we just say August). Where did the past 6 months GO??! We have had so many simultaneous transitions and adventures lately that I have not been able to catch many of you up on the details of the pregnancy and journey to parenthood. We didn't go public with the news until a few days after the move and by then we had hit the ground running in our new community and clinic! I can't tell you how fun it has been to experience this most spectacular event. I am completely in awe that I get to be part of God's {creation process} in a way...and have this new life, this precious spirit and body, growing in my belly.

I am overwhelmed with details I *could* share abo
ut the past 6 months, but I might have to spread those posts out over time and just give you a few pictures of our growing baby for now. Short and sweet is all I've got or I will NEVER even get pictures to all you family members and friends that don't see them on facebook. I will try to post more often with longer ramblings, though I'm not allowing myself to feel an expectation to do that with as crazy as life is right now!

*I was sick for a few weeks in the first trimester but thankfully felt like eating again by around week 10/11 just in time to help pack and move.
*We have a terrific midwife attending the
birth and giving our prenatal care, Joann. She was actually the first certified midwife in the area 20 years ago! So she has delivered many babies at St. Elizabeth's where we will be. And we chose her and the birthing center since they have a much lower rate of interventions and truly respect the family's decisions and birthing choices. We toured and it was great to see the birthing stool, birthing ball, jet tub, etc. We have options and will not be encouraged to be in the bed or restricted, which is comforting.
*First movement felt was at week 14. It was a persistent "tapping" in the same spot in the middle of the night. After that I didn't feel much u
ntil week 16. Since then I feel movement and kicks all the time! They continue to get stronger and even surprise me sometimes. We definitely have a very active baby.
*At 24.5 weeks I am feeling really good overall
, just starting to get some of the tummy twangs when in different positions like bending or sleeping. Trying to learn to keep a pillow between my legs at night!
*2 weeks ago we started a 12 week series of birthing clas
ses with a doula who has worked closely with our midwife. It's really fun and we're learning so much! She covers everything in the 12 weeks whereas the hospitals offer separate topical classes. We're getting natural birthing/comfort measures, infant care for at least the first 8 weeks, breastfeeding, etc. We also plan to get some training specific to hypnobirthing and practice with CD's at home.
*I've recently started on my book list (a little befor
e bed since all our waking hours have been packed full!) with Ina May's Guide to Childbirth. Reading positive birth stories has been really encouraging and certainly has opened my eyes to different women's experiences. I plan to continue reading and focusing on getting prepared these next few months!
*We decided to wait and be surprised by the gender when we meet the baby...which has been building the anticipation for sure! Sam and my midwife talked me into that, and I'm so glad they did. Do you have a guess, boy or girl?

Okay, here are some photos!Just found out! 5 weeks
Starting to grow-16 weeks
Showing in tight shirts only-18 weeks
All of a sudden obviously preggo! 22 weeks

Me and dear friend, Steph! She's 22 weeks and I'm 23 here.

More to come! My photographer friend will be here next week to take professional photos of our little fam:) Can't wait to share them with you all!
Love and Blessings, Sam, Libby and Baby

Monday, January 3, 2011

new years eve: hot pot

Hot pot (Chinese: 火鍋; pinyin: huǒ guō), less commonly Chinese fondue or steamboat, refers to several East Asian varieties of stew, consisting of a simmering metal pot of stock at the center of the dining table. While the hot pot is kept simmering, ingredients are placed into the pot and are cooked at the table. Typical hot pot dishes include thinly sliced meat, leafy vegetables, mushrooms, wontons, egg dumplings, and seafood. The cooked food is usually eaten with a dipping sauce. In many areas, hot pot meals are often eaten in the winter.

We got to share in Ruth's traditional hot pot meal for New Year's Eve!

We're both a little unsure...
Going for it...
So GOOD, I want more!!!
Ruth gets a bite finally after throwing in food for the rest of us:)Food coma and cuddles!

Thanks Ruth for sharing your photography and cooking skills with us! What a wonderful way to bring in 2011:)

one lively christmas surprise

Our first pup! Max, a one-year old miniature poodle from the rescue shelter.
He loves having a family to care for him, and we love our newest cuddle bug.

Photos and puppy's trendy jacket courtesy of Ruth from gracelaced :)