Case’s Birth Story

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We had our FOURTH baby on Sunday! I definitely still haven’t gotten used to the fact that I’m a mom of FOUR. Crazy.

Before time totally gets away from me, I wanted to take a few minutes to document how this little man came into the world.

Okay, where to start…

Last week Wednesday I went in for my 38 week appointment and found out that I was dilated to three centimeters. The week before I’d been at a one, so my body was progressing! After my appointment I started freaking out a little bit because I felt like the baby had dropped a ton, and because of a few other signs my body had given me, I felt like labor was going to happen sooner rather than later.

My main concern was figuring out plans and back-up plans of who would take care of the kids when I went into labor. The plan was to call my mom to come up as soon as we knew it was the real deal, but she lives four hours away, so we needed to have people in place to watch the kids until she got there. We had plenty of people who graciously offered to help, and I know it would have been fine, but knowing how quickly my labors have gone in the past, I was still a little nervous thinking that I might have to wait to go to the hospital until childcare arrived.

I voiced my concerns to my mom, and because she’s one of the most selfless people I know, she dropped everything she had going on and drove up on Wednesday evening to stay with us. Jake had to be out of town overnight the following night for business, so it was a blessing she was there in case anything happened. We made it through Thursday night and Jake returned home on Friday. Later on Friday evening my dad and some good family friends came up to spend the weekend with us. We’d been planning on them coming and had been looking forward to it all summer.

One of the things we wanted to do together was head over to the Minnesota State Fair. So on Saturday morning we got the kids ready and headed to the fairgrounds. We walked all over, ate the delicious greasy fair food, then headed back home for the afternoon to get the kids down for naps.

All the while I couldn’t help but think it would be the perfect weekend to have a baby. Tim and Laurie, our family friends, always jump in to help my parents take care of the kids when they’re staying at the farm, so they know their routine, the kids are comfortable around them, and they are just such a blessing to us. Knowing that there would be four caring adults to watch the kids if we went to the hospital was so reassuring.

Saturday evening Jake and I were sent out on a date, while they all offered to take care of the kiddos. Before we got ready, we went for a run, because you know, just in case my body was ready to go into labor, we thought we’d help it along a little. Then we showered up and headed out to dinner.

On the way I kept praying, “Lord, this seems like the perfect night to have this baby. At least I think so. Will you please help me surrender this to you? Let your will be done!”

Toward the end of dinner, I started to feel mild contractions and proceeded to make a few trips to the bathroom. I was hopeful that something was starting, but tried not to get too excited. We got home, and I was still have mild contractions, but nothing different than what I’d been having the past few days.

Then about a half an hour later we were on the couch watching a football game, and all of the sudden I felt much more of a “real” contraction. It didn’t totally stop me dead in my tracks, but it was definitely more intense than before. We started tracking them, and they started coming every 5 – 7 minutes or so. But then I’d have one three minutes later, and we soon realized that my contraction pattern wasn’t consistent. I figured they’d probably stop in a little while. But they didn’t. They kept going, but kept their irregular pattern.

We didn’t know if we should go to the hospital or not, because they weren’t the “I can’t walk or talk” kind of contractions, but they also were a far cry from Braxton Hicks. During my appointment my doctor had told me that the minute I go into labor I need to rush to the hospital, given my history of only being in labor for a total of 4 hours with the twins. Having that in the back of my mind, we decided to go in and get checked out.

We arrived, and my contractions had gotten slightly worse, but again I wasn’t stopping in my tracks. They checked me, and I was still at a three. At that point, they wanted to monitor me for a while longer to see if the contractions were doing anything. After an hour, I was checked again and still no progress.

I was majorly bummed out, and pretty frustrated because I’ve been in labor before and I knew the type of contractions I was having felt like they were on the way to the real deal. The nurse said they could send me home with some medicine to make me sleep, or they could keep me until 7am, check me again and see if I’d progressed. At that point it was about 1:30am, and I was totally confused and completely exhausted. We were in a tiny triage room, not ideal for being in pain of any kind, and the thought of being cooped up in there until morning was horrifying. I decided I’d rather wait it out at home and see what happened. We walked out to the car, and I continued to have contractions, and they were getting worse. By the time we got home, I was so discouraged. Labor continued to progress, and the contractions were now in full force. They were the can’t walk or talk contractions. But at the same time I was a little scared to return to the hospital, only to be turned away and feel silly again. But we really had no other choice but to go back.

This time they checked me in right away and got me to a room. I had dilated another few centimeters, and it was confirmed that this baby WAS coming! Phew. Thankfully I’d gotten there in time to get an epidural, so after a half an hour of fluids, the anesthesiologist came in and just like my other deliveries, became my instant best friend. Interestingly, my contractions never did get consistent. They followed an irregular pattern, some coming every two minutes, some coming four or seven minutes later, for another hour until I was completely dilated.

Then I felt the pressure to push. The doctor came in, and after pushing through only three contractions, out came baby Case! He was crying already when he was halfway out! I got to snuggle him immediately and do lots of skin to skin. I LOVED that about the hospital I delivered at. They let me have as much time with him as I wanted. In fact, they didn’t take him to get weighed or anything until a couple hours later. It was such a laid back and therapeutic atmosphere. I delivered in the same room we stayed in, which was a beautiful suite, and as soon as possible after delivery they got me soaking in the huge bathtub in my bathroom. It was definitely spa like treatment!

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Case Bry Kuiper was officially born on August 31, 2014 at 6:18am. He weighed 6 lbs 10 oz, making him my biggest baby! We named him Case because we fell in love with the name a couple years ago and had prayed that we’d get to have another boy to use it on. We chose Bry for the middle name, after my dad Brian, who pours unconditional love into us and our kids. We pray that Case will have a humble heart and generous spirit just like his Papa.

It was certainly a weekend to remember. So many highs and memories we’ll treasure forever. From wonderful friends and family supporting us, to meeting our fourth baby, to seeing the sweet expressions on the other kids’ faces when they got to meet Baby Case, it was all so special.

So I guess all that back and forth to the hospital was worth it after all! As was everything else I tried to do to induce labor that day, including the pineapple and glass of wine! 😉

It’s true, I was pretty determined to have this baby last weekend, but I obviously know the Lord knew the timing long before I did. I’m just glad we were on the same page. 🙂

Thank you for all your prayers, support, and kind words as we transition to a family of four. Things are going so well so far, and I know it’s only because of God’s grace and the prayers from all of you. So far Case is a great eater and sleeper and the other kids are SO sweet to him – we’re hoping it sticks!

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Praise God from whom ALL blessings flow!

XOXO,

Amber

 

 

 

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A Letter To My Last Baby, Days Before You’re Born

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My sweet baby boy,

You’ve spent the last several months growing inside me, and it’s now only a matter of days, minutes, or hours until you’ll make it known that you’re ready to enter our world. You consume my thoughts, little one. I think about how excited I am to hear your innocent newborn cry, to know what you look like, to hold you in my arms and to stare at you for hours on end.

I think about rocking you in your nursery, which is ready for you with new paint, new sheets, newborn clothes, and your name hanging in big white letters on your wall. Revealing your precious name is something I’m most excited about. Your daddy and I have actually had it picked out for quite some time now. Soon after we had your brother, we dreamed about the day he’d get to have you, a little partner in crime, and we were certain of what we wanted to call you.

But there is so much more for you than a neatly organized nursery and a carefully chosen name. More importantly, we’ve prepared a home for you to be loved unconditionally in. We are so deeply in love with everything about you already. We’re curious to learn what uniquely wonderful traits you’ll bring to our life, and are confident that they’ll make up the perfect final piece to our family puzzle.

As you get ready to join us, I wanted to give you a little sneak peak into what you’ll be getting yourself into. You see, life is FULL around here, and we’re thrilled to be able to share it with you.

Let me tell you a little about the five of us who are eagerly anticipating your arrival.

{Daddy}

You have one amazing daddy. He works long hours in a high pressure job to provide us with everything we need and more. His job is important to him, but the minute he walks in the door every night, his gaze immediately changes. His top priority is our family, and he will do anything for you. He loves you so much and will probably tell you that at least 10 times a day because he never wants you to question how secure you are in his love. He also can’t wait to make you laugh and joke around with you, which is another thing he’s really good at. I have no doubt that as soon as you’re mobile you’ll be racing your siblings to the door to see who can give daddy a welcome home hug first.

{Big Brother}

Your brother can put up a good fight, but underneath his strong-willed personality is the most tender and loving heart you’ll ever find in a little boy. He talks about “baby brother” all the time, and while sometimes we hear “NO!” associated with your name, we’re confident that once he realizes you’re a BOY and are able to play cars, planes, and trains with him, you’ll be well on your way to a life-long friendship. We know you’ll have your moments when you’ll argue and wrestle and do all the things that brothers do, but we also know that your relationship will go much deeper. We pray that you and your brother will grow to be little boys who love each other, and who love others, and that the bond you share will be that of iron sharpening iron which will connect you through your entire life.

{Big Sister}

Your oldest sister by 7 minutes will shower you with love the moment you come home. She’s a little mommy and will probably bring you more pacifiers and diapers and books in a day than you’ll know what to do with. That little heart of hers is so generous. She’s always looking for ways to take care of her siblings. Her laid back, go with the flow personality is perfect for our busy family and it makes my heart happy to know how much love she’ll show you from day one.

{Big Sister}

Your other sister is a spit fire. She might be the one stealing your pacifiers, diapers, and books. But the good news? I think she only does it because she wants to make you laugh. That’s usually her biggest priority and we’re so thankful she’s been given the gift of a sense of humor. She loves to crack us up, and I’m sure you’ll be her newest target. Her joy is contagious and will probably have you setting records for the youngest baby to flash his first smile.

{Mommy}

Oh little bud. When I think about you I have so many wonderful emotions that flood my heart. You are the last baby we’re planning to have, which means I’ll be going through lots of “lasts” with you. I apologize in advance for the sentimental crying you’ll have to endure, as I process all of those moments with you. But as much as I’m going to mourn going through the baby stage for the last time, there is also so much to be excited about. I’m looking forward to having our team set and am ready to embark on the future and what that means for our family.

But before we get there, I’m going to enjoy every newborn cuddle. I’m excited to have one on one time with you in the middle of the night when your siblings are snug in their beds. I’m excited to bond with you in the early morning hours when I’m half awake and half asleep and I hear your cry telling me you need to eat. I’m excited for the crazy mornings when everyone wakes up and wants mommy’s attention, and how I’ll have to depend on God’s grace to give me the patience and perseverance to meet all of your darling needs.

I’m excited to watch you grow from a helpless babe into a little brother who has so much personality and love to reciprocate to your siblings. I’m excited to learn about your strengths and talents and how I can encourage you to use them to make the world a better place. I’m excited for the privilege it will be to laugh with you and cry with you, to listen when you need me to, and to give advice when you ask for it. I’m excited for these things and so much more.

More than anything, I’m so excited to be called your “mommy” and take care of your little heart. Your life is being entrusted to me, and I promise you beyond a shadow of a doubt that I’ll do everything in my power to love you and take care of you the very best I can. You hold a special place in my heart. You’ll always be my baby.

Love,

Mommy

 

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Preparing For Four Kids Under Three

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetAs I think about going to bed tonight I have so many emotions going through my mind. At midnight I’ll officially be 35 weeks and 6 days pregnant, which was the exact day I gave birth to my twin girls, just 17 months ago. I went into labor around 2:30am, and by 6:35am I had delivered both of them.

Making it through a twin pregnancy was a huge victory, and meeting my precious girls was one of the most surreal moments of my life. Praise the Lord they were healthy and even though they only weighed 4.5 and 4.12, we were able to take them home just two days later.

At that point, Baylen was just 17 months old, as old as the girls are now. My mind spins when I think of how much he’s changed since then, and how little he really was when he welcomed two new siblings. Even though it was a huge adjustment for him, I love that he’ll never remember life without them.

I love that my kids are close in age and I love being a twin mom. I consider it an amazing honor that God chose me to take care of two of His princesses at one time in addition to their older brother. However, I also consider it to be one of the biggest tasks and challenges He’s ever given me. I’ve been stretched and humbled and reminded that this life is not about me, but about Him and how I can bring Him glory by loving my kids day after day, and relying 100% on His grace to be able to do it.

My dream since I was a little girl was to be a mom, and I thank the Lord for giving me the desires of my heart. I am truly grateful for every second, even though a lot of times it’s a lot messier and crazier than I could have ever imagined. I don’t think I ever realized how much I needed the Lord until I became a mom. And at the same time I don’t think I realized how it was possible to love like I love my kids.

As I continue down the homestretch before meeting baby boy, I’ve been trying to get out as much as I can with my kids. I’ve been making precious memories with them that I’ll treasure forever in my heart. I’ve had so many moments amidst the chaos this week when I truly feel like the luckiest woman in the world to get to spend my days with them. I am literally tearing up as I sit here thinking about it. These years are so fleeting and the sweet giggles and crazy tantrums that are my everyday reality are memories I will never regret sharing with them.

In a few weeks, I’ll add another sweetheart and my quiver will be full. I’m beyond excited to meet him, but I’ll admit I’m also a bit nervous about the transition. Since I had such a wild experience last time in the delivery room, I think I’m a bit traumatized and am full of anxiety about how this one will go.

I had a doctor appointment this morning and asked her to check me just so I could know if I was progressing at all, mostly to put my mind at ease. I found out that baby is head down, which was a huge relief. I’m slightly dilated, but not enough to really count, so as of now it looks like he’ll stay put for a bit longer.

I guess I’m sharing all this because I’d love to ask for your prayers. Even though this is my third pregnancy and some might think I have it all down by now, I assure you I do not. I’m honestly feeling a little anxious about everything. I relied on so many of your prayers to get through my twin birth, and I would be beyond grateful if you would join me in praying this sweet baby into the world as well.

Please pray for a smooth delivery, for a healthy baby, and that our transition to a family of six would go as smooth as can be expected. Most of all, please pray that I remember to rely on the Lord through all of it, and remain confident that He will be faithful every step of the way.

The first month I’ll have four kids under three years old, which is bound to be full of all kinds of craziness, but I also know those weeks when we’re welcoming Baby C into our home and family will be some of the most special ones to date.

Thank you, friends. I can’t tell you how much you mean to me, and for all your constant encouragement and support. It is a blessing to have this space to share in the journey of motherhood together!

XOXO,

Amber

I share many more “real life” mom moments on Facebook and Instagram. I’d love for you to follow along on our crazy, not perfect, incredible journey. Follow me on Instagram: (@amberkuiper) and on Facebook (Mommy’s Me Time).

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Maternity Workout Clothes: For Two Fitness

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I’m 35 weeks pregnant – in just a few weeks I’ll get to meet my FOURTH baby! We spent the weekend getting his nursery ready, and I think it’s safe to say we’re ready for him whenever this little mister decides to come!

Thankfully, I’m still feeling great and have been given the go ahead from my doctor to keep working out. {Check out my typical pregnancy and postpartum workout here.} With three kids under three, getting to the gym or outside for a little me time is definitely my sanity at this point!

I’ve been asked by several of you where I get my maternity workout clothes from. To be honest, I haven’t invested a lot of money into them. Mostly because it isn’t easy to find them. Not a lot of stores carry them, and I struggle to fork out the money on expensive workout gear that I’ll only wear for a few months. Therefore, the majority of the clothes I wear to break a sweat are just larger sizes of regular gym shorts and tanks, mostly from the Old Navy and Target clearance racks.

However, I recently learned about a company called For Two Fitness®. They specialize in maternity fitness apparel and are well known among magazines like Shape and Fit Pregnancy, and have even been featured on the Today Show.

They recently selected me to review one of their racerback tanks, and I’m pretty excited to have the chance to tell you all about it.

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Like I said before, I’ve never been convinced that it’s worth it to spend money on maternity workout gear. It seemed like a waste of money and something I could do without considering the the thousands of other things it feels like you need to buy before baby comes.

But I have to admit that since receiving this tank top, I’ve basically been living in it. It is by far one of the most comfortable things I’ve worn during my pregnancies, and I only wish I’d ordered one sooner. IMG_1416

One of the things I love about it is that it’s generously long. I don’t have to worry about it riding up or exposing my belly when I run or do my squats, which is usually something I’m always having to check and pull down when I wear other tops. IMG_1461

I also like that the ruching on the sides and back forms to my body and grows with my bump. I only have a few weeks to go, and I know it will easily fit me until the end. IMG_1439

Perhaps this is the most obvious thing to like, but I’m a huge fan of the adorable wording on the front. They have all sorts of phrases to choose from, but having something on the shirt definitely gets rid of any awkwardness that can occur when people look at your belly and wonder, “Is she or isn’t she?” Plus, I can’t tell you the amount of compliments I get when I wear it. I don’t know about you, but when I’m already feeling huge, I’ll freely take any compliments strangers are willing to give out! IMG_1425

The material is ultra soft, breathable, and wicks sweat away quickly. It truly is one of the most comfortable things in my wardrobe.

If I could go back and purchase one of these in my first pregnancy, I totally would. The only down side is that at $50, the tank top is definitely an investment. But again, having reviewed it and seen the quality for myself, if you know you’re likely going to be pregnant a few times and fitness is a priority for you, it would be worth every penny.

If you get one of these, I know you’ll love it. I would highly recommend grabbing one for yourself, or giving it away as a gift to a mom-to-be in your life. And, For Two Fitness® just happen to have a great deal going on this week for Mommy’s Me Time readers. Read the fine print below for the discount code!

Thanks for taking the time to read my review! Enjoy the rest of your day!

XOXO,

Amber

“Exclusively for Mommy’s Me Time, For Two Fitness® is offering a limited time bonus with your purchase! Simply spend $75 or more on any apparel items, and get a free headband and sleek aluminum water bottle with mini-carabiner, a $25 value*.   To use this offer, add at least $75 worth of merchandise to your cart.  Then, add the headband of your choice to the cart.  At checkout, type “BONUS” in the discount code box. That’s it!  The price of the headband will be deducted and the water bottle will be included for free.”
Offer Details:  May not be combined with other discount codes.  Limit one free headband and water bottle per purchase, while supplies last.  Minimum purchase of $75 required. Returns that void promotions will result in adjustment of refund accordingly.  Returns that bring the dollar value below $75 are no longer eligible for promotion; water bottle and headband must be returned or their value ($25) will be deducted from the issued refund.   Expires midnight Eastern Time on 8/31/14.  For Two Fitness reserves the right to end this promotion early if promotional items are depleted.
For Two Fitness Water BottleFor Two Fitness Headband
 
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Anticipating A New Baby

Processed with VSCOcam with b1 presetI recently had an afternoon to go shopping by myself, without time constraints or the pressure to rush home. The intent of this trip was to get some shopping done for the sweet baby boy who’s getting bigger in my belly each day. Unlike my other pregnancies, all the preparation is being jam packed into the last few weeks. When my doctor told me the other day that she wouldn’t necessarily stop me if I went into labor, I decided it was time to get my act together.

I’ve been so busy taking care of my other kids that this pregnancy has flown by, and all the sudden here I am at 35 weeks, realizing that this babe will be here SOON. VERY SOON. And so, nesting mode has officially commenced!

Anyway, there I was, perusing the baby sections of each store for newborn outfits for my baby boy. Thankfully we’ll be able to reuse the majority of his older brother’s clothes, who was also born in the fall, but I wanted him to have a few things to call his own.

As I was looking at all the tiny clothes, an expecting couple walked up to the same rack. What happened next was priceless. The dad kept picking out things and telling his wife how adorable their baby would look in them. They didn’t know if they were having a boy or girl, because he kept going back and forth between genders, saying, “What if we have a girl? She would look so cute in this! But if we have a boy he’d look so handsome in THIS!”

It was precious. Listening to them talk about their new baby made my heart so happy. I don’t think it was a coincidence that I just happened to overhear their conversation.

Their excitement was contagious. It brought me back to three years ago when we were getting ready to welcome our first baby. I remember being absolutely terrified of the unknowns, specifically the labor and delivery part, but at the same time feeling indescribable emotions of anticipation and eagerness to meet our little boy.

What would he look like? How much would he weigh? Would he be born before or after his due date? Would he have hair? What would his cry sound like? How would he smell? And yes, I certainly thought about how adorable he’d look in the going home outfit we picked out for him.

For those of you who are expecting a baby, whether it’s your first or your fifth, can we all just take a minute and be giddy together about the MIRACLES we’re about to meet?! {Pause for squealing here.}

Sure, there will be lots of sleepless nights and crazy emotions and all the other things that us seasoned moms tend to focus on and warn new moms of. But more importantly? It’s all SO EXCITING!

So don’t worry about tomorrow, and don’t let us veteran moms belittle your excitement. Because the truth is? Meeting a new baby IS one of the BEST things in the whole world!

WE’RE HAVING BABIES!

And OH, what a JOY it will be to meet them!

XOXO,

Amber

I share many more “real life” mom moments on Facebook and Instagram. I’d love for you to follow along on our crazy, not perfect, incredible journey. Follow me on Instagram: (@amberkuiper) and on Facebook (Mommy’s Me Time).

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Realities Of The Third Trimester

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I’m in the middle of the third trimester. Since this is the last time I plan to be pregnant, I wanted to take a few minutes and document what reality is like right now. I experienced these things with my other pregnancies, but it’s amazing how quickly you forget about them after meeting your sweet baby.

I’m considering this a list of reminders to read in the future when my friends and family members are in their third trimesters, so I can empathize with them and cheer them on to the finish line.

Realities Of The Third Trimester

-Most anything you do makes you feel like a turtle who is stuck on its back. Especially getting in and out of bed. Rolling over definitely includes counting to three, usually with a few grunts to get you from A to B.

-Even though you feel HUGE, it’s amazing how many times you forget just how big you are. You frequently send your big belly crashing into the spots you used to fit through, and then have to awkwardly back up and try an alternative route.

-You chow down a few Tums for your nightly bedtime snack.

-When you go to a restaurant, you’re sure to request a seat at a table, for fear of getting your belly stuck in a booth.

-You spend a good chunk of each evening sitting on the couch trying to guess which tiny baby part is protruding out of your stomach.

-Your body pillow has replaced your husband, along with the barricade of other pillows you request him to wedge between parts your body.

-You go from hungry to starving in about 2.5 seconds, but when you eat, it only takes about 2.5 bites to fill your shrunken stomach.

-You might as well drink water or anything else while seated on the toilet, because you’ll be there five minutes later anyway.

-You’ve had to recruit your husband to help you shave your bikini line and paint your toe nails.

-Your baby bump not only serves as a built in shelf, but also a catch-all and is constantly full of crumbs or spills.

-You have CRAZY dreams. About childbirth. About your husband. About the bagel shop that you just have to visit the following morning.

-You sort of dread laughing, coughing, or sneezing for fear of “having an accident.”

-When at all possible, you live in yoga pants or your husband’s gym shorts. Elastic is your best friend.

-You are hormonal. And emotional. And your poor husband deserves an award for putting up with you.

-Your baby is resting on your sciatic nerve, sending a shooting pain down your thigh. By the end of the day you are hobbling around and dragging your leg behind you like dead weight.

-You’ve become a huge fan of drive-thrus, and wish every store had pregnant lady parking. You contemplate begging your doctor for a handicapped parking permit.

-You’re dreaming of a day when you can feel your abs again. The closest thing you’ll have for a while are Braxton Hicks.

-You need to adjust the steering wheel in the car in order to fit behind it.

-You have become a professional squatter who can pick up almost anything with your toes. Bending over is out of the question.

-You get out of breath walking from your car into the house and get completely winded after going up a flight of stairs.

-You can almost taste your favorite wine, and are counting down the days until you can pour yourself a big glass.

-You find yourself thinking about all the unknowns of labor and delivery. It’s scary to have no idea what to expect. It’s one of your first realizations that this whole parenthood thing will have so many elements that are out of your control.

A Few Additional Third Trimester Realities For Expectant Moms Who Also Have Other Kids

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-Every time you help your kids get dressed, you plop on the floor and then need help getting back up.

-Toys remain on the floor until daddy gets home who can pick up them up in half the time you can at this point.

-There are plenty of nights when you deem bath time completely unnecessary because why torture yourself and bend over the tub? The kids aren’t that dirty.

-You miss the days of being pregnant with your first when you could get home from work and take a nap whenever you wanted.

-Getting your toddlers in and out of their cribs is a full body workout.

-You’re confident that changing the diapers of your squirmy tot must be equivalent to wrangling an alligator. You deserve major props (or an extra scoop of ice cream) for doing it a million times a day.

Even though you seriously wonder if your body is capable of expanding any more and you’ve already started Googling home remedies to induce labor, in your heart you know this is temporary, and it will be TOTALLY worth every uncomfortable moment. 

You consider yourself blessed beyond measure that your body gets to be used to form your little miracle.

To those of you nearing the end, hang in there. YOU CAN DO IT!

XOXO,

Amber

I share many more “real life” mom moments on Facebook and Instagram. I’d love for you to follow along on our crazy, not perfect, incredible journey. Follow me on Instagram: (@amberkuiper) and on Facebook (Mommy’s Me Time).

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Why We Take Babymoons

Before we had our first baby, Jake and I decided to take a babymoon. If you aren’t familiar with this term, it’s a vacation that parents-to-be take before the baby is born. At the time, it just sounded like a fun idea, since obviously we had NO clue what we were in for. That trip ended up being amazing in so many ways. It seemed that we had been so busy preparing for the baby that even then we had started to take the focus off of our marriage and onto our sweet baby boy. Having a week to lay in the sun, forget about work, nursery decorating, and all other normal responsibilities gave us time to connect, talk, and just be us. We returned refreshed and ready to embark on the journey of parenthood we’d start a couple months later.

Before the twins were born, we took another babymoon, this time piggybacking it onto a work trip for Jake that I happened to be invited to. It was the first time we’d been away from Baylen for more than a night, and it was so hard. It was great to be with Jake, but difficult leaving a piece of our heart back home. I ended up talking about Bay a little too much. Toward the end of the trip we made a pact to limit the amount we talked about him so that we’d actually focus more time on each other. It was completely necessary and I’m so thankful we had that time before our world would change forever jumping from one baby to three.

When we found out I was pregnant this time, we immediately started conversations about when we’d take our babymoon. Perhaps the most important lesson we’ve learned over the past year and a half is how important it is to prioritize our marriage during parenthood. It sounds so cliche, but when we’re happy, our kids are happy. When we’re connected and on the same page, our kids feel secure. And the truth is, that doesn’t just happen. Their immediate needs often take precedence over “our time” and if we don’t intentionally schedule date nights and little getaways, before we know it we barely know each other anymore.

Last week we took our third babymoon. Yes, we missed our kids like CRAZY. But my goodness was it a treat to spend consolidated time with the man I love. There was time to look him in the eyes for longer than 30 seconds and remember why we fell in love in the first place. There was lots of flirting and hand holding, and sleeping. Lots and lots of sleeping and napping whenever we wanted. And of course some little squabbles along the way as we adjusted to what it was like to interact with just the two of us. I found that I’m so used to leading our kids throughout the day and being in charge, that submitting and trusting Jake’s lead took a little extra work. In a way it sort of felt like a honeymoon again, rediscovering each other in a whole new way. We had great conversations that went beyond our children, and spent time just enjoying the blessing it is to do life together.

We had time to pause and get out of the trenches of everyday life long enough to reflect and remember how blessed we are to have made it through the baby stage with three healthy kids. Life with little kids feels like a constant whirlwind most of the time, so it was so good for us to be still.

If you’re going to be parents for the first, second, third, or tenth time, I can’t recommend a babymoon enough. It doesn’t have to be extravagant or expensive. We’re lucky enough to have lots of hotel points from the travel Jake does for work, so we capitalize on those. Maybe you have family friends who own a lake home, or maybe there’s somewhere local you could go for a staycation. Be creative, but I promise it will be worth every bit of sacrifice. Having the chance to get out of your normal routine and “just be” with the one you love is a beautiful gift you can give to your baby, who will soon take up so much of your attention.

Here are a few highlights from our babymoon! We flew into Boston, drove out to Martha’s Vineyard for the weekend, then spent a couple days in Boston, and a few days in New York City.

The only way to get to Martha’s Vineyard is via ferry or boat. Here we are exiting the ferry onto the island!IMG_1581 We stayed at the Dockside Inn in Oaks Bluff. It was an adorable place across the street from the pier with lots of great restaurants within walking distance. We’d definitely stay there again. IMG_1577IMG_1647The food on the island was fabulous. Lots of fresh seafood and ice cream on every corner. IMG_1586The first night we were there we were, a local tipped us off about a place called Backdoor Donuts. It’s a bakery in Oaks Bluff that opens late night and while they’re making donuts for the next morning, they sell the fresh ones hot off the press. This was THE BEST apple fritter I’ve ever tasted. It was the size of my face! IMG_1593Martha’s Vineyard was gorgeous. Everywhere we looked we were taking in some of the most picturesque views imaginable. We explored the entire island while we were there. It consists of three main towns: Oaks Bluff, Edgartown, and Vineyard Haven. It’s only about 85 square miles, and everything is accessible by public bus rides.IMG_1595photo-26One of the many things we loved about the island is that there wasn’t a chain restaurant to be found. The towns were dotted with quaint cafes with unique items on the menu. My favorite place we went for breakfast was a little place called The Art Cliff Diner in Vineyard Haven. IMG_1601My favorite town to walk through was Edgartown. It was exactly what you’d think of when you think cape cod. Gorgeous homes and an adorable downtown area with high end boutiques. I could get used to this view every morning. IMG_1630IMG_1627IMG_1639IMG_1636IMG_1638We also made the trek out to the far southwest corner of the island that’s filled with acres of trees which hide the homes of billionaires. At the very tip there are these breathtaking cliffs. IMG_1617It was tough leaving Martha’s, but thankfully we still had much of our journey to look forward to. We headed back to Boston where we spent the next two nights. We really just had one full day in Boston, so we seized the day. We started by taking a tour of Samuel Adams Brewery which was a lot of fun. More fun for Jake, who actually got to sample the beers. IMG_1665Then we headed downtown, did a little shopping for Red Sox gear, and went on a Duck Tour of Boston. This one one of my favorite things we did. We were able to see the important highlights of the whole city in about 80 minutes from both land and water. IMG_1680IMG_1678That night, even though they were playing the Twins, we became Red Sox fans for a night and embraced our first experience at Fenway Park. It was a memorable atmosphere and evening, enjoying baseball in the most picture perfect weather we could have wished for. IMG_1684IMG_1688IMG_1691Early the next morning we hopped on the Amtrak bound for New York City. We landed in Times Square just in time for lunch and an afternoon of exploring. IMG_1695We hung around Times Square for most of our trip, enjoying amazing food and shopping. We came out fairly empty handed on the shopping front. Being 7 months pregnant with my last baby deterred me from buying many maternity clothes. I’m holding out for a day soon when I’ll be able to fit in regular sizes again! Nonetheless, window shopping on 5th Ave is always fun. IMG_1712IMG_1814One morning we woke up early and were in the live Good Morning America audience. I was so excited about this. I have it on almost every morning while I feed the kids breakfast. It makes me feel like I still have a clue what’s going on in the world when most of my world revolves around my little people. We got there around 5:45 and surprisingly were the first people there! I guess it paid off because we were on camera! Fun stuff for small town folk!IMG_1744

10492043_10152133390457061_9214305473362698532_nWe ventured to lower Manhattan one afternoon to visit the 9/11 memorial that opened a few months ago. It was humbling and neat to see.IMG_1787The last night we ate at a Tuscan restaurant. It was quiet and romantic and we talked the night away. The food was to die for. I even enjoyed a half glass of wine. The waiter told me it was good medicine. I didn’t take much convincing. IMG_1800IMG_1796More than anything, my favorite thing about our trip was spending time with this handsome guy. I’m so thankful God paired me with this wonderful man and am excited for all that adventures that are in store for us as a family of six.IMG_1705

Have you taken a babymoon? What would you say to parents to be who are thinking about taking one? 

XOXO,

Amber

P.S. A HUGE HUGE HUGE thank you goes out to my parents who took care of our kids while we were gone! We are so blessed by their generosity!

 

 

 

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My Pregnancy & Postpartum Workout

IMG_0851When I was newly pregnant with my first baby, I remember feeling nervous about how my body would respond and change. Working out has always been a priority to me, not only because it helps me to maintain a healthy weight, but more importantly because of how it makes me feel. Exercise is my happy drug. When I’m stressed, it’s the first thing I do. When I’m crabby, it’s likely because I haven’t broken a sweat for a few days.

Since I had been consistently exercising before I became pregnant, my doctor encouraged me to continue doing so. When I asked him if I could keep running, I remember him saying, “Of course…women run marathons when they’re pregnant!” He also told me to listen to my body and that I’d know when I was pushing myself too hard.

I’m thankful all my pregnancies so far have allowed me to continue working out. Even when I was pregnant with the twins I was at the gym up until the day before I delivered. I know many moms aren’t always so lucky and are often put on bed rest, so I’m beyond thankful I was given the green light to be active.

I gained 21 pounds when I was pregnant with my first, and 22 pounds when I was pregnant with the twins (they were born four weeks early). I know the amount of weight women gain while pregnant varies quite a bit, and some of it has to do with genetics. However, I think in a lot of cases we have the ability to control how our bodies will bounce back after we give birth. From my experience, if you’re able to put the time in while pregnant, it makes postpartum recovery a snap.

I’m often asked what I do for a workout while pregnant, so today I thought I’d share that with all of you! I tend to spend the majority of my time targeting my lower body. I happily welcome growth to my tummy and LOVE seeing the bump get bigger by the week, but my lower body is an area I attempt to control. I incorporate my upper body lightly, but keeping my butt and thighs in check is my top priority.

When I’m pregnant, it’s typical for me to get cardio in 3 – 4 times a week, 5 if I’m really feeling motivated. I usually do about 30 – 40 minutes of cardio. Depending on the day, I jog or go on the arc trainer. I LOVE the arc trainer. I set it to the highest incline and it really works the leg muscles.

In addition to cardio, I have a free weight routine that I follow religiously. Whether I make it to the gym or not, this gets done 5 times a week. I find a way to squeeze it in, even if that means it happens after the kids are in bed while Jake and I are watching something on our DVR. I feel SO much better when I take the time to do this. I actually haven’t stopped doing this little routine ever since I was pregnant the first time. It’s great for the butt and thighs no matter if you’re pregnant or not!

What I love about this is that it only takes about 20 minutes. Perfect for all of our busy lives! I made a video for you to walk you through the exercises you’ll find in the routine. Then below I wrote out the routine for you!

Okay, here’s how I lay out my workout. The key is to find weights that feel comfortable to you. Start slow and small, and work your way up as you feel you need to.

photo-15

I swear by this workout. It’s served me well and I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I do.

My changing prego body is a beautiful and miraculous thing, and when I’m able to do my part and take care of it, I’m able to enjoy the journey of transformation!

Disclaimer: Please ask your doctor before working out while pregnant. Keeping that baby safe is always the first priority!

XOXO,

Amber

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My Thoughts On Expecting Baby #4

I broke the news on Facebook and Instagram yesterday, but wanted to write a post to share a little more about how I’m feeling about Baby #4! For those of you who didn’t see the announcement, we’re expecting a fourth baby in September! I’m 14 1/2 weeks along with an official due date of September 12! Kuiper Final FourWe’re so excited to meet this sweet baby. And yes, there’s just one this time! I’m pretty sure the ultrasound tech thought I was crazy for asking her to triple and quadruple check! Since I didn’t find out until 20 weeks that I was having twins after having two previous ultrasounds, it’s a bit of an understatement to say I thought it necessary to do our due diligence. You can bet I’ll be asking them to check again at every appointment. 🙂

When this babe is born, Baylen will still be two for another month, and Emersyn and Mckinley will be 18 months. This means we’ll have a short period where we’ll have four kids under three! To a lot of people this sounds absolutely crazy, but to be honest I couldn’t be more thrilled to have them all so close in age. Sure, it’ll be nuts for a few years, or maybe for the next 20 years, but it’s going to be so special for them to be best buds and interested in a lot of the same things as they grow up. Family vacations are going to be a blast!

We’ve always wanted four kids, and our desire was to have them close together. I just feel so blessed that God thought it was a good plan too. We figure we’re in baby mode right now, so we might as well stay here, embrace the craziness, and then move on to the next phase!

Now that I’m in the second trimester, I’m starting to feel a lot better. It’s obviously not perfect, and some days are still filled with nausea and fatigue, but I am so glad to be moving on toward brighter days. Taking care of three littles while puking and feeling icky is no joke! Thank goodness my kids all take an afternoon nap at the same time so I can sneak in some shut eye when I need it.

With that said, I hope to be back to blogging a little more consistently now that I’m past the first tri. Certain things have had to be pushed to the back burner so I can make time to grow this little human! It took me some time to adjust because I had finally just felt like I was on top of things, and then the sudden tiredness set in, but goodness what a great problem to have. My kids are my priority and every bit of sacrifice is totally worth it!

We are truly over the moon excited for Baby Kuiper #4. We already have a boy name picked out, but per usual, landing on a girl name is always a struggle for us. Good thing we have plenty of time to decide!

Thank you to all of you who have already shown excitement and support for us. We are so blessed to have a community of people around us who pray for us, affirm us, and cheer us on. I thank God often for you!

XOXO,

Amber

 

 

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Exercise & Pregnancy (My Experiences)

Hello and Happy Wednesday to you! A while back someone asked me about my experiences with exercise and pregnancy. I spent some time answering her questions, and found it to be sort of therapeutic to reflect on the 18 months of my life that I’ve been pregnant, and how maintaining an active lifestyle through it benefited me. In case there are any readers out there who are also interested in my pregnancy journeys, here you go!

{36 Weeks with Baylen}IMG_3681

Before I go any further, I want to add a disclaimer. I am, in no way, an expert on this area. I can simply share my personal experiences with you, but sincerely ask that you check with your doctor or health care professional before starting an exercise regimen while you’re pregnant. There are many expectant mothers who are advised against exercise due to health reasons, and taking care of yourself and those precious babes are the first priorities hands down! I’m simply saying if you can work out while pregnant, do it. You won’t regret it!

{30 Weeks with Emersyn & Mckinley}IMG_6980

I think what I’ll do is approach this in a questionnaire format. If there are questions on your mind that I don’t answer, please feel free to leave a comment or email me. I would love to chat with you!

Did you maintain about the same exercise routine during your pregnancy as you did prior to finding out you were expecting? If not how was it different?

In order to maintain an active lifestyle while pregnant, it needs to be something that was already part of your lifestyle before you became pregnant. My doctors told me that when you become pregnant is not a good time to suddenly start an exercise routine if you didn’t already have one in place. It can cause too much stress on your body which could affect the baby. In addition to that, from my experience I’ve learned that it takes a lot of discipline and dedication to work out consistently while pregnant because of the morning sickness, fatigue, aches and pains, ect. If working out wasn’t a priority when I was feeling normal and not pregnant, there’s no way I would have been motivated to work out amidst the many pregnancy symptoms.

What has your typical workout routine for each trimester look like? Or just give a few examples of what you have been doing.

During my singleton pregnancy, I pretty much maintained the same workouts I did before I got pregnant, but tried to make sure I kept my heart rate under 140 beats per minute which was recommended by my doctor. I ran 4 – 5 miles during each workout, and did light weight lifting. During my first trimester I was pretty sick, but tried to do something active even when I was feeling horrible, even if it was just a long walk. I found that when I got out and was active that my morning sickness went away and I felt much better. I’d say it was typical for me to run 3 times a week during my first trimester and walk the other days. During my second trimester, I got a huge burst of energy and was able to run and do free weights about 5 times a week. I kept that up into the third trimester until about 36 weeks when I changed to a mix of jogging/walking which I kept up until I delivered at 39 weeks 4 days.

During my twin pregnancy, I didn’t run as much, but did a lot of low impact cardio because running wasn’t comfortable. Probably the most important thing I’ve learned about exercise and pregnancy is that you really have to listen to your body and do what it needs. If a certain exercise causes a cramp or pain, stop doing it and find something that feels comfortable. If my body needed a nap instead of a workout, I’d take the day off! It didn’t help to beat myself up if I didn’t make it to the gym. The first and most important thing was to take care of those babies! Whenever I worked out my goal was to feel better afterward than before, and that meant I couldn’t push myself as hard as I wanted to some days. During my first trimester with the twins, I did a lot of free weights and not as much cardio because I was SO sick. Being pregnant with twins meant twice the sickness for me. I started to feel better during my second trimester and from then until the day before I delivered I worked out 4 – 5 times a week, doing about 35 – 40 minutes of cardio on the arc trainer followed by free weights. A lot of people pregnant with twins aren’t able to be active because of the high risk pregnancy and many factors that can accompany that, but thankfully I was able to maintain a pretty regular exercise routine.

Are there any specific exercises you’d recommend to women who are pregnant?

Exercises that I’ve done during both pregnancies which have made a huge difference are squats and side kicks. I’d do about 50 – 75 squat and presses with 10 lb weights during each workout, and 50 sidekicks per side. Exercises like those have helped to keep most of the weight I gained in my belly and not on my hips and thighs.

What benefits do you feel like you have gained from maintaining an active life during pregnancy? Any downsides or side effects? 

1. Mentally, it helped me to maintain a sense of normalcy. While my body was changing and growing in ways it never had before, I liked that I could play a part and do my best to take care of it. Knowing that I did all I could during pregnancy to take care of myself helped me post-pregnancy to give myself grace and time to get back to normal instead of beating myself up for “letting myself go” which I’m guessing is what I would have done had I not exercised.

2. The actual labor and delivery is like running a marathon, and I was thankful that I had the stamina and energy to make it through!

3. My weight gain was in the healthy/recommended range. After each pregnancy I didn’t have to worry about losing tons of weight because most of it was necessary and came off within a few weeks after delivery. Since I didn’t have too much to lose, it also seemed attainable to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight, which was extra motivation.

I really haven’t noticed any negative aspects to exercising while pregnant. As long as I listened to my body and gave it breaks when it needed them, everything went smoothly.

How long did you wait after you delivered to start working out again? How did you ease back into it?

Outside of a few leisurely walks with the stroller, I waited the recommended six weeks (for vaginal delivery…not sure what c-section is) to work out until I  was okayed by the doctor and made sure everything healed up properly. I plan to wait the same length this time. That means only three weeks more weeks from today!

With Baylen, I started by doing Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred, because it was something I could easily do at home while he slept. I’m not sure what I’ll do this time around, but since the weather will be nice I’m guessing I’ll start with some power walks/jogs.

If you have been cleared to work out during pregnancy and need a little more motivation , I’ll leave you with a link to an article from Fit Pregnancy to mull over…good stuff! 33 Reasons to Exercise Now

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If you’ve been pregnant, were you able to maintain an active lifestyle? If so, what benefits did you notice? 

What exercises would you recommend to pregnant women? 

If you plan to be pregnant some day, do you think exercise will be a priority for you?

Thanks for hanging in there with me today! As I mentioned before, please let me know if you have additional questions about my experiences with exercise and pregnancy!

Hugs,

Amber

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