3 Under 3: One Week In

It's been one week since we entered the hospital and left two days later with a tiny six-pound bundle of cuteness.

And lemme tell ya somethin'...

This whole "3 Under 3" club is no joke. Especially while trying to recover from childbirth.
Family of 5
Sometimes -- even in the crazy moments like today during our first trip to the grocery store as a family of five -- I still pinch myself; it's hard to believe how quickly our lives have changed since our baby girl's birthday.
How grateful I am for her little life.

But let's be real. I'm also mega grateful Chris has four weeks off work.


Because things right now are slightly overwhelming.

Our 2-year old has become a master protester of anything sleep-related. In fact, she loves throwing books and kicking and screaming instead. Our 1-year old has enough snot to make us consider buying stock in Kleenex and nasal spray; and our teensy little one-week old eats every two hours around the clock.

And when none of that is happening, we're washing bottles and sippy cups, we're changing diapers and folding attempting to do 2390843 loads of laundry and make sure everyone is fed and surviving.

Still, a weird [and sometimes very small] part of me wouldn't trade the chaos and messiness of this season for the world.

You see, I look back at our marriage and the struggles we had with infertility and building our family, and I'm grateful for weathering those storms because they've prepared us for today; without 'em, we wouldn't be here.

Are these days hard and exhausting? Absolutely. Is our patience tested? More times than we can count.

But man, we are blessed. So, so blessed.


Our Journey To Addison

Childbirth After Infertility We were running late as usual.

My pregnant-bellied self waddled down the steps and glared at my hubby who [I swear] was standing in the kitchen loudly crunching spoonfuls of Honey Nut Cheerios in s l o w - m o t i o n.

"I'M LEAVING," I yelled with my heart pounding, trying to catch my breath.

I was nervous as hell.

I was emotional.

I was terrified at what was about to happen to my body. To my baby girl. To the unexpected miracle that had been growing and kicking and tumbling inside of me for nearly nine months.

Reluctantly, I hauled our overnight bag to the car and slammed the door while I waited for my husband to finish that [damn] bowl of Cheerios.

By the time he got to the car, I had nearly shut down. Tears were rolling down my face.

Part of me didn't want to do it. Yet, the other part of me wanted to get it over with so badly.

It was raining, dark and a bit foggy on our way to the hospital at 7:00 a.m.

My sister texted me, "Take a deep breath. Everything will be OK. He's as nervous as you are, just in a different way." 

Chris and I hardly said a word to each other during the 20-minute drive to the hospital. I was crippled in fear with the unknown. And my mind was racing faster than he was weaving in and out of the morning commuter traffic on the interstate.

He pulled into the hospital's parking ramp, whipped into an empty spot and shut off the car. I watched him take the keys out of the ignition, and then it hit me like a ton of bricks.

There was no turning back. 

We walked through the dark parking garage juggling our pillows and overnight bag.

The doors automatically opened into the hospital where we hopped on the elevator.

"Third floor?" Chris asked me.

I grabbed my sheet of paper with instructions for induction day. My hands were shaking.


The elevator rang at our arrival, and its metal doors slid open. We made our way through the cold hallways to the front desk of Labor and Delivery where I signed paperwork through my blurry, tired eyes.

Then a woman taped a white hospital band on my left wrist with a bar code that would identify me for the next two days and said, "Follow me."

Suddenly my grudge from that bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios was gone. I looked at my husband with worried eyes. He gently put his arm around my back as we nervously entered room #3006.

A nurse was untangling cords near the hospital bed I'd call home for the next 15-hours.

"Hi, I'm Lisa!" she greeted us with a smile.

Whew, she seemed nice. And happy to see us. 

My stomach churned as she guided me to the bathroom and gave me instructions to undress and change into a light blue cotton hospital gown.

"Just leave the back open," she said as she shut the door. I changed into my hospital swag and left my humility behind in that bathroom.

As I climbed into the hospital bed, I looked at Chris. My chin started quivering and tears started rolling out of my eyes.

This was it. 

Lisa looked over and saw me blubbering.

"I'm so sorry," I said. "I'm already a mess, and we haven't even started yet."

And bless her heart; this nurse who by most accounts was a complete stranger moments earlier handed me a box of Kleenex, put her hand on my wrist and reassured me everything was going to be okay.

"I'm just gonna give you guys a few minutes, okay? It's all good. This is a big day and there's a lot going on, so I'm just gonna give you a little bit of time, and I'll be right back." 

She walked out of the room, and we both cried.

"You can do this," Chris said.

I was so scared. He knew that. In fact, he's the only person who understood the deep anxieties that seeped their way into my heart during pregnancy; years of struggling with infertility and believing your body is broken will do that to you, you know? It'll make you question your capabilities as a woman, and it will try to rob you from the joy of growing and a giving birth to a baby.

"You've got this. We're gonna get through this, just like we get through everything else together," Chris said as he held my hand.

I took a deep breath, and when I exhaled Lisa walked in.
Childbirth Story Pitocin
A few minutes later, Pitocin was dripping into my veins from an IV.

As the day passed and my contractions got stronger, I began focusing on my breathing. I got easily discouraged when my doctor told me I hadn't progressed much after hours of Pitocin.

Please don't be stubborn like your momma, I silently prayed to my baby girl.

My doctor inserted a Foley ball catheter; a few hours later she broke my water, and things started moving along.

"We're gonna up the Pit," Lisa said. And that's when things got fast and furious.

Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. Every few minutes, I'd brace myself for another contraction. And every few minutes, Lisa and Chris reminded me, "The harder you work now, the less you'll need to work later."

When the pain got unbearable, I asked for a dose of Fentanyl (Um, hello? I'm convinced this liquid drip is God's gift to anxious and exhausted pregnant women like me everywhere...just sayin'!).

It was 30-minutes of pure relaxation.

I could breathe. I could laugh. My body could rest.

But as quickly as it all went away, the pain of childbirth and what my body was preparing to do came rushing back.
Childbirth After Infertility
Lisa began measuring the strength of my contractions and determined that things were indeed moving along -- and they were moving along quickly. 

The anesthesiologist came in and prepped me for an epidural.

My body shook in fear. Horror stories of epidurals-gone-wrong plagued my mind as I leaned forward in my hospital bed with my open-backed gown. I didn't want to be permanently paralyzed. I didn't want a spinal headache. What if he hit the wrong spot? 

Lisa and Chris held my hands and reminded me to breathe.

Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale.

"You're one step closer to meeting that baby girl," they said.

Before I knew it, the epidural was in, and my body could relax. Contrary to the stories I'd heard, it was painless. I could still move my feet and legs, albeit with a little help.

After nearly 13-hours with us, Lisa handed off the torch to another nurse Traci. And I have to be honest -- I was a bit worried about who her replacement would be because we had such a great day together. We got to know each other's families. And I kinda felt like she was an old friend.

My worry was all for naught, though, because Traci was simply wonderful, too.

These two nurses in partnership with two compassionate doctors made the painful experience of childbirth [dare I say it?] enjoyable. They were patient, attentive and made me feel empowered. I wholeheartedly believe God put 'em exactly where they needed to be to calm my nerves and encourage me to keep going.
Childbirth After Infertility
"You're having a baby!" Traci said excitedly as she wrote, "Happy Birthday, Addison!" on the whiteboard.

"She's gonna be here before 8:30," she said, and she began calling in the medical team to prep the room for our baby girl's entrance into the world.
Childbirth After Infertility
My doctor walked in with a med student and suited up. A slew of medical personnel stood by and waited with anticipation.

"Okay, this next contraction I want you to take a deep breath in, and then push out..." Traci said calmly.

A few minutes and seven pushes later, I heard the sweet sounds of a newborn cry -- it was the sound I'd been anxiously waiting nine-months to hear.

"You did it, Shelley! She's beautiful! Here's your daughter!" Traci said as she passed her tiny 6-pound body into my arms.
Childbirth After Infertility
Chris swooped in next to me, both of us crying in awe and amazement at this unexpected miracle we created and brought into this world together. She was living. She was breathing. She was beautiful. She was perfect.

And for the first time in nine months, I felt peace.

I felt like a weight was off of my shoulders. The fear that consumed me during much of my pregnancy and a few unexpected complications was instantly replaced with an immense amount of love and joy for our third daughter.

I'll admit our journey to Addison wasn't always easy. Some days were really, really hard; others were terrifying.

But just as the case with our other daughters, we'd do it all over again in a heartbeat knowing where it would lead us.

She was worth it all.

Related content:
Hello, World. Meet Addison.


Hello, World. Meet Addison.

New Baby
Hello, World!

Meet Addison Ann.

Our 6-pound precious baby girl was born on Thursday, March 24 at 8:30 p.m.

We were welcomed home this afternoon by her proud big sisters (who savored every ounce of spoiling by Gramma and Grandpa R.).

More to come soon -- after we catch our breath and settle into a new routine form of chaos! Meanwhile, please know how much your prayers and words of encouragement have meant to our family of FIVE!

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Wishes For My Third Daughter

Wishes for My Daughter
Oh, sweet daughter of mine.

It hasn't always been easy, but my goodness, I've loved our journey together.

Your heartbeat is something I never thought I'd get to hear. Your kicks -- and yes, even your rib jabs in the wee hours of the morning -- are something I never thought I'd have the privilege of feeling. Your constant pokes and prods to my bladder are a reminder of what a gift it is to know you're safe and strong. And your tumbles and rolls and fist bumps have been a blessing to feel and watch for the past nine months.

Your arrival comes with so much anticipation. But I have to be honest, I'm also pretty scared terrified. The doctors estimate you're small; really small. This can be a bit unusual and risky with a Gestational Diabetes diagnosis which is why we're planning to meet you a little early.

Naturally my momma's heart is worried about the extra risks this pregnancy has posed, but your Daddy does a good job reminding me even the smallest girls can be strong.

For weeks, he's constantly reassured me we'll be okay.

You see, in our family, it's kind of a trend. We roll with the unexpected surprises in life -- like whirlwind adoptions, a fast move to a new city and a surprise pregnancy all in the same year.

While we anxiously await for you to take your first breath [or scream or cry...whatever you choose to do, baby girl, is fine with us!], I'm praying...

I'm praying for you to be healthy, for you to be fierce and strong [but please less stubborn than me]. Most importantly, I'm praying for you to always know how much you're loved.

Every tiny ounce of you, my sweet daughter, has been loved from the moment we first learned about you, and nothing will change that.

Our lives -- as chaotic and crazy as most days may seem -- are forever changed because you were chosen to be part of our family. And we can't wait to meet you!

See you soon, baby girl. See you soon...


Related content:
Our Journey to Addison
Announcing Our Pregnancy


5 Ingredient Ranch Pork Chops

When I came across this recipe on Pinterest, I knew I had to try it. With my Gestational Diabetes diagnosis, I've been constantly scouring for high protein recipes.

Y'all. I can't even...

This recipe is SO easy and oh-so good!

(Our two-year old even loved it!)
5 Ingredient Ranch Pork Chops Recipe
4 (8 oz) Pork Chops, boneless
16 oz Baby Red Potatoes, chopped into small chunks
16 oz green beans
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 (1 oz) package Ranch Seasoning
1 Tbsp minced garlic
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley leaves (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Grease 9 x 13 pan.

Place potatoes, green beans on bottom and pork chops on top.

Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with ranch seasoning and garlic; season with salt and pepper to taste.

Place into oven and roast for approximately 35-minutes or until the pork and potatoes are completely cooked through.

Optional: Broil for 2-3 minutes, or until caramelized and slightly charred. Serve garnished with parsley.

Recipe adapted from DamnDelicious.net.

Related content:

How to Survive Gestational Diabetes


Top 10 Uses for Baby Bump

1. Coffee Table
Top Uses for Baby Bump
2. Daniel Tiger's Playground
Top Uses for Baby Bump
3. Pillow for the dog
Top Uses for Baby Bump
4. Pillow for the toddler
Top Uses for Baby Bump
5. Crumb-catcher
Top Uses for Baby Bump
6. Belly pats
Top Uses for Baby Bump
7. Baby's highchair
Top Uses for Baby Bump
8. Toddler snack table
Top Uses for Baby Bump
9. Bookshelf
Top Uses for Baby Bump
10. An excuse not to pick up toys
Related content:


Compassion and Imagination With Toys | New Sprouts Puppy Play! By Learning Resources

Meet the newest member of our growing family!
New Sprouts Puppy Play
Seriously, though.
You would've thought Christmas came early when our two-year old received this New Sprouts Puppy Play set in the mail.
New Sprouts Puppy Play
It took her all but 90-seconds to name her puppy Maggie (not to be confused with our real-life Maggie).
New Sprouts Puppy Play
At her age, my daughter is continuing to learn how to take care of others, and this 6-piece toy set provides a great opportunity to teach her responsibility -- without a mess and without batteries!
New Sprouts Puppy Play
"Maggie" has her own dog bed, bowl, bone, brush and can of food -- all items to help our 2-year old use her imagination and pretend like she's a pet-mom...without all the mud and baths and barking, of course! 

As a busy mom, there's nothing I appreciate more than toys that can help my children learn basic social skills and encourage them to use their imagination, and this is certainly one of 'em!
What Busy Moms Love
Sponsored post: I received the above products for free, but opinions, as always, are my own


5 Tips for Successful Freezer Meal Cooking

Tips for Freezer Meal Cooking
Lots of you commented on my Facebook page when I shared this photo of some girlfriends and me with our loot from a successful 3-hours of freezer meal cooking over the weekend.
Tips for Freezer Meal Cooking
As promised, I'm writing more about our experience, the recipes we chose to use and sharing five tips for freezer meal success:

1. Ask your friends to join you

I don't know anyone who doesn't like to have a few meals on hand. Ask your friends to join you on a specified date. Have them confirm at least 2-weeks in advance to allow time to gather recipes and break down ingredients for a mega grocery list.

(i.e. If six people confirm, you'll want to multiply ingredients in each recipe by six to have enough for a batch for everyone. Note: If math isn't your forte, solicit your mathematician friend do this!)

2. Delegate one person to do the grocery shopping

Who has a SAM'S Club or COSTCO membership? S/he may be a good one to delegate this task to. Each person in attendance should be responsible for paying their portion of the grocery bill. 

For our six meals, we each pitched in $40! Yes, $40 to pay for SIX meals!

3. Have each participant bring and/or prepare meat ahead of time

We all have different preferences when it comes to meat selection. Some of us like organic, grass-fed beef, while others prefer chicken over turkey. Each participant should bring and/or prepare their meat for each recipe ahead of time. Make sure each participant stores their meat (raw or cooked) in a container (a Ziplock bag usually works great!), and have each participant label their Ziplock bag with their name and corresponding recipe.

4. Have each participant bring their own freezer containers

Some people prefer to store meals in glass containers, while others prefer whatever is on sale or fits in our freezer (I've used these, and they work great!). The organizer should specify what size of containers are needed for each recipe, and participants should bring them to the cook session with their name on them.

5. Set up stations for each recipe

On cook-day, it is best to set up recipe stations throughout a kitchen and dining room area. Include the ingredients, measuring and mixing utensils, as well as labeled meat and containers at the station. Each participant will be in charge of making multiple batches of one recipe at her station.

I made six batches of Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins (I recommend having lots of these muffin pans on hand!). And in case you're wondering...yes, that's a lot of muffins!

Perhaps most importantly, though, don't forget to have fun! Freezer meal cook sessions are a great way to get out of the house and socialize with friends all while doing something helpful for your family!

Turn on some music, and have a good time!

[CLICK HERE to view the recipes we used.]

Related content:

Top Freezer Meal Recipes

½ - ¾ bag of large noodle pasta (i.e. ziti)
½ lb ground beef (cooked)
1 pkg taco seasoning
1 cup water
½ pkg cream cheese
1 ½ cup marble shredded cheese

Boil pasta until just cooked, drain, run cold water over it.

Mix together taco seasoning and 1 cup water. Pour over cooked meat and let simmer for about 5-minutes until the liquid has reduced.

Add ½ pkg of cream cheese to the mixture, stir until melted and combined; remove from heat.

Put pasta in dish. Mix in 1 cup of shredded cheese.

Top pasta and cheese with beef mixture, gently mix until pasta is coated.

Top with remaining ½ cup shredded cheese.

Freeze, thaw and bake at 350 degrees uncovered for approx. 30 minutes.
Freezer Meal Recipes
2 cups egg noodles
½ lb ground beef
1 onion, chopped
minced garlic
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 cup pepperoni
16 oz. pizza sauce
4 Tbsp. milk
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Over medium skillet, brown beef with onion, garlic and pepper.

Stir in cooked noodles, pepperoni, pizza sauce and milk.

Mix well.

Pour mixture into a 2-quart casserole dish. Top with cheese.

Freeze and thaw before baking.

Cook (covered with foil) at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes.
Freezer Meal Recipes
2 small chicken breast (uncooked)
1 can red enchilada sauce
1 packet of taco seasoning
1/2 cup cheese

Place ingredients flat in storage bag and freeze.

Thaw in refrigerator for 24-hours before cooking in crock pot for 4-6 hours. Shred and serve with taco shells or tortillas.

4 uncooked, boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I used two since they were huge)
1 c. Ranch dressing
1 c. panko bread crumbs
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. garlic powder
salt & pepper, to taste
1/4 c. butter, melted

Combine bread crumbs, Parmesan, garlic powder, salt, and pepper on a plate.

Dip chicken in Ranch to coat both sides, then roll in bread crumbs.

Put breaded chicken in a gallon ziplock bag, and label with a marker, then freeze.

To prepare, thaw, then place chicken in baking dish sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.

Drizzle with melted butter.

Bake in preheated 400F oven for 30-35 mins or until chicken is thoroughly cooked.

Approximately 5-minutes before removing from oven, increase temp to “broil” to crisp up the breading.

4 Eggs
2 cups Sugar
1 16 oz. can Pureed Pumpkin
1 1/2 cups Oil
3 cups Flour
2 tsp. Baking Soda
2 tsp. Baking Powder
1 tsp. Cinnamon
1 tsp. Salt
1 pkg Dark Chocolate Chips

In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs, sugar, pumpkin, and oil; add in dry ingredients and mix well. Fold in chocolate chips.

Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups 3/4 full.

Bake 12-15 minutes at 400 degrees.

Freeze in freezer bags.

Chicken Almond Casserole
2 cups cooked chicken
2 cups cooked rice
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 small onion
1 tsp salt
1 cup REAL mayonnaise
11 /2 cup chopped celery
1 Tbsp lemon juice
3/4 cup slivered almonds
Crushed corn flakes or French’s cheddar fried onions for topping

Combine all ingredients except corn flakes. Place in 9x13 pan. Top wish crushed corn flakes. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until bubbly and hot.
Related content:
5 Tips For Successful Freezer Meal Cooking


To the Parents in Public Looking for a Break

I get it.

All of us need a break every now and then.

Trust me. I understand.

But lemme tell you something...

If you're a parent and you need a break, it may be a good idea to hire a babysitter rather than expect others (like me) to take on your parental roles in public while you scroll through your phone and your child runs around like a maniac.

Let's back up...

The hubbs and I recently took our daughters to the mall.

Mother Nature left us cooped up inside the house, and we needed to get out.

'Cause we were going slightly crazy.

So we went to the mall's indoor play place (yes, I know, germ-central) for the girls to run off some energy.

Apparently we weren't the only parents with the same idea because there were LOTS of kids there. It was packed.

The girls were having a ball. Chris and I were busy chasing after them as they hopped from the "train station" to the slides to a larger-than-life sized "hippopotamus."

When I sat down with our oldest for a drink break, a little girl about her same age went up to her, looked at her and hit her.

Literally point blank hit her in the face.

What the what?

Olivia looked at me confused.

I asked if she was okay, and said in my overly loud teaching - slash - momma bear voice, "It's not nice when people hit, is it?" fully intending for the little girl to hear.

The girl skipped away, but found her way back to our corner only minutes later where she walked up and grabbed a pack of fruit snacks out of my daughter's hand.

Literally just grabbed them.

I looked at that girl and said sternly, "No. Those fruit snacks are not yours. It's not nice to take other people's things." 

The girl looked at me like I was some crabby know-it-all and reluctantly gave them back.

But the entire time these interactions took place, I wondered where on earth her parents were.

Who was watching her?

She was clearly spending way more time assaulting and stealing from my daughter (okay, I know. That's an exaggeration, but you get my point...).

Was she here by herself? Did she have free roam of the place? Were her parents looking for her?

About 15-minutes later I realized her mom was sitting RIGHT NEXT TO ME.

The entire time, you guys. This woman was sitting feet away from me with her head buried in her phone totally oblivious to the way her daughter was acting.

I was so put off by her lack of effort in caring and watching after her daughter.

I try hard not to point fingers and judge other people's parenting decisions, and I'll be the first to admit I'm a far cry from a perfect parent... but this? This was completely unacceptable in my book.

I honestly feel like someone could've taken her daughter to the other side of the mall, and she would have never noticed. And that's terrifying.

So here's my PSA/gentle reminder: Watch your children. Don't depend on others to do it for you (unless they're getting paid as your babysitter, of course). Your child's safety and behavior should take priority over the social media feeds you're scrolling through on your cell phone. And, perhaps most importantly, your child is missing out on a lot of fun with you because you're so preoccupied. Put your phone down, and have fun with them. They're only little once.


Calling All Predictions + Chocolate Lovers!

The reality has started sinking in that our baby girl could arrive any day now!

Doctors haven't clued us in on many details about her weight or how early she could make her appearance, but with the extra risks from Gestational Diabetes, I likely won't go past my original due date.

While we start packing our bags and preparing our home for the "3 Under 3" club, we'd love to read your predictions for Baby Girl #3!

And the best part?
French Broad Chocolates Giveaway
Photo: Facebook
The lovely folks at French Broad Chocolates will generously gift the winner with a 12-piece truffle box!

And seriously...

Who doesn't love a box filled with mouth-watering, handmade, artisanal chocolates? 
French Broad Chocolates Giveaway
Photo: Facebook
Not only do these chocolates make perfect gifts for others -- like new parents, eh hem -- but they're a great treat for yourself, too! ;)

Click HERE to enter our Baby Pool!

Good luck!