I’m how old tomorrow?!

~W.H. Auden


Today is summer solstice, and today is also the day that you turn 6 months old! Holy cats; Time, you are indeed a speedy burglar. Sweet Numora, I could write to you today of the way you screech, babble, laugh, and how your smile is from ear to ear and in your eyes. I could mention how you love to chew on your toes, though you’ve recently gotten too chubby to make this an easy feat. I could certainly mention how you bury your sweet face into my neck and *huuuug* so tightly, or how you often reach up when you’re sleepy and stroke my face or play with my hair. I could also mention how you love to suck on my chin, and bite my cheeks, and of course I’d have to mention your wild curly Mohawk that is so hard to tame. And your deep, big, blue eyes—I would most definitely have to mention them. And your tiny chubby toes and rolly thighs and dimpled knees and elbows; I certainly wouldn’t leave them out. Oh yes, and the way you smack your lips in between each bite of your cereal and bananas; you simply melt me! But if I start mentioning these things, these tiny moments and lovely features that have stolen my heart, I might just never stop.

I’ll admit, sweet girl, I was pretty terrified when I learned that we were going to have you. I knew that our lives would never be the same, and I knew what an incredible responsibility you would be. But it only took a few short moments for me to adjust to the idea of this whole new reality. Every moment has been sweeter, richer, more precious, and every day more new now that you are here.

My sweet Mora Adora, my precious angel, my beautiful girl, you are the light of my life, and the love of my heart. You have made me better in every way. We are so indescribably in love with you and immeasurably thankful for the gift that you are. I won’t say that I can’t remember what life was like without you, but I am confident in saying that I don’t want to. I love you so much; happy half- birthday little shug!

It’s amazing how truly quickly we do forget the pain of child birth; along with the pain, the memory has already started to grow a bit dull around the edges. I so desperately want to remember every detail of those moments for a thousand reasons. Of course, the greatest reason is simply because it is the day I met my beloved daughter, but it is also the day that I felt the most powerful, the most loved and treasured by my husband, and the most fearfully and wonderfully made. I don’t ever want to forget that. I imagine I will go back to this day throughout my life and use it as evidence of what I can do through Christ. In a small way, these experiences make us timeless—they bond us to every woman before us who shared in these same pains and knew this same joy.

So the details go like this:
Our original due date was the 22nd of December, and though our doctor told us the 15th was more accurate, I tried hard not to let myself believe it. Of course, the 15th came and went with no signs of anything. Since she was then “overdue”, we had to go through some routine stress tests at which the doctor noted that the amniotic fluid seemed to be low. This left me hyper paranoid and tracking each fetal movement throughout the weekend. Though I had regular back pain for a few days, I was able to sleep it off, and I soon convinced myself that I would remain pregnant well into 2010. Due to the concerns about the low fluid levels, I was to report to the doctor again Monday the 21st. Our fears were that we would have to begin discussing induction which could easily be the demise of our unmedicated birth plan. I woke up early Monday morning again feeling the regular waves of back pain. Kevin began timing them and noted that they were approximately 30 seconds long and occurring every 4-5 minutes; these pains seemed suspiciously like contractions. After being hooked to the fetal monitor again at the doctor’s office, the nurse reported that I wasn’t having any contractions. I managed to remain calm and suggested that perhaps the doctor should check me again. Much to all of our surprise, I was already dilated to 5 cm and had apparently been in labor for a few hours. The doctor stated that the baby should arrive by that night. We excitedly headed to get some food and our bags before checking into the hospital. Here is where most of the story occurs; I walked around the hospital, visited with my dad and stepmom in the waiting area, stood in the bathroom hunched over the sink, exhausted every position on the bed, squatted alongside the wall, and labored…. and labored….. and labored. It certainly did hurt, but I was surprised at my ability to converse and feel fairly normal in between contractions. As the waves of pain would come, the room would fall completely silent and several hands would apply extreme pressure on my lower back. Though I didn’t know it at the time, Mora was facing the wrong way and causing me to have exclusively back labor. After several hours, the nurse reported that I was already in transition and that the doctor was on her way. My husband, sister, mom, and doula were all present, and continued to watch my face for the signs of upcoming contractions. I have never known excitement to be so silent before; the air was buzzing with quiet energy. Though I was highly preoccupied, I will never forget the feeling in that room. My sister just stood with her hand over her mouth and her eyes full of tears. By the time the doctor arrived, I was at 8 cm; with my permission, she broke my water and as quickly as a breath, things became rather serious. Though I never felt that I couldn’t continue without medication, there were a few moments where I requested that my sweet Jesus help hurry things along. At nine centimeters, my body decided to push though it wasn’t yet time. I endured a few more contractions groaning in resistance to the urge to push; finally, the doctor gave me permission to obey my body. Though this part was exhausting, I was so relieved to be approaching the finish line; I continually told myself “You are doing this!” My mother subtly slipped a chair behind Kevin as she feared he might pass out; he claims he was never even close. So many people commented on what an incredible birth partner he was, and he really, really was. Within an hour, Mora had made her grand appearance at an impressive 8 pounds and 12 ounces and looking just exactly like her father. As I lack anything to compare it to, I’m not sure if I had an easy delivery, but I was so surprised at how very doable a natural birth is– difficult, painful, exhausting, YES! But completely doable. Our doula commented that I seemed made to birth children. We’ll see.

Our beautiful little girl has already changed so much. She has just discovered her hands, and she seems mere moments away from breaking out in bellowing laughter. She just fills me up to the very brim, and I am constantly amazed that this is our life now. She is ours for a time, to love, teach, nurture, and kiss relentlessly. She seems to process each and every word I say with a seriousness that gives them great weight. Though we fell into our new normal fairly quickly, I still often look at her with amazement. She is here in our arms, in our hearts, and in her lovely nursery down the hall. One short year ago we had no idea how much we were missing. I am so excited to see the woman this little one will become, and I can’t wait to tell her our story. I’ll tell her of the strength of womanhood and of her own ability to house life within her and bring it into the world. I’m going to wrap this memory up tight, and carry it with me for always. I simply wouldn’t change a single thing.

As promised here are photos of the baby room. The photos turned out o.k. except the Chinese lanterns are actually white and emit white light. Our camera makes it look yellow for some reason. Here they are!

So our little momma was due 5 days ago and we are still waiting. It has been increasingly hard to be patient this last week. On Friday Michelle went to her doctor and we found out that Tiny Stiney is a little over 8 pounds and things are still going well. Her doctor stripped her membranes to try to induce labor but so far nothing much has happened. She has had some good contractions but they aren’t regular. So things are definitely happening but so far no baby. We’ve gone on long walks, eaten spicy food and tried just about every method we’ve heard about to induce labor. Michelle is ready to go but our little girl is soaking up the last few days of being 20,000 leagues under the sea. Whether it’s tomorrow or next week or somewhere in between the next post will be photos of our newborn baby girl!!!

Grace and Peace,

As most of you know Michelle has been working full time while also going to school full time (Clemson Master’s program) and I started a second job in September (coordinator of the YMCA after-school program). As such we have been swamped with work. By the time I get home from my 11-hour day and Michelle gets home from her often 12-hour day we have no energy left for anything else. Our evenings usually consist of us on the couch for a couple of hours until it’s time to go to bed. Sadly as a result our house has taken a beating. We have had several big house-hold items to take care of in preparation for the baby as well as maintenance and house-hold projects. Well my wonderful mother-in-law and step-father-in-law drove to South Carolina last weekend and were the answer to our prayers. They deep-cleaned the whole house, installed the lights for the baby nursery, a dimmer on another light, two new smoke alarms, exterior lighting for our house, assembled all of the baby’s furniture for the nursery, installed a new toilet seat, unclogged our bathroom sinks, fixed our broken power outlet and installed a new shower head. It seriously felt like Extreme Home Makeover by the time they left. Our house is now up to par and the nursery is about 95% ready-to-go thanks to them. Tomorrow night we are having one of our friends who is a painter come over and paint a mural on one wall in the nursery and then it will be completely done!

The nursery has a slight Asian theme to it (in honor of my Japanese roots) and it looks great so far. We painted the room a sage green color and it has pink accents. The mural on the wall will be of a Japanese Cherry Blossom tree, and we switched out the main overhead light for three white Chinese hanging lanterns. We also did some decor with paper cranes and some other little touches. I will definitely post pictures of the room soon.

Our little daughter is officially full-term as of this week! She could potentially come any time (although she’s not due until Dec. 15th). We had dinner with our dula last week and I am very excited about having her along for the labor. We also took a tour of the hospital we’ll be giving birth at and the facilities are excellent. It is all starting to feel so real now!

Next post will be photos and maybe even video of the nursery!

Grace and Peace,

Week 33! Here are some quick facts. Our little daughter and her brain is developing like crazy. Pretty soon, she’ll be able to coordinate breathing with sucking and swallowing. Also, her bones are hardening, and she’s started to keep her eyes open when she’s awake. She also is the size of a honeydew melon. We are starting to be able to feel different body parts now too. We can sometimes distinguish between an arm or a head or a leg. It is getting really exciting!

The shower they threw Michelle/the baby/us last week was incredible. Our Michigan friends and family were extremely generous and blessed us so very much! They wiped out almost all of our registry! Thank you so much Michigan friends!

Grace and Peace,

It has been a long time without a post! Sorry about that! I (Kevin) have taken a second job as the Coordinator for the local YMCA after-school program, and as such I am out of the house working 11 hours a day, 5 days a week and am still running my videography business on top of everything. So needless to say I have not had much free time. I apologize for the lack of Tiny Stiny information as of late.

First of all, everything is still going perfectly. The baby is perfectly healthy and she weighs about 4.5 pounds and is about sixteen inches tall. Michelle is convinced that she has taken up Kung Fu as her favorite hobby is kicking Michelle so hard she wakes up in pain at all hours of the night.

Since we have not officially decided on a name yet (and when we do we are keeping it a secret) much speculation has been happening amongst family members. Nobody likes to just call her “the baby” so Janelle (Michelle’s sister) calls her Orangello and Eddie (Michelle’s dad) calls her Norinda (or sometimes Nairobi). Everyone else calls her those or a variation of those three names. Michelle wouldn’t go for my proposed name of Katrina so we are at an impasse. I think I am just too in the Halloween spirit right now. I have been watching, listening to and reading The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Katrina Van Tassel is Ichabod’s love interest. In the last couple of weeks I have watched the Disney movie version, listened to two audio dramas of the story and read the graphic novel. So Michelle is probably right and I would probably change my mind on the name once the Halloween season is over. We have a couple of good ideas for names though and we are floating those around in our heads right now.

Today Michelle is up in Michigan attending her first shower. My family up there is throwing it for her. She still has three more showers in the next couple of months besides this one! We are very blessed with such great family and friends. They are awesome!

Well today I am painting Orangello/Norinda/Nairobi/Katrina’s room so I am off for now!

Grace and Peace,

There is not a lot of news here at baby Stinehart headquarters but it’s been a while since our last update so I thought I should post something. So here is a post in two parts.

Part 1:
Here are a few quick facts about our girl:
Michelle feels her kicking on a daily basis but I have not been able to feel her yet.
She weighs over 1 pound.
She is over 1 foot long.
Her Lanugo (the fine hair that covers her body) is darkening which will allow it to be seen on an ultrasound.
She has eyelashes and fingernails now.
Her rapid eye movements (REM) are beginning.
She is far enough along in her development that she could have a chance at survival outside the womb.

Part 2:
Many of you have probably heard of men gaining weight during pregnancy, having sympathy pains and sympathy cravings but did you know it is considered an actual syndrome in the U.S? Here is some information about it:

Couvade syndrome is a medical/mental condition which “involves a father experiencing some of the behavior of his wife at near the time of childbirth. The term originally referred to the medieval Basque custom in which the father, during or immediately after the birth of a child, took to bed, complained of having labor pains, and was accorded the treatment usually shown women during pregnancy or after childbirth. In some extreme cases, fathers can grow a belly similar to a 7-month pregnant woman and gain approximately 25 to 30 pounds (”phantom pregnancy”). Other symptoms include and are not limited to developed cravings, suffered nausea, breast augmentation, and insomnia.

Well I am on Weight Watchers and have actually lost a good deal of weight fortunately. I also am sleeping well, feeling great and no breast augmentation here, so I guess so far I have staved off the Couvade successfully!

Grace and Peace,

There’s the news! Sorry it’s so late. We’ve been busy the last few days and then went to the Bob Dylan/Willie Nelson concert yesterday. So we are having a girl! And her first concert was Bob Dylan. Pretty cool. And next week she is going to be in the front section at the Coldplay concert. She doesn’t even realize how great her life is right now! Anyway, the idea that we were having a girl was told to us by every single superstition/Chinese calender/old wive’s tale. Everything said we were having a girl except my step-grandfather-in-law. The ultrasound confirmed it pretty definitively Monday. We are having a little Michelle Jr. I am so excited. Below is the ultrasound. Here are the highlights: at 1:04 you can see her big old alien head, from 1:09-1:30 she waves at us (very cute), at 2:20 you can hear her heartbeat and at 3:44 you can see that in fact she is a girl. The second half of the video is just still shots. Ok, so we are having a girl. Now to come up with a name…

Grace and Peace,

Sunday! Sunday! Sunday! Sunday is the very last day we will have to go without knowing the sex of Tiny Stiney. Monday is the second (and most exciting) ultrasound! We are nervous and full of anticipation about the news. My step-grandfather-in-law is a retired Wesleyan pastor and supposedly has a perfect track record on predicting the sex of babies and he told us it is going to be a boy. I would love to have a boy to teach baseball to, to take hiking and camping, to take to sporting events…but…I would also love a cute little girl that looks just like her mom and wears cute dresses and has cute braids and loves to have tea parties. Either way we are in for such a fun ride. I feel like Michelle and I have such a great marriage, filled with joy and fun and love and I am so excited to bring another person in on the party. I can’t wait. We’ll see you on Monday with some fairly big news 🙂

Grace and Peace,