Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Magnolia Jane Vikilizgani

I just thought I’d resurrect this ole blog to document the birth of our third daughter! (I dont want her to think someday that we left her out!) So here is her birth story I wrote up a few days after she was born.

Magnolia Jane Vikilizgani Simwaka is here!

She was born around 7:15 pm on November 14th. She weighed 7 lbs. 2 oz. and she was 20 1/4 inches long.
We came in at 3 pm to be induced and on the way I looked up more info about inductions and suddenly got very nervous about it. It just seemed like it was a little risky. But I texted a friend who had an induction without any medical reason to do so and she really helped calm me down.
When the nurse checked me, she said I was 4 cm dilated and she thought the induction would go fast. Soon after that I started to have some regular mild contractions. She said it may have started because she checked me and released some hormones. But they were still far apart. Soon they were fairly close together though. Dr. Marter was the one on call and he came in pretty soon after that. He checked me again and both he and the nurse (Jen) saw that my contractions were fairly regular. It looks like I really did go into labor. Still, he ordered that I get a small amount of pitocin after they gave me a dose of the antibiotic for group B strep. He asked if I had any questions and so I asked if it was okay I’d I eventually got the epidural. He said that he would always recommend it to first time moms but that subsequent pregnancies are faster and that epidurals carry some small risks. So he thought I didn’t need it but he said it was up to me since I was the only one who would be experiencing the pain. I didn’t want to look like a wimp but as soon as he left I asked the nurses and they said of course I could get it. Jen said she didn’t even know why he gave that little speech.
Still I figured I had a ways to go so I’d just wait awhile. Kwacha and I tried to find something on the TV but the only thing we were interested in was an old black and white movie on TCM. We both thought we recognized the main actor and so we spent most of the time trying to look up who he was. By the time we figured it out, we realized we had never seen him in anything and we hadn’t paid attention to the movie at all really and had no idea what was going on. So we changed it to Harry Potter and watched a bit of that.
By now my contractions were starting to feel pretty intense. Nurse Jen asked when i might want the epidural and I said maybe in about 10 minutes. She said the anesthesiologist could be there in 5-30 minutes. But about 5 minutes later I said I ‘d go ahead and get it whenever it was available. (I️ don’t know why i always delay!) She said I just needed to finish an IV bag first so she found a little bag to put on it which would open it up more so it would go faster.
Thankfully it went fast and the anesthesiologist was there quickly and he started getting the epidural ready. Nurse Jen (who turned out to be Kwacha’s age, which is only 42) kept saying how young he looked! He turned out to be my age. My contractions were really intense at that point and I had about four of them while he was putting in the epidural. It definitely hurt worse then when I got one with Shirley.
He told me that he wasn’t giving me a strong one to start out but that I could ask them to increase it as long as it was before I had to push. Thankfully it started working pretty quickly and when Jen checked me I was at a 6-7. She told me I had gotten it just in time!
Dr. Marter came in at some point and said that he was expecting a 9:00 pm delivery. That may have been before I got the epidural. I can’t remember.
Mom and Emily came in soon after that to say hi and see how things were going. Emily missed seeing me in a contraction again! They said they were going to get dinner to go and come right back since I still had awhile to go. It may have been about 6:45 or 6:50 at that point.
Well right after they left, Dr. Marter and Jen and another nurse came in. Someone must have checked me because my blood pressure was going down. They said I was at 10 already! Things were kind of a blur but it seemed like 6 or 8 more nurses came in at that point. One nurse in particular was pretty intense. Next thing I know someone put an oxygen mask over my nose and mouth! And Dr. Marter said it was time to deliver the baby!
They set up some high stirrup things for my legs. Kwacha held one leg and the intense nurse held the other. Dr. Marter sat down looking like he was about to catch a football pass. Thankfully they took the oxygen mask off and I started to push. My water broke pretty quickly and it was like a flood being let out of a floodgate. I️ could see it spray up! The epidural had definitely worn off! I felt the ring of fire and was pushing with all my might. It took about 3-5 pushes for Magnolia’s head to come out and then everyone commented how much hair she had! Then one push more and out came her body. I definitely felt the relief!
She cried a little bit but not much which made me a little nervous. A nurse took her and rubbed her and told her to cry some more and she finally did. I really noticed the cord this time! It was really blue and thick. Dr. Marter had Kwacha pass Magnolia to him. She was covered in vernix and Kwacha thought it was a bit gross. He handed her to Dr. Marter and then he had Kwacha cut her cord.
He laid her back down on top of me and I was surprised at how calm she was. She wasn’t crying that much and she kept trying to open her eyes. She finally did and she just stared at my blinking for awhile. She was so cute, I felt a wave of love for her immediately. I noticed right away that she had a dimple in her chin. She stayed on me like that for a whole hour before they even weighed her. It was heaven. ☺️

Monday, March 28, 2016

My Favorite Milestone

Charlotte laughed for the first time today!  That's all I wanted to say.  And, also maybe that I'm a little obsessed with this baby!!

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Four Weeks

Charlotte turns one month old tomorrow and I know I'm posting one day early, but I think I'm going to CALM IT DOWN a bit this time around.  I'll still be taking monthly pictures for her first year, but I'll probably just post them to Instagram with a line or two.  This led me to think, "poor second baby".    There may not seem to be as much hype, attention, even -- dare I say -- joy the second time around.  But let me attest to the fact that this is not true!  Sure the first time around I didn't have much to do but just stare at Shirley all day.  My hubby didn't expect me to keep the apartment spic and span, I didn't have a toddler to take care of, and my brother-in-law wasn't visiting from Malawi.  (More on that later.)  But is this really all such a bad thing?  I think there is a reason why second children often have more laid back personalities.  The focus isn't just on them all the time and that's actually really good!  They don't grow up with the feeling that the world is centered around them.  I don't know, these are just some thoughts mulling around in my tired little brain.  

All that to say, I am just LOVING this four week old! 

I mean, how could I not, right?  (Wow!  I just realized this picture is from when she was two weeks old and now I see just how much faster these last two weeks went then the first two weeks!  Crazy!)

Charlotte is definitely giving us a "run for our money" as they say.  And really, that is just in comparison to Shirley.  (And that is just according to our memories.)  In actuality Charlotte is a really easy baby too.  She just was more of a cluster feeder in the beginning and she's got a pretty good set of lungs on her when she does cry.  

But she is just. so. sweet!  And yes, she mainly smiles after she eats so it could just be gas, but she really does smile a lot!  Big open gummy grins with these cute little dimples.  She melts me.  Poor girl has some pretty bad acne now, but I keep reading that it will go away soon enough.  Really, it's kinda worse than a teenager.  

Little Zizi has also had a very busy last two weeks.  As hinted at earlier, Kwacha's youngest sibling, Malumbo, is visiting us this month so we have been out and about trying to show him the best of Los Angeles!  Zizi has truly been a little trooper.  And Shirley has been absolutely loving her time with Uncle "Malo".  She always wants to know where he is and she loves holding his hand.  I think he has really helped with her transition to the role of big sister; a role that she has taken on with joy and gusto!  Too much sometimes.  Poor Charlotte has to stay on the alert!  Her big sister is constantly asking, "Can I hold it?"  She gives her little kisses on the forehead and helps me know when she needs her paci.  I have loved watching their (mostly one sided) little relationship so far.

Well, I had originally planned on giving you all a little "day in the life" sorta thing to show how different life is with two!  But I think I'll stop here for now.  Maybe another day.  
For now I'll end with one more picture.  :)

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Charlotte Zizipizgani Simwaka

Well, it's Saturday, February 6th and I had my second little girl two days ago.  I wanted to make sure I recorded her birth story before I get hazy on the details.  Charlotte arrived on her due date, Feb. 4th, 2016!  (Disclaimer:  Maybe don't read if you're a little squeamish.  Although I think I kept it pretty PG.)

On and off last week I had tons of Braxton Hicks and I'd go to bed and have a few false labor contractions.  I always knew they weren't the real deal because they were spaced far apart and never got very intense.  Wednesday morning, Kwacha and I went in for our last scheduled appointment with my OB.  He said that I was between 2-3 centimeters and she was ready to come anytime.  Because I have gestational diabetes with my pregnancies and I also had group b strep this time, he wanted to schedule an induction for that week.  We chose Saturday (which would have been today...crazy!) which seemed a bit early, but then our OB would be on call and he would be the one delivering her which we were happy about.  Still, I really wanted to go into labor naturally and that's what I was praying for.  I figured she had time!

Well, Wednesday night we went to sleep pretty late, around 12:30.  I didn't feel any differently than I had any other night (except I did have a little lower back pain when we went on a walk after dinner), so I thought I definitely wouldn't be going into labor.  Well, around 2:00 a.m. I started feeling those contractions again only this time they seemed a bit stronger.  After a few pretty intense ones I woke up Kwacha and told him that I thought this was it, but I wasn't positive, so we didn't need to get ready yet.  Well, a few minutes later they were coming every four minutes, so I decided to get up and do my makeup.  (With Shirley I didn't do that and I regretted it.  Ha!  I had told Kwacha that I didn't care how bad contractions were, I was getting ready this time.)  Kwacha called my mom and asked her to come over and stay with Shirley.  She was beyond excited.

Contractions continued to get more intense and closer together by now.  They were coming every 2-3 minutes and I had to stop what I was doing to get through them.  But I could still talk through them.  Kwacha called the hospital.  It was probably around 2:45 or 3 by this point.  Even though he told them that my contractions were 2-3 minutes apart, lasting for about a minute, and that I had had them for close to an hour, they still told him that we should stay home for another hour or two!  Kwacha said, "Forget it.  We're coming in."

Up until this point, I had determined that I was going to stay home as long as possible, that I would try and wait to get an epidural until I was farther along than last time, so at least 6 centimeters.  (This was partly in case I have to have a drug free labor in Malawi someday.  I wanted to be prepared.)  But when my mom got to our place I had had enough of the pain!  I said that I didn't care what I had said before.  I was getting an epidural as soon as I got to the hospital!  And why would anyone not get an epidural??

So, Kwacha and I packed the car and drove off.  I had one strong contraction in the car.  I'm still so thankful that we are only five minutes away from the hospital!  When we got to Emergency I seemed fine but told them I was in labor.  Thankfully I had one right after I sat in the wheelchair so I maybe seemed a bit more legit?  Anyway, I was wheeled up, had one contraction on the way, and when we got to our L&D room they told me to change into the gown and give a urine sample.  Well, I had 3-4 contractions in the bathroom, probably less than a minute apart.  This is when I started to get a little concerned.

When I came out of the bathroom, no one was in the room.  Not even Kwacha.  I started to get a little panicky but then Kwacha came in.  I told him I didn't know what to do.  Should I sit?  The contractions just seemed so bad!  Well, I wound up sitting on the bed and the nurse came in and started asking me lots of questions and hooked me up to a monitor.  I was getting lots of contractions and was just miserable sitting on the bed.  I wondered...when is she going to check me?!  Finally she did and she quickly and calmly said, "You're an 8 - 9."  I just said, "Oh my word!  Can I get an epidural??"  And she replied, "Probably not.  I'm not going to lie to you."  I don't even know why I asked it.  I knew there was no way I'd be able to sit still long enough to get one.  As soon as she responded with that, I felt ready to throw up, not just because of the pain, but primarily because of fear.  I felt trapped.  I was not ready for this.  I had never taken a class on natural childbirth.

I started to tell Kwacha, "I can't do this! I can't do this!!"  But another nurse came in and they started getting me ready.  The pain was immense.  And the contractions were right on top of each other.  I always kinda wondered, do you really need to make all that noise when you're in labor?  Well, I was shocked at the sounds coming out of me.  It seemed like the only thing that could possibly help ease the pain.  Pretty soon the doctor was there and it was time to push.  The nurses told me to try and stop screaming and internalize that to power the baby out.  It seemed like the hardest thing to do at that point, but I did my best.  A ring of fire and three sets of pushes after that and she was out! It still amazes me how you can go from the worst pain imaginable to utter relief and bliss.  They laid a little slimy Charlotte on top of me and I was so happy it was all over and she was with us!  It was 4:15 a.m.  Just about two hours after contractions had started.  I had been at the hospital for only 45 minutes.  If Kwacha had listened to the lady who told us to stay at home for an hour, we wouldn't have made it!

All of Thursday I didn't even want to think back on the labor, it seemed like a horror film.  But two days after with a little sleep, it didn't seem all that bad.  God's Word tells the truth, the pain is forgotten with the joy of bringing a new little life into the world.  I still will definitely get an epidural next time if humanly possible!  Ha!  But, at least I know it's possible and you survive!  (And I shouldn't even complain with such a short labor.)

I am just in awe of how God creates these beautiful little babies and gives us the privilege of raising them.  He is so good and a marvelous Creator!  We love our little Charlotte!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Ramblings on Baby Number Two

Poor second babies.  You know what I mean, don't you?  I don't think I have to explain.
But, just so you know, I am definitely JUST as excited for baby # 2!  I just haven't blogged about him or her yet.  I would post the ultrasound picture of our little lemon (lemon being a good thing here, that's how big our baby is right now!), but I'm not at home at the moment and I don't have it with me.  
Even though this baby will be just two years younger than Shirley, little lemon didn't come as early as we had hoped.  But God's timing is perfect and even though it was a comparatively short wait to many, I still learned much from waiting.  And now I am actually thrilled with the two year gap.  

Little lemon is due February 4th and so I'm just into my second trimester.  Definitely more morning (really afternoon) sickness this time, and I have Gestational Diabetes again, but everything is so worth it.  I can't wait to see Shirley as a big sister!  
There are some things I am nervous about; nursing again, trying to take care of a newborn with a rambunctious two year old running around, getting two little kids in and out of the car, flying to Malawi with TWO little ones.  But, I am way more excited than nervous.  
So, that's pretty much it for today.  Just wanted to make sure that if my babies ever read this blog, they know they were all greatly anticipated.  And some of you may not have noticed the little ticker thing up top.  :)

Tuesday, July 21, 2015


Just thinking about Malawi today as I look at pictures of our trip that was almost a year ago!  Hard to believe.  It's also hard to believe that Kwacha's sister, Evelyn, and our niece, Charity, are going to be here in less than a month!  So exciting.

I don't have much to say today besides that, and the fact that this is one of my favorite pictures of Kwacha.  Ever.  In the middle of a tea plantation.

It's love.

Shirley wasn't such a fan.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Thoughts, Shirley and a Recipe

I may have mentioned this before, but one of my favorite songs growing up was, "When I get to Heaven gonna walk with Jesus, when I get to Heaven gonna see His face, when I get to Heaven gonna talk with Jesus, saved by His wonderful grace!  Because I'm saved, saved, wonderfully saved, washed in the blood of the Lamb, Hallelujah! Saved, saved, wonderfully saved, and I'm so glad I am, Hallelujah!"
I still love it, and I think it really simplifies things for me.  I was reading over Matthew 5 this morning, the Beatitudes.  Jesus highlights the heart behind the Law.  He didn't come to abolish it but to fulfill it.  (Major paraphrasing there.)  I was kind of asking myself, how do I know if I'm trying to seek my own righteousness, or Christ's?  And I was reminded of my favorite verse, "Though you have not seen Him, you love Him.  Though you do not now see Him, you believe in Him and rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls." (1 Peter 1:6-9)
It comes down to love.  When I love God I obey Him.  Just as when I truly love anyone, I sacrifice for them, I seek to please them.  And this is all based on His love for me first.  And all this is mine through faith by His grace!  So simple!  You know, until sin gets in the way.  But Jesus says, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled."  May we seek Jesus' righteousness all the time!

Shirley girly is going to be 17 months tomorrow, so I thought a little update is in order.  How she fills our lives with joy!  She is so full of personality.  Kwacha and I both grew up shy and quiet, but it's like God took our two personalities and canceled them out to create Shirley's!  She still says hi to everyone she sees and she loves to give kisses and hugs.  Especially "fish lip kissies" and "eskimo kissies!"  She has a newfound love for the park.  She just started going down the slide by herself and her favorite person to go with is Bren.   He calls her "Shirwee".  It's just super cute.
Of course, with all this personality comes a fair share of discipline!  She is very independent and strong-willed.  She definitely has whining down, especially when it's dinner time because she just wants more and more to eat!
She is learning a lot of new words and it's fun to see her say things that I didn't focus on teaching her. I taught her how to point to her eyes, ears, nose, mouth, etc.  But one day I asked her to show me her feet, which I had never asked her before, and she pointed to them; the same thing with her toe.  It's just amazing to see the things they pick up.
I just hope that one day, this spirited girl would pour her energy into the Lord and serving Him with her life.

Last thing I have today is a recipe for the most scrumptious, easy dessert!
I found the recipe on Pinterest from this site.

They are called "Flourless Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars" and they are dangerously fast and easy to make.
I tweaked the recipe just a bit:

1 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 light brown sugar (or coconut sugar - I also added 1 packet of truvia since the recipe calls for a 3/4 cup)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp kosher salt
1 large egg (at room temp.)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp carob powder (or 1/2 semi-sweet chocolate chips)
1/3 cup old fashioned rolled oats (I used instant and it turned out fine)

Mix the first four ingredients until well-combined on medium, then add in the egg and vanilla and mix on medium-low.  Add in carob powder and stir in oats by hand.  Press into a greased 8x8 pan and bake in a 350 degree oven for 22 minutes.  Enjoy!  They are basically my new version of brownies!


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