Diana Kerr »

For as long as I’ve been reading blogs I’ve been reading the birth stories of those bloggers, the ones who’ve been brave enough to share. Each birth is so different, and I learned so much reading about their unique experiences.

I wanted to write out Harrington’s birth story for my own sake and for his, so I thought I might as well share it too. My prayer is that this is helpful to someone who’s trying to make a decision about a natural birth. I want you to know–I think whatever decision you make is a good one! We are so blessed to even have options living in a first world country, aren’t we?

Honestly, I was really on the fence for my whole first trimester about whether I wanted to attempt a natural birth. I did end up deciding to go that route and will definitely do it again. I liked that it increased my chance of being able to deliver vaginally, which has a lot more benefits for baby and mama than I even knew about until I researched it.

I highly recommend finding a great doula if you’d like to do a natural birth. Ours was fantastic, and charged only $600 for an extensive amount of help during pregnancy, birth, and even afterward. It’s a bit of money, but we didn’t have to do a birthing class at the hospital and we probably saved money on all the medical interventions we didn’t need. Kyle loved having her around; she gave us both so much peace of mind! (Her name is Carolyn Oteman if you’re curious and live in the Milwaukee area–look her up! :))

Here’s the story of Harrington James!

Saturday and Sunday | February 18-19

In the couple days leading up to Harrington’s birth, I was pretty sure I was leaking amniotic fluid, but it was slow and minimal enough that it didn’t seem like my water had broken. I talked to my mom and our doula on Sunday about it and they suspected maybe I simply had a small tear or hole in my bag of waters. After talking to them on Sunday afternoon I decided I would see how things went the rest of the day and call my doctor in the morning to go in for an appointment if nothing had progressed.

I had a feeling we were getting pretty close; I had already had a few nights in a row where I woke up with consistent contractions that I thought might be the real deal. They were too frequent and painful to sleep through, so I’d get up and do some things around the house, but then they’d eventually go away.

Side note: You’ll notice throughout the rest of this post that I refer to contractions as “pressure waves.” About halfway through my pregnancy, my cousin—due the same day as me!—had told me about Hypnobabies, a unique approach to natural birth that we both decided to try. You can look it up, but basically you train yourself to be very relaxed (a form of hypnosis) and to have a very positive mindset about birth. Countless women have actually had very comfortable natural births using these techniques. (I’ve seen the YouTube videos to prove it!) Crazy. As you’ll read in Harrington’s birth story, I was definitely in pain for the last few hours of birth, but I know Hypnobabies helped a lot!

Monday morning | February 20

1 am: I woke up around 1 am with the same kind of feelings I’d had for at least a few nights. “It’s not tonight, Diana,” I told myself. “It’s just the same thing as the last few nights.”

I couldn’t sleep, though, so I got up and went and sat in the nursery and decided to do my quiet time with the Lord for the upcoming day. That way, I thought, I’ll sleep in a little Monday morning and then get up and get right to work for the day.

The devotion for February 20 in my New Morning Mercies devotional had a little summary at the top of the devotion that said, “Today you’ll face things bigger than you, but you needn’t be afraid because none is bigger than the One who rules them all for your sake.” I remember thinking I thought it would be cool if today was the day our baby was born, based on that very appropriate encouragement.

2-4 am: The pressure waves weren’t going away, and I started thinking this could be legit. I wasn’t timing them, but I would look at the clock when they came, and I realized they were about 5 minutes apart.

At some point I realized that this was the day. I turned on my maternity email response, cleaned up my email inbox one last time, and let my VA and my business coaches know what was happening to prepare them for my absence!

4-6 am: Around 4:00 I started writing down the times of my pressure waves and realized they were 4 minutes apart. I woke Kyle up and told him this was the day! He asked if he could sleep a little longer, which at the time I thought was a bit silly, because I thought 4 minutes apart was kind of close and like things might be happening soon! Rookie mom. Haha. I hadn’t been paying as much attention to the length of the pressure waves themselves, and many of them were only 30-45 seconds, so we had a lot more time than I thought.

I also called our doula during this time, and she started getting ready to come over. In the meantime, Kyle woke up, and we finished packing our hospital bag (I had a packing list, of course). We both showered and got ready. It felt good to be clean and have makeup on. I knew I’d be super gross eventually, so I figured I might as well feel good for as long as I could.

At this time I also started listening to some “birthing day affirmations.” The Hypnobabies course included a bunch of mp3 tracks that I listened to during pregnancy and also on the birthing day. The birthing day affirmations was one of those tracks.

6:15-Noon: Our doula arrived around 6:15 as the sun was coming up. I was thankful it was a sunny day and that I got to labor during the daytime.

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Kyle, Carolyn, and I spent the next several hours hanging out in our living room. They took turns helping me with each pressure wave. I didn’t know what pressure waves would feel like, but I expected it would be mostly in front, in my stomach area. Nope. I honestly remember barely any pain the whole day anywhere except in my lower back. We figured out our rhythm quickly—when a pressure wave was coming, I would say, “Here it comes,” or “Pressure wave” and Kyle or Carolyn would rub my lower back firmly with both hands while I swayed back and forth.

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I tried swaying while kneeling on all fours, while sitting on an exercise ball, or while bracing myself against the kitchen counter. Carolyn was so great at encouraging me to keep moving positions.

Eventually, we put coats on and went outside to walk up and down the street. Carolyn thought that might help the pressure waves progress, and it totally did! Every time a pressure wave was coming, we’d stop walking and I’d put my arms around Kyle’s shoulders and sway back and forth while Carolyn rubbed my back.

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At one point we saw our neighbor outside and I wondered why he wasn’t working. We realized it was President’s Day! Kyle and I both have holiday birthdays, so we thought that was kind of fun.

Around 10-11ish, my pressure waves were 3-4 minutes apart and 60-90 seconds long, so I called my doctor’s office to let them know I was coming to the hospital and we started packing up.

We also called my mom and let her know she was going to become a grandma! I know Kyle called his parents, too, but I can’t remember when. He also sent out a big group text to all of our parents and siblings (and their significant others) so everyone was in the loop on one text.

I was nervous about the almost 30-minute drive to the hospital from our house because I had figured out the pressure waves were much more difficult to manage if I couldn’t move. Amazingly, I had only 4 during the whole ride, and 2 were at stop lights, so I could lean way forward and Kyle could rub my lower back. I also listened to a hypnosis track on the way to help keep me calm and focused.

Noon-3:00 pm: When we got to the hospital, our doula recommended walking around more to get the pressure waves going strong again and to put off checking in to the hospital. We wanted to wait as long as possible because we knew once I checked in I’d have to do fetal monitoring and there’d be more distractions overall. Plus, with it being my first, we knew it might still be a while, and she didn’t want me stuck in a hospital room for too long.

The three of us walked in circles on a sidewalk near the hospital, pausing again for each pressure wave. I realized that it helped me to actually keep my eyes open during pressure waves and find some random thing to look at that would distract me rather than closing my eyes and being super focused—that seemed to be more painful.

Eventually, I got tired of walking, or I should say that my pelvis was getting pretty sore, so we got our stuff out of the car and headed into the hospital. Before checking in, we went to the cafeteria to eat. Kyle and Carolyn ate a full meal, but I just had some fruit. I hadn’t really been hungry all day; food just didn’t appeal to me. In retrospect, I wish I would have forced myself to eat a little more so I would have had more energy for the long labor.

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Relaxing on Kyle’s shoulder in the hospital cafeteria in between pressure waves

3:00 pm: We finally headed to Labor and Delivery around 3:00 and checked in. They sent us to triage, where we met our nurse, Peggy. She had just started her shift at 3:00 and informed us she’d be with us till at least 11:00 p.m., if not 3:00 a.m., since she was on call. We shared our birth plan with her and she reacted so positively. “I love natural birth!” was the first thing she said. She birthed her kids naturally as well, all four of them I think! We told her she was literally an answer to our prayers!

At that point, I was dilated 6 centimeters, and still feeling pretty well. I was in a great place mentally—cheery, positive, confident. I was totally myself between each pressure wave, talking and laughing and enjoying myself with Kyle and Carolyn, and remember expressing how thankful I was for the relief that came between pressure waves. It’s odd to have quite a bit of pain for 60-90 seconds and then feel totally normal for a couple minutes!

Carolyn also pointed out that when I had a really strong pressure wave I’d say afterward, “That was a good one!” instead of “That was a bad one!” My Hypnobabies preparation had helped me to view intense pressure waves as positive rather than negative, since they were bringing my baby to me! And, I know that was God’s strength. He has given me so much more strength for birth and for motherhood than I ever imagined!

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Our amazing doula Carolyn!

Peggy took us to our room and we got situated, amidst pressure waves every few minutes, of course. She said I couldn’t eat anything anymore, which, oops, I didn’t think hospitals still enforced that. (I had heard that wasn’t a thing anymore. Wrong.) Even so, I snuck some powdered gelatin supplement, a honey stick, and a KIND bar because, like I said, I had barely eaten all day.

4:00 pm: The next 6 hours are fuzzier in my memory. There was a lot going on—decisions to make, staff to meet, intermittent fetal monitoring, changing positions frequently—all as the pressure waves slowly became more intense.

I sat on a birthing ball for a while, tried using a squat bar, and eventually got into the bed because I was starting to feel physically spent. It was nice to relax in bed in between pressure waves, but it was harder managing pressure waves in bed when I couldn’t sway and move around during them.

6:40 pm: Dr. Thompson, the doctor who would be delivering me (not my doctor but I was totally okay with that and really liked her) checked me out and said I was 8 centimeters dilated but that my water still had not broken. She broke my water, and I remember pressure waves being very intense for the next couple hours. I tried really hard to focus on taking them one at a time, but there was still a part of me that wondered, “How many more of these do I have to go?” To be honest, for those couple hours I thought to myself, “I am never doing this again. Ever. I am never giving birth, in any fashion, ever again.” (I’ve already forgotten how it felt and will definitely do a natural birth again. Haha)

Kyle held my hands and Carolyn rubbed my back and as I let out my deep breaths I moaned deeply like an animal. Carolyn had told me those noises would naturally come out of me and even though I had never heard them, she was right! Haha

I also repeated “peace, peace” over and over. At this point, I barely spoke at all. It honestly felt too tiring to even use my energy to speak; I just wanted to rest as much as possible between each pressure wave. Kyle says he never felt bad for me even in the midst of the most intensity; he said I seemed very in control. I laughed when he told me that, because I felt a little out of control at that point.

It was only those few hours of transition and pushing where I had to work really hard to keep my mindset positive. I pictured Jesus with me and him saying over and over, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you” (John 14:27).

7:55 pm: The last bit of dilation seemed to take forever, but finally they said I was 10 centimeters. Everyone told me I would know when I was ready to push—that I would feel “pushy” and feel like bearing down. I never felt that! But as much as I physically didn’t have the urge, I was more than ready to start pushing our baby out.

A lot of people told me that when you get to pushing, it’s a relief. I agree. I liked pushing much better than transition. It was much less painful than I thought it would be—really the bulk of the pain I felt was mostly just the back pain at the beginning of each pressure wave.

However, it was waaay more physically demanding than I thought it would be. I really wanted to push while squatting, but that was super exhausting and didn’t last super long. We tried a couple other positions, like pushing on my side, and eventually ended up with me holding my own legs up each time I pushed, while also curling up like I was doing an ab crunch. That was a lot more work than I anticipated. I thought someone would be holding my legs for me! I remember wondering how on earth I would be able to do this if I wasn’t athletic; I felt thankful for my health, muscles, and stamina. (Note to self: Make sure I stay strong and healthy between now and my next birth!)

I pushed for the next 2 ½ hours. Every pressure wave equaled 3 or 4 long pushes. I can still hear Peggy’s voice coaching me. Each time a pressure wave was coming I’d say, “Let’s push.” She’d respond, “Deep breath innnnnnnnn,” as she took a deep breath herself, then “Curl up, and 1 . . . 2 . . . 3 . . . 4 . . .” as she counted to 10. At some point Kyle counted for me, and I appreciated that he counted more quickly. Haha.

Pushing seemed to last a long time. I think the toughest part was not knowing how long it would take. It was like running a marathon or competing in some brutal athletic event but not knowing when you’d hit the finish line. In the back of my mind, I thought, “What if this takes 3 or 4 hours?! I don’t know how much longer I can do this!” I asked the doctor multiple times, “How much longer?” as if she would know. Haha. She did give me vague answers and everyone was encouraging that I was making progress, so that helped.

Harrington crowned and I could see the top of his head, but it still took over an hour from that point until he came out. That big head just didn’t want to fit through! Still, it wasn’t painful like I thought it would be—just exhausting.

I knew I was getting close when the doctor got all her official gear on and called in a team of extra staff. (I had thought I was super close before, but obviously I wasn’t. Joke’s on me!) She turned overhead spotlights on all the action. (I had the room dark except for a couple lamps—and some Christmas lights Carolyn had put up).

I kept up with the pushing game, finally feeling like the end was in sight even though the finish line was still vague. Finally the doctor told me that she thought baby would be out within several good pushes. She was right!

10:20 pm Our son was born! On the push where he finally came out, I didn’t even realize he was out until I saw the doctor holding him up, trying to untangle the umbilical cord that was twisted all around his leg. I was expecting a lot more pain, but I didn’t really feel anything when he came out. I did feel loads of joy, emotion, and relief!

“It’s a boy!” Kyle announced. “What?!” I said. At least 90% of people thought we were having a girl, so we just kind of assumed they must be right. A boy was such a surprise! They put him on my chest, precious and covered in slime, and when the umbilical cord stopped pulsing the last of its blood, the doctor showed Kyle where to cut the cord.

I was exhausted and a little out of it, but I was so happy to meet him! We were in love with him instantly. I think Kyle was surprised how quickly he fell so much in love with him. We were also surprised how cute he was for just being born. “He’s not ugly!” I said, and all the staff laughed.

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The next few hours are a happy blur. Harrington was very healthy—praise God! Mama still had some work and recovery to do. I lost a lot of blood and was shaking pretty violently, so I needed a shot in my leg for that, which came with a hilarious, unfortunate side effect. On top of that, my tearing required a lot lot lot of stitches. On top of that, my uterus wasn’t shrinking on its own the way it was supposed to. I tried to breathe deeply and stay calm through the discomfort of the nurses pushing hard on my belly.

Overall, though, it was a really wonderful few hours. We talked and laughed and my energy started coming back. We praised God (out loud!—we wanted everyone in that hospital room to know that it was God who got us through) and played relaxing Christian music in the background.

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After all of that, and breastfeeding for the first time, and lots of tests and measuring and monitoring for Harry and me (Harry was 8 lb, 3 oz, 21 inches), and the epic (read: long and slow) first bathroom visit, and trying to get some food in me so the shaking would chill out, and saying goodbye to Carolyn, and Kyle finally getting to hold his son, we were finally sort of alone. It was already 1 or 2 am! We called our parents and all four sisters and they all picked up the phone, their voices sounding both happy and groggy.

And then we all passed out, including our sweet little son sleeping wrapped up like a snuggly burrito. We were just amazed at God’s goodness, care, and love.

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  • May 23, 2017 - 10:13 pm

    Mary Jo Barnes - Sounds a lot like the Bradley Method I used for my children. You learned to work through the contractions through breathing and relaxing so nature could do it’s thing. Congratulations. Harry is definitely a keeper. Thanks for sharing and I’m thankful it went well. Next time EAT. 😃ReplyCancel

May is my last month of maternity leave! My goals are a little ambitious, especially since I just set them on May 6th. (We got home from a 2-week trip on the 4th!)

Unlike most months, I’m not really expecting or hoping to meet all my goals. They’re all important, but I want to enjoy my last 3 weeks of leave and only work on these goals if they don’t get in the way of that.

Side note: Our baby Harrington didn’t gain enough weight in month 2, so we’ve gotta chub him up a little. It’s funny how fast your already small amount of free time as a new mom becomes even smaller when you’re working on increasing your milk supply, pumping extra milk, researching good formula, and giving bottles of extra milk after feedings. It’s worth it, though, to a certain extent. :) By the way, if it saves you some time, I didn’t go overboard on formula research, but consulted with some professionals and decided to go with this formula. There’s a 30% off coupon on Amazon if you want to try it. I know the whole formula thing can be overwhelming! I was shocked how much junk is in most options, even the organic ones.

First, here’s how I did on my April goals! I only gave myself 2 weeks to get all this done because of vacation . . . I shouldn’t have been so optimistic! ;)

  1. Prepare items to sell at Divine Consign 
  2. Buy a one-piece suit for vacation that I feel good in with my new mom body :)
  3. Keep non-paleo food/drink to no more than 30 items this month | I lost track!
  4. Create a prayer box (Got the idea here)
  5. Revise my daily worksheet to be more intentional in this season
  6. Revise daily/weekly rhythms to make the most of the last 8 weeks of maternity leave
  7. Finish writing Harrington’s birth story and post on the blog
  8. Push goal: Decide on an exercise routine to begin in early May
  9. Push goal: Schedule thermography appointments for Kyle and me

Weekly goals:

Goal: Miss no more than 1 week for each of these goals

  1. Take video of Harry
  2. Take a true Sunday Sabbath
  3. Do something for someone else
  4. Spend no more than 90 minutes on social media

Daily goals: 

Goal: 18/26 days (I started on April 5)

  1. Spend time with the Lord
  2. Pray for daily manna, boldness in my faith, and an eternal focus
  3. Track food in FitBit
  4. Rest or take a nap
  5. Achieve my daily step goal (either 7387 or 9420/day, determined by the StepBet I’m doing)
  6. Spend 10+ minutes staying on top of things: either my email inbox, social media notifications, paper inbox, or Todoist inbox
  7. Avoid TV during the day
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Photo: Laurelyn Savannah Photography

Now, here are my May goals!

Please note there are some affiliate links in this post. Your purchases support our Giving Back initiative! :)

  1. Fill out my weekly routine workbook and create a new weekly routine for when I go back to work. (If you want to purchase this workbook, click here to buy my to-do list guide, and then you’ll have a chance to buy the workbook when you complete your order!)
  2. Donate blood at the Blood Center nearby. (With such a tough flu season this past winter, not as many people donated blood as usual, so there’s a shortage.)
  3. Finish and publish Harrington’s birth story on the blog.
  4. Schedule thermography appointment for Kyle and me. (Annual thermography screenings help catch cancer very early when it’s easiest to treat.)
  5. Finish prayer box.
  6. Create a new workout routine.
  7. Figure out next steps for gathering some friends who want to encourage each other to live their faith boldly.
  8. Keep non-paleo food to no more than 30 items.
  9. Watch Idealust’s Facebook and Instagram ads course.
  10. Delegate advance tasks for my Bold, Intentional Life group coaching program to my VA by May 24. (She’s going on maternity leave end of June!)

Weekly + daily goals I’m tracking on my PowerSheets:

Weekly goals:

Goal: Miss no more than 1 week for each of these

  1. Take video of Harry
  2. Take a true Sunday Sabbath
  3. Do something for someone else
  4. Spend no more than 90 minutes on social media
  5. Take a photo of Harry with Kyle, me, or others (So that all my pictures aren’t just photos of only Harrington–I realized I don’t have many pictures with my kiddo!)
  6. Eat an average of 2,500 calories/day or less  (I’ve been convicted lately of the wastefulness of eating more than I need to in order to fuel my body.)
  7. Use my vitamin D lamp

Daily goals: 

Goal: 17/25 days (since I didn’t start officially tracking these in my PowerSheets till May 6th :))

  1. Pray for daily manna, boldness in my faith, and an eternal focus
  2. Keep screen unlocks on my phone to 50 or less (Not as easy as you think! Try the QualityTime or Moment app to track your phone use and you’ll be shocked!)
  3. Track food in FitBit
  4. Rest or take a nap
  5. Achieve my daily step goal (either 7387 or 9420/day, determined by the StepBet I’m doing)
  6. Find a way to intentionally love/respect/serve Kyle
  7. Write in my gratitude journal (I haven’t been doing this as consistently since Harry was born, but it’s a big part of my 2017 goal #4!)

Books I’m reading this month:

Nothing to Prove: Why We Can Stop Trying So Hard

Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World (Rereading it!)

Making Room: Recovering Hospitality as a Christian Tradition

Unsuper Mommy: Release Expectations, Embrace Imperfection, and Connect to God’s Superpower
x-Diana

Psst! Something BIG is coming in June! Make sure you’re on my email list to hear about it. :)

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I’ve got motherhood totally figured out.

April fools! :)

But, I will say, by God’s grace, it’s going better than I thought it would. My March goals were definitely appropriate for the season, and the fact that I had low expectations and met my goals made me feel really good! (Note to self: Keep my expectations from getting too high, or I feel like a failure!)

Here are my March goals + the results:

  1. Read + finish Secrets of a Baby Nurse
  2. Read + finish What Did You Expect? Redeeming the Realities of Marriage
  3. Order a bracelet with my word of the year
  4. Contact an attorney to create a will
  5. Catch up on baby book up to 1 month
  6. Push goal: Put away maternity clothes and return the clothes I borrowed
  7. Push goal: Tag all items I’m selling at Divine Consign

Weekly + daily goals I tracked on my PowerSheets:

Weekly goals:

Goal: Miss no more than 1 week for each of these goals | I had zero misses! 

  1. Read Psalm 103 to focus on my word of the year, rejoice
  2. Do something for someone else
  3. Spend no more than 90 minutes on social media on my phone
  4. Take at least one photo of baby
  5. Get out of the house for something other than church or a required doctor’s appointment

Daily goals: (More details on how and why I chose these goals here!)

Goal: Do these things at least 25/31 days this month | I had only a few misses total! 

  1. Spend any kind of time with the Lord
  2. Pray for daily manna
  3. Do one small productive thing
  4. Change out of my pajamas, even if I’m not showering and just putting on super comfy clothes
  5. Avoid watching TV during the day

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Now, here are my April goals!

  1. Prepare items to sell at Divine Consign (If you’re in the Milwaukee area, you need to check this out for selling or buying gently-used clothes. :))
  2. Buy a one-piece suit for vacation that I feel good in with my new mom body :)
  3. Keep non-paleo food/drink to no more than 30 items this month (a challenge with vacation!)
  4. Create a prayer box (Got the idea here)
  5. Revise my daily worksheet to be more intentional in this season
  6. Revise daily/weekly rhythms to make the most of the last 8 weeks of maternity leave
  7. Finish writing Harrington’s birth story and post on the blog
  8. Push goal: Decide on an exercise routine to begin in early May
  9. Push goal: Schedule thermography appointments for Kyle and me

Weekly + daily goals I’m tracking on my PowerSheets:

Weekly goals:

Goal: Miss no more than 1 week for each of these goals

  1. Take video of Harry
  2. Take a true Sunday Sabbath
  3. Do something for someone else
  4. Spend no more than 90 minutes on social media

Daily goals: 

Goal: I’ve already been doing most of these things the first few days of the month, but I’m just going to start tracking them today–April 5. My goal is 18/26 days for these. Vacation will make these challenging!

  1. Spend time with the Lord
  2. Pray for daily manna, boldness in my faith, and an eternal focus
  3. Track food in FitBit
  4. Rest or take a nap
  5. Achieve my daily step goal (either 7387 or 9420/day, determined by the StepBet I’m doing)
  6. Spend 10+ minutes staying on top of things: either my email inbox, social media notifications, paper inbox, or Todoist inbox
  7. Avoid TV during the day

Books I’m reading this month: (Please note that these are affiliate links. Your purchase supports our Giving Back initiative!)

The Year of Small Things: Radical Faith for the Rest of Us

The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical

Smarter Faster Better: The Transformative Power of Real Productivity

The Pumpkin Plan: A Simple Strategy to Grow a Remarkable Business in Any Field

Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World

Making Room: Recovering Hospitality as a Christian Tradition

x-Diana

P.S. Share your goals in the comments below! :) And if you’re curious how I get so much done (even in this season while I’m savoring lots of time with my sweet little boy during maternity leave), here’s how!

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  • April 5, 2017 - 10:30 pm

    KAS - Where are your goals of precious time spent with Harringtons grandparents and family… haha.ReplyCancel

In case you missed the announcement, our son Harrington was born last month!

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We’re doing so well and are adjusting better to newborn life than I thought we would. Praise God for that, right?! It’s certainly not perfect at all, and my time is limited between feedings, baby care, and snuggling, but I’ve still been able to find pockets of time for good things and to take care of myself and my marriage. Even more importantly, Kyle and I are both in good spirits and are loving the journey, even the craziness of it. :)

The maternity leave goals I created before Harrington was even born were a total shot in the dark–I wasn’t sure what to expect and I didn’t know if they’d be valuable or realistic–but they’ve turned out to be pretty appropriate for this season.

I started aiming for my daily goals on March 1 (they’ve been such a blessing, not a burden, which was my intention!) and waited until this week (starting March 5) to start aiming for my weekly goals as well.

First of all, here were my February goals if you’d like to see them!

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Photo: Laurelyn Savannah Photography

Now, here are my March goals!

  1. Read + finish Secrets of a Baby Nurse
  2. Read + finish What Did You Expect? Redeeming the Realities of Marriage
  3. Order a bracelet with my word of the year
  4. Contact an attorney to create a will
  5. Catch up on baby book up to 1 month
  6. Push goal (It will be a bonus if I get this done!): Put away maternity clothes and return the clothes I borrowed
  7. Push goal: Tag all items I’m selling at Divine Consign

Weekly + daily goals I’m tracking on my PowerSheets:

Weekly goals:

Goal: Miss no more than 1 week for each of these goals

  1. Read Psalm 103 to focus on my word of the year, rejoice
  2. Do something for someone else
  3. Spend no more than 90 minutes on social media on my phone | I track this with the QualityTime app (Try Moment for iPhone)
  4. Take at least one photo of baby
  5. Get out of the house for something other than church or a required doctor’s appointment

Daily goals: (More details here!)

Goal: Do these things at least 25/31 days this month

  1. Spend any kind of time with the Lord
  2. Pray for daily manna
  3. Do one small productive thing
  4. Change out of my pajamas, even if I’m not showering and just putting on super comfy clothes
  5. Avoid watching TV during the day

Other books I’m reading this month: (Please note that these are affiliate links. Your purchase supports our Giving Back initiative!)

Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God 

The Practice of the Presence of God

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind

The Year of Small Things: Radical Faith for the Rest of Us

The Year without a Purchase: One Family’s Quest to Stop Shopping and Start Connecting

The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical

x-Diana

P.S. Curious how I get so much done? I’m sharing my secrets!

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  • March 9, 2017 - 3:37 pm

    Elizabeth Meyers - What an adorable boy! Congratulations! You are an inspiration and a blessing. Your 3 Lies and Truths download is changing the way I look at my goals. Thank you!ReplyCancel

  • March 8, 2017 - 11:11 pm

    Amanda - I’m so encouraged by your dedication to goals in this new season. Harrington is so cute! I just downloaded the Moments app–thank you for this suggestion! & Jen will be so proud of March Goal #4 ;)ReplyCancel

I have no idea what to expect with motherhood and the early days after bringing our baby home.

That being said, I know some things about myself:

  1. God created me a driven, goal-oriented woman.
  2. Rest without a little structure does not usually feel good to me.
  3. I feel much better and much happier when my days have some purpose and direction, when I pursue things that matter—faith, relationships, health . . .

I am the kind of woman who:

  • Loosely plans out even my Sabbath days where I choose total unproductivity for the entire day
  • Still honors some of my routines on vacation—time with the Lord, working out, taking vitamins, etc.
  • Feels gross rather than recharged after a Netflix binge or a day that’s completely lazy

None of this is to say that I’m right and everyone else’s way of life is wrong.

It’s just how I am! Even when I’m sick, I usually put real clothes and makeup on because it helps me feel better and show up for the day with a little bit of intentionality.

I say this gingerly because I know a lot of moms do enjoy lots of Netflix and social media during their maternity leave and feel totally fine hanging out in the same sweatpants for 4 days straight.

If that’s you, you should know I sometimes wish I was like you.

But, I’m just not.

Amy Poehler has a quote I love in these situations that we can all apply to other women who are doing life differently than we are: “Good for her! Not for me.” (Isn’t that good?!)

All this is to say:

I knew that I didn’t want to go into maternity leave with zero plans or goals.

Yes, I want that time to be slow and 98% work-free and very different than usual, but I don’t want it to be 100% unstructured.

I know I will be a crummier wife and mom if I allow myself to do a 180 and fully abandon good habits and disciplines that give my day purpose and help me to spend my time well.

I’m not aiming for a “productive” maternity leave in the sense of getting a bunch of things done, but I am aiming for an intentional maternity leave.

I used to be fearful that life would be 110% out of my control after having a baby and that it’d be a hot mess no matter what I did. A lot of women have given me hope that’s not completely true. (Like my friend Val, who shares such a positive, although honest, approach to motherhood.) I remember reading this post by Emily Ley a while back and thinking, “Wow! There is hope!”

That being said, I am trying my best to walk into this season with minimal expectations . . . not expecting it to be as bad as some people say, and also not expecting it to be easier, either. My experience will be my experience; it will be unique from everyone else’s.

Since, like I said, I don’t know what motherhood has in store for me, I’m sure these goals will change! But here’s my starting point:

Photo credit: Laurelyn Savannah Photography

Weekly goals:

  1. Read Psalm 103 to focus on my word of the year, rejoice
  2. Do something for someone else | I got that idea from this book—to focus outside myself and focus on others during a stressful time!
  3. Spend no more than 90 minutes on social media on my phone | I track this with the QualityTime app (Try Moment for iPhone)
  4. Take at least one photo of baby
  5. Get out of the house for something other than church or a required doctor’s appointment

Daily goals:

  1. Spend any kind of time with the Lord
  2. Pray for daily manna. | In other words, pray for enough strength and provision just for that day. Cultivate eyes that see that daily manna and a heart that rejoices in it.
  3. Do one small productive thing. | Empty the dishwasher, write a couple thank-you notes, fill out a couple sentences in the baby book.
  4. Change out of my pajamas, even if I’m not showering and just putting on super comfy clothes
  5. Avoid watching TV during the day. | Our only TV is in our basement family room, so it’s not a huge temptation and already not a huge part of our lifestyle, but this is still a goal I want to set and honor. I want to use time I might spend watching TV to sleep, pray, read, listen to music or a book, call someone, etc. Or to just sit and be present.

Don’t worry, friends; I won’t have my PowerSheets with me at the hospital, checking these things off, being super anal about it. I probably won’t look at this list for at least the first week, but after the intense initial fog has lifted slightly, I plan to keep these simple goals in front of me, adapting them over time as needed.

I hope these ideas inspire and encourage you! I am certainly thankful for the moms who have already mentored me. Christian mamas, you’re welcome to share your wisdom on what worked for you during your maternity leave to help you be intentional! I’d love to hear. :)

Update: I realized I forget to mention something important! I don’t want anyone to read this post and think that I’m holding myself to a standard of perfection on these things every single day and week. Even more so, I would never want another mom to read this, set her own similar goals, and then feel like a failure for not achieving them perfectly! If you check out my monthly goals posts, you’ll see that when I set daily and weekly goals, I also set a number for how often I want to attain them. (For example, I might have a “daily goal” of getting to bed by 10 pm but decide that accomplishing that 15 times in one month would be a success.) Even really meaningful, intentional goals need flexibility, or Satan can start to condemn us when we fall short of perfection. For my maternity leave goals, I haven’t yet set a goal number for each daily + weekly goal. It will certainly not be 100%, though–I can say that for sure! :) I’m far from perfect now and I will be very much imperfect as a mom too! Whatever goal number I set will allow flexibility for God’s plans and for the unpredictability of new motherhood! :) Thanks for allowing me to clarify that, and thanks for all the encouragement and love on this post! 

While I’m away on leave, keep up with me on Instagram for occasional real-time updates and pictures of a cute, squishy baby, if you’re into that. :)

Speaking of babies, how about this very squishy baby pic of my hubby? Hahaha.

x-Diana

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  • February 25, 2017 - 7:55 am

    Geneva - Oh dear heavens child, this ain’t the time for organization and goal sheets! Whew wee! Bun in your oven will teach ya that tho.
    Good luck!ReplyCancel

  • February 17, 2017 - 3:43 pm

    Donna - When I had my first baby (seems like 100 years ago now, but not really quite that long), I wrote lists of things to do – just so I could cross something off. On it were the lofty goals like get up, brush teeth, shower, get dressed (and no, not all of them got crossed off every day!) I also had “feed baby” and “change diaper” on the list about 8 times every day. Some days only the get up, feed baby and change diaper were crossed off my list when my wonderful husband walked through the door and he was proud of me for managing to accomplish the very most important things that day – taking care of our daughter.
    It sounds like you are in the perfect frame of mind for starting this adventure – have minimal goals, but keep them in an open hand. Praying for you as you begin this wonderful new phase.ReplyCancel

  • February 17, 2017 - 12:27 pm

    Emily - The thing is, Diana, you have no idea what kind of baby you are going to get. One mother is not more organized than another necessarily. Maybe 2 mothers sat down, they set the same goals outlined here and they have high hopes for being intentional about their maternity leave. (I did! I laugh now…. looking back, the adage applied big time: You plan and God laughs). I got a blessing that DID NOT SLEEP consistently until almost 18 months of age. My child was awake anywhere from 2-6 times a night. This ravages your productivity and intentional goal setting for the next day. Your first few weeks, your goal sheet should be more like: goals- get a shower today. make sure I have actually ate a meal today. PERIOD. Don’t expect to do much else in the first few weeks, its survival for a new mom. Veteran moms, sure… they can set goals. They’ve been around this block more than once and know what is going to happen. They know they can ignore the baby when he cries at certain times and they know they can stretch that diaper another half hour. New moms have NO idea, no clue how to take care of this squealy, non-sleeping, little thing. You are dealing with a little person who has NO routine established…and who follows no rules except their own. You have to teach them how to sleep, get into an eating routine, a bath routine, a bedtime routine, etc. This will not happen overnight. Thats amazing that some random woman out there made a blog post and SHE felt like she met her “goals” during leave – good for her! But for your own sanity, and to really and truly SOAK UP this blessing and very very limited season you are in – I would eliminate the goals altogether. Even OCDers should take it down a LOT. I remember worrying about my house being clean when people came over to see the baby… .and worrying about silly nonsense… and running on zero sleep…and having a baby who had colick and had reflux which made her spit up her ENTIRE bottle and choke on it randomly. I had to let go. And it was soooo good for me! Here is a good goal mantra for your maternity leave: Let go and let God!

    I say this all with your best intentions in mind! Don’t look back at your maternity leave and find you didn’t truly enjoy this fleeting season because you were worried about timing your social media to exactly 90 minutes (don’t worry, if you are being an attentive mommy you wont have 90 minute for social media because when that baby is sleeping YOU will need to sleep, or shower, or change your clothes, or eat…even if its at 3pm in the afternoon).

    Throw out the expectations! Forget what other bloggers are doing. Good for that lady. It doesn’t mean you’ll get the same child she has (some people get babies who are naturally great sleepers from day 1 which is probably her case. Those women tend to have very high expectations for others and don’t “get it” when other moms cant be superwoman — hello, mine doesnt SLEEP. Sleep is an important attribute to being superwoman!) Let go, and let God! Put that out of office message up and ENJOY THIS TIME. You will never, ever get it back. If you don’t change out of your pajamas for 2 days — who cares! Love on that baby all you can. There will be plenty of time for real-people clothes later because leave goes QUICK.

    Enjoy!

    xoxoxoReplyCancel

    • February 17, 2017 - 12:43 pm

      Emily - Diana – I re-read my message (which I typed quick and passionately) and I hope you realize this is said out of LOVE. And, a little bit of frustration but just towards those women out there who act as if it can all be done… maybe the blogger you mentioned! Like I said, I felt judged by a lot of women like that for my child’s first year. They got it all done and then had the dozen brownies baked too. They just didnt understand why some women are zombies, or rather mombies. When I talked to them I ALWAYS discovered they had no issues with sleep or very limited issues. I just want to make sure you dont feel like I did! Like YOU are the issue. Women can be very catty and judgemental. Nobody is going to have YOUR exact baby or your exact situation. So dont hold yourself up to anyone elses standards (or even your own pre-baby standards, for that matter!). Your pre-baby self has no idea the wave that is about to wash over her. You are about to partake on the most amazing, rewarding and wonderful – yet most difficult thing you will ever do.
      Go easy on yourself!

      Love, EmReplyCancel

      • February 17, 2017 - 3:20 pm

        Diana Kerr - Thanks for commenting! If you check out my other goals posts, you’ll see that thankfully I never aim for 100% on my weekly + daily goals–I don’t believe in holding myself to impossible standards. It will be the same for these maternity leave goals! I certainly won’t despair if I don’t meet them perfectly.

        However, it’s always been a huge blessing to me to have goals as guidelines; they help me live my life focused on what matters, since this life is a gift from God that does not belong to me.

        The goals I’ve set are not about holding myself to a standard or impressing anyone else (Thankfully, God has freed me quite a bit from caring what people think about me or my house, etc.), but about living intentionally and focusing on my Lord, my baby, myself, and my hubby during this time. If I find that these goals detract from my ability to do that, I will change them. Like I said, they’re not set in stone. God has certainly taught me how to be flexible and that HE is the one in control as I’ve battled rheumatoid arthritis for a decade and had to loosen my grip on my own plans and intentions. :)

        I do sincerely appreciate your thoughts! Thanks for clarifying that you are speaking in love and not out of judgment. Like you said, women can be catty and judgmental! I hope we can all encourage each other even when motherhood looks different from one woman to the next.ReplyCancel

  • February 15, 2017 - 3:15 am

    Candace - So on putting on a bit of make up every day – I spent my entire 20s never bothering with make up much at all but with my most recent birthday I spent my gift money on some better quality mineral make up but doesn’t make my super sensitive skin feel like bleh. And then I told myself I would try to put on some every day or the very least we bit of concealer to cover up those natural dark circles under my eyes. I am blown. away. at how much of a difference it makes on my impression of my day. But then I got all introspective and started wondering have a just been waiting all this time to look nice to feel happy about my day (which is not so good place to start) or is this a legitimate good that I’m pursuing? Anyways a lot of days I don’t take the time to self-sabotage, haha, so I put the make up on anyways. Why do you think it is that that helps so much?
    Also I’m totally realizing I need someone to teach me how to do eyes! #latebloomerReplyCancel

    • February 15, 2017 - 12:57 pm

      Diana Kerr - Candace, I’m so with you! I will probably put a bit of makeup on most days because it does make me feel better, but I also struggle with that thought of “Shouldn’t I feel just as good without this–without having to enhance my appearance?” Actually, the girl who does my nails is treating me to those semi-permanent fake eyelashes you can get put on that last for a few weeks as my baby gift because she said, “I want you to feel good as a new mom!” I thought that was really thoughtful of her and a creative gift idea, and it honestly will make a difference I’m sure if my eyelashes look decent when I’m in the midst of total exhaustion. haha Truth be told, I battle these uncertain thoughts every single time I get my hair highlighted too. haha It has got to be one of those gray-area issues that really is more about heart and motive than the activity itself. :)

      As far as eyes, I just do eyeliner and mascara… the eye shadow comes out MAYBE about once a month… so I probably wouldn’t be much help there. ;) haha But if you have any magical concealer you use that works really well, I’m all ears. :)ReplyCancel