Trees of Transition

Comfort for people going through life transitions by sharing thoughts, photos, cards, and recipes.


Molly’s Birth Story!


I did not expect our baby girl to be born on Christmas Day because she was due December 16th! Her due date came and went, and I kept taking walks and enjoying my two year old, Joel, and husband, Stephen. Then my Mom and a family friend, Judy, came on December 20th to help and be ready for when the baby decided to come. During these days of waiting, I had to come to grips with the fact that this was a different pregnancy and would be a different labor than with Joel. I was happy that I had given birth before, but I was expecting it to be similar to Joel’s labor, and I had to set down those expectations.

I kept doing prenatal yoga, walking at the mall with Stephen, eating spicy Thai food, but no baby. On December 23rd, 2019 my midwife said I could try drinking some castor oil and see if that would start labor (if the baby is ready to come, the oil just helps start labor). She advised to do it after a good night’s sleep, so after I talked with my husband we decided that I take the oil on Christmas Eve.

All the bottles of Certified Organic Castor Oil at Whole Foods said to not eat it, but it IS edible– it just doesn’t taste like much (it’s like eating a teaspoon of thick oil, so that’s why I put it with juice. Some people might get diarrhea or throw up after they take it, but I didn’t have any of those reactions). I bought a bottle of organic castor oil, and took 1 1/2 teaspoons in the morning with some orange juice and then another 1 teaspoon dose four hours later and then another 1 teaspoon dose six hours later around dinner time.

In the afternoon, my mom and I had taken a two mile walk and had talked in a deeper way than we had in the days before. I think that help me relax more. At church’s Christmas Eve service, the last song was “Silent Night,” and I had been singing that every night to Joel for months. As the chords on the song started, I felt myself relax in a deeper way than I had for a long time. Tears washed down my face as we sang that carol. We picked up Joel from his class and took a family picture, and headed home, I took my last dose of castor oil, and labor started around 7 PM!

So around 7 PM, while I was going to the bathroom, contractions started in a pretty strong and consistent way. Mom set up a Swedish candle chime, and Mom and Joel were enjoying watching it when I came out of the bathroom, and I told them that contractions were happening consistently. I started timing them, and they were about four minutes apart.

Around 7:30pm, Stephen and I put Joel to bed together; we had sung to him, read books with him, and told him he would see his new sister soon!

After an hour or so, I called the midwife to let them know that labor had started. Jenni told me to keep on timing the contractions for another hour and then call back. So I lay on the ground looking at the Christmas tree and working through the contractions and talking to my mom and Judy.

When I called back Jenni around 9:30 PM, she said to come in and meet them around 10:30pm at the birth center because my labor was continuing! Then we watched the end of It’s A Wonderful Life which is my favorite part of the movie, and we finished packing our bags and got in the car.

Mom stayed at home with Joel, and Judy came with us to be our support person and photographer.

The birth center was in an office building, and our cars were the only ones at the place! I walked up to the birth center because the contractions weren’t too strong yet.

Grace, the student midwife, was leading the birth, and Jenni was a midwife who was overseeing Grace. Our birth attendant was Patty. At 7 AM the overseeing midwife switched to Candace, and the birth attendant switched to Nina. Grace stayed the whole time!

So we settled into the room with the windows and that had the big “breathe” sign on the wall. Around 11 PM, Grace checked to see how much I had dilated, and I was 5 cm already! So she sent us to the stairs to do lunges. At the bottom of the stairs there was a crack in the doors that let in cool air from outside, and it felt really refreshing to breathe in the cold, moist air. Stephen did a great job coaching me and showing me how to do different kinds of lunges. We laughed while we lunged up and down those stairs!

We went back to the room and rested for a while on the bed, and then did one more round of stairs. Maybe around 2 AM they checked me again, and I was 7 cm dilated. They got the large, round tub ready, and I got in and just relaxed in there for a while but also did some squats during contractions. Stephen kept feeding me nuts, fruit jelly candy, beef stew, Shaklee Performance Drink , and water. Then he laid down on the bed for an hour and a half and got some sleep; I fell sleep for maybe 15 minutes in the tub in-between contractions. Patty put on a diffuser with Clary Sage Essential Oil , and the contractions weren’t very hard, so I could really relax. The hot water in the tub felt so good—I liked lying with my back to the side of the round tub and my head leaning against the edge.

Patty would come in every hour and then every half an hour to check the baby’s heartbeat, and Grace would come in about every hour or so to check in and see how we were doing. They were encouraged by how well we were working together!

When it turned midnight I started saying “Merry Christmas”! Stephen played Christmas carols over the speakers for me all morning and until Molly arrived.

In the morning around 8 AM, they checked me, and I was about 8 1/2 cm dilated. I tried the peanut ball between my legs on the bed, and went in the tub some more. Then mid-morning, Nina suggested I try some squatting with this cloth rope attached to the wall during contractions so I did that a little bit, and sat on the Birthing Ball which felt really nice.

Around 11 AM we talked about breaking my water to help speed up labor. So I was in the tub a little bit more, and then I felt ready that we could break my waters, and we did that around noon. The contractions were already starting to get stronger; there was meconium (Molly had pooped) in the water, but because her heartbeat was strong the midwives were not concerned.

Pretty soon I started having strong contractions (and feelings of “I don’t want to do this anymore!”—which means baby is nearly born.) I started feeling the urge to push, so I got into the tub and started figuring out how to work with the pushing contractions. For the birth of my son in a hospital, I had to hold back the pushing contractions because they said my cervix wasn’t fully out of the way; holding back pushing contractions is the hardest thing I had done.

I did not have to hold back these contractions this time, so it felt a little strange to learn how to manage them and let them work; they are powerful! So I asked for help from the midwife to know how to count with them and how to push down at the right time. Stephen was holding my left hand, and Judy was holding my right hand during the pushing contractions. Stephen was putting a cold cloth on my forehead and on my breastbone, which felt so nice. I didn’t want my arms in the hot water of the tub.

So we pushed for maybe 20 minutes. I never was in any searing pain; the water helped a lot. I could feel the baby coming down this time (I don’t remember feeling any of that with my son). I felt her head come down and come out and then go back in. And then with the next push her head came out and stayed out. Grace said I could reach down and touch her hair, and at first I didn’t want to, but then I did and she has a lot more hair than Joel! It was fun to feel her hair. There were nice breaks in between the pushing contractions, where I could rest, drink some water, and get ready for the next one. Grace and Stephen had to remind me to not shrink back from the pain, and it go with it, and with receiving that encouragement helped me pull on my strength and God‘s strength to push Molly out.

So then her head was out and they were encouraging me that one more big push we get her out, and so I pushed giving it my all, and then Molly was here! She came up through the water, into my arms, and she started looking at us. We first noticed her right high cheek dimple and dark brown hair; and then she was crying, and we were so happy to see her!!! We got to do delayed cord clamping. She was purple and then really quickly turned pink; she was perfect! She was born at 2:10 PM in the afternoon on a foggy Christmas day.

We stayed in the water for about 10 minutes before they wanted me to move to the bed so that we could work on getting the placenta out. I let Molly start nursing, and she figured it out very easily. Her eyes were wide open, and it was so fun to look into her face. Stephen thought she might have dark hair, and she did!

About 20 minutes later I gave one push in the placenta came out, and we were careful about watching the bleeding this time (I had a lot of bleeding after Joel in the hospital). Nina pushed on my stomach a lot and got some blood clots out. And kept checking me every 10 minutes, and then we decided to get a shot of Pitocin to help stop the bleeding, and it worked! I have felt so much stronger this time because I didn’t lose much blood.

Stephen brought me a turkey pot pie to eat, he ate beef stew, and we just got to relax and enjoy Molly for a while. Stephen got to hold Molly and do some skin to skin during the two hour window right after birth. Then I had to get sewn up, because I had a second-degree tear and some stretching. So Grace carefully sewed me up.

Then Grace measured Molly and did her newborn checkup. Molly was 9 lbs. 4 oz. I did not expect her to be so close to her brother’s weight! She was nine days late, and a little smaller than her brother’s 9 lb. 8 oz. She was 21 inches long. Then I got to take a shower, which felt wonderful; then Molly and I passed our blood pressure checks. We had to have three of them that were normal before we can leave, and so we started to get ready to leave around 6 PM. Birth centers don’t have space for you to stay overnight, so it was wonderful to go home so quickly!

Midwife Candace knitted Molly a little Santa hat during labor! We took some pictures with her, got our placenta (which we planted in the back garden), and put Molly in a pink nightgown from a friend, and took her home!

When we got home, Adam and Anni were there with mom, and Joel had just went to bed. He went upstairs and would not come downstairs, so Mom put him to bed. We didn’t get to see him at all on Christmas Day, but Mom did some presents with him and got to be with him all day. Lorna was happy to see Molly, and Lenny was asleep. Adam cooked shrimp for all of us, and Ani had ham and cranberry sauce, which tasted really good. Molly was asleep, and then we took her upstairs and then I took my first sitz bath, and then we went to bed. Molly was a little fussy so I picked her up and I was trying to quiet her, and then three hours later woke up with her in my arms! And she quieted down and went to sleep.

In the morning, Molly was screeching when Stephen was changing her diaper, and Joel came into our room to see what the noise was. I was sitting on the bed and I could give him hugs and snuggle with him. Then Stephen brought Molly over for him to see and he gave her some nice pats and smiled at her. It was a great beginning to their relationship. I am so thankful for two children who are doing well and a wonderful husband who knows how to coach me during birth in an amazing way (the midwives said he should become a professional birth coach—he is the best!). Thank you God for these gifts!

I’m so thankful we have had this little girl in our home, especially during the past months of quarantine. What do I appreciate about our little girl? Her bright blue eyes that smile and twinkle a lot, her squeals of joy, and that she likes to be with me, her brother, and her Daddy. She is such a peaceful and joyful gift from God.

P. S. If you want to read Joel’s Birth Story, check it out here: Our 50-Hour Birth Story /// The Bradley Method Works

Copyright 2020

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P.S. Thank you for stopping by! I insert affiliate links, such as from  Amazon, into my posts to share interesting books and products. If you buy something or start a registry, I receive income (at no extra cost to you!), for which I am thankful. So…..

— Use this link to shop on  Amazon

–shop at my Etsy photo card shop: Trees of Transition Art & Design

–keep on reading this blog.

Thank you again, and peace to you and your family!

~Mary Hope

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Teaching the Christmas Story to Our Son

img_0991Three days ago, Stephen held our 13-month old, Joel, as I pulled out the Nativity stable and set it on the top of a bookshelf. Then we got to unwrap the characters in the story! First we pulled out the angel to hang on top of the stable: Joel liked touching her wings. Next we unwrapped Mary. As I showed the figure to Joel, I said, “This is Jesus’ mother!” Then we found baby Jesus lying in his manger—Joel was interested because he likes babies. And then we unwrapped Joseph, as I said, “This is Jesus’ earthly father!” We enjoyed looking at it for a minute more before he wanted to get down and play.

Yesterday I picked up Joel so he could see the Nativity scene again and I told him more of the story, “Jesus came down to earth as a baby because He loves us!” He looked at the figures thoughtfully—it felt like he understood what I was saying. Then he smiled and wanted down so he could play.

It is such an honor to teach him this beautiful true story!

I don’t remember when I first heard the story of Jesus’ birth from Luke 2 in the Bible, but it was early like we are teaching Joel. He is enjoying the colored lights, music, and seeing friends; I’m glad we get to share with him whose birthday celebration this day is in honor of!

We aren’t the only one teaching him the Christmas story; a couple of weeks ago at church we came back to the nursery to pick up Joel and he had colored his first picture at church! I love seeing those colored marks–his coloring skills consist of making dashes and sometimes dots.

Merry Christmas from our family to yours! May your 2019 be amazing and full of delightful transitions.

Love, Mary Hope and the guys

Copyright 2018

P.S. Thank you for stopping by! I insert affiliate links, such as from  Amazon, into my posts to share interesting books and products. If you buy something or start a registry, I receive income (at no extra cost to you!), for which I am thankful. So…..

— Use this link to shop on  Amazon

–shop at my Etsy photo card/notecard/art shop: Trees of Transition Art & Design

–keep on reading this blog.

Thank you again, and peace to you and your family!

~Mary Hope

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Spicy Beef Crockpot Chili

I cooked up this chili to celebrate that I can eat tomatoes again!! After realizing last winter that my breast milk made my son spit up and have burps when I ate tomatoes, I stopped eating tomatoes for 11 months. (I sure missed chili, pizza, and spaghetti). Now that Joel is one, he seems to handle tomato-y milk better. He even had a couple of bites of the chili, but isn’t a fan yet.

Yay for tomatoes!!!

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Teaching Babies to Love the Bible // Children’s Bible Recommendations

Stephen and I take turns reading the Bible to Joel before bed.

One day a couple of months ago, after Joel woke up from his morning nap, in his still-sleepy state, he cuddled with me for a bit. I keep books on the dresser near his chair, and on this day he reached for his children’s Bible, so I brought it over for him to hold.

He studied the cover intently; his eyes scrunched into a smile as he looked down at the picture of Jesus. There was love in his eyes.

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What Can Be Done to Make Momma Happy?

My son was looking at my copy of this book a few weeks ago…he wanted to chew the corners.

As a child, when my Mom was happy, I knew it—her face relaxed, she smiled, and she talked a lot more; I could relax then. When she was perturbed, I got nervous and scared. At breakfast, I remember looking at my Mom’s face to see how she was doing that day.

A mother at peace is like a bright lighthouse shining across the waves. What makes mothers happy? Is there a secret to staying peaceful? I don’t think there’s just one secret, there’s actually a bunch of habits mothers can do to grow peace in their hearts, which comes out of their eyes, into their children, and everyone who walks by.

A book that has helped me grow in peace and confidence as a Mom is The 10 Habits of Happy Mothers: Reclaiming Our Passion, Purpose, and Sanity by Dr. Meg Meeker. Dr. Meeker, as a pediatrician, has met hundreds of moms and has distilled traits she has seen in happy mothers. Continue reading

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Making Music with Baby

Music helps transitions go easier. My son’s eyes brighten, he zeros in, and calms down when we turn on music for him! When I brought out his Baby Einstein Discover and Play Piano last week, he reached for it and then played with it for over twenty minutes. He picked it up, would roll onto it, and it would play music…the buttons are easily pushed, so while he was figuring it out, he was alreay making it play. When he pushed the keys for the first time and made music on his own, it made my heart so glad! I play the piano and am excited to teach him to play, if he desires. I was fixing dinner in the kitchen while he figured it out–he would lose his grasp on it, roll on it, then hang on to it again, and it played music the whole time–single notes or snatches of classical songs.

Here are some recommendations for some musical baby toys that aren’t annoying:

The first one is the Baby Einstein Discover and Play Piano. A six-month old, like my son, can easly push the buttons, and it plays little snatches of songs, it meows, and it says the names of the instruments and numbers in English, Spanish, and French. My Mom bought it for my son, and he loves it!

Another great toy that I let my son hold while changing his diaper or on long car rides when he is getting fussy:
Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes Musical Toy

Stephen’s cousin gave us this handy musical toy, and sometimes when Joel is cranky while on the changing table or screaming on a long car ride, this toy, that plays four different classical tunes and lights up to the rythum of the music, is a life-saver.

I sing with my baby–as we do exercises, to calm him down…whenever I feel like it. If you don’t feel like singing, here’s some calming music that has helped my baby sleep:

Enjoy making music with your baby!


~Mary Hope

P.S. If you are going to a baby shower soon or just want some music for your baby: Here’s a link so that you can get both of these plus a bendy ball (that I haven’t tried yet, but it looks like my son would love it!) check out this combo deal:
Baby Einstein Discover and Play Piano with Take Along Tunes & Bendy Ball


Copyright 2018

P. P. S. Thank you for stopping by! I insert affiliate links, such as  Amazon, into my posts to share interesting books and products. If you buy something or start a registry, I receive income (at no extra cost to you!), for which I am thankful. So….

— Use this link to shop on  Amazon

–shop at my Etsy photo card/notecard/art shop: Trees of Transition Art & Design

–keep on reading this blog.

Thank you again, and peace to you and your family!

~Mary Hope



Leave a comment

How It Feels to Have a Baby Inside of You

Having a little human inside of you was one of the parts of pregnancy I looked forward to; it is currently one of my favorite things about being pregnant! Our little guy has been pretty gentle (like his Papa), and my placenta is in front, so that cushioned his movements until he grew past that in the last few months. Continue reading


Inspiration from My Baby’s Confidence

The baby boy just latched on to get the milk for his lunch, eyes closed, mouth working, fish lips; he knows he will get food! Seeing his confidence inspires me — he knows that he will be taken care of; I can choose to believe that I will be taken care of too by my husband and, most importantly, by my Heavenly Father! Continue reading


Weird Noises in Church (No Less!)

The four month baby boy in his plaid shirt smiled and then let out a huge, “Shurrrrrrrrtttttt,” –a big pooping sounds mixed with the sputter of a fart in the quietness of the church’s sanctuary. His parents, my husband, and I just bent over, with our hands in front of our mouths in started silent laughter Continue reading


Cousin Love

My four-year-old nephew, Jack said, “Can I see him!?” as he scooted his way over toward me, and I had to shove our baby’s presents out of the way and have him climb up next to me.

At first he had noticed the baby’s feet sticking out from under the nursing cover where I was feeding the baby. He asked, “Did you have the baby before you came here today?” I responded, “No, it was about five weeks ago.”

Jack was looking at those whale stockinged feet, and then he asked me to pull off the cover so he can see Joel. So I pulled the cover off and then he asked, “Can I hold him?” I answered, “Sure!” And I handed the baby over to Jack to hold. Joel had been fussy, but then when Jack started holding him, Joel snuggled into his arms and went back to sleep!

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