The biggest "thank you" of my life

I considered sending my mom a thank you card but that doesn't seem adequate enough. I need to announce to the world how incredible she is.

My mom came out at a moment's notice for Alex's birth.
She helped me get as close to what I wanted for the delivery as was possible once she got there.
She stayed up late with Alex.
She woke up in the middle of the night so that I could sleep.
She taught me little tricks like changing Alex's diaper while halfway done nursing to wake him up, leaning over his crib while putting him to sleep so he could still feel me breathing, and how to burp him without banging on his back.
She helped immensely with breastfeeding.
She taught me how to keep my finger between his skin and the zipper when zipping up his clothes.
She helped me cope with stretch marks.
She calmed me down when I was convinced that Alex was sick and dying.
She helped me feel comfortable talking out loud to him.
She taught me how to get the most out of wipes.
She helped me with grocery shopping.
She made me a sling.
She was someone to talk to so I wasn't alone.
She lived on our crazy hours the whole time she was with us.
She slept on an air mattress in the middle of our living room!
She packed up almost all of our stuff.
She drove Sam's car to Ithaca so we wouldn't have to tow it behind the moving truck.
She stayed with us for nineteen days.
She did so many more things, too. I remember them throughout the day when I realize that everything I am doing is something she taught me how to do. Yep, she is amazing.

Great-Grandma, Grandma, Mommy, and Alex


Matthew and Laura's Wedding

Alex went on his very first flight for Matthew's wedding! We left from Syracuse, had a layover in Chicago, and ended in Sacramento. He was so good on all of the flights but he was going crazy in the airports! That is definitely the way I would prefer him to do it. At least in the airport the people can walk away from the screaming baby!

I felt a little bit like a pillow.

It's been a long day.

Grandpa (my dad) meeting Alex for the first time!

Uncle Flannel leaves on his mission in October and this will be the last time he sees Alex for at least two years!

Matthew and Laura coming out of the temple!

The "Whoops" picture.

At the wedding breakfast. My Grandma (Neil) told me that it "looks like you still have a baby in there." Thanks, Grandma. I only have five pounds left before I am back to my pre-pregnancy weight but my body has changed and I don't think I can unstretch my skin. Sad, sad day.

Alex discovered himself in the mirror!

Adam is the youngest sibling so he doesn't have a lot of experience with babies but he was so good with Alex!

My beautiful/handsome parents!

My Grandpa and Grandma (Mom's parents). Love them. So much.

My brothers. They are all awesome. Best brothers ever.

Michelle and Sheldon. Michelle is 16 weeks pregnant and still looks amazing!

Matthew wanted to put the cake in her face so badly but they had made a deal that if he didn't put the cake in her face then he could take off the garter any way he wanted.

So Matthew didn't put the cake in her face. Boring...

But he sure did take her up on that "any way you want" part. Now I am traumatized.

They did a waltz! Who does that?! It was so impressive!

Laura's parents, Matthew and Laura, Matthew's parents

My cousin Carlee caught the bouquet! She was jumping over everyone!

Another long day for Alex.

At the airport waiting for our flight home.

Super off topic but I used the restroom in the Sacramento airport. While I was sitting on the toilet, it flushed four times automatically! Then once I stood up it wouldn't flush and I had to push the little button! Ridiculous!

Oh yeah, and welcome to the family, Laura!



We were running out of time in Ohio. We had lived one hour away from Kirtland for four months and still had not gone. So we corrected that six days before moving away.
Kirtland Temple

Newel K. Whitney store

After we left Kirtland, we took Alex to Lake Erie so he could experience his first large body of water. (No, me pregnant does not qualify as a large body of water.)

My mom putting Alex's hand in the water.

He didn't seem to mind the water!


Labor Story

I love reading labor stories so I wanted to record mine for your reading pleasure. I have a pretty good timeline of things because I was texting Sam and my mom throughout the day. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 30th
Sam and I went and worked out like we do every night. When we got home, we made dinner and while we were eating I started feeling really sick. I ended up lying on the couch for a couple of minutes. I started feeling much better so I finished dinner, cleaned it up, showered, and went to bed.

Friday, July 31st

I woke up with lower back pain. I hadn't had any back pain the entire pregnancy and I had heard that back pain is how contractions start. When my back would hurt I would feel my stomach to feel if it was getting tighter and it didn't feel any different. I tried to figure out what contractions felt like. Everyone said I would know them when they happened, but I had no idea!
11:56am - Texted Sam "I can't get myself to do anything. My stomach hurts so badly. Every time I start cleaning I have to sit down."
2:30 - Spencer came to visit us and we went out to T.G.I. Friday's with him. After lunch we played cards. My back was hurting the whole time. I was sitting awkwardly and kept trying to explain to him that I wasn't usually like that. I was still in denial that they were real contractions. I did not think Alex would come before his due date!
4:30 - Spencer left and Sam went to work.
6:40 - Diarrhea... Yummy.
6:58 - Texted my mom to tell her that I had diarrhea and back pain. The pain in my stomach felt like I was hungry. My back felt like I had thrown it out. I was so thirsty.
7:55 - Began timing contractions. Eight minutes apart. It started with faint back pain, almost as if it was just my imagination. Then I got severe back and stomach pain. Then the stomach pain faded away and I was just left with back pain. My head would feel hot, like boiling hot pressure in my ears. My legs felt slightly numb. And Alex would poke out on the left side every time I had a contraction.
8:19 - Contractions are six minutes apart (and continue to be six minutes apart until 11:00pm).
8:40 - Talked to my mom and she said she would fly out in the morning. I talked her out of it but she told me to call her back in one hour.
9:27 - Still unsure if they were really contractions. My stomach didn't feel any tighter.
9:38 - Being comforted through texts by Sam that it would be okay if this was just a false alarm. Despite what I thought, the baby would come eventually.
9:58 - My mom buys a flight for tonight at 11:30 (Arizona time).
10:20 - Sam arrives home.
11:00 - Go for a walk instead of working out.
12:00 - Eat dinner.

Saturday, August 1st

1:45 - Contractions were four minutes apart. I couldn't sleep.
2:10 - Contractions were three minutes apart (and continued this way until we left to the hospital and I stopped timing them).
2:30 - Sam fell asleep. I got in the shower.
3:00 - Tried to sleep between contractions. Bad idea. I woke up only remembering the pain. It was constant pain. One contraction to the next. I was writing down the start times of my contractions. It seemed like time wasn't even moving.
5:30 - Every time I woke up I had the name Guillermo in my head. But it wasn't just the name. It was the image of the name. After Alex was born I kept dreaming about that name. I asked Sam if we should have named our son Guillermo but he was adamantly opposed. I do not know a single person named Guillermo. It was so weird.
7:30 - Woke up Sam and started packing for the hospital.
8:10 - Left to the hospital. Called a friend and asked her to pick up my mom from the airport.
8:20 - Stopped for gas. On the way to the hospital. While having contractions. Great planning, eh? Contractions started slowing down on the drive. The car ride was the most comfortable I had been in hours.
8:50 - Got strapped up to the monitors. They told me I would be staying. I was only dilated to 4cm but was completely effaced.
10:15 - Still lying on my back (which I heard was the worst way to handle the pain but I couldn't even imagine moving because I was so exhausted). They asked me if I wanted an epidural and I said, "Yes." I had a list of things to talk myself through the pain and I didn't care anymore. I didn't want to feel anything else. I cried over it though because I really wanted to do it naturally.
10:30 - The nurses told me that I wasn't progressing because every time I had a contraction I would hold my breath and tighten my entire body. I cannot explain the pain I felt in my back. I just wanted to stay still so it would stop. But staying still didn't help. Moving didn't help. Nothing helped. It just hurt. It consumed my entire body and mind. I can't explain it. Contractions were still three minutes apart.
11:00 - Anesthesiologist showed up and gave me the epidural. Meanwhile, my mom arrived from the airport and they wouldn't let her in the room (something about a sterile environment during the epidural... blah, blah). She had some words for the nurses. The pain was getting a lot better before I even had the epidural. Just because I was sitting up. I should have started moving around a lot sooner. But my head was telling me not to move. It is better once it is actually done, but it is hard to do during the pain.
11:10 - The doctor broke my water. I went to a group practice that had four doctors and I had met with three of them. The doctor on call when I went into labor was the one doctor I had never met with. What are the chances of that?! Dilated to 6cm.
12:00 - Fully dilated. Time to start pushing.
1:00 - I asked for a mirror so I could see what I was doing since I could not feel anything. I had no idea when I was having contractions and couldn't feel myself pushing.
2:00 - The doctor threatened to use the vacuum to get the baby out because his heart rate was dropping during the contractions and was taking too long to come back up.
2:02 - I got with the program and started pushing right.
2:03 - Alexander Paton Merkley was born!

"And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain! Yea, I say unto you, my son, that there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains. Yea, and again I say unto you, my son, that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy." -Alma 36:20-21



Today has been a nice day. I was able to enjoy memories of Rachael with my mom here with me. I am so grateful that Rachael was in my life. It is rare that a day goes by without me thinking about her. She has affected me in so many ways. Her death has strengthened my testimony and taught me how to love. I love to think that she was taking care of Alex before he joined us.

On 23 February 1995 she wrote in her journal, "For one of my goals I am watching to see that people love me. I know my Dad loves me because he goes to work every day so I can have food on my plate. I know my Mom loves me because she is so supporting, loving, kind, and patient with me. I know Michelle loves me because she puts up with me. I know Matthew loves me because he will include me in his games even though I exclude him. I know Emily loves me because every night she gives me a love and tells me so. I know Nathanael loves me because he likes me to hang out with him. I know Jared loves me because he asks me to do things for him and with him and I love him too."

David and Adam were not born yet when she wrote that but she later wrote about them.
3 April 1997 - "We went and got our pictures taken today... David was being so cute when you would say "Smile" he would shut his eyes hard and grin. I could hardly stop laughing."
21 March 1999 - "It was so windy that day. I was struggling to stay on the path. It was funny to watch Adam try." (This isn't a super lovey-dovey excerpt but it made me laugh.)

Four years later and I still miss her.
Families can be together forever.


The final week

Before Alex came along, we decided to take one more trip to Columbus. We went an extra hour to see one of Sam's friends from the mission who now lives in Cincinnati.

Sam, Rob, Holly, Matt, and Ellie

My brother-in-law is a professor at Ohio State so I went to his class while Sam was working. It was very interesting and he is a great teacher!
I was very sneaky while taking this picture.

We went to the Akron Zoo and were quite impressed with the size of it! It wasn't huge, but we were very tired by the time we were done!

The "this is as big as I get" picture. I was in the early stages of labor when we took this picture.

Spencer came to visit on Friday, July 31st. He is a friend from Utah who worked with Sam in Fresno and Denver (Summer 2007 and 2008). I was complaining about back pain the whole time he was here and I was trying to figure out if I was in labor. Turns out that I was!

Tuesday Thyme: Breakfast Ring

Breakfast Ring

serves 4

1/3 c. margarine
1/3 c. brown sugar
3-4 T. raisins (optional)
1 can (8 oz.) refrigerator biscuits
1 T. water
1 t. cinnamon
1/3 c. chopped nuts

1. In an 8" round glass dish, combine margarine, brown sugar, water, and cinnamon.
2. Microwave 35-45 seconds on high, or until margarine is melted.
3. Stir in raisins and nuts.
4. Cut each biscuit into 4 equal pieces and add to other ingredients. Mix carefully with a fork until all biscuits are coated.
5. Push biscuits away from center and place custard cup in center forming a ring.
6. Microwave uncovered for 3 minutes and 30 seconds on high (or until biscuits are no longer doughy).
7. Turn ring out onto serving dish. Eat while still warm.


Announcing the arrival of...

Alexander Paton Merkley!
Born August 1st, 2009 at 2:03pm
7 pounds, 9 ounces
20 inches


Pregnancy Letter #10

Dear Due Date,

I don't know if you remember, but you and I set up an appointment about nine months ago to go to the hospital together on August 6th. It's been a while since we talked last and I just wanted to make sure you remembered. If you need to move the appointment earlier then that would be fine but later is not an option!

Thanks and hope to see you soon,

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