This past Sunday our family of three ventured out to the National Aquarium for Dollar Day – where you get to enter the aquarium for $1 a person. We figured we’d take advantage of this offer and make a day out of it to create memories with our growing boy. (Kent side note – Ashleigh was WIDE awake and giddy as all get out by 6am.) We waited in line for an hour and a half to get our tickets. It was a bad day for Kent to forget his winter jacket but all in all the wait really wasn’t bad. Being surrounded by the beautiful harbor and the excited faces were more than enough to keep our baby at ease. He made plenty of seagull and human friends during our wait. We really didn’t know if Kai would enjoy the aquarium or if it would be a hassle the whole time, but Kai blew away our expectations as he pointed and babbled away about the whole aquatic experience. This babe loved tracking with the sealife in their tanks and smiling at each tiny human that stood near him. Our favorite parts of the aquarium were the jellyfish (some you can touch), a HUGE sea turtle, brightly colored or oddly shaped fish, and the crazy jumping puffins. We finished up our day by getting a slice of the Cheesecake Factory cheesecake. I loved every moment of soaking up snuggles with my boy and watching his face light up with joy as he beheld all of the fun creatures God has made.
I finally had a moment to process the last three months and here are my honest thoughts about them. When Kai was born I didn’t feel a deep connection to him for the first three weeks. I felt bad, but I just didn’t. I missed having the ability to sleep when I wanted, eat anytime I needed, be alone with Kent, have time to myself (even just to shower), go anywhere, and do anything I wanted. I felt that Kai was just draining me. I had no appetite and couldn’t sleep for a good two weeks. Breastfeeding was a constant challenge and Kai kept developing infections along with all three of us getting colds. It was exhausting to say the least…especially after an extremely three hard days of labor. I had thoughts like, “why is this so hard for me?” “It seems like other moms don’t have these issues.” “Will I ever sleep or feel normal again?” It was rough. Mommyhood isn’t glamorous, but it is worth it. No one makes my heart melt quite like Kai can when he smiles at me (I spend most of my day trying to see that smile). I hang on every coo he makes. I love how his whole little hand can wrap around my one finger and how his big beady eyes look up at me while he’s nursing. Seeing Kent interact with Kai warms my heart. Some nights I still wake up four or more times to feed him. He’s not a great napper. He has a lot of grumpy days. Most of the time we can’t go out with friends in the evening, because Kai screams furiously in the car. Things can get lonely around here. With all of that in mind I still wouldn’t change where I’m at. I keep telling myself that I’ll never get to relive these baby stages, but I will one day have time to myself and to just be with my husband again. We knew we’d have a strong little man…the Lord told us so. Kai’s name means overcomer and victory. We’ve certainly overcome many challenges in the three little months Kai has been breathing air. God lavishes His grace abundantly on us to be able to raise Kai. I’d be a mess without being able to rely on Jesus who overcame it all. He understands. He gave it all for me and intern I will give all for my son. My calling right now is to raise up my baby to know his Father deeper than I ever did at his age. We’ve created an eternal being…the most precious kind of gift God will ever give us. I’m praying to rest and enjoy this season trough all of its depths and heights.
We are so excited to be posting some of our favorite photos from Kai’s birth!
Kim Sanderson, one of my (Kent’s) photography mentors, started a new photography business recently – Imprint Birth Photographers – and we were thrilled at the idea that we would have absolutely incredible images of our birth story that we would get to look back on at any moment. We would get to relive all of the trials and triumphs leading up to Kai’s birth in a candid, photojournalistic story. Kim has also been an important part of our lives, and she photographed our wedding with her husband John. (Yay Sanderson Images! Nailed it.)
Our birth story, for those of you who have read it, didn’t at all go according to our plan. Kim was there early and on the ball, but unfortunately as Ashleigh labored through the night and then ceased progressing.. we had to reconsider our options as Kim was unavailable on the Saturday that Ashleigh was induced. However, because birth is unpredictable, the women at Imprint were totally ready and Joyous Snyder arrived at Ephrata hospital with camera in hand.
If you want to read more about our birth story in particular you can go here:
Joyous captured some seriously stunning images. Time moves so oddly during labor. In some ways, the time flies, but at the same time it just seems like it will never come. It’s similar to how our wedding day felt. As with our wedding photographs that Kim and John captured, we were overjoyed that Joyous was able to capture the miracle of Ashleigh’s labor and our sons birth. Joyous did an absolutely phenomenal job of not only capturing the moments that we cherished, but she very tenderly walked the line of being photojournalistic and candid.. (there were times where neither of us even noticed she was there!).. but she also took great care in caring for us as more than just clients (she prayed for us, and was a huge encouragement to Ashleigh and I through all of the ups and downs that came.)
Now I can forever see the moments where…
- we both encouraged each other along throughout the labor.
- we embraced the emotions of each new stage and decision.
- the moments where he first arrived and we saw him for the very first time.
- our overjoyed expressions after finally holding our little man.
- how he first held his hands together and the nurse said “It looks like he’s praying”
… Because in the moment you truly don’t even understand what all is going on. To look back on it all is more beautiful than words can express.
Here is a link to their website:
We can not recommend Imprint Birth Photographers enough. They totally blew us away! I hope you enjoy.
Hey everyone! Kent here.
Super super super exciting news. We are parents! I guess, truth be told, we were parents at conception – but I’ll put it this way; our son ran out of womb! Kai Rowan Mast was born on September 6th, 2015 at 1:22am. 7lb’s 11 oz, 20 inches long.
I decided to take my camera along and create a fun little film to announce our little man and the labor story. This film only captures a brief bit of the story, so I will type our more detailed story below the film, for anyone who wants to know.
We were all geared up and ready to have a natural birth. Ashleigh and I had taken a twelve-week course going over the Bradley Method. This is just where we landed personally after thinking through some of the options. There are plenty of methods to labor, and this really is a secondary issue, which I feel is necessary to say because as people we can get really.. bent out of shape about preferences, mixing up facts and opinions.
Ashleigh began experiencing really terrible back pain on Thursday afternoon around 4pm. It was so intense that we took notice. She has a high pain threshold, and was barely able to move. We called Birthcare and began the drive. When we arrived we found out that she was 2cm dilated and 70% effaced. This was amazing news because we didn’t know she was dilated at all. We believed that this was tremendous back labor, and in the not-so-distant future we would be birthing at Birthcare. We decided to stay there to time our contractions, which ended up occurring every few minutes, lasting a minute and a half or two. This was really.. alarming, and led us to believe that we were much further along in the labor than we anticipated. After staying there a few hours, the midwife checked her again to find her 4cm dilated. We were amazed – this was really happening, and quicker than we anticipated. The back pain didn’t let up, and Ashleigh labored through the night.
However, around 5am we realized there was really no progression and things had come essentially to a halt. In addition, Ashleigh had been unable to sleep or rest due to the pain, and was in no condition with her energy levels to even try birthing a baby. We tried going home to see if Ashleigh would be able to rest. The back pain continued drilling into her, and after 24 hours of trying different things (warm showers/baths, medication, rest, etc) we had run out of options. We had also ran into an unsettling truth the night before – Ashleigh didn’t think it was actually back labor, she felt that the excruciating pain was coming from her kidney.
We arrived at WellSpan Ephrata Community Hospital and regrouped. Ashleigh was basically a day or so shy of her due date. Ashleigh needed an ultrasound to see how serious the condition of her kidney was. This is where The Lord continued to take our birth plan in His hands and give us new plans. Her kidney was fully functioning, and there were no visible kidney stones, but the kidney pain in general needed an epidural and there was no way around it. In addition to that, she would need to get an IV drip that would induce her labor because the urologist told us that birth needed to happen immediately in order to correctly scan and diagnose what was going on with the kidney. We had wanted to avoid both an epidural and inducing because of what we had learned about babies who were born naturally versus receiving medication, but at this point there were no other options. The pain Ashleigh was going through was tiring her out and we needed to get her rest. We spent the night at the hospital and decided to induce her the following morning.
The next day they began inducing her and she went to 6cm dilated, 90% effaced, and they broke her water. They decided to try taking her off of the induction medicine to see if her body would naturally progress from that point, but after putting in an internal monitor to test the strength of the contractions, we realized her contractions were not strong enough to bring us to labor. She had actually begun regressing to 80% effaced. We thought we would be having the baby by 7 or 8pm, but as 6:30pm approached we knew that was no longer a reality. They put the medicine back on and decided to move forward into labor.
Around 10:30pm that evening Ashleigh began pushing. Sidenote – when in that final stage of labor, time is so bizarre. Those next three hours passed so quickly, and yet each moment was very intense. About an hour and a half into pushing we began to see his head and were greatly encouraged that things would be wrapping up within three, four, maybe five big contractions.
An hour and a half later and we were nearing the three hour mark of labor. Around three hours, for the safety of the mother and the baby, hospitals begin to tell mothers they need a C-Section. Kai was in the correct position, and we could see his head for a very long time, but he was attempting to come out at a slight angle, and between Ashleigh’s smaller size, and Kai’s head size, that angle caused an additional hour and a half of pushing to bring us within ten minutes of the C-Section. Ashleigh, her mom, our midwife, and everyone in the room was incredibly helpful and necessary. We would not have been able to do it without any of them. Finally at 1:22am, Kai Rowan Mast was born to my brave, amazing, wonderful wife and I.
Kai’s umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck, which our midwife saw and immediately took action. That was in addition to other circumstances, and instead of having a wonderful mother-son moment immediately after the labor, Kai was quickly pulled out, had his cord cut, and rushed into the hands of two nurses who noticed that he hadn’t cried or gasped for air. He was potentially in a state of shock after the labor and for the first minute we were all very nervous. It was definitely a whirlwind, and emotions felt very high for the first several minutes as we didn’t know if everything was okay. His heart rate had begun dropping lower than our midwife liked and there were several hushed conversations between the midwife and the nurse leading up to labor. After having him in their capable hands, he began breathing and flushing with color.
Due to the three hours of pushing, Kai was a little beat up upon arrival in the world. He had a good bit of swelling and bruising. He actually couldn’t even open his one eye fully for the first day.
Our really amazing friends Joel + Amy Bomberger and Brad + Mariah Sensenich were four of our biggest cheerleaders, sending prayers and encouragement from afar. We can’t ever express how much their encouragement meant to us. We had many other friends and my entire side of our family praying. Kai has literally been an answer to prayer.
Our expectations of what God would be able to accomplish in our hearts has been completely exceeded. We have both welled up with love for a little boy that has completely stolen our hearts in such a short amount of time. The entire labor I was getting slammed moment by moment with more grace and help from our Father who helps us in our time of desperate need. Ashleigh was able to endure an extremely difficult labor. I could not be more proud of her. The humility and grace that she has demonstrated in the last week has been tremendous.
Thank you so much for your prayers! This is just the beginning of our party of three. Please continue to pray for us, that we would become more like Jesus in this time, and that we would give Him all glory and honor for who He has given us.
I’m so thankful for my wife. One of the reasons, in addition to her feeding me daily, is she plans our quarterly getaways. This is great news because I probably wouldn’t take vacations if I didn’t have her help. I love working and it makes it a bit harder at times to disconnect when you love what you do. But the truth is I’ve been noticing how much I need to rest; not just from my work but also from my mind’s ruthless expectation to always be improving and growing.
We were able to just take walks and get some much needed conversation and goofiness in. We also went to Persimmon Cafe, hung out with Chris + Shannon Wallace, escaped the blistering North East cold front that Pennsylvania was getting slammed with, and watched Big Hero 6 (which was pretty awesome.)
I hope you enjoy the photos!
I’m writing a blog post to share thoughts and events that have happened in the past month since finding out that we are expecting our first little baby.
Kent and I had our first ultrasound today for our first baby! We found out that we are seven weeks pregnant and our due date is September 8th, 2015. Feelings of excitement flooded in as we saw our little one (about the size of a blueberry) on the monitor. Then the best part happened. We saw it’s heart beating. As I was shaking with complete amazement I kept looking across the room to smile at Kent and to see his reaction. I knew by reading up on pregnancy that this heartbeat would be there if we were at 6/7 weeks…but nothing could prepare me for that moment. I can still clearly picture that little dark baby’s body pulse with it’s little developing heart. A living 7 week old human being is being formed inside of me. I don’t know how to make it grow and niether does it. A woman’s body was perfectly designed by the Creator to grow that baby with little effort on their part. Jesus is molding our little one perfectly.
Ever since I did a speech in high school on abortion and the horrific thing that it is, I have been absolutely pro-life. I wept for hours as I studied this topic. I learned things such as how far along the pregnancy is when they kill the baby (a lot further along than our little baby is with it’s beating heart), the way in which doctors murder these precious helpless humans, the pain these babies feel and the way their distressed bodies react to the pain, and the staggering numbers of how many abortions are happening in our country alone each day. As our little baby has been growing inside of me I think about this topic more often. I pray for the ending of abortion. For life to be protected and to have value. I love our baby and I know it’s worth. Each child no matter how small has that same value as our baby. Our baby is not just tissue. It has an eternal soul and it was woven together perfectly.
As soon as we found out about or little one, I journaled to our baby as I blinked back my tears.
“The Lord planned you before He created the world, little one. You were designed perfectly by the Creator of all things. He’s forming your little body in mine. We are blessed and ecstatic that He chose us to be your daddy and mommy. We have been praying for your life long before you were conceived. May you grow strong in the Lord and never reject His perfect love for you, my sweet child. I pray that we would nurture you in the way you specifically need and that we would be given all we need to graciously raise you. We love you and always will.”
Kent and I went to Charlotte, North Carolina to celebrate our first wedding anniversary! There were many fantastic and life giving conversations on our trip as we reflected on how good the Lord had been in the past year. We couldn’t believe all that He had provided for us. One of the best parts of our vacation was going to the zoo. On our honeymoon in West Palm Beach we had the opportunity to feed giraffes together. We had no idea that the zoo we were visiting in North Carolina had a giraffe feeding area. As we stumbled upon the giraffe exhibit we were given the last piece of lettuce to feed them before that event was done that day. It was such a great reminder of how faithful the Lord is. We even got to walk into the kangaroo exhibit. We could’ve spent all day watching the koalas and reptiles. We hope you enjoy the photographs from the zoo!
Hey everyone! Wow. Time certainly flies when you are super busy! I am a bit ashamed it has taken me this long to post.
In Mark Driscoll’s book “Real Marriage,” he recommended that couples create relationship goals and then re-evaluate those goals as time passes. One of our goals as a couple was to take a short vacation once every three months where we can get away from the pressing demands around us and re-prioritize things a bit. I know now looking back that those goals that we made were inspired by The Lord in order to protect us.
I absolutely love that we get to create films and photograph people. I love that we get to have the flexibility of self-employment and I don’t foresee that changing. We have been given an extraordinary gift. But something definitely crept into my heart where I felt like I constantly needed to produce something in order to be valuable. My worth, my identity, my life was becoming based on my work. This happened to a really intense degree last summer and a little bit in the spring of this year. I burnt out, I lost creative drive, I started to lose the ability to think outside of work. In the moment, you don’t really know it is happening, or at least you don’t want to admit that it could be as bad as it is. Thankfully I have a wife who can see when some action needs to be taken.
A number of weeks ago Ashleigh planned a time for us to both get away from our normal routines and take a weekend off. Part of me really wanted to resist this. I should be working, I should be producing, I don’t want to be lazy, I should feel guilty for taking some time away.
Nonsense. The Lord really used this brief weekend to show me that I was believing a handful of lies about my identity and about His heart for me. I was creating a dependence on something other than God. Paul says in Scripture “.. the life I now live I live by faith in the Son of God,” and “Let the one who boasts boast in The Lord.” My life trajectory was not boasting in Christ alone- my life was boasting in my accomplishments and the worth I was attempting to build for myself. Oh that I would count those things as gifts, but ultimately as loss for the sake of knowing Christ. In knowing that Christ had forgiven me I was able to draw near to Him; the only one who can save me from a slavery to a performance-based identity.
Because of the generosity of the Barkman family we were able to use their cabin near Tucquan Glen. After going to church with the Bomberger’s we slipped off to a glorious land without cell phone reception. The area around the cabin honestly felt like we were in a different state even though we were only a half an hour from home. We slept around 10 hours every night. I didn’t know the depth of how tired I felt. I may sound like an eighty year old man, but I felt tired in my bones. We were learning that some things needed to change for next year in the way we manage things. We need to take on less, and trust The Lord with what He brings. We had a Lord of the Rings marathon and I realized how whiny Frodo is and how Sam is really the silent hero. We hope you enjoy some of the photos we took, and we hope The Lord uses the lessons He is teaching us for your benefit.
These pictures were from our 2014 Fournier side of the family vacation! We had a blast staying with the Wallaces! We watched the Lego Movie not once…but twice…everything is awesome. We had amazing beach weather and ended our trip by heading to Charleston! I had sushi that I liked for the first time at Wicked Tuna. Many memories for the books!
These pictures are from the girls trip! We went to Charleston and had a blast…then we got rained out fifteen minutes from our car. We put on trash bags and proceeded to run through ankle deep water in a lightning storm. Many people stared at us like we were scum. We survived and it was awesome.
For Christmas Kent bought me a ticket to El Salvador! He knew it was time for me to go back and see some of my beloved friends! He went to China with his sister and her Chinese class while I was there! I had an absolute blast seeing how much the kids have grown and meeting new ones! Anderson doesn’t stop talking or jumping…ever. Fabiola is learning a lot and is able to function as someone closer to her actual age. Glenda is absolutely the silliest nine year old on the planet. She makes the silliest faces, noises, and comments you’ll ever hear. I got to meet Joslyn for the first time this visit. She’s 22 and speaks perfect English. Joslyn helped keep me sane among all of the Spanish speaking folks! I had a bast shopping with her and talking to her about life. The last day I was there we went to the zoo! That was a first for me in the five times I’ve been down there. When we got to the monkey exhibit Fabiola joked (or possibly was quite serious) about how the monkeys were her siblings (her nickname is monkey). As amazing as the trip was, it’s not the same without my dear husband. I’m thrilled to be back in the USA where he will soon be too! Next time we’re going together.
It’s a must.