April 22, 2016

Rosemary's Birth Story

Thankfully, my birth story with dear little Rosemary isn't incredibly eventful, but it was miraculous and thrilling all the same.

Around 11PM on Saturday, April 9th (3 days after our due date), I began noticing that my random Braxton Hicks contractions were beginning to feel a little sharper.  I didn't give it much thought, but I texted my parents, asking them to keep their phones turned up -- juuuuust in case.

Earlier that day, I had informed my friends that I might be pregnant for a very long time, since there was practically zero sign of activity and my doctor's appointment showed very little progress.  My doctor and I were discussing options and plans, should the pregnancy go another week (it seemed very plausible).

So after texting my parents, I experience another contraction...and another...and another.  They're like 3 minutes apart.  I start texting my husband (who's only downstairs, but hey, he was working).  "There's another..." "There's another..." It's 11:30 now.

I take a shower, Tedd texts my mom, and I text the doctor once I'm out and drying my hair, letting her know that we're going to the hospital, and we plan to be there in a half hour.

My mom arrives to spend the night with our sleeping babies (5yrs, 3.5 yrs, and 16 months) - one of whom has been throwing up randomly during the night.  At one point, I was having a good hard contraction while holding back my girl's hair in one hand and holding a bucket under her with the other.  #Motherhood at it's finest, no? (AND, my mom is amazing to have stepped into this scene and taken over; pretty sure we weren't the only ones who had a long night that night)!

I come downstairs, our bags have been packed for days so that was easy, and I keep saying "there's another..." "there's another..." to my mom, who tells me they're like 2 minutes apart.  For some reason, I've been down this road a couple times and I still don't like the thought of not really being in labor when I get to the hospital, and I'm still somehow trying to validate my choice to go by calling out every contraction.  They're really bearable still at this point, but strong enough that I'm done with standing up.

We're off.  We arrive at the hospital, things are calm, I'm uncomfortable, but the pain is still manageable.  It's like midnight or a quarter after.  Tedd and I check in at the desk with the typical awkward "hi...um...I'm in labor..."

We walk in the familiar labor and delivery room.  There's the little bassinet and the heat lamp next to the eerie hospital bed where I know I'll be in excruciating pain.  I muster up all my courage as I keep staring at the bassinet, thinking how this is all going to be worth it...how I will soon see our newborn calling out for me under the heat of the lamp.  I remember that nothing is guaranteed.  I pray.

Clothes off.  Gown on.  IV and wires and all those other hospital-y things all over me are inserted and attached and strapped on.  Contractions are becoming officially painful.  I rock, I moan, I request a birth ball, and we begin to pray.  My specific prayer this time around is to be courageous.

The nurses coming in and out are familiar (after all, we were just here a little over a year ago), and they're friendly and we're happy to see them again.  The doctor comes in to check me.  "You're a 6-7, she says with a proud smile."  (I think we were all a bit relieved she hadn't just left her warm bed in the middle of the night to drive a half hour and meet me at the hospital for nothin').

I bounce on the birth ball in a constant maddening rhythm because I feel in control when I rock and sway and bounce through the contractions, and whether it's in my head or not, it's real pain management.

After maybe another hour, things get real, and I'm on all fours on the bed.  The bed is reclined more like a giant chair, so I'm actually leaning over the top part of the "bed" and biting the mattress through each contraction.  ((If you ever decide to go drug-free through labor and delivery, by the grace of God I've done it three times now, and I highly recommend biting stuff.  Ha ha ha....but no. seriously. I bit the mattress, I bit the pillow...I bore down to fight back against the pain, and I find it to be very effective)).  

I also held my husband's strong, loving, faithful hands, and I watched his eyes, and I knew he was proud and hurting for me and giving me all of his support...so yeah, that's also good pain management right there.

The baby is still really high and my water hasn't broken, but I know I'm in transition now.  That involuntary heaving pushing urge starts to take over, and each approaching contraction is met with a reluctant whimper.  The doctor reminds me that I can help things along and push whenever I want to b/c I'm completely dilated.  I start trying a few pushes because I want that baby!

After my body starts to take over and I'm now pushing whether I'm ready or not, my water Buh-REAKS, like BOOOOM! (lol, I'm being silly, and exaggerating, but this is what it felt like). Then it's game time.  Contractions are intense and baby is making her way down into the birth canal.

So I start screaming now.  I'm still shy and self-conscious enough that I meekly apologize in between contractions for "being dramatic, but I can't help it."  They all giggle and the doctor recounts her own birth experience...something about screaming like a wild animal.  Then the contractions slow down and I get into a sitting position at the edge of this big reclined bed-chair, ready to take the reigns and have this baby.

And then I start to change my mind as the actual having-this-baby part starts to actually happen.  I kinda feel like my lower body might be splitting open, bones and all, and I'm panting and screaming and thanking God for his mercy (and I mean it) whenever a contraction ends, and I can just lie there limp for a minute, and I'm just wanting it to all be over.  (My doctor assures me I'm not going to split open, when I shout something like "I feel like I'm going to rip apart," and then I feel like because she told me I'm not, then I must be okay, and I'm instantly encouraged to keep going).

I'm exhausted at this point (it's 3AM), and with all of my will I want this to be over.  And then time stands still.  I watched the clock and no contractions.  I think I even fell asleep for 30 seconds!  Everyone's just sitting at the foot of my bed, practically twiddling their thumbs, and I'm all like "let's just do this later" in my head.

Aaaand then I snap out of it and start giving a couple voluntary pushes, which were followed by a couple big contractions, and a whole lotta screaming and pushing.  And then there she was!  "Look!!  Look, Emily!!  Get her, go ahead and get her!!" my husband and doctor cheered with encouragement.  I look down and I grab my baby with absolute pride and elation.  

"She's sunny-side up!" said the doc.  (This means she never turned, and came out facing up instead of down, which apparently makes the head a little larger upon exiting, given she's not positioned in the most efficient way, making delivery extra painful...I say it's painful no matter what).

"Thank you, God!!  Oh thank you, God!!" are my only words now.  I am utterly 100% thankful at this point that I am on the other side of this event and holding a BABY! YESSSS!  

No tearing, no complications -- just a crying wriggling little baby girl, and nothing could have made me happier!  She had a perfect APGAR score and was as pink as a rose, 8 pounds and 9 ounces of perfection.

About 4 hours later, we're all cleaned up and snuggling in our jammies in the recovery room (it's now like 8AM, so we've pulled an all-nighter).  We were eager to announce our baby's birth to our family before going to sleep, so we decided our sweet baby girl's name then and there...Rosemary Lee.  ((We like old-fashioned feminine names.  Rose was a top choice (but doesn't sound great with our last name, when by itself), Mary is a family name, and Lee is a family name; we also like all the nicknames that go with it -- Romy, Rosie, Ro-Ro, etc)).

It was fun to think our children would wake up hearing of their baby sister's arrival.  My mom said that Nora hugged the phone after seeing Rosemary's photo in our text announcement, and exclaimed "I love her!"

So I snuggle up to my sweet-smelling little nursling, Rosemary Lee, and we fall deep into the best sleep, content with love and joy and possibilities.  I'm holding a miracle in my arms and simply...purely...thankful.

Thank you, God.  Truly.  It was all perfect and I'm so thankful.

December 7, 2015

The Moment You Realize Your Baby Has Grown

I imagine many of you veteran mothers will read this, and smile, both with wisdom and with experience, knowing I have only just scratched the surface of this journey.

I have four children (granted, one still in the womb), yet I'm so very green; I'm just shy of 5 years trekking into this sticky-fingered, slobbery-kissed, laundry-piled, love-worn wilderness of motherhood.

My first experience with knowing my baby had become a boy happened several weeks after my first-born had blown out the birthday candles.  I wasn't prepared that night to see myself in the mirror, after I had managed to pick up the heavy weight of slumbering 4-yr-old from our bed, to place him into his own.

I wasn't cradling him like I thought I was.  Rather, the mirror revealed his long floppy arms dropped over one side of me, while his long heavy legs dropped over the other, and I held him like my baby, but he was so very clearly...a boy.

And it hurt.  I cried.

I was forced to acknowledge that somewhere along the trek of this motherhood wilderness, I had transitioned to a new path, slowly and surely, one goodnight kiss at a time, until I found myself here in front of the mirror with the big floppy sleeping boy draped over my arms.

This week it happened again.  My second-born.  My first baby girl.  Her daddy carried her in from the car and I was taken aback by the way she looked in his arms.

My throat tightened. "Our baby," I whispered.  "She's a girl."

And the pang of her babyhood behind us, and the pride of her blossoming girlhood before us, and the joy of her personhood within us - it all intermingled together into joyful sorrowful tears.

Yes, dear Veteran Mother; I'm ready for you to tell me that this will happen again and again.

It will happen in the most ordinary, but sacred, moments when we stumble into the reality that our babies have outgrown yet another phase of life.

It will happen again and again with all of them as they grow, and we find ourselves journeying a new path in the wilderness of parenthood without even having realized the path had ever changed, until it's already behind us.

I want to tread slowly.

With reverence and awe.  I must tread slowly.

November 1, 2015

"So What Happened to Your Blog?"

I just checked my blog, and I see that my last post was February of this year.  That's about 8 months ago.  That's getting a little close to a year without posting, and that seems to shout "I'm done," doesn't it?  

Does this mean I'm done?

May I say that I don't know?

I never decided one day to stop writing.  In fact, I have about a dozen really hearty posts saved to my drafts folder, ready to be tuned and edited and prayed over.  So it's not so much that I have nothing I care for to write about, or that I don't love writing anymore.

It's just my time is so precious to me; you understand, don't you, dear reader?

And these three little babes, and this sacred little "No.4" being knitted together, and all this life and these lessons that come alongside, and all within these 5 fleeting years that have passed before me...I see how desperately I want to manage "my" time for the glory of my God, and just how precious every little minute is...

I'll confess quickly that I've squandered many minutes and hours with meaningless fluff, but when I do sit and think on things that matter and make a difference, and just how much I can or can't squeeze out of my time...this blog doesn't always fit.

At times, I feel I'm ready to sit down and map out some sincere direction for my little blog and figure out what exactly I intend to do with it, and where exactly I plan to go with it.  And at times, I wonder if I should let go of it all together - for a season - for good?

So, thank you for your patience as I keep this weird-thing-called-a-blog on the back burner of my mind, left to simmer for a while.

I get that fire in my bones from time to time.  And I'm more and more passionate about godly, intentional, grace-dependent motherhood so maybe that's what I'll hone in on.  But many women are already doing this - well - so then again, maybe not.  I just need some time to pray about it and see if this is worth my continued investment of time.

In the meantime, if you have been encouraged by any of my past posts, or would like to know when I'm back at the keyboard in the future, please feel free to subscribe to my blog (top right) by entering your e-mail address.  I think you gathered already that I won't be swarming your inbox with updates ;)

Thanks for reading and wondering what I've been up to!  I'll get in touch "soon" - Much love!


February 20, 2015

Friday 5: Braids, Instagram, New Art, & Tandem Nursing

Happy Friday!  Today I want to begin by sharing with you two of my current favorite Instagram profiles!


Firstly, BRAIDS!!  

Now that my hair is long and straight, I intend to experiment with more exciting braids in the coming months, especially with all the great tutorials and inspiration from Annie's Forget-Me-Knots.  They're so classy and lovely!

Every other year for six years, I've grown out my hair and donated to Locks of Love (see before-and-afters).  However, this May, when I would normally cut my hair, I opted to let my hair keep growing instead, and I've resisted the temptation to get it layered and styled so I can have good "braiding hair."  


Then there's SixOneSis, a really solid Instagram feed that I follow because of her encouragement for women, specifically singles and wives, focusing on sexual purity and marriage.  It's good stuff!


I listed two new printables in my Etsy shop this week.  These were hand-drawn with Sharpies, and I thoroughly enjoyed the process. 


Did you know I "tandem nurse"?  Yes....I do.

It's so hippy, I know. Maybe you don't know what that is?  I didn't either.  I would've thought you were weird if you had told me you "tandem nursed" just a few years ago. I may have even thought you meant you were a nurse who worked alongside another nurse? 

But...yea...I've crossed over to the weird side.  So there's a blog post coming that's all about how I'm continuing to nurse my two-year-old, while also nursing our infant.


I'm taking a Modern Calligraphy class in March and I'm soooooo excited!!  If you're in Fort Smith, you may consider signing up!!  There are currently only 3 spots left, or you could attend the class this Sunday in Fayetteville.

And that's all for today, friends!  Hope you have a fantastic Friday and a special weekend with friends/family!  


February 11, 2015

Enchanted Bow Shop Giveaway!

Back in the Fall, I was looking for some special headbands for our pending arrival - Miss Claire - when I came across Enchanted Bow Shop on Etsy (via a friendly recommendation). I was an instant fan!!

I'm following this shop now on Instagram, and I'm constantly admiring all the ADORABLE bows, crowns, and headbands that Amy makes!  They're soft, feminine, delicate, yet sturdy, and her style is refreshing - just good classic floral girly-ness.

Here are my sweet girlies, modeling a few of the headbands...

And look at these gorgeous crowns!!!  I want them all!

So would you like a chance to win a $15 store credit to Amy's shop??  I thought you might!!

I finally started a Facebook page for my blog, so follow this link to get the details for how to enter the giveaway -- it's simple!

Winner will be announced on Valentine's Day!  (Giveaway ends 2/14/15 at 11:59AM)
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