Motherhood Update: Annie at 9 months

The other day we were driving home from Franklin and Annie decided she had had enough of her carseat. She started to fuss and threatened actual tears real fast if something wasn’t done. Taylor started singing “Old Mac Donald had a farm” and she instantly stopped crying and watched us oh so seriously from her little mirror. After we got done with all your basic farm animals (cow, chicken, dog) we stopped singing because what animals were left? Then we heard an “ugh” from Annie as if to say, again. More. Encore. Next thing I knew Taylor was singing Old Mac Donald had a giraffe, e-i-e-i-o! I would sing the song and he would make the most hilarious, and terribly accurate, animal sounds to match each one, including a fish, llama, frog and butterfly. Taylor was beaming and Annie was giggling and on that ordinary afternoon drive home I was reminded what a special season we’re in as a family.

Motherhood Update: Annie at 9 months

Eating: Milk is still her #1 but she is super interested in anything we’re eating and wants to try everything – unless it’s peas. Her favorites include avocado, black beans, any and all pureed fruit and strawberry yogurt, which leaves her smelling like Fruity Pebbles.

Sleeping: She’s been a champion sleeper, typically out from 7:30am-7:00pm, but teething has got her sometimes waking up for a snack around 3:00am. I may be half asleep but I have tried to find the joy in the extra time spent with my girl when the rest of the world is sleeping.

Doing: Annie spends most of her waking hours smiling at whoever she’s with and looking through her books – she loves to pat each page. She also has started waving at anyone and everyone, which is especially hilarious when we’re out and she waves at every car and person we pass. Our pediatrician joked that she could be a Wal-Mart greeter for the baby aisle. Oh, and she loves to give wet, slobberific kisses and press her cheek against your’s to show love.

Saying: Hiiiii, Dada, and a whole bunch of gibberish that does not include Mama yet.

Favorite songs: Jesus Loves Me, Old MacDonald and Good Day Sunshine (The Beatles).

Latest biggest milestone: She has been army crawling for a couple of weeks now. She started at a snail’s pace but now she is able to get wherever she wants to go in record time.

Sweetest thing she does: When she’s sleepy or needs to calm herself down from a fussy spell she rubs her neck with her chubby, little hands.

Hardest part of this age: The more food she eats, the smellier the poops.

Favorite part of this age: I love our morning routine and how thrilled she is to see us in the morning. She talks to herself until I go in to get her. She’s usually on all fours, looking at the door, waiting for us to come pick her up to start the day. Once she sees us, she grins the biggest grin and squeals with joy. After a quick diaper change we head to the kitchen where she helps me make the coffee and then she gets squeals as I feed her strawberry yogurt.

Annie at 9 months, is, in one word: JOYFUL

Happily Married: Back to the Beginning

It was about this time three years ago when I was strung out on my parents’ couch, un-showered and on some powerful pain killers, that I met my now husband.

Yep.

I’ll explain.

I went home to have all four of my wisdom teeth removed early on a Friday morning. My train of thought was to get the awful surgery part over and done and then sleep it off on the couch. My sweet parents escorted me there and back, making sure I actually made it to the car (pain pills get me, y’all) and then safely into my favorite corner of their couch. Truthfully I don’t remember a whole lot other than waking up in the car on the drive home and trying desperately to tell my mom a story about my dentist (???) but physically couldn’t even come close thanks to all the gauze and who knows what else in my mouth.

So glamourous.

Saturday morning I woke up on the couch, still in my yoga pants and oversized sweatshirt I had wore into surgery the morning prior. I must have been with it enough to take my hair down and bra-off but not coherent enough to bother doing anything else like shower or sit up.

I told you, glamourous.

I was alone in the den with HGTV playing in the background and then a guy I didn’t know walked in. Correction: a cute guy I didn’t know.

GREAT.

While a lot of the details of this day are foggy this particular one is not. Seeing this cute guy walking towards me I was suddenly very aware of how special I had to have looked so in what felt like slow motion, I attempted to pull my hair back in some sort of ponytail and “fix” my bangs. I’m going to guess that didn’t improve my looks. Next thing I knew he had a bowl of cereal and was sitting on the other end of the couch.

“Hi,” he said.

Indistinct mumbling from me.

Taylor was his name and he was a friend of my brother. I had heard of him before – my family knew him for years but we’d never met – so I connected the dots and tried to smile. He wasn’t anything like I thought he would be – he was better – and I couldn’t believe this was how we were meeting. Nathan was taking him to the airport later but wasn’t up yet so he decided to come talk to me.

“Do you like House Hunters? I love it,” I managed to mumble out, apparently. Because that’s what you talk about when you’re on pain killers and meet a cute guy in your living room.

Awesome.

He finished his cereal while I attempted to look alive – I nodded off twice – and then he said he would see me later. I just knew he would never ever EVER want to see me again after our winning first encounter and didn’t give him more thought.

A couple weeks later we ran into each other and in front of several people I did not know I awkwardly announced: “Look! This time I’m wearing clothes and not strung out on drugs!”

I can’t make this stuff up.

As if all that wasn’t enough to make him run for the hills, my dad decided to jump in the mix. Dad, who up until that point had never meddled in my love life saw something there and for whatever reason, called Taylor. He told Taylor it was about me and his initial thought? Something was wrong. I was sick/dying/moving overseas. NOPE. Dad told him he should call and ask me out and – WAIT FOR IT – if things worked out he “couldn’t pick a more perfect son-in-law or match for his daughter.”

If your jaw is on the floor you had a similar reaction to the one I had when Taylor told me on our third date.

Taylor did call and we talked non-stop for the next two days, including a 6-hour delay from BNA>LGA for a work trip so I knew I had to see him. We went on our first date the day I got home from NYC. He prayed at dinner and we talked like old friends well past midnight as we strolled in one of my favorite parks. We both agreed it was the best first date we’d ever been on and I knew it was only the beginning of our story.

He later told me he liked me from our first meeting on my parent’s couch, jumbo-sized gauze cheeks and all. Love is spectacular like that. xo

two thousand seventeen

Hello and Happy New Year! How did you ring it in? We stayed in with our almost four month old and watched one of our favorites, When Harry Met Sally. Annie was asleep by 9 and we were in bed by 11:30 – we whispered about our favorite moments of the past year and all the things we would love to accomplish in the future. We knew it was 2017 from the fireworks heard outside our window. It was a far cry from past NYEs spent out and about in a sparkly dress but it was oh so sweet.

2016 was full. We bought our first house and made it a home. We dug deep into our jobs. We made new friends and held close to our oldest and dearest. We valued time with our families. We, yes we, survived and actually enjoyed a pregnancy. We traveled. We HAD A BABY – by far the most incredible experience to date. We prayed and studied and worked hard on growing closer to God. We worked daily on our marriage. We settled into our new roles as parents.

As incredible as this past year was, I know this year will be our best yet. We have a clean slate. A fresh start. Another opportunity to love and grow and be present for our lives. One of my goals for this year is to make room. To say no to more things I’m not crazy about to make space for more stuff (think people, places, activities) that I AM crazy about. More quiet moments with God. More morning snuggles with my baby girl. More dates and dancing in the kitchen with my husband. More laughter with my family. More risks. More lunches and conversation with my girlfriends. More celebrating big and small occasions. More heart. More dreaming. More joy. More gratitude. More good.

Hello, 2017. I like you already. xo

our perfect gift from God: Annie’s Birth Story

Our due date came and went without so much as an ache or contraction. I never felt better! In the words of my doctor at our last appointment she was “comfy cozy” where she was, despite my eating copious amounts of eggplant parmesan and walking every hill in our neighborhood multiple times a day. It was decided that if she hadn’t come on her own by the next week we would induce.

Waiting for a baby to arrive is like waiting for Santa to arrive except you’re not sure when he’ll actually show up and you can’t stop eating all the cookies. Honestly it became quite comical because every night Taylor and I would pray my water would break. Every time I moved Taylor jumped and asked how I was feeling. I sent so many texts to my Mom and best girlfriends about every possible “labor is coming soon” symptom possible and used an embarrassing amount of exclamation points. I drank red raspberry leaf tea non-stop all weekend and started having mild contractions that were a bit uncomfortable but wildly exciting. Finally something was starting to happen!

At 40 weeks and 5 days there was still no sign of Annie budging. My parents and brother came to town and we all went out for a final meal of my favorite Italian. When Dad told our waitress I was about to have a baby she brought me chocolate mousse on the house and yes, I ate every last bit of it. At 9pm that night Taylor and I made our way to the hospital. I was terrified – mostly of all the unknowns of the experience. Would it be super painful? Would the epidural actually work? What would pushing feel like? Would Annie be a healthy baby? My incredible husband held my hand and said the most precious prayer as we drove, knowing we would be meeting our baby girl soon. We both cried.

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We checked into the hospital and greeted the nurses on the floor with a huge batch of homemade cookies because who doesn’t love cookies? We were shown to our corner room (!!!) and soon I was in the glamourous hospital gown and chatting with our first incredible nurse, Amanda. She calmed our nerves by explaining most everything and encouraged us to try and sleep as much as possible during the night. We watched the “birth episodes” of both Friends and The Office – classics – and then I finally fell asleep during our favorite, The Holiday. My contractions started getting more intense during the early morning and Taylor was so wonderful to hold my hand through each one. We probably slept 3, 4 hours tops.

The next morning we met our incredible nurse with the great hair and even better attitude, Julie. I loved her from the start – she told us how she always pays close attention to details and would explain every little step of the process. She had me at “details.” She started the pitocin drip which kicked my contractions into high gear and while my pain was increasing I was so excited to feel something happening. Soon my doctor (whom I am borderline obsessed with) came in to confirm things were progressing nicely and I was ready for my epidural. Relief flooded my body. Dr. Rupe broke my waters and then it was time for my epidural, which by that point I was more than ready for thanks to my low threshold for pain and increasingly intense contractions. Julie held my hands and Taylor held my legs as I leaned over the bed with my pillow while the super nice anesthesiologist made all my dreams come true. I was shocked how quickly the medicine took effect but also how I was still able to move my legs.

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My parents got there soon after, remarking on how calm I seemed. I told them they had missed pre-epidural me and Taylor gave them a quick update from the night before. Taylor and Dad watched my contractions build on the big machine next to my bed while Mom and I chatted. My brother and his fiance got there and they all watched Jaws while bundling up in blankets. Hours ticked by and I kept dilating. My good friend and nurse on the floor, Paige, came in to chat for a bit. Friends, family, movies, and God’s miracle drug? This was not so bad at all.

Then, in the early afternoon we had a scare when Julie noticed Annie’s heart rate would drop with each strong contraction. She was concerned. Rupe came and told me they would closely monitor us both but if things didn’t calm down she would have to perform a c-section. I was terrified but trusted Rupe and Julie. She turned off my pitocin and it was up to my body to keep labor progressing. Taylor took my hand and we prayed. After being closely monitored for an hour Julie told us my contractions were building and Annie’s heart rate was doing just fine. Praise the Lord!

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My dearest friend Ashley came after work and stayed by my side, encouraging me and making us all laugh. I was given oxygen to help me rest while I ate popsicles. Around 5:30pm Julie checked me and I was at a 9 so she called Rupe. By the time she arrived I was 10 cm dilated and ready to push! After a couple test pushes they told me I was pushing so effectively our baby would be born in ten, twenty minutes tops. My family, Rupe and Julie held hands around me while Dad said a prayer for a safe delivery. It was such a special moment and I felt at peace. I was ready.

They broke down the bed, turned on the bright lights, put my legs in the stirrups and told me to grab the bars, bare down, and push. Julie would say, “Go”, and I would push while they counted to ten in sets of three. We’d rest for for a minute or two and then begin again. I willed my face to stay relaxed but with each push I could feel my eyes swelling. Taylor and I had decided he would stay “north of the sheet” but once the nurses yelled out that she had dark hair he leaned over to see. We were both momentarily overwhelmed by a flood of emotions but then quickly pulled it together to keep pushing.

Lots more pushing. Lots more nurses in the room. I joked with the nurses between pushing. Taylor amazed me by being the perfect birth coach – holding my hand, holding my leg to help me push, giving me water to sip. Taylor was my rock of strength and encouragement as I became more and more tired. You can do this honey. Our baby girl is almost here. You’re doing so amazing, one more push. Julie was supposed to go home at 6pm but she told me she would stay with us until Annie arrived.

More pushing. No more talking between pushes – I focused on deep, restful breaths (all that prenatal yoga came in handy) and prayed for strength. Taylor and Julie said I was in the zone. I didn’t understand why I was still pushing and could feel my epidural starting to wear off.

Rupe came in a little before the two hour mark and told me my dad was pacing so we needed to push harder. I gave my all to the next push but no change. Annie’s heart rate was in some distress and her shoulders weren’t coming out on their own for some unknown reason. She looked serious and explained that while some doctors would do an emergency c-section, she wanted to try using the vacuum while I gave one final push. If that didn’t work then I’d be rushed to the OR. Taylor dropped to his knees and prayed and I focused on my breathing, knowing I needed all the strength I could muster for this final push.

Taylor, Rupe, Julie, Paige and what felt like ten other nurses surrounded me and shouted words of encouragement as I pushed one final time. I felt a great amount of pressure and then heard the sweetest cry at 8:49pm. Rupe held up our precious miracle and then placed her on my bare chest. Annie immediately got quiet as she looked up at me. She knew I was her Mommy. I cried as I thanked God for such a perfect baby. Taylor cut the umbilical cord as we both cried uncontrollably.

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Taylor kissed me through the tears and then said hello to our baby girl. She turned to look at him and I cried harder. I asked Julie if I could keep her and I heard a collective “aww” from the nurses. As Rupe stitched me up she told us that Annie had flipped her body last minute to be sunny-side up and that she would have had to perform a c-section if my pushing hadn’t been so efficient. She also added that it would have been ten minutes of pushing if she hadn’t flipped. Of course she insisted on a dramatic entrance into this world.

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Paige placed Annie underneath the warmer and Taylor held her tiny hand. She weighed 7lbs, 1oz and was 20 1/4 inches long. So dainty and perfect in every way. Soon everyone left the room and turned the bright lights off, leaving us with our baby girl. Our little family.

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Our perfect gift from God had arrived and our hearts were forever changed. xo

Annie’s Nursery & Impromptu Maternity Shoot Faves

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Decorating a nursery can be tough – especially since you’re designing it for a little person you’ve never met yet! These days there are so many color and design options that go far beyond the traditional pink or blue so yes, it can be a little daunting, albeit so much fun. From the minute we learned we were having a little girl, I dreamed of a light and airy space filled with pastel hues and vintage nursery rhymes. I am so thankful for my oh so talented parents who took all our ideas and helped us create this fairytale of a space for Annie. Once the nursery was all set I talked Taylor (okay, and Buddy) into taking some fun pictures around the house to document life before Annie arrives – I thought I would share some of our favorites. Major thanks to Mom who used her new Nikon like a champ and acted as our photographer for the morning. Happy Monday, lovelies! xo

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Monthly Pregnancy Update: 36 Weeks

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Well it’s official. I’m in the home stretch and while I do have small moments of sheer panic (hello, labor and delivery) I am beyond excited to know we’ll be meeting our baby girl soon. I’ve been in full nesting mode, organizing and cleaning everything, and thanks to my incredible husband and parents Annie’s nursery is perfection – more on that next week! Over the past few weeks we’ve been overwhelmed by the love and support of our friends and family at our baby showers. Seriously, Annie is so blessed to have so many wonderful people who already love her and Taylor and I could not feel more supported/encouraged/loved. God’s plans never cease to amaze me and I’m looking forward to seeing how these next few weeks will unfold. Taylor is convinced for whatever reason she’ll arrive early but I’m thinking she’ll be late. We shall see. Either way, we appreciate all prayers for a smooth delivery and healthy baby – thank you in advance! xo

Baby’s size: A canary melon

I’m feeling: Large and in charge but thankful to still feel good and have energy. I do, however, sometimes just fall asleep at my laptop usually once a day but I find my energy level back up after a quick power nap! Annie is also very active, especially when there’s music playing or her dad is talking.

Foods I could eat forever: Strawberries, dark chocolate, anything Mexican and anything Italian. Also, ice.

Foods I cannot imagine eating: Hot dogs.

Currently wearing: Workout shorts and sundresses. All day every day.

Pros of August: Looking forward to many date nights with my husband, dates with my girlfriends and watching every minute of the Olympics while we wait on Annie.

Cons of August: Not being able to be outside for longer than five minutes before becoming a Sweaty Betty.

Looking forward to: Meeting our sweet baby girl.

Favorite scripture at the moment: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” [ James 1:17 ]

Monthly Pregnancy Update: 32 Weeks

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It’s crazy to say “I’m having a baby next month” but Lord willing, Annie will make her arrival next month! We’ve been so busy with work and working on the house that when we do have downtime we take full advantage of spending time just being together. People keep telling us to enjoy the calm before the crazy fun so we’re soaking in lazy nights with long dinners and Netflix, spending time with good friends, late night movies and sleeping in a little on Saturdays. My OB told us at our last appointment that Annie’s heartbeat sounds “super happy” and everything is going just as it should be. Also, super excited for my dear friend Beth who welcomed her sweet baby boy to the world yesterday, making it all the more real that I’m next in line! God is so good! xo

Baby’s size: A head of lettuce (who comes up with these anyways?)

I’m feeling: More pregnant but still pretty energetic for the most part. There are times when I feel like I could fall asleep standing up but usually after a snack or a 15 minute disco nap I’m good to go again. The heat and humidity is not my friend but I am so thankful for swimming pools and AC. I can’t even begin to imagine how pregnant women did anything before AC was invented!

Foods I could eat forever: Anything with cheese, any and all fruit, and Sonic ice. Yes, it counts.

Foods I cannot imagine eating: Hot dogs.

Currently wearing: Workout shorts, sundresses and sometimes my boyfriend-fit maternity jeans.

Pros of July: Childbirth classes with my sweet husband who’s going to be so great at the whole dad thing.

Cons of July: My wedding band no longer fits. Also, THIS HUMIDITY.

Looking forward to: Our baby showers!

Favorite scripture at the moment: “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” [ John 14:27 ]