Friday, August 9, 2013

Cordelia Renee

Throughout my entire pregnancy I was positive I'd have this baby early. My reasoning partially stemmed from the fact that she was so active, but also partially because I couldn't really imagine being pregnant for 40 weeks! So, when my husband started asking people to guess our daughter's birthdate I put my guess down for July 15, one of my best friend's birthdays and almost two weeks before my due date of July 30. However, the closer we go to the 15th, the less likely I felt like she would be coming early.

Last pregnant photo.
On July 13 I had Braxton Hicks contractions all day. I had BH contractions throughout a good portion of my pregnancy, but never all day long. I kept saying how I thought the BH contractions were a sign that labor would start soon, but my husband wasn't so sure. The next day I didn't have any BH contractions. I was so disappointed and told myself to expect to go the full 40 ... if not longer. I was just dying to meet this little girl, but knew she'd come when she was ready.

Sunday night I picked out my clothes for work the next morning, set my alarm, and fell asleep only to dream I was in labor. The dream was so real I woke up and kept feeling the pain. It took me several minutes and another few contractions before I realized I wasn't dreaming. These were the real thing!

It was about 2 am and I decided to get up and walk around to see if they'd go away. At 2:30 I woke up Ben because they were getting stronger rather than weaker. He watched me have a contraction and started packing the hospital bag. I tried to help, but mostly I held onto the bathroom counter and swayed through each contraction, which were coming about two to three minutes apart.

At 4:30 Ben said we needed to start our drive to the hospital, which was 30 minutes away. I was in complete denial that I was actually having a baby. I kept telling him there was no way this was the real thing. Everything I had read said false labor was common, that you should labor at home for several hours, that women are in labor for hours and hours, and it was the day I had picked for her birthdate (and since I had picked that day I was positive it wouldn't in fact be her birthday). But I couldn't deny how strong and frequent the contractions were, so we left.

I don't really remember the ride there. Each contraction required my full attention, and the small resting period in between was just enough time to prepare for the next. I do remember the walk from the car to the hospital. It was warm, but not hot and only slightly humid. The stars were still out but starting to fade as the dawn was approaching. It was so quiet. I also had a contraction halfway to the door, and Ben held me and whispered, "We're going to have a baby today" in my ear.

When we made it inside and to the registration table, the nurses asked us how long I had been having contractions. Three hours. They gave each other sideways glances that read, "Looks like we'll be sending this lady home." I didn't blame them because I kept thinking the same thing. They sent me to an observation room and said if I didn't progress they'd send me home. I was only at three centimeters. I was positive they would send me home and that made me want to cry because I couldn't imagine the contractions getting much stronger. Five minutes later my water broke. We were having a baby!

In the observation room for about 10 minutes.
One of the things I was most excited about at my hospital was all the options they had to help with pain management in labor that were drug free. I had done a bit of research during my pregnancy and, even though I'm a total wimp when it comes to pain, had hoped I could make it through labor and delivery drug free using the Bradley Method. Most people told me I was crazy and assured me that once the contractions started I'd be begging for the epidural. They were almost right. I couldn't get out of the hospital bed let alone use a labor ball or hydrotherapy while having contractions.

At first I lost focus, forgot everything I had learned about the Bradley Method, and began to panic. I must have been on repeat telling Ben, "I don't think I can do this." He kept telling me I could and to focus on relaxing. A few days earlier we had made a pinky promise that he wouldn't let me get an epidural, and for us a pinky promise is unbreakable. I was cursing the pinky promise around 7 am.

At 8 am my doctor showed up and asked if I wanted to be checked. Even though I know dilation doesn't give you an accurate picture of how far along you are in labor I said yes. She asked me to guess how far along I was. I prayed for at least 5 cm. The nurses and the other resident doctor agreed with me. 8! I was 8 cm, and I was refocused on my goal of a drug-free birth.

The Bradley Method is also referred to as Husband-Coached Childbirth. My husband deserves an award for the amazing job he did coaching me. He held my hand and talked me through the whole thing. He watched the monitors, told me what was happening around me, and constantly encouraged me. He was amazing, and I could not have done it without him. My mom also came in a few times and talked me through a few contractions. I didn't realize how important that talking and encouragement would be, but both were entirely necessary.

By 10:30 am I had reached the "I can't do this" phase that the Bradley Method identifies as "the end." I had told Ben that I was excited for when I said, "I can't do this" because it would mean I'd be meeting my daughter soon. However, by the time I said "I can't do this" I meant it. The pushing contractions felt impossible. But Ben kept saying, "This is the end. Just a little longer. This is the part you've been waiting for." At 10:45 the nurse said I could start pushing once the doctor arrived. If I have one suggestion for other pregnant women, it's to find an awesome doctor like mine. She gave me specific, clear instructions on what I needed to do. She talked me through the whole thing and never once was I unsure or unaware of what was happening.

At 11:08, after 16 minutes of pushing, I heard my husband say, "There she is!" Cordelia Renée was lifted straight to my arms where I held her while she cried for the first time and I finally cried as well. My husband got to cut the cord and then he joined us, crying as well.

We're complete.
Cordie getting checked by the doctor while a very happy daddy watches.
It was extremely difficult and so fast. Definitely one of the hardest things I've ever done even though my family said that it looked like I was sleeping while I was having contractions. Glad I made it look easy ha! It was so worth it and I thank God that I was given the ability and the option to do so. But in the end I was just happy Cordie was born healthy and that she's in my arms, regardless of how she got there.
A family.
Mother and daughter.
Father and daughter.
Cordelia (jewel of the sea) Renée (reborn), 6 lbs 4 oz 19 inches and 15 days early.
One day old.
Three weeks.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Our Nursery: Anticipating a Little Girl

When Ben and I were touring our now home about a year and a half ago we couldn't help but picture one of the bedrooms as a nursery. In fact looking at the whole house we couldn't help but picture each room being used by a growing family. And as we've redone each room, they've all be in preparation for our future as the family God has planned for us. So now that we've put some finishing touches on the nursery, it feels like "mission accomplished" as my husband put it. It's all been in anticipation of this little girl (and maybe her brothers/sisters someday). We obviously are no where near finished fixing up this home, but we feel ready to bring a new little person into our home.

Of course the physical surroundings are minor and rather insignificant when it comes to preparing for a baby, but man is it fun to put together a nursery! Seriously I had a blast, especially when you consider where we started in this room! See below:

It was pretty blah. But now, at a month before the due date (!!!), I'm happy to reveal where my daughter will spend time playing, dreaming, and growing. It was a blast to put together, and it's probably not officially finished, but it's ready for her.

Soon to be daddy putting up a new ceiling fan! Bay is very interested.

Putting together the crib!

The next few photos are done by my sister at Check out her work if you get a chance.

Few sidebars: yes the room is blue and yes we are having a girl. I am a girly girl, but not necessarily a pink-on-pink-on-pink kind. And no there is not really a "theme." There are some owls and a lot of various prints, but that's about as far as a theme goes. Regardless, I'm so happy with it.

The Details:

Beautiful owl my mom had made sitting next to an ultrasound picture.

She has a lot of dresses. 

This photo was taken by me, but it wasn't quite ready when my sister was snapping photos. The doll on the shelf was one my mom made for me.

And since we haven't taken any maternity photos yet, Kelsey snapped a few of those in the nursery as well. 

I adore these curtains! They were my splurge :)

Bay was interested in the shoes.

Baby shoes are the cutest. 


We can't wait to meet you little girl! 

Thank you Kelsey for these wonderful memories in photos!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Barbie Baby Shower

Thank you doesn't even begin to cut it in showing my gratitude for the shower my sister and friend threw me. Seriously, I'm just happy you both are having babies soon so I can do something in return for your little ones! So hugely blessed and thought I'd document via blog using the pictures my sister took. She's incredible talented behind the camera, so check her out at!

And yes, it's a girl if you couldn't tell by the vast amounts of pink. It was also Barbie themed because my sister and I were in love with the dolls as children. Kelsey has since gotten me something Barbie-related for many holidays as gifts and our parents actually got us the Disney princess Barbies last year for Christmas just for fun. Really happy I'm having a girl so we can put those to use someday.

The lovely ladies who threw me the amazing shower! They are due within about a week of each other in October!

My mom and I <3 I was so thrilled that she was able to be here for my shower. She left a lot of things back home (16 hours away) to be here for me and it meant so much.

The decor was so beautiful and very pink.

It's terrible, but I've been addicted to Lucky Charms during this pregnancy! 

Flowers and baby's breath and Barbie memorabilia everywhere!

We were ridiculously spoiled.

My friends are so talented that we got a lot of handmade items like this dress from my sister and a ton of other items that put my sewing skills to shame. 

And since I'm a bookworm, my sister asked that everyone bring books instead of cards. Love it!!

The ladies also made onsies of every size and wrote wishes and hopes for my baby girl to read someday. I was about in tears later as I was going through them.

Thank you so much to everyone who came and helped celebrate this new life, my daughter! 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Three Things NFP Has Done for Our Marriage

Last month we celebrated our three-year wedding anniversary! And just this week we celebrated seven years since we first started dating.
Seven years ago during our first summer of dating <3
Seven years is a long time, and I think I love our relationship more today than at any other point in that time. I think I'm pretty blessed to be able to say that, too. There are days or moments where I have to sit down and wonder, "Why do I deserve this?" I haven't figured it out yet, but whatever it is, I know my husband was created for me and vice versa.

One of the best things we ever did for our relationship was switch from contraception to NFP. I think that switch has created permanent guardrails for our marriage so we can avoid many of the ravines other couples fall into. It certainly wasn't something we ever planned for and it meant a lifestyle change for us both, but it was worth it if it meant making our marriage more like what God wants it to be. And as a way to keep my thoughts going in a coherent direction, I've decided to list three things that NFP has done for our marriage, one for each year.

It's Created A New Level of Respect
If NFP does one thing, if applied properly in a marriage, I think it is creating a level of respect that wasn't there before or at least supporting that level of respect on a day-to-day basis. I've heard a lot of women say they don't want their husbands to help them chart because they don't want their husbands to know about their cycles. Yes, pretend they don't exist. I'm sure he'll never notice .... All joking aside, I can't tell you how appreciative I am that Ben knows how my body works as well as I do. A woman's ability to grow a life inside her is incredible and all the functions that support that are equally so. My fertility is not something to be ignored, rejected, or suppressed, but celebrated and worked with.

You also can't help but feel a sense of wonder over the body when you understand how perfectly it was designed and how perfectly they were designed for each other. It helps you look beyond the outer shell and not want any kind of substitute, and goodness knows the world has created a lot of substitutes that have readily been accepted into marriage.

It's Called Us to Be Sacrificial
Though having used both NFP and the pill and not seen a huge increase in difficulty in application (I think the copious amount of benefits far outweighs the few extra steps of NFP), it is a sacrifice-based system since you need to abstain during the fertile periods (about 7-10 days on average) if you want to avoid pregnancy. I'm not sure when marriage became more about what you can get from of another person and less about what you can give another person, but it definitely has in our society. Practicing NFP is a daily reminder that we must make sacrifices for our marriage if we want them to flourish and that translates into more than pregnancy or not. It reminds a spouse that the other person in the marriage is there for more reasons than to satisfy their needs. And it has reminded me to sacrifice in other ways like doing the laundry when he's having a busy/crummy week. Sacrifice is necessary if you want to make a marriage work. Too often people give their worst to their spouse and expect the best in return. No relationship can survive that.

It's Made Our Relationship Less Self-Focused
For us, NFP goes hand in hand with our faith and responsible parenthood, where we are asked to be open to life and pray about God's plan for our family constantly and not just when the prescription for birth control runs out. I've never been the best at prayer. I'm more of a doer, and silence often causes my mind to wander. However, with the daily reminder of the gift of my fertility, I suddenly found I was talking to God more about what His plans were for me. And it wasn't just in relation to children. I was suddenly talking to him about work, family relationships, future goals,  and on and on. Ben and I were also discussing faith more frequently together and getting the opportunity to share with others. It's just made us aware that there's a bigger picture than our individual selves and sometimes that bigger picture is our marriage. I think one of the best examples happened when I found out I was pregnant. I was in a flurry. I couldn't even sit down. And Ben came over to me, grabbed my hand, and pulled me down to sit with him on the couch. He closed his hands around mine and started praying out loud. For him it had become habit to talk to God about new life. It might be one of my most favorite moments ever.

Thank you Benjamin for being the husband God has asked you to be and being willing and open to grow as a couple.
Wedding day :) Photo by Deidre Lynn Photography

Monday, April 22, 2013

Master Bedroom Worth the Wait

Life has been ridiculously busy lately, but abundantly blessed. However, that has translated into little to no blogging, but after a recent perfect purchase, I had to show you our master bedroom renovation. It actually began at the end of December, but I didn't have all the pieces until last weekend. Now it's finally ready for a post all of its own.

This is the waaay before picture. Can you see the potential?

Notice the dirty walls, dark trim, gold light plate, etc. It stayed like this for a year :(

Not water damage luckily in the picture below, but ugly all the same.

First, find the kitty? Not sure how she got up there, but we were impressed. Also notice the blinds. Yes, some are missing, but also some are being held up with bandaids. Lovely. Again, we had these up for a year, but other projects just kept coming up first.

It was well worth the wait! After some paint, new trim, a new ceiling fan, furniture, and accessories, our master bedroom finally feels like a true retreat! Take a look.

The final piece was the mirror above the bed. The room only has the sliding doors so I wanted to bring in something that would cast light around the room. But let me tell you, huge mirrors don't come cheap. We found several we loved at Pier 1 and places like that but at a $200 price tag or more. I just couldn't justify that for a mirror I wouldn't even use to look in! So after several months of casually searching I found it! Kohls is my favorite. This mirror also had a $200 price tag, but after awesome sales, a coupon, and a discount for a scratch you can only see if I point it out, we got it for about $40.

And how perfect is it? It has swirls along the edges just like the frames we received for our wedding and like the curtains I found for the sliding door that let in the light, but still provide some privacy.

It was a long process, but I love it.