#metoo

My heart is already racing and I’m feeling that heavy sensation in my chest...you know, the feeling that happens as you’re on the climb up of a roller coaster, with each click of the track reminding you that the biggest drop is waiting for you at the top...and it’s just getting closer and closer.

 

...anxiety, as I write this. I’ve fought and wrestled for the last few days about whether or not I should take part in this movement. And then I realized if I didn’t, I become part of the problem....the issue in our society, the lie, that tells people who’ve been taken advantage of sexually that they should stay quiet...continue to think that it was probably their fault it ever happened in the first place. Remind themselves that if they say anything, people probably wouldn’t even believe them anyways. I’ve had every single one of these thoughts run through my mind. I faced rigorous counseling for the abuse I experienced from a man who said he loved me. Who even asked me to marry him (and I said yes)...but behind closed doors, made me do things I never wanted to do. Inflicted physical pain on me that no woman should ever have to endure. We make excuses for our perpetrators. “He didn’t mean to push me that far. He didn’t technically rape me. Maybe I didn’t say no strongly enough. I’m sure if I had tried harder, I could’ve stopped it...” THIS IS THE PROBLEM. The fact that women (and men too) everywhere feel they can’t come forward...sometimes until YEARS after the fact, and tell their truths about what happened to them for fear that they will be shamed, or that our society won't validate them or attempt to bring justice to their situation. So today, after nearly 5 years of not sharing my story, I’m sharing my story. My hope is that it helps shed light on the fact that sexual abuse happens every single day, all around us. And it’s time to BREAK THE CYCLE. 

 

I was in a relationship with a man who claimed to love Jesus. Who also claimed to love me. But rarely told me I was beautiful. Rarely affirmed my strengths or gifts. And hardly ever showed me any love or attention in the presence of other people. I always felt somehow that he was ashamed to be with me. I just couldn’t understand why I never felt like I was enough for him. I developed what I can only describe as the closest thing to an eating disorder after several months of dating him. I ran 4-5 miles every single day and counted my carbs incessantly. I dropped down to my lowest weight and yet, it still consumed my thoughts. “Maybe if I can just reach THIS weight, or fit into this size...or look THIS way in my clothes, he’ll look at me differently. He’ll tell me how beautiful he thinks I am. I can be what he wants, I know I can, if I work hard enough.”

 

I never was. Enough, that is. It was always about his ambitions. His dreams. His goals. His future plans. If my dreams and aspirations happened to fit nicely into his box of plans, then, “Great babe! Yeah you should do it!” But if not, “You need to trust me babe, I know what is best for us. You need to trust my lead and follow me {blindly)...” his manipulation was always wrapped in a spiritual twist that never allowed me to really question his judgment. I thought, “Well he’s prayed about it and told me this is right for us, for me, and I guess I just need to be okay with his decisions for us. I’ll let go of my gut feelings because I’m not the head of this relationship. It’s not my place.”

So I put his family first. Pushed mine away slowly over the years of dating him. Put his dreams before my own. His desires. His goals. His friends. And I became only a shell of who I once was. I forgot what I was good at. That I had dreams and aspirations of my own. That I had my own friends, and my own community at one time that he didn’t control. And I slowly became a fragile, hollow, submissive, fearful person, who followed him asking no questions...that is, until I started to ask questions. And stand up for myself every once in awhile. And push back on things I felt in my heart weren’t right for us. For me. 

 

This didn’t go over well. But I was neck deep in a relationship with a man who controlled me. Who manipulated me. Who took advantage of me in the bedroom and then sent me texts the next morning with scripture verses that talked about forgiveness. His way of “apologizing” for the night before I guess? I would wake up sore. I would ask myself if I wasn’t clear enough when I told him he was hurting me. Maybe he couldn’t see the look on my face or when my eyes would water as he pushed me to do things that hurt me...maybe he couldn’t tell I was pushing him away, hoping he would “catch on” that I didn’t want what he was doing. Maybe he would notice that he was hurting me when I was saying “ow babe” in a soft, cracking voice, after he’d say “if you relax it won’t hurt as much”. I was silently crying out for help. I laid awake in bed wondering how or if I could ever escape this relationship I was so deep in. I would beg God to help me know what to do, because I certainly couldn’t get out now. People were watching. He was on staff at a church. I was leading worship there. Where could I go? I didn’t have much a relationship with my parents at this point because I pushed them out of my life when they started to express concern for me and my relationship with him. I protected him. I defended him. And I wasted away to nothing each time I did. Why couldn’t I just leave? Why couldn’t I just save myself? 

 

One day, I found a courage deep down that I didn’t know existed anymore. We’d gotten in a fight the weekend before. He stood in front of a locked bedroom door and we yelled. He wouldn’t let me out. I think I even pushed him. When we met up and talked a couple days later, I looked him in the eyes. I didn’t recognize him anymore. As he talked and talked (as he always did) and justified what he did and said, I began to feel like I was watching myself have this conversation with him from afar. In that moment, as I watched his lips move, I didn’t hear his voice anymore. An overwhelming voice in my heart drowned out his voice and I heard the words, “The door is open to you. You CAN walk through it and leave. You don’t have to do this anymore.” It was clear as crystal. I had a sense of calm rush over me. He finished his piece and without missing a beat, the words just came out of my mouth. I wasn’t even sure if they were coming from me. They just came. “I don’t have to do this anymore. And actually, I don’t WANT this anymore. I’m done.”

 

And that was it. I gave back the ring. I picked up the broken pieces that were left of myself and all of a sudden, all the plans we’d made were no more. I still had secrets. No one really knew why I did what I did. Why I left. People thought we were so perfect together. So, what now?

 

About a year later, I hit rock bottom. The pain and agony I felt from it all manifested itself in very unhealthy ways. I blazed a path of destruction for myself, because I had no self dignity left.  I wasn't worth anything anymore.  It didn't matter what I did because no one valued me anyways.  These are the lies I told myself. I made awful decisions.  I medicated and tried to numb myself with all kinds of things that only made it worse. And then one day, I was confronted by a thought I never imagined I would feel.  "I can't do this anymore.  There's nothing left to live for.  No one knows the kind of pain I'm walking around with everyday.  I don't want to live anymore."  And then my phone rang.  It was my dad. He spoke firmly with me and made me take a step in the right direction for the first time in almost 2 years.  I needed help. I found myself in extensive counseling. Finally uttering the words out loud to someone for the first time, what had happened to me. What he’d done to me. How out of control everything was because I had never dealt with it all. I remember telling my counselor, “but it was my fault, I could’ve stopped it...I should’ve been more clear when I said he was hurting me. I could’ve said no louder. I could’ve walked away...couldn’t I?” 

 

It wasn’t my fault. I didn’t ask for it. I couldn’t have stopped it. I was controlled. Manipulated. A hollowed-out version of myself that couldn’t stand up and fight for herself anymore. But I got help. I learned the truth about what happened to me. I was taken advantage of. My innocence was stolen from me. By a man who I thought loved me. It took me a long time to ever believe in healing again. To believe I could love and BE loved again. 

 

I’m here to tell you that God redeems all things that are broken. I’m a walking testimony of that. I have freedom from the thing that once took every ounce of joy in my life.  I was given a second chance. I believe God gifted me my precious husband Caleb, who loves me more than anything in the world. He puts me first. He sacrifices for me and our little family. He takes care of me. Physically and emotionally. I am so blessed and undeserving of him. And by the way, my family has known for quite some time now about everything and they walked through some very dark days with me.  I wouldn't be here if it weren't for them.  My mom and dad are my heroes and I am so grateful for their love and support in my life. But I couldn’t go another day without sharing the journey it took for me to get where I am today. I’m here to tell you if you resonate with anything I’ve said today or if you’ve had any of these things happen to you, 

 

It wasn’t your fault. 

You can’t do this alone. 

There are people who can help.

You're not being dramatic or seeking attention if you tell the truth. 

And you must not be silent anymore. 

 

Edited to add: I have forgiven this person.  I am whole.  I believe that people change for the better.  And I believe that this man has changed as well. 

All my love and light to you beautiful people,

Kelsey

Posted on October 18, 2017 .

My Top 10 Fave {Baby} Products

Happy February everyone!

This one is for all you mamas, or soon-to-be mamas...(Congrats!)  It's crazy to think that our little E boy will be 12 weeks next week...where in the WORLD did the time go already?!  In the last couple months, I think it's pretty safe to say that I've learned an invaluable number of new skills, knowledge, patience, and everything else that comes with being a new mama. Honestly, I gotta say, Caleb and I were super "prepared" baby product-wise before Emmett was born, with all the hottest, most convenient baby gadgets ahead of time, and yet we've mostly learned...babies really just want their mamas and daddies.  They don't want to lounge in a bouncer or swing, or sit and listen to music and beach waves on their Sound Spa machines, and they sure as heck won't sleep in any of the fancy bassinets or cribs they make these days...can I get an amen moms? 

But I will say, the baby industry is truly incredible and the products these companies make for our convenience as parents is unparalleled these days.  In the last couple of months, I've familiarized myself with what seems like every major baby brand on the market right now, and I've compiled a list of my top 10 favorite baby products that we can't seem to live without at the moment. (If you click any of the photos, it'll take you directly to the website where you can purchase these products!)

1.  Nuna - This Dutch-made brand of baby gear is definitely on the higher end of baby gear...and for good reason.  These products are sleek, super user-friendly, and of the highest quality in every way, especially safety.  We have the Nuna Pipa carseat and base, as well as the IVVI stroller and we LOVE IT.  It rides so smoothly (just LOOK at the tires on that thing...it's basically an all-terrain vehicle for pete's sake!), and it folds very quickly and easily for storage.  The car seat also attaches to the stroller base, adding yet another level of convenience, in addition to a separate stroller seat attachment with the click of the button - both easily interchangeable. The car seat and base system have a super quick and easy install, and I feel confident about little E's safety in my car...and that's what's most important to me.

2.  4moms 'MamaRoo' - So this is like the cadillac of infant seats, and uses ground breaking technology for our brand new babes' comfort. It moves in motions similar to that of a mama or daddy's natural moment. It has 5 settings that move different ways and at different speeds, as well as an audio jack that attaches to your phone to play music through speakers in the base of the seat.  It also has built in sounds like ocean waves and the sound of a heartbeat to soothe your tiny one. E actually would ONLY sleep in the MamaRoo for the first 3 weeks of his life, which was a literal lifesaver at that time.  We highly recommend it!!

3.  Blooming Bath - This is one of the most unique baby products I've come across, I'm pretty sure.  I've seen endless little plastic infant tubs that are designed for either the regular bath tub, or kitchen sink and a few of them are great (the 4moms one, which we also have by the way!) but this particular sink insert is one-of-a-kind.  It's basically a plush, fluffy flower that sits in your kitchen sink and provides a soft, perfect bath seat for baby that is comfortable and warm for them.  It's super convenient as well for clean up, because you can just toss the flower in the washer and dryer when you're finished using it, and then it's ready to go for the next bath time! Oh, and they're cute! So that's a bonus :)

4.  DockAtot - This is by far one of the best products we've discovered.  While they may seem a little on the pricey end, they're well worth the investment...especially if you're desperate for sleep like I was (again...where's my amen ladies?) So we've only had the DockAtot for a few weeks now, but the greatest feat of parenthood I've experienced thus far, was getting E to take his first nap alone in it (he had refused to sleep in anything but my arms for weeks and weeks) and it was the most productive 30 minutes I'd had all week.  And just recently actually, he's been going down every night for about 5-6 hour stretches in it...and I'm slowly regaining my sanity (although don't ask my husband...) This is such a unique product because it seems like it's just a padded pillow, but people...I promise you it's more than that.  It's magic. Pure magic that brings everyone sleep. It comes in two different sizes...the "Deluxe" is designed for babies ages 0-8 months while the "Grand" is more for 9-36 months. It makes baby feel surrounded and secure and my little Emmett is proof that these things are creators of sleep. 

5.  MatiMati - This company sells organic cotton fleece bandana bibs, pacifier clips and washcloths too! MatiMati is super special because every purchase of the bamboo bib sets help to fight against human trafficking. They're super absorbent and ideal for "drooly" babies...and way cuter than most other bib brands out there!!

6.  Solly Baby Wrap - It's no secret that there are an innumerable amount of baby wraps and carriers out there and they're all great for different reasons.  But Solly Baby has to be my favorite brand I've encountered so far. I've found that I absolutely love baby wearing and it truly helps to strengthen the bond between mama and babe because you're so closely connected with these wraps.  They're easy to put on and adjust and they're made with custom fabrics and dyes, making them very high quality and super soft for your little one. They're comfortable and easy to throw in any diaper bag or purse as well for on-the-go baby wearing!  Soon many cute styles and prints to choose from as well!

7.  SkipHop 7 Piece Diaper Tote Set & Portable Changing Station - Guys.  Who knew you had to travel with a practical suitcase every time you wanted to leave the house with babe??  Let's be honest...we have SO MUCH STUFF TO BRING ALONG. This diaper bag is my favorite one I've come across so far. It's a really chic looking and super lightweight diaper bag with so many different pockets and accessories to help you be prepared with everything you need while you're away from the house. It comes in 3 different styles - backpack, tote and satchel and 4 awesome colors.  We have this bag in the steel grey for our little one and it makes life on-the-go so much easier. And if I'm making super quick trips away from home, the SkipHop changing station in the new "feather gray" print is all I toss in my purse...I can change E anytime, anywhere with this super convenient changing station that folds up and holds diapers and wipes.

8.  Owlet Baby Monitor - This is probably one of the most incredible baby products out there right now.  No, it's not a video monitor and you can't carry around a device that shows you what position your baby is sleeping or if they're crying...BUT, this monitor is in a class of its own.  It's a small sock that your infant wears that monitors the baby's heart rate and oxygen levels. It has a convenient base that you can plug in next to you that will sound if something is not normal, as well as an app that connects to your phone for tracking your baby's vitals as well.  It gives new parents such peace of mind knowing that if at any moment, baby's heart rate drops, or oxygen levels plummet, you will be immediately notified via your phone app, or the base monitor in your home. This is an absolute must-have and we love ours.

9.  BabyGanics products - This is personally my favorite brand of baby products ranging from baby laundry detergent to diapers, and even household cleaning sprays/solutions that are baby safe.  BabyGanics products are all made using plant based ingredients (and organic when practical) which creates a product that's not only safe for your baby, but ideal for your baby...especially when considering what products to use when washing your baby's hair, or treating their sensitive skin. There are no unnecessary chemicals or preservatives found in these products and that makes a new mama feel good when I'm lotion-ing up my chubby boy after a bath. :)

10.  BinxyBaby Hammocks - Last but not definitely not least (for convenient's sake!), I LOVE Binxy Baby!! They have created these baby "hammocks" that clip on easily to nearly every shopping cart out there for quick and simple shopping trips.  They can either hold baby himself, OR even the carseat.  It's been tested and proven safe and also mom-tested for convenience!! And although he doesn't look like it...E loves his Binxy Baby! (And so does his shopping mama)

 

I hope this was helpful to some of you new (and seasoned!) mamas like me that are just trying to figure out our lives with little ones! These products have been super helpful to me in the last couple months and I couldn't afford to not share them with you. Be sure to let me know what you think of these 10 and also others that you're loving right now! 

Happy Saturday shopping mamas!! :)

  

Posted on February 18, 2017 .

Hi 2017 (And What I've Learned Being a Mom for One Month)


Happy New Year Everyone!! I literally can't believe it's already 2017 and as I look back on the last year...2016...I wave goodbye to it with a sense of bittersweetness in my heart.  2016 was the year of fulfilled dreams for me - quite possibly the greatest year of my life thus far.  I'll get into that later.  So I'm waving goodbye to this past year with mixed emotions...a full and happy heart for the things that were, and an excitement and nervousness of what's to come.  To be honest, I know 2016 sucked all around for a lot of people.  And if that's you, I'm really sorry.  I hate that. But you know what? Today is the FIRST day of a BRAND NEW YEAR.  This year will be what you make it.  So 2017 - Let's DO this!

 

2016 was the best year of my life so far for so many reasons - we bought our first house, traveled to cool places together, my family all moved here from Chicago, I found out I was pregnant, we made so many new friendships with people, and so many other things...but the one that tops them all is the birth of our Emmett Rhodes on December 1st.  So as of today...he is officially ONE MONTH OLD.  How is it that a month has already passed since the day he was born?  In some ways, I still relive that eventful day like it was yesterday...I almost remember every detail still.  And then in other ways, I feel like I can barely remember my life before Emmett was in it.  But I CAN tell you..I've learned a whole lot in the last month about being a mom...

 What most of my days look like now...

What most of my days look like now...

First of all, it's HARD.  Like...really hard.  Throughout my entire pregnancy, I had friends of ours who have already had kids tell us how difficult the first few weeks are with a newborn...one even called it "walking through actual Hell" (which I'm fairly certain I wouldn't use those same words to describe it (Haha) But I will say, Caleb and I were not prepared for how difficult those first few days would actually be.  And to be completely honest with you...I would rather do my 24 hours of labor all over again before I would do that first night back at home with the baby again...no, seriously.  Let me paint that picture for you...

So Caleb and I bring a tiny, new baby home to a perfectly clean house that first night.  We settled in and realized there were a few things that we didn't buy ahead of time that we needed at home for baby...so we grabbed those things at the store real quick and my parents met us at the house later to help us get settled in for our first night alone with him.  (By the way, we came home to a giant banner on our garage door announcing Emmett's arrival...which made us cry...and then walked into our home where candles had already been lit, blue balloons were placed in a couple different rooms and another "Welcome Baby Boy" sign was hanging in the doorway of our living room...all thanks to my sneaky daddy who did some prep right before we pulled in with the baby) Anyways, my mama made dinner for us that night and stayed until around bedtime to help us get everything situated before we would try and take on the night...we could this, right? Oh my word. 

So we decided to camp out that first night in our bedroom...so we lugged the rocking chair from the nursery into our room, the bassinet for Emmett to sleep in...(because he would sleep at least some right?? LOL at that) and we proceeded to get ready for bed - when the crying first started...about the minute after my mom headed for home (of course). We took turns attempting to soothe him. Tried feeding him.  Tried rocking him.  Tried the bassinet.  Tried the MamaRoo.  Tried a pacifier.  Tried walking around the house with him.  ALL TO NO AVAIL.  Our puppy Romo showed her concern by staying awake with us...and so we literally forgot for about 24 hours that we even owned a pet at that point.  We both started to go insane...just a little. By 8am, I called my mom in hysterical sobs, begging for her to come rescue us and try to get Emmett to stop screaming.  She walked into a filthy house (in less than 12 hours)...no listen...there was dog poop scattered about the kitchen (because you know, the whole "we forgot we had an animal" thing because SCREAMING BABY) and we didn't let Romo out to potty.  Our room looked like a bomb had gone off in there...blankets and bedding everywhere, the furniture seemed to be in different places by morning than it was when we went to bed the night before, and my mom walked in to find me shirtless, attempting to feed Emmett...BOTH of us crying and Caleb taking his turn trying to catch 2 minutes of sleep with a black sock over his face. This...was parenthood that first nightAnd WHOA.  We weren't ready. 

Needless to say...the following few nights were nearly as terrible as we desperately tried navigating this whole "parent" thing with absolutely no sleep.  But somehow at the same time, Emmett has already been in our lives for one entire month and it's the greatest, most rewarding gift we've ever experienced.  No, we don't really sleep anymore.  We don't get hot meals (unless our amazing friends bring us dinner, which they've done for a month now...THANK you guys!!) and yes, there have been days on end that neither one of us got to take a shower. But we are gratefully happy.  Exhaustingly fulfilled.  And so very overjoyed at this precious baby boy that has made our lives infinitely more difficult, yet infinitely more beautiful.  It's hard to describe this love we have for him.  But a month has gone by and I thought I'd let you in on 10 things I've learned being a mom so far...

 Taken exactly 3 weeks apart

Taken exactly 3 weeks apart

1.  I don't matter anymore.  This sounds harsh and victimizing and I don't mean it to be at all.  I just mean my needs come after Emmett's...every. single. time. And that's the way it should be!  (This is why showers have ceased to be important...at least at the moment haha)

2.  Hot meals are overrated. Although I'm breastfeeding...so meals in general are important because I'm starving ALL THE TIME.  But sometimes a bowl of cereal is the greatest thing I'll experience in a day. Seriously, if you bring me food, pretend it's for a grown man triple my size because I guarantee I'll finish it all. 

3.  It takes a village. This phrase has always been tossed around among other parents we've known in our life circles and we didn't realize how true it was until we had a baby of our own.  It takes SO many people taking care of us, so that we can take care of him. (At least these first few weeks anyways.)

4.  Babies don't need stuff.  We were prepared with every amazing piece of baby technology you could possibly have beforehand...all the seats, and bouncers, and strollers, and sound machines, and soothing agents...and guess what?  Emmett hates ALL of it.  Babies just want to be held by their mamas and daddies.  And right now, that's my full time job.  And I love it, because someday (and all too soon I fear), that will change.  

5.  Going anywhere with a baby takes about 5 hours longer to get ready for, than it did before baby.  It literally takes a year to get out of the house with a newborn it seems.  (Although today, I got out to the grocery store with E all by myself and it was a success!)

 Proof that we got out today successfully...

Proof that we got out today successfully...

6.  Marriage becomes a lot more difficult.  And this is where it gets weird...because in my one month experience of being a mama, I learned my love for my husband is so much deeper now than it ever even was before...BUT, marriage itself is more difficult now than ever.  Finding time for each other seems unattainable these days.  But we're making a diligent effort to still have date nights and chat at the end of every day together.

7.  Keeping owners' manuals of all your baby gear is a MUST.  This stuff is more complicated than you think guys.  The only really easy thing to use is a diaper genie I've learned...and let's be honest...how hard can those be?

8.  Letting other people help is a gift that I need to accept.  This one has always been hard for me.  I'm very much a "I can do-this-myself person" and in the last month of being a mama, I've learned I definitely can't do this myself.  And it's okay to accept (and even ASK!) for help.  With everything.  Baby, laundry, cooking, cleaning, etc.

9.  There is an endless supply of laundry to be done.  I think I do like 6 loads a day...and somehow there is always STILL laundry to be done...I guess this makes sense when you have a baby pooping and spitting up on everything you own.  :)

10.  The most important thing I've learned so far is to take every day, just one day at a time.  Every day has been a different set of challenges with Emmett. Some days, it's just about keeping him from screaming until his voice gives out (I wish I could say this has never happened but...) and other days, it's a serious victory when both E and myself have been bathed.  All I know is, I have never been more grateful for something or someone in my life.  This baby has made me realize what I was created and born to do...and that's to be a mama.  

These difficult days of having a newborn are fleeting and short in the grand scheme of things.  These incessant sleepless nights and constant feedings won't last forever.  The mornings of surviving on coffee and a prayer should be treasured because I can do them while holding my precious, healthy baby.  Yes...it's hard.  But it's EVERYTHING I've ever wanted.  Someday, Emmett won't cry for me to hold him anymore.  He won't get his nutrition solely from my body forever.  And I won't get to wake up with him right next to me in bed someday soon either.  These moments are to be treasured.  Even the hardest ones...because being a mama is a privilege that I feel I don't even deserve. But I can promise you this, I will do everything I can to be the greatest mama to my son that I can possibly be.  

So 2017...I'm not sure what you've got up your sleeve - but I'm ready for you.  And you've got some BIG shoes to fill from last year.  But I'm looking to you with excitement and anticipation. 

AND finally...happy ONE MONTH to my precious Emmett Rhodes - you have fulfilled my forever dream of being a mama and you'll never know how much I love you.

Cheers to 2017 everybody!!!!

Posted on January 1, 2017 .

The Birth Story of our Emmett Rhodes Grimm

12. A significant number. 

I’ve struggled and wrestled for 12 days now— the number of days Emmett was past his due date, and also the number of days that he has now been in this world with us…

to find the courage and strength to write about his journey into our arms.  I am already sitting here in tears just thinking about how I’m going to write this. But then I look down next to me, at this perfect little baby boy, sleeping and dreaming peacefully, and I remember he is a good and perfect gift that God has entrusted Caleb and I with…and he is ALIVE and well. 

I loved being pregnant.  I loved watching my belly grow, and feeling every kick, wiggle and movement, right up until about the last 2 months or so when Emmett decided to start practicing his kickboxing skills in my ribcage. Turns out, he was a pretty big baby for my body to handle and he was just as uncomfortable in there toward the end as I was…and yet, he still decided he would never come out on his own. Isn't it amazing how our plans for ourselves and our futures can change in an instant?

 4 days before our due date, we finally had some maternity pictures taken. Photo credit: Jewel Hernandez

4 days before our due date, we finally had some maternity pictures taken. Photo credit: Jewel Hernandez

About 23 weeks into my pregnancy, Caleb and I transferred our prenatal care from the hospital to a birthing center here in Nashville called Baby + Company, a center that provides a holistic approach to birth and babies.  We were able to do all of our appointments there in the posh, cozy birthing suites— each equipped with queen sized beds, birthing tubs, pilates ladders, and other natural pain management methods.  I had decided about halfway through my pregnancy that the hospital setting/doctors’ office environment wasn’t for me…I didn’t like the idea of how ‘sterile’ it felt, the fact that hospitals can seem like businesses just trying to turn beds over, and how often women seem ‘rushed’ through their labor and delivery, which can ultimately lead to unnecessary C-sections.  I did my research and decided Baby + Co. was the place for us to have Emmett.  I wanted to feel the natural pains of labor while bringing Emmett into the world.  I wanted to feel like I was in control of my labor, and I trusted that my body was designed to do this. Oh, how different things turned out to be. 

My body never went into labor on its own.  I tried ALL the natural things in the book to try and bribe my body to do what I thought it could on its own.  When I turned 41 weeks, my midwife required me to get an ultra sound at that point, because I was late enough that concerns of decreasing amniotic fluid levels could lead to potential dangers for the baby…so I went in at the beginning of that week for an ultra sound to check on little E.  The tech informed me that E was measuring to be about 9 pounds…which, if you know Caleb and I AT ALL…you’d understand why this sounded so ridiculous to us! (laughing as I even type this…) We are two of the smallest people in the world, and yet somehow, this ultra sound tech was telling us we were going to have a HUGE baby.  Naturally, I panicked immediately and started to second guess everything I had planned for my labor and delivery.  I immediately began doubting my body’s ability to birth a 9 pound baby naturally and I burst into tears on the ultra sound table.  Caleb assured me that I was absolutely capable, and that I was strong, and that I needed to trust the people taking care of me to help me bring my baby into the world the way I wanted to and had planned.

We followed up with my midwife that day, who told me that ultra sound techs were almost always off in their predictions of baby’s weight and size and that I didn’t need to worry about that.  She did however, tell me that if at any point, I wanted to forgo the birthing center option and opt for a hospital induction, that I absolutely could and they would support that.  I decided to give it few more days to see if E would decide to come on his own.  This appointment was on a Monday.  After careful consideration, prayer, another phone call to my midwife, and the support of our family, Caleb and I felt it was best to abandon our birth plan at the birthing center and schedule an induction for Wednesday, November 30th at 8:00pm at Vanderbilt Medical Center.  I was 11 days late at this point and no signs of labor whatsoever.  I was devastated to go another route with my birth plan that I had so carefully written and prayed over for so many months.  In a way, I already felt like such a failure to my son for ‘giving in’ and opting for drugs that would force my body to go into labor.  I wrestled for those two days and prayed earnestly that God would still allow my body to go into labor on its own…before my scheduled induction. But alas, God just had other plans for Emmett’s arrival. Needless to say, Wednesday was a crazy day of cleaning the house (a desperate attempt to distract from my nerves about that coming night), last minute errands, and nursery tweaks to make sure everything was perfect when we would come home with our little one just a couple days later.  As 7:30 drew closer and closer that day, the time when we would get in the car and head to the hospital, so did my nerves and anxiety about our decision.  Even in the quiet ride in the car on the way there, Caleb and I discussed our decision to induce and while we both outwardly told ourselves it was the right decision, we both inwardly were so hesitant about it.  But the decision was made and we were on our way. Emmett was coming whether he liked it or not. 

We checked into the hospital that night and were taken to our birthing room.  I went into this process still wanting to stick as closely to my birth plan as possible, even though the environment was going to be different.  I wanted to labor naturally as long as I could and experience everything that comes with that. Soon after we arrived, my parents arrived, a couple of my best friends Autumn and Jewel (who was also our birth photographer) arrived at the hospital and the excitement and nervousness was palpable in that room. 

 

They started my IV and not long after that, gave me a pill that was supposed to begin ripening my cervix.  In other words, a pill that would thrust my body into labor about 45 minutes later.  I explained to the midwife there that I wanted to labor naturally as long as I could and her response was this: “That’s totally great Kelsey, and I respect your decision to do that.  But I just want you to know that induced labors are SO different than natural labors when the body does it on its own.  Induced contractions are much more difficult to withstand because they are not the body’s natural way of getting the baby out.  You may experience fast and furious contractions that don’t give way to breaks in between.  I can count on ONE finger…(she said “finger”, not hand by the way), the number of women who have been induced and been able to give birth naturally…it’s just very hard.  But you are welcome to try as long as you’d like.  And if you change your mind, an epidural is right around the corner and there’s no shame in that.”  She instilled the fear of God in me at that point a little bit…but I was still determined to try.  About 45 minutes later, I experienced my first contraction.  And it wasn’t a slow fade into contractions…it was as she said—fast and furious.  All of a sudden my body was contracting faster than I could breathe almost, and again, she was right—there were about 10 second breaks between most of them before I would try and survive the next one.  They seemed to get stronger and stronger when I thought for sure, it was impossible for them to get worse. 

 

I labored this way with the support of my mom and Caleb for about 3 hours.  We were deep into the night by now and I was in excruciating pain.  The midwife came in to “check me” and see if I had made progress after those grueling hours of contractions, because surely, they wouldn’t be for nothing…surely, I had to have progressed, right?  She checked me and I was still at 2cm…what I entered the hospital at before my labor ever even began.  She told me that I was still the same and that my body wasn’t responding to the contractions.  I instantly burst into tears.  Yet another failure it felt like.  My body couldn’t even figure out how to progress with the drugs they were giving me?? How was this possible?? At this point, I knew it was going to be a really long night.  I also knew that I could not withstand induced labor pains if it meant no progress.  I gave in.  I opted for the epidural.  Minutes later, the anesthesiologist came into the room and Caleb stayed with me while they administered the spinal needle.  While I was sitting there having this done, my water broke on the table. Of course.  And immediately following that, another massive contraction…but I had to hold ever so still while they put the needle in that would finally bring some relief to the last few hours I’d spent laboring.  After the epidural, my labor became tolerable.  It definitely wasn’t pain canceling, but it made my contractions less obvious to me, and much more bearable.  The next 12 hours or so, I labored in the hospital bed with the help of the drugs and my sweet husband and mama who never left my side.

 

I was so tired.  Worn out. Still progressing so slowly…even with upped dosages of Pitocin constantly.  Finally, around 5:20pm the next day and after about 21 hours of labor at this point, it was finally time to start pushing my midwife said.  But at this point in time, I was so exhausted and out of it, that I’m told I literally responded with, “I can’t push today…let’s do it tomorrow instead.  I just need to sleep”…

Isn’t it funny what your mind thinks is rational after no sleep and some trauma to your body?  I actually thought in that moment that it would be possible to put off pushing until the next day…unfortunately my midwife informed me that’s not exactly how it works, and that I needed to dig deep and get this baby out.  I mustered up some adrenaline and motivation because I knew that I was finally about to meet my baby.  What I didn’t know, what that for the next 3.5 hours, I would be pushing for all I was worth to try and bring our little E into the world.  The first hour of pushing was exhilarating.  I felt like I was so close to meeting him, but after that hour and a half mark of pushing, I started to feel defeated and overly exhausted again.  I lost some willpower around this point and started to doubt that I could push him out at all.  I began to come off the rails a little bit.  I started crying and telling them that I couldn’t do it anymore…I couldn’t push like that anymore.  I was literally pushing for 30 seconds at a time during a contraction, and then completely falling asleep until the next one.  I just couldn’t keep my eyes open…but I felt every contraction coming on, which would bring me right out of my sleep and into push mode once again.  Another hour and a half later…(24 hours of labor, people at this point), I was losing it.   At this point, it took an army of people to motivate and encourage me that I could and NEEDED to get him out.  His heart rate was dropping with every contraction at this point from being in the birth canal for so long.  They were giving me oxygen between contractions to help keep E going too.  It was starting to look bleak.  Finally, Jenna (one of our midwives) demanded the attention of the room (which was very full at this point with my entire family and a couple close friends…also never what I would’ve planned, but am SO thankful for looking back now) and asked my dad if he would pray aloud over that moment…that Emmett would make his appearance very soon. He prayed.  Everyone prayed. 

 My daddy's prayer over us.

My daddy's prayer over us.

My body forced me to sleep between contractions, even though I tried desperately to stay conscious enough to hear my daddy’s prayer over me and my son.  Minutes after dad’s prayer, with my family very literally cheering me on, taking turns counting the seconds as I was pushing, and Caleb coaching me through every contraction, Emmett finally entered the world at 8:41 that night.  They immediately placed him on my chest and the room burst into loud cheers and sobs with joy, excitement and relief— that would only last about 45 seconds before everything would change and terror would take the place of our joy as we waited for that first cry…

It didn’t happen.  The room changed.  You could’ve heard a pin drop in that place.  I instantly knew something was very wrong.  My son started to turn blue in my arms.  The midwives furiously rubbed and prodded Emmett to try and initiate that first sound every mother longs to hear when their baby enters the world…but silence still…except for the sound of my voice starting to rise and panic.  I asked why he hadn’t cried yet and the voices of my midwives shakily told me he would…that he would be okay.  But their actions didn’t line up with their words.  They quickly pulled Caleb over to cut the cord (which I originally wanted to be delayed for the baby’s benefit), but they informed me it needed to be done, and done quickly because he still hadn’t cried…or taken a breath.  At this point, the memories become a blur to me.  In an instant, my beautiful son I had worked 24 hours to bring into the world, was whisked away from my chest…and 9 NICU surgeons and nurses poured into the right side of our room to try and get him to breathe. I laid helplessly without my baby on the table bleeding.  My family, friends and husband were all on the left side of my hospital bed, the medical professionals to the right.  And I laid trapped in the middle of the room…with the panic and terror of a mother’s worst nightmare rushing over me.  I began screaming irrationally…psychotically really, about my son.  Why hadn’t he cried or made a sound yet?? Was he going to be okay?? Could someone PLEASE tell me what’s going on?? I screamed, crying hysterically and my village turned to weeping, and praying…crying and begging Jesus to help our son breathe.  Caleb draped himself over me to try and keep my thrashing body from flying off the table as I wailed uncontrollably.  He tried to yell over my screams into my ear—prayers for our baby that wasn’t breathing…encouragement that he would be okay, all the while thinking himself, that we may not leave the hospital with a baby after all. These moments felt like hours.  In the sheer panic and chaos that ensued for the next few minutes as the NICU teamed rushed to save my baby boy, there was a moment in time I will never forget.

I remember feeling trapped between two worlds almost.  I looked to my left.  There was my village.  My mom, Tyler (my brother) and Autumn hit the floor on their faces to pray.  My dad sobbed and prayed loudly near my head as I screamed.  My other brother, his girlfriend and my friend Jewel also praying as we all sobbed and waited for what seemed like hours. Caleb secured me to the bed and prayed loudly into my ear.  I looked to my right.  Blue lab coats everywhere.  The sound of my screaming, and the voices of the doctors flooded the room.  But still no cry from my son.  No one turning around to tell this terrified mama that her son was going to be okay.  In that moment, I looked left again and through my screams, I heard someone yell the name of Jesus.  Then I heard Caleb’s voice pierce through all the others and utter “Jesus”…and before I knew it, I too screamed out what only I had left…”JESUS”.  Our village prayed Heaven down into that room.  It felt like Heaven was on my left, interceding for my son, while Earth was on my right, using their expertise working to keep him alive.  Heaven and Earth collided for me in that hazy moment, and out of the chaos and noise that filled that room, somehow my son’s first tiny murmur cut through it all and hit our ears.  That first tiny cry.  Then moments later, a big, loud wail— the sweetest sound my ears will ever hear in this lifetime.  A rush of relief swept through the room and a NICU doctor finally turned to me and said “He is breathing, we are helping him…but he is breathing”, before he quickly turned back around to tend to my still blue baby that was struggling to breathe on his own.  

About 5 minutes later, they finally brought him back to me, wrapped in a blanket, eyes wide open and skin still very white.  But he was ALIVE.  Breathing on his own.  And looking into my eyes as if to tell me he had fought to find his way back to my arms.  Caleb and I sobbed with relief and gratitude as we stared at our son together. 

 Our first moments as a family of 3

Our first moments as a family of 3

His life was spared and entrusted to us, and at that very moment in time, we realized the depth of the priceless gift we had been given.  Emmett Rhodes Grimm, you were and are the most beautiful miracle we will ever witness in this lifetime.  We couldn’t love you more than we already do, and we will spend the rest of our lives trying to show you that.   You are our greatest joy, our most precious treasure, and our proudest accomplishment.  We love you with the fire of a million suns.  Thank you for making us mama and daddy. And Jesus, thank you for trusting us with him.

 Our precious Emmett Rhodes Grimm

Our precious Emmett Rhodes Grimm

Posted on December 12, 2016 .