The {Redemptive} Birth Story of our Beckett Wade

I can't start writing about B's birth story without first prefacing the title...I choose the word redemptive because if you know anything about the birth of our first son, Emmett, you would know that Caleb and I's recollection of it is with the deepest fear-filled memories that bring tears of pain back to us in an instant. We have spent the last 19 months of Emmett's life looking back at the day he came into the world, and recognizing the miracle that his little life is and we don't take it for granted for one second.  He is a gift that we feel so incredibly grateful to have, hold, love and nurture every single day.  To catch you up if you never had the chance to read Emmett's birth story, he was two weeks late.  I had originally wanted and prayed for a natural birth center delivery and it was the exact opposite of everything I had dreamed of when thinking about how I wanted m baby to be born..  I was induced, labored for 24 hours, and pushed for nearly 4 hours before finally bringing him into the world...blue and completely unresponsive.  They whisked him away from my chest after all those grueling hours of labor before I could hardly even get a look at his precious face.  He was all but alive in that moment when I held him for the first time.  He was silent. He didn't cry or wail like mamas imagine and dream of when they finally get to meet their baby.  The nurses called a code blue in the delivery room, and the entire NICU team to Vanderbilt Hospital rushed into the room in a matter of split seconds to save his life. The details of these memories remain blurry to me, except for the sound of my screaming and hysteria mixed with the audible prayers of every single person in the room begging on our behalf for a miracle of the Divine that Emmett would breathe.  After nearly 5 minutes of silence from my blue and lifeless baby across the room, he let out a whimper that pierced through every other noise in the room. He was alive.  My entire family witnessed both the most euphoric and horrific moment of Caleb and I's lives. The lack of oxygen could've caused brain damage, developmental delays and so many other residual issues for our boy, and instead we've witnessed the opposite. He is a walking, breathing, burning with fire passionate little boy who will leave the world a better place than he found it someday.  We watch him, his everyday little tendencies and quirks with the utmost awe, taking in every new discovery he finds, learns and experiences with a gratitude in our hearts we can't describe.  Watching him thrive gives us life. 

But his birth story still remains painful for us to even talk about.  We have been to counseling to deal with the trauma of it all and to try and work through the impact the memory has on our hearts and minds.  When we found out we were pregnant again before Emmett was even a year old, we were of course elated and so blessed for the prospect of another little life to raise and love, but we couldn't escape the fact that after 9 months, we would have to live through the experience of going to the hospital, laboring, and delivering the baby into the world, and that caused us anxiety from the very beginning.  We trusted that this experience would be different than the first.  We hoped for it.  But we also feared the entire idea so deeply and couldn't fathom going through the trauma of a baby coming out blue or not breathing again.  So we prayed.  And we talked about it. Over and over. We had our friends and family praying my entire pregnancy for a completely different delivery experience...one of peace and calm, where we could experience the presence of the Divine in the midst of the birth, instead of simply struggling to survive those first few sacred moments of the baby being born.  But I would be lying if I said we weren't riddled with fear every time we talked about that day coming.  And we knew it would.

I went to the doctor at 35 weeks pregnant and she checked me to see if my body was starting to prepare itself for labor this time around (which it never did with Emmett).  She told me that I was already dilated nearly 4cm and that she believed I wouldn't even make it to my due date with little Beckett, which would've been July 27th, 2018.  I cried on the table in disbelief that my body was showing signs that it knew what to do this time around.  Maybe I would get to experience what natural labor felt like.  Could it be? I was so excited, I can't describe to you the encouragement I felt leaving the doctor's office that day.  We felt like the baby was going to come any minute after that. He didn't come right away but we started to prepare for it if he did.  I packed my hospital bag, and a bag for Emmett to stay at Yaya and Papi's (my parents) if the baby decided to actually come on his own.  For the next couple weeks I waited--some days patiently, some days not so much.  The closer I got to my due date, the more anxiety I could feel welling up inside me.  Shouldn't I have had the baby by now? I was walking around at 4cm dilated for two weeks...how was he not here yet?? Did I get my hopes up?  I laid awake in bed at night assessing every Braxton Hicks contraction (I had lots this pregnancy) wondering and praying that maybe this time, this contraction would be a real one.  But it wasn't.

Not until the night of the 17th.  Caleb and I had been watching a series on Netflix we were super into and we were debating whether or not to try and squeeze in one more episode before we went to bed that night.  We decided that maybe we were too tired and should just go to bed (ah, how times have changed from deciding what plans to make or where to go at 10pm...the days before kids :)) We went to bed.  1:30 in the morning...I woke up having a big contraction. I figured it was because my bladder was full and I just needed to pee. I got up and went to the restroom and climbed back in bed with only a tiny piece of me wondering if maybe that was a real contraction...since it was the first one I'd ever had that was mildly painful instead of just uncomfortable as Braxton Hicks normally are.  I laid awake.  Jittery. Couldn't slow my mind down. Would I have another one?  Probably not.  Don't get your hopes up, Kels. 20 minutes later, I had another one. Again, fairly painful compared to the ones I'd been having all the weeks leading up to my delivery. Then another 8 minutes later.  In true millennial fashion, I downloaded an app on my phone to start timing the contractions to see if they were actually going to keep happening.  I didn't even wake Caleb at this point because I didn't want to get him excited or concerned if I wasn't 100% positive I was even in labor yet.  I tracked my contractions for the next hour or so.  They were about 7-8 minutes apart, but not really getting more intense which was my understanding of true labor.  At this point after just over an hour of somewhat consistent contractions, I rolled over and just whispered to Caleb that I thought I was in labor.  He perked up and said, "Are you serious?! What do we do? Do we need to go to the hospital?" My response, "I have no idea...I've never done this before!" lol I explained that I thought we didn't have to rush to the hospital until the contractions were closer to 5 minutes apart.  At this point I told him to go back to sleep and that I was going to get in the bathtub for awhile and try to relax.  I did and for about another hour or so I labored in the tub alone, with the reality hitting me that I WAS actually in labor...with each contraction now 5 minutes apart, I was such a mixture of excitement, nerves and yet such disbelief that my body was doing labor on its own.  They became more intense.  I called the hospital and talked to a nurse, told her I was having contractions 5 minutes apart and asked if we should go in at that point.  She said we definitely could but also said if I wanted to wait and labor a little longer in the comfort of my house I could.  So I waited.  A few more minutes in the tub. They became increasingly stronger where I couldn't focus on anything except breathing through each contraction. I decided maybe it was time to wake Caleb again.  I called my mom and told her that my contractions were 5 minutes apart and getting really intense. She and my dad left for my house immediately.  It was about 4:30 in the morning by this point.  I got out of the tub and immediately my contractions became fierce and incredibly painful.  I was doubled over breathing through each one, Caleb was up and feverishly rushing around to pack his hospital bag.  The car seat still wasn't even installed in the car yet because honestly in my heart of hearts, I didn't see myself going into labor on my own. So he ran downstairs, installed the car seat. My parents got to our house about 30 minutes later and I was in full on labor.  The contractions were about 3 minutes apart and I felt like I was barely getting through each one.  Could they get worse?  Oh they would get worse.  Caleb, myself and my mom jumped in the car and headed to the hospital.  My dad stayed at our house to be here when Emmett woke up.  

The car ride was intense.  I remember wishing we could teleport to the hospital.  How did that 20 minutes in the car feel like 20 hours?! Caleb, GO FASTER. Mom sat behind me and massaged my shoulders and neck the entire way through each contraction, which became about 2 minutes apart.  We arrived at the hospital and made our way to Labor & Delivery.  They took us to a room and asked if I wanted an epidural right then.  I turned it down saying I wanted to wait until I couldn't stand it anymore.  The nurse checked my progress upon arriving and told me I was at about 5cm but dilating quickly.  By the time they moved me from triage to an actual delivery room, I was contracting so hard, I felt like I was going to come off the rails with each one.  With each contraction I told them I wanted an epidural, and then when it would calm down, I would change my mind and think I could handle the next one.  Then with each contraction I was begging for the drugs again! Haha

Finally, I told them I was serious and this time I really did want the epidural.  They told me it would take about a half hour to get them there to administer it and then another 10-15 minutes for it to kick in.  By the time I actually got the epidural, I had dilated to 8cm on my own.  When the epidural kicked in, I felt like I was able to take in the moments and process what was actually happening. We spoke with our birth photographer who was on her way to the hospital and I was already dilated to nearly 10cm and not far from pushing time.  Once she arrived, the nurses broke my water to help move things along more quickly.  About an hour later, I was ready to push.  We couldn't believe how quickly it had all happened and yet how much we were able to enjoy and take in every moment (especially after the epidural kicked in and I could focus on something other than surviving every contraction).  A few minutes later, the delivery nurses and my doctor showed up to the room.  Our nurse Amanda, knowing our birth story with Emmett told me it was time to push this sweet baby out, and how about we do it in less than 3.5 hours this time...we were so excited.  And so scared.  With my mom on the right side of the hospital bed, and Caleb on my left, we took the moments right before pushing to stop and pray for the next few moments where we were going to bring Beckett in the world.  We prayed for peace...for a pink, screaming baby upon coming out.  We cried at the thought of it all. We took a couple deep breaths and the nurse said, "Okay Kelsey, let's meet your baby now".  I pushed through 2 contractions and then before the next one she asked, "Kelsey, are you ready to meet this sweet boy? Because you're going to get to hold him on this next push..." I instantly sobbed.  I couldn't believe it. 3 pushes??? Instead of 3 hours of pushing?!  It can't be real.  I asked mom and Caleb to pray one more time.  I could feel the fear rising again.  Would he come out breathing? He had to, because I couldn't live through another instance where my baby didn't breathe.  But would he? The nurse's words, "Okay Kelsey, let's meet this baby" still ring in my ears.  I pushed one more time and Beckett emerged with a giant wail and they placed his tiny, pink little body on my chest and as he screamed, we all sobbed with joy.  He was perfect.  He was beautiful.  He was very much alive and well and there was no mistaking that by the wailing he let out...the most beautiful sound in the world.  They wrapped him up for me and we all just took in the moments simply of his aliveness those next several minutes.  

I cry a different kind of tears this time when I talk about Beckett's birth story because it was so full of peace and calm and everything we hoped and prayed for leading up to it.  Both birth stories of my boys were Divine for different reasons...and I'm infinitely grateful for both experiences, but this one we needed. It was redemptive in every sense of the word, and we were even let out of the hospital a day early because everything with both me and baby was great and we were ready to go home and be a family of 4.  I am so grateful for every step of this birth and what it did for my heart and the way it gave me hope that every birth is different.  But most of all, I am grateful for two precious baby boys to love, cherish, teach and invest in for the rest of their lives.  I am grateful for the name they will call me, and the weight of its meaning, mama. I don't take my job of raising them lightly, and I pray that I do it with grace, courage, and wisdom and that every single day I recognize the privilege it is to be their mama, even on the difficult and trying days. I am so grateful to get to share this redemptive story with you, most of whom I've never even met, but you've been with us during this pregnancy and process.  Thank you for that.  What an incredible community we've been given.  

Beckett Wade, you are everything and more that we hoped you'd be.  Your little life has already changed ours in ways we can't describe.  And as I said at the end of Emmett's birth story, we love you boys with the fire of a million suns and are so grateful to be your parents.  We will love you until the end of time.

Thank you to you beautiful people for coming alongside us on this journey of parenthood, even from afar.  You're wonderful souls and we're so grateful.

All my love and light,

Kelsey

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All my thanks to our birth photographer, Hayley Collins Ryan for freezing these moment in time for us.

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Posted on July 27, 2018 .

#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 .