Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Gender Neutral Nursery Tour: Harrison's Room

A few months ago I posted about my plans for Harrison's nursery. I thought I would have it finished shortly after and be able to share photos as I awaited his arrival.

Then I got a cold, a swollen foot, a sore rib, and a few blood clots.

Then I had a c-section a week and a half earlier than planned.

There were a lot of things...and I mean A LOT of things that didn't get done before Harrison arrived. Part of that was because he was early, but mostly it was just life. It is harder with a toddler and sickness and then a sick toddler, but I was reminded that it doesn't really matter if my to-so list is done. Baby boy came just the same, and we all survived despite the mess.

...And I finally got the time and energy to get it completed! The blinds I ordered arrived, I wrapped up some DIY projects, and my husband got everything hung for me. I wanted to make it a bright and beautiful space without spending a fortune, and by recycling and DIYing I was able to save on a lot of could-be expensive pieces. I could not be more pleased with how it turned out. I shared a bit of a teaser on Instagram recently, but now I am excited to finally share the completed room.

(I will share sources where I can, but there are a lot of things that will not be available because they are handmade or recycled/old).

I originally picked this dresser up for our master bedroom, but as soon as I started thinking nursery, I knew it was the perfect fit. My husband found it on a local auction site, and I scored it for $72! It still needs some work on the finish for scratches and dings, but I am still obsessed, and you cannot beat that price. The hamper is from Homegoods, and the shelf brackets are from amazon with boards cut by my dad for shelves. The rug is from Overstock.

The rainbow and macrame pieces were some of my DIY projects, and the elephant was a thrifted purchase from years ago. It was originally a towel rack! The tile letter board was a Marshall's find, and I plan to use it to document his monthly photos.

The giraffes were a gift from my husband years ago because he pays very close attention, and the wooden 'Jesus' carving is from a sweet man at our church (the same one who created the letters for Harrison's name door hanging). He is always gifting the kids and fellow church goers with his handmade pieces, and I thought it was so sweet that he gave us this. When you turn it to the other side it says 'lives'. It is very unique and will always make me think of Chuck.

The framed clover is from my dad. I told the background story here when I shared Henry's nursery, but my dad has always been the absolute best at finding four leaf clover. When we were growing up he was always coming inside with several in each hand and giving them to us kids. I found one that I had saved in an old book and framed it for Henry's room. I had already planned on including one in Harrison's room too, but I kept forgetting to tell my dad I needed one. On a recent visit he walked inside and handed me a couple he had found in the back yard. Little did he know I had a frame ready and waiting for it.

The changing table is not what I had originally envisioned for this space, but I already had it and couldn't justify replacing it. I just switched out the baskets for some that used to be in my entryway, and it fit much better. The hand painted rainbow art above the changing table is another DIY with a frame from Hobby Lobby.

The sign on his door was another handmade item. My dad made the circle backing, and the sweet man from church cut out the letters I drew to fit.

The blinds are from blinds.com, and I am so glad we found them. That window is quite large, and I was having a hard time finding window coverings to fit until I came to blinds.com. They have been great for that west-facing window, and I love the texture and warmth they add to the room. The chair is the one we used in Henry's room, curtains are from Ikea (same as our master bedroom), the wooden table is from Ross, and the lamp is from Target.

This amazing piece was made by my talented aunt. I found one online without a source, sent her a photo, and she delivered in a big way!

The Jenny Lind crib was also Henry's, and that cork basket was a Target clearance find. The framed plant art are my free printables (you can get them here). I was probably most excited to get those up since I had envisioned using them as statement pieces from the start. Those frames are from Target also.

This sheep mobile from Pottery Barn was actually the first thing I bought for the nursery, and I am glad I did.

I realize that a perfectly decorated nursery isn't a necessity. Harrison hasn't slept in that room a single night, and he won't for a long time. It is just something that is important to me. Decorating and creating inviting spaces is sort of my love language. I am thankful to have this completed and to be able to watch him grow up and into this space.


Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Every Birth is Beautiful: Even the Really Hard Ones

(Harrison's birth story) 

It has been a minute since I have posted anything. Really I feel like it has been a while since I have done much of anything. I have been wanting to share Harrison’s birth story and all the craziness surrounding that week, but good intentions only go so far when you are recovering from a cesarean and adjusting to having a toddler and a newborn. I will preface this story by saying we are doing well now. There have been hiccups here and there, but I am blessed with a super helpful husband who has been right there in the thick of things with me for feedings, cleaning, diaper changes, and listening to me whine more than he would probably like. Today was our first day with Daddy back at work, and while I know every day won't be a "good" day, I am so thankful for a smooth transition so far.

On to the story...

Two and a half years ago my c-section with Henry went so smoothly I had decided early in my pregnancy with Harrison that I would have a repeat cesarean this time around. A lot of people would disagree with that decision, but I knew what to expect and my family could be here ahead of time to help with Henry. I had it all planned out. They would arrive a couple of days before I was scheduled to go in for surgery, and I had thought of it all. I would have my sister paint my toenails, I would curl my hair the night before, and I would get up in time to put on some makeup so I felt like my best possible self after surgery. My family would be there to stay with Henry when we had to leave early that morning. They could take him for donuts (his favorite) and then bring him to the hospital in his ‘I’m the big bro’ shirt to meet his baby brother. I had pictures I planned to take in the hospital, and my 3-4 day stay would give me ample time to get them edited.

Then life happened. Other than us having a baby, literally NOTHING went as planned.

It all started a month earlier, after Henry and I made a trip to Arkansas. I came back with my left foot swollen for no apparent reason and the worst cough I have ever had in my life. That horrible cough kept me up at night for weeks and led to me injuring a rib in the middle of the night. It sounds ridiculous, but after two cesareans I am certain that whatever I did to my rib was worse than recovering from either one of those surgeries. I went to my family doctor for the cough and my foot, my OB was aware of it all, and no one was concerned. I was given cough medicine that didn’t work and left to heal on my own…except I didn’t. Just after I started feeling some relief in my rib, Henry got sick. Of course he was wiping snot on my shirt and coughing in my mouth, so I got sick again. Though I didn’t cough nearly as much or as hard this time around, it only took one time to hurt my rib again. I was so frustrated with not being able to sleep because of coughing and rib pain, and I was so tired of waking up every morning with a swollen foot and no one seeming to be concerned. A lot of tears were shed, and I was totally over it.

Fast forward to Monday, April 22, and I was in so much pain my husband stayed home from work to help me out. I was trying to baby my rib and rest as much as possible, but early in the evening I started having pain so bad I couldn’t get a breath. I called my MIL to come over, and shortly after she arrived Nicholas and I headed to the ER. I felt silly going to the emergency room, but I knew I couldn't tolerate the pain all night, much less another week and a half until my scheduled delivery. I was certain they would tell me I had just pulled a muscle (like everyone else kept telling me) and send me home. Boy, was I wrong...

I was so tired of feeling awful and no one giving me answers or acting like I was experiencing anything out of the ordinary. I was just plain cranky about it, so when the nurse practitioner asked if there was anything else going on my response was a sort of snarky, “Well, my foot has been swollen for 4 weeks, and no seems to care.” Thirty minutes later I was having a Doppler on my left leg. Thirty minutes after that I was diagnosed with DVT and waiting for the on-call OB to talk to an OB specializing in high-risk pregnancies to determine if they would be taking the baby that night or the next day.

You could say things escalated pretty quickly.

I immediately started thinking of all the things that were not going to go as I had planned. My family didn’t even know I was there because I thought I would be sent home that night. My toenails weren’t done. My legs weren’t shaved. I had zero makeup on and had come to the ER in lounge shorts and a tee shirt with nothing but my wallet and a limp ponytail. I had told Henry I would ‘be right back’ to keep him from melting down when I left. Oh, and I had four blood clots in my leg. What?!

After a short wait they had decided on a plan. They would place an IVC filter to catch any clots that might break loose and perform a cesarean in the main operating room with me under general anesthesia. I would not be awake, and my husband would not be allowed in the room. My family would be on the road during all of this, and I was just praying it all went smoothly so I could wake up to meet my baby and introduce him to his brother.

Luckily it all went so quickly I didn’t have a ton of time to stress or worry. I was admitted and, by the grace of God, somehow managed to sleep those few hours before doctors and nurses flooded my room in the morning. I went to the ER around 8:00 p.m. on Monday night, and at 10:00 a.m. the next morning they were wheeling me into the operating room. There were so many people present during the surgery, I couldn't count them. There was the doctor who placed the IVC filter, nurses from the main OR, nurses from labor and delivery, my OB, and multiple anesthesiologists, to name a few. I was poked, prodded, rubbed from all directions, but I was so thankful to have my OB there holding my hand through all of the preparation and the first procedure (I was awake for the IVC placement). At 10:46 a.m. Harrison Lee was born, though I don’t remember it, and when I woke up I was in the recovery room with my husband and sweet baby. That was the goal. It was crazy and wild and unexpected and scary, but he was safe and healthy.

After surgery I was finally in a room with my people, and my family arrived soon after. I never went to the labor and delivery floor so the other doctors could monitor the blood clot situation. I had x-rays and CT scans and more blood drawn than I thought I had to give. I was cleared of PE, placed on blood thinner, tested for everything under the sun, and determined to have the cold virus. Because of this, Harrison wasn’t even allowed to go up to the nursery for assessments and labs, and we had labor and delivery nurses with us at all times on a totally different floor. They were the biggest blessings during our stay following surgery, and I am so thankful for Marissa and Amber. (Anyone who will dump your urine bag and clean your bottom all while joking and laughing like an old friend is amazing. These girls were so fun and uplifting, and I will NEVER forget them.)

I still have blood clots and won’t know if they are dissolved until the end of July. My foot is still swollen and no one seems to know why (since a swollen foot apparently isn’t typical with DVT). My rib is still bothering me, but it isn’t as bad as it once was. However, despite everything that has happened since March, I have a healthy baby boy who is getting chunkier by the day. I have had my husband home for four wonderful weeks to help me keep my sanity with a toddler who has struggled with the adjustment. I am beyond thankful for all the doctors and nurses who kept us safe during the whole experience, and mostly I am thankful to God for the pain in my rib. If not for that I would never have gone to the ER and most likely never found the blood clots. It wrecks me to think of what could have happened if they hadn’t been discovered before surgery, but I won’t allow myself to get caught up in that. Things most definitely didn't go as planned, but I am choosing to find the beauty in our story. There may not be a beautiful video of his birth story (like I made for Henry), but my babies are safe, we are finding our groove, and God is good.


Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Healing After Miscarriage

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, miscarriage happens in 10% of all known pregnancies. Chances are you know someone who has experienced a miscarriage. The chances are actually pretty high that you know someone who has experienced more than one. I have been in that 10%...twice. I briefly mentioned my first loss here and here, but I realized I had never shared my full experience of that loss. I know mine is only one story among thousands, but I feel compelled to share. It might just be one story that helps someone get through something you can never prepare yourself for.

After being terrified of pregnancy, birth, and even motherhood for most of my adult life, we decided we were as ready as we could get. We had decided to start trying to conceive, but we weren't super serious about it. We weren't even 100% sure of dates when it was time to leave town for Christmas that year. However, I was late enough that I was pretty sure I knew what a test would say. I wasn't prepared to keep that kind of news from my family, but I also wasn't ready to tell them that early, so I just waited to take a test until we got home. I was a bit clueless and nervous, so I texted my doctor friend (so thankful for you Brit!) and got a pep talk as we got closer to home. I ran inside to take the test and thought I would have time to watch for the results while my husband brought in our luggage. Instead, the digital test flashed four lines and then "pregnant" before I was able to pull up my leggings.

Speechless, I walked into the entryway and waited among the luggage and Christmas loot my husband was unpacking for him to come back inside. I didn't even say anything when he did. I am not sure what my face was saying, but I just held up the test to show him. We hugged and laughed, but it didn't sink in right way. We unpacked and put away our things. He went to his vinyl record haven in the basement to organize the new goodies he got for Christmas, and I stayed upstairs...and cried.

Basically, I panicked.

I wasn't sad, but overwhelmed would be an understatement. I sat there on our bed, and the weight of bringing a child into this world flooded over me. I prayed for him or her. I prayed for guidance so I might have some small clue of what to do as we started this journey. I prayed that I might lead this baby to love Jesus and be a shining light in an often dark and scary world. And I cried a little more.

After my initial panic, we started allowing it to sink in and become a part of things. We quickly started to talk about what things would be like with a baby. Everything shifts to include this little person you have never met, and you are suddenly building your life and all your future plans around them. Though you can never truly imagine what it is like (especially when it is your first), it was easy for us to pretend and talk and dream about our growing family. I called the doctor and eagerly scheduled my first appointment, and we went about life with a bit more excitement...until one Sunday just a week or so later when I noticed the faintest traces of blood.

I told myself it was fine. I googled things online. I texted Brittney, and I tried not to freak out. Then I started feeling slight cramps. I tried to convince myself it was in my head. I tried to make myself believe that it was just normal discomfort, but I think in my heart I knew all along that something wasn't right.

The next morning I called and left a message with my OB and headed to work. It wasn't long before the pain got worse, the bleeding was getting heavier, and I knew the answer to any questions I might have had previously. I was frustrated that I hadn't heard back from the OB's nurse. I was panicked because I didn't know what to do, and I didn't want to text my husband at work to ruin his day. When I really felt like I knew for certain I called him and headed home to wait for him to make the commute home. The cramps were more intense than any I had ever experienced in my almost 29 years. I tried laying on the couch, but the pain kept me in the restroom. I don't even know how long it all lasted, but it was intense. I couldn't stop crying thinking about the reality of what was happening. I was still mad at the doctor's office, and I was broken thinking about my poor husband. I was angry that I didn't know why it was happening...and then it was over. There was nothing left to do but lay on the couch and wait for him to get home.

I will never-ever-for-as-long-as-I-live forget him walking through the front door in silence and joining me on the couch. It was so heavy and foreign to him, and we both just cried. There wasn't much else to do. Crying is mostly what I did for the next few days. I stayed home from work, but most of it is a blur, except for me crying uncontrollably. I had lab work done to confirm what I already knew and took myself out to eat where I distinctly remember watching a pregnant waitress walk by me what seemed like 473 times. I remember thinking bitter thoughts over my fancy macaroni and cheese, and then I headed home to cry some more. I would tell myself I was going to be okay and get it together, but the tears still came. I don't remember how long this went on...three? four days maybe?

Then one day I woke up, and I really was okay. Don't get me wrong. I wasn't "over it", but I knew I would be okay. The world had, in fact, not ended while I grieved, and I knew I had to pick myself up. I did not and will not ever forget that experience. It has had a deep impact on who I am today, how I experienced my pregnancy with Henry after that, and how I have been able to connect with other women going through similar experiences. When I was able to talk to a friend who had experienced her own loss a few years before, I felt so much better. There is a lot to be said for solidarity, community, and sisterhood. It is a unique experience that I couldn't connect over with my mom, husband, or single friends, and that is why I share this here today. I don't know if it will help anyone or if anyone will even read it, but if you are here and have been down that road...you will be okay. While you will always remember and long for the baby you never met, the sadness will not always consume your whole world. You might be a little resentful of pregnancy announcements and baby shower invites, and you may be scared to try again. But let me tell you now, you can overcome. Try not to let anger control you. Remember it is not your pregnant friend's fault that you experienced this loss, but also give yourself some grace and time. Talk to friends, and pray to God. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.

...and oftentimes there is even a rainbow.


Tuesday, April 2, 2019

It's okay not to hustle hard

I have debated sharing some version of this so many times. I have had this conversation with myself in my head over and over. I have worried my feelings might be misconstrued, but I just keep getting hit with this same idea. I couldn't let it go any longer.

I don't want to be a mom boss...

And that's totally okay.

You see, I think it is 100% A-okay to be a boss lady and hustle and set goals and achieve great things in your business. These things can be huge blessings to your family and to others, and that is a great thing! We have so many great products, resources, organizations, and ministries thanks to women who are driven to achieve big goals outside the home. We need these ladies!

However, I think it is also okay if your ambition lies in other places, like working part-time to provide income for your family but also trying to balance time with your kids. It is okay if your goal is to stay home and educate your children while creating a warm and inviting space for your family and others. It is okay if you just want to stay home and soak up every single moment with your little people because you can, and you know how fleeting your time is with them.

In a world full of "boss lady" t-shirts and "hustle hard" mugs, I am here to tell you: it is okay to choose a different route.

This is such a hard topic because the last thing I want is for it to seem like I disapprove of the choice to be a "mom boss". The reason I bring it up at all is because for a while I was feeling pretty down about the whole thing. I felt like maybe I was missing out on something because I didn't have that. It is easy to see the glamorous side of things when you think about how good it feels to accomplish goals. Validation is a great feeling. It is empowering to make that sale, finish that project, crush that goal, and cash the check. I totally get it. But I also know just how much hard work that all takes, and right now I am flat-out not willing to put the time and energy to get there.

I tried to build a small business after Henry was born, and it was going pretty well. I wrote a bit about it here, but what it boils down to is that a business takes a lot of time that I am not willing to spend away from my guys. Sure, I get a little crabby occasionally and need a little space some days, but most often I just want to be home with my people redecorating rooms and planning projects for our home and family. I love the idea of owning a business, designing a website, publishing material, learning, marketing...you get the idea. But what I love more is spending weekends going for donuts and groceries or maybe a trip to the zoo. I love the idea of being a successful business person, but I know myself. I know I am not at a point in my life where I am ready to commit the time and energy it takes to do it...and I am okay with that. For now I will expel that energy on being the one to make the doctor's appointments, sports pickups, and all the other things. I want to be that person, and I am realizing that there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, despite the rhetoric I hear daily from much of the outside world.

Once I realized it wasn't because I couldn't do it but because I was making the choice not to, everything became so much easier. It isn't because I am incapable. It is because I am unwilling at this stage in my life. It isn't that I can't ever do those things, but I am choosing not to do them now. I see how quickly these two years with Henry have gone by, and I can't even wrap my mind around it. I don't want to miss any more moments trying to get ahead in a business venture. Those opportunities and ideas, though different, will be there when my children aren't so close. I may get run down, stretched thin, and all touched out some days, but I love my current position here at home.

I admire the ladies who are able to run businesses, juggle family and work, ask for help, and make big things happen. I can't imagine trying to balance all those things! I also realize that having the opportunity to stay home is an enormous blessing. I know not everyone is able to do so, and that is not lost on me. I am beyond grateful to be able to be right here for each and every moment so far.

Besides...I'm still the mom and the boss at my job. It works for me.


Gender Neutral Nursery Tour: Harrison's Room

A few months ago I posted about my plans for Harrison's nursery. I thought I would have it finished shortly after and be able to share p...