Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Every Birth is Beautiful: Henry's Birth Story

As long as I was old enough to think about the idea of giving birth I was terrified of it. Even when it was years away, the thought of it scared me beyond words. Maybe it was because I watched way too much A Baby Story one summer while babysitting my younger cousins. Maybe it was all of the horror stories women seemed to enjoy sharing. (Dear Mothers, this is not a good idea when there is a soon-to-be first time mama around. It just isn't nice, so save the story about how you labored for 3 years only to have an emergency cesarean that nearly killed you for another day, m'kay?). During my teenage years I can remember it seemed like every mother I knew was trying to one-up the next with how awful their delivery was. The stories of having tears and stitches in your nether region or having your stomach sliced open and your insides rearranged had me 100% terrified.

Despite my long-time fear of the entire pregnancy/birth/motherhood experience, we decided that we were ready to start a family after about 5.5 years of marriage. If you have been following along you may know that I experienced a miscarriage before becoming pregnant with Henry, so it was only by the grace of God that I was able to enjoy it and not be overcome with fear. I had a relatively easy pregnancy with no morning sickness (feel free to hate me). The most annoying thing I experienced was reflux for the entire first trimester. I felt like I had a huge lump in my throat for about three months, and I had very little appetite. I finally overcame that for the most part, and then came the heartburn. God bless the person who invented Tums because I felt like I could breath fire for the last few months. Other than having to repeat the glucose test, everything went pretty well. I felt good, slept great, and stayed pretty active throughout my pregnancy.

Everything was going pretty smoothly...until my 38 week checkup when my OB informed me that the baby was breech. What?!? I had worried about a lot of things in those 9 months, but that was the one thing I had forgotten to worry about. It was confirmed with an ultrasound, and I was given information on trying to turn the baby. After doing some research and talking to friends who had been there, we decided not to try and turn him and go ahead with a scheduled cesarean. By this point I was so totally and completely freaked out about a vaginal delivery that I was kind of okay with it. Don't get me wrong, I was still terrified, but no more so than any other form of delivery. I have never had any other surgery, but a planned incision on my stomach sounded better than the seemingly unavoidable tear in other places. Sign me up.

Even after we had decided to go with the cesarean, it still didn't really sink in. Even when my OB looked at her wall calendar and said, "How about November 7th?" it still didn't seem real. It was when the lady from labor and delivery called me one morning and said, "We've got you down for 9:00 a.m. on Monday, November 7th. You will need to be there at 6:00 a.m. to fill out paperwork before your procedure."

I hung up the phone and fell apart. I mean APART. Like nine months pregnant, scared out of my wits and home alone when they call to tell me exactly what time they are going to cut another human being out of my body kind of apart. To her it was a procedure, but to me it was the most life-changing experience of my almost 30 years. I finally got myself together and called my family to tell them they could mark their calendars. I still worried. I stressed. I sort of mourned the loss of the "us" time we had become so accustomed to. I was a little crazy, but my sweet husband just kept rubbing vitamin E cream on my growing belly and telling me everything was going to be great.
Fast forward to November 7th, and we are headed to the hospital. I had big plans of taking video footage as much as possible, so I busied myself filming with my cell phone as we pulled up to the hospital. We answered some questions, filled out some paperwork, and headed back so I could be prepped. After I was all set in my hospital gown it was surprisingly laid back. We joked and laughed. The nurse complimented my nail polish. We texted my family updates and laughed at the fact that I couldn't feel any of the contractions the machine said I was having. I was nervous and excited and had no idea just how amazing that day would be.

Once we walked to the operating room they started administering meds. My husband was able to join us again, and everything was all set...except that I could still feel the doctor pinching my stomach. After everything was finally numb, the whole procedure went really quickly. It was just minutes until they told my husband to get out his camera if he wanted to take photos or video. The next thing I knew the nurse is holding my baby, I am crying, and everything is a blur. It wasn't half as terrifying as I had anticipated, and it was over before I had time to worry about it. They took great care of me, and before long I was cleaned up and able to join my boys in the recovery room.

The time in the recovery room may have been for the nurses to monitor me after major surgery, but to me it was built-in bonding time as a family of three. Henry fed for the first time while we tried to soak it all in and process our little miracle. I am so incredibly thankful for that time, just the three of us. I am actually so grateful for my entire stay. The nurses were great, my family was there, and I got all the turkey sandwiches (the thing I wanted my entire pregnancy but wasn't supposed to have) I could eat. I actually enjoyed our time there. I had such a positive experience from start to finish, and that is not lost on me. I know that is not the case for everyone.

No matter how you gave birth, you are an amazing mama warrior. You grew a person inside of you, nurtured them with your body, and did what was necessary and best to bring them safely into this world. (Mom's of multiples get bonus points for doing it again because those hormones bottoming out afterwards are no joke.) I am so thankful for my own personal experience, and I hope that me sharing it here has helped someone who may be facing doubt and uncertainty. It is scary, and there is no amount of preparation that can remedy that. The unknown can be terrifying, but trust me when I say your own story will be beautiful and wonderful in its own way. It will all be worth it when you hold that sweet baby, and your love will only grow from that day forward.

Get ready, mama. It is a crazy, scary, beautiful ride. 


Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Ten Best Photo Tips for Moms

Often when I am writing a post and need photos of Henry to drive home the point I end up crying over baby photos. My mission is usually sidetracked as I go through months of photos and remember how chubby he once was. Since he started walking pretty early it is sometimes hard for me to remember a time when he wasn't running all over the place. Those baby thighs! I recently went through his monthly photos from the first year, and my goodness, the changes are almost more than a mama's heart can take.

While they may cause me to get emotional and my husband to think I am crazy for sitting at my computer crying over chubby baby legs, I am so incredibly thankful to have these memories. My favorite albums are those labeled 'around the house'. Those are the ones filled with photos of Henry reading his books, lining his toy animals on the coffee table, and getting into things he shouldn't. They are the moments of un-staged real life that I love and have been able to capture because my Canon is sitting on the table.

Because I know I am not the only mama who loves precious photos of her baby, I have put together an e-book of my ten best tips for photographing your kiddos, and I am so excited to finally share it with you! We are all trying to capture those fleeting moments, and it can be frustrating when you feel like your photos aren't capturing the feeling of the moment. Sure it helps to have training and fancy equipment, but most of us don't have that. You don't have to have a "nice" camera. Don't even know what a DSLR is? No problem. These tips are applicable with expensive camera bodies, basic kit lenses, or phone cameras. Just subscribe below to have this helpful e-book with ten tips, thorough explanations, and example photos sent right to your inbox. We all want great photos of our kids, so what are you waiting for?


Now you just have to get your camera ready and keep your eyes open for some great photo ops. I would love to hear your feedback, so don't hesitate to email or comment with your favorite tip or even the awesome photos you have taken using what you learned. Now start clicking!


Master Bathroom: Painted Floor Project

When we moved into our current home there was a long list of things I wanted to change. The disgusting carpet, the yellow-beige walls, and t...