Monday, June 18, 2018

Every Birth is Beautiful: Mason's Birth Story

When I started thinking about Henry's birth story I realized that my experience would only resonate with a small handful of people. It was then I decided I had to find more women with different experiences to share their stories. I know some people think an all natural vaginal birth is the "real" way, some are team epidural, and there are people like me who are totally happy with a scheduled cesarean. No matter how your baby is brought into the world, you are still mama. Even if it doesn't go as planned, and you aren't modeling a beautiful floral robe and a smile three hours after delivery, you are no less a mama because every birth is beautiful.

For today's post I asked a dear friend to share her experience of an unplanned, non-emergency cesarean. I have known Jessica since freshman orientation at college where she thought I was a snob until I complimented the purple tips on her hair. We had no way of predicting the relationship that would follow, but I am so glad we found each other. She helped me survive college, and we have stayed in touch over many miles through marriage, babies, loss, and new beginnings. Thanks so much for sharing your story, Jessica.


I am a planner - in my personal life and in my profession. Ironically, my pregnancy was not planned. And most people would also be shocked to know that there was not a detailed birth plan. We were winging it. The only things we really wanted were for the baby to come on his own terms (no induction) and no hard feelings if I chose to get an epidural, even though I really wanted to have at least a few minutes of the “natural” birth experience.

My entire pregnancy was blissful - no morning sickness, swelling, weird cravings, or strong aversions. Even my friends commented that “pregnant Jessica” was much happier than my typical neurotic self. I agreed. The only bump (pun intended) in our journey was a diagnosis of gestational diabetes. It devastated me. I was ashamed and frustrated, and for the first time in my life, I experienced “mom guilt.” I am lucky that it turned out to be a very mild issue that did not affect me or my baby.

Our stubborn little boy missed his due date, which causes concern for women with a GD diagnosis. At our final appointment, I was barely at a one and the baby was still very high. The doctor scheduled us to come back in three days to induce labor. Blah. Induction? Seriously? We plan and God laughs, right? Fine. I was disappointed, but at the same time I was just so excited to finally meet my son.

Fast forward about 14 hours. Around midnight, I woke up from a four hour nap and my water broke almost immediately. We were in shock but immediately loaded the car and made our five minute trek to the hospital. The next several hours were a blur - mostly because there just wasn’t much happening. Family and friends showed up. Time passed. And I became impatient. Was it really supposed to take this long?! I mean, my water broke, so what was the holdup? I honestly don’t remember when the first contractions started, but I knew something wasn’t quite right because all of the pain was in my back.

The “back labor” got progressively worse and was like nothing I ever imagined. What the heck?! The childbirth class didn’t mention anything about back labor. I followed all of the teacher’s instructions about best practices for getting the baby in an ideal position leading up to our due date. I told you, I’m a planner. Come to find out, our little guy was hiding out in my pelvis and he was laying at an angle. They brought in a specialized nurse to help my get the baby to turn. Did I mention that my son is stubborn? Yea, he didn’t budge.

At some point, I realized it was dark outside again. My family left to get dinner (curse them!), and I was on my third round of nurses and doctors. I was still only at a four, and yet, my brain still couldn’t conceptualize that anything might be wrong. The back pain was excruciating, and after 17 hours, I was mentally and physically exhausted. I finally decided to get the epidural. It was a breeze, and I was completely at peace with the decision. Finally something had gone my way!

Just over an hour later, the doctor came back in and said the last words I expected hear - “I think we need to do a Cesarean.” Um, excuse me? I guess I assumed that because the conception and pregnancy had been so easy that my body was just made to produce and birth babies. Not once did I considered that I would have problems with a “normal” delivery and would need a C-section. I was wrong.

“I just don’t like that he’s been in there so long after your water broke and you have had so little progress,” the doctor said. Wait, what? Something’s wrong? This isn’t supposed to happen. I did everything I was supposed to do. I did all the stretches and laid in the funny positions the nurse recommended. I talked to all of my friends about their experiences and advice. I bought all of the supplies to take care of my body AFTER a vaginal delivery.  I was patient and let my water broke on its own. I dealt with the excruciating back pain and had even made it through the epidural. And now I wasn’t progressing? My body had betrayed me. Thankfully, the doctor reassured me that it was not an emergency situation but that he wanted to act now before it became one.

Fast forward to the operating room. Laying on the table, unable to see what was happening, and shaking uncontrollably...or so I thought. Thanks, epidural. I am forever thankful for the sweet anesthesiologist who kept me calm and talked me through the entire operation. I was delirious from exhaustion but doing my best to stay present. I feel like I like laid on the operating table forever.

Despite my mental state, I recall the doctor instructing the nurses to begin the procedure. There was a lot of pressure but no real pain. The feeling of the doctor pulling out my baby is one I’ll never forget and yet I’ll never be able to accurately explain it to someone else. I vividly remember the nurses proclaiming “Happy Birthday” and the moment when the doctor FINALLY held up my baby so I could see my little boy’s face for the first time. I didn’t realize I had been holding my breath until I heard him cry for the first time. He had a great set of lungs!

After 18 hours, I desperately needed to snuggle my baby but couldn’t until the doctor finished taking care of me. Curse my body...again. While my doctor worked, he said something else that I’ll never forget because it helped me cope. He said, “You have an almost eight pound baby and a six inch pelvis. He wasn’t coming out easy, and not without the cord around his neck.” Hmmm…..maybe my body didn’t betray me after all?

I still occasionally struggle with the decision to have a cesarean. I may always wonder how things may have been different if I had insisted that the doctor wait a little while longer. I may always be a little envious of my friends who had “normal” births, whether they were quick and easy or long and difficult. I may always wonder if I missed something by not being able to have the special experience of a more natural birth. Is it because I had a vision in my head of a vaginal birth, and it didn’t pan out? Or do some women (like me) have a preconceived notion that they need a vaginal birth to be more connected to the overall experience? Either way, what it all comes down to is I have a very healthy, beautiful little boy who loves his mama and whose mama is completely and irrationally in love with him.


Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Five Favorite Things: Vol. II

It has been a few minutes (or months, who is counting?) since I shared with you some of my favorite things. I love learning about new products from real life people because there is a ton of stuff out there, and sometimes I just don't know what to choose. These are the things that I love so much it would be mean not to share them with you. I use these products almost daily, so take it from a real life person and check them out. 

*Some of the links below may be affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and purchase.

1. Aveeno Baby Continuous Protection Sensitive Lotion

This has been our go-to sunscreen for Henry from the start. Early on he had some skin issues, so we started using the Aveeno wash and shampoo as well as the lotion that was gifted to us. It had a milder scent, and it helped with the little bumps he was getting. It was no question which brand I was going to turn to when I was buying sunscreen last Summer. Henry has really fair skin, and I want to protect him from burns. It isn't too thick, and it spreads nicely without being runny. It doesn't have a strong scent, and most importantly, it has protected his sweet, baby skin. We have sat at t-ball games, played in the yard, been to the pool, and spent hours at the zoo with no problems at all. I have no reason to try anything else! Aveeno has won me over.

2. Gold Task Lamp - Pillowfort

We recently upgraded to a king sized bed (you can see the full reveal here), and this resulted in a master bedroom makeover. I knew from the start that I wanted gold task lighting for our nightstands, but I didn't want to spend a fortune. Most of the lamps I liked started at $50 each, but then I found this one in the children's room decor at Target. I love that it is a touch lamp so I am not feeling around for a switch to turn it on. They are simple and sleek, perfectly functional, and they didn't break the bank at only $24.99 each. That is a win in my book!

3. Bosphorus Faded Star Petal Emblem Rug from

Y'all, it is shameful how many hours I spent looking for the right rug for our master bedroom. Sure, there are lots of gorgeous options out there, but I was trying not to spend a fortune on this piece. Rugs can get really expensive really fast. It seems like such a huge commitment to a girl who changes her mind every other week, but I fell in love with this one as soon as I saw it. Not only that, but there were tons of size options, it was an easy transaction, and shipping was fast and easy to track. I love the rug in our space, and Henry loves to squish his toes in it (we have no carpet in our house, so it is a treat for his little feet). The navy with pink and mustard accents goes perfectly with my navy accent wall, but they have a more neutral option as well. Not only that, but they have a million other rugs to choose from and great discounts. I got mine on sale, and they are having a great sale now as well. If you are in the market for a new rug for any space, I would recommend giving a try.

4. Small letter board

These are obviously nothing new, but I can't stop loving them. I have a larger board that I used for Henry's monthly photos during his first year, and I am so glad I did. I have this small one on my living room shelf, but it will soon be moving to my kitchen. I used it for Henry's birthday party as a small welcome sign, and I have already envisioned (with teary eyes) first day of school pictures with tiny hands holding this board. There are just no limits to the witty sayings or ways you can use letter boards!

5. DSLR ( Digital Single Lens Reflex) Camera

I have had a dslr for a long time now. I am actually on my third one, and I cannot recommend them enough. I am only on my third one because I have upgraded, and my others are still in working condition...even the very basic one I bought over ten years ago! There are several different price points and different brands, but even with minimal knowledge you can really improve your photos. The biggest advantage I find with a DSLR is you have way more control and will miss fewer shots due to the speed alone. I will admit I have the Canon 5D Mark ii with the 24-70mm lens, but even with a basic dslr and kit lens you can get more dynamic shots. I plan to put together a post with basic info, some comparisons, and recommendations based on my experience sometime soon. Until then I have linked a good basic kit here. I would recommend you determine your needs and do some research before purchasing, but this camera should do the trick for those who are only able to point and shoot but also want to learn a little more control over camera settings. Then be sure and sign up for my email list to get my ten best photo tips e-book sent right to your inbox. They are basic tips that anyone can use whether using a point and shoot, phone camera, or a fancy dslr.

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This is not a sponsored post, but these are just things that I use and love. If you have any questions, please sent them my way. I would love to hear if you try any of these products!


Thursday, June 7, 2018

Plant artwork: Free Printables

Changing and rearranging my home is a hobby of mine...maybe even an obsession. Before I can get one room finished, I am planning a makeover or project in another room. One thing I don't want to spend big bucks on is artwork, so I am always coming up with creative ways to DIY my own. Another current obsession is house plants, and I recently found a way to combine the two. I am so excited to share this with you today!

If you are human and breathe air you may have noticed the trend of cactus and succulent artwork. There are lots of options on Etsy, and I see them in almost every store. I knew this was something I would love, but I also knew I may decide to replace it with a photo of Henry next week. Then I realized I have cool plants and the camera and editing knowledge to make my own. Duh! I simply moved everything from around my plants on my entryway table, snapped a few pics, cleaned up the background, amped up the brightness and contrast, and tada! I love them! I also knew I couldn't keep these all to myself, so I am including the links to download these beauties.

To download the JPG files, click the corresponding name in either color or black and white.

Snake Plant: Color | Black and White

Cactus: Color | Black and White

Prayer Plant: Color | Black and White 

I hope you love these as much as I do. I think they look great with the white photo mats, and I think they could go just about anywhere. I had originally planned to use them in my kitchen, and they ended up in the master bedroom. They may make their way back to the kitchen, or I can also visualize them in the bathroom makeover I have in my mind. I would LOVE to see how you use them, so be sure to email or tag me on Instagram @goodandlovely.


Monday, June 4, 2018

Before and After: Master Bedroom

*This post does include some affiliate links. 

It has been a minute since I shared a before and after, but things have been pretty crazy around here. Someone has been sick off and on for a month, there has been a lot of traveling, and I am just generally a hot mess. But I finally got the chance a few weekends ago to get our master bedroom put back together. It is important to me to have a relaxing space to retreat to after a busy day of toddler chasing, and this space is just what I envisioned.

We are very lucky to have larger than average bedrooms. I love that about our home, but when we first looked at the house before buying, this room was lacking to say the least. It was cramped, dark, dusty, and had dog hair in ever nook and cranny. I am once again thankful for the ability to see past all that. This is what it looked like when we did the walk-through of the house before purchasing.


The first thing we did when we moved in 2015 was rip up the indoor-outdoor carpet. I scraped wallpaper border for days and then wiped all the dust bunnies off the dark brown walls. I painted this room the same Benjamin Moore Winter Snow as the rest of the house, and we laid the new hardwood flooring with the help of my dad.  This made a HUGE difference.

This is how bad the walls much patching!

This is what the room looked like for a couple of years.  We had a much smaller full bed, and I now see why everyone was so shocked that we slept on that tiny thing. Henry even slept with us for a while! That is why when we needed a new mattress we moved up to a king bed. I loved it immediately, but I was back to square one on the room. We had no bed for our new mattress, the existing rug looked tiny next to the larger bed, and I knew I needed to make some changes. The first thing I did before I even had a plan was paint a navy accent wall. It was totally done on a whim, but I love it! It took me a while to get my head around a plan, but after moving the gray striped curtains into the kitchen and replacing them with white Ikea curtains, a new rug, the awesome bed my dad made, a new white quilt, and spending an afternoon moving some things around, I am finally happy with it. It is so much more spacious and bright!

Sources: Lamps: Target | Bed: My dad made it, but I have linked a similar one here | Macrame wall hanging: I made it using this yarn | Macrame Plant Hanger: I made it using this cord in natural | Nightstands: IKEA | Gray Throw: WalMart | Ledge shelf: Handmade by my dad. I have linked a similar one here.

It is so nice to walk into this room at the end of the day. The rest of my house is usually a total disaster, but I try to keep this room picked up as much as possible. It is my new favorite room with all the light coming through those white curtains, the soft rug, and the crisp, white bedding. And if you look closely you can spot the next freebie coming to the blog. Stay tuned!


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...