Friday, September 20, 2013

the mommy wars

Lately I have been noticing a trend in how mothers treat other mothers. Sometimes it's supportive, sometimes it's encouraging, but sometimes there's an underlying tone of "I'm better than you and my choices that I make for my children are better than the choices you make for yours." While I truly don't think that's what's really in the hearts of all moms, I really think it's our insecurity that breeds this kind of behavior that even I am guilty of.

There are SO many ways to do things as a parent. There is organic and non-organic food, breastmilk vs formula, circumcision vs non-circumcision, cosleeping vs non-cosleeping, vaccinating vs. non vaccinating, cloth diapers and disposable diapers, babyled weaning vs purees, natural birth vs induced and planned vaginal births or c-sections, spanking vs non spanking, sleep training etc etc... I mean the list is ENDLESS. Who can really keep up with all that? What are we trying to prove by being pushy and giving non-solicited advice to other moms? Who are we to assume that because we do or do not do something, that we are somehow a better mother or love our child more than that mom does? We do not know a mothers story or reasoning behind her choices and it is not up to us to judge. Period.

I don't know about you... but everyday I feel like I'm just trying to keep my head above the water. Everyday, I feel like I'm not doing something correctly, that I could be doing something better. OH and not only do I feel that way, but there are other moms who remind me that I'm not good enough (accidentally I assume) and I could be making better choices for my son. I'm sure I have (accidentally) made other moms feel that way in the past. I have been berated for choosing to circumcise my son, not co-sleeping, choosing to use purees instead of doing baby-led weaning, letting my child cry, being pro-spanking... The reality is that we (my husband and I) do what we feel is the best thing for our son and for us as a family, as I know the rest of you do.

There have been so many articles circulating the internet lately about non-vaccinated children spreading the "highest # of measles cases in the last 17 years." while I don't agree, the articles posting up on my minifeed INFURIATED me due to the ignorance and misinformation of the article. (I'm not sparking a vaccine debate here- it's just part of the story). But, because it made me so mad that someone would doubt that because I don't vaccinate my child that I am somehow loving my child less and not doing the best I can and doing what we feel as a family is the best thing for us... I passive-agressively posted a couple of articles basically counter-arguing that article, with information on the other side. I'm all about being educated on both sides of an issue and spent LONG hours researching whether to vaccinate my child or not. So to read ignorant things like that coming from a non-reliable news source made me MAD and I reacted. But here's the thing... I shouldn't have. I acted in that moment the same way that I hate being treated. Saying- "you think this, but here's what I think and this is better." hear me say this louder: I am so sorry. I owe an apology to everyone who read that and thought... "ugh... I can't believe she's acting that way." or whatever you thought, if you thought it. I am no better than anyone and the way I do things is no better than the next mother. I have not been able to get it off my mind. so if I upset you and you were mad at me... please forgive me. I am so sorry.

I want to celebrate your victories with you, encourage you through the hard times, and enjoy the proud moments of motherhood. There will be many things that we will regret and wish that we could do over once our children are grown... But the only thing I can hope for is that my babies know I loved them fiercely and did the best I knew how. They will probably never thank us for putting them in cloth diapers, but I bet they will thank us for teaching them what it means to be a person of character and value. They will probably never thank us for breast feeding or formula feeding, but they will thank us for teaching them what grace and forgiveness are. Those are the kinds of things I want to choose. That's what I want to invest my time and my heart in.

I want to tell all the moms to be, new moms, seasoned moms... we are all in this together. We should be empowering each other and helping one another be the best mom that we can be, the mom that we want to be... not the mom that pinterest, internet moms groups, and the moms we "think" we should be. Being a mother is the HARDEST thing I have ever done. Everyday we have to choose our child over ourselves, we have to sustain another human being, and we are responsible for a LIFE! Add to that all the other choices we have to make as parents, it's no wonder we are exhausted and burnt out. It's no wonder we compare! There are all these "supermoms" out there... moms who have it all together, who are able to cook a delicious meal every single night, whose babies have slept through the night from night one, their kids don't cry, their hubby is completely satisfied, their house is all picked up, they have time to do everything they want to do, she has no stretch marks, her relationship with the Lord is perfect... man oh man, that sounds great! It's not reality.

Let me be very honest here: I rarely cook. My house is a disaster 95% of the time. My child is a horrible sleeper. Sometimes I spend too much time doing other things when I should be paying more attention to my child. Sometimes I want  NEED a break. sometimes I don't want to make a decision. sometimes my husband gets my leftovers because I am too exhausted from being a mom during the day. my relationship with the Lord isn't great 90% of the time. I have stretch marks. sometimes I operate out of fear. sometimes being a mother and a wife feels like too much of a responsibility and I'm frustrated as to why the Lord thought I was capable to do so. I am a HOT MESS 99% of the time.

...but you know what... my child adores me. regardless of what kind of diapers he wears that day or whether or not his food is made at home or in a pouch. he loves me eventhough he sleeps in a different room. he loves me. all the time he loves me.

Of course there is such thing as abuse (which is never okay) and evidence based choices, and we should make big decisions based on doing our research. We do owe that to our children when we are making choices on their behalf. Do your research, educate yourself, then decide how to proceed. people will feel differently about certain choices than you do, than I do. We all make choices based on our specific family needs, our beliefs, and what we know. You can't fault anyone for that.

But here's the truth we all need to dwell in... YOU are a great mom. I am a great mom. WE are great moms. Our child was chosen specifically for us and us for them. No one else could do the job better. Whatever choice you choose, it is enough. Whether you nurse or use formula, you are a good mom. Whether you cook organically or not for your family, you are a good mom. Whether you use cloth or disposable diapers, you are a good mom. Whether you homeschool or send your kids to school, you are a good mom. Whatever your choice. Hear this- you are GREAT. you are doing what you feel is best for your child and for that, I applaud and admire you, mama. 

THANK YOU to the moms who encourage me to be the woman, wife, mother, and friend that I desire to be. Thank you to the moms who love me where I'm at.

as moms- let's be a united front. let's love each other like crazy and stand by each other when the baby hasn't stopped screaming all day and it's 6:00 and dinner hasn't crossed your mind. let's show each other grace and mercy, just as Jesus does with us.

Monday, April 29, 2013

auntie love.

today marks one year since the birth of one of the most loved babies in the world, my niece Ella.

I remember the day so clearly... Jordan and I were both in Atlanta doing some last minute wedding stuff & Jenn was 2 days past her due date. We thought the baby was going to come early and it didn't, so we were on high alert and were praying that she would wait until we got back. The night/early morning before the day we were leaving to come home, we get a call around 3:30am from my sister, Shannon, saying that Jennifer was in heavy labor with Ella and that she would be making her entrance soon. I remember being devastated. not that she was being born, but that I was missing it. Jennifer and I had become so close in the months of her pregnancy. I felt so connected to her and this baby and wanted nothing more in the world than to be present for her birth. I cried and cried and cried. I felt such loss... I can't explain it. I was so mad at the Lord I couldn't even see straight. I simply couldn't understand. I woke Jordan up and we never went back to sleep because we were waiting on the phone call to tell us she had made it into the world. We got a call around 4:30 that she had come. Shannon brought the phone in the room so I could hear her cry and I just lost it. I felt like we were missing out. Looking back, it seems so selfish because while I was so happy that she was born healthy and that Jenn was healthy... I just can't describe the feeling I had other than I was distraught. Jordan will tell you it was one of the worst memories he has with me :) I cried all day long and couldn't wait to get back to see her and be with my sister.

the next day, we drove all the way from Atlanta to DFW and went straight to their house. I got to hold her for the first time and I just remember feeling so overwhelmed with her. She was so tiny and so pretty. a lot of babies aren't pretty when they're first born... let's be honest. but not her- she was BEAUTIFUL. I wasn't pregnant then, but I knew that I wouldn't love another baby like that until my own. I was absolutely crazy about her from day one. Jenn and I have talked about this several times, but my nephew Jackson, of course I know he loves me... but I wasn't in his life until he was four. He had to learn who I was. Ella will ALWAYS know. She will always have known me and I will have always known her.

My sister, Jenn, had an amazing, redemptive, natural, intervention free, peaceful VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarean) with Ella. she was brought into the world with grace and strength. I had never been more proud of my sister and never been happier for a family to have a new baby. I knew how hard they had prayed and how long they had waited for her. she was truly a gift. not only to her parents, but to our whole family.

looking back... I am now thankful that the Lord knew better than for me to be present at Ella's birth because I was able to have no pre-conceived notions for my own (although I had a natural, intervention free, peaceful birth with the same midwives in the same bed as Jenn, haha!) but my pregnancy and my birth were completely different and they were all mine, just as Jenn's were all hers. although I love that we share the commonalities that we do. my sister is a rock star... no one parents with as much gentleness and quiet strength as my sister.

and now a little letter to Ella-

ella girl-

what a year it has been as your aunt. I'm crying while writing this because I know right now that you don't quite understand just yet how much you are adored and loved. from your first day of life to this present day at one year old, you have blessed my life tremendously. I know you know you have wonderful parents... you are so in love with your papa and your bubba and your sweet mama- well, you never want to leave her side! you love her so much. your whole family is absolutely crazy about you. we have watched you go from sleepy newborn, to sitting up on your own, to laughing, army crawling, full on crawling, and now you are almost walking... you are a girl on the move. you are adventurous and you are hysterical. you are so proud of yourself now that you're walking! you are loving to eat right now... we came to visit you at your house this weekend and you were talking up a storm. you love your baby cousin and you want to touch him constantly. he is going to love you so much when he's older. I know you will take good care of him and make sure he doesn't date just ANY girl :) I love watching you love your big brother, Jax. he is so crazy about you. although I was an aunt before you were born, it was different because I had to adopt that role immediately and learn Jax as a four year old and hadn't gotten to watch him grow up. I felt robbed in that sense because I love him so much and missed out on so many things. but you... ella girl, you made me an aunt. what a joy and a privilege to love you and to watch you grow up. the Lord has shown me and taught me so much about being a mom, by watching your mom mother you and her allowing me to be involved with you as your aunt. I will always look at you with as much love and as much adoration as I did the first time I met you. you and me... we have a sweet relationship, little lady.

I want you to know that you have the best parents in the world. They love you, they prayed so long and hard for you, and they are faithful when it comes to parenting you. You are part of an amazing heritage... one that started way back and continues today, on both sides of your family. I want you to know that I will always be here for you. I'm not your mom and that is NOT a role I can or will fill for you and I will ALWAYS agree and side with your mom, however, I will always have an ear to listen and hopefully some wisdom to give. I am the luckiest aunt in the world to be yours. (by the way- you have a few aunts who feel the same way!) and I cannot fathom life without you. I pray you always know your worth and value are in Jesus... that it is God given and something no one can ever take away from you. You have joy and beauty to offer this world and already at one year old, you give it so easily.

thank you for loving me as much as your sweet one year old heart can. thank you for the privilege of being "aunt mal." I love you forever and I am so grateful for the blessing of calling you my niece.

all my love
aunt mal

the first time I held her. bliss!

Monday, April 1, 2013

two months & Easter

What a wonderful last few weeks we have had!

On March 24th (which just so happens to be my amazing Poppy's birthday), we celebrated Jaden's 2nd month of life. What a month it was. We had visits from one of my best friends, Hayley, and also my mom and little sister came. We had our 8 week appt with our midwife and our doctor and we have a very healthy, strong, little man. He also had his lip and tongue ties both removed and while the recovery was no fun, our nursing relationship is SO much better, as is his gas and tummy problems. who knew? During this month, Jaden's colic was at it's peak. I was pretty much at my limit and felt like I was going to have a meltdown. He screamed non stop for two. whole. days. Even though he's had a pretty severe case of colic, he had never screamed and cried like that. His pedi couldn't see him and so I did what I had to do... took him to the ER. When I got there, I was sobbing. He hadn't stopped crying for a good 3-4 hours at that point and I just felt so defeated and helpless. The people at Cook's Children's (if you live in DFW, they are AMAZING) took such good care of Jaden (and of his emotional mama). They even took the baby and let me have a few minutes of quiet. Jaden was diagnosed with GERD which in laymen's terms is reflux. I knew he had tummy issues and had planned to talk to his ped at the 2 month visit, but I didn't realize that's what was causing all the discomfort. They gave me a prescription for reflux meds, which I really hate to put him on so young, but I was so desperate. I had tried EVERYTHING up to this point.

fast forward to Thursday, which is the day he was 8 weeks old, and ya'll... I had a different baby. He was smiling and cooing and laughing. Jordan and I went to lunch and Jaden was sitting in his car seat and all of a sudden he just started smiling at us. I started to cry because before that, my baby did NOT smile, nor did I ever feel like he was happy. He was an angel at lunch and usually going out is a nightmare for us.

I still have a different baby. I am SO thankful. I cannot tell you how much I cried and prayed these last 2 months. I cannot tell you how many times I thought, "I cannot do this another day." I cannot tell you how often the enemy whispered to me how bad I was failing and how helpless I felt. I cannot tell you how much I dreaded when Jordan left for work because it meant I was all alone with the baby all day. But now, I cannot tell you how relieved, appreciative, and happy I am to finally have a peaceful, content baby. It was by far the hardest 2 months of mine and Jordan's lives and we found a patience within ourselves that we didn't have before this. We learned to love and take care of our baby despite his constant screaming and not being able to enjoy him right away. Now, we are enjoying him so much more as he seems to be enjoying all of us. Not to mention the poor thing finally feels better! no tummy pains, no gas, no nothing. complete healing!

We have also moved out of our apartment. I say GOOD. FREAKING. RIDDANCE. I hated that place and I hated our upstairs neighbor and her demon dog so I am thankful to be out. We are back in with Jordan's parents for now as we're in the process of buying a house. *fingers crossed* We said we would never move back in with either of our parents, but for now we are thankful for the opportunity so we can save money, have some extra hands with Jaden, and to have the extra space. Plus we spend all of our time here anyway, so now we don't have an extra drive :)

Easter was yesterday. I am going to be honest, I get irritated at Easter because of all the people who are not Christian's the other 363 days out of the year (the other day being Christmas) coming out of the woodwork with random scriptures and all this religious hoopla and it makes me mad. It's like some people only remember what Jesus did for them 1 or 2 days out of the year and the rest of the year they don't acknowledge Him whatsoever or blame Him for things going wrong in the world and saying, "Where were you God when _________ happened?" I said to my family yesterday, I wonder how many ways people will try and write "He is Risen" all over Facebook. Let me tell you, it was a lot. But, then I felt convicted for being so cynical about it and not giving the day much thought because I was so annoyed by all the pretenders. I am grateful every single day for what Jesus did, but how does it play in my life? Sure, I pray, I thank God, I read scripture, I try and live my life according to the Bible, but what else?? Is that really it? We watched the new series "the Bible" on TV the last few weeks and last night's was the Easter episode. I have loved watching this every week because it really makes you wonder about things that you may not have thought of before. It tells the Bible as a story and I love that. Each week it has evoked some sort of emotion out of me. This week's had me feeling small and convicted. To watch Jesus go through what He went through, to have been beaten, to have walked with a cross on his back, to be accused, spit on, screamed at, whipped, nails piercing his body... for me? For me who sometimes tries to justify my sins? even the small ones? For us who continually turn our backs to Him when we hear Him and do not obey? For the people who are trying to get Him out of schools? For those people who only appreciate Him 1 or 2 days out of the year? For the people who HATE him? For the overzealous, haughty, biggots who think they can do no wrong? It just wrecked me. I cried as I watched and I couldn't stop thinking about it. How humbled I was... how grateful I was, and how I still couldn't quite wrap my mind around why someone who do that for me. How can you watch that and still not believe? How can you not be affected by the fact that someone else who was blameless died on your behalf? I just don't get it. Then I watched Mary as her son was being crucified and my heart just felt so much pain for her. I cannot imagine now having a son, watching him die, watching people mock his name, beating him... how helpless and afraid she must have felt. I immediately went upstairs and got Jaden, held him and cried. Ya'll, that was her baby boy. Dying for all the people who hated him. Can you imagine that feeling? Ugh. I know this is a lot, but I just was so astounded by watching the crucifixion yesterday. I think I need to rewatch it over and over again to keep it in the forefront of my mind. After yesterday, I am more appreciative than I have ever been and more humbled than I have ever been.

Okay- now on a much lighter note- here are Jaden's 2 month stats!

Happy Two Months, little one. my love for you grows everyday!

  • LOTS of smiling, laughing, and cooing
  • loves watching Baby Einstein DVD's
  • can keep his head up for extended periods of time
  • still loves bathtime
  • weighing 12 lbs, 14 oz
  • 23.5 inches long!

This picture was at lunch the first time he really smiled at us!

here too... I seriously cried.

My mom was here! We LOVE her and love when she comes to town.

Happy two months, little love. You are joy.

Easter! How handsome is my boy?

Jaden and his 2 cousins, Ella & Jax. I am in love!!

our sweet family.

be blessed everyone. 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

one month.

Our little love was one month new on February 24th. I'm a little late posting this, but One Month is still worthy of celebrating!

One Month Stats:

  • 11 lbs, 5 oz.
  • 22 inches long
  • He loves to watch ceiling fans, snuggle with mommy, take long car rides, bath time, and his paci.
  • He is the most cuddly baby in the world, always down for snuggle time.
  • Officially out of newborn clothes and in 0-3 months, as well as a couple 3-6 months
  • He went on his first road trip (sort of) to Marble Falls, TX
  • He had RSV and is fully recovered (praise the Lord!)
  • He started to smile and it melts mommy and daddy's hearts everytime.

Happy One Month to you, my little darling. You have stolen your parents hearts as well as everyone around you. What joy you bring to our lives daily. We love loving you.

Monday, February 18, 2013


I'm writing this while I should be doing the piles of laundry that tend to accumulate quickly these days, while trying to clean the apartment... these times are few and far between these days as I struggle to balance my time between taking care of my baby and taking care of my home. Jaden isn't the best sleeper yet, so I have to make the most of my downtime. I have "thank you" cards to write, forms to submit, laundry to be folded, closets/drawers to be organized, etc etc... but I just want to write today.

I will admit that being a mom to a newborn is hard. A lot harder than I thought. We have struggled in the last few weeks with Jaden having what we are convinced is colic. He cries for long hours of the day... sometimes up to 3-4 hours non stop. He is fussy when he is awake and really the only time he is peaceful is when he sleeps. The times he has been peaceful and awake have been few and far between. So it has been really hard to enjoy our sweet baby during those times. We have tried everything to help him... I have changed my diet (since I'm nursing), we have used several different remedies, but our little love has an irritable tummy and it has been hard on everyone, especially him. It hurts us to see him in pain, but as we have made certain changes, it has gotten a little better. Night times are the hardest, as he is usually inconsolable from 7pm-11pm, give or take a couple hours.

However, Jaden had a great weekend on Friday and Saturday... he got his weekly chiropractic adjusment (they do not "crack" his bones- don't freak out) to help with his tummy and we could tell that he felt tons better. We had planned on going on a date on Sunday so we could celebrate Valentine's Day and Jordan's parents were going to keep Jaden. They got over here and he was hysterical... I felt horrible leaving. I cried when we left, feeling guilty for leaving him when he was so upset. But my husband and I desperately needed some time together, just the 2 of us. Jordan's mom was so sweet in sending me pictures and texts to let me know everything was fine and that he had calmed down. About an hour and a half into the date, I got a little misty eyed and realized I missed the little guy. I'm so used to him being close to me all the time, either holding him, wearing him, or him just asleep in the next room.

As hard as this has been, I am in love with my child. I missed him so much while we were gone. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Jordan and am so so glad that we got some time to ourselves... I don't know why it was so strange to me that I missed Jaden. All I have wanted the last few days is a break- 5-10 minutes where he didn't need me or where he wasn't crying... 45 minutes to go to the grocery store without worrying he would have a melt down... 2 hours where I could nap and there wasn't so much to be done around the house. A night out with my husband...

A lot of people gave me negative experiences about having a newborn and I didn't listen to them and I'm glad I didn't. My heart in writing this isn't negative or full of regret. I just want to be real about what we're experiencing. For instance, NO ONE told me how hard nursing would be. That we might have issues latching, or about engorgement and how painful it is, what a time commitment it can be, how it feels like you're just being used as a milk hose at all hours of the day. I never even thought this would be a challenge and so far it has been tough. (but we are finally seeing the light! yay!) A lot of people told me babies sleep all the time... no one told me what to do if your baby doesn't sleep. ever. I didn't realize how overwhelmed I would feel the day my mom left to go back to Atlanta and I was left taking care of the baby on my own. I didn't know how my emotions and hormones would be in OVERDRIVE and I would be crying all the time over nothing... seriously nothing.

I have been learning so much these last 3.5 weeks. I have learned that it's okay to ask for help. I have wanted to do everything on my own and not ask for anything or feel like I was burdening anyone. But really, I didn't want to admit or believe that I couldn't do everything. I was/am prideful about asking for help. I have tried to be supermom/woman for the last few weeks and it finally sunk in that I just can't do everything... and that it's okay and that people want to help. I have learned patience like I never knew before. Waking up 4 times in the middle of the night to a crying baby when you JUST got back into deep sleep, being in the middle of showering and having to get out because your baby is waking up and crying... I have learned that it's not about me when I have to choose to feed, carry, change, rock, soothe my baby when I have needs that aren't met, the house is a disaster, and I need a shower and to make myself lunch.

BUT... I have also learned love like I have never known before. To be the only one that can soothe my baby... to sing to him and hear his cries and breathing change and calm, to be the one that he wants all the time, to be the one sustaining my baby's nutrition, to have such a protectiveness over someone, to hear his precious coo's and noises when he's full and content and falling asleep. I am in love with this kid. I am in love with being a mother. I am more in love with my husband watching him be a father. I have learned more about God as my Father now that I am a parent myself. I have learned that Jaden is having to learn right along with me, that we are in this together.

It has been a challenge, yes. But these days are short and few. The sweet moments always outweigh the hard ones. Today- Jaden woke up at 8am and it is now 1pm and he's been asleep for 30 min after crying all morning. I have laundry all over the place, I haven't showered, and our grocery list is forever long. I finally asked for help and my mother in law is coming over in a bit so that I can go. I feel peaceful in knowing that I don't have to be perfect... that I am not failing at being a mother. Although I want to be, it's impossible and I can't hold myself to that standard. I am in a couple online mom's group with a bunch of "supermoms" and I have held myself to that standard because I thought everyone else did too... but now I believe that all of us moms (and dads) truly do the best that we can everyday. We take it minute by minute.

Please don't misunderstand that I am being negative by any means... I am being honest about my experience. I would not trade it for the world. I am exhausted, but my heart is FULL FULL FULL. I love everything about being a mama. I know that the Lord has called me to be Jaden's mommy and so He will equip me.

**PS. I have a lot of friends who are getting ready to be new mama's. One thing I would recommend (especially if you have a history of anxiety or depression and are worried about post-partum depression) is getting your placenta encapsulated. It was the best thing I did thus far. I know it sounds gross and weird, but if you can find someone around you that does it, the benefits are unreal. It helps to balance out your crazy hormones (seriously, I noticed a HUGE difference when I forgot to take it), helps aid in milk production, gives you a little more energy... and the nutrients that are in it are amazing. They just dehydrate it and crush it into powder and put it in a capsule. If you deliver at a hospital, you'll have to be really adamant about them giving it to you. Ya'll may think I'm super crazy, but it worked for me and a lot of other mama's and I highly recommend it to everyone!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

announcing our PERFECT son.

Jaden Christopher Gray was born on January 24th, 2013 at 11:15 am. He weighed 9 lbs, 10 oz. and was 20 inches long. He is absolute perfection. We are IN LOVE with our son and the joy that he has brought to our life already is immeasurable.

Several people have asked me to blog my birth story with Jaden. Honestly at first I was hesitant to share it, because it is a very intimate, private thing, but also it was intense. So intense that I wasn't even sure what to make of it afterwards. It was AMAZING in every sense of the word, but intense. However, no words will ever retell accurately the intimacy and the peace that was so present in the room with Jordan and I when he was born and the presence of the Lord that was so heavy and the calmness that our midwives exuded. SO, I will share, but my words will never be able to do justice how perfect the entire day was.

The Tuesday before (the 22nd), I went to my midwife appointment to find out that I was 4cm dilated. Excited, but knowing it meant NOTHING, because I had been 3cm for 3 weeks prior, I tried to get it off my mind. The Wednesday before, (the 23rd), I went about my normal daily routine. I ran errands, tried to do a lot of walking, went to the chiropractor, made dinner, went to the gym and walked a mile, and then laid down for bed with Jordan. I didn't feel anything different... I'd been having intense, consistent Braxton Hicks for weeks, but nothing had changed.

I woke up about 2:15 am with really painful cramping and back aches and tried to just go back to sleep. I realized after having 3 of them that they were consistent and about 2 min apart. I decided to get up and walk around and see if they went away... they increased. Everyone always tells you that you will JUST KNOW when you're in labor, that it will feel different. I just knew. I went to the living room and read one of the books we were given at our shower called, "On the Night You Were Born," which for me, was super emotional because I knew I was about to meet my son. So then I got in the bath to see if there were any changes as well, they continued to get longer, stronger, and closer together... the things my midwife told me to look out for. I started to get REALLY excited.

We called my midwife, Ann, and she wanted us to be able to labor at home as much as possible, as did we. We lived about 40 min away from the birth center, so we wanted to get there before labor got too intense because I didn't want to be laboring heavily in the car. We labored at home until about 4:15 am and then packed our bags and headed to the birth center. My contractions continued to increase. **I had solely back labor. I would not wish this on my worst enemy! Incredibly painful, especially to sit.** Once we got to the birth center, one of our midwives, Michele, checked my cervix and I was at 6cm! A little over half way there. I immediately got into the tub, as the water helped alleviate some of the pressure on my back. In between contractions I felt incredibly relaxed and excited... I was laughing and talking through my contractions. We had worship music playing and Jordan never left my side. Michele and Ally (one of the assistants) did not stay in the room with us and let us have our time to labor together. An hour or so later, Michele checked me again and I was at 8cm. already in transition! I knew I had to be in transition because I was super nauseous and even threw up. I was in serious pain at this point, but was still able to maintain some sort of relaxation in between. I didn't want to tire myself out before even pushing. Michele called Ann to head up to the birth center, as we knew that the baby would be here soon.

Somewhere between an hour or 2 later, I was still at 8cm and Ann discovered I had a cervical lip. So she decided to break my water to move things along a little bit. (PS- weirdest feeling ever when your water breaks!) Once my water was broken, my contractions got increasingly more intense, as I expected they would. I started to get extremely hot in the water, so I got out and bounced on the birthing ball while Jordan applied counter pressure to my lower back (bless his heart- he did this for about 6 hours). It was starting to get harder and harder to stay ahead of my contractions and breathe through them. (I was more like yelling through them- definitely LOUD noises coming from my mouth that I have never made before). Truly, if an epidural had been available for me, I would have probably had to be convinced not to have one. It was pain like I had never known. I even remember saying, "I'm never having anymore children!"

My desire was to have a water birth... so once I started feeling the need to push, I got back in the water to try and push him out. I couldn't push effectively because I felt I couldn't bear down enough. Also, with the cervical lip, it made pushing much more difficult and made things take a little bit longer. Ann suggested I get out and push on the bed so that with each contraction she could push the lip over. That was even more painful, but it was necessary. I instinctively just had to push.. I didn't even have to try at first, I just couldn't NOT push. But the frustrating thing about pushing was that I'd take 2 steps forward and then 1 step backwards.

For me, pushing was the most intense, exhilarating, and most powerful thing about the entire process. Pushing took 1 hour and 45 minutes. There were times that I didn't think I could push any harder or any longer. My back labor was still so intense in between contractions that it was more of a relief to push through them than it was to try and relax in between them. I remember feeling like I wasn't making any progress and Jordan said, "BABY, I CAN SEE HIS HEAD." They handed me a mirror to look and sure enough, a teeny piece of his little head was showing. I touched his head and it was like... I gotta get this baby out. Each little push brought the head further and further down. I could feel him moving down and the pressure and pain was unreal in my back. But I just knew I could do it. I kept saying, "Lord, please help me." and my midwife was speaking prayers and blessings over us the entire time. Amidst all the messiness of labor and birth, there was such a peace that was evident. I started to feel confident that I was going to get this baby boy out and soon. I remember asking Ann how much longer and she said about 45 minutes... HA. that seemed like FOREVER.

At one point, we started to make some serious progress. I was pushing like I had never pushed before and when I thought I couldn't go anymore, I kept on pushing. PS- The "Ring of Fire" is every bit of what everyone says it is ;) I could see and feel his head still... I had my husband encouraging me, my midwives cheering me on and finally, his head came out. Right before this, the midwives explained to us that when his head came out that we were going to have what was called a "silent birth." They were going to be quiet and Jordan and I were to speak so that our voices were the first that he heard when he came into the world. After his head came out, all I remember is wanting to continue to push and I kid you not, I pushed harder than I ever have in my life and probably made noises that didn't even seem human and his body SHOT out.

Jordan was the first person to touch and hold the baby. Daddy got to catch his baby boy :) He picked him up and immediately placed him on my chest for skin to skin contact. We sat there and cried and kissed and just took in every moment of what had just happened. I was in shock because I was no longer in pain AT ALL. It was euphoric, truly... We laid there for a few minutes in absolute awe of our son and each other and the Lord.

He laid on my chest for about 10 minutes or so and then they told me I had to deliver my placenta and was going to have to push again. Haha, you can imagine how that thought did not thrill me. a couple of pushes and out it came. They placed it in a bowl next to me so that Jaden could have all of his cord blood pumped back into his body before we cut it. I believe it was 30 min or so after birth that his cord was cut. Jordan got to do the honors. Another proud daddy moment! We also weighed him and thought he would probably be in the high 8's... you cannot imagine our faces when Jordan weighed him and he was 9 lbs, 10 oz! We were shocked!

Afterwards, Jaden and I were both a mess, and we got to take an herbal bath together. It smelled SO good and it was so relaxing for both of us. He laid in there and we got to wash his hair and just take in the sight of him... I have never fell in love with someone so quickly. It was the first time I recognized how much he looked like his daddy (I am so glad! my hubs is HOT). Perfect bonding experience for us as a family.

The first couple hours after I was super lightheaded. I had lost a lot of blood- Ann said most women lose about 250cc of blood and I had lost 800cc. THANKFULLY, our awesome midwives ordered IHOP for us and we were able to eat and I felt better. Other than that, I felt amazing. We were able to leave the birth center 3 hours after Jaden was born and head back to our own house. I had a ton of energy on the way home and was on a "birth high" for a couple of hours before crashing.

My entire experience was amazing. I am so thankful that the Lord was faithful about our birth. I thought I would be disappointed not getting to birth in the water, but I wouldn't change anything. It was a desire of my heart to have an intervention free birth... There were a lot of people who told me horror stories about the pain and who said I was too little to have this baby naturally, but I trusted my body and I trusted the Lord. I KNEW I could do it. It was truly a supernatural experience. I have never felt so accomplished... to bring a little person into the world. I have never known the Lord's faithfulness like I do now and I have a confidence in myself and my body that I never had before.

I could not have done it without my husband. He was my constant support and my team mate. He was just as much a part of the labor and birth process as I was. I have never felt more connected to someone as I did to him while we were laboring and delivering our son. Such a sweet moment for husbands and wives to share. He deserves the highest reward for all that he did for me during my pregnancy and during our birth experience.

My midwives were incredible... Ann, Michele, & Ally. angels... all 3 of them.

We are so blessed as parents. I would love to do this all over again, the exact same way, but not for another couple of years :) If you're pregnant or thinking about getting pregnant and would like to know more about natural birth and the experience as a whole, I'd love to talk to anyone about it. Regardless of how your labor/birth end up, it's the end result that matters- a healthy baby and mommy. I am blessed to have been able to have the birth I wanted and to have a healthy, perfect baby boy.

some snapshots our AMAZING birth photographer took:

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

moving on to a new year.

WOW. What a year. Like many of you, I posted on Facebook on New Years Day a very short list of some of the major events that have happened in 2012. Jordan and I both feel like 2011 & 2012 have been years of intense happenings and transitions for us. We met in January of 2011, so we have come to see a lot of old things pass and a lot of new things begin. This year though, was by far the most eventful, the most challenging, and the most fruitful. I'm going to try and recap some of those major moments :)

Some happenings this year:

  • I spent the first few months planning our wedding... which was entirely too stressful to do from TX. I had an awesome wedding planner and very involved mother who made it a little easier, thank God!
  • I traveled with my girl friends down to Destin, FL for my bachelorette trip! It was probably one of the most fun weekends of my life. to have most of my best friends in one place was just heaven. I'll never forget it.
  • we welcomed one of my most beloved treasures into the world... our niece, Ella Juliet, was born. I was devastated because we were in GA when she was born... our flight left the day after. I couldn't stand the fact that I missed the birth and her first few moments of life. But to hold her the second we got back to Texas... I can't explain it. She was then and still is what I call my "angel baby." I'm enamored by her and she has me whipped already!
  • The stress of wedding planning was out of control as it was literally happening in a few days & you know that phrase "when it rains it pours..." yes. My dad and stepmom were expecting twins, but they weren't to be born until the end of July/beginning of August. the week of our wedding, my stepmom's water broke with one of the twins, causing both of them to have to be delivered. We were all worried for the twins because they were born at 29 weeks, and also worried about my stepmom. My dad had a lot on his plate preparing to give his oldest away, his wife had just undergone major surgery and was recovering, and he had 2 twin babies in the NICU. But WHAT LITTLE BLESSINGS those babies are. Jefferson Pierce "JP" & Maura Cate were born and I don't think any of us knew just how much they would bring into our lives right from the start. The two sweetest, most cuddly babies in the world who are constantly smiling and laughing. They brought out a side of my daddy that I hadn't seen in a long time. They softened a part of my heart as well. They are perfect and we are blessed.
  • late Spring also brought the wedding, obviously! Hands down the most perfect day in the whole world. All the days being Jordan's wife have been the most joy-filled, happiest, most humbling days of my life thus far. Marriage is a far greater blessing than I ever imagined it could be. It was a day full of love, the Lord's blessings, dancing, eating, and drinking with friends and family, and HUMIDITY. but it could not have been a better day
  • we found out that we were expecting a third member of our family. What a day that was. so many emotions were felt. I think of that time as a time of extreme highs and lows. I was terrified. Obviously all of that has changed. I am nearing the end of my pregnancy and getting ready to welcome this boy into my arms with his daddy by my side. We are not afraid, but antsy to see his sweet face.
  • JP & Jennifer (Jordan's brother and his wife) moved with Jackson & Ella to a new city about 3 hours away. They were gone when we came back from our honeymoon. It was a really hard transition for all of us to get used to them being gone & for them to settle into a new place. They are our closest friends in TX & so we missed them so much. it was a little bit of a shock to ease into a season of them being gone.
  • The remaining half of the year has been really focused on the pregnancy & balancing this with being newlyweds. I was very sick until about 15 weeks. (I found out when I was 2 weeks along... that's a long time to be sick!). I have been put on bed rest I think 4 times now due to some pregnancy complications. My roles as a wife have been challenged and I had to put my pride aside and let Jordan help me out in some of my "wifely duties," things that I love doing for my husband but that he would instead be selfless enough to do for us. Jordan is such a trooper... such a good man. He has been patient and servant hearted through these last several months. I have been super unpleasant some days and he has never gotten frustrated with me. So I have been focusing on keeping myself and this baby healthy, making it to the end of the pregnancy, and soaking up all my one-on-one time with my husband.
  • due to bed rest, I had to quit my job. It was a really hard and drastic transition. We went from having 2 incomes to only having 1. with a baby on the way? that was extremely difficult. thankfully- my hubby is the king of budgeting and saving money (I am the exact opposite), so we have made it work and found ourselves extremely blessed. we have not gone without and neither has the baby. It was also hard to spend what I wasn't contributing. I had some pride issues with that that I had to get over. not to mention, I was absolutely bored to death at home and haven't NOT worked since I was about 13.
  • we went home to Atlanta for Thanksgiving. I had my first baby shower with all my besties and some people I hadn't seen in a long time. It was perfect and we were showered with so much encouragement, gifts, and just LIFE from the people who are so dear to my heart. We also went to Savannah to see my family for Thanksgiving, which is always fun. 
  • At the end of the year, we have kind of taken it easy. We've been rearranging our apartment to make room for baby things. I have been on a cleaning FRENZY trying to make sure the apartment is spotless all the time. (my oh my how marriage has changed things for this previously DISASTER of a woman). we have started our house hunting in order to be able to move sometime in the early spring. I had my first Christmas away from home! We spent Christmas in TX this year with Jordan's family. It was awesome... very different from how my family does things, but still wonderful and joyful. New Years Eve we had a very low key night with my in-law's house church... my husband was prayed over and blessed by the men in the church. All of the women laid hands on me and my belly and prayed blessings over our family, our birth, and our baby. We left 2012 behind with a lot of peace in our hearts.

This was a year of challenges, no doubt. So many blessings, but challenges as well. I am thankful for every single bit.

2013 is going to be an amazing year, we just know it. We're welcoming our baby boy, *fingers crossed* hopefully buying our first house, we have lots of trips planned for friends who are getting married, and lots of precious people from GA are coming to visit us! I think it is a year of new beginnings, new challenges, new seasons... it has already proven to be that way and we are only 9 days in.

I'm not one to make "resolutions," partially because I haven't been disciplined enough to keep them in the past and partially because I thought they were pointless and I would probably fail anyway. BUT, this year I made individual "Goals." There are things I want to strive for... they aren't like "lose weight" and "take x amount of trips" or "only going out dancing 2x a week." hahaha. like they used to be. those things just aren't relevant to my life anymore. So I made a list of goals and also dreams for 2013. more about the kind of woman I want to be. I really want to be intentional this year. Part of that has to do with my roles of being a wife and a mom, I feel more responsibility and more motivation.

As we slowly come into this new year, I am already overwhelmed with how many changes will be taking place. I have prayed for months for the Lord to prepare me as a mother. I can read as many books as I want, ask my midwife as many questions as I want, get as much advice from other mother's as I want... but in the end, this is our baby. I feel kind of like I did when I was leaving for YWAM- How do you prepare for something for which you have no idea what to expect?

I feel like the Lord has been tugging away at my pride during this pregnancy. I have never felt more physically unattractive in my life- but I just move on and refuse to dwell on it or let it steal the joy from my day. I won't have many days to feel all that lovely right after the baby is born anyway. But I know with a newborn in my arms, all of the rest will fade into the background. Pregnancy prepares moms to step out of the spotlight and put their children's needs above their own. I wrestle with selfishness... as a wife, a mom, a friend, a daughter... sometimes it's hard not to think about what is most beneficial for you. Being pregnant has been anything but a time of being able to be selfish. There are a lot of days where I eat too much ice cream (so kill me) or don't drink enough water or where I haven't taken care of my body like I should. There are days I get impatient and angry and irritated that this whole process takes so daggum long. There are my really selfish days where I wanted him to come out WAY too early because I wanted to meet him so badly, even though he would have been highly premature.

My midwife really puts things in perspective for me when I see her... she is a very spirit-led, very sensitive, prayer warrior, & Godly woman and I absolutely love her. At my appt yesterday, as I was feeling really uncomfortable and huge, and so ready to just be done with this whole thing... she gently reminds me what a blessing it is to have made it this far in my pregnancy. how some women try forever to be in my position and either can't have babies or can't carry them to term. women who would be thankful... instead, I was complaining. she reminds me how the longer the baby is in there, the more developed and ready they are to enter this world. she reminds me that I will miss this time of being pregnant. that when I get into my fleshly mindset that I should take time to really get myself back into my spirit mindset. you know what? she prayed grace over me, followed by "in Jesus's name." I left feeling more at peace than I have in a long time and so thankful that she is the woman delivering my baby. She was absolutely right in everything that she said... so today I woke up with a new reassurance and a new peace. even though my back pain is through the roofs this morning ;)

so after all that and going off on a tangent, I say all this to reiterate that I think 2013 is going to be an amazing year. I am so excited for what's to come. I am hopeful, I am grateful, and we are blessed.

Happy New Year, dear friends. 

**I leave you with pictures from this past year**

Jordan's first NYC trip! we had SO much fun. one of our most memorable times together!

Our friends threw us a "stock the bar" engagement party. we had to buy a bar cart just to hold it all!

My Bachelorette Trip to FL with 10 of my girlfriends. SO MUCH FUN.

Baby Ella, my niece, the first time I met her.

One of our bff's from YWAM, Chello, came to visit us from ENGLAND a couple weeks before our wedding!

My baby siblings, JP & Maura Cate were born... precious little muffins.

Our first dance as husband and wife :)

how handsome is my husband? so hot.

my MOH's: carly, holly, and lark

Our reception was AMAZING. Danced all night!!

Honeymooners! We went to Jamaica and had a BLAST.

we went to New Orleans right after our wedding for another friend's wedding. I'd never been! Thats the Mississippi River

yay!! (progression of the bump on earlier posts)

so excited to meet our little man (excuse horrible photo)

My besties and my mama threw me an amazing baby shower back around Thanksgiving! so blessed.

Christmas fun with the Gray's! up top: my sister Jenn, my MIL Janet, & my sister Shannon

our first married Christmas tree! Tree was too tall for the picture.

maternity shots! taken by Tara at sugarmaple photography