Friday, April 18, 2014

:: EAT or HOME Set Giveaway ::

    Just popping in real quick to share a giveaway with y'all! I've been pretty quiet around here the past few weeks, but I just want you to know how grateful I am for your continued support both of this little blog and my shop. To say a big "Thank You!," I'm giving away your choice of a custom designed HOME or EAT set! Your set will be totally customized to suit your decor!

To enter, just use the Rafflecopter form below! It's so simple!! Winner will be announced next Saturday!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Pause Mode

     Oh, my poor neglected blog. I always seem to underestimate life with a newborn. Everything about it is time consuming! And when I'm running low on time, unfortunately, this little corner seems to be the first place I put on pause. That, and dishes. Oh, and laundry too.

     We're busy, but blessed. Our newest, squishiest, snuggle bug has made her way into our hearts and we marvel everyday at the gift of our two beautiful girls. Life with two is a little bit crazy, but not overwhelming. This adjustment has been much easier than it was with Adelyn. And we are so grateful for that.

     As we get back into the swing of things, I will do my best to pop in here as much as I can! I have so much I always want to share, but nursing and naptimes and nursing and diaper changes and nursing and baby snuggles and did I mention nursing (?!?) seems to take precedence these days. Until I have a few more quiet moments to write, I'll share some more photos from Elsie's first few days with y'all.

I'll start with my personal favorite...I'm in LOVE with this picture of Elsie and her Daddy!

Elsie's Meme and Poppy are in love with her too!

And of course, her mama is just smitten! She is just the sweetest baby girl!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Elsie Norah Faye :: a birth story

     Our sweet Elsie is 8 days old today, and she's just about as precious as they come. After all of the craziness from the past month - bedrest, pre-term labor {twice!}, sickness - we are so thankful that she's finally here!! I've never wanted to be one of those pregnant ladies who wished my pregnancy away, but honestly, by the time last week rolled around, I was SO ready for her to arrive! The end of my pregnancy was pretty far from anything I would've hoped for and heading into delivery via induction two weeks early and while I was still so sick certainly made me a bit discouraged, but God was so gracious and gave us an incredibly smooth and beautiful birth experience in the midst of it all.

     At my appointment on Monday morning, my doctor told me that it was probably time to get this baby out. She had been concerned for over a week, and due to my persistent illness, my pre-existing heart condition, and the size of my baby, she decided we needed to induce as soon as we could. Induction is not anything I would have planned or hoped for as the risk for difficult labors and c-sections increases greatly; however, I trust my doctor and really sensed she was right in knowing that Elsie needed to be delivered soon. She wanted to induce later that afternoon, but we decided I could wait until the next day, which would give me and my family time to make arrangements for everything. They told me I would definitely be induced on Tuesday, but had no idea when that would be. I was to receive a phone call sometime Tuesday morning letting me know when I could come in for the induction. I assumed it would be later in the day since I was getting on the schedule pretty last minute. Imagine my surprise when I received a 6 am wake-up call on Tuesday saying they were ready for us!

     I woke Smitty up and we both started getting all of our final things together. I called my family and told them it was "go time!" so they could get on the road as well. We woke Adelyn up and headed into the hospital - our last trip as a family of three.

{sorry for the terrible iPhone photo quality!}
  We arrived at the hospital a little after 8 am and were immediately checked in and taken upstairs to a birthing suite. We got settled in and then...waited. My doctor wanted to break my water herself so we waited on her to arrive. In the meantime, we got the word out to our friends and family that it was baby havin' day! We said good-bye to Adelyn as a dear friend came to pick her up for the day and the reality of how different our lives would be in just a few short hours began to set in. A mix of emotions coursed through me. I was so eager to meet this little girl who had been growing inside of me, making her presence known through my bruised rib {she was a kicker!} and her constant hiccups for so long. But at the same time, I was anxious about being induced and frustrated that I still didn't feel 100%. Remember how I talked about wanting to have a voice in this birth experience? The combination of an induction mixed with the fact that I was still coughing my brains out made me feel like I didn't even have the option of control in the process. I had spent 9 months praying for a better birth experience than my last, planning how I would respond in each situation, and yet here I was in a completely unpredictable situation. God sure has a way of teaching me to trust His plan over mine though!

     Around 11:30 am, my doctor came into my room and broke my water. We also met with the anesthesiologist, explaining the terrible experience I had with my first delivery. She was confident that, should I choose to get an epidural, it wouldn't happen again.  I am so thankful that we were all able to have that meeting and get on the same page. After the anesthesiologist left, my doctor told me to sit on the birthing ball for the next hour to see if contractions would pick up and if I would begin to progress at all.

     I had come into the hospital at 4.5 cm dilated and about 75% effaced thanks to my pre-term labor 3 weeks prior. At 12:30, my nurse came in to recheck me and my contractions had just begun to become consistent at about 3 minutes apart. They weren't painful, I just felt them as pressure more than anything. We decided to wait on the cervical check and give me a little more time to move things along.

     At 1 pm, I asked if I could walk the halls. I wasn't in "active labor" yet, but really felt like if I could get up and move around, my body would progress fairly quickly. {I have a history of progressing quickly once my water is broken!} My parents had just arrived and while the boys went to grab a quick lunch, my mom and I started walking the halls. It was close to 1:30. I made two laps around our floor - one with my mom and one with Smit - and by the end of the 2nd lap, my contractions were coming about 2 minutes apart and I was having to slow down and breathe through each one. As soon as we got back into the room, I had three contractions back to back that were 1 minute apart and suddenly super intense. I told my family to call the nurse to recheck me. She came in right away {close to 2 pm} and let me know that I was at a 6. I was definitely in active labor and progressing now!!

    A few more super intense contractions later and I was asked if I wanted my epidural. During my pregnancy, Smitty and I had often discussed what my birth plan for this baby would be. Initially, I had planned to attempt to have a med-free delivery, but given how sick I still was and how difficult it was for me to breathe due to the cough and congestion plus the added variable of an induction, I decided it probably would be best for me to get an epidural at this point. I have no shame or guilt over this decision - I truly believe it was the best decision for both me and my baby and in the end, I am so thankful that I got it! {Bonus - it actually worked this time!}

     The anesthesiologists came in sometime around 2:30 and placed the epidural and I was finally able to relax a bit. See before epidural...

...and after epidural!

      I got rechecked me as soon as the epidural kicked in, and and I was at 8 cm. Within 25 minutes, I was starting to feel a ton of pressure and suddenly began to shake uncontrollably with each contraction. Although the contractions weren't necessarily painful, the pressure was obvious and I knew that it was probably about time to start pushing. I called the nurse who said I was at 10 cm and that she would call the doctor right away. This was such a huge difference from my first delivery where I did all of my pushing with the nurses and the doctor just came in at the last minute to literally catch the baby. We now know that this was a huge reason for much of my tearing the first time around. I had no one to advocate for me or my body, no one who knew my history, no one to speak up when things didn't go as planned. My doctor was sure to not let that happen this time, and what a tremendous answer to prayer she was!

     She entered the room around 3 pm and with a calm, but assertive sense about her and began to walk me through the entire pushing process. I began pushing a little before 3:15 pm. She immediately noticed that the baby was facing sideways instead of being face down so we spent the first 20-25 minutes just trying to turn the baby. She busted out the baby shampoo {yep, you read that right!} and began to coax her head down and into the proper position. With Smitty on one side and my mom on the other, I pushed for close to 45 minutes and it was honestly such a beautiful experience! With Adelyn, my pain was out of control, my mind hazy, and my anxiety high. This birth experience was worlds apart. The room was calm and there was a certain sweet spirit within it. Every push was a step closer to meeting my littlest girl. Every ounce of pressure or pain I felt was a reminder of the precious gift I was about to hold in my arms.

     We'd been having trouble getting Elsie's big head over the ridge in my pelvic bone, so on my last two contractions, my doctor slid her arms under my tailbone and literally folded my body in half, pushing her head out. Because of this position, I was literally inches away from my baby girl as she made her entrance into the world! I remember just saying, "Whoa! Wow! Oh my gosh, she's right there!" And in just an instant, there she was...big and beautiful and in my arms!

      Elsie Norah Faye Smith arrived on February 25 at 3:55 pm, weighing in at 8 lbs 7 oz and 20.5 inches long. She was born two weeks earlier than we anticipated, but incredibly healthy and such a perfect little blessing! Her birth experience began much different than I planned, but in the end, we truly were able to have the birth we had prayed for all those months. The next morning, as my mom and I were discussing it, she told me felt like she was almost at a home birth. Everything was so personal, so intimate. Instead of the sterile, distant hospital birth so often controlled by staff, we were able to actively participate in the process and be truly up close and personal as we welcomed our daughter into the world.

    My recovery has also been a thousand times better than it was with Adelyn. I only had a small 1st degree tear from a controlled, linear episiotomy. I was up walking later that evening {which is 3 weeks sooner than I could say with Adelyn!} and have had minimal pain overall. I am so tremendously grateful for a smooth and quick delivery, an excellent doctor and nursing staff, a healthy baby girl, and a fairly easy recovery. I'm also so thankful for the support of my husband and my family and friends who helped during that day and the days to follow. What a gift!


     We are smitten with Miss Elsie. She is the squishiest, snuggliest little girl and it such a joy to be her parents. Adelyn, while a bit apathetic about her baby sister at first, has been fantastic so far. She even woke up this morning saying, "Baby Elsie! Where are you??" It's so sweet to see them interact and I can't wait to see their relationship grow over the years!

     And finally, thank you to everyone who has been praying for us along the way. It truly has meant the world to us to know that so many have been interceding on our behalf. God has been gracious to us and we are profoundly grateful. 

Friday, February 28, 2014

Introducing Elsie Norah Faye!

     I am so excited to introduce you to our littlest love, Elsie Norah Faye! Born two weeks early on February 25 at 3:55 pm. 8 lbs, 7 oz and 20.5" long. She's beautiful and healthy {and oh, so chubby!} and we are so blessed! I will share our full birth story, the story behind her name, and plenty more pictures very soon, but here's just a couple for now.

     The BIGGEST THANK YOU to all of you who prayed, shared sweet words of encouragement, texted, sent messages and shared this journey with us along the past several weeks. It was a whirlwind - a beautiful whirlwind - but the Lord was so gracious and we are blessed. We're still fighting off sickness in our home, but are incredibly thankful for a quick delivery and healthy baby and mama. Can't wait to share the rest of the story with you, friends! Soon! But for now...I'm off to snuggle a sweet sleepy baby girl!

Monday, February 24, 2014

A Quick Baby Update + How You Can Be Praying

"We now interrupt your regularly scheduled programming..."

     First, thanks to everyone who has been following along during my "Things I Would Say to My First Time Mom Self" Series. It's been so fun to hear from you, and I'm definitely looking forward to sharing more with you, but....I'm going to be having a baby tomorrow instead! I've been doing a lot of updating via Facebook this week, but thought I'd post a quick update here. It seems more efficient this way! :) {Sorry for the lack of pictures and fun stuff...just trying to get a quick update in while packing a hospital bag!}

     As many of you know, I have been super sick for the past two weeks. And by super sick, I mean like, full-on upper respiratory infection, ear infections, sinus infections, bronchitis...No fun, friends! Every time I think I'm getting better, I seem to take a turn for the worse. To be honest, it's been a very frustrating and discouraging two weeks. And all of this on the heels of my pre-term labor the week before. It has made for one worn out mama, to say the least. Because of this ongoing sickness, the pre-term labor, and my pre-existing heart condition, my doctor has decided that inducing is the best option at this point. No need to further stress out my immune system or the baby due to an illness I just can't shake. It's most likely safer for her on the outside rather than in. On top of that, delivering this baby will give my immune system a chance to recover, my lungs more space to expand, and provide the option of stronger medications to help speed the healing process along.

    So...sometime tomorrow we will be going in for an induction. I don't know what time yet, but we are expecting a phone call in the morning letting us know when we should head that way. To be honest, I'm a little bit nervous - for a few reasons...

1. I'm nervous about being so sick AND being in labor. Right now, I can't breathe out of my nose and can't go more than 2 minutes without pretty much coughing my lungs out. Since breathing is a pretty important part of labor, you can imagine my apprehension there. Please pray with us for miraculous healing tonight. We have done everything we know to do to try to get this sickness to go away. We certainly need the hand of God to intervene and bring strong healing in the name of Jesus now. 

2. I'm a little nervous about an induction in general. I've told y'all about my last birth experience and about how I wanted to have a stronger voice and more control in this one. An induction does take some of that away from me. I believe they are just going to break my water tomorrow, and since I'm already 5 cm dilated, I assume my body will easily take over the rest. That being said, I'm still anxious about how I'll manage when things didn't begin on their own, my body is weak and unable to handle contractions and labor as it normally would, my mind is mentally exhausted from the weeks of illness and lack of sleep. Please pray with me for supernatural strength and energy tomorrow in spite of my weakness. Also pray that I will have the wisdom and discernment to know what is the nest decision for both me and my baby during labor and delivery.

3. My mom is incredibly sick as well. She has been super sick off and on the past 3 weeks and is now being treated for walking pneumonia among other things. She loves her grandbabies and wants to be in the delivery room with us - and we want her to be as well - but right now, her sickness has completely weakened her system as well. Please pray for divine healing for her as well. We've all been hit hard by this sickness and need the Lord's intervention!!

4. Smitty thinks he may be getting sick. Please pray that it's just fatigue and that the Lord protects his body from this illness. Also, pray that Adelyn will continue to feel better. She's in great spirits, but still has the cough and congestion. She's much more resilient than Mommy, it seems. :)

5. Finally, pray for our sweet baby girl to be healthy and strong and to be completely shielded and immune from this nasty illness that has taken over our home!! I am firmly believing that God's timing is perfect and far beyond any plan I could make, so join me in trusting that our baby will be safe from this sickness!!

Thank you friends for all of your prayers and encouragement! We do not take it lightly!! You are a blessing and I cannot wait to introduce the newest Itty Bitty Smitty to y'all!!


     Oh, also! To all of my Display Your He{art} customers out there...I am so sorry for this little shipping setback. I've been working as hard and as fast as I can, despite being on bedrest, in pre-term labor, and being so sick. I was hoping I would make it another couple of weeks and have plenty of time to finish everything up, but that is just not the case! Please know that I have not forgotten about you or your letter sets for your little ones. I know you are all anxiously awaiting their arrival {and nesting!} as well, and I promise I will get everything to you as fast as I possibly can once I get back home from the hospital. Thank you for your support and understanding during this time as well!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Things I Would Say to My First Time Mom Self - Breastfeeding and Cloth Diapering

     Hi everyone! Welcome back to my "Things I Would Say to My First Time Mom Self" Series! I've loved getting honest with y'all so far and loved even more hearing your stories and feedback! If you've missed any of the series, there are links to revisit them at the end of this post! Be sure to check them out and join us again as we continue this series! Today we're talking about two of the things that seemed most intimidating to me before having a baby...breastfeeding and cloth diapering!

{5} Breastfeeding and Cloth Diapering are Worth a Try
        Before having Adelyn, the thing I was most afraid of was breastfeeding. I had heard all of the horror stories - babies not latching, mastitis, terrible pain...and honestly, I was incredibly intimidated by the entire process. When they brought her to me to nurse for the first time, I'm pretty sure I looked at the nurse with fear in my eyes and said, "I have absolutely no clue what I'm doing." After a bit of trial and error and with the help of a nipple shield, we finally got Adelyn to latch on and it all suddenly seemed slightly less impossible. Let me shoot straight with you though, lest you think we had a magical nursing experience. It was hard. We had to use a shield for 4 months. I had chronic plugged ducts. She had 16 teeth by her first birthday and learned how to use them, if you know what I mean. It was exhausting. Addy went on nursing strikes. She reversed cycled. She sometimes preferred bottle to boob. But I'm SO glad I stuck with it for as long as I did. We were not able to exclusively nurse due to her vast appetite {I had good supply, but she wanted to eat every 1.5 hours and I just could not keep up with her!}, and had to start supplementing pretty early on, but ultimately, I treasure those times we had together while nursing.

     Heading into delivery for baby #2, I now know what to expect and am certainly not as intimidated. Breastfeeding can be hard, mamas! I totally understand that, but if you can stick with it, it's worth it! Please let me stop here and say loud and clear: there is no shame in not being able or choosing not to breastfeed...each family has to choose what's best for them. I know many mamas who really tried to breastfeed and it just wasn't working for them or their little one. I know some who never wanted to try at all. And that's okay. Really. Just know that it's definitely worth a shot and not as scary as it seems sometimes!

     And what about cloth diapering?
     If you had told us when we had Adelyn that we'd be cloth diapering a few months later, I would've told you, "No way! That is just not for us!" In fact, I'm pretty sure I did tell several people that upon their suggestion of cloth diapering to us. Cloth diapers seemed gross, a lot of work, and something that just our hippie friends did. And then Addy developed urinary tract issues and started going through diapers like nobody's business. We were spending outrageous amounts of money of disposables and after looking at our budget, knew we probably needed to explore other options. Enter the cloth diaper discussion. We skeptically ventured to Cotton Babies and got educated on the variety of diapers available to us. We didn't necessarily plan on buying anything that day, but left with an entire set of diapers and committed to giving it a try. And I'm glad we did.

      Was it an adjustment? A little one. I mean that. Cloth diapers are WAY more intimidating before you actually start using them. They're totally manageable, even for those of us who hate doing laundry. They saved us hundreds of dollars in diapers with baby #1 and we plan to do the same for baby #2. Plus, your little one will look pretty cute in their colorful fluffy butt.

     We chose cloth for financial reasons, but there are tons of benefits to cloth diapering that I won't get into in this already lengthy post. Again though, if you're considering cloth, give it a shot! It may not work for your family, but then again, it may surprise you and you may love it! And if you have any cloth diapering questions, feel free to ask!

Any fellow breastfeeding or cloth-diapering mamas out there that want to share their stories or advice? For the soon-to-be-mamas, what intimidates you the most about bringing your baby home?

Read the rest of the series here:

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Things I Would Say to My First Time Mom Self - The Post-Baby Body

  Hi! Welcome back to our "Things I Would Say to My First Time Mom Self" Series! I'm getting honest around here this week and sharing all the things I wish I had known the first time around. We've already talked about creating your own birth experience, the inevitable community bathroom, and finding a new perspective when it comes to our appearance. Today, I'm opening up about the post-baby body and all of the changes that accompany it. I hope you're encouraged by it, and I hope you'll stick around for rest of the series!!

{4} You may lose the weight, but your body will never be the same. 

     I gained 35 pounds with my first pregnancy. 35 pounds that helped me nourish and support a growing baby girl. 35 pounds that stretched my once tiny belly and left battle wounds to prove it. 35 pounds whose numbers on the scale vanished somewhere in the months following delivery, but whose impact on my body are sure to linger forever. I thought the weight would say it all. You gain the baby weight. You lose the baby weight. The end. What I found, however, is that the proof of carrying that tiny human for 9 months will never fully leave you. As a mom, your body is most likely permanently marked in one way or the other, a walking testimony of the miraculous gift you were given through childbearing.

     For me, it's the six stripes on the front of my belly. I stayed stretch mark free until 38 weeks with Adelyn and was devastated the day I discovered them. I cried when I got home from the hospital and their deep purple hue screamed at me, erasing any dreams of bikinis and beaches I had for my future. It's the wider hips and the new handles so affectionately given the title of "love." It's the fuller chest {though, as one who's lived her whole life as a size A, it's not necessarily a negative thing. And my husband doesn't seem to mind! ;-) }. It's the slight pooch just below my belly button, the one that no amount of crunches will ever fully get rid of, the one that sometimes makes me think of my grandma.

I lost the weight. The pounds fell off. The skinny jeans fit again. But my body will never quite be the same. And in many ways, this is a beautiful thing.

     Those stripes I bear on my belly remind me that my body once held an 8lb 2 oz baby girl. They tell me that I have weathered a pregnancy and lived to tell about it. The wider hips are a reminder that I did, in fact, deliver a human being from my body. Let that sink in for a minute. Mamas and mamas-to-be, do you see the insane miracle in that? I marvel at it all the time. I had a tough, even traumatic delivery with Adelyn and those hips that just aren't quite as narrow as they once were are now proof that I did what was seemingly impossible at the time. The fuller chest is a testimony of my determination to nurse my baby girl, despite breastfeeding's ups and downs. It's a reminder of those late night feedings and the precious bond I formed with my baby. The dreaded "mommy pooch," points to the incredible mystery of pregnancy and birth. My body created space for another living, breathing, human being. My body allowed me to carry that beautifully tiny person around for over 9 months. It made space for her, even on days when it felt like there was surely no more room at the inn. That little pooch is a marker for my baby girl's first "home." The first place she snuggled up near me. The first place she heard her mama's heartbeat. The first place I felt her sweet baby kicks. The first place her hiccups jarred me awake. The first place her daddy whispered to late at night. The first place I acknowledged she was forever mine and I forever hers. 

     As I near the end of this second pregnancy, I am acutely aware of each of those tiny miracles. Each kick is more precious, each hiccup sweeter. And while I would be lying if I said I'm not anxious to hold my newest baby girl in my arms and no longer be SO pregnant, I know these fleeting moments and my ever-changing body are just reminders of the goodness of my God and the miracle of life within.

     My body will never be the same. My belly never as flat as it once was. My skin never as unmarked. And yet, those changes simply signify the bigger change that took place when my daughter was born. The change in my heart. She has radically uprooted my life, dramatically rearranged my schedule, and relentlessly forced her way into my heart. My love is fiercer now that it ever was. My heart, forever intertwined with hers. I am a mom and that reality has marked me, body and soul. And I am better because of it.

Mamas and mamas-to-be, as always, I'd love to hear YOUR thoughts! Leave a comment or send a message with your stories! We're all in this together!

Read the rest of the series here:

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