birth, God stuff, handpicked, personal

Emmeline’s Birth Story | Part 2


Your promise still stands
Great is Your faithfulness, faithfulness
I’m still in Your hands
This is my confidence, You never failed me yet

I’ve seen You move, You move the mountains
And I believe, I’ll see You do it again
You made a way, where there was no way
And I believe, I’ll see You do it again

Once we got home things seemed to pick up pretty quick and the timing of everything really fell into place so perfectly. Miracle of all miracles, when we got home Lincoln told Marshall he wanted to “take a nap” and fell asleep almost immediately. We were sure he would be up for the day, but this was such a little miracle. Because he slept, Marshall was able to help me labor which was super duper necessary. He was my lifeline. Him just being beside me was essential. I always kind of felt like the whole “husband coached birth” thing was just something invented to help the dad feel like part of the process, but really he carried me and afterwards it really felt like something we did together. After being together for as long as we have (11 years almost!) sometimes there don’t feel like a lot of “firsts” left, but this was definitely a first and it was so special! 

After Lincoln went to sleep things really picked up. My contractions were super painful, I couldn’t really get comfortable anywhere and they felt really back to back. I heard myself saying that I wasn’t getting a break (which is a sign of transition! But totally wasn’t in transition at this point). In retrospect pretty sure my water had broken, but I didn’t realize it despite the fact that, um, things were falling out of me. (…aaannnnd, leaving it at that!) 

I tried to labor in the tub but hated it and had a really hard time coping with contractions in there. I wasn’t comfortable sitting at all, so I tried the shower again for a little bit but after a while I got hot and I was nervous about my skin being in the hot water for that long. I paced around our bedroom and bathroom and tried over and over to find positions that were comfortable but the most comfortable I was standing, holding onto Marshall and squeezing for dear life when a contraction came. I remember telling him a few times that if we went back to the birth center and I was still 3cm I would walk myself across the parking lot to the hospital for an epidural. 

At some point while we were at home my water had definitely broken, which I didn’t realize until I was examined at the birth center. I legitimately thought I was peeing during every contraction. This totally explained the intensity of everything, in hindsight. I remember telling Marshall there was no way I was going to be able to do this for hours, but he kept reminding me to breathe and turned on some music at some point. Do It Again was on my playlist and I remember hearing myself saying “there’s no way I can do this” over and over and over and then hearing “you made a way, when there was no way” almost in direct response. 

After that the atmosphere completely shifted. I got a hold on my breathing, I was significantly more calm and relaxed. Something just clicked. Marshall told me we could go to the birth center anytime I was ready. My brother in law had come to pick up Lincoln on his way to work, miraculously right when he woke up from his “nap”. I was dreading the drive to the birth center, and it was 8am so I knew it was going to take longer than normal with traffic but I knew we should go sooner than later. Now that things were clearly progressing, I wasn’t sure how fast it would be and Marshall was for sure not excited at the prospect of delivering a baby in our bedroom. 

The drive there was incredible. I was so relaxed at this point I literally fell asleep. I’d have a contraction, breathe through it and doze off by the end of it. I have no idea how. It took us about 45 minutes to get there, traffic was completely stopped on the highway so we went back roads. Marshall did an exceptional job of driving. He said that we got stuck at every stoplight but I didn’t even notice, I had my eyes closed and I was sleeping or breathing. Later when I was in the tub I told our midwife that I kept falling asleep at the end of contractions and she explained it was my body conserving energy for pushing later on– means you’re close! 

We got there around 9am, Mandesa, the other midwife I had wanted to meet,  met us at the door smiling so big and said “I don’t think we’ve met!”. I happened to look at Marshall’s face and he was smiling so big too, and a little teary. I think I smiled at him, but I’m honestly not sure what my face looked like.  At this point we were both in complete awe at how everything was piecing together so perfectly after waiting for her for so long. Having Mandesa there was just like an extra special God hug, just because. He was like “I heard you! I knew you wanted to meet her! You got to meet her on the day it matters most! It was always the plan!” Another little promise fulfilled. 

My hands and legs were shaking and she walked us back to triage me. I was 6cm and she confirmed my water had broken. She helped me through a contraction on the table then listened to Emmeline’s heart and remarked “oh, she’s a happy baby!”, which Alexa literally had said five hours earlier. Everyone that listened to her heart beat always said that she was happy. So appropriate for our Emmeline Joy! She also made a comment about how I was doing great breathing for her and that was so motivating. I am an undeniable “words of affirmation” person so little comments like that really helped me a ton. 

She started the tub for me in our room and I made my way back there, leaving puddles of amniotic fluid along the way. In between contractions I still felt kind of normal. I made a joke in the triage room about leaking a little bit and after every contraction I’d look at Marshall and the puddle, of um, stuff, and remark how gross it was.  

In each of the birthing suites there’s a ladder on the wall and while Marshall went to the car to get our stuff I just held on to the ladder and swayed and breathed. It was like as long as I had something to hold onto, I was totally good. Once the tub was ready I asked Mandesa how I should sit since I was coping well standing and swaying, and she gave me some ideas and I finally settled on sitting on my knees and feet. After a while my feet turned kinda purple and were kinda numb but I totally rationalized that it would be worth it to lose my feet than sit on my butt during a contraction. Once I was in the tub and comfortable I told Mandesa I was scared of transition and she just looked at me and said “why? You might be in it right now.” Which may have been true, I didn’t seem to notice transition whenever it happened. 

  






Contractions came and went, and I would doze off, sitting up in the middle of the tub. At some point they got a speaker working and Marshall turned on my labor playlist and I requested “Do It Again” a few times. Soon I asked Mandesa about pushing and she told me contractions would change and breathing wouldn’t be enough to get me through them and she was totally right. Not long after, that things started to shift again and I would push through the end of contractions and it felt awesome. Awesome.  Everyone started getting things ready for a baby and I kept grunting and pushing a little, one big push kinda freaked me out because I felt her drop significantly. Mandesa talked me through some better pushing positions and we got things rolling around 11am! I had been coping and managing contractions pretty well on my own (with Marshall beside me– that was definitely the key) but pushing I super needed her direction on when to breathe, how to breathe and where to push. I couldn’t feel a lot of progress happening which got me kind of frustrated so she had me turn into a different position and she realized that my bag of water hadn’t broken completely and that was holding me back some. She popped it and a few pushes later her head was out! I think it took three contractions with her head pretty much out (have mercy, that was intense!) for her to come all the way out. She felt huge. Then all of a sudden, Emmeline was here, 11:37am! Relief! Almost 12 hours exactly from my first big contraction the night before. Mandesa caught her in the water and handed her right to me and I immediately started crying when I saw she had red hair. Best ever. I knew she would in my heart. I just knew it! She was so wild in my belly! 


She wasn’t crying yet, normal for water birth babies, apparently, so she and Anne (our amazing nurse) helped suction her and warm her up and wasn’t long before she was yelling at us pretty good (and hasn’t really stopped since…). 41 weeks and 2 days means some really developed lungs. She was making her presence in the world known, for sure! 






We sat for a few minutes then they helped me out of the tub and we walked over to the bed and they delivered the placenta and Mandesa stitched me up. I cut the cord (Marshall’s not really into that sort of thing..haha!)  and wasn’t long afterwards Emmeline latched on great and started nursing like a champ with much enthusiasm. We took turns snuggling and soaked it up! After we snuggled for about an hour Mandesa came back to weigh her and do all the newborn stuff, she had us guess her weight and I had no idea. 8 pounds 3 ounces! Mandesa said she guessed it almost exactly just by looking and feeling my belly when I came in. So fun. I could not believe that I pushed out an 8+ pound baby. What a body! Pushing was definitely the hardest part, for sure. Made more sense knowing she was a pound bigger than Lincoln. Totally felt it. Every ounce. She was 21.5 inches long (same as Lincoln). Overall, a big-ish girl– especially for our kind of people (small– ha!). Everyone that has met her since then remarks that she was a big babe to come out of me. I always fight the urge to flex my muscles in response. It’s also worth mentioning that my tailbone still hurts and I can’t really sit down or get up without wincing. 





This whole thing was just an incredible gift. The past two years have been such a refining time for me, and this birth was just a gift after all of that. God was in every single detail, and we knew he would be, despite weeks of trying to prepare and plan for every scenario. He was in the middle of it all with us, and showed off big time. His presence was tangible, especially in those final moments before she was born. 

Personally, I thought I’d leave there feeling super empowered and proud of myself but really I feel like God did most of the work. It was like something took over and told me what to do, how to breathe, how to stand, how to sit… it really was so instinctual. All of it. I mean, there’s not really any way to anticipate or practice how to cope… you just kind of figure it out at each stage.

Don’t get me wrong, I am proud of myself for sure, and this was such an amazing testament to how taking care of my body has changed how I view myself. Pretty much my whole life I’d always seen myself kind of sickly. I always had issues with eczema and asthma and I was just sick a lot, as a kid and as an adult If I didn’t have a cold (turned respiratory/sinus/ear infection) I had a stomach virus. I was never athletic or good at running, I always had a headache or was tired. I never believed my body could do anything. Since overhauling our diet and eating well I’ve been so shocked at how my body operates in general, and how good I feel and I think that was a major part of it. So much of the process was trusting my body and my instincts, and after twenty some years of NOT trusting or believing in my body it was tough, but this was just more affirmation to keep eating well and taking care of myself. My body can do amazing things if I fuel it with the best things! I finally believe that I am strong and capable of great things. This birth was such a gift, on so many levels. There is so much beauty in this life… and birth is not something to be dreaded or feared. It’s so beautiful, and empowering. Also, messy! But so is this life.  

Jualeah told me when we came in, “each baby writes their own story” and I love that my babies have different stories. Both of them were so special, and taught me so much about everything— life, myself, motherhood, our marriage, God. Thankful for them both, and my two happy healthy babes. Can’t imagine my life without them both– it’s always been them! It’s so fun to think about how as a teenager when I saw the name “Emmeline” in a textbook, that God KNEW that I’d have an Emmeline and she’d have red hair and be born in this way. She’d have a big brother, Lincoln, and I’d be married to Marshall (who I met in high school) and this would be our life. That was the plan all along. All along! Why do I ever doubt his goodness or his plan for me? It’s always so much better than anything I have planned for myself. Always. Every single time. And I always question it. And he’s always faithful. Always! 

And my husband. My sweet husband. I could not have done it without him. He knew my thoughts before I could say it, he knew what to say in the moment I needed it, he knew when not to say anything when I didn’t need it… it was truly one of the most special days in our marriage. Thanks for letting me squeeze your hand over and over. You are my lobster. Forever and ever. 

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If you’re on the fence about a med free birth or midwife care or a birth center– consider it! Trust yourself and your body, you are equipped and you can totally do it. The midwives at Baby & Company are incredible. They are incredibly thorough with their healthcare and I always left my appointments feeling so cared for and loved. Everything is so family oriented, patient centered, and the birth itself was so joyful and FUN! Not scary or clinical feeling. We are certain we are done with two kids (Marshall is certain, but I’m still enamored with E’s birth which is clouding my judgement… before her birth I was done with two, but now I don’t know!), but I wish we had plans for many more so I could deliver there again and again. Such a special place! I guess I’ll just have to go to every event they have there forever and ever. 

In all seriousness, the midwives there are amazing. Mandesa, especially, she is truly living out her calling. She was so supportive, and hands off when I didn’t need her, but as soon as I did she was right there, to hold my hand, or to tell me to relax, or with a barf bag (which thankfully I didn’t need!), or with words of encouragement. She was just the very best– we are so thankful for you and that you were the one for our girl’s story! 

And this is just the beginning, the best is yet to come. Let the good times roll! 

Special shoutout to my dear friend Amber Langhoff for being “on call” for like the entire month of April and May for us  and having a plan B, C, D and E for every day to be there for our birth! It was such a special day and we are so thankful we got to share it with you and that you were able to take photos. We will treasure them forever! 
birth, newborn, personal, pregnancy

Emmeline’s Birth Story | Part 1

I have written and rewritten Emmeline’s birth story at least five times now. It has been so hard for me to authentically describe the experience, and reconcile wanting to savor and remember every single detail of the day, and not “overshare” and write a novel. All in all, the experience was so spiritual. It was just incredible. It was so much more than I thought it would or could be. 

My friend posted this on Mother’s Day this year, and it resonated with me so much. Breathing was my lifeline during labor. This probably sounds weird, but breathing has always been hard for me. I grew up with asthma, and even during this pregnancy I really struggled with feeling short of breath and that will spiral into a panic attack of sorts. In my labor with Lincoln I had been recovering from the flu at 38 weeks and I still had a cough and some congestion and I remember the position they had me in to push I felt like I couldn’t catch my breath and it really freaked me out. I was most nervous about that happening again during labor and asked several different midwives on several occasions if I’d have access to oxygen if I needed it (I would have). Once I got ahold of my breathing around the time my water broke, contractions were a breeze. I’d feel it coming, breathe deeply, force one extra deep breathe at the peak and then exhale it out– sometimes I’d whistle it out. Enjoy the break with easy breaths and do it again. As long as I was in an upright position to control the breath it was no thing. So when I saw this quote from Ann Voskamp, it resonated with me so much. So, so much. 

“… so, yeah, parenting is hard & beautiful,
and very, very hard & very, very beautiful, 
and sometimes you just get down on the floor & weep 
& there’s no shame in it — tears just saying we’re loving deep.
Parenting is hard, not because we’re getting it wrong, but because we’re getting to do holy work — holy work *is* hard work.
That’s the miracle of parenting:
labor never stops & we never stop having to remember to breathe.
And even the sound of our breathing is saying His name – YHWH.
And all the parents exhaled… and our every breath calls for You to come, Lord, please come — Come help us to labor over these beloved children, that they’d deliver into the wide expanse of Your fulfilling grace — 
& never forget their name: Beloved.” 

Wow, right? I was about five days postpartum reading those words, ugly crying my guts out. I remember with Lincoln feeling so exhausted in those early days, wondering when I’d get a chance to actually rest my heart, mind and body after the whirlwind of labor. Never. I am still running that marathon, but with another little baby in tow. I did get some good nights of sleep in the meantime though. 

But this quote, and the blog post I linked above, which I’ll link again because it’s worth opening in a new tab and reading right now perfectly sums up how I feel. Additionally, this post does as well. I remember breezing, no really, breezing through the end of my labor, not noticing transition, just listening to my body and feeling myself begin to push her out and thinking how easy it had been. Until the time came to actually push her out into this world and then I heard myself saying over and over: I can’t do it. And somehow, I did. I reached deep within my heart, soul, lungs, self and here she is and has been for a month now. The perfect metaphor for how God delivered ME from so many things. Those postpartum days with Lincoln, those seemingly endless days of painful eczema all over me, the early postpartum days this time where looking forward at our life seemed IMPOSSIBLE, how am I ever going to recover/heal/thrive/keep everyone alive? And somehow I am doing it. Despite telling Marshall and anyone who can listen over and over that I can’t. I’m totally doing it. Not on my own, but with God in me and breathing through me every step of the way. 

And that is how my labor went. 

I’m nearly a week out, starting this, (almost 3 weeks out finishing it, and a month out rewriting most of it again) and the memory of it all is already starting to be fuzzy. Her whole birth was so spiritual. Even the last weeks leading up to it I felt God just pulling my focus away from everything and onto him, refining me to prepare me for the transition from mama to one, to two.

As it was happening and immediately after, the pain was so real and I was so glad it was over and I’d never have to do it again. But now, looking back, God was so present in that room! In our car as we drove to and from the birth center (twice). In our bedroom and bathroom as I labored with Lincoln sleeping in the next room. He was undeniably with us in every single moment, and I don’t think there was ever a time I’ve felt him so near. I’m already finding myself longing to feel another contraction, to feel his peace and strength breathing with me. It was so supernatural, all of it, but I think there’s nothing really normal about bringing a baby earthside. The whole experience was just so worshipful. In my head I kind of (admittedly) dramatically equate it with being present to the burning bush in Exodus. God was there. It was terrifying, comforting and miraculous– all at the same time. So, here’s how it all went down…

 Monday the eighth was business as usual. We had an ultrasound at Wake Med since we were 41 weeks, after that Marshall went to work and Lincoln and I spent the day wandering around downtown. I had become an expert at ignoring contractions so I’m honestly not sure if I had any during the day or not. I remember having some in the evening that were a bit more noticeable at 7 minutes apart but like they had been, they fizzled out as soon as I sat and rested or changed positions. That evening we had a photo team meeting at the church office that I really had been wanting to go to, and I was worried I wouldn’t be able to being in labor or having a newborn, so I was really excited to go. My wonderful friend Amber who had been rearranging her life for weeks to photograph our birth was there and as we left she was like “ok! Last chance! Do I go with you guys to the birth center?” and I was like “nooooooo, nothing’s happening tonight. Go home and sleep!”

So we went home, gave Lincoln half a melatonin (he is normally asleep by 7:30 and we didn’t get home until 9 and he was literally running laps around the kitchen…). Marshall and I both were hungry so we sat in the kitchen and talked for a while, I texted with some of the members of our photo team the usual “is this real life? I love you guys so much” stuff and I felt this sense of peace. Like, just being at that meeting brought me back to where I was postpartum with Lincoln and I was able to see so clearly and vividly how much God has changed me and my life in the past two years. It was almost like exactly what I needed to see and feel emotionally to realize that I really was ready to do it again– and if I wasn’t, I knew that God was there with me in the middle of it all.

Marshall went to bed and I had trouble winding down so I took my 41 week belly mirror picture (#priorities) and played on my phone and tried to lay down and relax. I realized after about 10 minutes I wasn’t getting comfortable because I was having contractions laying down! That had not happened yet with my prodromal labor, so I ignored them for a bit and then started timing them. I’d doze off in between and then after a few it wasn’t comfortable laying down anymore so I got up and got the birth ball and bounced some. Turns out I was not a fan of contracting on the ball so I didn’t do that a single time more. I timed them for about an hour then told Marshall that they were five minutes apart, different feeling than the others I’d had. We were supposed to call the midwife at 611 (6 minutes apart, 1 minute long for 1 hour). I got in the shower and washed my hair and shaved my legs, pausing every 5 minutes to breathe through a contraction.  I have no concept of time, but I kept having some doozies and they felt really back to back, so I asked him to call to let them know we’d be along at some point soon.

There were two midwives I hadn’t met yet, and everyone that I knew that went to Baby & Company raved about Jualeah and Mandesa. I actually cried (read: ugly cry sobbed) a few nights earlier to Marshall about how I was so disappointed I didn’t even get to meet these amazing midwives that everyone else had loved.

He called and low and behold Jualeah answered! I talked to her for a bit, and my contractions seemed to stop while I was on the phone and she said to text her when it looked like we were going to come in. So I hopped back in the shower and resumed contracting and enjoyed the hot water.

After a while, I got out of the shower and got dressed and was hit back to back with two pretty big contractions and Marshall and I agreed we should probably go to the birth center as they were coming consistently and getting stronger. We got the car loaded up and got Lincoln in the car, fleece firetruck jammies and all. Contractions spaced out a little bit in the car, but the drive was dreadful. I was not coping well in the car at all. Like, I was definitely saying some four letter words quite loudly. We called my sister to let her know we were en route with Lincoln and after weeks of sleeping with her phone on high volume being “on call” for us, she didn’t wake up to our calls or texts, which is kind of hilarious. In the end it totally worked out perfectly the way it was supposed to, but it was so funny that she didn’t hear us!

When we got to the birth center I was greeted by a new midwife to the practice, Alexa, and she triaged me. While she examined me, in between contractions I told her how excited I was to be in active labor because I never really went into consistent really active active labor with Lincoln withou pitocin (so, pro tip: you’re really not in active active labor if you’re telling people how excited you are about it… no matter how far apart or strong your contractions are). I was still 3 centimeters and not all the way effaced, same as my 40 week appointment more than a week earlier. She recommended we go back home. Since we had Lincoln with us we agreed, although I was dreading the car ride home and back already. Jualeah was there resting and I asked if I could meet her (sorry, I woke you up, girl…) so she came out right as I had another contraction, and talked me through it and held my hand. She asked me where it hurt and I told her all the way around my back and pelvis and she grabbed a bed sheet and rebozo-ed my belly pretty tight with a bed sheet. Instantly the back pain was gone and the next few contractions were intense but way more tolerable since my back was spared. Looking back I think she shimmied Emmeline into prime position because things got intense pretty quickly once we got home.

Marshall loaded up the car and I contracted a few times in the parking lot and we headed back home. I felt a little discouraged for sure, but I knew these contractions were different than my prodromal labor ones and it was happening! A promise fulfilled in itself. A clear start to labor. I figured maybe by that night she’d be here or we’d at least be laboring at the birth center. I did not anticipate how quickly things would progress once we got back home.

Part 2 coming soon!

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everyday photos, personal, pregnancy

Strawberry Picking

Two weeks ago we met up with a few friends to go strawberry picking! In all honesty I was feeling super pregnant, super grumpy, super impatient and super thirsty and Lincoln was all of the toddler equivalents. I wanted to stay home but I’m so glad we went. We were driving each other bananas all morning, but this was a lovely thirty minute break from all the bananas driving. It was gorgeous weather!

Lincoln was bored with it at first and then realized that they were strawberries he could eat, and then he was ALL OVER THAT. He did really great and ate some whole ones (green leaves included) and then later found it was much better to just take one or two big juicy bites and then throw the rest of the berry somewhere. I didn’t realize it was pay by the bucket and didn’t fill all of ours up and by the time I paid it was too late and the toddler was too done. So, next time we know. Pile it up. All the strawberries. So fun to see these friends, and my dear friend Stephanie gave me some fresh eggs from a friend of hers and they were delicious. Great day. Great eating day.

Sidenote: My lil’ Nikon 28mm lens never disappoints. The color of these photos is incredible. Most of these are straight out of the camera, I had to tweak exposure on a few because the metering doesn’t line up 100% with the lens and my body, but I am just in awe. Yay eyeballs and cameras and weird lens configurations and adaptors.

THANKFUL!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

everyday photos, family, personal

Our Everyday Photos: April 2017

Just a normal Thursday. Marshall was home in the morning because the plumber came to install a whole house water filter (so maybe not so normal…) I took L to preschool and then hung out and worked at Starbucks until it was time for pickup. It was hard to reign in my focus, but I totally goofed off for most of the time, but then finished everything I needed to finish the last 45 minutes like a total procrasti-rockstar. Came home for nap, worked some more while he slept, we went for a big walk and then I headed out to my last married ladies eGroup meeting. Such a sweet day. 

personal, pregnancy, right now baby

Right Now: 38.5 weeks

Right now we’re guessing…  38 weeks and 4ish days. 


Right now I’m feeling pregnant in that… Ginormous belly, super sleepy, ravenous, peepee all day. 

Visited the midwife on Tuesday– girly is still head down, I’ve only gained .6 of ONE POUND since 36 weeks (yeah, I went to Chipotle AND Panera after that appointment and ate a lot), and now we just wait. Bag is packed, “Go Time” list is on the fridge with who to call and in what order to make sure all our dogs/toddlers/stuff is handled. My next appointment isn’t until May 4th (40 weeks 3 days), so really just…waiting. Also, I’ve reached the point in pregnancy where my appearance is alarming to people. Constantly offering me chairs and water and sympathetic looks– which is sweet! But, in all honesty, I’d rather just not be noticeable. 🙂 It would be nice to run my errands and do my life and not have strangers talk to me constantly and ask me how I’m feeling. Although, I am glad that dumb giraffe had her baby. I was tired of giraffe small talk. Do I sound really grumpy? I’m not that grumpy. I’m really not. 

Anywho, operating under the assumption that this our last pregnancy and this is the last time I’ll be this big, this pregnant, this everything… and it is helping my perspective. Trying to enjoy it and take every day as it comes and stop overanalyzing every twinge. We already know we’re having a girl, we know she’ll be here AT LEAST before May 14th (that will be 42 weeks at which point an induction or c-section would be performed) so there aren’t many surprises left– adjusting my perspective to enjoy it when it comes! Maybe we’ll have the big dramatic water breaking in public thing (although that wouldn’t help with the whole being alarming/noticeable thing). Although, I’m hopeful it will come on quickly and without doubt! Praying for a clear LABOR IS STARTING sign– and that we have enough time to get everybody where they need to be before she comes. I’m looking forward to laboring in the tub at the birth center. 

Right now I’m eating… paleoish to the max! I’ve had some dairy (mostly in the form of cheese and sour cream at Chipotle in the past two weeks) and I had a regular person burrito at Moe’s because I needed it (I really did– the steak and beans + rice were perfection). Really just trying to be honest with myself at this point– gluten and dairy don’t make me feel great. I usually get congested in my nose and it gives me a belly ache on some level, so it’s a lot easier for me to decipher “Is this a contraction?” if I take out the gluten/dairy factor. Also, congestion in my nose + giant baby in my abdomen squishing my lungs = instant anxiety about being able to breathe. So trying to love In Labor Kellie of the Future by not indulging and falling face first into a pizza. Because I’d kill a whole pizza. But I would also feel… terrible. 

Also, the almonds have forgiven me! After a stomach bug (that really just made me nauseous for 48 hours) right after Christmas 2015 I have had a very intense aversion to almond milk and almond butter (and rosemary…). Literally in the past month I cannot eat enough almond butter and I am craving almond milk like a weirdo. It only took 1.5 years, but yay. 

Right now I’m loving…  sleep. I pretty much have to nap every day to stay alive. Sleeping pretty great at night (once I fall asleep) only getting up once to pee usually. Also, we set up a fan in our bedroom and I love that. The first night we used it I slept until 8:30am. I don’t think Lincoln did, but I didn’t hear him AT ALL. The best sleep of my life. 

Right now, like last time… I don’t have a lot of clothes to wear. Also, my undies are too small.

Right now, this is different than last time in that…  I am feeling awesome and am not really anxious about birth/what is to come. 

Right now I’m looking forward to…  just knowing when she’s coming 🙂 I know it’s impossible to know, but there are A LOT of fun things in the next two weeks that I want to go to, and it would be nice to just know. Also, looking forward to knowing her temperament, how hard it’s going to be with two kids when I’m solo. We’ve talked about some trips this summer and some weekend trips for Marshall to go play bass and I am so hesitant to give him the green light, not knowing if I’ll be a complete basket case with both kids overnight by myself. Looking forward to a time where everything isn’t so “unknown”, I guess. 

Right now I’m reading… Ummmmm…..nothing. Finishing up Mrs. Betterhalf study today, actually. I should figure out what to read next. 

Right now I’m wearing…  the ultimate capsule wardrobe. I have one pair of maternity shorts, one black maxi skirt, one colorful maxi skirt and like 4 shirts and 4 dresses that are suitable for wearing in public. I have a couple of oversized tees and one pair of gym shorts that I wear at night for sleeping. I’m actually totally cool with my lack of options, and I’ve MISPLACED(!??!) my black Lularoe leggings which bums me out. They totally still fit. 

Right now I’m watching… Marshall and I are watching Prison Break on Netflix, and when I’m working or solo I’m re-watching White Collar (again), and Season 6 of New Girl. In this moment Lincoln and I are watching Trolls. I think he’s growth spurting, kinda sleepy, kinda grumpy, eating everything in sight. So we went to the Redbox. 

Right now I’m listening to… Listened to a bunch of The Birth Hour podcast, but then I got kinda freaked out about labor so I stopped listening. It was encouraging, but hearing this one lady talk over and over and over and over about how awful her labor was was…. not encouraging.

Right now kinda nervous about…  right now? No nerves really! Work is under control, we have lists, bags packed, freezer stocked, plans A B and C for what to do with Lincoln depending on what time of day it is and who is in or out of town/at work. We are as ready as we can be. I also don’t really have this need to have everything perfect because we aren’t going to be away from home for a long time. Less than a day, really… and while it would be nice to have everything hanging on her walls, it’s not really vital to us bringing her home. I may be not remembering correctly, but I know I’ll be in the bed resting a lot of the time, but I also feel like with the Solly Wrap I can still move around the house comfortably toting her around to finish up anything/play with Lincoln/cook/etc. 

Right now celebrating…  I got a new camera. I am so happy. Marshall found a Mark ii for $800 on Amazon marketplace with fewer actuations than mine that died a couple weeks ago. Canon had quoted around $600 for a repair of mine, and this one is in way better shape and has less wear. We are still on track to pay off my student loans this summer, just no big payment this month which is totally fine. I wanted to be cool and not be a brat and wait a little bit for a new camera, but every time I talked about how I was sad to bring Emmeline home with no camera and I would be legitimately surprised that I would burst into tears talking about it. This turned out to be a happy compromise and having my camera the past 24 hours has been THE BEST. Especially since it doesn’t really cause us any financial hardship, and not postponing our debt goal. Not sure why we didn’t think of it sooner…. I was kind of having an identity crisis about what kind of camera to upgrade to, but honestly spending more than $1000 on anything felt like too much pressure. I want this to be our family camera that I can carry around with kids and stuff, not something I am too scared to touch or take with us. So feeling very very very thankful! Like exploding grateful. Also now that this is settled I made travel plans to go to Indiana this summer for a quick day trip (!) to do some family photos for dear friends, in June I’ll take some photos at another friend’s little girl’s first birthday party, and just having it to take video and photos of Emmeline’s first days will be super special. Thankful for these little tools. 

PS: I totally sat outside at Starbucks and self timered like a total cool kid. Dat belly tho. 

everyday photos, personal

Our Everyday Photos: February 2017

February was fun. Just a “normal” month in our days and routines. Our weeks had become really predictable with no track out or winter weather. I’m learning that seasons come and go quickly, and everything is fluid, always changing so I’m trying to adjust my perspective and enjoy the predictability of a “schedule” while it lasts (it will be gone oh so soon with a new baby en route!). To save a little money and because of some changes in my work flow, we stopped having a Monday babysitter (bittersweet for sure) but we enjoyed having some extra fun Mama +  Lincoln time. Mondays we did something fun, Tuesday/Thursdays preschool days, Wednesdays became storytime and playdate days and Fridays were usually our Marbles day. We play in the mornings and then I work in the afternoons (and early early mornings). I want to remember the fun playdates, the bathtimes, and bedtime routines, the transition to the super bed (big kid bed! we upgraded to our king this month). Messy cheese puffs, our trip to Ikea, heart shaped paleo muffins on Valentine’s day, little long sleeved hoodies and button ups. Messy kitchens and messy faces. Man oh man, not taking having a camera or these photos for granted any longer, my friends. These are my favorite things. 

elevation, God stuff, personal

Easter at Elevation | 2017

It’s not just about numbers. However, the reality is that each number is made up of people, each person is a life, each life is a story. People’s lives are being changed every single weekend through our church. Constantly. It’s incredible to witness. Freedom happening everywhere you turn. 
89 people from our campus began walking in life with Jesus this weekend.

2,243 people were in attendance, packed out the auditorium for 5 different worship experiences. 

446 kids were in eKidz. 

2.5 years ago our campus was 20 people streaming Pastor Steven’s sermon over an iPad in someone’s house. 
This is not normal. This is incredible. And it’s so much more than just “going to church” or “being a good person” or “whatever other cliche you can put here about being in church”. This place, the words from Pastor Steven every Sunday truly inspire people to live their best lives, walking in life with Christ. 
There was a special video on Sunday about a couple that is on staff at one of the Charlotte locations, and she talked about how she had always known about Jesus and that it was more of a Believe-In-Him-So-You-Go-To-Heaven-When-You-Die sort of thing. She said it wasn’t until she started attending Elevation that she began to understand that we’re intended for life change earth side. Jesus changes us here and we experience it here, and he does miracles and changes lives, breaks chains, sets people free. It’s here, and it’s now and it’s happening. And it’s real
Personally, this weekend was incredible. We attended the Saturday night worship experience (and I had contractions through the whole thing– bringing me back full circle to Christmas Eve @ Elevation 2014 when I contracted through the whole thing with Lincoln and had a baby four days later). I woke up super duper early for my last Sunday to serve before Emmeline comes and spent the morning shooting as best as I could with a borrowed camera and lenses (because I sold my spare and then my camera died two weeks later) and with the craziest Braxton Hicks contractions that were totally keeping me from really actually focusing on anything. I ended up scooting out early and only shooting a fraction of the day because I couldn’t focus on anything except the fully cooked baby belly and needed to sleep a bit. Hanging out and shooting with my team though, was the greatest thing ever. Those people make me laugh, inspire me and love me like no other. True family, for real. 

It’s not about me, none of this is about me, but being there days away from delivering my second baby, taking pictures of the most incredible moments of people’s lives where they are experiencing God, some for the very first time, doing what I love to do around people that I love and love me like their own family was just the biggest soul hug. Our Father is so faithful, and so sweet and so attentive to the details of our hearts and our lives. Sometimes I still can’t believe that I get to be a part of this. I will admit, I took my camera for granted. I took my gear for granted. I took it all for granted even though I didn’t mean to, but heading into this next season I’m not taking another moment of this opportunity for granted. Nope. Savoring, doing my very best, thanking God the whole way. I never would have imagined that I’d love getting up at 4am to serve at church all day long. Never, ever, ever. But it’s so worth it, it’s one of the greatest things I get to do earth side and I hope I get to do it for a long, long, long, long time. 

Find an Elevation Church location near you, watch sermons online and get connected here! 

God stuff, handpicked, personal, pregnancy

I’m a tulip bulb.

This spring our tulips bloomed for the first time. I planted at least twenty bulbs and only three of them grew to completion, but they were so gorgeous. They were also surprisingly short lived, which is good to know for future gardening. Watching them grow and bloom though was really exciting for me, I’m just amazed by nature and the process of it all. 
When we first started going to Elevation I was coming out of a really challenging and refining season of postpartum anxiety and severe postpartum eczema, and one week pastor Steven preached a sermon called the seed is on schedule. It was during this sermon that I finally understood why people would get up and clap and shout things during his teaching because like everything he said, I was like YES! THIS IS ME! THIS IS LIFE! THIS IS EVERYTHING! AMEN! SO GOOD! Watching the bulbs grow into these beautiful flowers, having had planted them in the ground in the fall unsure if they’d do anything at all, was a miracle in itself. They grew so strong, so tall, so certain of their fate after sitting in the darkness of the dirt for literally months of winter coldness. So remarkable. If I were a tulip bulb, I’d surely wonder at some point if I had been forgotten, if maybe a mistake had been made because surely I was meant to be a tall, beautiful flower, not to spend most of my life sitting in the cold, dark earth. Which is totally how I felt in those first months of Lincoln’s life. I was meant to be more, not trapped in the dark.
I see so many parallels in my pregnancies and nature and seasons, I’m so thankful for the way God has designed it all. We welcomed Lincoln in the winter, and I literally felt like a tulip bulb. Trapped in the cold, dark, earth– unsure of my new territory, unsure of everything to come, unsure of why I was there. It was necessary for me to be there, though. I had to grow, I had to develop, I had to mature so that I could bloom and grow strong and tall as a mom, wife and woman. Although it was dark and scary at times, it was there that I became what I was intended to be, just like a tulip. 
I’m prepared for some more dark earth time, and some of this pregnancy has been that for sure. There have been moments, some days, some weeks even of darkness wondering what it will look like for me when this baby comes and what our new normal will be like. Preparing emotionally, and logistically to grow my heart with room for two has been a process that is only just beginning. I’m excited, open, expectant, and ready to bloom. 

handpicked, personal, photography

Sarah | Just Because

I could go on and on and on and on and on and on about how much I adore this woman. She is one of the greatest blessings in my life and has been for over ten years now (and seriously she hasn’t aged even slightly in that time. How, Sarah? How?!?
When I graduated from high school and was planning to attend Meredith College in the fall of 2006, I prayed fervently like I had never prayed before for a family to babysit for. Long story short, my bible study leader in the fall of 2006 sent an email to our group and said “First one to reply gets the babysitting gig!” and I was the first! I interviewed with them later that week, got the babysitting gig and could not have even imagined the role that this lady and her family would have in my life. She has been there for everything–  they literally let me live with them after I graduated in between apartments, helped me plan our wedding and celebrated with us constantly through our engagement, gave me many pre-wedding/marriage pep-talks, visited me in the hospital when I had Lincoln (and came over on Fridays for several weeks after his birth for a few hours– LIFE GIVING THOSE FRIDAYS) and now they have the best relationship, he is seriously so in love with his Say-Say (and her husband “Matt Damon”). And those are just a few of those things. We’ve spent hours just chatting, texting each other until I am crying laughing…. I cannot imagine what my life would be now if this woman had not entrusted the care of her sweet babies to me all those years ago. Her friendship has been one of the greatest things about this life, that is unmistakeable. Such a gift! 
A few weeks ago I invited myself over to take pictures of her and Stanley while “Damon” (dying) and the kids were out of town. She and Stanley both are too gorgeous for more words… enjoy! 

elevation, God stuff, handpicked, personal, photography

Jonelle | Just Because + My Elevation Story

I’ve written some here and on social media about my kind of wacky and unique postpartum experience. It was rough times, and it was late September of 2015, that things started to calm down a bit and I started to reemerge from that season. My eczema had cleared up significantly, our marriage was strengthening, my anxiety and depression were improving and we were on the up and up. We had been attending a local church for several years and had a solid small group of other couples, but we had undeniably been feeling God pulling at us to move to a different church. Some seasons were ending in areas that we had served in, we were new parents and the time felt right for a change. Our small group was gearing up to start a new year and we felt like it was good to pull out of the group before starting a new year even before knowing where we were headed church-wise. It was kind of a fast decision, but one we both strongly felt God was guiding us to make. So, we made a list of churches in the area to visit put them in iCal for the next few Sundays and started the vetting process over again. We both had visited Elevation Church in Charlotte a few times and were longtime followers of their worship music and sermons from Pastor Steven Furtick (I actually blogged about this sermon a few months before Lincoln was born, and this sermon about fear and being brave changed my life a few months later) but having just come from a big multi-site church with many locations, I was pretty skeptical. I felt I wanted less flashy lights, big production on Sundays and just a quieter experience overall. Honestly, I was pretty not excited about finding a church. I felt like no matter what church we went to I was always disappointed in the people, and I think on some level I was just going along for the ride because I felt like I should, not because I felt like I was going to get anything from God. 
During my postpartum season, I had listened to almost every single podcast that Elevation Church put out, so I am not sure why I was so hesitant to visit in real life. We weren’t even first time visitors, we had been to the Raleigh location a few times when we were off from serving at our old church, and we even left Lincoln in the nursery there for the first time ever when he was just a few months old (also, we were there on Christmas Eve a few days before he was born when my labor started). Looking back it was so clear that this is where God was sending us to be a part, I don’t know why I didn’t see it sooner. 
I think we visited on September 19th, on the way out of the worship experience Marshall was like “I want to go here for a while” and I agreed (again, not totally on board but he seemed convinced so I went with it). We signed up for E101 the next week to learn more about the church (except thats where you sign up to serve– we had no idea) and then I found an eGroup that met on Friday mornings at Jubala (hellooooo my favorite coffee place!) and that’s where I met Jonelle. 
I thought her eGroup had been meeting forever, but it turns out I invited myself to the first meeting ever. My first impression was what an answer to something that I had really been longing for but not really said anything about to God, or anyone else. I had an overwhelmingly large and supportive community of moms already. Our previous small group, local friends, my sister… I had a ton and I was kind of mommed out. I was growing tired of spending time with other moms, conversations completely dominated by nap schedules, breastfeeding woes and nighttime baby sleep. I was craving real conversation, about what was going on in my life and in theirs, things they really struggled with (not related to baby sleep) and coming out of one of the hardest seasons of my life, I was just really lonely. Sitting around the table was women in a variety of life stages and it was glorious. Jonelle is a mom of girls that are teenagers (and now with one in college) and of the other women some were moms of elementary, middle or high school kids, some were single, some were college girls themselves and it was just as my heart had desired. 
Another thing that literally took my breath away for a second, was the fact that out of a group of maybe 10 ladies, I was one of I think three that were white. After the UMC shooting in Charleston, Pastor Steven preached an unforgettable message titled “It’s In Your Hands” about racism that changed everything for me. I’ve had black friends, Hispanic friends, Asian friends, Muslim friends throughout my lifetime, but at that current season in my life literally everyone I knew and interacted with on a regular basis was white– just like me, and just like Lincoln. My heart was not comfortable when I realized that. In the sermon he talked about that it is OUR JOB to raise the next generation without the racism of our previous generations. It ends with us. It changed everything for me. Our neighbors were black and we didn’t even know their names and had lived beside them for years. Our church was majority white, our small group was 100% white. Every kid that we were friends with at the time was white. How could I teach my child that other people maybe different colors but are the same as us– loved, chosen, wanted, and valued by God– if we literally never interacted with anyone that looked different from us? I couldn’t imagine waiting until he was in kindergarten for him to meet a diverse group of people. Diverse immediately skyrocketed to the top of my list when we decided to look for a new church. So, when I got to eGroup and I looked around the table I knew that God was with me there, and this is where the future was for us. Our big mighty God that created all the things shows up in the tiniest of details in our prayers, hearts and thoughts and it is the greatest. He wants great things for us, for us to do great things and it is never too late to get started. 
So, back to Jonelle. We hit it off immediately, and after talking to her some the following Sunday at church we discovered that we both had been dabbling in the paleo and autoimmune paleo diet (literally I had not met any actual person in real life at that point that had either heard of it, or wasn’t a total skeptical about the whole “gluten free craze”) for a variety of conditions, one of which was eyelid eczema that I really thought I was the only one in the world that had that! Talk about a me too! moment. The more we got to know each other, the more it became clear that we were family through and through. This woman is so special to me! And being in her eGroup was such a gift and the doorway to what would become a seemingly endless stream of blessings flowing from this church into our lives as sermons, people, serving opportunities, the stories we get to witness and be part of.. it’s unreal how we see God moving literally on a daily basis through connections we’ve made at this church. As Lincoln got older it got more difficult to get to eGroup (and to stay the entirety of the time) but I still consider myself to be a part and I honestly doubt I’ll ever leave… 
This woman’s beauty is breathtaking inside and out, I am beyond grateful that we get to share in this season together! We met one chilly day at Sola in Raleigh for some fun headshots for blog things to come for her (she’s an avid and talented writer, in addition to all the other things that she rocks at….) and it was a total blast standing on stuff and climbing around the tables like we were the only people in there (we weren’t). Thankful barely covers it. So thankful for this family.