First Road Trip

How does one pack for a 5 week old for one night?

Gather a box of 20 diapers, 2 packages of wipes, 10 bibs, and 5 burp cloths. Pack 4 days worth of clothes according to two different seasons (end of summer, beginning of fall), disassemble the bassinet, make sure you have the stroller and carrier (for options), and you should be good to go!

Check, check, check, check, and oh shoot, I forgot her pants!

Poor Anna had to go pantless on her first road trip. And the Parent of the Year Award goes to: Moi. As I was packing it was still in the 80s and this girl gets super hot, so she usually struts around in her short or long sleeve onesies sans pants all day. Of course it had to be in the low 70s and windy the weekend we decided to travel to Charleston, but at least it made for a funny long running joke and thank Heaven for tall cozy socks!

Her first weekend away from home was a success. We had no major catastrophes, Anna slept through the night (except to eat), and she enjoyed cuddle time and kisses from Uncle Dave and Aunt Kristen. We visited the beach for a bit and put baby tootsies in the sand. You could say this little lady is like her Mama and will one day be a beach bum. She took in the scenery and enjoyed feeling the wind blow through her hair--and let me tell you, the wind was brutal!

I wish we could've stayed longer but this was great practice for when we visit Uncle Troy and Aunt Carly for Thanksgiving in California for a week! There will be a lot more packing for that so I'm starting the list today and first on the list: PANTS!

I can't get enough of these tootsies!
With the wind at her back she hasn't a care in the world! 

Photo Sesh with Daddy! Ohh I could eat her up, I love her so!
I'm pretty sure if I had let go Anna would've blown away!

Any other fun first road trip stories out there? 


This Little Piggy Went to the Market

It started out as a walk that turned into dinner for two three. Wishing those "take them a meal" deals lasted forever we were stuck with either beans and rice at home or spending money by going out. Beans and rice didn't sound appetizing and spending $20 on a meal when we knew we had food at home didn't sit well with our wallets. As we strolled along the Greenway with the Charlotte skyline behind us we noticed the Farmer's Market was selling pumpkins. As we got closer we were excited to see they were selling their usual fruits and veggies as well. The Farmer's Market open on a Sunday?! 
Rows and rows of pumpkins just waiting to be carved!

And they even had pumpkins the perfect size for Anna!

They had the coolest selection of gourds and a very colorful array of pumpkins.

After perusing the fruits and veggies and agreeing we just had to buy some we decided our dinner wasn't going to be beans and rice nor was it going to be wasted on an overpriced meal. We were going to buy fresh fruits and veggies and cook our own farmer's market dinner! We picked out 4 delicious looking ears of corn, a few potatoes to mash, and we completed our meal with salted ham that the market was also selling. We couldn't walk away without buying a basket of very plump blackberries and a bag of apples, making sure to choose the apples we'd never heard of before, like Nittany apples and black mountain apples. I always thought the Farmer's Market was expensive but we left only spending $16! We had our meal for the evening plus fresh fruit for the week!

King's Drive Farmer's Market, with your luscious fruits, delectable vegetables, and prices that can't be beat, believe you me, we shall meet again and hopefully sooner rather than later! 


Confessions of a First Time Mom

Travis tells me I need to lighten up, but can I get an "Amen" from my sisters with young babies who try to go out in public and end up wishing you had just stayed inside in your pj's that you've been wearing for the past three days cuddling with your tiny babe?!

Let me just say, nursing a newborn full-time is hard...nursing a newborn in public is down-right impossible! And when you've got Miss Sloppy McGee as your daughter, it is out of the question to try to be graceful about it. This child has to wear a bib already! Plus I have to place a burp cloth under her in order to keep us both relatively dry. Maybe it's my fault, maybe the milk comes too fast for her, but in the end does it really matter who's to blame when both mother and child are dripping wet after every feeding? The nursing cover helps...kind of...not really at all. It's a two man job if you want to stay modest, and like I said, relatively dry. Travis has been a trooper when it comes to feeding time but I still freak out inside just waiting for that one nincompoop to come up to me and tell me how inappropriate I am for nursing while they try to enjoy their caramel latte on the other side of the Starbucks. Or for that moment when my boob pops out in front of the 8 year old boy while his mom stands by in disgust. Don't even think about sitting near a door lest a slight breeze may whip that cover off you so quickly your baby will be embarrassed for you! So my only solution to being modest and dry in public is this: make sure I have a pumped bottle with me everywhere I go or go out in increments of every 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Ahh, the life of a mother of a newborn.

Don't ever leave the house without an extra outfit, plenty of diapers, and a butt-load of wipes (pun intended). We've been lucky enough to follow these principles--well at least the first and second; the third we had an incident at Starbucks last week where we ran out of wipes--not good! Our baby is known for peeing and pooping at the same time while the old diaper is off and you're just about to lay the new one under her. We've learned to put the new diaper under before taking the old off just so the new one can catch whatever may come. Even then, it doesn't stop that gallon of pee to make its way up her back soaking her outfit or the projectile poop to hit daddy's hand. But it does give you a better assurance that you won't have as big of a mess to clean. When we were at Starbucks last week the time came to change Anna's diaper--after trying to nurse (remember the paragraph before? Downright impossible, I tell ya!). Thankfully the women's bathroom had a changing table. I laid Anna down on her disposable changing pad and began to get to work. As I was switching out diapers, I quickly realized I may have been a little too eager to change her because she not only peed but managed to squirt out some poop, all the while someone began knocking on the door! They must not of heard me say someone is in here! or heard Anna's cries because they knocked 5 more times; hello!! Lady with a baby here!!! The pee doused her new diaper and also went up her back drenching her too cute outfit I was very proud of picking out earlier that day. As I tried to regain control of the situation I realized I only had one more baby wipe to clean up the mess! Too many things were happening all at once, Travis wasn't there to help like he could've so easily at home, and on top of it all Anna was crying and began moving up the table only to hit her head a few times on the end. Somehow the lone baby wipe got the job done. I finally got a fresh diaper on her (the last one I had) and her new outfit (not as cute as the first) and jetted out of the bathroom. That's not the end of the story. After recounting to Travis what just took place I finally was able to enjoy drink my luke-warm salted caramel hot chocolate, not before spilling a bit down Anna's back, and yes, onto the new outfit I just changed her into, making it look like she pooped on that outfit too. Thank God my hot chocolate was luke-warm, but gee golly can we have just one more thing happen?! It'd really make this story that much better, eh?! By that time I was just ready to throw in the towel and call it a day. Travis let me and I walked away wishing and praying going out in public only gets easier..other Mama's out there, please tell me it gets easier!

Anna's cues for when she's working on something, i.e. don't change diaper until grunts and funny faces have ceased.


Anna Jubilee's Birth Story

If you would've told me I'd have to endure that much pain I don't know if I would've gone through with it. I would have begged for an epidural long before it was too late. Because, you see, when it comes to risk, pain, and anything where I know I'll get hurt, I'm a baby. Truly I am.

On the other hand, I'm also very stubborn and strong willed. When I have it in my mind to do something (or not do something), I do it (or not), no matter what. No one is going to talk me out of it.

So I had it in my mind to have a natural birth, and I went through with it, even when my nurse asked several times what my pain was on a scale of 1-10, 10 being I'm going to slap you if I don't get pain meds right now! Oh, a 6, I'd say. Yeah, well if she would've asked me that when I was dilated at 9 cm, I might have slapped her--if I had the energy. She didn't ask after 7 cm because by then it was too late. Hindsight, I'm glad I didn't have the choice after 7 cm because in the end I accomplished what I was set out to do--have a drug-free delivery relying on God to get me through so I could hold the child He created inside of me. And, oh, did I need Him more than ever!

As I type this, Anna is asleep on my chest. Our favorite thing to do. I look down at her in utter amazement. She is my child, I am her Mommy. This is something I've been dreaming of since I was a little girl. Some girls dream of their wedding, I dreamt of being a mommy. God gave me my heart's desire. He blessed me with the most beautiful gift anyone could give. And this gift means so much more because of what I had to endure to receive it. The joy that is brought after the pain is even better. Joy comes in the morning and she sure did!

I think Anna really wanted to give her Mommy the best birthday present because even though I went into active labor (4 cm dilated) at 1 pm on Thursday, the 20th, she didn't arrive until the next morning, on my birthday. From the beginning we were told I was going to have a long labor. She was posterior, so it was going to be more challenging to get her out. I was progressing very slowly even though my contractions were strong and every 3-4 minutes. We arrived at the hospital at 4 am on Thursday morning and waited in an observation room for 4 hours. By the time 8 am rolled around, the doctor told me I'd only dilated one cm since being there and if I stay they'd put me on Pitocin in 6 hours to speed things along. She advised me to go home and rest if I was set on having a natural delivery and to come back when contractions were so strong I couldn't walk or talk through them. So we went home.

I tried to rest, it didn't work. Every contraction felt like a kick in the back and I knew this baby was coming today (or so I thought). This is when I realized Anna's placement of being posterior meant I was going to experience back labor. My only relief was to have a fist in my back upon every contraction. And Travis had the perfect fist for the job (by the end he said he had to put himself in crazy positions in order to meet this demand and his hand was sore and swollen). We were back in the hospital 2 hours later. And we waited, and waited, and waited for 4 hours to get into a labor and delivery room. Apparently everyone and their sister were having babies that day too. Throughout this time contractions were getting stronger and I knew it was time to begin my breathing and relaxing techniques I learned in birthing class. If not for those, I would've never gotten through childbirth.

They finally found us a room and from there things progressed quickly until I reached 7 cm...and then I stalled. In my birthing class I was told "transition" (7 cm-9 cm) would be the toughest part of the delivery but also the shortest. Well for me it was the longest. I endured "transition" for 7 hours! At that point Travis said I went into a "zone". I was somewhere else. I didn't talk that entire time and it was as if nothing else in the world mattered but focusing on getting through every contraction, knowing each time I was one step closer to meeting my baby girl. Music played in the background, and even though the 15 song playlist was on repeat, each word gave me new energy to keep going. The pain was like nothing I've ever felt before but so was God's presence. Around 10 pm, the doctors suggested breaking my water to speed things along. There were no guarantees but what was guaranteed was the contractions would get worse. I decided to do it. They immediately found out meconium (baby poop) was in my water and when Anna would finally come they'd have to rush her away to make sure she hadn't ingested any during labor. Travis was discouraged and upset. I was bound and determined to get this baby out asap. But this lasted another 4 hours before I was allowed to push. And when they said contractions would get stronger, oh boy, they went to a level I never want to feel again! It was very difficult at this point to stay in my "zone"and to continue to breath and relax through each contraction. I needed Travis to hold my hand and dig his fist in my back from the beginning of each contraction or I'd struggle to get through it. My body was beginning to naturally push and a few times I thought I was ready too.

It wasn't until 2 am, Friday morning, when it was finally time to push! When that happened my mind got a new sense of energy, however, my body was completely exhausted and pushing for an hour and a half did absolutely nothing. I could see the discouraged looks in Travis and my nurse's faces. How in the world was I going to possibly get this baby out? I couldn't even hold my legs up or keep my chin to my chest by myself. It wasn't until my nurse suggested a tug-of-war move when I finally understood the feeling, and that's when all the doctors and more nurses began pouring into the room. I felt like I was on a movie set. The room had been dark the entire time and all of a sudden spotlights were shinning on me and 10+ people were up in my face and other regions of my body. After a few pushes one of the doctors realized Anna's head was positioned sideways and not in the normal face towards my back position (and yet another reason why this labor took so long!) So for every push I had a doctor inside of me trying to reposition Anna's head, and Travis, along with four other nurses and doctors, holding my legs and pushing my chin to my chest. The best part of pushing was hearing everyone in that room cheer for me for every push. I imagined my family and friends in that room with me encouraging me, rooting me on, and truly excited for what was to come. I really believe these doctors and nurses were genuine in their praises. Some of these doctors we saw the morning before (one who had told me to go home and rest). So they knew what I had gone through, and I believe they wanted to see it through to the end. That final push came and I knew this was it. I didn't want to push anymore so I pushed longer than I had before and that was it! Out came Anna Jubilee at 4:23 am on September 21st after 2 and a half hours of pushing and on her Mommy's birthday. Smiles, laughs, and tears filled the room, even by some of the nurses who see this stuff everyday! They whisked her away just like they said they would to make sure she hadn't swallowed any poop and to clean her up. I heard her little cries and all I wanted to do was hold her (and go to sleep!) When they finally put her on my chest, with her big blue eyes looking up at me, I was in heaven. It was love at first sight. 

Although it was a long, very painful, and at times discouraging delivery Travis and I both felt God's presence in that room, with us, and with Anna the entire time. We saw Him in our nurses, one who attends our church and the other who cried for us at the end. We saw Him in our friends who sent encouraging texts with scriptures and prayers. We saw Him in Anna whose heartbeat stayed constant for the entire labor and delivery even when her head was stuck in my canal for two hours (nurses continually commented in awe of how happy she was). We saw Him in our team of doctors who cheered for me as if they had known me for years. We saw Him protecting our daughter from ingesting meconium and contracting Group Beta Strep. We found Him in our joy that came in the morning after the suffering the night before. 

Anna (gracious, merciful) Jubilee (joy, celebration): How gracious and merciful is He! He has brought us much joy and so much to celebrate!


Grandparents, Aunts, and and an Uncle, Oh My!

The first three weekends of Anna's life were filled with an abundance of love, kisses, and cuddles. Who better to give all the above than her Grandma Terri, Grandpa Lon, Mami, Aunt Fanie, Auntie Em, and Uncle Zak?

Grandma Terri (Travis' mom) and Auntie Em were the first to meet Anna. They saw it all, and when I say "all", I mean they saw me give birth and held Anna when she was only minutes old!

Grandpa Lon (my dad), Aunt Fanie, and Uncle Zak met Anna when she was only a week old. With all those open arms she was never put down the entire weekend. 

Mami (my mom) came to visit when Anna was only two weeks old. We spent the weekend relaxing and Anna enjoyed cuddle time and kisses from her Mami.

We also went to church while Mami was here which was Anna's first Sunday at church! She's obviously pooped after a great service and enjoying her Sunday afternoon nap--my kind of lady :)

Reflecting back on these past few weekends I'm realizing the sacrifice it takes to becoming a mother. When my sisters and brother were here all I wanted to do was hang out until the wee hours of morning like we used to do talking, laughing, and making new inside jokes. Let me tell you though, one look from my sweet baby girl is well worth the sacrifice. Oh, those eyes get me every time!


These are a few of my favorite things

 Cuddling. Lots of hair everywhere, even on ears. Sponge bath time. Long fingers and toes. Funny faces and sporadic sweet smiles. Grunts and coos like a chipmunk. Tiny kissable lips. Big, beautiful eyes. Daddy loving his baby girl and taking such good care of his favorite ladies. Sleeping for 3-4 hour intervals. Staring like I've never stared before--who knew you could look at something for so long and it never get old?
My little monkey