Call The Midwife

I’d like to preface this whole post by saying that the answer to these questions are just my own opinion and what was best for me and my family. Your birth choices are YOURS and you should feel confident in them. Making informed and confident decisions for YOUR birth is what matters.

Here’s some frequently asked questions about why we chose a midwife after 2 previous hospital births and our experience using a birth center.

1. Why did you choose a midwife/birth center?

The factors that drew us to the birth center were; water birth option, private space, one person overseeing my entire pregnancy care from start to finish as well as the birth and postpartum, no lengthy stay, encouragement of natural birth, choice of pushing positions, proximity to our home, visitors allowed, more direct contact with my provider, more intentional prenatal appointments, less pressure to make certain medical decisions.

We originally looked into a birth center in the height of Covid when the idea of being in a hospital was not ideal for us as a family.  I wanted my parents to be there and I didn’t want to push/labor in a mask if I didn’t have to. Although those are pretty petty reasons, it’s what launched us into researching hospitals vs. birth centers.

I had always wanted to have a water birth and a midwife but those weren’t really an option in Midland. With more resources here in Houston, we knew we’d be able to have the birth we’d wanted. As we were deciding which route to go, we watched the documentary called The Business of Being Born. It was very eye opening for us and, with me being very low risk in all categories; we decided that a birth center was for us.

2. What were the differences between the birth center and a hospital?

Because my labor was so fast and furious, I’m not sure of how different the laboring process would have been from start to finish. However, I loved that I got to be in constant communication with my midwife. I labored at home for as long as possible, updating her on contractions and she told me when it was time to come in. Laboring at home as long as possible was more comfortable and felt safe to me. The birth center is really for just that; the birth. When I got to the birth center, I just got to keep laboring. There wasn’t a line to register, wait for a room, wait to get checked, etc. My labor wasn’t stalled.

Another difference was the freedom. With both of my previous births, I’d asked for intermittent monitoring on the baby and, while I technically got it, that came with wires still hanging around my neck and the heart monitoring band around my belly the whole time. With my midwife, she checked the baby’s heart rate with a Doppler after each contraction and had me move if needed, especially when I was pushing. I was also free to birth where I wanted to; in the bed, pool, tub, birthing stool, floor, etc. in any position I wanted to; side lying, back, squatting, lunging, etc. I know most hospitals allow some of those options but in my experience, I got lots of pushback and “discussions” when I chose something perfectly safe that was against the usual hospital protocol. I didn’t want pushback. I wanted someone who would let me trust my body and my instincts to birth how I needed to. Another freedom that was important to me was the freedom to eat during labor. I know that hospitals don’t let you eat “in case” you need an emergency C-section but that’s not really true. Its in case they need to put you completely under and your aspirate, that RARELY happens. My labor with Winifred was 27 hours and by the end I could barely push and needed forceps to get her out, I’ve always wondered how it would have changed if I’d been allowed to nourish my body during labor. I wanted to be able to eat, and I was able to do that with the birth center.

The BIGGEST difference for me with the birth center was the postpartum experience. After Elijah was born we got almost an hour and a half of skin-to-skin and nursing in before anything else happened. It was peaceful and productive for Elijah and I to bond so immediately without being poked and prodded. My midwife did his APGAR screening and then let us be for a while. I can’t say for sure, obviously, but part of me thinks this might have really helped with breastfeeding being successful this time around. We also got to go home that night. 3 hours after Elijah was born we were in the Whataburger drive though headed home. We got to sleep our first night in the quiet of our own home; it was incredible. The next day, my midwife came to our home to do Elijah’s newborn screening and that was truly a gift. I didn’t have to load everything up to take him in after just giving birth. She also did his 2 week checkup and checked on my healing as well. It was amazing to have us both checked on at the same time.

3. How was the cost different than using an OB/Hospital?

Great question, but this is different for everyone depending on your insurance. Most insurances will actually cover partial costs of using a midwife, doula, or birth center! We have a high deductible plan with an HSA account, so we chose not to go through our insurance because we would have paid out of pocket anyway. Our total cost for prenatal, birth, and postpartum care was $4,200 and we paid most of it with our HSA. It was very nice to just pay it all upfront.

4. Did you tear? Could she stitch you up?

Yes, most midwives are trained to stich your perineum if you were to tear in labor. Fortunately, I did not tear badly this time. With Winnie I had a 3rd degree tear, with Daphne I had a 2nd degree tear, but this time I had a minor tear that did not need stitching. I credit that to the water birth and pushing in a lunge position.

5. What if something went wrong?

Most midwives are VERY trained. My provider had a list of over 20 complications she had successfully dealt with in the birth center. She has delivered over 1000 babies and has an extensive list of credentials and trainings. When I asked her this question, she said “You know, I’m not a hero. I know when I’m out of my league and I know when it’s time to go”.  To be honest, I trusted our guts. I knew my body and she knows birth. The birth center was very close to the hospital, so I wasn’t worried about being too far away if we were to need to get there. She looked for any sign of complication during my pregnancy and monitored me closely during the birth. I was confident in her and trusted her fully. The most common reasons for a hospital transfer are failure to progress, pain relief, and exhaustion. We had a plan to combat those reasons. I didn’t go in a “no hospital under any circumstances” mentality. We would have gone there had we needed to.

6. How did you combat anxiety/fear of something going wrong?

This sounds cliché, but I had faith. This was what my body was created to do and I trusted that this was the best environment/situation for all of us. My pregnancy had 0 complications and there was no reason to believe I couldn’t do this. I prayed over this baby every single day and I trusted that I’d done everything possible to ensure this babe’s safe entrance into the world. God was in charge and we knew that.

That doesn’t mean I wasn’t scared at times, I mean I was about to push a hummer out of a compact parking spot, but making decisions out of fear isn’t a way to make decisions. Anxiety/fear are a part of life, they shouldn’t rule your life.

I made a list of concerns and went over them with the midwife and she told me what would happen in each scenario. Knowing there was a “plan” let me take things as they came.

7. How do I know if a midwife is right for me?

Shop around! Interview midwifes, birth centers, doulas and figure out the best provider for you. You have time to switch if you need to. Some midwives and doulas can come with you to the hospital if a birth center isn’t what you want.

Here’s some questions you can ask a provider to see if they’re right for you.

             Do you take insurance? What’s the self pay price? How many babies have you delivered? What’s the percentages of births you’ve had to transfer to hospital? What kind of emergencies have you handled? Have you resuscitated babies? What are your certifications? If I transfer to the hospital, will you accompany me? Are there any type of birth you don’t support? What is your stance on vaccines/circumcision? What is your policy on visitors? Can I have a birth photographer? Do you provide other options for the glucose test? What if my birth overlaps with another client? Do you provide prenatal nutrition advice? What’s your experience with homeopathy? If I tear, can you stitch me up? Can I keep my placenta? Do you offer postpartum care? Are you lactation certified? What happens if I go into preterm labor? What are you procedures for immediately after birth? How can I stay in contact with you? Why did you become a midwife? What is your birth support style? What are my options for pushing? Do you offer comfort measures? Can I eat in labor?

Don’t be afraid to ask any questions, especially if it’s important to you. Your provider works FOR you and with you, it’s important to be on the same team!

The Birth Story: Elijah James

I woke up the morning of 2/24 and I was DONE. Done being pregnant. I was ready to meet this baby, call them by name, and start this life as a family of 5. I couldn’t stand this season of waiting for another day. After feeding the girls breakfast, I was bouncing on my yoga ball and all the emotions bubbled to the surface. With “Encanto” in the background, hot tears rolled down my cheeks as I begged God for today to be the day. The whole pregnancy I put this baby and the birth in God’s hands, but this day, I felt so desperate and started to doubt if this birth would be what I had selfishly planned.

I had a midwife appointment scheduled for 2 that afternoon to check on baby. Out of desperation, I asked if my midwife would sweep my membranes. She immediately responded asking if I could come in at 11:30 instead (bless her soul). When I arrived at the appointment, I think she could see my desperation and said “alright, lets have a baby!”. She swept my membranes and told me I was dilated to a 2, I had a contraction while in the office and she felt that I was going to be in labor really really soon. I clung to that. She asked if I wanted an herbal concoction to “help things along” to which I replied “YUUUUUUP”. The concoction was red raspberry leaf tea, other herbs, and a tablespoon of Castor oil. Now, I know I swore I wouldn’t do castor oil but Desperate 41 weeks pregnant Shannon had no memory of that declaration.

I drank the tea over a 30 minute period and got home around 12:30 PM while the girls were having lunch. I put them down for naps and my belly started to tighten, almost like a Braxton Hicks. It was tight for about 30 minutes and was just a tad uncomfortable. I thought, “ok this is gonna happen anytime now”, so I wiped down the kitchen, moved the laundry, and tidied downstairs. After the pressure released, I laid down to take a nap around 2:15. Thank goodness, because at 3:00 on the dot I was rudely awakened by a contraction so strong it took my breath away.

Let me pause and give you a quick run down of how I envisioned this birth going (feel free to laugh at me because WHY DID I PLAN ANYTHING AGAIN?!). I’d watched countless birth videos and read ungodly amounts of birth stories of women who had peaceful births; candle lit ones where they breath their babies out without a sound, rooms filled with worship music and essential oils diffusing, hours of labor to prepare their mind and body for the process. That’s what I “planned”. I’d go into labor and have a few hours at home while the contractions strengthened and lengthened. I’d shower, pack the rest of our essentials for the birth center, and rally the troops (our parents) to watch the girls and meet us at the birth center. I’d have active labor at the birth center with my carefully curated birth playlist, essential oils diffusing, birth affirmation cards, and practiced hypnobirthing techniques. I’d get into the birth tub and breath/peacefully push my baby into this beautiful world. Spoiler: literally none of that happened, except for me having the baby part. That for sure happened.

The contractions didn’t let up as I stood to breath through them. Most contractions were like a roller coaster, ramping to an intense peak, and then letting up on the decline. These contractions went straight to the top, giving me no warning. I was  already having to moan and groan through them.  They lasted, in my mind, about 30 seconds. After about 3-4 of those, Will came out of his office to see me on hands and knees over my yoga ball and said “Yeah, I think I’m done working today.” I nodded, concerned, because I wasn’t really sure what stage of labor I was in. The contractions were STRONG, but short, but also 3 minutes apart. They weren’t following the rules! I was supposed to contact my midwife when the were 4-5 minutes apart lasting 1 minute for an hour. I’d only been in “labor” for 30 minutes but I texted her anyway asking what to do. She told me to get in the bathtub and see what happens. Will ran me a bath and helped me breath through several more contractions. I opened my eyes to see Will looking a little panicky. This was about the time ‘be careful what you pray for’ came to mind. I’d begged for this, I wanted to be in labor so badly. Boy, did God deliver.  He asked what I wanted to do, I told him to call the parents and pack the car. I really thought I was going to have a surprise home birth. With every contraction I could feel the baby moving down and I knew I was in active labor. It still blows my mind how women’s bodies just KNOW.  I couldn’t think straight. The only thought in my brain was getting through each contraction. After only 15 minutes in the tub the contractions were lasting 1 minute and were 2 minutes apart. It was 4:00PM and it was time to get the girls up for naps. Oops. My midwife told me to come in.  Will sprang into action. He simultaneously woke up the girls, got them a snack, called the parents again, and called out neighbor to come watch the girls until Will’s mom arrived, all in the time it took me to dry off from the bath. He then helped me get dressed and downstairs.

 I stopped in front of the truck door and had a contraction. Will gently said “babe, we have to get in the car.” and I replied “I REALLY don’t want to have this baby in the truck!” to which he replied, “I know, that’s why we REALLY need to get in and go”! In the 7 minutes it took to get to the birth center I had 3 contractions, having to lift myself from the seat to relive the pressure in my cervix. Pulling in the driveway of the birth center I felt relief and fear at the same time. I was really about to do this, God willing, I was going to have this baby unmedicated.

We got into the birth center and my midwife immediately had me get in the bed so she could check me. “Yep, you’re about 9cm and almost ready to go”. Excuse my language but I replied with a big ole fat “Holy shit”. Part of me was terrified that it was happening so fast but most of me was relieved that I wasn’t being overly dramatic about the labor pains. I was on my side for one contraction and hated that position, so I moved to all fours over the birth ball on the bed. My midwife checked the baby’s heart rate and listened for a few more contractions the said, “alright, if you’re wanting to get in the tub, now is definitely the time!” So in I went and everything is a little fuzzy from here. It was about 4:40 when I got in the tub and my parents got to the birth center. I had a few contractions in the tub and the midwife monitored the baby’s heart rate consistently. My body was telling me to get on all fours again, that position felt the most natural/comfortable for me. My body knew what it needed to do and all I had to do was listen.

It got primal from here. Primal is the word I use because nature was completely in control and I let it happen. The contractions were relentless and strong. I had to breathe deeply and loudly to cope with the pressure. My mom said I sounded like an Orca whale but it was extremely helpful to make those orca sounds. All of a sudden I felt a drop into my cervix and extreme pressure as my midwife suggest I get onto the birthing stool to push. “NOPE,” I say, “the baby is coming NOW”. She said “alright then, if you need to push, you go ahead”. My eyes had been closed the entire time and all I could visualize was the baby coming out, tunnel vision. I pushed and felt relief. Working with my body was a relief. Now, make no mistake, I did not do this quietly. Here are just a few things that came out of my mouth as I pushed this baby into the world.

1. Mother F****R!

2. Ok, I’m pooooooooping.

3. GET IT OUT OF MEEEEEE!
4. How much of it is out?!?! (ring of fire moment)

My midwife gently coached me, asking me to push if I felt comfortable and telling me to do a little or big push. After about 4 pushes, the head was out. I just wanted to be done; I wanted the baby in my arms. The baby we prayed for and waited so long for, I wanted to hold. I pushed with everything I had and gasped as I felt the shoulders emerge and my baby slipped out at 5:11 PM. I couldn’t breathe as I heard Will shout, “IT’S A BOY BABE, IT’S A BOOOOOOOY!!” I was clutching my baby, he was in my arms. My sweet baby boy.  Will and my mom high fived as I worked my way to sitting in the tub. I was in shock. I couldn’t believe how fast he’d come into this world. I couldn’t believe that God had given me the redemptive birth I begged for.  He was here.

Elijah James, a gentle soul from the beginning. As soon as he was born he made a few squeaks to tell us he was breathing, then promptly fell asleep in my chest. We lay in the tub as I delivered my placenta and processed what had just happened. I’d never seen any of my placentas/umbilical chords, so that part was amazing. My midwife showed us all the parts and checked to make sure it had all made it’s way out. Elijah had started searching for the breast and immediately latched. My heart swelled. My mom cut his chord when it was time and we made our way though the bed. My angel of a midwife checked me for tears, massaged my uterus, and brought me some toast and orange juice. Will, the baby and I snuggled in bed for a bit while Elijah nursed like a CHAMP. My midwife weighed him and got him all checked out, 9lbs 7oz. BIG boy.

A few hours later we were ready to go home! It was about 8:30 PM and we wanted to make sure the girls were asleep before we arrived home with the baby. So, naturally, we stopped at Whataburger before going home to sleep in our own bed with our perfect little BOY.

I’m so grateful for our village that was there when we needed them; our amazing neighbor who swooped in so we could leave, both sets of parents offering incredible amounts of support, wonderful friends providing meals, and a midwife who trusted me to trust my body and helped us have a miraculous birth.

Thank God I Failed Geometry: Part Two

The first part of our love story seemed like a teenage fairytale, two kids completely in love with blinders on. We broke up because we needed to grow, not because we fell out of love or someone did something worthy of a Taylor Swift breakup song. In my opinion, those are the hardest breakups to move on from, the ones where your heart is still completely in it but your head tells you its not right. More on that in part one.

I’ve been putting off writing this part for a few reasons. One, because it’s messy, Will and I aren’t even sure of the timeline exactly. Two, because it’s ugly, mistakes were made and the fact that we are insanely human gets painfully exposed. However, I am going to do my best to disclose the realness. We were apart, so there are two sides to this story, here’s mine.

The breakup happened in January of my senior year in high school and the next few months are a total blur. I went to school, went to soccer practice, came home and listened to the CDs Will burned over and over, wrote a text to Will, deleted it, cried myself to sleep, then did it all again the next day. We didn’t talk for months, only some really intense Myspace stalking to see if he’d fallen for some sorority chick. We weren’t together because of how we viewed Jesus, and disagreed on the details we deemed crucial for having a relationship with Him. This sent me into a tailspin really figuring out if it was worth losing our relationship over. I dove head first into my youth group and asked every question I could to anyone who would listen. I devoured scripture and sought refuge in immersing myself with other Christians who brought me closer to God.  I was devout and headstrong that I’d made the right choice to stand my ground. I was “consumed with Christ” and began to feel him soften my heart and lean into the fact that I did not actually know everything there was to know about everything. Hiding my broken heart behind the bible was easy, letting the bible fix my broken heart was on a whole other level.

In March, I started dating a boy I’d met on a mission trip the previous summer. It ended pretty quickly in late April, leaving me dateless to prom. He still wanted to go with me but ya girl was feeling extremely “I don’t need no man” and decided to go stag to prove that point. The night before prom I get a text at 10PM from Bobby and Nathan, you met them in part one, telling me to come outside to hang out. I did, and well well well, who was there? Will. My heart fell out of my butt as walked over to their car, trying to look as calm as humanly possible. We all chatted like it was a completely normal thing, even though Will and I hadn’t talked in months and I still wanted to marry him, but it was cool. I was cool. We all talked for hours before I went inside to go to bed. I mean, you can’t have bags under your eyes for prom, right?? While falling asleep, I get a text from Will. “Hey, if you need a date, I’ll rent a tux and go with you.” Remembering it, it sounds like the ending scene of a John Hughes movie where the girl gets her dream prom date. However, the stubborn Shannon back then really felt like she had to go alone and prove that she really was “I am woman, hear me roar”. I went to prom alone and it was the right thing to do. I needed to know I could do it. It wasn’t until we were married that my mom told me Will texted her that night asking how I looked and if I was ok. The perfect man.

The rest of the summer, we didn’t speak again and only saw each other once in a random movie theater parking lot sighting. My heart ached for him but my stubbornness was stronger. My plan was to still go to Tech and pretend like I wouldn’t be looking for Will around every corner. Fall semester started it didn’t take long for both of us to cave and text each other. We gave into wanting to see each other, but completely ignored the huge issues we clearly still hadn’t figured out. We silently agreed not to talk about them, both of us knowing full well that they didn’t go away. The whole Fall semester was spent pretending to date and every other weekend having the “we can’t do this anymore” conversation, only to be back at it again before the next weekend. A bunch of our A&M friends came up for the Tech/A&M game and we all stayed at Will’s apartment. My friends kept asking what the heck was going on with us and I didn’t know what to tell them. I didn’t even know what the heck was going on, all I knew was that life without him in any capacity was not something I wanted.

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In late October, Will went to his first Raider Awakening Retreat. This was a retreat through the Catholic Student Association, and he had the most amazing time. It opened his eyes to a lot of things about our relationship and his relationship with God. He came back so on fire, and I was terrified. I should have been so elated for him, happy that he felt the Lord tug on his heart so strongly. However, I was full of fear that he’d had a revelation that we weren’t meant to be together. He wanted to meet me at Starbucks to talk about his retreat, I didn’t eat all day and I resented him for picking a Starbucks. We first made things official in a Starbucks, why would he pick one to obviously end things with me. My hands shook and my stomach churned the whole time he spoke. He told me all that he’d experienced and how his heart had changed that weekend. I listened as he spoke gently about how strong his faith had gotten and how sure he was about everything he believed in. He then asked me, if I’d wanted to go with him on the next one. Now, this should have made my heart soar. Hearing the man of my dreams express his love for the Lord and then him inviting me to grow with him?! Ideal, right? But I freaked out. My young, stubborn, kinda selfish self took that invitation as him trying to convert me (which he wasn’t). I said some unkind things and made my exit. I texted him later that night to apologize, but we decided that there was no way this could work. We were done. Or so I thought.

We didn’t talk for all of November 2011 and most of December. I don’t remember who contacted who first but the week before school let out for Christmas Break, we attended Carol of Lights together. This Texas Tech tradition is sacred and meant to be shared with the people you love. I wanted to go with Will. We had a great time freezing our butts off and went to dinner afterward. At dinner, I knew. We were both tired of it. Tired of the back and forth, the heart break, the crushed hopes, the yo-yo of it all. We were tired. We also didn’t want to get our families involved again after al this time. Going home for break meant a lot of time with our families and we didn’t want to put them through any of it if we didn’t know where we stood. We decided that we wouldn’t call or text each other no matter how much we wanted to. It wasn’t healthy, it was never going to work, and we couldn’t force it any more. We needed to move on and find other people to spend our lives with. It broke me, but I knew we had to.

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When school started again, I looked for any and every distraction I could find to help me move on, Will immersed himself in the Catholic Student Association. Will and his friends had been my community for my first few months at Tech and I found myself desperate for somewhere to belong. I had “rushed” a Christian Sorority in the Fall and didn’t get in. I truly thought those were going to be my people, but that didn’t end up being the case. Then, I’d heard through a friend of Will’s that Chi Omega was doing Spring Rush for the first time (they never did it again at my time at Tech)! I felt God tug on my heart “those are your people” he said. And the girl who swore up and down she would NEVER go greek became a part of an organization that changed her life. I also found The Wesley Foundation and cannonballed into every activity or small group they offered. It was home and I felt like I had a future beyond Will.

I met an incredible boy at The Wesley Foundation and we dated from the end of February-August of 2012. It was a relationship full of challenges and growth. I’ll forever be thankful for that. But we realized we weren’t each other’s forever person and I started my sophomore year with another heartbreak.

The whole year was a blur. I learned so much, found some passions, made some TERRIBLE decisions, dated some wrong people, made the best friends, went to therapy, and learned to stick up for myself. Most importantly, I came to realize that I was going to marry Will or no one at all. As dramatic as that sounds, it was true.

My sophomore year at Tech came to an end in May 2013. My best friends and I found a house and got the chance to move our stuff in before I left to go to Houston for the summer! Watching a movie with my roommate (shoutout Katy) two days before I was set to leave, I see Will’s name pop up on my phone. I couldn’t breathe. He was graduating in 3 days, why in the heckin bob would he be texting me?! I knew he was leaving; he got a great job and was (from what I could tell from FaceBook stalking) dating a super cute Catholic girl. SO. WHY. WAS. HE. TEXTING. ME?!? It took me an hour to open the message because I just couldn’t handle it. Confusion flooded my brain as I opened it. Are you ready?! It said:

“Hey I have two of your movies, do you want them?” LOL. I had no idea what to say, it took me another 45 minutes to respond. Through a series of messages I agreed to pick them up in the morning. Driving to his apartment, I could feel my pulse in my entire body thinking about seeing him again, even if it was just for a second. I pull up to his building, he walks to my car, I roll down my window, he hands me the movies and says “Wanna go to lunch or something?”. Y’all, when I say I almost threw up, I almost blew chunks. On the outside, I appeared to be cool and said yes.

We ate lunch and talked for hours, catching up on the last year and a half and talking about ways we’ve grown. (I learned later that he’d broken up with his girlfriend the day before this lunch.) I invited him back to my house (yikes, Shan) and we danced in my empty dining room to a song we danced to when I was 16 years old. Aaaaaaand I fell in love all over again. We spent the whole rest of the day together and I was really freaking out because what the farking fark did this all mean?! HE WAS LEAVING. I get a text at 11PM from Will inviting me over to play games with his roommates and friends. I was supposed to leave the next day to drive back to Houston, but I went anyway. We stayed up until 5am talking about all the things we were too afraid to talk about a year and a half ago. We talked about where we were willing to compromise and we got on the same page pretty damn quickly. I couldn’t believe what was happening and I was unsure of what this all meant, but I HAD to get some sleep or I was going to crash my car. We decided to regroup, keep this on the down-low, and talk more when he was back in Houston before starting his job.

The next week, we met at my house and had a really intense, logical talk. We both agreed that if we were going to do this again, we were in it for the long haul. We couldn’t keep putting our friends, family, and ourselves through this rollercoaster if it wasn’t going to be a forever thing. He confessed to feeling the same way I did for so long. It was “us” or  nothing. We went down the list of things that had kept us apart for all this time and made sure those weren’t still issues. I softened and realized that I didn’t have to be so stubborn, we really could make this work. He had areas he came to see he could bend on, too. That night, we chose to make it re-official. My heart was full.

From there, the story moves pretty quickly. We got back together in June of 2013 and Will moved to Midland in later that month. The new school year started and he spent almost every weekend with me in Lubbock. The ring shopping happened in November 2013 and on December 30, 2013, the man of my dreams got down on one knee and asked me to be his wife. We planned the whole wedding in 10 days and then had to wait a year and a half to get married! On June 6th, 2015 I married the most incredible human I know. We built a life I adore, and he’s given me two babies I can’t believe are ours.

I met the love of my life at 16. I was an insanely tough road to get where we are today, but I’m so grateful for each and every bump that got us here

 

 

 

25 Weeks With Daphne Grace

How far along? 25 Weeks
Baby is the size of a:  LARGE Cucumber, Prairie Dog, Little League Baseball Glove

Total weight gain:  +5 lbs. total

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Stretch marks? No new ones

Baby Development: This week, Daphne Grace is growing some HAIR! Her hair is thickening and most likely has color (hopefully red). Her nostrils are opening up this week as she practices breathing in the amniotic fluid to mature her lungs. Her sense of balance is finishing up and she will, hopefully, be rotating herself into the birthing position. She is almost 2 lbs. and is about 14 inches long!

Movement:  This week was a little trying for me in the movement department. I don’t know if I was just really distracted or if she has become more chill but I feel like she moved less this week. To be honest, it freaked me out majorly. I did about 10 “Kick counts” this week and she passed every time. It might be all in my head.

Food cravings: Nothing specific but salty foods tasted especially yummy to me

Miss Anything?  I really really miss shopping for normal people clothes. I feel like I’m throwing a pity party for myself but I haven’t bought non-maternity clothes in almost 2 years and it makes me sad; especially in the summer when the clothes are so cute.

Symptoms: My energy levels have been very up and down. I’ll go from insanely productive to completely exhausted in seconds. My sciatic nerve has been sensitive after a day or working but its nothing the good ole pregnancy pillow can’t fix! Daphne Grace is also still tap dancing on my bladder, so peeing every 10 minutes helps me get my steps in.

Wedding rings on or off? Still on

Mood? Emotional again. I look at Winnie or Will and just cry from gratitude!

Winifred Update: Winnie J is a full on EXPLORER. She is obsessed with our DVDs at home, especially the shiny Marvel movies. She will have a full on conversation with you, very loudly. She is eating us out of house and home, too! She has become quite the daddy’s girl, and looks at her daddy like he hung the moon. I am so in love with their relationship. She visited the splash pad for the first time and loved it! She is officially 10 months and I can’t believe how fast time is flying.

Looking forward to:  PACKING. I have made all my lists and I’m so ready to finally pack for the beach.

 

24 Weeks With Daphne Grace

How far along? 24 weeks
Baby is the size of a:  Eggplant, GI Joe, and Atlantic Puffin

Total weight gain:  3lbs total

Stretch marks? The previous ones from WJ are making their appearance again

Baby Development: Daphne Grace’s lungs are now producing the substance that will help them inflate when she is born. She is a foot long! She is already developing her taste buds and will be able to start to taste what I eat through the amniotic fluid.

Movement:  Nighttime is DG’s favorite time of day. As soon as I lay down to relax, she is ready to PARTY!
Food cravings: Nothing

Miss Anything?  I miss being able to fall asleep at my own will.

Symptoms: I got hit with a stomach bug or something, y’all. Monday morning I was supposed to take my glucose test. On the home after dropping WJ at daycare, I started to feel so nauseous. I tried to fight through it and drink that nasty glucose drink for my test. Whelp, about 5 sips in, I violently vomit everything. The nausea continued all week long, the vomiting continued until Tuesday morning. Just waiting for it to go away because I have no interest in this 2nd trimester nausea business.
Wedding rings on or off? Still on

Mood?  Exhausted and so nauseous.

Positive Moments This Week: This week I’m immensely grateful for WJ’s daycare. They are patient, companionate women and I’m so thankful that they love Winnie so well. I had to rely on them a lot this week with my sickness and I honestly don’t know what I would do without them.

Winifred Update: Y’all, my kid is FUN! She’s come into her laugh and thinks that everything is so funny! She had her 9-month appointment this week and handled it like a champ. Her pediatrician says that she is right where she needs to be. Winnie grew from the 14th percentile to the 30th percentile in weight, so we are super excited about that! Winnie is also LOVING swim lessons! She was born to be in the water.

Looking forward to:  A week without nausea, haha. I’m hoping this clears up and I can enjoy my baby again.

23 Weeks With Daphne Grace

How far along? 23 weeks
Baby is the size of a:  Barbie Doll, Chinchilla

Total weight gain:  2lbs

Stretch marks? None! Thank you, Jergens

Baby Development: Daphne Grace is a growing bean! Her lungs are developing in overtime this week, which makes mama happy! She is getting fatter by the day and I can’t wait to squeeze her chubby cheeks. Her skin is still transparent and her veins and arteries are developing as well. She is currently a little over a foot ling and weighs about a pound! Her inner eye components are also completely developed.

Movement:  This little jumping bug is constantly moving big time! We’ve started to feel her move on the outside, which is super exciting for Will.
Food cravings:

Miss Anything? Being able to bend over comfortably

Symptoms:  Getting super tired lately

Belly Button in or out?  WAY OUT THERE
Wedding rings on or off? Still on

Mood?  Exhausted and Emotional. Everything makes me cry and I nap when Winnie naps.

Positive moments this week: Will and I celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary and got to sneak away for a nice lunch together!

Winifred Update: Winnie J has made some awesome developments this week!    She has mastered the “N” and the “M” sound, which makes me hopeful that “mama” is going to be coming out of her sweet little mouth! Right now, everything is “Dada”, so I’m ready for my name! I’m pretty sure knows “NaNa” is her sitter because when we drive up to her house, she goes “Nana Nana Nana!”. It’s insanely adorable. She is also having more “conversational” language, looking at me when I talk to her and looking people in the eye when she talks as well.

Looking forward to:  SWIM LESSONS! Winnie J has started swim lessons and its my new favorite thing.

22 Weeks With Daphne Grace

How far along? 22 weeks
Baby is the size of a:  Water Bottle, Guinea Pig, Ear of Corn

Total weight gain:  None! I suspect that will change soon enough, though.

Stretch marks? Nope! Itchy belly is back, baby!

Baby Development: She is still working on that inner ear! In the womb, Daphne Grace is sleeping 12-14 hours a day. She is already practicing her fine motor skills by touching anything she can find in there. In our last ultra sound, she was using her umbilical chord as a toy! This week, her pancreas is beginning to create her own hormones.

Movement:  She is moving like CRAZY! Occasionally, she will flip over and make me almost puke, but I love knowing she’s ok in there. Her feet are on my bladder still, so that’s super fun.
Food cravings: I can’t get enough water!

Miss Anything?  I miss shopping for clothes that weren’t maternity. Expandable clothing can only take you so far.

Symptoms: I am having the longest, most vivid dreams! They go all night long and even continue after I get up and go back to sleep. The tips of my fingers and toes tingle on occasion, which is weird. I have to be careful lifting things or doing too much because my lower back aches like crazy. Hoping to walk some more with Winnie to help stretch that out.

Belly Button in or out?  In outer space
Wedding rings on or off? Still on

Mood?  Productive. I’ve been a machine when it comes to cleaning the house or getting my “stay at home mom” on!

Positive Moments This Week: Having my parents here was an absolute blast. They were so helpful in the transition from my classroom and Winifred could not adore them more. Will got me a desk of my own for the house and we now have the cutest little office setup!

Winifred Update: Winifred is making leaps and bounds in the development department! This week, she had scrambled eggs for the first time and is really mastering her chewing skills. I’ve been hesitant to let her practice because, quite frankly, I’m tired of cleaning up vomit 3 times a day. She is now eating solid chunky food with minimal gagging, so I’m counting it as a win! Winnie can now go from sitting to crawling and back on her own. She also pulled up on her own this week! We found her like this (see below) in her crib, and promptly lowered the crib. Her current favorite thing is BOOKS! She loves to help turn the pages and interact with the illustrations. Boy, does that make my teacher heart happy! She has been an awesome independent player. She can play by herself for a good 30 minutes without asking for much attention. Mornings are her favorite time of day!

Looking forward to:  Our first full week of summer vacation! I’ve got some fun outings planned for Winnie J and I can’t wait to watch her grow! Winifred is also entering her 7th mental leap, so I’m excited to see what kind of crazy that brings us.

If My Anxiety Won

Looking back, I think I’ve struggled with anxiety my whole life. It evolved or manifested itself in different ways, but it was always there.  In elementary school, I just thought I was “over-thinking” or being “too uptight” about what people thought of me. In Jr. High and High School I thought I was way too focused on food and counting calories. In my junior/senior year of college, I realized what true anxiety was and it began to take it’s toll. I was planning a wedding, student teaching full time, taking 12 hours, on the Executive Board of my sorority, leading a trip to Haiti, trying to find a job, and struggling big time with my eating habits. I was barely sleeping, becoming manic at night, I could barely eat anything, and was incredibly irritable with anyone around me.

Over the first year of our marriage, my anxiety became a road block for Will and I. Being in a new town, starting a new job, and losing a baby brought the anxiety to new levels. I was distant, tired, and extremely insecure. Will lovingly pointed out my behaviors, noticing when I would push him away. He gently asked what I needed and let me pour out my soul to him. I began to feel more comfortable talking about the anxiousness and the overwhelming feelings I was experiencing. Through the next year, I took control of my anxiety by taking back the power it had over me. I started to recognize my triggers and build up my mental stamina to cope. Some days are better than others and I still struggle to this day with crippling anxiety, but I realized I couldn’t let it win. There was so much I had to lose if my anxiety won.

If my anxiety won, I wouldn’t leave the house, afraid what other people would think of me.

If my anxiety won, I would lay awake at night replaying conversations, worried I sounded like an idiot.

If my anxiety won, I would stay at school until 10PM making sure every single child had their individual plan to master absolutely everything.

If my anxiety won, I would never let Will drive anywhere out of fear that he would get in an accident.

If my anxiety won, I wouldn’t let Winifred explore on her own in case she gets hurt.

If my anxiety won, I would eat only celery, because “a moment on the lips, forever on the hips”.

If my anxiety won, I wouldn’t have fingernails or nail beds. They would be destroyed by the coping mechanism of picking and biting.

If my anxiety won, I would never post pictures of myself because I didn’t lose the baby weight.

If my anxiety won, I would never sleep. I would be glued to Winnie’s side to make sure she was still breathing.

If my anxiety won, I would never stop cleaning in case someone randomly stopped by for a visit.

If my anxiety won, I would be calling my OB or Pediatrician for every little thing because it could be a BIG thing.

If my anxiety won, I would never eat with anyone else because the sound of them chewing would bring out the fiery beast.

If my anxiety won, I would go crazy trying to spend equal amounts of time with the ones I love so they won’t resent me.

If my anxiety won, I would be a shell of a person.

I could go on and on, but the truth is it wouldn’t do me any good. If I go too far down the rabbit hole, it becomes a super dark place. There is way too much joy in my world to go down the dark rabbit hole. God has blessed me beyond my wildest dreams and I’ll be darned if the enemy is going to steal my joy! I’m so grateful for Will and my doctors for hearing me, supporting me, and encouraging me to do what is best for my mental health.

We are stronger together. When I kept my struggles a secret, I got swallowed whole. When I shed light on the darkness,  the shadows ran away. If anxiety is something you struggle with, you are not alone. It is real and you are heard. Talk to someone, do things that make you feel stronger, don’t give up. You are loved.

I work through this daily. I don’t know if it’s something I’ll ever fully be in control of and I’m ok with that. The small victories will be HUGE victories.