Friday, March 6, 2015

Margot James

A month ago on an early Friday morning, February 6th to be exact, our lives changed forever. But let me back up a little bit.













The Monday a few days prior, I went into the birth center for a checkup since I was now 40 weeks + 3 days pregnant. They checked me saying baby was indeed coming and everything was getting ready for her arrival. I woke up Tuesday morning and told Lee I just didn't feel good. It was the first day I had felt like this. Bad. Icky. Just not normal. I tried to go about my day as I normally would.

Now that the unpacking was done, taxes sent off to our accountant, and the last of my to-do list checked off, it was time to get some meals made and into the freezer for after baby's arrival. Grocery shopping, chopping and prepping kept me busy most the afternoon. It was about 7:30 pm that things got exciting. I started having 'real' contractions, at least I hoped they were. They definitely felt different than the Braxton Hicks I'd been having for weeks now. They were coming every 4-7 minutes apart. We ate dinner, cleaned up, watched a show or two, all the while I kept having these contractions. I kept thinking, is this it? Are these the real deal? I would say something like that to Lee periodically, to which he'd reply, "yah, hmm...I donno babe." Around 11 we started getting ready for bed. They were about five minutes apart at this point. I told Lee that this might be it. Baby might finally be coming. I suggested we gather our things just in case. I text my doula to inform her of what was happening. She said it could be labor, but just to try rest if possible. Sleep. Take a bath. I didn't know how anyone could possibly sleep at a time like this, but I took her bath advice. I ran a bath, trying to stay calm, while Lee put together our birth playlist.  Haha, yes, Lee doesn't plan ahead as much as I do.

We had purchased an exercise/birth ball a week or so prior per request of my chiropractor and midwives, but it had lost some air and needed to be blown up again. Lee decided it was a good time to blow it up, but then the pump broke. So here I am, contractions every five minutes apart, in the bath, while Lee's heading off to Walmart at 2am to get another pump and put gas in the car, just in case. It makes me chuckle to think back on. A good while later he rushes back in with two replacement birth balls/pumps, just in case one of them didn't work. I was still in the same state. By about 4am, we were both exhausted from the anticipation and waiting, me from hours of contractions. We decide to try lay down and rest a bit. I think the contractions stopped around 6am, at which time we both fell asleep for a couple hours. We woke up disappointed, me especially so. I thought that was it. It made me nervous for what the real thing was going to be like because those were intense, so close together, and felt real to me. I was a little bit crushed and a lot exhausted.

Lee went into work late that Wednesday morning and I stayed in my pj's and tried to rest. I finished up a few more freezer meals to keep my mind off things. She was bound to come, eventually. At least that's what everyone kept telling me.

8pm rolled around and we were back in the same boat. Contractions had started up again, but tonight they were ten times more intense. So intense, that there was no question in my mind that this was the real deal. Baby was coming. But they were only coming 4-6 times an hour. It was nice to have more breathing time between them, but man, when one hit, I would grab Lee's hand and squeeze like my life depended on it. This went on. All night long. I text my doula again, and she said to let her know when they got closer together. We waited. I groaned and squeezed his hand, but they never got any closer. I was really exhausted by this point. They tapered off by early morning and again we slept. I awoke still having contractions, but only 2 or 3 an hour. I text my doula again and she said this could be prodromal labor, which is labor that starts and stops, sometimes for days on end.

Suddenly my life felt like the terrible movie Groundhog Day, and I was stuck in this long labor time loop. I couldn't bare the thought of going through this one more night without her actually coming. I was tired physically and emotionally. I was anxious to get to our midwife apt that afternoon. We were scheduled to do a non-stress test and check fluid levels for the baby. Lee picked me up after lunch and we decided to load up our bags just in case.



We headed off to what we thought would be a normal check up. I prayed for good news and that all those hours of contractions were indeed productive. When the midwife walked into the exam room and asked me how I was, I burst into tears. Not good. She's not coming. And these contractions won't stop, or progress. I blubbered on for a bit and she was so sweet and understanding, reassuring me that baby girl was indeed going to come, probably within days. That wasn't what I wanted to hear. Baby was active and sounded great on the non-stress test, and there was plenty of fluid surrounding her. She then checked my cervix and shockingly told us that I was 6cm dilated, 100% effaced, and that baby was coming within hours, for sure by tonight. We both looked at each other completely shocked at the news. I was so relieved. All those hours of contractions had been working. My body was preparing for baby and knowing I was already over halfway there was the best news ever.

The midwife said my body looked like it was in active labor, but my uterus wasn't contracting like it was in active labor. She said it must be resting from all the hard work it had been doing the last 20+ hours. She told us to go grab some lunch, get a quick adjustment at the chiropractor (which was a couple blocks away), and go home for a nap (since we only lived ten minutes away) until contractions picked up. We got the chiro adjustment and lunch parts done, but by that time contractions were coming every six minutes. I called her back and said we were coming in now.




We arrived a couple hours after leaving the appointment, and by then I was dilated to 8cm. We got settled into our room at the birth center and I got into the birthing tub. My husband started our relaxing labor playlist and lit my favorite candle. Our little room felt so homey, peaceful and relaxing. I spent the next 4 hours laboring in the water, working and breathing through contractions. I felt my water break shortly after I got into the tub which excited me.

Time passed more quickly than I imagined four hours taking. It's like I was there but not at the same time. Lee and my doula took turns passing me water and gatorade, and I sipped frequently. I was focused in on my breathing, breathing through the contractions as they came, each one more intense than the last. Each time one came, I squeezed Lee's hand until it was through. The warm water felt good but my low back was feeling so much pressure. The nurse came and checked baby's heart rate frequently, and every time I heard it, it made me want to meet her that much more. Three or so hours in, I was feeling tired and like things should be progressing more quickly than they were. The midwife came in and said she wanted to do a membrane sweet to make sure nothing was blocking baby from coming. They helped me out of the tub and onto the bed. This is where it got really intense.

The next three hours were full of the hardest work I've ever done in my life. Three hours of pushing with all the energy I could muster. I don't think I could have done it without the amazing team around me. My husband was my best cheerleader, right next to my face, whispering encouragement through every single contraction and push. My doula was on my other side, putting cool wash clothes on my forehead, cheering me on as well. The nurse and midwife were amazing at helping me know how to push, but I honestly felt like she was never going to come out.

Midnight came and went and still no baby. As each contraction came and went, I felt like the last bit of energy and will to push drained out of me. I was worried I wouldn't have any left to finish. I knew I had to push this baby out and soon, or I was gonna give up. I gave those last few pushes my very all, and will never forget them all cheering, saying she's coming, she's coming, she's coming! I remember my midwife saying reach your hands down and grab her. I did and pulled my perfectly fresh, new daughter onto my chest and then breathed the biggest sigh of relief. She's here! She's perfect! Lee and I kept looking at each other and then at her in awe. Our daughter was finally in our arms. I will never forget that moment. It was 12:28 am on that unforgettable Friday morning. I instantly felt the sweetest relief sweep over my exhausted, sweaty body. I did it. I had just birthed a little life into the world. It was the hardest, most amazing and rewarding thing I've ever done. I'm still in awe of the whole process and that I actually did it. It's like my whole life as a woman I doubted that I could really do it, deliver a baby naturally, and here I had gone and done just that. I was so proud and so happy that it was over.

We spent the next four hours laying on the bed, soaking up this little life and our first quiet moments as a family of three. At about 5am that morning, we loaded up a car and headed back to our new home and new life.

Miss Margot James, you've already stretched us more than we've ever been stretched, but we love you more than we ever thought possible. We are so amazed and grateful we get to be your parents baby girl.












*All photos compliments of Revival Photography.

Monday, January 12, 2015

18 days

The final count down has begun. 18 days is what my little baby bump app is telling me. 18 days until our girl could arrive. Although, it could be sooner. Any day really, or another month yet. Not knowing is the hardest part.

We moved into our house 3 weeks ago last Friday, I'm 37.5 weeks pregnant, my back has currently decided to go out, making it excruciatingly painful to walk, sit or lay down, and these are the some of the questions/comments I get on a daily basis.

Any day now, huh? You hiding a basketball in there? How's the house? Do you feel settled? Do you need help unpacking? Is the nursery set up? Do you have all your baby stuff? How do you feel? How is baby? To which I reply. . .Um. . .ok, no, I think???

We're getting there is more like it. Slowly but surely. It definitely feels more like slowly to me. Most days I question if we'll ever feel settled or like this new house is our home. I wonder if I'll ever stop sweeping up dust, or if the construction workers will ever be finished, or if the appliances are ever going to arrive so we can stop eating our meals solely from a microwave and toaster oven. Because honestly, canned soup and sandwiches get kind of old after 3, going on 4 weeks. I keep telling myself that soon we will have blinds and curtains hung up in the house, that there will be towel hooks and toilet paper holders installed, that rugs will be purchased and pictures hung, to make the echoey rooms feel more homey. But all in good time. When my baby app pops up asking me if I've packed my hospital bag yet, I just want to throw my phone and go hide and cry in my room. No, I haven't packed my hospital bag yet. I haven't even set up the nursery yet. The crib is built, stroller and carseat set up, but that's about it. The washed baby clothes and accessories are still in boxes waiting to be put away. And we're still awaiting the arrival of the the rest of the nursery furniture so we can finish. The dresser/changing table finally arrived last week, and I was looking forward to setting it up all week, only to find out they sent 2 box 2's instead of box 1 and 2. I tried not to have too big of a meltdown. Try being the key word. Not sure if I succeeded or not, you'll have to ask my husband;)

Life just feels like a whole lot of waiting and a whole lot expensive. Buying and renovating a house and having a baby within the same few months is expensive with a capital E. And I mean it. Life is this big long list of things waiting to be purchased, waiting to be finished, or waiting to arrive. And most days I feel like I'm failing at waiting, at being patient, at not getting upset or mad or crying about one or all of these things.

And then there's the people who tell you it doesn't really matter if the nursery is set up or if all the pictures are hung before baby comes. She won't even know anyways. And those are the people I especially want to punch in the face. Yes, yes, it may be true and spoken with the best of intentions, but that's the last thing an expecting mama wants to hear when she's been waiting 9.5 months to nest and get settled. Just take it from me;)

But. . .

There's good news too. Great news actually! At our 30 week apt, my midwife said baby who was head down had flipped head up, much to our disappointment. So, I spent the last 4 weeks trying not to worry, while doing every type of head stand and exercise I could find, chiropractic adjustments and praying. Lots of a lots of praying. At our 36 week last week the doc said baby was indeed head down, had dropped, and was in the perfect position. We are beyond relieved and so so thankful.

There are also sweet friends who bring take out and their new, adorably chubby baby over on Friday night to eat dinner with you and see the new house, and your online-turned real life friend who texts and says she wants to bring over a home cooked meal for you as well. And other friends from across the country who text or email that they've been thinking of you and are praying for you. And friends who offer you the use of their washer and dryer AGAIN because yours still hasn't come yet. And all those things make me want to sit down and sob (ok, maybe I've done just that), because I'm so blessed to have such a beautiful life, crazy and stressful and disorganized as it feels. Most days are a struggle to keep the right perspective. The teeter-tottering feelings that our life is a dirty mess and we're swimming in a size too big; to we know such wonderfully loving people who care about us AND we have a God who sees us right where we are and knows exactly what we need. An encouraging text, a meal, a hug, or a prayer. And it may not be all those things I think it I need. . . like a Pinterest perfect nursery, blinds hung up, or toilet paper holders installed.

Every day, these are the things that remind me I'm being stretched. Stretched to be flexible. Stretched to go with the flow. Deep down knowing we'd really be ok if baby arrived tomorrow, wether or not all the million things on our to-do list were checked off or not. And daily I'm reminded that life doesn't have to be perfect to be ok, or even good. It can be dusty, half finished, feel a little too big and slightly uncomfortable. . . and sometimes a moment comes when you realize what really matters is having people that care, love you, email, call, bring you food or coffee, plan a last pre-baby girl's night out/baby shower for you this weekend, and offer to come help mop and sweep your floors because you can't. Those are the things that really matter in the end.

I'm due in 2.5 weeks and praying feverishly she won't come a single day early, although I think I may feel differently in 2 more week. Time will tell. I'm also praying we get a few more things checked off our never ending to-do list, hoping the rocking chair and dresser arrive in time so we can set up the nursery a little bit more, and maybe a few more lights and appliances arrive to make life feel a little more comfortable. I also pray my back calms down and allows me a few more good nights of sleep before baby gets here. But alas, if not. . . this too shall pass.

In the middle of breastfeeding classes, chiropractor and doctors appointments, building closet systems and cribs, trying to successfully install a carseat, tracking all the missing appliances and fixtures to make sure everything's still going to arrive eventually, we're squeezing in all the last minute dates we can. Coffee, lunch, dinner. . . trying to breath, and smile, and understand where each other are coming from day to day. It's easier said than done. But we have 2ish weeks left with just us two, and by golly we're gonna make the most of it, crazy or calm.

Hopefully the next time you're here you'll be reading about our cute baby girl.

-J


35 weeks



36 weeks

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Peace

I'm sitting here sipping the most delicious espresso with homemade molasses/ginger syrup at the neighborhood coffee shop I've become a regular at in just 3 short days, listening to Nat King Cole sing Christmas songs, and I can't help but whisper thanks for the life I've been given. Christmas is just 2 days away, we've finally moved into our long awaited, prayed for, dreamed about house (unfinished as it is), and I'm a healthy 34.5 weeks pregnant with our darling firstborn girl who we get to meet in just 37 some days. Life is indeed full and I'm reminded constantly of His goodness when I stop long enough to pay attention. It's everywhere.

To say the past year has been hard would be the understatement of the century, but to say it's been good would be an understatement too. We are so incredibly blessed. This year has brought about more change than any I've known in my life.

  • We packed up and moved our life and business to Charleston, South Carolina for Lee's job 6 months ago, right around the same time we found out we were expecting our first baby girl! Talk about a major life change! 95% our belongings went into a storage facility in Charleston, and with only our summer clothes, dog and business, we moved into a furnished apartment where we spent the summer exploring our new city, eating at dozens of the most amazing restaurants, and frequenting the beach whenever we so desired. 
  • We celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary in August with a 10 day vacation driving up California's Hwy 1. We spent 3 days driving the breathtaking coast in a convertible, something I highly recommend you add to your bucket list if it's not already on there. Then we spent 3 days touring Napa and Sonoma's beautiful wine country, and ended the trip with a gorgeous 3 day weekend in San Francisco. 
  • After looking at 30+ houses the last year and a half, we were beyond thrilled to purchase our first home just 2 months ago! Not only did we find a home with everything on our wish list, but we got it well under budget which allowed us the means to do a complete renovation, leaving us with far more than we could have ever afforded other wise. 
  • Lee's had a busy year of travel. He's been on a dozen or so work trips, including 2 two week Asia trips and his first visit to Honduras. 
  • We've moved 3 times in 6 months. Yes, I said 3 times. All during one pregnancy. Talk about exhausting. This is something I hope to never relive again. 
  • We lived in temporary apartments in Charleston for 4 months while we were still house hunting and moved back to NC after we bought our house due to the complete renovation happening. My in-laws were so gracious to open their hearts and home to us, our dog, our stuff AND my business studio the last month and a half. We moved back to Charleston into our not-quite-completely-renovated home just 5 days ago. We are itching for the construction workers to finish up so we can clean, unpack, and this extremely pregnant girl can NEST and set up baby's nursery already;) I've only been waiting 8.5 months.
  • Our business, Tuck & Bonté, received it's largest wholesale order to date with our biggest wholesale customer, Anthropologie. With barely a 3 week lead time from order to ship date, we received the order just 10 days before we were scheduled to move back to NC and Lee was preparing for his Asia trip. By God's grace, and the help of 3 friends (our first employees!), we were able to get it done and shipped in the midst of a move, with hardly a glitch. Talk about miraculous! This was our first order placed for stores and web, which is HUGE and a dream come true for me. I'm still pinching myself that God's been so gracious to our little, growing business. 
  • I've been blessed with an overall healthy pregnancy and a very active baby girl. Her physical growing and stretching me has been a constant reminder to me of all that God's been growing and stretching in my heart this year. We can't wait to meet and love this little person that's become such a part of our family already the last 8 months. And to think this is just the beginning of our life changing forever. . .
  • We've found the most incredible community of friends here in our new city in such a short time. For that I am eternally grateful. I've had my fair share of moves and it's always taken a couple years to feel like I have "people/friends". So to have found this in just a few short months is a treasure I don't take for granted.

I chuckle looking back over the last 12 months. God has a sense of humor. He really does. We typically start the year off with a fast, spending a few concentrated weeks praying and seeking the Lord for the coming year. I like to ask the Lord for a word for that year. What does He have in store for me, for Lee, and our life? After 3 weeks or so, I got my word.

Expansion:
the act of becoming larger or more extensive
a thing formed by the enlargement, broadening, or development of something
to stretch out
growth
increase
swelling, elongating, thickening, multiplication.

2014 was to be the year of expansion, and boy was He right. In every single way. We've been stretched literally, physically, financially, spiritually, geographically, and relationally; and grown in our trust, faith, patience, and any other way you can think of, I'm sure of it. Growth and expansion sound so exciting, and they are. . . but I never realized how uncomfortable it is to be stretched. Growing pains, taking on a new shape, being enlarged; it hurts. I've been brought to the end of myself over and over again, and experienced a total dependency on God I've never had before. It's been messy and wonderful. I've cried more tears and been more desperate and needy than ever before. That is uncomfortable for me. I'm the type that likes to have it 'all together', always have a plan, always be in control. And that has been shattered to pieces this year, for which I'm glad. If there's one thing I've learned this year it's BE FLEXIBLE, and it will make all the change, growth, and 'life not going like you planned' a whole lot easier. I think this year was a crash course lesson for parenting;)

If there is another thing I've learned it's this. He is my peace. Not my circumstances or everything going just right. He himself is PEACE, and I can have Peace in the midst of life's biggest storms. I love this:

"There is a part of the sea known as the cushion of the sea. It lies beneath the surface that is agitated by storms and churned by the waves and wind. It is so deep that it is a part of the sea that is never stirred. When the ocean floor in these deep places is dredged of the remaining plant or animal life, it reveals evidence of having remained completely undisturbed for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. The peace of God is an eternal calm like the cushion of the sea. It lies so deeply within the human heart that no external difficulty, or disturbance can reach it. And anyone who enters in the the presence of God becomes a partaker of that undisturbed and undisturb-able calm. " -Arthur Tappan Pierson

No matter what this year has brought you, I hope this Christmas you can experience this eternal calm, Peace Himself.