Watching...  My little guy sleep contently on his daddy's chest. This scene makes my heart burst every time.

Admiring... My husband. He has taken such good care of me these last couple days. Bringing me food, keeping the house clean, and holding Jack so I can take a shower or relax in the tub. He's the best. Not sure if I'll be able to manage when he goes back to work next Monday!

Grateful for... Friends and family who have brought over meals for us. It has been such a blessing not having to cook every meal so I can spend more time bonding with my boy.

Struggling with... Breastfeeding. I knew it was going to be a challenge, but there is nothing anyone could have told me to really prepare for it. It's tough, but me and Jack are powering through and everyday things get a little easier.

Thankful for... My little guy's health. At his one week checkup he had already surpassed his birth weight! Most babies don't until they are around 2 weeks old. So even though feedings have been rough, I am glad to know he's gaining weight and getting the nutrition he needs to grow big and strong.

Feeling... A crazy range of emotions! One second I'm overjoyed and cooing over my sweet babe and the next second I'm crying because I feel like a failure as a mother when there is more milk on my outfit than in my baby's tummy. When will these crazy hormones begin to balance out in me?! I'm afraid my husband might suggest I be committed if the tears don't stop soon ;)

And because I've been such a flake about blogging lately (and probably will be for quite some time now that Jack has arrived), I wanted to direct you to an amazing blog to peruse in my absence.   
Kali is the face behind the blog, Kaliwood. This smart and bubbly blonde definitely has a way with words that comes across beautifully on her blog. She is a deep thinker who also has a sense of humor that I absolutely love. This is clearly seen in her post "Embrace the Mutt in All of Us." (Go read it!) And for a good laugh, check out her letter to her 16 year old self, too. Kali also has a passion for fitness and I found her post about why she loves to run incredibly motivating.  To top it off, she has some travel experience under her belt due to spending a semester abroad in France! (Jealous.) There is definitely a little something for everyone on this sweet lady's blog, so be sure to check it out!


Our Birth Story

To say Jack's early arrival was a surprise is an understatement. Everyone was telling me Jack would be late. I had mentally prepared myself to have a March baby, not one 2 weeks early! But God's timing is perfect and he knew Jack's birthday well in advance and helped me and Steven prepare for an early arrival unknowingly. 

The Saturday before Jack came, Steven and I spent the day preparing --making freezer meals, installing his carseat, washing all his clothes, deep cleaning, etc.--  and then I started my work week out like any other. After work on Tuesday I went to my 38 week midwife appointment and told them I thought Jack was quite comfy in there and wouldn't come for quite some time... Little did I know I'd be back there holding my sweet babe in my arms less than 24 hours later.

(FYI, I'm writing down all the details more for my sake than anyone else's. Meaning, if birth and all the goo that comes with it grosses you out, I'd quite reading now. K?)
I woke up at 1:30am to my very first contraction. I honestly didn't think much of it and went back to bed. I woke up again at 3:30 to use the restroom. While climbing out of bed I heard a slight pop and felt a small gush of fluid run down my leg. I thought, "either my water just broke or I peed on the carpet." The second option seemed more likely to be the case since I thought there was no way Jack was coming anytime soon, but almost immediately my contractions started getting more intense. I thought it best to let Steven continue to sleep, thinking my labor would be at least 30+ hours. However, from that point on, I got no sleep. I couldn't lay down because the contractions were so terrible. I thought the best thing to do was stay busy and try to ignore them until Steven's alarm went off. So I got up and decided to do a load of laundry and pluck my eyebrows. Yep, I plucked my eyebrows.

Before Steven's alarm went off at 5:30 I found myself struggling to stay relaxed with each contraction. The pain was so bad I kept thinking that if this is early stage labor there is no way I'm getting the unmedicated birth I'd practiced and planned for. When Steven woke up I told him I was in hard labor. Like the good husband he is, he didn't believe me ;). After all, it had only been 4 hours since my very first contraction. We scrambled around for about an hour or so throwing things into our hospital bag and shooting off emails to work, but every time a contraction hit I was doubled over in pain. I couldn't keep moving through them. I had to either hold on to Steven, resting all my weight on him and allowing my body to go limp, or I would squat down and rest my arms and forehead on my bed. With every contraction I keep thinking this can't be early labor, this can't be early labor.

Shortly thereafter, my contractions starting coming one right after the other. I was getting no break in between and it took every fiber within my being to stay relaxed each time a wave hit. Steven timed my contractions and we discovered they were less than a minute apart and lasting about  90 seconds. I think at this point he still thought there was no way I was this progressed in labor, and I too was skeptical and afraid to leave for the birth center too early. But in the end I know my body. My baby was coming and he was coming soon.

At 9:30 we made our way to the birth center in Bellevue. I listened to a relaxation CD given to me by my Bradley instructor over and over again. It helped me stay relaxed and in tune with my body. Each time a contraction hit, I just prayed to God that he would help me get through just this one! He answered and at about 10:15 we pulled up to the birth center.

They quickly checked my progress and told me I was 6-7 cm dilated and fully effaced. I couldn't believe it. My baby was coming! My baby was coming today! I continued to labor with Steven holding me up and supporting my weight or by squatting down knee to knee and forehead to forehead with him. He was so amazing! It brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it. I couldn't have done this without him.
The midwives started preparing a bath for me. It felt so great to get into the water! A warm bath really is nature's epidural! The only position that felt good to me while in there though was squatting and leaning over the tub with my arms on the ledge. After about an hour of working through my contractions in there my feet were turning blue and I needed a change. I decided to step out of the tub and go into the bathroom. I sat on the toilet there for a couple minutes and then it hit me --I needed to push. I decided I didn't want Jack to be birthed on the toilet. I asked the midwives to warm up the tub again and made my way back into the water.

Pushing was, as one would expect, hard. The midwife kept reminding me to work with my contractions. If I felt like I needed to push --PUSH! Some women describe the pushing stage as feeling good. It didn't feel good at all, but it did feel necessary, unavoidable, primal --and so I pushed. I pushed for about an hour until one of the midwives announced that she could feel his head. I reached down and felt Jack's perfect, hair-filled head. It was the most amazing moment of my life. These 9 months, the classes, the research, the eating healthy, the singing, talking, and praying for my little man all came to a head. He was almost here and my heart was bursting....but my contractions stopped.

I kept hearing that I needed to work with my contractions, but I wasn't having them anymore. His head was almost halfway out and I no longer had the strength or the contractions I needed to finish the job. I felt immense panic and for the first time started to cry. Steven and my amazing midwife kept encouraging me, contractions or not, to push my little man out. I prayed, pushed, and made noises I never knew I was capable of. Then I reached down and caught my son in my arms.

At 12:51 Jack was born. Less than 3 hours after arriving to the birth center.
I couldn't believe it. Jack was here! I was so consumed in looking at my perfect boy, kissing his sweet lips, counting his tiny finger and toes, and smelling his sweet skin that I was oblivious to what was actually happening to me. Steven and the midwives helped me stand up with Jack still in my arms to make my way back to the bed. I was hemorrhaging and they needed to get me to lay down. Steven said that when I stood up the amount of blood he saw literally gushing from my body was terrifying. I had no idea as I held my little boy and laid on the bed like the midwives instructed. I felt the prick in my leg as they shot the pitocin in me, I noticed the sting on my arm as the hooked up the pitocin IV drip, and I felt and pressure of them pushing on my stomach, but I didn't know how bad it was until I looked up smiling to tell Steven how perfect Jack was, expecting to see him smiling down at our little boy, but I noticed he wasn't looking at me or Jack. Steven had his eyes closed and was praying for me.

I don't want to go into much detail of my postpartum. It was pretty bad, but the beauty of my birth experience overrides it. All I know is I was severely hemorrhaging. They had to reach up and remove a few blood clots (which was more painful then any part of the birth itself), manually try to clamp down my uterus, and insert a catheter to see if a full bladder was the issue. I was oblivious to the severity of my situation though and simply kept staring at my beautiful baby boy.

Finally, my bleeding did subside. They made me a protein shake and told me I needed to keep eating. I was severely dehydrated and had low blood sugar, I was shaking from head to toe, and for the first time I looked around me and noticed the blood covering my legs, feet, abdomen. I held my baby and cried thinking how blessed I was and how perfect he is. Then I asked Steven if I could have a turkey sub.   :)
The midwives kept me at the birth center for about 5 hours for monitoring. My bleeding continued to subside and my color and energy started to return. At 5pm they said we could go home. We packed up and heading out with our little guy knowing our lives would never be the same. On the car ride home I stared at Jack, marveling over his blonde hair just like his daddy's and his cute button nose. I couldn't believe they were letting this perfect little being come home with us! 
Today Jack is one week old. Time is flying and, I must admit, I hate that! I already am in tears over the fact that I can do nothing to stop him from growing up. Every time I hold him in his arms and feel him snuggle in tightly against my chest, I can't help but pray and thank God for our little miracle. Thank God for the honor He's bestowed on me to raise him. Thank God for my life, for my husband, for my health, for my son.


Jack Ryan

Jack | God is Gracious  
Ryan | Steven's older brother
7lbs, 15oz, 21in.

Jack decided to make his entrance into the world 2 weeks early. 
Born on February 12th at 12:51 after only 12 hours of labor. 
God truly is gracious and Steven and I are so in love.


The Important Things

Ya'll, I'm glad my stardom has blown over. Those things never last for long, which I am thankful for. I like life best when lived quietly on this blog. I'm not a fan of the attention I received thanks to the Huffinton Post, GMA, and Yahoo's uninformed articles. (Inside Edition actually called me on Friday for an interview. How crazy is that? I said thanks, but no thanks. People are too mean.) 

So instead of focusing on my wedding that was almost 2 years ago, I'd rather talk about the things that are important and relevant in my life right now. 

Like Herschel. Have you even seen a kitty sleeping any cuter than this? He's a darling when he's unconscious, but in his wakeful moments one must be careful. Ninja kitty loves to attack. He also loves to stare into your soul and the more you try to avoid his eye contact the less he blinks. It's a frightening experience. 
And Huck. Huckleberry is always important. I loved these pictures Steven sent me of his and Huck's walk on Saturday and Sunday. One day it was sunny and bright and the next snow covered! Both days Huck was king of the log.
Our nursery is complete. That's pretty darn important! I was feeling so overwhelmed and emotional this past week, but now our little guy's space is completely finished and all his clothes and blankets are washed, organized, and put away. I no longer feel so overwhelmed and I haven't cried in 2 whole days! (Where is my award?) Ahhhh. It feels good.
Lastly, I'm huge, which is also important. Baby and I are both healthy (and still growing).  I'm ready for him to come but I'm pretty certain he's setting up camp in there and plans on sticking around for a while longer. I've heard most first babies are usually a couple days late??
All in all, Steven and I had a pretty productive and relaxing weekend and I am beyond thankful for it. I'm thankful for my husband and our simple, sweet life together. I'm thankful for the little life growing inside of me. I'm thankful for my fur babies and the entertainment they provide. I'm thankful for chocolate chip cookies, mint ice cream, and the Walking Dead. But most of all I'm thankful to not be the subject of scrutiny on the internet by people who have nothing better to do than sit behind their computer monitor and say nasty things about people they don't even know.

And that's what is most important.

Also, who watched the Walking Dead last night and what did you think? I'm happy it's back and I'm happy that my husband didn't utter one word about the excessively large bowl of ice cream and 3 chocolate chips I ate while watching it....What?!? Stress makes me eat.


Lazy Day

This past week has been rough. I had a midwife appointment where I discovered I'm GBS positive. No big deal really, just another thing to worry about during labor I suppose, and although I feel confident our little guy will be safe it's still a bummer. My body also decided this week to become consumed with stress and anxiety, leaving me one emotional wreck. I agonized over all the decisions I have to make for this little guy, being his voice for him. It's a lot of pressure! I also had to train my maternity leave fill in this week. She is super sweet, smart, and organized, which I know will make me phasing out and her phasing in a much more smooth transition, but it was hard to stay focused and train her while feeling so emotional all week. And then all those comments on yesterday's articles didn't really help to lighten my spirits.

Plus, I'm tired. Man, am I tired.

So today I'm staying home and working. I'll try to nap and snuggle my fluffy ones between emails and phone calls. I hope to drink lots of hot cocoa and enjoy the light dusting of snow we got last night and the beauty it created this morning. I'll take a long bath and maybe read a fiction book rather than a baby one...
It's going to be a lazy day and I'm going to enjoy it. The stress, the worry, the decision making --those things can always wait till tomorrow.

Hope you have an amazing, relaxing Friday, friends!


What Happens When ABC, the Huffington Post, and Yahoo Feature Your Wedding

Basically, a world of negativity and judgement explodes around you.
I was never one of those girls who had their wedding all thought out and planned before the age of 10. I just wasn't. When it came time to plan my wedding, I pretty much just went with the flow. So when one of my best friends and bridesmaids offered to take my photos for the wedding as a gift rather than stand by my side, I didn't stress about having an uneven number of bridesmaids and groomsmen and I didn't bother to look for a "replacement" (Who wants a "replacement" in their wedding party? Better yet, who the hell would want to be a "replacement" in a wedding party?). I simply jumped at her offer and accepted! As long as Bridget was there for my big day, I didn't care if she was standing by my side or behind a camera lens. 

That did mean one of our groomsmen was the odd man out, resulting in some pretty hilarious photos. He posted one of those photos on Reddit and since then the Huffington PostABC News, and Yahoo have picked up the story...
...and WOW! People are rude. I couldn't help myself...I knew better, but I read most of those comments anyway. Apparently, Steven and I are rednecks who are probably divorced by now, my wedding photographer was terrible, Macon is a loser who can't get a date, and I'm a complete snob to have "ruined" my wedding dress that mommy and daddy paid for by going into Lake Ontario at the end of the day.

Not going to lie, kinda hurts to read that stuff! And for someone who blogs and is used to putting my life on the internet you'd think I'd have thicker skin, but apparently I don't. I've actually never been attacked on this blog. All of you have been pretty gracious to me, allowing me to share my life with friends and family on the east coast with very little judgement. But the blogging community is quite different from the anonymous commenters on the world wide web. So I want to say thank you to all my followers who have left encouraging, funny, heart warming comments these past 2 years! Who have gotten to know me and some even become my good friends. Thank you for making me feel safe on this space and free to share my life with those I love.

To the anonymous haters who posted on the links above, I just want to say that Steven and I are extremely happily married and expecting our newest addition in just a few days! Macon, the stand-alone groomsmen, is smart and funny and married to one of the cutest women I ever did meet. Bridget, the photographer, is a great college friend who was kind enough to offer these photos to me as a gift and they are snapshots of the best day of my life. I will forever be grateful to her! And my wedding was the first wedding she ever shot and I am beyond thrilled with how the images turned out (as evidenced by how many of them are plastered on the walls in my home!).

P.S. Not that it's this lady's business, but to the lady who thinks I'm a snob for "ruining" my dress mom and dad bought me... I didn't ruin it. It was successfully dry cleaned and hangs perfectly in my closet. I paid for that dress myself and it was less than $200. Steven and I had a small budget and made a lot of sacrifices most brides and grooms wouldn't to stay within it. I'm thinking that doesn't make me a snob, but to each his own.

P.P.S. To the lady who wants to eat breakfast off my husband's booty...Eww.