Monday, September 21, 2015

Fall Stitch Fix Review

My stylist Claire totally nailed this fix. It is the perfect fall box for me.

(To read more about Stitch Fix and how it works, you can read some of my other reviews here or here!)

I haven't shared my last few boxes on here which where mainly maternity, but I have to share this one before I get to those. Let me just say that Stitch Fix is a game changer as a new mom. They sent me amazing maternity clothes last fall, then comfortable and forgiving postpartum clothes, and now this box is perfect as I get somewhat back to my normal style.

And it's so much better than going shopping! SO. MUCH. BETTER.

I was pretty specific in my note for this box. I told them that I could use some new jeans and would love them to be skinny or boot cut. And that I LOVED my maternity leggings they sent me and wanted some regular ones just like that if possible. I also said I'd love a tunic or something to wear with the leggings. I tried to pin some items to my Pinterest style board that I've been liking, because that seems to help the stylist.

So then Claire sent me those exact, perfect items.

I had a little photo shoot with myself and you'll have to excuse the mess as we are doing a lot in that room to prepare for The Lettered Pine shop which is opening October 1st. :)

Okay, so here are the Rune Kiley Ankle Zip Leggings ($58) with the RD Style Ridge Zipper Detail Cowl Neck Sweater ($64).

The leggings are such good quality and comfortable, and I love the zipper detail. They're the same brand as my maternity leggings that they sent me, so I knew they'd be great before I even put them on.

I liked the sweater much better when I put it on. It's light, comfortable, could be dressed up or down, and the perfect length for the leggings. It's a little bit longer in the back.

Next are the Freida Skinny Jeans ($98) with the Arminta Mixed Material Top ($48). I can't believe they can send me jeans that actually fit. They're definitely higher quality than the jeans I usually wear, so that may have something to do with it, but wow. The ankle holes are a little bigger than I'd like, but I'll either cuff them or tuck them in anyway so it doesn't really matter. 

The top is like fancy + sweatshirt. So cool. The back bottom part is sweatshirt material. The color is gorgeous for fall and I love the relaxed fit!

Lastly, with the same jeans, here is the Alishia Scoop Hem Knit Pocket Tee ($44). This is so comfy and cute. A great fall transition piece for sure. 

I kept the whole box which meant I got a 25% discount. YAY. So the total was $214 for all 5 pieces. And yes, I get credit when people use my referral link, which is awesome. So go ahead and use that link to get your first fix, then you can share your own referral link and build up credit! You get $25 credit for each person who gets their first fix with your link! DO IT. :)

For help picking out what you want, you can browse the Stitch Fix Pinterest and pin those items, or just tell them the type of things you want like I did. It can help to be specific! Especially after you've gotten stuff before and they get to know your style and fit. 

Let me know if you try it!

Friday, September 4, 2015

New Favorite Bible Companion: Write the Word Journal

Last week, my mom gave me a little gift. I had seen the Write the Word journal by Lara Casey online, but hadn't thought much about getting it for myself since I already have other tools to help me study the Bible.

But, wow, I am so thankful she gave it to me. I've been using it for a week now and LOVE it.

It's beautifully made -- sturdy, yet flexible. Made out of vegan leather, so it's easy to clean and wipe off, which is nice since I've already gotten a few stray pen marks on the white cover. The gold foil details are such a pretty touch.

The inside cover has white and blue stripes, along with a space to write or draw whatever you want. Your name, an inspiring phrase or verse, a picture. I love how the pages are thick enough to accommodate my brush pens without bleeding through.

One little thing that makes a big difference to me personally is that it LAYS FLAT. I love how it can do that without a spiral binding. Genius. It also has a handy bookmark.

Of course, what matters is the inside. Why and how do I actually use it?

First, there is a spot for Today Is -- the date, an adjective, what you're doing that day, etc.

Then, there's a box titled I'm Grateful For for a quick time of reflection and thanksgiving.

After that is where you actually Write the Word. There's a Scripture reference at the top of this section and space to write it out below. The Scripture passages aren't random, they were specially selected. This Volume 1 journal contains selections from Matthew, Mark, Proverbs, and Psalm. There are 100 pages including an intro and 49 Scripture passages. 

Then on the right side, there is a section for On My Heart Today. This is where you write whatever you want -- response to the passage, prayer, lists, drawings, anything. That's what's so great about this journal, it prompts me JUST enough but also gives me the freedom to use it in my own personal way. 

What I have personally enjoyed doing is this process:
  • Fill out the top 2 sections
  • Read the passage in my ESV journaling Bible
  • Write the passage
  • Read the passage on my phone in another version
  • Write the passage in that different version
  • Read through both versions of the passage
  • Respond in prayer
It may sound like a lot, but it doesn't take that much time and it really helps me to repeat the reading and to use different versions. I love that there is space to do that, too. Sometimes I've read a passage so many times in one version that it's hard for it sink in, so that's why I like to do some comparisons and get a fresh take on it. I find that I can better dwell on it throughout the day when I read it multiple times and write it out.

That's why I love this journal. The simplicity of it has been so beneficial, especially as a new mom. Above any other books or studies to help me, I NEED Scripture and I NEED prayer. That is how I get to know God better, how He communicates with me, how I grow closer to Him. It's not just a fun thing to do (and it's not always fun anyway, it can be tough and convicting, not just warm and fuzzy!), it's a necessity. This journal has helped me to get back to the basics.

Since Volume 1 is officially sold out already, I'm so glad that more of these will be coming out. Sign me up for allllll the volumes! You can't beat the price at $15, either. You will be able to get it at the Lara Casey Shop and check out the hashtag on Instagram: #writetheword. Let me know if you get one and love it, too!

Write The Word Bible Journal Lara Casey Shop

*Disclaimer: affiliate links have been used in this post. I love the Lara Casey shop and am honored to be an affiliate with them! :)

Monday, April 20, 2015

Judah's Birth Story -- Part 2

Judah William's Birth Story Part 2

You can read Part 1 here.

This is long. You've been warned again. :)

Sometime around 9pm on Saturday, 3/14/15, we headed to the birth center. Jordan and I went in first to make sure we were there to stay, but the rest of the family followed close behind. When I had talked to Luanne on the phone she asked me which one of the three birthing suites I wanted and I chose the one I had been in the most (in appointments and classes) because I was familiar with it. We were the only ones there so the whole place was all ours! Haha.

Luanne checked me and said I was 6-7cm dilated so we were there to stay! We brought all our stuff in and the family settled into the front waiting area to watch the ACC championship game and play cards. They seemed to have a jolly good time of which I'm glad especially since they were such troopers and stayed through the whole night. :)

I met the nurse/doula named Tracy who would be attending the birth with the midwife. Luanne was more of an all-business type and Tracy was the lovey-dovey-fuzzy-encouraging one so they really balanced each other out and made a great team. I was so thankful for them and felt as though they truly cared about us and the baby. For the first couple hours they let us be alone besides checking in to see if we needed anything and to monitor my blood pressure and Judah's heartbeat. They gave me a robe to put on, lit some candles, and filled the tub for me to labor in.

I continued with my swaying through contractions tactic mainly using the birthing ball on the bed as pictured. This ball had stuff in it so it wouldn't roll around which was nice. I tried to sit on it but didn't like that during contractions, it felt best to be standing. Laying down through a contraction was the WORST so I definitely wasn't doing that at all.

I didn't use a certain method or anything, but had done a good amount of reading about birth without medication and had taken the "Birth Out of Hospital" classes at the birth center. I knew that to let my body do what it needed to do, I needed to go with the flow and not fight the contractions. One thing I had learned was the cycle of fear/stress --> tension --> increased pain --> more fear --> more tension --> more pain, etc. It was truly the Lord who lessened my feelings of fear through Scripture, Jordan's encouragement, and a supernatural sense of peace. Whenever I felt myself tensing up through a contraction, I would keep swaying, control my breathing, and whisper "relax" over and over as I relaxed my muscles as much as I could.

When the tub was ready I was eager to get in and see if it helped with my back labor. It felt fantastic. The water temperature was just right (I was afraid they wouldn't let it be hot enough for my liking) and I was able to relax more and sip on Gatorade. Jordan pulled up my Spotify playlist of all Coldplay only Coldplay (my favorite band ever). I still swayed and moved through the contractions, but let the water hold my weight. It was cool how they could still monitor Judah's heartbeat regularly under the water with the doppler.

Many people had been asking if I was going to do a water birth. My response was usually, "We'll just have to see!" because I really didn't know. I didn't know how the tub would feel to me but kept an open mind without ruling it out. I knew that if being in the water helped and the baby started coming, I probably wouldn't want to hop outta the tub and dry off while fighting an urge to push. And it really helped us to see videos of water births at our classes. So I just kept it as an option and wanted to see how it would play out. I loved being in the water, but it seemed to be slowing my progress down as the contractions became a little further apart.

They suggested that I get out and walk for a while to really get things going. We walked around the birth center and went to talk to the family out front. They were so happy to see us and couldn't believe how cheerful I was to be that far along. Yeah, the contractions weren't fun or anything, but I was just so happy to be there and excited. The environment and Jordan were really keeping me calm and peaceful, and everything was still so manageable at this point.

Remember how Jordan was still fighting a stomach bug? And how he also has two herniated discs in his back and hasn't even been able to walk normally for months? The Lord totally answered our prayers with a yes and gave him the strength he needed. He took one of my Zofran pills (the last person to take one wasn't me! ha!) and was able to eat some food. I'm sure some of it was him being strong for my sake but I wouldn't have even noticed at the birth center that he felt badly or that his back hurt. He was SO positive and encouraging in just the right way, helping me in any way possible.

It seemed like time was going by so quickly. It's hard to remember what all we did during this time -- mainly just walking around, talking, and listening to Coldplay. I do remember that when she checked me again, I was 9cm and we were talking about how it probably wasn't possible for him to have a Pi Day birthday (3/14) anymore because it was getting close to midnight. But we thought it'd be REALLY soon.

And then 5.5 hours later he was born. The end.

........just kidding. :) This is the not as pleasant part that Jordan doesn't like to revisit in his mind. (I've been getting him to help me remember stuff.) And I can't come close to remembering it all because it's such a blur. But I'll try.

After that last time before midnight I never looked at the clock again. I had no sense of time at all. I didn't want to know how long it was taking. But at this point my body was completely ready -- fully dilated, cervix thinned, all systems go -- but little Judah was not. He was cozy right where he was and didn't want to budge. 

That whole posterior, head tilted and not down thing was still fully in effect. My water wasn't breaking and I had no urge to push whatsoever. So this was a weird time for me. The whole time I had a goal to reach -- get to 10 cm! And now that I was at 10 cm, what was I supposed to do? Keep having contractions that were continuing to increase in intensity and were one on top of another forever? I remember thinking to myself, "This could never end. He may just stay in there. How long could he stay in there?" and then also thinking, "What actually IS an urge to push? Am I having them and not knowing it? That seems URGE is something that you definitely feel. What if I don't want to feel it? I'm really scared to push. I'm REALLY scared to tear. Maybe I should just not do this."

I could feel the fear coming on and I didn't want it to. Not one bit. So I asked if I could get back in the water. They suggested a shower, and the shower had a separate sprayer thing that Jordan could point at the exact spot on my back where all the pressure was. I thought this sounded excellent. It was a walk in shower area next to the where the toilet was. (Let me just mention that the toilet seat was heated. Heavenly.)

Jordan put on his bathing suit and helped me into the shower. Those two bars that you see in the picture were perfect for me to lean on and let Jordan spray my back. Ohhh man my back. The pressure in my lower back was so intense and concentrated, it covered an area about the size of a softball. Not at all what I imagined labor to be like. I think we were in there quite a while. I was SO SLEEPY. Couldn't hold my eyes open. I was trying to stay fueled with food and hydrated with water and Gatorade, but then I threw up. I knew this was a good sign that things were still happening, but here's what was going on.

  • Judah still wasn't moving down at all.
  • My water wasn't breaking.
  • I was still having no urge to push.
  • It was starting to take too long, especially since I was already completely dilated.
  • My blood pressure was getting too high.
  • With two nights of no sleep I was extremely tired.
  • Since I had mainly been up and at 'em the whole time we were there and was throwing up, I had no energy. They tried to get me to do some squats in the shower while holding onto the bar, but I could NOT do it.

Throughout all this, Judah's heartbeat was fine, praise the Lord. But I know that my high blood pressure was disconcerting to them. They kept checking it and giving each other a look of "not good". They weren't saying that to me but I could tell that it wasn't good. And I was desperately wanting to know what I needed to do to get to the point of getting him out. So Luanne said that she thought it was time for her to break my water and for them to give me an IV of fluids for energy. I whined to Jordan (in slurred, sleepy language) that I didn't want an IV, but I didn't even remember them putting it in. (I didn't want it because I'm scared of even getting my finger pricked and am prone to fainting.) I absolutely needed it though especially for what they were about to make me do.

When she broke my water (this was uncomfortable, but again, I was in a fog) she felt Judah and said that we need to do some different things to get him to move. She told me that if I didn't, we'd have to start talking about going to the hospital. I should mention that in that moment in my head I was absolutely certain that I'd be transferred and have a c-section and I was okay with that. I was thinking, "He's not coming out. He needs to come out. They can cut him out. That is fine." I didn't think that anything I could do would get him in a better spot. Especially when they told me it was time to do some lunges. Yes, lunges. I told them I couldn't. They told me I had to. Well, Luanne told me I had to. Tracy told me I was beautiful and wonderful and capable and to let my body do it. I thought she was going to break out in song. She was like a Disney princess nurse.

It was at this time that I told them if only I could go to bed and try again tomorrow I thought I could do it. 

Since this was not an option, I remember telling Jordan that he needed to tell me I could do it. He did. He was awesome. He encouraged me (but not too much to where it sounded fake), he read my Scripture cards to me, he rubbed my back when I needed it. And when he rubbed my back he did slow circles around where the pressure was. I remember Luanne stepping in to actually push hard on my back to try to relieve it with counter pressure, and it did NOT feel good. All I could do was mutter, "no". Haha. Jordan's way was the best. 

So somehow, I did what they said and leaned on the birthing ball on the bed, put one leg up on the bed, and did angled lunges. This is the last thing I imagined myself doing while giving birth. I mean seriously, in no way did I associate Jillian Michaels exercises with having this baby. But at least she wasn't there yelling at me or telling me how she could use another good chest fly in her life.

I had wondered beforehand whether I'd be one to yell or grunt or get angry when it came down to it. It was at this time that my noise level did increase, but my speech was very limited as I was just so physically out of it. Throughout the night I had been softly moaning in low tones during contractions, but now they were much louder. This was also when I started repeating, "Help me, God," and, "the Lord is my helper," over and over. I could NOT continue in my own strength that was for sure. 

During the lunges they tried a TENS unit on my back which is electrical nerve stimulation. Basically they placed electrodes on my back that buzzed and shocked me to distract from the pain. It helped very slightly for a few minutes but wasn't so great for me. Then Tracy wrapped a rebozo wrap around my middle and used it to squeeze my hips for counter pressure. That actually did help more throughout the lunges. It also helped me to count through them mentally and time my counting with my breathing.

I had no idea if I was making any progress, had no pushing urges, and was still mentally set on a transfer. When what seemed like a long time had gone by (I have no idea), after each contraction and set of lunges I would tell them that I didn't think I could do another one. Or at least I would try to tell them that, I was hardly speaking English at this point. It probably sounded like, "Mm back.....can't do 'nother.....can't do it....God help...." and so forth. Luanne told me, "Because you're saying you can't do it I know you're near the end!" which I thought was pure ridiculousness but kept going anyway.

Meanwhile Chris Martin was still singing loud and clear. There are only a few Coldplay songs that I would rather not hear and I hadn't taken them off my playlist. So I remember being in the heat of all this and when one of them came on, I pointed to my phone and said, "Song!" which translated from labor talk to English means, "Jordan, will you please change it to the next song?" He was definitely skilled in the art of this translation.

Finally they told me I could stop lunging. I don't know if they just wanted to try something else or if they were afraid I would start falling over from exhaustion. But they told me to lay down on the bed on my side which was the LAST thing I wanted to do. I hated doing that with the manageable contractions, much less these intense ones. I kept telling myself, "Luanne knows what she's doing. She's done this for 30 years and a thousand times. Do what she says." So I did. I laid on my left side with my bottom, left leg straight as they put what felt like 24 pillows in between my legs and bent my right leg forward. That probably doesn't make sense, it barely even makes sense to me but I was in mental crazytown and kept my eyes closed so I don't know. Jordan laid to my left to face me and continued to encourage me.

Again, it could have been minutes, hours, days, in this position, I have no clue. But eventually after more contractions and more "help me, Lord"s I felt a new sensation in the baby exit region. "I think I'm feeling something!!" I told them. They probably had to resist the urge to pop champagne right then and there but there was still a baby to push out. So they situated me on my back and put my left knee in my left hand. Tracy handed Jordan a juice box to make me drink and I gulped it down pretty quickly.

It was then that the feelings of fear started to come back. I was shocked that we actually made it to this point and that I was going to have to push. I thought they might give me some coaching on pushing before I had to do it for real, but nope. They told me to let them know when the next contraction started and they would tell me when to push. "What??" I thought to myself, "I don't know how to push. Maybe I just won't tell them when the contraction comes. I'll just pretend it's not happening." As you can imagine, I couldn't do that. It was pretty clear when the contraction came. 
Luanne told me to take a deep breath and push. I breathed in and pushed as hard as I could until she told me to let out my breath. Again, and again. She said she wanted me to do it three times each contraction. The next contraction I did the same thing, only she never actually said when to let out my breath and so I held it as long as I could. The next time this happened Jordan said, "BREATHE!!" and I did. He later told me that he thought my ears were going to pop off or that my head would explode and yes, that's exactly what it felt like. I told them that I needed them to tell me when to breathe, otherwise I would keep holding it. I guess they were focused on the baby coming out because this happened a few more times, luckily my head and ears stayed in tact.

Now this might sound really weird, and I don't even know how to explain it. But to keep pushing as hard as I could and especially when I started to feel the pressure of his head, I had to mentally remove myself from the present situation. I guess this was one of those out-of-body experience type things. I had heard that it helps to picture meeting your baby but when I did that it brought me back to the fact that he needed to come out and it was up to me. So in my mind, I was with Jordan dancing at our wedding, I was at the beach with family, I was NOT on that bed pushing out a baby. And then I don't remember where in the world I was mentally because Jordan said I kept softly repeating, "It's just me and You, God," over and over. Where was I with God? No clue. But I am eternally grateful for Him being with me.

Throughout the pregnancy one of our songs for Judah was Sky Full of Stars by Coldplay (of course). When Judah was close, Jordan turned it to this song so I could hear it and it could be his birth song. This was so special and now I can't hear the song without tears in my eyes.

I asked them if I could hold my other knee because it was really helping to brace myself, so they helped me do that. Judah's head was RIGHT there which was the craziest feeling. My feet were kicking as I was trying not to push when I wasn't supposed to and trying to go at the pace she wanted me to (to avoid lots of tearing). Jordan seemed to be getting really emotional and kept saying, "You're doing it, babe, you're doing it! It's happening! He's coming! I'm so proud of you, you're doing it!" which was music to my ears. 

Every push I gave 100%. We had worked so hard to get him at that spot, so since he was finally there I wanted him OUT. It took five contractions, three pushes each, and then I felt the strongest feeling of relief ever as Judah came out at 5:07am. I opened my eyes as he made a couple tiny "eeh!" sounds when they placed him on my chest. It was hard to find words, but Jordan accidentally filmed this part with the phone laying on the bed so here are some direct quotes.

"'re made it....I can't believe happened....thank, You, Lord....hi, Judah....hi, he cute?"

"Yes, he's very cute." -- Jordan

"Hi,'re in the world now...thank you for coming're here and I love you...hi, buddy..."

Jordan got to hold him a little bit as I delivered the placenta, and somehow I took some pictures with my phone as my arm was shaking like crazy. They also gave me a shot of something as I was losing a good amount of blood, but it's hard to remember.

After Jordan held him for a minute, he gave him back to me to breastfeed and Judah latched right on. He was so alert and calm. He seemed legitimately happy to be out of the womb and with us, of which I was glad. 

People have asked if I felt an overwhelming love as soon as they placed Judah on my chest. I loved him, yes, but I love him so much more each day. At that time I think the main feelings were relief and thankfulness. And I was just in shock.

It's hard to remember the order of events after this, but I know that when my mom and mother-in-law heard that first little cry from down the hall, they came sprinting to our door and waited outside of it. Such grandmas they are. :) Before I had started pushing I told Tracy to go tell them all to pray. They had been praying for me and thought that it could possibly take another hour or so after that, so they were shocked when they heard that cry right after they finished praying! So after I fed him, the family came in to meet him. They had been eager to find out his name, so I waited until they were all in the room and said, "This is Judah William Shelley!" They cheered and were so happy and full of love. 
One special moment that I'll never forget was my dad coming over to me, holding my hand, kissing my cheek, and saying, "You're so brave, I'm SO proud of you," with tears in his eyes.

They left the room after a few minutes of time with Judah so Luanne could stitch me up. Remember my huge fear of tearing? It happened, and I still don't know how many stitches I got, but I didn't even feel the actual tearing. People had told me that it could be like that, and I didn't believe them (I'm talking about you, Sydney!) but they were right. Maybe if I would have had an easier time leading up to the pushing it would have been worse, but the end happened so fast and there was so much going on with my body that I didn't even feel it. 

I did feel the stitching up part though. Ouch. One of my least favorite parts for sure.

They helped me into a wonderfully warm shower and Jordan spent some time with Judah. I think after I got out was when they weighed and measured him. 6 lbs. 10 oz., 20.5 inches long. The cutest little guy ever.

We were both ravenous and Jordan was feeling like he could actually eat some food and keep it down, so my parents went and got us some McDonald's sausage and egg biscuits and orange juice. YUM. One amazing thing about the birth was that when Judah and placenta left my body, my hyperemesis also left immediately! I felt a huge difference right away and didn't have to think twice about eating that biscuit. Even though my sickness was much worse through the first half of pregnancy, I hadn't realized how badly I had still been feeling until it was gone. Praise the Lord!
Jordan's side of the family went back to our house to get some sleep. We said our goodbyes and thank yous to Luanne and Tracy as a new nurse Kara came in to take care of us. My parents stayed at the birth center for a while which was nice because my mom held Judah while Jordan and I took an amazing nap. I don't know if I've ever been so confused when I woke up. Where am I....what's going on....I'm still so tired....there's a's my baby. Woah.

After I woke up I fed him again and my parents headed back to their house. Jordan's mom came back to the birth center and helped get Judah cleaned up and dressed for the first time. We started the discharge process as Kara made sure I was good to go, checking up on my body and answering all my questions, giving lots of instructions. She was amazing, too. We really had the most wonderful team throughout this whole time.

Jordan put him in his car seat and we went home sometime around 11:45am. It was a beautiful day for a birthday. I had been a little apprehensive about leaving the birth center so soon, but it was really great. I felt like I had just the right amount of time there. We got to rest at home with lots of help from both sides of our family. They made a huge, delicious meal and we had a birthday party for Judah out on our deck. That evening I kept thinking how weird it was that I had birthed a baby earlier that morning.

What a weekend. It is still so surreal to think that it all actually happened. It was SO not my strength, but the Lord's strength in me. That's the only way I can explain it. I cried out to Him for help, and He absolutely helped me. 

"Out of my distress I called on the Lord;
the Lord answered me and set me free."
-- Psalm 118:5

All glory, honor, and praise be to the Lord. Most of all for redeeming us through His Son Jesus and for giving us new life. The name Judah means "praise", and our prayer is that his life will be a sacrifice of praise to Him.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Judah's Birth Story -- Part 1

Judah William's Birth Story Part 1
This is probably going to be long and drawn out, but there's really no other way for me to tell it. You've been warned. :)
Thursday, 3/12/15
I had my 38 week check-up with the midwife and it took what seemed like forEVER for her to find a heartbeat. I surprisingly didn't freak out until after the appointment when it hit me that I had been really scared in those moments. But the reason was that he had turned posterior (he was facing out with his limbs at the surface) so his arms and legs were blocking easy access to the heartbeat. This was definitely not the preferred position for a smooth labor and delivery, so she told me a few things to do to try to get him to turn, like getting on all fours regularly throughout the day. 
She could feel his head easily and that is wasn't as low as it was before. She said he wasn't down and ready and seemed to think that we had a good amount of time. (Hence my thinking that it would be April before he was born!) She told me to take a couple Evening Primrose Oil pills a day to "ripen the cervix" (yeah I know, that sounds weird). I took one that night and the next morning and I would totally attest to them being magical if I knew what state my cervix had been in prior to that, but alas, I do not. So I don't know if my cervix was just super ready to go all by itself or what...but I'll get to that.
I remember being kinda an emotional mess that day, and Jordan was still on the tail end of a bad stomach bug, so we had a cozy night in with grilled cheese and chicken noodle soup. I leaned on the birthing ball a lot and tried to be on all fours quite a bit. 
My last bump pic taken after my midwife appointment

Friday, 3/13/15
I had an early morning new parent meeting at the pediatrician's office to see if that's the one we wanted to go with. Good thing I liked them and we felt peace about it, we chose them just in time. :) It's the pediatrician I've gone to my whole life, and I say "have gone to" instead of "went to" because the last time I went to the doctor (besides the OBGYN) I went there. As an adult. Yeah....embarrassing. They laughed when they saw I was still in the system. 
I should've known something was weird that day because I went home and watched the movie Twilight while I did some exercises and stretching. I have never had a desire to watch that ever. I started the first book once but lost interest about halfway through. But for some reason when I logged into Netflix and it was one of the first things on there, I chose it. So weird. But I was on all fours for most of the movie. I say this to point out that I really did do what she told me to do and gave it my best shot, haha. (Spoiler alert: I failed.)
I did a lot of things around the house and took a good nap (I was more tired those last couple weeks than any other time in pregnancy besides my worst sickness times). We were supposed to go on a little date to see Cinderella that night. We were planning on doing so many things that weekend....but I'm not complaining that we didn't get to. :)
Anywayyy, around 6pm, I went to the bathroom and started bleeding. It was a good amount more than they said "bloody show" would be and continued for a couple minutes or so. That was a WEIRD feeling. I sat there for a minute praying and saying to myself, "Don't freak out. Don't freak out." I didn't know whether to call the midwife or Jordan first. I also didn't know if this was something bad or good and didn't want to think too much about it, just wanted to act. I decided to call Jordan and said, "Hey...don't freak out but something's happening. I'm bleeding." (I think I said "don't freak out" approximately 87 times that day to multiple people but mainly to myself.) He was very calm (when is Jordan not calm) and said to call the midwife and that he would leave work.
One of the three midwives who work at the birth center, Jewel, was still there and said to come on in to be checked before she left for the day. We live 6-7 minutes away which was SO nice throughout this process. Jordan's friend Eric lifts weights in our garage a lot and was at our house, so I thought he might have to be the one to take me which would've been interesting. But Jordan got there right after I gathered my things and prepared to leave. We took the baby bag too, not knowing what we'd be told or what would happen!
A wonderful thing about the birthing center is that for all my appointments and everything I just parked and walked right in to be checked. No parking decks, no long walk or elevators, no check-in, hardly ever any waiting, no "let me see your insurance card again", nothing. Just, "Hey, Ashley!" from any of the midwives or staff and then right to it. SO GREAT. I totally understand why people have those feelings of not wanting go in too soon or be sent home, and this aspect of it really helped with that because it just didn't seem like a big deal to go in.
Jewel checked me and immediately said, "Wow, your cervix is completely thinned out and you're 1-2cm dilated. You're in early labor!" Jordan was in there too and we looked at each other like WHAT. She said I'd probably end up back at the birth center to stay in the next 24 hours, so to go home and rest and eat. She actually said to have a glass of wine and take a bath to relax, haha. (I didn't. I chose sparkling grape juice and played Bingo on my iPad instead. Pretty sure I killed it in Bingo that night.) She told me to call as soon as contractions started, since I was already effaced it could go fast. We listened to his heartbeat and she measured me, commenting on how he'd be a little guy. (So weird that this was Judah in there the whole time. SO weird.)
Celebrating being in labor!
We left, prayed, and called our parents to tell them it would probably be that weekend. They were surprisingly calm or were at least putting on that front, haha. We picked up food at ChickFilA, but Jordan couldn't really eat because he was still getting over the stomach bug. (Great timing, right?) When we got home I ate, took a shower, and made sure I had everything ready to go if need be. I thought I was having some sensations that felt a little stronger than Braxton Hicks, but I wouldn't even call them cramps. (My monthly crazy cramps that put me out of commission and made me throw up set the bar high when it came to pain in that area.)
Jordan was SUPER restless and going around cleaning and disinfecting everything in case there were germs from his bug, getting the guest rooms ready for people to stay with us, and he even put together a bed. I was spending even more time on all fours, praying the baby would turn around. It was tough to go to sleep that night because we were both pretty hyped up and just anxious to see what would happen. I had been sleeping in the guest room due to his germs and my general largeness so we went our separate ways for the night.
And of course, as soon I was finally dozing off around 12:30 am, I had my first oh I think THIS may be a contraction moment. It was a sensation that started in my back and wrapped around my belly like a slight cramp. They weren't very painful, but enough to make me not be able to sleep because I was thinking about it and excited. I laid there dozing between the cramping and kept thinking about how Jewel said to call her as soon as they started. 
I went and joined Jordan in bed to tell him what was going on. At this point I still wasn't positive they were contractions (they definitely were), so we waited until they were more regular to call. I was kinda confused because most of the feeling was in my back. Meanwhile, poor Jordan was still feeling badly and threw up a couple times. Delightful.

Saturday, 3/14/15
At 4:48am I called Jewel. Well, I called the answering service who forwarded me to Jewel. The answering lady asked me a few questions and sorta made me feel like I shouldn't be calling. Before she forwarded the call she said, "So, is this an emergency?" and I replied (probably in an annoyed tone, sorry lady), "I don't know but I'm just doing what the person I'm trying to call told me to do!!!" anddd she then dialed Jewel, haha. The contractions had been about 6 minutes apart, but were back to 10-12 minutes. She said she was on call until 7am and would prepare and be ready to meet me at the birth center if they became closer together again regularly. She told me to call back if that happened and gave me her cell number, but that she would forward the info on to the next midwife on call, Luanne. 
Jordan's ohmywordthisishappening face early in the morning
I got ready for the day and tried to do some normal things to distract myself. Luanne called and wanted us to meet her at the birth center at 8:30 to be checked again. I was happy to have another checkpoint even if the contractions weren't consistent. When she checked me I was 3cm dilated, so the contractions were definitely doing something even though it wasn't super fast. She was excited and confident she would be the one attending our birth. They had some classes and tours to do and said to let her know if things changed and come back at 2pm (since we live so close) before she left for the day, just in case we should stay then.
Filling out Judah's birth certificate paperwork
We went home to rest and eat, and I think I was able to get some sleep at this point. It's hard to remember. We started contacting people to let them know it looked like it'd be that weekend. Our siblings came in from Chapel Hill and Charlotte, and Jordan's parents were going to leave Greensboro after his dad (a pastor) finished a funeral.
I mainly labored at home -- sitting or leaning on the birthing ball (just your standard exercise ball, nothing special), walking around, leaning on whatever surface was close by and swaying through contractions. Since that morning all feeling in the front was gone -- it was completely back labor. If it was still wrapping around to the front I didn't feel it because it was SO concentrated in my lower back. I wanted to walk outside but it was a super dreary and rainy day, so we went to the Harris Teeter by the birthing center to walk around. Jordan has a pretty funny video of me swaying through contractions in the aisles.
At the 2pm check, I was 4cm dilated. I was nervous that I'd still be at 3, so that was encouraging. I was making progress with contractions that were extremely manageable in my opinion. She sent me home to continue until I couldn't talk through contractions and they were consistently 5 minutes apart.
We went back to our house to hang out with the siblings. This was such a fun part of the day -- being with family, watching Parks & Rec, just hanging out like nothing was happening. Well...for the most part. I could tell they were a little nervous (when I say they I mean JOSEPH haha) especially when I would pause and sway through a contraction. I preferred them to carry on talking but most times they couldn't help but stop completely and wait for me/sit there nervously.
They left to get food and brought me back a Frosty, then Jordan and Joe kindly went to go get me some crazy bread from Little Caesar's which was the only thing I could think of that I wanted. I'm pretty sure it's because I had recently gone back and read Megan Tree's birth story and she ate crazy bread while in labor and that stuck in my mind, hahaha. That wasn't all that I ate that night because I was trying to fuel up, but I NEEDED that crazy bread.
At some point during this time Jordan and I had a little break down because he was still feeling so badly and I felt so bad for him. He was worried that he wouldn't be able to be strong for me at the time I needed it most and that he wouldn't be himself for the birth. We spent some time alone praying that God would give us the perfect amount of strength that would be needed for what was ahead. We knew we couldn't do it through our own ability. 
Blake joined us and then both sets of parents got there which made it feel like woah, this is happening. I was so happy for Jordan to be able to have support from our parents, it was exactly what he needed. Shortly after arriving, I had a few contractions in front of my mom and mother-in-law and they both were like, Ashley, CALL the woman. I kept thinking they would get worse and spread all over my abdomen and not just my back, but that never happened. I called and she tried to make me talk through a contraction on the phone, but I couldn't really do it. So off we went!
You can read Part 2 here.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Welcome, Judah William!

Judah William Shelley

March 15, 2015

5:07 am

6 lbs. 10 oz.

20.5 in. long

We are praising the Lord for the gift of our son!


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Baby Shelley: 38 Weeks

38 Weeks

Weight gain: 26 lbs.

Maternity clothes: Today as an older woman stared at me at a gas station, I realized it was probably because the bottom part of my belly was hanging out of my 9th grade softball sweatpants + maternity shirt that no longer fits combo. In my defense, I just drove down the road there to get Gatorade for my sick husband....but still. It was a sight that did not need to be seen. I'm definitely past the point of maternity jeans, they are too tight since he's moved down some!

Sleep: Good once I actually get to sleep. There's just so much stuff running through my head and the kid likes to party late at night.

Medication: Same -- one Zofran a day, Zantac as needed, which isn't as much.

Gender: BOY!

Food cravings: Soda, Starburst jellybeans, cold treats like Icees, Frostys, and ice cream. Still breakfast food.

Food aversions: Nothing specifically, but I'll be eating something and will have been enjoying it but all the sudden I'm like, "I hate this food and don't want it at all," quite abruptly.

Mood: I've been consistently happy and much more myself the past week. :) Only one bout of tears which came because Jordan is sick and he looked so miserable and there wasn't much I could do. People who are due the same week as me have been having their babies which gives me a jittery, nervous feeling when I see that. It freaks me out honestly....because I'm going to have to actually do that too.

Movement: Not as strong because he can't move around much at this point, but still an active boy for sure. 

Milestones: Ordered our last supplies using the registry completion discount, learned a lot at breastfeeding class (yes, Jordan went and rocked it), had our last pre-baby planned game night at our house, finally hung some stuff on the nursery walls, washed all of baby's newborn and 0-3 month clothes along with his blankets, burp cloths, and such. Found out I don't have Strep B which is nice. The swelling definitely kicked in for reallll this week. It's funny because I have super narrow and flat feet with scrawny ankles, so now that my feet are swollen most of my shoes actually fit better. :) But I know I'm just stretching them out, haha.

Best moments of the week: My sister-in-law Anna stayed with us and we loved hanging out with her. Playing Hedbanz and Reverse Charades at game night was hilarious, hanging out and eating dinner with my parents multiple times, getting the nursery SO much more ready. Jordan spoke at church on Sunday and did an amazing job in my opinion -- all glory to God! Got to see two of my bestest friends for lunch this week -- one of them recently had her second little boy so she gave me LOTS of great advice. So thankful.

Quotes: People keep asking me if I'm ready or miserable and the answer to both of those is an easy "no". I don't think I'll ever actually be ready. It's all so surreal and hard to picture a little baby living with us. It's awesome but just WEIRD.

Jordan quotes: So as I've mentioned, I've been wearing Jordan's clothes a lot. We went to my parents' house for dinner Saturday night and I didn't bother to change into something that was less...manly. So Jordan took to calling me "Steve" for the night, while also referring to me as "buddy" or "man". 

Verses I've been dwelling on: "The Lord, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed." -- Deut. 31:8


Friday, March 6, 2015

Home Maternity Photos by Sarah Seay Photography

We had some maternity pictures taken in our home by the AMAZING Sarah Seay Photography

If you live anywhere near the Raleigh, NC, area you MUST check her out. She is the perfect mix of laid back and professional. Sarah definitely knows her stuff and made us feel so comfortable. LOVE her and how the pictures turned out! We did a second round outside on a nice day so those will be coming soon too. :)

These were taken when I was 35 weeks pregnant. The maxi dress is from Pink Blush Maternity. The white maternity tank and black pants are from Destination Maternity, and the gray cardigan is from Loft. Our bedding is from Target

All photos by Sarah Seay Photography.


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