Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Extreme Makeover: (Byers) Home Edition


This post has been a loooong time coming.  As you may know, there were some unexpected issues with our house when we moved in almost two years ago.  We've worked since the very first day we lived here to rectify and remedy these issues, and we are so thankful to finally be able to say we're done!  Yes, there will always be home improvement projects, but these were more necessary than cosmetic and more pressing than most.

The most recent renovation occurred in our bathroom.  We'd picked out and purchased many of the new elements in the room around the time we moved into this house, but they were banished to the storage room till we were able to tackle this project.  I was able to snap some before, in between, and after shots.  We're so pleased with the end result!
There's no "before" picture, but the shower head is a few inches higher than it was. 
If you've met my hubby, you probably understand why this was a necessary update. ☺

Found this sign at Hobby Lobby (with coupon, of course), but it didn't match the vanity, so...
...I stained it!

Long before the bathroom project could be completed, we needed to insure our basement would be usable in both sunshine and rain.  So, over the course of a year and a half, we completed several related projects both inside and outside.  So much credit goes to my amazingly handy hubby - from planning to executing and brain power to man power - he orchestrated and managed everything so well.  We're also so thankful for all those who helped us (finally) reach the finished product.  Whether they were paid by check or by cookies, we had some really wonderful help, all around.

These pictures don't really do the projects justice.  So, so much time and work went into them all!
Front step, bushes, tree, and lots of dirt out...
...drain tile in.

One surprise lead to another!  haha...
We had the tile professionally removed, but then, Bryant worked many long hours to put on the epoxy finish.
Turned out so great!
The long table/chair/carpet wasn't meant to be a permanent fixture, but it sure comes in handy! 
Glad to have plenty of space and flexibility!

Inherited some leftover landscaping pavers, so now, we have a firepit!
(This was a fall project, so these pics are old...and they're making a s'more sound extra good, right now...)

Not pictured: seemingly daily "medium," "small," and "tiny" updates/fixes/renovations including, but not limited to: purchasing and installing a new microwave within about 4 hours time beginning at 7 p.m. (this was definitely one of those "out of necessity" projects...), replacing light switches, fixing toilets and faucets, figuring out how to better heat the basement, adding hooks to the inside of the bathroom closet door, etc., etc. 

This may not have been a total home makeover, but some of it did seem fairly extreme.  We're excited for the promise of warmer weather allowing us to tackle some less-necessary-more-fun projects outside (garden, landscaping, etc.)!

As usual, thanks for reading and for your interest!

With dust in my hair and paint on my clothes (not really, but those both occurred over the course of the aforementioned projects, so it counts, right?),

Favorites of the day:
concrete dust (NOT - oh man...definitely not a favorite...)
spontaneous day dates with my boys
freeze-dried pears (the ones I've had are from Aldi!)
this "busy board" we made for Jacob with things we had around the house:

Friday, February 16, 2018

My younger man ♥

This is one of those posts I started several months ago. I've added a few things since, but it's mostly as I wrote it then. Glad to be able to share it now, though, because today is the subject(my husband)'s birthday! Please enjoy this post about how wonderful he is and join me in celebrating him! (Yes - he's younger than me, but not by much.)

I just need to brag on my husband for a bit. Not in a "my husband is better than yours" way, or anything like that. Just in a "he's amazing and I want to publicly thank him" way.

Here's the thing:

We often say, "We sure got a good baby!" Not only is he so precious and adorable, but he's also just been an easy baby. He's spoiling us, for sure.

That being said, there have been hard days. Some of those hard days may be the norm for other parents; some of them may be on par with what others experience; some may be worse. Regardless, they get to me, sometimes. I've been labeled a "high achiever," "goody-two-shoes," and a "perfectionist" at various points in my life. I can't help but get down on myself and feel as though I've failed when even the smallest thing doesn't go as it should. (And I can't function well if something is unresolved/out of place/lost/etc.) So, needless to say, when I don't know exactly what to do for my baby and/or nothing I try seems to work, I feel like I'm failing him. Because of my woman's "spaghetti" brain, this permeates into every other aspect of life, and I end up feeling like I'm not succeeding at anything - esp. at being a wife.

Those hard days when I'm feeling like a failure and can't seem to figure out how to function normally are the days when my husband shines especially bright. He never fails to greet me with a hug and a kiss, regardless of how I look or feel. He asks how he can help and/or observes a need and meets it without being asked. He gives me what I need without me knowing I needed it. (Examples of this include: sending me to Target with instructions to get a Starbucks drink and look around a while, even though we only need one thing; clipping a mani/pedi coupon and making sure I go redeem it; finding a Groupon for a massage and sending me to redeem it only after I go get something I want for lunch; taking the load of laundry I just pulled from the dryer and telling me to stay downstairs to watch figure skating while he folds it upstairs.) My personality type does not do a good job of self-care. Self-initiated self-care makes me feel selfish/guilty/unproductive. I'm getting a little better at it, but only because my husband strongly encourages me in this department. I've fought him on it at times, but he stands his ground, and I always come out better for following his instruction. And though he totally deserves to do so, he doesn't even say, "Told ya."

I may have said it before, but he's just such a great dad...and a great husband to me as a mom. He works hard for our family and comes home excited to spend time with us and ready to help however he can. We've continued to do lots of work on our house (more on that later), and I'm continually amazed at all he knows how and learns to do!

We celebrated our third wedding anniversary in October, and in addition to taking me out for dinner (sans baby for the first time, thanks to some dear friends), he also got me these very thoughtful gifts:

Red roses, because that's what my bridal bouquet was comprised of.
The traditional gift for a third year anniversary is leather, so he arranged to have this special sentiment printed on a piece of leather! ♥ 
Though I wrote most of this post months ago, it still all rings true today - perhaps even more so! I simply can't imagine life without this amazing man by my side, and I'm so very thankful for him and the life we've built together.

Happy birthday, Bryant!☺ Love you so much! ♥


Favorites of the day:
consignment sales
podcasts (let me know if you'd like recommendations!)
This tiny cake, because #moderation, but also #birthdaycake. ☺ 

Monday, February 12, 2018

The month I gave up chocolate...and cheese...and bread...and all the things, actually...

I had plans for how I was going to start this post, but then I realized I haven't posted anything since SEPTEMBER!  Seriously?!  I do have a few drafts started, so maybe that's why I was under the impression I'd been more on top of this...but...guess not.

So, before I go on, I feel the need to reintroduce myself:

Name: Kensy
Age: 30 (yep - meant to post about that one...kinda crazy)
Relationship status: married (to the most wonderful man)
Kids: one 7-month-old son (also, a boy cat and a girl dog)
Degree: B.M.E. Instrumental Music Education
Job: primary job title is "Mom" (so thankful for this), private music instructor, Pampered Chef consultant
Hobbies: keyboardist on church praise team, member of the Parkville Symphonic Band trumpet section, stamping/making cards, crafting/DIY home improvement projects, catching up on shows online (PTL for this...no cable or DVR in this house), bargain shopping

Ok, I think that's good, for now.  If you've been a longtime reader, you know waaaay more than that about me, but for those of you who may be new to the "scoop," nice to meet ya.  ☺

So, about that title: it's true.  I actually did that, and I still can't really believe it.

My husband and I made the decision several months ago to do the Whole30 elimination diet in the month of January.  For those of you unfamiliar with the plan, you can read all you want by clicking here, but in short, it's 30 days of no sugar (or sweeteners), grains, dairy, legumes, or additives - no exceptions and no cheat days - followed by a 12-day reintroduction period.  The program also discourages snacking, mimicking "treats" with compliant ingredients, or treating yourself, even with compliant items (i.e. having some fruit instead of a candy bar just because you had a bad day and "need" something sweet).

This wasn't something we formally signed up for, we didn't pay for a plan, or anything, and it wasn't prescribed.  We'd heard and read about it in various spaces, and for several reasons, decided to give it a go.  This program is not meant to be a "diet" in the traditional sense - you're not limited as to how much you eat, but rather, what you eat.  It's meant to make you more aware of how you're fueling your body, to reset your body to use the right things for fuel, and to make you aware of any allergies/negative reactions you may have to certain food groups.

If you know me/us at all, you know this was not easy.  We both definitely have a sweet tooth (or five...).  I LOVE to bake!  We're foodies and love to try new restaurants (KC restaurant week happened in January!).  Food is one of my love languages.  As much as I like to cook, shopping for and preparing every single (compliant) meal in our own kitchen for 30+ days was challenging.  Saying "no" to treats, convenience foods, and a couple social engagements centered around food was not fun.

For me, personally, however, the "cold turkey" and "no exceptions" rules were helpful.  I have enough goody-two-shoes in me that I won't try to color outside the lines if I'm told I can't and enough persistence (or maybe it's stubbornness...or OCD) to see things through to the end - esp. when there's a clear end in sight.  Telling myself that everything is ok in "moderation" has not served me super well, lately, esp. coming out of pregnancy as well as finding that breastfeeding doesn't burn as many extra calories (for me, at least) as I'd hoped.

What was even more helpful was doing all this alongside my husband.  We were accountable to each other, could empathize with each other, and obviously, ate the same things all month.  He was so helpful and supportive, and we're better for it.

Now that we're fresh out of the reintroduction phase and completely done with the program, I'd like to do a little self-reflecting.  Thought I'd do it here just in case any of you are interested. ☺

In no particular order:
  • We couldn't have done this without a plan.  I started a Whole30 Pinterest board months ago (I'm curious as to whether or not that link works if you don't have Pinterest - let me know!), and in the weeks leading up to the new year, we planned out the entire month's worth of menus.  This involved a hand-written calendar, an Excel spreadsheet, and a notebook of printed-out recipes; all of which may have been a little more excessive than necessary, but we knew we wanted/needed variety and meals we'd be excited about, and if we didn't plan for it, we'd end up eating the same 3 meals a day all month...or falling off the wagon altogether.
  • Though it wasn't the intended result, we did lose a fairly significant amount of weight, considering this was not paired with an exercise regimen (unless you count lifting/carrying an increasingly-heavier baby boy).  Though I've not been vocal/public about it, at all, I've struggled with my weight pretty much my whole life.  Losing/maintaining/feeling good in my own skin/etc./etc. - it's all just been a constant for many years.  People have asked if I liked being pregnant, and honestly, one of the reasons I did was because it was so acceptable and commendable to be "big."  This Whole30 month was a healthy (in all senses of the word) reminder that my body will self-regulate if only I give it what it truly needs.  Yes, there is something to be said for exercise/regular activity, as well as treating oneself, and we'll be working to rediscover that balance as we move forward.
  • Sugar is everywhere.  This was the hardest ingredient to avoid...and where it wasn't there was honey or maple syrup or some other substitute.  The most surprising label I found sugar on: chicken broth!  Seriously.  I stood in that isle for many minutes reading labels and trying to find something compliant to put in my cart.  I'd made some of our own, but wanted to have something on stand-by, just in case, and I couldn't believe I almost had to go away empty-handed.
  • Speaking of grocery shopping - this became an unexpectedly different experience for me.  You know I love to grocery shop.  And I knew it would be somewhat different, but didn't foresee some of the ways it was.  I made an ingredient list for each week's meals and stuck to that shopping list.  Whereas previously, I may have shopped the sales and cooked accordingly, I bought only what we needed for the week and sometimes (gasp) paid full price for items.  My "impulse buys" became fruit and Larabars that were unexpectedly on sale.  Haha.  Also had to pass up samples...who AM I?!
  • We chose to do this plan in January not because it was a "resolution," but because we didn't have any celebrations/gatherings/travel plans for the month, so it was the easiest time to bunker down at home, if you will, and not be super tempted or inconvenienced when trying to eat compliantly.  An unexpected bonus to doing it at this time: Jacob started eating baby food, so I just made any extra fruits and veggies we had into food for him!  (He's doing great with it all, by the way - haven't found anything he doesn't like, yet!)  A downside to doing it when we did, though - the end of the reintroduction phase is dumping us straight into Valentine's Day and Bryant's birthday week.  Fingers crossed that we can maintain our newly-formed habits, despite all the treats.

I'm not going to get on a soap box about eating raw/organic/plant-based/etc., but this really was enlightening for us.  You don't have to eat "rabbit food" to eat healthfully.  Eating what's good for you doesn't mean you're doomed to "eat, drink, and be sad" forever and ever.  All it takes is a little awareness, a dose of discipline and self-control, and probably some extra time in the kitchen.  (Also, more money in the "groceries" line and less in the "eating out" line on the budget.)

A couple "funnies" from our month:
  • On the "non-gluten grains" reintroduction day, when we could have rice and corn, we planned to have Chipotle.  We looked forward to this day basically the whole month and were even more excited when two things happened: 1. We discovered that we could have chips (!!!), and 2. We received a BOGO coupon in the mail!  This day also fell on Super Bowl Sunday, so it was nice to pretend we were having special treats while watching the game.  Haha.  ☺
  • We took communion twice before realizing the grape juice and piece of pie crust were not compliant.  Woops...  Figured if that was the worst we were doing as far as "slipping up" goes, we were probably ok and took it, anyway, the rest of the month.
Here are a few of the yummy things we made/ate!

Thanks for sticking with me and for reading!  Happy to answer any questions you have, as always.

If you've done Whole30 or a similar plan, we'd love it if you shared any tried-and-true recipes!


Favorites of the day:
"The Greatest Showman" soundtrack
having CFA on gluten reintroduction day!!
baby-initiated peek-a-boo

Friday, September 15, 2017

Things I've Learned As a Mom 1.0

1. Baby fingernails peel off.  Somehow, this came up in the delivery room with our doctor...and somehow I had no idea of this fact.  We haven't used fingernail clippers on Jacob, yet, because really - they're still soft enough to just peel off.  Full disclosure: Yes, I've used my teeth to start the process a couple times.  I've never been a nail-biter; who knew I'd bite my kid's nails.  But still - I'm sharing this for all those moms with babies who may also not know how easy taming those talons can be.  You're welcome.

2. Moms planning to breastfeed their babies should invest in some comfy, quality nursing bras/camis/tanks/tops before giving birth.  I know sizing is a little tricky at that time, but postpartum clothes shopping is trickier.  Not only can it be difficult to actually get to the store, but also, who wants to try on clothes at that time in their life?  It's not fun or enjoyable.  Period.  There is the option of online shopping, which is totally doable, but you've gotta have something to wear in the 2 days before Amazon Prime can get your purchase(s) to your door. ☺

3. It's ok to give your baby more than the Dr.-suggested amount when supplementing while breastfeeding.  Whether it's formula or pumped milk, it doesn't matter - if he's hungry, he's hungry.  You may cry the first couple of times.  It may hurt your feelings/pride/sense of self-worth.  In the end, however, just know that you're giving your baby what he needs.  I knew this before becoming a mom, but implementing it for myself was harder than I thought.  There's a lot more to be said about it, but it's easier to discuss in person.  I'm sharing a bit here, though, because I think the breastfeeding/formula/feeding struggle is real for so many, and I want to provide a little solidarity for those who have been/are/will be in the same situation.  Also - I'm obviously not a doctor, so please consult your own when figuring out what is best for your own little one.

4. Commemorative plaster/clay newborn foot/handprint molds are mostly not worth doing.  Unless you want to lose your sanity/test your marriage/cry all the frustrated tears, I'd recommend skipping it.  I mean, you could wait to do them till your sweet babe is a little older/bigger and you are not quite so much under the influence of postpartum hormones, limited sleep, and so many other things that aren't going quite as you'd hoped...but then you wouldn't get the oh-so-tiny little prints to remember forever and ever.  Your call.

6. Baby smiles can pretty much fix anything.

7. Sleep when the baby sleeps, but only if you can peel yourself away from watching them sleep.  ☺

There are probably several more things I could add to this list, but will leave it at that, for now.  Would love to hear/read any additions you have to the list!


P.S. Thanks so much to those of you who checked in after my last post.  I didn't mean for it to be quite the pity party it may have come across as - simply a glimpse into the reality of new-motherhood - but I sure appreciate all the positive feedback and support!  ☺

Favorites of the day:
zucchini bread
fall ☺
This birthday card from a former place of employment...where part of my job was caring for 2 sweet kitties.
They signed the card! ♥

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

My New To-Do

If you know me at all, you know I can't function without lists (ok - maybe that's an exaggeration, but let's just say I can't function well without them).  Not lists on my phone or in my head or on my computer; real-life-hard-copy-pen-to-paper lists.  This is why I regularly receive post-it notes as gifts and help myself to the complimentary notepads in hotel rooms.

A former boss of mine required his employees to keep to-do lists, and we'd report on them at our weekly staff meetings.  (Click here and here to read more about that job...you won't regret it!  There are probably more posts that refer to it, but those are the two I found in a quick search. ☺)  As you can imagine, I thrived in that environment.  My memory fails me often - it did before I was pregnant, you know about "pregnancy brain," and now I've got the "Mom brain" going for me.  Lists not only help me remember to do things, but they also give me a sense of purpose and accomplishment.  The visual of the tasks I plan to complete is a small representation of my place in the world, and as you may be able to relate to, crossing items off my list(s) is a representation of accomplishment.

So, all that said, it should come as no surprise to know I nearly always have a written to-do list (or two or three) somewhere in our home.  This, of course, does not include the home improvement project list we've kept since moving into this house, the list of meals my husband has requested, the list of restaurants we want to try, etc. etc. ☺  My to-do lists have always included a variety of items, from event planning to household chores to correspondence I hope to make...the list goes on and on (pun intended).

Lately, however, my list has been fairly short (feed baby, sleep, eat, change diapers)...and hasn't (*gasp*) been written down.  The other day, however, I had a few things I wanted to accomplish, so I made a list for the first time in a few weeks.  It was still short, but it included a few non-baby-related things that needed to be done and could realistically be accomplished in my few moments of spare time.  It also included, however, the following two items: "pump" and "shower."  The "pump" refers to the daily task of pumping extra milk between morning feedings.  The "shower" refers to the not-so-daily luxury of bathing.  Ha.

Anyway, what surprised me about this (and the reason I'm writing about it) was the fact that I didn't think twice when writing these two items on my to-do list.  The pumping is new, of course, but even though it's something that has become routine, completing the task still gives me a sense of accomplishment.  And the shower?  This is something I would've laughed about adding to a to-do list prior to birthing a child.  But, now, having/taking time to do this small item of self-care gives me a great sense of accomplishment...which is why I added it to the list without even thinking.

I'll be honest and tell you this transition into motherhood hasn't been easy.  Yes, there are postpartum hormones that play into it, but there's definitely been some confusion/heartache/anxiety/mourning/etc. in figuring out and wrapping my mind (and heart) around my new role.  I recently told a fellow new mom I was having a bit of trouble figuring out my new identity, and she gently reminded me that our identity need only be in Christ.  Duh, Kensy!  Of course, I know this, and try my best to put it into practice, but in these moments of wondering if I'm "enough" as this baby's mom, wondering if I'm still fulfilling my role as a wife, wondering if I'll ever feel like I'm contributing outside of our home, wondering if I'm keeping up with friendships...none of it matters.  I am a child of God - first, foremost, and most importantly.  My new role as a mother is an extension of my ministry on this earth - just like my role as a wife, friend, teacher, etc.

Still lots of "things" to figure out and get used to, but that's nothing new - life always brings change and learning opportunities.  It's the subjects (the "things") of those changes and opportunities that are new.

As always, I appreciate you reading and bearing with my sometimes-convoluted thoughts. ♥

List-fully (ha),

Favorites of the day:
my husband - can't brag on him enough - he's the greatest!
s'mores English muffins (seriously...try them!)

Friday, July 21, 2017

New job titles: Mom & Dad

I don't know if I've ever told you this, but in jr. high, I was nicknamed "Mom" by my circle of friends.  This nickname stuck and permeated into other circles throughout high school and college.  For the first time, now, however, I can officially assume this role!

Our son, Jacob Earl, was born Monday, July 3, 2017 at 8:54 p.m.  He weighed 6 lbs. 7 oz. and measured 19 in. long.  I know several of you are interested in all the details, but several of you aren't, so I've written a separate post about his birth story.  Click here if you'd like to read it!  The nutshell version, though: it went well.  ☺

Perhaps my favorite part of being pregnant was watching Bryant getting increasingly excited to be a dad...and that "favorite" has permeated into motherhood.  I love how much he loves our son.  It's so awesome to see him assume a brand new role so naturally and so well.  Definitely brings a tear to my eye.

I have cried many tears over this baby, already (quite literally - have to wipe them off his super-squeezable cheeks, sometimes).  They start as happy tears - tears of gratitude for the gift God has given us in this son.  Tears of overflowing love for him.  Tears of amazement at the way he looks at me, and that he looks around for his dad and me when he hears us speak and did so even in his first few moments in the world.

My happy tears, however, soon turn to tears of heartache.  Perhaps it's my hormones leaking, as I like to say, but more likely, it's my heart growing to understand new heights of joy and realizing the potential for equal depths of pain.  My heart aches for those who long to be mothers and are still patiently waiting on God's timing and answer to their persistent prayers.  My heart aches for those mothers who have lost children, young and old.  It aches for those whose are witnessing their babies going through illness and pain.

These tears change again, however, to tears of admiration.  Admiration of all the mothers who have gone before me - those I've known, those I've observed from afar, and those I've only heard about.  It's been made clear to me that a mother's sacrificial love manifests itself in so, so many ways - before and after birth!  It is shown in late-night feedings and early morning diaper changes.  In months of careful eating and health monitoring in an effort to get pregnant.  In wanting the very best for her child, regardless of the implications on herself.  In financial saving and sacrifices to fund adoption and/or fostering.  In sore nipples and tears of pain during breastfeeding.  In complete lifestyle changes and priority shifts.  Obviously, this is not a comprehensive list - only the tip of the "mother's love" iceberg - but it's what's on my heart, right now.  A mother loves her child so much before she meets him/her, and though it doesn't seem like there could possibly be any more love to give, that love just continues to multiply once she holds her child in her arms and watches him/her grow.  It's amazing.

(A father's love is similar, of course, but I can't speak about it as knowledgeably...☺)

On a lighter note...I believe I promised you pictures of the nursery.  ☺  Keep in mind these were taken before Jacob arrived.  There have been some subtractions/additions of various things, and it definitely looks more "lived in," currently.  Wish I could somehow attach the "new baby" smell for you all!  (I mean that wonderfully good "new baby" smell - nothing to do with poopy diapers, though in an effort to keep it real, I'd probably attach that, too.)
This is a "before" picture of the bookshelf corner...
...and after!
Shelves courtesy of IKEA - custom cuts and installation courtesy of my handy husband!
So many great things in this pic!
The dresser-turned-changing-table was found and delivered by Bryant's parents and painted by his talented sister.  Isn't it beautiful?!  And it's the perfect size/height.
You may recognize the pennant banner and diaper cake from a couple different showers.
The little wagon is holding alphabet blocks is an antique from my dad's side of the family.
Another great hand-made gift and little boots from ancestors on my dad's side of the family.
We were so excited when we found this rocker at a consignment sale - it was just what we were looking for!
The afghan was made by a friend (it's the perfect size - Jacob and I have used it every time he's nursed!).
Boppy and cover (and cute little tote down there) were much-appreciated, practical gifts.
We couldn't believe our luck when we found this crib on clearance at NFM at 1/3 of the original price!
Both blankets were handmade gifts.
You may recognize the wall-hangings from the showers, as well.
We'd been collecting books here and there for a long time and have been gifted so, so many since our pregnancy news and baby's arrival.
The frog was a gift, and the striped bin was the very first thing I purchased for the nursery after finding out our baby was a boy.

That's all, for now, from this new mom!  Thanks, as usual, for reading and for your interest, love, and support.


Favorites of the day:
Our first date night as parents: "Netflix and Chill" with ice cream souvenirs we brought home from the hospital.
(Do you get it?  "chill" - ice cream?  Haha.  Bryant has been killing it with the "Dad Jokes," already.  Though, if you know him at all, you know he was ultra-prepared in that department, and had been practicing long before adding the "Dad" part to his joke repertoire.  ;)
the fact that this baby is starting to learn the difference between night and day, already!
These precious bright eyes.  Can't wait to see what color they turn out to be!
His mom and dad's are hazel and green, respectfully, so we'll see.

Our Birth Story

"Remember that time we packed our hospital bag thinking we were just being prepared, and our son was born 24 hours later?"

This is something we'll be saying for a long time to come, I'm sure.

For real, though – we had JUST packed our bag. Bryant said, “If we pack it now, he’ll come on time. If we don’t, he’ll come tomorrow.” And as he likes to say, now, "I was half right!"  Our baby boy gave us the best surprise by coming 18 days early, and we were so glad to get to meet him sooner than expected!

Here are the details for those of you are interested:

I woke up at about 1:00 a.m. thinking I was wetting the bed. I got up to go to the bathroom thinking, “Gosh – I’ve really lost all control…also, I haven’t peed this much in a long time!” (I’ve been known to have a “peanut” for a bladder when I’m not pregnant…so, when pregnancy squished that "peanut" in half (or more)...you get the idea.)

Anyway, I started to change the sheets, thinking the ordeal was over and I'd just go back to sleep (of course, we'd gone to bed later than usual that night).  Before I was able to wake Bryant, he rolled over, woke up from a dream, saw me out of bed with the sheets half off the bed, and said, "Woah!"  I told him what I thought had happened, but that the "pee" was still coming out.  Cue Google and a "how do I know my water is breaking" search.  All the while, I was still in denial.  Surely my water hadn't broken.  Surely we're not going to the hospital to check.  SURELY we won't be staying to have our son tonight!

Once Bryant was up for real, though, he was sure of what was happening and was in "go" mode right away.  He was so sweet to let me take time to shower, help get the sheets in the wash and put new ones on, make sure I ate something substantial, and tie up a few other loose ends (getting a b-day card in the mail, tidying up the kitchen counter, starting the dishwasher, etc....I wanted to do all the things!) before we left (because he knew we wouldn't be coming home for a couple days...I was still in denial, I think).

We checked in to the hospital around 4:30 a.m., and it was confirmed we were going to be having a baby that day!  My water had indeed broken (thank goodness I'd purchased some disposable underwear (lady diapers) on sale that week and had them handy to wear on the way...), and I was 80% effaced and dilated 2 cm.  We enjoyed a beautiful sunrise from our room and settled in to await the arrival of our son!

Around lunchtime, the contractions started to get more "uncomfortable," but my progress was kinda stuck at 95% and 4 cm.  So, around 3:45 p.m., they put me on a dose of Pitocin to "get things moving," since my water had already broken.  True to their warning, the Pitocin resulted in stronger and more productive contractions.  I had decided to go through labor and delivery without an epidural and had planned to not opt for any pain meds.  I'd hoped to use the Jacuzzi tub as a "last resort" sort of relief, but when I got to the point of asking to use it, the nurse kindly reminded me that I wasn't able to, since my water had already broken.  So, at that point, I went ahead and asked for a dose of pain meds in my IV, since that was my only option for a bit of relief.  Not too long after that, it was time to push (for ~26 mins.), and then, we were holding our son!

Backing up a bit to that whole labor process: wow.  I need to say first and foremost: I couldn't have done it without my husband.  From the time he woke up when I was changing the sheets to the delivery of our son, he was the BEST partner I could've asked for.  He had done a ton of research in preparation for our natural childbirth and had began coaching me on relaxation techniques several weeks prior.  When the time came to implement these techniques and tools, he was ready!  Not only did he provide his own constant encouragement, but he even asked several women in my life to write notes of encouragement/support/distraction to give me during the many hours of labor!  He knows me so well.

I wish I could put into words what an out-of-body experience it all was.  I truly felt like a crazy person for a few hours toward the end.  I just wanted to be able to hug and thank all the nurses for enduring the moaning/yelling/writhing hot mess I was, but literally, all I could do was not-super-kindly ask for various "needs" during that time (a hand to push, less pressure there, another pillow here, etc.).  I can't imagine what Bryant was thinking/feeling seeing me like that.

Perhaps the most special part of the whole process was our awesome doctor letting Bryant assist with the delivery - he got to be the very first person to hold our son!  What an amazing experience for him.  I have to say, I am a little embarrassed by my initial face after delivery.  I think I was just in shock that the many hours of labor were actually over and I wasn't in pain, and I was also in awe of the baby they were placing on my chest.  It really took me a couple minutes to come back to my right mind and wrap my head around what was happening.  It didn't take long, however, for the joy, amazement, and gratitude to set in - our son was here!

Another cool thing about the whole process: there was an EMT student who had asked to observe our birth.  When she asked if she could, my only question before agreeing was, "Can you take pictures?"  She was more than willing to do so, and she caught some truly amazing moments that we will cherish for a long, long time.  She was also willing to assist with my labor needs, which Bryant was extra thankful for.  He told me, "I never knew how (physically) strong you were!"  Needless to say, he was glad for an extra pair of hands.

Our hospital stay afterward was wonderful.  We had a few visitors, but were also able to spend quality time together as a new family of three!  The nurses and staff were very helpful, caring, and encouraging the whole time.  They made sure all our questions were answered - even ones we didn't know to ask - and ensured our health and comfort during our entire stay.

Though I missed out on playing in a July 4th band concert (don't worry - we listened to "Stars and Stripes Forever" on the way to the hospital to make up for it) and the fireworks show afterward, we got to watch some firework displays from the floor-to-ceiling windows in our third floor hospital room.  It was a really special night!

So, there you have it!  Thanks for being interested and reading.  Hopefully, it wasn't TMI for ya.  ☺

Recovering well,

Favorites of the day:
the Moby wrap I scored at a garage sale
flowers from Baby Jacob ☺
meals and treats from friends and family - thank you!