the day my ovaries burst

Monday, March 31, 2014

Saturday Grahm and I decided to take our now two-month-old (whale face) nugget out for her very own photo shoot. (Never mind that her new favorite thing is blowing spit bubbles.) Grahm's latest obsession is photography, so we thought it'd be wise to finally use all that expensive fabulous camera gear we have around the house. I mean, we only have 3,000 pictures of Sawyer Marie. Obviously, we need more.

Now there's not much this born-and-raised Okie gal likes about living in the land of burnt orange, longhorns, and cowboy boots. But Texas, I've got to hand it to your beautiful fields of bluebonnets. You win. They're more lovely than a dozen jelly-filled donuts.

We found a little church near our house that had lots and lots of bluebonnets. Sawyer was an angel baby and worked the camera like a pro. (I tried to tell her that she has little chance of making it past her mamma's 5-foot stature, so not to get visions of runways in her head.)
Sometimes I can't believe she's really mine.
As my friend Kaysie puts it, my ovaries just burst.
"Boob. Stat."
I'm sure I said something truly hilarious.
The best a tripod and a self-timer could do to capture our little family. I'll take it.
She has my whole heart. Every stinkin' piece.
Oh hey there, blue eyes.
Her little toes just kill me. Kill me dead.
I think Grahm did a phenomenal job taking these photographs. It's kind of annoying, actually. One of these days I'll find something I can beat him at besides pounding a gallon of ice cream. Until then I'm stuck trying to figure out what in the world aperture means.
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March Madness

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Don't worry. This post isn't about college basketball or brackets. Ick. (Sorry, Dad. I know you tried.)
If you know me at all, you know I love to clean. I'm a bit of a freak about deep scrubbing, throwing crap away, and Swiffering to my heart's content. So, as you can imagine, spring cleaning is my own little version of March madness....I just (unfortunately) won't ever win a pool at work for it. Travesty, I know.

With this year's round of spring cleaning well under way, I got to thinking about some things I do throughout the year to prevent a germ infestation in my home and bodwod. When we first got married, Grahm thought I was the weirdest gal ever for constantly replacing things we already had. "Umm, babe? We already have all this stuff."

Like my husband, you may think replacing these items in your home is a waste of money, but I assure you that a few bucks here and there are well worth it. After all, cleanliness is next to godliness... or something like that.
1. Toothbrushes: If you're not replacing this one, I have no words for you. Remind me not to kiss you any time soon. I buy Grahm and I new toothbrushes once a month, and really, I would switch to every other week but the husband struggles with remembering which color is his with the constant change ups. The germs in your mouth and on the brush are too numerous to count, even if you think you've thoroughly rinsed it out. Your basically brushing with last week's cheeseburger remains. And if your toothbrush is anywhere near your toilet, you're essentially brushing with what you're dropping in the pot. Read about it. You'll be forever changed. Put those things in a drawer, and replace them frequently.t

2. Toilet Brushes: I replace these once a month as well. When I clean our toilets once a week, I try to use the brush as little as possible, but there are some places that it's a tad unavoidable. I'm assuming I don't need to tell you what you're dropping in the bowl; and if your house is anything like ours, then your royal throne is getting plenty of action. In other words, that brush is seeing some hard time and you don't exactly want those "hard times" to be passed on to each and every cleaning. At least I don't. I'll throw my cheap brushes in a bucket of bleach a few times prior to buying new ones, but there are some things even bleach can't eliminate. Yikes.
3. Dish Scrubbers: Grahm doesn't really understand this one, but I stand by my obsession with changing out our dish scrubbers and sponges every other month. These get disgusting just sitting in your sink and getting unwanted food off your plates and pans. Bacteria, baby, and it ain't pretty. Throw these in the dishwish a few times before you buy new ones. But seriously, replace these frequently. You eat off those plates, people.

4. Dish Towels: These I don't exactly replace, but I wash more than fat fanny. I'm a huge advocate for having one zillion rolls of paper towels (pipe down, you environmentalists) and lots of wipes everywhere around the house. If you're not washing these after just a couple of uses, I'd reconsider. I mean, wouldn't it be nice to dry your clean dishes with a, oh I don't know, clean towel?
5. Shower Liners: This one seems a bit obvious to me, but I know people who have moved with their shower liners from house to house. Crazy cheapwads. I clean these every time I clean the shower (once a week), and I replace them every few months. They're more expensive and a bit of a pain to put back on, however, I prefer to scrub my bodwod without being stared down by the gunk that's accumulated over every wash. Not to mention I shed like a corgi in heat.
So moral of the story?

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I Believe I Can Fly

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

This year thus far has been chock-full of firsts. First baby. First round of sleepless nights. First time cleaning poop off of my bedspread. And if you follow me on Instagram, you already know we just experienced our first flight as a family of three to visit my family in Nashville. What you don't know, however, is the sheer mayhem behind our trip home yesterday. I'm still in recovery mode aka napping and eating copious amounts of ice cream like a champ.

As a self-proclaimed control freak with a winning A-type personality, punctuality and organization are especially important to me. When I married Grahm (the very definition of aloof), I knew I would no longer be able to arrive 15 minutes early to events like I prefer. (High school parties were rough.) Not a big deal, as long as we're still on time....

Now I'm realizing that having a child puts us way way way past the hard-and-fast line of tardiness.                                        
Babies seem to be a part of a strange time-space continuum, where time goes to die and you're not even aware of it.

Our flight was at six a.m. (First mistake.) We got up at four, or as I like to call it the boobing hour. Sawyer always seems to be especially ravenous around this time. I had already packed us up the night before, so all we needed to do was change her, feed her, and say our goodbyes to my mom and sister before my dad took us to the airport.

Forty-five minutes later (The nugget has been chowing down on the boob buffet for how many weeks now? And every time I'm still amazed at how long second breakfast takes.), we were finally headed to the airport. Another thirty minutes go by, and we're finally arriving. We now have forty minutes to check our bags, go through security, and board. Oh, and everyone and their guitar happened to be in Nashville that morning. Making our flight seemed about as impossible as resisting that fifth strip of bacon.

Panic mode started to set in as we waited in the grueling line for bag check.

We tangoed with thoughts of desperation ("Oh god, we're gonna be stuck on standby all day with a newborn!") and total ignorance ("Psh. We have plenty of time. In fact, let's get breakfast burritos before we board.")

Fifteen minutes later, our bags were checked and we frantically made our way toward the TSA line. I half expected the airport to part like the Red Sea. "Lady with a newborn, running late! Make way!" But all we saw were disgruntled Nashvillians thrilled to be awake at the ungodly hour.

Another huge line awaited us. We began to pray to the security gods that people wouldn't be as slow as molasses getting their belts and shoes off. (Yes, I'm talking about you, lady, who decided it was a good idea to wear her hooker heels to the airport.)

By some miracle, we made it through the line with four minutes to spare. Grahm grabbed the diaper bag and mumbled something about running ahead to the gate. Before I knew it, I was alone with Sawyer in my arms trying to sprint toward our gate while I watched my barefoot husband several yards ahead dodging the swarm of people.

Running through the airport in flip-flops while carrying an infant who has yet to master neck control is probably the hardest thing I've ever done. Forget the four marathons I've completed, this was the race of my lifetime. R. Kelley's "I Believe I Can Fly" was stuck in my head... I did. I believed I could fly.

An excruciating three minutes later, I rounded the corner to our empty gate where Grahm was waiting. We did it. We made it. I could've cried I was so happy. We were the very last to board, and (thanks, Southwest) there only middle seats available. But we ignored the "Oh my god, they're so late AND they have a baby" stares of the people in the plane and considered ourselves victorious. Hallelujah.

The real miracle is that Sawyer not only slept through the whole ordeal, but she didn't make her mamma whip her boobs out while sitting between two large businessmen who were just thrilled to have us at their sides.

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A Day in the Life

Monday, March 17, 2014

Okay. I can do this. We. Can. Do. This. We WILL do this.
That's right, Jena. Pretend like you have any kind of control over this situation.

I mean, it's just one meal. People with babies eat at restaurants all the time. It can't be that hard. You're eating food... just with a baby. Hopefully not a crying baby. We don't want to be those guys. But sometimes she just needs to cry. Or fart. Or poop. Or something. Maybe we should pick a loud restaurant or go to McDonald's so we'll still feel superior to everyone else even if our baby is screaming her head off.

Okay, okay. Getting off topic here.
Do I have everything? 8 extra outfits? 4 blankets? An entire box of diapers? Check, check, definite check. Damn, forgot the pacifier. Lord knows we're gonna need that. Unless we don't. Does she even like this thing? She's smart. Too smart. It's like she knows we're just placating her and cruelly holding off the tap. She'll learn, right? I mean, this boob buffet line has to have some points in the day where it's no longer open for business. Speaking of which, did I grab my nipple shield and hooter hider? Yes. Okay. I think we're set. Glad I just wasted ten minutes to get our crap in the car.

Man, she sure is adorable. Good job, loins. That headband. Kill me, it's so cute! Is it acceptable to not be as well dressed as your six-week-old? No? Well, I put on deodorant today to mask the crusty milk smell I've been rocking lately. Winner, winner.

Okay, we're leaving now. I've got her, our million bags, if only I could find my keys... Are they in my purse or diaper bag? Ugh, I got set everything down to search. Why do I keep switching between bags? Your purse is now going to hold diapers instead of unreasonable amounts of lipgloss. Just deal with it, Jena. Alright, found them. How did they end up in her diaper caddy? Sheesh.

This is great. Nothing can go wro... Oh noooo. Is that... is that...? Please Lord, do me this solid and tell me there isn't a solid sitting pretty in my daughter's new outfit... Hoooooly Toledo. How in the world? I set you down for two seconds! Even I can't poop that fast, and Grahm calls me the phantom pooper. Okay nobody panic. She's crying, but understandably so since World War II just happened in her drawers.

I'll just set her on the ground and change her real fast. Ahhh. It's all over everything. The Niagara Falls of poopy diapers. Oh crap. Crap just got all over our cream-colored rug. Not good, not good. Some people's dogs poop on their rugs, abut not us. Nope. Just our children.... Poor baby. She's going crazy. It's all over her outfit. And my hands. And her back...

Oh screw it, let's just order a pizza.

a new job

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

I have a new boss, a new little lady that I'll be answering to every day. 
She's a bit demanding at times. I mean, she eats a lot. She needs my help getting anywhere. She even needs me to wipe her fanny... but she sure looks cute in a headband. And her snuggles are like a warm slice of heaven that I can't seem to get enough of.

I'm officially a stay-at-home mom now, which (unless you have a really weird relationship with your boss) you probably guessed.

Since Grahm and I made this decision last week, it's amazing how much my eyes have been opened to the negativity surrounding it. It's obviously not something that our culture necessary applauds. What? You want to stay home all day and change diapers? You want to give up adult interactions? You want to abandon your career for something so seemingly trivial? What a waste.

This attitude is even dominant with stay-at-home moms themselves, who constantly talk about how difficult, exhausting, and lonely it is to raise children "for a living." And I get that. I've only been with Sawyer for 6 weeks, and I already understand the hardships of the job. No one is denying the challenges. In fact, I think there is something to be said of being honest about them: "Hey I don't have it all together. My house is a wreck. I don't get to shower until my husband gets home, and that's if I get one. When Sawyer cries, I don't always know what to do. And sometimes my greatest accomplishment of the day is brushing my teeth and taking a nap with my daughter." 

There's power in dropping the pretenses.
But sometimes I wonder if, in the desire to be transparent, we aren't focusing on the wrong things. 

I think of my own mother who stayed at home with three little ones, three and under. I have no idea how that worked. Can you imagine what a trip to the grocery store would have been like? Remaining sane, let alone happy, sounds like a challenge. But she didn't complain about how hard it was... she just did it, and she was truly overjoyed to do so. Even today she tells me those were the best years of her life.

Being a stay-at-home mom is not something I have to do, it's something I get to do. I already know it's going to be hard, so why let that be my only focus each day? It'll be difficult, but it'll be worth it and I want to focus on the "worth it" part of motherhood. I want to enjoy the days I'm blessed to spend snuggling with my sweet baby girl, not concentrate on the challenges.

There are enough stay-at-home moms complaining; the world doesn't need another one.

the nursery

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Sawyer is officially a month old, and I'm just now posting pictures of the nursery. Mom of the year over here. I know y'all have been on the edge of your pantaloons to see it. (Ha.) Let's just pretend the lighting is good in these photos cause Sawyer unfortunately doesn't nap at ideal picture-taking opportunities. Silly little lady.

I've grown to love this little space--my daughter's room--still a weird but wonderful thing for me to say. It's loud. Colorful. And unmistakingly a girl's room, which I will probably regret when we have a boy next... but whaddya gonna do. 

This room has already seen tears, contractions, laughter, lullabies, feedings, and poop. Lots and lots of poop... I'm excited to see what other dandy things her nursery has in store. 

I could not have done this without my amazingly crafty mamma. She sewed the crib skirt and those fabulous curtains for the bay window. She also helped me make the flower mobile. Seriously, she has more talent in her left nostril than I will ever have. WeShe should start an Etsy shop or something... 

So here ya have it. More pictures of Sawyer's nursery than you ever wanted to see... 
Bookcase: Land of Nod
Crib: Jenny Lind via Target
Rocker: Layla Grayce (no longer available)
End Table: Kirklands
Ottoman: Rug USA
Elephant Hamper: Home Decorators
Crib Skirt: Land of Nod
Changing pad Cover: Land of Nod
Chandelier: Ikea
Throw pillows: Home Goods
Pallet Art: DIY
Headband Holder: DIY
Floral Curtains: DIY (Thanks, Mommy!)
Crib Skirt: DIY (Thanks again, Mommy!)
Felt Floral Mobile: DIY

25 Things I've Learned in 25 Years

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

It's my birthday. I'm a quarter century old, or a fourth of the way closer to dead. Yikes. Seems like yesterday I was making highly questionable makeup choices, playing Liesl as a true "16 going on 17"-year-old, and bee-bopping to Hanson. Now I can rent cars, worry about cellulite, and buy anti-wrinkle cream like a champ.
Over the past five birthdays (I'll let you figure out which one is my 21st), I've had a lot of fun. I'm a big fan of birthdays, after all. I also feel like I've learned a thing or two over the years. I decided to share this wisdom with you today as my little birthday gift to you. You can decide whether or not you want to trust the girl who clearly has a serious problem deciding what color her hair should be...

Here are 25 things I've learned in the past 25 years:

1. You will always always regret eating Taco Bell.
2. Self-confidence is one of the most attractive qualities in a person.
3. You can never have enough mascara.
4. Very few things in life are worth staying mad about.
5. Money hanging up in your closest is so much better than money in the bank.
6. A loyal friend is worth her weight in jelly-filled donuts.
7. There's nothing that a hot shower and a long nap can't cure.
8. Life is too short not to snuggle every night.
9. Your mamma is the best friend you'll ever have.
10. Running a marathon is the most addicting natural high.
11. No one is as perfect as their Facebook and Instagram pictures make them seem.
12. Buy the expensive jeans. Your thunder thighs will thank you later.
13. "Don't Stop Believing" is the best feel-good song there is.
14. Family is more important than your right butt cheek.
15. Your bathroom should be cleaned every week. Every week, people.
16. Essie nail polish always beats OPI.
17. Be with people who make you laugh. Every day. All day.
18. Marriage is the most beautiful, rewarding kind of work.
19. Just because you have an opinion doesn't mean you need to share it.
20. Being short is fun unless you start gaining weight, cause everyone's gonna notice.
21. The best feeling in the world is taking off your bra after a long day. #unchained
22. You can make your own sunshine.
23. "Jesus said all will be will, so all will be well."
24. If you can, wrap it in bacon.
25. Spoil your spouse. He deserves it.

13 Days New

Monday, February 24, 2014

I've been so excited about Sawyer's newborn pictures since I was 32 weeks pregnant, and we got out maternity pictures done. Our photographer, Chelsea Lietz, is truly a gem, and I'm so excited Pinterest brought us together.

Lady Love wasn't a huge fan of being a model (probably a good thing since she's bound to have her mamma's 5-foot frame), but Chelsea was so patient and got some wonderful pictures despite her constant protests/peeing on some of the props.

Now excuse me while I be "that" mom and post a zillion photos of my sweet butternut. I hope you like these, Sawyer, cause your mamma and daddy are definitely going to be showing these to all your boyfriends.

About a Boy

Friday, February 14, 2014

Since the chances of me putting on a non-milk saturated bra, actually fixing my hair, and going on a hot date with my main squeeze and our newborn are slimmer than the legs of that one Russian figure skater, a post for my valentine is about as romantic as I can get.

Two weeks ago we had our daughter. I know you know this. But what you don't know is how much more I fell in love with that guy I married because of it.

You don't realize how amazing the man whose hip you decided to forever attach yours to is until you're having his kid. He was/is our unsung hero during the whole process, the glue that kept me together when I felt like completely unraveling.

When you're fat and bloated and swollen and bleeding and emotional and almost incapable of doing anything for yourself, you worry if you'll ever be attractive to your husband again. Or at least I did. But somehow when I felt like a heinous Orka whale, Grahm made me feel more beautiful, loved, and taken care of than ever. I knew before I married him that he would make a wonderful father. And now watching him cuddle with Sawyer and make silly faces with her every night, my heart completely melts. He is completely selfless with his time, energy, and sleep during this new phase of our lives. I absolutely could not do it without him.

So this Valentine's Day we may not be going anywhere fancy pants or putting on anything special but our pajamas, but I've never been more certain that my valentine is the most wonderful man I've ever been lucky enough to know.

Happy Vday, Booger Buns. You have my heart always.

10 Signs You're A New Mom

Thursday, February 13, 2014

1. You've been in the same pair of sweatpants all week. (#LivingLarge)
2. The number of photos on your phone has just quadrupled. 
3. You have no idea what time of day it is, but you still want to nap.
4. You talk about poop on a daily, if not hourly, basis.
5. You're suddenly referring to your spouse as "daddy," and it's not real sexy.
6. Your idea of movie night is staring at your baby for hours and hours.
7. You use the word "cute" and "adorable" an ungodly amount of times per day.
8. You're now a master at the art of whispering and tip-toeing and pacifier-losing.
9. The words "leakage" and "my cup runneth over" have taken on entirely new meanings.
10. You've realized that the only person you really trust with the baby is your mom. (Sorry, hubs.)

Our Birth Story

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

I have no idea what day it is. My house looks like a Babies R Us ran through it. I resemble a cross between a homeless man and a large cow. (Moo.) I smell. I ooze. My armpits are terrifying. My belly is jiggly. And I haven't had more than three hours of consecutive sleep in over a week... But I have never been so happy, so fulfilled, and so in love.

I'm sitting in my nursery, rocking my sweet daughter in my arms--just like I've always dreamed. I can't stop staring at her fiery red hair, her little lips that I love to kiss, and her tiny fingers clutching mine. She's our little miracle, our red-headed warrior who fought so bravely to be here with me. It's only been 10 days, and I can't imagine life without her.

I'm reminiscing on this last thrilling, terrifying, and tiring week. This birth story will probably be too long, but I don't care. I want to remember every detail of the best and worst day of our lives. (Pre-apologies for any and all oversharing.)

Wednesday had been an extremely exhausting day for me, which makes it sounds like I did more than eat pineapple and edit a few things... But false. I had done nothing. I emailed my team at work to tell them I would be taking a half day and proceeded to take a glorious four-hour nap on my couch.

When Grahm got home, we decided to get something to eat. Fried jalapeños sounded like the perfect way to get to our overdue daughter out of me, so off to Willies we went. We ate cheeseburgers, watched the Thunder slaughter the Heat (much to Grahm's enjoyment), and talked about our days. I complained a few times during dinner that my back was hurting, just like I had for the last nine months. Neither of us thought anything about it. I'm a whiner like that.

Later that night, I had Grahm hang the very last thing in the nursery. Sawyer must have known her little room was ready for her, because approximately two seconds later I had a mind numbing pain in my lower back. Like a thousand knives were stabbing me right in the kisser. I clutched my hindparts like it was the last jelly-filled donut in all the land. I shouted, "Oh my Gosh!" and then it was over. Short but not so sweet. I looked up to see my very wide-eyed husband. "Uh, uh... Are you okay?" "Yeah, I think so. That was weird. Now I have to pee." When I popped a squat on the pot, I soon realized that I had lost my mucous plug (I already apologized for the over sharing). This didn't mean labor was imminent, but it was on the horizon. I ran to Grahm and told him the good (albeit grody) news. He grimaced and then smiled before kissing me so sweetly. We didn't really say anything, but we both knew our time together as a family of two was coming to a close. Baby Girl was on her way. We just didn't realize how soon that would really be...

Before I had time to fully understand the impact of what was going on, I had another terrible back pain. This time it was worse. More concentrated. I didn't even have time to cry the millions of tears I wanted to shed before the next one started. I began yelling at Grahm. "This is early labor?? This can't be (bad word, bad word) early labor!" Our midwife told us the early labor stage would be ignorable. She recommended going on a date or taking a nice nap, anything to pretend like labor wasn't really happening. I would need my energy later, so it was best not to focus on what was happening. But this? This was about as ignorable as the zit I had on my chin for high school prom.

"Babe, we can do this," Grahm said calmly as he held me (more accurately: as I gripped his arm with surprising force for someone my size). "Just breathe with me. In and out. In and out. Focus on Sawyer. Our baby girl is coming!" I know he said many many other sweet things, but this is essentially the last thing I really remember. All I could focus on was getting through the pain.

"I can't do this. I absolutely can NOT do this if this is the beginning," I kept screaming between contractions, which were now coming a minute apart. Grahm, the poor man, then called our midwife and told her we were on our way to the birthing center. We had no idea how far along I was, but based on my contractions we were worried Sawyer was going to be delivered right there in our bedroom with only her daddy to catch her. Frantically, Grahm grabbed our bags. "Is there anything else we need? Did I forget anything?" he asked before escorting me to the car. "I don't (bad word) care if we have everything. Just get me to the (bad word) hospital!" I yelled. (Quite a delight, was I not?)

I don't remember the car ride. Grahm told me later I kept whispering Sawyer's name in between moaning, yelling, and clutching my back... A sign to him that I really was out of it. I don't really remember even arriving to the birthing center with my two kind midwives there to greet us. I just remember they checked my dilation and told me I was only 3 cm.

It was then I cried. It was ugly, crazy lady, think-I'm-gonna-die, projectile tears. 3 cm? Three? There was no way that's right.

Somehow they got me into the tub. The warm water felt nice, but it was like throwing Neosporin on a gaping wound. I continued to have contractions. Though it helped to have the support of Grahm and the midwives, I knew there was no way I was going to make it to ten centimeters. This was only the beginning, and I felt like I was going to die. The back labor was too intense.

We weren't there long before we decided to do a transfer of care to the hospital. I cried. A lot. I kept saying that I felt like a failure because I did. They told me though I was 1 in 100. Labor isn't usually this intense this early (lucky me); I was laboring like I was 9 cm not a depressing 3.

Another car trip to the hospital across the street. The hospital has a lot of construction going on so finding an entrance was like discovering Atlantis and a ten-day backpacking trip all in one. I remember being wheeled up by my midwife while Grahm parked the car. I had a contraction right outside the sliding glass doors. I stood up, hugged my midwife while she put pressure on my back, and moaned. When I could sit again, I realized two small children had witnessed the entire spectacle. Poor things are probably scarred for life because of the large lady who sounded like a dying ostrich. Finally, I was in a bed. I had on a hospital gown that I'm sure someone had died in yesterday, but I was optimistic. Relief was on its way. Baby Girl would be here soon.

Except that it wasn't. She wasn't. Over an hour later (from birthing center to hospital bed), I was still only 3 cm. The doctor wanted me to be 4 cm before he administered the epidural. Bastard. The squeaky wheel may get the oil, but the large and extremely loud pregnant woman apparently does not get the epidural. Grahm and my two midwives helped me through more contractions. We tried different positions to speed up the progression of labor, but I was feeling no relief for my back. I felt like a big ball of fire and failure.

Almost two hours later, I was finally being wheeled into another room. My main midwife left. There was nothing else she could do, and there was a number cap on people in our room. The anesthesiologist took his sweet time coming to my room. When he finally did arrive, I was 6 cm and contracting harder than ever. He told me, "You can't move while I put this in you. Don't touch your back." I wanted to slap him, but I didn't because I wanted my own relief more than I wanted his pain. It's amazing the nurse still has her arm from all the squeezing I did. I had three contractions while he stuck me with the biggest and sweetest of needles in the entire world. I still have no idea how I don't have extensive nerve damage. It was a miracle I was able to stay still.

Relief then came, and it was glorious. While we waited for me to fully dilate, the nurse broke my water with a long, skinny poker that looked like a chopstick. It was then she saw that Sawyer had pooped in the womb (meconium). She alerted us to this, but told us it was nothing to be overly concerned with. "Just something to be aware of," she explained.

A few hours and several text messages later (sorry to everyone who received a text from me at 3 am), the doctor came in and told me I was fully dilated. It was time to push. I was cracking jokes and feeling great. My socks were neon-colored and mismatched (of course) as I placed them in the stirrups. My hair was in a high pony tail, and I had zero makeup to my name... I looked like a 15-year-old cheerleader. But I was ready.

"Alright, Jena. Push toward your butt. Ready? Go!" First of all, it's a very hard thing to push toward something you can no longer feel. It's also a little unnerving to have a swarm of doctors and nurses all staring at your tinkle taco, waiting for you to make something happen. That's a lot of pressure. To make matters worse, Sawyer was sunnyside up (the reason for my intense back labor) and she kept getting "stuck" when I pushed. After 30 minutes of unproductive pushing, they turned my epidural off so I could feel the contractions again and push when I was supposed to. (The words "epidural" and "off" should really never be uttered to a woman in labor. FYI.)

Another hour went by, and I still hadn't budged her. But I was starting to feel the contractions again. My temperature was 102, and Sawyer's heart rate suddenly skyrocketed to 190. I was crying out in pain again. Before we knew it, the small room was a cluster. Doctors and nurses seemed to be in every nook and cranny staring at my every nook and cranny. The main doctor, I still don't know her name, told us that we really needed to take me back for a c-section. Sawyer's heart rate and meconium and my temperature/inability to push her out were beyond worrisome. No part of me wanted a c-section. No part of me wanted to agree.

They wheeled me away to prep me for surgery. I remember calling out for Grahm and crying in pain. They weren't going to let him back until I was prepped for surgery. He told me later that he had stayed in the room and cried. Everything was happening so fast. It seemed like it was all spinning out of our control.

It seemed like ages later when they finally called him back. We were now ready to get Sawyer out. He sat beside me, holding my hand and whispering encouraging things. They wouldn't allow him to stand to see past the horrid blue curtain that separated us from our daughter. Neither of us really knew what was going on, but we were excited. We were only moments away from holding our sweet baby girl ...or so we thought.

It was incredibly frustrating not knowing what was going on. "What's happening? What's happening?" I kept asking like an annoying parrot. Finally I heard a voice say, "Girl. 9:10." At first, we thought that was the weight (holy chunk!). But then we realized that was the time of birth. At the same time I realized that, I realized that she wasn't crying. She was completely silent, and it was deafening.

It was a moment I'll never forget. A moment I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. My baby wasn't crying, and I couldn't see what was happening. All Grahm and I could do was hold each other's hands and cry. I kept asking the doctors around me, "What's wrong? Where is my baby? Why can't I hear her?" Their only response was, "She's in good hands." It did nothing to ease ever-wandering mind, which kept jumping from one horrible situation to the next. Grahm tried to comfort me, to pray for our sweet daughter that we had yet to see, but he was just as terrified. It's an inexplicable feeling, really. The moment you have been planning for, hoping for, excited for for so long suddenly turning into the most horrifying minute of your life.

They wheeled her by us before rushing her to the NICU. The nurse paused briefly so we could see her for the first time. She was white as a sheet, and her big eyes were looking around. I didn't get to hold her. Or touch her. Or tell her that I love her and I'm her mommy. I just laid there, clutching Grahm, and bawling. Still we had no idea what was going so terribly wrong. All I wanted was to hold her. All I wanted was for her to be okay.

An excruciating six hours later, we finally got to go up to the NICU to see her. This is what she looked like.
We still didn't get to hold her. We could only sit and stare at our little girl hooked up to so many wires. She looked so tiny. So innocent. Forget the back labor. Forget the contractions during my epidural administration. This was the hardest part. Seeing her, but not scooping her up in my arms and smothering her with kisses.

It killed me to see her like this. To have these nurses making decisions for my baby. They heard her every cry. They got to console her. They changed all her diapers. They swaddled her. They fed her. I was an emotional wreck. I felt like I was missing everything while I was stuck in my own room on the floor below. I couldn't be up there as much as I wanted because the nurses and doctors wanted me to take it easy to focus on my own recovery.

The next day we finally got to hold her. It was magical despite the breathing tubes, the IVs, the wires. We even tried breastfeeding though my milk had yet to arrive. I had to have a blood transfusion because I hemorrhaged during the c-section, so I didn't get to see her for the rest of the day. That was the hardest day yet.
Every day our little girl got stronger. Every day we made progress. By the third day, we knew she was going to be okay. The infection in my amniotic fluid (chorio) and the ghastly amounts of meconium she inhaled didn't get her down. Much to the doctor's amazement, she fought through it and is now so healthy and strong.

After five days, we finally got to go home. She's taken so well to breastfeeding despite our separation and having been fed lots of formula her first few days of life. We fall more in love with her every day, and we are so crazy thankful for our little miracle. God is truly the author and giver of life. Though our birth went nothing according to our plan, it was comforting to know nothing happened outside of His knowledge and wisdom.

Thanks to everyone's love and amazing support! Sawyer Marie is a very strong, very loved little lady.