H O M E | July in Review

Goodbye, Arizona!

After being in the desert for three months, we packed up and hit the road. Homeward bound!

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It took us four days to get from AZ to MN.

Traveling at 22 weeks pregnant with a 1.5 year old that doesn't like his carseat and a small chihuahua that shakes and whimpers when he gets nervous... I really wouldn't recommend it to anyone! Those four days tested every ounce of our patience... but can you imagine the relief we shared as we drove across the Minnesota state line??

Excitement, relief and a huge exhale.

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After arriving in the twin cities we moved into a temporary townhouse. Did I mention we had a huge change of plans at the start of the month?  My hubby had a job opportunity that he just couldn't pass up and it landed us in the suburbs of Minneapolis/St. Paul.

So now we're here, half unpacked and we're house hunting in a crazy way. I think we've seen close to 10 homes so far! The market in this area (I guess all over!) is just bonkers. We're close to finding "the one" though and I hope to have a super positive update next month!

Between the madness we've spent a lot of time with our family that lives here, it's truly been the biggest blessing. Oh, and the park. Clockin' hours in at the park!

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My last bump picture of the month catches me at 24 weeks pregnant. Unreal how fast this pregnancy has gone... but I guess I'm not too surprised! We're all set up at the birth center in Woodbury for our first appointment and excited to be working with a midwife again!

We got the gender in an envelope this month and within a couple days opened it. I can't WAIT to share... we just have one more set of grandparents to tell first so definitely next month!

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Thank you guys for reading. These photos are a part of a 365 project I'm participating in and we're already past day 200! What a year... so many celebrations and challenges, for all of us! The July round up is Kris and I. I love her perspective -- you can check it out HERE.

I feel a shift coming, yet again when it comes to this online space... but I'm not sure what it is quite yet. I think when things slow down enough, it will all fall into place. Photo journal, motherhood... excited to get writing again.

Wishing you all many blessings, always,

Elyse'

 

First Trimester -- Baby J #2

 8 Weeks Pregnant! Kailua, Hawaii

8 Weeks Pregnant! Kailua, Hawaii

It just feels crazy to be writing this -- didn't I just write a first trimester post? I did! This time, however, it was an entirely different experience.

We found out really early we were pregnant with baby number two. According to the app on my phone I was only 3, almost 4 weeks pregnant!

The day I took the test, other than my boobs hurting, I felt pretty darn normal. I decided to enjoy it because I knew what was coming.

I found out with George at about 5 almost 6 weeks. Not long after I found out, I got so sick. I only ran to the toilet a couple times but I had full day nausea for 9 straight weeks. 

With baby number two, I prepared myself for the worst..... but it just never came! (Praise the Lord, dance, shout and sing hallelujah!) 

 12 Weeks Pregnant! Mesa, AZ

12 Weeks Pregnant! Mesa, AZ

Other than feeling like a total slug in the evenings and having some foods just not "look good", I felt pretty ok! I was shocked.. so VERY different. Opposite first trimesters, that's for sure!

- The best best part of the first trimester, again, is telling people! Everyone cries! We had fun calling our family and friends to spread the news. I also blogged about our positive test because I can't NOT tell people. It's hard for me to keep it to myself once I know. We shared sooner this time around.

- I didn't have any real cravings with Thomas George... but that was not the case with this pregnancy! I've had quite a bit of cravings. I like HOT & SPICY! (I hope this isn't a sign of what this baby is going to be like, lol)
Seriously though, I am taking hot sauce down like it's going out of style. I've been eating more bagely type foods which I'm not stoked on but I'm just so happy I can EAT during my first trimester at all! I'm hoping to move to more fresh kind of foods soon!

- We're sort of in between home right now so when it comes to maternity care I'm doing my best. I did my first appointment at Castle Medical Center with the midwife that delivered Thomas George. We got to see the little bean and hear it's heartbeat. My first question was: Is there only one in there? Phew, ok.
Now we're in AZ and I might have to do one appointment here. I am hoping to establish care with Robin, a family friend and midwife back home in Hibbing, MN!

- Hormones have been pretty up and down. I cry for some of the weirdest reasons. One day I asked Tom if he thinks TG will want to go to Hawaii when he gets big because he was born there. Then I thought, what if he wants to move to Hawaii and I cried. I cried and cried thinking of him leaving. He's 1.5 years old.
Things like... seeing a beautiful dress online in an instagram ad and crying because I would never fit into it right now as my body gets bigger and bigger. Just weird things like that. Just cry. LOL

- Bring on the maternity clothes. I started wearing maternity clothes right at the end of the first trimester. No shame. Comfort number one!

 7 Week Appointment!

7 Week Appointment!

Baby is the size of a: LIME
Length & weight: 2.13 in. & .49 oz.
Mama's cravings: HOT SAUCE and spicy foods! Cold apples. 
Weight update: < 5 lbs. ~ I didn't actually weigh myself until later in the second trimester in which I had gained 5 lbs. so I had to have gained less in the first trimester!
We're feeling: Excited, ready to settle into a home, happy for TG to have a sibling and we are dying to know if you're a girl or a boy!
Highlight of the first trimester: Once again, telling our family!!
Energy levels: TOTAL SLUG!! 
Habits: Long morning walks, legs up the wall every few days, prenatal vitamins!

That Positive Test | Round 2

It was March 8th, 2018.

I was laying on the couch in all my grumpiness when my boobs started to hurt again

I was dozing in and out, thoughts whirling through my head when my eyes shot open. 
It was like a scene out of a movie.

Ten minutes earlier I was raging at my husband about seriously who knows what when grabbed my pillow and blanket and stomped into the living room. 

Just that morning I posted a question to my mom group on FB asking why on earth my boobs were feeling achey when I quit nursing the month before without any pain?

Then it hit me.

I was pregnant.

I was freakin' pregnant. Now it all made sense.

I tip toed back to the room, slid under the covers and did my best to stay calm. Butterflies were dancing in my chest but I didn't breathe a word to Tom. I knew, deep down I knew, but I needed confirmation.


After Thomas woke up from his nap the next day we took a casual stroll to Target. Laundry detergent, birthday card, avocados and a box of pregnancy tests.

I got home about 2:30pm and although it was 6 days before my missed period and it wasn't my first pee of the morning I took a test anyway. It was a pack of three, what did I have to lose?

Peed on the stick, placed it on the counter and glanced at it back and forth as I saw the test start to read. The first line showed up right away.. my heart was seriously pounding.

And then there it was. The second line, although faint, was very much there.

"Oh dear. Oh dear goodness. Oh my. Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh. Oh dear. Oh dear. Oh dear goodness. Oh. Oh my. Oh my gosh." I said aloud over and over for what felt like 10 minutes.

We were pregnant. Three weeks pregnant according to the Bump app on my phone.

I couldn't wait to tell Tom.

I have to admit. I've been hesitant to grow our family. Between Finn and Thomas I feel like there isn't any more of me to go around!
But Tom? Tom's ready. Tom's been ready since Thomas George was 3 months old!

He got home from work and I ushered him to the couch. I had my phone hiding strategically on the TV stand, recording it all.

I sat him down and gave him a long sappy love note that I wrote early that day.

I apologized for raging the night before, reminding him that I'd love him forever, through anything.

When he flipped to the back my heart started to race.

I could see his eyes scanning the words: "Today I took a pregnancy test, sweet thang... and it was POSITIVE."

He instantly lost it. He cried. I cried.

Just blubbery, slobbery messes.

This family is growing.

A blessing. This little chia seed is already such a blessing.

And now I say, with much excitement, here we go again!

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I started a pregnancy diaries series with little George. I pretty much documented it all but missed the third trimester. I'm going to try to do a full series with baby number two! You can read George's series here.

CHANGES // Some Big, Gnarly Ones

I'm thinking I could label each month as CHANGES but I've been feeling it in March more than ever before.

Our Tommy George had his very first haircut last week. Dad really wanted to grow it out and I was ready to cut it. We both ended up loving the cut but did find a little compromise by leaving a rat tail blonde curl in the back. Man, it was emotional watching my baby turn into a little boy. So handsome.

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This month, Tom and I made one of the hardest decisions we've ever had to make.
We're moving home!
We will be heading back to the mainland mid-April. I can't believe it. Even typing it here I can't believe it.
The pieces are divinely falling into place and I sure can't wait to share more. Until then, I've been trying to document this beautiful town of Kailua, Hawaii that I've grown to love so much.

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Alright, I've got one more big one for you, you ready? If moving over the ocean wasn't change enough for us, we're adding another little human to the mix. That's right, this family is growing! It's still really early and our first appointment isn't until the first week of April but I just can't hold stuff like this in. Ever. So here it is!

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It's been a month full of big decisions... lots of packing, shipping and selling. I've got a bit of pregnancy brain going on and it feels like there are cement blocks tied to my feet making this whole experience really fun. LOL

I see the light at the end of the tunnel though... there's nothing like being closer to family and we're almost there!

I'm so excited to be in a 365 photo project, especially right now. A chance to document this special time in my family's life is something I know I'll forever cherish.

I'll be linking this post to the talented photographer, Laura. I really admire the light and composition of her work. Also, Laura and I are both in the first trimester of pregnancy which make it even more fun! 

Aloha friends and thank you so much for reading. 

See you next month!

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Second Trimester -- Pregnancy Diary Part 4

 19 weeks, just about 1/2 way there!&nbsp;

19 weeks, just about 1/2 way there! 

Throughout the first trimester, I felt like... total shitty shit. Everyone said I would start feeling better once we reached the second trimester.
So as week 12 approached I got excited.. I was SO ready to feel good again!

- Week 12 came and went... so did week 13 and 14. I was still nauseous and could barely eat.
Finally as I hit week 15, I began to feel like a human again. What a relief... I was really starting to worry... and I just really missed FOOD.

- We decided to wait until the second trimester to tell the world, I have to admit, I was so excited for this. I couldn't WAIT to share that we were having a baby... to tell friends near and far. That'll always be the most fun for me.

- As for my energy level, I was still tired... a lot... BUT like they say, I did have bursts of energy from 15 weeks on - mainly in the morning - which was really nice and much needed. 

- I touched my stomach. A lot. My hands were always resting on my growing belly and I thought about being pregnant, ALL DAY LONG. It went a little something like this -- "I am pregnant. I'm going to have a BABY. I am growing a human, in my womb, right now. Amazing. Unbelievable. A baby."

- We had been living in a studio since we moved to Hawaii in 2015. It was perfect for the two of us and we never really needed more space... until now! We moved from our studio to a two bedroom during the second trimester. Hubs had quiet the workload but I was definitely helping out as best I could. We were really just happy to get into something a big bigger as we were expecting a lot of visitors once baby arrived!

- The beginning of the bump! My belly was growing. By the middle of the second trimester, there was no mistaken, I was a pregnant lady!

- We still hadn't purchased anything for baby yet. We were starting to receive gifts though. Little did I know that was just the beginning!

- GENDER REVEAL!! I kept going back and forth. I really thought it was a girl but could only picture a baby boy. Tom always thought it was a boy. 
We did our big gender reveal party during the second trimester.. it was SO FUN! I wanted a girl and I wanted a boy so I knew I'd be happy either way.
Auntie Coco took the envelope, she was the first person to know the sex! She filled a big black balloon with confetti and we all gathered at mom and dads house. The anticipation was nuts!
Watching Tom throw a fist pump into the air when we were showered in blue will not be something I'll forget. We began connecting with baby in a new way, it's a BOY!!!

- Oh the boobs. The boobs continued to grow during the second trimester and I really LOVE them. :D

- Water. I'm drinking all the water all day, everyday. I read something early on saying that the more water you drink the better and healthier your pregnancy will be -- so I went full steam ahead with hydroflask after hydroflask. I'm currently skipping all coffee and I'm the weird pregnant lady that doesn't miss alcohol in the least bit. 

- NAMES! It was nice being able to focus on boy names. Naming a baby isn't easy. We started throwing ideas around but hadn't decided full on anything yet. 

- I'm still the nap queen, not big into exercise. I could seriously sleep all day and wonder often how people have a second child? How do you care for a baby and grow another baby? My bed is my best friend and I sleep a lot

- The round ligament pain started in the first trimester and revved up good in the second trimester... what a weird feeling!! Amazed at my changing and shifting body -- it truly is a miracle!

- I really expected to feel baby move week 14/15 and waited patiently for him to do so... and nothing. I thought way too much but couldn't really tell if it *was* a movement or if it was just in my head. By week 20 there was no mistaken.. I have a boxing son in my belly and once he started really moving, he didn't stop. To me it felt like little bubbles or tiny tapping... tap, tap, tap. I love it. This is one of my favorite parts!

- I've always heard people complain about others touching their belly.. I didn't mind in the least bit! I loved letting people touch my belly and feel for baby. For the most part baby kicked and moved until someone placed their hand on my stomach, then he stopped. Almost every time but I let everyone try! He loves moving for daddy though!!

- I inspected my stomach every single week for stretch marks, nothing yet!

- At week 24 I bought my first maternity clothes. I just went to target and got a couple cute dresses and a couple ugly dresses. I wish I wouldn't have waited so long! Maternity clothes felt so much better!

- Pretty much went to bed at 8:30 every night. Sometimes 9 if we were feelin' pretty wild. Pregnancy makes you crazy! LOL

- I've been eating pretty healthy but I really really love my dark chocolate salted carmel bar from Whole Foods. I keep it in the freezer and eat one square to a half a bar every single day. No one says anything about it when you're pregnant -- might as well eat it UP.

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- Once I hit that 25 week mark I really started feeling big. Toward the end of my second trimester I couldn't sleep on my belly anymore. It's one of worst things about being pregnant for me! Having to sleep on my side and heave myself in and out of bed. OY.

- We still hadn't set up a nursery at all or purchased anything for baby. We weren't too worried about it... which looking back makes me laugh! What were we doing? LOL

- After doing a lot of reading, I started writing up my birth plan during the second trimester. 

- I had my gestational diabetes test and passed. Thank goodness. I wasn't a fan of drinking that crap but I did it and it's done. Good deal.

- At the end of week 27 I had gained 13 lbs. since my first appointment. I was surprised I didn't gain more because my body had changed so much. Tom said I just lost all my muscle... what a stinker. 

Baby is the size of a: PEACH
Length & weight: 8 3/4 in. & 1.5 lbs.
Mama's cravings: Didn't crave specific foods -- just warm and cold things. Still not the biggest appetite but it's slowly coming back!
Weight update: Gained 13 lbs. so far!
We're feeling: BIG. Excited. The half way point is so freaky, it gets more and more real! 
Highlight of the first trimester: Getting to share with the world and of course, finding out we had a boy on the way!
Energy levels: Still a slug for the most part but starting to do some walking!
Habits: Still doing my legs up the wall every night... continuing with the prenatal vitamin. Keeping a weekly journal about all the changes. Early to sleep. Lots of water. 

First Trimester -- Thomas George

The first trimester.

We found out we were pregnant at about 4-5 weeks. Once we had that positive test, it started to get real... there's a baby on the way!

 7 weeks pregnant with little baby J!

7 weeks pregnant with little baby J!

- My favorite part of the first trimester was telling people we were pregnant. Getting to call my parents, Tom's parents and my sisters, cousins, family and friends was SO MUCH FUN. Everyone seriously freaks out and cries and celebrates and... it's fun. I loved that part.

- It wasn't all laughter and celebration though.. in fact, I was sick the entire first trimester. It wasn't morning sickness, it was all damn day! From my first appointment to my second, I lost 8 lbs! I couldn't eat and was choking down crackers trying to get by. That part is tough because you look normal and you aren't really telling people yet but you're SICK but not sick... lol, a struggle for sure. 

- I remember longing to eat a real meal, a BIG meal.. any kind of FOOD. There was a small part of me that even wondered if food would ever taste good again.

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- Pregnancy and mamahood wasn't something that was really on my radar, so when we found out we were pregnant I had a little bit of a freak out... I knew ABSOLUTELY nothing about pregnancy or babies. It was time to hit Amazon! Books on books on books. Pregnancy books, birthing books, breastfeeding books. I went a little bit crazy but I also had a lot of fun reading and learning about the future of my body and my life.

- I wanted a home birth and Tom wanted a hospital birth so we compromised on a birth center. I had an OB and two midwives that I met with and I really liked them. We had our first appointment at 8 weeks and it was SO COOL. Seeing the little blobby human and hearing his heartbeat -- let the unbelievable moments (along with the million appointments) begin!

- One of the other biggest things for me in the first trimester was exhaustion. I was SO TIRED -- so I slept.. and slept... and SLEPT like a rock. I pretty much took a 2 hour nap everyday after work. I'd get home, collapse on the bed and sleep. At the time I was teaching a Yoga class and had to get a sub for my classes. I felt like a big, useless slug. So much sleep, so much rest.

- The first trimester is so trippy because I didn't look pregnant. I felt sick and I felt tired but the craziest thing was just knowing I was growing a human. All day everyday I just kept thinking, "I'm pregnant. I can't believe I'm pregnant. We're going to have a baby. A baby." LOL -- seriously, ALL DAY LONG.

- Another one of my favorite parts of the first trimester was getting BOOBS! My boobs got big right away and I loved it. I finally filled out a swimsuit and I looked great in a tank top. It was short lived but a wonderful experience I'll remember forever. Haha

- Another big thing I experienced in the first trimester was doubt. Could I be a good mom? I would look up to the sky a lot when I was on my walks and I would ask in all seriousness, "Are you SURE you want me to do this? You trust me to be a good mom? Ok, if you think so."

- Oh, another thing. Hormones. The crying started in the first trimester. If it was silly, I cried -- sad, I cried. I was smiling and joking one minute and then crying the next -- my hubby, poor thing, did so good with me.

 12 weeks pregnant and on my way to the second trimester!

12 weeks pregnant and on my way to the second trimester!

- MOM BRAIN. It's so real and I had it so bad. It started right there in the first trimester and oh. em. gee. I was running into walls at work, I couldn't finish a sentence, and I would seriously just lose my balance trying to walk. It was absolutely nuts and weird and I thought my mind was jelly for good and I would never be the same again. (It went away, thank goodness!)

- I didn't actually buy any maternity clothes in the first trimester. I stuck to skirts and shorts and tanks.. I went up a size in the scrubs at work for comfort. It was really all about being comfortable!

- Something that changed for me right away that I thought was really weird... every single time I brushed my teeth, I gagged. It lasted my entire pregnancy. I couldn't brush my tongue at all and even just brushing my teeth was weird. 

- Just a few short days after telling my sister I was pregnant, she had a surprise for ME.. she was pregnant TOO! We were due only a week apart. I think I needed someone very close to me to go through the entire experience together. Thank goodness for Leah and Coco!

- By the end of the first trimester, I felt like I had gotten really big... which after experiencing 41 weeks of pregnancy, is a hilarious statement. ;)

- The whole thing felt so slow-fast. Each day felt long but it, of course, went by so quickly. All I know is I was grateful as all can be that I was growing a healthy little baby. We couldn't wait to find out what we were having! 

 

Baby is the size of a: LIME
Length & weight: 2.13 in. & .49 oz.
Mama's cravings: NONE -- could barely choke down crackers!
Weight update: 0 lbs. ~ I lost eight and gained it back so I'm at a 0 lb. weight difference in the first trimester
We're feeling: Excited, nervous, proud and mama is a bit sick! Can't WAIT to find out if you're a boy or a girl.
Highlight of the first trimester: Telling our family, friends and co-workers! THE BEST.
Energy levels: Slug status.
Habits: Legs up the wall every single night, started taking a prenatal vitamin, not really exercising, but I want to!
 

Read more of: 
The Pregnancy Diaries

That Positive Test -- Pregnancy Diary Part 2

 Honeymoon April 2016 -- Corniglia,&nbsp;Cinque Terre, Italy

Honeymoon April 2016 -- Corniglia, Cinque Terre, Italy

"It's a boy!", said the mime as Tom and I were strolling by.

We were honeymooners, walking a cobblestone path through Venice.

He caught me off guard and I got offended! I know I had eaten an entire pizza and way too much gelato each day but did I look PREGNANT

Thanks a lot dude.

Tom and I joked about it because:
A. Mimes aren't even supposed to talk
B. I was definitely not pregnant


We got back from a magical 14 days in Italy.

As we adjusted back to being home, I just wasn't feeling the best. "Jet lag," I thought.
"Too much pizza and gelato, maybe. I'm not used to eating like that."

BUUUUUT .... it wasn't going away. So I bought a pregnancy test.

It was a lazy Saturday morning and we were putzing around the house when I decided to take it.

I unwrapped the stick, peed and quickly set it on the bathroom sink. I went and laid on the bed thinking over and over again, "No way, just... no way."

I sent Tom in first. He didn't have to say anything because when I saw his jaw drop open with a look of complete shock, I knew. It was positive and our lives were never going to be the same.

We were going to have a baby.


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I don't know about any of you other moms out there but I felt like the first woman in the world to ever see a plus sign on her pregnancy test.

I felt excited, nervous... like.. ok.... what do I do now?

Nothing had changed and yet it felt like everything changed.

It felt so wild.. but I'd soon find out that that is the only way to truly describe this whole experience. 

Wild.


Continue Reading...

The Pregnancy Diaries

Long Before Baby -- Pregnancy Diary Part 1

"I'm never getting married.", I said. And I meant it.

All throughout my teens and early twenties I was pretty set on never tying the knot. 

Having kids? Nope. It really didn't even cross my mind as a possibility for my life.

There were too many places to go, too many things to see and to be honest my motto was: I do what I want.

The untraditional felt best for me. I didn't want to just check boxes and I never wanted to do something a certain way just because that was how you are "supposed" to do it.

For the majority of my twenties, it was just me. Everything I owned fit into my car and I liked it like that! Life was good.

Theeeeeeen came Tom.

It was 2013, and I was finishing up school. I was ready to get out of Las Vegas and do something new. Having lived on Maui briefly, I always wanted to go back. Hawaii became my biggest dream.

I was doing my research on making my way back to the islands when I decided to reach out to Tom. We graduated high school together in 2006 and after school he lived on Maui for three years. He had returned to the mainland and was living in Arizona when I sent him a Facebook message.

"Hey Tom, it's been a while, hope all is well! I'm thinking of making my way out to Hawaii, just curious, why did you leave?"

He wrote me back and let me know he missed living there everyday. He gave me some really good insight and after reading his message I landed on his profile.

Tom was tall and so darn cute. He just got back from Europe! "What a cool dude.", I thought. He was running races, snowboarding and traveling all over. Hmm.

We wrote messages back and forth for a couple days just catching up... it had been 8 years since we graduated! Tom mentioned that he was going to be in Vegas THAT WEEKEND and asked if I wanted to grab lunch.

That was that. We went to lunch and I swear to you, that day, I knew I was going to marry him.

 February 26th, 2013 -- Tom flew to Vegas to have lunch with me. Little did I know, two years later, he'd be my husband!

February 26th, 2013 -- Tom flew to Vegas to have lunch with me. Little did I know, two years later, he'd be my husband!

Falling in love with Tom was so easy. He made everything better. He was fun. He made me laugh like no one else in the world and he made me want to be the best version of myself.

I fell for Tom fast. (Who was I?!)  It was tough for me to let my guard down and yet I just trusted him. He loved me and I loved him, so much

When Tom got down on one knee a year and a half later, in Hawaii, I said yes. I don't think there was anything in the world I was more sure of. It is funny how things happen and it's funny how things change.

As for babies? It was a very distant thought although it strangely crossed my mind. We were both pretty unsure and there were no absolutes. When it came up we decided that would be a bridge we would cross WAY LATER. 

First, travel!


Thomas George -- Birth Story

Birth Story -- Thomas George

I'm convinced that going through labor and delivery is the most intense, 'in the moment' experience of all time. You can read and plan all you want but you can never truly prepare for what will play out. I'm convinced that women are incredibly strong and heroically brave and I'm 100% convinced that every single women's experience, no matter what it is, is absolutely perfect and beautiful. What a miracle.

Having a natural, vaginal, unmedicated birth was my greatest desire from day one. I felt so confident in my body's ability to not only grow a healthy human for 9 months but to also bring that healthy human into the world free from medical intervention. I read so many books and sought support from other moms that had the experience I was aiming for. I had my birth plan written out and printed. In my mind, it wasn't going to happen any other way.

The story of Thomas George

 We took this picture right before we left for Castle. My last bump picture at 40+5.&nbsp;

We took this picture right before we left for Castle. My last bump picture at 40+5. 

It was 11pm on New Year's Day when we arrived at Castle.

My contractions started the day before and were finally averaging 5 minutes apart. I had tested positive for group B strep earlier that month and was told to go in a bit early so they could start me on antibiotics.

When I arrived they put me through triage and checked me for the first time. Oh. My. Goodness. That was so painful and I was only 2cm dilated! I had to be at least 5cm before they would admit me. What a bum! My doula Katie arrived and at midnight we all started walking the halls, stopping every few minutes to breathe through contractions.

Over six hours later, at 6:30am January 2nd, they finally admitted me. At this point I was in labor. My contractions were intense and consistent. Lots of deep breathing, really loud, really long groans. It was all happening, finally, and we were thinking we would be meeting baby J very soon. (Ha!)

By early morning I was getting tired but still felt determined. The pain was hardcore but I had amazing support and my body was totally doing it. Following my birth plan, Katie filled the tub with hot water and at 7:00am I took the absolute best bath of my LIFE! I soaked in the birthing tub for over an hour... breathing deeply and trying my best to relax.

 Being monitored while breathing through the early contractions. I hadn't been admitted yet. I can't tell if that's a smile or a 'holy crap this hurts' face.

Being monitored while breathing through the early contractions. I hadn't been admitted yet. I can't tell if that's a smile or a 'holy crap this hurts' face.

It was about 8:15am when I decided to go back to bed. They installed a birthing bar and I labored in many different positions over the next few hours. Primal noises, primal movements. With every contraction I needed to hold on to something with all my might: Tom, Katie, the birthing bar or in a few instances, Tom's hair (sorry love!).

Hour after hour after hour.. chugging along anxious to get this show on the road and even more anxious to meet our baby boy.

It was 9:15am when my midwife arrived. I had been laboring at Castle for over 10 hours! She checked me and I was dilated to 7cm. That was great, except my water still hadn't broken... they talked about breaking it but wanted to give me one more round of antibiotics first. So we had to wait... power on, breathe and wait.

By 11:45am I was dilated to 8cm (almost there!) and my contractions were SO STRONG. I was in a lot of pain now that I think back but in the moment I just did my best to get through one contraction at a time. I was still so determined and at this point and I was feeling strong and capable. I just kept thinking that he had to, had to come soon.

From 12pm-3pm I labored on but stayed right there at 8cm. What? No progress... I was 16 hours in, 8cm dilated but not making progress. I was starting to lose steam. It's so hard to really describe any of these moments but if I could, in this moment, READY would be the word. I was so ready. Doing my best to breathe but in reality, at this point, I was hollering (at the top of my lungs) through contraction after contraction.

Finally at 3pm they gave me one more dose of antibiotics and my midwife popped my water bag. We waited. Nothing. Stuck. I was stuck at 8cm.. then my cervix started to swell.  

My midwife came in and sat down. She said they truly wanted to honor my birth plan but she also wanted to give me her honest opinion. My cervix was swelling and I wasn't dilating past 8cm. She really wanted to give me some pitocin to move things along, but it was up to me. Pitocin, she advised, would intensify my labor so she suggested an epidural along with it so I could rest, labor down and prepare for delivery.

In all honesty, I was in some serious pain and I was beyond exhausted. I talked to Tom and Katie and it didn't take me long to decide. "I'll take the epidural along with the pitocin.", I told her with confidence.

For a brief moment I was bummed, this was not the plan. This wasn't the plan at all but that feeling was so short lived. It felt like centuries until the Dr. arrived. I truly don't think I could have made it through one more contraction. He gave me the epidural at 4:15pm, 17 hours in, and I fell to the bed in total relief. The nurses covered me in warm blankets and I closed my eyes. There is no way to truly explain what I felt in the moment and I swear if I had the energy to cry tears of joy I would have... instead I drifted off to sleep silently thanking God. 

So I napped. A glorious, glorious nap as my son labored down.

At 6:00pm I finally hit 10cm. When they let me know it was almost time to push I really couldn't believe it. His head was right there, I could feel it! I was doing it, we were doing it and after all the waiting our baby was almost here.

With a cue from my midwife, at 6:45pm, I began pushing. At this point I couldn't feel anything except for a little pressure. I had my husband holding one leg and my doula holding the other... I looked around and I swear there were 20 people in the room. A contraction would begin and they would all say in unison, "PUSH!"

This part felt very easy to me, and when the time came I'd just give it all I had. Everyone in the room would shower me with encouragement and compliments (they must have known how bad I needed to hear it, lol). I'd relax and then repeat.

I had been pushing for an easy 45 minutes. I felt his head moving down, and it was nearing the end. What a trippy, trippy feeling. We were about to meet our son!

In that moment I glanced over at Tom and I knew something was wrong (the monitor lost his heartbeat). As my midwife performed a swift episiotomy, the whole room yelled, "PUSH!!!". I closed my eyes and pushed with absolutely everything I had and at 7:29pm on January 2nd, my son was born.

 Just moments after meeting our son for the first time -- 7:29pm on January 2nd!

Just moments after meeting our son for the first time -- 7:29pm on January 2nd!

There he was. I watched in slow motion as they lifted his little body up and unwrapped the umbilical cord from around his neck, his arm and his leg. 

The nurse placed him on my chest and I looked up at Tom. Oh. My. GOODNESS the emotion. THE EMOTION. I'm not sure how long we stayed like that. Time stopped. I was so happy and so exhausted, grateful and absolutely depleted. I did it. We did it. I followed about 30% of my birth plan but none of that mattered. In that moment I felt like the strongest woman in the world. He was here, our son was here!

When nurse came over to check him she noticed something was wrong with his breathing. There were so many people everywhere and at this point and I was so out of it, shaking uncontrollably. I must have fallen asleep as they took him because that is the last I remember from the delivery. 

 The first picture I took of Thomas George. January 3rd, 2017.

The first picture I took of Thomas George. January 3rd, 2017.

I woke up around 1:00am in a dark room, Tom was sleeping on the couch next to me. From chaos to complete silence. I was hurting all over but I had to see my son. "What was going on? Where was he? Is everything ok?", I played over and over in my mind.

I made my way to the door and flagged down a nurse, she got a wheelchair and without hesitation brought me to the nursery.

There he was. My little blonde boy with fluffy hair. He was all wrapped up and the only word I can think of to describe him was perfection. He was perfect and standing there in the nursery, in the middle of the night, I completely lost it. Tears of uncertainty and tears of joy.

 Nursing, holding, kissing and praying. Everyday.

Nursing, holding, kissing and praying. Everyday.

The nurse explained that when the cord wrapped around his neck he lost oxygen causing him to poop. He then inhaled and swallowed that sticky, tar like substance, meconium. They were able to get it out of his stomach but it was still in his lungs. They put him on oxygen and told me they'd update me in the morning.

After doing his blood work they decided they wanted to keep him in the nursery for a while. It looked like he had developed an infection and needed antibiotics. It was so hard to see his little body all hooked up struggling to breathe. The hardest part was the IVs! They had to continuously start new ones because Mr. Strongbaby would knock them out. He had them in his hands, his feet, his arms and his legs. Eehk. Also, like a lot of babies, Thomas became a bit jaundice. Under the light he goes! At this point we really had to rely on faith and each other. I prayed a lot and we did our best to stay positive.

I was a patient at Castle for the first two days and began my healing process. I worked with the lactation consultants to established breastfeeding/pumping and we spent as much time with Thomas as possible.

After those two days, it was time for me to be discharged. We had to go home. We held off until late that evening and when it came time to go, I totally lost it. (I did say this was the most emotional week of my life, right?) How on earth was I supposed to go home when my baby was still there?

Fortunately, the nurse taking care of Thomas that night was absolutely fantastic. She gave me the biggest hug and told me it was an honor to care for our son. She gave me the nursery number and said to call her anytime for updates. Tom and I locked hands and headed to the car. It was so hard and I cried all the way home.

The week chugged on. Pump at night, early rise, Castle all day, home, shower, bed, repeat.

It wasn't long though, and things started looking up. Our son kept proving that he is incredibly strong. Soon he was off oxygen, out from under the jaundice light and he was breathing really well. By the end of the week he was off all monitors and the only thing keeping us there was him needing to finish the full week of antibiotics. 

The morning of January 10th was one that is hard to describe. The skies were blue, the mountains were clear and the sun was shining. It was a perfect Hawaii day. We headed into Castle with our carseat in tow, our Thomas George was going home!

We made our rounds, hugging up everyone like crazy! We packed up and out to the car we went. 

We did it! We made it.. and our healthy little family was finally going home.

 January 10th, 2017 -- after 8 days in the nursery, we are finally heading HOME!&nbsp;

January 10th, 2017 -- after 8 days in the nursery, we are finally heading HOME! 

Thank you, Tom, for being everything that a father and husband should be. You didn't miss a beat that week. Sharing every single experience and being so strong when I couldn't. The love you have for your family is undeniable. You'll always be my greatest blessing. We did it! What a miracle our son is. Grazie mille, my love.

Thank you to my doula Katie. I honestly, honestly don't know what I would have done had you not been there that day. Thank you for being there and being the sister that I needed so much. From the beginning all the way until we were holding Thomas. Thank you, Katie. 

Thank you to our families and friends that were supporting and encouraging near and far. Sorry for the scare! We love you guys so much and are so lucky that you love Thomas the way you do. Thank you, thank you.

To the insanely brilliant mama tribe that continues to share their experiences with me, THANK YOU! I need you guys more than you know.

The biggest thank you to my midwife and all the nurses at Castle Medical Center. We had a phenomenal experience. So personal, professional and genuinely caring. Every single one of you are so appreciated. 

Thomas George, we are so lucky that you are here and that you are healthy. We seriously love you so much. Now, let the biggest adventure of our lives begin! <3

 Thomas George, 6 weeks old. &lt;3

Thomas George, 6 weeks old. <3