Vaginal Birth vs. Cesarean – Which One Was Better?

I have been asked this question several times since Mae’s birth. I decided pretty early on that I wanted to blog my thoughts on it, but it has taken a few weeks. Honestly, while I want to talk about it, I’m a little afraid to do so. I don’t want people to get the impression that I think one type of birth is superior to the other. Or that someone should get more awesome-sauce points for bringing a baby into the world a certain way. Or that birth is, in any way, shape, or form, a competition.

So this is my disclaimer. And it’s kind of long:

I am a supporter of any type of birth that insures the health of both the baby AND the mother. The physical health of our babies is very important…DUH. But the emotional and physical health of mothers is important too!

Unfortunately, the emotional well-being of mothers is often overlooked when it comes to bringing babies into the world. And it seems that when moms do suffer birth trauma and try to talk about it, more times than not, they’re met with “a healthy baby is all that matters” or some other similar line.

I’ve actually experienced this several times myself via comments made in person and on my blog posts expressing disappointments in my births.

Regarding that sentiment, I’m just going to leave this here :)

“Many women, on telling stories of how they felt abused or traumatized during birth — or some other negative feeling, like having failed as a woman after having a C-section, or something — have their feelings dismissed with, ‘at least you have a healthy baby.’ While there is certainly a place for looking for the ‘silver lining’ in the midst of any cloud, no matter how dark, there is also a place for just putting your arm around somebody’s shoulders and ‘weep with those that weep, and mourn with those that mourn.’ Dismissing a woman’s feelings does not help her — if anything, it only makes her feel worse, because then she has the added guilt of not being able to ‘just be happy’ that her baby is healthy. Certainly she is happy that her baby is healthy… but can she not also be sad that it came at the cost of severe bodily trauma? — Especially if she is fairly certain that the C-section or whatever else that she endured during birth, was in fact not necessary for her baby to have been born healthy and well.”


(Photo and Quote Source)

I am not a fan of that line, so please don’t use it on me, or any other person expressing sadness over their birth experience. Please, and thank you.

So…I am a supporter of whatever kind of birth a mom wants: C-section. Medicated vaginal birth. Unmedicated vaginal birth. Homebirth. Whatevs, man. Do whatcha gotta do to be healthy and whole.

For me, that was attempting a natural vaginal birth, which turned into a medicated vaginal birth, after two (very) traumatic c-sections that left me feeling sad, among other things.

The pros and cons that I’ll be listing in this post are strictly my own. They aren’t meant to speak for anyone else’s birth experience :)

So without further ado, here they are:

C-section Pros: 
  • It was quick.
C-section Cons: 
  • I was left alone after the birth.
  • The room was cold, lonely, and sterile during the birth. I was afraid.
  • I was strapped to the table.
  • I had to be put to sleep because I could feel the cutting.
  • I have no memory of meeting my Em.
  • With my Harp, I experienced a long wait time between the birth and actually getting to hold and breastfeed him.
  • I was never given the opportunity to have skin to skin immediately following the births.
  • My husband wasn’t allowed to cut the cord.
  • I had no involvement in the birth process.
  • I had a long recovery time and didn’t even begin to feel normal until 4-6 weeks postpartum.
  • The recovery was extremely painful and scary. I constantly felt like my incision would come apart.
  • I was unable to lift or pickup my newborn baby. When Em was born,this limitation was a nightmare because it meant I couldn’t pick up my baby OR my toddler.
  • Delayed cord clamping wasn’t allowed. Both babies experienced jaundice.
  • I experienced depression/anxiety for months following the births.
  • Both Em & Harp missed out on exposure to normal bacteria, which increases risk of allergies, etc.
Vaginal Birth Pros: 
  • I got to have immediate skin to skin.
  • I was able to breastfeed immediately following the birth.
  • The room was joyful and bright during the birth. I felt excited and happy.
  • I was given uninterrupted time with my baby afterwards – medical examinations, etc. were delayed until after the first hour had passed.
  • I was never left alone.
  • We got to do delayed cord clamping – Mae was my first baby not to be jaundiced.
  • I was able to take an active role in Mae’s birth and I delivered her with my own two hands.
  • My husband got to cut the cord.
  • Mae was exposed to normal bacteria, which is good for the gut.
  • I had a much shorter recovery time. Minus my leg complication, I felt normal at two weeks postpartum.
  • I had very little pain. The pain of my vaginal birth was like a skinned knee in comparison to my c-section pain. No competition.
  • I experienced a birth high, and was much more emotionally stable after birth.
  • So far, I have experienced no feelings of depression or anxiety. Admittedly, this could still come, although I’m hoping not.
Vaginal Birth Cons: 
  • Labor pain. Some people love it (or so I’ve heard). I am not one of those people.
  • Tearing. I had a 2nd degree tear, and while it wasn’t THAT bad…I’d still consider it a con haha.
  • I had to have a Foley catheter in for a week due to not being able to urinate (Mae “stunned” my bladder). This isn’t a “normal” complication, but according to my OB does happen occasionally.

So there are my pros and cons. I could probably come up with more if I sat and really thought about it, but this post is already long enough…so we will just leave it at this!

Which birth was better?

For me, the vaginal birth was WAY better. Even with my leg complication, it has still been so much easier than the recovery of both of my c-sections. Yes, I have been limping around for the past month, but I did that with both of my c-sections too. At least this time, I can pick up my babies and adequately care for them. And I can laugh without being in pain. Laughing is a big part of my life and you can’t laugh after a c-section. Seriously! I can also drive (I use my left foot) and ride in the car without fearing speed bumps (ouch!) – both things I couldn’t do for a long time after my c-sections.

BUT…while an easier physical recovery has definitely been a perk, the absolute best part of this whole experience has been that I just feel better emotionally. I feel like ME. I’m happy and energetic and just…my normal self. I feel amazing, and this is the first birth I’ve ever been able to say that about!

So for me, the vaginal birth was definitely the better one! HANDS DOWN.



The NICU. I never in a million years thought that I would experience it. My kids are all born huge, healthy, and pink. I always (subconsciously) had a false sense of security that because my babies are born big, they’d be safe from the NICU. I never even realized that this was my thought process until Mae ended up in the NICU.

She was born at 12:41 pm on a Wednesday. 9 lbs 3 oz, 20.5 inches long. BIG baby girl! <3 She didn’t say much when she entered the world, but she “pinked up” just fine. She was quiet and observant. Benji and I actually didn’t even know what she sounded like for about 24 hours after her birth.

Her first night with us was interesting. She didn’t wake me up by crying. Instead, she would wake me up in 30-90 minute intervals by choking. I would quickly pick her up and then she would gag and subsequently projectile vomit (I guess you would call it vomiting?) clear fluid.  I had never experienced this with H or E, but I didn’t panic. I just figured she had swallowed a lot of amniotic fluid in the womb and it was working its way out of her.

The day after her birth, we finally heard her cry for the first time. She was really fussy, unlike the day before. I thought maybe she was waking up and this was going to be her normal disposition. I kept her at the breast as much as I could, but she still fussed. Sometime around mid day, I noticed she was breathing rapidly. Her nurse came in for one of her checkups, and I shared my concerns with her, but she told me she thought it was just because Mae had recently been crying.

Later that afternoon, the nurse came in again for another checkup. This time, she noticed the rapid breathing for herself and told us that she needed to take Mae to Well Baby so that the pediatrician could examine her. Still in the “my babies don’t go to the NICU” mindset, I let her leave the room without much pomp and circumstance. I assumed that all would be well and they would return Mae within an hour.

Well…that didn’t happen. We were told a little while later that Mae was being sent to NICU for tachypnea (a fancy word for rapid breathing) and she would be getting a chest x-ray. They didn’t really tell us much beyond that, saying the doctor would fill us in later. At this point, I internally freaked out a bit. I actually type the neonatal chest x-rays for this particular hospital, and I knew that Mae would be getting crap-ton of x-rays if she were to stay in the NICU. Hello, radiation.

The doctor didn’t officially come to speak with me until about 11 PM. Once again, he didn’t give me any specific diagnosis…it was just a “she might have this, but we’re not sure so we’re monitoring her” kind of thing. He did tell me that they had taken blood cultures and had started antibiotics to go ahead and start fighting off any infection that might be there. He said her breathing was already headed in the right direction.

Having never had a NICU baby before, I kept waiting for them to call me to say I could come see her. By 8AM the next morning, I realized that obviously wasn’t going to happen. It had been about 14 hours since I had seen her so I started making calls myself <– apparently this is how the NICU works. You tell them when you want to go see the baby, not the other way around. No one ever communicated this to me, so I was clueless. I was pretty upset when I realized that I could have been in to see her all throughout the night.

The NICU told me I could come see her in about 30 minutes. I was still unable to walk at this point, and Benji had to work on this particular morning (you can read about that Here), so I had to call a nurse to wheel me down. That was real fun.

When I finally arrived, Mae was screaming. She hadn’t had anything to eat since the afternoon before. They had her on IV fluids, and at one point had had a feeding tube in her, but she had gotten mad and ripped it out. Though she was getting fluids, she was still hungry. A nurse was at her incubator with both arms inside trying to pat her down and calm her. Mae was on her belly, with her head to the side and she was violently kicking and flailing around. She was very hangry and was letting everyone know about it. She had a million wires coming out of her and she had a cannula in as well. As soon as I saw her, I fell apart and started sobbing. Every fiber of my being wanted to grab her up and hold her, but there was a giant plastic box and a nurse standing between us. Though I was staring right at her, it felt like she was a million miles away. It was a horrible, gut-wrenching feeling.

The nurse eventually put some sugar water on a pacifier and calmed her that way.  She told me I could put my hands through the arm holes of the incubator and touch her that way if I wanted. She left after that, and I just sat and cried. Every time I’d try to pull myself together, I’d start back up again. At some point, another nurse came over and just hugged me. She didn’t say a thing…she just hugged me while I cried. She eventually brought me a baby blanket to wipe my face with – she said they don’t even bother with Kleenex for the NICU parents. It made me laugh. It was such a kind gesture…and I feel horrible because I don’t even remember what she looked like, but I’ll still remember her forever.

One big blessing that came out of my “injury” was that they allowed me to stay in the hospital for one day longer. While I was in the hospital, I visited Mae as often as I could. By Friday, mid day, they had started allowing us to hold and bottle feed her. She was improving and they had removed her cannula. It left a horrible mark though:


Being able to finally hold her was amazing!


I was discharged on Saturday. The doctor who discharged me said that the room was mine until midnight, so I could stay as long as I needed to even though I had been discharged. I decided to stay until 5pm, so that I could feed her one last time before going home.

That last feeding was pretty terrible. I cried and cried and cried. Leaving her at the hospital just felt so wrong, and I felt very guilty. It may have helped if we had known when she’d be coming home with us, but the NICU was absolutely horrible about communicating with us. We still didn’t even have a diagnosis for her at this point and when we’d ask when she might come home, they’d basically just repeat their standards and procedures to us. The only time we got close to having an answer was when one nurse told us “Maybe by Wednesday” but even that wasn’t encouraging with the “maybe” in front of it.

The next two nights were difficult and lonely, to say the least. There should have been a sweet little baby right next to me at night, but instead, her bed was empty. I would sit and pat my flattened belly, while looking over to where she should have been, and I would play back all the times I had ever complained about being pregnant, my heart heavy with regret. I may have been uncomfortable, but at least she had been safe then. Now she wasn’t with us at all, and it just sucked.

Thanks to some amazing friends of ours who watched H & E for us practically all day on Sunday, we were able to spend a good portion of our day with her the next day. It was the best medicine! I got to breastfeed her for the first time since Thursday afternoon. She took right to it, like we had never been apart. I was relieved. There was a part of me that believed she wouldn’t know me anymore after all of this was over.

When we came back on Monday, they informed us that we could “room in” with Mae that night. This was music to my ears. Though they still hadn’t told us when she would be discharged, this was the step right before they discharge a baby from the NICU so we had a pretty good feeling it would be the next day!

I had originally planned on just doing the room in alone, but some of the nurses were treating me like an invalid since I had a catheter in and had to use a walker to get around. One had even hinted at Mae not being able to go home until I got well. This statement didn’t sit well with me. Not wanting anything to interfere with her coming home, I asked my friend Bekah if the kids could stay with her overnight so that Benji could come with me. I just wanted the nurses to see with their own eyes that we are a two person team, and Mae would be well cared for, in spite of my injury. So H & E had their first ever slumber party! Thanks Bekah!! <3

The NICU “room in” closet (I won’t even call it a room) was apparently designed to only have one parent stay with the baby – why??? Who knows.


It had one twin size bed, and then a crappy fold out chair across from it that was totally nonfunctional. Poor Benji got the worst night of sleep ever that night, I believe. He was a good sport about it, giving me the bed, and not letting me trade out with him, even though I offered to. He’s so sweet.

Mae did splendidly that night! She woke up at her feeding times, ate well, and went back to sleep. The last time that we had spent time with her alone (on Thursday), she had been extremely fussy so I assumed she would scream this night as well, but she didn’t.

The next morning, we were officially told that she could go home. We were so happy! Our family was finally going to be together. The doctor came by to discharge her around 11am. He informed us that she had really been kept “too long.” Yes…he admitted that. After three chest x-rays, one abdominal x-ray, and a round of antibiotics, it turned out that she never had an infection in the first place. All of her x-rays were clear. All of her blood work was negative. “Sometimes babies just do this” he told us. Nice. So my baby just went through hell – being poked and prodded constantly, exposed to radiation, not to mention being separated from her parents – all for nothing? Awesome. Thank you, Doctor. Given my stance on modern medicine, the overuse of antibiotics, and the horrible damage they can do to your body, etc. this honestly just pissed me off, but I decided not to focus on it. I decided to instead focus on the fact that we were finally going home and it was OVER.


My friend Alexa made this for me to go with one of my birth affirmation cards <3 RTR, y’all.

So we made it home. I told Benji when we left the hospital that I officially felt like Mae was ours. It just didn’t seem like she was while in the hospital. Anytime we tried to do “normal parenting” stuff, we had a nurse or doctor hovering over us…watching. It always felt like we were being judged on whether or not we were fit parents. Super weird experience.

And just because I have to document EVERYTHING. This is what Mae looked like when she got home:


Seven sticks in her right foot


Seven sticks in her left foot


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One stick in each hand

So many boo-boos :( And she had another heel stick at the doctor last week, and SCREAMED…so now I can only imagine that she did the same for each of these 16 sticks. Breaks my heart.

But she’s home now…thank God. THANK GOD. And given her start to life, I’m finding it very hard not to spoil her. She’s going to get everything she wants from here on out. Mark my words ;-)

Stanky Leg

Hi there! You probably guessed by the title that this post is about my birth injury. Or maybe you thought this post would actually be about me doing the stanky legg…for real. I hate to disappoint you if you thought it was the latter. Maybe some other time, friend?

Like with my birth story, I’m giving you a warning with this post. It will have details and pictures that are probably gross, and TMI, but I’m sharing anyways! It’s my story, and I’ve been laughing through it. It’s just how I deal. So here we go.

A lot of people have been asking about my foot so I thought I’d give a few details here to clear it up for everyone. Well…clear it up as much as I can. It’s still not technically clear to me OR the doctors.

Basically, after Mae was born, and the epidural was wearing off, I realized that my right foot was completely numb. We were told that the epidural sometimes just takes a while to wear off and that what I was experiencing was normal. We were told that within 24 hours, my leg and foot would be back to normal. My gut told me that this wasn’t going to be the case for me, but I ignored that feeling and decided to just enjoy the first 24 hours with my new baby girl. I didn’t want to worry those precious first hours away.

After 24 hours had passed though, my foot was still completely numb. The right side of my leg below the knee was also numb, but the left was not. I couldn’t move my toes, or flex my foot up or down. It just sort of….hung there. The doctors and nurses were perplexed and no one had any answers. I was sent in for an MRI to make sure that the epidural had not somehow injured my spine. While I did have two disc bulges and some facet hypertrophy, there was nothing from the epidural, and nothing that would cause me to to lose the use of my right foot.

A physical therapist was sent to my room and she was absolutely no help whatsoever. She just made a bunch of confused noises and left abruptly, offering to bring some ice packs by later on, in case I had an inflamed nerve. I began to feel rather hopeless at this point. My nurse had taught me how to walk by locking my bones into place, but I had to hold onto things as I crossed the room or I couldn’t make it. I eventually requested that my doctor order me a walker. Yes…a freaking walker.

On top of my leg/foot not working, my bladder was out of commission too. I could not pee on my own. I had the urge to go, but I couldn’t get it to leave my body. And we tried everything. Grape juice with sweet-n-low in it (I’m still confused on this one?), medication, tons of water, ammonia packs under me while I was actively trying to go, sniffing nail polish remover while trying to go (again…what?), sucking on a straw while I tried to go…NOTHING WORKED. I thought maybe I was experiencing performance anxiety and that’s why I couldn’t go. But then…my family came to visit. I was feeling like I needed to go when they got there, and that sensation quickly turned into severe pain. I called my nurse and told her I needed a catheter put in ASAP. I seriously thought I was going to burst. When they got the catheter in, they drained nearly one and a half liters from my bladder. Umm..there is no way that was performance anxiety!

At this point, they decided to put a Foley catheter in and just leave it. It stayed in for 24 hours, was removed, and once again, I couldn’t go and I had to have another one placed. Damn. I was beginning to feel pretty desperate. Everyone began to verbalize what I had feared the most – that it might be related to my leg. HOLY MOLY. Please…no. I couldn’t have a catheter in for forever. This was worse than my right leg not working in my book – maybe I’m crazy, but that’s just how I felt. My nurse came in to find me crying over it one night, and assured me that all would be okay and that my bladder would “wake up” soon. I didn’t believe her.

Long story short, I ended up being sent home with that stupid thing. I find this a little hilarious (now), because right before Mae was born, I informed my friend Amanda that getting the Foley catheter was one of my favorite parts of labor! You spend nine months peeing all the time, and finally get a break from it. Needless to say, I ate my words, and I am not a fan of the Foley anymore! Haha.

I had it in for a week. I deal with things by being stupid and cracking jokes. So to cope with this awful contraption, I nicknamed it my postpartum penis and my pee purse and tried to make light of it.

And speaking of laughing about my situation, Benji also started singing this to me anytime I’d hobble somewhere:

LOL!!! God, I love him.

Okay…back to the pee purse. Being in public with it was absolutely humiliating. I felt like I had mastered walking around with my stanky leg, but since I was always carrying a bag of my pee around, I felt tied to my walker. I had to have something to hang the bag on that kept it below my waist line (to prevent urine from going backing up into my bladder once it was in the bag). Seriously…it was awful and people treated me like I was so so fragile and incapable. The NICU nurses were the worst about looking at me with that pity look, and one even hinted to not letting Mae go home until I didn’t have the catheter in anymore.

On top of all that, I couldn’t take a bath with it in – I had to shower. As you can imagine, that’s a little difficult when you can’t use one of your legs properly. And…dude…when things fall apart around me, I just want to hop into the bathtub and SOAK sometimes. It sucked not being able to do that. I also couldn’t wear pants while I had it in. I had to wear a dress, and you could see the tube (aka postpartum penis) coming out from underneath my dress, and from my nether regions. People stared and it was annoying.

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Yep. That’s my pee…in the pee purse. Isn’t it beautiful?

After being at home with that thing for a week, I finally got the chance to try peeing again. I went in to my OB’s office expecting to be sent home with another catheter. I had actually even asked JLo before going in to teach me how to self cath if I couldn’t pee so I could just get rid of that nasty bag. I got there early in the morning and had that “I’m about to burst” sensation. I sat down, prayed, and then…peed. I PEED!!!! I’ve never prayed over my peeing efforts before, but I definitely give God the glory for being able to go – that’s a weird statement. I cried and cried and cried. It was the best feeling in the world! I tell you what…I will never take being able to pee for granted again! Haha.

Once that was all settled, I felt so much better about my leg. My friend Danielle had loaned me a brace earlier in the week to tie me over until I could get an actual AFO brace. Her brace helped me tremendously! I’ve been using it around the house, and once when we took the kids to the zoo. It helps me walk and prevents me from unknowingly spraining my ankle. It’s awesome – thank you, Danielle!! <3

File Sep 14, 6 26 27 PM

I forgot to mention that the OB that discharged me told me that what I have is called drop foot. It’s basically the result of nerve damage. So we know WHAT it is…we just don’t know why it happened unfortunately.

I found a group of moms on FB that suffered the same type of injury during their births and recovery time for all of them was anywhere from 6 weeks to a year. I’m hopeful that my foot will slowly began to heal on it’s own.

A couple of times, I’ve caught myself looking forward to the day when I’ll be all better and fully functional again. I’m trying really hard not to have that mindset though – you know…looking forward to a time when my present trouble is gone. Who knows if that day will even come for me. Mae will only be this little once, and since she’s my last baby, I’m trying so hard to be present NOW and to just enjoy her, in spite of my foot. Some days are harder than others, and I don’t always make that choice…especially with all the postpartum hormones and what not going on. Some days I have multiple pity parties over it. But I’m realizing that in some ways, this has been a blessing. When Mae was being released from the NICU, I was praying over her and I started praying that God would make this time go slower for me. That he would slow ME down, so that I could just enjoy it all. I immediately saw a picture of my foot as the words left my mouth. It was like God was saying I’m one step ahead of you, Ash (see what I did there?).

Because of this injury, I’ve had to settle into a new place that I’m not really comfortable being in – a place where I let people help me. That has probably been the hardest part because I don’t really love asking for help. But through that, I’ve found that people really and truly love us…so much. It’s kind of incredible and extremely humbling. God has been so generous towards me, and our family, through all of this.

So that’s where we are now. Hopefully within a week or two I’ll have my AFO brace. I’m also planning to see a physical therapist and neurologist to help me with my recovery. I’m excited about that and hopeful they can give me even more answers.

I’m still planning to post about the NICU stay as well as my feelings on c-section versus VBAC. My feelings on the last may surprise you, given my present situation! But more on that later :)

Mae’s Birth Story

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She’s here! Good Lord. I can’t believe it. A week has already passed, and what a whirlwind it was. I’ve thought about writing this story down several times over the past few days, but never got around to it. Today is the day though. I need to do it before the details get lost in the fuzziness that is new motherhood. Just a warning though. I have a million pictures, and one includes a bloody baby. I’m not sparing any details, so if birthy things gross you out, read no further, friend! :)

It’s hard to know where to start on this one. As most of you already know, I had a vaginal birth after two c-sections this time. I didn’t officially decide to attempt a vaginal birth until I was 37 weeks along though. I spent my entire pregnancy going back and forth on what to do.

When I had Em by csection, I knew I would never try to VBAC again. It was way too painful (both physically and emotionally) to try only to fail in the end. And if I’m being honest…trying and failing left an ugly mark on Em’s birth for me. I was thrilled that she was healthy, but part of me was also grieved by how things went down. I didn’t want that for this birth. The OB who delivered Em had also assured me that my pelvis was too small to birth my babies anyways. So once Em came by c-section, I knew that with my next pregnancy, I would simply sign up for a repeat c-section.

Only I didn’t. I got pregnant again and for some reason, that decision did not come so easily to me. Every time I thought about picking a c-section date, I felt conflicted and I had no idea why. Once again, I had a very intense longing to have a vaginal birth this time around. I was insanely frustrated with myself over it too as I had already been told it was impossible. Whhhhhyyyyyy did I want to try again?

My new OB only complicated my decision because she was pro VBAC…even after two c-sections. She had read all the studies that deemed them safe, and was on board if I wanted to try. Part of me just wanted her to tell me no and make the decision for me. I know. Insanity, right? She said we would wait until late in my pregnancy and have an ultrasound to determine whether or not I was a good candidate – she mainly just wanted to see if Mae was actually in my pelvis or not.

I’ll spare you the emotional turmoil I went through (and put my friends through) during the weeks leading up to my ultrasound. To VBAC or not to VBAC. It consumed me every. single. day. Finally, on August 8th (I remember the date), I felt God calling me to just freaking surrender to Him already. DO IT. Surrender to me, and don’t care about the ending, Ash. I’ve got this. <—it sounded more or less like that. LOL. So I did. I handed my birthy plans over to Him…the ones I had been clinging to and crying over for weeks on end. And I felt immediate peace.

Over the next ten days, as I waited for my ultrasound, “I Surrender All” was my daily song. Anytime I felt a hint of anxiety or the temptation to wonder what would happen, I started singing that song. By the time the 18th rolled around, I had convinced myself that Dr. Logan (aka JLo) would say a repeat c-section was in my best interest, and I was actually okay with it!

However, to my complete shock, Mae was engaged and ready to go at that appointment. I had never had a baby engaged in my pelvis before…not even during labor, so this was a miracle in my book! JLo told me I was a good candidate to try and said my pelvis was just fine to birth my baby. So it was decided. I would try. Again. Phew.

I started doing all the labor-y type things after that appointment. Walking like a mad woman. Drinking raspberry tea. Eating pineapple. Bouncing on my birth ball. Seeing my chiropractor weekly. Etc. It was fun to work towards sending my body into labor on its own. I came up with a birth plan and officially asked two of my friends to doula for me.

During that week, I actually started experiencing nightly contractions…something that had never happened in any of my pregnancies before. They kept me up all. night. long. It was awful and awesome at the same time! Awful in that it exhausted me and awesome in that it assured me that my body was working towards the end goal of getting Mae here.

At my 38 week check up I was 1.5 cm dilated and 50% effaced. I upped my birthing ball and pineapple game over the next week and by the time I was 39 weeks, I was 3 cm dilated.  JLo asked if she could strip my membranes at the appointment and I said “please, and thank you!” That was on Monday. I had contractions all afternoon that day, and I was kind of afraid I’d go into labor that night. I say afraid because I was exhausted from being up all night the night before. I wanted just one night of rest before I went into the real deal labor thing. Fortunately, I got what I asked for! Contractions stopped completely that night, and I had some of the best sleep I had gotten in weeks! The next morning, my friend (and doula) asked if I’d like to go walk. We loaded up all of our kids and took them to the park. They played while we made a couple of laps around the circle there. It was hot so we eventually decided to go walk around and shop at Target. While there, I started cramping.

I went home and put the kids down for nap and the contractions started up. They were 6-8 minutes apart. I stayed in bed all afternoon and evening with contractions. Even though I had gotten a good night sleep before, I was starting to feel extremely tired again.

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I looked awesome. This is my last pregnant picture.

Around 6pm, I had bloody show (I told you…all the birthy things will be written about), and after that my contractions really started to pick up. I texted my mom and told her to go ahead and come to our house as I thought I’d be heading to the hospital later that night.

My mom and doula (Bekah) both arrived at our house around 9pm. I had taken a bath in an attempt to slow my contractions down while waiting for my mom, and it was very efficient. Once Bekah arrived, I told her I’d like to go somewhere and walk to try and bring them back on again. We decided to head off to my friend Naomi’s house as she lived close to the hospital.

We got there and walked, and bounced on my birthing ball, and walked some more. Benji and I walked around the neighborhood and held hands. It felt like a little date and my heart needed that. At some point, I burped really loudly because I do that on dates, and it scared a man that was outside that I hadn’t seen. Yes…I scared a man with my burp. Sorry, dude. I assure you all…I am a lady…sometimes.

Around midnight, Naomi told me she thought that what I was experiencing was prodromal labor. She said I was too smiley to be in real labor and suggested that we wait things out. She told me not to get my hopes up on having the baby any time soon, but offered to let me spend the night at her house just in case. I knew I was in labor, and truthfully wanted to go to the hospital right at the moment because I was in a great deal of pain, even if I was smiley. But I decided to try and lay down for a while and wait to see what happened. I lasted an hour. I was dying. DYING. My contractions were lasting anywhere from 60-90 seconds and my god…they hurt. After an hour of laying there writhing in pain, I started shaking uncontrollably. I was terrified and started to feel desperate. I needed to go to the hospital. I just felt like I’d be safe there. I woke Benji and Bekah up and told them both I needed to go now. I may have dropped a couple of eff bombs in there too. Oh and I started crying uncontrollably. Good lord. Drama.

Bekah went and told Naomi we were going, but Naomi was half asleep and misunderstood, thinking we were heading home, not to the hospital. She stayed home and we headed off.

Things get a little blurry at this point. I know we were in triage for about two hours…and I was SO tired. I was handling contractions okay, but my eyes were rolling back into my head in between them, and I started to feel a little like I was dying. For real.

2015-09-02 04.19.28

So tired.

In all the rush to leave for Naomi’s house, I had forgotten my wallet at home. It had a special “call JLo for delivery” card in it. Since I was a VBA2C patient, JLo promised to personally delivery me no matter when I went into labor. We told the nurses that JLo told me to have them call her, but I didn’t have the card to prove it. Unfortunately, the OB on call that night was not VBAC supportive and if he delivered me, it would have been by repeat c-section. I was in so much pain that I started telling Benji and Bekah that if that man came into my room and told me I had to have a c-section, I wasn’t going to fight him on it. I was too tired and didn’t want to fight. At some point, we finally convinced the nurses to call JLo. They didn’t realize that I had had two prior c-sections – they thought I’d only had one. When they found this out, their eyes got wide. JLo was called, and we were moved to labor and delivery.

I forgot to mention that while in triage, they checked me and I was 4 cm dilated. This derailed me quite a bit simply because I was so tired and had been contracting ALL afternoon, evening, and night. All I could think was…geez…hours and hours of this crap, and I’m only 1 cm more dilated. I can’t continue on like this…hours of pain and exhaustion for just 1 cm. I was also fighting the mental battle of what if I do all of this and I stall at 7 cm again and end up with a c-section anyways – I had never gotten past 7 cm in any of my births.

It was at this point that I started telling Benji and Bekah that I needed the epidural. My birth plan had been ALLLLLLLL natural. No epidural. No artificial rupture of membranes. No pitocin. Etc. So when I started talking about getting the epidural, Benji and Bekah reminded me that pre-labor Ashley didn’t want one. And let me tell you something…it was ANNOYING. They had the best of intentions, and normal rational Ashley knows that. But laboring Ashley was kind of a beast and didn’t really care.

Bekah is one of my best friends, and she knows my birth stories and how they wounded me. She knew my heart’s desire, and wanted to see it through. She was gracious while reminding me of my birth plan.

And Benji…God bless him. He was a bit more firm because he’s physically been there as I’ve fallen apart before each c-section, and had to recover physically and emotionally from each one. He had seen me walk through and agonize over every single decision I made during my prior births, wondering if I had done something wrong. He had sat and cried with me. He lived through those disappointments with me, and didn’t want me to go through that again…so he was a lot more stubborn about my choice to get the epidural. I love him for it…but I was still mean to him in that moment lol. Sorry, babe.

Eventually, after lots of screaming from me, and punching a table or something, everyone agreed that I should be put out of my misery. I think they were really just afraid that I’d eat them alive if I didn’t get my way. I’m still ashamed of how I behaved. Bekah says I was only mean to Benji, but I think she’s lying.

So I got the drugs. And then I was in HEAVEN. You just don’t even know. Seriously. Look at the before and after:

2015-09-02 07.44.09

I took a nap, and progressed to 7 cm. When I woke up, nice Ashley was back!

Doubting Debrah came back with her though. I was now at 7 cm. My stalling point.

Okay…this is where it happens every time. I’m going to stall again, I just know it! Just make peace with it and you won’t be so disappointed when it happens again <—- my thought process.

I want to say I was at 7 cm for three hours, when JLo came in and said we weren’t going to get discouraged over it. She was going to break my water and start pitocin. I’m glad she wasn’t getting discouraged, because I sure as hell was! I just knew I wouldn’t go any further. They cranked up the pitocin, and I started to feel more pressure. It wasn’t too bad, but I could feel it. Sometime later, JLo came in and I was at 8 cm. I kid you not, my belief was that she lied to me to make me believe in myself, so that I would stop blocking my body from progressing. I did NOT believe I was 8 cm.

The nurses came in on an hourly basis and flipped me from side to side to help Mae move further down into my pelvis (I think it’s called the epidural roll?). It took about 1 to 2 hours to progress each centimeter. It was torturous. Eventually I was told I was 9 cm. Hmm…maybe JLo isn’t lying to me? Am I really at 9cm?

Again, I stayed there for a while, until Naomi came in with her peanut ball. Google it. They’re amazing, and I wish I had used it the entire time. They put it between my legs and within five minutes I was complete.

I fell apart when JLo said I was ready to push. No really. I did. Here’s proof. Naomi took pictures of my ugly cry:

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I never in a million years thought I would hear those words. JLo asked if I was in pain and I told her no…I was just so happy. I STILL could not believe it was happening though. I kept asking “is this really happening? Does this mean I’m going to push her out?” It was just absolute shock and disbelief..the whole time.

Still being in my negative state of mind, I was expecting about 2-4 hours of pushing. Naomi turned on my labor grooves playlist which included classics like “you can do it put your back into it” and “push it”. Me, the doulas, the OB, and the nurses ALLLLLLL danced to my awesome music while I pushed my precious baby into the world. My wonderful husband, who isn’t much of a dancer (unless it’s to ska), just smiled and videoed the whole thing for me. What a gift! <3 It was so incredible and SO much fun! Celebratory. Exactly how I had always wanted to experience birth!

I pushed for about 20 minutes, and JLo asked if I’d like to deliver her. UMM…yes, I would! So I got to pull her out. I was literally the first person to touch or hold her once she was earthside. It was pure magic, y’all.

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Seriously. It was one of the most incredible moments of my life, and I’m still in awe that it actually happened. I never once believed in myself. But God was gracious to me, and surrounded me with people who did believe and they all carried me through it.

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I’ll be writing a couple more posts in addition to this one. I want to write about my “birth injury”, Mae’s NICU stay, and my thoughts on VBAC vs. C-section (because people keep asking). But I’ll save that for later, because this is already hella long! :)

God bless you if you hung in there and read the whole thing!

We Finally Have Answers!

IMG_1062This is such an exciting post for me to write! I posted a little bit about this on Facebook, but haven’t felt up to blogging about it until today (you know…being huge pregnant and all, I’m kind of tired).

About a month ago, we had a blood allergy test done on Em. My last post about the Magical Cream actually left off with that…we were waiting to have the test done. That was a whole crazy experience that involved having to go twice because they couldn’t find a vein to stick the first time. We finally got answers though.

They tested her for all the top allergens, plus tomatoes because we suspected she had an allergy to those. Well. She reacted to everything. EVERYTHING. It’s kind of humorous because I’ve always joked that she’s allergic to everything. Little did I know, she actually was! Egg yolk, egg whites, wheat, corn, peanut, soy, and tomato…all positive. And this was in addition to the dairy, cinnamon, and cumin that we already knew about. Sheesh. She had “class I” reactions to everything except for soy, that was a “class II”.

I read so many mixed reviews on what to do with that information. From cut out everything to cut out nothing because it could just be a false positive. The middle ground advice was to just cut out soy since she reacted highest to that. With the way Em’s skin has been though (FOR TWO YEARS), I decided to take it to the extreme. I just kept thinking…she has been itching for her entire life…like seriously…she probably doesn’t even know what it feels like to just be normal. She was constantly ripping and tearing at her skin, and man…that broke my heart. So we decided to be extreme and remove all of that stuff from her diet.

Honestly, I was not thrilled about it and I was very skeptical that it would even work. I kept thinking that we were going to do this major dietary overhaul for her, and nothing would come of it (hi, I’m Negative Nancy). I even went into a mild state of depression over it because I felt so overwhelmed. I kept trucking along that first week though, and realized it wasn’t so hard after all. Soy, gluten, corn, and eggs are in just about everything, so we’ve mainly just stuck to fruits, veggies, and protein for her. That hasn’t been a huge deal because she’s always been into those things anyways. The biggest issue was finding snacky items she could munch on while at playdates and around others. Thank god there seem to be a lot of allergy-friendly food brands out there, so I was able to find a few things that she could have! I’ve also gotten my bake on a few times to make her some special little treats.

I’ve had a few people ask if our whole family has gone on this diet with her, and the answer is sometimes. We’re still doing breakfast and lunch the same way we’ve always done them – everyone has whatever they want. Generally, fruit and yogurt for breakfast for the kids. Lunch is usually protein, cheese, veggies, fruit. Em can have yogurt, sheep and goat cheese just fine, by the way. I don’t think I’ve mentioned that before. There are snacks throughout the day, of course. Em has hers and Harp has his. Sometimes he eats hers, but she can’t have his (for the most part). Dinner is sometimes a 100% allergen-free meal for all of us, and other times I’ll make something like spaghetti for the whole family, and just serve hers with gluten free pasta and no tomato sauce.

I’m doing it this way for two reasons: #1) The new Em diet is way is expensive. No…like really. I spent $100 on one week’s worth of food for JUST EM. Holy cow. And more importantly #2) I’m doing it this way because she will be in school next year, and if these allergies stick around, she needs to go ahead and settle into being around other people who can eat normally without whining about it or trying to steal their food. Does that make me mean? Maybe. But this may be her life for a while. We have no way of knowing if she’ll outgrow this or not, so I’d rather her be prepared for being different when around other people.

So far, she has adjusted amazingly well! The first week was the hardest. She cried at church when she couldn’t have animal crackers like all the other kids :( Since then, I’ve been better about planning ahead. If we go anywhere that will have food, I try to know in advance what that food will be and take her something similar that she can have. We’ve since successfully gone out to eat, gone on picnics, attended playdates, and we even attended a birthday party with YUMMY cake without her shedding a tear over not being able to have what the others were having. Even tonight, I offered to make mac & cheese for dinner and she told me “I don’t like that. I’m allergic.”  I’m just super impressed by her. She is such a strong and resilient little jewel.

So now is the truly exciting part. We’re a month out from all the dietary changes and we’ve seen major improvement! Her skin looks almost completely normal. Hallelujah!

Day 1

This is her skin at it’s worst. This is when we were just treating her occasionally with steroids. She had patches like this all over – behind both legs, in the folds of both arms, behind her ears, torso, etc. It was horrible. This is right before we started using the magical cream from my last post, which helped tremendously! We started applying that 2-3 times a day, and saw a huge difference in her skin. However, she was still having flare ups because the underlying issue hadn’t been resolved yet.

Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures of her skin when we started the dietary changes – I told you…I was overwhelmed. The first picture I took was on July 13th, and I took it because I was discouraged with her progress:

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Duh. It’s still better than the first picture. And this was also without the help of cream or steroids (I decided to take her completely off of any outside help just to see if the diet was truly helping). However, I was discouraged because with all the extreme changes, I honestly expected all flare ups to stop immediately. That is NOT what happened though, and looking back it was kind of unrealistic for me to expect that. I think her body needed time to heal and get rid of all the stuff that she had been exposed to for months on end. It should also be noted that we discovered the she is also allergic to avocado on this week, so it could’ve been a flare up to that as well.

Here’s when I really started to get excited. July 26th:

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Again, no medicine or cream. This is just her skin being her skin. And this is an absolute miracle because we’ve been fighting her rashes for TWO years. She’s never looked like this without the help of some type of medicine or cream. Unbelievable!

And then we have today’s picture: 



#BOOM. Can y’all believe this? Because I can’t. Again…this is no medicine or cream. This is just her skin healing naturally after having all of the allergens removed! I am amazed and over the moon excited! This is the first time in two years that we’ve had nearly clear skin without the help of anything! I suspect that maybe in another month or so her skin will be completely normal – here’s to hoping! <3

So that’s the update for now. I have similar pictures of her arms and upper torso as well. It’s all healing and looks amazing! Praise be to God!

Magical Cream


Okay. Anyone who knows me, knows that I hate the word cream…so the fact that I’m even typing it here should tell you that this is some special stuff. And it is, so listen up! We have found a magical cream that works on Emrist’s eczema.

Em has been dealing with eczema for almost her entire life. About a year ago, we finally had her tested and received confirmation of what we had suspected for a while – that she was allergic to dogs and cats (we owned a cat at the time). You can read about that journey here and here if you need to catch up.

Even though we removed our cat from the home, and kept Em’s pet dander exposure to a minimum, we continued to struggle with her eczema. In the very beginning, she would have flare-ups whenever exposed to the allergen. Her skin would turn red, itch, and sometimes bleed. We had steroids for whenever it did that, and we just did other things to manage the in-between stages. At some point, though, the flare-ups stopped going away altogether and became her natural state. I’m not really sure when that started…maybe last summer? Regardless, we’ve been dealing with chronic eczema and inflamed skin for a while now.

I’ve always HATED using the steroids, but it seemed like we had no other options. We possibly could have cleared up her eczema patches completely by using the steroids every day, but I simply couldn’t bring myself to put that stuff on her skin every day (you can see all the nasty reasons why by clicking here). We decided to use the steroids on an “as needed” type basis. Basically, anytime her flare-ups would get bad, we’d use it to heal it up, then we’d stop. It would return immediately. This is actually pretty common with steroid usage for eczema – your body becomes dependent on the meds, and you also have to keep being bumped up to a higher strength the more you use them, because your body builds up a tolerance to them.

So…I eventually resigned myself to the fact that my daughter was going to be itchy, scratchy, and completely miserable and that there was nothing I could do about it. That’s a pretty depressing feeling.

Fortunately, winter wasn’t so bad for us because we were able to keep her covered and prevent scratching for most of the season. But then summer came, and it was just too hot to keep her in long sleeves and pants all the time, so she started scratching and tearing at her skin again. Thanks to that, she now looks like she has poison ivy all over her tiny little legs. I’ve gotten so many questions about her skin since summer started that I’ve started to worry that she may hear or pick up on everyone’s comments, and start to feel self-conscious about her skin.

Fortunately, a few weeks ago, a friend of mine mentioned a local product to me that had worked on her son’s skin when he had an allergic reaction to a dog. I’m not going to lie…I was WAY skeptical because we’ve tried so many things and haven’t had success, but I decided to try the product anyways.

I prayed that God would bring us some relief through this product before we even started using it. I’ve been so desperate for something that is natural and safe to use on her skin that actually works, so I got real with Jesus and prayed for some relief for my sweet baby. It appears that he answered my prayer. Check it out.

Day1 vs Day6

Amazing, right?! It’s a simple whip made of organic Shea butter (white) and organic coconut oil. That’s it. They do have some with essential oils in them, but we went with fragrance free for Emrist. The whip is made by a company called Cottage Industry Soap Company (you can click on that for a link to their Facebook page) and is available at the Farmer’s Market at Eastchase in Montgomery, as well as some local shops, like PepperTree. I also have it on good authority that you can message the company on Facebook (if you don’t live locally) and have them mail you some with dry ice (since it’s a whip, it’s fragile during these hot summer months).

So there’s that. The magical cream. I am so over the moon excited about it! Every time I put it on Emrist, she says it feels better and doesn’t itch. I’m so impressed and SO thankful for my friend (hey Bekah!) that told me about it!! I just wanted to share about it here too because I know I have several friends who deal with eczema in their children and don’t feel comfortable using steroids. This may be something you should try!

Also on the allergy front, we are taking Emrist to have a blood allergy test done tomorrow or Monday. Since she has been struggling with eczema so much, in spite of the removal of our cat, we want to be sure she isn’t consuming anything that is causing these flare-ups! We should have more answers soon, and hopefully I’ll find the time to update about them when we get them.

23 Weeks & An Update

Hey there!

Well…it has been a while! Five weeks to be exact. You know how it is though – the struggle is real, y’all.

First things first. As (sort of) predicted in my last post (My Super Honest Thoughts…), Benji and I totally caved at our anatomy ultrasound and found out the gender of Blobert.


Most of you already knew that, but I hadn’t officially blogged about the fact that we were goobers and couldn’t make it through our appointment without finding out. So…there you have it. It was actually decided that we would find out the gender after I made that post saying we were going Team Green.

You see…with Harp and Em, Benji had joked (but I thought he was serious) about not finding out the sex and I was always like NO WAY!!! So when we got pregnant this time, since I had one of each, I figured I would be patient for Benji and let this baby be a surprise. After I made that post though, we talked further about it and realized that neither of us actually wanted to wait! Haha. We’re so dumb!

We decided the night before the ultrasound to find out. We wanted to do something special though, so we decided to find out alone, and to somehow involve the kids. We ended up asking the ultrasound tech to put it in an envelope for us and when we got back to the exam room, we let Harper open it and tell us whether he saw a “B” or a “G” on the picture. We filmed the whole thing, and both kids celebrated getting a new baby sister. It’s something I’ll always cherish. I won’t even admit how many times I’ve watched that video!

I’m really glad we stayed true to ourselves and ruined the surprise. It was lovely having the kids involved, and not just sharing it between the two of us on the delivery date. I just really don’t think it would have been THAT special if we had waited to find out…and I don’t think I would’ve gotten a video either – you know how crazy birth days are!

Anyways…her name will be Mabel Ivy and we’re planning on calling her Mae, although I am trying to convince Benji to let me hyphenate her name and just call her Mabel-Ivy. You know…like a true southern lady. I just absolutely love the meaning of those names. Mabel means beautiful, loving, lovable. And Ivy means faithfulness. Mae is pretty darn cute too though, so I guess I’ll be okay with calling her by either name.

I’m currently 23 weeks and I’m feeling…pregnant. My typical back pain is starting to flare up, which SUCKS because I know I’ll be almost crippled by the time I reach the end. But whatevs. I’m hoping a visit to the chiropractor this summer will help – I’ve never tried that route before. One can dream, right? Other than that, things are pretty great!

Here’s what I spend most of my time doing:

IMG_2895Here’s how I feel on most days:

IMG_2647And here’s my most recent belly shot – this was 21 weeks and some days

FullSizeRender(2)Life is good. I’m tired. Truthfully…I just want to sleep…a lot. But work and Thing 1 and Thing 2 keep me busy constantly.

Actually…that’s another thing I can update about here. The shenanigans of Thing 2. Emrist has decided to potty train herself. Yes. You read that right. After all my postings about waiting until she was three (just like I did with Harper), she got tired of my laziness and just decided to do it herself. I know I should be super pumped about that…and part of me is (hello, less $$$ on diapers!)…but there’s another part of me that’s like WHY NOW?!?!

I don’t know. I just really wanted to wait until after Mae was born because #1 I’m tired and potty training is just one more thing to deal with. And #2 Harper’s pediatrician really drilled it into my head that you don’t potty train children before big life changing events because they will almost always regress.

With that in mind, I’ve had a really hard time committing to this…but Em has remained persistent. She randomly went #2 in the potty the Sunday before last. That’s when it all started. The next day we were at Target buying wipes, and she insisted on buying a princess potty. So we did. I continued to keep her in diapers though because like I said before…I didn’t want to commit. But she kept them dry and would tell me whenever she needed to go.

The big test came this weekend. We went to my mom’s house, and she still continued with potty training even though we were out of our routine and out of town.

I’ve literally done nothing to make this happen. If anything I’ve stood in the way of her progress because I’m an awesome mom. But yesterday, she went in and went #2 without even telling me she was doing it. So I decided that maybe this was the real deal after all, and went ahead and put her in undies today. So far, so good.

Lord have mercy though…do y’all know how messy potty training is when your independent daughter wants to do everything herself and will not let you help? It’s awful!!

IMG_2894She won’t let me do anything! She goes on her own. She empties the potty on her own – yeah…and one time the contents ended up in the floor and I stepped in it when I later walked into the bathroom. Awesome. She wants to wipe herself. And tear the toilet paper by herself. Butttttttttttt….she doesn’t have the skills to do this quite yet, so I half the time, I end up walking into the bathroom to find long streams of toilet paper all over the place. It’s MESSY. But oh well. Maybe in a week or so, she’ll really have it down, and then, if we’re really lucky, she won’t regress when Mae comes. PLEASE JESUS.

So that’s that. Life as we know it. It’s good :)

My Super Honest Thoughts At The Halfway Point

Okay. So technically, I’m not halfway there yet. I’m only 18 weeks. But…we’re just going to pretend that I’m already at the halfway point. I’m tired and I have to blog when I feel like it, not when it’s the right time.

So, here I am today…at 18 weeks. Our anatomy scan is tomorrow. We’re going Team Green with this pregnancy, and won’t be finding out the gender. So far, I haven’t been anxious to know AT ALL. I have a son and a daughter, so I have all I need. There’s just not really any pressure for me to know. However, I think I will struggle at the ultrasound tomorrow simply because the information will be at my fingertips. Benji and I aren’t really great with surprises. In the 11 years that we’ve been together, we’ve never made it to Christmas with Christmas gifts to open for ourselves. As soon as we get the gifts, we cave and let each other open them because we get so excited! So imagine the temptation we will feel tomorrow! If we can make it past the appointment without finding out, I think it’ll be smooth sailing from here on out! Fingers crossed!

This pregnancy has been unbelievably easy on me. Definitely the easiest one I’ve had so far. I’m tired, but that’s about it. I had some mild nausea and aversions in the beginning, but those have all passed now and I feel relatively normal. I’m glad to be eating my favorite veggies again, now that they don’t make me sick! I’m just blown away by how good I’ve felt for the past 18 weeks! I feel blessed for sure.

Hmmm. Cravings? None really. I mean…there’s definitely food that I want, but it changes every day. Bacon. Cake. Veggie soup. Glass bottle cokes. etc. etc. etc. I don’t have anything that I just constantly want every single day.

The most noticeable difference between this pregnancy and my last two has been my hunger level. I am starving about every two hours…no matter what I eat! It drives me insane, and I feel like I always have to have food with me because if I get hungry and nothing is there, I get super sick! Another difference is that I started showing a lot sooner this time. I’ve always heard that the more babies you have, the sooner you “pop”. Well…that has been true for me.

FullSizeRenderThe difference between 10 weeks and 14 weeks. I mean…whoa.

and then 16 weeks:

FullSizeRender(1)I was 23 weeks pregnant with Harper before I had a bump like that. Geez.

Honest moment here. I’ve really been struggling with body image and the idea of gaining weight with this pregnancy. With Harper and Emrist I didn’t really worry about what I gained, but for some reason, it’s always at the forefront of my mind with this pregnancy. I think it’s because I’m so hungry and I’m eating A LOT. I think it also may be because I lost it with ease after Harper came (like literally…40 pounds was gone three days after his birth, and I had only gained 30 lbs!), and then with Emrist it took me FOREVER to lose it. Like, a year and a half. And I had to work a lot harder than I did the first time.

I just keep thinking…how much harder will it be to lose the baby weight after #3 gets here? It seems that with each pregnancy I have, the weight is harder to get off. Maybe it has to do with my thyroid issues, or maybe it’s just my aging body. I don’t know, but I’d be lying if I told any of you it doesn’t bother me. I know it doesn’t really matter in the scope of eternity. A number doesn’t define who I am as a person. I know that stuff in my head, and I know that’s how I should feel…but I’m still struggling with “the number” in this season. That’s just where I’m at right now. Trying to keep it real :)

Sorry for that downer moment.

Let’s see what else. How about my feelings on becoming a mom of three? Well…I have been mostly unphased by the thought of having three children. I keep thinking “Meh…I’ve had two babies…I think I’ve got this mom thing down. I can do it. We’ll just go with the flow, pray, and get through it. It’ll be fine. We’ll be fine.”

^^^^THAT right there scares me though. The fact that I’m not panicking and the fact that I think I can handle three children. Isn’t that generally when one gets kicked in the face by reality….when they least expect it?

That was my experience with Harper anyways. I had heard so many stories about how hard parenthood was, about moms who dealt with PPD, etc. And every single time I heard one of those stories I thought to myself “That won’t happen to me.” I even secretly thought a newborn wouldn’t change our lives very much (LOL!!!!). I was the oldest of four and I had been a babysitter for years. I knew children. How hard could it be?

Oh poor, poor 2010 Ashley. I want to go back in time and slap that silly girl in the head. I think motherhood was especially hard on me after Harper came because I thought I knew everything and was begging to be humbled. Well, I got a large dose of humility in the form of my son. He really shook up our world and I struggled a lot. A LOT. I’m just a little afraid that I’m going to struggle again because I feel so…comfortable in my motherhood now. Does that make sense? I definitely wouldn’t say I’m a know-it-all this time…I just feel at ease, I guess. I’ve been living in Babyland for four years now, so it’s my home and I feel comfortable. Hopefully that fact won’t buy me a good shakin’ from reality ;-)

Okay. So that’s about it for now. See you in another month or so!

Baby, Baby, Baby, Ohhhh!

Everyone loves a good Justin Bieber reference, right? Jk. I know he’s annoying, but I just(in) couldn’t help myself. I needed an awesome baby related title because well…you know…I’m pregnant…with #3. Let’s pause and let that sink in for a minute. Number three. THREE. As in Benji and I will be outnumbered when this one gets here. That’s hella scary. And I know what you’re thinking. You’re rolling your eyes and saying to yourself “Ashley, you do know what causes this, right?!”  And yes…yes, I do know what causes it. BEARDS. Specifically beards worn by hot librarian husbands. Just sayin’!

In all seriousness though, this was unplanned. Again. Not that we didn’t want baby #3. We definitely did. But having just suffered a miscarriage in September, I didn’t think my heart could handle the roller coaster of emotions that come with trying to conceive a baby. With that being the case, Benji and I talked and decided that we would wait for a year before trying again.

And then BOOM! Pregnant. I found out three days after Christmas. I wasn’t even late, but I had this headache that I ONLY get when I’m a few days pregnant. After suffering from this hellish headache for 24 hours, I knew what was wrong. There was a fetus a growin’ in my uterus (said in a really redneck tone). I took a test even though it was way too early for a positive result…but sure enough two lines showed up. I hadn’t even told Benji I was going to test. He walked into the bathroom to find me laughing hysterically, like an insane person. He asked what I was laughing at and smiled when I told him I was pregnant. “Are you happy?” he asked. I think he was afraid that I had finally gone insane. I mean…I *was* in the bathroom completely alone, laughing to myself…and admittedly that’s kind of weird, but I WAS happy. Extremely happy and totally surprised. It was the perfect way to cap off the Christmas holidays.

I spent the next few weeks being really afraid of losing the baby. I’ve had two miscarriages now, and that puts me at a higher risk to have another one in the future. So while I was over the moon excited about our new little life, my excitement was dampered by my fear. It was a constant struggle. By about week seven though, I was tired it. I made a mental choice to start celebrating this baby. Even though I might lose it at some point, I decided to love and celebrate him or her while they were with me. I made my pregnancy public at that point so that people could pray for us, and hold me accountable.


Surprisingly, it worked. Since making my pregnancy public, it has been much easier not to give into the fear. I definitely still have moments, just like any mother, but the moments are much smaller than they were. Now I’m more excited and joyful and I’m rejoicing over this new life! Whoop whoop!!

I had my first appointment on February 12th and everything looked perfect. The heart rate was 170 and measurements were exactly where they should be. We’re calling our baby Blobert for now :)


Say hi!

So far, I’ve felt pretty great. I’ve had some mild nausea, and some very strong aversions, but other than that, I cannot complain. With Harper, I was sick all day, every day, until 20 weeks. It was terrible. With Emrist, I was only really sick for about three weeks, but it was still torture. I seem to remember it going away by week 10 though. With this pregnancy, I haven’t even thrown up! I’m not sure what to think about that. Maybe my body has just built up a tolerance to being pregnant? Who knows, but I am SO grateful. Especially considering that I have two children and I work six days a week. Maybe this is just God’s grace to me <3

Harper and Emrist are both pretty stoked. Harper gets it more than Emrist does, of course, but she seems to understand a bit too. She is really into babies, and told us this weekend that she wanted a little sister. Harper goes back and forth between saying he wants a brother and then saying he wants a sister. Honestly, I think he’ll be happy either way. He just wants a baby!

We won’t know what we’re having until September, as we are going Team Green this time. That’s right. We aren’t finding out the sex until the birthday! At this point, I don’t feel too anxious to know, but I’m wondering if I might be tempted to take a peak during the anatomy scan. I guess we’ll see. It should be in about 5 weeks.

Everyone asks if I have a preference, and truth be told, I do…but it’s not for the reasons you might think. Harper and Emrist have both been wonderful, so I would no doubt be 100% thrilled to have a boy or a girl. I really and truly would! But a part of me kind of hopes for another girl only because this is our last baby, and I think Emrist needs a close sister relationship. Harper has the type of personality that would do just fine without having a brother to be BFFs with – he’s sort of a loner anyways. But sweet Em…she is so relational. She needs that sister bond and when I picture our family a few years down the road, I just see that for her. A little sister to hold hands with and to share secrets with. I guess we will find out in September :)

Okay…that’s it for now. I really can’t believe I finally blogged. It only took 13 weeks! I guess I’ll see you guys again in about 2-3 months. Peace.

The Pensieve, 2014 Edition


I can’t believe it’s already time to do this again. Sheesh. This post will be pretty short. I’m tired (aren’t we all?) and don’t feel like being overly chatty, but I do want to keep my yearly tradition going :) So, I’ll simply post my favorite memories pulled from the jar, and won’t bore you by saying anything further! If you want to see a recap of our 2012 and 2013 memory jars, you can view those here, The Pensieve, and here, The Memory Keeper.

Below is a picture of the ones I chose, and I’ve typed them out as well…you know, so you can actually read them! :)


This was the first year that Harper really understood the memory jar, so he was actually able to add a few memories himself (I’ve been waiting for this moment for forever!). A couple of these are his. Since different people are now contributing, I’ll be putting the contributor’s name after each memory, along with the date.

Okay, here we go!

#1 We were all four in bed together early in the morning. Em wasn’t feeling well, and I was running my fingers through her hair. Harper started rubbing her back, and said “I love you.” Then he looked up at me and said “I love her mom. I love her!” Ashley, 08/16/2014

#2 Harper came into the kitchen at 05:45 AM. He hugged Benji, as he always does, and then told us he had had a bad dream. He said he dreamed he was a giant, and kept trying to cross a bridge, but it would always break under his weight. It’s the first time I’ve ever heard him tell us one of his dreams. Ashley, 11/19/2014

#3 We took Harp & Em to the beach for the first time. We went to Pensacola with the Huggins. The kids LOVED the beach! It was a beautiful day and the water was crystal clear. Harper kept saying “Mom, I love this!” Emrist stayed at the water’s edge for most of the time, playing in the sand. Harper kept trying to hear the ocean in the shells. He also informed me that the water tasted like corn. It was such an incredible day! Ashley, 10/26/2014

#4 Emrist took her first steps today. Daddy didn’t have to work because of the snow, so we were all home. She was pushing Harper’s tricycle and then walked to Mommy. Benji, 01/29/2014

#5 Harper’s first program. Oh my gosh! He was adorable! He was so excited and loved the spotlight! He scanned the crowd for us, and when he finally found us, his eyes did not leave us. He jumped and sang, while staring and waving at us. Emrist shouted “Hey Harper!” at one point. It was so adorable! Ashley, 12/18/2014

#6 Harper and Daddy went to the movie theater in Montgomery to see Harper’s very first movie. It was Despicable Me 2. Harper sat through the whole movie, sometimes in Daddy’s lap, sometimes in his seat. It was a fun time. Benji, 06/13/2014

#7 A firetruck visited my school. I took a picture on it. They taught me how to drive it. I went inside of it. It was so cool! Harper, 10/01/2014

#8 After a long day of flying, we had our soul friend reunion on August 8th. We spent the entire week at Jenn’s. The kids enjoyed each other’s company. We cooked, drank wine, and had good conversation. It was such a wonderful week. I was sad to see it go! Ashley, 08/08/2014 – 08/15/2014

#9 (TMI warning, but it’s just too funny not to share!). Em pooped in the potty for the first time! She came to me and told me she needed to go the bathroom. She said she wanted to use the potty, so we did. She tried really hard, but to no avail. I decided to let her walk around naked. She was playing with a toy Ferris Wheel, and looked adorable, so I decided to snap a picture. Right as the shutter snapped, I realized she wasn’t just standing there to play! I quickly scooped her up an placed her on the potter and she did it. I was so proud! But the best thing is that I got a picture of her almost pooping on the floor.  Ashley, 12/10/2014

^^^^See…I told you. TMI…but this was just three weeks ago, and I still crack up over it on a regular basis! The picture is hilarious, but unfortunately, I’m not one of those moms who can post nakey pictures of her babies on the interwebz…so unless you’re a good friend of mine, you’ll probably never get to see it. Relieved? Or sad?

#10 “It said whooooo!” Harper, in reference to an owl we heard in the woods behind our house, while it was snowing. 01/28/2014

Okay, I lied about not saying anything else. I just wanted to write and say that for me, 2014 will be most remembered as the year Montgomery finally became home to us. We’ve been here for two years, and I finally feel like we have a solid foundation beneath us. This place is home now, which is weird because I never planned on it becoming home. We’ve been blessed with lifelong friends, and a wonderful church family. We’ve made some wonderful memories, especially over the past year, and I can honestly say I wouldn’t mind staying here forever. Who knows if we actually will – that’s up to God! But I’d be happy if we did. So yeah…that’s what 2014 was about for me. Home. I can’t wait to see what 2015 holds for our family.

And lastly, here’s a picture of Harp with the jar.

He was really into it this year! I can’t wait until Emrist is too!



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