Thursday, December 19, 2013

Shepherd's 2nd Month

This month has gone by EXTREMELY fast. That is, in large part, due to all the travels that we've been doing.

Shepherd went on his first airplane adventure to Texas just 2 days after he was a month old. He was a trooper on both the flights there and back. I fed him just before we boarded (non-intentional - I actually meant to feed him at take off), but then he slept through the takeoff. Then I fed him again just before we started landing. We headed back to Kentucky for only 11 days before jumping back on a plane to Texas. We went back for Josh to finish his finals. Lessons I learned regarding airports and airplanes:

  • Apologize in advance to those sitting around you for carrying an infant on board. It builds up some grace in your minute-made relationships with the other passengers when your baby starts uncontrollably screaming. (Thankfully, Shep only cried before take off and after landing when we getting off the plane)
  • Babywearing is illegal according to federal aviation law. The wrap is considered a "belly belt," and they have no good reasoning behind this law (in my opinion). I asked multiple flight attendants and they said that I could "crush my child in case of severe turbulence in take off and landing if I were to protrude forward." I'd rather have my child attached to my chest (since I should be buckled anyway), than have my baby fly out of my arms because we are only allowed to "hold him" in case of such turbulence. The flight attendants are required to ask us to take our baby out of the wrap, but you can say, "no," and it's on you. A couple of times Josh and I had to explain to the flight attendant that we weren't going to take Shep out of the wrap since he was sleeping and it was in the best interest of everyone that he stay in the wrap. As agitating as I am sure it was to the flight attendant, we disagreed with the law and respected that she had to inform us of that law. I will say that buying an extra airplane ticket and putting your baby in an faa approved car seat is the best way to go, but I am not willing to pay for an extra $500 ticket for my baby to sit in his own seat for only take off and landing. The rest of the time I am sure he'd be held by either my husband or me. Okay… end rant. 
  • You don't need the base to your car seat, because you can attach the car seat without it in the car when traveling. It makes it so much easier since the base is cumbersome, and, in our case, didn't fit in the bottom of our stroller. 
  • If someone has a car seat and/or stroller at your destination, LEAVE THAT JUNK BEHIND! The first flight I decided we wanted Shep's very own car seat, then the second go 'round, I was SO glad to only have him, my Moby wrap, and his diaper bag to carry on to the plane. It makes for so much less hassle. 
  • Lastly, dress your baby in major layers. You can never tell if your plane is going to be burning up or freezing cold. At one point we stripped Shep down to his diaper and an hour later we had him fully clothed with multiple layers, wrapped in his blanket, and snuggled up against us. 

Shep has moved up to sleeping 4 1/2 to 5 hours between feedings at night. That is a huge step up from sleeping 2 1/2 to 3 hours between feedings. He slept 6 hours once. I was slap happy the next morning!

Shep is now 9 pounds 1 oz. Sweet thing is in the 1st percentile for his weight according to our pediatrician and WHO charts.  However, he is in the 32nd percentile for his height. He measures 21 1/2 inches long. 

He has started smiling intentionally when we interact with him. I can barely handle his sweet smile - so I may get a little crazy when he starts talking to me. In other words, there will be multiple dance parties. 

Well, here is finally a mini photo shoot of Shep's nursery. I'm no expert on using light in photos, so excuse my photography skills. (:

Atlas Tapestry: Urban Outfitters

Peek-a-boo crib bumper: Ivie Baby on Etsy

Crib: Jenny Lind (However, this particular crib is around 25 years old gifted to us from a friend)

Hot Air Balloon Mobile: CraftSchmaft on Etsy

Rod Pocket Drapes: Ivie Baby on Etsy

Ring Around the Ribbon Rug: Land of Nod

Changing Pad Cover: Ivie Baby on Etsy

Dresser: Craigslist

Elephant Custom Painting: BB Canvas

Boppy Cover: Ivie Baby on Etsy

Glider: Craigslist

Little Homes Coat Hooks: Made by a friend

White Chest of Drawers: Hobby Lobby

And here are some out takes:

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Shepherd's 1st month

This blog is supposed to be about Shepherd James' first month of life (I'll call this section "about Shep"), but I am also going to include my follow up thoughts on being a new mom (I have a lot of thoughts about this, but I'll limit them) and how I recovered from the birth ("about me").

About Shep:

When choosing a name, Josh and I wanted a name that would speak and form an identity throughout our child's life.  We chose the name Shepherd because we want him to be reminded that Jesus is the good shepherd tending, walking, and leading him throughout his life.    But also, we named him Shepherd to encourage him to be a leader who shepherds and cares for others. As we thought about this meaning, we didn't want Shep to forget what it takes to be a good leader. That is where his middle name comes in, James. James actually means "follower." We truly believe to be a strong leader you have to be a good follower. I've always thought the meanings of names were so interesting!

Shep got back up to his birth weight of 6 lbs 13 oz by 2 weeks and has roughly gained an ounce a day since his 2 week check up. He now weighs 7 lbs 12 oz.

Since day one, Shep has been alert, making eye contact, and pushing up with his arms! After a week and a half, he was able to roll from his tummy to his side (not quite to his back).

He has the very sweetest smile I have ever seen in my entire life!!! I am biased, but at least I admit it!

About Me:

I had an incredible recovery after giving birth. This was not what I was expecting at all, even though I knew I was going to be in good hands with the care providers I chose. But seriously y'all, they made ALL THE DIFFERENCE. I was expecting a good waddle-walk to happen for at least 4 weeks and severe cramping from the uterus shrinking. I didn't have to get any stitches and I didn't have much swelling at all. So, my gait was pretty normal, and the cramping was basically non existent. I felt like going for a jog or going on a bicycle ride the same day after having Shep! Okay, maybe not a bicycle ride… but you get the gist that I felt pretty great afterwards.

I gained 38 pounds total in my pregnancy and lost 23 pounds almost immediately after having Shep. Most of it must have been water weight (and the actual baby). As great as that sounds, I realized I gained most of my weight in my legs and behind. I have a solid 15 pounds now to lose to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight. I say that I am not still in maternity clothes, but that is only because I refuse to wear them on a daily basis. I have resorted to wearing sweat pants, yoga pants, and the one pair of jeans that I can squeeze these child bearing hips and thighs in to. I still wear the preggy pants every once in a while, but I just can't justify wearing them a month out every day.

Breastfeeding (BF) has gone well. To all those questions that I get asked on a daily basis:
  • yes, my boobs have tripled in size
  • no, it wasn't easy to get started
  • yes, I am sore
  • no, I don't get engorged (although I did once and it sucked)
  • yes, I feel the "let down"
  • no, the "let down" doesn't feel like "toe-curling pain"
  • yes, he has a good latch 
We've only given Shep two bottles at this point, which he took like a champ, but it only takes 5-7 minutes for him to down all of the milk. Josh has given him both bottles, so it was a special bonding time for them. Most of my bonding time with Shep is spent BF. BF takes around 30 minutes every 2.5 to 3 hours. I would probably get more sleep if I pumped and gave him a bottle for night feedings, but honestly, I am cherishing the moments I have with him. Starting in January, I will have to go back to school spending an average 40-45 hours in Lexington. So I am taking in all the time I can get while he is this little. I'll talk more about this later, but Josh will be the primary care giver, aka "stay at home dad" in the Spring  (He'll also be enrolled full time at seminary - he's just that awesome that he can do both (: )

This is where I get in to some things I've learned in the past month. Some pertain to Shep and his personality specifically, but most are about newborns in general:

  1. The less amount of time spent between getting the dirty diaper off and the new one on = less chance of getting peed on.
  2. I don't even know what "punctuality" means anymore now that I have a baby.
  3. Sleep deprivations makes motherhood twice as hard as it should be.
  4. I might as well sell my blow dryer, straightener, and makeup, because who has time to use those things?
  5. Extra virgin coconut oil gets rid of the redness and most of the bumps from baby acne. It's magical.
  6. Baby mittens are my best friend when BF. Otherwise, sharp fingernails and a firm grasp are my worst enemy. 
  7. You are automatically initiated into baby play-date clubs once you give birth regardless of your baby's ability to actually play. 
  8. Every baby is completely different, especially in the first 2 months. So, it is pointless to compare their weight, size, etc… 
  9. Do not ever tell a mom she has a small baby because she is petite or, way worse, she has a chunky baby because she big or tall. Mainly because it is rude, and also because it's not true. Babies can be uber chunky and grow up to be string-beans and tiny babies can grow to be large and in charge. We just don't know. 
  10. Babies can get away with wearing onesies (the ones that are footed and long sleeved) and not be considered pajamas. 
  11. If you want to build your milk supply in the freezer, start pumping immediately once your milk comes in after every feeding (or just a couple). I didn't do that… and now I'm trying to figure out how to produce more milk. 
  12. Coffee has had no effect on my baby whatsoever, but drink a sip of carbonation and he is gassy for days with an upset stomach. 
  13. Just when you figure out what calms your baby, he decides he likes something else. You bounce him and then discover he likes to be rocked. Next, he just likes to lay on his back…. and so on.
  14. People will ask you if you are getting sleep even when they know you aren't. 
  15. When people come over and comment on my clean house, they don't realize I didn't have time to clean so I threw everything in the next room.
  16. It is okay to put makeup over the makeup from the previous day, because sleep sounded better than washing my face and showering the next day seems impossible. Eyeliner on eyeliner. mascara on mascara. Classy… I know. 
  17. I realized half my wardrobe pre-pregnancy is fitted for a flat belly; therefore, I don't wear half my clothes (for now!).
  18. Sometimes it is worth it to put the wubby (pacifier) back into his mouth every 5 minutes until he falls asleep. He wakes himself up when it falls out… high maintenance. sheesh.
  19. When people give you advice you don't necessarily agree with, nod your head and be friendly. There is no reason to start a war over the best time to transition your baby to his own room. Because when the plan you think you have all set out doesn't work, you might actually find that your friend's technique, method, or advice works for your baby.
  20. Lastly, "taking shifts" or letting my husband watch my baby after I feed him while I take a nap is the best gift he can give me for my sanity. Motherhood is hard and it is okay to share the joys and responsibility that come with it!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Shepherd's Birth Story

Shepherd's Birth, a set on Flickr.

***Photos taken by Kat Marcum Photography

With a 45 hour 33 minute labor, it can only be expected for this blog entry to be extra long as to include all the details leading up to the most incredible moment of my life - the moment when Shepherd James Hurst was born. So I'll just apologize now for the length...

It all began when I started feeling cramping twinges the morning of October 17th, the day after my due date. I felt these in my theology of healing class I have been auditing this semester from Asbury Theological Seminary. I had walked the mile to the seminary, so Josh raced home on his bike to get the car for me. The cramps slowly increased in intensity, but nothing too serious. They were not to the point of timing the intervals between them. I wasn’t even sure if they were real contractions or Braxton Hicks contractions.

We went to Panera Bread for a brunch and we decided to call our parents to let them know how I was doing. Although I thought they would wait a day or so, they all immediately got on the road and my mom caught the next flight out of Midland, TX.

Later that afternoon we went to our 40-week prenatal appointment at WomanKind Midwives as scheduled. Kendra Giffin, our nurse, immediately confirmed that I was experiencing real contractions when she said she would need to wait until after the contraction to use the Doppler and hear the heart beat of the baby. At this point, I am in tears, because I had woken up that morning in a really sad state. I felt as if I was going to be pregnant for at least another week or so, which feels like a lifetime at the end of pregnancy. I actually read John 16 that morning, and ironically Jesus uses the imagery of a woman’s sorrow turning into joy as she labors then births a new life.

At my appointment Melissa Courtney, our midwife, said I was 2cm dilated and 90% effaced. We asked her to strip my membranes to get things going a little faster. She informed us this may make the contractions increase in frequency, but it might not make the labor process any faster. She was definitely right about my contractions getting increasing in frequency! Immediately afterwards, I started feeling the difference it had made.

This is when “prodromal labor” started - around 3pm.  From what I’ve read and understand, this is supposed to be prelabor with regular or irregular contractions that aren’t so bad. Well, these contractions lasted well throughout the afternoon and into the evening and they were intensifying with time. They were consistently getting closer and closer together. We laughed and cried in all the excitement. Josh told me to do whatever I needed to do to relax so, being a girl, I put on Forest Gump, started blogging, Facebooking, and texting all at the same time. Eventually, Josh took one thing away at a time so that we could focus on the contractions. The Marcum family, Manual family, and Jeff and Anne Corey all came over at separate times to pray over us and the Manuals anointed us with oil. It was really special to have our close community support us through the pregnancy and now during labor.   I don’t think we would have made it without a loving community around us.

After they all left and after the TV, my computer, and phone were all off, I was getting to the point where I couldn’t talk or move through my contractions. This went on for a couple hours. Since Josh was an avid contractions timer, he was convinced at midnight we needed to go to the hospital because my contractions were consistently 3 ½ to 4 minutes apart for an hour. My mom arrived just before Josh basically pushed me into the car. I didn’t quite feel that it was time to go, but he and my mom insisted!

We arrived at the hospital with our friend Kat and Ryan following closely behind. All 5 of us were laughing and I was describing my contractions as feeling like "really out of control gas cramps." The nurse checked me in and had me rate my contractions on a scale of one to ten. She said, “one being mild, 4 being a grimace, and 10 being your boob in a meat grinder.” (<< we laughed about that one for a while.) I rated my contractions a 4. She did a vaginal exam and said I hadn’t progressed from 2cm and 80-90% effaced. She basically told me to go home and not come back until my contractions felt like my boob was in a meat grinder.

Disappointed, I dressed and made the trip all the way back to Wilmore. I really felt like I was never going to meet my son or daughter. It was around 2:30am when we crawled into our bed to try and sleep through the night. However, I didn’t sleep at all. My contractions slowed to 10 minutes a part once I laid down, but they were too intense to handle on my back. So I would start to drift off and then the contraction would start and I would have to flip on to all fours. At 7am, the 18th, the contractions started to get closer together again around 5 minutes apart.

This prodromal labor just kept going on and on. I just labored at home on the birthing ball all day long. I don’t recall much during this time except monotony through painful contractions and complete exhaustion. Even though Josh was doing a great job of getting me to drink water between each contraction (You’d be proud, Kristin Abboud!), I ended up vomiting a couple of times, which caused me to be dehydrated.  The lack of fluids and lack of sleep made my early, prodromal labor contractions feel like active labor contractions in intensity.  I watched some more movies during the day and tried to nap in between my contractions. Finally around 4pm I gave Melissa a call and told her what was going on. She told me to meet her up at the clinic so she could check things out.

As we rolled into WomanKind Midwives clinic, Josh’s parents and sister pulled up as well after their 21 hour drive. We headed inside and Melissa, to my dismay, to said I was still 2 cm, “but a loose 2!” I am pretty sure she just said this to make me feel better – thank you Melissa. She then gave us a few options. She said I was probably dehydrated due to the vomiting and needed to get an IV up at the hospital, but I could go home and try to rehydrate myself. She also said I could take Ambien either at home or at the hospital, but it was vital I got some sleep in order to achieve natural child birth. We opted to go to the hospital. Originally I was anti-IV and all things needle-like, but I decided this was a little H20 in my veins and this was going only going to aid our birthing plan – not inhibit it at all.

We checked in around 6pm. The nurses got me hooked up to the IV and gave me Ambien, and I was asleep by 6:30pm. I slept until 2am pretty heavily. Josh stayed up and only got around 2 hours of sleep, because he was monitoring me. He said I would moan through my contractions every 7 or so minutes, but they didn’t wake me up. This was a blessing to get some sleep. Our families were all sleep deprived from the exhausting over-night drives they had just had, and we just all needed sleep before baby Hurst came in to the world.

At 2am, I woke up and active labor had settled itself right on in there. I was fully up and walking between the contractions and completely paralyzed when one would strike. I would feel it coming on so I would get over to the birthing ball and someone would always slide a pillow underneath my knees. We had THE BEST NURSE EVER during this time. Her name was Rachel, and she was a professional masseuse before she became a l&d nurse. She was just so invested and compassionate when I would have a contraction. She pressed and massaged my back just right to alleviate some pain. We didn’t get to see her after birth because her shift ended, but I just want to give her a huge hug and thank her for all she did for both Josh and me throughout the night.

Josh kept the giving me sips of water between contractions, and by 7am my mom and Kat Marcum, my friend and photographer, showed up. Kendra Adkisson, the other midwife at WomanKind Midwifery, came in to check on me and see how far I'd progressed. She said I was 6cm and that she'd be delivering baby Hurst since she was on call that weekend. She said she would come back later when I had progressed a little further. Through my contraction Josh would put pressure on either side of my hips or just press straight down on my lower back to alleviate pain. I ended up vomiting a few more times, but we kept up the water intake. My mom was right there holding the bag and wiping my face after each time I vomitted. I was incredibly proud of her, because she has THE highest gag reflex of anyone I know. But she never even flinched during this time.

“Transition” hit around 10:30am, and this has to have been the hardest part of the entire labor for me. The contractions were to the point of “feeling like my boob was in a meat grinder.” They would sometimes double in intensity, and each contraction was about 2 minutes in length. Everything in me wanted to surrender and give in.  I remember during two contractions thinking, “my God, I am NEVER going to make it through this.” “I just can’t do this any more.” I said similar things to Josh, and we both knew these were the emotions and indicators that birth (pushing phase) was near according to what we had learned in our Bradley Method class. The Bradley Method teaches that surrender is a vital aspect of the birthing process.  Josh and I thought it was cool that the natural process of birth, which God created, includes an element of surrender.

I remember also yelling during one of my last contractions during “transition,” “where is Kendra?! Why isn’t she here yet?!” Kendra came and checked on me earlier that morning to let me know she would be the midwife delivery baby Hurst, not Melissa since she had just delivered another baby and Kendra was on call. We had already built up a relationship with Kendra and were completely confident in her anyway.

As soon as I yelled this, Kendra literally came through the door seconds later. I remember having a few more contractions on the birthing ball then getting up on the bed. Kendra was going to check the heart beat of the baby with me on my back, but having the contraction on my back UNBEARABLE. I seriously don’t know how women give birth on their backs, but then again I had back labor the entire time.

About 11:45am, the pushing began. My contractions were spread pretty far apart and irregular every 5 or minutes, but I knew baby Hurst was coming. I remember between the first and second pushing looking over at the door and seeing several shadows of pairs of feet. My mom told me both my in laws, sister-in-law, and dad were outside the door lifting me up in prayer. Kendra asked if I wanted her to break my water, and I did. Anything to aid in finishing this marathon. She flipped me over between the first and second time I pushed and broke my water with a crochet-like hook. A bunch of meconium came out with the water, so she called in the NICU nursing team to suction out baby Hurst’s lungs whenever he or she came out.  But I never even knew there was an entire team in there. I was so focused. When my contraction started I couldn’t get enough strength to get back on all fours, so Josh basically picked me up and turned me around.

Another contraction came, so I dug deep and really listened to the worship song that was playing – Healer by Hillsong United. The words, “I believe, you’re more than enough for me. Jesus you’re all I need,” stuck in my head.  I started praying these words between and during the pushing. On all fours I waited for the contractions then pushed down almost in child’s pose. Kendra raised the bed and I tried to position my head down farther with my hips up in the air.

The contraction came and I pushed 3-4 times. I literally felt the crowning of baby Hurst. Kendra, my mom, and Josh were encouraging me, “good job,” “wow,” “one more!!!” But my contraction ended and I didn’t have it in me to push one more. Kendra said normally the head will crown and just go back a little bit, but the baby went all the way back inside out of eye shot. If I had pushed once more, Baby Hurst would have been out.  Kendra told me later that the pushing phase could have easily lasted 30 more minutes because the baby’s head went all the way back in.

Right then, between contractions (that were about to be my last) I propped up on my elbows and lifted my palms up and just prayed, “I surrender, Jesus. I’ll let you take this next one. I can’t do it without you.” The contraction came again.

I pushed.

I pushed 3-4 times. The cord was around his neck, but Kendra handled that like a champ and simply brought it around his head as everyone else held their breath (This is Josh’s memory).

Then I pushed one more time after every one in the room cheered me on. Then I heard baby Hurst’s cry. I heard Josh say, ”It’s a boy!!” Josh was able to catch the baby with Kendra. He passed the baby through my legs and in that moment I couldn’t do anything, but have a huge smile on my face and stare at him. I had no idea they were all trying to hurry, cut the cord, and get him over to the NICU nurses. Finally I released him and let Josh cut the cord. The nurses suctioned his lungs out and got him right back to me after I delivered the placenta.

It was the happiest moment of my life. The inexplicable amount of joy to hold my first born was over powering. Delivering him naturally was the best decision I could have ever made. I was 100% cognitively aware of the happenings throughout the labor and I allowed my body to do it's job in all of it. I always said I would have been happy with either a girl or a boy, but knowing that our son, Shepherd, will shepherd the rest of his younger siblings makes my heart warm.  

Shepherd James Hurst was born at 12:33pm weighing 6 pounds 13 ounces and measuring 18 ½ inches long. His head measured 13 ½ inches and his chest measured 12 ½ inches. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Maternity Photos

All of these photos were taken by Kat Marcum Photography. We could not be happier with Kat capturing such a sweet time just before our son entered into this world. These were taken just between 37 and 38 weeks of my pregnancy just as the sun was coming up in the morning around 7am. The fog was thick, but Kat worked with it and turned them into awesome memories!

Visit her website at or click here for her Facebook page.