Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

This time last year, we were spending a week in Georgia, house-hunting in a small town that felt so big and unfamiliar and scary.  I couldn't imagine picking up and moving to this new place, a place that felt nothing like home.

But, I knew we needed a fresh start.  We'd been through a tough year, lots of trials and tribulations and joy - yes, there was joy - but so much worry and heartbreak.  T and I both wanted, needed a change of pace, a change of scenery.  And picking up and moving to a new state was how we were going to wipe our slates clean.

And now, here we are - in a town that is home.  In a house that I love.  With T working a job he so enjoys, and working hard so that I can fulfill my current dream of being a stay-at-home mom.  And oh the friends I've made here - friends who have welcomed me with open arms, friends who are already family.  Friends who I never knew I missed until I met them.

This time last year, we were waiting for results from my repeat loss bloodwork, results that we hoped would tell us why we'd had to say goodbye to another baby, another beating heart.  And if you told me this time last year that this time this year I'd spend the afternoon napping with my Everette asleep on my chest, I may not have believed you.

You see, I'm great at being thankful during the good times, during the times when the blessings are obvious and plentiful.  But I have a hard time being thankful at all times... I have a hard time realizing the blessings are always plentiful.  I tried so hard to stay faithful and hopeful during the trials and tribulations we faced, but I cannot lie and say it came easily.  There were many dark days, many days that I didn't understand, asked questions, and was not gracious or grateful.

And now?  Now I look at my sweet Everette, my miracle, my fighter, my Rocky - and I cannot imagine my life without him.  And I realize that had we not traveled through all of those trials, those tribulations - we wouldn't have this little boy.  We wouldn't have him, without Him.

T and I had a quiet Thanksgiving today, just the two of us and our two children.  And we had many moments where we locked eyes and smiled and understood the unspoken.

We are so lucky, so blessed, so thankful.

We've also talked a lot today about how it all seems too good to be true.  How do we get to live this life?  What did we do to deserve this?

It's very humbling, looking into the eyes of my daughter and my son, and realizing that I get to be their mom.

And I will never, ever take that for granted.

So today, I am thankful.  And tomorrow, I will continue to be thankful.  Because I'm realizing now more than ever that a faithful heart is not just thankful on Thanksgiving, but always. <3

Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Big Sister

We were so excited to see her, our girl, our Cameron Kate.  We had been soaking up our sweet little Everette, but man we missed our daughter.

When she got to the hospital, I immediately left my hospital bed and quickly went into the hallway, scooping her up in my arms.  "Did the baby come out of your tummy?!"  She asked.  "Yes!"  I said.  

"Then why is your tummy still big?"

Oh, the things that come out of a three-year-old's mouth. :)

We brought her into the room, where her little brother was lying in the bassinet, asleep.

"Do you know who that is?  That's your little brother," we said.

"Evewette?"  she asked.

"Yes, that's Everette."

She immediately opened up the gift she'd picked out for her brother, a stuffed zebra.  She excitedly put the zebra in the bassinet, right beside him.  She stared at Everette, breathing him in and curiously staring at ever inch of him.

"Do you want to hold him?"  we asked.

"Not yet."  she said.  "Maybe in a little bit."

So we left Everette in the bassinet for awhile, talking to her about what she'd been doing with her aunt and grandparents and cousin.  Then we gave her a gift from Everette - a movie, a ring pop, and her very own baby, Charlie (the name we'd picked out if Everette would've been a girl).

After the other family members had come in to say hi, they left us for a bit to explore our new dynamic as a family of four.  I asked Cameron Kate if she wanted me to get Everette out of his bassinet, to which she replied, with a little nervousness, "Yes."

I laid him on my bed and invited her to climb up there with us so she could continue to breathe him in.

She was so sweet, so nervous.  My heart ached a little for her, because I knew we were rocking her world.  I already missed her and our old life as just mama and daughter.  But I knew in my heart she was going to fall in love with him, and fall in love with him hard, just like we had.

And it wasn't long before she took that fall.

And just like that, three became four.

We spent about two hours together, just the four of us, in that hospital room.  It was a very special two hours, a beautiful two hours, two hours that I will cherish and hold in my heart forever and always... I made sure to pause and relish in the little moments, the moments that solidified that our little family was complete, and that everything was going to be okay.  That our life was going to be beautiful.

When it was time for her to go, we gave tight squeeze hugs and told her we'd be home tomorrow.  She left with a skip in her step and new shoes to fill:  big sister.

The next day, we told our little buddy to rest up, because he would never be in such a peaceful and quiet environment again.  It was time to learn how to do this family of four thing within the walls of our own home.

I nervously packed up all of our belongings, and we said goodbye to the safety net of our tiny hospital room.

We drove home, and my heart raced in anticipation of pulling up to our house... it was all about to feel so real.

The first thing she did when we got home?  Handed her little brother her most prized possession... her Ellie.  T and I looked at each other and didn't have to say a word.  We just smiled.

And without skipping a beat, our Cameron Kate dove headfirst into her new role as big sister.

It is the most genuine, most beautiful love I have ever seen.  Unconditional.  Unprompted.  Perfect.

She wants to help do anything and everything when it comes to her little brother.

And if I ask if she wants to go do something just the two of us, the answer is always no.  "I want Evewette to come, too."

But my most favorite moments are when I walk out of the room, and come back to see something like this.

Which happens all the time.  In fact, as much as she loves on him when we're in the room, I believe the sweetest moments between this big sister and little brother happen when no one else is around.

I am so proud of my girl.  She has exceeded all of my hopes and dreams of what things would be like when we brought a baby into her world.  There is no love quite like that of a sibling, and I am so honored that I get to witness it between my daughter and my son, day in and day out.

Cameron Kate, you are such an amazing big sister already.  I know this new addition to our family has completely changed our lives, but you have jumped right into your new role without looking back.  I can already tell that you would do any and everything for your little brother, and I can promise you he'll feel the same way.  The way you look at Everette brings me so much joy, and he is incredibly lucky to have you to look up to, my girl.  

My sweet CK.  My big girl, the big sister. <3
Shirt by Goat & Lulu

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

He's Here.

Last Picture as a Family of 3

It's so surreal going to bed and knowing you're going to have a baby the next day.  The night before my induction, I didn't sleep... at all.  Maybe a combined 2-3 hours?  When my alarm went off at 4:50am, my stomach was full of butterflies.

The day had finally come.

We got to the hospital at 6:30am... it was so weird just showing up at the hospital and walking in like, "Hi, we're here to have a baby."  I was very nervous - never nervous about the actual labor and delivery, just nervous about whether or not the baby and I would be okay.

I changed into my gown and settled into the hospital bed.  I was immediately poked and prodded to check my platelets since I'd stopped my blood thinner injections the morning before.  The doctor came in and checked my progress - 1cm, which is what I had been at my 39-week checkup two days earlier.  They started some cervix softening meds, and said they'd come back in four hours or so to see if things were progressing.  So, we waited.  I tried to sleep, but was too anxious and started having cramps and contractions that were just uncomfortable enough that I couldn't fall asleep.  So, we waited.  I tried to catch up on my celebrity gossip magazines, and browse Facebook and Instagram, and read some blogs - but mostly I just kept watching the clock, saying prayers, trying to stay calm.  And we waited.

And then, there was a knock on the door.  I saw someone trying to peek into the room and thought, "Well obviously that person is in the wrong place."  And then the door opened, and I saw her - my (co-) best friend, my big sister.  My Lu.  Who had driven 6 hours the day before with her family of 5 to surprise me and be there for Rocky's birth.  I was so shocked and touched and immediately cried in her arms, repeating, "What are you doing here?!  What are you doing here?!"  Seeing her walk into that room is a moment I will never forget, and I immediately felt more at peace knowing she was there with me. <3

After a bit she left to go back to her three kiddos at the hotel, and we continued to wait.  The doctor finally came back to check my progress and I was 3cm.  The first round of meds had worked!  I have to admit I was relieved, as I'd been worried that my body wouldn't respond to the induction.  So far, so good.  We decided to start the pitocen to really get the party started.  My OB and I opted to wait on breaking my water, so that the pitocen could help my body ease into true labor.  Shortly after the pitocen, the contractions started getting pretty regular, increasing in intensity.  I knew that getting an epidural too soon could slow down my progress... so while I wasn't trying to be superwoman, I had decided that as long as I could handle the contractions, I would wait on the pain meds.

So... we waited.

My mom and stepdad got there soon after the pitocen and, again, I immediately felt more at ease with them in the room.  We talked, I breathed through contractions, we watched tv, I breathed through contractions.  

I then had another surprise visitor - my friend Amanda!  I was totally shocked when she walked in the door with the biggest smile on her face, telling me she just couldn't stay away.  Amanda is the type of person who comes into your life, instantly making it better and you better for knowing her... I met her ten months ago and feel like we've been friends our whole lives.  And again, having her presence there in that room meant the world to me.

My sister returned with her three kiddos in tow, and the delivery room became pretty busy pretty quickly.  I loved it!  It distracted me from my nerves, from the pain of the labor, from the reality of what was about to happen.  But then we got in trouble, because apparently I missed the memo where kids under 12 weren't allowed in the delivery room unless they were siblings.  So, the Lutons unfortunately had to relocate to the waiting room.

Finally, at about 5:00pm, they checked me again.  5cm!  I was glad to have made progress, but based on the contractions, I had hoped I'd be a little further along.  My doctor had told me, though, that during an induction it's usually slow to get to 5cm, and then it tends to go quickly from there.

And FYI, we had opted to keep CK at home with my sister-in-law and mother-in-law all day on Wednesday.  We did this for a few reasons... We weren't sure how long the process would take and didn't want her sitting around the hospital for hours.  Also, we wanted to make sure "Rocky" and I were both okay before we brought her around.  And lastly, we felt this baby deserved to be the center of our universe on his/her birthday - we wanted Wednesday to be all about him/her. :)  I am so incredibly thankful to have had CK in such good care.  We received a lot of pictures of our girl throughout the day, and I knew she was in the best possible hands.

So, my doctor decided it was time to break my water and call in the epidural.  She said as soon as she broke my water, things were going to get really painful, really quickly.  And she wasn't kidding.  Within 10 minutes of my water breaking, things got REAL.  Luckily the anesthesiologist was right behind her.  The epidural was in at about 5:45pm, but it took a solid 30 minutes to take full effect and whew, it was intense!

All was well... and then it wasn't.  The nurse came in with a concerned look on her face and told me we needed to get me on oxygen and change positions asap.  The baby's heart rate had dropped from the 140s to the 80s.  I knew that wasn't good.  And then, all of a sudden, I felt so weird.  And nauseous - oooooh the nausea.  I had an oxygen mask on and a throw-up bag and I was so scared for our baby.  At this point it was just T and me in the room - he was by my side, squeezing my hand and assuring me everything would be okay.  They pumped some Zofran into my IV which worked quickly, thank goodness.  So the nausea subsided and with a few positions changes the baby's heart rate came back up.  Of course, I then wept from the worry that had gripped my heart during those tense minutes... it was exactly what I had been fearful of during the weeks that led up to the birth - so scared that something would still go wrong.

The doctor came in and checked me again, and I was 7cm.  Good progress!  I finally felt well enough to have some of our family come back into the room... my hub's mom and stepdad brought dinner so everyone ate and hung out in the room and I basically just focused on my ice chips and the baby's heart rate on the monitor.  I guess there was a change in the heart rate again, because the nurse busted up the McDonalds party and said she needed to check me because the baby seemed to be distressed again.


So a little after 9:00pm, T stuck his head outside of our door and said to our anxiously awaiting family:  "It's go time."

All of a sudden, I was completely overcome with nerves.  Literally shaking in fear and anticipation.  And the nausea came back.  And I was the most thirsty I had ever been in my whole life.  It was all so weird.  With another throw-up bag in tow, I was given a second dose of Zofran to curb the nausea.  It completely caught me off guard... how nervous I was.  T held my hand and I just kept telling him, "I'm so scared."  Again, I wasn't scared of the pushing or the delivery, I just wanted our baby to be okay.

The nurse paged our doctor to tell her it was time and got the room "delivery-ready."  This meant breaking down the bed, turning on these huge ceiling spotlights, and setting up a mirror (my request).

Then, the nurse said we should try a practice push while we waited for Dr. T.  It's funny, trying to push when the entire bottom half of your body is completely numb.  I literally couldn't feel a thing.  But, one practice push and the nurse said, "Ok STOP!  The baby is right here.  We gotta get the doctor here quick or I'm going to be delivering this baby without her."

"Did you see hair?!"  I asked.

"I did!"  She said.

Finally Dr. T showed up and it really was go-time.  I pushed three times through a contraction, and the head was almost out.  And yes, I watched it all in the mirror and y'all - it was probably the coolest experience of my entire life.  So once the head was almost out, the heart rate started dropping, and it started dropping fast.  In the 70s and 80s.  The doctor said maybe the baby was just behind the pelvic bone, but I could see the look of concern on both her and the nurse's face.

"Ok," Dr. T said, "We can't wait for the next contraction.  We need to get this baby out now.  Push."

So that's what I did.  I pushed with all my might, closing my eyes from the effort but also trying to peek in the mirror and watch my progress.  I could see the baby coming, which motivated me to keep the push going, even though I had no breath.  But I didn't care, I knew that for the baby's sake, I had to keep pushing and not stop, and that was all the motivation I needed.  I couldn't feel any pain, but I could feel pressure mounting and knew I was almost done.  All of a sudden, I felt the relief of pressure and looked up and immediately saw all I needed to see.  I looked over at T, and by the light in his eye I knew he'd seen it, too...

IT'S A BOY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We both exclaimed simultaneously.

We were both so shocked, so excited.

It literally felt like a dream.

They immediately put him on my chest, a moment I had always wanted to experience.  I remember thinking he was so warm, and so, so perfect.  "Hey buddy, hey buddy" was all I could muster as I was lying there in total disbelief while T cut the cord...

We had a son.

I have never, ever in my life seen my husband so overjoyed.  Of course he was happy when CK was born, and was completely taken over by his emotions when we had her.  But now, he was in total disbelief that he had a son - he honestly didn't think he'd ever have a little boy, and I could see so many dreams coming true just by the look in his eyes.

I held my little boy for awhile, then they took him to clean him up and get his stats.

Everette Lawrence Peele
Named after his great-grandfather, Lawrence Everette.
And his daddy and PaPa, who are both Terry Everette.
20.5" long, 9lbs 15oz.
Born at 9:41pm on Wednesday, November 5th, 2014  

One more ounce and he would've been in double-digits!  And he was a week early!!

I looked over at T and he was texting.  "What in the world are you doing?!"  I asked.  

"I have to tell my dad, he has to be the first to know." he replied. :)

They finally gave me my baby back, my little boy, my son.  We did skin-to-skin for awhile, and T and I just kept looking at each other -- we didn't have to speak, we knew exactly what the other was thinking.

I was able to nurse for a bit, and T went to the waiting room to announce the news to our waiting families.  When he came back into the room, he finally scooped up his little guy and stared at him, so proud... "Hey son!  Hey son!" he kept repeating.

We welcomed family into the room and watched them all fall in love with our boy.  

Once everyone had gotten in their hugs and kisses, it was just me, my hub, and our son.  

They took Everette to the nursery to clean him up and keep an eye on him for a little while, and T refused to be anywhere but by his side. He stayed in the nursery the entire time, making sure E was okay and well taken care of.  Meanwhile they were tending to me and my battle wounds, and trying to get some of my postpartum bleeding under control.  They were forced to continue the pitocen for a little while to try to keep my uterus contracting to cut off the extra blood loss that seemed to be occurring.  So, we ended up having to hang out in the delivery room for quite awhile before we moved into our actual hospital room.

Sometime after midnight, we were relocated to a room where we continued to stare at each other in disbelief.  Y'all, we were so happy.  I can't even put it into words.  It was like every single worry, hardship, tear, disappointment, heartbreak of the past two years came together and told the story of how we met our son, our Everette.  Of how our family was completed.  Of how 3 became 4 and how we knew we've been through all we've been through because God knew we needed this baby, this child, this perfect miracle.

And let me tell you, a miracle he is.

You see, when he was born there was an audible gasp from both the doctor and nurse.

"A complete knot in the umbilical cord... wow."  I heard someone say.

We're not sure when it happened, but Everette's umbilical cord was tied in a complete and very tight knot.

One look at the doctor's face told us this could have and in most cases would have had a much different ending.

"This happens in about 1 out of every 2,000 births."

That's what they told us.

That is why, they said, his heart rate kept dropping.

That is why he is our "Rocky," our fighter, our gift from God, our miracle.  A little guy I am already so proud to call my son.

I can't think too much about that umbilical cord, or the implications of what could-have-been... but I can thank YOU for the prayers because there is no doubt that God had his hand in making sure that Everette is here, and that he is okay.

"For this child, I prayed..." (1 Samuel 27)


On November 5th at 9:41pm, my whole world changed.  My heart met the piece it has been missing, our family of 3 became 4, my husband met his son, my sweet CK became a big sister...

Everette Lawrence, we've been waiting a long time to meet you, and you've been worth the wait.  I love you so much, buddy, and it is already a joy and privilege being your mama.  You are an answered prayer, an absolute dream come true, a gift from above.  God has big plans for you, my boy, and I can't wait to watch life unfold through your eyes. <3