Monday, September 1, 2014

maternity leave.

what a blessed 3 months of life. leaving APU for maternity leave, i had no clue exactly what the next couple months would look like. they were full of rest (well, the first two weeks before raegan came were) and loads of love.

the first two weeks, i was able to have a lot of nesting + solo time. it was exactly what i needed. i rested, walked a ton, took about every measure possible to meet tiny baby harps but mostly soaked up time just being 'me + trav'. being 6 days late made me learn patience, something the Lord knew i would need in motherhood.

then raegan hope arrived. june 17. a day i will never forget.

i remember people saying, you will never know a love like this. it's SO true. not only a love like what i've experienced with raegan, but a new + deeper love for my sexy husband + God. through the last couple months, i could not have done any of this without those two.

raegan, i'm crying writing this now. you are my little best friend. someone who i am so madly in love with. i can't imagine not being with you all day, everyday. thank you for coming into my life, allowing me to be your mama, giving me grace when i mess up, love + pointing me more towards Jesus. i have never known a love like you. i'm absolutely devastated to be leaving you 32 hours a week but know that our time together will be more rich + intentional. thanks for lighting up mine + your pops world. we are changed for the best because of you.

trav, i didn't think i could love you any more + then it happened. seeing you become a dad is the sweetest, most precious thing i could have ever asked for. the way you love rae melts me. i mean, i am liquid on the floor! you love her so big + love me big too! through this experience, i know we can make it through anything. the middle of the nights, the sleeplessness, the bonding, the joys, the richness in knowing raegan is our gift from the Lord. all of this has been priceless. thank you for creating new memories for our family. the first two weeks we had home with you were the best. me + raegan will miss visiting your office, lunch breaks + early morning snuggles. but the best is yet to come. i look forward to watching you grow more as a pops, teaching her how to crawl, walk + run, taking her on her first date, teaching her about Jesus + sports, and mostly, loving her unconditionally + being an earthly example of how our sweet Jesus loves us.

God, you have been so good to our little family. last year, at this exact time, i was in the trenches. walking through the miscarriage was the worst thing ever but you brought us through which has made us not take any of this for granted. you brought us joy for mourning + peace for misunderstanding. thank you for your goodness, your faithfulness in all things. and thank you for the best gift, raegan. she has warmed + filled our hearts to the brim. you know this kind of love because it's why you died for us.

thankful to be returning to a work that puts God first + will give me grace when i cry the whole first week back. see you tuesday am APU admissions!


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

raegan hope

it all started Monday, June 9. I went into our OB, tamayo, to my 39 week and 5 day appointment. I was dilated at a 3 + feeling great. we decided tamayo should strip my membranes. so she did. it didn't hurt as bad as I heard it would. I also didn't feel that much change. my best friend whitney also had her membranes stripped that same day (we were due 3 days apart. i highly recommend being pregnant with your bestie). we were texting all day about how we were feeling. her contractions picked up quick - mine didn't. she told me around 11 that night that she was headed to the hospital! I couldn't believe it! I woke up to texts that she had him! ahhh! so exciting! okay, now it's game time!

in the week leading up until TBH arrived, I did everything I could! walk the rose bowl, check. sex,
check. primrose oil pills, check. raspberry tea, check. nipple stimulation, check. spicy foods (yes I ate flaming hot Cheetos thanks to the advice of two dudes from church lol - worst decision ever), check. and still nothing.

the following Monday, June 16, I went to see tamayo again. now I was dilated at a 4 (yes! progress was being made)! we asked her all our options. she told us the days that week that she was off + she wasn't the OB on call that weekend either. it meant more to us to have her there then going into it naturally (especially since I was 5 days late too), that we decided unless the baby comes tonight, we will have her break my water in the morning.

for the rest of the day + night, I felt fine. not too many more contractions.

trav + I went on a date night to Houston's. we chatted + laughed as we reflected on the last ten months + talked about what we were looking forward to! we crawled into bed later that night + prayed. we knew the next day, our lives would forever be different! bring it on.

 trav had a go pro set up in the car to capture the chaos of going to the hospital while in labor. since I was dilated at a 4 + not in any pain, we just interviewed each other on the drive in. we didn't have the "holy crap my water broke, let's get our asses to the hospital" moment. this was just what The Lord has intended for us though.

so we arrived to the hospital at 5:15am on June 17. we checked in +they didn't have us on file. they told us to sit in waiting room. we started to grow anxious, maybe we weren't supposed to be doing this?!! 2 minutes later, they checked us into triage.

triage was mellow. ivy, our sweet nurse took my vitals. we were just waiting there for a while. we kept
looking at each other feeling doubtful. "should we do this?!" then after 45 minutes, in walks tamayo! she always brings such peace. she was like: 
"good morning dear! how are we?!" 
"doing good!" 
"great! we are 6 days late right?!" 
"okay, let's get this party started!
GAME ONNN! I needed her to fire me up + she sure did!

we got admitted around 7am. she broke my water at 7:15 ish. it was the craziest feeling! I was obviously laying in the bed + it was like a river flowing! lol but seriously! (our ultrasound tech told me I had a lot
of amniotic fluid + that when my water breaks - it will be like the movies! it sure was like the movies! i guess 10-20 is normal. i had 27 liters! LOL)

during this time, I was feeling great! making besties with the while hospital staff, jamming out to our tiny baby harps playlist, watched trav hang up our "baby harps" banner + eating ice chips, texting away!

my parents + sister showed a little after this. they brought trav coffee + tons of snacks. it was so good knowing they were here + Travs fam was shortly behind them! my dad prayed + blessed the room + labor. my mom + sister got straight to work - massaging me + helping coach harps! we were just planning on having it be me + trav in the room, but we are SO thankful my sister + mom stayed. we could not have done it without them. #teamharps

this is always the part that gets a little blurry. the contractions picked up. I was very focused in between each one, had my eyes closed the entire time. didn't say much, just concentrated on what was coming up.

trav was such a great coach. he held my hands as I squeezed his so tight. there was one point when I guess I got a little pissed at him. he was reading the monitor + telling me every contraction that was coming up. i was internalizing my breathing during contractions, so he would say, "okay, here it comes. breathe (then he would deep breath in + out). breathe...." so at one point. he was literally two inches away from my face telling me to breathe. first I know that the contraction coming cause it's happening to me!  so I look up at him + say, "I hate that you're doing that right now." hahaha he backed off + got me some ice chips! lol

I had planned on going natural. not because it makes you "more bad ass". it was just a decision that me + trav had made. i think anyone who gives birth, regardless of getting an epidural, going natural or having a c-section is bad ass. moms, you rock! there were two points where I asked for an epidural. the first was when I was dilated at 7 (transition time). I told trav that I think I wanted one. he told me, "you can do this Joeley. your body was made to do this + you're doing an incredible job! you're progressing quick + dr thinks it will slow things down." okay okay - I won't get one. then when I was at a 9, I literally felt like I couldn't take it anymore. trav said, "we will get the nurse in here to check your progress. she will be in here in 15 minutes." great! I have to wait a little. by the time the nurse came back (an hour and a half later), i didn't want one anymore. LOL 

i got on the ball a couple times. since i had so much fluid, i was still leaking on the ball. so i stopped doing that. then i put the ball on the bed + put my head on top of the ball (don't worry, they cleaned the ball after i leaked on it!) + did some circles. at this point, our whole family had arrived. my mom told me to look out the window cause they were all standing outside + we could see them waving. i didn't have enough energy to do so but i'm so thankful for the cute pix they got of them waving!

during the whole time, my body would be SO hot + they would put wash rags on my face. then my temperature would change + i would be shivering. my body went through some stuff! i also threw up a little water during a transition into a 7. #hotmess

once I was at a 9, I knew it was game time! an angel charge nurse walks in + in between a contraction, makes me lock eyes with her. she pep talks me + walks me through the proper way of pushing. she also told me to wait to push until they told me to. I was still holding Travs hands. my sister was rubbing my back with heating pad + my mom is on my other side. 

my body felt like i should push, so i started pushing (and pooping - yes, it happened). i would apologize with every push + poop - "i'm so sorry, soooo sorry!" the nurses were so great! "oh! we've seen wayyyy worse." i literally thought poop was going everywhere, but it was just little nugs! the nurses told me not to because it wasn't time. i thought they were just saying that because my OB wasn't there yet. but if you push too early, you can cause your cervix to swell. the idea of that stressed me out more! so every contraction, i would breathe through it + push at the end. the nurses knew that i was ready! 

in walks tamayo (i swear she's an angel). she asked, "how are we doing my dear?!" the only thing that comes out of my mouth, "tamayooooo! i'm shitting everywhere!" everyone laughs! i was relieved she was there. i knew tiny baby harps was so close! 

tamayo gets ready + everyone gets into position. my mom was on my right side, then angel nurse, tamayo in catcher's position, my sister behind her with camera, other two nurses down on my left + trav holding my hand on my left.

contractions were intense. i'm talking, pressure like i've never felt. trav was whispering + telling me i could do this! he was right! i can! so the ladies told me to push up to 10 seconds! WAIT WHAT!?!?! i thought you just sneezed + the baby came out?! LIES! lol so i start pushingggggg. they counted. 

tiny baby harps was crowning. they could see hair! thank GOD. i needed a baby with some hair (trav was bald til 2 + i had an abundance of hair!). i heard that + was so excited to meet this lil love. so i got a little crazy! in between contractions (they were about a minute apart), i could hear everyone chatting. my mom + tamayo were talking about grandkids. and there was other chatter. i was focusing + resting in between every contraction. so when i felt ready, i looked up + shouted, "ARE YOU LADIES READYYYYYY?!" they all looked around + probably thought i was crazy! lol but they said yes + then i shouted, "okay, one, two.." and started pushing on three. 

i did that twice, had to fire myself up a nit + then out came a beautiful baby... GIRL!

tamayo let trav announce the sex. so as tamayo pulled tiny baby harps out, she grabbed her arm + made her wave at us, then continued on to pull the rest of her out. that's when trav said, "it's a baby girllllllll!" (we have this whole thing filmed thankfully. cause i wouldn't have remembered much of it!)

baby girl! in all her glory! our little gift arrived at 3:02pm. 7 lbs + 20.5 inches long. so much perfection. 

raegan hope, we are completely in love with you. we cannot imagine life without you. we are so thankful you are ours. our Papa God is so good. daily thanking the Lord for the sweetest gift. it's such a blessing to be your parents baby gal. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

the day that would have been.

this blog post has been a work in progress for the last 10 months. i have had moments where the last thing i want to do was post this. and other moments through pain, hurt + other stories, this was the only thing i have sent to people.

this post is my heart. it's raw + really ugly, but beautifully redemptive. i wrote this in august, right when i was in the thick of it all. here it goes : 

"I need to tell our story.

I’m not doing this for anyone to feel bad for us, or pity us. Please know that is NOT my intention. I wouldn’t write this if that were the case. I’m writing this because I have found that stories have helped us with our journey. I’m praying that even if this brings encouragement to one person, it is worth it.

Two weeks before we left for Africa, we found out we were pregnant. Yes, having a baby! We couldn’t believe it because we were not trying whatsoever! We had unprotected sex once (too much info?!?! sorry, just being real).

I was late for my period by a couple days + am so regular that I knew I was pregnant. Trav didn’t believe me so I bought a pregnancy test. I had to know as soon as we got home. Trav was downstairs packing up the car when I took the test. I was so nervous that I couldn’t go back into bathroom after I peed. When I did, I saw the pregnancy line + started tearing up! A million things were running through my mind. I was mostly excited, a little shocked + slightly afraid. “Are we ready? I guess we better be!”

I was standing in my tee + undies with the test in my hand when Trav walked back in. He looked at me + knew. He came over, I handed him the test + he said, “holy shit”. Ha! We laughed, prayed, dreamt + were in shock/ pure excitement together. Trav could not believe it. In fact, he made me wake up before he went to work the next morning to take another test! I woke up @ 5:30am + it came out positive.

So we scheduled an appointment to meet with our doctor. She too confirmed I was pregnant. I was a week away from leaving for Africa so I asked her if it would be safe to go. She was a little concerned but gave us the okay! We felt peace about going too. God had called us to go, we weren’t backing down.

So we told our immediate families by Facetiming them. It was the best. We all screamed on little mobile devices states away. It was glorious. Their reactions, comments + those moments were just priceless. We told a handful of friends too. We were so excited we couldn’t hold it in. And we wanted to be covered in prayer!

I couldn’t believe baby Harps was already going to travel abroad! What a world traveler! I begin to tell some members of the team just so they didn’t think I was lazy or inconsiderate if morning sickness hit at any point. They were wonderful new friends who celebrated + took care of me before Trav arrived (he came a week later). I felt great the whole trip. Being in airports for long amounts of time was annoying but for the most part, I wasn’t experiencing any first trimester sickness. Thank God!

Sunday morning of our trip, I woke up in the middle of the night not feeling good. I thought it might have been what we had for dinner but it was more than that. I went to the bathroom to find I was spotting. I read blogs about how this could be normal in the first trimester, but worry grew. I texted my mom + sister to pray for me. They are the best encouragers + eased my fears. I went to bed a couple hours later. When I woke up, I still wasn’t feeling 100%. We had a full day planned so I thought as soon as we get going, I’ll feel better.

Sunday service was awesome. It was incredible to witness how God is working there. I sat there in some pain + went to the bathroom (which was a hole in the ground). I was still lightly spotting. Nothing to worry about right?! Okay, I’ll just tell a couple gals on my team so they can be praying.

The day went on + I kept a low profile. Only a couple more hours until Trav landed and once he got here, I would feel the safest. We had visited an orphanage before picking him up at airport. During our time there, my cramps were awful and the bleeding was more than spotting. I laid down on the bus for a little because I couldn’t bare to walk around. We finished our time there + headed to airport. At this point, everyone on the continent knew how excited I was for Trav to land! Sometimes most of the time, you just need your man!

I was like a little puppy waiting for its owners to come home after being alone all day. LOL It was the best to see his face. I hugged him so tight that I didn't let go. I hadn’t told him anything up until that point because he was in the air the whole time. As soon as we sat down on the bus,everything came out. I was so scared, I was terrified. He held me + told me it was going to be okay.

At this point, our team didn’t have dinner + it was close to 9pm. We headed for dinner. At the restaurant, I was in so much pain. I ate dinner because I thought it would make me feel better. It didn’t. As I went to the bathroom, I knew it wasn’t okay. Something was seriously wrong at this point. The second time I went, I looked at my friend Lauren in shock + didn’t want to believe what was happening. She was such a calming presence for me. I am forever thankful for my sweet Lolo.

I returned to the table sobbing, I was in pain + horrified. Trav knew we had to go to the hospital. Our bus, full of the whole team, piled in after I came back + dropped us off at the hospital. The hospital was the "nicest" hospital in Kenya. It was still a third world country hospital at the end of the day. I was scared out of my mind, yet so thankful Trav was by my side. We filled out paper work + did initial assessment. As we walked back, workers were mopping the floors, so we were literally jumping over puddles to get to the room. Lights were flickering on + off. It felt like a horror movie. But our Doctor spoke great English + our Nurse Grace was a literal God-send, created to be a Nurse.

The Doctor asked some questions + then left to prep whatever was next. We cried in the hospital room, holding each other, scared. What was happening?! Were we really on a missions trip in Africa having a miscarriage? This can’t be real. We did a couple different tests. Then we headed to get an ultrasound. They put me in a wheel chair, Trav holding my hand as they pushed us through the creepy hallways. 

The ultrasound tech was the one who told me I wasn’t pregnant anymore. The weight of her words didn’t compute. I walked out of the ultrasound room + Trav was sitting at the end of hallway. His face was buried in his hands + he was praying. He looked up + saw my face was as white as a ghost. He knew. I sat on his lap + we cried for what felt like hours. We held each other + sobbed. Then we sobbed some more. Looking back on that moment, you can't help but remember your wedding vows, for better or worse. It was the absolute worst thing we have ever walked through. I was so thankful for Trav, his sweet heart + kind words he whispered and prayed over me.

We went back to the hospital room + our doctor said that it was a complete miscarriage. Regardless of location, it would have happened because the baby wasn’t forming properly so basically my body rejected the baby. I had never heard such a thing. We cried + thanked him for helping us. As we walked out of the hospital room, we cried with our friends in the waiting room. It reminded me of the scripture, mourn with those who mourn. So thankful for friends who mourn + go through the shit of life with you.

That night, we barely slept. We cried most of the night together at the hotel. Right when I didn’t think I had tears left, I would cry again. I woke up in the middle of the night to see my sweet Trav, jet lagged + tired, bawling his eyes out. I held him + prayed for us. We woke up with tears streaming down our cheeks. The rest of the week was a blur. There were moments of joy with moments of deep pain.

The most significant moment of the trip was the morning after. We didn’t tell the orphan boys that Trav was coming on the trip later. As you can imagine, we were emotionally raw. We started to get off the bus, and the team brought over the two boys who Trav met four years ago over. As we stepped off, tears streamed down Jonathan’s cheeks with the biggest + brightest smile I have ever seen. They were so happy to see Trav!  We all hugged + cried together. They don’t know how much their embrace meant to us after the loss we had just experienced. Their joy was contagious.

The rest of the week had highs + lows. Moments where I thought I wasn’t going to make it + others where I felt the Lord carrying us. We debriefed with our team leaders at the end of the week + told them we were thankful to be in a place that brought us so much joy during such a painful time. It was nice to be able to just be with Trav during the week + not have to worry about going back to work the following day, or try pulling ourselves together.

Upon returning home, it hit hard. We both jumped into new jobs + there was so much change happening. I thought I was going to be so much stronger than I was. The truth is, I need Jesus, and then some more Jesus, oh and then give me some more of Him. I can’t make it a second without Him. In this moment, I feel like I’m sitting in the thick of it all. I’ve cried a lot. I’m mourning deeply the loss of baby Harps. It hurts to walk through this + I’ve received some of the best encouragement ever – take the time you need to be in every phase of this. Cry, be mad, be sad, feel everything you need to feel to get the healing you will soon get. so much more advice that i keep close to my heart daily.

My heart hurts daily. I really wanted to see a growing belly. I know one day I will have that. But in these moments, I’m just trying to keep it real. It hasn’t been easy. It’s honestly been the shittiest season ever. But I do know that it is only for a season and God is still good. He has our sweet baby Harps in heaven + I get to meet it one day. I know my grandmama is holding baby Harps closely + so is Jesus. That brings my heart so much peace. But it still hurts."

sometimes i think women walk away from miscarriages ashamed, defeated + maybe even depressed. i felt all of those emotions. not like this justifies the hurt + pain, but miscarriages are more common than we know. one of the most significants things that helped us through besides Jesus was our community. our families loved on us, our friends fed + made us laugh, our church prayed with + for us often. the best way i can describe it is different people took pieces of my broken heart + i felt God putting it back together. piece by piece, meal by meal, story by story, laugh by laugh. don't distance yourself when you walk through trauma of any sort. share with those you trust + lean on the Lord. He created us for this. thank you friends + family. you mean the world to us.

had we not walked through this, we wouldn't be 30 weeks pregnant now + ready to welcome a sweet baby in june. we often think of baby harps #1. sometimes i cry. but i mostly thank God that He is taking care of babes + that one day, i get to meet them! today is the day we would have met baby harps #1 if all went according to our plan. but God has a plan that outweighs anything we could ever imagine. He is that good of a papa! 

hope this brought some hope today.
happy birthday baby harps #1.