Things to do this spring/summer with your kids

Last summer, while Chris was in Basic Military Training and technical school, I thought up a lot of ways to keep the boys distracted. Some of these ideas are stuff that my siblings and I did growing up, that I am now doing with my own children. Some, are ideas that are new. If you’re looking for something to do with your kids this spring/summer, look no further!

1. Support your local Farmer’s Market

2. Fly a kite

3. Visit a zoo

4. Play at a splash park

5. Catch lightening bugs, study them in a Mason jar, and set them free

6. Plant flowers or vegetables

7. Go and see a movie in theatre

8. Play in a sprinkler

9. Go on a nature walk and have a scavenger hunt

10. Swim in a lake

11. Have a picnic at a park

12. Go out for ice-cream

13. Roast s’mores on a fire

14. Watch fireworks

15. Play with bubbles

16. Visit a berry patch and pick berries

17. Make art with chalk paint or sidewalk chalk

18. Build a fort

19. Go to a fair

20. Take a road trip

21. Eat popsicles in a bubble bath

22. Visit a farm

23. Read books outside

24. Play in mud

25. Visit a new park or playground

26. Roll down a hill

27. Play “Simon Says”

28. Bake cookies in your pajamas

29. Have a family sleepover in your family room

30. Go to a pond to feed ducks and geese

31. Make homemade play-doh

32. Catch crawdads in a creek

33. Make homemade ice-cream

34. Stay up late to stargaze

35. Visit a children’s museum

36. Go fishing

37. Visit an aquarium

38. Make your own popsicles

39. Have a water ballon fight

40. Perform Random Acts of Kindness

41. Go bowling

42. Play with water guns

43. Draw on a table with shaving cream

44. Go on a family hike

45. Tour a factory

46. Have a family game night

47. Visit your local library

48. Go to a drive-in movie

49. Go to an amusement park

50. Ride bikes

51. Make root beer floats

52. Paint with watercolors

53. Get snow cones

53. Go to a Major League Baseball game

54. Have a BBQ with family and friends

55. Swim in a pool

56. Have a puppet show

57. Go to a parade

58. Have a family fondue night

59. Vacation somewhere new

60. Make homemade instruments

61. Go miniature golfing

62. Play backyard sports games

63. Make homemade pizza

64. Ride on a local train or subway

65. Create an obstacle course

66. Do Zumba together

67. Go for a walk outside

68. Make your owns jam or jelly

69. Wash your cars

70. Roast hot dogs on a fire

71. Make paper airplanes and race them

72. Make a bird-feeder

73. Have a friend night and stay up late

74. Play hide and seek

74. Write letters to family or friends and mail them

75. Build a sandcastle at the beach

76. Make your own slip n’ slide

77. Get your face painted

78. Use dry noodles or cereal to make necklaces and bracelets

79. Visit a historical site

80. Go night swimming

81. Put a large puzzle together

82. Make lemonade

83. Make art with finger paint

84. Watch birds

85. Play hopscotch

89. Let the kids plan and help cook dinner

90. Make tie-dye shirts

91. Go to a flea market

92. Make cookies for a neighbor

93. Have a pillow fight

94. Play dress-up

95. Camp-out in your backyard

96. Play in the rain

97. Have a craft day

98. Visit a museum

99. Have a pizza party with friends

100. Play with glow sticks in the dark

Do you have any traditions that your family does for fun in the warmer months? I’d love it if you could share your ideas in the comments below.

I’m not crazy, I’m just depressed

I have walked hand-in-hand with depression for as long as I can remember. Even when I was a child, I could feel an aching in my heart that I did not have the words to explain. It’s like an old friend, a t-shirt washed and worn so many times that the letters have slowly faded away. I can feel it when it’s near, it never strays too far. It is the crusher of my creativity and the killer of my joy. It’s as much a part of me as the peace and happiness that I desire.

It’s difficult to explain depression to someone that has never dealt with it. It’s not something that you can control. There’s no convenient off switch. There isn’t always a reason, and sometimes there are all kinds of reasons. It can creep up on you slowly, or take your breathe away. It will whisper lies and put you down. Sometimes I feel everything, and other times I feel nothing at all. Sleep is a friend of depression. Sleep is a time when my thoughts are not so scrambled and my heart doesn’t hurt so much.

When I was a teenager, my depression got bad. Social anxiety made it worse. When I got around groups of people, I felt uncomfortable. I got awkward. I never knew what to do or say. I was so afraid that they wouldn’t like me. That they wouldn’t see who I truly was. I usually ended up saying something ridiculous and then beating myself up over it. I felt like something was wrong with me. I felt like I was crazy. Why couldn’t I just be normal like everyone else?

I just want to feel like myself.

Cue depression.

When both of my boys were born, I had severe post-natal depression. After Hudson was born, I tried so hard to be the perfect mom. Not realizing, that did not exist. I exhausted myself to a point where I was angry and frustrated a lot of the time. But, I had this wonderful, adorable little human that I loved with every ounce of me. So maybe, just maybe, I could put on a smile and pretend that everything was fine. Then came Logan, my depression in the weeks after having him was the worst it had ever been in my life. I was so angry and defeated all of the time, and I had no idea why. I wanted so badly to be happy. To be thankful, strong, and kind. I looked at my boys and I knew that something had to change.

For the last fifteen months I have been on an antidepressant. I mean it when I say that this has been one of the best things that I ever did for myself. My good days far outweigh my bad. For so long, I fought going to see a doctor for fear of being put on medication. I did not want to admit that there was something wrong with me. I did not like the words clinical depression, but the reality is, I cannot change the fact that I have depression anymore than someone can change the fact that they have allergies or cancer. Realizing this was a giant step in the right direction for the healing of my heart and mind. I am learning to love myself, to see myself as an imperfect woman loved deeply by a perfect God.

But, sometimes the days are hard and the medicine is not enough.

This time of year, when the leaves start to fall and the air turns cold, it has always been hard for me. I feel myself start to clam up. All I want to do is stay at home. To sleep. I just want to be alone. I feel like all I do is give to my children and there is nothing left of me to give. I look forward to naps and bedtime so that I can have some peace and quiet. Yet when they are asleep, I find myself missing them and wishing I had not wished our time away. I go to bed and in the morning I am awoken by their cries and it starts all over again. I feel as though I am trapped. Living the same day over and over again. The days are long and the years are short has never rang so true to me. I think, I just want one day to myself. One day to be me. To not be pulled on, sat on, peed on, puked on, or pooed on. I know that one day when they are grown, I will kick myself for even thinking this. You could never begin to imagine my love for them. They are two of my life’s greatest blessings. If you asked me to choice between my life or theirs. I wouldn’t hesitate to give them my last breathe. But none of that can shake this sadness in my heart. A sadness that I cannot name. When all I want to do is love them and live well.

I could not have asked God Himself for a better man and partner in this life. He is the calm to my crazy. He is level headed, and he is always there for me to lean on in my times of trouble. He does his best to listen and to understand. His words are gentle and kind. He has seen me at my absolute worst, and he loves me all the same. I often feel guilt and shame when he has to see me like this. I wish that I could just be strong for him, and for our boys.

I just want to feel like myself.

Over the years, I have gotten very good at spotting my depression when it creeps in. I do my best to stop it before it spirals out of control. I have learned to accept that this is part of who I am. Learning to love this piece of me is the hardest part, but I am trying. I see that I am able to feel and think things that I would not be able to otherwise. I have a strong and understanding heart because of it. These are things that I am grateful for and I pray that as the years go by, I continue to accept myself for who I am and manage my depression the best that I can.

I choose happiness.

If you’re out there and you’re struggling with depression and/or anxiety, know that you are not alone. If you feel like you need to talk to someone, do it! If you feel like you need medicine, don’t shame yourself. This is a tough road to walk and a heavy burden to bear, but being open and honest about your feelings can help.

Military life so far..

Last winter, Chris and I made the decision that he was going to join the United States Air Force. It was something that he had wanted to do for a long time and we had discussed it on several occasions. Not long after we began dating, we started discussing the future. Chris told me of his dream to join the military. At that time, I completely shut out the idea of being a military wife. That lifestyle just was not for me.

Fast forward to five years later, we are married, have two sons, and are sitting in our local recruiters office for the USAF. I still don’t know exactly what made me change my mind. I saw how miserable my husband was working in retail management. I knew how intelligent and capable he was. I knew that he needed to follow his heart and do something that challenged him and gave him a sense of purpose. He had worked so hard to see that my dreams of being a stay-at-home mom were possible. How could I deny him something that his heart desired? After all, we were a team and I had to be willing to give just as much as I took. So, I said yes.

In February, we moved in with his parents, so that I would not be alone with the boys while he was gone for training. He spent most of that month, and March and April, working and preparing physically and mentally for Basic Military Training. We saw him very little and I spent most of that time dreading when he would leave.

He left for BMT in late April. We were in a much different situation than most are when they leave for BMT. Chris was not some 18-year-old leaving behind a high school flame. He was a 26 year old, married, father of two. This created an extremely trying dynamic for our entire family. For nearly eight weeks, the only communication that I had with my husband was letters. Letters that our boys could not read or understand. Still, I wrote to him every single day. I told him stories about the boys, funny things that Hudson had done or said, milestones that Logan had reached. I sent him photos of us and pictures that Hudson had colored for him. His letters home didn’t come as often, but I had expected this. Every day, I walked to the mailbox, hoping I would hear from him. Most days, I walked away empty handed, but on the days that I did receive a letter, well, those were the best days.

We got to talk on the phone a few times while he was gone. Hearing his voice was the best feeling ever. The boys didn’t really understand what was going on, but I think that hearing Chris made them realize that he was okay and that they would see him again. I told them how much their daddy loved them every single day. There were several nights that Hudson woke up screaming, and there was nothing that I could do to calm him down. He didn’t need to say it, I knew that he was missing his daddy so much it hurt. So, I would just hold him and tell him that daddy loved him. I did the best that I could to keep them entertained and happy all summer. I learned just how strong and resilient they are.

But only worrying about Chris and the boys, caused me to neglect taking care of myself. (can any other mamas relate to this?) I blocked out my feelings and just tried to get from day to day, until, I broke. I began crying and once I started, it was as if I could not stop. I was angry that I had agreed to this, angry that my husband’s dream was keeping him from us. I was angry that he had missed Logan’s first birthday. Angry that I had lost a grandmother and he had not been there to grieve with me. But most of all, I was heartbroken, because I missed my best friend and my babies missed their daddy. I was heartbroken that it felt like I was doing it all alone.

I finally stopped crying and decided to become stronger from the struggle. I decided to view things in a more positive way. I decided to be proud of my husband for serving his country and for taking care of his family. I decided to view our time apart as something that would make our relationship and our love so much stronger (and wow, has it ever). I decided to see that, one day, his sons would be so PROUD of their daddy for his service and his sacrifice. That they would learn how to be strong, protective, caring, and humble men. Just like their father. We could get through this, and we would be so much stronger because of it.

In June, my in-laws and I loaded up their truck with everything one could need to entertain two toddlers and headed for San Antonio, Texas. We spent two days on the road, and on Thursday June 15th, we watched as Chris was coined. I had never been more proud of him, more proud to be his wife. Sitting in the stands, all I could think about was getting to him. There were hundreds of men before me, but I knew exactly where he was. I ran to him, baby on my hip, and was finally reunited with my best friend. We spent four incredible days with him. The boys were even able to be with him on Father’s Day. Then, just as quickly as it began, it was over. We were headed back to Bowling Green, without him.

Chris got his first pick of job as an F-35 Crew Chief, which meant that his technical school would be longer than we had hoped for. We were very happy that he would be doing what he wanted to do, and I was extremely proud of all of his hard work! He stayed in San Antonio at Lackland Air Force Base for Airmen’s Week and then left for Sheppard Air Force Base for the first part of his technical training. We were nearly a thousand miles apart, again. Luckily, we were able to text, call, and FaceTime when he wasn’t in training. It helped to make the time pass quicker and seemed to make the boys happier. He stayed at Sheppard AFB for close to ten weeks and then graduated and moved to Eglin Air Force Base in Florida for the second part of his technical training. It was August by this time and we had not seen him since the middle of June.

Everyone, including the military, told us that it was pointless to move to Florida when Chris would only be there for a few months. But we are not everyone, and our situation was different than most. Plus, if you know me at all then you know I’m a real stickler for going against the grain. My boys needed their father. I needed my partner in raising them. We talked it over and decided to rent a place in Crestview, Florida, which was a short drive from Eglin AFB. We moved down on August 18th and those two months with Chris were more than worth the time and money that we had spent to get to him. He was only able to stay at the house with us on the weekends, but he came over in the afternoons when he could during the week and we made the best of our time together.

Chris graduated from the F-35 Tactical Advanced Fighter Maintenance Course at Eglin AFB last week. He was additionally awarded the Flight Chief’s Award and the AETC Commander’s Award. The boys clapped every time their daddy’s name was called and Hudson cheered, “Yay, daddy!” I am so happy that he has found what he is passionate about. We are so proud of him and everything that he has gone through to get to where he is now. He left for Arizona and will be finishing the final portion of his technical training at Luke Air Force Base. The boys and I will be dividing our time between our home in Florida and Bowling Green, for the holidays and coming months. Chris is set to finish with technical school sometime in January and then we will be moving to Utah and finding our new home at Hill Air Force Base. I do not know where the Air Force will take us, but I am looking forward to this adventure and I am glad that we took a chance on his dream.

You are Enough

Sometimes, life gets messy. There are bills to pay. Dishes and laundry to be done. Floors to sweep and mop, or vacuum. Babies to take care of, appointments and commitments to attend. Instagram feeds and Facebook timelines to scroll through. Emails and texts to reply to. And just when I thought I had it all under control, I was smacked with the thought that no matter how hard I tried, I would never have it all together. I would never be enough.

More often than not I find myself overwhelmed and trying to be everything to everyone. The perfect Christian, wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend. To have a Pinterest worthy home, to be organized, prompt, happy. And then, I crash, and somewhere between my second or third glass of wine, I am stuck wondering how I got to be this way and why.

We live in a world where social networks show the highlights of our lives. We filter out the bad, tweak it a bit here and there, crop out what we don’t want the world to see. Young girls, that should in no way be worried about their looks, post images of themselves that have been so heavily edited that they no longer resemble themselves. Mothers spend more time taking photos and videos of their children, than actually living in the moment with them. I am guilty of this, myself. People do things and go places just so that they can post about them. We try so hard to prove that we have it all and that we have it all together.

And it makes sense, because who wants to talk about the bad, sad, and messy moments in life? We live in a high-tech, fast-paced, social networking world that is forever making us feel that we are far too busy yet never enough. We all desire happiness, we strive for it, we chase after it. We tell ourselves that if we can just do more, be more, then, we will be happy. A better job, a bigger house, a newer car, more stylish clothing. We want and want and want and are left feeling so small.

When I am out in public, I will often look around to see that everyone has their heads buried in their smartphone. Instagram. Facebook. Snapchat. Twitter. Vine. YouTube. Pinterest. Email. When did this become what life is about? Are we really living or are we just pretending? The other day I sat in my doctors office and looked around the room, every single person had their head in their phone other than myself and an older gentleman beside me. He looked to be in his 70s, and there he sat, reading a book. It was in that moment that I realized just how wrong our generation has it. We are too ‘busy’, too stressed, too connected with the internet and in no way connected with the world around us.

I have suffered from clinical depression for most of my life. I live in a constant cycle of ups and downs. Very highs and very lows. Never feeling like I am ‘enough’ for anyone or anything. I feel everything so very deeply and my emotions pour out. I am an over-thinker, an over-sharer, a perfectionist. It is both my blessing and my curse. Above all else, I desire contentment and I so often find that I come up short. I have lived angry, stressed, fatigued, sad, and stuck in the past. Mentally, emotionally, and physically broken. Just trying to get from day to day and never really living. Being too busy and too caught up in the things that don’t really matter.

Grace is this beautiful thing that we have been offered from God. We can have grace with ourselves, we can offer up grace to those around us. We can forgive, move on, let go. We can decide that we are good enough just the way that we are.

I want to post unedited photos of myself with no makeup on and see beauty for who I am. I want to go to amazing places and see spectacular things and not have to take a picture of it or tell the world in a Facebook status. I want to stop caring if the dishes are clean or if the floors have been swept and just play with my children and soak in each moment. I want to stop stressing. Breathe. Move slower. Embrace life. Love myself. Love others. Live with intent. Be present. I want to have more breakfast in bed, read hundreds of books, pray more, feel the sun on my face, go on dates with my husband, and belly laugh with my babies. I want to be more focused on my blessings than on the things that I do not have. I want to talk less and listen more. I want less to-do lists, less perfection, and less of my smartphone. I want to stop searching for happiness and just be happy. Because happiness is not a goal to be reached, it is a state of being and a choice. I don’t need it all. I don’t have to be it all. I am enough. You are enough.

NOT Your Average SAHM Verses Working Outside of the Home Mom Blog Post

About a week ago I was reading some comments between mothers on a post about SAHMs verses ‘working’ moms. One comment that I read from a SAHM mom was about how she does not get days off or vacation time like working mothers do. Y’all, I literally laughed out loud. For any of those who are confused, moms that work outside of the home work all day and then come home and take care of their homes and children. They do not get days off or vacation time either. When you decide to become a mother, you give up your days off and vacation time.

Some SAHMs believe that if you do not stay at home and raise your children that you don’t love them as much, or that you just want to push them off on someone else and not have to deal with them. Some working moms believe that SAHMs are lazy and they do not understand why they don’t want ‘more’ in life. In the past I was scared to tell people that I am a SAHM because I feared that they would assume that my life is nothing but pedicures, lunch with the girls, bubble baths, wine, and Netflix.

While I do enjoy a good pedicure, Purple Toad’s Black & Bruised sweet red wine is rather delicious, and I am currently on season 7, episode 3 of a Grey’s Anatomy marathon, that is not what my day-to-day life consists of. I can also assure you that it has been a long time since I have had any time out with my friends, and sadly, our tub is far too small for an adult bubble bath. Most days my life is gross and hard and completely exhausting. My days are filled with smelly diaper changes, baby urine and spit up in my hair and on my clothes, dusting/sweeping/mopping that never seems to accomplish much, toddler tantrums, picking up food off of the floor for what seems to be the one-millionth time because my son is a texture eater and hates something one day then loves it the next. Most nights I get anywhere from four to six hours of sleep. I do not recall the last time that I sat down to a warm meal and ate in peace. Some days I want to crawl into the fetal position and cry because I am so tired that I am not sure what my name is. And, is it just me or do those piles of laundry and that mountain of dishes never stop growing no matter how many times I do them? But, here is the kicker. I would not change a single thing. Yes, my days are trying but they are also wonderful and magical. I get to blow on giggly baby bellies as I change diapers, I get to watch my sons find pure joy in the smallest of things, I get to work with my toddler and teach him to be calm and collected when he is upset, I get to laugh and play and pretend that I am a pirate. Oh, and the dance parties you guys, they are glorious. Did I mentions that I can wear my pajamas to work if I want to? This is my happy place, my dream come true. This is motherhood tome and it is what makes me happy.

There is this idea that because we are women that we should always be perfect at being moms. That motherhood should come and be completely natural. That we should stay at home with our babies and raise them and dedicate ours lives only to them. But, all of this is just not true. Some women have a hard time staying calm. Some women get headaches from listening to children yell all day (because let’s be honest, they do not know how to talk quietly). Some women had awful childhoods and fear repeating a cycle of bad parenting and damaging their children. Some women go to school and earn really awesome degrees that they want to put to good use. Some moms have to work because they are single and have no other way or because in some cases two incomes are required. Some moms dedicate their work life to amazing causes because they want to make a change in the world. I am undeniablyblessed to be able to stay at home with my children, and I wish that every mother that wants to could do the same, but I will never judge a mom who chooses differently again.

“I am undeniably blessed to be able to stay at home with my children, and I wish that every mother that wants to could do the same, but I will never judge a mom who chooses differently again.”

Loving your children and being happy is far more important than whether or not you stay at home with them. If you feel that staying at home with your children is the best way that you know to love them, provide for them, protect them, and teach them then I think that is incredible and honorable. But if having a career, providing for and teaching your children through your work experience and commitment to said career is the choice for you, then that is incredible and honorable too. If you do not have the choice then I am truly, very sorry, but if you do, do what makes YOU happy, because happy moms have happy kids. No matter what you choose, your children will always be proud of you.

Let us stop pinning mother against mother. Let us stop degrading one another for the lifestyle that makes us each happy. Let us stop creating unrealistic expectations. Instead, let us lift one another up, let us inspire each other to chase our dreams. Let us come together and make motherhood a safe and happy place for all. And for love of our children, let us stop arguing about who works harder or loves their kids more because we all work pretty darn hard and love our babies with all that we are.

Hudson’s Birth Story

Here I am, almost three months postpartum and I am just now writing Hudson’s birth story. Truth be told, I have started writing it many times, but I always get too emotional and have to stop. When I say that there are no words to describe the love that I have for my son, I mean it. So much so, that it has taken me three months to find the words and they will never be enough.

At 12:00AM on Thanksgiving day, I awoke to cramping that was much stronger than the Braxton Hicks contractions I had previously experienced. I had been having Braxton Hicks since very early on in my pregnancy, so I didn’t think too much of it. Before going to bed, I had been experiencing some stronger contractions and even said to Chris and our family, “My contractions feel different than normal.”

I got up and used the bathroom. My water had not broken and my contractions didn’t seem to be getting any closer together, but they were growing stronger. I walked around a bit, swaying back and forth, and woke up Chris. After about 30 minutes of increasing contractions, I decided that I wanted to go to the hospital.

I was 10 days away from my due date, so we weren’t sure if I was in labor or not. Chris had to get up for work very early that morning, so his mom offered to take me to the hospital. (We had been staying the night at his parent’s house for Thanksgiving since Chris’s brother and sister-in-law were in town.) Luckily, I had my hospital bag packed many weeks beforehand and was ready to go! Chris carried our bags downstairs and I kissed him goodbye. The ride was long and cold, but I was filled with so much anticipation and joy. The thought that I might be holding Hudson that very day was enough to make my heart burst.

We arrived at the hospital sometime between 1:00-1:30AM. I was taken up to Labor and Delivery to be examined. The nurse asked me to put on a robe and an electronic fetal monitor was put on me to monitor my contractions and Hudson’s heart rate. I was checked to see how dilated and effaced my cervix was and my doctor was called.

After about 45 minutes, my doctor and nurses decided that I was not in labor, and that it was dehydration causing my contractions. I was sent home and told to drink a lot of water, but Loretta and I were convinced that I was in labor. I was told to come back if my contractions continued to become more intense and closer together.

We returned home. I ate some toast with a banana, drank lots of water, showered, and then laid on the couch. For two hours, I counted contractions, one after another, each stronger and closer together than the one before it. When my contractions were 2-4 minutes apart and lasting 60 seconds or longer, I called L&D and they told me to come back to the hospital.

Once again, Loretta and I packed up the car and left. Chris stayed behind until we were positive that I would be admitted. I remember being so excited and so nervous. Thinking that it was time, this is what I had waited and prayed for these long nine months.. This was the day that I would finally become a mother and meet my son.

We arrived at the hospital and I was taken up to L&D to be examined. It was decided very soon after that I was infact in labor, as my nurse told me, “We’re going to have a baby.” We called Chris and my mom, and they came up to the hospital.

I had previously decided that I wanted an epidural, but I wanted to wait until the pain was no longer bearable before receiving it. Within a couple of hours, the anesthesiologist came in to give me an epidural. For those of you who don’t know me, I have a terrible fear of needles. I cry, sweat, shake, tense up, and have even passed out before. I told the nurses that it was too soon and that my contractions weren’t even that painful. I didn’t want or need an epidural yet. They told me it was now or never, so I picked now. My husband and two nurses held me as I was shaking, sobbing, and scared out of my mind. And just like that, he was finished, and I had barely felt a thing. All of the horror stories that I had heard about epidurals had been put to rest. I guess it’s a good thing that Chris wouldn’t let me look at the needle or catheter, because I probably would have jumped off of the bed.

Several hours passed and I felt amazing. The epidural seemed to be keeping my back pain at bay. I was so ready to meet my sweet boy.

My sister came up and brought everyone food, since it was Thanksgiving and all. My sweet husband wouldn’t eat, because he knew that I couldn’t until after giving birth. So, we sat, and waited and waited, and waited some more.

At around 4:00PM, the first strong dose of my epidural was slowly wearing off, and I was beginning to feel the pain and pressure of labor. I was thankful to have made it so far with such little discomfort, but I knew that it was almost time. Those last few hours were so hard. I just breathed, not the crazy kind of breathing that they teach you in Lamaze classes, but I found my own rhythm. I found my zen, and I went with it. The pain got so bad, so strong, but I was okay. I kept going, I kept pushing through it. All I could think about was Hudson, seeing his face, holding his tiny hand in mine. I was determined to meet the baby boy I had dreamed of and loved for my whole life.

When I reached 7 CM dialated and was fully effaced, my doctor had arrived. She came in and asked that I get up on my knees to try and progress the labor. I still had no feeling in my left leg and my nurses knew this, so they came in and checked my progression again. Part of my cervix was stuck on one side of Hudson’s head and his heartrate was low.

My nurse began pushing it to the side to make way for him, and I thought I would die right then and there from the pain. I had never felt anything like it in my entire life. I begged her, crying, to please stop but I knew that Hudson needed out quickly. She looked at me and told me that if I would trust her, I would have my baby. So, I did. I mustered up every bit of strength, courage, and will that I had and I bit my blanket and held my husband’s hand through the pain. I prayed to God for strength and guidance and peace of mind.

My nurse looked up at me, smiled, and told me that it was time. My doctor came in, my feet were put in stirrups, and I was told to start pushing as hard as I could as soon as my next contraction started. I pushed as hard as my body would allow. Over and over again, I gave it everything I had. Those moments seem so blurry now. It was like a superhero version of myself had jumped into my body and was doing the pushing for me.

Less than 15 minutes later, my son, Hudson Alan Rarick, came into this world at 6:44PM weighing 7 pounds 4.5 ounces, and 21 inches long. The moment that my crying baby was laid on my chest is a moment that I will never forget. A moment that I cannot describe because no words would do it justice. That moment changed my entire world, my entire life. He was every dream and every hope that I had ever had staring up at me.

It’s incredible what the mind and body are capable of. How in the midst of so much pain, you find strength. You find a way to keep going and you come out on the other side so much stronger. The birth of my son was the most incredible, beautiful thing I have ever witnessed. I never truly understood life before that moment. It changes your heart, forever. Having this innocent soul to care for makes you want to do better, to be better. You see life with new eyes. You see beauty and joy in ways in which you never imagined. You see the version of yourself that you’ve always wanted to be and you do everything in your will to be that person.

The things that you obsess over about your child’s birth never really matter in the end. I had the perfect birth plan typed up. I didn’t want a ceasarin section unless it was an emergency, I wanted to be cut horizontally instead of vertically if I had to have one, I didn’t want an episiotomy, I wanted immediate skin-to-skin contact, and for the cord to be cut after it stopped pulsating. But, I ended up not thinking about any of those things during my 18 hours and 44 minutes of labor. My birth plan never even made it into the delivery room. All that mattered to me was that my baby was healthy and happy. I was perfectly fine with God’s plan instead of my own. After all, if there’s anything that having children teaches us as parents, it’s that our children have an agenda of their own.

It’s been 12 weeks tomorrow since I gave birth to Hudson and I still catch myself wondering if this is all real. I stare down at his beautiful face and I wonder how he could possibly be mine, or what I did to deserve him. He is truly my heart outside of my body.

Birth Photography By Loretta Kay Photography | lorettakay.com