A Nursery Sneak Peek

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For years I dreamed about creating a beautiful nursery for a baby. I had the placement of everything mapped out in my mind. The crib would go here, dresser here, rocker here. And then it was actually time to get going and I was stuck. Once we found out that we were having a baby boy, J requested a woodland themed nursery, which sounded cute to me as well. But I didn’t want it to be too…well…themed. So I made mood board after mood board, trying to come up with the perfect blend.

For a while I decided that I would just sew everything from the crib sheets to the curtains, but pregnancy made me feel slow and sleepy and sewing just seemed too hard. I bought things and returned things over and over again. I must have purchased 13 curtains, although in my defense, the curtains from Target were incredibly inconsistent in their lengths and therefore impossible to match. And then there was the paint color. Swatch upon swatch upon swatch. I must have have 20 swatches that I narrowed down to maybe 5. I guess you could say that I’m not so decisive.

I kept wishing that we had wood floors, as if the carpet alone was what was making my decisions so dang hard! I really do hate the carpet, but there is nothing we can do about that other than hide it with rugs.

So I started with the easy things…white dresser from ikea (since I didn’t want to pay $1200 for the one I really wanted from Crate & Barrel), white modern crib and a simple white and blue muslin sheet I found at Buy Buy Baby. I added bit by bit from there and ended up with a slightly rustic but modern, grown up version of a woodland nursery. I truly love it. It fits our baby boy and the adventures he is bound to have with his outdoor-loving daddy.

There were a few DIY projects we tackled for the room including stripped and recovering the rocking chair, the tassel mobile above the crib, the pillow for the rocking chair and the wooden word art on the wall. I especially love the wooden artwork over his changing pad that J made for him with words that he wants Ethan to know perfectly describe him: loved, wanted, strong, chosen and so much more. It’s so beautiful and truly says who Ethan is to us.

I love how this room turned out. It doesn’t feel too baby for me and I managed to keep the design minimal enough to not make the small room feel cluttered. I also love the thought that he can totally grow into this space with minimal changes.

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Crib • Rocking Chair: vintage find from the Pasadena Rose Bowl • Crib Sheet
Mountain Wall ShelfArrow LampDeer and Bear PrintsRug
Grey PoufFelt Ball GarlandVintage Arrows

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Introducing Ethan + My Birth Story

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Wow. What a difference a year can make. Just look at this picture. When I look at it I see joy, delight, family, but more than that I see a miracle in my arms, prayers answered, dreams fulfilled and God’s faithfulness on display. It’s sometimes hard to believe that this is my reality now, that my biggest prayer has been answered and is resting in my arms.

Last year at this time was a different story. We had just finished our first IUI and found out on Christmas day that it didn’t work. There wasn’t a baby. We were devastated. Deflated. Torn. Weary. And we had to decide right away if we wanted to try again. J said no. He was too disappointed. But I wanted to give it another try, and I convinced J to try again as well. I’m so glad we did. Ethan was just one cycle away from us…we only had to hold on to hope.

I’ve almost written various different posts over the past 6 months or so but none have made it out of my head and onto this screen until now. There are so many thoughts and feelings involved when you become pregnant after struggling to conceive for many years. I didn’t expect to feel so much fear at each doctor’s appointment during my pregnancy. I feared that something would happen to our miracle baby and that he’s be lost. With each appointment my blood pressure would soar with fear. I had so much to lose, I told them. It took four long years, I’d say. Four years. And one perfect baby.

I also couldn’t stop thinking about all of my friends who are still trying to conceive. It wasn’t guilt as much as a heightened awareness and sensitivity of their struggle. After all, I had just been there. I knew those feelings of longing and sadness and disappointment all too well. While I was “on the other side” of infertility and full of joy for it, my heart ached even more for them as I knew that they would give anything to switch places with me. Each prayer thanking God for my precious miracle was often followed with a prayer over my friends who are still waiting, that their time would come quickly.

My pregnancy moved along as most pregnancies do with all of the typical symptoms. First it was morning sickness that lasted from weeks 6-10 only to reappear at week 12 and stay until 18 (lucky me). Couple that with a terrible gagging reflex from smells that left me throwing up in the sink each and every time I opened the fridge. At around 20 weeks I noticed that my feet and fingers were starting to swell and gave up both my wedding rings and my normal shoes for the remainder of my pregnancy. My ankles disappeared into my legs in the most un-sexy manner possible. Thankfully, I live in SoCal where flip flops are the norm as that was the only thing that fit on my puffy feet. Along with that I had terrible heartburn that ate away at my throat until I begged the doctor for something to tame it. I was big and round and gained more weight than I had wanted and I wobbled everywhere like a penguin, but it was beautiful because I was pregnant.

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Ethan gave me his first kick on Mother’s Day when we were in Hawaii. It was just a flutter, but it woke me up from my sleep and couldn’t have been a better gift on a day that I used to dread. He kept on kicking for rest of the pregnancy, at some points rubbing his feet along my ribs like it was a foot massage.

On September 30th, the morning before my due date, my water broke as I was walking into the kitchen to get breakfast before going to a Women’s Conference. I actually just thought that I had lost bladder control until I felt a second woosh as I walked down the hall. Could it be? I wasn’t having contractions so I told my husband to go to work which is hesitantly did, only to return home about an hour later. Haha! He couldn’t stay away with our baby boy’s birth so imminent. But I still felt fine so we finished packing our hospital bags and watched Netflix to kill the time. I had my weekly doctor’s appointment that afternoon so they told me to come on in and they’d check me out. Turns out that despite feeling nothing, things were somehow moving along because I was already at 4 cm without contractions. But since my water had broken that morning I was on the clock and had to progress so he suggested acupuncture to induce labor. Thankfully, my doctor has an fertility acupuncturist just around the corner who was willing to squeeze me in for some baby-inducing treatment. Thirty minutes later she returned to remove the needles and asked if I felt anything. I said no but that my back was aching — like every 5 minutes aching. “You’re having back labor!” she replied. Success!

My contractions immediately after acupuncture were strong and rapid, first 4 minutes apart and quickly to about 2 minutes apart about 2 hours later. And ALL. IN. MY. BACK. I have no idea what a “normal” labor feels like as my contractions never moved out of my lower back to my front. In case you’re wondering what back labor feels like, it starts out much like bad gas pains and moves into “I want to rip my hips out of my body!” kinda pain. We labored at home for only 2 hours before our precious doula (who was a GEM, by the way, and worth EVERY stinkin’ penny) suggested that we head to the hospital. Long story short, at the hospital I continued to labor, breathe, listen to prayers, dance, sway…anything to keep the pain at bay. Around 3:45am I started having contractions that would turn into pushing without me trying. They had told me that I wasn’t ready to push yet, but this baby was coming out. I couldn’t help but push! I crawled onto the bed on my hands and knees, trying to lesson the crazy pain in my back and hips, still feeling a push with every surge. Before I knew it, the doctor was back in the room. J whispered in my ear that they were getting the room ready and that the baby warmer was being set up. It was go time. I pushed for only 15 minutes on my hands and knees until Ethan came out. It was hard and painful and I screamed in ways I didn’t know my body could scream but I did it — 12 hours of hard back labor without any pain medicine and a perfect baby boy in my arms.

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Ethan Ryder Ward was born on October 1 (his due date!) at 4:15 am. He was a perfect 7 lbs 15.8 oz and 21 inches long. When we looked at him we couldn’t believe he was ours! He was SO cute! Perfect button nose, round rosy cheeks, dark hair on his head and the longest feet ever.

We are completely in love with our baby boy.

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Ethan is now almost 12 weeks old and is such a good baby. He sleeps well at night, only waking once to feed. He smiles and coos and laughs throughout the day. He loves when I sing to him and will sing along. He has his daddy’s bright blue eyes and I could stare at him all day long. I’m not sure how I’m ever going to get work done with this adorable little guy in my sight during the day! He brings us so much joy and we love him more every day. God truly gives the very best gifts.

To my friends who are still in the wait…hold onto hope. Please don’t give up on your prayers. Continue to pray and to praise. Thank God in advance for the babies he has for you. Thank him for answering the prayers that he has yet to answer. Believe that he will! I learned so much in this journey – that prayer works and that God is faithful. Always faithful. And He is a good father who loves to give good gifts. I love you all. You continue to be in my prayers.

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For This Child We Have Prayed

Maternity_14wks_005I have longed for years to be able to make this kind of announcement. Every year I prayed…. hoped… believed that this was our year, only to watch another year sneak by. But this IS our year!

It is with great joy that I can say that I am pregnant! Baby Ward is due October 1 after almost 4 very long years of waiting. God is good.

“Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her.” Luke 1:45

Some of you have been following our journey since I opened up about our fertility struggles a few years ago. You can read about how the Lord opened up my blocked fallopian tubes that I was told were diseased and damaged here. We fully expected that the end of the road was close after that. Yet one year and then another slipped by and my womb was still empty.

But God is SO good.

We had friends who decided to walk this journey of prayer and believing with us, and faithfully prayed and fasted on our behalf. Amazing. God showed Himself so strong to us over and over again. So while the years passed I didn’t become depressed but instead I became more certain that we would end our story with a baby in our arms. Our baby.

Last November we were feeling a bit weary in the journey and for the first time in almost 4 years I felt the calling to go to a fertility doctor. Before that I avoided them because they will 99% of the time just suggest IVF without offering any other suggestions. We weren’t ready to consider IVF so what was the point? But I felt some peace about going so I made an appointment with a doctor that had been recommended.

We told her our medical journey and that we would like to try IUI, the least costly and invasive fertility treatment available. For most, it’s the step before IVF. In her kindest tone she warned us that she didn’t believe IUI would work for us. In fact, she gave us a 8% success rate and suggested IVF instead (like I said, the choice of every fertility clinic it seems). We were crushed. Deflated. Sad. But told her that we still wanted to proceed.

I ran to the restroom before my ultrasound and took a deep breath. And for the first time in my life I heard God speak SO clearly to me. He said, “It’s not impossible for me.” Seriously. It was as clear as day. In a bathroom. Right after the doctor basically told me that is was impossible. Isn’t God so good?

So with this new assurance I proceeded to the exam room for an ultrasound to take a look at my ovaries to “see what we were dealing with.” Well imagine my relief when my doctor gasped in awe — my ovaries were like follicle factories. 25 on one side and 35 on the other. In other words, my “old” body (doctor’s lovely words not mine) looked a bit like a 25 year old’s. Abundant. Praise the Lord.

And can we pause here on the word abundant? Around Thanksgiving J and I realized that the word for the season in life we were in was abundance. We could so clearly see abundance in our lives… in J’s new job (amazing in-house photographer job paying above asking salary), in the selling of my Nashville condo (sold in one day above asking price), in our friendships (seriously above and beyond what we had been praying for) and so much more. So why wouldn’t my ovaries be abundant as well, right? And to make things even more crazy, for most of 2105 I was working on logos and design pieces for an event called…wait for it… Abundance. Yep, for most of last year not only did I have the word abundance right in front of me as I worked, but also this amazing verse that has become the theme of this season of our life:

“You crown the year with Your goodness,
And Your paths drip with abundance.” (Psalm 65:11)

So there I am, end of the year, with abundant ovaries, the word of the Lord in my head, His promise in my heart and the doctor’s 8% chance in front of me. I was feeling confident.

We did IUI #1 in December. Everything went smoothly. We found out on Christmas day that it didn’t work. I wasn’t pregnant. We were devastated.

In January we learned that our church was doing a 21-day Daniel fast for women who have been trying to conceive. I was so thankful and humbled. I know that prayer changes thing so a whole church praying and fasting? Amazing. All month I kept saying that I felt their prayers. I couldn’t explain it, but I felt a peace.

We tried IUI #2 in January. Again, everything went smoothly, but we both didn’t expect it to end positively. After our Christmas disappointment we were definitely guarded. The doctor told me to take a pregnancy test on January 21– the last day of the church-wide Daniel fast– so I did and the faintest of faint lines showed up. You almost couldn’t even see it. I showed Jason and we both cautiously shrugged and said we’d test again the next day. We just couldn’t bear getting our hopes up (false positives tend to happen in IUIs due to the hormones that you take). I told a friend who was certain I was pregnant (“A line is a line!” she said) and she ran over with more tests which I took almost as soon as she left. About 3 seconds after taking the pregnancy test two dark lines appeared. I seriously couldn’t believe it. As in I didn’t cry, didn’t scream. I just starred at the test in disbelief. I’d walk by the test every 30 minutes to see if it was real, to see if the line was still there. Could it be?

Almost 4 years of waiting can make it hard to believe that your time has come.

But here I am, 14 weeks pregnant with morning sickness, a growing middle and printouts of ultrasounds on our fridge door excited to say that YES, I am definitely pregnant! The reality has finally sunken in and we are truly overjoyed! This baby has been prayed into being and so we know that he or she is so special. Our miracle baby! And there is NO DOUBT that while we used medical help to conceive this child, God’s hand was at work throughout the whole thing. We can say with confidence that the prayers of our friends, the fasting of our church and God’s word being alive and active is what conceived our child.

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I know that some of you are still waiting for your own miracle baby so to you I say don’t give up! Set your eyes on the Lord and His promises. Claim them for yourself and believe that what he has done for others he can also do for you! He doesn’t pick favorites! God is forever faithful. I know — oh how I know — that the waiting is so hard and sometimes you feel like you are overlooked. But God has not forgotten you! He knows the desires of your heart and wants to give you good gifts. Please let me know if I can pray for you.

I also urge you to find a friend or two who can share your burden. I can’t even begin to tell you how much it helped to know that we had friends and family who not only knew what we were going through, but were praying for us and believing with us. And the best part is that when I became pregnant, our miracle became their miracle. Our joy became their joy. So don’t go through this alone.

Thank you, to everyone who has prayed for us and believed with us. Your faithfulness has helped us stand when we were weary and believe when we should have doubted.

Currently: 14w2d pregnant!

Cravings: Caesar salads, watermelon and junk food chips (like doritos) — an improvement over my early cravings of bagels with cream cheese, chicken fingers and tacos. 🙂

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