I had the honor of sharing the stage with some incredible women of God this last Mother’s Day at Grace. My message focused on our identity and how we can live out our lives with boldness and confidence in who God says we are.
When you're pregnant, and even before, you hear so many different stories about what Mother's experienced as they delivered their little miracles. Some of the stories are beautiful and inspiring, while others are (let's face it) a little terrifying and downright scary. So going into the week leading up to my delivery I prayed (a lot!). I asked that God would give me courage and strength. I asked that everything would go smoothly and we would both be safe, but I honestly didn't fear too much for either of those, as I knew He'd take care of His girls. I was more consumed with my mind in the situation. I knew my body was made to do this, and it would hurt, and all of the other good (read: not so good) stuff. But I didn't know how my mind would react. Would I be elated with joy and so overwhelmed that I wouldn't think on the pain? Would I be so overwhelmed with fear and anxiety that I missed the beauty of it all? I didn't want the latter, and so I prayed. I prayed that I would be present, that I would take it all in, and that I did.
Here's the story of Owen's Grand Arrival.
The week before Owen was due I went to my Doctor's office for my weekly checkup. She checked everything out and said that she expected her to be with us that week... like in the next couple of days. She said there was something she could do (I'll spare you the name of what she did) that would ensure that Owen would arrive within 24 hours. She asked if I wanted her to do it, and I hesitantly agreed. I say hesitantly because 9 months of my life had built up to this one question and in that moment I determined that our little girl would be in our arms the next day (big questions right?!). So I said yes, of course. I got in the car and started crying. I was SO excited and overwhelmed at the thought that she was really going to be here, in my arms, looking at me, completing my heart. I text Elisha and said "she'll be here in 24 hours". Ha! Surprise!
I went home and my Mom was there, equally as excited as I was. I made sure our bags were all good to go, and we waited. We had bought movie tickets earlier that morning and so we decided to go ahead and go. On the way to the theatre I began to feel contractions, they were slight but steady, so I began to count. I counted throughout the entire movie and logged them into my phone. By the time it finished and we were driving home, the contractions were closer together and a bit more uncomfortable. Elisha asked if I wanted to go to the hospital and I said no, thinking we needed more time to make sure it was happening.
We went home and I just sat on our bed counting. I was so nervous that we'd go and it wouldn't be happening, and then I'd be disappointed/embarrassed and have to come back home. I wanted to be certain that I was going into labor. I called my doctor and she asked about the contractions, and then suggested that I go ahead and head in. I agreed.
So off we went to the hospital and every movie scene I've ever watched of women going into labor began to flash before my eyes and I remember thinking, "this is really happening. I'm going to have a baby. I'm going to push this tiny human out of me and I don't know if I'm actually ready for this." Nerves began to kick in at this point. Every time I had a "what if I can't do this" thought, Elisha would quickly reassure me that it was going to happen, she would be healthy, and I was going to do great.
We arrived at the hospital at around 11pm, Thursday, June 7th. They said my contractions weren't quite close enough to consider me in active labor, however my doctor was certain she was coming soon enough that they went ahead and admitted me. Elisha walked me around the hallway for the next hour. We moved slow and talked about random things, laughed together, and stole food from the kitchen pantries (not really, it was there for us to take).
It was a sweet little moment where it was just the two of us - our last for a little while.
Once I went back to my room they hooked me up with all the things and ran the tests. They told me to try and get some rest, but I mostly laid there watching tv and listening to Elisha sleep. I kept my hand close to my belly, taking in every movement of hers, as I knew these were our last moments like this. It all felt pretty surreal still. At around 5am things started to get more real. The contractions were coming in steady and the pain was persistent. I went ahead and got my epidural and this is where things went a little "unplanned". I should say that by this point, I'm in crying pain and very ready for my epidural. As it was getting put in, it felt a little "off". I can't explain it, but I felt like something wasn't quite right, but since I'd never had one I didn't think I was one to judge what was right or wrong.
The next few hours I began to feel numbness all over, which was a sign it was working, except for one spot along my left abdomen. This felt like a dead spot for all the pain of the contractions to be felt in their entirety. It was awful. I want to sugarcoat it, but it is what it is, and it was awful. My entire body began to shake uncontrollably, like intense shivering that went from my fingers to my toes. I couldn't think straight I was in so much pain. They tried rolling me over to my side to have an injection of morphine go straight to the spot. This provided a short respite of relief, only to return soon after. They tried adjusting where the epidural was placed which again only offered momentary relief. Finally the last resort was to insert an entirely new epidural. Dear. Lord.
And so they did. I clung onto my nurse and cried as she prayed over me (she was an absolute angel!), and they did another epidural. I prayed that this one would take. My body began to receive it and numbness fell over the left spot (Praise God!), but then the pain came, to the center of my abdomen, where all the contractions were being felt yet again. The spot had shifted. What?! How?! I don't even know and neither did they. And I thought the first time hurt, oh my word, this was so much worse. I couldn't form full sentences, the shivers were making my body come off the bed, and through chattering teeth I told the nurse I had to deliver now.
They called the doctor and she checked me out. The nurse told her I couldn't wait and so the doctor said we could start. Thank you Jesus! I began to push, and as I did the pain began to lessen, as my entire left leg went completely dead numb (like I would've guessed they had cut it off). Good to know the epidural finally kicked in, ha! As I began pushing I kept my eyes closed, so focused on getting our little girl earthside safely and quickly. In between pushes I would gaze up at Elisha who looked utterly amazed at what was happening, as he assured me that I was "doing so good", and telling me how he could see her. Seeing her through his eyes was the best, and is still my favorite thing to do.
I pushed for 20 minutes and she was here.
At 11:14, Friday, June 8th. Our crying little angel girl was placed on my chest and I repeated "Mama's got you" over and over again until she calmed and lay there with me. And truly truly truly, in that instant, it was all worth it. I would've done it all over again a million times just for that moment of holding our girl in my arms. There was no pain that could overshadow that sweetness.
The nurses cried as they watched Elisha and I marvel at what Abba had created. She was (and is) perfect.
We were utterly amazed.
They cleaned her up and our friend had arrived to capture our first moments with her. My parents were outside just dying to come in and see her. We welcomed them in and there it was, pure joy filling the room. Years of expectation met with God's faithfulness.
We kissed and fawned. We ooed and awed. We took in every little bit of her until it was time for them to move us into our new room. And I should mention that I could still not feel my left leg. It would remain completely and totally numb until midnight. Other than that, my recovery went quite smoothly.
We would spend the next day welcoming family and friends, the people who would love our little girl for years and years to come. I didn't sleep much, but I didn't mind.
I had all that I needed in that little hospital room.
I finally understood what it meant to be "full". My heart, my entire being, my life... was now full.
I'm now 30 weeks and feeling more preggo than ever. It's becoming more and more challenging to fit this bump into my go to outfits, but it's a joy knowing that our sweet babe is growing healthy. I've found that dresses are the way to go this final trimester. They allow me to be the most comfortable and give me a sense of being put together, with little effort. My two favorite styles right now are fitted dresses like the one I'm wearing above, and maxi dresses. This red dress was included in my BellaNove Box this last month and I loved it for so many reasons. I wouldn't say I'm really a red kind of girl, as I prefer more neutral colors, but this color was so wonderful and made me feel really great! The fabric was nice and soft, so I didn't feel suffocated. And it highlighted all the right places - I got to show off my bump without feeling too "out there". It was great all around and I would have totally kept it in my closet if I could have!
For those that don't know, BellaNove is a subscription box that rents stylish maternity clothes. Which is honestly perfect for pregnant mamas needing cute clothes, for the few months their actually pregnant. There's no real sense in investing a ton of money into a wardrobe you can only wear for nine months, so this is an excellent alternative! I really enjoyed my experience and found that every item they sent me fit seamlessly.
BellaNove has been so kind as to offer a 10% off discount to my readers for the first monthly subscription box! Y'all can use the code "PIE10" for 10% off - enjoy!
* this post is in partnership with BellaNove.
This weekend my beautiful friends put together the sweetest shower for our sweet girl. It was so overwhelming to be surrounded by such wonderful women who already love our girl so well. She is just SO blessed and I’m so thankful that God has brought such outstanding friends and family to our lives.
I’ve been praying that God would allow our girl to have great role models. Reflections of who He is and representations of strength, love and grace; women who are examples of what beauty looks like. I want her to see sweet sisters, loving mothers, giving aunts, comforting grandmothers, joy-filled friends, faithful pastors, and bold daughters. I think God has given us just that community and what a blessing it is.
I love this dress so much! Maxi dresses have been my go to these days with this growing bump. Comfy and cute are the way to go y’all! I’m hosting a giveaway on Instagram for a $75 Pinkblush giftcard, so head on over and enter! The giveaway will end on Friday, the 13th. Good luck!
I love feeling comfortable. I live for moments where it's ever so cool outside, light rain maybe, and I'm wrapped in a warm fuzzy blanket that feels like the inside of a rabbit's ear, with my pup snuggled up next to me, and my husband cuddled by my side on our cozy couch... like that is what I live for. I LOVE feeling comfortable. This is the image I think of when I consider being comfortable; like being in a space where everything is right and I have no worries, or agitation, or fears, or wonderings, but my being is at peace.
And yet, so many times throughout scripture and in leadership lessons we're warned to not remain comfortable. Why? Why can't we just live in this sweet state of being where nothing is wrong and we're cozy as can be?
I've lived most of my life in a state of discomfort. I've endured many seasons of valleys and deserts, but grown and learned through most of it. I've learned that my feelings do not dictate God's presence, and my emotions play no part in who God is or what He is capable of doing. And so in moments when I am uncomfortable, I can rest assured that God is in fact still very much the same and not in any way shape or form affected by my current state. I however, am very affected by my discomfort. I often fight it, I complain and I kick or holler, but in the midst of my fighting, God is preparing my blanket on the cozy couch for the moment when I'm able to join Him.
While I may know that these seasons of discomfort are for my good, I am human, and so I run from them, or rather sit in place and refuse to run (anyone else?). Sometimes in my mind it seems easier to remain in the comfort of what I've known or trusted, then to go out into the unknown or unchartered territory. But how many know that fighting God's will is rarely the "easier" way. And so eventually we must resolve that the temporary discomfort is well worth the struggle, in order to receive the consistent comfort of knowing we are walking in alignment with God's will.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. | Romans 8:18
It's in seasons of discomfort that we move. We can't very well move when we're planted on a comfy couch, let alone have the desire to do so. It's in seasons of discomfort that we learn. We learn all about who God is and all about who we are; the stuff we're truly made of. We can say all day long we have faith and we believe in a miracle-working God, but until we can put our money where our mouth is, they're just words. Discomfort allows us to exercise our faith. And so, it's in seasons of discomfort that we grow. We grow towards the heavenlies and we grow deep into the soil of our foundation. We grow towards becoming the women (or men) of God that He has called us to be. Discomfort is actually better than comfort. I know, it seems backwards. But for me, it seems as though one is our fight and the other our reward, though both are good and healing for us.
Comfort allows us to rest in God's presence and recount the ways He moved. Discomfort allows us to get up off our seat and actually live the stories we'll recount in later days. And so, let us not discount the season of discomfort we may find ourselves in today. It is building for us a greater glory to come.
"He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber. The Lord himself watches over you. The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade." PSALM 121
All the best, Mel
I pray our girl is strong. Strong like a warrior going into battle. Strong like an oak tree that’s not concerned with taking up its space; growing upward towards the sky and deeply into the soil. Strong enough to withstand the pressures of this world; knowing that while she is a gift to us here, she was made for somewhere else entirely. Strong enough to grab ahold of what she believes in without doubt or insecurity. I pray that she knows her strength can be both bold and delicate; both calming and fortifying. That she would never have to choose between strength and meekness, and that neither would be confused for what they are not. I pray she is strong for herself and for others; that she would stand in the gap for those who may not have the ability to be strong for themselves. I pray she is strong because the world needs strong women - women who lift others up, who stand up for what is right, and who hold tight to what is true.
I pray that her strength would know no bounds, like the vastness of the oceans deep, both wild and open. That no fear, no insecurity, would ever rob of her of her role here on this earth but instead, with strength, she would lay hold of every dream and promise given to her. Yes, I pray she is strong, and I pray that God would make me strong enough to raise a strong woman like this.
The other night I was asked what has been most unexpected since getting pregnant, and I've been thinking on this for a few days now. I think I've landed on the following: I never expected to take on motherhood so early on. That is to say, I didn't expect to feel like a Mom before I held her in my arms.
There's a beautiful, deep connection that I have with her, that has truly transformed my perspective, my priorities, and my personhood, even now. I have felt new depths of love and heard God's voice in a unique way, that I know I wouldn't have before. I didn't think this would happen while I was pregnant and thought all the change would happen all at once when she arrived. But the truth is, in so many ways it feels like she's not only here now, but always been with us, like this promise written on my heart that I've carried unknowingly.
This whole experience has been beautiful to say the least. Difficult? Absolutely. But, I'm used to challenges and thankful for the fruit they produce. I know that there is still so much more to learn, and glean, and experience, and I welcome it all with open arms.
We took a visit to the beach this weekend and I loved that our sweet girl got to be with us. I can't wait until she's running around in her bathing suit, chasing Gretchen around! I wore this dress from Pink Blush that fit my bump so perfectly. I love finding dresses that make me feel good, and this is definitely one of them.
Our sweet girl will be here in 99 days (or less!) and it's just blowing my mind!! We're out of the triple digits and the reality that we will soon be caring for this new little life is both overwhelmingly exciting and just a tad bit nerve-wracking. I don't know how "prepared" one should feel at this point, but I'd imagine I'm right alongside most other new mamas.
We've been gifted several gems for her and I am getting so excited to start putting her nursery together! I have a sweet space designed in my head and I can't wait to see it come together; which it will in time (I have to keep reminding myself). We still need to find our house, and move into it, and get everything settled in... in 99 days (or less). I know it can be done, and I know it will be done, and so instead of worrying I spend my time daydreaming of our sweet little lady.
Now more than ever, I am reminded that no amount of preparation, planning, or stressing truly makes a difference in how things turn out. That's not to say one should not plan or prepare, just not dwell on them. Some things just happen; as they should. This is one of the most beautiful seasons of my life, and instead of trying to fight or push past the current, I am embracing it and floating along. The good will come, the tough will come, and I'm gonna make it through all of it.
Philippians 4:6-7 says, "Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus."
I'm learning how to pray and thank Him. I've always done these things, but I feel like the depth of my faith is growing in new ways as I learn to fully relinquish control. It's scary, but very satisfying in knowing that I don't have to carry a heavy weight, and it's pleasing to God. This whole Mom thing is already teaching me so much, and I feel like there are a million more lessons in front of me. Here's to learning and growing!
DETAILS | top c/o Rosie Pope, yoga pants/Target, sweater/Altared State
I can't believe how fast time is flying. I am nearly 6 months pregnant and I am amazed that in 112 days we're going to hold our baby girl in our arms. Like, what??
I'm not sure at what point I'll feel the full transformation into Mama, but I must admit that I've noticed subtle shifts taking place in my heart and spirit. I think of her so often, and I imagine what our new little life will hold. I dream of the sweet things and I admittedly am anxious for the things I have no idea how I'll face. I look forward to the challenges that will grow me as a woman, as a wife, as a Mama, as a daughter of God... I welcome it all. I know it won't be easy, but few pieces of my story have been.
I've been writing letters to our sweet girl each week and it's become my most treasured time spent with her. I have plans to get it bound for her to keep and grow with. I want to be intentional with all that I do, but I know that undoubtedly I will fail at times. I will fail to take in the moments, to stop and watch her grow, to be at the things that matter, and to not take for granted each day. I know life will get busy and I will be human. But, I set out to do my very best; to be everything she deserves. I can't wait to be her Mama and help her to become the beautiful woman of God I know she is called to be.
There is no real purpose in me writing this today, except that I may need to revisit it at times. In the moments where it is challenging or difficult, in the moments where I lose sight of the important, or when I simply need a reminder of how sweet a season this is.
I had the privilege of speaking to our students last week at Grace Youth, on the topic of Purity. My message focused on the importance of drawing boundary lines in our lives, and how doing so allows us to live a life of purity. Drawing lines allows us to live in the most that God has for us.
To see more from our Thirsty series, visit us here.