When Things Don't Go As Planned

Motherhood is a choice you make everyday, to put someone else’s happiness and well-being ahead of your own, to teach the hard lessons, to do the right thing even if you’re not sure what the right thing is... And to forgive yourself, over and over again, for doing everything wrong.
— Donna Ball

"You'll know the difference," the nurse told me, unhooking the fetal heart rate monitors and wrapping up cords that had been tracking my contractions for around an hour. My midwife came in with her sweet, mothering eyes and big Italian personality. It's why I fell in love with her - sincerity with a dose of sarcasm. I'd seen her in births before: gently stroking a laboring mom and giving a pep talk that was 50% reassuring and 50% 'you're doing this, or else'. We shared a few laughs, talked through her upcoming schedule - as I was insistent on seeing no one else - and we were on our way. Off we went, into the night with my contractions still coming in melodic waves, washing over me before finally settling down.

For weeks it continued. I went through the final weeks of my pregnancy in near silence, staying close to home and trying not to verbalize my complaints as my patience wore thin. I ripped out the front flower bed in the house we were renting and replanted, reorganized boxes of baby clothes, and generally avoided sitting or working on the computer for anything more than a few minutes at a time. I was determined it would be any day now. My days were filled with strong contractions I simply learned to cope with, sharp pain and tearing fascia that kept me awake at night, and a little guy growing bigger and bigger as the days wore on. I walked. I cleaned. I waited. 

I was two weeks overdue and heading into a weekend that my midwife was certain to be out of town. We had already rescheduled my induction for the following Monday, sure that my body would take the steps in labor in its own time. Friday morning, feeling frustrated after yet another uneventful week, we went on a hike in a nearby nature preserve in the 80 degree, Florida fall weather. I hiked along the trail alone, feeling the usual strong surges and quieting my mind with thoughts of the future. We climbed into bed that Friday night, ready for another restless night. James dozed beside me and I tried to calm my body and use my breath to trick my body into sleeping through the steady waves of contractions. 

After about an hour, I felt a snap. No pain, just a jolt like a rubber band pulling apart. I reached behind me to tap James' shoulder until he awoke. As he jostled himself awake, I calmly told him, "I think my water just broke," and slowly attempted to stand. I think I was afraid a giant rush of fluid would hit the ground like when Phoebe is getting ready to go to Atlantic City and they all rush her to the hospital after her water breaks all over Monica's apartment floor... (For the record, yes. My concept of labor and delivery will forever be jumbled up with 90's movies and early 2000's sitcoms no matter how many "free yourself" meditations I do preparing for birth.)

We fast forward through the awful 45 minute car ride to our hospital (I really loved this midwife, remember?) in which I thought my whole lower body was going to internally combust and I would die right there in the car while James gently touched my hand and tried to remind me of the breathing techniques and meditation we had practiced...

When we arrived at the hospital, I was feeling completely worn out. Taking those post-water-breaking contractions sitting down and confined to a tiny car was about all I could take. Once up and moving, I could breathe my way through and everything seemed like it would be okay. Enter triage: in which I was strapped to a bed with fetal monitors and once again unable to move and thinking I would die from the pain... Do they not realize you are in labor?! Everything in me screamed to move, but the pain took over and I wanted to crawl into a ball and squeeze my eyes shut until it was over. I felt as if months of preparation were slipping through my fingertips. 

Later, I would sit across from the angel sent to me during my dark and scary early weeks of breastfeeding and mourn these moments. After relishing in the warmth and love that comes with a newborn baby and helping me through the practical issues, she listened as I recalled the hard stuff. The moments when expectations broke, when I thought I couldn't, when I changed plans and it still didn't give me the relief that I was seeking, when I felt trapped and confined but had to live with a decision, when my body 'failed' me at breastfeeding, the overwhelming first 24 hours in the hospital when I was I was told I would never nurse un-aided, the hours dragging on when all I wanted to do was take my little family home and rest in the newness, the weeks of unsuccessful breath feeding and fighting to hold on and get a stable milk supply...

You know, I had planned on sharing Beck's birth story. But who needs another detailed rendition of someone else's labor? It's such a beautiful, deeply personal thing. One that should absolutely be written down, celebrated, or committed to memory. But that's not really the point anymore. I want to just stop and say something to the new mama's out there.

To the new mom whose pregnancy, labor, delivery, early days/months didn't as expected or planned, you are not alone. If everything felt broken in those early moments, grieve them. Take time to write out the pain and disappointment. Give it over; then, let healing take over. Let newness and peace take its place.

I struggled with what I expected and hoped for and what my reality was in my birthing experience and in the early weeks with a newborn. I don't want to share every detail of our birth story. Not now. I just want to extend the same hope and space for healing that was given to me and hope that this is meant for someone reading.

I was hard on myself as a new mom. But I'm learning to let that go and let grace take over. I found healing in pausing to grieve these experiences before moving forward. I found healing in a community of moms that said, "I've been there too," or "You've done great. You are doing great."

Motherhood is damn hard. It's a good thing we're not in it alone. 

Just look around. The world is full of life-giving, strong, loving, understanding mothers.

We're never going to be perfect at this motherhood thing.
We might as well find the strength to forgive ourselves and keep loving these beautiful creatures we call our own.

Pregnancy is Weird.

Pregnancy is such a weird thing.

Swooping you up and down through waves of joy, pain, anticipation, frustration, boundless energy, deep discomfort, moments of absolute contentment and days of wanting to crawl out of your own skin. 

Meanwhile, you are completely attached to a tiny little seed of life, taking root and sucking every ounce of energy from your exhausted body. Suddenly, without warning, comes a breath of relief and you think, "Oh, this isn't so bad..." But wait, another wave is sure to take you under again. 

Pregnancy is Weird | kate&co.

I think what I've found is that patience, perseverance, and long suffering is taking root in me. 

Just when I think I can't take another moment, grace takes over. A new perspective is found; an encouraging word received about finding joy in the midst of discomfort or trials. 

So today, I'm giving over to that space. The grace-filled, joy in the hard stuff, finding contentment space. I'm looking up and saying thank you. I'm looking in to discard fear or anxiety that's unexpectedly taken root. I'm looking forward to the weeks ahead and savoring rest - even if it is painful.

Because this miracle that's being done within me and through me isn't really mine at all. I didn't breathe life into these tiny bones within. It's in His timing and in His hands.

Encouraging Reads for the Momma's

During the first few weeks of pregnancy, I found myself searching almost daily for encouraging blogs to read and essays on motherhood. I'll blame my increased intake of all things written word on the onslaught of hormones that kept me glued to a pillow for 8 weeks - unable to watch moving images (read: binge on Netflix) or spend much time working on the computer.  (Side note: What's with the pregnancy websites out there? I think Americans are conditioned to instantly need to research everything related to pregnancy the moment we find out... and what a load of negativity and scary information lies right at our fingertips! I had to turn that off quickly and get back to truth. Can anyone else relate here?) Sometimes all you need to get through the rough patches is a little dose of, "Hey girl, I've been there too," and an honest, beautiful essay on love or motherhood.

I spent the majority of those early weeks in a tiny bedroom on the 4th floor of our Chinese apartment, where I could escape the smells of the street and even our own kitchen. The first few days after finding out I was pregnant, I was convinced we had a gas leak. I couldn't walk near the kitchen without becoming overwhelmed by the smell of our propane tank - kept in a closed cabinet with a small rubber hose connecting it to our little two-burner stove top. When prompted, no one else in the house could smell the gas, let alone believe the smell was strong enough to make me flee from the room. But escape from the smells also meant a lot of alone time. A LOT. 

As the summer heat crept into the our bedroom and settled for the afternoon with nothing but a fan to keep it at bay, I napped and hoped for the months ahead. With nothing but four white walls to look at, I kept myself sane with my iPhone open to the blogs below, the SheReadsTruth app, and a quickly diminishing supply of books on my nightstand. From practical to thought provoking, truth-filled and challenging to inspiring, I hope the following bring you a dose of encouragement...

Encouraging Reads for Moms to Be | kate&co.

1. COFFEE + CRUMBS: Filled with beautifully crafted personal essays on from a community of women on motherhood, love, truth, childhood and (occasionally) heartache. The essays published are often very vulnerable, but loaded with encouragement. 

2. VAL MARIE PAPER // BLOG + THE FINISHING SCHOOL (COMING SOON!): Val is a small business owner (holla!), mom to an adorable little girl, and the author of a series of beautiful prayer journals and an upcoming book 'The Finishing School'. Her blog is packed with tips for creatives and small business owners, personal reflections on her life, goals and motherhood, and an ever-expanding list of recommended books to add to your own reading list. 

3. MOTHER: Highly curated and style-oriented, Mother is made for the modern momma. From posts on the latest products to more serious articles on health and childhood development, Mother is fresh and thoughtful. One of my fave features: a weekly post called 'the Motherload' packed with links to everything motherhood in the news, psychology, and even pop culture.

4. VALLARINA CREATIVE // BLOG: Valerie's blog is near to my heart. I'd been following her on Instagram for some time before we found out we were expecting. She's due about a month before us. Especially while I was sick in bed - terrified to tell anyone at home for fear that we'd lose the baby - her vulnerability in everything from their pregnancy to finances and beyond have been a constant source of encouragement. 

While we're all unique in our interests and seasons of life, I hope one of these blogs resonates with you and you're able to draw some inspiration from their posts.

One final recommendation for the road: if you haven't read this personal essay 'Babies Ruin Bodies', then take a moment... So worth the read!

Welcoming Baby "C" // Mount Dora, FL Newborn Portrait Session

This sweet boy made his entrance into the world just 3 short weeks ago.

Last Sunday, I joined Corey & Rhea for portraits in their home and met their son for the first time. Soft afternoon light spilled over the room as I quietly watched our friends - as if transformed into parents before my very eyes - patiently tending to their little one.

With the arrival of our son just 2 short months away, I couldn't help but watch Rhea in awe. With grace, she approached each cry and gazed at her boy with love that overflowed into each gentle touch. She is beautiful to behold - a mother who nurtures and cherishes her little one through and through.

I often joke that my time is consumed these days working on growing a baby. But even as he is knit together day by day, I'm the one being transformed. Slowly but surely, God is weaving motherhood into my bones, settling my impatient heart, and guiding me into dreams of the future with our little one. Meanwhile, He brings along beautiful glimpses into the lives of other momma's as they walk through the same season of transformation. Rhea's graceful transition into motherhood was a such sweet reminder of just how beautiful His preparation can be.

Joy spills from Corey and Rhea as they watch over their little one. I hope you can feel the love that I experienced in their home... 


Welcome to the world, little one! We can't wait to watch as you develop your own unique gifts & encourage you along the way...