Nest for the StellaB

One day out from moving back to the good ole US of A, and I figured maybe it was finally time to put some pictures of the Beaner’s nursery up. For posterity, you know.

It seems surreal that Stella is nearly one year old, and it breaks my heart to leave this place so soon. It wasn’t what we had planned, but it is what is happening.

So, one last look before we go.

IMG_6962Stella’s crib. Hand-built by her Daddy, with oh-so-much-loving care.

IMG_6965

IMG_6969 The crane mobile. Hand-folded origami birds + sticks. I love it, and Stella does, too!

IMG_6980

Michael’s mom made the gown above her dresser for her going-home-from-the-hospital outfit.

IMG_6975

The camel is from Egypt, and the puzzle from Ethiopia. Both gifts from my little sister who lives in Africa.

IMG_6983

IMG_6989

More paper magic with the chain of yellow flowers.

IMG_6990

IMG_6996

We bought this little wooden animals in Bangkok back when we thought StellaB was a he, not a she. My friend Cat made the “Jesus Loves Me” artwork.

IMG_7003

I adore this rocking chair. (Michael isn’t as in love as I am, but he just doesn’t know what he’s missing out on.)

IMG_7005

All the artwork are free downloads from Vintage Printables.

IMG_7010

And that, friends, is StellaB’s room!


Stella’s Birth Day

IMG_5293

We met her on a Wednesday evening, after 23 and a half hours in the hospital and months (years!) of anticipation. It was the most amazing day of our lives and, seven weeks later, I sometimes still have to pinch myself to believe we don’t have to give her back.

Stella was born two days past her due date and, so I can remember, here’s how it happened. (Fair warning: this is long!)

I didn’t do the whole “birth plan” thing but I did have an idea of how I hoped it would happen: go into labor (a couple of weeks early would be ideal as that worked best with our schedule), spend a large part of early labor at home, go to the hospital and voila! meet baby. Although I wasn’t totally set on it, I had hoped to deliver without drugs and I wanted to avoid induction and definitely do anything possible to stay away from a C-section. “The best laid plans” and all…

The day after Stella’s due date we went in for my 40 week checkup. Michael came with me as I knew they were going to do an ultrasound and we would also be making a plan for what to do if yet another week passed and Stella still hadn’t arrived. You of course can’t truly tell until things get started, but my body was had shown no signs of imminent labor and I knew my doctor wouldn’t let me go more than one week overdue. I really wanted her to come on her own so, even though Dr. Allen was willing, I wasn’t going to induce until I had to at the one week over mark.

We started our late afternoon appointment with an ultrasound. Things looked a little off–her size had not gone up as anticipated, and my amniotic fluid was lower than expected. Also Stella’s heartbeat had dropped to around 110 (120-160 is normal), which was not a scary level but again lower than usual. I didn’t think too much of this, though, until we got in to speak with Dr. Allen. She cut straight to the chase: she wanted to send us to the hospital for a medical induction. This was not what I had imagined her saying at this point but Dr. Allen was clear that, although everything was fine at the moment, she did not want to wait another week. She felt my body was no longer doing a great job at supporting the baby and, since I had already passed my due date, the best thing was to get Stella out! This wasn’t how I had pictured the day going but when there was any question of your baby’s health, all plans go out the window. (Including dinner: Michael had to call and cancel with the two couples who were on their way to our house for a pizza dinner that night!)

We went home, showered and ate, and got to the hospital just before 9 that evening, where they started me on cervidil, a drug to help prepare your body for labor. We got a couple of hours of sleep that night and the next morning around 8.30 my doctor came in and broke my water. Shortly after, they started a pitocin drip (the drug that actually induces labor).

Once we found out that my labor would be induced I basically gave up any thoughts of going natural as I knew that induced labor contractions are even stronger than natural ones, but I still tried to hang in there until my body reached a certain point at which the chance of a C-section would decrease. While pregnant I did lots of reading–probably too much!–and I knew that interventions (from induction to epidurals) in the process of natural labor increase your odds for a C-section. The baby’s safety and health is the most important, but that was an outcome I really wanted to avoid if possible. However, after about 5 hours of labor, things weren’t moving along, I was in a lot of pain, and my body was shaking violently in between contractions and not allowing me a chance to recover, so we decided it was time for an epidural. The anesthesiologist arrived an hour later and ohmygoodness, that epidural was amazing. In 10 minutes I went from labor that felt pointless since it wasn’t getting us anywhere to total relaxation and watching Wimbledon!

I truly believe this was the right call for us as my body finally started to do its thing. I think I was too tense and stressed about the whole process and, for me, the epidural allowed my body to relax and work. At this point I also had my mom come and visit, which helped calm me down and reassure me. Michael was amazing but my mom had done this (four times!) so her presence and experience was a huge blessing. After a few hours things stalled again but our amazing (!!!) nurse moved my legs around and put my body in a position which was known to help move things along.  My body started shaking uncontrollably again during and between contractions, my doctor was worrying about my progress, and a hot spot (where the epidural wasn’t effective) had developed. They re-upped my epidural and, just as they finished, noticed on the monitor that “something” was happening. In a matter of 30 minutes, things progressed very rapidly and it was time to deliver!

Thirty minutes later, little Miss Stella B made her grand entrance. It was the most miraculous thing I have ever been a part of. There are no words for the feeling of meeting your child, this person you’ve carried and loved and prayed for and gone through so much to get here.

I am also so thankful for the hospital where we delivered. It is what is called a “baby-friendly” hospital and after Stella’s birth they immediately placed her on my chest and I had an hour of uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact with her. This has been shown to have all sorts of positive effects for the baby, for instance regulating their body temperature, and it was one of the sweetest hours of my life.

We are so unbelievably thankful for this gift we have been given. She is the sweetest blessing and we experience God’s goodness in her every smile, coo, cough, and even cry.

IMG_5296

IMG_2760

IMG_2759

IMG_5317

IMG_5359

IMG_5392


Stella Blythe

Born Wednesday night, June 26th, at 8:28 p.m., weighing 7 pounds even.

We are in love.

 

 image002

image001


Celebrations

We are just days away from the due date on baby watch, and sadly (for me) there is nada to report. Soooo since my main occupation this week is staring at my tummy and waiting for something to happen, and that has led to exactly nothing, I thought I would post some pictures of the various celebrations we’ve had for little Stella since getting back to the States.

First was the Sylacauga shower. It was such a fun time to gather and give thanks for this little girl. One of my mom’s friends pointed out how special the time of prayer was as many of the women in the room that day have walked with the Lord for decades and decades and I certainly agree.

IMG_2566

With the hostesses–such a special group of ladies. Most of them have been in my life for 20+ years!

IMG_2599My mom, my great-aunt Emily, and my Aunt Donna. This side of the family has seen only girls for four generations now!

IMG_2595Mary Emily is in Ethiopia but she left behind a present before she went. Can you tell that at that time we were all expecting a little boy and not a girl!

IMG_2585My mom made a touch-and-feel book for Stella. I’ll have to post pictures later because this book is truly a work of art!

The next week I headed to Tuscaloosa for a gathering with my close group of high school friends (minus one who lives in Atlanta and couldn’t make it). It was definitely a celebration of little Stella, but also an amazing excuse to get together and catch up. Unfortunately I can’t get my pictures to go any bigger but we had SO much fun talking and laughing. I am truly thankful to have this group of friends in my life!

friends3

We think we’re still 16–but taking this picture is a lot harder at 30 (and pregnant!) than 16.

friends

IMG_1603I thought this was the cutest thing! My friend Andi put together this  diaper holder (no idea what to actually call it) and clipped a verse to each diaper. She said that way I can have a mini-moment of meditation each time I have to change yet another dirty diaper. Then she also had all of my friends write notes of encouragement (or just random silliness) on the diapers to make me laugh or just remind me of them as I’m changing. So thoughtful!

Finally, here are pictures from the most recent shower in Chattanooga.

IMG_6715With (most of) the hostesses. Let me tell you, Pinterest has nothing on these women!

IMG_6696

IMG_6699

IMG_6693

IMG_6707

We were so amazed that Grandmommy, Michael’s maternal grandmother, made it up from Huntsville for the shower!

IMG_6714With my mother-in-law Beverly and sister-in-law Suzanne.

IMG_6718 Michael didn’t stay for all of the shower but he put in an appearance to nab some Auburn swag.

We have been truly grateful for and overwhelmed by the love and generosity we have received from so many in this special season of our life. Stella is a well-loved little girl and we are so incredibly grateful for the many who have helped us to prepare for her arrival!


A rose by any other name

Stella Blythe Gregory: she’s not here quite yet, but we can’t wait to see who she grows into.

Shakespeare wrote that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but I come down with L.M. Montgomery, who opined the Bard had it wrong: a rose called cabbage wouldn’t, couldn’t, be as sweet.

To me, words matter. The sound, the shape, the emotions evoked by a string of them put together just exactly so. And names? It’s the ultimate in finding the perfect word for the occasion: a baby’s name has to fit them their whole life, wear well, ought to have some meaning or reason behind it. Michael and I are not exactly simpatico when it comes to naming tastes, but the process of settling on what this little person will be called for the rest of their days was one of the most exciting parts of pregnancy for us. Perhaps also a little stressful…but mostly fun.

Some history on the name game for our Stella: she gets her first name from Michael’s paternal grandmother, the original Stella. We think the name is beautiful (it comes from a Latin word meaning “star”), and are thrilled to honor Michael’s MawMaw, who is more fun than anyone in their upper-80s has a right to be. If little Stella gets one-quarter of her great-grandmother’s spirit and joy of life, she will be one happy little girl.

IMG_1636

This picture was taken this summer when we were in Alabama visiting MawMaw. In Michael’s case, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree!

Stella’s middle name, Blythe, has been one of my very favorite name for years. The dictionary defines blithe as “joyous, merry, or gay in disposition; glad; cheerful.” We wish all those things for our little girl, and it’s certain she has already brought joy and gladness into our lives by her existence.

My sister, Mary Emily, has already dubbed little Stella “Stella B” and Michael has taken to it–we’re not planning on the double name thing but I think Baby Stella will hear Stella B maybe half the time.

I can’t wait to see who this little bit grows into!


(almost) 38 weeks

For some reason, I feel more than a little silly writing a pregnancy update on the blog…but dang all, I want to remember details so here goes. We start with a nearly-38-week bump. Voila!

38week

I’ve been in America for literally months now, since early April. We have many American friends who have delivered their babies in Asia, but for us there was not much debate: we always knew we would come back to the States for at least our first child. There are many reasons for this, one of the main being that it was not medically advisable to deliver in the city where we live. This meant our options were flying (at least a month ahead of the due date) to a large city on the east coast or to Thailand, both places where we have no friends or family. After the birth we would again have to wait at least several weeks (depending on if we were in or out of the country) for processing of birth certificates, passports, visas, and etc. Not only could this quickly get expensive as we factored in housing, but it would also be emotionally very difficult to be isolated during this unique time in our life.

We spoke with many, many families who have been through similar decisions and the consensus was that it is highly advisable to have the first child in the mother’s home country. The last thing you want is a stressful labor and delivery where you are struggling to communicate and understand what the doctors and nurses are doing to you–especially when you don’t truly understand what to expect yourself!

Another, not minor, consideration was being around family in this season. Of course, they will want to be with us but (let’s be honest, more importantly) with their grandchild. I personally want my mom to be able to help me out and show me how to do the myriad daily tasks that come with a baby! This summer, we are living in Chattanooga at Michael’s parents’ home. They will be at their nearby lake house for most of the summer, and have graciously allowed us to make their home, ours. This is great for many reasons, the biggest being that Michael and I will have the opportunity to get used to being a family of three. My family will be able to freely come and go for visits (like they would if we lived in the States), and we will also spend lots of time with the Gregory clan. Chattanooga is also where we lived for two years post-marriage, pre-Asian return, so we still have friends in the area, which makes life lots more fun.

When exactly we will be meeting this little one is currently the subject of all my waking thoughts. My regular doctor was out of town this week and the guy I saw didn’t do more than check the heartbeat, so I’ve no idea where things currently stand. At my 36 week appointment, she had started dropping and was already measuring a week and a half ahead of schedule–but these things are so subjective at the end that there is really no telling when to expect her. Michael is proud as can be because apparently this little girl is looking to be quite tall. He’s already talking of volleyball or tennis, though I keep reminding him that the poor thing has my genes as well as his so athletics might not be a big part of her life.

Since our very early ultrasounds, our doctors have talked about what an active baby we have, and that doesn’t seem to have abated. I don’t have anything to compare it to, but this little girl packs quite a punch. We thought that would slow down as the due date neared, but so far she is still kicking and squirming and pumping away in there. Sometimes her little jabs are quite painful! I’ve also reached the phase of pregnancy where I grunt when I stand up (just as attractive as it sounds) and where getting out of bed in the middle of the night (which happens often) requires a lot of effort. While I am so incredibly thankful to BE pregnant, honestly, the actual state of pregnancy is not on the list of my favorite things. We are hoping very hard she comes a little early. I’m ready to meet her (it seems ages since the teary-eyed morning I saw two lines)!–and it would also help a lot as we have a limited time frame to get her passport and visa processed before our already-purchased flights back to Asia. Unfortunately there’s not a lot we can do about it as we really don’t want to induce unless it becomes medically necessary.

Let the waiting continue!


Joy

This weekend was fun, that’s all there is to be said.

Sweet friends in our city showed so much love to us and baby girl with a shower to celebrate her little life. It was pretty much perfect by my standards: yummy food, good friends, and the sole activity was decorating the most adorable little onesies for her. (Well, that and prayer.)

I feel so thankful. I could say it a thousand times, but it still doesn’t seem to come close to expressing how much I really mean it. So, so, so thankful.

IMG_6470

Getting to work: Cat’s mom is  visiting from America and graciously brought in the plain white onesies, the stencils, and some iron-on appliques. I’m biased, but I think it’s basically the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.

IMG_6492

These friends are all girls who plan on being in the area for the long haul. Sweet Kelly (far right) even took the train in from a near-by city for the weekend! I’m really grateful to have each of them in my life as consistency is very much the exception and not the rule to our lives in Asia.

IMG_6467

Mrs. Aughtman (Cat’s mom) demonstrating how it’s done.

 

IMG_6478

Cat, Kelly, and Kayla. See the photos strung up on the TV? They decorated with some cute pics of baby Michael and me. Note to self: toddler Michael had some really cute, chunky legs. I hope little girl gets that.

IMG_6491

Amanda and me, with Kelsey kind of photo bombing in the background.

IMG_6494

My American friends who live in the neighborhood.

IMG_6483

And Kelly (doesn’t she look pretty?), crafting a masterpiece of a bib with all of our thumbprints starring as flower petals. Aren’t my friends creative?