Graham is two months old!

Graham,

It’s hard to believe you have been ours for two whole months! The day you were born our world was forever changed. Before you were here we read all the books and bought all the things. We knew we had no idea what parenting would be like until you were here, but we sure did try to prepare the best we could. Despite our best efforts we still felt very unprepared when we loaded you up in the car and headed home from the hospital.

I guess that’s the thing I see now, you can’t really ever prepare for your life to take on a whole new meaning. You don’t even know what you’re preparing for. Of course there were many late night Amazon orders for things we forgot, but I think perhaps what we were most unprepared for was just how you would change our lives in all the best ways! We love you so big little one.

The last two months have held some of the most challenging days. Becoming parents is hard, becoming parents in the midst of a global pandemic is very hard. We’ve had lots of people cheering for us from afar, but not too many here helping us with the messy parts of new parenthood. Trust me they would be here, if it wasn’t for this pandemic. So mostly it’s just been us, and in many ways I think of it as a blessing. To have had nowhere to go, no one to host, no unsolicited advice, nothing to distract us from you. Just us becoming a family.

We have all come a long way in a short time. You’re becoming your own person right before our eyes, and your dad and I are learning as we go in our new role as mom and dad. You’re starting to smile and interact with us more everyday, and it just melts us both into a big puddle.

You have brought immeasurable joy to our home. You were the brightest light for us, in what was a very dark year for so many. I hope you will continue to shine that light into our lives forever my love. We love you more than all the stars in the sky.

Here are a few highlights from your first two months:

Three days old – meeting your Aunt Jody

Three days old – meeting Bertie girl

Four days old – meeting Dadima and Grandpa

Four days old – first trip to the pediatrician

Six days old – first stroller ride

Six days old – Mom and Dad’s first solo outing (Chic-Fil-A obviously)

Ten days old – your first sink bath

Two weeks old – Daddy went back to work

First solo day with Mommy

You started sleeping in your crib in your room

Your first Christmas

Two weeks old – what meeting friends in the time of Covid looked like

Three weeks old – first road trip to the beach – during our trip to the beach is also when you figured out the difference between day and night! Thank Goodness!

Three weeks old – first time on the beach

First New Year’s Eve at the coast

One month old – you started smiling

Five weeks old – fresh out of your first big boy bath

Six weeks old – Aunt Jody came again to help Mommy get her second Covid vaccine

At six weeks your smiles were more intentional and just the best thing ever for us to see. Between six and seven weeks we finally fell into a bit of a routing which was a huge success for all of us!! As our schedule became more predictable we start to venture out with you a little more also.

Six weeks old – first brewery

You got new reflux meds and started only waking up once during the night at seven weeks old!

Eight weeks old – first trip to the vineyard

Eight weeks old – Carolina beat Dook for your first Tobacco Road rivalry game!

Bertie has been everywhere you are for the last two months!

Graham’s Nursery

I just love how Graham’s nursey turned out. One of the best things about not working as much during 2020, was that I had the time to enjoy preparing for our little one. I thought a lot about how I wanted his room to come together and was able to create a space that I think is just perfect for him!

One of the best things about his nursery is all of the things from our childhood. My mom saved EVERYTHING. I remember not that long ago, thinking, what on earth am I ever going to do with all this stuff! Now that she isn’t here all the things are extra special. Most of the books on his bookshelf are from both mine and Sean’s childhood. Lamont the Lonely Monster is Sean’s childhood favorite. The wooden rocking chair belonged to me as a kid. The needle point is something that I found when I was going through all of the stuff that had been saved. My mom did it in 1985, so when I was about a year old. I took it and had it framed so there would be a little bit of her in his nursery. The print above his bookshelf is one we picked out from Brian Andreas. I had a special print from him in my room as a kid that my mom bought on a girls trip to Asheville, NC and I just love the sayings on all of his artwork.

The stained glass lamp on his bookshelf is one that my mom made. It’s been at our beach house for years, but I decided it was the perfect little night light for his room and brought it home. The green in the lamp was starting point for the whole room. I had a bluish green vision, with a little bit of an ocean theme. I think it came together perfectly!

Amber did a great job capturing the room when she did our newborn photoshoot!

Graham’s Newborn Photos

I could not love the newborn photos that we had done more! Graham was nine days old. We were oh so tired, but falling more in love with him by the second. Of course Bertie girl stole the show per usual. He has already grown and changed so much since these were taken and I love having them to look back on! We booked them several months before he was born with Amber, and as the day approached we thought about canceling or trying to take them outside due to Covid. We totally trusted her but just felt like having her in our home when we weren’t allowing any other visitors might ruffle some feathers. It was miserably cold, so the outdoors just wasn’t an option. We ultimately decided that since we trusted her and couldn’t get the time back to have them done to go ahead with it. She was super safe and we are so thrilled to have these!!

2020 Year in Review

2020. What a year. What a ride. Because (fingers crossed) there will never be another year like this, here’s how our 2020 went down. While there were many lows and many unexpected events on this roller coaster of a year, we were fortunate to have many highs too.

January 3 – My last day at my job. I left work and went straight to get our Bertie girl.

January 6 – Started my new job. Beyond excited to have finally found a new opportunity using and learning new skills, and very hopeful for the future with the company.

January 17 – Bertie’s first trip to the beach

January 25 – Belated friends Christmas celebration. Everyone catches the flu and unbeknownst to us it would be the first and last friend gathering of 2020.

January 31 – Recover from the flu just in time to road trip to Morgantown, WV for the weekend. Bertie’s first night in a hotel. Front row seats to the basketball game.

February 18 – Fly to Destin, FL for training for my new job. My only air travel of 2020.

February 28 – Old Crow Medicine Show concert. Preceded by champagne and oysters and good times with friends. The last supper of 2020.

March 6 – Travel to the beach for the weekend. Blissfully unaware of what is happening in the rest of the world. Bertie’s first time in the sand.

March 10 – Travel by car to Macon, GA for my new job. Due to the rise in cases of Coronavirus my company has now issued a travel advisory for all employees so I’m unable to fly. To be honest, I shouldn’t even be there based on the travel restrictions issued, but my manager seems to think the rules don’t apply. While in Georgia the world seems to take a turn for the worst. COVID-19 is now rapidly spreading and we have no idea what’s coming. My last meal in a restaurant for months is at a Zoe’s Kitchen in Macon. My last trip to the gym in 2020 is also at a hotel gym in Macon.

March 17 – Last day working in the office. The world had changed almost overnight. We are now starting to realize we’re in a global disaster, but with a barrage of information both reliable and not so much, we don’t know what to believe or how bad things truly are.

March 20 – It becomes apparent we’re going to be on lockdown. We stock up on groceries and plan to be in the house for a few weeks.

Sometime in late March – The new job I had been elated to start has turned out to be a disaster. The lady I’m supposed to report to has died. My new manager is awful. After working from home for several weeks I’ve had no communication from anyone at the company about anything. As 2020 is taking a turn for the worst so is this job.

April 1 – I am convinced I am pregnant but refuse to take a pregnancy test on April Fool’s Day.

April 3 – I confirm my suspicion. I am pregnant. I am all. the. emotions.

April 17 – I am furloughed from my new job. In a short month the job has become almost intolerable. I love the work, but the people are miserable and I’m honestly relieved to have a few weeks away to come up with a plan.

Sometime in late April – With no communication from my new job and no clear end in sight for the furlough (and now knowing I’m expecting a baby and the situation with the pandemic is worsening) I ask for my old job back. Friends this is why they tell you not to burn bridges. You never know when a global pandemic will hit and you will be thankful just to have a job.

April 27 – My first big girl house is sold. After being on the market for less than 48 hours in the height of lockdown I received an offer. A few weeks later we go to the closing, and just like that, I’ve sold my first home I bought for myself.

May 4 – The first doctor visit. Beyond relieved to see that our little nugget is thriving. Still feeling all of the emotions.

May 15 – After nearly two months in the house and going absolutely crazy for a change of scenery, we hit the road for West Virginia prepared to tell Sean’s family our big news. On the way we call and FaceTime my family members to let them in on the secret.

Sometime in late May – Things finally start opening back up. What started as a two week “safer at home order” has now surpassed two months. I’m finally able to go back to work part time at my old job. With millions of people out of work I’m thankful to have the chance to go back to work.

May 22 – We decide to brave it and head for the coast for Memorial Day. With the car loaded down with food and essentials we make it with no issues. While we can’t venture out much, it’s wonderful just to be somewhere besides our own house.

June 3 – We go back to the doctor to check on our nugget. Everything looks perfect and we elect to have genetic testing done. We will be able to find out the gender early from this testing.

June 5 – Our trip to the coast the previous weekend went so well, we decide to do it again this weekend. This time we celebrate Sean’s birthday with our friends at their house in South Carolina. We spend the weekend by the beach and the pool and enjoy takeout from some local spots. Because I’m still not working full time and Sean has some extra time off we extend the trip and head to our beach house for a few days. While Covid has upended everything, it’s nice to have the extra time to relax.

June 8 – We’re in the car driving to pick up takeout for dinner and the nurse unexpectedly calls with our test results. She says the genetic testing came back perfect and that she has the gender. I put the phone on speaker, and in the most uneventful way we find out we’re having a boy as we drive down the road. We’re both elated to find out he’s healthy!! We spend the evening eating our takeout and calling family and friends to share the news!

June 26 – Having not seen friends in months we head back to the beach to meet up with my college friends. Over the past weeks it’s become clear that socializing outdoors is much safer, so we spend the day on the beach with them.

July 1 – Back to the doctor to check on the nugget. We have our anatomy scan that confirms he’s a boy and he’s healthy!

July 2 – We head back to the beach to celebrate the Fourth of July. What’s normally a rowdy weekend, with the town full of tourists, a huge festival, partying, and fireworks turns into a quiet weekend on the deck with just the two of us.

July 24 – We go back to the coast for the weekend. I’m now halfway through the pregnancy and we’re ready to make our news public.

July 31 – We close on the beach house. While it’s been in my family for years, and we’ve had the good fortune of being able to enjoy it basically whenever we want. It is now ours. And this feels good. To be honest the beach house has been a huge part of our sanity up to this point in 2020 and I can’t imagine not having this safe escape this year.

August 4 – Four days after closing on the house a Category 1 storm comes ashore. We did nothing to prepare since we’ve made it through Category 5’s with no damage. The storm spun off a water spout that came onshore as a tornado and made its way directly up our driveway. We were fortunate to have only a huge limb across the deck, but the town saw more damage than I’ve seen in 20 hurricane seasons.

August 28 – I am 25 weeks pregnant and celebrate my 36th birthday by going out to eat at a restaurant for the first time since March.

September 21 – We celebrate our first wedding anniversary with P.F. Chang’s takeout and Gigi’s cupcakes at home.

October 3 – We celebrate the baby Zoom style with Sean’s family. The perk of the Zoom celebration is that the family from across the world gets to join us.

October 8 – Back to the coast! We stay several nights and decide this is our “babymoon.” It’s not the trip to Hawaii we imagined, or even the back up trip to Arizona or Colorado we thought would be possible when covid first hit, but we’re thankful to still have a healthy nugget and a happy place to get away to. We enjoy our second meal out at a restaurant since March. I can’t believe it has been nearly a year since we were at our favorite beach restaurant, and we’ve essentially missed their entire season this year.

October 24 – We celebrate the baby with our friends at another Zoom shower along with a drive by shower. We had hoped to have a small celebration in our backyard, but with everything opening up cases are rising and it’s just too risky. Luckily we found a way to celebrate somehow!

October 29 – Hurricane Zeta comes ashore at the Gulf Coast and makes its way north. Because it’s 2020 they’ve run out of names for the storms and started using the Greek alphabet. It’s nearly November and we’re without power for almost two days from a hurricane.

November 1 – We celebrated our Bertie girls first birthday!

November 5 – My coworkers surprised me with another shower for baby boy! It was really special since it was the only real “party” we got to have for him!

November 7- Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are finally announced as President and Vice President elect. I cry buckets thinking about what this means for little girls everywhere!

November 10 – I have surgery to remove basal cell carcinoma from my forehead. Keep it coming 2020. Skin cancer are you serious!? Wear sunscreen friends.

November 16- At 36 weeks pregnant I am offered a new job. I cannot believe it.

December 6 – Our baby boy, Graham William, is born. He is the spitting image of his daddy and perfect in every way. We are so lucky to have had this bright light to bring us through 2020.

December 22 & 23 – Christmas comes early this year in the form of a COVID vaccine. Sean got his the 22nd, and I got mine on the 23rd. I cried happy tears getting my shot!! We waited all year for this and to be among some of the first to get it is a huge relief! It seems fitting that my first solo outing with Graham was to get my shot!

December 25 – We celebrate our first Christmas with Graham! He gives us a Christmas miracle and sleeps well the night before. We enjoy our day at home, with just the 3 of us and of course Bertie. We’re in the thick of the newborn phase so we have boxed macaroni for Christmas dinner!

December 31 – Graham goes on his first road trip. We ring in 2021 at the coast with steak and lobster takeout from our favorite restaurant and drink champagne we brought home from France. Graham sleeps through dinner and I don’t know of a more perfectly 2020 way to end the year than at our favorite place, reminiscing about past trips and celebrating what’s to come for our new little family of 4.

I am looking forward to 2021. While 2020 was a tough year for everyone I feel so lucky to have had the greatest joy of all to close out the year! Wishing you and yours a better 2021!

Christmas 2020

We had Graham’s newborn photo shoot done when he was nine days old. Since it was so close to Christmas and our house was all decorated we decided to change outfits and get in a few Christmas shots. As usual Amber did a great job with our photos! The last few pictures I took of him, because I couldn’t resist the Santa outfit. I mean can you even with him under the tree?! We had the most wonderful time celebrating Graham’s first Christmas. It was just us, at home being lazy and honestly I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. Wishing you the very merriest this season!

Graham’s Birth Story

December 5th started out like a pretty typical COVID Saturday at our house. We were up relatively early, and I received an email that I had some paperwork I needed to print and sign rather than e-sign for the new job that I plan to start after the baby comes. For some reason, I said to Sean we should go ahead and take care of this just in case I’m not able to on Monday. We went into his office to print and sign everything. After that we went home, and picked up Bertie to get some breakfast and go for a drive.

We grabbed McDonald’s and then drove around looking at different neighborhoods and just chatting. This has become our social outing in the pandemic. As we were heading home, mostly because I had to pee (again), I noticed I was getting a headache. It seemed to get a bit worse as we continued driving, so after we got home I decided I should check my blood pressure. It had been completely normal all of my pregnancy, but sure enough it was elevated. Having that along with the headache made me really nervous for preeclampsia, but I wasn’t having any of the other symptoms. At Sean’s insistence I decided to take some Tylenol, lay down and try to get some rest. The Tylenol did nothing for my headache, and I continued checking my blood pressure all afternoon. It would go down, only to come right back up. I tried taking a bath to relax, tried taking a shower, tried drinking tons of water, tried eating some lunch and nothing really seemed to help. After about 6 or 7 hours of this I called the on call nurse and we decided it would be best to go to the hospital to get it checked out.

Her last picture as an only child, taken on our Saturday morning drive.

Our bags had been mostly packed for awhile, so we grabbed the last minute items, and loaded up the car. As we were heading out the door, Sean decided he needed to water the Christmas tree. Wouldn’t you know it overflowed and we had a huge mess. We quickly cleaned up what we could and left the living room in a mess with packages and tree needles everywhere. We dropped Bertie off with our neighbor and headed to the hospital.

After getting to the hospital we were taken right to a triage room and were seen right away by a nurse, medical student, and a fellow. The first thing they did was to give me some medicine for the headache, which helped quite a bit. Then they wanted to monitor my blood pressure for a while. At first it had come down into the normal range and they considered letting me go back home, but then it came back up again. After a few hours they decided it was best for me to go ahead and have the baby. They paged my doctor to let him know they were admitting me and we were taken to a delivery room to get the process started.

Our nurse Tina was quite the character. She was a little kooky, but she was an amazing nurse and took such good care of us overnight. One great thing for us was that I had been tested for COVID on Friday (in preparation for being induced on Tuesday) and the results had come back negative on Saturday. Because of this Tina said she felt comfortable with me not wearing a mask. This was such a huge relief.

Doctor Thompson showed up around midnight to get things going. He had wanted to give me a medication for my cervix, but due to hospital protocol he wasn’t able to. Apparently I was having contractions that they could measure but I really wasn’t feeling them and the hospital doesn’t allow the medication to be given if you’re having more than a certain amount of contractions per minute. So he had to place a cook catheter and hope that would start labor. I had dialated to 1-2 cm already but, he said it could be up to 12 hours for it to work, and likely if I was lucky the baby would come in about 24 hours. It wasn’t the most comfortable thing in the world and I did start having contractions that were painful shortly after it was placed. We discussed having an epidural and he gave the go ahead to get it whenever I felt like I wanted it.

At some point during the night the contractions subsided and I was actually able to rest a little. Because the contractions had stopped I was able to take the medication for my cervix at about 5:00 am. They prepared me for this to take some time to work, and then later in the day I would start pitocin to induce labor. After I was given the medication Tina said I would have to be mostly in the bed because I needed to be monitored continuously, which was a bummer because the contractions I had earlier in the night were much more tolerable when I was up moving around.

Not long after taking the medication I was experiencing major contractions. By around 6:15 or 6:30 they were nearly unbearable. Sean told me to call Tina for the epidural after I had a contraction that lasted for a full two minutes. Of course, it was also about to be shift change for the nurses, and I wanted to make sure I had what I needed before Tina left. She came right away and seemed a bit surprised that I was asking for it so soon. She checked the catheter and it came right out.

After that Tina didn’t say too much, but our room got really hectic for a little bit. The anesthesiologist showed up and started the epidural right away, and then a few other nurses came in. It seemed like there were papers going everywhere and they were hanging drugs on my IV in a hurry. I had no idea what was going on but I could tell something was up.

Once the epidural started working and the nurses had everything under control Tina told me that I had dialated to 7.5 cm in just over an hour so it wouldn’t be long before I had a baby. This had shocked me (and apparently everyone else too) as no one was expecting it to progress so quickly.

My epidural was great and stopped the pain immediately. I know lots of women do it without, but for me the epidural was the right choice. I went from being miserable to actually laughing during the delivery. I also remember everything and felt very present because I wasn’t in pain. I could still mostly control my left leg but my right became dead weight. There was one small spot on the lower left side of my back that I could still feel the contractions, but otherwise I could feel almost nothing.

Just before go time!

The next couple hours were sort of a blur. I continued to progress quickly and sometime around 10 the nurse said it was almost time to start pushing because I was at 9.5 cm. Around 10:30 am I started pushing, and about 90 minutes later Graham was born at 12:05 pm.

He was immediately placed on my chest and it’s amazing to me how from that moment on I had almost zero awareness of anything else going on in the room. The doctor finished doing his thing and while I knew what was happening it just didn’t seem to register. We spent the next couple hours in the delivery room, while they checked out Graham and did his measurements and initial shots, and waited for my epidural to start to wear off.

The nurse was so sweet, she took my phone and did a photo shoot with Graham
Dad’s first time holding his son!

Once things had calmed down in the delivery room, Sean left to go get Jersey Mike’s subs. I had been craving a huge sub for months and it was everything I dreamed it would be, especially after not eating for so long.

Following this we were moved to our room where we would spend the night. After being up most of the night before and finally being moved to this room in the early evening I was ready to try to get some rest. The hospital offers a special meal to the new parents that was delivered for both of us shortly after we got in the room. If I’m being honest it wasn’t great, but it’s a nice gesture. Graham slept on and off through the night and so did we. The nurses come and go so often because they’re checking vitals and different things that it’s really hard to get any sleep.

24 hours old – fresh out of your first bath
Dressed and ready to go home!
Headed out of the hospital!
The sunset your Grandma Francey sent to welcome you!
Buckled in for your first car ride home from the hospital!

The next morning people started coming into the room pretty early. Once my doctor came in to check on me we got the all clear to go home that day if they could get everything done for Graham. This meant that Monday was exhausting. The pediatrician, the nurses, the lactation specialist etc. were coming and going from the room all day. By late afternoon he had passed all of his newborn screenings, had his first bath, and we were all set to go home. It still took forever to get discharged and we didn’t get to leave until early evening. We had the most epic sunset out our hospital window just before we left, which if you know me, you know I took it as a sign from my mom. So definitely worth waiting for! The staff took great care of us, and it may have been nice to stay one more night, but we were ready to bring our boy home!! When we got in the car to leave “Home” the song by Daughtry was playing on the radio. I hadn’t heard that song in years and it felt sort of serendipitous to hear it as we headed home with our Graham! When we got home we had a huge steak dinner delivered! Graham slept through dinner and as we ate and watched him sleep we just couldn’t believe he was finally ours!