Campbell’s Birth Story

I found out around 35 weeks that Campbell was breech and that’s when the idea of me having to have a c section first came about. The option of having an ECV scared me because of the risks of placental abruption and intrauterine stroke, and then I found out at my 36 week ultrasound that I wasn’t a candidate for the procedure anyway because of her size (she was measuring 8 pounds 3 ounces at that point). I thought because of her measuring so large at 36 weeks, my doctor would go ahead and schedule my c section for sometime around 37 weeks, but because I didn’t have high blood pressure or gestational diabetes or any “medical reason” to do it that early, it was scheduled for July 14th, at 39 weeks.

The night before my scheduled c section, we took Landon and Harper to stay with Grayson’s mom and dad. It was so hard leaving them, not because I worried that they wouldn’t have a great time with their MiMi and Papa (because they always do), but because I knew things would never be the same again, and that their little lives would change forever when we were all back together again as a family of five. Change is hard, even if it’s a change you’re so, so excited about. I thought back to when we dropped Landon off the night before Harper was born and how I cried and cried… but their relationship is sweeter than I could have ever imagined and I am so glad they have each other. We really did give Landon the gift of a lifetime by giving him sisters, and I know that in time, they will all have a sweet, special bond.

Since I wasn’t allowed to eat or drink after midnight, Grayson and I went to Waffle House at 11:00 the night before. Everyone we told this little plan to just laughed because, honestly, is there anything more “Katie and Grayson” to do? If you know us, you know! Two all-star specials, please.

The morning of my c section, Grayson went to football practice while I “slept” as late as I could (I am a morning person but I laid in the bed and drifted in and out of sleep and prayed and thought all the thoughts and felt all the feels as long as I could since I couldn’t get up and drink any coffee). I got up, took a shower, and when he came home, we left for the hospital. I had to be there at 11:45 and my surgery started at 1:45.

When we got checked in, they listened to the baby’s heartbeat on the monitor while they started my IV, did an ultrasound to make sure the baby was still breech, and then took me back for the spinal tap. Grayson was dressed in OR scrubs and my Mama and my aunt Rhonda were there to kiss me and we all prayed together before they rolled me into the OR.

I wasn’t prepared for how emotional I would be going into the OR. The last time I was in an OR was last September, when I had to have a D&C after our second miscarriage. I couldn’t have stopped the tears if I’d tried, because those feelings were accompanied by overwhelming gratitude for how the Lord has brought us through and given us the answer to so many prayers and also anxiety about the surgery and excitement about meeting Campbell and just all the things…

Nothing could have prepared me for what was about to happen, no matter how much I’d read or tried to educate myself about what to expect when having a c section. The spinal tap didn’t set just right and I could feel more than I was supposed to be able to feel during the c section. They did the spinal tap and pinch test and made the initial incision before Grayson was allowed to come into the OR, and I was so relieved to see his face beside me when he came in. I was telling the nurses that I could feel certain things and they were telling me I shouldn’t be able to and asking me if I wanted to go to sleep and I was begging them not to put me to sleep because I wanted to be there and see her right when she was born and not miss anything. But, because she was so big and because of her positioning, she went up towards my rib cage when the doctor was trying to pull her out and one of the nurses had to push with all her weight up at my chest and I couldn’t breathe and was completely suffocated by the pressure and I started crying and hyperventilating because I couldn’t even get my breath enough to tell the nurse sitting at my head that I couldn’t breathe. I finally was able to say, “she’s crushing me!” and that’s the last thing I remember before they put me to sleep.

When I woke up, Grayson was holding Campbell and she was ready to nurse, so she nursed for the first time and we did skin to skin until we were able to go back to my room. Mama and Rhonda were waiting and it was such a sweet moment. Campbell was so alert and looked right into my Mama’s eyes like she knew exactly who she was. The next several hours were a blur of happy tears and skin to skin and lots of nursing. We couldn’t get over what a great little nurser she was already or how much she looks like Grayson.

About 8 hours after my c section, when the nurse came in to remove my catheter and I was about to get up for the first time after surgery, I started hemorrhaging and they called the doctor back in and she determined that I needed a blood transfusion. She was having to mash on my stomach and try to manually remove the blood clots, which was excruciatingly painful. I was screaming and Grayson was holding Campbell and we were both so afraid. I hemorrhaged after I had Harper but they were able to get the bleeding under control with shots and I didn’t have to have a blood transfusion. After about half an hour of that, which felt like an eternity, my doctor decided that she wasn’t going to be able to get all the clots out like that and that I couldn’t endure any more of the pain, so I needed to go back to the OR and be put under anesthesia again for a D&C.

Grayson went out to the waiting area to tell my Mama and she came in and prayed over me right before they took me back. It took about three hours and by that point, it was the middle of the night. When I finally woke up and they brought me back to my room, I nursed the baby again. By then, I had already had two units of blood. While I was in the OR, they did both the D&C and inserted a bakari bulb into my uterus to put pressure on the blood vessels to prevent further clotting. This felt like the foley bulb I had when I was induced with Landon (so, so painful). The next 24 hours were excruciating because of the combination of my stomach being SO sore from the doctor having to mash on my belly while trying to manually remove the clots, the bakari bulb and medicine causing contractions, and the contractions were even stronger while nursing. It’s normal to experience contractions after delivery, especially while breastfeeding, but this was way more intense because of the bakari bulb and medicines I was on to stop the bleeding.

This whole experience was so traumatic and scary and just not at all what I pictured Campbell’s birth story to look like. I think there comes a point where you just have to let go of what could have been and what should have been and realize that things just go sideways sometimes and there’s nothing you can do except be grateful because they could have always been worse. I am thankful for doctors and medicine and that they were able to save my life, and that Jesus was with me every step of the way.

The day before we left the hospital, Campbell’s bilirubin went up and she had to lay on the bili blanket. When they checked it again, her bilirubin had still gone up, so they brought in the lamp, too and she had to lay under that. Landon was jaundice, too, so this was somewhat familiar to us, and honestly, the least traumatic part of our hospital stay. We’ve been back to the doctor twice since we got home to check her levels and she’s regaining weight (evidently c section babies lose more weight after delivery) and her bilirubin is at a safe level again!

When we got home, Mama was at our house and had everything so clean and smelling so good and had a pretty sign on the front door. She had a big pot of spaghetti going on the stove and we were just so happy to be home. Shortly after we got settled in, Grayson’s mom and dad and sister and brother in law came and brought Landon and Harper to meet their new sister. Their reactions to her were just precious – better than we could have ever hoped for – and I’ll remember it forever. It felt so surreal to be home, all five of us. Grayson said it best… “our hearts and our home (all 800 square feet of it) are SO FULL!”

Thank you SO MUCH to everyone for the sweet messages, calls, cards, and meals. We are so overwhelmed with gratitude and just forever grateful for our community and how loved we’ve felt during this season of transition. We’re still very much learning to adjust to life with a newborn, three year old, and five year old (and as soon as we find our groove Landon will start kindergarten and things will change again) so we appreciate the continued prayers!

Presence over Perfection // 38 Weeks with Baby #3

Today I was playing in the pool with my babes and a woman came over to me (she was with a few other women) and said, “we’ve been watching you all day and I just have to know… you’re having twins, right?”

I was gracious and said, “no, just one baby, and I only have a few days left!” to which she looked genuinely shocked and said, “wow! You look just like a friend of mine who had triplets a few years ago! But don’t worry, she is tiny now!”

I could have said a lot of things in that moment. Honestly, I could have bit her head off or I could have busted out crying. Neither of those things would have been a big surprise at this point.

But now that I’ve had a chance to process this whole scenario, I have a few things I’d like to say (a little louder for the people in the back) 😅

First of all…. What is it about a pregnant lady that makes people forget their boundaries and think it’s okay to make comments about size and reach out and touch and pretend they know all the things? (Now, I’m not talking about friends or family… if you know me, you know I’m happy to grab your hand and say OH MY GOSH FEEL THIS when this sweet baby has the hiccups…. I’m talking about strangers.) If you saw someone who was obese, would you go up to them (when they’re in a swimsuit playing with their kids, nonetheless) and say, “hey I have a cousin who was huge just like you but don’t worry, they had gastric bypass and they’re tiny now.” Carrying a child doesn’t give you a free pass to make remarks on any woman’s size.

Second of all, I was pregnant 3 times in a year. I have carried 2 precious babies, lost 2 precious babies, and this miracle baby we will get to meet next week is worth every pound, every stretch mark, and every size up. I don’t want (or expect) to “get my body back” after this baby. “Don’t worry, she is tiny now” doesn’t spark hope in my heart that I can “bounce back.” It just makes me feel sad that there’s so much pressure on women to look like they’ve never carried a baby or been changed forever in ways so many friends I know struggling with infertility would be honored to know.

Lastly, I could be one of those moms sitting on the side of the pool too worried about my hair or makeup or just feeling too insecure to squeeze myself into a swim suit. But I’m not. At 38 weeks pregnant, I’m splashing around in the pool with the two greatest loves of my life because they’ll remember. They love me because I’m present, not because I’m perfect. I overcame that because there’s no freedom in that. I overcame that because slowly but surely, I’ve learned to give my body grace.

Not sure how to end this except to say that like only a few other things in life, carrying a child is sanctifying, holy work. There’s so much to learn through all of it. So many ways to grow. So much change. And my heart feels like clay in the Potter’s hand these days 😭❤️🙌🏻

Motherhood: the honor of a lifetime 😭🙌🏻

I hope when they’re all grown up and have babies of their own, they’ll remember slow mornings at home. I hope they’ll think of the light pouring in the windows and their Mama sipping coffee in an old bath robe. I hope they’ll smile over having all the time in the world to play with their favorite toys and watch their favorite cartoons. I hope they’ll look back on their childhood with a smile and know I treasured every minute of being home with them. I hope there are certain smells they’ll recall as reminders of home and always remember my lap as a sure, soft place to land. I’ve been feeling so overwhelmed lately by just how fleeting my time with them is, and although some days do feel long, what they say is true- the years are so short

Motherhood: the honor of a lifetime 😭🙌🏻

The Forgotten Letter & How Jesus Made a Way

Y’all. Jesus is so cool.

You might remember me talking about a male pre-op nurse who was with me before my D&C when I miscarried last September. His name was David and he (without even knowing if I was a believer) got down on his knees beside my bed, held mine and Grayson’s hands, and prayed one of the most beautiful, sincere prayers I’ve ever heard. It was the most beautiful, spirit-filled moment in the midst of such a hard, heartbreaking day and just had such an impact on me. I’ll never forget it.

I couldn’t stop thinking about it, so I wrote him a letter a few weeks later and was trying to figure out how to get it to him (I was afraid to mail it to the hospital because I was afraid it would get lost or just never make it to him) when I met a mom at the park while our boys played together. We got to talking, she told me she was a nurse, and come to find out, she knew David and worked with him a few times a week! I couldn’t believe it, and I told her that I’d love to give her the letter to give him, and she said that she absolutely would, and she knew it would mean so much to him (this happened sometime in October).

Well, time passed and although we exchanged numbers, we never got together for me to give her the letter and I eventually just kind of forgot about it.

But last week, I was cleaning out my van and found the letter under my seat. So, I started praying that I would find a way to get it to him and tucked it into the glove box.

Meanwhile, I was selling some things in a Facebook group and a girl messaged me to buy one of the dresses. I recognized the spelling of her name and realized it was that nurse I had met at the park all those months ago! So, today when she picked up the dress, she got the letter to give to David and we just laughed in wonder at how amazing our Father is to work things out in His perfect timing. I don’t know what David is going through right now, but maybe there’s a reason God allowed me to get this letter to him at this specific time.

All this to say, that Jesus cares about the details and I love to see a prayer come full circle like this. He’s a God who makes a way, who goes before us, and who works all things together for our good and His glory 😭🙌🏻

Dusty Ceiling Fans + The Unseen Work of Motherhood

My husband and I are ceiling fan people. We never turn it off; let alone try and sleep without it. In fact, there is only one light switch panel on the wall in our bedroom, and it doesn’t even have two switches – which is fine… because it’s not like we’d use it and give the poor thing a break. The only time we turn it off is once in a blue moon when I decide it’s time to clean the blades – something I, admittedly, don’t do nearly often enough.

I am here to tell you, that if you leave a ceiling fan on 24/7/365 and then turn it off, it’s going to resemble a wild animal. Dust somehow clings to the blades that are spinning around at a thousand million turns a minute and it grows and leaves you with quite an ugly mess that, if you’re like me, kind of makes you wish you’d never turned it off to begin with.

So, a few days ago, I climbed up on our queen sized bed, pulled the string, and watched the blades as they slowed to a stop. Sure enough, the blades were covered in sticky, fluffy, grey stuff that was enough to embarrass me even though I was alone. We have the kind of fan that has removable blades (praise Jesus), so I took them down, one by one, let them soak in our bathtub filled with cleaner, gave them a little scrub and rinse, and laid them out to dry. As I was putting them back up, it dawned on me that this little task sure was a lot of work for something no one would even notice. I mean, if I hadn’t turned the fan off, no one would have been able to see the dust and it would have just kept spinning and everything would have been just fine, right?

I also hate getting the oil changed in my car. It takes time, sometimes you have to make an appointment, it’s expensive, and you can’t even tell you’ve done it. It’s not like a car wash with color changing lights and pretty soap where after $6 you come out in a sparkly silver Honda Oddessy ready to hit the Chick-fil-a drive thru in style. If you know, you know.

But, you know what? If you don’t clean your ceiling fan, you’ll be breathing air that’s less than fresh and eventually it will probably burn out the motor. If you don’t get an oil change… something bad will happen… I’ll ask Grayson and get back to ya on that one (haha). But, my point is that sometimes, I would even argue that most of the time, the unseen things matter far more than we can see in the moment.

Because I’m a visual person in an age of instant gratification, it’s hard for me to grasp the concept of doing things that don’t seem to make a difference. I couldn’t be more different than my sweet Mama in that way – because my idea of a “clean house” is everything looking spotless, and not giving a second thought to closets that erupt like volcanoes if you open them too swiftly. My Mama, who is full of wisdom and quite the perfectionist, has a much different idea of “cleaning.” For her, it starts in the silverware drawer, takes her to a perfectly organized linen closet, and so on and so forth. She does things from the inside out, and my tendency to do the opposite is something I have a feeling I’ll spend the rest of my adult life trying to overcome.

But like many wives and mothers who have gone before us, wisdom is earned and comes with years of experience. The unseen work of motherhood has paid off for those who have gone before us, and it will for us one day, too. Because although right now it may not seem to matter how many times a day we correct our children by saying, “yes mam” every time they reply with, “yeah” or how many times we practice the ABC’s in the car with our four year olds when we’d rather be getting lost in our favorite songs or how often we wipe little hineys and clean soiled sheets… it does matter. Motherhood is holy work and the unseen parts of it are meant to sanctify us and reveal to us even greater depths of our dependence on our Heavenly Father and how much He loves us, His children.

So, here’s to clean ceiling fans and holding tight to our Savior’s promise that He began a great work in us and will see it to completion. If He has called you to be a Mama, He will equip you and use you and the small seeds you’re planting right now will make a difference in the years to come.

My Favorite Spinach + Artichoke Dip

I just realized that I’ve somehow never shared this recipe here on Coffee Date With Kate before, and it has been a long-time favorite! I’m talking, I’ve been making this for at least 10 years and it never gets old! This hearty, warm dip is so easy to throw together and such a crowd pleaser!

Ingredients:

1 box of frozen spinach, thawed and drained

1 can of artichoke hearts, drained and chopped

1/2 container of chive and onion cream cheese, softened to room temperature

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 clove of minced garlic

1/4 cup onion, finely chopped

salt and pepper to taste

onion salt, seasoning salt, everything bagel seasoning (whatever you want) to taste

1 bag of mozzarella cheese (most of it goes inside the dip, but save a little to go on top)

1/2 cup parmesan cheese

Instructions:

Mix everything together in a large bowl, reserving about 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese to add to the top just before baking.

Spray baking dish (I use a round pie plate) with cooking spray, add mixture to dish, and top with remaining cheese.

Bake at 375 uncovered for about 20 minutes until cheese is melty and golden around the edges.

Serve immediately with tortilla chips or crusty bread. Yum!

End of year thoughts // 2020

My dear friend Meredith, who is a very talented photographer, takes our family pictures every year and I’m so grateful! It blows me away each year how much the kids grow and change in just 12 months, so I think it’s important to document and capture each season for us to be able to look back on one day.

Landon and Harper are about the same size, although 24 months apart, and we get asked if they’re twins all the time. They’re at a sweet spot in their relationship, where they love playing together and really just adore each other. They beg to sleep together at night, ask where the other is over and over if one is with the grandparents or if Landon is at school, and they love to snuggle up for morning cartoons or bedtime stories. I am so grateful for their closeness and I pray everyday that they’ll always feel a special bond and that Jesus will protect their hearts from unforgiveness, competitive spirits, and comparison as they grow older.

This has been a long, hard year – not just for us – but for so many families we know and love. So many of us have lost loved ones this year, watched people suffer from depression and loneliness, and watched beloved small businesses close their doors because of this pandemic and the economic shut down. There has been so much hate and division between the American people – because of racial tensions, opinions about the “best way” to navigate this pandemic, and of course… over the infamous 2020 election that has left our nation in limbo and left many of us frustrated and skeptical. People have struggled financially, carried more burdens than ever, and felt so much fear and uncertainty.

In so many ways, I’m thankful to see 2020 go. It’s not that I believe the calendar rolling over to January 1, 2021 will bring about any magical clean slate, but I do love the turning of a New Year because it’s a subtle reminder that it’s never too late to start over, that we’re never “too far gone” to begin again, and that His mercies are new every morning. I’m looking forward to 2021 with confident expectation of what the Lord will do. He’s a good, good Father – in the midst of the heartache, in the midst of the disappointment, and in the midst of the unknown.

I haven’t spent as much time writing as I’d have liked to this past year and so that’s one (of many things) I’d like to begin making time for again as we start a fresh, new year. I’m not a big fan of resolutions, but I do believe that it’s important and healthy to look back on the past year and assess areas where we can do better, for our mental, spiritual, and physical health.

Best wishes to you and your family as you finish out 2020 and welcome 2021, friends! And as always, thank you for reading and keeping up with my little family through the years.

“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

Isaiah 43:19

Matching Christmas Pajamas

Since we all need a little extra Christmas cheer this year, we decided to get matching pajamas and ya’ll… it’s just so much fun! I love these red and black buffalo check pajamas from Iffei. They are so soft and fit true to size. I was really pleased with the quality of these pajamas – they are made well and just perfect for lounging around the house, opening presents on Christmas morning, or snuggling up and watching Christmas movies!

Iffei offers so many cute pajama sets, it was hard to choose a favorite! Click here to see the wide variety they offer on Amazon.

Some of my other favorite styles:

These Christmas Vacation pajamas

These Elf pajamas

These “Mama Bear,” “Papa Bear,” and “Baby Bear” pajamas

Thanks so much to Iffei for providing the pajamas featured in this post. As always, all opinions are my own.

Count it all joy

Theres a big bulletin board hanging in my kitchen that holds so many memories… both recent and from what seems like a lifetime ago. I’m feeling so thankful for each of these people today- family and friends who feel like family- and for frozen moments in time that we get to remember with them forever ❤️✨

But, I wouldn’t be telling the full truth if I didn’t say that I’m feeling a little sad too. You see, this bulletin board hangs right beside our back door and the sunlight from the window has, slowly, over time, faded the ultrasound pictures I had hanging on it from when Landon and Harper were growing in my belly. I don’t mind that they’ve faded, I have more in baby books and between the crinkled pages of my Bible. But, as I was taking them down and rearranging and making room for new memories to go up on the board, I couldn’t help but wonder if I’ll ever have another ultrasound picture of a sweet little profile. I couldn’t help but remember the sound of Landon and Harper’s heartbeats and think about the hours I spent studying every curve on those little black and white images and praying over the people they’d one day become.

Grief. It hits you when you least expect it. When you stop to do a simple task between unloading the dishwasher and folding loads of laundry. When you haven’t even had time yet today to stop and think about the hurt in your heart. It creeps up quietly and suddenly, you’re thinking more about what you’ve lost than what you’ve been given. I stopped, stood back, and looked at this beautiful reminder of friendship and loyalty and growth and change and the Lord’s faithfulness and provision, and I chose joy. Of course, part of me is still sad. Part of me still has questions that will probably never be answered. But in the midst of it all, I choose joy. And whatever you’re going through today, you can too. Because just look at all we have to be thankful for. Let’s not miss it, friends ❤️😭🙌🏻 He’s a good, good Father.

Count it all joy and let Him carry you through.

From Shadows of Sadness to Warmth of Hope

It all feels so complicated. There are so many layers to grief. Today is the first day of October and for a few weeks in early spring, I thought we’d be welcoming baby #3 this month. Grayson was so sweet and so excited. He wondered if the baby might share his birthday. We talked about names. And then, I lost the baby. I suppressed the sadness and disappointment and just moved right along, justifying it by deciding that if I hadn’t taken a test so early, I might have not even realized that I was miscarrying and that it was so early, I didn’t even need to go to the doctor to be checked out. Fast forward several months and we were filled again with hope and excitement and awe and wonder over who the little person growing in my womb might be- only to lose yet another baby, twice as far along, and be left with far more questions than answers. I decided keeping it all to myself wasn’t the healthiest route, so I shared my story and was blown away by the outpouring of love and encouragement we received and by the number of women I know and love who have suffered in silence for years over babies they too have had the opportunity to carry in their hearts, but never in their arms.

This kind of grief is confusing and complicated. We can be so filled with joy, yet be angry and frustrated at the same time. We can ask God, “WHY?!” while in the very next breath, thank Him for what He’s given us and for His perfect plan that we know is for our good and His glory. This kind of grief is complicated because one minute we can be laughing and pushing our babies in a swing at the park, and the next minute completely overcome with the kind of ache only a mother who has lost a child understands when we see another mom nursing her newborn on a bench while watching her older kids play. We wonder if we’ll ever have that privilege again and feel heartache. And we thank Jesus that we’ve had that privilege before and feel honored. It’s complicated. It comes in waves and sometimes, it can be hard to see the sunshine through the trees. It can be easy to miss the joy because of the hurt. It can be easy to become more focused on the gift than the Giver. And that’s when we have to step out of the shadows of sadness, into the warmth of hope. We have to preach the Gospel to ourselves and remind ourselves that our Father loves us and can use heartache for good if we let Him. We have to talk about the complexity and overwhelming nature of the grief we’re sifting through and do the messy work of tilling our own hearts because it’s our own hearts that Jesus has entrusted to raise little disciples. Motherhood is kingdom work, and like grief itself- it’s complicated and messy and hard. But trusting Jesus to hold our hand and walk with us through it makes every step of the journey worth it. Step into hope with me today, friends. Whatever season you’re walking through, choose hope and cling to the Father.