Letter to Mary Mac

emersonTo my sweet littlest girl, Mary McLain,

Today at 10:38AM marks the time one year ago when you entered our world and changed our lives forever.  Although I carried you in my tummy for nine months, we hoped for you and prayed for you much longer.

On the day you were born, your daddy and I were so ready to meet you.  We were also very excited for you to meet your big sister, Emmy, whom we knew would be your biggest fan.  (It took her a little bit, but this did eventually come true!) We were admitted to the hospital for our repeat c-section that morning.  We were quite surprised you made it to our c-section date as you had grown so large we were certain you’d ran out of room! But this was not the case.  You were quite comfortable in my womb. Our obstetrician and surgeon, Dr. Bernstein, was exceptional that morning.  We chose to deliver you at a larger facility where a NICU was accessible, especially after I developed gestational diabetes and I knew there was a chance you’d need some extra care after birth. I remember distinctly the moment I walked into the OR suite, and my entire body was shaking from anxiety.  I kept taking deep breaths and praying for the Lord to give me peace. And, my prayers were quickly answered. The anesthesiologist entered the room with his medical student, and they began the procedure.  As it turns out, information had already circulated around our medical team that your mommy is a PA, and so they were all “on their toes” according to our sweet nurse, Kim.  I was so happy our anesthesiologist had a student and that he apparently enjoyed teaching. His instruction kept me distracted from my anxiety and reminded me that I was in great hands!

Soon after the spinal, your daddy and Dr. Bernstein entered the suite and before I knew it, the incision was made. Just five minutes later, you arrived, crying the most beautiful (loud) cries! After hearing the wonderful words “It’s a girl!” we then began hearing guesses of your birth weight by all the nurses and Dr. Bernstein.  Needless to say, you were a sweet, BIG, bundle of joy from the beginning!  Soon after your assessment by the NICU team, you were placed on my chest for skin-to-skin while they closed my incision. Daddy also got his turn to hold his second baby girl, and we were both crying happy tears that you were finally here with us!

You did so well transitioning after birth that you didn’t need a NICU visit! I was so incredibly grateful for this.  The three of us – me, you, and your daddy – all got to spend a wonderful 3 hours together in recovery while we waited for a room.  I think this was one of the greatest blessings we received after your birth.   This time allowed the three of us to bond and get to know one another in such a special way. Your grandparents, however, were a bit anxious in waiting so long to see you. Which was understandable! So our sweet nurse allowed them to come back and meet you in recovery.  It was so precious to me to witness your daddy announcing your name and that you were a precious little GIRL to them! Everyone was, and continues to be, so elated to have two sweet girls.

Your birth is special and unique, just like you are.  But your big sister did give you and your mommy and daddy a wonderful gift — the gift of experience. We knew a little more of what to expect when you were born, and this gave us a peace and joy that I can hardly put into words. I truly believe this experience allowed us to take better care of you AND resulted in a much, much easier recovery for me this time around.  I am eternally grateful to your big sister for giving that to us!  And, speaking of your big sister, I have to tell you just how excited she was to meet you in that hospital. It did take her a little longer than we expected to accept the idea that you would be coming home with us. But, after she realized you were, in fact, here to stay, she quickly began embracing her special purpose in your life as your one and only big sister. She quickly became my little helper and anytime you would reward her efforts with a smile or laugh, I could see her affection for you grow.  Watching you two interact has been one of the biggest blessings of my life.  You and Emmy will always be sisters. Nothing can or will ever change that, and I pray fervently that the Lord blesses your relationship. I pray that you love each other fiercely, protect each other always, and keep each other rooted in relationship with the One who made you.

We were able to spend a precious, unforgettable extended maternity leave together as mommy worked only part-time after you turned 12 weeks old and up until you turned 9 months old.  I cannot tell you how thankful I am for this time and the ability to enjoy you as an infant.  Your daddy worked hard to ensure I could stay home with you as long as possible and I am so grateful he did.  We spent many days lounging around the house, doing tummy time, running errands together, or visiting your sweet daddy.  All of your days as an infant have been a joy to me. You have been the sweetest, most laid-back baby and such a wonderful addition to our family.  I am so looking forward to all the days ahead with you, my precious girl.

Darling Mary Mac, I have been given the enormous task and greatest blessing to mother you and your sweet sister, Emmy Mae. I will not always get everything just right as your mom. But I can tell you something I do know without a shadow of doubt.  I know that your biggest dreams, greatest aspirations, and highest ambitions will one day come to fruition.  I know this not because I believe in the many fairy tales I will read to you. I know this not because you and Emmy will work hard to accomplish these dreams, although that will certainly be a vital part of the process.  I know this to be true because I have seen this done in my own life, through the guidance, prayerful discernment and daily pursuit of our Heavenly Father’s will. If I can teach you anything as your mom, I want you to know that I have achieved and received NOTHING without HIS hand in mine, every step of the way on this incredibly journey. It is my heart’s greatest desire that you and Emmy both commit yourselves to the Lord and seek His purpose for your lives, the one He has designed especially for you!

My precious Mary Mac, when you were still growing in my tummy, I had a lovely patient tell me what I already knew about you: The Lord has a great plan for your life.  I have known for a long time that the Lord was birthing more than a baby when He gave you to me. I have no idea what He has in store for us and His kingdom through you, but I cannot wait to stand beside you, encouraging you and loving you all the way.  You are a perfect Child of God, Mary McLain.  I love how the Message reads Romans 12:2. It says, “Place Your Life Before God. 12 1-2 So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”  Mary Mac, Let these words mean more to you than writing in a book.  Let them lead you, instruct you, admonish you, and guide you in your life and your spiritual walk with Christ.

I am so thankful you are mine, Mary Mac. May you always feel the warmth, happiness, and LOVE you bring to us and to everyone around you for all of your days.  Happy FIRST birthday, sweet girl.  We cannot wait to celebrate this birthday and many, many more with you. I love you more than words can ever say!

With all my love,







Photography by Cynthia Rose Photography

Seven Months


Miss Mary Mac turned seven months old on March 25th!  She has become quite the mommy’s girl over the last month and I cannot tell you how much I LOVE that.  She doesn’t want me to put her down or be anywhere out of her sight.  She will easily go to her daddy and loved ones, but she seems to really light up when I’m around.  :)  It certainly makes my heart swell!  Although, it is important to note that I still don’t hold a candle to her big sister as far as the excitement level she displays when Emmy walks in the room.  Her grin and giggles when she sees her big sissy are just precious!  She has grown so much and is just  the sweetest baby.  I tell people all the time that I thought Emmy Mae was a sweet baby, but Mary Mac is even sweeter!  She smiles at everyone she meets and is just such a precious, darling girl.  She has the best, most complementary personality to her sister’s and I am so thankful she is ours!

For the better part of the month of March, I spent every bit of my free time enjoying this sweet little baby and the last few weeks we had together with me working part time and taking care of her part time.  We did a lot of visiting daddy at work,  bringing him his favorite lunch (Jersey Mike’s) and taking walks around the pond at his work. I even kept her big sister home from daycare a few days for me to spend some time with both of my girls before I returned to work full-time.  I have been so very blessed to have a husband who was willing to work full-time and maintain our health insurance so I could work part-time for the last 18 months.  It was and will continue to be a big transition for us as a family when I go back to work full-time, but I’m excited for the new career opportunity I’ll be starting!

Mary Mac accomplished a few milestones this month including cutting FOUR MORE TEETH.  She has a grand total of 6 now and is still going strong! She went to the beach for the 2nd time, but felt the SAND at the beach for the first time!  She seemed mostly overwhelmed by everything but I think she is going to be a water baby just little her sister and my sweet husband. She is holding more things AND started her first solid food – smashed bananas, which her sister quite enjoyed helping with.  Emmy was SO excited to feed her food for the first time.

MM has started expanding her vocabulary and now says “Momma,” “hey”, and makes the “dah” sound so “dada” is right around the corner.  One other big milestone is that I successfully survived being away from her and Emmy Mae for more than a night.  Their daddy kept both girls while I went on a girls only trip to Nashville and had a BLAST.  I am so thankful and grateful for the women in my extended family and for an amazing husband who was willing to “hold down the fort” while I was gone.  Considering I get overwhelmed at the thought of keeping them by myself for more than a few hours, I was super impressed by his ability to manage everyone alone.  I married Super Dad :)  In all honesty, I couldn’t begin to do this job of parenting without him… I am truly blessed!

One of the biggest “firsts” this month was that MM started daycare. I was not terribly nervous sending her because the same sweet ladies at daycare kept Emmy when she started at 6 months and we love them dearly.  In fact, one of the ladies actually kept me as a baby at daycare 20-something years ago.  So, I know she is in very good hands!  So far, she has seemed to handle the transition really well.

Sweet memories:  You know, you always hear about how amazing a newborn smells.. and it is true. There’s just something about a baby’s head.  I have taken to really smelling and savoring that smell of my sweet Mary Mac’s head because I know all too soon I won’t be able to experience that.  I have decided that my darling girl’s crown smells JUST LIKE a waffle cone.  Silly?  Maybe.  Accurate? Absolutely.  I just love this girl so much…!

Weight: ~19, 5oz lbs

Likes: Her thumb for naps, being rocked to sleep after finishing her nighttime bottle, walks outside, sitting up like a big girl.

Sizes: Size 4 diapers still! :) Miss Mary Mac still drinks around 4-5 oz per feeding and we send 5 bottles  to daycare. She usually drinks 3 of them there, and the remaining two we will give at dinnertime and then before bed.  She has started baby food now which they also give to her at daycare.  Mrs. Eula told me the very first day she was at daycare, she quickly found her “friend in the mirror” and was content and happy, laughing at her image in the mirror on the crib for the rest of the day. :)

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Six Months

6 months

Our precious girl Miss Mary Mac turned 6 months old on February 25th.  I cannot believe we have celebrated her half birthday already! I remember so well when Emmy Mae turned 6 months old.  A lot of her first year was a blur for me, but something about Emmy turning 6 months old stands out in my mind. Certainly, it is no different for her little sister.  This month marked more milestones and the beginning of the second half of her first year of life!  What a big day for my little one. :)

Mary Mac is growing and developing her sweet little personality.  I am still enjoying my time home with her part time, though that is soon coming to an end as I will begin a job transition in a few weeks and go back to work full-time.  This also means daycare is right around the corner for our girl.  For now, I am just savoring this time and holding her closer than ever!  The days can seem so long, but the years are most definitely short.

Our little MM is becoming quite a fan of her big sister.  She loves to watch her every move.  She smiles so big when her sister barrels into her room in the mornings.  I can remember being so gentle when I would wake up Emmy in the mornings when she was an infant. And, truth be told, her daddy was the one to wake her up and put her to bed more often than not that year. But when I would get the opportunity to wake her up, it was with a soft, sweet voice and gentle back rubs and lots of “good morning my little angel” and snuggles and such. I would let her stretch, and take extra caution to not turn on the lights too quickly. I would start with just turning on the hallway light, then her room night light, and then the bright overhead light once she looked “ready” for the brighter light.  She would stretch, make funny noises, and wake up nice and “gently” I suppose you could say.

However, this is not the case for my darling Mary Mac.  Try as I might to extend all the same courtesies and allow her several minutes to wake up “gently,” this just doesn’t seem to happen for her.  Right about the time that I’ve started my “good morning little angel” routine and started a soft back rub, in comes my 3.5 year old toddler who walks as softly as a stampede of horses and has only one speaking voice volume: LOUD. I always look at Mary Mac and then say  “sorry sweet pea, your big sister is up so get ready…”  And Miss Emmy Mae barges in with her loud proclamations: “HEY MARY MACKY IS UP! MOM, MARY MAC IS UP!!!”

Mary Mac, and her ultra laid-back self, just smiles and laughs at her big sister and seems to actually enjoy this monstrosity of a wake up routine. She really is the perfect fit  to our little family, God bless her.

Miss Mary Mac celebrated her very first Valentine’s Day this month and also  gained two adorable bottom teeth.  She is almost sitting up without assistance and starting to really kick those feet and arms when she is on her belly, almost in the “crawling” stance.  Mary Mac also enjoyed celebrating her daddy’s birthday and sending her big sister off to a fancy daddy-daughter dance. MM is already looking forward to joining them in a few short years. :)

Weight: 18lbs 5.5oz (83rd percentile)

Length: 26 inches long (50th percentile)

Likes: Baths – she starts to smile and kick her feet when she sees me get her bathtub out!  She is also an outdoors girl like my first born.  She can be ultra fussy but will immediately relax when she gets outside.  She loves to take it all in and has serious FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) like the rest of us Gurley girls.

Dislikes:  NAPS!

Sizes: Size 4 diapers!! :) Miss Mary Mac is still fitting in some 6-9 months but has graduated to a few 9 month things.  She still drinks around 4-5 oz per feeding but is feeding a bit more frequently.

Happy Half Birthday, beautiful girl!

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Five Months

PicMonkey Collage 1On January 25th, Miss Mary Mac turned five months old!  Here’s a look back at her fourth month journey as the newest Gurley girl…

Shortly after Christmas, while we were still enjoying the new toys but settling back into a more normal routine, our sweet and precious girl decided to throw us a curve ball.  Just a couple days before a big ice/snow storm was scheduled to hit eastern NC, our little Mary Mac started having the sniffles.  The sniffles turned into a junky sounding cough, congestion, and yep…RSV.  Her symptoms were the worst the day the ice storm hit. We live an hour away from the closest Pediatric ED and so when she started showing the least bit of difficulty  breathing, we hit the road.  We couldn’t bear to think of what would happen if we had waited.  People constantly approach me for advice on their children’s illnesses or assume that I know how to treat my own children.  First, I don’t work with kids at all – so I am probably  the last person you’d want medical advice from for your children.  Second, all that training and experience can go out the window when it comes to treating your own family.  Which is exactly why medical boards don’t allow it. Sure, I can use some of my medical knowledge to support my decision to go to the Peds office vs ED vs staying home.  But most of the time, it boils down to good ol’ “mother’s intuition” — something every mom innately has and requires no medical training whatsoever! Momma really does know best.

Fortunately, MM’s first hospital ER experience was a smooth one.  She got some great suction, rest, and tylenol for her fever that was ever climbing and we were finally sent home with instructions for supportive care.  She really didn’t start acting like herself again until 4 or 5 days after the ED trip.  But I am thankful that is over.  And even more thankful our four-month-old was able to handle that virus like a champ, despite the loss of appetite and disrupted sleep. Not many four-month-olds can handle it without hospitalization, especially this RSV season. I am grateful to be able to give her little body plenty of breastmilk to help build her immune defense.  Emmy Mae never had RSV or even so much as a cold when she was an infant.  She didn’t have her first ear infection until 18 months.  But, things are certainly different when you’re an infant with a big sibling that’s a toddler in daycare. Poor Mary Mac! Thankfully she is on the mend…

Aside from the sickness we had to overcome this month, Miss Mary Mac also managed to overcome some developmental milestones!  She finally rolled over from back to front!  She figured out how to roll from front to back a couple weeks before 4 months. She struggled a bit, but finally made it!  She also started reaching and grabbing for toys and has found her TOES!  She is the cutest, sweetest little cuddle bug.  She also sat in the high chair for the first time while we all sat and ate dinner together! :)

We brought in the new year with Miss MM in Wilmington with her Aunt JoJo and Uncle Drake! Her big sister opted to stay with MeMa and Papa.  We ended up doing the “Polar plunge” and Mary Mac loved watching her mommy and daddy run out into the (not so) freezing water on New Years Day!

Mary Mac did get to experience something pretty neat this month.  She went  to her first event at the Dean Dome!  I’m not a Tarheel fan, but my better half, aka “the Tarheel” obviously is a fan. He jumped at the chance to take photos of the JV UNC basketball team and so we loaded up our littlest Tar Heel and headed to Chapel Hill for the evening.  She may end up loving Carolina just like Emmy and their Daddy, but I can still hold out hope she ends up at NCSU like me.  At least she is the cutest little Tar Heel you ever did see! ;)

Weight: ~17.5lbs

Length: ~25 inches

Likes: Walking around with mommy in the Baby Bjorn carrier, watching mommy washing bottles, watching big sister Emmy’s every single move!  The bond these two are developing is just priceless to me.  Emmy is ready for her to “grow up” as she often reminds me, but she also enjoys engaging with her by making her laugh.  Emmy will dance, hop on one leg, make silly faces, whatever it takes to make Mary Mac laugh.

Dislikes: She is a baby who loves to be held when she wants to fall asleep, but is otherwise rather independent and wants to do her own thing – whether that is stretched out on her activity mat or in her jumper!

Sizes: Size 4 diapers!! :O MM is now much more comfortable in 6/9 months clothes.

Sweet memories:  I am incredibly blessed to be able to stay home with her on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  This time together is slowly coming to an end, however, as I will return to work full-time in a few weeks.  I have so enjoyed spending these days with her. We drop Emmy off at daycare, usually run to chick-fil-a for breakfast, and then come back home to clean up or she may even attend a few meetings with me.  I usually have a doctors appointment or massage therapy appointment scheduled for these days and she is the best little sidekick.  We often meet daddy for lunch and then I head back home and we nap or watch Mickey Mouse clubhouse until it is time to pick up big sister.  On Thursdays, we head to dance class. These days are flying by and I know I will one day long for these moments with my girls.  I am trying to live as “presently” as possible to soak up all this love, chaos, and joy in the indescribably wonderful season of life.

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Four Months

Miss Mary Mac turned four-months-old on December 25, 2016!  This year, Christmas was extra special with our newest babe here.  Just two days before Christmas of 2015, we had our first positive pregnancy test.  I had prayed that we would get pregnant before Christmas last year and the Lord blessed us with an answered prayer. :)  We were so grateful to have our wonderful Christmas present from 2015 here with us at Christmas 2016! Having Mary Mac here with us happy and healthy made celebrating our Savior’s birth all the more meaningful and special. It is my steadfast prayer that each of our girls come to know and love our Lord Jesus Christ and tell others about His Love for us all as well.

Before Christmas, Miss Mary Mac did a lot of growing from 3-4months.  She started interacting more and more with her big sister and was a wonderful side kick to all the lovely holiday gatherings.  She even made the trip to Raleigh to see her first ballet performance with the Carolina Ballet, the Nutcracker.  She also made her own on-stage debut as Baby Jesus in the Christmas play at church.  Her big sister had the very same role in 2013, and she was perfect, just as her big sis had been as well.  We also enjoyed getting to see friends and family for the holidays and especially enjoyed seeing our good friends, the Johnsons.  Their son is only 11 days younger than Mary Mac and seeing the two of them interacting was sooooooo sweet!! I’d be lying if I said I don’t hope those two end up marrying each other some day. ;)

Miss Mary Mac met Santa twice this year, once at the church play and again at Bass Pro Shops as is tradition now.  She wasn’t the least bit bothered by meeting the big man in red and I think she actually helped her big sister be less afraid as a result.  She started showing quite an interest in her fingers and thumbs and began showing signs of teething this month. Lots of drool, loose stools, irritability and fussiness was more commonplace for our normally laid-back girl.  She continues to sleep fairly well for us and we keep praying this is a continued trend. I do love watching her eyes light up when Emmy enters the room and I love that Emmy asks to see her little sissy first thing in the morning. I pray they grow to be very close as sisters and develop a bond with Christ and each other.

Weight: 16lbs, 4.5oz

Length: 25 inches

Likes: Watching her big sister’s every move, strolling around in the car seat or baby bjorn, being close, mama’s milk :)

Dislikes: Tummy time still isn’t our favorite although we are certainly getting better at it!  Being left alone, even if mommy just needs a potty break, is becoming not-ok in the eyes of MM. ;) She did get shots at her 4 month visit and that is never fun. Her daddy took her to this visit, though so I didn’t have to watch this time. :)

Sizes: Size 3 diapers!! Still squeezing into some 6 months clothing but starting to feel a little more comfortable in 6/9 months.

Sweet memories:  Mary Mac still loves bath time, and even if her teeth are giving her a fit she still barely fusses over anything.  She has the best laugh and loves anyone who will try to make her smile.  Her daddy puts her to bed every night and they have their own sweet routine together.  He holds her a certain way in the rocker and makes sure she is comfortable every night before she drifts off to sleep.  I am so grateful to have married such a kind, loving man who has easily extended that same love to our daughters. I don’t ever do enough to tell him or show him how much I appreciate him, but I really, really do.  He is amazing to us!

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