One Month

It is hard to believe our sweet girl is already a little over one month old.  In our first month together as a family of four, we have definitely grown both literally and figuratively.  While this may be our second time having a newborn and going through the rigorous first two weeks home, this is our first time having a toddler AND a newborn and let me tell you – that is a whole new ballgame.  I am, however, very grateful for a much smoother c-section recovery this time around which has helped so much with being able to move more quickly and being in less pain in general!

The first few weeks home were quite an adjustment for our first born. Thankfully, Emmy is now getting along very nicely with her sister whom she has dubbed “Mary Mac Rainbow.” We are all still learning to adjust to our newest member and sweet Emmy was trying VERY hard to help in the beginning…Maybe a little TOO hard.  In fact, early in our second week home, I was washing bottles one afternoon and Emmy rounded the corner into the kitchen holding one of the two bottle brushes I typically use. She very proudly announced she had just “wet the brush in the toilet so I can help clean the baby’s bottles.”  I know she knew instantly from my response that she had done something wrong, but her intention was actually good.  How can you get mad when your two-year-old just wants so desperately to help?  Fortunately, I was able to rationally explain to her why that would NOT be a good thing and now every time I wash bottles, she announces “We do NOT put bottle brushes in the toilet, right Mommy?”  :)

Thankfully, Mary Mac appears to tolerate her sister and sometimes maybe even enjoys her loud, touchy-feely, toddler self. And Mary Mac has been such a good newborn, eating and growing like a super star!  At two weeks of age she was still not back up to birth weight, but she was already well into the 90th percentile in weight given her impressive starting point. So, I wasn’t worried. When Emmy was born, I was so nervous about her weight gain (and lack thereof) in the beginning.  I can honestly say this time I have been so much more relaxed about weight gain and I think it has benefited not only my mental health, but my breastmilk supply and ability to breastfeed in general.  Right now I am doing a mix of pumping and breastfeeding and things are going very well. I already have a freezer full of back-up supply and after getting over the initial difficulties with latching, baby girl has really got the hang of it nursing. And her weight gain certainly shows!  She gained 1.5lbs in the last 2 weeks which I am super happy about!

Mary Mac is very sweet and loves to cuddle –  but when she wants milk she wants it STAT and will let you know right away if she is unhappy that she has to wait.  Mary Mac also loves soft textures, especially minky fabrics, and so we have added a few new minky blankets to our collection.  She loves hanging out on her activity mat staring up at the fun animals, colors and patterns. She has done so well with tummy time and doesn’t appear to hate it as much as her sister did.  We are still on a schedule of eating every 3-4 hours during the day and night, although she did let us sleep for 7 consecutive hours a few nights ago.  We are hopeful that she will continue sleeping longer and longer stretches at night soon although we just aren’t there yet!

Our daily schedule looks a little like this –

6:15-6:30AM MM wakes up with big sister EM shortly following.  I will nurse or Dustin will give her a bottle while Emmy watches cartoons and one of us showers.

6:30-7:30AM – Pump then wash bottles and pump supplies from previous night

7:30-8:30 – Get Emmy ready, change Mary Mac’s diaper and get her dressed, make breakfast, start a load of laundry/fold laundry and/or pick up things around the house, pack the pump bag, diaper bag, and milk bag, and run out the door to get Emmy to daycare.

9:00 – 10:30AM – run errands with MM after dropping off EM

10:30-11:00AM – Nurse or feed a bottle and change MM’s diaper

11:00-11:30AM – Pump

11:30-3:00PM – Awake time for MM so tummy time, walking around the house together, walking outside some, listening to music. Pump again. Feed, diaper, and get ready for a nap.

3:00-5:00PM – Naptime for both me and MM

5:00-7:00PM – My mom or Dustin will usually pick up Emmy, come home, eat supper and hang out together as a family then bathtime for Emmy, pump again. Feed, diaper MM, short nap.

8:00PM – Nighttime for Emmy

8:00-10:00PM – MM is usually awake or eating during this time. She will go to sleep from 10pm until about midnight or sometimes until 2AM. Pump at 10pm.

2:00AM – feed, diaper, back to bed. Pump again.

6:15-6:30AM – And then repeat!

MM @ One Month

Weight: 11lbs, 1 oz – 90th percentile

Length: 22.25 inches – 65th percentile

Head circ: 38.75cm –  96th percentile

Firsts: Everything :) Her first outing was to Babies-R-Us on the way home from the hospital at 4 days old (just like her big sister!). Her first smiles were while feeding and she has started to have some responsive smiling, most often when I change her diaper. She is very happy when she has a clean diaper. :) She went to Surf City for the first time at 10 days old for Labor Day weekend.  We went for the day and to drop big sister off with GiGi so she could enjoy the holiday with her cousins.  Mary Mac was also part of her first photo shoot at 12 days of age and she did GREAT! ;)

Likes: Minky blankets, her big sister’s pacis, the activity pad, and interacting with her big sister!

Dislikes: Wet diapers, waiting for a meal!

Sizes: She was instantly too large for newborn size clothes and she graduated from Newborn diapers to Size 1 after the first day in the hospital. She is currently fitting into 3 months and a few 3-6 months onesies.

Sweet Memories:  Yesterday morning I started pumping while MM had just gone back to sleep after her first morning feed.  She started crying right away, but given I had only pumped for 5-10 minutes, I was going to let her cry for a few minutes.  Her big sister must not have liked that because she stopped watching cartoons and walked into my room stating “I think she wants me to give her the paci, mommy.”  I told Emmy she could try to give her the paci, but that I doubted it would work since she was spitting it out when I tried to give it to her a few minutes prior.  Of course, when Emmy put the paci in MM’s mouth, she instantly took it without any issue.  Emmy, feeling very proud of herself, looked at me and said “Mommy, I’m going to watch my shows now. If she spits out her paci again, YOU will have to put it in, ok?”.  I couldn’t hold back the laughter.  My little Emmy has become quite the little mommy to her sister!


Photo credit: Cynthia Rose Photography


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Meeting Miss Mary Mac

Sometime in September of 2015, Dustin and I both felt the time had come to welcome a new member to our family. We weren’t entirely sure if that new member should be a dog or human, but eventually decided on human after Emmy started asking for “a new brother or sister.”  I remember praying that we would be pregnant by Christmas, and just when I thought that wouldn’t be happening, I had my first positive pregnancy test after putting Emmy to bed on December 23rd.  I remember walking into the living room where Dustin was watching TV and just holding the test, smiling a big (probably very goofy) smile. We sat in awe and cried together and thought about the tiny being growing inside my belly while I marveled at the Lord’s perfect timing and thanked him for this wonderful gift — just in time for Christmas.

On August 25th, 2016 we finally got to meet our sweet little blessing in person. After much debate in my heart and prayerful consideration, we decided to deliver her via repeat c-section.  I was so hopeful to be able to attempt a vaginal delivery after the cesarean I had with Emmy, given an incredibly difficult recovery wrought with difficulties galore.  However, our sweet one decided to grow and grow and GROW in my belly and at 37 weeks was measuring 9lbs and 4 oz, considerably larger than I felt was reasonable to safely consider a vaginal delivery after c-section.  And every day leading up to our scheduled c-section date became more and more difficult, both physically and emotionally as I  waited for her arrival.

In the days before my surgery, I had done my best to prepare Emmy for what was to come. I told her about the hospital stay, and how the baby will be “cut” from my tummy, and mommy needing lots of rest and care after the surgery. Her little face was so sad when I told her about the surgery, and she kept saying “but I don’t want them to cut you” and repeatedly said “but I will be at the hospital for your ‘surgy,’ right mommy?” On the day of the surgery, she was quite the little trooper. Dustin and I drove up to Raleigh around 6am to be there at 715am, so we let her sleep and her Grand and Daf came to get her dressed and bring her to the hospital. Dustin and I listened to Elevation Worship’s Here as in Heaven CD the entire trip. I needed it to try and relieve some of the anxiety I had about what was about to occur, and I do think it helped a bit.

When we arrived to the hospital, Dustin covered us in prayer and I tried to remain calm.  To say that I was nervous about the surgery (and primarily, recovery) would be a major understatement. I think knowing what to expect this time was both a blessing and a curse. Fortunately, we were greeted in the L&D triage room by a cheerful, wonderful nurse named Kim.  Although this was a repeat section, I was relieved by her calm demeanor and walking us through everything that was to come.  Within what seemed like only minutes, I was in my gown, IV started, waiting to meet our little one.  Emmy came in to wish me good luck and I savored my last few minutes with her as an only child.  I knew she had no idea how her world was about to change and while this made me a little sad, I was also excited to bring a sibling into this world for her to grow up with and enjoy.

Finally, it was time to make the quick walk to the OR suite.  After saying a temporary goodbye to Dustin, I had to walk into an OR as a patient for the first since graduating PA school.  I have to say, I would MUCH rather have been on the OTHER side of that table in that moment.  I was amazed at how scary an OR can be as a patient, considering just a year ago I would walk in as a student ready to assist on any and all cases with an enormous amount of calm and confidence.  It was startling, to say the least.  Regardless, my experiences in the OR definitely did give me a sense of reassurance. I repeatedly told myself that my medical team is experienced and prepared to perform my surgery with no issues, and there would be nothing to worry about.  I still shook like crazy (thanks to anesthesia AND my anxiety) and had to engage in breathing techniques over and over to keep my composure. But at this point, everyone in the room knew I was a PA and I definitely didn’t want to have a freak out in front of other medical professionals. : )  And so I sat, as calmly as I could, while the anesthesiologist administered my spinal.  I tried to stay distracted and found myself enjoying his teaching to the student CRNA and being thankful, again, that I was delivering at a teaching hospital.  I instantly remembered the warm sensation from my first spinal and moments later the surgeon was in, curtain was up, and I heard “incision time 1033.” Dustin was finally back by my side and just five minutes later, at 1038, we heard the first strong, beautiful cries of our baby girl. We both instantly started crying, and then laughing as everyone in the room started taking guesses at how much our sweet girl would weigh. Dr. B suggested at least 11lbs and when she weighed in at 10lbs, 4 oz he “demanded a recount.”  Everyone was commenting on how big and beautiful she is. I remember looking through tears over at the warmer as the NICU team assessed my sweet girl and and finally brought her to me for skin to skin. I was so surprised they offered to do this as it was not an option at my first c-section. (They also offered for Dustin to cut the umbilical cord, which was not offered at our first c-section either.)  Dustin got to hold our sweet girl while they closed my incision and I was so relieved to have the surgery coming to a close.  Our sweet nurse wheeled me out and into recovery where Dustin and I spent nearly 3 hours alone together with our newest member of Team Gurley. It was such a sweet and special time for us to relax, nap, nurse, and bond with our darling girl.  Of course, we weren’t supposed to be in recovery for that long as we were waiting for a room to open, much to the chagrin of our family. After the 2.5 hour mark, our nurse offered  to allow our families to come back to recovery to meet their newest granddaughter.  The wait was excruciating for everyone as we still had not revealed the baby’s gender. We had so much fun filming their responses as Dustin was finally able to say “It’s a girl!”

My recovery went very well and we are so enjoying our sweet, newest member.  Mary McLain is an absolute doll and I can’t imagine life without her.  I am so thankful the Lord chose to place her in our family and look forward to watching my two sweet girls grow up together as sisters!


Mary McLain

August 25, 2016 | 10:38AM | 22 1/2 inches

11 Unforgettable Months

I’m officially done with PA school and trying to get caught up with Emmy’s “month-by-month” first year posts.  This is the final monthly post and the next will be her first birthday party post. These next two posts are long overdue, but Emmy is still cute as ever in the pictures! :)

Emmy turned 11 months old on September 17th. Here’s what happened during her last month as a “baby”!

Emmy had a fun month living it up as a sweet little baby. I know she will always be my “baby” but she sure did do some growing during her 11th month! I spent her 11th month on surgery rotation, which made the month go by even more quickly! We had a ton of fun planning her first birthday party and Emmy had a wonderful time celebrating!

Before her first birthday, Emmy and I attended a sweet baby shower for the fourth (yes, FOUR!) baby to be born in my PA school program! Yes, we have been a fertile group (some might even argue “crazy” would be a better descriptor)! There are 40 people in my class, and Emmy was the second baby born out of our group. If you include our two faculty members (one of which is my adviser who had her baby 6 short weeks before I gave birth to Emmy) who had babies during school, we have had SIX PA babies with one more due in MARCH!! And of all seven babies, only TWO have been girls! (And we ALL went to the same OB/GYN office, too!) So Emmy and I were very excited to attend Elise’s shower for Baby M who also happens to be a little girl :) Baby M is joining a very special group and we are so excited to meet her soon!

At the shower, Emmy loved playing with little Timothy, who is six months older than her. I have relied on his mommy so much for help/guidance when I found out I was pregnant with her during school, and she has been my first resource for basically everything “baby” ever since. It was so sweet to watch our now toddlers playing together. :) We have prayed fervently over these babies and I love seeing them thriving and seeing us near the END of PA school, finally!

Also of note, Emmy had her first little temper tantrum during this month. I remember being so startled when I saw her sitting on the floor playing nicely then all of a sudden, she threw her head down to the floor in front of her and sobbed uncontrollably when I said “no, no” as she put a piece of dirt in her mouth. I wasn’t sure what the heck to do and as I was still considering my options, she picked herself up and walked away as if nothing had happened. Yep. That was fun. We had further discipline issues when Emmy realized she could bang her blocks on our glass screen door and make a very loud noise. She did it a couple times, I told her no, and she stopped. For about 5 seconds. Then she watched for my reaction as she banged the blocks again. So I took the two blocks from her. Cue: 2nd temper tantrum. What happened next was a bit of a surprise – she stopped crying, stood up, and walked over to her toy box and proceeded to remove two more blocks and went right back to banging on the glass. I was torn between being proud of her problem-solving skills and dismayed because she clearly defied my directions. Something tells me I may be feeling that same paradox of emotion for the next 18 years….

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EM @ 11 Months

Weight: 24.5 lbs

Firsts: Temper tantrums, first trip to the Wayne County Regional Fair, FIRST STEPS! We had been watching this girl pulling up on the couch and taking baby steps all along the length of the couch for several weeks now. She decided to take her first steps at daycare, but we were so lucky to have such wonderful teachers with a cell phone video always nearby. They sent us a quick video of her first steps at daycare. I am so grateful for the attention and love she receives at WCS when I can’t be there myself. LOVE that daycare!

Sizes: Still in 12-18 months clothes. Diapers: Size 5

Likes: Emmy started eating lots of new things this month and basically eats whatever we eat. She does (somehow) already know what dessert is and looks like, though. She gets excited and kicks her little feet when she sees something with pretty icing or anything gooey. She also loves big white marshmallows. She loves marshmallows so much, that one day she found a bag of cotton balls and got so excited… She eagerly shoved the bag in my direction and made grunting noises (translated means: OPEN! OPEN!) and so I did. She quickly stuffed one inside her mouth and I will never forget the LOOK of disappointment she had when she realized this particular big white ball was NOT the edible kind and she spit it back out!! LOL :)

Dislikes: Being told “no” and cold baby wipes! She is a picky wee one. :)



Christmas 2014 in Pictures

I have so many drafts of posts in process (including Emmy’s 11 months and 12 months posts) but I wanted to get this special post up. We have enjoyed Christmas 2014 so very much, and we are SO thankful for everything that has transpired this season and every day in 2014. It has been an incredibly challenging, but also very rewarding and wonderful year. So I wanted to do a quick “post in pictures” of all our happenings from December 9 through to the New Year!

December 9, 2014 – I completed and passed my final summative piece of PA school, confirming my ability to walk with my class during graduation and long white coat ceremonies, despite having one rotation left. THIS was a very big deal to me – I started with my class in August 2012, and I was determined to walk with them at graduation, even though I had to take some time off for maternity leave. And it worked out that way, Praise God! Before the official ceremonies, we celebrated as a class at Raleigh Brewing Co. complete with pizza and a slideshow!
1December 12-13, 2014 – Long White Coat Ceremony & PA Program Graduation
The long awaited day had finally arrived when I would receive my Long white coat.  I’ve come a long way since getting my Short white coat in August 2012!  I had no idea I would be graduating with a 14-month-old when I started this program but I am so thankful for HIS plans for me! :)

2December 14, 2014 – We played at Carter’s Playce for my nephew Dane’s 5th birthday party! Emmy insisted on sitting at the table with the big kids. She is so growny! The next day, we picked out a tree from the Country fruit stand and then had major toddler meltdowns with the strands of lights during the decorating process.  We also had some fun with them, too. :)

3December 18. 2014 – We had a family fun day! We started out the day in Bass Pro Shops to get our picture taken with Santa.  This was our third attempt at meeting/sitting with Santa, and it was the third time Emmy hated it!  Bless her heart. She loved the shopping though, and tried to pick up a little electric four wheeler all by herself. Tough Girl!


After Bass Pro shops, we headed to Marbles Kids Museum!  It was Emmy’s first trip to Marbles, and she loved it!  She especially loved the little mini corvette, the bassinets with the babies and blankets (she kept taking wrapping them up) and the painting area!

5Since this was my first time to marbles, I had no idea that Keith Norval painted the stools in the creative arts area! I LOVE him and even own one of his pieces!


The following days were filled with more shopping, taking home our sweet crafts from daycare, our first Christmas celebration at the Pearson Open House and mommy practicing some of her clinical skills on Emmy.

6December 21, 2014 – Emmy was an angel in the church Christmas play.  Last year she was Baby Jesus.  We were even more proud of this year’s performance!

IMG_0656December 24, 2014 – We celebrated Christmas Eve with Gigi, Aunt Lindsey, Scott, cousins Karis and Brannon, Aunt Joanna and Uncle Drake and then Christmas Eve night we celebrated with the Sullivan clan!  It was such a fun day/night and Emmy loved all the attention, food, and time with family.  I loved seeing Dustin’s face as he opened a new lens from his mom!  He got so excited and was completely surprised.  The best :)

7December 25, 2014 – Merry Christmas!  We celebrated with our little family by opening gifts and singing Happy Birthday to Jesus, then we went to my parent’s for lunch and dinner.  Emmy had so much fun playing with her cousin Dane!

8December 26-28, 2014 – We went to the Valley Creek Lights show in Clayton and Emmy was mesmerized! We also spent the days after Christmas lounging, spending time with family, and celebrating cousin North’s baby dedication! We even got a chance to cook some of the ribeye steaks we won in Dirty Santa :)


We have loved these last few days together before going back to my FINAL rotation and back to work for Dustin.  I’ve had two additional job interviews during my time off so I’m praying for that situation as well!  We spent New Years Eve riding around on our new golf cart (so fun) and went to dinner at Kobe where Emmy devoured her hibachi chicken and shrimp.  She is a good little eater!  I also cherish the time we spent with friends over the holidays, including my dear friends Matt and Amy who live in Baltimore but were in town for the holidays, and my sweet friend Averi and her almost one-year-old Georgia Mac!

1011In many ways I am sad to see this year go.  I loved watching Emmy grow up from a baby to a little toddler over the last few months and I am going to miss these milestones, for sure.  But we also look forward to what 2015 will bring and pray for health, happiness and a peace that can only come from Jesus!




Letter to Emmy


My darling Emerson Mae,

We celebrated your first birthday as a family this weekend and it was so much fun! I know your favorite part was having all your little cousins and friends to run and play with on your “new and improved” jungle gym set that your Granddaddy made for you. You laughed and walked as fast as your newly walking legs could take you.

I can’t believe you were born one year ago today. It was so vivid, and a little bit of a blur all at the same time. I will never forget the morning you were born. You were born by an elective cesarean section, as recommended by our obstetrician. We arrived at the hospital the morning of my surgery and I could tell your daddy was scared as we parked the car. I was ready to meet you, but he was so worried about what could happen if something went wrong. We cried as your daddy covered us all with prayer, right there in the parking lot of the hospital. But I wasn’t scared, little one. God gave me such a beautiful peace that morning. So I prayed that He would give that to your daddy, too.

As we went through registration and made our way to the pre-op holding area, I changed into my hospital gown and had IV fluids started. I think my prayers were answered, as your daddy started getting very goofy and giddy with excitement while we were in holding. He started taking pictures of EVERYTHING! He didn’t want to miss a thing. I just wanted it all to hurry up so I could meet you… :)

Eventually, I said goodbye to your daddy and he was taken to the room next to the OR where he waited for you to be delivered. As soon as your daddy had to leave me, I started to panic. I was terrified. I started shaking and crying on the table. I knew what to expect as our doctors and nurses had explained everything, multiple times. But the fear was overwhelming. We had an angel of a CRNA that helped to keep me as calm as possible and explained everything that was happening as it occurred. Soon your daddy came back into the OR and my tears would not stop, even with him by my side. When the surgeon asked me if I was ready to see you, I excitedly said “yes!!” and he lifted you out of my tummy. Every bit of my fear was washed away the moment I saw you.

You came into this world screaming!  Your cries were so loud, but so, so beautiful to us. I remember one of the nurses commented that you had a “powerful” set of lungs! You screamed the entire time the nurses washed you, weighed you, and checked your vitals. You screamed so much, until finally they placed you near my face while the surgeon closed my incision, and I finally got to say “hello.” When you heard me speaking to you for the first time, you stopped crying completely! It was the most amazing moment for me. I knew you knew exactly who I was. You knew I was your mommy, and I knew you were going to change my life completely.

You were born on the first day of the NC state fair last year, and so each night we were in the hospital, we excitedly watched the amazing fireworks show from our hospital room window. Your daddy and I have watched the NC state fair fireworks show together every year since 2009. It was like the Lord was giving us our own mini celebration each night! You had so many visitors in the hospital – so many family members that drove over an hour to meet you in all your precious, new baby glory.  You had us all wrapped around your sweet finger from day one!

Once we finally brought you home, I was kind of a mess the first few weeks you were in our life. I was terrified I couldn’t take care of you as well as you needed me too. I felt overwhelmed, nervous, anxious, emotional, and exhausted 24/7. Your daddy stayed home with us for the first week. When he went back to work, your GiGi came over our first day alone together and she helped me so much. I cried when your daddy left, cried when GiGi got there, cried when GiGi left, and cried with your daddy got home. There were lots of tears from you AND me in the beginning. Eventually, though, we got into a beautiful routine. You knew I would always be there for you no matter what you needed, and I learned to take care of you as best I could. You started wanting only me around, and I felt needed and loved by you. That made me happier and more confident that I could take care of you! We had a wonderful 11 weeks together on maternity leave before I went back to school and I will never forget that special time with you.

This past year has been an absolute whirlwind! It has been so wonderful to watch you grow and develop your own little personality. I felt like we both met milestone after milestone because you were growing with me through clinical rotations. Every one of my preceptors have been impressed by you being in my life during school, and they all grew to know and love you through all the hundreds of pictures I share of you each day. You were also a huge hit when you were still in my belly when I was on rotation, and you were given so many gifts from patients! The Lord knew just what He was doing by sending you to your daddy and me when He did. You have given me so much determination, focus, and drive to get through PA school. Not to mention that because of you, I could truly empathize with my OB patients, and in being a patient in general. You are my very best motivator and have pushed mommy to get through some very difficult times! I couldn’t have made it through school without you, your daddy, and the favor of the Lord, and I thank you for that sweet girl.

My little Emmy, I love you so much and look forward to all of the “next steps” with you. Yes, your first birthday has made me miss all of our time together when you were a tiny baby. But this life is so fleeting, that we should dare not spend more time in the past than the precious gift we have been given to live life in the present. You are such a light in our world and a joy in our home. You are the most amazing little girl, and a most precious child of GOD!  Your daddy and I are so blessed to have you in our lives. We cannot wait to watch you learn and grow, and pray you will grow through this life being friends with Jesus and teaching others about that friendship, too. We have so many things we want to teach you, yet you teach us something new every single day.  I pray you always keep your “powerful set of lungs” by speaking up for those who can’t speak for themselves, and showing the love of Christ to all those around you. Above all, I hope you always feel how much you are LOVED. Happy FIRST birthday, beautiful girl. We can’t wait to celebrate every day with you!

I love you little Goosey.