Letter to Emmy

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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.

Mommy

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Ten Months

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We are only a few weeks away from celebrating our baby girl’s first birthday, and I can honestly say this has been the fastest year ever. Celebrating her many firsts and milestones has been a highlight of my life, and the time “before Emmy” seems like a distant memory at this point. Dustin and I are so blessed by her each and every day. From her sweet smiles and cuddles in the morning to her stubborn, short tempered “meltdowns” – she is 100% “US” and we couldn’t love her more!

Over the last month, we have had lots of fun adventures. We started off her tenth month of life on a mini-venture to Raleigh, NC. We spent time with our sweet friends Elisabeth and husband Tyler, and friends Averi and husband Grant. Elisabeth and Averi are two of my Pi Phi sisters, and I love them dearly. Averi is actually my Lil Sis, and she gave birth to Georgia MacHenry (Georgia Mac) three months (almost to the day) after Emmy. We enjoyed our pregnancy together, and now we get to watch our little legacies grow up together! We planned this weekend a few weeks in advance. Elisabeth and Tyler traveled all the way from Charlotte to meet Miss Emmy Mae and Miss Georgia Mac for the first time! We started out our day together at a favorite spot of ours in college, Café Carolina. After we had our fill of lunch and cupcakes, we decided to do something a little spontaneous – to stop by our old sorority house and show our girls the house and reminisce a little. August 17th also happened to be “move-in” weekend at my alma mater, NC State, and so campus was busy and exciting and everything I remember it being and more. When we arrived to the sorority house, we had our husbands take pictures outside but they insisted on leaving to get beer instead of hanging out inside, so they headed back to Averi’s house. Being in our sorority house (my former home) and meeting several of the current NC Delta Pi Phis was such a surreal experience for a couple reasons. First, I couldn’t believe Averi and I had a seven month old and ten month old in tow as we stepped through our front door. Second, this fall marks the ten year anniversary since I started college at NC State. HANDS DOWN, my undergraduate college experience at NCSU was one of my favorite seasons of life. And it was absolutely due in part to my Pi Phi sisters and the amazing sense of home I immediately established in Raleigh with my Wolfpack Family. I was SO HAPPY to share this with my little Emmy! And I know she couldn’t understand all of that at ten months, but we will be going back to campus for family outings and sporting events as much as possible as she grows up. Eventually, I hope she starts to understand why I love my Wolfpack and all things STATELY so much, and that she may even share in that love one day as a student and alumni herself!

In addition to our Raleigh road trip, we took a slightly longer drive… all the way to Atlantic City, New Jersey for the Miss America competition!! Yes, you read that right. I am not much of a “pageant follower” though I have always enjoyed watching the competitions on TV and can remember several “girls night” sleepovers with friends gathered around watching either Miss NC or Miss America. We found our way at Miss America this year for one very good reason: my sweet cousin Beth was crowned Miss NC this summer and we went to support her on this incredible journey! We had the BEST time walking on the boardwalk and attending the pageant. My parents, brother and sister-in-law and nephew all went in addition to my grandmother, aunts, uncles, and some family friends to support our sweet Beth. Although she did not place in competition, she represented our state well at all of the preliminary events and we are SOOO proud of her! Emmy was such a doll on the trip. Everyone doted on her everywhere we went. She is just a little ham around people, and especially around other children. She LOVES kids and gets so excited and reaches towards them, kicking her feet excitedly trying to get down to crawl to them. We were so nervous about taking her on an 8-9 hour drive, but she did amazingly well. We stopped only once on the way to NJ, according to when Emmy was at the end of her patience with driving. It ended up being all the way outside of Baltimore, and coincidentally, 1.5 miles from where one of my favorite people in the world lives, my Amster. When I put it together that we were super close to her house, I texted her and luckily, she was able to meet us outside the Cracker Barrel where we were having lunch. It was such a LUCKY, spontaneous reunion and I LOVED getting to see her and Matthew!! We also got to see her sweet Mom and brother, who happened to be in town as well!! Love how the Lord works out happy little meetings like that :)

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EM @ 10 Months

Weight: 23.5 lbs

Firsts: Emmy went to NC State’s campus for the first time, and to the Pi Phi house there as well! She also met Elisabeth and Tyler for the first time. She also went on her first big roadtrip to NJ. She got two more teeth this month, this time up top! They broke through, finally, after several miserable days. Emmy also got Hand, foot, and mouth this month :( After three days of absolutely horrible pain and refusal to eat/drink, our darling girl started feeling like herself again. She never actually got any blisters anywhere externally, only had them on her mouth which made eating a miserable activity. Fortunately, she is better now! Emmy was also in her first official “public” photo shoot as a baby for a campaign ad of a good friend that’s running for office. She was perfect and adorable in all the shots, of course. ;) The shoot as also at Pullen Park, one of my favorite places in Raleigh and we took full advantage of our time there after the photo shoot. Emmy rode the train and the carousel for the first time and loved it! :)

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

Likes: Shrimp! This girl loves eating tiny bits of fried shrimp. She also loves crawling as fast as humanly possible and is walking VERY quickly with her walker. She maneuvers that thing like a race car! :) She has now conquered the “NO” headshake, and is the typical response when I ask her any question. She is beginning to toss her spoon around and mimic feeding herself. She also transitioned down from 6 bottles (~24-30 oz) of breast milk a day, down to only 2 sippy cups of breast milk (~8 oz day). This allowed mommy to STOP PUMPING this month, which mommy loves! :) We still have a great stock pile going so she still gets her breast milk and

Dislikes: Sharing, being told “No” and when she is diverted from doing anything potentially dangerous. Her fingers are like magnets to light sockets and/or anything small and round that can block her airway. She keeps us on our toes, 24/7!

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Eight sweet months

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On June 17th, Emmy turned 8 months old.  It is so hard to believe our little girl is getting close to turning 1 year!  I have loved this past month so much and enjoyed watching Emmy grow.  Emmy had a wonderful month while mommy completed her OB/GYN rotation in Smithfield.  It was such an amazing experience to deliver 15 babies into the world, and each one of them reminded me of the day Emmy was born.  It was such a sacred day, and one filled with so much joy.  I have her birth story written, but just don’t know if I will ever have the courage to post it.  Some intimate details, like how Emmy was born, are just too precious.  I feel the need to guard and protect their perfect memories, saved for me and my little family alone to enjoy.  And, I feel the same protective nature for the perfect memories I have of each of those sweet babies I was honored to delivered. They brought me SO MUCH joy over the course of five weeks!

So yes, I’m searching for a job in women’s health.  But, that search and all it entails is for another blog post altogether. Back to Emmy.  :) She had a HUGE MILESTONE this month!  Our precious Emerson Mae started CRAWLING!!!!!  Just days after turning 8 months, she was off to the races!  It was a bit of a slow start to begin with, but with each attempt she got faster and faster until now she is a crawling MACHINE.  It was so fun to watch the evolution of learning to crawl to crawling, because she would get so frustrated by knowing she was SO CLOSE and then she was so happy once she figured it out!  She would smile and giggle and dart across the room in seconds.

Because she started crawling, she also started losing some of her little baby fat. :(  I am disappointed by this, but I know she is growing into a little girl and I am ok with that.  I know she is going to be a handful in the coming months, but she hasn’t exactly been a cakewalk this whole time!  She is a determined, some what stubborn, but very loving little girl.  So I am excited to see her personality growing every single day!

This month we celebrated Father’s day and Emmy’s first fourth of July.  We headed to the beach for July 4th and came back just in time for me to start a rotation in the Emergency Department.  She loved her time at the beach as always.  We also took Emmy to one of our favorite restaurants, Southern Exposure, for the first time.  She lovvvvveeeeeeed the mashed potatoes!  We went in celebration of my parent’s 42nd wedding anniversary!  I can’t wait for me and Dustin to celebrate 42 years. :)  We are well on our way seeing as how we met 10 years ago today! ;)

Emmy still hasn’t got anymore teeth yet but we expect some to peek through any day. She has become a pro at waving hello and goodbye and she has conquered the words “dada” and “baba” though we are still working on “mama.”  She does this hilarious motorboating noise with her mouth and anytime you do the same to her she will repeat it back to you.  She is starting to develop a little shyness around new people or people she has not seen in a while and can get some stranger anxiety as well.  I don’t mind this so much since she clings to me and hugs my neck for all she is worth when she gets nervous. :) I gladly take the hugs, but know we have to encourage her to not be afraid of others when she is with us.

Since she started crawling, she is exploring more than ever.  And she is SO smart.  In the first three or four days that she started crawling, I probably said the word “No no” more than I have ever in my entire life.  She is definitely learning the meaning of this word.  She is learning so much about how to manipulate objects and loves mundane things like wooden spoons, tupperware, and plastic cups much more than her toys.  She also recently started protesting diaper changes. Like screeching cries, turning over and refusing to roll back over, to allow us to finish changing her while basically being very uncooperative.  My mom asked one of the daycare teachers if she had begun acting out like this for them, and they said “Oh, yes, she did that couple times.” So my mom asked how they managed to deal with it, and Ms. Eula said very simply “Well, you tell her NO.”  My mom and I laughed because that seemed very obvious and we felt silly we had put up with her shenanigans for several days.  The next diaper change when she started rolling over, we very sternly put her on her back and said “NO Emmy” and she started up at us with the most puzzled look on her face, as if to say, “How do YOU know that word, too?!?!”.  We thought it was so funny!  She quit acting out immediately and we proceeded to change her diaper in peace…  Gotta love those daycare ladies! :)

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EM @ 8 Months

Weight: 21 lbs (down 1.5 lbs since crawling!) :(

Firsts: Crawling!  She also enjoyed eating at Southern Exposure for the first time, and she tried lots of new foods including fresh corn, fresh figs, macaroni and cheese, and watermelon.

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

Likes: Her new found freedom in crawling!  She also loves her new pink swing her granddaddy got for her.  They could spend hours and hours swinging together.  She loves being outdoors in general and will crawl to her stroller when she is ready for her evening stroll.  She has us all wrapped around her tiny little finger.

Dislikes: Diaper changes (still), hearing the word NO, and peaches.  She is NOT a peach fan!

 

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Glimpses

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This fall marks five years since Dustin and I began dating. Shortly after we started dating, Dustin asked me to go with him to his grandparent’s beach house in Surf City one weekend. He was so eager for me to go, I finally agreed to take some time off from work and we drove down one weekend in October when the weather was just starting to turn cool and well past the beach going season. I’ll never forget that first trip to the beach house.

As we walked up the steps to the house, he stopped just outside the door and said “Oh, by the way, you may want to know who you’re about to meet. My grandparents Mema and Papa, Mrs. Snow who is like another grandparent. Also, my mom Kay, cousin Jerri-Rae, her husband Robbie, my aunt Brenda, uncle Jerry, and my niece Karis. And my sister Lindsey and her husband Jarred. And maybe my other cousin Luke and his wife Jamie.”

OH BY THE WAY?! I thought. He couldn’t have mentioned I was about to meet his ENTIRE family on the two hour drive there? We had only been seeing each other for about two months at that point, so this was kind of a big deal. I stammered out a weak “O…K…” as we stepped inside. Lucky for me, they were all there! Literally, right there. Sitting at the kitchen table eating dinner as we walked through the door. Mema and Papa jumped up to greet me. I went to shake Papa’s hand and instead, he hugged me. He told me “Sorry if you don’t like hugs, but we hug people around here.” I instantly settled in for one of many delicious meals made by Mema and completely forgot how nervous I was just moments before.

I’ve always said that weekend was one of the weekends that changed everything for me. I loved seeing Dustin interact with his family, and it was evident he was in his element at the beach house. We had a great time fishing, eating, and enjoying each other’s company that weekend. More importantly, though, I caught glimpses of what my future might be like with this amazing man. And I fell for him hook, line and sinker. I couldn’t get enough of the love this family shared, and seeing Dustin so happy there was the best part. His kindness and genuine concern for his grandparents melted my heart. He was so sweet and so thoughtful. And let’s be honest – he was always sweet and thoughtful to me, but we were dating at the time. I was supposed to be treated sweetly and thoughtfully! How he acted towards his family showed me that his kind and thoughtful nature was truly sincere.

I also vividly remember how well he loved his beautiful niece Karis. She was just six years old at the time, and her wavy blond hair and constant smile was contagious. He acted like he was just smitten with her, and her with him. He picked her up and gently tossed her tiny little body in the air above his head over and over again. Hearing her giggle float through the air was the sweetest sound. Again, I was weak in the knees from glimpses of all that could be with his great man. That weekend was just the beginning of our story and I knew it was going to be a good one.

Fast forward to this Memorial Day weekend when I made the two hour drive to that same beach house once more with my sweet Dustin, now my husband of three years. This time, however, was even more special than our first trip. This time we had our own darling baby girl in tow, visiting the beach house for her very first time.

Yet again, that beautiful home on Sea Manor Lane gifted me with glimpses of an amazing life ahead with my sweet Dustin. Dustin was just as excited to introduce our sweet Emmy Mae to the easy going, love-filled life at the beach house as he was to share it with me that weekend five years ago. I was amazed that even though Dustin and I have been married for three years and we welcomed our sweet girl over seven months ago, I was able to see him in a new light at the beach house. And it was glorious. He was just so elated to share the memories he loved and cherished so dearly growing up with a little girl of his own, and it filled me with joy. He was so excited for her first boat ride. Her first sips of Mema’s lemonade. Her first bites of Papa’s homemade peach ice cream. Her first time visiting the Point, and her first swim in the ocean.  Her first visit to Sear’s Landing. Her first nap under Aunt Brenda’s tree. Her first walk around Atkinson Point. Her first night sleeping with the windows open and an ocean breeze so heavenly no restless baby could resist falling fast to sleep.

I always knew the beach house was a special place for my husband, but I had no idea how special he would make it for our daughter. He was so proud to show her off and to give her the experience he loved so much growing up.

On this Father’s day, I am reminded of these moments and all the ups and downs we’ve encountered in the past that brought us to today. I am beyond grateful to be married to someone who is so present, so loving, and so meant to be a husband and father. He is more than I could ever ask for – not just for me, but for my daughter as well. There are SO many more examples I could give of all the wonderful, sacrificial acts of love that my husband shows to me and our baby on a daily basis.  I can remember so many times shortly after giving birth that I was in awe of the man I married and how strong he was for the both of us.  I give all the glory and praise to my Heavenly Father for bringing Dustin into my life, and also for weekends at the beach house filled with glimpses of all that HE has in store for us. Happy Father’s Day to my love! Emmy and I cannot thank you enough and we do not deserve you, but we are so glad you are ours.

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With love from your gurleygirls

 

 

Six Months

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Emmy turned 7 months old yesterday! Let’s take a look back at her BIG sixth month of life. Happy Half birthday baby girl!

Emerson Mae had a big month full of firsts. Just a few days after turning six months old, she started attending daycare. We were so blessed to have Dustin’s mom keep Emmy during the day and my mom in the evening for several months before starting daycare. I cannot thank them enough for making my transition back to rotations in January much easier knowing she was in the hands of a loved one, and delaying our start to daycare until six months. I wanted to wait until six months when her little immune system was stronger and she had mastered holding her head up on tummy time. I am so grateful the timing worked out where a spot opened up at the daycare just before she turned 6 months after being on the waiting list for almost one year! Coincidentally, her first day at daycare was also my first day of rotation at WakeMed in Raleigh. It was a big day for us all! Fortunately, we both had great experiences and we continue to love her daycare so much! As it turns out, one of her morning caregivers is the same lady who took care of me at my daycare 20-“something” years ago! ;) I turned out pretty good so we’re happy with that!

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We had two more big milestones in Emmy’s life at six months. First, Emmy was baptized on Easter Sunday! Emmy was a little angel that day. It was so special to have her baptized in the same church where I was baptized as an infant and in the presence of our family and friends. We had a beautiful service and my sweet cousin, Beth, sang a gorgeous acoustic rendition of Lead Me to the Cross.  She also sang at our wedding, and we were so happy she agreed to sing during this special event in our lives as well.  Emmy wore a new Christening gown, but had on my Christening gown slip and wore the same cross I wore during my baptism.  She also had the flower I wore on our wedding day on her headband.  I can’t believe that three years ago this March when we got married, we didn’t know what our baby would be like or when we would even have a baby. But the Lord already knew her, already loved her, and planned her just for us.   We pray over our roles as parents daily, and we pray Emmy will develop a deep and meaningful relationship with Christ one day as well. Her baptism is an outward symbol of our hope and commitment to raising her in a Christian home. And let’s be honest: Raising a baby is hard. We cannot do this alone, and we are so grateful for all the support we receive from our family and friends daily and especially on that day. We are so thankful for their prayers over our little family. It was such a special day to watch our beautiful little girl being baptized and made me so proud to be her mommy, and Dustin’s wife. He is an amazing spiritual leader and challenges me to deepen my relationship with Christ on a regular basis. He is setting a wonderful example for our daughter, and I cannot thank God enough for bringing us together to share this journey.

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Emmy and her daddy certainly have a special relationship. I don’t think this was any more evident than the day she said her first word, “DaDa”! We were able to get it on video and it is the cutest thing ever, and I have probably watched it 50+ times. She is the BEST!

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Emmy had another first this month, although this is one we weren’t so happy about. She got a very bad stomach bug and we ended up taking her to WakeMed after she had gone several hours without eating and was vomiting and had diarrhea. I was worried things could take a turn for the worst very quickly, especially at her young age, so we went to the children’s ED and she stayed there for several hours until she was able to keep milk down after 2 doses of Zofran. Bless her little heart. It was so hard seeing her so weak and lethargic. I’m so thankful everything turned out ok and her body was able to fight it. I am blessed to be able to give her breast milk which helps her fight viruses and bacterial infections like this one. She bounced back after a few days and was her sweet, adorable little self before we knew it.

EM @ Six Months

Weight: 21lbs, 24inches.  95th percentile for head, 96th percentile for weight, 25th percentile for length (she’s chunky, in a good baby way!)

Firsts: Baptism on Easter Sunday, First word: “dada”, first time in the hospital :(, first Easter.  First time trying squash, garden peas, and bananas.  The bananas were a hit. The squash and garden peas were NOT!

Sizes: Still wearing size 9-12 months in clothes and size 5 diapers.

Likes: Rolling, almost crawling/pseudocrawling, and WATER! This girl is a bit of a hazard risk around water. She LOVES it. I am TERRIFIED for taking her to the beach this summer. I am going to be a nervous wreck watching her around the OCEAN!!! This girl is getting swimming lessons, STAT.

Dislikes: Squash, garden peas. The faces she makes when we try to give them to her are priceless, though!! J

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