Valor's Birth Story — Part 3

Read Valor's Birth Story Part 1 and Part 2.

So as you can probably assume I've been quite busy snuggling my little boy, and now back at work. The house is quiet and dark, which is a rarity recently. Husband is at work, Valor is snoozing, the baby monitor next to me blaring white noise, puppy is at my feet, and I am eating re-heated leftovers. And finally, I am getting a few brief moments to type up the last section of Valor's birth story. Yes, Valor was born in part two, yet we were not home free at the point where I left off. So where were we? Oh yes...

On Saturday, September 6th at 10:00 pm I was finally discharged after a long 12 day admission. Heart breakingly, we had to leave our little Valor in the NICU for an unknown amount of time, but it looked like it would be around a week — this also depended on who we talked to. The following day, Sunday, I spent the day resting as Husband was at work. Husband spent his lunch hour as well as some time before leaving work, sitting next to little Valor's incubator, reaching in, talking to him, and holding Valor to feed him a tiny bottle. While back at home, my parents and sister's fiancĂ© came over to help me with all the baby things I did not have ready.

Monday, Husband and I eagerly drove to the hospital and spent hours sitting in the NICU with our son. As we were leaving the NICU, my parents arrived for their turn to keep Valor company and reassure him of our love. Having our little one in the NICU provided so many emotions. Heart-wrenching sadness, yet overarching understanding that he was where he was supposed to be and receiving the healthcare he required.

Tuesday as Husband and I were backing out of the driveway, on our way back to visit Valor in the NICU, Husband stopped the car and asked if we should grab the infant car seat "just in case." I said, sure and told him to also grab his teeny tiny coming home outfit too. Positive thinking! After we arrived, scrubbed in and gowned up, Valor's nurse said that the on-call pediatrician wanted to speak with us. As we sat down with the doctor, he expressed a major concern — when he felt Valor's fontanels, they felt as though they were possibly already closed — which shouldn't happen for a few months. At the time, the NICU pediatrician set up an appointment with a neurologist at Rush Medical Center in Chicago for us. Best case, Valor would be just fine and his pediatrician would keep track of his head growth at each appointment. Worst case, Valor would need a craniectomy. That was the bad news. The good news was that he felt Valor would be best cared for at home! He was sending Valor home with us! What a bag of mixed emotions. The NICU pediatrician explained how we would be able to spend more time getting Valor to eat (which was a challenge) that a nurse who only had 30 minutes with him at each feeding. So we waited for his discharge paperwork to be printed, signed our names on the dotted line, dressed Valor in his light blue elephant outfit, snapped him snuggly into his car seat, and took one last photo in the NICU. We were headed home — as a whole family — on Valor's one week birthday!

The following week after Valor was discharged we jumped in the car and headed to the neurologist appointment with much anxiousness. As we waited for the physician to enter the exam room, I just held my little four pound baby. The neurologist came into the room, introduced himself and felt Valor's fontanels...and they felt fine! He told us he would contact Valor's pediatrician and ask her to keep an eye on his head measurements at each appointment but thought there would be no issue. Praise the Lord! The weight lifted off our shoulders that day was amazing! After leaving the appointment we headed to the parking garage and let Valor see his first view of the Chicago skyline.

Even though the weight and thought of a craniectomy was lifted off our shoulders, the first few weeks were so very exhausting and difficult. Around the clock, 24/7, every two hours we would feed Valor, which would take about an hour every time. I would pump and Husband would feed Valor a bottle. But I would take that tiredness any day over having our little one in the NICU.

As I now look back, we only had to leave Valor in the NICU after my discharge for three days. But at the time, those days felt like eternity. Coming home with an empty nest felt so incomplete, and home together never felt so complete.

So there you have it — Valor's complete birth story. We serve such a trustworthy God who gave us peace like a river throughout all the trials. I am so thankful that we had an anchor for our souls during these tribulations and it is something we can count on! After all this, I cannot believe the name we chose before we had any idea of the struggles to come. Valor — bravery in facing great danger. Wow. Valor's story continues to be written day by day. As Husband and I look forward to seeing how it unfolds, we pray that Valor's life is much easier than his beginning.

Happy Three Month Birthday

Dear Valor,

Happy three month birthday...a little late. You were three months on 12/2!

Two Sundays ago was our monumental "last day" together. After being a stay-at-home mom for the last three months, I'm now back to work. Our three blissful yet busy months flew by much more quickly than I could have imagined. Some of the time was spent visiting you in the NICU and lots of time was spent on the couch healing as we snuggled and let the house become a mess. I would not change a thing.

I know it sounds so cliche, but you're getting so big! Now that you're three months, I'm back to work. Where has the time gone? I completely cherish every moment that I get to spend with you. In front of my eyes, you have transformed from a newborn into a little baby. I just love getting to know you more and more each day. You've started smiling, and that is my favorite. The whole world fades away when you smile - it's all consuming. This last month, along with smiling, you've discovered your hands. You love sucking and slobbering all over your fists. You've also started chatting away and sticking out your silly tongue while laying on a blanket, kicking your feet.

In the past month we started you in physical therapy for torticollis and we exercise everyday at home. You're doing a great job, and at your last session, the therapist said to keep working and come back in three weeks! Sometimes at home you hate doing the exercises, but when we go to your appointments, you're a big show off. Tummy time is still a very big struggle but we're working on this too.

As for your weight, you don't have an appointment until January - a four month checkup. We are thinking you may be around 11 pounds! You've just grown out of the newborn size clothes and diapers. You're now wearing 0-3 month outfits and size 1 diapers.

We still don't have a routine, except for bedtime. The nighttime wakings vary - up from one to three times - you eat and go right back to sleep - I don't mind getting up with you one bit. During the day, you sometimes nap in our arms but sometimes if we can put you down without crying, you nap in the MamaRoo. At night you've been sleeping in your own nursery in the big boy crib.

You went on your first road trip to Ohio for Thanksgiving. You did great in the car, just needing to stop for feedings. You got to see your great grandparents, meet your second cousins and your great uncles.

How are you already three months old? What happened to my tiny four pound baby? You're doing exactly what you're supposed to do sweet boy...growing, learning, and thriving. Baby boy, you bring endless joy. I still spend a lot of time just staring at you. You are so special and I am reminding myself to cherish every moment with you, because these days with my little Valor are numbered.

I love you — always and forever,

Month 1 | Month 2

Valor — Two Month Birthday

Dear Valor,

Happy two months! Time has flown. I can't believe it's been two months, but at the same time I feel like you were always here...always part of our family. Now that you are here, I can't imagine even a minute without you. Last night laying in bed I told your daddy that I missed you, even though you were just in the next room. You my little Valor bring so much joy and happiness to our lives.

You've grown at a crazy rate. You have moved from your premie clothes, into newborn clothes! You're already starting to lose your baby looks and are looking more like a little boy. You celebrated your first Halloween and dressed up as a skeleton...the cutest skeleton I have ever seen. Every day you're much more alert and ready to play. I think you're a morning person, just like me. The evening hours are tough as you cry and just want to be swaddled, fed, held and rocked.

You, my son, are the most important thing to your daddy and me. Over the past month, daddy and I made a big family decision. When I return to work, I'll be cutting down my hours so that I can be home more with you. Our time with you is so precious and fleeting. Though things may be a bit tighter, you my handsome wide-eyed boy are so worth every less dollar. This time is cherished as we do not know what tomorrow may bring - we clearly saw with your traumatic birth story. I am eager to snuggle and go on adventures these extra days together!

As we celebrate your two months with us, all I feel is blessed. Blessed that you're my boy. Blessed that you came early for some bonus days. Blessed that you are healthy. Blessed that you're growing. You are truly a gift!

I love you — always and forever,

Want to compare with Valor's month one photo? Check it out here.

Getting "Nothing" Done

So there are these days — usually and almost every day where I'm lucky to take a shower, unload the dishwasher, cook a meal or tidy up. Welcome to my new life. Life with a baby. I wouldn't trade my dirty house for anything though. I'm training myself and having to redirect my brain. Often times I think, oh my goodness, I'm getting "nothing" done, but then I remember I'm doing the most important thing — holding my baby. Just in these short six week with Valor, I've seen how fast he has already grown and changed. And in maybe a year or so, Valor isn't going to want these constant snuggles with mama. Things will be different. My baby boy will grow up and want to play in the mud. Which, I am excited for that stage too - each is special in its own way. But right now I'm reminding myself I am getting lots done — I'm accomplishing the most important thing. I'm bonding with my baby. I'm loving my baby. I'm snuggling my baby. I'm savoring his baby squeaks, snorts and clean baby scent. I'm taking a mental picture of his tiny features, the way he looks at me with heavy eyes and precious eyelashes. I hold him tight as he naps and his tiny pucker slowly phantom nurses. So I guess in the end, it depends how you define "nothing."

"Babies Don’t Keep"
Author: Ruth Hulburt Hamilton

Mother, O Mother, come shake out your cloth,
Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
Hang out the washing, make up the bed,
Sew on a button and butter the bread.

Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She’s up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.

Oh, I’ve grown as shiftless as Little Boy Blue,
Lullabye, rockabye, lullabye loo.
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
Pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo

The shopping’s not done and there’s nothing for stew
And out in the yard there’s a hullabaloo
But I’m playing Kanga and this is my Roo
Look! Aren’t his eyes the most wonderful hue?
Lullabye, rockaby lullabye loo.

The cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow
But children grow up as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down cobwebs; Dust go to sleep!
I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.

Valor's Newborn Photo Session

Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still.
Dorothea Lange

A week after Valor was born, we had Chrystl Roberge Photography come to our home and capture our sweet little one. In these photos, Valor is two weeks old (9/16/14). I cannot believe how much he has already changed from these photographs to now! Anyway, I'll stop talking and let you see some of the beauty that Chrystl captured:

Valor - One Month Birthday

Dear Valor,

Today we celebrate your one month birthday. Your Great Grandpa and Grama called and sang you "happy birthday." Your Grandma and Grandpa Y are here snuggling you tight today. You truly are our miracle baby and our greatest adventure. I thank The Lord each day that you were spared and healthy, even though you had such a traumatic entrance into the world.

Oh babe, every day I just can't stop admiring you. I can't help but smile. No baby has ever been so perfect - your little features - your expressionful face - your full head of hair - just how teeny tiny you are!

You finally learned how to breastfeed just in time for your actual due date. I think it even helped you fatten up! When we brought you home from the NICU you were 4 pounds 6 ounces, but we went to the doctor the other day, you claimed the blue-weight gaining-champion ribbon. You tipped the scale at 6 pounds 7 ounces, the same weight as your Grandma W when she was born!

Valor, you love when I sing "you are my sunshine" and it usually calms you down. Braxton, your big fur ball brother loves to sniff you. My heart melts seeing Daddy love on you. But most of all, you are such a snuggly cuddle bug and I think that is my most favorite.

So happy one month birthday Dear One. I'm so glad our roller coaster adventure the last month gave us you. We are truly blessed.

Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Luke 12:7

I love you - forever and always,

Valor's Birth Story - Part 2

God doesn't give us what we can handle. God helps us handle what we are given.

Read Valor's Birth Story Part 1 here.

So after a successful, keeping baby-in-utero appendectomy, I spent a horribly painful week in my hospital bed recovering with continued and constant monitoring of our sweet, strong, courageous babe.

On Tuesday morning, September 2nd, a few nurses kept coming into my room, quietly looking at the strip coming from the monitor. Twice they pulled off sections and took them out of my room. A little later on I found out they were bringing the strips for the high-risk OB to evaluate. After a little more time passed, I was moved to a different room and my OB came in. He looked at Husband and me and told us our little one's heart rate kept dropping to dangerous levels - three strikes and he's out. So, of course little Valor's heart rate plummeted for a third time. Quickly my L&D room filled with staff, physicians, nurses, and the Director of Women's Services. It was organized, but at the time it seemed stressful and chaotic as everyone did their part. About 10 people were poking me, asking questions, handing me pens and clipboards for consents, people on the phone to get the OR prepped, and others trying to monitor baby. It all happened so fast and I couldn't control my body. All I could do was shake. I was only 36 weeks. Baby Valor still had four weeks to grow but we were going in to rescue baby Valor via emergency c-section.

Hurriedly the nurses pulled the sides of my bed up and we started rolling, quickly to the OR. Husband followed shortly behind as someone threw a pair of scrubs at him to change. Usually the soon-to-be dad is not allowed in the OR for emergency c-sections, but thankfully they made an exception for us.

Leaving Husband behind while he scrubbed in, I rolled into the OR. I was transferred to a cold, hard table, and the organized chaos continued. The anesthesiologist quickly got started on my spinal. He had me sit up on the table. At this point I was so thankful for my OB as I leaned against him and he helped me to contain my shaking and breathe through the fear. As I leaned against my OB, he calmly and quietly spoke into my ear, reassuring me. And all I could do was breathe deep and kept repeating "you are my refuge and strength" because I knew I couldn't do this on my own. I was scared and I needed God's refuge and strength. Second major abdominal surgery within a short amount of time, plus the safety of our little one.

Once the spinal was completed the anesthesiologist helped me lay down on the table. My arms were strapped down straight out, like on a cross. While waiting for the spinal to take affect, my OB started taking out the drain from my appendectomy. It hurt like crazy. Finally my lower half started losing feeling and Husband was allowed in the OR. He came and sat right next to my head on the right side, and gently put his hands on my arm and shoulder. Swiftly they sliced horizontally into my abdomen. Breaking the bag of waters created a fountain, soaking my OB. Then to get through all the layers, I felt rough tugging - not painful, just lots of pressure and movement - very strange. At this point I was crying, happy tears. I was eager to hold my little one. After what felt like a while, I heard the OB say that my uterus was filled with meconium and Valor's cord was wrapped around his neck. But swiftly baby Valor was rescued from my uterus and my OB exclaimed, "congratulations, you have a beautiful baby boy!" The NICU nurses immediately took Valor to check and clean him up. They brought our bundled babe to my shoulder and we got our first glance of our little resilient miracle babe. After a minute or two, they took little Valor away to the NICU, as he required a four-hour observation. Husband followed our little man while I was sewn back up and returned to my room for recovery.

Our first family photo.

Valor Emerson
Born 9/2/14
2:45 pm
4 lb 14 oz
19 in

When I was returned to my room for recovery, Valor's proud grandparents were already there and oohing and ahhhing over him in the NICU. So thankful that my parents were able to be there to greet their very first grandchild and that Valor's other, out-of-state grandparents came in the following days.

I think my favorite was being able to FaceTime my sister all the way in Africa after Valor was born.

For the next three days in the hospital we enjoyed our new bundle of joy. Husband stepped up as daddy to Valor and took care of him through the nights as I was still trying to recover from all my body had been through.

The day after my c-section a horrific headache formed. I was given numerous types of medications but nothing seemed to take it away. An anesthesiologist came for a consult due to the headache and was concerned it may have been a "spinal headache." During that consult, I learned that spinal headaches are very rare yet can occur as a result of the spinal I received during the c-section. The spinal created a passage for spinal fluid to leak out, changing the pressure around my brain and spinal cord, developing my horrific, non-manageable-three-day headache. My headache was like no other and the pain was only lessened slightly when I laid completely flat. The way things had been going the last two weeks, I could not believe I was having another major, yet rare complication! Fearful of the anesthesiologist going back into my spinal column, it took me a little while to sign the consent forms. I spent two days resting and praying the headache would go away on its own.

Finally I signed the forms to have the blood patch procedure. The anesthesiologist started me on more IV fluids. To administer the blood patch, I had to sit up and sit extremely still — which he kept telling me the whole procedure. Per my request, Husband was able to sit in, just across the room where I could see him, yet outside of the sterile field. Thankfully he was there, I just focused my eyes on him as I tried with all my might to sit like a statue. The anesthesioloist then inserted a large needle into the same space as the area where I originally had the spinal. He then took a large quantity of blood from my arm and injected it into the epidural space. The blood then clotted and sealed the hole, stopping the spinal fluid leak. Almost immediately the procedure started taking affect and my headache became less. For the next two hours I had to lay on my back completely still. After two hours, it was like a miracle occurred — my pain level went from a nine all the way down to a one!

As my family, friend and doctors reflect back on all that happened, we understand the gravity of the events. I could have died. Valor could have died. So thankful and blessed that we were both spared and given life.

On Saturday, September 6th at 10:00 pm I was finally discharged after a long 12 day admission. Heart breakingly, we had to leave our little Valor in the NICU for an unknown amount of time, but those details will be shared in Valor's final section of his birth story – part 3.

Please excuse the poor quality iPhone photos. We had our DLSR packed and ready to go, yet as you can see, nothing goes as planned.

Valor's Birth Story — Part 1

Some people have birth stories to share. Well, I have a life and near death story to share...with a happy ending of course. This is a scary story, yet wrapped all in love, faith and prayer. Because my son and I visited death's door during this story, it is difficult to recollect and write. I'll be sharing our birth story in a few parts. So here it goes...part 1.

Ps. 46:1 - God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

Monday evening, August 25th, Husband and I were spending a simple evening at home. I grew to a very uncomfortable state. My parents came over to visit, my mom lightly touched my round 17 pound smuggled basketball-baby bump and I reeled back in pain. Something just wasn't right. But pushing it all aside, being in the home stretch of the pregnancy, we wrapped up the evening and went to bed. It was a torrential night's sleep. By morning I decided to call my OB, who was on-call for just another 15 minutes. I was having Braxton hicks contractions, but still in enough discomfort to stay home from work. As I spoke to my OB, she told me to come straight to the hospital's Labor & Delivery Unit for observation. I arrived, got to a room, hospital-gowned up and painfully climbed into bed. Monitors we strapped to my round belly and I heard the rhythmic heartbeat of my little boy. There were touches of contractions, but definitely not the real-deal. The on-call OB came for examination, preformed an ultrasound to rule out a placenta abruption. He mentioned the (low) possibility of kidney stones, or appendix issues. Not fitting the traditional symptoms of any of those diagnosis, he ruled it severe strained muscles. I mean I was in the nesting phase, right? So after a few hours of monitoring, I was sent home for rest, ice compression for my muscles and tyenol. My dad came to drive me home and helped get me settled. I spent the afternoon napping until Husband arrived home. We ordered in Thai but I could hardly take a bite. The pain and contractions were back. This was not a strained muscle. All I remember thinking and saying was, "This is not right. Braxton hicks shouldn't be this painful. This baby is coming." Trying to do diligence, Husband pulled up the timer on his iPhone and we tried timing out the contractions and figure out what was happening. After about 10 minutes, I called my OB. Something was not right. The OB, with concern in his voice told me to return to the hospital right away. Husband and I gathered a few items, got in the car and drove fast. For yet the second time that day, I arrived on the L&D floor, got into a hospital gown, was strapped to monitors and waited. I was placed on a 23 hour observation. By morning I had the two monitors constantly on my belly, an IV coming from my right hand, a blood pressure cuff permanently attached to my left bicep, a pulse monitor attached to my left pointer finger and continued to wait, trying to be calm. Listening to my son's somewhat rhythmic heartbeat.

First thing Wednesday morning I was wheeled around for a battery of tests - lab, ultrasound, MRI...the MRI found fluid filling the cavity around my appendix, and a surgical consult. A surgical team was swiftly compiled. The Director of Surgery, the area's top general surgeon for the appendectomy. OB and L&D support. NICU pediatrician. Neonatal support. And many other surgical and high-risk support staff. A few hours passed as the special team was assembled and an OR was set up for every possible situation that could possibly arise in the surgery. Finally about 2 pm on Wednesday they wheeled me into the pre-op area. As I held Husband's hand I looked at him, wearing a surgical gown and cap, knowing we would be separated for the next few hours and how dangerous of a surgery this was normally, but on top of that being 35 weeks pregnant. As we looked at each other and silently knew all the scary risks, we told each other how much we loved each other and that we would see each other soon. Not knowing the results. Not knowing if I had the ability to live. Not knowing if our little boy that was safely tucked in my womb could withstand the surgery. Not knowing if we would be parents that day. He squeezed my hand tightly and released as they surrounded my bed and rolled me back into the cold, sterile, yet very busy OR. All the medical professionals in that room and in the wings were there - just for me and our baby. My pain was growing worse and worse. I was so scared yet just so eager to be put under so I couldn't feel for just a little while.

After a few hours in surgery, my genius surgeon was successful. He completed an entire appendectomy - that had been ruptured. The entire cavity filled with infection and was able to do it all laparoscopically around my largely pregnant uterus. Unfortunately due to the severity, in surgery, I also lost my right ovary, right Fallopian tube and a section of my intestines. But praise to be alive! After waking, I was told that they were moments away from cutting me completely open and having to deliver our baby boy. But he is strong. Valor held on and was able to stay in-utero. We gave him the right name before we had any idea of the trials we would go through birthing Valor into this world. After the appendectomy, I was left with four incisions and a lovely jp drain hanging from another incision on my right side. After a few hours of recovery, I was returned to my L&D room for rest, healing and continued 24/7 monitoring of our sweet, strong, brave little babe.

To be continued.

29 Weeks

(photo taken at 27 weeks)

Time really does fly. How is it that I'm already 29 weeks along in this pregnancy? My OB appointments are now every two weeks and at my appointment last week, my physician asked if I am feeling any contractions yet — UMMM YIKES! Gladly my answer to that question is no. Don't get me wrong, Husband and I can hardly wait another moment to hold our squirmy little boy, but we also want him to grow big and strong before his arrival. Plus, we still have lots to do around our house. Me, being me, I thought it was a good idea to hand-make a mobile for Valor's crib. What a joke! 29 weeks along and I've done about one sixth of the project...yea, you do the math...I better get into gear and start sewing faster (err, actually working on it). We have a door to hang in our laundry room, some basic organization projects and I want to get one major deep clean in before his arrival. For me, summer is hard to get things done because I'd rather be outside. My dear friend just welcomed her healthy baby boy into this world, but he was 15 days early and made me realize...I may not make it to my due date and need to be ready early. So after this post, I am dedicating today to work, work, work!

Baby Size: Valor is now the size of an acorn squash! He measures about 15.2 to 16.7 inches long. Right now, he weights a little over 2.5 pounds. Can you believe he will triple in weight before birth?

Weight Gain: As you know, weight gain has been a struggle over the course of this pregnancy. It may not look like it (which I think is so odd), but I've only gained 13 pounds this entire course, two pounds in the last month. My OB really wants me to continue to up my calories and to gain at minimum, another 10 pounds before delivery. I guess all 13 pounds have really gone just to my belly. Hey, I'm not complaining! I've been told from numerous sources that you cannot tell I am pregnant at all, not even from the back, only when you see my big-smuggled-basketball-belly.

Overall Feeling: I am doing okay. Thankfully I think I can honestly say, "MORNING" SICKNESS IS OVER! I haven't gotten sick in about two weeks! But, if it isn't one thing, it is another. I definitely can feel my organs being squished and have been struggling for a little while now with some severe back pain. I do great if I can stand, but the sitting really gets to me and unfortunately with work and then two hours of commuting in my car each day, the evenings are a little difficult. Thankfully, as all of you know by now, I have the world's greatest husband who lovingly rubs my back in the evenings and bought me a prenatal massage — which I need to schedule. I've been trying to hold off scheduling, but think I am about ready to break down and cash that day!

Excited For: At my 24 week update I said I couldn't wait for Husband to feel Valor's kicks, and he now has, which is awesome. Now that the time is getting closer, I am becoming more and more eager to see Husband as a Daddy. I've seen him with very limited amount of babies, and with him being his family's baby, there weren't any to follow. I know, with his personality, he is going to make the best Daddy!

Advice Needed: I have searched all of Pinterest and the web for hospital packing lists. There are so many out there! Some of them look as though I could be packing for a trip around the globe! What do we really need to be bringing? Also, being that I am delivering an hour away from home (without traffic issues) I want to make sure I bring everything that we need, because Husband won't be just "running home quickly" to grab something we forgot. Recommendations are much appreciated!

All the time we wondered and wondered, who is this person coming, growing, turning, floating, swimming, deep, deep inside. — Crescent Dragonwagon

PS — Fun Fact: This post is number 100 on The Passionate Parsley!

Babymoon Staycation Recap

Sometimes coming off a weekend can be a little hard when the 5:00 am alarm sounds on Monday morning. Or maybe a little hard when sitting in traffic or sitting in a meeting that's dragging on way too long. But this Monday I am tired, but still flying a bit high from my excellent weekend — my babymoon staycation with Husband. Yes, it's back to the grind for us. Yes, by 7:00 am today we already had major discussions of budget, school loan payments and what on earth we are going to do about childcare, but that has definitely not taken away the wonderful memories of a well-spent weekend.

This past loooong weekend, Husband and I dedicated it as our babymoon staycation. Friday we slept in (ahhhh), I made red-white & blueberry cinnamon rolls. We leisurely enjoyed piping hot coffee on our patio and simple, laid-back conversation.

We went to the local 4th of July parade, then came home and enjoyed more of each other's company on our patio, took a nap and made grilled vegan pizza. The day closed at a local firework display with a couple of dear friends.

Saturday we took a day trip to Milwaukee and toted Braxton along with us. We shopped the South Shore Farmer's Market, purchased a big, warm bag of fresh kettle corn, sat underneath a huge maple tree to snack on our purchase, enjoyed the live musician and watched a local painter sit and recreate the lively scene on his stretched canvas.

A little later Saturday we walked along the lakeshore, soaked in the glistening water dotted with sailboats. Honestly, I don't know what could make for a more beautiful or relaxing scene. Then we finished up our day enjoying vegan burgers on the Stack'd patio — a local beer for Husband and a local root beer for me. On our way out of town, we had to stop at Babe's, which has a huge selection of vegan ice cream and toppings — talk about a happy pregnant woman!

Sunday again was very low-key and a much needed day of rest. For brunch we went to Barbakoa, a local modern Latin bistro and ate way too much! We ordered pomegranate-ginger-habenero nojitos (a virgin mojito) — probably the best and most fun drink I've had since being pregnant. Haha! Waiting for our meal, we noshed on a guacamole and salsa flight. Corn, wild mushroom and fire roasted poblano tacos on homemade corn tortillas, sushito peppers, and for a sweet finish — cantaloupe, watermelon, jicima, and pineapple, dusted with a spicy piquin pepper powder. Is this post making you hungry? 

We closed out our babymoon staycation, way too fat and happy. We spent the rest of our Sunday afternoon walking around a nearby outdoor shopping center and bought Valor the cutest little sweater. So maybe we didn't go on the actual vacation that we were hoping for, but we did get dedicated time together. Time where we pushed everything aside — conversations of to-do checklists, schedule logistics, and whatever other everyday business we need to take care of, and just soaked in the weekend together which, as you know, is an extreme rarity for our family. I am just so blessed to call Nick my Husband and very soon, Valor's dad. There isn't a better guy out there for me or our family!