A Letter to My Friends

You know who you are.

I just want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Specifically to my old best friends.. Thank you for always being there for me when I need it most. For letting me vent when I just need to complain about a bad day. For loving me for who I am. For not trying to blackmail me with all of the embarrassing stories you have! For making me a better person. For laughing with me. For crying with me. For riding in the car with me. For giving me advice. And for understanding that life gets in the way of us talking, unfortunately sometimes for months and months.. But a HUGE THANK YOU for always being right there to pick back up where we left off. I don't know what I'd do without you. I love you.

Specifically to my mom friends.. Thank you for telling me to be somewhere 15 minutes earlier then I need to be. For never judging my messy house. For going places with me when I don't want to go by myself, even when I ask last minute. For not judging me when I come over in yoga pants and a baggy tee. For making sure I'm alive when you realize I haven't posted to Instagram in a few days. For feeding us, a lot. For loving me through my awkwardness. For helping me keep my sanity. For inviting me places until I get out of my "I don't want to go anywhere rut". And for making me laugh when I really want to cry after a long day. I don't know what I'd do without you. I love you.

Specifically to my tiny best friend.. Thank you for being my very best friend. For going everywhere with me, even though you don't really have a choice. For telling me exactly like it is even if it's something I don't want to hear. For sharing your snacks with me. For always knowing when I need a "big hug". For making me laugh every single day. For always keeping me on my toes. Reminding me that life is oh so short. For loving me. For singing and dancing with me all time. And for looking at me like I'm your hero even though I don't deserve that. I don't know what I'd do without you. I love you.

Seriously though, old friends, mom friends, future friends, Ellie.. I love you! And I'm excited that our stories are far from over. Always remember that I'm just a phone call away whenever you need me for anything, small or big.

Love Always,

Your awkward friend - Morgan

I honestly look at my friends like extra family! I've surrounded myself with strong women who I know will help raise me up, love me for me, and show up when I need them most. I know without a doubt that they will always be there for Ellie, call her out when she needs it, and will help shape her into the person she's meant to be. I'd do anything for them and I couldn't be happier knowing that I have incredible far-away-forever-friends and my badass mom tribe nearby.

Making friends has always been hard for me (which is why I'm extremely thankful to have found my people) but watching Ellie try to make friends is even harder. Her personality is similar to mine so to see and know her struggle, it just hurts my heart. She has several friends that she really loves, talks about them all the time, but she doesn't really know how to interact with them in the moment. It's something I constantly worry about but after a recent trip to the sunflower patch with one of her friends I realized that it won't always be a struggle.

She needs time to warm up and likes to do things on her own time, I know this, but it was still hard not to worry sometimes. It wasn't until I watched Ellie with her friend Manuel at the sunflower patch that I realized she really does just need time. We've had multiple playdates with Manuel where they end up in the cutest little "arguments". Seriously, they will yell "NOOO" back and forth across the room over and over! Neither one backing down because they are both so stubborn! And this trip was no different. Manuel wanted to give Ellie a hug but of course she yelled "No, I don't want a hug anymore" [*see photos*] and kept running away. But he would not give up, chased her all around, and she finally let him give her a hug. Even though she wasn't too happy about it, in that very moment I think something changed.. I think they became best friends.

Right after that hug she actually started being a nice friend and not her mean little antisocial self haha! She tried to show him a bumble bee, they walked up and down the rows of sunflowers together, he shared his snack with her, we took some more photos, and then they raced each other down the path and back until they couldn't run anymore. It made my heart melt seeing her actually playing and talking with him. I guess it shouldn't surprise me seeing as his mom Michelle and I click so well, but I just couldn't wait for that day to finally come. And it took multiple tries, but Manuel finally got Ellie to come out of her shell. He is one of her "people". When we were about to leave the sunflower patch Ellie even gave him a hug goodbye, y'all I almost died!

Of course I wasn't ready and missed that one but I did snap her yelling no and his hug, they are hilarious!

*A Letter to My Hubby*

To my sweet sweet hubby.. 

Today is our 3 year wedding anniversary. Getting married on our 5 year dating anniversary made this so much easier on my brain! We've been together for 8 years now! That's 2,922 days, 70,128 hours, 4,207,680 minutes, and 252,460,800 seconds. Holy cow, that's 56 dog years! Sometimes it doesn't feel like it has been that long but other times it feels like it has been many more. I can't imagine spending all that time with anyone else except you.

You are my best friend. My soulmate. My everything.

Thank you for putting up with me, loving me, and feeding me when I get hangry!! Seriously though, I can't imagine my life without you. Looking back over these last 8 years, we have been through a lot together. But we make a great team and I wouldn't want to take on the world with anyone else. After every struggle we always come out stronger. When I'm sad you know just how to make me happy again and when I'm mad you know just how to get me to laugh it off. I love that about you. I don't think you will ever understand me (I know I'm complicated) but somehow you always know what to do. What I need. You know me better than I know myself. I love you.

Words can't express how thankful I am for YOU and everything that you do for me. Every single day I think how blessed I am. How blessed we are. Sometimes I still can't believe that our love created and grew this tiny little human we call Ellie. There are times I look at you both and get so overwhelmed with love, I can literally feel it all around us. I can't believe it. We did that. We created a family. Our love grew bigger than I ever could have imagined. Every minute you spend with Ellie warms my heart. Seeing how excited she gets when you walk in the room, seeing you look at her the way you do, and hearing her tell me how you were her favorite part of the day.. I understand, because for so long you were my favorite part of the day. Now you both are.

I can't imagine our life being any better than it is. I know we don't have all the things we dream about (yet) but we honestly have everything I've ever wanted. I love you with all of my heart.

Forever & Always

Your Best Friend, Wife, & Baby Mama

P.S. 3 years ago it was just us. The past few weeks leading up to our anniversary I've relived our wedding day over and over in my head. I had never felt more happy, beautiful, and excited to start our life together. Now 3 years later we are a family of 3!! I'm not going to lie, I was dying for an excuse to wear my dress again, but I can't think of a better way to celebrate our marriage and our little family than playing dress up with our munchkin! 

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A HUGE thanks to my friend Caitlin Helderman who took these gorgeous photos & Maddie Hwang for my incredible makeup!

*Fly With Me*

I've been wanting to take Ellie to the Observation Park at RDU for quite some time but we just never got around to it. When my dad came up at Christmas it was obviously too cold to go then, but after seeing how nice the weather was going to be when my dad planned on flying in this time, there was no way we were not going! My sister Alex came up the night before and I invited our friends Maddie & Emma to join us too. I had planned to go before "Grumpa" would touch down so we could play for a while. Besides the deck were you can watch the planes take off, there is a mini runway, and a huge sand box.

When we got there Ellie's face instantly lit up. She ran up to the deck, pointed and made airplane sounds as a few went by, then went down the stairs, and up, and back down again. She ran around in the grass, on the runway, played in the sand.. And every time she heard an airplane she'd stop and look. My little rock lover was glued to an area under the deck after she found a bunch of rocks and a little place to hide them, she probably played there for an hour if not more haha! I tried to get her to hold her arms out like a plane when she'd run down the runway but she would just laugh at me and dance all around so I had to help her fly.

My dad's flight got delayed twice and when our friends had to leave we ran to Chick-fil-a to stuff our faces. I thought for sure Ellie would want to play there and we could kill some time but she just wanted "more, more airplanes" so we headed right back. We watched the sun go down and kept right on playing.

If you haven't been before, I highly suggest going! I was a little disappointed with the view, there are trees and a huge UNC building blocking a lot of the runway, but the whole experience is still really fun and unique. Quite a few people came and went but it never felt crowded and I loved that I could let Ellie venture out and still see her. We made so many incredibly fun memories and I honestly can't wait to go back!

A huge thanks to my sister and Maddie for taking some of the photos. Don't let all the cuteness fool you, they may or may not have been bribed with gummies for some of them haha!

"What if I fall?"

"Oh, but my darling, what if you fly?"

*Our Favorite Easter Bunny!*

Seriously, this might just be my favorite tradition ever!

I love how Ellie slept through her 1st Easter photos and last year didn't even want that much to do with Poppy..

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  2017 Easter Photos

And now this year, Ellie absolutely loved Poppy!! Ahh it was the cutest thing! She loved feeding her a "really big carrot", reading our "Guess How Much I Love You" book by Sam McBratney to her, and kept saying "aww Poppy is soooo cute".

Once again, thank you Tammy, Neil, & Sadie for letting us take photos with Poppy. We love her so much!

*Loved at Baby+Co.*

Recently our birth center, Baby+Co. Cary, has come under fire.

After many sleepless nights, lots of tears, and an array of emotions I feel like I need to speak out.

In the last 6 months, Baby+Co Cary, has lost 3 babies and a 4th was rushed to the NICU at Duke. They also lost a baby in 2014. After each one they diverted births to Wake Med Cary for a short period of time so they could review what happened to see if any changes needed to be made to ensure the safety of their families. They don't just carry on as if nothing happened because they truly care, they put all of their focus on what matters, making sure their families are safe!

There was some discussion amongst moms in a closed group on Facebook as this news was obviously alarming, extremely shocking, and scary to say the least. I am a member of this local and naturally minded birth group. Two of the moms came forward and were willing to share their story privately to anyone that sent them a private message because they wanted to help other moms make an informed decision. I can't imagine what those families were going through to begin with but what's to follow makes it even worse.

This information was leaked to the media by a mom in the group and reporters had the audacity to contact these poor mamas. As insensitive as that was, when they didn't get what they wanted, (I think it speaks volumes that none of these families wanted to share their story with the media), they proceeded to put out an article full of lies to use as a scare tactic.

I can't even explain how much my heart hurts for these families right now. Along with anyone else who has ever lost a baby, I wish nobody had to go through that. But to then have their privacy invaded, their grieving process interrupted, and to see an abundance of negative and judgmental comments everywhere.. It is without a doubt, UNACCEPTABLE.

Baby+Co. is a family. We became part of that family on New Years Day in 2016. If you haven't read or seen our incredible birth story you can right over here. Our whole experience was wonderful because of Baby+Co. and I will never forget how loved and supported I felt. I'm so blessed to have met so many beautiful souls that I can now call my friends. Not everyone's experience is the same, I know, but we are always there for one another!

Shock.. I was honestly in shock when I learned about the 3 losses over these past few months. At Baby+Co.?? Was I reading correct? I think my heart stopped. And I immediately broke down in tears for those families. I searched for other posts, reading every comment. Trying to make sense of everything. But I couldn't. It's all I could think about for days. I held Ellie tighter. I prayed.

I took everything I read in the media personal. I took everything personal because it was! Baby+Co. is my family, and those bias articles were aimed at harming my family. Harming the whole natural birth community we are working so hard to grow. Harming my beloved birth center. Harming those families that experienced the worse loss imaginable.. I do not know how those families feel and I do not know what happened. It's not my story to tell. But they are part of this huge family now. One that has so much love and support for one another. I'm so happy to be a part of a group who has surrounded those mama's in love when they needed it most. Even though we are all different and some are "crunchier" than others, we all have a common goal! To empower women to make their own choices. And we will not let this stop us.

I'm use to the wide eyed "Wait!? You wanted to give birth without an epidural?" or "You actually had her in a tub?" type of questions, as I'm sure many of us birth center/home birth mamas are.. To me people always seem a little shocked but are always intrigued. Typically more questions follow. And I'm always honest in why we chose what we chose, I have a very strong opinion on it obviously, but I never judge anyone who chooses differently. I picked what was best for my family and others have to pick what's best for theirs.

I'm without a doubt passionate, YES! I share our story because I have run across more people than I can count who didn't even know birth centers exist. People who didn't know there was any other way, that they actually had choices besides do they want an epidural or not. I share our story because I got to make my own decisions, they weren't made for me. I share our story because it was a magical experience, not a traumatizing one like I've unfortunately heard so many times before. And let me tell you, they are all almost identical. I'm not saying everyone should choose what I did, but I feel like everyone should know they have options. I didn't know anything about them until I got pregnant with Ellie and I desperately looked for another option.

Having this respect for other moms myself, I think, is what makes this whole thing even more shocking. Some of the comments I read from other moms.. I don't even know if I can put into words how hurt and personally attacked I felt. They were not only attacking Baby+Co. (again, without facts) but were also attacking anyone who chooses to deliver outside of a hospital. At least that how they made me and many others feel. One comment said we (naturally minded people) should just "go to a hospital and be grateful" and another said "it's almost like neglect on the moms".. Neglect. You read that right, neglect. I stared at that word for what felt like hours. I took it personally. Can you imagine how those moms who lost their little ones would take it if they read those things? The only thing that finally brought me some comfort was knowing how uninformed they are. We picked Baby+Co. because it was what was best for Ellie, myself, and Dorian. Our choice was far from negligent. We only thought of Ellie. Everything I did was for her!

My heart is still heavy though, as I know so many people are now judging Baby+Co., birth centers in general, and us naturally minded birth mamas based on lies and fear. Nobody knows what happened except those families and Baby+Co. I'm not saying they didn't do anything wrong, could one (or more) have been preventable? I'm not sure. But who's to say they were not doing everything they could up until the last possible second? That no matter who was there or what calls were made that the outcome would have unfortunately been the same? Maybe one of them was a bad call? I don't know. I don't know what happened but we are not entitled to this information.

I can't judge them for what happened. Why? Because I wouldn't if this situation happened at a hospital. Low risk does not mean no risk, and terrible things can happen to anyone including a doctor on call. I know it can happen, and I know it unfortunately does. But yet nobody blinks an eye typically. Isn't that sad? Hospitals just carry on with business as usual and without a tight knit community talking who would even put two and two together? Probably nobody unless one was definitely preventable and the family took it to the media. So what I will do is form my own opinion AFTER the investigation is finished and I hear what changes Baby+Co. will make to insure this does not happen again. Why? Because that's what I'd do if this happened at a hospital. If for some reason a string of newborn deaths happened at a hospital, nobody would judge the hospital unless they did nothing about it. But because Baby+Co. and birth centers are "different" and they are already under scrutiny, people are judging them for what happened prematurely and not how they handled the situation. But I for one am proud of how they have handled things so far. They have continued to protect their families privacy and been as open as possible with their current clients (because remember they don't owe the general public anything). And I truly think they are doing their best in this incredibly sad situation.

All I can share is our experience. And how it was the most wonderful experience of our life BECAUSE of so many incredible women at Baby+Co.. I got to know them and they got to know me. They cared for me and for our child. I saw first hand how they took every precaution to make sure we were all happy, healthy, and safe. I always felt safe! They went above and beyond for my little family. Some of them started after I gave birth so I can't speak for all, but EVERY SINGLE PERSON that I met along our journey at Baby+Co. was INCREDIBLE. I know they did everything I needed and more. I know I had the best experience because of them. I know we became family. I still go back to see them just because I miss them and I'm always greeted with a huge hug! I just went back yesterday because I wanted to check on them. I could see the hurt and also the love in their eyes over this situation. I trust they will do whatever it takes to change for the better.

So if you are thinking about having a birth center or natural birth PLEASE don't let this deter you. Go see Baby+Co. (or another birth center) for yourself. Reach out and ask questions. I'm an open book. Don't settle. Know that you DO NOT have to settle!

And if you know you want a hospital or medicated birth, I truly wish you the best. At the end of the day it doesn't matter how we become a mom (or mom of two, or three..) but that we did!!

I wish this didn't have to be said but please no mater which side of the fence you stand on, DON'T JUDGE. Be mindful of what you say. Be supportive. Love. Because that's all moms and babies really need.