*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..

  2016 Easter Photos
  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.

*Amy's Adorable Baby Bump*

My dear friend Amy is expecting her second little boy, and I was honored when she asked me to capture that adorable little bump of hers! She braved the freezing cold weather with me in this beautiful lace dress so we could get some really gorgeous shots before little mans arrival. Cole might not look happy to be a big brother but trust me he is, he was just mad at me for cutting his nap short, making him stand out in the cold, and getting in his face with a camera. Cole is seriously the sweetest and I know he is going to be the best big brother ever. 

*KoaiiBaby 360 Cup Lids Review & GIVEAWAY!*

Back in January Ellie and I were asked to test out a new product, these awesome lids by Koaii Baby for our much loved Munchkin 360 sippy cups!! They sent me a pink lid and asked for our honest feedback. Now that they are available on amazon, we can share what we think with you! And if you know me, you know sometimes I'm a little too honest, so this will be no different. But 1st, photos! You can see the lids fit on the original, the short one with handles, and the stainless steel one.  I obviously ended up getting the pink + green + orange set but they have a blue + green + orange set as well. 

Let me start off by saying that I really didn't even think we needed a lid. The stainless steel Muchkin cup actually comes with a lid but I have NEVER used it. I feel like having to keep up with that little lid everywhere we went would have been more trouble than just cleaning the cup off so when I saw that this one would be attached to the cup I was so excited. No more dirty cup and no way for me to lose the lid, win win. It was easy to put on, I just slid it up from the bottom, and took a minute to make sure it was even all around. Ellie could easily take the lid off and after a few tries learned to put it back on. At the end of the day we both fell in love with the lid! It's one of those things that you never knew you needed but after using it can't imagine not having it anymore.

It's so easy a 2 year old can do it, see!

After using it for a little over a month I will share what we love about it and a few minor things I have noticed that *might* be a problem to others, even though they do not really bother myself or Ellie. We honestly haven't run across anything negative, to the point where we would stop using it, or would not recommend to others. I just wouldn't be doing my due diligence if I didn't list them out considering everyone is different.

PROS: 

~ Keeps the rim/top of the cup clean.

~ Keeps it from leaking when dropped or tossed in a bag.

~ Can't be misplaced. 

~ Has an optional hook for quick and easy access.

~ Is easy to use. Initial setup and everyday putting the lid on/off.

~ Easy to clean/wipe down.

~ You can mix or match the colors of the lids and cups.

~ You can easily add your child's name with a dry erase marker or ball point pen

And my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE thing about the cup (yes it deserves it's own little paragraph) is the fact that the lid creates a perfect "mom loop"!! I totally just made that up so let me explain.. I don't know how many times I have quickly swooped by picked this cup up with one finger. The little loop the lid creates when it's secured on is seriously the best thing ever!! Instead of having to take the time to stuff the cup in a bag or hold the cup in my hand/fold of my arm, I can easily loop on my finger and grab my keys, phone, grocery bags, toys, snacks.. whatever, in my hand or hold Ellie. First world problems I know, but I could not do that before without a struggle or multiple trips with all the crap that goes along with your toddler. If you are not a mom who always has her hands full you might not understand the gravity of this but it is HUGE to us "take everything at one time" moms.

CONSIDERATIONS:

~ The lid does collect dirt, but considering that would have been on the rim of the cup where your child would put their mouth, it is doing its job. Just be aware that you do have to wipe the top of the lid off sometimes.

~ The lid could flop over and land on their face. Once Ellie was laying on the couch and she tipped the cup up more than normal and it flopped over on her forehead. Only one other time have I seen this happen where it flopped over towards her temple. It did not bother her AT ALL either time and she kept drinking like normal. It typically flops over to the side or she has it under her hand so it doesn't budge.

And that's it.

So if you love your Munchkin 360 sippy cup like we do then I think you will love the Koaii Baby lids too!

Want your own?

Visit our Facebook & Instagram to enter our GIVEAWAY!!!!

Or you can purchase them now on Amazon!

*Happy Valentine's Day! One Day Late ;)*

This Valentine's Day snuck up on me..

Oh who am I kidding? I'm just a professional procrastinator.

I put off getting Ellie an outfit, put off taking photos, put off making something cute for her friends (sorry guys we really do love you!), put off making a super cute valentine's day craft, and obviously put off this blog. But it's only one day late so not too bad right?!

 Recently I've been obsessed with us matching (or at least coordinating) our outfits. I always thought it was adorable but I never even put that much thought into my own outfits before, so it's been a big change, but a really adorable one. I will add some cute photos Dorian snapped of the two of us, some I took of Ellie being Ellie, and some I took with Pulse, my fancy new toy, Dorian got me for Christmas. Best gift ever by the way!

Now here come my sappy Valentine's Day notes to my lovies..

Ellieana, words can't describe how much love I have for you. Every. Single. Little. Thing. You. Do. Just makes my heart want to explode. I seriously can't take it sometimes, you are so adorable and hilarious. You are so full of attitude but I love it. I know you will grow up to be strong, and will always stand up for yourself and others. I know your loving and giving spirit will continue to grow. I know you will forever be my best friend. I know that you will forever be my baby, and that I will always be there for you, and love you no matter what. You are so loved. By your dad and I, our family, and everyone that meets you. I hope you dream big, love hard, and never lose yourself. Never forget how loved you are. Never forget to show love, always.

Dorian, my love, my everything. Where do I even start? I am so incredibly blessed to be your wife. I love you more than anything. And I know you love me too. I love that you get on my nerves and I equally, if not a little more, love getting on yours. You are my best friend. I can't imagine life without you. Sometimes I still can't believe that our love grew this incredible tiny human. Our little family that is always overflowing with love is something I always dreamed, but never could have imagined it being this perfect. You are perfect for me. We are perfect together. I love you with all of my heart and that will never change. Thank you for always being there for me, supporting me, loving me, making me a better person, always taking care of me (and Ellie).. for running to the store when I don't feel like it, for surprising me with cookies, for staying up late with me dreaming about the future, for always bringing up my phone charger when I forget, for letting me drive the fun car whenever I want, and for always feeding me (bringing me something I'm craving & cooking deliciousness all the time). Thank you for being you. Thank you for being the best hubby. Thank you for being an incredibly loving dad. We love you so much.