Delilah Dior Dominica
A woman's journey exploring her passion for Faith, fashion and travel.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Warby Parker Winter Arrivals

When Warby Parker, a brand renowned for changing the glasses game, inspired me to review their new Winter collection, I was thrilled. I have been a long-time fan of the brand and somehow never knew they came out with season collections tied to current trends. I am more than impressed with their new specs and can’t wait to get my hand on a few, namely the ‘Louise’ ‘Percey’ and ‘Goodney’ styles. As someone who has been wearing glasses since the Second Grade, I view them as an accessory rather than just necessity. I wear glasses at least three days out of the week so I need them to make a statement but to also be practical.   

If there is one out of the box it-color this season, it’s pink. Shades ranging from nude to dusty rose are popping up everywhere and it’s the trend I most look forward to trying. The Louise glasses fit everything I look for in a pair of glasses. 


Neutral two-toned styles are perfect for Winter and the Percey style fit right in. The shape is a flattering nod to vintage frames while still being modern enough to be taken seriously.


Tortoise frames will never go out of style in my book. The Goodney shape is just too good. Warby Parker nailed the balance of thick and thin with these frames replacing the typical honey-orange tinged shade of typical tortoise with more muted tones in nude shades make these glasses a standout for me. 


Louise image roundup: image via Zimmerman. earrings. shoes.pants.sweater. purse.
Percey image roundup: image via Popsugar. necklace. scarf. boots.sweater.
Goodney image roundup: art via Ethan Cook. hat. watch. sweater. flats.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Welcome, Keogena

Keogena Na'Airah Lynelle Atogwe
7lb  20 1/2"
September 12 2016
one day old

Hi, friends! Our sweet Keogena (Kay-oh-geh-nuh with a hard "g") is one month old and we feel like we've known her for a lifetime. She is the perfect addition to our family and we can't get enough of her newborn snuggles. Now that I know just how fast it goes, I'm savoring every moment of her being this small, snuggly and sleepy. In both of my pregnancies, the thing that most helped me prepare for natural labor was reading positive natural birth stories. I wanted to share mine while it's still fresh to encourage anyone who had a first birth that didn't go as planned that there is hope for the birth of your dreams.

A few days before Oshiolema's first birthday, I stood in my bathroom holding a Clear Blue pregnancy test that read "Pregnant." We were absolutely thrilled, especially since just one week before my husband and I had both just gotten a word from the Lord separately on the same day that our verse for the year was Isaiah 43:19. This verse reads, "For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway in the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland." When we heard those words, we knew He was talking about my next pregnancy and labor. Our first ultrasound revealed a little Lima bean with a flickering heartbeat that stole ours immediately. They declared September 14th the due date and sent us on our way. I had a little extra pep in my step just thinking of how wonderful and dreamy this pregnancy would be. I mean, God had specifically said He was doing a new thing- a new thing in my mind meant "a much easier thing." Oh how wrong I was. This pregnancy was much harder on my body than the first-partially because my body didn't have much recovery time and partially because baby chose to sit extremely low for the entire pregnancy. This left me with alarming vericose veins, swollen discs in my back and round ligament pain rivaling even my worst sports injuries. I had a week long battle with food poisoning cooked up by the devil himself. We had lots of traveling to do and each flight took a serious toll. It was a daily battle to hold tightly to the word the Lord gave us, "behold, I am doing a new thing..." Shouldn't the new thing be a better thing? I often wondered. But I knew that word wasn't written on our heart to trick us or give us false hope. He is faithful to do what He promised. Fast forward seven long months to find a very pregnant mama packing up boxes for a temporary move to Dallas. 

At 35 weeks pregnant I was scrambling to find a midwife, pediatrician and doula in a new city. We didn't have a doula for my first birth and despite my husband being the absolute best birth coach imaginable, we felt we could really use some extra cushion just for added comfort from an expert in natural birth since my ultimate goals were to not have extensive tearing again as well as to shorten labor. Once all those things were in place I felt my whole body exhale. Since Oshiolema was two weeks early and this baby had been perfectly low and in position for labor for weeks already, we were sure I wouldn't make it to 37 weeks. Well we were wrong. My before baby bucket list ended at 37 weeks so each day past it felt like the longest day of all time. My Braxton hicks contractions were nearly as painful as the real thing and kept me on my toes. The day I hit 38 weeks my whole family made the hour and a half drive down to Waco for my baby brothers Baylor game. Within an hour of them leaving, I had my first big contraction. I was had intense cramping, got the chills and became pathetically emotional-bursting into tears when my son gave me a hug and feeling both nostalgic for a time when it was just us with no thought I'd a new baby and so ready to meet our new team member. I called my mom crying to let her know this was it. They left at half time, I let my doula know all that was going on and following her instruction I crawled into bed and kept timing contractions. Strangely enough, they never followed a pattern and after a few hours they stopped altogether. This was my first night of false labor. This pattern repeated every day for the next week leaving me angry, exhausted until finally I just set up camp in self pity. I had the same due date as many friends and one by one, everyone had their baby. By the end I would bitterly let everyone know, "just in case you're wondering, SHE HAD HER BABY TOO." My husband started singing his own rendition of -- "you went and saved the best for last" on a daily basis. (you should go listen to that song. you're welcome.)

her last day in this big ol' pregnant belly

I woke up Sunday September 11th with more energy than usual. We went to church and I found myself sitting through some of the worship because my belly felt heavier than ever. I noticed my contractions coming more frequently than usual but at this point I refused to pay any attention to them. This continued though the rest of the service, through oshiolema's time at the playground and through the afternoon and evening football games. Oshiomogho noticed a change in me and started timing contractions, finding they were perfectly ten minutes apart. They grew a bit stronger but stayed about the same time frame apart. Since my water broke well before I was in real labor last pregnancy, I was struggling to know how I would "know" this was really it. I didn't believe I was in labor, but all the signs were there and thankfully, Oshiomogho was more in tune with me than I was. He told me to get in bed and try to rest through them as he continued to time each one and comfort me with the labor techniques we learned last time around. After a couple hours I simply couldn't rest anymore and each contraction, while still manageable, took all my focus and effort to get through. In the next couple hours things got real. I only felt comfortable hunched over and my contractions were steadily four minutes apart. We texted our doula, Signe, and said it was time. 

She arrived an hour later and for whatever reason Oshiolema woke up screaming for Mommy at this point. This is extremely rare and I truly believe babies know when their Momma is in labor. My labor stalled from distraction and I remember feeling so badly for calling Signe and actually started to believe this was another case of false labor (really, Jill?!) I told her she could go rest on the couch and we'd let her know when things picked up again. Thankfully, once he fell back asleep my contractions returned to four minutes apart and quickly progressed to three minutes apart. After one serious "I will have this baby here on the toilet" contraction, Oshiomogho ran to tell Signe things were changing. All she had to do was look at me and hear my sounds through three back to back contractions and she said calmly but sternly "we need to get in the car." We woke my mom up to give her the baby monitor and the address to the birth center to bring Oshiolema the next day and for some reason it didn't feel real until that moment. We were having our baby and our first baby was going to become a big brother. Oshiomogho finished packing the birth bags that had been packed (and mocking me for a month at this point) and we were off. 


I have to admit, I was terrified to get in the car. My contractions were incredibly intense and only about two positions made them feel manageable. Unsurprisingly, in Gods sweetness and tenderness, I didn't have a single contraction for the 20 minute drive to the birth center. We listened to worship loudly, talked and laughed...and the moment we arrived at 3:30am my contractions resumed. My sister Brooke and her husband Matthew met us there which was so sweet. Matthew stayed downstairs and rested on the couches and Brooke was in the room the whole time, helping and supporting like a champ. I labored for an hour or so, and just like last time the only thing that would get me through each contraction was visualizing my body opening, doing the deep belly breathing I'd practiced the whole pregnancy and tuning out everything but my breath. Finally, it was time to get in the tub. I labored in the tub for my last birth but because I got in too early, labor stalled heavily and I had to get out. This the, I was set on a water birth and had been looking forward to that warm tub since the moment I realized this was really labor. My youngest sister, Becky, had been waiting for "the call" since she moved back to Waco for school and she started the drive back up to Dallas immediately when she got the news. She arrived about an hour before it was time to push which was so special for all of us. At 6:30, I knew it was time. I was exhausted and nauseous but felt so ready and so strong. A series of the most empowering worship songs came on just at that moment and my husband and I were actually singing and worshipping as I was pushing. The presence of God was so powerful through the entire labor, it was everything I dreamed it would be. At 6:50am after a few long pushes, I felt the greatest relief unlike anything else in the world and as I was catching my breath I heard my husband yell "it's a girl!!!" Everyone was bawling, my heart was soaring and the moment I meet my babies will always be some of the most powerful moments of my life. She had an unusually short cord so I couldn't hold her to my chest for a while, but I rested her in my legs in the water and admired this little lady that shared my body for ten months; partially in disbelief that she was mine and partially feeling like I've known her my whole life. She is breathtaking. I kept repeating "we did it" and "it's over" for the entire time I stayed in that tub. It's so surreal, the birth of your baby. It brings such an abrupt ending to such a long and transformative period of your life and immediately starts a new chapter. The switch from pregnancy to parenting is so fast and such a great picture of the selflessness needed to take this job on. 


I laid there on the bed with my love and my sweet nursing baby and was filled to overflowing with praise and gratitude. The Lord said He was doing a new thing and He meant every breath of that truth. I was laughing uncontrollably, walking around, eating graham crackers and sipping pineapple juice an hour after birth. I was giddy at the thought of how "myself" I felt. All the pain and trays and fear of my first birth washed away. Yes, it is a pain that can't be described. Yes, the ring of fire is real and intense. Yes, pushing a baby out of your body is not something one considers breezy, but now when I think of labor I think of this bliss that followed and I can't help but smile. He is so good. 


One of the best parts of the morning was when my mom brought our sweet boy to the birth center. I made sure daddy was holding Kaya so my arms were free to hold him and in he ran with a little gift bag for "our baby," grinning from ear to ear. He was, of course, a little tornado on the bed pointing out all of her body parts and smothering her in kisses. I'll cherish this moment forever- our first moments as a family of four. He absolutely adores his baby sister, his "Daya," and they're best friends already..she just doesn't know it yet(: My mom spent a few moments with her third grand baby and took Oshiolema home for his nap and believe it or not, after a little snooze for my love and a nursing session for me we headed home as well. We spent a total of seven hours in that sweet birth center. My mom had decorated the house in pink as soon as she heard the news and we knew we wanted to have a little "birthday party" mostly for Oshiolema to celebrate and understand how special the day was. We lit a candle on a cupcake, sang Happy Birth-Day to Kaya and said a little prayer. This day is one of my favorites in my 26 years of life so far, I love my Team. 


Im so thankful to my doula and midwives for helping me prepare my body for the marathon of labor. I'm incredibly thankful to my husband for staying sane for both of us in those last few weeks of pregnancy-being a rock of positivity, compliments, bad jokes and full of faith. He is my forever best friend that I get to make and raise babies with...it just doesn't get any better. And most of all, I'm thankful to the Lord. His ways are higher than my ways and His thoughts are higher than my thoughts (Isaiah 55: 8-9) and He knew just what needed to happen in this pregnancy to have the birth I envisioned. I pray in moments of doubt or fear or mistrust that I'd always look back on this day and feel just as loved by the King of Kings as I do now.

I am a bloated, sweaty, puffy, zombie-like mess in this video but it is a treasured possession. Even through the ugliest parts, birth is such a beautiful thing. Without further ado, Keogena Na'Airah Lynette Atogwe. Her name means "Beautiful girl who Seeks the Lord." 

Welcome to the World, Keogena from Jill Atogwe on Vimeo.

Monday, August 1, 2016

If Legs Could Talk


For a huge chunk of my life, people used to look at my legs and say "you must be an athlete." If you were to find a photo of me at age five you would see there is a hint of she-hulk in my blood. I was strong from the start with a six pack rippling through my pink leotard and biceps completely ruining my chances with that third grade crush. Even from a young age I wanted to hide certain body parts, very aware that I didn't look like the girls in the Limited Too catalog. These legs, however, always gave me away. I never got used to them-all sharp angles and bulky muscles and a calf muscle that was one part genetics and two parts hard work. They were the product of years upon years of go. Sprinting and dead lifting and squatting and ladder jumping and bleacher running and blocking and on your mark, get set, go. They stood strong and powerful-yet never quite graceful-through dance and cheerleading. These legs happily put muscle to use in soccer, lacrosse and basketball. They were put to the ultimate test in track and undoubtedly the only part of my body that allowed me to survive a college volleyball career. When my neck gave in, my back quit, my shoulder refused and my wrists caved, my legs only grew stronger. For 24 years of my life, I wished I had legs people would look at and say, "are you a model?" or "how long have you been dancing?" I have spent my time since leaving team sports trying to lengthen and elongate muscles to finally escape the legs that make finding the right skinny jeans something like finding a bobby pin when you really need one. I have been trying to change my legs since the moment I realized they didn't need to say "athlete" anymore. I had given up that title and wanted to take on a new one. Casual Pilates partaker? Daily jogger? Healthy but normal? The world was my oyster. This was my chance; my legs could say anything I wanted them to. 

As I write this, my right leg is propped up on a pillow with a surging dull ache and bruise like soreness. A cocktail of water retention and third trimester weight gain create a light padding of soft flesh from top to toe.  Varicose veins run from the base of my calf and wrap all the way up the thigh like purple and green ivy mimicking a snake slowly squeezing and trapping its prey. For this leg, I've been prescribed a routine of careful activity but not too much activity and plenty of rest but not too much rest. They are confined to long, thick, poorly ventilated compression tights and hidden under maxi dresses for the majority of the time. When they are free, however, I no longer hear questions like "what sport do you play?" More often than not its, "does that hurt?" 

Now, when people look at my legs, they will know I am a mother. They will see the tiny fireworks of purple dancing across the backs of my knees and know I have carried life. The swelling should go down, they tell me. You can get surgery, they say. The excess weight will be worked away. The shape will return. They may even rival the strength of their former days. I am confident of this. But I know deep down these legs of mine will never be the same, and for some reason, typing that sentence and swallowing down the acceptance of it has made me cry. Not for the vanity of it all, no it's something deeper. It's skipping the goodbyes thinking you're leaving something to come right back to it only to find out you'll never see it again. 

Motherhood changes us in every possible way, and even if we wanted to go back to exactly who we were once we shed every last pregnancy pound, once our babies are old enough that our wardrobe doesn't have to be limited to stain resistant and nursing friendly, once our swollen faces have returned to normal and our sweet babies sleep long enough through the night that we actually look human the next morning; once every last physical sign of carrying a baby is gone, we realize motherhood is actually written all over us. It's a truth that can be hard to swallow sometimes--especially if, like me, you're not the "I have earned my stripes! I am mother, hear me roar!" type. I can, however, say without even a trace of doubt that when people look at me I want to beam from the inside out with the two things that have changed my life: One, I am a child of God. Daughter of the Most High, saved by Amazing Grace. And two, I am a mother. 

My legs will tell my story. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

33 Week Update




Well, I had great intentions to update you all frequently this pregnancy. Clearly that didn't go as planned as we are currently 7 weeks out from my due date! People warned me how different this pregnancy would be. They said the constant bump photo snapping, baby book reading and rest would be a thing of the past-they were right. We didn't find out the gender so we're looking forward to the surprise of a lifetime very soon. Oshiolema was born two weeks early so I'm prepared for the fact that we could potentially meet our new baby in five weeks or even less! 



How far along: 33 Weeks.
Total weight gain: 30 pounds.

Maternity clothes: There are upsides and downsides to being pregnant in the summer. One of the upsides has to be the clothing options. Since I gave birth in the dead of winter with Oshiolema, getting dressed is just so much easier than it was this stage in the pregnancy last time around! The only actual maternity clothing I've worn this time is a pair of white maternity jeans from JCrew, my favorite Old Navy tees and compression tights made for pregnancy. I wear dresses almost every day lately because it's just too hot and uncomfortable to put on anything else.   

Sleep: I have slept so much better this pregnancy than I did with my first. The baby is so, so active but once I can get some peace and quiet in my belly I'm fast asleep. I'm certainly sleeping much less with a toddler and definitely have some random chunks of the night I'm just wide awake for no reason but mostly I sleep pretty well. Hubs started doing "the early morning shift" a few months into the pregnancy so I can have a little prayer time at 7 and come down to start the day with Oshiolema at 8. This way on those days where  he randomly wakes up at 5 instead of his usual 6:30/7, they head to the park or play in the basement so I still get to rest (which makes me feel so blessed every day)

Currently Missing: Energy, motivation, and the simplicity of not being pregnant. Hopefully that makes sense-growing a life adds a whole new level of self awareness that can be hard to keep up with at times. When I'm not pregnant, things like not having time to have a full meal or not having enough water in a day are a bummer but don't really make a blip on the radar. While pregnant, little things like that will affect my body for the whole day. I think it's just a way to grow in selflessness and awareness before the baby arrives

Movement: I'm convinced I just make really active babies. This child moves all day long to the point that I can feel bruised from the inside by the end of the day. It's pretty amazing and I wouldn't change it for anything! 

Cravings: I unfortunately have more of a sweet tooth this time around than I did last pregnancy and do my best to hold off on a craving until I absolutely.must.eat.it. I certainly have more aversions and things that don't sound good than cravings, though. With Oshiolema, starting when he was just two weeks old I had to cut out just about everything from dairy to soy to gluten and more. This reality put things in perspective that I want to have the healthiest pregnancy possible but still indulge here and there and enjoy this season. 

Symptoms: I have a mean case of varicose veins on my entire right leg and that has been the most challenging part of the pregnancy. They're really unattractive but also really painful and wearing compression tights in the summertime isn't the friendliest pairing. I have also just felt way more pregnant than I am since about the 20 week mark, which I hear is just part of the deal when you have two babies in two years.

Looking forward to: Moving to Dallas for a few months (more details to come) in a few days! My brother and his girlfriend came  to pick up my car and the trailer to drive all the way down to Texas last week so all that's left is jumping on the plane and settling in. I'm looking forward to meeting with some midwives, getting acquainted with the pediatrician and just making it our home for a while.

Exercise: I have been much more active this pregnancy than last time around. Obviously, there's the toddler chasing that keeps me busy. In addition to that I try to do 30 minutes of cardio and a little bit of strength training four times a week and sneak walks in here and there. Staying physically strong throughout pregnancy is really important for me and while it's super challenging at times I try to make it a priority. I have been feeling about 90 years old in my last few workouts though so if you're picturing me in beast mode with a belly..you're wrong. Think more Betty White aerobics than Serena Williams training. 
My muscles are pretty soft and I'm carrying a good amount of water weight everywhere but knowing that I'm healthy is the goal.

Favorite moments this week: Well, it wasn't this week exactly but recently I've been slowing down to make intentional memories while we are just a family of three. We try to eat outside in our screened in porch just about every night we're home to make dinnertime special, the three of us make a big breakfast together every Saturday, have a sweet bedtime routine I'm really savoring and so many other routines and traditions that mean the world to us. I am more aware every day that we won't be able to give him our full, undivided attention at all times anymore and while its bittersweet, I'm enjoying the time I still have to do so. 

Also, Oshiolema is only 18 months old so he can't fully grasp concepts like "big brother" and "new baby" but mannnn...dude is obsessed with my belly. Even before I started showing, right when we found out we were pregnant he developed this huge attachment to my bump. He will point to it and say "baby!" no less than a hundred times a day. He rests his head on my belly for comfort, is learning to give "gentle pats to baby" and encourages people to kiss my belly. It's just the sweetest thing and I know I'll be a giant ball of mush when it comes time for him to meet his new little brother or sister for the first time. 

Monday, July 18, 2016

Gifts for the New Baby

Newborn gifts have a sweet way of pulling at heart strings (of both the gift-giver and gift-receiver) and I wanted to share a few of my favorites for blessing the new baby. I have to say, putting this baby girl mood board together has me itching for a little lady in my life! Oshiolema will be a fantastic big brother either way and we're so excited to find out just who this baby is very soon.


  1. Fashion Book: I have been a huge fan of all the new fashion infused books for little girls being written lately. This Little Piggy Went to Prada seems like a precious addition to any little girl library. 
  2. The Laundress ‘Just for Baby’ kit: Though sometimes you just can’t beat the classics when it comes to laundering baby clothes, this new brand “The Laundress” Is something I can really get behind. All products are all natural, gentle and non-toxic, which surprisingly isn’t true for the detergent I swore by up until now. The packaging is pretty enough to elevate any laundry room and the signature scent includes traces of vanilla, lily of the valley and lavender- a welcome escape from the poop likely being scrubbed out of the back of that onesie. 
  3. Precious Shoes: Though I am still a fan of Freshly Picked Moccasins, I have been looking for sweet alternatives for the baby shoe collection. These sweet lace ups are completely impractical but I love a bit of an old fashioned look in a teeny tiny shoe.
  4. Non Toxic Teether: We try our best to keep all of the toys in the house non-toxic, BPA and PBA free. Yes We still have enormous plastic toys that just get the job done better than anything else, but I do my best to be especially conscious of all the toys that I know will spend most of their time in baby’s mouth. I don’t like the thought of baby spending hours upon hours every day sucking and chewing a toy unless I know it’s safe. This Doughnut teether is both adorable and completely safe. 
  5. Magnificent Baby Onesie: A friend of mine introduced me to this brand by gifting Oshiolema with a onesie when he was 3 months old. It was just before his first flight and she explained it would be life changing for our trip. She was not lying! Friends, this onesie is magnetic. That’s right. No buttons, no zippers, it’s just a track of teeny tiny magnets that stands between you and changing that diaper. It’s especially helpful on a plane or for road trip travel but just as welcomed for everyday ease. We LOVE our Magnificent Baby clothing and it’s a go-to of mine to gift the new baby.
  6. Hooded Bath Towel: this isn’t a new concept…I just can’t get over how sweet the neon pink stars are.
  7. Muslin Swaddle: Aden + Anias have undoubtedly cornered the market on the muslin swaddle (and for good reason- they are the absolute best in the business.) However, I love seeing small independent companies popping up with limited color ways of swaddles. The fabric is incredible and the prints are just so much fun. Nothing beats a graphic and cool swaddle to drape over baby’s car seat, use a nursing cover, wrap baby in or just have on hand for whatever needs come up. Every newborn needs a great swaddle blanket collection. 
  8. Mommy and Baby Book: I’ve gotta say, I have had a hard time finding sweet books about babies and their mommas. The books I have about Mommy and Baby are either strictly educational about animals or just not very fun to read. This book about a zebra named Ollie seems precious.
  9. Lovie: We were gifted with so many stuffed animals for baby in the months leading up to my due date and though you really can’t go wrong in this department, I found myself especially drawn to things with hand knit details and cool textures that I know baby would love. 


Gown:: I’m so glad my mom talked me out of the original outfit I proposed bringing Oshiolema home in. It had so many buttons and separate pieces that I didn’t even dress him in it until a month later. When I asked her what he should wear she said simply, “a gown.” I was so thankful for elastic bottom gowns in those first few days of life- baby was snug and happy and it was breezy enough to help the umbilical cord stump dry. I would update it with this cool graphic black and white version.
Toxic Free Toys: again, if I know my baby would be endlessly sucking and chewing on a toy I much prefer it be free of all yucky stuff. The rainbow wooden ball toy is so beautiful and fun that countless adults stopped us to ask where we got it. (It looks like a giant bracelet) Grimm has become a favorite brand of mine for toys like this
Black and White Book: I have a huge soft spot for black and white so I prefer things in that color way as it is, but babies actually much prefer black and white to ranges of color. Their retina aren’t fully developed at birth so all the pastel colors we think are so beautiful aren’t quite registered by them yet. This book fits the bill to be able to stimulate baby.
Neutral Sleep Sack: This is a gift for later down the line as Oshiolema slept in a sleep sack from when we finally stopped swaddling him all the way until a couple weeks ago. In fact, we still pop him in a sleep sack every now and then simply because when they’re littler it’s not safe to lay a blanket over them and now that he’s older he’s decided he doesn’t like blankets at all. This striped pattern is perfect.
Modern Memory Book: It is hard enough to remember to brush your teeth in those first few months, let alone trying to remember the little details of the days that make up baby's first year. Modern memory books make jotting down highlights and milestones both easy and something to look forward to. 
Wooden Car:Again, a toy that’s safe for baby to munch on and pretty to look at while they’re too little to do anything but eat it is a win-win in my book
Knit Crown: these crowns serve as beautiful decoration and perfect photo props in those early months.
Passport Cover: Oshiolema has been on upwards of 30 flights in his one-and-a-half years of life and one of the cutest things I've ever seen is a little baby's passport photo. If I know a baby is about to rack up some serious frequent flyer miles, this is the perfect gift. 
Unique Rattle: these knit rattles are so fun- nothin like a baby boy workin’ on his muscles

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Monday, July 11, 2016

Gifts for the New Mom

I was fortunate enough to have my first baby at the same time as some of my dear friends entered motherhood as well. Though traditionally newborn gifts have been reserved exclusively for the expected bundle, one of my favorite things to do was surprise the new mama with a little something special for herself rather than just a baby blanket or stuffed animal. Of course I think it's important to respect the registry provided, but I also believe if you love someone and they have just brought a life into this world I say why not gift them with something that says "you're amazing!" It's such a tender time for a woman-we're sleep deprived, not really feeling ourselves, in full on sacrifice-and-serve mode and our normal routines are completely out the window. I've found a little elevated special something can really brighten our days in that newborn haze.


Bubble Bath: This is my favorite bubble bath. The glass container elevates the whole experience from a quick dip to a long recharge.

Undies: This may seem a little personal but I love to gift a new mom with a set of simple and pretty underthings. They may seem to be mocking in nature at first- what with the mesh underwear situation probably going on currently- but they serve as a beautiful reminder that this phase will soon be over. Pretty underthings shall return. 

Chocolate: Does this need a description? I will say, receiving a luxury chocolate (from brands like Mast Brothers and Compartes) feels extra special. My own personal theory is that great packaging makes chocolate taste even better (: 

Juice: One of the things that made me feel most myself after having a baby was taking care of me from the inside out since taking care of me from the outside in (a.k.a. normal hygiene) was not always a guarantee. Also, those first few days of breastfeeding leave a mama absolutely parched. Gifting a new mom with a fresh juice delivery ensures she’ll get a big dose of vitamins and nutrients to counter-balance the heaps of cookies and casseroles being delivered. Greens like broccoli can be tricky on newborns stomachs while nursing but I never had a problem with other power greens such as kale.

Disposable Mask Treatment: Who doesn’t love being pampered at the end of a long day? Okay, now, who doesn’t love being pampered at the end of a string of 12 long days with very little sleep and questionable hygiene routines? These eye pads are indulgent and a bit pricey but they will be such a treat when mama needs to magically look like she has actually gotten a full night’s sleep at some point in the last month. 

Face Oil: My skin has never felt dryer than in the first few weeks home with a baby. Granted, I did give birth in the dead of January when air was dry and cold, but despite sleeping with a humidifier near our bed and trying to keep up with my skincare routine I couldn’t get the moisture I was looking for. Breastfeeding and drastic changes in hormones (plus too many nights of forgoing any kind of skincare whatsoever) did a number on my face. I found that a special oil made me look forward to my nightly routine and also came through on its promises. I recommend gifting Rodin oil. Her skin will be quenched, her bedtime routine will be elevated and her sink will never look better. (The oil linked is an absolute luxury but there are great face oils everywhere from Target to Sephora at a much lower price point.) 

Tinted Lip Balm: After giving birth the first time around, I gave myself six weeks to schlump around the house in a newborn haze. Milk stained t-shirts , greasy hair, glasses and yoga pants were the standard. After that I decided in order to feel like myself again, I needed to actually put myself together every morning. I’m not talking Kardashian “together,” just normal human “together.” For me, this meant getting dressed in a dress, a nursing friendly top and jeans of some sort, or a full on athleisure look as long as it was an outfit, applying tinted moisturizer, blush and mascara, and if I was feeling extra special- something on my lips. I learned quickly, however, that newborns don’t mix well with lip gloss…or lipstick. Tinted lip balm became my best friend since it offers much needed hydration as well as a smidgen of color that seems to make my face seem finished.

A few items not listed that I also think serve as fabulous gift include a gift card for a manicure while offering to watch the baby during the appointment, a gift card to her local Dry Bar, an offer to come over and clean so she can snuggle her baby OR an offer to come over and snuggle her baby so she can rest, and last but not least...setting up a schedule between friends and family so that meals are provided for the next week or so after the baby arrives. Nothing meant more to me in that time than a friend dropping by a homemade meal or texting and asking what my husband and I wanted from certain restaurants. Long live sweet friends! 

Friday, April 1, 2016

Oshiolema's Birth Story


The last time I wrote on my beloved blog, I was 8 months postpartum, knee deep in sleep training and carefully tiptoeing into parenthood. As I write this, my son-now nearly fifteen months old-is running around and I am resting my hand on my four month baby bump. (To those of you confused at the science of the months-along/baby bump size ratio...yea. this bump isn't messing around.)

Looking back on all that I have gone through as a woman and wife and mother in the past few months I know I have had so much to share, but for what seems like the first time in my life, I wasn't compelled to. It truly was a special time. I have learned and laughed and cried in the past few months more than I have at any other time chunk of my life and yet all those defining moments are tucked away in my heart (and external hard drives) just for me. Just for us. My family.

I've decided the best way to return to writing would be to share something incredibly personal that is long overdue; Oshiolema's birth story. This day has been playing more frequently in my mind than usual lately as I realize in a few short months I'll be doing some version of this over again. Before I begin, I want to share a few truths about my story. One: I knew well before I even got married that when it came time for me to have a baby, I wanted to do it naturally. Medicine doesn't mix well with me and after lots of research I found that natural childbirth was the best fit for our family. I have no judgements whatsoever on the way mothers choose to bring their baby into the world. Growing a baby and getting said baby out of you is an absolute miracle and I'm a firm believer that the Lord will show us exactly what's best for us if we ask Him and trust Him. Two: this natural birth of mine was successful, healthy and empowering but oh my goodness. It was hard. And painful. And long. Like, really long. If you're pregnant and at all discouraged by birth stories with a twist and turn or two then maybe this isn't the birth story for you to read in this season. Guard your heart, but trust that in the end a beautiful healthy baby boy was brought into the world by a sweaty butt naked mama on a stool;) this is a long one so grab a cup of coffee and some popcorn and settle in for a story.



Early in my pregnancy I had a vision of my birth and my younger sister was there. I have four sisters and this one in particular spent the first half of her life trying to make mine miserable but God is faithful and she is now one of my best friends in the world. I never pictured wanting anyone in the room besides my husband for the delivery-not a doula, not my mother, just us. After seeing this picture in my mind of my sister there, though, I knew it was from the Lord and we planned for her to move in with us for Christmas break (thank you, college, for perfect winter-break timing!) And she would stay until this sweet baby was born.

All went on without a hitch until I hit 36 1/2 weeks of pregnancy and Jackie realized her school started two weeks earlier than she originally thought. Instead of not having to leave until after my due date, she suddenly had to leave us two weeks before it. There was panic, sure, but part of me just knew she would be there. "Don't worry," I told her, "this just means this baby is coming early. Everyone said we were crazy because it's common knowledge that first babies usually take their sweet time, but we decided since she had to leave Friday the 16th the baby was coming Wednesday the 14th." And we were right.

Tuesday, January 13th at exactly 38 weeks pregnant, I woke up especially weepy and had a strange feeling everything was changing. Something strange happens over the course of those ten months of growing a human. At the beginning, for the longest time you can't even believe you're pregnancy. There are weeks (months, even) when you doubt you even are pregnant. Next, you know you're pregnant, you're in love with your pregnancy and feel you can be pregnant forever. Then, of course, you put up the eviction notice and decide you cannot be pregnant for a single second longer and begin begging this sweet beautiful child to get out of you. But for a moment, just a teeny moment at the very end, you realize nothing will ever be the same. This baby that has been so protected by you will now be leaving you. It's a strange stillness, and that morning I was deep in it. My husband prayed with me, wiped me tears and drove across town to grab my favorite biscuits and gravy.

Jackie and I sat by the fireplace for what felt like hours until it was time for our walk around 4pm (Determined to get this child out early had me bouncing on birthing balls, lunging up the stairs and walking miles every day. I was a woman on a mission!) I had been having Braxton hicks contractions for a solid month at this time so I didn't think much of all the cramping on our walk, but when I had to start bending over and taking deep breaths during the pains I realized something was different. We whipped out our phones to start timing the contractions and sure enough, there was a pattern. I decided I'd go home to take a bath and if they didn't stop or slow down then it was go time. I remember the bath being so peaceful, I traced squiggly lines on my belly and watched the baby squirm about. I put on a robe that made me look approximately 700lbs (though I wasn't far off at that point...) poured a bowl of cereal, sat on the couch and at that very moment my water broke. It was 7:22pm and finally time to meet our baby.



We had settled on the Bradley Method of Husband Coached Childbirth for our labor and had planned on staying home until my contractions were 5 minutes apart, but when I called to give my midwives the heads up about my water breaking they reminded me I had to come in immediately to start antibiotics because I was Group B Strep positive. That was a bit of a bummer since my contractions were so irregular and manageable at this point but we were prepared! After crossing off many highlighted lists, loading many pre-packed bags and calling both of our parents we made the five minute drive to the Natural Birth Center, which is more of a luxury condo than a hospital. It has no interventions so if I did decide I wanted any drugs or had to have a c-section I would have to be transferred, but knowing it was connected to the hospital gave me such comfort. It was now 9pm and I remember being literally giddy waking the halls of the birth center. When we arrived, my favorite midwife greeted us and walked us past a roaring fireplace, past a cozy living room and enormous kitchen (where I stupidly pictured baking cookies???) to the triage area for some vitals since I wouldn't be hooked up to any monitors.

At this point contractions were noticeable but more exciting than painful and I was only 3cm dialated. Oshiomogho sent Jackie home to grab his PS3 so we could watch season 8 of Friends (seemed like a totally rational idea at the time) and I'm not kidding, it must have taken her a total of 22 minutes to go home and come back but the second she walked in the door things got real. I asked to have the lights turned off, for my music to be turned on and started working through contractions as best I could. Needless to say...nobody watched Friends that night.

I spent as much time as I could on the birthing ball leaned over the bed, moaning and praying through contractions. Once they became too strong I decided it was time to switch to the tub. The enormous jacuzzi tub was the best medicine early on. I could swish water over my belly and somehow trick my mind into nearly completely shutting down-focusing only on music and water and breathing deeply. These contractions were so strong and overwhelming that it took all of my focus and attention just to make it through each second. I kept my eyes closed for the most part, but when it felt impossible all I had to do was tune into my husband. Oshiomogho was an absolute anchor for me for the entire labor process. He had studied so hard to be the best support system and I am absolutely positive I could not have made it through without him. He'd be the logic to my emotion, reminding me when a pain or change "sounded like something we learned," that it was totally normal and bringing us closer to our baby. He would anticipate anything I needed before I had to ask and would direct Jackie to grab things so he never had to leave my side, rubbed tennis balls on my lower back, followed extremely poor and skitsofrinic-like direction (push my lower back... no my upper back... nevermind please don't touch me right now...) and He never once stopped telling me I could do it. That I was doing it. And I needed that.

At around 5am the tub suddenly felt like it was caving in on me. My body felt like it was caving in on the baby. Everything was shifting even though I wasn't moving and it was absolutely unbearable. Up until this point I had been calm and focused, but I began to panic and looked at my small team of midwives and nurses and confidently told them I couldn't do this anymore. I couldn't have this baby. I wasn't ready and it was too much. Everyone helped me get out of the tub and move over to the bed to be checked, where I was faced with discouraging news that I was, in fact, only 5cm dialated. 2 centimeters in 8 hours were just numbers I couldn't get on board with. I was heartbroken. Exhaustion began setting in as my body was already so depleted. I hadn't had a good nights rest in at least two weeks before this day. I was low on sleep, low on energy and low on protein. Not an ideal way to start an all-natural labor. The next couple hours were excruciating. I switched frequently between the birthing ball, leaning over the bed and the tub. Each contraction was stronger and felt longer than the one before it and I was just sure that this was good work-progressive work. I was just sure the next time I got checked that I would be at an 8 at least. I was checked at 7am and surprise surprise, still a 5. The nurses and midwives seemed puzzled, but the worst part was that it was time for my team to switch shifts and everyone I had so bonded with and trusted was leaving me. I let my body do limp into my midwifes arm and tried to explain that I just couldn't do it without her. She assured me that I was strong, I was in the best hands, and I was a mother. The midwife that took her place was fine, but I had only met her once before. Just the previous week, actually. She wasn't warm and fuzzy but was instead direct and to the point...I was bitter.

The first thing she told me was that I needed to get out of the tub and wouldn't be able to get back in for the rest of my labor if I did indeed want to do this naturally. That wasn't the best foot to start off on since the tub was the love of my life at that point, but she explained I was only managing pain but not progressing in there and that I needed to get moving, and fast. I trusted her. I also cried.



We moved to the shower where I would sway back and forth draped over my husbands shoulders for the next three hours. I never stopped moving, or moaning, or praying aloud. I played the same four worship songs on repeat and never once stopped to consider that I might have ruined music forever for the nurses in that room. I remember saying the name of Jesus what must have been six million times over the course of those shower hours. It felt something like carrying a baby grand piano in my uterus and with every sway of my hips it was dropping lower and lower. The pressure was something I could never picture and never describe. And the contractions had become so close together that I found it hard to do much of anything besides anticipate, endure, recover, repeat. There was no break. No pause. No relief. I can't remember the exact time I was checked next, but it was then that my midwife noticed that I had been in intense labor for so long that my cervix had swollen a bit, preventing the baby's head from descending lower. She looked at me and slowly explained in what seemed like slow motion to me that she was going to pull my cervix up under the baby's head so that I could progress. It sounded terrifying, but I just couldn't bear the contractions anymore and welcomed anything that would speed this process up. It was as painful as it sounds, but I don't remember that either. (Thank you, Lord!) Shortly after this I was measured and was thrilled to hear I was finally at an 8. The midwife rubbed a mixture of essential oils on my belly and explained that this should help to "get things going." I received two rounds of fluids since I was so depleted and dehydrated...visions of my quick and easy labor had come and gone.

After some time in the rocking chair, rocking to the timing of my contractions and falling asleep for the minute between each one, I headed back into the shower since that's where I seemed to have the most progression. It was time to get back to work. My midwife came to the shower and did a concerned look at her watch and back up at me. She was aware I was GBS+, which is most dangerous to the baby in labor. She was also aware that my water had broken many hours before, breaking the protective barrier around the baby. She let me know that if things didn't start progressing quickly that it might be time to start thinking of some other options; which led me to utter the most transparent and foolish lie of my life. "Oh, I'm ready to push."

Oshiomogho was trying to be supportive and protective in the same breath and looked at me kind of shocked, since we both know when it's time to push-you and everyone will know it.
 "Wait, are you sure? You haven't said you had to push..."
"Well I do."
"Remember? They say you'll know it's time to push when if you were in the middle of traffic, you couldn't stop your body from pushing."
"Yep. I remember. That's what I feel."

This sweet man of mine shrugged a little bit and led me out to the bed to play out my poor decision. Ladies, don't push when you're not ready. Just don't. I won't go into tremendous detail for this portion but let's just say I still regret this decision today. I tried everything. I laid on my side with my husband holding my leg, laid on my back holding both legs, rolled to all fours...this fruitless pushing went on for about an hour and a half until I couldn't take it anymore. I went to the bathroom just to sit on the toilet and talk to Oshiomogho. I looked him in the eye and held his face and said "I don't want an epidural. I don't want a c-section. And I don't want to do this anymore. I can't do this. Tell me what to do." Soon after that, sitting on the toilet, I felt it. I felt the urge to push, and I couldn't stop. It's the strangest most wonderful sensation ever to know your body is ready to bring this baby into the world! My husband walked me to the birthing stool and I leaned back into his arms. I was a literal zombie at this point and could hardly walk on my own so pushing seemed like Everest. My sister was in front of me and the room had changed from quiet, serene intensity to a buzz of joy and encouragement and excitement. This was it!! It took a while to figure out just the right way to push but once I did things really got going. After pushing for a half hour they said they saw a full head of hair and I knew it was any minute now.

Oshiomogho switched places with my sister and prepared to catch the baby-he went to school to deliver babies before heading to the NFL so this was his biggest dream come true. I pushed with every ounce of life I had in me and felt everything that every woman said I would. The ring of fire is exactly that-there is no better way to describe it-yet I can't put into words how productive that intense pain of pushing is. I would take crowning over a day's worth of contractions any day! I have to be honest and say I blacked out at this point. Instinct took over and I don't remember a thing. I only found out the week after giving birth when telling the story to a friend what really happened! My husband cut me off when I explained that he delivered the baby to say "no, no love..YOU delivered the baby." I was shocked! Apparently this is what happened: with one enormous push Oshiolema's head emerged, followed one second later by a strong punch from his first. That's right, friend. If you're thinking, "that'll leave a mark," it did. So his head, clenched fist and arm were the first to break free, and when I opened my eyes to see this I started yelling "My baby! My baby!" In shock and pulled him out of me and laid him on my chest, Kourtney Kardashian style. I still truly cannot believe this. I feel badly that I took that moment from my love but am also so proud that my black-out instinct was to go get my baby.

 
(sorry for the cone head, honey...pushing took longer than I thought!)
 

Just like that, this 8lb 4oz 21 1/2" baby that I had never met but knew so well was finally in my arms. And he was a boy! I was able to nurse right away and we stayed skin to skin for an hour-though I will admit this was a bit of a challenge since I had to be stitched up extensively right away. Running strictly on adrenaline with a new human laid on my chest and trying to stay still for stitches took a bit of the sweetness of the moment away, but it didn't matter. We had our family. My husband, my son and I laid there in awe of each other. In those few minutes, one chapter closed forever and a brand new one began.
 

This day changed me forever. It was every bit as hard as I pictured-harder even-but God is so faithful. I have a friend who has four kids and I remember sitting in her kitchen asking for some tips on getting through labor and delivery. She told me, "I always just think, 'this time tomorrow I'll be eating breakfast.'" I tried not to react since I thought it was just about the most ridiculous advice I had heard yet, but she explained that she just did her best to realize no matter how challenging the moment was, no matter how trying those hours were, soon she would have her baby and tomorrow would just be another day. This deeply impacted me. I thought about it many times that day cold in January and I think about it now that I'm preparing to do it again. I will admit vulnerably that I was a bit traumatized by labor and it left me needing extensive physical, emotional and especially spiritual recovery. At the start of the year, the Lord put Isaiah 43:19 on my heart as well as my husbands heart on the very same day. The verse says, "For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?" I found out I was pregnant one week after that day. We took it to mean this was the verse that would define our year and I have gone a step further to say it is the verse that will define my pregnancy and labor. I hesitated to write this out on paper but I will cherish this story forever. I'm surprised to know how many details are already fuzzy and so I encourage you, mothers, to write your birth stories out. Read them any time you need to remember just how faithful our God is. (And then please, send them my way! I LOVE reading birth stories!)