A Bunny Themed Baby Shower

One of my favorite parts of hosting a party is developing the theme. I love thinking about components such as who we’re celebrating, what the occasion is, what time of year it is, and what would make it memorable to help me decide the right direction to take. I usually toss around a few ideas until the right one just sticks. And when that happens, it’s one of my favorite moments because then I can start fine-tuning the vision and bringing it to life!

When it came to planning Katherine’s Baby Shower with my friend Rachel, we knew we wanted to really get the details right. Katherine is someone who appreciates sweet touches, beauty, and design, so we knew putting our energy into these areas would mean a lot to her.

As Katherine was designing her nursery, bunnies emerged as a subtle theme. It wasn’t over-the-top or even that intentional, I don’t think. She was just drawn to a few bunny elements and it started to develop from there. So, this is where we ended up landing for the shower theme, and I just love it!

As with any theme, we wanted to steer clear from a cheesy or overdone approach. We wanted it to feel classic and “baby” as well as special and attractive. Also, Katherine was planning to incorporate a surprise gender reveal at the shower so we couldn’t be too gender specific in our decor. But, I do feel like there is always a little room to have feminine touches at a baby shower because after all, the Momma is a girl!

The sweet little bunnies, greenery, and linens made for a perfectly charming and meaningful day. I’ll share a few details as we go, too, in case you want to replicate anything you see! Enjoy!

Photos by Mary Margaret Smith

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We found these adorable little bunnies at Michael’s, and they were a subtle surprise in our flower arrangements.

Rachel found inspiration for the greenery bunny online, and we used floral wire wrapped in paper, floral tape, and fresh greenery from Trader Joe’s to create our own! Then, we accented it by using floral hoops in different sizes with ribbons hot glued and greenery wrapped with floral tape. It was whimsical and sweet.


Y’all. This cake! I can’t even. I loved it so much! It was delicious for one, but also so perfectly lovely I could squeal. Our favorite local baker, Bec’s Cakes, created this wonder and took the bunny ears we made to finish it off! We saw the idea online and shaped these bunny ears out of the same paper-wrapped floral wire we used for the large greenery bunny.


The bunny cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches were as tasty as they are cute! A perfect touch for our mid-afternoon celebration.


Katherine loves to read, so when we found this antique bunny made to rest on books, we knew we had to get it for her. It doubled as shower decor and a gift, which is always fun!


Sweet Katherine. This image just gets me. We were all so excited to celebrate her and Baby Stone, and to see the look on her face when she walked into her shower was the best. There’s nothing like putting your heart into a celebration for someone and them receiving all the love you hoped they would through every detail.

surprise gender reveal

Katherine and Scottie had been keeping the gender of their baby a secret for her whole pregnancy. Then came the idea to reveal it at her baby shower. I love gender reveals and baby showers so this was so exciting to me! We gathered everyone outside for a group photo. After the photographer took a couple “test shots” she said, “Alright on the count of three everybody say…” and at that moment Katherine yelled out,

“IT’S A GIRL!!!”

You can see the delight and surprise on everyone’s faces as they heard this exciting news! It was such a special moment and such a special shower for such a special friend.


A Bunny Themed Baby Shower


15 Minute Family Beach Photo Session

One of my focuses for the year is to embrace my role as our Family Storyteller. I have informally occupied this role for a while now, but making it my official title (given to me by myself!) reminds me of the importance and value this job holds.

One of the ways I love telling the story of our family is through photos. It’s something Woody and I have valued spending time and money on since we were engaged. We’ve done big shoots, small shoots, planned-out shoots, and spur-the-moment shoots. We’ve worked with photographers we’ve hired and photographers who are friends (let’s be real, they all end up being our friends!). No matter how we’ve done it, I’m always glad we did.

Despite what you might think (and what I often think), you don’t have to plan perfectly to get photos you love.

Today I’m sharing one of my favorite family shoots we’ve had. It happened this summer at the beach. We were there with two other couples, including one of my best friends, Rachel, who is a very talented photographer. Obviously already being with a photographer was super helpful, but even so, all the rest came together with little to no planning. So, hire yourself a photographer and don’t overthink the rest!

We decided that day we’d all do photos. I didn’t know what we’d all wear until that day, and I did my own hair and makeup (as I usually do any time we get photos taken). Fox was 18 months old, cute as can be, but not 100% cooperative. I was 30 weeks pregnant with Mae and easily winded walking in the sand. We didn’t plan poses, pin inspiration, or find the perfect location. We simply got cleaned up, walked down to the beach access closest to our rental house, and spent 15 minutes laughing with our toes in the sand.

But what a precious story these photos tell. They remind us of the changing season as we were preparing to add another little life to our crew. They celebrate chubby baby legs, summer heat, and sun-kissed skin. They tell our story as young parents, a couple in love, and Fox’s first beach vacation. This little moment in time is one worth preserving. And I know I’m biased, but the result is pretty near perfect to me.

Woodcock Beach-0001.jpg
He did  not  want to let go of my hand…

He did not want to let go of my hand…

…as you can see.

…as you can see.

Photos by Rachel Coffey Photography

How do you preserve your family’s story? What matters most to you? Do you have any favorite photo shoot experiences? I’d love to hear!

Newborn + Postpartum Faves

The birth of Mae began my second adventure into “newborn life,” and I’m learning so much. I knew it was true, but there is nothing like having two babies of your own to prove to you that every baby is different!

Woodcock babies

Mae is her own person, and being a little more relaxed this time around is allowing me to enjoy learning her and figuring out what she needs with more ease and confidence than I had as a brand new mom. Part of this process has included identifying some key items that have become “must-haves” for us, and when I find something I love, I gotta share it. There are SO many items out there for Moms and babies, and sometimes it’s helpful to have a friend help you wade through the masses to pick out a few treasures.

This is not intended to be a comprehensive list of ALL the things you need in newborn/postpartum life (although here’s a little tip—what you actually need is most likely less than what you think you need); I simply want to highlight the items that are either new favorites or have become trusty go-to’s with both babies for us. I’ll say it again, every baby is different, so you have to figure out what works for you, but my hope is that each Momma will be able to find at least one gem from this list!



Vava Nightlight

I think I will get this nightlight as a baby shower gift for people from now until forever. This thing is amazing! It’s chargeable (and the charge lasts for days/weeks depending how often you use it), portable, and touch-activated making it incredibly convenient. It has two different light temperatures and is dimmable, too. It’s wonderful for late-night feedings and diaper changes when you might not want to make a lot of noise or have a lot of light. It’s also great to travel with if you’re unsure what kind of lighting situation you’ll have.

baby lounger

We have loved the Boppy Newborn Lounger with both babies. It’s lightweight and has a handle so it’s easy to take from room to room or on a trip. It’s a cozy spot for baby with a slight incline so their head is lifted and they can see what’s going on around them. Mae sits in it happily while I’m getting ready, cooking, pumping, you name it! Because it’s so easy to put anywhere, it allows me to be close to her when I’m not able to hold her, and that’s something we both love. I really can’t imagine newborn life without it.

I also wanted to give an honorable mention to the Dock a Tot. We’ve used it with Mae, and so far it’s been great. It’s a pricier item, so we were thankful when a friend offered to loan us theirs. It’s lightweight and easy to transport just like the Boppy lounger, and it’s nice when you need a portable, convenient sleeping spot or to let the baby lay flat and kick around. I don’t think I would pay full price for one, but since we got to borrow this one, I am glad we have it.

covered goods four-in-one cover

This four-in-one cover is one of my favorite items. Both my babies were born in cold weather months, and this is wonderful to put over their car seat to protect them from the cold air and germs. I imagine I would use it in the summer too because it would block out light and any hands that want to reach in to touch baby. Also, it’s a lightweight nursing cover that I take everywhere. It took me a while to get used to using it with Fox, but with Mae it’s been so helpful. Someone actually referred to it as my “magic striped blanket” because every time I pull it out she gets calm (a.k.a. she gets to eat)!

burt’s bees burp cloths

These burp cloths are so soft and ideal in size. With Fox, I had all different kinds of burp cloths, and I ended up only wanting to use my favorites. This time, I have 12 of the Burt’s Bees and I never have to question if I’m getting a “good one” or not. It removes any decision making and keeps me well stocked with burp cloths (a MUST in those early months!).

my brest friend nursing pillow

As cheesy as the name may be, this has truly been a good friend for me with both my babies! I like this nursing pillow because the firmness of the pillow gives me and my baby quality support, the buckle helps it stay in place, and its soft. The pad around the back is so comfortable, and especially as my babies have gone from newborn to bigger babies, the My Brest Friend gives me much needed relief for my back, shoulders, and neck during nursing.

solly baby wrap

There are many baby wraps out there, and I’ve heard positive reviews of many of them, but the Solly Baby Wrap has been the winner in our home. I wasn’t very confident using it with Fox so I only used it a handful of times, but I’ve already used it dozens of times with Mae. It calms her down when she is fussy, and she takes a nap in it almost every day. It’s also really helpful as a mom of two because it gives me free hands to love on and care for my toddler while also keeping Mae content and getting little newborn snuggles. I love getting to be near my girl while having the option to have my hands free.

Sleepers with hand covers

Newborns tend to have fast-growing, sharp fingernails that are hard to cut, and these sleepers make protecting them and you so easy! I especially love using these at night when she might scratch her face the most, and they’re also nice when nursing so she doesn’t poke me with those sharp little nails.

zutano baby shoes

After two months of tiny little socks falling off Mae’s feet constantly, I finally bought these Zutano booties with an Amazon gift card we were given, and they’re fabulous! They stay on her feet so well and keep them warm. I got the fuzzy style for her first pair since it’s winter, and I plan to get the cotton ones for spring/summer.

Spectra Pump

A friend recommended this pump, and I was very intrigued because she said it helped her express more milk and was quieter than other pumps. I still had my pump from Fox, and figured if I wanted this new one, I’d have to buy it or receive it as a gift. Then, a friend who saw it on my baby registry told me she got the same one and it was covered by insurance. After looking into it, I was so delighted to see that my insurance covered it, too. With her recommendation, I ordered it through Aeroflow, and it was a pleasant, streamlined experience. I love this pump for many reasons: it has a massage mode and expression mode to help simulate how your baby eats, a handle for easy transport, a timer to see how long you’ve been pumping, a nightlight, and two options for adjusting the frequency and intensity with which it expresses the milk. Also, it doesn’t hurt that it comes in pretty colors.


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GapFit Leggings

gilligan & o’malley nursing bras

In my second season of nursing, I have been much more savvy with my nursing bra situation. I have lightweight bras to wear at nighttime and more structured bras with better coverage for daytime. But, my favorite one by far is this one by Gilligan & O’Malley of Target. It is comfortable enough to sleep in, but also has enough coverage and structure to wear with clothes (and I think the color is pretty!). It appears they have limited quantities remaining, but I’d recommend this brand overall for comfort and price point.

Witch hazel

A friend and fellow Momma who happens to be a nurse gave this Witch Hazel to me at my baby shower for Fox, and it’s been a staple for me both pregnancies and postpartum. Its very helpful for postpartum healing (specifically for a vaginal birth), and it’s an overall great way to clean and soothe sensitive areas. I have used both the bottle and these pads (which are the same ones they gave me in the hospital).

rainbow light prenatal vitamins

These are an obvious item on a pregnant and postpartum woman’s list, but I just love this brand so much I wanted to share. I have used them in both my pregnancies and postpartum, and they’ve worked well for me.

no bake lactation bites

I think I ate my weight in these lactation bites after I had Fox, and I’ve loved them with Mae, too. They taste delicious, have ingredients to help with milk production, and are great snacks when you’re starving but don’t have time to eat much or its the middle of the night and you need something small and quick.

gap-fit maternity leggings

Postpartum clothing could be a post in and of itself, and honestly, its so subjective. It depends on how your body changes, if you go back to work or stay home, what climate you live in, what time of year your baby is born, and plenty of other factors! But for me after having Mae, these Gap leggings have been my uniform. I like them because the fabric is comfortable and breathable and nice enough to wear out and about. The maternity panel isn’t too big so it provides good coverage and support postpartum without falling down. I ended up getting two pair, and I’m so glad I did because I haven’t managed to get back in my regular laundry routine just yet. ;)

So, there’s my list! I imagine it will be ever evolving, but I hope it’s helpful. I’d also love to hear any favorites you have that I should try!

Affiliate links are used in this post!

Dear Momma,

I recently saw a pregnant Momma ask on Instagram for advice as she becomes a first-time Mom, and as I went to write her a response, I realized I had a lot on my heart to share. I’ve been thinking about the transition of welcoming a new baby myself as we’re about to have our second little one, and in the midst of that I’ve felt an almost gravitational pull toward new Mommas. It’s not because I think I’m an expert or have some magic secret to share, but it’s because my heart is so tender toward this season of a woman’s life. I want to give the Moms I see a hug, invite them to take a deep breath, look them in the eye, tell them what an incredible job they’re doing, and encourage them to let go of all the pressure they’re putting on themselves.

maternity photos_mattye woodcock

I expect that much of this comes from the fact that it’s what I needed more than I ever realized in my first months of motherhood. I’ve learned so much since Fox was born, and I can only imagine all there is yet to learn.

Let me paint a little picture of myself for some context.

I’m a creative, an idealist, and a hopeful romantic. I love when this all comes together for dreaming big dreams, making things special, and loving people well. I don’t love it when this all comes together in the form of unrealistic expectations, pressure to be perfect, and focus on things that aren’t what matter most.

As you might imagine, with these qualities, approaching the birth of my first child I was really feeling the pressure (from myself) to live up to this grand life experience. I felt like I needed to know all the things, do all the things, and prepare all the things so I could be the perfect Mom for my perfect baby.

Perhaps this true story paints the picture even a little more clearly: on February 1, 2017, when I was most definitely in labor, but in total denial (my due date was February 21), I sat with two of my closest friends (who were far more aware of how close I was to giving birth than I was), and I just kept saying “but I haven’t finished reading BabyWise!”

Like. that. matters. Lord, help me.

Half of you may be thinking, “oh friend, that’s not healthy,” while the other half may be thinking, “yes! I get you—this is me!”

maternity photos_mattye woodcock

In my attempt to control everything to be “just so” I came undone. This is why my heart is so tender, and part of why I’ve felt such a conviction to speak life and truth to other women in this season.

After feeling all of this for months, reading that gal’s Instagram post finally pushed me over the edge to sit down and type out what is on my heart to say to you (to us), sweet Mommas.

maternity photos_mattye woodcock

Dear Momma,

Take a deep breath.
It’s true, you’re not in control,
But someone is—remember God’s got this.
He goes before you, and He has created you to do this.

He chose you to be this baby’s Momma.
This baby.
This baby whom He loves more than you ever could (which will seem incomprehensible most of the time), and He has entrusted His little loved one to you, for a purpose.
You will doubt that at times, but it won’t make it any less true.

The world is full of information, directions, and formulas.
Don’t let all the rules and opinions rob you of enjoying your child and of being the Momma you’re called to be.
Your heart can tell you how to calm their cry better than any book.
Your prayers can be tailored to them better than any sleep schedule.
And you will be loving them longer than any parenting method’s popularity lasts.

You’re learning to be a parent just as they are learning to be a baby.
You won’t do it perfectly, and that’s part of the beauty.
Loving and learning require great doses of grace,
And great doses of grace are good for us.

You’re a good Momma.
You are.
Allow yourself heaps of grace, extra long snuggles, and tears when they come.
Cherish the moments for they only last a season.
The changing seasons aren’t something to fear; they’re something to embrace.
The growing, changing, and loving becomes more rewarding with time.

Sit back and receive the gift of your little one.
Take another deep breath.
You’ve got this because God’s got you.
I’m cheering you on, Momma.

Photos by Mary Margaret Smith Photography

Our Babymoon to Laurel

My mom and her friends often laugh at some of the modern traditions of having a baby: things like gender reveals, push presents, and babymoons. This type of fanfare just wasn't part of pregnancy for them like it has become for us. Of course, neither was straying away from deli meat or chicken salad, things that grace the no-no list for pregnancy today. 

Although I just came back from my second babymoon, I sometimes feel cliche or cheesy talking about it. But, I find the heart of it to be wise and wonderful. No matter what our life circumstance, it's important for Woody and I to consistently invest in our marriage, and in the weeks before welcoming a new member to the family, I find it especially valuable to take some intentional time away together. So, babymoon, it is!

32 weeks with Baby girl!

32 weeks with Baby girl!

Before Fox was born, we combined our babymoon with our anniversary trip, and we traveled to Fairhope, AL, to stay at The Grand. With Baby Girl, we also wanted to have a babymoon, and decided to do something low key and close. It was important to stay budget-friendly, and we didn't take as much time away as before since we have Fox and needed to figure time away from him and childcare into the equation.

This narrowed us down to the Southeast, and there are several places that are old favorites, but we wanted to try something new. We ended up choosing Laurel, MS, a decision which left many people asking, "what's in Laurel?"

We're longtime fans of HGTV's Fixer Upper (which inspired us to buy our own fixer upper), and when it went off the air, we decided to take a chance on the new HGTV show, Home Town based in Laurel, MS. We don't watch much TV, and Fixer Upper felt like big shoes to fill, so we didn't immediately fall in love with Home Town. We kept watching though, and it quickly became a favorite of ours. 

We love the hardworking attitude and authenticity of the show's couple, Erin and Ben Napier. As old home owners ourselves, we also enjoy seeing historic homes come back to life. Both of us having lived much of our childhoods in small towns, there was something about the homegrown, Southern community of Laurel that took us back to our roots. On top of that, we caught up on most of Season Two of Home Town during this pregnancy, so making a trip to Laurel in person felt like a real treat.

We picked Labor Day weekend, and fortunately, most things in Laurel had regular hours that weekend. If it continues in a similar direction as Waco, TX, after the years of Fixer Upper filming there, it won't be long before Laurel becomes busier and more booming. While it's been a charming town for a long time, I really loved the idea of getting to visit while it's still in the smaller stages of growth and notoriety that can come once there is a TV show about your town.

We had a great stay, and we already can't wait to return! Part of the beauty of visiting a new place is finding your own way and creating adventure, but I love having some solid recommendations, too, so here's a glimpse of our trip to Laurel:

Laurel MS Babymoon
Laurel MS Babymoon

We took this selfie right as we arrived. We were so excited to finally be on our babymoon! Our first stop was the Laurel Mercantile, and they had this adorable guide to Laurel from Erin and Ben of Home Town. I had already researched places we wanted to go, but this guide added to our list and confirmed some we already had in our plans.


We booked the Sweet Somethings Bed & Breakfast through Airbnb. The space looked just the right size for us, was at a great price point, and was nestled into the heart of downtown making it a convenient and enjoyable way to experience Laurel.

Upon arrival, we ended up meeting Joseph, the owner of Sweet Somethings, and he was so kind! He gave us our keys, showed us to our room, told us about the property, and let us tour some other rooms at the B&B. He also helped with dinner recommendations. It was just the start of the Southern hospitality we would experience all weekend long.

Sweet Somethings B and B.jpg
Sweet Somethings B and B
Sweet Somethings B and B
Sweet Somethings B and B

We lived in a downtown loft our first three years of marriage, so this took us back! We loved it. It was spacious and comfortable. Also, included in our stay was breakfast from the bakery. All we had to do was walk downstairs where we were greeted with tasty smells and cinnamon rolls blanketed in icing.

Sweet Somethings Bakery
Sweet Somethings Bakery

Eating, shopping, & SightSeeing

Laurel MS Babymoon

I reached 32 weeks pregnant with Baby Girl on this trip, and it was special having her tote along for all the fun.

We first saw Pearl’s Diner on the show, and as big fans of Southern cooking, we knew we had to make a stop. We ended up getting to ride out a quick afternoon rain shower as we feasted on some delicious fried chicken, the sweetest sweet tea, and more Southern hospitality.

Laurel MS Babymoon Pearls Diner
Laurel MS Babymoon Pearls Diner
Laurel MS Babymoon Pearls Diner

We got several recommendations to visit Guild and Gentry, a men’s store downtown. Woody enjoyed shopping, and I enjoyed the “Ladies Lounge” pictured below. Taking a moment to rest my feet was just what I needed to refuel for the afternoon.

We also got to meet Caroline, the owner of the shop. We talked as if we were old friends, and she is also expecting a baby girl about a month after we are! She and her husband’s home was renovated on Home Town, so it was fun talking to her about that. She is investing back into the Laurel community as they grow their men’s store with a barber shop and humidor room, and she shared some of the town’s history with us. Woody also got a pair of pants while we were there, and they’re some of his new favorites.

Laurel MS Babymoon Guild and Gentry
Laurel MS Babymoon Guild and Gentry

We did eat things other than Southern food (I promise!), but another delicious stop for some Southern cooking was Estelle’s for Sunday lunch. We both got the buffet and filled our plates with classic Southern favorites and a few nostalgic childhood dishes like creamed corn and jello.

Laurel MS Babymoon

The new Scotsman General Store opened a week before we arrived, and it was a treat to go see it in its early days. We bought old, classic candy and sodas, and got to stand around and talk with some of the owners. Again, everyone was so friendly and easy to talk to. It’s not hard to see why the town of Laurel is growing and thriving with such kind people caring for and investing in it.

Laurel MS Babymoon
Laurel MS Babymoon

You can see into Ben’s wood shop from the General Store. I liked looking at the pieces in progress. He wasn’t building while we were there, but it was interesting to see the place where so much hard work and artistry happens.

Other spots that we loved, but I don’t have photos of include:

Lee’s Coffee and Tea: this was my favorite! I had a delicious sandwich, chocolate oatmeal no-bake cookie, and the perfect iced latte.
Mimmo’s: Garlic Knots. Enough said.
Boutique on Central: I found some adorable, unique pieces at a great price, and of course, the staff was as sweet as can be.
Southern Antiques: one of many home decor stops. I love designing rooms, and these home shops were like a playground!

Laurel MS Babymoon

We ended our stay with a sweet stroll around Laurel’s historic neighborhood. Walking neighborhoods is one of our favorite things to do, and it was nice spending the last little bit of our trip holding hands, avoiding puddles, and talking. We got to see several of the homes that we’ve seen renovated on the show, too. I really enjoyed getting a feel for the heart of the place that we’d previously only experienced on a screen. 

We highly recommend a trip to Laurel. It was simple and enjoyable. We ate well, rested well, and shopped well. We met great people and felt like we found a home away from home where we can return to enjoy so many of the things we love about small towns and Southern life.

I’m happy to answer any questions about our trip, and I also always love favorite destination recommendations from you! 

Why I chose a natural labor and delivery

When it comes up in conversation that I had an unmedicated birth with Fox, people usually respond in similar ways, "Wow, you're my hero. That's amazing." It's certainly a nice sentiment, but I usually respond with "That's very kind, but if there is one thing being pregnant and giving birth taught me, it's that there's no easy way to bring a baby into your family. Whether natural, epidural, c-section, or adoption, there are hard things about all of them."

Having a baby is a special and intimate experience, unique to each woman, child, and pregnancy, and while an unmedicated birth was a great path for our family, I don't consider "natural labor" to be the sainthood of childbirthing that its sometimes treated to be.

The truth is, while its valuable to be educated and have plans (or hopes) heading into giving birth, we simply cannot control it. I am so grateful that my body and my baby cooperated with a natural labor, but I know that's not always the case. 

It can be hard not to have hopes or expectations about how birth will go, but what I try to keep at the forefront of my mind is that I want a healthy mom and healthy baby most of all. Also, while there are some medical interventions that would not be my first choice, I'm so very glad I live in a time and place where those options are available and safe. 

Before I continue, let me also say that nothing in this post is intended to offer medical advice. This is simply my thought process and my story. As always, you should definitely consult a medical professional for any of your birthing decisions. 

birth story
birth story
birth story
birth story

My mom had both me and my sister without medication. When she had me, she said that the hospital wouldn't even give her the epidural until she was dilated 7.5 centimeters, and at that point she figured she might as well just go all the way. With my sister, she had a natural labor with a midwife and home birth. She says that if she had ever had another baby, she would've chosen a home birth again. My sister and I are 10 years apart, so I remember a lot about the beginning of her life, including my mom's birth plans.

Having always known my mom had natural labors, it was an option that stayed at the forefront of my mind. In the months and years leading up to getting pregnant, and certainly once I was pregnant, I really had to do some digging into my motivation for choosing a natural labor.

Was it to "fit into a club?" Reach a goal? Impress myself? Impress others? Do what I think was expected of me?

Deep down, I was scared that I couldn't do it, and that maybe I didn't want to. However, over time, and through research, I realized that a natural labor actually was the most appealing to me. If I could help it, I preferred not to undergo the surgery of a c-section, and the epidural didn't sound appealing to me either. I didn't like the idea of the needle in my back, not being able to feel what was happening, being numb after birth, or the possibility of it not taking at all or only partially working, all of which I only knew about from friend's experiences or what I learned in birthing class.  

Probably the thing that confirmed my decision the most was that I did not talk to a single person who'd had a natural birth who wouldn't choose to do it again. Having never given birth, I wasn't sure what to expect, but that caught my attention. On that note, I certainly had many friends sing the praises of the epidural so I wasn't completely closed off to that either (again, with no experience in giving birth, you can only think about it so much because you just don't know the full story!).

So, my plan going in was to go natural as long as I could, and if at any point I felt like we needed to get the epidural I could. Also, if I ended up needing Pitocin to help my labor progress, I was pretty certain I would elect to have the epidural because I've heard contractions on Pitocin are very intense with little break in between, adding another factor to going natural. And, with my main goal of healthy mom and healthy baby, I certainly would not deny a c-section if it were the best way to keep both me and my baby safe.

birth story
birth story
birth story
birth story

My labor was long, but healthy, and Fox never showed any signs of distress. Now that we know his personality (calm and content), that is not surprising at all. Unmedicated contractions and pushing were certainly intense, and I do remember asking Woody, "why did I say I didn't want the epidural?' and at one point telling my nurse that maybe I should just get it. Both of them, very in tune with my heart in the matter, were so supportive and encouraged me to keep going, and looking back, I'm glad I did. 

Fox had a healthy arrival, and once he was here, any pains or discomfort from my labor seemed to fade into the background. All of the sudden, what had felt so intense and all-consuming seemed like a small thing compared to the enormity of meeting our baby boy. 

birth story
birth story
birth story
birth story
birth story

As for our Baby Girl due this October, I'm hoping to have an unmedicated labor again. My heart is in the same place as before: healthy mom, healthy baby is top priority. I'll labor unmedicated as long as my body and baby cooperate, and from there, we will pray and make the decisions necessary to safely deliver our daughter into our arms.

If you're pregnant reading this and considering your own birth options, I don't know that I feel qualified to offer advice, but I can share the things that help encourage and prepare me heading toward labor and delivery:

  • Ask questions, gain knowledge: The more I know going into it, the more equipped I will be to ask the right questions and take the best steps for me and my baby.

  • Don't compare myself to other women: My story is my story, and I know God has a plan for this baby and this birth. As much as I may be familiar with other people's stories, I don't know the whole picture, and making such important decisions out of comparison will not be helpful.

  • Be empowered: I trust the doctors, and I also know that I am my best advocate. I don't have the knowledge or experience they do, but I can ask questions like "what would happen if we don't take that route?" or "can we wait to decide for 30 more minutes?" or "are there any other options that are safe to consider?"

  • Be flexible: We just can't control all the aspects of childbirth. Being informed, empowered, and asking questions will help me, but at the end of the day, maintaining flexibility is so valuable in staying calm and focused on the priority of delivering my baby in a safe, healthy way for both of us.

I hope my story helps encourage you as you think through and prepare for labor and delivery. It truly is a beautiful thing and an amazing gift. God made our bodies to carry and deliver babies, and I believe there is nothing to be afraid of. As always, to the new mommas, longtime mommas, hopeful mommas, expectant mommas, and future mommas, I'm cheering you on!

All photos from the day Fox was born by Mary Margaret Smith