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Never Alone

So this isn’t what I would’ve ever planned to post after taking over a year off from blogging but as I’ve learned many times over, plans aren’t promises.

I know this post may qualify as oversharing but when you experience a life-threatening event that results in a devastating loss you feel a burden to speak up so others walking that journey know they are never alone.

On October 23rd I found out I was pregnant with number two. It wasn’t a total surprise yet I was dealing with a range of emotions. I did not feel “over” our challenges with Mae’s first year. I did not feel strong enough to go another year (or more) without sleeping. I was terrified of postpartum depression finding its way back into my life and all of these concerns left me feeling numb. I can see clearly now it was fear.

Dave and I discussed it and as the weeks passed I began to release my fears and put my complete faith and trust in God’s perfect timing. We shared the news with family members and began to get excited. I was already nagging Dave to get the baby gear out of the attic and making a list of names. I had no morning sickness this time and had been staying active so I was looking forward to a more energetic pregnancy. We had also timed it perfectly with wedding season so I could easily take four months off.

On November 23, nine weeks into my pregnancy, I started to bleed. I called our midwife who suggested I go in for an ultrasound since I had not yet had one.  So I called Dave and together we went in. I was wearing this. The ultrasound tech’s stoic expression and complete silence confirmed my fears. I asked if she was able to share her findings and she quietly said “there’s nothing there”. Empty.

When we discussed the results with the midwife she assumed that I had miscarried very early without noticing and that the bleeding was simply a period. To be safe, she ordered a blood test to make sure my pregnancy hormone levels were decreasing. They were not. She gave it two more days and tested again. At this point she did express concern over the possibility of an ectopic pregnancy but said it was rare, and especially this far along. I began to get concerned because I had a wedding the next day and I knew from a friend’s experience that ectopic pregnancies were dangerous. When we received the results the levels had gone down so we took that as a green light to proceed with business as usual.

God’s hand of protection was so miraculously on me that weekend yet I still felt like I was in a bit of a twilight zone. I was confused about what had happened, was happening, or would be. A stranger stopped me at church and asked if I was pregnant. I didn’t know how to answer her.

Monday morning, November 30th, I was supposed to drive to Miami for a meeting and a shoot but thankfully they were cancelled. Mae went to the sitter and I began my day with a phone call with a friend. As we were talking I started to feel extremely hot, nauseous and dizzy. There was intense internal pressure in my abdomen and I knew something was wrong. I could not get in touch with my family but I did speak to my midwife who ordered me to go to the ER immediately. By the grace of God, I was able to reach my dear friend who had experienced this same exact thing three years ago. She was at my house within ten minutes rushing me to the hospital. I was wearing this.

Over the next few hours, both of my parents, my mother-in-law and my husband arrived at the hospital. Amidst the flurry of activity and fearful faces of my family members, I was given the sweetest sense of peace. The pain had intensified significantly due to the internal bleeding but I distinctly remember lying still for the internal ultrasound and praying, “Lord, I don’t know what’s going to happen or why but you do and I am assured that is the absolute best for me”. I was never alone.

They diagnosed me with a ruptured ectopic pregnancy and began prepping me for emergency surgery. They took me down the same hallway through which we brought Mae home. The sky was the same shade of blue. I smiled at the thought that both of my babies went home through the same hallway. Never alone.

Those moments before surgery were so precious to me. The nurses gave my family a few moments to pray and the words shared during that time will stay in my heart forever. The sense of God’s peace was so present, I never felt alone.

After surgery, I woke up to my mom and dad praying over me and Dave right next to them. My mom left to stay the night with Mae and Dave and I were left to stay in the hospital overnight. Once he was sleeping, I began doing research and realized for the first time how close to death I was, how many miracles had transpired to keep me alive, and that the likelihood of future pregnancies had been impacted. It was a lot to take in, but the peace of God never left my side.

In the weeks that followed, my village wrapped their loving arms around me in ways I would have never expected. I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude for my life. I felt as if this experience gave me the chance to trust again. It was incredibly painful but somehow, for it, I was incredibly grateful.

So I dried all of the flowers we received and asked my dear friend Kat if she would photograph our little ceremony to say goodbye to our baby and thank God for the life we shared. These images are so rich with meaning as they share my journey of being emptied but never alone.Bye Bye Baby-1Bye Bye Baby-2Bye Bye Baby-3Bye Bye Baby-4Bye Bye Baby-5Bye Bye Baby-6Bye Bye Baby-7Bye Bye Baby-9Bye Bye Baby-10

Laura Murray - Thank you for sharing — I am so sorry for your loss. I have never had an ectopic pregnancy, but I have had 2 miscarriages. It is scary how dangerous of a situation you were in, but someone sure was looking out for you!

Looking at those photos, while beautiful, made me feel a pang of sadness and remember the babies that I lost as well. I still grieve for them. What a special way to honor your baby.

Sending lots and lots of love your way.February 3, 2016 – 4:44 pm

Laura Nelson - thanks for sharing this and these images, they are so powerful and bring out so many emotions in myself. Most of all I’m so glad you are ok and that in something so painful to go through you’ve come out stronger! Its always amazing to me to look back on a situation that was not according you our plan and see how God has his ways and that he is always for us 🙂February 3, 2016 – 5:55 pm

Peggy - I understand your loss. I, too, have had two miscarriages. So glad you had family and God with you. Truly touching photos of your sweet ceremony…know we love you, Dave, and Mae.. Though we don’t always understand God’s plan, we can be strengthened by His faithfulness.February 3, 2016 – 10:31 pm

Savannah - I read this post after your sister shared it on Facebook. She is one of my friends from college. It’s so beautiful and mirrors my own situation in many ways. I lost a baby at 19 weeks in November. I found out at a routine ultrasound and 2 days later had to have a c section due to placenta previa. I can’t honestly say I’ve never felt the presence of Jesus so heavily surrounding me. Not to mention my family all coming into town to help with my kids and our church family supporting us so lovingly. Your mantra of Never Alone really echos in my still aching heart. What got me about your post though is when you said “both my babies went home through the same hallway”. I had 3 other babies at the hospital and it was such a difficult thing for me to reconcile the wonderful memories I have of that baby floor with the heartbreaking ones I have from November. It’s so bittersweet. I had never thought about it that way before. Thank you.February 4, 2016 – 1:13 pm

Anna - you are such an amazing mama! God’s got you, girl.March 15, 2016 – 3:46 pm


We made it.

I realize that I’m clearly stating the obvious here but there were days, too many, that I really wasn’t sure we would. It’s safe to say that pretty much nothing went the way I was expecting it to over the past year. Some of which I have found explanations for and some of which I may never understand this side of Heaven. Sure, it took more patience, strength, prayers and tears than I thought I had in me. But we made it.

So this isn’t going to be the sappy “my-how-time-flies” one-year blog post that you’ll see circulating facebook. I wish it was. But my desire is to give a little hope to the new moms in the thick of it, feeling like they’re drowning and wondering why they aren’t experiencing the warm fuzzies like everyone else.

So to that mom:

You can do this. You are doing this. You are doing an incredible job. I know it feels thankless and that all of your endless sacrificing is accomplishing absolutely nothing. I know that you think your prayers are hitting the ceiling. I know you feel like you will never be you again. You are empty, tired, hungry, and maybe (probably) even smelly. I know it’s not fair. I know you did everything right. I know you’d give everything to fix the problem, or even just identify it. I know you’d do anything for them. I know you have held nothing back. God knows it too. He planned this. I don’t know why. You don’t either. I know you wonder how “she” does it while knowing exactly how. God planned that for her too. He hasn’t left you, ever.

You’ll see.

When they smile with no teeth, or two teeth. When they giggle. When they run away from you wobbling side to side. On the rare night they fall asleep in your arms (or maybe just in their crib without crying). When they reach for you. When they say “mama”, when they dance, when they splash, and when they are sitting in their high chair surrounded by loved ones singing “Happy Birthday”, You’ll see.

You’ll see then how the depth of your love for them is just a tiny glimpse of God’s love for us. And if we would give all of ourselves for them, how much more so would He for us.

This stuff is hard, but you aren’t alone. He is here and so am I. Because we made it. And so will you.

So here’s to year one. The year that challenged and strengthened me more than any other and to the beautiful little girl who opened my heart to depths I never would’ve known otherwise. My Mae.



A Baby Mae Holiday

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If you couldn’t tell by the timing of this post, our holidays were a bit crazier this year. Our little go-getter began walking the day after Thanksgiving and hasn’t slowed down ever since! I know a lot of parents joke about this being a milestone they want to put off as long as possible but it has actually made our home much happier. Little miss independent can get where she wants to go so much easier now and we have a lot more opportunities for outdoor play (i.e. wearing her out). I think it has even helped her sleep improve but she just (finally) started teething so that obviously cancelled out any headway we were making in lullaby land.

However, walking did make things a little more exciting on our unexpected trip to Indiana. She has always loved waving at folks in airports but now she has the ability to physically go greet all of those unassuming travelers. It made me rather nervous but most people were kind and greeted her back with a wave and a warm smile. To my surprise, she had become so popular at the gate that by the time we boarded, we had plenty of offers to sit next to her. Who would ever offer to sit next to a baby on a plane?! Thankfully the two of us managed four flights and two delays with merely one spilled drink and one diaper blow out. The Lord was clearly with us.

I know it seems crazy but I swear she became at least 50% cuter over the past month. Maybe it’s the pigtails, or that clothes get cuter in 12-18 month sizes or just that her little spunk is really starting to shine. Except when Santa is around. (See above) Regardless, things are getting fun around here. Which is probably why we got to see so much family for the holidays this year. It’s not every year that we have the privilege of spending time with all of our loved ones on both sides of our family. But now we have the bait. We loved it, she loved it and I did my best to snap as many photos (good or bad) as possible.

On that note,  a goal for the next year is to let go of some of my photographic perfectionism when it comes to capturing moments with Mae. There have been so many occasions where I cringe at the lighting, backdrop or messy room and decide not to take a photo. But if this past year has taught me anything, it’s that life doesn’t always fit into a box as think it should and I don’t want to miss capturing moments just because the conditions are imperfect. So I am committing to keep a (real) camera out at all times and snap away, even if the grungy messy images never go anywhere but here. iPhones are great for convenience but I’d be sad if all Mae had to show for her childhood were some grainy low-res snapshots when preserving memories is my career.

Anyway, enough about us, the real purpose of this blog is to help other moms out there with anything I can so before I go, I thought a list of Mae’s top three favorite holiday gifts at 11 months old.

Baby Trampoline. Proof.
Ball Tent
Music Set

Oh and since you all couldn’t be on our Christmas card list this year…here it is. was. whatever. Hope your holidays were happy!

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Mae’s Homemade Goat Milk Baby Formula

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Well if you have been around here long enough you know that my pretty little baby has given her mama quite a run for her money.

From nursing issues, to digestive issues, temperamental issues and just the general what-the-heck-is-happening issues, these past ten months have not been what I thought they would be. Instead of snuggling in bed all day smelling one another and being intoxicated by the sheer bliss of our bond like I’d expected; we spent most days battling more challenges that I can even wrap my head around.

BUT it is getting better. So much better. We have been able to pinpoint many of the factors contributing to Mae’s challenges and as a result we can begin to fix them.

One of our most recent major breakthroughs was this homemade formula.

I’d heard about it since Mae was five-weeks old but always thought it was a bit too unconventional and worried that putting her health and development into the hands of an online formula recipe was rather risky.

But after nursing, pumping, and multiple kinds of commercial formula failed, I was left with this or soy. SO we did soy. And it worked. But everything I read about it sent chills down my spine so I kept digging.

I consulted a well-known doc via twitter, a nutritionist, a local holistic doctor and our awesome naturally-minded chiropractor and they all pointed me here.

So I took that as the go-ahead to give it a shot. Wouldn’t you know it, Mae’s sleep and mood improved dramatically. This stuff is seriously magic.

It does take a bit of an investment to get going and seems overwhelming at first but now I can have a 2-day batch ready in less time than it takes to drive to Whole Foods and buy her formula there. There are some bulk-prep tips for combining some of the ingredients ahead of time that I am anxious to make it even more cost and time effective.

But here is the best part, it is nutritionally on par with breast milk. Also, it’s so much cheaper than commercial formula. Seeing how much it has improved our quality of life, I am just bummed I didn’t start it sooner.

Mae’s recipe is actually a combination of two of them based on what I have found to work well for her.

Adapted from the Weston A Price Website:

This makes about 36oz but I always double it to last us two days since her intake is pretty high.

Homemade Goat-Whey (make this the night before)

Place 2 quarts of Goat yogurt in a mesh strainer lined with a cheesecloth set over a bowl. Cover with a plate and leave at room temperature overnight. The whey will drip out into the bowl. Place whey in clean glass jars and store in the refrigerator. Makes about 5 cups. (The leftover yogurt in the strainer is delicious with honey!!)


  • Put 2 cups filtered water into a pyrex measuring pitcher and remove 2 tablespoons (that will give you 1-7/8 cups water).
  • Pour about half of the water into a pan and place on a medium flame.
  • Add the gelatin and lactose to the pan and let dissolve, stirring occasionally.
  • When the gelatin and lactose are dissolved, remove from heat and add the remaining water to cool the mixture.
  • Stir in the coconut oil until melted.
  • Meanwhile, place remaining ingredients into a blender.
  • Add the water mixture and blend about three seconds.
  • Place in glass bottles or a glass jug and refrigerate.
  • Before giving to baby, warm bottles by placing in hot water or a bottle warmer. NEVER warm bottles in a microwave oven.

For questions, this group is a wonderful resource for moms wanting to try this recipe.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a health professional and I am by no means qualified to advise you on health/nutritional issues for your child. I recommend you consult your pediatrician before determining if this recipe is right for your baby. Also, it is illegal for raw milk to be sold for human consumption so goat dairies will require you to sign a waiver indicating you have been made aware that it is intended for pets only.


Kirsten - My first child was similar. People always thought it was colic, but I knew he was just too AWARE. From the second he was born he had an opinion about everything…while it seemed that other babies I looked at were in some kind of dream state :). Just wanted to say that I think it’s a sign of intelligence…(at least that’s what I told myself when I was losing it!). He is now 8 and so smart and much much easier to reason with 😉 Hang in there!November 20, 2014 – 7:20 pm

Eight-Month Photos

Something feels kinda off about sharing her 8-month photos on the eve of her 9-month birthday but I am just going to roll with it. This kid is trying so hard to show me how to do that in more ways than one. I am not sure I will ever fully get it but I have been learning a ton about relinquishing the illusion of control I have clung to so tightly. I swear I have learned this lesson before but I guess I needed it to come around again. And again.

My best girl Ann always has such wisdom to share, yesterday she penned these words:

Sometimes the most revolutionary thing that you can do is simply turn away just for a moment from doing — and make space for being…We come the most alive after being the most still.

Why do I feel so compelled to do? Why is being so difficult? I have a few guesses as to why I struggle so much with that but I think most of us would have to admit that it’s largely because we want results quick. We lack the patience to wait on The Lord and the strength to trust that He will make all things beautiful in His time. (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Our security tends to get stuck within ourselves.

However, after 9 months of doing everything I possibly could to try to fix each of #littlebabymae’s issues, I am now focusing more on letting go, settling in and trusting that As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him. (Psalm 18:30) I have to realize that God has Mae in His perfect protecting, providing hands. As J.S. Park states,

“God is at once bigger than our minds can comprehend and closer than our hearts dare to believe.”

So while I have been working through all of that, #littlebabymae has been turning into a toddler. I am not even kidding. She operates in high gear all day every day and wants to walk so badly! I am convinced it’s any day now. I know I am supposed to want time to stand still and for her to stop growing up but with every stage of independence this kid gets happier and happier. Happy baby = happy mama so I say bring it on. But just for a little while, because it can’t be possible she’d be this cute forever…

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Photos of the two of us by my dear Kat Braman

Kaylie B. Poplin - These are perfect! So beautiful!October 17, 2014 – 12:23 am

Samantha - I love those last photos of the two of you, so precious!October 17, 2014 – 4:09 pm