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To My Five Month Old

My Darling Mae,

You’ve probably heard by now how many difficulties we’ve encountered together in regards to your feedings. I’d always planned to nurse you for as long as possible but it just hasn’t worked out that way.

Thankfully it appears that we’ve finally found a formula that you like. It’s made from Swiss goats milk and ships from France. You obviously have very distinguished tastes!

So we’re heading down the path towards formula and I am diligently praying for God’s blessing and provision on your health as you grow.

But tonight, while daddy was gone, you woke up hungry so I scooped you up, snuggled you into the rocking chair with me and nursed you in the quiet darkness. You held my hand and I held you close. I buried my face into your sweet soft skin and inhaled as much of that moment as I could desperately hoping to keep it forever.

When you were done, you started to squirm so I took you in my arms and began singing you softly to sleep. Your tiny little body became still and a sweet smile spread across your lips as I sung.

That smile. It’s one of the greatest treasures my life has ever known. You have a beauty that captivates my heart beyond what words can express. I can’t stop the tears as I lay here in bed next to daddy and allow myself to explore the depth of my love for you.

You are five months old today. How these five months have re-shaped me you may never know but I hope you will always know that you are perfect and that I will always do whatever I can to see you smile.

Love,
Mommy

Kat Braman - you are such a beautiful mother! I’m so incredibly proud of you. Mae’s smile is such a treasure.June 17, 2014 – 2:54 pm

Family Photographs from Adam Barnes

When Dave and I got married, we received our photos from our Wedding Photographer Adam Barnes with a little note that said, “Hope to work together again soon, maybe when a little one comes” (or something like that) and it always stuck with me.

Fortunately, Adam and I have kept in touch so when the little one was on the way, I plotted and tried referring a wedding to Adam with the hope that he’d be here from Virginia and could photograph us. Luckily it worked! I’ve been dying to share a few of my favorite photos from our family session with our very own wedding photographer!

002291-R1-022002289-R1-001002281-R1-005002281-R1-001002285-R1-003002285-R1-016002285-R1-015002289-R1-005002291-R1-024The Motherhood Collective seeks to nurture moms wherever they are at in their journey by providing resources, support and community. Their vision and mission is so beautiful and I desperately wish we had something just like this here in Palm Beach County. Maybe once I am through the thick of this stage, I will look into that…

Naz Films - Gorgeous!

These are so good Adam, and what a beautiful family!

NazJune 9, 2014 – 6:43 pm

Valentina - These photos are so incredibly cute!! You guys are such a beautiful familyJune 9, 2014 – 6:51 pm

Kat Braman - Love you three so much! These are perfection.June 9, 2014 – 7:20 pm

Bunn Salarzon - These are simply beautiful, Jessica!!June 9, 2014 – 7:40 pm

courtney - BEAUTIFUL! So glad I stopped by to see it. I’d love to plan a visit soon friend!June 10, 2014 – 12:58 am

Three Months

Happy three months my beautiful girl. You are more precious than words can express and we are so proud to call you ours.

You are daddy’s twin but you are all mommy otherwise. Like me, you are happiest in the mornings, love being outside and hate being confined. You would rather not be sitting still and you certainly don’t enjoy entertaining yourself. You thrive on social interaction and it shows in your adorable smiles. Your darling personality is shining brighter and brighter every day and you clearly have the gift of lighting up a room. Your contagious smiles could melt icebergs and you easily make friends wherever you go.

Everyone is amazed at how strong you are. You despise tummy time but you can hold your head up forever and even stand up for several minutes if we balance your arms. I just know you’ll be crawling and even walking in no time!

Your favorite toys are the ones the squeak or make a crinkle noise and we love watching you light up when you see your reflection in the mirror.

Like mommy, you have very distinguished taste buds and prefer only the freshest milk. You are not interested in the stuff from the freezer and certainly not the powdered formula kind.

We learned very early on that you prefer to be carried/burped/worn facing out and that it’s important for you to see what’s going on at all times. We think this is why you don’t like going to sleep. You don’t want to miss a thing!

Speaking of sleep, when you get a little older, you owe a big hug to The Cradle Coach for helping us get your naps and night sleeping in order. Over the past couple weeks you have slept through the night seven times including the last two nights!

We are still working on getting your digestive issues figured out and I pray every day that God would give me the wisdom I need to help you be as comfortable as possible.

My darling, you are so deeply loved, not only by your mommy and daddy but by everyone God has placed in your life. I just cannot wait for you to get to know each and every one of them. You have many wonderful relationships in store.

Thank you for being so strong, for these past three months, for the 10 before those and all of months to come. You are the most beautiful part of me and I love you with everything I have.

Here are some photos we just got back from when you were about seven weeks old. You cried through most of them but regardless, we loved snuggling you on the beach. Thank you to Amy for capturing these for us.

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Amelia - Beautiful photos! (Our baby also cried throughout her newborn session!) And that is incredibly impressive and rare that she already sleeps through the night at 3 months! Wow! (We have our own super social baby who doesn’t want to miss a thing, and who still doesn’t sleep through the night at 17 months!)April 17, 2014 – 7:13 pm

Kathy Cornett - Love the Mama heart!April 18, 2014 – 1:09 pm

Tristan B. - She’ll love reading this when she is older, you should put it all together in a book for her, such a sweet and heartfelt note to your lovely girl.

I am now very curious about the Cradle Coach, my girl wants to stay awake perpetually and take the world in too! Love the photos, just gorgeous:)April 18, 2014 – 7:25 pm

Little Baby Mae’s Mid-Century Modern Organic Neutral Nursery

Modern Organic Neutral Nursery02Modern Organic Neutral Nursery01modern-vintage-organic-neutral-nurseryModern Organic Neutral Nursery03Modern Organic Neutral Nursery10modern-vintage-organic-neutral-nursery2Modern Organic Neutral Nursery11Modern Organic Neutral Nursery07Modern Organic Neutral Nursery06modern-vintage-organic-neutral-nurserygiftsModern Organic Neutral Nursery08

Mae’s Mid-Century Modern Organic Neutral Nursery seems like quite a mouthful but I really couldn’t think of a better way to describe it. I almost threw the word “vintage” in there because of the found and heirloom pieces but I have to admit, I am kind-of sick of that word.

As you can see, it is a pretty eclectic blend of things I fell in love with. I mentioned back in this post that I really wanted Mae’s room to have a calming atmosphere. I know babies like bright colors but she has plenty of time for that when she gets a little older.

Her nursery did not turn out exactly how I’d originally envisioned it but I absolutely love that it ended up being a mix of things we loved as well as thoughtful gifts from friends and family.

I’ve always had a soft spot for travel-inspired nautical decor but I didn’t want her room to feel “themed” so I made sure to balance the blues and grays with some soft pinks and girly details. Luckily, most of the gifts Mae received were on the girlier side so it made that part easy!

I don’t think any of it would have come together as well without the help of my super-stylish friend Halle of Flower & Fringe. She took my pile of stuff and pieced it all together so gracefully. I’d highly recommend getting in touch with her for any design or event decor needs you might have.

Confession: I am a little particular when it comes to style or decor but some of my very favorite elements of her nursery were actually found, crafted or handed down from family members.

The dresser was one of the first items I found (via craigslist) so it sort-of set the tone for the rest of the room. I knew it would be the perfect compliment for the Babyletto Hudson Crib I had been eyeballing. That fancy-dancy changing table you see on top was a gift I managed to sweet-talk my dad into building for Mae. We use it constantly and it saved me a lot of space on top of her dresser. Besides the globe (which was a yard sale score), everything you see on the dresser was given to Mae. Including the precious heirloom locket from her great great grandmother who was one of the five Mae’s in our family that she was named after. The birthday card was from Daddy and I cried so hard when he brought it home it took me five days to even read it. The prints hanging above are snaps from our trip to Italy while I was pregnant with Mae.

The letters and mirror are Anthropologie. I’m probably not capable of decorating a whole room without something originating there. The dried crown is a Flower & Fringe piece worn at my baby shower.

Mae loves looking up from her crib at her little bird friends hanging from their perfect F&F perch. The mobile was a handmade gift from Drea who has quite a knack for all things adorable.

The cozy rocker was actually the same one that was in Dave’s room when he was a baby and his parents have since had it recovered a few times. The thought of Dave rocking his daughter in the same chair he was rocked in just makes me melt. The books were gifts from friends and the wooden blocks were a fun activity from my shower.

The boat and bookshelf were both collected years ago from stores going out of business (#jackpot), I realize this corner looks a little boyish so I added a pink glittery star that I found at Star Provisions in Atlanta last Spring just before I found out I was pregnant.

The sleep quote was painted for Mae by one of my best friends and the oyster print is just a Rifle greeting card I loved and framed.

Anyway, in case you want any of these goodies for a little baby in your life, here’s where you can find them:

(In order of appearance)

Crib / Cable Knit Blanket / Crib Skirt / Branch / Mobile / Wool Rug
Iron Letters / Mirror / Floral Crown
Mermaid / Fish / Cat / Gray Blanket
The World is Your Oyster card
Dresser / Farm Animal Toy Stack / Isla Mae Calligraphy Print / Toy Whale / Travel Prints / Matted PB Frames
I Had a Favorite Dress Book

PS: I feel like I have to disclose that this sweet little set-up is just about all packed up and ready for the move this week to our new home. Looking forward to setting it all up again!

halle - Can’t wait to do it again!March 23, 2014 – 1:59 pm

Danielle - I came to your blog to ask you about Mae’s crib but then I read your post about how difficult your first few weeks were. I too thought those first newborn days were all bliss and that nursing would be heavenly. Luke had none of the issues you experienced except excessive spitting up. Turns out he is what the call a happy spitter and is gigantic despite it.. Breastfeeding for the first three or four weeks was like torture but has finally become enjoyable. I am still covered in spit up everyday, my badges of honor.

Now about that amazing crib. We are doing a vintage Coco Beach theme in his nursery…rockets and surfboards. It would fit perfectly. We have waited to do the nursery since we are building a house and it will be finished in May. So here is my question, do the sides go down? the website does not seem to say.March 24, 2014 – 11:08 am

sarah - the perfect nursery!March 31, 2014 – 4:46 pm

Lauren - So sweet! This is my dream nursery 🙂 Love the neutral calming colors and minimalist style, while still feeling homey and cosy. Mae’s a lucky girl! Love the RH whale pull toy too 😉March 31, 2014 – 5:48 pm

Daniel Henderson - There’s always “someone” who spots something you haven’t mentioned… 🙂 I love the globe, where is it from?September 12, 2014 – 5:55 pm

Eight Crazy Weeks

I had no idea what I was in for.

Sure, I knew I would be exhausted. I knew my house would be a mess. I even knew that my little darling would cry a bit.

What I didn’t know was everything else that has made these past two months so challenging.

Before you read another word, please allow me to say that I am head-over-heels in love with my little baby Mae. She is the most incredible blessing and I am just blown away that she is ours. Also, I’m sure she’s the prettiest baby ever.

However, with that said, I do feel that it is incumbent upon me to share the real story of what these first two months as a mom have entailed. There are countless misconceptions about life with a newborn and I, unfortunately, fell victim to all of them. (This article sums it up pretty well) As if being a first-time mom is not difficult enough, I was also struggling with the loss of those blissful, newborn moments I thought every mom (but me) got to enjoy. Throw in some post-partum hormones, no sleep, and Mae’s personal mix of baby issues and, you guys, I was (am) a mess.

My objective in sharing all of this is to encourage any other mammas who may be dealing with the same struggles. Also, if you are a mom who has made it to the other side of this craziness, I would love to hear what worked for you (i.e. how you survived).

It’s a long long post so I would not blame you one bit if you tap out early.

I’ll take it from the top.

Week 1: We brought Mae home on a beautiful Sunday morning but we didn’t even make it out of the hospital room without popping a pacifier in her mouth. But crying is normal right? The next two days were tough. She cried a ton. So did I. Most of the time she was inconsolable, so much so that she wouldn’t eat. If she did eat, the screaming intensified.  I sent countless desperate texts to my doula and mommy friends at all hours of the night. Thankfully, a few of them even showed up to help. My well-laid plans to wait a few weeks on offering bottles went straight out the window. By the time we had our first pediatrician visit on Tuesday, I was a wreck. Then we learned that Mae had lost 14oz. That is double the normal maximum weight loss for newborns. The ped put us on a rigorous feeding schedule that involved nursing, pumping, and supplementing with formula. She was finally eating but seemingly everything she ate was coming back up. We were back at the dr’s office the next day and thankfully she gained 6oz overnight. She continued to gain steadily all week but the spitting up was not improving at all. Either was the fussiness. So the doc put her on probiotics, Simethicone (gas relief drops) and gripe water. I was also having some very serious (worse than unmedicated labor) nursing pain that I determined must have been a clogged milk duct. So I spent every free moment I had researching and trying everything I possibly could to clear the duct. Nothing worked. Over the next two weeks, I visited my OB twice as well as a specialist for help and they said that there was nothing that could be done other than my home remedies.

Week 2-3:  We had one day where Mae did not sleep for 12 hours straight. So back to the doc we went. The ped said that it appeared that Mae was wired from getting an imbalance of fore-milk and hindmilk. Obviously this was all new to me. Apparently, the fore-milk is the sugary thirst-quenching milk that babies get when they begin a breastfeeding session. In order to get the high fat/protein hind milk they have to nurse long enough on one side to get through all of the fore-milk. So I made an effort to keep her on one side until she stopped drinking but I didn’t see any improvement in her symptoms. So I figured that if I pumped and gave her the milk in the bottle, it would ensure she was getting the hind milk. I shared my plan with the pediatrician and a lactation consultant and they both said that would work. Plus pumping was much less painful than nursing. So I did that for a week but I knew that exclusively pumping long-term would be a lot more work than breastfeeding. I began trying to figure out how to balance my milk content a little better so I could breastfeed as well as give her a bottle. I did some googling and it sounded like my issue was an oversupply of milk. When a mom makes too much milk, the baby fills up on the fore-milk before they ever reach the hind-milk.  Made sense to me, but how could I fix it? I ended up hiring a lactation consultant to come to the house and help me problem solve. I also wanted her opinion on how in the heck I could keep a clogged milk duct for three weeks when they typically only last 2-3 days.

While all of this was going on I joined a breastfeeding group on facebook called the Dairy Queens. Hilarious right? I posted some of my baby dramas in the group and several of the moms thought the problem sounded like symptoms of a tongue tie/lip tie. So I started looking that up and I was floored. One hundred percent of Mae’s issues were listed as symptoms. But the lactation consultant at the hospital and my pediatrician both checked for tongue tie and said Mae did not have one so I was perplexed. I kept digging and from what I myself could see, Mae definitely had an upper lip tie and possibly a posterior tongue tie (those are harder to spot).

Week 4: The lactation consultant came, watched me nurse for 5 minutes and said that I did not have a clogged duct. Which explains why my efforts to unclog it never worked. She instead thought it might be a bit of Thrush instead. I asked her about the oversupply and milk content imbalance, she said that wasn’t my problem but that Mae did indeed have a lip tie. So first thing Monday morning, back to the ped we went. She gave us meds for thrush, determined Mae had full-blown reflux and gave us meds for that too. She agreed on the lip tie but said that it wasn’t a problem and to wait until she was four or five to have it revised.

Once we knew Mae had reflux, I cut dairy from my diet since that is a common culprit for upsetting little tummies. Which was extremely challenging with the delicious meals all my sweet girlfriends from church were dropping off. But I was willing to do anything to help my Little Baby Mae feel better. We started the thrush meds (just in case) and then started the Zantac (reflux meds) and had a horribly fussy/spitty day the next day. Assuming it had to be the meds, I pulled the Zantac.

Week 5: None of Mae’s symptoms improved so I kept digging and discovered that the intense nursing pain that I thought was a clogged duct, then thrush was probably what is called nipple blanching. What causes nipple blanching? A tongue tie. That was the last straw for me. I decided to take Mae down to a dental specialist in Ft. Lauderdale who uses a laser to revise lip and tongue ties. He took one look at her, showed me her lip AND TONGUE tie and asked me what I wanted to do. It was a small fortune to have both revised but I didn’t want to just do one and allow her issues to persist if the other was the source of her problems so I decided to go for it. Thankfully Dave’s mom was with me so she went to get baby tylenol while I cried in the waiting room. Five minutes later, Mae was done and I nursed her immediately after. She seemed to do fine. We also managed to get a few real smiles out of her for the first time!

Week 6: The nursing pain went away but the reflux did not. I was also noticing she was only nursing half as long as she was before. I became concerned that the pain from the procedure was creating an oral aversion so I texted the lactation consultant for help. She said to come down to a breastfeeding group she was hosting that day. She weighed Mae as soon as I got there, I fed her for a few minutes then we weighed her again. She had eaten like a champ. As it turned out, she had just become a more efficient nurser after the surgery. Yay! We still had the reflux to deal with so I decided to give Zantac another try as well as cut gluten from my diet.

Week 7: After cutting both dairy and gluten, I was down to eating pretty much dirt. I was living off of larabars, french fries, tater tots, meat (which I don’t love) and gluten free products. I hadn’t seen an improvement in the reflux but Mae was smiling much more and that kept me going. Plus the fact that both dairy and gluten can live in your system for two weeks made me scared  to add them back in. I didn’t want to make her reflux worse for even a fraction of two weeks.

Week 8: Time for another visit to the pediatrician. Turns out my Mae is in the 7th percentile weight-wise for her length. The baby is super long and skinny! No clue where she got that from!! Hopefully she will chunk up once this reflux business goes away. (You can all put that on your prayer list for us!) They think that it should clear up by 3-4 months so I am going to try to keep on keepin on until then. Oh and if anyone reading this knows anything about MTHFR and vaccines, please get in touch with me. That’s all I am going to say about that here.

Things are still really tough but I am doing my best. I am working on getting her on a sleeping schedule but as luck would have it, we are moving homes and I start shooting again next week. Some timing huh?

But at least she’s smiling.

I would be remiss if I did not say how grateful I am for the incredible support from my amazing husband, our families and friends. You guys know who you are. I don’t know how I would’ve made it through these eight crazy weeks without you. Thank you for being there, and thanks in advance for helping me through the next eight crazy weeks. And the ones after that.

Amidst all of this, thankfully Kat, Shannon and I were miraculously able to capture a few sweet photos.

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Gina - I love you and your honesty. THANK YOU. Praying SO much that you are continuing to trust your instincts and to have this yucky reflux go away!! Also, have you considered Chiropractic for her reflux? I see a Chiro weekly and it’s a really gentle and simple adjustment if you wanted to give it a shot. I have heard it works amazingly!

Some possible DF, GF Recipes that I love!

This one SUPER simple! http://www.glutenista.com/easy-homemade-gluten-free-chicken-noodle-soup-recipe.html

http://www.allergyfreealaska.com/2013/04/15/easy-baked-paleo-chicken-tenders-with-honey-mustard-dipping-sauce/

LOVE you. Praying for it all to settle out and to have some solid sweet time with your sweet girl!March 17, 2014 – 2:07 pm

Rebecca Siewert - I love your honesty! It’s so awesome to see a mom sharing the truth! First off I can totally relate to this so much! We never had to deal with a tongue tie but I had an overproduction of milk, a baby that lots a lot of weight, gas, reflux the works! I will say it gets better! Much better! I pumped to help get better milk and kept her on longer to help. That seem to do the trick for most of it but she was still gassy. My midwife suggested drinking fennel tea WHILE a nursed and that was the best thing ever! I tried cutting out dairy and pretty much everything else but that didn’t even work but fennel tea did. We had a gassy, not really sleeping baby till 5/6 months and then it all of sudden shifted. She like most babies also didn’t sleep through the night (only 6-8 hours at a time, never 12) till a year old. Now at 18 months she requests to go to sleep. Keep going MAMA your doing great and I promise it will get better! Rest will come and it will be glorious!March 17, 2014 – 2:08 pm

Sondra McCarty - Sweet Jessica….what a journey you and Dave are on. I have been and will continue to pray for you and Baby Mae continuously. Thank you for so honestly sharing your story. My heart breaks for you when I read it.

I do wish I had some words of wisdom for you and something that would help you but unfortunately I’m so far from that aspect of motherhood that I don’t understand most of the terms you have used to describe the difficulties….LOL!

When my kids were born in the 60’s and they screamed all night and day we were just told it was colic and it will go away! Sorry….just a little humor there! Seriously though so glad the research has come a long way and they can treat the reflux and lip ties, etc.

I truly am so sorry you have had to experience all these challenges. Not a great way to start motherhood but what a sweet little bundle you have to hold and how adorable the pictures are that you shared. I love looking at them.

What I do know according to the 139th Psalm is that Little Mae is fearfully and wonderfully made and although these situations may be a surprise to you they are no surprise to God. I do believe you are all in his arms of love, care, and compassion. Though it is so rough for you right now and especially with Dave being gone I will be especially fervent in my prayers for you this week. My prayer is little Mae will continue to improve and the medicine will work.

You are very brave and such a great mother to go to such great lengths to see to it that your little girl has the very best. God will honor that. He knows your needs and will supply those needs. My encouragement is for you to continue to “Hangeth thou in there” my little friend. Not really good English but just want to encourage you the best way I know how. Psalm 30:5 says “Weeping my endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning”. Your night may be a little too long right now but the joy is coming.

The first 9 years of my life were spent in a body cast and had major hip surgery 5 times in that span as well. As a mother I never had to experience anything that serious or what you are enduring but I can tell you I am so thankful to our Awesome God that I was placed for adoption in a home with sweet loving parents who cared for me and loved me through all my physical challenges. I see you and Dave as being those kind of loving, caring parents as well. Baby Mae is a very fortunate little girl.

If ever you need a shoulder to cry on….mine are pretty broad and I’m here for you. Call or text anytime. 379-7449. I would love to come and sit with you or just be here for you with moral support. You are precious and love you, Dave, and Baby May very much.

Blessings and Love,
SondraMarch 17, 2014 – 4:28 pm

Nicki Pasqualone - Normal! It’s a whirlwind for everyone, you’re doing a great job! I experienced a few of these things too… thrush with my first… and with my 2nd (now 6 months) a tongue tie and clogged ducts. I nursed my first with no problems so when it was EXTREMELY painful with my 2nd I knew something was up. Dr. Google told me tongue tie and her pedi confirmed it, I had her frenulum cut when she was 10 days old (I cried too but it was so so quick). The ENT told me it’s much better to do it when they’re tiny and heal so quickly, there was literally no bleeding… if they’re 4 or 5 and it’s impeding speech or something else, they may have to put them under anesthesia so it’s good you did it right away! The razor nipple feeling went away instantly thank goodness because it sucked crying every time she ate haha. As far as the clogged ducts (in case it does happen), I would let her nurse mostly on that side and use a heating pad or take hot showers several times a day. She eventually sucked it out, but it was miserable and cry-worthy! Both of by babies spit up but I think a normal amount? Sometimes it seemed like a lot (like seriously you just threw up everything you ate), but if I really remembered to get big burps out of them midway through the feeding and after, it helped immensely! If I was lazy and didn’t burp religiously, she spit it all up. Ahhh motherhood trials, good thing the happy times outweigh the challenges! She’s beautiful btw. : )March 17, 2014 – 7:50 pm

Mo - Jessica,

I went to FIND Seattle with you and I was prego with my third and I think wasn’t very nice. I apologize. I get post partum depression with every child and I also get first trimester depression. I was in my first trimester, so I can say I was not myself. Depression was Nothing I experienced ever in my life until I had children and I felt exactly how you feel now after my first and I’m glad you are sharing your story. I went 9 months in a new city with no friends yet made and a new baby with lots if overwhelming feelings. I really needed a good ear or an honest mother to help me through it, so kudos to your post! Thank youMarch 17, 2014 – 8:02 pm

Jess L. - Reading your blog for the first time. I think most of us new mamas have similar journeys like yours. Yet each one unique in detail.

I too slowly eliminated things from my diet and did for about 3 months until it felt, as you described, I was eating “dirt”. We struggled to figure out what was going on with our son with late night researching and late night calls with friends/family for support. It was heart wrenching. Lots of sobbing (thank you post baby hormones) and continual prayer with my hubs and family.

I think it goes without saying that as mamas we love our babes, would sacrifice anything for them and, like a super hero, would fight to defend and keep them safe.

But the life of a mama is not for the faint of heart.
This is hard and I think it’s okay to say it’s hard. Saying it’s hard does not take away from the love we have for our children.

I appreciate your reflection of, as you said, the “real” story and your new journey. You’re doing great mama. Loving your baby is all she needs right now.

Better days are to come and praise the Lord for good ones because they carry us through during the hard ones.

To Gina’s point above- my son sees a Chiropractor. AMAZING. So many great benefits.March 19, 2014 – 6:45 pm