.This is 27.

I turned 27 this week.

Yes, 27. 

My life is not perfect. There is pain, frustration, and even sadness. The good news? My life is so much more. It is a gift from our Heavenly Father. It is filled with people I love and who love me. There is laughter, joy, and silliness. There are mistakes waiting to be made. There is forgiveness. My life feels like a mess at times and you know what? 

It is. 

On my birthday this year I captured real, raw photos of what 27 looks like. No staging or editing, just real life. 

My 27 looks like this..
Dirty dishes waiting to be washed.
Plants quietly waiting to be watered.
Shoes scattered on the floor waiting to be put away.
Used baby rags and blankets waiting to be washed and fluffed.
The vacuum eagerly waiting to suck.
Laundry baskets filled with miscellaneous items waiting to be sorted.
The nursery is waiting, just waiting, for love and attention.
Dirty clothes piles waiting to smell good again.
Unfinished house projects waiting to be remembered.
Beds waiting to be made.
Wet shoulders waiting to dry.
Real clothes and bra waiting to be worn.
And me?

Well I am not waiting for anything. 

I am choosing to soak in these days rather than waiting for them to pass. I am choosing to see the mess and to embrace it. To live it up in my high school hoodie and husband's pajama pants.

My life at 27 is beautiful. 

I see dirty dishes and feel grateful for a husband who works 2 jobs to provide for our family.
I see withered plants in need of water and remember I, too, need nourishment. Nourishment from God's word.
I see scattered shoes and smile. I think of when Penny's shoes will join the pile and where they will lead her. I am reminded to pray for her. I pray she walks with the Lord like her daddy and I do.
I see dirty receiving blankets and stop to smell them. To smell my baby girl, spit up and all, and fall more in love with her.
I see the vacuum and see our dog Colden. I think about his little life and how it has changed and remember to show him extra attention by pampering him with a good brushing.
I see laundry baskets filled with random things and see my husband in his adorable decluttering methods.
I see Penny's nursery and am flooded with chills. I think about all the memories we will share together through that very door. All the bedtime stories, snuggles, sick nights, and prayers. 
I see piles of dirty laundry and am thankful. Thankful for the clothes themselves and for wash machines.
I see our unmade bed and feel the warmth and comfort it brings. It reminds me to seek after our Heavenly Father for comfort and not to rely only on earthly things.
I see and feel my wet shoulder from Penny and chuckle. My greatest dream has come true; I am a mother. A mother to a 4.5 month baby girl who is full of life, laughter, and slobber. I thank God everyday for the miracle of her life.
I see my real bra neglected on the floor and think of the day I stop nursing. I feel fortunate for the gift of breastfeeding and am truly saddened to think of it ending. I am still in awe of God's creation that He designed my body and Penny's body to work together. For me to give her everything she needs to grow strong and healthy. It is amazing.

And then..

I see myself.
There are imperfections but the truth is I see beauty. I feel more beautiful now than ever before.

I am a wife and a mother.

This is my 27.


.Expectation vs. Reality: Life with a Newborn.

Life as a new mommy has been the source of great joy and love as well as a reality check that I am not wonder woman--shocker, I know. Let's just say God has been gracious to my arrogance..to my oh so presumptuous self. Below are expectations I had prior to Penny's arrival along with our real life experiences. I'll let you figure out which is which..

Penelope's nursery will be finished before her arrival with her closet and dresser fully stocked and ready to go.
Oh this makes me sad. The nursery was not touched, clothes were not even sorted or washed. Friends, I was so sick while pregnant it made me act like somebody else.  I am thankful for great friends and family who provided clean hand me downs for our baby girl to wear in the early days and thankful for my mother who helped gather the newborn clothes and washed them all for me. Someday her nursery will be complete..as soon as I can make up my mind!

After giving birth, I will feel like myself again. 
Pregnancy treated my body in the worst ways possible so I assumed after having Penny my body would celebrate instantly..it did not. More thoughts on this later..

I will love my daughter the moment my eyes first see her.
I love loving people but love for my daughter?..I didn't know I was capable of this kind of love. I have no words for it..it is unlike any other. I am extremely blessed to experience this and the most astonishing thing is my love for Penny only grows with each waking day. It's amazing and beautiful and makes me wonder how much my Heavenly Father must love me..it gives me chills every time.

While in the hospital and the first few days at home all visitors are welcomed! The more the merrier!
Unfortunately, my feelings on this changed dramatically. While I am incredibly honored so many people wanted to share in our excitement and meet our little girl, we planned too many visits those first few weeks. Our house was filled with company starting from the day we got home from the hospital. While Penelope was being passed around and had her picture taken with everyone I felt strange. I wanted her to be in my arms..with me..to bond more. I wanted to get to know her in private. I was jealous other people were holding her and not me. It is hard having company after giving birth. You are exhausted and hurting, along with a million other things, and yet you have company so there is this 'I must host' feeling inside. I felt obligated to smile even when I didn't truly feel it and to serve others when I really didn't want to. Looking back I think it was the lack of sleep and added hormones but for baby number two I think we will be more relaxed with visits and just enjoy our family of four first.

Everyone said I would not sleep but really..no sleep at all? I think I'll be just fine.
Um..they were right. Zero, zilch, nada! I am flabbergasted at the lack of actual sleep that took place in the first months, heck, and even now! Penny had her day and night confused and kept both Adam and I awake at night. Those first weeks were a difficult but joyous transition. Penny was eating every 2 hours and hardly sleeping in between feedings, instead she liked to work out her lungs. In case you were wondering..her lungs are in great shape!

Breastfeeding will be challenging and may not even work for us- And I'm okay with that.
I read blog posts and heard stories from loved ones about breastfeeding while I was pregnant. The majority of these stories and experiences all came to the same conclusion: 'It didn't work for us.' Well, I say this with a heart full of gratitude, breastfeeding has just clicked between Penny and I. More on this later..

The first few days may be stressful but I'll be fine.
I was fine. I was tired. I was happy. But I was stressed. It amazes me how being sleep deprived takes away one's level headedness and ability to remain calm. Adam and I now laugh at who we became at 2am, 3am, 4am, and so on in those first few weeks. One's logic is out the window when there is no sleep involved. Our decision making and lack thereof was comical..not at the time of course, but now looking back it is. Our elevated stress levels were caused by this lack of sleep and inability to reason. Penny's constant lung work out also was the leading factor of this stress. She is so worth it though..

With all of my experience with babies and children, crying will most likely not effect me.
All I can say about this is..in the past, it was not my baby crying. When she screams and cries it literally feels as if my heart is breaking. I spent hours crying while holding my inconsolable baby the first few weeks. It truly sunk in and hurt my insides. I wanted to take away her distress and at times I could but not always. I ached inside when her little voice became hoarse from getting so worked up. It does not happen nearly as often anymore but when it does I feel something inside that my husband does not. I'm scared how I will be when she gets sick for the first time..you can start praying in advance for us!

If I needed help, I would just ask. Simple as that.
Oh goodness am I a prideful person! If I ask for help, I feel like I failed..and I do not like to fail so I do not ask for help. This happened during my pregnancy too and I don't know why I am like this. It is an area God has been revealing to me and working on with me. Little by little, step by step..

Newborns will sleep the majority of the day.
Maybe some do but my little baby rarely slept. She also only slept while being held which is nice but what about me eating?..and showering?..and going to the bathroom? The truth is I was too tired to do anything but hold my girl in those first weeks. I cherished those cuddles and took the time to memorize her little face..I knew one day soon it would be different. I would (and still do) sit and stare listening to her breathing and little sighs. I would inhale her sweet milky breath and rub my lips and cheeks against hers. She needed me to hold her. She needed to feel comforted. She needed to sleep.

Babies will obviously cry but it can't be that bad.
Oh it can be that bad. Like I said earlier, Penny's cries broke my heart. In her newborn days (weeks) Penny was a fussy baby. And when I say fussy, I mean she screamed for hours straight with no breaks. This usually occurred in the late afternoon and during the night. Some days I was strong for her and held her, rocked her, sang to her while other days I could not wait for Adam to get home from work so I could shower and get a break. Adam did his absolute best and for the most part handled her crying pretty well but there were times (and there still are) when he needs to gently set her down or hand her to me and walk away. Let's just say his bathroom breaks and taking the dog out started taking a little longer than normal :)

A car ride will surely calm our distressed baby.
Our poor little Penelope..car trips just make her scream louder and harder so much so she causes herself to throw up. We took a road trip to NJ when she was 7 weeks old, big BIG mistake. The drive up was hands down the hardest, saddest, and most stressful day in parenting thus far. Poor Adam had to deal with both of his girls crying. I sat in the back seat with Penny and tried my best to bring comfort to her when all she wanted was to be in my arms. We stopped a lot. We held her a lot. We cried a lot. I nursed her a lot. This day broke my heart but God worked wonders over night and put it back together and prepared me for the next time..

I will hate changing poop diapers. I will always hate poop.
I was a nanny for 4 years..I changed too many diapers to even guesstimate. The funny thing is it's different now. When Penny poops, it's still gross in every way poop is gross but it doesn't bother me. If I get a little on my hand, no big deal I'll just wash them. It's better. Still gross but better.

My little newborn will probably scream during bath time.

To our delight, little Penny has loved her baths since we took her home from the hospital. It was one of her few happy places in the first weeks and still is today! Getting her out of the warm water on the other hand..oh dear!

Adam and I will get along just fine during the early days and with decision making.
You have a guy and a girl. Both not sleeping. One with hormones. You do the math. Remember how I wrote about sleep deprivation? It caused quite a few disagreements and made communication (something we are very good at) extremely difficult. All of these disagreements occurred in the wee hours of the morning when we were clearly not ourselves. The biggest qualm I remember was about the swaddle blankets. Was it too tight?..not tight enough?..warm enough?..too warm?..too close to her nose and mouth?..too low on her shoulders?..oh goodness, did those things cause this momma to overreact and fret. We finally bought the 'Miracle Blanket' after a suggestion from a friend and it solved our issues! We stopped using it around the 3 month mark when Penny started rolling to her side and even her belly.

I'll be able to take care of myself and clean the house during nap time.
Have I mentioned yet how Penny is not the best sleeper?.. Nap time usually only happened when she was cuddled in my arms. Awesome in the most important ways but the house..why hello dirty dishes and laundry, you're still here? The truth is the house does get cleaned but holding my baby girl always wins. Always. Weekends make great cleaning days when Daddy is home to play with Penny.

Adam and I will still go out to dinner and continue our date nights with Penny.

Date night? I barely remember what you are..Sadly Adam and I were way off with this one. We truly believed when Penny was a newborn she would sleep in her carseat allowing us to go out with her but this did not happen. We tried a few times and each attempt ended abruptly with a screaming baby and stressful drive home. Nursing during these early weeks made it tricky to plan how much time we had in between feedings. Her feeding schedule would change day to day. It seemed every time we went out she rarely made her usual 2 hour mark and expected to eat as soon as she woke up. There's a "fun" TJ Maxx story to share..if you ever see Adam, just ask him about it :)

I will still love my dog and treat him like I have always treated him..he's my first baby after all!
..I do still love him but I had a real baby and she's--how do I say it?..BETTER! Poor Colden has missed his long belly rubs and games he used to play with me. During the first few weeks I did not want to touch him in fear of getting his germs or whatever on me and then onto Penny. Adam kept reminding me I just had to wash my hands after petting him but I took it to a whole different level..I didn't want his germs getting under my fingernails because I had to sometimes put my finger in Penny's mouth a bit to detach her from nursing. Yeah..now looking back it sounds silly but at the time I was adamant. Thank goodness my father and husband were here during the first days home because my mind was so far from Colden. Oh you mean the dog still needs to eat?..and to be taken out? Whoops. When Adam went back to work he actually had to call or text me reminders about Colden. I am happy to report things are leaning towards getting back to normal with him but things have definitely changed.

We will certainly have a newborn photo shoot done with a professional photographer.
This one makes me extremely sad. I wanted more than anything to have beautiful pictures taken of Penelope her first days here. I wanted a photographer to capture the precious moments shared between daddy and daughter..of how tiny she was in my arms..the list goes on and on. We did not get this done and now my little 6lb baby is 4 months old. Why didn't this desire and expectation become a reality?--I saw so many newborn family shoots on Pinterest and blogs and facebook..why didn't it happen for my new family?...The answer is simple: It was me. I was too exhausted to do it. I was lucky to get a shower in, how could I all of a sudden get my hair and makeup done and find a stylish outfit that fit perfectly? I had too high of expectations planned and did not have any energy to execute them. It was me.

I am ready to deal with baby spit up.
My experiences with babies have taught me to always be ready for spit up. What I wasn't ready for was baby throw up..how silly of me to think the spit up I've seen was a baby throwing up. You can imagine my shock and horror when my teeny tiny newborn projectile launched what seemed like buckets of milky liquid onto my neck, chest, lap, and bed. It truly looked like a water hose was turned on full blast. I was absolutely mystified over what happened and my heart broke for Penny who was shaking, crying, and soaking wet. This sad scene has happened numerous times and it continues to catch me off guard. Penny and mommy are thankful for warm bathes and clean sheets.

I will be a protective mother but nothing too intense.
This one makes me laugh and has Adam rolling his eyes. I really believed I would be a 'chillaxed' mother..boy, was I off! I am extremely over protective of Penny. You may not sense it when you are around us because I play it cool but my insides are feeling it. I always knew there was a bit of a 'germophobe' in me but did not realize the intensity of it until I had a baby to care for. I am that mother that hopes and wishes you would wash your hands before holding her but do not always verbalize it. I am that mother who sanitizes her baby's pacifier all the time. I am that mother who does not let doggy things touch baby things. I am that mother who lint rolls dog hair off of baby's things. I am and will be that mother who fears sickness and the flu so we will stay home..a lot. I am and will be that mother who puts one too many blankets on her when it's cold. There are two Luv's commercials that really made me laugh out loud because sadly they are 100% talking about me! (12) While I do not think I'll ever be that loose with baby number 2 or 3, it speaks to me :)

I will melt every time Penny smiles at me.
How do I even attempt to explain what her smiles do to me..they just slay me. She started giving us real smiles at 5 weeks old and has been going strong ever since. It's magical how one smile takes away any stress or exhaustion instantly. My little girl is the most beautiful thing and I truly cannot get enough of her.

I now know I could write a list like this for every stage of parenting. The good news--God is good, so very good and graces us with a new sunrise and precious baby smiles every single day. Amen!

Life with a newborn was a challenge and it stretched Adam and I to be the people and kind of parents God desires us to be. We did not always rise to the occasion but with support and encouragement from one another, and the Lord as our rock, we were (and still are) able to look forward to each new day with Penny. She is our absolute joy and we are proud of her. She is our baby..we would do those early newborn days over and over again just to soak her in more..and smell her more. Adam and I are blessed beyond measure, thank you Father!


.Penelope Layne Miller: A Birth Story.

Monday morning Adam received a phone call from an unknown number around 7am. In his sleepy state he answered, but no one replied. He turned over to see me wide eyed and rather annoyed at this mystery caller for waking the two of us. Adam decided to shower since he was now awake and I tried to find a comfortable position to fall back to sleep.

Then "something" started to happen..

I tossed and turned but could not sleep. My body was tense with cramping in my back and lower abdomen. The cramping reminded me of menstrual cramps only the pain occurred on and off instead of a consistent ache. I got out of bed to use the restroom and the cramping suddenly became a sharp pain like one gets before having diarrhea. I sat in the bathroom for quite a while with jelly like legs and chills confused by my body.

For the next two hours I went back and forth from my bed to the bathroom. Sleeping did not and would not happen at that point so I did my absolute best to turn my feelings of frustration and annoyance into prayer. I remained laying on my left side but soon found myself walking around in circles in my bedroom. The pain increased so much so I had to get up and walk it off.

Then it hit me..

Could I be in early labor?

I tried to deny the inevitable and continued to redirect my thought process to something other than labor but failed time after time. I reminded myself my due date was a week away and my last OB appointment, just two days before, revealed my body had only progressed to 1cm. I simply could not be in labor..no way no how!

Around 9am the shooting pain and cramping did not diminish, in fact it intensified. I timed my contractions and watched as the increments between them went from 10 minutes apart to 7 and then to 5 all within a few short hours. My body could not lay down or even sit anymore as the pain caused me to jump to my feet.

I texted my mom..

I contacted her the first time at 10am saying the contractions felt 'different' than the Braxton Hicks ones I had in the days prior and thought this could possibly be it..you know, labor. She texted back and asked if I could walk during these contractions. I could. This led my mind from "I'm having a baby," to "Come on Katie, you're fine," with each passing second. Every emotion played throughout my mind--excitement, denial, fear, happiness, anxiety, giddiness. I did not know what to do so I took a long, hot shower. I shaved my legs as a 'just in case' and continued to have contractions throughout my shower. I convinced myself the contractions eased up and I would not go into labor.

After my shower I debated doing my hair and makeup, again as a 'just in case', but instantly brushed those thoughts aside when a contraction caused me to grab onto the wall and bend over at the waist. At this very instant I knew..

Yes indeed, I was in labor and had been for hours.

I got dressed and opened up Gmail chat. Adam and I asked the usual questions to each other, "How are you? How's your morning going? What are you working on?" and then I spilled the beans. I told him things were happening and that I may need him home later in the day. We ended the conversation with Adam telling me, "Just call, I'll be ready. Love you!"

I anxiously walked around our bedroom looking at the mess of laundry piles and laughed out loud remembering what I told Adam last night, "I will work on laundry tomorrow and even start packing!" That phrase was a popular one during my pregnancy and caused me to laugh at my procrastination. I searched for clean clothes to fill our carry sized suitcase to take to the hospital as well as clothes for our baby girl. Packing was interrupted again and again by stronger and longer contractions. By noon, my contractions were 3 minutes apart.

I called Adam.

He came home around 1230pm and walked into the house to find me watering my plants. He responded with a smirk on his face, "Really Kate?" as I explained the plants were my babies too and needed water since I did not know how long we would be away. He rolled his eyes. We packed our hospital bag, prepared Colden's (our dog) things for his stay at my in-law's house, and ate lunch together. I ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Two of them.

My contractions remained 3 minutes apart for the next few hours each one lasting longer. Adam and I knew what this meant but we denied the truth a bit longer and decided to stay home and watch an episode of Fringe. We laid in bed together. Adam rubbed my lower back and I timed my contractions. I missed most of the show due to shutting my eyes, holding my breath, and praying through each contraction. My body felt miserable at this point and the shooting pains spread everywhere--up my back, down my back, down my thighs, across my hips, and up my stomach. I used the bathroom when the episode ended and saw the last bit of evidence I needed to finally accept my body was indeed laboring.

At that moment I said, "It's time. Let's go."

Adam loaded the car and helped me get in at 4pm. We headed to his parent's house to drop off Colden. He watched me as he drove and held my hand the whole way. He pointed all of the air condition vents in my direction and did his best to drive fast but smooth. My body felt pain, excitement, and more pain. Every bump in the road caused discomfort to my body, mostly in my lower back. I gripped Adam's hand as my face winced and turned red with each contraction.

We pulled into the carport of the hospital and walked into the building together. Adam then parked the car. I kept a pleasant look on my face, a smile even, as I waited for Adam to return. I greeted the ladies behind the desk and awkwardly took a seat. Adam entered the building and we rode up the elevator. The doors opened and we stepped into a new area of the hospital.

The 'Labor and Delivery' floor..

The clock on the wall read 5pm. I checked in and dealt with a not-so-nice nurse. Adam waited inside the room as I changed into my gown. He helped me into the hospital bed and we just stared at each other filled with nerves and giddiness. We talked, laughed, and freaked out together in between contractions. A new nurse entered our room and smiled at me. I smiled back and knew it would all be okay. As the nurse asked me questions and typed things into the computer something happened..

My water broke.

Only 5 minutes had passed since I sat in the hospital bed, only 15 minutes had passed since we entered the building. Embarrassed and rather grossed out by what came out of me, I apologized to the nurse and doctor who came in to check me and cracked a few corny comments to lighten the mood. They all laughed and Adam kissed me while he whispered in my ear, "You are a treat to them!" I smiled.

The doctor checked to see how my body had progressed and within seconds he said, "I see dark hair-lots of it!" My body progressed to 4cm dilated and 90% effaced. The nurse officially admitted me and walked Adam and I down to our room after monitoring my contractions and our baby's heart rate. The walk down the hall took a little long due to powerful contractions and the hilarious looking "tights" I had to wear.

We settled in the very spacious birthing room around 630pm and watched a video on receiving an epidural. During the video, Adam leaned in to ask how I was doing already knowing what my response would be. We laughed at the situation before I could even answer--strong contractions on top of each other, the nurse hooking me up to machines, buzzing hospital room noises, bright fluorescent lighting above my head, and to top it off a video about huge needles..

..I felt GREAT ;)

The laughter and conversation soon came to an abrupt stop. My body and brain did not know how to handle the heightened pain. I needed Adam by my side but did not want him to touch me during the contractions. The extra movement on my body from him rubbing my lower back caused even more discomfort and pain. I went into a Katie-God-Prayer-"Happy" place and tried to stay there but failed numerous times focusing only on the pain and when it would end. My lower back sent violent pains shooting up, down, and across my entire body. I shut my eyes hard and covered my face with my hands. I gripped the side of the hospital bed. I became tight and contracted my body inward.

At times I moaned and groaned and asked when it would be over while other times I remained silent and calm.

Adam and my nurse encouraged me until I made the mistake and asked my nurse when this would be over. She replied that she did not know but that it could be hours from now and my pain would get 100 times worse. This scared me and caused me to really doubt my ability to handle that kind of pain. I knew the amount of pain I was currently experiencing and could not imagine it getting any worse. Little did I know at the time my body was moments away from pushing and fully dilated.

I asked for pain medication at 830pm.

My nurse struggled with my IV as she attempted to get it 5 different times each in a different location on my arm and hand. I did not notice because I continued to deal with the pain from the contractions. Adam helped me by bringing cold, wet washcloths that I used to cover my entire face. The cold water felt amazing on my hot sweaty head and surprisingly brought relief. Adam scurried back and forth between the bathroom and my bed bringing the washcloths as the nurse continued to work on my IV. I kept telling myself, "Medicine is coming soon, medicine is coming soon, just hang on, just hang on.." The nurse finally got my IV in and hooked me up to pain medication.

This did absolutely nothing for the pain..nothing..

I was extremely discouraged when the medicine brought zero relief to my body. I lasted through a few more contractions until the word epidural came up. My nurse helped roll my body to my right side to start preparing for an epidural if I chose that route. After she turned me over the next contraction is one I will never forget. It sent my body into forceful, extreme pushing mode. I had no control over it. I gripped onto the side railing of the bed as my body contracted and pushed all on it's own. I let out a cry. I was scared. It hit me for the first time that it did not matter if I was mentally or emotionally ready, my body was ready physically and I would be having a baby soon! After that contraction ended, I felt our baby's head down and ready. I had never experienced so much pressure before. I could feel her coming everywhere--surprisingly, mostly in my bottom.

I said yes to an epidural.

Within minutes, the anesthesiologist entered my room and prepped my epidural. Adam and my nurse helped me sit up and set me in position. I wrapped my arms tightly around Adam and smushed my forehead firmly against him. I became safe and at peace in his arms and felt our Heavenly Father work through Adam in that moment. I only felt the pain from my contractions as I received my epidural and focused on not moving a muscle. I struggled with guilt as I sat up right fearing I would hurt our baby's little head. The epidural ended a few contractions later and mentally I could feel myself calming down.

As the anesthesiologist cleaned up her station a new doctor walked into the room. Adam and my nurse helped lay me down so the doctor could check my progression. She instantly said with a smile, "You are ready to push! 10cm and 100% effaced!" I smiled and shrugged at the same time. I asked if I could at least wait 10 minutes or so for my epidural to kick in.

I could not..my baby girl made it clear she wanted out!

The doctor and anesthesiologist left the room together. It became quiet and peaceful. Adam held my left leg and my nurse held my right leg. It was just the three of us. I began to feel the epidural slightly in my right leg by the tingling, pins and needles sensation. I knew exactly when to push because I continued to feel my contractions though the pain had dulled. My nurse told me how long to hold each push by counting through each one and encouraged me the whole way. After 2 sessions of pushing 3 times, my nurse explained the quicker I could push after each initial push the faster the baby would come out. That is all I needed to hear and after the next 2 pushes my nurse excitedly shouted for me to stop.


My baby's head was crowning as my nurse called for the doctor. The stretching pain felt awful and I simply wanted to keep pushing but refrained. Minutes later the doctor entered the room. She very calmly told me to do a little push and as I did she said, "Stop, her head is out." After two more tiny pushes the shoulders came out and I heard a faint cry.

Our baby was here.

Penny had arrived and the doctor immediately placed her onto my chest. As I felt her perfect little warm body the tears formed. One look at her and the tears unleashed. I glanced over at Adam in disbelief that this beautifully formed person came out of me and is ours to keep.
I cried loud and ugly. I could not contain my emotions for our baby girl, they hit me all at once--It was like a dream. A painful, beautiful, and perfect dream. Adam cut the umbilical cord as I held our daughter. I cried and stared at her precious face. I embraced her warm pink body against mine. I felt her skin on my skin..felt her heartbeat and my heartbeat and I knew..

..I loved her, I loved her more than I ever thought possible.
The moments after Penny's delivery were surreal. Everyone in the room was busy and everything was moving fast while time stood still for Adam, Penny, and I. The three of us were in our own little world. Adam held my hand as I held Penny's. I kissed my husband and my baby. We prayed and thanked the Lord for this precious gift. We remained focused on one another as the doctor stitched me up after a severe tear. When my hour of skin on skin with Penny ended, the nurses took her to examine and bathe. I sat in the hospital bed watching these wonderful ladies take care of my baby and smile at her. I watched Adam as he followed the nurses never taking his eyes off of his baby girl.
I loved my husband more.

I loved my Heavenly Father more.

I just loved more.

Penelope Layne Miller

Born on July 1st at 9:26pm weighing 6lbs 11oz measuring 19 3/4in long.
 Psalm 139: 13-16,

"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."


.3 Weeks Old.

How is my baby girl almost a month old already? 
Pregnancy weeks felt like years to pass by but now that Penny is here with us, the weeks feel like days.
If only it were the other way around..

Little Penny is three weeks old and has brought so much joy and life to Adam and I. These first few weeks have been difficult and required a lot of adjusting on mommy and daddy's part but they have been precious filled with sweet moments. 
Penny does not sleep a lot and keeps Adam and I up during the night but even in the exhausted stressful times we try to seek and find joy. 

Joy in her healthy, powerful lungs..in her puffy tired eyes..in her strong, firm grip..in her puckered little lips..

Joy when she rests her head on our chest..when we breathe in her baby smell..when her silky hair tickles our neck..when we get a peek of the most darling smiles..when our rocking and humming help close her heavy eyelids..when she is asleep in our arms..
The nights are long but I am thankful for them.

I am thankful for the extra time to pray and praise God for creating this perfect little life. Thankful for the extra time to observe, hold, kiss, soothe, nurse, and get to know my little girl more. 
I have shed tears myself and have spent quality snuggle time crying with my baby but she is worth it.
Penny made me a mother and I have never been happier. 


.Due Date.

Today has been the day I have dreamed of for 9 long months..

it is my due date.

I often imagined what this day would bring..

the heavy anticipation of our baby girl's arrival..

posing for 40 week maternity photos, loading the car with hospital bags, attempting to read and understand my body, giving our dog the extra attention he has been craving, praying and praising God for the miracle He was about to complete, and enjoying being a family of two just a little bit longer..


I am simply blown away by the works of our Heavenly Father. 

Today instead of preparing for our first baby..

I am here and honored to introduce you to Penelope Layne Miller. 
Our little sweetheart made her surprising arrival on July 1st, 2013 at 9:26pm weighing 6lbs 11oz and measuring 19 3/4in long.

I never imagined my baby girl would be (almost) 1 week old on her due date. 


I am in love.
I am forever grateful God chose me to be Penny's mommy.

I will try to write soon but first..first, I must sleep :)


.Pregnancy Picture Post.

Try saying that title 3 times fast :)

I have thoughts, emotions, reflections, and experiences I want to write and share but tonight..

..tonight it's just pictures.

37 Weeks:
Colden photobomb..he is simply reminding me he's my first baby ;)

39 Weeks:
I'll try and write soon.

1 week to go--come on July 7th!


.4 Years.

June 20, 2009 I said, "I do."
I never imagined I would love my husband more than at that very moment..

Today, 4 years later, I have experienced a new love for Adam. It is one that is difficult to express with words for it is deep and is a love only my Heavenly Father has provided.

It is beautiful.

This past year has been a different journey for Adam and I as my body has struggled consistently through our pregnancy. By God's grace, we are better people because of it. This pregnancy has made us stronger..it has brought Adam and I closer together as best friends and as husband and wife..it has revealed God's promises to us..it has taught us what loving each other looks like and how to serve one another..how to be selfless..it has made our appreciation for one another strengthen..it has made smiling and laughter more dear..

We are thankful and truly blown away how God has worked in us this past year. It seems every new chapter in our marriage gets better and I often wonder how and why I deserve this..

Our life is not perfect, not at all, but we have each other and do our best to follow God's word.

Adam Everett, thank you for choosing me to be your wife for life. Thank you for choosing to love me on the hard days. Thank you for choosing to view the cup half full. Life is better because of you! I could not have imagined anyone else to be the father to little Penny. I can already feel a new love brewing inside of me for you, a love that will burst into action the moment I see you hold her in your arms. I cannot wait to 'parent' with you--let's do this thing!

Happy 4 years mister, I love you!


.My Heart is FULL--Life Update.

Life has been lovely lately.

I am 34 weeks along in my pregnancy and though I am severely uncomfortable, I am happy and really enjoying life.
 Adam snapped these photos of me and Penelope at 34 weeks before my Lynchburg baby shower. I am looking a bit tired and the truth is simple--I am tired, but it's a good tired. I love how much I look like my mother in these photos. Oh how I wonder who my little girl will look like..
(Black maternity dress and red necklace from Target)

My pregnancy sickness has thankfully gotten better during my third trimester. My body is still struggling with migraines, constipation, heartburn, and now discomforts but overall I have improved tremendously.

Little Penelope has been quite the mover! I find myself just sitting or laying down holding my shirt up simply staring at my belly. Watching her roll around and seeing my stomach contort has been an exciting (and a little creepy--in a good way!) time for me. Adam has his hands on my belly all the time and adores feeling Penny move. His smile when she gives him a big kick or roll melts my heart. He is so in love with his baby girl. We are starting to play the 'guess the body part game' with each other since Penny is doing some major growing. It is almost impossible to know for sure what we are feeling but its fun to gather from seeing and touching the different shapes. Lately we have been feeling a large circular thing pushing up and can only imagine it is her head or bottom. On the right side of my stomach Penny has continually poked out a small pointy body part which we are thinking is an elbow, foot, or knee. It truly is a unique experience, one Adam and I will never forget.

My energy these days feels as if it has been sucked dry and it's actually okay. I am no longer nannying (will write a whole post on that one day soon) so my only 'job' during the day is to rest, eat, and remember to feed and take out our dog! To say it has been nice is a major understatement.

Adam and I have been visiting with friends and family again now that my body and pregnancy have been treating me better. It has been such a simple joy to laugh again with loved ones.

The past two weeks in particular have been grand. Adam and I travelled to NJ to attend my first baby shower thrown by my mother and sister-in-law Kim. It was a wonderful shower and was fun to show off my baby belly (it is no longer a 'bump') to my relatives. I had my aunts and cousins laughing so hard when discussing other pregnancy 'bumps' that have developed...two large ones ;) You see, my whole life I always wanted larger breasts and my relatives (who ALL have them) told me consistently through the years I was lucky I did not. Welp, when they saw me and my new pregnancy body they about died! I finally have large breasts and they were right--I hate them! Oh how I love the ladies in my family and our ability to laugh together.
The baby shower hosts, my mother Cindy and sister-in-law Kim.
(Chevron maternity dress and jean jacket from Old Navy)
Two of my best friends, Caitlin and Lauren.
 My mom and aunts who attended the shower.

The rest of our weekend in NJ was a relaxing time filled with tons of food, sweets (thanks for that Mom), friends, and family. I soaked up my time with my nieces and second cousins and loved knowing the next time we would all be together, Penny would be with us! I cannot wait to introduce Penelope to her family, they all love her so much already! She is one blessed little girl..

When Adam and I came home we were greeted by his sister Naomi from MN! We started the week off with a birthday celebration for my father-in-law at Red Lobster. The rest of the week was filled with family visits, late night talks, lunches out, game nights, and even a pedicure for this momma to be (a big thanks to my mother-in-law and sister-in-law). Our week wrapped up on a high note with another baby shower thrown my mother-in-law, sister-in-law, and two of my girlfriends. The baby shower was absolutely beautiful. It was such a fun mix of women who attended--my girlfriends, family members, babies, and my mother-in-law's friends from church. I was truly surprised and delighted by the turn out and love shown to Adam, myself, and baby Penny.
Two of the baby shower hosts, my mother-in-law Wendy and sister-in-law Naomi.
 The other two hosts, dear friends Hannah and Mandy.
Myself and Penny posing with Adam's sister, grandmother, and mother. 

Memorial day was celebrated with great friends and new friends. We attended a barbecue at our friends house and it was extra special because the man of the hour, Daniel, returned home after months away training at Fort Benning. It was great to have him home! Adam and I then drove to Smith Mountain Lake to hop on a boat with friends who were celebrating their one year anniversary. We had a blast cruising around the lake and I must say, Penny enjoyed her first boat ride. Our night ended at Adam's parent's house where we stayed until 1am just hanging out, talking, and laughing with his family. It was hard saying goodbye to his sister but exciting knowing the next time we would see her she would meet and hold her little niece!

The Lord has blessed Adam and I with friends we consider family and with two families who willingly make sacrifices for us because they love us. It brings tears into my eyes thinking about bringing our baby girl into this world..into our world..a world filled with love.

We have been blown away by the generous gifts given to us for Penny's arrival and feel extremely fortunate to welcome her into a home that is prepared for her. Thank you to my family and friends who hosted the baby showers and thank you to everyone who attended and 'showered' us with precious, beautiful, practical gifts. We will think of each of you as we use your special gift with our daughter.

This is why my heart is FULL. Life has been good lately, so very good.

(linking maternity dresses up here)