A Decoupage Birth Story, Part II

If you missed Part I, click here.

Our third baby, a girl, yet unnamed, had been in a transverse (sideways) position for much of my pregnancy. In response, I ventured out to chiropractic appointments multiple times a week, utilizing a specific type of chiropractic care called Webster’s technique. I was familiar with Webster’s because it had been successful with Finn, my second baby, who was breech for almost the entire pregnancy.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous about this baby’s positioning; it was the main subject of so many of my prayers. I even recruited my close friends and family to make it a matter of their prayers, too. I felt mostly sure that she would end up head-down, allowing for a typical vaginal delivery just like I had with my other babies.

Our last photo as a family of four!

May 21, 2019. It’s the day of my induction, four days past my due date. Every last one of my babies have had to be evicted…they just get way too cozy in there. My doctor has been out of town but is now back, so it’s time to get this baby out! I sneak in a last minute chiropractic appointment (baby is head-down, best we can tell), then I rest for the remainder of the day in the living room chair I’ve claimed for the majority of this pregnancy. Soon we kiss our babies and make our way to the hospital. 

Third baby, yet it’s every bit as surreal as the first go around. 

We are delivering at a different hospital this time, much smaller than our previous births. It’s a hospital I actually worked at in the beginning of my ultrasound career, so the halls and rooms (and many faces!) are familiar which is comforting. We park and unload our bags and pillows – yep, it’s an absolute requirement of mine to bring my own pillow – and we head up to the labor and delivery floor.

We get settled in and then due to the baby’s fondness for changing positions so frequently, an ultrasound is ordered. The Sonographer puts the probe down on my belly and we’re all shocked to discover that her head is not down in my pelvis as we thought, but instead is located high in my right upper quadrant. They immediately halt all induction measures. We’ll see our doctor in the morning to discuss how to move forward, and we decide to remain at the hospital overnight to keep things simple.

May 22, 2019. 

Several conversations with doctors and ultrasounds later, we choose to attempt an external cephalic version (ECV), in which the doctor uses her hands on the outside of the mother’s belly to attempt to manually turn the baby into a head-down position. It has risks and complications so it’s not something we sign on for lightly. If you know my obstetrician you understand how we are able to trust her so implicitly for this type of procedure. Ultrasound suggests that I have low amniotic fluid, which is not ideal for an ECV. However, we know for sure that this baby is a gymnast and has been performing all manner of acrobatics in my womb, even in the last 24 hours. She doesn’t seem to have gotten the memo that she is overdue and shouldn’t have very much wiggle room. We ask our doctor to simply try coaxing her down, nothing forced, only encouraging her to move gently into position. If she resists, we will leave well enough alone and then make the next right decision. 

I’m given a shot of something to relax my uterus and they prep me for a c-section, just in case anything goes wrong and we need urgent surgical intervention. My OB dons her gloves, squirts gel liberally around my belly, and after seeing the baby’s position with ultrasound, she places her hands strategically on my abdomen. She gently but firmly moves her hands in a clockwise position and I feel a significant shift. The room is quiet and we all stop – it had only been seconds – was she already head-down? Sure enough, the ultrasound screen confirms it: head down. We all look at each other in amazement and breathe out a brief prayer, thanking God for this small miracle. Our nurse even says in awe, “Wow, we should have recorded that. It couldn’t have gone any better!” Truly, it had been so easy. Too easy?

A little while later, Brandon and I begin walking the halls together to settle the baby into position and encourage labor. We are beaming and in such high spirits, knowing we’re well on our way to meeting our daughter, and feeling so grateful for the successful ECV. 

My nurse keeps having to corral me back in the delivery room to hook me up to the monitor and check the baby’s heart rate since the portable monitor is not consistent. 

It’s proving difficult to get a good reading, and when she does obtain one, it’s high in the 180s, so our nurse has me lay down on the bed slightly on my left side. Immediately, I feel a shift in my belly. A sinking feeling sets in and I tell Brandon I’m pretty certain she has shifted again. When my doctor comes back to check on me, she’s able to feel that the baby is not perfectly engaged in my pelvis anymore, but she feels sure that once labor ramps up, the baby should shift back into position.

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Next, my doctor places the Cervidil (medicine to soften the cervix) to officially start the induction. Whew. It’s already felt like such a long road and yet we’re just getting started. It doesn’t take long for me to begin experiencing decent contractions. But oddly, my cervix is only dilating partially – externally, not internally – so it seems we are only in the very early stages of labor with a long night and probably the day ahead to go. I was somewhat prepared for this news: my two previous labors had lasted around 30 hours and 14 hours

It’s about 9pm. My parents leave after joining us for dinner, and my nurse suggests that if I want anything to help me sleep (Ambien) I would need to get it on board soon, before it got too late. 

After a few more contractions, I know I won’t be able to sleep — I’m running on fumes, having been in the hospital for 24 hours already. I want to be as rested and ready as possible for the big day ahead, and since I had followed this same protocol with my first birth, I don’t hesitate. Sleeping meds: sign me up!

CLICK HERE to read Part III

A Decoupage Birth Story, Part I

To jump to a different part of this story, just click these links:
PART II
PART III
PART IV

My last baby’s birth story. Big, deep breath. 

It’s not the story I wanted to write. In fact, I’ve basically avoided it for a full year. 

On May 23, she turns one (!!!), and it’s finally time I share the story of how she got here. It’s a wild one, a total whirlwind, and unlike any of my other birth experiences. 

First, some caveats

  • I’m acutely aware that this is not a worse-case scenario. Things could have gone way better; things could have gone way worse.
  • The medical staff is not to blame. Everyone did their best work and honored my wishes every step of the way. (My obstetrician is truly phenomenal and I’m so thankful the Lord allowed her to be the one caring for us that day.) In fact, they all went above and beyond and had they not been so attentive, the ending of this story could have been tragically different. 
  • I have experienced two relatively straight-forward vaginal deliveries. That is what I know and that is my comfort zone. Having a c-section has always been the least desirable option for me personally. And thus, the stark contrast of this birth from my others is palpable.
  • Not all C-sections are urgent or emergent.
  • We are BEYOND grateful everything turned out well. We are healthy, and we got to leave the hospital with our baby. All of that is a grace. I would go through this or anything else for any of my kids. They are worth every struggle or pain or difficulty. 
  • Brushing past a mother’s hard birth story because “at least the baby is okay” might be well-meaning, but it does not honor the mother’s experience at all. It does not give her the space to wrap her head around what actually happened, or deal with the full spectrum of her feelings about her birth. 
  • If you’re pregnant or have had a traumatic delivery yourself, some of this might be unsettling to read. 
  • If this story mirrors your own in any way, please know that I am so sorry your experience was not ideal. I’m sorry that the memory of your baby’s birth – a beautiful moment regardless – may be tainted or difficult to face because of the circumstances surrounding it. I don’t think we are alone. I just think we’re scared to say it out loud. 

Part I

(c) 2019 D Crowe Photography

Mamas, write your birth stories. 

Write them. Even if you’re not a writer, even if you’re not the type to bother with writing down your grocery list. Record. That. Birth. Story. 

I’ve preached this since I first became a mom in 2014. 

Pen it on paper, list it in timeline form in the baby book, save a digital note in your phone, blog about it, create a voice memo….the method doesn’t matter but the documentation itself does. 

Leading up to having my first daughter, I became easily wrapped up in birth stories. It didn’t matter if I knew the mom or not – it could be a woman in my real life sharing her story or a stranger on a podcast revealing the details of hers – hearing the first-person account of how any given birth went down was always intriguing to me. I hung on every word, amazed at how the details of each story were never repeated and were unique to each woman at that particular point in time. Tons (and tons) of stories later, I learned this valuable truth: the only predictable element of birth is its unpredictability.

Oh how true that would prove for me.

I think what fascinates me the most about birth is not only it’s unpredictability but also it’s sacredness. It’s a set apart event that in many ways shapes you as the mother. Birth is a sacred space that mothers may initially enter with a whole team of supporters — her husband, a doula, a best friend, her mom, a top-notch nurse, a beloved doctor or midwife — but ultimately, she endures the weight of it aided only by God. Her surrender is required. And through her surrender, the mother’s body is the chosen tool, the vessel, that God partners with to bring life forth. What an honor.

So you can imagine my shock when, after having baby #3, I couldn’t write our birth story

I could start it, but I definitely couldn’t finish it. The memories of my daughter’s actual delivery (and much of my labor) simply do not exist for me. 

That will always break my heart.

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Do you remember those paper-mache crafts you proudly assembled in elementary school? You know the ones – first, you cut out various shapes, pictures, and letters from newspapers or magazines. Then you meticulously glue the pieces together to create something entirely new. All gluey gobs and messy paper clippings, piled on top of each other, covering some unrecognizable surface. At first it’s completely gooey and seemingly disastrous, but before long it dries and everything is cemented in place. That’s when the art is revealed. Once it’s completely finished, you can appreciate the beauty of how it was built. Piece by piece. Scrap by scrap. 

That’s what this birth story is – a decoupage creation, crafted by overlapping, stuck together scraps of memories. Some of mine, but also my husband, my family, the hospital records, and the hospital staff. In fact, the first thing my husband did after we were discharged from the hospital was pull out his tablet and set his fingers to the keys to document his account of this adventure. All of the scraps and pieces come together on these pages to build something beautiful. (Because no matter how hard a birth is, I do believe it is always, always beautiful.)

Something you might remember about paper-mache in the early stages is that it’s fragile. It can easily fall apart. Until everything dries and “sets,” it’s vulnerable. 

As am I. 

(c) 2019 D Crowe Photography

A year later and this story still feels delicate and tender. When I tell it out loud, will I fall apart? I’ll be honest…my heart hasn’t completely “set” yet. But the good news is, I’m getting there. The more I talk about it, the more it solidifies somewhere deep that this is my story. It’s our story. I’ve got to find the beauty in it wherever possible. So I’ll cherish it and carry it carefully and close always.

Now, on to the story…

Click here to read Part II

Finn Jameson: a birth story

By the time my due date was in sight, I was ready. So. Very. Ready.

Maybe it was being pregnant with a boy this time, or maybe it was because this was pregnancy number two for me, but growing a baby was not as easy this time around. Borderline polyhydramnios (too much amniotic fluid) that made me look and feel so much bigger so much faster, a breech baby, ridiculous swelling, Rhogam shots, two rounds of antibiotics….certainly nothing major, but still, it made my first pregnancy look like a walk in a really lovely park.

IMG_0862_edAt my 39 week appointment, my doctor joked with me about the massive amount of amniotic fluid I was still carrying around, and said she hoped it would break in Walmart. (Good thing I can totally appreciate a warped sense of humor like that). I told her that would be impossible considering I don’t shop at Walmart because my mental health cannot handle it. But Target? Highly likely. And actually a scenario I welcomed because COME ON OUT BABY BOY. I was really, really ready.

I left that appointment believing he would be coming – on his own – any day now.

But unlike me, he was in no hurry. My babies must love life in the womb, because my due date of February 14 came and went uneventfully, just as it had with my daughter three years ago. And since she had weighed over 9 lbs at 9 days late, we decided to go ahead and induce me on the 16th.

Continue reading

the year of surrender

I don’t always create resolutions or “find my word” when the new year comes around. Some years I’ll feel drawn toward a specific theme or prayer but it’s not something I’m particularly diligent about. Especially this year — in the midst of baby prep and my toddler’s third birthday happening right around my due date — I’ve got a lot on my mind and lists of to do’s written e.v.e.r.y.w.h.e.r.e., so the new year came and went without much of a signal on my radar.

The funny thing is, I didn’t set out to find my theme for the year, but I’m pretty certain it found me.

When I think back, it actually began pursuing me at the last bit of 2016. I’m currently expecting baby #2 and things are altogether different this go-around. Nothing major, so please don’t hear me complaining, just different.

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From the beginning of my pregnancy, I kept feeling like the Lord was asking me to surrender myself to this pregnancy. Now, let’s be real a second and acknowledge that surrender is an inherent part of pregnancy – we give over our actual bodies for nearly a year’s time, so there’s that. But this calling was deeper; more toward a yielding in my spirit rather than just my physical body.

 

So, surrender.

 

Even from the start, this pregnancy has been much more draining and taxing on me than my first ever was – physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually.

 

At 35 weeks along, my doctor began my check-up with me laying flat on my back and her hands pressing into my belly feeling for my little boy’s position. She thought out loud, “where is his head??” as she searched and pressed.  I had been taking some peeks of him at work (I’m a sonographer), so I knew he had been breech for at least the past few weeks.

I hadn’t been concerned about it. Like, at all.
Until that moment.

Having a breech baby wasn’t something I had ever considered or expected, and I had no idea how much it affected, from a medical standpoint. My doctor briefly discussed some options if he stayed in that position, and none of them sounded especially appealing to me. A couple of them even scared me, if I’m being honest.

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With this news, I began to pray that he would turn, along with some of our friends and family. A coworker even said a prayer with me right in the middle of the hospital cafe one day. I also went to see a chiropractor who specializes in Webster’s technique – a way to open up the mom’s pelvis hopefully enough for the baby to switch positions.

After all of that, I knew I needed to accept the fact that if this baby stayed breech, there was a reason for it. A plan. A purpose. And I would just have to get over my personal preferences and fears.

 

Again, surrender.

 

I would like to tell you that I had complete trust and zero anxiety about the outcome from that point forward. But that would be a total lie.

As my next OB appointment crept closer, I started to notice my stress level rising. Questions swirled in my head, fear of the unknown settled in my heart, and lots of opinions began flying my way. I was feeling for his head all throughout the day, and I had been researching natural ways to help the baby turn. Did you know there are entire websites devoted to “flipping techniques”? It was all becoming too much.

I reminded myself that I had a healthy baby inside of me – something so many long for – and however he needed to be brought earthside would be just fine.

My prayer changed from please, Lord, let this baby turn, to me asking Him for a surrendered spirit again.

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When I signed in at the doctor’s office for my 36 week check-up, I was still convinced he was breech (although I purposely hadn’t felt of him to confirm that), and I was becoming resolved to the fact that he would likely stay that way. 

I came prepared with a list of questions for my OB regarding external cephalic versions, c-sections, risks and statistics – except these questions weren’t coming from a place of fear so much as they were to help me mentally prepare. I was ready to start firing them off when my doctor basically told me to hold my horses and let her check his position first. 

Oh, right. That is actually a brilliant idea.

I laid back on the table and she began to feel around my belly. First up high, she said slowly, “I think that’s a butt…..,” and then feeling down lower in my pelvis, “….and pretty sure that’s a head.” My mouth dropped open.

What? Had he really turned?

I was positive he was still breech. So sure.

But no, an ultrasound confirmed that I was so wrong, and I’ve probably never been happier to be wrong.

I did a happy dance with my doctor, tucked away my list of questions I’d prepared, and as I stepped onto that creaky old elevator down to the parking lot, I felt lighter. I just kept thanking the Lord for this sweet change, this sweet unexpected answer to prayer.

My Father didn’t have to do that. But he did. (And let me just say, even if he hadn’t, he would still be good and faithful.)

Of course, this doesn’t guarantee anything. This baby could shock us all by turning back around, or my labor could still end in a c-section due to a variety of reasons. But we have a shot at a natural delivery, and that was my hope all along.

So, surrender. Here we are again, old friend.

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I think it’s important that you know this surrender I’m talking about wasn’t perfect. It wasn’t quick or painless, and it wasn’t seamless. Much like motherhood, I do not have this completely figured out. (Um, not even close.) It’s a process. Even as I write this, I’m 38 weeks pregnant and I’m having to surrender my ideal timeline, because quite honestly, I want this baby out. Like, yesterday. I’m slowly and hesitantly handing over my questions, worries, anxiety, and stress to the Lord – one piece at a time. And many times, out of fear or habit or who knows what else, I still find myself reaching back for a piece I had already given over. (Feeling very grateful for a patient Father). The decision to surrender is just the first step in a long walk of following through and letting go. And then letting go again. And again. 

I’ve seen such clear evidence that the Lord is using this to draw me in closer to Him, however small it might actually be in the grand scheme of things. Because, no doubt, there are much bigger things happening in other people’s worlds than upside-down babies or pregnancy timelines. But I’m appreciative that the Lord is faithful to use what’s relevant to us – right now – to bring us close, test us, and teach us.

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Maybe your “right now” is something completely different. Maybe it seems too big and scary or too small and insignificant to submit to Him. But I promise, He can use it. And you know what?  You can surrender scared. In fact, that’s kind of the point. It gives our trust room to grow and mature. 

Our family pastor at church often says it like this in prayer, “Lord, we agree with you for the plans you have.” And I think that’s really what it comes down to: acknowledging that His plans are greater and that we want to be part of the story, not in opposition to it.

So, my answer is yes, Lord. I agree with you for the plans you have  – for me, this baby, and our story. 

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Tell me: what are you being called to surrender to right now? Or what is your word/theme for 2017?

 

 

#boymom

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I was in the shower when my phone rang. I yelled for Aven to bring it to me because I had a feeling it was my OB office calling.

Sure enough, they had the results of my blood work back. This particular genetic testing would also include the sex of the baby. 

The nurse explained that all of the genetic testing came back normal and fine, and would I like to know what we were having?

“Ummm, YES!” (Who says no to this question? Crazy people, that’s who.)
(Only kidding if you are one of those “find out at delivery kind of people”. Well, kind of kidding. Partly kidding and partly serious.)

She responded with, “it’s aaaaaaaa………….BOY!”

I honestly couldn’t believe what I was hearing.  “A boy??” I had to say it out loud to help it sink in. (This is even after seeing convincing evidence on an ultrasound…something about the conclusiveness of blood work just sealed it for me).

I didn’t even realize how much I was expecting to hear “it’s a girl” until the exact opposite was said.

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It’s not that I wanted another girl, or didn’t want a boy. Not at all. I just assumed it would be another girl. I think it’s a natural response to being completely submerged in my current role of raising a daughter. So, at two and a half years into this parenting gig, I have fully embraced the title of #girlmom and make zero apologies for it. I use the pink bow emoji far more frequently than I would have imagined. We do girly things together like shop and plan outfits (we even match sometimes…I know..) and basically it’s full on Girl World around here.

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And something about living with all things pink (no, really, ALL THINGS PINK, despite my efforts to steer away from that), baby dolls, requests to share my makeup, and “princess” dresses had convinced my mind that Girl World would be our permanent place of residence. And I was okay with that. It’s comfortable, it’s familiar…and it would be really nice to reuse all of Aven’s old clothes. (Ya know, just saying.)  

But to have the opportunity to venture into Boy World and take on a completely new adventure? We couldn’t feel more excited or blessed. As I finished getting ready that morning after the call from the doctor’s office, I could not stop smiling. Even through my surprise there was so much joy bubbling up, and it just keeps rising. 

And with this news, I immediately felt more connected to this babe inside of me. It’s like the reality of a new baby can finally take root when I’m able to picture life with him here: what name he’ll answer to, what his nursery will look like, and what kind of toys we will be strewn all over our house. I’m pretty pumped to be a #boymom.

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Sweet Baby Boy, we are thrilled. Thrilled to imagine life with you, thrilled to meet you one day soon, thrilled for the impending adventure of navigating Boy World. Prepare yourself: you have a very excited daddy who wants a fishing buddy, and an eager big sister waiting for you. She always thanks Jesus for you when she prays, and asks me constantly if she can be my helper when you get here. We all love you already.

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Thankful.

Writing has had to take a bit of a backseat lately, for various reasons, but today it feels so good to get my hands on this keyboard of mine because I have something sweet and special to share.

 

I cannot believe I get to do this again.

This….

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Carry a baby. Assist in another miracle. And become a mama all over again. 

Thankful.

It feels too special. Too heavy and light all at the same time. Too full and too happy and too much. 

Entering motherhood two and a half years ago thrust me into the wildest adventure of my life. It also plunged me into conversations, experiences, relationships, and issues I never even knew existed before. My eyes have been opened to so much, and among that, especially a greater understanding and gratitude surrounding this space of bringing babies into the world. I know it doesn’t always come easy, or when or how we hope it will. Have I mentioned how thankful I am? 

I notice I’m worrying less this go-around, and praying more. Praying over absolutely everything – mostly my heart, my attitude, my spirit…but also things like who will be clocked in at the hospital when it’s delivery time. 

I find myself craving less control, more surrender. And what I really want is for that essence to diffuse beyond these next six or seven months, beyond the day this baby enters the world, and settle deep into my everyday life as I walk through motherhood. Another prayer to add to the list. 

So here I sit, smiling from the inside out, gratefully surrendered to whatever He has in store. Thank you, thank you, Lord.  

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diy: mommy-to-be basket

If you have read anything I’ve written or know me at all, you know that I am passionate about encouraging moms. I honestly wish I could send each of you a personal hand-written note every day that simply says “Hey Mom! You can do this. You are capable. You aren’t alone. Now go be awesome.” Well, you know who else needs an occasional pep talk? Expecting mamas. (Pregnant or adopting. Because no matter how it happens, becoming a mom can be a little rough along the way.)


If she’s pregnant, she feels giant. Has sudden onset narcolepsy. Is plagued with swelling. Has terrible memory loss, gas, and heartburn. She is just TIRED. And rightfully so because making a human is no joke. 


If she’s adopting, she spends all her time and energy paper chasing, fund-raising, check-writing, and emotional roller-coaster riding. She is just TIRED. And rightfully so. Adopting a human is no joke.

One of my best friends since childhood is expecting her first baby girl in June (!) and I wanted to put together a small basket of love for her. My one rule was that I couldn’t include any baby items. I mostly focused on pampering type items and snacks. This one is all about the mom because it will ALL be about the baby soon enough. Can I get a witness. 

Here’s what I included in her basket:


1. A magazine
This particular girlfriend of mine just built and moved into a new house, so I grabbed an HGTV magazine for her. Mindless reading – check. Not baby related – check. 

2. Trail Mix
This trail mix from Target is called A Handful of Everything, and that definitely sums it up! This is my go-to snack and would be great for any expecting mom to have on hand for those sudden hunger pangs that usually occur at inconvenient times. 

3. BarkThins

Okay, these say “snacking chocolate” right on the front of the bag, so you’d be hard pressed to find a pregnant chick (or anyone for that matter) who wouldn’t love them. Not to mention the sweet + salty combo should satisfy most cravings.
4. Prenatal massage gift certificate (not pictured)
My splurge for the basket but 1000000% worth it. I had a few prenatal massages during my pregnancy and they were all HEAVENLY. If nothing else, you get to lay comfortably for an hour and nap thanks to their special pillows and cushions.
5. A comfy robe 
Not only is a good robe a necessity for the hospital, but I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say I lived in mine for the first two months postpartum. Extra points for the silky soft material and cute pattern.


6. A delicious-smelling candle 
Couldn’t resist this yummy-smelling candle at Target, and the canister is sweet and summery. (Scent: Juicy Gossip)

7. Peppermint Foot Rub
This Peppermint Foot Rub from Moon Valley Organics has the best scent – it’s light and refreshing and just makes you feel better! It has pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties, making it the perfect fix for a pregnant mama’s feet.


8. Pink (Coral) Nail Polish
because, hello, it’s a girl!


9. Eos Lip Balm

Who doesn’t love this lip balm? My favorite thing is that I can always find it in my purse because of it’s unique shape. 
10. Hello toothpaste
This expecting mama friend of mine is a Dental Hygienist so I knew she would appreciate these toothpastes from Hello Products (they leave out things like preservatives and dyes.) Plus – yummy flavors to hopefully counteract that heightened gag reflex that comes with pregnancy.


11. Decaf Drink & Mug

I stuffed some decaf tea bags and flavored water packets into a mug I made. I wrote Psalm 46:5 -encouragement in a cup. (I followed these directions to make it.)




Is there someone you can do this for? 

The basket can be modified for a repeat mom, an adoptive mom, a mother through gestational surrogate, or just a girlfriend who needs a pick-me-up. Going to visit a new mom in the hospital? Throw together a basket for her to take with you. You could also do this for a Mother’s Day gift. Friend doesn’t live close? Mail it. (I did something similar for another friend who was adopting last year. Just filled up a box with all her favorites and popped in the mail to her). The goal is simple: that they feel loved and special and hopefully a little surprised! It really is the thought that counts. 

There are ONE MILLION things you could include in a Mommy-to-be Basket. Just personalize it for whoever you plan to give it to. 

Here are a few extra ideas: comfy slippers or socks, her favorite pens, a movie, a new phone case, a book by her favorite author, gift card to her favorite store, a body pillow (think outside the basket! these are essential during pregnancy!), a packet of hair ties, a cute journal (you can write some encouraging notes, funny pregnancy tidbits, or uplifting quotes/scripture in random places throughout the journal for her to find.)


I received some of these products for review as part of the Savvy Sassy Moms Product Scouts program. All opinions are my own.