Jan 5, 2017

Cohen Bozley Ray: A birth story

Throughout my entire pregnancy, I was convinced my midwives had miscalculated my due date by at least a few weeks. I felt huge and uncomfortable for months leading up to my due date and I started having intense contractions beginning around 32 weeks. Either this baby was coming early or there were a few of them in there- I just knew it. And although they assured me I wasn't having twins and that our baby boy was growing normally, each time I went in for an appointment my midwives emphasized how important it was that I rest my body and try to eliminate stress so I didn't go into labor too early.

Fast forward to July 21st where I sat on the couch of my midwife's office, crying because I was still pregnant on my due date. I was swollen and achy. I was exhausted from carrying around all that extra weight while chasing a toddler all day. I wanted to lie on my back again. I wanted my boy to come and I couldn't figure out why he wasn't budging. After handing me an entire box of tissues, my midwife checked me. I was 3 cm dilated and 80% effaced. She reassured me that effacement was a better indicator of my body's readiness to begin labor than dilation, so I was in good shape. She stripped my membranes at my request, told me to call if there was any action, and I was on my way.

My contractions strengthened throughout that day but remained inconsistent. We went for a long walk when Keane got home from work in hopes that it might speed things along. He rubbed my ankles and I chugged Red Raspberry Leaf Tea. I went to bed panicking over the idea of going another two weeks with this baby inside of me.

The following day, Liv and I ran some errands to keep busy. We played at the park, cooked dinner and went for another walk. This time, I lunged my way around the neighborhood. I could definitely feel things moving in the right direction but my contractions were still manageable and inconsistent.

Later that evening, Keane put Liv to bed while I lay on the couch catching up on Orange is the New Black. I glanced at the clock when I began noticing a few contractions that had come back-to-back. It was 9:02 pm. I told Keane this might be it and he suggested I call the midwife and take a hot shower. I called our birth center at 9:15 and let them know my contractions were coming about 5 minutes apart. My midwife asked if I felt like coming in but I told her I'd rather stay and labor at home for a while since things were still very manageable. I'd call her with an update when things progressed.

By 9:30pm I could no longer speak through my contractions. I was on all fours, rocking and moaning, attempting to catch my breath. When Keane came inside from packing up the car, he panicked at the sight of me. He immediately called the midwife and told her we were on our way. During that time, Keane's mom came over to stay with Liv while we went and had this baby.

I made my short walk to the car, stopping twice for contractions. I was getting no break between them and the thought having to make the 20 minute drive to the birth center was daunting. Keane helped me get buckled and began backing out of the driveway. Another contraction came and I begged for him to stop the car so I could get out and work through it. It felt torturous to be strapped into the seat. He sped out of our neighborhood, refusing to stop. "We just need to get there!" he said. I could tell he didn't want to be delivering his baby on the side of the road. Each time I felt a contraction coming, I lifted myself up and did my best to move through it. The weight of my body against the seat was excruciating and that was the only way I could find any sort of relief. 

I tried my best to focus on other sensations around me like the wind in my face and the beat of the music while waiting for the next wave to hit. At one point I opened my eyes long enough to notice a man stopped at the same red light as us. Both of our windows were down and his jaw was on the floor as he watched me have a contraction. I gave him a little nod like, "everything's Ok," and we were off again.

We arrived at the birth center and Shaunti, our midwife, came to greet us. I had two more contractions while getting out of the car, at which point I heard her call the nurse on the phone and say, "Kelly's here and I don't think it will be long. Please head over now." Although I felt like I was progressing quickly, I refused to get too excited. My labor with Liv had been 24 hours of marathon-like physical exertion. I was prepared for the long haul time time around too.

After some coaxing, we got settled in our birthing room. The tub was filling up and Shaunti offered to check my progress. My fear after experiencing such a long labor with Liv was that if I was checked too early and discovered I hadn't progressed much, my confidence would be shaken. I decided it was better not to know. My other insecurity was that getting into the tub might slow my labor down like it had during Liv's birth. With a bit of a chuckle, Shaunti reassured me that wouldn't be the case this time. I labored about 15 minutes around the birthing room, having what seemed like a mere moment's break before the next contraction came. I spent the majority of my contractions hanging around Keane's neck during Liv's labor, but these contractions had intensified so quickly that no single position felt comfortable or effective. I decided to get into the tub.

Two contractions went by and every fiber of my body constricted. I told Keane I felt like I was going to be sick so he held a bowl to my mouth while I slowly swayed and tried to focus on my breath. I felt the need to bear down on the third contraction and felt a pop. With news that my water had broken, Shaunti, Abree (the student midwife) and Chandra (the nurse) gathered around me. They listened to our boy's heartbeat intermittently which remained good and strong. Shaunti placed a mirror under me to watch for his head. A few more contractions and some strong pushes later, out came our little boy. It was 11:13pm, just two hours after the whole thing began.

I pulled our baby out of the water and onto my chest, in utter disbelief by how quickly he made his entrance. It all felt like a dream- like it was happening to someone else.
I couldn't believe it was over! I felt energized, alert and so elated. 

Our babe had a hard time getting his color and taking strong breaths right after he came out, so Shaunti and Chandra vigorously rubbed his back and played with his limbs a bit to "wake him up." After almost a minute of stimulation, he pinked up and let out a good cry. We all took a collective sigh of relieve, although Shaunti assured us that his reaction was pretty common for babies born in the water and also because he came out so fast.

Shortly after his birth, we moved from the tub to our bed and did immediate skin-to-skin with him. Keane and I studied every part of him, from his perfectly round head to his huge feet! I stroked his face and I wept over my new baby boy for whom I had worked so hard to bring into this world. 

We settled on the name we had been considering for months: Cohen Bozley Ray. It was most fitting for such a strong and handsome boy. 

Born at 11:13pm on July 22, 2015,
Cohen Bozley weighed 7 lbs 15 oz and was 21.5 inches long.
Our big boy!

We left the birth center about 5 hours after Cohen was born and headed home to snuggle and recover in our own bed. Because my labor began after Liv went to bed the night before, and we were home while she was still sleeping, she was quite surprised to discover her new baby brother in our bed when she woke up that morning. Her reaction to Cohen was absolutely precious. She was tender and loving and asked if she could "lay on him very, very gently." :) The video of their first meeting is something I will cherish forever. 

Our boy has blessed our lives in ways we could never have expected. I didn't know how my heart could stretch any bigger than it already had for his big sister, but the love we feel for Cohen was instantaneous and unconditional. We are elated to have him safe at home with us and our family of four feels so complete!

Always and Forever, Coco. 
Always and Forever.

May 16, 2015


I guess now would be as good a time as any to pop in and say...

I've been cooking up a tiny baby boy for the last 8 months; due to arrive in July!

We are so excited to meet our little man, and if I'm being honest, I'm still trying to wrap my head around what it's going to be like to parent two little people at once.

I think Liv is going to LOVE being a big sister. She talks about "baby brother" all the time and regularly lifts my shirt up just to kiss my tummy and say hi to him.

This pregnancy has been night-and-day different from my first. The all-day morning sickness started earlier, lasted longer and was far more severe this time around. It is so true when people say that your body remembers what to do when you get pregnant for the second time. My belly popped so much quicker. I feel like he is huge even though he's not, and I'm carrying him much lower and straight out. I've gained more weight this time, been so much more exhausted and uncomfortable, and have had an insatiable craving for sugar. I also suffered from migraines during my second trimester that I never had when pregnant with Liv. 

Oh the joys of bringing children into the world! I know it will all be worth it the second I pull that little babe to my chest and kiss his tiny head.
We recently took a family babymoon to Hawaii. Here are a few photos from our trip. 

Dec 16, 2014

20 month goodies

It's official, 20 months is my favorite age! The things that come out of this little turkey's mouth are both hilarious and sweet, sassy and thoughtful. She soaks everything up like a sponge and she is unbelievably empathetic– she really has the best personality! There's not a chance I'm biased about this either. 

Here are some the "kill me with cute" things Liv is doing currently:

I have never formally worked with her on numbers (or anything else for that matter). I don't find it necessary to force learning at this age but I'm constantly talking to her and she LOVES books so we read all throughout the day. A few weeks ago, she started saying, "One, two, free, go!" before she'd jump off a step or run down the sidewalk. Then one day she counted to 10, unprompted and out of the blue. "One, two, free, four, six, nine, ten!" She did it again and again the exact same way and has ever since.

I am very big on kids having manners so we work on saying please and thank you a lot. This morning when I set her breakfast in front of her, she said, "Here ya go, thank you, welcome!" Just covering all the bases :)
She says, "Ta-da" when she completes something, "bummer dude" when something unfortunate happens, and is obsessed with picking her toe jams (thanks papa!). She knows how to put her own socks and shoes on and insists on having a turn buckling her highchair straps and zipping her coat. The other day I overheard her saying, "Pee-Ew! Papa tooted." Papa wasn't even home.

Current cute words:

-Heggie (heavy)
-Beeyo (video)
-Peekies (pictures)
-Wib (Liv)
-Wogurt (yogurt)
-Whood (food)
-Kinnie (her cousin Corynn who we call Corynnie)
-Tadin (her cousin Cavan)
-Damaw (grandma)
-Peas (please)
-Oss (off)
-Tinky (stinky)

I have to censor myself when I talk to the dogs now that Liv picks up on everything. She walks outside on the back deck and waves her finger in the air shouting, "no, no, no barkin!" and demands that they "way down" when they come inside. She tells them to "zip it" quite often.

She also says, "top it!" and "hey!" in a very sassy manner when she is objecting to something.
Liv is a very reasonable kid. I can often use logic to explain why we have to keep our coat on when we're outside and why we can't eat crackers for every meal. She is also cautious and considerate. If I ask her to be careful of the hot oven door, she will be. She is curious yet respectful of the fragile ornaments on the Christmas tree and is sure to only look with her eyes.

If someone is hurt or sad, she leans in to their face and says, "you OK?" in a sweet, high voice while cupping their chin in her hand. When they respond that they're OK, she says, "I'm OK too."

I hope to never forget how adorable and remarkable this age truly is. Each day gets a little sweeter with this precious girl. 

What a blessing she is in our lives!

Oct 23, 2014

Bovine Blessings

There's a great open space trail just minutes from our house that Liv and I have enjoyed getting to explore. Positioned next to the trail head sits a large cattle farm and each time we go, we're sure to make a stop to say hi to all the "moos."

I don't know if it was the endorphins or the Vitamin D or the fact that I feel closest to God when I'm outside in nature, but the last time we walked the trail, I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude for this life that I'm living. 

With so much going on in the world–so many ugly things happening and people who are hurting–there I was, free and safe and healthy and ALIVE.

What a blessing to have eyes to see the beauty around me! 
How wonderful to be able to walk and move and play with my daughter! 
What an honor just to be breathing!

I'm making it my intention not to take a single breath for granted on this amazing journey. 
Join me, will you?

Oct 21, 2014

Fall Festivities

So many things about this picture make me want to simultaneously giggle and weep. She looks like such a big kid walking with her hands in her pockets, sporting that glorious grin. I am reminded how quickly time passes when I compare this year's pumpkin picking photos to those taken last year

Liv was just a tiny six month old last time, obliging me with a few festive photo ops. But this year, she truly got it. She wanted to pull the wagon all by herself. She picked out her own pumpkin, ran through the corn maze and waved at the scarecrow. 

My baby is a year and a half now, recently weaned and insisting she do many things without my help. How quickly these little turkeys go from totally and completely dependent on you for survival, to this "I can do it myself" attitude!

Wishing you and yours all the best in pumpkin carving, apple picking and cozy sweater wearing this fall season!

Aug 17, 2014

Five years

It's been five years since I walked down that winding path to meet you. Five years since my Dad passed my hands over to yours. Five years since we promised each other Always and Forever.

It feels like we've spent a lifetime already together. Each day is an adventure with you, my love. Thank you for being such a supportive husband to me and a loving father to our Liv.

Happiest anniversary.

I still do.

Aug 12, 2014


Recently, Liv has begun to understand what I'm doing when I pull out my iPhone or camera to take her picture. She gives the cheekiest grin, says "cheeeeese!" and then immediately asks to see the picture.

It is so much fun watching her personality unfold at this age. She has a great sense of humor, can be silly and wild, but also likes to stick close to her mama in unfamiliar situations. When Keane asks her if mama is her best friend, she enthusiastically shouts, "YEAH!"

Everyday is a new adventure with her and the belly laughs keep coming– from both of us!

Such a ham!
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