Rocco Samuel’s Birth Story


Meet Rocco Samuel.Already proving he has got his own rhythm on life, he arrived 8 days early, on a hot summer night, July 26th. I now have three sons, and a wildflower. Wait, what?! It’s all quite surreal, and just like the birth stories I have tried to share before, there are no adequate words to be found to describe what meeting your child for the first time is really like. Here is just a summary of one of the best days of my life…

Before it all started…
All three of my children before Rocco were born on their due dates, so I wasn’t expecting much different this time around. It wasn’t until I arrived to Friday night after a long hot week here in Atlanta, I started to think this babe might be a different story. I was a few days short of 39 weeks, and I was beginning to have very strong braxton hicks contractions anytime I attempted beyond a snails pace level of activity. Legs occasionally going numb also might have been a clue? I started to frantically organize my house as would be the bazaar and accurate thing to do when you sense a baby about to arrive. (Someone should really figure out how to bottle that mysterious nesting energy that gives you all kinds of motivation to complete avoidable tasks.) I wrote out directions for my sister who would be caring for our little ones, packed the last details of my hospital bag, went to the store and stocked up on food, tied up some last minute projects, and began to pray for strength to overcome some of the anxiety I was battling. To be honest, barely making it to the hospital and having a fast natural birth with Max made it hard to feel calm about everything. I had an appointment scheduled with my midwife for Monday that we had planned a month prior to see if we could catch pre-labor signs before my due date. I knew that would be my reassurance of timing and when to prepare.  However, as I am always quick to forget, God had other plans, and they were much better than my own. My gut instinct was I wouldn’t quite make it to Monday. I really wanted my midwife to deliver this baby since she delivered my first son as well. I was driving 45 minutes just to see her throughout the pregnancy, but we knew though that with my history of fast labors I had to be open minded with no real birth plan but to make it to the hospital on time. 

Here he comes…
After a long brunch with family on Sunday and a calm afternoon, I began to think this baby was just fooling me all along, and I would just have to put up with braxton hicks contractions another week. We were all packing up to head out the door to a friend’s going away party when I had my first contraction. I immediately downloaded the full term app and started timing. (Because surely I wouldn’t be able to time them on my own as I had done for the last three!) I half second guessed myself. Was it really a contraction? You think you would know the 4th time around. After just a few they were getting a little stronger. Gabe looked at me and knew it was time. He went into mission mode and started loading the car in between phone calls. Behind teary eyes I took each of my children and held them and kissed them one more time before a new chapter would begin. My contractions were already 5 min. apart and I begin to panic that I wouldn’t make it up to my midwife. When I called her we both agreed it was best to head straight to the nearest hospital….

Fast forward to the delivery room ten minutes later, I made sure the nurses and doctors knew my body doesn’t know how to pace itself very well, and they very well could be catching a baby with a baseball glove momentarily. Luckily this time around, there was more of a steady pace of progression that actually gave us enough time to get me gowned and tubed up before things got really painful. Ladies who have given birth…. it’s that 5-6 cm mark that really does it right?? I needed Gabe’s hand on one side, and my rosary in the other. I felt God near. I knew He was in that room, as with the birth of every new life that He creates. I felt the world pause as I was about to take part in one of the greatest gifts given to a woman…the ability to be a vessel of new life.  

Beholden. | IHOD

The birth…
I held my breath as the doctor asked me to stop pushing. I had only pushed once and the baby was flying out. The cord was wrapped around his neck, and he needed to cut it quick. I was given the go ahead to give my last push. He was out in a flash, and they stole him away to the other side of the room.With my heart racing and begging God to hear that first cry, I waited in anticipation. There was a minor complication they were looking into, and so my heart felt like it was inside of my throat. It wasn’t until I heard that first little wail that my entire body breathed again. I looked at Gabe through teary eyes in a moment of complete gratitude. We had a son, and he had a healthy pair of lungs!

Gabe got to gaze at him first as they made sure he was okay. We kept shouting at each other across the room…He has dark hair! Does he have the signature family birthmark? He has a whole new look! When they finally brought him over to me, a dam of tears broke inside, and I wept uncontrollably as I got to feel my baby’s skin for the first time against mine. He was the smallest of all of my babies so far, and his tiny body felt immediately like he was always meant to be. Psalm 139 came rushing into my mind… 

You formed my inmost being;
you knit me in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, because I am wonderfully made;
wonderful are your works!
My very self you know.
…Your eyes saw me unformed;
in your book all are written down;
my days were shaped, before one came to be.

Rocco Samuel
baby boy
gabe and roccomaxIMG_0707


I am thankful for this indescribable joy just as much as I am thankful for the pains and aches that paved the way for this reality. It has been a blissful few days of complete exhaustion, and baby snuggling, and lots of feeding and diaper changing and a little noisy chaos in between. Gabe is taking care of our other three little ones as we adjust to life with four. I can’t even describe how much Gabriel and Veronica love their little brother already. They won’t leave his side. Max is somewhat clueless, although we have high hopes for their future bond;) Gabe chose the name Rocco after a catholic saint who spent his life in the service of the poor and sick. We always like to choose names that are role models for our children to turn to as they grow:)

Thank you to each of you who have shared your congratulations, and love. We are so grateful for you!


A little video Gabe and my sister took when the little ones met Rocco for the first time:) Song by Coldplay.

*We didn’t know the gender of the baby so we had two names picked out. Swell Forever so kindly sent the keepsake blanket a few weeks before he was born. You should check out their company and support of adoption and loss!
Rocco’s little bonnet is from Flora and Henri, and striped blanket I found from Little Unicorn.

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Our birth plan. (Or lack thereof)

via In Honor of Design

I usually chuckle when I get an email asking how I manage and balance everything so well. I make sure to assure them, I don’t know what those words mean most of the time.
Now I may have editorial content for the blog lined up a month ahead of time, as well as perfectly prioritized to-do list.  I am an expert at planning a trip itinerary in advance. I can plan a party down to the detail. I can even have all of the families work, school, or just for fun events entered as alarms in my phone two or three times to ensure we don’t forget.
However, unless organization is required, I tend to fly by the seat of my pants.

Most of the time, I couldn’t tell you what we are having for dinner the next day, more or less what we are having that night. 
We don’t make weekend plans till Friday at 4pm. 
In fact, we have our friends sign a flexibility disclosure that we may not be able to secure hang out plans till the day or hour before. (wink)
And don’t even bother asking me where each child will go to school and when. We don’t know these complex things till forms are due, and decisions MUST be made.

However, there are some things that require advance notice and a little more thought out organization than hour by hour…
For instance, a birth plan. Or lack thereof…

Did you have a birth plan for your first child? What about the second or third?
I realize that you are either a planner or you are…………….not.
Now after reading the before mentioned, can you guess which category I fall under?
If you guessed that I never have a birth plan, you are just about right. He knew!
My theory tends to be that if you make a plan for the birth of a child, that child likes to spite you, and prove you they have more of a personality than predictability. I decided to go into my first two births with an open mind, and let these babies come when they were ready, in the way they wanted to. This was probably a good thing considering the way each birth happened.

Even though all three of mine came on their due dates, they came in very different ways. My labor with Gabriel started off in a crazy way, but ended up in a paced and peaceful delivery post epidural. Veronica came quicker than expected and without the ability to choose medication. If I had any sort of plan in place, it never would have happened because of the nature of both deliveries. However, I decided maybe I would try out some sort of a birth plan for my third pregnancy and hope this would give me a little bit more control over the result this time. Ha! Max the moose surely laughed. My planned water birth never happened.

You can imagine why a making any sort of plan for the birth of my fourth is probably unnecessary. However, I do have a goal. GET TO THE HOSPITAL ON TIME. With how fast Max came, I am afraid I might have to pitch a tent in the hospital parking lot the week before my due date to ensure Gabe isn’t delivering the baby on the side of the road. Which apparantly, Gabe is perfectly fine with (can I have some of that ease of mind please?).

So there you have it my friends. No birth plan, but to call my midwife with the first contraction, and get myself to the hospital in a timely manner. I may just opt for that epidural too if I was so lucky as to have the option this time;)

Speaking of birth stories, I LOVE to read them. Especially right before giving birth myself which makes no sense whatsoever. I am a glutton for self – antagonization I guess, as I am also busting through seasons of Call the Midwife.Leave me some links if you have some good ones!

*Dress (non-maternity) by Free People c/o Shopbop, a fun similar one here.

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A real Mother’s Day.

Little hugs | In Honor of Design

This weekend May in the south skipped right to summer with some hot and sunny weather. Per my request, we didn’t plan a thing for Mother’s Day. I was hoping for the wide open day with my family with nowhere to be. When life is busy, it’s the unplanned days I look forward to the most.

It was like most Sundays with an early rise time of 6:30AM to get 3 little early birds and myself dressed and fed in time to get to 9AM mass. Gabe hadn’t stirred yet after our late night date to see a movie the night before, and it was his only day of the week to get a little more sleep. I had already dissolved several squabbles, picked up a couple spills off the floor, and franticly searched the laundry basket for a pair of clean underwear for Veronica. Forget my hair, it would have to settle for the frizzy mess it was, because I had two curly little manes to detangle instead.

However, I did wake up to two voices downstairs whispering to each other….
I got to open two packaged cards with crooked tape across the top, some skewed letters on the front and little surprises inside. Gabriel wrapped up a sharpie marker he found around the house because he said he knew I liked them. His name was written out proudly on the back of the card (a new skill he learned in Kindergarten this year). Veronica had spent a while coloring a flower garden and wrapping up a picture of me and my sister she had found on the fridge. In another envelope she had packaged up a few of her favorite purse trinkets. They couldn’t wait to give them to me and I got a few more squeezes around the neck than usual. I teared up because I couldn’t believe they were mine to raise.

Gabe stumbled downstairs close to 8AM with a new cappuccino maker wrapped in Christmas paper. He had snuck out with Max the day before on a “secret mission.” His thoughtfulness and dedication to our marriage is what I really see underneath the wrapping. I look at him with prayers of gratitude that he is the one I get to raise our children with. After church (to which we were late to just like every other Sunday..), Gabe made us all a big brunch. My brother came over, and we spent the day at the pool, took some long deliciously deep naps, and finished the evening with an ice cream run.


Just like every other day my patience grew short by with a crabby 4 year old, my back was sore from lifting my clingy toddler, and I was weary by the end of the day from settling fights about sharing toys. After the kids fell asleep I cleaned a messy kitchen and made sure things were in order for the last school week of the year. 

Motherhood never takes a break. You receive it with open arms the moment your first child enters your life, and you continue to keep those arms open until death. And as you spend your time, energy, emotion every waking moment on their well being, your whole being changes. These every day moments stacked into days and years is what produces an instrument capable of giving and receiving love in depths you never thought you were humanly capable of. Your limits are pushed, bent, and broken, and you become an instrument with a great ability to receive and distribute love. With the grace of God you become a constant source of life for your children. You are now the receiver and the giver. 

Just like every other mother, I will never be able to find the words in the human language to describe the receiving part. The part where you experience unearthly joy and happiness only received when you give over a part of yourself to another. 

I hope you all had a beautiful weekend! As always, thanks for being a reader and accompanying me on this wild adventure of motherhood:)

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