Herschel’s Birth Story

Herschel Floyd O’Hara, born December 4th, 2019 at 1:44 am. He weighed a beautiful 8 pounds 3 ounces and was 21.3 inches long. He was everything we could have ever wanted and then some! I had every intentions of sharing my pregnancy journey with you (definitely slacked on the end of my pregnancy, but it was a rough ride!), which included his birth story. After it was all said and done and he was finally in my arms, I had second thoughts about sharing the experience… We didn’t get the typical delivery where baby is pushed out vaginally, has his first cry, and placed on my chest for our first skin to skin bonding. It was honestly a very traumatic experience that took me awhile to come to terms with and to be okay with what happened. But now that the postpartum anxiety has subsided and I’ve had time to talk it through with family and friends, I know it’s nothing to be ashamed of. I couldn’t have controlled what happened and God was with us that morning in the delivery room looking over our sweet baby. We are so incredibly blessed it wasn’t anything worse than it was! Some people aren’t as lucky… but what is important is that our little boy is THRIVING, recovered quickly, and we’re all together as a family!

Jared and I arrived at the hospital around 9 pm that Monday so I could start my induction. I had already gone past my due date and was almost 41 weeks! Herschel had NO intentions of coming out on his own and I was so miserable and ready to get the show on the road. I was having mild contractions all day, but had no idea that that was what they were until they had me hooked up to the monitor. They inserted a cervidill to promote dilation a little bit more naturally at first. I was 2.5 centimeters dilated when I went in to be induced. The next morning, my mom and mother-in-law came to be present for the birth. All was fine and dandy, easy going, just waiting for baby to come. When my doctor FINALLY came in to check me (around 1pm the next day) I was dilated to a 3. In the middle of her checking me, that is when my water broke! And let me tell you this…when your water breaks, it’s on! Contractions come on full force and you’re in intense labor. This is when they started me on pitocin to keep the contractions regular. At this point, everything is still normal and moving along perfectly. I had a monitor facing me at all times where I could see when contractions were coming and with Herschel’s heart rate visible.

I knew I wanted to hold out as long as I could without the epidural in hopes that it wouldn’t slow my progress down, but I had all intentions of getting an epidural because I knew if you couldn’t relax a bit from contractions that it could actually prolong your labor. Your body does best if you find a way to calm yourself and give your body rest! I only lasted like 15 minutes before asking for the epidural (lol), but it felt like a LIFETIME! Once the epidural was given to me, the pain subsided, and I attempted to get some rest. I honestly couldn’t get any sleep because I was so eager to meet my baby! I think I might have gotten 30 minutes total of shut eye. An important side note is that my hospital allowed you to distribute more of the epidural every 10 minutes as needed. So if I felt like it was wearing off, I just pushed a button to numb me up again. Remember that for a later note… 😅

When my nurse came in around 11 pm, I asked her if she would check me to see if I was close enough to push. I was 9 cm dilated, but almost 10, so that’s when we started some practice pushes. Shortly after that, she said she would go get the midwife (a midwife delivered Herschel because my doctor was not on call) and it was time to push that baby out! We were all taking bets on what time he would be born, and everyone fully expected him to be born before the day was up. We were obviously wrong (lol). Jared and my mom had to hold my legs while I pushed, and I got the hang of it pretty quickly! The epidural wore off a bit (because I hadn’t pushed the button in awhile) and at the end of my pushing, I could feel everything… I pushed for 2 and a half hours and I couldn’t understand why he wasn’t out yet. I’m basically screaming and crying like crazy because I could feel all the pressure and pain from pushing. This is when everything took a turn for the worse. In the middle of frantically pushing, I heard the midwife tell the nurse to call the NICU, the baby’s heart rate is increasing.

Shortly after that, multiple nurses were in my room, Jared and my mom were pushed out of the way and now random nurses were holding my legs up. They got the little box out with all the utensils used to revive a baby and the lights were turned up to bright. This all was happening so fast and I wasn’t fully myself in my own body from extreme exhaustion and the adrenaline pumping through me. But I heard the midwife say his heart rate was racing and he was in distress and I did what a mommy does; I did whatever It took to save my baby. I didn’t take breaths and I pushed until I thought I was breaking all my bones, and out he came. The umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck twice and he had shoulder dystocia which basically means he was too big for the birth canal and got stuck. So while he was stuck and I was pushing extra hard to get him out, the umbilical cord was working even harder sucking him back in.

After he was pulled out and the cord was cut immediately, they placed him on my stomach for only a second before removing him and taking him to the little baby box. He was blue and there was no crying. I was in utter despair, crying and praying harder than I ever have. The nurse who was present my whole labor held my hand tight while I cried into Jared’s chest. The only thing going through my head was “I don’t know what I would do if he doesn’t make it.” I see a nurse lift his little hand up and it fall right back down as if he were lifeless. And that’s when I heard it; the most beautiful cry you could ever hear come from the most precious baby. My heart just sank and I yelped with relief that my baby was okay. Everything had happened in a span of 5 minutes; that’s how quickly things can take a turn. They handed him over for me to hold for a minute before taking him to the NICU for further observations. He was so perfect and everything I had just endured was nothing compared to the amount of love and joy I was feeling holding him.

I never wanted to share the first few photos I had of my sweet baby because honestly they were too hard to see. But now I look back at them and smile at how strong he was those first few days of life in the NICU. I am so thankful for that sweet babe, and again, it’s nothing to be ashamed of. There is nothing I could have done differently to prevent it from happening and he is still the same Herschel no matter how he got here. I apologize for the lengthy post, but no matter how difficult the experience was, I want to remember it because that was the day my son was born. 💙

Happy and healthy like nothing ever happened! We love you Hershey!!

Always,

learnandbewithme

Baby O’Hara, Coming November 2019!

Okay…this post is W A Y overdo! I’ve known that I’m pregnant since the beginning of March and I am just now getting around to writing about it (at the end of July). Honestly, I’ve been a little MIA for the simple reason that I’ve had so much going on with my life that I was truly overwhelmed! Since my last post I have started a new job (yay for Pre-k teachers!), Jared and I moved into our first house (hello home improvements!), and we found out I’m pregnant with our first little babe (give me all the baby kisses!). So actually, overwhelmed is an understatement! But with all the new changes going on in my life, I find that happiness radiates through me and changes bring so much more fulfillment in my life! This little baby boy is about to make me the person I’ve always wanted to be, a mom!

Back in February we had the biggest achievement of finding our first home! We had looked for months, toured probably close to 20 houses, and even had a contract on another home that evidently fell through. We had no idea at the time, but it was all leading up to finding our perfect starter home where we will eventually begin our family. It was built in 1948 and placed in the middle of the cutest town! When I say this house is old, I mean O L D. It has all its original wooden doors, glass door knobs, hardwood floors, and plenty of rooms so we can grow in this house.

About a month before closing on the house, Jared and I were sitting on the couch kinda just doing our own thing. I was on my phone while he watched TV when I started playing a video on YouTube. It was this girl I follow on social media announcing that she was pregnant. She had mentioned that she went off birth control and it took about five months to conceive. I had no idea Jared was even listening, but that’s when he stopped me and asked if that was common for most women. After responding with the, “everyone is different” comment, that’s when he threw me for a loop and said “we should start trying for a baby now”. UM, WHAT?! I jumped up and assured him that this was a very important decision and we had to talk about it and decide together. We have been discussing kids for a very long time, and we knew as soon as we had a house that we would start trying, but I was honestly just surprised that he actually wanted to start! After talking it over for awhile we both came to the decision that we should start trying to conceive.

I had a week left of birth control, and every day leading up to it I asked Jared if he was 100% sure of our decision (lol). With each day it only became more and more clear that that was our next step in life. Once we started trying, I soon realized that waiting for that positive test is agonizing! With each day I wondered if I was pregnant or if we’ll have to try again the next month. When it came close to my period time I went out and bought a pregnancy test. Most you can test up to four days early, but I was a little eager so I tested it at five days :P. It came back negative. That was a little disappointing, but I just went on with my weekend like normal. I was convinced I wasn’t pregnant and Jared encouraged me to wait until I missed a period to take another one. But something was telling me I should take one more test (two days later) just to be sure. I didn’t have any symptoms, but it’s almost felt like God was saying to do it. So I took another test and it had a faint positive sign…

Jared was in disbelief, but being a woman I knew that even if it’s faint it’s still most likely positive. I was freaking out at this point! We then ran to the store to grab a digital test for a more clear response. And what do you know, “pregnant” pops up across the screen. Just thinking back on it makes me giddy. I am so incredibly thankful that God blessed us with the ease of conceiving on our first try. I know so many women have the heartache and frustration of trying to conceiving and failing time and again. Or maybe they’re able to conceive, but aren’t fortunate to carry out the pregnancy. We have dreamt for so many years of raising a family together, and God blessed us in so many ways to allow us this journey of a home, a family, and a future!

Now we are settled into our home, working on a nursery for a little baby, and throwing out possible names for him (which we are 98% sure we have decided on a name 🙂 ). I would love to continue sharing my journey of pregnancy and experiences of first time parents. This blog truly is my creative space, and now that I feel less overwhelmed (and myself again) I want to create some helpful and truthful content for my readers!

Always,

learnandbewithme

September 8th, 2018

I can’t believe its been over a month since Jared and I have said our “I do’s!” When I look back it feels as if it were all a dream. I read all the articles on what to expect on your wedding day, looked at all the Pinterest boards, but I never understood how magical, and to be frank, how quickly it would all be over. I spent months and months planning and imagining what it would be like, and I’m happy to say that it out-did all of my expectations! It truly was the greatest day of my life, no matter how cliché it sounds.

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The day of the wedding, my sister, niece, and I woke up early to get to the venue so we could get our hair and makeup done. When planning out a timeline, I thought it was silly to get there before noon because, how long could it really take to do hair and makeup? That was the first thing I was wrong about (lol). If your venue allows you to arrive early and spend the day there, take advantage of it because it made my day as stress free as possible. Once I was there I didn’t have to worry about planning out my day around when and where I needed to be places. Throughout the day my bridesmaids started showing up and a few of my family members. The venue we chose was part restaurant so they offered us lunch and mimosas in which we all appreciated so much!

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We all just relaxed and had a good time listening to music and talking. We had the entire upstairs to ourselves with two full bathrooms and a beautiful room filled with antique furniture and couches. Thinking back now, most of the day was a blur. I tried to stop and take in every moment, but when you’re focused on the ending it’s hard to do so. I was getting so nervous! The day of the wedding I decided to write Jared a letter and have my sister deliver it to him when he arrived. I was already crying while writing it, so you can only imagine what a wreck I was during the ceremony!

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I can’t get over how cute my little flower girls were. I’m so blessed to have two precious nieces who could walk down the aisle in front of me; and they had a blast hanging with the girls all day. And can we talk about how stinkin’ cute their baby robes were?!

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One of my favorite parts about this day was having my dad and I do a first look. After my mom, sister, and now mother-in-law helped me dress, I stood in the corner and waited for my dad to come in. As soon as he stepped in the room, both of us started bawling. You can get a sense of how much everyone was crying on this beautiful day (lol)! Nothing means more to me than the family I have in my life. I am so incredibly grateful for both my parents and Jared’s mom. They’re the reason our day was as amazing as it was. Especially to my mother who was the wedding planner of the century! She kept my head on straight and all of my needs organized. She was my hero these last ten months.

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It really is no joke when they say a wedding is all about the bride. I felt like an actual princess waiting to meet my prince. Everyone was full of joy and excitement, and all eyes are on you the whole night. With a wedding of 100+ people, it would be an understatement to say I was anxious! But it was simply perfect and if I could relive it again and again, I would in a heartbeat.

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The ceremony was short and sweet, just how we liked it and the reception was truly a party. The floral chandelier was absolutely stunning and could take your breath away. Our florist did an incredible job and no one (including me) could stop admiring it the whole night. The flowers used most throughout the decorations were no other than O’Hara roses to represent my new last name. I think it’s safe to say they’re my new favorite flower. ❤ I used gold geometric terrariums for the hightop tables which were the cutest little centerpieces. And we can’t forget how gorgeous my bouquet was! I really can’t express my feelings for this night other than it was perfection.

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My photographer surprised Jared and I with these adorable previews of our pictures during dinner. They in themselves were beautiful I was already getting antsy to see the rest! I loved that she gave her brides an idea of what their special day was going to look like in pictures, and it gave me something to show off to people the next day! It was one of my favorite parts of the whole night receiving these polaroids.

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The groomsmen were truly the life of the party (per usual). Our wedding is the third wedding with basically the same groomsmen all in attendance. These guys are amazing friends to Jared and we can always count on them for a good laugh or a good time. While all the women were upstairs getting ready for the day, my bridesmaids looked out the window and started laughing at what was going on on the lawn. It was Jared and his groomsmen taking pictures and the poses they chose were no surprise to me. The brides of the weddings they attend usually have to remind them to behave and not to ruin the pictures (lol).

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The hardest and best part was the anticipation of seeing Jared. We wanted to keep things semi traditional so we said our goodbyes the night before the wedding and didn’t see each other until I walked down the aisle. It was so hard for us since we really do spend all of our time together. I got a few texts here and there from him asking if he could see me before the ceremony because he was going stir-crazy. The moment we laid eyes on each other we knew nothing else mattered about the day except for us exchanging vows and “I do’s.” I now understand why you’re considered in the honeymoon phase after your wedding. I fell in love with him all over again that night.

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While planning my wedding, my main goal was to create an event that was not only unforgettable for my husband and I, but to see all my friends and family together in one space having all the fun they could handle. I wanted laughing, dancing, and smiles all around. I had an awesome DJ who interacted with the crowd and got everyone up and moving. There was even a moment when my photographer came and asked if she could barrow me for a certain picture and I asked if I could finish a song first (lol).  We kept all the traditional wedding stuff simple and quick because we know that can kinda be a bore, and we wanted to focus on the celebration with friends and family rather than a prolonged ceremony, cutting of the cake, and first dances. Our ceremony only lasted 20 minutes total! Which meant more time for dancing and visiting!

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I want to thank every person who could be a part of our day and make it what it was with love, support, and hopeful wishes. Our photographer Veronica Martinez was truly outstanding and captured our wedding so beautifully. We highly recommend her and her boyfriend for your engagement or wedding photos! We also would like to thank Hanover Tavern for hosting our wedding and being extremely accommodating and helpful through the whole process! We are smitten and happy to finally be Mr. and Mrs. O’Hara. ❤

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Always,

learnandbewithme

 

Engagement Photos With V!

I originally posted our engagement photos just as a simple post that acted as a photo album. But then I decided I wanted to talk about our whole experience because it honestly was amazing and I couldn’t have loved our photographer more!

We decided an urban scene best fit our interests since our relationship started in Richmond and it’s where we currently live and love to explore. I had every intension of capturing our pictures walking up and down Monument Avenue, but while driving to meet our photographer, I decided to change it to Meadow Street last minute. There were beautiful pink colored houses, cobble stone alleys, and a quaint little park all within three blocks.

Our photographer Veronica Martinez was so sweet and had no problem switching locations up. She drove all the way from Florida to take our (and a couple of other couple’s) engagement photos, so that simply was amazing of her! We then started up and down the street where she captured the most beautiful photos of Jared and me for our wedding book.

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We had to postpone the session at least three times due to bad/cold weather. I felt like winter would never end! Since summer decided to hold out as long as it could, I was actually freezing the entire time (lol). Jared was constantly warming me up by rubbing his hands up and down my arms, which she ended up catching in a few snap shots.

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One of the best part’s of the whole experience was when we were taking a few pictures in front of someone’s house with beautiful yellow flowers, when the owner came out and explained how she had a bunch more in the back that would be much prettier. So she escorted us to the backyard where we got the most stunning shots!

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Veronica was so great at making us feel comfortable in front of the camera (which isn’t something either of us are naturals at!) She got us to tell her stories that resulted in laughing fits, she had us play little games (like humming a song and the other had to guess what it was; and randomly I went with Mrs. New Booty? lol), and had us feeling excited and even happier by the end of it.

She was super flexible with locations as well, she willingly drove to where it all started just so we could get a reenactment of our first kiss!

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Yes, our first kiss was in front of a diner where I’m sure a million people saw us….haha

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Veronica will be doing our wedding photos as well and were so excited to see what she creates then! If you are ever looking for someone to do your wedding or engagement photo’s, we highly recommend Photography by V!

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Always,

learnandbewithme

How I Managed School and Planning a Wedding at the Same Time

If somebody told me when Jared and I met, that three years down the road I would be preparing myself for graduation and planning our wedding all at the same time, I would have never believed them. But something I have learned through this journey is that life never goes as planned, and I couldn’t be more happy about that! Originally, my advisor didn’t want me to pursue graduating in four years since I was behind from transferring, but that was a goal I was determined to make. After long semesters of 18 credits worth of criteria, I persevered and was informed that I could graduate after only four years of school. Getting closer to the end of my journey, Jared and I were getting more and more impatient about marrying each other. We knew we wanted to be together forever and had dreams of buying a house, owning a farm, and having many kids together. We didn’t want to waste anymore time. I set restrictions on our relationship saying that he had to wait until I graduated to propose because I didn’t want to get caught up in getting married and letting my dream of graduating in four years slip from under me. His original plan was the ask me the day of my graduation to marry him, but like I mentioned above, life never goes as planned and he asked me to be his forever at the start of my last semester of college. Which meant that I had to finish off school, and get to plan a wedding all at the same time, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Do Your Research

If you’re newly engaged than the first thing you need to figure out is what your ideal wedding looks like. I created Pinterest Boards, took quizzes about what theme fits my style, and started shopping. The best thing you can do for yourself is find a wedding planning website that fits your needs and sign up immediately. I use TheKnot to organize everything into one platform and used the search engine to find my venue and photographer. It can also assists you with setting a budget and tips on how to stick to it. Which leads me to my next point, set a budget and figure out what is realistic for your dream wedding, and what belongs in your fantasy. I am not a millionaire (sadly) so i can’t afford everything I would ever want and that’s okay! Doing my research first is what has helped me narrow down what I want and need for my wedding later on in the planning process. Trust me, it can get overwhelming, but as long as you are aware of the costs then it will relieve some of that pressure.

If you want to see some of my ideas, check out my Pinterest board!

Start Early

Something that I have found that has helped me through the planning process is to get the major details checked off my list early. I was fortunate enough that I could start planning for our big day during school breaks like our winter break, so I had basically a month to dedicate my time to wedding planning while no school work was required. Setting a date is the most crucial part, so if you plan on getting married within a year of your engagement, than it is never too early to set a date. Once you find a venue you love, pick a date and stick to it. Once you have the date you can order your save-the-dates and get those out whenever you’re ready. Starting early will also help you get the date you want, if you have a specific time in mind, because trust me, you’re not the only one who is engaged and you’re most likely not the only one who wants that specific time period. So the earlier you start, the less likely you’ll have to settle or wait another year to get married.

Get the Big Finances Out of the Way

Okay, I don’t mean blow all of your life savings or spend your entire budget upfront, but start booking the ‘big picture’ things. The good thing about weddings is that you make everything in payments! So as long as you have enough for a down payment, than you’re booked and they save your wedding date and you don’t have to worry about it until the next payment is due. So start scheduling appointments to view the venues and get it booked! Once you have the venue I would focus on finding the band or DJ you prefer, the florist, caterer if your venue doesn’t require you use them for food, who’s making your cake, and most importantly, your dress. If you get those big finances out of the way early, you’ll set yourself up for a less stressful ride.

Step Away from Planning When Necessary

Planning a wedding is one of the most exciting times of your life, but it can also be the most stressful. Thanks to my winter and spring break and some reading days, I really had time to focus on wedding planning outside of school work. But if you’re like me and life is happening all at once, you need to be able to separate the two. I had an online class on Excel worth one credit that was work at your own pace. I had to learn how to operate all the function in each chapter, show up for an exam that you had one chance to pass, and get an 80 to receive the credit. It was essentially the one class that could hold me back from graduating. When it came close to exam time I realized I couldn’t focus on any wedding planning because my time belonged to studying. Which is perfectly fine! It is okay to step back and put planning on hold for awhile. Don’t worry, you’ll still get everything done in time for your big day! I kindly told my family members that I couldn’t answer any wedding questions until my exam was over. That meant no texting about decorations, taking a break from Pinterest, and no emails. Taking a break from planning can also be good for you when it’s something you have been focussing on for months at a time.

Don’t be Scared to Ask for Help

Planning a wedding is no joke, and it will be one of the biggest events you will ever plan. I mean, being a wedding planner is a real job with people out there getting paid everyday to direct it all. But if you want to save money by skipping the wedding planner, you’ll still need to ask for help every once in awhile. My mom, future mother-in-law, and sister have been a tremendous help to me. If I am busy with classes or studying, there is nothing wrong with texting one of them and asking if they can contact so and so, or email this person, or research the price of this or that. Planning a wedding is definitely a full time job, and it’s smart to divide that time between the people who will share that special day with you. It’s important that you ASK for help, not TELL your friends or family what to do. No one is going to want to help you if they see you are becoming a bridezilla and not appreciating their assistance. Lastly, if you have a vision of something you want, tell those who are helping you plan. They aren’t going to know your exact idea if you don’t communicate with them and then you both can get lost from your dream wedding.

Don’t Forget to be in the Moment

Once the dress fittings begin, the save the dates go out, and the decorations start to accumulate, you can’t forget to pay attention to the life you’re living at this very moment and to stop thinking about the future ten months from now. I’m still in school and I have plenty of friends who aren’t on the path of marriage yet. I have to remind myself that it is okay to just be a college student who just wants to drinking $5 margaritas. It’s okay to put off planning and daydreaming if it means spending time with your friends, because you have to remember that they are also starting their new lives and everyone will go their separate ways in the end. I had engagement photos one day and cap and gown photos the next. You can’t forget that you wont get these moments back and everyday of your life is just as important as the day you marry your soul mate.

 

These tips really only apply to you if you’re one, getting married while in school, and two, you’re planning your own wedding rather than opting for a professional planner. Either way, I hope these tips are helpful when it comes to you planning your own big day!

Always,

learnandbewithme

*Image by https://photographybyv.pic-time.com/portfolio*