Author Archives: Courtney Shevchenko

About Courtney Shevchenko

Saved by grace ๐Ÿ’’ SuperShevy's wife โค Mama ๐ŸŒฑ INTJ ๐Ÿ”ฌ Musician โ™ซ Artisan ๐ŸŽจ Piano tech/tuner ๐ŸŽน Coffee enthusiast โ˜• Lover of road trips ๐Ÿš—

{a tribute to my grandfather}

My Grandaddy fell unexpectedly ill a few months ago. He bravely fought a horrible infection, until it became clear that he was not to be long on this earth.

When I think about the day he died, I feel a sense of peace, although it is so, so hard. There are so many things I am thankful for. He didn’t have to linger in pain or suffering. The Lord graciously answered a prayer in allowing him to be moved from a horrible hospital into one that did all they possibly could do to save him and help him to heal. Every single person we encountered there were so very gracious and so tender in their care. I saw nurses fight tears themselves as they poured their lives out for others- it was amazing.

I got to watch my parents work as a beautiful team. I’ve always admired the relationship that they have. They are married, but they are best friends too. I saw the tender looks pass between them as they comforted each other while watching my grandfather decline. I watched my dad be such a strong rock as he watched his dad slip away. I am so grateful that God allowed my dad to be home so much over this summer so that he could spend the time with my grandfather. When Daddy couldn’t be at the hospital, my mom was there. She sat there day after day overseeing what was going on and caring for my grandfather as if he was her own father. Watching the love and care radiate from her was so beautiful that it made me cry. My grandfather called her “his assistant” the entire time he was at the hospital. He called her his daughter, not his daughter-in-law, for as long as I can remember. He acted as a father figure in my mom’s life, and loved her as if she was his own. <3

They called the family in on September 9th, and let us know he was slipping away. We were able to go and be with him through that entire day. Once again, I was so impressed with the care of the nursing staff who were tending him. They were so gentle and careful, and were doing everything they could to make sure that he was comfortable.

At one point, a lady came in and played music on her guitar and sang to him. I will never again hear “on the road again” and “walk the line” without remembering this day. The calming presence that settled over the room was such a marvel to me. This particular experience was a realization to me that it is important I use my music as a ministry to others. I am praying about how to put that in place.

As the hours passed, more and more family arrived and surrounded his bedside. I am thankful for technology that allowed us to webcam with extended family who weren’t able to come.

Later on that evening, he slipped away to heaven to join my grandma, my great-grandparents, my precious babies, and so many other dear ones, surrounded by those who loved him most. I can’t imagine a more calm and peaceful homecoming.

I’m at the point in the grieving process where it still seems so surreal, and then when reality kicks in, it hurts so badly that it catches my breath. Thanksgiving and Christmas, and so many other things will not be the same without him here to be with us. I know that it was his time, and that the Lord’s ways are higher than ours, but that doesn’t make it easier for those of us who were left behind.

The most important thing that I want to mention is that we experienced the Lord answering a huge prayer. We have prayed for my grandfather’s salvation for many, many years. We’ve been burdened over his heart and not knowing where he stood on things. As it was becoming apparent that he was slipping away, I shared with some close friends and my church that the thing that was burdening me the most was the fact that we didn’t know if he had a relationship with Christ. My dad was able to discuss it with him over the weeks they spent together at the hospital and he made a profession of faith. I am humbled by the Lord’s mercy and provision.

My dad asked if any of us might like to share at Grandaddy’s funeral. I’m going to conclude this post with a slightly edited version of what I read at his funeral. <3

 

My Granddaddy has always been a special and important part of my life. One of my earliest memories of him was from when I went to visit at his and Grandmaโ€™s house, and he asked me what kind of cereal I might like for breakfast. He gestured up to a shelf in their kitchen where there were at least 10 different varieties of cereal. I can remember just being so impressed as a little girl that anyone would have that many kinds of cereal on hand and ready to go.

As years passed, Grandaddy continued to be a strong and steady, yet gentle and humble man in my life. I am so thankful that God blessed me with him. The care and work that he and Grandma poured into my dad has been something that has blessed me for all of my days.

Grandaddy loved family. When we would have our big family get-togethers, like any good southern family, we always had a lot of food, and to make cleanup a bit easier, we always would use disposable silverware and plates. He would always take whatever silverware he used and put it in his shirt pocket to take home. After several years of him doing this, I finally asked him one day what he did with all the silverware. He told me that he takes it home, puts it in a jar, and that every time he looked at the jar full of spoons and forks, he remembered the happy times of getting together and enjoying good food. My mamaโ€™s mom taught me to make deviled eggs when I was around 9 years old. Her reasoning? She knew Granddaddy and Daddy loved them, and thought it would be a perfect way for me to have a holiday โ€œsignature dishโ€. Even now that I am married, I bring deviled eggs for Grandaddy and Daddy (oh, and the rest of the family too!), to all of our holiday get-togethers.

 

Grandaddy loved chocolate, and he never, ever turned down dessert. My family so loved feeding him when he would come over. Never have you seen someone so excited for a home-cooked meal.

My love for John Phillips Sousa and vinyl records surely comes from him, as does the love of cheesy jokes. He passed his sense of humor on to my father, who passed it down to me. I so loved bantering back and forth with him once I was old enough to know how.

My grandfather was an honest, hard-working man. Life was never given to him on a silver platter, and yet, he never complained. He simply did his day-to-day tasks, and did his best to help others whenever he was given the opportunity. Even on his deathbed, he was saying โ€œthank youโ€ to the folks around him as they tended him. Iโ€™ve met only a handful of people as humble and gracious as he was.

Grandaddy was also a father to the fatherless. Watching the relationship he and my mama shared, and seeing him step in as a father figure in countless other situations, has been absolutely beautiful to observe. Throughout my entire life, he has always helped others.

He loved babies and children. Whenever he found out I was in labor with my firstborn, Oliver, he came up to the hospital fairly quickly and stayed there until we were settled into a room. He was so excited about the generations continuing to go forth in the family. Growing up, I can remember that each time one of my siblings would arrive, he would always come up to the hospital to meet the new little one. Babies were always so calm and collected with him- I think they knew they were well-loved and safe in his arms. Some of my very favorite photos we have of him were taken of him holding his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

I can remember calling him when my husband and I had the date finalized for our wedding, to let him know what time we were holding it and what the dress code would be. We had a casual, backyard wedding, so when I told him the dress would be casual, I remember him saying that he approved greatly- it would be a nice, comfortable wedding! I couldnโ€™t stop giggling when I got off the phone.

He has always come to every event, every milestone, every graduation, every choir performanceโ€ฆif we were on TV, he was watching and recording it. He made it very clear that he was proud of us and loved being a part of our lives.

He always got the softest, sweetest look in his eyes when he would talk about Grandma. You could tell that even many years later, she still had his heart. He remained faithful to her and her memory for all of his days. Their marriage was a beautiful example of lovers and best friends. Looking back through the old pictures of them over this past week has made my heart smile so big. When he talked about passing from this life into the next, he spoke so much of going to be back with his Jeannie again. He loved her so very much. Watching that love play out over the years,has been absolutely beautiful.

As I think back over the years that Iโ€™ve been able to spend getting to know him, I know I am truly blessed. I know that his legacy will continue to live on through his family. I am thankful for all of the memories I have of him- I will treasure them close forever. Iโ€™m so, so very thankful for the extra time I got to spend with him as he passed on from this world into heaven. Even though the circumstances were not what I would have wished, God was so very gracious in giving me the time.

I love you, Grandaddy.

{it’s been a while}

I’ve felt the urge to come and write here once more so many times over the last few weeks, but when I would sit down to actually start, the words would fail to pour from my fingers. Sometimes, it takes a while for me to be able to put into order everything that has happened. In the case of our lives, there have been so many major life changes that I hardly know where to begin.

It has been a year of life, loss, and new beginnings. That is for certain. Rather than try to cram everything into one post, I’m going to slowly start catching things up with several different posts.

{the hands of my beloved}

This afternoon, I’m finding myself particularly thankful for the hard-working hands of my beloved, and the way he uses them to care for myself and our son.

He was recently asked to work on a couple of furniture projects for some friends of ours. Ready-made plans didn’t exist for either project, so he’s been designing these builds from scratch.

After several delays, he was able to start the actual making this past Saturday, and I asked if I might capture some of the process.

He is so careful with each detail- he puts time into meticulous measuring, and painstaking attention is paid to every angle so that the final product will turn out the way it ought.

I love watching him work.

His traits of being cautious and careful carries over in the way he tenderly looks after myself and our tiny son.

He uses those hardworking hands through very long days to provide for our needs and to work towards our dreams, and then uses those same hands to find mine while he prays over our dinner each night. It is such a blessing to go before our Father above with hearts in unison and hands tightly clasped; together in this as with the rest of our lives.

It brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it.

We are quickly approaching our season of “anniversaries”….the anniversary of the first message he sent my way, the anniversary of my “ultimatum” email, the anniversary of me opening the door to him standing on my daddy’s porch with a big smile for us to meet in person for the very first time….this is a special season of the year for us. It is incredible to think that there was a time before our lives were entwined together. God is so good, and so faithful to us. I am so very thankful for all of the answered prayers that came to me in Daniel. He is truly so much more than I ever could have even hoped for in a spouse. <3

{simple joys}

“All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

The clock of life seems to be ticking ever faster these days. One day flows into the next, and I’m never sure of just how life flies by with more expediency as each moment passes.

I’m watching my tiny son grow up. Though he is but a little babe; a man-child now, already I see the stirrings of the grown man he will be one day. The firm set of his brow when he is deep in thought, and the determination he is using to become more independent and mobile. The days are long, but the years are short, and I know it will be but a brief time he will be in my home with me before he flies our nest and builds one of his own.

I’m thankful for this season of rest the Lord has provided for me. Through the hard work of my husband, I am able to stay here and feather our nest and care for our little boy. It has been a welcome reprieve from the craziness of working, and balancing night shift and other life changes. God knows what we need when we need it.

I find myself admiring the beauty in the simplest of things…

The way the silverware looks in the drawer all clean and shiny.

The way the sunshine streams in through the front door in the afternoons.

The fresh smell of Oliver’s laundry all washed and ready to be folded and put away.

The way the banana muffins look as they come out of the oven…hot and gooey with chocolate-y goodness.

I’m thankful for how God continues to reveal Himself as we’ve been praying through some major life decisions. We’ve got our laundry list of things that we are hoping to accomplish and work towards, and at the end of the day, God is faithful. He continually leads us right where we are to go, and firmly shuts doors that we are not meant to walk through.

I’m so thankful for our simple, and joy-filled, quiet life. Life is such a precious gift- may I never take even one minute for granted.

{a few postpartum helps}

Hello friends! I wanted to quickly take a minute to blog a little about some things that I have found indispensable during the postpartum recovery time, while it’s still somewhat fresh in my mind. ๐Ÿ™‚ I realize that this is the first baby I have brought home, but I do think that these suggestions might be helpful to other moms, as they were a huge blessing and help to me! ๐Ÿ˜€

Freezer meals! One of the things that was immensely helpful to me was having some meals put away in the freezer for the time after Daniel went back to work. We were blessed and were able to have him home for several days due to changes going on at his job, in conjunction with holiday off time and vacation days, but even so, I was so, so thankful for those meals in the freezer!! I put away as many as I could, and then my sweet mama delivered several others. It was so nice to not have to worry about what we were going to eat while I was still working on getting back on my feet! There were also some wonderful friends of ours who delivered meals and even sandwich fixings after we got home from the hospital. That was such a HUGE blessing!

If you tore at all during delivery, the Earth Mama Herbal Perineal spray was so wonderful! I was alternating using it and spray Dermoplast. I felt like the tear was healing much faster than what I was told to expect from my doctor’s office, and I think this spray is really what made the difference.

After things settled down and we were ready to start going back to church, I realized that none of my church clothes fit at all. They were all either maternity and too big, or pre-maternity and too small. I found these dresses on Amazon, and for the most part, they have been AMAZING and not terribly expensive.

I ordered this black one:

I also ordered this burgundy one:

And this blue one:

The black one and the burgundy one have been great, but the blue one, while comfortable, developed fuzzballs on it really easily, and I’d only worn it three times. I’m going to get a clothes shaver and see if that helps, but that was disappointing. I’ve worn the black one and the burgundy one several times, and they both seem to be holding up really well. They have been awesome for nursing and have been very forgiving of my post-pregnancy shape.

My mom found this awesome Epsom salt rub at Walmart several months ago, and it became a lifesaver for my backaches while I was pregnant. After I had the baby, it still felt so good rubbed into my back. It also was the most effective thing I used to treat the dreaded “h’s” that showed up after pushing for so many hours. That isn’t what is was labeled for, but I found where someone had tried that in the Amazon reviews and decided to try it myself. LIFE CHANGER, folks.

I also realized a few weeks after bringing our little guy home that I was dealing with some baby blues. Mom suggested increasing my vitamin D consumption, so I did that and noticed a huge difference within just a few days. If it had been more sunny outside during that time, I would have also been soaking up as much sunshine as possible.

After the 6 week mark, it was time to start working in some exercise routines. We’ve been using Dr. Oz.s 7 minute workout here, and I’ve been alternating a few of Leslie Sansone’s 1 Mile Walk-At-Home videos (also on YouTube) as well. I realized when pushing that I had very little upper-arm strength, and I’m also trying to work on getting rid of some of those extra pounds I put on during the pregnancy. I haven’t lost a whole lot of weight thus far, but I can definitely see some muscle definition and toning making an appearance, and that makes me really happy. ๐Ÿ™‚

The other thing that was really helpful was transitioning Oliver onto as much of a consistent sleep routine as I could. We follow the EASY baby schedule as much as possible, and it’s truly been awesome! He actually prefers to sleep in his bed, and throws the biggest fit if we’re out-and-about and it’s naptime. ๐Ÿ˜€ He sleeps in his bed overnight, and he usually wakes up when we are getting Daniel out the door for work, so I feed him and put him in bed next to me for morning snuggle time before we start the day. He loves his routine! I know that we’re rapidly approaching that 4 month sleep regression time, but I’m sure enjoying the good rest we are getting right now!

I sincerely hope some of this will be of help to you. Many blessings on this rainy spring day!
~Mrs SuperShevy

{grove collaborative and ebates}

Good afternoon, my friends!

I don’t normally do posts like this, but I wanted to share because it made me really excited. ๐Ÿ˜€

Now that I am home full time (or most of the time, anyway- I am still teaching and tuning piano ๐Ÿ™‚ ), I’ve had more time to dedicate to figuring out how to best use our home budget money. We are in the process of saving to purchase a home, so I’m wanting to stretch our pennies as far as I can.

I kept seeing people post about their Grove Collaborative welcome orders, and I decided to give it a try. However, I wanted to see what exactly I could put in my order to make it have the best bang for the bucks.

First, I installed the ebates browser extension. I signed up several months ago and have had great success getting money back with our amazon and ebay purchases. If you decide to sign up, please use my link! ๐Ÿ˜€

Next, I went to Grove Collaborative to place the order. This made my ebates browser extension pop up to let me know that an order through them would give me $2.00 cash back. (Score!)

Grove Collaborative has an order minimum of $20 that you have to spend in order to receive the free cleaning supplies. You enter your email address on this page, and it automatically adds the free items to your cart. It also adds several other products to your cart to make up the $20 difference. I didn’t really want some of the items that it added, so I deleted them and began to scour the site for other options. I also joined the VIP free trial so that shipping would be free as well.

Here is what my order ended up looking like:

And here is where $2.00 was credited to my ebates account:

So, that made my total $20.38 for all of the following:

So far, I’m using the cleaning caddy to hold washcloths in our bathroom, and it’s doing great for that. The only Mrs. Meyers scent out of these that I did not like at all was the Lemon Verbena. To me, it smells like bug spray. ๐Ÿ˜› Live and learn. The sad thing is that I ordered dish soap, all purpose spray and hand soap in that scent because I was expecting a fresh, citrus scent. Oh well. I have absolutely LOVED the hand towels. I’m actually planning on ordering several more because they are so absorbent and do a fantastic job! I have not yet tried the glass cleaner concentrate.

All in all, for $20, I am VERY pleased with how many items I was able to get.  PRO TIP: Some of the Mrs Meyers scents are priced more expensively than others. I went with the ones that were a dollar or so less than the others and as a result, was able to get an additional bottle just from the savings.

Let me know if you do it, and what you decided to get! ๐Ÿ™‚ Have a blessed afternoon, friends!

~Mrs SuperShevy

{bath time for baby}

We’re beginning to fall into a routine here at our little house in the valley, and I never want to forget these sweet moments as my little baby is growing by the day. I’m trying to do better about documenting even the tiniest things, so that we can look back one day and remember what life was like “way back when”. Here’s a glimpse of Ollie’s bath time in black and white. <3







I so love this simple life we live. <3

{the story of the arrival of Oliver Lewis}

It is hard to believe that our sweet little man has been here already for four weeks. It seems as if he has been a part of our family forever!

My pregnancy with him was a journey of growing and stretching, both physically and emotionally/spiritually. There were so many days when I wondered if I could possibly go one more day, because I was so physically tired. It was not an easy pregnancy, and yet I found myself so thankful for each day. When you are pregnant after previously experiencing the loss of a little one, you don’t take pregnancy for granted. This is something that I didn’t realize the depth of until I experienced it for myself.

I still giggle a bit when I think about when I found out he was on the way. I was feeling a little bit “off”- just tired, mainly, and emotionally struggling a bit. Based on some issues I was having, Daniel told me he thought I might be pregnant again, but I really didn’t think that was possible. After having lost our first in December, and then recovering from mono, strep, and multiple other issues, my body seemed to be taking a while to fully heal up. About a week after he told me that, I went out to lunch with my mom and was telling her about some of the issues I was having, and she asked if it was possible that I might be pregnant. I told her I didn’t think so. ๐Ÿ™‚ Famous last words…y’all, if your husband and your mom tell you that you might be pregnant, don’t be stubborn like I was and think that it isn’t possible. ๐Ÿ™‚

I was scared to even think about the possibility of being pregnant again. I was scared of losing another baby- I already loved the first one so much. Losing it broke me in so many ways. I think I was in denial that there was a possibility that I could even get pregnant again. This is one of those places where I realized that I was not trusting that the Lord was sovereign even over this, and that He knew the desire of my heart to have children of our own.

Two days later, I was curious and just decided to take a pregnancy test. I was shocked when it came back positive…I remember just sitting and crying in wonderment and amazement that the Lord was allowing another opportunity to be a mama.

I texted a photo of the test to Daniel, who was at work, along with the caption that I might should listen to him more often. ๐Ÿ™‚ When he got home, he held me and prayed over the baby and I and over the months to come.

The next day, I took another test and the line was even darker….at this point, we went ahead and shared the news with my parents so that they too could be praying over the pregnancy. I found myself once again so excited and yet so scared. It was so hard to wait and just see what would happen. To the best that I could tell, I figure I was around 3 weeks pregnant at this point.

The first milestone that I wanted to reach was 8 weeks, as that was the week I lost the first one.

Every day that went by with no issues was just such a miracle to me.

Around 4 weeks, I began to have some bleeding during church. It was so much…I got home and just started sobbing. I remember telling Daniel that I didn’t know what was wrong with me and why my body kept failing at being able to carry a child…I felt so broken. My parents came and brought us dinner that night and just comforted both of us. I was such a mess. I kept waiting on the bleeding to escalate more, like it did when I began losing the first one, but instead, by the next day, it had stopped.

This was new and different. I texted my mom and asked her “wasn’t miscarriage bleeding supposed to last more than a day??”. She told me to call my doctor and see if they could get me in for a blood draw. I remember feeling like God was telling me to just rest and be at peace….I felt like I could literally feel Him asking in my heart “Do you trust me?” over and over and over…this was one of the hardest struggles I had ever experienced in just giving a situation over to God.

They were able to get me in, and I had blood drawn at the appointment because it was too early for an ultrasound. The hormone level results came back super-high and perfect for a viable pregnancy. I went back a few days later for a repeat draw, and they were doubling and doing exactly what they were supposed to do. I was in complete shock…and still very much pregnant!

The nausea decided to kick in that week as well, which was awful to deal with, but a reassurance to me that hormones were rising and doing what they needed to. It made for a little fun managing that and working at the vet clinic, but eventually, I found a groove and it got a bit easier.

Around 5-1/2 weeks, I was able to go in and get an ultrasound done. This ultrasound showed where there was a gestational sac, a yolk sac, and a hematoma/sub-chorionic hemorrhageโ€ฆ that hemorrhage is what was causing the bleeding earlier!! I was so thankful for an answer as to what the bleeding was from. My doctor reassured us that everything looked great for where I was in the pregnancy, and that I would have a follow-up visit in two weeks to see how things were measuring then.

Because I didn’t see an actual baby on the ultrasound at this appointment, I was cautiously optimistic but also scared about what the next appointment would hold. I was scared of seeing no baby, or finding out something was horribly wrong. This was yet another time where I needed to stop and trust God. I can remember Daniel and my parents were all being very encouraging and praying for me as we got closer to the appointment. I also had told a few of my siblings, and some close friends who were praying and sending me the sweetest messages while I was awaiting this next step.

Appointment day arrived (about 7-1/2 weeks), and my doctor was running behind, so we sat in the waiting room longer that expected. My mom was with me for this appointment, and we ended up running into some acquaintances of ours, who were also waiting to see the doctor. We sat and talked with them for a long time, and they shared the story of their own previous loss before they were expecting that baby, and how the Lord had used it in their lives. It was such an unexpected means of encouragement. I was blown away by how God weaves stories together, and brings people in and out of our lives… it’s a beautiful tapestry, and yet all we can see at times are the threads.

They were called back, and then I was called back about 10 minutes later. My doctor did an ultrasound, and I got to see my precious baby and hear his heartbeat. Friend, I cried. I still cry every time I watch the clip and get to hear that sound. I was overwhelmed with God’s goodness… my baby was living. He was growing (actually measuring ahead of his dates), he was healthy, the hematoma was nowhere in sight and there was a healthy and perfect heartbeat.

After that appointment, I was feeling a little more comfortable with how things were going. I started to purchase some baby things and put them away for his arrival. The nausea got even worse, and then the vericose veins made their appearance. I’m so thankful that I didn’t have any big issues with my blood pressure- other than a few stress-related incidents, it was perfect through the entire pregnancy.

I’m also so thankful that I was working the night shift at the vet clinic during this time, because I couldn’t do mornings very well at all because of the nausea. As the day progressed, it would get slightly better, but I was having a hard time even functioning in the mornings. The vericose veins were awful. I did finally purchase some compression socks and that made life so much better. I could tell within an hour if I had neglected to put them on first thing in the day! ๐Ÿ™‚

The next appointment (around 12 weeks) was picture-perfect as well- Daniel got to go with me this time and see the little guy… and by the way, by this time, we felt positive that Oliver was indeed a boy. While we already had a boy name and a girl name picked out, we just KNEW it was a boy, and had been referring to him as “he”, “him”, “Oliver”, “Ollie”, etc.

About this time, I was beginning to show and was collecting maternity clothes to add to my stash. ๐Ÿ˜€ I had been taking weekly “bumpies” to show the belly progression. When I uploaded these photos to Facebook later, I called the album “As The Bump Grows”. ๐Ÿ˜€

We got to find out that he was definitely a HE at 18 weeks. The ultrasound tech asked us if we wanted to find out, and Daniel and I both answered a very strong “yes!”, and then giggled when she said it was a boy. It’s still funny to me that we “knew” from so early on. We chose this time to publicly announce online, and were so blessed by the outpouring of love and support and prayers from folks all over the world. Y’all know who you are- thank you, again, for all that was done. <3

I am still amazed at the fact that he fit so snuggly in my tummy….when I was preparing to quit my job, most folks didn’t realize I was as far along as I was, because my scrubs did a pretty good job about hiding it until the last couple of weeks that I was there.

At exactly 36 weeks, my family hosted the sweetest baby shower/family meal to welcome little Ollie. My mom, aunt, sister-in-law and other family members worked really hard to put everything together, and it was absolutely adorable!!

I was able to use several of the decorations in his nursery, which I had been working on slowly over several weeks. I am so thankful for one particular afternoon when my mom and sister Emma came over to help fold baby clothes and get everything in it’s place…time was ticking down!

I was so “done” with being pregnant by the time I had reached 33-34 weeks or so. I felt huge, and my legs were aching all the time from the vericose veins, and I still had pretty constant nausea. Oliver also broke my rib around 28 weeks, and it was making me feel absolutely miserable whenever he would push on it. I can remember thinking that it felt like I was going to be pregnant forever! I was a little shocked when I was told that I was actually making progress towards dilation/effacement…. and at my last appointment (12/17/2018) before he was born, I was told that I was at 3cm dilated, and my doctor told me that she would be surprised if I didn’t have the baby within the next two weeks! I went ahead and made my next appointment for 12/27/18, but I was really hoping that I would have the baby before then.

I was actually praying that Oliver would arrive around Christmas. If he did, we knew that we could stack Daniel’s holiday days off and his vacation days, and we would have several days just to settle in and start getting used to our new normal. We also found out that Daniel was finally getting moved to dayshift at his work- something we had been praying for over several months.

We went to church when I was 39 weeks on the nose, and they gave us stacks of presents for little Ollie…I’m still amazed when I think about how loved this little guy was even before he arrived!! I sat in my living room floor going through everything and starting crying again. It truly was amazing to me.

That same Sunday, I asked our pastor and his wife that day to be praying about Oliver’s arrival, and shared that it would be amazing if Ollie could be born around Christmas. And this, folks, is where I want to emphasize that God’s timing is perfect. It is amazing to me at how He works out the smallest details and puts everything in place in the exact way that it needs to be.

Christmas Eve arrived, and we got together with the family for our annual Christmas Eve special dinner. We had so much fun getting to visit with everyone, and though I was feeling really big, I actually was feeling pretty great and enjoyed the time so much. I was slightly disappointed that Oliver hadn’t come yet, and I had no indication that he was on the way just yet, but I was determined to enjoy Christmas and was so loving the time with my family and with Daniel, because we never seem to get enough of it nowadays with work and just life. ๐Ÿ™‚ On Christmas Day, Daniel and I actually drove out to Georgia to pick up a welder that he had found on Facebook marketplace. We went ahead and put all of our hospital bags and the baby’s bag in the car for “just in case”. I was having some minor contractions, but nothing more than I had been having for the last week or so, and I didn’t think too much of it.

That night, we got home, ate pizza, and went to bed early because we were tired. I had been timing some of the contractions before I went to bed that evening, and they didn’t seem to be terribly regular, but were definitely more intense than before. They were averaging about 8 minutes apart and were lasting almost two minutes. I had been getting a bit of bloody show as well, but I had been slowly losing my mucous plug over the week before, so again, I wasn’t thinking too much of it.

I woke up around 3 the next morning (12/26/18), having harder contractions, and I felt like I had lost some fluid. Sure enough, as I started walking to the bathroom, I realized I was losing the tiniest bit of fluid. I immediately googled about if your water can break slowly, because I always thought there would be a big gush. I woke Daniel up and told him that I thought my water had broken and I was keeping an eye on it and my contractions, but he doesn’t remember that at all. ๐Ÿ˜€ I was beginning to have harder contractions now, and I decided to just go to bed and try to sleep as long as I could before they got too bad. I wanted to labor at home as long as I could before going in to the hospital.

I was able to catnap for about 20 minutes or so, but then the contractions started getting closer and hurting more. I also could not stop trembling. Daniel woke up at the point that I started trembling, and asked if I was okay. I told him that I thought we might be actually having a baby today, and he immediately got up and started making sure that our stuff was together and made us a cup of coffee. I am so thankful for his careful care of me, and his attention to all the little details to make sure that we would be able to get there without incident. <3 I went ahead and got up, got dressed, and starting timing contractions again. At the point that they were averaging about 1-1/2 minutes apart, I texted my mom to let her know that it was time, and called my doctor to see when they wanted me to come on in. They asked questions about how much fluid I was still losing, and how far the contractions were apart, and then said it was definitely time for me to come on. By this point, I was getting really emotional. I just wanted to sit and cry, even though I wasn't in an extreme amount of pain yet. I told Daniel and texted my mom that I thought I had to be around 6cm or so, because I remember from taking childbirth class that you reach a really emotional stage of labor around 6-8cm. Daniel and I got the last few things in the car, and we were on our way! The most beautiful sunrise was happening at the same time...we were getting to watch the sun come up as we made our way to the hospital, which was really special. Something that had brought us together during our courtship was a shared love of photographing sunrises and sunsets...being able to watch a sunrise while we were on the way to birth our child is something special that I will always remember about Oliver's birth.

I could tell that the intensity of the contractions were really picking up when we were about 30 minutes away. By this point, it was close to 7 in the morning. When we arrived at the hospital, I had every intention of walking in to be admitted, but as soon as I stood up out of the car, I felt the “gush” of my water breaking for sure. Daniel went in and brought me out a wheelchair so that I wouldn’t be leaking fluid all over the place trying to get in and settled.

Fortunately, my mom and doctor’s office had encouraged me to pre-register, so I basically had to sign in and they got me right back. A triage nurse and the rounding hospital OB came by to check me, and they told me I was at 100% effacement, 0 station, and 6, almost 7cm dilated! I was amazed and so thankful.

At this point, it was time to settle in and let labor do it’s work. While I don’t have anything against medical help for delivering babies, I really wanted to see if I could labor and then deliver Oliver with as little help as possible. It was more for curiousity’s sake, and I figured since I was at a hospital anyway, I’d be able to get additional help if it was needed.

The hospital that I used is in the process of trying to better equip women to have more natural births and labor if that is what they are wanting to do. Once they settled us into a labor and delivery room, we were assigned two nurses and a nurse practitioner who’s only job is to be a labor coach and doula! This was a huge change from the way it was when my mom had my younger siblings there. I knew that I wanted Daniel and my mom with me for the delivery and as much of the labor as possible, so I was able to have the comfort of knowing my husband was right there with me, the comfort and childbirth knowledge/help from my mom, and then we also had the benefit of a doula as well- something I had not planned on nor even knew was possible at the hospital!

I labored naturally until around 10:00am or so that morning, and they checked me every so often to make sure I was progressing well. They actually had went ahead and turned on the baby heater over the baby bed, because by this time, I was at 9-1/2cm and they were anticipating that the baby was going to be arriving very soon.

The contractions were coming so quickly and were so painful by this point. I felt like I literally could not get on top of the pain of the last one before the next one started. The doula was really good to coach me through the breathing and that helped a lot, but there were so many times when the contractions hurt so badly that I can remember saying “I can’t do this….I don’t know how I’m going to be able to get through this!” My mom would tell me that I was doing it, that I was getting through it, and would remind me that I was so close to meeting little Ollie… and then my husband was literally physically supporting me while I was attempting to walk through some of those contractions…he was holding my hand while I was sitting on the birthing ball in the shower trying to breath through contractions…seeing the love and pain in his eyes while I was trying to get through the hardest contractions is a look I will never forget. I know that if he could have taken that pain for me, he would have without even thinking twice. I love him so much.

By the time I had been sitting at 9-1/2cm for hours (I think it was about 12pm at this point), there were serious concerns about the way the baby was positioned. He was definitely head-down, but they were thinking he might be turned the wrong way around, and they were also concerned that I was going to be too exhausted to deliver him. I was so tired, and hurting so badly… I was emotionally a wreck and just wanted a rest, but was not getting it with the contractions still coming ever closer. They asked if I would be comfortable going ahead and getting an epidural at this point. I discussed it with Daniel and Mama to make sure that I was thinking through the decision clearly, and decided that I definitely wanted to go ahead and have that done.

Within 20 minutes, the anesthesiologist came in and got everything set up, and about 20 minutes after that, I was feeling so much better and was able to rest some. They let me take a couple of hours just to labor and see if he would move down a little more, and shortly after lunchtime, they checked me and I was at 10cm! Hearing that I was at 10cm made me cry again. I was so thankful to hear that I had progressed to the point of actually being able to deliver Oliver. I had begun to wonder if I was going to end up with a c-section.

I’m not sure what time I began pushing, because everything started to seem a bit surreal. I do know that they started a slow Pitocin drip to help the contractions be a little more effective. I remember the nurse asking me if I was ready to start pushing. I almost laughed because I asked her if I was still contracting…yeah, that epidural did a really good job. Almost too good, because I was having a really hard time feeling things enough to push! She assured me that I was, and Oliver was beginning to crown.

I remember Mama saying that she could see his head, and I was able to reach down and rub his little head….and started crying again. He was coming….he was coming, and we were finally about to meet him. I was pushing for about an hour. At the point that Oliver’s head started crowning, they called the doctor, and when he made it to my room and had his delivery scrubs on, they gave me the go-ahead to push again. I heard them say that Oliver’s head was out….a little more pushing and he was crying and his entire body was out! I had a second-degree tear, but am fortunate that it was not worse. As it turns out, his head was tilted sideways in the birth canal, so the contractions were not able to effectively move him down enough to let me progress past 9-1/2cm nor were the contractions thinning the last “lip” of my cervix, which is why the labor lasted much longer than the birthing team thought it would.

Little Oliver Lewis Shevchenko was officially born at 4:21pm on December 26th, 2018. He was 7 pounds, 11 ounces, and 21.5 inches long. <3 Once he was born, they rubbed him down a bit and sat him on my chest while I was being stitched up. He was so cute and so perfect...the first thing I noticed was that he had his daddy's ears. <3 The next thing I noticed was his big hands...he had little man hands!! And his legs were so long... <3 I was in love from first sight. (thank you to Mama for taking the photos!)

Once they made sure that I was steady after the epidural had worn off, they got Oliver all bundled up and we were able to be moved to a regular room.

Among his first visitors were my mom, dad, grandfather, and brother, Jacob! (Mom took all of these pictures, so I don’t have one with her and Oliver at the hospital).

The next couple of days were a bit of a blur…we were getting into the swing of breastfeeding, trying to get stuff wrapped up at the hospital, and visiting with the folks who came to see us.

The hospital did deliver us the sweetest little birthday cake and box to celebrate!! It was so cute!!

On December 28th, it was finally time to get ready and go home for the first time as a family.

Before we even left the parking spot, Daniel prayed over us, and over Oliver, and over all that we would be doing now as a family. I was crying, he was crying….it was so sweet and just a precious time. <3

Life is more settled now. We’re falling into more of a routine. I’ve been working on getting his sleep schedule sorted out so that he’s a little more content.

Daniel still swaddles him much better than I do!

It’s been fun watching him do more baby things instead of newborn things…he’s spending a lot more time looking around and taking things in. His eyes get so big when he sees something that fascinates him!

He’s also gaining weight like a champ…he had gained back all the weight he lost from birth within 2-3 days, and then he gained an additional 2 pounds in the last couple of weeks. I can’t wait to hear what he’s up to when we go back to the pediatrician next week for his next well visit!

He’s definitely growing so quickly.

He has been an absolutely precious addition to our family. I am so thankful that the Lord saw fit to give him to us. <3

{peace, be still}

We are entering a slower time here in my sunny south. The weather is gently changing to cooler nights and brisk days. Leaves are spiraling down from the trees in the perfect dance between them and the breeze…I love autumn.

I love the slower pace. I love seeing a tangible reminder of the old things being stripped away in preparation for the new growth to come.

It is a season of changing and remembering; of thankfulness. Of remembering that even in the storms of life, we are to just be still…. peace, be still. It is a reminder to rest in the promises of our Father above to sustain us, to hold us, and to set us exactly where we need to go- it’s beautiful.

Just as the weather is shifting, I too am in a season of growing…of changing. Each and every day brings my husband and I closer to the arrival date of our precious son. I’m feeling my body be stretched to limits I didn’t realize it had. Even in the midst of being in pain for various reasons, or being so sick to my stomach that I wonder if I will ever enjoy food again, every day I carry little Oliver is a blessing, even when I feel like I can’t possibly go any further. After having experienced a loss and then having some really scary moments earlier on with this pregnancy, I am so much more aware of what a gift it is to be carrying a child that is doing well, growing, and seems to be flourishing. Every time I feel him kick or have the hiccups, I am reminded of the Lord’s tender mercies in knitting him together in my womb. I am praying that just as my body is growing and stretching to accommodate my growing boy, the Lord is growing my heart into what it needs to be so that my actions and words will always point back to Christ, especially as this new endeavor of motherhood becomes one of my greatest life works.

I’m watching my husband transform into such a wonderful daddy- he cares for me so tenderly, and prays over me and our growing son every single day. Watching him assemble the baby crib this past week made me want to sit and cry with thankfulness over the Lord’s goodness in bringing us together. Our discussions very much revolve now around what would be best for all three of us, whether it be short-term or long-term goals, or even just day-to-day decision making about what we will eat or what we want to work on around the house.

Even as the storms of life seem to rage and roar around us, I am thankful that the Lord provides peace and rest in Him. I am thankful that in this season, He has provided dear friends and wonderful opportunities for growth. I am thankful that even though I am ready to reach the finish line with this pregnancy, He is there- ever constant, ever faithful…ever reminding me through His wondrous works that I simply need to faithfully walk this race He has set me on…faithfully follow Him wherever He leads…and to be still and quiet as I rest in His goodness and mercy to me. Peace, be still….

We have some catching up to do…

I’ve sorely neglected my blog over the past few months. Life has just been extra crazy and finding time to write is often-times few and far between. I figure I’ll just start from where I left off, and blog around the pictures as I find them.

December brought lots of health challenges. God is so faithful, and He continued to show His hand at work through the good, and the bad. We are so thankful that each and *every* His mercies are renewed. Great is His faithfulness. <3

December 1st was the Christmas parade in Centreville. This is always a lot of fun for us and a highlight of the Christmas season for my family! This year, Daniel got to join in for the first time, and that was especially wonderful as well. ๐Ÿ˜€

Setting everything up:

Darby was a little Christmas elf! <3

Parade lights through the fog:

One of the things that I love about the Centreville parade is that they always take the parade route up right in front of the nursing home, and they bring the residents outside and bundle them in blankets so that they can see the parade. It brings tears to my eyes every single time. <3

 

Next up was my birthday- my very first since getting married! The first week of December had been a particularly difficult one for me for many reasons. I actually told my mama that I just wanted to forget about my birthday and move on for the year…I’m so glad my mom and husband knew better. ๐Ÿ™‚

 

Mama and I went out for breakfast, and she brought me birthday ice cream! I so enjoyed getting to spend the time with her for a little bit.

Daniel took me out for dinner and then for a fun evening of bowling! My birthday fell on a Tuesday, so that meant $2 bowling games and $2 shoe rental! Perfect timing, that deal was. ๐Ÿ˜€

All in all, I am so thankful that the Lord chose to allow me to see another birthday. He is so merciful and good to me in all ways. <3

Next up was the first snowfall we have experienced together!

Isn’t he just the cutest thing ever? I love him so much. <3

I absolutely loved seeing everything bathed in white…we don’t get snow very often in Alabama, but when we do, we sure do love seeing how beautiful everything is covered in snow.

We began attending a new church a few weeks after getting married. It just became very obvious that the Lord was moving us on from the church we had been attending. So, we visited a couple of different places, but ended up settling down in the sweetest little church that is quite close to us. One of the things we love about this church is their heart for reaching the community for Christ. A week or so before Christmas found us passing out candy and tracts to the local community at another Christmas parade.

Afterwards, we went and looked at the Christmas trees on the Tinsel Trail at the West Blocton Coke Ovens park. Everyone did such a great job with their trees!

It was also high-time for us to get our Christmas decorations up. Daniel had the coolest idea for the Christmas tree….

We are STILL having folks come and make comments about how cool that tree was! I’m so thankful for my imaginative guy…he makes life so much fun. ๐Ÿ™‚

Some shots of the inside:

The sibling gifts were my idea…these were just too good not to do. ๐Ÿ˜€

And Daniel made this Christmas card holder for me!

These Christmas cards have a really special meaning to me. It’s a very tangible display of how the Lord shows us love in amazing ways… I had told Daniel I didn’t think we would get very many Christmas cards this year, because we were newly married and most folks don’t have our address. Christmas cards have always been one of my favorite things to look at and send around the holidays. The next day, I found out from a friend at church that we had been added to the Christmas card list at church, and she brought me a huge stack of cards from the Christmas card mailbox there addressed to us! I am continually amazed at how the Lord works in our lives, in both big and small ways. <3

We had our big family Christmas get-together on Christmas Eve…we ate entirely too much and laughed and cut up and exchanged gifts and just enjoyed the time together. This year was super-special- Daniel’s first Christmas with us! ๐Ÿ™‚

On Christmas Day, Daniel said that we ought to go and drive somewhere and do something…so we did. ๐Ÿ™‚

Mobile was absolutely beautiful, and COLD!! ๐Ÿ™‚

That about does it for our 2017 adventures…. stay tuned for how we started 2018 with our trip across the country to see Route 66, the Pacific ocean, and to find some sunshine!! ๐Ÿ™‚