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February 8, 2015

Love Ya, Mean It Printable Valentine + Envelope

Everyone loves getting a little snail mail around February 14th -- whether it's from a friend, your mama or a special someone! Below are three templates to make your own "Love ya" cards and envelopes. I hope they encourage y'all to spread a little love through the postal service this Valentine's Day!

Download the notecard template [HERE]

Download the envelope how-to template [HERE], and the envelope template with a heart [HERE]

Happy Valentines' Day, love bugs! xo -- Natty

And don't forget the "Olive you" printable card + envelope, too! Post and downloads [HERE].

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Artwork by Natalie Kilgore of Natty Michelle Paperie

For personal use only. Not to be sold or used commercially 
without written permission from Natalie Kilgore (c) 2015

January 31, 2015

Archie's Birth Story

After almost two months writing notes and jotting down memories from Archie's birthday, I've finally written his birth story in its entirety! It got a little dicey there for a second, but as most of you know, this story has a happy ending.

Like many women, December 8th (my due date), came and went with no action. While I wasn't surprised, I was starting to feel anxious. At 38 weeks my doctor ordered an ultrasound to estimate Archie's size, and the ultrasound technician told me that by her calculations, he was about 8 pounds, 13 ounces. I let that sink in. That's bigger than many babies are at 40 weeks! Was my baby going to be huge if I waited 2 more weeks to give birth?! James and I both come from families full of big babies -- a few over 10 pounds -- so my gut told me that I could be in for a whopper if I had to wait until 40 weeks to meet Archie. My doctor seemed to think everything was ok, though, and strongly suggested we let nature take its course. I agreed. After all, the ultrasound was just an educated guess. So we waited. 

For the last half of my pregnancy, my belly was pretty big huge. I never dilated more than 1 cm, which isn't necessarily unusual, but Archie never dropped, either, which wasn't a great sign at such a late stage in my pregnancy. So when my due date came and went, I was starting to wonder if Archie was ever going to make his way out naturally. I'd always intended to labor, (albeit with drugs, thankyouverymuch!), so by December 11th, 3 days past my due date, my doctor said she'd like me to check in to the hospital to start putting things in motion with a little help. James and I took one last photo before leaving home -- in the next day or two we were finally going to meet our baby! I was equal parts nervous and excited. Things were happening!

James and I checked into the hospital that night around 6:30. We were ushered to our room, where I was told to get comfortable so the nurse could administer a drug called Cervidil to help me dilate a little more, preparing my body for labor. I tucked myself into the hospital bed, and James pulled up the easy chair next to me and turned on the TV. We waited for the nurse....and waited some more. Finally the nurse came in to apologize for the wait -- there were 3 women with sets of twins on the floor that night, so things were a little busy! After I was hooked up to my monitor and an IV, I was given the drug a little before 10 pm. James and I watched the monitor as I started having contractions -- which was interesting to me because they were so slight I couldn't really feel anything yet. I felt a tightening in my abdomen every so often, but no pain. James and I watched TV and relaxed. The nurse told us we could turn in for the night at any time -- the drug would hopefully work its magic as the night progressed, and I would be able to get some sleep.

My view from the hospital bed!

About an hour or so after the drug was administered to me, my nurse rushed in and checked the monitor and asked how I was feeling -- she was obviously alarmed, which of course in turn alarmed me as well. I said I was feeling fine, just as two more nurses rushed in -- one rotating me on my side, another putting an oxygen mask over my mouth and nose. My nurse told me that Archie's heart rate had dropped without explanation, so she was going to take the Cervidil out. My heart sunk and I immediately agreed that it should come out -- hopefully it was the source of the problem and his heart rate would return to normal. It was removed, and the nurses all watched the monitor, one of them paging my doctor. I tried not to cry or show how terrified I was on the outside, but one look at James and I lost it. He assured me that everything was going to be ok. It seemed like an eternity while the nurses moved me on either side, listening to the baby's heart beat and watching the monitor -- two things I couldn't do due to my positioning and the noisiness of the oxygen. I could see the concern on the nurses' faces. I thought, surely after all this time trying for a baby and after a healthy pregnancy, nothing bad would happen to Archie. It couldn't. 

After several minutes of me lying on my side, Archie's heart rate climbed out of the "low" territory, but my doctor said it still wasn't quite where she'd like it to be. She said she would prefer that we go ahead and take him via c-section. At this point I would do anything to make sure my baby was healthy and safe, so I agreed.

However, there was one catch -- the three sets of twins being born that same night! The operation rooms were booked. After some finagling with the anesthesiologist's schedule, my doctor insisted that I "cut in front of" one of the twins' mothers. (Sorry, twin mama, whoever you may be!) I was prepped for surgery fast, hurriedly signing consent paperwork all while I was being wheeled to the OR. Obviously the quick change of plans was scary -- I had to switch gears really fast in my head. I always intended to have an epidural, but now I was getting one in less than 5 minutes. The bright side was I didn't really have time to be scared about it! The nurse sat me on the operating table, instructing me to put my elbows on my knees (ha! Try doing that when you're 9 months pregnant) while the needle poked my back in various places to make sure it was going in the right spot. Honestly, not a fun several minutes. When the epidural was finally successful, my body quickly started numbing from the waist down. A side effect of the drugs is nausea, which I felt but it was knocked out quickly by Zofran (miracle drug, that Zofran.) I was laid on the operating table, and a curtain was hung in front of my face. The anesthesiologist was great, letting me know exactly what would be happening to my body before it actually happened. Your legs will go completely numb. Check. You shouldn't be able to feel your toes wiggling or your legs moving. Check. Now you should be feeling numb from the chest down. Check. And finally, you shouldn't be able to feel this pinch on your abdomen. Check. I was ready for surgery. 

My doctor got started, calmly talking to the other nurses and doctors in the room as they worked. James was brought inside and was able to stand back by my head with the anesthesiologist, which instantly put me at ease. I was able to relax for the first time in almost an hour, and I thought, in a few minutes we'll be meeting our baby. Of course, the hectic nature of the night also had me feeling incredibly anxious -- I just wanted Archie to be healthy.

Suddenly my doctor warned me I might feel a little tugging -- this was it! Archie was almost here! Within seconds everyone in the room started exclaiming things all at once -- "What a beautiful baby!" "Ohhh, what a BIG boy!" "OH MY GOSH HE IS SO BIG!" Because I was behind the curtain, I couldn't see anything, so I digested all of the comments but listened hard for that first cry. When I heard Archie cry, tears welled in my eyes. He was here, he was breathing and he was ok. My doctor assured me he was a healthy boy. I asked James what he looked like, and he said he was perfect. I asked to see him, and a nurse wrapped him up in a blanket as fast as she could to bring him to me. The joy I felt in that moment, meeting my baby cheek-to-cheek was indescribable. I'll never forget it.

As the nurse wheeled him away to be weighed and measured, everyone started making bets as to how big he was. Since I was lying down, I really couldn't get a good look at Archie's size -- just his sweet face. I asked James, is he really that big!? He laughed and said he thought so. Sure enough, I heard a nurse come back into the room and announce: "10 pounds, 15 ounces -- 22 inches long!" Surely I'd heard wrong...but nope! Archie was just as I thought he might be -- a big boy. My younger brother previously held the record in our family at 10 pounds, 8 ounces. Archie took his title (and hopefully any future babies won't steal it from him! Oy!)

10 pounds, 15 ounces. We're now accepting college football scholarships.  

Archer Clyde Kilgore, aka Archie, was born a little after midnight on December 12, 2014 at 12:32 am. Besides having a little fluid in his lungs (pretty normal for c-section babies), he was completely healthy. My doctor was expecting to see something that would explain the drop in his heart rate, but she didn't find anything unusual. Our thoughts now are that he was just so big that with each contraction, no matter how small, he had no where to go! Judging by his size, I can see how any tightening would cause stress. I'm so thankful we were able to get him out when we did with no major complications.

In the hours following Archie's birth, we didn't sleep -- by choice! When he was brought to me to nurse, I was thankful when he latched right away. I had worries about breastfeeding, and while it's one of the hardest things I've ever done, I'm glad he's a hearty eater. He quickly fell asleep after nursing that first time, and having him rest on my chest after calling my womb home for 9 long months was the best feeling. I remember thinking, after so many years of wanting to be a mother, I'm finally this little boy's mama. It was -- and still is! -- the most beautiful gift.

He has our hearts and always will. 

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Photos by Caroline Singletary, Bella Baby and Natalie Kilgore

January 6, 2015

Welcome, Archie! + a 4moms giveaway (CLOSED)

For those of you who already know, Archer was born via emergency c-section on December 12, weighing in at a whopping 10 pounds, 15 ounces (!), measuring 22 inches long. He and I were healthy and happy post-birth and I've recovered well from surgery over the last few weeks. We are so in love with his squishy, sweet face -- most days when I look at him I still can't believe after all this time wishing and waiting for him that he's finally here. It's the best feeling. Someday very soon I will get around to posting his birth story and photos from the hospital, but in the meantime, I want to celebrate our little man's arrival with a big giveaway!

But first, let me back up just a bit. You guys. As much as I love this baby boy, adjusting to life with a newborn has been interesting to say the least. Don't get me wrong -- it's been the most beautiful, wonderful, best kind of adjustment possible, but I didn't quite know what I was in for that first week at home. Archie is a great baby -- he rarely cries longer than a couple of minutes, he eats well, and he's generally pretty happy when he's awake. Sleeping, however, was a big challenge for him -- and us! Like most babies, he doesn't like being put on his back to sleep. I tried putting myself in his shoes -- if I'd been all crumpled up in the fetal position for 9 months, I probably would feel pretty vulnerable and uncomfortable lying on my back all spread out to sleep, too. So, what to do? Placing him on his stomach is dangerous because of SIDS risks, and co-sleeping in bed isn't for us. He sleeps on our chests, but newborns sleep up to 16 hours a day, and obviously we can't sit on the couch with him on our chests all the time -- even if I do love a good baby cuddle now and then. It took us a second to figure it out, but he likes to relax or sleep at an angle in a cocoon-like place. 

Enter the mamaRoo.

I was so sleep deprived the first week home that I literally wanted to cry when I discovered places Archie would nap other than my chest -- like the mamaRoo. I want to hug the folks over at 4moms! The bucket-like design of the swing makes Archie feel secure and enveloped, and the swing-like motions mimic us bouncing him around on our feet, the car (another place he will go to sleep easy-peasy), and a tree swing, among others.

There are built-in sounds, too -- a favorite being white noise, likely what Archie was used to hearing in the womb, which makes him feel right at home. Their new design even comes with a coordinating app for the iPhone and Android, so you can quickly adjust the settings on the device without getting too close (I've learned quickly that you never want to wake a sleeping baby!).

The mamaRoo is convenient, comfortable and overall pretty darn stylish, too. I'm such a fan!

So, to celebrate the gift of sleep -- and Archie's arrival! -- let's give a mamaRoo away, shall we? 

To enter, hop on over to my Instagram page here and quickly enter by telling me why you'd like to win. I will be choosing a winner at random there tomorrow before midnight EST.  ***CLOSED*** Winner announced here:

Be sure to check out 4moms on the webFacebook and Instagram as well -- they have some pretty fab products to offer all you mamas out there. 

Good luck! And thanks for being so awesome, 4moms. xo -- Natty

This post is in partnership with 4moms. All opinions expressed are my own. Top photo credit: Caroline Singletary // all other photos: Natalie Kilgore