Saturday, July 25, 2015

Maysen Paige :: Newborn Photos with EL Photography & Design

To the best of my recollection, my obsession with photography and capturing memories began way back when I was a kid. My cousin, Chandra, and I used to sit on my grandparent's bed for hours, sifting through old photos and sharing our latest school yearbooks. And when I wasn't looking at family pictures, I could be found pouring through Teen Magazine, cutting pictures, gathering inspiration, and creating collages. It was, like, my most.favorite.thing.eva (said in my best pre-teen voice...which I'm pretty accustom to these days. Read: Addison Clark Starr is full of sass.).

What I'm getting at here, is that no one should be surprised that, when it comes to photos of my family, I'm obsessed with the best. And the best, lucky for us, lives just around the corner. Emily from EL Photography & Design was, first and foremost, a friend. That friendship has now developed into a little business relationship with Emily & her best business partner in crime, Teresa. I help them with the "office-y" side of things and they spoil me rotten with amazing pictures. Needless to say, I feel like I'm on the #winning end of that deal, but they assure me it's an "employee perk." Seeing as I've never been one to turn down great opportunities, I took Emily & Teresa up on their offer to take some pics of our sweet little Squish, Maysi Paige.

Emily first showed up at the hospital, camera in hand, shot some brand new baby pics, and I couldn't adore them more! They capture everything I love about newborn-ness...wrinkles, rolls, soft skin, fuzzy hair, and and funny faces. See?

Next up...the "official" newborn session. And ooohhhh boy, did Maysen make the girls WORK for these shots. Girlfriend would NOT give in and sleep. In hindsight, we were dealing with some reflux issues, but still...sleep child! Once again, Emily & Teresa totally exceeded my expectations (how do they do that every single time?!?) and I will forever treasure these images.

Still, even after 2 months, I find myself looking at these pictures, over and over again. Finding familiarity with the details, and tucking away sweet, sweet memories.

Emily & Teresa, THANK YOU from the very bottom of my heart for capturing our littlest love in all her newness!


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Maysen Paige :: The Birth Story

I’m going to try to keep this as short as possible, but I make no promises that it won’t get wordy. Really though, there isn’t too much to Maysen’s birth story…it was a pretty textbook, straight forward, and simple delivery. No complications, not a whole lot of crazy/stressful moments, just a lot of contractions, an epidural, some pushing, and a cute baby in the end. Just how we like it.

So, let’s start from the beginning.

I was originally scheduled for an induction on Wednesday, May 6, 2015. Kaiah and I were in the middle of our last Tropical Smoothie lunc hdate on Tuesday when I received the call that my induction needed to be postponed until Thursday. Now, it’s important to note here that at 39 week pregnant, I was D.O.N.E. And this aforementioned done-ness? It resulted in a self-induced pity party. I may have even shed a few tears as I was calling/texting J and our moms to inform them of the change in plans. It took me a few hours to pull myself together and, you know, think logically. An extra 24-hours with my baby girl safe inside of me? I could that!

Fast forward to Thursday – induction day!

My instructions from the hospital were that they would call me sometime between 5am and 8am to tell me when to come in, and if I hadn’t heard from them by 8:30, I could call. Of course, I was awake, showered, and ready by 5:00 – just in case they called and said, “Come now!” But, they didn’t. In fact, I was still sitting at my desk trying to get some last minute work done at 8:30am. So, I called the hospital, only to have the nurse tell me that they were still pretty busy and that they “hoped” to get me in that day. Hoped?!? She must have sensed the desperation in my voice because sweet nurse lady reassured me that she thought I was 2nd on the list of inductions and, assuming there weren’t a lot of women to come in laboring, then my chances were good. Ok, I’ll take it.

The next 4 hours were spent pouting, trying to nap, and answering phone calls/texts from friends and family, anxiously awaiting #starrbabycinco. FINALLY, at 12:30pm we got THE call. “Come now”, sweet nurse lady said. And we did! J’s mom was on kid duty and my mom was planning on meeting us at the hospital later that day.

Here’s the timeline of events following “THE call.”

1:00 – Arrive at the hospital, get admitted, J and I get a little time to ourselves (there’s just something great about sharing a moment with the one that got you into this pickle in the first place. AmIright?!?).

2:00 – IV started.

2:30 – My mom arrives. Pitocin started. Everyone hates pit, but I love it because it, along with breaking of the water, makes me have a baby real quick. J made a gas station run for food fuel, in an effort to avoid the Near Miss Incident of 2008.

3:30 – New nurse arrived. Thank goodness. The first one had a booger in her nose.

4:00 – I was informed that my doctor was extremely busy with other patients and that we were waiting for her to break my water (1 of 2 necessary steps in the “quick baby” equation, remember?). No one seemed to care how dilated I was and when I mentioned that I was curious whether I had progressed since my appointment the week before (3-4 cm), my nurse snapped, “I can’t just check you for no reason.” Ooookkk, then.

4:00 – 5:30 – Pitocin increased and contractions gradually became more intense, but not unbearable. I hadn’t felt contractions in over 4 years and, strangely enough, I wanted to (for a little bit, anyway. And then give me the drugs. You get me??). My mom, J, and I watched TV (Ellen, if you must know), talked about the yummy Frappuccino’s I wasn’t allowed to drink, and just waited.

6:00 – Still no doctor. Contractions were painful enough that I could feel myself tensing up. Now, here is where the whole “seasoned birthing veteran” really paid off…I knew my body and the laboring process so well from my prior experiences that I was able to recognize when start getting tense. Tension = no progression. It was time to call for the magical epidural.

6:30 – Anesthesiologist arrives. Surprisingly, he didn’t make J leave the room…soooo my baby daddy was able to witness his first ever epidural. His reaction? “I almost puked.” Me, on the other hand, I was a happy {mostly} happy camper. My contractions were definitely still noticeable and I certainly wasn’t completely numb. I was able to move my legs, knew when each contraction started, and needed to breathe through them. In between, I listed to everything; the clock, the monitor, the baby’s heartbeat, the blood pressure cuff, the TV, and surrounding conversation…I took it all in. This was going to be my last rodeo and I desperately wanted to remember it all.

7:20 – Dr. T finally graced us with her presence, checked me (STILL only a 5! If my contractions weren’t so intense, I would have really been ticked off!), and broke my water. After that is when my memory got a little fuzzy, my pain intensified, and the feeling of anticipation was overwhelming. I think everyone in the room knew that things would likely go quickly from there on out.

7:45 – Catheter in.

7:55 – Room set up for delivery. Contractions were intense and Grey’s Anatomy was just getting ready to start. I remember really wanting to be able to watch, but I just wasn’t able to focus on anything but the contractions. Don’t worry, though, the good old DVR came through in the clutch and I was able to catch my missed episode a few days later, during a late night feeding.

8:30 – The pressure started, I knew it was time, and we called for the nurse. She checked me and, sure enough, I was completely dilated and ready to push. Dr. T joined us. Even though I had done it before…5 times over…there was still that element of holy crap we’re about to do this thing!

8:35 – Time to push. J was by my head, mom had one leg, and my nurse had the other. Dr. T was, of course, in “catching position.”

A little sweat, four contractions, and several pushes later, my 8 pound 8 ounce sweet squishy babe was placed on my chest. All the months of nausea, heartburn, back pain, and mood swings; it all became worth it in an instant, in a rush at 8:51pm.


Ahhh, there’s just nothing like the warmth and smell of a newborn baby.

Of course I cried. That little human had been growing inside of me and, for almost 10 months, I had been loving someone I had never seen. Amazing, isn’t it? 

And now she was here.

My girl.

My fourth girl.

My fifth baby.

My Maysen Paige Starr.

I just kept staring at her. She looked so different than I thought she would. She had (has!) these cheeks that were like an invitation to kiss and squish her.

Suddenly it all made sense. This is how it was supposed to be all along. All my fears, anxieties, worries…and this was the plan the whole time. Our family, completed by a sweet baby girl that I never knew I needed.

Eventually the room settled down. My doctor had left, the nurse was charting, J and Jojo had their baby fix. It was my turn. I laid with her forever, drinking her in, top to bottom. Every inch and expression was tucked away. Meeting each other for the first time has been one of my most favorite memories to date.

In the two months following Maysi’s arrival, we’ve been settling in to life and the joy that she brings. It’s complete happiness, mixed with overwhelming thoughts of oh myyyy word, how do we have FIVE kids?

Bringing another person into your home always has a learning curve attached. By now we’re all pretty used to each other. She’s a funny little thang -- loud when she doesn’t like something (you know, hunger, exhaustion, and smothering siblings) and content when busyness surrounds. But, I guess if you’re going to be the last of five, these are qualities you want to have.

Sure, there’s been less sleep, but what we’ve gained instead is so much more.

Knowing this is the last, I’ve been so acutely aware of all the milestones. Mostly, though, I’ve been digging my heels in against the racing world, refusing to go fast and get back to normal – not completely and not just yet.

I still sit here bewildered…two months later…wondering how it is that we have been so blessed. Our hearts are so full that it almost hurts. Hurts so gooood. The Master Baby Creator knew just what we needed. He knew our family needed just one more sweet girl. He knew Eli needed to remain our only boy. He knew. He knew.

What I’ve written here? This is Maysen’s start. The beginning of her life. But I’ve been praying for her future – her health and happiness.

While the newness is dwindling and everyday life is returning, it feels forever changed – in the absolute best way possible.


Thursday, June 04, 2015

Last Day of School

From our day-to-day life to the bigger things like fun adventures and holidays, I've been so behind on posting lately. I keep telling myself that I'll sit down one day and catch-up, buuuut the reality is that just might not happen. And I need to be ok with it. So, instead of NOT posting last day of school pics because I haven't posted x,y, or z that happened before that, I'm just going to get them documented already! And, if in the future you see some random, VERY belated posts about birthdays, big games, spring break, or sleepovers, you'll know that it's just me scrambling to catch-up.

Carrying on.

Kaiah's last day of 3-day preschool:

The last day of school for my big kids was picture-perfect weather, so we made the most of it.

And just for fun, here are some pics from the first day. Oh, Eli's outfit? A happy coincidence!

So funny to think that I was pregnant in these pics and didn't even know it!


Wednesday, June 03, 2015

4 Weeks of Miss Maysi Paige

It's hard to believe that it's been almost 4 weeks since we met our sweet Maysi Paige. I remember saying it when Kai was born and the same holds true this time around, as well: I didn't know we were missing anything until she arrived. Most days it feels like I've known my little Maysen forever. Her squishy face, pouty lips, long feet, and fuzzy ears just feel so familiar. And yet? I find that we are still fumbling awkwardly through this newborn stage...again. I've said it before and I'll say it again: This girl is making me feel like a rookie mom! The different cries, feeding schedules, sleeping patterns, and logistical juggling -- it all seems so foreign. And somehow I'm trying to love it just a little more than I did before. There is a hyper-awareness of the "lasts" this time around (even though we were sure last time was the last...) and we are doing our best to soak them up.

So. Here's {more than} just a little about our little Miss Maysen Paige at 4 weeks and a LOT of "first few weeks" photos:

Nicknames: Maysi, Maysi Paige, Mays Face, MP, Pee Wee

Weight: Maysen tipped the scales last Wednesday at a whopping 9 lbs 3 oz. That's my growing girl!

Sleep Habits: Eh. There's been some rough nights, but we seem to be falling into a routine of 4 hour stretches at night. Napping during the day has been inconsistent. Some days she doesn't sleep AT ALL and others she seems to sleep the day away -- in our arms (or wrap!), of course -- because putting her down would, apparently, be torture. I'm not complaining, though. If mommy-hood has taught me anything, it's that the moments are fleeting and I'll take baby cuddles while I can!

Eating Habits: Nursing every 2.5-3 hours during the day and 3-4 at night. She really is a champion nurser and for that, I am thankful!

General disposition: Getting better. I was convinced that Maysi hated us/life for the first 3 weeks, BUT I'm holding out hope that we've turned a corner. The last couple of days have been better and we're buying stock in reflux medication. :)

Likes: Brother & sisters in her face (see also: Dislikes); being held upright, against your chest; sitting up; nursing; big burps; a pacifier sometimes; ceiling fans; and ball games.

Dislikes: Brother & sisters in her face, being alone, having an upset tummy, diaper changes, baths, taking time away from nursing to burp, being in her carseat and NOT moving, and the hiccups.

Adventures: 2 softball tournaments, 1 baseball tournament, preschool graduation, lots of walks, several park stops, practices galore, a couple graduation parties, doctor appointments, Target, Sams Club, Buffalo Wild Wings, 2 meetings, and visits with friends.

On to the good stuff...cute baby pics!



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