August Book Reviews

Good morning friends!

Life with a toddler and newborn has been a bit hectic, so I’m just now getting around to my August book reviews even though we’re halfway through September already (how!?) Better late than never, right?

I got through two books last month before I had to put my reading on pause for last-minute baby prep and welcoming Vi into our family. Now that we’re settling into a *little* more of a routine around here, I’m hoping to get back into reading more! Might be wishful thinking, we’ll see how that goes… πŸ˜‰ In the meantime, let’s look at what I read in August!

August Book Reviews.jpg

The House on Tradd Street by Karen White

In the last couple months I’ve read and loved The Forgotten Room and The Glass Ocean, both written by a trio of authors. I decided to check out the individual authors work and since I’ve already read a lot of Beatriz Williams, I tried out this book from Karen White.Β  In this novel, Melanie is a realtor who has been gifted a historic home in Charleston, SC by a man she barely knows. While she sets about fixing it up to hopefully re-sell, she receives help from Jack, who believes the house may be hiding something of incredible value. As they work together to restore the house, it becomes clear that the house holds many secrets, and not all the secrets are willing to rest in peace. At times, the pace of this book seemed to drag and it took a while for me to decide if I even liked what I was reading. I wanted to figure out the answers to some of the mysteries laid out early on, so I kept reading and did start to enjoy it more as revelations were made. There were things I liked and things I didn’t. I enjoyed the fact that a lot of historical elements were brought in and I wanted to learn the truth behind what happened in the house. I didn’t fall in love with most of the characters like I wanted to and I felt like I had to do a lot of reading to get to the “good” stuff in the latter part of the book. I also wanted a little more closure at the end, but I believe this book is part of a series so it makes sense that some strings were left untied. I didn’t love it, I didn’t hate it. I’d read something else by Karen White but I’m not dying to. It just fell pretty middle-of-the-road, decent read territory for me.

Girls Burn Brighter by Shobha Rao

Now THIS book is going to stick with me. It was recommended to me by Justin’s cousin and I didn’t know much about it other than the facts that she loved it and that it was set in India. I spent 3 1/2 months studying abroad in India in college and have maintained an interest in the beautiful, complicated country ever since, so I checked out the book.

Oh my.

I did not know what I was getting into. This story is about two girls, Poornima and Savitha, who form a close friendship in childhood, but due to a devastating event, are separated from one another. The story chronicles their individual stories and how they always keep the faith to try to find their way back to one another.

This story is gripping, tragic, hopeful, and heartbreaking.Β Each girl shows a strength and resilience that is remarkable and inspiring, and the author writes in a way that kept me absolutely captivated, even when the content dealt with horrific events.Β The girls experience some of the worst of humanity, and their stories were difficult to read at times. Even though this is a work of fiction, it’s written in a way that seems very realistic (and unfortunately, I know enough about life in India for low-socioeconomic girls to know that their stories couldΒ be true, which is hard to fathom and process while reading). The story still manages to uplift and I admired the grit and willpower of each girl to keep going even when their situations felt overwhelming. Overall, I think this book is a compelling read and I highly recommend, (with the caveat that it does deal with heavy topics like human trafficking, sexual abuse, and extreme gender inequality, so if those topics are triggering for you, you might want to choose another read).Β 

Whew! That’s a wrap on August’s books. What have you been reading and loving lately?

Advertisements

Vi’s Birth Story

This blog post contains some watermarked, professionally taken photos. Special thanks to Natalie Joy Photography for beautiful pictures that we will cherish forever!

Hello friends!

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged but suffice to say it’s been a bit busy around here as we adjust to being a family of FOUR. Today I finally had some time to sit down and catch up a bit so I thought I’d write a recap of August 23, 2019 – the day we met our daughter.

Meet my sweet Vi.

Vi 3.jpg

The morning of the 23rd was pretty surreal. Because we had a planned c-section scheduled, we woke up knowing it was going to be our child’s birthday. We heard LJ wake up and Justin went to get him from his crib and brought him back to our bed. We snuggled together as a little family of three and I tried to soak up every minute, knowing soon our little family was going to change forever. It was a little bittersweet but oh so special and I’m so glad we started the day out just the three of us. ❀

We spent the rest of the morning nice and slow. Justin’s parents and sister had come into town the night before so they could be with LJ while we were in the hospital so we all hung out together. Justin and I danced around and played goofy songs with the word “baby” in them.Β  I was able to get one last Expecting and Empowered workout completed, which was the perfect way to feel capable and strong going into surgery!

20190823_081159

Finally, it was go time. We said goodbye to LJ and took a final picture as a family of three and then Justin and I headed in to the hospital.
20190823_103737-1
This time was so different than LJ’s birth. With him, I labored 25 hours before having a c-section. Because this time it was planned, we arrived at the hospital, checked in, and were escorted to our pre-op room. It was so much calmer!

The nurse got my vitals and walked me down to a nearby bathroom so I could change into the hospital gown. On the way, we passed by a mom and dad taking a walk around the labor and delivery floor with their brand new baby in the bassinet. I saw the baby’s pink hat and my eyes welled up. The nurse noticed this and asked if I was having a girl and I told her that we didn’t know, but seeing that little pink hat made me realize I might soon have a little girl and something about that made me so emotional!

Another thing that struck me during that hallway walk was just how much I was about to go through, all for the sake of safely delivering my baby. I knew a VBAC could have been a potential option but Justin and I had discussed with my OBGYN the specific risks for me personally based on how LJ’s labor went. Together, we made the decision that a second c-section was the best option for me and baby. That being said, I was still admittedly very nervous. I was about to have a pretty major abdominal surgery. Half of my body would be numbed. My muscles, nerves, uterus would all be cut open. And because I had already experienced it once, I knew what to expect in terms of soreness and recovery. It was more than a little daunting! As I was walking, I very clearly had this thought: “I am BRAVE.” Even though I was nervous, I knew how much I already loved my baby and how badly I wanted him or her to arrive in my arms safely. Yes, I was a little scared of another surgery but even knowing that, I was going to DO. IT. ANYWAY. It’s hard to describe how a feeling of empowerment overwhelmed me in that moment. This was the strength of my love as a mother. This was the courage brought by how fiercely I loved my baby. This was the resiliency of my mind and body for all I was willing to do to meet him or her. I knew I could do it.

pre c-section 1

Right at 1:00, it was time for surgery. I was taken into the room to get my epidural and once I was positioned, they let Justin into the room.

Csection 2

Again, I was struck by how different this surgery was from LJ’s – after 25 hours and 2 sleepless nights, Justin and I were both emotionally and physically exhausted during LJ’s c-section. This time, we were alert and prepared. We chatted with the nurses. Everyone in the room took a final guess on gender. I heard the nurse who walked me down the hallway say “I hope it’s a girl because of how you teared up seeing that other baby!” The c-section began and Justin and I held hands and eagerly anticipated baby’s arrival.

I didn’t have any desire to have them drop the sheet, so Justin kept me updated with what was happening. Soon, baby’s head was out. Justin stood up to get a better view, the doctor lifted up the baby, and Justin exclaimed “It’s a girl!”

And this was my reaction.

Awestruck. Overcome. SHE was here!

She quickly got cleaned off and then Justin brought her over to me for skin to skin contact while the doctor worked on closing me up. There were a lot of cords in the way, but those first sweet baby snuggles were just the best!

After the surgery was finished, I was taken to the recovery room and got to breastfeed for the first time. Everything went much smoother than I had anticipated. Even when the nurse had to press on my stomach to make sure my uterus was shrinking back down, it wasn’t as painful as I remembered from my first surgery. The whole thing was a really positive experience!

Vi 2.jpg

And just when I thought things couldn’t get any sweeter, we were taken to my room and LJ came to meet her. Oh my heart.

Welcome to our family my sweet baby girl. We’re so very thankful that you are here. ❀

first moments 8