Mom & Baby Update // Week One


If you follow me on Instagram, you already know that Sam and I received a belated Christmas present this year: our beautiful baby girl, Harper Elizabeth. She was born on Sunday, December 27th at 2:58pm. Our tiny miracle weighed 4 pounds, 14.9 ounces and she measures 19.25 inches. She has her daddy’s chin dimple, her mommy’s dark hair and, as of right now, the deepest blue eyes I’ve ever seen. She is an absolute doll and we are so in love with her.

I’m in the process of writing her birth story and I hope to have that up (in parts because it’s so long) next week. In the meantime, I wanted to start my baby/postpartum updates. I’ll be doing these weekly (on Sundays since she was born on a Sunday) in the beginning and I’ll transition into monthly updates once the changes slow down a bit. So here’s what happened during week one:



Harper was born prematurely at 34 weeks which meant that she would have to spend at least a week, if not more, in the NICU. I knew this when my labor started, but nothing could prepare me for the moment that she was taken away by the nurses after she was born. Thankfully, we got to spend a little time with her before that happened, but it still hurt like hell and I sobbed into her hospital receiving blanket for a while after they took her away.

Thankfully, our stay in the NICU has been relatively easy, and everything that has come up has been extremely common in babies her age. She never needed oxygen and was able to regulate her own temperature from the beginning (although they still put her under the warming lamp just in case). Because of this, I immediately started asking them when she could come home. Unfortunately, her jaundice levels went up higher than they wanted them to which meant she had to be under a bilirubin light for a full day on day four. Seeing her in that closed bassinet, even though I know jaundice is common even in full term babies, sent me into the most emotional day I’ve had since she was born. It didn’t help that we also found out that she had a baby apnea spell (I doubt this is the medical term, but this is how the nurses at our hospital refer to it) while sleeping earlier that morning. Baby apnea is when a baby’s brain fails to remind it’s lungs to breathe. If it lasts longer than 15 seconds, an alarm goes off and the nurse will either stimulate the baby (which usually gets them breathing again) or will give the baby oxygen. This, like jaundice, is extremely common in premature babies because their brains missed out on a few key weeks of development in the womb. I know this, but it still scares me to death. Even worse, I was feeding Harper that same day (day four was basically the day from hell) when she had a very brief apnea moment. She was eating too fast and stopped breathing for just a few seconds. But in that time, I saw her lips turn a dusky color and I had a silent panic attack. It didn’t help that the NICU doctor and nurse who were working that day weren’t exactly warm and friendly. They kept threatening warning us about extended NICU stays and feeding tubes (because Harper was having trouble staying awake during feeds) and all of these other scary things that were true, but most likely didn’t need to be said in that moment. They also said she would have to stay in the NICU for 2-3 weeks. I cried for an hour after we left and we prayed nonstop for things to turn around.

By that evening, Harper’s jaundice levels had dropped and she was pacing herself while eating again. By the next morning, she was released from the bilirubin lights (by a different, much nicer doctor) and put back into an open bassinet. She hasn’t had an apnea spells since and she is eating like a champ so they never had to insert a feeding tube. Speaking of eating, Harper started off eating donor breastmilk because it took five days for my milk to come in. I’ve been pumping every three hours since Sunday night and I’m now producing more than enough milk for her. She is currently taking 45-50 ml of breastmilk every three hours and she also nurses for 10-15 minutes on each side when I nurse her (usually twice a day while she’s in the NICU). I don’t believe it’s any coincidence that Harper has been absolute rockstar since my milk came in. There is a reason that they say “Breast is Best.” I’m not here to bully anyone into breastfeeding, but I witnessed a major change in my child once all of her nutrition was supplied by me. She has only lost 2% of her body weight (the average is 10%) and she has even started to gain a little bit back. Breastfeeding/pumping is a full-time job, but I believe it is 100% worth it.

Because of all of these positive steps forward, today is our baby girl’s last day in the NICU! As long as nothing changes between now and 8am tomorrow morning, we will get to bring her home sometime tomorrow. Tonight, Sam and I will spend the night at the hospital and we will room-in with her (so we can get used to being full-time parents with the added security of having nurses and doctors right down the hall). She still has a few tests to pass (a carseat test, drinking from the bottle we plan to use at home, etc.), but we have full faith and confidence that nothing will stop us from walking out of those doors with a baby in hand tomorrow. Although our stay in the NICU was extremely difficult for me (I’ll write about that more later), I am so thankful that it was relatively easy. Harper did not need any procedures and never had any major health concerns. I cannot say the same for the some of the other babies and families we met during the past week. We pray for them every time we’re there. I also cannot express enough gratitude for the doctors and nurses who work in the NICU. They are all so dedicated to their jobs and you can see how much they love these babies. They taught Sam and I so much and we never worried once about the level of care she was receiving. We are so grateful for them.



Aside from the afterbirth cramps I get every time I pump, and the fact that I feel like there is nothing but air and mush in my belly now, I feel fantastic! I did a lot of research while I was pregnant and read a ton of birth stories. I always paid particular attention to the recovery portions of those stories because I feel like no one ever tells you about what really happens after the baby comes out. Because of this, I was expecting the absolute worst. I just knew I was going to be feeling like crap for weeks. But in reality, my recovery has been wonderful. I’ve had to remind myself that I just had a baby seven days ago.

I weighed myself for the first time since she arrived yesterday morning and I am 4.8 pounds lighter than I was when I got pregnant. I still can’t believe that. I think it’s a combination of losing weight during the first trimester, plus only gaining ten pounds during pregnancy and then pumping like a mad woman once she was born. It’ll be interesting to see how my weight changes in the coming weeks. I am always starving or thirsty these days because of all of the calories I burn while feeding or pumping. I’m trying to eat really healthy and to pay attention to how the foods I eat affect her, but when you’re living in 3 hour increments, it can be hard to make smart, healthy choices. I survived off of granola bars, goldfish and pretzels yesterday because I was running around trying to get things ready for her to come home. If anyone has any tips or advice on this, please let me know!

Emotionally, I was a bit of a wreck this week. Obviously, your hormones go a little haywire when you give birth and I definitely cried off and on all day the day she was born. And then, when she was taken to the NICU, I went a little…cold. I was in shock and pain and I couldn’t figure out how to deal with it. Then I got very, very afraid. Every time the monitors made any noise, or any time a nurse or doctor mentioned anything that seemed a little scary, I would lose it. I also felt like a bad mother for not sitting at her bedside 24 hours a day, even though I needed to allow myself to rest and recover before she came home. I am so thankful for Sam and my parents and siblings. They prayed with me and encouraged me and reminded me to have faith every single day. And slowly, but surely, my faith grew.

Another thing that helped me was reminding myself that I’m Harper’s mother and allowing my motherly instincts to kick in. Usually, Sam and I visit her together, but one day he went to the gym and I went alone. During that time, she had her first good nursing session and while she was eating, she looked straight into my eyes and held my finger with her tiny little hand. In that moment, not only did I fall even more in love with her, but I realized that she knew me, she trusted me, and she loved me too. She spent 34 weeks safely tucked into my belly and she remembers that every time I hold her. From that moment, I made bonding with her my number one priority and it has made a world of difference. My emotions are in check and I feel more confident than ever that I was made to be this little girl’s mom.

I apologize that this post ended up being so long. A lot can happen in one week! I hope you enjoyed reading our first update and I hope that it is especially helpful for those of you who are pregnant, are planning to get pregnant, or just had a baby. Please let me know if there are specific topics you want me to write about. Have a happy Sunday!!



17 Comments on Mom & Baby Update // Week One

  1. Chris Ross
    January 3, 2016 at 3:56 pm (3 years ago)

    I am so proud of you. You are a wonderful mom. This is an excellent article. Thanks for sharing God’s gift.

    • Paula Ferrine Brockington
      January 3, 2016 at 7:13 pm (3 years ago)

      Congratulations to you and your husband! To God Be the Glory, Harper is free and cleared with outstanding amazing pure d awesome health challenges! You are an amazing mother! Continue writing and updating! God bless you always! “I truly have enjoyed reading this article! Be Blessed Always, Princess Harper and Mommy

  2. Alex Fletcher
    January 3, 2016 at 4:54 pm (3 years ago)

    This is a great post! Thank you for sharing. :)

  3. Joyce Barrs
    January 3, 2016 at 6:26 pm (3 years ago)

    So happy for you. I enjoy your blog because you speak from your heart.

  4. Tara Byrd Ouden
    January 3, 2016 at 6:36 pm (3 years ago)

    Jerrell, I enjoyed every part of reading you and Harper’s special journey. Thank you for your transparency and sharing this with all of us. It made me smile and whisper “thank you” to our Heavenly Father for this beautiful gift He gave to you and Sam.

  5. Shiana
    January 3, 2016 at 6:36 pm (3 years ago)

    Amazing. Congrats on your bundle and praying for you and your family in the days to come.

  6. Ashlee
    January 3, 2016 at 6:39 pm (3 years ago)

    You are doing beautifully! The amount of strength and love are a testament to your faith and love in the Aman upstairs.
    Harper is in good hands with as her Mama, and yes… She does know you. It’s the most amazing yet scariest feeling, once they are welcomed into this world. The first week, to 10 days, to 2 weeks are a whirlwind to say the least.
    I don’t know what hospital you’re at, but I had similar issues with a pediatrician treating my son, during our stay post partum. I was treated like an idiot and not spoken to very nicely. Thank God for the my Lactation specialist, she put my mind at ease and reminded me to take the pressure off myself for breastfeeding and to concentrate on what is best for my baby and I. Once I had that in my head, I knew everything would be ok.

    My suggestions for nutrition: it’s sort of a myth that what we eat, directly affects the baby. So if you want to eat something with more calories than you think you should have, eat it! Why? Because you are burning SO MUCH in nursing and you need those calories. My favorites lost partum were almond dark chocolate chip cookies from Whole Foods. They were the perfect snack, kept me satisfied and my calories in check.

    Hold on tight sweet girl… This is going to be the most emotionally draining, tiring, most wonderfully epic time of your life and every single second is worth it. Xo

  7. Desiree Monk
    January 3, 2016 at 6:41 pm (3 years ago)

    Sweet Jerrell, thank you for sharing…I’ve been praying for you all, now I know how to intercede specifically! Brought back memories of Jamie wearing eye patches and just a diaper and under those lamps for days. The doctors and nurses scared me to death giving me worse case scenarios. To make it worse, at that time I didn’t know Jesus. You and Sam do! Hold on to His promises, stand boldly with faith on His Word, and know that He has Harper in His Mighty Hands. She is His beloved baby girl. Love you all and I can’t wait to see the Everett family. Thank you for sharing!

  8. Ashlee
    January 3, 2016 at 6:44 pm (3 years ago)

    PS… Sorry for the grammar issues. I thought I corrected ;-)

    Don’t put too much pressure on yourself either, to keep these posts up right away when you get home. It’s a whole new world, when they are home and you are at their beckon call 24-7. Especially when nursing.

    Last… Don’t worry about a ‘schedule’ per say, they will get on one themselves. Remember, everything you do from here on out, prepares them for life (seriously!) if you want them well adjusted In life, try to be as relaxed and laid back as you can be. It allllll falls into place.

  9. Pamela
    January 3, 2016 at 7:03 pm (3 years ago)

    She’s adorable, please don’t ever think you’re not being a good mom because you went to get needed rest. In order to give Baby Harper the best mommie attention you have to have your proper rest. You did the right thing. Again she is adorable and Congrats to the best mom and dad that Baby Harper could ever have.

  10. Anna
    January 3, 2016 at 7:21 pm (3 years ago)

    Jerrell, I knew you many years ago when you were your. We used to attend Grace Covenant. Congratulations on becoming a mama. You are a beautiful one. Now you get to wear your heart outside your body. It seems you’ve already discovered that. I nursed 7 babies for 14 years. I or are brilliant in choosing this in a world that’s so instant and fast. It rushes time to breastfed but God did that on purpose. In year 1 baby needs major and much contact w mama. Her best vision us from your breastfed to your face. So many say “I’ll pump and let daddy have a turn”. That’s the modern way but not God’s way. He didn’t mess up by giving the breasts and milk only to you! Baby needs so badly this constant contact w one main person. Trust me. She will know her daddy. I have 7 to prove that. You will have a few rough moments but your body and Harper’s will not fail you. Trust in that. As you said, you are her mama. You will know. Put the bottle away as soon as you can and solely nurse and your breastfeeding will get easier and easier. I send you positive energy and much peace with your fantastic new role in life. Anna

  11. Wanda
    January 3, 2016 at 10:35 pm (3 years ago)

    What a blessing it is to be entrusted with such a precious gift. I appreciate you sharing your story. God is faithful and he will continue to strengthen Harper as he molds you even more.

  12. Krista
    January 3, 2016 at 11:34 pm (3 years ago)

    I loved reading this. It brought back so many memories… You are such a great writer. My favorite part is the part when you said you ‘I am Harper’s mother’ and that you needed to trust your motherly instincts. This is so true, and I remember when that moment hit me, so continue to remind yourself
    of that. I know it feels scary sometimes… Especially because everything is so new not to mention you being a first time mommy, but Harper is in God’s hand and he chose YOU to be her mommy. He knows exactly what he was doing… Be confident in that, and know that Harper is in the greatest of hands. Moms of preemies, like myself, smile with tears falling as we read through each part of this post. We have been there, right where you are… emotionally, hormonally, and shared the same excitement/anxiety about bringing the baby home. Everything you are feeling is normal, and we all wanted to live at the hospital just like you did! The doctors/nurses knew what they were doing by making me go home… The rest was needed as I learned new things about mommyhood everyday. Continue to trust God in every part of this journey. You will be blessed for it, not to mention how many people you will bless along the way. Remember us moms didn’t have a blog like this to read… I would have loved it if we did.

    Hugs and kisses to you and Sam and to the newest addition to our hearts… Baby Harper. I always tell your mom it truly does take a village to raise our children… And we feel honored to be a part of Harper’s Village. L❤️️️VE you.

  13. Whitney
    January 15, 2016 at 6:42 am (3 years ago)

    Congratulations! It seems like yesterday I started reading Jerrellrenee and now you are a wife and mother! I knew you would be great at being a mom. What are some of the good blogs and stories that you mentioned above? I can’t wait for the next post. Congratulations again!

    • Bertie
      January 18, 2017 at 7:25 am (2 years ago)

      What a pleasure to find someone who idietifnes the issues so clearly

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