If you follow us on Instagram, you may have seen that our little boy, Judah, celebrated his first birthday this week. It is hard to believe. Maybe sometime soon I will write a post that allows me to wax poetic about how much we love that little munchkin, but today I wanted to share the details of his simple camping party that we threw to celebrate his first year of life!Read More
Quick Recap - Our Québec Trip
When we had Judah in October 2018, one of our goals for his first year of life was to take an international vacation just the 3 of us. For a number of reasons that we’ll discuss in a future “traveling with a 9-month-old” blog post, we decided that Québec would be a great spot to spend a few days, specifically in Quebec City and Montreal. An added bonus was that even with as well-traveled as Chandler is, she had NEVER been to Canada! So we set off as a family of 3 into a new country (for Chandler and Judah) to spend a week exploring a new place, relaxing, and dreaming about the future of our family and our business. Traveling with a baby was definitely a bit slower pace than some of our previous trips, but we had an incredible time.
Here is the quick summary of our itinerary in Quebec City! Feel free to jump to an individual day by clicking or read through the entire itinerary! Links to specific spots can be found at the bottom of the page.
Day 1: Travel (Nashville - NYC - Montreal, Drive to Quebec City)
Day 2: Resort Day, Boulangerie Du Lac, Chateau Fairmont Le Chatea Frontenac, Dinner at Le Chic Shack (amazing burgers)
Day 3: Driving around Île d'Orléans - Vignoble Ste-Pétronille (winery), Café Boutique La Maison Smith (lunch), Les Fromages de l'isle d'Orléans (famous cheeses), Érablière Richard Boily: Sugar Shack (Maple Syrup Farm…a hidden gym and our favorite part of the day!)
Day 4: Resort Day, Golf at Club de golf Mont Tourbillon,
Day 5: Resort Morning, Quebec City for lunch/exploring - Bistro L'Orygine (lunch - AMAZING), walking around Old Town Quebec and exploring,
Day 6: Morning at the resort packing and kayaking, lunch in the city
Day 1 - Travel Day from Nashville to Québec
We started the trip off with a bang - a 12-hour travel day! 12 hours of travel will weary even the most seasoned of travelers, so we were pretty tuckered out by the time we got in. We decided to fly from Nashville to Montreal, and then drive to Quebec City (a 3 hour drive). We did this for a couple of reasons:
Flights were less expensive to Montreal
We wanted to spend time in both Quebec City and Montreal, and thus…
Renting a car and returning it to the same location is WAY less expensive than a one-way rental, which is what we would have had to do had we flown into Quebec City and then out of Montreal.
Even though this resulted in a little bit of a lengthier travel day, it’s also really fun to see the country as you drive between towns, especially in a new place! We arrived at our hotel - Entourage sur-le-lac - around 6pm, just enough time to let J crawl his wiggles out, put him to bed, pour a glass of wine and watch the season finale of the Bachelorette. All in all, as smooth of a travel day as you can ask for.
Also a quick shoutout (not at all sponsored) to Hotels.com and Expedia (who own hotels.com) - because I am an Expedia VIP (a story for another time), they hooked us up with an upgraded room at our resort. The resort is already awesome by itself, but this upgrade was such a surprise and a huge blessing to our family and our trip. We are very thankful to get to experience Quebec City in style.
Day 2 - Resort Day
Because of the long travel day, we wanted to take things pretty easy on our first full day in Quebec City. We spent the morning mostly hanging in our room looking out over the lake and getting work done. It was a rainy morning, so it was the perfect time to relax and play a little catch up from the travel day.
Once the weather cleared up a little, we grabbed some lunch and coffee at an AMAZING boulangerie (link below) near the resort, and headed out to the lake for a few minutes. Judah is still gettin used to being in the water, but he seemed to like it more this time than ever before. At nap time, Chandler headed out to the lake to do a little exploring of her own. The resort has kayaks, paddle boards, etc. for guests to use, so she headed out to the lake to spend a little time on the water.
In the evening we headed into Quebec City. We were welcomed with some INSANE traffic, as apparently it was the first night of a month-long festival called Grands Feux Loto-Québec. But traffic aside, once we found a parking spot, we were able to walk around the old city and it was quite charming. Even though it was a little more crowded than maybe is normal, we still had a wonderful time walking around the city, eating a burger at Le Chic Shack, and checking out the Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac.
Day 3: Île d'Orléans
Located just outside of downtown Quebec City, the Île d'Orléans is a small island in the St. Lawrence River and is home to a lot of farming and agriculture. There is SO MUCH charm on this island - driving around it feels as if this little island has resisted jumping into the modern age, and I mean that in the best way. It’s not a step back in time - it’s a place where times seems to have simply slowed down.
All in all, it takes about an hour or so to drive all the way around the island (there is one major road that goes all the way around). Naturally as you stop at different places along the way, your trip will extend, but all that to say - it’s not a big island. When we entered the island, we headed southward. We started out by grabbing lunch at Café Boutique La Maison Smith. It’s a great little coffee shop and cafe! Low key and very charming. The cafe is directly across the street from a couple wineries, so naturally we walked over and checked that out after lunch.
From there, it’s pretty much just driving around and exploring through the different little towns. There are antique shops, bakeries, old churches, pretty much anything that has old-world charm. We love exploring this stuff, so we just took our time driving around the island and it was lovely.
There are two places of note that we stopped - firstly, Les Fromages de l'isle d'Orléans. This cheese factory is home to the oldest cheese in North America and is a staple of the Île d'Orléans. We wanted to get some cheese and didn’t really know what, but we saw everyone else coming in and grabbing the same thing, so we grabbed one to! Come to find out, this is their signature cheese - the 1608 cheese recipe that is the oldest cheese in North America. It is a round cheese patty requires grilling actually, so we have saved it to eat when we get home to Nashville.
The second place of note (and possibly our favorite spot of the trip) was the Cabane A Sucre (Sugar Shack) - a maple syrup farm. As a family who loves to eat pancakes, we also LOVE maple syrup. We totally would have missed this place is Chandler hadn’t read about it previously because it is tucked away in a forest of, what else, maple trees. When we drove in, we were surrounded by a forest of maple trees with green rubber tubing going from tree to tree. We would later learn that this is how they harvest the sugar water to turn into syrup. This syrup factory is a family owned operation - the family’s main business is actually trout farming, but the syrup farm has been in their family for many years and is now used as supplemental income.
The owner gave us a really informative tour of the facility, explained to us the syrup-making process, showed us their equipment, and let us taste their products (yum!). This was SUCH a fun experience and I feel like it’s a little hidden gym on the Île d'Orléans.
Day 4: City for Chandler, Golf for Jeremy
Day 4 was mostly another relaxing day at the resort. Chandler started the day early and went into Quebec City to explore, drink a cup of coffee, and get some pictures of the still-sleeping city. It’s one of her favorite things to do in our travels.
When she got back to the resort, the 3 of us grabbed breakfast and hung out for a bit. It was a BEAUTIFUL day so we were able to spend time on our deck overlooking the water, hanging out, and getting work done. In the afternoon, I went and played golf at Club de golf Mont Tourbillon, which is right across the lake from the Entourage. This is one of MY favorite things to do in our travels. It was a really beautiful course nestled in the mountains, and although I didn’t play as well as I would have liked, it was very fun.
Day 5: Afternoon in Quebec City
We spent the morning of day 5 hanging at the resort and getting some work done. Judah had a little trouble sleeping the night before, so we were all moving a little slow. After Judah’s first nap, we loaded up and went into Quebec City for lunch and some rainy day exploring. We ate at an AMAZING spot called Bistro L'Orygine. Very cool design, VERY tasty food. It’s a farm to table restaurant that sources all its ingredients locally. We each got the chef’s sample meal so that we could try a variety of menu items. They did not disappoint in the least.
After lunch, we spent a little time exploring old town QC. We love just walking around and taking in the culture. It was pretty busy in this area when we were there, so we didn’t stick around for a really long time. I do feel like we got a good glimpse of the neighborhood and very much enjoyed walking around to check it out!
We ended the afternoon at the resort, getting a little work done, hanging by the lake, and Judah was working on his mountain climbing.
We spent the morning at the resort getting packed up and ready to head to Montreal. Once we were all packed, Chandler headed out to the water one last time to get a little kayaking in while I hung out on the porch soaking up the mountain air and doing a little reading. I love relaxing mornings, especially in a place like this!
Once Judah woke up from his nap, we packed the car and headed into QC one more time. We went to a different part of the city than we had explored before - the Rue Saint-Jean, which is a hip neighborhood to the west of old town. We got lunch at Bols Et Poke, which was a GREAT poke bowl spot. So fresh and tasty - just what we were wanting. We walked around a little more and found a great coffee shop (the first good coffee we found in QC, although admittedly we didn’t try very hard before this) called Cantook. Judah made some new friends on the street while we sat outside enjoying a nice cup of coffee, and then we headed out to Montreal.
This was a different kind of trip for us. If you’ve read any of our previous travel blogs (some highlights being Seattle, Israel, France, Iceland, Grand Canyon, Italy, England), you might know that we generally do vacations at breakneck pace. We see and do A LOT in the time that we have, often because our trips are generally 5-7 days and we want to make the most of where we are. That’s a great way to do it, BUT when you have a 9-month old in tow things just look a little different. And honestly, I loved it.
This vacation was a more relaxed pace. Yes we could have done more and seen more in QC. Yes we could have eaten at a few more cool spots. Yes we could have spent more time exploring different parts of the city. But that’s not what this trip was about. We spent every morning leisurely at the resort, eating breakfast at the restaurant, hanging out on the porch or at the lake, simply being together and enjoying each other and the beautiful surroundings. Then after first nap, we would go into town or do whatever it was that we were doing for the day. We went at it hard for a few hours, then came back to the resort to finish out the day at the lake. It’s different, but I loved the pace. It’s a lot easier to take it slow when the place you are is so beautiful, and that is exactly what we needed.
Hotels.com - great for booking travel and killer rewards. Might even do a full blog on this at some point.
Expedia - owns hotels.com, also helpful for booking travel
Boulangerie Du Lac - amazing local place for sandwiches and pastries
Le Chic Shack - one of the best burgers I’ve ever had
RICHARD BOILY FARMHOUSE (Sugar Shack) - Maple Syrup farmer, so off the beaten path and hidden that their website only addresses their trout farming and not even their syrup making! SO much fun and they gave an awesome tour of the farm and the syrup making process!
Disclaimer: There is SO much information about this, and I am not, nor claim to be, an expert in the subject. But it is fun to talk about…
Dang, how can I keep this short? In its most basic form - the Enneagram is a personality profiling system that seeks to discern a person’s primary motivations for the decisions they make, the way they act, the way they react, etc. It’s really popular right now in Nashville - I assume there’s a pretty widespread infatuation with it. So what’s the deal? Why do so many find it so interesting? And why do so many of our podcast guests talk about it (if you haven’t noticed a trend yet, you may soon)? Below, I’ll attempt to give you a brief overview, what number I am and what that means, what number Chandler is and what that means, and how it’s influenced our lives.
So What Is It?
Like I wrote above, the Enneagram is a personality system that is based on a person’s primary motivations. People are categorized into numbers 1-9. The numbers vary in what they are called, but the ideas are all the same. This is how I refer to the numbers:
Each number has core motivations that influence how that person acts, reacts, thinks, etc. Each number also has “wings,” which are the numbers on either side that also have influence in that person’s life. For example, a 7 would either also have tendencies of a 6 or an 8 (or sometimes both!). 4s would have influence from 3 and 5, so on and so forth.
Along with your number and wing, you are also a part of a triad of numbers - one is your primary, one is where you go in health, and one is where you go in stress. For instance, 3s, 6s, and 9s are in a triad. 9s go to 3 in health and 6 in stress. 3s go to 6 in health and 9 in stress. 6s go to 9 in health and 6 in stress. Have I lost you yet?
The point is, although this sounds fairly complex, the more I’ve learned about it the more I’ve found it to be strikingly accurate. To accentuate that point, I’ll detail myself and Chandler below.
Photo from: https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/
Jeremy is a 9 - The Peacemaker
So I’m a 9. The primary motivation of a 9 is to keep internal peace. Practically, that means I’m a generally pretty chill person who can generally see most sides to an argument or conflict. We blend in a bit because it’s easier for us to understand the viewpoints of others and see them as valid. I don’t really avoid conflict, but I’d say that I “smooth it out” (mostly in an effort to not have my own peace disturbed). I exhibit both 8 and 1 wings at different times. In short what that means is that although I’m laid back, I am able to take control when needed and also a little OCD.
The good and the bad. 9s are the best number, obviously. Just kidding - each number has amazing strengths and difficult weaknesses. Some strengths of 9s are that we see all sides to conflicts, are generally easy to be around, and can bring peace to otherwise stressful situations for others. The major weakness of a 9 is laziness. We can become so chill during our search for inner peace that we just retract into ourselves.
9s go to 3 in health. I’ve found this to be true. When I am healthy mentally, physically, etc. I have a go-getter mentality and a strong internal drive, which are characteristics of 3s (see below). It’s a good sign to me when I’m feeling this way not only because I’m getting a lot done, but also because that means I’m generally in a good spot internally.
9s go to 6 in stress. This is definitely true too. When I’m stressed or unhealthy mentally, I become insecure and confrontational, which are the not-so-good traits of a 6. Again, this can be a good indicator of how I’m doing - if I notice myself shutting down or being insecure (or more insecure than normal), it’s a sign to me to check what’s going on inside.
Chandler is a 3 - The Achiever
So Chandler is a 3. The primary motivation of a 3 is to appear successful. Practically, that means that Chandler is a go-getter, hard worker, and all-around impressive person (and I’m not just saying that because she’s my wife!). 3s can walk into a room and immediately know how to be impressive, whatever that means, to whoever is there - it’s an innate gift. Chandler is a 4 wing, which means that she also has a strong creative side to her thinking. Her go-getter nature paired with her intense creativity is what makes her such a great interior designer and business owner!
The good and the bad. 3s are always impressive. Some of their strengths include a strong work ethic, a lot of accomplishments, and being generally very likable and driven. The major weakness of a 3 is deceit - both of others and of the self. 3s will sometimes bend the truth in order to appear more successful, or maybe even deceive themselves in this way.
3s go to 6 in health. When things are healthy for a 3, they become more team-focused and more interested in the greater good as opposed to individual goals, which are characteristics of 6s. It’s a good sign when 3s have the big picture and greater good in mind, because that means they are generally in a pretty healthy spot!
3s go to 9 in stress. When things aren’t right mentally or emotionally for a 3, they pull back and shut down - the not-so-good traits of a 9. For Chandler, I can tell when she’s in stress when I see her normal go-getter self shift towards a no-getter self. It’s a sign to me that all isn’t well on the inside.
How We’ve Found It Helpful
I’ll preface this section with this - the Enneagram is a great tool for self-evaluation and interesting conversation, but we try to place an appropriate amount of emphasis on its usefulness. It’s easy to go overboard and sing it’s seemingly unending praises; we try not to do that. We simply see it as a tool in our relational tool bag that helps us understand ourselves and others better.
One way we’ve used the enneagram is in self-evaluation. Like I highlighted above - because we know where we go in health and where we go in stress, the enneagram provides a helpful gauge to our internal health. Similarly, we are able to be on the lookout for our major weaknesses. When I find myself being tempted to retract and exhibit laziness, I know I need to push past that. For me, that laziness can manifest itself in strange ways that I didn’t think of before. For instance, if I’m in a situation that is “disrupting my inner peace,” I may opt to not take an action I know to be right because it accomplishes inner peace faster than taking that action. I’m on the lookout for that now, and it is actually really helpful.
Another way we’ve used the enneagram is in our relationship. Apart from everything I’ve detailed above, there are MORE rules about how the numbers interact with each other. I know you’re thinking, “my head is already spinning with all these dang numbers.” It really does start to make sense eventually. Long story marginally shorter, Chandler and I are better able to evaluate conflicts between us by thinking through the primary motivations for our actions.This helps us to understand each other better and understand how we can best love the other in those moments.
That’s All…For Now…
The Enneagram is a deep dive. It can be a really great tool for you and your family to help understand and love each other better. It has created a lot of really interesting dialogue amongst our friends and family. We try to use it to love each other better. We try to use it to serve our clients better.
I’ve included a few of our favorite enneagram resources below if you’re interested in taking the leap. Be sure to check them out!
And if you’re already into it, we’d love to hear from you about what number you are! Comment below or shout us out on Instagram @peachandpinehome
Recently, we have come to a really cool realization - the majority of the people that keep up with us, whether on Instagram or here on the blog don’t PERSONALLY know us. We wish we could meet you all because we love community and are so thankful that you care to keep up with what we have going on!
Since we can’t meet every single one of you, we thought we’d play a little fun game on the blog today of “5 Things You Might Not Know About Us.” Chandler and I have both answered this, and we hope it gives you a little more insight into who we are!
1. I LOVE golf. Ok, so maybe that’s not really a secret. I started playing golf in college, mostly because my soon-to-be father-in-law played, and it was a good way to bond. I’ve always played sports, so golf offered something competitive that was pretty simple to get into and play for a long, long time. Now, it’s become an embarrassingly big part of my life. It’s how I exercise (and why I exercise), it’s an awesome way to get outside for a few hours, but even more importantly it’s a way that I bond with my dad, my father-in-law, and other close friends and family. Watching the tournaments on TV is just for me though…
2. I have a Masters of Theological Studies (random right??). My faith has always been at the center of who I am, and when I graduated college, I felt like God called me to pursue further education. I didn’t really know why, but I decided to give it a shot. It was a very slow process, but after 6 years and 2 institutions, I finished the degree program and was awarded my Masters. It was a really cool life experience. And no, you may not call me Rev. Quarles.
3. In college, I worked with the basketball team at Belmont University as a student manager. I wasn’t much of a basketball guy before this, but again, I wanted to be around sports and it was a great way to do that. Belmont’s basketball program is a highly respected mid-major program. Even if it involved doing laundry and some not-so glamorous jobs, things like sitting on the bench at the NCAA tournament, winning conference championships, and becoming friends with some great guys was an overall AMAZING experience. I even got a little bling in my time there.
I’m a Harry Potter fan, and I’m not afraid to say it. Now you might think that doesn’t really go along with the whole Masters of Theological Studies thing, but I don’t really see the conflict of interest. I wasn’t a big reader growing up, so in turn watched the movies first (hiss and heckle all you want). I enjoyed the movies, and they became a staple for Chandler and me, a sort of visual comfort food. Then I read the books - the first time I’ve really ever undertaken such a reading endeavor, and I was hooked. Almost more than anything, I’m amazed by the empire and world crazy that HP became. The cultural phenomenon fascinates me. Anyway, enough about that. Here’s a few pictures of Chandler and me at Harry Potter Studios outside London. Please excuse my childlike cheeks…
5. I’ve been to 49 of the 50 states. Historically, I have worked as a road manager and sound engineer for bands, which involved quite a bit of travel! This spring (2019) I checked Hawaii off my list, so now I only have Alaska left. Excitingly, the artist that I still travel with is headed there next summer, so I’ll have all 50 under my belt by the end of 2020! Next to start checking off the 195 countries...
1. I really love to cook. I’m not a gourmet chef or anything, but spending time in the kitchen is one of the only times I can let my brain unwind. I love that cooking requires visual focus, so I have to live in the moment. And I love that there’s a tangible, delicious final result to show for an hour or two of hard work. It brings me so much joy to make meals for people in my life and to try new, healthy recipes. Also, I’ll make anything Danielle Walker puts in a cookbook. And I will probably love it.
2. I am a registered member of the Choctaw Tribe. Both sides of my family have Native American roots! I got college scholarship for it and I receive letters and a yearly Christmas ornament, but I’ve never had a chance to visit the reservation. Maybe someday!
3. I am a history nerd. I love studying and learning about history! Biographies, historical fiction, memoirs, and TV shows about history are my jam. Especially British and American history! I’ll watch the BBC all day. Also, museums. I love history museums. Ok...I’m done geeking out! But really, I think my love for history and love for interior design go hand in hand. Here are a couple pictures from a trip to New Orleans we took with some friends to go to the WWII Museum (an AMAZING museum by the way. Highly recommend!)
4. My first pass at entrepreneurship was when my best friend and I tried to turn my parents house into a paid museum when I was a kid. As I remember it, we organized our toys and my moms collectibles into various rooms of the house and made signs for the yard advertising the opening of our obviously very well curated museum for all the neighbors to come. Needless to say, the business venture never took off.
5. I have a degree in Vocal Performance, of all things. If you know me in real life, this isn’t a surprise. But if you only know me through Peach and Pine, you might be surprised to know that I studied music in college. I’ve been a singer and songwriter for as long as I can remember, and for most of my life, I thought that would be my career. Soon after getting a degree from Belmont University in Commercial Vocal Performance, I realized I no longer wanted to pursue it as a career. But I truly don’t have regrets about that. So many things led me eventually to Interior Design as a passion and career, and I’m thankful for the path that God used to lead me here.
So there you have it…
5 things that you might not have known about each of us. I hope this lets you into our lives just a little bit and helps you feel like you know who your reading about on the blog, listening to on the podcast, and interacting with on social media.
Comment below or reach out on Instagram to let us know a couple things we might not know about you! We’d love to hear from you!
Our son, Judah Guyton Quarles, was born on October 16, 2018 at 8:21pm. He was 10lb 3oz and 21.5” long. We are completely smitten by this little bundle, and it’s still hard to believe he is ours! The labor and delivery was a whirlwind—about five hours start to finish.
Before too much time passes and my memory fades on all the details of his arrival, I wanted to write and share his birth story for any of you who are interested! I see God’s faithfulness through every step of my pregnancy, labor and delivery. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but I look back now with so much joy!
My due date was October 25, and everyone kept telling me that first babies tend to come late, so I had resigned myself to the fact that little man would most likely be coming on my due date or later.
Two weeks before he was due, my parents flew into town from Tampa for five days to help finish the basement, get the house organized and prep the nursery. The Tuesday before they came, my chiropractor commented that she didn’t know if I was going to make it through the weekend before having the baby. I tried to shrug it off, but I also told my parents to be prepared to stay a little longer if little man made his arrival while they were in town.
I stayed really physically active my entire pregnancy, and those few days with my parents were no different. I was painting walls, cleaning house, and working hard to finish up some projects with clients. Even still, I had no labor signs whatsoever. Other than swelling and general third trimester discomfort, everything felt normal and baby seemed comfortable in place.
On Tuesday morning, October 16, I got up at 4:45am to take my parents to the Nashville airport for a 6:15am flight. There were no signs of labor, so I sent them off and told them to prepare to drive back to meet the baby in a week or two.
I came home, ate a bowl of Chex, and snuggled back in bed next to Jeremy for a few more hours of beauty sleep. Our birth center, Baby&Co, asked if I would be a test subject for a new ultrasound machine that they were using to train the midwives, so we had an appointment to visit the birth center at noon for a final preview of our baby before we saw him in the real world.
We indulged and slept until around 10:30, made a quick smoothie and toast, and headed to the birth center. As we pulled into the parking garage, one of the nurses stopped me and said, “You aren’t in labor, are you?” “Nope. Definitely not in labor,” I laughed. We saw our baby on the screen, but once again, I had no labor signs (or indication that he was bigger than normal). He just looked like a cute, full term baby.
With no major plans for the day, we left the birth center and enjoyed a quick coffee shop date before a hair appointment for Jeremy to get a fresh trim.
At around 2:15pm, while at the hair salon, I went to the bathroom and noticed that I lost my mucus plug. This is an indicator that labor is coming, but it often happens days (even weeks) before labor starts. Jeremy and I stared wide-eyed at each other as it started to sink in that my body was preparing for baby to come soon (although we imagined we still had several days to prepare).
Our next stop was Buffalo Exchange, a consignment store downtown, where Jeremy planned on dropping off some old clothes. As we stood in line, at around 2:45pm, I had a feeling that my water broke. “Remain calm,” I thought. “Most likely, your water won’t break before labor starts. This is probably a false alarm.”
The black fabric hid the wet spot on my leggings as I feigned nonchalance and said to Jeremy, “I think my water just broke. Let’s forget about consigning the clothes and go home.”
I wasn’t having any contractions, but I knew that if my water was broken, the midwives at Baby&Co would want to help me get into active labor sometime in the next 24 hours. I couldn’t be sure my water had broken until I could check at home, so we made the 25 minute drive to our house (past the birth center) and distracted ourselves with conversations about work and upcoming plans. I was in denial that I was in labor. I was texting clients and making notes on my to-do list!
Once at home, I went to the bathroom and confirmed that it seemed my water was broken. I started to have cramps that felt like menstrual cramps and pulled out my Mama Natural book to see if this was how contractions felt. “Early labor sign,” I told Jeremy. “I’ll call the midwives, but this is just very early labor.”
I texted my doula, Anna, and said, “I think my water broke but not in labor yet. I’ll keep you posted!”
The Baby&Co midwife on call, Liza, instructed us to make our way back to the birth center just to be sure that my water had broken and come up with a plan for the next 24 hours. She calmly reassured me that I would most likely be back home to labor for a while that evening, but it wouldn’t be a bad idea to go ahead and bring my labor bag with me just in case. We didn’t feel rushed, so we took our time getting things ready and in the car. Jeremy ate a bowl of soup, and we decided to make a stop at the Juice Bar on the way so that I could get a quick jolt of energy since I hadn’t had a full meal all day.
Once we left the house, I was beginning to time my “cramps”, and it seemed like they were coming every two minutes or so. I was in denial. I thought, surely, these couldn’t be contractions because they were coming TOO FAST. I had to focus, but I could still talk through each contraction. We headed toward the birth center through rush hour traffic and made a smoothie pit stop. I had two or three contractions in the Juice Bar, but I kept a stiff upper lip and barreled through in denial.
We got to the birth center at around 5pm, and as I stepped out of the car, I had such a strong contraction that I couldn’t walk inside. Once it was over, I took a deep breath and waddled in, greeted my favorite receptionist, Keeli, and was led to an exam room. During the quick exam, the rest of my water broke (in a gush), we learned I was 6cm dilated, and I had three contractions. They were coming so quickly, and I was no longer able to talk through them.
My midwife looked at Jeremy and I and said, calmly but firmly, “This baby is coming soon. You’re not going home.”
Jeremy and I looked at each other in shock and tried to process how quickly things were happening. We texted our doula to come as soon as possible, and she made her way to us in rush hour traffic. I put on the gown I had packed and slowly walked to the labor suite while Jeremy frantically informed our parents and a few other folks that I was in active labor and this baby was coming quickly! My parents had only been back home for a few hours, but we told them to pack up the car and make the 12 hour drive back to us!
By this point, my contractions were intense and so close together that I could barely string a few sentences together before the next would start. I wanted Jeremy right by my side for each one, and he comforted me and coached me through contractions like an old pro.
The midwives scrambled to fill the tub and to get me properly admitted while helping to coach me through each contraction.
The next few hours were intense and overwhelming, but also some of the most empowering of my life. I pretty much skipped early labor and went straight into active labor and quickly into transition. I expected a long early labor and the chance to gather myself mentally in between contractions; however, by the time I realized that I was truly in labor, contractions were coming so quickly that I could barely take a sip of water or form a coherent thought before the next wave would begin. I kept my eyes closed most of the time and moved from laboring on the toilet (oh that wonderful heated bidet!) to laboring in the tub.
As I focused and barreled my way through, two thoughts filled my mind.
This is way harder than I expected.
I feel so loved and supported right now.
Jeremy was at my back rubbing my shoulders and speaking encouragement, our wonderful doula was rubbing essential oils on my neck, offering me water and quoting scripture right when I needed it, and the midwives were taking care of all things medical while coaching me through breathing and cheering me on with “You can do this. You’re doing an amazing job. You’ve got this.”
There was a time when I yelled, “That pressure, not pain, stuff is crap!” in response to the times I had been told during birth classes to think of it as “pressure, not pain.” It definitely felt like pain to me! I handled some contractions with more stamina than others, but in the midst of the intensity, the exhaustion and the feeling that I so badly wanted just a short break to breathe, I felt so empowered by the team of people around me. There were moments I felt like I couldn’t do it, but I knew that there was no turning back. This baby was coming!
After about 2 hours of labor, I was ready to push. The midwives were struggling to find the baby’s heartbeat when I was in the tub, so they asked me to move to the bed for pushing. I pushed for 50 minutes, and it was HARD WORK, but baby boy made progress with each push, and when he came out screaming at 8:21pm—a little over five hours from the moment my water broke—every moment of hard work was worth it.
Jeremy was holding my left leg during pushing and watched the whole thing (he was also the recipient of all the birth fluid when baby came out), and his first response was “Wow. That baby is a lot bigger than I expected.” The midwives remarked the same. This was a BIG baby!
10lb 3oz of chubby newborn goodness. Jeremy and I held him tight and reveled in those first moments as a family of three. I so wanted to have an unmediated birth, and as we looked at each other and at our new little bundle, I couldn’t stop thinking, “We did it.” It truly was a WE. Jeremy was my biggest supporter and a top notch coach and cheerleader through every moment of pregnancy and labor. I couldn’t have done it without him.
As a result of Judah’s big size, his shoulders tore me pretty badly when they made their way out. First and second degree tears can be repaired at Baby&Co, but my tear was a third degree and it was severe enough to require an anesthesiologist and surgical team, so I prepared to be transferred to Vanderbilt Hospital for a postpartum repair and recovery. An EMS team loaded me onto a stretcher and took me on the five minute ride in the ambulance while Jeremy quickly assumed Dad mode and loaded Judah into his car seat to make the trip to Vandy (all while still wearing his outfit that was covered in every manner of birth fluid. Pro Dad move, right there).
I was taken to labor and delivery and introduced to my new team of nurses, and Jeremy, Judah, our Doula, and our Midwife met me in the room a few minutes later.
The next few hours were a blur. I met my new nurse, the baby’s nurses, the anesthesiology team who were going to give me a spinal tap for my repair, and an OB team who would perform the repair. It took several hours to get organized for the surgery, and in the meantime, I hemorrhaged and nearly fainted. That was possibly the scariest moment of the whole process!
Once I was given the spinal tap, the repair took about 45 minutes. I couldn’t feel a thing below my waist, and I was able to snuggle Judah the whole time. I was determined not to have medication during labor, but once that baby was out, I happily took that anesthesia! The actual repair was the easiest part of the process!
My doula, Anna, was an invaluable part of those postpartum hours. She held my hand when I almost fainted, helped rub coconut oil and eucalyptus on my back when I had an adverse reaction to the narcotics in my spinal tap, and was a sweet presence through the evening.
We stayed at Vandy for about 36 hours. Despite the fact that a hospital transfer was not what we hoped for in the process, we were so grateful for every doctor and nurse who cared for me and Judah. We felt so well taken care of!
Judah is happy and healthy, and we are so in love with our precious boy.
Now for a few Q&As about our whole experience:
Why the name Judah Guyton Quarles?
Judah means “praise,” and I feel that word so accurately describes the season of spiritual growth Jeremy and I have walked through during the past year of pregnancy. Also, we knew we wanted a “J” name after his daddy and granddaddy—Jeremy Guyton and John Guyton. We loved the biblical references to the “Lion of Judah” (Jesus) as we pray for our boy to be brave like a lion and to love Jesus!
Would you recommend Baby&Co?
Over and over again, yes. If you live in a city with a Baby&Co birth center location, and you’re interested in an alternative to a traditional hospital environment, Baby&Co is truly amazing. From my regular yearly well-woman visits before I got pregnant through every prenatal visit, childbirth class, and the delivery experience, I wholeheartedly recommend Baby&Co. Not only is the peaceful, beautiful facility an ideal environment in which to give birth, but also the entire prenatal process is fabulous. I love the benefits of a highly trained medical staff and close proximity and relationship to the hospital, but with the feeling of a comfortable, friendly environment. I never wait more than a couple of minutes for an appointment, and by the end of my pregnancy, I felt like every appointment was a visit with friends. We were required, as first time parents, to take a 6-week birth class, and we loved it. I felt so well-informed and educated about every step of pregnancy, delivery, and postpartum recovery. Jeremy and I were given all the tools we needed for success. Even though I had to transfer to Vanderbilt directly after labor, the Baby&Co relationship with Vandy is so well-established that the process was smooth and relatively easy.
Would you recommend a doula?
Once again, YES. If you aren’t familiar with the role of a doula, she is basically a labor assistant for the mom. The midwife or OB is there to take care of all things medical and make sure that baby comes into the world safely; the doula is there to make sure mama’s needs are taken care of. A doula isn’t a requirement, and she is hired separately from a midwife or OB. Our doula, Anna Baskin with Nova Birth Services, is an angel and felt like having a friend alongside Jeremy and me during the process. As first time parents, having a doula was such a blessing!
What did you do to prepare for labor and delivery?
I worked really hard during pregnancy to prepare both mentally and physically for labor, delivery and recovery. I exercised (both walking and light weight training at the gym) 3-4x per week throughout pregnancy. I did a lot of pelvic floor strengthening exercises like squats on an upside down bosu ball. I switched from sitting on a desk chair to sitting on an exercise ball. One of the best things I did during my pregnancy was seeing a chiropractor who specializes in Webster Technique (especially designed for pregnant mamas). I can’t say enough good things about prenatal chiropractics! I don’t see a chiropractor normally, but I credit my wonderful chiropractor for helping me with pregnancy aches and pains, helping me recover well from my car accident, and preparing my body for a quick, uncomplicated labor and delivery! She is amazing. If you’re in the Nashville area, check out Dr. Rousseau at KydKyro. She is also incredible for new babies!
Would you do an unmedicated birth again?
Yes. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but I will do it again. Jeremy thinks I’m crazy, but I know that the benefits outweigh the negatives for me. I also have postpartum endorphins to thank for my rose colored memories of the process. I look back on it as such a beautiful thing! Now would I willingly do an unmedicated birth in a hospital instead of a birth center? I would rather not. I loved being in an environment where not only is an epidural not an option, but the entire space is designed to be peaceful and to help manage pain in a natural way. The midwives are all trained to help you cope and make it through the process of natural delivery.
That said, the truth of the matter is that there is no easy way to get a baby out. I have so much respect for every woman who gives birth—medicated, unmedicated, or c-section mamas. Everyone deserves a trophy!
How is recovery going?
Because of my third degree tear, my recovery has been a little bit harder than expected, but now (three weeks later), I’m doing really well! I remember thinking in the hospital that I didn’t know if I would ever feel normal again, but I’m feeling more like myself every day! My worst fear going into birth was that I would have a bad tear...and I did, but you know what? I survived!
How is Jeremy doing?
I know I am the one who actually gave birth, but the labor and delivery process was taxing on Jeremy, too! He was such a rock for me, but I know it was hard for him to watch me in pain. Also, the process moved so quickly that he felt really overwhelmed by it all. Not to mention, he had to take the baby to the hospital without me less than an hour after birth! But despite it all, he entered fatherhood like a pro. Watching him become a dad has been one of the sweetest things in the world. I could cry just thinking about it! We keep reminding each other that we are a team. We are in this together. And we need to keep putting each other first (even before our new little guy). Jeremy is so good at putting me first and taking care of his family. Doing this with him is such a joy.
How is Judah doing?
He is the most awesome baby we know. He is laid back like his dad, undeniably adorable, and so much fun to have around already. We have had some eating/weight loss/breastfeeding issues that led to a little procedure for Judah to correct a tongue and lip tie, but we are working through it!
Thanks for reading through all these nitty gritty details!