Back in (Maternity) Black

Back in (Maternity) Black

October has brought a crisp chill to Georgia. Even Covid can’t stop me from enjoying my pumpkin spice latte or wrapping up in my favorite fall scarf. The season changing has inspired me to do some changing of my own. A return to things that truly excite me.

I know that I am no different from anyone reading this. 2020 has been a challenging and often overwhelming year for us all. For me personally it has been a year of deep loss, isolation, relational struggle, growth, happiness, and great surprise. The good, the bad, and the lonely…this year has challenged me in emotional ways that I was not prepared for.

In January, I lost my father. The first man I ever loved. My daddy. In the midst of planning my son’s 2nd birthday party here in Georgia, I got the devastating phone call from Indiana that my father was dying. Bo and I loaded the kids into the car and drove through the night in the pouring rain to get there in time to say goodbye. We arrived within minutes of his passing. I’ve seen death before. But seeing him there in the hospital bed struggling to breathe and swollen from his failed body, it hurt worse than I imagined. My words seemed to fail me in the moment. How do you say goodbye to the man who raised you? The man that coached your sports teams and sat front and center in every dance performance, video camera in hand. The man that taught you how to be brave and independent. The man that held you when teenage boys broke your heart. I still don’t know the answer to that. My goodbye and my words were just not enough. And my heart is still raw from missing him.

Shortly after his death, a tornado devastated our neighborhood in Nashville. Our home (and thankfully the homes of our best friends/family) remained standing. The drastic loss of life and property in our neighborhood has had lasting effects on our community. And of course, shortly after the tornado devastation, Covid reared its ugly head. For Bo in I in Georgia, that meant many nights/weeks of Bo being partially quarantined on base at Ft. Benning. I was quarantined at home with two small babies. Navigating work, babies, sanity, health, grief, and isolation left us both incredibly depleted. It was a very difficult and dark time for our marriage. A marriage that we both want and strive to make exceptional. We both had nothing to give yet needed more than our share.

The month of May seemed to bring life back into a pretty grim and harsh year. We spent time with our family and found renewed joy, partnership, and admiration in our marriage. The world seemed to be slowly returning to normal and it filled me with hope. We excitedly discussed our personal and professional goals for the road ahead. Which for us, included waiting a bit for baby number three. As most of you know, we love being parents and want more children but we were excited to put that on the back burner for a bit and focus on the life in front of us. As you probably also know…God had other plans for us. A missed period and two pink lines confirmed…we would actually NOT be waiting for another baby. We are pregnant with baby number 3 and due in March.

Even when you want another child, a surprise/unplanned pregnancy can be a real shock to the system. Add in pregnancy hormones, severe morning sickness, and two emotionally charged toddlers and you can imagine the chaos. It was a hard beginning to my third pregnancy journey and one that I still struggle with on especially difficult days. I am incredibly grateful and excited about this new little life growing inside of me. As I’m entering month 5 of pregnancy, I love seeing my belly grow and feeling his/her little kicks and movements. For the first time, we will be waiting until birth to find out the gender of our new family member. We are both excited about experiencing such a momentous surprise. As this little one has surprised us from day one…it seems only fitting.

Bo has just finished his first command position in the Army and has recently started a new role here in Georgia. We are both hoping that this new position allows him more freedom and time. My husband is the hardest working man I know. He’s passionately attacking his real estate investment career while still giving 110% of his attention and care to the men and women he serves in the military. I see him really pushing himself to do things outside of his comfort zone and I am constantly in awe when I see him in action. Outside of his professional and personal goals, he is also a loving husband and attentive father. Probably his most challenging and demanding role of all.

So that’s what we’ve been up to. And life is moving forward. I like to think of myself as a “New Yorker”. Although I only lived there for 6 years, that time in my life really impacted who I am as a person. When I used to fly home to Indiana from NYC, my father would often tease me for only wearing black. I still support the chic and always appropriate choice to wear black (and leather jackets for that matter) but lately the thought of my father teasing me has brought happy tears to my eyes. And it’s time. Time to return to myself. I am back in black. Or at least…back in all of my black stretchy maternity clothes. I’m excited to write more. To share more with my family, friends, and my community. To grow more. And to experience and embrace this new life as a mother of three.

Tara Layne

My Beautiful Storm

My Beautiful Storm

There’s just something about the rain. I can remember as a girl, my father would drag me out of the house to watch a storm roll in. We would watch as the clouds turned grey and wait until lightening lit up the sky. I would scream as the rain poured over me and he would laugh, occasionally pushing me to stay outside and experience it. I would run inside as soon as I could only to turn around and watch him fearlessly stand in the storm. I will never forget watching those storms with my father.

As a grown woman, rain seems to follow me. It rained on my wedding day. It has rained on almost every occasion I’ve planned for myself. On August 26th, as I drove to my last appointment with my midwife, the clouds began to roll in. We hadn’t seen rain here in Georgia for weeks. Maybe longer. But as I parked my car and walked into the hospital, the sky opened up and rain drops started falling. That is when I knew, she was coming.

I didn’t share my intuition with my midwife. But after examining me, she confirmed that our baby girl would be here shortly. I was elated. Excited that my body was preparing to give birth. As a woman, I am truly amazed of what our bodies are capable of. I had waited 9 long days after my due date to go into labor with Camden. And with her due date falling on the following day, I was filled with renewed confidence in my body’s capability.

I had decided months before Georgia’s birth that I wanted her to enter the world surrounded by the strong and beautiful women that Bo and I are lucky enough to call family. My mother Myrrl Layne, Bo’s mother Maggie, and our sisters Mackenzie and Nicole. There are so many layers and memories that each of these women contribute to my life. Far too many to list here. But when I envisioned my baby girl’s future, I thought of us all sharing the memory of her birth together. And I imagined drawing strength from my tribe as I brought her into this world. Looking back, I know those choices led to the deep connection we all now share and I couldn’t imagine it otherwise.

After I left my midwife, I spent the afternoon with my Mother and Maggie who were already in town. We laughed, we ate, we played with Camden. We enjoyed the day. As the afternoon progressed, our baby girl started her journey into this world. She came on quickly with contractions starting around 4pm at only 4 minutes apart. Bo arrived home shortly after. He had taken Command only a few days earlier and the hours were already adding up quickly. I labored in my bedroom and showered as my family made dinner.

When the contractions hit the 2 minute apart mark, we decided to leave for the hospital. I remember seeing my baby boy as he was getting ready for bed. Blissfully unaware that his life would never be the same when he awoke the next morning. I knew the gift he was getting by having a sibling in his life, but that didn’t seem to numb the pain I felt saying goodbye to my only baby. The little boy that made me a Mommy. His Mommy. That he now had to share. My heart ached as I kissed him one last time as my only child. I told him about the beautiful year we had together. Just he and I. And how it was the best year of my life. He smiled as if he knew.

As we arrived to the hospital the pain had overwhelmed me. I labored there in the dark hallways of a closed military hospital. Bo was by my side encouraging me of my strength and coaching me through the pain. Somewhere around midnight, we were admitted at 7cm. It is a miracle to be pregnant. It is a miracle to be moments away from meeting your child. My sisters and mothers arrived just in time for me to begin pushing. Seeing them all walk through the door of my hospital room renewed my energy. I was ready to meet our daughter.

At 5:36 am, on a rainy summer morning, on her due date, surrounded by family, I gave birth to my daughter Georgia Layne. I will never forget the immediate love and appreciation I felt when they laid her on my chest. Bo and I were overcome with emotion when we saw her for the first time. She was a large 9lb, 3oz baby girl that immediately quieted when she was placed on my chest. She was here. This little person that I’d been planning for and dreaming about for over a year was in my arms. And it was perfection.

Just remembering that day, isolated from what has followed, is how I like to think of it. I’d like to tell you that those feelings of love, accomplishment, gratitude, appreciation, safety continued and only multiplied from there. But that isn’t what happened. Shortly after her birth, we returned to the hospital frightened for our daughters health. What followed…the testing, the ambulance transfer, the fear, the loneliness, the guilt…that has overwhelmed my first few months as a mother of two. I have often compared these feelings to drowning.

Thankfully Georgia is healthy. And beautiful. She loves to sleep, smiles when she sees her Papa, and holds her neck up like a pro. It has been the highlight of my life to see my two children together. I love them both beyond measure. I wanted to share our whole story, not just the parts that are easy to write. I hope talking about it more heals my heart and sharing it with you, reminds you that you’re not alone. I hope that whatever journey you’re on right now, that someone see’s you. I hope that you are brave enough to let someone in and that they are fearless enough to hold you through your storm.

Tara Layne

Baby Girl

Baby Girl

Little girl,

Your brother woke up early this morning. I went into his room and rocked him hoping he would drift back to sleep and I could return to my bed. In the dark early hours of the morning, you started moving your little body against his. I sat there in his rocking chair feeling you both in my arms and committing the moment to my memory. Some day when I am holding your children, I want to be able to recall this. To look back to this morning and remember the overwhelming rush of love and gratitude that I felt for my own little ones.

As I sat in the dark, I thought of our journey together over these last nine months. The excitement and anticipation of wanting and trying for you. The gratefulness for each growth milestone you passed. The joy of knowing your movements and hearing your heartbeat. I will cherish those memories above all the other less appealing pregnancy woes. What a gift it has been to experience your body entangled within mine.

The thoughts of you drifted to my own mother. Many years ago she sat in this very rocking chair with me inside of her. Feeling my movements and envisioning me in her arms. That thought hurt. Moments pass and I am reminded how quickly vivid memories seem to fade. I hope she can still feel with certain clarity, what it was like to hold this love inside of yourself. And I can only pray for you and I that we get to create the lifetime of memories and the deep connection that my mother and I have experienced together.

Your birth is nearing. As I held you both and lost myself in thought, I felt my body ache. You are making progress. Your brother had given up on sleep at this point so I brought him into my bed. We got under the covers and I told him about you again. He is too little to understand but his life will be changing too. He will now have a sister. A friend for life. And you will have a very sweet and tall big brother to protect you. You sure are lucky to have him.

We are ready for you little girl.


Georgia on my Mind

Georgia on my Mind

The squirmy and sweet little girl inside my belly must be a dancer. While she and I are both gaining weight rapidly, I am reminded that my body is not my own. There is a little girl growing and starting her journey in this world. A world full of love, beauty, heartbreak, and hopefully…a lot of dancing.

Slowly, the guest room is emptying and a nursery is taking shape. It’s the one room that I am looking forward to organizing. Most women enjoy the second trimester, but I don’t agree. The third trimester carries all the magic and excitement of pregnancy. Strangers congratulating you and touching your belly, shopping for baby clothes and organizing the nursery, and then of course counting down and anticipating the birth of this new little miracle. Such a magical time.

I am still adjusting to our life here in Georgia. Bo has been in a training course that is nearing completion and many of the people we have met are off to their next duty assignments. Stories of hectic moves and looming deployments have become common chatter amongst our group of friends. Thankfully for us, Bo will be taking command of a company here at Ft. Benning. We feel very blessed to know that he will be staying close to home for the foreseeable future and I don’t envy the strong wives that will be kissing their husband’s goodbye over the next year.

As our friends adjust to their new assignments and prepare to leave Georgia, I am preparing to give birth to my baby girl. As it was in DC with Camden, we will start our new family life without friends and family. A truth that doesn’t get easier with each new occurrence. If all goes as planned, our mothers and sisters will make the trip to Georgia for her birth. We will spend a week of quality time together breathing in her new smell and welcoming her into our tribe. Too shortly after her arrival, our family will leave and Bo and I will be adjusting to life alone with 2 under 2.

Living life hundreds of miles from our people weighs heavily on our hearts. Making new friends is imperative to our happiness in these new places. However, I find it very challenging to make new friends while pregnant. This pregnancy specifically has been very challenging on my body and I haven’t made the effort to connect with new friends. Something I desperately want as I bring this new life into the world.

There are only so many conversations my husband will endure about pregnancy and nursery decor. Only so many times he can nod and smile empathetically to my hormonal reactions on a daily basis. He’s a strong man…to be the only friend and family member of a very pregnant Georgia woman. I try to remember that when he needs the occasional “bro” time. And he tries to remember that as he opens his 4th beer and watches me begrudgingly sip pink lemonade. We are in this together.

As our baby girl reaches the final stages of development and prepares to join our family, we too prepare for our new life. One where we push ourselves to grow. Not just the growth that happens to an expanding family, but one of choice and intention for change. In new and existing relationships alike.

I look forward to liking you Georgia. I look forward to feeling at home here and finding “our spots” around this city. To seeing my husband’s investment goals here become a reality and learning how to be a working mother of two. To meeting new friends that will make life here in Georgia so much sweeter. I look forward to doing it all. Hopefully…while sipping a glass of wine.

Tara Layne