Enzo’s Birth Story – Happy First Birthday!

Note: Photographs below might not be suitable for those sensitive to blood or extreme cuteness.

Today marks a very important day in our family. One whole year has passed since Enzo’s birth. I don’t know why I haven’t written down the details of his birth until now. It’s hard to compile facts and emotions that are so close to my heart, but I don’t want to forget. So here I go.

Travis and I, always talked about having a handful of kids. But when we discovered I have a bicornuate (heart-shaped) uterus, we quickly realized that none of this is in our control. Pregnancy wasn’t easy with Lucia, but she came to us full-term and perfect. So we didn’t anticipate the roller coaster ride we would be on this time around.
My third trimester was when I started to feel well enough to go on walks and exercise at the gym. I really enjoyed being pregnant. I was keeping busy with client meetings, crafts with Lucia, nesting and enjoying the sunshine we would get after days of rain.

At 33 weeks, I was fairly certain my water broke (7 weeks before my due date). We went to the hospital late on a Wednesday night, and after doing an exam they determined I was fine, and sent me home. I spent all of Thursday at home taking it easy (as easy as you can with a busy 2-year-old). I was absolutely positive my water broke and decided to wait until Friday morning. I didn’t want to be sent away again! On Friday morning, I drove myself to the hospital, and they admitted me. Finding out that my water actually broke, and that my baby would be coming much, MUCH sooner than we expected or planned was terrifying news to get when you’re all by yourself. It was a slow enough leak that they wanted to wait until I went into active labor before delivering, ensuring our baby had the most time possible for growth and development in the womb.

I had so much to do — spring cleaning, organizing, emails — but all I could think of was all the time I was losing with Lucia. I was losing the time I planned to better prepare her for the arrival of her brother. It all became very scary and real to me. I wasn’t prepared, mentally or emotionally. I was losing nearly two months to prepare! Fear and doubt were creeping in.

Later on that day, Travis brought Lucia to see me. Seeing them made all my fears disappear for a moment. I wanted Travis to be with Lucia as much as possible so she could still have a little bit of normalcy. So I was alone most of the time in the hospital. When we let family and friends know what was happening, phone calls and messages came flooding in. So many prayers and positive energy were sent our way. I was so grateful and felt so loved. It was very difficult for me to talk to anyone other than Travis, though. I felt so vulnerable, and I just tried to hold it together, as I prayed our little boy would stay in for just a bit longer.

Being on official bed rest at the hospital (a possibility that loomed over both pregnancies), meant that I had a lot of time on my hands. It was so weird to not be cleaning something, getting work done or playing with our girl. Doctors and nurses were in and out of my room all day, so it was hard for me to actually relax.

Saturday was supposed to be my baby shower, so my loving and thoughtful girlfriends threw me onein the cafeteria at the hospital. My dear friend even came to do my hair beforehand. Because you know, sitting in a wheelchair, in a hospital gown isn’t the most glamorous look. I wasn’t up for visitors that weren’t close family the rest of my hospital stay, but my baby shower was a huge bright spot during those dark days. (Literally and metaphorically. It was so rainy and yucky outside!)

The days seem to blend together. I received two steroid shots to help the development of the baby’s brain and lungs. They also gave me two ultrasounds to ensure I had enough amniotic fluid for him and to check his weight. They were pretty sure he would weigh between two and a half and three pounds. They talked about the NICU, breathing tubes, and a myriad of concerns premature babies can have.

All I could do was pray, drink a ton of water (amniotic fluid can regenerate!), and try my best to not let stress get to me. I received a blessing that comforted my heart. Comfort I so desperately needed. We had to hope for the best, but we were prepared for the worst. This helped clear my mind.

I had contractions for a couple of days, but they were not progressing. Late Monday night, I realized they were becoming much stronger, but was so tired, I tried to sleep it off. The nurse came in to check me at 2:00am, and she could feel his leg coming down. Within a minute, my room was filled with half a dozen nurses, prepping me for surgery, asking me questions, and moving me to a gurney. I called Travis in shock and sobbing, hardly able to get the words out. I told him to hurry. The on-call doctor was ready to put me completely under and perform the surgery without my doctor or husband. I cried as silently as I could and told the nurse I wasn’t ready. When the nurse contacted my doctor, he told them to have the anesthesiologist give me a spinal block, and to WAIT. He was going to be there and they were going to wait for Travis, too. He was out of town when I was admitted to the hospital and came home from his trip a few days early. What a saint.

It wasn’t long before I was on the O.R. table, getting my spinal block while laying down. The anesthesiologist said he hadn’t performed one in this position for a long time. My previous experience was horrible, so to hear him say that wasn’t comforting, at all. A couple minutes passed, and my doctor walked in. I had been crying, and when I saw him, he held my hand, looked me in the eyes and told me that everything was going to be alright. Immediately, a calmness swept over me. The doctor that delivered Lucia, was on his sabbatical, and his son (my current doctor) took over his practice. I am so grateful to those two men that safely brought my babies into this world, with such care. I’ll always have a soft spot for both of them.

Travis walked in the O.R. just as they started, and I finally accepted the fact that our boy was going to be delivered. It would be ok, because he was by my side. There were still so many unknowns, but I knew we would be ok. This whole pregnancy, I kept reminding myself that no two pregnancies are alike. Neither are the babies. I am grateful for this, because I knew our son would be whisked away, and I wouldn’t have that same bonding I had with Lucia in recovery.

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When our doctor announced our baby was about to be born, I held my breath. Often times, preemies don’t cry when they come out of the womb and have to be hooked up to oxygen. But just a split second later, we heard a loud wail. I caught a glimpse of him, and through my tears, I could tell this child was not as small as we had anticipated. They cleaned him up and let me touch him. He was crying, and when our cheeks touched, he calmed down, immediately. It was magic. This child was ours. He was a miracle from God (in many ways). I couldn’t be happier, in that moment. Travis looked at me and said, “Enzo?” and I said, “Sure.” We had a hard time coming up with names, but that one was the only one we both liked. We hadn’t even talked about it much, because well, we thought we had more time! But knowing him now, it suits him perfectly.

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It wasn’t long before they took him up to NICU. Our doctor walked Travis up to check in on Enzo while I was taken to recovery. Because I had a bad reaction to the medication after giving birth to Lucia, they gave me something that wasn’t as powerful, which made recovery much worse. I was in excruciating pain, and the medication just wouldn’t work fast enough.

Travis came back after what seemed like a decade. He was holding up an index card that read: “5#5oz 18in”. I could hardly see and was confused at what he was showing me. After Travis asked if I could read it, I quickly realized what it was. Our baby that was measuring normal for 33 weeks was actually the size of many full-term babies (on the smaller side of the spectrum). Lucia was 7lbs 10oz, so it seemed odd that he would be this huge baby, considering they carried almost identically. We both just cried tears of joy and tears of gratitude. It truly was a miracle.

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Enzo stayed in the NICU while I was at the hospital. I was so eager to see him and to be physically able to care for both of my children. I quickly started walking around my room, then the hall, and then the wing. The quicker I got moving, the quicker I would be able to care for two children. We would walk to the NICU to deliver the tiny drops of milk I pumped and spend hours holding him, skin to skin. I left the hospital a day early, because I so desperately missed my Lucia and only saw Enzo a few times a day, anyway. So we made plans with family and friends, to arrange babysitting, and rides for me to be with Enzo in the morning, returning in the evening with Travis.

From the first day, Enzo was able to nurse, which was somewhat surprising to us because he was so small. When I wasn’t there feeding him, I left milk for them. He got stronger and stronger by the day, and we prayed fervently that he would come home with us, very soon. They warned us it would likely be a month, at a minimum. But he was only being monitored. There were no issues with his development or how is body functioned. They simply wanted to be sure his heart and lungs worked and that he could put on weight. After a couple of days under the lamp his bilirubins went down, and they were able to put him in the intermediate care nursery. After a day, he was able to maintain his temperature, so he was able to come out of the incubator, and into an open-air crib. Every day was an answered prayer.

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We were told on day eight that he would likely be able to go home the following day. We were shocked and happy (and maybe a bit nervous) to bring him home. We called our dear friend, Jeff, to see if he would be able to capture Enzo coming home and meeting Lucia for the first time. This all had taken such a toll on Lucia, but true to her sweet nature, she was so thrilled to meet him for the first time.

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It was agony for me to have my children separated for this period, but I am so grateful we have their first meeting on film. It is easily, one of the most special moments of my entire life. They are truly best friends, and watching them grow closer every day, is my favorite part of being their mama.

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This past year has been beautiful. It has been filled with so much joy, some heartache, trials and challenges (as life is and should be for our growth). I wouldn’t change it in any way. The journey to motherhood has not been easy, and I have left many of those very personal challenges out. But I realize, how fortunate I am to have these two beautiful, healthy, thriving children. I have written these words because I believe there is power in sharing our stories with each other. I am a visual person, but sometimes photos don’t tell the whole story. I want our Enzo to know, from the very beginning of his life, he has been a fighter. There was a time early on when we were pretty positive I was no longer pregnant. In every way, he has surprised us, time after time. He’s one tough little guy, and I am so grateful I have been given the opportunity to nurture and love him.

Happy first birthday, my sweet Enzo Travis. We love you so very much.

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You love to say: papa, mama, bubba, hi, bye, dudu (Lulu). You give the most generous kisses and hugs. You’re so close to walking, and I know it will be when YOU want to. For now, you would probably win an Olympic medal for speed crawling. You’re super stealth and a master of getting into things and creating messes in less than a second. You have 6 adorable teeth that are razor sharp and a super strong grip. You’ve been strong your whole life. You are rarely displeased, and you love to growl and squeal when you’re happy.

You love to observe your surroundings and clap. You are simply a happy baby. I’m pretty sure the only time you cry are when you are hungry and mama just isn’t fast enough, or if you close your fingers in a drawer. You love any type of ball, and your favorite hobby is slamming your Nerf baseball bat on the floor. Sissy is your best friend, and you two make each other laugh constantly. I love to hear you when you’re both going down for a nap or bedtime, and you laugh and giggle with each other. No one makes her happier and vice versa. You are a great blessing to our family, and we’re so happy you’re ours.

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Big Announcement!

Also, if you haven’t, check out when we announced we were pregnant with Lucia.

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The Shumates in Argentina : Buenos Aires

After spending time in Northern Argentina, we returned to Buenos Aires to explore the city often considered the Paris of South America. While this title illustrates a portion of the city’s charm, it fails to capture the unique culture and personality that are easy to fall in love with and hard to forget.

We visited the house of Travis’ all-time favorite singer, Carlos Gardel, and visited the sacred grounds of La Bombonera, the stadium of football giants Boca Juniors. We wandered through the historic neighborhood of San Telmo and the chic barrio of Palermo.

We were inspired as we walked through El Caminito and La Boca, marveling at the beautiful colors in the port neighborhood. Our favorite area was the beautiful Recoleta, with gorgeous Mansard roofs, classic cafes and friendly porteños. We adored our time in Argentina, and we look forward to returning in the near future.
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Travis’ close friend, Pato, and his new wife, Micaela, visited us from Bahía Blanca.
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Buenos Aires Recoleta Cementerio Jaquilyn Shumate
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Buenos Aires Museo Gardel Almagro
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The Shumates in Argentina : Salta and Jujuy

Check back later this week for Part Two: Buenos Aires.

Travis: I lived in northern Argentina from 2003 through 2005 while serving a mission for our church. While living, working and serving there, I fell in love with the culture and the people. I have always longed to return. Fortunately enough, Jaquilyn shared this dream. We’ve wanted to return for years, and like so many dreams, there were always things that got in the way. Earlier this year, we finally made the decision that nothing would get in our way, and we immediately booked tickets.

We knew we couldn’t go without Lucia. It would have been hard to be without her, and we firmly believe that adventures bring families together. We knew we had to do it simply — backpacks, a stroller and our cameras. Nothing else. Our approach was to experience the culture as a family, not tourists. We stayed in apartments and hotels that had a homelike feeling. We established a few goals of what we wanted to see and do, but left our schedule open and flexible for change.

After traveling a full day, we arrived in Buenos Aires. We ate some empanadas and alfajores (gluten free for Jaquilyn) and went to bed. Early the next day we traveled north to Salta, my favorite city in the world. We spent a few wonderful days in Salta and Purmamarca, Jujuy, before returning to Buenos Aires. We ate lots of beef, met up with several friends, hiked, explored and photographed the area. Salta is known for its beauty (Salta la Linda), colonial architecture, indigenous culture and picturesque location at the foot of the Andes. Its people are friendly and warm, hospitable and engaging. Jaquilyn and Lucia fell in love with the city that I adore, and we look forward to our return.
Two lifesavers — our Bob stroller and Tom Bihn Aeronaut backpack.
Jaquilyn: The greatest orange juice of my life.
The glamorous life of changing diapers.
This kind señora blessed Lucia.
Travis: My good friend, Marito, and his lovely wife Marina.
Travis: My new friends, Eduardo and Luisina, visiting from Buenos Aires. We bonded over our shared love of Boca Juniors (La Mitad Más Uno!)
We introduced our iPad to Lucia for the first time on our trip — specifically for times when it would help prevent a meltdown (like a two hour car ride without a carseat, an extremely rare commodity in South America.)
Canon 5D mkii and iPhone.

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Lucia : One Whole Year

My sweet little Lucia,

One year ago today, I held you in my arms for the first time. Everything I imagined it would be dwarfed in comparison. It was the most spiritual experience I’ve ever experienced. I have never felt more love for anyone or anything than I did in that moment for you and for Papa. And those feelings for my little family have only grown with every single day.

Papa got to see you before me, but I could hear you. You had the sweetest cry with VERY strong lungs! From that very first day, you have been so alert and aware. The nurses that took care of us always commented on how alert and bright eyed you were, with such a perfect, sweet face. I couldn’t agree more. Papa and I loved just staring at you for hours while you stared back at us with those bright eyes of yours.

When you were in my tummy, I would have very strong feelings of what your personality would be like. In my mind you were sweet, lovely and sociable. But you were also feisty, determined and stubborn. And oh boy was I right. I wasn’t right about everything, though. We thought for sure you would have dark hair and complexion with of course, brown eyes! And were Papa and I wrong! But I am glad we were. You have the most beautiful greenish-greyish eyes that are so happy and big.
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Lucia, you are my sunshine. This year has been the best year of my entire life. Not all days have been easy, but I am so blessed to have you. You are such a happy, loving, baby. We especially love those big wet kisses you give us, and so many cuddles! You love to tuck your arms and rest your head, which just makes every worry of mine disappear. You love to “read” books with Mama & Papa, or just on your own. You hug Mister Fox, and Rocky the Raccoon so tight and pat their back sides, which really- makes my heart melt into a puddle on the floor.

More than anything, I love watching you learn, and grow. You truly have the sweetest heart and so much love for others. You are so playful and fun to be around. Peek-a-boo and us chasing you around the house are your favorite activities. Your laugh and squeals are infectious. And when Mama has to catch up on some work, you stand at the window next to my desk talking and babbling. You love to sit on the couch and watch the door for Papa to come home, squealing when he comes thru the door. You love to play the keyboard, guitar and trumpet with Papa. Your eyes beam when you see him. See, I am so happy Papa got to see you first, because you are Papa’s girl. You two have the sweetest bond.

I am so grateful I get to spend all my days with you. And when we’re away from you, I miss you so. I miss you when you’re sleeping. You are ours forever and ever. I cannot tell you the joy that brings me. I am your mama. Forever.

Lucia, you made me a mama. I am forever indebted to you. Nothing has given me more joy than to be your mama. And as you learn and grow, I do too. You teach me every day about love, patience, fun, and so much more. Although I am a bit sad you are already one, I am thrilled to watch you grow up into a smart, beautiful young lady. You have so much good in you. I wish I could better express these deep, immovable feelings I have for you, but I know you feel them when I hold you and our hearts are touching.

Happy Birthday, my sweet girl.

Love you, forever and ever,


Lucia’s Birth Story

I’m not sure why but it has been difficult for me to put into words the birth of my daughter. Probably because I cannot find the right words to express what a beautiful experience this past year was for me. I realize that if I don’t do it now, those feelings and emotions will begin to fade. Our story was not ‘ideal’ however, not unlike many others. Our journey to parenthood started with the loss of a tiny unborn one, and ended with a cesarean section of another.

I always knew I would be a mother. I truly feel like motherhood is my main purpose here on earth. But after having a miscarriage earlier in the year, I started to wonder if I would ever bear my own. It was a very sad time for us, but we experienced many tender mercies and felt so much love for each other as well as those around us. When we found out we were pregnant again, we were so excited and so scared. Every week I continued to have morning sickness was huge and exciting. But I felt as though I was walking on egg shells. We finally made our announcement when I was 19 weeks. This was again, exciting and scary. My doctor warned us about possible miscarriage, preterm labor and a whole slew of other issues I could be facing because of my bicornuate uterus. I stopped all forms of physical activity except for work and photography.

The morning she came was sunny and beautiful. I don’t think there was a cloud in the sky. I remember thinking about the last nine months and how I was truly blessed. God was sending me this child, and she was meant for me. She was ours. I was initially so upset about having to schedule a c-section. I always wanted to go through the “natural” process of giving birth. But she was transverse (sideways breech). I wanted to feel the pain one goes through to birth a child. I carried her for 39 weeks, I wanted to end it with a bang. But the morning I delivered her, I realized how much courage it took to carry a child knowing it will exit your body regardless of how it happens, and you will be forever responsible for this little one.


Walking down that long hall through the O.R. doors after saying goodbye to Travis while he got scrubbed-in was probably the most terrifying moment in my entire life. I depended on him so much, and needed his eyes to give me that courage I seemed to have misplaced. The nurse walked with me as I cried, holding my waist. She was so sweet and kind, but I just wanted my husband with me. She helped me up onto the operating table and my body just shook uncontrollably. She brought me hot blankets just out of the warmer, but somehow I still shook.


A few moments later, I heard the familiar sounds of Sigur Ros. Travis made a “birth mix” and they let us play it in the O.R. I was relieved to have some familiarity in that cold, bright, sterile room. But it brought on a wave of emotions I was not prepared for. I was alone with my wonderful nurses, waiting and waiting for what seemed like forever. The anesthesiologist was running late. I waited for 30 minutes. Alone and shaking. My nurse hugged me and gave me words of encouragement.

Finally the anesthesiologist arrived. I tried to not think about the huge needle going into my back. I thought about my sweet baby kicking in my tummy. Three times, in and out of my back, one above the other. Each time was more painful than the last, but my spinal column was too narrow. I could feel it dripping down my back. Then, finally he got the needle in. I imagined being paralized after all of this. What if he messed up? My legs immediately went numb. Everything below my chest. He asked if I could swing my legs up on the table, but I couldn’t. It felt like my feet were stuck in cement.

Moments later, Travis walked in. I could hear them calling him in, I turned to see him behind me and it was then that “Passing Afternoon” by Iron & Wine started to play. We locked eyes and the room felt so full of love, I couldn’t breathe. That was the song we danced to at our wedding, almost 5 years ago. We both knew the significance of this moment. I will never forget it. He held me and hugged me and kissed me. I could feel the tears pooling in my ears. We were finally together, and just moments away from being parents.


Just minutes later, my wonderful doctor announced, “Alright, we’re about to have a baby!” Excitement filled the room. I could feel tugging and pulling, but nothing else. I could see the excitement in Travis’ eyes as he squeezed my hand. He stood up with camera in hand. It was then, I heard her first cry! I just watched Travis, knowing he was watching our daughter enter the world. I watched him immediately transform into a father. He hollered for joy, and exclaimed her beauty to me. He cried, and I cried. “Hoppipolla” by Sigur Ros was playing, and I cried harder. I am so happy he saw her first. He held her first. That is so special to me. This was the most difficult thing for me to accept, going into our planned c-section. I wanted to hold her and kiss her. But when it actually happened, I was so happy they had that moment together.


The nurses and doctors asked what her name is, and Travis, with a jubuliant tone, said, “Lucia. Lucia Gabriella!” Everyone in the room said what a beautiful name that was. Matching a beautiful baby. It was what seemed like seconds after her coming out, they had her next to me, skin to skin with our cheeks. She was so warm and soft. I just wanted to stay in that moment, feeling and seeing my beautiful daughter for the first time.


All this time, it was her inside of me. Every kick, every movement. Every ultrasound we had, I was feeling and seeing her! And now she was here, in my arms. You don’t know the love you could ever have for another until you have a child. I feel like that O.R. was a special, sacred place where our family gained a sweet spirit on that beautiful, sunny day. The bonding that came in the recovery room immediately after they stitched me up was one of the happiest moments of my entire life. I will treasure that memory forever. I had my husband and my daughter with me. My sweet, beautiful family.


Lucia Gabriella Shumate was born on December 12th, 2011. 7lb. 10oz. 19.5 inches long. It wasn’t until Travis called family that we found out Lucia (Pronounced: Lu-cee-a) was actually my great-grandmother’s name. She always went by Lucille because it was more fashionable in those days. We didn’t tell anyone our daughter’s name until she was born, so that was a sweet surprise! And Gabriella is the name of our precious four-year-old niece that passed away last May. I was 10 weeks pregnant at the time, and we felt her sweet presence throughout the pregnancy. It only seemed natural to name our daughter after her.


This past year has been a difficult one for our family and loved ones around us, but I know God has a plan for all of us. I know that we are meant to learn something from each experience both good and difficult. We have felt the “angels” around us rooting us on, telling us, it is all worth it. And it is.

I am so in love. And I wouldn’t change a thing.


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Featured : Kinfolk Magazine

We are thrilled to have one of our photographs featured in Volume Two of Kinfolk Magazine. “Kinfolk is a growing community of artists with a shared interest in small gatherings.” The second volume of Kinfolk highlights winter entertaining, illustrating the joy of spending time with family and friends in the colder months of the year. Over 60 artists have contributed essays, paintings and photographs to the magazine, including our photograph of the mountains of Lake Wallowa, Oregon, covered in fog. Support Kinfolk by purchasing a print copy online or downloading the iPad app.

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Lucia at 18 Days

Happy New Year! We’re so excited for this next year and what it holds for us, our business and our little Lucia. It’s amazing to see her grow and change already. I think we’ll keep her!

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Lucia Gabriella

Welcome Lucia Gabriella Shumate to the world! We are in love with our little girl. She is such a sweetheart, and it is so amazing how much joy she has brought to our little family. We’ll tell a little more of her birth story later, but for the time being, here are a few photos!

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My Girls at Seven Months

We don’t take enough pictures of our own lives, especially in this exciting time. To fix this I took Jaquilyn on a mini-photoshoot to document this stage in her pregnancy. She looks so beautiful. I know people always talk about the pregnancy glow, and now I see what they’re talking about.

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