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Thursday, December 17, 2020

Birth Story :: Olivia Jane

Olivia Jane Woodfield

Tuesday, October 13, 2020
11 lbs 3 ounces
22 inches

She is finally here! We were so eager to meet her. We are all happy and healthy and doing well. We were all shocked by how big she is! She is the perfect addition to our family and she has some very loving, protective older brothers. David especially loves and hugs and kisses on her all day long.

Olivia means peace and I have always loved the name. It is the perfect balance of strength and femininity. Jane means “God is gracious or merciful.” She is our calm in the chaos and a perfect reminder of how blessed we truly are. I have loved the name Olivia since I was 12 when I read “The Work and The Glory” series with a little girl named Olivia, that goes by Livvy. I knew from that point that my first daughter would be named Olivia. Jane is a family name - it is my sister’s and my maternal grandmother’s middle name. I love this name so much and it fits her so well.

I am going to share two versions of the birth story - a short version and a long version. I love writing out all the details in a longer version, particularly because it helps me to process everything, and I love to reread it all later.

A huge thank you to our incredible birth team (I had the best of the best!):

Here is our amazing birth video Ana put together.

Short Version

Baby girl arrived on a lovely Tuesday morning quickly at home after a fast and furious two hours of active labor. She was born on the 13th, lucky 13, so we ate burgers from “Lucky 13” for dinner that night. She came at 40 weeks and 4 days. We did a lot of different things to try to encourage labor sooner, but baby will only come when they are ready.

My waves started the night before around 9pm after an acupuncture appointment that afternoon. They came every 15 minutes or so consistently. The waves continued through the night and woke me up with their intensity around 5am. I got up and got ready and they became even more intense. I woke Braden up just before 6am and after some convincing, we started to notify people. I was in denial that I could possibly be in labor after what felt like a long wait. Braden was so excited and went around the house getting everything ready. Avee, my sweet little sister and one of my doulas, arrived about 7am and my midwife Rebecca about 7:30am. Rebecca checked baby’s heart rate on the doppler and saw how low she was already, and knew we were going to have a baby that day. We started setting up the tub.

I labored in the shower, on the birth ball, and on the toilet, but the waves were so intense on the toilet. Things were getting intense very quickly and my waves were moving closer together.

Finally I got in the tub and it felt so good. The water provided so much relief! I only had a few contractions in the tub before my body started to involuntarily push. Braden was shocked I was already pushing! I felt the power of the fetal ejection reflex (FER) in a way I have not felt before. I felt her little feet kicking up into the top of my uterus, the fundus, as soon as I started pushing. I also felt lots of movement from her throughout the entire labor. I reached down to feel her head as she was emerging and felt my waters break in my hand. Shortly after, I felt her head and lots of hair! I shifted from squatting to sitting back on my hands, lifting myself slightly off the ground, as I started to slowly ease her out. She rotated a little too soon and her chin got stuck and Rebecca gently touched the back of her head to encourage her to tuck her chin. Her whole head was out in the next push. Then her shoulders were stuck in my pelvis. Rebecca suggested I change positions by standing and after another push or two, baby girl was out! It was exhilarating. Rebecca immediately said “That is a big kid! Oh my goodness.” It truly felt like baby and I were working together. When I held her in my arms, I just kept saying “We did it! We did it!” 

The boys joined us around the birth tub shortly after baby girl was born and it was so special. Ethan and I both ate bananas together while I was holding baby girl in the tub. David got to touch the umbilical cord as it was pulsing and later, Braden helped to cut it. It was so beautiful to be surrounded by so many people I love and love me: my Braden and my boys, my mom, my Avee, and our dear friend Julieth. My sister Lexi was with us on FaceTime. I had the most incredible birth team with Rebecca and Ana. I get teary-eyed just thinking of all the love and support we received for the birth alone. This birth was more of a full family experience vs. an intimate love story like my other births. This baby girl is already so loved.

Braden was so supportive and loving and did an amazing job as my doula. He is the best husband and father. He thought of all the little details.

I never had a cervical check and never timed contractions. We just let birth flow naturally. I never quite found my rhythm with surges, and that’s okay. Because of that, I felt a little more discomfort with this birth but I worked through it, one step at a time.

We had no idea she would be so big. When I was 32 weeks, Braden commented that I looked as big as I was at 40 weeks with our other babies. I just attributed it to my higher levels of amniotic fluid. I definitely did not have gestational diabetes (we even tested my A1C after the fact and it is 4.7). I just make big, healthy babies! Rebecca commented multiple times after she was born “That is a big baby!” and “You have a linebacker (or NFL player) there” and “I cannot wait to take her measurements.” She is so chunky and it is the best! She was born the size of a 2 month old baby and already acts like it too. She can hold her head up so well and is very alert. Feels like we skipped the newborn stage!

I have prayed for a baby girl for years and I am beyond myself that she is finally here! The waiting game was hard this time around. My other kids came at 40 weeks and 39+2, so I thought for sure she would be here by 40 weeks. Those days of waiting were very hard mentally. I was not prepared to go up to 42 weeks like I was with my other pregnancies. I knew baby would come when she was ready, but I felt a bit more discouraged with each passing day. I also felt strongly that she was finishing her spiritual preparation to come to earth and lingering with loved ones in heaven. The veil is so thin at birth and in the days leading up to and after such a sacred event.

We feel so grateful she is here with us safe and healthy. Another little miracle and the sweetest addition to our family. She is everything.

Long Version

I have prayed for a baby girl for years. Growing up in a family with all girls (my mom, my two sisters and I), I had always pictured myself as a girl mom. When we were ready to try for our third baby, I knew I wanted to go all in and do everything in my power to have a baby girl. I prayed my heart out every night for months on end pleading with God for a baby girl. I am also a very logical person so I did countless hours of research on gender swaying. I will not go into details here but I found a group on Facebook that was more research-based and put together a “girl sway” with certain supplements, foods, sex frequency, and other things (that is another post of its own). Feel free to reach out if you want more details on this! I figured that I would do everything I could and leave it up to God. If we did not have a girl, then I would absolutely know it was meant to be that we had another boy. God knew my intentions and the desires of my heart.

We were thrilled when we found out we were pregnant! I was tracking my cycles very closely so I tested on the earliest possible days and had a negative test the day before I finally received a positive test at 10 days post ovulation. We did a NIPT (noninvasive prenatal testing) blood test with my midwife when I was just 9 weeks pregnant to find out the gender, because there was no way I could wait until the 20 week ultrasound like I did with our other kids. About a week later, we received the results and found out that we were having a GIRL. I cried and screamed. I was beyond happy! This is the baby girl I have prayed so hard for. See video here

I found out I was pregnant at the end of January and then that we were having a girl in early March. Then things quickly changed with COVID. I felt so much relief that I was planning another home birth given all of the hospital restrictions. I had so many friends reach out to me about out-of-hospital birth and their options. For anyone that asks me about this, I tell them that they should give birth wherever they feel most safe, be that in a hospital, a birth center, or at home. For me, I associate hospitals with illness and death, and I feel very uncomfortable in that setting. But many others I know feel safer in a hospital with the resources available. You do you. A competent provider that you can fully trust is also so important! I trust Rebecca infinitely and cannot imagine birth without her. Given the COVID situation, I was also blessed to work from home the majority of my pregnancy, where I was more comfortable; however, it was a little more awkward to tell my colleagues that I was pregnant when I was further along because no one saw me pregnant at work!

My pregnancy was very healthy and low risk. I did have some nausea throughout my entire pregnancy, which I mostly attributed to a different gender, and the heartburn the last couple of months was ruthless (I was popping papaya enzymes like it was my job). I finally found two homeopathics that really helped with the nausea as I started third trimester - I wish I had found them sooner! I feel so blessed to have such smooth pregnancies. I stayed pretty active throughout my pregnancy, doing some interval workouts through second trimester, and then transitioning to primarily yoga and walking in my third trimester. I ate generally very healthy and took supplements and drank tea to support a healthy pregnancy including celery juice, high dose Vitamin C, dandelion root, cell salts, evening primrose oil starting at 36 weeks, a prenatal with DHA, and more. I drank a mixed tea of red raspberry leaf, dandelion, alfalfa, and nettle. Everything served a purpose. I also ate my 6 dates/day starting at 34 weeks pregnant. I think the Vitamin C makes a huge difference in pregnancy (look up orthomolecular therapy).

Braden made a comment when I was about 32 weeks pregnant that he thought my belly already looked as big as our other kids at 40 weeks. Of course I told him that is not something you should say to a pregnant woman, but agreed my belly was bigger. In the last weeks of pregnancy, I had quite a few new stretch marks show up, but I didn’t mind too much, because a lot of it is genetic and out of my control. My skin sure felt tight and itchy in those final weeks though with my big belly! Now we know really was so much bigger! I also had high amniotic fluid at 17 centimeters (normal range is about 5-20cm and average is around 12-14 cm).

In the week or so leading up to birth, we did everything we could to encourage labor: lots of sex, walking and bouncing on the birth ball, nipple stimulation (primarily nursing my toddler), acupressure and a labor encouragement massage, clary sage oil, lots of red raspberry leaf tea, spicy food, and more. But I also had a lot of signs of labor: loose stool, lots of Braxton Hicks and contractions that would have a pattern for a couple hours and then fade, losing bits of my mucus plug, etc. I had one false start the Wednesday before where I woke up with intense surges at 1:30am and they continued through the night until I went back to bed at 4am and then woke up a few hours later and they were completely gone. That was pretty discouraging. At the end of the day, baby will only come when they are ready. We did lots of fun things to keep busy including fall drives in the mountains, picnics and time at the park, feeding the ducks, making caramel apples and creating a gingerbread haunted mansion, trips to Trader Joe’s (had to keep a stock of fresh flowers!), a night in Ogden, and a “due date” date of dinner and a movie. Also, my mom and sister were staying with us because my mom is remodeling her house, and they were on standby to help at the birth. Having them here with us was special and made it feel like a little bit of a vacation. My mom is very spontaneous and makes everything more fun and my sister is our “sunshine girl.”

I was not mentally prepared to wait longer for baby girl. My first came right at 40 weeks, second came at 39 week and 2 days, so I thought for sure she would come by 40 weeks, but likely sooner. With my other two, I mentally prepared to potentially go all the way to 42 weeks, but not this one. My midwife had also told me a story about one of her moms that went into labor at 36 weeks after saying she could not do another month pregnant. I mentally shifted my timeline to think baby would come sometime between 36 to 40 weeks. At one point, I was so convinced she would come right at 39 weeks. Braden even went and bought some fresh flowers at Trader Joe’s and I had to talk him out of making her a birthday cake that day. I knew baby was healthy and strong, and she was very active in the womb, but I just wanted to meet her. Babies come when they are ready and it is so important to me to let them choose their birthday. They send a message to mom when their lungs and brain are fully developed.

I had also received multiple promptings that she was physically ready to come (her lungs and brain were developed), but she was still finishing her “see you laters” in heaven. She was excited to come join our family on earth, but she knew the realities of how challenging it would be in comparison to the sweet simplicity and ease in heaven, so she lingered a little longer. God’s timing is much different than our timing here on earth. I imagine that what was less than a minute in heaven as she lingered with loved ones and even our Savior, was several days of our time here on earth. The veil is so thin at birth and in the days leading up to and after such a sacred event.

Olivia was finally born on a beautiful Tuesday morning in the fall at 40 weeks and 4 days.

On Sunday afternoon the 11th, my midwife text me and told me we could consider a membrane sweep and herbal tinctures to get labor going on Wednesday if she did not arrive by then herself. I was thinking about it but it just did not feel quite right about it. Either way though, seeing a bit of light at the end of the tunnel helped to relieve some pressure and reminded me that she would come eventually, even if the waiting felt like forever in the moment.

My midwife had also suggested acupuncture as one final measure and recommended someone in Salt Lake. He was not available until Tuesday afternoon so I made an appointment then. Late Monday, my mom remembered that her chiropractor in Ogden also does acupuncture and he was able to get us in last minute. We quickly drove up there and got an appointment at 5pm. Maybe the acupuncture was the final tipping point, because as we were watching “The Proposal” that night, I had consistent surges every 15 minutes or so and I went to bed that way. They were not yet very intense where I had to focus through them, but there was a rhythm. I let my sister know there was a good chance she would head up from Orem early the next morning for the birth of baby girl.

I woke up multiple times that night from the surges, usually because the pressure made me need to pee, and could tell they were getting more intense. I woke up from a big one about 4:45/5am and noticed I had quite a bit of bloody show and realized that it had started early morning when I went to the bathroom in the dark. I decided to shower and get ready and see how things evolved. As I got ready, they were more intense and I had to start focusing through them, but they were still 7-10 minutes apart or so. I never actually timed my contractions at any point, but this was based on instinct as we went about the morning. I woke Braden up just before 6am and let him know we were probably going to have a baby that day. He was so excited and jumped right out of bed (abnormal for him, he is definitely not a morning person) and got ready. Before I knew it, he had things setup around the house (camera ready to go, birth tub in place, etc.) and I was still not entirely convinced baby was coming that day (too many false starts to this point!). Admittedly, I was even slightly annoyed with him (because I was feeling so melancholy) but it was really just so cute. He is the best husband and father. That said, my surges were getting more intense. Just after 6am, we called my sister. I had planned to call my other sister Lexi who lives in NC while I was working through surges, but was busy talking to Braden and was distracted by the surges. We missed Lexi so much. But Avee talked to my sister Lexi on the way up to Salt Lake. She told us the moon was so beautiful that night, a perfect day for baby girl. We also gave a heads up to our photographer/videographer, and finally called our midwife. She said it sounded like baby was on her way and then asked if this was a heads up or we want her to come over. Braden suggested she come over and check things out, and I’m so glad he did, because the story would have played out differently otherwise. Again, I was still not entirely convinced this was happening. Rebecca joked that the only thing she hoped to do that day was an appt to get a new hearing machine at 1:30 at the health department, otherwise the day was mine. I suggested baby could be here by then and I’m sure it would all work out perfectly (spoiler alert: she was done by 1:00pm). Surges were slowly coming closer together, more like 5-7 minutes apart, and gradually more intense. I started to vocalize with a low moan during contractions. I wanted a distraction so we turned on “Crazy Rich Asians” for between contractions before people started to show up.

Avee arrived just after 7am and then Rebecca by 7:30am. Rebecca was texting her other moms when she arrived to cancel appointments for the day and one of her moms said that she was starting a prayer chain for us and rooting for us. So many good vibes! I felt the love and encouragement of so many that day. Right after she arrived, Rebecca checked the location of baby’s heartbeat on the doppler and saw that she was perfectly aligned with the middle of my pelvis and very low. That combined with the visibility of the intensity of my surges, she said this baby was coming. I never had a cervical check. She gave me the option for some “rocket juice,” as she calls it, since that has worked well for me with past labors, and I said sure. She gave me her concoction of “Black Girl Magic,” some cotton root bark with labor enhancer. Things progressed very quickly from this point. Our awesome videographer, Ana, had seen my text when she woke up and immediately came over. She arrived around 8am. She is so good!

I jumped in the shower again since it had provided so much relief earlier that morning and it helped, but I felt removed from my birth team. After that, I worked through my surges on the birth ball quite a bit because they felt less intense on the ball. I found that squeezing my belly on the sides during a contraction applied a different sort of counter pressure that really helped me to work through them. I also felt the surges very low and very intensely in my thighs and found myself rubbing my thighs a lot to help relieve tension. Rebecca said the most productive contractions would feel very low in the belly as if we were pulling back a show curtain. That was exactly how I started to visualize it.

My sister and Braden were my doulas and we never quite found a rhythm together with counter pressure or positions that felt comfortable. Probably a lot because things were intensifying so quickly. I wanted to labor more on the toilet but my surges were so intense anytime I sat down that I did not make it through more than one contraction there. I was so loud and vocal there. I labored for 30-45 minutes in a variety of positions before I finally relinquished and got in the tub. I felt so much relief as soon as I got in the birth tub! The warm water felt so good. My favorite affirmations for this birth were:
  • “I welcome sensations of opening and pressure”
  • “I see my cervix swirling open like the petals of a rose”
  • “I was made to birth this baby”
I only had a few contractions in the tub before my body started to involuntarily push. Braden was shocked I was already pushing! I had very little control (but also totally controlled). One thing that was very cool about this birth was that I really felt baby working with me. I felt the power of the fetal ejection reflex (FER) in a way I have not felt before. I felt her little feet kicking up into the top of my uterus, the fundus, as soon as I started pushing. I also felt lots of movement from her throughout the entire labor.

As soon as I was pushing, I started to poop. Rebecca uses a fish net to get it out of the tub and she made jokes about the different sizes, some were bass and some were minnows. She is funny!

I changed positions a lot in the tub. I asked Avee to go grab a cup and pour water over my back and belly - something that has really helped me to relax with previous labors as well. As I felt intense pressure in my pelvis and knew baby was rounding the corner, I reached down to feel for her head. I could not quite feel it but I could feel how wide and open everything was. Our bodies are amazing! Within another push or two, I felt my amniotic sac break in my hand - that was the coolest feeling! Shortly after, I could feel her head and lots of hair. Rebecca commented “so much dark hair!” I shifted from squatting to sitting back on my hands, lifting myself slightly off the ground, as I started to slowly ease her out. It felt like it was taking forever to get her head out but Rebecca gave me lots of little reminders to take it slow to save my perineum. Rebecca asked if I wanted to see in the mirror how much baby was there and then saw my face and said “you can feel how much baby is there” and we all smiled. Rebecca was such an amazing coach. My favorite was when she said “You are powerful” with so much encouragement and confidence. I made sure to do my “birthday candle” breaths and slowly but surely, she was making progress. Rebecca noticed that she turned a little too early and then her chin got stuck (we later realized this is because she has like three chins! Her cute face is so chunky). She said “she is so excited she is already rotating!” Rebecca was very gentle and shifted her ever so slightly and her head was out with a couple more pushes. Rebecca later told the boys that “she was so excited about being born that she pooped.” We saw a stream of some meconium once her head was out so we already had the heads up that she had pooped while still in the womb. Once her head was out, then her shoulders were stuck because she had turned too soon, and because she was so big! Rebecca quickly realized we needed to change positions to help her out and she had me stand up. As soon as I stood up, I pushed two more times and she was born! It is so exhilarating when you feel their little body wriggle out. The first thing Rebecca said is “That is a big kid! Oh my goodness.” It truly felt like baby and I were working together. When I held her in my arms, I just kept saying “We did it! We did it!” She had a small bruise on her left shoulder from her shoulders getting stuck in the pelvis, but it went away quickly.

Braden was so incredibly supportive. He is the best husband and father. I did not hire a doula this time, but I had my sister Avee, who we gave crash course on how to be a doula, and Braden. Braden really stepped in as a doula - Rebecca even commented on how he went above and beyond, down to the little details like getting me cold rags while I was in the tub. He completed my birth “to do” list and directed everyone to make sure everything was perfect and knew their part. He stroked my hair, arms, and legs while I was pushing. This time, we had him film the birth in the water with the GoPro. The footage is so cool! It felt different for this birth to have him in front of me, as opposed to holding me from behind. Admittedly I did miss having him hold me and remember feeling a little alone in labor without him right there by me the whole time. I did not feel like I had the same level of intimacy and connection with Braden this go around. I wish I had hired a doula again that could have played the role he took on so he could be there purely as my “daddy doula,” but I am also so grateful Braden is so amazing and naturally stepped into that role. Doulas are invaluable!

After baby girl was born, I quickly told Braden to grab the boys from the room with my mom. I so badly wanted them there with us to meet their baby sister and to participate in a piece of the birth. I initially planned to have the boys there for part of the actual labor, but it all happened so fast and we were so focused, and they were just in the other room right by us. Braden remembers running to grab them and hearing her cry for the first time as he was walking away and that sound made him start sobbing. So sweet. Ethan and I both ate bananas together while I was holding baby girl in the tub. The little things. Rebecca reminded Ethan that he could not feed the baby any of his foods, specifically any bananas or strawberries. She is so good with the kids. The boys were so well-behaved the whole day she was born. They listened so well to everything we asked and they were so sweet with me and their baby sister. They knew it was a special day.

The boys asked what was in the tub and I told them it was what had come out of mommy’s tummy with the baby. David asked specifically about the “red stuff” and we told him it was blood. He was so curious. David saw me birth the placenta and thought that it was pretty gross “yuck!” Rebecca commented that it was a family-size placenta. I got 270 pills from my placenta encapsulation (average is more like 180)! David got to touch the umbilical cord and feel it still pulsing and once it was limp and white (delayed cord clamping is so beneficial!), Braden helped to clamp and cut it. It was all so special.

It was so beautiful to be surrounded by so many people I love and love me: my Braden and my boys, my mom, my Avee, and our dear friend Julieth. We also had my sweet sister Lexi on FaceTime and I remember her saying “she is so beautiful!” My mom later told me she was just sweetly sobbing - my sister has the biggest heart. Julieth actually arrived a few minutes after baby girl was born - we meant for her to be there sooner but we let her know too late and it was such a short labor. I had the most incredible birth team with Rebecca and Ana. I get teary-eyed just thinking of all the love and support we received for the birth alone. This baby girl is already so loved.

Rebecca commented multiple times after she was born “That is a big baby!” and “You have a linebacker (or NFL player) there” and “I cannot wait to take her measurements.” I guessed she would be just under 10 pounds, Rebecca was certain she was over 10 pounds. We were all shocked when she came in at 11 pounds 3 ounces! I definitely did not have gestational diabetes (we even checked my A1C levels after the birth and it was 4.7), I am just healthy and had a very healthy placenta that allowed her to grow big and strong! Big babies also run in the family - my sister and I were over 10 pounds as well. Many have asked if we were expecting her to be that big and we definitely were not! We had no idea. But no one knows how big their baby will be before they are born. Ultrasounds are notoriously inaccurate at estimating weight and can be +/- up to three or so pounds.

Although there were so many similarities to Ethan’s birth, this birth felt very different. It was more of a full family experience vs. a love story between Braden, myself, and the baby. But I planned it out that way, and it was equally beautiful, just different. I never quite found my rhythm with surges, and that’s okay. Mentally, I just wanted baby here and to move into the next phase. I was feeling a bit sad and discouraged from waiting for her what felt like 2+ weeks to me. There was a lot going on in my head during labor and it clouded out a lot of the details. It has really helped me to watch back through the footage to see how calm I was and how happy I seemed because there is a lot I do not remember. Because I never quite found my rhythm, I did feel some pain (which I really did not feel in my other labors), and I struggled to relax at times, particularly before I got in the birth tub. I could feel the waves hit me fast and hard and rush through my entire body, particularly down into my legs. I just had to push through, one contraction at a time. “You can do anything for two minutes.” I rubbed my legs a lot to relieve the tension and found myself holding my belly tight at the sides, both of which helped me to focus during the surges. With everything I was feeling, I remember feeling somewhat emotionally removed from the moment she was born. It has taken me weeks to process her birth. Her birth was practically “picture perfect” but even then, I had to work through it and that is another part of the birth experience.

Once she was here, it felt so surreal. I felt so relieved. You may know how important dates are to me. At some point in the process of waiting, I learned to surrender my obsession with even dates and I let her know it was okay for her to come on whatever day she chose. She was born on the 13th and is our “Lucky 13” girl. When Braden and I were laying in bed talking the night of the 12th, and thought there was a very real possibility of her coming the 13th, we agreed we had to get burgers from Lucky 13 (known for their burgers) to celebrate our girl. Avee also taught us that October 13th is “Ada Lovelace Day” for 2020 (second Tuesday in October), and commemorates the lives of women in STEM and encourages girls and young women to enter these fields. It is also national “no bra” day, which seems fitting for the day I gave birth.

I have heard many people say that third babies are unpredictable and I can agree. I certainly did not expect her to come after 40 weeks, or to be so big! So far, she is such a calm and easy baby. She is so chunky! At first, I thought she looked kind of like a sumo wrestler with her three chins. She is the cutest! The first night as she laid beside me, she scrunched up and crossed her little legs in my hands just as they had been in the womb. David loves to tell her “you have such pretty eyes, baby girl.” She is already awake a lot and can hold her head up so well.

At two weeks old, she looks and acts more like a two month old. Her chunk is pretty much all in her face but is quickly thinning out, and other parts of her body look more proportionate, with just a few rolls on her thighs.

We feel so grateful she is here with us safe and healthy. Another little miracle and the sweetest addition to our family. She is everything.

Friday, December 11, 2020

Comparison // Thoughts on Social Media

You are special. You are enough. Sometimes that is all I need to hear; however, we get so caught up in surviving, what happened to thriving? A dear friend recently reminded me of the book You are Special by Max Lucado. My momma gave me this book when I was young, probably around 10 years old.

Sometimes you just need to put away your phones, computers, and distractions and connect with nature, connect with God. Connection is a beautiful thing. No need to compare. 

Spring Blossoms :: Life Lately