So many heros amongst us – if only we would look! People with extraordinary stories of perseverance, courage and acceptance. One such story belongs to Courtney and Josh Hayes.
For all outward appearances, Courtney has the perfect life: well educated – she graduated from the University of Michigan – a business owner and a swimming instructor. A beautiful, happily married (Josh Hayes is a physical therapist) woman living the good life. But outward appearances, as it so often happens, can be deceptive and Courtney’s is no different. Behind that warm, sunny smile is a tale of utter devastation. A grief, that perhaps, only a parent can truly understand.
Courtney suffered not one, not two but four agonising miscarriages. And it takes a rare kind of courage and spirit to be able to share this with the world. Here is Courtney’s story in her own words. There is little we can add to this story except to let Courtney and Josh know that our thoughts and prayers are with them.
… and as we await the arrival of Courtney’s rainbow baby, it gives us immense pleasure to be able to share a mini-interview and a gallery of photos of the baby’s nursery that Courtney and Josh were so kind and gracious enough to send us.
What was your inspiration for the nursery design and décor?
With my first pregnancy, I was drawn to teal and grey with elephants. It seemed peaceful, happy and gender neutral (we didn’t want to find out the gender). We ended up miscarrying that baby, along with 3 other pregnancies. At some point in time, I had shared on social media what my vision was for our first nursery. People remembered that and when I became pregnant with my current baby, we began receiving gifts in teal and grey with an elephant theme. With the first pregnancy, there wasn’t a whole lot of meaning behind it. Now, it carries a lot with it. It honors the pregnancies we have lost while celebrating the life we will be welcoming to this world in a few weeks. I have also always been drawn to bright, cheerful colors. Color makes me happy. With all of our losses, I have struggled finding happiness and joy and make an effort to wear bright, cheerful colors. Because this baby is our rainbow baby, which is a term for a baby born after a loss, I wanted to add a rainbow theme in as well. It may not make a whole lot of sense from the outside looking in, but to us, it makes perfect sense and we just love it.
What drew you to Evolur over other nursery brands?
We were searching and searching for a grey crib. We liked the idea of a lighter grey over a darker grey. We also wanted a piece that was convertible so we could use it down the line. Reviews and safety standards were also very important to us. A lot of reviews we read about other brands mentioned the cheap feel of the wood. From the reviews of the Evolur Parker crib, it seemed it was a good, sturdy quality piece that we could use for years to come. We couldn’t find a single bad review and were drawn to the safety ratings. The light dove grey was perfect for what we had in mind and we loved the simplicity and beauty of the crib.
Did the room pose any design challenges?
It is a nice-sized standard room, so there weren’t many challenges. The window was awkwardly placed for the Wainscoting that we did, so we did have to build a windowsill, which are not very standard in Arizona houses. The carpet also is not ideal, but I feel we did a pretty good job making it work in the room.
Did you and your spouse agree on style, or did you blend styles and how?
We did. I mentioned to him what I was thinking, and he put the plan in place to make it all happen. If he had any issues with any of my thoughts, he certainly didn’t let me know! Knowing we will be in the hospital for a while after birth, and to be honest, fearing that we may not bring our baby home, I was hesitant to do a nursery. But, we felt it was important to know we had a beautiful, serene place to bring our baby home to as we sat in the hospital. It will help give us something to look forward to and will be a perfect welcome for our baby when we finally get to bring him home. Josh basically asked what my dream nursery was and with the help of two of our close friends, it all came together.
What does this color scheme mean to you?
As I mentioned in the earlier question, the teal and grey was kind of something that just kind of happened. I didn’t have a theme in mind for this baby, but did have one in mind for our first. I think people knew that I was not able to make my original dream nursery happen, so they began sending items that were reminiscent of what I originally dreamed of. Eventually, we received enough gifts in this theme that we decided to go with it for this baby. We wanted to incorporate everything we had received, and mostly everything is centered around elephants and teal and grey colors. Rainbows were important to me, since this is our rainbow baby and I love bright, vibrant colors. I wanted to be tasteful about it and not make it too tacky. I feel really happy with how everything flows. They were two very random themes, but I love the pop of the color from the rainbow mobile and the rainbow quilt. The message above the crib is one that I feel honors our entire journey, as our dreams are coming true. We hope the message is something that will follow throughout our baby’s life, so we hung it above where he will sleep.
What accessories did you choose and why?
Other than a few rainbow items, most everything in the room was a gift from someone. We wanted to incorporate them all, as we have had so many people walk through this journey with us and it is important to us to have everyone represented in the room where our baby will spend most of his time. It has taken a village for us to get to this point, and we know we will continue to rely on that village. Having everyone in the nursery with us makes us feel less alone.
Every quilt you see was made by a friend. There are photos of elephants that a friend took on a safari. The mobile on the crib was another gift, as is the pillowcase of the elephant shooting a rainbow out of his trunk. The teal piece of wood with an elephant on it was made by another friend of ours. Many of the other little trinkets were items of mine from my childhood that I wanted to incorporate. There is a brown elephant sent to me by a friend who has helped walk this journey with me and provided much support. I need to paint it before the baby comes, but just haven’t had time yet. We have a tiny clock on one of the walls that was in the room I used to sleep in when visiting my grandparents. My grandmother would wind it up each night before bed, and I have fond memories of it. I love that I will be able to do that for my son one day.
To many, it may seem mismatched. However, I am so pleased that it still flows nicely while incorporating memories and items that are so dear to our hearts.
What is your favorite piece or design element in the nursery?
I just love the rainbow mobile. It makes me happy just looking at all the colors, and love the pop of vibrancy it provides to a very calm and serene nursery.
Are there any sentimental pieces you incorporated into the room?
Other than a few items I purchased on Etsy (the mobile and the rainbow signs), every single piece holds some sentimental value. They are items from my childhood, handmade gifts from family and friends, or gifts off our registry that friends and family bought us. I can look at everything in that room and be touched by a memory or think of a loved one who gave us the item. The entire room is sentimental to us. Our friends painted it, did the Wainscoting and set it all up, so we will always think of them every time we are in the room.
Have you thought of how you will use the nursery pieces down the road and can you tell us?
I hope to continue the theme of elephants and rainbows for as long as our song will allow it. It will ultimately be his choice, though!
We will covert the crib to a toddler bed and then to a full-size bed as he grows. The changing table will go, but I can see most everything else staying for while. Fortunately, I feel the paint scheme is pretty timeless.
What one word comes to mind when you step into the nursery?
Love. I feel surrounded by all the love of everyone who helped us get to this point and will continue to be with us throughout the next steps. Not to mention, all the love I feel for our baby boy. There is nothing but love in that room.
Featured image courtesy: Courtney Hayes/Brent Ellabarger
All other photographs courtesy: Courtney Hayes