A Postpartum Update

It’s been three weeks since our little man, Alexander, entered the world. And if you didn’t already know, I had to have an emergency c-section, after twenty-four hours of labor, because the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck–three times! Of course we didn’t know this until he was born. 

It was such an out-of-body-experience, and in a lot of ways, just like you see in the movies: After being stuck at 7cm and contractions not increasing in intensity, and hours of the doctor, nurses, and Blake maneuvering me in every possible position to try to get a better read of the baby’s heartbeat, my OB-GYN finally said, “We did all we could. We need to go NOW.”

To say I was frightened to have a c-section would be an understatement. I was taken by total surprise, after having two previous natural deliveries. I also have never had surgery before. I was shaking and crying and praying a hundred Hail Mary’s. 

But it was all worth it for my perfect little boy. Because it was an emergency delivery, nurses were pulled in from all directions and they didn’t know we’d been keeping his gender a surprise. I imagined a huge “IT’S A…..!” announcement, but there was nothing. Honestly, I didn’t even know the doctor had already cut into me until I heard a baby cry. Blake and I, blind on the other side of the curtain, heard whispers of, “Hey buddy” and “his” and “he”. We looked at each other and I said, “Did they say ‘he’?!” But it wasn’t until the nurse brought him around the curtain that we saw the true reveal. It was a BOY! We both broke down in tears. 

The c-section was a surprise, but the fact that our baby was a boy was an even bigger shocker! I couldn’t believe it. Some days, I still don’t even believe it, even though I change his diaper a million times a day.

I think what scared me the most about having a c-section was the thought of recovering, while also taking care of three small humans. I thought, I’m going to be in lots of pain and confined to a bed–how the heck am I going to do this?! Originally, Blake and I planned to have a couple of days at home before family came to visit, but because of the urgency of my care, my angelic mother-in-law flew in just hours after we got home from the hospital. Unfortunately, my mom had to have unexpected surgery on her foot and was unable to come. (But that’s a whole other emotional story. Thankfully she’s recovering well! Praise God!)

The recovery of a c-section was a painful one and it took a toll on me emotionally. On top of that, our oldest daughter came down with a 104 fever, and the baby and I had to basically be quarantined to the bedroom. That did not do well for my psyche. You’d think with this being my third child, I would have remembered how much of an emotional roller coast postpartum can be, but I didn’t. I had many moments of, Is this EVER going to get better? and Am I EVER going to feel like myself again? Needless to say, I wasn’t cutting myself much slack, and was being far too hard on myself, especially after having major abdominal surgery. I’m thankful for a husband and a phone call from my therapist to remind me: One step at a time… 

With my history of Postpartum Depression, I couldn’t help but think, “Is today the day I’m going to get it?” I had the same feelings after Adelaide was born, too. But I had to force myself to stay positive, patient, and faithful in the Lord. I’m happy to say that it doesn’t look like PPD is going to be rearing its ugly head this time around! I have zero anxiety about taking care of the baby, and my girls are driving me the same amount of bananas as they always were. 

The adjustment from two to three was easier than I anticipated. But then again, I usually have the mentality of “expect the worst…” that way I’m pleasantly surprised. There are a lot of “stop-touching-hims” and a lot more “wait-a-minutes” these days, but I’m hoping that will soon dissipate, as the girls are forced to be learn to be more patient. (A mom can dream, right?!)

Overall, I’m doing really well! I’m so grateful to all the people who have called, prayed, taken care of the girls, and brought us meals to feed our bellies and save us from cooking or giving our kids frozen pizza and mac-n-cheese every night. We’ll save those meals for when things get back to normal 😉


Book Review: Tiny Blue Lines… & I’m in it!

As a young woman who found myself surprisingly expecting a baby less than a year out of college and not married, reading Tiny Blue Lines was very nostalgic for me. I wish this book had been around four years ago for me, as I carried a lot of guilt and insecurities throughout my first pregnancy. At the time I felt like no one understood how I was feeling even though I knew I wasn’t the first person to have a baby out of wedlock. But no one reached out to me and it was quite lonely inside my head at times.

Chaunie understands the multi-faceted guilt that goes along with an unplanned pregnancy. I was reading and silently shouting, “Yes! She gets it! She gets me. She understands exactly how I felt.” Tiny Blue Lines tells young mothers that we are not alone! I appreciated that Chaunie wrote this book as if she were having a conversation with me over a cup of coffee in her home; like she was a comforting and nonjudgemental big sister. I felt as if she was holding my hand the whole way through cheering, “You’ve got this girlfriend—you can do it!”

Chaunie showcases real-life women who come from different walks of life, and chose different paths. Some put their education on hold, while others did whatever it took to graduate. Some shifted their dreams and made them a reality. Some decided to get married before baby, while others waited, or chose to co-parent instead. No matter what they decided, they all—we all—have one thing in common: 

Our lives changed for the better. Our babies were a surprise blessing—never a mistake. 
My favorite line from the book is “…things are not always as they seem. There are no accidents with God, and life is always an intentional gift.”

I enjoyed her “Marriage Before Carriage” advice which includes topics like: “There’s no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to have a wedding,” “Accept help,” and “Wear comfy shoes,” among other things to consider. Her practical and sometimes witty advice is a breath of fresh air, contrary to advice I was once forced to hear such as, “Oh you’ll figure it out—don’t worry.” Therefore, I love that at the end of the book Chanuie provides detailed advice and specific resources. She never stops gifting the real-life advice young mothers need to help navigate such a huge change in their life.

I laughed out loud at some of the stories she shared about the ridiculous things people (usually strangers) would say to her and other young mommies while out in public because I could absolutely relate. One time, as I was being rung up at a department store, the clerk looked at me and my (then) one year-old daughter in the stroller and said, “You must not be much older than the baby.” I even had my weddings rings on! But Chaunie has been there many times before and she understands. Reading her words makes you feel like you’re not alone.

One of my favorite parts of the book was when Chaunie mentioned me as an “inspiring woman.” It was a surprise to me, and I had the happiest and cheesiest grin glued onto my face.

Chaunie’s bravery and courage to put herself and her very personal story out there in the world for everyone to see is admirable. She is a blessing to young mamas everywhere.

Without a doubt, I would recommend Tiny Blue Lines to any young mom who finds herself surprisingly expecting a little blessing in her life. Every woman should have someone to hold her hand and cheer her on. Chaunie will do just that! 

// // // 

You can read & find out more about Chaunie Marie Brusie and Tiny Blue Lines, here. Do it!
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Bump, Birth, Baby, & Beyond

51 Tips on Pregnancy, Child Birth, Postpartum, & Being a New Mommy

…only 51 or we could be here for days!

*On Being Pregnant

1.  Let people touch your belly. Sure, every now and again it can be a little awkward, but really, it’s not that big of a deal. People get curious and excited (and sometimes carried away) that you’re bringing a new life into the world. What’s weird is when they touch your belly after you have the baby. Now that’s awkward.

2.  Stay active, but know when to take it easy. I found that if I did too much one day, I was a pile of cement the next. Sore and tired and pretty much miserable and useless.

3.  Take (weekly) belly bump pictures. They’re fun to look back on. And if you want to post them to Facebook or your blog? Do it. It’s your life. I guarantee people secretly (and not so secretly) love to look at them. Same goes for maternity pictures.

4.  However, if you choose to post belly pics to social media, don’t get offended when someone makes the comment, “Oh you look so tiny for eight months–are you sure there’s a baby in there?” or, “You’re huge! Are you sure there’s not two in there?” Because it’s inevitable. Just let it roll off your shoulder and remember their comment for when they’re pregnant so you can make an equally offensive one back. Just kidding. Don’t do that.

5.  Don’t compare yourself to other mommies-to-be. Especially those who are right around your due date. The second you read on Facebook they felt their baby moving, and you haven’t yet, you’ll start freaking out and calling your doctor every five minutes. Every woman experiences pregnancy differently. Remember that.

6.  To continue along those lines, stay far away from places like BabyCenter[dot]com where women are notorious for comparing themselves to other women. And don’t even get me started on the competition! I was always afraid WWIII would break out on those message boards. Yipes! It’s brutal out there. No need to add that kind of stress to your life.

7.  Consider keeping your unborn child’s name a secret. We did this with our first. We didn’t want anyone ‘hating’ on her name before she was even born. Because guess what? Who is going to say to your face and the face of your new plump bundle of joy that they really dislike his/her name? No one. They’ll save that kind of talk for behind your back… 

8.  There’s no need to buy the fancy, expensive Pottery Barn matchy-matchy nursery bedding set. It’s overpriced and the baby will never use the quilt. In fact, s/he cannot use the quilt in the crib because it’s illegal. Okay, it’s not illegal, but it’s completely not safe.

9.  With the latter being said, I know you’ll still order the fancy PB set because you’re saying to yourself, “She doesn’t know what she’s talking about.” or, “I MUST HAVE IT! It’s soooo perfect!” Yep. I said the same thing. People told me the same thing. I didn’t listen just like you won’t either. & then regretted it. It must be a right-of-passage into motherhood or something. 

10. Don’t take the tags off of anything, and keep your receipts. After my baby shower I got so overly excited that I ripped off the tags and washed everything and put it neatly in the nursery in preparation for the baby. I think that’s called nesting. It turns out Emmalyn didn’t need ALL of those onesies and socks and receiving blankets.

11. Research, but don’t over-research information about childbirth. Personally I felt much more relaxed throughout the whole process because I had read (and watched) about it.

12. Savor all the baby flutters and kicks. You’ll miss them terribly.

13. If this is your second pregnancy and you have a toddler running around at home, please don’t feel bad about the amount of television you let him/her watch–especially in the first trimester. You’re nauseous and tired, and there will not be life-long-lasting side-affects on your toddler because you let them watch seven hours of TV in a row. Just make sure you feed them something edible in between.

*On Child Birth

14. Make a Birth Plan. Review it with your spouse and communicate your concerns and feelings with him.

15. Take that birth plan and THROW IT AWAY. Seriously. I never even took mine out of the bag. There are so many things going on that as long as you talk to your nurse, doctor, and hubby, you’ll be just fine. Honestly, I never gave my birth plan a second thought in the hospital, and laughed when I remembered it was in my bag after I came home from the hospital.

16. Book mark the page in the baby book where you want the baby’s footprints. It’ll make the nurse’s job easier and you won’t forget to have it done either. As an extra ‘happy’ we laid out a scrub shirt to have the baby’s footprints stamped on. My dad did it with me, and since the hubs is a doctor, we wanted to continue the tradition. Super adorable, if you ask me 😉

17. Epidural or no epidural, give yourself a break. I went in determined not to have an epidural, but was paralyzed with pain after a few hours. I made the decision to have an epidural (after talking with my husband) and never looked back. No regrets. Don’t feel guilty! And if you choose to do it au natural, please don’t go all Rosie the Riveter on the rest of us. You make us feel bad about ourselves. I applaud you, really, but guess what?? We both got the same end result–a happy and healthy baby.

18. Your spouse is your advocate. Make sure he can read your mind. Or at least talk, talk, talk about everything and anything. That way, when you’re in mid-contraction and everything seems to be moving a mile a minute and you physically cannot open your mouth to speak, he can do so for you… with confidence and trust.

19. Pack chap-stick.

20. The “Going Home” outfit is pretty pointless because you put the baby in the car seat to go straight home anyway, but with that being said, buy the most ridiculous outfit you want because YOU DESERVE IT! You just had a baby for goodness sake. You can do whatever the hell you want!

*On Postpartum

21. You will bleed. A lot. A lot. A lot. Holy cow! I thought I was going to die of blood loss. Put raggedy old towels on the bathroom floor after taking a shower, or strip the rugs off the floor. Or both.

22. “Tucks” and hydrocortisone are your BFFs. Them, plus newborn diapers in the freezer instead of regular pads. Greatest concoction ever. The nurses will tell you what’s up in the hospital.

23. Take lots of pictures in the hospital. You never get those moments and memories back.

24. Steal–I mean, take everything in the hospital home with you. Even if they tell you to leave them behind, like the thick hospital bed pads. You’ll use them for things like tummy time, stomach viruses, and potty training later on down the road. Take all the baby blankets, too. They won’t miss them.

25. You’re not going crazy. I swear.

26. There will be times you feel like throwing your baby against the wall when s/he won’t stop crying. That’s normal. You are not alone.

27. There will be times your spouse feels like throwing the baby against the wall. That’s normal, too.

28. You won’t throw your baby against the wall. Or down the hall. Or out the window. I promise.

29. Walk away. Your baby will be 100% safe if you put him/her in the crib and shut the door to the bathroom, read a trashy gossip magazine, cry your eyes out, and eat a piece of chocolate. The same technique works when your child is one, and two, and three…

30. If breast-feeding isn’t for you and your family, then it isn’t for you and your family, and don’t let anyone–I repeat, anyone, make you feel bad about that. Sometimes it’s just not in the cards. If mommy’s not happy, baby’s not happy. I know plenty of breast-fed babies who are sick wayyy more often than my little girl who was only breast-fed for two weeks. Everyone survives.

31. Get out of the house as soon as possible. Throw away the old “rule” of waiting a month before taking your baby out in public. The longer you wait, the more anxious you’ll become. In the very beginning, I made a quick and simple trip to Target and refused to let my husband help me so I could get the “complete experience”. Just a quick trip is all you need. Then go home and pat yourself on the back.

32. MOST IMPORTANTLY: If you’re feeling depressed or overly-anxious, please talk to your doctor and seek help immediately! If you are new to my blog and don’t already know, I developed a severe case of postpartum depression after the birth of my first daughter. Worst and best thing to ever happen to me! [You can read more about it here.] 

*On Being a New Mommy

33. The first 3-4 months are hands-down the hardest of your life. Everyone kept telling me to “hang in there” until the baby was three months, and honestly it took me closer to four before I didn’t feel so stressed Every!Single!Day! There was more of a routine established and I had gotten used to the fact that I could run on little-to-no sleep.

34. Drink lots of water! Fill up a tumbler with a straw and drink, drink, drink. Your body will thank me. Oh yeah, eat, too.

35. I have kept a journal (almost) every single day of Emmalyn’s life since Day One. I used this amazing journal. It made it so simple for me to jot down 1-2+ things about what she did during the day. I highly recommend it. I’ve made my own variation of the journal through Microsoft Word and Office Max for each year of Emmalyn’s life. I leave it open on the counter and write something down whenever I can remember to. From first words and foods to play dates to ridiculous temper tantrum scenarios. With that being said, if journaling ain’t yo thang, don’t sweat it! Which leads me to…

36. Every mom has “their thing”. Mine happens to be documenting/journaling my daughter’s life. It’s something I’ve basically done since I was kid anyway, therefore it comes naturally to me. Your “thing” might be making pretty hair bows or bow ties. Or, taking really creative pictures. (I wish that was “my thing” but it’s not.) My point is, don’t feel bad if “your thing” isn’t “her thing” or “this-really-hip-and-cool-mom’s thing”. Cut yourself some slack. If it stresses you out too much to do the latest Pinterest-new-baby-trend, then don’t do it. It’s not worth it.

37. Don’t worry about the appearance of your house. No one truly cares, and everyone totally understands. Because trust me, your house won’t be “back to normal” until… until… well if it ever gets back to normal, someone please tell me when.

38. No matter how many years of babysitting and nannying experience you have, you’ll almost entirely forget everything you know. She just pooped all over me! What the hell do I do? Go to the sink. That’s what you do. Needless to say, you’ll inevitably forget that’s the most practical solution and simply freeze with poop in your hands instead.

39. It will take you at least three days to do one load of laundry. Day one to wash, day two to dry, and day three to fold. Oh wait–make that four days. Day four to put them away. This is just for one load, mind you.

40. Making freezer meals totally saves your butt. Granted, you won’t feel like cooking at all in the beginning (that’s what moms and mother-in-laws are for), but eventually you’ll ease back into it. My life was dramatically easier for the week I made freezer (Crock-pot) meals. Yes. One week. I really should take my own advice.

41. Let them get a little dirty. One of my favorite new-mommy memories was when I let Emmalyn loose at the strawberry patch. It had just rained the night before and she couldn’t walk yet. It was so muddy, but I let her crawl through the fields and she had the most fun ever. I did too. I didn’t even care that I ended up having to throw away the outfit she wore.

42. Always over-prepare. Stock up on wipes, diapers, paper towels, regular towels, and extra clothes. Keep them in your car at all times. You never know when you’ll need them and you’ll always be relieved to have them. On that note, pack an extra pair of clothes for yourself. ‘Ya never know…

43. Don’t ever let anyone convince you to do something you don’t want to do, or convince you to stop doing something you want to do. Case in point, I had many people deter me from cloth diapering Emmalyn before she was born. They told me it was disgusting and I wouldn’t be allowed to use their washing machine. I gave in and didn’t cloth diaper. I completely regret not standing my ground.

44. Never underestimate how long it takes to get out of the house. Your normal fifteen minutes can easily turn into thirty (or more) when you realize Little One has a messy diaper just as you’re putting him/her into the car.

45. You probably won’t feel like you have the whole “motherhood thing” under control until your baby turns a year old. It’s almost as if a light switch goes off and your shoulders become more relaxed and you exhale, ahhh….

46. Embrace your new body and cut yourself some slack! Don’t compare yourself to other moms (especially on Instagram, where there are 50 different filters). You birthed a baby and that is the coolest thing anyone can do on this planet! Love yourself unconditionally and unapologetically. 

47. Get involved in Mom’s groups and outings as quickly as possible. You’ll feel less insane.

48. Don’t be afraid to ask other moms for their phone number. Sure, you’ll feel silly at first, but then you’ll come home to your spouse, jumping up and down, feeling like a giddy teenager who’s crush just circled “Yes”. Trust me when I say the other mom was too scared to do what you had the guts to do. After all, we’re all in the same boat–desperate for other mommy-friends.

49. Ask for help. People really do want to help when they offer. Take it. Trust me.

50. Do something for yourself, and for you and your spouse. Don’t ever forget about the man who helped give you the most beautiful gift you’ve ever been given.

51. Never forget the most important piece of advice I could ever give to any new mommy: No one ever has it all together. If they tell you they do, they’re lying.


What tips would you share with mommies-to-be and new mommies out there? 

If you think this post was helpful, please feel free to share with other prego/new mommies!!

Professional pictures by IG: @mpoulter

Emmalyn’s Birth Story

Okay, so where to even begin?!

On Tuesday, November 16th at 1:30pm Blake and I went to my 39-week check-up. One of my doctor’s, Dr. JS, talked about inducing at forty weeks. This was something B and I didn’t want to do because we wanted Emmalyn to come on her own. BUT I was not opposed to having my membranes stripped. I asked the doctor if she does that and she said yes. I figured it was worth a shot to try and help get things moving along. At this time I was 1.5cm dilated and 80% effaced. Immediately after Dr. JS stripped my membranes, the contractions were coming about ten minutes apart. [And yes, stripping the membranes hurts!]

After the appointment, B dropped me off at home while he went to a meeting at school. The contractions started coming about five minutes apart shortly after he left so I called B to warn him. He said he’d have his phone on him during the meeting. At 4:45pm, I lost my mucus plug. I called B and he said he’d be right home. We packed up the car and went to Labor & Delivery, not sure if this was the real thing or not. My contractions were 3-5 minutes apart, but they weren’t terribly painful. I wasn’t sure if they were supposed to be excruciating at this point or not? But I wanted to be safe, rather than sorry!

They hooked me up to a monitor for about an hour and a half, but sent me home at 9:45 because my contractions were not strong enough to dilate me. But… the contractions were regular at 3 minutes apart, so the nurse said she wouldn’t be surprised if I were back the next day. By 11:00pm, the contractions were getting a lot stronger, but I was still able to get some sleep [on & off].

On Wednesday, November 17th, I woke up around 6:30am with painful contractions. They were certainly much stronger than the night before. I was doubling over in pain. B was sleeping oh.so.soundly. and I remember totally wanting to hit him! But I knew I would need his strength later on and wanted him to be well rested. After a while of rolling around in pain in bed, I told Blake I think I should have some breakfast, and then go to the hospital. [I wanted to have a full stomach before going to the hospital in case I wouldn’t be able to eat for a long time.] I ended up eating in the car because the pain was that! bad! I didn’t want to wait any longer…

On our way to the hospital, I was trying to stay calm and breathe through the contractions. At this point, I was struggling to talk through them. The ride to the hospital seemed like F..O..R..E..V..E..R.. My mom actually called me on the way there. I told her we were on our way and she said she’d start driving over. I told her to wait for us to call and let her know if I was going to be admitted since we were sent home the night before.

We got to the hospital around 8am. We actually saw my other doctor, Dr. AS in the parking lot. He said, “Are you gonna have a baby?” I answered, “I hope so!!” I then had to stop in the middle of the lot because the contractions were so strong. He followed us in to the hospital and said he’d check me. I told him my contractions had been three minutes apart since about 4pm yesterday. He said he’d go ahead and admit me, and break my water.

YIKES!!!! I started getting nervous… I immediately had B call my mom and tell her to come on down. [She lives two hours away]

At 8:45am, Dr. AS broke my water. He checked my cervix, which was uncomfortable like always, but I didn’t even feel my water break, except it gush down my leg [TMI?] At this point I was 2cm dilated and 80% effaced.

The contractions started picking up—A LOT stronger. It was very difficult to get through them. I decided I wanted the epidural. I went to the bathroom since I had a lot of IV fluids in preparation for the epidural. I had back-to-back contractions and felt like I needed to have a bowel movement with every contraction. It was extremely difficult to get through them. I couldn’t even get up off the toilet because they were coming so quickly.

At 9:45am, a nurse anesthetist came in and I started getting the shakes. I didn’t think I was nervous, but I guess I was. But the epidural was a cinch! It didn’t hurt at all, yo. Shortly after, I got the catheter put in, and that was a quick, sharp pain. My mom got there at the same time as I was getting the epidural, but they wouldn’t let her in until the nurse cleared out at about 10:30am. I guess this is when they started the Pitocin, too. It’s funny because at the time I didn’t realize I was being induced.

At 11:00am, my mom, B, and I were chatting and watching the episode of Glee we missed the night before. I’m glad I got the epidural. I was in so much pain at 2cm dilated, that I couldn’t imagine having to get through to 10cm! The whole environment of the room completely changed after I got the cocktail—I was laughing and enjoying the whole experience. [I still don’t regret my decision]

At 11:45am, I was 100% effaced and 3-4cm dilated, so my doctor decided to go to lunch.
At 1:30pm, the epidural was wearing off on the right side, below my waist. [eek]
At 1:40 I asked to be checked because I was feeling an urge to bear down. I was 7-8cm! They called the doctor to come back to the hospital.
At 2:10, I was feeling even more of an urge and asked to be checked again. I was 9cm! The doctor was back at the hospital now.
At 2:25pm, we were READY TO PUSH!

I didn’t really know what to do though, haha! At this point, my epidural wore off on the right and I asked if they could fix it, but the nurse said there was nothing we could do—it was too late. Great…! With every contraction, I had to push three times, holding my breath for ten seconds each time. This was difficult for me to get the hang of at first because I wanted to exhale as I was pushing. But that does nothing for you.

I kept pushing and pushing and really had no idea what was going on down there. The baby nurse asked if I wanted a mirror. I don’t know why, but I said yes. Originally I thought I would never want a mirror—that it would be really gross, but honestly, it helped SO MUCH! I highly recommend it to anyone. Before the mirror, I thought I was making a lot of progress. For all I knew, half her head was out. That definitely wasn’t the case, people. It’s like taking two steps forward and one step back. With the mirror, though, I was able to see exactly what I was doing. And when Dr. AS said, “That’s it! That’s how you should be pushing,” I was able to see what he was talking about. Without the mirror, I had no clue.

At the time I felt like I was pushing forever. The urge to push really is amazingly natural. Since only half my epidural was working, I was able to feel my contractions. I told the doctor when I wanted to push, he didn’t tell me. The worst part of it all was that I was running a fever and was terribly H-O-T. I felt like I was going to pass out! Especially since I had to hold my breath three times right in a row. And I couldn’t even think about trying to fight a contraction. When I was having one, I was pushing—there was no way around it. And it’s not even worth trying to half-ass a push. You just get even more tired. It’s amazing, too, how little the doctor actually does. He just sits at the end of the bed and waits until there’s a head to catch. [lol]

It’s been two weeks and it’s already hard to even remember how I was feeling through all this. Pushing her head out was definitely the hardest part. With a few strong pushes, using everything I had in me [I was sooo determined!] her head was out! One more push, and Ahhhh… the biggest relief I’ve ever felt in my entire life!

Finally, at 3:39pm, Emmalyn Grace took her first breath! I immediately started crying as soon as they put her on my chest. I couldn’t believe I was finally holding my daughter.

Skyping with Emmy’s ‘Auntie Ree’/godmother/Blake’s oldest sister & my Dad back in Orlando [gotta love technology!]:
1st Family Picture:
Studying with Daddy at 3 in the morning:
Going home outfit:

You know, I wrote a two-page birth plan, but it never made it out of the bag. I just went with the flow, and asked the nurses questions as I had them. A lot of things happened differently than I imagined, but in the end, everything was just p.e.r.f.e.c.t.

[But don’t go thinking there’s gonna be another one anytime soon ;o)]

*And in case you’re wondering about the nausea… I haven’t been nauseous since I stopped breast feeding. I’m feeling so much better! Tired of course, but gaining my strength back*

Prepared Childbirth

Over the weekend, B and I had another baby prep class. This one was ‘Lamaze’-based and focused on laboring and coping. We really had no idea what to expect. I half went in there thinking, Oh!em!gee! They’re going to make us sit on the floor, legs.wide.open. chanting, hee hee hoo… hee hee hoo…

You know, like you see in the movies.
Thank goodness I was wrong. It was so much better than I thought! There were only eight couples total and we snagged a spot on the hospital’s sorry excuse for a love seat. [I’m so glad I brought a pillow] Now, ever since grade school, my fear is THE ICE BREAKER! It makes me all anxious and nervous. But of course, what was the first thing we had to do? Introduce ourselves. Duh. We were also asked to share if we were team pink or team blue, and our baby’s name.
I quickly shot a glance at B and whispered: Do we tell? We haven’t told anyone. But I didn’t want to be that couple.
So, when it came to be our turn… we *gasp* told the class our daughter’s name! [Mom, if you’re reading this, please don’t kill me. iloveyou.] We figured no one in the room knows our family or friends, so we’re safe, right? It felt good to say it out loud. But don’t get too excited. Our lips are sealed…
I always hype myself up for introductions, when in reality, they’re never all.that.bad. Plus, when the instructor asked the class why we were here, guess who was the first person to volunteer and answer?? Yours truly. Come to think of it, I was also the first to break the ice at our marriage prep class, too. Weird, no?
Anyway, I digress…
The purpose of the class was to inform us of our options. And to prepare us through knowledge. We mostly learned about: false labor vs. real labor, how to deal with contractions, what to do if your water breaks at home, natural/induced/epidural/caesarean births, pushing, and what to expect right after the baby is born.
One thing this class did have in common with the movies was THE VIDEOS. Yes, the birthing videos… circa 1990. Something you should know about me is I’m a laugher. If someone is laughing, you can bet I am, too. [Even if nothing’s really all that funny.] And when you are watching a birthing video of a full-grown, full-term pregnant lady wearing floor-length overalls, there’s bound to be some giggles. Have you gotten a visual? And if the couple next to you is laughing, ohh it’s even worse.
Fortunately, the lights were off and I’ve become quite the expert in tongue-biting. [Having had a lot of practice in my life!] I was so close to losing it so many times though, that I actually had to stare at a space on the wall instead of watching the video.
Now, I know there are some ladies that are really curious as to what we learned, so here goes it…

Labor at home as long as you can. CONSERVE ENERGY! REST!
Drink lots of H2O if you think you’re in labor… it’ll make false labor go away
Track contractions: 3-5 min apart for an hour… then go to hospital
Use breathing techniques (like hee hee hoo or whatever your preference) when you can no longer walk, talk, or laugh

Pee every 30-60 minutes
Moving helps labor progress
When labor plateaus: change positions, drink, & pee
Squat on birthing ball–open legs and sway

Take one cleansing (deep & slow) breath
Then one big inhale to push
Push from diaphragm down
Bear down for no more than 8 seconds
Get three pushes in per contraction

After baby is born!!!
Baby is usually alert for about an hour after birth
Skin-to-skin contact, a.s.a.p. to help regulate baby’s temperature
Nursing within the first hour leads to better eating habits, long-term
It’s safe to start tummy time in the hospital, and should continue this several times a day
Our instructor suggested letting the baby nap on her tummy once a day (supervised, of course!)

We definitely received lots of useful information and I highly, highly, highly recommend attending a birthing/labor class if you’re pregnant. I feel so much more confident and in control. Of course, my labor will be in God’s hands, but at least I’m not completely.freaked.out. anymore. I don’t do well with ‘fear of the unknown’ and now, I won’t be shocked or thinking things like, whaatt? you have to deliver the placenta, too? AND you might poop during delivery?! No one tells you these things before you’re pregnant, people. 

**I have a well-check up tomorrow, then on Thursday we have an ‘Extra TLC’ class where they’re gonna go more in depth with breathing during labor–something I know I’ll need help with!

To Epidural or Not Epidural? That is the Question!

**I know many women feel very strongly about natural birth vs. epidurals and this is not that kind of post!**

In the last few years of my life, before I was ever pregnant, I felt very strongly about having a birth that was au natural. And when B was just my boyfriend back then, we’d have “debates” over it. He’d call me c-r-a-z-y, but I always stuck to my guns, saying things like, “My mom did it. I can, too!” 

However, that quickly changed once I actually became pregnant […among other things. Remember this post?]. I soon began thinking, Well, you don’t walk out of the hospital with a 5-foot-tall trophy recognizing all your hard work. You don’t even get a Rachel Berry-worthy gold star or button that reads, “I did it naturally.” I guess you get bragging rights? But it’s not like that’s even long-lasting. You just get a “Whoa! Good for you.” Or sometimes a, “Why? She’s crazy!” behind your back.

So, for the majority of my pregnancy I’ve been thinking I’d get an epidural. I mean, why go through all the pain? Epidural or not, every woman still walks out of the hospital with a healthy baby, right?

Well… after our Labor & Coping class this weekend, I’ve since changed my mind… yet again. We had such a wonderful instructor/nurse. She was never ever pushy. But she made me realize that having a natural birth may be a lot more doable [I didn’t say easier] than I imagined.

Bare with me while I give you a little lesson. 
There are four different stages of labor: 

Early Labor: 0-3cm dilated and usually lasts 7-8 hours
Active Labor: 4-7cm dilated and usually lasts 3-5 hours
Transition: 8-10cm dilated and usually lasts 1/2-1 hour
Pushing: 10cm dilated and it’s GAME TIME, BABY!

We were told that if a woman changes her mind and asks for an epidural it’s usually when she’s about 6-7cm dilated, or between the Active and Transition stage. Our instructor also went on to say that if a woman can make it through the Active Labor stage, she is more apt to make it through labor without an epidural, since she’s basically home-free…. only about 30 to 60 minutes left! Most people think that if it took you eight hours to get to 4cm dilated, then it’s going to take you another 8+ hours to get to 10cm. But that’s not the case. The farther along you are dilated, the faster labor gets. [This is, of course, in a ‘normal’ labor.]

That got me thinking. 

If I could make it through the first two stages of labor, then surely I could make it through the rest. 

The first two are the hardest because they last the longest. Our instructor said that if you’re thinking of having an epidural during the Active Labor stage, tell yourself to wait another twenty minutes; or work through another few contractions. She said, you may realize that by the time you do so, you’re about to enter the Transition stage (~8 cm dilated!!).

So what have I decided?

I’ve decided that I’d like to try and do it naturally for as long as I can. Our instructor was very objective in her teachings, but you could tell she was pro natural childbirth (after all, she had done it FIVE TIMES herself!). She was very encouraging about ‘hanging in there’ until about 6cm because once you’re there, you only have about an hour left to go. You’ve made it that far, why have an epidural then? Again, this is of course, if everything is going smoothly with the baby. I’m not even getting into if the baby’s breached, transversed, etc. That’s a whole other story! 

But of course, if I get to say, 4 or 5 centimeters dilated and absolutely!cannot!go!on! I’m not going to feel guilty, or feel like a ‘failure’ if I choose to have an epidural. B and I have discussed it, and I told him that if I ask for an epidural, he has to tell me, “Let’s wait twenty more minutes.” [I will put it in writing, if I have to, to remind myself I really said this because I probably won’t believe I did lol] And unless I’m cursing his head off, he said he’d stick to the agreement 😉

An epidural usually (of course, not always) prolongs labor because the woman is numb and cannot feel when to push. Plus, the woman cannot get up to walk around [due to the numbness]. Getting up and walking, changing positions, rocking in a chair, bouncing/sitting on a medicine ball, or squatting helps move labor along. I want to be able–or at least have the choice–to do the above. Thinking about being confined to a bed because I can’t move my legs makes me agitated inside. (Maybe it’s the control-freak in me??)

But most importantly, I feel at peace with this decision. For me. At least for now. {lol}

*The latter was simply what I learned this weekend. They’re my opinions and does not make me an expert by any means 🙂