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Pregnancy, Uncategorized

Ainsley’s Birth Story

March 5, 2015

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I should start by saying that I went into labor with very few expectations or ideas of how I wanted things to do. I didn’t write a birth plan, was undecided on how I felt about pain medication and was sure that I would have a very long labor since my mom had a very long labor with me. In short, my expectations of labor were low and I fully expected it to be miserable and long, and I was a little bit terrified of the whole concept in the weeks leading up to Ainsley’s birth.

On Tuesday, February 24th, I went in for my weekly doctor’s appointment with my OB to check on progress. I was just over 39 weeks pregnant and was showing great progress (3 cm and 80% effaced) so my doctor suggested stripping my membranes in hopes of moving things along. The procedure was short and slightly uncomfortable but not painful; she said we would know within 48 hours if it had any impact on inducing labor. At this point I was getting very uncomfortable being pregnant, as I’m sure is very normal for anyone that far along. Ainsley had been hanging out really low my entire pregnancy, and I was feeling that extra weight as the days ticked by.

That afternoon after work Joe suggested we go to the gym and get a good, hard workout in to move things along. I don’t know why I put lifting on the back burner for much of my pregnancy, but getting a good, hard (by pregnancy standards – I didn’t do any heavy lifting or anything that I thought would be unsafe) workout felt amazing. We did lots of squats, lunges and leg press, which I have to imagine helped things out. By the time we got home I had started to notice what I thought were minor contractions; they were short and spaced 8 to 10 minutes apart or more so I didn’t think much of them and we continued on with our plans for the night, making dinner and getting ready for one of my girlfriends to come over for a bit.

By the time my friend Kristin arrived around 8 the contractions were consistent and strong enough to prompt Joe and I to download a contraction timer on his phone to record what I was experiencing. They weren’t overly painful but they were coming 5 to 6 minutes apart and lasting for about 30 seconds. At this point I started to think that this might be the real deal, but I was so afraid of going to the hospital in the middle of the night only to be sent home with false labor that I wanted to hold off as long as possible.

At 9:15 Joe and I were watching a recorded episode of Downton Abbey and the contractions were starting to last much longer, around a minute in length. They were still bearable but left me feeling like a trip to the hospital was inevitable. Since I was convinced, as I mentioned, that my labor was going to be 36 hours long, I became increasingly worried about Joe getting a good night of sleep. (What?!) I didn’t want him sleep-deprived for 48 hours so I suggested he go to the guest bedroom and sleep while I labored at home for as long as I could. I told him my goal was to make it until 3:15 before going to the hospital so he could get a solid 6 hours of sleep. Looking back, I think I might be the nicest in-labor wife ever? Or maybe just a little delusional.

I attempted to sleep on the couch in between contractions to preserve as much energy as possible, but after about 2 hours it proved to be quite impossible to sleep. My contractions were now anywhere between 50 seconds and 1 minute and 20 seconds in length and coming about 4 to 5 minutes apart. I’ll admit that I was totally unprepared for just how painful and consuming contractions would be and was quickly becoming eager to get to the hospital for an epidural, no longer undecided about wanting pain medication. I walked around the house, leaned over the couch, rolled from side to side, willing to try anything to get through each contraction and make it to my 3:15 goal.

When 3:15 finally arrived my contractions were still lasting around a minute or more and coming 3 minutes apart. I woke Joe up and informed him that we needed to get ready and go to the hospital NOW because the pain was quickly becoming unbearable. Somehow, during all of this, I was still worried that this was false labor. I remember being on my hands and knees in pain during a contraction and saying to Joe, “If this is false labor, I don’t even want to know what real labor is like!” Along with, “Give me ALL the pain medicine!” It should also be noted that I had some pretty grand ideas about showering and blow-drying my hair when labor began so I could look cute, put-together and fresh, but of course I spent so much time thinking that it was false labor that by the time I knew it was real labor the idea of getting in the shower and doing my hair was an impossible task.

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We arrived at the hospital around 3:45 and when they checked my cervix I was dilated to a 6 and 100% effaced. I was so thankful that I had progressed that much and wouldn’t be sent home but would instead be admitted to have our baby! All attempts at walking from the assessment room to our labor and delivery room were quite difficult and I found myself on my hands and knees between each contraction.

When I got into the hospital bed I immediately ordered the epidural, totally decided at this point that I needed something to help get me through the hours to come. We were informed by the nurses on duty that the anesthesiologist who was on call that morning was the most-requested doctor in the hospital for giving epidurals, and boy can I see why! I don’t have any other experiences to compare it to, but I think I had a pretty great experience. My epidural was amazing; I could feel my feed and move my legs slightly, but I didn’t feel a single contraction. Joe brought his own pillow and blanket (thank you to the person who suggested doing so!) and we both drifted off into sleep for a solid two hours from 6 to 8 am.

The greatest gift of the entire labor and delivery process was the fact that my doctor was assigned to my hospital that day to handle labor and delivery needs and had no other patients in active labor. As you can imagine, we’ve grown quite fond of our doctor since she has been down this crazy road with us over the last 2 years and having her deliver our baby felt so special. She was around so much more than I expected, checking on us frequently, talking with us for extended periods of time and putting me at total ease. She was even around for over an hour of the time we spent pushing, chatting with us between each contraction. Around 10 am she checked me and I was fully dilated and Ainsley had dropped even lower, around a +2 station. We were officially ready to push!

Although Ainsley was low and ready to come into the world, I felt like it took me a bit of time to get the hang of pushing. Once again, my epidural blew me away because I was still able to feel the urge to push but didn’t feel any of the pain associated with each contraction. Joe was such a huge support, holding on to one of my legs while our amazing nurse held on to the other. Some people have asked how Joe did during labor, and quite honestly he was a total champ. Having grown up on the farm, he’s helped with plenty of animal births, and although I don’t like the idea of human birth being compared to birthing a baby calf, there really are a lot of similarities! Thankfully the ins and outs of labor didn’t phase him one bit; in fact at one point Joe was holding both my legs and counting for me while I pushed when the nurse was busy hanging another bag of IV fluids and our doctor was out of the room.

I pushed for 2 hours total; about an hour in I secretly started to wonder if we were making any progress and if Ainsley would ever arrive, but the encouragement of our nurse, Joe and our doctor helped keep me focused and prevented me from becoming discouraged. It was, without a doubt, a physically exhausting process pushing for that long. I was so thankful that we had the opportunity to nap earlier that morning and that I was relatively well-rested and had conserved energy for this part of the delivery process. About 20 minutes before Ainsley was born my doctor suggested doing an episiotomy. She said that it would help prevent a tear that looked like it would be much worse and would get Ainsley here a little quicker. At that point, 1 hour and 40 minutes of pushing in, I was in compete support of her suggestion. Anything to move the process along was good in my book!

About 20 minutes later our little peanut came into the world, crying the most beautiful, loud and forceful cry I could have hoped for. The first thing I noticed was her full head of dark hair and how beautiful her little body was. I still have that image of the first time I saw her burned on my mind; it’s something I hope I never forget. All through this pregnancy I have battled fear and doubt and worried about her health and well-being. Seeing our healthy little girl laying on my chest, so perfect and healthy and wide-eyed left me completely in awe of our creator and the miracle of life and of His provision for our little family of three.

We kept Ainsley on my chest for about 30 minutes after she was born. Joe cut the cord and I marveled at that 2-vessel cord that had caused us so much fear and concern throughout the pregnancy, monitoring her every few weeks and checking on her growth and development. After about 30 minutes I was ready to have her cleaned off, she was weighed and measured and promptly returned to us to cuddle. We marveled at her in the way that only new parents can marvel at their baby, looking at her face for signs of Joe’s features and my own. I was so thankful they waited to put the antibiotic ointment in her eyes because the first hour she was awake, wide-eyed and checking out the world, was so special.

And that’s it! Her birth was so uneventful and beautiful that I found myself nostalgic for labor yesterday as we celebrated her 1-week birthday. That’s certainly not something I ever thought I would say, but the process was so pleasant, beautiful and miraculous that I can’t help but want to do it all over again!

Welcome to the world, Ainsley Moriah! We’re so thankful God chose us to be your parents.

M

Pregnancy

Pregnancy and Body Image

February 23, 2015

photo (69)I’ve spent a lot of time over the years writing about body image on this site. It’s been such a blessing to hear stories from so many other women who have struggled with body confidence and self-acceptance and are now loving and embracing their bodies and all that they can do. Although I’ve made huge strides over the years in loving and appreciating my own body, I have to admit that I was very, very worried about my body and the way it would change and transition while pregnant. Having finally found a happy place with eating and exercising, I felt more at peace in my own skin prior to getting pregnant this time around than I had ever felt before. And that led to a lot of fears and questions.

How would my body adjust to being pregnant? Would I swell up like a balloon? Would my body change in ways that I would never be able to recover from? Were the days of feeling fit and pretty over for good?

Of course, I didn’t feel like I could really express these fears and concerns because we had prayed so diligently for our little miracle baby. I was truly thrilled to be pregnant and didn’t want anyone to get the wrong idea by me complaining or expressing concerns about my body. How silly to worry about my body image when God gave me this amazing, miraculous life growing inside me!

But the truth is, those fears are normal and valid. It doesn’t diminish the excitement of your pregnancy and baby and it certainly doesn’t make you a bad momma, either. There are a few things that I’ve learned about body image along this pregnancy journey that I wanted to share in case there are others out there who are pregnant, newly pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant sometime soon.

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The photo above? That’s me right after finding out we were pregnant with Baby H. Someone should have slapped me for ever having a “fat day” because at 39 weeks pregnant, I would kill to look like that again! Which brings me to my first point…

1. Pregnancy will make you appreciate your pre-pregnancy body in ways you never thought possible. 
I’ve looked back at the photos on my phone from my pre-pregnancy days and been ashamed at the thoughts that I remember having about my body at the time the photos were taken. I remember thinking that I looked chubby or out of shape, picking apart my thighs or stomach. But the truth is, pregnancy has given me an entirely new appreciation for my pre-pregnancy body. Was it perfect? Absolutely not! But my body was fit, healthy and I think I looked pretty darn good. So if you’re not currently pregnant, appreciate your pre-pregnancy body. It’s more beautiful than you can imagine!

2. There are great things about your pregnant body, too! 
I’m sure everyone is quick to tell you about the horrible things that come with pregnancy, like the swollen feet, achy back and stretch marks, but the changes that your body undergoes are just plain miraculous. The more I read about pregnancy, the more amazed I was by my body’s ability to grown and change to accommodate a new little life.

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3. Don’t listen to discouraging stories!
You know what drives me crazy? When people are quick to tell you that you’ll never “get your body back” after baby or that it’s all downhill from here on out. I’m not going into the post-pregnancy period thinking it’s going to be easy, but I’m also not setting myself up to fail by believing that I’ll never feel or look like myself again. I’m fully expecting my body to be changed after baby, but I’m also expecting that with a serious dose of hard work I’ll be able to feel like myself in due time.

If you’re looking for a serious dose of encouragement, read my friend Robin’s amazing story of body after baby. We need more of those amazing stories!

4. It’s not all doom and gloom. In fact, your body may surprise you!
Everyone experiences pregnancy differently. Just because your sister-in-law’s feet grew two sizes or your best friend had horrible stretch marks that never went away doesn’t mean anything for your own experience. Personally I was terrified of stretch marks and gaining 65 pounds, but my body blew me away with how it handled pregnancy. I’ve gained a reasonable amount of weight, my wedding rings are still on and I’m still wearing my favorite pairs of shoes. After two miscarriages I went into this pregnancy with a lot of fear and distrust of my body, but this experience has helped rebuild the trust I have in my body and renewed my appreciation.

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5. Give yourself some grace, but not a free pass.
Hollywood totally glamorizes the crazy pregnancy cravings and eating entire pints of ice cream in one sitting while you’re growing a baby. While I certainly haven’t restricted my food intake while pregnant, I’ve also tried to be reasonable about the indulgences along the way. Knowing that my body only needed about 300 extra calories in the second trimester and 500 extra calories in the third trimester put my eating into perspective. I became more interested in making my calories count in the form of nutrient-dense foods rather than wasting my calories in the form of empty nutritional sources.

That said, there were plenty of times when I indulged in dessert or an extra slice of pizza and did so without any regret. There is no sense in beating yourself up along the way! There should be a few fun perks during pregnancy, right?!

6. Stay as active as possible for your mental sanity.
I had grand visions of running through my entire pregnancy and maintaining a fairly intense workout routine. However, I experienced horrible groin pain from about 17 weeks on, making exercise, especially running, difficult. I quickly adjusted my expectations for workouts while pregnant. Running was off the table but I found that pregnancy DVDs, long walks and hand and body weight exercises were enough to keep me feeling good physically and mentally. Plus, I have to imagine that staying active while pregnant will help when I’m trying to get back in shape after baby.

7. Invest in a pregnancy wardrobe. 
This may be a debatable suggestion, but I would strongly suggest investing in some great pieces of clothing during your pregnancy. Doing so really helped me feel like myself even as my body was changing and helped me maintain a sense of personal style. Although pregnancy is “only 9 months” as many will tell you, that’s a long 9 months to wear clothing that doesn’t make you feel good about your body. There are plenty of reasonably-priced options for maternity wear. My favorites? Gap Maternity and ASOS Maternity!

Other mommas out there, what would you add to this list? 
Madison

Pregnancy

38 Weeks

February 19, 2015

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How far along are you? 38 weeks 4 days 
Cravings? Smoothies, orange juice, water with ice and real fruit popsicles. 
Weight Gain: At my 38 week appointment I was up 29 pounds. I’ve heard that as labor approaches sometimes you lose a few pounds? I’m guessing my total weight gain will fall right around 30 pounds for this pregnancy. 
Fears: I’ve been increasingly worried about our baby’s health. I think it’s pretty normal, but it’s hard not to worry about things going well and baby being born healthy. Just one more thing to turn over to God and realize that it’s all out of my hands, as it has been all along! 
Generally Feeling: I’ve had a terribly easy pregnancy when I really think about it, so I can hardly complain about a single thing, but in the last few weeks my nausea has started to return. Nothing as bad as it was in the first trimester, but it’s making eating a little more difficult. Additionally, sleep has been spotty. Sometimes I sleep like a rock and other times I wake up in the middle of the night for a number of hours before I can fall back asleep. And, of course, I’m waddling quite a bit these days but very thankful that I can still be active at the gym. These days working out is limited to light hand weights and lots of walking. 
Looking Forward To: Not being pregnant anymore! Seriously, I’m getting to that point where I’m dreaming about jeans with zippers and buttons, walking without a painful waddle, and wearing some of my old clothes. I know it won’t happen right away, but moving in that direction will be exciting! 
What I’ve Been Loving: My weekly doctor appointments! I’ve been doing weekly non-stress tests since 36 weeks and getting checked for progress by my doctor each week. It’s fun to be able to be hooked up to the non-stress machine and hear baby’s heartbeat for 20 minutes straight. 
Maternity Clothes? Ha! Yes, maternity clothes and a lot of Joe’s clothes for lounging around the house.
Signs of Labor? Some contractions here and there but nothing too regular. I found out this week that I’m 2 cm dialated and 70% effaced, so there is some progress being made! My doctor said I could go into labor any day or a week or two from now. 
Boy or Girl: Keeping it a surprise until March!

Pregnancy, Uncategorized

36 Weeks

February 5, 2015

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First, I can’t believe it’s been so long since I posted a pregnancy update. I looked back and the last update I did was at 27 weeks. Honestly, the third trimester has been a combination of busy and uneventful, so I haven’t had much to write about pregnancy-wise. Now that I’m in the home stretch, I’m excited to get the updates going again!

How far along are you? 36 weeks 4 days 
Cravings? The entire third trimester has been all about me craving smoothies! I just can get enough of them. I’ve been blending up fruit juice, milk and frozen berries in all ways, shapes and forms and swear that I could drink a smoothie for every meal of the day. I’ve also been drinking a ton of orange juice which is strange considering I’ve never been a big fan of orange juice prior to the end of this pregnancy. Oh, and water with ice!
Weight Gain: At my 36 week appointment I was up 27 pounds, so right within the normal range. 
Fears: Now that labor and delivery is becoming a reality, I’ve been a bit more nervous about actually giving birth. There are just so many unknowns! I’ve read what I think is enough to be informed, but I’m doing my best to leave any expectations for labor and delivery at the door when I give birth. Sure, I have a vague idea of how I would like things to go, but I’m not tied to any one way in particular. 
Generally Feeling: I’m generally feeling large and uncomfortable. That’s pretty normal, right? I’m finding that very few of my clothes fit at this point, even the maternity ones, so I’ve been living in a constant rotation of a few pairs of leggings/jeans and a few tops and dresses that still work. The other day Joe put my favorite wool maternity sweater in the washing machine and I thought I was going to break down in tears because I have so few items of clothing that make me feel pretty at this point. Ha! 
Looking Forward To: Meeting our baby! I’m just so dang excited. Joe and I both feel like this is a big race we’ve trained for and we’re ready to just start running! The anticipation is killing me. 
What I’ve Been Loving: We had an ultrasound this week to check on baby’s growth and a non stress test to make sure little one is doing well. Everything checked out great and made me even more excited for this baby to actually get here. 
Maternity Clothes? Ha! Yes, maternity clothes and a lot of Joe’s clothes for lounging around the house.
Signs of Labor? Just recently I’ve started experiencing a few Braxton Hicks contractions now and again. At our 36 week appointment we found out baby is hanging out really, really low, so low that the ultrasound tech couldn’t even get a good, accurate measurement of the head. Also, during the ultrasound baby’s heartbeat was on the lower side, around 118 BPM, so my doctor volunteered to do a non-stress test to ease my mind. Good news is that baby’s happy and healthy! But the non-stress test did pick up plenty of contractions, so maybe our peanut will come before March 1st? At this point that would be fine with me! 
Boy or Girl: Keeping it a surprise until March! (edit)

Pregnancy

What I’m Packing in My Hospital Bag

February 2, 2015

Having a Baby - What to pack in your bag | Espresso and Cream

Joe and I have been in full-time baby preparations lately, getting everything ready for our little peanut’s arrival. At 36 weeks pregnant, the car seat bases and car seat have now been installed, the baby clothes are washed and we have plenty of wipes, diapers and all the practical things that a baby needs.

My most recent project has been packing my hospital bag so I’m ready at a moment’s notice. I’m not all the way there yet, but I’m getting closer, aside from a few items that I’m still using day-to-day. I’ll admit, I’m hardly an expert, but I think that I’ve put together a minimal yet comprehensive bag filled with the things I’m really going to need. I’m also pretty thankful that we live close to our hospital so Joe can run home and get things that we forget!

Here’s a look at what is in my bag:

1. Nursing Gown and Robe
I recently bought this combination nursing gown and robe for our stay in the hospital and in the hazy days once our newborn comes home. I wanted something that made me feel put together yet was super comfortable and practical. I also purchased this robe from Target that is super comfortable and looks pretty, so I think I’m taking it along as well.
2. Cell Phone and Charger
My phone and charger aren’t packed just yet, but this is on my mental list of things to add at the last minute so that Joe and I have plenty of juice in our phones to snag photos and Instagram, of course!
3. Toiletries and Make-Up 
This week I’m putting together a little travel kit of my favorite toiletries, many of which I already own from all our travels. (my favorite make-up, hair spray, shampoo/conditioner, face wipes to keep me feeling fresh, face lotion, eye cream, etc.)
4. Clothing Essentials
I’ve heard that comfort is key, so I’m planning on packing some of my favorite black Gap maternity leggings, a swing dress that isn’t maternity but has lasted me throughout my pregnancy, one of Joe’s sweatshirts, nursing bras and camis, granny panties that I recently purchased at Target, etc.
5. Belly Bandit
I posted a question on Facebook the other day about the Belly Bandit or other stomach support to wear post-pregnancy. Lots of you had rave reviews and I’m excited to give it a try myself! The idea behind wearing a Belly Bandit is that it helps accelerate healing, support your stomach post delivery and speed recovery. I’m certainly willing to give it a try! I’m planning on doing a full review post-baby on what I thought and how it worked.
6. Hair Dryer (??)
Can anyone tell me if this is necessary? I never thought to ask on our birth center tour, but I take it most hospitals don’t have hair dryers in every room like hotels do.
7. Slippers or Slipper Socks
I picked up a few new pairs of slipper socks with grippies on the bottom for walking the halls during labor and for keeping my feet warm afterwards. They were cheap enough that I’ll probably just toss them before I head home.
8. A Bag of Hard Candies
I’m not sure this is necessary, but I’ve heard some people recommend it. I figure it’s better safe than sorry. 
9. Paperwork and Insurance Card/ID
10. Camera
Since this is a big occasion, I think I should probably pack my nice (big) camera instead of relying on my cell phone camera. I don’t love the idea of lugging my camera with, but I think it will be worth it in the long run. Also, don’t forget extra batteries or to at least make sure your camera batteries are fully charged.

Items for Hubby and Baby 
1. Going Home Outfit (for baby)
2. Blankets and swaddle
Our hospital provides a swaddle but I’m taking one of our own as well.
3. Baby Mittens 
We washed and packed a few packs of those little baby mittens so our baby doesn’t scratch his/her face.
4. Snacks
We went to Costco last weekend and stocked up on a bunch of snacks for Joe, since we have no idea how long labor is going to be or how it will all go. Joe has Cliff bars, trail mix, fruit snacks and gum packed in his bag.
5. Cash/Change for the vending machine 
6. Car Seat
Make sure your car seat is fully installed and ready to go. We heard a story in our labor and delivery class last weekend about a dad who simply put the car seat, still in the box, in the car thinking that was sufficient. Ha!
7. Change of Clothes for Dad
Joe is taking a change of clothes as well as something comfortable to sleep in, like gym shorts and a long-sleeved casual shirt.
8. Toiletries for Dad
9. Air Mattress
We’ve been debating this one back and forth. Maybe it seems silly, but the hospital we’re going to doesn’t have the best sleeping accommodations for dads, so we’re taking a twin air mattress along and leaving it in the car just in case Joe is incredibly uncomfortable and wants to use it.

Mommas out there, are there things I’m missing from this list? What would you add from your personal experience?
Madison