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Maxwell Nils: A Birth Story {Part 3}

Because, yes, my baby is special enough to have his entrance to this world in trilogy format. Yes.

But also, because I devoured birth stories in my last weeks as a pregnant mama-to-be and I hope that I can be of nervewracking help to other expectant mamas with this birth story business.

So, before we move along, read part one and part two. Unless you are like me and always read the last page of the book before you even start it. In that case, continue on.

Well, after hearing that I was only 4 centimeters dilated at 3:00, I let my exhaustion take over. The contractions had, up until this point, been unbearably painful however I was surviving. Breathing is difficult when you are in that much pain, but you make it work because you have to. But, it’s like my willpower gave out on me after Dr. Keith checked me. Or, as Alex said, the contractions just got more intense. Which they did. I still wasn’t getting a break, but sitting there in that bed hooked up to my second dosage of penicillin and fluids, I went into my own hell. It wasn’t even hell, though. It was almost like a void. Alex said this was the most difficult for him because all he could do was watch me. I didn’t want help and I couldn’t tell him how to help if I tried.

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My only guess as to how the rest of my labor would go was my mom’s stories. She had long labors. Twenty-four hour labors. I had a long way to go if I was going to be like her. And, as terrified as I was at having an epidural…. the pain, the catheter, the simple idea of it…. there was no way I could labor for another twenty hours like this. I mumbled out to Alex to call our nurse, Michelle. I wanted to talk to her about pain management.

She gave me this story about how most women say the IV hurts more than the epidural. I disagree (and I told her so when I got my epidural). I will admit, however, that the pain and discomfort of the epidural was nothing compared to the contractions. Nothing. My epidural experience was a smooth one. They sat me on the edge of the bed, which, believe it or not, was nearly impossible between the weight of my baby, the monitors wrapped around me, the pain of the contractions, and the awkwardness of hospital beds. Alex sat in a chair to my side and Michelle stood facing me. She had me hold her shoulders, I dug my head into her chest and wrapped my knees around her legs. I met her hours ago, but I was gripping her like she was my mother. She helped me breathe through the contractions and the anesthesiologist poked me with the numbing needle. Now, my friends, that hurt. Low toned moaning pain, which is worse than “OUCH” pain. The good news, friends, is that the epidural itself was barely even “OUCH” pain thanks to that lidocaine shot. The biggest stress of the epidural was that I was heading to a peak of a contraction as they put in the epidural and you. can’t. move. I was screaming to them so hard about how they better do it right then or I wouldn’t be able to stay still. And in it went.

Apparently they always end up that way- right as you are heading up to a big, awful contraction, those suckers are put in your spine.

Michelle propped me up on my right side, turned the lights out and left to let us sleep. Alex fell right to sleep in the little makeshift bed/ couch they have for the dads. I couldn’t sleep, just sat there with my mind swarming with excitement. Plus, that stupid blood pressure monitor kept squeezing my arm every five minutes…. you try sleeping with a blood pressure monitor on! By the time I calmed down enough to possibly get some shuteye, I could hear commotion in the room next to ours. It was about 5:00 and I relished in listening to the sounds of this little baby girl being born just a few yards away from me.

Michelle came back a little after 6:00 to turn me to the other side. I asked how we were doing and she said baby and me looked great. Then, she left. Except she came back maybe five minutes later to check my progress.

"You’re ready to push!"

Excuse me, what?

"Yeah! His head is right there. It’s time to push!”

Apparently I’d gone from 4 centimeters to 10 centimeters in about two/ three hours.

So she left to grab Dr. Keith and I shouted over at Alex who was enjoying his two hours of rest. “ALEX!!! WAKE UP!!! IT’S TIME! IT’S TIME TO PUSH! WE’RE GOING TO MEET OUR BABY!” His first reaction was how long did I sleep for?

Dr. Keith came back in and they set me up to start pushing. I still had no pressure, no urge to push… I was only a couple of hours into my epidural. They shared with me how glad they were that I got the epidural because of how fast and strong my contractions had become. And, with that, we got to work.

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Pushing was such a memorable part for me. It was starting to get light outside, and inside it was just me, Alex, Dr. Keith and Michelle. Michelle and Alex held my hands and Michelle coached me through each contraction. Each time I would take a deep breath and then push to the count of ten three times through the contraction. In between contractions I asked Michelle about herself, we chatted with Dr. Keith about her baby boy at home, and we laughed about naming babies.

The nursing shift changed at 7:00 and so we told Michelle we were sad that she wouldn’t be there for Max’s delivery. But, to all of our surprise, 7:00 came and it was time for Dr. Keith to suit up in her gear and they called NICU in because there was meconium (Max had pooped in utero) and he would need to be checked out. They kept talking about how he had lots of hair and Alex kept looking over and seeing his head. I knew I was close to the end.

A few minutes later, with both the nightime and morning NICU staff, both Michelle and our morning nurse, Lori, I pushed real big and I immediately could tell that was my delivery push. Even with the epidural, I felt a huge sense of relief and release all at once and he was born. Out he came in that one, huge push, shoulders and all.

They had to take him to the other side of the room, under the warmers, immediately since he had pooped on himself. So Alex didn’t get to cut the cord, Dr. Keith did (Alex was able to cut a ceremonial cutting once Max was stable). But, then he went over and watched everything as he got cleaned up while I kept at whatever I had to do.

I was so distracted by trying to see my baby on the other side of the room that I really didn’t pay attention to the delivery of the afterbirth. I think I remember pushing when she told me to and out it came, but maybe not. Then, she had to stitch me up because pushing for thirty minutes doesn’t come without a few tears I found out. Three tears, to be exact. I would get the epidural all over again just so I could live through the stitching up of my tears. Yikes. Those made recovery not very fun.

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Alex was snapping pictures with my camera the entire time and bringing the camera over for me to see. Finally, probably five or ten minutes later, they brought Max over and I held him right on my chest. I can’t even begin to describe how that felt. I just held him tight and kissed him and talked to him. I could’ve stayed there forever with my new baby.

And, oh, those cell phones of ours. Alex sent out a quick photo and a text message to our immediate family with what battery life he had left and we waited for my brother and his fiance to arrive with a charger so we could spread our happy news even further.

Max tipped the scales at 7 pounds, 5 ounces and 20 inches long. Happy, healthy, perfect, beautiful. And, as Alex told me, “You did good.”

I think I did. Yes, I think I did.

Maxwell Nils: A Birth Story {Part 2}

(Oh, it’s best you read part one before moving along here…)

Once we arrived in our labor and delivery room, I was told I’d have 30 minutes to be free of monitors so I could walk around, hang out, do whatever. (Note: the best thing about intermittent monitoring is that it is my only concept of time…. it’s the only way I can piece parts back together). We quickly settled in and searched for a phone charger. Nothing. Both of our phones were now under 20% battery life and I was, honestly, more concerned that we would run out of batteries than my labor. I had Alex text my brother and my dad and tell them both to come first thing in the morning with a charger so we would have freshly charged phones once baby arrived. Then, I made Alex turn our phones off.

So we started walking the halls with my IV strolling alongside me. It was so quiet. I couldn’t figure it out. How are babies being born all around me but I couldn’t hear a sound? Shocking, huh? While we were walking I felt a few contractions, but nothing I couldn’t make it through. To be honest, walking was boring. I was happy when it was time to head back to the room to be monitored again.

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By now it was a little after 1:00 and I was back in the bed with all of those contraptions attached to me. My first penicillin bag hadn’t finished yet and the nurse noticed it was barely dripping. When she opened it to drip faster, let me tell you, it burned. Oh man. So during the next thirty minutes of monitoring, Alex and I were able to carry a conversation in between the contractions. He could tell when one was coming and we’d just be quiet while I breathed through them. They were getting pretty painful at this point. Sort of like period cramps, but worse. Anyway, I still found them relatively manageable in the grand scheme of labor.

After I was relieved of the monitors, I was also unhooked from my IV bags because that penicillin drip was finally done. We went to walk the halls again because, well, what else do you do at 1:45 a.m. in a labor and delivery ward? This time, however, the contractions weren’t as easy to muddle through. They were coming every minute and I would stop, push against the wall, and squeeze Alex’s hand. I kept rushing past any sign of nurses or visitors to hide around a corner to go through the next contraction. Hidden, I would sway back and forth and try my best not to moan out load. The most terrifying feeling became not the contraction, but the beginning of the contraction, because you knew what was ahead but you couldn’t stop it. We walked one loop of the ward and I rushed back into the room as another contraction started. Alex said we were gone maybe five minutes.

Back in the room, I asked Alex to hold a cold washcloth on my pelvis right where the contractions were. That worked for a little bit. Then, I had him rub my back. The first contraction I wanted it up and down my spine, the next contraction I wanted it the exact opposite way. It was ridiculous how everything worked for about 30 seconds, and then I’d need something else. Eventually I ended up bracing myself in the bathroom doorway. Poor Alex just stood and watched as I rocked myself back and forth in the threshold. I remember looking in the mirror and realizing just how quickly I’d become exhausted.

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Sometime later (I guess half an hour after I started my last walk), the nurse came back to hook me up again for monitoring. I had her give me a birthing ball and she hooked me up while I rocked on the ball next to my bed. Bouncing, rocking, swaying…. everything worked a little bit better on the birthing ball. We kept looking over at the monitors at my contractions. They weren’t giving me a break. They were starting to plateau and nothing was helping.

When the nurse came back to take off my monitors, I went straight for the bathroom. I had to go pee, and then I was thinking I would shower. Why not, right? Well, there was fresh blood when I went to the bathroom so I made Alex call the nurse right back because there’s nothing like fresh blood to terrify a mom in labor. As he was getting off the phone with her, I started vomiting. I wasn’t nauseous at all. I was just projectile vomiting over and over and over again. All over the bathroom.

The nurse came back and said, “Why didn’t you tell me you were nauseous?” to which I replied, “Because I wasn’t.” Well, she made me get in bed and hooked me back up to the IV for some fluids since I’d vomited everywhere. I was also practically naked at this point and asking for the room to be cooler (it was already as cold as it would go). You see, it turns out you abandon any modesty you may have when you go into labor. Things had gone from bad to very bad in a matter of maybe ten/ fifteen minutes.

So there I was on my IV in the bed again and to be honest, there wasn’t much more I was up for at that point. The walking, the birthing ball, the swaying back and forth… nothing mattered anymore. My pain management was literally bracing myself against those plastic arms on the side of the bed and hoping they wouldn’t break (because then what would I push against?). Poor Alex just watched me and I just stared into space.

That’s the thing. I got to a point where screaming, moaning, crying… the pain level is past that. You are just there in a mountain of pain, just there working through to the other side.

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Dr. Keith came back to check on me. “The contractions got stronger, huh?” And then she checked my cervix.  About four centimeters.

She had got to be kidding me. I felt completely deflated. At midnight I was three centimeters and now, three hours later, I was only one more? I was doomed to have a cesarean… there was no way I was making it to 10 centimeters by that evening.

I asked if baby was doing okay. I asked if I was doing okay. Calm, quiet answers. “Your body is doing exactly what it needs to and your baby is doing exactly what he needs to. You two are doing great.” No, my body needed to hurry the %$3!@% up and cough out a baby.

My lovely, kind, gentle doctor exited the room again and left me on that bed where the “break” I was getting in between contractions was literally seconds every few minutes. It was like five to seven minutes of hell followed by ten seconds of rest. Over and over again. And I was barely even halfway there.

More next time. (This story has three parts, we’re really close to the end, I promise.)

Maxwell Nils: A Birth Story {Part 1}

Alex and I had all intentions of writing Max’s birth story down while we were still in the hospital so that we wouldn’t forget any details. Of course, like all things parenthood, we found ourselves lacking the time and energy to complete such a daunting task. Then, as each day passed over these first weeks, I kept almost finding time to jot down his birth story.

Finally, I decided enough was enough. Because these little details are escaping me. I’ll lay in bed nursing in the middle of the night and a tiny detail will come to light and I’ll have a minor heart attack because I had forgotten about that detail until just that moment. So, here we are. I’m finally putting it all down.

If you aren’t into these birth story things, feel free to skip over the text and check out a couple of baby pics (I promise to have a few for each part of this birth story business). It won’t hurt my feelings.

The last week of my pregnancy seemed to go on forever. I remember feeling overwhelmed by the fact that we still had two weeks to go until Max’s due date. I was ready to do everything in my power to induce the little man. You guys, it was hot and humid and I was over it! At the same time, I knew that if he waited until his due date, I’d have half a day more of paid leave built up for maternity leave. Isn’t that silly? I cared about one day of leave! Anyway, we hadn’t bought raspberry leaf tea or evening primrose oil, but there was a lot of pineapple, sex, spicy foods… it wasn’t like I wasn’t trying. The thing about those last few days was that I was so uncomfortable. My pelvis felt downright bruised, I couldn’t move easily, and sleeping was nearly impossible. I was determined to have a baby that weekend.

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So, I scheduled my hair appointment for Friday afternoon and I planned on getting a mani/pedi Saturday morning. Then, we’d replace Alex’s broken iphone and sit around waiting for a baby we were 100% ready to meet. Well, I made it to my hair appointment Friday night. Returned around 7:00 for dinner with Alex. At 7:30 I had to log into work really fast to put up a Facebook ad and check some emails. Yes, I worked literally up until I went into labor. How about that?

There’s where things turn labor-related. I’ll be completely honest with you here (and quite frank, so apologies). And, dad, skip this paragraph. Everyone kept saying sex was the best way to induce labor but I was giving up hope. After visiting the OB that Wednesday to no progress, just another “but I can feel his head, he’s in great position” comment, I didn’t buy it. Nevertheless, intimacy is kind of difficult postpartum so we figured it wouldn’t hurt anything to try again…

Anyway, later on we settled into the couch to pay per view Divergent. We did our usual browsing of the channels while I joked with Alex about how he was staying back that weekend from his buddy’s bachelor party in case I went into labor, but how cruel it would be if nothing happened and he could’ve gone anyways.

As we were about to order Divergent, I felt a deep blow of pain in my cervix. I must’ve said it quick, because I was in so much pain I had to stand up immediately, but I said “Ouch, it feels like someone punched me in the cervix.” And as soon as I stood up, the waters rushed out and down my legs. I looked at Alex immediately and calmly stated, "My water broke, we have to go to the hospital." He was in a bit of shock, as was I. I pulled down my sweatpants to show him the still running flow of amniotic fluid down my legs. "That’s not pee," I said sure of myself.

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And then the shakes started. I thought they were nerves, but apparently shakes are a part of labor. Alex started tidying up and cleaning the house really fast (the cat’s litter, the dishes in the sink…). I checked the time- 10:07, smelled the amniotic fluid (they tell you to so I did to make sure it didn’t smell), and called my doctor. Since I am Group B Strep positive, I had to get to the hospital immediately to start my penicillin drip. Then, I started texting my family as I went upstairs to change my clothes. 

Here’s something I never thought of ahead of time- what do you wear to the hospital to have a baby? I ultimately changed my clothes half a dozen times because I kept soaking my clothes. That water breaking situation isn’t a one time and done thing. It keeps on leaking and leaking…. Finally I realized that I needed to put a pad on to hold off the fact that I was leaking amniotic fluid like the levees had broken. I landed on a black maxi skirt, my rainbow sandals, and a maternity t-shirt that I never really liked anyway.

We ended up leaving the house at about 10:45. My dad had called to ask if he could stop by to give me a hug and I said no. My mom had called and told me to keep her updated all night. And my husband started packing his overnight bag, forgetting that I’d already packed his bag weeks ago. So, with a towel on the car seat so I wouldn’t ruin the leather seats and a deep sigh of anxiety, we headed to the hospital.

Without our cell phone chargers.

At this point, my biggest concern the entire drive was that I hadn’t started feeling contractions yet and I knew that this baby had 24 hours to show up before they’d make me have a cesarean. And that was my greatest fear. Where were my contractions? This baby needed to come!

When we walked into labor and delivery, I was still kind of sort of leaking amniotic fluid and I was just praying I’d make it through the paperwork and onto a bed before another gush came. After quickly checking in (we pre-registered back in January), a nurse took us back to triage and asked me to give her a urine sample, to which I replied “ummm, I can give you an amniotic fluid sample…” and she just told me to try and go to the bathroom. Alex followed her to a triage room and I came out a few minutes later, sample in hand.

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After what seemed like an eternity of answering questions about my health history, she said she was going to check to see if I had really ruptured my membranes, or if I had just peed. As she lifted the sheet in front of me, she exclaimed “Wow! Have you ever! I don’t even need to test, your water has seriously broken.” So that’s when things picked up. I had started feeling period-like cramps during our time in triage, but nothing hurt terribly and I still wasn’t sure I was having contractions.

By 11:30 I was hooked up to the monitors and she was working on my IV. That thing hurt, but I give her credit. It was a good IV. My OB stopped by some time in there as we were reviewing pain management options and my birth plan. I was so happy to see Dr. Keith. My OB practice has about six delivering doctors and you see all of them throughout your pregnancy. Dr. Keith was one of my favorite. She’s soft spoken, constantly smiling…. she’s just wonderful. She asked if I was feeling contractions yet, and as I was shaking my head no, the triage nurse said “she’s having one right now.”

So it had begun. I just didn’t know it. I’ll pick up where we’ve left off next time. Things really speed up after this point. I’ll be back later to share more.

UPDATE: Read part two here.

The Bump: A Pregnancy Chronicle

Oh, hello! I’m here! Easing back into this blogging thing slowly, but I have a ton of content to share with you.

In fact, I’ve been slowly but surely typing up our birth story for little Max and I promise to have that for you soon (in parts because, friends, it is loonnnnggg). In the meantime, here’s a nice little chronicle of my pregnancy. Max came at 38 weeks and 5 days. We were so ready to meet him. In fact, he made a cameo appearance here at the end of my bump pictures. So, anyway, here they are. All in one place.

Sidenote: Keeping it real, that last picture was taken 2 days postpartum. Ladies, it’s true. You still look pregnant after you give birth. Here’s proof.

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Documenting the Bump: Week 38

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I really don’t have many kind things to say about week 38. I’ve skirted by all summer with lower than average temperatures and humidity levels that are practically bearable. Until this past week. The heat and humidity hit the DC area with its’ typical atrocity and I couldn’t be more upset.

On top of feeling like my body just decided to absorb 5 pounds of water weight (which, it pretty much did according to the scale at today’s appointment), there’s this little head that is pushing my pelvic bone apart and it hurts.

Speaking of… it’s also discouraging to find out progress has been zip, zero, zilch in two whole weeks. TWO WEEKS. Oh, but you know what I do get to hear each time? “Well, I can feel his head. You must be pretty uncomfortable.” Ummm…. yes. My pelvic bone is making me uncomfortable. Understatement of the year.

But, now that I have the gripes and pains out of the way (I’ll spare you the details, that list could go on and on), we can chat about other things from this past week.

Since it was incredibly too hot and humid to enjoy Labor Day weekend outside, we did a ton around the house. I’m not sure if it is my nesting energy or if I was just happy to have an extra day to do things like clean our area rugs and scrub ceilings. You can decide.

Also, big news! We always planned on turning our third bedroom into more of a “playroom/guest room” than the hodge podge it was and we completed it this weekend! I will have to share pictures with you. Call us yuppies, but we’re hoping that by having a playroom, we can limit the mass of toys that can pile up around the house over the years. I mean, at least they will have a home, right?

So yes, let’s go through the basics real quick. Still have an innie belly button. I gained a few pounds (oh, but the doctor said that out of all of the pregnant women he’d seen today, I was the lease swollen so YAY!). Umm… what else? I scheduled a hair appointment for Friday after work figuring it’s a safe time to get that final piece of business taken care of. I’ll probably treat myself to a pedicure this weekend, too.

When I think for too long about labor, I get anxious. It’s just the whole part about not knowing anything except that it will be painful and hard. But when I think about labor for a short period of time, I am nothing be psyched and ready to experience birth.

Mostly, though, I’m just trying my best to learn how to be patient and relinquish control. I hear that’s a big thing about being a parent, anyway, patience and losing control over your time. So, here we wait. My basketball baby and me.

The full moon’s going to start pulling in a day or so….. we’ll see if I make it through that…

You can see weeks 8-14 here, weeks 15-18 here, weeks 19-22 here, weeks 23-26 here, weeks 27-31 here, weeks 32-36 here, and week 37 here.

The Hospital Bag Post

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Well, it took weeks of planning and incomplete shopping lists and everything in between, but we are officially packed for the hospital. We have no idea if we have underpacked or overpacked or what have you. So, with that being said, you should definitely not look at this post as your one and only go-to packing list. Plus, much of this is likely to be hospital-specific and based upon what we know about what our hospital provides and offers. Also, if there is anything you recommend we add to our bags, please let us know in the comments below (especially if you delivered at Anne Arundel Medical Center because, well, you are our experts)!

So we actually packed several bags. Each with a different purpose. We’re planning on leaving most of them in the car until we are moved to the postpartum room after labor and delivery. So this is really quite a few lists.

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The Labor and Delivery Bag

  • Folder with all of our medical paperwork, FMLA and disability paperwork, birth plan, pooping and nursing chart (didn’t you get one of these in your breastfeeding class, too?),  etc.
  • A pen
  • His and hers cheap flip flops
  • Toiletries (we bit the bullet and just bought extras/ travel sized everything so that we’re good to go and can leave our bathroom in tact when we leave)
  • Makeup bag (same as with toiletries, I’ve got a second stash of my makeup and I’m using that instead of packing my life away… I figure it will be nice to have it all where I left it when we come home)
  • Hair ties (I packed an entire handful)
  • Clif bars for him (and me after I deliver)
  • Coconut water and applesauce for me
  • Chapstick
  • Swim trunks for him (I predict wanting to take showers during my labor and this way he can be with me… I’m sure my modesty will be out the window, but his will be alive and well)
  • Van Morrison CDs (this is a personal preference, but it’s in the bag)

We’ve also got a running list on the back of our door of things we need to pack before running out the door. These are also going into the labor and delivery bag and include:

  • Cell phones and chargers
  • Laptop and charger
  • Camera, extra memory card and charger
  • Hairdryer
  • My hairbrush (there is no duplicating this gem, and I can’t leave without it)
  • Any books we want to bring along
  • A reminder to feed the cats and do the litter one final time

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The Postpartum Mommy and Baby Bag

For me:

  • Lightweight, dark colored robe (I’ll probably wear just this the first day while I’m recovering and learning the ins and outs of nursing)
  • Black gym shorts (two pairs)
  • Black leggings- I can still wear my Zella leggings so those are going with me (three pairs)
  • Dark colored nursing tank tops (four tanks)
  • Nursing bras (I bought a few different styles, but I’m bringing the ones that are basically like sports bras to the hospital, who do I have to impress?)
  • Full zip hoodies (two)
  • Socks
  • One size too big black cotton panties (I figure I’ll use the hospital ones until it’s time to discharge)
  • Nursing pads
  • Soothing gel pads (for the girls)
  • Overnight, heavy duty pads (for down there… also, if nothing else, for when we discharge so it isn’t so bulky when I leave the hospital)
  • Lanolin
  • Prenatals for four days (in hopes we don’t use all four days worth)
  • Probiotics (I am GBS positive so I’ll need antibiotics during labor and I’d prefer avoiding a yeast infection during recovery…)

For baby:

  • A swaddle (we’re going to ask someone to take it home to our cats before we are discharged so they get used to his smell)
  • Mittens
  • Hats
  • Long-sleeved onesies in size newborn and 0-3 month (the kind that have the built-in mittens at the end of the sleeves)
  • Sleeping sack with long sleeves that have built-in mittens (that thing is one size fits all)
  • Leggings in size newborn and 0-3 month
  • Socks

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The Postpartum Daddy Bag

  • T-shirts
  • Hoodie
  • Gym shorts
  • Sweatpants
  • Boxers
  • Socks
  • Extra blanket for his bed
  • Folded up extra bag (we’ll be stashing away those baby necessities day after day… free is free, right?!)

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Other Bulky Items for Postpartum

  • Boppy pillow
  • Two pillows from home with colored pillowcases (our hospital stressed NOT bringing white pillowcases because they’ll assume the pillows are theirs)
  • Car seat

And that’s what we’ve got stashed away right now. Anything else we should pack? I’m tossing around the idea of buying one of those massage machines so Alex can keep it running on my back during labor. Is that obnoxious?

Documenting the Bump: Week 37

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Now that we’ve reached the “any day now” part of this journey, I decided it would be prudent of me to do these weekly instead of monthly-ish. You’re welcome. But, please, if I’m still doing these in 4 weeks, know that I’m not happy. Please come soon, little peanut. Please.

Also, I would like everyone to know that yes, this is the same dress that Sookie Stackhouse was wearing Sunday night during the True Blood series finale. I had it first. But the Duchess herself had it first-first. And that may or may not be why I bought it? Hmmm…

I feel full term. Did you know that was a feeling? Because it is. And I could describe it, but that won’t matter. I think it’s got to be some cruel way to bond all women together. Because, goodness, do I have respect for all women who bear children now that I can join the club.

My heartburn had eased up since he’s started his descent, but I had the worst case of it last night that woke me up. Oh, you guys, it was horrible. I was stuck on my side and couldn’t sit up without waking Alex to have him help me, and then I ate half a dozen Tums at one time. And poor Alex, still half asleep kept going “Do you want water or lemonade?” to which I replied “well, that would make things even more terrible…” and he just kept asking until I told him I was okay and could fall back asleep. Poor husbands.

Also entertaining: I flushed my debit card down the toilet today. It was in my cardigan pocket to hit up the cafe in our office and plop. I take up more space these days and sometimes I forget, bump into walls and stuff, and this time we had a sacrificial piece of plastic, I suppose. Certainly was good for a laugh or two. Did you even know those things flush? I watched it spin around and around and kept wondering if it would go down or if I’d have to valiantly fish it out. But they flush, they do!

I head to the OB in the morning and I’m considering opting out of the cervical check. As much as I want to know what’s happening, it certainly won’t make things happen any sooner by finding out. Plus, I was pretty miserable after last week’s check. But, knowing me, I’ll get it done anyway.

We installed our car seat this weekend! HE CAN COME! We still need to install the extra base in the other car when that arrives in the mail, but we’re ready! I haven’t taken the car seat back out (I should do that when I’m done with this blog post), so I’ve driven everywhere with an empty car seat hanging out. It’s not good for the anticipation part of this time period. I can see where his little head’s going to rest when I look in the rear view mirror through that baby mirror and it’s so difficult not to feel totally distracted.

So, anyway, yes, I’m still here. He’s still here. I can tell he is growing. He needs to come out before he outgrows his clothes! Goodness… in the meantime, I have to schedule a final hair appointment, take a few relaxing baths, date my husband a few times, plan on getting my nails done in a week or so….. we’re down to the wire. Yikes!

Baby Byland’s Nursery

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When it came time to discuss the nursery, Alex and I both envisioned a relatively gender neutral space for our baby. Boy or girl, we had the backbone of the nursery picked out for the little peanut pretty early on. The one question I was asked over and over again was, “Have you picked out a theme for the nursery yet?” to which I had the most difficult time answering.

The thing is, we didn’t want a theme. No animal safari or trains or dinosaurs or even triangles and circles. If I’ve learned anything about my style preferences over the years, it is that I grow tired of anything too theme-heavy or trendy. So that’s where we started. No theme.

The nursery has transformed a ton. It was originally our third bedroom, with a daybed for guests, but really it was a place to store things we wanted to forget or ignore. The carpet was beige and old, the molding was dark cherry, and the walls were beige and blueberry blue. It was the room we forgot even existed most of the time. Fortunately, we had leftover hardwood flooring in the attic and Alex was pretty sure it was enough to redo the floors. Sure enough, we had only enough flooring to refinish the nursery! But it was a priority for us- we’re both ridden with allergies and asthma and the thought of having a carpeted nursery sounded cruel for our little baby.

Up next was paint. Oh, the paint. I picked out a paint color that was way too minty. Then, I asked for them to take the green out of it. And then I finally went back a third time to Sherwin Williams and begged endlessly until they mixed the perfect gray for the walls. So, if you want to know the color, the best I can tell you is that it’s likely to be closest to “Light French Gray.” And we love it. We love this custom color so much that we’ve painted the other spare bedroom with it as well. We painted the trim white, something I was adamant on because the room’s too small to have such dark trim.

Before we could get down to the fun of decorating and furnishing, we also had to install a new ceiling fan, new closet door, new shades and curtains… this room had a complete overhaul. And it needed it. Alex is my hero for putting our baby’s nursery together over the past few months. He really let me take the reins and make most of the decisions solo. He trusted my vision and I am so happy with how it turned out.

We wanted a serene environment for the nursery. A place that would be calm and relaxing in the early morning hours and still a place of peace at the end of each night. Sometimes, we just sit in the room quietly because it really did live up to our expectations.

A few details that we added. There’s a few allusions to Where the Wild Things Are in the nursery. We knew that if we were having a boy, this would be as “theme-y” as it would get. We also started off with a simple color scheme of grays, whites, and french blues. When I framed the prints from Where the Wild Things Are, we loved how the muted colors in the prints played off of the neutral furniture and wall paint. So, we invited a little bit of color into the room. And, lastly, the elephants. I have a thing for baby elephants. I registered for elephant things and people bought us elephant things and you know what? I’m a fan.

So, welcome to our little man’s nursery. I hope you enjoy it.

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I’ve tried to list everything I could below so you know where it came from, but feel free to ask me any questions, too!

Documenting the Bump: Weeks 32-36

Against all odds, my uterus made it! Let’s take a moment to thank it.

Some of you know, others don’t, just how iffy it was as to whether or not my uterus would make it all the way to the ninth month. I have a bicornuate uterus, which basically means my uterus is shaped like a heart instead of a pear. It also can mean a lot of things for carrying a baby. Everything from a higher risk of miscarrying to stillbirths to pre-term labor to breech babies to, well, let’s just say it’s been a stressful ride. And as high of a risk as I was for everything going wrong, they told me there was also a chance everything would go just fine. Like textbook.

And it has.

So here we are. I’m full term on Monday, with a baby who is measuring perfectly and is upside down, deep in my pelvic bone ready to make his appearance the old fashioned way. I’m so proud of this kid already, defying the odds month after month.

But there’s a lot to say from these past few weeks and I’m just going to bullet list the highlights for you. Sound good?

  • My belly button hasn’t popped out and I really don’t think it’s going to. This makes me a bit sad. I wanted to have a pop-up timer like everyone else, but I always had a SUPER innie and it looks like it is just going to level out with my belly.
  • Realization: I haven’t cooked a full meal since I was knocked up. Let that settle for a minute…
  • Being nine months pregnant is a rite of passage. My bones and joints hurt in places and ways I didn’t know existed. Things are happening to my body that I wish never could happen (ahem, hemorrhoids). And why didn’t anyone tell me that I’d still be vomiting this far into pregnancy?! Getting in and out of bed is more difficult now than every before in my life, but somehow I find myself having to do it every few hours to use the bathroom. It’s unfair. Pregnancy is not for the weak.
  • Baby hiccups in utero are cute. Except at 2:00 in the morning when they keep you up for 45 minutes. Stop swallowing the amniotic fluid already, kid!
  • So…. if you asked me what my body looks like from below my belly button to my mid-thigh, I couldn’t tell you. This is a fascinating thing, not being able to see part of your frontside. I mean, we go our whole lives not being able to look at our backs without a mirror. But our fronts? It’s sort of unnerving. I rely on mirrors and my husband a lot these days.
  • Warning, TMI coming. Everyone talks about the dreaded mucus plug. What nobody tells you (except my OB who confirmed) is that it’s possible to slowly, progressively lose that thing. So I’ve been losing it for a week or so now. That’s fun….
  • Last Tuesday morning I did my daily under-belly check in the mirror (I can’t see down there anymore) and I still was stretch mark free. Twelve hours later, getting ready for bed guess what? I have a few little tiger marks under my belly button. This is what happens why your baby drops. The stretch marks show up. Grrrrr.
  • My weight has evened out. I’ve gained a pound in about 5 weeks (and I really have ice cream to thank for that pound). Baby is growing, but I’m thinning. It’s lovely. So my total weight gain this far teeters between 29 and 30 pounds and the doctor says it’s likely to stay there… unless I decide to eat more ice cream.
  • Also, Braxton Hicks. Goodness I had no idea just how many contractions you have before you are even in labor! Why isn’t this discussed more frequently? I’ve been walking around with contractions for over a month now!
  • Cervical checks are not fun.
  • His nursery is absolutely complete. It’s the best room in the house. He’s a lucky boy. And it’s all a bit funny since he’ll be sleeping in our room with us until he outgrows his bassinet.
  • I spent two hours mastering the art of opening and closing the stroller. Alex still is struggling.
  • I’m phasing into working from home full time. My commute is deadly long (60-90 minutes one way) and the doctors believe it’s best I stay closer to home and the hospital. So when I do go into work, I’m working funny hours where I go in before rush hour and leave mid-day, finishing my work day at home. I am so fortunate to have the ability to flex my schedule like this, and I’m also looking forward to teleworking 100% of the time as I get closer. I’m always uncomfortable these days, but at least I can be uncomfortable in my own home now.

We’re ready. I really mean it, I know I do. We are so ready to hold him and kiss him and tell him how much we love him. We’re ready for our lives to change for the rest of eternity. We’ve watched our labor and delivery classes, we’ve read the parenting books, we’re baby proofing the house. Everything is about to change and it’s really awesome to feel that timing is so perfect. Although, to be perfectly honest, I am also ready to have my body back, but that’s not happening until I’m done breastfeeding so…. the journey continues.

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You can see weeks 8-14 here, weeks 15-18 here, weeks 19-22 here, weeks 23-26 here, and weeks 27-31 here.

On Baby Registries

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Well, I need to start by telling you that this is nothing more than a pure, unsolicited review. Because I’m about to rave about a website and you are going to think I was paid to say these things. Nope. I just had such a good experience that I wanted to share the love.

Also, since I clearly don’t have a baby yet, this isn’t any sort of “what to put on your baby registry” post because, let’s face it, I will have no idea if anything we registered for turned out to be beneficial until this little dude actually arrives.

Anyway, now that we have the disclaimers out of the way, let’s talk BabyList Registry. This website is excellent. Amazing user experience.

So, to absolutely no surprise of anyone who knows me, I started researching what we would need for baby early on. Starting with the basics (carseats, cribs, strollers), I began reading consumer reviews, product recalls, comparison trackers… you name it. It all goes back to my theory that it’s better to buy something right the first time then have to replace a mediocre product later on. Saves you money. (Case in point, every single pair of Frye boots I’ve owned since forever ago. But that’s another story for a another day.)

Okay, so, once we safely made it into the second trimester, I bought a diaper bag to celebrate. This diaper bag (and even though I haven’t used it yet, I will recommend it just because it’s so lovely in person). Either way, that set the gears in motion for realizing babies need things and we’d ultimately need to put together a baby registry. The problem? Babies R Us and Target are really the only standard baby registry stores in Annapolis and I wasn’t completely thrilled with either of their selections on the other side of my 3 month research study on baby products (remember? see above). Plus some things we had chosen weren’t available in big box stores at all.

We thought about Amazon, but what if people wanted to visit a real store? That didn’t seem fair. And then I came across BabyList Registry. Which is essentially Pinterest for baby shopping. Seriously. They’ve got their little bookmarklet and you just pin (errrr, add) things to your registry from anywhere on the internet. Then, they’ll add comparison prices from other stores. So when someone picks an item, they can see options for where to buy the gift from.

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Sidenote: I love the bookmarklet feature. I can’t tell you how many times I have been out shopping, found an item that I knew I wanted to get a bride or a mom from their registry, but then felt torn because I was in the wrong store. It’s made me think “Can’t I just call Bed Bath and Beyond and tell them this item has been bought at Target?” I guess it doesn’t actually work that way, though.

Except at BabyList! Because BabyList allows you to reserve and item and buy it from wherever. I mean, think about how nice that is. I even got hand-me-down gifts and Craigslist gifts that people were able to reserve from our registry. Call me weird, but that made me so happy. 

So back to the fun little bookmarklet. It’s also an app. So you can pin (errr, add) items to your registry from your phone. Much more productive than pinning recipes you’ll never use, wouldn’t you say? You can also browse their catalog, inspiration registries (there’s even an Ikea inspired Scandinavian registry), and order registry insert cards.

They also give you space to write a little note for people to read. And, oh, get this, space to leave a little note on each and every item you register for. That includes other registries (we didn’t register anywhere else, but you can link your big box registry right to BabyList).

A perk we were concerned we’d miss out on was the completion discount programs. Have no fear, we actually got discount codes from several places using BabyList.

At the end of the day, we ended up very happy with the whole registry process. We browsed the big boxes for items whenever we went out. Still, to be honest, most of what we ended up registering for was based off of recommendations from friends and colleagues.

Anyway, if you are in the market for a baby registry, definitely consider BabyList. I’ve had several instances where I’ve actually corresponded with the real people behind the website (different reasons, all with positive outcomes) and that’s just so nice, isn’t it? I am so tired of the automated telephone service world we live in these days. Real people rock.