Five on Friday: My Baby Faves

When I was pregnant, I spent countless hours asking my friends what I needed for the baby and scouring Lucie’s List and Amazon for reviews on cribs, strollers, jumperoos, baby bathtubs, the works! I’ve learned mostly through trial and error what works for us and what doesn’t, but I thought I’d share some of my personal “must haves” for a first time mom.

71iz39zcjfl-_sx522_

Fisher Price Sit-Me-Up Floor Seat. This thing is amazing. We started using it when Baby E turned three months, so that she wouldn’t have to constantly be on her back or tummy. She did ok with Tummy Time, but she really enjoyed being able to sit and play. I was able to put her in her “froggy chair” and wash the dishes, clean the bathroom, put the laundry away, etc. Of course as soon as I bought this one, they came out with one that has a tray so you can put other toys on it. Even so, this chair is a definite winner for us!

 

81cnwlz4uwl-_sx522_Boon Grass Drying Rack. I wasn’t planning on bottle-feeding, but it is what it is. I bought bottles before baby arrived as a backup, and it’s a good thing I did. On Amazon Prime Day last summer, I saw the Boon Grass Drying Rack available and I realized that if I did end up using bottles, I was going to need somewhere convenient to dry them. This thing is wonderful. It sits right next to our dish drainer on the counter, but it allows me to keep all of her bottle parts (thanks, Dr. Brown) together. Just lift the grass out, dump the excess water and wipe it all down.

 

41oemawsmklNoseFrida. I know, I know. It’s disgusting to even think of sucking snot out of your baby’s nose with your mouth. BUT, trust me, when your precious little peanut is having trouble breathing and the stupid bulb aspirator you got from the hospital just isn’t cutting it, you’ll try anything. One of my best friends bought me one and it is probably the single best baby gift anyone has given me. I’ll give one to every expecting mom from now on because it is THAT awesome. The boogers don’t come anywhere close to your mouth, by the way. There is no way possible that you could ever accidentally suck down some of your baby’s snot.

81e045uv26l-_sy679_Ergobaby Four Position Carrier. I know it’s expensive. I held out on buying one for that very reason. However, I’ve tried a K*tan, a Boba, an Infantino Unison, and the Ergo, and the Ergo far surpasses all of the others. The K*tan was frustrating because although it’s easy to put on, it’s not adjustable. The Boba is adjustable since you have to wrap it yourself, but I didn’t feel like it was secure enough once Baby E weighed over about 10 pounds. Plus, it was hard for me to get the fabric stretched quite right once I had to let her little legs dangle out. The Infantino Unison is pretty awesome since it’s a soft structured carrier – just put it on over your head, pop baby in, buckle, and go. Easy peasy, it’s adjustable, and it’s small enough to throw in the diaper bag. This was my favorite for a little while, but as Baby E got bigger, I couldn’t get the fabric to stay spread from knee-to-knee – I had to adjust it every few minutes. And although it says you can carry baby forward-facing, it’s not ergonomic for baby as their legs just dangle straight down – no hip support. The Ergo is pricey, it’s a little harder to put on (I can’t reach the between-the-shoulder-blades clasp by myself), but WOW is it comfy. It feels incredibly secure, Baby E seems comfy, and there’s no questioning whether baby is in it correctly.

41szcbn2t5lBaby Einstein Take Along Tunes. This was another gift, and it has been a lifesaver. Anything with lights and music is GREAT, but I like that this is small and easy for Baby E to hold by herself. She can press the button easily enough, and the lights keep her entertained when she’s starting to have a meltdown. I’ve been using it with her ever since she was a newborn, but now she’s finally old enough to play with it independently and she loves it. It follows us from room to room and she chews on it and has a great time.

Unintentional Hiatus

So, I just realized that I haven’t posted since mid-December. Haha, oops. Every night when I lie down in bed, I go over in my mind all the things I want to write about and I keep telling myself I will start again tomorrow.

My absence has not been for lack of material, I assure you of that. New motherhood leaves no shortage of good blog material! I’m just so TIRED all the time, despite the fact that Baby E sleeps for 12 hours every night. The 24/7 responsibility for another person is just exhausting no matter how much rest you’re getting.

I’ve also been dealing with some PPD/PPA issues since October, and I fully intend to write about them once I get my thoughts in order. While I was ashamed at first, I know now that I have nothing to feel bad about. I believe that it’s important for me to share my experience so that other moms may read about it and realize they’re not alone or crazy or bad mothers. I am happy to report that I’m doing much better now thanks to medication and opening up to my friends and family.

Otherwise, my days are full of snuggles and smiles and dirty diapers. Baby E has started solids and is working on crawling. She has also mastered the fine art of screeching like a howler monkey, and she enjoys sharing this talent with the world at the most inopportune times, such as during Mass. She has moved into her crib and we have a convertible car seat sitting in the office just waiting to be installed. She loves to roll around and put everything in her mouth. She also drools like a faucet, so I spend a large chunk of time washing the 30+ bibs we have every couple of days.

She is growing up much too quickly, as babies tend to do. I’m doing my best to enjoy every second with her and to savor all of the sloppy kisses and nighttime hand-holding because I know that it will all be over before I know it.

Adventures with Santa

One of the things I most looked forward to while pregnant was Christmas and all of the traditions I planned on continuing from when I was little, as well as new traditions I wanted to implement for Baby E. I absolutely insisted to hubby that we had to take her for pictures with Santa.

I bought her a fancy Christmas dress and tights. I researched which mall had the best Santa. We got her dressed, packed her up, and headed out only to find massive lines that looked hours long. We tried three separate times on different days at different times and still no luck. I found out that some malls let you make a reservation to minimize the wait time, but you have to prepay for a package and it’s nonrefundable. One thing I’ve learned in my short time of being a mother is that infants are unpredictable and paying for anything in advance is a bad idea.

We decided to give it one last chance at a different mall near hubby’s job. I planned to meet him there in the afternoon. If it didn’t work out, then I would go on my own with the baby first thing on a weekday morning.

She woke up from her nap. I fed her. I asked her to please not poop until we got home. She smiled, which I took as agreement. I ended up having to buy her the same dress in a bigger size because she outgrew the other one in the short time we had it. I dressed her, putting a cloth diaper in between her disposable and her dress, just in case she had a poopsplosion in the car.

Everything was fine as we were driving. I could hear her in the back seat playing with her kitty. All of a sudden it got eerily quiet and for a brief second I thought I was fortunate enough that she had nodded off again. My excitement was short-lived, however, when I heard the first tell-tale grunt of a pooping baby. Not long after those brief strains did I hear the explosion of poop and I knew immediately that her outfit was ruined. And to add insult to injury we were stopped in traffic and the car was slowly filling with the stink of dirty diaper.

When we got to the mall, I had to take her out of her car seat and assess the damage in the car. I ended up having to strip her naked in the Macy’s parking lot and essentially bathe her with baby wipes. She had poop all the way up her back, on her legs, on her stomach, everywhere. Her white tights were ruined. The cloth diaper took the brunt of the damage, but her pretty dress was a close second. Luckily I had brought a backup dress with me, although it wasn’t nearly as festive.

Clean and dressed, we made our way to Santa and hubby. Luckily there were only about 5 families in line ahead of us. We waited about 15 minutes and then I had to hand her over to a stranger – what a bizarre feeling. I stood behind the photographer and called her name and waved and tried to get her to smile. Hubby tried the same on the other side. No luck. She refused to smile, but she didn’t cry either, so I’m calling it a win.

On Being a Motherless Mother

10154429_10100308106189928_8168197604952203850_n

Today marks five years since my mom passed away. Like every single day, I miss her terribly and wish she were here. This year is especially difficult because I am a mother now as well and feel like I am missing out because she isn’t here to experience it with me.

The night before my mom died, I remember thinking a few different things. The first thing that crossed my mind was, How are we ever going to celebrate the holidays again? Thanksgiving is next week. The next thing I thought was, I am never going to have children if it means that she won’t be able to meet them. I swore to myself that there was no way I would ever want to have a baby because my child would never know their nana, and she would never meet her grandchild. I felt this way for a long time, but then my best friend, Christina, gave me some amazing advice that made me change my outlook on the situation.

During my pregnancy, I mostly ignored the fact that my mom wasn’t around. This was especially hard because pretty much every baby book and website tells you to turn to your mom, sister, or aunt when the baby arrives. Also, doctors constantly ask about your mother’s pregnancy and labor, so I was continually having to tell people that she had died several years prior. This always led to looks of sympathy and apologies on their part and lots of awkwardness on my part. I turned to my dad for answers to my questions about my mom’s pregnancy – Did she have a lot of morning sickness? How long did she work? Were there any complications? How long was her labor? Did she have an epidural? What was her recovery like?

Then Baby E was born and the second I looked into her eyes my heart swelled with more love than I have ever known in my whole life. And I finally understood my mother. I realized in that moment that all the times she asked about my day she wasn’t trying to be nosy, she asked because she cared. When she wanted a hug she wasn’t being weird and pushy, she just loved me so much. When she sacrificed things so that I could have something, she did it willingly and without regret.

I miss her now more than ever because I finally understand her. When I sit in the dark with Baby E, rocking her to sleep and holding her little hand, I sometimes cry because I can’t tell my mom how much I appreciate her and everything she did for me. We sit in the chair in the nursery underneath a photo of my great nana, my nana, my mom, and me. I love that photo more than anything because it inspires me to always be as strong and kind and loving as the women who came before me.

Baby E’s Two Month Update

I can’t believe my tiny little peanut is two months old already! She went from being a fragile 6 pounds 10 ounces, to a much sturdier 11 pounds 1 ounce. I look at pictures from when she was first born and I can’t believe that skinny, squirming newborn has turned into my chunky, flailing infant.

She had some issues with acid reflux and lactose, so she was switched from the regular Enfamil Newborn to the Gentlease. I noticed an almost immediate improvement in her eating – no more choking and gagging during feedings, no more kicking and screaming, no more arching her back and crying, no more wanting to eat every hour. Now she eats calmly, roughly every 2-4 hours, although for the past few days she has been giving us a nice long stretch at night. Except last night, when she was up at 11:00 pm and 3:30 am. I blame that on her shots, though. She slept most of the day because of them and I think it threw off her new sleep schedule.

Around six weeks, we really started to implement a bedtime routine for her. Around 7:30 pm, I tell her it’s bedtime and she says goodnight to daddy. She and I go upstairs and do a diaper change by nightlight in her room. I put her pajamas on as well, and then if it’s time for her to eat, she has a bottle also by nightlight and with her Sleep Sheep playing white noise in the background. There is no eye contact or talking during any of this, which is really difficult because she’s usually super smiley and adorable at nighttime. I rock her for a little while (she has to stay upright for 15-20 minutes after eating) and then she is transferred to her bassinet in our room. Her Sleep Sheep goes with her. Most nights she will wake up when I put her down, but she is pretty good and will only fuss and flail around a bit. As long as she doesn’t cry we just watch her on the monitor and she falls asleep about 20 minutes later. If she does cry, one of us will go up and offer her a pacifier and rub her tummy and hair until she calms down. We don’t pick her up unless she is inconsolable, which has only happened once. Usually as soon as we walk into the room she stops crying.

She was waking up at midnight, 3:00 am, and 6:00 am, but for the past several nights she has been taking a small amount of formula at bedtime and then she sleeps from roughly 8:30 pm to 3:00 or 4:00 am. This is fantastic for me because it means she is in bed by 8:00 pm so I get to spend some quality time with hubby, watch a little TV, and then go to bed by about 9:30 pm. That gives me a nice lonnnng sleep. I do her middle-of-the-night feeding and then she goes back down until about 7:00 am when she is ready to get up for the day. Mommy is not a morning person, so Baby E has learned to hang out in her bassinet and watch the ceiling fan, look at the light coming in the windows, and babble to herself and me while I get to keep my eyes closed just a little bit longer before beginning the day. I’m very blessed that she is calm and perfectly content to entertain herself. Obviously if she starts to fuss or cry I suck it up and get going.

She is not a big fan of daytime naps lately, although I do usually get one long one out of her at some point during the day. The only problem is that in order for her to sleep for a decent amount of time during the day, she has to be sleeping on me. This means I get very little done because I am often confined to the couch for 2-3 hours while she sleeps. I don’t mind too much because at least I get to rest and zone out while watching TV or playing on the internet, all the while enjoying warm baby snuggles. Hey, one day she’s not going to want anything to do with me, so I’m trying to soak up the loving snuggles while I can.

If she’s feeling especially generous towards me, she’ll tolerate me putting her in one of the carriers and wearing her around the house while she naps. This way I can wash the dishes and her many bottles, or throw in a load of laundry, pay the bills, go to the bathroom, etc.

Now that she’s on a different formula, she’s much calmer when she’s awake. I read to her a lot even though she has no idea what’s going on. She smiles and waves her arms around, but I think that’s more so because I make funny voices and faces at her during the story. She does tummy time several times per day and is usually ok about it, but towards the evening she gets lazy and will just lie there and grunt. I put her down on her activity mat, but she doesn’t really swat purposely at any of the hanging toys yet. She likes watching the lights and looking at herself in the hanging mirror, though. She has also grown to love her swing. She hated it the first couple of times I put her in it, and then I discovered that she only likes swinging forward and back, rather than side to side. Also, it has to be on the fastest setting and the mobile and lights have to be turned on. Now when I sit her down in it, she immediately smiles and waves her arms around. She is much more talkative now, so when we sit on the couch together and I talk to her, she will often reply with some kind of noise – and she is making new ones every day!

She definitely likes things done “with purpose.” When we rock her, we better do it like we mean it. No gentle rocking for this little lady! If we walk her around the house to calm her down, we have to speed walk. The swing has be on full speed. She likes being in the stroller only if we’re going over slightly bumpy ground – if it’s too smooth, she fusses.

She had her two month checkup and vaccinations yesterday. The doctor was pleased with how much she has grown and said that she looks “perfect.” She is right around the 50% percentile for everything. I was concerned about a flat spot on the back of her head, but the doctor assured me that it is minor and common. She said all babies have a preference for lying on one side and it’s hard to avoid a flat spot since they spend so much time on their backs: sleeping on their backs at night, napping on their backs, lying on the floor on the activity mat, sitting in the swing, sitting in the car seat, etc. She said if I notice her sleeping on that side, I can try to turn her head, but she might not like it. As long as she has full range of motion in her neck (she does!), then she is fine.

Five on Friday

  1. I finally got around to putting batteries in the Rock ‘n Play, and have discovered that if Baby E is freaking out, she will almost instantly calm down if I turn the vibration on. She’s sleeping peacefully in it now as I type this (although for how long, no one knows). It’s still not the miracle product everyone makes it out to be, but she will catnap in it and will sometimes even just calmly sit in it while I get things done around the house (i.e., pee, scarf down a sandwich, etc.).
  2. I’m thinking of starting The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo as my next read, as soon as I can find some time. Right now any spare time I have is usually spent sleeping, and by “sleeping” I generally mean closing my eyes and praying that the baby doesn’t wake up. And then the baby wakes up. I swear there is an alarm in her head that goes off anytime hubby or I are about to relax.
  3. Usually I would have started decorating for Fall already, but I haven’t been able to this year. I was going to skip the Fall/Halloween/Thanksgiving decorations and just save up all my energy for Christmas decorating, but now I’m having second thoughts. Hubby stopped at Target the other day to pick up Baby E’s Halloween outfit and he surprised me with these really cute kitty Halloween towels. I think I’ll take some time this weekend and pull some stuff down from the attic. I’m not going to go all out, but I really do need SOME stuff around the house to make it feel festive.
  4. I had my first pumpkin muffin of the season last night and it was glorious! Again, if I can find the time, I think I’ll make a quick batch of my own to have on hand.
  5. Every day I tell myself that we are going to get outside and go for a walk, and every single day I fail. Either she is too fussy, it’s too hot/sunny, or the day just gets away from me. I really need to start getting outside, though, while I still can. Before I know it, it’s going to be winter and we’re going to be trapped in the house day after day. Not only does she need the fresh air and stimulation, but I could use the exercise. I only gained 30 pounds during my pregnancy, and 20 of those came off instantly after birth, but I’ve still got 10 extra pounds of flab hanging around that I’d like to get rid of. My diet right now consists of anything I can eat one-handed and/or quickly during the day, and whatever is fastest at night for dinner (this usually means pizza or some kind of takeout now that my mother-in-law is away and not cooking for us anymore).

What I’m Reading

Honestly, I finally finished reading Prep the other night while hubby had the baby. I was able to lie on the couch with a snuggly blanket and read just like I used to. It was fabulous. However, I don’t have the time or energy to form the correct words to write a proper review. Suffice it to say that I really enjoyed it. Also, it took me being more than halfway through it before I realized the author is a woman. I was so impressed with how well Curtis was able to write from a teenaged girl’s perspective. Haha.

These days, I’m doing a lot of much lighter reading…

Baby E’s Godmother got her this book for her Baptism a couple of weeks ago. We read it together for the first time the other day and I’m pretty sure she enjoyed it as much as I did. I managed to get a couple smiles out of her when I showed her the pictures of the bears.

The baby bear asks mama where he came from, so mama explains how they asked God for a baby and they got him. She tells him how her stomach got bigger, how they went to doctor’s appointments, and how they prepared the nursery. Obviously Baby E has no idea what any of this means, but I think this will be a good book for when she’s a little older and starts asking the same questions as baby bear.

I liked it so much that I immediately went on Amazon and ordered every other “God Gave Us…” book by these authors.

Go, Dog, Go was one of my favorites when I was little. I especially liked the big dog party in the tree at the end. However, I didn’t realize how ridiculous the story is until I’ve started reading it to Baby E recently. There is one particular subplot of two dogs that keep running into each other. The female dog asks the male dog if he likes her hat. He is extremely rude and keeps telling her that he does not like her hat and then he leaves. I still love it – all of the dogs are adorable and I enjoy the drawings – but it’s definitely a weird one.

Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You? was a gift. I had never heard of it before, but we’ve read it several times and it’s cute enough. I’m guessing it teaches sounds? I kind of feel like an idiot when I’m reading it to her because of all the weird noises, so this is one that we read when we are home alone during the day.

Five on Friday

I attempted to write a blog post last week, but Baby E just wasn’t having it. I am currently sitting in the dark in her nursery listening to her Sleep Sheep play water sounds while she fights sleep in her crib. She is just over six weeks now and thinks it’s her job to not nap during the day anymore. It’s like she’s afraid she will miss out on something awesome.

Anyway.

  1. I realize I haven’t posted anything book-related in quite some time. I am actually currently reading Prep, and by “currently reading” I mean that I haven’t touched it since just before she was born. In fact, that is the book I was reading the night I went into labor. That was almost 7 weeks ago. Oops. I bring it down to the living room every morning with the intention of finishing it as soon as the baby falls asleep, but then I realize I would rather be napping.
  2. Baby E has been congested since birth, and the doctor keeps saying that we need to get the boogers out of her nose. Problem is, the nasal aspirators don’t work all that well. I read really good things about the NoseFrida online, but the idea of sucking her snot out with my own mouth kind of grossed me out. I asked a friend about it and she said it is the greatest thing ever. She ended up buying me one so I had no excuse not to try it. Oh my goodness. It is a lifesaver! I will be buying one of these for every expectant mom that I know. It’s so much less gross once you actually try it, and it gets EVERYTHING out with a little saline spray beforehand. Baby can breathe much easier now.
  3. I tried hard during my pregnancy not to made any bold “I’ll never…” statements. One thing I was very iffy about was baby wearing. I thought it was for hippies. I’ve never seen anyone wear their baby around here and I didn’t know if any of my friends did it. I registered for a basic wrap (K’tan) anyway and my coworkers ended up buying it for me. I finally tried it one day when I really needed to get off the couch but Baby E couldn’t stand not to be touching me. She screamed for a couple of minutes at first and then promptly fell asleep. FOR HOURS. The K’tan is good because there is no wrapping involved – just put it over your head and go. But, the downside to that is that you can’t adjust it to fit either more snugly or more loosely. Also, it’s REALLY hot. I keep the baby in a onesie and I wear a tank top and we still both sweat like crazy. A friend let me borrow her Boba wrap and I like it a LOT better. Yes, you have to tie it, but it’s so easy. I can do it by myself without any problems. It’s also a little more breathable so we don’t get as swampy when we use it.
  4. Apparently my company is having a BBQ tomorrow for everyone and I wasn’t invited. One of my coworkers texted me to ask if I was going and I told her I never received an invitation. My boss then emailed me and told me he forgot to include me. Thanks a lot, that makes me feel great. I know I’ve been out since May, but I’m still an employee.
  5. Last week was the baby’s baptism. I was really nervous that she would cry during the whole thing and cause a scene, but she was a perfect angel and slept for most of it. She only cried when the priest dumped water on her head and then went right back to sleep. Whew!

Life with a Newborn

It’s true that you really don’t know what it’s like until you’re living it. Every single sleep-deprived, poop-stained, screaming second of it. I am sitting here with a sleeping baby strapped to my chest because that is the only way she will stay calm and quiet long enough for me to get anything done.

Overall Baby E is a REALLY good baby. She eats well, she sleeps occasionally, and the only time she really cries or fusses is when she’s hungry and we’re too slow with the bottle prep or when she’s overtired. She is nowhere near a routine or schedule of any kind, but she seems to only need 1-2 night feedings now, and she actually gave me a 3-hour block of sleep the other night! I felt like a new person when I woke up (in a complete panic because of course something must be wrong with her, right?).

My days (and nights) consist mostly of washing bottles, drying bottles (seriously, if I ever meet Dr. Brown, I am going to punch him/her in the face for creating the most annoying bottles on the planet), feeding her, changing her, changing her again because she just pooped in the brand new diaper, bathing her because she pooped all over herself (and me), snuggling her to sleep, annnnd repeat. That being said, I have managed to find time to shower and eat, although most of our meals are eaten cold these days. Also, my husband and I have perfected the art of hand signals and lip-reading so as not to wake the sleeping baby. If you’re pregnant, work on this now. Oh, and figure out how to turn on the closed captions on your TV. You’re going to need them.

Sarcasm and joking aside, it’s been really great. Sure, I’m tired and stressed out and there has been more crying on my part than I anticipated (mommy guilt is no joke, you guys), but I wouldn’t change it for anything. I love having her sleeping on my chest, I love when she looks into my eyes when I feed her, I love how cute she looks wrapped up in her towel after a bath, I love her little noises (there are new ones every day, it seems), I love seeing her with her dad, it’s all just so amazing.

Let’s Talk About Labor and Delivery

Having never given birth before, I was unsure what to expect during labor and delivery, so I did what anyone would do and I hounded my mommy friends for details and scoured the Internet for information. Even then, I still felt unprepared, aside from expecting the worst pain of my life.

I was scared my water would break and I wouldn’t know it. As any pregnant woman knows, there is a lot going on, and coming out, down there all the time. I was terrified that I wouldn’t have a giant gush of fluid, but rather a slow leak that I wouldn’t even notice. At my last OB appointment I discussed this with my doctor and she assured me I would definitely know the difference between my water breaking and me peeing on myself. I still wasn’t convinced. My water never ended up breaking on its own, so it had to be broken for me in the hospital. I was so scared it was going to hurt – that hook thingy they use to rip it open does NOT look pleasant – but I didn’t feel a thing aside from a huge gush of warm liquid. It was then that I understood there is no mistaking leaking water for anything else.

I didn’t know what real contractions felt like, and I was worried I wouldn’t recognize them. I started having Braxton Hicks contractions on a regular basis around 20 weeks, and although everyone told me the real thing would be much different, I was still nervous that I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference and I would end up having the baby at home or in the car. While BH felt uncomfortable and tight, when I woke up with period-like cramps and waves of pain at 2:00am, I knew it was the real deal. Well, that’s not true – I was in denial for about an hour even while I was timing them and they were 3-4 minutes apart and getting progressively worse. I didn’t want to get to Labor and Delivery only to be sent home for false labor. It wasn’t, though – 14 hours later my little peanut was born.

Real labor is nothing like the movies. You know the screaming woman in a hospital gown trying to push a human out of her body? That is obviously only the end part of the whole process. There are hours and hours of not a lot going on before that. Hubby and I walked around the unit for awhile, I sat in the sun on the windowsill, and then we watched a whole lot of Food Network. My contractions weren’t that bad until the very end – and had I known it was the very end, I would have been able to cope with them a lot better. Also, there is no room for modesty in childbirth. I knew this to a point, but the movies make it seem like it’s just you and the doctor and maybe a nurse in the room. Not in my experience! I had a nurse, a resident, a student, and the nurse-midwife all down there inspecting my lady parts. I seriously felt like I was on display, but I couldn’t have cared less as long as someone got that baby out of me.

That being said, have a birth plan but realize it may get thrown out the window at any moment and you have to be OK with that. I wanted a natural childbirth – no IV drugs, no Pitocin, no epidural. I didn’t have it written down anywhere, but I had discussed it with my husband and let him know what my plans were. I also knew that if I or the baby were in any kind of distress or I just couldn’t do it, I would accept the epidural. I made it about 12 hours with absolutely nothing other than breathing and warm towels on my back before I caved and got the epidural. I really wanted them to check me and see how dilated I was first, because I felt like if I was close, I would just continue on. I knew that I had hit a wall and that most likely meant I was in transition and it would all be over soon, but I was so scared that I wouldn’t have the energy to push. I had only gotten about an hour of sleep the night before – not to mention I had no food in my system aside from a few saltines I scarfed down as we left the house – and I was already exhausted. I was told that they didn’t like to check for no reason because it can introduce bacteria and increase the risk of infection, so I told the nurse to go ahead and call the anesthesiologist. I was disappointed to find out shortly after the medicine took effect that I was already at 8cm. I briefly felt like I had failed, but then the resident came in and told me how shocked she was to learn that I hadn’t been given Pitocin at all – she was sure I had been just based on how quickly and well everything was progressing. She told me I should definitely consider it a “natural” childbirth because my body did everything on its own. Looking back, getting the epidural was a good decision for me – I had to push for close to an hour and I don’t think I would have made it if I didn’t get that half hour of pain-free rest beforehand.

Labor is hard work. My best advice to anyone who is pregnant is to get as much sleep as possible if you’re close to your due date. You never know when that baby will want out, and you’re going to need your energy. I made the mistake of staying up until midnight watching TV and then going upstairs to bed to read for another hour. That means I got about an hour of sleep before I was woken up by contractions. My labor lasted 14 hours, and then I had an hour of mandatory skin-to-skin with the baby, another hour of weights/measurements and moving to a new room, visitors, dinner, more visitors, and finally it was time for bed. But, it’s incredibly difficult to sleep with a newborn in the room. She was calm and not crying, but newborns make all kinds of weird noises and scary breathing sounds and it is impossible not to check on them every few minutes. Not to mention the fact that they were coming in every couple of hours to check my blood pressure because it was too high, then they needed to take blood, then I needed to take more medicine… basically it is impossible to get good sleep at the hospital and you won’t be sleeping once you get home, either.

Overall, I had a relatively easy and drama-free childbirth experience. The pain was worse than I was expecting, but it wasn’t completely unmanageable like everyone had me believe beforehand. I had great support from my husband and the medical team at the hospital, which I’m sure contributed to how well it went.