Since becoming a mom, I've gone through ups and downs with my ability to take care of myself. But now that I have my third baby, I've realized that taking care of myself is imperative. And one way that I like to treat myself is by taking good care of my skin. However, I don't like to use just any products. I am actually quite picky. First and foremost, I prefer products that are tested and safe for both pregnancy and breastfeeding. Anything that isn't, I try and steer clear of. Second, I like products that are effective. Truth be told, it has been hard to find products that are both safe for breastfeeding, but are also effective.
That is, until I came across Amar Botanica.
You know what kinds of companies are my favorite? Ones that are started by completely normal women, who are trying to solve a need that ALL of us women share. This is how Amar Botanica was started. It was developed for two mothers. One, a Mount Sinai New York Board Certified Dermatologist, Dr. Mikhail, and her mommy bestie, AnaLiza Alba's, a beauty industry veteran, knowledgable in organic and cruelty-free products, when they realized the stretch marks were a huge concern amongst women during pregnancy. Not only that, women also wanted to take care of their skin, preventing things like acne while also maintaining a youthful glow. But as I mentioned and as we all know, it is difficult to find products that are both safe for use in pregnancy and while breastfeeding, and are also effective.
With their knowledge and desire to fill this void, they created Amar Botanica, and us mamas are LOVING it.
What is Amar Botanica?
Amar Botanica is a skincare company that produces a stretch mark cream and daily + nightly acne treatments that are safe for pregnant and breastfeeding mother. The products are 100% pure, organic, vegan-based formula backed by science with proven and all-natural ingredients.
Amar Botanica: Anti-Stretch Mark Cream
The stretch mark cream is amazing. Lucky for me, I didn't get any new stretch marks while pregnant, however, I DID get some while yo-yo dieting throughout high school. Bummer. I figured there wasn't much that I could do to fade the scars they left behind, but boy was I wrong.
Amar Botanica's Anti-Stretch Mark Cream can be used DURING pregnancy as a preventative measure against stretch marks, but it can also be used after stretch marks appear (as in my case) to help them fade over time. Not only that, you can also feel GOOD while using the cream, knowing that it is completely safe to use while pregnant and breastfeeding. In addition to using the product to help fade stretch marks, I also use it to help keep my skin moist and hydrated, especially during the winter months. It has been a lifesaver, and is now a staple beauty product in my regimen.
Amar Botanica: Ant-Acne AHA Cream Kits
As if I didn't think I would love anything more than the Anti-Stretch Mark Cream, Amar Botanica proved me wrong with the creation of their Anti-Acne AHA Cream Kits. This includes two products (one for daytime use and the other for nighttime use) that help to brighten skin and reduce redness, inflammation and discoloration. Think a healthier version of Retin-A that is completely safe and effective during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. Similar to Retin-A this product has a variety of uses including the treatment of acne, rosacea and hyper-pigmentation (me!). Don't be fooled with the word "acne", either, because these two products have a plethora of uses beyond acne (if so desired). Also, don't be fooled into thinking that these products are ONLY for pregnant or breastfeeding mothers. Wrong. They are effective (and free of nasty chemicals) for anyone who so desires to use them, and once again, they are just as effective (if not more) as leading skincare brands.
Simply apply a pea-sized amount both morning and night, and you'll be hooked. Since using these two products, my skin has become more supple and radiant; my hyper-pigmentation has faded; my skin is softer and more even-toned; and my skin has a more youthful appearance to it.
I am thrilled to be sharing Amar Botanica with y'all! Us mamas deserve the best AND the safest for ourselves, and for our littles ones.
Take care! xoxo
This message has been sponsored by Amar Botanica.
Today I wanted to talk about breastfeeding. Whoa. And I'm going to share a product that has made the process a heck of a lot easier on me, enabling me a little bit of independence while maintaining my feeding routine. Let me start by saying that with all three of my boys, I have been fortunate enough to be able to breastfeed each of them. That said, breastfeeding didn't always come easy. For starters with my first son, Rhett, my nipples cracked and bled, and I almost quit within a week. But my mom swooped in and encouraged me to stick with it. She told me that if I could give breastfeeding a bit more time that eventually it would become some of the sweetest moments I shared with my baby, as she reflected on those times with my sister and I. So, I took her advice, and persevered through the pain of breastfeeding - nipple bleeds and all. Soon enough, I found that was right. Eventually breastfeeding time with Rhett became some of my most cherished memories.
I nursed Rhett (my first), until he was about fifteen months, which was also about three months into my second pregnancy. So, yes, I was breastfeeding my first son while pregnant with my second son. Then, after my second son was born, I immediately picked breastfeeding up again. And it was a breeze! Vance, my second son, latched like a champ and because there had been only a few months of lag time between nursing my first and nursing my second, there was almost zero pain involved. Breastfeeding was finally easy.
That is, until I encountered postpartum depression and my hormones went crazy around six month postpartum. At this time, I was also retaining about fifteen pounds of baby weight while nursing (which I learned was very common) and it started driving me bonkers. With all of this to consider, I sadly stopped breastfeeding my second babe at ten months. Yes, I was proud of my ability to go ten months!!, but I also share this story to show that breastfeeding - while beautiful - does have its hardships.
History of Pumping
One aspect of breastfeeding that has always been a challenge for me is pumping. After I had my first son, I returned to Georgetown Business School, which was a full-time business school program. This meant that Rhett would be with a nanny twenty hours a week. Because I wanted to maintain our breastfeeding routine (and my supply), that meant I would have to pump at school. Because insurance covered a simple Medela Pump, I ended up going with that. This was my first mistake (more on this later). Why was pumping difficult? It took me a pretty long time to pump out ample milk (for a student with not a lot of time). Also, insurance didn't cover the electric version of the pump, which meant that I had to be in close proximity to an outlet when pumping. Needless to say, this pumping experience somewhat scarred me and deterred me from wanting to pump with subsequent children. When I had my second son, I pretty much avoided pumping altogether. I didn't set out to find a new pump, and revolved my days around feeding my baby, and was never away from him for more than three hours at a time.
Third Baby, Pump Required
Yes, I managed to avoid pumping with my second son, and it worked for me. But, by the time I had my third son, Beauden, I realized there were going to be times when I needed or wanted to get away from my baby for more than three hours at a time. For as much as I want to be with him (and each of my sons), after experiencing intense postpartum depression after my last pregnancy, I knew that time away from my baby was important for both my independence and mental state. As such, I started researching breast pumps. After all, it had been some time (almost four years) since I had set out to find and purchase a breast pump.
What to Look for in a Breast Pump
I didn't know much about breast pumps, but I knew that I wanted certain things out of a pump that I lacked before. For starters, I wanted a pump that was more efficient than one of the leading breast pump brands. In my case, this was the Medela. I also knew I wanted the pump to operate without the need of an outlet; one that could be charged and then used freely. And lastly, I hoped that I could find a pump that would cut down on pumping time, while increasing milk output... because with three kids, who has time to sit and pump for an hour only to yield an ounce or two of milk?
After doing some research and given the space that I work in, (given the opportunity to review the very best, latest and greatest mommy products), I was introduced to Motif Medical, a company who recently launched the Luna Pump. What I found when Motif set out to manufacture the Luna Pump answered one of my biggest problems with pumping. That was, Motif had the goal of developing a pump that performed better than two of the leading breast pump brands. Bingo.
After reading more, I found that...
The Luna Pump Difference
Since using the Luna Pump, my view of pumping has changed altogether. Instead of feeling like pumping was a chore and something that literally and figuratively pained me to do in order to gain time away from my baby; now, I feel relaxed and comfortable with the idea and actual exercise of pumping.
The Luna Pump is quiet; it doesn't have that annoyingly loud pumping sound. The Luna Pump also includes a nightlight mode that would allow a mama to pump comfortably in the dark. The Luna Pump is pain free due to the strength of suction and design. And of course, it comes outlet free (also with a car charger) and yields more milk in less time.
This is BIG NEWS y'all. This not only means that I am happy to pump, but it also means that I have unlocked a bit of freedom for myself. And if you've been following along with my platform, you know how big I am when it comes to mothers taking time for self care. A big part of practicing self care as a mom is being able to take time away from your baby AND being able to do so comfortably and willingly. Investing in a breast pump that allows you to do both is worth gold. Liquid gold.
Aeroflow Breastpumps: Postpartum Support Covered by Insurance
One of the tricky parts in obtaining a breast pump is answering the question: does my insurance cover this? This is where Aeroflow Breastpumps comes in. Aeroflow specializes in helping moms get their breast pump AND pregnancy and postpartum support garments (like maternity support bands, compression socks and postpartum recovery garments) through insurance. Not only that, they take care of the entire process, including filing the insurance claim and getting the necessary documents from your doctor. Aeroflow Breastpumps also has a great selection of supplies and accessories for new and expecting mamas. From essentials like milk storage bags and nursing pads, to cleaning supplies and hands-free pumping bras, you can get it all when you place an order for your pump! If you have an HSA or FSA, use those dollars to cover your pumping supplies.
To try it out, fill out the quick and easy Qualify Through Insurance form to get started.
Use code "BROOKE20" for 20% off your FitTrack Scale.
As a mama, it's no surprise that a lot of us survive on coffee and wine. Just like the sign says, "Motherhood: Powered by love, fueled by coffee, sustained by wine." Am I right? As beautiful as motherhood is, it is demanding and exhausting, and that little bit of pick-me-up or slow-me-down during the day is our little treat! The problem, in my opinion, with all of the coffee and wine consumption is that it can leave your teeth a nasty color. And as an orthodontist's granddaughter, who spent years with braces to achieve an attractive smile, I'll do what I can to protect it.
While whitening toothpaste can help to brighten teeth, I really rely on at-home whitening teeth kits to help get that bright white shine that I love. My go-to at-home teeth whitening kit is Snow® , also known as America's favorite teeth whitening kit! Snow® is the only formula engineered to react to the LED technology to accelerate whitening
What I love about the Snow® Teeth Whitening Kit....
- Fast results! Moms don't have time
- Enamel-safe professional formula; I'm all about protecting that enamel
- No dentist visit or prescription required!
- Recommended by dentists worldwide
- Super fast shipping
- 5x faster than strips
- Apple Watch + Phone compatible! (as well as Android)
- LED-activating light that accelerates the whitening process
What is Included in a Snow® Teeth Whitening Kit
- 1 mouthpiece with the patent-pending LED accelerating technology for faster results
- 3 whitening wands filled with advanced whitening serum to erase stains
- 1 extra strength whitening serum wand (contains double the whitening power)
- Control how white you want your teeth in seconds
- 1 teeth whitening progress tracker
- Results guaranteed and 5-year warranty
How to Use Snow® At-Home Teeth Whitening Kit
- Wash the mouthpiece with warm water.
- Brush or wipe down your teeth.
- Apply a thin layer of the whitening gel to teeth using the wand.
- Plug the mouthpiece into a device or port.
- Insert the mouthpiece into your mouth for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Remove the mouthpiece and rinse the remaining gel.
How to enter Snow® At-Home Teeth Whitening Kit giveaway...
Rock on mamas! And keep your beautiful smile in check, even with all of that delicious coffee.
The Southernish Mama
It is crazy to think that we now have THREE little boys in our home... and in our hearts. Life is full right now, but also a bit crazy. Having a newborn with two older boys under the age of five means more to do and less time to relax. My older boys still need me throughout the day, chores still need to get done, and I still love to work a little on the side. As much as I am getting one-on-one time with my new baby, I am also having to multitask more. To do so, there are times when Beauden cannot be with me. But at the same time, I need to keep a close eye on him at all times. After all, he is a newborn baby. How can I be two places at once?
With my favorite baby monitor, of course.
Some of the things that I don't like include the following:
- Use of WiFi Technology. While WiFi technology on a baby monitor seems preferable because you only need to walk around with a phone that includes the associated baby app, using Wifi also has major drawbacks. Because we live in a 4,500 square foot house, our WiFi range isn't great. Even worse, it is most often the spottiest where Beauden sleeps (in the furthest corner of the house). Because of the lack of range, our WiFi often cuts in and out. As you can imagine this is not only scary, but also can be dangerous. Many things can happen to a baby in moments. And with spotty WiFi, I'm not willing to take that risk.
- In addition to WiFi being spotty, WiFi also opens you up to strangers hacking into the network. Yes, this probably is unlikely, but you'd be surprised at all the creeps out there! Even though we are on a secure network, there is the ability for our network to get hacked. You've heard the stories. I mean, how scary is that?
- Lack of Range. Another thing that drives me bananas about baby monitors is the lack of range most of them offer. Again, our house is huge and sometimes Beauden is sleeping and the boys are playing in the yard. While I never am further away than safety allows, there is nothing more annoying that a baby monitor that stops working when you go outside or downstairs. Sure, I need to stay close to my baby, but not so close that I can't be doing anything else in the house or in the yard.
Panasonic Long Range Baby Monitor
Here is what I love about this particular baby monitor...
- Instead of WiFi, the Panasonic Monitor uses Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications (DECT). Back to my first points about why I don't love the use of Wifi with baby monitors and the "spottiness" that happens in our house. Using DECT means no spottiness and no outages. That means I can see and hear my baby perfectly at any and all points without the fear of missing a beat.
- In addition to perfect shared footage is also the fact the DECT means no opportunity for hacking because it is virtually hack proof. No creepers allowed!
- The Panasonic Long Range Baby Monitor also provides 1,500 square feet of interference-free range. That is more than four football fields of range! Once again, I don't use this feature so that I can go for a run and leave baby at home. I still practice safe protocols when leaving baby on the monitor, but it's nice to know that I can be outside with my boys without the monitor cutting in and out, or worse, not working at all.
- Customizable Smart Sensors + Alerts Function detects changes in sound, motion and room temperature and sends a notification to parent unit. I love this feature for many reasons. If your baby is making noise, the unit notifies you. Similarly, if your baby is moving, a little icon on the parent unit pops up so that you can see how much your baby is moving. Additionally, the changes in temperature are reported! I am crazy about keeping track of the temperature of the room that baby is in. Too hot, and the risk of SIDs goes up, so you better believe I am going to monitor that.
A few other features I love that don't need explaining...
- Updated color night vision
- Pan, tilt and zoom functions
- Longer Battery Life—13 hours in standby mode (audio on) or 5 hours of continuous operation
- Compatible with either A/C power or rechargeable batteries
- Built-in microphone and speaker functions for two-way communication
- Minimizes background noise
- 5 lullabies and 5 soothing sounds, including white noise. Who doesn't love white noise for their babies?
All in all, the Panasonic Long Range Baby Monitor has been a must-have baby item, even with baby number three. Heck, I wish I had it with my two others boys. What mama doesn't want the freedom to get things done or attend to her other kids, while also getting the peace of mind of keeping your little one secure.
I love this monitor SO much that I will be giving one away. Please click on my Panasonic post on Instagram for a chance to win.
This content has been sponsored by Panasonic.
Coupon Code: 10BABY
It is no surprise that we welcomed another little BOY into our family!! We are beyond excited to have met Beauden Nash on September 9th, 2019 at 7:44am. He is the perfect addition to our boy tribe .. and no, we are not sad that it wasn't a little girl! A boy - and exactly this little boy - was who and exactly what we wanted all along! We are floating on cloud nine through this newborn period and appreciate all of the love and support. Crazily, I've felt the most supported this third time around between family and friends gifting us with presents, flowers, food and time. We have truly felt the outpouring of love in welcoming this new baby to our family. Thank you.
I wanted to recap my labor and delivery story because I cherish having done so with my previous birth. Re-reading my labor and delivery story bringing Vance (my second son) into the world literally gives me chills and brings me back to the hospital room. So, that is what I am going to do today for little Beauden.
This labor and delivery story was quite different than my previous births. In fact, none of my three births has been quite the same, despite each being vaginal, medicated deliveries. This birth was ideal in a lot of ways, which I will discuss later on, and also involved a little more "drama" than the others. But, when all was said and done, our sweet baby boy trumped the noise, and reminded us about what is important, and that is bringing a healthy baby into this world. And on September 9th, 2019, we did it!
As you all know, I, like many women, started to feel anxious about when I would meet my baby. When will I go into labor? What can I do to get on the same page as baby to signal go-time? What alternative remedies can I do to urge things along? Should I have a membrane sweep? If so, when? Should I induce? If so, when? I had all of those crazy thoughts that us moms have as our due dates approach, and had to make some tough decisions along the way. Ultimately, my three wishes came true. First, was bringing a healthy baby into this world. Second, was that I went into labor on my own. And third, I went into labor in the thirty-ninth week of pregnancy! My labor started at thirty-nine weeks and five days and we had our baby boy at thirty-nine weeks and six days. Totally full-term and one day shy of my actual due date. Totally ideal.
Before I get into details, I wanted to preface the "drama" I mentioned before. As my labor and delivery story unfolds, you will see my strong reaction to my doctor(s) and nurse. I do not mean to disrespect any part of the medical community. My husband comes from a family of doctors and I have the utmost respect for physicians. At the end of the day, they know more than I do. They birth hundreds of babies a year, and I have only birthed three. But what I am going to share is my honest reaction to the situation. This is not meant to chastise the medical community, but instead to show that I will go through any length to protect my baby. In many instances, I was wrong about the protocols that I felt should have been carried out - and the nurses and doctors were right - but that doesn't mean I can't have feelings or opinions about how events should have unfolded otherwise, especially when it comes to the safety of my baby. Please be gentle with your thoughts and opinions, and remember that this is my story, not yours. You may judge me or think you would have done otherwise, okay fine. But please keep any negative commentary to yourself. I have already gone over the series of events with physicians and labor and delivery nurses, who have given me perspective.
In sum, this labor story was a HUGE blessing in a lot of ways. We brought our precious baby BOY into the world. And after all was said and done, despite a few bumps along the way (as there always is, even in a very uncomplicated pregnancy) all was right in the world. And this story, more than ever, reiterates my heartfelt belief that labor is a means to an end with the soul intent of bringing a healthy baby into this world. Whether it be a c-section, scheduled induction, at-home birth or medicated vaginal birth, every mama goes her own path and does the best she can given the circumstances presented. And her (and her doctor's) goal is always to bring a child safely into the world.
So here it is... Buckle in!
The thirty-ninth week rolled along and my husband and I had thought that maybe I'd go into labor before family came into town. My parents and my in-laws were scheduled to arrive on Sunday, two days before my actual due date and one day prior to my scheduled, aggressive membrane sweep. If the membrane sweep didn't go according to plan, I would be induced the following Thursday (two days after my due date). By chance I went into labor before family arrived, we had zero plans as to what we would do with our kids. My husband and I joked (but were kind of serious) that we would just bring the kids to the hospital with us - even if it was in the middle of the night. But low and behold, I didn't go into labor (somewhat thankfully) and Sunday rolled around. Perfect timing, I thought, and I was happy that family had made it before the baby was here.
Sunday: 39 Weeks + 5 Days
We carried on our morning as we would any other weekend morning. First, we made a trip to Starbucks off Knox Henderson. I pre-ordered our drinks and food... an iced venti green tea soy latte for me, three sausage egg sandwiches for the boys and a tall pike for Ryan, no room. After finishing our meal, we headed to Abbott Park in Highland Park, one of our favorite parks in the area. Ryan and I played with the boys for a bit on the playground before we setup our workout stations to get in a Kayla workout. Working out at the park together as the boys played on the playground had become one of our favorite morning activities. And today was no different. We completed our workout, despite my cramping and Braxton Hicks, and after, felt like a million bucks. After the workout, the boys played soccer on the adjacent tennis court for a bit before we headed back to the house for Vance's nap.
Vance went down for his midday nap. I then showered and got ready for family to arrive. I wasn't going to wash my hair and style it because I thought that maybe I'd wait until tomorrow - for my scheduled membrane sweep. After all, I wanted my hair to look nice if I were to go in labor! But I decided it needed a wash and that I wanted to look nice when family arrived. I proceeded to style my hair, do my makeup and put on my prettiest Pink Blush dress. I needed to live up these maternity outfits before it was too late.
After I was ready, our first visitor arrived... my mom! And I was ecstatic that she was here. She brought the boys Melissa and Doug sticker packets to play with. Rhett was overjoyed to play with LeLe and his new toy. Soon after, Ryan's parents (my in-laws) arrived - Mike and Willa. They had made the grand, ten hour drive from Kansas City to Dallas, and not only that, Ryan's dad was here! This was kind of a big deal because he is a working doctor, as I mentioned above, and had to take time off to be present for the birth.
We all mingled in the dining room and caught up on the pregnancy, the baby, life, grandkids, politics, school, everything. I showed Willa (my MIL) and my mom the baby's nursery. We organized some of the new gifts they had brought. We also tallied everyone's thoughts on boy verses girl, and agreed that boy was the likeliest outcome. After settling in, we made the executive decision that we'd go out for Mexican food that night as soon as my dad arrived.
As soon as he came, we caught up a little more, then headed out to Meso Maya, a delicious Mexican restaurant, for dinner. Yum. Dinner was ideal. Our parents get along nicely, so it was nice having everyone together. The boys behaved nicely and we had amazing conversation. It really was an ideal night.
At dinner, I had a few cramps that were a bit stronger than normal and I spoke up to my mom about this. I also told my dad that I was having more lower pressure at this point in pregnancy than compared to any of my other pregnancies. He gave me a funny look and reminded me that I told him this same exact thing the night I went into labor with my first son, Rhett.
Dinner ended and we all headed home for the night. Mike and Willa to our house and my parents to a hotel. Logistics-wise, we had organized it so that Ryan's parents would stay with us the first two nights (and help with the kids if I went into labor), and then my parents would stay with us the following nights. Hopefully at that point the baby would be here.
We put the boys down to sleep and got ready for bed. Ryan had been insisting that everyone watch the Dave Chapelle comedy skit that was being talked about, so him and his parents watched the skit, while I got myself into bed. I wanted to relax and veg out alone. Pregnancy at this point was tiring and it had been a long day.
The Start of Labor
I lay back in bed after my anxiety died down and felt another cramp. Still in denial, I proceeded to time them. Might as well, I thought. I put my Apple Watch back on and noted the beginning time of each contraction in the Notes section of my phone. They weren't entirely regular, but regular enough to force me to time them. I heard the TV turn off downstairs, and everyone said their goodnights. I yelled down goodnight to my in-laws. I feared that if I got up I would totally jinx the contractions and they would go away. So I stayed in bed with my mind on my timer.
Ryan soon came up and started conversing with me about the comedy skit, but all I could think about was the incoming contraction. I interrupted him, "So, I don't want to jinx it and it might be nothing, but I'm feeling some cramping. And they are kind of painful. It feels different than normal cramping. I'm sure it's nothing, but I just wanted to give you a heads up." Just then, another contraction hit me. "Yeah. That was a contraction." I looked at him nervously. "I'm sure it'll go away, but it's definitely more painful." He looked at me and got excited. "This is it!" He said. "Let's get everything ready." he told me. I looked at him anxiously, "Well, maybe it'll go away, but maybe we should get organized. DON'T say anything to your parents." I feared that if he told his parents that it would totally jinx the contractions and they would go away. Simultaneously, I didn't want to get anyone's hopes up. Lastly, I also didn't want a crowd of people around while I labored. I wanted it to be a calm, soothing experience.
I anxiously started doing things in our master bedroom, and Ryan did the same. It was as if we didn't know what to do with ourselves! I got a wave of adrenaline and nerves all at once. This could be it, I thought. I proceeded to nervously make the bed. (I am a chronic bed-maker and needed the house perfect before we left). Ryan kept asking me what I needed and frantically was throwing things into my hospital bag. I was calling out items that I might need. Before I knew it he had zipped up my hospital bag before I could finish. "Wait!" I said. "I need to make sure I have everything I need." I onced over my hospital bag and figured it was fine (totally out of character for me). I was so nervous that I couldn't think. I also threw on some concealer to brighten my eye and changed out of my PJ's. Thank Goodness I showered earlier today because my hair looked perfect.
By the time our room was organized and the hospital bag was packed, we headed downstairs. Ryan's parents were now in their room sleeping - and all was peaceful, quiet and dimly lit. My nerves were getting the best of me and all I could think about was how my in-laws would successfully get the boys to school without having gone through everything! While at dinner, I thought that we should do a drive by to each of the boys' schools in case I went into labor, so that they would know how to get there, but figured we'd do it tomorrow. Boy, was I wrong!
Anyhow, I started to lay out each of the boys' backpacks, lunch boxes and water bottles in a row so that she would know whose was whose. I also screen shotted a map and drew directions for each of the boys' school locations. I wrote notes on an envelope for that included pick up/drop off times, what they could have for lunch and what wasn't allowed. Anything I could think of that would help them get to school easily!
I think my MIL could hear us whispering and jittering about in the kitchen, and I soon received a text message from her: "I think we are having a baby tonight." she wrote. I paused before I responded out of fear that I'd jinx it if I told her. Further, I wasn't sure I wanted an audience while laboring, but I soon got out of my head and texted her back, "I think you're right." I wrote.
Willa rubbed my back and asked if I needed anything as the contractions came and went. "I'm good." I responded. "I just hope they don't go away! I really want to be in labor." Ryan also asked what I needed, but to be honest, I was perfectly fine focusing on the contractions without any help. If someone were talking to me or touching me, I kind of lost track of what I was feeling. I wanted to ensure that a) I was really feeling a contraction and b) the validity of each one, so that we knew when to head to the hospital.
It was 11:30pm, and the contractions started hitting every five minutes; painful enough to indicate that this was true labor. In between the final contractions before we headed to the hospital, we snapped a photo with my letter board sign that read: "Mama is headed to the hospital. It's Go Time!" My nerves were on fire. I had been waiting for this moment to come.
Ryan and I said our goodbyes. Hopped in the car and started driving to the hospital. Luckily, it was less than ten minutes away. I might have had one contraction on the way that I breathed through nicely. As we approached, Ryan asked if I wanted to go straight into Labor and Delivery myself or if I wanted to park with him. "Park with you." I quickly said. I was rather calm at this point - surprinsingly.
We parked and Ryan grabbed all of my hospital things. We walked toward labor and delivery into what looked like an ideal entrance. It was locked, but nurses were soon to exit, so we made our way in. We went up a short elevator and realized we were in the wrong location, as all of the doors around us were locked. Crap. I thought. I should have figured this out sooner. We were quick to exit that building and head through the main entrance. Much better. The doors swung open and we walked down the hall towards the admissions area.
I started to get a little nervous. To be quite honest, I didn't like the way the front desk had handled me up to this point. I didn't like how the receptionist responded by asking if I had come last night. I also didn't like the way the nurse made me feel when I told her I hadn't called my doctor. In my heart, I prayed that I would have another nurse because I wasn't happy about this particular nurse. She seemed a little out of it and wasn't making me feel excited and happy - which I was because I was in labor!! Instead, she was making me feel confused and uneasy.
I saw her give a look to the other nurses, as to communicate that she had us covered. Damn, I thought. I really hoped I'd get another nurse. She asked us to follow her back to a room. We walked in and the room was dark before she turned some lights on. The first thing I noticed was how big it was. The second thing I noticed was that there weren't any windows. I am a total "natural light" kind of person, and was a little bummed that the room was enclosed. I guess it was alright, seeing that I'd be laboring through the night and it would be dark anyways.
The nurse proceeded to fill out our information in the computer. She mentioned the computer system had changed over recently, so we'd need to be patient with her. I told her that was completely fine, and the only thing we asked is that no one giveaway the gender of the baby since we weren't finding out. She agreed that they wouldn't reveal the gender and told us that they will circle "Gender Surprise" on the white board so that all of the nurses and doctors knew. Great, I thought, but she failed to go over and circle it on the board, which made my nerves flare up.
She continued asking us questions, until she came to one that made me pause. "Are you going to circumsize?" She asked. My heart dropped. Why would she ask us that if she knew we weren't finding out the gender? She quickly corrected herself, "I mean, if it's a boy, will you circumsize?" A little surprised and in shock, I responded, "Yes." And gave a wink to my husband.
She finished up and left the room. As soon as she did, I looked at Ryan and said, "Do you think she just gave away the gender? Why would she ask about circumsizing if we were having a girl?" He shook his head, "Absolutely not. She wouldn't have made that rookie of a mistake. I'm sure she was just going through the questions." I shrugged it off. Ryan looked at me and said, " I will go ahead and circle 'Gender Surprise' on the board so everyone knows." He read my mind, and walked over to the board, circling "Gender Surprise." My nerves calmed a bit.
The contractions were now coming about every three minutes or so. Ryan was timing them and I was breathing through them. They were painful, but again some more intense than others. There were times I thought I could labor all night through the contraction pain, but then one would hit me and I'd feel that out-of-my body pain where I felt like I needed to clench my fists and grit my teeth through the pain.
The nurse came back in and said she would soon check my dilation. I couldn't wait! I had been wondering how much I had progressed from 2 cm since my 38 week check up. How far dilated I was would then determine whether or not I would get the epidural soon or continue to labor. It would also indicate - possibly - how quickly I would have my baby! The nurse proceeded to check me, and I was at 5cm, she said. I believe it was around 1am.
The nurse had been MIA. Literally, hadn't been into our room to check on anything. Another contraction hit and I told Ryan that it was getting super painful and that I thought I might want the epidural. "What do you think?" I anxiously asked him. "I mean, there is no point in waiting, right? If I am just going to sit here and labor, I might as well enjoy it." Ryan agreed that this was the best decision. Another hour had passed and I assumed I was likely at 6cm or more, and now was an opportune time for the epidural.
I had hoped that the doctor would be here soon and that they might consider breaking my water to progress labor. I knew my body and knew that breaking my water would speed up the contractions and the whole process in general. Thus, I told him to let the nurse know that I wanted the epidural, and that I wanted it now.
The anesthesiologist soon walked in and I immediately felt at ease. His enthusiastic and positive demeanor - polar opposite from the nurse's - made me feel calm and taken care of. So much that I hoped he'd stay as long as possible! He was quick to get down to business and handed over the paperwork for signature. I noticed a bulletpoint that pointed out the long-term effects to baby of getting an epidural and I didn't like what I read. It said something about memory loss, and I started to panic. I asked the anesthesiologist and he said that it's all legal jargon, and that he had given his wife the same epidural for her births. I felt like I didn't have any other option. I wasn't going to birth unmedicated. I quickly agreed that I would proceed, and signed.
The nurse helped me up from the bed. My body felt worn and achey from the contraction pain. They then sat me with my legs over the side of the bed. I bent my spine into a cannon-ball shape, which I remember from my previous birth, and he administered the needle. Another anecdote I remember from my previous labor was that the epidural made me feel immediately chilled. So much that I started uncontrollably shaking. This time was no different. I didn't feel necessarily chilled, but I did feel the cool sensation of the medicine running through my body. I started to feel weak; almost like I might faint. Moments later, I heard the beeping of a machine. "Her blood pressure is dropping." the anesthesiologist said. "Am I alright?" I responded nervously. "Yes," he said, "We just need to get your fluid IV working. It wasn't administering properly."
Once they fixed the IV and got me situated on my back, my blood pressure normalized. I started to feel the tingling sensation in my legs and the contraction pain soon subsided. What a relief, I thought. But then before I knew it, I started to feel those uncontrollable shakes. I was shivering; my entire body lightly convulsing from the medication. My teeth chattering as if I was outside in below zero weather. I asked if this was normal. "Yes. Totally normal." the anesthesiologist responded. I felt calmed by his response, and in fact, knew it was normal from my last labor, but also felt nervous about how out-of-control I felt. Ryan and I continued conversation with the anesthesiologist and my mind soon was distracted from the shaking, and before I knew it, I was back to feeling normal.
Laboring thought the Night, but wanting Answers
I also encouraged Ryan to fall asleep. It was late and pretty uneventful. The nurse had left us to ourselves. Literally, she hadn't checked on us at all. So I tried to close my eyes to rest, too. In and out of dosing, I would check the clock. I started to wonder why my labor wasn't going faster. My first labor with my first son had been ten hours from the time my water broke to the time I delivered him. I dilated 1 cm every hour, which the nurses told me was very "textbook" for a first labor. Then, my second labor, I had been induced. They had started the Pitocin, which did nothing to progress my contractions, but as soon as the doctor broke my water, the contractions came hard and fast. I ended up delivering my son within three or four hours.
This time, I felt as if labor would indefinitely be faster. The fact that I was sitting here laboring with my bag of waters in tact was a bit baffling to me. I knew that if the doctor broke my water that I'd likely progress faster. My mind started racing wondering why we hadn't gone that route. In fact, where was the doctor? I hadn't seen a doctor all night and my nurse was pretty non-existent. I felt a bit alone and a bit uninformed. I had questions about the process and wanted some answers. Yes, baby was healthy, and I was clearly contracting and slowly dilating, but I knew that breaking my water could potentially get the baby out faster. Wouldn't a faster delivery be both beneficial for mom and baby?
After what felt like a long while, the nurse finally returned. It might have been close to 3:45am when she checked my dilation. I was at around 7cm. I was a bit confused why I hadn't progressed faster. The nurse said, "You're at 7cm. The doctor should be here around 7am, so just relax and I'll come back and check you then." I was starting to get a little impatient, wondering why I hadn't seen my doctor. I also wondered how the nurse could be so calculated as to when the doctor would arrive. 7am? What if I progress faster and have my baby sooner? How can the doctor just assume she can be here at 7am?
Feeling impatient and dissatisfied by what she had said, I asked the nurse, "I have a question. I'm wondering why we haven't broken my water at this point in labor?" I continued, "I don't know a ton about this, but I know with my last son that breaking my water progressed labor much faster. I have a feeling that it will do the same thing this time. Is there a reason we haven't done that?" She paused before responding, then said, "Well, the first reason is that you are Group B Strep. The doctor wants to ensure that the antibiotics are in your system for four hours, which gives enough time to reach the baby. And the second reason is that doctors like their sleep."
What? Sleep? I thought. Doctors like their sleep?? Even though I nodded politely, I was fuming inside. I couldn't fight back my words and responded to the nurse, "I understand that doctors like their sleep, but I know my body. I know that this labor would progress faster if my water was broken. At this point, I am prioritizing the health of myself and of my baby. And the focus should be on that. If for some reason, my baby becomes distressed or if I end up having to have a c-section because the doctor is sleeping, there is going to be a big, big problem." I was stern and fuming; not yelling, but fuming and my heart was racing. The nurse looked back at me somewhat caught off guard, but I honestly didn't care. I meant business. I can't remember how we ended the conversation, but it left me feeling empty and angry.
I didn't understand why the doctor wasn't here, and felt betrayed that I wasn't able to speak with a doctor, much less my doctor. I also was hugely upset that the doctor was prioritizing her sleep over the birth of my baby. I was mad. Where the hell was she? And if something went wrong because she wanted to "sleep", bigger issues were to follow. Yes, I somewhat understood the argument about Group B Strep and the doctor wanting antibiotics in my system for four hours. But at the same time, I had been Group B Strep with my first pregnancy and had never heard of this four-hour rule. In fact, if the four-hour requirement were such a big deal, then why didn't they explain this to patients the moment you tested positive for Group B Strep? Wouldn't it be imperative that you arrive to the hospital in a more timely manner to avoid going under the four hour requirement? Wouldn't they urge you to get there ASAP to ensure the safety of your baby? I just didn't buy it. Something felt very off to me, and I was pissed that the nurse had responded in this way, and also that I had been put in this situation.
Ryan assured me that everything was okay, but I still felt intuitively wrong about the situation and how it had been handled. I told Ryan that he could go back to sleep, and that I was fine, but I really wasn't.
A few moments or maybe even several minutes later, the resident doctor entered my room. She introduced herself as such and proceeded to ask me how I was doing. Still fuming, I asked her the same question in the most respectful way, "I don't mean to act like I know more than I do. But I'm wondering why they haven't broken my water at this point. I had my water was broken in my last birth and it really progressed things along. I understand that I am Group B Strep, but I just want to make sure everything is being done in the best way possible to ensure the safety of my baby and I, and that I clearly understand why we aren't doing things if there is a legitimate reason."
Unlike the nurse, the resident responded in the most caring tone with an explanation that was actually comforting. She said something along the lines that there is balance between rupturing membranes too soon, but also not waiting too long. She said there is risk of infection if the membranes are ruptured too soon, and if I wasn't ready to progress that could be a problem. But also waiting too long to rupture membranes may also present an issue, as well. (I can't identify the reason she said now looking back). Regardless, she very much professionally gave a factual response to why there is a balance between waiting to rupture the membranes and the rationale for that. She further said that my body is naturally doing what it needs to be doing right now, and baby is doing his or her job and there is no distress, so to keep along this path, and that is the best route to laboring at this point.
Again, I felt rather calmed by this response unlike I did by the nurse's "sleeping response". The resident was caring and offered a clear explanation that put me at ease. I felt good going forward and decided to relax and rest.
Where was the doctor?
Around 7am, my parents arrived at the hospital. (Long story short - they didn't understand that I was actually at the hospital laboring from my initial phone call telling them that I was having contractions, then never received, or actually slept through, the text message that I sent telling them that I was heading to the hospital. Good news is that they got to sleep through a rather uneventful night of me laboring at the hospital. More good news of me laboring through the night was that they were now here, and I felt happy they were.)
I excitedly explained to my parents how my labor had started. Then proceeded to say I had been laboring all night, but had gotten the epidural and felt good. I also told them that I wasn't impressed with the nurse and the controversy about having been told that my doctor wanted to "sleep". Despite the resident making the situation better, I still was upset by the entire situation and couldn't shake it.
Momentarily, the new nurse entered the room. She introduced herself and started telling me what was about to go down. "You're doing great," she said. "The good news is that the doctor is on her way. It is no longer going to be Dr. xxxx, it is going to be Dr. yyyy. She is on her way and she will be here at 8am." I looked at the clock - something I felt like I had been doing all night long - and had 45 minutes until then. I went from feeling on top of the world that my baby would be in my arms in minutes to feeling so defeated that I had to wait yet again.
Emotions hit me dead on and I couldn't help but burst into tears. Even though it was only 45 minutes away, I had been waiting on a doctor's arrival all night. It wasn't fair, nor was it right. The nurse had promised that the doctor would be here at 7am. Tears flooded down my face and the nurse looked at me bewildered. "I'm so sorry," I proceeded. "I don't mean to be difficult. I have just been waiting all night to speak with my doctor. I feel misinformed. They had promised she would be here by 7am and that it would be Dr. xxxx. I don't know why she isn't here or isn't coming after I allowed her to sleep all night, and I just feel ready."
The nurse agreed that she would make it better. She could see the pain in my face and hear it in my voice. I turned over to see my dad fuming. If anyone knows my father, you'll know that he protects his girls with the fiercest loyalty - to the point where he will go to any length to make sure we are okay. This situation wasn't any different, and I could see the fight in his eyes. Someone was going down, and it wasn't going to be pretty. "Dad," I said anxiously, "Just please be nice because I don't want them to be mean to me if we make them. mad." I felt tangled in this moment. So hurt that my doctor was nowhere to be found and that she wasn't here when they said she would be. At the same time, I knew that my dad would make it right.
Turning It Around
In a matter of moments, a woman entered the room and introduced herself, "Hello, Brooke. I am zzzz, head of Labor and Delivery. I want you to know that we are going to make this situation right. Dr. yyyy is on her way right now but she is stuck in traffic. We have a partnering physician that is here. He is not within your doctor's practice, but he covers some of their deliveries in the event they cannot be present. His name is Dr. Welsh. I can get him in here right now if you are ready to have this baby. Please let me know."
The last thing I wanted was to cause anymore trouble, but I was ready. I looked at her and said, "Yes. Please. I would like him to check where I'm at and see if I am ready. If he agrees that I am ready, I would like to have this baby." She responded, "Great. I'll get him and be right back."
All Is Right
It came time to push and she let me know. I pushed with all of my might, until they quickly told me, "Stop! Your baby is coming. We've got to get everything ready." They organized a bit more, called in a resident with my approval, and then let me know that it was time. I gave one short push and they told me baby's head was here. They said one last push and baby would be here. I gave it my all and they said the body was out. He cried immediately! They handed baby to me, and I saw that his chord was tangled around him and there was not one, but TWO knots in his umbilical chord. I lifted him up and saw it there... another PENIS!! And my world was changed forever. I knew it all along, sweet boy. Beauden Nash Raybould. We KNEW it was you.
I asked the nurse if he was okay because he was crying and the chord had been tangled, but she assured me that he was PERFECT and that a knot in the umbilical chord was good luck. Good luck twice over, I thought. My baby, we did it!
That is, until Dr. xxxx came into the room. She proceeded to profusely apologize for the turn of events. Beauden was still crying and I thought it fitting given that the doctor was spewing words that quite frankly, I couldn't hear nor did I really care to hear. I appreciated the apology, but I felt wronged by the situation. I kept acknowledging that it was just a miscommunication and that it really was alright. I really didn't want to be having this conversation, while holding my new baby in my arms. It was over. I wanted to move forward and be with my baby, and couldn't wait for her to stop talking. I believe she said something along the lines that she was in the loop the entire time with the nurse, knew what was happening. She was here at 6:30am but for whatever reason didn't come to my room, and wish she knew that I wanted to see her. Anyways, like I said, I really just wanted to end the conversation and enjoy my baby. Soon after, she left and I was happy.
Then doctor number two, Dr. yyyy, came into the room. Literally, right after. Likewise, she proceeded to apologize. I honestly didn't want to hear it. Once again, I wanted to float with my baby during this moment, and didn't care to come back down to the turn of events that had led up to this. I nodded, but really was in another world. I was with my baby and everything else melted away.
And I recount this story, once again, not to make any part of the medical community look bad, but instead to share what I really went through. As a mother, you dream of going into labor, literally since the day you become pregnant. Heck, even before that. You dream of going into labor even as a little girl, or at least I did! It is one of those monumental moments that comes but only once, twice, or maybe even three times, if you're lucky. It is a day that you look forward to, always remember and hold to one of the highest standards. You get one shot and then it's over. As my third time going through this and possibly my last time, I felt let down. Not by any standard that the hospital failed to meet or by any protocol that they got wrong (or even got right). What I was most upset by and disappointed in was how I was treated. And yes, I think both doctor and nurse maybe forgot that this moment is held to such a high standard in a mother's mind. Of course, like I said, they could have done everything right, and I may have been DEAD wrong on the idea that they should have broken my water, but the way I felt laboring through the night literally in the dark with poor explanatory responses was the part that failed.
But bigger than poor bedside manner and the miscommunication that happened was the ending to my story. Dr. Welsh literally saved the day!! From a situation that left me in tears of sadness to be turned around to tears of joy and my healthy baby boy in my arms, everything happened as it should have.
I'm thankful that I started labor at the perfect time - literally the day family arrived in town! I'm thankful that I started labor at 39 weeks, and just one-day shy of my due date, I mean, how ideal?! I am thankful that labor started on its own and that I was able to avoid the membrane sweep and induction. I am thankful that my husband was by my side and we got to peacefully enjoy the labor process (at least for moments throughout). I am thankful for my second nurse who fought tooth and nail for me. I'm thankful my parents were able to be present. And most of all, I am thankful that my baby boy is in my arms. Everything else is static.
Words of Encouragement for Mamas
But what I want to encourage other mamas to do... is to be an advocate for yourself in the delivery room. I read this piece of advice before going into labor, which was ironically given by a labor and delivery nurse on Instagram. She said that we can listen to advice and protocols that the hospital gives us, but at the end of the day, you can be your own voice in the delivery room. I couldn't agree with her more.
I don't regret challenging the nurse. At the end of the day, I wanted to ensure that my baby's and my health was being prioritized. I wasn't rude. I wasn't condescending. I simply spoke up for what I believed to be right in the moment - whether it was right or wrong. And there is nothing wrong with that at all. All I asked for was a response. And when I wasn't happy with the response, I fought harder. This to me, is indicative of what it means to be a parent, as the nurse told me. My dad fought for me. And you better believe I will fight for my baby. Right or wrong, I will never stand down if I feel that something is jeopardizing my baby, and I encourage you to do the same.
That's all for now mamas. Thank you so much for the support. And so much love to all the little babes out there. Motherhood ain't easy, and it starts well before you're in that hospital room.