Decisions, decisions. When it came to how big Ryan and I wanted our family to be, we have pretty much decided as we went along. Or I guess, let me start by saying we knew that we wanted to have kids, first and foremost. To our surprise, we became pregnant with our first before we planned, although he was totally welcomed! Having one child was a joy. Then, when it came to having another, we assumed that we'd have two. I come from a family of two and Ryan comes from a family of five. Ensuring that our little Rhett (first born) had a sibling and buddy was a decision we made on auto-pilot.
When Rhett was one and before we could even think about the timing of adding a second, we found out that I was pregnant again! Our second son, Vance, was born and we went from having one child, which we thought was difficult to having two, which was an entirely different ball game.
How does the saying go? One is one, two is twenty. Yep. That is basically how we felt. Adding a second child to the mix felt like total chaos. I had just gotten the hang of managing one child, now I had to manage two and it felt like I was herding cats on the regular. Not only that, but Rhett was a Lone Ranger when Vance was a baby. What I mean by this is that because he was the solo older brother, he needed mommies attention still. Thus, I had the constant push and pull between giving Rhett my undivided attention and giving Vance my undivided attention; they were both babies after all! What I am trying to say is that the transition from one to two was hard. It was hard because I have two babies to raise; one twenty-two months and the other a baby; neither had a sibling to occupy them, so they needed me all of the time and were used to getting all of my attention. Further, I was still in that "new mom phase" where I felt like I had to give 100% of myself to my children. I felt like I had to be there at every moment, entertaining them, watching them, paying attention to them. This went hand in hand with the fact that they were young and didn't have a sibling to play with at the time (because a young toddler simply cannot play with a new baby), but also that I put a lot of pressure on myself to entertain my kids 24/7.
Decision to Go from Two to Three
As Rhett and Vance got older... I'd say when Vance hit two years of age, they finally started playing with one another. And let me tell you, there is nothing that makes your heart happier than seeing your two kids play with one another. Sure, they fight like cats and dogs because they are close in age and the same gender, but because of this, they also play like champs together. They are the best of friends! (and the worst of enemies) we like to say. Regardless, parenting two kids finally got easier around this time. That is because the boys had each other and could go off with one another and entertain themselves. This was not only fun for them, but it made my life so much easier! Now, I felt like I didn't have to entertain each one 24/7 because they had each other. I could finally get a little break or let them run off on the playground together and do their thing, while I stood back and relaxed. For me, this is when having two kids became fun.
Around the same time, this is when Ryan and I discussed having a third child. I think that me coming from a family of two prompted me to want to have one more kid in the mix. I loved having just one sister growing up. I loved that we were the same gender, and I also loved how close we were in age. That said, there were moments that I felt like it would be fun to have another sibling to play with. As the youngest child, my sister was often off and doing her own thing. She went off to school first and I was home with mom (which I LOVED, don't get me wrong). She also went off to college and I was alone. Again, I loved my upbringing and I wouldn't change it for the world. I think because my parents had only two kids, they were able to give us the world. They coached our teams, they came to every event, we could go on amazing family trips, they were abundant in giving us nice things. There were so many perks to just having the two of us... but again, maybe because I had this growing up, I wanted to make the decision to try something different.
So, Ryan and I had the talk; the big talk about whether or not we were going to add another little munchkin to the mix. And I say that we had "the talk". I think that we kind of assumed we'd have a third, but it more was a matter of timing about when we were going to start trying. Anyways, when Vance was almost two and Rhett was almost four, we decided that would be a good time to start trying. And it wasn't something that was preconceived. Our decision was made when I finally realized that I was ready... and it took me some time. I didn't want to do the 22 month gap again as we did with the other boys. I needed more time.
Having Our Third
It took a few months - maybe three or four months, and we finally became pregnant with our third child. Being pregnant this third time was a bit different than in time's past. The first time you are pregnant, you have no one to worry about but yourself. You think it is SO hard, but really, it's just your perspective making you *think* that it's hard. Looking back, my first pregnancy should have been a walk in the park, but I *thought* that it wasn't. Fast forward to my second pregnant... and my second pregnancy was a breeze (so is my second child).
This third time, was a bit different than the other two times because you really are carrying on with your life. You have two other children to care for and life pretty much resumes as-is. There were moments that I had to slow down and have TV days during the first trimester, but other than that, we really just carried on per usual.
Two to Three
When we finally had our third child, the newborn phase gave us a run for our money. Life was forced to slow down after we had Beauden. I had been so used to running off on adventures with my boys; so slowing down has been a bit of a change. But, what I like the most about having a third kid is that my older boys have each other. Unlike, going from one to two, I don't feel like I have to entertain them because they can entertain each other. Likewise, I don't feel that massive guilt pang because I don't feel like I am needed by three kids and pulled in so many different directions. Sure, I am being pulled a bit, but it hasn't felt as bad because again, my two older boys have each other. And giving them a little bit of independence has been fun for them! In fact, when I'm not always on their case about getting along, it's felt like they've been forced to figure it out on their own. Sure, they have their moments when one of them comes into the nursery crying because the other one did something mean. But overall, I've totally loved hearing my boys laugh and play as I rock sweet Beauden to sleep. I know that they are taking care of each other, and that has been the best thing of all.
To celebrate sweet Beauden, our third little boy, I have partnered up with Perry Mackin! I've been loving all of their baby accessories and essentials... so much that I am giving away some of my favorites! That includes everything you see in the photo - their organic bib, organic neck support pillow, silicone bottle (that easily transitions into a toddler cup), and silicone teether. Check them out by clicking the button below! They've got some amazing baby goodies.
This content has been sponsored by Perry Mackin.
I'd like to consider myself somewhat well-versed in the realm of health. Like most children growing up, I had parents who understood the importance of exercise and a healthy diet. My mom worked hard to ensure that we ate at the dinner table as a family, which meant the majority of the meals I consumed growing up were home-cooked and wholesome. Further, I adopted exercise at an early age seeing my parents interested in things like running and weight lifting. Thus, the foundation of what it meant to be healthy was pretty straight forward, and instilled in me at a young age: eat healthy, whole food and exercise. The end.
After college, around 2009, however, my father was diagnosed with an aggressive stage of prostate cancer. During his journey to recovery, he became a near expert on the world of holistic health. At that point, our view of what it meant to be "healthy" was somewhat redefined, or magnified, if you will. Our family began to incorporate new, alternative practices. This included things like a vegan diet and eating raw foods. We also became well-versed in the world of supplements. Magnesium was used for calming. B vitamins and fish oil became essential. You could say that I knew more about holistic, or preventative health, than the average person.
One of the things I learned about during this time was the importance of gut health. I know it's not true, but I'd like to think that I was at the forefront of learning about gut health before it became trendy and highly studied, as it is today. Unless you live under a rock, gut health has become all the rage nowadays, despite the fact that Hippocrates coined the phrase: “All disease begins in the gut,” nearly 2500 years ago! Today, gut health has become a top priority and area of study in the health industry. The most prestigious medical schools have created courses on the topic of gut health and its importance to overall wellness. Health practitioners have started prescribing probiotics in efforts to address major health concerns. And the NIH has estimated that roughly 3.9 million adults in the U.S. use some form of probiotic or prebiotic to boost health. As Hippocrates said, our gut is the place where chronic disease and illness is born.
As it relates, the gut is responsible for performing a variety of bodily functions. Our gut is known for breaking down the foods we eat, absorption of nutrients and providing energy. The gut also provides support for our immune system, hormone balance, skin and mental health and even toxin and waste elimination. Since our digestive system plays such a vital role in our body’s day to day function, it is imperative that it’s in tip-top shape!
Since 70% of our immune system is located within the boundary of the gut, feeding it the proper nutrients is essential for its health and longevity. We have trillions of bacteria living in our intestines, with a variety of different species all performing different functions. Within our digestive tract, we carry good and bad bacteria which makeup our gut microflora. Having the right amount of good and bad bacteria is important for overall gut health because an imbalance could lead to inflammation, illness, or disease. This is why it is crucial that we have more good bacteria than bad within our digestive tract. In order to get more good bacteria, consuming products or taking a supplemental probiotic (good bacteria) regularly can help with this imbalance and provide beneficial bacteria for optimal gut health and function.
On the other hand, if you tend to eat sugary, processed, refined or inflammatory foods, these foods can have the opposite effect on gut health. Instead of feeding the good bacteria, they will feed the bad bacteria. The bad bugs love sugar and feed off anything that starts as or turns into sugar. Too much of these foods can result in leaky gut, – meaning less nutrient absorption, more inflammation, fatigue, hormonal imbalance, weight gain, etc. – which is the root cause of many illnesses and autoimmune diseases. Needless to say, gut health is imperative to optimal health.
Antibiotics + My Story
One of the things that I have felt very conflicted about when it comes to the health of my children was the over-prescription and use of antibiotics. This was especially important in the early years of my kid's lives in which I felt that it was imperative to protect my baby's microbiome, or gut. I hadn't read studies or even done much research on the human microbiome, but with my limited knowledge of antibiotics it only made intuitive sense that when antibiotics was used to kill off bad bacteria that it would inevitably kill off good bacteria, as well. At the same time, I understood the stance of medical professionals. That in many cases, the use of antibiotics is often necessary. Antibiotics save lives and have been revolutionary for healthcare. But when your back is again a wall and it's necessary to take antibiotics, is there anything you can do to get back that good bacteria?
I'll give an example. Before my son Vance was born, he was diagnosed with inflamed kidneys. What does this mean? I really don't know except that I had to see a specialist, a urologist, and it was concerning as a parent. When it came time to deliver Vance, the specialist AND my pediatrician recommended that he go on antibiotics as soon as he was born to prevent any sort of UTI or infection that may arise because of his dilated kidneys. As you can imagine, I wasn't thrilled about the idea that my son would need to be on antibiotics from birth. Again, I knew how precious the microbiome was, especially in protecting it during the first six months of life, and wanted to preserve all of his good bacteria. The use of antibiotics so young scared me. So I did what all good moms do... I pushed back. I told the doctors I was concerned about the use of antibiotics. Responding to my concern, both doctors told me the bigger concern would be if Vance were to get an infection from the dilated kidneys at such a young age. Ultimately, it could be very dangerous. They said the dosage was extremely small, and that I shouldn't be concerned. I listened, reluctantly.
Following doctor's orders, I gave Vance his antibiotics from birth every single day. Every time I did, I felt guilty. I knew it was necessary, but I also knew what it was doing to his little microbiome and couldn't help but feel bad about it. Simultaneously, really since Vance was born, I had noticed that he had the world's worst chronic diaper rash that no amount of Aquaphor could cure. I tried everything under the sun! My pediatrician even prescribed me an anti fungal cream. I had no idea what it could be from, until I considered the overuse of the antibiotics. BINGO. Because he had been prescribed those antibiotics, while they were stripping his system of the potentially bad bacteria, they were simultaneously stripping his system of the good bacteria. With the absence of this good bacteria, Vance now had chronic diaper rash. It all made perfect sense.
As I said, I tried everything to get Vance to recover from this terrible diaper rash, but after nothing worked, I went back to my holistic roots and considered the use of probiotics. I knew that using probiotics would help some of that good bacteria to grow back and proliferate, and his private area needed that good bacteria if I ever wanted to see the diaper rash go away. So, I headed to Whole Foods and sought out the most potent, expensive probiotic that money could buy. I used the probiotic as directed and what I discovered is that Vance's diaper rash slowly began to fade over time. True story.
I share this story about probiotics because today I am working with a company called Evivo. Evivo is a pediatrician recommended probiotic that has over a decade's worth of research and clinical trials behind it. Now, I am not a doctor. I have not thoroughly studied probiotics, however, after speaking with highly educated, experienced and credentialed physicians, I believe that the study of probiotics and its positive impact on the micobiome are making significant headway within the medical community. In fact, MIT now has an entire center dedicated to the study of the human microbiome. It is called the MIT Center for Microbiome Informatics and Therapeutics. Similarly, I recently had a conversation with my sister-in-law, an infectious disease doctor, who is at the epicenter of where research on the human microbiome is currently taking place, and she confirmed that she would, in fact, give her son probiotics if/when he were to be put on antibiotics. Further, she concluded that her pediatrician, whom she respects and trusts, supports the use of probiotics in babies and children.
Who is an ideal candidate for probiotics?
This is big news guys! This also got me thinking about my current son, Beauden. And I went through a checklist of things to consider whether or not he would be a good candidate for probiotics. The checklist is this...
If the answer is "yes" to any of the above, I concluded that Beauden is an ideal candidate for probiotics. No, I didn't have a c-section. This means that Beauden was exposed to my vaginal flora that helps build up his microbiome. No, I wasn't given antibiotics during pregnancy. No, he hasn't taken antibiotics since he was born. No, I haven't taken antibiotics while breastfeeding. But, YES, I was diagnosed as Group B Strep during pregnancy, which means that during labor, my doctor required me to have a steady dose of antibiotics in hopes that it would go straight to my baby to prevent him from contracting the strain of bacteria, which could be harmful and even deadly. These antibiotics are often deemed necessary, and yes, they were given to me during labor. Thus, Beauden was likely exposed to antibiotics in utero, which makes him an ideal candidate to recieve probiotics.
When antibiotics wipe out the bad bacteria, they simultaneously wipe out the good bacteria. And as was mentioned beforehand, in order to have a healthy gut, our children need good bacteria! What is being uncovered is the fact that the first month's of a baby's life are crucial to immune and metabolic development. And because of the high rate of C-sections and antibiotics given, 9 out of 10 babies lack B. infantis, the key good bacteria that digest special nutrients in breast milk and protects baby's gut. What's the solution? Probiotics! Probiotics are living organisms and their purpose, whether in food or in supplement form, is to help improve the amount of beneficial bacteria in your gut.
When Vance was going through his diaper rash issue, I wish I had a trusted brand like Evivo for use as a probiotic. And here's why. Evivo is the only baby probiotic clinically proven to restore the good bacteria, B.infantis, reducing bad bacteria in baby's gut by 80%. Evivo is the result of over a decade of research and clinical trials at the University of California, Davis Medical Center. Further, Evivo's breakthrough findings about the baby gut microbiome and infant probiotics have been covered in well-respected publications around the world.
If you are curious about your baby's gut health and to see if you are a candidate for Evivo, I encourage you to first and foremost talk with your pediatrician! Doctors have a wealth of information when it comes to the use of probiotics. After doing so, I then encourage you to take the baby gut check quiz on Evivo's website - only three questions, that's it!
If you're all in on baby's gut health, pleas visit Evivo's website and use my codes below for a discount today!
$10 off BLOG3486
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.
At 35 weeks, I am getting antsy for the big day. My body is changing and those pre-labor symptoms are starting to emerge. One of the most noteworthy pre-labor symptoms has been the Braxton Hicks contractions. While not constant, I notice that the Braxton Hicks are generally more prominent with movement or when I workout. While Braxton Hicks can be annoying and unpredictable, I remind myself that they are my body's way of preparing for labor. But, the truth is, I have a hard time identifying whether or not they are real contractions or not. This got me thinking about the idea of being able to track them. Was there a product out there that allowed for the tracking of contractions?
Tracking contractions would be beneficial for several reasons...
- I'd be able to understand better if labor was close or not.
- I wouldn't have to guess if what I felt was a real contraction or not a contraction at all.
- I'd be able to accurately understand my contraction patterns and more specifically, if my contractions hit the 511 pattern.
- We don't have family around to help watch our boys, so truly understanding if I am in labor is very important.
- My husband works full-time, and I'd hate to give him a false alarm about whether or not I was actually in labor.
- Lastly, I'd love to alert my parents, seeing that they live out of town to give them enough time to travel out for baby's big debut.
These are many reasons why a contraction monitor would allow for peace of mind as I approach the big day. And, to my luck, I came across a woman's health company called Bloomlife, which offers a technologically advanced contraction tracker. Woo hoo! Here is a little more about the company, the contraction tracker, and my personal experience.
What is Bloomlife?
- Bloomlife believes that expecting moms should have better, more personalized information at their fingertips for a simpler, healthier and more empowered pregnancy.
- Through their clinically validated tracker, women can automatically track and count contractions.
- With help from their Community of Moms, their long-term mission focuses on sourcing the largest data set on maternal and fetal medicine ever collected to help researchers solve unanswered questions like preterm birth and help clinicians make better data-driven decisions about care. You can read more here.
Why is the contraction tracker helpful?
- Expecting moms have an additional, intelligent tool to make confident decisions and more easily communicate with their partner and care team.
- Expecting moms do not need to feel alone and can easily share Bloomlife information with partner, family/friends, and care team. By displaying what she feels, Bloomlife helps connect and engage partners to empower them to feel more included in what mom is experiencing.
- Bloomlife simplifies contraction tracking. Women are often told to track contractions in their third trimester. With automated contraction tracking, Bloomlife provides a more accurate, convenient way to track so that moms (or their partner’s) don’t have to worry about fumbling with a stopwatch or timer app.
How does the Bloomlife contraction tracker work?
The app is available in the app store but does not work without the sensor and patch. Bloomlife designed the information interface alongside members of the birth community to cleanly highlight the most valuable data. To me, the most noteworthy stats from the app include:
- Real-time view, which quickly answers the, “Am I having a contraction?” question as it associates a sensation with a visual on the graph.
- Contraction pattern bar, which answers the questions, “Are the contractions regular or irregular?” by providing a simple hour-long view of contraction patterns. It also displays rhythm to see if contractions get closer together or further apart.
- Contractions stats (my personal favorite), which answer the questions, “How far apart? How long do they last?” After an hour of measurement, averages for duration and frequency is displayed.
SENSOR, PATCH + CHARGER
In addition to the app, the sensor, patch and charger are included in the package. The sensor and patch can be taken on and off your body for up to one week. Clear directions are included in the package to help you understand how to easily attach the sensor to the patch, how to attached the patch to your body, and also how to remove and store the patch. As a side note, the sensor battery life outlives the patch life, but Bloomlife recommends charging fully each time the sensor is snapped out of the patch.
Is the Tracker Safe?
"Bloomlife is completely passive - it reads bioelectrical signals from the uterine muscle - meaning it doesn't send any waves of any kind into Mom's body. We've designed every aspect of Bloomlife for safety, including this little piece. The level of energy from Bloomlife's Bluetooth (Bluetooth LE, "Low Energy") is 100 times lower than cellphone level and 1,000 times lower than the safety levels defined by the regulatory bodies. We've also done extensive testing to show that the Specific Absorption Rate (how much energy gets through the tissue) is so low that any energy from Bloomlife's Bluetooth signal does not actually enter Mom's body whatsoever. Hope that helps answer some questions!!"
My Personal Experience
Fast forward to my third pregnancy, and I am most interested in the ability to track my contractions for the aforementioned reasons. Because I birth big babies, I like the idea of knowing whether or not labor is close and feel that having a contraction tracker, such as the Bloomlife, will empower me with that information. Sure. Labor will happen when it is going to happen, but for someone like me who has had vaginal deliveries in the past, I fear that if I go over 40 weeks, I may end up with a 10+ lbs baby with the possibility of a c-section in my future. If I can avoid this, I'd love to do so, and by understanding my contractions, I think I will be able to paint a more accurate picture of labor and delivery as opposed to what I went through with my last pregnancy.
So I did it! I have partnered with Bloomlife after researching innovative companies that allow mamas to track contractions. Bloomlife suggests starting the contraction tracking process ideally around 34 weeks, which was perfect for me at 35 weeks pregnant. Upon receiving the Bloomlife package, I opened the box, and was excited to start monitoring my contraction journey! After all, I was 35 weeks pregnant and labor could happen at any moment. Opening the package lid, I found a sensor, patch and charger, which were displayed in an organized fashion, along with a quick guide. I quickly opened the guide and got started!
Within the quick guide was five easy steps to follow. The first step was super easy: download the app. I found the Bloomlife app easily, downloaded it, and setup a profile with very basic information. I then proceeded to the following steps to get the patch attached to the sensor, and then to attach both to my belly. Within minutes, I was ready to go! Next, I started a session and waited about five minutes for the sensor to calibrate. Note: you must be resting during this process, as any movement can throw off the tracker.
After calibration, I sat peacefully for about an hour, checking in and out of the application as it tracked my contractions. I will add that the app is extremely user-friendly with straight forward features, allowing me to see any peaks in contractions, the duration of those contractions and the frequency.
After my hour spent of tracking contractions, the app simply summarized my information. I found that I had contracted twice during the hour with the average contraction lasting in a duration of 1 minute and 30 seconds. While I found that tracking the contractions during the day was exciting and helpful, I also knew that Bloomlife recommends tracking contractions through the night in order to get the most accurate reading. So, this is what I did! I tracked my contractions over night and this is what I found...
They were somewhat all over the place, but I did get the most accurate results when I did complete the full overnight reading. In fact, there was one night in which I apparently experienced an hour of contractions coming every 10 minutes. That is crazy! Almost as if if I were awake, I'd think to possibly call my doctor. Aside from that, I use the tracker for an hour before bed and haven't had huge traction. Stay tuned for more Bloomlife updates!
Use code "BROOKE10" for 10% off your Bloomlife purchase!
No. Bloomlife is completely non-invasive and measures uterine activity with electrophysiology (the same technology used when doctors measure your heart rhythm with EKG).
When should I get Bloomlife during my pregnancy?
Most moms like to have Bloomlife for the last 6-8 weeks of their pregnancy to learn from and connect with their body as they prepare for labor. Women who need to keep a close eye on early contractions tend to get it for longer, often throughout the third trimester. You can start it whenever you want since the rental model allows you to match your rental period to your specific pregnancy needs.
Can Bloomlife detect Braxton Hicks contractions?
Yes, Bloomlife detects all uterine muscle activity including Braxton Hicks. It cannot, at the moment, classify Braxton Hicks vs. labor contractions but the contraction pattern bar allows women to quickly see regularity of contractions.
Is Bloomlife safe?Yes. Bloomlife is 100% passive and does not send any energy into the body (unlike ultrasound or doppler). It has passed both FCC and CE certification well below standards and proven safe for continuous use.
Is Bloomlife covered by insurance?
Bloomlife is not currently covered by insurance. However Bloomlife is FSA/HSA qualified. Customers can contact Bloomlife directly (email@example.com) for an itemized receipt to submit.
How often should I wear Bloomlife?
While you can wear Bloomlife as often as you like, most women get into a routine of wearing Bloomlife for an hour or two every evening when relaxing to see changes in their baseline. Many women will also put Bloomlife on during moments when they want to track contractions more closely.
Will Bloomlife work with twins?
Yes! Bloomlife works just as well with twins (and triplets and quads!) as it does for singletons.
What comes in the box?
The box contains everything you will need to get started: Bloomlife sensor, patches, sensor charging cord, and a quick guide.
Will Bloomlife work with heavy moms?
Yes, Bloomlife has been tested with moms of various size and weight and shown to accurately detect contractions.
Do I need to pay for more patches?
No, if you run low on patches more will be shipped to you for the length of your rental at no additional cost.
How do I get Bloomlife?
Bloomlife is available through the Bloomlife website - bloomlife.com
You can request immediate shipping or reserve for a specific shipment date later in your pregnancy.
Use code "BROOKE10" for 10% off your Bloomlife order.
This blog post was sponsored by Bloomlife.
32 Week Doc Appointment
One noteworthy update is that the doctor said I was measuring at 31 weeks rather than at 32 weeks. I was slightly annoyed by this because no woman likes to measure on the smaller side. For starters, no pregnant woman likes to think that her due date will be even further out of reach. And secondly, I just don't like the idea of having a small baby. I'm not used to it because my boys were all high 8, low 9 pounders. The idea of a "small" baby just doesn't sit right with me for a multitude of reasons. Not only that, but my doctor changed my due date at my 12 week scan, pushing it earlier. I kind of argued with her, telling her that my cycles were 32 days and so my due date was probably later, if anything. But she corrected me, and said it would be a good idea to move up the due date by several days. Instead of September 15th, the due date was now going to be September 10th.
After she adjust my due date, the thought settled in and I was actually excited that my due date was going to be earlier, because like all women, I want to go into labor sooner rather than later (so long as baby is full-term). Now fast forward to today, and the doc is saying that I am measuring at 31 weeks rather than 32 weeks, and I'm kind of like, well, if y'all wouldn't have changed my due date, we would have been right on time!
And then, she added on top of that, that the baby might be smaller? Smaller? I thought. No, no. I don't birth small babies. Rhett was 8 pounds 13 ounces and Vance was 9 pounds 3 ounces. The whole small baby thing isn't part of my genetic code. Needless to say, I left the appointment a bit baffled. So I took it to Instagram and texted friends their experiences.
I think the general plan at this point is to see how the baby is measuring at my 36 week ultrasound. If the baby is measuring at least 7 to 8 pounds, I am going to opt for my membranes to be swept at 39 weeks. If the baby is measuring smaller, I will go ahead and wait until 40 weeks. The reason I want my membranes swept is because I opted out during my last pregnancy and ended up having to be induced at 41 weeks, and had a 9 lbs 3 oz baby! I slightly fear that I'll have a 10 pound baby this time, which is totally fine so long as I can still have a vaginal birth. I only worry if I wait too long that the risk of a big baby will make a candidate for a c section. So ya, I am trying to be somewhat strategic about my birth plan.
Fitness and Diet
My favorite workouts at this point are step class and tabata. On the weekends, when I don't go to a workout class, I do a Kayla workout with my husband. I highly recommend workout CLASSES for pregnant mamas. Personally, it motivates me to go to the gym and to finish a workout. It also leads me into something I probably wouldn't otherwise do. And I can drop my kids off at childcare. Anyways, I feel SO good after my workout; the endorphin rush is amazing. I feel energized through the day until about 2pm when I start to slow down.
My diet is faring well. I am trying to hold it together, but it does get more difficult in the third trimester. I feel hungrier and also bigger. I am focusing on feeding baby, making sure I eat regularly but not too much in one setting so that I don't ignite acid reflux, which has been present in the third trimester.
Boy or Girl
Today, I wanted to share her birth story that reflects both the beauty of childbirth but also the difficulty that sometimes follows labor and delivery. Her story is here to elucidate the things that often go untalked about. But not today.
Similar to Jen, as you will read in her story, I suffered from postpartum depression and anxiety. A story that you can read here. While both of our stories are entirely unique in their own right, we hope to make it clear that postpartum trauma is real, happens more often than you think and comes in a multitude of forms. Not only that, but it is something we hope can be discussed openly - both individually by mothers and collectively by healthcare organizations. Personally, I had very few tools to deal with my postpartum situation that ensued six months post delivery, which included a loss of vision, panic attacks, insomnia, migraine headaches, depression and anxiety, all wrapped up in an inability to care for my two young children. Partner that with doctors without answers, and it can leave a new mother feeling very vulnerable when she is already in one of her most vulnerable states.
Coming from two women who had relatively uncomplicated, low risk pregnancies, and then to be faced with life-threatening symptoms and zero answers, we hope more stories can be shared. Not to place more fear around labor and delivery and the aftermath that may follow, but to educate women for preparedness in hopes of achieving more answers, and also so that women no longer feel alone. Again today, I share Jen's story. In her words. Buckle in!
Jen's Story: In Her Words
The first thing you should know about post partum anxiety is that the symptoms closely mimic life threatening symptoms. So, when you experience a “panic attack”, you generally are experiencing symptoms, which if you have after delivery, probably do warrant a trip to the emergency room just to make sure. It also makes having post partum anxiety TERRIFYING, because it could ALSO be heart failure or some other very serious condition during a very high risk period for moms. Thus, you basically have your anxiety and then anxiety about your anxiety.
On my way into the hospital I started to get really nervous not knowing what to expect and I remember the thought flashed through my mind, what if I don’t come back out. We checked in and they made us wait an hour and then go back home because someone had taken our room who was 7 cm dilated (I was zero). Fine with me! Finally, they called us back in at 11 pm on February 28th 2019. We were admitted to L&D and my goal was to remain relaxed as much as possible. Still, I started trembling uncontrollably once we were back at the hospital and wouldn’t stop full body shaking for the next 30 hours.
When we arrived they checked out the baby in the first room to make sure he was good and he was doing GREAT, they said they rarely see a baby heart rate and ultrasound look so good at almost 42 weeks. This gave me a lot of (false) confidence. They transferred me to the delivery room and hooked me up to the IV’s, they also started my antibiotics because I was GBS positive. This was no big deal for me, I don’t love needles but I also am not a scaredy cat and have a high pain tolerance. After that they gave me the pill to start labor called cytotec--the nurse told me its a very common first step for inductions, and hardly has any side effects….she said it would take 4-12 hours to work and start dilation by instigating mild contractions. They gave me the pill and told me to relax. I took the medication--down the hatch--and told my husband to start a movie for us so I could calm down and relax and get into this experience which seemed like it would be a long haul since I was 0 cm dilated. I was feeling good and ready to get the show on the road. This whole induction thing wasn’t so bad so far….
Within about 5 five minutes I started feeling sharp pains, I told my hubs, I feel something weird it actually really hurts. Since I have a pretty high pain tolerance I thought this was odd, but maybe my body was just adjusting. The pains continued and I tried to distract myself with the movie. All of a sudden the nurse rushed into the room and called for help. They tried to act calm but I could tell something was wrong. I couldn’t IMAGINE what, my baby and I had been healthy together for 10 months what could go wrong NOW?! She said the baby is in distress (heart rate was too low for too long a period of time) and is not tolerating the medication you took. I started very frantically asking questions about why, and she basically told me to shut up because we need to concentrate and fix the problem. She asked me to lay on my left side and take deep breaths. It wasn’t working. I was starting to hyper contract (very fast and hard contractions)--this was a very odd reaction to a medication supposed to cause only mild contractions and dilation over the course of 12 hours. Then, I was told to get on all fours and they gave me oxygen. At that point, facing the wall on all fours in my hospital bed breathing in oxygen from a mask I figured I was just seconds away from getting rushed into an emergency c-section to save the baby. I told myself that the only thing that mattered was getting the baby out in time and to do whatever was humanly possible to make that happen. Then they told me they had to give me a shot to reverse the effect of the pill and stop the contractions. They gave me the shot in my butt while I was still on all fours--within what seemed like seconds the baby stabilized with normal heart rate. Thank god. However, the shot made my heart go very fast and I started throwing up and got really sick (a small price to pay my baby was okay) I was shaking so badly it was like I was convulsing. To put this in context, this was only about fifteen minutes into my labor experience. Needless to say, I was off to a rocky start. I believe this experience was the start of my anxiety and I never really was able to relax after that--for months.
The rest of the labor went by pretty seamlessly, but I will give a quick summary. I wasn’t dilated at all, so I had a doctor attempt to thread a foley balloon--which actually WORKED. They also started low dose pitocin and within 12 hours I was dilated to 5 cm. At that point, they decided it was time to progress the labor and break my water (which I was not looking forward too). I haven’t mentioned pain because I wasn’t in any (really, it was weird). I know I have a high pain tolerance but I did not expect zero pain. Sure, I was a bit uncomfortable, but I expected pain like in the movies and I was ready for it but it just didn’t come.
When they came in to give me epidural the anesthesiologist asked me to rate my pain level 1-10, I told him 1 and he asked why I wanted it. I had heard things really pick up after getting the water broken so I decided to go ahead and get it since I was afraid of how bad it would become after the water was broken. The epidural was truly painless and the drugs made me numb legs down as expected. The OB came in not five minutes later and broke my water, which was also completely painless, and then they inserted a catheter and an internal contraction monitor so that they would know how high to put my Pitocin dosage. From there they upped my pitocin so that my contractions were exactly the interval apart that they wanted. After a few hours of this, post water breaking I started to feel some pain and had to push the button to up my epidural a few times but it was honestly no big deal and I could have been fine without more meds I was just getting more uncomfortable and my discomfort seemed to be coming with less time of relief in between. The nurse told me to press the button because she said when the pain starts and people want relief the meds often “can’t catch up” to the pain. I didn’t want that to happen and had no idea how bad it was going to get it, so I PUSHED THAT BUTTON! At this point about 27 hours in I was STILL shaking uncontrollably and all they would give me to calm down and rest was a low dose of benedryl. Even so, I did not sleep the entire labor, not for a minute.
The nurse said if you start to feel pressure call me, so when I did she came and checked and I was 10 cm dilated! I pushed for about 30 minutes and a beautiful healthy baby boy was delivered on March 1st 2019! I was SO relieved to be done, I couldn’t believe the baby was here and I wasn’t pregnant anymore. I was actually feeling good, my nerves finally, finally calmed, I was so tired I could hardly see, I just wanted to relax and when the baby came I was in shock/completely sleep deprived and just sort of stared at him. As the doctor was finishing up and the cord was cut the next ball dropped…
My OB told me I had started hemorrhaging. To stop the bleeding they had to give me yet another shot, they said it was different than the last shot. I remember telling the doctor I felt fine and ask if I really needed the shot, he said yes. I didn’t want it, especially after what happened last time. I obviously wasn’t tolerating these shots very well. This one was called methergen. About 5 minutes after I got it ,my heart started going very fast and I became to experience chest pain and overall I just didn’t feel right. Shortly after that I started throwing up, which doesn’t really happen to me personally unless I am very sick. It felt like my heart was going to beat out of my chest. I had never experienced anything like this before and to top that off, I was 29 hours sleep deprived. My blood pressure started going up and my heart starting skipping beats and I felt like I had just run a marathon (which maybe I had). I was scared I was potentially having serious cardiac complications. I kept asking them to check me out, and they kept telling me I just had anxiety and maybe they should call in a social worker. (WTF) Finally, at my husband’s request they did some blood tests to check for a heart attack including measuring troponins, and performed an EKG. (they also checked me for anemia) I asked for something to calm me down to see if that would help relax my heart rate and they gave me a little ativan in my IV which did seem to help. My values were elevated but not abnormal, and since everything checked out and baby was fine, they moved me into the post-delivery room where we stayed for two days. Everything was fine whenever they checked me out, the bleeding slowed, and I was cleared for discharge two days later. I was extremely tired and had trouble moving around easily, getting out of breath, but I figured that was normal considering I just had a baby. I was discharged on a Sunday and by Monday I definitely felt like something was wrong.
Back At Home
Back to the Hospital
We weren’t actually expecting to find anything so when the ER doctor told us he thinks he found fluid around my heart we were shocked—this is called a pericardial effusion and CAN be life threatening, but not necessarily. It was horrible and my monitors were alarming the whole time because my heart rate and blood pressure were out of control. I had never seen my husband look worried before in his life and he did at that moment. Finally, the cardiologist came in to tell us more. The first thing I remember asking the doctor is I am not going to die right, and he didn’t answer me--just launched into what was going on. That also didn’t help. On top of that I knew that heart failure in pregnancy, of which I had all the symptoms, had a 30% mortality rate. I kept thinking my beautiful baby is only 3 days old, he needs me to survive. I don’t want him to grow up without a mom, I can’t leave him now. I kept thinking what bad luck this all was and I couldn’t believe this was happening to me. I even thought about telling my husband how I wanted to raise him and to bring him to me if I needed to be admitted to the hospital so I could see him one last time. At this point thinking I was going to potentially not make it multiple times in one day, and this all going on only 2 days after giving birth with hormones and sleep deprivation, resulted in me basically losing it. If you imagine a scale of flight or fight adrenaline with 1 being sleeping and 10 being going down on a burning plane, I was a 10.
My husband kept telling me I needed to calm down because we didn’t know what was wrong yet and this extreme anxiety could make it worse--that didn’t help. The next step was finding out how much fluid there was. The doctor said that if the fluid was too large, or there was hemodynamic issues (meaning the heart wasn’t beating right and the ejection fraction is too low) I would need to drain the fluid and have a heart procedure--right away. That next period of time , waiting to see what was going to happen to me, was the scariest of moment of my entire life. They did the chest CT and luckily, it showed the fluid was not causing my heart to function poorly and I could probably go home. Finally they decided I could come home to my baby and didn’t need to be admitted. No one wants to think about dying but I actually thought it could to happen to me that entire afternoon and evening. After that experience, I wasn’t able to calm down.
When I got home I was still on edge, I hadn’t had enough tests to know what was going on yet, and I still felt miserable. To be honest, the next few weeks were all a blur. After I got home, I couldn’t reset my system from extreme panic to normal. I refused to take any medication for 6 weeks because I wanted to breast feed and was scared about transferring any to the milk. The doctors asked me to monitor my blood pressure, which I was doing about 4 times a day. One person mentioned you don’t want blood pressure too high because you can have a stroke. So, every time I would take it I would get extremely anxious it was going to be high. I think it was a lot higher than normal but then it would go even higher whenever I would check it. This would then trigger an extreme panic attack. I was getting readings of 160/110 with HR of 166. This was not a mild panic. Once I was able to calm down the blood pressure would go low to about 95/60, so they never put me on BP meds. My body was more or less just completely freaking out and no one had any answers for me. Inside, I was still constantly scared I was going to die.
My next echocardiogram showed my heart was functioning normally and that the fluid had gone down quite a bit (but was still there). Still, physically it looked like things were okay. And maybe the fluid could cause a few of the symptoms, such as inflammation or chest pain. But, not all of them. After a few weeks, I finally got in to see a specialist who was both an OB and cardiologist well versed in these issues-- who said the fluid around my heart was likely caused by a virus I had at the end of my pregnancy or the fluids/stress/inflammation from labor and wasn’t dangerous to me. My other symptoms they never figured out other than I have a very sensitive system and my autonomic nervous systems was having trouble regulating the changes in fluids and blood pressure and therefore going a little crazy (of course no one tells you this is even possible when you hear what to expect after delivery). Of the six doctors I saw in person, and four others I consulted with over the phone everyone was stumped--no one knew what was causing my symptoms. But, the thing they agreed on was that they thought I was going to be okay--physically (so thankful). I was very relieved I wasn’t on the verge on heart failure, but still felt very off and I was caught in what I call a terror tornado. Every single day, with the sun shining and looking out into my garden on a beautiful day in a safe neighborhood I was feeling extreme terror. I was scared every moment of the day it was almost as if the calming center of my body decided it was going to go on permanent vacation. I was literally in abject terror from the moment I woke up to when I would go to sleep every day for weeks. Although my anxiety had a trigger—this experience I just described-- many with postpartum anxiety have no triggers at all and can have the exact same feelings. More than that it is quite common--much more common than society tells you. I hear so much about postpartum depression but I never even knew postpartum anxiety existed. I thought I was the only one going through this experience. I didn’t want to leave the house and did not want to be left alone with the baby in case I had another attack. I always felt scared and couldn’t relax no matter what I tried. This went out for about 5 weeks straight, day in and day out. My husband and mom did their best to take care of me but no one could understand how I could be doing so badly when the scary part was over--I was going to live, I might even be healthy. So, what was WRONG with me? I couldn’t really take care of the baby without getting a panic attack, my own baby. I couldn’t get up to change a diaper without feeling super dizzy and out of breath like I had to sit down right away thinking about even getting up to get something made me anxious. There was definitely a component of the physical recovery in all of this in that I was physically not myself, but the anxiety on top of it made everything unbearable. As the days and weeks went on and I kept expecting to feel better and when I didn’t I would get increasingly frustrated. I wasn’t bonding enough with my baby because I just felt horrible all of the time and spending time with him would peak my anxiety. Breastfeeding made my anxiety worse and the cycle would repeat itself with triggers everywhere. There would be glimmers of feeling back to normal and then something would trigger panic. It felt like getting caught in a rip tide and just when you were able to bring your head above the water to take a breath of air you were just as quickly pulled back under again. This cycle continued for quite some time and no one really knew what to do with me. I had people tell me to take medication, to stop breast feeding. But, I was stubborn and didn’t want to do either. So, I just let time pass. Finally, starting at around week 5 I started to notice that things were beginning to improve VERY slightly both physically and mentally. I could get up and not be out of breath and my blood pressure seemed to be slowly stabilizing. It didn’t hurt as much when I took a deep breath and I was getting my appetite back some. I also decided it was time to go on a little bit of medication and I started taking anti-anxiety medication at a very low dose which helped me sleep better and allowed my body to recover and my mind to gain the strength it needed. But, it wasn’t until ten weeks that I really felt any semblance of normality again and I still have anxious/bad days to this day. There is no clean ending to this story, I still have good days followed by bad days but I am significantly better than in those first six weeks. I really wish postpartum anxiety would have been discussed with me as a possibility. In fact, I didn’t even know it existed and when I did find out more about it the dialogue didn’t really expand beyond you may be prone to anxiety after labor. The resources say things like, you may feel irritable toward your partner, or nervous when going out to shop…not you may feel like you going to die every waking hour for approximately 42+ days…and not just kind of feel like you are going to die but actually fully believe you will not live (I didn’t see that anywhere!!!!). The extreme nature of postpartum conditions is played down. Further, there is hardly any differentiation from postpartum depression within any major information resources --but the symptoms are completely different. Postpartum anxiety can be severe and can affect you physiologically including dramatic swings in blood pressure, and heart rate. With more awareness we can get to a more rapid diagnosis and treatment. My baby is doing great, gaining weight and getting good reports from the pediatrician and the better I feel the more we are able to bond and the happier I think that he is. Looking back I would have started on medication sooner, but I know what would have really helped is knowing this exists at this level and talking to someone that had been through this experience to tell me that this isn’t completely crazy and it has happened to them, which is the reason I wanted to share my story.