Emerson: A Birth Story | Part 2

And so I sat, casting nervous glances at my husband, wondering if my feet stunk, when the last time was that I shaved, how this little person was going to change our lives, if he would get here before my best friend or Marshall's dad left town, etc. etc.  All of it very blurry.  Very much like what I would think an anxiety attack feels like, with a dash of Christmas morning anticipation sprinkled on top.

Then, as if it were nothing at all, my doctor asked when I would like to be induced (within a window of given time of course).  And it was nothing to her, just another day, but to me it was asking someone to choose the date everything would change forever...good and bad.  We made small talk and I chose my day- Emerson's potential birthday- before my best friend and Marshall's dad left home, obviously.  And then she offered to try to induce labor naturally.  An offer I had been told to expect and one I had been told would "feel like a melon-baller to my insides" but I accepted, because, despite all of my fear and apprehension, I wanted to do everything I could to bring this little man into the world in a natural way (up until the point of the epidural anyways).

In a delightful process, deemed 'stripping the membranes', my doctor (for the first time in her celebrated career) accidentally broke my water.  A process she said would have only happened if my body was ready anyways and that it was better to have happened in her office than once we got out to the car.  Ironically enough, Marshall and I had joked about bringing the hospital bag with us to the appointment because we had been told the process was so effective, but of course we didn't.  Pfft.  Parenting newbies.

So she sent us home, to eat a light dinner, grab our bags and with instruction to be back to the hospital by 8 that evening if the contractions weren't firing like a pistol first.  

We drove home, awkward and giggling.  I was thinking I could have babies for a living (ha, bless your heart you naive you) because I hadn't had a single contraction yet.  And then we ate our last meal as just the two of us: toast and eggs and watched a game of the world cup.


Day 2: Registry Must Haves

Yesterday, it got heavy so I'm lightening the mood today.  Because, I'm guessing mama, between all the napping and craving indulging there's a big part of you that is loving the nesting...or at least the shopping.  The registering and the shopping is -for once in your life- something that is an actual to-do on your list, not just a want-to, so live it up!

Okay, but really, don't live it up because the onslaught of baby paraphernalia is going to take over your beautifully designed and decorated space soon and so are the expenses.  And while we're being frank, that Wall of Nipples is probably something you're fretting over because this is the first time you're doing this and how in the world do you decide which nipple, which bottle, which diaper, which crib bumper, etc. to register for?

There are as many opinions as there are cleverly marketed objects (I NEED that extra cup holder to clip onto the side of the stroller we registered for that already has two cup holders because where will I put the baby's bottle when my coffee and the Mr.'s coffee are filling the two cup holders already?).  You won't need that third cup holder, in fact you don't NEED most of the things the stores tell you you do.  Ask your mom, ask your sister, ask your mama friends for their favorites and have them go with you.  Of course, include the Mr. too, but only to the extent that it is fun for both of you, not overwhelming.  For us, that meant the fun trip with the Mr. to register for things like bedding, developmental toys and the jogging stroller, and another trip with my sister to help register for the essentials like bottles, nail clippers, diapers, etc.

The truth is, women all over the world raise happy and healthy babies with nothing more than the bare necessities, but there are obviously things that make the transition into parenthood easier and more fun, so here are my 'must' haves that helped us navigate "the fourth trimester" should you find yourself registry happy.

So Helpful | Because mama you're gonna need and want all the help you can get (mamahood is not a place for pride).

1. Multi-Use Burp and Lap Pads | We never use them as burp pads, but these are incredible for keeping in the diaper bag as a changing pad or they can be used anywhere to ensure dry bedding.  My girlfriend even uses them on top of her changing pad at home so she doesn't have to wash the 'fancy' cover weekly.  At less than $10 for three, you'll be happy you put them on your registry.
2. Flannel Receiving Blankets | Perfect to keep in the diaper bag to turn any floor into a baby friendly space, to use as a double swaddle (a trick we learned from our NICU nurses), a cover for the baby carrier (a must for all those well intentioned strangers at the grocery store with baby fever), to roll and use as head supports in the car seat or to roll and use under the crib mattress to help keep baby from rolling side to side when making the crib transition.
3. Fisher-Price Infant-to-Toddler Rocker | For those moments you need your hands free.  Our little man didn't like the bouncer or the swing, but this rocker, that can double as a cradle?  His jam.  And in turn, my jam, for days.  I also love that it's easily portable and sees them through from infancy to toddlerhood.  More bang for that hard earned buck.  It's also really handy for bottle feeding (more on that later) and no where near as bulky or costly as a pack-and-play.  And, if your baby has dreaded reflux it helps keep them at a tummy happy incline.

So Sleepy | Because the more sleep baby gets, the more sleep you get and in the world of babies sleep begets sleep.

4. Aden + Anais Swaddle Blankets | For us swaddling was a must.  Swaddling = sleep.  And sleep = happy baby and a happy mom and dad.  But these blankets will see you beyond just swaddling; they make a great nursing cover in a pinch and the muslin material is breathable enough for all seasons.  For many of my mama friends they have become their children's favorite blanket.
5. Summer Infant SwaddleMe | Should you find yourself with a baby Houdini on your hands, like we did, you'll need to bring in the reinforcements around 4-6 weeks.  We used the SwaddleMe for night time sleep and continued to use the swaddle blankets for naps; now, as he needs the ability to move and wiggle more we're back to the swaddle blankets.  I'd recommend you get 4 of these, because baby laundry is as plentiful as blow outs.
6. Fisher-Price Rock N' Play | Oh if I could sing its praises all the live long day, I would.  Portable, incline, vibration, rockable.  Essentially sleep success with minimal effort.  Our little man slept in it beautifully until about three-and-a-half months when he decided he was ready for the crib.  This will let you shower without guilt or fear, travels easily and is easy to move from one room (say yours) and the next (theirs).

So Soothing | Because a happy baby is a happy mom and dad.

7. The Moby | Or any baby wearing; keeps baby close to your heart, mimics the womb and cuts down on fussiness while allowing you to be hands free and to save some sanity.  It's also incredibly portable and convenient.  Hello laundry, lunch dates, and the grocery store.  You can feel like the Old You all over again.
8. An Exercise Ball | Because your baby will know the difference between an electronic bouncer and your bounce, and if you're going to be bouncing (like we did, for hours on end) you may as well get to bounce on a seat for a bit.  Plus, should you fancy it, you can even exercise with it (oh, the hilarity).  It's also a god send if you have SI Joint issues during your pregnancy, and amazing for rocking your hips through those contractions when triage sends you back home.
9. Infant ProBiotics | For whatever reason, our little one got the dreaded curse of colic and it was a hard fight for all of us.  Mostly because we knew he was in pain (colic is due to digestive issues) and we couldn't do anything about it.  That is until a girlfriend, who is a nurse, suggested ProBiotics.  Little man didn't suffer from reflux (commonly 'diagnosed' as colic), he struggled to work things through.  And most babies, at some point, will struggle with constipation.  Non-addictive and all natural, these gut healing bacteria transformed our sweet man's demeanor practically overnight.  

This post is part of a 31 day series: Hey Mama! A Crash Course Introduction to Mamahood where I share the things I wish I would have known or would have been told throughout my pregnancy, labor and delivery, and into those early days, weeks, and months of Mamahood.  It's part of the 31 Days Movement and it's letting me put ink to the page again- which is something this new mama desperately needed.


Day 1: The Two Fateful Lines

I'm not sure where those two lines found you -if they were a surprise, if they were a prayer answered, if they are still a hope, or if they are a distant memory- but I do know that in that moment underneath all of the feelings of joy, excitement, and shock there was another feeling you'd never felt so strongly before: worry.

There's a difference, at least for me, between fear and worry.  Fear is an emotion while worry is a state of action- a thought process, one caused for me by a complete loss of control for the first time in my life.  It is a blessing and a curse this worry; it confirms that your head and heart are in the right place -that you're on the road to acquiring the selflessness that is required by mamahood. But it also begins the self-doubt, feelings of inadequacy, comparison i.e. Mama Wars, and the "if I just do/buy this one thing -the nursery, the baby, my family- will be just as I pictured".

Well mama, I'm going to rip the band-aid off.  The worry never goes away, but it is one of the only things you'll be able to control in your life again.  No amount of fretting over the Wall of Nipples, the crib bedding, or the way the baby will impact your relationships and social life will make it easier.  You will drive yourself to the brink of crazy and just make mamahood that much harder than it already is.  And friend, it is really, really, hard.

Your fears have a place, and they will come -sprinkled throughout the joy, excitement and all the preparations- but don't let them turn into worries.  The first thing you need as a mama? Good people.  So, go get them, reconnect with them, let them know you need them.  Good people will listen to your fears, hold your hand, and help you quiet them.

This post is part of a 31 day series: Hey Mama! A Crash Course Introduction to Mamahood where I share the things I wish I would have known or would have been told throughout my pregnancy, labor and delivery, and into those early days, weeks, and months of Mamahood.  It's part of the 31 Days Movement and it's letting me put ink to the page again- which is something this new mama desperately needed.