favorite baby prep ideas

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Whether you are pregnant or growing your family through adoption, expecting a child definitely takes it’s toll – I realize you are already drained. And I hate to be the one to tell you this, but this is nothing compared to the exhaustion that’s on it’s way. With two of my best friends joining me in this new life of motherhood, (one welcomed a baby boy in November, and the other is expecting her baby girl in June), I’ve been thinking back on what I would do in advance to prepare for a baby if I were a first time mom again. So here’s my list of suggestions that will ultimately make the newborn twilight zone a tiny bit more sane and manageable, which in turn allows you to enjoy that short phase more. Only take on the ones that speak to you and forget the rest. Well, actually, I lied. There is one must-do that I included for everyone…it’s super important so don’t skip it.

The purpose here is to simplify and prep now so your life is easier later. I promise you’ll thank me.

one.

Decide now which mom friend you’re gonna call or text when (not if) you have a strange mommy or baby question, need a good cry, or just a pep talk. Let them know they’re your “person” – maybe with a coffee and donut in hand as a bribe? – and make sure they’ll be pleasant when (again, not if) a need arises at 3 am. 


two.
Download a baby care app on your phone. It’s convenient for tracking diapers (wet vs. dirty), frequency of feedings, which side you nursed on, baths, naps, etc. since your brain will be on hiatus especially the first few weeks. This is also helpful for pediatrician visits. Instead of a blank stare when they ask “how many times a day is she pooping?” you can just refer to your app. I used the Total Baby app. 

Also – we STILL use a great lullaby and noise app called Sleepy Sounds. It’s nice to have it with me whenever I might need it – in the car, at a hotel, etc. 

three.
Do something to pamper yourself. Mani/pedi, hair trim/color, massage, facial, shopping in Target alone (this would be my pick!) – or all of the above! 🙂  Because lets face it – becoming a mom means you will often be putting yourself at the bottom of the list.



four.

Read a non-baby book. Or at the very least read a book about what to do after the baby gets here. There’s so much focus on the baby’s actual arrival, which is obviously important, but that’s just the beginning! Because then you have a kid to raise, ya know? I would also suggest downloading the She Reads Truth app on your phone or ipad for daily bible devotionals. They are written by women for women. Super convenient during a marathon rocking-your-baby session or while breastfeeding.

five.
Brunch/coffee/dinner/Target shopping trip with girlfriends….just something. Whatever you can make happen – make it happen. This one is for sanity purposes only -you can talk to them about all your crazy thoughts and irrational fears, and they’ll listen without judgement. After the baby comes these outings will be a bit more tricky to plan, but girl time is crucial for mommies and mommies to be. 

six.
While you’re at it…..plan a last supper with your man. Sure, it’s to enjoy one last date with no time constraints, but the real purpose is of the date is to go ahead and put another outing on the calendar 3-4 weeks out from the baby’s expected arrival and set up a babysitter. I’m not kidding – bring your calendars to dinner with you! If you don’t make it a priority starting now, you will honestly be surprised at how quickly 6 months can pass with no date night.


seven.
Get bills and other paperwork up to date and organized. Set up automatic online bill pay if possible. This is just one of those things that you could easily get behind on, because snuggling your baby will win out over nearly all tedious tasks.

eight.
Pick out a birth announcement (or at least a couple favorites) and have a photographer on deck for newborn photos. While you’re choosing the announcement, go ahead and type the name(s) you’ve chosen into the template as one last check to make sure you really love it!


nine. 
Grow an extra arm. I know I needed still need one. Kidding.

ten.

Clear out the storage on your phone. I’m not kidding on this one. My phone consistently tells me “Cannot take photo. Not enough storage” which is beyond frustrating when I’m trying to capture something in the moment. On this same note, go ahead and have your “real camera” battery charged for baby’s arrival. Take a million and one photos, and also video some of those newborn moments. You will be so happy you did.


eleven.
If you’re planning to even TRY breastfeeding, take the time to educate yourself. There is so much more to it than you would imagine. You can take a class at a local hospital (they will discuss the basics and show some videos), skim through The Nursing Mother’s Companion book, or watch some of Dr. Jack Newman’s informational videos.

twelve.
Make one or two baby essentials baskets for around the house. Pack some diapers, wipes, large burp cloths, diaper cream, and hand sanitizer into a basket so everything you need is easy to reach quickly and portable. I also had a couple of roll up changing mats so I didn’t have to take her to the nursery for every diaper change. Kindly ask guests to use the hand sanitizer before snuggling your baby.


thirteen.

Purchase some Shout Color Catcher sheets for the laundry. This allows you to chunk all your laundry in the same load together without risking running colors. That = less loads, which = less work! I love these things. You may also want to consider signing up for Amazon Mom Prime membership; you can read about it here.


fourteen.
Ask a girlfriend to set up a Meal Train for you right after the baby’s arrival. This is truly the most genius idea ever. Family and friends can sign up to bring you meals and easily view which dates are available. You can warn them of any food allergies or aversions, and select the best time for drop off. See? Genius.

fifteen.
Here it is, the must-do for everyone. 
Looowwweerr your expectations on back down to reality. For your baby, your spouse, YOURSELF. Despite how excited you are now, there WILL come a moment when you think what have we done?! It’s normal. There is a giant learning curve to parenting that never ends. Give yourself some grace. Please don’t expect your baby to be superbaby – they will cry inconsolably at times. Your husband will not always be superdad – he’s tired too. And no one expects you to be supermom. You’ll feel inadequate and have way more questions than answers, but you CAN do this. Perfection is not a pre-requisite for becoming a parent. (Praise Jesus!)


Tackle some of these now so you can have less to worry about later!

Also, I’d love to hear other helpful suggestions from any moms who have ideas to share.



ONE.

I can’t even believe I’m writing this right now, but my kid is ONE. I have a one year old. I’ve been a mom for 12 months. WHAT.


Funny how all the stereotypical parental sayings are turning out to be one-hundred percent accurate.
“They just grow up so fast.”
“Parenting is the toughest job there is.”
“It’ll be the best thing that’s ever happened to you.”
ALL TRUE. I guess that’s why people say them. Because they’re true.

This first birthday has created a strange mixture of feelings inside me. Disbelief/happiness/sentimental to the max/pride/joy/compulsive need to remember everything and take note of all the ways she’s still little. But mostly, happiness. 

There are times when I think, how can it be a year already? Weren’t we just taking our last drive as a twosome to the hospital to meet this baby? Then on other days it feels like she’s always, always been a part of our lives, and how can it possibly be only one year? It’s definitely bittersweet. I’m purposely making a point to not describe it as “sad.” Being present in the life of my growing, happy, healthy child is nothing to be sad about. (Thank you Kelle Hampton at Enjoying the Small Things blog for this post that opened my eyes to seeing my baby’s growth in a whole new, contended kind of light.)

I still wake up surprised that this is my gloriously messy life. Constant exhaustion from the job that never ends. The job that I never, ever want to end because there’s a perpetual ray of bright joy pushing through the dark clouds that can easily creep into motherhood.



Becoming a parent is a lot like getting married. Anticipation, nerves, excitement, and ignorant bliss prelude the big day. Even when people tell you of the highs and lows you’re about to experience – you can’t know until you’re all in. I was UTTERLY unaware of how utterly UNPREPARED I was for motherhood. For this challenge – it has stretched me in every way possible. For this love – it’s so extravagant. For this girl – oh, this girl. Every bit of this past year has exceeded my expectations and I’m grateful I’ve been called to motherhood. What a gift.

kissing her monkey. I die.

She refuses to lay down for these pictures anymore. So….this is what I’ve got.

STATS
Nicknames: Wildflower girl. Ave. Avie. Baby girl. Bird.
Eye Color: Still blue as can be!
Hair: blonde….getting in her eyes in the front. Don’t make me trim it.
Who does she look like? Me, from what people say.
Weight/Height: 20 lbs / height- will update after her Ped visit this week
Clothing: some 12 months still fit, but mostly 18 months (!)
Diapers: size 4
Favorite toys: Activity Table, big Legos, a barn that has a door she likes to open and close and stuff other toys inside of.
Crib or Parents’ Room: crib
Food/Routine: Up by 7am. 
Eats solids 3x/day. A bottle (transitioning completely to whole milk now) 5x/day. (I still nurse in the am and pm, but will be cutting that out soon as well.)
Bath at 7:30pm. In bed by 8:30pm.
Nighttime sleep: sleeping good through the night but waking up early (6ish)
Teething?: not currently
New Words
“thank you” (sounds like “daaadoo”)
“gone” (says this one alllll the time. after finishing every bite. after throwing each toy into the floor)
“uh oh” 
“down”
Loving lately: always so obsessed with our dogs!
Hating lately: being confined in any way. Girlfriend wants to explore.
Walking? Not yet – soooo close though!
Milestones & New Discoveries:
standing by herself
first tastes of cake and sugar!
feeding herself (some)
drinking whole milk
first aquarium experience
can sign “bath”



Here’s one thing I need to know, though. CAN I STILL CALL HER A BABY? I mean, I know she’ll always be my baby, but I need to know when it’s no longer socially and developmentally acceptable to call her a baby. She can stand up on her own and is half as long as me when I hold her. But she’s still a baby for now…..right? Just say yes.


And here’s a recap of her first year in monthly pictures! 


To my little wildflower girl, I love you more than anything. I kinda wish there was a word bigger than love that I could give you, but it’ll have to do. 


{I had to revisit her birth story, probably something I’ll do every year in some capacity. If you’d like to read it, click
here.}

the phrase that got me through my first year as a parent

I know a lot of moms really love having a newborn, so I’m probably in the minority on this one, but I’m gonna go ahead and say I don’t think I’m cut out for the newborn phase. 

Maybe I’ll feel differently if/when I have a second newborn….maybe it’ll come to me a little easier…a little more naturally. But when I think back on life with Aven up to about 8 weeks old, I mostly feel happy to have made it through to the other side. Not that she was a particularly difficult baby….she just wasn’t a particularly easy one either. 

There are certainly things I miss about a brand new baby…like her soft fuzzy head and countless little rolls. I miss her all curled up in a ball on my chest and the way she stretched with her whole body for a full 30 seconds every time she was awakened. But now that she’s older, I feel like I’m actually enjoying motherhood rather than just trying to survive it. She’s becoming super interactive, can actually communicate some, and is just plain hysterical. 

Being only a couple weeks out from her first birthday, it got me thinking about what words of advice were most helpful to me in navigating not only the newborn days, but my entire first year as a mom. There is one phrase that has been my go-to, my mantra, my life-saver, from day one to now.





TOMORROW IS A NEW DAY.

Simple, right?

Funny how it’s not even specific to motherhood. It’s pretty universal. But as a new mom, it spoke hope to me.



What it meant to me was that it didn’t matter if she or I had cried multiple times the day before.

It didn’t matter if I had to sleep cramped up in the crib with her because it was THE ONLY THING that made my sick baby feel better.

Ultimately, it didn’t even matter if I had made all the right decisions in parenting her over the last 24 hours.

Because every.single.morning when I hear her stirring around in her crib I am sweetly greeted with the thought that I get to try again. We get to start fresh. Even though every day holds new challenges, it also holds new opportunities. What I didn’t get right the day before can be tossed aside. And that new trick I learned for soothing my baby or making her laugh? ON REPEAT. At least until it doesn’t work anymore. With every mistake and every victory, there is a lesson about who your child is, and who you are as a parent. 

Tomorrow is NEW.



This mindset has also helped me learn to start again in the middle of my day, if needed. A bad moment doesn’t equal a bad mom, just like a bad moment doesn’t equal a bad child.  One minute she can be completely losing her little baby mind over the tragedy of her Puffs being “gone gone,” and the next she’s playing patty cake with a big grin and a scrunched up nose. I could learn something from her in that sense. She doesn’t get bogged down carrying the junk of the day with her. She knows how to shake it off (also one of her favorite songs, by the way.)  She’s teaching me a lot, this girl. I hope I always take the time for the lesson.

The STEADFAST LOVE of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end. They are NEW EVERY MORNING; great is your faithfulness. 
Lamentations 3:22-23 


What about you? What words of encouragement have gotten you through the toughest days of being a mom?




11 months! {update}

So, on Tuesday I was at work and wrote “1/6/2015” at the top of my first patient worksheet for the day. It hit me. She’s 11 months old. ELEVEN. You guys, that’s only four weeks from being one year old. 

Someone hold me.

These pictures were made possible by Puffs. I literally had to bribe her to get any decent ones. 

She’s decided it’s more fun to take the headbands off now. She’s becoming a bit more mischievous and really keeping us on our toes.


As of now, I’m not planning to do these monthly updates after she turns one, but I may change my mind. I love being able to revisit when she did what, and to relive all the milestone moments from her first year. I may just do an update every few months or so. We’ll see how it goes.


This past month included her first Christmas
Our first Christmas as parents. 

Even though she’s too little to understand, it was really magical and just made the holidays even more joyful than they already are.

{ we have a pic in this very same spot last year….only I was hugely pregnant with this little babe still in my belly. }

This was her holiday outfit for my family’s Christmas party and meeting Santa. Could you die???
(Everything consignment except the pink leggings and the Owen and Abi skirt.)

She met Santa for the first time! And by that I mean, she was strategically placed on his lap without ever making eye contact with him, because that seemed to be the safest bet. She didn’t seem especially happy or excited about it BUT there were no tears, no pulling of beards, and no shrieking screams. So I’m calling that a win all around.

We picked out a Christmas tree at the tree farm as a family. 

Went something like this: Drive up to desolate tree farm halfway through December. Spot a tree in the middle of a clearing. Determine it’s about 95% perfect (!). Decide you will literally cut anyone if they try to take the tree first. Hubby chops down tree (super impressive) and throws it in the back of the truck. Drive home and then let 95%-perfect-tree sit undecorated in the house for a week. OH WELL. What’s important is we got a tree, people. And it was decorated exactly one week prior to Christmas. So again, calling that one a win. Also, Aven didn’t try to destroy the ornaments which I was totally betting on.



Girlfriend loves some Christmas lights. Whenever the tree is lit up, she points to it and does a little high pitched squeal with this surprised/excited/overjoyed look on her face. So cute. We went to an outdoor light event in our city that was pretty spectacular, and she was enamored.

It was soo cold. She kept putting her hands up to Brandon’s mouth for him to warm them up. 

We had a little photo booth set up at one of our family Christmas parties. Here’s what Aven thought about it:


Obviously thrilled.

Stats
Nicknames: Baby bird. Ave. Brandon always calls her Babygirl.
Eye Color: blue 
Hair: getting much longer and the rat tail is officially GONE. Moment of silence for the rat tail.
………………………………………………
Who does she look like? more me lately….I think.

Weight/Height: no update on this til next month’s dr appt.
Clothing: 12-18 months in most stuff.
Diapers: size 4
Favorite toys: anything that plays music and her baby “walker” that she can stand up and play with.
Crib or Parents’ Room: crib
Food/Routine: Up by 7 am every day (could set a clock by this girl). 
Breastmilk every 3-4 hours (6 oz, or as close as I can get…we are nearing the end of nursing).
Solid foods 3 times/day. She is loving yogurt right now.
Usually 2 naps/day, with the morning one being the longest and most important.
Bedtime around 9:00. (starting to move this up a little each night).
Nighttime sleep: she’s been sleeping like such a champ lately which I couldn’t be happier about. But since it’s something that changes monthly, I never let myself get TOO used to it.
Teething?: not currently
New Words: MAMA (WOHOOOOO!!!)
DADA
MORE (kinda – she tries to say it when she signs it)
GONE GONE (sounds like “go go”)
Loving lately: Me. She’s been so clingy with me recently. I’m not complaining though, since it probably won’t last.
Hating lately: wearing socks/headbands/hats. 
Being left alone to play

no more rat tail. 



New Discoveries/Milestones: 
Pulling up on everything
Blowing kisses
Standing with little help
Sign language (“more”)
First busted lip. Was bound to happen with all of this pulling up and standing business.

These are my new favorite things from this past month:
– Blowing kisses and waving with major enthusiasm every time we tell someone bye. (I die).
– The scrunch face + fake laugh she does whenever anyone laughs about anything in her presence.
– Giving random kisses out to inanimate objects (i.e., her gloworm toy and she also kissed her new pj’s that have a ballerina on them. SO precious.) 
– The sock monkey pants from Aunt Shelby.
– Watching her do sign language (she picked up “more” super quick).
– Dancing anytime anywhere when she hears even the faintest music playing.



Well I’m off to order ffirst birthday party invites. And I’m gonna be a big girl about it and not cry.

Happy 11 months to our little baby bird!

perspective.

I’m truly in love with being a mom, and it’s probably the thing I’m most proud of. But as Brandon and I approached the time when we wanted to expand our family, there was some hesitation on my part. Maybe because I’ve grown up around lots of babies and kids so I was pretty aware of their life-altering nature (that does not mean I was prepared for one of my own, until it actually happened). My husband, on the other hand, was an only child for the first eighteenish years of his life, so he falls more in the “blissfully unaware” category.

Looking back, I wonder, what was I afraid of?

I would often wonder how different my life would be after having a baby. I would never get alone time anymore, time to relax, be able to sleep in, time to escape into a good book, and just plain old free time. Wow. Did you catch all that? All of the “me” that overwhelmed those thoughts? Unbeknownst to me, a little 9 lb package was on her way to reset that mindset. A complete overhaul, you could call it. 

Basically, having a baby was a kick in the pants that I needed.


When Aven was only ten days old, I got sick with an infection related to her birth and all that comes with that. My mom was staying at our house to help with the baby, especially during the nights so I could rest between feedings. The second morning I was sick my mom quietly woke me up and let me know it was time for the next feeding. Not going to water this down – I actually said “no. I can’t.”  I was still so drained physically from giving birth and then on top of that, fever/chills/generally feeling like crap…I couldn’t imagine finding the energy to provide nourishment for my daughter. But here’s the thing – I was her only source of sustenance. I had not started pumping any breastmilk. We had no formula. We definitely had not attempted trying a bottle yet. After about five minutes of a pep talk to get motivated to get out of the bed, I did. I wasn’t feeling it. But it was required of me. I like to think of this as one of many “welcome to motherhood” moments. She needed me. In a completely practical, physical, life-sustaining kind of way. How I felt was irrelevant. 

Selflessness and parenting – they kind of go together. It’s an ongoing lesson (and a struggle) to be last rather than first, especially in our self-centered culture. But as a believer it’s something God has called me to – to serve. (And this applies whether I’m a mom or not. It applies to every facet of my life.) 

Selflessness shows up even in the small things. Like having a good attitude in the morning despite how the night before went. It’s a testament to the power your child has over your heart – they may keep you up all night long but when you wake up that next morning (and peel yourself out of the bed and the exhaustion) only to see them smiling sweetly back at you, what do you do? You smile back. Every time. You can’t even help it. 

Mornings have not historically been my favorite part of the day. But now? As tired as I always am, (even when she sleeps all night – I’m still tired), I get to wake up to the sweetest face on the planet, and I get to spend the first moments of my day with the happiest little person you can imagine. Now it’s hands-down my favorite part of the day. There are lots of smiles and snuggles and sweetness. Brandon and I even sometimes fight over who gets to wake her up!
Thinking about it now, I realize there really is no competition between sleeping in versus waking up to a smiley, blue-eyed, babbling little girl child in footie pajamas….with serious bed head. She makes my days brighter. 

Every stinking morning.

So, back to those thoughts I had pre-baby on life post-baby. 
Almost all of my concerns centered around time, and now ask me who I spend all my time with?
My daughter.

Ask me who I want to spend all my time with?
My daughter.

The irony is not lost on me.

This isn’t to say I never crave time to myself anymore (oh, I do! I have introverted tendencies and alone time feels like a necessity to my sanity), but it’s a much more balanced perspective now. Like for instance, showering without a little person staring at me from the other side of the glass door is golden. Blow-drying my hair without having to play peek-a-boo at the same time is much more efficient, although I’ll admit, less fun. Sitting down with a book and getting through a couple chapters before I crash to sleep for the night is totally blissful. Running errands is seamless and eerily quick when I don’t have a 20-ish pound weight attached at my hip.

Ultimately, I believe my fear came from imagining big pieces of the puzzle called my life disappearing completely. How would my friendships and my marriage change? Would I be able to continue to work? I didn’t know exactly what my new life would look like, and that’s a little scary. All of the impending blessings of a child were sometimes clouded by my fears. I didn’t know if I would be a good mom or know how to raise a daughter. 

But now, when I look at my life’s puzzle? I see so many new and cherished pieces locked into place, right alongside all of the old pieces. My puzzle has been changed forever – it will never be the same – it’s completely new. 


And more beautiful than ever. 




Aven Harper {a birth story}

I loved reading birth stories when I was pregnant. Something about hearing so many different scenarios helped calm some of my fears, not to mention I just love a good story. I knew I would want to write Aven’s down so I would always remember all the details that become blurry with time, but the birthing experience is a lot to process! So I’ve been working on this one for a while and I finally feel like I’m ready to share it.

{Also…it’s kind of long. That’s what 30 hours of labor will get you.}




{January 28, 2014}


It was my due date. I left an uneventful OB appointment and was greeted by little snow flurries on the way home. We knew to expect some snow, but “nothing ever sticks around here.”  (LIES).  Brandon got stuck in terrible traffic on the way home from work, and we soon learned this same scenario was playing out all over the state. Due to unprepped roads and gridlock traffic, eventually people were forced to either abandon their cars and walk home, or spend the night in their vehicles. What. A. Nightmare. We just prayed that our girl would stay put until the weather passed. Brandon did not want to deliver his daughter himself and I knew I was gonna need that epidural. AMEN.


 

Well she must be a good listener, because stay put she did. 

 

The days slowly ticked by. With each one, the number of “is she here yet?” texts seemed to increase, as well as our medical bills thanks to an OB appointment every couple of days to check on the baby and my progress. Each doctor visit was the same – very minimal progress. Clearly, she was quite content in there. I guess I’m glad at least one of us was comfortable at this point.

I remember actually laughing when this calendar alert popped up on my phone. It was both terrifying and reassuring to be reminded that she couldn’t stay there forever. 

{February 5, 2014}

I was 41 weeks and 1 day pregnant.
I had a non-stress test and an ultrasound, which measured our girl at almost 8 lbs. Being a Sonographer myself, I’m well aware that late-term ultrasounds are not especially accurate when predicting weight so I rounded up, figuring she would be about 8 1/2 pounds. Yikes.

But judging by this belly……sounded about right.
 



At this appointment, my usually laid-back and funny doctor took on a more serious tone and discussed an induction with me. My doctors had been patient with me, knowing I wanted to give my baby as much of a chance as possible to come on her own, but it was time to move things along. Part of me felt relieved that this waiting and discomfort I was feeling was almost over, and the other part felt defeated that my body wasn’t cooperating. We agreed to start the Cervadil that night to prep my cervix and the Pitocin to start contractions the following morning. 

Before leaving my appointment, my doctor was able to strip my membranes, even though I was only dilated one measly centimeter, in hopes of jump-starting my labor. One last ditch effort to force this baby out. (Ps. No one warned me that this was super painful. So hey, head’s up….it’s painful.) 


At home, I piled up on the couch with my puppies for one more snuggle session while I ate lunch and ran over my perpetual to-do list in my head. I noticed that I kept feeling “crampy” but by the time you’re 8 days overdue, you aren’t really sure what’s normal anymore. I was trying to finish little things around the house and get my bags together (nesting is real, y’all) but those annoying cramps were interrupting my progress. Then it got to the point where I needed to sit down during them.

At some point, it finally dawned on me. 
These were contractions. 
And they were real.
 There was no flashing neon sign shouting “YOU’RE IN LABOR!” and I’m not sure why I expected to see one.

We were scheduled to be at the hospital at 5pm, so off we went.

Bags and nerves packed.
This would be our last drive as a twosome. The next time we climbed back in this white Chevy, we would have our mini buckled snugly in the backseat. If that’s not an overwhelming thought, I don’t know what is.

We were excited. Anxious. Ready. (As ready as you can be). 

blurry photo, but this was the last smile for a whiiiile.


After having the Cervadil placed (also pretty darn uncomfortable, by the way), my pain really kicked up. They went ahead and gave me IV medications to give me some relief. It made a huge difference and I was able to sleep. Around midnight my nurse checked me and I was 90% effaced, but still only about 2-3 cm dilated. My body was so tense and I was shaking uncontrollably, I think from the medication. My body could not relax, which was interfering with me progressing.



{February 6, 2014}

My sweet nurse was a great patient advocate and support to me. It was maybe 2:00 am, and the Anesthesiologist was already called in to L&D for another patient. So with my nurse’s urging to go ahead and get the epidural placed even though it was a touch early, I agreed. I was terrified that it would wear off before my labor was over, but I trusted her advice.
Bless her, because it made all the difference in the world. I didn’t feel anything when they were placing the epidural. Brandon was able to stay with me and try to hold me still because I was shaking so badly. It took effect pretty quickly and my body instantly relaxed. I was even able to sleep some more to recharge my batteries, which was a huge blessing for what ended up being a long labor.

My doctor checked on me around lunchtime (I was about 6-7 cm dilated) and broke my water to help me continue progressing.

{Sidenote:} Induction, stripping my membranes, and now breaking my water – all things I thought I didn’t want done, as I was hoping for no intervention except for an epidural. Just goes to show how not in control you are and when the time comes you will do whatever it takes to get your baby out swiftly and safely. I learned quickly not to be too married to an idea of how things will or should go. When things don’t go as planned (as if we can “plan” how this all will go down – laughable) you will be disappointed and frustrated and there is no room for that in the delivery room. There is enough emotion, uncertainty, and potential for anxiety without adding in unrealistic expectations. We have to keep an open mind for this birthing business because, really, we’re just along for the ride. Once we submit to that and trust God to take care of everything, it will be far less stressful. What matters is that the baby arrives in a way that’s as safe as possible for mom and baby. That’s all that matters.}
 
Okay. Moving on.

 

 
At one point in the afternoon, I was sleeping on my side and suddenly woke up to a hot, searing pain in back and right hip that escalated FAST. We soon figured out that my epidural had drained completely to my left side. Who knew this was even possible? It caught me off guard and there was no slow acclimation to the pain to help me prepare. Let’s just say it solidified my everlasting love for an epidural and heightened my already intense respect for those who brave this without one. You are superheroes. But that is not a badge this girl has ever aspired to. I didn’t want to suffer if I didn’t have to, and I wanted to reserve some energy for pushing later. That was the worst moment of my entire labor and I just pray-cried my way through it until the Anesthesiologist (a.k.a. angel in scrubs) came and re-administered some of my medicine.
 
It was now late afternoon. We were over 24 hours into my labor when my wonderful day shift nurse got pulled to the postpartum floor and a younger, snottier nurse took her place, seemingly annoyed to have an extra patient to deal with. She distractedly explained what it would be like when I’m ready to push and then she was gone. 
 
Once she left the room, it wasn’t long before I really started to feel like I could push. So, following her instructions, I paged for her.
 
She didn’t come.
 
Several more pages… 
 
No nurse.
 
Once she finally made her way into my room, she scolded me for paging her every time I felt the need to push. I was spent, and being reprimanded was more than I could take and the tears began to fall. When she finally listened and agreed to check me, I was 9, almost 10, cm dilated – close enough to get ready to push! I was so happy about this news I didn’t even feel the need to say I told you so.
 

In just moments the entire delivery room transformed. The ceiling above my bed opened up and a gigantic, intimidating light came down.  A surgical table and lots of sharp objects appeared….I didn’t look too closely at those….ignorance is 100% bliss in this case. The portable baby bassinet was prepped and ready for our baby. Those words, our baby, finally felt real in that momentMore nurses came filing in. Someone kept bumping up the thermostat – I was literally ROASTING and asking for a cold washcloth every two minutes but everyone else was freezing. The end of the bed was dropped down and the leg supports came up. It was time. 
Holy crap, it was time.

I pushed for about an eternity forty minutes. I honestly couldn’t have told you if it was ten minutes or two hours. I was focused on the task at hand and time felt suspended; both fast-moving and slow-motion all at once. Soon my doctor arrived – totally calm, in control, and just her typical humorous self. (Without a doubt, God knew exactly the type of doctor I would need for this moment. This life-changing moment – and she was it. Yes, God cares about the little things.)


{P.S., this is especially amazing considering I found my OB by looking up several offices online and choosing the group of doctors who looked the most normal. True story.}


 I was still mostly numb from the epidural (thank you Jesus) but I could feel when a contraction came and went so we didn’t have to rely on the monitors much. I pushed hard and long during the contractions and rested in between. Once my doctor could see her head she said “this is not a small baby” and played with Aven’s hair, chatting like we were just meeting for coffee. Ya know, no big deal, just having a baby over here. Brandon and Ginna (who is my cousin and acted as my unofficial “labor coach”) were there right beside me, cheering me on and helping me  literally lift my head for each push. Both of them were so attentive and supportive during my labor, I doubt I could have done it without them. My mom was in the background snapping these pictures.



{February 6, 5:27pm}

My doctor asked me to give one more good push. 


That’s when my big baby finally escaped from her home of the last ten months, with one arm reaching out into the world, crying her little bird cry. Unbeknownst to me, with every push my doctor had been trying to free the umbilical cord that was wrapped around her neck. She kept trying to release it, but it wasn’t coming off. That’s when she asked me for the final push and she pulled her out. 

Safe and sound.


The first thing I felt was an overwhelming sense of relief.
Relief that it was over.
That she was okay. 
That I was okay.

My doctor held her up for a picture and then they laid her right on my chest. She was wet, trembling, and crying, and she pooped on me immediately – apparently that’s the thanks I get for bringing her into the world. Our doctor shoved the hemostats Brandon’s way and he cut the cord, something he wasn’t planning on doing since he’s pretty squeamish, but he went for it and I was so proud. Plus, it only seemed fair after everything I had just been through. 


It felt completely unreal that this little person who was only seconds before inside of me, was now where I could physically see her and touch her – something I had been so anxious to do. I couldn’t keep the tears in. They just flowed.


Meeting your child for the first time is nothing short of magical. I can’t think of any other way to describe it.


 

Since I was laying flat on my back, I couldn’t see all of her – just her head and face. But the comments about how big she was started immediately, and once they put her on the scale we had proof – she was big. 
9.4 lbs of baby had been inside of me. 
No one saw that coming. Including me, thankfully, or else maybe I would have rethought my feelings on an induction closer to my due date.

Birth is messy. It just is. And I’ve learned that everything that happened in that delivery room is just the first glimpse into what parenthood is really all about. It is messy. It is work. But it’s also breathtakingly beautiful.


They got her all cleaned up and handed her over to Brandon who was completely beaming, studying his daughter. Dark hair, smokey blue eyes. Swollen. I couldn’t get over how perfect she looked and I couldn’t take my eyes off her. There was a familiarity between us that made me feel like I had always been her mom and we had just been waiting 27 years to meet each other.

I will always feel overwhelmed at the thought of how miraculous this whole experience was. What a privilege to be the one chosen to facilitate her coming into the world. And as if that weren’t enough, I get to be her mama – every single day.


Welcome to the world, my sweet girl.


 
{ her name }

We wanted to wait to name her until we laid eyes on her. We finally settled on Aven Harper. (“Aven” is a type of mountain wildflower and also Irish for “fair radiance.” Harper was a name that we liked with all of our first name choices.)

 
It certainly seems to fit our beautiful, vibrant, spirited little girl. 
We are so honored to have been made parents because of her.
 
 
 
 
 




 
 

7 Month Update!

Good grief, I feel like I just shared her 6 month update! Does it keep getting quicker? If so I’m not sure that I can handle that.





Big moments this past month included:

Trying solid foods for the first time! 
Yes, we waited until she was 6 months old because girlfriend has been super satisfied with breastmilk only till this point. We began with oatmeal cereal because I wasn’t loving what I read about rice cereal. Then we also started some baby foods like apple, pear, sweet potato, and squash. I have a feeling she isn’t going to like change much because every time we start a new food we swear that she hates it. But then sure enough, the second day she at least tolerates it and sometimes even face-dives for the spoon. So funny. So far she likes sweet potatoes the most!




First trip as a family of three! 
I already shared all about our beach trip in this post, but here’s a few pictures of Aven I didn’t include in that post. We had to snap some of her in her fancy dress from Mimi.







I will be so sad when those little wrist rolls disappear.

Outgrowing everything…
like her swing (too long, but we still use it!), little lamb sleeper (affectionately known as “Lamby”), and a lot of her clothes. She’s also almost too long for her infant tub, but isn’t ready to sit up on her own yet.


2nd illness of her life….BOOOOO. 
There’s maybe nothing more pitiful than a sick baby. 
She got sick for the first time when she was only 10 weeks old from my husband, even though we had practically quarantined him – she still got it. 
This time it started off subtle, just watery eyes and a little runny nose but by day two it was full blown. Brandon and I also got it so it was no joke. I tried to hold off on taking her to the pediatrician because I had a feeling they were going to say “it’s viral, there’s nothing we can give her”  but after a couple of days with a fever we took her. And shockingly, they said “it’s viral, there’s nothing we can give her.”
So. Frustrating.
Thankfully she is better now and it only lasted a few days.


Learning how to sit up on her own!
She literally just started this over the past week and she gets better at it every day.



Stats
Nicknames: she’s been my little bird child this past month. She sucks in her bottom lip 
and looks like a baby bird – hilarious.
Eye Color: blue 
Hair: getting longer all over. And of course her rat tail continues to be my favorite thing ever. I don’t care what anyone thinks.
Who does she look like? more people are saying she’s favoring me lately.

Weight: 18 lbs (75%)
Height: 26.5″ (68%) BUT I am convinced they didn’t measure her length accurately because have you seen my child? She is looong! I need to remeasure her myself but right now it’s 11pm and she’s asleep, so…
Clothing: mostly 9 months, especially in sleepers because they have to accommodate those legs!
Diapers: size 3
Favorite toys: she loves playing with the Pampers wipes box in spite of all her toys. Really anything that’s not a “toy” is what she wants…my phone, the remote, my hair….
Love or Hate Baths: Love
Crib or Parents’ Room: Crib
Pacifier?: Nope
Routine: we went back to feeding every 3 hours because she was waking up a lot during the night when we tried to stretch it out. She still takes a morning nap most days and usually an afternoon nap if we’re lucky but we have to work for them! They don’t just happen like they used to. 
Food: breastmilk, oatmeal cereal once/twice a day, and baby food once/twice a day. 
Nighttime sleep: totally hit or miss right now. She wakes up at least once most nights. Bummer.
Teething?: yes and yes. Seems to have a top one coming in now. Just got her an amber teething necklace so we’ll see if that helps. (Brandon thinks I have totally lost my mind.)
New Discoveries/Milestones: Beginning to sit up on her own using her hands to stabilize; Rolling, rolling, rolling all over the place; Laughing a lot more; Starting to learn the wave motion with her hand but doesn’t quite understand it yet; Reaching for people (the best!).

This is her new favorite face to make. And it cracks me up every. single. time.

headband: Jennifer Ann Style


best face ever. amiright?!?


I love you, little bird! You are my favorite 7 month old in the world.