Brecken Lately

Unfortunately, life got the best of me, so I haven’t posted in a couple of weeks. Eek! Seeing as Brecken is a whopping six months old (and some change) now, and I get a lot of questions regarding different things we are working on, I thought I would share some general updates on how things have been going with him lately.

Six Month Stats:

17 lbs. 6 oz. // 27″

Sleep

Now, please don’t hate me for saying this, but Brecken has always been an excellent sleeper. Since his first nights home, he has never woken up more than twice to eat. I think I only had one truly bad night during which he woke up a few times and then was up for the day around 6:30am. I actually overslept during most of my leave because he would sleep until between 9-10am! At ten weeks old, he was sleeping through the night. We never even experienced the dreaded four-month-old sleep regression (phew!). He is still sleeping through the night, which we continue to be very grateful for. Even on vacation, his schedule stayed the same. If I knew the secret, I would gladly share, but I think it’s a combination of him and us. I can say that we always “fill up his tank” before we go to bed, even if that means we wake him for a dream feed between 9-10pm.

Eating

We started purées around 4.5 months. We did them for a couple of weeks, and Brecken did well. Then, he got sick again. (Ugh! One of the downsides of daycare.) We were more worried about getting him well again, so the purées fell to the wayside. Then, after he got better a few weeks later, we noticed he was grabbing and very interested in our food and drinks. I did some reading up on baby led weaning and decided to focus our efforts on an approach more along those lines instead. Basically, we give him various “table” foods and let him take the lead on feeding himself. Let me be clear and say that he’s not truly eating much at this point. He is great at grabbing and bringing things to his mouth, but he has a ways to go in terms of learning how to swallow solids. He gags when the food hits the back of his throat, which is common while babies are learning to swallow more. It’s scary as a parent to see your baby gag like this. I watch his every move while he eats, and I’m not allowing anyone else to feed him solids yet (i.e., daycare or grandmas). Correction: He does have fruits and veggies at my moms, but only in a mesh feeder. (Those mesh feeders are great, by the way! You can check them out here and here.) He has been doing well with all kinds of foods! Among other things, he enjoys carrots, green beans, apples, bananas, scrambled eggs, peanut butter (yes, we’ve been giving it to him since five months, but that’s a topic for another day), etc. Our pediatrician said we can basically give him any table food (cut to an appropriate size), except for honey. We still have to get more comfortable with all of this, especially the swallowing part, so we aren’t going too crazy just yet.

Oh, and he has two teeth that have now broken through his gums! His bottom two teeth came out of nowhere, it seems. This past Saturday, he was sucking on his bottom lip a lot, so I happened to check and there was a little tooth poking through! The second one broke through a few days later. He hasn’t been acting any different lately, so I was quite surprised. Of course, he has been putting everything in his mouth and drooling more the past couple of months, but I still thought it would be a while longer. This is exciting for us! You can hear his little teeth scraping against his apple slices as he gnaws on them. It’s so cute.

In other news, I am SO happy with our Stokke Tripp Trapp high chair. It looks modern and chic while still being super easy to clean and ergonomic. Plus, Brecken will be able to use it for years to come because it transitions into a regular chair as the child gets older. (Even adults can sit in it!). It is 100% worth the investment, in my opinion, just make sure you get the full set with the baby seat and tray.

Physical Development

Brecken started rolling front to back consistently just before four months, but he still doesn’t roll back to front. He’s sooooo close, though! Around five months, he started sitting up a little more, but he was leaning heavily on his arms (“a supported sitter”). After a couple more weeks, he was sitting up and relying less on his arms. Now, he sits up independently for long periods of time without leaning forward at all. It’s just crazy how quickly things change when they are this little!

He’s also working on crawling right now. He pushes himself all the way up on his arms, and he has the leg movements down. Now, he just needs to figure out how to combine them and become mobile. We practice by doing tummy time and putting a fun toy (usually with noise and/or lights) about a foot or so in front of him. We encourage him to try to get it himself. He certainly makes a valiant effort. The other night, he actually managed to move a few inches forward all by himself!

He still loves standing, too. We went from holding him up to stand in the early months to him standing up on our own and using our hands as support. He moves his feet forward, too, but he definitely does not have the balance to begin walking yet. I’m sure that will be here before we know it, though.

I almost forgot… He also reaches his arms out to be picked up now. Swoon!

Play

I think it goes without saying that he loves anything that lights up and/or has sound at this point.

He also LOVES his Finding Nemo Jumper, which we got from Target. It’s so much fun for him. He just stands and jumps away in there. He is also at a point where he plays with all of the toys on it, too. (Bonus: We just love Disney!)

Can bath time be considered play time? Sure can! (If your baby likes baths, of course.) Brecken has so much fun taking baths. We recently got him this seat for the tub, and it works great. He loves playing with all of his bath toys, like these Sea Buddies and his bath books, and splashing around. This seat lets him do that without us worrying about him getting hurt. It doesn’t move at all in the tub. He outgrew this bath seat, but it worked very well up until him getting too big for it. I highly recommend both, depending on your baby’s age and size.

Lately, he’s been playing with these blocks. The first thing he does is grab the container and empty it! (Again, so cute.) We then have him pick up different blocks or take them from us. We do this kind of quickly so he can work on hand-eye coordination. As I mentioned above, he is really good at grabbing and bringing things to his mouth.

Have you heard of Slumberkins?! If not, you should totally check out their website. They are the softest, sweetest, cutest stuffed animals, but they also help teach about things such as coping with change, mindfulness and self-esteem. Adorable stuffed animals with intention?! Yes, please! We have almost all of them (whoops!) because I just couldn’t resist. Brecken loves cuddling with them. It’s still a small company, so they often have limited edition options and items do sell out, so always grab one you want when you see it.

I’m actually giving away a (sold out!) limited edition Sleepy Peep!

Head over to my Instagram page (@managingasmom) to enter!

(Contest ends at 12pm CT on 3/17/17. This giveaway is not sponsored or endorsed by Slumberkins or Instagram.)

Daycare

We decided on daycare as our primary means of childcare. This could, and likely will be, a topic that I will go into more detail on later, but, overall, it is going very well. I am really happy with the daycare itself. Brecken’s teachers are all so sweet and caring. They are always raving about Brecken and what a great baby he is. (Hearing that really makes this mama’s heart explode!) We have a pretty nice routine going on. Matt wakes Brecken to feed and change him (clothes and diaper) around 6am before he leaves for work. Then, Brecken goes back to bed until I am ready to get him around 7:15am. Brecken always used to sleep during that time. Now, it’s 50/50 between him sleeping or him talking quietly to himself. I have never (not yet, at least) woken up to him screaming or crying, thankfully. If I hear him talking to himself when I wake up, I will grab him and bring him in our room where he’ll lay on our bed while I get ready. I drop him off at daycare about ten minutes from our house and then I head to the train. Between my mom and Matt’s mom, he is picked up early 3-4 days a week. One day of the week he is picked up between 11am-12pm. The other days he’s picked up between 3-4pm. It been working out really well this way, and the grandmas love their special time with him. He even gets dropped off at our house sometimes, which is not necessary, but much appreciated. They are such a huge help to us, and we are so very fortunate to live within ten minutes of both sets of our parents (which was a big reason for us to stay in the area when we bought our house, aside from loving our town anyways).

The biggest and perhaps most well-known downside of daycare is, of course, the germs. We are getting through them, though, and will all *hopefully* have even stronger immune systems as time goes on. So far, he’s been sick twice. I’m hoping that being on the verge of spring means that the worst of it is over.

Overall, Brecken is still one happy baby… unless he is hangry or overtired (which he definitely gets from me, ha!). We look forward to watching him continue to develop and grow right before our eyes. We are especially excited for our next vacation coming up in about a month. This time we’ll be having some fun in the sun, and we can’t wait to get him into a pool since he loves bath time so much!

Traveling with Baby

We just returned from Brecken’s second official vacation but his first time on a plane! We went to Montreal for five nights and, despite he and I starting off quite under the weather, we had a great time walking around and eating lots of delicious food. Traveling with a baby definitely requires some adjusting, but it’s totally manageable and worth it. If you are like us and love to travel, don’t let having a baby hold you back! Some may seem like common sense, but here are my general tips and must-haves for traveling with a baby…

Must-Have:  Crib

Of course Baby needs somewhere safe to sleep! Many hotels have cribs available for use (sometimes for a small fee), but you should always call in advance to reserve one. I think that’s a great option to have, but being a bit of a germaphobe, the thought of using a random crib doesn’t sit very well with me. That paired with the fact that we travel quite a bit, a travel crib was a must for us. We opted for the Baby Bjorn Travel Crib and love it. Setup and take down takes three seconds, literally, and it folds up nicely into a secure bag that can be checked with your luggage. The Lotus Travel Crib is another great, very similar, option. Bring an extra sheet, too!

Travel Tip:  Make sure Baby feeds or has a pacifier during take-off and landing

This will help keep the eustachian tubes in the ears open during the changes in elevation. No one likes to have their ears plugged up! Feeding and pacifier use promote sucking and swallowing, which helps to “pop” the ears.

Must-Have: Travel drying rack and dish soap

It’s no secret that we formula feed, so we always need to have bottles available. We brought six total, which was plenty. We were able to wash them and keep them ready for use with the help of this drying rack which is intended for travel and even comes with brushes. I also filled with a small squeeze bottle with dish soap (always a free and clear brand!). These items were super easy to toss into a suitcase and keep in the bathroom of our hotel room. The drying rack is also great to use after washing pacifiers and small toys.

Travel Tip:  Stroller, Baby-Wear or Both?

Depending on what you’ll be doing on your trip, it may make more sense to use a stroller instead of baby-wear or vice versa. Think about your plans in advance to figure out what will work best and which option(s) you should bring. In our case, we did both comfortably. Brecken was able to stretch out more in our UPPAbaby Vista (we brought the bassinet with us, which he has almost outgrown… **brb crying**), so we used that a lot, but we also used our Tula carrier at the airport and on a day when we visited a more crowded area. We always brought the stroller to dinner because he slept in it so well, so it allowed us (and those around us) a bit of peace and quiet during our meal. (There was one dinner he didn’t sleep through and was a little feisty instead! More on that below.) As I mentioned, I wore Brecken in the airport, which made things very easy. It allowed us to have his stroller packed up in its travel bag and checked with our luggage, too. We didn’t have to deal with packing it up at the gate.

Side note:  Both the stroller and travel crib were free to check with our luggage. Most airlines allow a couple of baby items to be checked for free (e.g., stroller, car seat, travel  crib), but it’s best to check with the specific airline you will be flying with.

Must-Have:  Extras of everything! 

I think this goes without saying but bring extras! Clothes, burp cloths/bibs, pacifiers, diapers, wipes, little toys, etc.

Travel Tip:  Pack baby essentials in carry-on(s)

While we always hope that we see our luggage coming onto the conveyor belt when it’s time to pick it up at the baggage claim, we all know that there is always the slightest chance that it doesn’t show up. (Ugh!) We packed nearly all of Brecken’s things into a carry-on suitcase and our backpacks. We were in a major city on this trip, so we could’ve walked to a store if need be, but that’s not always an option, like when we visit the Caribbean or Mexico. It’s always better to be over-prepared than under-prepared.

Travel Tip/Must-Have: Check the weather forecast ahead of time and bring appropriate clothes

You want to make sure you are packing appropriately for you and Baby! It was cold in Montreal, about the same as home for us, so we were sure to pack plenty of layers for Brecken. We are so happy with our recent 7am Enfant purchases. We used the Doudoune bunting in the stroller and the Pookie Poncho over the Tula. The Pookie Poncho can also be used as a car seat cover and as a stroller seat cover. So, win-win-win! (Who doesn’t love a good multi-use item?!)

Travel Tip: Plan for breaks and try to stick to your normal routine as much as possible

For us, this meant returning to our hotel at least a couple of hours before dinner each night so that we could all relax and refresh. Brecken would stretch out, play for a bit, eat and take another nap during this time. That nap usually carried over into the stroller at dinner. Then, we’d go home after dinner and repeat. Put on jammies, play and stretch out a bit and feed him one last time before he went down for the night.

Travel Tip:  Explore accommodation options

We stay at hotels/resorts most often, but renting a place through a reputable site like VRBO is a great option, too. (We rented a cabin when we went to Gatlinburg in November, and we have used VRBO for other trips, too.) If you are staying in a hotel, make sure you check out the size of the room. Take time to find a hotel with larger standard rooms or, if necessary (and possible), upgrade to a slightly larger room category that will allow for the crib and your belongings to fit more comfortably. Also, take note of other amenities you may want or need in your room like a mini fridge or bathtub.

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FINAL THOUGHTS

I think what is perhaps most important is to be as flexible as possible and adjust accordingly. Even the best of babies, Brecken included, will have meltdowns, get fussy, need extra attention, get hungry earlier than expected, need to nap… you name it! It’s okay to have set plans for each day, but give yourself extra time to navigate through them and cut yourself some slack if you are in public when one of these meltdowns occurs. We were very fortunate that Brecken slept through all but one of our dinners. During the dinner he was awake, we were right on top of another table and he was really needing attention. We held him throughout the meal, switching off between Matt and myself. While he didn’t have a full-blown meltdown, he was definitely fussy on and off. (At one point, he was all smiles, grabbing my cheeks and smashing his face into mine. That part was pretty cute.) I was so worried about disturbing everyone else’s dinner. In retrospect, Brecken was just acting as normal babies do, but it sure seems like all eyes are on you when this happens. (They weren’t, though. It was just my own worrying.) This is another situation that will get easier to deal with in time. It’s also why I highly encourage people to get out with their babies from early on. It helps you learn how to handle certain situations better outside of the comfort of your own home and it helps Baby get used to noises and being in different environments. It seemed stressful at the time, but looking back, it wasn’t really that big of a deal. Adapt and adjust.

Making Memories During Pregnancy

Though it may seem like the longest nine months ever, I think many women look back after the fact and realize their pregnancy actually went by pretty quickly. I suppose that also depends on how great or not-so-great your pregnancy was, too. Let’s face it, some of us are fortunate to have wonderful pregnancies and others spend countless days sick, swollen and even on bed rest or in the hospital. I imagine the majority have a combination of the two, good and bad.

Regardless of how you may feel or have felt during your pregnancy, I think one thing we can agree on is that growing a baby (or babies) inside of you from microscopic embryo to the newborn you will hold in your arms on the day he or she arrives is pretty damn incredible. I mean, wow. I still randomly look at Brecken and think, “I grew him inside of me?!” I’m sure I’ll do that for the rest of his life, too. There’s no denying that women are impressive beings anyways, but this level of badassery should definitely be recognized. I truly hope for all women to be able to celebrate and find joy during this pretty amazing time (at least as much as possible between the early trips to the toilet).

I also want to add that as a member of the infertility community, I know firsthand that for those of us who have struggled to conceive, this time means even more. We are forever grateful to be pregnant because some of us didn’t know if it would ever be possible. We try to push through even the worst of days with a smile on our faces because we know so many women who haven’t even had this opportunity yet and others that, sadly, never will. I don’t share this to suggest that women who conceive without any struggles should feel any less, rather that we should all take some time to recognize just how lucky we are to be able to expand our hearts and families this way. In honor of all of us making the most of pregnancy, I thought I would share a little list of ideas to remember and celebrate the good, the bad and the ugly.

Take Weekly Bump Photos

These don’t have to be professional, by any means. Instead, they should be quick and easy. I love the app “Baby Story” to add artwork, like weekly fruit size, to your pictures. Trust me when I say that looking back you will be glad you have these. It’s crazy to see how your stomach grew with each week that passed. I still like looking back at my pictures because it wasn’t long after delivering that I seemed to forget what being pregnant even felt like (so weird!).

Invest in Professional Maternity Photos

If you have it in your budget to invest in some professional photos, I highly recommend it. Depending on where you live, a quick session with a professional photographer should be about $250-$500 and include the digital files. We actually had professional announcement photos taken during a vacation in Park City, UT instead of maternity photos. I had planned to do both, but my hospital stay and surgery ate up weeks 34 & 35, and after that life just felt like a whirlwind with multiple doctors appointments a week and getting ready for Brecken. (This is another reason why I’m glad I at least have my weekly bump photos!) Even if you don’t want to pay for professional photos, use this as an excuse to buy a cute dress, get dolled up and have a friend or family member take some photos of you somewhere local. A great time to take maternity photos is around 36w.

Have a Baby Shower/Baby Sprinkle/Gender Reveal/BabyQ/etc.

This is probably a given, but there are so many ways to celebrate with a get-together, big or small. You don’t have to throw a party asking for gifts either; I know for some people that’s really not their intention behind having a celebration to begin with. It can simply be your close friends and family coming together to share their love for the little baby that will be joining you soon.

Treat Yourself

Don’t be afraid to pamper yourself a bit. Get a prenatal massage or two, get your nails done, buy some cute maternity outfits… whatever makes you happy! You’re growing a human, remember?!

Go to a Nice Dinner with your Partner

Admittedly, Matt and I do go out to eat a lot, but we made it a point to go out for two “special” dinners in the days leading up to the induction. We went out for hibachi (yum!!!) and a nice steak dinner (double yum!!!). It was just our little way of celebrating our last few nights before our duo turned into a trio.

Go on a Babymoon

Of course, this also depends on your budget, but whether big or small, it’s great to take some time away with just you and your partner before your lives truly change forever. Relax, reflect, laugh, indulge. We took a long trip to Paris, but a night at a nearby hotel works just as well! You could even plan a weekend of staying in together with no plans at all. You could make it extra special by picking up ingredients to make your favorite meals, grab your favorite desserts and snacks, watch some movies you’ve been wanting to see, play some board games, etc. Sometimes we take each other’s company for granted, so it’s nice to simply take time to be together.

A Final Note:  Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

I know it’s easier said than done, but your baby will be perfectly fine as long as you have the essentials. I wanted every little thing to be perfect before Brecken came, and, while I did the best I could, some projects just weren’t finished and the house wasn’t as spotless as I had hoped. Guess what?! He was none the wiser while he snuggled away in my arms. It will all get done… someday. That day just may not be today, and that’s okay. I’m continuously working on this myself because it’s a struggle, but I’ve gotten much better about letting go of the things that don’t really matter in life.

Snow Day!

Winter Storm Mateo is giving us a big heaping of snow here in Chicago! Mommy, Daddy and Brecken had a snow day today. How awesome that it’s Friday, too! I had lofty goals to do some serious house cleaning, but, as usual, that definitely didn’t happen. Whoops. Instead, we spent time together. (I did at least do the pile of dishes in the sink.) Even though it has already snowed this season, though nothing like this, this was Brecken’s first time really being out in the snow. We decided to test out his new bunting that we got for our upcoming trip to Montreal. It’s the 7AM Enfant Doudoune. It’s water-repellent, temperature rated to -4*F / -20*C and the bottom half can be snapped into either a sleeping bag style or two legs. It also has a little built-in scarf! It’s so cute and cozy.

What a great day! I look forward to an evening by the fire and some take out for dinner.

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mamaRoo, We Love You!

The mamaRoo is one product that I see moms asking about all the time. To be honest, I see mixed reviews. It’s not a product issue, though, because it’s an excellent product, in my opinion. It’s a usage issue. It’s a love it or hate it thing, at least from the baby’s perspective. Well, I’m here to tell you that we LOVE our mamaRoo, and we are still using it at five months old!

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My sister, Michelle, actually gave us the mamaRoo as a gift for our baby shower. (So generous!) This super high-tech swing offers five different swinging motions, including “car ride” and “tree swing.” You can further customize the movement with five different speed settings. The mamaRoo also plays four different sounds, like a fan or ocean, or you can connect your own device via AUX and play whatever your heart desires. (I highly recommend checking out the Rockabye Baby! albums. They turn modern-day music into lullabies.) Guess what?! You can control all of the setting from your phone via bluetooth! I bet you are thinking, “Why would I need to do anything from my phone?!” I thought the same thing until I picked up a fussy Brecken from the mamaRoo, walked away forgetting to turn it off and sat down on the couch to calm him down. Bingo!!! I used my phone to turn it off, so that I didn’t have to disturb my now peaceful baby.

The biggest reason I see moms not recommend the mamaRoo is because their baby just didn’t like it, which is totally understandable. All babies are different, and, naturally, some do better with certain things over others. In our case, Brecken LOVES this thing. We started putting him in it right away, though we didn’t actually turn it on until a little later. Did that help form a lasting love? Maybe. I’m sure it didn’t hurt. He has fallen asleep swinging more times than I can count. The mamaRoo has really been a go-to for us on a daily basis. If we knew he needed a nap but he was fighting it, a few minutes of swinging would easily knock him out for a long snooze. As I mentioned, we still put Brecken in the mamaRoo and he’s five months old! The movement helps him to fall asleep if he’s resisting the urge. I’m actually getting sad because I know he’ll be outgrowing it soon.

The bottom line:  I highly recommend getting this and using it from the very beginning. Be sure to get the infant insert, too. If you are worried about your baby enjoying it, just save the box until you know for sure.

Grab your mamaRoo here! Bonus… there’s a $20 off coupon right now and free (fast!) shipping with Amazon Prime!

Comfy Cozy Monday

It’s been snowing here in Chicago since the late afternoon! I love snow, but it was coming down so fast that the roads were horrible. It took twice as long as usual to get whenever you needed to go. It’s still coming down, but, thankfully, we are all home for the night and cuddling in our comfies.

Nordstrom geo bear

Nordstrom geo bear

Brecken definitely has the best outfit on for cozying up by the fireplace. This super adorable geo bear set is from Nordstrom Baby, and it was perfect for the cold and snowy day. (Bonus: The sweatshirt is actually a onesie!)

Chicago train station blizzard

Chicago Snow

My Snowy Backyard

The New Mom Experience

Words simply can’t do justice to the pure bliss that I felt after bringing Brecken into this world. It was a true “pinch me” moment and experience. We had this tiny little baby to love unconditionally and care for from now through eternity. My heart grew to a size that I didn’t even know possible.

The rest of our hospital stay was uneventful, which is a good thing. We cherished those couple of days in the hospital, admiring every last detail of our sweet Brecken. I was in pain, but doing well. I showered the next day and learned what would be a new normal for me over the next week or so of initial recovery. Matt was incredible; he even changed every diaper while we were in the hospital. We made sure to ask the nurses plenty of questions, soaking in all of the information we could. Then, we were released from the hospital. Packing Brecken up in the car seat for the first time was nerve-wrecking, but we did it (and asked a nurse to double-check). We were escorted out of the hospital. I was being pushed in a wheelchair, and Brecken was in his car seat on my lap (per hospital requirements  – Matt couldn’t carry the car seat out). Matt walked next to us. We proceeded outside through the hospital doors. The hot and sticky August air touching all of our skin; it felt so good to finally be outside again.

We followed up at the pediatrician’s office soon after being released back into the wild. Brecken hadn’t gained any weight since we left the hospital, so we actually ended up needing two follow-up weight checks, which surprised us because he was such a good eater. He was eventually on the right path, though, so all was well.

The first week was a bit rough in terms of my recovery. I was in a lot of pain. I had to be careful every time I sat because the slightest wrong movement would pull on the stitches. I actually think I tore a bit again from sitting down too quickly towards the end of my first week. That made for a painful few more days. I also had some serious baby blues. I became very emotional if anyone else held Brecken for too long, even my own mom and sister. I was dreadfully sad at the thought of Matt returning to work. I just wanted to stay in our perfect little bubble forever. Thankfully, that passed on its own as my hormones balanced out again. My milk came in about three days after Brecken was born, and that was also painful. My already (extra) large boobs were the size of beach balls. It was crazy. That pain was tolerable when I had a bra on, but I cried in the shower. I did not breastfeed, so I just had to ride it out. The worst of it passed after a few days. I leaked for about eight weeks total, which meant that I wore a bra 24/7 for eight weeks, too. Not fun. Despite those “issues,” I really did feel great after about one week. My six-week postpartum check-up came up quickly. I was cleared to resume all normal activity, the most anticipated of which was the ability to take baths again. Finally!

If you don’t count his first visit at the pediatrician’s office, it was about a week before I left the house with Brecken, and I never looked back after that. My mom spent so much time with us during my leave; I really cherish all the moments we had together. She was the driving force behind me getting out of the house with him. Even though I felt pretty good, it’s a little scary going in public with a baby the first few times. You worry if he’ll have a little meltdown, have the biggest diaper explosion ever recorded, have to eat when there’s nowhere to sit down and feed him. Again, there are a lot of “what ifs” running through your mind. I think that’s why many parents don’t get out as much in the beginning. He did great, though! He had no problems in his car seat and spent most of our time out and about sleeping. We were soon out for hours at a time enjoying the extended summer we had here in Chicago. We ran a lot of errands, went out to lunch often, went to the museum and went to the zoo multiple times. We were regularly on the go. Brecken is still great in his car seat and when we are out. I think going out so much in the beginning really helped both he and I. To the extent possible, I really recommend getting out often to other new moms.

Overall, I think we all adjusted quite well to our new life together. Brecken was (and still is) an excellent baby. I think the most challenging things during this very early time were (1) thinking he was having tummy issues when, as we’d later learn, it was just a normal adjustment period, (2) having to put clothes on over his head, which I did oh-so-daintily for quite some time before I realized babies are far more solid than we think, and (3) dealing with him scratching his face with the razors (sometimes called “nails”) on his fingers nearly every time we’d let his hands out of the conveniently built-in mittens of his PJs. From the beginning, he’s been so well-natured, sweet, easygoing and happy. He was always smiling and loved his baths. If you can believe it, he even started sleeping for ten hours a night with only one feed when he was a few weeks old and truly started sleeping through the night around ten weeks old. (He definitely gets his love of sleeping from me!) I admit that we did not have a typical newborn experience, but, for that, we are grateful. We really hit the jackpot with him, and we’re just getting started!

…and then there were three!

I must say that I had a pretty great pregnancy. (Seriously, I didn’t even experience morning sickness.) That came to a crashing halt shortly after hitting thirty-four weeks, though. I ended up in the hospital for a week for what we eventually – after all kinds of exams, monitoring and tests – found out was a 2mm kidney stone stuck in my ureter that had caused trauma to the area. That’s a story for another day, but I will say that the pain from that kidney stone far exceeded that of my labor and delivery with Brecken. For the record, I had never had a kidney stone before, and I hope to never have one again.

During that hospital stay, before we knew exactly where my excruciating back pain was coming from, a routine scan indicated that I had borderline low fluid, so I was admitted and referred to an MFM during my stay. I eventually had surgery to remove the stone and was released a day later with a catheter. Talk about pure misery. Thankfully, Brecken was just fine during all of that, but from that point on, I had to see an OB in my group twice a week for monitoring and fluid scans until Brecken was ready to make his appearance. Between the low fluid issue, Brecken measuring big and the fact that IVF babies are inherently considered high risk, a decision was made to schedule an induction at 39w+2.

I was actually all for an induction. I’m a Type A planner through and through. I don’t like surprises, even if it’s the birth of my own child! The other benefit of me scheduling an induction was that I was guaranteed to be at the hospital that was, by far, my preference. I knew the risks and that many inductions, especially for first-timers, end in a c-section. I was just staying positive and hoping for the best.

Induction day was upon us in no time. In retrospect, my entire pregnancy seemed to go by in a blink. I still tell people that the days were long, but the weeks were short. One after another the weeks had passed by, hitting certain milestones along the way. The week leading up to Brecken’s big debut was filled with an enormous amount of excitement. Matt and I went to a couple of nice dinners to kind of celebrate and rejoice in our finals nights as a duo. I also thought about so many other random thoughts and “what ifs”, as I imagine most first-time soon-to-be parents do. “Do we have everything we need for him?” “How much do you even feed a baby?” “Is the house clean enough?” “Did we prep enough meals in case, you know, I can’t leave the house for months?” “Is it true that I will probably never sleep again? …but I love sleep!” “How will our girls [three dogs] react to him?” “ARE WE TRULY PREPARED?” (Too late now anyways! But, yes, we were.) Eventually, I quieted my thoughts and somehow managed to fall asleep that Sunday night before the induction.

Matt and I were up bright and early the next morning, like 5am early. It was reminiscent of all of the early mornings we had shared waking up excited to head out for a flight and kick off another vacation. We stopped at Dunkin Donuts so that we could both get a little something to eat. I knew that it could be a long time before I was able to eat anything. While we were driving to the hospital, I had this irrational fear that they wouldn’t have my information when we arrived. I was so worried about it!

We arrived around 6:45am. I am happy to report that they did have my information, a whole binder, actually, sitting front and center at the nurse’s station in the L&D unit. Phew! They showed me to my private room, and we settled in. It was around the time of the nurse’s shift change, so we just sat idle for a bit, but I was hooked up to monitoring and examined by my assigned nurse soon after. I had been sitting at about 1cm since 35w and was about 50% effaced the week or two leading up to my delivery. I went in to my induction being closer to 2cm and at least 75% effaced.

My IV was the next step. IVs and blood draws are extremely difficult for me. Truly brutal. To top it off, I have small veins, so I often have to be stuck multiple times. I always mention my issues to the tech or nurse, as most are very understanding. The nurse said she’d take a look. She saw a vein that had potential, so she proceeded. Matt stood on the other side of me and squeezed my hand. With tearful eyes, I looked the other way. The vein blew. The nurse felt horrible and immediately called an anesthesiologist because she didn’t want to have to keep poking me, as it was clearly agonizing. The anesthesiologist arrived; he stuck me in a different spot but didn’t get it. At this point, while he was trying to stick me, I felt something cool on my right hand. I glanced down and saw blood streaming down my hand as a result of the first poke. The nurse hurried over to get that under control. I was fighting hard to get through it, telling myself, “It’s almost over.” The third poke was successful. I took some deep breaths and Matt helped to calm me down.

At approximately 8:45am, my doctor arrived to break my water. Because I had lower fluid going in, there was no big gush. It was actually pretty quick and painless. They also inserted a line of constant fluid to keep Brecken safe. That was very odd because I felt like I was peeing on myself the entire time. After my doctor left, my nurse started pitocin through my IV. That’s when the action started! Within about fifteen minutes, I started having really strong contractions consistently about every minute or two. Things went from zero to sixty in almost no time. My nurse told me right away to let her know when I wanted my epidural since I knew going in that I was getting one. (I actually had an epidural during my kidney stone surgery since they couldn’t put me under because of the pregnancy. So, at least I knew it worked for me.) I was in pain immediately, but I thought I would wait it out a bit. To be honest, I didn’t really know what the “normal” epidural protocol was, but I didn’t feel like I should ask for one right away. “I can manage for a bit,” I thought. I dealt with the painful contractions for about three hours total before the epidural kicked in. I had requested one after about two hours, but it takes time to get the anesthesiologist to the room and get it going.  Matt left the room during that time to grab lunch, since he couldn’t be in there anyways.

Once the epidural kicked it, I was feeling much better. The nurse had me lie on my side with a “peanut” between my legs to help me progress. (The “peanut” is like a medicine or yoga ball, except peanut shaped.) I switched sides over the next few hours. This time was pretty uneventful. I desperately wanted water but settled for ice pellets. I asked Matt to sneak me a couple of pretzels. The nurse would periodically come in to check my progress. I was, indeed, progressing well.

Around 7pm, shortly after shift change, my new nurse was in the room. I embarrassingly told her, “Sorry this is TMI, but I really feel like I have to poop.” To which she exclaimed, “That means it’s time to push!” …Ummm…what?! Like, right now?! We’re going to start pushing right now? The nurse did another check and got a second opinion. I was ready. Brecken was ready. It was time to push.

I pushed during every contraction for about 1.5 hours total with Matt and my nurse by my side. (I had chest muscle soreness for a couple of days from pulling and holding myself up during each push.) To be honest, things became a bit of a blur towards the end. I recall that all of a sudden my doctor came in with a bunch of other people, lights came down from the ceiling and carts and tools came out of hidden storage closets in the massive TV console. My doctor immediately took over, and she meant business. She was instructing me to push and would make me start over if I took a breath. She wasn’t doing it in a mean way, rather a let’s-do-this way. At one point she yelled out, “I’m going to have to cut you because you are tearing.” That freaked me out quite a bit, but I didn’t feel anything thanks to the epidural. After a few more pushes she yelled out, “He’s coming! Here he comes! Push! Push! Push! Here he comes!” I then felt the biggest release (gush, really) of pressure and fluid as our son Brecken was pulled out. At that exact moment, I let out a loud, deep cry of relief. Matt vividly recalls me crying out because even he could sense my amazement, relief and joy all in that moment. She held Brecken up briefly and then passed him to a nurse. Brecken arrived only fifteen minutes after my doctor had entered the room. Thankfully, my placenta followed with one additional push. Shortly after Brecken’s arrival, I became very light-headed and felt like I couldn’t breath, so I was put on oxygen immediately. I think it was all just very overwhelming.

While the nurses took care of Brecken and gathered his Apgar scores, I had to be stitched up. It took about forty minutes for me to get stitched up in two different places. It felt like a lifetime. Again, I was very grateful that I could only feel the pressure and not the pain. At some point while this was happening, I asked how much he weighed. I was so curious because he kept measuring so big. A nurse also brought him over for a quick minute so that I could see him. I asked for water and Sprite immediately because I hadn’t been able to drink anything all day; I was so parched. I quickly guzzled both down.

Once my doctor was done, I was able to hold Brecken. Our son. I was going to hold our son. After finally becoming pregnant through IVF, I managed to grow this beautiful being inside of me, and now I was about to hold him. A nurse put his tiny body on my chest, and I wrapped my arms around him and kissed his sweet forehead. He was already trying to lift his little head. He looked up at me, and it was love at first sight. He was perfect. Better than anything I could have imagined in my wildest dreams. Our life as a family of three had just begun.

August 28, 2017 — 9:04pm

7 lbs. 11 oz. — 21″

Welcome!

Thanks for stopping by! I’m just getting started, but I hope to grow this space into a collection of my experiences and love for life and motherhood. Should you have questions, comments, suggestions or the like, please feel free to contact me!

Everyone has to start somewhere, right?

xo, Jennifer

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