Monday, November 20, 2017

Must-Haves for First Time Moms

Before becoming a mom, I really didn't know what I needed. I had friends who were super helpful and gave me suggestions, but I never truly understood what I would actually need and use. It can be extremely overwhelming until you actually have your baby and begin to understand and know what works and what you will actually need. I've compiled my list of must-haves for First-time mommies that I've found to be the most helpful.

Boppy ] (or Brest Friend) - I've only tried the Boppy but it has been the BEST and one of the most-used items. I have used it to not only breastfeed, but my husband has even used it to hold our baby girl. I also use it to prop her up and for tummy time.  I love how it has so many uses! I've brought it on vacations with us too because I love it so much and has been a real lifesaver to help hold baby up! (Who knew they could be so heavy?!) I have gotten SO much use out of our Boppy and have nothing but good things to say about it.

I personally have not tried the "brest friend," and it looks great for solely breastfeeding. However, I liked that there's multiple uses for the Boppy, whereas the Brest Friend only has one use.

[ Dr. Browns Bottles ] I knew I wanted to breastfeed, but also wanted to pump which means I would need the perfect bottles to feed little miss. However, with so many bottles out there, how was I to know what to choose from? It's super overwhelming and no matter how many baby shows I went to, nothing would prepare me for what was to come. My BFF recommended Dr. Browns bottles because they help minimize air while the baby eats which minimizes gas. No one wants a fussy, uncomfortable baby. Yes babies all will have gas, but if I could minimize their discomfort, I will. These have been a lifesaver for us. (Plus they come in pink!) These bottles also help so she doesn't drink so fast. I noticed with other babies, they end up drinking out of different bottles too fast and end up throwing it up or choking often while eating.

And, if you plan on feeding or supplementing your little one with formula, I suggest getting these bottle caps so you can shake up your formula + water mixture. (The Dr. Brown bottle sets don't come with them.) They are also great to be used to store your breastmilk in your Dr. Browns bottles in the fridge.

And If you use bottles, I have found this Munchkin bottle brush with nipple brush to be my favorite because of it's nipple brush. It works a lot better than any of the others I've tried and cleans it really good.

[ Boon Lawn Drying Rack & Accessories ] I knew I wanted a separated drying rack for my baby items. Including bottles, bottle parts, nipples, pacifiers, etc. I didn't want to mix all my babies items with our regular pots and pans and this has been the best drying rack! It allows your bottles to completely dry and air out with the fake grass feature whereas if you were to set them upside down on a flat surface they wouldn't completely air out. I didn't realize the real need for the twig and flower accessories until I used them to air and stack the bottle caps, nipples and pacifiers.
[ Baby Swaddle- Halo Sleep Sack ] I notice when I swaddle my baby at bedtime, that she is more content and sleeps better through the night. But nothing is more frustrating than her little arms breaking free (no matter how tight I try to wrap her.) I also got nervous that she would suffocate if she kept breaking free from her swaddle blanket and it would cover her face. Since using the sleep sack, I have had peace of mind. {They also double as her pajamas. Win-Win! With one less step!)

[ Baby Swing/Rocker ] I do not have a specific brand recommendation for this one. Honestly pretty much any battery operated swing will be a lifesaver! I use the Graco Everyday Soother and love it! I can't tell you how many times she's dozed off, and I needed to finish dishes and have set her in her swing for an hour or so before her next feeding. To be able to get something done around the house or just to be able to get some things done provides some stress relief-- And she loves it too! I also love that it doubles as a removable rocker for use throughout our home. (I bring it upstairs when I need to get some of my Etsy orders done!)

[ Carseat/Stroller Combo ] Okay, pretty much everyone with a baby on the way needs a carseat.. I know that's an obvious one, but I can tell you what I didn't think about. An infant car seat and stroller combo. (Luckily Ellen Degeneres did that research for us!) It would be a chore to wake a sleeping baby overtime you wanted to take her out of her carseat to her stroller, then back out of the stroller to her carseat. So having a carseat that hooks and attached directly onto your stroller will seriously be a game changer. I don't have any direct recommendations as we were gifted one so I didn't have to research which brand I would like best. So definitely get out there and see them in the stores, see what works best for you and your budget (or add to your baby registry!) Some strollers are easier to use than others so you will want to see what you like best!

I also recommend getting a lightweight travel stroller when you don't want to lug around or travel with a heavy stroller. We've used ours twice already traveling to see my husbands parents. This GB Pockit Stroller is one of my favorites and can fit in a small bag to carryon a plane!

[ Nose Frida ] Ok so this one sounds super gross, but has worked amazing for us! I honestly didn't think I would need this as the hospital provides a pretty great "sucker" for suctioning baby snot, until our little girl became congested. The Nose Frida really got those suckers a million times better than any other suction. Its one of those things you don't think you need, until you need it. And let me tell you, heading to the store is a huge chore with a baby, and all you want to do is provide your little one some relief when they have a stuffy nose. Luckily, Amazon came to the rescue and delivered ours that same day! Otherwise I'd have one miserable stuffy nose baby.

[ Pack'n'Play ] Depending on the layout of your home (and your preference), this may be a game changer for you as it was for us. I live in a two story house, with our nursery on the 2nd level of our home. We spend most of our time downstairs and it's a chore to carry our baby upstairs for diaper changes and afternoon naps. So having our Pack'n'Play in our living room has been great for us and we use it every day. They make different versions of them with different variations, but the one we have has a changing pad, as well as a napper that has vibration and sound and can also be used as a playard. With the amount of diapers you'll be changing, you may want to consider putting one of these on your baby registry. 

Hoping these suggestions come in handy for you! Knowing what I do now, I wouldn't have registered for a lot of items that we rarely use or don't find to be necessary. (Like a wipe warmer, and baby shoes.)

What are some things you've found to be life-changing with your little one?

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Our Birth Story

I've been wanting to write about my birth story since our sweet girl was born and finally found some time between changing diapers, feeding and snuggles. As of today, our little girl is 6 weeks old! Where did the time go? I keep trying to figure that out myself. 
Monday, October 2, 2017 was my due date and when that came and gone, I started wondering how soon she would make her appearance.  I had a Dr. appointment on that date, and the Dr. scheduled an induction date for the following Saturday if she didn't decide to come by then. I hadn't had any braxton hicks my entire pregnancy-- at least none that I was aware of, so I really didn't know what to expect. Around 3 AM on October 3 I started feeling contractions. We called the Hospital and told them my contractions were between 8-10 minutes (normally they have you come in when they are between 3-5). The lady on the phone told us to come in. I wasn't super miserable and wanted to wash my hair, so I hopped in the shower and started getting ready. We dropped the dogs off at my parents on the way to the hospital. I remember giving my parents a big hug and they wished me good luck and told me to let them know whether to come in or not. When we got to the Hospital around 3:30 AM we checked in and waited for the midwife to come in.  They hooked me up to some monitors to track my blood pressure and monitor any contractions I was having.  Of course my contractions started getting further apart and were no longer 8-10 minutes, they were more scattered and the range was between 8-20 minutes. The midwife came in and checked me and I was only measuring 4cm. She told me she was going to have me walk around for two hours to see if I progressed. She was wondering why they had me come in since I was only having contractions evert 8-10 minutes, but I guess the lady on the phone had it marked that I was measuring 3-5 minutes. 

So there I was, walking around the quiet hospital around 4:30 AM in the most attractive hospital socks.     (Photo below)  It was dark outside, and I felt like a huge pregnant exhausted ghost wandering the hospital halls. For the first hour we walked back and forth on the Third level (which is where labor & delivery is), but my husband wanted to grab a coffee so we went downstairs to where they have the cafeteria. We knew they didn't open until 7am, but they have a few convenient vending machines. Some with food, some with beverages and a coffee machine. He made a fun coffee and we went back upstairs. I am so glad that it was the time that it was in the morning because I couldn't imagine having to walk the halls when the hospital and Dr. offices had patients. That would have been so embarrassing! Once the two hours passed we went back to eh waiting room and I remember this older lady kept talking to me. I was so miserable I don't even know if I responded or just nodded my head. I was in no mood to talk. Once we got to the room and waited for the midwife to come in and check me. They hooked me up to the monitors again and we waited. Unfortunately I had not progressed so they sent me home. It was super disappointing and I was so exhausted and uncomfortable. I could tell the midwife, Hillary, felt bad that she had to send me home.

We went home to what seemed like the longest day of my life. We actually went to my parents house with the dogs because we figured we would be going to the hospital that day. Wednesday, October 4th my contractions were stronger the entire day but they told us not to call in until they were 3-5 minutes apart. I had a contraction timer on my phone that I used and had to give it to my husband to start the timer for me because I was in so much pain and was trying to control my breathing when I was having a contraction.  My mom made me some soup and crackers because nothing sounded good, but I knew I needed to eat something. I tried resting all day but of course was waken up when I went through a contraction.  They were scattered between 17-25 minutes but the pain was worse than the day before. We ordered Mimi's Cafe takeout and I remember getting a french onion soup and cobb salad with a buttermilk spice muffin. I know those details aren't super important but I remember that being my last meal. Throughout that day my husband called the hospital 5 times to see if we should come in, because my contractions were closer together and I was in terrible pain, but they told us to stay home.  My husband went to bed around 10PM, and I stayed downstairs and watched TV and tried to sleep in between my contractions.  All night they were happening and they were closer together but still not between 3-5 minutes. My mom stayed downstairs with me and kept asking if she needed to get my husband up but I told her no because my contractions still were far apart but my body was naturally pushing which was kind of scary. 

The morning of Thursday, October 5th (I want to say it was around 8 AM) my husband decided it was time for us to go in. He called to not ask them if we should come in, but to tell them we were on our way. (And thank goodness he did!) I hopped in the shower because I felt like I had been sweaty all night from being miserable, and felt pushing while I was showering so I hurried.  The whole ride to the hospital I was having contractions and my body was pushing. I could have had her in the car on the way there. When we got there, it felt like the longest wait in the waiting room and the check in lady didn't seem to care or check us in right away. There were other people waiting who seemed perfectly fine and comfortable and they took them in right away. I felt like I was waiting for 20 minutes. Finally, the lady decided to check me in, and I couldn't even focus because I was bending over while having a contraction. Once it passed, I was able to check in. She finally took us back to a room where they hooked me up to monitors and waited for the midwife to come in.  Once she did, she checked me and I was measuring 10 cm. She was asking us why we didn't come in sooner. We had told her we kept calling and they told us not to come in.  Figures, right?  She was shocked I had been laboring that long and was able to manage the pain. The first thing I asked was if I could still get an epidural. She said "We will see what we can do." They wheeled me to a room to hook me up to those monitors and to get everything started. The anesthesiologist came in about 15 minutes later and tried to talk me out of an epidural saying it might delay having our baby and that I already went through the worst part, but all I wanted was to manage the pain. He double checked with the midwife to see if it was still ok to have the epidural and she told them to let me have it. (Thank goodness-- it was the most scary thing wondering if I was going to be able to get it, because that was the ONE thing I knew I wanted.)

They asked if my water broke and it hadn't. I guess they don't recommend getting epidurals if your water breaks. (I also had something come out when I first got to the room-- I'm not sure if it was part of the amniotic sack or what, but my husband said it looked like a glove and the original nurse was really interested in it and had never seen that happen. But they didn't seem alarmed so that was a good sign!) The anesthesiologist had me sit up on the side of the bed and bend over for him to get the epidural in. Once I sat up my water broke but I didn't want to say anything. My husband mentioned it but they still let me have it. I didn't even feel the first needle go in. It took him about 15 or so minutes to get everything in and complete. He gave me a button to use in case I needed for pain management. (I didn't end up needed more).  Once my legs started getting numb and I stopped feeling the pain of my contractions, I was so much happier. I still felt when I was getting a contraction because I felt the pressure without the pain.

The midwife came in to check on me around 10AM, and told me I could get some rest and sleep for an hour or so and they'd check back at 12. I talked with my husband and parents for a little bit and had them go through the drawers to see if there were any goodies we could take home. (HA!) I ended up sleeping for a little bit and they came in at noon to check on me.  The midwife gave me some pitocin and told me we would start pushing at 1 PM. They came in at 1, and started getting me set up, legs up and all. My parents were about to leave and my husband said," Then how are we going to get photos?" My mom was super excited to be in the room! We waited for a contraction to start pushing. Of course my first contraction didn't decide to come until 1:07. I started pushing and five pushes later she was out. At 1:14 PM, on Thursday October 5th our sweet baby girl Mackenzie Nicole was born. Weighing 7.7 lbs and 19.5 inches. She was put on my chest and had to be brought down a little because the umbilical cord was short. I didn't even really see her face for a while because I couldn't see her where she was placed on my chest so my mom showed me a photo of her face. Haha! My midwife then delivered the placenta, and I don't even remember that part because I was loving on my sweet girl. My husband got to cut the umbilical cord. It was so sweet he got to be a part of it. The midwife Hillary said I tore a little, I guess I was a 1 out of 3, so she sewed me up. My parents left the room and we began our family bonding time. Taking her measurements, weighing her, and getting a footprint. They took the epidural out and honestly, taking the tape off was the worst part. 

Before my epidural 

After my epidural

Dress from Dressed to Deliver

They wheeled me out and we began our journey to the recovery room we'd be staying in. We pressed the button where they play the lullaby music every time a mom and her baby are leaving labor and delivery. There really wasn't much rest from there on out. I had nurses coming in and out of the room checking on both me and the baby and taking my blood pressure, giving me medication, taking her temperature, doing hearing and seeing tests, taking her bloodwork, etc. When the nurse came in and told me she'd be in at 2 AM, my eyes got big and I knew I wasn't going to get much sleep. They sure were on schedule! 2 AM, 5 AM, etc.

The next morning (Friday, October 6th) we got a celebratory breakfast. My husbands parents came down, his brother, and a few of our friends. Then around eleven in the morning the pediatrician came in to check on Mackenzie. The nurses checked on me and went over a few details that are probably too TMI-- but to sum it up, they basically measured how much I was bleeding, showed me the process of healing my stitches, and showed me the witch hazel, and dermoplast and how it all worked. The lady came in to get Mackenzie birth certificate information filled out as well as her social security information. The nurses asked if I was ready to be discharged, and I said "Heck yes!" They began our process for discharge. They went over all the information, made sure I got my lactation consultant to reassure I was breastfeeding correctly and that she was latching. They went over paperwork, and any medication I needed. We were able to leave the hospital around 1PM with our new addition. When we got home, my mom met us with the dogs to see how they would react to a new baby. They love her and are super protected over her now! I think at first, they were a little unsure and sad they weren't getting all the attention, but once they realized she's here to stay, I think they fell in love.

I am so thankful for the amazing doctors, midwife and nurses. They took amazing care of us and were the nicest! I am lucky to have had a pretty "easy" birth experience. The labor was not easy, but once I got the epidural I can honestly say I enjoyed the rest. We are so lucky she is healthy, happy and growing!

Mackenzie had her first Dr. appointment when she was 3 days old. She did have a little bit of jaundice so we did have to have a nurse come to our home for three days and she wore a jaundice wrap at home. Poor girl had to be pricked on her heel every day but luckily she was improving and didn't have to be on it long. The last day she was being treated we had to evacuate our home due to the fires. Luckily, my parents live 10 minutes away and were not being evacuated so we had to stay with them a few days until they lifted the evacuations and we could head home.  It was pretty crazy considering we really didn't get to be at home with just us and our girl and enjoy it. Finally we did and our home was safe!  On Monday I'll be sharing some First-time Mom must haves that I have really gotten a lot of use out of and I think you will find them to be super helpful! 

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Pregnancy Story and The Stork OTC

When my husband and I first started trying for a baby, we didn't know how long the process would actually take.  We tried for a few years off and on and tried to plan around our already booked family vacations, and had no luck. Month after month I took ovulation tests and pregnancy tests and all were showing negative. I was still getting my normal periods, and when they were late by 1-2 days, I'd get excited, take a test, and then start my period the very next day. It was exhausting. I remember crying wondering if I was even capable of getting pregnant. It's a very scary and lonely feeling. Not knowing whether or not getting pregnant would ever happen for us.  Not to mention, thinking of what our next option might be and if we could afford it. All these years trying to prevent it from happening and when we are finally ready to start a family it doesn't happen as soon as we thought it would--like they teach you in high school and make you think the first time you have sex that you'll get pregnant--

I started purchasing tests that helped determine whether or not sperm count was high or low as well as tests that showed whether or not I was ovulating.  More than 90% of male infertility cases are due to low sperm counts or poor sperm quality. And the most common causes of female infertility includes problems with ovulation, damage to fallopian tubes or uterus, or problems with the cervix.

Test after test, day after day.

None of my ovulation tests were showing positive and I started thinking it may be my fault. I started wondering if stress was a factor since all the tests and hoping for positive results was starting to really stress me out. 

I decided it was time to back off for a little while and let nature take it's course, and we'd discuss other options if it came down to that.  

Luckily, January 18, 2017, on the day I was supposed to start my period, I chose to take a pregnancy test that came back positive. (You can read more about that in this post here.)
I cried for days because I was so excited. I almost didn't even believe it.  I had already started researching other alternative options and what our next step would be if we found out we were unable to have children. When researching, I was actually surprised there isn't much out there other than ovulation tests for those of us who are trying to conceive.  That's when I came across a less invasive at home option called the Stork OTC. Not only is it available without a prescription, but it is affordable as well. (Compared to the extensive fertility treatments from a Dr.) My medical insurance did not cover fertility treatments, so I knew that it was going to be an expensive journey if we had to take that route.

Stork OTC is an FDA cleared medical device that you can use in the comfort of your own home that helps aid in conceiving. No need for a Dr. here! They are located in the contraceptive aisle near the pregnancy tests and sanitary pads.

When researching, Stork OTC had the best ratings, a 20% success rate along with an affordable price. (Those fertility treatments from the Dr. are super expensive not to mention time consuming as you have to go back multiple times! Stork OTC is now available for only $59.99 at Target and CVS! As well as online.)  No prescription is required to purchase. So you can feel comfortable purchasing at your convenience.

The best part? You can do it in the comfort of your own home. No awkward Dr. appointments or painful use of needles and testing. With Stork OTC, there's just a few simple steps and you are on your way to getting better results that are painless. You can read more about how it works here

  1. Stork OTC is Now available for $59.99 at most retailers--available at Target, CVS and also available online at

Benefits of The Stork OTC:
  • Proven: Physician technique now available for use in the privacy of your own
  • Safe: FDA Approved. 
  • Natural: Drug-free product. No pills needed.
  • Non-invasive: No injections or surgery. 
  • Easy–to-Use: Condom-like in collection, tampon-like in delivery 
  • Cost-effective: Compared to fertility treatment options

I know a lot of moms have a hard time getting pregnant with their second child, so I will definitely be using Stork OTC if we have a hard time trying to conceive next time around.

If you are interested, Stork OTC is having a Twitter party coming up on October 19th at 8pm EST. We would LOVE for you to participate and use the hashtag  #TTCwithStorkOTC - You can learn more about it and ask any questions or concerns you may have.

This is a sponsored conversation from Mums the Word Network and The Stork OTC. All opinions (and the story) are my own.