“Ok, what should we have for dinner?” Possibly one of the most frustrating questions. After spending a long day working, sometimes figuring out what we are going to eat for dinner is one decision too many. It can be exhausting.
Sometimes I wish I just could snag someone else’s weekly dinner plan. I mean, our family isn’t the only family eating dinner. Why not take a page out of someone else’s book?
Here is what we had for a week of dinners:
Sunday– Steaks on the grill, baked potatoes with sour cream, blistered shishito peppers.
Ok guys, it has been exactly 9 years since we bought our house. 9 years ago today Matt went to a title company and signed a bazillion documents to become a homeowner at the age of 23. I still remember this night 9 years ago so vividly. We got takeout from Culver’s and sat in the living room floor since we had no furniture (where I am sitting as I write this except on a couch) and we talked about how wonderful life would be now that we owned a house.
And life has been wonderful since we became homeowners. Buying this house has been the best financial decision we have ever made. We bought this house after the real estate market had crashed so we have been lucky to have an incredibly low mortgage payment. This place holds so many memories. This is the house I moved into after Matt and I got married. Where we brought home Pancake. Where we found out that we would be parents. Where we brought home our three children. Where JR, Maxie, and Eloise said their first words, took their first steps, had their first laughs. Where Matt started his YouTube channel. Built a sawmill. Where we dug ditches in the rain for our patio. Where we ripped down walls and walls of wood paneling. Where Matt and I have had our biggest fights and our biggest laughs.
But this house is now too small for us. And it has been for almost 3 years. Three years ago we started to look for our forever house. A house on 10 plus acres. Acres that aren’t just a flat field or tillable land. Two stories. Three bedrooms on the top level. That is it. That is our “must have” list. After three LONG years, we had not put an offer on anything (minus one house in the first month).
Until this weekend. This weekend we found 20 wooded acres in Lino Lakes which would be perfect to build our forever house. It has woods. It has cleared areas. It is only 20 minutes to downtown St. Paul. It is located in the town with the most lenient ordinances for accessory structures we have ever seen. The mayor called me back in under a half hour when I called to get some information about the town (and he was quite nice). We put an offer on it. For the first time in three years, we finally had found a place worth moving to.
Today, on the anniversary of buying our current house, our first offer in three years was rejected. The buyers of the lot decided to accept another offer.
It hurt. The denial made me sad, of course. But honestly, it really just made me feel exhausted. Because there is no doubt that our house is too small for us. The boys literally share a bed. Eloise sleeps in a crib tucked away in a corner of our bedroom. Every corner of our basement is filled with stacked wood. The driveway has a freaking sawmill on it. We are trying so desperately to move. Yet, it feels like we are forever trapped in this tiny house that needs so many updates that we put off doing for three years because we were going to move.
So today, I let myself wallow a bit over the reality that we are going to live in our current house for the foreseeable future. But I also made myself play over the memory in my head this day 9 years ago. Right after we closed on this property. When Matt and I sat in this living room and dreamed of our future in this house as we ate Culver’s french fries. It’s been much longer than we both anticipated. But it’s been way richer and way happier than we could have ever imagined.
This July, we went on our first vacation as a family of five. My cousin on my dad’s side was getting married, and honestly, we do not see that side of the family much. Everyone lives far away, and now that we are older, people get busy. We have our own children, have careers, and family reunions with all the aunts, uncles, and cousins is no longer the go-to family vacation.
But with my cousin getting married, it was the perfect opportunity for my extended family to meet my children. Because outside of one uncle and aunt, no one had met any of my babies. So we decided that I would go back to maternity leave a week early so we could take a week off of work to spend a week in San Antonio, Texas–with the trip ending with the wedding.
When I told my parents our plans, they immediately asked if they could join. “Of course! We will never say no to extra sets of hands with the kids!” both Matt and I exclaimed.
Initially, the plan was to stay at a fellow content-creator’s house. The basement of the house could easily fit our family and the idea of not spending money on a hotel solidified our plans to stay a week. Already, the plane tickets were going to be a big pill to swallow. JR and Max were no longer free. And as a self-proclaimed cheap mama, I was not thrilled with the idea of buying 4 plane tickets. But I did. We got the tickets for the end of July through the beginning days of August, and waited for the trip to arrive.
Then, about two weeks before our trip, we got the bad news. We could no longer stay at the content-creator’s house. “Umm, what?!” I said to Matt when he broke the news. “That is the whole reason we decided to go down for a week! We wouldn’t have to pay for housing!” I cried. Matt just shrugged in his typical fashion. Of course he didn’t care as much. He wasn’t the one who would need to find us a new place to stay 9 days from now.
Most hotels were booked, and the ones that weren’t were ungodly expensive. I couldn’t stomach paying over $250.00 a night for just a simple room. So I went on Airbnb. had never rented a place through Airbnb, but I heard good things about it. Most people I knew had used it. Even my parents. But I was hesitant. Where you stay can really dictate the type of trip you have. I didn’t want to take a risk staying in a terrible place. But I also didn’t want to settle for mediocre. After some searching, I found the most perfect place to stay. Once I saw the pool and porch, I was basically already putting in my credit card information.
This place exceeded all our expectations! It is a 211 acre ranch property that is only about 15 minutes away from San Antonio. We got the benefits of the middle of nowhere while being so close to stores and things to do. The house was the perfect size for our family of five. The kitchen was big enough to cook meals while the boys played in the living room with the gigantic bucket of LEGOs that were in the closet.
The yard around the house is drop dead gorgeous. Every morning we ate breakfast tacos and donuts outside under a huge live oak tree. Pro tip: eat breakfast tacos for breakfast every single day. They are delicious and we have yet to find any taco that comes even close in Minnesota.
The property has two white horses that roam around that are friendly, and our toddlers got such joy petting and feeding them. Every morning, they would look out the window for the horses. And at night, my parents would sit with the kids, and Matt and I would walk around the property with a glass of wine, soaking in the sunset.
But you guys, the pool. It is amazing. The view. The water temperature. The pool toys. It’s just plain perfect. And the porch surrounding the pool is great for just relaxing and eating snacks before jumping back into the water.
We spent two full afternoons soaking up the sun and relaxing in the pool. With three little kids, it was perfect. We could still enjoy the Texas weather, have a gorgeous view, and not have to worry about carting them around or be concerned about them having a pre-nap melt down in public. We could simply walk back down to our house and put the kids to nap. If they were hungry, we would sit on the porch and eat snacks. It was wonderful.
And when we weren’t spending the day at the pool, we spent the day at the beach on Canyon Lake. There are a couple of different beaches at Canyon Lake, and we found this beach that was hidden below a huge cliff–Canyon Overlook Park The climb down to the beach was a bit challenging holding a little baby. But it was completely worth it!
It is a pebble beach so make sure to wear secure sandals. It not only helps with the climb, but helps with walking around once you get to the beach. The water is such a clear blue. It goes on forever. If possible, bring some shade with you (ie: umbrella or tent). The are no trees down on the actual beach and the Texas sun is strong.
It was such a wonderful trip and a great first vacation as a family of five. While we were initially disappointed that our place to stay fell through, the place we ended up staying at made our trip such a success!
And sure, we did not do any of the typical San Antonio site. No Riverwalk. No Alamo. But it was exactly the kind of vacation that fit our young family. I cannot recommend it enough!
Last month my little Maxie turned three! Which I have not entirely processed yet. Because it simply cannot be true that three years ago I bought my squishy Max home. Just like every quintessential parent says, time is cruel and it all goes by too fast.
I was reliving the day my littlest boy was born and realized I had never published a birth post! Middle child problems!! So in celebration of my boy’s third birthday, I am sharing my littlest boy’s birth story.
I left work on December 14th a little too cocky. “I’ll see you guys tomorrow” I said as I turned off my office light. There was no doubt in my mind that on Wednesday morning, I would find myself sitting in front of my work computer, answering emails and working on briefs. JR was 12 days late. If I learned anything from JR’s birth, it was that due dates meant nothing. It didn’t matter that my due date was tomorrow. There was simply no way this baby was going to be born yet.
We didn’t have a special dinner or do anything really out of the ordinary. I gave JR a bath, put him in his doggie pajamas, and read him a book before bed. JR was his typically hyper self. Running around in the crib, singing, and laughing. By 9:00, he was asleep.
I made my way to the TV room and turned on a show. Within a half hour, I heard a large pop and it felt like I had peed myself. My heart immediately began to race. “Oh I am not looking forward to labor.” I reached down for my phone, but it wasn’t there. My hands were shaking. I hadn’t felt one contraction yet, but my anxiety of what was to come was climbing with every second.
“Where is my phone?” I got up, frantically looked under the couch, under the side table, no where to be found. I yelled to Matt. “My water broke, and I can’t find my phone!” My eyes were wild. “I need my phone! How can I tell Micah that she needs to get ready to come! We have to call the birth center! We have to call the doula!”
Matt put his arms around me. “Go take a shower. I’ll find your phone.” I got into the shower and let the water fall over me. It waited for the hot water to calm me. It didn’t come. I got out. Laid down in bed and closed my eyes. I still felt no contractions, but I knew what was coming. It was just a matter of time.
2 hours went by. I woke up to a cramp. Ugh. My lower stomach twisted. What the hell?! I had forgotten this is what labor felt like. I remained in bed and kicked my legs in frustration. It did not help.
I left the bed and went to the living room. I paced. It did not help. I was annoyed. Matt was sleeping. My stomach was exploding. BECAUSE OF HIM. Ok, me too. But whatever. It’s his fault. I walked back to the bedroom and threw a pillow at him.
“What?!” Matt said dreamily.
“I have contractions,” I said. Matt bolted up. He followed me to the tv room. I paced from one side to another.
“Do you want to watch Bones?” Matt asked. The two of us had been watching Bones together. It was show we could relax and turn off our minds. I shook my head no. For some unknown reason, I did not want to be distracted. These contractions were a bitch. And each one demanded my full attention.
I moved to my knees, with my forearms on our chair. Matt grabbed the scarf that he used to raboozo me during JR”s labor and wrapped it around my belly. He tossed his phone with the contraction app on the chair and I would click when my contraction started. When I clicked start, Matt would start to raboozeo. Two hours went by. It felt like forever. “Why the hell did I decide to do this again? I am a moron! Why did I think I needed another natural birth?”
Suddenly, the pressure felt so much more intense. “Matt, call Micah. Tell her to come now.” Yes, it felt weird to be able to speak. It didn’t seem like it was ‘the time’ yet. I couldn’t say a word when I was in labor with JR. Yet,here I am, speaking. Obviously, we had time. I wasn’t truly in labor yet. But still. I should be safe. Micah (our nanny) should get here. Just in case.
Only a minute or two went by. But then my stomach turned. OMG THIS IS INSANE. THIS BABY IS GOING TO FALL OUT. “F…..CALL MICAH NOW!” I yelled. I waddled into the kitchen. I toss my phone on the counter, and I pushed the recall button. I called Micah again. Why wasn’t she here already?! Matt was running around. Tossing bags into the truck. Grabbing a jacket for me. I rocked back and forth.
A huge wave of contraction came. It felt like a strong twist on my lower stomach. There was pressure on my butt. Fu—-k. It left like the baby was crowning. “Matt, I am pushing!” I was leaning against the counter. I WAS pushing. It felt good to push. But holy shit. I AM IN MY KITCHEN. WHERE IS THE NANNY? WE CANT LEAVE JR ALONE!
“We need to go now!” Matt yelled. I violently shock my head. “Get the car seat in the car!” I grunted. My stomach ached. MOTHER OF GOD! THESE CONTRACTIONS. But I can not leave JR. He’s my baby. I can’t leave him alone.
“NO! GET IN THE CAR. Micah will be here soon. GET IN THE CAR!” Matt urged.
I dialed Micah again. My voice ached. “How close are you!” I could barely get the words out. “Five minutes” Micah said.
I looked at Matt in terror. This baby was coming. I did not have 5 minutes. “Get in the car!” Matt said. I growled angrily and moved to the door. “Call us the second you get to our house. We have to leave now!” Matt said to Micah. I walked out the front door. Leaving my baby boy. Matt locked the door behind me.
I climbed into the truck. Matt jumped into the car and gunned it out the driveway. The contractions were strong. I put on my seatbeat, but fu–k, it felt too restrictive. Matt immediately started to drive 2o mph over the speed limit.
Halfway there, I started to panic. “Matt, I AM PUSHING!” I yelled. And I was. It felt good to push. As I pushed, it felt like the baby’s head was crowning. I wasn’t truly sitting in my seat. I was basically standing, while wearing my seat belt, with my hand firm on Matt’s thigh. Matt was going 90 mph in a 55 mph. We rounded on to the side street that would lead us to the Minnesota Birth Center. We reached the first set of lights. Red lights. My eyes widened. Nope. I am PUSHING. THIS BABY IS FALLING OUT. MOTHER OF GOD I WILL NOT HAVE A BABY IN THE CAR. DRIVE FASTER. JESUS CHRIST. I AM GOING TO HAVE A BABY IN THE CAR. Matt drove faster. He ran the light. The speed limit was 40 mph. Matt remained a steady speed. I felt taken care of. But oh my goodness. The pressure was so intense.
“Hurry! Hurry! Hurry!” I whispered. I couldn’t truly capture what I was feeling. But I felt the urge to say something. Even if it was at a whisper. Matt pulled into the driveway of the Minnesota Birth Center. The car sped into the parking spot. Matt slammed on the brakes, put the car in park, and jumped out the car. He opened my car door, and presumably I walked out. I have no memory of this. The next thing I knew, I was in the Minnesota Birth Center. Watching the water of the birth tub rising.
The midwife placed her stethoscope on my belly, confirming that the baby had a strong heartbeat and giving me the green light to get into the birthing tub. The midwife helped me into the tub, and I lowered my body into the water. The water felt warm and familiar. After the stress of driving here, I finally felt at ease. All I wanted was to get into the tub because getting in the tub meant pushing this baby out, which means my stomach will no longer feel like it is being twisted like a wet dishrag.
As I settled into the tub, the midwife and Matt looked at one another. The clear water had turned deep red. “You are bleeding too much. We cannot have you in this tub. We need to get you out right away. Please take our hands so we can help you out without slipping.” the midwife said. The fact that there was so much blood did not register with me. All I heard was that I could not give birth in a tub. The only place I had ever given birth before. The thought of giving birth on a bed, outside the soothing comfort of water, seemed insane. But I did as I was told. I slowly climbed out of the tub.
The midwife showed me to the large queen sized bed. I climbed on and placed my forearms on a big green birthing ball, trying to remain calm. Matt stood at my side, off the bed. The midwife placed a warm, wet washcloth on my crotch and calmly said, “when you feel the contraction, push through it.” I nodded. But honestly, since making my way to the bed, I didn’t feel anything contractions. It was as if my body had pushed pause on the labor. I wasn’t in the water, and I don’t give birth anywhere but the water. Instead, I felt out of it. Kneeling on the bed, on all fours, like a barn animal. Without the water around me, I felt exposed.
Finally a contraction came. It felt terrible and wonderful at the same time. As the contraction built up, I pushed. I buried my head into the birthing ball and pushed harder than I thought I could. “There’s the head!” the midwife said calmly. “Now just one more good push, Lindsay. You got this.” Her voice remained steady and low. I didn’t feel a contraction but I didn’t care. The pressure of the baby’s head was too much to bare. I pushed, and suddenly felt a wave of relief. The baby was out. It started to cry, and I rushed to move off my hands and knees to grab my baby. As I moved, I pulled the baby with me. The midwife quickly intervened, assisting me to a sitting position and bringing my little baby to my chest. My little baby boy. My little Maxie. I wrapped my arms around him, kissing the top of his head, and felt a strong wave of emotion fall over me. My perfect little boy was finally here. 8 pounds, 1 ounce. So much hair.
And as for all the blood, the midwife never had a concrete explanation for it. They were worried my placenta had ruptured, but it didn’t. If Max hadn’t been born basically 10 minutes after we got to the birth center, they were planning to send me to a hospital due to all the blood. But Max wouldn’t have that.
He’s still my biggest mama’s boy ever. I am forever grateful he’s mine.
I was about 7 months pregnant with my first baby when I started to seriously think about the fact that I had to get this baby out of me. Of course, this baby had to come out at some point. But the idea of going into labor was terrifying. No one could tell me how my labor would be. No idea how long it would be. When it would start. How much would it hurt. Would there be back labor? The realization that so many things were out of my control was too much. So instead of dwelling on this things I couldn’t control, I decided to focus on the things I could.
1. Take a Birth Class // I signed Matt and me up for a 6 week natural childbirth class early on in my pregnancy. I had been reading random blogs about labor, but I am certain Matt had done zero research on childbirth. So by going to a weekly class together, we both were on the same page. We had an arsenal of copping mechanisms to try. We got to practice the labor management moves out (which felt sort of dumb but in hindsight, it was nice to have the practice). The hardest part of the class was watching the video of a woman giving birth. I had never seen someone give birth before. I don’t think I could ever be emotionally prepared to see an actual birth either. It shook me. As Matt and I drove home that night, I cried. It was probably the closest feeling I’ve had to a panic attack. But since Matt had seen the video too, he understood why I was so shook up. Anyway, after seeing that video, it was a big part of why I became so focused on controlling the remaining pieces of my upcoming labor that I could.
2. Get your nails done // I had no idea how disheveled I’d look after having a baby. But I knew that my nails would look good holding my brand new baby. Plus, getting a manicure and pedicure is wonderfully relaxing. After carrying a baby in your belly for 9 months, there’s no question you deserve a mani and pedi.
3. Buy labor clothes // Guys, I took such care in figuring out what I was going to wear while I was in labor, you’d like I was picking out an outfit for the Oscars. I spent an embarrassing amount of time online shopping for labor clothes. After hours and hours of window shopping, I ended up buying a floral robe off Etsy. I bought a bunch of new underwear so when I finally did go into labor, I had a fresh pair of undies (even though I knew the joys of labor would destroy them). It was nice to have brand new clothes to wear and to not have the whole “what should I wear” debate in your own head.
4. Get waxed // This may not be for everyone but…there is no question that there are going to be a lot of eyes down there when you have a baby. I am 100% certain that the midwives/doctors and nurses have seen it all so if you did nothing, it’s fine. But I didn’t get waxed for anyone but me. I wanted it to be all neat down there. I knew that the weeks following the baby would include quite a bit of care of my lower parts–using a peri bottle, spitz baths, witch hazel sprays. You have to take care of your vagina on top of your baby. Being waxed before the baby arrived made me feel like I was already take a step towards my own personal care.
5. Get a new haircut and dye // What is it about a fresh haircut and dye that makes you feel like a brand new woman? Ok, this is not a recommendation to get the quintessential mom haircut (at what age does everyone cut their hair short?) But having a new haircut and dye makes you feel lighter. I swear for the first couple of weeks post-hair cut, I am able to style my hair better. Plus your hair will pop in photos with your new baby. So it’s a win win.
And after all of this, I did feel a bit better about feeling out of control. If you are pregnancy or know someone who is, I highly recommend you knock at least a couple of these things off your to-do list before the baby arrives. Because when you really think about it, the to-do list before the baby arrives is just too baby-focused. Sure, the baby in your belly needs a lot of attention, but that momma building the baby is equally as important. And I know this list is basically just a pamper/spa day. But there should be no shame in wanting to take care of yourself and feeling your best when the baby does arrive. You are about to go through a challenge. Even the “easiest” labor is still tough and can leave you wiped. So grab yourself a pedicure as you prepare for the big day.
It was Monday morning, and I woke up at 3:30 a.m. with a contraction. It was strong. I twisted around in bed and tried not to wake Matt up. One, two, three. I imagined myself walking up a hill. When the contraction felt at its height, I made it to the top of the hill. As the contraction waned, I walked down the hill. It took about 40 seconds. Ok, not a minute but certainly not nothing. I drifted off back to sleep. Ugh, it’s back. I grabbed my phone and pushed the side button. 3:36 a.m. glowed back at me. Seriously? Only five minutes had passed. Ok, walk up that hill. Then again at 4:48. And 5:00. By the time it was 6:30, I was exhausted and confused. My water hadn’t broken. I had never had any contractions until my water broke so what was this? I was already two days past my due date so chalking these contractions up to Braxton Hicks seemed patently wrong. But this couldn’t be it, could it? I texted our doula to give her an update and made my way to the bathroom. The side of pants were a little damp. Not enough to consider my water broke. Or was it? I immediately started questioning myself. I mean, three hours of contractions, which had now mostly dissipated, maybe this was my water breaking. No matter what, I decided that I should work from home today. If those contractions worked themselves back up again, there was no way I could drive home. I got ready for the day of working in the basement so I just tossed on a fresh pair of yoga pants and made my way downstairs. Arg, maybe I should call the birth center just to be safe. I dialed the midwife on call line and asked to be seen in the mid-morning. The contractions. The damp pants. Two days overdue. Probably a good idea to go in.
Matt woke up and immediately said, “we are having a baby today!”
“I don’t know. I feel ok now.” I said. I didn’t want him to be disappointed. Still, I wanted him to be right. I wanted to have the baby today.
We grabbed breakfast at Panera and then made our way to the birth center for our 9:45 appointment. From my initial call to the appointment, I had no more than two contractions. They were minor. Yes, they were not comfortable. But since they were spaced out, having 20-40 seconds of pain was more annoying than anything else. It’s just a cruel joke to have this pain when I am two days overdue and it’s false labor.
The appointment was brief. The midwife confirmed that my water had not broke and instead broke some rather disappointing news: it is very common for third babies to be “tricky.” Having labor start and stop is common. Don’t get discouraged. You are near the finish line. But your labor may start up and stop again so get prepared for this. I left crabby and discouraged.
Beyond telling work that I had some contractions, which was why I was working from home, for most of the day, I didn’t tell anyone until late afternoon. Mostly, I didn’t want to give our family false hope that the baby would be born soon. Like me, they too were getting anxious for Toastie Three to arrive. With the sting of three hours of wasted contractions hanging over me, I couldn’t stomach fielding questions and comments about the entire situation. So I told everyone I was at work and fine. Neither were true.
I noticed that if I stayed sitting, I had no contractions. But when I stood up, my stomach would twist a bit. “Maybe that’s the secret. You have to start moving around to get the baby to get out,” Matt said to me. Maybe he was right. I put on my workout clothes and pulled out my pregnancy workout guide to week 40, day two and fit in a workout. No contractions, but it was nice to a solid workout in. At least I accomplished something with my body today.
My work day ended, and we ate dinner together like we always do. The boys were well-behaved and earned TV time, which meant Matt and I could watch the new episode of Shark Tank with no interruptions. It is a 40 minute show, and I had three contractions while we watched it. Ok, so these contractions are coming back. But is this another start stop false labor marathon? We started the bedtime routine and the contractions continued. Just like in the early morning, each contraction was 20-40 seconds long, coming every 5-10 minutes. They were strong enough to make me stop doing whatever I was doing and focus on walking up the hill. “Relax, your body knows what it is doing. This pain isn’t because something is wrong. It is a good sensation” I would tell myself as I walked up the hill.
I couldn’t help Matt get the boys to brush their teeth and into pajamas. Instead I paced from the living room to the dining room and back. Once they were ready for bed, I grabbed Max and took him to his crib. As I nursed him, a contraction came. I held him tight and waited for it to subside. My water still had not broken. This had to be this false start stop labor that the midwife had talked about, and I am not a fan. I laid Max down to bed, went to JR’s room to tell him “The Little Boy Story,” and then headed out to the TV room to relax. The contractions had started to die down again. I was frustrated and needed to unwind. I tossed on a mindless TV show.
It was 9:27, and I had only watched about 15 minutes of the show when I felt a gush of water. Holy hell, my water broke. For real. I immediately texted Matt, who was still in JR’s room waiting for him to fall completely asleep, “Water broke.” “Just like Max” he wrote back.
I texted our nanny and asked her to come right away. Then our doula. Just then, my mom sent a text saying, “Any stirrings?” Funny she should ask. Normally, I wouldn’t have told her until we were on our way to the birth center or if the baby was born. But her timing was impeccable. “My water just broke. I need to get stuff figured out. Talk later” I wrote back.
Matt came into the TV room and started to get bags packed for the drive over to the birth center. I paced back and forth, waiting for the midwife on call at the birth center to confirm that we could come in. It took 7 minutes for her to confirm that we could come in right away.
At 10:00 p.m., our nanny Zee showed up. Matt had already tossed all our bags into the car. I had barely left the TV room where my water had broke. I was too nervous. As I made my way to the kitchen to leave the house, I got a contraction. It was strong enough that I stopped moving and talking until it passed. We said goodbye to our boys and headed to the birth center.
The drive was quiet. With my boys, the drive was stressful. But now, I wasn’t freaking out that I was going to have a baby in the car (Max) or that the contractions were too strong and I was confined to a seat (JR). I felt fine. Almost foolish that we were leaving so early to get to the birth center. I had 4 contractions during the 20 minute drive but there weren’t that strong. I just squeezed Matt’s hand as he drove down the highway.
We pulled into the parking lot and to a dark building. We were the first ones to arrive. I texted the midwife, who said she was 5 minutes away. I started to get anxious. The birth center is in a neighborhood, and the neighbors had their lights on. I could see them staring at me from the window as I paced. I felt like I was on display, and it irked me. I had one contraction as we waited. It was stronger. More present. I leaned against the car, upset that we had beat everyone and that these random guys got to witness me labor from their window.
Finally, the midwife arrived and by 10:20, we were walking into the building. I had never been fully present when I walked into the birth center in labor before. With JR and Max, I was so focused on the labor itself that I truly have no memory of walking in. But this time, everything was so clear. Watching Matt hurry to bring in our bags. The tub starting to fill. The bed nicely made with clean, white sheets. I leaned up against the counter and stared at the clock right in front of me. It glowed 10:25. I pushed my shoes off and a contraction started to come. MOTHER OF GOD THIS IS TOO MUCH. Matt was on my left, petting my back while he unwound the scarf so he could rebozo my belly. He wrapped the scarf around my lower belly and began to rock it back and forth. Nope, it didn’t help. OMG TWISTING AND TIGHTNESS. The contraction wrapped around my lower belly. Firmly grabbing hold of stomach and twisting and turning it. The pain was unbearable. I told Matt to stop trying to rebozo. No use for him to waste his energy. It wasn’t doing anything. He tossed the scarf aside and told me that he was proud of me. That I was going a great job. I tried to get off my socks. To bend over was excruciating. I barely managed to toss them both off. I couldn’t imagine myself moving from this counter. But I wanted to get into that tub. I could hear the water running, and the midwife said it needed at least another 10 minutes. A second contraction came as the midwife rushed to pull out heating pads and pads to soak up blood. She placed a cuff around my arm so she could take my blood pressure. I twisted and curled as the contraction continued. Nope. There is no way I can survive another contraction like that. This baby is coming out now. I started to push as the contraction waned. A wave of relief washed over me. Pushing felt so good. As if I could control the rising pressure I felt.
I told the midwife to help me take off my pants and take me to the bed. Matt and the midwife complied, and I shuffled to the bed as fast as I could. The contraction was over, but another one would be coming. I did not want to be on the move when that happened. Plus, the pressure in my butt kept rising. I had to get on the bed so I could push this baby out. There was no way I was going to wait another 10 minutes so I could deliver in the tub.
Once on the bed, I felt misplaced. With Max’s birth, the midwife ran the show. She gave me a birthing ball and calmly coached me how to give birth on the bed. But now, the midwife was scrambling. She was still placing pads on the bed, getting things ready. We’d only been in the birth center for 5 minutes at this point, and she still had quite a bit to get out.
“I need a birthing ball,” I said. The midwife handled me a large, silver ball. It was too big.
“Does this work?” She asked.
“No, smaller.” I managed to get out. The pressure was building. I was in between contractions but I knew one would be coming soon. She ran out of the room and came back with a smaller ball. I placed my forearms on the ball. Not perfect but it would do.
“I need a hot towel.” I said. I knew I was being demanding but I didn’t care. For Max’s birth, I had the birthing ball and the hot towel that the midwife pressed against my crotch for perineal support. Those two tools were the things I needed for a birth on a bed.
The midwife grabbed a warm towel and found a place behind me. Matt was at my head with his hand on my shoulder. He rubbed my shoulder, whispering that I was doing a good job and he was so proud of me.
A contraction came, and I pushed. It felt so good to push. As the contraction waned, I continued to push. “If you push a little longer, it’ll be worth it” I told myself. I let out a sigh as a pushed longer and felt a wave of pressure release from me. My baby was out.
The next thing I knew, I was moving myself from my knees to my butt, craning my neck to see if I had a girl or a boy. I swear I could see a vagina, but I didn’t want to be wrong. The midwife eased me to a seated position and handed the baby to me. I took a second look.
“Oh my God, it’s a girl!” I cried.
I kissed my baby girl, still in disbelief. Matt came beside me to get a closer look at our baby girl. She was perfect. 10 fingers. 10 toes. A full head of hair. Everything we had prayed for. I pulled out a boob to feed her and she immediately latched. As we nursed, the midwife tended to my lower parts. She gave me a shot of Pitocin to help bring the uterus down. Then a second dose. I was still bleeding a lot. More than usual. I needed more medicine. Unfortunately, that meant that the midwife shoving four pills up my butt. That was not great. It wasn’t even the application of the pills that was the worst. It the fact that those four pills do not dissolve immediately. Instead, it feels like you have a finger up your butt for about a half hour. It’s not great.
Still, I was losing blood so there was no room to complain. I felt so cold. Colder than I ever felt. As if I was completely naked in ice cube. My bones felt like ice. An entire liter of blood left my body, and it felt as if the blood was replaced with ice water.
So much preparing for a baby focuses on the baby. Diapers, wipes, swings, baby clothes, bottles, baby blankets, strollers, car seats. There are so many list dedicated to the “must haves” when you are having a baby (I am not immune from this: I wrote one back in 2016). But preparing yourself for post-delivery seems to get forgotten. Sure, you literally grow a baby in your belly for 9 months, go through intense labor, and push that baby through your vagina or get a serious surgery to remove that baby (not to mention that after all of that, you then feed the baby you just made). Your body does all of that. Yet, we put all the focus on the baby.
So much so that when I got pregnant, I knew basically nothing about post-partum care for myself. You guys, I didn’t even realize that you had to birth the placenta after you birth the baby! Sure, now it seems so obvious. But when my natural birthing class brought it up, my eyes widened, I sat straight up, and was speechless. Then I learned that I would become very familiar with a peri bottle and that tearing was very common. I quickly realized how clueless I really was and got upset about how much of my future care was a completely mystery to me. Seriously, I knew next to nothing. When I came home from the birth center with JR, the first thing I did was ask my mom to go to the store to buy me Depends. Because I didn’t realize that I’d be bleeding for weeks after giving birth. No one had really talked about the raw details with me. I took a birth class. I saw a midwife my entire pregnancy. But the post-partum care of me was just never really a focal point of the conversation.
After I gave birth to JR, I made a list of “must have” things for mom. I shared the list with pregnant friends. Bought them items off the list. Spilled the gory details of what happens to your body after you push a baby out of it. Because why tiptoe around this part of motherhood? Your body just accomplished something unbelievably remarkable. It needs some extra attention. And that’s ok. There is no reason why we should hide this part of motherhood.
Now with baby number three on the way, I feel incredibly more prepared than I ever have been to take care of my healing self. So here’s my list. After having JR and Max, these are the items that made such a difference in my post-partum care.
After having a baby, you are going to be taking A LOT of baths. A lot. At least once a day to soothe your swollen self. My husband was great about making sure I got at least one, if not two, baths a day and wanted to make sure I was as comfortable as possible so he got me a bath pillow. Having a bath pillow was wonderful. I have never been a bath person so I wasn’t really into the idea of sitting in a bath each day. The pillow allowed me to relax and spend more time in soaking than I otherwise would have, which helped speed along my recovery. I have the Airia Luxury Quick Dry Bath Pillow. I took off the cover so its just mesh. This way the pillow dries faster, as the soft cover is akin to a towel that holds moisture.
2. Extra Soft Bath Towels
There’s no way to sugar coat this: when you first start nursing, your nipples are raw. I will never forget the first time I got out of the shower after having JR and wrapping my towel around my body. Holy hell, my nipples were pissed. The towel was far too rough for my super sensitive nipples. After that eye-opening experience, I got myself the softest towel I could get my nipples on 😉 It was a game changer. I no longer cringed when I got out of the bath to towel off. Do yourself a favor and pick up the softest, nicest towel you can find.
After pushing a baby out of your vagina, it is swollen. You may have teared and have stitches. Witch hazel can provide some relief down there to smooth your sore muscles. These Tucks pads are incredibly thin pads soaked in witch hazel that help alleviate your swollen self. The fact that the pads are so thin made them less irritating since they really didn’t move once you placed them on. Something to note, the witch hazel has a cooling sensation that either makes you feel better or bothers you, depending on where your stitches are. On certain days, I couldn’t handle Tucks. Other days, they were a life saver. Which is a great metaphor for motherhood. Sometimes what you do works, and sometimes it doesn’t. And Lord knows I haven’t cracked the secret of why. It just is the way it works.
Another surprise for me was that you should not use toilet paper after peeing for a couple weeks after giving birth. Of course, after I had JR, I got it. No way would I let toilet paper near me. The birth center gave me a pedi bottle to use after I peed, but I wanted just a little bit more to feel extra clean. So after using the pedi bottle, I sprayed this Sitz Bath Spray from Motherlove. It has witch hazel in it, which helps soothe and heal your sore perineal muscles. Since the spray is just a light mist, the cooling sensation is considerably less than the Tucks pads. For me, the spray made me feeling like I was “extra clean” verse providing me relief from soreness. Plus, on days when the Tucks pads were too much, I was still providing relief to taper the swollenness.
5. Stool Softener
I am not sure about anyone else, but I swear to God, JR came out of my butt. The pain and pressure associated with pushing him out was so intense that the only sensation I could relate it to was pushing a bowling ball out your butt. So the last thing you want to do is push anything else out “down there.” With this in mind, most birth centers and hospitals recommend that new moms take a stool softener to help with your first double potty (ok, poop. There, I said it. Ugh, I hate that word). Because, you know, softer potty, less pushing. And after pushing a bowling ball out of your butt, I think that buys you a free pass from pushing anything else out for a looong time.
You got to experience 9 months period free. It was lovely and glorious. To make up for that, you now will bleed for several weeks. Maybe just a couple days. Everyone is different. When my babies and I came home from the birth center, we were both wearing a diaper. And I decided to roll with it. Instead of wearing my underwear and pairing it with a bulky pad, I wore Depends. Honestly, I cannot recommend Depends over pads enough. Pads are huge, awkward, and move around as you move. Depends are disposable underwear that don’t have moveable parts so when you move, you don’t have a wad of cotton jabbing your already sore vagina. Depends are so easy to change, and I didn’t have to worry about leaking and ruining a pair of underwear. Plus, then you and the baby get to match since you’re both in diapers #mommyandme 😉
If you plan to nurse, nipple cream is your friend. No matter how much positive thinking and vibes you put out in the world, the first week or so of breastfeeding is generally uncomfortable. Your nipples are not use to a baby sucking on them 12 plus hours a day. Some babies aren’t pros at latching right off the bat. If you are like me, your nipples will chap and bleed until your body gets accustomed to breastfeeding (which will happen! Within a week or so, you will not grit your teeth as your baby latches!). You will play through the pain, but you’ll make it to the other side so much more gracefully if you use nipple cream after you nurse. I lathered it on like chap stick between nursing, applying it no less than 10 plus times a day. Within a week or so, my nipples had adjusted, and the cream no longer had a prominent role in our nursing routine. But without it, nursing my babies the first week would have been so much harder.
Particularly for first time moms, it can take awhile for your milk supply to match your baby’s demand. While your body is learning to regulate how much milk it truly needs to make, you may make a bit too much milk and leak. Or after your body has the supply/demand down, anytime you hear a baby cry, your boobs may leak milk on cue, even if it isn’t your baby. Or if you are me, you leak milk when you get embarrassed or scared. Placing washable nursing pads in your bra helps mitigate milk soaking through your shirt. They do make disposable nursing pads, but I found them to be itchy. Washable ones were far more comfortable, as long as you arrange them right, and since we are doing almost a load of laundry every other day anyway, tossing nursing pads into the wash wasn’t a big deal for me. I got the Bamboobies Overnight ones, which are extra thick, for every day use. They have thinner ones as well, but I found the thick ones were more comfortable, and I worried less about leaking throughout the day.
Yes, more boobie stuff. I was very lucky when it came to breastfeeding. My mother had instilled in me from early on that my body just made a baby–of course it could make enough milk. Her constant reminders to me that making milk was the “easy” part became my mantra–I can do this. Having that mindset made me more relaxed about nursing because I unabashedly decided that no matter what, my body would make enough milk so no need to worry about that. Still, I didn’t go into nursing without setting myself up for success. I drank Mother’s Milk Tea religiously. Every morning, my husband would make me a bowl of oatmeal and a cup of Mother’s Milk Tea. By early afternoon, I’d usually be on my third cup of tea. If I ever got worried that maybe my milk supply was down, I’d gulp down some tea. I can’t honestly say if this tea truly affected my milk supply, but it surely affected my mental confidence that my body was properly fueled to make enough milk. That is good enough for me.
Also, I totally get that making milk is not easy for everyone. It can be a huge challenge and struggle for many. I was lucky to not have that struggle. Instead, my struggle is that my babies don’t sleep 😐
I lived in nursing bras for the first year of JR’s and Maxie’s lives. My entire wardrobe focused on whether I could “get a boob out,” which trickled down to my bra. When you are nursing an infant, you’ll be pulling your boob out every couple of hours, if not more. Wearing a traditional bra can be clumsy, and yanking the cup down time and time again could stretch out the bra. A nursing bra just streamlines the process of getting your boob free without ruining the bra. There are tons of beautiful and fancy nursing bras on the market. If that is your jam, get them. I grabbed a handful from Target that came in a pack of two, and they work just fine and are a good price point for me at $10.00 a bra. I’m on baby number three and still plan to use the same nursing bras since baby number one. I’d say I got my money’s worth on these bras.
Depending on the size of your boobs and/or your comfort, nursing camis in lieu of nursing bras are great. You could wear them together but I wear either the cami or the bra. Nursing camis have a little clip on each side of the top of the cami that pops down so you can easily free your boob and feed your baby. Similar to nursing bras, there are so many varieties and styles of nursing camis. I’ve only worn nursing camis from Target, and they have lasted me through two babies and are still in great shape for baby number three.
And that is how I survived my own post-partum care the first two times around. We’ll see if my body falls in line with baby number three or if some new items will be game changers. If you have any post-partum tips or tricks, please send them my way!
I am a working mother. It is something that I am deeply proud of. But it is also something that is deeply painful. Every weekday morning, I wake up earlier than I’d like so I have enough time to put my makeup on, curl my hair, and get dressed–all while making the boys breakfast, convincing the boys to use the potty, and breaking up fights on who gets to sit on the side of the sink that’s closer to mom. Most days, I am not as put together as I’d like. But that doesn’t bother me. What bothers me is that I leave behind two boys screaming for me to stay with them for just a couple more minutes. To hold them forever. It breaks my heart.
The boys spend their weekdays with our nanny. A wonderful woman who gets to shape and mold my boys. She gets to take them to story times. To the zoo. Museums. The three of them get to have inside jokes that I will never understand. There are entire story lines that I am not a part of. It creates a feeling of emptiness that is unquantifiable.
But I love working. I love being a lawyer. When I was in elementary school, I made the decision that I would be a lawyer someday. Actually, I wanted to be the first female United States President. The fact that a woman has never been elected as president has bothered me since as early as I can remember. So I figured, why not be the person to change it? And modern day presidents go to law school (present president excluded) so that’s what I did.
I get to spend my day working as a lawyer challenging myself–working through litigation strategy, finding pragmatic solutions, and providing advice to those who rely on my expertise. Sure, my days of dreaming for the presidency is behind me, but I still find myself in a male-dominated field where my gender has played a defining role in my career in ways my male colleagues will never understand. So I still get to work on defying gender stereotypes in a small way. And as a mother of two boys, it makes it easier to leave them every day knowing that my work may make a small difference in the future of how women are seen in the workforce, at least in their eyes. Certainly, someday in the future, if a female says she works at a law firm to one of my sons, the first question out of my boy’s mouth won’t be, “oh, are you a paralegal/secretary?”
In a similar vein, I want my boys to have life skills that traditionally wouldn’t be pressed upon little boys. My boys will know how to cook.
I’m not a great cook. I’m not even a good cook. But that really doesn’t matter. Teaching the boys to cook while I learn to cook means we get to spend quality time together. It is our thing. On Saturday or Sunday afternoons, I’ll look up a various recipe for us to experiment with. We’ll go to the grocery store to pick up the ingredients. JR will want to buy everything in the store. Max will want all the food to be touching him in the cart. We’ll head home and unpack the groceries. The boys will eat the entire carton of berries before they make it to the fridge. Then, the boys will pull up a stool to the counter, and we’ll start to cook.
Since the boys are still young, I cut and measure. They pour and stir.
Through our cooking adventures, the boys have s l o w l y learned to be better listeners. That we cannot rush through steps. That even though we want to toss in an extra cup of sugar, we probably shouldn’t. That they can make a meal for their loved ones, not in spite of the fact that they are boys, but because they love to cook.
I may not be there during the weekday to take the boys to story time. But I will be the person who will teach JR and Maxie how to make sugar cookies, pasta sauce, dice veggies, and delegate the duty of making rice to someone else (because I refuse to make rice). And hopefully, I’ll play a small part in teaching the boys that there is no such thing as a boy job or a girl job. There are just jobs. A mom can be a lawyer, and a dad can be in charge of cooking. And both are ok.
To round out our Italian adventure, we spent an extended weekend in Rome. When we began planning our trip to Italy, so many people said we HAD to go to Rome. A city rich with history, ruins, culture, and just 2 hours away from Positano. Since we can never guarantee that we will make our way back to Italy, we wanted to see as much as Italy without cheating our experience of each city. Tacking an extended weekend in Rome was exactly what we were looking for.
We booked our trip to Italy without knowing much more than cursory understanding of the culture. Pasta, wine, ocean views. What more did we need to know? Well, once we got there, a couple things kept coming up that both Matt and I would say–“Someone should tell you this before you get to Italy.” So here I am, doing just that 🙂
1. You can’t sit down for a meal at a restaurant at any time throughout the day. Restaurants are only open from 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. for lunch and 7:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. for dinner. Any decent restaurant will be closed in the mid-day and will not be open for dinner anytime before 7:00 p.m.
We didn’t know that. So we booked tours to see the sites from 11:00 to 2:00. This was a bad idea. We couldn’t eat lunch before the tour, and by the time the tour was finished and we figured out a good place to eat, we’d have about 15 minutes before the restaurant would close. We made it work, but it would have been nice to planned around this a bit better.
2. Be a little picky when selecting your restaurant. Great Italian restaurants don’t have pictures of food on their menus or translate their menus into other languages. Matt and I are anything but foodies. I do not have a refined palate and really like most everything. So any food in Italy sounded amazing. But there are some tips to get the best of the best.
If the menu has pictures of the food, consider finding another restaurant. Italians know what that dishes look like. They have been eating these meals for generations. If there are photos, this likely is not the restaurant the local Italians are going to time and time again. It is likely a tourist-focused (less authentic and delicious) restaurant. In that same vein, if the menu is translated in another language, it is probably not a local’s go-to restaurant. You want to eat where the locals eat. That’s where the best food is at.
Also, typically the restaurants near the big tourist attractions are not going to be where you find your best meals. The great, local Italian restaurant is probably going to a couple blocks away from the action.
3. You can make a lunch out of meats, cheeses, olives, and bread from the grocery store. The grocery stores in Italy are full of fruit and vegetables that are unbelievably fresh. Lemons are the size of your fist. You can pick up a baguette, some cold cuts, and fresh cheeses and make your own sandwich. The grocery stores have half bottles of wine that are perfect to split. And get the buffalo mozzarella cheese. It’s amazing.
Plus you can pick up food to try you over until dinner time if you are use to eating your dinner before 7:30 p.m. On our second day in Italy, we picked up a bottle of prosecco, olives, and some cheese at the local grocery store and had a midday snack. We saved a bit of money and kept the hangry Matt at bay 😉
4. Bring a water bottle to Rome. Rome has water fountains with drinkable water by all of the major site. Just toss your water bottle underneath and grab some cold water. So make sure to pack a cute water bottle with you or save a durable disposable bottle. There are people all over trying to sell you water bottles for a Euro. Don’t do it. Grab your own bottle and refill for free!
5. You have to pay to use public bathrooms. Yes, if you have to use the restroom, you better be at a restaurant or near your hotel because otherwise you’ll be paying about a Euro to use the bathroom. As someone who is thirsty most of the time, and drinks lots of water, planning was involved so that I wouldn’t spend our money on bathroom trips.
Even without knowing this information before we got there, our trip to Italy was amazing. It was beautiful, relaxing, and everything we hoped it would be. But if we had known these things before getting there, it would have made the trip a bit more seamless at times. Hopefully this will help you as you plan your trip to Italy!