One of my biggest concerns nearing the end of this pregnancy was Caleb and how he would adjust to having a sibling. I know it's normal, and I know kids become siblings every day, but I wanted the transition to be a smooth one. So we have did a few things to prepare Caleb and make sure he understood what was going on in his world.
The Big Introduction
Babies come on their own terms, so we had a Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C. We had mapped out who was going to be staying with Caleb at our home (which was really important to me so that his routine wasn't too disrupted), and how the daily routines would function. Since I was induced, we at least ended up knowing which day she would come and we were able to really prepare for that. We wanted to be sure that when Caleb came to meet her, it was just Eddie, Caleb, Chloe and I in the room (and our photographer, of course). It ended up working out where he was the first person to come in from the waiting room to meet her. Once they said visitors could come in, Eddie went to get him from the waiting room and walked in with him. He came in with the gift he had picked out for her and opened it up right away. We let him look at her and touch her feet. He wanted to carry her right away. We also had gifts for him from his sister.
And honestly, it was love at first sight. He was enthralled with her. So much so that he didn't want to leave the room. Our family members rotated in, but Caleb stayed with Chloe and I the whole time. Every single person who walked in, he introduced them to her, "This is my baby sister Chloe!" He went to school the following day armed with a photo of his baby sister and showed it off to everyone at school. I couldn't have hoped for a better reaction.
I can't tell you for sure which of the things we did to prepare Caleb to be a big brother really worked, or if he would have been as sweet with her if we hadn't done any of these things (it's very possible - because he has always been very sweet to babies in general). But I do know we talked a lot about his baby sister and about him being a big helper. And honestly, I think kids just want to be prepared, as much as we do. It's a life-altering event for them, too.
And then there were four.
I hope these help you in preparing your toddler to be a big brother or sister!
*This post is not meant to provide medical advice. It is simply a retelling of my own birth story.
First off, my apologies for not having posted recently! The last few weeks of pregnancy were so uncomfortable that I could not sit for extended periods in front of the computer, and the first two weeks of postpartum were full of healing, and sitting in front of the computer was also out of the question then. I did try to work on hubby's laptop, but really, with a baby attached to you basically 24/7, it's nearly impossible.
So let's get right to it. After much anticipation, our little Chloe is finally here! As I mentioned above, the last few weeks of pregnancy were very uncomfortable. Filled with aches and pains, false contractions, and increasing number of Braxton Hicks, and an order from doctors to "take it easy," the last 3-4 weeks were pretty tough. I was fairly certain that Chloe would make her appearance early, around weeks 37-38. But she had other plans. While she was making me very uncomfortable and kicking my ribs every chance she got, she was quite comfy in there.
Each week, when I visited my OB's office, they must have sensed my desperation. At week 39 on the nose, I went in and the doctor offered to do a cervical check. He said if I was dilating and effaced, then we could talk about inducing labor. We had already discussed it and all the doctors I saw agreed that I was a good candidate for it, because I had already had a successful vaginal delivery with Caleb (I was actually helped along during his labor, too). So when my cervical check revealed that I was, in fact, 2 cm dilated and over 70% effaced, the doctor asked if I'd like to be induced. Eddie answered for me and said, "Doc, if you told her to cross the street to the hospital right now, she wouldn't argue with you on it." I agreed, and we set the date for induction two days later, on February 28 (I would have done it the following day, but it was our wedding anniversary, and I wanted Chloe to have her own day). I also knew the possible risk of an induction ending in a c-section, but my doctors seemed confident that that would not be the case, so we went ahead with the decision.
So we took the next day to prepare everything, I finalized all the arrangements for Caleb's care, and since we had been told to be at the hospital before 7, tried to get to sleep early. On the morning of the scheduled induction, they called me at 5:00 am and told us to report to the hospital at 6:30. My dad picked Caleb up to take him to school, so we knew he was taken care of for the day, and we headed to the hospital. With Caleb, I did this whole process while having contractions, so this time it was much less stressful. After completing registration, we were on our way to our delivery room. Please note, after this, my timing is just guesstimates or cross-checking with my text messages and updates I was sending to my friends because I was a little busy!
This is when it started to feel real. I changed into my hospital gown and got in bed. After getting settled in and setting me up with an IV, they gave me a bag of fluids so I would be well-hydrated. After that the doctor came in to discuss the action plan with me and he guessed that we would have a baby around 5:15 pm. He explained that the first part of labor would be the longest, with the least strong contractions. Once I was dilated 5-6 cm, he said it would move quickly. He also promised me that I would only push for five minutes. Yes, you read that correctly. FIVE. I was very excited about that, but highly skeptical.
Once he left, just around 9 am, they started me on Pitocin. Pitocin mimics the oxytocin that your body creates during labor and makes your uterus contract, causing, you guessed it, contractions. At first he started me off really low on the dosage, and went increasing it little by little. He said his goal was to get my body started with as low of a dosage as he could.
Side note: One of the things that we decided after Caleb was born was that Eddie and I would be in the delivery room by ourselves (I mean, there are like 10 hospital staff people in there too, but as far as family goes). However, after capturing birth photos for a great family a few months into this pregnancy, I decided I really wanted some for myself. My friend Cary from Cary Diaz Photography graciously agreed to do these for me. I think she was as on edge as I was in the days leading up to the delivery, but being induced made the day of feel much smoother. You can read her account of the day here. She captured everything I wanted her to, and she did an amazing job of it. What I really wanted captured were the emotions of the day, and I think she did an incredible job doing that!
A little after 11, the contractions started coming on a little stronger. They didn't really have a super distinct pattern, but they were getting more intense. The monitor they had on my belly wasn't telling us how strong the contractions were, so my doctor inserted a monitor that would measure the intensity of the contractions from the inside. At the same time, he broke my water.
At around 11:45, I got my epidural. Just like last time, I felt really faint after getting my epidural, so they had to push epinephrine because my blood pressure dropped so low (I have low blood pressure to begin with - even a very hot bath can make my blood pressure drop so low that I feel faint). The pain subsided after that, but I was still feeling pressure. At this point they also inserted a Foley catheter as well since I couldn't really move around anymore to empty my bladder myself.
Around 2:30 pm, my nurse checked me and said I was at about 7.5 cm. I was feeling really intense pressure, so they gave me this "peanut" to put between my legs. It's like a birthing ball but in the shape of a peanut. You put it between your legs and it's supposed to help open your hips up to help the baby move lower down in your pelvis.
By 4:30, I was feeling really intense pressure, and with every contraction, came the feeling of needing to push. When my nurse checked me, she said I was almost fully dilated, but that she thought I could push through it. She called the doctor in and he agreed with her. So they began preparing the room. By 5:15, everyone was in position and I was dying to push. I felt like I was going to burst with every contraction. After a few more instructions from the doctor and the nurse, I started pushing. I pushed through a contraction, and Eddie told me, "She's almost here. You're doing amazing." Once the contraction subsided, I took a break until I felt the next one coming. I pushed through the next contraction, and her head was out. The doctor told me to take a deep breath and relax for a few seconds. At the next contraction, he had me push again, and out she came, at 5:26 pm (and the doctor was right, I pushed for less than 5 minutes!)!
They immediately put her on my chest and left her there for a few minutes, which is something I didn't really get to experience with Caleb. While this was going on, the doctor was delivering my placenta and there were a million things going on in the room. All I could focus on was my baby.
[Caleb had the umbilical cord wrapped pretty tightly around his neck, and was having a hard time breathing, so I held him for maybe 30 seconds and then they whisked him away. I had been concerned about that with Chloe, but the doctor told us that with second (and subsequent) babies it's not usually an issue because the time they spend in the birth canal is so much shorter that the cord doesn't really become a danger to them.]
While the doctor stitched me up (I was starting to tear in the wrong direction so he had to perform an episiotomy - I had one with Caleb as well), they cleaned her up some and weighed & measured her (7 lbs 4 oz, 18 inches) and gave her her Apgar score (9.9 baby). She cried loudly, and I cried with her. A baby's first cry is one of the most emotionally charged sounds a new mom can hear.
I honestly don't know how I would have made it through either one of my deliveries without Eddie. He has been my rock. He counted for me while I pushed, he held my leg, looked into my eyes, and constantly told me I was doing an incredible job. He made sure my hair was out of my face, and that I was as comfortable as I could be.
Once they cleaned Chloe up, Eddie got to hold her for a few minutes while they finished cleaning me up. Then they gave her back to me and I lated her on to my breast. This was something I really wanted to be able to do, since I hadn't been able to do so with Caleb, and I feel like that hurt the start of our breastfeeding journey. She latched on right away, which made me so happy.
A few minutes later, Eddie went to get Caleb so he could meet his baby sister. It was love at first sight - I'll talk more about how we prepared him in another post. He brought her a present, and she had a gift for him. He wanted to hold her and hug her right away. Honestly, as a Mom, this made me happier than anything. Because it was the moment we became a family of four. (And now I'm crying again.)
The grandparents and my brothers each popped in for a few minutes, and about an hour after she was born, they took her off to the nursery to give her a bath and prepare her for her first night with Mom & Dad.
And that's the story of our baby girl's birth.
At 38 weeks pregnant, I know that I can go into labor at any time (and I'm actually hoping for it to be sooner rather than later). For my labor and delivery with Caleb, I completely overpacked my hospital bag, which I wrote about here. I decided to rewrite my list and give it it's own new post, since I'm so much wiser this time around (that was a joke - I still have no idea what I'm doing). The list is pretty self-explanatory, but I will say that our hospital provided me with a LOT of things that I had packed the first time around and I ended up not needing. The hospital did provide toiletries and necessities, but I did enjoy having some luxe products with me that made my hospital stay just a little more pleasant (I bought travel sizes of salon products and some of my skincare products to keep in my bag).
Some of the things I've included are completely based on personal preference and are completely optional (hair dryer and iron anyone?). But I did like to have the option of fixing myself up just a little bit and having some makeup on made me feel human for visitors. I liked having my own bath towel because hospital towels tend to be a little rough, and my own pillow, along with a bright pillowcase, just so I have some of the comforts of home.
I didn't include this on the list but I do have a few snacks packed and an empty water bottle that will make drinking water while lying in a hospital bed a little easier.
I don't pack reading material with me because [I'm not delusional] I know I will be plenty busy and/or catching up on some much needed shut-eye.
Anyway, here's the list! What would you add or remove?
As a mom, I am always questioning myself. Am I doing this right? How can I be better? I wish I had more patience. Motherhood is a constant finding of oneself. It’s the feeling of wanting to be needed, but also needing time to yourself. It’s all these little contradictions. It’s hard as hell, but it’s worth all its difficulties.
Recently, I was chatting with a friend who is also expecting, but this is her first. She asked me tons of questions about labor, and she confessed to me that she was petrified of labor.
It brought me back to my pregnancy with Caleb. I don’t remember being scared of labor itself, just apprehensive about all the unknowns. When you’re used to being in control of just about everything, something that brings so many unknowns, like labor, can be a little scary.
But whenever the conversation came up, and people asked me how come I wasn’t scared, I would always respond with, “Because my body was made to do this. I was born to be a mother.” The fact that millions of women have been doing this, since the beginning of time, with way less knowledge and way fewer medical advancements, was always a huge comfort to me. I always used the image of Mary, and said, if she could give birth in a stable, surrounded by animals on a bed of hay, then I can certainly do this in a hospital bed, surrounded by doctors.
This time around, I am way less apprehensive about the process itself. My body has already done this once. It can certainly do it again. But like always, those little fears creep in. Should I be induced? What if I forget how to push? What if the pain is too much to bear? What if I don’t make it to the hospital in time?
But every time those fears creep in, I remind myself, I was BORN TO DO THIS.
You can find this tee at Therapy For Moms Shoppe. Therapy for Moms started out as an Instagram account that was meant to just help moms get through the days. Their latest venture has been a shop with products created by moms, for moms. They have some great pieces to help remind you of the journey you are on - some funny and some uplifting. Lisette, the founder, reached out to me a few months back and sent me this tee, asking me to share my story. I thought this was a great reminder of how we as moms can forget that we are made to do exactly what we are doing, and that as much as we doubt ourselves, a mother's instinct kicks in.
So don't doubt yourself, momma. Because you were born to do this.
Want one of these tees for yourself? Visit Therapy for Moms Shoppe and get 20% off your order when you use the code JENISE20. It will get you 20% off your entire purchase, excluding $5 Deals and Therapy Boxes. Coupon expires 2/2/18.
Okay, I'm going to come out and say it. I'm not thin. I'm actually on the heavier side. And you know what? At this point in my life, I don't care.
I have never been extraordinarily thin. Not in my entire life. Even in elementary/middle school - I was never overweight, but I always felt like I was just a little bit bigger than the other girls. I danced ballet most of my childhood, and I always felt like I was the biggest girl in class. Call it what you will, but I have always been self-conscious. My parents are both on the thin side, not because it is naturally occurring but because they have always been extra careful with what they eat.
Being a parent is hard. Being a new parent is even harder. You're subject to everyone's advice, opinions, and words of wisdom. You're confused. You're exhausted. You're trying to figure out feedings and get whatever sleep you can while there is this tiny, fragile human constantly crying and needing you. You don't leave the house for days at a time, your body doesn't feel like your own. It is hard. And one day, you think you can't do it anymore.
For me, that day came about 2 weeks after Caleb was born. My hormones were still going nuts, we were still feeding about every 2.5 hours, and there was this constant noise all around me. I was so overwhelmed. Everyone around me had nothing but the best of intentions, but it was making me crazy, because I couldn't just BE. Honestly, as helpful as it was having people come over and bring us food, I almost would have preferred a couple days where we could just adjust to life with this new tiny creature in our lives. We came home from the hospital to my parents cooking for us in our kitchen and having organized things for us (our kitchen cabinets were being installed while I was in labor so everything was out of place). My parents are do-ers. Big time. But as soon as I walked in the door, the questions started. "Where do you want this? What do you want to do with that? How are you going to display these?" I really appreciate everything they did for us and everything they continue to do, but that day, all I wanted was to snuggle my baby boy and lie down on my couch with my husband.
The next evening, we had about 10 or 12 people in our house. Eddie had gone back to work that morning. With 12 people in my house, and everyone wanting to hold the baby, I was completely frazzled. Then my milk came in. More on that another time, but if you've had a baby, you know what this feels like and you know it is not fun.
Anyway, I managed to truck through it. The following week was a blur, with constant visitors and people with the best of possible intentions wanting to help. Eventually I was honest with my mom and let her know that everything didn't need to be perfect and that what I really needed was rest. That made a huge difference and I truly wish I would have said something sooner. Everyone was excited to help, and I know that deep within my heart they were doing what they thought I wanted done. But at the end of the day, you need to be honest and direct and just tell people exactly what you need. My needs always have been, and always will be, very different from my mom's, my dad's, and even my husband's. So when I gave them an expectation, it made it a lot easier for them than just letting them try to read my mind (which we know never goes over well).
I also stopped feeling bad when people were over and would just excuse myself whenever I needed to feed him or just have a minute to breathe.
However, a few times, I would leave to nurse Caleb, and people would follow. I started to shut the door, and people would knock and come in anyway. I was struggling with nursing and I was overwhelmed and felt awkward. I wanted to be able to sit there and look at my baby or close my eyes without having to worry that someone was looking at my nipple (I eventually got over that). The anxiety would make me tense up and to this day, I don't understand how people didn't sense my discomfort. I finally told Eddie, "When I leave to nurse Caleb, if anyone gets up to follow me, you need to be the bad guy. I'm overwhelmed here and I can't get comfortable if someone is in the room with me." So he started doing that and it helped. So much.
But the following week it happened again. And the next day I lost it. A few small things had happened during the birth that I wasn't really happy with, and it honestly hadn't been what I had imagined it to be in my head. Two weeks later it all hit me like a ton of bricks and I fell apart. I spent a straight 2 hours crying, and being weepy the entire rest of the day. I would cry for any little thing. When Eddie called me, I said "I don't know what's wrong with me." I talked to a friend and she assured me that what I was feeling was very normal.
Looking back, I think any sane person would have broken down. I was at the most vulnerable point in my life, and I had zero privacy, my every move was being questioned, and I was tired. But once I broke down, and I shared my frustrations with a couple of people, things started to improve. And from then on, I became a lot more sure of myself when it came to Caleb.
So I needed that - I needed to let go of all the emotion that I had bottled up inside. I needed a good cry. And I should never have been surprised by that, because I am the kind of person who, every once in a while, needs a good cry.
It's hard to be honest with those around you. But you know what? It's even harder to try and be tough and keep everything bottled up inside. So if you're there, if you're at the point of breaking down? Let it out momma. I promise, you'll be all the better for it.
So in our eagerness as first time parents, the husband and I definitely took childbirth preparation classes at our hospital. The class was great and I felt like it really helped me out - I knew what to expect when it came to the birth and I had a general idea of what my entire hospital visit would be like. During these classes, we were given a list of things that we were recommended to bring to the hospital. A few things I was SO grateful to have. Others didn't even see the light of day. Below is an image of the list of things that I packed for myself and for the baby. In reality, I didn't need so many things.
So here is my updated list of what I would take if I was doing this again (or what I will take when I do this again).
*My original list had underwear and sanitary napkins. I didn't even touch the ones in my bag. The hospital provided everything I could possibly need in this department and it was better than what I had brought with me. The hospital underwear are hideous but they are so comfortable and exactly what you need.
So that's it! I took a lot more and ended up not using a whole lot of it. Maximize your space and don't stress yourself out!
About this Mom
A Miami wife and mom documenting her days with her toddler and all that comes along with it.