A couple of weeks ago, my cousin's wife Kristy reached out to me and very sweetly - in the midst of a pandemic and being in the newborn fog to her third baby - offered to write a guest post sharing her experience with delivering their third baby during this pandemic. I think she provides a really solid point of view and I hope it will help ease the minds and answer the questions of some of you who are on the verge of delivering a baby. Thanks Kristy for sharing your experience!
As I neared the last trimester of my pregnancy, the Covid-19 numbers in my county started to climb. My OB required me to wear a mask during office visits and warned me that my husband may not be able to be present in the delivery room. I was mixed with excitement and fear for the coming months, because while I was excited to finally meet my baby, I desperately wanted my husband to see our daughter born. I was unsure of what to expect during delivery, and neither Google nor my doctor's office gave me the answers to my questions:
What can I expect from my hospital stay?
Do I pack my hospital bag differently?
How do I protect my baby, my husband, and myself during our hospital stay?
Before I answer those questions, here's the scoop. Years ago, I worked as a nurse. My husband also works in healthcare, so I was no stranger in navigating the ins and outs of disinfecting the house and taking precautions to keep our family safe. But for this hospital stay, I wasn't the nurse- I was the patient AND momma bear. So while I'd like to tell you I had all of the answers prior to my hospital stay, hindsight is 20/20. This is what I learned:
(Disclaimer: This was my personal experience at one hospital, and I'm wearing my Mommy hat. This is not medical advice and you should follow your doctor's recommendations and policies/procedures).
When I checked into triage, I was screened for Covid-19. They had a verbal survey, took my temperature, and required that I wear a mask *at all times* while in the hospital. I'm happy to report my husband was able to be there with me, and was screened in the same way upon entry to the hospital. I was only allowed to have 1 visitor with me (I had my husband) and I wasn't able to switch-off visitors during my stay. They discouraged him from leaving the hospital at all, and asked if he had to leave that he not be gone longer than a couple of hours. All of the hospital staff wore masks and gloves, and changed their gloves often. I was really impressed with the level of care the staff took in protecting us.
This is baby #3 for me, so I'd consider my hospital bag neither minimalist nor extensive. In addition to what I'd normally pack in my hospital bag, I also included:
The health and safety of my family was at the top of my concerns delivering during a pandemic. If I could send you with ONE takeaway from all of this, it is:
Advocate and (politely) demand for the best practices done for your family!
I typically shy away from confrontation, and it is hard for me to ask questions, but I cannot stress this enough. When someone came to do a procedure on baby, if I didn't see them wash their hands, I requested they do so. When the staff was changing out gloves, I made sure they washed their hands in between. If a machine or equipment was to be used on my baby, I asked that it be disinfected first. If a procedure needed to be done where I was able to hold the baby instead of a staff member, I did. The hospital was very diligent in doing all of the above on their own, however, when I noticed it wasn't done (or done correctly), I would kindly remind them. And when I did, the staff was great about responding right away to the request. My husband and I both were both watchful during interactions between baby and staff to ensure the best care was given.
Aside from a few different policies and procedures, I found that my hospital stay wasn't all that different from my previous deliveries. Not permitting extra visitors actually gave the 3 of us a really sweet bonding experience during our stay, and alleviated the stress of "hosting" visitors after delivering a baby. Hubby and I ordered lots of take out and watched movies while we snuggled our new little addition. Delivering during a pandemic can be stressful, but it doesn't have to be! With a few extra items in the hospital bag and these tips you'll be well prepared to protect and enjoy your sweet baby.
A couple of weeks ago I received a copy of Drinking for Two: A Collection of Nutritious Cocktails for the Mom-to-Be. Before I go any further, let me just say that NO, I am NOT pregnant. However, I know that a lot of my followers are new or expecting mamas and I like to make sure I'm providing useful information for everyone around here! Anyway, Drinking for Two was created by two dietitians who felt like moms-to-be deserved a book filled with delicious and nutritious mocktail recipes. The drinks are all plant-based and non-alcoholic, low in sugar, and easy to prepare. I've included a link at the end of the post so you can shop the book - it would make a great gift for a mom-to-be!
With the holiday season upon us, it's time for holiday parties, Thanksgiving meals, Friendsgiving celebrations, and everything else that comes with this joyful time of year. We've got parties and we're entertaining left and right. We're eating, we're drinking, and generally being overindulgent. But what happens when you can't (or don't want to) drink alcohol? It doesn't mean you have to be left out! I teamed up with Dr. Jenny Schell of Concierge Postpartum Care, and we made one of the delicious recipes from Drinking for Two, and chatted about all the different reasons why we might not drink on a particular day. You can check out our video here. Our answers ranged from pregnancy, to being on antibiotics, to being sensitive to those around you who cannot or do not drink, and to having to be up bright and early the next morning because your kids are still going to be up at 6 am (that's me!).
This drink is perfect for the holidays and would pair well with a Thanksgiving or Christmas meal. It's got cranberry, citrus, and thyme. It's also got ginger, so if you're suffering from nausea during your pregnancy, this could be a good one for you! Plus, it's really tasty! Dr. Schell and I were very pleasantly surprised when we tried it.
So whatever your reason, mix up a couple glasses of this, and I promise you will be grateful in the morning!
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 tsp ginger, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup 100% cranberry juice
1/4 cup orange juice
1 cup seltzer
Additional thyme and cranberries for garnish
If you want to make a version with alcohol, I would add 2-3 oz of vodka to this!
No, I'm not pregnant again. But a year ago today, I found out that I was pregnant with little Miss Chloe. I didn't know she would be a she, but from the moment we found out, she was already so loved. I've been a little frustrated the last few days because she is going through the fourth leap in the Wonder Weeks (if you have a baby under a year old and don't know about this, look it up) and she is smack in the middle of her fussy period. She hasn't wanted to be put down and she just wants me all the time. While I was holding her and nursing her for what felt like the tenth time this morning, my Timehop notification popped up on my phone, and this photo I took right after finding out I was pregnant showed up.
I feel like this photo pretty accurately captures my joy, my surprise, and my anxiety all at the same time. Seeing the photo reminds me to stop and breathe through these frustrations, because for a while I didn't think there would be another pregnancy for me. I took a few minutes out of my day that day and the next few to jot down a few thoughts, and I thought today was as good a day as any to share them with you.
Today I found out I am pregnant. It was honestly one of the most shocking moments of my life! Since we struggled to get pregnant with Caleb, we thought we were going to have to undergo fertility treatments to conceive our next baby. We had done a few visits with our reproductive endocrinologist, but had decided to hold off on treatment because of various reasons.
In June, we went on vacation for two and a half weeks, and then to Orlando for BlogHer. Before June I had been tracking my period, checking my BBT, and trying to make sure we were active on the days when I was supposed to be ovulating. I haven't been on birth control in over 5 years, so I figured if it hadn't happened yet, then we definitely would need the doctors help. But since the month of June was so busy, I didn't think about any of that. As a matter of fact, Eddie and I booked a trip to Wine Country for the first weekend of August.
A few days ago, I was being really cranky and snapping at everything. Eddie said to me something along the lines of, "You must be getting your period." When he said that, I stopped and thought for a minute and realized I was already more than a week late. My period isn't super regular, and I've had months where it has been 2 weeks late, so I put it out of my mind.
This morning, I went to do my nails, and on the way home I decided to stop at Walgreens. Since I was in the aisle, I picked up some pregnancy tests and figured I'd take one just in case. I went home, unloaded my stuff and went to the bathroom. The positive line showed up IMMEDIATELY. I freaked out. I started shaking. I called Eddie into the bedroom and told him. He didn't even know what to say. We were both in shock. Here we were, thinking we would never get pregnant without medical intervention, PREGNANT.
I have a friend who works in the reproductive endocrinologist's office, and she's been through our entire journey with us, so I texted her. Their office is down the street from our house, so she told me, come get your blood drawn. I took off like a bolt and got my blood drawn. Within two hours they had called me with the results - that I am in fact, very pregnant.
This is a very different journey than it was the last time - at least the start of it has been.
Today I started on progesterone. I was on this with my pregnancy with Caleb. There are many reasons for it, but one of the biggest is that it helps you to carry a pregnancy to term. Some of the other benefits are that it decreases pregnancy symptoms such as nausea (which can be a little scary when you still can’t see your belly).
Thinking back, I realize there were a few little signs.
nipples: My breasts were super tender, but I thought nothing of it because they are always tender before my period. My nipples were always standing at attention, too, which happened with my pregnancy with Caleb.
Cousin It: I also have these annoying dark hairs on my chin due to PCOS. I did laser hair removal way back before I got pregnant with Caleb, and I don't typically get a lot of hair after doing the treatment. But when I did get pregnant with Caleb, my hair growth was crazy. In the last few weeks, I noticed the hair was sprouting up like weeds.
Status: Couch Potato: I was also tired and feeling really lazy. I couldn’t get out of bed. And after Eddie and Caleb napped one day, he asked me if I had slept. I replied, I never nap! For the next three days, I swear, all I wanted was a nap.
The nose knows: When all else fails, your sense of smell will let you know. Eddies cigar smoking doesn't typically bother me, but in the last couple weeks, twice the smell REALLY bugged me. Once was in his breath, and he said he had already brushed his teeth, but it was so strong I made him brush again. The other time was on his fingers. He doesn't typically hold his cigar with his left hand and he put his left hand in my face and I was so grossed out.
More bloodwork today to make sure my hCg levels are rising. They more than doubled since Friday which is a great sign. Now we wait until next Monday, when we have our first ultrasound to hear our little bean’s heartbeat.
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.
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