All About Birthin’ Babies 

As you may have figured out by now, Cola Town Mr. & I have three kids. Their ages are 10 years old, 8 years old, and 6 months. I know….there’s a big gap between the 8 year old and the baby. She is our “surprise” baby, and we are so thrilled to be a party of 5 now! 

There is a ton of information out there about child birth, and sometimes deciphering it all can be tricky. I would like to take this opportunity to share my birth stories. My goal is not necessarily to influence my readers one way or the other, but just to give an honest account of my experiences. 

Carmen is our oldest daughter. Other than extreme weight gain (this happened with all 3 due to Hashimoto’s thyroiditis), my pregnancy with her was fine and without issue. I researched and decided to do the Bradley Method of childbirth. Natural, unmedicated birth. At the time Cola Town Mr. was working a lot, so my Mom went with me to the classes. This was fine by me because she is much calmer than my husband. The Bradley Method teaches you how to focus through contractions, the signs of transitioning during the different phases of labor, and coaches you to follow through with the unmedicated birth. My labor with Carmen was the scariest because it was my first pregnancy and I had no idea what to expect. Did it hurt? Hell yes. My active labor with Carmen lasted a total of 36 hours, and finally at the 28th hour I decided for the epidural. I could kick myself now for doing that, because another hour and I would have been pushing. The epidural slowed down labor, and did nothing to ease the pain for me. I have an extremely high tolerance for pain, but an equal tolerance to drugs apparently.  I felt everything. Since I had the epidural and all of the machines hooked up to me, I was unable to move freely. All I wanted to do was squat, rock, and get on all fours. Confined on my back in the hospital bed, I pushed for about an hour until I heard her glorious announcement that she was officially here. Although I declined an episiotomy, I tore a tiny bit and required 1 stitch. After Carmen was born, we were up and out of there in 2 days. 

When my due date approached with my son Gabriel in 2009, I listened to my Obstetrician and believed her when she told me that I waited too long for meds with Carmen’s delivery which is why I felt everything. With that in mind and not looking forward to the pain I experienced the first time, I accepted an induction and multiple epidurals during this labor. After laboring for 16 hours and pushing for 1 hour, our son was born. I declined an episiotomy this time as well, and didn’t need even one stitch. That was the least of my worries though. Gabriel suffered from meconium aspiration and jaundice, and stayed in the NICU for a little under two weeks. This was the scariest experience of my life. I kept trying to get straight answers from the hospital staff to no avail. The joy I should have been experiencing with my newborn was replaced with sheer terror. I was so worried about his health. After the fact, I researched and found multiple stories associating negative side effects for babies with Pitocin and epidurals. When I became pregnant last spring with our surprise baby, I knew immediately I wanted to do it my way and chose a unmedicated, totally natural home birth. 

I found an amazing midwife in Columbia who was awesome. She gave me choices during my pregnancy about certain tests, and information about which are necessary and/or required. We were able to tell the baby’s gender and that she is free of any chromosomal disorders, etc by genetic testing via maternal blood analysis. At each appointment, especially once I got closer to my due date, I expected her to do a vaginal check. She never did. She gave me a list of items to purchase for the home birth. These items were extra bed sheets, latex gloves, organic oil, and other things that would possibly be needed during labor. I also picked up a prescription for Rhogam (RH-) and pitocin (to be used post delivery if I experienced extreme bleeding). 

On a Tuesday when I was 38 weeks, I started to feel serious Braxton Hicks contractions. They weren’t full on active labor contractions, but enough to know my body was getting ready for baby’s debut. I called my midwife, and she came by the house to check my cervix for dialation. This was the first time she ever was “invasive”, and still asked permission nonetheless. Obviously I agreed. I was about 3cm dilated, so she told me to take it easy and keep her posted. Carmen stayed up with me most of the night through the contractions, and when daytime came we slept. I knew from previous experience to sleep whenever I could. I woke up and had my husband pick up dinner. I went back to bed to relax and watch a movie. I started having contractions again around 11pm, this time more aggressive than the night before. This night Gabriel stayed up with me, right by my side. He was rubbing my back and asking if I was ok. About 11:30 I told my husband to call the midwife. I knew it was time. This was it. 

She arrived within thirty minutes, and her doula arrived shortly after. They set everything up like professionals, in a very short amount of time. All I had to do was take care of me. The freedom of having complete control of my birth experience is something I’ll never forget. I was able to move freely around the house, although I didn’t leave the master suite. If I’d have known that, I would have cleaned the bathroom better! I had visions of laboring in the kids bathroom, which is much nicer than ours and recently updated. I never went down the hallway. If I had been hungry, I would have been able to eat. I was thirsty and was able to drink as much water and Powerade as I wanted. I must say, it was refreshing to actually drink and not have nurses telling me I could only have damn ice chips! 

I prepared my children as much as I could about child labor. My husband and I both agreed to allow them to engage as much as they wanted. My daughter went to sleep at some point but my son stayed by my side until it got too intense for him. At that point, he went to his room and waited. My mother was there also to help with the older kids and to make sure they were ok. 

From the onset of contractions late Wednesday night to the time it took to transition into the pushing phase was 7 hours. I was standing in the bathroom, rocking back and forth because it helped with the back labor, when all of a sudden that urge to push was strong! I told my midwife but when she checked me I was only at 8 cm. She told me to hold off on pushing if possible. It wasn’t possible at all. My baby girl was ready to make her debut. I started on my back on the bed, but that hurt and wasn’t helping anything. I got off of the bed and was most comfortable in a deep squat, which is exactly how I delivered. After 20 minutes of pushing in an upright, vertical squatting position by our bed in our room, Ruby Evangeline arrived. 

Carmen came out of her room just in time to see Ruby’s head coming out, and Gabriel came out of his room just as Ruby was being placed on my chest as we waited for the umbilical cord to stop pulsing. This was a wonderful experience for our older children to witness. If either of them ever become parents, they’ll be prepared. Carmen will have confidence in her body and know that it is fully capable of doing what needs to be done. Gabriel will know that about his wife as well, and respect her greatly because of this understanding. Again, we allowed them to be involved as much as they were comfortable. No pressure whatsoever. 

Shortly after Ruby’s arrival, my midwife suggested I take a shower. As she did the intital newborn APGAR test with my Mom and kids in the room, my husband escorted me to the shower (the nicer one down the hall). I stood there and let the water run over me, feeling so accomplished and strong. I did it. 

After I was clean and dressed (with the help of my midwife and husband), I made my way back to the bedroom. I found clean linens on the bed, and baby was ready for me to snuggle with her. I was able to fully process everything that just happened. My newborn in my arms, with my two older “babies” all in the bed snuggling. It is, and will always be, one of the greatest moments of my life. 

The idea of a homebirth may not resonate with everyone, but it worked out phenomenally for us. We don’t plan to, but if we were to have another child we would do it via homebirth. My suggestion to any expecting mama or anyone interested is to watch a documentary called The Business of Being Born. It’s an eye opener, and led me down a path I will never regret. 

Ruby now at 6 months ❤️


 

Pregnancy Weight Gain 

We are all told when we are pregnant that it’s good to gain weight. This means that you are growing  a healthy, well nourished baby. We are also told not to gain too much weight because it can put us at risk for certain ailments such as gestational diabetes. Some studies even suggest that women who gain an excessive amount of weight experience much longer labor than their more trim pregnant counterparts. 

As someone who has struggled with my weight my whole life, it’s no surprise that with each pregnancy I gained an exorbitant amount of weight. With my first two pregnancies, I ate whatever I wanted. I knew I could get the weight off and I willingly gave in to each craving I had. The number on the scale got up to the same number with each of those pregnancies. 

With this third pregnancy, I was surprised that I put on weight the same way. I am much more educated about nutrition and follow a plant based diet. I did incorporate some meat back in the first trimester because I couldn’t kick the craving. I took iron supplements, ate loads of spinach, and I still couldn’t shake it. I still feel guilty about it, but ate some steaks and the insatiable craving for it went away. I guess she needed something that my vegan diet wasn’t giving her, and I’d rather her be healthy than be a righteous vegan. I ate generally healthy throughout my pregnancy, even tallying calories each day in an attempt to not gain too much. It didn’t work. 

Much to the dismay of my midwife, the number on the scale got right back up to the number it did with the subsequent pregnancies. I will be honest here. I felt fat shamed by her. I chose to go the home birth route this time to escape the judgements I experienced at the hospital. She would consistently make comments about needing to use the “extra large cuff” to take my blood pressure each visit. She would grill me on what I was eating and how much exercise I was getting. I would pull up my food log and tell her what she wanted to know. She seemed to not believe that some people, regardless of what they do, are predisposed to weight gain. Also, I never presented any physical issues at all. My blood pressure remained consistently perfect throughout my pregnancy. Baby Ruby’s heartbeat was always healthy. I didn’t experience crazy swelling in my ankles or anywhere else other than the weight gain. She just couldn’t understand it, and I felt picked on. 

I ended up having a conversation with the midwife about a month before I delivered. I was dreading my appointments at that point because of her comments, although in hindsight I think that’s just her way. I truly believe she was speaking out of concern but it came off in a negative way. I knew if I didn’t speak with her about how I was feeling it would be hard for me to invite her into my home and truly be at ease during the home birth. 

It worked. She was unaware of the way she was coming off to me, and quickly adjusted her dialogue with me. I ended up loving her so much during the home birth. She is amazing at what she does. 

For anyone who is reading this, I hope your take away from this post is to be nice to pregnant women. Avoid at all costs any comments about her weight. Pregnant women are dealing with enough as it is, and most of us know better than you that we are as big as a house. We don’t need the reminder. A woman’s body is an amazing creation that can do amazing things, like building babies and then nourishing those babies. Let’s focus on the absolute beauty that embodies all pregnant women, and all women for that matter. 

               Here I am 25 weeks pregnant 

The Terrifying Act of Letting Your Kids Spread Their Wings

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As parents, our job is to groom our children to be the best adults possible once we release them into the real world. We teach them to say please and thank you, instruct them to not eat like a messy beast, and remind them to always use proper grammar. We teach them to respect everyone and remind them of proper etiquette when in public. This is part of the job. Always in the back of our head we know that as early as their 18th birthday we will have to let go and allow them to start living their lives for themselves.

However, I was not prepared when earlier this year my mother offered my daughter a trip to Paris for her 10th birthday. Of course, I agreed and my daughter was elated. I was invited, but knowing that by the time the trip came I would be heavily pregnant and would not be able to go comfortably I declined.  The months went by rather quickly, and we obtained a US Passport for our daughter. I bought her new clothes that would pack easily and be not only comfortable but stylish yet weather appropriate for the November Parisian weather. We got her hard side luggage with GPS built into it, just in case it was lost and we needed to find it. She was 100% prepared.

When the day came I panicked. I knew ultimately she would be safe, but nothing is ever absolute. The plan was for them to stay with a family friend who currently works for the State Department. Her apartment is in a very safe part of town and roomy. Although I didn’t want to overthink things or put bad vibes out, I couldn’t stop thinking about the terrorist attacks that have happened in France lately. The likelihood of that happening and affecting my daughter and mother were slim to none. To be honest, anything can happen anywhere.  Nonetheless, the thought horrified me to think that something could happen or she would be in a frighteningly precarious situation and I wasn’t there to help or do something. What if she didn’t come back to me?

I have tried my best to put those sorts of thoughts out of my head this week. Luckily, they fly back home late tonight and I will be able to hug my baby’s neck once more. I wasn’t much older than my daughter when I had the chance to go to Paris. It was amazing and something I will never forget. How could I let the opportunity pass my daughter by just because of my own fears? I couldn’t. The world we live in seems to become more dangerous and terrifying with each day that passes. Yet, life isn’t worth living if we become paralyzed by our fear. There are so many opportunities to fully live. If we pass them up and stay safe inside our bubble, we will never evolve or broaden our minds or horizons.

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I will leave you with a favorite quote of mine that sums up my sentiment. It is also something I strive to instill in my children every single day.

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” -Mark Twain

 

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All photos are taken by my Mom at the Paris Opera House.

Introduction

I would like to take a few minutes to formally introduce myself, to those that don’t know me. I come from a fashion background, specifically fashion journalism. Recently, and partially due to the fact that baby number 3 (surprise!) is on the way, I decided to re evaluate my writing focus. As much as I would love to run in the fashion world with the likes of Anna Wintour from Vogue and Blair Eadie from the fashion blog Atlantic-Pacific, this is not my life. I am a mother, not a high powered style writer at the top of the fashion food chain. I am immersed in mommy hood, so why not write about what I know best, right? This is my thought. Of course, I still love fashion and will incorporate that into my blog.  The differene is now it will be more about pulling looks together in minimal time that are also mom friendly, meaning easy to chase little ones in and machine washable.

I am married and we have a 10 year old daughter and a 7 year old son, with a baby girl due around New Year’s. I will be experiencing life as a Mom with a tween, a baby, and a boy in between.  I love my life as a Mom, and when I feel as if I am not doing enough in the world I realize that I am contributing to the future of the world by raising amazing, compassionate, and smart people.

My intention with this blog is to have a real voice in the world of parenting, and hopefully inspire moms and dads in this crazy adventure we call parenthood. We are all united in this voyage and I hope you will join me on my new journey as a mommy blogger.

-Ashley