Baby

Stella's Birth Story

Our sweet Stella Claire arrived on June 28th at 6:47 a.m. 

It's been a little over a month and we're so in love!  Stella is a happy little sleepyhead and so easygoing.  I could spend my whole day kissing her squishy face :)

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I'm excited to share her birth story because it's a really happy one.  Not just because of Stella - although she's obviously the best part! - but because it went better than I ever could have hoped.  Every time I think back to that day, I'm filled with joy and gratitude.  It was one of the best experiences of my whole life.

It was also incredibly painful - but I'll get to that later!

To Epidural or Not to Epidural

I didn't have a birth plan for Stella.  All I really wanted was a healthy delivery. But if I'm completely honest, I hoped for a natural childbirth. 

It's not that I'm against epidurals - I'm not at all!  In fact, I had one when Luna was born.  And I know that thousands of mamas have successful epidurals every day.  But I didn’t have the best experience the first time around and I was super stressed that something would go wrong again.

But I was also scared of giving birth naturally!  Which is why I didn't really have a plan.  All I could do was labor at home as long as possible and deal with the epidural dilemma once I got to the hospital.

The Final Weeks

Throughout my pregnancy, I was *sure* I'd go into labor early.  All the signs were there!  Plus Stella was consistently measuring small which put me at risk for preterm delivery.  But as my due date approached, I started getting anxious.  Nothing was happening!  And all the signs that had been there were suddenly gone. 

By the time my due date rolled around, I'd given up hope.  I was never going into labor!  And the doctor only confirmed my fears.  Even though I was 3 centimeters dilated and almost completely effaced, I hadn't progressed at all in over two weeks.  How was that even possible?!  For the first time, he mentioned the possibility of an induction.

So many things were running through my head as I left the office that day.  I didn't want to be induced. All I wanted was a healthy, uncomplicated, maybe-all-natural delivery.  Actually, all I wanted was to skip the delivery entirely!

As it turned out, I didn't need to worry so much.  I went into labor that very night.

It was just before midnight on my due date :)

Labor

Labor always starts the same for me.  I'm barely feeling anything and then I'm suddenly having contractions every 2 minutes.  Looking back, I probably should have gone to the hospital a little sooner than I did.  But even in those final hours, I still wasn't sure what to do about the epidural. 

So we waited. 

For almost six hours, I breathed and visualized my way through contractions.  I honestly had no idea what I was doing! During that time, Kris rubbed my back, talked me through the pain, and physically held me up at times.  He brought me ice water when I needed it and gently wiped the sweat from my forehead.  He was the best labor partner I could have asked for.

Except for one little thing, haha!

In the very beginning, he kept asking if we should go to the hospital.  And I honestly just wasn’t ready. I knew the second I arrived, I'd probably cave and get the epidural so I wanted to stay home as long as possible.  After the third time he mentioned the hospital, I got a little snappy with him. 

He took the hint and didn't mention it again :)

Heading to the Hospital

It was 6:00 a.m.  By that point, I was laboring in the bath tub and my whole body was shaking.  My mom had arrived to watch Luna and contractions were becoming unbearable.  Kris tentatively mentioned the hospital one last time. 

I was still worried about the epidural.  But I also knew he was right. 

It was time to go. 

I kissed Luna on the head just before we left.

Can I hit pause for a second?  I just mentioned that my mom watched Luna while we headed to the hospital.  But what I didn't mention was the fact that she drove over 3 hours in the middle of the night to be there.  I'm so grateful for her part in my birth experience.  It meant I didn't need to worry about Luna while I was giving birth.  I knew she'd be happy and healthy and taken care of.  Plus it was just really nice having my mom close by ;)

At the hospital, we went straight to Labor & Delivery.  They led me into a small room and handed me a clipboard.  But halfway through the first form another contraction hit.  I crouched down to the floor to cope with the pain.  Things were getting worse.  "Let's get you to triage," the nurse said.  I felt so bad - I hadn't finished a single form!

As we headed down the hallway, I joked between contractions about my low pain tolerance.  "I'm probably only 4 centimeters dilated," I told the nurses.  I didn't tell them how scared I was that it might actually be true.

Triage

If you've ever given birth, you probably know all about triage.  It's the room where they check to see how far your labor has progressed.  If you're ready to be admitted, they take you to a delivery room!  If not, they send you home.

My triage room was teeny tiny.  Kris helped me into a gown and onto the bed.  Then the nurse strapped monitors around my belly.  She tried checking my cervix but I could. not. sit. still!  I was in SO much pain.  I needed to sit up, to move, to do anything to get rid of it.

It's crazy how fast things progressed.  When we arrived, my contractions were already super painful.   Still, I could walk and talk and function somewhat normally between them.  But then there was no "between" anymore.  It was just one contraction after another after another.

Everything started collapsing around me.  I couldn't think anymore.  I knew I didn't want an epidural but I couldn't remember why.  I didn't know it at the time but I'd just entered the Transition Phase of labor. 

At that point, I really lost sight of things.  I suddenly knew with absolute certainty that I couldn't go through with a natural birth.  So less than 15 minutes after arriving at the hospital, I caved.  I asked for the one thing I didn't want:  an epidural. 

And guess what?  It was TOO LATE!!

My first reaction was disbelief ... Was I really that far along?! 

And then relief ... No epidural!!  No catheters or complications or crashing baby's heartbeats.  No guilt or stress over the decision.

And then the fear hit.

People talk a lot about the pain of natural childbirth.  And it's true that it's incredibly painful - I'll get to that more in a second.  But it's also really scary!  You're about to push a BABY out of your body.  And there's not a thing you can do to stop it.

I felt completely unprepared.  I hadn't taken any classes, hadn't hired a doula, hadn't done anything useful leading up to my labor.  But it didn't matter!  I was about to give birth without an epidural whether I was ready or not.

The Delivery

It's amazing how clearly I remember all these details because by that point I was literally screaming for someone - anyone - to help me.  And then I completely lost it.  I couldn't even manage words anymore.  I was just screaming.  My hair was matted to my skin with sweat.  My body was being ripped open from the inside.  I remember wildly trying to launch myself off the end of the bed - anything to escape the pain - and being physically restrained.

There were nurses everywhere - at least three in the tiny room and four or five standing just outside.  The triage room didn't have a door - just a meager little curtain that was wide open - so I didn't have much privacy.  But there wasn't time to move to a delivery room!

The doctor rushed in.  That's when things started moving in fast forward.  He didn't hesitate.  There was a little pop and a gush as he broke my water.  Then he was looking me straight in the face.  "I need one push," he said.  "One big push and she'll be here."

So I pushed!

I've never felt more alive than in that moment.  It was the first and only time I've ever felt really connected to what it means to be a human being.  To experience something so raw and unfiltered without any barriers.  I didn't just experience the exact moment Stella made her way into the world.  I felt it.  And it's something I'll never forget.

And just like that the pain was gone.

Hello Baby

There is nothing like seeing your newborn baby for the very first time.  I don't need pictures or videos to remember those moments.  I'll forever remember seeing Luna for the first time and the same is true for Stella. 

She was messy and swollen and absolutely perfect.

The nurses were waiting for me to take her.  I remember feeling a little wide-eyed about that.  When Luna was born, she was rushed off to NICU immediately.  I didn't get to hold or touch her until she was already wiped clean and tightly swaddled. But with Stella, I was allowed to hold her right away.  They laid her on my chest while Kris cut the cord and the doctor cleaned me up. 

I closed my eyes and leaned my head back.

And I thought:

I can't believe I'm holding our little girl.  I can't believe I just gave birth without medication.  I can't believe how different it was from my first experience.  And I can't believe it's all over!

The doctor smiled.   "That was the best delivery you could ask for," he said. 

I was thinking the same thing.  

After

I was still in triage but things had settled down.  The curtain was closed and I was nursing Stella while Kris and I talked about what had just happened.  That's when I realized the time.  It wasn't even 7 AM yet!

"What time was Stella born?" I asked incredulously.  Kris checked the card left by the nurse.  It said 6:47 a.m.

We'd been at the hospital less than 30 minutes.

Later that day, my mom brought Luna to meet Stella for the first time.  She was excited for the present we gave her - a coloring book and markers "from baby" - but less excited about being a big sister.  It's been a work in progress since then but I think Lu is finally coming around.  We're a family of four and it feels pretty amazing :)

Today

I've been through two very different birth experiences - one with an epidural and one without.  By far, the natural birth was more painful.  But it was also worth it.  Recovery has been so much easier this time around.  And I just feel better.  I feel really, genuinely happy.

And honestly, you guys? I can’t wait to do it all over again one day :)

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Pregnancy Essentials

Hey mommas,

Baby number 2 is almost here!

It's funny saying that because it took us FOREVER to share the news publicly.  My husband, Kris, was deployed for the first 6 months of my pregnancy ... then he finally came home and social media was the lasttt thing on my mind.  So now I'm 32 weeks along and just getting around to sharing our news, whoops!

Pregnancy can be really fun - baby kicks and ultrasounds and guessing baby's gender.  So much excitement!  But growing tiny humans can also be pretty tough.  So I wanted to share a few things that have made the process a little easier (and a lot more comfortable) during both of my pregnancies:

A CUTE PLANNER

Now that you're expecting, there's so much to keep up with!  Doctor's appointments and ultrasounds, baby showers, reminders to pack your hospital bag and put together the crib and learn how to use your brand new stroller.  Stay organized with one of Day Designer's daily planners.  My all-time favorite is the Mini Edition (Black Stripe).  Seriously .... LOVE!!!

A COMFY BRALETTE

For some reason my regular bra is soooo uncomfortable during pregnancy.  Thankfully I found this Aerie Castaway Lace Padded Longline Bralette from Aerie - it's comfy, feminine, and just the right fit (I ordered a size up because, you know, pregnancy boobs).  Plus they offer free shipping/returns on all their bras!

BELLY OIL

Worried about stretch marks?  Me too!  During my first pregnancy, I applied Dr. Palmer's Stretch Mark lotion literally every single day ... twice a day!  And it totally worked - no stretch marks!!  But the cocoa butter smell was a little overwhelming.   This time around, I switched to Earth Mama Belly Oil.  It's organic, smells AMAZING, and has hundreds of positive reviews online.  And so far so good - still no stretch marks!

MATERNITY CLOTHES

Some expecting mommas choose to wear regular clothes in a bigger size throughout pregnancy.  I've been guilty of this!  But it's worth investing in a few pieces that specifically fit your pregnant body (think soft tee shirts and stretchy leggings and maternity overalls).  You'll look and feel better, promise!

(Psssst ... Want to know our favorite maternity picks for summer?  Just click here!)

NON-WHITENING TOOTHPASTE

Okay this one is kind of out there ... but something about my regular toothpaste makes my morning sickness so. much. worse!  A friend of mine suggested switching to non-whitening toothpaste and guess what?  It actually helped!  It didn't cure my sickness entirely but at least I can brush my teeth without puking :)

EPSOM SALT

Hot baths are frowned upon during pregnancy (boo!).  But a warm bath with a scoop of Epsom salt is super relaxing and doctor-approved.  I'm kind of obsessed with Dr. Teal's Comfort & Calm Pure Epsom Salt with Chamomile - it's smells incredible!

A HEATING PAD

Speaking of heat, lying on a heating pad before bed is mayyybe my favorite thing right now.  I use it on my lower back for pain relief but it's also just really cozy!  Most experts agree that heating pads are safe for short periods of time - but check with your OB if you need reassurance :)

A PREGNANCY APP

There are tons to choose from!  I've tried a few but always come back to What to Expect's Pregnancy & Baby App.  It'll help you track your baby's growth and the forum is full of sweet mommas.  It's the perfect place to ask for advice, share your fears, and compare pregnancies all from the comfort of your own couch.

NETFLIX

Sometimes the only way to survive pregnancy is by binge-watching your favorite TV show.  Need suggestions?  Check out Baby Daddy and Young & Hungry on Netflix - the episodes are short, sweet, and always upbeat!

What are some of your prenatal must-haves?  Let me know in the comments below!

With love,

Lace

Confessions of a Cosleeping Momma

Hey mommas!

It's time for a BIG confession that only a few people know about our family:  we've been cosleeping since the day Luna was born.  And I don't just mean sleeping in the same room.  I mean sleeping in the same bed

We did it against doctor's recommendations. 

We did it against all our friend's and family's dire warnings. 

We did it despite the million reasons why we shouldn't.

And guess what?

Cosleeping was the BEST decision we could have made for our family.*

I'll admit - it wasn't part of our original plan.  In fact, before Luna was born I couldn't fathom why some parents would disregard all the current information on cosleeping.  It's dangerous.  It's against the rules!  And I'm one of those people that really likes rules. 

But the moment Luna came into the world everything changed.  Up until then she had always been snuggled safe and warm in my belly.  And now she was out in this big world and I couldn't bear the thought of her being alone. So as soon as the nurse left the room, I picked up her, settled into bed, and fell asleep holding her.

Since then, we've slept together as a family every night for almost 14 months.  Pregnant Lacey would have been SHOCKED, ha!  But over time I've come to realize that there are so many things I never understood about cosleeping/bedsharing.  So whether you're thinking about trying it, you're totally against it, or you're just the slightest bit curious what it's really like, these confessions are for just for you :)

#1 - IT WAS TERRIFYING AT FIRST

During pregnancy, you receive so much negative information about cosleeping.  You're told over and over all the things that can go wrong.  And that information is out there because it happened to someone.  Many someones.  There are people in the world whose baby might still be alive if they didn't share a bed.  In most of those cases, though, there were other risk factors involved (alcohol, drugs, or obesity to name a few).  But when you're new to motherhood and super sleep-deprived, the fear over those things is crippling. 

For the most part, those fears faded away after a few months.  Or maybe they just changed over time.  In the beginning, I was afraid I would smother Lu on accident.  As she grew, I was worried she would roll off the bed.  And these days I worry about what it will be like when we finally do transition her into her own space.  But I think that's just part of motherhood.  Once you become a parent, you're pretty much guaranteed to worry about something every single day for the rest of your life.

#2 - IT FEELS NATURAL

Despite all my fears, it felt so right to share a bed with Luna.  She slept better and longer in my arms than anywhere else.  And I slept better, too, knowing she was safe with me.  It was also just really hard for me to imagine leaving her alone in a crib.  I think I'm extra sensitive about this because I struggle with feeling lonely sometimes.  We spend so much of our lives alone in the world and all I want is to protect Luna from that feeling for as along as possible. 

#3 - I FELT PRESSURED TO STOP

This was probably the hardest part about cosleeping for me in the early months. During that time, I was getting so much pressure from every direction to stop what I was doing.  I heard it from family members.  I read it in books.  I heard it from the super judgy nurse at the doctor's office.  And I heard it from all those incredible women who have never been mothers but supposedly know what's best. 

Now that Luna is a little older, I'm a lot less sensitive about the subject.  If someone wants to share their opinion, I'll always hear them out.  But if they ask me to justify our decision, I just say it's what works best for our family and leave it at that.

#4 - IT MAKES SLEEP TRAINING HARDER

When Luna was around four months, the pressure really started to build. I decided it was time to crib train.  I read a whole book on the Ferber Method before starting.  It's supposed to be a gentler method of sleep training but the process was honestly traumatizing for me.   And I mean that literally.  My chest still hurts thinking about it! It was one of the worst nights in my entire life and the reason we'll be hiring a sleep consultant when we do finally make the switch.

#5 - A LOT OF OTHER MOMS DO IT TOO

This isn't really a confession but it’s one of the magical things about motherhood.  We all have these shared experiences that connect us in ways that you could never explain to someone who hasn't been through it.  And even though we don't all cosleep, the ones who do feel this extra sense of solidarity.  We sigh in relief when we realize that we're not the only ones.  And even the ones who don't cosleep can usually relate to the feeling that we're all doing at least a few things "wrong".

#6 - IT FEELS CONFINING AT TIMES

Every now and then, it would be nice if we could drop Lu off with a friend or family member for the night.  But it's almost impossible to do when your baby is used to cosleeping.  It's one of the many reasons we'll eventually need to transition her into her own space (although I'm trying not to think about it)!

#7 - IT'S ADDICTING AFTER A WHILE

Regardless of the hard parts of cosleeping, it's the best feeling when I climb into bed at night and Lu rolls over to wrap her arms around me.  I love her smell and her little heartbeat against my skin.  And I love how she seems so comfortable and at peace.  I know when she's with me that she feels really, truly safe and it's the best feeling I could possibly describe.  And if I could go back in do it all again, I wouldn't change a thing.

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If you have any questions about our experience cosleeping I'd love to talk more about it!  Just leave a comment or submit a contact request and I'll get back to you as soon as possible :)

With love,

Lace

*IMPORTANT NOTE: This is NOT a recommendation to cosleep or bedshare.  It's just my personal experience.   Current safety guidelines recommend keeping babies in your room for the first year but not in your bed.  Also, it's important to keep in mind all the risk factors association with cosleeping and infant deaths.  If you're interested in bedsharing, just do your research on how to do it in the safest possible way.  Good luck mama!

*Photography Credit*

The image(s) featured in this article were captured by Pineland Photography.

Beach Essentials for Older Babies

Hey mommas,

Are you ready to hit the beach this summer?!  We are!  Especially now that Luna is toddling around.  I'm already imagining her squealing as she runs from the waves and tossing sand in the air ... probably right on top of me!

I don't want anything to ruin our summer fun ... like accidentally forgetting something we really need.  That's where this list comes in handy.  You already know the everyday things to pack (diapers, wipes, bottles) but here are 8 extra beach essentials for older babies:

A CUTE SWIMSUIT

Here are two reasons for your baby to suit up this summer:  First, it helps protect baby's sensitive skin from the harsh summer sun.  Second, babies in bathing suits are just really cute. 

swim diapers

I've been known to take Luna into the water in a regular diaper ... and it always ends with little bits of gel all over the place!  That's why I use swim diapers now.  They're specially designed to go in the water and you'll be thankful you have them when it's time to leave!

A BEACH TENT

A classic umbrella is great but a beach tent offers even more shade.  It's a good "home base" where your baby can enjoy a snack, take a nap, or have a few minutes of quiet play time.

SUNSCREEN

Most doctors don't recommend sunscreen for babies under 6 months.  After that, your little one should be wearing it on a daily basis - and especially at the beach!  To make things easy, skip the lotion and go straight for the spray.  Just be sure to cover your little one's eyes and reapply every 30 minutes or so!

A MINI FAN

Your sweet babe will probably get cranky from the heat at some point.  A battery-operated mini fan will help cool her down ... and you, too!

SAND TOYS

Pick up a small pail and shovel before heading to the beach.  Even if your little one isn't building castles yet, she'll probably have fun banging on the pail and throwing sand inside!

A TOWEL

Bring an extra towel just for baby.  Use it to dry her off, cover her shoulders while she plays, and bundle her up when it's nap time!

A WOVEN TOTE

Mommas, this one is for you.  Because if you have to lug your baby's things around anyway, you might as well look good doing it!

Swimsuit | Swim Diapers | Beach Tent | Mini Fan | Sunscreen | Sand Toys | Beach Towel | Tote | Swim Trunks

Who else is heading to the beach with your babes this summer?  Do you pack anything special that I haven't thought of? I'd love to hear your ideas in the comments below!

Happy Beaching!

Lace

 

Luna's 1st Birthday Party

Hi everyone!

On Sunday, we hosted Luna's first birthday party at a local park.  Friends and family came from all over to celebrate our sweet girl's big day and I was so happy with how it all turned out!

For the last few months, I've been planning all the little details for the party. I wanted it to be simple and sweet .... a white tablecloth, pale pink plates, white porcelain platters, and a sparkly gold unicorn cake topper.  Even though I knew exactly what I wanted, it took a lot of effort (and trips to Hobby Lobby) to bring all the elements together.

It also took a lot of people to make it happen!  I'm so thankful for all the help we received from so many different people.  Like ... see those beautiful floral arrangements?  My mother-in-law made them just for the party!

Another thing that was a group effort?  The cake!  It was my first time making a tiered cake and it was so. much. fun!  My mom mixed all the batter while I was greasing the pans.  Then I baked, stacked, and iced the layers.  My friend Caroline made the unicorn cake topper and my mother-in-law added the final touches with the florals.  If you love this cake as much as I do, let me know in the comments and I can post instructions for how to make it!

Did I mention that this was my first time EVER hosting a party and it was for 40+ people?!  So intimidating!  Even with all my planning, things were a little chaotic on the actual day of the party.  Luckily, several people showed up early to get everything in place while my husband watched Lu back at the house!  We also added a few finishing touches, like hanging the photo display (my friend Skyler's idea) and adding simple high chair decorations (courtesy of Caroline):

This was actually my husband's high chair when he was little.  All these years later, my mother-in-law was still holding onto it.  I was so glad we were able to incorporate it into the party - it was perfect for Luna's (cup)cake smash!

Speaking of, is it bad that I was a little bit happy that Luna was mostly disinterested in the cupcake?!  I was so anxious that she would LOVE it and never want to eat anything else ever again - but that wasn't the case at all!  She was actually way more interested in the fresh strawberries than anything else.  Still, I owe my mom a huge thank you for picking up a dairy-free cupcake just for Lu on her big day!  Otherwise, we might've needed to hang a Don't Feed the Baby sign around her neck to keep well-intentioned guests from giving her the full-dairy version everyone else was eating!

All in all, the party was so much fun ... although it did require a little damage control afterwards. There are a lot of things you CAN control when you're hosting a party and a few things you can't.  As much as I love our friends and family, there are some big personalities in the mix that resulted in a few hurt feelings.   But in the end, I hope that the good outweighed the few tense moments and everyone had fun.  I know I did!

With Love,

Lace

P.S. How gorgeous are these unicorn and rainbow cookies?!  My friend Skyler made them from scratch as favors for our guests!  I'll be interviewing her about her home-based cookie business in the next few months so stay posted for more mouthwatering cookie snaps!