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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.  My number one priority was a healthy delivery. But if I'm completely honest, I *really* hoped for a natural childbirth. 

It's not that I'm against epidurals - I had one when Luna was born! But so many things went wrong. Afterwerwards, I felt a lot of guilt about my decision to accept the epidural. It felt like I had risked my baby’s life for my own benefit. Maybe that was the wrong way to think about it. Epidurals help so many people! And I’m not judging anyone for accepting one. But at the end of the day there are risks and I spent a lot of time worrying that something would go wrong again.

On the other hand, it’s scary to think about giving birth without meds! 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!  And Stella was 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. 

At my last appointment, my 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.  For the first time, he mentioned the possibility of an induction.

So many things were running through my mind as I left the office that day.  I didn’t want to be induced. I knew it would increase the chances that I would need an epidural and again … I was just scared! But also …. I would do anything for our sweet babe. If the doctor said we needed to go through with it, that’s what I would do.

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, they offered me a wheelchair but I turned it down. It sounds crazy but I felt the same way for both of my deliveries - if I couldn’t walk into the hospital on my own, how could I ever push a baby out? So that’s what I did - I walked to Labor & Delivery, pausing every few seconds for another contraction to pass.

The door to L& D stays locked but there’s no nurse at the window. Instead, they use a security camera + intercom. Kris hit the button and told them why we were there just as I knelt down to have a contraction. The nurse was confused - she kept saying he wasn’t on the list. She thought his wife was already inside when really I was just out of view on the camera! It took a minute but someone finally came out to help him and that’s when they realized what was going on.

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. When I’m in pain, I try not to overreact. But also, I was in A LOT of pain by that point and the nurse could tell. “Let's get you to triage," she 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.  I could have stretched my arms out and (almost) touched both walls at the same time!

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.

There was a bathroom right next to my triage room - they sent us in so I could change into my gown before they checked me. I tried to pee but I was in so much pain by that point. I was shaking so hard I couldn’t stand anymore.

The nurse was banging on the door for us to come out. They half-carried me back to the room and I remember being crouched next to the bed. I was terrified I was going to deliver our baby on the hospital floor. And yet, the rational part of my brain still thought … there’s NO way I’m that close.

Kris lifted me onto the bed and 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.

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 20minutes 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. Everything was going to be okay …

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've never felt anything like it. 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 other than a few prenatal yoga videos. 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.  

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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. Kris checked the card left by the nurse.  It said 6:47 a.m.

We'd been at the hospital maybe 30 minutes.

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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 :)

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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. It was a kind of pain I didn’t know humans were capable of surviving. 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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With love,

Lace & co.

The Great Debate Over Baby #2

Hey mommas,

The other day someone asked me a BIG question:

When are you going to have another baby? 

It made me laugh because around our house we've been asking ourselves the same thing! 

If it was up to my husband, we'd already be trying.  And these days, I'm right there with him!  We survived the first year of parenthood and have this bright, beautiful, happy toddler to show for it.  Luna is almost 15 months and it's the BEST age.  She's fun and playful and so willing to help out and I honestly can't get enough of her.  And that makes me want to have more kids right this second!

But I also have a lot of fears.  I remember the struggles from that first year so wellAnd while I might be overthinking things, having another baby is a big decision.  You know?

That's where our great debate comes into play.  Or ... I guess it's just MY great debate.  Because let's be honest, Kris knows what he wants and he's just waiting for me to make up my mind.  So what's really going on in my head right now?  For starters ...

I'm nervous about the pregnancy part.

Oh man, pregnancy was rough for me the first time around.  I lost nearly ten pounds and burst capillaries in my face from throwing up so much - and that was just the beginning!  There's also delivery and recovery to get through.  And this time around, I'll have to do it all while caring for an active toddler.  How do other moms do it?!?!

And then there's the newborn stage.

I love love love being a mom.  But those first few months are just plain hard.  You're tired and emotional and overwhelmed from all the changes.  Your marriage goes into crisis mode from the stress and sex is off the table.  And then there's breastfeeding.  It was so much harder than I expected!  Hopefully it'll all be easier next time around but I'm still a little anxious about it.

It'll be a big change for our firstborn.

I know, I know.  Other people have multiple children all the time and their firstborns somehow get through it.  But I'm so sensitive to Luna's feelings!  I never want her to feel unloved or pushed aside.  And right now, it's easy to be patient with her.  But what about when baby #2 comes along?  Will I still be able to keep it together when she's having a bad day?

But we want a big family.

And that means at some point Luna will have to go through that transition into big sisterhood.  And actually, it might not be so bad!  She's so caring and snuggly and I can imagine her being a little helper.  In the short term, it might be rough but I think we'll all be that much happier in the long run.

And we're not getting any younger.

Plenty of people have babies into their late thirties and forties - that's totally fine!  But as you get older, there are additional medical considerations that come into play.  And I'm a natural worrier - I'd rather keep things as uncomplicated as possible.  And that means the sooner the better when it comes to having more kids.

THERE'S A CATCH.

And that's my husband's job.  He does a lot of traveling - sometimes for long periods of time - and it makes planning a little bit harder.  Would I rather deal with morning sickness alone or risk going into labor alone?  Or would we rather put off baby #2 altogether for longer than either of us anticipated?  It's a tough decision and one that we'll have to make sooner rather than later. 

Final verdict:

I still have a few reservations but it miiiiiight be time to seriously consider baby #2.  I'll make sure to keep you posted :)

With love,

Lace

P.S. What are your thoughts on having more kids?  Do you have a timeline in mind?  What are your fears about it?   And if you already have more than one child, how do you manage it?!?!  Let me know in the comments below!

*Photography Credit*

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

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.

10 Simple Ways to Brighten Your Day

Hi everyone!

Do you ever wake up and feel off?   Everything is fine but you're just not feeling it.  Sometimes a bad day is just that ... a bad day!  But it doesn't have to stay that way.  Try these 10 simple ways to brighten your day:

1. OPEN THE WINDOWS

Throw open the windows in your house or roll them down in your car.  A little fresh air will go a long way towards making you feel better.

2. TURN ON THE RADIO

If you only have time for one song, make it River by Leon Bridges.  Or Carry Me Through by Dave Barnes.  It's like pushing the reset button on your soul.  And if you're looking for a full playlist, keep an eye out for our Better Days Playlist which is coming soon!

3. DETOX WITH SPA WATER

I'm a brownies-for-breakfast kind of girl.  But I try to steer clear of mood-crashing sugar on rough days.  Instead, I make a pitcher of detox water for breakfast.  Then I pour it into a wine glass, close my eyes, and pretend I'm hanging out at the spa for a few minutes :)

Quick Recipe:  Combine ice, water, mint cucumber, and lemon in a pretty pitcher!

4. TRY LUXURY HAND SOAP

Am I crazy for including soap on this list?  Maybe.  But I swear I feel happier every time I use Pecksniff's England Rose & Peony Hand Wash.  I found it at my local T.J. Maxx for super cheap and it smells so. freaking. good!

5. BUY FRESH FLOWERS

For under $5, you can purchase a sweet multi-colored bouquet from your local grocery store that will brighten your day (and the rest of your week)!  Just snip the ends and place them in clean water to keep them fresh.

6. SIGN OFF SOCIAL MEDIA

Have you ever heard the quote "Comparison is the thief of joy"?  Social media makes it so easy to compare ourselves to other people!  Try signing off for a day or two and let yourself focus on real life for a while. 

7. GO FOR A WALK

Skip the gym today and take a walk outside instead.  It will feel less like a chore and more like a much-needed recharging.  I actually take a walk every single day for my sanity's sake :)

8. TAKE AN EPSON SALT BATH

Our muscles tense up when we're feeling moody.  A warm Epsom salt bath will help your body (and your mind) relax.  It's worth it, even if you have to wake up a few minutes early or go to bed a little later to make it happen.

9. HUG SOMEONE YOU LOVE

Hugging is proven to make us happier.  It makes us feel more connected to the people we care about and significantly reduces our stress levels.  I knew this long before I ever read a study on it.  In fact, I give my husband and baby and family ridiculous amounts of hugs on a regular basis.  So snuggle up to someone you love and hold on tight.

10. WASH YOUR LINENS

If the day is almost over and you're still not feeling it, strip the sheets and pillowcases from your bed and toss them in the wash.   It feels so good to snuggle into freshly laundered linen after a long day.  Breathe in the soothing scent of your detergent and know that tomorrow is bound to be a better day.

With love,
Lace