Halloween 2017

Halloween has been a special tradition in our family since I was a kid. I’ve always looked forward to the fun of dressing up, eating too much candy, and picking out the perfect pumpkin at the pumpkin patch.

Michael and I have started our own traditions throughout the years. We have some friends in Southern California that host the most elaborate street gathering of chaotic Halloween goodness every year. For many years in the past I have played the “Queen of Halloween” witch role. This year it was time to pass the torch so I could enjoy Mar girls first Halloween and tend to her needs.

Michael and I decided to take a week of PTO and fly south for the last week of October. It was so fun to take the little chick on her first flight and spend a week with family in Michaels hometown. We didn’t want to anybody hyped up on seeing us should we have to bail out last minute. Therefore, we kept our itinerary hush-hush and only filled in 2 gate keepers on our hope to appear at the Halloween bash. We weren’t sure on a 3 hour car ride and how Miss Pickles would do while we were in town. Besides, surprises are way more fun! Miss Pickles did great on the flight and even better on the car ride down south. She slept the whole 3 hour ride from SLO to LA. WHAT LUCK!

We made a highlight video to show you some of the fun things we did while on the central coast and in LA. It sure is nice to “SLO down” every once in a while. We even snuck out for a date just the two of us while Miss Pickles snuggled the afternoon away with Grandma. The wine was good and the company was better.

Roloff Farms 2017

One of my favorite things in life is to create traditions. When Michael and I got married we started doing yearly things as a family like carving pumpkins and going to Alegria Street. Now that we have a little one the traditions we’ve created over the years have so much more meaning. We love sharing special moments with our little lady. This year we dragged some of our favorite PNW friends down to Roloff Farms for a fun filled day sharing our tradition and exploring the farm. We had a great time on the most beautiful fall day of all. We’re looking forward to making more memories as the years pass and our family grows. Enjoy our highlight video from our first family road trip and pumpkin patch extravaganza!

Ps. We survived 2 blow outs… (and even changed one on a hay bail). No one can poop on our pumpkin parade.. not even Miss Pickles

Pump the Jam, Pump it up!

It was my first week back at work and WOOF was it a doozie!!! I’m so glad I took PTO today so I can spend time with Miss Pickles and tend to her after her two month doctors appointment. Miss pickles got her first set of vaccines today and she took it like a champ. We’re watching her hoping she doesn’t get a fever and soaking in all of the baby snuggles. I love this little lady with my whole heart. I can’t imagine not being there for her appointments and I’m so grateful I have a work schedule that allows for me to be flexible for times like these.

I had a hard time last Sunday before returning to work. So hard, all I could do was distract myself. I created a million lists and organized the house. I tried my hardest to pretend Monday wouldn’t come. What do you know? Monday came anyway. More on Monday later. Sunday was full of tear festivals and weep shows. I did manage to be productive and get a few things done. I went to JoAnns Fabric to get a few things I need for her Halloween costume and organized lots of random things in our house. One of the places I organized was the cabinet under my sink. I pulled out a ton of stuff to throw away including an old pregnancy test box. If you remember the story from last November, I wanted to surprise Mr with the news so I stashed the test box under some stuff in the cabinet so he wouldn’t find it. Clearly I did a good job hiding it because almost a year later I’m just now discovering it.

So back to the trash can. I threw all sorts of trash away and went on with my day. A few hours later Mr. was up in our bathroom and I was downstairs nursing the baby. All of a sudden I hear quick movement coming from upstairs and I peeked around the corner to see his face in complete shock. “YOU TOOK A PREGNANCY TEST?!?” he said. I laughed so hard and explained that it was old. I now know where we stand on baby #2….

Monday wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. My co-workers were all really excited to see me and welcomed me back with hugs, high fives, and sweet sentiments. The biggest win? I didn’t cry! I was thrown back in full swing and didn’t have much time to think about missing the little one. I had lots to get done including lots of troubleshooting to get access to all of my systems again. Monday came and went with a blink. The rest of the week kicked my ass so hard. I knew being away from the little lady would be difficult and thought that would be the only challenge. Oh boy, was I wrong!

One of the hardest things about going back to work has been pumping. I’ve had a HECK of a time pumping. I find it frustrating and troublesome. I find the pump to be a chore. It feels time consuming and an inconvenience. I do my best to be productive while I am pumping and take my computer with me to my private room. I’m able to get work done which is nice, but the set up and clean up tasks are SO cumbersome. I also have struggled to produce enough to keep Maryn satisfied during the day. I know I don’t have enough freezer stash built up and we’re just all around struggling. It’s been a difficult transition to say the least.

With that said, I have started to find a rhythm. A few things have helped me get in the groove of pumping.

First, having a room to leave things set up in has been helpful. I’m able to leave a water bottle, the pump hooked up and plugged in, and have everything aside from the parts that get refrigerated in between feedings ready to go. This significantly improves my productivity pumping. Although I am able to work while I’m pumping it makes my time away much less.

I also discovered that a hands free nursing bra is LIFE. I’ve been wearing a tank top under my shirt so I can easily, quickly, and discretely hook up. I have a private room (duh) but it still feels weird to be at work and pump. Having an outfit that is quite literally entirely covered up makes it a little easier for me to relax.

I also found that pumping during my commute is AWESOME. I’m able to hook up in the car on the way to the office and get the first good haul while I’m in transit. AMAZING! I haven’t had any weird looks yet…

I also found that keeping a Tide Pen, paper towels, and hand sanitizer in my nursing bag is really helpful. The Tide Pen is helpful when I drip milk (it stains) unhooking. The other stuff is self explanatory.

Finally I learned that setting a timer is the most important thing. Keeping a schedule has helped me build back up my supply so I can keep the baby satisfied while I am away. I have a timer that goes off every 2 hours. I labeled my timers “Pump It Up!” I haven’t been able to keep up with my two hour plan, but I have been able to maintain a decent schedule.

The final thing that has made it a little easier is taking a picture with her before I leave each morning. There’s something comforting about looking at a picture of the two of us together during the day. It tricks my mind into knowing the days are short by simply wearing the same outfit I have on in the picture. It makes my time away from her feel just a tad bit shorter.

Being a working mama is NOT easy. It’s also not the end of the world. I’ve learned to give myself grace during this difficult time. I’ve had to skip the gym, eat cold leftovers, and race between meetings/multitask like a CHAMP…but I’m doing it. I’m learning… and growing…and being stretched beyond belief. 8 weeks is NOT ENOUGH TIME FOR MATERNITY LEAVE!!!!!!!!! But, we’re figuring it out. I am grateful for an amazing husband that gives the lady his undivided attention during the day. He sends lots of pictures and tells me their plans and status throughout the day. The best part is coming home to a happy husband and a happy lady.

Coping with Disappointment

As I prepare to go back to work on Monday disappointment has been at the forefront of my mind and an emotion weighing heavy on my heart. Learning to manage my disappointment is hard. Really really hard.

I had a conversation a few days back with a dear friend of mine about the expectations we set for ourselves as mamas, often times high and unrealistic, that lead to our own disappointment. Sometimes that disappointment manifests itself in unexpected ways such as crying in the middle supermarket over having to make a decision that is “best of the worst case scenarios”.

This conversation got me thinking… I’ve had a lot of time to think with the baby on the boob… as I work through all of the emotions that come with being a working mama.

I am a planning kind of gal as I’m sure many of you can relate. I love my calendars and schedules. I like to have goals and objectives and lists. Oh the lists. I KNOW I’m not the only one out there that writes to-do lists and adds completed tasks just to cross them off.

Get out of bed.

Brush teeth.

Drink coffee.

Drink more coffee.

Brush teeth again.

Go to work.

Drink more coffee.

Anyway, as I was saying.. I’m a planner. I like to have an idea of how things are going to go. I’m the type of gal that thinks about all of the things I need to accomplish in a day and then places the puzzle pieces together so that they make complete sense. I really pride myself on being efficient because wasting time is one of my biggest pet peeves. If I need to drive across town to pick something up, I’ll strategically plan 3 stops along the way to make the most of my time (and my gas because mamas on a budget!!) Planning keeps my sanity. Most of the time.

Most of the time a plan helps me stay organized and get things done in a logical and wise way. The downfall is learning to manage the disappointment that comes with failing plans.

Several things come to mind. First, the last 8 weeks I’ve had to cope with the fact that I had a medicated childbirth. I had high hopes of a “natural” (yuck yuck yuck) child birth. It wasn’t until I started following a gal on Instagram (Sarah, over at The Dainty Pear) and her thoughts on child birth that made me a little less frustrated with the outcome of our story. Sarah says something so empowering about childbirth that I wish everyone knew. She says “all birth is natural” and encourages us to refer to what many call a “natural” birth as “unmedicated” birth instead. This simple shift in language gave me so much peace about my (more than) 48 hour birth story. Before labor, my goal, was to have an intervention free birth. I am tired of hearing that I don’t need to prove anything and there’s no need to be a hero. It was never about proving anything or being a hero. It was a choice, I consciously made, with my husband, about my body, and our baby. It was a hope we had and wanted for our story. I tried to tell myself that epidural aren’t the devil and should I need one in birth I wouldn’t be disappointed in myself. As much as I tried to prepare for multiple different outcomes, and did a lot of work to avoid disappointment, deep down, I knew I would be disappointed. Sure enough. There I was. Mid labor, body horribly failing me, and struggling to manage disappointment. It sounds crazy 8 weeks out to still be struggling processing this. I know my baby is safe, and healthy, and here… and I know that’s what matters. But what also mattered to me was having an intervention free birth. When people say “all that matters is x, y, or z” it makes me feel like even more of a failure, like of course that’s what matters MOST. But guess what ALSO MATTERED to me was having an unmedicated birth. Trying to diminish my feelings is hurtful, even though I know that’s not the intent.

It got me thinking. What if we started saying “I know it was important for you to have an unmedicated birth. I’m sorry it didn’t go the way you wanted. I’m proud of you for loving your baby and honoring your body the way you did. You’re a rockstar mama and I’m proud of you”

What if we all learned to be more mindful starting with our words? It’s hard, and I’m the first to say.. I fail miserably at this… every day.

At CrossFit the other day a girlfriend of mine asked me a question that really touched me. She explained that she has a girlfriend (outside of our CrossFit community) that is having a really hard time managing unmet expectations. She was a passionate careeer woman who, like many of us, dedicated so much of her life toward her career and her success. She wasn’t the type of woman that imagined herself being a stay at home mom and did not imagine being hugely disappointed when it was time for her to return to work after having her baby. While, I expected the disappointment, there are so many parts of this narrative I can relate to. I’ve dedicated my whole adult life to achieving success in the work world and my job became so much of my identity. This friend of mine asked me what she should say to her friend. She wanted to know what I would want to hear if I were in that situation. Guess what? I AM in that situation.

My immediate thought? IF WE ALL COULD BE THIS MINDFUL! I explained all I want to hear from my friends is that they’re praying for me and they love me. I encouraged her to keep it simple and to remind her friend that she’s there for her and thinking of her during this extremely difficult transition.

I’m going back to work on Monday. I don’t want to hear that women do this all the time. I don’t want to hear that it’s not as bad as I think it is. I don’t want to hear “at least Maryn will be with Michael.” And I most certainly don’t want to hear “at least you had 8 weeks of maternity leave!”

I’m disappointed. I’m sad. I’m processing! This would not be our choice of plans. I know without a shadow of a doubt that the best of the worst case scenarios is that Michael is able to be home with her. Don’t be turned off that I call this a worst case scenario. We BOTH wanted it to be me. We know it’s great that it’s one of us that gets to be with her. It doesn’t make my disappointment and sadness any less. I want to be with her. I want to be home. I’m going to have a REALLY hard time going back. I know women do this all the time, I know I can handle it, I know it will get better, I know it’s great that Michael gets to be with her, and I know I got 8 weeks of maternity leave. Makes it NO. LESS. HARD. What helps is knowing that my tribe is praying for me and that I have a lot of people on my team that don’t make me feel like shit for being disappointed. What is also great? It’s great to not be told my feelings don’t matter. Essentially by saying “at least x, y, or z didn’t happen” is saying that persons feelings aren’t valid.

Giving my disappointment to God is hard. I pray through it multiple times a day.

A few things are keeping me afloat right now.

A few weeks ago Michael had me listen to this new Thomas Rhett song. Hello hormones, I sobbed my way through it. There is a line that is SO INCREDIBLY relatable. He says, “you make your plans and you hear God laughing, life changes!” Oh goodness how this speaks to my soul! (All of this is true BTW– Thomas and his wife Lauren adopted a baby from Uganda and then had a bio baby too. Cray. Beautiful. Tears. Yikes. Love. Wow. Tears). Oh how life changes. I love country music. Please go listen to that song. It’s so good!

I also have been reminded of my favorite verse Jeremiah 29:11 which says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” This verse has shown up in the most unexpected and beautiful ways throughout my life. As I prepare to go back to work I am reminded that God did not miss or forget this part of the story. I must thank my beautiful friend for reminding me about this simple truth. God has a plan, and He has been preparing me for it my whole life. And somehow He loves Maryn more than we do. For some reason, all of this is just the way God designed it to be. I must confess, my faith in this narrative is not as strong as it should be.

God, give me grace and help me trust you more. Your plan is greater than mine.

Recovery

I was so relieved to have my baby back in my room. After a sushi feast we finally were able to rest.

The nursing staff came in multiple times to check on both of us. I had no idea what the birth aftermath would be like. I was sore, my back was incredibly swollen and in pain from my epidural site and my leg was still numb. I felt puffy…and gross… and like I would never feel like myself again.

The first night we were able to sleep quite well. Maryn had to get her second round of antibiotics at 4:00 in the morning. She took it like a champ. I nursed her, and we all went back to sleep. The next few days were full of antibiotics, medical staff visits, and phone calls. We were a happy little family of 3. I did NOT want to leave the comfort of the hospital. I felt so safe. Every time I thought about discharge I cried.

On Monday it was time for me to get discharged, but Maryn was still a patient. We stayed in the room together and rested. Each nap I took I woke up completely drenched in sweat. It didn’t stop me from enjoying sweet baby snuggles. We had to carefully protect the IV on her foot so we were always using extra caution.

While we waited Maryn’s discharge we had two special visitors… my original doula who was back from vacation, and our dear friend who works at the hospital. Having familiar faces with us sparked a bit of confidence in me and I started to feel like I could indeed do this outside of the hospital walls.

As the hours passed Michael would comment about how excited he was to get home. I would have stayed in the hospital 2 more weeks if they would have let me. Maryn was progressing and all signs looked like we would be released after her last antibiotic treatment on Tuesday afternoon/evening. Her pediatrician did rounds, the hearing specialist came in to test her hearing, and we met with the Lactation Consultant several more times. Our LC is awesome! She is not only a former NICU nurse (and helped us understand a ton of stuff about Maryn’s breathing) but she also scheduled me for an hour long follow up appointment to check in on BF and invited me to the moms group every week. She is a brilliantly wonderful woman and a wealth of knowledge. I’m so grateful to have her on my team.

After Maryns final antibiotic treatment the nursing staff was FINALLY able to take out her yucky IV. We were SO glad to have that thing gone. Her foot was finally free!!! She was also able to be properly swaddled (with her foot inside) AND get her first bath. YAY! Everyone always talks about the “newborn” smell. It broke my heart and made me cry because my baby smelled like antibiotics (musky) coming out of her pores. She has never really had that “newborn” smell. I thought it was urine at first and asked the nurse why she was so stinky. The nurse giggled said she just needed her first bath. When she took Maryns swaddle off she explained that I was smelling the antibiotics leaving her pores. Poor baby. I was so excited for her to get cleaned up.

On Tuesday afternoon we packed up our belongings, signed a crap ton of papers, got our girl dressed in her “coming home uni”, and headed home. I cried. Uncontrollably. How could they send us home? They cautioned us about her breathing and told us once again about all of the signs of respiratory distress. It felt so weird to leave. I wasn’t ready!

The nurse buckled her into her car seat and walked us to the door. I remember having a hard time keeping up as they wheeled the cart out and I hobbled along behind. My leg was still numb, my lady parts felt like they were dragging on the floor behind me, and my stomach jiggled like a half full water balloon. We loaded up all of our goodies. They clipped off our security bands and Maryn’s alarm. They waved us farewell and off we went.

Cloth Diapering

Hi friends! Several of you who follow my personal Instagram have asked about our journey cloth diapering (CD). I figured I would write about our experience here and maybe inspire a few of you interested yet scared to commit folks to give it a try. It will also be helpful to have this documented for myself should we ever decide to have a second.

First, let me say, I had to do a lot of work to convince Mr. M into cloth diapers. One of his biggest concerns was the wash routine… and I get it! That’s something you don’t have to worry about with disposables (call them disposables not “regular” diapers. CDs are “regular” too.) So how did I convince him? By doing my research, having a plan, and “selling” him on all of the benefits.

What research did I do? Well, I talked to my friends who have CD before me. My sister in law has been the BEST resource so far along with my girlfriend Christie a CD mama of TWO! These two women have answered a ton of questions for me. NOTE: I learned throughout pregnancy to not Google things. There is just way too much conflicting information out there and it stressed this mama out hard. Instead, I talk to my mom friends. (I also take advice from my two doulas, my midwife, our pediatrician, and our FABULOUS lactation consultant) outside of that I limit my Google searches to cat videos and crock pot recipes. It saves my sanity! If you’re into Googling things.. have at it! There’s a shit ton of info on CD. Good luck! As for myself, it’s just too much. I really focus on keeping it simple. My sister in law shared a few really great YouTube videos and Christie invited me to a Cloth Diapering Facebook page! I use the Facebook page sparingly because it’s an overwhelmingly large amount of info. Once my research was done I decided on a CD brand, made some purchases, and got to work.

We decided on pocket cloth diapers. Another mama friend of mine, Brenna, did a ton of research and also decided on pocket diapers too and recommended the brand Alva due to the cost/benefit/reviews she read online. She did the research, I trust her advice! We got a combo of Alva diapers and Bumgenius brands. I stuck with all solid colors because that’s what I like. I also purchased packs that are “gender neutral” because… I’m FRUGAL! More on that to come!

I purchased 2 packs of Alva CDs from Amazon with money we were gifted from family and our Bumgenius CDs were gifted by some friends. I also purchased reusable wipes and bamboo inserts from Amazon. In total, we have about 20 pocket diapers.

Why pocket? Because they’re easy and budget friendly!

What do you do?

To prep: First, find the right size for the “rise”. We have the smallest setting for our gal right now and snap them up. You don’t need to unsnap the rise each time you wash. This is only done the first time and whenever the babe grows. Then, stuff an insert in the pocket. I took my SILs advice and do this at night while the babe is asleep. It’s brainless work and can be done while zoning out. Brings a new meaning to Netflix and Chill.

To put them on: I found a great YouTube video that helped me understand what to do. Baby is happy, so are mama and papa!

To change a soiled CD: We use reusable wipes too and this is the most important part. This might seem crazy but let me explain. Being able to throw everything in one rubbish bin at the end of a changing is HUGE. Having to sort out soiled wipes from the pile of crap sounds like no fun to me. How do we do the wipes? Simple. Spray bottle with water. Spray the wipe and take it to the bum! We spray right before every change sesh. That eliminates having to prep wipes, avoids moldy situations, and all around saves time. After the change all you do is remove the soiled insert and toss it all in the rubbish bin. Note: rubbish bin has a reusable insert. This is also key!

To wash: I dump all of the soiled diapers (exclusively breast fed poops) straight from the rubbish bin into the washing machine along with the bag. We wash on a rinse and spin cycle on hot water with a tiny bit of detergent. When that cycle is done I add in a bunch of other laundry.. anything I want! At this point, there’s no crap! I promise. Wash with a normal amount of detergent and a matching amount of OxyClean. I wash on cold for the second round because often times I’ve thrown in my own clothes. My clothes are exclusively cold wash. The shell (outer layer) gets hung to dry. Breast milk poop stains. The diapers ARE NOT dirty! It’s not bad, but it does stain. To remove the stain? Hang them in the sun to dry. Live in the PNW? Hang them in your laundry room and get over the stains! The inserts, bag, and wipes all go in the dryer.

How often do we plan to wash? About every 3 days.

Does it stink? Not when they’re in the rubbish bin.

Are we exclusively CD? Nope! That would be stressful! We have plenty of disposables on hand. Sometimes disposables make sense… like traveling. We like to say we’re a “hybrid” family. Keeps us grounded 😉 haha…

Why do we have 2 rubbish bins? One is for CD one for disposables. The disposable bin (the smaller one) has disposable liners. The CD bin has reusable liners.

Why bamboo inserts? Well, microfiber feels yucky on my hands when I’m stuffing them. Haha. Okay that’s not the only reason but it sure is true. Bamboo inserts have killer reviews for absorbency. We’ve used double stuffed microfiber (aka 2 microfiber in one shell) and bamboo (just 1). Both work for our lady. Even overnight. At this point we haven’t had any leaks with either microfiber or bamboo. Note: microfiber come with the shell. Bamboo is an additional cost kinda like an upgrade of heated seats in your car. In my opinion both bamboo inserts and heated seats are nonnegotiable upgrades. (I swear I’m frugal!! #balance)

What about butt cream? Yep! It matters. Has to be CD safe. We like what we call “bum chapstick“. Her butt was a red, tender, and rashy mess with disposables. After switching to CD not only has she not blown out of ONE single CD (a daily occurrence with disposables) but her bum looks clear and perfect!

What happens when she eats solids? We have a plan for that too. Check back in a few months!

Why hang the shell dry? Well I read it make the elastic last longer. Remember I’m cheap :-). I don’t want to buy more in the off chance that the dryer weathers them. I know a few families that dry the shell in the dryer. They recommend a low heat setting to prolong the life of the CD.

What do you do when you’re out and about for the day? Well, I have the diaper bag packed with disposables. M wears CDs out of the house and if she needs to be changed while we’re out we have a wet bag to store the dirty CD until we’re home. We also don’t scoff one bit about slapping a disposable on. It’s rare our day to day adventures are so ambitious that we have to do a diaper change anyway.

Cloth diaper overnight? Yep! No leaks yet.

What about fitting that fluff butt into clothes? Yep. Stuffed sausage. Just like her mama. If it bugs you, size up. Most often her clothes fit. Not sure if that’s just because our 7 week old chunky monkey is already in 3mo clothes? But 3mo clothes fit her fluff butt… some are just more sausage like than others.

When to start? I was planing on 3 months. That’s when the baby is big enough to fill out a CD and avoid the newborn sizing challenges and potential frustrations. It also saves from having to buy special newborn CDs. There was so much happening in the beginning (first 10 days really) I didn’t want to frustrate myself and end up giving up. After talking to a few mamas (and our LC) at our moms group I decided to start sooner than I anticipated (6 weeks) because our lady is a chunky monkey and size wise, was perfectly ready to start. I dedicated an entire week to figure out our CD routine and promised myself if it didn’t go well I wouldn’t throw in the towel right away. I expected a lot of trial and error. Turns out, it was an incredibly easy transition and we didn’t have any frustrations when we started a few days ago.

Is Mr. onboard? Yes! All it took was a little pep talk and figuring out all of the details and logistics myself so that I could teach him the ropes.

Why cloth diaper? For the most part.. it comes to finances! It’s so much cheaper even with the initial investment up front. I shopped for deals and found out what makes the most sense for our family. I limited my stash to solid neutral colors so we can use them with multiple children boys or girls. Note: let’s be honest I put black diapers on my baby girl and I’d most certainly put a lavender diaper on a baby boy. I have no shame in that game! There are other huge benefits with my decision to CD, it’s better for her bum, better for the environment and CD babes tend to potty train faster. CDs are also freakishly adorable NOT a driving factor but(t) it’s an added bonus. See what I did there?

I think that’s about it! At the end of the day, we made a choice and you can too! We love our CDs! We also know many families that love their disposables. That’s okay with us… and our decision too CD should be ok with you, too. With that said, if you’re even the slightest bit interested in cloth diapering, but intimidated by the amount of work it seems to be, I’m here to tell you… YOU CAN DO IT. I’d say, over the course of the week it adds maybe 30 extra minutes to our normal routine. That’s a few minutes here, a few minutes there with most of that time being spent stuffing the shell while chatting with the hub or watching Pioneer Woman. The laundry? We have to do it anyway… it’s really not bad. One load every 3 days? Totally manageable! If you’re interested, give it a try! You too can be a hybrid family. It will keep you grounded 😉

Vashon

Mr. Makings parents came to town for a few days and we decided to take our lady out for an adventure. It is my 6th week of maternity leave and while I am SO obsessed with our baby bubble… getting some fresh PNW air sounded really lovely. The weather was perfect so we decided to take advantage of not only the extraordinary weather but also the extra TWO sets of hands. I got a wild hair up my rear and recommended we take a ferry over to Vashon Island for the day. It was a ton of fun and lots of firsts for our little lady including her first boat ride, first raspberry picking, and first stroll around outside of our bubble. I’m POOPED and M had a tough time going to sleep after such a stimulating day… but it was so worth it! Blow out diaper on the boat and all.

F.G. in the House

My mom came to town for a whole week to help out with Maryn girl. It was like heaven. My mom has some pretty significant health issues including a bad back. You would have never known she was in pain… she was running on love and adrenaline! We absolutely loved having her here and are really counting down days until she comes back. Saying goodbye sucked. Sucked bad.

While she was here we went down to the water and took some 3 generation photos! Maryn wore the outfit I wore for my first Thanksgiving. My mom reminded me I was 5 months old wearing this dress. Maryn was a whopping 5 weeks! This little girl is quite sturdy.

Mom spoiled all 3 of us by taking us shopping (a fridge full of groceries for M&M and a haul of clothes for Mini M), she sent me away for an afternoon pedicure sans baby and only sent out the SOS when it was time for her to be hooked up to the boob. She even cooked up a batch of all of our favorite things (cookies, muffins, and banana bread… hello weight gain… woops!) The best treat of all was watching her love on our girl. All of the snuggles and kisses… including the early morning shift so mama and papa could get an extra wink. Mom has a way of getting little to calm down.

If you’re wondering… Micro blew out a diaper all over that beautiful purple dress. We decided she protests hand-me-downs….. spoiled! Luckily we had another cute outfit in the diaper bag and continued our photo shoot!

NICU

I sent text after text to Michael begging him to tell me every little detail about what was happening in the NICU. I must have asked him for updates every 15 seconds. I begged God to protect her and give the medical team wisdom as they helped her breathe clearly on her own.

I was in the labor and delivery room with my doula and nurse. They both kept saying that they were so surprised the NICU team took her. Between texts from Michael and the whirlwind that was happening I finally looked up from my phone long enough to say, “if they had any doubt I was glad they took her in.”

All I knew was that if there was any reason for concern that she wouldn’t breathe clearly I wanted them to fix her quickly and bring her back to me.

Before I went into labor Michael and I communicated our game plan for announcing her arrival with our immediate family. Our plan was that Michael would send a text saying that the baby was born without sharing details. We would then do our golden hour, take care of the logistics, and FaceTime our families to introduce her in person. I had really specific desires to introduce her to the family “in person” (aka over FaceTime). I loved the idea of them getting to know that it’s a girl, what her name is, and see her face all at once. It was so important to me to let people meet MARYN… and for her to become the picture they have in their mind when they think of her rather than imagining who she would be. I wanted her to create her own identity. However, as soon as she was wheeled away to NICU I had a sudden tug on my heart for prayer specifically for HER. I shot off a text to our immediate family that said, “Hi the baby is here it’s a GIRL!!! Please pray she had to go to NICU. She has meconium in her lungs. Michael is with her. Very scary for both of us. More to come!” My announcement of her arrival included for the first time that it’s a GIRL.. much to Michaels surprise. I knew clear as day that I needed our family to pray for HER. (Later that day we discussed the text I sent and he agreed that I made the right decision) It was so so so clear to me that it was the right time to let them know they have a niece/granddaughter. Our team of prayer warriors called upon the Lord for us. I had no doubt that the prayers of peaceful hearts and healing lungs were answered. I felt so much peace knowing that my lady was covered in prayer from the fiercest of prayer warriors I know.

Back in the delivery room my doula forced me to order lunch. I was not hungry. She told me I would be hungry later. I couldn’t even fathom eating at this point. I remember watching a vlog by one of my favorite instagram gals talking about the meal after giving birth was like the meal after running a marathon. I ran a marathon a few years ago and that first meal after the race was heaven! I’ve also heard other mamas talk about how hungry they were after labor. I laughed to myself as all of the things I expected to be… we’re not. I couldn’t imagine eating anything but mustered up the whereabouts to ask her to place an order for stir fry and some rogue sides. She said, “You’ll be glad when it arrives!! You just don’t realize how hungry you are.” I agreed with her and figured that HAD to be true.

Text after text from Michael poured in. He gave me details on her weight (9lbs) and length (20.5inches). He assured me she was doing great and that everyone on the NICU team was googly eyed over our girl. His reassuring texts made me feel a slight bit better. He sent a video of her lungs inhaling and exhaling as well as multiple pictures including one of him holding her!

He spared me from the details of the team ramming tubes down her throat and jabbing her OVER 30 times trying to get an IV started.

Back in my room my food showed up. I drank some of the cranberry juice and had a few bites of mac and cheese… I told you, rogue sides. Food wasn’t appealing. I pushed it to the side as I chatted with my nurse and tried my best to comprehend what was happening. She gathered up our belongings (we didn’t take much with us thank God) and started prepping me for next steps. She explained that they would take me up to the NICU on the way to the recovery room and that she would help me get settled in. My doula gave me a big hug and told me she would keep in touch. It was now just me and Erin and the room felt empty and quiet. It was time to put my phone down and take care of myself. Michael assured me Maryn was stable and just needed to be monitored. He even said the medical team had left the room and she was just hanging out hooked up to the machines while he sat and stared at her.

Erin took out my epidural and showed me the crazy wires that were in my back. She helped me get out of bed and make my way to the restroom. I needed to brush my teeth desperately bad. She loaded up a padsicle for me and slapped that pup right in my mesh undies. I put on a hospital gown… I guess they frown upon roaming through the hallways of the hospital in the buff. Eh. To each his own…

Walking was tricky after my epidural line was removed. Apparently my anesthesiologist hit a nerve because my left leg was numb from my quad to my shin. As I type this my skin is still a bit tingly right over my knee cap. The doctor said it might take a few weeks to heal completely. Not only was my left leg numb but my lady bits felt like they got sent through a meat tenderizer. I was not ready for the PP aftermath. What a crazy experience. I was so thankful for Erin… she coached me on how to care best for my lady bits after birth. It really does take some special attention. L&D nurses ARE MY HEROES!

I made a comment to my nurse that I was so shocked and amazed that I didn’t tear. I did a hair flip as I joked about my rockstar vagina for birthing a 9lb baby without tearing. My nurse, who by this point totally understood my humor and knew she could get away with it, made a snarky comment to me about not bragging about that in the future people might get the wrong impression. We both got a good laugh!

Erin loaded up the wheel chair with our bags and instructed me to take a seat. We headed out of the room and on the way to NICU so I could spend time with Maryn.

The hospital we deliver at does the sweetest thing… every time a baby is born the mother pushes a button on the way to recovery that plays (throughout the whole hospital) the first few notes of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”. Erin asked me if I wanted to have Michael come down to push the button with me. As devastated as I was to do it without my girl in my arms and Michael by my side… I told her I would rather he stay with M in the NICU. I did send him a message and let him know that it would be me pushing the button next. He recoded Maryn listening to the music as I recorded myself pushing it. Cue the first of MANY postpartum tears. I tried to hold them back as Erin wheeled me through the hallways, up elevators, and into the NICU ward.

The NICU was beautiful and so peaceful. I remember feeling so safe and warm in there. Erin rolled me into Maryns room and the nurses took her out of her bed and put her into my arms. It was a perfect moment and I simply couldn’t hold back the tears. I asked Erin for a Kleenex and she had to run out of the room to get me one.

After a few minutes of holding her and admiring her they had to get her back on the monitors and I had to get to the recovery room to get checked in.

I do not remember leaving her room. I think that’s the Lords way of protecting me from that heartache. All I remember after leaving her room was saying goodbye to Erin as the recovery nurses took over and she headed back to L&D. I was texting with Michael and letting him know I was fully admitted and what my room was. He told me that the latest news was that Maryn would likely be released from NICU after they established an IV for an antibiotic. Her white blood cell count was high indicating her body was fighting off an infection so she had to be on an antibiotic. He said as soon as she had that IV she would be with me. Based on the timeline I had I figured the best thing to do would be to rest for a few minutes until she got to the room. I was thinking it would be 30 minutes MAX! The exhaustion had fully set in and I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I fell asleep and woke up over an hour later to quite a few missed texts and SOAKED with sweat. The postpartum sweats were unexpected and terrible. I was trembling again and totally freaked out. I called the nurse and she came in to help. She called back up and several other nurses came in to change my bed sheets, take my temperature and to help me to the restroom. They were worried about my body temperature and my epidural site. I was super swollen and in quite a bit of pain. I still couldn’t feel that section of my left leg and wondered why Maryn hasn’t made it down. Michael said they were on their way and we’re only waiting on her discharge orders. I took a super hot shower as the nurse helped me wash my body and put a hospital gown back on. I’ve never felt so thankful to have help in my life! PP stuff has taught me to ask for and accept help with open arms. That shower was the best thing that happened to me (other than meeting Maryn) in over a week! The shakes were so bad but I was glad to be back in bed. The nurse also gave me a heating pack for my back and an ice pack for my vag. Heaven! My low body temp, uncontrollable shaking, and sweats were attributed to the hormones. Ugh. Whatever!

The text I had been waiting for finally came! THEY WERE ON THEIR WAY!!! I got out of bed and opened the door. I hobbled with bare feet in my hospital gown like a pegged leg pirate down the hall holding back tears of joy as I saw the NICU nurse, Michael, and my girl in her carriage turn the corner. The nurse gave us a ton of information about her IV, her antibiotic schedule, and warning signs to look for as her lungs and throat healed. I couldn’t focus on anything but Maryns sweet face. She was so perfect and beautiful I couldn’t wait to get her in my arms and nurse her.

FINALLY the time had come, she was ready for some skin to skin and NURSING! I was so excited I grabbed her out of the carriage and popped her onto my boob. The nurse was shocked and asked how many brothers and sisters Maryn has. When I told her this is our first she was impressed with how easily nursing was for us. I was so incredibly thankful and so glad I had spent hours pumping before M came so I was well prepared for BF. Maryn fell off her latch a few times but got the hang of it really quickly. By her hospital discharge she was a QUEEN at taking the boob… and I was super confident feeding her. Our only challenge was that she would fall asleep on the boob. I’m proud to say she doesn’t do this anymore! She’s a quick learner.

After nursing I slipped her into my hospital gown and we got to snuggle skin to skin. It was the most amazing perfect few hours. While we did this Michael filled me in on what he experienced in NICU. He said they would have been to me a lot sooner but every time they started an IV Maryn flinched and burst her blood vessel. He told me they tried over 30 times before they were finally successful. This is what took so long (7 hours total) to get her out of NICU and into recovery with me. They finally got her IV in her foot and part of her care instructions were to be EXTRA cautious with her IV. Apparently Maryn is strong and would flinch from the needles and pull away from the nurses causing quite a bit of trouble. My poor baby had poke marks and bruises all over her hands and feet. We had to leave her foot out of the swaddle and she couldn’t have a bath until her antibiotic was complete.

Sweet Michael was exhausted and starving. I was finally starting to feel a bit hungry and asked for sushi. Before he went to pick up dinner we called some of our family to introduce them to Maryn. I’m sure it was the longest day of their lives… as it was mine! We got ahold of Michaels brother, my mom, and his parents. We weren’t able to get ahold of all of the family. I didn’t want to disrespect them by telling people her name and sharing pictures before I had the opportunity to introduce her to them. It had been over 12 hours since she was born… I was ready to shout her name from the rooftops! My girl was here, she’s healthy, and she’s ours forever!

Final stop in Laborland

Here we are epidural was placed and I was watching the clock for 11:00pm to hit because BYE AWFUL NURSE….

I should have on an epidural high once that thing was in. Ha! By this point my hormones had taken over completely and I was shaking uncontrollably. My teeth were chattering and my bones were trembling. The epidural was horrible. I was ready to kick my nurse in her teeth… or, well, just out of the room.

Before I had the chance to completely lose it with my nurse, it was shift change. Guess who walked in? ASHLEY!!!!! I could have wrapped my arms around her and cried I was so excited to see her. The excitement of seeing Ashley made all the drama with my nurse go away. We chatted about the wedding she went to and I complimented her on her adorable wedding hair style. I kept telling her how sorry I was and how exhausted she must be. She finally told me that she was pregnant too and we bonded even more about her pregnancy. I asked her a million questions about her experience, her hopes and fears, and her plans for delivery. It took my mind off of the chaos that happened earlier that night. Ashley was back and that’s what mattered.

All night long I was having a really hard time. My anesthesiologist came back in because I was complaining about the epidural. When my midwife came in a few minutes later she basically laid into the anesthesiologist for not giving me more medicine. Apparently she gave me the lowest dose and my midwife was not happy. My cervix and uterus were still on two different planets and the baby was still very high (station -3). I was required to “labor down” all night. They put me in a variety of funky positions including stuffing a peanut ball between my legs. At this point I HAD IT. I was SO done. My patience was gone. I was in pain. I was exhausted. And I was trembling uncontrollably and I was absolutely terrified. The medical team was attributing the shaking to hormones but they kept taking my temperature to make sure I wasn’t getting an infection.

I made them get rid of the peanut ball and let me use pillows and stirrups instead. This was not at all the experience I had prepared for in my mind and everything seemed so overwhelming. I also expected once I had the epidural that I would just “go to sleep” as so many women told me happened to them once they got the epidural. This was not the case. I had been awake (with the exception of a few short naps sponsored by morphine) since Friday early morning when I stated work. I was so frustrated and beyond freaked out. I was asking a million questions and worried that things were starting to go haywire. I simply couldn’t relax. I wanted to get up out of bed but they wouldn’t let me. I was only “numb” (eye roll) from the bottom of my rib cage to the top of my hip bone. I could have easily walked. I had a catheter inserted and winced the entire time they inserted it even though they said I wouldn’t feel it. Ashley finally removed it because I had full bladder control. I let her know when I need to pee and in goes the catheter again. Each time they told me to get in a new position I flipped myself over in bed before they had a chance to help me. That epidural experience everyone told me about…. not my experience!

My midwife finally ordered more medicine and I was pushing the epidural button as often as I could. Bring on the saline. Bring on all of the things. I felt like a lab rat…

My memories of Saturday night are so blurry. My doulas notes go like this:

-1:54am 7cm

-4:02am 8cm 100% effaced and between station -1 and-2

Sometime around 5:00am I had the urge (doesn’t even seem like strong enough word) to push. IT WAS SO STRONG. And so primal. I literally couldn’t stop it. The only thing I can compare it to was needing to vomit. It is that uncontrollable. I begged my medical staff to let me push. They explained to me that I couldn’t because I wasn’t dilated enough and the baby’s head would swell my cervix.

THIS WAS HORRIBLE. I couldn’t help myself and every time the contraction came I begged, cried, pleaded… PLEASE let me push. Check me! I have to be far enough! LET ME PUSH.

Eventually the pushing feeling passed (more drugs for the lab rat) and I went to sleep. Not real sleep, I was listening to my doula and Michael chat about ministry, about our journey, about all we’ve been through in the past few years, how we met, and about our daughter. They shared stories of childhood and bonded over our common beliefs around parenting and our faith. It was so awesome to listen to their conversation. At one point I told them I was listening. It was such a beautiful intimate conversation I felt creepy if I didn’t announce my presence. I finally felt peaceful. And relaxed. And although I was contorted around the bed stirrups with my legs going in opposite directions and hoping for that baby to drop lower… I felt at peace.

At 7:00am I was sleeping and Ashley came in. She told me she was leaving and introduced me to my new nurse Erin. I nodded to let her know I understood and she said, “Megan, do you understand? I want you to wake up and listen to me… I’m leaving. you’re going to love Erin. But I’m leaving You’ll be ok!” She knew I had a special bond with her especially after that horrible night I experienced in her care. When I eventually woke up I was so glad that she took extra time to make sure I knew she wasn’t going to be there for delivery.

Turns out I loved Erin just as much as I loved Ashley. She was amazing.. but I’m more on that to come!

My midwife came in and told me I would start pushing at 8. It wasn’t until closer to 9am that I started pushing.

Before I started pushing I asked michael to pray for us. He held back tears (all of us did) as he said the sweetest prayer thanking God for getting us this far, for safety, and for our beautiful girl. It was one of the most special moments of my life.

Pushing was the weirdest thing. I did not have the urge to push. My midwife came in and we causally chatted and she said “okay Megan lets have a baby!”… ummmm, what? Just like that… push her out? I don’t have to push. I begged you for 2 and a half hours to let me push.. and now you’re just like.. push? WHAT?

Okay. So they prepped the room up. Turned the lights on full blast and rolled in a cart of medical supplies. My midwife was dressed in her delivery gear. Michael was on my right and my doula was on my left. Erin, my midwife, and my doula explained to me how to push. And there I went… pushing this baby out. I took off my sports bra because I wanted to be ready to nurse when Maryn came.

Pushing was HARD. HARD HARD HARD. I did not expect it to be so hard. I stared pushing her out from station -1 or -2. I had to rely on the monitor to show me when the contraction was strong enough to push because my epidural was whack.

About an hour into pushing somebody came in the room and pulled my midwife aside. I could hear the conversation They said that another one of her patience had arrived and was ready to deliver. She was 10cm and the baby was crowning. HOLY. CRAP. My midwife ripped her gloves off, left the room, and Erin coached me through pushing. I made the most progress under Erin’s coaching. She let me steer the ship and listened to me as I explained to her what my body was telling me. I finally got in tune with what my body was doing and was able to get the baby farther down.

My epidural was wearing off and I could feel contractions again.

I was also in a lot of pain as she made her way down lower into the birth canal. I was still only numb from my ribs to my hips.

A few minutes later my midwife came back in. WHAT THE WHAT?!? I was so annoyed that that woman had her baby so fast… ugh! Haha…

I kept using the sheet to wipe sweat from my neck…. oh was I sweaty! My midwife kept telling me to get the sheet away from my face. I told her I needed it to wipe the sweat away. I was so far in Laborland that I needed everyone to stop talking so I could focus. I remember being so annoyed each time somebody said something but the only person I said “shh” to was Michael. I wanted so badly to “shh” everyone else but I knew better than to be rude to the people who were providing me with medical attention.

At one point my midwife asked for a hook. She had to break my bag of waters. I was so weirded out by this because my water already broke! She explained that there are two bags and often they both break but the position baby was in I had to have the other one broken for me. Crazy!

It was finally happening. I could feel the baby coming out. My midwife said, “Megan, listen to me very carefully… this is a big baby. When her head comes out you need to keep pushing. It’s going to be hard Megan do you understand that?” I vigorously shook my head to indicate YES I GET IT. ILL DO IT! I GOT IT! “Megan when I tell you to push you DON’T STOP!!! You need to get her head and shoulders out in one push do you get it?” YES LET’S GO! She explained Maryn would get stuck if I didn’t do what she said. I was confident I could do it. Everyone was doubting that Maryn girl was big. We were all talking about how big we thought she would be. My midwife said 9lbs, I said no bigger than 7.5 and Erin my nurse said about 7 as well. “Look at her she’s still tiny.. where would a 9lb baby be?” She said. My doula agreed. Michael kept his mouth shut because he has already been told to be quiet. (Sorry M!)

It’s important to understand the chaos that happened a few weeks before my due date. My midwife was worried about Maryns size and the age of my placenta. A few weeks before I was due, I ended up in the hospital to have an ultrasound. I wasn’t gaining lots of weight (23 lbs total by birth) and my placenta was showing signs of age. They were worried about her size and my fluid levels. My belly was messing 2 weeks behind my whole pregnancy. When I got the results back from he ultrasound everyone was shocked. Maryn girl was estimated to be 8.5lbs and my fluid levels were a 12 (5 is considered a good amount with the weeks calculation I was). My weight gain was all baby (and lost muscle that changed into baby weight). I was skeptical with their calculations and still thought I would have a 7lb (max) girl.

By the time I felt her coming out my midwife gave me a cut off of 3 more pushes before I was going to the OR. They called NICU and in they came. I had Maryn girl out in 5 HARD AS HECK pushes including her head and shoulders all in one. It was the coolest feeling to have her head and shoulders come out. Her head, hurt SO BAS but once her shoulders came out it was an awesome feeling. I saw my belly completely deflate like a balloon. I will never forget that feeling or the way my belly looked as soon as she came out.

10:57am my lady was born!

When she finally came EVERYONE in the room was shocked at how big she was. I heard a cry. And my heart dropped. I knew what that cry meant.

Michael was incredibly emotional and rubbed my head and gave me a kiss and told me how proud he was. He was so supportive during the entire process and told me over and over again what a great job I did.

They handed her to NICU and they started working on her right away. There was tons of commotion in the room as people were working on her, my midwife was telling Michael to cut the cord, and my doula was telling me to talk to Maryn. “She knows your voice Megan, talk to her!” I could barely talk but the first thing I said was, “Thank you Jesus!” and, “Holy crap that was AWFUL!” I also asked if she was a girl because I had a dream that she was a boy. Everyone in the room started cracking up. “YES SHES A GIRL” they all chimed in.

I wanted to see Maryn so badly but I didn’t want her to be away from NICU. I knew they were the best ones to have her at the time. I knew she needed to be under their care. I still thought they would hand her to me in a few minutes. While NICU was working on her in the room everyone kept telling me how beautiful she is. Michael took some pictures of her and showed me. I kept asking them to tell me what she was doing. They told me she had a CPap machine on her and explained that they wouldn’t give her oxygen because it would hurt her. My midwife told me to push out my placenta and as weird as this might seem it was such a soothing feeling on my lady parts. My doula called the placenta lady to come pick it up for encapsulation. It was probably 20 minutes that the NICU team was working on Maryn in the room when finally a nurse came over to talk to me. She explained that they were going to let me hold her, but that they had to take her to the NICU to monitor her lungs and do few other things. It was very scary to hear. Everyone assured me that it seemed NICU was just being overly cautious because her coloring looked beautiful and she was responding really well. The only concern I had was that Michael got to go with her. “ABSOLUTELY!” They assured me, and that was all that mattered.

One of the nurses brought Maryn over to me and I was able to look into her eyes for the first time. What a beautiful little lady she is. Michael hugged us and kissed me and I told them to take her. I knew the longer I held her the longer it would be until she was back in my arms for good. I knew that the longer I held her the more at risk her lungs were. “Please fix her and being her back to me”, I said.

Off they went.

There I was… in a quiet room with my doula and my nurse Erin.