Baby

Walker / One Month

IMG_8398.JPG

And just like that, my baby is one month old. HOW?! It really is true what they say, the newborn stage (and probably every other one too, let's be real) goes by so fast. He already looks so much like a big boy to me. 90% of the time when he's sleeping I'm looking at pictures and videos of him on my phone and it's insane to me how different just a few weeks makes!

He weighed almost 9lbs already at his 2-week appointment and as I'm writing this at 5 weeks, I'm sure he's already past the 10lb mark--this chunk loves to eat and I'm so glad I've been able to exclusively breastfeed since day one with relatively zero problems, so far (knock on wood). Like I mentioned in my previous post, those Silverette cups made a huge difference in my breastfeeding journey. One thing I do want to work on being better at is pumping so that I can save up "an arsenal" of milk, as Joel likes to call it, for times we want to have a date night or Joel takes him on an extended outing so I can work for a couple of hours. It's hard not to feel like I'm just a cow over here! But I am grateful that I'm able to continue to nourish my baby with just my body. It's pretty amazing.

He sleeps fairly well, but gone are the days where he slept literally all day in those first two weeks. He usually goes down for a nap around 1 or 2pm and then down for the night around midnight and wakes up every 3-4 hours to eat before being all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed around 9am. It's easily my favorite part of our day because he's SO happy and alert. I know babies aren't supposed to smile for *real* at this stage but my kid must be advanced in that department because he's been smirking and smiling for a couple of weeks now and it completely melts my heart! The biggest grins are after an impressive fart or poop--which sound (and smell) intense.

Overall, this first month has been the greatest, hardest transition of my life but I wouldn't trade it for anything. We are so in love with our little bambino and I can't wait to see what the next month has in store for us!

Postpartum Must-Haves

postpartum.jpg

Now that we're almost a month in (wha?!) I feel like I'm starting to get the hang of this whole 'we have a newborn' thing. It definitely has not been easy, but I'll save that for another post. In the meantime, I did want to share a few things that have helped me get through these first few weeks following Walker's arrival or in other words, my postpartum must-haves.

ppgrid.jpg

Silverette Cups / These are my absolute, number one must-have. Molly swears by them so I decided to try them myself because I figure anything to help me avoid the painful side-effects of breastfeeding would be worth a try. Let me tell ya--these things are MAGIC. You simply wear them over your nipples in between feeds with a couple drops of your breastmilk inside and they have 100% prevented any sort of soreness/cracks/pain. I definitely recommend using these if you plan on breastfeeding!

Dry Shampoo / Everyday showers are few and far between in the beginning and so dry shampoo has been a total savior for the days we actually make it out of the house and I need to be somewhat presentable and not a greasy mop.

Water Bottle / Just like during pregnancy, staying hydrated is just as important postpartum, especially when it comes to keeping up your milk supply for breastfeeding. I opted for this one because it comes equipped with an infuser on the bottom so I can add fresh cucumber, lemon, etc. to add a little flavor.

Nursing Tanks / As someone who has yet to really master the art of public breastfeeding without flashing the entire world, I practically live in these nursing tanks. They're super long, soft and comfy which are basically my top three requirements for any sort of top. Win!

Tucks Witch Hazel Pads / These little guys come in super handy when even toilet paper feels like sandpaper after pushing a baby out. Coupled with the instant ice pads, peri bottle + Dermaplast my hospital sent me home with, I was able to feel as comfortable (as one can) when I got home.

White Noise / Molly struck gold again with this rec. I play the blow dryer sound and Walker is calm + asleep within minutes and then I set it on the edge of his DockAtot while he sleeps. Bonus points for it being a free app! I am thinking about investing in an actual white noise machine though so that I don't have to relinquish my phone for hours at a time.

Breastfeeding Pillow / Ergobaby sent us a care package with a few things to try and this pillow was included. I like how soft yet sturdy it is. It also doubles as an assist for holding baby when people who are afraid of babies come over to visit :)

Mom / Last but not least, I really don't think I could have done these first few weeks (especially the first one) without the help of my own mom. Between her and Joel I was able to get an extra hour of sleep here and there plus she would grocery shop and cook for us. I asked her to move in but she said no ;) I know not everyone has the luxury of having family close by so I am really grateful to have mine living near us. Thanks mom, you da real MVP!

And Then There Were Three

Walker-32.jpg

It's been almost two weeks since we've been at this whole We Have A Baby thing. We had our newborn photos taken this week and I'm completely in love with how they turned out. Ashlee is not only a talented photographer but a dear friend as well; I'm so glad she was able to so perfectly capture these first few moments as a family of three.

I wanted simple, candid shots of us at home and not only did she manage to capture the cozy essence I wanted but she did it in record time between Joel having to get ready for work and my bribing Walker with boobie milk in order to cooperate for the whole shoot. I will treasure these shots forever!

Walker-3.jpg
Walker-25.jpg
Walker-34.jpg
Walker-51.jpg
Walker-58.jpg
IMG_8174.JPG
IMG_8168.JPG
Walker-90.jpg
Walker-92.jpg
Walker-72.jpg
Walker-85.jpg
Walker-87.jpg

Walker: A Birth Story

IMG_7870.JPG

We have a baby! I can barely believe it. We made it. We made him. It's been a little over a week and we're getting used to this brand new life with our little one. We are exhausted (duh) but so, so, SO in love. I have his childhood journal on its way but I wanted to document his birth story here too, while the details are still fresh in my mind. 

I had been having Braxton Hicks contractions for weeks but shit started getting real on Friday. After experiencing some pretty strong ones all morning, I really wanted to know if I'd dilated past the half-centimeter I'd been stuck at for two weeks. We decided to go into Labor & Delivery to check. I was at a 2 but they really wanted me to be to at least a 3 before admitting me so they sent us home, told us to eat some lunch, take a walk and come back in 2 hours to see if I'd made any progress. So we did. We ate at Red Rabbit in midtown (I had a bomb taco salad that I need to go back and actually enjoy) and then decided to walk to our favorite Peet's Coffee shop about a mile and a half away. On the walk back, my contractions had really begun to ramp up. I had to stop about every block and brace myself against Joel or a wall to get through each one. There were some concerned onlookers as I'm sure it's a bit jarring to see a pregnant lady stopped in the middle of the sidewalk clutching a brick wall.

We made it back to the car and drove back to Kaiser. This time I was at 2.5. SO CLOSE. But still, not enough for an admission so we decided to go down the street to my mom's house so Joel could get a nap in and I could labor in my mom's jacuzzi soaking tub. The bath felt amazing and really did make dealing with the contractions (which were growing stronger and closer together) more bearable. My mom suggested we take a walk around the block and start timing the contractions. After just walking up and down the street my contractions were 3 minutes apart, lasting a minute and taking my breath away. I knew it was time.

The three of us piled into the packed car and headed to the hospital. We were almost to the entrance when I felt a strong one coming on. I gripped the car's "oh shit" bar and prepared to breathe through it when all of a sudden I heard and felt a POP! My water had broken! I remember thinking GREAT, my seat is ruined but when we parked and I got up my seat was dry. I don't exactly understand how but it's like my water broke and the seat acted like some sort of seal--I don't know. Joel rushed inside to grab a wheelchair while my mom gathered our bags. The nurses in Labor & Delivery exclaimed, "you're back!" and knew by the look on my face and the trail of amniotic fluid I was leaving on the floor (ew) that I was here to stay for the main event. Sure enough, they admitted me and we got settled into my room.

Y'all. No amount of reading, research, advice or stories told could prepare me for active labor contractions. They are unlike any pain I've ever experienced--I almost have to just respect it. I threw up twice and couldn't stop shaking which freaked me out but was told is normal during this stage. I knew breathing was the key to getting through them so I did my best to control my breath and find a focal point in the room to get through each one. The pain would build and build and build and just when I thought I was going to die, it'd subside. I found myself moaning through each one and Joel (later) told me I was making sounds he'd never heard before haha. I labored lying down. I labored on my side. I labored on the exercise ball. Finally, I labored in the shower with Joel passing the hand-held pressurized water showerhead over my lower back and stomach. My original birth plan was to labor in one of the tubs they had but the feeling of being buoyant coupled with the strong contractions didn't feel too great so I stuck to the shower which felt awesome...for a while at least. I wanted to labor as long as I could without meds but was not opposed to getting the epidural if I felt like it. I made it to 6cm before I felt like it. First, I tried  Fentanyl. My nurse said it would feel like the equivalent of taking 6 shots of alcohol. Let me tell you, it DID. It was glorious but only lasted a short while. It was only a matter of time before I asked for the epidural. The anesthesiologist was probably my favorite person (I wonder why) on our hospital team. Immediately after getting it I felt a trillion times better. I could still wiggle my toes and feel the pressure of the contractions but I was no longer in barf + tremor-inducing pain and could sit up in bed and chat with my family while things progressed.

My in-room support system consisted of Joel, my mom, mother in-law and sister Emma. I got checked a short while after getting the epidural and was at a 7. Success! We all tried to take a nap, myself included. I didn't actually fall ASLEEP-asleep but I did get some rest in which I knew would do me well since the hard part was yet to come. After a couple more hours I started feeling an immense pressure start to build that almost felt like I needed to use the bathroom. I was told this was a good thing and meant I was ready to push. Sure enough, I got checked and was at a 9.5! FINALLY! It was go time. Or so I thought...my trusty anesthesiologist popped his head into my room and asked if I wanted one last round of medicine--a bolus epidural--before pushing. I was like, hell yes I do. Well, that shit ended up numbing my lower half COMPLETELY, so I could no longer feel below the waist (at one point I asked Joel to adjust my pillow which was actually my ass HAHA). The monitor was still showing my contractions but I could no longer feel them or the pressure or urge to push anymore so unfortunately, I had to wait another three hours for the meds to scale back enough to feel that again.

I suppose it was meant to be because by the time I was ready to push for real, my midwife we'd been seeing the entire time clocked on to her shift and would be helping deliver my baby! I was stoked. They started bringing in all the delivery tools, turned on the warmer above the baby station and re-positioned me on the bed. With Joel holding one leg and my mom holding the other, I was instructed to take a big breath on the next contraction, curl over my abdomen and push my baby out. I was expecting this to be the worst part--to feel like I was being split in half but honestly, I felt no pain, just pressure. I pushed and pushed and pushed with all of my might and all of a sudden I saw my mom and Joel's face start to get weepy. Baby's head was crowning and there was so much hair! On the next set of pushes I gritted my teeth and bore down, but he wouldn't come out and his heart rate started to dip so they brought in another doctor and the vacuum to assist (I later learned the reason I couldn't push him out on my own was because the cord was wrappd around his neck so each time I pushed, the cord was pulling him back in). That sped things up and on the next set of pushes I was determined to meet my son. I'll never forget the immediate feeling of relief, both physical and emotional as they pulled him out and up and placed his warm, wet body on my chest. I cried and looked up at Joel who was also crying as he leaned down to kiss me and whispered, "you did it." I'd never felt more proud of anything in my entire life.

IMG_8089.JPG

Walker Hudson Kaul was born on his due date, September 16th, 2017 at 9:20 am. He weighed 7lbs 14oz and was 21 inches long. He was perfect and most importantly, he was ours.

IMG_8091.JPG

We spent the next day + night in the mother + baby unit (post-delivery private room) where we got to quietly enjoy each other for awhile just the three of us and our closest friends + family flitted in and out to visit us and meet our newest blessing. Walker passed all of his newborn tests with flying colors and we got discharged in the early afternoon. Since then, the days have been a blur of diaper changes, sleepless nights (and days), tons of photos/videos of otherwise simple things like my baby staring off into the distance and just getting used to caring for an adorable af human life.

It's true what they say, you quickly forget the pain of childbirth, which must be some elaborate ploy by nature to make you want to do something crazy like pro-create again. It works. We already know we want another one (in a couple of years) but for now we're going to soak up this crazy, beautiful, sometimes paranoid life of ours as first-time parents. I'm so excited for what our future holds and every day is another page in our story. If you made it this far, thank you for being a part of it!

Homestretch

IMG_7483.JPG

People were NOT kidding when they told me the last month of pregnancy would be the hardest.

Time has slowed to a crawl. I can't see my feet but if I could they'd be swollen af and my plantar fasciitis has made it nearly impossible to walk for long periods of time which creates a cruel catch 22, since long walks are a well-known way to jumpstart labor. It feels like everyone except me is having their baby--I'll see yet another newborn announcement post in my social media feed and I feel a pang of jealousy. Of course I'm happy for them but I want my baby. 

The other night I just sat in the bath tub and cried. Everything hurt and felt overwhelming. Joel came in and asked me what was wrong. I'm just tired of being pregnant I said. He knelt down next to me, looked me in the eyes and told me, you're so close. We're almost there. I thank my lucky stars for him. That was exactly what I needed to hear in that moment.

My due date is next week (9/16) and it's crazy to think it's FINALLY going to happen. Nine months of excitement, planning, dreaming--soon it will all be reality and I'll have a son in my arms. All of his little clothes are folded and put away, ready to be worn. Hospital bags are packed and by the door. I'm sure there are things I'm forgetting but the important stuff is all set and now we wait. And wait. And wait some more.

I'll be the first to admit I am not a patient person. It is something I strive to be better at but this is by far the hardest lesson in that. I've tried all the *tricks* to try and get him to come out in order to avoid induction because Pitocin scares the shit out of me and is something I'd like to avoid at all costs if I can. The Prego Pizza, walking, sex, red raspberry leaf tea, evening primrose oil, bouncing on an exercise ball, etc. But this little guy is being stubborn (I wonder who he gets that from) and seems to want to stay put for the time being. 

We had a small scare at our last check up, which really put things into perspective. While my midwife was routinely checking his heart rate she mentioned it was a little lower than usual and that she was sure it's nothing but wanted me to head over to Labor and Delivery just as a precaution to rule anything out. Internally I was fuh-reaking out but somehow I held it together while getting admitted to L&D for fetal monitoring so they could establish a baseline for his heart rate, do an ultrasound and check my amniotic fluid levels. It turned out everything is fine and they must have just caught him in a rare, chill moment during the initial heart rate check. I was told I'm still only half a centimeter dilated but basically almost fully effaced and baby is nice and low (she could feel his head!) Oh, at the moment he's also posterior aka head down but "sunny side up" so that's fun...he better turn the other way once labor starts! The baseline chart apparently also monitors  contractions and the nurse pointed to a bunch of squiggly lines and asked if I'd felt the little ones that showed up (I didn't). I joked with Joel that maybe I'll be a world anomaly and I don't feel contractions. Hahahaha YEAH RIGHT!

So that's where we're at. I'll be 39 weeks on Saturday which means one way or another he'll be here in basically less than 14 days, give or take. Wild. This may be the last "bumpdate" before the big day! Fingers crossed. We can't wait (obviously).

Ps; sidenote - I've created a  Facebook Page for my blog/website/design business so go ahead and give us a "Like" if you're into that sort of thing. It's linked to my Instagram so I'll be sharing updates related to the site there as well. Cheers!