I Always Wanted to Be Bacon

When I was in college, I worked at a summer camp called Strong Rock Camp & Retreat in my hometown of Cleveland (and it’s one of the first things I blogged about back in 2017). After 2 summers of being a counselor, I returned for a 3rd summer as a Program Director where I helped organize skill classes and camp-wide games rather than being responsible for a specific cabin of girls.

Central staff, as we were called, ate at a table with other staffers and directors (since all of the other tables are organized by cabins and counselors). One morning, the Director of Operations at camp, Bacon, (we all had nicknames) got up in the middle of breakfast. I asked him where he was going, and he replied:

The Sysco truck just pulled up, which means the cook is helping unload, so the toast is probably burning.

And he headed to the kitchen to save the toast which was, in fact, left on the grill.

I knew in that moment that I wanted to be Bacon at my job. I wanted to be so tuned in to the innerworkings of a business that I can see a potential domino effect and stop it ahead of time. And all with a calm, nonchalance presence (still working on that part).

Thoughts on evermore

I like it. It doesn’t have the “I love the new sound” shock factor that folklore had since they sound so similar, but it’s a good continuation of that sound.

willow

The start of the album immediately sounds like folklore.

Predicting it now: we’re going to see “I come back stronger than a 90s trend.” in a bunch of Instagram captions.

champagne problems

Sounds like “New Year’s Day.”

’tis the damn season

This song reminds me so much of a quote from The Shipping Room Podcast where one of the hosts very casually said, “Yeah, it’s like when you come home from college for Thanksgiving, and you sleep with your ex-boyfriend.” I can’t relate to that sentiment, but I can relate to the feelings of nostalgia that happen when I go home for the holidays.

To me this song is that “what if” train of thought you can get lost in when thinking of all the alternative universes of what your life could look like if you had stayed in your hometown.

tolerate it

Track 5 is supposed to be the heavy/meaningful song on TSwift albums according to what I heard on a podcast.

“If it’s all in my head, tell me now” is a relatable line for the desperate feeling of wanting someone else to quash the insecurity you’re feeling.

no body, no crime

This is Taylor’s Goodbye Earl. And if you search “Goodbye Earl” on Twitter, you will find a lot of people saying that!

She’s always been a good storyteller, and this song is a great example of that. A technically dark story that is just ridiculous enough to be funny.

evermore

I really like this song. It’s a solid bookend to the album while also bringing it back to the title.

One Year of Breastfeeding

When I first had Caleb, I committed to 6 months of breastfeeding. If I wanted to go longer, great! But if I was hating it, I wanted to give myself a less intimidating goal than an entire year. After one year + 18 days, my season of breastfeeding came to an end, and it ended up being both longer and shorter than I thought it would be.

There were definitely ups and downs to nursing for a year, so I wanted to reflect on a few of them to close out this season as well as share how I managed weaning.

Highs

The special bonding time and extra cuddles are just the best. Your brain gets a nice dose of oxytocin every time you nurse, and despite the isolation I sometimes felt from nursing, it can occasionally be a welcomed retreat when feeling overwhelmed.

Once your baby starts nursing faster, it’s a breeze. Instead of 20 or 30 minutes of being trapped under the baby, you can do a quick 3-5 minutes on either side and get back to your day. And the baby can get back to playing, which they are typically much more interested in than nursing at some ages.

Finally, it’s just freaking cool that your body can make food for the human you also grew with your body.

Lows

Definitely the biggest low was getting mastitis 6-7 weeks in. I wondered multiple times if I was going to die (dramatic), and had to get a second course of antibiotics when the first round didn’t work.

Breastfeeding can also feel really isolating. Especially when the baby is young and takes 20-30 minutes to eat, you just sit alone in a room with the baby for large parts of your day. Any time we took a trip, the first thing I would need to do upon arrival would be feed the baby, so off I would go to a room by myself where everyone chatted and caught up without me.

Babies can also be super impatient and picky! I never had a full blown nursing strike, but I definitely had segments of time where he would rather scream than nurse, and there was probably an entire month this summer where he wouldn’t nurse in the recliner but would in the bed. The worst was always when slow letdown frustrated him.

Weaning

I started adding a gradually increasing amount of milk to Caleb’s daycare bottles for the 2 weeks leading up to his birthday, and they were still coming home empty, so he didn’t seem to have any trouble with the change to cows milk. My original plan was just to wean him off daytime feedings (no more pumping!) and keep the wake up and bedtime nursing sessions for another month or two, but then I started having trouble with the bedtime session letdown, and I just felt like my body was ready to be done. I wrote out a plan to drop one feeding at a time every 5 days and that was that.

The emotional process to accept weaning was rough. I kept crying in anticipation of nursing being over and very tearfully explained to Josh that it is time, I am ready, and Caleb will be fine, but it’s still the end of a very specific season of life, and I felt like I needed to mourn that season.

I Googled the phrase “mourning the end of breastfeeding” and found quite a few articles about dealing with the hormonal roller coaster that can accompany such a life change. But then I saw an additional Google question: “how to celebrate the end of breastfeeding?”

That’s what I needed. I needed to flip the script on myself and celebrate the 380+ days that I nursed.

One of the suggestions was to get a tattoo which I was very into for about 10 minutes. Then I fell into the rabbit hole of breastfeeding jewelry before deciding it was quite expensive and carries the risk of yellowing over time not to mention super shy me having to explain what it was to anyone who asked.

From there, I searched pearl rings on Etsy since a lot of the breastfeeding jewelry I looked at sort of resembled a pearl. Opal rings were a recommended suggestion based on pearl rings, and what do you know, opal is the birthstone for October! So now I have an opal ring for my October baby to commemorate the end of this breastfeeding season.

Also, I picked this ring that has Celtic love knots on either side of the opal because Josh gave me a Celtic love knot ring when we were in college, so it seemed like the perfect fit for me. 🙂

Getting myself a present to look forward to really helped with the emotional turmoil I was feeling (which I find hilarious, to be honest). And as I dropped feedings, neither Caleb nor I had meltdowns, which further confirmed that everything was going to be ok.

As for the physical effects of weaning, that was rougher than expected. If I do this again in the future, I will likely wean off the baby first and off the pump second rather than vice versa to have more control of the production slowdown. I also really don’t recommend going on a work retreat at the beginning of the weaning process where you don’t have access to ice packs or the ability to take 45-minute showers.

And now a couple of weeks removed, everyone survived. My baby is a toddler and asserting his independence and growing up!

Breastfeed Like it’s Your Business

I recently changed from feeding my baby every 3 hours to feeding him every 4. It took some trial and error when it came to filling up his bottles for daycare to make sure he was getting enough to eat, but he takes 2 bottles with 7.5ish oz each day, and then I nurse him for his other two feedings.

I originally celebrated dropping a pumping session  from my workday. I have a pretty easy setup: I work from home, use Freemie cups, and usually sit with my laptop and continue to work during pump sessions. Besides doing the dishes, it doesn’t interrupt my work day that much.

But I don’t like it.

I am fully aware formula exists, and no one is forcing me to breastfeed. I like breastfeeding; it’s pumping I’m not a fan of. And since switching to 2 pumps/day from 3, I haven’t been able to keep up.

I didn’t worry about it too much at first since I had so much milk in the freezer. But now that I run a pumping deficit on a daily basis, I had to get organized.

So I made a spreadsheet.

Breastfeeding is like running a business. You want to plot out your cash flow, so you can project your runway. If your burn rate is too high and is shortening your runway, you need to make a change ASAP instead of getting closer and closer to the day you run out of money.

There are two ways to extend your runway – cut expenses and/or increase revenue.

In my case, I can either pump more milk, or Caleb can eat less (Lol – yeah right).

According to my spreadsheet, at my current burn rate, I run out of stored milk in about 5.5 weeks. If I change to 3 pumps/day and change nothing else, that increases to about 8 weeks. If I pump 3 times/day and add a weekend pump or two, I can get up to 13 weeks. And all of this assumes Caleb keeps consuming the same amount.

On average, babies start to decrease their breast milk ounces around 9 months, so I need to try to make it 12-13 more weeks at his current feeding rate.

Other measures could include going to daycare to nurse him and of course just using formula (like getting a loan to continue the analogy), but for now I begrudgingly changed all of my pump times on my calendar back to 3 times/day and will be chugging water like it’s my job. Oh, and updating my forecasting spreadsheet each week. 🙂

Prediction Results!

Congratulations to Lucas for predicting the men’s winner and 4th place finisher as well as only being 8 seconds off of the women’s winning time. His win is especially impressive when you consider he had Amy Cragg in his women’s top 5 (who announced this week she wouldn’t be competing).

Sarah N was a close second, and she not only picked Rupp was the winner of the men’s race but also predicted his time exactly.

For future prediction contests, I’d like to tweak the scoring to award small points to getting someone in the top 5 even if out of order, different point tiers for being close to the time, and a bigger bonus for getting the time exactly.

Full results/predictions below!

Lucas S (135)
First placeJordan Hasay
Second placeMolly Huddle
Third placeDes Linden
Fourth placeAmy Cragg
Fifth placeSara Hall
Winning Time 2:27:15
First placeGalen Rupp
Second placeJared Ward
Third placeJim Walmsley
Fourth placeLeonard Korir
Fifth placeReed Fischer
Winning Time 2:05:27
Taylor G B (115)
First placeDes Linden
Second placeMolly Huddle
Third placeJordan Hasay
Fourth placeSara Hall
Fifth placeEmily Sisson
Winning Time 2:29:34
First placeGalen Rupp
Second placeJared Ward
Third placeTyler Pennel
Fourth placeLeonard Korir
Fifth placeScott Fauble
Winning Time 2:12:58
Ashlea M (115)
First placeMolly Huddle
Second placeJordan Hasay
Third placeEmily Sisson
Fourth placeDesi Linden
Fifth placeSara Hall
Winning Time 2:24:39
First placeGalen Rupp
Second placeJared Ward
Third placeScott Fauble
Fourth placeBernard Lagat
Fifth placeLeonard Korir
Winning Time 2:11:53
Matt K (115)
First placeHuddle
Second placeDes
Third placeTaylor
Fourth placeHall
Fifth placeAlaphine
Winning Time 2:24:36
First placeRupp
Second placeWard
Third placeFauble
Fourth placeKorir
Fifth placeAbdi
Winning Time 2:12:30
Jill B (100)
First placeEmily Sisson
Second placeDes Linden
Third placeKellyn Taylor
Fourth placeSara Hall
Fifth placeEmma Bates
Winning Time 1:25:37
First placeGalen Rupp
Second placeKorir
Third placeWard
Fourth placeSmith
Fifth placeBumby
Winning Time 1:13:01
Me! (100)
First placeJordan Hasay
Second placeSara Hall
Third placeDes Linden
Fourth placeKellyn Taylor
Fifth placeEmily Sisson
Winning Time 2:26:46
First placeGalen Rupp
Second placeJared Ward
Third placeLeonard Korir
Fourth placeScott Fauble
Fifth placeBernard Lagat
Winning Time 2:10:56
Jenn S (100)
First placeJordan Hassay
Second placeDes Linden
Third placeMolly Huddle
Fourth placeEmily Sisson
Fifth placeSara Hall
Winning Time 2:28:18
First placeRupp
Second placeJ ward
Third placeKorir
Fourth placeB Lagat
Fifth placeJ Riley
Winning Time 2:08:19
Brandon D (15)
First placeEmily Sisson
Second placeSara Hall
Third placeDes Linden
Fourth placeMolly Huddle
Fifth placeJordan Hasay
Winning Time 2:28:07
First placeJared Ward
Second placeScott Fauble
Third placeJim Walmsley
Fourth placeLeonard Korir
Fifth placeCJ Albertson
Winning Time 2:13:22
Turd/Bert (0)
First placeSara Hall
Second placeEmily Sisson
Third placeMolly Huddle
Fourth placeJordan Hasay
Fifth placeKellyn Taylor
Winning Time 2:26:51
First placeLeonard Korir
Second placeJared Ward
Third placeGalen Rupp
Fourth placeScott Fauble
Fifth placeJim Walmsley
Winning Time 2:12:51
Cameron S (0)
First placeSARA HALL
Second placeEMILY SISSON
Third placeJORDAN HASAY
Fourth placeEMMA BATES
Fifth placeSALLY KIPYEGO
Winning Time 2:21:30
First placeLEONARD KORIR
Second placeGALEN RUPP
Third placeSCOTT FAUBLE
Fourth placeJERRELL MOCK
Fifth placeMATT McDONALD
Winning Time 2:07:25
Sarah N (120)
First placeEmily Sisson
Second placeJordan Hasay
Third placeDes Linden
Fourth placeMolly Huddle
Fifth placeSara Hall
Winning Time 2:26:22
First placeGalen Rupp
Second placeLeornard Korir
Third placeJared Ward
Fourth placeScott Fauble
Fifth placeLuke Puskedra
Winning Time 2:09:20
Thomas C (115)
First placeEmily Sisson
Second placeSara Hall
Third placeJordan Hassay
Fourth placeDessy Linden
Fifth placeMolly Huddle
Winning Time 2:27:00
First placeGalen Rupp
Second placeJared Ward
Third placeScott Fauble
Fourth placeAndrew Bumbalough
Fifth placeParker Stinson
Winning Time 2:11:00
Josh M (115)
First placeJordan Hasay
Second placeEmily Sisson
Third placeSara Hall
Fourth placeDes Linden
Fifth placeMolly Huddle
Winning Time 2:28:43
First placeGalen Rupp
Second placeLeonard Korir
Third placeJared Ward
Fourth placeJacob Riley
Fifth placeScott Fauble
Winning Time 2:10:25
Keri M (100)
First placeKellyn Taylor
Second placeDes linden
Third placeJordan hasay
Fourth placeSara hall
Fifth placeMolly huddle
Winning Time 2:24:27
First placeGalen Rupp
Second placeLeonard korrir
Third placeJared Ward
Fourth placeJim Walmsley
Fifth placeBernard Lagat
Winning Time 2:09:22
Michael S (100)
First placeHuddle
Second placeLinden
Third placeHasay
Fourth placeBruce
Fifth placeSisson
Winning Time 2:24:00
First placeRupp
Second placeWard
Third placeKorir
Fourth placeLagat
Fifth placeFauble
Winning Time 2:11:30
Jacque C (100)
First placeDesi linden
Second placeSara Hall
Third placeJordan Hasay
Fourth placeMolly Huddle
Fifth placeEmma bates
Winning Time 2:22:33
First placeGalen Rupp
Second placeBernard Lagat
Third placeJared Ward
Fourth placeDathan Ritzenhein
Fifth placeScott Fauble
Winning Time 2:07:45
Lynn P (60)
First placeSara Hall
Second placeJordan Hasay
Third placeSally Kipyego
Fourth placeKelly’s Taylor
Fifth placeDesiree Linden
Winning Time 2:24:37
First placeLeonard korir
Second placeGalen rupp
Third placeAbdi adirahman
Fourth placeJared ward
Fifth placeJerrell mock
Winning Time 2:09:09
Alice S (0)
First placeMolly Huddle
Second placeDesi Linden
Third placeSteph Bruce
Fourth placeKellyn Taylor
Fifth placeSara Hall
Winning Time 2:25:30
First placeJared Ward
Second placeScott Fauble
Third placeScott Smith
Fourth placeAndrew Bumbalough
Fifth placeAndrew Colley
Winning Time 2:11:45
Sarah R (0)
First placeHasay
Second placeDes
Third placeSisson
Fourth placeBruce
Fifth placeHuddle
Winning Time 2:27:00
First placeKorir
Second placeFauble
Third placeRupp
Fourth placeWard
Fifth placeLagat
Winning Time 2:15:00

My Marathon Olympic Team Picks

It’s finally here! The Marathon Olympic Trials are tomorrow, so it’s time to finally make my picks. Want to enter your picks? Join my prediction contest here.

Women

First place: Jordan Hasay

If Jordan is healthy, I don’t see how she doesn’t win. She has the fastest PR, had the fastest marathon debut, and has experience in major marathons. Plus, she’ll be in the shoes.

All of her social media posts have been positive regarding her training, and she’s certainly putting it out there that her hamstring is fully recovered after pulling out of Chicago back in October. I think she distanced herself well from all of the Salazar drama in the fall, and she didn’t attend the pre-race press conference yesterday, so there was no opportunity for anyone to ask her about it again to try to rile her up.

Second place: Sara Hall

Sara Hall’s 2:22 breakthrough in Berlin was a long time coming. She’s a consistent high-performer, and I think now is her time.

Third place: Des Linden

Des is the only returning marathon Olympian, and she’s an absolute beast. I cried when she won Boston in 2018. With the challenging course and stacked field, I see Des being able to weather any storm the course or conditions throw at her as well as cover any moves made by the competition.

Des will be celebrating with whiskey on Saturday night after making her 3rd Olympic team.

Other Contenders

In no particular order because this field is just too deep.

The NAZ Elite Trio

If there was an award for the coolest contender, Kellyn Taylor would win hands down. In addition to being a runner and a mom, Taylor is a firefighter and foster parent. I also recently learned on a podcast interview that her husband was deployed when she gave birth to her daughter, which further adds to her being a total badass.

Stephanie Bruce and Aliphine Tuliamuk round out the NAZ Elite training group. They all ran smoking fast half marathons in January to tune up for the trial, and I imagine they’ll be working together during the race.

The New Balance and Saucony Training Partners

Molly Huddle and Emily Sisson are two serious contenders with many considering Sisson the favorite for the race. I just don’t know enough about Sisson to put her in my top 3. Her 2:23:08 debut was the fastest by an American woman on a record-eligible course, but the Trials will be her second marathon on a vastly different course.

Huddle is a more experienced marathoner, excellent road racer, and led the American charge on the track at the 2016 Olympics. Her PR isn’t as fast as Sisson’s or others in the field, but her experience performing well in a high-stakes event makes her seriously dangerous.

And a couple more…

Sally Kipyego is another front-runner that I don’t know too much about, but 2:25 puts her in serious contention. Finally, Emma Bates came roaring into the marathon scene when she won CIM in 2018 and then lowered her PR to 2:25 at Chicago in the fall. I learned in my research that she lives off the grid, so she certainly has some grit!

Men

Disclaimer: I know a lot less about the men’s field.

First place: Galen Rupp

After Rupp’s 61 tune up half marathon, he seems a lock for the team.

Second place: Jared Ward

Ward literally wrote his dissertation on marathon pacing. He and his mustache will be representing the US again this year in the marathon.

Third place: Leonard Korir

Korir had the fastest debut of an American marathoner. He’s a bit of a wild card since it will only be his second marathon, but a sub-2:08 is hard to discount.

Fourth place: Scott Fauble

I really want Scott Fauble to make the team. The top 4 are so tight, but I’m not sure he’s in the top 3 of those 4.

Fifth place: Bernard Lagat

Lagat is not ranked in the top 10, but he has #oldmanstrength. Plus he just finished up a training stint in Kenya where he ran with Kipchoge. I’m not counting him out.

Olympic Trials Tracker

The Olympic Trials is coming to Atlanta next week! I’ve been excited to watch this race for over a year, and I can’t believe it’s almost here. Atlanta Track Club has done a fantastic job putting together the race and communicating spectator information, and tonight I started working on spectating plan, so I made a tracker!

Since the course has an 8-mile loop the runners will complete 3 times, I wanted to see roughly where the leaders would be at what time. I made a simple Sheet where you can update the expected finish time (and the start time if the races don’t start as scheduled) to see where your runner will be at what mile mark.

It’s not perfect since it assumes even splits, but if you’re planning to MARTA around to different spots on the course, it should be close enough that you don’t miss your runner if you give yourself some cushion time!

If you want to use it for yourself, you can access it here. Remember to make a copy for your own Google Drive first! Since this is a public link, multiple people could change the sheet at the same time, which could create some confusion on race day. 😉

Baby Registry Essentials

I am in the stage of life where many of my friends have babies or are pregnant, and I’m the type of person who compulsively reads reviews before making a purchase, so I put together a list of items I’ve enjoyed using with my little one so far. I hope this helps anyone who is putting together a baby registry!

Nursery

VAVA Night Light

This night light rocks. You can tap it on and off or hold the top of it to brighten or dim the light. Anything you can operate with one hand is especially useful when you are carrying around a baby!

Laundry Hamper

This is a nice, lightweight hamper, and I love anything heather grey. With how often we do baby laundry, we haven’t come close to filling it up yet.

Laundry Bags

I have yet to lose a tiny baby sock thanks to using a laundry bag! We just drape it on the side of the hamper to keep it easily accessible.

Changing Pad

We end up changing the baby all over the house, but it is nice to have a dedicated changing station in his nursery. This pad is the same width as the top of his dresser, so it works well as a changing table, too.

Changing Pad Cover

This changing pad cover being waterproof is clutch for the many “surprise shower” diaper changes we’ve had with a baby boy. I recommend having a stash of 3-4 covers unless you want to do laundry every day.

Diaper Caddy Basket

This basket fits the exact dimensions of the top of the dresser that aren’t already filled by the changing pad. It fits diapers, wipes, diaper cream, lotion, etc to make them easily accessible.

Diaper Genie

There are a ton of diaper pail options out there, and so far we have no complaints about the Diaper Genie. It’s easy to use, change the bag, and keeps the smells at bay!

Diaper Genie Refills

No need to buy Diaper Genie branded refill bags! These Amazon brand ones work just as well for a lower price.

Humidifier

Dehumidifiers are especially important during the winter where the heat dries out the air. Plus – germs travel slower through moist air!

Baby Monitor

We opted for a sound monitor instead of a video one or anything with wireless capabilities, and it’s worked out just fine. You can adjust the sensitivity for what all it picks up or keep it on vibrate if you only want to be alerted that there’s noise rather than know what the specific noise is.

Only downside is that the parent unit only works when plugged in, so you’re out of luck if the power goes out.

Bath Time

Bath Tub

Bamboo Washcloths

These washcloths are super soft and are great for scrubbing while being gentle enough for little cheeks.

Hooded Bath Towels

Is there anything cuter than a baby in a hooded towel? No, there is not.

These are nice and soft and a great size for wrapping up your baby after a bath.

Wash & Shampoo

This shampoo has been effective on Caleb’s cradle cap and is gentle enough to use all over.

Cradle Cap Brush

We thought scrubbing Caleb’s head with our fingers was effective until we got a cradle cap brush. If your baby has cradle cap, a silicone brush will help a lot! It only took a few baths with the brush to make a major improvement. If your baby has long/thick hair, you’ll want to get a fine-tooth comb as well to comb out the flakes after you scrub.

Baby Lotion

Bath time will dry out your baby’s skin, so it’s important to rehydrate it! Our pediatrician recommended any lotion that is super thick and not runny, and so far this has worked well enough for us.

First Aid

Bulb Syringe

You’ll likely get one of these from the hospital, but I recommend you have one for your diaper bag, and a spare around the house as well.

Nose Snotsucker

This is for when your baby is really congested, and the bulb syringe isn’t cutting it. The first time Caleb was congested, the snotsucker was a game changer for clearing him out in the mornings.

I asked a nurse practitioner if you could get sick from using it, and she said the filter protects you as long as you change it after each use.

Saline Drops

Another item to help fight congestion! If your baby is extra stuffy, using some saline drops in their nose can help thin the mucus so it will clear easier.

Beware: Babies don’t like saline drops going in their nose, though.

Boogie Wipes

Last item on the congestion list! These wipes have saline in them to help clear up a runny nose.

Gas Drops

If you have a baby who loves overeating (cough, Caleb, cough) or just gets gassy, gas drops can help. There was a night where he ate almost continuously for 90 minutes and wouldn’t settle until we tried the gas drops.

Fever Reducer

We had to use this for the first time after Caleb had a fever reaction from his 4-month vaccinations. Your pediatrician will advise when it’s appropriate to use and dosing instructions.

Hydrocortisone Cream

If your baby has eczema, hydrocortisone cream can help it clear up. I wasn’t sure it was ok to use on babies, but our pediatrician said it’s so light, you could put it on toast.

Emory Boards

Tiny baby nails are so sharp! I have yet to use nail clippers on his hands and have opted to just file them instead.

Feeding

Boppy Pillow

Especially in the early days of a floppy baby, the boppy can really help with breastfeeding or long periods of holding your little one. Once they are less floppy, it’s also a great propping pillow when you want to keep them upright, like after a feeding.

Freemie Cups

Milk Storage Bags

If you’re pumping, the last thing you want is to use a storage bag that leaks or bursts in the freezer! None of the Medela bags I’ve used have done this to me while about 30% of the Target Up&Up branded ones did. The Medela ones are worth the extra money!

Dr. Brown’s Bottles

There are soooo many pieces to these bottles, but they are marketing as anti-colic and anti-gas bottles, so we’ll take whatever we can get with our voracious eater.

Comotomo Bottles

These bottles are much easier to clean since there are fewer pieces, and it’s nice that the smaller versions go up to 5 ounces instead of just 4. They also make 8-ounce versions.

Note: When filled past 4 ounces and in the bottle warmer, these tend to bubble over.

Burp Cloths

There are nicer and thicker burp cloths out there, too, but these are a great all-purpose item to have around. Need to clean up a massive spit-up? Need something to shield a surprise pee during a diaper change? Grab one!

Drying Rack Lawn

Drying Rack Tree

While the lawn works well for the smaller pump and bottle parts, the tree is best for the bottles and larger pump parts.

Clothes & Accessories

Velcro Swaddles

I thought I would learn how to swaddle well enough with a regular blanket that I wouldn’t need a velcro swaddle. HA! Caleb was busting out of my blanket swaddle while he was still in the hospital.

Baby Merlin’s Magic Sleepsuit

This has been a great swaddle transition solution for us. Caleb can still move enough to get his hands in his mouth, but the suit muffles his movements enough that he isn’t smacking himself in the face.

Zip Sleep Sacks

We used the sleep sacks for afternoon naps. The zipper makes it easy to add the sleep sack to an already-sleeping baby compared to an over-the-head version.

NUK Pacifiers

Caleb is a huge fan of these pacifiers and hasn’t shown much of a liking for the more cylinder-like ones. My favorite part about the NUK ones is that the ring glows in the dark if it’s been charged by sun!

Pacifier Clips

A pacifier clip will save you from picking up and rinsing off the pacifier that you baby spits out twenty times a day. The plastic clips are gentle on clothes, too.

Colorful Socks

If you are in cold enough weather to need socks, these are a fun way to add some color to your baby’s wardrobe! They say 0-6 months but only fit Caleb until about 3 months.

Toys & Furniture

Play Mat

This is probably Caleb’s favorite toy. With hanging toys at the 4 corners, it’s practically like having 4 playmats when you can just reorient him to a new toy. The mirror is great for tummy time as well.

We haven’t had a need to travel with it yet, but it does fold up nicely.

Maracas

These are nice and light for a baby to grip, and the soft side cushions the blow to the face for when your baby enthusiastically tries to shove it in his mouth.

Teether Rattle

This is probably Caleb’s favorite toy. The rattle is light, and the tubes are thin enough for easy-grasping as well as chomping on when teeth start coming in.

Pizza Teether

When your baby starts mouthing everything, this is a hilarious item to give them to chew on.

Swing

I can’t underestimate how nice it is to have somewhere safe to put the baby. You can’t carry them around 24/7! And it’s incredibly cute to watch them stare once they are able to notice the stars above the swing.

Bouncer

Again, having somewhere safe to put the baby is important. We keep this chair in the kitchen, and Caleb sometimes hangs out there when I’m prepping dinner.

Bumbo Floor Seat

Transportation

Car Seat

I’m not sure anything caused me more stress than researching car seats. Why do some of them cost $60 and others cost $600?

Once I finally picked this car seat, it felt like a weight off my shoulders. The base was relatively easy for Josh to install, and the carrier simply clicks into the base. It’s also been easy to adjust the straps as Caleb grows.

We got a spare base for Josh’s car off Facebook Marketplace for $20 and so far have only used it a couple of times. The couple I bought it from said the same thing – that they probably used it twice.

BOB Stroller

I knew I wanted a BOB for running, and you can check out all of the difference options on their website. I got mine from Facebook Marketplace, a.nd you can typically find a ton of used ones online

Compact Travel Stroller

I knew I wanted a compact, lightweight stroller and really like the option of something that folded down to overhead compartment size…but not the price associated with it. I got this one as an “Open Box – Like New” option from Amazon for more than half off!

Moby Wrap

The Moby wrap is the only reason I get to make dinner some nights. It works great for taking a newborn out to the store as well as wearing an older baby around the house when he isn’t content unless he’s being held.

Convertible Carrier

We haven’t used this carrier as much as the Moby yet, but I like that it has a lot of wearing options for when he gets older and has more head stability.

For Mom

32oz Water Bottle w/ Straw

My hospital gave me a giant water bottle with a straw, but if you don’t have one and are planning to breastfeed, I suggest you get one! You will drink an insane amount of water, and it still won’t feel like enough. The high capacity will lessen the amount of times you have to refill it, and the straw makes it easy for one-handed hydration.

Support Belly Band

I wore one of these during pregnancy when I would exercise, and I also wore it my first few days home from the hospital. Your core muscles are still stretched out and weak, and the support belt helped with tasks like getting out of bed.

Nursing Tanks

Moms on Call Basic Baby Care

I appreciated this book as a first-time mom for the soothing techniques and the scheduling.

It is important to remember that babies are all unique, though! I asked our pediatrician a lot of questions when Caleb wasn’t matching up with how often he “should be” napping or how much he “should be” eating. They also recommend the cry it out method for getting your baby to sleep through the night, and we let Caleb get there on his own instead.

Go Ahead, Stop and Pee

This is a great resource for exercises during pregnancy and postpartum whether you’re a runner or not!

Caleb’s Birth Story

39 Weeks

I never had a 39-week blog post since he was born on that day, so a quick recap of what happened in that week:

I was not feeling great. I was stressed about my blood pressure (really didn’t want to be induced), uncomfortable, my nausea returned, and I was generally irritable a lot of the time.

I had a doctor’s appointment on October 1st where my blood pressure was the lowest it had been since I started checking it! This was a big relief. I had another cervical check and was 2 cm dilated and 70% effaced. The annoying thing about these measurements is that it doesn’t actually give you an idea of when you’ll go into labor. You can hang out at 2-4 cm for a couple of weeks, or you can be not dilated at all and go into labor that day. The only thing that check meant was that I had made progress from 2 weeks ago when I was last checked (and was 0 cm dilated).

I had been ravenous all day and even though I was meeting my friend Anna for dinner, I ate an afternoon piece of pizza in addition to my snacks. I had some baby contractions and back cramps the rest of the afternoon, but I didn’t think anything of it since I read it was typical to have some contractions after a cervical check.

Water Breaking

I met my friend Anna at Chipotle for dinner, and we had a great time catching up! I can’t remember if I stopped mid-sentence or if she was talking, and I made a face, but my water broke. In a Chipotle booth. Around 7:40pm. I was embarrassed and excited all at the same time. Anna got me some napkins and a towel from her car since I was mortified at the thought of walking about of the restaurant looking like I peed myself. She took great care of me by also telling the workers to come clean up the booth (I was also mortified at that thought) and walking me to my car. I was going to have a baby!

While still in Chipotle, I called Josh and told him my water broke, I would be coming home to shower and that we would need to go to the hospital after that.

Josh’s perspective
Josh had
just walked in the door from playing golf after work (I told him to go since I had dinner plans, and we were trying to overlap plans to avoid me being alone since it was so close to my due date). He had decided against staying later at the range to chip some balls (thank goodness) and had just pulled out some leftover pizza and a beer from the fridge. After talking to me, he put the beer back.

Once I got in the car, my next phone call was Becka. While my water breaking first was inconvenient for a number of reasons, the nice part is that it essentially puts a countdown timer on when you’ll have the baby. I told her I assumed he would come in the next 24 hours, and she was able to book a flight for early the next morning to be in Atlanta by 3:30pm the next afternoon!

Then I called Josh again and tried to start telling him all of the things he needed to pack, and he told me he was already packing and for me to just focus on driving home!

But I had way too much nervous energy for that (and it’s only a 15-minute drive home), so then I called my best friend Jenn. I ranted a bit like a crazy person. Only 15% of women have their water break before they go into labor, so I thought that wouldn’t happen to me! It’s also much more likely to have a late baby with your first. And our bathroom wasn’t finished! And it was evening, so I’d have to labor through the night! And I didn’t take a nap today! Jenn helped me focus on the positive – Caleb was coming! And said a quick prayer for me as I pulled into the house.

Josh met me at the door and got me a new towel so I could make my way up to the shower. I called the after-hours number and told the operator that my water broke. She asked if I was having contractions, and that was the first time I even thought about that question. I wasn’t, or they were so light I hadn’t even noticed with all of the excitement.

Luckily, my doctor was on call that night, so she was the one to call me back. She knew my birth plan (goal was to go unmedicated) and said since I wasn’t having contractions to hang at home for 2 hours before coming to the hospital unless I started contracting more regularly before then.

It’s great that she said that because even with being 50-75% packed ahead of time, it took forever to finish packing my bags. I was just so scattered! Once we were mostly packed up, I alternated between walking and bouncing on the yoga ball while we watched a couple of episodes of Young Sheldon.

I started semi-tracking my contractions with an app around 9pm. I would just breathe through them and walk around. They weren’t too bad, and I was trying to keep myself distracted. Another inconvenient thing about your water breaking before you go into labor is that every contraction brings about more of your fluids, so there were a couple of outfit changes before we went to the hospital.

Then it was finally time to leave for the hospital. Contractions in the car weren’t too bad, and I drank my apple juice box to make sure Caleb would be alert for monitoring once we got there.

We arrived around 11-11:15pm and didn’t do the drop off area and instead went straight to the deck, so we could walk in together. We had one stop for a contraction on the way in and then made our way to the check in desk. Thankfully we didn’t have to wait long before someone escorted us to our delivery room.

In the Delivery Room

I bought a swimsuit coverup that I thought would be a perfect birthing robe, but I didn’t even take it out of my bag. Once the nurse told me to put on the hospital gown, I just did it. That ended up working out well because I went through a couple of gowns before Caleb arrived anyway.

Even with completing the pre-registration online a few weeks ahead of time, there was a decent amount of paperwork to fill out – including confirming that you want to keep your baby! There was already a copy of my birth plan in my file, so that was a nice relief even though we brought multiple printed copies with us. The nurse confirmed my water broke (not that I had any doubt) and also confirmed there was no meconium in it, which was all good. I had to stay monitored for a while – one unit measuring my contractions and one unit measuring the baby’s heart – so we brought my yoga ball over to the side of the bed with the computer and bounced for a while.

Josh took that time to set up our room. We brought Enviroscent lavender/chamomile scent sticks and a bluetooth speaker and turned the TV on as well. After some monitoring, the nurse checked me and said I was 3-4 cm dilated and 70% effaced, meaning I had made some progress since my appointment that afternoon.

I spent the next 5 hours laboring with Josh’s help before I was checked again (and even then I had to ask for it). I dealt with contractions by adopting some of the positions we learned in our childbirth class and focusing on breathing. I would lean over the bed and have Josh criss-cross rub my back, or I would stand next to him and sway back and forth, or I would bounce on my yoga ball.

They brought me a wireless monitoring unit and said I could be monitored intermittently – 15 minutes on, 45 minutes free every hour. This is a lie; it was on far more than that. I also was Group B Strep positive, so I had to have a penicillin IV every 4 hours. After I was free of the monitor and the IV at the same time, I took a 45-minute shower, and it was the best. It was also the only break Josh got all night!

I thought I would walk a lot more in labor, but my legs were incredibly shaky. I kept saying I was so disappointed in my legs. They are supposed to be strong from all the running! The shaking improved a bit once we adjusted the thermostat up a few degrees, but my quads felt crampy-tired, making bouncing on the ball harder, too.

Overall I found the contractions to not be too terrible, but the various waves of nausea were tough. I’ve only thrown up a few times in my life, and I definitely wasn’t expecting to throw up during labor, so that was a not-fun surprise.

While the contractions individually weren’t bad, being unmedicated meant there was no break and no ability to take a nap. My legs were so tired, but sitting on the bed made the contractions unbearable, so the accumulation is really what gets to you. Since I had been up since 6:30am Tuesday morning, I was getting close to being awake for 24 hours straight. When a nurse came in to check on us, I asked her if there were any non-epidural options because I really just wanted a 30-minute nap. She said they could give me fentanyl to take the edge off the pain, but I would still feel my contractions. She was very encouraging and told me I was in control and was surprisingly quiet. I honestly was surprised with how quiet I had been, too – keeping a lot of it internally. I declined the fentanyl and carried on.

Then she brought me a chair to fit the yoga ball into, and that was almost as good as a nap since I could lean back against the back of the chair in between contractions instead of having to balance myself. I was falling asleep between contractions, making Josh think I was going to fall off the yoga ball with all of the head-flopping I was doing.

Eventually the feeling of pressure made sitting on the call no longer an option, so it was back to standing. Just rubbing my back wasn’t doing it anymore, so Josh started doing counterpressure, and I started audibly working through the contractions with O and M sounds.

Josh had Animal Planet on the TV and would try to distract me into watching whenever there were kittens on the screen. All I remember was one of the kittens was named Nancy and thinking that the guy who narrates the animals on these shows has a really weird job.

My doctor showed up to say hello a little before 7am. She said I seemed to be in transition (the worst and shortest part of labor) and to let her know when the pressure became stronger and didn’t go away in between contractions since that would mean time to push.

I continued laboring with the stronger contractions and sent a text to my parents and best friends asking them to pray for strength for me because “this is difficult.” At some point I typed “how long does transition last?” into Google and I held onto the answer of “30 minutes – 2 hours” really hard.

My doctor came back about 90 minutes later, and I complained that my legs just couldn’t hold me up anymore. She suggested I sit in a warm bath, so I laid in the bed while they got it ready for me. I labored in the tub for about 15-20 minutes, but I found the hard porcelain to be uncomfortable even though the warm water was soothing. I wanted more time with the warm water, though, so I ended up standing in the shower while holding onto the rail while Josh held the showerhead with hot water on my lower back.

Then it was back to standing. I would just throw myself on Josh in slow dance position during contractions since bending over the bed and counterpressure were no longer helping. I started involuntarily pushing during the worst contractions – my legs would give out, and I would dry heave. It was terrible and made me feel out of control, so I moved to the bed. Sitting in the bed made the pressure feel a lot worse, but I wasn’t pushing or wretching, so the tradeoff was worth it.

Then it started happening in the bed as well. Around 9:15am we called the nurse, and I pretty much demanded to start pushing. My body was doing it anyway, and I wanted the control back. She checked me and said I was pretty much at 10cm (with a bit of a cervical lip that she thought I could push past), but Caleb still hadn’t dropped and was at -1 station. I wanted to push anyway, so we got started. I thought I would have a baby by noon!

Pushing

Pushing is nothing like the movies or TV. All of that screaming and yelling is actually unproductive because you’re supposed to hold your breath while pushing. Holding my breath took some getting used to since I had been breathing through my contractions, and switching to taking a big breath to then hold it while pushing was an adjustment.

Pushing is also 1 step forward, 0.9 steps back. Caleb moved from -1 station to 0 station pretty quickly, but everything slowed down from there. After a few pushes I asked if I could try another position to use gravity to help, so my nurse set up the squat bar on the bed for me. Using the squat bar was definitely more work – going from my knees into a sumo squat to push and then back to my knees for every contraction was a lot more movement than just laying in the bed. But it felt more productive, and it was a nice change! I can remember thinking, “This is so much better than labor.”

My only other note from squat-bar-pushing is that a random lady came into my room during this part. :/

I eventually got tired and went back to laying in the bed. It was nice to get some rest between contractions. My nurse kept saying, “Just a few more pushes, and I’ll call Dr. H,” and it felt like I heard that 8 times before she actually paged her. The funny thing is that I heard her running down the hall before she entered my room (but there was no rush as I know in hindsight).

I pushed for..forever. I kept feeling like nothing was happening and would ask if I was doing ok. My doctor, the nurse, and Josh were all very encouraging despite my skepticism. At one point, I looked at my doctor and asked, “Is everything really going ok?” She seemed to think that was funny and assured me that all was well. Part of me was nervous that if I pushed for too long, they would force me into a C-section, but that was never even mentioned.

Then I just got irritated. I kept calling Caleb a “little punk” to the point that Josh reminded me how much I would love him. And I do! It was just that my expectations of having a baby by noon were not even close to being met.

After 3-3.5 hours of pushing, I told my doctor I was exhausted. I felt cross-eyed I was so tired. She agreed and said she could tell that I wasn’t pushing as long or as hard (aka, not being as productive as I had been). So I asked, “What do you think about me eating an energy gel?”

I had packed some vanilla Gu in my hospital bag since everyone likes to talk about how giving birth is like running a marathon. (Side note: it is NOT! You can drop out of a marathon. There are no breaks with birthing a baby.) You aren’t allowed to eat anything during labor, but Josh brought a Gu over for my doctor to inspect, and she gave it the ok.

The Gu was a great second wind since I hadn’t had any food in about 15 hours and had thrown up everything in my stomach anyway. I felt better within minutes and started renewing my mantras of “I like pushing” and “He has to come out eventually.”

I started making enough progress for the nursery staff to come in, my nurse to put on her gown, and my doctor to have her tray of tools brought over to her. Any change was another point of encouragement for me to know that things were happening.

They put me on oxygen between contractions (I think because his levels were dropping), and Josh was rubbing my quads between contractions and force feeding me Gatorade and water. My next (and last) second wind was when I actually started feeling him coming. I knew the end was near! Having that hope really helps with the fact that there’s no break from the pressure or burning between contractions anymore. The nurse even took my contraction monitor off 1-2 pushes early because she thought he would be out on that push.

I gave my all on what I thought was my last push, but he wasn’t quite out yet. I asked if I could just finish pushing him out, but my doctor said to wait for the next contraction to prevent tearing. This was extremely uncomfortable. And then I just stopped having contractions. I made it a couple of minutes before I essentially hyperventilated and pushed him out.

He’s here!

Caleb was born at 1:25pm on October 2nd, weighing in at 7 pounds, 10 ounces and 20.5 inches long.

The first thing I said was, “Oh my gosh! He’s so big!” They put his giant, pink body on me, and I rubbed his back as he cried and cried. Josh got to cut the umbilical cord after a couple of minutes, and then we had a full hour+ with him just hanging out on my chest before the nursery staff did all of their measurements and bath. They only took him from me for a few minutes when his cries sounded a bit guttural (to make sure he didn’t have fluid in his lungs), but other than that we had a wonderful golden hour together as a family.

I looked up at Josh with my squinty, tired eyes (my face was so swollen from the IV and from 4 hours of pushing) and told him how much I loved him. I definitely couldn’t have made it through the labor without him. He was the best coach and support partner I could have asked for.

After the golden hour the nursery staff did all of their measuring and weighing, and then Josh got to enjoy some baby snuggles, too.

My parents showed up with Chick-fil-A (I highly recommend a milkshake as an efficient way to get calories back in your body), and Becka was able to make her way from Seattle to Atlanta within a couple of hours of his birth thanks to my long labor!

Overall, it was a good experience, and I’m thankful for Josh, my doctor, and the staff at Northside for being so great. Everyone was supportive and encouraging of my birth plan, and we had pleasant interactions with every staff member throughout our hospital stay.