A Year of Grief

A year ago was the worst day of my life. My dad died.

On the one hand, I can’t believe it’s been a year. I can’t believe it’s been that long. On the other hand, so much has happened. I had an entire pregnancy and baby between now and then!

I’ve learned a lot about grief over the last year and expect it will be something I continue to learn about for the rest of my life.

Grief ebbs and flows. There are a lot of water analogies with grief: waves crashing over you…the ability to drown in only 2 inches of water…etc.

I didn’t realize how universal some grief feelings are until I experienced it myself and then recognized those same thoughts expressed by others. My favorite is the disbelief at the audacity of the rest of the world to keep spinning. I can remember driving around Cleveland, running various errands for the funeral, and thinking, “How can all of these people be going about their everyday lives as if nothing has changed? Everything changed for me! My dad died.”

Speaking of the funeral, my aunt put it best. Planning a funeral is essentially all the same pieces of planning a wedding except you only have a couple of days to do it, and you’re so sad the whole time.

Another feeling that is difficult to understand until you experience it is, “It hurts when your person dies. But that still doesn’t prepare you for the pain of their staying dead.”

I got that one from Twitter.

And it’s funny because it makes no sense. If you think logically, you know that death is permanent. For the rest of your time on Earth, that person is gone. But grief isn’t logical. Because the past tense sentence:

“My dad died.”

I have sort of accepted. I understand that he died. I get it.

But the present tense sentence:

“My dad is dead.” or “My dad is gone.”

That’s really hard.

It’s hard because sometimes you forget, and the reminder punches you in the gut. A friend from high school wrote to tell me that he ended up with my dad’s old road bike, and my first thought was that I needed to text Dad to tell him that. Sucker punch. Can’t text him. I forgot.

I still dream about him sometimes. My most recent one was him at my house, and he just started doing the dishes. I went up to him to say thank you, and he just sort of shrugged. That’s who my dad was – the guy who would start cleaning up without any sort of expectation of thanks or praise. It’s just what he’d do.

For now, I’m thankful for those dreams, and I’m thankful for the hope of seeing him again after this life ends. Until then, I gain comfort from a number of things – family, friends, memories, and this verse:

Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears our burden.

Daniel’s Birth Story

In hindsight, it is hilarious how worked up I got about wanting this baby to come.

If you search, “second baby comes earlier?” on my phone, all you will see are purple links because I clicked and read them all in the weeks leading up to Daniel’s birth.

From early on, I decided he was coming on August 19th despite my August 30th due date. I just knew he’d be early and earlier than Caleb. I even took that day off work (and ended up getting a nice last day to myself before he was born). And then he didn’t come.

I didn’t realize how much I was hoping for that date, for no logical reason, until the 20th rolled around. I was in a pretty bad mood that day, the kind where you have flashes of rationality and wonder why you’re so upset before succumbing to the crazy again. And then the 20th passed with still no baby.

The forecast for the 21st was rain all day, so I suggested we drive up to Cartersville and go to the Tellus Science Museum to provide entertainment for Caleb and give him somewhere to run around (plus air conditioning for me).

If you haven’t been, I highly recommend going! The grounds are beautiful, and the museum is a good mix of displays and interactive stuff for kids to do. The parking lot also has some of the largest trucks I’ve ever seen.

Caleb also decided to wear his new Big Brother shirt which was funny foreshadowing. 

I felt fine all morning at the museum and didn’t notice any signs of impending labor. In hindsight the only thing that stands out is how hungry I was on Saturday.

We came home and had lunch and then I laid in the bed while Josh got Caleb ready for his nap. I finished an episode of Gilmore Girls and then napped for a bit myself. I had some contractions while resting but didn’t think much of it since I had been having them randomly for a while.

Around 3pm I felt a small pop at the top of my belly. I got up from my nap to use the bathroom and felt a small gush that really seemed like my water was breaking, but there was no giant rush of fluid, so I didn’t think that could be it. When I sat on the toilet, I had a strong contraction and was losing my mucus plug as well. 

This was immediately followed by terribly nausea that kept me pacing around the bathroom for a bit.

I told Josh that something was up – I was either going into labor or would be in the next day. Overall I felt overwhelmingly weird. 

Then I had another gush of fluid and told him I thought my water was breaking, but I needed to talk to the on-call doctor to make sure since this was such a different experience than Caleb. I told him to be ready to call my mom since she was the one coming to stay with Caleb while we were in the hospital. 

I called my OB’s office and got routed to a partner practice that they share on-call duty with. The operator told me who was on call (a man!) and that he would call me back. The doctor called me immediately and suggested I put on a pad and see if I lost more fluid over the next 1-2 hours. If I soaked the pad, I should come in to get tested to check if the fluid was amniotic. And, of course, I should come in if I start having contractions.

He said it was possible I was just peeing myself which I did NOT appreciate because even though some pregnant women have issues with bladder control, I did not and was 100% sure I wasn’t peeing.

I told Josh to call my mom and have her come because I was thinking the baby would come in the next 24-48 hours, and it wouldn’t be a big deal if she ended up coming a day early, but it would be a big deal if we waited too long to call her.

I started packing the rest of my hospital bag while I shivered – a fun response I have to stress. Then I spent a lot of time crying about the fact that it was a male doctor on call when I specifically go to an all-female practice and asked about the August weekend on-call schedule at a previous visit, and there was never any mention of the possibility of it being a man. Maybe someone switched shifts, but it was an unexpected adjustment for me, and if you have strong female vs. male doctor preferences, I encourage you to ask if there’s any scenario where a male doctor would be on call instead of just asking the schedule, so you aren’t caught off guard.

Caleb woke up from his nap after Josh and I were mostly packed. We were all going to go on a walk to the playground, but then he grabbed his T-ball set from the garage instead, so we played T-ball in the driveway for a little bit. I had a couple of contractions while fielding balls but nothing regular or that close together. 

Then it started to rain, so we had to come back inside. We went upstairs to play Fort (where we take the cushions off the couch and Caleb jumps on them), and I bounced on my yoga ball while Googling things about water breaking slowly instead of all at once. 

I really wanted to talk to someone else, so I decided to message my friend Jules who is training to be a doula, with the disclaimer for her not to tell anyone I was maybe in labor. I felt extremely private this time around.

I had some contractions on the yoga ball that were about 10 minutes apart. It took a lot of concentration to pay attention to the timing as I was watching Caleb, talking to Jules, and Googling all at the same time. 

Jules was very reassuring to me and sent me a position to slow down labor if I thought I needed it. She also affirmed that it is very common for your water to break slowly, and the dramatic breaking I had with Caleb is more rare.

We ordered some dinner from Maggiano’s (because Olive Garden had this chicken alfredo commercial that had been on my mind for weeks – ha!). We ordered delivery instead of pickup, and I’m just laughing as I imagine myself driving to go pick it up while in labor, especially since things started progressing more quickly.

Mom arrived around 5:30, and I immediately started crying when she asked me how I was and responded with, “I don’t want to talk about it.” To be fair, I was also having a contraction when she asked.

Our food arrived, and I finally downloaded a contraction timer because I couldn’t keep track of looking at my watch and doing the math between contractions and also getting Caleb’s plate ready for dinner. It seemed important for me to know how far apart they were at this point.

According to the app, I started tracking contractions at 5:44 pm, and they were 35 seconds long and 2-4 minutes apart. I couldn’t really eat because I was trying to manage the contractions and finally said, “We’re going to have to go to the hospital because I’m obviously in labor!”

Then (this is my favorite part of the story) Josh asked how far apart my contractions were. When I told him 2-4 minutes, he just stared at me. My poor, exasperated husband. “Aren’t you supposed to go to the hospital when they’re 5 minutes apart?” he asked.

I agreed but also said I wanted to eat more dinner and take a shower before we left. (Again, poor Josh) He told me I could have 2 more bites and then had to go shower. I didn’t argue since I wasn’t having much success with eating anyway.

The shower felt so good! The shower was one of the more manageable parts of labor with Caleb, too. I highly recommend getting in the shower during labor if you’re able.

I got dressed and finished packing, and Josh loaded up the car. I asked him to take a final bump picture of me before we left (again, poor Josh).

6:38 pm

Then we said bye to Caleb to head to the hospital. He had definitely picked up on all the stressed vibes and wasn’t happy to see us go, but I knew he would be fine after a few minutes. He always has a good time with his Nana!

In the car I told Josh I wanted to keep my expectations low for how far along I was. I could only be 1-2 centimeters! After the male doctor blow to my expectations, the last thing I wanted to do was hope for 6-7 centimeters and be wrong. Josh looked at me and said, “I think you’re further along than that.”

I held Josh’s hand and breathed through the contractions as we made our way to Northside. We got to experience the new Covid rules of Josh being evaluated and given a visitor’s bracelet and at the entrance before going upstairs to check in.

I started having Josh do the crisscross massage on my back as I had contractions while waiting for someone to come to the check in desk, waiting for her to come back with my ID, and then waiting for someone to take us to our room. I had felt like I needed to use the bathroom during our whole car ride, so I went to the waiting room bathroom and had another strong contraction while on the toilet.

Once we got to our room, Josh helped me change into my gown, and then we met Nurse Kia who went over my birth plan with me. She said she trained as a doula prior to becoming a nurse and was down with my unmedicated plan. Mentioning her doula training immediately put me more at ease since there would be at least one person in the room who was on my side even if the doctor wasn’t – which was an unknown at that point.

She did go over the pain management options available and helped set my expectations about the doctor by telling me that changing pushing positions would be at his discretion and preference, so I tried to prepare to advocate for myself if he was insistent I stay on my back.

Then we did all the paperwork which was sometimes more torturous than the contractions. They just didn’t seem to have any of my information despite me previously giving birth there and going to an OB practice that works with Northside. I had to answer questions about my blood type, allergies, etc. all while having contractions every 2 minutes.

The contractions were getting much worse, too. I kept telling myself I would try to get in the shower as soon as we were done with paperwork because I wasn’t sure I could make it without an epidural based on how much pain I was in at the moment. It felt like the end of labor already. (Spoiler alert: because it was!)

I would stand and lean over the bed to have Josh crisscross massage my back during a contraction and then sit on the edge of the bed after it was over because my legs would shake so hard afterward.

Poor Josh was trying to pump up my yoga ball, but I kept needing him to rub my back, so he wasn’t able to make a lot of progress.

It was time to get the monitors attached to my belly, and I initially panicked once they were secured because I didn’t hear the baby’s heartbeat. It turns out Kia had the volume down on the machine, and I could easily see the heartrate numbers by looking at the screen. I actually appreciated the low volume because Caleb’s was so loud that I heard it ringing in my ears for hours after I gave birth to him.

Then it was back to answering more and more questions as Kia worked through the various tabs on her computer. I kept thinking I just wanted to get to the cervical check, so I could get an idea of how much longer it would be. We also planned to tell family and friends we were at the hospital once we got that information.

At some point during the question-answering portion, another nurse came in and asked Kia if she’d checked me yet. The way she said it made me think that either something was wrong, or maybe I was near the end of labor. (Spoiler alert: it was the latter)

It was finally time for her to check me, and it was more painful than expected because she swept the entire circle which is not something I had experienced before.

“I don’t feel cervix.”

I asked her what that meant, and she said, “It would mean that you’re at 10 centimeters.”

“Great! Because I feel awful!” I replied, so relieved it was almost over.

Kia had the other nurse check me just to confirm, and she agreed that it was time to page the doctor. I asked what station the baby was at, and he was at +1 which was also good news because Caleb was at -3 when I was fully dilated which is why I had to push for 4 hours.

At this point I didn’t get out of the hospital bed anymore. I stayed laying on my back; I tried to roll on my side at one point, but the pain was much worse. I brought out my O and M sounds and squeezed the heck out of Josh’s hand during contractions while waiting on the doctor.

Kia had to step out at one point, and she looked at me very seriously and said, “Do not push this baby out while I’m gone.”

The doctor came in, and the first thing he said was, “Well, no time for an epidural!”

I responded by telling him I didn’t want one anyway, and he remarked at how sometimes he’ll go months without an unmedicated birth but this weekend I would be his fifth. He was very chatty.

Then he started asking my a lot of questions that would be answered by looking at my birth plan, so I interrupted him and asked someone to hand him a copy. He read through it and said most of it was moot at this point since we were near the end, and I’d probably have the baby out in two pushes. “You better knock on some wood,” I countered.

Like Kia warned me, he wasn’t too excited about a non-back laying pushing position. Laying on my side would be ok, but he didn’t prefer the all-fours position because everything would be backward for him.

I didn’t bother arguing because at this point I was so tired, I wanted to lay on my back anyway. Then came a particularly strong contraction that made me feel like I was going to vomit, so I asked (maybe yelled) if I could push soon.

The reason the chit-chattiness was so irritating is because going through contractions when you’re ready to push is torturous, and pushing is the relief from that torture. To be fair, he had also been getting ready while talking – getting his gown on and such – but there wasn’t quite the sense of urgency I was hoping for.

He checked me and agreed it was go time. They set up the foot plates and said I was good to push on the next contraction.

It took me the first contraction to get the hang of pushing and accepting the discomfort that comes with it. The second contraction was much more productive, and I could actually feel the baby move down and be close to crowning. This was so different from my experience with Caleb where I pushed for hours before feeling any progress.

They asked if I wanted a mirror to watch myself, but I declined as I was trying to stay Zen and relax my entire body between contractions by laying back with my eyes closed. I was also closing my eyes during pushing, anyway.

I had a mini contraction that I just breathed through before pushing again on contraction #3. This was another productive one, only dampened by my annoyance at the doctor telling Josh that I had a small tear, which is where the blood came from. I wasn’t interested in hearing that!

I felt so peaceful in the rest between contractions here because I knew the baby would be out on the next set of pushes, and it would all be over. And he was! I pushed again during contraction #4 to deliver his head, and then the doctor pulled the rest of him out (ouch!). After getting to the hospital around 7 pm, Daniel was born at 8:51 pm!

The cord was wrapped around his neck twice, but not in a way that alarmed anyone. Daniel came out crying and with good color.

We delayed the cord clamping until it stopped pulsing, and then Josh cut the cord. The doctor then tried to deliver the placenta by pushing on my stomach, but I asked if we could just wait a minute since I felt very rushed. He obliged.

I turned to Josh and asked if he took any pictures, and he said no, so he got this gem.

8:57 pm

Daniel cried for a long time, so I had to have Josh repeat to me anything the doctor said because I couldn’t hear him over the baby. He eventually settled and even started rooting to feed. It was difficult to do while flat on my back, but once the doctor finished his stiches, and I got to sit up, it was much easier to.

The nurses brought me juice and crackers which Josh fed to me while I held Daniel. It was a very pleasant Golden Hour!

After the hour, Josh watched Daniel get weighed and cleaned while Kia took me to the bathroom to try to pee. They want you to pee before you move to a recovery room, and I thought it would be easy but ended up sitting in the bathroom for a while. I eventually found the motivation to go after she mentioned I’d have to get a catheter if I didn’t go on my own soon.

Daniel got his first bath, wrapped in blankets, and then Josh got to hold him. And we finally got around to telling friends and family that not only were we at the hospital, but also I had the baby.

Like last time, everyone at Northside was extremely nice to us during out stay, and I even had a nurse find a sandwich for me at 4 am that first night. My doctor visited me the next morning, and after hearing how quickly everything went, I joked with her that I tried to wait for her but couldn’t.

Thankfully Daniel didn’t have jaundice like Caleb did, so we got to go home around lunch on Tuesday and introduced our boys to each other to settle in as a family of four.

Recap of my Second Pregnancy

In typical second child fashion, this kid gets a blog post 6+ weeks after he’s already born when I blogged weekly during my pregnancy for his brother. Oh well!

The biggest difference in the first versus the second pregnancy is that it is impossible to compare your childfree life to your life with a child. They aren’t even in the same universe.

And because of that, some things for Daniel’s pregnancy felt much harder.

Nausea feels worse when you have a toddler who wants to run and play rather than lay on the couch, and breast sensitivity is more noticeable when your toddler uses you as a jungle gym. I also don’t recommend being in your 3rd trimester of pregnancy during an Atlanta summer.

But there were some things that were much better!

The biggest thing was I didn’t have debilitating SI pain this go-round. I even ran up until 33 weeks! Peachtree was my main motivation to keep running / run-walking, and I even ran-walked it 4 minutes faster than with Caleb even though I was 8 weeks more pregnant. Granted, I lost all motivation to exercise after that, but I was still impressed with myself!

I also didn’t get high blood pressure near the end this time, so there was no added stress in worrying about induction, and I was Group B Strep negative, so I wouldn’t have to be on IV antibiotics during labor.

And some things were very much the same, and I was very much ready to be done being pregnant at the end. I think that’s universal, though.

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. 🙂

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.

38 Weeks

Baby Size

Caleb is the size of a mini-watermelon at about 19.5 inches long and about 6.8 pounds.

Pros

We are officially in the 4-week timeframe of when Caleb will arrive! Likely 3-week timeframe since I’m not entirely sure my doctor would let me go to 42 weeks. It’s nice to have the end in sight. I can remember being SO READY about a month ago, and I’m still ready now, just more of a tired and worn down ready.

I’ve felt quite good over the last week and haven’t had any bad days like I did last week. I went to my last home match for Atlanta United on Saturday, and it was refreshing to feel up for all of the walking that entails. And I shouldn’t get that much bigger either, which is a relief.

While our bathroom remodel is still underway (yes, we know we’re cutting it close), the toilet and new faucets were installed at the end of last week, so I no longer have to plod all the way down the hall for my 2am bathroom trips. That makes a big difference in being able to get back to sleep after! I’ve had a lot better nights of sleep lately, too. I am making an effort to start getting ready for bed earlier to do what I can to get more sleep.

Nesting continues, mainly in the form of cleaning for me. On weekends I tend to operate on the schedule of a puppy: having periods of hyperactivity where I’m extremely productive followed by needing to lay down or take a nap. And I usually repeat that cycle a few times during the day.

Cons

My BP was a little high at my doctor’s visit yesterday, so it’s something I am keeping an eye on over the week before my next appointment. My doctor said she’d hate for me to have the baby before I’m ready, and I told her we were in the middle of the bathroom remodel. The look she gave me was pretty great. Stay in a while longer, please!

37 Weeks

Baby Size

Caleb is the size of a canary melon at about 19″ long and around 6.2 pounds. 37 weeks is considered early term, so really from here on out, he’s the size of a baby.

Highs

We checked a few more items off the to do list this weekend! Josh installed the car seat bases into both cars (I watched so I would know what to do), and I added the infant adaptor to the stroller, so we’ll be all ready to go on walks!

I also started packing my bags for the hospital. I’ve been keeping a list on my phone (using the Cozi app that Josh and I use for groceries and chore lists) and finally started actually getting items into bags. One of the things I like about Cozi is that it will strikethrough your item once you check it off instead of deleting it, so I can still see everything on my list. I think that will be helpful when I’m rooting around my bags trying to figure out what I brought.

I’ve started going to the doctor every week now and had a good visit yesterday. Caleb had a strong heartbeat, and they were happy to hear he’s extremely active. I described his feet as “sharp” and got a good laugh as well. I shared my birth plan with the doctor and she gave it a thumbs up, and she also was very impressed when I told her I was still run-walking (even if it’s only once or twice a week). When I spend my time feeling really inadequate athletically, I’ll take any sort of praise I can get!

Nesting (or crazy pregnant lady energy) is in full swing, and the bathroom renovation with its dust just makes me more crazy. My rationale is that it’ll be easier to clean the dust every few days rather than wait until they’re done and have a lot of mess to clean. That makes sense, right?

Lows

Now that I’m more visibly pregnant, I’ve gotten a few more comments from strangers about it. It’s mainly people saying congrats or expressing their excitement for me, but one of the SAFE members at the Atlanta United game this weekend tried to tell me that I couldn’t go through the metal detector because it was a health concern and needed to have a pat down instead. I told him that I could go through a metal detector and that I’d rather do that than have someone touch me, and it took a little more back and forth than I would prefer before another worker came over and told him that it was ok. Got me good and riled up prior to the game!

Sleeping at night seems to be either really good or really bad. Sometimes I can sleep through the night, but I’ve had to get up to pee TWICE the last two nights which makes it much harder to get a good amount of sleep. Fingers crossed for a good night of sleep soon!

Other than that, there are just days that I feel pretty bad – yesterday being one of them. The cervical check at the doctor was less than pleasant, and then I had a terrible headache for the rest of the day. I just feel swollen and puffy and still so hot!

I saw a post on reddit about how being pregnant is like being a toddler because you just want snack and naps all the time and can’t control your emotions. Sounds about right.

36 Weeks

Baby Size

Caleb is about the size of a papaya at 18.75 inches long and 5.8-6 pounds.

Highs

I had another doctor’s appointment at the end of last week and got to meet another doctor in the practice who I liked as well. She did a quick ultrasound and Caleb was head down and face down, and she said that might be why his movements were more painful lately – since his back and his butt are what’s pushing out against me.

Saturday was my last baby shower! It was great to see so many of my friends from Berry and catch up with them. They spoiled me with great food and cute presents, and I really enjoyed the onesies they designed as well as the playdough babies.

More of a fun fact, but sometimes when Caleb is moving around, I’ll hear a click or a pop like when you crack your knuckles. I Googled it, and apparently it’s a thing! Pregnancy is so weird.

Another fun fact, shared with me by my friend Jacque, is that eating 6 dates per day in the last 4 weeks prior to delivery is proven to help shorten labor in a majority of women. 6 dates is a LOT in one day, and I’m still working up to that many, but I’m thinking that eating some dates is better than none! Although that story continues below…

Lows

Oye. In an attempt to get more dates into my diet, I bought a pack of Cashew Cookie Larabars. My friend Keri introduced me to them, and they only have 2 ingredients – dates and cashews! Since they have 2-3 dates per bar, it was a more tasty way to eat dates.

I noticed on Thursday that my lips were stinging, and then I woke up on Friday morning with tiny blisters on my lips. I am very thankful that they weren’t terribly noticeable, but it was both physically and emotionally disconcerting. Google was no help because if you search anything about blisters on your lips, everything says herpes simplex virus (HSV-1) which is not what I had.

The blisters persisted through the weekend, and Sunday night I was back on the internet trying to find an answer. The only thing I found that looked anything like what I had was a lady who wrote about getting blisters and a rash from eating mango because mago is in the same family as poison ivy, and the skin can have urushiol oil on it.

I’ve had poison ivy enough times that I realized that is what it looks like what was on my lips, so I typed “poison ivy on lips” into Google and found that not only are mangoes related to poison ivy but so are CASHEWS. And that the more reactions you’ve had to poison ivy, the more susceptible you could be to a negative reaction to cashews or mangoes.

Further searching let me know that others have had reactions to Larabars specifically, so needless to say, I won’t be eating them anymore. I’m not sure if it’s a pregnancy-related allergy or just the type of cashews in those bars, but I will likely avoid cashews all together now just to be sure.

I did a couple of baking soda paste applications on my lips to dry the blisters out, and now I’m just waiting on everything to fully heal up.

Other than that saga, it’s just the normal ups and downs of late pregnancy. Everything is big and heavy and swollen, and I’m tired a lot. But now I know it could be worse!