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Packing for the big day – what are your labor/postpartem must haves?

We’re 32 weeks – a time when most recommend packing the hospital bag should you need to rush. Though I’m sure it will probably be sitting in my room for the next 9 weeks, I’m pondering putting one together. I’ve seen all types of lists of necessities, but I’m curious as to what you folks that have been through the experience had wish you had brought or wish you had left home. Here’s my initial list of basics – what else do you recommend?

-          Toiletries

-          Two nightgowns

-          Slippers

-          Magazines/books/laptop

-          Camera

-          Pillow

-          Diaper bag w/ pacifiers, nipple soothers, rattle toy

-          Take-me-home outfit

-          A blanket

-          Car seat

Oh, and you spouses, what do you wish you had taken to the hospital with you?


A Village

I stumbled across a book signing some years ago while out grazing on the newest titles at my local Books Inc.  The book was about motherhood, and although I was a long way off from it at that point, I decided to sit down.  I don't remember the title or the author's name, but something she talked about has stuck with me since.  She was of East Indian descent and she spoke about how she was afraid of having children in the United States because of the lack of community here.  In India, she would have had generations of women helping her raise her child.  But here, she would be alone. 

While facing motherhood, I thought about this a lot.  My own mother lives far away, and although I knew I would have support from friends and family, I wondered if those multi-generational households really have the right idea.  Is it unfair to expect women to do this on their own, when for centuries it has been a group effort?

Tonight I stumbled on this quote from one of my favorite mommy blogs, Dooce, "I really feel like the Internet has given us back the village we lost so that in those early days we can help each other through the madness of it."  She is absolutely right.  Blogging, Twitter, Facebook--it's taken us out of our single-family homes, out of isolation, and put us back into a village of knowledge, support and much needed humor.

On that note, I'd like to thank all of the mommies and daddies out there who blog with honesty and heart about this crazy adventure of parenthood.  And that goes double for my fellow mommybetas.  Nat, Jennifer and Alex: I'm glad to share a hut in the blogosphere village with you ladies!


Becoming A Mother


This is my first post as a mommy! I am writing this as my son takes his evening nap.

I have a son. I love saying that. I love starting sentences with "My son..." I am so grateful to be his mommy. 

Nathalee shared her birthing experience a few weeks ago and it was so touching that I am moved to share mine. I pride myself on being an eloquent writer but I know that words will fail to describe the true beauty of what it means to give birth to your child. Nevertheless, I am going to try. 

I made no bones about feeling frustrated and scared during the last few weeks of my pregnancy. I had been dilated to 3 centimeters and 80 percent effaced for the final three weeks and the anticipation coupled with the pain of my baby's head on my bladder was unbearable. When my doctor offered to induce labor, I nearly cried with relief. Oh who am I kidding? I did cry. 

We arranged to go to the hospital on Monday, July 26. I spent the preceding weekend like a deer in headlights: petrified. I cried when my significant other and I had our last Friday night alone together, our last Saturday night, our last Sunday afternoon nap, etc. I wasn't scared about birthing. I was nervous about meeting my baby, finding out its gender, becoming a family. I was also hormonal and uncomfortable. 

Monday morning arrived. I woke up at 3:45 a.m. I did some reading, took a shower, curled my hair (vanity!), and woke up my partner.

"Honey, time to go have a baby today!" I said, trying not to let my voice quiver.

It was 5:30 a.m. Understandably, he rolled over and said, "Can't we do it tomorrow?" 

If I was a deer in a headlights, he was a buck. We were nervous and we tried to make light of the situation with humor. Eventually, we found ourselves in a taxi with a suitcase and brand new baby carrier. And of course I cried again. 

The hospital admission was quick and surreal. I kept expecting someone to say, "What are you doing here? You're not really going to be a mother. Go home and get back to work."  

I was put on Pitocin around 7:30 a.m. Since I had been having contractions all night, my body responded to it quickly. My doctor asked if I wanted the epidural right away and I said no. I wanted to feel the contractions come on for a while. Don't ask me why. I got the epidural at about 11 a.m. and, while it was certainly not fun, it was not as bad as I thought it might be. It was about as uncomfortable as the IV that was put in my wrist.

My water broke a few minutes after my epidural was in place and as the doctor was walking out of the room a few minutes later I remember saying, "So the water is broken, that means you can't send me home without a baby, right? We're really doing this?" He laughed and said, "Yep, we really are."

When my water broke, I was dilated to 5. Just 2 hours later, I was already at 9. The doctor said that he would check again in an hour and that most likely it would be time to start pushing.  

As we waited, we watched a Superman marathon on AMC. My partner, being a comic book fanatic, took that as a good sign. 

By 4 p.m. it was time to start pushing. I don't know how quickly the contractions were coming because by that time, I had forsaken all of my iPhone contraction counter apps. I could have cared less. I had severe shakes from the epidural coupled with my nerves and I just wanted to get the show on the road. I even turned my phone on airplane mode. 

As the nurses set up the room for delivery, I kept reminding them that I didn't know what I was doing. They either did not listen or did not care. I guess that is a common thing to say but with pushing, the learning curve is steep. You figure it out really quickly!

Someone once told me that she felt like a cow when she was in labor with all modesty thrown out the window. That was true but my partner was a "North Daddy." He remained obediently at my head, holding my chin to chest for each push. That was what I had asked of him and he respected my dignity. Not that he wanted a front-row seat. We were both a little squeamish about that. 

After about 25 minutes of pushing, the doctor and nurses started to become concerned because the baby's heart rate was dropping between contractions. The doctor decided to use a suction device, which thankfully did not scar the baby. It attaches to the baby's head and the doctor pulls while I push. It made quick work of the ordeal and two pushes later, he was out. 

Make no mistake: pushing is hard. It is exhausting, both mentally and physically. I found it all the more challenging because I did not know my baby's gender. I had a hard time focusing on the end goal. I kept looking for my partner's eyes for support. It was exhilarating yet scary. 

And then my son arrived. It was 4:34 p.m. when I heard the doctor say, "We've got a boy!" And suddenly I was crying and I looked at my partner and he was crying and I saw my upside down baby and of course he was crying too. And then he calmed down to be cleaned off and was handed first to his daddy and then to me. 

I expected to see skyrockets and feel like my heart had leaped out of my chest and want to explode with love. It wasn't like that. It was a slow, warm feeling like I had just met someone I was destined to meet. It was like a gradual realization of my fate to be this little guy's mommy and when I held him in my arms for the first time, I whispered, "Hi. I'm your mommy. I love you. Mommy loves you." 

I know that is not original but it was heartfelt. And thankfully babies don't expect poetic prose. 

The rest of that day was a blur. The baby and Daddy were taken to the nursery so that they could bathe him (the baby, not Daddy) and I was served some terrible food that I barely cared about, and my partner and I toasted our son with a small bottle of Prosecco that I had brought in a cooler for the occasion. We spent the rest of the evening fielding calls from our families, staring at our son, and marveling at how incredibly lucky we were to have him. 

That was two weeks ago and still I can hardly look at my son without crying. He is the most beautiful and romantic thing I have ever done. I don't know why the universe gave him to me but he is my special gift. 

I was prepared for the unexpected when it came to motherhood because really, there was no way I could have prepared for how I feel about this little guy, (who I will refer to on this blog as Mo in an effort to give him some semblance of privacy). I think what surprises me the most is how much I love him on an individual level. I think I expected to feel some kind of generic baby love the way you do for a puppy or a kitten. Instead, I love my son for who he is and who he will be. I love him because he is half me and half someone that I truly love. I love him out of respect for his own individuality. Of course, I feel protective and want to body slam anyone who smokes a cigarette within a 2-mile radius of him. But I also want to give him space to be who he wants to be and hope that I am as important to him as he is to me. 

In my life, I have made decisions I was not always proud of. I have found myself lost and scared and heartbroken on more than one occasion. I have made mistakes and I will surely make more but when I glance over at my sleeping baby boy, I am certain that becoming a mother was not one of them. 



Baby Monitor Debate: Sensor, Audio or Video?

Well, I’m on the fence about what baby monitor to choose. Video just seems much more advanced compared to audio – why just have sound? That’s like having a black and white TV when you could have color! But then comes in the sensor monitor, which supposedly alerts you when you’re baby hasn’t moved for 20 seconds – or most likely has stopped breathing.



I’ll tell ya – if money were no object, I would get the video AND the sensor monitor. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not a super paranoid person who you would think would want a sensor monitor, but the reviews are really good and I would like a little piece of mind. Most friends say they think they would be more paranoid if they had the sensor monitor, but all the positive reviews make feel like it is worth a second look.

Any recommendations on the way to go, or the best monitor around?


Got Help? A Big Thanks to Family and Friends

Throughout my pregnancy my Mom and my in-laws offered to come and stay with me and Josh after we had the baby to "help" us out. Time and time again I kindly rejected the offers thinking things like:

"I can do this on my own, I don't need/won't want any help" or
"Josh and I need this time to ourselves to start our family" or
"If I accept help does that mean the grandparents will get to feed, change, play with baby while I cook, clean and do laundry?"

I guess there was also a big part of me that associated accepting help with me not being a capable mother. Well I can say I was naive to think any of this and have since accepted all the help I can get from all interested parties. We've had the luxury of having extremely involved grandparents and friends who continue to show support.


Our parents have taken turns staying with us. In fact my Mother just left after being here for the past week. Last week Josh's Mom was here and Josh's Dad and step-mom arrive tomorrow. It's been a huge help. They do things from grocery shopping, laundry, dishes, cleaning, changing Reese, feeding Reese, babysitting while I catch a nap... the list goes on.

If your family offers help, I suggest seriously taking them up on it. I don't think anyone can really be prepared for a newborn no matter how many books you've read, children you've babysat for and advice you've received. No one can prepare you for the hard stuff that's all worth it. We've successfully made it to week three and find that every day gets better! 

Extended Family 

I'm touched everyday by the love and support we continue to receive from our friends ranging from hospital visits, emails, phone calls and meals! Friends asked what they could do to help after Reese was born and Josh and I agreed that meals would be the most helpful. Just some of the dishes our friends have brought to us include:

Meat Balls
Beef Strew
Halibut with pasta and salad
Thai food
Tri tip with broccoli salad

Having food on hand has been a tremendous help. After a long day of pumping, changing, feeding and calming baby Reese, the last thing I have time to do is cook (even though I LOVE to cook and can't wait to get back to it).

The point: Consider accepting help from family and friends! Be clear with those who offer, exactly how they can help you.