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“So here’s to a child who is joyful and clever. Happy day, happy year, happy always, and ever!”
Happy Birthday Pookie by Sandra Boynton

Happy birthday to our big boy, Ben! It’s hard to believe how much our lives have changed since you arrived but I wouldn’t want it any other way. We are proud of the little person you are and are excited to see how awesome you grow up to be. Love you, Benny Buddy!


Surviving the First Few Weeks

I never gave much thought to how to actually care for Ben once he arrived. I always thought we’d figure it out as we went. Because that was how I prepared (or not), there was a flurry of Amazon purchases in the first few days after coming home from the hospital. I wanted to share the things we’ve been using in the past few weeks that have made living a somewhat normal life possible. I’ve divided the list into things for me and things for Ben.

For Mom:

Button front pjs- Any kind will do. I didn’t think about how my normal pj routine of a t-shirt and shorts wouldn’t really work to nurse Ben easily in the middle of the night.

Yoga pants, nursing camis, and comfy sleep bras: If I’m not leaving the house, I will be wearing these. No joke, that’s what I’m wearing as I type this post. The roll top pants are wonderful to cover and support the really floppy belly in the beginning and give you as much coverage as you need. The nursing tanks are soft and easy to breastfeed while wearing. I found mine on Target’s website as a “daily deal” a few months back and bought several of each basic neutral (black, white, gray) for $11 each. I’m also pretty sure I own every color available of the sleep bras. I’ve been wearing these at night since I started leaking colostrum around 20 weeks and wanted a way to keep breast pads in place. They are supportive without being too tight.

Nursing Bra: Specifically, I went with this one, a black, 3/4 cup, bamboo fiber bra from Womama. It is very difficult for me to find bras that fit right now since the narrow rib cage + larger cup size combination is almost nonexistent in stores. I bought this bra sight unseen from Amazon the day I came home from the hospital and like it a lot. It is very soft and the only issue I have with fit is the band fits a little tighter around my ribs than I would like but that also means when I put it on, it doesn’t budge.

Breast Pads: Since I started using breast pads so long ago already, I have tried several different brands. Medela pads work well but are a little papery and scratchy. Lansinoh’s pads are soft but strangely square in shape so they show through clothes at the edge. Avent breast pads are the best all around that I could find. Thanks to some lovely family characteristics, I have been dealing with oversupply issues and can go through TONS of pads a day. I meant to use reusable pads but the one time I tried that, I woke up completely drenched to the skin so I’m back to the disposable variety.

Medela Pump and Save Breastmilk Bags: I received these as gift and didn’t think I’d use them until after my milk came in and just kept coming! There are times that Ben will nurse on both sides and I’m still uncomfortably full so I pump enough to relieve some of the pressure. I store the milk in the fridge until I have 2 ounces collected (1 or 2 breasts worth), dump the milk into one of these bags, label with the amount and date and toss in the freezer. So far, I have 6 oz frozen, almost 2 oz in the fridge and Ben has drank 2 oz. My hope is to have enough stored up for the 12 hour road trip we’re taking later this month. I want to be able to bottle-feed Ben while on the road so we don’t have to make 20-30 minute pit stops every 3 hours.

For Ben:

Miracle blanket: I know they are expensive. I balked even though I was told over and over again that they are the bee’s knees because I couldn’t justify spending $30 on one blanket. I got one as a gift and we started using it the first night home. Ben loves to be swaddled when sleeping, like most newborns, but he is really, really good at extracting his arms from whatever swaddle we used. The Miracle Blanket has little flaps that wrap over his arms and are pinned down by his body weight so he literally cannot get out. He looks like a little burrito! He wet through the blanket on our second night home so I immediately ordered a second one with 1 day shipping (yay Amazon Prime!) at 5:00 am. They are that amazing and my sleep is worth $30.

Newborn Clothes: Everyone says not to spend too much on newborn clothes since many newborns fit into 0-3 month clothing. Ben is on his second week of newborn attire and will probably make it through 1-2 more. I had about 6 outfits and 3 onesies which isn’t enough when your loving spouse is still learning how to use diapers and the baby continuously pees through several outfits a day for several days in a row. I had to run out and buy more newborn onesies and did lots of laundry to keep Ben clothed.

Aden + Anais Blankets: These blankets are super popular and super worth either registering for or buying yourself. They are HUGE, slightly stretchy because of the fabric’s weave, thin, and very soft. After learning some tips on swaddling by using the Miracle Blanket, both B and I have gotten quite skilled at wrapping Ben up in one of these for naps during the day.

Arm’s Reach Co-Sleeper Mini: I wanted a bed for Ben to sleep by me in our room at night without actually being IN bed with me and learned about this one through Pinterest, of all places. I bought mine used on Craigslist (I know, bad mom move) to save money. I wasn’t worried about it being used after I checked it out. It’s in great shape and I also scored 3 sheets and 2 mattress pads for $50! Ben is only an arms length away from me so rolling over to pop his pacifier in his mouth or grab him to nurse is really simple. We never planned on B doing any night diaper changes or anything since he sleeps so deeply he never wakes up so it’s extra nice to have Ben so close.

Original ErgoBaby carrier with infant insert: Ben loves to be carried and snuggled and sometimes when at home and while out and about, it isn’t possible to carry him or push him in the stroller. I did a lot of research on what carrier to buy and we’re really pleased with this one. The Ergo will fit children up to 45 lbs and is adjustable for people of different sizes, unlike most slings that are sized based on chest measurements. I didn’t want to buy different carriers for B and me and (more likely than not), grab the wrong one on the way out the door. The Ergo distributes the baby’s weight on your hips instead of your back so I can carry Ben around for hours without feeling any discomfort. The real test will be next month when I go to Philly for a conference with B for 5 days. Ben, my mom, and I are going to explore the city and I’m planning on carrying him most of the time.

Pacifier: Ben likes either the Soothie or GumDrop pacifier. They both have the same shaped nipple part. Ben loves to suck on everything. If I let him, he’d nurse for hours just because he likes to suck. We gave him the orange GumDrop on our way home from the hospital and it hasn’t been far from him since.

I know my list of essentials will change as time goes on but these are the items that have helped make the transition into a family of 3 much easier. Questions? Comments?


Ben’s Birth Story

It’s taken a few days of adjusting to the idea that we are parents since Ben’s birth happened so quickly! Maybe if I had a marathon 28 hour labor, we wouldn’t have been so shocked!

I started having different contractions than normal around 1:30 pm on Wednesday, September 19. My BH contractions were strong and effective since I had already been dilated to 5 cm for a week without active labor contractions but these contractions were noticeably different. They wrapped around my lower back and shot pain through my hips. I immediately started sweating like a pig. Since my OB’s policy was that I had to be having labor contractions for an hour before going into L&D, I figured it was perfect since my next OB appointment was at 2:30 and the doctor there could give me the news and send my records ahead to the hospital at the same time.

B had a meeting until 2 and was then going to drive me to my 39 week OB appointment across town. We had arranged it that way since I wasn’t too confident in my ability to drive there and back since I had felt for several days that something was going to happen. He got home and I let him know that we needed to throw the last few things in our hospital bag and put it and the car seat in the car. This had become common practice for us in the last few weeks if both of us were out of the house together since we knew that if my water broke, we’d have a one way ticket to L&D. The contractions were definitely stronger but I was having problems timing them since I had just reformatted my phone and lost my tracking app plus the back pain was riding through from contraction to contraction so I couldn’t figure out when they stopped or started. All I knew was that they hurt a ton!

About halfway to the OB’s office, I got a phone call from their receptionist telling me that the doctor I was supposed to see that afternoon had gotten called out for a delivery and wasn’t going to be able to see me. I informed them that we were coming anyway since we were most of the way there and I was pretty certain I was in labor (but fully expecting to be sent home after being told that I was wrong). They agreed that I should come in and they would pull one of the docs working GYN in for the exam.

Because the doctor was gone, we had to wait an extra long time in the waiting room. I think we sat there for 40 minutes so I didn’t get into the exam room with a doctor until 3:15. I couldn’t sit down because the pain in my hips was so bad. I explained to the doctor what I had been feeling but since I couldn’t tell him how often and long the contractions were, he wasn’t too sure L&D would want to keep me. My water hadn’t broken yet and I was dilated to “about 6” so he figured I could take the chance that they’d admit me and break my water there to get things moving.

We were glad to take that chance but didn’t want to tell anyone we were headed to the hospital, just in case they sent us home. We got to the hospital at 3:45, walked to L&D (9th floor, way far away from the parking garage) and explained the situation to the triage nurse. The OB I was supposed to see had just finished delivering a baby and was close to the desk when we walked in. She was very excited to see that I had made progress (she was the one who I saw at my 38 week appointment). We were walked to a delivery room and I was left to strip down to nothing and put on the most awkwardly shaped hospital gown ever invented. My contractions were strong enough and frequent enough that I wasn’t able to completely strip before the nurse came in to start asking questions and figuring out what the action plan was going to be. She did a quick cervical check and decided to call in the resident OB to take a peek. He decided we could go ahead with an epidural if that is what I wanted (it was) and then they would break my water. My OB okayed the decision and we starting moving forward!

I had to get a certain amount of fluids via IV before getting the epidural and all the while, the contractions were getting much, much stronger. I felt like I was going to crush B’s arm every time I squeezed during the contractions! He told me later that I was barely squeezing at all and I must have been imagining this. Finally, around 5:15 I had gotten enough from the IV for the anesthesiologist to come in. By that point, when she had sterilized my back and numbed the area for the epi cath, she had to tell me to stay still but I couldn’t because my contractions were too close together and there wasn’t enough time in between. It occurred to me at that point that I was making real progress, probably faster than the OB that saw me in the office thought. B, for the sake of his consciousness, took the time for getting the epidural to make a run to the car for the hospital bag and his camera gear. Getting the epidural didn’t hurt at all, which surprised me.

I am very thankful for the epidural for many reasons but the first is that our stress level went from 10 to about a 2 once the meds kicked in. B and I were both able to relax and enjoy being in the hospital and having our baby before the day was over. I could still feel intense amounts of pressure during the contractions but the pain had relaxed a great deal. I wasn’t so numb that I couldn’t feel my legs though. The resident OB checked my cervix again and in the amount of time that it had taken to get the IV fluids and epi, I had dilated from 6 to 9+! I was amazed and kept thinking THAT was why the contractions hurt more and more every time. The doctor broke my water (a very odd experience when you have very little feeling in that area) and was told to relax, maybe even nap, while I could since at some point, I would feel the need to start pushing.

B and I had just settled in with our mobile devices to spread the word that the baby was on his way when the nurse popped in to check why the fetal heart monitor stuck to my belly wasn’t getting a good signal. She couldn’t make it any better so she started looking at other vital signs and decided it was time to call in the resident OB, my OB, the baby’s nurse and her assistant. In a matter of 2 minutes, our room filled with people and the doctor was coaching me on how to push. I pushed through 2 contractions in sets of three (push, push, push, rest and repeat) and kept hearing that I was doing great. Between the first and second contractions, the team told me they could see his head and started guessing if he would have blond or red hair (B is blonde, I am very red). I am still thrilled that our choices for this birth gave us the opportunity to laugh and joke around while trying to birth a small being into the world. I pushed once for the third contraction and on the second push, Benjamin Alfred arrived at 7:48 pm! We had been in the hospital a total of 4 hours and now had a baby!

I didn’t cry then; I was too amazed at what had just happened, but I’m tearing up now just thinking about how cool of an experience it was. I came through the labor with a level 2 vaginal tear (tissue and muscle) so I required sutures that are still quite painful but not impossible to live with. Other than the fact that my belly is round and squishy and am feeling pain from the healing sutures, I’d have a hard time believing I had a baby only a few days ago.