Posts in 31 Days
Having Baby: Packing a Hospital Bag
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This is a real fun post to write, but hey - I've answered it in email form many times lately and found the web of pinterest lists that were meant to help only confused me.  So here's my must-have hospital list.  Know that I am generally more on the minimalist side of things.  I hate extra stuff.  I hate having tons of bags.  And I really hate spending $$ on things I won't use.  So know this is a real list of the things I really used most.

1. My own water bottle:  I took my 24 ounce mason jar tumbler with me and had Luke refill it over and over and over and over.  They fit in the car cup holder, hold a ton of water and kept me from spilling water on myself and Truman.  I'm a little clutzy from time to time.

2. Black Nightgown:  Target's Gilligan & O'Malley line is my most favorite.  Love all their black gowns because one - if your milk leaks, no one can tell, two - they're cozy and three - I'm still wearing them.  This one in particular is sleeveless and loose enough to pull to the side to nurse baby.  I was also a hot person...still am...so this was perfect and allowed me to cover up with blankets if need.  Plus.  Black.  Hides all the things.  I took 2 nightgowns, which was good for me.  We stayed the night T was born (11pm birth) and an additional night so this was all I needed.  And when you're in labor they make you rock the hospital gown, so hey.  No need there.  Here I am rocking my nightgown, all cool and comfy.

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3. One Nursing Tank:  Now you know yourself more than I do, but I hate constricting things, and nursing tanks are a bit of that to me.  This was a good one to have on when folks visited.  I wore a cardigan over it and could nurse easily if needed.  It's also available in black and made me feel a little more human.

4. 3-4 Pairs Underwear:  LOVE THESE.  Still do.  I bought a size up from normal and I still wear them at night, though much more loose and cozy.  This fabric is great, forgiving, cozy, doesn't have a band to push on incisions or the like.  I bought two packs in black (surprise!) and am still so so so glad I did.  They're not the best underwear for wearing with real clothes, but for laying around with a babe or being cozy they're the best.

5. Leaving the hospital outfit: I left the hospital in my favorite maternity leggings.  They're long enough and cozy, but still have enough pressure to help hold all the things together.  They're also black and super tall which feels super on your squishy tummy.   I wore them with a black v-neck, my favorite pair of ballet slippers and a longer sweatshirt cardigan that tied at the waist.  This made me feel like a human, cinched my waist at the only place I still had one and covered my behind since I was wearing leggings as pants.  But listed.  I was comfy.  It was also blue which worked out nice for a boy, but really is a good color on me - so again - anything that makes you feel more excellent is wise in my book.  Look at me.  I even look tan in my blue with my straight hair.  Hurrah!

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6. Camera - Won't bore you with these specifics because we're both photogs, so you're likely not packing to the hospital what we are.  But charged batteries, battery chargers, extra memory etc. are essential.  PLEASE don't just take photos on your iphone.  It's tempting, but what if it crashes before you get home, the quality isn't thaatttt awesome for printing heirloom hospital images and such so yes.  Bring a camera.

7. Nursing Bra:  Soma's nursing bra's were BY FAR my favorite.  They are expensive, yes, so I waited to see if I could tough out nursing to spend on 2 more, but what I should have done was buy 2 of these (they're discounted at two) the week before I had T in a non-snug size.  Take one to the hospital - wear it home.  Wear it until your milk comes in THEN decide if it fits well and either exchange the other for a different size or keep it.  I am not a small busted lady, but not huge either and I was two cups larger than before - and those 3 target bras I tried to 'save money on' made me miserable and are sitting in my closet if anyone wants them.  Spend here.  It makes a world of difference in your nursing longevity.

8.  Baby Book Parts: I used a project life book for Truman, because that works best for our photo heavy ways, so I took the little 'baby feet' card and also had 2 others and told Luke to insist that they make several foot prints.  Still glad I did.  These cards were also perfect because they're small and easy to hand over to the nurse to stamp and then toss in with our paperwork.

9.  Cell phones and chargers:  Pack the chargers.  You'll need them.

10.  Toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, facewash, razor, blow dryer, straightener: the skinny version of what you use to get ready in one tidy bag.  I have crazy curly hair that annoys me if it's sticking all over my face, so drying my hair and washing it with my smelly hair products made me a happy, clean person.  PACK YOUR HUSBAND A NEW TOOTHBRUSH in case things go South there.  Luke had his own bag packed, too, but I had another toothbrush just in case he forgot.  Cause listen.  Nothing's worse than a bad-breathed push-partner.

11.  Aveda Blue Oil:  I'm not an 'oils person' persay, but I've always LOVED Aveda's fragrance and this one in particular keeps me from nausea.  Sniffed it like I was doing drugs the whole hour I pushed and then wore it like perfume to keep the hospital smells at bay.  It was necessity for me.

12.  My own towel: Brought my favorite hair towel and one cozy towel from home.  Hair towel for my 2 foot hair was necessary, but I could have survived without my own towel from home but I was still glad I had it to be cozy in.

13.  Diaper bag: Packed with one going home outfit for baby.  Yes, one.  People show up with clothes as gifts should a diaper disaster happen.  2 diapers for the ride home (take the hospital diapers and wipes you have left..you paid for them!), one swaddle blanket and that's about it.  Everything you need you'll be sent with.  And you're just going home and you'll pass plenty of Targets should you need something, but you won't.  You'll be all "Let's stop and get some real food, babe."

14.  Cheap Flip Flops and new socks: I brought one pair of cheap flip flops for hospital walking and showering.  Wore them during labor and after for showers.  New socks are divine, so pack 5 pairs of your favorite and change them as needed to get a fresh dose of comfy.  It's helpful.

15.  Car seat with base, installed:  Just have this bad boy in your car, ready to roll and send your hubby for it when it's time to head home.  We didn't need it to checkout, I suppose, but we popped Truman in it and rolled out, no questions asked.  We also wished we had installed our car seat mirror, as you'll find all the baby noises in the first car ride turn into scary noises.  Weird, but true.  Mirror adds a bit of comfort.

16.  Pen and paper stuff: insurance cards (I put copies of them in Luke's bag in case I became a hot mess at any point - this made me feel better), vending machine quarters just in case, drivers license.

17.  Stool softener: Follow the directions and just keep taking it until things are moving.  And chances are you'll need it a bit after that.  And if it's scares you a bit, you can always take it before you get to the hospital to see how things work out for ya.  But don't do hospital time without it.

18. Pads with Wings: Hospital Pads and mesh underwear were fine for me at the hospital for the first 24, but after that I chose these for the added assurance of more coverage.  Fun stuff.  But listen.  They help.

19.  Book or Kindle: Almost forgot!  I read nearly a whole book while I was in the early stages of labor.  Kept me up walking, passed the time and kept my mind occupied.  Isn't for everyone, but it was a saving grace for me.

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Think that's about it.  As for Luke's bag, I had him pack a couple changes of clothes (socks and underwear emphasized), a pair of proper and athletic shorts (I'm hot....all the AC was always high, high and he was glad to have classier bottoms on when meeting T), a sweatshirt, blanket and two pillows.  We used old pillows with matching cases that were weird so we wouldn't overlook them.  We tossed the pillows as we left and kept the cases for a deep clean.  Mostly because I'm weird about my pillows, but I was glad for them.  He had his toiletries, a list of people we needed to tell with their contact info, a book, headphones and copies of our important medical infos.  That was about it.  He used my hospital towel in the shower, the shampoo they gave us and was generally a super flexible person, happy with his small man bag.

Deciding Where to Register for Baby
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When we found out we were expecting lil T, it wasn't exactly on the life schedule and thus, I wasn't quite into it.  Which meant I left registering until the last hour and didn't want to roll up into the big box baby stores with my scanner gun.  I also really like to research products before I buy and know I'm getting the best deal.  So.  The internets!  And even better - my most favorite part of the buying internets - Amazon!  Here are the tips I gleaned in the process - feel free to leave your wisdom in the comments!

1. Amazon's Registry Button - Click here and you'll follow a link to add Amazon's registry button to your browser.  This was the perfect reason for me to use Amazon as my home base of registering.  I was able to add products from big box stores all the way down to my favorite newborn (and beyond!) baby carrier, the Solly Wrap.  It is similar to Pinterest's 'pin it' button, but also allows you to add quantities and notes.  I used the notes section to let people know which items I felt were must haves, which catered to Dad and colors of items I was wishing for etc.

Overall, really helpful and kept me from having to have too many registries, because while I liked an item or two at Pottery Barn Kids, I didn't want to send people on a goose chase nor did I want to be the girl with 6 registries.  Returns were easy through amazon, they also have Prime for Mommas which, I understand, can be super helpful in the days of diaper subscriptions. Other bonus is that if someone isn't comfy using amazon, they can always grab a gift card for you at the nearest gift card kiosk and those are little gems when you're home hibernating with a newborn and you really need this baby widget.  Overall Amazon's baby registry fielded next to zero complaints from my gift buyers, was super easy to evaluate products based on reviews and provided a little guide to things for baby I was maybe forgetting.  And hello, I could add items from Ikea.

2.  Target - At first, I was just going to add Target items to my Amazon registry, and while I did, they often run out of items, only have them in store or online and it was becoming a little tricky.  In the end I folded and added a Target registry for a few reasons.  Coupons.  Hey.  Registering at Target saved me at least $10 in coupons for nursing supplies I needed in the early days.  A whole little welcome care package just like when you register for you wedding, full of affiliate promotions.  Free snapfish photos, anyone?

Registering also allows you to make returns that didn't have receipts without it counting against their store policy annual limit of $45 or something equally crazy.  This helped me a LOT when folks gave us repeat onesises and I didn't know where they came from.  I would head into Target with my bag of unidentified returnables, they would scan them to see if they were Target goods and for the ones that were, they gladly returned them with no receipt for store credit or cash.  Hey.  Can't beat that.  They were also great about exchanges.  But the registering piece allows them to scan your registry each time and gives you more returns leeway.  If you know what I'm talking about, this'll be useful to you - if you don't, you may be my only friend who doesn't often return items to Target...

And hey - who doesn't go to Target?  Makes shopping for the next baby shower easy on your busy Mommy friends.  Now if only Target would update their registry system so it was  easier to use and consistently available...  Again, if you've had this problem, you know what's up!

3.  BuyBuyBaby - Uhm, hey.  This place calls for a nap after each visit because it's so overly visually stimulating, but when I want to get my hands on a product, they almost always have it.  They also have great coupons as they're owned by Bed, Bath and Beyond - so registering gets you a coupon, via mail, email and test, as does having everyone you know sign up for coupons.  Got all of Truman's cloth diaper collection for much cheaper than sticker price thanks to those bad boys I had sent to my sister, mother and parents-in-law.

Their site also has a few great options for comparing goods like strollers (eek!) and carseats that I found helpful.  Reviews here are also very thought out, and thus very useful.

Pros to shopping or registering in-store?  They have ALL the strollers are car seats.  You can drive them, touch them, fold them up, test em out and it's really worth getting your hands on the goods that cost the mostest.  Especially when you have a long-legged, tall husband who needs to be able to reach the stroller to help push.  I was planning on a $400+ stroller due to good online reviews, but thanks to a friend tip and a trip to BBB, I found a much smaller, easier to use and better-for-us stroller that I got for a bit under $150.  Not sure if I would have the stalker-salesperson stamina to register in-store, but hey - to each their own!

4.  Babies R Us - This place.  Oh my.  Can't say I enjoyed any experience there, but they were helpful when I needed to return items, always issuing a store credit without me having a registry there.  Lines are long, high school boys they employ aren't helpful, and our store is a literal dirty train wreck each time I go.  They do carry a few items I needed and they have a giant breastfeeding section that comes in handy when I can't pop in BBB's store in Lex.  But overall, I tried to avoid the timesuck this place is.

There you have it.  All my unsolicited advice on how we chose to register where and why.  I still think Amazon's registry is the bee's knees and loved that it allowed me to incorporate so many different stores.  Bonus: 9 out of 10 Americans can use it.  Seems logical to me, anyway.

Just what I asked for: A birth story

My linear, self-serving mind says to start this thing off with a bang: Truman's birth story.  For a few reasons.  I tend to process things through images and about 6-8 months after it happens, so it's about that time.  I need to check it off my 'needs to be blogged' list.  It is quite a testament to our God who gives good gifts, in so many ways, but more importantly a lesson in my own life that God works in prayer.  He responds.  He hears.  And he brought us to one of the best, most gracious and kind ladies I've ever met.  She was the first person to hold our little Truman. As I've discussed and aluded to in the past, Truman wasn't exactly in our newlywed plan for life, so when we learned of his coming, the first person to know was my too-great-for-words doctor.  At around 5 weeks pregnant, she was a great comfort to us, she spoke truth over the situation and stuck with me when I was less than kind and basically silent for most of my doctors appointments.  Towards the end of my weekly visits, she reminded me to text her if I was thinking of heading to the hospital and she'd meet us there to deliver Baby S whether she was working or not.  Hello giant gift of undeserved love and kindess towards me that I DID NOT DESERVE.  The whole time I was pregnant, I had a difficult time praying for Baby S.  I prayed, but certainly not with a whole heart and not in the way I would hope to do for any future kiddos, birthed or otherwise.  But lets be real.  I managed to get out the healthy baby prayer, a selfish plea for a good nurser (yeaaa.....) and solely out of fear: my hopes and wishes for delivery.  But God.  He delivered.

Using Val Marie's prayer journal was my favorite and still is - I highly suggest you run to get yourself one of these sweet prayer holders.  It was in those pages that I wrote out wishes for the least stressful and most normal birth possible.  I wanted to head to the doctor for a normal appointment, learn quietly that I needed to pack up and head stress-free to the hospital.  I wanted to have Baby S as naturally as possible - whatever that looked like for me was fine - experience natural labor, drugs or no drugs, whatever - just stress free and no puking.  Yea.  Cause you need to know how I feel about that - I AM WAY AGAINST ANYTHING that has to do with puke.  Cause duh.  It's terrible.  I wanted my doctor to get to deliver Baby S and hoped to spend the least amount of time at the hospital.  My hope was to be as mentally present as I could be for meeting babe, for my husband to be the one who told me the sex of little Truman and for Baby S to be healthy as a horse and on the small side.  All of that: check, check, check.  So here we go.

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After heading to the doc for my standard, weekly appointment - and on my due date, no less - I was still dilated between a 3 and 4 as I had been for a couple weeks, 75% effaced and loosing amniotic fluid slowly.  A quick ultrasound confirmed I was about half out of fluid, so Dr.B asked if we were ready to have a baby today and if I had questions.  I asked for a brief rundown of what would happen at the hosptial once I got there and if we had time to run home and she said yes!  Run home and grab your things, don't be slow, but don't rush.  It was all quite calm.  We got our bags, stopped for Jimmy Johns on the way and started getting giddy.  Honestly, I wasn't afraid, concerned or worried at this point.  Just doing the things.  I had an apple and some water, ate my sandwich and we were soon at the hospital.

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They admitted me, hooked me up, had me change into...nothing.  Hah.  Got me all question and answered, IV in (I've always had a terrible time with my veins being found, but it was cake!) and after seeing I was having random contractions that I couldn't feel, started me on pitocin.  This was around 1pm.  I spent the next 2-3 hours standing in my room, reading a book on my kindle.  To be honest, the first two hours, I was having contractions, but feeling nothing besides tightness.  That last hour they started to hurt, which the nurse seemed glad about because they kept adding pitocin but my body was just chilling.

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Around 5 or 6, contractions started being more painful and were hard for me to stand through so I tried laying down on my side which was a help.  I hung out for about an hour like that - with 2-3 minute contractions about 30 seconds to a minute apart.  Around 6 I decided I needed an epidural.  Truman was still sunny side up, Dr. B appeared and talked me through a few contractions and I asked how much worse they would be.  The nurse and B confirmed that it would continue to get stronger and stronger, though they were backing way off on the pitocin.  Doing so because the contractions made a quick jump in speed and intensity, but they would still keep coming.  Obviously.  I decided I was down for an epidural and asked for it quickly.  Ha.

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Though the epidural came, it wasn't quickly enough in my book. They checked me when I asked for it and I was at 7cm.  While waiting for the anesthesiologist to come sweet Luke read me scripture I had prepared, Dr. B filled the in betweens with scripture from her brain (listen....she's the best) and I kept working through contractions with Truman still turned the wrong way. Also.  Back labor is no joke.  Finally they came to give me the good stuff.  Getting an epidural honestly was cake.  I was so glad for it, but the pain of transition (which we later figured out was happening during my epidural) was more than I could handle, so any pain I should have felt I didn't notice.  Hardest part was sitting still for the actual insertion while having contractions.  Oh my!  Once it started to work, I basically felt nothing but some movement and tightening in my stomach.  They checked me again and I was at 10cm.  Boom.  10cm but still sunny side up, so they turned me on my side and let me rest for 30 minutes, then turned me to the other side and did the same.  My Mom and sister, Abby, came back to say hello and brought me some beautiful tulips to stare at.  This was the only time I felt uneasy.  The epidural was working perfectly but had given me the chills (that and the arctic room I'd ordered up) so there was a lot of shaking and chattering of teeth.  All the turning worked though and best I could tell, Truman had turned.  Dr. B appeared again and announced that it was time to start pushing.

Our sweet friend Deanna made most of these pictures from here on.  Like I said I really hate tossing my cookies, so smelling this kept the nausea at bay.  I think the only complaint I had during labor (I'm not a big talker during pain, y'all) was the nausea.  Sweet Dr. B ordered up a dose of those nausea meds women who are really struggling with morning sickness take, it worked like a charm.  Pretty sure they put it in my IV - I still have no clue.  Those IV's were pumping me up all day, which maybe hindsight wasn't a highlight because I looked way puffy at the end of delivery, but oh well.  The next day I was back to not having 3 chins, just 2.

So I'll spare you the really personal (too-naked) photos of me pushing.  But push, I did, for a bit more than an hour.  I ended up hitting the oxygen pretty hard at the end.  Just felt a little faint during pushing.  I also felt like I was pushing so much and not getting lots of rest time in, so that really helped me.  Blue oil and oxygen kept me up and working.

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And then little Truman was born!  Dr. B was the first one to hold that little fellah, see her there on the right?  So glad about that.  She was great.  She was the perfect, prayerful, quiet encourager during my whole delivery and was such a comfort to have a doctor who is also a believer.  I know Luke will agree with me when I say we are SO THANKFUL for her quiet, confident bedside manner and just the genuine woman of God that she is.  She was informative, but never once over-informed me and made me frightful.  She was constantly reminding me of scripture that spoke to my ability in Christ to birth a baby and being made to do so.   Can't say enough good about her.  Really.  Total gift from the Lord that we did not deserve.  As was Truman, his little self.

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Just the bitty baby I prayed for.  6 pounds, 7.8 ounces.

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This is Truman.  Everyday.  All day.  Hands up on his chest, looking around.

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Our dear besties, Will and Ashley, drove all the way over and hung in the waiting room.  Love them.  So thankful for their preggo friendship and their sweet son, Grant, who will get to grow with little T.  Neither of us knew what sex of babe we'd be having, so two boys was quite a treat.

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5 Months later and looking at this photo and all I can think is we look like babies.  5 months ago!  So glad these images exist and can't wait to look at them in a year, 5, 10, 20...crazy.

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Pretty much everything post-delivery was cake.  They cut my drugs, my shakes and chills stopped pretty soon.  My feeling came back to my legs within the hour.  I moved myself from the delivery bed to another and they wheeled us past the nursery where we dropped T off and headed to our room to rest a minute.  It was around 1:30am at this point.  Only time I felt an ounce less than perfect after delivery was when the elevator took off to move us between floors.  I wasn't quite ready for the sensation and though it only lasted a minute, it was a queasy, disorienting minute.  But Truman was with me as well as our fab nurse and I forgot it as soon as it happened.

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So that's it folks.  It really was cake.  My experience was 1000x less worse than I thought and I absolutely attribute that to a good God who gave a sweet gift to his kiddos.  The gift of an easy and calm delivery and the blessing of a sweet son who has already been such a little joyful light in our lives, to our families and to all the women he flirts with in Kroger.  

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