Wednesday, November 9, 2016

2 Months of Parenting

Okay so I'm a little late on this one, but it's never too late to brag about your cute little people.  Right?

Clara is a little over two months old now, and I cannot believe it. They tell you the time flies by.  You believe them.  But you don't truly understand how fast it goes until you're living it.

Clara absolutely loves seeing mommy first thing in the morning.  She will crack a huge smile when I peak into her crib and start un-swaddling her. 

She is an amazing sleeper!  I put her down at 8:20 nearly every night and she sleeps until 6ish.  She's also sleeping in her own room.  

We're mostly breast feeding, however we're also doing some supplementing too.  Going back to work has been hard on my milk supply, and I didn't have a whole lot stashed before my return.  But we aren't ready to quit.  I'm pumping and nursing every day, doing my best to provide for my baby girl. 

Being back at work is hard, but Corey is father of the year.  He takes Clara to the sitter ever morning, gets her all dressed and ready, and even remembers to make our bed (the only neat thing about our tornado house) before he leaves. 

Clara is the center of our world and I can't believe that I get to be her mommy.  Every day I spend with her is a blessing.  When I feed her before bed I hold her close and I often cry just wishing that time would slow down.  

Here is to another successful month of parenthood!

Monday, November 7, 2016

Pregnancy Nostalgia and Other Weird Things About Motherhood

When you're 90 months pregnant and so very ready to evict the tiny being growing inside you, people tell you, "You are going to miss this!"  They say it every time you make the slightest complaint about your pregnancy or when you say "I can't wait to meet my baby!"  Everyone tells you not to wish it away and that you will miss being pregnant. 

I never thought in a million years those people would be right.  I thought, "I've had an easy pregnancy and I don't feel like I'm going to miss this!" 

I was 100% incorrect on that one.  And if you know me at all you know that I hate little more than admitting that I'm wrong. 

I totally miss being a big old pregnant lady.  I miss my cute little bump and my stretchy maternity clothes.  I miss feeling Clara roll around inside my belly and laughing at strangers saying "You're about to pop."  I miss laying in bed and night and feeling Corey reach over to rub my belly or give it a goodnight kiss.  And I miss that anticipation of wondering what my little girl would be like. 

I can't believe how wrong I was about this.  But that's not the only weird thing about being a mom.  There are so many weird things about motherhood that I've discovered over the past couple of months. 

I am constantly talking about my child. I seriously want to talk about her all the time.  I don't remember the last time I had a conversation that didn't start or end with something about my daughter. 

I am so sensitive and I cry about everything! They don't tell you this when you're sitting at the OBGYN and getting all prepped for parenthood.  I don't know if it's hormones or what, but the other day, I cried because I saw two really happy old ladies on the jumbotron at the Jazz

My hair is always a hot freaking mess. My daughter is really a great little baby.  She sleeps through the night (or STTN as all the mommy FB groups say), she is growing like a weed, and she demands very little attention.  But some how, the second I go to fix my hair, she wants to cry.   Or I'll have to nurse and the only practical thing is a top knot rat's nest.  Let's just call it like it is. 

I feel constant pressure to be a certain type of mommy.  Can you say hashtag MomGuilt?  I swear I have never worried so much about what I'm doing than when it comes to my child.  Am I at work too late?  Should I be interacting with her more?  Should I eat oatmeal for every meal to boost my milk supply?  Is supplementing with formula going to make my child develop slower?  Are these car seat straps right?  I'm not kidding, this list goes on and on.  I could write 10 post about momguilt. 

I worry I don't have anything in common with my non-mom friends anymore.  I haven't hung out with any of my friend who aren't parents, and I'm scared to.  See my point about the Clara-word-vomit.  

My house work is just not getting done.  The other day I spilled some chips onto the floor.  I cleaned up most of them then needed to vacuum the rest of the crumbs. The crumbs sat there for at least 24 hours. 

What crazy things have you noticed about motherhood?  I feel like my list could be 50 items long.  

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

5 Secrets to Giving the Perfect Gift

There's a book out there somewhere all about love languages.  One of those love languages is receiving gifts.  Well, no offense to the love language book, but I think you forgot one:  Giving gifts.

I absolutely love to give gifts.  But not just any gift.  I like to really put some thought behind the things I give people.  For example, one year for Christmas, I gave my sister the beginnings of a scrap book that we could work on together and add more of our memories.  Another year, I made my mom Christmas ornaments out of things like paper plates, pipe cleaners, and old photos of my sisters and me.  It was sentimental and exactly my kind of gift.  

And lets be honest, who doesn't love that moment when your sister opens your gift on her birthday and tears instantly come to her eyes?  To me, that's the best feeling in the world. 

Today I'm going to share 5 secrets to giving the perfect gift (even if you are never that person who brings the emotion to the birthday party. 

1//  Remember that you are giving this gift, not receiving it. 

One of the biggest mistakes people make when shopping for a gift, is they shop for themselves when looking for a gift. When you think "Well I would like to get that..." You're not shopping for your boyfriend or your husband, or your mother-in-law, you're shopping for yourself.  

2//  Shop in the right place. 

If your shopping for your friend who is all about sustainability and "green" business practices, you may want to shop at a place like Uncommon Goods rather than a large franchise.  You're more likely to find that unique gift that your friend can truly appreciate.  

3//  Know what occasion you're shopping for. 

One of the best things about Uncommon Goods, is that they break down their products by occasion.  For example, I'm looking for a gift for Corey's and my first anniversary.  I can go here and find all kind of creative ideas.

4//  Think outside the box.

One of the best ways to do this is to purchase a personalized gift. Why buy newlyweds a blender, when you can get them a personalized piece of art that they can hang in their family home for the rest of their married lives?  This one is my personal favorite.  You can check out more personalized gifts here

5//  Show them that you know them.

Picking up a shot glass in the gift shop for someone who doesn't drink probably wouldn't go over so well.  Really look for that perfect birthday gift.  Something personal like this fillable book could be the best possible gift for someone who is more sentimental that material.  (hint hint Corey ;)

I promise, if you use these 5 tips when you're searching or the perfect gift, you will not fail.  You can thank me later when on Christmas day, mom is crying over the gift you gave her being exactly what she never knew she wanted.  ;)

A few things worth noting:  I like to support businesses where I believe in their mission.  I chose to work with Uncommon Goods because of they cultivate a community of artists and quality products. Buying from a place you truly want to support could make your gift the perfect one all by its self. 

*This post was sponsored by Uncommon Goods. All opinions are my own.*

Thursday, October 6, 2016

5 Tips for the Working Mom

On Monday I went back to work.  For those of you who may not know, I work as a manager at a call center.  I am over the training department.  The company I work for is a start up.  That means that we are growing very quickly and constantly.  Things change every day.  That means that I am a workaholic.  The last few months of not worrying about work have been complete heaven, but going back to work has been somewhat refreshing. 

The last week of my maternity leave I did a few things to prepare to head back to work.  I cleaned my house, sent a few emails and started working on my plans for how I'm going to survive being a working mom. So far things are going really well. 

Here's a few tips for making that tough transition to full time mom and full time employee. 

1//  Get your clothes in order
One of my biggest worries for going back to work was getting there on time.  To try to ease this worry I took a few steps during my last week of leave.

I washed all my clothes and organized my closet and dresser.   This way when I go to dress myself, I know where my work pants and shirts are at.  No more digging through everything I own and taking 45 minutes just to FIND my clothes that are appropriate for work.

2//  Do parts of your morning routine at night
As much as I like to have a shower in the morning, I haven't had a lot of time for them in the AM.  Sometimes I get one in the morning, but I have more time to get us ready.  
I also used to make Corey lunch in the morning.  Now I pack most of it at night and save myself about 10 minutes every morning. 

3//  Don't get back in bed.
You WILL fall back to sleep.  You WILL be late.  Your make up WILL be all smudged.  And you will not start that day out right. 

 4// Have a back up plan for childcare
I use a private baby sitter for childcare.  That being said, she will occasionally need days off.  I've made sure my employer is okay with me working from home if necessary to take care of Clara if the sitter is unable.  I also have a back up for my back up.  Knowing I'm covered when I'm back at work is a huge relief. 

5// Meal plan
I am the cook at home. Corey's specialties are microwave dinners, ramen noodles, and frozen pizza.  While there is nothing wrong with that, I don't want him microwaving dinner every night  To keep that from happening, I meal plan.  The hardest part of cooking every night is deciding what to make with the stuff I've got at home, and that causes me a lot of stress.  Having a meal plan saves time and ensures that I have everything I need to make what we're having.  

Monday, October 3, 2016

8 Things You Should Be Doing to Earn Your Next Promotion

Today was my first day back at work!  Leaving my baby at home for 8 hours was possibly the hardest thing I've had to do as a parent so far, but I know it will be nice to be back in the office. 
I haven't shared a whole lot about what I do here on the blog, and I always say there is no time like the present!

I started working for a Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) company in June of 2015.  I had just moved back from Las Vegas and I was wanting a summer job to keep me busy and put some money in my pocket.  I never expected I would still be there over a year later, but I ended up working really hard and getting promoted very quickly. Within a few weeks I was placed on a tier 2 team and training other representatives.  Shortly after that, I became the trainer and as the company has grown, so has my position.  I owe each promotion I've gotten to each of these secrets to success below.

8 Things you should be doing to earn your next promotion

1// Dressing to impress.

My grandma told me when I was younger that you should always dress for the job you want, not for the job you have.  I really don't even know why she told me that.  I didn't get my first job till after she passed away.  But let me tell you, she was right.  Dressing professionally even when you don't HAVE to will get you noticed.  I know of employees who were promoted based on the fact that they always looked the part. 
 Dress one grade fancier than you're required.  If you wear a uniform make sure every hair is in place, you're clean shaven, and you don't look like you just rolled out of bed.  Use an iron and for the love of all that is working, brush your teeth.  

2// Showing your worth

Employers want to see that you're valuable.  They want to be able to put you in a position and see that you can excel no matter where they place you.  When you're given the opportunity to give input, do so.  If you have a chance to make a suggestion or affect change, don't wait to be asked! Showing that you're valuable is extremely important to earning your next promotion.

 Always do your best work.  Even if you're doing something extremely easy and below your skill level.  If you're given a task that requires a more efficient process, implement it and share your results when you're finished.  The proof will be in the work you produce. 

3// Going the extra mile

Doing the bare minimum is never going to get you noticed.  In fact, it will make you invisible. Aiming for exceptional is what will get you noticed.  Set yourself apart from other employees by impressing a client or customer with your customer care skills, your knowledge, or your efficiency. 
Take any and all chances to participate in work activities.  This shows a sense of community in the work place which is important for supervising and management.  If you're working with a client or a customer, do your very best to ensure they have the best possible experience.  Who knows, they may even leave you a positive review!

4//  Showing up

Showing up to work is half the battle.  It's important that you're there when you're scheduled.  If your attendance is poor or you frequently request time off, you'll look as if work is not a priority and you won't be there to handle more responsibility.

5// Showing your willingness to learn

Being teachable is very important.  You may think you know everything there is to know about your job, but there is always more you can learn.  

6// Being kind and sociable

Being in management or supervising a team is very different than being a team member.  Of course you still need to able to do the tasks you ask of your team, but there is more to it than that.  You should be a trusted resource for your colleagues.  Employers like to see that you can interact with other well and build rapport. 

7// Following the rules

This is a no brainer, however, if you're an overachiever, this may be harder than you think.  For example, if you're policy is that each department handles different aspects of a customer's experience then you should only provide them with what you are permitted to provide.  If they need something another department should do, allow them to do so.  Breaking rules, even if it's to help a customer, is not going to be received well. 

8//  Being a team player 

This can have a lot of different meanings.  To me, being a team player is mostly about being observant and listening to others.  Recognizing that team work makes the dream work is an important part of being a valuable employee.  
I'll leave you with a bonus tip for earning your next promotion: 
Always take a chance.  If your employer posts a listing that you're interested in, apply.  They can't promote you if they don't know who you are!  I work for a smaller company where everyone knows everyone.  I didn't need an interview to get my job, but you probably will! And if at first you don't succeed, keep on trying! It's so important not to give up.  The more your boss sees you in the interview chair, the more likely you are to earn a promotion.  

Friday, September 23, 2016

The 4th Trimester

Being a mom is great.  I absolutely love being a parent.  This morning Clara and I sat on the couch while she smiled at me over and over and I just cried.  It's the most amazing thing I have ever done in my life. 
And I know you're waiting for the "but"  so here it comes:
But recovering from pregnancy and child birth is so hard.  Before pregnancy I was a size 1.  I didn't have a single stretch mark.  I had never weighed more than 110 lbs.  You can imagine that when I stepped on the scale at 4 weeks postpartum I was a little bit discouraged to see 138.  
I've had a lot a people say things like "I don't feel bad for you"  or "OMG you're tiny! Pregnancy didn't affect your body at all."   And really, that isn't fair for them to say.  Pregnancy takes over your body and it has made it something I don't recognize.  I try to put clothes I wore before pregnancy and I can't get my thighs in them.  I try putting on maternity clothes and I'm drowning.  It's that 4th trimester in between that causes me disappointment every morning when I get dressed. 
Now that I'm just over 5 weeks postpartum I'm going to start exercising again.  In my due date group on Facebook one of the admins started a work out challenge and it started today.  I started today with my squats.  We're using this challenge from Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans
We're also doing a planking challenge.  This one isn't exactly the same, but it's similar to what we'll be doing and it's from the same bloggers at Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans. The great thing about planks is they're great for women who are recovering from pregnancy.  It's easier on your recovering abs.
Planksgiving: Do Planks, Give Thanks w/the Sisterhood #shrinkingjeans #planksgiving #exercise #fitness

We're doing another ab challenge as well, however I'm waiting for the go-ahead from my OB before I start that one.

I'll be sharing some exercise videos on my Facebook page each week along with progress photos.  Stay tuned for more!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

8 Must-Haves For the New Mom

*This post contains affiliate links.  I use all of the products linked and I swear by them!*
When you become a mom, the world changes.  Okay, so maybe the whole world doesn't change, but a lot of things do. 

The other day I had some errands to run.  In order to run those errands I had to feed the baby till she was asleep so I could shower.  I had to dress myself.  I had to dress my baby.  I had to make sure her diaper bag had all the essentials. I had to make Corey lunch and get out the door before 12:30.  

All I wanted to eat for lunch was a teriyaki place near Walmart.  In order to go inside I'd have to take the baby out of the car, lug her inside for all of 6 minutes while I ordered and waited for my food. Then I'd have to lug her out with my food in hand, forgetting about a drink because I just didn't have enough hands for that.  

So I decided to go home and eat a bag of cookies and left over spaghetti instead.  Life as I knew it is over and a new one as begun.  But lucky for me, I've found a few things that make my life a lot easier.  

1// Munchkin Bottle Drying Rack
When I was registering for things, I didn't really think I needed a separate drying rack for bottles. When my counter was taken over by bottles and pump parts to where they wouldn't fit on my regular drying rack with the dishes.  I  bought mine last week and it has already made my kitchen cleaner.  

2// Boppy Nursing Pillow
I thought this would be a totally overrated mommy novelty.  I was promptly proven wrong.  My Boppy is a complete life saver when it comes to night time feedings or when Clara is feeling fussy and doesn't want me to put her down.  The Boppy gives my arms a rest.  

3// Pack 'n Play
These aren't new.  My mom used one when we were growing up, but they've changed a little since I was born. they have bassinets, changing tables, nappers, and the bottom comes up so you don't kill your back reaching in the pick up the baby.  I use mine literally every day during naps and I love it. 

4// Lansinoh Breast Milk Storage Bags
This is another thing I didn't buy prior to having Clara.  I didn't know I'd need it.  But it's already been a live saver.  When I want to go out with Corey I can take some milk out of the freezer and my baby can benefit from breast milk without me being there and when I go back to work  we can continue feeding Clara breast milk.  

5// Chicco Bravo Stroller 
My stroller rocks.  I got it extremely on sale at Babies 'R' Us and had no idea what to expect, but in the last month, it's got us through 2 grocery trips, multiple walks, the State Fair, and other trips to the outside world for mommy's sanity.  It's easy to fold up and my car seat pops right onto it.  I am so glad this was the stroller I found on sale.  
6// Aquaphor Baby Diaper Rash Cream
I got this cream as a sample at my pediatricians office.  I noticed baby girls bum was a little red so I put some of this on.  It was gone literally the next day, so of course I bought more.  That sample system works...

7// Rock 'N' Play
The rock and  I love it.  Clara sleeps better in her Rock 'N Play than anywhere else.  We put it in the kitchen while we eat or in the living room when we watch TV.  It has been prefect.  

8// Delta Glider
My glider was a gift from Corey's mom.  Best. Gift. Ever. There is nothing like sitting in my glider and staring down at my beautiful baby girl.  And sometimes daddy gets to use it too.  

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

We Survived a Month of Parenthood

Today Clara has been in our lives for 5 weeks.  I can't believe how fast the time is going.  We are so in love with our baby girl.  

Clara loves to make sleepy smiles at mom and dad. 

She enjoys staying up late and sleeping in late just like daddy and all the other newborns in the world.  
She hardly cries.  In fact, I think that mommy cries more than Clara does.  Being a mom has made me overly emotional.  I'll just look at her a little too long and tears fall.  

She likes to yawn and stretch and curl up on mom's chest to sleep, however I think her favorite pastime is pooping.  She seems to do that the most often. 

I can't wait till she gets bigger and reacts to Corey blowing raspberries on her belly or smiles back at us when we make silly faces, but I also want her to stay this tiny cuddly baby for her entire life. 

So far being a mom is a little rough, but it's also the best thing ever.  I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.  

Thursday, September 15, 2016

What They Don't Tell You: Breast Feeding

**This post contains affiliate links.  If your purchase any products following these links I receive a small amount of commission.  I have linked only products that I currently use and swear by!**
Being a mom is hard. 
I absolutely love it with all my heart.  My baby completely lights up my life.  Every time I see her little face and her little feet and I hear her cry out when she's hungry I feel overwhelmed with emotion and happiness.
Before I was a mom myself, I learned a whole lot about motherhood from other mothers.  From mothers on the internet, from my own mom, from my Facebook group of moms, and from all the other moms in my life.  It was very helpful and when my baby came I felt prepared to be a mom. 

The one thing I was not prepared for at all was breastfeeding.  I knew that I wanted to do it, but I had no idea what kind of dedication it could require.  I think that for some people, it's completely natural.  Their baby latches on and eats like a champion.  In fact, maybe that's the norm.  But for me, breastfeeding has been the biggest challenge of motherhood.  

The Latch
I don't need to go into detail, but my little Clara had an extremely difficult time latching.  In the hospital I wanted to just burst into tears because I was having so much trouble just feeding my baby. I felt like a failure and I'd only just became a mother.  I felt guilty because feeding my baby should be natural, right?  Once we realized she just wasn't going to latch like she was suppose to, I got a Medela Nipple Shield.  That was a complete game changer, but still a challenge. 

The Pain
I swear no one tells you about these things before you have a baby.  They don't tell you that having a baby at your breast sort of feels like fire instead of a baby.  I recommend Palmers Nursing Butter to relieve the pain.  *Edit:  I'm not 2 months into my breast feeding journey and I have virtually no pain with feeding!*

The Leaking 
Have you ever woken up on the couch in a little puddle of milk? I use Lansinoh Disposable Nursing Pads and also LilyPadz Reusable Nursing Pads.  They do a pretty good job of preventing leakage serious embarrassment throughout the day. But sometimes your forget.  I drove all the way to work and realized I din't have any pads in.  I had to go to target first so that I could make it through the day.

The Pumping 
There's a science to pumping.  Which pump to use, ( I use Ameda Purely Yours) when to pump, how to increase supply, when to freeze your milk, how long the milk can stay out, where to store it in the freezer, manual pump or electric.  Waking up in the middle of the night to pump because I can't sleep.  
The Weight Gain
People say that breast feeding helps you lose weight.  Nope.  It does burn a ton of calories and it does help your uterus contract and get smaller, but it doesn't cause weight loss.  I've almost doubled my caloric intake, and I spend a good portion of my day just...sitting.  Nursing.

The Guilt
There are a lot of people out there who want to tell you and me and every momma out there how they should feed their child.  They make you feel like you're wrong if you don't do what's most natural and what's "best" for your baby.  And I feel their pressure every day. I work so hard to do what's best for me and for my child.  But it just feels like...guilt. 

For me, breastfeeding has truly been difficult.  It's still difficult.  I have a lower supply, I don't have a lot of time to pump at work, and Clara still requires a nipple shield for a easy and successful latch.  We supplement.  We cry.  We nurse. And we cry some more. 

What they don't tell you, is that your breastfeeding journey is not the same as your sister's or cousin's or bestfriend's sister's aunt.  Don't compare yourself.  Keep your chin up. Keep on nursing.  


Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Baby Clara's Nursery

Setting up Clara's nursery was probably one of the more difficult tasks we had to accomplish in preparation for her arrival.  I attribute this to my inability to pull the trigger on purchases.  I looked at rugs at Target for probably 2 months before I bought a rug to put in front of our door.  I have to take my mom with me to get me to actually buy the things that I need.  On the bright side, I don't have an impulse buying problem!
Anyway, once I finally made a decision on the crib things started to come together.  I shopped around and ultimately decided that I wanted a gray crib and I wanted Clara's nursery theme to be hot air balloons, as I said in my post about prepping for baby, this theme as really hard to find things for.  
I found a crib on which was honestly really convenient.  On Wayfair, all the big stuff ships free.  I have HGTV to thank for that information.  
The next challenge was the dresser.  I had an extremely hard time with this.  I had something specific in mind, and I just wasn't finding it, or I was and it was at Pottery Barn for $699.98.  No thanks.  I was mostly shopping second hand for these.  Lucky for me, my mom was also shopping second hand for them.  
She found one that someone had locally for $100 so I decided to go for it.  I didn't like the color and I wanted it to match the rest of the nursery, so it ended up my first furniture transformation project as well. 
I used paint designed for furniture re-finishing and contact paper from the one-spot at target.  I also replaced all the drawer knobs and I left off the cupboard door to make life easier.  It was a challenge, but I really enjoyed turning it into something I really liked.  The hardest part was definitely putting that contact paper in the clear plastic windows. It probably took loner than the whole dresser.  

I was also lucky enough to find matching cloth drawers and a laundry basket. The cloth drawers are filled with diapers and there's an unreal wipes supply on those shelves.  I also have diaper genie refills and the first aid kit.  I had the square shelves in my living room, but when Corey moved in, we moved some things around and put the square shelf in the babies room. On the shelf is a lambs and ivy lamp (on sale! It cost me $5 at Babies 'R' Us) and we also used the favors from the shower to decorate.

In the corner there is a cloth shelf filled with blankets, swaddles, burp cloths and other odds and ends that needed a place in the nursery. We were also lucky enough to find the cute hot air balloon crib set at Target along with the mobile. 

The chair was a pipe dream that I put on my registry NEVER expecting someone would actually get it for me.  Well Corey's parents surprised me and got it as our shower gift.  I cried when I found out I was so excited.  The cart is an IKEA purchase.  it has about 100 burp cloths and bibs in it. 

The adorable pictures on the wall were a gift from my friend in my unit.  She has a friend who does water colors, so she had her paint those custom prints.  I'm completely in love with them.  

While I was in the hospital with the baby, my sister and cousin went to my house and made sure that everything was organized as best as possible, cleaned my house and put diapers and wipes in every room but the kitchen. Setting up the nursery was probably one of the hardest parts of preparing for baby, but I'm really happy with how it turned out. 

Friday, August 26, 2016

Call Me Mom

Clara's entrance into the world was a relatively dramatic one.

It all started on Monday after my 39 week doctor's appointment.  The doctor checked my cervix and it hadn't changed much since the visit a week prior.  She stripped my membrane and we started talking about induction.  Apparently that's just standard procedure, but I felt so defeated.  I was getting so tired of being pregnant.  My back was hurting, I wasn't sleeping, and I had heart burn that would not rest. 

A few hours later, I started having painful contractions. Being a first time mom, I was unsure if they were the real thing or if I was just irritated by the membrane stripping, so I mostly ignored them.  

The next day, they were much worse, but I still wasn't really sure what to do.  I spent some time with my mom and had Taco Tuesday with my family, all the while randomly clutching my contracting belly.  We had a really great night, but I was starting to feel extremely miserable.  My mom suggested we go to the hospital to get checked out, and I was definitely on board. 

When we got there, they hooked me up to all the machines and checked my cervix.  No change since my appointment Monday.  An hour or so later, they checked again and, of course, no change.  They sent me home and told me to come back if my contractions got closer together. 

A few hours later, I was in misery.  I was pacing around our living room every time a contraction hit.  I did everything the internet suggested to ease the pain, but nothing as working.  Eventually I couldn't take it anymore.  Around 2:30 am I called the hospital and spoke to the on-call doctor.  She recommended that I get my "cute little uterus to the hospital"  because it sounded like I was in labor.    
 I woke up Corey, made sure we had our bags and our phone chargers, and we headed out the door for the hospital. Sure enough, once we got there, they checked my cervix and I had dilated to a 3+.  They admitted me and the count down to meet Clara had officially begun.  

I got the epidural very shortly after I was admitted.  I had a little bit of anxiety about getting a needle in my spine, but it wasn't a big deal at ALL.  Getting the epidural made my labor experience so much better than if I'd waited.  The whole morning and afternoon I was smiling, welcoming visitors and in a great mood. 

They started me on Pitocin to help move things along.  Epidurals can slow down the process so Pitocin is how they help labor progress.  Luckily with the epidural, I was able to get some sleep.  Giving birth is hard work, so I'm really glad I was able to take advantage of the chance to sleep. 

After a little while, my cervix was checked and it was discovered that the baby was face up.  When babies are face up it makes it difficult for labor to progress. In an attempt to flip her around, they put this little green ball thing between my legs and had me roll over every 30 minutes or so. 
Looking at this picture I am so glad that Corey went to get a haircut instead of coming to Taco Tuesday.  

A few hours later, they opted to put in an internal monitor to see how strong the contractions were.  When they put in this monitor, Clara's heart rate dropped.  I could tell that my doctor and the nurses were worried.  More nurses started coming in the room and they were paging the anesthesiologist.  They put an oxygen mask on me and started getting me ready to move.  I honestly wasn't sure what was going on.  All I knew was that I needed to stay calm.  

I got stabbed in the arm with a shot meant to stop my contractions and I completely lost it.  My doctor as doing her best to calm me down, but I couldn't stop crying.  I wasn't even really sure what I was scared of, I think it was just that all the medical staff was swirling around me and making me panic. 

They ran me to the operating room, walked me through the C-Section risks and I felt Corey grab my hand.  I couldn't see him, but it was nice to know he was there.  My doctor was yelling at all the staff in the operating room letting them know that we weren't ready to deliver my baby.  They waited about 15 minutes and Clara's heart rate came right back up.  It was a terrifying 30 or so minutes in our lives, but luckily we were able to avoid a C-section and our baby was okay. 

Because they had to stop my contractions, it was like starting from square one.  My cervix was dilated to a 4 and we had to wait until I had 2 hours of "adequate" contractions. 

This didn't happen until around 8:30.  The nurse (third one of my labor experience)  checked me and told me "would you believe me if I told you you're at a 10 and ready to push?"

I didn't believe her and I was terrified.  After everything that had happened, I had basically prepared myself to have a C-Section and was NOT ready to push.  Of course, though, I got myself together and was able to push when the time came. 

I pushed for about 30-45 minutes and then my sweet baby was laying on my chest all covered in goo. I could hardly even believe it was happening.  After 9 of the longest months of my life, my baby was finally here. Please excuse my double chin...

Our first Family Photo

Daddy holding Clara for the first time. 

Labor was hard.  Giving birth is the hardest thing I've done in this life so far, but as I type this and look at my little girl sleeping in her bassinet beside me, I know I'd do it all over again to have her in my life. 

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