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Mama: Jill Pokorny
Baby: Hunter and Mason
This story is about a mama that had 2 elective c-sections.
Both of my boys were scheduled to arrive during their 39th week. We chose each of their birth dates because they were both delivered through elective c-sections. I like plans and schedules. I'm not a surprise party kind of girl and I knew myself well enough to know that feeling extended to the very first birthdays of my kids.

While this is an option in today's world, it is not the most popular birth plan in the majority of circles. Many people, including some obstetricians, don't agree with the idea of elective c-sections. We are a military family so my prenatal care and our delivery were all at a military hospital which was great, but I was seen by a different physician every visit, so throughout my first pregnancy I was repeatedly questioned about my desire to have an elective c-section. Some physicians over-emphasized the risks and made a great effort to dissuade me, while others were extremely supportive and even shared that they had opted for the same delivery method. If you are a mom considering this option, listen to both sides and decide what is best for you and baby!

I completed bloodwork the day before my little ones would arrive, made sure I packed everything we would need for the hospital, which means I overpacked the first time, and woke up at 4am to call the Labor & Delivery nurse to see what time we should arrive. With my first son, we arrived to the hospital and were taken straight back to pre-op for vitals and to get IVs. It was here that the surgical team informed me once more that a c-section was not required and I should - in her personal opinion - wait and deliver vaginally. I thanked her for her opinion but said we were there to have my baby delivered by c-section. She signed off, my husband put on scrubs while I was walked to the operating room. With my second child, I was only questioned once the entire pregnancy to make sure I didn't want to have a VBAC, probably because delivering vaginally would've been the potentially more dangerous option since I had a c-section just 13 months before, but we were delayed in pre-op room the morning of his birth because there were two emergency c-sections ahead of us once we arrived. We took the opportunity to enjoy a quiet nap with no kids before the arrival of our second son and it was glorious.

In the OR I hopped onto the table and was connected to many devices. The anesthesiologist came in and with my legs hanging off the table he did a spinal block to numb me. I was then instructed to swing my legs onto the table - a near impossible feat when you are numb from your boobs down! At this point you are completely naked on a table with ten plus people in the room all carrying on conversations - just a little awkward. The surgical team prepped everything and put up a drape so thankfully I could no longer see my reflection in the overhead light. My husband was brought into the OR as surgery began.

I talked about SEC football with the anesthesiologist while the other doctors worked as I attempted to tune out my husband's narration of the procedure. (He is a physician so things like "they are stuffing your organs back in" is a common place discussion - for the record the narration is not so much fun when they are your organs!) Watching my husband tear up as each of our boys were pulled was an amazing experience. The doctors gave our son to my husband and he brought him to me so I could see him and make the final name decision. The physical feeling of delivery was strange since you are knowledgeable about what was happening, but are only able to feel pressure. At times it felt like my belly deflated. The baby was kept in the OR with me the entire time, being weighed and getting his Apgar scores until the doctors were done stitching me up. Then we were wheeled together to recovery where I was immediately able to hold and feed him. My husband helped give our baby a bath and we all shared snuggles until we could be moved to our room.

The only part of delivery that differed with my second son was the anesthesiology resident went a bit excessive with my anesthesia and I threw up a few times while the surgical team prepped things. The attending anesthesiologist fixed everything but when my husband walked in my blood pressure was really low so I wanted to sleep rather than talk football to avoid his surgical narrative. Within a few moments we were back on track and I had number 2 (baby that is!)

Recovery from a c-section was no where what I thought it would be. Within a few hours you are up and walking around. Getting the catheter out was my main goal as it was just annoying to have in while walking. Moving as much as possible really helped things progress well and reduce the swelling in legs and feet. Best advice is to take pain medication as prescribed and stay ahead of pain. It subsided quickly and by the end of the first week (or sooner) I no longer was taking anything other than Tylenol as needed for soreness. With my first son, we were released within 48 hours of his birth and were scheduled for a check-up appointment in the pediatric clinic two days later. With my second son, I was doing so well the doctors were ready to release me within 24 hours of his birth but I bartered to stay an extra day in exchange for not having to do the pediatric clinic check-up for a week unless needed. (When your kids are 13 months apart you try to limit the required outings!) At home I resumed activities as I felt I had energy and rested when I felt I over did it. Laughing, sneezing and coughing does hurt when you've had your abdomen stitched up, so a small pillow for pressure was beneficial for the first week. With my second child I needed more help during that first month because I could not carry my older son who was 13 months old. My husband or mother were with me daily during that time.

I didn't go a traditional route to have my babies, and if I were to ever have another that baby would be delivered through an elective c-section as well - not that I am planning on that as my hands with two under two are more than full! I am so thankful that I had babies at a time where this option was possible.

Hunter - 7lbs, 8oz. 20 inches long. Delivered at 39 weeks, 1 day.
Mason - 7lbs, 11oz. 21 inches long. Delivered at 39 weeks, 3 days.

*** Trigger Warning: This post contains a story on infant loss***

Mama: Brynn Dillon
Babies: Angel Twins & Rainbow Twins (Aislyn and Grayson)
This is a story of angel twins and rainbow twins. Beauty for Ashes as Mama puts it. Enjoy the beautiful slideshow that was put together below.

Nothing about our journey to parenthood has been easy. After years of fertility treatments and losing our angel twins, getting to 37 weeks with our rainbow twins felt like such a blessing. Little did we know we were in for another roller coaster ride.

As we neared the birth of our twins, it began to come up that I had hired a birth photographer.  I got a lot of weird looks and awkward questions. To ensure a safe pregnancy, I had surgery to place magic bands around my cervix, necessitating a C-section. I know people were thinking, “Who wants pictures of a C-section?!” I am very thankful that Neely was able to participate in our journey.  I trusted her to take pictures of everything and the pictures are tasteful and beautiful.

Our birth experience did not go as planned, but that makes me even more grateful for these amazing pictures. (PSA to other mamas-if you go into labor hours before your scheduled c-section and go to the hospital early hoping they will give you drugs, they won’t. No matter how many times you ask!)

For any parent the words “We have to take your baby to the NICU” is devastating. For us, those words created a nauseating sense of deja vu. Less than two years before, we lost twins at 23 weeks and the NICU was the scariest place on Earth. My whole pregnancy, I told people my goal was healthy babies and to never set foot in the NICU again.

Our NICU journey was cathartic in so many ways. We had amazing doctors and nurses who have such a heart for the tiniest babies. They kept us sane, answered a million questions, didn’t laugh at our attempts to dress the munchkins and were just as excited as we were at each milestone towards getting released.

Because a c-section is major surgery, I had to remain in the OR while the babies were whisked away to the NICU.  Seeing the slideshow Neely compiled, showed me so many beautiful moments that I missed due to the c-section.  Words cannot express how grateful I am to have these moments captured.

Our journey to have a family has been a walk of faith. Aislyn and Grayson are an answer to many prayers.  We are so blessed to have these rainbow babies; Isaiah 61:3, they are truly beauty for ashes.

Birth Photography | Columbus, GA | Ker-Fox Photography | Aislyn & Grayson from KerFoxBirth on Vimeo.

Mama: Christine Keys
Baby: Jack
This story is a mama that used a midwife and faced birthing with no pain medication.

It was a mere 4 months into my marriage that I found out I was expecting our first child. I was so excited and overwhelmed at the same time. I spent hours and hours researching everything I could find about motherhood and all that it would entail. I didn't feel any fear about childbirth until I hit the final few weeks leading up to delivery. I was exhausted and SO ready to give birth, but at my 39 week appointment, my midwife informed me that my baby was lying back to back. I was devastated, as he had previously been in the perfect position for delivery. My midwife didn't offer epidurals, and I had read so many horror stories about posterior births. Skip to 40+2 weeks, and had had very mild, irregular contractions overnight. They had completely stopped by morning though. That afternoon, I had another midwife appointment booked, and she carried out a membrane sweep. My contractions started up again, although they continued to be very irregular. I kept moving as much as I could, and the contractions continued overnight. I spent all night draped over an exercise ball, or lying on the lounge floor. At about 3am, I got into the 'child's pose' position for 45 minutes. That was enough to flip baby around the right way. Once he started turning, my contractions became far more regular and easier to handle. My husband called the midwife, who made her way to our home to check my progress. The previous afternoon I had been dilated to 1cm, and after having contractions all night I was at a 3. My midwife was there for about an hour or so, and during that time my contractions intensified, and my waters broke. I remember feeling like a water balloon had popped!

She left me to continue labouring at home, and said she'd give me a call around 8:30am to see how I was going. She warned me to expect labour to continue for quite some time. She also left me with a TENS machine to help with the pain.

I had planned for it to only be my husband and I in the delivery room, but he had had no sleep all night, so I got him to call my Mum. She lived about 1.5 hours away, but was more than happy to make the drive. I knew I would need support if I was to labour for 20 odd more hours!

After about an hour, I wasn't able to cope with the contractions well anymore. I called the midwife and asked if I could go to the hospital to use the birthing pool for pain relief (I had planned for a water birth). She said that was totally fine, and that she'd meet us there. Somewhere during this time, I started feeling nauseous, and the contractions were coming thick and fast. We lived only 2 minutes away from the hospital, so thankfully the drive was a quick one. Another woman was using the birthing pool, but I was told that she was pushing, so I should be able to use it before too long. The nurse who met us in the foyer asked me to wait there while she got my room ready. I didn't mind, and just focused on getting through the contractions as they came. I remember thinking that it was like someone had my hips in a vice grip every time I had a contraction.

I then threw up all over their foyer! Ha! They were so apologetic for leaving me there.

Once I got to my room I was given gas & air. That stuff is BLISS! It didn't take away the pain, but it relaxed me between contractions. Somewhere during that time, my contractions eased off. I got a break, and it was glorious! My mother arrived, and then my midwife checked me. I had told her that I was beginning to feel pressure. I was at a 9.5!!! I started pushing, and 20 minutes later, my son was born. He was 6lbs 7oz, born at 7:40am, and 3 days overdue.

My midwife considered me to be in active labour from the time my waters broke, making it 3 hours total! I was very shaky for a while afterwards, and was totally in shock. The whole thing happened so much faster than I expected. I remember thinking that the birth was horrific, but time really does work magic. My son, Jack Anderson Keys, is 5 months now, and although I'm happy to wait a while, I'm so looking forward to him having a sibling.

As for using the birthing pool...well, my son was born before the other lady had her baby! Once he decided he was coming, he came fast!

The advice I would give to other mamas, is to trust your body. It is a constructive pain, so try to relax and let your body do what it was built to do. Also, just face one contraction at a time, don't try and think about how many more there are to come. Lastly, count how many slow breaths it takes to get through a contraction. That way, once you're taking breath number 3, you know it is almost over. This helped me tremendously (until I hit transition, then it was just pure survival!).

Mama: Jodi Roberts
Baby: Titus
This story is about a planned induction, with an unplanned c-section.


Every first time pregnant woman probably wonders what contractions will feel like. Is child birth as painful as it sounds? How many hours will it take? Can I handle the pain?

I felt like a ticking time bomb. Yes, we had a due date and knew our precious boy would make his appearance somewhere around that time. However, I was so nervous. I had no idea what a contraction felt like and the element of surprise made me anxious.

My due date came and went. Still no baby... My doctor decided that if I didn't go into labor by Thursday, April 30th, I would need to be induced. I trust my doctor and continued to trust that I could go into labor naturally before then.

April 30th arrived and I still had zero signs of going into labor. So, my husband and I drove to the hospital at 7 a.m. to check in. By 8 a.m., my doctor came in and told me he was going to burst my water bag and make me go into labor. Upon bursting the water, he saw that my son had passed the meconium. In simpler terms, my son pooped inside me. To have him naturally would have been quite dangerous for him. If he would breathe in any of his poop, he could get quite ill. Therefore, my doctor informed me that I would need an emergency c-section.

So there I was...laying in the hospital bed. I had been all geared up for quite a long day of labor and contractions. However, I was 1 cm dilated when being induced. The little boy wanted to stay in there as long as he could. :)

Between 8 and 8:30 a.m. was quite eventful. I had nurses coming and going, asking me a LOT of questions. I was taken to the operating room and was given an epidural to numb the lower half of my body.

I was in the c-section from 8:30-9:30. With this being my first child, I was excited to see the look on my husband's face when our son was born. But the hospital would not allow dad's to be in the operating room. With no glasses on to see, things were a blur all around me. I had to remain calm, as I was flooded with emotions.

Being numb from the chest down is quite an interesting experience. I barely felt vibrations. It didn't hurt and I didn't feel any pressure. Thankfully, I couldn't see what they were doing. :) The nurses and doctors kept me calm by talking to me and patting my arm.

At 9:01, I heard a really odd cry. I had never heard a baby cry quite like that before. It almost sounded like an animal noise. Ha! The very first thing the paediatrician said when she took him from my doctor was, "Wow, big head!" -- I should note he was born in Malaysia. Asian babies tend to be quite a bit smaller. My son weight 9.6 lbs at birth! :) --

The paediatrician held my son up to my face and took a few pictures of me with my son. Then, they took him away to clean him and show him to my husband. I was left in the operating room, without my son and without my husband. I was then in recovery for quite a while. It was at least 11 a.m. or after before I got to go back to my hospital room and see my family.

We then had a wonderful day spending time with our new boy, and celebrating with family and many friends who came to visit.

So there are still questions I cannot answer... I have no idea what a contraction feels like. I do not know what a natural birth looks or feels like.  Many people make plans of how the day should go... I decided not to and it was a good thing I didn't! I am very thankful for how everything turned out. My son was born happy, healthy, and a great sleeper. :)

Mama: Lauren Blazek
Babies: Baby A and Baby B
Lauren wanted to share her story to raise awareness towards a scary condition called HELLP Syndrome. This is a hard read, but it ends well!


 On an uncharacteristically dreary Thursday in late May of last year, I woke up much earlier than I wanted to. People who know me well know that I am not in the least bit a morning person. But being pregnant with twins means you always get the early morning appointments. So I hauled my big ole pregnant self into the bathroom to get ready. Once on my feet I knew something was off. My back and head were KILLING me. I figured it probably had something to do with being 5'2" and measuring 45 weeks pregnant already at just 33 weeks and 3 days. Or maybe it was because I scrubbed the showers yesterday (nesting makes you do really strange things). I didn't know for sure why I was in pain but I knew I had to do something about it. So I took a bath (which I never do in the morning) and the pain melted away.

Eventually I drove myself to the hospital, checked in at 8 am, and waited a bit. As I waddled to the maternity ward, following one of the hospital registrars, I wondered why the heck she had to walk so fast. Nothing makes you more self-conscious than a much older lady pausing to wait for you to catch up. When we finally we made it to my room, I got hooked up to all the monitors. One for me, one for Baby A, and one for Baby B. And then began the nearly impossible task of monitoring both boys for 30 minutes straight. This was my 3rd time being monitored, so I knew that it could take up to 5 hours to get clear readings. I watched helplessly as each boy kicked his monitor out of place and a nurse rushed in to reposition things. Finally 2 hours later we got a clear reading. The nurse looked at me funny and asked if I was feeling any pain. I told her that I was uncomfortable from laying on my back. To my surprise, she told me I was having contractions and said she'd be right back. She came back with a pill (Procardia) that would stop my contractions. After taking it, we waited 30 minutes and I was rechecked. They were waning, but still concerning, so they gave me another dose. Thirty more minutes passed and she checked again. Almost gone, but I got another precautionary dose (the max daily dose, I was told). Thirty more minutes passed and they were all but gone. I was being discharged.

As I got up out of the bed I got very lightheaded and realized just how much my back hurt. Clearly I didn't look well, because the nurse asked me if I was ok. I said I just needed to eat and that my back hurt from laying down for nearly 4 hours. She got me a snack and water and asked if I wanted to stay a bit longer. Definitely not, I wanted lunch and a nap in my own nice comfy bed. So I told her I'd be fine, and waddled my way back to the car.

By the time I got to the car I was spent. And by the time I was half way home (a mere 7 minutes later), I knew I should've stayed at the hospital. The pain was mounting quickly, I could hardly take it. I was dizzy and oh so very, very nauseous. I could hardly see straight, but I knew I had to get myself home. And when I did, I projectile vomited. Twice. I grabbed my phone and called my husband, Ben. He told me he was on the way and to call my doctor. The nurse said to come in to the clinic and get checked. Two minutes later she called to say go straight to the maternity ward. Ben got home in record time. He rushed me to the hospital. I felt like my back was ripping apart, every little bump was like a knife to my spine.

We made it back to the hospital just 30 minutes after I had left. I could barely speak or stand. I was huffing and puffing. The registrar from earlier saw me and came out of her office. Concerned she decided to find me a wheelchair. It felt like it took her 10 years. And it felt like an eternity while she pushed me to maternity. How could this be the same lady I struggled to keep pace with?

We finally made it and the nurse from earlier in the day got me setup in my room. My doctor, came in to tell me she had been monitoring me all morning. She was concerned. Especially when she found I was dilated to a 2 and 50% effaced. And there was blood. They immediately started me on a magnesium sulfate drip. It was like fire through my veins. I remember everyone being a bit frantic, but I was strangely calm. I still couldn't feel the contractions and my back pain was subsiding. The magnesium was making me more nauseated. After an hour on the magnesium with little change, my doctor decided I needed to be airlifted from our small hospital to a better equipped hospital. Unfortunately the weather was bad that day. It took her 4 hours to find a way for me to get out of our hospital. No one would airlift me unless I went to a hospital a 6+ hour drive north instead of just 2 hours south (where I had been seeing a specialist). Ben and I had to choose between the short flight north (with him having to drive 6 hours alone) or the 2 hour long drive in the ambulance (with the risk I'd deliver on the way).

I remember feeling so sure that everyone was making a bigger deal of the situation than was really needed. I wasn't at all concerned that I'd deliver in the ambulance, honestly I thought they were all nuts. I didn't even fell like I was in labor, I had no idea until later that my contractions were less than a minute apart at this point! Ben and I decided on the ambulance ride. Once we made the decision everyone started rushing. They prepped me to leave-- I had more blood tests, new IV ports placed, switched gurneys, met hospital administrators, was told that it was unprecedented that a doctor and nurse would volunteer to ride with me, met the transport team, and was rolled to the ambulance.

Somewhere in the jumble Ben asked what I need from home. I told him some clothes and my glasses, and added "you should maybe grab the car seats and diaper bag just in case". I was convinced that bigger hospital would be able to stop my labor and we'd be back home the next day. It was the weirdest thing, everyone clearly thought this was an emergency. Everyone but me. I remember time passing so slowly, it felt like I was in a dream.

In the ambulance they asked my doctor if she agreed we should run a "code 3," puzzled she asked what he meant. He explained that a “code 3” was the highest level of emergency transport with lights and sirens the whole way. She agreed it was necessary. Again I felt like they were making a big deal out of nothing. I felt fine, my pain was completely tolerable at this point. My doctor prayed for me and off we went.

We finally arrived at the hospital at 7 pm, 11 hours after my day began. As I was wheeled in I saw my sister in the waiting room. My parents were on their way from 6 hours away. And I still had no inkling of how serious things actually were.

I was hooked up to monitors, had my IVs replaced yet again, and was checked. Still 2 cm, still contracting. They switched my meds, because the mag sulfate could cause damage if taken too long. More tests. No answers. The babies were beginning to showing signs of distress. This was when doubt began to trickle into my mind. Maybe the babies were trying to tell us something. I decided all I could do was breathe deeply and pray.

At this point I started singing to myself (in my head...lest people think I'd lost it completely). One song replayed over and over in my head, "You call me out upon the waters, the great unknown where feet may fail, and there I find you in the mystery in oceans deep... When oceans rise my soul will rest in your embrace, for I am Yours and You are mine..." (Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) by Hillsong UNITED, listen below). It was God speaking softly to me, telling me everything was in His hands. I prayed fervently.

Finally at 2 am we got answers. I had HELLP Syndrome-

H: Hemolysis (my red blood cells were being destroyed)
EL: Elevated liver proteins (my liver was shutting down)
LP: Low platelets (I was losing the ability to form blood clots)

The resident who’d been overseeing my care apologized over and over for not catching it sooner. She said none of my symptoms indicated preeclampsia, which is typically (but not always) a precursor of HELLP. My blood pressure was perfectly normal, and there wasn't any protein in my urine. Nothing indicated the underlying issue until one of the blood tests finally revealed the symptoms of HELLP. Later I found out I had the most severe form of HELLP, and that I had been well on my way to liver and kidney failure. After her apologies, the resident said the only cure for HELLP is immediate delivery. This is the moment I finally got scared. Not for me, but for Ben and my boys. I remember looking at Ben and seeing him register that he was very close to losing me. That's when I started to pray that God would give Ben the courage to get through this, even if I didn't. I prayed that God would take care of Ben and my boys no matter what was about to happen. I prayed that their little lungs would grow quickly. I thanked God that we had made it to one of the best NICUs (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) in the area. I honestly never felt the urge to pray for myself, I was completely at peace with whatever God had in store for me. I just wanted Ben and my boys taken care of.

My platelets were so low that it was too dangerous to do the surgery right away, I’d likely bleed out on the operating table. But it was also too late to get my natural labor restarted... (This is where things get a bit fuzzy for me, these are details I've pieced together from my broken memories and from others who were there...)

Before my surgery I was given two platelet transfusions to bring my counts up (it may have been more than 2... normal platelet count is 150-400 bil/L, mine was 35). Once I reached the minimum for surgery, I was prepped. I remember my mom and Ben being with me. Ben said we needed to pick Baby B's name before I went in (Baby A's name had been chosen weeks ago). We settled on one of our choices, which meant laughter. And boy did we need some laughter just then. I was put under general anesthesia and the boys were delivered at 9:05 and 9:06 am Friday morning. Just 25 hours after I had arrived for a routine appointment.

I remember waking in recovery. I felt as though I'd been hit by a truck. I was in and out of consciousness, never fully aware of what was happening. I was vomiting and crying out for pain medication. My mom was frantically pushing the pain pump button for me. Nurses were scrambling around me. My husband was splitting his time between me and the twins. The pain was UNREAL.

I didn't know it but I was hemorrhaging BADLY. I've been told I lost at least 3 liters of blood. To put that in perspective, women on average have a total blood volume of a bit less than 5 liters. I received at least 6 units of blood. I remember the team of doctors joking about my "six pack" as I was being prepped for surgery- my "six pack" being a cooler with 6 units of blood matching my blood type just in case I needed it. More than enough, they thought (boy were they wrong). Apparently at some point while I was hemorrhaging, some of my "six pack" even went missing and they had to scramble to get me more blood.

When I next remember waking, I was in my own room. The awful magnesium sulfate was burning through my veins again. I was so very thirsty, begging for water and ice (you're not allowed fluids while on mag sulfate). My family was there. I remember being surprised to see my aunt had come all the way from Texas. I was still struggling to stay awake. Honestly I don't remember most of that day. I got to see pictures of my boys- pictures that broke my heart. They were in the NICU-- so tiny and covered in wires. My body had failed them, they weren't ready for this. I remember feeling extremely disappointed that I wasn't the first person to meet them. I don't even quite know how to put into words what it feels like to be a mother unable to hold or even visit her own babies. I felt utterly disconnected.

I remember waking the next day, feeling more coherent. I had a really "busy" nurse that day who I hardly understood due to her broken English. She was appalled that I hadn't been taken to the babies. I told her they didn't want me moving while on the magnesium. She requested that the doctor stop the mag drip. Once I was off it she wheeled me to the NICU. Ben was confused because he knew there were specific protocols, and he wasn't sure they were being followed. But he assumed she knew what she was doing and went along with it. As we scrubbed in and rounded the corner, I remember hearing the alarms and thinking that the NICU was much louder than I expected. Little did I know that I was hearing the alarms for my own sweet little ones. We got to the room they shared with 6 other babies. It was frantic. I was confused. A nurse recognized Ben and told us we needed to leave. It hit me...Our babies were the ones crashing. Their doctor explained something to us, but her words fell on deaf ears. I was completely numb.

I felt apart when we returned to my room. This was so not the plan. I had had a great pregnancy. Both boys were in prime position for a natural delivery. I was planning to try to avoid pain medications. I was just 3 weeks away from my induction date. But somehow it all went wrong. I FAILED. I prayed so hard for those little boys. I asked God to spare them and to prepare us for what lay ahead.

Later (that night, I think) I was finally able to meet my boys. They had recovered from their unexplained heart issues. But they were on breathing tubes and in isolettes when I met them. So fragile, so helpless. It was too much to take in. I was overwhelmed and heart broken. All I could do was apologize to them. I was so afraid to touch them for fear that I would make things even worse

Sunday was a blur of visiting with family, pumping milk for my boys, and visiting the NICU. I was starting to feel myself again, and was recovering fairly well. Monday morning I got a treat, the AWESOME nurses arranged for me to hold both boys at the same time. They got the miles of cords and piles of monitors situated so that my boys could meet each other again. It was such a precious moment. And it finally sunk in... they were ours, our sweet boys --and by God's grace we were all going to get through this.

That day all the family left to return to their homes and it was just Ben and I. Reality was slowly sinking in... I had been so, so close to death. But quite miraculously I recovered very quickly. The doctors couldn't explain why I was doing so well despite still having very low iron and platelets. When I was released both were still quite low, but I was showing no signs of lingering complications. And I was discharged on Tuesday afternoon. Nothing stings more than seeing the empty car seats in the back seat as you leave the hospital. I wept for hours.

My boys were just 33 weeks and 4 days when they were born. They were so small and having a really hard time keeping their heart rates up. They also had some breathing issues, but thankfully that all passed within a few days. The graduated to being "growers and feeders," once they could eat on their own and showed steady growth they'd be released. After 19 days Baby A was released, and two days later so was Baby B. We were finally headed home.

And now with just days to go before their 1st birthday, you would never know my boys had such a dramatic entry into the world. They are happy little bundles of energy. We've definitely had bumps along the way, but we are so very thankful to God that we all made it through. He has been faithful and has healed my guilt and feelings of failure. I may never understand exactly why this happened to us, but I know that God was there with me, and I am thankful for the perspective it's given me. Things like nap troubles pale in comparison to wondering if your babies will survive the night…

Mama: Alicia Judernatz
Baby: Piper 
This is the story of her 3rd babywise baby, Piper.

I was due July 1, 2015 with our third baby. My husband and I had decided not to find our the gender of our third baby, as we already had a boy and a girl, so we wanted a surprise. My first two pregnancies ended up with me being induced. So I figured my third would be too. Our due date came and went. I had a check up on the 2nd of July and was all set to be induced on the 4th of July in honor of my late uncle, whose birthday was the 4th. The check up went as normal, I was dilated 2 cm and was 50% thinned out. I had no regular contractions thus far and so my husband and I left thinking that we would deliver in two days. So, we went home and I continued to nest, ie cleaning and baking like a mad woman! I ended up making 6 dozen chocolate chip cookies that day when contractions started coming irregularly. I thought I was just dehydrated so I drank a lot of water and continued on my day, playing with our six and two year olds. Made dinner, gave the two kiddos and bath all the while my contractions were more regular and getting stronger. I had never gone into labor on my own so I honestly wasn't sure it was labor, but around 8:00 once our six year old had gone to bed for the night contractions were about 7 minutes apart and getting strong enough to catch my breath and make me freeze. So I called my mom to come over and watch the kids so my husband and I could go to the hospital. On the way I remember saying to my husband, "I am going to be so embarrassed if this isn't real labor, I have two kids I should know the difference!"

We arrived at the hospital and was hooked up to the monitors and was indeed in labor, it was about 9:00pm. I was still only 2cm but contractions were about 4-5 minutes apart and getting much stronger. After being there for about 2 1/2 hours I was only at 3cm and was in pain so I asked for an epidural. The anesthesiologist came and scrubbed my back down. He stuck the needle in but ended up hitting my spine, and again, and again, and again. He ended up hitting bone 8 times before getting the needle between my vertebrae. It took almost an hour of sitting hunched over on the edge of the bed all the while having contractions. In that hours time I went from 3cm to 8cm and 45 minutes later I was at 10 cm and was ready to push. They called the doc in but baby's heart rate was dropping with each contraction. So the nurses gave me shot to stop the contractions. She checked me to see how I was progressing and I went backwards from 10cm to 8cm! We were all shocked! The nurses said they have never seen anyone go backwards!

Then I labored through the night with little to no sleep. Around 6:00 am, July 3rd, they checked me again and was still at 8cm. So we had a choice to make, wait it out and see how far I go on my own or do pitocin and push it along with medication. After being in labor all night I was tired and ready to meet our little one! So half an hour later I pushed three times and we welcomed, Piper Bea Judernatz into our family! She was beautiful! A healthy 7 lbs 1 oz 20 in long baby girl to join her big brother, Carter, and her big sister, Lilly!

Piper Bea Judernatz
7lbs 1oz
20 in
6:40am July 3, 2015

She is now almost two months old and I am going back to work in a few days, so I am cherishing every moment with her!


These pancakes are a favorite for breakfast in our house. I make extra and freeze them in little baggies. They are healthy and make breakfast easy for that sleepy mama!

- 1 banana
- 2 eggs
- Cinnamon (to taste)
- Vanilla (1/2 tsp)
- Baby oatmeal (to desired thickness)

I double this recipe when I make it and use my magic bullet to blend it all up. Place the bananas, eggs, cinnamon and vanilla into the blender. Slowly add the baby oatmeal until you get your desired texture. You are looking for the mixture to no longer be runny, but to be pourable (so not too thick).

Cook these on LOW to make sure you cook the eggs through. I also squish them down with my spatula to make sure I achieve a cooked center. They will still feel slightly squishy, but you should be able to flip them if you've made the mixture the correct thickness. It takes some getting used to and varies based on the size of the bananas. Freezes well!

One of my biggest concerns as a stay at home mom is that Caroline wouldn't get exposure to other children and learn to have experiences without Mama. I wanted her to start learning socialization skills early. I didn't know exactly how I was going to achieve these things, but I knew I was going to do my best to find a way.

One of the first things I did right after having Caroline was make an effort to meet other mamas with babies that were Caroline's age. I set up playdates and talked with other moms in the area on a variety of Facebook groups. Eventually, I found two other moms that I enjoy spending time with who have children around the same age range. We set up playdates fairly frequently. This is going to be a great way for Caroline to learn how to act around other babies. She'll learn how to share, how to say no thank you, how to play with other children, how to not bite or pull hair, etc. I'm sure they will make each other laugh and at times make each other cry- but they are all learning together.

Another thing we do is go out all the time. There is rarely a day that we stay home. We go to the library, Target, the grocery store, for walks, and more. We interact with other adults and children. She learns a great deal from these experiences as well.

Today Caroline started "school". Once a week, she is attending a Mother's Day Out program at a local church. It follows the school year, so my options were to start now (at 9.5 months), or wait until next Fall when she will be almost 2 years old. Since we don't have family in the area, Caroline is not accustomed to being away from me. I felt that it would go much more smoothly, if we started now instead of waiting. This class will give her an opportunity to experience the world without me by her side.

She did so well! I will admit that I teared up a bit on the drive to drop her off. I was telling her all about her class and how much she was going to learn. I was explaining that she was already such a big girl and that she was going to sail through this. At home, she gets a decent amount of independent play. I make sure to have moments when, while still listening in and checking on her, I am not always in the room, or am silently watching in the corner and letting her play without me. She has learned to entertain herself at times, and to be without me (even though I'm really there)- so I knew she'd do great.

I dropped her off with her cute new backpack and talked with the teachers. She was already playing on the mat without a care in the world. I grabbed her attention and gave her a kiss. I told her I'd be back soon and told her to have fun. I gave her another kiss and told her "bye-bye". I heard no tears as I walked out. I smiled. She is such a strong girl.

When I came to pick her up, the teacher said she did just fine. She didn't take a nap like she normally does at that time, but she was in good spirits and enjoying herself. I called her name a few times (over the noise of other parents talking to their little ones). She turned around and was so excited she started to crawl before she even had a chance to pull her feet out from under her butt. I went to her instead and gave her the biggest hug in the world.  We both did it! We managed 2 hours apart from one another!

I missed my daughter so much, but I am very glad that I am doing this program with her. She is going to learn so much from this experience and will be much better prepared for the world of preschool, when that eventually comes. And I will know, too, that Mama has already survived "the first day of school"!

When I was pregnant, I did a lot of research on 2 main things:
1. How often/how much babies eat
2. How many diapers they'd need per day

As a first time mom, I wanted to be prepared and know what to expect. I wanted to have enough supplies on hand and be mentally "ready" (if you can be) for at least these 2 major parts of baby's daily routine. I also knew that I was not going to immediately know what her different cries meant, meaning that I needed to be able to anticipate what the cries meant simply based on timing.

As I did my research, I ran into a couple of main ideas regarding feeding:
1. Feeding on demand
2. Feeding on schedule

Initially, I was leaning towards feeding on demand for the first few weeks. I felt that, since I was breastfeeding, I would need to give food on demand in order to keep my supply up, and to make sure she was getting enough food (since I wasn't going to be able to measure the ounces she was eating). I also saved a few schedules, however, because I loved the idea and predictability of keeping her on a schedule throughout the day.

When it came down to it, we never ended up feeding on demand. Because she was born early (at 37 weeks), our doctor recommended feeding every 2 hours around the clock until her weight was up. I am so glad we got this advice in the hospital, because we naturally fell into a schedule and a great rhythm. I am now a HUGE advocate of keeping babies on schedules.

Here are the main benefits that I have seen to keeping your little one on a schedule (even if breastfeeding):

1. It lessens the detective work when baby is crying

When Caroline cries, I know it is not because she is hungry (unless she is going through a growth spurt). And, because we also keep her naps on schedule, it is very obvious when she hasn't had enough sleep. When she is crying, I can generally rule out hunger and I already know, before she does, if she's going to be overtired. I can anticipate any issues that arise with hunger and tiredness in advance, and address them before they are even bothering her.

2. Baby will be well fed

There are easy guidelines to follow with different age ranges and lots of resources out there. I knew that as a newborn she was going to need to be fed a minimum of 8 times throughout the day. When you schedule those 8 feedings and keep track of them (instead of waiting on your baby to tell you when she's hungry), you can be sure to get all of the feedings in. Your baby will also get used to the schedule and get full feedings in, as opposed to snacking all day long.

3. It helps to keep up your supply (for breastfeeding mamas)

If you are nursing (or pumping) at scheduled intervals, it actually helps to regulate your supply. If you wait until baby asks for it, two things could happen:

- If baby goes long intervals without asking for food, you could get engorged throughout the day, which could then cause a fast letdown. This, in turn, could make nursing difficult for baby- especially in the early months when you are first establishing good nursing habits.

- If baby goes short intervals, however, and is nursing all day, you could overstimulate your supply, and your nipples might not be able to handle it. This could also cause your baby to not get full feeds and to only be consuming foremilk instead of taking nice, long feedings and getting the good fuller fat hindmilk that comes towards the end of a feeding.

4. You (or the bottle) will not be used as a pacifier

Babies cry. Often when they cry, parents assume that they are crying out of hunger. With a schedule, it takes the guess work out, and you won't end up feeding them at every cry. You won't end up feeling like a pacifier (if nursing), and your baby won't get used to just eating for comfort. She will eat when she is hungry.

5. Babies love routine

Babies actually thrive on routine. They learn routines very well and know what to expect. Isn't your day so much easier to tackle when you know what to expect? Babies feel the same way! It is human nature to like the comfort of predictability. If you find the schedule that is right for your baby, your baby will be well fed, well rested, and happy during their wake time.

6. Mamas love routine

I was dreading getting caught out in public breastfeeding. It's fine for those that don't mind it, but I wanted privacy when I was breastfeeding. I have literally only had to breastfeed in public 3 times. (We go out every day by the way, and have since Caroline was about 4 weeks old. Caroline is now 9 months old.) I know when I can leave the house, and I know that my baby will not be asking for food while we are out. It has made for a lot less stress for me, knowing what to expect.

7. Babies sleep through the night sooner

Babies that get enough food and enough sleep throughout the day sleep better at night. If your baby is overtired, nighttime sleep is going to be a challenge. If your baby is hungry, she is going to wake in the middle of the night for food. It is that simple. If you can create a schedule that allows her to get enough food and sleep during the day, nighttime will fall into place sooner and more easily. Caroline was sleeping through the night when she was 4 months old, and she was only waking out of habit during the 3rd month (not out of hunger).

8. You are creating an environment in which baby can learn

If your baby is well fed and well rested, and she will be if she is on a schedule that is right for her, she will be awake and happy during playtime. This allows her to be in a state in which she will be ready to learn. We know it is much easier to absorb information when we are not tired and hungry. The same applies to your baby.

You'll notice that I keep mentioning "a schedule that is right for your baby". There are a lot of rumors out there about how schedules are bad for babies- especially if you mention the term Babywise. I've even heard rumors so drastic that they imply you are starving your baby if you put her on a schedule. Those rumors stem from schedules being misunderstood. It is not a good idea to simply impose a schedule on your baby and not listen to their cues. Babies go through growth spurts, and they are simply all different in what they need.

I always tell people that Caroline builds her own schedules. I provide a starting point. I literally started by making a schedule (based on research) and trying it. But I then watched Caroline and all of her cues. Was she telling me she was hungry before her next scheduled feeding time? Was she tired before her nap time? Or was she not tired enough when it came to nap time? It is very important to watch your baby and adjust the schedule to fit her needs.

Printable schedules months 1-6

Babies will always tell you what they need. I observed her over the course of a few days, adjusted and tweaked her schedules until I felt they were a good fit for her. Once we found the right fit, we kept the schedule until I noticed it wasn't working any longer. We then took the time to reevaluate and adjust the schedule again. Sometimes that meant dropping a feeding, dropping a nap, extending a wake time, extending a nap time, etc. A schedule usually lasts us about a month before it needs a small tweak here and there.

To find a starting point for your baby, check out the baby schedules page on this blog. This page shows the schedules that we used at each age by month, and gives a detailed description of how they were working, along with information on night wakings, naps, food and wake time activities. They are great starting points, but remember, you may need to tweak the times a bit to make it a perfect fit for your little one!

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Search Pinterest for "baby activities" and a whole slew of things will pop up. Specifically, you'll see sensory activities show up. Click on the ones that are edible ideas, since your baby will most likely end up with it in her mouth! Consider these things to be your life support for when baby is bored! There are tons of great ideas out there, and your baby really will learn a lot from playing with different textures, temperatures and materials.
Really, we do "sensory" activities with our babies all of the time without specifically planning it, but having a few special ones to break out from time to time is a must have. Our first "official" sensory activity came one day when I was trying to cook dinner. My husband was not going to be home in time to help cook, and I had been unable to get everything cooked during Caroline's nap (a super short one that afternoon). Since I was going to be busy cooking, I needed to occupy Caroline with an activity that I could simply monitor, instead of needing to participate. I had a few ideas pinned and knew I had the supplies in the kitchen for one of them in particular. 

So, up first in our sensory adventure were the dry instant mashed potatoes. I literally took a box of instant mashed potatoes and dumped them into a bin. I gave her a few kitchen "toys" and let her play in it like a sand box. She dove right in and grabbed a handful! She put the potatoes in her mouth and tasted them, felt the silky soft texture, and looked amazed. She fed some to the dogs and dropped some on her toes. She played with her measuring cups, and attempted to tip the entire bin over a few times. She made an absolute mess! I was expecting that and had her on the kitchen floor for that reason. It was going to be extremely easy to just vacuum right up. 

She had a blast, and I was thrilled watching her! She was content for about 45 minutes and would have been happy to play longer, but dinner was ready. The best part is that I can save them and use them again. I poured them into a gallon sized Ziploc bag and put them on the shelf for future use. I brought them out the next day, but she was over the excitement. So...they'll stay hidden for awhile, but I know the next time she sees them, she will have fun again! Next time, we plan to add some water into the mix and perhaps some food coloring!

For a few weeks now, Caroline has been wanting desperately to be on the move. She's figured out how to pull herself up, how to get into a seated position, how to pivot her body in the direction she wants to go, and how to walk with assistance... but none of these things were achieving forward motion. Her goal is to stand and walk. She gets up on her hands and feet, and it's very obvious that she is trying to figure out how to stand up so she can walk. If she was successful at standing (while in the middle of the floor), she would simply topple over at this point, however- as she is far too wobbly to walk without holding our hands. She has been frustrated through her process of trying to work this out.

Finally, she got her knees moving. I knew it would happen- I would blink, and she'd be on the move. It happened! I had been watching her closely and giving her lots of time alone to practice. She always practices more when Mama is not in the room. As soon as I enter, she whines and wants me to help her. So, I hide in the kitchen and watch her from a distance. Well, a couple of days ago, she crawled. Just like that, she went from one side of the living room to the other.

We were all surprised- even the dog who gave a bit of a growl to the baby that was coming straight at her! I literally walk around the house now telling the dogs to "watch out", and asking them "Where's Caroline?", so they can get used to this new phase. I want to make sure they don't get too surprised and have Caroline sneak up on them!

I am in love with this stage! Everyone told me to "count my blessings" that she wasn't crawling yet, because my life would flip upside down. I knew this would be true, but I didn't care. I was excited for Caroline to have a little independence and for her to be able to explore. She is doing just that. She is now able to see something and go over to it in order to inspect it. I love that I am getting to see a side to her that I have never seen before.

She is so much less frustrated now, which also makes Mama happy! She doesn't have to try and get her point across to me; she can just go and do something without me. And the highlight of it all is that sometimes she crawls to me! She wants Mama and can show me that. She can crawl right over to me or follow me where I go. She is just starting to follow me when I ask her to, and it is amazing. She still has a different goal in mind- walking. She'll stop crawling for a bit, and again gets up on her hands and feet (butt high in the air) just trying to stand. She'll get there soon. I have a feeling she isn't going to be crawling for long!

The day after she started crawling, she also started saying Mama. She used to say "ma" and, while she meant it, we were still working on saying "Ma-ma". Well, she has it! She calls out to me and says it perfectly. It is the best feeling in the world to hear your daughter say Mama, and to have her be able to crawl over to you and give YOU attention. Such an amazing phase, and I am so glad that it is here!

You've started taking selfies because it's the only way you are in the pictures!
You praise someone for a good burp or fart.  

You find yourself making sucking motions and saying "Suck it!" to teach your daughter how to eat out of a food pouch without realizing how dirty you must sound (and look).

You go out in public with bed head because you completely forgot to look in the mirror before leaving.

The dermatologist is trying to be polite and keep you covered during your full body exam, and to save time you find yourself saying: "It's ok, really... there's nothing to hide now".

Getting spit up on doesn't require changing your shirt.

You walk into the grocery store and look down to see your bra hanging out because you just popped your boob out to feed your baby in the car. 

Most of your conversations with your husband include the word poop.
You never get to finish a conversation with another adult when the kids are around.

You can't leave your baby's line of sight without pretending it's a game of peek-a-boo! Otherwise, a meltdown ensues!
You babywear in public places and have to use the restroom. You hope you don't bump baby's butt on the back of the toilet, while he's napping!

Your husband changes a diaper and you hear "WOW! That's the biggest poo-poo you've done. That's #1 baby".  

You have no issue smelling butts.

My view from the toilet seat...
every....single....time!  :)
You find bits of stuff in your hair and on your clothes and have no idea where it came from or what it is.

You have not a care about what you look like but your kid looks absolutely adorable.
When you're full of love and irritated at the same time.

You haven't gone to the bathroom by yourself in months.

You aren't sure if that's chocolate or poop smeared on your wrist.

You rock and sway when you're standing in line alone at the grocery store.

You've got your baby's schedule down to a science, but you can't remember the last time you brushed your own teeth or if you put deodorant on that morning.

You talk to yourself while you're out in public because you're so used to narrating everything for baby that you don't know how to just be quiet anymore.
You slip up and tell your husband "No-no!" on more than one occasion.

You can't remember the last time you shaved your legs, and then your toddler pets them and says "Oh no!"

Taking a shower for longer than 5 minutes is equivalent to a day at the spa- pre-baby.

Your living room looks like Toys-R-Us vomited.

Your toddler asks you for a Minnie Mouse breast pump for Christmas. 

You spend months planning a date night with your husband, and all you talk about while on your date is your kids (and how you might even miss them).

When multitasking takes on an entirely new meaning: breastfeeding, while pooping on the potty and trying to keep your toddlers from knocking down the door.

When you can't stop yourself from saying "pooping on the potty" when describing your own bathroom activities.

Stretch marks become badges of honor.

You fall asleep with the theme song from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse playing in your head.
You find yourself watching The Disney channel 15 minutes after you put the kids down for a nap. 

You sing and dance everywhere you go.

You have more love in your heart than you know what to do with.
You make up pooping in the potty songs.

You also make up pooping in the potty dances.

You sing ANY words you can think of to your child's favorite tune.

Every time you go to the bathroom in public, a little voice accompanying you in the stall says "You going pee or poop, Mom?", with his loudest voice.

Still laughing so hard at these! Thanks to the lovely mamas that helped me put this together! I'd love to read some more...keep 'em coming in the comments section!

For a detailed explanation of what Stitch Fix is, please see my first blog post on the topic: Stitch Fix #1- mama gets to have some fun.

My second fix was MUUUUUUCH better than my first. I attribute that to a few things:

1. I updated my style profile to be a smaller size, so everything fit much better this time around.
2. I created a pinterest board so my stylist could see my "style".
3. I gave honest and specific feedback on my first fix and why I was returning items.

A sneak peak....

The personalized note...

The style cards (showing you 2 ways to wear each of the 5 items)...

The pricing sheet...

The prices were still high in my opinion, but I think this is as good as it's going to get with Stitch Fix.


Here's a look at each item that I received:

In this fix, I asked for jeans, and I asked to try a dress with sleeves for Fall. This time around, I tried everything on before I looked at the pricing sheet. I had been so excited for the first fix, and then so deflated when I saw the prices, that I didn't have a good time trying my items on. I did not want this experience to go the same way.

Abie Faux Wrap Dress

This dress is so comfortable and fits so well. I probably would have never picked it up off of the rack in a store, but I was so glad to have tried it on. This is my favorite item out of this shipment!

Renesme Graphic Print Faux Wrap Dress

I love the bold print and colors on this dress. Again, it fits very well. I was very happy with this selection! 


Haiden Straight Leg Jean

I asked for jeans that had a higher rise, because I am sick of my underwear or butt peaking out of the top of my jeans when I sit down. I am always pulling up my jeans and hate it! I am convinced that men are the only ones designing jeans for women out there! LOL! Anyway, these jeans fit like a glove. They have a higher waist which I am now in love with, and they are incredibly soft. I wouldn't have chosen the cuff at the bottom, but I really don't mind it now that I've tried them on! (I'm wearing them in all pictures below).

Adelise Knit Top

This top does not fit very well. It has a very wide neck and low open back. The color is just ok, but the texture in the shirt is very unique. I like the length of the shirt, but overall this was not a favorite.

Himsbury Crew Neck Blouse

WOW. Such a cool shirt! The detailing on the back is super cute, and the bright blue is fabulous! Again, I love the length. Great shirt.

So my thoughts overall....  

My stylist did a fantastic job! She listened to what I asked for, and she delivered! I am having a hard time not buying all 5 of these items! Buying the 4 that I like, in this case, is more expensive than buying all 5 items since you get a 25% discount. I may decide to sell the Adelise Knit Top, and I might sell one of the dresses, but I am definitely buying all 5 for now! I will definitely use Stitch Fix again after seeing this shipment!