Our real life horror story

WARNING: Do not read if you get grossed out easily. This may also be triggering for those who have experienced loss or have had traumatic pregnancy experiences.

I’ve been bleeding for four weeks now; I’ve had 7 ultrasounds. In some ways, I’ve almost gotten desensitized to the large gushes of blood or color changes that prompt immediate ultrasounds and doctor’s visits. But I don’t think there was any way to be prepared for the real life horror film we lived this morning.

I woke up a little after 6:30 and started washing my face. Immediately I felt several gushes that were quite different. I sat down on the toilet to find that I’d bled through the bottom half of all my clothes, down my leg and onto my foot. And worst of all, there was a giant clot in my pad. 

I flung the door open and screamed for Seth to wake up. I said, “Something came out! Can you come in here?” He came running in and we both stared at a sea of red. “Is that one of our babies?” I asked. He was pretty still and gently grabbed my shoulder and said, “It’s so big.” He didn’t think it was our babies and hoped it was just the hemorrhage passing. Just in case, Seth went to get a paper towel and a ziplock bag to save it for the doctor. In that short time, I passed 3 more clots. I couldn’t see them because the toilet water was so red but they felt as big as the first one. 

I continued to sit there on the toilet, terrified to stand up because of what else might fall out. So I sat there as we called the doctor’s after hours emergency line. My hands were trembling and covered in blood as I explained what happened and he took down the message to have a doctor call me. To say aloud that I passed four tissues as big as baseballs, was horrifying. Seth just collapsed face first on our bed, still within listening distance. The doctor on call advised us to see if we could get an ultrasound first thing when the office opened an hour later or else go to the ER to check the babies and monitor my blood loss.

We scrambled to get out of the house. Seth woke up Jaclyn and took her to Mom and Dad’s while I quickly got cleaned up. I packed an extra set of clothes in case I bled through mine again. I brought a towel to sit on in the car. Apparently this is how I need to live for this season.

The ultrasound experience was a little different. I was relieved to see both babies as it confirmed that I did not bleed one of them out. But then the seconds felt like an eternity while we waited to find their heartbeats. They were both doing great! As we moved back to the waiting room for the appointment with the nurse practitioner, we were feeling a bit more encouraged. 

Until all of a sudden I started having terrible stomach pain, I sweated through all my clothes, and I was very woozy even while sitting down. I asked Seth to walk me to the bathroom and as soon as I stood up, my vision got dark and fuzzy and I was terribly weak. A nurse quickly ran to my other side and they got me to a bathroom. Seth really couldn’t leave my side for fear of me fully collapsing. When we opened the door, three nurses were waiting with a wheelchair and got me into a room to lie down.

I felt pretty terrible as I laid on the table. Soon the door opened and we were surprised to see my doctor and the nurse practitioner walk in; I should’ve known something wasn’t okay then. My doctor shared that there are now two large hemorrhages; they’re unsure if it’s the same one that broke in half or if there is a new one. Both are bigger than the measurements from yesterday, almost double. I’m pretty sure I dropped the F bomb at that point because how was there still so much in there when so much fell out of me just hours before?

The doctor shared that she is more concerned now that the hemorrhages are growing so quickly and it could be really bad for our babes. There’s a chance that there won’t be enough room for them to grow or that the babies will lose connection with my uterus until the placentas are fully formed, which is pretty soon. 

We confirmed that there’s no way for them to remove the hemorrhages. They shared that there’s literally nothing to do but wait and monitor. However, they wanted to do some labs and monitor me from the blood loss and almost fainting. So I was admitted to the hospital for several hours. In that time, the power completely went out so we we’re just chilling in the dark for a bit. Eventually we learned all my labs came back fine. I’m not anemic. I didn’t need blood. I did need some fluids though. We were able to come home early afternoon.

So here we are. Neither of us have processed the emotional aspect of the news we learned today. One of my friends described it perfectly as agonizing anxiety that we’re walking through. It’s literally just a waiting game for the next gush of blood or passing of tissue or bleeding through my clothes and almost fainting. Then more waiting to find out if our twins are going to make it. We are determined not to lose 2 more babies. And we have zero control over any of it.

Don’t Forget the Journey- with Twins

I feel like I’ve been pregnant for 30 years. We got a positive pregnancy test at 3 and a half weeks. After two consecutive losses and a total of three, my OB recommended taking the test as early as the instructions said and if it were positive, she’d put me on progesterone immediately to try to help prevent another loss.

Our journey with growing twins has been perhaps one of the most wild rides of my life. I think back to the positive test and am shocked and so thankful that we’ve made it this far. For those wondering, we weren’t doing fertility treatments, and it doesn’t run in the family. I just ovulated twice and we were trying really hard 🤷‍♀️

A couple of things I learned shortly after learning I was growing 2 babies. Read What To Do When You’re Having Two by Natalie Diaz. Get connected to Twiniveristy on social media. Connect with other twin parents for advice, support, and hand me downs. Perhaps most importantly, have no shame in how many times you call your doctor. None. But also know they will likely make you come into the office since you’re carrying multiples.

As for the actual journey, if I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times, this is the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my entire life. I could’ve never imagined the complications, the physical pain, the anxiety, the planning. And we’re not even there yet. I am proud of how far I’ve come but I’m also just in constant misery. Like, there’s no need to ever ask me anymore how I’m feeling; you can just assume miserable. If I’m not, I’ll be shouting it from the rooftops. However, I also know this too is just a season and I will likely forget some of it. So I don’t want to forget my journey with twins.

At 4 weeks, not even a week after finding out we were pregnant, my Mamaw passed away. I didn’t get to tell her our happy news.

At 5 weeks, I went to get evaluated by a psychiatrist because my mental health and anxiety were so out of hand with worry about losing this baby. I was diagnosed with a trifecta of depression, anxiety, and PTSD and was offered several treatment options, but I wanted to wait until our first ultrasound to decide how to proceed. I was also bedridden for a day or two with terrible dizziness.

At 6 weeks, I already had to purchase new maternity bras and pants. Pro tip I wish I’d known, go on up at least 2 sizes in both… otherwise you’ll be waiting on clothes to be delivered while you’re barely squeezing into what you own. I would also highly suggest used maternity tops, but I’m a big fan of new maternity pants because the belly bands are tight and not stretched out, and I’ve needed all the support I can get.

Due to our previous losses, my OB allowed us to come in at 7 weeks for our first ultrasound where we found out we were pregnant with twins. My gut response was, “You’re kidding right?” And then I squealed and screamed and cried in pure joy because we could see two tiny babies with heartbeats in my belly. I’m pretty sure the entire waiting room heard me. Shock and panic came later, but immediately it was joy and thankfulness.

Literally 3 days later, I started gushing blood and rushed back to the doctor for an emergency ultrasound. We were relieved to learn our boys were okay, and that I had a subchorionic hemorrhage. I never knew that was a thing but apparently it’s much more common in women who are pregnant with multiples.

For the next 13 weeks (from 7 to 20 weeks), I bled or spotted almost nonstop, ended up with 2 subchorionic hemorrhages, a hospital visit because of one really bad bleeding episode that nearly caused me to faint due to blood loss, 13 OB visits, and 12 ultrasounds.

By week 10, I’d already spent over $1,000 in medical bills, after finding out we were pregnant in February.

10 weeks

At 12 weeks, we had a small impromptu gender reveal after taking the Natera test to check for chromosomal abnormalities. It also tells you the gender.

2 boys! There was lots of nervous laughter.
12 weeks- we got this very sweet ultrasound picture with both of our little fellas in it.

At 14 weeks, I started carrying a small pillow around to work with me to put behind my back. I also started parking on the first floor and avoided stairs because of the pressure and bleeding from the hemorrhages.

At 16 weeks, I purchased Tummy Tape (https://mytummytape.com/) for the early on heaviness of the belly. I also could no longer sleep on my back because the weight of the boys was too much.

At 18 weeks, we learned I had previa placenta that’s was blocking my cervix and could be very dangerous if it didn’t move on it’s own. The doctor had me work from home until my 20 week appointment to see if it helped the bleeding from my hemorrhages and if it would help the previa placenta move.

At 19 weeks, we took our 2 year old to the Newport Aquarium for her birthday. I had to rent a wheelchair because I couldn’t walk for long but we had a wonderful time ❤️

At 20 weeks, we confirmed that the rest from work from home was helping and the doctor told me to work from home for the rest of pregnancy. I started using my belly band in addition to my tummy tape. I always had to have a pillow behind my back and a donut pillow when sitting on hard chairs. And I could no longer see my toes.

20 weeks

At 21 weeks, I finished our baby registries. Preparing for twins required more research than I expected.

At 22ish weeks, I mostly stopped picking up my 2 year old. I change her diaper in the floor so I don’t have to lift her. When she says “Mommy hold ya”, we either hold hands, sit on the couch together, or someone else picks her up and hands her to me. I don’t care for it.

At 22 weeks, Seth and I took our baby moon, which consisted of a day out to lunch at Joella’s and a Marvel movie in theaters. Mama couldn’t handle much more.

At 24 weeks, the heartburn and indigestion became constant. Indigestion was so bad I literally had vomit just hanging out in the back of my throat. Fans must be on in every room in the house. I often got winded simply from talking because these boys are squishing everything. And my belly button was almost a full outtie.

At 25 weeks, I had my work baby shower. My back pain got so bad that I had to scoot to my next destination because picking up my feet to take a step makes me yell out in pain. One weekend, I cramped for 24 hours straight and was called in to check for preterm labor. My cervix was still closed and I wasn’t dilated but was told to pay attention to the pain and discomfort level. On a fun note, Seth finally felt the boys for the first time.

Love my work family!
Gotta do what you gotta do.

At 26 weeks, unrelated to pregnancy, we were at great risk of losing our Adult Ed program. For almost 2 weeks, I used every spare moment of time and energy I had trying to save our program by speaking to the news, multiple legislators, and making videos for social media. Thankfully, our program has been approved for at least this full year.

At 28 weeks, puffiness started in my face, hands, and feet. I ended up at the chiropractor with my entire pelvic region off kelter. I failed my 1 hour glucose test. But on a fun note, we had our friends and family baby shower and got the majority of the rest of our registry items!

At 29 weeks, I failed the 3 hour glucose test and began figuring out life with gestational diabetes. At 29+5, I got admitted to the hospital for a preterm labor check. 2 cervix checks and a preterm labor swab later, everything was okay except there are ketones in my urine likely from dehydration, and I’m 1 cm. dilated.

At 30 weeks, I’ve had 5 appointments. 1- My new weekly chiropractor appointment where I learned my sacrum (tailbone area) was getting out of whack. 2- I had 3 new car seats installed into my backseat. That made everything feel much more real. 3- A follow up check up with my OB from our short hospital stint. There I learned that insulin is almost inevitable because I can’t control my fasting blood sugar. So it’s just a matter of time before I have to learn about shots. 4- A prenatal lactation consultation, which was amazing! I feel much more confident to try to breastfeed the boys than I did with Jaclyn. We have a plan 🎉 5- I went back to the doc for UTI symptoms. My urine sample had no indication of an infection and my symptoms are similar to those of a kidney stone. They didn’t do a scan or ultrasound to check just yet so we shall see. In the meantime, I’m in lots of pain from cramping and internal shooting burning pain. And the urgency / frequency to pee is unbearable on top of the usual frequency of using the bathroom in your third trimester.

30 weeks
So far, Jaclyn is pumped about the 3 car seats.

We’re still a maximum of 7 weeks til the boys arrive. I’ll fully complete our journey once they get here but goodness what a ride it’s been so far.

Pregnancy after loss- Part 2

It’s nearly impossible for me to explain the effects of losing multiple babies on the way you raise the children you get to meet on this earth.

The majority of the last three years of life have been trying to grow our family, navigate grief and multiple pregnancies, while in the middle of COVID. I’ve chosen to be very conservative in my personal response to it as that is the only thing I can control. 

I birthed my first rainbow baby when the doctor’s offices looked like ghost towns and no one spoke to each other in the eerie silence of the waiting rooms. Seth and I were alone for 5 days in the hospital with Jaclyn because no one was allowed to visit. 

I worried so much about Jaclyn making it into this world, I hadn’t even thought about how we would raise her as a pandemic baby. She hasn’t met many people in her two years of life in attempts to keep us as safe as can be from COVID especially when the strains were more aggressive and at its peak.

In those two years, we’ve lost 2 more babies, had 2 more D&Cs, and are now 23 weeks pregnant with twins. If I could’ve made it happen, the three of us would’ve lived in a bubble. And a lot of folks think we have. But the large majority of it is my trauma response to trying to protect my babies, whether in utero or in our home.

I’m well into the 2nd trimester and developmentally feel some peace that our babes will be okay. However, the PTSD of my other losses hits me out of nowhere and often cause me to spiral- much of it still prompted by COVID.

I’m terrified of getting COVID again, while pregnant with twins. The super illogical part of my brain goes to worst case scenarios such as losing our boys or going into super preterm labor and not knowing if they’ll make it. The more rational part of me warns those closest to me that if I catch it and become any more miserable than I already am, everyone better watch out. You see, carrying twins is not for the faint of heart- I am miserable 97% of every day. 

I also don’t want to waste my sick days by actually being sick. Our country does not truly support parental leave. It is complicated and if you are granted leave through your work, you often have to use your sick or vacation days for it to be paid. I desperately want as long as possible with my boys after they’re born, and I need all of my days so that some of my leave will be paid.

So when you see me still masked wherever I go or the fact that I’m still virtually attending church, this is the context. When I don’t accept your invitation out somewhere or invite you over to our home, its because most people I know do not mask as I do and I can only control what I can control. However, we will happily entertain visitors who agree to mask in our homes.

I will likely go back to therapy in the near future to work through my PTSD of our losses and how that’s affecting my parenting, but in the meantime, I’m doubly hormonal and growing two tiny humans while raising a two-year old and working full-time. This is the best I can do for now.

Our Little Pumpkin

One in four pregnancies end in miscarriage. But for us, one in four pregnancies produced a baby. Today I made a shadow box for our fourth baby, our Little Pumpkin.

One in four pregnancies end in miscarriage. But for us, one in four pregnancies produced a baby. Today I made a shadow box for our fourth baby, our Little Pumpkin.

Soon I’ll have my second D & C at a little over 10 weeks, and my body will begin getting closure on this loss. This pregnancy has been a very wild journey.

8 weeks and 3 days

We walked into a familiar nightmare during our 8-week ultrasound. “This is the yolk sac,” she said as she pointed to what I thought was our baby’s head. “Then where’s my baby?” “I don’t see it yet.” There was no baby. We’ve already experienced a blighted ovum miscarriage before and couldn’t believe it was happening again.

The yolk sac

The measurements of my gestational sac were very close to the determination guidelines, so we returned two days later for a follow up ultrasound.

8 weeks and 5 days

THERE WAS A BABY. The ultrasound nurse showed us our tiny jellybean.

Our baby

The embryo measured at 6 weeks and 1 day, but I was almost 9 weeks. Several other measurements and timelines were not in sync and didn’t make sense. There was no heartbeat but we were told that’s okay because it’s so small. Time to wait another week and come back to see how our baby is doing.

Waiting blows.

9 weeks and 5 days

The ultrasound nurse was quiet as she measured various things. “Can you tell us what we’re looking at?” I asked. “The baby is still measuring at 6 weeks and 1 day, and I can’t find a heartbeat. I’m sorry.”

10 weeks and 2 days

We officially say goodbye to our Little Pumpkin as I opted for a D & C.

You see, I’ve had a baby bump. I’ve been in maternity clothes since 5 weeks. I regularly wear nausea bands because I feel like I will vomit all day every day. I am constipated. I often fall asleep before 8pm because I’m so fatigued. I need this physical part to come to an end as quickly as possible.

For the first time in three miscarriages, we have the opportunity to test the embryo to give any insight into the causes of our losses. Beyond that, there are options to do some more blood work on me. And even with these options, we still may never get answers.

I’ve been pregnant four times in two and a half years. I don’t have a hard time getting pregnant; I have a hard time staying pregnant. I cannot express how difficult the entire process is on my body, my mind, and my heart. With babies, no matter how tiny, I don’t think there will ever be full closure.

A few more closing thoughts as a I speak my peace:

I love my doctor and am beyond grateful to be in her care through this. I chose for her to be my regular OBGYN after she did my D & C with our first loss because of how caring and compassionate she is.

I appreciate when people acknowledge and honor this tiny life.

I need time to feel everything— sadness, anger, guilt (yes, I know, not my fault), confusion— I need to ride it out.

Grieving with a toddler is very difficult. Jaclyn can sense when Seth and I are sad. She tries to help me blow my nose when I cry or play peekaboo when my head is in my hands from crying. It’s hard to let out all the feels when you’re constantly taking care of a tiny human.

I do not believe this happened for a reason. I believe we live in a fallen world and it is what it is.

I believe the Lord has a plan, and that plan may or may not involve us producing another biological child.

Thank you for everyone who has been so uplifting in words, prayers, and in deed through feeding my family the last couple of weeks. We love you all.

Seth and I love being parents. With Jaclyn, we are the three amigos. And we’d also love to add to our family.

We will always remember you, our little baby pumpkin and the excitement we had anticipating your arrival.

Feeding My Tiny Human

There is so much to learn about feeding a tiny human. Throughout the first year, there’s breastfeeding, pumping, formula, transition to whole milk, solid foods, weaning off the bottle… every time I got the hang of one thing, it was time to do something new.

There is so much to learn about feeding a tiny human. Throughout the first year, there’s breastfeeding, pumping, formula, transition to whole milk, solid foods, weaning off the bottle… every time I got the hang of one thing, it was time to do something new.

When I was pregnant, I read a lot about breastfeeding. I even paid for an online course about it. But goodness none of that prepared me for how difficult it is. I was impressed by the way Jaclyn naturally wiggled her way from my chest down to my breast shortly after giving birth. But beyond that, nothing about breastfeeding came natural for us.

Our troubles with breastfeeding actually kept us in the hospital longer than planned. Her incorrect latch made me bleed and hurt; she wanted to feed constantly because she wasn’t full. She wasn’t getting enough milk and before we realized it, she wasn’t having enough output. The nurses said she needed formula supplements, which made me feel like an absolute failure. How did I not know she wasn’t getting enough milk? How were we already switching to formula when I hadn’t given breastfeeding a fair shot? I laid there, crying and apologizing to Jaclyn for failing her already but I ultimately knew she needed to eat.

Within the first week of her life, we worked with five different lactation consultants. By the end of each attempted feed, Jaclyn and I were both crying and frustrated. So I decided to breastfeed via exclusively pumping, not nursing. I spent 2-3 hours each day pumping, storing, washing, and organizing my pumping supplies. I needed to pump every 2-4 hours for 20 minutes each time. I was an over supplier and after three months, I had almost 2,500 ounces of frozen breast milk in the deep freeze.

I had someone cute to hang out with while I pumped.

Exclusive pumping is quite the time commitment, so I tried several ways of organizing all the milk. The pitcher method was by far the easiest. You just pour all your overage milk in a pitcher for the day and then pour it into freezer bags. Unfortunately, the mixed levels of fore milk and hind milk in these batches made Jaclyn sick… so they got thrown out. That still makes me want to cry a little. Though it seems wasteful with the breastmilk freezer bags, I found it best to use what I need and freeze the rest individually. Sometimes that was 1.5 oz. and sometimes that was 6 oz. When I thawed the milk to give Jaclyn, I would supplement whatever I thawed with formula. I ended up pumping for 3 months and was able to bottle feed Jaclyn breastmilk for her first 7 months.

At about the 6 month mark, we began Baby Led Weaning. It’s the latest trend, so I had already decided we would do it before I fully understood what it was. When I realized we’d be feeding Jaclyn solid foods at 6 months old, I panicked. But goodness, we’re SO glad we did! By the time Jaclyn turned 1, she was eating nearly everything we were and drinking out of an open cup.

Solid Starts and Feeding Littles are great resources in this eating journey. So much of the beginning weeks are simply good and texture exposure, lots of funny, grossed out faces, and adorable tiny eating utensils such as this tiny cup and these GOOtensils. We also love these bibs; we call them her treasure trove. We tried these full body aprons but we’d rather just feed her in her diaper than cover her up like this.

Jaclyn has become such a good eater. The only two foods she wasn’t a fan of is oatmeal and applesauce, but she eats both now after more offerings and exposure. She had a healthy, sugar free smash cake at her first birthday, and she just sat there and ate it like a big girl because she knows how to eat.

Now, at 14 months old, she has breakfast, lunch, an afternoon snack, and dinner. We love these suction plates and she does really well with these cups. Her favorite foods right now are any kind of bean, peanut butter, all fruit but especially strawberries, and cheese.

Our final greatest feat has been the bottle. The pediatrician said to have her weaned off the bottle by 14 months, and we barely made it! Jaclyn does great drinking water from an open cup, but she would refuse her milk in anything but a bottle. See the struggle in the photo and video below.

Our saving grace was another Mommy blog who suggested watering down the milk so it was mostly water and then slowly adjusting the ratios until it was fully milk. It worked! Within days, Jaclyn was drinking her milk from an open cup, but we still needed the bottle to start and end the day. Finally after enough exposure, Jaclyn fully transitioned to drinking milk out of this sippy cup.

I put a lot of pressure on myself through the journey of feeding my tiny human. That Mom Guilt comes in hard and often. But I have a wonderful team alongside me. My husband, Seth, is always right there with me, learning how to best feed our little Jaclyn. My mom is incredible and follows whatever routine we set up as she watches her each day.

Our feeding journey has been quite messy and oh so rewarding.

Baby Beanbag

Sunday evening- positive pregnancy test. Monday morning- positive pregnancy test. Wednesday morning- negative pregnancy test. W.T.F.

Sunday evening- positive pregnancy test. Monday morning- positive pregnancy test. Wednesday morning- negative pregnancy test. W.T.F.

The last week has been a roller coaster of hormones and emotions. I don’t always take two tests but we were surprised, and that second blue line was mighty faint. For two short days, we hesitantly celebrated the new life we created together. The pain of losing our first baby will always haunt us. Nevertheless, we were excited that Jaclyn would be a big sister and have a playmate close in age. Seth had already nicknamed this babe, Beanbag.

Wednesday morning brought bleeding and cramping so the doctor’s office quickly squeezed me in. Covid restrictions didn’t allow me to bring anyone for support so I had to go alone. I was barely 4.5 weeks pregnant so as expected, the ultrasound showed an empty uterus. I did not, however, expect a negative pregnancy test in the office.

I sat there in shock, unable to look the nurse in the eyes. Did I make it all up? How is this even possible? I quickly pulled out my phone and made her look at the pictures of my at home pregnancy tests so she didn’t think I was crazy. She kept reassuring me that the doctor would explain everything.

Chemical pregnancy. The sperm fertilized the egg but for whatever reason, it couldn’t develop beyond that. Within two days, my hCG levels were nonexistent and it triggered my body to start my cycle, hence the bleeding and cramping. Just like that, I wasn’t pregnant anymore.

I sat in the room for awhile to call Seth and my mom to try and explain. I sobbed as I clarified that we had been pregnant. And then I was confused about how I could be so upset when I hardly knew that this baby existed. I eventually collected myself and went through the motions that I’d learned from the last time. At check out, I made sure they cancelled my upcoming ultrasound appointments and that they rescheduled my annual. Despite knowing that none of this was my fault, I still felt ashamed and found it difficult to look at people in the office. At least this time my mask hid my splotchy swollen face that showed I had confirmed what I had feared all along. At least this time I didn’t have to schedule a D and C.

The days that followed have been strange. After my appointment, I spent most of the day alone sitting in shock and crying. On Thursday I tried to distract myself with Jaclyn all day but anger and confusion just built up until I yelled and cried before bed. On Friday, I decided to be productive by organizing Jaclyn’s clothes and toys. I somehow didn’t realize how triggering it was to be immersed in baby items. There were multiple times I felt my chest tighten as if I were about to have a panic attack.

Miscarriage isn’t easy on the body. Grief isn’t either. I’ve felt insane multiple times a day. But then Jaclyn crawls over to me to play. Or I remember that Cammie was waiting for me outside my doctor’s office with a donut and tissues because she insisted I shouldn’t be alone. Or I get another sweet message checking in on me. Or I remember I haven’t had to cook because Elizabeth brought us a delicious dinner, Hannah took me out for lunch today, and Ashley sent me a gift card to Panda Express.

I have so many kind, caring people in my life. My family hasn’t had to bear this alone. There are so many offers to talk when we’re ready. For now, there aren’t really words. There’s just a lot of feelings that change from minute to minute. There are other mamas who have reached out because they’ve gone through the same thing. There’s the right song at the right time to remind me of God’s goodness.

I’ve now been pregnant three times in the past two years, and we’ve only gotten to meet our sweet little Jaclyn. We will try again as we want to continue growing our family. But we will always remember our Baby Beanbag.

These are a few of my favorite things

Prior to having Jaclyn, I didn’t do kids. I never babysat growing up. I worked childcare for one summer and realized very soon that Adult Eduction was my jam. I didn’t really know anything about babies or infant development. So how in the world do I start preparing for my first child? I polled my friends on social media and made various lists to see what was the most popular. There was also plenty of help online— checklists galore, but that was overwhelming too.  Now that I’m on the other side, these are a few of my favorite things in preparing for and caring for my baby.

SLEEP

Taking Cara Babies Newborn Sleep Course “Will I ever sleep again?”
This is worth every penny. Cara is the baby sleep master and this would be my number one suggestion for new moms. Follow her on Instagram for lots of free tips and tricks, but the course is gold. We learned how to calm Jaclyn when she was uncontrollably fussy, how to get her on a loose daytime schedule of eating, playing, and napping, and soon after that, she started sleeping longer hours at night. Currently at 4 months old, her record night’s sleep is eleven and a half hours.

SwaddleMe Original Swaddle
I was convinced that Jaclyn only liked to be swaddled in the hospital blankets because she liked to move her arms. I was wrong. Babies actually prefer to be tightly swaddled because it resembles the womb. I learned all about it in the sleep course and these swaddles were game changers.

Merlin’s Magic Sleep Suit
When Jaclyn was 3 months old, she learned to roll from her tummy to her back, meaning it is no longer safe to swaddle her  We went one night with her in a sleep sack and realized that her startle reflexes still weren’t controlled enough for her to sleep soundly. She kept smacking herself in the face and woke us up all night. This suit really is magical; it’s similar to a weighted blanket and is recommended for the transition between a swaddle and a sleep sack.

Sound Machine
Another recommendation from our sleep course. Another way to make your baby feel like he or she is in the womb. We like this one.

Bassinet
Personally, I love having Jaclyn sleep right next to me. Her bassinet fits right up next to our bed so I can see her anytime I want. On another note, she naps in the crib in her nursery so when we are ready to transition her, she’ll be ready.

HEALTH AND CLEANLINESS

Oogie Bear
I vowed to buy one of these for every pregnant friend from now on. This helps clean out boogies from those tiny nostrils in a safe, easy way.

Nose Frida
I gagged the first time I realized what this was. I told Seth he would have to use it. But the first time I heard Jaclyn struggling to breath, I didn’t even hesitate. I’m super thankful for this tool. Also, the saline spray that comes with it is the best. The size is just right for baby nostrils and it sprays a good mist.

Probiotics with Vitamin D
Good for the tummy and reflux!

Gas Drops
We prefer these to Gripe Water.

Baby Nail Clippers
Be extra and get the ones with the light and magnifying glass. It is terrifying to clip baby fingernails. Also, go ahead and get a baby nail file. It’s super handy.

Changing Pad
Super easy to clean for the surprising pee fountains and poop explosions.

Baby Oxiclean
There will be so much poop. SO MUCH. This stuff is miraculous at getting out poop stains.

Pacifiers
Register for several different types and let other folks buy them for you. Sometimes babies have preferences, and you won’t know until you try. Jaclyn mostly prefers these.

FEEDING

Bottles
Like the pacifiers, register for several different types and let other folks buy them for you. Sometimes babies have nipple preferences, and you won’t know until you try them. With bottles, I learned I had a preference depending on how easily she ate from each one. We ended up liking Nuk and Dr. Brown’s the best.
Be sure to get a microwaveable bottle sterilizer! Such a time saver.

Bottle Warmer
We didn’t register for a bottle warmer, but it was worth the purchase later. I was planning on breastfeeding, but I ended up exclusively pumping, and Jaclyn won’t drink cold milk well. This one was affordable and easy to use.
 
Burp Cloths
I was told cloth diapers are the best burp cloths. And I agree. These are my favorite because they’re nice and soft.

THE CUTE STUFF

Clothes
I was told not to register for clothes because you’ll get a ton regardless. That was good advice. However, if you really want something specific, register for it.

I would suggest getting some 3 month sleepers with mitten cuffs like these. Jaclyn started biting her hand a lot in her pre-teething stage, and those cuffs saved her little fingers. You could also put long socks on the baby’s hands while they sleep. I loved this pack of socks. Mittens just don’t stay on that well. We didn’t get many pants. Perhaps it was because Jaclyn was born in the summer, but I think I’ll register for more next time.

Blankets
You’ll get a million blankets as gifts so don’t register for them unless you really want a specific one. I have enjoyed having multiple bigger blankets to keep in different rooms for her to lay on.

THE FUN STUFF

Favorite Toys
This rattle
Elephant Lovey
These Teether Rings
Fisher Price Stacking Rings 
Activity Mat

Baby Books
Some of my favorite baby books so far include You’re My Little Honey Bunny, Little One God Made You Special, Counting Kisses, Global Baby Girls, ABCs of Kindness

Baby Songs
10 in the Bed
Old MacDonald
The Ants Go Marching
Beauty and the Beast: Calms her down every time.

THE BIG STUFF

Furniture
Google the best items of the current year. Baby List has rankings for most everything and was very helpful. We primarily chose items that convert and grow with her. The crib will turn into a toddler bed. Her changing table top can be removed so she will have a regular dresser. You get the idea.

ORGANIZING THE STUFF

Drawer Organizers
Perfect for organizing teeny tiny clothes.

Plastic Tubs
It’s difficult to stay organized when your baby grows so fast. I bought some under the bed storage containers and some taller ones to fit on shelves. These have been super helpful in switching out baby clothes of different sizes, maternity clothes, etc.

Phone Apps
Baby Tracker App: Track your baby’s eating, sleep, and potty time.
Baby Story App: Make all kinds of cute pictures even cuter.

To each their own, but I hope this helps narrow some things down for other mamas!

Don’t forget the journey

Shortly after I learned we were having a baby, I began asking my mom, “When you were pregnant…?” questions. To which she replied, “I don’t know, I haven’t had a baby in 30 years. Plus, you kind of forget all the discomfort once the baby arrives.” It was at that point I started writing throughout my pregnancy.

Shortly after I learned we were having a baby, I began asking my mom, “When you were pregnant…?” questions. To which she replied, “I don’t know, I haven’t had a baby in 30 years. Plus, you kind of forget all the discomfort once the baby arrives.”

It was at that point I started writing throughout my pregnancy. Practically, I wanted a timeline of my experiences for any future pregnancies or to share with friends. But also, some of this is just silly, and I’ve gut laughed reading back through it now that I’m on the other side of it. There is definitely camaraderie in motherhood, so I hope you enjoy my honest and candid journey regardless of what phase of life you’re in.

39 weeks

Pre-Pregnancy and the First Trimester:

In preparing to get pregnant, I did seed cycling when I went off the pill. I’m not sure if it actually contributed, but it can’t hurt to help normalize your hormones.

Both times I’ve been pregnant, I knew I was before I even took the test. It was mostly because I’d started peeing during the night, which was not my normal routine.

We decided not to wait for the “safe zone” of making it through the first trimester to announce. We didn’t have a safe zone the first time. And I’m glad we didn’t wait the second time. However, if you share early, everyone will think you’re farther along than you actually are for your entire pregnancy.

No one tells you that all of the ultrasounds until the 20 week gender reveal is a wand that goes up your vagina and is waved around as if conducting an orchestra. That was a terrifying surprise. (In retrospect, definitely not a big deal once you’ve birthed a child.)

Body Changes: I felt crampy early on during pregnancy when my uterus was growing for the first time. My boobs felt as heavy as bricks. My sense of smell became that of a blood hound. I’m thankful I didn’t have much nausea or morning sickness. For the few days that I did, cinnamon disks gave me some relief. Fatigue is no joke. I slept at 7-8pm many week nights. And sometimes at work, I closed my office door and laid down for 15 minutes to get through the day.

The Second Trimester

Maternity clothes are worth the money. (Full disclosure, I still regularly wear my maternity leggings because they’re just that comfortable.) I needed maternity bras at 12 weeks, and I started wearing maternity clothes around 18-19 weeks. Also, get the maternity underpants.

Do your research before you create a baby registry. I Facebook polled folks about their can’t-live-without items. And then I picked friends who I trust to give me more specifics. You can also research the current year’s top selections on big items such as car seats, cribs, etc. I did my registries at 23 weeks.

When you physically go to do the registry, plan a sit down/lunch break in between. It’s exhausting and overwhelming. I didn’t, and I ended up sitting in an aisle floor almost in tears because my feet hurt so bad. Also, take your best gal pals. My mama and sister were lifesavers.

We chose not to publicly announce our baby’s name until she was born. People have way too many opinions, and I’m way too feisty for my own good if they insult me.

Body Changes: My ankles started swelling, mostly my left one. It would go down after I elevated it at or above my heart. However, when I switched to decaf coffee, it stopped for a while. My lady parts got SO heavy and uncomfortable, and that just got worse until labor. I could physically feel my belly muscles stretching as the baby grew each week. I became much, much hungrier. My back regularly hurt but nothing that a heating pad or rice pack couldn’t fix.

The Third Trimester

Be sure to have firm, comfy furniture. We only had old kitchen chairs and a well used couch that I sank into.

By week 30, I carried around a body pillow and an oscillating fan wherever I went in the house. I usually ended up in my skivvies by the end of the night with a fan directly on me while Seth was in full winter wear.

Poll your friends about their pregnancy cravings— it’s fascinating. I didn’t have too many intense cravings. I mostly wanted sandwiches from Jimmy Johns, McAllisters, or Panera which was odd because generally speaking, I don’t care for lunch meat. I also regularly wanted Chickfila Original Iced Coffee; don’t worry, I only drank it occasionally.

I hate the outdoors; I truly have no desire to ever be outside. But the fresh air felt SO good in the second and third trimester during winter and spring.

Body Changes: At week 27/28, we finally felt her kick (on the outside of my belly). Around weeks 29/30, my belly button popped out and was a little sore. Difficulty breathing became pretty normal. My ribs and lungs started to get squished. Eating wasn’t as enjoyable. I got full faster because there wasn’t much space and then the heartburn sets in, the kind that lingers at the top of my throat and physically burns. I suggest drinking small cups of soda to help you burp. Sparkling water just isn’t the same.

It’s really difficult to sleep. Every position is uncomfortable, and you gotta pee all the time. I *think* I started sporadically have Braxton Hicks around week 30. At 33 weeks, the swelling returned and stayed. I was high risk for preeclampsia and ended up on bed rest (while selling and buying a new home). There was a late night trip to the OB ER because of it. And finally at my 39 week appointment, they decided to keep me and induce me.

Here I am now four months post partum with my girl. I am still a new mom, but I wouldn’t have remembered half of this journey had I not written it down. I’m not one of those women who miss being pregnant, but I am thankful for the memories of growing my baby girl.

Mama in the making whose heart is just aching

The day after Jaclyn was born, I FaceTimed my mom sobbing. When she asked why, I blubbered, “Nothing. She’s so perfect. I just love her so much.”


When we got home from the hospital and gave Jaclyn her first sponge bath in the sink, she screamed and cried. And so did I. I left halfway through and made Seth and GG finish it because I couldn’t handle my girl being upset.


I didn’t cry, but got all worked up, thinking about the potential of her being bullied in preschool if the hemangioma on her head doesn’t shrink before then. Ain’t nobody gonna hurt my baby!


Jaclyn is three and a half months old now, and sometimes I still cry while singing, “You’ll never know dear, how much I love you (please don’t take my sunshine away).” I just never knew my capacity to love before having Jaclyn. It’s so overwhelming in the best way. It’s the good kind of heart ache. It’s nearly impossible to describe.


Sometimes in the middle of the night while I’m awake pumping, I scroll back to the day I was induced and look at every picture and video I’ve taken since. There are tons. But I don’t want to forget anything. I want to remember every little detail of Jaclyn’s life.


So I’m documenting her growth each week. “She laid in her bassinet without crying!” Now she’s learning how to put herself to sleep. “She held onto her rattle for at least 30 seconds!” Now she’s already developing fine motor skills. Another picture of her lifting her head during tummy time? That’s why she can roll now. I’m literally watching her learn how to live, and it’s the most beautiful, fascinating experience. I am so proud of my little queen.


Even the undesirable parts of parenting an infant aren’t so bad. I am regularly covered in breast milk and spit up. On the really rough days, I’m also covered in poop. I happily suck the mucus out of Jaclyn’s nose with the Nose Frida. The few days where she just doesn’t feel well and scream and cries way more than normal. Jaclyn is worth it. 100%.


As for me, sometimes I forget to brush my teeth. I’ve learned to be okay with eating cold food. I now embrace cat naps. I’m significantly less modest, but in the ‘I pushed out a baby and at least 10 people watched’ kind of way.


All jokes aside, I feel like I’m a better person since Jaclyn was born. She has put so much into perspective for me. Jaclyn has taught me to slow down and how to roll with interruptions. She reminds me to be good to myself because she needs her Mommy and because she is going to watch how I treat myself and learn from it. Jaclyn brings me so much joy. I regularly grin and giggle at her and now with her all day long. She reminds me to be intentional about the time we spend together. Jaclyn literally grows every single day, and if I’m not intentional about our time together, I will miss a lot.

I truly hate being away from her, whether it be running an errand or just being in the room next door working. Not in the overprotective way, but I genuinely enjoy hanging out with my girl. She’s still pretty small, but goodness what a sweet personality.


Being a mama is the most tired I’ve ever been, but it’s also the happiest, most fulfilled I’ve ever been. Jaclyn is my little angel baby. She’s just so perfect. And I love her so much.

Already a worried mama

There’s really no good way to prepare for pregnancy after miscarriage. There are blogs and articles, but none of them can really prepare you for the anxiety of losing your new little love. From the morning of the positive test, I was already a worried mama.

There’s really no good way to prepare for pregnancy after miscarriage. There are blogs and articles, but none of them can really prepare you for the anxiety of losing your new little love. From the morning of the positive test, I was already a worried mama.

I was given a prescription for Progesterone to start taking immediately after we learned we were pregnant to help reduce the risk of loss.

I had blood work done within days of the positive pregnancy test to make sure my HCG levels were at least doubling.

The doctors were gracious enough to give us a 6-week ultrasound instead of at 8-weeks to check and make sure our baby was okay.

We’ve been slow to plan the normal things- her name, her nursery, etc. because we didn’t want to get ahead of ourselves.

I’ve either cried, hyperventilated, or both prior to every single appointment we’ve had in fear that they would tell us that something is wrong.

I’ve cried at the end of most appointments in relief that we could see our sweet baby in the ultrasound and/or hear the heartbeat.

I panicked when I got the flu in January, terrified that it would somehow hurt my little darling.

Now there’s the dang Coronavirus that’s taken over the entire world during my third trimester. I’m staying completely quarantined at home. It’s extra difficult not seeing my parents or my sister, but with so much being unknown about how the virus affects pregnancy, it’s not worth any risk.

Seth still has to work, but we’re regularly adding to our precautions of not bringing any germs home. And I just pray every day that he won’t catch it.

I’m also praying that none of our doctor’s appointments get cancelled so that we can continue to have peace of mind that she’s okay. And that I can find online videos or courses to replace the hospital maternity/parenting classes that have been cancelled.

I’m mentally preparing for it to be only me and Seth at the hospital due to the new visitor restrictions. I’m hoping it doesn’t get any stricter.

And then there’s last night, when I realized I hadn’t felt her move in several hours and got completely panicked. Kick counts are important during the third trimester, and I hadn’t felt her at all during the time span where she’s normally moving a ton.

I cried for at least an hour while my wonderful husband talked to my belly, googled the ways to get her to move, and prayed out loud. Eventually and thankfully, she did start wiggling around.

During the wait, I just kept thinking that we are so close; we can’t lose her now. It was too difficult losing our first baby, and that situation was so different and much earlier. Now our baby girl has adorable ultrasound pictures, and she has a name (though we’re not sharing until she’s born). There was more PTSD tonight from our first loss, and it was really hard to come out of it.

This has been a long 30 weeks of worry. But also of thankfulness. Seth and I are just so grateful for every good report on our sweet girl. We are 10 weeks out from our due date. We’re slowly getting furniture and decorations for her nursery. We dream about what she’ll look like and what personality traits she’ll get from who. We are so ready to meet our baby girl.

This anxious mama just has to hang on for 70 more days. Then we have her whole life to go, which is a whole different kind of worry so I’m told. But at least she’ll physically be here in our arms to love, nurture, and teach how to do good in this world.

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