A Different Kind Of Mom Bod

I’m supposed to say, I love my body. I made little humans. I really like the cellulite that showed up on my butt. Aren’t these the things I’m supposed to believe with all of the body positivity, motherhood vibes and girl power that I champion??

Postpartum feelings are confusing and after both of my pregnancies I haven’t felt how I thought I would. For the last three years or so I’ve given my body away in a pretty substantial way, by going through two pregnancies in a relatively short period of time. Truth be told, I still give my body away every single day. I nurse my almost three week old, I hoist my two year old into the car, I schlep the dog up the stairs, I wipe dirty little faces and I pick up an endless array of toys.

It might sound selfish (and it feels selfish) that I want my old body back. I know what you’re thinking – you’re thinking, “Ashley, you’re not even three weeks postpartum. Let yourself heal. Give it time. It took months to make those beautiful babies, so allow yourself to take the time to get back to where you were.” I get it. I agree, but it’s not that easy.

Seeing your postpartum body for the first time can be a pretty big shock. It’s hard (and amazing) for any woman to see such a huge transformation. Being that I recently shared with all of you that I had history with an eating disorder, it feels even harder seeing this change in my body, especially for the second time.

The good thing is that I’ve been through this all once before and I know what my body is capable of. I know I will lose the baby weight, regain my strength and feel like some semblance of myself again. I just hate the waiting game. It’s uncomfortable, but life can be uncomfortable.

While I was pregnant with Gialina I worked out 5-6 days per week, ate a balanced diet and treated myself when it felt right. With Viviana I did the same routine. The only difference that I can think of is that with Gia I stuck with more cardio based workouts, and with Vivi I continued my weight training with my cardio.

I gained 43 pounds with Gia and 40 with Vivi. The only reason I tell you this is because I’m a firm believer that your body is programmed to gain a certain amount of weight while pregnant, regardless of what you do. I did everything “right” through both of my pregnancies, yet I still beat myself up for not gaining the recommended 25-35 pounds.

Obviously those numbers can’t apply to everyone. The woman who is 5’2″ will very likely gain differently than the woman who is 6’0″. We aren’t the same and neither are any of our pregnancies.

Trust the process. This is my own reminder to myself to do just that. Sometimes when you put things out in the universe (like sharing vulnerabilities) good things happen. Healing happens. Support is given. People feel less alone. That’s my intention here. I’m reminding myself that I will get where I want to be soon and if you’re in a similar season in your life, you will too.

I’m sure you may have heard the saying, “people only show their highlight reel” through social media outlets. A friend of mine reminded me of this the other day, and it’s so true. Of course we are all quick to share the great things in our lives, but I find it just as important to share our bumps in the road or messy moments. We are all so much more alike than we realize. The moment we stop pretending that we are better than one another or comparing our highlight reels, is the moment we will all feel more connected.

 This is about my entire self, about all the parts of me – more than just getting my body back. It’s about the parts that existed before two little people filled my arms and my heart, and the parts that will continue to exist long after those people have fully grown.

Share your experiences – good and maybe not so good. I having a sneaking suspicion that someone else will reach out in appreciation, creating a ripple effect. Pass on kindness, pay it forward and if comfortable, share your truth.

Xo

Prepping For Baby #2: Three Things I Wish I Had The First Time Around

As much as I’d like to think this second pregnancy thing is a cake walk, it’s isn’t. The “been there, done that” mentality is there, but only to a certain degree. I hate to say it, but the fact is my pregnancy symptoms have been totally different than with Gia. As far as resting goes….well there is no rest when you have a toddler!

For me, there’s more to this than just getting my body ready to have our next baby. I’ll be adjusting my social life once again, my home and preparing a two-year-old for the arrival of our new family member.

You would think that after giving birth only two years ago that I’d be pretty well versed on doing the whole newborn thing again. Truth is, mom brain is real and I’ve forgotten a lot about those early days. I know most of it will come back to me, but new babies bring on different challenges.

One thing I do know about being a second-time mom is there are a few items that I’ll be needing that I didn’t have with Gia. Two of the three things I need for this go-round are solely for baby #2 and one thing is for both children.

So what are they you ask?

#1: Dockatot

Dockatot is a multifunctional sleep aid for your babe. It’s like it’s own little bed that can also serve as a place to sit, do tummy time, play and snuggle. It’s also great for safe co-sleeping and you can bring it anywhere. I don’t plan on using it for co-sleeping, as we did not co-sleep with Gia, but never say never.

I like the idea that it will give the new baby that cuddled feeling while sleeping. From what I’ve heard and read, it’s amazing and helps babies sleep for longer durations.

Gia was in a bassinet that has been in my family for years. While I love the idea of continuing that tradition, I also want to do what I think works best for us and baby. Thankfully Gia was a good sleeper, so I pray this baby will be the same!

#2: Rock ‘n’ Play

The great thing about having a sister-in-law who had her second baby before me is that I can ask her tons of questions. One thing that she got for her second boy was a Rock ‘n’ Play. She used it all the time for her baby. If it weren’t for her encouraging me to get one I’m not sure I would have thought of it myself.

What I think I’ll use it for most is to have a free hand to help Gia. Eventually when I’m home alone with two kids, I will quickly need to figure out how to balance their needs. I’m sure a lot of Gia’s needs will require me to set the baby down in a safe, portable environment. What’s great is that I’ll be able to bring it outside while Gia is playing.

There are quite a few versions of the Rock ‘n’ Play out there. I was able to purchase one on Amazon Prime Day for $30 off the original price. Who doesn’t love a deal?!

#3: Double Stroller

Stroller shopping can be overwhelming because there are so many options. With Gia we bought a Peg Perego stroller and car seats. Naturally, since I loved them so much I immediately gravitated towards the brand’s Duette Piroet stroller.

The hardest part about deciding on what kind of double stroller to get was the side-by-side set up versus the tandem set up. Ultimately, after seeing both options from Peg Perego in person, Craig and I agreed the tandem version is what we prefer. My gut says it will be easier to maneuver and it will just work well with our lifestyle.

Beyond these items, I’m pretty much good to go. I have plenty of beautiful clothes that I’m excited to see our new girl in. We have all the toys and play accessories a baby could need. The last few things I need to do are along the lines of rewashing baby clothes, packing a hospital bag and making sure I have what I need for my own recovery.

I’m sure if we were to have a third child, I’d have a brand new blog post listing what I’d need for baby #3 that I didn’t have the first two times. There’s always new and amazing products, as well as things we think we just need to have.

For now, we are very happy to become a family of four and we’re planning on keeping it at that. Four has always seemed like the right number for us.

Now I just need to stick out eight more weeks of being hot and uncomfortable. We can’t wait to meet our newest girl. Gia is especially excited….for now! 😉

Xo

Two Books To Help Me With My Independent (almost) Two-Year Old

Scores and scores of moms, and parents in general, are overcome with stress.  Although at times we can see humor in stressful times, insight and occasionally find a practical solution to our stress, there’s still that serene lifestyle that is out of reach.  Yes, when you have adult responsibilities such as a career, children, running a household,  and financial commitments, stress is just part of the everyday norm.

If I’m being 100% honest with myself and totally transparent, my source of stress right now is my almost two-year old and the worries that most other parents face.  Most days, Gia is my little shadow – she’s eager to please me, mimics everything I do and is an overall very happy and well-mannered child.  Like any toddler, she has her moments and now those moments come around a little bit more often as she is tasting what it’s like to be an independent big girl.

The last week or two has brought about new behaviors that are usually directed towards me, mommy.  After all, I am with her everyday, all day, so it’s only natural that she would show defiance and resistance to me more than daddy or grandparents.  We all want to raise respectful, well-behaved kids who make good choices, but it’s not so easy at this age.

About two weeks ago when I took Gia to use the potty she was adamant about not going (because she was very busy playing) but it had been far too long without her taking a potty break.  Most of the time if she says “no” to going potty, I honor her request but keep a very close eye on her because she usually refuses to go only to exert her power.  This particular time I wasn’t going to bend because we were out in public and business needed to be handled before getting in the car.  The short of it is that she smacked me right on the head because she didn’t want to go.  This was a brand new behavior that was kind of shocking to me.  I’m sure she’s seen other kids do this at our gym daycare, but I was still emotionally hurt by it.

This week, after an activity packed visit to San Diego to see her cousins, Gia has had more frequent outbursts that are quite obviously the “terrible twos.”  I’ve always kind of hated that term, but it’s now truly starting to rear it’s ugly head just a couple weeks before her second birthday.

Learning to discipline such young child who is obviously very bright can be confusing and frustrating, to say the least.  There are so many methods of discipline and ways to parent, and everyone who has their opinions about it.  Craig and I are approaching this new phase of toddlerhood with as much patience as possible and with open minds.

I think that the hardest part about all of this for me is that I expect so much of Gia.  I don’t expect perfection by any means, because I expect that of no one.  It’s just difficult to remind myself that she still is quite young.  Just because she’s grasped so many things at such a young age makes me forget that she’s still not quite two years old.  Her mind is still developing and the concept of discipline is hard at this age.  I mean, really, what kid her age will sit in time-out, even if just for one minute?!  (If your kid does this, my hat is off to you and you can message me immediately about how you make that happen!)

What I’m getting at is that these little humans are evolving every single day and sometimes that means the days feel a little bit longer.  I like to share these normal hiccups and challenges because as parents we ALL go through it but don’t always share about it.  Sometimes it’s just nice to commiserate, simply to know that you aren’t alone!

As a result of our opinionated and independent girl developing new habits, we are slowing down and taking the time to explain things at her level.  She has such empathy for her age and knows when people are hurt or even if feelings are hurt.  If she hears me say to another adult that I was upset she immediately tells me, “Mommy, don’t worry.”  The fact that she tells me this means we’re doing something very right.

We are just continuing to plow through and prepare her for life the best way we know how.  We’ll continue to make mistakes along the way, but we’re all just winging it anyway!

In case any of you are going through this phase of toddlerhood, I’d like to share two books that I just ordered through Amazon to help me out:  “Hands Are Not For Hitting” and “Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours.”

I know that people laugh about these kinds of books because they weren’t accessible to parents of earlier generations and their kids “turned out fine.”  While that may be true, just because there’s new knowledge and support in the world doesn’t mean it’s bad or that we can’t be open to it.

Happy Friday my friends!

xo

More Than A Wannabe

Everyone is a blogger these days. Whether you’re a journalism student hunting for a platform (I was one!), a makeup lover with on fleek contouring skills, or just a “normal” person like me who enjoys posting about your real life, anyone can be a blogger.

Ask any truly successful blogger or influencer and I’m sure they’ll tell you the struggle is real. Not everyone has ideas for blog posts just flooding their brains, let alone coming up with enticing blog post titles to catch the attention of a follower. Hell, this rings true for me and I just do this stuff for myself, not a big audience. I guess it’s kind of like my journal and I’m hoping I grow by sharing it with others, whether they care about the content or not.

Even though I’m just a sometimes blogger whose following is mostly family that I’ve bribed into reading along, part of me still would love to somehow make this hobby a job.

Yeah, I’m not organized like these Instagram influencers and fashion bloggers who post daily, but I’m passionate about trying to show others that we are all more alike than we may know. I might not have the photoshop skills for this, let alone a fancy camera…..hello iPhone! But, I’ve got gusto and I think I’m a decent storyteller, writer and I’m a realist. (Did I just compliment myself? Go me!)

At the beginning of this blogging rendezvous there may have been a time or two where I’ve wondered why I’m not famous and getting freebies in the mail. I’m sure I’ve also pissed people off, or at the very least, annoyed people with things I’ve written. I’ve gotta share posts to put myself out there, so my skin has gotten thicker.

I’ve thought about trying to add more glamour to my everyday life, but again, let’s keep it real. Most days are spent bare-faced with day 3 (or was it 4) hair and chasing my firecracker toddler. I’m no Julia Engel, Rachel Parcell, or LaTisha Springer – not even close when it comes to the blogging world. (Ladies, go follow them!)

What I do have that these other bloggers don’t have is an innate drive to share real life moments (good and bad), to try and not be so filtered, and to write thoughtful posts that allow me to remain totally true to myself.

I may never have a following and I definitely don’t have the aesthetically pleasing Instagram feed that these other bloggers do. I may always struggle with the tone of my blog, for fear of others thinking I’m an over-emotional wacko. My main reasons for writing and sharing the things I do is to sort my own thoughts out, to learn from my own mistakes, and to share my limited, yet still valuable life experience as a young mom.

I feel funny saying, “I’m a blogger,” but isn’t that what I am? I have this blogging platform that I contribute to on an almost regular basis, so I’m no wannabe. I’m going to own it from here on out, whether I get sent goodies from companies or not. I’m having a good time doing what I’m doing. That’s what this whole thing should be about anyway!

Putting my thoughts and opinions out there has been hard at times, but it’s teaching me to continue to focus on what’s important in my own life. Plus, challenging myself mentally like this is good for my emotional health!

Go ahead and put yourself out there! Own your truth, whatever it may be. Things might feel uncomfortable, but the growing you’ll do afterwards is so worth it.

Xo

Not So Frequent Flyer

For those of you who follow my Instagram account, @mrsbennigson, you already know that Gia and I took off for a weekend adventure.

For the last few weeks I’ve been wanting to head to Newport Beach to visit my brother. We don’t get to see him all the time and in turn, he doesn’t get to see Gia on the regular. We do what we can with technology and FaceTime, but the real deal is always our first choice.

Initially this trip was just going to be my mom coming down to visit Zach – I always have her for Mother’s Day, so Zach was long over due to have some mom time with her. I thought this would also be a good chance to visit Zach with Gia before baby #2 gets here, because Lord knows that we won’t be hopping on a plane with a toddler and newborn right away.

First of all, my hat is off to parents who regularly travel by air with their little ones. Flying can be stressful with or without kids – delays and being surrounded by loads of people means we aren’t really in full control.

Now, I know a flight from Oakland to Orange County is nothing compared to a transcontinental or international flight, but we had to start somewhere! Thankfully our flight was just over an hour and I armed myself to the teeth to make sure Gia and I would be prepared.

I have to say, we had it pretty easy when it came to luggage and necessities. My mom opted to drive down a day ahead of us because that’s just how it worked out. Luckily enough, I sent the stroller, car seat and our luggage with her. Yes to semi-free hands in the airport! All I needed to concern myself with was the little umbrella stroller and backpack with extra undies, snacks and books for Gia.

I think my biggest worry was the whole potty situation and not being able to get up on the plane during takeoff and landing. Fortunately, Gia was awesome about using the potty exactly when I needed her to.

I tried to think ahead and reserved our seat close to the lavatory. (My pregnant brain/mom brain didn’t fail me with that idea!) Once we boarded the plane Gia just hung on to me so she could snuggle, which is a rarity these days. Right after takeoff she dozed off and later woke before our decent. I offered her some crackers and we took a potty break before getting ready to land. Success!

Once we deplaned we were promptly greeted by my mom, or Gagi (gah-ghee), as Gia likes to call her. Needless to say, I was so proud of Gia while she was at the airport and on the plane. I think she must have been proud of herself too.

Anytime we try something new and unfamiliar it has the potential to be a little nerve wracking. I knew we would ultimately do fine on our first flight (and without daddy), but we all want things to go smoothly, especially with tots in tow.

As I’ve said on my blog many times before, just go for it. Don’t let your nerves or fears stop you from anything! Take the flight, apply for that dream job, go on the date, follow your curiosity wherever it takes you. Once you do it you’ll be glad you did, and you’ll wonder what your hang up was in the first place.

Maybe I’m a little preemptive in this post, as my flight home isn’t until Monday, but in the spirit of positivity, I’m sure we will do just fine on the way home too. I realize not all flying experiences go as planned, so I’m sure I’ll have more travel stories to share in the future – good and bad!

Happy travels and wishing all of the moms out there a wonderful Mother’s Day weekend!

Xo

Raising Strong, Confident Daughters

One thing I’ve already begun to realize over the last year and a half, or so, is that bringing up daughters is complicated: Messages of empowerment and achievement are everywhere, yet depression and anxiety plague so many.

I know these things because I am still a daughter even though I’m now also a mother. I know these things because I never want Gialina and her sister to go through the hard things that I went through. I want to raise my girls to be their best, well-rounded selves despite so many negative outside influences in our world.

During a routine morning not long ago, I was looking in our downstairs mirror. I lifted my shirt to look at my stomach – I’d recently found out I was pregnant with Gia’s sister. I was checking for any signs of a growing baby in my stomach and caught myself feeling a little bit upset. I was upset because I selfishly thought about how hard it will be to watch my body grow through another pregnancy. Although the creation of life is truly an amazing miracle, it can really do a number on a woman’s mindset and body confidence. In my case, I suffered from an eating disorder during my early twenties and although I am healthy today, the negative voices are still there and will always need to be tamped down.

After checking myself out for a quick moment I realized that my daughter Gia had been watching my every move, as she always does. To my surprise and slight horror, she walked over to where I was standing and proceeded to lift her shirt to show her tummy. She clearly was just mimicking mommy, but this instance just goes to show you that your children are always watching, listening and learning from you.

I love having a daughter and I am thrilled to be a girl-mom once again, but nothing annoys me more than when someone says, “Oooh, two girls! You sure are in for it!”

I feel like I was born to parent girls because of the challenges I overcame that tend to overwhelmingly affect women. God gave me not only one, but two girls so that I could teach them to love themselves as much as I should have been loving myself through my eating disorder. I’m excited to be raising two strong little girls, but even this early on it can feel like walking a tightrope.

Part of me is so excited for their future. There are so many female role models out there for them to aspire to be like. Unfortunately, there are also things like stress, anxiety and depression that come with high achievement. When my girls grow up and are doing everything possible to be all that they can, I want them to enjoy it. Like any parent, I want my girls to have boundless opportunity, but more than that, I want them to be happy. The bigger part of that is making sure they are ready for whatever challenges they will someday face.

Know the impact you will have on your child – celebrate their uniqueness, praise their imperfections and instill social confidence.

I know that I will always try to raise strong, confident daughters, but I also realize that they will be who they will be. I can’t make my daughters be something they weren’t meant to be. I just hope and pray that I continue to be the best parent that I can be through their challenging teen years and young adult lives.

Looking at Gia sitting beside me right now also makes me relish the simplicity of toddlerhood. She is completely unfiltered and totally herself in this moment. In a couple of years she will be more aware of the opinions of others, but I hope she holds on to her own opinions while remaining kind, strong-willed and unique.

Xo

Potty Training: The Good, Bad And Ugly

For the last month and a half or so, I’ve been slightly obsessed with all things potty training. This obsession was spurred by learning a friend of mine started the process with her daughter, who is about four months older than my daughter.

After hearing my friend had taken five days off of work to get the ball rolling, I did some research and ordered a book on potty training to prepare myself for this future milestone. I knew that if my friend’s daughter could do it, so could Gia. Our girls are both very verbal and independent, so why not give them the gift of a clean bum?

I took longer reading the book than I thought because I didn’t want to just rush through it. Also, I couldn’t just finish it in a couple days because, well, LIFE. There’s hundreds of books and opinions out there, so there’s many ways to go about potty training. After all, when we were kids there weren’t all of these resources. Our parents mostly did what they thought was best for us and that’s fine. The way they potty trained, the way I’m potty training and the way you potty train all work for us and our kids. There isn’t necessarily a “right” or “wrong.” You can expect for everyone to interject their opinions though. Just do what you think is best and ignore the rest.

So, if you’re a parent of a toddler, you may be wondering which book I went with. I ordered Oh Crap! Potty Training, by Jamie Glowacki, through Amazon. I gave myself about two weeks time to try and not think about potty training after finishing the book, before actually starting.

Craig and I decided our start date would be on his first day off of his work week. This allowed us three days together to try and tackle things as a team. Thank goodness we planned it this way because we needed each other’s support. Don’t get me wrong though, there were times we were very frustrated with one another.

Let me just say that the first day was very hard. As a Type- A individual, it was difficult to let go of the fact that my child would not be good at this in the beginning. Duh, Ashley! How crazy of me to think for one second that my child, who has known only diapers since moments after birth, would magically be a pro at potty training!

I think that as a parent I secretly wished that this process would be smooth sailing and we would magically get it done. No such thing, even when children are bright.

The main reason why I’m sharing part of our experience is to let other parents know that this is hard stuff. Fortunately for me, I have a sister-in-law with a newly turned two-year old son, who started potty training last month. After our first day of potty training I asked her if she experienced the things we were experiencing. Low and behold, they did. The bottom line of this is that potty training takes an insane amount of time, energy and absolute patience. These are all attributes that most parents just white knuckle their way into acquiring. Yep, that’s right – we don’t know everything and that’s totally okay!

For those of you in the first days of potty training, I applaud you and encourage you to push through! If I didn’t have encouragement from my husband, mom, girlfriend and sister-in-law after the first two days, I might have thrown in the towel. You will feel the same way, but DO NOT GIVE IN! It is worth having the most challenging time to see progress. We are currently on day six of our potty training and I am amazed. The sense of pride I feel is huge and what’s even better is seeing the big smile on Gia’s face when she goes on her potty. You can see how proud she is of herself too.

Set yourself up for success and do some research, get a potty, get an insert and have wine ready at the end of the day. It will be hard and we all face different hurdles through this time. Working parents, kids who go to day care and stay at home parents all have a different set of challenges to deal with while hitting this milestone.

Even if potty training sends you to therapy, you can do it! If I can get over the hump and continue to push through, so can you!

Xo

#MomSoHard

As parents we try our very best to be the ultimate caretakers, protectors, providers and nurturers, but some days we feel like we just flat out suck. If there’s one thing I know, I am not alone with these feelings.

Becoming a parent has hands down been the greatest thing I’ve ever done, yet it’s also been the absolute hardest. Gialina has the power to melt me or crush me with a single word, look, or gesture. It’s almost as if I’m at the mercy of a tiny dictator….an adorable tiny dictator.

I think about how Craig and I made the decision for me to be a stay-at-home mom and I know it has been the best decision for our family. With that, some days I can’t help but think about the single parents, the working parents and parents of multiple kids who seem to always get everything done, and without complaint.

On my tough days at home with Gia I try and remember parents who have it a lot harder than me (the stay-at-home parent raising three kids under three, the parent who cries when dropping their child off at daycare, and the parent working two jobs who just can’t catch a break). I should be so grateful to stay home and raise my daughter, knowing she’s learning from me. I am grateful of course, but it’s not picture perfect, nor should it be.

Being a mom is hard. I’m alone most of the time and that takes a toll on my mental health. When I say alone, I’m with my daughter, but obviously talking to her is very different than talking to an adult. I sit in my own thoughts and that can have a negative snowball effect on me at times.

It’s easy for me to judge myself and feel guilty about most anything related to parenting. I know many parents feel that same guilt, so I’m not alone, but man….it still feels lonely.

I feel like I didn’t do my best as a mom if I didn’t talk enough to Gia, play enough, take her to the park, etc. These thoughts are completely ridiculous, I know. She gets plenty of stimulation doing the countless things we do at home.

Then there’s that other guilt I get. Guilt from not folding the laundry right away, from not picking up the play room (even though I’ve done it three times already), guilt from not making Craig a lunch for work, etc. After all, my job is to take care of Gia and our family home.

The days I don’t do it all, or don’t feel like doing it all make me feel like I’ve lost. If this is my “job” and what I choose to do then I should be doing better at it, right?! No. I’m doing the best I can, just like everyone else.

Yesterday was a day where I felt like I just couldn’t win. The second Craig walked in the door I felt better because I had my partner in life home. At the same time I was upset that Gia could care less about me because he was home. I’m so glad that she loves both of us so deeply, but I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of envy. I’m with her all day, everyday, bending over backwards to give her everything she needs. Daddy is gone at work, so of course she misses him. I feel bad for having those feelings, but they’re honest.

Once Craig had changed from work and asked me what he could do to help with dinner, etc. I asked if he wouldn’t mind bathing Gia for me. When I walked down the hall to see how they were doing, any feelings of envy disappeared. Appreciation was what I felt in that moment instead.

Tubby time with daddy:

We are all just trying our best to make it through each day, whether we have kids or not. Don’t judge the mom in the grocery store because her clothes are covered in dog hair and don’t judge the person on BART falling asleep after a long day at work. You don’t know what they might be dealing with in their personal life, or how long they were up with their kids the night before.

Xo

A Birth Story: Gialina Eve

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There are two days in my life that I will never forget – one is my wedding day and the other is the day Gialina was born.  I know lots of mommy bloggers share their birth stories, so initially I shied away from the idea of sharing mine.  What changed my mind is that everyone’s story is so unique and beautiful.  There is no right way to give birth and no mother should be shamed for going through natural delivery, an epidural or a c-section.  So much is out of your control when you bring another life into the world and any way that your child arrives is a perfect miracle.

I used to dislike saying that childbirth is such a miracle (silly me – that was before I actually went through it), but as cliche as it sounds, that’s the only way to describe it.  So, so much can go wrong from the time of conception until you meet your baby.   Inevitably, the wold miracle is the only proper one that encompasses the whole process.

I’d like to start by saying that the day I gave birth was just an ordinary day, but it sure didn’t feel that way to me.  I was so done with being pregnant!  Gia’s due date was July 28th, 2016, but our little lady arrived according to her own plan an entire week late.  The morning of August 4th, 2016 I had a pre-scheduled appointment with my OB/GYN.  That morning I felt pretty normal and remember the slightest little stomach cramps.  Of course my brain went straight to “I must be in labor!”

I was hoping that once Craig and I got to the hospital for my doctor’s appointment that they would confirm that I was in labor and I could just stay there and get ready to welcome our daughter.  WRONG!  I got all hooked up to some contraption to check and see if I was actually contracting and in labor, and the answer was a big fat no.  Come to find out, I was only dilated 1cm.  Womp, womp.  I was so bummed to hear this because I was thinking that this was it.  My doctor reminded me that things can change quickly, so don’t let yourself get too fixated on it.  Either way, I was penciled in for induction a few days later if mother nature didn’t get things moving on her own.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with getting induced.  Modern medicine is amazing and whatever my doctor thought was best for the baby was what I was going to do.  I have to admit that I really, really did not want to be induced.  I had heard a lot of stories about induction and it being a lot more painful, due to the pitocin that is given.

I took my doctor’s advice and just tried to relax as much as possible and not let my body get stressed.  Since I realized again that I was not the one in control here, I went about my day the way I usually would.  I opted for a walk in the neighborhood instead of heading to the gym like I had everyday prior.

Most of the remainder of the day was spent at my mom and dad’s house.  No matter how old I get, I will still always need my mom and that’s who I wanted to be near (along with my husband, of course) if I happened to go into labor.  So, Craig and I hung out at my parents house until my brother flew in from Orange County and my dad got home from work. (Since there was a possibility of being induced, my parents flew my brother home for Gia’s birth.)

All afternoon I was feeling oddly crampy.  I was uncomfortable but it felt more annoying to me than anything else.  I kept asking my mom and Craig, “Am I in labor?  Don’t you think I would know?  I can’t tell if I’m in labor or not.”  I know that sounds ridiculous, but I didn’t know what to expect, as I’ve never even experienced menstrual cramps, let alone childbirth.

We decided it couldn’t hurt to time the “possible” contractions.  I was all over the board when it came to timing these cramps, as I called them.  I was in complete denial that I was in labor and was able to sit and have dinner before I told Craig it was time to go home.


Keeping it real with this one – Here I am, clueless as to the fact that I’d be giving birth very soon:

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Since my dad and brother had arrived home, the house was getting a little louder and I found myself becoming irritable and wanted to be in the quiet of our own home.  Craig and I grabbed our things and were walking down the hallway towards the front door when, yep, you guessed it – my water broke!  It wasn’t at all like what the movies make it out to be.  I literally felt like I had peed my pants and couldn’t stop.

I remember screaming in disbelief, excitement and let’s be real, fear – “MY WATER BROKE, MY WATER BROKE!”  Thankfully, Craig was so on top of things and was dialing labor and delivery before I could think to do it.  The nurses on the other line instructed me to get in the shower and rinse off before making my way to the hospital.

Lucky for me my water broke right next to the downstairs bathroom, so I just went a few steps and took my quick shower.  That’s when sh*t started to get real.  My contractions came like a bat out of hell, fast and furious, almost immediately after my water broke.  Things were so intense that I could hardly get to the car.  I’m pretty sure I just hovered over the passenger seat while Craig drove faster than I’d like to know to get me to the hospital, which was maybe 12 minutes away or so.

I made Craig run the last light before getting to the hospital because I was literally about to give birth in the car.  Craig parked his car in the middle of the emergency room driveway, grabbed me a wheelchair and pushed me into the ER asking how to get to labor and delivery from there.  Everyone was literally staring at us saying nothing until the security guard chimed in and said, “this lady is about of have a baby, get her upstairs!”

Once I was upstairs I was brought to a delivery room right way.  The nurses were so calm and nice, and even making me laugh through my contractions.  Don’t get me wrong people, I was by no means comfortable.  I distinctly remember telling the nurse that I wasn’t opposed to getting an epidural if this was how I was currently feeling.  No need to try and be the hero, right?!

The nurse told me she needed to check me first before she could give me a yay or nay on the epidural.  All you mamas out there are probably thinking, girl it’s too late for that.  The nurse confirmed and said word for word, “Oh no, honey, you’re having a baby right now.”  I was already fully dilated, so I asked the nurse if I could push now.

During all of this chaos, Craig’s car is still in the ER driveway.  He asked the nurse if he should go move it (DUH!), but she said, “Not if you want to miss the birth of your child.”  Thank goodness my family was right behind us on the way to the hospital, so Craig literally tossed my brother his keys, so he could move his car.

I sat down on that delivery bed right around 8 p.m. and I think I pushed maybe five times and she was out by 8:31 p.m.  I had never felt more like Wonder Woman in my entire life.  Well, I should say I felt like Wonder Woman who just got a really good beat down by the bad guy.  I did it!  I was holding our beautiful daughter, who had a head full of hair and the sweetest little face.  When the nurses were weighing her I remember fixating on her hands and feet because I couldn’t get over how big they were.  I was in utter disbelief that she was just inside of me and I was able to push her out.  She was no tiny baby either.  Gia was a healthy 8 lbs 15 oz and 20 inches long.

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Giving birth to our daughter is my proudest moment and I will never tire of telling the story of her arrival.  Women’s bodies are amazing and capable of enduring so much.  I have to say, there was moment after the nurse told me that I couldn’t have an epidural that I got scared.  I questioned if I was strong enough to do it.  I was strong enough, and every time that I look at my daughter today, I cannot believe she is part of me.

I was grateful to be able to have such a quick delivery, but that doesn’t mean it any easier.  I’m just glad I wasn’t laboring and pushing for hours like many women do.  Those women are the real tough ones!  We are all goddesses, whether we have given birth or not, all women are amazing and capable of doing anything.  Sometimes we just need a gentle reminder every now and then!

xo

It Takes A Village

Since breaking my ankle last week I have never been more appreciative of the help from my family. It’s moments like this where I feel so lucky to live so close to my parents and in-laws. 

Normally, on weekends when Craig is working graveyard, I get my one-on-one time with Gia. We go to the park, run errands and play. Now that I’m helpless with Gia, I’m totally reliant on Craig and our family. 

This past weekend was the first small challenge we had to sort out because of my broken ankle. Prior to getting injured, my mom had planned to drive down to Orange County to help my brother. He has two herniated discs, and after lots of physical therapy and pain, he needed to get an epidural to help him. (We sound like a bunch of gimps in this family!) Zach certainly needed my mom there, as he wouldn’t be able to drive after the procedure. 

With Craig at work Friday-Monday morning, my mom gone, and me being useless, it was my mother-in-law, Gail, who came to my rescue with Gia. 

My biggest worry this weekend was, how am I going to watch Gia? I can’t even change her diaper with this cast and pain, let alone chase her and prepare her food! Craig obviously couldn’t help me when he was home from work because he had to sleep during the day. Our solution was that Gia would have a weekend sleepover with Nana and she would come hang out with me during the afternoon when Craig was up and getting ready to head back to work.

Only Homie is enjoying the fact that I can’t do much:

 

This weekend everything worked out great! What was especially nice about Gail and Harry watching Gia was that they got to have the whole weekend to share with her. In a way, it was good timing because they are heading to a wedding this week and then going straight to see my sister-in-law, Michelle, afterwards. Michelle is due with my second nephew on the 17th – so Gia got to have fun with Nana and Papa before they go to meet their new grandbaby. 

Picture of Gia helping Nana in the kitchen:


 I have to say, this whole ankle ordeal has given my anxiety a major boost. I have endless guilt that I’m not able to do much of anything for Gia, except let her sit on my lap. I am always asking everyone who is helping me with Gia, “Is that okay? Are you sure?” Not to mention the endless amount of  times I’ve said, “I’m sorry.”

I hate that people have to wait on me and that I’m not able to care for my own child without help right now. I know this is all temporary and that it’s just the way things have to go right now – I don’t have much of a choice!

I’m looking at this whole thing as a mental challenge for myself. It’s just another test that has been thrown my way. As always, this will teach me something new, making me a better mother, wife and daughter. 

Photo of G looking too cool during her weekend with Nana & Papa: