Sofia’s Birth And My 28 Hour Unmedicated Labor and Delivery Journey

I had been meaning to share Sofia’s birth story for a little while now and with Mother’s Day this weekend, what better time than now to finally share my labor and delivery journey with all of you? The 28 loooong hours that led to that unforgettable moment on January 5, 2020 at 5:03am. The moment I officially became a mother.

Before I get into my labor and delivery journey, I want to start off by saying that every birth story is special and unique. There is no right or wrong way to birth a child, or one that makes someone more or less of a mother. Whether your baby was delivered via surrogacy, through adoption, caesarean, or with or without drugs, the end result is all the same. We all became moms.

I chose to have a fully unmedicated birth, or as most call it, a “natural” childbirth. I personally don’t like to use the word natural because I believe birthing a child any way you choose is natural, unless you’re a man of course, birthing a T-Rex, but that’s neither here nor there. Often times you hear “natural” vs. “unnatural” or the “easy” way out. If you’ve ever experienced child birth, then you know that there is nothing easy about it, whichever way you do it. I’ve heard so many people refer to Caesarean delivery, which is surgery, (major surgery), and one that often times leads to hours recovering in the ICU and several weeks of painful recovery at home, as the easy way out. Shame on you if you think that’s an “easy” way out. While I personally haven’t judged anyone for how they chose (or will choose) to give birth, I have been. And surprisingly, quite a bit. “You’re not going to get a medal.” “This isn’t a competition.” “Does she want a cookie?!” “Just get the epidural.” Those were just a few phrases I heard leading up to even just a couple of days before I was supposed to give birth! Why judge a soon-to-be mother for doing the most natural and beautiful thing our bodies are capable of and meant to do without intervention? If there’s anything you take out of reading my labor and delivery journey, I hope you feel more empowered instead of fearful, and have a more positive outlook on the most important, beautiful and life changing event you’ll ever experience. A woman’s body was made to carry and birth babies, no matter your baby’s size. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! And for the record, I don’t have a high pain tolerance. At. All. So if I was able to get through it, I believe you can too, if that’s what you want to do. Now, onto the good stuff.

January 2, 2020 (Due Date)

My EDD (estimated due date) was Jan. 2. Your “due date” is never exact because there’s really no way to calculate the exact moment the egg and sperm meet unless you get pregnant through IVF. A full term pregnancy is between 38-42 weeks, and most of the time, your first baby is always “late” (any day after your EDD). I was busy doing some retail therapy on my due date.

I went into my 40 week appt. on January 2 and I was dilated only 1 cm. 10 cm is show time. I had been dilated 1 cm for almost two weeks at that point so I knew it could happen any day. I had been swaying on my yoga ball whenever I had the chance, eating dates, drinking raspberry tea and walking as much as I could which are all ways that could help induce spontaneous labor. While my provider’s office is very supportive of unmedicated birth and with little or no intervention, my doctor suggested that I schedule an induction at 41 weeks. Typically, most doctors won’t let you go past 42 weeks and some won’t even let you go past 40. There is a lot of conflicting information as to why some doctors don’t want you to go past your due date, but no one can force you to do anything you don’t want to. Find a provider you trust, listen to your body and do what feels right to you.

At the time, John and I both felt comfortable scheduling my induction date because I didn’t want to go too far past my due date, but once I got home, I started to have second thoughts. I really didn’t want to have any intervention and I had mentally prepared to go unmedicated since becoming pregnant, so I had decided that if I didn’t go into spontaneous labor by Saturday, I would call and push back my induction date by at least a few more days. They say on average, you go into labor about 10 days after your due date and I truly believed my body would go into labor when it was time. I was feeling more anxious at the thought of what could go wrong if I got induced over just letting nature take its course. So over the next two days, I hoped and prayed Sofia would come on her own, when she was ready. My prayers were answered as I went into early labor at 1:30am on January 4, two days after my “due date.”

Stages of Labor

There are three stages of labor: early, active and transitional. If you count early labor (the longest part of labor), when contractions are mild, you can still talk through them, you lose your mucus plug and you dilate from 1-4 cm, then I labored for 28 hours total. Active labor (second stage) is when things really get going. Your contractions get much more intense and come on more frequently and you dilate from 4-7 cm, and then the final stage is transitional labor. Transitional labor is when you dilate from 7-10 cm and a woman’s body makes the shift from opening the cervix to the beginning of the baby’s descent. This is usually the time when most women give up and ask for pain medication. This stage of labor lasted 10 hours for me. Yes, 10. 10 of the most intense, painful, exhausting, “Why am I doing this?” “How much longer?” “I hate you” “God help me!” longest hours of my life.

January 4, 2020

I got woken up by light cramping that felt like menstrual cramps at around 1:00am early Saturday morning. There had been a few instances in the weeks prior where I had some minor cramping that went away after drinking water or switching positions, so I thought it could very well be a false alarm and just my body getting closer to going into labor. John and I had downloaded an app that could time your contractions so I logged in to see how often they were coming on before waking him up. After about 45 minutes or so of these mild, consistent “contractions,” I woke John up and told him I was officially in labor.

Since it was still so early on, I tried to fall back asleep because I knew we had a long day ahead of us. I was in and out of sleep and the contractions were pretty consistent from the moment they began so I definitely knew it was the real thing. I text my doulas around 3:30am letting them know early labor had begun and they reiterated to just try to get as much sleep as I could because it would only get more intense as the day progressed. Easier said than done.

Throughout the day I walked around the house, took a shower, made a few phone calls to distract myself, ate lunch, attempted to take a nap (which didn’t happen) and tried different breathing techniques and positions that we learned about in our HypnoBirthing class. By 5:30pm, my contractions felt pretty intense and I was hunching over often, my breathing was getting heavier, and I just couldn’t get myself to relax or feel comfortable so we decided to head over to the hospital. My doulas suggested that I stay home longer if I could, but because we lived 30 minutes away from the hospital, I wanted to head out. In the event that it was still too early and the hospital didn’t want to admit me, the plan was to go over to my in-laws who lived only 10 minutes away from the hospital and labor there until I was farther along.

We checked into the hospital at about 6pm and they admitted me right away. One of the triage nurses checked me upon arrival to see how far along I was dilated. At that point, I had already been in “labor” for about 18 hours so I for sure thought I was farther along than I was, but I was only 3.5 cm dilated. I still had 6.5 cm to go!! They offered me an epidural which I declined and I gave the nurse my written birth plan so everyone was on the same page. Upon check in, I had requested one of their laboring rooms with a tub which is given out on a first come, first serve basis since there are only a few. As soon I stepped into my room, my delivery nurse took over and tried to make me as comfortable as possible.

For the next few hours, I went back and forth between the shower and tub because the warm water pressure on my skin felt really good and helped ease some of my contractions. My doctor on call came in to see me at about 7:30pm to check my progress and thankfully, I had progressed from 3.5 cm to 6 cm in the short amount of time we were at the hospital as opposed to the 16 hours it took me to dilate from 1-3 cm. We called my doula and asked her to meet us and she came to the hospital at about 9:00pm which is around the time I transitioned to the final stage of labor. The most intense and difficult part of labor.

My nurse and my doctor checked my progress every hour or so, per my request, which I don’t recommend doing. I was only progressing about .5 cm every hour, or sometimes nothing at all. Every time they checked my progress, I only got more discouraged that I wasn’t progressing along farther. If I knew how long it was going to take, I would’ve labored at home longer. My doctor offered me the epidural several times and to break my water which of course I declined. Some women’s water breaks before contractions start, but ideally, you want labor to start before your water breaks because once the water breaks, doctors typically want the baby out within 24 hours. My doula and I were both annoyed at my doctor for trying to sway me away from my birth plan by offering to break my water. Of the five doctors in the practice, she was the one I knew the least and the one I had only met once during my pregnancy. If your provider has more than one doctor, you’re expected to meet with all of them at least once during your pregnancy because you won’t know who’s going to be on call the day you deliver. As impatient and rushed as I felt she was, she really is a good doctor and I’ll always be grateful to her for delivering Sofia safely and quickly.

At about midnight, my water broke on its own, as I had expected it to. I was lying sideways on the bed with the peanut ball in-between my legs when a powerful contraction came on and we heard what sounded like a champagne bottle pop, followed by a gush of fluid that poured out of me. I seriously thought it was the baby and I even yelled out “is that the baby?!” lol. By then, I had been in labor for almost 24 hours and I was EXHAUSTED!! There were many times I had turned to John to ask him what I should do and if I should continue without the epidural or just give in. John never pressured me do anything I didn’t want to do and this was my decision to make. He supported whatever I wanted to do and if you ask him, he’ll tell you it was really painful and emotional for him to see me struggling as he felt so helpless and didn’t want to see me in any pain.

When I put my mind to something, I go all in and I do it. I had already gotten this far so there was no way I wanted to quit now. Honestly though, if it wasn’t for John, our doula and my nurse’s support and encouragement, I wouldn’t have been able to continue on my own. I was just so discouraged that it was taking me so long to progress and I felt like there was no end in sight. The contractions after my water broke were so intense and sometimes unbearable. With each contraction, I felt this intense amount of pressure through my hips pushing the baby (and what felt like every organ in the lower half of my body) farther down. Getting through those last few hours of contractions took every ounce of strength and will power to get through. I hugged my doula so tight that at one point, one of her ribs which was already out of place, shifted even more and she had to go to her chiropracter the following week.

In between contractions, I was totally fine. I would calmly turn to John and ask him for water or juice and some crackers. He refers to those moments in-between contractions as my Dr. Jeckll and Mr. Hyde moments because one minute I was yelling out loud while the next I was softly and politely asking for water.

At about 4:30 am, I had finally reached 10 cm (Hallelujah!!) and it was time for me to push. As John remembers it (because I was so out of it at this point and it was all a blur because of how tired I was), my doctor came in, suited up and got her instruments ready as if he was at Universal Studios. *Note* Your delivery nurse and whoever else you have with you, such as your partner and/or doula, are the ones who are by your side from beginning to end and who ultimately get you through the worst of it all. The doctor only comes in to check your progress and when it’s time to push.

I pushed for about 30 minutes before having an episiotomy to avoid tearing and because my doctor had to use a vacuum to pull Sofia out ASAP since her heart rate had started to drop. I pushed with all my might as she pulled her out, and I didn’t care what she had to do at that point to get her out. They asked if I wanted a mirror and to help pull her out myself, but I was too tired and couldn’t think straight. I just wanted her out and didn’t care how it happened. Sofia was born at 5:03am weighing 7lbs, 1oz. and 20 in. long. As soon as she was born, they handed her over to me. We had requested to delay cord clamping and her bath because that first hour after birth which is considered “the golden hour,” is the most essential and special time with your baby. Sofia was able to wiggle onto my chest on her own and latch onto my breast immediately which made breastfeeding seamless for both of us.

So why did I choose to go unmedicated? Because the benefits of a drug-free birth and without intervention outweigh the “short” amount of time you’re in labor. We spent a lot of time researching, taking a class and gathering all the information we needed to make the decision that we thought was best for us.

I’m so thankful for the support I received from my husband and our doula(s), Leah and Robin of Blissful Births (even though there was nothing blissful about mine), our nurse, my doctors, and the hospital I delivered at that supports moms who want an unmedicated birth. I recovered rather quickly and had no negative side effects or postpartum depression. Within 2 weeks, my bleeding stopped (you can bleed up to 6 weeks after childbirth). Motrin, ice and witch-hazel pads were my saving grace the few days and couple of weeks after, and when I went in for my six week postpartum check up, I had healed completely.

Will I have another unmedicated birth? More than likely, yes. Do I think other moms should too? I think you should do what feels right to you, but I do believe that with the right mindset and support, you can and will be able get through it.

P.s. John took these photos without me knowing. He actually didn’t even tell me he took these until a month later because he felt bad taking them in the state that I was in, but thought I might want to have them. I’m so glad he took them for me!



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18 Last Minute Mother’s Day Gift Ideas That Don’t Cost Money

Hey guys. Happy Friday! In case you forgot, this Sunday is Mother’s Day and if you still need a gift for mom and wifey for their special day, I’m sharing 18 unique gift ideas that don’t cost money. You’re welcome!

1. Let her sleep in. What mom (especially new moms) wouldn’t love those extra few hours of beauty sleep? Get the older kids dressed and ready before she wakes up or if you have an infant, take care of the morning feeding so mom doesn’t have to.

2. Make her breakfast in bed or treat her to a candlelit dinner at home.

3. Surprise her with an impromptu Mother’s Day photoshoot. No need for a professional photographer. Use your iPhone and tripod if you have one, find a cute location and take some of her and the kids or ask a friend to meet you to take a couple of snaps of the entire family (we just did this last weekend).

4. Plant a little garden together in your own backyard instead of buying flowers. If you want to keep it simple, spend a couple of bucks and get a small flower pot from Home Depot, some paint color to paint the pot, a small bag of soil, some flower seeds and voila!

5. Setup a movie night at home with her favorite movie(s). Make her comfy, get a blanket, and keep the popcorn, candy and beverages flowing so she can relax.

6. Give her a mini massage or foot rub (Google how).

7. Treat her to a mini manicure. I’m sure she can totally use one now especially with not being able to go to the salon currently and you don’t need to be a professional nail tech by any means. Use a nail file to file her nails, maybe some clear nail polish and lotion to massage her delicate hands with.

8. Create a memory journal with some of your favorite memories together and add some photos inside a notebook.

9. Create photo slides through PowerPoint on your computer. You can add some tunes in the background and make it a full blown presentation. If you do want to spend the money, you can make a photo book through walgreens.com for same day pickup for typically under $25 or print out a favorite photo with her in it and frame it. Prints and photo albums can be ready within a couple of hours and both are inexpensive (there are always coupons for prints and photo gifts such as mugs, calendars, etc.)

10. Bake her cupcakes, chocolate covered strawberries or whatever her favorite dessert is. What girl doesn’t love sweets?

11. Make a 30-day coupon book/voucher that’s good for different activities she can do with you or that will take care of any of her responsibilities off her hands such as household chores (ex. one home-cooked meal, one 10 min hand massage, a day to herself, etc.)

12. Set up a treasure hunt with cute notes around the house telling her how amazing she is and/or why you love her.

13. Treat her to a mini facial.

14. Fill up a jar with quotes, favorite memories or sweet sayings that she can open each day for 30 days (or for as long as you want). One year I did that for John’s bday and filled it up for several months…🤪

15. Gift of quality time. Sometimes just spending the day or a couple of hours with your mom engaging in conversation is all she really wants and needs. Make the conversation about her and ask her to relive her favorite memories of her mom or ask her to share your birth story with you. If her mom is no longer with her, maybe visit the cemetery where her mom was laid to rest and plant some flowers at her grave together.

16. Clean the house and take care of all the chores for the week so she doesn’t have to (laundry, dishes, take out the garbage, etc.)

17. Handwash and detail her car for her and then go for a little road trip. Be her private chauffeur for a few hours.

18. Serenade her with a concert at home. Get the kids involved and put on a little show for her that she’ll never forget.

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6 Ways To Show Your Spouse Appreciation

Happy Monday and happy May! This past Friday, John and I celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary! We ordered takeout from Gibson’s Steakhouse and enjoyed a nice bottle of wine while John’s mom hung out in the other room with Sofie so we can have some alone time. #QuarantineAnniversary2020!

So now that we have 6 years of marital bliss under our belt, I thought it’d be fun to share 6 Ways To Show Your Spouse Appreciation. While I’m certainly no marriage expert, I do believe that showing your spouse gratitude can go a long way in making them feel valued and appreciated, which in turn makes for a happy and successful marriage.

1. Say “thank you” and “I love you” and say them often. “Thank you for taking the trash out.” “Thank you for picking up my dry cleaning.” “Thank you for dinner.” I believe we all have a part to do and showing gratitude for these mundane everyday tasks is important. If I cook dinner, John will clean up and I make sure to thank him for doing so, or if I do the laundry and there are clothes in the basket, he’ll fold them and put them away if I can’t get to it. Also, text your spouse in the middle of the day to let them know you’re thinking of them. I know how busy John is at work, but he still texts me throughout the day and sometimes just a quick “Hi, amore!” makes me feel loved and reminds me he’s thinking of me. I know how much he misses Sofie when he’s at work so I make sure to FaceTime him at least once every day so he can see her or I send him photos. If you don’t already say “I love you” every morning before work and every night before bed, start now! It’s a good habit to get into.

2. Have their back. Life has its challenges and having a partner you can count on to stand by your side through thick and thin is a sure way to make your spouse feel loved and appreciated. There have been a couple of instances where I wasn’t there to defend myself when someone was speaking negatively about me, and John stood up for me and defended me when I couldn’t defend myself. There’s no better way to show you’re a united front than when a spouse stands up for you to others. If you don’t show that you value and respect your spouse or your relationship, others won’t either.

3. Compliment their appearance. Tell your wife she looks beautiful in that new dress she bought. Tell your hubby you love his new hair cut. If you know your spouse or significant other has been working out and trying to lose weight, stroke their ego a bit and give them a confidence boost by letting them know you can see their muscles! Complimenting your spouse is one way to let them know you notice them and is a sweet gesture to make them feel appreciated.

4. Acknowledge their efforts and praise them in private and public. I’ve often seen and heard spouses calling their friends to complain or vent about their spouse when something isn’t going well in their relationship. Instead of focusing on the negative, be proud of your spouse and let your friends and family know just how amazing they are. Go ahead and share it on social media every once in a while. Whether they’re a SAH (stay-at- home) parent taking care of the kids or running a business, remind them they’re doing an amazing job. John has told me in person or sent me text messages on several occasions telling me I’m doing a great job as a mom, and that really means a lot to me. I also know how hard John works so I do my best to tell him how awesome he is at what he does, and we both totally feel appreciated when we do that.

5. Support their passions and hobbies. If your spouse loves going to concerts or sporting events, surprise them with tickets and go with them. Even if it’s not your cup of a tea, spending some time doing what they love and what’s important to them is a sure way to make your spouse happy. For instance, John is a big golfer so I’ve gone to the driving range with him or walked the course with him as he played a round of 9 holes just to keep him company. One of my hobbies is my blog and I know how appreciative I am when John takes my photos for me or reads my blog posts.

6. Listen. We all know that communication is key for a lasting relationship. When your spouse is talking and telling you about their day, put your phone away, turn off the TV and engage in conversation. It’s easy to get distracted and there’s nothing more insulting than when someone’s trying to talk to you and you’re not paying attention.

Leave a comment below and tell me some ways you feel appreciated or show your spouse you love and appreciate them! Also, make sure to check out last year’s post on 5 Ways to Celebrate Your Wedding Anniversary.

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14 Tips For An Organized Closet

Happy Wednesday! I hope you’re having a great week. Have any of you begun spring cleaning? I’ve been trying to tidy up and declutter in my spare time, usually in between Sofie’s naps or in the evenings when John is home. I just reorganized and swapped out my closet for spring and summer as we speak. Maintaining an organized closet is an ongoing process (because updating your wardrobe is an ongoing process) and I tend to reorganize and update my closet seasonally.

A couple of weeks ago, I shared 10 Simple Ways To Keep Your Shoes Organized and promised to share ways to organize different parts of your home over the coming weeks, so today I’m sharing 14 tips for an organized closet!

1. First and foremost, completely empty and clear out your closet. You’ll have a better visual of the space you have to work with.

2. Abide by the one year rule. If you haven’t worn it, toss it. No need to hold on to those pants that are several sizes too big or too small that you haven’t worn in years. More than likely, you probably never will. You can donate gently used pieces to friends and family or to a local shelter and sell your more valuable pieces that you might have a harder time parting with on sites like Poshmark or eBay.

3. Invest in matching hangers for a sleek and cohesive look and toss those mismatched wire and plastic hangers that can make your closet look cluttered. I currently use these white wooden hangers from IKEA or The Container Store which take up a little more space and aren’t as ideal for some pieces that might slip off, but they make my closet look more polished. If you want to save space, use slim velvet hangers or these acrylic hangers.

4. Store your clothes by category and keep like items with like items (sweaters, jackets, dresses, jeans, etc).

5. Separate your clothes by color. I typically go from left to right and from white to dark. You can color code bright colors like the colors of rainbow (ROYGBIV) or what looks most appealing to you.

6. Hang your clothes in the same direction. I always have the front of my shirts facing left.

7. Keep clothes that you wear most often front and center at eye level, and store pieces that you don’t wear as often in the back of your closet or in storage boxes. I currently have my bulky winter sweaters, evening and vacation dresses in the back of my closet or in clear boxes on the top shelves.

8. If you don’t have extra hanging space in your closet, you can fold jeans and sweaters on shelves and save hanging space for your nicer and delicate pieces that wrinkle easily (silk shirts, dress pants, suits, button ups, etc.).

9. If you have drawer space, you can fold your tanks, t-shirts, leggings and workout gear along with your under garments. I use the KonMari folding method to save space in my drawers.

10. Use drawer organizers to keep your drawers tidy which also allows for more space.

11. Swap out clothes for the season if you don’t have a huge closet and use storage boxes or baskets. Our spare bedroom turned closet is now half closet, half nursery so I’ve had to move things around and make more room.

12. Use hooks for belts, scarves, hats or purses. You can use an over the door rack, a wall mounted rack or even command hooks work well.

13. Use shelf dividers.

14. Make use of the dead space and vertical space in your closet to your advantage. As I mentioned above, I have my vacation dresses and winter sweaters in the back and I use all the top shelves to the ceiling for storage.

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Sofia’s 3 Month Update

Hi, all! I hope you’re doing well, staying sane and keeping healthy while practicing your social distance. Some days are definitely harder than others especially when you can’t even visit with your own family. Yesterday we drove around and stopped by both of our families’ homes for “window” and “drive-by” visits. It’s not the way we imagined our visits would be, but it’ll have to do for now. John and I are both extroverts (I’m more so of an ambivert) so we do miss socializing, but we’re so thankful to have Sofia who keeps us entertained and on our toes! Also, thank goodness for FaceTime, text messaging and social media which helps us keep in touch with our nearest and dearest. I have a couple of group texts going with my girlfriends which make for lighthearted and funny conversations during a not so fun time.

Anywho, Sofia turned 3 months old yesterday! She’s getting so big already and I guess that saying, “The nights are long, but the years are short,” definitely rings true. The last update I shared with all of you was at 3 weeks. Quite a bit has changed since then so I wanted to fill you all in!

I was supposed to go back to work at the end of March, but I had reached out to my employer and decided to extend my maternity leave through end of April because I just wasn’t ready to leave Sofia behind (not sure if I ever will be to be honest). However, with everything that’s going on with COVID-19, my office has been temporarily closed since March 16 and everyone is working remotely until May 1, so we’ll see what happens over the next few weeks.

I’m exclusively breastfeeding and plan to do so all through her first year which plays a big part in not being able to leave her yet. I do pump and let her drink out of a bottle a couple of times a week which allows for John to feed her in the evenings and weekends (or grandma when she was able to come over and hang out with us). John and I have gone on one date night since Sofie was born and it was the week after my birthday in February. It’ll be nice to get out, just the two of us, once this quarantine is over and I’m sure grandma Ro is counting down the days to be able to watch her again. Speaking of which, I had my first glass of wine on my birthday after being 10 months sober and I now look forward to enjoying my one glass (or two) Every. Friday. Night. 🙂

I’m pleased to say that Sofia is very happy, healthy and thriving. She lights up our world and has brought so much joy into our lives that I don’t even know how we ever lived without her. She’s super sweet and affectionate and loves giving kisses, just as much as she loves receiving them. She’s always smiling and cheerful (although she definitely has her moments), loves looking at her own reflection in the mirror and enjoys FaceTime with her family. She puts together vowels and consonants, is a pro at tummy time and can roll over onto her back. She still sleeps in our room and will probably stay in our room until she’s six months or so. She can go 3-4 hour stretches these days and has somewhat of a schedule which consists of going to bed between 9–10pm, getting up once (sometimes twice) in the middle of the night to nurse, and then typically starts her day around 7am. We’ve tried putting her in her crib during nap time to slowly transition her to the other room, but she’s not ready to be alone yet and prefers napping on mom and dad’s bed. And as much as she loves her daddy (from whom she gets her stunning good looks), it’s safe to say that for the moment, she’s a mommy’s girl.

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1 month old

2 months old

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