Labor of Love…

FelixBirthSP-3IMG_6246 copyIMG_6248 copyFelixBirthSPFelixBirthSP-14FelixBirthSP-13FelixBirthSP-11FelixBirthSP-9FelixBirthSP-8FelixBirthSP-7FelixBirthSP-5FelixBirthSP-4 copy 2FelixBirthSP-2So I’m just gonna say it, I’m birth obsessed. I love watching births, reading about births, yes yes YES. I love it. I follow dozens of birth photographers on Instagram and I can only say that I am in love with birth. So much so that I truly believe one day I will become a doula… What a difference a few years makes… So maybe you are equally birth obsessed or maybe you couldn’t care less, but I’m gonna tell my story for anyone who wants to hear it. I promise, it’s pretty entertaining.

I was really unsure how to approach writing this post… I think labor is literally the most beautiful thing on the planet and I had many different, more serious versions of this post in the works, but what it really came down to was that my labor was NOTHING like my first and on top of that, nothing like how I envisioned it. Seriously, it was so far from my plan of “silent and calm” that we just had to laugh because it still ended with the most wonderful gift. Now on to the good stuff.

I was having just a terrible night’s sleep, up to pee ever hour or so and feeling crampy. Nothing alarming, but bleh nonetheless.

[4am] Cramps [Pain Level] .0025

So at 4 I woke up with more intense cramping. My mind started to race. My inner dialogue sounded a bit like this, “Noooooo… No way… Impossible… Definitely Not… Go back to sleep.” There would be no sleep in my immediate, or distant, future.

[5:30am] Consistent Mild Contractions [Pain Level] .050

I was still in a pretty good state of denial when, apologies for the frankness, the poops arrived. I started to have to get up to use the bathroom every 15 – 20 minutes. I knew what was happening, but still hadn’t had any major signs that it was labor, no water breaking, no bloody show… I still thought that there was a possibility it would stop. I decided to time my contractions before I alarmed The Captain or my Midwife, Jenny. Sure enough every 5-10 minutes I had a contraction. I woke up The Captain and asked him what I should do. We decided to text Jenny and get her opinion. I should note, I LOVE my midwife… like, LOVE HER, LOVE HER. I am so grateful we found her during the move. I can’t stress how amazing it is to have a caretaker who’s completely and utterly on your side. LOVE.

[6:45am] Regular Mild Contractions + Poo [Pain Level] .25

Jenny suggested that we give it 30 minutes and see, then meet at the hospital to get checked, she would be in her office at 8:15. So I continued to time the contractions which at this point were like dull period cramps. We called in our babysitting squad to watch Mohawk who was still fast asleep. I showered. Shaved my legs. Put on some makeup. Felt super cute. Our savior, Regen, showed up shortly after. Leaving the house was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done… Saying “I love you” and hugging my son, for possibly the last time as my only child, choked hard in my throat. I didn’t want to put him down. Cue tears.

[8:45] Regular Moderate Contractions + less than 2cm dilated [Pain Level] .75

I continued having contractions while we drove. Once to the hospital, they got us into a triage room where they monitored and checked me. I was barely 2 cm and while my cervix was in the right position I was only 70% effaced. Same as I had been two weeks prior at my visit. Talk about disappointed. But I was indeed having consistent contractions. So I was sentenced to walk. And walk. And walk. I was monitored again and they sent to walk yet again. The Captain and I just strolled the unit floor, held hands, laughed… Now that I’m reflecting on the day, I’m so glad we had this time.

[12:30pm] Regular Contractions + 2.5cm dilated [Pain Level] 4

Around 12:30 I was checked again. This time 2.5 cm. I was epically bummed. My contractions were pretty uncomfortable, but manageable. So I just couldn’t believe that things were moving so slowly, but I was trying to remain positive and praising The Lord for each contraction because it was bringing me closer to meeting my boy. By this time I was joined by Doula Amber who was helping me through contractions and giving me my options of what I could ask, etc. She was absolutely instrumental in keeping both of us calm and relaxed throughout the day. I talked to Jenny from her office and she suggested going to walk the mall or grabbing a light lunch, but because of our drive she would prefer we didn’t go all the way home. I wanted bread and there was a Panera at the mall. Sure. I’d try it. So The Captain, Amber, and I made our way to the mall… Yes, the mall.

FullSizeRenderFullSizeRender_1yes, you are seeing this right… 

[1:15pm] Active Labor [Pain Level] 5-8

We arrived to Cordova Mall around 1pm. I made my way to the Panera bathroom where my contractions took a big leap in intensity. I scared an employee half to death, but assured her I wouldn’t deliver my baby on the bathroom floor. We headed next to Victoria’s Secret because I had not packed undies, nor even wore them to the hospital [they were super unnecessary last time, oops] and if my water broke we didn’t want to leave a puddle. So picture it, if you can, mama swaying back-n-forth picking out undies and eating bread while having pretty intense active labor pains. I made The Captain take pics because, ya know, you can’t make this shit up. With undies in hand we started walking towards a department store and the restrooms. This walk seemed to take 10 years. By time I had my new skivvies on I was certain I was going to give birth in the mall bathroom. I informed my crew that I had to get the hell out of there. As we made our way out, Amber mentioned trying out a reflexology massage place near our exit. Couldn’t hurt to try, right?! So for 20 minutes a lovely Chinese woman rubbed my legs. She was very concerned about my due date and assured me she could help. Well, for the first half I swear I was in heaven. I didn’t have any contractions for nearly 10 minutes. But then they started back… Oh Lord, did they start back.

So we paid and on the way out to the parking lot every contraction was just as intense. I was moaning and thrashing in the mall parking lot. The car ride back to the hospital was the worst. I started feeling like I was going to throw up and somehow just kept thinking about how badly I wanted to hold Mohawk. I was realizing that never again would I only have my first baby. I couldn’t control the tears. Full blown ugly crying. I continued to bawl, dry heave, and painfully contract. The combo of the 3 made for a dramatic hospital parking lot show. Amber got me a wheelchair and we proceeded to make our way to labor and delivery.

[2:45pm] Intense Active Labor + 9cm dilated with bulging bag of waters [Pain Level] 9.

When we arrived at the nurses’ desk the women looked concerned and in a tone I didn’t appreciate said, “well honey, we are gonna have to find ya a room.” I remember smiling at her and thinking, “bitch, I will cut you.” That’s possibly the only negative thing I could say about my entire hospital labor. Luckily. They had saved me a room. So by 3:15 I was in my room. A nurse checked me and things had changed dramatically, she put in a call to Jenny immediately. I had dilated 7.5cm during my time at the mall. The Captain was so amazing, putting my chapstick on, rubbing my back, making all kinds of funny sounds with me… Having him home and there was just amazing. so for roughly 30 minutes, I labored in the quite, peaceful room.

[3:45pm] Pushing [Pain Level] 10.

Jenny arrived and after remarking, that she knew I was going to pull this kinda move, she said “let’s push and meet your baby!” Ummm come again?! She just got there. Shouldn’t she buy me a drink first?! I began pushing on my side. I had the most amazing group of women, Jenny, Amber, amazing nurses, and most importantly, The Captain, cheering me on. But let me just say it, the side push wasn’t registering with me. I was not understanding or connecting the pushing, but to my excitement Felix was still in his bag of waters. So my dream of an en caul birth was nearly realized and the side push is apparently more gentle on baby and mama, but it was NOT working. I ended up scooting on my back and with 2 pushes to go, my water broke.

[4pm-ish] Water Breaks [Pain level] 7 hundred million billion.

But I just absorbed that pain and used it to power my final 2 pushes.

[4:05pm] Baby Felix is born [Pain Level] Non-existent due to state of oxytocin induced euphoria.

And like that, I had a baby. Praise The Lord! After 8 hours of early labor. 3.5 of active labor. And 20 some odd minutes of pushing. Baby Felix was born with zero interventions, not even so much as a heplock or monitor. He was placed immediately on my chest and we all had a good cry!! I still cannot believe he’s here. Even staring at him right now. I just can’t believe. Already a one upper, he was 11 days early, beating out Mohawk’s 10 days early record…

I’m so grateful for everyone that helped welcome F-guy earth side. It wasn’t what I was planning, but it was beautiful none the less. Happy Birthday Felix!!

+A huge thanks to Ashley of Against the Grain Photography for our amazing photos!+

Nursery Rhymes

FelixNursery-3FelixNursery-4FelixNursery-5FelixNursery-6FelixNursery-9FelixNursery-12FelixNursery-13FelixNursery-14FelixNursery-15FelixNursery-16FelixNursery-17FelixNursery-21FelixNursery-22FelixNursery-24FelixNursery-25FelixNursery-26FelixNursery-27FelixNursery-29images via Against the Grain Photography

Despite the fact that it won’t be used for at least 3 or 4 months, decorating and finishing the nursery was important to me… Mostly because I knew it would never get done if we didn’t finish or mostly finish the room before Felix’s arrival. #FACT The desire to decorate decreases 2 billion percent once you are sleep deprived and covered in poo and breastmilk. So with a month or so to go, The Captain and I threw it into high gear and decorated the room from the comfort of our sofa whilest watching Justified [our latest tv obsession]. Excited to share some of my online finds with you.

[Sucre Dreamers] I found Hannah’s shop back when I first found out I was pregnant!! I was in LOVE with her sweet mobiles! This was the first piece I bought for the room after finding out we were having another boy. The custom colors were the jumping off point for the rest of the room. I love love love her AND her shop. I want felt garland ERRY WHERE!

[Bright Lab Lights] OBSESSED with these lights. I knew I was going to get these for the nursery the first time I ever laid eyes on them! With tons of colors to pick from, you can literally spend hours working out the perfect strand!!

[Aspen and Oak] Love Shelli and her adorbs shop! Had her whip up this custom “explore” banner a few weeks ago and I love it!!! I can’t wait to buy more goodies for the boys rooms!

[Watercolor Journey] We bought Baby Burrito a Rhino from the San Diego Zoo before moved and I absolutely HAD to use it in the room. I found this shop and fell in love the baby rhino print! I purchased a driftwood frame and had a stunning textured mat designed. Boom. Easy art work that looks custom and like a million bucks, all for about 55 dollars.

[Mini Learners] Adorable prints. Great Prices.

[Amy West Designs] [Oja Design] not pictured More great prints at killer prices.

[crib] ikea [sheets] land of nod [rocker] nurseryworks sleepytime rocker [animal knobs] anthropologie [zebra head] target

I’m in love with this chill little room, I’m excited to see how the space evolves as Mister F grows and acquires toys and books, etc. He and Mohawk are gonna have major fun times in here!

Evolution of the Diaper Bag

chicdiaperbags.0011.Fjallraven Kanken Daypack  2. JEM + BEA | Amber 3. Hatch | The [anti] Diaper Bag 4. Marc Jacobs | Biker Baby Bag 5. Lily Jade | Madeline 6. Rebecca Minkoff | Knocked Up Diaper Bag 7. Fawn Design 8. Petunia Pickle Bottom | Boxy Backpack

So here’s the thing. When I first had Roc, I never carried a diaper bag. I personally didn’t find it necessary to carry anything more than my regular purse. Armed with a single diaper, a small pack of wipes, and some burp cloths I was good to go. I always had a bigger bag in the trunk of my car with more diapers, wipes, and a change of clothes as a back up! Now as Mister got bigger it became painfully obvious that I needed something more. Snack pouches, diapers, toys, more snacks, and more toys… Sound familiar!? My purse was becoming a disaster and I found that I was having a hard time finding my wallet, keys, and phone amongst the wreckage.

Enter Fawn Design. OBSESSED. Shoulder bags are not really my thing for all the time, they are heavy and start to hurt. So when I found this adorable company based out of Utah that made the chicest shoulder/backpack everyday bags, I realized the world has come a long way from the traditional, cutesy bags of the past.blissfulfarewell3iblissfulfarewell2kPhotos via Kelsey Erin Photography

So this bag is sort of perfect for my style, no!? I love all the pockets and the fact that it lays flat when you set it down so you can really see inside. Pockets!! Oh yes, all the pockets. This is the main difference, from purchasing a diaper bag vs a big purse. Having a spot for everything really makes life more organized. For me more organized = less scatterbrained = very happy momma!

I’ve found just a few bags that definitely go above and beyond in style and quality. Rest assured there is a bag for every kind of mom: sporty spice, posh spice, boho rock star spice [that’d be me if I was a spice girl]. There is a whole world of chic bags out there and one is bound to fit your vibe.

What kind of diaper bag do you carry? Any listed here? Tell me, Tell me!!!

My Identity and Motherhood

IMG_0560[So grateful to have a lovely guest post written by childhood friend and fellow mommy blogger Kristen of Oy! Kristen. She’s a genius. I love her. You will to.] 

I swear I am still eighteen. Living in the moment, messy hair, driving my mom’s convertible around town and dreaming about the future. Dreaming about traveling to Europe, dreaming about what college will be like, dreaming about the possibility of marriage and eek – maybe even babies one day. But above all else, eighteen is for dreaming. And I still feel eighteen.

The thing is. I’m not.

I am twenty-eight, living in my hometown (how did I end up back here??), married, with a baby. The past ten years have been a total surprise, and a total relief. I have seen so many dreams come true. I have backpacked across Europe, married my dream mate, finished my degree, lived exciting stints in New York and Boston, completed ministry school, pursued creative career endeavors of all kinds (Acting? Check. Voiceover? Check. Writing? You’re looking at it, checkedy check.) I have lived fully and I am proud of these elements that have been the building blocks of my young life. I’ve tried some hard things. I’ve boldly put myself out there in the world when I was actually feeling super scared and unsure in my heart. And I’ve seen success, although it never looks like how I thought it might. While success and accomplishment feel really good, putting myself in vulnerable positions over time has taught me to remain confident even through the toughest scenarios. For instance, the time I auditioned a monologue for one of New York’s biggest casting directors. There was some sweat involved in that one, especially while I waited in silence for, no lie, about 60 seconds after I was finished to hear his response. I left the room and felt relieved, shocked, and excited. Proud of myself. I didn’t get the job, but I did get the sense that by just opening myself up to that audition, I was doing something hard, something that would knock most people off their feet. And that pride really informed my journey. Until I really got knocked off my feet. By doing something many of you have probably done. I had my first baby.

IMG_0732My son is a wonder. His sunny hair and sweet eyes and easy smile, they have wholly captured me, heart and soul. There is nothing better in this world than holding him close when he just wakes up, feeling him snuggle into me a bit, and smelling his deliciousness. There is nothing better. He’s given me the gift of motherhood, awakened me to a whole other element of what it is to be a woman. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for his precious life.

I am also really really tired.

Because my son is 19 months old now. Toddling around, far too curious about toilets, demanding lots of waffles. The past 19 months (plus 9 months, because pregnancy was definitely apart of the equation) have been exhausting, maddening, and constantly marked by this feeling of , “I don’t know what I’m doing!” Of course you don’t know anything when you’re pregnant. And when you’re in labor, you have no idea what you’re supposed to be doing. Then the child comes out and needs all sorts of everything all the time, and you’re like, “wait, is there a hand book on what I’m supposed to be doing? Get me a hand book!” And then they get bigger and when you’ve mastered their previous milestone and finally feel a millisecond of calm and “I’ve got this”, everything changes again. Like everything. Big things like when they sleep and what they eat. It’s kind of like being in the Hunger Games, trying to figure out where the next freaky phenomenon is coming from and when. Phrases like “reverse sleep cycling” and “what to do if…” fill your google searches, usually at about 3am. And while all of this is going on, you forget to do things like.

Put on makeup.
Wear normal clothes.
Wear anything pretty.
Wear anything clean.
Perhaps brush your teeth. Or your hair.

IMG_0724Go back to work? Sure, tons of people do it. But things are never the same. It’s like your brain has been snatched my aliens and you’re walking and talking and acting human, but your insides are aching for what things were like before the baby came. And it’s not the baby’s fault. But the sense of identity has vanished. It’s hard to decipher who you are anymore. You define yourself by the monotonous tasks that you do, day in and day out. So many diapers. SO many. And the schedule feels like a cage and your dreams seem like a faraway fantasy. That 18-year-old feeling that you identified with still rings true. But that 18-year-old suddenly seems very tired. And only interested in eating dinner while watching Netflix and then going to bed.

I want to propose to you that you’re not supposed to be an 18-year-old dreamer anymore. And neither am I. I’m not supposed to long for the simpler days of the past. It’s time to be the 28-year-old dreamer that I am. Dreamer and mother and lover of life. Because this gift of motherhood, while it defines me in so many ways, it shouldn’t be defining. And the urge to dream up new dreams and look forward to the future? It’s evergreen. Always emerging, in every season of life. I just have to stop longing for the old things to reemerge, I must seek out the new blooms, and recognize the season that I’m in. It’s time to be my 28-year-old self, imperfect and yes, rather tired, and own up to the joy that it is to be a tired mommy while still having a very bright, unencumbered future laced with extraordinary opportunities. This vocation of motherhood doesn’t define my life, it informs my life. I am lovelier for the child that I’ve had. And I will become lovelier still. And if you identify with any of the spazziness that I described, I promise that the greatest is still ahead of you, too.

Photography by Leidy Beltran of Venture Life Photography. You can find more about Kristen at

Women Who Rock

e photo1Today I am just over the moon because I LOVE December’s woman who rocks!!!! Estela from Weekly Bite is a genius dietician, successful blogger, fabulous mommy, and I’m so delighted to call her my friend. She effortlessly (or so it seems) balances kiddos, work, and life while always keeping a balanced diet with an emphasis on healthy whole foods and moderation! She is the real deal when it comes to expert nutrition advice, plus she’s a total babe! Hope you enjoy her interview!

Hey superwoman, how do you balance work, kids, husband, exercise and stay sane? Balance is something I work at every day (some days are way easier then others). What keeps me sane is exercise. I make it a priority to schedule exercise somewhere in my day, whether it be running, yoga, or an exercise DVD. If I can’t find “me” time to exercise, I load the kids up in the jogging stroller (which is often) and pound my stress away on the pavement.

As for work, since I work from home I feel like I am working all day. Having two kids makes it a little challenging, but now that they are in school I am able to focus more on work before their pick-up time. When it comes to making time for my husband, I make it a personal rule to shut off the computer at 8pm. Since the kid’s are in bed by that time, it gives us a chance to catch up on our day and keep that line of communication open which is super important for couples. We also try to schedule date nights every couple of weeks :)

What’s your personal food philosophy? Eat when you are hungry and stop when you are satisfied! Try to make healthy choices most of the time, but never deprive yourself of foods you love. One of the hardest things to do is tune into our bodies and listen when it tell us it needs food. Try to avoid the emotional eating rut. When we start eating consistently for reasons other than hunger (like boredom, loneliness, or stress), that’s when the excess weight arrives.

Is there a common mistake you notice when people are trying to loose weight or eat healthier? Losing weight & becoming healthier is a lifestyle change, not a quick fix. In order to keep weight off permanently, focusing on a healthy lifestyle change, rather than a diet is key. Take a mini assessment of your life and find little things you can change one at a time. Slow and steady should be the motto when it comes to weight loss. We can still enjoy the foods we love, but in moderation.

Is there a secret to getting kids to love healthy food? I get this question all the time from parents. There really is no secret. As parents, we serve as role models for our kids. We need to be the eater we want our kids be. As parents, it’s our job to decide when and what our kids eat. It is up to the kids to decide how much they will eat. The key is to never give up. It can take up to five introductions of a food before the child actually tastes it. I never force my kids to eat everything on their plate. I do encourage them to taste it, and I always make sure to have at least one food on their plate I know they like. We also do a lot of “tummy talk” when we are eating. It’s a way of getting kids to learn about listen to their hunger (tummy) cues.

Spill it, what’s your fave junk food?  This is embarrassing, but I’m going to have to say ‘Flaming Hot Cheetos’. I know they are super unhealthy (some might even say they’re gross), but I think they are yummy! I don’t eat them often, but if they are around I enjoy them in moderation :)