Almost every day in my final trimester of pregnancy I scoured online blogs that gave tips for how to prepare for Baby's arrival. The articles ranged from "How to you know you're in labor" to "What to pack in your hospital bag" to "10 most underrated items to ask for on your baby registry".
Now that I have successfully conquered labor and delivery and have had a few weeks with my baby girl, I want to create my own lists (based on my experience) of must-haves and helpful tricks for both mama and baby. Maybe some new mom will find this helpful, but honestly I think it will be nice for me to refer back to these lists once I get pregnant again (which will not be for a while).
Hospital packing lists
My sister-in-law is pregnant with her first child right now. Just a few weeks after having Grace, she sent me a text and asked, "What are the things you couldn't live without?" So here is the list I sent her of my must-haves for my brand new baby.
Take it for what it's worth
So those are a few of my lists. Take 'em or leave 'em. Tweak them to your own style and experience. I know that for me, at least, these lists will be helpful reminders for the future.
Becoming a Parent
For 3 weeks, now, our Gracie girl has had us wrapped around her little finger. Andrew and I are so smitten with her.
We love her squishy, chubby cheeks.
We love her dark hair and big, expressive eyes.
We love getting to know her spunky personality.
Like the way she fights being swaddled but then not-so-secretly loves it once she is all wrapped up in what we affectionately call a "Gracie-burrito".
Or the way she smacks her lips after being fed, as if to say, "Yum, Mom, that was especially tasty." Then the milk coma hits and she sleeps for the next few hours, nestled into our arms or chest.
The way her face scrunches into an angry pout when we try to wash her face. But then her whole body relaxes when we wash her hair. She LOVES having us brush or massage her head.
We love the way she looks up at us as we hold her close, and in that sweet gaze I hope and pray that she can feel all the love we have for her.
Now, only a few weeks into this whole parenthood thing, we can't imagine life without our baby girl. Yes, we have already experienced some less-than-stellar moments that have left us wondering What have we gotten ourselves into!? Nights are tough, especially now that Andrew has returned to work. The poopy diaper explosions have been enlightening. (Who knew all the crazy places watery baby poop could get into, including all the tiny crevices of the baby car seat and into the fibers of the living room carpet!?!?) And in just the last few days, Grace has been plagued with gas, and she squirms in fussy frustration. There have definitely been some tough moments.
But when friends ask us, "What is the best or most surprising thing about parenthood?", both Andrew and I have the same response: We are shocked by how much we automatically and naturally love this baby girl and would do anything for her. The love is really all encompassing, and it helps us understand a small portion of the love God must feel for all his children.
It is strange becoming a parent. In some indescribable way, your heart suddenly adores this little human who just arrived into your life. I saw this cartoon in one of my baby how-to books. It had a pregnant woman talking to a fortune teller. The fortune teller said, "You will soon fall head over heels in love with a fat, bald, toothless stranger who poops in his pants and can't speak a word of English." The woman in response said, "You must be kidding!" Seriously, I loved this cartoon because it was so spot on.
So here is to a lifetime of love for this beautiful little girl! I am so honored to be her mother and to love her this much.
Gracie's Grand Arrival
I started feeling contractions at about 1:20am on May 17. I woke up and figured I just had to go to the bathroom (like every other pregnant woman in the third trimester), but 12 minutes later...and then 10 minutes after that...and then about 8 minutes after that, I started to think that maybe these were more than just upset stomach pains. At 2:10ish, I suspected that my body was trying to tell me something, so I woke Andrew up.
"Andrew, honey," I cooed sweetly and I rubbed his back to gently wake him from his peaceful slumber. "Hun, I don't know for sure that these are contractions, but I feel like we should probably go to the hospital."
"Really?" he asked groggily. He stretched and started getting up from the bed.
....but about 2 minutes later, all the sweetness in me was all dried up, and the contractions caused sassy-Maichael to emerge.
"Ok, hun, you have got to MOVE FASTER!" I paced back and forth in our room as the contractions continued to get stronger. "Seriously, let's go!"
"But I need to use the restroom."
"Nope," I exclaimed, "you can use one at the hospital." I grabbed my pillow and left the room, making sure Andrew was close behind me with our hospital bags.
I think both Andrew and I were especially grateful that night that the hospital was so close, only about a 5 minute drive from our house. We parked and I waddled inside. The nurse was very kind, but my contractions were already pretty intense and only about 3 minutes apart by the time we got to the hospital. Since pacing was my go-to strategy for handling the pain, I hated having to lay on the bed and have the sensors strapped to my belly to check the contractions. Still, it was a relief when the nurse confirmed, "Yup, you're in labor. You are dilated to a 4, and your doctor has just given you the go-ahead to stay in the hospital until you deliver." We moved to our official delivery room and immediately called for an epidural (PS: best decision EVER!).
After the epidural (which came at around 3:45ish), it was pretty smooth sailing for a while. Andrew went back to the car to get our things, and I called my mom in California to tell her to get on the next flight to Utah.
I was expecting a long labor. In fact, Andrew and I had prepared for a long labor by downloading multiple movies onto the iPad and bringing face cards to entertain us. But Grace was anxious to meet us. It seemed like no time before the nurse came in and started instructing me on how to push. We pushed for a little over an hour, and then they called in my doctor to help deliver baby Grace.
She popped out at 9:46am. I cried as they laid her on my chest and started wiping her down. She is such a beautiful baby, and I was awestruck that she really was mine.
I looked up at Andrew and smiled," Wow, that was a really cool experience." I found labor and delivery to be so special; a sacred moment for Andrew and I to work together to finally bring our baby into this world. Holding Grace for the first time was magical. I hope to never forget that feeling.
Andrew and Maichael
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