The 8 Thing's I'd Never Do

So let's get real. We've probably all made that mental list of things that are deal breakers in life, things you'd never resort to, maybe even with a slight hint of superiority. We make that list just to tear it up as we move past our expectations and into reality.  In my case I want to share just a few of my "never's" I've had to scratch off the list as it applies to pregnancy and motherhood(so far). 

1. I'd never eat junk food or lots of carbs and sugar while pregnant.  In fact maybe I'll go full paleo and cut out sugar completely.

Reality: Can I have pancakes and waffles three meals a day? Ice cream for desert after my pancakes? Yes please!  And, hey Ryan I know I just ate this entire footlong but are you gonna finish that and can we bake cookies when we get home?

2. Even if my midwife says it's technically safe for pregnancy, I'd never take anything other than natural herbs and supplements for my own comfort.

Reality:  It's 3am, I have to get up for work in a few hours but I can't even lay down without stomach acid burning its way up my esophagus and into my mouth. Oh hey Pepcid!

3. There's no way I'd give birth on my back in a hospital bed.

Reality: Even though I labored mostly in the tub, shit happens. I had to be transferred to the hospital at the last minute and I gave birth right where they put me(like two EMT's and a nurse physically lifting me off a stretcher and onto a bed between pushes)and definitely did not care to get up and change positions while pushing a baby out of me.  And guess what? It worked just fine with only a few pushes!

4. I'd never use disposable diapers. It's cloth diapering for us.

Reality: HAHAHAHA!!!! Ain't nobody got time for that. 

5. I'd never use a pacie.

Reality: Oh, you want my boob in your mouth 24/7? Let's not.

6. I'd never give my newborn any medications. Breastmilk is all he needs for perfect health and I'll just adjust my own diet if needed.

Reality: OMG he won't stop crying and is throwing up everything he eats!!!!  There will be a prescription for Zantac at walgreens in 30 mins? Done!(still trying to figure out a better solution though)

7. I'd never buy a ton of stupid plastic toys and baby gear. Let's stick to wooden things and organic cotton.

Reality: Oh, that costs six hundred times more? K, nevermind.

8. I'd never use electronic things and "screens" to pacify my baby.

Reality: It's 2am and he's been screaming since 7pm. "Oh, look at the pretty lights and colors!"

Of course these are all still ideals and goals I want to work towards. The point is, let's not pass judgement on anyone for doing what they've got to do to get through each day. And let's never say never. I'm sure this will be a running list. What are some things you thought you'd never do?

Arlo's Birth Part 2: Postpartum Shenanigans!


WARING: Stop here if you don't want to read all the gory details because I'm not holding back! lol

Sweet Arlo was born at 1:08 Wednesday morning, November 22nd.  We felt such relief and were so ready to just hang out and get to know our new baby.  Of course a few things still had to be dealt with, which was expected.  First of all, I still had to deliver the placenta.  After 24 hours of contractions the last thing I wanted was a nurse pressing on my sore belly to try to get this thing out, but it was over soon enough.  Then there were the stitches.  They took Arlo to get weighed and measured while they cleaned me up and stitched the small tears I did have.  Again, nothing in comparison to the pain I'd just been through, but not super fun.  I was ready to be left alone already!

After that our parents got to come in and meet Arlo.  I was so happy to have them there.  Sometimes all you want is a good hug from Mom and Dad!  They were obviously super tired too so after a quick visit they headed back to my house so we could all get some sleep.  During that time I started to get concerned because I was still in pain.  The pressure and the uncontrollable shaking I'd felt during labor had not gone away entirely yet.  Was it possible it was even slowly getting worse again?  I mentioned this to the nurses and they advised to go to the bathroom and try to pee.  That was probably causing some pressure.  They helped me to the bathroom but peeing was not happening.  In fact it was excruciation just to sit on the toilet.  I felt so much pressure building when I sat it was unbearable.  Still convinced I needed to pee, they got me back in bed and put in an in and out catheter.  That was very successful but still, the pressure was building.  I felt like I was going to throw up so they gave me a zofran.  That helped with the nausea, but the pain was getting worse.  They finally gave me a dose of ibuprofen to take.  They said to wait about 30 minutes for it to kick in and I'd feel much better.

30 minutes passed and the pain and pressure was worse.  They met my concerns and tears with a attempts at comfort. "Oh honey I know, I've had a baby too.  There can be a lot of lingering soreness."  This was not soreness.  I was starting to wonder if there was a second baby getting ready to come out because the pressure was so intense, just like when he was getting very low in the birth canal.  At this point they gave me a tylenol and told me again to wait 30 minutes, but in the meantime we had to move to our room in the postpartum area.  They pulled up a wheelchair but there's no way I could sit.  The pressure and pain between my legs was too much.  Walking didn't seem very possible but I did my best.  That long trek through the hospital halls was terrible.  Barely dressed, trying to walk in some kind of wide legged squat position on my jello legs, holding myself up by my IV pole, and literally holding onto my bottom with the other hand for fear something was about to fall out!  Ryan pushed Arlo ahead of me, slowly so that I could keep up.

By the time we were settled in our new room I was loosing it.  I begged for something stronger to take away the pain.  Since I was not technically a patient at Vanderbilt they had to contact my primary care providers for permission to give me anything else.  So we waited again.  While we waited a nurse suggested a sitz bath. Yes!  I love baths!  I imagined my tub at baby+co where I labored.  Oh to be back in that tub and at least somewhat comfortable.  Well a sitz bath means you sit on the toilet(again, super painful) while a nurse tries unsuccessfully to squirt warm water on your butt for 30 seconds.  NOT HELPING! Finally I had approval for more meds.  This time it was a prescription strength pain medicine, can't remember what. Once again they promised this would kick in and work wonders if given about 30 minutes.  

30 minutes later I was on all fours in my hospital bed contracting and pushing again and screaming in agonizing pain in the middle of all these sleeping mothers and new babies. Not to mention my own new baby, somehow peacefully sleeping beside me. I knew there was nothing to push out, but if you've had a baby you know the urge to push is uncontrollable. It hurt like hell to push but I couldn't stop. It felt the same as the contractions I had had during the pushing stage but so much worse.  They were more intense, more painful, and no space between. Just one long contraction. Every time I'd give in and push I emptied my very full bladder all over the bed. This was miserable. I was DONE. I screamed at the nurses. I can't do this anymore. Do anything to me to make this go away. At this point being in so much pain for so long I had the thought that I don't know how I can survive much more. At what point does a body just stop? I was either going to die or pass out. And to not know what was happening or if it was ok. At least in labor I believed my encouragers when they told me this was normal and productive and would end. I no longer had that reassurance which was super scary. Maybe my panicked screams finally made them realize this wasn't normal because the next thing I heard is that they'd called a Dr to come take a look at me. While we waited for the Dr they gave me a percocet(I only remember that one because of the song lol).

I felt like wonder woman when I gave birth earlier that morning. Now I felt like a helpless little girl who can't handle pain. Were these nurses all rolling their eyes at me? Was I being a huge baby? Does anyone else scream like this?

It seemed like forever before the Dr finally got to our room.  I do know that at that point it was between 6:30am-7am. I'd be doing this since his birth at 1:08. The Dr finally took a look at me and saw what no one could see a few hours ago. I giant bulge had appeared(the second "baby's head" I'd been feeling). I had a vulvar hematoma, which since then has been affectionately named Timmy Owen after one of Ryan's many mispronunciations. The Dr told me that meant that at some point during labor or pushing I had burst a vein causing blood to slowly pool in that area. This results in a sort of internal bruise that turns into a large hard, pressurized mass. Think of getting hit in the head and having a big hard bump. So it's that, only a whole lot bigger, and in a very inconvenient area. And of course I can only imagine all that needless pushing only made it so much worse.

The Dr gave me the reassurance I desperately needed. He told me this is extremely rare(he'd only seen it maybe twice in his 20 years of practicing) and that the pain this must cause completely warranted my reaction so not to let anyone make me feel like I'm being a baby. "You just had a very long, all natural childbirth, you can handle pain!" Then he also told me oral drugs weren't going to do a thing for the level of pain this causes so we are going to get you some real relief. I'd been told relief was coming for so long now I'd stopped believing it, but a few minutes later an IV was being put in my arm and I whatever glorious drug they gave me crept up my arm and flooded my entire body, immediately taking away my pain and sending me into the first sleep I'd had in over 24 hours.

My poor sweet baby had to spend his first night in the hospital nursery. I felt so bad to have to ignore him in his first few hours of life. NOT what I wanted, but unfortunately necessary. After a couple hours of sleep they brought him to me to nurse. On so many different pain meds, I was still so loopy as Dr's and nurses came in and out, examining me and explaining things. I have no idea what all they said at that point. It was all I could do to keep my eyes open. My mom was already there with coffee and breakfast for us. Whatever magic drug they'd given me a few hours before was still in my arm and I had a little button to push whenever I needed more.  I was still in pain but nothing like the last night. Totally manageable as long as I was comfy in bed.

I couldn't get up and down to go to the bathroom, nor could I pee on my own because of all the swelling and blockage caused by the hematoma, so I had to have a catheter put in again. That took four nurses and finally a Dr to get it in. Kill Me Now!!!!  After the fifth try the Dr pushed passed the swelling and we were good. And I was grateful for not having to get up and pee on my own that day. Once I was somewhat coherent and out of pain the Dr came in and told me we needed to do a CT scan to see how deep the mass went and determine if it would resolve itself or if I'd need a surgical procedure to remove it. 

We waited all day Wednesday to be scheduled for the scan. That evening the Dr came back to check me again, this time bringing another Dr to give his opinion as well.  After they talked they decided that it seemed to have at least stabilized, and wasn't getting any bigger. This was good news. They told me that if left alone my body would reabsorb the hematoma on its own but it could take a while. Up to three weeks of bedrest. Bedrest meaning flat on my back, because I couldn't sit on it. Or they could do the procedure and possibly get faster results. Since it was left up to me I decided that if surgery wasn't necessary I'd let my body heal on its own. I mean, I feel like it's a no brainer. There are always risks with surgery so if you're telling me I don't actually need it, I'll pass. Plus, Ryan had the next three weeks off anyway so he could take care of me during my recovery.

If we had given birth at baby+co and all was normal, we would have been released after 4-6 hours to go home, and that was my plan. Obviously I'm so glad we were in the hospital due to my needs, but 4 hours turned into 4 days. Thank God for our parents who brought everything we needed to the hospital and took care of everything while we had to stay there. We spent Thanksgiving day in the hospital, surrounded by our family for the first time since we moved to Nashville, and our sweet friends even brought the Thanksgiving dinner we'd planned to the hospital! We felt so loved and supported. I am endlessly grateful for all of them.

Friday morning we were supposed to be discharged. We were SO ready to be home! My nurse came in and told me I was good to go. They just needed to get some prescriptions filled for me and get the paperwork all done. Arlo's nurse however, came in and told us that he had jaundice and would have to stay at least another day for treatment under the bilirubin lights in the nursery. I cried actual tears for the first time that week. I didn't want to spend one more minute in this hospital room, and definitely not without my baby. I was so sad thinking of him alone under the bright lights. He hated being naked and alone and near bright things! 

By some miracle the first nurse misinformed us about him having to be in the nursery and he was actually able to be under the lights in our room. One small win. But he still screamed all day, and we were unable to hold or comfort him. It was heartbreaking. They told us at 6pm they'd recheck his levels and if they were good he could go home, if not he'd have to stay under the lights through the night. 

As for myself, still in pain, barely able to walk, unable to sit up, on orders to be in bed and on all kinds of meds, was discharged. That would have been fine if I could have gone home to be in my own bed and be taken care of. But Arlo was still not released, so they moved us to a "family room." This was about half the size of our old room and no bed for me. All we have was a fold out love seat and two pillows for Ryan and myself. I'd had a hard time getting comfortable in my remote operated hospital bed, with 5 pillows and nurses waiting on me hand and foot. We were all SO MAD. Even Arlo's nurse was amazed that they had me in that room in my condition. I stood as long as my legs would hold me up just waiting for a nurse to walk through the door at any moment and tell me we could go home. After about 30 minutes of standing I couldn't do it anymore and Ryan and our parents helped lower me onto our new "bed" and went on a mission to find me more pillows. I just hoped and prayed with everything I had that we didn't have to stay the night. There's just no way. I could't even prop myself up to nurse, and no one was there to help me anymore since I was discharged. Thankfully Arlo's results came back normal! After just a couple hours in that awful room it was 9pm and we were finally headed home!

Being home felt amazing. Our family stayed through the weekend and helped with every little thing we needed. Friends came to visit over that first week and with our free time we watched movies and just relaxed so hard. Not a huge deal that I couldn't get up and around. Arlo was sleeping and pretty chill all the time so we just took advantage and enjoyed our time, even though I was in pain. I knew it'd be over soon. Up to 3 weeks, like the Dr said.  But now as I'm writing this, it's been 3 weeks and good ole Timmy Owen is the same size he was when I left the hospital. 

I will say I'm in so much less pain. Partially because the swelling, bruising, and stitches from normal childbirth are mostly healed. Also my chiropractic adjustments took away a lot of pain and stiffness I was having all over my body. And finally, as my midwife said, I'm probably just getting used to it. Learning weird ways to prop up and get around. But bottom line is, it's not getting smaller. So next week I go back to Vanderbilt to be examined and possibly undergo the surgery we originally talked about.

And now for a moment of brutal honesty and maybe a little plain bitching. I don't have to end this post with a silver lining or a "but it's all ok because...." because it's not. It doesn't feel ok. It feels so unfair. And of course Arlo is 100% worth it and I am absolutely in love with him. But having a newborn is hard. Everyone knows that I think. It's even harder when you feel worse physically than you ever have in your entire life and you can't even stop to take care of yourself. Figuring out how to breastfeed is hard enough, but I can't even sit up and try different positions. Totally pissed poor Arlo off a few times just not being able to get us comfy. My midwives and Dr's say to just get plenty of sleep. But you remember how I have a newborn, right? You know that means I haven't have a full night's sleep in 3 weeks, right? I'm all in for him. I'm here 100% for him and whatever he needs, so no, I don't have time for pain, or for rest and recovery, or for not being able to get up and down now that Ryan's back at work. Being a new mom is hard enough and that's all I really have the mental and physical energy for. So yeah, maybe this recent improvement is just that survival mode kicking in and saying nope, ain't got time for this! 

Looking back at when I was in labor, just getting through till the next brake, that's kind of what having a newborn is like too.  Of course this past week, now that Ryan is back at work my poor kid has decided to have tummy troubles and cries more than he sleeps. It's a constant cycle of nursing for 30 minutes, then burping and keeping him upright for 20 minutes so he doesn't throw the whole thing up, then a diaper change, then the crying, a good hour of trying to calm him down then if I'm successful maybe he'll nap an hour before we start the cycle all over. I'm getting the hang of it now, pain and all. But it really is the same thing. Just like making it through one more contraction. Making it through one more feeding, one more diaper change, one more rocking to sleep, then that amazing feeling when he's happy or passed out and I get an hour to sleep or eat or shower or return a phone call or work on this blog! But then there's this ridiculous thing(during the day at least) where after finally getting him down for a nap, 30 minutes passes and I miss him! Go figure.

In less than 4 weeks I go back to work. My nurse/midwife told me this week I shouldn't count on that being possible. But I am determined, because I have to. I'm not in a position to take anymore time off than I already have. I'm also about to go crazy not even being able to get out to even go on a walk or go get coffee, or anything outside my house. So whatever it needs to look like, natural healing or surgery, I'd so appreciate all your love, healing energy, prayers, or whatever you want to throw my way to get me healed in that amount of time.

To wrap this up in someway I guess I'll just say this. I don't feel negativity about this experience in general at all. This has been a truly amazing and life changing thing but it's hard to answer all the questions when people check in. How are you guys doing? Are you feeling better? No, I'm not doing great and not feeling better honestly so why do I feel the need to say "yes! Everything's great" when it's really not? Hopefully this doesn't sound negative, just honest. I know as a new mom I'm thankful for others that have posted their struggles instead of just the good stuff. It helps to know you're not crazy! And ok, here I go, I guess I am throwing in a silver lining anyway. One thing this experience has shown me that has been truly beautiful and amazing, is that I am so much stronger than I ever knew. I mean really, it takes something like this to bring out the deepest most animalistic side of our very being.  Our bodies were built for this and we will survive it. So even from my bed, in spit-up covered pjs and hair that hasn't been washed all week, I feel odly empowered.



Arlo's Birth Part 1: Labor and Delivery

Hello everyone!  I feel so out of the loop right now but I'm slowly getting back into the swing of things and wanted to update you all with all the craziness of the past three weeks.  Also wanted to get Arlo's birth story written down while it's fresh in my mind so that I can always have this to look back on.  The reason I made this a two parter is because the drama was far from over when he was finally born.  I had some complications with birth that I'm still trying to heal from and I wanted that to be a separate story.  Also, way too long to read all at once, unless you really want to. So here's part 1 for ya.  The story of my labor and delivery of our sweet boy.

At 39 weeks I was super ready to have this baby!  Our birthing center only takes normal, low risk pregnancies between 37-42 weeks.  I was terrified of somehow going over and missing that window!  I was determined that he would come early or at least on time.  I was due November 26th, the Sunday after Thanksgiving.  We had plans to do Thanksgiving with our close friends and I had already bought all the supplies to make my favorite dishes.  At that point I said, ok let's just make it through Thanksgiving then you can come on little guy!  Monday night, the 20th we starting getting all our ducks in a row before the busy week took over.  We finished packing our bag for the birthing center, I washed and blow dried my hair, actually shaved my legs, and downloaded a contraction timing app.  

I'd been having Braxton Hicks contractions pretty regularly for the past few months.  It was normal to have them all night and for them to feel pretty strong.  Tonight didn't feel any different but I pulled out my new contraction timer just to test it out.  My Braxton Hicks were consistently 10 minutes apart for the whole evening.  Still, this felt like most other nights recently.  But I remember telling Ryan "I don't think we have to worry about this baby being late.  I feel like it could be soon."  He said "Like before Thanksgiving soon."  I didn't think so.  "Nah, we will get through Thanksgiving."

I finally put my app down and went to bed, Braxton Hicks still going.  Every hour or so throughout the night a contraction would wake me up.  This had never happened before.  They felt the same, but with a little crampy feeling, kinda like period cramps, or like you really need to poop!  I told myself I probably had gas.  That morning Ryan got up and left for work around 6:30 am as always.  I usually slept a couple more hours before leaving for work at 9:15.  But this morning I couldn't go back to sleep.  So crampy!  Around 7am I started timing again.  These contractions were about 6-7 minutes apart.  I called Ryan and let him know, but still didn't want him to panic or rush home.  I had a full book of clients and even still planned on going to work at this point! haha. I knew that these were contractions, but that didn't mean I was in labor or progressing in any way.  I'd had two friends recently having painful contractions on and off days and even weeks before giving birth.  Not going to get myself or anyone else excited.  I called my midwife and she said it sounded like I could be in early labor but to keep her updated and get ready to come in to the birthing center when my contractions had been 3 minutes apart for at least an hour.

By 8:30 I called Ryan and told him to come home. I still wouldn't say "This is it!" but they were getting more painful and I at least needed someone with me to keep me calm.  I also called into work and advised them to start moving my morning clients while I "got this under control" lol. Ryan got home and we tried to watch tv to stay distracted.  That didn't work.  I tried bouncing on my ball.  Nope!  Laying down.  Nope!  Standing is all that felt ok.  We called our parents and let them know what was happening but not to head this way just yet.  They are 5 hours away in AR and I didn't want them half way here just to have this fizzle out. I still wouldn't admit that I was in real labor but I remember thinking this better freaking be it because this hurts!  I thought early labor(if that's what this was) would be a breeze.  Something I wouldn't have to focus on.  Ryan reminded me to not use all my coping skills I'd learned right now, and to save them for when it was more intense.  But this was intense! Finally he convinced me to go on a walk.  That was great!  We walked around the block a few times, stopping for each contraction and hanging onto each other.  The weather was beautiful that day.  60's and sunny, not a cloud in the sky.  After a few rounds I wanted to keep going but we decided to go back inside because I didn't want to waste any more energy.  It was now early afternoon and at that point my legs were already getting weak from standing all morning.  

When we got back inside things seemed to pick up even more and I decided to get in the shower.  Contractions were even more intense and getting closer together but still sporadic.  Some 2 minutes apart, some 6, but on average 3-4. I couldn't focus anymore.  I was already feeling tired.  How on earth could I keep going?  How on earth is this going to get more intense and can I really handle this?  By this point I was already making some kind of noises during each contraction, trying to keep my sounds to low groans, trying to breathe while bracing myself against the shower wall.  I begged Ryan to call the midwife again and see if we could go ahead and come in.  I couldn't imagine getting in a car like this but definitely didn't want to wait till it was any worse.  Since I had tested positive for GBS and would need antibiotics in an IV during labor, she told me to come on in just to be safe.  Also it was 3:30 in Nashville which means we had about 30 minutes before we'd get stuck in traffic for an hour.


Between contractions Ryan helped me get dressed and get into the car.  I felt like I might die if I did anything but stand during each contraction so the car ride was TORTURE!  I lifted myself as far out of that seat as possible with each one.  About 20 minutes and 5 contractions later, we pulled up at Baby+Co and were taken to our room.  After I let another contraction pass the midwife checked me(which hurt like hell!) and I was dilated to a 3.  I had mixed emotions.  It would have been great to be further along but at least I knew I was getting somewhere. This was real. This was it!  But 3 down, 7 to go was something I did not want to think about at this point.  She confirmed that I was in early labor but told me it was early enough I could go home for a while and come back later if I wanted to.  OH HELL NO!  There was no way I was getting back in that car.  

So Ryan and I got "comfortable" in our birthing suite.  I tried to get in the shower but the water wouldn't get hot!  I tried to lay down in the big comfy queen sized bed but that wasn't happening.  I just wanted to stand but my legs were shaking and giving out already from doing that all day. I think at that point I ended up on the toilet for quite a while.  At least it was a lovely heated toilet. After we got to the birthing center I really lost all track of time.  I don't think I looked at a clock or my phone the whole time, which I'd highly recommend.  While each contraction was it's own challenge, and in a way there was a feeling of "omg how long can this go on!?!?!", looking back, it really flew by.  We did nothing else but focus on getting through laboring together and at least now, looking back, all that time kind of runs together.  Ryan was so calm and comforting and kept me fed(chocolate chip cliff bars), hydrated(a sip of water between every contraction), and motivated with his kind and encouraging words.  

For a few hours it was just me and Ryan in the room but at some point once things progressed a bit more, they hooked me up to my IV of antibiotics and either our midwife Heather, or our nurse Grace, were in the room with us the whole time.  Once I was in a good active labor I moved to the tub.  That felt great!  And by "great" I mean "I think I can survive a little longer here." It's crazy how different it was than I expected.  How much harder.  But I was doing it!  Somehow it just got more and more intense, but very gradually, to where I almost didn't notice or have a chance to panic.  All I could do is focus on getting through each contraction.  Low groans and moans turned into something much louder, but I tried my best to keep my sounds productive and remain in control of them.  This is probably the only thing I remembered from birth class in the moment.  One thing that became very clear is that all the coping skills that we'd learned(essential oils, massage, breathing, using the tub or shower...) served a different purpose than I'd expected.  There is nothing in the world that was going to ease the feeling of a contraction.  I just had to survive them, one at a time.  But all of those other things were very important tools to help me relax between each contraction, which I did very well for a while.  While I still had 2-3 minutes between contractions I would lay in the tub and relax every muscle in my body.  I actually don't think I've ever felt better in my life than I did in those 2-3 minute breaks.  So relieved for a contraction to be over, in an amazing warm bath, breathing in lavender, with my husband saying nice things and massaging my head.  Haha, amazing!  And it was 100% necessary to have the physical and emotional strength to handle the next contraction.

At a certain point I started to get too tired to relax.  Contractions were too close together and my body wouldn't stop shaking long enough to calm down.  Enter: nitrous oxide.  When all the tricks we had up our sleeves stopped working, I was given the nitrous mask to hold and breath during contractions and to relax in between.  This worked wonders when it comes to getting me to calm down a little longer. 

Of course all good things come to an end, and there was a point where the nitrous stopping working as well.  Contractions were so intense and so close together, I was just about over it.  Honestly ready to give up.  But there's no off button you can suddenly push.  This was happening whether I liked it or not!  It was around 11:30 and our parent's had arrived and were in the lobby.  This gave me a little comfort to know I had even more cheerleaders just in the other room. My midwife asked to check me again.  I actually said no at first because I didn't think I could mentally handle it if it wasn't good news.  She insisted and when she checked me I was at a 7.  I tried to shut off my brain and just go into survival mode.  I have no choice, I have to get through this.  At this point she could tell I was fading.  I cried and said I don't want to do this anymore! She told me that she did not want me to look back at this experience as a traumatic one, and if I was in too much pain they could call an ambulance to take me to Vanderbilt to get an epidural.  I said no!  Even though that sounded great, I wanted to have my baby at the birthing center and bottom line, I wanted immediate relief and there was no way I was getting back in any kind of car like this! 

Right after she checked me and we had this conversation I had a massive contraction, I stood up off the bed where'd she'd been checking me, hung onto Ryan's shoulders and in that moment my water broke.  All over Ryan!  As soon as that happened the contractions changed.  Even the very short space between them was hurting and I felt the urge to push.  Was this transition?  Had I already been through transition?  Heather immediately checked me again and I was at 10!  I'd gone from 7 to 10 in that one contraction and was ready to push!  I don't want to say pushing felt good, but it was doable.  It was crazy intense but it was progress, it was a light at the end of the tunnel, it was knowing that this is almost over that gave me the mental energy to push with all the strength in my body.  Between each push they checked the baby's heart rate.  After just one or two rounds of pushing the baby's heart rate had dropped low enough for concern.  They calmly told us that just to be safe they were calling 911 to get an ambulance to take me to Vanderbilt just in case he ended up needing help.  The ambulance was minutes away but she told me we could try and get the baby out before they pulled up.  With the next contraction I pushed with all I had in me and definitely made some progress but the EMT's were ready for me and we had to go.  Not a stitch of clothing on, Ryan helped me into a nightgown and onto the stretcher.  Forced to lay down(my least favorite position) and legs literally strapped down to the stretcher, I was wheeled out through the lobby, past my parents, and into the ambulance, all while trying not to push and making some pretty scary noises I'm sure.  


My midwife hopped in the ambulance with me but Ryan and my family had to drive there separately.  I found out later that Ryan had gotten lost and ended up at the VA emergency room instead of Vandy!  Thank God he found it after that and made it on time, and thank God I didn't know about that until after the fact!  One excruciating ambulance ride later, I was being wheeled into a labor and delivery room at Vanderbilt and lifted onto the bed.  Minutes later Ryan was by my side again and I was pushing.  Baby's heart rate had returned to normal even before we arrived so we weren't super worried anymore, just ready to get him out.  One more round of pushing and he was almost out.  My midwife was still running the show and helping me every step of the way.  At that point she pulled out a scary looking device and started talking about how they needed to cut me to allow him enough room to come out, at that moment I had another contraction and pushed him right out!  Close call with the almost episiotemy, but ended up with my perineum fully intact!  Only a few minor tears inside.  


I thought I'd cry when I saw him.  Ryan thought he would too.  But we didn't.  They put him straight on my chest and I just looked at him in shock and relief.  I just remember saying "I did it! I did it!" and "It's over!!!"  I've never felt so much relief in my life. Ryan was all smiles as we looked in amazement at what had just shot out of my body. There he was, all slippery and writhing on my chest.  I didn't even think to look at what color hair he had or anything like that.  I was just shocked.  This actually happened.  I actually did it, all naturally, and we were all ok, and there was a tiny person here that wasn't here before. 

I was so thankful the pushing went so fast.  Our parent's on the other side of the wall said they heard it happen.  A giant scream from me, then a tiny cry from Arlo.  Arlo Simon Hart was born at 1:08am on Wednesday, November 22nd, the day before Thanksgiving.  He was 6 pounds 15 ounces, and 20 inches long.  

Even after all that, I'm so happy I made it through an all natural birth.  One thing I took away though is that I really don't think I could have done it in a hospital setting.  It was hard enough at baby+co where I had a whole beautiful suite to move around in, try out different positions and had every tool for relaxation at my disposal. In that small hospital birthing room, there's no way. And with drugs so readily available, I would have given in for sure in the moment, even though that's not what I wanted for us. 

At first I had so much relief.  Everyone kept telling me, it's almost over, once he's out, all this goes away.  I was so glad I'd made it.  But unfortunately it was not even close to being over for me.  That's why there's a part 2 to this thing!  Details of my rather dramatic postpartum experience coming soon.

Much love,


My 9 Pregnancy Must Have's

Hello everyone!  It's been a while.  Between getting ready for baby, still working full time, and attempting to maintain some kind of social life, I've been a little busy!  But I thought I'd pop in and share with all of you a few of the things that have made my life a lot easier these past few months.  From clothing items to books, if you're an expecting mama I'd highly recommend making a few of these purchases. 



I tried not to buy a ton of maternity clothes and stick with flowy dresses as long as possible, BUT if you have to buy one thing get a pair of maternity leggings.  I wear them with everything and they are SO COMFY!  I also bought maternity yoga pants, a pair of jeans, and a few maternity tank tops(the kind that are just extra long, so I feel like I'll still wear them after birth) and that has gotten me through the majority of my pregnancy.  

sleeping bra.jpg


By about month 5 I had to switch out my favorite victoria's secret bras for something a little more practical.  One of my biggest issues during pregnancy has been rib pain, even in my second trimester, so I had to start wearing something loose or I just couldn't stand it.  This "sleeping bra" from Medela has been AMAZING!  I bought a few and it's all I wear.  Even if you aren't pregnant, if you want something comfy and minimalistic, go get one!  It can also be used for nursing when the time comes.  Got mine at target for about $16.

maternity spanx.jpg


I bought these babies early on and have used them til I worn them out(just this week I wore a hole in them).  I got a nude pair and wore them under everything.  Surprisingly they feel amazing just because they keep everything supported and also acted as a slip under any dress once slips didn't fit.  About $50 but well worth it.



This has been great as I'm nearing the end of this pregnancy.  There are times when there's literally no comfortable position but I can lay over the ball and just let everything hang for a while to get some relief.  It's also a nice spot to just sit and bounce and I plan on using it while laboring at home in the early stages.  You can get a ball and pump together for under $20 most places.

serola belt.jpg


This is something I had before pregnancy but there have been times I would not be able to function without it!  I already had low back issues, particularly around my sacrum and pelvis, so with everything loosening from the hormones even in my first month I had crippling pain.  This belt sits low on the hips around the pelvis and tightens to literally hold everything together.  It has been a life saver!  In my first trimester it did the job my ligaments could not by holding everything together while I got chiropractic adjustments and giving my own body a little time to strengthen and heal.  Now in the third trimester it's an amazing way to provide that counter pressure that feels amazing as the baby is pressing down so low on everything.  I recommend this serola brand belt.  You can find it on their website for $44.


This one has been a bit of an experiment.  While I'm honestly not super concerned with getting stretch marks, I did want to see if I could do anything to make the stretching process a little easier on my skin.  This stretch mark oil from Clary Collection mixed into my Grape Stem Cell body lotion from Ilike Organics has been my go to since day one.  I am three weeks away from my due date and no stretch marks yet!  For me that's saying a lot because I have stretch marks all over my body!  Got my first set as a teenager and have had them pop up every time I gain a few pounds all my life, so I really expected to get them.  I picked up this oil(which smells AMAZING) from my friend Laura Lemon's local Nashville shop Lemon Lane, where they cary tons of amazing natural body products.  It retails for about $20.  I chose the Grape Stem Cell lotion from the line I cary at where I work at Pure Organic Salon+Spa because it's an anti-again body lotion.  This means it helps your skin naturally boost collagen and elastin production which is exactly what you want when your skin has to stretch and heal.  At about $76 the stem cell lotion costs a pretty penny, but this is pro quality, super concentrated, organic, anti aging skincare, and if it works, might be totally worth it to some.



If you read one thing during your pregnancy please make it THIS BOOK!  The first half is a collection of beautiful and positive birth stories.  The second half presents more technical information but in such a loving and non-scary way that it is really an enjoyable read that leaves you feeling empowered, informed, and ready to rock birth!  You can find this book online I'm sure, but I got mine used at my favorite discount book store, McKays for about $3.  And I'm pretty sure there were about 5 more copies when I was there.



Ok these last two aren't really products but have been amazing resources during my pregnancy.  Prenatal yoga has not only been a way to prepare my body for labor and delivery, but a great way to connect with other women going through the same struggles I'm currently facing.  At Blooma yoga studio in Nashville, pre and post natal is all they do so every instructor really has a heart for working with pregnant women and mothers and providing exactly what we didn't even know we needed.  Every class starts with a circle where we all share a little about ourselves and our pregnancies and have a chance to talk through whatever we may need to that day all before stretching out all these crazy aches and pains.  If you're in the Nashville area make sure to check them out.


Last but not at all least, my amazing birth center Baby+Co.  I feel SO lucky to have a place like this in my town.  Where do I even start?  How about these gorgeous, cozy rooms!  Every room comes with big comfy queen sized beds, an amazing deep tub, pilates bars, water therapy rooms(aka the fanciest shower ever!), different sized exercise balls, essential oil bar and diffusers, and plenty of space and freedom to give birth in whatever way feels best.  Birth in the center is all natural but I'll have access to different natural pain relief methods not available in hospitals.  I'll be assisted by the very best nurses and midwives as long as everything goes smoothly, and if I need anything more than they can offer I'm a quick transfer away from Vanderbilt hospital, right across the street.  In addition to amazing prenatal support through all my visits, they include a six week birth class that has been incredible.  A week was spent on early labor, active labor, transition and pushing, post natal recovery, infant care, and breastfeeding.  We feel so much more prepared after taking this amazing class with our incredible instructor Angela Graham.  Baby+Co also offers plenty of extra classes and support groups before and after baby that we plan on taking advantage of.  If you're even thinking about becoming pregnant I highly recommend you tour this beautiful space.


Any other ladies have anything they'd add to this list?  Let me know what worked for you!


Caitlin Hart
8 Tips To Creating Your In Home Gym: By Guest Blogger, Cait Elizabeth

Hey guys!  Excited to share with you a fun post by a guest blogger.  Cait Elizabeth, of Cait's Cozy Corner, is a mom, fashion, and fitness enthusiast from Atlanta, GA.  Hope you enjoy her fun tips to get healthy at home!

8 Tips To Creating Your In Home Gym

Have you ever walked into someone’s home and thought “Wow, this gym is something I could definitely use in my own home!” Of course, you actually can make your home gym more functional and aesthetically pleasing at the same time. Do we all really think that we can squeeze that treadmill in the corner of the room next to the huge pile of laundry? Sure, you may need a certain amount of space to dedicate to working out but creating your state-of-the-art gym can be super expensive! Anyone with a basement or a spare room with extra weights and a yoga mat can make their room look awesome! Today I’ll be sharing 8 ways to add function to your home gym!

  1. Media - I’m one to always need something to watch or listen to when I’m working out. The days I forgot my headphones is a sad one but thank goodness for having the option to watch a show I’ve been meaning to keep up on, or the news. With your own home gym, you’re able to watch what YOU want - or even jam out to your favorite tunes ( yes I’ll blast Backstreet Boys )! Make sure to mount your TV in a place that accessible from every corner of the room ( like a small corner ) so you don’t have to strain your neck one way to watch.

  2. Paint Colors - When I first walk into a room, one of the things I notice right away are the paint colors. Do you want the room to feel inviting and fresh or bold and out there? For me, my in home gym needs to be a mixture so I enjoy colors that are pleasing and not over the top like a bright yellow. Think of light greys, whites or blues and then add some accent colors to speak to your personality!

  3. Rubber Flooring- I need this type of flooring for my gym. I hate slipping and sliding over the floor at times ( if I tend to do more yoga ) and rubber flooring is just a game changer as far as helping my shoes and body stay in place. I also love that it has a lot of give to it so I’m not scuffing my floors when doing a few circuit trainings.

  4. Fan- Despite that your home may have central air, getting super sweaty will always happen so putting a fan or two in small corners like where your treadmill or weight area is key. Keeping cool is essential when getting your work out in.

  5. Add Luxury- Of course I want my in home gym to be functional but also girly too. I love adding some fresh flowers and great pieces to make it a bit more luxurious too. For any of my design needs I always look to Premier Surfaces Chattanooga based in TN. The company specializes in gorgeous countertops made of granite, marble, soapstone and more! They are the only company to win Atlanta’s Consumer’s Choice Award every year since 2008; a prestigious award that is voted by thousands of local residents so you know you’re in good hands when thinking of wanting to customize some counter spaces for that extra storage you need in your gym! Make it pleasing for you and your guests!
  6. Personalize It - Of course, you want your gym to reflect you and your style when it comes to the decor. Inspirational framed messages are always an inexpensive option and you’re probably going to want some sort of music to cover up the sound of your heavy breathing!

  7. Cooler - No one wants to be extremely parched and run upstairs to grab water. Why not have a cute water cooler in your gym and fill it with cold refreshing water bottles to enjoy and for your guests to use if they want to come over!

  8. Keep It Clean -  Remember, this is YOUR space. If it gets a little cluttered from time to time, invest in some cute baskets or boxes that you can easily throw your gym equipment into. The key here is that you want to enjoy your time in your workout area. Don’t add another hurdle to your workouts by forcing yourself to clean up pre-workout.

What would you include in your very own home gym?

3 Healthy Summer Mocktails for Mamas-To-Be

Everyone loves to sip on a special beverage once in a while, especially in the heat of summer.  If you're like me and avoiding alcohol due to pregnancy, or just for your own health, it gets a little boring drinking water when everyone else has a fancy cocktail.  That's why I came up with a few drinks that are easy to make, low in sugar, and so tasty you won't feel left out of the party for one second!

Watermelon Jalapeno Margarita


2 cups cubed watermelon, frozen

1 fresh jalapeno, seeded

Juice from 1 lime


Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.  

Add lime juice and/or water for desired flavor/consistency.  

Serve immediately 


Peach Basil Iced Tea


4 tea decaf teabags

Pure liquid stevia

3 Peaches

1 bundle of basil


Brew tea according to package.

Slightly sweeten tea to your preference with a few drops of stevia

Cut peaches into slices and add to the pitcher

Roughly chop basil and add to the mixture

Refrigerate for a least a few hours(or overnight) so that the tea soaks up all the flavor of the peaches and basil. 

Cranberry Limeade 


2 parts sparkling water

1 part pure, unsweetened cranberry juice

1/2 part limeade(I like simple truth brand)

Lime wedges


Pour sparkling water, cranberry juice, and limeade over ice.

Top with extra lime juice and a lime wedge.




I've offered a lot of different skin treatments over the years; microdermabrasion, peels, ultrasound  facials, LED light therapy, and dermaplaning.  Of all of these things dermaplaning has had a very unique response.  People are terrified of it once they read about the process, but once they do it they are addicted!  I have more people that get that done every month than any other skin treatment I offer.  So I thought it would be the perfect thing to write about and share pictures of the process to show that it's totally not a scary thing.  

Dermaplaning is the removal of dead skin and baby hairs on the face by using a single use, stainless steal blade.  "What!?  You mean you're going to scrape a layer of my face off with a scalpel!?" is the general response.  But no, it's not nearly as intense as most people imagine.  It's not unpleasant, and not "a layer of your face", but over time and repeated treatments it will help diminish scaring, large pores, fine lines, hyper pigmentation, and give you overall smoother softer skin.  

I offer dermaplaning as an add on to any of my facials or as a stand alone "dermaplaning facial" which is kind of like dermaplaning with a mini facial.  The reason I don't offer it alone is that I want everyone to leave with the best possible results and that means taking time to at least do a quick mask after the treatment and finish with some good products so that no one leaves irritated or dry.  Also, whatever results you might get from the masks and treatments in a regular facial are greatly multiplied after dermaplaning because the products can sink in much deeper and do their job without being stopped by all that dead skin on the surface.

Want an even better treatment?  Once you're used to dermaplaning I recommend adding an enzyme peel after.  This is going to give an even better exfoliation and this is where you will start to see the real results.  For some people with very dry skin and a lot of buildup, dermaplaning can be like beginning to unravel a sweater; you could just keep going all day with no good stopping point.  An enzyme peel will help dissolve and perfectly smooth any remaining dry skin flakes that weren't quite ready to come off, leaving you with perfectly smooth skin.  I try to do this myself once a month!

After dermaplaning, optional enzyme peel and/or other specialized treatments, and masking, we will finish up with products like serums, eye treatments, and moisturizer customized to your skin's needs. It's actually a very relaxing treatment, and not the scary experience that a lot of people imagine.  Immediately after this treatment your skin will feel softer than you thought possible!  And after continued treatments we can really start to tackle some deeper issues, or simply maintain that youthful glow.  As far as aftercare, just make sure to stay out of the sun for a few days and protect your skin with an spf.  Most people don't have any redness or irritation at all.  So if you're ready to give it a try, you know where to find me!



Goodbye First Trimester!

I have to apologize for not being as consistent with this new project as I had hoped, but as most of you know I got some big news shortly after starting this endeavor so I've been a little distracted.

In late March my husband Ryan and I found out that we are going to be parents!  Wether or not a pregnancy is planned or a surprise, I think it's hard not to be in disbelief.  Is this real?  Am I making this up?  Can this little plastic test(or 10 of them!) really tell me something this life changing?  But as soon as we saw this little person on the screen in our first ultrasound it was real!

So what now?  So many things to plan and prepare for.  So many questions on what I can and can't do.  At the time I didn't even have a Dr. but I knew I wanted to do an all natural birth and possibly in an nontraditional setting.  So we decided to do all my prenatal care and birth at a wonderful birthing center with the help of the best midwives and nurses.  The wait between finding out we were expecting and our first appointment seemed like forever!  I called them probably way too much to ask all my questions but was frustrated to find, no one really had the answers I wanted.  As most of you know I do things as naturally as possible.  I don't take drugs unless absolutely necessary, I eat healthy foods and take lots of natural supplements.  So as I started to feel sick early on(especially when I got a bad cold on top of the pregnancy sickness!), I reached for my tried and true remedies.  I'd never noticed the big warning label on everything in my "medicine" cabinet "WARNING: Ask a Doctor before taking if pregnant or breastfeeding."  So many calls to a nurse were made but there are no answers here.  No one has thoroughly tested oils and herbs on pregnant women.  Even when I grabbed my go to kombucha, which always gives me energy and relieves nausea, I find out it's off limits because....we just don't know!  On top of that, the list of approved drugs for pregnancy are things I already try not to take.

So needless to say I spent a few miserable weeks reading lots of books that said lots of scary things and made me want to lock myself in a padded room to keep my baby safe from all the horrors of the world!  After a lot of soul searching, researching, and asking other mamas who I respect, I have been able to relax a little bit.  I think a huge part of pregnancy and health in general is listing to your body.  I knew what I needed when I needed it!  At this point is doesn't matter as much because I'm out of the first trimester and feeling much better haha.  SO GLAD this period of sickness and confusion is over!  But I'm hoping I can continue through this pregnancy staying relaxed and listening to my body.

The first trimester is definitely hard.  I wasn't nearly as sick as some of my friends but it's a tough time with lots of emotions and uncertainty.  I am so happy to finally be settling in, feeling energized, excited, and focused on the connection I'm building with my little one.  

Spring Beauty Tips

It's that time of year!  Time to do a little spring cleaning to our beauty routines.  My approach to spring and summer beauty is based in simplicity.  Start with healthy skin and top it off with minimal makeup and fun colors.  Vogue agrees with me.  Among Vogue's top beauty trends for spring of 2017 were the "no makeup look", an emphasis on cheeks, and bold lips.  Here are my tips on how to achieve these easy looks.


The base to any good beauty routine is healthy skin.  I recommending starting with the basics; Cleaning, toning, and moisturizing.  For skincare junkies like me, or those looking to address certain issues, you can add products like exfoliants, masks, serums, or eye creams.  I'm a strong believer in organic skincare, not only because it's healthy for our bodies, but because it works!  When we use organic ingredients our skin actually knows what to do with it.  Our bodies, and in turn our skin, know how to regulate and protect themselves.  In an ideal world we wouldn't need skincare at all, but we don't live in an ideal world.  Every day we are exposed to toxins and environmental pollutants not to mention the food we put in our bodies(which is directly related to inflammation in our skin).  So my focus is getting my body and my skin back to it's natural state of regulating and healing itself, and organic skincare helps me do just that.  Also when you clean up your diet and avoid unnecessary toxins in your daily life it will definitely start to show in your skin.  In addition to a good at home routine, regular facials can be an amazing way to see even more results in your skin.  


Sometimes even with the best skincare routine we still need a little help to look this effortless.  Here I used all Limelight products.  Gina beige foundation, glowing blush on cheeks and temples, creme brûlée enduring lip color, and a touch of mascara.


For this look I used a dab of Limelight's waterproof concealer mixed with a couple drops of "Must Dew" facial oil for a sheer foundation alternative.  I topped that with "glowing" blush in a "C" shape across my checks and temples, then just a bit of their "perfect blush" right on the apples of my cheeks.  This glowing blush combo as been a major hit and seems to work for everyone.


A bold lip is a super easy way to look instantly put together without doing much at all.  Here I used Limelight's enduring lip color in "Candy Apple".  One of my go to colors when I'm feeling fun.  These enduring lip colors offer a fully pigmented look that dries matte and lasts hours while still feeling creamy and hydrating unlike similar brands that tend to get dry and flakey.  It really is the perfect lip product. 


What does your skincare and makeup routine look like?  And is it changing with the seasons or do you feel stuck in a rut?  I can help!  connect with me for personalized skin and makeup help anytime.



Skin, MakeupCaitlin Hart

We've probably all got a bottle of aloe vera gel stashed somewhere for the occasional sunburn.  I know I was a regular user as a fair skinned kid who couldn't stay out of the sun in the summer.  But do you really know all the vast benefits this plant has?  And are you using it correctly? 

Ways to use it

Aloe vera does two main things, reduces inflammation and deeply hydrates at a cellular level. This means it's amazing for topical use on skin irritations but also internally for inflammation in the body and to aid in increased hydration. 

Topical Uses

  • Burns
  • Rashes
  • Breakouts
  • Allergic reactions
  • Bruises
  • Rosacea 
  • Eczema
  • Hydration
  • Anti Aging
  • Stretch marks
  • Dark spots

Internal Use

The source of all disease in the body is inflammation.  That's why it is imperative to our health to live a lifestyle that reduces inflammation instead of causing more.  You can eat an anti-inflammatory diet by eating alkaline foods and refraining from inflammatory foods like caffeine, alcohol, processed foods and sugar.  As a dietary supplement you can buy a good quality liquid aloe very juice or water(I recommend "George's").  I take a 2oz. shot each morning and evening.  Using aloe internally can also help with skin disorders since we heal from the inside out.  Benefits of taking aloe internally are so vast because healing inflammation helps with any problem you can dream up, but here are a few key things aloe may help with...

  • Digestive disorders
  • Dehydration
  • Joint health
  • Ulcers
  • Cancer prevention/treatment
  • Diabetes/blood sugar control
  • Acid reflux
  • fibromyalgia
  • IBS
  • Crohns disease
  • Rosacea
  • Acne
  • Anti aging

The list goes on and on and on!

Where to get the good stuff

Aloe vera is very east to grow year round indoors as a potted plant.  For external use this is the best source!  Simply remove a leaf when needed, slice it in half lengthwise and rub the inner leaf on the area of concern.  Most drug store aloe gels contain very little actual aloe. Instead they have other medicated ingredients to mask symptoms, like lidocaine or menthol.  If you must buy prepackaged aloe, make sure it's from your local health foods store and is 100% pure aloe.  But buying a plant is definitely the best way to go.  Plus, they look super cute in your home!

For internal use I recommend grabbing a gallon of "George's 100% Aloe liquid" from your local health food store, or online.  It's pure, fractionally distilled aloe without all the pulp so it literally tastes like water.  This stuff is liquid gold!

Those are my favorite ways to use this incredible little plant.  What's your favorite way to use Aloe?


HealthCaitlin Hart