Prego in San Diego Labor: The Aftermath and 5 Lessons Learned

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This past weekend, the mysterious and long-awaited Baby C chose a warm, sunny Saturday morning to enter into the world. Today I’m ecstatic to announce that Antonio and I have a healthy, beautiful baby girl, Xaviana Rose! Accordingly, I will be taking a hiatus from Prego in San Diego–at least until I’m pregnant with Baby C #2, that is. ūüôā And, of course, I want to share the most important lessons I learned throughout pregnancy and labor.

Xaviana Rose newborn photo collage

But first: Xavi’s birth story… Xavi was an easy pregnancy, and labor started out that way as well. Mild contractions had begun the previous night after Antonio and I had enjoyed a huge steak and lobster dinner at Hunter Steakhouse, which was incidentally where we’d celebrated when I’d found out I was pregnant!

The contractions became stronger the next morning, and I told Antonio, “I wonder if Baby C will break the water to let us know that he or she is coming.” About two seconds later, I felt a small trickle and started laughing; it was as if Baby C had heard us.

In the hospital, my labor proceeded smoothly for the first few hours. I had told the nurse that I was interested in an epidural only if necessary; the contractions were within my pain tolerance for the first hour or so, but I certainly wasn’t shy about requesting the epidural when my body told me enough was enough.

However, as the contractions intensified and Xavi’s head began to descend into the birth canal, her heart rate plummeted below 100 beats per minute, and the doctor and nurses¬†treated this situation as an emergency. Xavi’s umbilical cord had wrapped around her neck, and the doctor gravely informed me that he might have to perform a C-section. I was rushed upstairs to the operating room in a flurry of medical personnel; it was truly one of the scariest moments of my life.

However, the doctors and nurses took several steps to avoid the C-section. First, I was infused with a fluid similar in composition to amniotic fluid, so Xavi was cushioned and was able to float slightly upward and untangle herself from the umbilical cord. Second, they gave me terbutaline, a medication that stops contractions. The drug, combined with the urgency and stress, caused me to shake from head to toe. Luckily, Antonio was right there with me, holding my hand. We prayed continuously, and he urged me to remember my labor mantra, serenity and strength.

Antonio squeezed my hand, filling me with support, love, and healing energy, and as I prayed for Baby C’s safety, I saw an image of Jesus, radiating golden light. Channeling all of my strength, I focused on serenity, repeating the word internally until my shaking subsided.

After that, things turned around. Xavi’s heart rate¬†rose to the healthy 150’s and the terbutaline wore off. Soon, it was time to push–and there, the strength came in.

I had been preparing for labor ever since I’d found out that I was pregnant, making sure to maintain my muscle tone and stay well nourished. I treated the pushing as an ab workout, and a long-awaited one at that–although I performed prenatal yoga, side planks, and core strengthening, I had really missed the intense ab workouts I’d done before pregnancy. I pushed three times with each contraction, and my active labor lasted about 40 minutes. Antonio, the nurses, and I set a goal of getting the baby out by 6 PM, and we actually beat the goal by six minutes. Since Xavi was still considered high-risk, the doctor helped us out a bit by using the vacuum to assist the delivery at the end.

I was beginning to feel a mild pain by this time, and I’d just screamed, “It hurts!” when the doctor pulled out a crying, alert Xaviana. My first words were an ecstatic, “It’s a girl!” I’d prayed for a little girl before I’d even been pregnant. Antonio and I were so happy that our little angel had been delivered safe and sound; the scare really made us appreciate how blessed we were.

Preg moms out there, may God be with you when you deliver your beautiful babies. The most important lessons I learned during my pregnancy were as follows:

  1. Maintain your health and fitness throughout your pregnancy. Pushing will be infinitely easier.
  2. Create a labor mantra,¬†and don’t forget to repeat it to yourself in the heat of the moment. A lot of labor and delivery is your mindset.
  3. Trust in your healthcare providers. The best things in life seldom proceed according to plan, and your doctors and nurses are prepared for complications.
  4. Have a support system. Antonio was the driving force during my labor; his calming influence and encouraging words, combined with our deep spiritual link, helped me immeasurably.
  5. Don’t be afraid to ask for an epidural.¬†They are magical. I did not feel any pain from the contractions or the pushing. Only during the final pushes, when the epidural was finally starting to wear off, did I feel a twinge of pain.

So there you have it! Best of luck throughout your pregnancies, and I will see you again in a year or two. ūüôā

Labor Mindset: Creating a Mantra

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One of my favorite parts of¬†yoga class is when the instructor tells us to create a mantra, a word or phrase that we can repeat to ourselves to maintain focus and optimize our yoga practice. Mantras are so powerful because they’re a simple way of reminding us what we want to achieve, especially when the task at hand seems demanding or insurmountable.

I’ve started applying mantras to other areas of life as well. For example, when Antonio and I set our weekly goals together, we often create a mantra for the week. And, naturally, I have decided upon a labor mantra.

Baby C, mysterious creature that he or she is, has decided to keep us in suspense; the due date was two days ago, but he/she is still chillaxing in utero. I’m perfectly okay with Baby C extending his or her stay, since these last few days have been the optimal opportunity to finish tasks and tie up loose ends before I go into a Baby C haze. ūüėČ I was able to finish writing¬†The Mermaid’s Curse, and I also revised the book all the way to¬†the final draft, using the comments my editor had suggested. In addition, I’ve been able to keep up all my usual indie author duties, and I’ve had time to go on dates with Antonio and hang out with friends.

I really am in no hurry to go into labor, even though Baby C is sending me subtle signs that he or she is **thinking** about coming out. But when Baby C does decide to make an appearance, I feel ready, largely because I have created a labor mantra.

Creating a labor mantra will allow you to enjoy every step of the journey.

Creating a labor mantra will allow you to enjoy every step of the journey.

My mantra will be “serenity and strength.” Especially for first-time moms, the very thought of labor can be daunting, just because of its unfamiliarity combined with the horror stories we’ve heard over the years. But I feel as though our mindsets going into labor are just¬†as important as the physical aspects. I believe that maintaining serenity during labor will enable me to trust in God and the people who will be there to help me. Although I told my doctor my preferences, I did not make a specific-to-the-last-detail birth plan because some things just can’t be controlled or planned for. In fact, most wonderful parts¬†of life, whether weddings, relationships, or labors, deviate from the plan somewhat, and I’m fully ready for that.

I included strength in my mantra because labor is like a marathon, requiring intense physical and mental stamina. Throughout my pregnancy, I have practiced strengthening exercises, cardio, and yoga, to ensure that I’ll be in optimum preg condition for the big day. Now, all I have to do is depend on my body and let God do the rest.

Full-term moms out there, have you created a labor mantra? Did this post inspire you to do so, and if so, what will be your mantra? I’d love to hear your opinions!

Harnessing the Energy of the 39-Week Surge

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I’m now at 39 weeks and one day, but who’s counting? ūüėČ Currently, I’m experiencing yet another interesting prego phenomenon: the¬†39-Week Energy Surge. As far as I know, I’m the only one who has coined this exact phrase, but I have read numerous articles and blog posts about “nesting” right before the baby is due and having sudden spurts of energy, so I’m thinking that my surge fits into this category.

My mom told me that, right before she had my brother and me, she started “nesting”–cleaning compulsively and making sure that all the baby stuff¬†was ready. Antonio and I already feel prepped for Baby C’s arrival, so my energy has been directed at my writing–namely¬†finishing the first draft and preliminary edit of my new teen romance, “The Mermaid’s Curse,”¬†by 10/10/14, exactly four days before Baby C’s due date.

I’m no stranger to pumping out books; after all, since I retired from pharmacy last September, writing has been my full-time job, and I’ve been able to release at least one new Kindle eBook per month since last October. However, I wrote my mermaid book faster than any of my Amish romances. I started it on September 15th, overlapping with edits of my latest eBook, Amish Awakening, and am anticipating completing the first draft today and the preliminary edits tomorrow and Friday, before I submit it to my editor. Additionally, “The Mermaid’s Curse” will be about 34,000 words, much longer than any of my Amish novellas.

The 39-week energy surge is definitely real, and my theory is that it applies to moms and dads alike. So get out there and do something fun with all that energy ;)

The 39-week energy surge is definitely real, and my theory is that it applies to moms and dads alike. So get out there and do something fun with all that energy ūüėČ

I attribute this crazy level of productivity to two things. First of all, I’m super-inspired to write about mermaids. After writing eleven Amish books, I was ready for a change of pace, and lately, I’ve been saturating myself in all things mermaid. Plus, the So-Cal lifestyle is so conducive to dreaming up stories set in an ocean environment; every time I swim in the pool or go to the beach, I’m instantly inspired!

But the other reason for the productivity is that I harnessed that 39-Week Energy Surge. For the last few weeks, I’ve been writing practically all day, feeling the impending deadline of Baby C’s arrival. When I was writing my Amish books, I would finish two or three new chapters on an average day; lately, I’ve been writing four or five, and last Friday, I wrote six!

And, apparently, this phenomenon extends to daddies-to-be as well; Antonio reported that he has been laser-focused and proactive at work, to finish up as many projects as he can before Baby C comes.

Full-term¬†moms, what do you think? What are your personal experiences with the 39-Week Energy Surge, and what awesome personal goals do you hope to accomplish before Baby¬†arrives? As always, I’d love to hear what you think!

Mind Over Matter: Mindset Optimization in Month 9

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I’m 37 and 1/2 weeks pregnant, and Baby C could come any day now! My excitement mounts as the big day draws nearer, but I also understand the value of these last few preparatory weeks before Baby C makes his or her debut into the world.

I’ve heard that the last month of pregnancy can be very difficult for many moms-to-be, especially first-timers. This is because nervous anticipation, a general aura of impatience, and ever-so-slight dark clouds of worry can threaten our positive mindset in the home stretch of pregnancy. But never fear–here are 5 ways to manage negative thoughts and optimize our mindsets in the final weeks!

Here I am at the beach at golden hour this past weekend, enjoying a relaxing sunset date with Antonio.

Here I am at the beach at golden hour this past weekend, optimizing my mindset on a relaxing sunset date with Antonio.

  1. Be prepared –¬†This¬†is the single best way to prevent unnecessary tension now, on your delivery day, and after you bring your baby home. By week 34 or 35, make sure you have packed your hospital bag, not only with your necessities, but with a receiving blanket and an outfit or two for baby. Here’s a great blog post¬†I used when packing. Wash all the baby’s receiving blankets, crib sheets, and clothes, install the car seat, assemble the crib, and organize the baby’s room (or the corner of your room where baby will sleep for the first few months). Ask your OB/gyne for a list of recommended pediatricians, and program the phone number of your hospital into your phone (and your significant other’s phone, too). And finally, create a going-into-labor plan with your SO, or whoever will be bringing you to the hospital. Having all these details worked out ahead of time will give you peace of mind now, and make your life so much easier on the big day.
  2. Bond with your hubby –¬†Your significant other has most likely been the most active and involved member of your pregnancy support system, and will continue to fill this role during¬†labor and delivery and throughout baby’s life. Enjoy date nights at your favorite places, and embrace the romance and excitement of this special time. And make sure to snuggle–your oxytocin will skyrocket, a trend that will continue after your little one enters into the world.
  3. Stay active –¬†I’m a huge advocate of staying fit during pregnancy, and the last weeks should be no exception. The All-Belly Pregnancy workouts, coupled with prenatal yoga and cardio, have been my fitness staples throughout pregnancy, and I’m still practicing both routines.¬†However, my cardio on the treadmill was becoming annoying because Baby C has descended and is pressing on my bladder, so in the last month, I’ve taken to swimming for 30 minutes three times a week as my cardio. In the last few weeks of pregnancy, listening to your body is more important than ever, so don’t be afraid to tweak your exercise regimen.
  4. Focus on accomplishment –¬†Throughout the last month of pregnancy, I have had an almost feverish creativity and drive to succeed. I just finished and released the last book of my Amish series, Amish Awakening: Rebekah and Braeden’s Book, and am promoting it hard-core. I also am nearly halfway finished writing the first book of my new YA Mermaid series, The Mermaid’s Curse. I feel so motivated to finish the book before Baby C arrives, and this desire is really spurring my work ethic and creativity. If you’re still working, make it a point to finish projects and give 100%. That way, you’ll be able to take your maternity leave on a high note, and transition smoothly back into the workforce when the time is right.
  5. ¬†Enjoy, enjoy –¬†Be thankful for all the beauty of these last golden weeks of pregnancy. Enjoy the baby’s kicks, the quality time with your family and friends, and the exhilaration this special time brings.

Moms-to-be out there, how are you optimizing your mindset in the prego home stretch? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Prepping for Baby: Hospital Tours

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The last few weeks of pregnancy remind me a bit of the final stages of planning a wedding–there’s a ton of¬†excitement and energy, and it seems like there are so many things to do! Luckily, I’m kind of a natural organizer, and Antonio and I have had a fabulous time prepping for Baby C: ordering last minute items from Amazon, figuring out the car seat and stroller situation, and washing all those adorable tiny little clothes and swaddle blankets. Our next project: packing our overnight bags for the hospital. Several of our friends have delivered before their due dates in the last few weeks, and we’re wondering whether Baby C will also arrive early,¬†following the cue of his/her future playmates, or decide to arrive fashionably late to the event of life. ūüėČ

Just like wedding planning, prepping for a baby can be mind-bending, and there’s always that danger of becoming bogged down in the minutiae. As an avid reader of pregnancy blogs, I’ve seen some trends that I just don’t get, like¬†writing out a totally specific down to the last detail birth plan when–guess what?!–there are some things that you just might not anticipate, and then you’ll have to leave it to the professionals anyway! However, one super-useful and often-overlooked preparation I’d recommend is a hospital tour–especially after Antonio and I had ours this past weekend.

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A word of caution: These things fill up fast, so plan accordingly. I had to call a month and a half in advance to book our tour, but it was so worth it. First,¬†Antonio and I discovered the parking areas at our hospital of choice, so there will be no “OMG, where do I park” scenario when we’re running on adrenaline. We also¬†turned in pre-registration papers, including our insurance information, which will facilitate our check-in. Our tour guide was knowledgable about the layout of the hospital and the entire birthing process, and we had ample time to ask questions and, in many cases, allay our fears. Hospital tours are a must for first-time parents; before we actually went on the tour, I’d imagined that it might be useless, and we’d probably just see a birthing room and leave, but I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Moms-to-be out there, have you taken a hospital tour? If so, what¬†aspects did you find most helpful? I’d love to hear your experiences!

Time Capsules: Looking Forward to Looking Back

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I have always been a huge fan of time capsules. There’s just something amazing about taking¬†a snapshot of our lives on any given day, knowing that it will be tucked away and revealed on a later date. Time capsules lend a sense of relevance to the present day, while promising to¬†bring back a glorious flood of memories in the future.

Recently, Antonio and I celebrated our 1-year wedding anniversary, and we opened the champagne bottle time capsule we’d made on our wedding night. A little background: At the reception, we’d placed 1-year and 10-year champagne bottle time capsules on the card table, and our friends and family had written down their anniversary wishes for us at the 1-year and 10-year anniversary marks and placed them in the respective bottles.

We had so much¬†fun breaking open the 1-year champagne bottle and reading the wishes. Check out the video we made here. Reading everyone’s wishes brought back such a wave of nostalgia, especially coupled with the fact that we’d just returned from visiting Chicago and seeing many of our friends who had written the messages.

Here I am on our 1-year wedding anniversary in Chicago, on some friends' rooftop at golden hour!

Here I am on our 1-year wedding anniversary in Chicago, on some friends’ rooftop at golden hour!

This got me thinking about how cool it would be to create a time capsule for Baby C–nothing special or time-consuming, just something simple and fun like the champagne bottles. So, I decided to write a note to Baby C. Antonio and I plan to present the note to Baby C as soon as he or she can read.

I am now at just over 35 weeks, and Baby C could decide to come along any day! In this time of blessed anticipation and preparation, it is my wish that our note to Baby C captures the immense love that surges through both of our hearts whenever we think of our little, soon-to-be-revealed cutie. I believe that writing time-capsule notes to our babies–while we’re still pregnant–can convey the optimism and beauty that so many of us feel during¬†our pregnancies, and I’m hoping that Baby C will cherish the note in years to come.

Preg moms out there: Have you ever thought of doing a time capsule for your baby? Has this blog post inspired you to write a note to your own soon-to-arrive little one? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

Planning a Gender Neutral Shower Part 2: The Aftermath

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Recently, I wrote a blog post about planning a gender neutral baby shower, and guess what? We just had the shower this past weekend, so now I can tell you everything I know about planning a gender neutral and fabulous soiree!

We decided to go the casual route: a backyard barbecue with about 20 guests. The theme was, of course, baby! Therefore, we had a platter of baby veggies (broccoli, carrots, tomatoes, etc), mini chicken drumsticks, baby burgers (aka sliders), and baby potatoes (aka tater tots). We also had the usual chips, crackers and hummus, exotic cheese plate, and my own personal favorite crabmeat avocados. Dessert was a baby watermelon and super-cute rattle pops made of Rice Krispies. I would definitely recommend this recipe–my bestie Janice and I made the pops and¬†some mini treats without sticks the night before, and the morning of the shower, we drizzled them in melted Godiva white chocolate and doused them in sprinkles. They made an adorable display with shiny, Tiffany-blue gumballs from Target.

Rice Krispie rattles and decorative gumballs are super-fun, easy, and yummy shower treats!

Rice Krispie rattles and decorative gumballs are super-fun, easy, and yummy shower treats!

For decorations, we went crazy with paper lanterns in the theme colors (white, yellow, and Tiffany-blue), and created yellow and white balloon flowers for the staircase. I also made a silver “Welcome Baby C” banner, since I didn’t like any of the ones you could order. I made the letters myself, cutting them out of silver wrapping paper. Then, I cut backing out of sheets of thick drawing paper and used a glue stick (so second grade, I know!) to mount the wrapping paper letters on the drawing paper. After that, all I had to do was tape the letters to two Tiffany-blue ribbons, and we were golden.

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We had planned quite a few shower games, and had even made favors: boxes of candy in paper towel diaper holders. We didn’t end up playing all the games, but we did bring down a white board, on which we wrote¬†“Guess Baby C’s Gender.” Then, everyone voted¬†“Boy,” “Girl” or “Other.” The guests voted girl by a narrow margin, so we’ll have to see. ūüôā We also bought sippy cups at the dollar store (Bonus: We can use them later on for Baby C.), and filled them with beer for a brief college-style chugging game with a couple of the guys. Funny, we thought we came up with this idea, but it was all over Pinterest!

The party lasted from 3 PM until 1:30 in the morning! After dark, we brought out glow jewelry and glow sticks, and the shower turned into an all-out party, with dance music and dress-up karaoke. It was awesome that we had some leftover chicken drumsticks and rattle pops for late-night eating!

And finally, a word about the registry. We used Amazon, and it rocks–seriously! Some guests opted to have their gifts delivered directly to our house, while others had the presents shipped to their own addresses and brought them to the shower. But regardless, everything that was ordered arrived on time and looked just like the pictures! We loved everything, so I can’t attest to the ease of returns, but the ordering and delivery processes were seamless. Also, as I mentioned in Part 1 of this blog post, Amazon has a “Thank You Note” section that makes writing thank yous so easy.

The amazing thing about the baby stuff we ordered was that it matched the decor of the party, and the items matched each other. Gender neutral stuff is so easy to find, and so cute!

Moms-to-be out there, have you had your baby shower yet? What were some of the highlights? I’d love to share in the celebration with you!