It’s 2018, so we like to use letterboards for just about everything, including telling the world our baby news!
It’s probably cliche to say I gave birth to another baby today when what I really mean is my first book is available for pre-sale on Amazon. (Edited to add: Available now via Amazon and Barnes & Noble!)
That’s what everyone says, right? Yeah, well, there’s something to it. The sleepless nights, the nerves, the anticipation, the excitement, the poor eating habits… it was certainly a labor of love.
My baby is just weeks away from turning one, making this year the slowest fastest year of my life. I feel like the days leading up to his December 21st birth were only moments away, but I also feel like I’ve aged 10 years since then.
Are you creating a baby registry anytime soon? Did you already set one up over at Target.com after my last post about how AMAZING and easy it is to do so?
Okay, cool! Maybe you are totally confident in the stuff you’re putting on there, or maybe, like I was when I registered for my first baby, you are SUPER overwhelmed. Either way, I want to share 6 things I would totally put on a baby registry right this minute, in partnership with Target.
This post is sponsored by P&G but all opinions are my own.
So you’re going to have a baby! Welcome to parenthood! You have the next 19ish years to overcomplicate everything, and you probably will. I mean, you’re going to stress about what foods to feed your baby, how to get your toddler to sleep better, what to gift your preschooler’s teacher after she hands you a bag of poop-filled underwear when you swore your daughter was potty trained… and so on.
There’s plenty of time to stress over every. little. thing. So do yourself a favor and don’t start yet.
I’m going to guess maybe you’re a little excited to start nesting, getting things in order, and to create a baby registry. Am I right? I hope I am because that’s a pretty fun part of having a baby. You SHOULD have fun with that.
When I was pregnant with my first baby, I couldn’t get enough birth stories. I stayed up all night, sitting in front of my computer, scrolling message boards and blogs and reading any and all birth stories I could find.
A lot has changed since those old timey days. We have smart phones for staying up late, scrolling the internet. And podcasts aplenty, so we can pour the wonder of collective online voices straight into our ears. The future is now. I like it.
A couple weeks ago, the topic of my weekly Facebook Live Playgroup was “Shake Off The Mom Frump” with my dear friend Tiffany Reese. (If you missed it, you should give it a watch. Tiff and I share all our fav. mom beauty products.) Recently, I got an email from a pregnant mom who was wondering if I had any similar tips for getting through early pregnancy frump.
My very first OBGYN’s office was lined with framed magazine pages and plaques. The Best Of The Best! Top 10 Best OBGYNs! Another Important Award! I can’t remember exactly how I chose this office, but I do remember feeling really proud of (smug about) that choice when I saw all these accolades at my first visit.
When I was 20 weeks pregnant, I sat in the award-winning OBGYNs office, and I said to the “accomplished” male doctor who appeared to be in his 60s, “I’ve been thinking about trying for a med-free birth. Do you know where I should start as far as books to read or classes to take?”
He shrugged his shoulders, swatted his hand in the air like I was a fly, and said, “You know who gives birth without meds? Cows. We’ve come a long way from having to give birth like a cow. You don’t want to give birth like a cow.”
And that was the exact moment in my head that I told myself, “WELP. No way this asshole is getting anywhere near my vagina again.”
Shortly after, I found a local Bradley Method class, and the instructors told me about a lovely midwife practice in the neighboring suburb. They delivered in a hospital! I had no idea midwives did such a thing.
And so, halfway through my first pregnancy, I left a practice that I knew wouldn’t support me in labor the way I wanted them to. I’m really glad that doctor was so blatant about his disinterest in helping me through a med-free birthing experience. That would have been an awful thing to discover at 5 cm dilated.
I went on to have the best birth experience for me– a med-free birth in a hospital with a midwife.
That wasn’t the only time I’d have to leave a practice mid-pregnancy. Not even close.
We moved to Texas shortly after our first was born, and when I got pregnant again, I specifically sought out a practice that offered midwives who delivered in a hospital. I found one that came highly recommended. The midwife on staff had amazing reviews. At my first appointment, I learned she had left for a practice in Fort Worth, but the OBGYN who saw me instead assured me that they would be hiring a new midwife soon, and I’d be seeing her regularly by 20 weeks, for sure.
By the time 20 weeks rolled around, there was still no new midwife hired, and they could no longer say for sure they would have one. That, coupled with the many suggestions that I go ahead and plan to induce before Christmas (my due date was 12/24), made me uneasy enough to change practices again.
The good news is this lead me to a really lovely midwife who delivered at a hospital downtown. I saw her for the last half of my 2nd pregnancy, and I wound up with another wonderful med-free birth experience when she delivered my daughter.
I saw her through nearly all of my 3rd pregnancy, too… until she was let go from the OBGYN practice she worked for because of a situation that, to me, was a clear case of a midwife doing what midwives do- striving to help mothers birth with as few interventions as possible in a safe way- in conflict with an OBGYNs office and hospital system that doesn’t always align with that approach.
I was nearly 35 weeks pregnant and faced with either staying in that practice that clearly did not support midwifery care and possibly wouldn’t support me, or find a new midwife at another practice. As stressful as it was so late in the game, the obvious choice was to leave.
For the 3rd time, the practice I began my pregnancy with did not end up being the one I ended with, but just like the last 2 times, the move was worth it. I had a 3rd med-free hospital birth with my midwife when I delivered Lowell. And then I got to keep that same midwife all the way through my 4th pregnancy, and she delivered Wallace, too! It was pretty nice to make it through an entire pregnancy without having to look for another provider for once.
As I wrote Wallace’s birth story, I thought about how lucky I’ve been to have all the great birth experiences I’ve had. And then I thought, well, was it all luck? No. So much of that was because I advocated for myself, up to the point of leaving 3 practices when I felt they wouldn’t support me the way I needed them to.
Here’s the thing- it’s not ok for your OBGYN to brush off your wish to birth med-free. It’s not cool for a practice to pressure you to schedule an induction for no reason other than “You’ll be home in time for Christmas!” There are a ton of things that birth professionals do that may make you feel uneasy, no matter how many awards they’ve won, and no matter what kind of birth experience you want.
Yeah, advocating for yourself isn’t just for moms who want to birth med-free. I honestly can’t imagine that first OBGYN I saw would have had any kind of bedside manner after a c-section, either.
If the OB or MW you’re seeing makes you feel uncomfortable, unheard, small, or stupid, I encourage you to think real hard about getting the hell out of that practice- right up to the very end if you need to. Go to the next town if there’s nobody else near you. I’ve driven as far as 45 minutes for my appointments and given birth at hospitals nearly an hour away.
And if all else fails, and you’re stuck, look into at least hiring a doula.
You deserve to feel supported and to respect and connect with, if not love, the person who helps you bring your babies into this world- no matter if they are an OBGYN or a midwife. I want you to have the best birth experience possible. You can’t control how it will happen, but you can surround yourself with great people.
I think it’s always fun to hear how people come up with baby names, so I thought it would be cool to share how we came up with all 4 of ours with you.
I actually really dislike naming babies. It’s a lot of pressure! We always end up with names that I love, though. It just takes us a full 9 months to get there.
Even when we’ve had a pretty strong feeling that we like a name from early on, I still never want to tell anyone. We haven’t revealed names, not even a short list we’re considering, until after baby is born. I highly recommend this method if, like me, pregnant rage makes you passionately dislike other people’s unsolicited opinions about all things baby.
The first boy’s name we fell in love with when I was pregnant with our first was Eli. We were mostly set on Eli… and then one of Scott’s friends had a boy and named him Eli. We weren’t even super close with them, but it was just… not our name anymore. At 6 months pregnant, we were back to square one. I thought maybe a name starting with a K would be fun. I started rattling off boy names that started with a K, and when I got to Kendall Scott stopped me and declared “That’s the one!”
I wasn’t totally sold on it, and thought we should go into birth with a couple options. I know we had some others picked out, but I honestly can’t remember them now. Right after I had Kendall, someone asked what the name was. I was way too tired to fight it. Scott declared Kendall was it, and we went with that.
I should note that at the time I only knew boys/men named Kendall. I’d heard it was also a girls name, but figured it was like Ryan or Jordan and could go either way. Every now and then Kendall will mention that the only other Kendalls in his school are girls, but it really doesn’t seem to be causing him lasting damage. I can’t imagine calling him anything else.
His middle name is my dad’s mom’s maiden name/his grandparent’s last name. He was raised mostly by his mom’s parents, and his grandfather lived with us for a few years when I was very young. I have lovely memories of Grandpa Milam, and wanted to honor him.
Before we learned that our first was a boy, I saw the name Leyna in a baby name book- back when people still looked at books with real pages for baby name ideas- and loved it. It was German (and, obviously, my husband’s family- Krause- is German), and meant “little angel.” I tucked it away as a future possibility, and it was all I could like when I was pregnant with her.
I wondered if I should change the spelling to something phonetic, like Laina, but the original German spelling was what spoke to me most.
Again, I know we had at least one other first name option, but I can’t remember what it was.
Her middle name was originally going to be Reese, but, once more, a friend was pregnant with a little girl and announced that they would name her Reese. So I scrapped it and tried to find something that had a little more meaning to us. I loved that Kendall’s middle name had a story behind it.
My pregnancy with Leyna was the first one that I experienced Pica. I craved rocks! I wound up choosing Lorelei because it’s the name of a large, steep rock on the Rhine river in Germany. Doesn’t get more perfect than that.
I’ve written about how we got Lowell’s name before, but the short story is I saw it in the credits of Parenthood early on in pregnancy and immediately fell in love with it. I loved it so much I was afraid to offer it up to Scott, afraid he’d veto. Nope. He LOVED it even more. In fact, this is the only time we didn’t have an alternate name picked out- at least for a boy.
This was the only pregnancy we didn’t find out what we were having, so we also had to have girl names. Among our contenders? ELSA. This was July, 2013. Frozen came out a few months later. COULD YOU EVEN IMAGINE? Another name we considered early on? Alexa. OMG. Ultimately, though, we went in thinking we’d name a little girl June Robin. June because… Scott loved it? And I was at a total loss. Robin after a family name on my mom’s side-Robinson.
It was a boy, and we knew immediately he was Lowell. Middle name Scott because, well, that’s his daddy’s name, and we thought he was our last, and I thought it would be nice to give one of them their dad’s name.
Little did we know he’d be Scott’s mini!
We unintentionally started a bit of a trend. All the kids had an L or two in their first name, so I liked the idea of continuing that with the 4th.
Early on, I liked the name Adler. Scott was lukewarm about it, but I thought he might come to love it. Then we remembered there’s a personal injury lawyer- Jim Adler- here in Dallas with mega obnoxious commercials, and that kinda spoiled it for us. I did keep it on the list up to the very end, though, and still really like the name minus the association.
Marshall was also up for consideration, and then a friend had a baby early in November and named him Marshall. Again, kept it on the list, but it wasn’t a top contender.
I mentioned Wallace to Scott a few weeks before I went into labor, and he declared it the winner. I still wasn’t sold until I read a common nickname for it is Ace. I don’t want people to call him Wally (unless that’s what he wants), so I wanted another nickname option.
We still call him Wallace almost exclusively, though. We’ll see if he grows into Ace or ends up staying Wallace.
His middle name was the hardest middle name to settle on of all of them. I knew I wanted it to be meaningful to us, and considered names like Truman or Jesse to honor Mizzou, where Scott and I both went to college and met. Scott vetoed both, though, and neither of those sounded good with Wallace.
Finally, about a week before I had him, I offered up Austin, and Scott gave the thumbs up. We technically got married in Bee Caves, TX, but it’s a suburb of Austin, and we’ve always had a soft spot for Austin, TX.
I love looking back at the evolution of naming the kids. If I had to pick names for all 4 before I even had my first, I never would have come up with what we have now. They certainly aren’t the names I used to practice writing in high school – do all 16 year old girls do that?
The older I got, the harder it got to name babies because I simply knew too many people and had too many name associations built up. And I’m not even a teacher!
Tell me about your baby naming evolution!
Scott got to the hospital a little after I got checked into a labor room. I think sometime around 8:30. He was excited to discover a Blues hockey game on TV. We cut cable long ago, and he usually has to listen to the game via a radio app.
Like old birthing pros, we chilled in the room with no sense of urgency. Him watching the game, me giving the yoga ball a half effort. I thought I should at least attempt to move labor along, though I doubted it would do much.
There was no rushing to set up battery operated candles or fill the room with calming music. We laughed at how mundane the routine had become.
Around 10 I decided to try to get some sleep. I requested extra blankets and reclined in the not super comfortable labor bed. I don’t know that I ever really managed to fall into a deep sleep, but I rested off and on for the next couple hours. By then, my contractions were coming every 5 ish minutes, but only 2 or 3 an hour were uncomfortable until about midnight.
I rejoiced when it was past midnight because I knew that bought us an extra night at the hospital. Kendall, my first, was born at 12:30 in the morning, so we technically got 3 nights at the hospital since the first night didn’t really count, and I was looking forward to the same scenario.
I LOVE our hospital (Baylor Scott White in McKinney, TX for those wondering). It’s like a hotel. I also have 3 other kids at home, and 3 dogs, and was in no rush at all to get out of there. Call me crazy, but I’ll take a nurse checking on me every 3 hours over 3 kids “checking” on me every 30 minutes.
Scott remarked around this time that we’d “probably have a baby by 5 in the morning” and he wondered if he should drive home before or after the morning rush hour to shower and get the big kids. I laughed in his face. “A whole lot is going to have to happen really fast for us to have a baby by then. That’s not going to happen, so don’t worry about it.”
From about midnight to 1:30 my contractions became more consistent and uncomfortable. I was having to breathe through every one by the time I called the nurse in to come check me again a little before 2. I was hoping this was a sign of a little bit of progress- at least enough to ease my fears about having to start Pitocin when the sun came up.
When she told me I was still at a 4, I felt like all my worst fears were validated. I sat on the bed, crying, convinced that I really couldn’t handle the pain of contractions after my water broke.
I remember a previous midwife telling me that your bag of water cushions things, and makes contractions more manageable, and I’ve always believed in that fully because once my water does break (usually at 8 cm), all hell breaks loose and it really, really fucking hurts. (Though this is always the start of transition for me, too.)
I cried because these contractions didn’t feel like 4 cm contractions. I was doomed.
Meanwhile, Scott the badass dad pro asked the nurse to get the shower ready. If you read my last birth story, you may remember that I labored with Lowell in an AH-MAZING shower with a million lovely shower heads. It’s a heavenly set up. So I agreed to head that way, wiping my tears on my hospital gown as I took it off.
I remember the nurse saying something like, “I have a feeling you’re starting something, not stalling.” Of course, I assumed this was a lie to get me to calm down.
As soon as I sat down, my contractions started coming on super strong and super fast, with only about 30 seconds between them. And I began my first ever campaign for an epidural.
In my mind, I was in for this kind of pain for the next 6 hours, and then they’d inevitably start me on Pitocin, and hell if I was going to go through all that only to wind up with an epidural then. Fuck that. I wanted it it asap. I just wanted to sleep.
This visibly shocked Scott for a minute, and he tried to talk some sense into me. He knew I had to be progressing. And looking back, DUH, but in that moment I was just like, STFU, and tell the damn nurse to get the damn anesthesiologist.
The nurse, also clearly knowing what was actually happening with me, asked if she could check me again. Then I heard her ask the other nurse to call my midwife and tell her to head in. I thought that was dumb and mean because my poor midwife needed sleep and I wasn’t ever going to have my baby anyway.
It had only been 20 minutes since she last checked me, but I figured sure. They could check me, and I’d still be at a 4, and then they could all leave me alone and let me get the epidural.
Good plan! Except I was at an 8.
OH. Turns out it hurts REAL bad to go from a 4 to an 8 in 20 minutes.
My mood improved greatly for a little bit. I was no longer in uncharted waters. It’s like I finally had a map in a language I understood. 8 cm and my water’s broken? This I could do. This I knew. I wasn’t going to like it, but I’d been there.
I didn’t want an epidural anymore, which is good because there wouldn’t have been time anyway. I asked the nurse to fill the labor tub for me and she was like, “Girl, no. I’m sorry. We don’t have time for that.”
So back into the shower I went, just in time for the holy-shit-why-did-you-do-this-AGAIN contractions. I have no idea what time this was… maybe I was in there from 3 to 3:30 ish? I don’t have a good grasp on time at this point.
My good mood faded, and this marked the beginning of the part of labor that feels like I’m being dragged against my will. Like, if you’re being dragged through a field of thorns, the worst thing you can do is flail and kick and fight (I’d imagine). You just have to relax into it, don’t fight it.
Dumb, lacking analogies aside, this is the part that really sucks. And I knew that. I knew that the only way out was through, and I did everything I could to let my body take over and do what it could. I didn’t like it. I cried. But I knew what I had to do.
After a few really hard contractions, I started to feel a little like pushing. I was suddenly real glad my nurse had the foresight to call my midwife in. They got me out of the shower and moved me to a birth stool. My midwife walked in after one or two contractions there, and after a couple more I knew I was going to need to push soon.
I had the option to stay on the birth stool, but I’ve only ever pushed my babies while sitting in the bed, and I needed that familiarity. I moved to the bed between contractions, and with the very next one the rest of my water broke (the first break was only a small tear), and gushed everywhere.
I dreaded what was coming next, but again, more dragging and giving up control, and just knowing I had to get through it for it to be over. Pushing, for me, is super awful. I can’t recall exactly how awful because that’s how nature tricks us into keeping our species going, but I do know that every time I’ve been there, I’ve made a mental note that it’s the absolute worst pain I’ve ever experienced in my life.
The positive to this is that I am a fucking boss at pushing by now. I do. not. fuck. around. I pushed for about 20 minutes with my first, 2 pushes with my 2nd, my 3rd was born with one push.
And just like the last time, I began to push and would not let up until he was out. This one was also born with only one push. I paused briefly after his head crowned and then again to slow down his shoulders – like a damn PRO, not needing anyone to remind me.
I still screamed like someone was ripping me in half from the inside, though.
I remember the nurses kept telling me to look down and meet my baby, but I am the least sentimental person when I’m trying to get a human out of me. I would meet him soon enough. I needed to focus. I needed to close my eyes and get the job done.
And then, there he was, and it was immediate relief. I cried.
Not just because labor was over, but because the whole dang thing was- the pregnancy, the anxiety about labor. It was all finally behind me. “You did it!” everyone kept cheering. They had no idea how much I doubted that I could.
“I can do hard things,” I thought to myself as I looked down to finally meet my baby.
2016 tried to dismantle me, and I’m not talking about all the celebrity deaths. It pushed me and picked at me in a lot of ways I won’t get into here. But with 10 days left, at 4:59 am, 2016 gave me Wallace Austin Krause- 9 lbs 1 oz, 21.5 inches long- and reminded me I can still do hard things.