Funfetti Cookie Giveaway!

Happy Sunday!

I haven’t done a giveaway here on Curiouser & Curiouser in a while, so I figured it was time for one. Since it’s springtime and the weather is getting warm and everything feels more optimistic overall, I felt like Funfetti Cookies were the way to go for sure. I mean, how could one of these cookies NOT make your day just a little more awesome?

To enter to win to have a batch of these homemade cookies delivered right to your doorstep, all you have to do is:

  • Make sure you’re following me on Instagram
  • Follow my blog (you can do this by clicking on the “Follow me on bloglovin'” button toward the top left of this post, just under the header)
  • Comment on this post (within the blog post, not on Facebook or Instagram) that you’ve completed these two easy steps

That’s it! Simple, right? (Can’t you practically taste those cookies now…?)

Be on the lookout for me to announce the giveaway winner on Wednesday, April 26. Enter now, and good luck!

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Friday Favorites

Another Friday, and you know what that means — it’s Friday Favorites time over here at Curiouser & Curiouser!

Kevin and I have enjoyed another week with our Maggie-girl. (I can’t believe it’s been three weeks already since we got to meet her! She’s getting more fun and interactive by the day.) We loved having Kevin’s parents in town last weekend to help us celebrate Maggie’s first Easter, too.

Here are some of my favorite pictures of our girl from this past week:

Another highlight from this past week was getting cleared by my midwife to start taking Pure Barre classes again. I’d missed them so much, and it’s felt amazing to get back to the barre. Because I’d taken classes so late into my pregnancy (I took class until midway through my 41st week), it was easy to get back to it. I’ve been SO incredibly thankful for this workout for years, and having it to rely on throughout my pregnancy and now during my postpartum phase has only reinforced that more.

Now on to my Friday Favorites!:

  • My friend Micheal (pronounced “Michelle”) makes THE BEST FUDGE. It’s incredible. It’s her mom’s recipe, and she makes it for special events (and sometimes just because, which is SUCH a treat). It melts in your mouth and is truly memorable. Thankfully for everyone out there, she just launched an Etsy store to sell her fudge. If you have an event coming up and are looking for a favor, this is the perfect thing! (I mean, come on. How can you resist this stuff?):

  • I picked up a few books to read while I’m on maternity leave, and among them are a couple by Liane Moriarty, the Australian author who penned Big Little Lies, among many other books. I’m about three-quarters of the way through Three Wishes, which is about a set of triplet sisters, and am loving it so far. (Big Little Lies is up next!) I’ve had several friends recommend this author and was glad to finally dive into one of her books.

  • I LOVE having fresh flowers at the house, and try to replenish our supply every weekend. My go-to flower source is, hands down, Trader Joe’s. They always have a beautiful selection (much better than any other grocery store I’ve seen) at great prices. Their flowers tend to last a long time, too, which is another plus!

  • Kevin and I have been enjoying Green Chef (thanks for the free trial, Michelle and Alex!) this week. We’ve been impressed with the quality of the food, and I feel like the recipes are quicker and easier to prep than other meal subscription services I’ve tried. Plus, the ingredients are all organic, so we feel great about things from that perspective as well. Here’s the Arroz Con Pollo we made Wednesday night. Yum!:

Hope y’all have a wonderful weekend ahead!

 

 

 

 

What Should I Blog About?

Happy Tuesday, y’all!

Lately, I’ve been blogging about lots of pregnancy- and baby-related things (which makes sense, given what’s going on in my life at the moment), but wanted to take a minute to get a feel for what you guys enjoy reading here on Curiouser & Curiouser.

When I started this blog, I intentionally wanted to make it a place that could house a wide variety of topics. After all, I’m interested in lots of different things, so I didn’t want to pigeonhole myself into a certain theme. That’s been a great fit for me so far, and I’ve enjoyed getting to write about everything from Toffee Crunch Cookie recipes (consistently my most popular post) to Iceland travel tips to my daughter’s birth story and lots and lots in between.

With topics so wide ranging, though, I’m interested to know what y’all like reading the most:

  • Do you like posts with recipes? If so, what kind? Baked goods? Healthy eats?
  • Do you prefer posts about health and wellness/working out (e.g., Pure Barre)?
  • Maybe baby-related content is up your alley?
  • What about fashion- and beauty product-related topics?
  • Perhaps Winston-Salem and travel posts are your jam?
  • Etc.?

Let me know what you’d like to see more of on Curiouser & Curiouser by either leaving a comment on this blog post or shooting me an email at annaskeller@gmail.com. Thanks in advance for your suggestions! I love hearing from my readers (and am so appreciative of each of you, too). 

Friday Favorites

Time for Friday Favorites, y’all! But first — a few favorite photos of Maggie from this week. (I know, I know. But I’m a first-time mom and she’s SO CUTE AND TINY! I just can’t fight the surge of picture-taking-and-sharing hormones.):

Okay, now we can get on to my favorites for this week:

  • I treated myself to these adorable Nikes just after Maggie was born and am so glad I did! I knew she and I would be taking many walks in the weeks to come, and these are the perfect kicks for that kind of outing. (Plus, I feel like it’s absurdly hard to find cute, simple black sneakers, so when I saw these I just had to pull the trigger.)

  • While my sister, Susan, was in town this past week (she spent Tuesday and Wednesday here with us and it was so much fun!), she and I whipped up a batch of this popcorn I’d read about on a friend’s Instagram. It is SO GOOD! I plan on making another batch of it this afternoon.

Recipe:

  • Pop 5 cups air-popped popcorn (I used this Thrive Market brand and popped it with coconut oil — yum!).
  • Toss with 2 Tablespoons melted butter (I used ghee) and 1/4 cup maple syrup to coat kernels.
  • Add a generous amount of cinnamon to taste, along with four packets of Stevia (I used Whole Earth sweetener, which is a Stevia/monk fruit combo), 1/4 cup sunflower seeds, 1 Tablespoon chia seeds, and 1 Tablespoon flax seeds. I had some pine nuts, so I threw in some of those as well. Toss to coat evenly.
  • Top off with kosher salt to taste, and enjoy by the handful!
  • A recent obsession of mine is sleeping with a silk pillowcase. I’d read about how it’s so much better for your skin and hair than a traditional pillowcase, and so I snagged this inexpensive one from Amazon to give it a try. I’m totally sold, and at some point would love to upgrade to a nicer version (like this one, which I’ve heard great things about).

  • These Kirkland brand protein bars from Costco have been a favorite of mine for a while, but I love them even more these days, when sometimes I just need a nourishing snack pronto. I keep a couple (along with a few Larabars — also a fave) in Maggie’s diaper bag as well as in my purse so I’ll have them on hand if needed. With just one gram of sugar, 190 calories, and 21 grams of protein, I feel good about eating these. (The chocolate chip cookie dough flavor is the best, as far as I’m concerned, but the brownie kind is good, too!)

  • I made a batch of these funfetti cookies for our Easter egg hunt this weekend and was reminded of how, well, FUN they are! I thought they seemed like an especially springy treat.

Hope everyone has a great Easter weekend ahead! Kevin’s parents are coming in town for the weekend, and we have an Easter egg hunt and a 2-year-old’s birthday party on our calendar as well. (Wow — I do sound like a mom, huh?) 🙂

 

 

Pregnancy Wellness Recommendations

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I was incredibly fortunate to have had a wonderfully easy pregnancy with Maggie. I loved being pregnant, in fact: I felt good and had lots of energy, and was largely able to keep up with my regular routine. Plus, emotionally I was on a high for 42 weeks (minus some freak outs there at the end when she was so late!) and was generally just excited to be able to have such a special experience.

No two pregnancies are alike, of course, and different people have different goals when it comes to what they hope their pregnancy and birth experiences look like, but I thought I’d share a few elements that I’m confident made my pregnancy an especially happy, healthy one:

  • Choosing midwifery care over a standard OB practice. I can’t say enough positive things about the midwifery practice we chose as our care provider, Novant Health Midwifery Associates. (For those in the Triad, definitely consider this practice not only for your pre-natal care but for general gynecological care as well. Everyone there is amazingly kind, and you’ll get personalized care that will leave you feeling heard and supported.) Kevin and I started this pregnancy at a standard OB office (one of those offices with tons of doctors, so you might not get to meet the person who actually ends up delivering your baby) and didn’t have any complaints about the care we received, but we ultimately switched to the midwife practice because we were looking for more involved care providers, for a practice we knew would support our plans for an intervention-free birth, and for a place that was smaller so we’d be able to get to know all the people who could potentially be delivering Maggie. A bonus for us, too, was the fact that our midwifery practice is currently the only practice allowed to implement water labor at Forsyth Medical Center (something we were excited about but didn’t get to take advantage of — more about that here, if you’re interested).
  • Hiring a doula. After hearing a few friends rave about the doula support they received during their labor and delivery and reading the stats behind how having doula care during pregnancy, labor, and postpartum can make for a better outcome (fewer pre-term births, fewer c-sections, higher Apgar scores, etc.), I was sold. A friend recommended Natural Baby Doulas, a three-person team out of Greensboro, and we were so happy with the care we received from Sarah, Jessica, and Christina. We got to know Sarah well, as she taught our birth class, and we met with both Jessica and Christina separately in our home as well to talk about what we hoped our birth experience would look like, postpartum tips, what their labor support styles were like, etc. They were extremely helpful, particularly in the weeks after Maggie’s due date when we were trying everything to get labor going and I was feeling pretty discouraged from time to time. Jessica ended up being the doula on call for Maggie’s birth and she was amazing.
  • Taking a birth class. Of course, there are lots of options when it comes to birth classes. Hospitals always offer classes, and there are tons of other options in other environments, too. Kevin and I opted to take a 12-week Bradley Method class with Sarah Carter, one of the doulas from our doula group. We learned so much during that three-month period about different birth scenarios and the pros and cons of each, ways to cope with pain during labor, pregnancy nutrition tips, and so much more. Plus, we got close with the other students in our class and have loved staying in touch now that all our babies have been born! Taking this class made Kevin and me feel a thousand times more confident going into the birth experience. I wanted to have an intervention-free birth experience (and thankfully was able to), but above all I wanted to take this class so Kevin and I would feel armed with good information so we would feel in control, regardless of the birth experience. This class definitely helped us achieve that goal.
  • Staying active throughout my pregnancy (specifically: doing Pure Barre the whole time). I was super lucky in that I never felt sick while I was pregnant. I was definitely really tired during my first trimester and struggled a bit with off and on dizziness about midway through my pregnancy, but aside from that I felt much like myself. That made it easy for me to stick with my pre-pregnancy workout routine, and I continued to take Pure Barre classes until 41 weeks (and taught through about 38 weeks). I’m completely confident that doing Pure Barre all those weeks helped to make my pregnancy exponentially better. I never experienced back pain (which I know had to do with the core and back work Pure Barre incorporates) and kept my weight gain down (I put on 18 pounds in total), both of which I credit Pure Barre with. I even wrote about my PB + pregnancy routine for Beyond Yoga’s blog. If you’re up for this workout while you’re pregnant, DO IT. I can’t recommend it enough. (I can’t WAIT to get back to class!)

  • Visiting a chiropractor regularly. This recommendation came from a few friends as well as our Bradley class, and I’m so glad I made chiropractic care part of my pregnancy routine during my third trimester. (It’s not something I was doing prior to my pregnancy.) Maggie’s birth was quick and pushing was fast and easy, and I have to think a portion of that had to do with the fact that I’d made sure my pelvis, spine, etc. were in alignment prior to her being born.

Other mamas out there: What did you incorporate into your pregnancy that you feel made it a better experience?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maggie’s Newborn Photo Shoot

Earlier this week, Kevin and I spent the morning with the talented Sarah Shinsky, who captured photos of Maggie (and us) while our daughter is so very tiny. We wanted to be sure to commemorate this special time and knew Sarah was the perfect person to do it. (She also took our maternity photos, which I love so much!)

We lucked out, and Maggie was awake and alert for most of the shoot. I adore these photos, and know we’ll treasure them even more as Maggie continues to grow and change. (I’m glad Fulton was included in some, too!)

Here are some of my favorite shots. (It was hard to narrow them down to just these. There’s a LOT of Maggie cuteness happening in these photos!):

My Postpartum Necessities

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Kevin and I have loved these first few days home with our Maggie-girl. They’ve been so special, and we’ve lucked out with what seems to be an easy baby so far. She’s content most of the time, and seems intent on taking in the world around her in a wide-eyed way. To say we’re obsessed is truly an understatement. (You can read her birth story here.)

In addition to keeping this tiny human alive, I’ve been navigating the oh-so fun physical postpartum realities, and thought I’d share a few products that have been really helpful during that process so far. I have to say, I expected recovery to be much more painful and difficult to deal with than I’ve experienced to date (thank goodness!). There have definitely been some weird symptoms that I didn’t expect (postpartum night sweats weren’t on my radar, for example), but all in all I’ve been pleased with how well things have been going.

Here are some products* I’ve been loving since coming home with our daughter. (*I have a handful of other — more, ahem, bathroom-related postpartum product suggestions — should anyone be interested in hearing about those! Feel free to shoot me an email — annaskeller@gmail.com — and I’d be happy to share those with any soon-to-be mamas out there!)

Here goes:

  • Hospital bag: Less is more. I guess this is technically a postpartum suggestion, since you tend to dig into your hospital bag after your baby is born. Before packing my bag, I spent a good amount of time online reading about suggested items to pack. I tend to be an over packer anyway, and my hospital bag certainly reflected that trend. I had nursing bras, nursing tanks, a robe, slippers, multiple pairs of socks, a couple of outfits, two pairs of pajamas, toiletries galore, make-up, snacks, etc. All I can say is, the next time I have a baby I’ll be packing much lighter for the hospital. In my opinion, all you need are a couple of nursing bras, a toothbrush and toothpaste, some dry shampoo, an outfit to leave the hospital in, an outfit for the baby to come home in, and maybe some socks (I was hot the whole time, so I never used mine). Oh, and snacks for sure (things along the lines of protein bars). Seriously — that’s it. I wanted to wear the hospital gown the whole time because it’s easy and you don’t have to mess up any of your own clothes. I waited to get home to shower (I sponged off at the hospital) and definitely didn’t wear any make-up or wash my hair.
  • Nursing tanks: I’ve been living in these tanks from Target (I have six black ones) and have loved them so far! They’re great to wear underneath any other pieces, and I prefer the full coverage of a tank versus a nursing bra. I’ve found them to fit true to size (I wear a small).

  • Nipple balm: If you plan on nursing, you’re definitely going to need some sort of balm (especially early on — ouch!). I’ve loved this organic Honest Co. version, and like that it’s essentially made of sunflower, coconut, and olive oils. You might want to go ahead and stock up so you have a jar in each place you nurse. (I have three: one in the living room, one in Maggie’s nursery, and one on my bedside table.) Be generous with this stuff — you won’t regret it!

  • Belly Bandit: I started wearing this the day after giving birth, and really feel like it made a difference in encouraging my core to start to go back to its pre-pregnancy shape. Plus, the added core support in those early days felt great (and left me feeling more confident in my clothes).

  • Reusable water bottle: I’m a fan of the 25-ounce S’well bottle myself, but the brand obviously isn’t important. Just be sure you have a reusable bottle you can have with you as much as possible. It’s SO important to be drinking tons of water if you’re breastfeeding, but staying hydrated helps aid in your physical recovery as well. Drink up! (Oh, and I love this app for tracking my daily water intake. It helps me ensure I’m reaching my hydration goals each day.)

  • Placenta encapsulation: This one’s definitely not for everyone, but since learning about it a few months ago I knew I wanted to give it a try. I worked with one of the women from our doula group (she also taught our Bradley Method birth class) to get my placenta encapsulated and have been taking the pills since day three postpartum. There’s not significant research to back up the effectiveness of this practice, but I’ve heard enough anecdotal reports from women who have tried it (especially those who didn’t do it with their first child and then tried it for the second) to make me think it’s worth it. I’m not sure if this would have been the case without the placenta pills, but emotionally I’ve felt completely and totally like myself — happy, no mood swings, no crying — just totally normal.

  • Milkies milk saver: As it turns out, I produce a good amount of milk (which was great to discover!). I’ve loved this handy contraption to help catch extra milk so it won’t go to waste. I have about a dozen bottles’ worth of milk already stored away in our freezer, and I haven’t started pumping yet. Score!

Fellow new mamas: What products did you fall in love with postpartum? Any tips to share?

 

 

Maggie’s Birth Story

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Fair warning: Long post ahead! I wanted to make this an all-encompassing place to document our daughter’s arrival into the world.

I’m so excited to be able to share Maggie’s birth story here! Throughout my pregnancy, I found myself actively seeking out birth stories from other moms. Among my rotation of pregnancy- and parenting-related podcasts, The Birth Hour — which is nothing but women telling their birth stories — was far and away my favorite. We had two couples visit our birth class and share their experiences. I loved hearing friends talk about their own babies’ births.

My key takeaway from all these curated accounts? Everyone’s birth story is different, and very few are predictable.

I became so curious as to how our birth story, then, would play out. Thankfully, that main emotion of curiosity — rather than fear or dread — drove my feelings leading up to Maggie’s birth. I was too busy being interested in how exactly things would take place to be scared.

In addition to the birth story collection I was busy building, the fact that Kevin and I took a 12-week Bradley Method class was hugely influential in preparing for our baby’s birth. We left that course feeling armed with such good information about what potentially to expect, how to respond to situations that might be very outside of our birth goals, and what we might want our birth experience to look like. (I appreciated that our instructor emphasized the importance of “birth goals” rather than a “birth plan,” acknowledging that births almost always include unexpected elements, so it’s good to go in with a certain amount of flexibility.) The woman who taught our class is also part of a three-person doula group based in Greensboro, and we hired them to be present at our baby’s birth.

Another huge thing fueling our birth prep was the choice we’d made in care providers. A little over midway through my pregnancy, we switched over from a standard OB/gyn office (which had been giving us great care) to a midwife-only practice affiliated with our hospital. We were elated with the level of engagement we received from everyone at the practice — from the receptionist to the nurses to the midwives themselves — and felt confident they’d be in strong support of the type of birth we were going for. (And — bonus! — this practice is the first in Winston-Salem to be cleared to use birth tubs at the hospital. Women aren’t yet allowed to give birth in the tub, but they can labor in them as of early March of this year, and I was thrilled to JUST make the cut timing-wise to get to take advantage of that element.)

With this great team securely in our corner (plus lots of good information under our belts), Kevin and I developed our birth goals, which included things like aiming for an intervention-free experience if possible and incorporating water labor as a pain management tool. (Here’s our full list of Birth Goals that we brought with us to the hospital, for anyone who’s interested!) Another quick side note: Kevin and I were impressed to learn during our hospital tour that many of the things we thought we’d have to specifically request — delayed bathing, delayed cord clamping, etc. — are now things our hospital does across the board for healthy babies. Way to go, Forsyth Medical Center!

So we had our goals. We had our support team. Now we just needed our baby.

We waited. And waited. And waited.

My March 17 due date passed, and was soon far in the rearview mirror. Meanwhile, I was showing few signs of having a baby anytime soon.

We did three non-stress tests at our provider’s office, checking in to be sure the baby was doing well. (She was!) I had two induction acupuncture appointments and two induction massages. I was walking often and eating spicy foods and taking evening primrose oil and drinking red raspberry leaf tea and trying just about all the go-to “let’s get labor going” tips and tricks. Nothing. It looked like this baby wasn’t going to get going on her own, so we eventually scheduled an induction for the afternoon of Friday, March 31.

I was BUMMED. Since my body wasn’t showing too many signs of progression (I wasn’t dilated at all and was 50% effaced, and hadn’t had a single contraction, Braxton Hicks or otherwise), I was so concerned that an induction would mean my hopes of a non-medicated birth would fly out the window. I started worrying if a c-section would be in the cards. After all our planning and resource gathering, it was feeling like things weren’t going to go our way one bit. I kept trying to stay optimistic rather than go down a rabbit hole about it all. I reminded myself that our baby’s birth hadn’t yet taken place — everything up until this point was speculative — and that I just needed to roll with it. By the time March 30 rolled around — the day before the scheduled induction — I was at peace with things. I was just ready to meet this baby girl! Plus, there were still so many strong factors working in our favor (I was feeling great physically, the baby was looking strong and healthy, and we had amazing support through our doulas and midwives).

On the 30th, we went in for one final non-stress test and talked about what to expect at the following day’s induction. Our midwife recommended I squeeze in one final induction massage that Thursday to potentially set the stage for a smoother induction the following day, and I was luckily able to snag a last-minute opening that same day (Thursday the 30th) with Ruth at Touch of Serenity Massage in Greensboro (a therapist who came highly recommended by our doula group). She gave me a wonderful massage that left me feeling suddenly nauseated — something Ruth assured me was a positive sign.

Later that evening, at around 9:30 p.m., I started feeling kind of crampy. Before realizing I was having mild contractions, I assumed I’d eaten something weird. After all, I hadn’t had a single contraction up until that point, so I still wasn’t quite sure what to expect. These cramps began coming every 15-25ish minutes, though, so I soon realized they were more than a stomachache. I spent the night getting up every so often, but the pains were very manageable.

The next morning, Kevin and I called our midwives’ office and they got us in for a morning appointment to check in on things. I was thrilled to learn I was FINALLY dilated — one whole centimeter! Ha. Small progress, but our midwife was really encouraged that something seemed to be happening on its own, and said she was feeling much more optimistic about the induction in general, which was great to hear. She was able to sweep my membranes and we were sent back home to prep for our 3 p.m. induction check-in at the hospital. While at home, I tried to rest and eat (Kevin snagged me my favorite Village Juice smoothie — Mint Chip — which I was able to drink, but nothing else sounded too good).

Later that afternoon (after dropping Big Brother Fulton safely off at Ruff Housing), we showed up at Forsyth Medical Center and got all checked in. Our doula, Jessica, met us there. The plan was for Jessica to help us get settled into our room, then meet us back on Saturday when everyone assumed my labor would actually be getting going. I was still having mild contractions, but they were spread apart and not at all intense (easy to talk through, etc.).

At about 6 p.m. or so, Nona, the midwife on call from our practice on Friday, came to finalize our plans, and we decided to go with the gentlest and slowest option: she inserted Cervadil to start to soften my cervix. I liked this option because it seemed to be the least invasive and didn’t require I get hooked up to an IV or anything. Nona recommended I take a sleeping pill to get a good night’s sleep, as the Cervadil would be in for 12 hours and she didn’t expect much to start going before then. She reminded us that sometimes Cervadil can get things going, but often women needed other forms of intervention to start full-blown labor. Jessica and Nona then left us with the instructions to get rest, eat something, and keep her posted.

While waiting on my sleeping pill to arrive to our room, I tried to eat the salad we’d brought with us, but was NOT feeling it. I was only able to choke down a couple of bites before calling it quits.

And then.

Not long after the Cervadil went in (Kevin says it was around 7 p.m.), I started getting MUCH stronger contractions. They lasted about a minute and were immediately about 3.5 minutes apart. I was caught off guard, having expected a pretty uneventful evening. I know Kevin felt that way, too! After seven or eight contractions at that pace, things sped up in a big way and the contractions started getting stronger, longer, and closer together, lasting anywhere from one to two minutes with 30 to 45 seconds in between, on average. The nurse began coming in and out, checking on us and intermittently checking Maggie’s heart rate as well. At some point early on, I threw up the little bit of dinner I’d been able to choke down.

I was glad things were moving, but the lack of rest between each contraction was a lot to manage. Kevin was incredible, talking me through each one. (I wondered what I’d want from him during labor, and it turned out I wanted him to talk to me incessantly. For about three-quarters of my labor I was wearing the sensor that tracks the intensity of contractions, and so he was able to follow along as they rose and fell. I wanted him to keep a commentary going through each one — “Okay, it’s getting stronger, this one’s past 200, hang on, now it’s coming down, coming down…” It made me feel like someone was in it with me through each contraction.)

Position-wise, I wanted to be on hands and knees the majority of the time. I knew from our Bradley class that it was a great idea to change positions, but few things felt “right.” I was thankful I didn’t have any back labor, which is something I’d worried about since Maggie was posterior (sunny side up) leading up to labor. I think she must have flipped as things were getting started, because she was born in an anterior position. Good girl!

Kevin and I both started getting a little worried with how quickly things were going, so he asked the nurse to see if Nona could join us in the room. She came fast and checked me — I was three centimeters dilated and completely effaced.

I was encouraged that I’d made progress, but man — seven more centimeters seemed like a long way to go. I worried that unless I started getting longer breaks between contractions I might not be able to make it. I tried to really get in the zone mentally, telling myself that, for now, this was my reality, and I could live in this reality as long as I needed to. Meanwhile, Nona began setting up the birth tub (a process that takes quite a while) for me to labor in. She said they wanted women to be at least four centimeters before using the tub to avoid getting in too early and having the relief wear off at some point. Watching the tub getting set up was a game changer for me. I kept telling myself that soon I’d be able to get in the water, and that would make things so much more manageable.

Nona and Kevin both tried to get me to try a few other positions, but hands and knees still felt best. I tried some variations of those — incorporating the birth ball and eventually standing by the bed (which had been elevated) and resting my torso on the mattress. The contractions kept coming, fast and fierce, and I started feeling increasingly stronger pressure as Maggie moved farther down.

Finally, the tub was set up, so Nona checked me to see if I’d progressed enough to get in. To my complete surprise (and total relief), she exclaimed, “There’s no time for you to get in the tub. You’re complete — time to push!” Seemingly immediately, the contractions began to slow and I felt like I was very in control of timing and pacing when it came to pushing. The head of the bed was very elevated, and I was turned around leaning on that part of the bed with my knees on the non-elevated part of the bed, so my back was to Nona and Kevin. There was a clock on the wall behind Nona, and I kept glancing back at it. I started pushing at around 11:20 p.m. and, after just a few pushes, Maggie was born at 11:42 p.m. — BARELY making it here in the month of March.

Kevin helped Nona pull her out (she was screaming before her whole body was even out!), and then Nona told me to reach down and grab her. What an incredible feeling, reaching for my daughter and looking at her for the first time. It’s such an amazing thing, meeting someone you already feel like you know so well.

The time immediately after Maggie’s birth flew by as the placenta was delivered, Nona gave me some stitches (I’d had a second-degree tear), Maggie got her Vitamin K shot, we had initial skin to skin, etc. I honestly didn’t physically feel much of anything after she arrived. I was just on such a high from her actually being in my arms. Our doula arrived about five minutes after Maggie was born (things had progressed so quickly that she wasn’t able to make it back before then) and was great to have around. She snapped a few priceless photos for us of the moments right after Maggie’s birth and was helpful getting us started with breastfeeding as well.

As a first-time mom, I never guessed my labor and delivery story would be as quick as it was. (Of course, I’d heard birth stories about super fast first labors, but almost wouldn’t let myself consider that being an option for me.) Especially once we had to schedule an induction I tried to mentally prepare for a long, drawn-out endeavor.

I’m so glad Maggie had other plans for her entry into the world! The experience certainly wasn’t what I’d envisioned. It was better — so very special, unexpected, and memorable.

And now? Now Kevin and I get to be parents to the most amazing little human, Margaret (“Maggie”) Elizabeth Keller. She was named after her paternal great-great-grandmother (Margaret) and maternal great-grandmother (Elizabeth), and my middle name is Elizabeth as well. We also loved the name Maggie, because all the Maggies we know are good people. They’re kind and fun and down to earth and smart — all qualities we hope our Maggie possesses.

For now, we’re trying to soak in every second with our brand new girl. She’s incredible, and we can’t believe she’s ours.

 

 

Friday Favorites

This time last Friday Kevin and I knew we were close to meeting our baby girl, but didn’t yet know how she’d come into this world. I still can’t believe she was born in March. I was CONVINCED she’d be an April baby after keeping us waiting for so long.

  • With that in mind, my first favorite this Friday is, obviously, this one-week-old kid. She’s the perfect addition to our family, and I can’t believe we’ve already had a whole week of getting to know each other. The days are just flying by!

  • Next up: This necklace and earring set Kevin got me as a gift when Maggie was born. It’s perfect on so many levels: it’s beautifully small and delicate, just like our baby. It’s made of moonstone, which is said to act as protection during childbirth and pregnancy, along with bringing hope and enhancing feminine energy. But perhaps best of all? It’s from a jewelry company called Margaret Elizabeth — just like our girl!

  • Kevin and I are loving our Baby K’tan carriers! We each have one, and Maggie seems to adore them, too. She can get all snuggled up in there, we get to have access to both arms, and I’ve been told it’s a great way to prevent strangers from wanting to touch your baby when you’re out and about.

  • I set up a Maggie folder using the PhotoCircle app and think it will be a great way for friends and family to keep up with pictures of our daughter. Anyone who’s part of the circle can upload pics, and this way I can bombard a select group of people with endless photos of Maggie-girl. (You’re welcome, everyone on Instagram and Facebook! I’ll try not to get TOO out of hand on there. But come on — she’s pretty cute. There are going to be lots of Maggie posts.) If anyone else wants to join our PhotoCircle app to keep up with Maggie that way, please let me know! I’m happy to add you.

Okay, enough blogging — time to get back to snuggling that adorable baby of mine! Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend ahead. (I’m so looking forward to the beautiful weather in the forecast!) 

 

 

Meet Maggie Keller!

After waiting patiently (and impatiently, depending on the day!), Kevin and I finally welcomed our daughter into the world on Friday, March 31. I’m working on writing her birth story to share with y’all soon, but in the meantime wanted to share a few photos of our girl.

These first few days as parents have been even more incredible than I could have imagined. Often, Kevin and I find ourselves looking at this tiny human in complete awe. How in the world did we get lucky enough to be her parents?

So far, Maggie’s pretty excellent at being a baby. She’s a champion eater (thankfully breastfeeding is going really well) and is just 1.5 ounces shy of being back to her birth weight. Go, girl! She’s alert and seems oh-so anxious to take in the world around her. As long as she’s being held, she’s content (caveat: this morning at 3 a.m., when nothing would calm her down). Oh, and she’s totally smiling already. (She is!) I’m absolutely biased, but I happen to think she’s the world’s best baby. 🙂

Margaret (“Maggie”) Elizabeth Keller
Born March 31, 2017 at 11:42 p.m.
7 pounds, 8.5 ounces
22 inches long

Oh, and Big Brother Fulton is doing well with her so far! He’s VERY interested in his new puppy, and wants to smell her a lot. (Me, too, Fulton — that baby smell is intoxicating!) When she cries, he seems both confused and concerned. I think he’s going to be great at this new role.

Stay tuned for Maggie’s birth story!