eleanor's birth story

It has taken me a few weeks to write this down. It honestly feels like a blur now so I am hoping I am remembering everything correctly. Let's start a few days before Eleanor was born...

I took Wednesday off from work to just have a day to relax. I felt like I had spent the past few months going and going and prepping and just needed a day that was kid and chore-free. I spent the day watching The Handmaid's Tale, laying in bed, and napping. I felt a bit strange and had a little bit of cramping but I had every intention of going into work the following day. 

At midnight that night, I awoke to pain. It wasn't terrible but it was definitely a contraction. I woke Rich up and told him we were having this baby soon but told him to get some sleep. I tried to go back to sleep but I was having contractions consistently enough that it wasn't happening. I went into the bathroom at one point and had a gush of fluid with a contraction. I was convinced my water had broken but Rich was not. My labor with Olivia was a total of 56 hours so it just seemed to early to me and not enough fluid. 

I was freaking out a little bit though because I was afraid if we didn't call his parents to come over for Olivia we wouldn't have enough time when we actually needed them and I would end up having the baby on the bedroom floor with our toddler freaked out of her mind. (It is funny the things that go through your head in the middle of the night when you are in pain, isn't it?)

So we called his parents and headed to the hospital around 2 am. I remember mentioning in the car that if this is it, this labor is WAY shorter and less painful than with Olivia. And when we got to the hospital, they were even having a slow night and took me in right away. They tested for amniotic fluid and, well, my water had not broken and I was not dilated enough for them to admit me. I felt a bit silly - this WAS my second child - but it was better to be safe than sorry. 

When we got home, I was able to sleep a bit in between contractions and around 7 am on Thursday morning, Olivia hung out in bed a bit before she went to school. She was so sweet. She watched me go through a few contractions (which were not that bad yet) and would give me a hug after each one. She also kept asking me, "Are you otay, mama?" It is amazing how much more I could control my pain with her there. 

I did a few things differently this time to manage pain and, although this labor was definitely not pain free, I felt like I was stronger and a bit more in control. The first thing is that I MOVED. I tried laboring by sitting on a ball which I hated. I tried laying over the ball - also hated that. I had a few contractions in bed but I realized that standing up and doing squats or bending in over the bed and doing calf raises got me through my contractions much better. Yes, I kind of worked out while I was in labor. Yes, I am a weirdo.

Also, I made sure to eat so I would have enough physical strength and to stay hydrated since I was severely dehydrated when I was admitted to the hospital with Olivia.  I had actually made myself a "labor-aid" the day before (on my day off) which was really helpful. I didn't always want to drink water (it had actually grossed me out with Olivia too) so I switched between that and water. 

Rich also employed counter pressure on my back during contractions when I wanted it. I gave him a hard time about not "assisting" as much as I would have liked with Olivia and he was ON IT this time. I guess it helped that he knew what he was doing this time around. 

I felt pretty decent throughout the day. I was able to distract myself with the TV (I weirdly watched a lot of ESPN which I never watch) and downloaded Solitaire to my phone. But around 4 pm, I was in a lot of pain. I got in our shower and let the jets hit me in the back for a while which felt really good during contractions. I also was able to squat and put my hands on the wall above my head which also felt good. I specifically remembering channeling a "Females are strong as hell" GIF my friend, Kathy, had sent me earlier that day while I was in the shower. In between contractions I remember singing the tune from Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

Around 7 pm, I was physically and emotionally drained. I mean, at that point, it had been fifteen hours since my first contraction. Olivia was upset that she couldn't really see me which made me upset and I couldn't believe I was STILL in labor. All I could think is that I was gearing up for another 56-hour labor like I had with Olivia. So, I lost it. I started crying and saying I couldn't do it anymore. It was a drastic change from how strong I had felt a few hours before. My step-mom suggested a drive (since it was way too hot and humid to go outside for a walk) so Rich and I got in the car. 

About two minutes into our ride, I had another gush of fluid. I turned to Rich and said, "My water just broke!" Then I commented how I wish we were home so I could have taken a shower but I insisted we still go to the hospital. I was so done and was ready to meet this baby. 

When we arrived at the hospital, they skipped the triage room and took me straight to a labor and delivery room. I don't know if it is because they knew I was there that morning or that I had been in labor for sixteen hours at that point but everything moved so fast.

But, guess what? My water hadn't actually broke in the car! The midwife went to check me and it broke all over her. Oops. Even with the long labor, I was still only three centimeters dilated. 

I asked for an epidural and although it numbed the contractions, I wasn't able to sleep much at night because of very uncomfortable pressure down there. I kept calling the nurse in and she finally checked me surprised I had dilated to seven centimeters as quick as I did. Not too much longer after that, it was time to push. 

I actually don't know how long I pushed for. And it only felt like I pushed three or four times. But, at that point, my contractions were still really far apart - I think I was getting at least five minutes of rest in between. And then, all of a sudden, at 1:56 am on Friday morning, she was here. 

With Olivia, there was meconium in the amniotic fluid so they quickly showed me to her and had to take her for tests. But with Ellie, they immediately handed her to me and I almost didn't know what to do with her. Having her laying on my chest was the most amazing feeling. I remember laying there saying "hello" and "we have been waiting for you" over and over again. She was so beautiful and I knew in that moment that our family was complete. 

The next few days were spent in the hospital. We had a few visitors. And we had a few jaundice issues. But besides that, it just felt so calm and peaceful. The day Ellie was born feels so far away now. It is hard to remember our family without her. 

mother's day gift guide

This will be our last Mother's Day as a family of three! It seems so surreal to me that in only a few short months, we will be learning to juggle life with a newborn AND a 2.5 year-old toddler. Crazy!

Obviously, flowers are always a nice treat to gift a mama as well as a morning of sleeping in and sweet potato pancakes in bed but I have put together a gift guide for those who want to wrap up something with a bow on top. 

1. Beautycounter Lip Shear: It is not quite a lipstick but not a gloss. The lip shears give you the good amount of coverage while being very moisturizing. Sometimes I even use them in place of my lip balm. Plus, they smell amazing and are beautifully packaged! I think I have about five colors. This would be the perfect pick-me-up for the new mama who doesn't have time to shower but wants to look a little less tired. 

2. India Hicks Carmen Clutch: My go-to tan clutch of nine years died a tragic death last summer (mojito stains) and I kept stalling to replace it. I finally splurged on this Carmen Clutch and have already used it for two weddings. The leather is like butter and the tassel gives it a funky edge. Plus, the inside is an unexpected surprise. This would be great for the mama who is starting to venture out into the world again sans kids. 

3. Stella & Dot Gita Tassel Earrings: I made my first Stella & Dot purchased a little over a month ago to get a few pieces for two weddings I attended in April. I was very impressed with the quality of the items I received and loved the help I had from my "stylist." I keep thinking about these white tassel earrings. Aren't they perfect for spring and summer? I think this would be great for any mama that loves fun jewelry or wants to get out of her comfort zone (like me!)

4. Eberjey 'Gisele' Shorty Pajamas: I have been lusting after Eberjey for quite some time now but haven't quite brought myself to splurge. I loved having anything that buttoned down at night for feedings after Olivia was born and I will need to replenish my stash with short-sleeve pieces. This set would be perfect for a nursing mama or anyone you want to give something luxurious to. 

5. Birkenstock 'Mayari' Sandal: Two years ago, a few months after Olivia was born, I bought myself a pair of of the black Gizeh sandals. I basically never took them off - they were so comfortable. Last spring, I purchased a pair of rose gold Sydney sandals and thought that would round out my Birkenstock collection. Well, after spending last summer and some of this spring chasing a toddler in both pairs, I am crushing on these Mayari sandals. This would be a great purchase for the mama with small children who doesn't mind a "crunchier" looking sandal. 

6. Simple Sugars Smoothness To Go: Between the weird winter weather and being pregnant, the last few months have wreaked havoc on my skin. My skin is already on the drier side but from December through the beginning of April, my skin even became flaky. I started exfoliating regularly, which helped a lot. Some of my favorite exfoliants were from this set my Mother-In-Law gifted me. Each exfoliant smells so tasty! I am almost out of all of them and considering another set. This would be a great gift for any mom!

What are some of your go-to Mother's Day gifts? 

toddler capsule: olivia's summer wardrobe

I stumbled onto the idea of a capsule wardrobe a few years ago. I tend to get overwhelmed when I have too much in my closet so I thought it was an amazing concept. But, of course, I have been either pregnant or losing baby weight or pregnant again so I haven't exactly gotten around to building my own.

However, I unconsciously started doing this for Olivia's clothes the autumn before she turned one. I purchased clothing that pretty much all coordinated together, I felt like she always had something cute to wear, and it was really easy to build outfits for her. I continued to do this without realizing it the next few seasons. However, this past autumn and winter, I just bought random items and found myself buying more and more because I felt like nothing ever went together. 

So, after figuring out why I was struggling so much this time and spending more money, I decided to build a toddler capsule wardrobe of sorts for her for summer. I started out with a color palette in mind but only used it as a guide  - you don't want to become a slave to the colors, especially if you find something you really love. Plus, you are at the mercy, somewhat, of what is being offered at stores. 

I am actually really happy with how it turned out. After snapping these pictures a few weeks ago, I did add a few pieces. I realized that I needed a few more bottoms - I only do her laundry once per week and Olivia always comes home with something on her from daycare. 

So, where do I buy clothing?

+ Gap and Old Navy: This is where I buy the majority of her clothing. I love the styles and they tend to have a lot of items that coordinate together but aren't matchy-matchy. However, I NEVER pay full price. Every few weeks, at least one of brands is having a 40% off sale online and, if you are lucky, they may both be having a big sale. Plus, I never pay for shipping. They offer free shipping for orders over $50 and free returns. And their customer service is top-notch. 

+ Target: Before kids, you would find me in Target all. the. time. But I don't have the time to peruse like I used to so I do most of my shopping online. For some reason, though, I never thought to check Target's website before now. This season, I scored a lot of cute items for Olivia from there. 

+ Small Brands: Now that I have my "base" wardrobe, I may pick up one or two items from smaller (more expensive) brands if I see something that works with the rest of the clothing. I am more apt to do this now that I know we are having another girl in July but, considering you can't control stains at this age, I don't do this often. 

If building a capsule wardrobe for a child seems silly, it's not. Listen, I am not one of those mom's that is extremely fashion conscious and always has bows in my daughter's hair or has her perfectly layered. Really, for me, it is about a few other things:

+ It saves money. I spent way more money last season because I kept buying clothing since nothing ever seemed like it went together. Plus, it keeps me from impulse buying because I have a better idea of what is in her closet and if something won't coordinate with everything else, it isn't worth the purchase. 

+ It saves time. When pretty much everything goes together, it takes me about five minutes on Sunday evening to put together her outfits for the week. This past season, sometimes it took me fifteen. 

+ It keeps things organized. Olivia's drawers are usually pretty organized but, this past season, her drawers were a mess. This happened because I was constantly digging through drawers trying to find SOMETHING that matched the shirt I was holding in my hand. 

+ Eventually, it will allow her to dress herself. Let's face it, Olivia is saying "my turn" way more often now and it is only a matter of time before she insists on dressing herself. If everything coordinates, she is more likely to look put together than if the clothing didn't. And, with a baby on the way, I may just let her start picking out her clothing. 

How do you save time and money purchasing clothing for your children? 

life, lately: olivia's first trip to disney

I finally had some time to download all of our photos from our trip to Disney World in January. It was so much fun looking through them and reliving our time there. Olivia loves everything Disney and had a blast meeting her favorite characters and going on all the rides. 

I know many people say to wait to take children until they are older and can remember but I know I will always have these memories from when we were a teeny family of three. Plus, Olivia is still talking about "Mickey's House" and talks about our trip anytime she sees an airplane. So really, the joy it brings her now is enough for me.

In addition to being Olivia's first trip to Disney, it was also her first plane ride. Although we were delayed a few times and had to switch around our flights on the way down to Orlando, we lucked out by getting upgraded to first class which meant an ample space for her to nap (and for mama to take a much needed break.) We even got invited up to see the front of the plane!

Our first full day, we went to Magic Kingdom. This was the only day we were in a park from right after breakfast until after dinnertime. I know a lot of people want to cram a ton in since they paid for the tickets but, for us, it was more important that we were able to relax a bit and fit naps in so we didn't have a cranky family. 

Olivia was a little "starstruck" this day and wasn't too warm towards the characters but she loved seeing them from afar. She also received her very first haircut in the barber shop. We had a great experience there and I would highly recommend it to anyone. 

The next day, we headed to Epcot. There isn't as much to do at Epcot with little kids but our resort was a five minute walk from there so it didn't make sense NOT to go. And Olivia was thrilled by all the Frozen themes in Norway. She came back with a love of Elsa, Ana, and Olaf like I have never seen before. 

We only stayed in Epcot until mid-afternoon so we could go home and take a nap. However, if I had known that a lot of attractions don't open up until the afternoon in Epcot, we probably would have swam at our resort that morning, napped, and then went to Epcot in the afternoon and stayed for dinner. 

After naptime, we made our way to Disney Springs for dinner. Rich and I had gone there for our babymoon when I was pregnant with Olivia and, man, has it changed. It looks gorgeous and I wish I had more time to spend down there.

For our last day in the parks, we went to Hollywood Studios. Honestly, I may have skipped this park for a toddler but they have a ton of Disney Junior rides and shows there. I am really glad we didn't skip it because she may have had the most fun here. And it was just enough time to do all of her stuff in the morning, have lunch, and then catch the afternoon Indiana Jones Show before we went back to our resort to rest. Plus, it was pretty cool that we could take a boat to and from the resort to the park. 

For dinner, we headed to the Animal Kingdom Lodge to eat at Jiko. I loved our meal but Olivia was overly tired that day so I am not sure I would go again with a toddler unless you were saying close by. 

Our last full day there, we journeyed over to the Polynesian to have breakfast with Lilo and Stitch. We were all pretty tired and cranky at this point in our trip but man did that turn around once Olivia saw two of her favorite "people." She went right up to both of them and gave them huge hugs. 

The rest of the day was spent relaxing at our resort and swimming in the pool. I love that there was a sand bottom, zero-entry section for Olivia. 

Our flight didn't fly out until later on the last day there so we had breakfast with Minnie, traveled to Disney Springs for lunch, and then I walked around our resort, the Beach Club, a bit while Olivia napped and Rich did a bit of work. 

We had an amazing family trip and I can't wait to take both of our little girls when they are a bit older!

life lately: olivia at two

A few weeks ago, we met up with the wonderful Mary of Mary Bell Photography to snap a few pictures of Olivia at age two. She did an amazing job of capturing Olivia's spirit: pensive and adventurous, silly and sweet. I can't believe how much she has grown over the past year

I really can't stop looking at these pictures - I just keep thinking about how these first two years have gone by. It is hard to imagine life without her now. I can't wait to watch her grow over the next year and see what see is like as a big sister.