(Lesson 18.5 should have been “get a pedicure before taking your final belly picture”)
Have a birth plan, but remember that it’s okay to chuck it out the window.
Having a plan is always a good thing. But being able to deviate from said plan as circumstances necessitate is your first real step into parenthood: things don’t always go the way you plan, especially when there’s a kid in the mix. You have to be flexible, and you have to be flexible without flipping out or beating yourself up.
Didn’t plan on having that emergency c-section? No problem as long as the end goal is met: healthy baby, healthy mom.
Swore you’d go completely natural, yet begged for an epidural at 3cm? No problem: healthy baby, healthy mom.
I didn’t have a Birth Plan at all with J, and that was probably the right thing for me at the time. But now that I’m more secure and confident in my role as a mom, there are some things that I’ll do differently next time. I will have a plan, but it will be very minimal.
I imagine my plan will look something like this:
First Stage Labor
I’d like to be free to walk around and go to the bathroom on my own, so I’ll wait on the epidural for awhile. But those drugs that make a me feel a little stoned and a lot happy? Hit me up with those. I’ll go for as long as I can without them because I know that one hit is all I get, but when I’m ready for them, I’d like you to be on standby with the IV in one hand and a margarita in the other. Thanks.
That said, go ahead and keep the pitocin to yourself. Unless we’re in a situation where the health of my baby is at risk, I’d rather my body did the work in its own time.
And as far as the snacks go? I don’t buy your crap about no food during labor. Hunger pains during my first childbirth were as bad as the friggin’ labor pains. Not this time. I’ll have healthy snacks and water, as my body will need the energy for childbirth.
Second Stage Labor
The one thing that makes me a little agitated when I look back on J’s birth is that I knew when I was ready to push, yet my nurse wouldn’t listen to me. She kept telling me there was no way I was at 10 cm and I had to finally insist for her to check because I knew I was. Next time, I’ll be more vocal and confident in my body.
Third Stage Labor
This is the one that’s important to me. This is the one that I wish I had had the confidence to have before (Thanks, Carly, for sharing your plan with me so that I could tweak it to make it my own).
- The baby is to be placed on my chest immediately after birth.
- Please delay cord-clamping if possible until cord has stopped pulsating and placental transfusion has completed.
- Bo would like to cut the umbilical cord.
- Please delay routine procedures (weight, length, PKU, and other assessments and routines that cannot be performed without leaving our baby with his/her mother) until we have had at least one hour to bond with our baby, allowing him/her to breastfeed without interruption.
- If our baby needs temperature regulation, we would like to try skin-to-skin contact with baby and mother before a machine is used.
- Our feeding preference is to breastfeed: please do not offer formula.
- Bo would like to assist with the first bath.
- We may request that no eye ointment is used. This is something I will discuss with my doctor and pediatrician before birth.
I just didn’t realize that I had an option on many of these things. I was new at the whole childbirth thing. I don’t necessarily consider myself a pro at it now, but I do have more confidence in myself and I do know more about what I would like for my child. And that makes all the difference.
My advice is to know what you want for you and your baby going into it. Read books, talk to other moms, discuss is with your doctor and with your partner. Imagine your ideal birth and work toward it. But don’t be inflexible. Understand that that, while it’s natural, giving birth isn’t necessarily easy. If it’s your first pregnancy, you really have no idea how you’ll feel once you’re actually in the moment. And if it’s your 4th pregnancy–well, every pregnancy and labor is different. So just go with it. There are many different ways to reach the end goal we discussed earlier, and none of them are wrong.
As the time for your new addition arrives, don’t forget the first babies you ever had—the ones with fur and 4-legs. Make sure you have somebody lined up to care for them while you’re in the hospital. And make sure to give them lots of love and patience, as adjusting to a new baby isn’t easy for Fido!
The day before we came home, Bo brought one of J’s blankets home from the hospital and left it out for the animals to get used to his scent. It seemed like a cool little trick, but I’m not sure if it helped or not. It made us feel better though!
Here’s our pooch, Abbie, resting on my very pregnant belly before J was ever born. Dogs know there’s a baby in there, I’m sure of it!
Lasagana is an easily freezable meal, and this recipe is yummy! I always make a double batch when I make it–one to serve for dinner and one to freeze for later. If you only want to make one (which, why??), you can just half this recipe.
You’ll need the following ingredients:
- 2 lbs ground beef
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 2 tbsp fresh basil (always use fresh if you have it–it makes all the difference!)
- 24 oz tomato paste
- 32 oz tomato sauce
- 12 lasagna noodles (I use whole wheat so I can pretend like it’s healthy)
- 24 oz small curd cottage cheese (small curd is a must or it will be too runny)
- 24 oz ricotta cheese
- 4 eggs
- 1 c parmesan cheese, shredded
- 4 tbsp dried parsley (or use fresh if you have it)
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 8 c mozzarella cheese, shredded
First, boil your lasagna noodles according to package directions. I always add a bit of olive oil to prevent the noodles from sticking together. When you’re finished, drain the noodles and set them aside to cool.
Next, brown the ground beef. Drain and rinse with hot water to get the extra grease off.
Put the meat back in the pan and add garlic, basil, tomato paste and tomato sauce. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 30 minutes.
While your meat is simmering, mix together the cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, eggs, parmesan cheese, parsley, salt and pepper.
Grease 2 lasagna pans (I use one regular pan and one disposable pan to freeze) and layer each pan with 3 lasagna noodles.
Add 1/4 of the beef mixture to each pan.
Follow that up with 1/4 of the cottage cheese mixture in each pan.
Complete the first layer with 2 cups of mozzarella cheese each.
Top that with 3 more noodles and repeat your layers (1/2 of the remaining beef mixture per pan, 1/2 of the remaining cottage cheese mixture per pan and 2 more cups of mozzarella cheese each).
When you’re finished, bake the pan you plan to serve immediately on 350 for 30 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly.
For the pan you plan to freeze, just top it with the plastic lid that comes with disposable pans.
Wrap the entire thing in plastic wrap, then in aluminum foil.
If you want to skip the disposable pan, you can. Just prepare both lasagnas in regular baking pans and bake them both. Serve one and refrigerate the one you plan to freeze overnight so that it sets well. Then, cut it in half and freeze the halves in two gallon-sized Ziploc freezer bags. This also works well if you’re only feeding 2-3 people because you can thaw them one at a time.
Either way you choose to freeze it, it should hold fine in a regular freezer for 2-3 months and in a deep freezer for 4-6 months.
When you plan to serve it, set it in the fridge to thaw overnight. Then bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes.
I can’t say whether or not the nesting instinct was real for me. The problem with me is, I’m always “nesting.” On any given day you can find me cleaning or organizing something. So whether or not the nesting instinct kicked in, I couldn’t say for sure.
There was one day, when I was about 6 months pregnant, when I decided that my spices needed reorganizing so, with the help of Pinterest, I came up with this little jewel:
Pretty cool, huh?
But that’s really not so uncommon for me. For instance, just last month I asked for a deep freezer for my birthday for the sole purpose of doing this:
Which led to
And that’s how I spent my birthday. That’s how I wanted to spend my birthday. I am a sick person.
And I am not pregnant.
But there was one day in March, when I was 38 weeks pregnant, when I found myself climbing up on counters, chairs and step-stools so I could clean hard-to-reach places. I cleaned all the blinds and windowsills in my house, I polished the cabinet doors, cleaned the tops of the cabinets, and even scrubbed down the top of the refrigerator.
Was I nesting? Maybe. I went into labor the very next day, 2 weeks early, so it’s very possible. But it’s also possible that my typical crazy just kicked in. It happens from time to time.
If I was nesting, I wish my instincts would have been more practical. When my water broke very early the next morning, I refused to leave for the hospital until I had the laundry in the dryer folded, another load going in the washer, and the dishwasher cleaned out. So I waddled around the house with a towel stuck between my legs getting those things done. Polished cabinets just aren’t very useful when they’re not filled with clean dishes.
OCD as I am, I had my bag packed super early so that I didn’t have to worry about it. I’d recommend having your bag packed around the time you’re 34 weeks. The biggest thing I learned with this one is, less is more. The less crap you bring, the less crap you have to dig through when you’re trying to find something. So, here are the essentials:
Paperwork. Place all of these things in a large envelope, then store all the after-baby paperwork in the same envelope (yes, there will be paperwork. Having a baby is a lot like buying a car…)
- Wallet with ID and insurance card
- Hospital registration papers (even if you filled these out electronically, it doesn’t hurt to have a copy just in case…)
- Birth plan
Toiletries. Buy as many of these things as possible in travel sizes so you can already have your bag packed and ready to go. Being in labor isn’t conducive to remembering your Listerine.
- Eyeglass, contacts, contact solution, contact case
- Shampoo & conditioner
- Brush, comb, hair rubberbands
- Toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash
- Face wash
- Body wash
- Body lotion and facial moisturizer
- Nail clippers (nails grow long and strong during pregnancy and that’s great–until the first time you scratch the shit out of your baby and your heart breaks–cut those things!)
- Nursing pads
Clothing for You
- 2 comfortable outfits to wear during your stay (pajamas or sweats)
- Nursing bras/tanks
- Underwear (you probably don’t want to wear your Sunday best)
- iPad fully loaded with books and movies (don’t forget the charger!)
- Cell phone and charger
- Nursing cover
- White noise machine (to drown out all those annoying hospital sounds while you and Baby try to sleep)
For Baby. You don’t need to bring much for Baby, since the hospital will provide you with what you need. The only essential is the car seat, but the other things come in handy. Also, if there’s an older sibling, don’t forget to pack a gift for him/her–maybe a Big Brother t-shirt?
- Going Home Outfit
- Swaddling blankets
- Receiving blankets
- Diapers if you’re using cloth—if you’re using disposable, the hospital will furnish them
- Car seat (already installed)
- Baby book for footprints
- Nail file for those sharp little daggers–don’t even try using clippers right now.
For Your Partner. Since when is this your job? You’re growing a human. He can pack his own bag.
- 2 changes of clothes
- iPad with movies & books and a charger
- Phone and charger
What not to bring.
- Medications (the hospital will provide any medication you routinely take, right down to your prenatal vitamin)
- Breast pump
- Unless you want a particular kind, you don’t need to bring diapers, wipes or baby lotion
One of the easiest meals you can make for your family is a good ol’ chicken pot pie. I love this recipe as a freeze-ahead for 4 reasons: it’s inexpensive, it’s fast, it’s easy, and it makes four meals at one time. I got it from my sister-in-law, but I’ll admit to tweaking it a bit—not because it wasn’t delicious exactly how it was, but because I’m a little lazy and I like to take shortcuts sometimes.
Start by poaching 2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves. Poach, don’t boil, as boiling will dry out the chicken. I usually place the chicken in the pot of water and turn it on high to bring it to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, turn it down to a simmer and set your timer for 15 minutes. If you want, you can add a sliced onion and/or garlic wedges to the water for extra flavor.
After your chicken is completely cooked, remove it from the water and set it aside to cool. But don’t dump the water! Measure it into whatever portion sizes you desire (I do 2-cup portions), place it in quart-size freezer bags, and freeze flat. Next time you have a recipe that calls for chicken stock, you have it in your freezer—no need to buy it. In my experience, frozen chicken stock will last for 2-3 months in a regular freezer, or up to 1 year in a deep freezer.
Now, here’s where I cheat. You could slice up about 4 handfuls of baby carrots, wash, peel, and chop 2 potatoes, and wash and chop fresh green beans. But why? Instead, I use 2 cans of cubed potatoes and a 32-oz bag of frozen veggie mix consisting of chopped carrots, corn, green peas and green beans.
Heat some olive oil in a large pot and go ahead and sauté the frozen veggies in some minced garlic (you can use fresh, or that awesome stuff that comes in a jar) until they’re just defrosted, about 5 minutes. Then drain and add the potatoes.
Remove from heat and add 2 cans of cream of chicken soup, a few sprinkles of onion powder, and shred your chicken into the mix. Top it off with ½ c of heavy cream and stir it up.
Rather than pouring these directly into the pie shells, save yourself some room and divide the mixture into 4 quart-sized freezer bags. Label and date each bag. You’ll end up with just under 3 cups per bag. You’ll need a total of 8 frozen deep-dish pie crusts, so make sure you have those on hand for later use. Freeze the bags flat, keep the pie crusts stacked in each other, and you’ll use a lot less room in your freezer than stacking 4 pies on top of each other.
When it’s time to make a pie, put a bag of the mix in the fridge to thaw over night. Once it’s thawed, pour it into one of your pie shells and spread it evenly.
Top it with a second pie shell.
Then bake at 350 for about 30 minutes, or until the pie crust is golden brown.
It may not be the prettiest pie in the world, but it sure is yummy!
Something that helped me tremendously during the immediate weeks after my baby was born was having 2 freezers full of pre-prepared meals. I made a list of what I wanted to prepare in December, started purchasing the dry and frozen groceries I would need in January (this allowed me to spread out the extra food budget over 3 months, rather than taking a big hit to our bank account in just one month), and I started cooking in February (and continued cooking through March, using weekends here and there so I never felt overwhelmed).
I not only chose recipes that would be effortless to store and thaw, but I also chose recipes that I could easily double at one time. Even now, whenever I make a recipe that is easily doubled, I go ahead and double it and freeze one. Hard day at work? No problem–there’s always a lasagna waiting in the freezer.
I also recommend doing this for any of your friends who are pregnant. After a long day of changing poopy diapers, cleaning vomit, and bouncing a screaming newborn, they will love you all over again when they open their freezer and see a healthy meal waiting for them to just thaw, warm, and serve. Frozen Food Baby Showers have actually become a thing.
I’ll post some of my favorite (read: quick and easy) recipes in the days to come.
I don’t have a terrible amount of information to volunteer on banking your baby’s cord blood. Honestly, I’m still stumped as to whether or not it’s something that needs to be done. On the one hand, if you ever need it, the cost seems pretty minimal for what you get. But on the other, the odds of your child actually requiring his cord blood are pretty minimal. Add that to the fact that you can’t help but wonder if the bank you chose actually stores your child’s blood and stores it properly—and it can seem like a toss up!
So, if you stumbled upon this blog because you’re wondering whether or not you should store your child’s cord blood, I intend to be of no help to you whatsoever. Sorry.
But what I can recommend is that you donate your child’s cord blood. This comes at no cost to you and it’s certain that the blood will be used. Whether the blood is donated to a child in need or used for research, it’s going to good use.
If you’re interested in donating your child’s cord blood talk to your OB. The hospital where I delivered actually did not take cord blood donations at the time, but my doctor was more than happy to collect the cord blood and store it for me, so that I could donate it myself. If your hospital doesn’t take cord blood donations, you can still donate!
Be the Match recommends that you begin talking to your OB about 3 months prior to your due date. I recommend starting much sooner! You have to have your application in by a certain time, it has to be approved, they have to send you your donation kit—it takes time. Get started early.
Before you go too far into the donation process, check out Be the Match’s questionnaire that will help you determine whether or not you’re even eligible to donate cord blood.
If you’re eligible to donate, you can go to Be the Match’s list of participating hospitals and check to see if yours is on the list. If it’s not, like mine wasn’t, you can contact nearby hospitals that are on the list and tell them you’re delivering at a local hospital and would like to donate your child’s cord blood. Or, you can go through a mail-in donation site, like we did. To find a mail-in donation site, check out the Parent’s Guide to Cord Blood Donation‘s list of North American Cord Blood Donation Sites.
When you find one that can take your donation (not all can because they’re limited on staff, storage and funding), you’ll complete a ton of paperwork, your OB will complete some paperwork, and you’ll have to consent to an HIV test (which you probably already had done anyway when you first found out you were pregnant—it seems like it’s a standard test). They’ll also verify that your delivering doctor knows how to collect cord blood. Finally, if you’re approved (again, they’re limited because of resources and try to keep their donors varied), they’ll send you a kit and you’ll go ahead and put it with your hospital bag for D-day.
Once you arrive at the hospital on D-day, make sure you tell your nurse and/or delivery team that you’ll be donating your child’s cord blood. After your baby is born and the cord is clamped (and yes, if you choose to let the cord finish pulsing before clamping the cord, it’s possible to still donate cord blood–though you probably need to decide which is more important to you because there is the chance that there will not be enough cord blood left to collect after the cord finishes pulsing. Also? Ask your doctor because I only gathered these answers via Dr. Google. This is something we’ll have to ask next time, as letting the cord finish pulsing, unfortunately, wasn’t something that was on our radar with Baby 1, though it will be with Baby 2.), your doctor will then collect the cord blood. The blood will be packaged in a sterile container and a courier will collect it (if you’re donating to a local hospital) or you’ll put it in the mail (if you’re donating via mail-in). It really is that easy.
You guys, cord blood is good stuff. It’s valuable in more ways than people realize. Don’t just throw it away! This is an easy, painless way to help save a life (or lives), and it causes no danger to you or your baby.