So You're Gonna Take Your Baby on a Plane! TIPS

Sunday, October 15, 2017

The first time we took Oliver on a plane, I dressed him in my favorite PJs—a fancy white footie with navy blue anchors. Classy, soft, and comfy. I knew I might jinx us by putting him in it, but I was feeling those old school flying first class vibes. I wanted him dressed to impress. He was eight weeks old.

Little dude ready for his first plane ride...and two huge blowouts along the way.

I'm sure you can guess where this is going: he blew out his white with navy anchors twice—once right before we pre-boarded and once while we were on the plane from Seattle to San Diego. I'm talking down the leg liquid poo. I could see it as Raz booked it down the aisle to change him even before they turned off the fasten seatbelt sign.

Thankfully, we were prepared with backups, but we could have been even MORE prepared, and we've learned a lot since then. Herewith, my tips for taking your baby on an airplane—because I firmly believe in bringing them along for the ride.

The following encompasses what I have learned so far, and much is specific to our experience. There will be nuance unique to you, your trip, your family, and your baby. But I've done my best to wrap up what I know here. I encourage you to consult a few trusted sources, try things out, and find what works for you.

  • Call the airline to let them know you'll have a lap infant (if you didn't buy your baby a seat—we have not gotten Oliver his own seat yet, although I'm sure that would make things A LOT easier. Even though I'm adult and make money, I'm still all about that #free life)
  • Many people try to plan their flight times around baby's nap. All of our flights so far had been planned before Oliver was born, so we didn't know what time(s) his nap(s) would be. I've found you can manipulate their schedules a bit for travel days, but it all really depends on the length of your flight and your baby. I wouldn't get on any 6 a.m. flights with him right now, but anything else pretty much feels like fair game
  • If you plan to nurse and you don't want everyone looking at you, or feeling like everyone is looking at you, get a window seat. Your dude can deal with being in the middle. You can remind him that you baked the baby and birthed it if he complains

  • For road trips, I like to pack him his own little bag because I don't mind the extra luggage. For airplanes, though, it's MUCH easier to share a bag with the baby and pack a suitcase the next size up from what you'd pack for just you. I've shared with him before, and I've had my husband share with him. Again, it really just depends—if I'm traveling with my husband, I typically would ask him to share because he has fewer beauty requirements :), but when I travel on my own, I pack a bigger bag and just check it
  • I read a tip on another blog that it helps to pack the baby's clothes in gallon-size bags that you label. I'm still perfecting my approach with this, but I really like it—I write on them with a Sharpie and do categories like "Casual Outfits (4)," "PJs (5)," etc. Make sure to squeeze the air out of them so they don't slide around like crazy in your bag and irritate you 
  • If you can, ship diapers to where you're going. If you can't, try to keep them in their original bag (I'm thinking of Pampers here, specifically, since those are the diapers we use and prefer), and pack that. Depending on the length of the trip, I've found we're usually fine with one row of diapers and then I throw in as many Baby Dry diapers as nights we're staying +3-4 extra (it can be nice to put baby in a longer-term diaper if you're driving a longish distance at any point in your trip, for example, or know you're going to be out with undeterminable changing stations)
  • I ALWAYS make a list of everything Oliver needs before I start packing. I start it usually a week or two before we go so I'm sure to remember everything. This helps me stress less and ensure I don't somehow forget really important things like wipes and shampoo (if you plan to bathe them while you're gone)

  • Our diaper bag has become my carry-all and it's so easy to let it get cluttered with all the things that are coming in and out of it all the time. I write myself a note to reorganize it the day before we go—do an inventory of diapers, toys, extra outfits, etc.
  • Pack 1-2 small toys your baby hasn't played with before or doesn't play with often or just really loves (if in doubt, Sophie is always a winner)
  • This is probably the MOST important tip, and it was shared with me by Raz, who got to deal with all of Oliver's 5 airplane blowouts: pack an extra pair of ZIPPER PJs in the diaper bag. Two if you're feeling especially prudent. We love these (lots of colors) and these (3 pack and organic). If you have to change your baby's outfit in an airplane bathroom, they will be sliding everywhere and everyone will be stressed and sweaty and frustrated. Don't make it harder on yourself with snaps. Also, if you have one of those diaper bag clutches that's smaller, grab that instead of the whole bag
  • Hand sanitizer (we like the Honest spray for on the go and sanitizing wipes are your friend
  • Don't forget bags to throw diapers in—not everywhere has an easily-accessible trash can and you might have to haul the dirities with you
  • I make sure I have enough room for my book (or Us Weekly), too, since I'll be keeping it under my seat
  • I have packed extra clothes for me in the bag, but found it to be excessive. Even when I had poop on my pants from a blowout, I just dealt with it until I could access my larger bag upon now you're probably in a shrug and move on life place. I'd reserve the space for a snack (Twizzlers Nibs, preferably) instead

  • If you're not taking your car with the car seat base in it, it's easy to buckle the car seat into a taxi or Uber. We looked up how to strap ours in on YouTube. It's not as secure, but it'll do. I would do almost anything to not bring the base with us and quite honestly, I've never even considered it
  • If you are parking at the airport, pick a lot that is close or "Princess Park" as my mom calls it—right by the terminal. It's worth it

  • Your boarding pass should say lap infant on it—double check that it does
  • Once I get close to the check in stations, I usually pull us over and rearrange my life—I take Oliver out of the car seat and strap him to me. If I have the stroller, I then throw all my stuff into the car seat on the stroller until I have to unload it onto the conveyor belt at security
  • I also make sure my wallet is at the top of my diaper bag so ID is easy to access and grab
  • We've only ever checked our bags with the baby, so we've had to stop at the desk anyway. Since you'll have your carseat with you, and likely your stroller, ask the bag check people for the big plastic gate check bags for them (Alaska has theseI'd double check with other airlines). OR, if you plan to travel often, just get some of those reusable ones from Amazon. This is the one my cousin uses and likes for car seats and a simple one like this one for a stroller should be fine 
  • Once you're in the security line, you have to put the stroller and car seat through the x-ray. We have a Nuna setup that we love, and it's easy to get the car seat through (you have to make sure it's empty and upside down), but the stroller can get stuck if it's not perfectly centered on the belt. Raz seems to have a knack for this. I do not. My friend told me she just used this stroller and loved it, so I added it to my Nordstrom wish list. Bonus: you can put the car seat on it and since you HAVE to bring the car seat, this is a huge plus
  • Before you board, you'll have to get gate check tags from the gate agent. You can ask for these early so you don't have to hold up the line
  • You have EARNED that pre-board, girl. Useeeee itttttt 

  • I had read many posts about nursing on takeoff and landing. Sometimes that works out, sometimes it doesn't. If it doesn't (and it doesn't have to, so don't stress about it), sucking on a binky is fine. Jumping on your lap and being distracted is fine. The concern is mostly about ears and cabin pressure, but we haven't had any issues...aside from the blowouts, which we think are likely related to a change in cabin pressure, or God laughing at us
  • Once you sit down and get situated, bring out one of those toys for baby or play while everyone boards
  • If you have a companion traveling with you, it's nice to share the lap bouncing/playing/etc.
  • For busier babies (6 months+), I've read they enjoy walking up and down the aisle with you and recently read a fun tip about packing Post-Its and sticking them to the back of the seat for the baby to take off. Other people have packed small snacks and hid them under cups on the seat-back tray. These small hacks, in addition to your little toys, should keep baby pretty busy. Keep in mind it's also a very new and exciting environment, so they'll be checking all that out, too
  • In my experience, Oliver has been able to sleep well on planes and doesn't seem bothered by the white noise of the engines. If your baby falls asleep on you, you will get hot. You will get sweaty. Wear layers


Congratulations! You did it! Whew! You're probably hot and sweaty and feeling like that wasn't so bad but also that you deserve a glass of wine. You are and you do.

Now, enjoy your vacay. You'll learn a lot more about your baby while you're away and, if you're like us, you may find your baby loves that vacay life just as much as (or more than!) you do.

The One Thing I Do Each Morning That's Changed My Days (For Good!)

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Oliver will be five months old next week, and for the past three months, I have been working from home. I don't plan to put him in daycare or find a nanny anytime soon, so juggling work and baby has become my new normal.

I can't say it's always easy, but, for me, it's absolutely worth it. I wanted to feel like I could use my brain a bit during the day and still contribute financially to our life. I know I want to be a mommy--I love being a mommy--but being a mommy doesn't fulfill every part of me. I need juuuuuust a little bit more.

So, for now, I'm lucky to have found this solution, especially given the PITIFUL state of U.S. parental leave. But that's another conversation for another day.

I've really buried the lead here, though. In order for me to stay sane--to give my baby the time and attention he deserves and work the time and attention it deserves--I (mostly) stay off email until Oliver takes his first morning nap. Raz has been able to spend more time with us in the mornings before he heads into the office, and I wouldn't trade our sweet mornings together as a family for anything. I'm able to be really present, to live in gratitude, and to soak in the small joys of experiencing our baby together.

Throwback to when the dude was 4 weeks old, but he looks like he's meditating and I can't get over it
That means that when I wake up, I do not grab for my phone. I heard a stat somewhere that 96% of employees check their email within FIVE SECONDS of getting to the office. That was insane to me. If you're like me, reading your emails stresses you out and gets your brain firing on all the things you have to do.

Starting my morning with a routine of slowness, family, and mindfulness has made me a better human. It's made me a better wife and a better mom. It's made me a more focused employee. Instead of reacting, I respond. Instead of feeling anxious, I feel lucky.

By starting my days with the things that matter most to me, I'm able to keep my priorities in better perspective. The work will be there and if I can't get to it until I can get to it, what's the point of stressing about it in advance and having all of that on my mind while I'm with my family? It feels like wasted energy. So I wait, and I spend quality time with my people, investing time in building memories, even if those memories are related to the sports news our TV somehow defaults to showing every morning. And for someone who has worked in a combo of PR, social media, and digital marketing her whole career, this is NO small feat.

As much as I enjoy much of what I do, I don't think that's what I'll remember when I'm old and grey. TBD on if I'll allow myself to go grey, but I hope to be old one day. And I hope to have a lot of stories to tell about Oliver's first year, when we sat together every morning having coffee and soaking each other in. I know that for sure.

My Motherhood is Hot, Sweaty, Tired, and Pretty Great

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

I'm sitting on an airplane with poop on my leg. Not my poop. His. Always his poop.

We've learned that Oliver likes to poop on planes. He waits until right before we take off and loads his diaper. Then we have to wait until we're in the air and the carts are out of the aisle before we take him and change him. It'll be a blowout that requires a new outfit. And I'm sure you can imagine how that goes in an airplane bathroom.

I'm hot and I'm sweaty and I'm tired and I have his poop on my leg—on my yoga pants, of course. Because yoga pants are pretty much my uniform. My hair hasn't been washed in three days.

But he worked really hard on that poop and, this time, he fell asleep on his and my poop pants immediately after pushing it out. So I'll wait to clean us up. And I'll stare at him and pet his hair and marvel at how I created this being, this tiny human who has his own needs, thoughts, and feelings.

I'll be hot and sweaty and tired, and so so grateful that I'm one of the lucky ones. I get to be his momma. I get to be hot and sweaty and tired. I get to have poop on my leg.

It's harder than I ever imagined it would be, but I'm working really hard to be okay at it all and to always put him first. I hope one day he'll know that—and even if he doesn't, I will. He is, and will continue to be, my biggest accomplishment.

Who knew you could feel so lucky to use so much Spray and Wash?

20 in 2017

Friday, July 14, 2017

This year, I've given myself a goal to read 20 books in 2017. The title of this post is probably way more boring than you thought it was!

I have this theory, though. Men have hobbies people really see as hobbies: golf, boating, working on motorcycles, "hobbies" are not only significantly more indoorsy, they're also not as easily classified as "hobbies": watching most things on Bravo, live tweeting #TheBachelor, going to Nordstrom, sending snail mail to my friends, doing face masks, researching vacations, petting my cats, experimenting with new beauty products, and, well, reading.

I think reading was my first hobby. I don't remember anything before it. Collecting stickers and troll dolls came later.

I was listening to The Ultimate Health Podcast the other day and they were interviewing a guy who said that if we all read for 45 minutes a day, based on the length of the average book, we could be reading a book a week. 52 books a year. That means my goal is actually really low. I'm writing down the titles and authors of the books as I finish them to hold myself accountable. I've heard this is important for goal-setting and it makes me feel good to see the list get longer. Granted, I'm currently a little behind on my goal, but I think I'm catching up. And, as always, my hope is to exceed it.

Another reason I wanted to set myself a firm goal and hold myself to it is that I keep buying or picking up books and adding them to stacks I say I'll get to eventually. I just keep moving the piles around, which is EXACTLY WHAT MY GRANDPARENTS DO. Genetics are scary! With a little baby adding lots of stuff to our house, clearing out some piles will inevitably help my stress level. Clutter, be gone!

Here are the books I've read this year so far. Note: I've committed to finishing them once I start, even if I don't think I'll like them. I'm going to give you a one-line book report on each, with a would or would not recommend. I don't like book reports and I don't want to spoil your experience should you decide to pick any of these up for yourself, so one line feels appropriate.

Baby Owner's ManualFun, quick read full of surprisingly useful information about how to hang out with your little one. Would recommend to anyone spending lots of time with infants.

Skinny Bitch: Bun in The OvenPretty snotty and didactic manual basically telling you to go vegan while pregnant. Would not recommend based on tone and insistent content.

We Are Water: I'll read anything Wally Lamb writes and this doesn't disappoint--weaving, complex story of a family whose dynamic has shifted entirely, and continues to shift. Would recommend to anyone who likes heady, well-written contemporary novels.

House of Sand and Fog: Intense Oprah's Book Club pick from years back that follows two families whose lives become crazily connected in a way neither of them wants. Personally, would not recommend because it really only gets good at the end.

Daring Greatly: Well-researched book focused mostly on exploring shame--where it comes from and how to combat it. Would not recommend, mostly because I thought it would be something completely different than it was, although I did learn a few things from it.

Option B: Sheryl Sandberg's exploration of life after tragedy and the lessons she's learned (and implemented in work and life) from her husband's sudden death. Would absolutely recommend to anyone who has faced tragedy or wants to help someone going through it. Honestly, I would recommend it to every corporate CEO as well.

Modern Romance: Exploration of finding love in the modern age. Not wholly applicable to my life, but Aziz is funny, so I would recommend to people out there looking for love, but would not recommend to married people with babies.

I'm currently working my way through Hillbilly Elegy and Baby Wise, but I think I'll need something for my next read. Anything you've been into lately I should add to my list? I could use a juicy beach read.

A Nursery Fit for a PNW Baby

Friday, July 7, 2017

We knew we'd be spending a lot of time in Oliver's nursery, so we invested a ton of energy in making it what we wanted--cozy, calm, and filled with the perfect new and old furnishings.

We've worked with our friends, White Space Interiors, previously on a few home projects and we LOVE what they do. My mom was so impressed with what they did at our house, they have her on retainer for her home in California, which has become an ongoing project. Soon, we'll start on our eat-in kitchen nook with them, but for this, we wanted to do it on our own.

I'm pretty pleased with the result.

Anyone else's baby lose his mind every time he gets his diaper changed? We're moving past that, but MAN. 
I pride myself on being a pretty unstoppable researcher. I will find exactly what I'm looking for. I've found that it's always easier to start ideating on a room when you have a piece or two to begin with. For us, that was the mid-century rocker I found at CB2. It went perfectly with the vibe of our house, which was built in 1950. And, unlike West Elm (whose stuff we love, but whose customer service and large furniture turnaround time cannot be trusted), they were ON TOP of providing top notch customer service and delivery timeframes. When the guys arrived to drop the chair and a few other things, they had those booties you have to wear when you do the parade of homes and didn't step a foot inside our door until they had them on. On top of that, they brought all the things about a week or so after we ordered them, which, when it comes to large furniture items, is totally unheard of. I understand it wasn't huge and it wasn't a custom piece, BUT STILL.

Our little baby burrito in his rocker.
Raz built the bookshelves and stained them to match Oliver's crib and changing table. I'm not the best at decorating shelves aka making them not look totally cluttered, but I think I did okay here. Most of the books were mine from growing up or ones Grandma made me take from their house. Still have to go into storage and find one of my many copies of Make Way for Ducklings to add to it. Whenever Oliver and I walk by a Little Free Library that has kid books in it, I get as many as strike my fancy and read them to him. Then I decide if they're worthy of the shelf. It'll be a constant edit. We have Alexa turn on classical music and work on brain development with the book collection :).

About what we look like when we're reading. 
Raz found the super-cool rope lamp on Amazon and I think it ties everything together perfectly. Before he was born, Raz and I would spend weekend mornings with the cats in Oliver's room reading and imaging what it would be like once he was with us. It's so cool now to really be using the things we so carefully curated.

Just gazing into that face we created. 

We used to have my dad's small antler set above our bed and when Raz suggested we upgrade to a larger set when we were shopping one day in the cutest little town full of vintage shops, he knew he'd sell me by suggesting we move the smaller set of antlers to Oliver's room. It was important to me to have things that belonged to the family before him in Oliver's room, so there's a picture of my dad and uncle on the shelf, along with a gold antelope (are those antelopes?) statue I stole from Grandma and Papa's attic, and photos of us as babies on the other side that aren't pictured. We also have some of the cutest little stuffed animals Raz's grandma sent back with his parents when they visited Romania earlier this year. We'll introduce those once he's playing with toys more.

This pastel painting of the mountains was done by Papa. We had one just like it in my house growing up and I think it's somewhere in my mom's storage unit now. So, after I told Papa and Grandma I was pregnant, I asked if I could take this one from one of my uncles' childhood bedrooms. It's the perfect addition above the my changing table from when I was a baby.
I don't have a photo of the gallery wall above the crib, along with Oliver's mobile to show here, but I'll make sure to put it on my Insta stories. There are four white frames above his crib, each with a meaningful photo: fuzzy horse ears from our #Poptartmoon in Kauai, a photo of us from our pregnancy announcement, my dad's bow and arrow, and a hillside full of thatched huts from our honeymoon in Tahiti. My plan is to rotate them out as the urge hits me. As with all things great, I hope it continues to evolve as our life together does.

Big thanks to Meg Newton Photography for capturing these special memories

No Sleep 'Til...?

Friday, June 30, 2017

If you're in my approximate age bracket, your social feeds are probably flooded with babies. It's cute and it's annoying. I'm right there with you, and now I'm one of them. 

With the new ones, captions usually say something along the lines of "#oneweek! We are so in love!" and the like. Probably true. What these posts aren't saying is how extremely rough the first few weeks are. So, so rough. That's not to say it isn't worth it. It is. But after pushing out a baby, your body still isn't your own. It's even more at service to your little one. If you choose to breastfeed, as I did (which I felt very weird about but knew I would do, if I could, for the benefits it would provide Oliver and me), you're even more at the mercy of your infant. There are days that Raz wakes up and asks me how many times Oliver and I were up in the night. Sometimes I think must be nice. Usually, I don't get too miffed, though, because we need him to be able to really show up at work, whereas Oliver and I can nap during the day if we need to. It's not perfect, but it works, and it's really the only option right now. 

So, what am I saying? I'm saying that we've done this lack of sleep thing before, but it was on our terms: we were out partying, I was opening Nordstrom Rack stores around the country and giving interviews at 4 a.m. Having to wake up when I don't want to (or go to bed past my bedtime) isn't news. What is, though, is that it's my body that has to wake up and provide, too, and that adds a whole other layer to it all. It's exhausting, but it's also really, really special.  

He's passed out and I'm about to join him. 
I used to feel weird about women saying the breastfeeding bond is really special because I didn't want to think about boobs and babies on them and clogged ducts and biting and etc. etc. But now that I'm there, I get it. I love hanging out with this human I created and giving him everything he needs to survive and thrive. It's our time and it is as special as they say it is. 

If you're wondering if I'm going to go all Kourtney Kardashian on you and go crazy organic, yes, I'm on my way. I'm researching super natural skincare because I don't want my biggest organ absorbing chemicals and transferring them to my child. If you have great products to recommend, let me know. But I'm still eating Twizzlers and I can't say that will ever change. We all have our limits and I know I can't be all goat milk and twice daily meditation. Not yet at least. 

A couple things that have helped a little with the sleep are good nursing bras (I tried sleeping without one and it wasn't comfortable, unfortunately) and glow in the dark binkies. Those things are seriously a Godsend. I've linked my favorites below--note: I've tried A LOT of nursing bras and tanks and they're pretty outlandishly priced. Apparently Nordstrom can convert any bra to a nursing bra, which is AMAZE, but I've recently found some great ones at Target. And any excuse to go to Target, well, shoooot. 

And don't forget, we love our #oneweekold, but it's okay if we feel like damn, baby, this is the biggest challenge I ever signed up for. Because it is, and if we all started owning it, we could really start to help each other do better and be better for our babies.

Now I'm off to research organic lotions and prep for the kid's first road trip. Happy almost-4th!

Chinese Foot Massage Works: ODP's Birth Story

Sunday, June 18, 2017

I never thought I'd get to that place in life where I'm sitting on the couch eating KFC with a newborn hanging off my boob, but here we are. I have a four week old! Life has been weird! I figured I better write down how he got here before I forgot the details. As always, my goal is to open my life to you in small ways so you can feel less alone. If you have any questions, I'm always down to try to answer them. Just email me:

Without further ado...

The Days Before: If I were allowed to drink and could take a shot for every person who walked by my office and said some version of "YOU'RE STILL HERE?", I'd be drunk by 9 a.m. For me, that was the worst part. I hated talking to people about my still-there belly and answering well-intentioned coworkers' questions. It was clear I had a full term bump and anyone with a belly that big probably isn't particularly comfortable, so just leave them alone. Open the door for them. Bring them candy they like. Don't ask questions.

I wasn't sleeping particularly well, and I was feeling more tightness in my belly. I had the occasional Braxton Hicks contractions, but there was nothing telling. It was more of a feeling I had of things starting to feel different, but not in any way I could really explain or predict.

In order to try to find some zen, I took baths (with bath bombs and candles and mood music--very important to note those things) pretty much every night. Raz would sit with me and put his feet in and we'd chat about everything from our work days to what the kid in my belly was going to be like. At this point, I was focused on trying to stay somewhat comfortable and stress free.

Labor: Our neighbor directly across the street is four weeks behind me with her second baby. Weeks prior to meeting Oliver, her husband came over and casually mentioned to Raz that Chinese foot massage had helped her during her first pregnancy. So I texted her and we went. Acupressure and reflexology was on a list of natural remedies my midwives had given me to start trying at 36 weeks, so I was way down to give it a go. I love Eastern medicine (remember, acupuncture was part of my "let's make a baby" toolkit), so this was definitely my favorite thing on the list. Eating six dates a day was my least.

I was technically two days overdue when we went in for my third foot massage. At that point, I wasn't putting much stake in any one thing inducing labor, and I wanted to be a hippie about waiting on him unless it became medically necessary to do something else.

After the massage, I came home and watched The Challenge on MTV (as one does), and started to feel more than just tightness in my belly. One of my pregnancy apps had served me a notification a week or so earlier about offering a contraction timer, so I started timing what felt like pretty normal period cramps at that point.

Raz was working in our little home office so I timed things and waited to tell him until he came to check on me. An hour or so after the tightening started, I drew myself a bath and waited to see if what I thought might be contractions would get more intense and closer together. A lot of women have several hours of pre-labor, so I figured I might be able to go to bed and wake up to more intensity. WRONG.

By about 11 p.m. things felt like they were progressing pretty quickly, so I called Raz and his laptop in to help me time the contractions. As I suspected, they were moving along pretty quickly. That's when I decided I better shower so I at least looked presentable if this was actually happening.

Raz came with me to our master bath (only our guest bathroom has a tub) and timed my contractions while I was in the shower. Longer and closer together. Longer and closer together. And way more intense. Like I had to close my eyes and lean against the wall intense. They started in my back and radiated around to my pelvis. Same went for when I got out of the shower and started putting my face on. I didn't get to dry my hair before we called the doctor. They were pretty quick to tell us to come in. Our bags had been in the car for a few days, so I grabbed my purse and we headed out the door.

By then it was about 2 a.m. I had gone from casual tightening to crazy contractions in a matter of four hours. I'm no expert, but that felt fast. As it turns out, it was.

It was nice to get to the hospital in the middle of the night because the parking garage was totally empty and people weren't really staring at me. The guy at the security desk looked at me and pointed to the bank of elevators we needed to take to triage (Funny aside: I was wearing a Delta Gamma crewneck I designed for our chapter's 100th anniversary. When my mom arrived about a half hour later, that same security guy asked her if she was with the girl wearing the Delta Gamma sweatshirt. She got to say she was.).

At triage, I had to lean on the counter and breathe through a few contractions before I could even sign the paperwork they gave us. For all I know, I sold them our house but, hey, the Seattle squatters' rights protect me, so there's that.

One of our midwives showed up soon after they got me in the bed and she checked to see how dilated I was: Nine. Centimeters.

I'm pretty sure I looked at Raz like "Told you." I was pretty proud of myself for getting that far on my own, but I wanted my epidural and I wanted it an hour ago.

Delivery: Around 4 a.m., our midwife broke my water and said I shouldn't have to push long, especially based on how quickly my labor had progressed. One hour turned into two, into three, into one point they added Petocin into my IV to try to get my contractions closer together. Our midwife also had to leave to catch a plane home for a family reunion and the whole nursing staff changed over. It was definitely not what we had expected in terms of how long I'd be pushing. There were a few times I cried silently between contractions, not because they hurt or because I was frustrated, but because of the sheer enormity of it all. I knew our lives were about to change forever and that felt really big.

Around 9 a.m. our second midwife recommended we bring in the doctor on call to use the vacuum. I'd been working hard pushing for so many hours and his head was stuck under my pelvic bone. Every push would get him to crown, but then he'd just get sucked back in. It wouldn't be long before he would get too stressed and I'd get too tired for anything positive to happen. That's when I lost it. I cried and cried because I felt like I'd done so much work and had nothing to show for it. Why couldn't I do this myself? The doctor was really nice to me in spite of my breakdown and assured me that if using the vacuum worked, it would still be mostly me doing all the work. That made me feel a little better.

Another thing that scared me about the vacuum was they told me I'd get five tries with it. If none of those tries were successful, they'd have to take him c-section. After such a quick labor and all that pushing, I was terrified of having to be cut open to get him out. I asked what the success rate was for the vacuum: "90%" the doctor told me.

"Okay, let's do it," I said. "Sounds like I don't have a better option anyway." I was feeling a little bratty at this point.

"You were sucked out with a vacuum," my mom offered. Raz and I looked at each other like of course I was. That also made me feel a little better. Our son wanted to be just like me ;).

After that, it seemed like the doctor snapped her fingers and a whole huge army assembled around us. As a precaution, they bring the NICU team in for vacuum procedures, so it felt like there were about 20 people in the room all of a sudden. She got set up, I felt a contraction coming on and asked if it was go time, she said sure thing, and the whole party started cheering for me. I'm not someone who usually wants the cheerleading crew, but at that point I was down for anything. A few "YOU CAN DO IT"s and pushes later, he was out, screaming and pooping to make his presence known. Everyone was crying and I just stared at him like whoa. That's who was in there this whole time? I think I was in a bit of shock.

They put him on my chest and the angle was hard to see all of him, but I did see Raz's nose and the cutest little face. Someone asked, "So who is this?" and through tears Raz said, "This is Oliver." We all started crying again.

Moving to Post Partum: I was supposed to move to post partum a few hours later, but the nurse forgot to turn off my epidural (I wasn't complaining, ha!), so we got to hang out in our huge suite until I was able to stand up. By then, everything was a blur. Nurses came in and out to get both of our vitals, but didn't bother us too much. They took us to a new floor and a smaller room that had views of the Sound. For the next 24 hours or so, we hung out as a family of three and mostly stared at the tiny human we created and ate like we'd never been fed before. I don't think I've ever been so hungry.

A few people came in to run tests on Oliver--hearing, blood, etc.--but for the most part, we were alone, which was really nice. We spent the night there and ordered a few free milkshakes and continued to stare at Oliver.

Going Home: It was mid-afternoon the next day when they let us go home. I put on the dress I packed and noticed my little gut poking out under it. I hadn't showered again yet. The nurse checked our car seat and we didn't even have to sign anything. They just let us walk out. It was all very bizarre.

When we got to the car, I turned to Raz and said to him: "It feels like we just got here." I couldn't believe we were already going home, and with a new ball and chain in tow.

Once we drove out of the hospital, we were smack in rush hour traffic. Oliver slept through most of it, but it was a good reminder that life goes on. I'm at the hospital having a baby and people are still sitting on the 5 honking at each other and merging without blinking. On that day, Oliver learned his first swear word from his daddy. Might as well start 'em young, amirite?

We pulled up to the house with an "IT'S A BOY" balloon twirling on one of our front sconces. Bouquets of flowers greeted us at the entryway, as did our fluffy children. Harrison sniffed the baby, hissed and ran away. Prima sniffed and stayed. Stared like we did. Followed us everywhere. She was ready to protect her new brother.

The Things (and People!) I Can't Live Without: I could go on and on about the things that have worked for us so far, but for now I've included a little roundup of products. Every baby is different, but a lot of my friends have had success with the same things included below. If you have questions about other things--like which breast pump I'm using, which bottles we like, binkies, etc., I'd be happy to send suggestions. We're learning and changing every day over here, so it's all ever-evolving.

Honestly, if it weren't for my friends who are all going through this thing at the same time (conveniently for us) and my mom helping a ton during the first few weeks, I'm not sure we'd have survived as well as we have so far. Raz has been a total pro with diaper changes and giving me breaks, but I'd be lying if I said it hasn't been rough. One month into this thing, though, I can say I've never loved another little being more, or felt so frustrated sometimes to be bound to it...but still loved it so much that it all feels worth it.

I'm going to try to write more about how it all feels and the little things we're learning as we go. If you have any requests, please let me know. Kudos to all the women who have done this well, and done it with more than one baby. Birth was nothing compared to hanging with the kid!

Photos courtesy of Meg Newton Photography

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