Stay Bump-to-Date! My 13 week update.

We are almost halfway through the FINAL week of the first trimester! Monday the 13th starts the second trimester- which is just insane. I don’t understand how fast the time is going. It feels like yesterday we found out we were expecting for the FIRST time, and here we are, 3 weeks away from the end of 2021 with a toddler and a 13 week fetus. It’s pretty crazy.

  • HOW FAR ALONG? 13 weeks 2 days.
  • DUE DATE? June 13th.
  • SIZE? Baby 2 is the size of a lemon! They are 3 whole inches in length from the tip of the head to the bottom of their little butt.
  • WEIGHT GAIN? I believe I have slowly begun to put weight on. They don’t really recommend you gain too much in the first trimester, however starting next week I am going to have to ramp up my food intake. 3x the fruit, 100000x the water, and lots of carbs… says me 🙂
  • NAME? We are only sharing name thoughts with family at this time 🙂
  • HOW AM I FEELING? Excited! I am cherishing my time with Emily, but I can’t wait to see her be a big sister.
  • CRAVINGS? Nothing currently. I had ice cream for the first time in months last night and it destroyed my stomach, so…
  • AVERSIONS? Chicken. I don’t want the stuff.
  • PHYSICAL CHANGES? There is a teeeeeeny bump showing down there. But it’s small. My shirts have definitely begun to get a little tight around the belly.
  • BABY MOVEMENT? Every once in a while I can feel pressure in there when it rolls around, but because the lemon is only 3 inches big, there’s not much to feel.
  • BELLY BUTTON? My belly button has been pushed a little higher than normal now that the bump has begun to grow.
  • MOST EXCITED ABOUT? Seeing Emily interact with my growing belly and eventually interact with her sibling.
  • LEAST EXCITED ABOUT? Nothing right now, to be honest. We are having another c-section, so I know what to expect.
  • PRENATAL VITAMINS? I am taking One A Day Prenatal Advanced Multivitamin with Brain Support. It has 800 mg of Folic Acid which is a very important vitamin that promotes development and growth. I am also taking a probiotic, vitamin C, D3, and B12.
  • SKINCARE? Superfood Cleanser by Youth to the People and a moisturizer by Clinique.

Stay Bump-to-Date! My 12 week update!

  • HOW FAR ALONG? 12 weeks!!!
  • DUE DATE? June 13th.
  • SIZE? Baby 2 is the size of a LIME! In the past week they have grown almost a whole inch!
  • WEIGHT GAIN? I am slowly starting to climb now. My last doctor weigh in was 164, so I would assume I am about 165-166 now.
  • NAME? We are only sharing name thoughts with family at this time 🙂
  • HOW AM I FEELING? I am feeling great. I am still a little tired during the day but I am getting my energy back. I definitely want to clean and bake all of the time.
  • CRAVINGS? Not really!
  • AVERSIONS? Chocolate. Which is a huge probe, because I love chocolate. And it’s not that I am having an AVERSION to it, it’s just my body doesn’t really want it right now.
  • PHYSICAL CHANGES? A teeeeeeeny time bump is forming. My uterus is just now starting to come up and out of my pelvis and soon it will start pushing outwards and upwards.
  • BABY MOVEMENT? It’s kicking away in there, but I won’t be able to feel it for another 8-ish weeks.
  • BELLY BUTTON? Still an innie! It stayed an innie through Em’s pregnancy so it may for this one as well.
  • MOST EXCITED ABOUT? My maternity shoot! It won’t be until the spring, but because of COVID I never got to do a maternity shoot with Emily. I am excited to incorporate her into this one.
  • LEAST EXCITED ABOUT? The third trimester. I wasn’t a huge fan of it last time.
  • PRENATAL VITAMINS? I am taking the same vitamins as last time, and have been for the past 4 months as we got ready to try again. I am taking One A Day Prenatal Advanced Multivitamin with Brain Support. It has 800 mg of Folic Acid which is a very important vitamin that promotes development and growth. I am also taking a Vitamin C, Vitamin D, and a probiotic. I also take a Gas-X when necessary, because growing a baby makes you gassy!
  • SKINCARE? I currently use the Superfood Cleanser by Youth to the People and I use a Clinique moisturizer.

Stay Bump-to-Date: My 11 week update!

It’s crazy to think that we found out we were pregnant at only 4 weeks along. That doesn’t happen to most women. If you’re trying to get pregnant, you are hyper aware of your symptoms and of course are looking for anything out of place, but if you aren’t planning on getting pregnant, you may not find out until you are 6 weeks pregnant, or you may not find out until you are 3 months pregnant!

I am grateful to have found out so early so that we can enjoy every step of the pregnancy.

We are only 3 weeks away from the second trimester! There’s a lot to happen in the next few weeks.

I have bloodwork next week for a prenatal screening. This tests for chromosomal deficiencies like Down syndrome. We also have an ultrasound next week to measure the fluid behind the baby’s spine, check the amniotic fluid, and measure the bridge of the nose. These again are all signs of genetic disorders that could affect the value of life for the fetus, so it’s important that these both happen between the 12th and 14th week of pregnancy.

  • HOW FAR ALONG? 11 weeks 2 days
  • DUE DATE? June 13th.
  • SIZE? Baby 2 is the size of a large strawberry, about 1.5 inches from head to butt.
  • WEIGHT GAIN? I lost a few pounds halfway through the first trimester but I have been slowly putting the weight back on. If this pregnancy is anything like my last, I should gain about 20 pounds overall.
  • NAME? We are only sharing name thoughts with family at this time 🙂
  • HOW AM I FEELING? Exhausted. Absolutely exhausted. My nausea has subsided but every day I feel drained around lunch time. Luckily when my MIL is here I’m able to sneak a quick 30 min nap in, and when she’s not here I’ll try to nap when Em is napping.
  • CRAVINGS? The other day I ate an entire bag of cheez doodles, so…
  • AVERSIONS? Meat, honestly. I just don’t want it. I’m fine with ground beef and things like that but I don’t want a full chicken breast or a steak.
  • PHYSICAL CHANGES? The tiniest of bumps is appearing, and my face has thinned out much like last time.
  • BABY MOVEMENT? None that we can feel! I won’t be able to feel fluttering for another 5 weeks at least.
  • BELLY BUTTON? These questions are getting silly! No physical changes yet 🙂
  • MOST EXCITED ABOUT? Watching Emily’s interaction with my belly as it continues to grow. I don’t believe she will understand too much what is happening, but she may understand the words “baby” and “tummy”. I will be working hard to make sure the transition from one to two is easy on Miss Emily. Also, Connor gets an AMAZING paternity leave, giving us most of the summer to enjoy our new family addition.
  • LEAST EXCITED ABOUT? Nothing right now. Maybe the lack of sleep or the having to treat the new baby like a porcelain doll. But those will pass!
  • PRENATAL VITAMINS? I am taking the same vitamins as last time, and have been for the past 4 months as we got ready to try again. I am taking One A Day Prenatal Advanced Multivitamin with Brain Support. It has 800 mg of Folic Acid which is a very important vitamin that promotes development and growth. I am also taking Vitamin C, a probiotic, and Vitamin D3. Having most of my pregnancy during the winter will be a little tough, especially with the lack of walking outside/sunlight I will be getting, so the D3 is a great supplement. I also don’t drink cows milk, so the extra vitamin D will help my own bones as I grow another human. I should also start taking B6 which is great for pregnancy.
  • SKINCARE? I am looking for new skincare, but currently I use a Neutrogena face wash. I think I am going to go back to the Superfood Cleanser by Youth to the People.
  • WORKOUT? I am trying to at least get a 20-30 min walk in every day. It’s hard working full time, and I am also so tired that just that walk exerts so much energy that I want to sleep for a year afterwards. Hopefully in a few weeks I will have enough energy to walk every day and maybe do some yoga at night or during Emily’s naps.

Thank you for following along pregnancy #2!

We’re Expecting… Again!

Holy shit. HOLY SHIT. We are PREGNANT!

I cannot believe it. I mean… alright. Here is the tea.

Connor and I REALLY wanted to start trying to have another kid. We love Emily, we love watching her grow and learn and develop, however we were craving the newborn phase again. TikTok- screw you for choosing the baby algorithm for our pages.

We knew that getting pregnant could take 6 months to a year for healthy and actively trying couples, so we began trying in July. Well… June. But I became to stressed with tracking my ovulation and planning sex, that we took a step back.

We decided that I would continue to take ovulation tests around when I would ovulate and I would track my cycle in the Flo app. I have been using the Flo app for years as a way to track my cycle and my sex life, and it was truly coming in handy this time. Back in May, I began tracking my ovulation. We knew we wanted to start trying soon for another baby, and we believed this was the best way.

I quickly became stressed and overwhelmed with tracking my cycle so rigidly and planning the exact minute we would have sex. It took the fun and the romance out of our sex life, and it made us both pissy and annoyed. We took a break and decided to just try without trying- meaning we would not use protection and we would ramp up around the time I should be ovulating.

For my own women’s health knowledge, I continued to track my cycle, as it had been wonky since getting it back after breastfeeding. I used to not spot at all before I got my period, and I would just wake up with it full force every 4th Monday. Now, I was spotting on Saturday and sometimes not getting my period for 3-4 days after. So I knew that tracking my ovulation would help me figure out what was going on inside my body.

We went through July and August having sex around ovulation, right when I received a positive ovulation test. Of course when you receive a positive ovulation test, that doesn’t mean you are ovulating that very second. That just means your LH hormones (luteinizing hormones) are at their highest and that you will ovulate a day or two following.

September was different. We knew when I would be ovulating, but I hadn’t taken an ovulation test yet. I came home on the 16th from getting my hair done and Connor had set up scented candles in the back room, so I knew what was going down.

Fast forward only about a week. I noticed my body odor was a little off. I never woke up really smelling, but I began waking in the morning and IMMEDIATELY needing a shower. I noticed that my discharge was super watery, and I began having a bad taste in my mouth. Then the day after Emily’s first birthday, I woke up with horrible nausea.

I know how pregnancy tests work, and I know I was taking them too early to register ANYTHING, but I took 5 pregnancy tests between September 20-September 28. All negative, obviously. Your mind makes you freak out, okay?

Friday morning I woke up, again, nauseous as all heck. I had work and a Dr. appt for Emily, so I just swallowed the feeling and went about my morning. After we got back home, I began gathering the ingredients for her cake for her birthday party. I felt like I was going to vomit right there, so I ran to the bathroom and took the last pregnancy test I had- the Clearblue Digital test. The test didn’t even wait the full 3-4 minutes. DING DING DING. PREGNANT!

Wow. Needless to say, we were shocked (even though we haddddd been trying). I scooped up Em and ran downstairs to Connor to tell him the news. I gave him the test and he said “Thank you. What is this? Are you pregnant?” So already the reaction was much better than waking him up at 8:30 in the morning to tell him we were pregnant with Emily.

We are absolutely ecstatic. We are still a tiny bit in shock, but that is par for the course when expecting a new baby, especially after you receive a positive test 2 days after your daughter turned 1.

I am now 11 weeks pregnant, we have told the world, and now we get to sit back and wait until June for our newest addition to arrive.

We are so excited!

The first 5 positive pregnancy tests I took (the first was the Clearblue digital).

I took 2 more 3 days later just to be sure.
Emily is excited, as you can tell.

Why I Stopped Breastfeeding At 4 Months

There is such a huge stigma surrounding how to feed your baby.

Let me kick off this post by letting every mama know that as long as your baby is growing, happy and healthy, it doesn’t matter how you choose to feed them.

I didn’t think I would ever like breastfeeding. Growing up, I never dreamed about breastfeeding my future child(ren). I was very indifferent on the topic all the way up until Emily was born.

The first time she latched and breastfed was the most magical moment of my life. You can see that moment here.

I mean…

From that moment on I was very adamant about strictly breastfeeding. We, of course, had formula at the house as a backup, but I only wanted to use that in the event of an emergency (infection in my breasts, supply disappears, etc).

Come mid-November, things had changed. When Emily got super hungry, she would refuse to latch. It was take near an hour to get her to latch to eat a decent meal. It was so frustrating every time I tried to feed her, as she would fall off or refuse my breasts.

Breast milk is stored in the milk ducts, which aren’t just readily available at first suck. The ducts themselves need to be stimulated (whether by pump, mouth, hand) and it takes up to 2 minutes for the milk to truly be released. Emily HATED that. She wanted milk right then and there. And there were times I couldn’t provide that for her.

One extremely bad night ended in hyperventilating crying from me and Emily, words between me and Connor, and I finally broke and made a bottle with formula. It was so hard for me to make the decision to give her a bottle of milk that wasn’t my own, but she needed to eat and I wasn’t producing.

She sucked the formula down, didn’t die, and fell right to sleep.

No harm no foul. The seal was broken (literally).

Moving forward, we agreed that when Emily was having a particularly rough feed, if I didn’t have breast milk pumped, she would have a formula bottle.

Fast forward to the 3 month milk supply drop. At around 3 months, your milk supply regulates. You’re only producing what and when your baby is demanding to be fed.

Em started getting more and more frustrated around meal times when the milk wouldn’t be readily available, but I was also producing a lot less than I should have been.

Following my diagnosis of COVID-19, I began feeding Em more formula and began pumping less, only breastfeeding overnight (if needed). She was sleeping 7 hours a night so we would feed her a bottle around 10 and she would go until 6:30 in the morning before needing food.

This trend continued marvelously. Emily wasn’t really breastfeeding, and was maybe once or twice a week suckling for comfort.

2 weeks ago from yesterday (February 16), was the last night I breastfed my baby girl. It’s a little sad! Such a huge part of your infants life, the food that kept her alive and growing made solely from your body, no more.

While I’m a little sad that chapter of our relationship has ended, I know that moving to formula full time was and is the best thing for us. Now, Emily is starting solids (yay!) and is still a happy and healthy girl.

I feel guilty that I had such a stigma surrounding formula. No matter how your baby gets fed- breastfeeding, pumped breast milk, formula, what have you- is the right way.

Losing It

I am 4 months and 4 days postpartum.

Since having Emily, I have lost my baby weight, making it back to my pre-pregnancy weight… and then I gained it all back.

I gained back 12 pounds in 4 months.

That is NOT a good feeling. I am not carrying it in my arms, or legs, or butt… but in my GUT. My belly is a foreign country compared to the rest of my body.

Yes, I grew a human. Yes, my body went through severe trauma with having a c-section. Yes, my body will never look the same as it did prior to delivering Emily. And I don’t want it to… but I am not happy with the body I have now.

I am proud of what my body went through to bring our baby girl into this world, but that doesn’t mean I am okay with the number on the scale. It doesn’t mean I am okay with my diastasis recti or my mommy fupa. I don’t hate my body- but I want to make it something that I can look into the mirror and say, “This body delivered a baby. This body is strong. I can play with my daughter. I won’t get tired running around at the park or going sledding. This is the body that I am proud to show off.”

It has been well over a year since I have done any strenuous physical activity. This month. February. I began my workout with Blogilates.

I have NEVER been one to sway from workout classes/trainers. I cannot go to the gym and create a workout on my own. I need motivation. I need someone pushing me to do the last squat or pushup. I mean, I was a dancer for 18 years, competitive for 12 of those. I know a thing or two about structure.

Cassey Ho is INCREDIBLE! I had never done a pilates class before, and LET. ME. TELL. YOU. 4 months postpartum or not, she KICKED MY ASS!

I started last week with a quick tone challenge from her as I awaited her February workout calendar to drop. I swear I thought all of my limbs were going to fall off.

At one point during her No Weights Arm Sculpting challenge, I took a wine break… have I reached peak mom? Pilates and wine…? Send help.

I am so excited and proud of myself for deciding to truly get back into shape. Connor and I have changed our eating habits tremendously and now it is time to incorporate physical activity. I want my daughter to be motivated by her mothers motivation. And I truly believe that she will.

Stay tuned each week as I update you on my weight loss journey!

February 2nd, 2021: 163 lbs and change.

Goal weight: 130 lbs.

Let’s go.

Ringing In The New Year… With COVID

What I’m living off of….

We have a 3-month old. We were so careful. We go to the grocery store, the doctors, and have only seen immediate family (sisters and parents) since September. In fact, the last people we saw had tested negative 2 days prior.

So how did we contract COVID? The truth is, we don’t know.

2020 was the absolute best year for Connor and myself. I know we can’t say the same for many other individuals across America, but we had a banner year. Getting engaged, finding out we were expecting, moving across the country, getting married, and giving birth to our beautiful daughter- nothing could top 2020.

Well, the universe decided that the Whiteley/Dupre household needed a wrench thrown into our life.

On New Year’s Day, Connor and I woke up with sore throats and stuffy noses. Now, we both have seasonal allergies and we’re overdue for colds, so we didn’t think much of it. We went about our day. The next morning, around 3:30am, I got up to feed Em. Connor woke up with me asking for an extra blanket because he had the chills… uh-oh.

After I fed Em, we took his temperature and saw he had a fever of 101.2. I didn’t have a fever. Well, fuck.

I put Em back in her room and retreated down the the living room.

Since Saturday, Emily and I have been living on the first floor of our house, and Connor has been living in our bedroom. Since the only out of the ordinary symptoms I had were a stuffy nose, we didn’t think I’d have COVID… but we’re certain he did. Fatigue, loss of appetite, fever, and a dry cough encompassed Connor as we went through the weekend.

On Monday, we drove to CVS to take COVID tests (sent through the lab for near accurate results). I’m still with Em downstairs.

Wednesday morning, results come in. Connor: Positive. Jenn: Negative. What? How could that be? We live together. Breathe the same air. Slept in the same bed up until 3:30am on Saturday. There was no way.

Well, Connor was still having the same symptoms, minus the fever, and I had only developed more congestion. It felt like a sinus infection.

I called my OBGYN yesterday and scheduled another COVID test. If it was indeed negative, Em and I were packing up and heading to my moms for a few days (she had COVID last month, and is no longer contagious/able to get it for 3 months).

Well, plot twist. I woke up this morning, Thursday, with a little more congestion. Took some Advil, nothing to worry about. Then, my beautiful daughter pooped. Unusual for first thing in the morning, but an impressive size.

I was laughing at how much she pooped, when I realized… I couldn’t smell it. I couldn’t smell my 3-month olds breast milk/formula poops. Oh FUCK!

Upon further investigation , I couldn’t smell or taste my morning clementine or tea.

The loss of taste/smell is one of the last and newest symptoms of the beloved COVID.

The worst part of all? Here is what we did last week: went to Emily’s doctor for her 3 month checkup. Went to the grocery store. Wore masks. Umm… what, COVID?

We are going on day 7/8 of symptoms, which means we only have about another 5-7 days of quarantining in our own house.

Thank you to our wonderful mother’s for doing our laundry and bringing us groceries. We couldn’t do it without you.

I know there are so many families who didn’t have the COVID that we do. We are so lucky that we have mild cases, the worst symptom being Connor’s fever. As long as Miss Emily doesn’t develop a fever (which I would think she won’t this late in the game) we are on the road to recovery.

Thank you for reading! Wear your masks. Be safe. It’s all going to be okay.

Emily’s First Overnight

Family is the most important thing to Connor and I.

Finding out almost 11 months ago that we were expecting our first child, family became the topic of almost every conversation… at least every conversation that didn’t involve money.

Connor grew up in Massachusetts and I grew up in New Jersey. both of our immediate families are still based there (spare my father in Texas and Connor’s sister in Brooklyn). Living in Los Angeles at the time of the pregnancy news, we both knew that moving back to be near family was the right thing to do- not only for us, but for our child and for our family.

Now that we are back East, and have been since April, making sure we see our family as much as possible is at the top of our to-do list.

The weekend before Thanksgiving, Emily had her FIRST overnight trip! Well, first overnight since being earth-side. We drove up to Massachusetts and spent the weekend with the Whiteley family. It was a surprisingly calm trip! Emily slept the entire 2.5 hour car ride, and didn’t have any inkling of a tantrum during our time at the Whiteley house.

While that was the case for Emily, mommy and daddy didn’t get off to the best start of the weekend.

Usually when going on a weekend trip, Connor and I pack one bag for the two of us, ONE. MAYBE two if we need to bring our laptops and/or books for any reason. And, mind you, these are the types of small-ish, over the shoulder, duffle bags from Victorias Secret or Target. One bag.

Now that we have our (wonderful) baby in the picture, packing for an overnight went from taking 30 minutes to throw our stuff together and get in the car, to almost an hour and 30 minutes… on a good day.

That 1.5 hours includes (but is not limited to):

  • Getting Emily dressed
  • Feeding the cats and leaving them Food Mountain
  • Cleaning/changing their litter box
  • Packing the diaper bag (including medicines, vitamins, diapers and diaper accessories, pajamas, outfits, and of course EXTRAS in case of spit up)
  • Packing our own overnight bag(s), now with extra shirts in case of spit up
  • Stroller
  • The bouncy seat
  • Bottle warmer
  • Pumped milk
  • Books for story time
  • Baby bathtub and bathing necessities
  • SHOULD I GO ON?!

Seriously. This is not half of what we need. Instead of taking our time, meandering out the door and heading to Dunkin for a coffee, we now run around like chickens with our heads cut off trying to gather up everything needed for our baby. Fun fact: we always forget something.

While packing for overnights is very stressful and time consuming, we can’t take for granted the quality time we get to spend with our family.

Here is a list of everything we pack for Em, plus a few more detailed explanations of our favorite baby products!

Diaper Bag

  • Diapers (Pampers or Kirkland brand)
  • Wipes (Pampers or Kirkland brand)
  • A&D ointment for diaper rash prevention
  • Little Remedies Gripe Water
    • This stuff works WONDERS for Miss Em’s belly. She is a very very VERY gassy baby, and the second Gripe Water hits her little belly. you can literally hear and feel the bubbles breaking up as it works its way through her gut. 10/10 will always recommend.
  • Mylicon
  • Little Remedies Pain Relief
  • Vitamin D
  • Mary Ruth’s Probiotic
  • Nasal Aspirator
    • Don’t be fooled- babies hate this thing
  • Boogie Wipes
  • Dr. Brown’s Nipple Wipes
  • Binkie… or 5
    • We use AVENT Soothers. They are the ones they give out at the hospital- fully rubber with a little hole for your finger to go in to help your baby latch better. We have the hospital one, plus a few pink and purple teddy bear ones!
  • Baby lotion
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Poop bag- legit a doggy poop bag to put dirty diapers in on the go!
  • Teether for future use just good to have on you!
  • Burp cloth x2
  • Receiving blanketThis is good to have in case you need a cover for the carseat from the sun/if your baby falls asleep in the store and you need to cover them from the light
  • Also good to use as a blanket
  • Onesies x3
  • Outfit x2Your baby will spit up
  • Footie/Nightgown x3See above
  • Socks
  • Hats

EXTRAS FOR ME

  • Phone charger
  • Nipple pads
  • Organic Nipple butterGood to keep on you if your baby has trouble latching or if you have cracked.dry nipples
  • Prenatal Vitamins
    • I use One A Day!
  • Birth control
    • This is super important. While exclusively breastfeeding, I have a 2-4% chance of becoming pregnant. Partner that with a mini-pill (progesterone only) and I have a 1% chance of getting pregnant. No more babies!
  • Lactaid
  • Advil or Tylonel
  • Toothbrush and Toothpaste
  • Deodorant
  • Extra shirt

Baby Gear

Baby Extras

  • Baby books for story time
  • Pumped milk (if any)
  • Bottles
    • Dr. Brown’s are preferred by us, AVENT are second!
  • Breast pump
  • Toys/stuffed animals

Stay tuned next year for my post on “Our First Flight With Emily” and “Our First Trip To Texas With Emily” (both coming Summer 2021).

3 Weeks Postpartum Update

It’s been three weeks since our world grew. THREE WEEKS since Emily Ruth entered our lives. The time is flying yet crawling simultaneously. Looking at her, it feels like she has been in our lives for years.

Motherhood is nothing like I thought it would be- both the good and the bad.

While 99% of the talk of having a baby is exactly that- the baby- the other 1% is just as important to take about. Postpartum recovery is nothing short of amazing and incredibly tiring. The physical and mental hurdles that a mother has to face once her child is born is not something that you can prepare for ahead of time. With raising a child, you can read all of the best books, all of Heidi Murkoff’s What To Expect series. You can take in all of the advice from your mom, mother-in-law, friends, coworkers, and strangers at the Subaru dealership. Raising a baby is something that every mother has done, and every mother will have “the answer”.

When it comes to your own postpartum recovery, no one has “the answer”.

My Postpartum Health

Physically, I feel amazing. I LOOK amazing. My body went through the most amazing journey these past 10 months. It created (with the help of Connor) and grew a HUMAN! A legitimate, tiny version of us. The female body… Growing up I always wondered what my pregnant body would look like. Would my belly be round or hang low? Would I gain a lot of weight in my thighs? Would my feet grow? Well, let me say that before giving birth, I truly never felt more beautiful than I did during pregnancy. I LOVED my belly. I began to appreciate my stretch marks. While I felt like I was going to fall asleep at any moment, and sitting/standing/walking/living made everything hurt, I loved what my body was doing.

After giving birth to our daughter, my perception of my body changed again. Now, 3 weeks PP, I can truly say that I have never been more beautiful than I am now. Yes, my stomach quite literally shrunk down and I weigh less than I did pre-pregnancy. My face is a bit thinner, although it is now graced with tired bags under my eyes. But those aren’t the reasons I love my NEW body.

My stretch marks are beautiful, natural symbols of what my body went through to create our daughter. In my uterus, I grew our child along with her placenta, an organ that my body created to sustain our daughter’s life for the 9.5 months she was inside of me.

My breasts, as HUGE as they are, are currently creating the milk that my daughter will eat and live off of until she can begin eating solid foods. Every 2 hours, my milk “comes in”, pins and needles and all, biologically knowing when it is time to feed our baby girl. One month ago, I was not pleased at the way my breasts looked- they were so different than my pre-pregnancy breasts. But now, I look at them with awe as I watch Emily eat from them 10 times a day.

My c-section scar is the most beautiful mark on my body. It showcases what my body went through to bring Emily into the world. It is healing beautiful and I can’t wait to show it off. My body is beautiful.

I have not yet been cleared to work out. I try to take a long, daily walk with Emily to keep up my physical and mental stamina. I do the laundry, wash the dishes, and tidy up around the house. in 4 weeks, I should be cleared to begin working out, getting myself on a physical journey that will make me feel good inside and out.

My mental postpartum journey hasn’t been as rewarding as my physical one. No one can prepare you for what you feel inside after giving birth. The second Emily was out of me. my extremely elevated hormones plummeted into the basement and deeper. What has been so high during pregnancy to ensure that my daughter was getting what she needed was suddenly gone, and I was the one who had to mentally calibrate that change.

It has NOT been easy. As someone who gets overwhelmed easily, has anxiety especially surrounding major changes (uhh having a baby), and overthinks every little thing that crosses her path, this new chapter in my life has been a rollercoaster of emotions. Lack of sleep aside, it has been difficult to work through my emotions when it comes to dealing with Emily. Yesterday was one of the more difficult days we had. Connor working from home is amazing, but it doesn’t mean he can help all of the time. My frustration levels rise very quickly, especially when I have to race naked down the stairs after just getting out of the shower to retrieve our crying child before she interrupts a work call. The dishes are never done. we had a pile of laundry so high it didn’t fit into 2 baskets. Emily’s clothes haven’t been folded or put away in 2 weeks.

Yes, she is my daughter. Yes, I love her more than anyone and anything in this world. Yes, she annoys the crap out of me and sometimes I just want to yell at her to shut the fuck up (which I did yesterday to no avail). Being a mother is NOT easy. Being a mother to a newborn is even harder. It is the absolute hardest thing I have ever done… but the reward of looking at my daughter with my husband is beyond worth it. All of the times I sit here blaming myself for not being a good mom because I can’t get my daughter to stop crying mean nothing compared to the joy I get while breastfeeding her, or the thought of her in a month from now smiling and laughing at her daddy tickling her little belly.

Postpartum is the fourth trimester of pregnancy, the one that has such a stigma over it that women are afraid to even say the word. It is incredibly difficult to raise a child with NO prior knowledge. It is even more difficult to accept that your life has changed forever. That your relationship with your husband has changed forever. That you will never be doing anything solely for yourself. And that is okay. None of the above has to turn into a bad change. You embrace what has come with this tiny bundle of poop and love and you do what you need to do to ensure that the other areas of your life thrive.

Emily Ruth’s Update

Let’s talk about our little Emily Ruth! It is SO hard to believe that our baby girl has spent three whole weeks on this earth. The time has flown… yet it has also dragged. Anyone else feel that??

Emily is amazing. Watching her grow, seeing her discover new things (as much as a 3 week old baby can discover), seeing the changes in her body and mind already… there is nothing better. She is SO STRONG! She was able to hold her own head/neck up at 1.5 weeks… for real. It was amazing to watch! She bops around, she kicks and grabs our hair. It’s incredible watching her figure out what different parts of her body can do.

The day we brought her home, we noticed physical changes in her- in just the 2 days we had her! In utero, babies absorb a TON of hormones from the mother. I mean, think about it. For 9-10 months, a woman is growing a baby. She has the biggest influx of hormones she will ever have in her life. She doesn’t get her period, meaning that this influx of hormones is stopping her body from doing something it has been doing once a month since she was 13. Her hormones have to sustain this new life that is growing inside of her.

Once the baby is born, the hormones received from the mother begin to expel from that little body in various ways. Emily had what you would call “period-like symptoms” for about a week and a half following her birth. She had discharge from her little tee-tee, both milky-like and bloody. This was a hugeeeee shock to Connor and I, giving her her first at-home bath and seeing this… blob… come out of our daughter’s privates. It is 110% normal in female infants, though, so nothing to worry about!

Way #2 to expel the mothers’ hormones- enlarged breast tissue and leaking from the nipples. Again- SO WEIRD if you haven’t read about it/haven’t had other children. This is most common in females, while male infants may have an enlarged scrotum as they expel their mothers’ hormones. Again, this is completely normal, just a little jarring for first time parents to see.

Way #3, and the most common form of hormones, is baby acne. About a week ago, Emily started developing baby acne on her little forehead. It has since spread down her nose and cheeks, onto her scalp and chest, and the back of her neck. This acne has shown in tiny little red and white bumps and has made her skin very dry. Her face is about 75% cleared up now, with dry and red patches scattered around. Seeing acne in a baby is so strange, as I’m sure it will be when she gets her first pimple during puberty.

The most exciting thing this week- her umbilical cord FINALLY fell off! Our baby girl has a bellybutton at long last ❤

I mean, come ON!!! Look at her little bellybutton! I think she’s gonna gave an outie!

Don’t mind her surrounded by A&D and Pampers

Bath time is still hard. We figured out that rather than be washed with a washcloth, Emily likes when you soap up your own hands and bathe her that way. I think she finds it more soothing. She doesn’t start crying until the last 2 minutes, when we wash her hair. She doesn’t like the water running over her face, us covering her ears, or the cold feeling she gets once the shampoo is rinsed out. Poor baby!

On the plus side, we are LOVING this Fischer-Price 4-in-1 Sling ‘n Seat Tub. Emily doesn’t love it as much, but hopefully when she is able to sit up a little more she will enjoy bath time!

Emily has officially met her entire immediate family. It has been wonderful watching our parents and sisters meet her for the first time. Emily is all of their first grandchildren, which means she gets SPOILED! It’s good for mommy and daddy- we don’t have to spend a dime! Emily will get to grow up knowing my mom, dad. and stepmom, and Connor’s parents. She will ALSO get to grow up knowing her GREAT GRANDPARENTS (my grandparents). That is something that is so rare, I cherish the fact that she gets to know two of the people so close to my heart… and now hers!

We love this little girl. It’s still hard to believe she is only three weeks old. Were have our entire lifetimes with this bundle of joy. I can’t wait to witness her first smile, to hear her laugh, to watch her crawl and walk and live and grow into her own person. Our beautiful baby girl is ours forever and ever.

Next week I will be publishing a blog post highlighting the most useful products I have found for both postpartum recovery and for living with a newborn. Subscribe to 2 Cats and a Bébé to stay up to date on my posts going forward!!

Emily’s Birth Story

One week ago, I gave birth to the most beautiful, most perfect, most incredible little girl. I cannot believe it has already been one week… while Connor can’t believe it’s ONLY been one week.

While we’re all doing great, my physical recovery is moving at the speed of light, and my emotional recovery is slowly on the up and up, Emily’s arrival did not come without a few (thousand) hiccups.

Emily’s arrival into this world began with a very false water break the morning of Sunday, September 27th. Having never gone into labor before, I wasn’t sure if my water slightly broke or if I was just having an increase in discharge. Amniotic fluid is clear/straw colored and has no smell- the stuff leaking out of me was exactly that, but it wasn’t a gush or a trickle. Being 41+1, we didn’t want to risk anything, so we called the Dr., packed up our stuff, and left for the hospital.

We arrived at Norwalk Hospital around 10:00am. Upon arrival, we both got our temperatures taken and were brought into our private Labor and Delivery room. I instantly got COVID-19 tested (negative!) and got blood drawn. I also had my oral temperature taken every hour while there.

I got hooked up to fetal monitoring devices to register Emily’s heart rate and my contractions (if any). I was also given an IV drip for fluids and was given an antibiotic for Group B Strep. Group B Strep is a bacteria that 1 in 4 women have on their genitals. It is not harmful to the mother, but could be harmful if passed to the baby via vaginal birth- the antibiotics prevent that!

Once the doctor arrived, she examined my cervix and checked for any dilation and effacement. The conclusion was: I was STILL, after 4 WEEKS, only 1cm dilated with about 40% effacement. My water had indeed not broken, and I was nowhere near giving birth to our daughter. We talked about our options for delivery, including administering Pitocin to induce contractions, when we began talking about my scoliosis surgery.

I had surgery to correct a 50/50 curve in my back 10 years ago when I was 15. I had Harrington Rods put into my back on either side of my spine to prevent any more curvature. The robs themselves extend from the bottom of my neck to the top of my lumbar- quite a lot of rods! Since I had the surgery 10 years ago, we never discussed how that would affect my future prospects with having children- something that has been on my mind since then.

Regardless of talking about my surgery and rods with my OB, they didn’t seem to understand the severity of them. Because the natural birthing position is on your back, pushing, while curling your back into a C shape (which I cannot do physically), the doctors recommended considering a C-Section. Even if I was given Pitocin, labor may not have started for hours, even days, and could have ended in a C-Section anyway. Connor and I took time alone to discuss this, as it was a complete 180 from my original plan of a natural birth. We agreed that it would be the best thing for me so that I wouldn’t be in pain, wouldn’t risk breaking my tail bone, and wouldn’t be stressed while trying to deliver our baby.

We scheduled the surgery for 1:00pm the next day, September 28th- my own birthday! They gave me all of the pre-op information, including that I needed to stop drinking/eating after midnight, and I needed to prep the surgical area with special sterile wipes.

We were so excited that in 24 hours we would have our little girl!

The next morning at 7:30am I received a phone call from the doctor stating that they had made a scheduling mistake. They scheduled the delivering doctor twice- one for a gynecological surgery on top of my C-Section. This meant that they wouldn’t be able to deliver Emily on the date and time initially promised. We were devastated. We were so looking forward to meeting baby girl. We rescheduled for 7:30am the following morning- September 29th. We were able to enjoy my birthday in peace and quiet, one last day as a family of 2.

Overnight, I went into labor. I didn’t know it was labor at the time! I had intense pelvic pain and pressure and couldn’t find a comfortable position to sit or lay in. These pain periods would come in waves and wouldn’t last a very long time. Around 9:00pm, I noticed that they were coming almost exactly every 20 minutes, and were to the point that I had diarrhea or vomiting with every contraction. And that’s when it hit me… I was in labor.

The contractions were far enough apart where I knew we didn’t need to go to the hospital. especially because we had a scheduled C-Section not 7 hours later. I mustered up enough strength, mentally and physically, and got through them.

We left for the hospital around 4:00am after feeding two very confused kitties. I didn’t need another COVID-19 test, as my first one came back negative. We did a little more bloodwork and got my vitals taken. I didn’t need to be administered penicillin since I was having a C-Section. It was an easy morning so far!

My delivering doctor came in and we spoke about the C-Section, I signed a consent form, and waited to speak to the anesthesiologist about my spinal block. The spinal block was going to be put in place to numb me from below my breasts to the tips of my toes- I wouldn’t feel a thing.

About eight years ago, my maternal aunt was diagnosed with malignant hypothermia. She had an allergic reaction to general anesthesia and was in danger of dying. She had amazing doctors who took care of her and she made it out alright, but this was something so new and unheard of for us that we didn’t know what it meant. It is something that is hereditary, and my mother has yet to get tested, so every step of the way I made sure to note that this was a possibiltiy going into surgery.

Things got delayed a bit since our doctor had another delivery down the hall. While we waited I received antibiotics to ward off any infections from the surgery, for compressions socks on, and threw up a few times due to nerves (pro tip: if your procedure is getting close, don’t ask what time it is. You will get nervous and throw up).

Around 8:15-8:30am, our nurse came in and told us there had been a change of plans. Because of the possible deathly reaction to general anesthesia PLUS the Harrington rods, they moved my surgery to the main hospital OR, rather than the maternity OR.  That’s not bad- except that if I received general anesthesia, Connor wouldn’t have been able to be in the OR with me. I would also be recovering in the main PACU instead of the maternity recovery ward, which meant I wouldn’t see Emily until I was cleared to go back down to my room in Maternity which could have been up to 3 hours. It all depended on how quickly I got feeling back into my legs and how quickly my vitals went back to normal. That was a little uncool and daunting.

We spoke with the head RN about our options and we’re given the thumbs up that no matter what happened, Connor would be with Emily every step of the way. This was the most important for us. I didn’t want our daughter to be without one of us, even if it meant not breastfeeding her until I made it down to the maternity ward.

What was scheduled for 7:30 didn’t end up kicking off until almost 9:00am. It was nerve wracking, waiting, and scary not knowing what the outcome of the spinal/general would be. 

We eventually got up to the OR and Connor headed around the corner to wait for the word on my anesthesia. I was terrified, as I was fully awake and alert heading into the OR… alone… without my husband. Through it all, I was able to receive a very successful spinal block! I was scared shitless, was shaking quite a bit, and ended up crying pretty heavily (from pain/pressure, embarrassment, and utter nerves about the procedure and having a child), but our anesthesiologist was FANTASTIC. He calmed me down, talked to me thru the administration of the anesthesia, snd was truly there for me every step of the way. Our main nurse also allowed me to squeeze the absolute shit out of her hands, and all of the doctors and nurses complimented my tattoos- anything to get my mind off of the pain in the small of my back.

Once laid on the bed, I had a catheter put in, and Connor was brought in the room. They hung up a curtain so we couldn’t see what was going on. We didn’t go south of the wall!

I was completely numb from the underboob down, and was given a nice, heavy dosage of pain meds which made me a little loopy. I was constantly asking if my arms were okay, as I had lost some feeling in them as well. I was also given medication for anxiety and nausea- the two go hand in hand for me. 

Our OB spoke to us through the whole procedure, telling us when I would feel pressure and what they were doing. I honestly couldn’t feel a thing. Not 10 minutes later, our fantastic OB said “There’s her head! Full of hair.” and the PA showed us our baby girl. Connors arm was in the way so I couldn’t really get a good look, but hearing her cry was all I needed to know she was healthy. 

Emily Ruth Whiteley. Born on September 29th, 2020 at 9:49am Norwalk Hospital. 6lbs 15.3 oz, 20 inches long. She is perfect.

Emily Ruth Whiteley. Born on September 29th, 2020 at 9:49am Norwalk Hospital. 6lbs 15.3 oz, 20 inches long. She is perfect.

Fatherhood looks good on you.

The PA called Connor over to the weigh station where he was able to watch her get her weight checked for the first time. After a few minutes, Connor brought her over to me and put her cheek on my cheek. She was the tiniest baby I had ever seen, and so flipping adorable (and that’s not just the pain meds talking). I immediately knew she was 100% her father. 

First time kissing her little cheek!

Connor got whisked away to the recovery room while I remained getting stitched up. Once everything was done and cleaned (only another 20 minutes more) I was brought to the recovery room where I saw Connor. We ended up going to the main OR PACU so that we could be close to the anesthesia desk, but we were out in our own private room. This was a huge advantage because it meant that after 45 min we could meet Emily!

Once she was brought up from L&D, we immediately started skin to skin contact and I breastfed her for the first time. It was the most magical moment- I started crying once she latched on (without a hitch I might add) as did Connor. Watching our daughter feed from my breast is something that will never get old. Until she gets old! It was truly beautiful.

I became nauseous quickly due to excitement and overwhelming emotions, so Emily was brought down to our maternity room with Connor. I stayed to make sure that I could move my legs before we headed down. I also needed to make sure my heart rate was approved since it was pretty high due to anxiety and throwing up. 

I made it down to the maternity ward around 12:30- just under 3 hours after Emily was born.

First time holding her after getting to the maternity ward.

Giving birth was nothing how I imagined it would be- and I would NEVER trade my experience for anything else. I love my daughter. I love my husband. I love what my body did for us. And I cannot wait to see what life has in store for our family of three.

One Week Old!