I can not believe how quickly time has flown by! It's insane how quickly our baby girl has gone from a newborn to a crawling, cruising, solids eating little lady! Even since we shot this video (almost 4 weeks ago), she has changed SO much. She's eating everything now and on the verge of walking! SLOW down baby girl! I love hearing from you so let me know what you think of this video below. Also don't forget to subscribe to my YT Channel and hit that bell so you never miss a video and let me know in the comments below if you have any questions or suggestions for more videos I should shoot.
These are products I swear by especially if you're a new Mom! Keep in mind that just like how every baby is different, every mommy's needs are different too! I also think having my Mommy friends help create my registry prevented me from ending up with random things I didn't use. I love swapping products with friends so you can try and test things before you decide to purchase them. We borrowed a swing for the first three months that our friend's daughter didn't really use but Milly enjoyed! I encourage you to share all your must haves with other mamas and then let me know in the comments below what your New Mama must have is! Scroll down to learn more and shop each item and then don't forget to click the bell on my YouTube channel so you get a notification every time I post a video (2-4 times a month if I can!)
When you're a mom sometimes it's a miracle if you find time to shower but on most days I try to pull myself together even if it's just for me. I loved interviewing Susan Yara & Sharzad Kiadeh of FAM: For All Moms on my YouTube Channel about their beauty advice for Moms. And then after you watch this video, head over to their channel to watch me share my natural birth story with them on their show.
Milly and I had the privilege of hosting Munchkin's first FB LIVE this year with my friend Molly and her son, Callan where we talked all about motherhood, the ups and downs of breastfeeding, tips and tricks to getting your milk supply up, bottle feeding and so much more. I hope to continue hosting more FB LIVEs and creating more parenting content on my YouTube Channel so if you haven't subscribed, be sure to subscribe now. I truly don't know where I would be without the community of Moms I've met in person and via social media. It's my goal to create a place for all Moms to share their stories and journey of motherhood so we can learn from and lean on each other. You can watch our first of many more discussions here. Thank you to everyone who has continued to support me through your viewership, engagement and more. Let me know what else you'd like to see on my site as I continue to create more content on food, travel, parenting and more.
Being able to introduce our daughter, Milly to the TODAY Show family and the rest of the world during our segment on the TODAY show is a memory I will cherish forever. It's funny because when I was invited to be on the show I knew I needed to find someone to help with Milly. Our good friend, Maureen aka GMo traveled from Philly to NYC to help us out only for Aunt Hoda to hold Milly while I worked! Baby girl was so excited to be on set and comfy cozy in Hoda's arms. Check out the entire segment and the recipes here and then scroll down for more photos.
My husband and I love to travel so we decided early on we weren’t going to stop going on trips just because we added a little member to our family! Thank goodness Milly is a natural born adventurer who loves to be on the go. She’s four months old and already she’s been on a handful of flights, across country twice and more weekend getaways than I can count. I’ve learned plenty of tips and tricks along the way and you can read about those here.
When I began the overwhelming task of packing for Milly, it was daunting. I already joke that babies are little hoarders so how do you choose what to bring when they need so much stuff? I decided to prioritize as many products that do double duty as possible. I thought about what things would make her comfortable and being away from home easier and finally, what things I use the most at home. Here are my 14 favorite products for traveling with a baby. Consider this your packing checklist!
While many hotels provide a crib you can borrow during your stay, I prefer to bring my own. Weighing in at under 3 lbs and super compact, it’s ideal for travel. Most bassinets are so bulky and big they take up an entire piece of luggage meaning that’s one more bag you have to pay for. I also like that the mattress is removable and the sheet is machine washable. This one folds up easily and is for approximately the first 3 months. The breathable mesh panels give such a peace of mind with an infant. We took this on several trips and it allowed us to go to bed knowing Milly was safe and comfortable. It should be noted that this bassinet should not be used when the infant begins to push up on hands and knees or has reached 15 lbs. (6.8 kg.), whichever comes first.
“Munchkin the Monkey” as we call him is Milly’s best friend. He’s been on every trip with us so thank goodness he can go in the wash! I understand parents want to bring their child’s lovey with them on trips plus the blanket, teethers and more toys but that leaves room for losing items! And that’s a whole lot of stuff to pack! This is a packing checklist on the essentials-what you really NEED to bring. I learned early on from my mommy friends that it’s best to have a travel lovey that only goes on trips with you….and to buy two ;) just in case. I love how this monkey pulls triple duty. The textured paws massage Milly’s sore gums. The crinkly paper is great for keeping her attention on road trips and it even rattles. Plus the clip at the top means you can attach it to almost anything.
Having a travel bottle warmer is a must have for our family. The last two trips we took were for my work so my husband was doing about half of the feedings using my frozen breast milk. This makes it convenient for him to feed our daughter when Mommy is working or on the go. The flexible heating band conforms to the bottle so it warms evenly and quickly. We even plugged the warmer into our Uber on the way to the hotel!
This has been Milly’s favorite bottle since birth. Luckily we didn’t have to try a dozen bottles before finding the perfect one for her because a friend had suggested we try LATCH™. For a breastfeeding mama I love the slow flow and ultra flexible nipple that flexes as she eats. It mimics the movement of a real breast. And the anti-colic valve helps ensure bubbles don’t travel through the breast milk meaning Milly goes to sleep just as easy as when she breastfeeds. I don’t know what we would do if my husband couldn’t feed Milly with such ease. And bottles aren’t just for when Milly’s away from me. There have been so many instances where we were glad we had a bottle ready for her (waiting in line to rent a car, in the taxi on the way home, during dinner at a restaurant, and many more.) Even if you are a breastfeeding Mama, make sure you pack at least two bottles including a little cleaning brush and soap when you travel. You’ll be so glad you did.
For the same reasons mentioned above, never go on a trip without a manual breast pump. You never know when you can’t breastfeed but need to relieve yourself and/or feed your baby. This is the best $30 I’ve ever spent. It’s small, easy to use, discreet and quiet. On long road trips I've used it to pump in the car (while my husband drives). I actually prefer my manual breast pump over my electric. It just feels more efficient and I don't need to be teethered to an electrical outlet to use it!
When you’re traveling with a baby sleep is so important. We sometimes give Milly two baths a day when we are on the road. One is for playtime that we make into an activity. This is great because it’s a nice way for her to play and let out some energy! The other bath is to calm and relax her before bedtime. Ironically, our favorite California Baby bubble bath is “Party!” and “Calming”! Organic, pure and safe it’s the only skincare I use on her.
When you’re on the go and your baby’s schedule is all out of wack, you want all the help you can get when it comes to getting them to sleep. This sound machine is as small as a baby bottle and battery operated so it’s super convenient for on the go. It’s instantly calming and since we use one at home too, Milly is easily taken to dream city as soon as I turn it on. Read more about why I swear by this when I travel here.
These super soft muslin blankets are so versatile. Use them as a swaddle, tummy time blanket, burp cloth, blanket, stroller cover, breastfeeding cover and more. I make sure my diaper bag, car and stroller always have them!
Baby wearing is truly key when traveling. I know us Moms are used to holding our baby and doing everything with one arm but save yourself the sore biceps by investing in a baby carrier. Until Milly is bigger, I’m using a hand-me-down one my sister gave me that she used with my nephews over 10 years ago!
While I won’t consider this a must have, if you travel a lot, it is worth the investment. This car seat and stroller in one is compact and easy for travel. It made getting in and out of cabs when we traveled to NYC a breeze. With one click it goes from stroller to car seat and vice versa. So narrow and small, it fit in the teeniest of areas. Having this on a trip eliminated the need to pack a separate car seat and stroller.
A diaper bag that doesn't look like a “diaper bag” was important to me when looking for something I could take on vacations, especially since I would also be using it as my handbag. Obviously I needed it to be functional too. The fact that this bag is a backpack-allowing me to carry one less thing –and it’s sophisticated and modern-I decided to get two. There are so many smart cubbies, and the zippered flap opens wide so you can easily grab all of your baby essentials.
Whether you’re traveling by plane, train or automobile you want your little one to be comfortable. Dress them in zip up sleepers so they stay warm and cozy. Changing their diaper is also much easier when you aren’t fiddling with snaps and buttons! These are also really great to wear in cold weather climates underneath their jackets and blankets so you can transition from inside to outside a lot easier.
This bag made bringing Milly’s car seat when we flew with her really easy. Rolled as a suitcase or worn as a book bag, we maneuvered through the airport with very little effort. The extra large zipper made it easy to fit our Doona in the bag even when we had limited space at the gate. What’s nice about waiting to check the car seat at the gate is if the flight isn’t full many airlines will give a vacant seat to your baby allowing you to use the car seat on the plane. Plus, if you do check your car seat this cover will keep it protected and safe!
This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Munchkin®. The opinions and text are mine. #munchkinpartner
Traveling can be stressful, add in a baby and it can feel like too much to even bother but I’m telling you right now, this is THE TIME to travel! Milly is four months old and she’s been on a handful of flights including across country twice. We took her with us on two business trips to New York City, conquered public transportation, the TSA and plenty of not-so-baby-friendly places. Plus, she’s been with us on weekend getaways to Temecula, Big Bear, San Diego and Palm Springs…and we’re just getting started.
Milly loves to be out and about. In fact, she thrives from it! Our babe is definitely not a homebody but we also started traveling with her early on and it became a part of her lifestyle. I remember friends with children telling us they didn’t go on trips until their baby was six years old and I never wanted that to be the excuse why I stopped doing things I enjoy.
Traveling with a newborn is actually amazing because they are so predictable. They eat, sleep and potty. They’re small. They aren’t mobile…yet. They don’t have opinions or tantrums and did I say they aren’t mobile? And they fly for free, people!
I’m here to tell you, you can do it. Whether you have a road trip coming up or a flight ahead-here are my tips and top travel must haves for not only surviving but enjoying a trip with baby.
Give Yourself Plenty of Time
Prevent yourself from feeling rushed or stressed by giving yourself plenty of time to do everything you need to do. If it took you an hour before baby, add at least another half hour with baby. Whether that’s allowing extra time to go through security at the airport or allotting enough stops on a road trip for diaper changes-if you build that extra time into your schedule, you won’t want to pull your hair out when you need to change your baby’s soiled outfit for a second time…which leads me to my next tip.
Preplan your baby’s outfits (including bibs & blankets) and pack them in zippered bags. This makes getting your baby ready super easy and then at the end of the day you can place the dirty clothes in the bag. I take pride in Milly’s diaper bag. Everything is organized and easy to find and that doesn’t mean I fill every pocket with something different. I find that you never remember where you put something and unless the bag is completely clear you spend more time searching for something when you need it. I love my goPad™ Diaper Changer. Every diaper bag should have one. This is a lifesaver! I can’t imagine traveling without it.
Instead of lugging the diaper bag to the lavatory on the plane or through a restaurant/store/etc. you just take this instead. It’s a diaper bag clutch. You can even hook it to the stroller. I keep it fully stocked with Milly’s diapers, wipes, cream and hand sanitizer so I can just grab it and go. The extra large cushioned pad makes sure she’s comfortable even when the sometimes make-shift-changing-table isn’t and it has an expandable bonus panel to use as she grows. The diaper pad zips off and the vinyl surface makes it easy to clean. There’s even a disposable bag dispenser that comes with 25 bags.
Know Before You Go
If you plan on flying with your child, know the policies before you go. If you have a child under 2, they fly free on most airlines...but some will give you a seat for your child as long as the flight is not sold out (so wait to check your stroller until you get to the gate and always check airline policies on extra bags, strollers, etc). Also, sometimes it's worth purchasing a seat for them even if they fly free. Consider this option for long flights. You will be more comfortable, your baby will be too and if you book it far enough in advance, it's really worth it. We recently flew across country and paid extra for "even more space seats." However, by the time we did that round trip, it was almost $400 for the upgrades. We decided it would have been better just to pay for a seat for our child to have our own row! Also, try to book direct flights so you don't have to deal with extra travel time due to layovers and stops!
Wear Your Baby
When you’re a mama, you’re used to doing everything with one hand but sometimes you need both of your hands, especially when you travel and that’s why a baby carrier is key! I actually use a hand-me-down baby carrier from 10 years ago that my sister used with my nephews. It makes traveling so easy, especially when I’m by myself. You don’t have to worry about where you’re going to put your baby when you need to do something or if the stroller is going to fit somewhere because your baby is comfortable and safe right on your chest. Eliminating having to push a stroller gives you so much freedom! We’ve gone through museums, spent hours exploring and site seeing and even went hiking with Milly in the carrier. Plus, she loves being in her carrier. She really enjoys looking around and seeing everything. And most of the time she falls asleep in the there!
A Rested Baby is a Happy Baby
Traveling can be tiring, especially for babies and it can be tough (even for me) to get quality sleep when on a trip. My secret weapon for getting Milly her much needed rest is her sleep soother. This Shhh…™ Portable Sound Machine is as small as a baby bottle and battery operated so it’s super convenient for on the go. It features three different sounds: shushing, heartbeat and white noise and has a timer. It also acts as a night light (that can glow solid or pulse) which I love since it does double duty when we’re away from home. We used this when we stayed with family and friends. I’ll use it to help drown out noise when she’s napping in her stroller. It was really useful when we traveled to the Big Apple because the portable sound soother helped to drown out any noise from the bustling big city below.
I hope this gives you the confidence you need to travel with baby! And remember that no matter what, everything you are is enough for baby! You got this!!! Stay tuned for a full round up of all my favorite products for traveling with baby! What are your travel must haves? Let me know in the comment box below and be sure to subscribe on here and YouTube and follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter so you never miss a thing.
What a blessing to be able to work with Abby Hollar of Consider the Lilies to create Milly's custom birth announcements. I've admired her work for some time now. Not only is she an extremely talented artist, painter and water colorist, but she has such an incredible eye and amazing taste. She's also a blogger, photographer, and the kind of friend you love to brag about! Working with her was so easy especially since I had no idea where to start. She pulled a couple ideas out of me and truly brought my vision to life. I shared with her how I have an affinity for protea flowers and ranunculus and then shared some photos of Milly's nursery for more inspo. I love the soft blue gray she chose for her name and the delicate rose gold color for the back. The floral wreath works perfectly with the newborn photo taken by Jenny Quicksall. We couldn't be more thrilled with how they came out! Thank you Abby!
My newborn sleeps through the night. Milly has been sleeping through the night since she was six weeks old. At the time of this article Milly is 10 weeks old. In fact, she’s been such a good sleeper since she was born that I used to need to set my alarm to wake her up and feed her. Also, because I would miss her so much.
Yes, I think she’s a good baby, an amazing baby actually but I also take partial credit for her good sleep habits because I’ve been committed to the same routine since she was born. Many of you have reached out asking me how I’m able to get her to sleep so well. I’m happy to share our bedtime routine in the hopes that it might help even just one of you restless mamas. I even compiled some helpful products I use along with some helpful tips.
PERSONALITY First, lets get this straight out of the way: @LittleAmazing is a Unicorn, at least that’s what her doctor says. I truly believe her sleep patterns have a lot to do with her personality so please take that into consideration when comparing your baby’s habits to hers. Oh better yet-don’t compare! Comparison is the thief of job! The last thing I want is for any Mama to feel like their baby should be on the same schedule as Milly’s. She is our laid-back beach babe born in the water and calm like the ocean. She truly just loves to observe the world and is a go-with-the-flow kind of babe. As soon as you view your child like a tiny adult you’ll soon realize that they have a mind of their own and have traits and characteristics innate to them. They might need something different to relax and get ready for bed so really tune in to who they are and what you think helps them relax and get sleepy.
EXPECTATIONS During growth spurts, milestones and leaps the same thing that worked on your baby the night before might not work today. Babies are constantly changing and growing-especially during this first year so be nice to yourself as you navigate a new routine that works for your baby and their ever evolving life.
MEALS, not SNACKS Milly is breastfed on demand unless she's with her Daddy. But on average she eats every 2.5 hours (she's 10 weeks old). She is typically on the breast for 15-20 minutes. I've talked to a lot of Moms who have difficulties with their child falling asleep at the breast so they aren't eating enough calories throughout the day and therefore, hungry more often. Milly's pediatrician recommended putting a cold wet wipe on her neck or back to stimulate her to keep her awake.
WATCH & LISTEN Babies make lots of noises. Funny noises. They grunt and they squirm and squeal. They do a lot of kicking (usually to relieve gas) and moving around. We found that when Milly did this she usually was fine and fell back asleep. Most of the time she would settle down and fall back asleep within a couple minutes. Sometimes she would even yelp (not cry) but we would wait and watch her and see if she was just making noises or actually upset and in need of something (hungry for milk, in need of a burping or a diaper change). We would never let Milly cry or get upset but sometimes even just talking to her or rubbing her back soothed her back to sleep. I definitely don't believe in the "cry it out" method especially when you are talking about an infant. I encourage you to watch & listen to your baby and pause a beat before you pick them up. This is the first step to teaching your child how to soothe themselves.
ROUTINE Babies crave routine, structure and consistency. However, leave some flexibility in there too! The other day we stayed out late for a birthday party so Milly didn’t get her typical nap before bedtime. Everyone wanted to hold her and she was being over stimulated so there was no way she was going to sleep. However, on the drive home she slept a bit and then as soon as we got home we followed the same routine we do before bed. I really think our babies are incredibly smart and are tuned into what lifestyle we set up for them. Milly has gotten used to our routine so much so that she will immediately put both arms down when I swaddle her at night. She actually smiles at me before bed EVERY time. She knows it’s time for bed. There’s no crying or fighting it-she understands it’s sleepy time and she falls fast asleep.
Milly’s sleep schedule has pretty much coordinated with her weekly age since she was born. At three weeks old, she was sleeping 3 hours at a time. By four weeks, 4 hours at a time, five weeks-5 hours at a time, six weeks-6 hours at a time, seven weeks-7 hours at a time.
Here’s our routine at the age of 10 weeks (I've made updates to this schedule after Milly turned 3 months. You can find them in italics below.):
- Between 7:30pm-8:00pm: I feed her from the breast-this is her last true feeding of the day. Our last feeding is always in her room with a dim light on only.
- From around 8:00pm-9:45pm she gets skin to skin time with Daddy. She usually is awake for 30 minutes to an hour and then passes out on him.
- No matter what -at around 9:45pm my husband gives her a diaper change. She is mostly still asleep.
- While he is doing that, I’m turning on our sound machine and our humidifier essential oil diffuser in our bedroom (Milly sleeps in a bassinet beside our bed.) Also, I plan on writing a post eventually on the essentials oils I use in there for sleepy time.
- Around 10pm I give her a "dream feed." We do this with the lights dim in her nursery and she usually feeds with her eyes closed.
- Then I burp her and carry her to her bassinet, swaddle her (I've found that as long as I use an arm swaddle, you can put any other swaddle over this. I prefer one that zips up), and tell her affirmations while massaging her forehead and third eye.
- She falls fast asleep within a couple minutes.
- She wakes up 7.5-8 hours later between 5:30am and 6:00am.
- My husband usually unswaddles her, changes her and then hands her to me where I feed her in the nursery with the lights dim. She usually eats for about 20 minutes and then if I can-we take a nap together for a couple hours. She is in the dock-a-tot and I'm on the couch or I put her in the bed with me.
- At around 8:30am-9:00am, Milly wakes up and is ready for the day!
Here's Milly's routine from the age of 3 months and beyond:
- Between 7:00pm-7:30pm: We change Milly's diaper, put her in her pajamas and then I feed her from the breast-this is her last feeding of the day. During this time Daddy reads her a couple books.
- Around 7:30pm/7:45pm: After I burp her, I put her in her swaddle and place her in her bassinet. Currently we use the Dock a Tot Sleeper in her bassinet for sleeping. I tell her affirmations but usually she falls asleep within seconds.
- She has not woke up during the night since this new schedule.
- She wakes up between 6:30am and 7:30am.
- Currently Milly takes three 1.5-2 hour naps a day. I find that the more she sleeps during the day, the easier she goes to sleep at night but since we are "always on the go" she naps in the stroller, car seat or in the carrier.
SECRET WEAPONS The following products are newborn Mama lifesavers and I truly believe each one helps create the best possible environment for success.
And if you can really INVEST or splurge on a smart bassinet. I'd highly recommend the SNOO. Some people have compared it to having a night nanny. Several of my friends said this was a lifesaver for their fussy babies. DISCLAIMER: My friend actually gave us the Snoo but we didn't end up using the functions because Milly was a little sleeping beauty.
Again, every little one is different but this is what has worked for Milly. I hope this truly helps some of your restless Mamas! I'm happy to answer any questions as well.
Whether you're pregnant now and creating your baby registry for your upcoming baby shower or you have a friend who is expecting and not sure what to get them, here are some of my absolute favorite gifts I received from friends & family! Scroll down to shop all of the items featured! Be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel for more content and let me know in the comment box below what other videos you want me to make! Thanks! xo
#1 Cloud Be Sleep Sheep http://rstyle.me/n/cratnxcbzxp
#2 Personalized Clothing http://rstyle.me/n/cratp5cbzxp
#3 Children's Books http://rstyle.me/n/cratq6cbzxp
#4 Moby Wrap http://rstyle.me/n/cratswcbzxp
#5 Munchkin Mozart Music Cube http://rstyle.me/n/crattkcbzxp
#6 Moses Basket http://rstyle.me/n/cratuscbzxp
#7 aden + anais swaddles http://rstyle.me/n/cratvjcbzxp
#8 California Baby Products http://rstyle.me/n/cratwhcbzxp
#9 Personalized Towels http://rstyle.me/n/cratxscbzxp
#10 Homemade Gifts-needlepoint art http://rstyle.me/n/crat2ecbzxp
Full disclosure: Little A is currently on my breast learning how to latch so I’m using two fingers to type. Today was a big day! We took her to her first visit to the pediatrician, ran some errands and got home later than I thought we would. I planned on writing this birth story last night but was so sleepy between feedings! Plus I can’t put her down and I know I’m supposed to sleep when the baby sleeps but how is that possible when I can’t stop staring at her?
Our @LittleAmazing Birth Story PART ONE
Milly Blake Simon
Born 7.7.17 at 7:07am
6lbs. 7.5 oz 19.5” long
Despite having an “easy” pregnancy and really enjoying being pregnant, like many other mamas-to-be, the last couple of weeks of pregnancy are tough. You feel like your body is maxed out. There’s just no way there is any more room for this baby to grow. It was getting harder to bend, harder to breathe and days on set were leaving my ankles as swollen as softballs. During the last two weeks it was especially tough as I started getting Braxton hicks and back labor. The Braxton hicks were manageable. The back labor on the other hand, was brutal. It felt like fire and it would come every hour or so…even at night- so not a lot of sleep for this mama-to-be. The only thing that would relieve it was stretching my back and doing cat cow pose on all fours or rotating my hips on a yoga ball for several minutes. I actually had a segment on the 4th of July for KTLA and between teases I left set to go to the green room and do cat cow pose on the floor to relieve the pressure! Thank goodness no one saw this pregnant lady in her dress on all fours!
The day before Little A came I was ready. Mentally and physically I felt like she was going to come on the 7th of July. My original estimated due date was 7.17.17 but Mr. A and I had joked that it would totally be OK if Little A came on 7.7.17. Both dates are pretty lucky! On Thursday July 6th, I had a meeting in Studio City and then decided to go to Caioti Cafe to get “The Salad.” This magical salad is known to naturally induce labor. I had heard all about it and definitely wanted to try it. I mean- it couldn’t hurt. Plus, I had to eat something for lunch! The salad is basically greens, walnuts and Gorgonzola cheese but the secret is in the balsamic dressing. I ordered the salad and asked for extra dressing. I stopped by POPSUGAR Studios to grab some mail and told all the girls to send 7.7 vibes my way.
When I got home I decided it was game time. I started going down the list of natural ways to induce labor. I ate the salad, drank some raspberry leaf tea (another thing known to get contractions going), did some lunges and continued down the checklist. I even had Mr. A do some acupressure on me. We went to bed around 10pm and I put it all in God’s hands. I obviously know the baby will come when the baby is ready but I had a good feeling going to bed.
At 1:24am I was jolted awake by a contraction and the feeling that my water was breaking. I ran to the bathroom just in time and felt my water break. Immediately I started having contractions about 3-5 minutes apart. I texted our doula, Darla to let her know what was going on. I thought maybe I’d try and go back to bed a bit. What a joke. The contractions were too close together so I stayed in the bathroom for a little over an hour and timed them on my phone. They were strong and consistent. The hour flew by. At this point I didn’t realize Mr. A wasn’t awake. He had been waking up with me every hour for the last two weeks to give me counter massages anytime I had back labor so I didn’t realize at 3:00am that he was still sleeping. I decided to wake him up and tell him the exciting news. I was beaming from ear to ear. Knowing my water broke and I was in active labor just made me so excited because I knew Little A was on their way!
Mr. A immediately started helping me relax and breathe into each contraction. During my pregnancy we had been practicing hypnobirthing at home plus we had taken hypnobirthing classes with Nina Phelan of Soulful Birth for the past month every Sunday for three hours. Nina was absolutely imperative in making us feel confident and ready for natural birth. Her class is phenomenal and equipped us with so much strength and power to conquer our natural birth journey. I feel like she really prepares the fathers and significant others of the mamas to be doulas. I know I couldn’t have gotten through each wave (the term we use for contractions in hypnobirthing) without Mr. A. He was the best partner ever. He started timing the waves and letting me know when they’d be over. That’s the beauty of labor. People never talk about the space between the waves when you aren’t contracting. Your contraction might last a minute but then there’s space between each one-even if it’s just four minutes or one minute like what I was experiencing. They are just like the waves in the ocean. The wave comes up and then there’s a beautiful space where the water is still. The ocean is calm. This is a gift and a powerful time for your body to relax, breathe oxygen in and not focus on the wave that’s up ahead. He would count down and keep telling me “Only 20 more seconds left baby. You got this. You’re so strong. I love you. Just breathe. Thank you so much for doing this for our baby.” I could cry just thinking about how grateful I am for him. He was incredible.
Around 4:30am the waves were getting more intense. I decided to get in the shower hoping it would relieve the pressure. It was absolutely fantastic. The warm water felt like a massage and made the waves bearable. I didn’t want to get out but was worried it might relax me too much and slow down my labor. I continued to trust my body. I kept thinking to myself “Your body was made to do this. You are doing this.” Leading up to my delivery I knew I wanted to labor at home as long as possible. I knew I would be most comfortable at home and had set goals for myself to only get to the birth center when we were ready to start pushing. Little did I know I should have been a little more specific with my goals and vision.
Our doula checked in with Mr. A at 5:00am and quickly realized I was probably farther along than we all thought. Anytime I had a contraction I would lean against the wall and just breathe through it. I was taking sips of water between each wave so I could stay hydrated. Looking back I didn’t think a first time delivery could go that quickly but now it was 5:30am and things were really picking up. Mr. A texted our certified nurse midwife, Simona around 5:45am and first she said “Why did you wait this long to text me? And why are you texting me and not calling me!” Whoopsy! She was concerned I could have the baby at home!
I could feel the baby move. Around 5:50am I felt Little A in the birth canal. The baby was coming! All I wanted to do was bear down (Go Wildcats! U of A reference) and start pushing. It took so much strength for me to decide to leave the house and head to the birth center but I wanted my water birth damn it!
I told Mr. A to grab our bags and put them in the car and then as soon as he’s ready I would start walking to get in the car. Both our doula and midwife said they would meet us at the birth center. As we were leaving Mr. A asked me “Are you sure it’s time lovey? You’re still communicating.” One thing we learned in our birthing classes was that when a woman is in transition or ready to start pushing she will go inward and quiet and won’t be able to talk. She will be primal and focused on her body and the baby and probably not able to communicate anymore. I, however was so verbal that when we walked outside I reminded Mr. A we needed to move my car to the driveway so we didn’t get a ticket for street cleaning that morning.
We got in our car at 6:15am and headed to the Natural Birth Center. Mr. A put on our rainbow relaxation guided meditation to help me relax and stop from pushing and drove us as safely as possible. Keep in mind this is a Friday morning in LA. We live in the South Bay and had to get to Beverly Hills. If we had left any later, it would have taken us at least an hour to get there. Luckily it took us about 25 minutes. They were the longest 25 minutes of my life. I kept my eyes closed during the drive to stay focused on my breathing and listened to our tapes. Mr. A gave me constant updates on how close we were and how much farther we had to go. A couple times I started moaning and pushing and then I would try and stop myself. In between the intensity I would talk to Little A and tell our baby to stay in there a little longer. “Not yet baby. We aren’t there yet. Almost baby. We are almost there, baby.”
We got to the birth center at 6:40am and I jumped out of the car and flew up the stairs like a monkey. We had arrived before our certified nurse midwife and doula. Luckily a midwife student on call, Addi was there with a nursing assistant, Mayra. As soon as I saw them I was so relieved. We’ve gotten to know both of these women for the last 10 months at every check up and every appointment and it was so surreal to see them that morning knowing that we were about to have our baby. As they were turning the lights to the office on, I told them to get the water in the tub because the baby was coming. I’m not sure if they thought I was really ready or if they were trying to have me wait for Simona but there was no time for that.
I got in the tub around 6:45am. I remember my sister, Sonya (who also had a water birth with my nephew, Bexton) said that as soon as you get in the water, you feel amazing relief. She was right. It felt wonderful but I also knew it was game time. At first I was just trying to breathe through the feeling to push. I didn’t want to rush things and all of the sensations were so foreign. It’s an unknown sensation you’ve never felt before. It’s what other moms tell you about but you can’t really explain until you are actually experiencing it. I knew I wanted to surrender to my body and let it do what it was meant to do. In that moment I also recalled my prenatal yoga instructor, Khefri telling the mamas in her class that pushing “feels good”. I know that sounds bonkers but I think what she meant by that was it feels good to finally be able to push the baby out knowing that you are that much closer to meeting your baby. Right before 7:00am I started breathing the baby down and pushing. I pushed three times and then held her there. As I held Mr. A’s hand I took one big breath for more energy and pushed once more. Then I grabbed my baby under the water and pulled her to my chest.
I did it! I did it! That’s all I kept thinking after I had Little Amazing. Our baby was here. It was really happening. It was almost like I was having this out of body experience. It didn’t feel real. I had watched so many beautiful natural birth stories including my sister’s and now I was living it. I had just delivered our baby all natural, medication free in the birthing tub. I had been visualizing this exact scenario over and over in my head for months and now it was actually happening. I remember locking eyes with Mr. A, both of us absolutely beaming with astonishment and saying “I love you” to each other.
I held the baby against my chest and couldn’t stop staring. I was in a baby daze! Finally one of the assistants asked what we had. We totally forgot to look! I asked Mr. A what the baby was. Boy or girl? I turned the baby around to face him and he said “It’s a girl!” And immediately I knew she was.
She was so tiny-like a glowworm. I couldn’t get over it. I was finally meeting this precious gift from God that He chose for us. This little baby we had been talking to, singing too and loving on for 10 months. I was holding our love baby, our baby we were meant to have exactly when we had her. Milly Blake Simon. We had always known our baby girl’s name. We both had thought of it together-inspired by my maiden name, Milloy. Mr. A would always say, “It’s the best name. How could you not love that name?” It always felt right. Even when we were looking for our first home, we would go to open houses and if we didn’t think the house had a room that was right for Milly, we knew it wasn’t our home. And I think even though we waited to find out the sex of our baby, deep down we knew it was a little girl.
Minutes after I delivered Milly, our certified nurse midwife and doula showed up. I told them I was so sorry they didn’t make it but they were both so happy for us. I was still in the tub and it was perfect timing. We were able to do delayed cord clamping, cord banking and I delivered the placenta with ease. Little A got so much skin to skin time with Daddy and we both got to love on her for hours. I started breastfeeding baby, we called our families to share the good news and by 11am we were on our way home! Welcome to the world Milly Blake Simon. You are so loved!
I will never get over how amazing our natural birth story was but I’m confident there were several factors that made my delivery smooth. To find out what I did that I attribute to having a short labor and smooth delivery, stay tuned for PART TWO of our birth story. In the meantime, let me know your thoughts in the comment box below and be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel for more or our Amazing Life!