I learned how strong I really am when my birth plan went out the window—twice

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It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of planning, it was the age of spontaneity, it was the season of control, it was the season of chaos, it was the epoch of predictability, it was the epoch of fluctuation.


We had everything before us, and even though nothing went according to plan, it was, undeniably, a time of miracles.

“Well, I’m so glad we did this ultrasound. He’s breech,” the midwife informed me nonchalantly as if confirming that my baby did indeed have two feet. I was 36 weeks pregnant with my first baby, and I had no clue what that even meant.

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“You’ll need a C-section,” she continued, before giving me the brief rundown of risks and statistics.

Tears streamed down my face as I quickly grieved the birth plan I was giving up. The birth plan—that, up until that point—had been incredibly flexible. It was so flexible, in fact, I hadn’t even bothered to write it down.

My birth plan was simple: Go as long as possible without drugs. Attempt a water birth. If I start saying bad words, bring me the drugs ASAP.

See? Simple. There was no five-page plan, no birth playlist, no list of demands. And yet, upon hearing that my easy-breezy birth plan was not going to be the plan, I was nothing short of devastated.

I took home a pamphlet titled, “How To Flip Your Baby” or something of that nature. It was a tri-fold full of safe home remedies a pregnant woman could attempt in hopes of turning her baby around. I hoisted myself into the car, big pregnant belly pushed up against the steering wheel, and let warm tears fall all over the brochure while I called my husband and told him the news.

The next 24 hours looked like something out of a sitcom. Picture me lying upside down on an ironing board propped up against the couch with a bag of frozen fried rice on the top of my belly, a heating pad on my pubic bone, and a pair of headphones streaming loud music tucked into my underwear.

My husband shined a flashlight at my belly button and held an empty paper towel roll between his mouth and my lower stomach. His voice boomed into the paper towel megaphone, “Baby, it’s your father. Come down here. Step into the liiiiiight!!”

The whole scene was equal parts hilarious and pathetic.

When I wasn’t lying upside down on the ironing board, I was doing cat-cow exercises and various yoga poses. I cried on and off all night, desperately trying to keep my hormones in check and my optimism high.

“Do you want to take a bath? It might help you relax,” my husband suggested.

I followed his advice and immediately burst out laughing when I stepped into the tub. He had taped a picture above the faucet, an illustrated baby in the head down position with the caption, “C’mon baby! You can do it!”

The next day we returned to the birth center to see if our home tricks had worked. They hadn’t. We met the doctor for an external cephalic version treatment, which is a fancy way of saying she tried to turn the baby manually with her hands.

It was just as painful as it sounds.

The doctor, God bless her, pushed as hard as she could. I closed my eyes and breathed through the pain, saying turn baby turn in my head with each exhale. I watched the doctor’s face and could tell it wasn’t working. I cried, again.

The doctor measured the baby’s head size and quickly ruled out the option of a vaginal delivery. She recommended a scheduled c-section at 39 weeks, and that was that.

On May 7th, my son was born, cut straight from my body and immediately placed on my chest. I have never cried so hard in all my life.

It was a miracle.

When I got pregnant with my second baby, I opted for a repeat C-section. Nobody was more surprised about this decision than I was. Me, the girl who spent an entire night lying upside on an ironing board with headphones in her pants, all to avoid a C-section, was willingly asking for another one.

I did heaps and heaps of research about VBACs vs. repeat C-sections, and I spoke to friends who had done both. I talked to the doctors and midwives about all of my concerns, the biggest of which is my first child’s head size, which was 98th percentile at 39 weeks.

Could I even do a VBAC? What if my second baby went to 41 weeks and had an off-the-charts head size? What if I labored all day and ended up in a C-section anyways?

Lots of people had lots of opinions, but after reading my fair share of statistics and speaking with the midwives, I had to combine the research with what was in my heart.

And in my heart, the shocking truth was: I had no desire to try a VBAC.

As strange as it sounds, I longed for the same birth experience I had already endured: the oasis of that familiar operating room, a numb body that felt no pain, the magic moment of having a baby placed on my chest within a blue curtain cocoon. I wanted the method that felt comfortable, safe, recognizable. I desperately wanted a repeat of the only birth experience I had ever known. Another C-section didn’t scare me at all, but the thought of doing a VBAC was terrifying—just thinking about it gave me anxiety.

So, we unabashedly decided on a C-section and announced the date to all our friends. Our second baby would be born on October 27th. I circled the date in my day planner and drew little hearts in the box.

I arranged for the house to be professionally cleaned on the 26th, and we lined up childcare for our 2-year-old. I scheduled one last hair appointment, and we made a plan to go to Costco the weekend prior to stock up on things like toilet paper and laundry detergent. Check, check, check; all my ducks were in a row.

I felt confident, peaceful, totally in control of my own life.

Which is why, three weeks before my scheduled C-section, when I started feeling Braxton Hicks on an otherwise normal Friday night, the possibility that I was going into labor hadn’t even occurred to me.

(Insert pity laughter here.)

As it turned out, those Braxton Hicks were real contractions, and pure chaos ensued. The birth center instructed us to come in, my friend scrambled over in her pajamas to watch our 2-year-old; I took a shower, and we were out the door. My husband didn’t bring so much as a change of clothes.

We arrived at the birth center at 1:00 am looking like a couple of lost teenagers. A nurse named Antoinette took pity on our panicked faces, and, after checking me, gently informed us of the unthinkable: “You’re a three. This baby is coming tonight.”

What followed might as well have been a scene from that TV show I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant. We had signed up for birth classes with the first pregnancy, but only attended one class before receiving the breech diagnosis. We decided it would be a waste of time to go to the rest.

Birth class dropouts, my husband and I had never skimmed a single birthing book. The closest thing I had seen to a live birth was a couple of YouTube videos, and that Katherine Heigl scene from Knocked Up.

My husband kept asking if I wanted music, which only made me angry. I didn’t know what I wanted. I didn’t know what I was doing. So I walked around the room groaning and almost hyperventilated a few times because I wasn’t breathing properly, as Antoinette kindly informed me.

Again, it was all so hilarious and pathetic.

A couple of hours later, the nurse checked me again and told me it was time to push.

“WHAT?” I yelled. “Can I still get drugs?”

She assured me that I could, but they never came. Within the hour, my body writhed with unspeakable pain and did the thing I guess it was capable of doing all along. On October 4th, one whole month before his due date, my second baby came out the old-fashioned way and was immediately placed on my chest. I have never screamed so loud in all my life.

It was a miracle.

I’m far enough removed from both experiences now to simply laugh at the irony: my planned water birth turned into a C-section, and my planned C-section turned into an all-natural VBAC.

Essentially, neither of my births went according to plan.

And you’re supposed to have a plan, right? You can hop on Pinterest and find everything from "What To Pack In Your Hospital Bag" to charts debating the Bradley Method vs. Hypnobirthing. With the help of the Internet, you can easily learn how to write the perfect birth plan, how to create the perfect birth environment, and how to train the perfect birth coach.

And while I do believe in planning (Monica Geller is my spirit animal), sometimes I wonder: Are we placing too much focus on planning the “perfect” birth? Is the pressure of birth empowerment consuming more of our time and energy than the actual transition of becoming a mother for the first or second or even fifth time?

I think planning a birth is kind of like planning a wedding. Hop on Pinterest, and it’s over. You could spend 400 hours searching for the perfect invitations, the homegrown bouquets, the DIY table numbers made out of distressed barn wood. You could drive all over town trying on dress after dress, shoe after shoe, lipstick shade after lipstick shade. You could easily spend an entire year of your life planning the perfect wedding, and of course, there is nothing (inherently) wrong with that. But is it possible, that sometimes, amid the mason jar candles and DIY dreamcatchers, that the whole point of the wedding, the actual marriage itself, gets a tiny bit…..lost in translation?

Just like a birth plan gone amiss, our perfect wedding plans often go off course. Maybe it rains, or maybe the food order gets mixed up, or maybe Uncle Bobby gets drunk and hits on all the bridesmaids.

But when all is said and done, no matter what happened, no matter what the weather looked like or who got the wrong meal or who had to deal with Uncle Bobby barfing in the potted plant, the endgame is the same: You married your best friend. The wedding is only the first day of a life-long commitment to one another.

And giving birth? It’s kind of like that. It’s the very first day of a life-long commitment to raising and loving a child. It is an important day, it is a special day, it is absolutely a day worthy of your best plans.

But if your plans go awry….if all the water tubs are full, if your baby is breech, if your baby is early, if your baby is late, if you need the drugs after you swore you wouldn’t, I want you to know this: motherhood is so much more than the day your baby is born. Motherhood is…..forever.

In some ways, your birth experience is the perfect prelude to a lifetime of learning this lesson over and over again: Some things are simply not in your control.

So make your plans, pack your bag, and get that playlist ready. It’s okay to dream and strategize, to prepare and make lists. We can celebrate a birth gone according to plan, just like we can grieve a birth plan gone wrong. But let’s give our birth experience the weight it deserves: our birth story is always significant; it is rarely definitive.

Let's not let the pressure of one day overshadow the miracle of an entire lifetime.

This is only the beginning.

This story was originally published on Coffee + Crumbs. Check out their book, The Magic of Motherhood, for more heartwarming essays about motherhood, love, and the good kind of heartache.

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When it comes to holiday gifts, we know what you really want, mama. A full night's sleep. Privacy in the bathroom. The opportunity to eat your dinner while it's still hot. Time to wash—and dry!—your hair. A complete wardrobe refresh.


While we can't help with everything on your list (we're still trying to figure out how to get some extra zzz's ourselves), here are 14 gift ideas that'll make you look, if not feel, like a whole new woman. Even when you're sleep deprived.

Gap Cable-Knit Turtleneck Sweater

When winter hits, one of our go-to outfits will be this tunic-length sweater and a pair of leggings. Warm and everyday-friendly, we can get behind that.

$69.95

Gap Cigarette Jeans

These high-waisted straight-leg jeans have secret smoothing panels to hide any lumps and bumps (because really, we've all got 'em).

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Tiny Tags Gold Skinny Bar Necklace

Whether engraved with a child's name or date of birth, this personalized necklace will become your go-to piece of everyday jewelry.

$135.00

Gap Brushed Pointelle Crew

This wear-with-anything soft pink sweater with delicate eyelet details can be dressed up for work or dressed down for weekend time with the family. Versatility for the win!

$79.95

Gap Flannel Pajama Set

For mamas who sleep warm, this PJ set offers the best of both worlds: cozy flannel and comfy shorts. Plus, it comes with a coordinating eye mask for a blissed-out slumber.

$69.95

Spafinder Gift Card

You can't give the gift of relaxation, per say, but you can give a gift certificate for a massage or spa service, and that's close enough!

$50.00

Gap Stripe Long Sleeve Crewneck

This featherweight long-sleeve tee is the perfect layering piece under hoodies, cardigans, and blazers.

$29.95

Gap Chenille Smartphone Gloves

Gone are the days of removing toasty gloves before accessing our touchscreen devices—thank goodness!

$9.95

Ember Temperature Control Smart Mug

Make multiple trips to the microwave a thing of the past with a app-controlled smart mug that'll keep your coffee or tea at the exact temperature you prefer for up to an hour.

$99.95

Gap Flannel Shirt

Our new favorite flannel boasts an easy-to-wear drapey fit and a flattering curved shirttail hem.

$59.95

Gap Sherpa-Lined Denim Jacket

Stay warm while looking cool in this iconic jean jacket, featuring teddy bear-soft fleece lining and a trendy oversized fit.

$98.00

Gap Crazy Stripe Scarf

Practical and stylish, this cozy scarf adds a pop of color—well, colors—to any winter ensemble.

$39.95

Nixplay Seed Frame

This digital picture frame is perfect for mamas who stay up late scrolling through their phone's photo album to glimpse their kiddos being adorable. By sending them to this smart frame to view throughout the day, you can get a few extra minutes of sleep at night!

$165.00

Gap Crewneck Sweater

Busy mamas will appreciate that this supersoft, super versatile Merino wool sweater is machine washable.

$59.95

This article was sponsored by GAP. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and Mamas.

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Good Morning America Time can be so unfair, mama! It feels like we were just spending summer days watching little feet leave prints in warm sand, and now we're watching little handprints turn into turkeys. Yes, Thanksgiving is happening NEXT WEEK!

We can't believe it either and we also can't wait to tuck in to some turkey. If you've been busy planning your holiday schedule this week, don't worry—we've been keeping an eye on the news so you don't have to.

Here are the headlines that made us smile this week:

Almost half of this school's teachers just had babies—and their picture is going viral

Something amazing happened at Oak Street Elementary School in Goddard, Texas: Seven of the school's teachers were pregnant at the same time. Talk about a baby boom!

Back in April we brought you this story, but back then all the teachers were holding bumps, not babies! Since then these teachers navigated pregnancy together—and now, they've entered mom life together as well. The seven mamas and their eight babies (one set of twins!) all got together and it was the sweetest moment.

The mamas gave birth over an eight-month period, during which principal Ashley Miller had to coordinate substitute teachers to accommodate seven maternity leaves. Now, the principal is hard at work to manage multiple pumping schedules, as the last mom to deliver recently returned from maternity leave.

The mothers opened up about the experience to Good Morning America about the experience. "We went from giving each other high-fives as we waddled down the hallways to now going to each other for tips and talking about our babies," says Nicole Lauer. "It's nice to have so many women that you can go to for baby advice."

Ashley Graham is pregnant + fearless 

It's easy to look at someone like Ashley Graham and think she's totally at ease in her skin. After all, Ashley is one of the most beautiful people in the world, a mega-successful supermodel and a leader in the body positive movement. But as the pregnant model admits, even she struggled to embrace her body's changes.

The mom-to-be opened up during an appearance on Ellen DeGeneres' EllenTube series, Fearless. Ashley, who made headlines after posting a nude photo displaying her pregnancy stretch marks, revealed that sharing the photo was difficult for her.

"The reason I had posted that original photo, I had just announced that I was pregnant and I thought then I was going to feel good, and I didn't. I felt, I just felt terrible," the visibly emotional model shared. "That morning I was like, 'get it together, Ashley.' There's other women out there that are going through the same thing as you. Why don't you have a dialogue with them?"

"This is a new body that I'm walking into, why don't I just put myself out there with this new body?" she added. "I felt so isolated, I felt so alone."

But ultimately, Ashley realized the power in her photos—and a fellow guest on the show admitted that Ashley's body positivity helped her embrace her own shape. And we know so many mamas out there feel the same way.

How one dad supported his daughter through her first period and went viral

When Maverick Austin's daughter called him in the middle of the school day to say she feared she'd pooped her pants, he did what most parents would do. He ran to her school with a change of underpants. But a few hours later, when his daughter called to say it had happened again, the dad knew he had a different issue on his hands: His daughter's first period.

This is one of those coming-of-age moments that can be tough for teen girls to deal with. Luckily, this dad totally stepped up the plate for his daughter.

"I run in the office and she's standing there very calm looking at me and says "Dad.... I officially started my first ..." and I stopped her and said "I already know Avi... it hit me a few minutes after I hung up on you," the dad wrote in a Facebook post. "The stress of raising a daughter."

But the story took a very sweet turn. "Later on she says "don't I get something like when a tooth falls out," he added in this post. "So I snuck off to the store and when she got out of the shower I told her "The Period Fairy" brought you something."

The dad presented his daughter with flowers, chocolate, ice cream and a card. Talk about #dadgoals!

This mama survived two heart attacks while pregnant with twins

Being pregnant with twins can be such a cool experience, but it is also considered a high-risk pregnancy because carrying multiples puts a lot of strain on the body.

Twin mama Krystle Evans knows this all too well. Evans, who welcomed boy/girl twins in October, suffered two heart attacks while expecting her babies, but this strong mama survived and her story is going viral.

It started when Evans was eight months pregnant. She felt pressure in her chest as she struggled to catch her breath—and while the symptoms were alarming, she chalked it up to typical pregnancy stuff. As we know, carrying a baby can make you feel strange sensations, and Evans guessed one of her babies was applying the pressure she felt. "I honestly felt my twins were just in a place where they were sitting on my ribs and causing me to lose my breath," Evans tells an NBC news affiliate.

But the next day, it happened again...only this time, the sensations were even more intense. "I started getting very nauseated. Then my whole left arm went numb," Evans tells Today. "I was in a whole bunch of pain. My husband said, 'You need to call the doctor and let him know what's going on.'"

When she followed her husband's advice, she received some shocking news: Evans had suffered two separate heart attacks. This is pretty wild, especially when you take a snapshot of Evans' health into account: The mom was just 30 and in great health, with no family history of heart disease.

The mom was in the hospital for two weeks, where she was closely monitored. She gave birth to her twins, Shiloh and Sage, just weeks after the episode.

Doctors who have commented on Evans' scenario in the news say what happened to her extremely rare and that moms should not be scared that they will have the same experience.

With that being said, heart disease is the leading cause of maternal deaths, according to ACOG's guidelines, which were released earlier this year.

"Pregnancy is a natural stress test," says James Martin, M.D., chair of the Pregnancy and Heart Disease Task Force, according to ACOG. "The cardiovascular system must undergo major changes to its structure to sustain tremendous increases in blood volume. That's why it is critical to identify the risk factors beforehand, so that a woman's care can be properly managed throughout the pregnancy and a detailed delivery plan can be developed through shared decision making between the patient and provider. Moreover, we must think of heart disease as a possibility in every pregnant or postpartum patient we see to detect and treat at-risk mothers."

The bottom line? Being pregnant—even if you're pregnant with twins—certainly doesn't mean you need to stress over the possibility of suffering a cardiac incident. But, Evans' story is an important reminder: It's so, so important that we advocate for ourselves and our doctors about every concerning symptom.

This mama raised awareness about her late son's condition while feeding NICU babies

As Good Morning America reports, one amazing mother is honoring her son's memory by pumping 500 ounces of milk for other NICU families.

Sierra Strangfeld's son Samuel was diagnosed with Trisomy 18, a genetic condition with a high rate of pregnancy and infant loss. Only 50% of the children diagnosed with Trisomy 18 live beyond a week.

"We found out our diagnosis about 25 weeks," Strangfeld tells Motherly. "I opted for the C-section at 30 weeks so we could meet Samuel alive. Had we not done that, he would have passed in utero."

Samuel lived for 3 hours.

"His hands were clenched, his feet were clubbed, he was small," his mom told GMA. "But he was so perfect. He fought so hard to be able to meet us. Our baby boy was put on this Earth for a reason."

Strangfeld had been planning to breastfeed Samuel and decided that she would donate his milk to other families in need. She pumped 500 ounces over 63 days and on his due date she walked into the NICU milk bank to deliver her gift.

"Walking through the hallways of the hospital was just another step in healing," she wrote in a viral Facebook post. "And I know, (because I felt him), that Samuel was there with me."

In an update to the post, Strangfeld explains that while she never expected her story to go viral but is glad that her post spread and that GMA shared her story as she wanted to raise awareness of Trisomy 18.

Strangfeld is a hero, an advocate and one strong mama.

When this boy's mama died of cancer his teacher adopted him ❤️

Special education teachers are amazing people, and Kerry Bremer is extra amazing. Four years ago Kerry became Jake's teacher. Now she is his mom.

Jake, now 14, has Down syndrome and met Kerry when he was 10 and he and his his single mom, Jean Manning, moved from Florida to Massachusetts. A few months later, Kerry and Jean were having a heart-breaking conversation, Today reports.

Jean had terminal cancer and no one in her life who was in a position to care for Jake when she passed. That's when Kerry offered.

"I said, 'I may be overstepping here and forgive me if I am, but my family and I would like to offer guardianship for Jake if you need a backup plan,'" Kerry, 52, told Today Parents.

According Kerry, Jean said "I'll sleep better tonight than I have in a very long time,'" after the conversation. The two women agreed Jake would become Kerry's son after Jean's death.

"We would take Jake to appointments together and celebrate holidays together. Jean called him 'our son,'" Kerry says. "That must have been so hard for her, to be planning for her death, but she did a beautiful job. She was so courageous."

On November 13, Jake lost his first mom to cancer and moved into Kerry's house, becoming part of the family with Kerry's husband Dave (the couple share 3 other kids, too, ages 21, 19 and 16).

"We never thought twice about it. I loved this kid so much. He has done more for us than we could ever do for him."

We're so happy for Jake. This kid has been blessed with two wonderful moms.

News

We're in the last few months of 2019, and it's already been a year for the history books. A record number of women were sworn into Congress this year, and a royal baby with American roots has arrived! Of course for mamas who are welcoming their own babies, 2019 will have more than just historical significance. It will be the year that changes their lives. If your little one arrived (or is due to arrive) in 2019, they've got plenty of company.

Here are all the celebrity babies born in 2019 (so far):

Tori + Zach Roloff welcome baby no.2

Tori and Zach Roloff of TLC's Little People, Big World are now parents of two as baby girl Lilah Ray Roloff was born on November 19.

She came into the world at 6:52 p.m., weighing 8 lbs., 9 oz., and measuring 18½ inches long, according to mom and dad's Instagram posts.

That makes two kids for the couple, who share 2-year-old son Jackson.

"Zach and I are so excited to introduce you to our sweet baby girl Lilah. She has been the perfect addition to our family!" Tori tells People.

Congrats to Tori and Zach! 🎉

Orange is the New Black star Danielle Brooks just had a baby girl! 🎉

With the final season of Orange is the New Black wrapped up, star Danielle Brooks is now entering a new season of life: She just welcomed a baby girl!

"When one chapter ends, another begins" she wrote in her Instagram Stories when she announced her pregnancy back in July.

This week she posted a photo of her new daughter (along with her birth date) confirming that the new chapter is underway.

This new mom has been busy during her pregnancy, curating a new clothing collection with Universal Standard called Fit Liberty Mom and hosting a new Netflix project called A Little Bit Pregnant, in which the 30-year-old first time mom talks to experts about the wild journey that is pregnancy.

"Doulas, midwives, experts — I'm gonna be talking to them all." Brooks said in the trailer.

Congrats Danielle!

Morgan and Bode Miller just welcomed twins! 🎉

When Morgan and Bode Miller lost their 1-year-old daughter Emmy after a drowning in 2018 our hearts ached for them.

Now, our hearts are bursting for them because the couple just welcomed identical twin boys, something Bode always thought would happen for them.

"Somehow I always knew that I was going to have identical twin boys,'' Bode said during an appearance on Today.

The twin boys join 10-month-old son, Easton and 4-year-old Nash, as well as Bode's older kids, 11-year-old Neesyn and 6-year-old Sam.

Morgan was pregnant with Easton when the family lost Emmy.

"Losing a child while pregnant was the most confusing experience of my life. The conflict of emotions from what was pure joy turned to guilt and terror overnight. How could I love this baby the way I loved Emmy? Was it okay to love this baby the way I loved Emmy? It felt like by loving my son, I was trying to replace her. The fear of birthing my son and what that meant .....a monumental step forward....proof that time continued without her when all I wanted was for time to stop," Morgan wrote on Instagram, captioning a photo of the four kids each holding up two fingers.

She continued: "But let me say this....I couldn't have been more wrong. Easton provided us an even closer bond to his sister. The moment I heard his cry, something sparked back alive in my soul. Hope. Love. I'm not sure. But in that moment, I knew I was Mom and my kids deserved the world from me. Everything was going to be okay. My joy and grief could coexist."

The twins were born on November 8, "a day that couldn't have been scripted and aligned more perfectly to bring these two into the world," Morgan noted on Instagram.

On his Instagram, Bode hinted that it was a quick birth: "30 minutes of labor to bring us one of the greatest gifts and experiences we've ever received. Welcome to the world my speed racer boys," the proud dad wrote.

He later explained further, telling Today: "The birth story was actually one of the more crazy things that I've ever experienced… none of the midwives actually made it on time...They started coming over and by the time they got there, me and my mom were both holding the babies."

He continued: "Luckily my mom was a midwife, but she hadn't delivered babies in 20-plus years, and she never delivered twins," Bode explained. "We're both pretty relaxed and pretty casual, but we were certainly not qualified to be doing an unassisted home delivery of twins."

Thankfully, mama and the babies were just fine.

Morgan says she is "insanely overwhelmed and grateful for all these gifts my baby girl keeps sending," and that "for Bode to get to deliver his identical twin boys with his mom—it was just pure magic."

We are so happy for the Millers. 🎉

Shawn Johnson East + Andrew East are now parents 

Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson and her husband Andrew East just welcomed a baby girl.

The news that they were expecting came more than a year after the couple announced the loss of another pregnancy in a 20-minute video, titled "pregnancy + heartbreak".

We are so happy for the couple, and so, clearly, is the Instagram community. Baby East (it's a girl!) already has 270,000 Instagram followers.

Shay Mitchell is a mama! 🎉

Shay Mitchell just announced she's a mom! She made her baby announcement via Instgram, posting a photo of her holding her baby daughter's hand along with the caption "Never letting go..."

Mitchell and her boyfriend Matte Bable have not yet shared their daughter's name or talked about the circumstances of her birth. Babel famously objects to epidurals but maybe this experience has changed his mind. Right now, Mitchell isn't making any public statements about her birth story and seems to just be enjoying time with her new baby daughter.

She has previously been very open about her journey to motherhood online. Mitchell has had a difficult pregnancy which followed a miscarriage and we're so happy that she's finally a mama!

Blake Lively + Ryan Reynolds now have 3 girls! 

When Blake Lively announced her pregnancy on the red carpet for Pokémon Detective Pikachu we knew she and Ryan Reynolds would soon be parents to three children. Earlier this month we learned that third child had arrived (the couple kept their baby to themselves and enjoyed some privacy for about two months, ET reports) and this week Reynolds revealed the couple are now parents to three daughters.

Reynolds and Lively have two older daughters, James, 4, and Inez, age 3, and Reynolds (a Canadian) recently tweeted about the Canadian election, along with a picture of himself with Blake and the new baby (whose face was covered to protect her privacy).

"I love B.C. I want my daughters to experience the same natural playground I grew up in. On Oct. 21, the candidate you vote for will SHAPE CLIMATE POLICY."

Through this tweet the world learned a little more about Canadian politics and the gender of Lively and Reynolds' youngest child. The couple has not announced their youngest's name as they are keeping it to themselves for now.

Lauren Conrad is a mom of two! 

Lauren Conrad is now a mom of two as she and husband William Tell welcomed their second child, Charlie Wolf Tell this month. He joins older brother Liam to make it a party of four.

Conrad hasn’t posted any pics of the newest addition to the family yet but made the announcement via Instagram by posting a charming illustration of her growing family.

Congrats to LC!

Amy Duggar King is a boy mom + the baby name she picked is getting popular  

As first reported by People, Amy (Duggar) King is now a mama as she and her husband Dillion just welcomed their first child, baby boy Daxton Ryan.

Amy and Dillion have had their son's name picked out since July. Amy told People that on her husband's side of the family all the names begin with the letter 'D' (kind of like her famously 'J'-named cousins).

"So we were trying to figure out a 'D' name that was different, and we landed on Dax, then Daxton," she explains.

Daxton is a baby name on the rise in recent years. It snuck onto the Social Security Administration's by a hair in 2007 but is now among the top 300 names for boys in the U.S. Last year there were more Daxtons born than ever before.

Nicole and Michael Phelps welcome baby no.3! 🎉

Olympian Michael Phelps and his wife (and champion pumper) Nicole now have three boys as Maverick Nicolas Phelps arrived on September 9.

The couple already have two sons, 2-year-old Boomer and 1-year-old Beckett.

"Oops we did it again," Nicole wrote on Instagram back when they announced this pregnancy. "I get to be a mama x3!!"

"Can't wait to see the journey that this takes us on," Micheal wrote on his account.

Now that Maverick is in the world his parents couldn't be happier.

"He instantly has stolen all of our hearts and keeps me an ecstatic mommy of boys," Nicole captioned his Instagram birth announcement.

She continues: "I cannot wait to walk this journey surrounded by my men."

[A version of this post was originally published February 1, 2019. It has been updated.]

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Grazing tables are a trendy way to bring people together and feed a crowd—the essentials of any holiday gathering. A grazing table is a festive spread of food that allows your guests to mingle and graze while saving time spent fussing in the kitchen. While they usually resemble an elaborate meat and cheese board, there are plenty of ways to make it a health-conscious table. The food spread can be any combination of lean meats, fresh and dried fruits, seasonal vegetables, nuts and healthy condiments. The trick? Arrange the foods in an eye-catching way that is easy for the entire party to access.

Here are some tips for creating a beautiful, health-conscious grazing table this Thanksgiving:

Estimate servings

With most holiday gatherings, it can be hard to know how much food to make. A good estimate for a grazing board is to assume guests will eat 3-5 appetizers per hour. One serving in each category is about:

  • 2-3 crackers
  • 2 ounces of bread
  • 2-3 ounces of fruits and veggies
  • 2-3 ounces of meat
  • 2 ounces of dip
  • 1/4 cup of nuts, dried fruits and olives

This is usually enough food, but if you have leftovers, you can freeze poultry, cranberry sauce, sweet potato dishes, some fresh fruits and vegetables and pieces of bread.

Watch how we created our ultimate grazing table:

Start with fruits + veggies as the foundation

Fruits and vegetables should be abundant on a healthy grazing table because they provide the most vibrant colors and are usually the most nutritious part of the spread. Aim for a colorful variety of cooked and fresh vegetables, as well as fresh and dried fruits. The textures should vary as much as the colors and flavors. A couple of my favorite table-worthy veggies include roasted veggies, brussels sprout skewers, and maple roasted brussels sprouts.

Add charcuterie + cheese

Charcuterie and cheese are grazing table staples, but you can also include leaner proteins, like smoked salmon or roasted tempeh or tofu for plant-based options. A spread should also include some healthy fats, like olives, roasted nuts and nutrient-dense dips. Toasted pumpkin seed dip is a great spread for roasted or fresh veggies.

Stick with neutrals

While the decorations are almost as important as the food, they don't need to be complicated. Use a variety of neutral-colored plates, bowls, serving dishes, platters and cutting boards for the foods. Or, use cake stands or tiered stands to add height to the table.

Make it accessible

Guests will be lingering around the table so fill multiple bowls and plates with each item and scatter them evenly so people can access the same foods at different places. Create signs to label any food items that need an explanation, or have allergens that must be called out.

Fill in empty spaces

Fill in sparse areas between foods with colorful fruit decorations, such as bunches of grapes, figs, strawberries, slices of grapefruit or dried apricots. Mini decorative pumpkins or gourds make a great Thanksgiving decoration, whole fresh herbs like rosemary or sage work great for winter festivities.

Swap classic dishes for healthier options

If you're using a grazing table as a new way to serve traditional Thanksgiving foods, there are a few swaps you can make to keep it delicious, beautiful and nutritious:

  • Cranberry sauce: Skip the can that's pre-loaded with refined sugar and make one that's sweetened with fruit juice. This will cut down on the amount of sugar and increase the fiber content. Fill a few small, decorative ramekins and place them in various places around the table.
  • Sweet potato casserole: Try baked sweet potatoes topped with a drizzle of maple syrup and chopped pecans, rather than the classic marshmallow-topped dessert-like side dish. Cut potatoes into fourths and place on small plates around the table.
  • Mashed potatoes: Replace half of the potatoes with cauliflower. Greek yogurt can also be used in place of sour cream to reduce fat and boost protein content. Serve in bowls.
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