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My birth story: I was induced at 39 weeks

I am a proud mom of five, two of whom I have given birth to.

unmedicated-induction

I am a proud mom of five, two of whom I have given birth to.

I always knew I wanted a big family, and nine years ago when I had my son after a relatively "easy" and uneventful pregnancy, I assumed conceiving and carrying more babies would be a breeze. Not surprisingly, I was wrong.

After six years of unexplained secondary infertility, failed IVF treatments, an ectopic pregnancy, two miscarriages, three surgeries, and a divorce, I had accepted the fact that my dream of having more children, was likely not coming true; at least not biologically.

When I married my now husband and his three children, I could confidently say I had the big family that I always wanted, just not in the way I had hoped. And although I had peace with the fact that this beautiful blended family might be exactly what God had planned for me, the desire to become pregnant again was still there.

So, for two more years, we tried. More treatments, more doctors, more heartache, and more negative pregnancy tests. I even became a step-grandma along the way to a child who we now care for full-time. I was mothering children in every way possible, but still, I longed for more of my own.

Until the day I stood in my bathroom at 6 am and stared down at those two pink lines. I didn't even have to squint to see them or hold it up to the light.

I was finally pregnant!

The pregnancy and its complications

I wish I could say the next nine months were pure bliss, preparing for the arrival of our miracle baby, but this pregnancy was far from easy. I had hyperemesis gravidarum until week 25, and as soon as that subsided the debilitating migraines kicked in. I then developed symphysis pubis dysfunction, something I had never even heard of until I landed in my OB's office in extreme pelvic pain at seven months.

This condition (which usually affects second time mothers) is when the ligaments around your pelvis become too relaxed and stretchy providing too little support as your baby grows. I was already carrying low, so the constant unsupported pressure made it somewhat impossible to complete simple tasks such as changing positions in bed or going to the bathroom unassisted without excruciating pain.

But despite the constant struggle, I powered through it as I reminded myself, This is what you've always wanted.

At 39 weeks, I could no longer do basic tasks, and I feared that a natural labor wouldn't be possible given the amount of pain I was already in.

To induce or not to induce?

At our next OB appointment, we were faced with a difficult decision: to induce or not to induce. Because the pain was getting worse and worse, my OB suggested induction. I knew that if I were to wait any longer, labor itself might be unbearable, so I agreed, albeit reluctantly.

Based on my little knowledge of induction and a handful of stories I had heard about from mother's who had induced labor, I was terrified—I highly suggest NOT googling "induced labor." Despite my fears, I went ahead with the plan, and we arrived at labor and Delivery the next morning at 7 am, January 3rd. Unfortunately, once we checked in, we were told they were "full," and we'd have to wait until a room opened up.

We were frustrated because we both didn't get much sleep the night before and had to get up early to be at the hospital, but we didn't have much of a choice at that point, so we waited. And waited and waited and waited. By 2 pm, I could barely keep my eyes open and decided there was no way I could go through labor with how exhausted I was feeling.

So that's when we headed home to take a nap. I closed my eyes for about 45 minutes, and at 4:30 pm, I got a call saying they were ready for us, so we started making our way back to the hospital.

We got into a room at about 6:15 pm, and our nurse started to get things ready. My OB came in to say hello and did an initial cervical check to see where our starting point was. I was already four centimeters dilated and 80% effaced (which can be common for women who have already given birth), so thankfully there was no need for any Cervidil, and we all agreed we could start with the lowest dose of Pitocin.

Our birth

At about 7:15 pm is when I actually received the first dose, right as my sister arrived at the hospital from the airport. It was just her and my husband with me in the room, and the vibe was relaxed and casual since my contractions started out pretty mellow.

I had expressed to everyone upfront that I wanted to go slow, so the nurse was great at checking in with me every 30 minutes or so to see how I was doing, and if I was comfortable increasing the Pitocin. We continued with a slow increase until about 12 am when she checked me, and I had only progressed to five centimeters.

I was about to ask her to increase at a slightly faster rate, but about five minutes later, I heard a pop and realized my water had just broke (weirdest feeling ever). My contractions quickly intensified. I grabbed my husband's arm and squeezed him with all my might as each contraction approached quickly.

Despite the fact that my husband and I didn't make a birth plan, we naturally fell into a rhythm as he synced his breath with mine. It was as if he was transferring his strength to me, and I needed every ounce he had to give. I'll never forget how connected I felt to him at that moment.

After seeing how much pain I was in, but knowing I didn't want an epidural, he suggested nitrous oxide (laughing gas), which we had discussed previously as an option to take the edge off. I had a great experience with this as a way to manage the pain and help regulate my breathing—while it didn't mask the pain, it did make it easier to breathe and relax in between contractions. I think I even cracked a joke at one point about my husband's coffee breath. 😂

At 1:30 am, I felt the strong urge to push, so the nurse got my doctor and everything ready for delivery. I pushed for about 15 minutes, which felt like the longest 15 minutes of my life. There were a few moments I thought I wasn't going to be able to get through it, and it felt so different from the pain I remember with my first.

But I distinctly remember in those moments when it felt impossible to go on, reminding myself that this is a moment in time. Not only was my body designed to do this, but it was doing it whether I liked it or not and would continue to do it until I had my baby in my arms.

We had a brief scare towards the end when my doctor told me to stop pushing because the cord was wrapped around her neck (although thankfully, he did not tell me this). He asked me to wait to push with each contraction and was able to cut and release the cord before she was all the way out.

Gratitude

Our sweet miracle baby, Emberly Olive, was born at 1:48 am Friday, January 4th, after about six hours of labor and just over one hour of active labor. Although I was shaking a lot (which is normal right after birth due to the hormones and fluid shifts), and a little bit stunned from the pain I had just experienced, I was so overcome with emotion that I was able to block out the negative and focus on my sweet baby.

We got to enjoy her for a full hour, skin-to-skin before the staff cleaned her up and weighed her.

As I process this birth and the journey that led to this moment, I feel so much gratitude for every struggle that I experienced along the way. Not only did it teach me many valuable lessons, but it gave me the strength and determination to (literally) push through what felt like an impossible situation.

There was something about feeling every moment of bringing this child into the world that was really important to me. I'm not sure I can explain why it just was. And looking back I surprised myself in so many ways (I mean, I can barely handle a paper cut so unmedicated labor wasn't something I thought would ever happen).

I understand this isn't everyone's experience and I genuinely believe that no matter how you arrive at motherhood, it is a miracle.

So, if you are fearful of the process, try to embrace even those hard moments. If you are longing, hoping, wishing for a child, don't give up, but also remember to give yourself a break. And If you are worried about the way your birth will happen, I encourage you to voice that to your team, but to give yourself permission to deviate from that plan if needed.

This was my path to motherhood, and it was far from what I had "planned," but exactly as I had dreamed it would be.

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Time-saving formula tips our editors swear by

Less time making bottles, more time snuggling.

As a new parent, it can feel like feeding your baby is a full-time job—with a very demanding nightshift. Add in the additional steps it takes to prepare a bottle of formula and, well… we don't blame you if you're eager to save some time when you can. After all, that means more time for snuggling your baby or practicing your own well-deserved self-care.

Here's the upside: Many, many formula-feeding mamas before you have experienced the same thing, and they've developed some excellent tricks that can help you mix up a bottle in record time. Here are the best time-saving formula tips from editors here at Motherly.

1. Use room temperature water

The top suggestion that came up time and time again was to introduce bottles with room temperature water from the beginning. That way, you can make a bottle whenever you need it without worrying about warming up water—which is a total lifesaver when you have to make a bottle on the go or in the middle of the night.

2. Buy online to save shopping time

You'll need a lot of formula throughout the first year and beyond—so finding a brand like Comforts, which offers high-quality infant formula at lower prices, will help you save a substantial amount of money. Not to mention, you can order online or find the formula on shelves during your standard shopping trip—and that'll save you so much time and effort as well.

3. Pre-measure nighttime bottles

The middle of the night is the last time you'll want to spend precious minutes mixing up a bottle. Instead, our editors suggest measuring out the correct amount of powder formula into a bottle and putting the necessary portion of water on your bedside table. That way, all you have to do is roll over and combine the water and formula in the bottle before feeding your baby. Sounds so much better than hiking all the way to the kitchen and back at 3 am, right?

4. Divide serving sizes for outings

Before leaving the house with your baby, divvy up any portions of formula and water that you may need during your outing. Then, when your baby is hungry, just combine the pre-measured water and powder serving in the bottle. Our editors confirm this is much easier than trying to portion out the right amount of water or formula while riding in the car.

5. Memorize the mental math

Soon enough, you'll be able to prepare a bottle in your sleep. But, especially in the beginning or when increasing your baby's serving, the mental math can take a bit of time. If #mombrain makes it tough to commit the measurements to memory, write up a cheat sheet for yourself or anyone else who will prepare your baby's bottle.

6. Warm up chilled formula with water

If you're the savvy kind of mom who prepares and refrigerates bottles for the day in advance, you'll probably want to bring it up to room temperature before serving. Rather than purchase a bottle warmer, our editors say the old-fashioned method works incredibly well: Just plunge the sealed bottle in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes and—voila!—it's ready to serve.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on Comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Motherly editors’ 7 favorite hacks for organizing their diaper bags

Make frantically fishing around for a diaper a thing of the past!

As any parent knows, the term "diaper bag" only scratches the surface. In reality, this catchall holds so much more: a change of clothes, bottles, snacks, wipes and probably about a dozen more essential items.

Which makes finding the exact item you need, when you need it (read: A diaper when you're in public with a blowout on your hands) kind of tricky.

That's why organization is the name of the game when it comes to outings with your littles. We pooled the Motherly team of editors to learn some favorite hacks for organizing diaper bags. Here are our top tips.

1. Divide and conquer with small bags

Here's a tip we heard more than a few times: Use smaller storage bags to organize your stuff. Not only is this helpful for keeping related items together, but it can also help keep things from floating around in the expanse of the larger diaper bag. These bags don't have to be anything particularly fancy: an unused toiletry bag, pencil case or even plastic baggies will work.

2. Have an emergency changing kit

When you're dealing with a diaper blowout situation, it's not the time to go searching for a pack of wipes. Instead, assemble an emergency changing kit ahead of time by bundling a change of baby clothes, a fresh diaper, plenty of wipes and hand sanitizer in a bag you can quickly grab. We're partial to pop-top wipes that don't dry out or get dirty inside the diaper bag.

3. Simplify bottle prep

Organization isn't just being able to find what you need, but also having what you need. For formula-feeding on the go, keep an extra bottle with the formula you need measured out along with water to mix it up. You never know when your outing will take longer than expected—especially with a baby in the mix!

4. Get resealable snacks

When getting out with toddlers and older kids, snacks are the key to success. Still, it isn't fun to constantly dig crumbs out of the bottom of your diaper bag. Our editors love pouches with resealable caps and snacks that come in their own sealable containers. Travel-sized snacks like freeze-dried fruit crisps or meal-ready pouches can get an unfair reputation for being more expensive, but that isn't the case with the budget-friendly Comforts line.

5. Keep a carabiner on your keychain

You'll think a lot about what your child needs for an outing, but you can't forget this must-have: your keys. Add a carabiner to your keychain so you can hook them onto a loop inside your diaper bag. Trust us when we say it's a much better option than dumping out the bag's contents on your front step to find your house key!

6. Bundle your essentials

If your diaper bag doubles as your purse (and we bet it does) you're going to want easy access to your essentials, too. Dedicate a smaller storage bag of your diaper bag to items like your phone, wallet and lip balm. Then, when you're ready to transfer your items to a real purse, you don't have to look for them individually.

7. Keep wipes in an outer compartment

Baby wipes aren't just for diaper changes: They're also great for cleaning up messy faces, wiping off smudges, touching up your makeup and more. Since you'll be reaching for them time and time again, keep a container of sensitive baby wipes in an easily accessible outer compartment of your bag.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on www.comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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