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I had an unexpected C-section and these pictures tell my story

One mama tells us how she coped when her birth didn’t go as planned.

I had an unexpected C-section and these pictures tell my story
Photography by Laura Vladimirova, of www.Naturalbirthbebe.com; who also served as Terri and Michael's birth doula.

I have PCOS, so getting pregnant wasn't easy. After three years, countless fertility treatments, four miscarriages and one round of IVF, my husband Michael and I learned that a healthy male embryo was sprouting inside of me. I was anxious and worried and scared. But I was also overjoyed and hopeful.

Once I hit the 24-week mark (a point that I had yet to reach with my other pregnancies), I tried to set my mind free from all the worries and had a renewed sense of determination. I wanted to welcome my son into this world with a drug-free vaginal birth.

But I had gestational diabetes. So my doctor scheduled an induction at 39 weeks, right before Memorial Day. The morning of my induction started like any other day, except when I used the bathroom, I felt a huge gush. My water broke, and for once, I thought, my body was cooperating with me and I may avoid induction.

Our doula Laura advised me to get active to help my body get into active labor. For the next several hours, I bounced on my ball, walked around and did nipple stimulation. As the contractions came on, they were only about eight minutes apart. I began doubting myself and decided it was time to go for my induction appointment at 5pm.

After we made a pit stop at Shake Shack for my last meal as a mom-to-be, we arrived at the hospital. I checked in, met with the on-call doctor, reviewed my birth plan and was in a gown within 20 minutes. At that point, I was one centimeter dilated. About an hour in, the nurse hooked me up to four different IVs, the last one being Pitocin. It was like an IV web, and I was Spiderwoman.

I've heard so many horrors stories about Pitocin, so I expected the reaction to be immediate. But it took two hours to take full effect. I was able to watch the new Game of Thrones episode before the pain began to steal my focus. It's when the doctors turned the Pitocin up to a level eight that the pain kicked in.

These new contractions were fast and intense. By hour three, we needed help to manage the pain. Laura arrived at 2 am, and her soothing voice and magic hands went to work right away. She, Michael and I became a well-oiled machine. For the first hour, we talked, cracked jokes and tried not acknowledge the fact that another contraction was on its way. The contractions were now 1-2 minutes apart.

The pain became unbearable, cutting me off mid-sentence and turning me into a howling banshee. Before I could catch my breath, I had to jump back into counting down through the contractions. We moved from leaning on a chair, to squatting on a ball, to laying down. A few hours later, I begged to be examined because in my heart I knew (or at least I prayed) that I had made some significant progress. I was only four centimeters dilated.

My heart sank. I felt defeated. I knew I could push through, but mentally I was nearing a breaking point and needed to get some rest. So I opted for an epidural, if only so I can sleep. Once I got it, around 6 am, everything changed. I wondered to myself, “why did I want an epidural-free birth?" and after 15 minutes, I was finally able to sleep.

After about 2 and half hours, my doctor came in with a slew of others and told me that my baby wasn't doing great. Once you hear those words, nothing else in the world matters. She explained that his heart rate was dropping and recommended a C-section. I tried not to panic, but Laura could tell that I was very overwhelmed and needed a minute to evaluate what was going on. She asked that Michael and I had some alone time to discuss our options.

As my doctor went over the consent form and proceedings, I saw my dreams of having a vaginal birth vanish, but all I could think of was my unborn son. I gave my approval for the operation and signed the paperwork. The doors swung open and a slew of people came in. It was like a TV show.

I was rolled down the hallway and into the OR, strapped down to a table. My anesthesiologist was very good looking, "McDreamy" good looking—a welcome distraction while I waited for Michael to arrive. Once the anesthesia kicked in, he asked what Pandora station we wanted to listen to. We chose the smooth sounds of Maxwell. My doctor then began the procedure. I felt some pressure and tugging, but within minutes, I heard his cry.

Three years of pain, stress, sadness and anger were all out-weighed by this sweet, sweet sound. Michael and I burst into tears. Minutes later, Michael brought him over to my face. I was in love and so relaxed that I fell asleep with his face still pressed up against mine. I awoke in recovery to Laura, Michael and Miko, my son. Life couldn't have been any sweeter.

The Motherly Shop is here 🎉 (and it has exactly what you need, mama)

We did the hard work for you, hand-picking the things you want and need and ensuring we only bring you the best—so you can take one thing off that full plate of yours.

Since the beginning, Motherly has existed to help mamas of all experiences feel seen, understood and supported. Through expert and mom-to-mom advice and information we've been here to help you along the motherhood journey.

With that same ethos, we've created The Motherly Shop—an online collection of products curated for every stage of motherhood. We did the hard work for you, hand-picking the things you want and need and ensuring we only bring you the best from brands and makers that really care—so you can take one thing off that full plate of yours.

To make browsing a little easier, we curate the products based on mama needs + pain points. For example, here's our newest collection created to gather everything a pregnant woman needs.

Check out some of our favorites from our Becoming Mama collection and get shopping!

The sleep support

Belly Bandit SOS pillow

Finding the right position for sleep can feel like an Olympic sport when you've got a baby belly to accommodate. Belly Bandit, masters of creating wearables that support pregnant bodies, also managed to create the ideal tool for side sleeping.

$80

The wear-anywhere maternity dress

Stowaway Collection Maternity Becca dress

Finding clothes that still make you feel like yourself isn't always easy. With their premium fabrics and universally flattering cuts, we can't get enough of the maternity wardrobe essentials from Stowaway Collection maternity. Even better? They sew everything in Long Island City, NY and source USA-made fabric whenever possible.

$80

The chic but practical shoe 

OSAY the label slip on

Bending over to put shoes on is so overrated. We've got you covered with the most stylish and obsession-worthy handmade loafers with a secret. Just fold down the back, and BAM! slip-ons. Additionally, the La Babouche Loafer + Slip-On OSAY the Label beauties are made from recycled leather that literally forms to your feet.

$135

The delicate reminder

Whether it's whispered sweetly, shrieked from the top of the big slide, or echoed through the phone from thousands of miles away, 'mama' is the name you'll respond to for the rest of your life. Like all the Tiny Tags necklaces, this sweet reminder is laser engraved by highly skilled artisans in the USA.

$105

The stylish diaper bag that doesn't look like a diaper bag

Mina baie vegan stevie

When leaving the house requires as much prep as an international flight (ah, remember those?) having a spacious bag you can depend on is key. Mina Baie bags not only deliver on a space for everything, but also manage to do it in style. They're the kind of bags you'll carry even when you manage to leave your little one behind.

$178

The elegant baby book

Echo Art Bindery Baby Memory Book

From the minute they're born there are so many milestones and memories to capture. We hand-picked the gorgeous clothbound baby memory book from Echo Art Bindery for its small batch-feel and attention to detail. Made from high-quality paper it features colorful custom illustrations, a silver-stamped endive cover, and questions and prompts to help you remember those magical first days and beyond.

$62

The empowering accessory

Sontakey 'I was made for this' bracelet

Words are powerful. Reminding yourself that you can do hard things can go a long way in giving you the energy and confidence to do so. The beautiful mantra bands from Sontakey were created by two mamas who have made it their mission to empower others with these words of encouragement.

$35

The most delicious way to celebrate

Tost non-alcoholic refresher

Time to raise a glass, mama! We've long since had a crush on TÖST's non-alcoholic sparkles. The gingery cranberry tea blend is delicious on its own or even as a mixer. From baby showers to toasting an ordinary Tuesday that went off without a hitch, we think you'll be crushing on it too.

$50

The pampering belly oil

Esker belly oil duo

Moisturizing, soothing, and totally divine, Esker's belly oil duo is formulated with only the cleanest botanical essential oils. One for morning and one for nighttime, they're ideal for pampering that beautiful belly of yours around the clock.

$75

The hydration-friendly water bottle

Welly traveler water bottle

Meeting those daily hydration needs can be a challenge. (So can making it to the bathroom 700 hundred times a day, right?) We're big fans of Welly reusable bottles which not only look super sleek with their stainless steel and bamboo combo, but also include a removable infuser to brew tea or flavor your water.

$30

The pre-packed hospital bag

Belly and Bag fully prepared

Leave packing your hospital bag to the pros. After all, you have plenty of other things to think about right now, right? The brilliant women at Belly and Bag have truly thought of everything and packed it up just for you.

$225

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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12 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

Without camps and back-to-school plans still TBD, the cries of "I'm bored!" seem to be ringing louder than ever this summer. And if you're anything like me, by August, I'm fresh out of boxes to check on my "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys.

With that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite wooden toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$189

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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The new top 100 American baby names, according to the Social Security office

Did you have a baby in 2018? Did your name make the top 10?

kasietannerphotography.com

[Editor's note: We know that being pregnant can be, well, a lot. And understanding what you really need versus what's just a nice-to-have takes time . With your needs in mind, we've selected the best products for pregnancy in The Motherly Shop. We've got you, mama.]

No one can beat Emma when it comes to naming babies in America. This week the Social Security Administration announced its annual list of the most popular baby names in America and Emma has the top spot on the girls' side for the fifth year in a row. On the boys' side Liam took the top spot for a second consecutive year.

According to the Social Security Administration, these were the top 20 baby names in America in 2018:

Girls: Emma, Olivia, Ava, Isabella, Sophia, Charlotte, Mia, Amelia, Harper and Evelyn

Boys: Liam, Noah, William, James, Oliver, Benjamin, Elijah, Lucas, Mason and Owen

How do those top 10 lists compare to the top baby names of 2017? Well, the girls' list is nearly the same except that Mia and Charlotte switched spots, and Harper (a name that fell out of the top ten the previous year) is back and has ousted Abigail. On the boys' side, Lucas kicked Jacob out of the top 10.

The real changes happened lower down in the data. Let's take a look at the popular baby names that were trending hard in 2018:

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