Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Road to Meet Burke: part 3, bribery works

Yeah, yeah. We bribed the nursing staff.

At the suggestion of our doula, we prepared a few treats for the nursing staff that we'd hoped would at least ensure they all read our birth plan. Since we were delivering at the "baby factory" and were hoping for a more natural birth with as little medical intervention as possible, we figured we might need all the leverage we could get.

I made these 3-4 weeks before the due date and froze them. Once we knew we were heading to the hospital, we pulled them out to defrost & plopped them in a basket with tissue paper, a few copies of our birth plan, and an ingredient list.

I think J made lots of friends when he dropped off the basket at the nurse's station that night!

Cranberry Orange Bread via Joy of Baking

Pumpkin Muffins via Smitten Kitchen

Granola Bars via Smitten Kitchen

It worked. Not only did we receive great service during delivery (everyone who came into our room commented on the yummy treats), but we also scored the corner suite in recovery.

The Road to Meet Burke: part 2, the birth story

Don't worry, I'll keep this PG and do my best to avoid TMI.

As you know, I was trying little things to encourage Burke's overdue arrival in a subtle way before the pressure to medically induce was upon us. Saturday - water aerobics. Sunday - pregnancy/acupressure massage. Monday - the smoothie & yoga ball.

I guess I finished the smoothie around 11am. I think I mentioned to someone early that afternoon via instant messenger that I thought I might've felt a contraction. Nothing significant, but feeling like we were at least making progress.

5:00pm-ish -  I started preparing dinner. I'd read somewhere that you don't want to eat heavy foods prior to childbirth, so I improvised a broth-based kale & bean soup since it was a dreary rainy night. I made plenty, as I figured it'd be good for dinner the next few nights if labor was in the near future. J got home at 6, and we relaxed on the sofa to eat our cozy soup. It was pretty good, if I do say so myself. I had two servings.

6:12pm - The following text message exchange with my mother-in-law, who was checking in on me.

7:45pm - My tummy started to rumble. After a trip or two to the restroom thanks to the leafy green kale, I was sitting on the couch & hubs brought over some Oreos and milk. Around that time, I started feeling more cramps. I didn't have the appetite to even finish my three Oreos. We decided it would be a good idea to take our hospital bags with us to the next morning's scheduled Dr's appointment, just in case.

8:15pm - I decided to take a warm bath to see if these contractions would calm down any. They weren't intense at all, just felt like mild cramps. But they were consistently coming now. J called our doula and she didn't seem to think it was anything to warrant urgency. We had a Dr's appointment at 9am the next morning, so we figured we'd make it through the night and get the Doc's instructions at the appointment. J called my mom & she decided to hit the road early the next morning so she would be wide awake for the 8 hour drive. There wasn't any rush since we thought it could still be a few days till his birthday.

8:45pm - Out of the tub, relaxing, & catching up on Downton Abbey. I used the "Full Term" app to track the contractions.

9:30pm - Contractions still coming. Only lasting 10-30 seconds, about 8-10 minutes apart.

10:00pm - Realized I might be timing these suckers wrong. Maybe these contractions are closer together than I thought?

10:11pm - Called the doctor. She didn't seem convinced that I was in early labor. Considering I was still able to have a normal conversation, I don't blame her. She told me I could come on in & they would check me out but might send me home if I wasn't dilated enough to warrant sticking around.

10:30pm - We decided better safe than sorry and headed to the hospital. J packed the car & I called the doula. She wasn't convinced a baby was coming either because I was so laidback & conversational. I can't blame her--I wasn't convinced either.

10:45pm-ish - We arrive at the hospital. Some of the speed bumps made me a little nauseous, but I was fine when we parked. The maternity entrance was closed for construction, so we had to find a new way inside. While they were getting me checked in, J parked the car. I don't think the admitting nurses were convinced I was there to have a baby either. We chatted about purses, boutique shops, the weather, etc while my room was being prepared.

You knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:13b & 14.

11:45pm - We were settled in the room. I was rocking the sexy hospital gown & making frequent trips to the restroom. Maybe I lost the mucous plug during one of those trips. Contractions were still mild, but steady.

11:48pm - The nurse is about to perform the cervical exam to check dilation. As she puts on her 2nd glove, my water breaks on the bed. I'm dilated to 5cm. Guess we should settle in for the night & see how this goes. Contractions are still mild & steady.

Midnight - WHOA! The contractions are serious now. YEEEOUCH. We've called the doula and she's headed our way. I'm dealing with the contractions as best I can - standing up & leaning into J, gripping the side of the bed, whatever I could do. J is super supportive. Even offers to let me bite him if it'll help. I remember leaning into him and noticing his shoes. He was wearing suede bucs, and I asked him if he brought other shoes. I was afraid they'd get ruined. The contractions were intensifying. Quickly. And I'm only halfway to being fully dilated? Epidural PLEASE. Now. Forget this natural BS.

12:30ish - After what seems like an eternity, the anesthesiologist arrives. It'll take 10 minutes to administer the epidural, and 10 for it to take effect. While he's inserting the needle, the team arrives to get the baby warmer set up. I'm confused. I asked if this was really about to happen--I mean, we haven't been here that long. The OB looks at me and says, "Well, you went from 5cm to 8cm in under an hour. So yeah, this is definitely happening soon." So THAT's why the contractions were so much more painful. He was on his way!! [J's version of the events differs a bit here, and is probably more accurate. According to him, they checked my cervix at this time, and upon realizing that I was dilated at 8cm, rushed the anesthesiologist to the room before we missed the epidural window. I totally missed that part.]

1:00am-ish - Our doula arrives, surprised we're as far along as we are. I think we all are.

The epidural slowed things down a good bit. So much so, I got a good 2-hour nap. J gave the family updates, and his folks headed to the hospital to be there for the arrival of their grandson.

2:30am - I wake up. Amazed at how much more manageable the contractions are with the drugs. I watch them on the monitor, but the pain is very bearable. I still have movement in my legs & feet, but they are a bit numb.

2:40am-ish - The OB confirms I'm fully dilated and it's time to begin pushing. Our doula sneaks me a honey stick before we start pushing for a little natural energy rush. I push for about 30 minutes, but I'm not making the progress they want to see.

3:15am - We decide to dial back the epidural so I have more feeling in my legs & can be more active. We wait for it to settle in and take a breather. Family gets updates.

**I should mention that we totally bribed the labor & delivery staff. Baked goods including pumpkin muffins, cranberry orange bread, and all-natural granola bars were prepped weeks in advance & frozen in anticipation of the birth date. J delivered them to the nurse's station along with our birth plan & a list of ingredients in case of any food allergies. No doubt this played in our favor. The OB was incredibly impressed with the granola bars. We talked about how easy they are to make several times between contractions.**

4:45am - Time to begin pushing again. This time, game on. The pushes are spot-on, and I can feel progress as each contraction comes and goes. J's feeding me ice chips, squeezing my hand, coaching me to victory. Cynthya (our doula) suggests positions to the OB, who is open to letting me try whatever is comfortable. (I must add that my OB is part of a practice of 7 doctors, so we weren't sure who would actually be on call at the time Burke decided to join us. I definitely liked some of the doctors in the practice more than others, and there were 3 I was really hoping for. We scored one of them, and you better believe I was excited when it was Dr. Smith who returned my call to the answering service earlier that night. We won the lottery in that regard.)

5:15am - Where is this guy? Maybe he's "sunny-side-up" and is going to be more difficult to get out than we thought. About this time, a nurse strolls in with her arms casually folded and says "I'm just being nosy." Excuse me? This is not the time or place for nosing around--I'm pushing out a baby, lady. She leaves after a few minutes, and the OB explains that she was in there to see if she needed to prep the C-section team, just in case. But, once she saw the little guy's head crowning, she knew she could call off the C-section troops. Whew. That's good news.

5:30am - At Cynthya's urging, I reach down and touch his head. Whoa! There it is. That's not normally there. The most wonderful head in the world. I decline the mirror. And J maintains his position at my head at all times. There are just some things you can't un-see.

Even the hairs on your hair are numbered; do not be afraid. Luke 12:7
5:40am - The OB tells us that the delivery team will be coming in soon to get everything set up. Since I'd been pushing for a long time, they may need to run more tests to make sure everything's OK and that he didn't swallow to much fluid or whatever. She also tells me that I need to get angry & get this fella outta here. The activity in the room picks up. Let's do this! Afterall, my family motto is "Odoms finish strong!" as my sister reminded me via text that morning.

5:47am - The doctor puts on her smock and begins to glove up. A contraction comes, and I can't help but push. The doctor says "Wait, I'm not ready. I don't have my gloves on." Too bad, so sad. I wanna meet my baby!!! She catches him in the bed sheets.

5:48am - I see the most precious head of hair. And the sweetest ears. Then fingers and elbows. I see him bring his arms up over his little slimy head. And he just keeps on coming. Where are his legs? His feet? Wow, he's a big baby. I bet that hurt. I'm glad I can't feel it. And he's perfect. And I'm in love. Oh my God, how in love I am. Oh my.

I'm overcome by tears, looking at my wonderful husband next to me, staring in amazement at the best-smelling bundle of flesh lying on my chest. So out-of-touch with whatever is going on in the room around us. He is perfect. The moment is perfect. We are perfect. This is where I'm meant to be. My cup runneth over. This is joy by its very definition.

The rest is a blur. The OB assesses the damage & stitches me up (stage 3, ouch. Thank heavens for the drugs.). The nurses whisk him away to cuddle, prod, and coo. Apparently he's flirting with them. We may be in real trouble here...

Despite the pain, the scary unknown, the vomiting, the middle-of-the-night labor, the deviation from our natural birth plan, the tearing, the unpredictable bodily functions, and everything else, I wouldn't have it any other way. A supportive partner, a healthy baby boy. A beautiful family--I am undoubtedly blessed.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Road to Meet Burke: part 1, inducing labor

Though Burke was due to meet the world on February 9th, he opted to make a fashionably late entrance. Knowing that the pressure to medically induce was inevitable, it was important to me to both encourage him to make his grand appearance and to let him do it on his own terms.

So, I set out to try a natural encouragement tactic each day he was overdue. There's lots of stuff on the web about natural induction, some of it probably works and some is probably coincidence. Did any of mine work? I can't say for sure, but I think it got him moving & motivated.

So, here's what I did in case you want to try...of course, this is only for full-term babes of at least 40 weeks. And check with your doctor.

Saturday, 2/9: Water aerobics.
I think the instructor & the other participants were a little shocked when we went around & introduced ourselves with our due dates, considering this WAS his due date. All the other mamas-to-be kept checking on me, making sure they knew how to reach J in case I spontaneously gave birth. The class was amazing. I mean, it was so incredible to be weightless in the water and all of the jumping around felt so good. I'd been meaning to try it out throughout my pregnancy, and I kick myself for not doing so earlier. It was a class through Oh Baby! Fitness, and I've really enjoyed all of their classes throughout my pregnancy: Fitness Combo, Prenatal Yoga (taught by pal Kristen Mercado, to boot!), and now Water Aerobics. Burke and I will definitely be attending the Mom & Baby water class once he's old enough!

Sunday, 2/10: Acupressure Prenatal Massage
Recommended by our doula, I made an appointment for a relaxing prenatal massage at the Pregnancy Massage Center. I asked the masseuse to apply gentle pressure on any points that might jumpstart labor without opening the floodgates. The massage was great. Plenty of support pillows for the belly, arm, back, etc.

Monday, 2/11: Pineapple Date Smoothie & Yoga Ball
As already mentioned, I concocted this recipe after reading about certain foods & how they benefit labor. It was quite delicious.

I also spent most of Monday at my desk, sitting on my yoga ball instead of regular chair. It really helped my back.

By the afternoon, I could feel more pressure in my pelvis and thought things were moving along in the right direction.

Little did I know that we'd have a son by sunrise...

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Meet our Munchkin

He's here! He's here!! He's finally here!!!

After 6 hours of labor at the hospital, Burke greeted the world & promptly began flirting with the nurses. I'll save the birth details for another time (let's just say that smoothie I concocted did its job.) Instead, how about some eye candy?

Lucky for us, our dear friend Anne was in town for work the days following his arrival and we were blessed with an opportunity to exploit her shutterbug talents while holed up in our hospital room. Seeing this images makes it even harder to accept the fact that Manning family moved to Texas & won't be down the street for future play dates & photo shoots.

Without further adieu, I give you her handiwork (the photos) of our masterpiece (the babe):

Burke's stats:
DOB: Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at 5:48AM
WGT: 9 pounds, 7 ounces
LTH: 21.75"

Monday, February 11, 2013

Labor Inducing Smoothie

I sit here swaying on my yoga ball to a little Alabama Shakes (despite their Grammy shut-out) as I *joyfully* enter the 40th week of my first pregnancy. He's a few days late, but I'm not trying to rush the guy. But I've been doing a LOT of reading on the world wide web about foods that could potentially, possibly, maybe, sorta naturally induce labor or at least create an optimal environment for the fella's arrival.

There were a lot of recipes out there that included dates & pineapple, but often with a lot of other ingredients that either hindered or had no impact on labor. I wanted to get right to the point, and this was really tasty. Add an umbrella straw & I could be on the beach! Instead, I'll hula on my yoga ball at my desk on this rainy February day.

***Remember, if the babe isn't ready to come, your diet/exercise regimen isn't going to change that. And don't try to induce labor pre-term. And check with your doctor/midwife.***

So, here's a smoothie recipe I concocted this morning in hopes of progressing labor:

Pineapple Date Smoothie
  • 8-12 pitted dates
  • 2-3 thick slices FRESH pineapple (with the core if you can get it). More if you want it.
  • 1-2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut - the finer it's shredded the better - if you don't love coconut, you can omit it. I just needed something to bridge the date/pineapple flavor. 
  • vanilla almond milk to desired consistency
  • dash of cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup greek yogurt - you don't need it, it just helps with a smoothie consistency vs. juice. I used plain, but any flavor you like would work.
Add to blender and pulse. The dates can get stuck in the blade, so you may want to blend those vigorously first before adding the other ingredients. I've also read that if you soak the dates in water for a while before blending, it helps avoid the chunks. I may try that next time.

Does it work? Well, I'm still typing this as I drink it, so I can't guarantee an immediate kickstart. But, here's the actual research that gives me some hope:
  • Dates. There's actually "real" research out there to support this one (published by the National Institute for Health, not some hippie in the basement lab...though I do love hippies.).  In a 2007 study, women who consumed 6 dates a day for the 4 weeks prior to their delivery were admitted with higher dilation, & a significantly higher % had membranes intact. Also, 96% of those who ate dates went into labor spontaneously and averaged 6.5 hour shorter first stage of labor than those who didn't eat dates. 6.5 hours less of labor? Sign me up.
  • Fresh pineapple contains bromelain, which acts like a prostaglandin and is thought to soften or "ripen" the cervix. Prostaglandin is the same hormone in human semen that supports the idea that sex can induce labor. I prefer the pineapple in a smoothie! The process of canning pineapple removes this hormone, so be sure to only use fresh. How much you need is a good question - I've read that you can't get enough of it, and I've read that you need at least 7 pineapples for any impact. I've been trying to eat some daily for the past few weeks. Whether it brings on labor or not, it's known to tone the uterus & cervix to make labor more pleasant. Yes please.
  • Cinnamon tea has been hailed to induce labor, but I really added it more for flavor. And I only used a dash, so I'm not expecting much from it. Maybe combined with the other things?
  • Almond milk...well, almond oil has been shown to bring on pre-term labor in mothers who rubbed it on their stomachs to prevent stretch marks prior to 37 weeks gestation. When used as a laxative, it can also bring on contractions resulting in premature labor. I doubt there's enough pure oil in the almond milk to do the damage of castor oil, so I substituted it for regular dairy milk.
  • Coconut. Well, coconut oil is like magic & good for anything. And some people claim coconut water induces labor. You could use it in the recipe instead of the flakes. I used it for the flavor. Any action is a bonus.
So the "research" is a bit shaky, as with everything else on the interweb, right? But, I feel good about the mix of ingredients not doing any harm, which is more than I can say for some of the things I've read about & heard about. The ingredients are all good for me, natural, and are hopefully going to get things going down there and help to avoid a medical induction as we get further and further past the due date.

UPDATE: Approximately 18 hours after eating this smoothie, our little boy was born!!! I'll share the labor story soon, but it happened very quickly. I can't say for sure if it was the smoothie or some of the other tricks I tried that encouraged his arrival--or maybe he was just ready. But we sure are glad he's here!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Nursery Reveal

Well, the little fella is due any day now. Fortunately for him, his room is finally ready to welcome him home!

I detailed the progress along the way, so this post is primarily eye candy. Enjoy!!

the reading + rocking + feeding corner

his first Lego toy...assembled proudly by dad
because we could all use a reminder now + then...though we expect it come naturally

dream ring from blabla (such a cool store if you haven't visited)
the sleeping spot with his jungle friends to keep him company. spoiler alert: his name starts with a B!
sleeping + changing corner
bag storage, 3 little bears style: mama's, dad's, and babe's
books + lovies from friends + fam
necessary storage bins. love the engagement photo of us hanging on the wall here. note his hamper is already full, and he's not even here yet! glimpse of things to come, i suppose.

love this verse; my mom used to remind us of it often. and love it paired with my sis trying to feel him kick!
last, but certainly not least, his own Lula watchdog for when she's busy napping.
we haven't hung anything above the crib & there's a big blank space...any ideas? our walls aren't that straight so we're hesitant to hang anything that might fall easily. i'm thinking of adding a strip of dry-erase contact paper so we can write fun messages to him. but, he obviously can't is that ridiculous?

Source List:
Chair: Craigslist
Chevron Pillows: DIY
Initial Pillow: Three Peas via Etsy
Curtains: DIY
Dresser: antique & refinished by a family friend
Rug: Rugs USA
Book ledges: Ikea Ribba Ledge 45 1/4"
Prints: DIY
Animal wall sculptures: West Elm & DIY
Crib: Baby Mod Modena
Bedding: DIY
Stool: Homegoods
Bookcase: Ikea Besta 3-shelf unit
Storage bins: Target & Zulilly
Lamp: Target
Closet: DIY, storage bins from Homegoods

Nursery Progress 7: the bedding

Call it nesting, call it a DIY drive. I felt like I needed to make something for this nursery. And decided it should be the bedding.

I followed these simple tutorials for crib sheets and changing pad covers using fabric ordered from

In hindsight, these were easy except for the threading of the elastic. Hello carpal tunnel! Could I have purchased these ready-made? Certainly. But I guess it wouldn't have that "mom made it for me" feel, right? I'm sure he'll be thinking about that right before he poops or pukes all over it.

If you're not the DIYer, lucky for you Target now carries crib sheets in just about every pattern I made:
Mini elephants
Gray chevron
Navy polkadot (I've seen in-store)

And, they're currently on sale for $9 a piece. Knowing this, would I still have given myself carpal tunnel to craft my own? I'd like to think so, but probably not. However, I wouldn't have coordinating changing pad covers, so there. And I won't remind myself that I could've easily fashioned the changing pad covers from the sheets...

The skirt is super simple. I feel guilty calling it a skirt at all. Since I only need it on one side of the crib (the ends being solid & the back up against the wall), I only hemmed a large rectangle of fabric. Then, I attached to the spring frame with binder clips. This makes it easy to adjust as the crib mattress height changes as bambino grows. I like a longer skirt, but Cricket likes to see the floor (aren't those storage bins sexy?), so it's short...for now. I could've used hem tape instead of the machine and this would've taken 10 minutes instead of the 15 it actually took.

I have grand plans to sew a coordinating teething rail once he gets here. But we'll see. I have the fabric, the polyfill, and everything just takes initiative.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Nursery Progress 6: the dresser

Again, we are working with limited space so we need furniture to pull double duty. Our dresser will also function as the changing table.

To work with the crib's clean white lines, we were looking for something white with straight lines.

While I liked this one from West Elm, I struggled with the idea if spending that much dough in a white dresser that was going in a child's room. I mean, let's be practical.

After some antique shopping, I found a potential score. The height was dead-on perfect for minimizing any hunching over during diaper changes. The width & depth were just enough to hold a changing pad and fit in our space. (The top even had a ledge to keep the pad in place.) The drawers could open with a single hand when holding a babe on the table. The dresser could also be repurposed in another room in the future. And the price was about half of the retail option.

We had a friend refinish & lacquer it to match the crib, and it looks awesome! It took some time for the lacquer smell to diffuse enough so I could move the babe's stuff into it, so be sure to allow ample time if going a similar route.

The actual paint "color" is simply white primer. We determined it matched the crib best without being too yellow, pink, gray, blue, etc.

Nursery Progress 5: curtains

So this was easy peasy. I wanted navy striped drapes to frame the existing roman shades on the windows and to close off the doorless closet. These are really intended to be more decorative than functional since we already have the shades on the windows, and I imagine the closet will be open most of the time.

Enter, these navy striped sheet sets from Target. These are available in solid colors, but I chose the navy pinstripe. Cheaper than buying the fabric, and already hemmed.

I simply split each flat sheet lengthwise and opened up the folded top edge to create a rod pocket. I hemmed along the split edge and done.

By hanging the new rods high enough, I avoided any need to hem.

Now, I need to figure out something to do with the fitted sheets and pillow cases. Each set came in a matching drawstring bag, which I expect to use in the diaper bag for little toys or soiled clothes or something purposeful. We shall see. But the extra yardage from the fitted sheets could make for crib sheets or changing covers or something else down the line.

Getting there!

Nursery Progress 4: the crib

With the chair off at the upholsterer, we could focus on the crib.

Neither of us are tall and our room isn't large, so we wanted a smaller profile crib.

Unfortunately, most of the local stores only carry the larger, grand furniture which just wasn't a fit. We didn't want to break the bank, but didn't want to skimp on quality. It was tough to find cribs we liked that we could touch & feel vs just view online.

We were liking both the Babyletto and Baby Mod lines, both manufactured by Million Dollar Baby and similar except price points.

At New Baby Products, we were able to check out the Babyletto Hudson.
[my mom, aka "Gran," modeling the Babyletto Hudson in gray]

We decided to take a risk on the Baby Mod Modena based on the strong reviews and ordered it online knowing we could return it. Gotta love free shipping! The reviews all said it was easy to assemble, so we chanced it.

Cricket was concerned about it because, well, it was really inexpensive relative to the others. (And we ordered it from Walmart, which he automatically hates. I'm an Arkansas girl and grew up on Walmart vs. Target, so I'm pretty open-minded. He, on the other hand, would swear a Coca-Cola tasted much worse, had more preservatives, and was probably otherwise damaged if purchased at Wally World versus a gas station.) They also sell the line via Amazon, Overstock, and other retailers. The pick-up in-store was a pain, I'll admit. Maybe because it was so close to the holidays and people were setting up their layaway plans --  they use the same counter for pick-up & layaway. It would be easier if you could just take your printed receipt around back to pick it up, but I digress...

Mom, Coco and I put it together in a few minutes (J was distracted with his Lego fire truck). We kept it up a few weeks to make sure it was stable & secure. We weren't sure how we felt about the ends being closed vs. slatted, but once we got it into position in the room, it really didn't matter for our room's layout.

As a bonus, the model name is the Modena. My grandmother's name. She watched me a LOT as a tot, so it's like she's watching over our babe while he sleeps.