Vivian’s Birth Story

I’m so thrilled to announce to everyone that our baby was born on September 19th at 6:35 p.m.! (Though, if you follow me on Instagram, you probably already knew that.)

Our first week with Vivian has been amazing and trying and wonderful and exhausting. But I’ll share plenty more on that later. For today, I wanted to share her birth story because I remember getting a lot of comfort from reading other women’s stories when I was pregnant. Hopefully there’s a lady out there that gets some comfort from mine (or at least a better idea of what to expect from a drug-free labor). Before you dig in, this is a long post, and I get into some of the gritty details. You’ve been warned.

The first indications that labor was near started the Sunday night before Vivi was born. From that night on, I went to sleep with Braxton Hicks contractions, wondering if this was going to be the night. (When I would wake up the next morning without having gone into labor, I would always be a little bummed.) My mom got in from Iowa on the 15th, so after that we were just waiting the little lady out.

The night before Vivian was born, I had a pretty good feeling this was going to be the real thing. She was moving a LOT, and my whole belly just looked different — much lower and less like it was integrated into the rest of my body. More like a basketball just stuck onto my middle. Even Bogey was acting funny, not leaving my side and curling around my belly all night. The baby started pushing a lot on my cervix when we went to bed around 12:30, and I had a few cramps.

At 4 a.m., I woke up with contractions that were coming regularly every 7-10 minutes. I starting timing them with an app on my phone. (It’s called Full Term, and I highly recommend it — there is no way you are going to want to do math when you’re in labor, and this app tells you the average duration and interval of your contractions for the last hour and six hours so you don’t have to think. Plus, if you’re a dork like me and like stats and figures, it’s kind of a fun way to distract yourself from the pain.) When the contractions were consistently around seven minutes apart, I paged the midwives at our hospital just to let them know. I knew I wanted to spend the least amount of time at the hospital as I possibly could, and I wasn’t planning to get an epidural or any kind of intervention, so I didn’t want to head in until the contractions were much closer together or my water broke. I spoke with the midwife on duty, and we agreed I would call back when the contractions were 3-4 minutes apart. I woke Joey and my mom just to give them a status update. The contractions weren’t very painful yet, but I took a bath to relax and ate some breakfast per my midwife’s instructions. (Once you get to the hospital, you can’t eat or even drink water in case you have to go into surgery for an emergency C-section, so it’s good to fuel up before you get there.)

When the contractions were 3-4 minutes apart, I called again. Because my water hadn’t broken and the hospital wasn’t far from us, the midwife told me I could stay home as long at I felt safe there. So I stayed, and two of my friends came over to help distract me and coach me through contractions.

{My contraction team.}
{My contraction team.}

Now, about the pain. (We all know that’s what you’re really interested in, right?) The contractions became more and more intense every hour. I was sitting on the couch, and when I would feel one rolling in, I would lean forward into one of my friends, and Joey would push as firmly as he could on my hip bones since I was feeling most of the pain in my pelvis. This was a technique we had learned in our birth prep classes called the “hip squeeze,” and the counter pressure really did help with some of the pain. We also went for (short) walks every few hours. Walking made the contractions come a LOT more frequently, which was good because it progressed the labor but mentally difficult because I got less of a break between contractions. I took another bath and tried to eat more, but after a while I couldn’t really keep anything down. The middle of each contraction was the worst — I would feel like I was either going to burst into tears or throw up (and several times I did throw up). That made me a little nervous about having enough energy later in labor, but there wasn’t really anything I could do about that.

{Walking to progress labor.}
{Walking to progress labor.}

At 2:30, the contractions were 2-3 minutes apart and I decided we should go to the hospital (mostly because I wanted to get the car ride over with). A different midwife was on duty at that point. She actually wasn’t my favorite when I had met her in my routine appointments because she had a much more matter-of-fact manner, but that turned out to be exactly what I needed in labor. She examined me in triage and found that I was almost five centimeters, so I was admitted. This was my least favorite part of labor because they had to monitor the baby for 20 minutes to check her heart rate, meaning I had to lie on my back with a bunch of sensors wrapped around my belly. As difficult as contractions are in general, they are almost intolerable when you have to lie still on your back during them. I was also on an IV because I had to get a round of antibiotics before labor (I’m a carrier for strep B, so they gave me penicillin to protect the baby), meaning I had yet another tube to maneuver if I wanted to move anywhere. The pain was so intense that I threw up again, but finally it was time to take the sensors off and go to my labor and delivery room.

Once there, I bounced on a birthing ball for a while and tried in vain to find a comfortable position. About 40 minutes later, the nurse appeared again and wanted to monitor the baby for another 20 minutes. I thought I would cry just thinking about it. But this is when my midwife stepped in and basically kicked the nurse out, telling her I didn’t need the extra monitoring anymore so I could be in any position I wanted and having her clamp the IV so I didn’t have to be attached to the tower anymore. I was so grateful to her for looking out for me at a time when I could barely put a sentence together.

I tried a few more laboring positions, but nothing was really helping. Then I got sick a few more times from the pain, and I could feel my energy levels dropping. (Four hours of sleep and no food or water for 13 or so hours will do that to you.) Then my midwife recommended getting in the shower for a bit. The hot water in the bath at home had helped, so I sat on a chair in the shower and pointed the sprayer directly at my pelvis. It actually did alleviate some of the pain — I was even able to doze between contractions in there. I stayed in the shower for about 45 minutes, and Joey would reach in to push on my back during contractions, which also helped.

When I got out, I’m not going to lie, I was starting to wonder if I could do this without an epidural. It was about 6 p.m. at this point, I was so tired after about 14 hours of labor with nothing in my system, and I could barely think straight. But I also noticed that I was feeling a lot of rectal pressure (basically like I had to go to the bathroom…sorry there’s not particularly ladylike way to describe that), so the midwife checked me even though she didn’t think I was ready — after all, we had only been in the hospital for about three hours. Despite her misgivings, though, she announced I was at nine-and-a-half centimeters! I have never been so relieved in my entire life — we were nearing the finish line!

The midwife left to check her other patients, telling me that I could try pushing on the next contraction if I thought it would help, but she didn’t seem to think anything would happen for a little while. Most women will push for an hour or two before the baby is actually born. Remembering some of the labor positions I had liked when we practiced in our birth class, Joey suggested changing position to hold onto the back of my bed. This simple switch changed everything for me. I suddenly had a strong urge to push, and within minutes I had broken my water (it looked and sounded exactly like popping a water balloon) and could feel the baby coming out. One of my friends ran to find the midwife while I just kept pushing through contractions (because, honestly, I couldn’t have stopped if I’d wanted to).

Things sort of speed up into a blur for me at this point. The midwife rushed into the room and tried to find the baby’s heart rate, but she couldn’t with the position I was currently in. I think the main issue was that she was still looking for the baby in my belly and Vivi was already lower than she thought in the birth canal. She made me turn back over, and there were a few seconds we all held our breath until she finally found the heart rate again.

Should we talk about pain again? This probably won’t surprise you, but pushing a baby out does hurt. (STOP THE PRESSES!) But it’s a completely different pain from the contractions because you’re actually doing something (something with an end goal) instead of just gritting your teeth and surviving the pain. I was also very fortunate that this stage of labor went very quickly for me. After about two contractions and two or three big pushes, Vivi’s head and shoulders were out. The midwife told me to grab my baby, and I did without even thinking (I was in animal mode at that point). I don’t think I’ll ever forget the feeling of seeing her face for the first time (she looked EXACTLY like Joey), wrapping my hands around her, and pulling her out the rest of the way onto my chest.

But then she was here!! I tore a bit because she came out so quickly and with one hand by her face (a pose she was in often during her ultrasounds and still strikes when she’s sleeping), but I didn’t feel that at all. Joey cut the umbilical cord, and the midwife delivered the placenta and stitched me up while I nursed Vivi for the first time, which was a really amazing moment for me. All in all, I was in labor for about 14 hours and pushed for about 20 minutes.

{The sweetest face I've ever seen.}
{The sweetest face I’ve ever seen.}

Then everyone cleared the room except for Joey, and I got to spend an hour just holding her skin-to-skin and reveling in how incredible this tiny person is (definitely my favorite part of the day). As exhausted as I had been before her birth, I suddenly felt like I had all the energy in the world. We spent some time with our friends and family in our recovery room before going to bed. After 48 hours in the hospital, we headed home and have been enjoying getting to know our little girl more and more every day. She’s pretty amazing, if I do say so myself.

{Joey changing her first diaper.}
{Joey changing her first diaper.}
{So. In. Love.}
{So. In. Love.}
{Daddy's girl.}
{Daddy’s girl.}
{I spend way too much time just staring at her face.}
{I spend way too much time just staring at her face.}
{It's hard to be a baby.}
{It’s hard to be a baby.}

So that was it! (4,000 words later…)

One last thought on the pain: I’m not going to pretend it was a cake walk. I nearly lost my cool a few times, and I threw up almost a dozen times because of the strain on my body. But even though I remember in my mind that the pain was incredible at times (particularly those few seconds at the height of each contraction), I just can’t make myself remember the feeling anymore. Your body really does forget (and therein lies the secret to how so many people have more than one kid). It was some of the most intense pain I’ve ever experienced, but it was also completely bearable in hindsight. I think it helped to go in with the expectation that it was jus tgoing to be the worst pain ever, so that way anything less seems not so bad. I also have to repeat how helpful I think it was to keep working out during pregnancy — I felt strong going into labor, things progressed quickly and regularly, and the mental toughness gave me the grit I needed to get through the rough moments.

Phew, that was a long one. But, really, if you didn’t want a detailed account of a labor, you came to the wrong blog. This one’s on you.

I want to say a HUGE thank you to the staff at Beth Israel Mount Sinai Hospital for taking such good care of us and being so kind as we adapted to our new roles as parents. I’m also incredibly grateful to our friends and family that coached me through labor, brought food, and generally supported us through this whole process so far. We couldn’t have done it without you.


Eating In: A Review of Kitchensurfing

I’m a pretty lucky girl in that my husband does most of the cooking in our house. Occasionally, if he’s stressed with work or I’m craving something really specific, I’ll dust off my rusty culinary skills and whip up a little something, but in general, the kitchen is his domain.

Sometimes, though, neither of us is in the mood to do anything after work except to flop on the couch and have someone hand us a meal. That usually results in a sizable Seamless order, but recently we learned about a new option.

I’d like to introduce you to Kitchensurfing, an on-demand personal chef service where you can have a professional chef come to your home, prepare a meal, and clean up before you even sit down to eat. The result? A healthy, often locally sourced dinner in about 30 minutes time, cooked entirely to order.

The view.
The view.

Our chef, Claire, was delightful. She arrived promptly (even getting there a few minutes before we did), and quickly set up and started cooking. Joey and I sat at the table nearby and caught up on our days while the aroma of steak started to fill the kitchen.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset
The talented Claire.

Before we knew it, Claire was done, the kitchen was cleaned up, and dinner was served. And, you guys? It was gorgeous.



We had the Rosemary Beef Tagliata with Seared Polenta Cakes and an arugula salad with baby artichokes and a balsamic dressing. It was totally delicious.

The most amazing part of this service to us was that, besides being super quick and delicious, it’s not even insanely outside our price-range — at least as an occasional luxury. Weekly pricing (one meal per week) for couples is $59, for a young family is $79, and for a family of four is $95. If you consider what you would spend on an evening out with friends, it’s not that different (and you can do this in your pajamas!). Joey and I could also see using the service again for an anniversary or other special occasion.

My date.
My date.

Interested in trying it out for yourself? Click here to learn more.

Have you already tried Kitchensurfing? Can YOU think of anything fancier than having a personal chef for the night?

[Disclosure: All Kitchensurfing links used above are affiliate links.] 

5 Things to Know When You Get Pregnant


It seems like there are roughly 8 billion versions of the article “What No One Tells You About Being Pregnant.” And, as in all areas of my life, the last thing I want to do is be cliche.

Which is why I resisted writing this article for so long.

But the fact is, there were several times throughout my pregnancy that I learned a little life pregnancy lesson that I thought to myself, “I should write that down to share with the masses because PEOPLE NEED TO KNOW and I have truly never read it anywhere.”

So that’s what this post is about. I can’t guarantee no one has ever told you these things, just that I hadn’t already read it in one of those 8 billion other articles.

Here we go.

#1 Buy a Tide Pen
Pregnancy comes with a whole host of new things, not the least of which is a new, at times giant belly stuck on your front. If you’ve never had a belly like this before, it takes a bit of getting used to. Especially during mealtime.

While having a new perch for bowls of ice cream or cereal is helpful, your new little shelf is also a breeding ground for spills and spots while you eat. Thus this tip.

A Tide Pen will undoubtedly be useful post-baby (kids are messy, yo), but I highly recommend investing in one to carry around while the little tot is still in vitro. Because you WILL try to wear a white dress one day and eat tacos at the same time, and you WILL walk away from lunch with a zillion little red splatters on your belly. Just embrace it.

#2 Let Love In
When you get pregnant, it will seem like suddenly everyone wants to help you with everything. Seriously — everything from loading something mildly heavy into your trunk to reaching for something on the top shelf will be off-limits according to someone.

My advice? Let them help.

At first, it may seem silly or even irksome, especially if you’ve spent most of your life priding yourself on your self-reliance. But, you know what? Pregnancy is going to tire you out sometimes, whether it’s emotionally or physically or both. Remember that you are still a super tough boss lady who is growing a baby — you just don’t need to carry all your groceries yourself to prove that anymore.

And, perhaps even more important, remember that when people offer to help, it is like they are giving you a gift. When you shut them down or refuse to let them help, you are essentially throwing their gift back in their face. (They won’t appreciate that this is some kind of independent stance on your part — because they just want to help.) So let ’em. When you’re passing out at 8:30 p.m. from exhaustion near the end of your first and third trimesters, you’ll be glad you did.

#3 At Some Point You WILL Say, “I am going to be pregnant forever.”

In my case, it was a text to my friend Darla that said, “I have been pregnant forever. I will always be pregnant. Pregnant is me.”

Clearly, I was near the end of the 40 weeks. But the fact as, it might happen early in your pregnancy and it might happen later, but at some point, you will be tired of nurturing a tiny life in your belly and be READY for the next stage of things. Because having to hold your breath to put on shoes is just not anyone’s idea of a good time.

Do not beat yourself up over this. This doesn’t mean you are going to be a terrible mom. It doesn’t even mean you are bad at being pregnant or that pregnancy is particularly awful. It just means that pregnancy last a long time. And if you’re a super type-A freak who tracks her cycles with the precision of a German general (assuming he has a German-made watch…I guess?), you might find out you’re pregnant right at the beginning and have what feels like the longest pregnancy ever.

You will get through it. If it makes you feel better, some species of shark carry their babies for 42 months. And there’s apparently a thing called the alpine salamander that can go 48 months. Forty. Eight. So…let’s all just take a moment of silence for those little guys, okay?

#4 Lower Your Expectations

I really and truly loved being pregnant about 90 percent of the time. But here’s the thing: Even though I was always vaguely optimistic that I would enjoy being pregnant, I went in with pretty low expectations.

I expected to be sick as a dog for at least three months (if not more…I have a sister-in-law who threw up every single day for two of her pregnancies)(RESPECT). I expected to not be able to exercise or even move like a normal person within a couple of months. I expected to get HUGELY pregnant because, who knows? I expected to freak out over said weight gain. And I expected that I would hate being pregnant over the summer.

None of those things actually happened. Except the summer thing. August? I hate your guts.

So many people build up the idea of having the perfect pregnancy in their heads, whether because they’re possibly a little delusional or just because they think it’s what they’re supposed to feel. You might not always feel moony toward that little wiggleworm in your belly. You might even HATE (gasp!) being pregnant at some points.

None of that matters. A lot of people feel that way. You are not a bad person for feeling that way, and it’s so not worth beating yourself up over.

Which is why I recommend embracing those worries or negative expectations. Because then, you know what? When you don’t throw up every single day, you will feel awesome. You will tell yourself you’re crushing this whole pregnancy thing every time you keep your lunch down. And if you do actually experience one of your fears? Well, you knew it was coming, remember? So no freak-out necessary.

#5 Do a Lot of Research…and Then Only Keep What You Like

Remember those 8 billion articles of things to know about being pregnant? You can drive yourself crazy with those. (And hopefully I’m not contributing to the crazy right now.)

My strategy when I got knocked up was to spend the first few months in information-gathering mode. I read everything. I even read things that I decided fairly early on I didn’t agree with. I read every crazy post on a handful of online forums. (You guys…if you ever want to fall down a rabbit hole of bonkers, get thee to an online pregnancy forum.) I listened to advice from everyone, whether they be trusted confidante or random stranger.

And do you know why? Because listening to everyone is the fastest way to realize that no one has every little thing all figured out. You realize that, no matter what you do, someone out there will think you are spot on and someone else will think you are borderline abusive. You realize that there is no pleasing everyone. And suddenly you stop caring about pleasing everyone. The only person who you really worry about making happy? The one you’re growing in your uterus.

If this is your first time going through this, you probably don’t really know what you even want in the beginning. I never would have guessed that I’d be in my last couple of weeks with a midwife planning to forgo an epidural. So you never know what will end up being the right choice for you. Plus, the more you know, the less scary the whole process starts to become. Yes, I’m a bit nervous about pain during labor, but all my research has also affirmed for me that this is one of the most natural things my body can do, and that’s a really empowering thing to believe.

So there you have it. I’ve been working on this post for the last couple of months, but I feel like I better get to publishing since I (hopefully) won’t be pregnant much longer. And if you read this and thought, “pshhhh what do you know, lady?”, I encourage that too. Don’t let anyone’s advice or tips or whatever overwhelm you. Just be the best pregnant lady you know how to be, ya know?

Momma readers, what did I miss? What’s the one thing you never read in a book or blog post that you wish you had?

{photo by Figment Art & Photo Co.)


I haven’t felt like I’ve had that much to blog about lately. It’s not like nothing is going on in my life. (Psst…baby’s due in two weeks. Kind of a big deal? I guess?) It’s just that we’re sort of in a holding pattern at this point.

The nursery is done. The rest of the apartment pretty much is too, minus a few details (like needing bedside lamps, etc.) that I am officially putting on hold for the next few months while I figure out the whole aforementioned “baby” thing. The only things I can conceivably see myself doing in the next week or two are nesting-related. For example, I spent 45 minutes this weekend scouring the grout between the tiles on the floor of my bathroom. (It is GLORIOUSLY white now, for your information.) Apparently it’s normal to get fits and bursts of energy at the tail end of pregnancy where you do things like scour grout or clean out closets or hand-trim your carpet. Apparently.

I’m also spending the last couple of weeks checking off a few to-dos. Going to the dentist. Getting my hair done. Finishing the book I’m reading. Seeing friends and planning at least one more “date night” with Joey. I have no idea what to expect from the next few weeks/months, so I’m essentially trying to soak up the normalcy I’ve grown accustomed to before everything changes.

But other than that…we wait. So bear with me during the downtime. I can’t imagine it will last too long.