Second-time motherhood and saying yes to the village


I’m treating myself different this time around. With my first baby, I was trying to retain so much of my pre-baby self. The girl who could do everything—by herself, thank you very much. The girl who appreciated the offers of help but would chirp back cheerily that she was “Fine!” without it.

And, I’m so many ways, I could. I could push myself and carry on and get through it. For weeks, maybe months, I could ignore the tiny cracks forming in my own sanity, my own confidence, my own sense of self. I could barrel forward because I did have support—even if I didn’t always accept the help regularly proffered.

And I did fine. We did fine. I even felt truly happy most of the time.

But when I look back on it, I also remember feeling lonely. Feeling bored. Feeling disconnected and not fully myself. FaceTiming my mom every morning the SECOND I knew she was awake. Texting friends about random things and living for responses to posts I made online because it meant I was kind of, sort of talking to someone for a while.

Because I was craving something without even realizing it. I was missing the village.

In my (albeit limited) experience as a mom and working for an incredible resource like Motherly, I spend a lot of time thinking about how our society views and treats and lives motherhood. And the more we progress in so many ways (and, truly, it’s a good time to be a mama), the more and more I realize that mama’s need the villages of old.

I firmly believe motherhood was intended to be a group activity. A shared load between a group of women (and, okay, we’ll let the occasional helpful man in too ), a perpetual support system of physical, emotional, and spiritual uplifting.

It’s something I feel in my bones when I look at the above photo from my labor, just minutes before I brought my second daughter into the world. I see how loved and supported I am, and every part of it rings powerful and right and exactly how it should be.

When I read essays and stories from women who struggled with new motherhood, the common denominator is that missing thread of community. Is that (often self-inflicted) pressure to do it all alone, to do it all perfectly. It’s just not how we were made to live and mother and thrive.

Other cultures get this. They impose “lying-ins” and incredible amounts of care for new mothers, requiring full months of rest where the mother’s only job is to recover and care for her newborn. The idea of “super mom” seems to be a distinctly American phenomenon, and I haven’t been immune to the pressure.

And the crazy thing is, I’m so incredibly fortunate that I have that village. I have incredibly helpful parents and in-laws who are practically begging to chip in. I have my two best friends living literal minutes from me, along with their family, all of whom regularly offer help from meals to massages to simply being there to listen and hold my baby and me whenever we need. I have a loving congregation who have looked forward to and prayed for my baby and me just as much as I have.

I had these things the first time I became a mother too. And it took me until now to fully appreciate what a gift that is.

So this time around, I made a rule for myself: I say yes.

I say yes to my own “lying in” — five days spent largely in bed, simply recovering and bonding with my baby while others care for me and my toddler. And not feeling any guilt about it.

I say yes to the offers to make food, whether it’s my mom making me eggs every morning so I don’t have to wait for everyone else to be ready for breakfast or my friends offering to bring me treats or meals I might be craving.

I say yes to offers to watch Vivi or hold the baby so I can sneak in a nap, without any guilt that I “should” be the one doing all the cuddling and caretaking—as if I’m helping my children by denying them another person’s equally unconditional love.

I say yes to the listening ears, to the offers to do grocery store runs, to the help with laundry and vacuuming and giving my toddler a bath so I can focus on resting, recovering, and bonding with this new tiny person who has changed my life so wholly (again).

I’m saying yes to offers to take both girls so I can just sit in bed with a hot cup of coffee and scroll through Instagram or Pinterest or—hey!—even tap out a blog post’s worth of feelings on my phone—completely and utterly guilt-free.

And while I may only be a few days in, I already feel a difference. I feel a lightening of the load, of the pressure. Because while I will always feel the most responsibility to make sure my children are well cared for and have more than they ever need, a tiny, primal part of me feels like it’s the whole village’s job to shoulder that Herculean task. That, on my own, I simply can’t do as good of a job as my whole crew can do together.

Because I feel that this is a time I should be thriving too, and I can only do that if I let all the love and help pour in without keeping any back. Because I truly believe with my whole heart that this love and support (for them AND me) is the greatest start I could give my children.

So, this time, I’m saying yes. I’m saying thank you. And we’re all better for it.


Juliette’s birth story


After 42 weeks of pregnancy, I was more than ready to meet my baby. Anxieties were beginning to mount that I wouldn’t have the birth center birth I had planned, that I would have to be induced, that I would end up being forced into a cesarean. I worried that something was wrong with my baby, that something was wrong with me. We were waiting and waiting for…we didn’t even know what. And prodromal labor every night left me questioning my own body and ability to even tell what real labor felt like anymore.

In short, I was not handling it as well as I would have liked.

At my last midwife appointment, they gave me a homeopathic labor stimulation kit, complete with a castor oil smoothie and instructions to take the supplements and try to stimulate labor with my breast pump — for two hours. I did it diligently. Nothing happened.

The next morning, I had a biophysical ultrasound scheduled to make sure everything was okay. My worst fear was that my fluid levels would be low and I would get sent to the hospital for an induction.

For the record, my fears about induction and c-section are entirely my own. I know so many incredible mamas who have brought their perfect babies into the world through these methods, and I firmly believe any way that gets you a healthy baby is the right way. But it wasn’t my plan, and I felt fear about potential surgery. I was mostly afraid of being in a situation where I didn’t feel empowered in my labor, or where I was pushed into something I might not actually need just because of a hospital’s policies. But because the most important thing to me was getting my baby safely out, I was working hard to compartmentalize these fears and mentally preparing for whatever would come.

Before the ultrasound appointment, I took another dose of castor oil, and then my mom and I headed over.

Fortunately, the ultrasound was very positive. Baby was moving and breathing, fluid and cord looked good. The baby was measuring about 39 weeks, but that was normal for my babies. I left with a sigh of relief that, at the very least, I would be able to see this pregnancy through Sunday night without intervention.

When I texted the info to my midwife, I asked if she knew of a good acupuncturist who specializes in stimulating labor in the area. She didn’t, but she said she had an amazing chiropractor who could help, and I scheduled an appointment for that afternoon at three.

I spent the next couple of hours before the appointment relaxing. I wanted to take a break from all the labor stimulation. I was tired and feeling frustrated, so I figured I would just leave it for now and start again Friday morning.

At my chiropractor appointment, I explained that I was overdue, and the doctor checked me and found that my pelvis, a spot in the middle of my spine, and my neck were out of alignment. He said these things could be interrupting the electrical flow and even signals between the baby and my body, gave me an adjustment, and told me to come back in a few days if nothing changed. At the very least, I found I could now walk without a waddle and chalked the visit up to a success.

On the drive home, I started to have some stronger contractions, but I had been having contractions every 10-15 minutes at hour-long spurts for weeks, so I didn’t think too much of it. Once home, they continued to intensify until they were too strong to talk or walk through. The contractions were about 8-10 minutes apart by 4:30/5. I called Joey and told him to start thinking about heading home because this felt more real and then gave my midwife a call.

We agreed to give it a little more time and see if they continued to get closer together. (By this time, I was beginning to feel like the pregnant woman who cried wolf and didn’t want to get everyone in a tizzy just to have the contractions drop off in an hour.) But by 5:30, I could tell these were different from the prodromal contractions and told Joey to get in his car (he works an hour away with no traffic, and we were officially in rush hour). I alerted my midwife again, who told me she would be at the birth center in 40 minutes.

We took Vivi to one of my best friend’s (and birth team member!) houses to spend the night, and 20 minutes later headed to the birth center. The contractions were about 6-8 minutes apart but getting stronger every minute. I even felt the vague urge to push, but told myself that was crazy—it was way too early.

We got to the center at about 6:40, with Joey reporting he would be there in an hour or less. My midwife checked me, and I was dilated to almost five centimeters. Active labor is six, so she said I could go home if I wanted to, but I could tell things were moving very quickly and opted to stay. Already there was no comfortable position to ride out the contractions, and they seemed to be coming faster and faster with no real break in between. (It could have been the adjustment from earlier, but my pelvis lit up with pain during every contraction and still felt sore even between them.)

When Joey walked in the door in the middle of a contraction at 7:30, I could have cried with relief. After that, I got in the shower for a while because that had been such a comfort to me when I had Vivi. I wanted to try the tub, but my midwife was worried it would slow down labor. The shower water did help, especially since my pelvis was feeling so sore.

After about half an hour, I was feeling even stronger urges to push, so I got out. My midwife had me lie on my side with a peanut ball between my legs, and I tried to relax as much as I could through the contractions. Easier said than done since they were SO PAINFUL at this point, much more intense than Vivi’s had been only a few hours into labor. I remember thinking, “I hope this labor goes fast, because I’m not sure I can do this for much longer.”

At 9:00, I told my midwife that I was feeling a strong urge to push, and she checked me and was shocked to find I was nine centimeters. My next contraction, I tried pushing and my water broke immediately. The next, the baby started to crown. My midwife must have sensed my small moment of panic because she immediately grabbed me and told me to breathe, to feel the baby’s head, to realize that my baby was right there, that I was almost done.

The next push, the head popped out. The next, the shoulders cleared and I grabbed my baby and pulled it onto my chest (we still didn’t know she was a girl at this point). The baby was a blueish gray, but before I could even worry about it, she pushed her whole chest and head up in a push-up and stared straight at me for a full two seconds. Then she flopped down and took her first breath with a few wails. At this point, everyone was dying to know if it was a boy or girl, and I finally lifted her up to check. A girl! Vivi had gotten her sister and Juliette was officially part of our family.

Truly, I’ve never known such relief and happiness. My baby was in my arms, the pain of labor was over, and I’d been able to have the labor and delivery I hoped for. The extra weeks of waiting faded away and felt like exactly what we needed. The stress and fears were gone, and we were all right where we should be. It was an incredible moment.


From start to finish, the labor was about three and a half hours, which made it all the more surreal for me. We stayed at the birth center for four hours for follow-ups and instructions from the midwives, and then I decided I would rather sleep in my own bed and wake up at home. So we bundled up Juliette and headed home.

Now, the usual questions!

Yes, Juliette was also an unmedicated birth. No, I don’t have any regrets about that. Yes, it hurt—in many ways a lot more than Vivi’s labor because there was virtually no build up to the final stages of labor. (Well, unless you count all those overdue weeks of contractions ) But, for me, there is something incredibly empowering about feeling every moment of bringing my babies into the world. And while, yes, it is the greatest pain I’ve ever known, it is not impossible, not unbearable—at least for a while. I’ve been fortunate with both my babies that things have progressed steadily—and in this case, very quickly—because, as I said, surviving a 36-hour labor (or more) as some women do would be a totally different experience.

And, yes, we did head home after just four hours! Honestly, I loved it. I got to sleep and wake up in my own bed, which for me was so much more comfortable than staying in the hospital the way we did with Viv. Of course, if either of us had needed any kind of follow-up care, we would have had to go a different route, but I’m grateful that we were able to get back to our own space.

So I think that’s it! Sorry for the long post, but you know I’m a stickler for the details. All in all, we’re just so happy to finally have our little girl out of my belly and in our arms.


7 items to register for with baby #2


One of the first questions my friends asked me when I announced I was pregnant with baby #2 was whether or not I wanted a baby shower. I’ll admit to feeling a little torn—after all, I had already had several amazing showers the first time around. But because we’re living in a new place and had a whole new group of friends who weren’t able to celebrate Vivi’s arrival with us (and because, let’s be real, I love any excuse for a pretty party), I ultimately decided it would be nice to have a smallish shower to celebrate the new little rabbit.

This also led to a follow-up question: Did I register for baby numero dos?

Ultimately, I decided to for several reasons:

  1. There were several things I actually did need that couldn’t be repurposed from Vivi.
  2. Because we didn’t know if we were having a boy or girl, guests who wanted to get gifts would have an even harder time coming up with options on their own.

In the end, I thought it would be simpler (and better for my wannabe minimalist lifestyle) to let everyone know what we actually needed.

Registering for a second baby was a lot more fun for me, actually, because a) I only needed a few things, so I could really edit the list to necessities and b) because I had been a mom for a few years, I knew what we actually used or wished we had gotten the first time around—all meaning we were a lot less likely to end up with toys and stuff that would just end up taking space. (You know how I feel about baby stuff.)

For today’s post, I’m not going to share my registry ad nauseam, but I did want to highlight a few things that I think all second-time moms should consider registering for or picking up before baby #2 arrives. Here are some of my favorites!

First things first, I changed the way I registered this time around and used Babylist. Babylist lets you compile desired items (or services) from around the web in one place, so you can get the diaper bag you want from that adorable Etsy shop and the blankets you want from Target. They also have custom options like “dinner” or “cleaning help” that you can request from friends if you truly don’t need any tangible items. I found it really easy to use their app to add things from my phone that I would discover throughout my day.

Now on to the good stuff.

1. The diaper bag I wish I had known about: Fawn Design Original


Honestly, Fawn Design is a new-ish company, so I’m not even sure they existed when Vivi was born. But a year ago, I bought of her mini diaper bag backpacks for our Disney trip, and I’ve been totally in love with the look and quality of the brand ever since. I told myself that if/when we had another baby, I was ditching the traditional, clunky diaper bag I had gone with the first time around in favor of this sleeker backpack option.

2. A second baby monitor: Motorola Wireless Baby Monitor


Vivi still uses her baby monitor, so I needed a second option for the little rabbit. There are so many options on the market right now, but what sold me on this one was how easily it can scan the entire room and the reasonable price point.

3. A second noise machine…with longevity: Hatch Baby Rest

hatch rest nightlight sound machine

We haven’t had any issues with Vivi’s standard noise machine, but I wrote about this Hatch Baby Rest version for Motherly a couple years ago and have wanted it ever since. Not only is it a noise machine, it’s also a night light, an ok-to-wake clock, and it can be controlled by an app on my phone. Plus, I love how the design just blends into the nursery without calling any attention to itself.

4. Toys that fit my home’s aesthetic: Petit Collage Wooden Puzzle

petit collage wooden puzzle

This is probably very millennial of me, but any of my friends can tell you that I’m very anti-plastic, anti-technicolor, and anti-gimmick when it comes to my kids’ toys. For baby #2, I requested almost exclusively toys that I felt it wouldn’t bother me to see strewn across the living room floor (because, let’s be real, that’s where they live most of the time), which meant a lot of neutrals, a lot of wood, and a lot more craftsmanship. One of my favorites? This wooden animal puzzle from Petit Collage, plus a few teethers and a play gym from Etsy.

5. Because you’re much more practical for round 2: Medela breast pump parts

medela parts

Oh, did you think you were going to get through an entire pregnancy post without hearing about breastfeeding? Sorry not sorry. While I didn’t need a new pump, I did want to update a lot of the parts from my original, especially the ones that came in contact with milk and were therefore probably not as sterile as they once were. A kind couple of friends stepped up to the practicality plate and bought me new parts (like breastshields and pump membranes) so now my pump looks like new.

6. The swaddle you actually want at 3 a.m.: Sleepea 5-Second Swaddle

sleepea swaddle

I had dozens of traditional swaddle blankets for Viv—and she wrestled her way out of them constantly. And while they were great for play blankets, stroller and nursing covers, and just general blanket use as she got older, I always felt like there had to be a simpler way to swaddle. Which is why I was psyched when these 5-second, zippable swaddles came out a few years ago. They’ve tested well for the Motherly editors, so I immediately added a couple to my registry for this new, equally wiggly baby.

7. Safer skincare for baby: Beautycounter Baby Oil and Diaper Rash Cream

beautycounter baby oil

While I wasn’t a Beautycounter consultant when Vivi was born, I had started to use some of their safer, cleaner skincare products on myself. Since then, they’ve also released a baby and family line. And since Vivi has notoriously sensitive skin, especially as a newborn, I’ve incorporated more of their family products into my children’s skincare as well. I’m excited to use the baby oil on both my babies, and I’ve also stocked up on their Calming Diaper Rash Cream for the new tiny bum entering our lives.

So those are the basics! I also registered for a few decor items, a couple books, some feeding items, a new carrier (I never found a buckle version I loved as much as my Beluga Baby wrap until I tried this one from lilleBaby!), and a few clothing items. If you want to see the full registry, you can view it here.

For you other second- (or third- or fourth-!) time moms out there, did you register after the first one? What were your must-haves?