My Baby Essentials: The First 3 Months

Baby napping in Solly Wrap
Asher napping in his Solly Wrap
A few months back, I shared my Top Newborn Essentials. While many of those items are still in play, I wanted to share an updated list of some items that have been helpful during these early infant months. 

Life With Baby These Days

Asher is now 16 weeks old, and we're definitely in more of a rhythm as a family. But lest you think we have some kind of unicorn child, rest assured that the 4-month sleep regression, 15-week leap, and teething are no joke. (All things at once? Not cool, man. Not cool.) We're ALL UP IN this parenting thing and still learning every single day how to do it better (or at the very least, survive). I'm starting to figure out that we'll never really feel like we have a grasp on things. One day at a time, y'all.

Infant Essentials: 0-3 Months

  • Activity Mat  - We like to encourage play time, but there's only so much you can do with a three-month-old. The activity mat has been great for getting him active on the ground, rolling over, grasping at toys, and interacting with his reflection in the little mirror. (He typically just playfully screams at his reflection, but he loves it. No doubt, Dude has found his voice.) We also do Tummy Time on the mat, but he tends to prefer the Boppy for that.
  • Cloth Diapers - You can read a lot more about our cloth diaper journey here, but suffice to say, we are really happy with our decision to use AIOs (all-in-ones). We use both cloth diapers and wipes, and they're so much easier to use than we imagined. It's nice to know we're reducing our strain on the environment, and it's so cute to see a big fluffy baby butt.
  • Diaper Bag  - OK, this one is probably obvious, but I have to say that not all diaper bags are created equal. I had actually registered for a more expensive bag, but decided to use a gift card from a returned item at BBrU to get something more affordable, figuring I didn't really know what I would need until baby arrived (if that makes sense). I've been super happy with my tote. I love having lots of compartments to keep me organized, as well as a lightweight bag given that all the gear itself starts to add up.
  • Flannel Burp Cloths - I have to update my previous recommendation as far as burp cloths. While we do still use the Burt's Bees cloths a lot, a friend of mine made us some adorable fleece burp cloths, and we found that material is far superior when it comes to corralling the spit-up and drool. I ordered a set of flannel receiving blankets to use as additional burp cloths, providing more coverage and lasting us a little longer (since soaking one cloth every hour is a lot to keep up with), and they've been great.
    • Our choice: Luvable Friends Flannel Receiving Blanket - Set of 4 ($10)
      • Diaper tote to carry ALL THE THINGS
      • Note: I would not recommend these as actual blankets. They're really thin, small for a blanket, the print is only on one side, and they don't hold their shape. But for spit-up? All day long. Get you some. 
  • Slobber/Drool Bandanas - I admittedly had no idea that these things produce so much spit. The pee and poop? I saw that coming. But when Ash started leaking from his mouth on a regular basis around the two month mark, I didn't know what to think. It sadly took me a few weeks before I realized that now was a great time to start using bibs (Mommy Brain is so real, you guys), and while I really like the Aden + Anais muslin bibs (especially their size), I've found these adorable baby bandanas to be much more absorbent. And let's face it: they're also adorable. We have 8 bananas and 3 A+A bibs now, which is just enough to get us through laundry cycles. (Seriously, so much spit.)
  • Snot Sucker - I just don't know how else to phrase this, y'all. The idea of sucking the boogies out of my child's nose was straight up disgusting, but after I learned more about this little gadget and it came so highly recommended by many mamas that I trust, I caved. And I'm so glad I did. It's a genius invention and has made clearing LO's stuffy noses (which happen on the regular) so easy. He hated it at first, but now he tolerates it well, especially if we use a saline mist first and wipe the boogies clear with saline wipes.
  • Teether Toy - Asher likes to chew on everything. He's like a puppy. Seriously. I bought him a sensory play and teething toy for Christmas, and he loves it. It has been so great for keeping him occupied in his carseat or the Rock N Play, and I know it's also helping him with his coordination.
  • White Noise app - This has been huge on so many fronts. Aside from swaddling him (we like the Aden + Anais swaddle blankets), turning on white noise has been one of the best, most consistently successful ways that we can help him calm down and/or go to sleep. We use the noise to signal bed time (for both overnight and naps), and it's so nice to have this in app form so that it's always handy. We have it loaded on all of our phones, as well as a track of his mobile sounds so that we can help him wind down wherever we are. (One of the perks of being married to an audio engineer.) We find that the pink noise in this app has been most effective, for whatever reason, but there are lots of great sounds and tones to choose from. The best part? The app is free. Mama likey!
  • Wrap (for Baby Wearing) - Yes, I'm totally one of those moms. I love having my little dude near me, and I believe 100% in the 4th Trimester, so I am a huge fan of the wrap for this clingy period. We have an Ergo 360 Cool Air Carrier as well, which is generally M's jam for hanging out with Ash, but I love my wrap. It was a little cumbersome at first to get used to tying it and getting everything positioned just right, but after repeated use, I can get baby wrapped up and secure in about a minute. It's a great way to get your hands free for chores around the house (I can literally vacuum while wearing him and he falls asleep). I feel like it has allowed me to be more independent, as weird as that probably sounds, and I know he loves being close to mommy's heart. In fact, he still will only sleep if we're holding him, so he takes all his naps in the wrap, which allows me to work during that time. I cherish it, honestly.

Every baby is different, and I'm sure our necessities will drastically change when the saliva situation has let up. But for now, these are the helpers that keep us chugging along.

What were the must-haves for your little one's first 3 months?


Cloth Diaper Review: bumGenius Freetime vs. Thirsties AIOs

Let me preface this post by saying we're eight weeks into cloth diapering. An expert in fluff, I am not. However, you learn pretty quickly what works and what doesn't. 

Starting Cloth

We totally skipped the newborn phase of CD'ing because of some sage advice I read while pregnant, and I think it was the best decision for us. We used Seventh Generation disposable diapers and wipes during the early days, and they suited us just fine. (We were also gifted some Honest Company wipes, which I liked too, though I recently switched to Water Wipes to have on hand because of how simple is the ingredients list.) Asher was about 8 weeks old when we started cloth, and I think that was a good age. We were past the "Sweet Heavens, what do we do with this little creature?!" phase, and he had gained enough weight to fit into the cloth diapers we purchased really well.

We opted for a stash of AIOs (all-in-ones) only. I read about more cost-effective options, but I knew that simplicity and sanity would rule the day (and I was right...which is pretty much the only thing about parenting that I estimated correctly). I also wanted a system that M could get behind as well, and AIOs are very similar to disposables, so I went that direction. We started stocking up early (once we were well into the second trimester), buying a diaper with each paycheck, and rounded out our stash thanks to two beautiful baby showers. 

Mommy Tip: The bumGenius diapers we got are coupon-eligible at Buy Buy Baby. Holla!

We ended up with 17 diapers in total (which turned out to be just right at his age), and it's a mix of bumGenius Freetimes and Thirsties All-in-Ones. I had read good reviews and feedback about both, but I have to say that one far outperforms the other...

bumGenius AIOs vs. Thirsties AIOs

I'll cut to the chase: bumGenius Freetimes for the win. No question. 

Thirsties AIOs (left) and bumGenius Freetimes (right)
They are very, very similar in style and function, which makes it easy to split a stash between the two. Thirsties has some really cute prints to select from, and they're ever so slightly cheaper. (We're talking $1, folks.) But when it comes to holding in the pee and poo (which, you know, is the whole point), the Freetimes hold up much better. 

Both styles are considered OS (one-size-fits-all), so they adjust to fit just right for your little one via snap configurations. (Thirsties also offers a Hook & Loop option.) But where bumGenius has two layers of microfleece (two attached inserts), Thirsties has only one. I even bought a set of bumGenius doublers to add to the Thirsties, and while it helped, I still get leaks with the Thirsties diapers. 

To be fair, cloth diapers are not as absorbent as disposables, so I am not expecting miracles. I changed his diaper every 1.5 - 2 hours, and I still regularly had leaks. I have yet to have a single leak with the Freetimes, even leaving him in the same diaper for 3 hours at times. (We've yet to have a single case of diaper rash, by the way. I apply a mix of organic coconut oil, Lavender oil, and Frankincense to his bum every other change and overnight, and we've been in good shape.)

Speaking of overnight, I will clarify that we do not cloth diaper for nighttime. After his evening bath, we use the homemade bum balm I just described and Seventh Generation disposables. Again, keeps things simple, and we rarely have leaks.

So, there you have it, bumGenius Freetimes are the AIOs that take the cake (at least compared to Thirsties). They really are so simple to use and don't leak. I only have to wash the diapers every three days (which is not difficult at all, especially at the rate babies go through laundry in general), and have been so pleasantly surprised with how easy it was to transition to fluff. Not to mention, going from throwing away 50+ diapers a week to just 7 feels pretty dang good. 

Cloth Diaper Accessories Worth Mentioning

Since I don't plan to do eleventy thousand posts about the joys of CD (given that many, better posts are out there en masse), I will go ahead and share a few additional tidbits that helped make cloth work really well for us...

We switched to cloth wipes about a month ago, and I'm loving them as a natural extension of doing cloth diapers. If I'm washing diapers, I figure it's easy enough to do wipes at the same time. I use a mix of bumGenius flannel wipes and these ridiculously soft Duckery Kid washcloths. I keep them in our Munchkin wipe warmer, folded and soiled in a solution made with distilled water, witch hazel, Lavender oil, and Tea Tree oil (which I apply via the peri bottle from my delivery). I love that they're gentle enough to use on his face too (because all the drool), and I don't have to worry about a bunch of ingredients that are sure to damage him for life (because all the mommy guilt for everything).

We also use the Aquaus 360 sprayer and Aquaus SprayMate, which makes rinsing the poopy diapers super simple. You technically don't have to rinse poop if they're exclusively breast fed, but, ew. We put soiled diapers and wipes in the Ubbi diaper pail with the Ubbi cloth pail liner until we're ready to wash, and no stink, no fuss. Pop all of the above in the wash on laundry day, and there ya go! 

(I'm not even going to mention wash routine and all that, but I will say that Fluff Love has been an amazing resource for us, and I have had great luck following their guidance.)

Want more baby crap?

Nothing to shill here. All opinions are my own, and no discount or compensation has influenced this post.


Mommy Must-Have: The Ember Mug

As a new mom, there are many trade-offs experienced on a daily basis. I often sacrifice getting chores done so that I can hold Asher as he sleeps. I postpone showers so that I can spend time catching up with my husband in the evenings. I eat less-than-elaborate meals so that I can use one arm to hold my 7-week-old little buddy. 

One of the more minor -- albeit very real -- sacrifices since Ash arrived? Drinking coffee while it's still hot. As though on command, the very moment that my delicious Decaf La Silva is done brewing, a fit of fusiness ensues or I get distracted. After warming up a single, sad mug of coffee four times, I basically give up.

That is, until now...

Meet Ember
My sweet husband jumped on an awesome new product that he saw on IndieGoGo, and it is currently my favorite Mommy Must-Have. 

It's called Ember. It may just look like a sleek travel mug, but it's much more. It's a fully interactive coffee mug that you can pair with your smartphone to set temp preferences by beverage, get notifications, and even give it a name.

The feature that won my heart? It maintains the temperature of your drink for up to two hours on-the-go (longer when kept on the charging base, as shown in the photo). And it actually does that, for real. Find the temp you prefer, set the dial on the bottom, and your coffee will be as warm after an impromptu feeding or meltdown as it was when you brewed it.

It was an exciting day when Ember finally arrived, as M placed the order a while back. But, not surprisingly, the campaign did really well. Even Starbucks got in on the action, which I can imagine was a game-changer for the innovative folks behind the mug.

It's not cheap, and Ember is currently backordered given its incredible popularity, but if you're looking for something special for a lovely mommy in your life (including yourself!), I'd order Ember in a hot second and get on that waiting list!

This is NOT a sponsored post. I'm just super excited when we discover great products and had to share with y'all!


My Top Newborn Essentials

In the early days of bringing Asher home, we learned quickly that while there isn't much to do aside from changing, feeding, comforting, and coaxing to sleep, those activities take a lot of time and finesse. We loaded up our registry with great must-haves and nice-to-haves based on feedback from friends, family, and lots of research (including many blog posts just like this one), but those first weeks relied heavily on a few clutch items that I wanted to highlight for y'all. No two babies are the same, but these items were really helpful for taking care of Ash (and Mommy).

Newborn Essentials

  • Wipe Warmer - This is one of those items that many lists I found online considered unnecessary. And admittedly, yes, you don't have to have this for your little one. However, across the board when I polled my family for their recommendations, a wipe warmer was mentioned. And it makes sense. I wouldn't want a cold, wet wipe on my tushy in the middle of the night. It made changings far less dramatic, and for the price point, it's a no-brainer in my opinion. 
  • Burp Cloths - Babies spit up. A lot. We have yet to have projectile spit-up thankfully, but even just your run of the mill post-feeding mess requires the constant presence of a within-reach burp cloth. We only bought one set and were gifted a few others, but I found myself willing to do a quick load of laundry to ensure some of my faves were always available. (I've since ordered another set.) Look for soft, absorbent (duh), and sized to provide solid coverage.
  • Changing Pad Liner - For whatever reason, Ash is one happy camper when he's on his changing pad. He kicks, coos, and generally has the best demeanor while he's stretched out on it. (We've loved the L.A. Baby 4-Sided Changing Pad with the Burt's Bees Pad Covers.) That being said, with a baby boy I could be changing the cover every other day between mid-change spit ups and that wayward willie. Having washable changing pad liners allows me to quickly and easily switch out just the top layer and move on, one-handed at that, which is how you simply must roll in the early baby days.
  • Infant Car Seat - I had actually second guessed whether I even should have purchased an infant carrier/car seat because I had big plans to wear baby as much as possible out-and-about (in which case, I could have just jumped straight to a convertible car seat). However, turns out Little Man would take some getting used to being carried/wrapped, and he loves his car seat! We had a few nights that first week when only being tucked into the infant carrier would soothe him. (And don't worry, he wasn't left unsupervised nor did he spend a whole night there.) Not to mention, the system is so easy to install, with or without LATCH, so I've been able to confidently use it without adult supervision.
  • Nipple Shield - This can be a very controversial item, but I have to be honest: if it weren't for this little gem, I might have given up on breastfeeding in that first week. This was given to me by the Lactation Consultants at the hospital because Ash and I were having a hard time feeding, but it allowed us to find a rhythm while still helping him put on weight. It works like training wheels, and while I probably used it longer than I should have (close to 4 weeks), we are now feeding without it and no one had to go into Time-Out. Breastfeeding is not an easy task, despite how it's represented to the unsuspecting new mom, so if tools like the shield help you make it work so you and baby both get to enjoy the incredible benefits, then party on!
  • Gripe Water - This can also be a controversial one, but we got the OK from our pediatrician, so I wanted to include it. As sweet and generally happy as Asher is, most evenings he has bouts of fussiness. They range from absolutely awful with Mommy and Baby both in tears, to simply tiring and sad to watch. While we naturally saw some improvement in his overall tummy situation and demeanor around week three, as he got a little older and feeding came more naturally to us both, we found that giving him some gripe water (two doses a day, max) seemed to help alleviate some of his discomfort. We introduced probiotics at week three, and that coupled with regular chiropractic adjustments and the gripe water seemed to help. We now (at week five) just use gripe water occasionally, but make sure we get those probiotics in him every day (and Mommy, too!).

Honorable Mention Items

  • Seventh Generation Free & Clear diapers
    • Absorbant, no harsh chemicals, doesn't irritate baby's skin; we opted for these before we dive into cloth diapering once he's big enough for the bumGenius all-in-ones
  • Seventh Generation Free & Clear wipes
    • Soft, non-irritating, gets the job done well
  • Fisher-Price Rock 'n Play
    • This became our go-to solution for naps and to allow Mommy to use both arms, as he'll hang out in this (for a short bit, at least) even while awake; great for post-feedings to reduce gas and reflux
    • TIP: Check resale shops for these! Many parents swear by these but they have a brief shelf life (3 months).
    • TIP: If you're concerned about flat head, we love the Boppy Noggin Nest Head Support for the RNP and swing.
  • Gerber Onesies
    • They really are the best, and Asher lives in these and his sleep-n-plays (someday I'll dress him cute, but Mama ain't got time for that yet)
    • TIP: Those little shoulder folds come in really handy to remove the onesie from the top-down when blowouts occur.
  • Baby mittens
    • Baby nails are razor sharp, so if you plan to breastfeed, you need some protection from their adorable little talons
    • TIP: When you're ready to start clipping baby's nails (we waited three weeks to feel comfortable), I highly recommend the Simba Baby Safety Scissors.
  • Clif Bars
    • When you gather your supplies to have nearby for your Nursing Nest, I highly recommend including some easy, heathy snacks for those middle of the night feedings when you'll feel ravenous and need some nutrition; also, oats are apparently magic when it comes to breastfeeding, so get you some!

I'm by no means an authority on this whole baby thing, but hopefully these recommendations are helpful in steering you toward some gear that had been super helpful in our home.



My Birth Story: How Our Birth Plan Went Out The Window

It's been a month to the day since we had our baby. Between my notes and those of our doula, we've hopefully still captured the details to faithfully share how it all went down, even weeks later. I will post more as time allows because there's so much to convey every step of the way, but let's start with his arrival...

At 2:30 AM on October 6th -- my official due date -- I woke to a slight cramping feeling in my abdomen. They weren't terribly painful, but for some reason, I knew I should pay attention to them. They didn't last long, but as I laid in bed, I noticed that they seemed to come and go every 10 minutes or so. Circa 4:00 AM, the cramping became more intense and I started shivering. At this point, Michael woke and asked if I was OK. I tried to play it off, but as soon as he asked, "Do you think these are contractions?" I was fairly certain that labor had begun. (I didn't have a ton of Braxton-Hicks, but I was surprised that my actual contractions actually felt quite different from those "practice" ones. The real deal reminded me more of your run-of-the-mill PMS cramps, actually.) I started keeping track of things on my phone, just in case, as the hours and minutes quickly started to blur...which would be true of the entire labor.

Laboring at Home

Around 4:30 AM, we reached out to our amazing doula, Sarah, who advised us to get some rest and try taking a bath. I got in the tub and tried to relax a bit, but it was admittedly hard with the nervous excitement I was experiencing. By 8:00 AM, I was still having sporadic contractions, but I started feeling some back pain as well. Sarah was concerned about baby's position potentially contributing to the back pain, and advised that we call our chiropractor. We reached out to our wonderful chiro team at New Beginnings Family Chiropractic, who were totally ready for our call (I went twice a week the few months leading up to my due date), and by 9:00 AM we had Dr. Crisp at the house attempting to help baby turn, as she also suspected he was posterior. (Everyone made it seem like breech was the only less-than-optimal position, so I had no idea what I was in for. But back labor...yeah, they should put a warning on that shiz.) Shortly before her arrival, the pain was getting pretty intense, and I even vomited. (Throwing up while contracting should be illegal. Not fun at all, and I braced myself for the long road ahead given that things were already a little less magical than anticipated.)

When I had my bloody show around 10:00 AM, M reached out again to Sarah. (Side note: for those of you who are preggers and concerned you won't know when you pass your mucus plug...trust, you'll know.) Just before noon, she arrived to find me laboring in the dark den and sipping Gatorade. I took a shower to try to get some relief to my back, but that didn't help much. Things were starting to get more intense, and while I was focusing on my breathing, the pain was mounting already. 

Heading to the Birth Center

We arrived at the Fort Worth Birth Center at 2:30 PM, and while I was relieved to learn that I was 100% effaced, baby was in fact posterior (ROP, in fact) and I was only 2 cm at this point...12 hours in, if you're counting. To help with positioning, I was sent to the chiro office for more adjustments. After 4 hours of adjustments, I was finally contracting normally, back labor let up, and baby had flipped to anterior. I went ahead and agreed to therapeutic rest at the birth center at this point (around 7:30 PM), and because I was still only 2 cm, we were sent home for the night. 

Without spoiling the rest, I will at least say that therapeutic rest was the first intervention to which I agreed outside of our anticipated birth plan, but it would certainly not be the last. We wanted a drug-free delivery at the birth center, and anticipated a relatively-quick, straightforward L&D in our cozy little bubble. Everyone kept saying to stay flexible and just be prepared for the unexpected, and they're so right...

By 11:00 PM on the 6th, we reached back out to our doula, as we were all now in our respective homes under orders from the midwives to rest. But I couldn't rest. Contractions were still sporadic, but more intense. Baby had flipped back to posterior, and I was miserable. Sarah came back over at 12:30 AM that morning (Friday the 7th), bless her heart, and helped us track the contractions to approximately every 3 minutes. She had me doing the Miles circuit and walking around at 3:00 AM, and by 4:00 I was back in bed. But I still couldn't sleep. With every contraction, I had to wake up M and ask him to press firmly on my lower back. (Yes, the extreme pain in my tailbone was back in full force at this point.)

The midwives had asked us to come back for a check-up on Friday morning, so I was relieved to be back there by 10:00 AM that day. Unfortunately, I was only 3-4 cm after over 30 hours of labor thus far. They went ahead and admitted me to the birth center given how long I had been going at that point, and I agreed to some nitrous to help me (hopefully) get some progress despite the pain. I was laying in the bed with the peanut ball, rolling from side to side, hoping he'd move. No dice. By noon I was bouncing on the birth ball, hooked up to a pump for stimulation, and taking herbs every 15 minutes in an attempt to move things forward. I squatted, I walked around, I attempted to keep down Saltines and Gatorade (since I hadn't eaten anything in over 24 hours at this point...because I wanted to die, let's be honest). We tried it all, but I was still scarcely at 4 cm. 

M's family came to the birth center to pray over me during this time, and I honestly barely remember them coming by. I was so exhausted and trying to get past the seemingly endless pain in my tailbone. There is no pain like that, and it's unrelenting nature was wearing me down.

Heart-to-Heart Time

The midwives and my birth team powwowed around 4:00 PM on Friday -- 38 hours in -- to determine next steps. I still wasn't progressing, and I was losing steam fast. We discussed all the options, and as hard as it was to admit, I knew that transferring to the hospital at this point was probably the smartest move. I was so tired and miserable, so M being the awesome husband and coach that he is made the call: we would transfer to the hospital for help. It broke my heart that our labor was going so completely against plan, and here we were heading to the hospital, but M and Sarah both got right in my face and reminded me that this was still our choice, and that dealing with prodromal labor was a perfectly good reason to accept help when it's available. 

This was the first of many moments in this journey that was so incredibly humbling. I admittedly thought I had this whole baby thing figured out given all the classes we took, books we read, and general knowledge I thought I had acquired. I had strong opinions, and I couldn't wait to tell our birth story, replete with rainbows and unicorns and the light of a million fairies. God knew better, and I can repeat the words I said before our experience -- "All that matters is that the baby gets here...doesn't matter how" -- but I actually mean them now. 


By 5:00 PM on the 7th, we were admitted at the hospital. They gave me fluids via IV since I was so dehydrated and weak. At 7:30 PM, the anesthesiologist arrived, almost got punched in the face by my beloved (bedside manner fail), but he delivered the epidural.

Yes, that's right, this mama, who fiercely desired an all-natural birth, opted for drugs. I would have given anything to have avoided that route, but I don't regret my decision. As soon as it kicked in, I could breathe. I could eat. I could smile. I could rest. I desperately needed that to be able to finish out the whole giving birth thing, and I'm so thankful for the access to that help.

I finally slept for a bit, but still wasn't progressing much. Just before 10:00 PM, my midwife recommended breaking my water to hopefully move things along (since I had been in labor for almost 45 hours now), and I reluctantly agreed. I knew something had to give, and at this point, the interventions just started stacking up. I instantly jumped to 6 cm when she broke my water, but we didn't take long to celebrate as the news of meconium instantly had us concerned (though not surprised). The baby's heart rate took a dip at that point, but we were able to get me repositioned and it came back up. 

For the next few hours, I rested. Finally. I only woke up when the nurse gently helped me reposition on the peanut ball, and I couldn't believe that I didn't feel a single thing as contractions progressed. (That epidural was legit, y'all. I felt nothing. Zero.)

At 12:30 AM on Saturday the 8th, our sweet nurse Ali woke me to tell me it was time to start pushing. I was 10 cm and +1 station. I couldn't believe it! The last bit progressed so quickly, and because I was sleeping, it felt like they had just broken my water. But, again, we were on L&D time, so everything felt like a half hour. So bizarre.

Time to Push

My awesome midwife Meagan (who was thankfully able to catch the baby even at the hospital) advised that it was time to practice pushing, which I realized later was an incredibly honest way to put it. She needed to see me push to determine if I would be able to do it well with the epidural. As expected, I was too drugged to effectively push, so they turned off the epidural. This, friends, is when I lost my s*#@. The pain returned with a vengeance, all to my back, reminding me that even though I hadn't felt it, my body had still been doing all that hard work. I thrashed about, sobbing, crying out to God, and insisted they do something to help me. It felt like my back was breaking, over and over. They brought in some nitrous and restarted the epidural drip on a lower setting. Baby's bp fluctuated a bit at this point, and we narrowly escaped having to use an internal monitor, but I got oxygen with the nitrous to help stabilize things. The gas helped take the edge off, but made me so sleepy. 

Nevertheless, I eventually figured out how to effectively push, and reaching down at one point at my midwife's encouragement to feel baby's head progressing was really helpful. We were finally on a roll and getting this baby out! I played tug of war with a sheet with several folks to help me push better, and finally, at 5:21am on October 8th, he was here...

Our precious son, Asher James, took 51 hours (+40 weeks) to get here, but he was worth every single moment. I never could have imagined the sheer volume of interventions and compromises that we would have to make to get him here, but it has been such a powerful reminder that I am not in control, and that things don't always go as planned.  But there's joy to be had regardless.

I am so thankful for our amazing birth team who helped us navigate the journey leading up to Asher's arrival, and I can't say enough about how incredible my husband was throughout. I can't imagine that was easy to endure, and he was right there with me every second, so I know it was arduous for him too. But it takes such things to forge a family, and I'm so blessed by mine.