Mamahood Styled


Playing with Oliver & the Osmo Pizza Co. Game!

Last night, Oliver opened up his Valentine's Day Eve gift: the Osmo Pizza Co. Game! As soon as he saw the packaging he exclaimed "OSMO!!!!" I asked him how he knew what it was and he said because of the letters "O-S-M-O means Osmo! I've seen it before!" I'm not sure what ad he saw but he knew exactly what it was and was so excited to play with it!
The debate on whether technology is good for our littles, how much screen time to give them, and what they should learn from is a hot topic. For me, as a mother and educator, I take an all-in-moderation approach. Just like the foods that we consume, I want my child to be exposed to a little bit of everything in healthy doses. Technology is an integral part of our daily lives and quite honestly, it saves me from time to time as a busy mom who sometimes needs a time out or the entertainment to get things done! But I try to stay well aware of what my child is watching and continuously educate him on what is appropriate (so much so that he will come and tell me that he shouldn't be watching certain things because "they are not being kind" or "they used mean words." With that being said, I want my child to be a learner of the present and future (just like my students). I'm all for technology that allows my child to be creative, explore coding, learn, and think outside the box. 

If you haven't heard about Osmo, it is an educational system to use on your iPad or iPhone- it has different programs you can collect that help kids learn educational concepts like coding, math, reading, art, music, etc. The particular system Oliver has is the Pizza Co. Game which centralizes its educational approach on fostering kids' social-emotional learning, money, math and owning a business. I first let Oliver explore the game as is, and it quickly introduced the premise- he is left to run a pizza shop and has to make his customers happy by getting their orders correct and giving them the correct change. While, Oliver is really good at math already, he required assistance with it. You see, the characters don't speak, captions show up on the screen and you can decipher what they are saying by their gestures and the graphics on screen. I ended up changing it to Junior Mode to see if he could do it on his own!

It was so neat to see his face light up when he realized his actions could be seen. He was able to successfully fill his customers' orders by paying attention to the graphics and visual cues! I'm a total visual and kinesthetic learner, and I think my kid is, too- we learn by seeing and doing. He was able to manipulate the pieces and pay attention to the characters' cues and expressions; this non-verbal communication is so key to relationships- I'm so glad Osmo thought of that, too! Every year on Valentines, we make or order a heart-shaped pizza and I'm already thinking his new Osmo Pizza Co. game will make an appearance!  I'm excited to continue exploring this game and growing our Osmo collection! 


Image result for osmo pizza co


// breastfeeding + pumping 101 //

I have been receiving a lot of messages lately inquiring about breastfeeding/pumping tips. I feel pretty well versed in this, as I struggled immensely with both babies but was able to maintain a positive breastfeeding journey with both! I ended up nursing Oliver until past a year and a half and my goal with Luna is to make it 1 year (we are at the 5 month mark now). Please keep in mind that these tips worked for me and each baby is different (case and point: my Oliver and my Luna are night and day with their nursing). Also, #fedisbest, so do you, boo!

Both Oliver and Luna were born with lip ties AND tongue ties which made is incredibly painful (I'm talking legit excruciating, toe-curling-razor blades every time they latched on- pain- and then it continued throughout gulp of milk attempt)! With Oliver, it took a bit for anyone to believe that his tongue/lip ties were issues (including his pediatrician at the time, the hospital ENT, and two nurses)- but eventually, I found a lactation consultant that I skyped with from New York, as well as my own LC, and we found a specialist in San Diego who solved it all for us! Because it had been a couple of months, we had to take Oliver to the chiropractor and massage therapist for sacral cranial therapy to help re-teach him to use his mouth properly! With Luna, I knew exactly what to look for and to advocate for us! The hospital pediatrician told me her tie was nothing but I was already in so much pain that I knew I needed it fixed. A second pediatrician came in and told me not to worry about it. But I knew this had a solution (and can totally see why many mamas are told not to worry about it and end up struggling so much)! At 5 days old, she had the procedure done and unfortunately, it didn't fix anything. I had to take her back 3 days later because her tongue tie was actually deeper but immediately after she latched on, I felt a difference! Yay to their amazing Pediatric Dentist who did it locally!

Tip #1: breastfeeding should NOT be excruciatingly painful! Look for lip and tongue ties and know that not all doctors will agree with you. 

With Oliver, I started pumping immediately (while at the hospital) because I was so nervous my milk wouldn't come in and I'd starve my baby. I ended up creating an oversupply and foremilk/hindmilk imbalance that I swear is worse than an undersupply. The positive of this was that even after I stopped nursing him, I had SO much milk and was able to feed him for so much longer and share with whomever needed some. With Luna, I didn't start pumping until she was about a month old and I only pumped once a day early in the morning when I was most full, in order to start a back-to-work stash. I was careful not to create an oversupply and really stick to supply and demand!

Tip #2: decide when you will start pumping and don't go overboard with too much, too fast. Let your body regulate your baby's needs, especially in the beginning. Once your milk supply is established, pump as you need. (Think: are you pumping so someone else can feed the baby and you can get a break? or are you saving for a rainy day or back to work?) You just want to be mindful that the more you pump, the more your body will produce- supply and demand!

With Oliver, I had a huge supply, I would pump and get enough for at least 2 bottles, maybe even 3! With Luna, I'm lucky if I get enough for 1 bottle, sometimes 1.5. Once in a great while, I get enough for 2 bottles. They each took 4 ounces starting at 3 months and that amount did not increase over time. Breastmilk changes to meet the baby's demands- from fattier to lighter for their needs. It's freaking amazing!! Oliver clusterfed ALL THE TIME, while Luna clusterfed for the first 6-8 weeks and then went to every 2-3 hours and is still the same; she currently takes 3-4 oz in a feeding. Oliver also comfort nursed 24/7; Luna gets mad if she's tired and I try to nurse her, haha! Again, each baby is so different. Oliver still has trouble going and staying asleep, never slept through the night; Luna slept 6 straight hours the night we brought her home and always has given us a long stretch through the night (with an off night every now and then). The one thing that has been true for both, and I think applies for the majority of babies, is supply and demand- the more you put your baby to the breast, the more your body will produce. Don't worry if your baby is feeding every hour on the hour (or if your baby feeds for only 10 min- ahem, Luna; or for 45 minutes- ahem, Oliver), your body is producing what they need- even if they are hungry right after! I find that we freak out and think they are starving and we are not making enough, but 9/10 times we are! But we get so worried that we think otherwise. Also, remember that your baby's stomach is marble sized when it is born and your milk is super filling so a little goes a long way! Lots of skin-to-skin, take a stay-at-home-nursing-vacay where all you do nurse that baby around the clock!

Tip #3: if you want your body to produce more milk, put your baby to your breast as often as possible- preferably skin-to-skin. & try hard not to overthink anything! If your baby wants on all the time, it's what your baby may need at the time. Always look at wet diapers and that your baby is gaining a bit at each weigh in.

Having great products also helps, but there's so much on the market, it's hard to decide what to buy AND what will your body respond to. The two things that are tried and true are toooons of water (I'm talking if you think you drink enough, you need more; I shoot for a gallon a day and sometimes I need more than that); you also need a well-balanced way of eating. There are so many foods that are said to boost your supply and a quick Google search will lead you there. Aside from those two things, you need a good pump (I swear by my Spectra S1- it's a closed-system, rechargeable, and so much more gentle than the Medela Pump-in-Style I used with Oliver, which mostly everyone uses but I really don't care for). It's important to make sure your flanges fit properly (when I was using flanges, I had to buy different ones to fit me) and you will need a hands-free pumping bra! I don't currently use flanges; instead I use Freemie cups which fit into my regular nursing bra or sports bra and I don't have to change in and out of my bra and top every pump! I love them except for them not being super clear so sometimes I have to readjust multiple times to make sure the right part is being pumped, haha! I've also learned to start my pump before I put them on so I can instantly see what part is being sucked in (otherwise, if it pump the wrong part, you'll end up with zero milk). I also don't trust it's measuring so after I pump, I put them in a bottle, then a  storage bag. I pump on the way to work, and twice during my work day. I pump for 15-20 minutes max each time. Medela makes awesome wipes for your pump parts and a sanitizer ziplock bag that is amazing because you can sanitize it in the microwave! Lanisoh storage bags are my favorite but I don't like pumping into them- I I also use separate washing brushes for all my breast pump and bottles! An extra set of pump parts is always nice if you are pumping while at work, too- not necessary for just the occasional pumping though! When storing my milk, I only store in 4 oz or less amounts. My favorite bottles are Comotomo! I used them for both O and Lulu! If I am consistently not pumping enough, I power pump- google it so you can learn all about it!! Also, a silicone manual pump works amazing at catching the other side, especially in the beginning when your supply is all over the place and your milk isn't regulated.

Tip #4: Be ready to pump with the right pump, flanges, and parts! 

A support system while breastfeeding and pumping is key to your relationship with this, too! Of course, having the support of your partner and/or family is great! But stay true to what you want to do. This includes your admin if you are working! Know your state laws and don't be afraid to use them. When I was nursing Oliver, I had my own office and could come and go as I pleased so I didn't inconvenience anyone. Now that I'm teaching, I felt SO bad inconveniencing anyone to cover my class in order to pump but everyone has been SO supportive and willing to help!
In the first few weeks post-birth, I went to multiple Lactation Consultants even though I was super familiar with nursing- I don't know all that there is to know and I wanted to make sure I wasn't missing anything (although I'm sure I still am)! So before you leave the hospital, meet with one and then make appointments with ones in your community! They are angels!
I had stocked up on foods that boost supply and a few supplements as well! I did get my placenta made into pills and I am unsure if they helped or not, but I would do it again! I also used Oat Mama bars and absolutely loved them! Tasty and with milk boosting ingredients, plus gave me the extra calories needed for breastfeeding! Also, Mother's Milk tea! I have also become super familiar with which is so beneficial for so many questions I have had. I also follow a Lactation Consultant on IG that gives great tips!

Tip #5: Create a great support system for yourself!
Build a good support system at home, work (if applicable), with a Lactation Consultant, & friends online! Become familiar with supplements and real foods to boost your supply, and know that you are not alone! Breastfeeding and pumping are a lot of work (at least for me) and pumping is super inconvenient for my lifestyle but I make it work because it's what I want to do for my baby. But again, do you, boo! I've spoken numerous times about why I pump/nurse and they are exclusive to me. Don't feel that this is the only way, some great formulas exist out there- heck, I'm a formula baby and came out really healthy! Haha! Seriously, decide what it is you want and go for it!

I hope these tips help! I can talk about breastfeeding for hours, but I think this is a good overview! Let me know if you have any questions!



Our Holiday Cards with Minted

// This post is sponsored by Minted and contains affiliate links.  All opinions are entirely my own! //

Geoff and I have always been avid holiday card givers! We absolutely love coming up with a picture to commemorate the season or year and then usually DIY the print job on them! Throughout the years, when we receive cards from our loved ones, Minted ones stand out each time! The print quality is so nice and the paper is so luxe! This year, I feel so lucky to have been able to partner up with Minted for our holiday cards!
 We were originally going to do only pictures of Luna and Oliver but at the very last minute (I’m talking, 20 minutes before we were leaving to shoot them), we decided we should be in them. So we tripod and timer’d them! Let me tell you, we were a hot mess! Getting an infant and a toddler to look at a camera on a tripod without anyone there to guide them- ahhh! We also were super unprepared because we needed a location and both thought the other had one in mind already! So it took us about an hour of driving around, and another to actually get a decent shot! Not to mention that in between this, we missed Luna’s awake happy time and had to wait for her to eat and take a power nap before we could attempt it again. Our first location was awesome- an old part of downtown with an old white gate and steps, but it was so windy that our littles were not having it (since there was nothing to block the wind). Our second location was unexpected but had an awesome tree and cacti surrounding it so we laid our plush white rug over the low trunk, and up we crowded around it! Let me tell you that sitting on a tree trunk is not all it’s jazzed up to be haha! Once we got home, we uploaded the pictures and found the best one and let me say that considering the trouble it took, I’m super happy with the picture we chose! Luna’s tiny little body sitting on me, with her clasping her tiny hands, with her tiny bracelet, smiling so big at her daddy and brother….all the heart eyes! Oliver and Geoff look so happy and handsome, too! After a quick edit, we uploaded the picture onto and got to choosing our design!

I knew I wanted gold foil so I was able to quickly navigate through the sort options and choose that since there are so many beautiful choices available. I was set on gold as always but then saw that the card we chose has a beautiful rose gold option and it matched what we were wearing better! I also had realized that we never got a chance to mail out a birth announcement for Luna, and Minted actually has an option to add to your card in the back (it actually even gives you the option for a little book, multiple pictures, an actual birth announcement, and many others). We chose Luna’s IVF picture with all the IVF needles we used forming a moon and wrote our holiday greeting on the back!
There are SO many options, you guys! From the envelope liner, to the fonts used, to the style you want- the possibilities are truly endless for your perfect customization! I love that they have so many designs by independent artists- so it feels like you are supporting creative people: Minted has competitions where artist enter their submissions, we vote, and voila, a winner is chosen and becomes a card you get to customize! How rad is that?
I also was super extra (duh) and created customized stamps! I couldn’t help it! We had some really awesome captures of Luna and Oliver from the first location we shot at that we just needed to use! I even got to write my favorite quote for them on it “Love by the sun, live by the moon!” also has an Excel spreadsheet you can add your addresses to and I’m so glad I used it because now I have an organized way to keep addresses that I can add onto or edit throughout the year! Did I mention they have free personalization?! How amazing is that!!
This one is going out for our IVF doctor! & yes I realized after this picture, the stamp was on the wrong side- oops! haha!

Once we ordered, we had the option of getting a proof emailed to us or just finalizing it. I went with getting a proof first and I’m SO glad I did because despite how many times I looked at it, I completely missed that I hadn’t changed the default family name in the front of the card. So we almost got cards that said “Love, the Andersons” hahaha! Within a few days, we received our cards and omg!! The quality is superb, the customer service is on point, the designs are beautiful and you can’t beat free addressee personalization!

They also have gifts you can personalize using your pictures which make great year round gifts for your loved ones!

Have you ordered your holiday cards this year? You don’t have to go out and shoot new pictures! You can choose favorites from this past year! & Minted even has New Years cards and all sorts of greeting cards and announcements! I am hooked and know so many friends that are, too!

Snail mail is my absolute favorite (seriously, I check it every day excitedly) and love receiving and sending mail! I hope you do, too!! Happy Holidays from Minted & us!

 Minted is having a sale right now so you still have time! Holiday and New Year cards are 15% off or you can enjoy free shipping!

click here for a discount or free fast shipping!!


// these are a few of my favorite things //

I remember being pregnant with Oliver and constantly Googling (that's a verb, right?!) and Pinteresting (another verb?!) all the must-have essentials: from what to put in a diaper bag, to what to pack for the hospital bag, to what products I'd need! While I quickly found out everything is tailored and not a one-size-fits-all for each individual baby/mama/family, I truly enjoyed the posts! I remember posting about my must-haves shortly after Oliver was born and those were just the NoseFrida and the Windi! Back then, these were not well-known but since have become staples in most mama's diaper bags- you can see that post here!

Now with more experience, I want to share other products that I have tried and absolutely love. As I find more, I promise to post about those, too! Including any coupon codes I can share, because who doesn't love a coupon code!

The Owlet: 
Peace of mind while your newborn sleeps in priceless! If this device would have existed when Oliver was a newborn, you bet your booty, we would have purchased it! It is worth every dime! It is a heart rate and oxygen monitor that you put on your baby's foot and it has a wireless alarm you set on your nightstand. If it's lose or can't read their data, it alerts you with a lullaby. If your baby's levels go outside the norm, it alerts you with an alarm that will wake you immediately! We have all read the horror story nightmares parent's have gone through and I could not imagine living through something like that. Which is why this is number one on the list! 

Use this link to purchase: and there is currently free shipping on it!!

The DockATot:
Babies love to be snug to sleep because it mimics life in the womb. The DockATot is a muti-functional unit where babies can rest, relax, play, and sleep! You can easily move it from room to room, from bassinet, crib to bed, and know that your baby is safe! It fits perfectly in Luna's Pottery Barn bassinet so I can easily move her from wherever she fell asleep in it, to it! I have the Deluxe+ which will last her throughout almost her first year, at which time I will upgrade to the Grand. Luna does not enjoy tummy time, but I use the rounded sides to help her out and she enjoys that! I love that I can have her in bed with me, too, if needed! We have been using it since her first day home and I contemplated taking it to the hospital with me, too! We do use it when we travel- no hotel cribs for us and she has been able to get her night's sleep perfectly well in it! We have the white one because I love the simplicity of it, but there are a ton of amazing covers (I have my eye on one right now) and even a toy arch, making it double as a play gym for your baby! 

You can use this link for $10 off your purchase:

The Ollie Swaddle:
There are so many swaddles out there and I wish I knew that there is so much more to using a swaddle than I did with Oliver. I used to wrap him up and he could get out easily; I quickly gave up and chalked it up to him hating it as he would grunt until he got out. But this time around, I've learned that it's what you do after the swaddle that matters ( yup, I took a sleep class this time around to learn)! The Ollie Swaddle is amazing, albeit a little intimidating in the beginning, since it reminded me of a little straight jacket, lol! It's amazing velcro make it so that the baby cannot get out of it but it has an easy tie at the bottom for diaper changes. I wasn't sure if it was making a difference in Luna's sleep so I stopped using it for a week. She went from sleeping almost through the night, to waking up repeatedly. I decided to give it a try again, and on one of my insomnia ridden nights, realized how many times Luna wakes throughout the night due to her heavy startle reflex. Yet with her Ollie, her arms stay snug, and she is able to fall right back to sleep! Amazing! 

Use this link for 10% off:

Forte Elements Vitamins:
I can't even tell you how sick I was with Luna for over half of my pregnancy! I did A LOT of research on vitamins since after the journey to get pregnant was so hard, I wanted to make sure I was taking only the best of the best- and I was- until I found Forte Elements and realized there is something EVEN better out there! Clinically proven and research based, their prenatal vitamins gave me the boost I needed to regain some of my energy while pregnant! I wasn't sure if it was a placebo effect, but over the summer when we moved, I misplaced my box and went back to my regular high-end vitamins. Well, my fatigue came back with a bang- until a few days into taking Forte Elements and I felt like myself again! Now, in my fourth trimester postpartum, I've been taking their AM + PM Postnatal pills and am so grateful for them! Since I am exclusively breastfeeding Luna, it is SO important that not only I, but she also receives the best of the best! I truly believe they have helped us during this cold + flu season too!

Use code thishappymess at checkout at  for 10% off your order!

I have a must-have breastfeeding/pumping post coming up soon! Including what pump I think is the best, along with my favorite bottles, and accessories! 


Luna May Olive: A Birth Story


I've wondered so many times how I would write this birth story since Luna joined us earthside, primarily because it is so extremely different from what I imagined, from what I prayed for. Although it went nothing like I wanted, I went in knowing that the goal was a healthy baby, and a healthy mami. Since we got both out of it, I'd like to start off by saying, it was a success!! My miracle IVF baby girl is here and we couldn't be happier!!!
39 weeks, 6 days pregnant 
With the journey to this baby being such a treacherous one, my prayers for delivery were for a healthy and speedy one (especially since Oliver's delivery was amazing) and I kept hearing that second babies come even faster than the first ones! 
Prior to that, I had gone into preterm labor at almost 32 weeks and was put on restrictive bedrest for almost 5 weeks. He arrived two days before his EDD, to everyone's surprise. I went into the hospital two days before my due date, at 9am and had him at 4:51pm. 

With Luna, I started getting contractions at 20 weeks- no one thought I would make it even close to her EDD- especially since she always measured 4-7 days ahead. As the weeks passed, my contractions became stronger. At 37 weeks, we started checking for progress and each week was shocking, as I had not dilated from 1 cm. I spent my due date with Oliver and our friends at a water park, and later that day I lost part of my plug. I had an appointment scheduled from the next day and was so excited and sure that I had made major progress. I was shocked to hear that I was maaaaybe at a 1.5 and 50% effaced. Then I was checked for water leakage, and just like with Oliver, I tested positive for nitrocin and ferning (meaning, my water had started leaking). Since we were unsure of how long it had been leaking, and I was NOT in labor, I was sent to the hospital to induce labor. 
Now induction was far from anything I wanted. My labor with Oliver was unmedicated and although I was open to the idea of medicine if we needed it, I did not want to start off labor before my body was ready to. But I also had to do what was best for our baby- and the risk of infection was high so we decided to start on Cytotec to soften up my cervix and allow me to dilate. We all imagined that within a dose or two, I would go into labor on my own and deliver that night- after all, there was a full moon on the forecast and it couldn't be more perfect than that (Luna means Moon in Spanish)!

The excitement in the room was incredible! Geoff and I were thrilled. Oliver had been telling us that his baby sister was going to wait to come until he started Pre-K. That morning, at 40w1d, I was able to take him to his first day of Pre-K! As I was leaving he held my belly, and said "Okay, Luna (which really sounds like Wuna), you can come now!" Calling our parents later and sharing the news with Oliver that we were on our way to the hospital to have his baby, hearing his excitement, oh man, it was palpable! We let all of our loved ones know and prepared for it all. 

Day Uno: 
We arrived at the hospital and we immediately knew we were in the absolute best hands: from our nurse to the Director of Labor & Delivery, everyone was a familiar and happy face with our best interest in mind. I got into my own gown to labor in, got my essential oils plugged in, own pillowcase, music going, *yes, ladies, I'm super extra*,  got hooked up to wireless monitors so I could labor freely, took my first induction dose, had the rest of my water broken (so now I could REALLY feel each contraction) and we all were so sure that by the evening, our baby girl would be in our arms! We even recorded a "Push it" video that's on my IG! We had Oliver come visit that evening (which ended up being a mistake in hindsight)! He did great the entire time there, but when it was time for him to leave, he became very emotional, not understanding why I was in the hospital if the baby wasn't here yet, and why we needed to be separated. Thank God for his wonderful grandparents who were there for not only him, but a huge support system for Geoff and I. 
I had the max amount of Cytotec doses over a 24 hour period- that's 6 of them every 4 hours- with each dosage making us believe it would be THE one! We spent all evening and night, making our rounds, walking, squatting, etc in the hospital hallways, making friends with the staff, knowing it would be any hour now...By the next morning there had been zero progress even though I was still having hard contractions and doing every thing we could think of to get labor going. Talk about feeling defeated. Everyone was so sure she would have arrived by the previous evening. Seeing the nurses finish their 7am-7pm shifts was even more defeating. We brought in donuts for the staff because bless each nurses heart, they were each SO amazing and critical to our story. We truly and wholeheartedly had the best support system through our nurses, midwives (my beloved friend/midwife was out of town for the summer so her BFF became my midwife and it was so nice to have both of their support), our friends/family that constantly checked in, and our social media support- so many people we have connected with! 

Day Dos:
By the evening of Day 2, my contractions were harder and closer, but still not consistent enough for progress and with having had my water fully broken for over 24 hours, the risk of infection was high. I had to decide what to do since they couldn't give me more Cytotec. After much consultation, we moved on to Pitocin- which I truly and honestly feared. I hadn't heard of many mamas being able to make it without an epidural after Pitocin was administered and my contractions were already really painful so I couldn't imagine them getting worse on medicine before I peaked. But my options were limited and I truly felt that after one dose of Pitocin, it would work! So I started it around 5pm of Day 2 with internal monitors so I could still labor in positions I wanted. The way Pitocin works is that they give you 2 units with an IV every 20 minutes and it goes up to 20 units, with contractions getting harder and stronger each increase. It can be turned off at any time, which is great because I knew my body would take over. Weeeeeell, by 1am, I was up to a level 12 without pain meds, and zero sleep. My mind was totally focused, but my body had started to shut down. I hadn't sleep more than 1.5 hours the night before, and had hardly eaten anything because we all thought the baby was coming! But shout out to the oatmeal I had for breakfast, the Pitaya bowl I had for lunch and the Quest protein bar I had for dinner for powering me through)!  Meanwhile, each contraction radiated every inch of my body but I was so focused, I could melt into each one knowing they would pass quickly. They were on top of each other, hardly giving me any rest in between, each fighting to be off the charts. Unfortunately, my body was done for and would violently shake during each contraction, wanting to fight them. I didn't care because I knew with the amount of pain I was in my body would have definitely made progress. At this point, I was excited and we all decided it was a good time to be checked. 

To all of our disbelief, I had only dilated to a 3ish!!! The shock of this lack of progress made me feel extremely defeated- our entire team couldn't believe it. We all met several times trying to figure out the best course of action. Everyone wanted me to be healthy and have energy to push, but the only way to do so was with an Epidural, which I did NOT want. 

Now, I know, trust me, I know it was difficult for anyone to understand why I didn't want medicine. & although I don't have to explain my reasoning, I've always been so raw and open that I want to express this part of my journey...
My baby took two years of back-to-back IVF cycles. The amount of medicine it took to conceive her truly blows my mind. Me, the girl who won't even take an aspirin for the debilitating migraines I get that last days. Not because I get an award; no one doesn't make me a hero...not at all, there's no badge of honor or trophy I would get by going unmedicated. But knowing this is my last pregnancy meant everything to me. I wanted to birth my baby on my own- finally without the assistance of medicine- although I was grateful for medicine to provide me with my baby! But for this, I wanted to be led by my faith in my God, and my body. I also had gone through an unmedicated labor with Oliver and although it was the hardest physical experience of my life, it was the most amazing, to FEEL him being brought to our world, and I didn't want to be numb to her being delivered. This was my very last chance to do this on MY own, and I was really excited and ready to do so.
birthing in all its glory

BUT at this point, I wanted my baby, and if they needed to up Pitocin and give my body rest, then so be it. I reminded myself that my only real plan was a healthy baby and mami! Plus 90% of my girlfriends all swore by the beauty of epidurals and a lot of them said they could still feel the pressure so I felt secure in my decision to get one (once we did decide). And I could see the relief on everyone's faces once we decided, too! But I'm still so grateful everyone let me figure it out on my own. So I was blessed with the #1 anesthesiologist who was the sweetest woman and took her time in making me feel comfortable. My midwife came in and held me and prayed over me and I still felt that damn needle go in and even flinched- of course, my luck, lol! But as soon as it went in, omg, after two days of pain, it felt like a dream! AND I could still move my legs and felt pressure! YES! Why didn't we do this sooner! It felt amazing!!! Until I heard commotion and rushed voices, and nurses start rushing in, because Luna's little heartrate had crashed down (a side effect of epidurals). I was turned this way and that, my belly shaken and shifted to try to get her in a better position and it felt like nothing was working. But luckily, she got settled and all was well, considering. 

Day 3
SO, I am finally able to get well-deserved rest, with the exception of a side-to-side flip every 20 minutes throughout the entire night and the constant drip of fluids, buuuut I got some rest! A few hours later, its Day 3 around 5:30am, the Pitocin was cranked up to its max dosage of 20, my body has the shakes, and we decided it was time to check again. This was it, I thought to myself! The somewhat still full moon was descending in the horizon as the sun was rising....To my dismay, I had dilated to a 5. Let's recap, started at a 1....after a whole day of Cytotec and Pitocin, I was at a 3, and now with full dosage of Pitocin and an epidural, I was only at a 5. WTF?! This time the whole team was beyond confused and defeated. They started wondering if she was big (she was tiny), or hitting the wrong part of my cervix, flipped, etc. My midwife was called in and she looked so disappointed. We knew a C-Section would be next. So the Pitocin was shut off and everything for one started. By this time it was 7am and my entire body from the mid-waist down was beyond numb. I couldn't feel A THING; I couldn't move my legs- they were SO heavy and it took ALL my strength to get into positions. My epidural had gone from great because I could still feel pressure, to horrifying (for me) because I felt completely numb and heavy and useless. But I didn't care, I just wanted my baby. So I woke up Geoff and told him we had shut the meds off and were prepping for a C-section. My midwife goes to check me one more time before putting in the orders, and would you believe it, I had actually progressed to a 7 all on my own!!!! Everyone got so pumped and excited and we canceled C-section plans! I had Geoff call his parents immediately because I felt like it was going to happen really fast from there! by 8:15am, I was at a 9!!! She was coming!!! It was time to push any second now, and we got everything ready for it! Yay!

The Birth
So I start pushing and....nothing....I can't feel a single thing, so I have no idea what I'm doing, but my contractions are being erratic again and there's no pattern to them. We try a few more times, and nothing. What is going on?! Luna's heartbeat goes from 160ish to the 40-50 range. My heart sinks. After all of this, there is no way we are losing our baby. NO WAY. The slow beeps make my own heart stop. My midwife shakes her head, I see the nurses look at each other with disappointment in their eyes...she sits down, shoulders slumped, and tells me we need an emergency C-section and pages the OB (who luckily happens to be in the hospital this morning). I don't even care. I just want my baby to be healthy and earth side. Within minutes, he comes in and gets me to start pushing. Again, my contractions are being sporadic and not consistent, they are monitoring Luna's heartbeat, trying to give it one last shot before a C-section. The room is full of so many nurses, my midwife/friend is on FaceTime, our parents are behind the curtain (because the room was too full to fit anyone else), there is talk of re-starting the Pitocin, the OB says no, he starts massaging, and telling me when and how to push, her head surfaces, they wheel in a mirror- I mean, a full length, wooden framed mirror on wheels, where I can see EVERYTHING, more than I EVER want to see again (why did I think it was going to be a small, compact mirror to just witness her birth, haha). The OB, grabs a swaddle blanket, twists it in his hands, and tells me we are going to play tug-of-war, when he tells me to. Each push/tug is a few minutes in between but we are making progress, everyone is so encouraging, I am pushing with all my might, my incredible husband being my number one supporter, telling me everything I need to hear in this moment, until finally, they all happily exclaim she is on her way out, her head is out and then her shoulders...and then the OB steps back, the midwife steps in, and it's time for me to reach down and pull her out. I grab under her slippery shoulders and pull up, greeted by a full head of hair and a tiny little human being, who isn't crying much. It all feels so surreal, the room is so dark, I pull her to my chest, I start to cry and cannot believe it. Then realize she's not crying much, so I ask, and she starts to cry a bit. My head starts pounding, and I can't see very straight, but I know she is here. I don't seem to recognize her, like I thought I would. I lift her to admire her, count her fingers and toes, call her by her name, and ask Geoff "Did they put in the right embryo?!" Haha, the long labor, the pain, the numbness, the beauty of her life, all come crashing down on me and I'm not sure what to think. We get the next couple of hours to just BE with her. Her teeny, tiny little body curled up against mine. My mind and heart in disbelief. I'll never know why it was so hard, not just our struggle leading up to conceiving her, but our actual labor and delivery...but she's here...and we couldn't be more blessed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
All the heartache, the pain, the loss, the angel babies, the time Oliver begged me to not give up while he cried on the kitchen floor...all for this moment... here she is, earth side, finally, completing our family. Just. like. that. 

Luna May Olive- you are a true testament of love, patience, and fear. You're a miracle in our lives and we couldn't love you more than we do. You truly complete our family, baby girl. Thank you for being here, we adore you more than words could ever convey. "and if you are to love, love as the moon does; she does not steal the night- she only unveils the beauty of the dark."

P.S. If you're interested in Oliver's birth story, go to web version, then the search bar on the middle right hand side, and search "birth story." That one is divided into two parts!

P.S.S. After writing this birth story, I spent some time reading the blog posts I wrote about our IVF journey. I didn't document it all, I never really told anyone I was documenting at all, but my heart aches and is equally full by our journey as I look over at Luna May Olive sleeping in her bassinet. God and Science, how i love thee.
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