Ryen Mae - Birth Story

The moment they put Ryen on me for the first time (Yes, I brought my own blanket to the delivery room....)

Now that I'm coming back to life, I've been working on Ryen's Birth Story all week and can’t wait for her to be old enough to read it. As I’m sure you remember, Memorial Day weekend was SO hot. It was 95-98 degrees the entire weekend, and I was so determined and ready to get (her/him) out. I had such a great pregnancy-- minus weeks 6-9 (promise I’m going to write about the scare and complications I had during that time next) but the last two weeks got VERY uncomfortable. I had sciatic pain, which is basically a nerve pain that shot from the top of my back all the way down my left leg at random times throughout the day and night. On top of that, the swelling became pretty bad towards the end-- especially because of the heat. As every pregnant person or mom knows, sleeping towards the end is pretty nonexistent.

walking into triage...

Okay... done complaining-- just giving you some background on why I was so anxious and excited to get this baby out over Memorial Day weekend. I had literally tried EVERYTHING people had told me (eat spicy foods, eat pineapple, walk, do jumping jacks, have sex, drink a certain type of tea, bounce on a bouncy medicine ball;  you name it…I did it)! I walked a total of 7-9 miles a day Saturday and Sunday of Memorial Day (including night walks to the lakefront) in the 95 degree heat...and still NOTHING. :(

Monday of Memorial Day rolls around (my due date) and I woke up feeling a weird pressure that I hadn’t felt before.  Still no signs of this babe coming, so I decided to go with my family and family friends to our annual Memorial Day picnic in Deerfield. I played in the egg toss, had a great lunch, got some sun, played fetch with Dash, and had an all around fun day. We then headed back to the city and decided to go out to dinner with my parents, brother, cousin, her fiancĂ©, and my aunt and uncle. We were set on going to the Athenian Room like we always do, but my brother was so annoyed with us for always going there that he suggested going out for Mexican food. (I’m seriously convinced this restaurant was what did the trick!)

After dinner, we got Dairy Queen and walked around Oz Park-- but I was EXHAUSTED.  We decided to head home early. By the time I got in bed at 10:00, I wasn’t feeling any pressure anymore, so I assumed I was just going to be induced on June 4th like I had decided with my doctor at the previous appointment. Well, little did I know… Ryen had other plans!

pre epidural

post epidural
Starting at midnight on the 29th, I woke up with my very first “real” contraction. Everyone always said that I would know the difference between Braxton Hicks contractions and labor contractions. Although at this point the pain wasn’t anything crazy, I knew they were much different than just the tightening feeling that happened with Braxton Hicks. If I had to describe how they felt from 12-4am,  I’d say it just felt like a pretty strong period cramp once every 5 minutes. I woke Jeff and told him I felt my first contraction, and he asked if we should go to the hospital. I said no we’d just get sent home until they were closer together, so we both tried getting some more rest. By 12:30 I realized sleeping through these were not going to be an option, so I decided to clean my entire house, shower, blow dry my hair, and finish packing my hospital bag. By 3:30 they started getting stronger and were never more than 5-6 minutes apart, so I decided to call the on-call doctor.  She pretty much said exactly what I thought she’d say, that until they were closer together and painful enough that I couldn’t talk or walk through them, that they’d probably still send me home if we went to the hospital. By 4am they were starting to getting pretty painful, so I woke Jeff up…because if I couldn’t sleep, why should he... right?! Haha. He showered too, and packed his bag because we both knew it’d be a long day or couple days in front of us. We went to Starbucks at 6 am and then headed over to Prentice Hospital.

It's so weird because every 5-6 minutes I was in excruciating pain from the contractions, but after 30-45 seconds, it was done and I would feel PERFECT until the next one came on. We got checked into triage, and, at this point, I was having contractions that ranged 3-5 minutes apart. However, they checked my cervix and I was only one centimeter dilated. P.S... having your cervix checked on top of feeling contraction IS NOT FUN. The nurse could feel the baby’s head right away and said it was very low, but said my cervix was tucked pretty far back so she had to put her fingers ALL the way up to check it. Not, not extremely painful....  But anyways, the on-call Dr. for my practice came in and could see how much pain I was in, so she suggested walking for two hours around triage and bouncing on a medicine ball to see if that would move things along. She also asked if she could strip my membrane before I started this. At this point I was so desperate, so what was another 30 seconds of intense pain?

After this, my husband and I started our two hour walk around triage. He called his family who lives in Michigan, and said “We THINK that this is going to happen today but aren’t sure”, and immediately my mother in law said “We’re getting in the car!!”  Now the pressure was really on to get this babe out. I don’t know why, but I was so nervous at this point for people to know that I was in labor. I was still thinking of every single scenario that could go wrong, and was in so much pain that I wasn’t thinking clearly about how exciting this actually was. I kept saying to my husband throughout the walk (where I’d be on the floor in pain every 5 minutes) that I kept forgetting why we were here, it just seriously all felt so weird and surreal.

After the two hours was up, the doctor checked me again and I was still only 1 cm dilated. I literally said “Are you fucking kidding me??” to a very nice Doctor, so I felt pretty bad about that after the fact... haha…it’s not like it was her fault! She basically said I had two options,--to go upstairs and get an epidural which could really slow down the labor process, or go home and try to let things progress in the comfort of my own home. She also said that if we forced my body to go into labor before it was ready, that my chances of having a C-section would be higher. That combined with the fact that I don’t even stay at very nice hotels because I’m such a germ freak, was enough for me to decide to head home and let this play out a little longer.

Bad move going home. I kept curling up in a ball on the floor, and was probably scaring my neighbor every few minutes. I ordered a vanilla long john from Dunkin Donuts because that was the only thing I was craving…and I could only have a couple of bites (that’s how you know this pain was serious... haha). Jeff’s parents got into town  and my parents came over around 4pm and were sitting in the living room watching TV while I was on the floor timing these contractions and deciding what to do. I have a really high pain tolerance but by 6pm I was crying from the pain. That’s when I knew I had to get the epidural. Our parents wanted to drive us and come to the hospital but I told them to go out to dinner because as far as I knew it’d be a long time until we got admitted. We got our bags and headed back…and this time when were walking in I said to jeff, we are NOT leaving this hospital again without our baby, and he fully agreed!

This time, they checked my cervix and I was at  4 cm!! I got sent upstairs to a room right away to get my epidural. I knew a couple of nurses in Labor and Delivery and was so embarrassed that I was hysterically crying when I got brought up stairs from the pain and being so nervous and scared that this was actually about to happen. But let me tell you, the second I got the epidural, I felt SOOOO good and all of the pain was completely gone. Also, the epidural didn’t hurt at all..they numb/freeze the area where they give you the shot so you don’t feel it at all. Within 5 minutes,  it was showing on the monitors that I was having contractions but could not feel a single thing.

my friend holding my Starbucks while I feed Ryen

Also, another unbelievable thing-- somehow my doctor was the Dr. on- call from 7pm-7am the next morning….like seriously, how is that possible that I was that lucky?! She told me that I probably wouldn’t get to 10cm until 3 or 4 am (you can’t start pushing until you get to 10cm) so that I should try to take a nap and get some rest. Well,  if you knew my family you would know that wasn’t going to be possible…and that’s why I love them! Everyone kept coming to visit us and see us before I started pushing, bringing us candy and flowers…it was so nice and made both of us feel so good. Finally, I told my parents and everyone to go home, that it was going to be a while and we’d call them when it was time. At this point, I fell asleep for maybe 30 minutes.  I woke up and felt SO much pressure (but not pain) and I told the nurse that it literally felt like my baby was coming out! Seriously, I had to keep checking because it felt like the head was sticking out (it wasn’t).

At midnight they checked and I was 10cm!! My Dr. came in and broke my water bag since it didn’t break itself. At this point she told me not to freak out, but that the NICU team would have to be in there during delivery because the baby had pooped in the womb and when it mixes into the amniotic fluid it can be very dangerous if the baby inhales it and enters the airway when they take their first breath. She assured me that this was very common and happens because of the stress that labor puts on the baby, but of course,  I was freaking out about that. Within 2 minutes, 6 people from the NICU team were down and in the delivery room waiting on the side. I will say, at Northwestern you truly feel like you are in the best hands. They do not mess around, and have every single team ready with the click of a button.

I finally relaxed and couldn’t even believe how calm I was when it was time to start pushing.  Jeff and I were talking to my doctor and the nurses about a show on Netflix, and it was really just so calm and surreal. My Dr.  told Jeff to come hold my leg, and I kept asking him what he could see. Every time the monitors would show I was having a contraction, I’d push as hard as I could for 10 seconds straight. At first,  Jeff said he could see hair, and then during the second round of pushes the entire head was out. At this point I completely forgot that we didn’t even know if it was a girl or a boy. After 15-20 minutes of pushing she said okay one more push and it will be out... I literally thought “Are you kidding me?”  How is that possible…I had prepared for this to be a 3 hour process! I pushed with everything I had, and when I saw Jeff start to tear up and have the biggest smile I've ever seen on his face, I knew that our baby girl had melted his heart for the first of many, many times. Still, when he said IT’S A GIRL!”,  I was so SHOCKED hearing the words that I of course started hysterical crying again! Every single one of my dreams had just come true. The doctor pulled her out and immediately passed her to the NICU team for evaluation. She passed all of the tests (yay!) and they finally place my BABY GIRL on my chest for the first time.  I truly have never felt happiness like that in my entire life. To say it was the best day of my entire life is the biggest understatement in the world.

** That was just so much for you guys to read.  If you have any other questions or things I didn’t answer, please DM them to me and  I'll add them into another post or answer questions on my insta story. Xooox


Final Pregnancy Post (a little late)

photo c/o Blair Stern (http://www.blairsternphotography.com)

* Please note: These questions were asked the week before I went into labor, and I'm answering them after..so hopefully this still makes sense to you all!

The most ASKED question by far:

How much weight did you gain during your pregnancy? I actually weighed myself the day before I went into labor and I had gained 23lbs. However, it felt like a lot more because Memorial Day weekend (that Monday night is when I started going into labor) it was over 95 degrees so my swelling was at an all time high.

What were your biggest complaints during pregnancy?: I had severe sciatic nerve pain in my left leg for the last 2 months of pregnancy; however, the last week or so it was almost unbearable. I would be walking and every couple of minutes I'd get an intense shooting pain down my leg. My leg would give out and I'd be unable to move it until the pain/cramp passed. I had never experienced nerve pain before.  It is completely different than bone or joint pain as it seemed more intense and almost shocking.

Did you do anything during your pregnancy that "broke the rules"?" Oh yeah. I had sushi a lot, but I actually did talk to my doctor about this. I don't eat a lot of meat and sushi is still a great source of protein. She said to just be smart about it-- meaning I shouldn't eat grocery store sushi or leftovers.  If I eat at a nice and trusted place, then my risk of getting a food borne illness is the same as it would be from eating chicken or other common foods that can cause food poisoning. Funny enough, when I was at 14 weeks,  I got food poisoning from PASTEURIZED cottage cheese. It just shows, no matter how careful you are, anything can happen!

I also got highlights, and occasionally ate deli meat. But, other than that, I swear I'm a good mom :) ha ha.

Do you think your having a girl or a boy? I was 100% convinced I was having a boy. In two separate ultrasounds the tech casually said "okay we're just going to flip him to see the other side" or "he's measuring in at 5lbs right now" etc. Although we always said we didn't want to know,  I just assumed that if the slip up had happened twice it had to be a boy. Also, at my doctors office, a nurse will always come and take you back to the room, and I can't even tell you how many times a nurse said "so how's he doing?"  In hindsight, I realized that "he" was obviously a general term they would all use instead of saying "it", but they really threw me off!

To be honest, I've always wanted a daughter.  Since the second I got pregnant I was so convinced by the doctors and everyone else that it was going to be a boy, so I just got on board and was super excited about having a boy! That's why when SHE came out, it was the best and biggest surprise of my entire life. (I'll tell more about this in my Birth Story blog)

Do you believe in any of the gender myths?: The Chinese calendar has been right for almost every single person I know, so I guess have no choice but to kind of believe in that one. (One variation said I was having a girl and one said I was having a boy) Someone also told me that they thought I was having a girl because she was stealing my beauty, and since I definitely didn't feel great about myself when I was pregnant, I could see that one being true. (Ha ha ...but rude!) As for the cravings myths... I don't believe in them because I craved everything...sweet, sour you name it. The heartbeat myth was true for her because her heartbeat was always in the "girl" range. And last, the myth of how you are carrying did hold true because they say low is a boy and high is a girl, and Ryen was pretty high up the entire time besides the last week or so!

What will you miss most about being pregnant?: I literally tell her I want her to crawl back in me! I feel like there are not enough hours in a day with her, so I loved having her inside of me and feeling every kick, hiccup, and movement.

I'm going to be writing my birth story this week, and I will let you guys know when it's posted on the blog! I had such a positive experience that I can't wait to tell you guys all about it, however, I am COMPLETELY aware that things don't always go that way.  I realize how lucky I am, and can't wait to share the story and pictures that were actually taken during labor and right after. I truly consider it the best night of my entire life, and wish I could go back and do it all over again starting POST epidural! ha ha 


Pregnancy Post #2

Is it hard not knowing the gender?

It's so weird...in the beginning I thought about it a lot. I always tried to envision my son or daughter and different activities I would be doing with them, or different conversations I would be having them. However, now as it gets closer and closer to my due date...I literally don't think about whether it's a boy or girl AT ALL. It is the furthest thing from my mind. I am constantly worried about the baby being healthy, having a safe and easy delivery, and all of the really big things. Whether it's a boy or a girl just couldn't matter less to me. My husband...he's a different story. (Just kidding...kind of). My whole life I always pictured having a boy first... maybe that's why in the back of my head I think it's a boy, but other than that I don't have any real reason to think one way or another. 

What weird pregnancy things have you had happen lately?

I will for sure think of more things to add to this question immediately after it’s posted, but there are two things I can think of off the top of my head. I've started getting Braxton Hicks contractions- which really scared the sh** out of me when they first started happening. They still don't know if the first time it happened if it was a Braxton Hicks contraction or just severe round ligament pain, but I was unable to stand up straight because of the pain. It scared me so much that I went to the doctor. Of course they immediately did an ultrasound to check on the baby and checked to make sure my cervix was still closed.

Braxton Hicks contractions aren't real contractions - they are a sudden tightening or hardening feeling in your belly and they can range from uncomfortable to pretty painful. They are known as "practice contractions" that are made to prepare you for the real event.

The other weird thing that I can think of off the top of my head, is I've developed that line down the center of my belly that lots of women get during pregnancy (Linea Nigra). It's still pretty light and only from my belly button down, but I'd imagine its going to get darker as more time goes by. It really doesn't bother me at all, and I've read that it fades pretty quickly after pregnancy. If it doesn't, I wouldn't care! 

Have you chosen a name?

Nope. Every time I get my heart set on a name, I change my mind two weeks later. And then I think to myself...wait you can't do that when the baby actually arrives! Any and all suggestions are very welcome! No seriously...DM me! Here are the things I look for in a name. For a boy- I would love a strong, one syllable name if possible. I would love to think of my future son as being athletic (if he's not, that is fine too!!) so I try to think of names that would sound good in that respect. I also like to think of boy names that would sound good in the business world, which has eliminated some of the  names that I used to love. For a girl- I used to love boy names for girls, but, now that I am pregnant, I picture my future daughter being very feminine. Those names no longer seem as fitting. My mind can, and probably will, change ten more times until my due date, so don't hold me to anything! I would love a sweet, girlie, semi-trendy (but not too trendy) name. AKA not naming her Apple or Orange. SEND ME SOME SUGGESTIONS!! After the baby arrives, I'll tell you guys my list of top contenders that I may or may not use for future kids.

Are you planning on breastfeeding?

Yes, if I'm lucky!!! I've read about all of the benefits for the baby and mom (and losing pregnancy weight quickly because of breastfeeding is just an added bonus).  I know lots of women struggle with breastfeeding, so I would absolutely love to be able to do it. If  it's too hard or my baby isn't getting enough milk because of it, I am not opposed to formula at all.

Will you tell everyone how much weight you gained? 

Yes- in my last pregnancy post (which will be live in a month) I will for sure. While it’s not a secret at all, I just don't love hearing from everyone that I've gained too much or too little. 

How many kids do you plan on having? 

I would LOVE to have 3 kids, but we will see what happens! 

Who are you planning on having in the delivery room?

In the actual delivery room- just my husband. I have so much anxiety as it is, that the less people in there the better.

What's your favorite part of pregnancy?

I never thought I'd say this, but I love being kicked all day long :)  It's the coolest feeling in the entire world!  Sometimes when I'm going about my daily routine, I actually forget that there's a growing human inside of me - and it's the best reminder. My least favorite part (even though none of you asked) is that I officially don't sleep more than 2 hours at a time without having to wake up to pee or to change positions due to being uncomfortable. I can only imagine how much worse this is going to get over the remaining weeks!
Visit my photographers website by clicking here - { http://www.rachelbphotostudio.com/ }


Pregnancy Post #1

family, baby, pregnancy, photography
photography c/o {Rachel B Photo Studio}

 Thanks for sending in your questions in DMs!! Some of the questions were the same so I combined a few of them to make them more broad and general. I'm going to do a lot more posts and updates so comment below or DM me anything you want me to add to the next post. I will obviously never disclose your IG handle or name!

Q: How did you know you were ready?

To be totally honest, I still don't know if I'm fully ready, but I am SO excited to be a mom. I've been pretending to be a mom with my barbies and dolls, and playing house with my little brother since I was 3 years old. I know you can only prepare yourself so much, the rest you learn by experience and taking advice from trusted people. Everyone always says you're never ready until there is a baby in your arms, and I fully get that now.

Q: Did you do anything differently or out of the ordinary before you got pregnant?

The only thing I really did differently was take prenatal vitamins. I took these {Nature Made Prenatal Tablets}. In the beginning of my pregnancy, I was taking a very expensive prescription vitamin (VitaPearl) and my doctor said that those are great but the exact same as the Nature Made Prenatal Vitamins.  She told me to switch and save my money. I also started working out a little more than normal before I got pregnant.   My doctor told me that whatever you do before you get pregnant you can continue to do during your pregnancy.  I was running 2 miles a day before I got pregnant, doing the stair master, and lots of weights...however, when I actually got pregnant, I modified my workout.

Q: Do you eat really healthy?

Honestly no, but this is going to be one of the number one things I try to change ASAP.  So, as weird as it sounds I eat REALLY healthy and REALLY shitty at the same time. I eat all of the healthy foods--fruits, veggies, protein, etc., but I also eat the not so good foods. I never turn down eating pizza, donuts, sweets...I could keep going. I know it's great to treat yourself when you have a craving, but the second half of my pregnancy I am going to try to stick to an 80:20 plan. 80% healthy, 20% give into cravings. An example of one of my cravings is Sprite.  Although I know there's no caffeine in it so its technically safe, it does have a lot of sugar in it.  I am going to try to keep it in the 20% department. I'm also a vegetarian which has been a little bit of a challenge. I have to find other ways to get my protein (such as eggs, cottage cheese, peanut butter, etc.) I still eat fish, and, now that I'm past the half way mark, I occasionally eat Sushi. Before you freak out!!... my doctor told me that as long as I'm not having grocery store sushi and its from a trusted place,  she doesn't have a problem with it. Obviously every doctor is different!

family, baby, pregnancy, photography

Q: Where do you buy maternity clothes?

So I am really struggling with this! I REALLY don't want to buy very many maternity clothes, but I know eventually I will have to, especially for the last couple of months. I've been avoiding buying maternity clothes so badly that I actually cut slits in the top of some of my leggings so that I can continue to wear them. I've bought a FEW maternity jeans and leggings, but when it comes to shirts and sweaters I am going to try to wear my own for as long as possible.

Here's what I have...

{Spanx Maternity leggings} {Koral Activewear maternity leggings}{Rag & Bone Maternity skinny jeans} {Maternity dress}

Q: How did you know you were pregnant?

 My cycles are VERY long (most peoples are 28-30 days).   Mine have been up to 45-50 days, so  I found out way later than most people that I was pregnant. Sorry to be graphic, but my breasts were way larger than normal, and, all of the sudden, I started having food aversions. I remember at the very end of September going to my favorite restaurant in the world, Athenian Room, and not being able to eat my meal...that's when I knew I was probably either dying or pregnant. The other weird symptom I had was that I was constantly SO thirsty. No matter how much water I would drink, I could not quench my thirst.

Q: Did you experience morning sickness?

 I was REALLY nauseous up until 12/13 weeks, and then I literally woke up one morning and was completely fine. I really only got sick one or two times, but felt nauseous all day every day for a couple of months. The only things that would help was gum, sour candy like Preggie Pop Drops, crackers, and Sprite.  You know...all of the really healthy stuff. There was one night in November that I got SO sick that I actually had to go to the hospital for an IV. They still aren't sure if it was food poisoning or the 24 hour stomach flu that was going around at the time, but that was a night I will never forget.

family, baby, pregnancy, photography

Q: How are you going to dress your baby?

I'm not sure yet but it is seriously so fun to look at little boy and little girl clothes. One thing I do know is that I'm not really a collared shirt and pearls kind of girl when it comes to style, but who knows how I'll feel when the baby gets here.

Q: Did you get pregnant on purpose or by accident?

Not that this is a bad question, but I've actually been asked it more times than I would have ever imagined, and it still makes me laugh every time. (I don't know why) I think it's because we've spent our entire lives trying to NOT get pregnant, that it is so normal to think that it would be an accident. I definitely wanted to be a mom and I was not not trying if that makes sense. I had done a pretty good job for 27 years of not getting pregnant, but this baby was not an accident! haha. I am going to do another blog post soon about my experience with getting pregnant.  I had a complication in the beginning of the pregnancy that was very scary and that many people may not know about, so I am happy to talk about it to help anyone else who is going through that now. More to come on that later...

DM me or comment on this post any other questions you have that you want me to answer in the next post! xoxo PS if you missed my baby post from yesterday on my favorite products click {here}
family, baby, pregnancy, photography

family, baby, pregnancy, photography

photography c/o {Rachel B Photo Studio}

design + development by kiki and co.