Putting together Maddox’s nursery was one of our favorite projects leading up to his arrival. Online shopping for the perfect pieces was a welcome distraction during the quarantine and gave Matt and I something to work on together during our many months at home.
A few months ago I shared how we were staying on budget and what we chose to save vs splurge on. You can check that post out here. I got into the specifics around our big pieces of furniture in the room and how we were deciding on what decor details to invest in. I also shared the inspiration behind our safari theme and how we planned to bring it to life.
Now that we have put the finishing touches on the nursery I wanted to pick up where we left off from the last post and share the final product.
With the walls and furniture being gray I used accessories to add some texture and pops of color into the space. For bedding we choose this palm print from Spearmint Love. These added a pop of color and complimented the throw pillow that we designed the room around. For storage we have a variety of woven baskets in different sizes that mix up the color and texture. They are great for keeping toys, blankets, and clothes organized in a stylish way. We received a bunch of adorable blankets and stuffed animals that we incorporated throughout the room between the glider and the crib. Being the Disney lovers we are we made sure to collect all of his Disney toys to be waiting for him right in his crib.
The artwork above the crib was something I went back and forth on whether to save or splurge for. I found these prints on Etsy and the frames on Amazon. I got the artwork printed at Staples and in total the six pieces were completed for under $75. That is a total steal considering some of the artwork we were looking at purchasing originally was $75 each!
Above the dresser/changing station I wanted a brass round mirror to compliment the light fixture we chose. It took forever for this one to come back into stock at Target, but after a few months of stalking the website I found it just in time to get hung before Maddox’s arrival. Target was also my go to for the table lamp. Since it sits under the wall shelves the lamp couldn’t be too tall so I found this mini model for only $15 at Target. It adds another wood element and provides just enough light for nighttime feedings.
The hanging shelves were a bit of a splurge from Crate & Barrel so I made up for the extra cost with some great deals on the decor. Most of the decor is repurposed! The succulents were gifts from my sister and I had them in my dining room before rehoming them to the nursery. The wooden animals were from the dollar section at Target and used as decor for my baby shower. I wasn’t planning on reusing them, but once I brought the home I realized how perfect they would look on these shelves. The palms were from the dollar section at Target as well, but from years ago. I was using them for my summer set up in my dining room, but they were just too perfect not to move into the nursery.
I’m so happy that our safari vision came to life in a way that is cute and comfortable. It was so important to me to have Maddox’s first space be welcoming, playful, and something he can grow with.
This is the post I wish I would have read before coming home from the hospital. I would have Amazon Primed the shit out of every item on this list to be waiting at my doorstep. There are so many recommendations and lists about what you will need once you bring baby home and we tried to make sure we were stocked up with as much as possible. There were a few items that either I thought we didn’t really need or I didn’t know about to know we needed them. I want to share that knowledge with you all incase you want to make sure these are included in your wish list as you prep for baby’s arrival. Of course, each baby and parent is different so all items may not be applicable to your situation, but for us these were game changers. Happy Priming!
Hands Free Pumping Bra
This is a must have for hands free pumping. Hands free pumping is a must.
This seemed excessive until we actually started having to get up in the middle of the night to run bottles up and down from the kitchen. We’re doing a mix of breast feeding, pumping, and formula feeding so having some cold stock always on hand is a game changer.
They gave me one of these to help with breast feeding in the hospital, but it was helpful to have more on hand at home (one for upstairs, one for downstairs, one for the diaper bag). You may not need these for breastfeeding, but I did since we were having some issues with latching so they were great to have on hand.
Extra A+D Ointment
This was a must to have on hand for treating baby’s circumcision once we got home. It was way more convenient to have one near his changing station and one in the diaper bag so we wouldn’t forget it. It also is good for mama if the postpartum pad wearing starts to irritate your skin.
Breastmilk Alcohol Test Strips
Definitely necessary if you want to indulge in adult beverages. Even after one glass of wine this gives me piece of mind that my milk is fine to feed to the little one.
I don’t know why I thought we didn’t need bassinet sheets. I quickly realized they are necessary after little boy peed through the bassinet on night two. We not only ordered sheets, but also waterproof covers to keep things dry.
Starting at probably week 30, Matt started pushing me to back my hospital bag because he was convinced Maddox was going to make an early arrival. Well, he was right, but being prepped at week 30 was a bit aggressive. There are so many blog posts and guides with recommendations on what to pack. Some suggest what feels like you are packing for a week long vacation and others recommend the absolute bare minimum. I came up with my own list based on both sides of the spectrum and for the most part I’m happy with what I ended up packing. Originally I thought I’d do my own post on what to pack in your ‘go bag’, but with the amount of guides already out there I wanted to do something different and focus on the things I DIDN’t pack that I wish I had. My hospital stay was a little different than average so there were some things that could have come in handy if I would have known my stay would be longer and my mobility would be limited. Of course, when you are being admitted you don’t know for certain what your stay is going to look like so I’d recommend just having these things on hand just in case.
Before diving in, I do want to share the bag that I used because I absolutely loved it. This travel bag from Beis was perfect for a lot of reasons. It has separate compartments that helped me organize all off my items and made it easier for Matt to find them when I asked for them. There is a shoe compartment at the bottom too which I loved because it keeps the shoes/slippers you walked around the hospital in separate from all of your other items. The size of the bag was perfect for both my stuff and baby’s stuff and I think it will be a great size for future weekend getaways as well. It is under $100 so in my opinion it is a great steal for the quality.
So, first on my list of items I wish I had are disposable toothbrushes. I packed my toothbrush and toothpaste of course, but when I was bed bound I was not making it to the bathroom to do a proper brush. These would have come in so handy since they are disposable and don’t require any water. I would have done just about anything at a certain point feel freshened up.
After days sitting in bed in the scratchy hospital issued gown, I started to seriously regret not investing in my own. I was on the fence about buying one because I didn’t think I would be wearing it that long and it would have been a waste to spend money for a one time wear. Well, I was wrong and I definitely should have gotten one. I was already super itchy all over from my pregnancy in general and the itchy hospital gown did not help matters. It is crazy how much I would have appreciated the small luxury of having my own.
Lip balm was on my packing list, but somehow I forgot to pack it and that was a big mistake. I felt super dehydrated the whole time I was in the hospital and my lips were cracking like crazy. I had to spend days after I got home slathering on lip masks to help get them feeling back to normal. This would have been avoided by packing an easy to apply lip balm like this one from Drunk Elephant.
As far as products go, these three cover it for me, but I would recommend loading up on snacks. Especially if you have dietary restrictions bringing snacks that you can eat is super important. The hospital will usually provide some, but the options are definitely limited and the comfort of having your own treats you love a feeling you will appreciate once you have been living on hospital food for days.
Mamas, was there anything that you wished you would have packed for your hospital stay? Or what are the things you packed that ended up being totally unnecessary?
If you have been following along on Instagram, you know that Baby P has made his (early) arrival! On September 4th at 6:24pm, we welcomed Maddox James Pickens into the world. We had quite an unexpected course of events through labor and delivery that got our little boy to us. Let me tell you, it was a journey. But we are here and I’m excited to share. We didn’t have a “plan” and I am thankful we didn’t because we would not have been able to follow it at all. I took a class and did research on what delivery would be like and honestly it felt like everything that happened was the opposite of what I researched. Overall, our plan was that we wanted a delivery with a healthy baby and a healthy mommy. That’s all that mattered and we successfully did that.
If you haven’t read my other pregnancy posts, here is some background. I had been struggling health wise during my third trimester after I went off of my Remicade for my Crohn’s Disease. I had a slew of issues from gastrointestinal ones to extreme fatigue to itchy skin all over my body. As I got further into my third trimester I started to feel like my body was just shutting down. It was very hard for me to eat and baby was taking pretty much any nutrients I consumed which left me in a bad spot. My whole outlook was just as long as he is fine, I can make it through. I was approved for an induction at 39 weeks to get baby out and get me back on my Remicade ASAP. My doctor wanted to let him cook as long as possible to make sure his lungs were good and functioning. Baby boy was also measuring pretty big already at my 35 and 36 week sonograms. His head was measuring over 40 weeks in the 98th percentile at my 35 week appointment! This already had us questioning the success of a vaginal delivery, but I was ready to try. I was coming in for OB appointments weekly until my 37 week appointment.
I went in for my regularly scheduled weekly OB appointment during week 37 and was already feeling dizzy, weak and like something just wasn’t right. For a couple days leading up to the appointment, I had felt like my body was just shutting down and I was having bad diarrhea. As I was hooked up to the non stress test, I started to feel a lot worse and when the doctor came to see me, I let her know that something just wasn’t right. I couldn’t put my finger on what exactly, but I know my body and something was off. My OB sent me to the hospital to have me and baby monitored and get some fluids since I was dehydrated from days of diarrhea. Luckily, Matt was able to go with me since there was a good chance I would be getting admitted at least for a bit. We hurried home to grab our bags just in case and headed to the hospital.
Once I was admitted, I spoke with the OB on call and she let me know that they were recommending to start induction. I was 37w3d so technically Maddox was early full term and could be delivered. A couple weeks prior I had blood work done for suspected cholestasis and while my results weren’t conclusive for me having it, my bile levels were off. They were concerned that the condition could progress and could be harmful for baby so between that and my Crohn’s continuing to worsen, they thought it was best for me and baby to deliver sooner rather than later.
I started on a cervix ripening drug every four hours through my first afternoon and night and by Thursday afternoon, we were able to start Pitocin. I went through the night with some contractions, but major pain in my lower back. I wasn’t progressing and we were having issues tracking and identifying my contractions. Eventually, we concluded that I was having back labor due to baby’s position which was not only extremely painful, but very hard to track. I was in a ton of pain, but my contractions weren’t reading on the monitor. At this point, I was extremely exhausted and frustrated. I broke down and sobbed in my hospital bed. I was at a loss for why my body wasn’t doing what it was “supposed to be doing” and I felt like I was failing not being able to birth my son. Matt was so sweet helping me get through the whole thing and he and the nurses reassured me that I was doing great.
By the morning, I had only progressed to 1cm dilated. This wasn’t much, but it was enough to insert a balloon foley to try to encourage further dilation. I was frustrated again with my lack of progress, but very soon after I was distracted by the pain. Almost immediately after the foley was inserted, my pain level skyrocketed. They were still unable to get a read on my contractions, but I could feel them and it was seriously painful. I was really shocked at how quickly they escalated and how painful they got. I like to think I have a pretty high pain tolerance and this was completely unbearable. I got permission for the epidural even though I was only 1cm dilated still. Anesthesia came in to get me set up with the epidural. Matt had to leave the room, but I had my two amazing nurses to help me out. I was nauseous from the pain and shaking, so staying still for the epidural placement was really difficult. They were having issues and kept hitting nerves that hurt the right side of my body so the process took longer than expected. I got really sick and started throwing up as they were finishing up the epidural placement. I couldn’t move so my nurse just had to stand there and catch my vomit. It was miserable. Matt was allowed back in the room and finally, the epidural started to kick in. I spent the rest of the morning into the afternoon pretty comfortable, but still with no progression.
After another day with no progression, I was incredibly frustrated, in pain again and just wanted to figure out how we were going to get this baby out. I asked to talk to my OB around 5pm which I was so happy I did. I was almost in tears begging for a plan. I couldn’t go through another three days of this. She let me know that a c section was definitely an option that I should consider. My body wasn’t responding to the Pitocin, baby was in a weird position and he was already measuring big. She couldn’t technically tell me what to choose to do since the situation wasn’t an emergency, but it was clear the c section seemed like it was best for us. I had time to discuss with Matt. I had the choice to continue trying to push through for vaginal birth, but I was already so exhausted and there was no promise he would even engage and be able to be born vaginally in the end. We walked through any additional potential risks (other than the usual risks associated with a c section) and there was no increased risk for baby so we told my OB we’d move forward. She said to give her a half hour and we could have this baby before shift change. I was shocked at how quickly things went from zero to 100. It seemed like everything else we had to try for 12 hours before any decision was made. All of a sudden everything was a blur of nurses and the anesthesia team prepping me for surgery. Matt had specific instructions on his duties and basically my job was to just lay there and stay calm. When I was prepped and ready, they wheeled me back to the OR where I would get setup before they let Matt in for the procedure. The epidural medication was making me feel really strange and once I was strapped down to the table, I felt like I couldn’t breathe even though everyone assured me that I was breathing. I was so nervous and overwhelmed. Everyone kept trying to calm me down and tell me to just wait to hear my baby cry and focus on that. Matt was brought in and put behind a big blue cloth and the procedure started. I felt pressure which wasn’t painful, but just strange feeling. Everything was fine until they hit what I was told was my bladder flap (?). I started having very intense nerve pain, actual pain not pressure. The pain was horrible and the anesthesia team was injecting me with more medication and using topical numbing spray as well. Nothing was working, but everything had to (painfully) continue. All of a sudden, baby was out, but was having trouble breathing. I didn’t hear him cry which worried me because that was the one thing I was waiting for. Matt cut his umbilical cord and got to see him for just minutes before he was taken away to the NICU. I was panicking so the anesthesia team injected me with anti anxiety medication that really knocked me out so that they could sew me back up.
The next bit of time was a blur until we were back in our room and a doctor came to give us an update on Maddox. He was in the NICU, but fine and breathing. His lungs had some trouble on his way out, but he was sorted out and would just need some monitoring. We were able to visit him after a couple hours, each separately because of Covid, but after about five hours he was brought to Matt and me to stay for good. We were finally all together as a family.
We spent the next two days in the hospital while I recovered and the doctors monitored Maddox. After some pleading, we were able to go home Sunday afternoon instead of waiting until Monday. We were so ready to get out of there after we hit our fifth day.
The scariest moment of my life was when I didn’t hear Maddox cry when he was born. In the moment, I was so focused on figuring out what was happening that the impact didn’t set in. Especially with being in a drug induced blur afterwards, it took me a while to process the whole situation. At first, I pushed it out of my mind because he was fine and we knew we were so lucky. The first few nights I started having flashbacks to that moment and nightmares that would have me waking up in panic. I didn’t realize how deeply that moment affected me. I am still processing it and cry when I tell people the story. I’m just so thankful that he is healthy and here at home with us.
Since we’ve been home I’ve gotten questions about delivery, a few of which I’ve heard several times. I wanted to make sure to address those as part of the birth story as well.
How was delivery different because of Covid?
Delivery wasn’t really different which was great. Matt was able to be there with me the whole time. All of the medical staff had ample PPE and we felt very safe. We had our masks on while traveling through the halls but once we were alone in our room we could take them off. Since I was having diarrhea for days leading up to being admitted they did have me listed as a potential Covid case. I got tested and within two hours got the negative results back. The biggest way that Covid impacted us was not being able to have additional support people come to the hospital. I always thought my mom would be with me when I gave birth so getting over that was hard for me. The c section threw us for a loop because someone had to be up with Maddox 24/7 since he wouldn’t sleep in the hospital crib. Due to the c section I couldn’t get out of bed by myself so I wasn’t able to change his diapers by myself and even positioning to feed him myself was difficult. Matt had to be on call basically the whole time we were in the hospital to help with anything Maddox needed (or I needed!). This meant very little sleep for him and a couple rough days.
How did my Crohn’s affect delivery?
The main issue my Crohn’s caused was actually having to have me induced early. During the induction it was hard to tell the difference between my Crohn’s pain since it was bad when I was admitted and the contractions. I really struggled to articulate the difference to nurses and eventually just started really second guessing what I was feeling. After I gave birth I started feeling better pretty immediately. My appetite was back and I was able to start eating without pain. I was surprised with the immediate relief and I am looking forward to getting back on Remicade to hopefully continue feeling better.
How was Matt?
Matt was amazingly supportive and comforting all through delivery. He made me laugh when I was in pain, rubbed my back, and got me good snacks. It was a long time for us to be in the hospital without help from any other support family members and barely any sleep. I 100% could not have done this physically or emotionally without him and I’m thankful he was there with me every step of the way.
I can’t wait to share more about our lives with Maddox and how parenthood has been for Matt and me. Right now we are overwhelmed with love and emotions. We are taking in every second of our greatest adventure yet. I’m happy I was able to share the details of Maddox’s birth story with you all. I have been very open about everything I have went through during pregnancy so I wanted to be equally as open about this. If you are a mama to be, my advise to you is to not get too stuck on a plan. As long as you and the baby are safe and healthy that is the important thing that matters! If you would have told me two weeks ago that this would be my story I would not have believed you for the sheer fact that I couldn’t even fathom having the strength to push through the ups and downs, long days/nights, and overwhelming emotions. Well, we did it. As a woman and as a mama your body and mind are capable of truly amazing things. You can do it!
Blonde babe. Maryland native. Crohn's crushing puppy mother to two sweet rescues.
Welcome to my unfiltered commentary on crushing chronic illness in your 20's and everything that goes along with that.