You can never be fully prepared with things you need when you bring baby home from the hospital. First off, you are bound to forget something because frankly there are SO many items on a ‘must haves’ list it’s hard to keep track. Second, every baby is different and what your friend’s baby loved yours might not. I definitely felt myself getting overwhelmed with things I should have on hand and as I frantically placed Amazon Prime orders I realized I wasn’t even sure what half of these things were for. We generously received a ton of items from our registry and even though I registered for them I still didn’t know what half of them were actually for.
Fast forward to coming home with Maddox and we quickly identified items that we actually would be lost without. Obviously you need basics like diapers and a place for your baby to sleep, but these are little convenient items that have made things go a little smoother over the past two months. I don’t want to overwhelm you with another ‘must haves’ list that isn’t super helpful so I’m keeping it really straight forward and sharing:
Our Most Used Registry Item
The Owlet Sock is something I knew I wanted from the beginning. Any device that can help give me piece of mind that Maddox is safe and healthy is a must have in my book. It tracks his sleep, heart rate, and oxygen levels and alerts us if they drop below a certain level. This has made me feel so much more relaxed while he gets some shut eye and immensely decreased my anxiety.
Two Items We Didn't Register For, But Use All The Time
The Baby Shusher is one of our biggest game changers for bedtime. It does exactly what it says. It makes a shushing noise to lull your baby to sleep. It’s perfect to have near the bassinet since we don’t have his full sound machine set up on our room and we can bring it downstairs into his pack and play for naps. It works super well for Maddox and helps to calm him pretty immediately.
Dr. Brown's Bottles
Dr. Brown's bottles were gifted to us and I was excited because yeah we needed bottles but I didn’t realize how essential these would be. They control the air and milk flow in a way that helps to prevent gas. They are so easy to clean as well and we’ve had minimal leakage issues with them. A few weeks in I ordered more so we’d have extras on hand so I wouldn’t be washing them 24/7.
Items We Went Running Out To Get
We got Wubbanubs as gifts before Maddox was born, but little did we know they would become his favorite thing ever. We immediately had to stock up on some extras of his favorite animals so we had backups in case one was being washed or got lost.
am all about anything that makes cleaning easier and these wipes are a god send for when you need to clean a paci or a bottle nipple quickly. I always have these on hand in case Maddox’s Wubbanub takes a tumble, that way after about a minute once it’s dry he can just pop it right back in.
Extra Burp Cloths
I’ve learned that you can never have enough burp cloths. I originally tried to make do with a limited supply, but that was pointless. We were using them at every feeding and in between and it felt like every time I actually needed one there wasn’t one in reach. Now we have them all over the house and have enough to rotate since they are constantly getting dirty.
Halo Sleep Sacks
Halo Sleep Sacks have been a lifesaver for getting our little dude to sleep. He hates being swaddled at first but also will only sleep when he is swaddled (weird) so having a sleep sack helps to secure him in a swaddle he can’t break out of. We have three of these in rotation so we aren’t having to wash them constantly and we can rotate them out if they get spit up or pee on them overnight, both are common occurrences here.
The first time Maddox had gas it was what I would imagine would happen if a demon was possessing his body. He was pissed off and needed relief fast. We tried some other tricks, but ultimately ended up racing to Target to grab a Windi. This is something I would 100% recommend having on hand because you don’t know you’re going to need it until you’re really in the thick of things. Plus, it works!
Hopefully with these items on your radar you can register for them or purchase them in enough time so you won’t be scrambling once your little one gets here. Honestly, some of these products I didn’t even know existed until I had an urgent need for them or they were thankfully gifted to me. Of course not every baby is the same so I’m here just sharing my personal experience that may or may not work for you. Feel free to drop your suggestions on those hero baby products below!
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!
I want to share my experience, not to provide a solution, but to provide an honest perspective that maybe you can resonate with. For years I have been interested in the correlation of digestive diseases and eating disorders, specifically the lack of dual diagnosis holistic treatment options. Throwing pregnancy into the mix is a whole new game that has me digging even deeper based on my personal experience. How do we deal with the mind fuck of weight gain and body changes while in recovery from an eating disorder? On top of that, how do we manage dietary restrictions or triggers from a digestive disease in addition to the restrictions and symptoms already brought on by pregnancy? Again on top of that, how do we deal with the emotional triggers that are drudged up by these changes and the added pressure of supporting a new human life? There are a lot of questions I want to explore, but right now what I have is my story and how I have navigated it thus far.
A struggle for me in my pregnancy has been eating, specifically what to eat and how to eat enough. My background doesn’t provide the best foundation for a great relationship with food in general, but because of that I’ve worked my butt off to get to a good spot. For those who haven’t read my other posts,I struggled with an eating disorder and then on top of that my Crohn’s diagnosis fueled additional struggles and triggers. I remember in eating disorder treatment, being there with other women who were struggling with how their bodies changed during or after pregnancy. When I thought of having kids, I always braced myself for this new reality.
When I figured out I was pregnant, all of my healthcare professionals who knew my background immediately began asking me how I felt about the weight gain and my body changing. It was so early on I really didn’t have any issues, plus, I hadn’t gained any weight.
During my first trimester my digestive system was a complete wreck. I had nausea that would never go away. I would try to force myself to eat and just ended up gagging instead, unable to get anything down. My new growing baby was messing with my intestines which brought on some new Crohn’s symptoms. Things were a mess, but it was trimester one so I figured it was par for the course.
At my 12 week appointment, my OB brought up that I had lost a significant amount of weight. I was pretty caught off guard by this since I try to refrain from weighing myself at home, as that is a trigger for me. I also didn’t understand how I had lost so much weight when the only things I could stomach when feeling up to it were gluten free cupcakes and Lucky Charms. We talked about it, but it wasn’t a huge concern yet since I was hopefully going to graduate out of the nausea soon. As I left the office I remember feeling a pang of guilt because was actually proud to have someone concerned about my weight loss. That brought me back to the time when that kind of feedback fueled me. I didn’t necessarily feel guilty for having this thought. They happen and you live with them and move on. I felt guilty because I wasn’t trying to lose weight. I was doing everything in my power to give my baby all of the necessary nutrients to grow. I felt like I was failing and having these thoughts made it worse.
My doctor seemed pretty confident that my body would sort itself out over the next few weeks so I tried to push the worry from my mind. The main struggle I was having was the food that I was craving, I know I couldn’t have because they would trigger my Crohn’s. Things like donuts, waffles, and sandwiches are always a no go for me because of the gluten (yes you can get them GF but no where near the same). I worked to find gluten free options but a lot of those are heavily processed though so that brought in more concerns of messing with my digestive system. I also felt shame for relying on processed foods since I was supposed to be giving my baby the best nutrients. I felt like no matter what I did, I was doing something wrong. Everyday I woke up in a stress fog of what the fuck do I eat today… what the fuck CAN I eat today. I also was balancing the regular pregnancy restrictions on top of those to save my digestive system. For example, I was disgusted by meat and could only stomach seafood, but I had to limit how much seafood I ate. I was seriously struggling to get enough protein.
During this time when I was going through my food crisis, we were also going through a global pandemic. Over these weeks I just mentioned, I also had to relocate from my house, live apart from my husband, and wasn’t able to go out in public to grocery shop for myself. This added a whole new layer onto the problem. I know this part of the situation is not relevant for everyone, but I felt it worth mentioning because it had a big impact on my life at the time. I was out of my routine, I was stressed, and I was just trying to get by. This triggered some increased Crohn’s symptoms to even further complicate things.
When I saw my doctor again, she brought up the lack of weight gain and actually more weight loss. I walked her through my struggles and she basically told me to just eat whatever I can. The baby will be fine if its McDonalds fries or a vegan smoothie bowl. He just needs to get fed. This made me feel better about what to eat, but didn’t change the fact that I rarely felt like eating. (Quick side note here: my doctor did prescribe me anti nausea medication, but it made me so drowsy I could only take it in the evenings. I would pass out immediately so while it is great for sleep, I can’t eat while I am sleeping.) Another issue I had was my natural reaction to not eat when I was having Crohn’s symptoms. Over the past however many years, it is like I have been conditioned to avoid that pain. My stomach hurts, naturally I stop wanting to eat to avoid the pain. In those situations I revert back to liquid or soft diets until my inflammation improves. I knew my child would not be okay if I spent the next 6 months eating chicken broth and popsicles. I mean I would not even be okay if I had to do that. The discomfort I was feeling also just caused me to not feel hungry almost ever. I never thought I would be this person, but I had to remind myself to eat. I think this was escalated by me working from home and being in an environment where there was no designated lunch hour where everyone is grabbing something to eat together. I could work through the day and not even think about lunch.
I worked with my doctor to come up with a solution of supplementing my diet with Ensure shakes. These were easy for me to get down and digest, plus they would help with my protein intake. Now I want to pause here for a second. I know there are people reading this that will be mentally shaming me for not choosing a natural option or not creating a protein smoothie for myself at home, blah blah blah. Look, this is what worked for me and my life so that is that. These have been a lifesaver for me throughout this pregnancy. Of course, I don’t just drink Ensure, but knowing I have that as a safety blanket has allowed me to relax and listen to my body more on what it actually wants. It is pretty funny to me that I have seen Ensure as such a helpful tool. When I was in eating disorder treatment it was the bane of my existence. I would (not electively) drink four of these a day on top of my meals to get back to a healthy weight. I swore I would never touch them again after treatment, but now look, they are helping fuel my pregnant body and help my baby grow. Oh how the tables have turned.
My nausea and discomfort subsided a bit for the latter part of my second trimester and a quick bit of my third, but are now back in full force. I also am feeling the effects of being off of Remicade this trimester so that has added some more turbulence to the situation. I am struggling to identify which symptoms are a result of pregnancy or a result of Crohn's. Right now the cause isn't necessarily my worry, it is how I am going to make this work for the rest of the pregnancy. I have gained weight which my doctor was pleased with and it really hasn’t bothered me as much as I was worried it might. I haven’t gained a ton of weight, but enough to be on track. I am told I should feel “lucky” that this is the case. Yeah, I guess I feel lucky, but I also feel ashamed that this has been and continues to be such an uphill battle. I can’t help but wonder, how would I feel if this wasn’t the case and I did have a normal weight gain during this pregnancy? Would things feel easier or would other feelings be triggered?
To be really honest, I have had countless breakdowns crying on my sofa frustrated about food over the past 8 months. I’m in pain, but I need to eat, but I don’t want to eat and everything I actually might want will make me sick so then I’ll feel worse, but then baby needs nutrients but if I’m sick that hurts him too so what the fuck do I even do. There have been lots of tears and lots of my sweet husband showing up with ice cream, one of the only things I can almost always stomach. He doesn’t understand necessarily what I am going through, but he makes the effort to help in any way he can which is more than enough for me.
It is difficult to unpack all of the emotions that are a part of this journey. I reflect daily on how I am doing and have an honest check in with myself to make sure I am not drudging up old patterns of thinking. It’s hard, but I am confident in the work I have done and the strength that I have. This situation has forced me to revisit painful thoughts and walk through guilt and shame and I’ve decided that is okay. Pregnancy is not a mutually exclusive event and we are still handling other things, physically and emotionally as we go through it. At the end of the day, I think we need more answers on how to support pregnant women in these situations but I don’t know if those solutions are coming anytime soon. This highlights even more the importance of taking care of your own mental health as you prepare for and go through pregnancy. Find others who are going through the same thing, see a therapist, rely on your support system; do whatever you have to do, feel what you have to feel, and most importantly know that it is okay.
f you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, please check out the NEDA website for details on resources and treatment options.
In May, right after my last Remicade treatment, I shared a post with an update on my experience with having Crohn’s and being pregnant. In that post I opened up a ton about this journey and ended it with a kind of “to be continued...” especially around what my treatment would look like through the rest of my pregnancy. Since then I have received a lot of questions around what my next steps were and how things have been going since that update. So here we go....
I made the decision to discontinue Remicade for the third trimester of my pregnancy. I was back and forth about this decision for months prior to making it. I got medical input from my gastroenterologist, my OB, my high risk OB, and my genetic counselor. On top of that I also did my own research and had conversations with Matt. What it really came down to is what felt right for us. As so many things with pregnancy, I feel like this is the case.
What really surprised me was the lack of certainty any of my doctors had around the decision. They presented me with facts, some more thoroughly than others, but the decision was always up to me. I appreciate that freedom, but in this situation I really craved a professional just to tell me the right thing to do. I know there are conflicting views, which I feel like I’ve heard all of from different members of my care team, but I wanted more guidance. Especially with hearing how conflicting these opinions were, I quickly realized the lack of consistency across my care team and the reality that Matt and I would have to make the final decision.
Let me backtrack a little and say, I know you always have a choice if you take a prescribed medication or go through with a specific treatment. Usually it is a lot more cut and dry though and there is a specific recommendation from your doctor based on plenty of research and experience. With Crohn’s and other autoimmune diseases it never feels as certain, and this is even more true in pregnancy. These diseases are still so misunderstood as is their effect on the body. This makes treating these diseases a challenge and even more so when you are concerned about the health of a baby.
Originally part of the reason I started on Remicade was because it has been on the market the longest and had the most studies proving that it was safe for pregnancy. This was very reassuring and I felt pretty confident about the safety of the drug. Then when Covid came into the picture things kind of hit the fan. One of the concerns of Remicade is that the effects on the baby aren’t totally known as they pass through the placenta in the third trimester. One of the risks I heard the most was that the baby could be born immunosuppressed and it could take him a while to build up his immunity after getting the Remicade out of his system. In normal times this didn’t seem so bad. It’s not like I was going to be out and about with my newborn all the time and of course I would take appropriate precautions as I do for myself. Well, once an international pandemic is running rampant, the thought of bringing my child into the world with the potential of a weakened immune system was something I could not get behind.
I continued to gather information but the situation with Covid really pushed Matt and I in the direction to stop Remicade after my last infusion at around 21 weeks. There was talk about trying to fit one more at the very beginning of the third trimester but I decided against it. I was concerned that if the baby came early that would cause an issue and I didn’t even want that to be and additional worry we had.
Originally my OB’s were pushing me to stay on Remicade throughout the whole pregnancy because if my health was bad it would impact the baby’s health. Luckily throughout the pregnancy so far my blood work has been better than it’s ever been and my symptoms have been manageable. When I knew stopping Remicade was a very real possibility, one of my gastro’s started me on Apriso (oral pills) that are safe for pregnancy and would hopefully help to soften the blow of going cold turkey off of Remicade treatments.
As I said before, I had my last treatment between 21-22 weeks and would have been due for my next treatment last Friday if I were to continue. Over the past two weeks or so, I have noticed an increase in symptoms but nothing alarming or that would be risking for baby. I’m monitoring my body closely and my OB’s are monitoring me and baby very closely, so I feel comfortable moving forward. I’m trying to make sure I keep symptom triggering things at bay, like stress, and I am being very intentional about listening to what my body (and baby) need food and sleep wise.
Overall, what I’ve realized is that pregnancy with Crohn’s requires a lot of research and following your gut (no pun intended) just like having Crohn’s without being pregnant. There really are no cut and dry answers and opinions between professionals are often very conflicting. Having the uncertainty of an unprecedented global pandemic thrown in really shakes that up as well. We had to make the decision that felt right for the baby based on the current situation. The uncertainty of if I have made the “right” decision weighs on me very hard, but I try to remind myself I am doing the best I can and that’s all I can do.
Looking at this outside of just my personal experience, I think this brings up some gaps in the healthcare system as well as reiterates the additional emotional stress those impacted by Crohn’s and other autoimmune diseases have to endure. As far as the healthcare system, let me say that I truly love my providers and trust them so much. I don’t think the uncertainty is a reflection of them, I think the issue is the underlying lack of cohesive care that could be provided through increased communication among providers. I’ve experienced this before where Crohn’s impacts so many systems in your body, you are seeing multiple doctors, but there is no consistent communication between the providers. I don’t want an OBGYN who is an expert is gastrointestinal diseases, I want one who is an expert and delivering my baby of course! That is why there are doctors specializing in different areas, but that doesn’t do us any good if there is a lack of communication between a patient’s care team. Again, I don’t think this is the fault of my providers, I think it is an issue deep rooted in our medical system. All of the uncertainty puts more pressure and responsibility on the patient to do their own research, be the liaison between doctors, and ultimately make the final decision on treatments based on often conflicting advice.
Pregnancy with Crohn’s has been quite and adventure and one I am still going through! I feel like I say this all the time, but I truly am so thankful to have this platform to share my experiences. Throughout pregnancy I’ve leaned on online resources and communities, just as I did after my Crohn’s diagnosis. I believe there is a lack of resources about such a niche topic, but a topic that still impacts so many. Hopefully getting my experiences and opinions out there will help another Crohn’s mama who is looking for support.
Recently on Instagram I shared the progress we have made on decorating Baby P’s nursery. In my “Pregnancy” highlight I got into the details on my inspiration for the nursery design along with how we are keeping it budget friendly. Over the past few months I’ve done a lot of research on where we can get the most bang for our buck and quality for our little one.
I wanted to put together some links on where I have found some of our favorite budget friendly items that are still high quality and chic.
Crib + Mattress
After shopping around we decided to go with the Delta Children Essex 4-in-1 convertible crib. We decided on Delta because the brand go great reviews and most of the styles are under $200. They have a variety of different styles so you can pick the perfect model to match your vibe. After research we went with this mattress from Target as well. We went middle of the line with the mattress, some of them can get really pricey which I didn’t think was necessary.
Target has plenty of ways in which you can save. If you have the RedCard you automatically get 5% off and free shipping. They also run a variety of different sales. We got ours when they had a deal for a $40 rebate and 20% off of a crib mattress. The delivery was quick and the set up was easy.
For rugs, RugsUSA is always my go to. I love their moroccan styles and the low price point (they are pretty much always having a sale). We have gotten multiple rugs for our house from RugsUSA and they never disappoint.
We went for this moroccan style one for the nursery. It has a durable weave and is perfect to add some texture and pattern to the room. It even has a little metallic flare woven in.
Lighting was an area where I went back and forth on. I originally wanted to go with a brass floor lamp. The more I looked into it, I decided that a floor lamp was not the best option safety wise. Our nursery doesn’t have a ceiling light already so we are insisting the help of my father in law to install one. That is only one part of the challenge. The other part was finding a light that fit the small space. There is an abundance of adorable chandelier style lighting for nurseries, but finding a flush mount for our small space that was our style was more difficult.
We found the best options from Wayfair and Shades of Light. We ended up going with a white and brass dome light. We also didn’t want to spend a fortune. I would have invested more for a statement chandelier but for a standard flush mount I knew we could find something more cost effective but not blah.
My in laws wanted to gift us our glider which was so amazing and generous of them. I did a ton of research to find one that was comfortable and would fit our small space. I ended up deciding on the Olive Glider from Davinci Baby. After getting it delivered and trying it out I stand strong with my decision. It is incredible comfortable and the back is high enough that I will have full support during long nights of nursing. It is pretty compact but somehow feels like you are sitting in a huge comfy chair. I also love the modern look. The Davinci Baby chairs consistently were rated well and actually were not at the top of the price point scale. I made sure to do my due diligence before deciding on one so that not only could we have a quality piece but I also wasn’t asking my in laws for a huge investment. Since this was a generous gift we were lucky enough to not have to make the investment ourselves but if you are able to do so I highly recommend this one. The more I sit in it to break it in, I realize that is basically going to be my bed for the first part of my baby’s life, so it had better be comfy!
Other Cost Saving Tips
My stepmom is amazing at refinishing furniture so we took advantage of her skills and turning an old dresser into a dresser/changing table to match the crib. If you can find a way to repurpose or paint existing pieces that can be a big cost saver.
We looked throughout our house/decor storage to see what we could repurpose. Since the vibe of the nursery matches well with our whole house vibe, the decor is pretty consistent. I have been able to swap some accessories in other rooms to repurpose decorations and pillows that will look perfect with the nursery.
Where We Splurged
Two things I knew we needed to have from the minute i started designing the nursery was the In the Wild Barefoot Dreams Baby Blanket and this pillow from Clairebella Studio. I explain it on Instagram but I basically designed the whole room around this pillow so it was a much needed splurge. It was around $50 but great quality and brings the room together. The Barefoot dreams blanket isn’t just an aesthetic thing even though it goes great with my jungle vibe. I have a barefoot dreams blanket myself and my life has never been the same. I know it sounds dramatic but I am in love with this blanket. I sleep with it in bed every night and it makes me feel so cozy. I thought about my baby being out of his warm habitat and into the world for the first time and wanted to make sure he had the ultimate cozy blanket to keep him feeling safe and snuggled.
More to Come
We have the essentials down and most of the accessories I have already picked out and am just waiting for a deal. I always really love Target for lamps and mirrors. Amazon had also been one of my go to’s. For items that don’t have to be super high quality and are just used for show, I’ve been getting ideas from Pottery Barn or Crate & Barrel then searching for dupes on Amazon. They have a lot of textured hampers, chic hangers, and little accessories to add some extra depth to the room.
As we continue to add to the nursery I will provide updates, along with any sales I see that are too good to miss. I’ve enjoyed this process so much, not just because I love putting rooms together. I have been so passionate about creating this first space that my baby will get to know in this world. I want him to feel safe and secure while also making it full of cool things for all of his senses to explore. This is truly my favorite project yet.
For those who want to see my original idea, this is my vision board below. I provide more details around the backstory on Instagram.
These past two and a half months have been a total cluster of chaos for me, just as they have for pretty much everyone else as we try to navigate our new normal amid Covid. Since my husband was working on the Covid unit, I had to relocate so that me and Baby P would be distanced from the potential of getting the virus from his exposure. Being immunosuppressed and being pregnant have made it even more important to quarantine. Even as the world eases back into normal, Matt and I started with baby steps and finally after six weeks apart were able to move back in together last week. There is still a long road to true normalcy, but being back with my husband and pups under one roof is all I can ask for.
It had been a really rough six weeks that we were apart. We Facetimed and talked all day. We knew this is a sacrifice we had to make for my health and for Matt to be able to keep helping our community the way he did. That was all fine. What really had gotten to me is the fact that he was missing out on our pregnancy. He wasn't there to watch my tummy grow or feel the kicks of his son as he got stronger each week. He wasn't here to talk to him or play him music. It broke my heart that he was missing out on these moments with his first born baby and selfishly I wished he was there to share it with me too. I spent countless nights crying myself to sleep over our situation. I know that we could have it way worse, I am totally, completely, 100% aware of that and I am thankful for what we have. But that doesn't change the fact that I mourned this time we missed as a family. Now that we are back together we are catching up on all of those things we missed. He tries to feel the baby kick everyday and has been taking in all of the little moments. This health crisis is so up and down, we aren't sure if there could be another spike that would force us apart again, so we are appreciating each day.
Of course there are other things that won't be "normal" about this pregnancy during Covid. Doctors visits alone, no traditional baby shower, less time with extended family to share this experience with. This list will continue to grow I'm sure, but the biggest hit to my heart will always be Matt missing out on these moments. Even now that we are reunited, he still asks hopefully before every doctor's appointment if he can come. As a healthcare professional he knows fully well that the answer is no, but it is sweet he still has a glimmer of hope.
As a natural planner and control freak, I was STRUGGLING with the uncertainty of when we would be back together, when I would be back home, and just the chaos of bouncing from living situation to living situation.... all while pregnant. Now that I am back home, my mind has filled with other anxious thoughts... What if we are separated again? What if one of us gets sick? What if the baby gets sick? The way I dealt with this was by taking the time to acknowledge what has changed and what we will "lose" because of this situation, but then moving past it. How I have been moving past it, is by focusing on all of the GREAT things about being pregnant at this time.
I wanted to share these with you all to hopefully provide a positive perspective when so much of what we are seeing day to day is quite the opposite. No matter your situation, I challenge you to come up with your positives for where you are in life right now.
More "me" time and time to appreciate baby
Since I have been quarantined, I have had a lot more "me" time. A lot more quiet time, nights alone in bed, time to think, time to reflect. This has actually been a welcome shift from the constant stimulation my life usually throws at me. During these times, I have been able to really be present with myself and my pregnancy. I am able to actually take time to appreciate every little movement my baby makes and every change that is happening to my body. I am also able to be more present in my faith and reflect on how lucky I am to have a healthy baby who is growing his way into this world. I've had time to appreciate what a gift and responsibility this is, and make sure I am feeling confident
More time with close family
One perks of having to bounce from living situation to living situation was getting to spend more quality time with the family members I was staying with. Especially being pregnant, it was nice to have them there to get to see and experience it with me. Usually this would have been an experience mostly shared with my husband but instead I've gotten to share the anticipation and exciting little moments with my parents as well. I am thankful for this time where they got to be with me while their grand baby was growing!
Comfort and ease of working from home
Not being able to leave my house has allowed me to work in sweatpants from the comfiest seat in my house for almost my entire pregnancy so far. I am able to sit in weird positions to save my aching back without coworkers looking at me like I'm nuts. I am able to let my pregnant belly hang out of my too small t-shirts because I just didn't feel like buying maternity ones. I am able to stop and meditate for 10 minutes when I am feeling too overwhelmed. I am in the most comfortable work environment possible for being pregnant.
Less pressure from the outside world
This has been a big one for me. I was insecure about my body changing (I've actually ended up loving it so far, but that wasn't necessarily going to be the case). Instead of having to be on display with my changing body and hormonal acne, I get to grow and change in privacy. Of course, I like to share things via social media/ the blog and there will be posts about all of that in the future, but that is my choice to share. I am free from unsolicited daily judgements in my own home. This doesn't just go for physical appearance. By being pretty isolated, I have also avoided unsolicited pregnancy judgements. Things like... You're really eating that? Do you think thats good for the baby? Oh well when I was pregnant.... I am in a safe environment with those closest to me who love and support me. This has lowered my stress a ton.
Something to look forward to in all of this craziness
I saved the best for last. Despite the world breaking down around us and all of the negativity circulating, we have the most positive thing happening in our lives. We have a new life we get to bring into this world in a few short months and a new little human we can't wait to get to know. As my due date inches closer, I feel like everyday is Christmas Eve and I'm anticipating the best thing right around the corner. Which we are! This has given me a lot of focus, hope, and purpose during this time. I have been able to stay strong because I am staying strong for my baby. I have been able to keep pushing forward even when I want to break down, because I know we are getting the greatest blessing.
I wanted to post a quick follow up to my Sephora Sale Pregnancy Must Haves that went live yesterday. I got a few questions about how to sift through all of the recommendations and decide on just a few products that you can order so you don't break the bank.
I put together a few suggestions that will give you some great products while sticking to a reasonable budget. One of the things I love about Sephora are their mini sizes which allow you to try new products before investing in the full size versions.
The Acne Trifecta
When hormonal acne hits, this trio has been what has worked for me. In my original post the spot treatment I recommend is the Belli Acne Control Spot Treatment which is pregnancy approved. This is what I am currently using but I have used the Umbrian Clay Mask by Fresh as my go to spot treatment before I was pregnant. I actually ran out and figured out I was pregnant before I had a chance to restock so I went with a new one from a pregnancy brand. After doing some more research, I believe the mask from Fresh should also be pregnancy approved (still double check for yourself, I'm not a doctor!). If you aren't pregnant, no worries then and you should be adding this amazing gem to your cart right now. You can also get The Deep Cleanse from Tatcha and the ACV Peel that I recommend in mini sizes to try out. You can get all three for under $50 during the sale!
Best Bang for Your Buck
For under $100, you can revamp your whole skincare routine with The Littles set from Drunk Elephant. This set contains 8 products from the line that are total game changers. It contains the Marula Oil, Protini Cream, and Umbra Sheer Physical Sunscreen ,all three of which are on my master list for pregnancy. According to Drunk Elephant's website, all of the other products are pregnancy safe but I have been shying away from the Glycolic Night Cream due to the salicylic acid. You can always save that for after your little bebe is born or if you aren't pregnant than you don't have to worry!
Top 3 For Glowing Skin
You can get these three items (all on my favorites list) for just a little over $100. These are the perfect combination of products to achieve glowy skin and if you were going to only invest in three basic products, these are what I would recommend. The duo from Drunk Elephant gives you their bar cleanser and exfoliant (both of which I love). These you can start with in the mini size since a little really does go a long way. The Water Cream from Tatcha I would go big on from the start. You will be lathering this everywhere morning and night. Last is the Healthy Glow Tinted Moisturizer from Charlotte Tilbury which I have been living in instead of foundation during quarantine.
This post was super quick and I just wanted to get it out there to answer some questions! If you have any other questions I didn't answer or additional suggestions, just drop me a message!
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.