Dear Leo - 5 months!

Dear little Leona Rose, 

Hello my beautiful daughter. I have thought about writing to you for a while now I just haven't known where to start.

When it comes to the topic of parenting and being your mom there is so much I want to document and in so many different ways. I want to share my experiences and my journey as a mother but I am also terrified because your opinion of me is the most important one and one day you will read these posts. 

I have found so much joy in journalling, I just choose to do it on a blog rather than on a journal page. I go through my blog often and I am always so glad I have it documented, I dig having it public because sharing and connecting has the opportunity to help and inspire others. Vulnerable authenticity is so rare these days but it is also so refreshing. So I choose to put myself out there. 

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I want to always be truthful with you, I am not perfect. I make mistakes and I have moments I am not proud of. In my blog posts focused on parenting, you will see these mistakes and have a diary of them written out. I think the journey of accepting imperfection is a beautiful one and I think lots of moms experience the pressure and the guilt of not being perfect.

I'll be honest, starting a series focused on parenting scares the shit out of me because its one of those subjects im not experienced in. As a blogger I am a reference and like they always say "blog about what you know". Well I know parenting is hard and I don't think anyone ever feels like they are doing it "right". So this is new territory for me and its scary, but that vulnerable authenticity is what I am all about so im going for it. I hope you are cool with that and I hope one day you dig these posts and maybe they can be a resource for you when you become a mom. 

The pressure of perfection is a tough one ESPECIALLY when done publicly. I watched both my parents struggle with perfection. My mom and dad definitely felt the pressure to be a perfect example with the perfect family. When life didn't go as planned it was devastating to all of us and our family still struggles to this day 10 years later. Imperfection is part of life and its ok to be imperfect. I want you to know that and I hope maybe my example takes the pressure off of a very perfectly pressured world. Social media adds a level of perfection and I hope times adjust a little by the time you get a cellphone. I have accepted that I am going to make mistakes, I have made peace with this because I don't want the fear of imperfection to hold me back. I can promise you that I will do my best and I will always stay committed to learning and working towards being better. Thats the example I want for you. 

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So what are these posts going to be about? YOU, me, dad, our family, parenting, etc...! So what have you been up to?

You are 5 & 1/2 months old! Your first tooth just emerged a few days ago. Dad felt it when you bit him haha!

You chew on your tongue and kick your right leg like you are always jamming to music in your head just chillin'. Its hilarious!

When you see us you smile, when you see you, you giggle. You love my phone and you are obsessed with Snapchat. 

Sometimes you make karate noises, you are very vocal! I think you will be a chatty catty like both your mom and dad. You love to talk, we make up stories and just chat with you about random things.

Your laugh is my favorite, sometimes you'll just burst out laughing out of nowhere. I wonder what you are laughing at or what you are thinking about. You squeak when you laugh and its the cutest and when its too much you smile and turn away like you just cant handle it anymore. Its adorable! 

You kick when you get excited and you get super squirmy. You will make all these coughy giggle noises over and over again while you rock your body and wiggle your legs. 

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You love food and have taken baby food like a champion! So far you have eaten apples, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, prunes, pears, pumpkin, carrots, oatmeal, bananas, peas, and some meat. Carrots and apples are your favorite and you absolutely despise meat. It does smell like tuna so I don't blame you!

You growl while we feed you. If we don't move fast enough you get impatient. You are a bit of a chunker and typically eat 4-6 oz of formula every 4 hours with about a jar and a half of baby food a day. At night time you eat 8 oz and you are sleeping about 10 hours!!! Thank you! 

You are about the easiest most relaxed baby I have ever seen. You are so peaceful that overly crowded or super loud environments bother you. You are a sensitive soul, a sweet little gal who connects well with others. You will smile at people one on one but if 3 or more people come over to chat with you, you get fussy. Everyone at work loves you because you are obviously the cutest baby ever but also because we both work there and we met at work. People call you the CompHealth baby! 

You LOVE to snuggle! Dad and I love this about you. You sleep in the bed with us (probably more than the average baby) and you will wiggle your way into our armpit to snuggle up close. Everyone says we need to transition you to your crib and although I agree and I ask dad to be consistent in putting you in your crib, we give in almost every night. On really tired nights we take turns sleeping with you while the other goes out on the couch or creates a bed in the living room out of pillows. You love our tempurpedic mattress and quickly fall asleep when you are in it. We create a wall of pillows around you in our king size bed and you have it all to yourself while mom and dad eat pineapple in the kitchen, ice cream cookies, and joke about parenting. Sometimes we have to put a pillow up against you so you think you are snuggling. You are absolutely adorable I love how much you love, love. 

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You can sit up on your own now, sometimes you are a little wobbly but you're getting it. You are strong! Sometimes when we burp you, you push back and you get this super strength out of nowhere in your little legs! I like to sing "God Bless America" to you but just the part where the lyric says "and I proudly stand up, next to you" and you stand and start laughing so hard. You LOVE when dad makes you "fly away" and you drool all over him when you get in the air. 

You are obsessed with Moana, you and dad watch it every day at some point. This was the second movie you ever watched, he has had it on in the background from day one (the first was Lord of the Rings and we watched it in the hospital when you were born). We sing songs and change the name Moana to Leona. You love it! I go to bed singing "You're Welcome" stuck in my head and wake up singing "Shiny". It will randomly be in my head while at work and I miss you.

When I pick you up from Brandis house I cant wait to see you, when we make eye contact you smile and start kicking your legs. We'll hang out for a bit and talk with Brandi about life, family, what you are up to in Daycare, etc...When Sierra cries you just stare at her and Bexley is always trying to steal your binky. 

You love to be outside! We take you for walks all the time, i'll wrap you in the moby wrap or we'll push you in the stroller and we'll walk around the apartment complex looking at the ducks and flowers. Sitting in the grass is so much fun, you like to wiggle your toes and pull at the grass. The wind fascinates you and when we sit on the deck your eyes get big and you look around like you cant get enough of it! 

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You have this hilarious serious face we all call "The Mason Face" and then you go to an instant smile when we start laughing. Its funny because you have so much of both of us that you go from Serious Mason to smiling like your mama. You are such a perfect combo of both your dad and I. We really make a cute mix! Your eyebrow expression cracks me up, you make so many faces!! 

When we leave to go anywhere I ask you "are we going somewhere" and you kick, laugh, and try to wiggle out of your carseat. 

Our drive to and from daycare has become pretty fun. Mama listens to podcasts and sometimes we get Starbucks. You like to make random noises and i'll do them back to you like were just having casual conversation in baby talk. I cant wait until you start talking but I also wish you could stay at this stage in your life longer. Time moves too fast. 

When I hold you on my chest and you snuggle on my shoulder my heart stings a little. I know there will be a day when you don't do that anymore and it brings me to tears just thinking about it. 

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I want you to always know how much you mean to me. You are so special to both of us, we love you so much and I just cant believe that I get the joy and honor of being your mom. I am sorry you had to wait so long for us to get together, mom had to sort out her shit and dad had to mature a little. 

When Mace and I met we instantly connected, our friendship was so natural and we both felt like we had done a few rounds of life together. It was pretty incredible in the beginning. 

We had two weeks of heaven with each other when we first started dating. I'll never forget those two weeks with your dad, thats when I fell in love with him. More on that later!

Mason is the most incredible dad, you adore him and both of your eyes light up when you see each other. He calls you Muffin and has since you were born. The little kids in our family think your name is actually muffin...The love he has for you is so fun to witness. You deserve that, a fathers love is so unique and honestly its pretty rare these days. You will have better than both of us did growing up and I am grateful for that everyday. We both make mistakes and have petty fights but we both are committed to giving you the best life and your dad expresses all the time how dedicated he is to making every day great for you. Seeing you happy is what makes him happy. That makes me happy.

I'll write more later, you are growing so fast and changing every day! I'll have more soon I promise. 

Much love my sweet sweet girl! Thank you for everything that you give us, being your mom is an incredible gift and I can't thank you enough.  

-Mama Rose

NATURAL LABOR & DELIVERY STORY + MEET MY BABY

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And just like that I am a mom! Our little love Leona Rose was born April 5th at 9:24 pm after mama embraced 53 hours of ALL NATURAL child birth. 

Baby making is officially the hardest thing I have ever done in my entire life. 

Having had hyperemesis during my pregnancy along side the general discomfort from just being pregnant was a nightmare but I survived. During this time I learned the art of surrendering and how to give in to discomfort daily with as much grace as possible. I believe pregnancy is the prep work and every day is practice. The suffering I learned with hyperemisis worked in my favor when it came to child birth - by my third trimester I had become a pro at being uncomfortable.

Although discomfort was familiar, there is nothing that can totally prepare you for child birth (other than child birth). Contractions during active labor are insane, pushing is the craziest feeling in the world and crowning is just pure torture. Doing it all unmedicated, totally natural, and openly subjecting yourself to feeling every sensation is insane and really there are no words to perfectly describe it but I am proud to do it all for her. 

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Women are absolutely amazing and I have so much respect for us gal pals and what we are capable of. I am incredibly proud to be a women and incredibly proud of myself. The amount of discomfort we go through emotionally, mentally, and physically is unreal and something you have to go through yourself to even begin to understand.

As happy as I am that I was able to go natural there was a point in my pregnancy that Leo was breeched and we were looking at a planned C Section. Having been committed to an all natural birth for years and not knowing anything about a C Section I did LOTS of research. It was during this time that I realized how much judgement and pressure there is on women to do all of it a certain way. The judgement and pressure many moms face on their journey to motherhood bothers me and too often women are pressured to do things in an unauthentic way. Women should be empowered and confident in their intuition more than ever during this special time.

There are so many people who have an opinion on the way they did it vs the way others did, this is true for pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, and parenting. It bothers me because as new moms we are already overwhelmed balancing it all and judging ourselves on doing a "good enough" job while our bodies are going through intense change. There needs to be more compassion and love. 

I believe that YOUR experience is YOUR experience. This is my experience, my story and ultimately what worked best for me and my family. I dont believe that I am better than anyone or that I love my child more because I subjected myself to mass amounts of pain going natural. I also dont think you are better than me or that you love your child more because you are breastfeeding and I am not. We are all just doing the best we can. 

So with all of that said meet my gorgeous daughter Leona. 

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She is absolute perfection and worth every ache and pain! She looks so much like her daddy I love it. She is 6 weeks old now and I have finally just adjusted to the newborn phase in the last week or so. Weeks 1-4 were hard, sleep deprivation is a beast and funny enough when I hit the end of my rope with a mental break down she started sleeping through the night. Postpartum hormones are unfair and the baby blues were something I was not prepared for. More on all that later. 

To get to the good stuff and the reason you are here...Two weeks before babe was born something changed. I wasn't sleeping great because my body just ached and things felt different. I would wake up every night with contractions not knowing what was going on because I obviously have never done this before. Every ache and pain was new to me and brought lots of stress and worry with it.

I did lots of research on what to expect when I was in labor so I would feel "prepared". Frustratingly everyone just defaulted to the "you'll just know intuitively know" response which I found really annoying. Because of the lack of info I kept track of EVERYTHING I was feeling weeks before she was born so I could share my story with all of you hopefully providing the kind of insight I was looking for. Funny enough in the end I didn't confidently know I was in labor until I went to my 39 week midwife appointment.

Weeks leading up to the big event I was having random bursts of contractions, really painful naval pain and sharp shooting cervical pain that would make me jump. She was moving around way more than ever and would shift to the right side before every contraction. My body just felt different, I was extra fatigued and extra hormonal. 

On 3/31 I woke up in the middle of the night to the WORST cervical pinch. It felt like I was being ripped in half starting from that part of my body sending tingly shooting pains down my legs and back. The pain was bad enough I had doubtful thoughts about my pain tolerance which stressed me out. 

The pain was getting gradually worse every day and getting to work was hard. I decided to take my maternity leave come Monday 4/3 (which is funny enough when I went into labor). Aside from my very long prodromal labor the timing actually worked beautifully. 

On 4/3 I woke up from a crazy dream about babies being delivered via assembly line. My friend was with me and she was first in line to "pop" out her baby. She got up on a scale, they injected something into her arm and her baby literally just popped out. Behind the counter they weighed her baby, gave her baby a hospital bracelet and moved on to the next person within minutes. My friend was upset because she felt robbed of the whole experience. I argued with the front desk about how this was not an ok experience and demanded to see a manager. I argued telling everyone that we both wanted different and they needed to fix the whole experience. 

When I woke up from the bizarre dream I had lost my mucus plug! 

My doula came over around 10:30 that morning to do some spinning babies exercises. We were worried about babes positioning because she was previously breeched like I mentioned and she was moving to the right before every contraction. 

My mom and I met Mason at my 39 week appointment which I ironically moved from Tuesday to Monday because of the way things were moving along. I was 4 & 1/2 cm dilated 80% effaced and that she could be here any minute. They said if I wanted to have my membranes stripped I could probably have her that night. Membrane stripping was not an induction method I was cool with so we passed on that and headed home. 

Between 4:00-9:00 pm I was having regular 10 min apart contractions. Contractions frustratingly stayed that way until Tuesday night when they dropped to 3-5 min apart and the midwifes suggested I come into the hospital. 

At the hospital the contractions slowed down and things continued to be stagnant. I was exhausted functioning on very little sleep and we talked about my options. They said they could break my water and most likely things would get moving, but if things didn't get moving intervention would be necessary because my water would be broken. My other option was to head back home and try and get some sleep. They suggested that if I was strongly committed to my all natural birth plan that sleep is what I needed and they suggested some Morphine to help me sleep through the contractions. 

After going back and forth with my birth team and having a few moments to myself to think about the pros and cons, I decided to head home with a little Morphine. This was easily the worst part of my labor and delivery because I couldn't think, I was incredibly uncomfortable, and all natural was my game plan. Morphine went again my wishes but I also NEEDED sleep if I wanted to continue with my plan. Trying to make a game changing decision with my mind and body in their current state was shitty. 

The Morphine was awful, I felt flighty and floaty with no stability. I woke up for every 4-5 min apart contraction crying and totally dazed. Mason held me and did his best to help me relax while he tracked my contractions. I don't remember a whole bunch because of how loopy I was, it just felt like I was in a never ending foggy tunnel of pain that I had no control over. Not being able to feel the surface and bunker down through each contraction made it torture. 

After a few hours the Morphine thankfully wore off, I had managed to get about an hour of sleep which helped but I was still exhausted and pretty uncomfortable. I moved to the bath and did my best to relax and breathe through it all. Raquel came over that morning and we did what we could to get labor moving forward and out of the stagnant never ending circle we seemed to be in. We went for walks, labored in different positions at home, applied clary sage and when I could we slept. Raquel stayed at my house during this whole time while Mace and I both napped. Through each contraction when I would wake up Raquel was right by my side. 

When contractions thankfully moved to 2 minutes apart and were incredibly regular active labor began and the dialogue totally changed. At this point I was so over labor and wanted relief bad. 

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We head to the hospital around 4:00 pm on Wednesday April 5th.

They heat up the hospital tub and do all the necessary checking, I am now 7 cm dilated and 90% effaced. 

At 8:00 pm I am 8cm dilated, 90% effaced, and I've got a bulging bag of waters. At 8:55 pm my water breaks which is totally crazy and insanely powerful. Mace feels it pop while his hands are on my tummy, we are both surprised and laughing by how nutso it all felt. 

The midwife asks if I can feel her head, I reach down and say it just feels like a wall. She checks and sure enough its babes little head! At 9:13 pm I am out of the tub, on the hospital bed on all fours breathing, pushing, moaning, and crying her out. My adorable Aries sun/Leo moon is born at 9:24 pm and she is pure perfection.

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Pushing is what surprised me the most. When that transition phase hit I just had to be there, my body took care of the rest. It was all painful but your mind keeps you pretty out of it to cope. The oxytocin your body creates was amazing and felt totally awesome, its the perfect combination of a grounding high and a floating high both beautifully balanced and dancing around every sensation in your body. You combine that with all of the love in the room and the power behind what all just happened and it is the most incredible feeling in the world. 

Meeting my daughter and having Mace by my side was my highlight. He held me through every step of labor encouraging me, loving me, and keeping me positive. I will forever remember and be grateful for how hands on and supportive he was. I feel like we together delivered our baby, I could not have done that without him. 

My doula Raquel was so great and I am so glad I hired her. Having a doula was a complete game changer and made natural child birth way less intimidating. She taught me so much about the whole process that when the day finally arrived I had no fear (which I was worried about). I felt prepared, knowledgable, and confident. She was my birth expert coaching me through every step of the way. She made the contractions easier talking me through each one and applying the perfect counter pressure relieving so much pain. She gave me back massages, kept me positive, gave suggestions and options, kept me moving and eating. She kept me aligned with my intentions and wishes reminding me of all that was important. I loved knowing she was in my corner rooting for me, praying for me, and worrying about all the things I couldn't focus on. 

If you are looking for an incredible doula, check out Raquel >> HERE << and >> HERE <<

The Midwifes at IHC are incredible, with how long my labor was I saw three different midwifes and a handful of nurses. Everyone was so supportive, hands off, loving, and caring. They gave me lots of love, options and time - all of which are so important in the heat of labor. There was no pressure and my birth plan was totally respected. The hospital care was on point and I felt very well taken care. The midwife Jen that delivered Leona was amazing, we couldn't have asked for someone better and I am so grateful for the grace, strength, and comfort she gave during labor. MaryKay was another one that made a big impact, she was there during the difficult decisions and went above and beyond calling me at 6 am to check in with me.

My birth team was so great and I couldn't ask for a better group of amazing people. 

I am so happy with her birth, labor and delivery, and the decision to go natural. There are endless benefits to both you and your baby and if I could go back I wouldn't change a thing. I believe every women should explore going all natural. It was easily the hardest thing I have ever done and the absolute worst pain I have ever been in but it was amazing and I am really proud of myself.

It did take me a few weeks to get to the point where I could say that though and watch the video feeling good about it. Watching the delivery video made me want to vomit up until about a week ago. I was reminded of the amount of pain and stagnant suffering that happened every time I thought about it, talked about it, or watched the video and it was all too fresh in my mind. Coming home was weird because certain spaces in my home felt triggering and the energy was a bit off. It was all just intense and completely out of this world. I do think its absolutely amazing women get the opportunity to bring life into the world but the amount of energy is just insane. With the baby blues and hormonal changes it did take time to heal not only physically from birth but mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.   

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I thankfully did not tear and my recovery was incredibly fast (a great reason to go natural) which I am so happy about because I am able to focus more on her. The newborn phase is hard! After Mace went back to work I had a few mental breakdowns while my body adjusted hormone wise, I worked through the difficulty of the baby blues and breastfeeding, and rocked it on about 2 hours of sleep each night. 

Its been hard juggling, adjusting, and balancing it all while sacrificing my time with Mace for sleep but the last few weeks have been so much better and totally amazing with her sleeping about 6 hours through the night. She's also becoming very animated and alert which is so much fun and just melts your heart. She smiles so much which makes my soul light up. She makes lots of little squeaks and noises all through the night and the funniest coos that we love. Her eyes are captivating and her smile is contagious, she gets cuter and cuter every day and we are both totally in love. 

Mason is so adorable with her and I love watching him be the cutest dad ever. They both have the biggest smiles when they look at each other and it feels so rewarding to be apart of those moments knowing this is my family. 

Not only was he absolutely impressive during labor and delivery but he has been so supportive during the hormonal chaos ive been going through. He is always open to chat encouraging me to talk about how I am feeling and whats going on. He is so aware and in tune with me, always knowing where I am at and if something is off. 

We have grown so close after bringing our little love into the world and I feel more connected to him than ever which just feels like magic. 

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I could go on forever chatting about this subject. Be sure to check out the video for more > HERE

Much love! 

-Magnolia Rose