What To Expect When You’re Delivering…

Expect the unexpected. As I embark on my last week of maternity leave and reWbirthflect on the last 12 amazing weeks, I started thinking about Westley’s debut and how incredibly different it was from what I imagined.

I didn’t necessarily have a formal birth plan (nothing in writing and I never will after this…), but I always imagined I would give birth naturally (by that I mean no C section, but definitely an epidural) and I would have time to “enjoy” labor and delivery. I had friends who told me about their experience walking around the hospital, spending time with their spouse and then having a pain free delivery. Boy was I in for a surprise. ;-)

First off, W was turned, which I found out during my 38 week OB visit. After weighing our options – schedule a C section or go in for a Version procedure where they physically turn the baby, we decided to try the Version. I really really wanted to experience the birth of my baby.

This procedure is scheduled at the hospital because if there is any stress to the baby or issues, you go straight into a C section for delivery. The chances of the Version working were about 15-20 percent, but I felt in my gut it would work (my mommy instincts already kicking in). We went in at 7am and they do an initial ultra sound just in case the baby turned on its own. Of course, W was still hanging out in the wrong position, so we moved forward. You get a medication that relaxes your uterus and allows the doctor to more easily turn the baby.

Then it was time for the procedure. Our doctor told me it likely would not work, but he would do his very best. It took three turns and it was painful, but we got the baby in the correct position. With every turn, the doctor got more excited because W was actually turning and making progress. I was in pain (NOTHING compared to labor, now I know…), but I was so encouraged it was worth it. When the baby was successfully turned, the doctor, my husband and me were literally high five-ing each other. Such an awesome feeling to know I would hopefully be able to deliver my son naturally.

So know comes the fun part. About a week or so later, we arrive at the hospital at 4 in the morning because my contractions were bad. Little did I know W would be born in 1 hour and 37 minutes. Crazy fast is an understatement. It was so fast there was no time to prep or even take it in. I went from Triage where my water broke (which is a crazy, gushing feeling) to the L&D room, which wasn’t even ready yet to pushing through 5 major contractions to baby’s arrival.

The worst part was realizing when the anesthesiologist finally made her way to me, that I was way too far (9.5 cm dilated) and unable to even sit up to get the epidural. That was scary. At that moment I knew this baby was coming and there going to be nothing to mask the pain. At that point, once you know, you basically succumb to the pain and let it go. I screamed through it — like I’ve never screamed before. It was all I could do to deal with the contractions, which were 1 minute apart. Unfortunately the “who who hee” breathing you hear about did not work for me. I was SCREAMING. It got me through it and made me feel as good as I could possibly feel under the circumstances.

Thank God for my sweet, sweet husband who although he was scared, since the doctor was nowhere to be found, the room wasn’t ready and there was only one nurse doing it all, he stayed calm and held my hand and my leg while I screamed like a mad woman and pushed as hard as was humanly possible. He pretty much helped deliver the baby and definitely was there for it all. There was no time to cover anything up or hide behind it — he had a front row seat to the delivery (crime scene) and saw it all.

It was the craziest, fastest most brutal and beautiful thing ever. But it is ALL worth it when you see and hear your baby for the first time. It truly is a miracle when it’s all said and done. Unfortunately, due to meconium, W had to be taken to the NICU immediately (I did get to hold him for a few minutes), but luckily he was good. After six hours, they brought him to our room and he has been with us every minute of every day ever since.

So for all you preggo ladies eagerly awaiting delivery, know that things will likely not happen as planned (but isn’t that life), but they will happen as they should. It may be super fast like me or take hours and hour or days like others…but what we all have in common at the end of it all is the immense love you have for that sweet little baby. And so the journey begins…

I would love to hear from other mamas about their own labor and delivery story and any advice for those preparing for the delivery of their lives!

XoXo,

Ivette

Top 5 “Go To” Baby Gear for New Moms

Before I became a mom, I would roam the aisles at Target or Babies R Us to buy baby shower gifts for friends and to say I was overwhelmed and confused by all the “baby gear” is an understatement. Even when I was pregnant and put my own registry together, I was clueless. One of my good friends spent a few hours with me on a Saturday going through all the categories and helping me select all the items we would need for baby.

Although there are certain things we haven’t used, it is incredible, but true — babies require a ton of stuff, namely hundreds of diapers and wipes and so much clothing since they will pee, poo and puke all over them countless times a day. Do yourself a favor and buy a big bottle of Dreft baby detergent, you’ll be putting that to good use. ;-)

Now that I’ve been putting all the “baby stuff” to good use with my own son, I thought it beneficial to share my top 5 baby items. Some of these were on my registry and some we discovered post baby.

1. The Boppy – Weird name, yes. Indispensable baby product, absolutely. When I was first gifted the Boppy (the original and the newborn lounger), I was unsure what all the fuss was about. They may look like very simple pillows, but these things are LIFE CHANGING. The nursing pillow is everything – it props up the baby and makes it more comfy for you to nurse. Even as I’ve transitioned to bottle feeding, I still use the Boppy to hold W up. This also allows you to feed the baby more conveniently and still have one hand left for multi-tasking. The Boppy is also a great tool when visitors want to hold your baby. It makes it easy and comfy for them and the baby. Win win. You can also purchase additional slip covers for the Boppy, so inevitably when a spit up disaster occurs, you can wash one cover and always have a clean one handy.

The Boppy newborn lounger is also a must. This is a large, angled pillow where baby can lounge. This lounger is portable, comes in a nice neutral pattern and makes W super happy. He naps on it, lounges and even plays. We take it from the bed to the couch and everywhere around the house. The best part is it transitions and can be used as baby grows. If they sold this in adult size, my husband and I would purchase some. They are that comfy! If you haven’t been gifted the amazing Boppy pillow and newborn lounger, do yourself a favor and order them asap before your baby’s arrival. You will not be disappointed.

2. The Nose Frida - Leave it to the Swedes to invent an ingenious and simple tool that makes snot a non issue. The Nose Frida aka Snotsucker (by their own description) is a magical tool for parents. Trust me, never would I have imagined adding a snotsucker to my list of must haves (oy vey), but this tool is amazing. Those bulb syringes you’ll get at the hospital and in the baby grooming kits are a joke. They suck nothing out and leave your kid congested. The Nose Frida is amazing, but be prepared to put in the work. You must use the tube and physically suck the snot out. There is a filter and you’ll never ingest snot, but if you’re a germaphobe or not into your kid’s snot, hopefully your partner is braver. I for one do not mind using it, but my hubby not so much. If you’re apprehensive, just think your baby will likely be happier and sleep better if he can breath, so suck it up…literally!

3. Halo Sleep Sack – So I have to admit our swaddle skills were less than perfect using a regular swaddle blanket and it didn’t help that W absolutely HATED being swaddled with his arms secure. Then we discovered the Halo Sleep Sack (gifted to us by our hospital’s Sweet Pea baby club) and it made putting him to sleep exponentially easier. My favorite part about this sleep sack is that you can swaddle your baby with his hands in or out, depending on preference. Also it is brain dead — you don’t have to have “mad swaddle skills” to get it right. You simply place your baby in the sack, zip him up and wrap him. Done and done.

4. Fisher-Price Deluxe Auto Rock ‘n Play Sleeper – This newborn sleeper was literally a life saver. For a couple of weeks, W would not sleep on his back in the bassinet, so I came across this product via a mommy Facebook group. This newborn sleeper keeps babies secure and at an incline, so a lot of parents use it if their baby has acid reflux too. It is automated (pay the extra $15 for this feature, it is worth it!) and has two rocking settings – 30 minutes for a nap or 6 hours. It also plays music. Now that W has been sleeping in his bassinet, we use this rock n play during the day!

5. Sleep N Play Outfits – No doubt you will receive so many beautiful outfits for your baby, but as you will discover, especially the first few weeks, it isn’t necessarily about cute clothes, but rather practical ones. At night when your baby is waking up every few hours and you’re changing diapers and feeding and delirious…you want a sleep outfit that is easy to maneuver when you can’t see straight. The sleep n play outfits (these are Gerber, but there are a ton of different brands available) are a God send at 3AM. They zip up, instead of button and the zipper is on the foot, so you only have to unzip it enough to change a diaper and then you’re done. This keeps the baby asleep and you avoid the insanity that are the tiny little buttons on baby clothing. W lived in these outfits for the first 4 weeks and now as we start daycare they will continue to be a staple.

Obviously there are hundreds of different products, tastes and preferences, but these are five products that have made being new parents easier. I would love to hear from other mamas out there about their “go to” products.

XoXo,

Ivette

It’s All Relative

I had a wonderful lunch with one of my favorite co-workers/friends who unfortunately works remotely, so we don’t spend as much time together as I’d like. I will say when we do get to hang out, it is always refreshing and inspiring. This was her first time meeting baby W, so we obviously talked about my favorite topic du jour – motherhood.

We covered all the basics: How was labor & delivery (straight out of CSI), how is being a mom (I’ve taken to it surprisingly well…you never know…), does he sleep (I am the luckiest mom ever – W sleeps like a dream), breastfeeding vs. formula (4 weeks au naturel and then we went the formula route – sleeping improved greatly), do you shower (yes every day, just roll him into the bathroom in his bassinet), yoga pants vs. real clothes (I’m still me, so I dress up, wear make up and do my hair).

And after all the basics we got down to the heart of it. Maybe I’m just incredibly lucky or maybe there is something to how you approach life. What you put out into the universe, is projected back. I’ve always tried to be relaxed about life, minimize the drama and anxiety. When I planned our wedding, my goal was to be the “Anti Bridezilla.” I ate at my wedding, drank, danced and made it to the photo booth more than once. During my pregnancy, I tried to keep it “business as usual.” I traveled and took my baby bump from NY Fashion Week to the NYC Wine and Food Fest to countless meetings and presentations and my brain and creativity still functioned. I may have moved a bit slower and weighed A LOT more, but at the end of the day, I was still me.

So now that I am responsible for a tiny human, I am trying to instill that same drama free and calm existence to my baby and his upbringing. I know we have no control over what kind of baby we get (colic, sleepless nights, fussiness), but I do believe that what we project and the attitude we take makes a difference. I have tried to stay calm, even when I’m not sure how to approach the situation. I talk to W like he understands me and have introduced him to our way of life. He naps and sleeps in a bustling house with the tv on and the dishwasher and washer going. We take him out to dinner with us and surround him with the people we love. He has joined our family, not taken us hostage. I want my son to grow up knowing that each of his parents is a whole person with a lot of layers. We are people and we’re also his parent.

Is it scary being a new mom and responsible for a life? YES! When you leave the hospital there is no manual. You spend two days surrounded by nurses and help and then you and your husband place this tiny baby in a carrier and drive home. The rest is up to you…and that is scary. But like everything else, you figure it out. Every day you get better and more confident — the diapers aren’t as daunting, you start interpreting each cry and their subtleties and then around 2 months you see a real, genuine smile and that is everything. I know this is only the beginning, but a great one it’s been so far.

This life-long parenthood journey is equally exciting as it is terrifying, but as in all things in life, I’m approaching it with a cool, calm and collected attitude, even if half the time I’m “faking it, til I make it.” ;-)

XoXo,

Ivette

Getting Back In Shape…One Step At A Time

Pregnancy does a number on your body, but all it takes is one look at the end result (your bundle of joy) and all is forgiven. So now begins my fitness journey back to what is hopefully a better body. I know it will be a better body than before because it gave birth to my sweet baby boy. If you can go through labor sans epidural (not by choice), you can do anything. ;-)

I can’t really complain, I feel like nature has been pretty good to me so far. Granted, I’ll definitely be in a one piece this summer, but overall it could have been much worse. Biggest change is I am wider than I used to be, so some of my clothing is a bit snug. According to my OB, it takes about 9 months for your body to feel back to normal, even if you fit into your clothes right away. Even at 10 weeks out, I am feeling more like myself. No one tells you about “the aftermath of after birth” — the crime scene your baby leaves behind. For the first six weeks you don’t feel like yourself — too many things happening , too many products needed during each bathroom trip that usually takes 10-15 minutes of work. But miraculously, it all starts to feel more normal and not exactly as it used to be (that won’t ever be the case), but a new version of you.

So now begins the journey of getting my fitness on. I’ve gone on a few runs, done a few work outs and I have a lot of work to do. But the important part is I am doing the work and eventually I’ll get there. It is unrealistic to imagine that what celebs showcase — a perfect body 2 months post baby is real. Perhaps that reality exists when you can afford a full time trainer, chef and baby nurse, but in the real world, it may very well take me the next year to get back to me, but I will put in the work and whatever the outcome, one look at Westley and it’s worth all the trouble.

Wish me luck!

XoXo,

Ivette

Making the Most of Maternity Leave

WBeach

With 3 weeks left of my maternity leave, I’m taking in every moment and enjoying this precious time with my baby boy who is almost 10 weeks (YIKES…they really do grow up so fast). He will never ever again be this small and I will never have this much time to spend with him.

In the spirit of living in the present and making the most of every day, we ventured to the beach today for a mini Spring Break as the older kids are currently on break from school. My dear friend Jill invited us out to a beach house and after sunscreen, baby sunglasses, rash guard and hat, W was ready to hit the beach. (My half Cuban son definitely DOES NOT take after his mommy…he is 100% pale…) It was a ton of fun he won’t remember and I’ll never forget. ;-)

Lucky to live in Florida and enjoy this fabulous weather. Cheers to many more beach trips. Next time with daddy and our sweet Boston Terrier, Lucille Ball.

For next few weeks, I am trying to plan a daily activity from lunch with friends to walks in the park before it’s back to the grind. My goal is to be described as one of my friends’ described another woman today during our waterside chat — “She is a bad ass. A career woman who has her shit together and really balances work and family.” Here’s hoping that I come close to being described that way moving forward. It’s gonna be quite the ride…

XoXo,

Ivette

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Back In The Saddle…For Now

No promises, but we’ll see how long I can keep up my blog after a few years of silence. Last time I posted I was planning a wedding…WOW how things have changed. Since then I got married and started a new pr job at Zimmerman (both July 2011), moved to South Florida for my hubby’s Radiation Therapy specialty (kept my job at Z), got pregnant, moved back, got promoted to VP of PR, had a baby and am currently on maternity leave, returning to work in April. Phew that about covers the last 3+ years.

So not really sure what this blog will transform into…may be a combo of pr, mommy, life posts and who knows how long I’ll keep it up this time, but I’m giving it a go. These days I spend my time hanging with my little one, a bouncing baby boy who gets cuter every day. Motherhood has agreed with me. To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I’m really enjoying being a mommy. In April I will tackle “having it all” by going back to work and making the most of Mommy Me, Wife Me and Work Me. Should be interesting and I’ll try to chronicle my adventure on this blog. If only as a way to look back months or years from now to see how I juggled it all. ;-)

This blog will also serve as a place for me to leave some Words of Wisdom for Westley…

XoXo,

Ivette

The art of customer service: dead or in hiding?

First, my apologies for being MIA for so many months. Between work, wedding planning, the Junior League and being President of the FPRA Capital Chapter, I rarely have time to even think about blogging, let alone actually type a post! Hopefully in mid-August, I will be back on track – posting weekly. I should be refreshed from our Alaskan honeymoon and ready to attack the fall.

However, given all my craziness, I still wanted to take the time to write about the importance and art of customer service. This stems from an awful brunch experience Sunday at a Tallahassee restaurant. It was my second time there. I gave the place the benefit of the doubt, but unfortunately I once again left underwhelmed and disappointed.

I’ve never worked in hospitality, so I can’t imagine what it’s like to deal with customers all day, with their diet requests and personalities. However, the concept of being nice and welcoming is not alien to me as I work in PR and deal with clients, media and people all day! I know we all have bad days, people who drive us nuts and times where we are just over it, but unfortunately if you work with people, you must suck it up and be kind. After all, they’re probably not the problem…you’re just projecting.

Case in point, yesterday at brunch I arrived with two other girlfriends and our three little dogs. We sat outside at the restaurant and I went inside to alert someone that we were seated outside – I even offered to bring the menus out myself. After a few minutes, we were “greeted” by an unpleasant server. No hello, how are you or even a smile. She was annoyed that we were there and more so when we asked if we could get some fresh water for the pups. We brushed it off and tried to stay positive…it was our Sunday Funday after all.

We order our brunch items: waffles, huevos rancheros and a Cuban sandwich. Then we wait…and wait…and wait. We have to suggest to our server, who continues ignoring us, that perhaps it would be a good idea to leave a pitcher of water for us since she’s busy inside with her other tables — namely an “8 top.” Meanwhile other tables that had arrived after us were receiving their food and their servers were checking in on them. Hmmm…finally after what felt like hours our food arrives and it’s kinda cold and okay. Nothing to write home about. Our server comes by to check on us and asks how it is…we all say the same thing: “It’s okay. Thank you.” That was not the adjective she was looking for. We told her it was good, not great and that we were a bit disappointed to have waited an hour for the food. She got super upset with us and stormed off. She comes back and declares: “I have clarified with the kitchen and you did not wait an hour, it was 42 minutes.”

Well then, alright. Excuse us, it was nearly 45 minutes then. At this point, our brunch is officially ruined. We speak to a manager who makes excuses about being busy, etc. He offers nothing in return, not even a sincere apology. So, as we paid for our checks and left, we decided they would be less busy now since they’ve lost three customers and their potential business.

The sad part is customer service seems to be a dying art. More and more, I’m experiencing these less than pleasant encounters at restaurants, in stores, and over the phone. I’m not sure why, but it seems everyone is upset, tired, overworked, uninterested or simply rude. I’m not asking for a cheerleader every time or for my food to come out in five minutes. I’m pretty patient, but I do think that if you work with people (and most of us do to some degree), it helps if you start with a smile and try your best to be nice and pleasant.