It’s been quite the year. The last blog post I wrote was on my own birthday back in March. I’ve had so many ideas and things I’ve wanted to write about since then and now that my book is off to the publisher for editing (more about that soon!) it seems fitting that my first catch up post should be about Sage’s birthday…Read More
If you’ve ever been curious about what life looks like for a work-from-home mom of an 8 month old baby, this post is for you! This is my first time writing a post like this (it was suggested when I surveyed readers via Instagram about topics they’d like to read about in the new year) and I’m already looking forward to reading it in a few years. With small business and motherhood, everything changes so fast…Read More
To share or not share? That’s the question. I’m a blogger with a child, but I think almost every parent can relate in a world that is increasingly operating online. Thinking about how to be intentional with the way I choose to share and what my boundaries are is something I’ve dedicated a lot of time and mental energy towards, starting even before our daughter was born…Read More
This Christmas was special because it was Sage’s first. I’m sharing my first (and only) Christmas blog post today and it’s New Years Eve! While it’s a bit late to share any inspiration for this year, I still wanted to document what this Christmas looked like for our family, from simple decorating to establishing some new traditions…Read More
Putting together a baby registry is hard work! There are way too many options and gadgets out there and it's hard to know what your baby will like and what you will actually use. I know so many friends and readers that are about to have babies, so I wanted to share my favorite products that I'm using with Sage everyday. This isn't a comprehensive list of what to put on your registry, more just a round up of my most-used items at this stage. Since I've been at this motherhood thing for all of 3 months, consider this "part one". If you guys are interested, I can share updates around 6 months and 1 year because heaven knows, what a baby needs and wants changes so much in the first year!
1. Wrap Style Carrier - Anthony and I both LOVE this thing! We also have an Ergo baby and a Moby wrap (both I found secondhand for a steal!) but this is CuddleBug Wrap Carrier is the one we reach for the most. The fabric is strong but stretchy which makes it a lot easier to get Sage in and out of. There are some good tutorials on YouTube if you are mystified on how these things work like I was. After watching a video and practicing tying it twice, I was a pro!
2. Pacifiers and Pacifier Clips - We introduced pacifiers around 3-4 weeks and Sage took the Natursutten the best. I like that it's made from natural rubber and has a large shield that touches her nose and chin to mimic the feeling of breastfeeding. I recently ordered a patPAT because it has a similar one piece design and love the idea of a pacifier and teether in one. Plus, Lindsey (the owner/inventor of Ryan & Rose) just rocks at Instagram stories. We were gifted a pacifier clip at our baby shower and I think these are the best invention ever. The pacifier clip also prevents her pacifier from falling on the floor and getting dirty and or lost. Sage mostly uses a pacifier for naps and at bedtime but it's so handy to just clip it to her outfit so I don't have to go looking for it when we need it!
3. Portable Changing Station - My cousin's wife has a SkipHop Portable Changing Station for her son, and I knew I wanted to add one to our registry! In addition to being a changing pad, it has pockets for diapers and wipes and folds up nicely so it's easy to carry or throw into the diaper bag.
4. Baby Swing - We have the Graco Simple Sway Baby Swing and Sage loves it! She takes her morning nap in it everyday. The seat can be taken off for it to be a standalone bouncy chair as well. It takes up a good bit of room, but it's definitely something we'll save for future babies once she outgrows it!
5. Sleep Sacks - The hospital was out of sleep sacks somehow during our stay so we used a swaddle blanket, but since we've been home we've put Sage in a sleep sack every night before bed. They are safer for babies than a loose blanket and there are options with a swaddle wrap and without. We used a newborn size swaddle style one for the first few weeks and now we have a few different 0-6 month sleep sacks we cycle through. I love the Blue Daisy pattern of this one!
6. Promptly Journal - This was a gift from my best friend and I LOVE IT! I was having trouble finding a baby book I liked and she surprised me with this one. She knows me so well! It's called A Complete Childhood History and it's a beautiful linen bound book with simple journal prompts from pregnancy to 18 years. It's really the perfect baby book! It comes in a bunch of pretty colors, ours is sage green, of course!
7. Muslin Hooded Bath Towel - These towels are so soft, dry quickly and look adorable on her! They are lightweight but very absorbent and they have little belts we can use to tie them like a robe once she gets a little bigger.
8. Canvas Diaper Backpack - my other best friend who lives in Hawaii now (and just had a baby herself!) sent us our dream diaper backpack stuffed with all the baby goodies. I can't say how much I love this bag! I wanted something utilitarian and unisex, so Anthony wouldn't feel silly carrying it but also, because I'm not a super girly girl anyway. I love having a backpack versus a purse style diaper bag because it keeps my hands and arms free. It has just the right number of pockets and side compartments that are great for stashing a water bottle and your phone. I give this diaper backpack a 10/10! It's from Oliday on Etsy. They have really nice looking camera bags and laptop bags too!
9. Dr. Bronners Unscented Baby Castile Soap - This is the soap we've been using with Sage since she was born. I love that castile soap has a million other uses and you just need a few drops so it lasts a long time. It's a natural, vegetable-based soap with no added fragrance or synthethic detergents or preservatives.
10. Baby Bath Support - I didn't want an enormous baby bathtub that was bulky and hard to store, because they grow out of them so quickly! This Angelcare Bath Support is perfect. It has a simple and streamlined design, a soft mesh material that comfy for Sage, drains easily and has a built in hook for easy storage.
Other Frequently Asked Baby Questions
For our car seat and stroller, we have this Graco travel system. My sister-in-law suggested getting a jogging stroller instead of a regular one, and I'm glad I did! This thing can go over curbs, grass, gravel and rough terrain with ease. We'll probably get an additional lightweight umbrella stroller once Sage is a little older, but for now this is all we need!
We are cloth diapering and honestly, it's not as hard as I thought it would be! This is the podcast that convinced me to give it a try. We use Bumgenius 5.0 Pocket Style cloth diapers and I'm really happy with them.
One item I didn't register for but wish I did? A manual breast pump. I have a Medela double electric pump that was supplied by my insurance but I recently bought a one-piece silicone breast pump. (Shout out to my instagram friend Sierra for telling me about these!) Now that Sage is sleeping longer stretches, I found I was leaking a ton from whatever side I wasn't nursing her on in the middle of the night. Now I attach this thing and collect a couple ounces every night, just from the suction and completely hands-free. It would have been great to have for relieving engorgement in the early days of breastfeeding. The one piece design makes it super easy to clean too! I highly recommend it for any breastfeeding mom or mama-to-be.
Last thing! There are so many parenting books out there but one book I highly recommend? Baby Meets World by Nicholas Day. This is the book to pick up when you are burnt out on reading pregnancy and parenting books. It's not a book about how to do things with babies, its a book about how babies do things. It's a great blend of scientific research, the often strange and confounding history of child-rearing (did you know goat wet nurses were once a thing?) and the author's personal experiences as a stay-at-home dad. It's feel like the antithesis of a typical parenting book, because it doesn't tell you what to do. It highlights the mysteries, complexities and everything wonderful about babies and has let me see the little life we created in a whole new way. But I'm not a professional book reviewer, so here's a description from someone who is:
“Nicholas Day has birthed a perfect book: expertly researched, beautifully written, wise, warm, honest, funny. What makes it fascinating is the same thing that makes it reassuring: When it comes to caring for babies, there has never been one right way to do it, but dozens--contradictory, bizarre (goat wet nurses!), hilarious in retrospect but always well-meant. If you have a baby, expect a baby, were or still are a baby, this is a book for you.” ―Mary Roach, author of Stiff and Gulp
Ok, one more thing but this is the last one - I promise! I didn't originally include a baby monitor on my favorite things list because we just started using one more recently. But I really love the one we have now! It's the YI Home Camera. It works with an app on your phone, has the ability to add more cameras (if you have or plan to have multiple kiddos!), has sound and video and also works as an intercom. And the best thing? It's only $30.
Was this round up helpful? Would you like to see more motherhood and baby related posts on Stevie Storck Design Co. or are you just here for the interiors? Let me know in the comments below or join the conversation on Instagram!
Disclosure: This post includes some affiliate links, meaning if you shop using the links in this post, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting brands that support this blog!
Today I wanted to share a little snapshot of what our life has looked like lately. Since Sage was born, we've been spending lots of time at home. I shared a progress update on our living room about a year ago and I thought it would be fun to show you how the room has evolved, especially since we brought our little girl home!
Obviously, baby gear is taking over the house. But I don't mind! I tried to register for mostly neutral items to blend in with our home decor for the big stuff like the swing and the Pack N Play. We have a small round basket between the couch and the white chairs that corrals blankets and baby toys. I've also got a market-style basket with my breast pump and supplies on one of the end tables. If that stuff is going to be out all the time, I figured the least I could do was corral it into a pretty container.
Among the other updates, we finally have a beautiful floor lamp next to the leather chair thanks to Brightech! We live in an old house that we're fixing up slowly and for some reason, the downstairs living room has no hardwired light fixtures. With just the two table lamps, the other side of the room can get a little dark at night. I chose the Montage floor lamp because of it's simple, classic and transitional styling. I think it strikes the perfect balance between the modern lines of the leather chair and ornate style of the Federal eagle mirrors above. It came with an LED bulb that gives off the perfect, warm light that really brightens up this side of the room in the evenings!
'Montage' Floor Lamp c/o Brightech
Brightech has a great selection of stylish lighting solutions at affordable price-points and their shipping was freaky fast! I would have loved to use the Ava, but the Montage was the perfect fit for the smaller space next to my leather chair. I'm already dreaming about using their solar powered string lights once we fix up our side porch!
Also, since Sage has been born I've been feeling more and more sentimental about everything. I updated some of our framed family photos around the room and I pulled out my very favorite quilt that's an heirloom from a close family friend. When Sage was a couple weeks old, I felt a huge burst of creative energy around documenting our life together as a little family. I had all of our professional photos from our engagement to Sage's newborn pictures printed (we get portraits every year as our anniversary tradition) and bought an old-school photo album to put them in. I've been keeping track of Sage's milestones and special memories in the perfect baby book that was gifted to me by my best friend. I keep it in a little wire basket under the end table so it's always within easy reach.
Life has been pretty sweet these last 8 weeks. I'm looking forward to sharing more of our home and life here on the blog! Let me know if there are any topics you'd like to hear more about. You can always send me an email or a message through Instagram. I hang out over there pretty often these days, and I share more of my daily life as a new mom on stories.
Disclosure: This post includes affiliate links, meaning if you shop using the links in this post, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting brands that support this blog!
This is a post I've been really excited to write, for my own memories, for any expecting mamas out there and for anyone who just loves to read a good birth story! As I've written about before, during my pregnancy I did my best to prepare for a natural childbirth. It's not that I was majorly against the idea of an epidural, or if necessary a c-section. My end goal was always whatever it took to have a healthy and safe delivery. But after reading birth stories like Lindsay's, I found myself drawn to the idea of a natural, pain medication free birth. While I could envision having a home birth in the future, Anthony wasn't as comfortable with the idea. So I ordered the book, Natural Hospital Birth: The Best of Both Worlds for myself and the companion book The Birth Partner for Anthony. We also attended the Childbirth classes offered by our local hospital together, but tried not to do too much more research or preparation other than that. Every birth is so different, and at the end of the day, I believed that when the time came my body would know what to do.
Going past my due date
If you read my previous pregnancy posts, you'll know I had a lot of prelabor symptoms all throughout my third trimester. I was so convinced she would come early, that as I got closer to my due date I started getting more and more anxious. I tried a lot of the old wives tales, like walking a ton, eating pineapple, getting foot massages, walking down the stairs backwards, etc. The funny thing is waking up on my due date, I felt a sense of relief. Almost like, "Ok, I was wrong. She's officially not coming early"! I was still uncomfortable and hoping labor would start soon, but I was so much more chill in those days after my due date.
When I was 3 days past due, I read an article that said it's a misconception that birth is a mechanical process and things like walking will induce labor. Birth is driven by hormones, specifically oxytocin which is why they use the synthethic version (pitocin) for medical inductions. A light bulb went off in my head-- I can make some oxytocin! I decided right then that I was going to be SUPER happy, even if I was uncomfortable and grumpy I would smile until I felt happy. That was around 5 or 6pm. I felt bad at that point that Anthony was basically housebound with a very pregnant and irritable wife, so I asked him what we could do that would make him really happy and he said he wanted to get Chinese for dinner! So we went to our local grocery store, which has delicious Chinese food. I smiled the whole time and laughed wholeheartedly at all of Anthony's silly Dad jokes that had been annoying me for weeks. On the way home, I was having contractions and I felt a weird feeling that was similar to a gas bubble rumbling in my stomach. I mentioned it to Anthony because it seemed to make the contraction hurt worse, but really I didn't think anything of it because I had been having contractions for months. Then once we got home, I was walking across our kitchen and my water started leaking out! That was 7:26pm.
Labor and delivery
I was in denial at first --I said to Anthony, "Maybe I just peed myself?"-- but it became apparent pretty immediately that my water had definitely broken and I was in labor. We called the hospital but decided to eat dinner before we left because I knew I wouldn't be able to eat once we got there. At that point we didn't think we were in any rush, and I didn't want to go to the hospital too soon. I hadn't been timing the contractions before then, but as we were finishing dinner I pulled out the app on my phone and it turns out they were already 4 minutes apart. So we pretty quickly packed up dinner, grabbed our bags and headed out the door! This song came on while we were driving to hospital and it made me smile.
We got to the hospital around 8:30pm, and although the contractions were already getting more intense I was adamant that I wanted to park in the garage with Anthony and walk in. I almost stopped and got a wheelchair at the hospital entrance because I was in the middle of a contraction, but it was over before I found one so I told Anthony we should just keep going! I remember asking him to put the exercise/birthing ball down so I could bounce on it through a contraction in the elevator and then again as we were doing the intake paperwork. Then we were escorted to the exam room, where they checked my cervix (2 cm and 80% effaced) and confirmed my water had broken before admitting me and taking us to our Labor & Delivery room.
At that point, the contractions were getting pretty intense and an ultrasound confirmed that Sage was head down but face up. That meant the back of her head was pressing against my spine and causing some pretty painful back labor for me. It was so uncomfortable that I couldn't bear to lay on my back, so I moved around a lot. I started off sitting and rocking on the birth ball, then leaning over the birth ball on the bed, then sitting on the very end of the bed with pillows stacked on the tray so I could rest in between contractions. Around midnight, I was in so much pain that I asked if someone could please "just tell me about the IV pain meds one more time". Anthony was like "Are you sure?" and I said "I'm not saying I want them, I just want to hear about them". They asked if I wanted them to check me first and I said yes. At that point, I hadn't been checked since we'd been admitted. I had to lay on my back for the exam, and as soon I did, a contraction started and as soon as it was over that pain was replaced with the most terrible back pain. I definitely lost my cool at that point. If I was only at 3 or 4 cm, I think there was a good chance I would have asked for an epidural. We had decided if I did change my mind during labor, I would do an epidural instead of IV pain meds but being exhausted and in pain I wasn't exactly thinking straight. Luckily, the doctor told me I was at 6 to 7cm. I remember thinking 7cm isn't that far from transition, and that meant I was making progress! I felt encouraged and reenergized to get through the pain on my own.
I think I went through transition shortly after that, although time has a different meaning when you are in active labor! I remember throwing up (for the second time) and shaking uncontrollably but honestly, even though the pain was worse I think it was easier for me to get through 7cm to 10cm than it was to get from 2cm to 7cm. I kept telling myself that it was almost over and I would be holding our little girl very soon. And that I could do it! I may hate it, but I could do this! Anthony and I really got into a rhythm around this time, which helped immensely. I remember asking my nurse early on in my labor "how do women sleep during labor? This is terrible"! But I realized that even if there are only 20 seconds in between contractions, you fall asleep because you're just so exhausted. I would rest on the edge of the bed in between contractions, and then as soon as I felt one coming on, Anthony and I would stand up and I would hang onto him as we swayed through the contractions. They called this "the labor dance" in our childbirth classes and of all the labor positions I tried it was my favorite. We were listening to music from one of my Spotify playlists the whole time (this song stood out in my mind), and really focusing on that and moving with the music helped take my mind off the pain. Anthony told me later he could tell the contractions were getting worse, but that I was really calm and "in the zone".
I started feeling pretty intense pressure around 4am, and they checked me again and I was at 9cm. It took until 5:45am for me to get the whole way to 10 and then it was time to push! Honestly, pushing felt so much easier to me than getting through the contractions and dilation. Probably because I had a real job to do at that point, and was very motivated for labor to be over! I ended up pushing for an hour and a half total. Towards the end, I remember them saying several times her head was right there and just one more contraction and she would be here! But that happened over 3-4 contractions (so 9-12 pushes) where her head was almost out, but just not quite fitting. I was getting so exhausted I said something like "I don't think I can do this anymore" and I found out later in talking with the doctor that Sage was having heart rate decelerations, so they suggested using the vacuum extractor to help deliver her head. I remember looking up at Anthony and he said, "I think we should just get her out." I agreed and from there, it went super fast. Crowning was as intense as everyone says it will be, but it was over so quickly and then our baby girl was born!
1. The day before I went into labor we walked around 3 garden centers 2. On the way home I made Anthony pull over so I could wade into this creek to cool off 3. The day I went into labor we had a relaxing day at home and I made yorkshire pudding for the first time 4. The selfie Anthony sent to our best friends to let them know we wouldn't be going to the movies with them the next day 5. The first photo of me and Sage 6. Our first photo as a family of three
What happened after
In the moments after Sage was born, I felt an immediate sense of relief. I did it! Our baby girl was born and labor was finally over. I had accomplished my goal of having a natural childbirth, although it was not totally intervention-free. What came next though was a bit more challenging than I expected. I want to be honest, because I think it's more important and helpful to be real than to censor my experience and share just the "good stuff". So if you want to stop reading here and just skip ahead to the "Recovery" bit, feel free! But for those of you who want all the details, here they are...
The third stage of childbirth, aka everything that happens immediately after the baby is born is a bit of a blur because I was so exhausted at that point. But unlike the rest of labor, I felt fully present in my body at the time and the hour after I delivered Sage felt like it took forever. Because they had to use the vacuum extractor to help Sage's head out, I had second degree tears in 3 places. But before they could set about the repair, they needed to deliver my placenta. I remember the doctor applying "controlled cord traction" and in the reflection of the ceiling light above me I saw the cord snap. The doctor then had to manually extract my placenta, which is exactly what it sounds like and not a pleasant experience by any means. I honestly can't remember the timeline of how this all happened, so it may have been exactly what was necessary. But for my next birth I may add to my birth plan that I want to try expectant/physiological management of the third stage which means leaving the placenta and cord alone and letting my body deliver it on it's own time (within reason). "Controlled cord traction" is considered active management, and is very common and usually very safe. For me, the cord snapping along with the tearing lead to more blood loss than is typical for childbirth and caused me to develop iron-deficiency anemia. The good news was, I was borderline so they gave me the choice of having a blood transfusion or taking iron supplements and we opted for the iron supplements.
Back to the repairs, keep in mind at this point I had spent the last 12 hours in active labor with no pain medication. I remember turning to Anthony with tears in my eyes and telling him that I had "run out of brave". I was holding Sage in my arms and comforting her, telling her everything was going to be ok and it was almost over. She was fine - I was talking to myself. It was overwhelmingly emotional, to finally be holding my daughter and also be in a new kind of pain after telling myself for the last hour and a half of pushing that I was almost done and that it would be over soon. I remember saying to the doctors "Are you sure we have to finish this now? Couldn't we just take a break"? After them telling me it was almost over for what felt like hours, they finally cleaned me up and the nurse helped me walk to the bathroom. After that, I was finally done and the team of doctors and nurses left the room to give Anthony, Sage and I our time to rest and bond before transporting us from Labor & Delivery to Maternity. So many happy tears were shed by both of us. She was finally here! Sage nursed as soon as I was back in bed and both Anthony and I got to do skin-to-skin with her. Those first moments with the three of us together are some of the most precious memories of my life. As challenging as the first hour after Sage's birth was, by the second hour it already felt so, so worth it. Although I do remember telling Anthony that we would not be talking about any more babies anytime soon...
They wheeled us over to my recovery room around 8:30 or 9am. At this point, we had been awake for over 24 hours but I felt amazing. I had read about the oxytocin high that comes after natural childbirth and wanting to experience that was a big part of what drew me to choosing a drug-free birth. I was barely in any pain, and felt totally fine and ready to handle the day with just a 15 minute nap. I was so happy that Sage was here and I loved every minute of our first day together as a family of three. Of course, that didn't last forever and on Tuesday, I felt like I had been hit by a mac truck. By Wednesday my overall pain was decreasing but it was less of a general pain like it had been up to that point and I could begin to differentiate what hurt and when. Other than that, it's really hard for me to remember our time in the hospital (I'm glad I took pictures!) because I barely slept at all so it felt like one big blur! On Wednesday afternoon, after a weight check, an exam from the pediatric nurse practitioner and some more blood tests for me, both Sage and I were discharged and it was time to go home!
It's really hard to put into words, but I feel that giving birth to Sage changed me on a fundamental level. As challenging as childbirth was, it was also incredibly empowering. Childbirth, and now breastfeeding has given me a different kind of confidence for what I'm capable of and gratitude for what my body can do. Sage's birth was such an intense physical, emotional and spiritual experience. I thought Anthony and I were as close as we could be, being friends for 15 years and together for almost 12, but Sage's birth has brought us even closer. Of course, caring for a newborn can be challenging but I've never felt such deep happiness in my life. I don't have any other words than just, I'm so grateful and so in love with our little family!
The biggest question we got while we were expecting our daughter was what her name was going to be! It's so funny because I hated my siblings for keeping their children's name a secret until they were born and swore I wouldn't do that. It's funny how much different we felt about naming her, and sharing her name once we found out she was a girl and everything felt so much more real. We did share the names we were thinking about until about 24 weeks. Then we just kept saying, "We have a list of favorites, but we're waiting until we meet her to choose one". And that was our intention from the beginning! But the truth was, at 24 weeks I had a follow up ultrasound appointment and while we were waiting for them to come back to take my blood pressure, Anthony said "You know what? I think I really like Sage". And I said "Me too." We just kind of looked at each other for a second, before Anthony said, "Did we just accidentally decide on a name?" to which I responded, "I think so, but let's not tell anyone."
Even as the weeks went by and we didn't waver on our love for the name Sage, we still felt nervous about sharing it with others. What if people bought her monogrammed things and then she came out and the name didn't fit? Sharing a baby's name before they are born also invites opinions but more than that, I just felt a sense of wanting to keep the name between Anthony and I. We referred to her as Sage before she was born, but the idea of other people calling her that weirded me out. They didn't know her yet! Heck, we didn't really know her yet, aside from the kicks, punches and hiccups we could feel as she moved inside my belly. But in reality, she was/is a whole new human being, with her own personality waiting for us to discover. With that in mind, the idea of her name just felt much more serious.
We chose Sage because we liked that it was unisex (it's traditionally a boy's name), nature-inspired but also strong. Aside from being the name of an herb, Sage also means "wise one". Anthony was the one who suggested it. My favorite name was Marin for a long time, but Sage slowly but steadily grew on me. I chose her middle name, Catherine. With a short, strong first name like Sage I wanted her middle name to be more traditional and feminine so her name as a whole felt balanced. Out of all the old-fashioned girls names, I just felt that Catherine sounded the prettiest. Catherine has Greek origins and means "pure". And for those who know my love of the British royal family, yes, I suppose she is low-key named after Kate Middleton. Anthony and I are big on nicknames and once we realized we could call her Sagey Kate, I think the name choice was really cemented. I remember the moments after they put her on my chest in Labor & Delivery, she was so close to me I couldn't get a good look at her but I didn't want to let her go. So I asked Anthony with tears in my eyes, "Does she look like a Sage????" and he said "Definitely, yes".
All Portraits by Savannah Smith Photography
It's hard to believe it's been a week since our daughter was born! We already can't remember what life was like before and can't imagine our lives without her. Sage, Anthony, and I are all doing well and adjusting to our new life as a family of four - can't forget Chloe! We're settling into our new rhythms and routines, but I'm planning to share her birth story soon as well as her newborn photos! The short story is that giving birth was the most intense and transformative 12 hours of my life and I am grateful that I was able to have the natural childbirth experience I was hoping for. Sage is such a sweet, calm, smiley baby and I am one very lucky mama. Thank you to all those who reached out to us with congratulations and well wishes on our Instagram announcement! We're feeling very happy and loved up here at the Storck home these days.
Um, didn't I just write my second trimester update post? And here I am, 9 months pregnant and Anthony and I are just a couple of weeks (or days!) away from meeting our daughter for the first time.
Warning, this is a majorly photo heavy post for the same reason I have yet to order prints from our maternity session with Savannah Smith Photography -- I just love them all too much to pick favorites! In fact, I went back and added more photos to both my first and second trimester post because I'm feeling so sentimental about the fact that I'm nearing the end of this pregnancy.
I turned the corner into the third trimester just before our 27th birthdays. Anthony and I were born the same year and exactly a week apart. Me at the end of March, him at the beginning of April. So if our little girl is born in late May like she's expected to, we'll all three have back to back birthday months!
Also right around that time, we celebrated our baby shower at a local brewery. It was a low key, co-ed party decorated beautifully by my best friend, Jess. My college girlfriends travelled from across the country that weekend to celebrate with us and we had so much fun with our family and friends, we didn't want the shower to end! It was really the perfect day.
A few weeks later, my friends from church choir threw us a surprise shower disguised as an "important extra rehearsal" which was so unexpected and incredibly sweet of them! Over the past year and a half, our church community has become like another family to us and we are so happy to get to share that with our daughter as she grows up!
Changes & How I'm Feeling
I think my second trimester energy stuck around until about 31 weeks. Since then, it's been a bit of a rollercoaster! For a long while, I was just feeling so exhausted all the time. I've also realized that my body is very clued into the weather! I've had Braxton Hicks fairly consistently since the second trimester but in the last 8 weeks I've had four bouts with strong pre-labor symptoms, which after looking back have all coincided with stormy weather. My midwife mentioned that sudden changes in barometric pressure can kickstart contractions or labor in some women. The first time it happened, they had me in for observation just to be certain it wasn't preterm labor. Since then, I've done my best to ignore the contractions knowing that when it's real labor, I'll know. But it's definitely a mind game here as I'm nearing full term! I have felt more energetic lately, and I think that might be because the baby dropped earlier last week. I have a little more room to breathe, but also, now that she's lower that makes for another kind of discomfort so I've been taking lots of baths to relax my achy body!
Overall, I can't complain. Pregnancy definitely has it's discomforts and challenges, but I'm lucky that both the baby and I are healthy and everything has been going smoothly and normally up to this point. Also speaking of changes, we just have one monthly photo left to take! We'll take my last bump photo on our Instax Mini at 40 weeks, unless she decides to come sooner than that -- then the series would end with a picture of me holding her on the outside.
In case you missed it, the nursery is now complete! We decided to join in with the One Room Challenge to get our butts in gear and finish our daughter's room before she arrives. I shared weekly posts of our progress over the last 6 weeks, ending with the big reveal this past Thursday! Working together on our first baby's nursery has been such a special experience for Anthony and I. I think it's safe to say it's now our favorite room in the house and we are so looking forward to spending time as a family in here. You can catch up on the renovation and see more photos of the finished space right here.
About a month ago, I started thinking about what to pack in our hospital bag and it quickly became my number one obsession in life. Seriously, I approached this simple task with the effort and enthusiasm that most people reserve for their master's thesis. In trying to be a minimalist, but also not wanting to overlook any important items I set up the ultimate opportunity to overthink every last detail. I'm pretty sure I drove Anthony and all my mom friends crazy with all the questions and links I sent them. I saved all the things I got on this Pinterest board. Maybe after she's born, I'll put together a post of what I packed and if there's anything I wish I would have brought or things I could have left at home.
Last week I wrapped up a lot of things on my to-do list, from finishing the nursery to sending off my last bit of client work before maternity leave. Those were both a big relief to check off, and now I'm feeling about as calm and ready as I can be about welcoming our daughter into the world. My pregnancy feels like it has gone so fast in some ways, and in other ways I feel like I've been waiting a lifetime to meet this little soul. Excited doesn't begin to cover how I feel about becoming a mother in just a couple short weeks. Anthony and I are both feeling so lucky and grateful. We're trying to soak up these last moments as a family of two- well three, counting Chloe! But man, oh man, we are looking forward to this next chapter of becoming parents and getting to know our little girl.
All portraits by Savannah Smith Photography
The weeks have been flying by so incredibly fast since I posted my last pregnancy update back in January. I can hardly believe that I'm officially in my third trimester! Now that I'm through it, I wanted to share a little recap of my second trimester of pregnancy.
How I'm feeling
It took me a little longer than I thought to leave behind the first trimester morning sickness but since I did I've been feeling really good! The worst things I've had to deal with these last few months have been heartburn and some SI joint paint. I haven't had a ton of cravings, but there was one morning where I made Anthony take me out to get a cheeseburger for breakfast and man, did that hit the spot! Bump-wise, I think it took until about 16-18 weeks before I really started showing. I felt like I was in the awkward transition stage for a long time but my belly has grown so much just in the last couple of weeks! I'm finally at the point where I look pregnant enough that strangers are regularly making comments about my baby or asking when I'm due. That was pretty exciting the first time it happened! This weekend, we'll be taking the next photo in this series above!
What we've done to prepare
Anthony and I decided to take the childbirth classes offered by our hospital, and I'm so glad we did! We're halfway through and in addition to feeling more prepared and knowledgeable, I'm really enjoying the quality time we get driving to and from our class every week. The classes with our hospital are really affordable, our instructor is awesome and I think it's a great way to get a baseline understanding of the birthing process. I'm also reading a couple books to help me decide how I want to approach the experience of labor and delivery and I'm surprised to find myself actually wanting a natural childbirth. It's not that I'm against the idea of a medicated birth in theory, I just have this feeling in my gut that I think I can do it and I want to try. I'm currently reading Natural Hospital Birth: The Best of Both Worlds by Cynthia Gabriel and Anthony is working through the companion book, The Birth Partner. I'm doing my best to prepare for a natural birth but that being said, if things don't go according to plan, I won't be heartbroken. One thing I've heard over and over again is that the best "birth plan" to have is to be flexible!
From top: us at our first childbirth class in February, a little bump progress from December, January and February. Below: my favorite maternity outfit (hooray for overalls!) I got in March.
GIRL! Because I like a good sneak attack, I actually announced in this post right here. We found out in early January that we were expecting our first daughter. We didn't have a preference either way, but it's so exciting just to know! And it definitely makes the baby name search easier to cut down the options by half. More on that later! Here are some screenshots from the video we sent to our friends after the ultrasound appointment:
How's Anthony doing?
Every time I ask Anthony if he's feeling scared about fatherhood at all, he says "Nope, just excited!". He's had some practice being an uncle and two of our best friends had their first babies this past fall so I think that's really helped us both to know and visualize how life is going to change once we're parents. Of course, I know we will be surprised by a whole lot once our little girl is actually here! But Anthony has been a total champ my whole pregnancy. I've had to lean on him a lot and I couldn't imagine a better partner in this than he is. If the last week has been any indication, the third trimester hormonal mood swings are going to be pretty strong. I've been feeling much less in control of my emotions than normal so everyone say a quick prayer for Anthony in getting through these last 3 months with me!
Maternity leave plans
A lot of people have been curious about what maternity leave looks like for a self-employed, small business owner so I thought I would share what my plans are. I'm continuing to take on new client consultations through April, but after that I will be focused on wrapping up my projects in progress or getting them to a good stopping point before baby Storck arrives around the end of May/beginning of June. Once she's here, I plan to take the first two months or so off from client work completely. Depending on how I feel, I will probably continue to work on some behind the scenes stuff for my business and write some blog posts when I can after the first few weeks. I'm definitely planning to play things by ear but I'm expecting by September to be working on my new routine as a work-from-home mama. I am so grateful to have the flexibility to do this, and thinking of having a family in the future was a big motivator behind me striking out on my own with Stevie Storck Design Co. two years ago!
We still have a lot to do, but the nursery is coming together! I shared the before photos and my design inspiration in this post, and I'm working on a progress update with my design plans for next week. I'm going for a very collected, historic and cozy feel for her room mixing antique and vintage pieces with more modern accents. Her room already has some of my very favorite thrifted finds ever in it, including this mint velvet settee and this gorgeous Karastan Sarouk area rug I found for a steal -- thanks Facebook Marketplace!
Chloe loves the rug and the baby's room too!
Choosing a name
The number one question we've been asked since we found out it was a girl is if we've decided on a name yet. The short answer is no. Impatient me always hated my siblings for keeping their baby names a secret during their pregnancies and assumed that I would share ahead of time when it was my turn. But now that I'm here, it feels so different than I thought! Choosing the right name is hard. What if we pick a name, tell everyone, order monogrammed onesies and then realize the name just doesn't fit once we actually see her for the first time? A good friend told me she went in to the hospital with a list of names, and the ones that were her favorites the whole pregnancy were not at all what they ended up choosing once their daughter was born. So we've decided to take that approach. We have a list, and we still talk about names frequently but we aren't deciding on anything until she's born. So no, we don't have a name to share yet, but I will tell you a little about what we're thinking!
As you could probably guess, I'm a fan of boys names for girls (I'm Stevie and my little sister is named Frankie) but Anthony, not so much. So the names on our list are a mix of strong, unisex names and classic, feminine names. I like the idea of whatever type we choose for a first name, going the opposite with her middle name to sound nice and balanced. We especially like names that are a little uncommon but easy to spell and pronounce, and names that are a little old-fashioned and/or nature inspired. And nicknaming potential is a strong factor for us too! Goofy nicknames are a family tradition for us, so we try those out with every name we talk about.
My favorite part
I started feeling flutters and little movements as early as 13-14 weeks, but the first time I felt a solid kick was Christmas Day and there's just nothing like that feeling. Now, this little girl is a regular acrobat! I can now tell where in my belly she is laying -- she seems to prefer the right side and has been head down for the last several weeks -- and I can discern what movements are kicks, punches, head butts and rolls. I've waited my whole life for this bump and the little girl inside of it so I'm really enjoying these moments, especially when Anthony can share it with me. If she's laying in the right position, he can even hear her heartbeat just by pressing his ear to my belly. I think that's so cool, because it's something only he can do. We can't wait for her to get here, but I think I'm going to miss being pregnant once she is. Carrying her on the inside is such a short, but special time and I'm so grateful for it!
Now that I'm over halfway through my pregnancy, we're ready to get our butts in gear to prepare our home for our little one! I've been dreaming up nursery designs and pinning inspiration for years and I'm so excited to finally start this project. We'll be turning our smallest guest bedroom into the nursery, which is perfect because it's right across the hall from our master bedroom.
We never really decorated this room, but we did add a few more things since we shared our "before" home tour back in 2015. The minty green settee will be staying, along with the white IKEA dresser. But most everything else will be moved out and repurposed in other rooms. These aren't the best "before" photos because I had stripped the bed to do laundry and ended up taking these at 9pm on evening right before I convinced Anthony to take apart the bed and move it to another room with me.
I just realized as I'm writing this that our nieces left a book underneath the bed. They love hanging out under there! The room is about 11' x 13' and has two west facing windows so it gets some of the prettiest light in the house! The closet is kind of strange, as it has no shelves or hanging rod but does have the frame of an old boarded up window and it extends back and to the left with three large steps to accommodate the sloped ceiling of the staircase below. I'm planning on making a cushion for the top step and turning it into a little hideout or reading nook for our kiddo to enjoy when they get older!