From what is on my heart to the things that bring me joy. Enjoy bi-weekly posts from either myself or my community of women that is aimed to leave you feeling seen & inspired in all things life, love and motherhood.

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Potty Training. Boy, oh, boy where to even start. If you are like me, I am assuming you found or ventured to this post because you are desperate for some answers and more importantly, a little hope when it comes to this subject. Well, guess what I am about to deliver all of that. Except, I am going to do so in a very realistic way and I’m not going to use any particular method.

So, before we begin, I want to let it be known that we are still very much on our potty-training journey with Cassidy. It hasn’t been that long since we began and truthfully, I think it might be a little while more until we can say Cassidy will be 100% trustworthy and accident-free. However, she has seriously kicked some major butt the past few days and best of all, we’ve officially stopped using diapers, and most importantly, it has never been stressful or negative. It has always been light-hearted, fun, and exciting, which I believe has made all the difference this time around. 

Anyhow, with all that being said, below I listed out all the things that I learned from entering this major milestone. Trust me, I know this may seem daunting to tackle but take it from me, a mom who literally has no idea what she is doing, that it doesn’t have to be. Just remember to take a deep breath and repeat after me, we’ve got this! I say “we” because this is going to take a team.

Are They Ready?

This is the big question you need to start with. How do you know when your child is ready to potty train? I think it all depends on who you are looking towards for that answer. If you are looking at a potty training book, some will say anywhere between 18-36 months. Or, if you are like me back in April, when we first tried this and was looking at friends, I thought since everyone else was doing it during COVID quarantine that we should be too. Well, guess what, that was a HUGE mistake and a total disaster. Why? Because I didn’t think to look at the one person who matters most in this decision… my daughter. 

So, with that being said, by looking specifically at Cassidy’s cues this time, we started to see a couple of things that showed her readiness. For example, she was starting to refuse and fight diaper changes, hid when pooping, looked embarrassed after she did poop, and then tried to get her diaper off at any chance possible. As far as her speech delay, we also saw how she has come far enough where she is able to say “pee-pee,” “potty,” and “poo-poo.” However, even if she didn’t have those words, I still think we could have the same success because despite not being strong communicating, she still understands a great deal.

What You’ll Need

  • Portable Potty Chair. We actually got 2, one for upstairs and one for the downstairs.
  • Toddler toilet Seat. We originally bought this one but Cassidy hated sitting on it because it is really hard. The Minnie Mouse one is padded and a lot more comfortable
  • Step Stool- We bought this one because it has Elmo face on it and every time Cassidy goes potty, we like to say “hi Elmo!” Sounds silly but it’s just another thing that makes this process fun for her.
  • Flushable Wipes- This is a personal preference but I sometimes don’t think plain toilet paper cuts it when it comes to wiping their butts clean.
  • Big Kid Undies- lots of them too (if your child has a favorite character, I’d recommend getting some undies with them on it)
  • Pull-Ups (overnight ones for bed/naps & regular for anytime you run an errand and may not be close to a potty)
  • Travel Potty Seat- you won’t use this right away but it will come in handy when you have to use a public restroom.
  • Floor/Carpet/Couch/ Laundry cleaner 
  • Yummy Fluids- Anything you know your child will want to drink a lot of. For us, it was sunny D. Yes full of sugar but it was a guarantee she’d chug it
  • Timer 
  • Rewards- We’re all about positive reinforcement over here so we decided to get a little jar of m&ms and chocolate covered pretzels. Something she really never gets and loves

Where to Begin

For us, we decided that it would be best to start this endeavor when we knew we had no place to be, we’d both be home, had no vacations coming up, and then had no other big transitions (i.e., big kid bed, school starting, new baby, anything new at all) taking place. Another added bonus was finding a weekend with good weather so we could be outside as much as possible. Luckily, with Labor Day creeping up we decided to do it then.

Diving In- A Day by Day Breakdown

Day 1

Day 1 for us actually started on the Friday before the weekend. I called this my “awareness day” because I wanted Cassidy to really see what happens when she goes potty. I put her in a sundress (for boys I would just take their bottoms off) and let her run around on our deck outside. This way if she did go it would at least wouldn’t be inside. From here, I watched her and any time she went pee, I’d point out what happened so she was made aware. We didn’t do this all day and didn’t do it for poop, because there is no way I wanted to clean that much, but we did it just long enough to make a point out what was happening.

Before the day was over, I let Cassidy know what was going to be starting the following day. I told her about her new undies and showed them to her, I told her how there would be no more diapers, and how she was going to be a big girl and use the “big girl potty seat.” She didn’t show any enthusiasm or seem to care but I figured it couldn’t hurt to at least tell her.

Day 2

This is where the fun began. We woke up, got Cassidy out of her room, brought her right to her little potty chair upstairs, and told her to sit on it and go “pee-pee.” She sat for one second and then was off. I let her go completely bottomless and just told my husband that we’d need to watch her like a hawk. I poured her a huge bottle of juice, turned off the TV (we wanted to eliminate any distraction), made her breakfast, and then set the timer for 15 minutes. I also made sure during this time to not take my eyes off of her because I wasn’t sure how much time it would actually take for the liquids to go through her. 

Once the timer went off, we brought her over to her potty chair and TRIED to get her to sit. But, Cassidy is a stubborn little girl who does not like to do anything if it isn’t of her own accord. She screamed and ran away and then not even 2 minutes later peed on our carpet. We didn’t scold her, we didn’t yell, we just told her “it’s okay, accidents are okay but pee-pee goes in the potty.” This entire dance went on for the next half of the morning. Honestly, though, I have to say that I did start to doubt myself and the process and was very close to admitting defeat. But, after quitting once before, I decided to push through and just wait to see how the rest of the day went. In my gut, I knew that if I could just get Cassidy to sit once on the potty and do something, she’d see what we were doing and continue. 

Thankfully, after a couple more accidents, a moment came when all the sudden outside on the deck, she peed and yelled “oh-no.” This is when I knew she was understanding that she did something she shouldn’t. 15 minutes later, I saw her about to pee again so I grabbed her (but not in a scary way) and put her on the portable potty seat where she finished the rest of the pee. We jumped up and down, clapped, and then gave her an M&M. We also showed her how to say “bye-bye” to the pee as we poured it into the toilet and how to pull the handle to flush. I know that sounds crazy but for little kids, they think seeing the water go-around is the coolest thing and I honestly believe Cassidy continued to pee in the toilet solely for this.  From that moment on, something clicked and she knew what the potty seat was for. She went back and forth between the little potty and the regular toilet and chose whichever she had closer to her at the moment. 

Now, you may be wondering about the whole poop thing. I was prepared for a whole slew of possibilities there and wasn’t sure what to expect. I know some kids take longer to nail that down and some kids can even be scared of it.  But, we decided to just wait and treat the idea of it all the same. We let Cassidy continue to run around outside bottomless and watched for her “poop cues.” She personally gets a little fidgety and tries to go off where she can’t be seen. Unfortunately, though, since I was right there watching, she proceeded to poop in her cozy coop car. I did the same thing I do for pee accidents, told her it was okay, not to touch it, and that poo-poo goes in the potty. 

Funny enough, she seemed a little disappointed in herself because of the accident. But we continued to reassure her that accidents happen, we weren’t mad and she’d get it next time. And you know what, 20 minutes later she pooped again (poor kid actually had a bit of a yucky stomach because of all the juice we gave her so fair warning on that) and she went right in her little portable potty chair. Again, we cheered super loud, made a huge celebration of it, and gave her a reward. 

Day 3

This was our second day of full-on potty training and for the most part, it went pretty smooth aside from 3 tiny accidents (1 poop and 2 pee). We decided to try and put some undies on her, instead of letting her run completely bare-ass naked, but I think it confused her and that is what led to her accidents. So back to taking them off we went and decided that the following day we would try again with undies. 

We also on this day decided to forgo the timer because Cassidy seemed to let us know, for the most part, when she had to go and I was curious to see how she would do without. Cassidy also seemed to hate the timer method and would run from us any time it went off. I guess for some kids the timer method can work but for others, it may not and even be more harm than good. Again, its all about going based on works best with your child.

Day 4

Our 3rd full day of training and this time we tried undies all day and then even a pair of shorts later in the day. However, while she did great with undies, once I got the shorts on her she had a pee accident.  So back to just undies we went! This day I decided to also venture out shortly and see how she did and surprisingly, she stayed dry.

Days 5

This was our 4th-day potty training and the first full day of ZERO accidents. She let me know each and every time when she had to go for both #1 & 2. This day she also had dry pull-ups during a nap, which was great to see.

Day 6

One tiny accident but to no fault of her own. Cassidy accidentally locked herself in her bedroom and I didn’t get her out soon enough when I heard her knocking. I thought she was just being a goofball. Other than that, she wore undies and shorts and had no problem. Well, that is until she misjudged a fart and got poop all over my nice white carpet. Thank God for carpet cleaner!

Day 7

One whole week behind us and this day went great as well. Not only did Cassidy wear shorts and undies for the majority of the day, but she also let me know when she had to poop by actually saying the word. Before this, she always just fidgeted but never actually vocalized it. I felt a little more trustworthy of her in that she would let me know when/if she had to go, so that was a nice break. Felt super proud of our little girl and also of ourselves for pushing through and figuring out what was best for all.

Nap-Time & Bed Time

As I stated above in the list of what you’ll need, I put pull-ups on there because the ability to sleep and not have an accident isn’t always a very easy thing to achieve at first. It takes your child’s body a while to adapt to this new routine when they are awake and even longer when they aren’t. So, for this reason, we are putting a pull-up on Cassidy for extra reassurance but ONLY when she is sleeping. Sometimes she wakes up dry but not always. I think as she gets older and more in control, we will be able to switch completely to undies at night. For the time being though, we will stick with these and then also start practicing limiting her liquids 1.5 hours before bed. 

Accidents Happen

Last but not least, I just want to reaffirm this idea. Accidents happen and even when you believe your child is fully potty trained, it is always a possibility. However, this shouldn’t be something that should stop you from giving it a try. From here on out, I know that I will always have to be a little more cognizant of asking Cassidy whether she needs to go. I’ll also have to remember to carry extra undies & shorts with me and then keep up with the positive reinforcement.

Potty training doesn’t have to be an overnight thing and honestly, probably won’t be. Just keep a good attitude, shake off the tiny accidents, and keep moving forward. AND, if you find that maybe this time isn’t working out, or perhaps you’re getting a little frustrated, then take a step back and put it on hold for a while. No one is rushing you and there are no rules when it comes to this. Go with the flow and most importantly, listen to that sweet babe of yours. If you take the pressure off, I promise you, they will let you know when they are ready and when they are they will rock it!

So I think I covered it all but if you should at all have any questions or even just need a little pep-talk, please comment below or better yet, find me on Instagram at @theverymarylife.

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As a parent, I think when it comes to talking about our children, it is only natural to worry about their development. We want to make sure they are keeping up and when we notice that they may not be, we stay quiet. Perhaps that’s because we are a little too proud, maybe embarrassed or even a little afraid that if we ask for help it may lead to judgement.

This was exactly how we felt at first when we started having our suspicions about Cassidy having a speech delay. However, after facing this head on and talking about it openly, I quickly realized just how common this can be AND yet how very little it is often talked about. 

So, with this being said, I wanted to write this post to break the silence, create a community, give guidance and most importantly, show you there is nothing to be scared of. 

What Prompted Suspicions

From the time Cassidy was born, we never had any concerns regarding basic developmental milestones. She rolled around, she took her first steps at 11 months, said “dada” and “mama” and then would just talk in her own little language all day long. However, around the time she was turning 18 months, I started noticing how she wasn’t quite where she “should” be in terms of language.  At 18-months, the CDC says that most kids “should” have about 20 single words in addition to many other things. Well for Cassidy there were probably only 5 clear words we could understand from her at the time. After consulting with our pediatrician, we decided to wait a couple more months and get closer to her second birthday before taking any steps. It was explained to me that a lot can happen right before two so it was best to just give it time. I agreed with this and decided to wait.

Well come October, 2 months before she’d be turning two, Cassidy still hadn’t made much progress and had no more than 10 full words. I knew by this point that she wasn’t exactly where she needed to be. She was still talking (more like babbling) in her own language but when it came to using real words, engaging with other kids her age, and even basic pronunciation, something was off the mark. I knew it was time for us to get a second opinion and see if it would be worth it to have her get help. 

The Evaluation

Thankfully in New Jersey, you don’t need a doctor’s referral to have an early intervention evaluation done so I was able to set that all up myself. I’m not positive how it works in other states but I’d assume it’s probably pretty similar. When it came time for Cassidy’s evaluation, it was done in 2 separate meetings. The first would be the actual evaluation with Cassidy and then the second was the follow up, where we’d review results and create a plan of action if she did in fact qualify. 

**I’ve heard from a lot of mamas that have said that during this point, that many children may actually not qualify because what you think is a delay might actually be quite normal. Obviously that didn’t happen for us but all I can say is that if this ends up being the case for you and you feel it is incorrect, don’t be afraid to push!**

The evaluation in itself was fairly simple. A team of 2 people came to our house, one would play with Cassidy while the other sat at a computer observing and recording notes/scoring. They’d do structured assessments with Cassidy, using toys and fun things, but then also ask me questions as well. These questions were targeted to identify things such as language concerns, social concerns and fine motor concerns. Yes, even if your child is only showing delay in one area, they will take a look at it all. Just want to point that out so you aren’t concerned if you notice them looking into a different area of observation. 

Oh, and lastly, because this entire evaluation is state provided, it was free! Another reason it’s totally worth having done if you feel there is any concern for your child. There is literally nothing to lose!

Our Results and Plan of Action

As you could have guessed based on this post, Cassidy did in fact qualify for early intervention therapies. The results of her evaluation showed that she had the language ability equivalent to an 11-month-old (not good for being 24 months old) but when it came to things like her fine motor skills she actually far exceeded her age (this is actually something I have heard can be quite common in kids with speech delays). Makes sense considering what a monkey she is with climbing everything. As for social development, we concluded that her lack of engagement wasn’t so much an issue but more a result of her not fully understanding when she hears other kids speak. Again, made total sense because she looked at kids like they were speaking a foreign language.  

It was determined from here on out that she’d have early intervention therapy 1x a week here at our house and then additionally, 2x a week she would go to see a speech therapist. A speech therapist isn’t always necessary for each kid. Cassidy, however, has improper tongue positioning and needs to work on the muscles of her mouth, which will ultimately help with vocabulary and pronunciation of words. 

Moving Forward

For the past 4 months, that is until recently with the whole COVID crisis, Cassidy was having her weekly sessions. When our E.I. therapist comes to our home, she brings a whole slew of toys, puzzles, books and more. Basically, its likes Christmas morning for Cassidy because she gets so freaking excited to be able to play with things she’s never seen before. It during this time that our therapist uses things like mimicking, repetition, pretend play and more to help nail home some new words. Each week varies because it all really depends on how Cassidy is doing that day. Sometimes she does shut down because it may be a lot for her to absorb but when that happens, our therapist is so great and understanding to know when/how to give space and get her to open back up.

As for Speech Therapy, again up recently, we were attending our sessions twice weekly. Each appointment is only 30-minutes, short enough to teach and keep Cassidy engaged. These sessions are a little different because we focus more on activities that help Cassidy’s mouth muscles. We blow bubbles, sometimes eat food, drink out of various straws, and more. It’s actually super interesting to watch because they have so many tools to help get Cassidy on track.  

Ultimately with everything, we have a set of goals we are aiming to achieve in the next year up until the time Cassidy turns three. At this point, we will then reassess her and if we feel she still could benefit from continued early intervention, she will get that help at our local pre-school, which is run out of the public elementary school. 

Final Thoughts

Since beginning, the change we’ve been able to witness in Cassidy has been extraordinary. She has more than quadrupled the amount of words in her vocab but has also flourished when it comes to engaging with others, following direction and establishing independence. While we still have a ways to go, this entire experience has been nothing but positive.

If you are at all concerned about your child’s speech or any developmental milestone, I would highly recommend bringing it up at your next pediatrician appointment. OR if you don’t want to wait, give your state health department a call to get an evaluation scheduled. Trust me, I know how scary it can feel when you worry about your kids. I really really get it! However, by taking the initiative, I advocated for my daughter, got the help she needed, and have watched her thrive ever since. As for myself, I proved I could unleash my inner bear, putting all fears aside, I was able to speak up for my daughter, when she couldn’t do so herself!

Looking for some advice on what toys, tools and more have helped Cassidy with develop language? Take a look here

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If you follow me over on instagram, you know that for the entirety of my second pregnancy, my husband and I had every intention of going the all-natural and unmedicated route. However, as you would have later seen, that did not end up being the case. In fact, the birth we ended up was one I was terrified of but ended up loving. Confused, well let me explain…

So before you assume that I am some hippy, the plan to give birth unmedicated this time around was prompted by the traumatic birth of our daughter, Cassidy. Long story short, after 14 hours of labor and a failed epidural, our girl suffered an unexpected complication called Shoulder Dystocia (her head was out but shoulders got wedged on pelvis). I will spare you the full story (you can read her birth story here) but what I will say is that after about a minute of not hearing her cry followed by a 2- day NICU stay, both my husband and I left that experience scarred.

Going forward, knowing we wanted to try for another kiddo, we started to research and after meeting with our wonderful midwife practice they explained to us that a shoulder dystocia incident is often unpredictable and not necessarily a reason for a c-section. Despite a c-section being my previous OBGYN’s recommendation, our new midwife practice told us that they’d support any decision we made. However, they did recommend that if a vaginal delivery was our hope, it would be best to go unmedicated so that I could move around and get myself into positions that made my pelvis a bit more “optimal.”

So with that in mind, we prepped for the remaining 9 months. We took hypnobirthing classes so that we could better work on our mindsets, I started visiting a chiropractor to better align my pelvis and then hired a doula. We put in a ton of preparation. However, our little man had different plans. At 34 weeks, we found out our guy was transverse and from here he kept us on our toes as he continuously switched back and forth from being head down to sideways. Finally at 37 weeks, when he had literally been head down the week previous, he was back to being transverse again which meant we’d need to visit with the partnering OBGYN practice if we wanted to get him manually turned.

Now I’m not one who believes that there is some grand plan in place by God but I do believe that certain things just happen when needed and this was one of those times. Funny enough, when we went to the OBGYN, we learned that our boy was back to being head down. However, since this was the first time meeting with a doctor and reviewing our medical history and hearing our birth experience with Cassidy, he highly suggested we consider a C-Section. Why? Well because our little shoulder dystocia experience wasn’t so little after all. As he explained, we had about a 10% chance of it happening again and since our daughter did have be monitored in the NICU afterwards, that told him that it was a much more serious incident and one we were lucky to have made it out of without her being effected permanently.

Of course, this entire time we knew their would be risks with trying for a vaginal delivery but hearing it put into words again and reminded of how severe our experience was, we knew a c-section would be the safest option. Sure it would require more recovery and come with its own set of risks but it better guaranteed our boy arriving safe, healthy and happy. I wouldn’t have ever been able to forgive myself had we pursued a vaginal delivery and end up in another similar predicament or worse. Once again, this is when I really look back and think there was some divine intervention in play.

Preparing for Surgery

So going forward in choosing a c-section, we were given two options: either we could schedule a date (anytime after we hit 39 weeks), or we could wait until I went into labor naturally. For us, with having Cassidy to think about, living an hour away from the hospital, and Keven having work obligations, it was much easier to go ahead and schedule our c-section to be done exactly on the day I hit 39 weeks. September 19th, 2019, had a great ring to it.

So when that day came, we were told that we had to be at the hospital 2 hours ahead of time. Since our section was scheduled for 9am, this meant we had to be there by 7 AND since we live about an hour away from the hospital, this meant that we’d need to be up super early.

Once we got there, we went straight to the labor and delivery ward and went to the lady at the front desk. She had all of our paperwork set and was expecting us so it was pretty straightforward from there. After waiting about 15 minutes for a nurse to come and grab us, we were brought back to the prep area. This is where I got on my gown, got an IV, had fetal monitors placed, was asked basic health questions, met with the entire surgical staff and then waited.

Funny enough, during this time, our decision to have a c-section was reinforced when we learned that our little acrobatic baby was at lying transverse. Yes, he was no longer head down. As the doctor later said, there was clearly something going on with my pelvis that just did not want to birth a baby. In fact, that makes perfect sense considering all the pain and problems I had been experiencing this pregnancy with my pelvic and SI joint area. I can’t even imagine what might have happened had be tried going for a vaginal delivery.

Additionally, during our prep is where I got to meet with one of our midwives on call. Even though they wouldn’t have any part in the surgery itself, the midwife would still accompany me into the O.R. and basically be on my side of things so that they could ensure the delivery went as much in my favor as possible. Essentially they would be the ones in there to make sure the team stuck as closely to my birth plan and make me feel at ease. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed this and how thankful I am to have had their support.

As opposed to an emergency c-section this preparation as a whole was what set the mood for the entire rest of the delivery. Not only was I able to calmly prepare myself but I was able to walk in knowing I had such a supportive surgical staff. I knew that even though it was a major surgery and one I was scared of, they all had my back and would make sure both my baby and I came out safe.

The Surgery

So when it was time to get started, they had me walk in first with my midwife so that I could get the spinal administered. Again, this was where I was thankful for having worked with midwives. They were able to be by my side during this process, since Keven couldn’t come in. The O.R. was cold and bright and a bit intimidating at first but the staff waiting were all smiles and very personable, which helped ease me.

Now if you have ever given birth and had an epidural, the spinal was fairly similar. The only difference is that there is no catheter with a spinal. Instead there is one injection to numb and then another injection which goes into your spinal column and numbs your entire lower body, from your nipples down. It felt mostly like a bee sting and then sudden warmth. It was quick and painless and took effect fairly quick. Best of all, it actually felt really relaxing. However, I was told it was probably the tiny bit of morphine found in the spinal medicine that was making me feel good. Either way, I had zero complaints!

From here on out, the team asked if I wanted any specific music on, set up the drape (we decided not to go with a clear drape although this is very common with “gentle c-sections”), put an oxygen mask on me and then Keven was walked in to sit by my head. Thats when I heard the OBGYN say, “making first incision.” I’ll admit, I think I held my breath afraid I was about to feel it but I definitely did not and surgery was underway. Aside from a few occasional moments of nausea, which the anesthesiologist treated with a counter medicine, I felt perfectly fine. This, I was told, is a common to thing to happen as a result of the spinal medicine affecting your blood pressure and from your internal organs being moved about. Thankfully, I knew this prior and was sure to speak up ASAP so that I never puked.

I should also mention that at no time did I ever feel “out of it” or loopy. After hearing from others that this had happened to them during their c-sections, I made sure to discuss this with our anesthesiologist before hand. It was also stated in my birth preference sheet as well. From my understanding, this can happen as the the result of anti-anixety medication being given, which is not the standard practice. As our anesthesiologist explain, he prefers to avoid such medications unless absolutely necessary or personally requested.

Aside from all of this, the first 10 minutes or so was pretty uneventful. However at 9:50 a.m., Keven and I heard the doctor say “why hello Spencer!” That followed by a giant cry. Our little boy had been born and as you’d expect, I immediately broke down in tears. To hear that cry was all that mattered, especially since during Cassidy’s delivery we had to wait for that. Keven and I celebrated with a kiss and then I sent him over to the area in the room where the staff were getting the main vitals on Spencer.

Even though I couldn’t see him for the first 5 minutes, the staff was excellent in that they kept him in the same room and then also made sure to yell out everything they were doing so that I could be involved. Once all looked good the midwife then grabbed him and brought him to do skin-to-skin while they finished stitching me up. This was the one perk of having a “gentle c-section.” The rest of the surgery from here took about 35/40 minutes. However, the rest of that time was of no bother to me. All that mattered was that I had my baby on my chest. Since I never had that moment with Cassidy, this meant everything to me.


Once surgery was complete, Keven and I got to spend some time in the recovery area with our newest bundle of joy. While we were there my vitals were monitored for about 90 minutes and we got to try breastfeeding. After everything seemed good to go, we were wheeled to the maternity floor, which is where we’d spend the rest of our 3 day stay.

Now I don’t want to get to into the specifics of recovery (because I think that deserves a post of its own) but I will say that while it certainly wasn’t the easiest, it was not impossible. In fact, I think my recovery was worse with Cassidy. Additionally, mindset was most definitely the biggest factor in my recovery. Fortunately, the one perk of knowing I was having a c-section was that I could do my homework, educate myself on what to expect and prepare for the discomfort. I can’t imagine going into this major surgery unprepared or without warning. So with that in mind, if there any pregnant mamas out there reading this, please do yourself a favor and do your homework just incase. 1 out of 3 women will end up with a c-section so while it isn’t always planned for, it is certainly a possibility in any birth.

Final Thoughts

This birth experience was amazing. Sure, a c-section wasn’t my preferred delivery, but it allowed me a chance to regain what I had lost when Cassidy was born: CONTROL. I wanted to make a choice on how things went, how I’d feel and most of all, ensure I gave my son the best chance possible at a healthy delivery. Yes, I put in a lot of preparation into a vaginal birth but I’ve come to accept that that wasn’t in store for us and most likely never will be again. It doesn’t mean my body failed me or that I gave up. Instead, in my eyes, I made an even bigger sacrifice. I chose the path less traveled and in the end ended up with a gift greater than anything. I’d do it all again a million times and wouldn’t change a thing.

So with that being said, welcome to the world my sweet little boy. Spencer Michael Hendricks, you are a dream come true. Thank you for picking me to be your mama

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When I found out that we were indeed expecting again, the one thing we knew was that we wanted this time to be different. Now don’t get me wrong, my first pregnancy was pretty flawless but when it came to her delivery, it was traumatic. Aside from experiencing a scary situation (check out Cassidy’s birth story here to see what I’m referring to), the thing that we say most affected us in her birth was the feeling of complete lack of control. I didn’t know what decisions to make, what to reject, and what to ask for. In summary, I was not a very good advocate for myself.

Of course, in any pregnancy and labor, there is only so much a person can do. In fact, that’s pretty much true in all aspects of life. Some things just can’t be planned for. Instead, all we can do is hope for the best. This very approach was the exact thing we wanted to acknowledge this time. We wanted to stay realistic but also not be afraid to tailor requests based on our desires. We didn’t want to create a birth plan but rather we wanted to create a birth preference.

Whats the difference? Well a birth preference sheet maintains structure while still remaining fluid. It takes into consideration that things at the end of the day may not always go exactly how we want them to. Instead, a birth preference sheet gives a general idea or rough blue print to your practitioner of how you’d like for things to occur so that they can best help you meet those goals. They might not be able to adhere to it all but at least they can try and get some things matched.

So with that being said, I created three different birth preference sheets: one for a unmedicated vaginal delivery and one for a cesarean and then one for a general vaginal delivery, in the case an epidural is requested. 

Now with all birth preferences, I should note that each hospital has its own sets of protocol and procedure. For example, our hospital is one of the leaders in New Jersey to do “gentle c-sections.” Because of this, that is what the birth plan follows and is structured for. I’d recommend you check with your doctor and hospital to see how they operate. Another thing to keep in mind is that we are going in for an elective c-section so this obviously means things should run a tad more smoothly than it would if it were an emergency.

Trust me, I know how easy it can be to set your mind to a specific idea of how you want your birth to be. I did this with Cassidy (my first), did it with my son (my second) but with my third I am leaving it up to fate. While I know that I can’t ever say with absolute uncertainty that things will go according to plan, I know that with the help of a well structured birth preference sheet, I can better prepare and set myself up for a birth that is as close to perfect as possible.

For an Unmedicated Vaginal Delivery:

For a Medicated Vaginal Delivery

For a Elective C-Section