Carina Marie's Birth Story

Mother: Jennifer sbrocchi

Baby: Carina Marie 

Date: May 7, 2018

Location: NYU Winthrop

JMAC-family2018-39.jpg

In most of my prenatal yoga classes, you can usually hear me say every pregnancy and every labor is different. You would think I would heed my own advice... Since my pregnancies felt very similar, I assumed the labor would probably look and feel the same. My labors with Ava and Carina weren't vastly different in the sense that I had the unmedicated, spontaneous delivery that I hoped for. However, the way we got there varied greatly!

At 36 weeks I started to see my midwife for weekly checkups. Each visit, she would remark how low Carina's head was in my pelvis and say, "I'm not sure how you're walking." (She was right, it wasn't easy to walk or teach or do yoga for that matter!) Then she would end the appointment saying, "You probably won't make it to your appointment next week, I'll see you soon." After going almost two weeks past my due date with Ava, I was so ready to have Carina early! I am not one of those glowy pregnant mothers, telling everyone that I love every kick and flutter. By 36 weeks, the novelty of sharing my body with another human, even if it's my baby, wore off. Every cramp had me on the edge of my seat, thinking maybe this will be it. Yet, there I was at my 37, 38 and 39 week appointments feeling frustrated and doubting that I would birth Carina by our "due date".

JMAC-family2018-27.jpg

The Friday before my due date, I had a few contractions that felt different than the mild cramps I felt for the last 3 or 4 weeks. It was 4:30 in the morning, when Matt's alarm goes off, and I went into the bathroom and was excited to see that I had lost my mucous plug or so charmingly named "the bloody show". This was how Ava's birth began and to err on the side of caution I asked Matt to stay home from work. An hour passed and then the whole day and there were no more contractions. Saturday was much of the same, absolutely no contractions. Disappointed, I decided to see my acupuncturist on Sunday morning, the day of my due date. I was hoping maybe a session could get things started, or at least ease my anxiety.

I tried to keep myself busy after acupuncture, just accepting the fact that Carina was not arriving on her "due date" and that I must make cozy homes for my babies! Around 10pm that night I started to feel more of the mild cramps that I was experiencing for the last month. The cramps started to increase in frequency, but not in intensity. I figured maybe I should start seeing if a pattern emerged and opened up the contraction timer app. I was having one every 20 minutes. Then it went to every 10 minutes then back up to every 17 minutes. By 1am I was second guessing if I was even having contractions... could it it be gas? I finally fell asleep and woke up around 3:45am with a contraction that felt nothing like those earlier ones. It was different, it felt deep, very deep. And then I felt a pop and liquid. I tried to arouse Matt from his deep sleep and told him I thought my water broke. Without even turning over, he said, "Are you sure you didn't pee yourself." Cue my eyes rolling. I ran to the bathroom and indeed my water broke and it was slightly tinted brown which worried me. If your fluids are brown, baby passed meconium and it can be a risk, you usually have to go to the hospital right away. We called our midwife and she told us to wait until my contractions were 5 minutes apart.

I started having the more intense contractions but still found myself second guessing whether each feeling I had was actually a contraction or not. My mom got to our house at 4:30am and the contractions picked up in intensity. I breathed my way through and Matt decided it was time to leave. I was so torn on leaving, my contractions still weren't as painful as I had remembered with Ava and they weren't exactly 5 minutes apart but having some brown in the fluids made me concerned. So off we went on the dreaded car ride to the hospital. Thankfully, early in the morning we zipped right to the hospital and I had maybe one intense contraction in the car. 

JMAC-family2018-99.jpg

It wouldn't be one of my birth stories if I gave birth in the hospital before becoming an official patient. We got to the hospital and at admitting they couldn't find my pre-registration paperwork. The staff member wasn't allowing us to enter until our paperwork was complete. Matt was amazing simultaneously dealing with filling out forms while massaging my lower back through a contraction, just how we practiced. My midwife found us and told us to forget the paperwork and just get in the room. I was expecting to hear that I was only 5 or 6cm dilated, based on how the contractions felt. To my surprise, I was 9cm and she said almost ready to push. I couldn't believe it. At that point I had maybe 5 intense contractions where I couldn't speak and needed to focus solely on my breath and movement to get through. My midwife was amazing and helped me onto all fours on the hospital bed. She made me as comfortable as I could be in the hospital. She had me just breathe Carina down in this position until I felt ready to push. I worked though a couple of contractions in this position until it was time. During my checkups, I had discussed pushing in different positions. As a yoga teacher, one specializing in prenatal yoga, I had become hyper aware of my pelvic floor and told my midwife that I felt the left side was tighter than the right and I was worried about damage being done during the pushing phase. We agreed that pushing while lying on my right side might be the best, but we would always re-evaluate when the time came. There I was lying on my right side, everything was going according to plan.

Here's the part that was very different to my labor with Ava. The pushing phase was hard and intense. I think with Ava I got to the hospital after 6 hours of labor and she was on the way out, there was not much "pushing" I needed to do, my body did most of the work for me. She was crowning before I even got to the delivery room. This time around there was a lot more conscious effort on my part to get Carina out. Matt was holding my top leg and I was overthinking the whole process. I was trying to find my abdominals instead of straining and pushing with my upper body, as I tell my students in every class, and suddenly my core was nowhere to be found. We were doing intermittent fetal monitoring and my midwife told us that Carina's heart rate was dropping and there was definitely meconium in the fluid and we needed to change something fast. I started to panic and she calmed me down and coaxed me into rolling over onto my left side. Honestly, traveling from my right to laying on my left side was probably the most painful part of the entire experience - my body didn't want to cooperate. But, that change in position was exactly what Carina needed and her heart rate became normal. I became more focused and found pulling on my top leg activated my abs to assist with the pushing. I finally started to get my breath and body coordinated and was making progress getting Carina down. When the nurses exclaimed they could see her head full of hair I was able to muster up every ounce of energy I had left. For the last few pushes, I rolled onto my back and pulled on the back of both legs. Carina's head was out, then her shoulders. At 6:02 am, my midwife had me put my hands on my belly and with one last push Carina was out and in my hands and I got to pull her onto my chest, a moment that I will never forget. 

JMAC-family2018-70.jpg

My midwife was instrumental in getting us to have a few minutes of skin to skin before they whisked Carina away to be evaluated because of the meconium present. Soon enough, Carina was deemed to be healthy and intervention was not necessary. She was back in my arms on my chest and we could finally begin enjoying that golden hour. 

All in all, my labor was just over 2 hours. I felt an immense appreciation for my breath, Matt's calm demeanor and for the wonderful care my midwife provided, advocating for us every step through the process. That's exactly what I wish for parents, to feel surrounded by a positive and supportive birthing team. 

Ava's Faves // 22/23 Months

Any other toddler parents out there feel like they go to sleep one night and the next morning their child grew exponentially over night. I swear I placed my daughter in her crib and the next morning she's speaking in sentences and demanding syrup with her waffles! 

I love this phase of life with Ava. Having her communicate more has made things much easier for both of us. She blabbers away a mile a minute and she's speaking in cohesive sentences that make sense. Finger crossed, we haven't had many melt downs lately. The best part is, she'll randomly start saying, "I love Mama. I love Daddy. I love Charlie." I made sure to record that to show to her in her teenage years when she needs a reminder!

Unfortunately, July was a difficult month and my husband was home for most of it. The only benefit to this is Ava has turned into a complete daddy's girl. The first morning Matt went back to work, she seemed extremely disappointed to see me greet her in the morning. First thing she said was, "Where's Daddy?" Although it was under challenging circumstances, seeing Matt and Ava's bond strengthen has made me so happy. I'm still the person who she turns to when she's hurt or upset but I love watching the two of them laugh and have fun together. 

ACTIVITIES

Ava loves everything about animals - reading about them, seeing them, feeding them. We went to White Post Farms with our friends, and the girls got to feed goats and a giraffe, and see all sorts of animals. Ave even enjoyed a pony ride. Ava kept talking about our trip to see the animals so we took her to the Queens Zoo that following weekend. She got to see a bald eagle and sea lions which made for a happy girl. 

If you follow me on Instagram, you've probably seen some videos of Ava dancing. Every day we ask "Alexa" to play the Beatles and she does a cute little shimmy. She loves to have music playing during all of her meals.

TOYS

Ava's over bubbles and rather play inside now, I don't think she's a fan of the hot days. Her play kitchen is getting a lot more use lately. She loves playing with her coffee maker, ice cream set, and cookies. Every morning when I brew my coffee, she runs to get her mug and shouts, "It's coffee time!" 

Her imagination is starting to come alive. She has a few sets of Little People and I'll catch her setting up a table and placing them around it and saying they're eating dinner. My favorite thing to do is stepping back and watching her play. 

FOOD

Ava's clearly inherited my sweet tooth. Girl loves her fruit and ice cream. We try to make ice cream a special weekend treat so it's something we look forward to.

Once dinner rolls around, I'm still having a hard time getting her to try meat and eat veggies she once loved. I've found that when I limit her afternoon snack to a cup of berries, she's much more open to eating a variety of food at dinner time. My other trick is mixing food with rice. I've been making riced cauliflower and peas and carrots and mixing that with brown rice and Ava's been gobbling it up.



Baby Free in Bermuda

Why You Should Take A Baby Free Vacation

The first year of parenthood is filled with many highs and lows. Of course, you fall in love with this little person you both created and it can be blissful and fufilling, but it also comes with many challenges, like arguing with your partner over swaddling strategies at 3am. I won't lie and say having a baby made marriage any easier. It surely made us work harder on our relationship, trying to find time for just the two of us, in between all the feedings and diaper changes. Our time to connect was limited and we didn't have a night to ourselves until Ava was 13 months - and that was it one night and back to baby duties the next morning. 

I'm fortunate that since that first sleepover at my parents' house, Ava loves sleeping and spending time there. So, when the opportunity to go to Bermuda for a friend's wedding came, we jumped right in and decided to leave Ava at home with my parents. 

The time away from her was just what we needed. It was only for 3 days, but it was nice to be carefree and have some freedom that gets lost when you become a parent. Matt and I had time to really talk, hike and go paddle boarding, stay out past midnight, and lounge in bed until 11 am. 

We missed Ava, of course. Every time we saw a parent and their toddler in the pool, we would turn to each other and say how much Ava would love it here. We also bothered my mom to send us pictures to see what they were up to. The time apart made me appreciate being a mom and as you know, distance makes the heart grow fonder! I highly recommend parents getting away, even if it's just for a small trip. You deserve a break and quality time together. 

Where to Stay in Bermuda

Now I'll get into how Bermuda was... it's probably one of the most beautiful islands I've been too. The pink sand beaches were breathtaking and the landscape was dotted with beautiful pastel colored homes. The locals were friendly and always had a smile. We stayed at the Fairmont Southampton, which was walking distance from some of the island's best beaches. 

View from our room at the Fairmont Southampton

View from our room at the Fairmont Southampton

Private beach at the Fairmont Southampton

Private beach at the Fairmont Southampton

What to Do in Bermuda

We spent one morning exploring the different beaches. We started out at Horseshoe Bay and walked the trail to Warwick Long Bay. We took our time and went to the tops of the cliffs that overlooked the small beaches and followed the footpaths to Chaplin Bay, Stonehole Bay, and Jobson's Cove. Once we reached Jobson's Cove we took a dip in the chilly water and enjoyed having an almost private beach to ourselves. We went back to Jobson's Cove and climbed up one of the cliffs to get a beautiful panoramic view. 

Bermuda's famous pink sand beaches - this is Warwick Long Bay

Bermuda's famous pink sand beaches - this is Warwick Long Bay

Matt living on the edge...

Matt living on the edge...

Taking a dip in Jobson's Cove

Taking a dip in Jobson's Cove

Our friend's wedding ceremony was at Stonehole Bay and it was a gorgeous background. In the waves behind them, you can see brightly colored parrot fish. The weather was perfect. You really couldn't ask for a more perfect night. They held the reception on a boat that sailed around the harbor. We caught the most magical sunset!

With Lindsay, the most stunning bride!

With Lindsay, the most stunning bride!

With my handsome date, also Bermuda gave me some really good hair days!

With my handsome date, also Bermuda gave me some really good hair days!

We had plans to do so many other things, but the day after the wedding we ended up moving very slowly after one too many Dark and Stormy's. Instead we lounged around the hotel and relaxed by the pool, which was so refreshing. The flight from JFK to Bermuda is 1 hour and 40 minutes, so we're already planning a trip back, maybe this time with Ava! I would have liked to have seen Crystal Caves and the St. George's area. 

Where to Eat and Drink in Bermuda

We had a long list of places to eat, partially thanks to my brother who spent some time on the island for work. We had breakfast and lunch at our hotel, which was delicious. 

One night, we met up with my friend and the rest of her wedding guests at the Royal Naval Dockyard and we ate at Frog and Onion, and had your usual pub food. Matt and I each got a flight of beers from Dockyard Brewing Co., which is Bermuda's only microbrewery. The same restaurant catered the food for the wedding and I couldn't get over how good the pulled pork was! 

Another spot we went to for drinks was Calico Jack's, which is a pirate themed floating bar, even equipped with a plank where you can jump into the water. 

Trying out some local beer.

Trying out some local beer.

Exploring the Royal Naval Dockyard.

Exploring the Royal Naval Dockyard.

On our last night, Matt and I took a ferry into the city of Hamilton and walked around a bit. We stopped at Harry's for a pre-dinner drink and it was clearly a popular happy hour spot. Bermuda is home to many financial service companies, so it felt like we were at a NYC happy hour, except everyone had a healthy tan. So we opted to keep walking and went to the 1609 Bar, which is located at the Hamilton Princess, where we were having dinner. The bar was outside on a marina. Afterwards, we ate dinner at Marcus, which is chef Marcus Samuelsson's restaurant. The food was delicious, I would highly recommend the duo of crudo and the churros for dessert!

Very sunny evening in Hamilton. I had to get a picture in front of a pastel blue wall.

Very sunny evening in Hamilton. I had to get a picture in front of a pastel blue wall.

Waiting for the ferry.

Waiting for the ferry.


Our Weaning Story

Our Weaning Story

In my latest Real Mom Story, I'm sharing my experience weaning Ava from breastfeeding. Although not easy to talk about, I wanted to be honest about what I went through. I would love to hear from all of you and how you dealt with any emotions that came with weaning! If you would like to share your story, please send me a message.