Top 10 COVID-19 Resource Guide for Pregnancy, Childbirth and PostPartum Mothers

Times are tough. These days, none of us really know how to navigate the waters but for Pregnant Moms right now, this is scary. We are being told that we may have to deliver alone, we are worried about our children’s health (and our own) and we are constantly adapting to new policies and learning to accept the changes being made for us. There has been too much disappointment for Mamas that are being forced to cancel their baby showers and go it alone at appointments.

I am currently 7 months pregnant with our second child and I cannot begin to tell you all the fears and worries that have crossed my mind during this shelter in place. I was beginning to feel a bit lost and then I remembered something that my sister in law told me when she was going through her infertility journey. She said that a friend had told her “If you cannot control your own situation, I want to encourage you to try and help someone else.” So, this is my attempt to help other Pregnant Mamas out there who are dealing with all the “what-ifs” right now. The following list is compiled of ten resources that I hope will aid Moms in finding some sort of relief during this time.

#1 The Natural Mama Book

This was my Go-To Guide during my first pregnancy. A friend recommended the book and although I had a feeling that I would not be taking the all-natural birth route, it was nice to have all the information. In reality, you never know what is going to happen when babies decide to make their way into the world. My birth plan most definitely involved wanting an epidural or some kind of medical relief but this book prepared me for the possibility of delivering without any interventions. I also loved this book because it had a week by week guide to pregnancy (and was pretty spot on). My favorite part of this guide was the positive affirmations laced throughout the text. Those excerpts were just the boost of confidence I needed to get through each trimester.

mama natural

#2 LouLou and Company

Do yourself a favor and splurge on this one baby item. Head to the LouLou and Company website and get yourself a knotted Newborn gown. Styled for both boy and girl babies, this is all we dressed our first baby in for the first few weeks of life and I promise you this purchase is worth every penny!

The gowns are super soft, designed to dress baby from the bottom up and have little cuff fold overs to prevent those tiny scratches. Dads will love the knot at the bottom for middle of the night diaper changes and Moms will love that Dads are letting them get a few extra minutes of sleep. The founder/creator of Lou Lou, Karen, was a NICU nurse and is a mom of 4 who designed these gowns with moms and babies in mind so each detail has been meticulously designed for comfort and ease! I love all their products but this gown is my go-to for that 4th trimester!

lou lou and company gown

#3 Join your local Hospital Facebook Group

I delivered our first child at a North Texas Health Resource Hospital and I found that the Texas Health Moms Facebook Group has been a huge support system. Whether I needed consultation on lacatation, recommendations for registry items, fitness routines or simply questions about sleep patterns, this community provided answers and resources that Could not be rivaled. In fact, I have found the best advice to come from other Moms that are in the same stage of life and this group was a game changer for me.

#4 Dive into the magic that is Kati Terek’s Birth Story Blog.

Her Birth Story chronicles autobiographical encounters of real live birth stories from courageous women who chose to spill the tea on their experiences! Some of these birth stories are fairy tale-come to life retellings, some are harder versions to swallow but all of them are a beautiful ode to the process of bringing new life into the world. Each story has a different purpose. For some women, informing others is transformative. For others, simply to unburden the trauma or stress is therapeutic. The “Her Birth Story” platform’s purpose is to spread awareness and help Mamas prepare for everything from that first positive test to the tender days of newborn life.

Admittedly, Kati Terek says that her birth experiences were, although beautiful, quite scarring and she wanted an outlet. If you are a first time Mama and you want to read up on real birth stories instead of diving into YouTube videos, this Blog is your go to! And, did I mention that Kati is a talented birth, Fresh 48 and Newborn Photographer who loves nothing more than to capture those raw and real first moments with your bundle of joy. If you are a Pittsburgh native, Kati is your girl to go to for documenting those first moments. She captured her own Fresh 48 photos when her little guy made his appearance in the spring of 2019 and was kind enough to let me show them off below! Check it out! Her rates can be found at www.londynnkate.photography/.

#5 Sign up for Diaper Delivery Mamas.

A few I love and have used, Amazon, Hello Bello or Honest Company will deliver both wipes and diapers for every stage (even split sizes for Mamas with kids in diapers at different stages). Save your selves the time and energy (and cash) by ordering a Diapery Delivery service! Every month, they just show up. No carrying the boxes out of the store or having to remember when to go grab them at a PickUp. Trust me, this is worth it.

#6 Use your Natural Birthing Technique Experts!

A sweet friend of mine, Hannah Laboon, is a certified doula and has made her self available for questions from you Mamas that are worried about having to deliver alone due to new hospital visitor policies or how to conquer Home Birth, Natural Birth and all those crunchy Mama ideals!

She has sent me so many positive affirmations, information on prenatal yoga classes that are live streaming (@mamatotoretreat), support groups focused in coping skills (@forwardwellnesscounseling) and placenta encapsulation benefit details! She recently said “We [as women] are divine, feminine oracles of the universe” and hopes to help you come to terms with that truth! Find her on Instagram at @hannapropaganda or reach out on email at hannahschultz@ymail.com. She wants Mamas to know that they can reach out for support simply because she is a woman wanting to help, honor and support other women. Her goal is to provide pressure free communication and be a pillar of support in the birthing community. 

doula

#7 A Quicklist of Postpartum Items that will make your life so much easier when you bring that sweet new baby home!

Every Mama and each baby has different needs but I know that these items are the ones we will have ready to go when our second baby makes his way into the world!

#8 Tips for Taking your Own Newborn Photography!

Having a baby during a pandemic doesn’t make your birth any less special, it just kind of puts a meter on the amount of joy you are supposed to feel and that isn’t fair! New moms are having to cancel their baby showers, forego perusing the aisles of Buy Buy Baby and worst of all, are being forced to cancel their Newborn Sessions.

I cherished my Fresh 48 session with our firstborn and it has made me terribly sad thinking that I won’t get to have this experience with our little guy this summer so trust me when I say, I feel you! Those first few weeks with your babe is time you simply don’t get back. Once that baby leaves your belly, they just keep on growing and capturing those first details are such a sweet reminder of those crazy newborn days and the abundant amount of joy you feel when you bring that baby home.

Well, I found a solution for all you Mamas out there who are bummed about missing out on this milestone. Sabrina Gebhardt Photography, out of Fort Worth, Texas, has come up with a beautiful guide for Spring and Summer Mamas being forced to forego Newborn Photos. Check out her Photos below and you will see exactly why I am recommending you read her Guide! Her guide gives you tips and tricks for how to take your own Newborn Portraits. All you need is a squishy babe and some sort of camera and yes, your phone will do! sabrina-gebhardt-fort-worth-texas-documentary-at-home-family-photographer_2104-1022x1024**Photo Credit: Sabrina Gebhardt Photography*

#9 Meal Train

Oh Mamas, there is nothing worse than worrying about what’s for dinner or how you are going to concoct something when your new baby is having a fussy day. If your family or friends are looking for ways to help you/sneak a peek at your new baby through a window or door, please suggest meal train. Meal Train is an American crowdsourced platform designed with the intention to help schedule and organize home-made meal giving for those in need.

How does it work? Someone sets up the account (dietary restrictions can be included) and then that person sends out the invites to your loved ones who can then schedule a day to provide a meal and drop it off. Everyone who signs up can see what you are bringing and what day and time you will be there so no one overlaps! Dare I say this is a Must Have service for those first few weeks!

meal train

#10 For many families dealing with COVID-19 repercussions, Financial Resources cannot come soon enough.

This pandemic has stolen livelihoods and replaced any sense of security with fears about where their next meal is coming from or how their mortgage will be paid. If you are one of those people, please let me know. There won’t be any questions asked. You can simply email me at therustienailhead@gmail.com with the COVID BABY subject line and I will do my best to provide you with the help you need.

It would be my pleasure to unburden the load of worry from your shoulders. If I can help in any way, I will. I can try to provide you with information on how to sign up for WIC, where to find a food bank, how to seek religious/mental health counseling, safe shelter, gas for your car or diapers for your little ones. Whatever I can do, I promise that I will advocate for you. It takes a village and I will do my best to provide you with the information you need to build up that village for your family.

 

Cover Photo Courtesy of @StefanieRosePhotography 

 

Lucy’s Birth Story

It has been a whole year (cue the ugly tears) so I thought it was past time that I share Lucy’s Birth Story with you guys. Our journey to bringing our sweet girl into the world was a smooth one and I am thankful to share such a joyous moment of our lives with you all.

I went in for my 39 week check up with our doctor, Dr. Jonathon Snead with Alliance Women’s Healthcare. I was pretty sure he was going to tell me that I hadn’t made any progress and that our baby would come when he or she was ready. But, to my surprise, he said that I was 3 cm dilated and 90% effaced. All signs said that baby was ready to make her way into the world!

I had read a million books on how to have a baby naturally and thought that I would be hell-bent on waiting for her to make her arrival in her own time. But, our Doctor surprised us when he said that he would be out of town the following week. Just like that, we scheduled an induction for her due date. lucy 3

We arrived at Texas Health Resources Harris Methodist at Alliance at 6:30 in the morning on August 30th. Within the first hour, Dr. Snead came in and broke my water and then I was hooked up to the Pitocin to start contractions. Considering how determined I was to have a natural childbirth, I couldn’t help but laugh when it came to my birth plan.

Pretty much everything that I had planned was out the window before we even got to the hard part. I tried to do natural labor. I did heavy breathing for almost 5 hours before I got on all fours and told our nurses (Marta + Katrina’s, aka legit angels on Earth) that it was time for the CRNA to bring me that sweet relief.  I had come in at a 3 and made it to a 6 before getting the epidural.

Shortly after I got the epidural, I could tell that something was wrong. But, to be honest, I felt great so I was kind of curious as to what could be happening. I could see the panic on Russell’s face. He said, “Ang, you are as white a ghost.” I could feel my breaths getting shorter and shorter but I felt so relaxed that I assured him everything was fine. The nurses were worried too.

They called the CRNA back in and as they monitored the baby’s progress, the nurse anesthetist administered ephedrine to speed  up my heart rate. I had to wear an oxygen mask for awhile but within minutes, I was back to feeling like me, me in labor but me nonetheless. The epidural was perfect once we calmed it down a bit. I could feel my legs and still knew when I was having contractions but I didn’t feel the pain anymore. We spent the next 2 hours watching Thor Ragnarok and filling out our Baby Book.

At around 2 PM, I started to feel my contractions coming on, really strong. I could feel intense pressure. Considering that both of my nurses had assured me that induced labor can last for days (though the average was 15 hours), I hadn’t even thought of the possibility that our baby would make her way into the world a mere hours after being induced. So, when Marta checked me and exclaimed that I was 10 cm and ready to go, I almost didn’t believe her. After all this waiting, these long 10 months, I felt a rush of panic like “Wait, like now? We’re going to have her now?” I texted our friends and family and said “It’s go time” but again, I was so very wrong.

lucy 3I assumed that when you reached 10 cm, it was time to starting pushing that little munchkin out. But, that was not the case. Our nurses called the doctor and he told them to have me sit in a chair for awhile and try to get some rest. So, from 2PM to 5PM, we sat and waited. We watched movies and prayed and I moved from side to side in anticipation all afternoon.

I could hear the machines beeping with every contraction and the monitor was letting us hear baby’s heartbeat. When 5 o clock on the dot hit, I knew right away that it was time. I told my nurses that they would need to get the doctor in our room or I was just going to do it on my own. I could feel the pressure, so intense, and Jumangi was playing in the background. Kevin Hart and Jack Black’s voices were drowning out the all the extra noise floating around the room. Marta checked me and said, “Yep, we’re ready. Baby is crowning!”

Dr. Snead showed up as if from out of nowhere  and it was officially go time. Russ stood by with his camera ready to go and a cup full of ice. At 5:01, I started pushing. At 5:08, our little girl was born. I literally could not believe it. I had no clue what the gender of our baby was. I am a planner and I knew that if I found out the sex, I would overexert myself trying to plan out all the little details. So, I chose not to find out. But, Russ did know. He had known for 5 months and never once did he spill the beans. In fact, he brought along a bag full of pink onesies and bows for Lucy and an “L” necklace for me.

I was so shocked when they told me it was a girl. My entire pregnancy I had thought she was a boy. I had called her Beau for months. I had packed all boy clothes in our Hospital Bag. Heck, I had spent the better part of August walking around Target buying boy clothes. I even brought a “Welcome to the World Robert Beauhannon” sign to the hospital and I was so very wrong. I was so surprised. I couldn’t stop crying and neither could our sweet girl.

All the books I read said that skin to skin contact would calm the baby and that giving birth would be this magical experience of bonding. Our sweet little girl literally wouldn’t stop crying. She had all of us on edge. I kept waiting for that peaceful moment but she was not having it. The book did have one thing right though…I was so in love with that little girl from the first moment they laid her on my chest. Even with all the screaming,  I had never seen anything more beautiful. Her nose was squished, her hair was blacker than night and her fingers were made for one day tickling the ivories. She was nothing I could of expected and in a wonderfully weird way, that was peace I sought.

On August 30th, 2018 at 5:08 PM, we welcomed our daughter, Rebecca Loucille, into the world. Weighing in at 7 pounds even and 19 1/4 inches long, Lucy made us a Family of 3.  Her name is derived from the Bible, Rebekah being a pillar of strength for her family and Loucille was a play on both of our Grandmother’s middle name, “Lou”.

Thanks for letting me share a little bit about our sweet baby and her entrance into the world. If you are expecting and have questions or simply just want someone to talk to, please feel free to reach out! I would love to be able to offer advice or answer any questions you might have about this next big adventure.

Huge thank you to our Fresh 48 Photographer for capturing Lucy’s first day in the world! Photo Credit: Stefanie Rose Photography

DFW Newborn Session: Meet Eleanor

Y’all this little girl is about to steal all your hearts. Meet Eleanor Kate Hamilton! Born on March 15th, I had the great pleasure of meeting this sweet baby girl on Day 11 for her first photo shoot. I am beyond thrilled to share a first look at Brenna and Jeff’s little peanut!

This particular set of photos was my favorite because this family just rocked it. Brenna has the brightest smile on her face and Dad, Jeff, cannot take his eyes off of their first born beauty. They all just seem so relaxed, right at home with their new baby!

I had the great pleasure of meeting this little lady’s Mama a few years ago through a mutual friend and way back then, I photographed her sweet pup, who now is long gone but still very much in Brenna’s heart. In fact, in the years since that shoot, Brenna has added a new pup to the family, Piper and this big sister is just smitten with the Hamilton Family’s new addition!

Weighing in at a solid 8 pounds, this little chunk was born with a full head of hair and what appears to be the prettiest blue eyes. So far, Mom and Dad say that her favorite thing to do is eat! Oh, and sleep! What a life!

Brenna and Jeff (and the new Grandma who was there to help) totally trusted my vision and invited me into their home to capture this lifestyle inspired newborn session. We kept it sweet and simple. I made sure to include lots of Mama loving on her baby girl and a ton from the perspective of little Ella in Daddy’s hands, as well as a few of Piper checking out her new roommate.

We had gorgeous light throughout the entire session and I love that each room in their house flooded with natural light in the afternoon. We managed to time feedings and shoot time perfectly. Not one tear was shed though we didn’t really give her a chance. If Eleanor looked even the bit sad, either Mom, Grandma, Dad or I would pick her up and give her hugs before she had a chance to get upset.

We ended the session by letting Eleanor just chill in her crib in her new nursery. Layered in pink lace ruffles and white bow, Eleanor Kate proved that she is in fact “more precious than rubies” and for that, I am thankful. Not only that this job allows me the pleasure of meeting and documenting such sweet baby’s first days in the world but that I know the joy their presence brings each family, especially the Hamiltons!

ELEANOR-89

For information on how to book an in home newborn session or a Fresh 48 Session, message me, Angelina, at therustienailhead@gmail.com and we can discuss package details, due dates and dreamy baby poses.