Knox: A Birth Story

IMG_1298_Layers_v1

Introducing our 3rd sweet boy, Knox Gannon Notes! He graced the world with his presence on Sunday August 19, 2018 at 6:48pm at 6 lbs 7.1 oz and 19 inches. I can’t believe today marks 3 weeks that he joined and completed our little family. We are so happy to have him here. Both Nico and Luca are over the moon and constantly fawning over our little guy. They don’t really understand that he mostly eats and sleeps in these early days, and they just want to play with him all day! They have taken on their new roles as big brother and big, big brother very well, and I couldn’t be more thrilled!

During my pregnancy with Knox, it was the first time I really felt strong signs that labor was going to be on the way. I was induced 2 weeks early with Nico due to IGR (intrauterine growth restriction — turns out he was fine, and just small, which was no surprise to me), and with Luca my water broke, but I never went into active labor and also had to be induced. This time around, I REALLY didn’t want to be induced. I was really hopeful that I would be able to go into labor on my own.

I started to see (well FEEL) signs of labor preparation as early as the 2nd trimester with Braxton Hicks contractions. I would feel them usually at nighttime when relaxing at the end of the day. This baby was larger than the others and he felt super heavy to carry around especially in that 3rd trimester. I tried to keep moving as much as I could throughout my pregnancy, but once about Week 37 hit, I was lucky if I got in one good workout per week. My body was OVER it!!!! I remember that after walking around, even just a little bit, I felt like I needed a huge rest after. It was uncomfortable to walk, get up and down, sleep at night, and even just drive my car. My baby was getting so big, and I only had so much room in my little 5’0 frame! I was READYYYY!

On my 34th Birthday, July 26th, we went to Coney Island as a family to celebrate with my boys along with my sister and brother-in-law. It was a really great day, but as we were walking around, if I started to walk too fast, I got SHOOTING pains going up through my body from below. I have since found out that this is a “thing” and it’s called “lightning crotch.” WHAT?!?! Haha, I know…I had no idea either. It didn’t feel at all like contractions, but I knew something was happening and he just HAD to be arriving soon!!!

Time passed, and then nothing…haha. I started to get super impatient. Started to do every little thing around the house…got the boys bunk beds, ordered all the baby things that we neglected to order earlier, started purging a bunch of toys we didn’t need anymore, cleaned out our office. Thank God hubby was on board to help with all of this. I was on a rampage and was starting to get super bored. I was too scared to go too far, because I was CONVINCED the baby was going to arrive any minute…but then he wasn’t coming and so it was a lot of days sitting at home in the AC and nesting nesting nesting away haha.

At my 38 week midwife appointment, they checked my cervix and I was already at 2cm dilated! Now for many, this may not seem like a big deal, but for someone who had only dilated on her own to 1cm in the past, I took this as a good sign. I had been eating TONS of dates, drinking loads of loose red raspberry leaf tea, taking primose oil capsules every day, and moving around as much as possible since about 36-37 weeks, so maybe something was working here! I was feeling more and more Braxton Hicks so I felt something must be happening soon.

A week goes by, and at my 39 week appointment, nothing had changed. I was a little defeated, but hey maybe he just wasn’t ready yet. Since this baby was bigger than my other two, I at least knew that he wouldn’t be evicted for an induction unless he was super late to arrive. That said…remember how READY I was? As much as I really truly wanted to enjoy all the kicks and feelings of my last pregnancy, I also was just very uncomfortable and wanted him to arrive ASAP! So when the midwife asked if I wanted her to strip my membranes, it was an immediate YES PLEASE!!! It took her awhile…apparently I have an oddly shaped cervix, but she eventually made it happen. This doesn’t work for everyone, but if it does, it usually helps to speed along labor to happen within 24-48 hours.

Welp, that time went by, and nothing was happening. I was still feeling contractions, but they weren’t strong and they definitely weren’t very regular. I started to become convinced that maybe he was never coming, and I would have to be induced again at the end of the month…

Nonetheless, we decided to have my mom come up the weekend before my due date so she would be here when it all went down to watch Nico and Luca. It’s funny because as soon as she got here, it was this overwhelming sense that okay, this might really happen soon. We were all ready to go. We stocked up on groceries at the Farmer’s Market that Saturday and walked around on that super hot day.

Next thing I remember is waking up the next morning to a long contraction that started out in my back and got stronger than normal. It was 5AM, and I was actually moaning in my sleep and it woke me up. 20 minutes later, it happened again, and I said…”Zack, today might be the day.” Now at the time, that statement didn’t carry a TON of weight, because I had been saying comments like this for about the past 3 weeks!!! Haha. So what did I really know? But it felt stronger than normal, and he couldn’t stay in there forever right?

The weird thing was…the WHOLE family woke up that morning at 5AM, which is very unusual. Zack was up…Nico and Luca came into our room…and even my mom was awake in the living room. It was a strange feeling like we all knew something was about to happen that day. Zack made us a big breakfast on my request (because I thought maybe it would be my last meal haha), and I felt contractions on and off that morning but generally about every 20 minutes.

As excited as I was that something may happen that day, I got slightly discouraged when after 5-6 hours nothing had really progressed. I was still feeling contractions, but they still weren’t super strong and they weren’t getting any closer together. Zack and I decided to go for a walk to try and get things moving while my mom stayed home with the boys. We walked and walked for about an HOUR, and at this point, I started to get PISSED. Haha. I think I only had 2 small contractions during that walk, and I was getting discouraged and uncertain. My mother in law (also a midwife) mentioned something about prodromal labor, which basically means you could feel these things and it could last a few days or even weeks before “real” labor begins. I was super frustrated, and decided to just lay down and rest after our walk.

At that point, I was texting some of my best friends, and they were all curious if anything had progressed. I mentioned to my childhood best friend Rhiannon what was going on, but that things weren’t really progressing. She wrote back that it sounded like it may happen soon, and told me, “It could change any moment.” LITERALLY a moment after her text arrived, I felt a huge GUSH!!!! And started saying, “Omg omg omg!!!” My water had BROKEN! And also, Rhi, I think you are psychic.

Now that my water had broken, it was a game changer. I knew this baby would be arriving no later then 24 hours later. Holy cow! This was getting REAL! This time around, my body knew what to do. In a short amount of time, my contractions started to get stronger and also closer together. It was happening pretty fast, and when they were about 5 minutes apart for about 30 minutes, we decided we should move in the direction of the hospital so that when things picked up we would be close by.

I had a few contractions on the way there that were pretty intense, but less than I had anticipated, and again started to question myself if we were going too early. Zack asked me if I wanted him to drop me off at the front of the hospital, but I didn’t want to wait alone or walk to labor and delivery by myself while he parked the car and brought in all of our stuff, so I told him it was no big deal to go with him to park, especially since my contractions had kind of slowed down.

Welp, I immediately regretted that decision! Haha. As soon as I stepped out of the car and started to walk, it was like contraction upon contraction…every couple steps I would have another one (yes on the street corner!) and have to bend over and breathe it out until it subsided and I could take a few more steps. That walk to the hospital from the parking lot across the street (and down the hill) was probably the most excruciating walk (and longest walk of such a short distance) of my life. And poor Zack was carrying a million things too.

By the time, I got to triage, I was in some serious contraction pain and definitely making some loud noise up in there! Lol. They checked me and I was already at 6cm dilated. So GOOD thing we decided to come to the hospital when we did. I did express that I would want an epidural, but things were moving pretty fast. The contractions were seriously painful and only a couple minutes apart, so there was very little time for rest.

I got to the labor and delivery room, and honestly I just remember screaming like a psychopath, excruciating contractions, my throat killing me from all the screams, and sweating profusely. It felt SO.DAMN.HOT. in there. I don’t know if it was just me, but it was terrible. In terms of the clock, my labor was going REALLY quick, but in my mind this felt like a fricken eternity. It kept getting more and more intense. The midwife questioned me getting an epidural at this point. She checked me and I had moved to 9cm. She told me I was so close, why would I get one at this point, and of course the competitive/challenger part of my personality was thinking, “Hey maybe she is right! Maybe I don’t need it!” And then another contraction would come and I would scream, “I’M DYING!!!!!!!!!!!” Hey…you guys wanted me to keep it real, right? LOL. She had me try to bear down a bit to get him to come down, and it felt so horrible to try and push, the contractions were still right on top of each other and I felt like I would have no energy to push and get through this pain at the same time.

So I tossed my challenger personality to the side and at that point, I very adamantly told them I wanted the epidural. I just needed some relief. They warned me that because it was so late, it may not fully take and that it may be harder to push and that I would have to sit VERY still while the anesthesiologist was inserting the needle, but I didn’t care. This mama wanted that relief and wanted it NOW! Part of me wonders what it would have been like to deliver fully au natural, but at the same time, I don’t regret my decision. Sometimes, us mamas have to do what is right for us in the moment and go with our gut, so that is what I did. Everyone is different, and I did what I felt I needed to do!

The hardest part of the labor was sitting still during 9+cm contractions while this doctor was putting in that epidural. I just kept telling myself “Don’t move, don’t die” lol. I knew that I had to get through this part without moving and just completely stay in my head until it was over for the sake of myself and my baby, and then I would feel some relief. As predicted, the epidural didn’t fully take since I was so far along and I could still feel some pain (although much less). They had to add to it two times before I stopped feeling the pain, and then at that point my legs were completely NUMB. Like way more numb than I had ever been with previous births. I couldn’t feel my legs at all. They felt like dead tree trunks. I thought to myself, “how am I ever going to push now if I can’t feel anything?”

The photo below is us after the epidural kicked in and right before pushing Knox into the world. I was a hot and sweaty mess after going through crazy labor, though the epidural did give me the shakes/chills. I was just happy to not be feeling the pain anymore…

IMG_4024_Layers_v1

Shortly after, Knox’s heart rate started to decelerate because he was dropping into the birth canal. Things were MOVING! It was a little scary and hectic, but it was time for me to push him the heck out. I don’t know how I did it, because I literally felt nothing below the waist, but I dug down deep into my abdomen or something and pushed with all my might. Luckily I am a pro-pusher haha, and he was out before I knew it and on my chest. They did have to rush him away after a minute to check on him because of the heart deceleration, but he was okay, and he was HERE!!!!

(And about 5 hours before his due date…already prompt from birth!)

IMG_0102_Layers_v1

IMG_0172_Layers_v1

It was a pretty surreal experience and so much different than my other two labor and delivery experiences. We had so many moments of calm and lots of time for photos with the other two. This time around, with being in 9+ cm of labor before an epidural it all just felt super intense and crazy and there was no time for any of that! Haha. When he arrived, I honestly just could not believe I was finally holding him in my arms, and I was so utterly happy that he was here and healthy. ❤

IMG_0154_Layers_v1

IMG_0185_Layers_v1

IMG_0184_Layers_v1

My post partum experience was a little crazy as well being at a different hospital than the other two. They had no private rooms available and Zack was unable to stay with me, so shortly after delivery, I was basically on my own (with a pretty terrible roommate quite honestly). Luckily my mother-in-law (who is also a midwife) had arrived at the hospital to meet the baby and check on me before they had to leave, because the post partum unit didn’t do a great job of checking on me that night. They did do a great job of keeping me awake though. We got about ONE measly hour of sleep that night…I was in a lot of pain because I had just delivered, but I had to care for the baby by myself and listen to my roommate having contractions next to me (because she hadn’t given birth yet apparently). When they finally moved her from the room, I was so relieved I could sleep…but then they came in to clean up the room in the middle of the night. Like, really? No sleep in Brooklyn apparently.

IMG_4109_Layers_v1

IMG_4106_Layers_v1

IMG_4112_Layers_v1

IMG_4111_Layers_v1

IMG_4115_Layers_v1

IMG_4130_Layers_v1

I tried my darndest to get out of the hospital a day early, but I had to spend another night there on my own during which Knox was cluster feeding like crazy to get my milk to come in. I also had to fight for a “baby friendly” experience as the staff kept trying to take my baby away to the nursery for every test, etc. and I kept having to remind them that “you are not taking my baby.” It was exhausting and difficult, but we eventually broke free from the hospital and came home.

Because discharge took so incredibly long, I was able to finally take a shower, put on some make-up and take a few photos with our sweet new baby.

IMG_4136_Layers_v1

IMG_1315_Layers_v1

IMG_1295_Layers_v1

IMG_1335_Layers_v1

IMG_1303_Layers_v1

IMG_4147_Layers_v1

IMG_1310_Layers_v1

IMG_1308_Layers_v1

IMG_1281_Layers_v1

IMG_1284_Layers_v1

Once we got home, I was so incredibly grateful to have my mom at our house for the week to help nurse me back to normalcy with her amazing food, helping with laundry and cleaning, and playing with the older boys. And Zack, of course, was also a HUGE help (and still is.)

The most difficult part of our journey thus far has been nursing. After 2 weeks, we discovered that Knox had a posterior tongue tie and lip tie resulting in some SERIOUS pain for this mama. I had felt pain in the beginning with the other two and figured it would subside eventually once he got a little bigger. But it never got any better, and I knew there was something else going on. So we decided to have the ties revised with a doctor who specializes in this field and will hopefully be working with a craniosacral therapist soon to help with getting Knox to open his jaw more, stretching the muscles, etc. so that we can have a better breastfeeding experience. I have felt a little improvement, but we still have a ways to go. I’m hopeful we will get there eventually.

The sleepless nights are tough, but with two other kiddos prior, I am used to no sleep, so that I can deal with! I know these early days are always tough in the beginning, but again…having been through it before, I know we will get into a routine soon, especially with the older boys having just started back at school. Tomorrow is Zack’s first day back to work, and I will be solo managing the 3 boys for the first time on my own! It will be a challenge, but we will find our groove.

In the meantime, I am holding onto ALL the amazing newborn snuggles and cuddles right now, and boy are they awesome. ❤

If you are still reading, thanks for sticking with me! I know that was long-winded, but if you know me by now, then you know I’m not a woman of few words haha.

Wishing you all a wonderful week ahead and a happy holiday to those celebrating tomorrow.

XO,

Gina

Luca: A Birth Story

IMG_9365_Layers_v1

It’s been over two weeks since the arrival of our second little monkey, Luca Ronaldo Notes. He arrived on Sunday August 23rd, 2015 at 1:39 am measuring in at 5 lbs. 4 oz and 19 inches. We are over the moon and so in love with our little guy.

He arrived during the 38th week just like his older brother Nico, only this time my story is slightly different. Throughout my pregnancy, Luca was measuring small (also like his brother), and they kept a watchful eye, but because of my history of having a small healthy child, they weren’t terribly concerned and basically left me alone treating me as a “normal” patient. However at the 37th week, my belly did not grow, and out came that watchful eye once more. I was scheduled for two appointments per week up until baby’s arrival and was told if the baby did not come by my due date (August 31) then we were going to have to talk about induction once again.

Welp, we definitely didn’t make it to the due date! Saturday morning (August 22nd) I woke up and felt some liquid (down there), went to the bathroom and it wasn’t much, so went back to bed. About 5 minutes later, I started feeling some more and thought I would get up and check it out again. On the way to the bathroom, I told my husband that I thought my water could possibly be starting to break, but I wasn’t sure. As soon as I was about to sit down, there was a big “whoosh!” and yes, it was confirmed…my water was definitely broken! I wasn’t feeling any contractions yet, so I decided to take a shower and prepare to get ready for the hospital soon.

I called my mom and she made her way up to Brooklyn to watch Nico. I wasn’t sure if she would make it in time, so we had our neighbors on stand-by in case we had to leave. We called our midwives, and because I wasn’t feeling many contractions at this point, they said I could wait it out at home for a while, take a walk, etc.

I spent the rest of the morning cleaning the house (last minute nesting anyone? haha), and then went for a walk around the neighborhood to try to get the contractions going. I started to feel a few painful ones, but honestly they were not that unbearable, and they were happening too infrequently. My mom had plenty of time to get to New York (from Maryland) and we gave her the lay of the land (on another walk) to show her some of the best places her and Nico could hang out for the next few days. Again, there were some contractions, but they were infrequent and not much was happening.

Because time was passing and my water had broken, it was time to get to the hospital. We left the house at 6pm and headed to Beth Israel in the East Village. It was quite a calm drive to the hospital…not at all what I had anticipated. No traffic. Music playing. No screaming. Infrequent contractions. I suppose this could have been much worse!! We arrived and met my mother-in-law there who also had time to make the trip up from Maryland. She is also a midwife, which doesn’t hurt in the Labor and Delivery Unit!

I checked into triage to confirm my water had indeed broken (umm yes, I told them that I normally don’t have fluid coming out of me all day long). Regardless, they still had to “check.” It was confirmed. However, what was also confirmed was that I was only 1cm dilated. I was going to need some help. Help meaning I was basically going to be induced once again. Now I was really trying to avoid induction this time around, but at least it was happening when our little guy was supposedly ready to make his entrance. The fact that my water had broken made me feel a bit better about the induction process rather than starting from scratch like last time.

IMG_9314_Layers_v1

IMG_0412

The induction was about as painful and uncomfortable as I remembered from two years ago, although this time things kicked into gear EXTREMELY quickly! My contractions were picking up speed and picking up intensity right away. I decided to get an epidural a little earlier this time around so I wouldn’t be in “crazy mode” like I was last time. I am extremely grateful for that decision, because as soon as I asked for one, things started to increase even MORE intensely. By the time I had signed off all the forms, the induction had done it’s job, and I was in serious active labor.

I was in a lot of pain, but the epidural process was smooth, and eventually it started kicking in and I could relax. I felt things had picked up rather quickly, and lo and behold I was right. By the time they got around to checking me, I was at 9.5 cm. WHAT!!! It was almost PUSH time!?!?

Before I knew it, they told me I could start pushing. I gave a couple good pushes, and HOLD UP! Lady next door is hemorrhaging. Holy crap! Everyone ran out of the room (which I understand she was in much more danger than myself, so I get it), but I was kinda left there like uhhhh what now? I kept feeling the urge to push, but held off for about 20 minutes or so until everyone was able to come back.

Luckily the lady next door was OK! Whew, and I could resume pushing once again. After it was all said and done, Luca Ronaldo Notes arrived 3.5 hours after I had been induced at the hospital. He was a happy, healthy, lovable little boy and we were in love!

IMG_0413_Layers_v1

IMG_9329_Layers_v1

IMG_9331_Layers_v2

IMG_9342_Layers_v1

IMG_9345_Layers_v1

IMG_0421

I have to say, recovery has been much easier the 2nd time around, and all of the newborn things have been easier knowing what to expect. The challenge is doing all of the newborn things while trying to entertain a toddler at the same time! I have had a lot of help these past couple weeks, but the true test will come next Tuesday when I am left to fend for myself with the two boys! Haha.

I’m sure all will be well. There are plenty of women out there who have done it and survived right? Soon enough we will figure out our routine and our new “normal.” Until then, I am just trying to get as much sleep as I can at night, loading up on coffee during the day, stealing toddler kisses and soaking up newborn snuggles.

IMG_0429

IMG_0425_Layers_v1

IMG_0437

IMG_9373_Layers_v1

Hope you are all having a great week! Make it a good one!

XO,

Gina

Nico’s Little _______ !!!

2015-03-21 17.07.54-1_Layers

Happy Monday everyone!!! I know I have been driving you all crazy with the anticipation of our gender reveal for Baby Notes #2!  The photographs are in, and today is finally the day!  Zack, Nico and I went to the doctor on Thursday for our monthly appointment.  First things first, everything is looking good so far for a HEALTHY baby, which is most important!  We are so very lucky and blessed.  While at the doc, we opted not to find out the sex of the baby in the office, rather as you may remember from Nico’s reveal two years ago, we had the doc write the gender along with a sonogram pic in a sealed envelope.  Let me tell you how difficult it was not to rip open that envelope for those two agonizing days!!!

We purchased a pull-string piñata in both pink and blue confetti in advance.  Our trusted neighbor, Tammy, stepped in to help us with our operation, and she was actually the first to know the baby’s gender before anyone, including us!  She opened the card in secret and filled the piñata for us with the correct color confetti.  She also placed the sonogram photo inside so we could have it for later.  We headed to Prospect Park on Saturday early evening with our other neighbor and photographer, Cara Kantrowitz George, to document the big reveal.  We pulled the string and SURPRISE!!!!!!  Take a look at what unfolded below. 🙂

2015-03-21 17.04.02

2015-03-21 17.03.06-1

2015-03-21 17.00.53

2015-03-21 17.08.14-1_Layers

2015-03-21 17.27.53

2015-03-21 17.14.28-2_Layers_v1

2015-03-21 17.20.01-1

crop1_Layers_v1

2015-03-21 17.18.11_Layers_v1

2015-03-21 17.23.42-1_Layers_v1

Photography by: Cara Kantrowitz George

Piñata by: LaLa’s Party

What a special moment in our lives!  We are so excited for Nico to have a little brother!  Little boys are so much fun, and I’m hoping they will be the best of buds, just like Zack and his brother are.  I still sometimes can’t believe that our family is growing so quickly, but this moment definitely made it feel like a reality!  We are so grateful to have such amazing neighbors to help us creatively document this wonderful surprise.  We thank you Tammy and Cara for taking the time to make this day so special!

Hope you all had a fantastic weekend!

XO,

Gina

Our Snow Family is Growing

Baby Notes 2 Announcement

Surprise!  The Notes Family is growing!

We are very excited to announce that we will have a new addition to the family on or around August 31 of this year!  Yes, that is two days after Nico’s 2nd Birthday.  What are the odds?

Now I know I mentioned in a recent post, “I know I’m not pregnant.”  I promise I wasn’t lying!  I just really didn’t know!  Boy did I feel stupid when I found out why I had really gotten sick that day.  At least I know it wasn’t because I was that terribly out of shape haha.

Speaking of getting in shape, it’s probably obvious, but I have had to put P90X on hold for awhile, because it’s pretty much the most intense workout ever, and not exactly made for pregnant ladies.  Also, my fitness goals have clearly changed.  Instead of six-pack abs, I will be looking at a basketball belly here in a few months.  However, I’m not going to use this pregnancy as an excuse to “go crazy and eat whatever the heck I want, because I’m going to get fat anyway”.  I am going to try my best to stick to a healthy diet (even when I’m nauseous and all I want is crackers), and I have also started on the PiYo workout program, which is pilates and yoga.  Much more prego-friendly!

It’s been hard to share what I have been up to lately, because of carrying this big “secret,” so while I am now at 10 weeks during my pregnancy and not quite through the first trimester, I have decided to share our baby news a bit earlier this time around.  Mostly because keeping secrets is exhausting (especially now that I have a toddler running around).  I’m already exhausted enough!  But also, because a post written by a good friend and local neighborhood mom, Sascha, really hit home for me.  I support the decision to announce your pregnancy whenever you so desire, but for me…. right now… this is the right time.

If you have been following my blog for awhile now, you know that I lost my first pregnancy with our Little Peanut.  When I got pregnant with Nico, I lived a lot of the pregnancy in fear of what could happen.  I was constantly scared and anxious that we would somehow lose him too.  But getting through the first trimester also isn’t some sort of magic number of weeks that sends you off on a sweet sunset sail toward labor and delivery.  I have had many friends lose pregnancies in their second trimesters too.  Things happen in life that we have no control over, and as heartbreaking as that is, I felt that even though I know there is the possibility of losing another pregnancy, it wasn’t going to stop me from being happy this time around.  No matter what, you will ALWAYS worry about your children.  It doesn’t matter how old they are.  So I am not willing to let fear stop my happiness.  And God-forbid if my family has to go down that dark path again, at least I can be rest assured that I have a supportive network of family and friends around me to get me through.  Every life is worth celebrating, and right now I am happy to celebrate the 10 week old growing baby in my belly.

That being said, pregnancy with a toddler is crazy!  I’m trying to get through each and every day while exhausted and nauseous.  It’s strange to be going through it a second time around.  It’s sort of like we’ve gone back in time a bit.  Not gonna lie, it’s hard.  And I imagine it only gets that much harder once the baby actually arrives!  But thinking about Nico being a big brother this summer makes me so excited.  He has even started giving the baby kisses (kissing my belly) which just melts my heart.  He is the sweetest thing.

World's Best Big Brother

We cannot be more thrilled to grow our family, and I am looking forward to sharing my pregnancy journey with you for a second time around.

Hope you are all having a fantastic week!

XO,

Gina