My little one is seven weeks old, and I am far from being all-knowing about all things mom. Having just been through pregnancy, labor and delivery, and the postpartum stage, these things are at least fresh in my mind. The miracle of having a baby is wonderful and strange all at the same time. There are plenty of oddities you don’t learn about until they’re happening to you, which in some cases (hello, mucus plug), are blessings because you wouldn’t want to know ahead of time anyway.Here are twelve things that surprised me about pregnancy, labor, and postpartum recovery as a first-time mom.Pregnancy1. That bad taste in your mouth that never goes awayFrom pretty early on in pregnancy, I had a gross taste in my mouth that lingered for what felt like forever. It changed a little bit from week to week, making any solution I had figured out only effective for a short time. My remedies included water with lemon, water with tons of ice, peppermint, spearmint, ginger candy, sour candy, fruity gum, and fruity herbal tea. It got better near the end of the pregnancy, but it didn’t completely go away until after delivery. As far as pregnancy side effects go, though, this one was pretty manageable.2. Bleeding gumsDuring pregnancy, your body is so focused on the baby that some parts of you get neglected. Your mouth is usually fighting bacteria that causes gingivitis, but those efforts get directed elsewhere during those nine months, which leads to gums that bleed much more easily that they did before. Spitting out blood when you brush your teeth? Not to worry. Simply start using mouthwash (bring out the big guns - get one with alcohol) after brushing in the morning and evening. You’ll notice a significant decrease in the bleeding pretty quickly.3. Belly support bandOnce my belly started getting big, putting on the Medela maternity support band was like heaven. A friend of mine gave me hers because she never used it, and I assumed I probably wouldn’t either. Boy, was I wrong! That thing provided such relief for my aching back muscles at the end of the day. I didn’t wear it to work because it was lumpy and showed through clothing, but once I was home at the end of the day, I was all about it.Labor4. One minute contractions, five minutes apartThe accepted standard for defining active labor is having contractions lasting for one minute and five minutes apart for an hour. Ha! That’s not a rule; it’s rather more like a guideline… My contractions were still averaging about eight minutes apart and lasting for 30 to 45 seconds when we went to the hospital because I couldn't take the pain any longer. They admitted me because I was four centimeters dilated. Trust your instincts. Worst case scenario if you go to the hospital too early is that you spend a few hours around the hospital that you could have spent at home.5. Bumps in the roadI’m talking about literal bumps in the road on your trip to the hospital. If there are multiple routes you can take to the hospital on the big day, pick the one with the smoothest pavement as long as it doesn’t add a lot of time to your trip. Every bump you hit on the road will feel like a giant pothole if you’re having a contraction. I know my husband was driving carefully and quickly on our way to the hospital, but I swear it felt like he was aiming for every bump. This is true for the trip home after baby is born, too. Everything hurts, and getting tossed around doesn’t make it feel better.6. Pack two separate bagsI read all of the blog posts and asked my friends what I needed to pack in my bag to go to the hospital. I thought I was prepared. The one thing I wasn’t prepared for was the difference in what I needed while in labor and what I needed after giving birth. Realistically, all the stuff a first-time mom packs for the hospital needs a bellhop to get from the car to the room. You don’t stop to do luggage duty when you’re in labor. Pack one small bag with just the essentials you’ll need right away as you get settled into the hospital while battling contractions: slippers, sweatshirt for dad (hospitals are cold!), phone charger, and so on. Take that bag in with you when you first arrive. Leave the rest of the stuff in another bag in the car. No one needs yoga pants and travel shampoo in the room while giving birth. Dad can get it from the car later.7. Pain and epiduralsI completely believe in having the birth you want, and for me, that included getting an epidural. Honestly, I think I was more scared of the epidural than actually pushing a baby out of my body. The idea of sticking a needle in my spine was more than enough to cause panic. Turned out that getting the massive IV placed in my hand hurt ten times worse than the epidural. Nothing to be afraid of here, ladies. Compared to the pain of your contractions, the epidural is a bee sting and then sweet, sweet relief.Postpartum Recovery8. Settling organsAfter giving birth, there’s a huge space left in your abdomen where the baby and accompanying fluids used to be. When you stand up, you will feel your organs sliding around inside as everything tries to find its way back to its upright and locked position. You may want to hold a hand to your belly to provide some support initially. The feeling of your organs being out of place and sliding around doesn’t go away immediately, either. I used a Belly Bandit to help shove all my parts back where they belonged and not feel like everything was just going to spill out of me. I didn’t wear it all the time, but while I was standing or walking, it helped me feel more normal for the first week or so.9. GasAnother lovely result of that big, empty space left in your abdomen is that there is a lot of air inside you. How does that air get out, you ask? You fart. A lot. And you can’t control it. Get ready for a couple of gassy weeks. The big pooch that is your postpartum belly will shrink as you get all that air out of your system.10. Tight, stretchy pantsThe mesh panties and giant pads that the hospital gives you are great, but if you’re wearing a hospital gown or loose PJ pants, you’ll likely feel like the whole mess is falling off of you. Bring yoga-style pants to wear in the hospital after delivery to hold that big pad in place. Black ones won’t show stains in case you leak. Make sure the waistband is super soft, low, or folded in case you have a c-section incision.11. When the milk comes inI had no idea my boobs could hurt like that. As baby learns to latch and your milk comes in, it feels like your breasts are trying to kill you. I woke up in the middle of the night with feverish chills my first night home thanks to the arrival of my milk. Skip any nursing bras with shaped cups or underwires. You want the softest, stretchiest nursing bra or tank top possible over those sore girls. The slightest pressure can hurt. It gets better, though. Hang in there.12. Pumping isn’t just for when you’re away from babyAs you establish your milk supply, a breast pump can make the process far less painful. Pumping can relieve engorgement or help build up a supply if your baby isn’t great at latching. My left side ended up cracked and bleeding, so I nursed my son on the right and pumped on the left for each feeding until I was healed. Even if you choose to exclusively breastfeed, having a pump is a wise decision.Being a first-time mom is full of surprises. There are plenty of things to learn as you experience pregnancy, labor, delivery, and recovery. Once you feel like you have a pretty good handle on those challenges, a brand new adventure begins with adjusting to life with your newborn. Take it one day at a time, and good luck!
A full month has already passed since we became a family of three. It's been a month of big adjustments for us and for baby. We have learned to function on far less sleep than we've ever attempted, and we've run more loads of laundry per week than we thought possible. We've also enjoyed countless snuggles that make it all worth it.Upon arriving home from the hospital, we only had one day to settle in before Jacob's blood test showed high bilirubin levels. Our doctor recommended we spend the day exposing him to as much natural light as possible to try to naturally lower it. The sunlight wasn't enough, and the jaundice worsened by the next day. We took a stressful trip over to the NICU for a thorough blood test, which showed that he needed phototherapy. Fortunately, we were able to get home phototherapy set up with a bilibed in his crib. After three not-so-fun days on the lights, Jacob's levels were low enough that we could cuddle our baby again.Jesse enjoyed two and a half weeks at home before having to go back to work. We established night shifts to help both of us get a little more sleep. Jesse handled the first half of the night and gave Jacob his nightly bottle before going to bed between midnight and 1 a.m. I then took over and handled the second half of the night, waking up to nurse baby whenever he was ready to eat again. While we stayed tired (and still are!), the shifts helped us to avoid total exhaustion.When Jesse headed back to work the week before Christmas, my parents came to visit and help out during the day. I wasn't ready yet to be home alone with a newborn, so I really appreciated having the extra help around the house. They helped out with cleaning and cooking and gave me a chance to get out of the house. By the time they left, I was only facing three days alone with Jacob before Jesse was off for the Christmas holiday. The next week, he turned one month old and I had four days with him. I really appreciated how the holiday timing eased me into being on my own to care for him all day while Jesse was at work.The most exciting development to see so far is how Jacob's vision has improved. The unfocused, glazed over look that he had when he was first born has been replaced by bright, clear eyes. He can focus on our faces and engage with us through his amazingly diverse expressions. There's someone really looking back at us now when we gaze at his face.Our newborn has become a one-month-old in what feels like the blink of an eye. I'm looking forward to seeing how he grows in the next month!
Full Gallery Link: http://www.jesseandemilyhart.com/galleries/maternity-2015/I had the pleasure of being the photographer that handled our Maternity Photo Shoot, though I have to say the stunning subject made my job especially easy. Enjoy! The full gallery is linked above, and a selection of images are embedded here as well.
I had only been working at Apple for a few months when another group of new hires came on board in the fall of 2010. I was excited that I wouldn’t be in the group of “new kids” anymore. I would actually be experienced compared to someone. They were all joining the sales part of the store except for one, Jesse. We had a new Genius go through training with my group, so I didn’t pay much attention to another one. By mid-September, both Jesse and I were in and out of the store each day without much notice of each other. I recall having a brief conversation with him in the back one day, just telling him a little about the Birmingham area. I quickly took a liking to him and decided he was going to be one of my favorite Geniuses. I would go to him with questions or problems because I knew he wouldn’t turn me away or make me feel stupid.In the middle of October, Jesse invited me to go hiking with him and a few other people on Ruffner Mountain here in Birmingham. It caught me a bit off guard because other than becoming friends on Facebook, we had never interacted outside of the store. My parents were visiting on the day he had asked about, so I declined the invitation. Being a girl, though, I read into his question and wondered if he liked me...That fall and winter, I often worked the early shift at the store, letting in employees and handling the customers who arrived before we opened. After returning from training in California, Jesse frequently worked the opening Genius shift. I would open the door for him each morning and greet him with a smile. Every time our eyes locked, it was like I could see into his heart a little. There was something he wasn’t saying. In November, I stumbled onto a poem he wrote and posted on Facebook. It was just simply written “to someone.” It described a scene of two people, one with a smile that warmed the heart of the other, but the one couldn’t bring himself to tell her. Knowing what our morning interactions looked like, I couldn’t help but wonder again if he had any interest in me...In late November, Jesse reached out to me again. He invited me to go see the newest Harry Potter movie with some other people. I agreed initially. Something about him intrigued me, and I wanted to know more. We chatted for a while through Facebook messages. His vocabulary was huge and the conversation teetered at the edge of going over my head. I wasn’t sure I could handle such an intellectual. Turns out everyone else cancelled for the movie, leaving just the two of us. Scared and vowing not to date a co-worker, I panicked and cancelled on him.I guess I was too harsh and pushed him away for a while. I didn’t interact with him outside of work until February, when I reached out to him. At that point, I had moved to a position in his part of the store, so we saw each other at work a bit more often. We had talked photography before, so I started the Facebook conversation again from that angle. We kept things as professional as possible but still friendly. I was dating someone and didn’t want to be unfaithful to him. Something about Jesse drew me in, though. I struggled with my curiosity in him and my promise to not get involved.We finally met outside of work in March for a photo shoot. He needed practice to get back in the swing of photographing people, and I’ll always smile for the camera. We met at a park down in Alabaster, about 30 minutes south of Birmingham. I kept trying to flirt with him during the hour or so we spent there, but he kept it purely professional. After shutting him down so hard before, I hadn’t given him any reason to think I had any interest.We went back and forth for the next few months, half-flirting and then I would shut him down. Any reasonable guy would have walked away and not looked back after putting up with so much from me. When my relationship came to an end in May, though, he was still willing to give me a chance. He told me whenever I was over the break up and ready to date, he wanted to take me to dinner. We met a couple days later after he got off work with no plans other than to just enjoy each other’s company. A week later, he took me out to dinner.And the rest is history...
Note, I am a creative writer. Therefore I reserve the right to embellish any detail I choose, though all of the facts remain unchanged!On a comfortable day in September, not long after beginning his employment with Apple, Jesse walked into the store only to be greeted by the most memorable sight one could imagine: the wondrous smile and starlike eyes of an interesting young woman. Uncertain of whether his eyes were deceived by her beauty, or if his imagination merely grasped the warmth of her smile and conjured an innocent daydream, Jesse shrugged the thought aside as he returned the smile and warm greeting. Another time, perhaps, and he would explore those thoughts further.
From across the room your smile beckons,Warming even the dreariest days.My heart flutters lightly, my mind races,Yet my fears hold too much sway.Perhaps one day the opportunity will open,And maybe then my walls will crumble.If only I could convince myself to take the first step,Alas, for now I'll simply remain quiet and humble.I most certainly welcome a warm approach, In the event you feel the slightest interest. I have simply been unable thus far, To break down my own defenses.One day... one day...Days passed, and his thoughts never drifted back to that morning. A thought suddenly struck him one October day, and he invited her to join on a hike at Ruffner Mountain. Her response, a simple explanation of being busy, was neither apologetic or curt. It simply was. He shrugged off the thought, and decided there probably was no interest on her part.Weeks passed, and while out in California for training there was ample time for reflection. Jesse's thoughts began to drift back to the young woman who had barely even spoken a word to him, and yet she somehow managed to invade his thoughts without the slightest effort. He focused on the trip, enjoying the comfortable Autumn weather in San Jose and Cupertino. In the evenings he tried, albeit without much luck, to keep his thoughts from drifting back to her.After returning to Birmingham he decided to make an actual effort and invited her to see Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows (Part 1). She accepted, and after a few days and a couple of text messages, things were seemingly set. As the day approached he grew somewhat anxious. Mere hours before they were to meet, she sent him a message seeking a rain check until more people were planning to go. The implication was obvious: "I'm not interested." The feelings of rejection and a complete lack of interest were like hammers, hitting him over the head and reminding him that such an innocent and proper young woman would surely have no interest in someone whose path had taken them through darkness, in someone who could no longer be considered innocent. He shrugged off the thoughts, and decided there was simply no reason to pursue any further.Weeks turned into months, with sporadic and short bursts of rather meaningless, although courteous, greetings and brief statements exchanged. Jesse forced himself to push aside the random thoughts of her that still managed to invade his mind, perceiving a continued lack of interest on her part. Suddenly something changed, ever so slightly, and conversations started to occur with a little more regularity and depth. Unable to push the thoughts out of his mind, Jesse began to believe he was latching more and more onto daydreams and wishful thinking than he could control.In March she agreed to meet him for a photo shoot, offering to allow him to practice his craft for the first time since relocating to the Birmingham area. Although away from work, Jesse still had no clue whether his imagination was playing tricks on him and creating interest on her part, or if this was purely a professional courtesy. Throughout the photo shoot, fear took hold and kept him from behaving in any way other than with a client. Conversation began to occur a bit more easily and regularly, however, though it only served to permeate his thoughts with the image of her.Over the next couple of months there were ups and downs. An invitation to Easter service was certainly welcomed by Jesse, and yet he still had no clue whether she was remotely interested or simply reaching out as a friend. Their conversations became a bit more flirty, and yet she would reign that flirtatiousness back in quickly and remind him that she was dating someone else. The back and forth nearly drove Jesse insane, and finally he decided to try to rebuild walls and protect himself from this young woman whose mere presence caused his imagination to run rampant.Suddenly, something different happened. She sent a message to him that made him feel as though she needed someone to listen, and the walls he had recreated around himself started to look a lot more frail than he thought them to be. Their conversation revealed a number of things... she was uncertain of her thoughts and feelings, and there appeared to be an internal struggle between whether she should be talking to him, to be interested in him at all, or not. Jesse was unable to reign his thoughts in before her smile flooded his senses once more, threatening to destroy the walls he was working so desperately to keep intact.While working late, on a repair shift, Jesse received a message from her that changed everything. She agreed to meet him after work that evening and simply chat for a bit, and they went and sat at the top of Shades Crest Mountain, huddled close to stay warm. Each moment seemed surreal, and Jesse was uncertain whether he was imagining the bond forming between them or if there was actually something there. His offer of friendship, of lending a shoulder and an ear to someone in need, seemed to suddenly morph into an excuse to simply be near her.Over the next few days they exchanged a lot of text messages, simply getting to know more about each other while both attended weddings out of town. Upon returning to Birmingham she took him up on his offer of dinner, and Jesse decided pursuit was absolutely worthwhile.And the rest, as they say, has become history…
Emily grew up in Carmel, Indiana, a suburb of Indianapolis. She found her way to Birmingham to attend Samford University and came with the dream of working for Southern Living magazine after graduating. She earned her journalism degree summa cum laude and worked as editor-in-chief of the student newspaper and art director of the magazine. Surrounded by friends and a church she loved, Emily opted to stay in Birmingham after graduation. She took a part-time position with Apple while working a part-time internship with mentalfloss magazine in 2010. Deciding that the magazine world wasn’t for her, she left mentalfloss and moved into the role of a Creative, a full-time teacher for Apple. She is still there teaching novices and experts how to get the most out of their Mac. In the future, Emily hopes to get her master’s degree in education and teach high school English, literature, journalism, and theatre.Jesse is from the Columbus, Georgia, area. After working for several years in the information technology world, he decided he was ready for a change of scenery. Persuaded by his parents, he headed up to the Birmingham area to see what it had to offer. Apple hired him and sent him straight to the role of Genius, offering troubleshooting and repairs to Mac owners. Within six months, he had moved up to the Lead Genius position and became responsible for the team of technicians at the store. After seeking something with more predictable and stable hours, he recently took a position with FIS Global as a network analyst. This May he is graduating from Columbus State University with a degree in sociology with a minor in psychology. Down the road, he wants to pursue a master’s degree and ultimately a doctorate in sociology as well.Our future home will be at 6155 North Clubview Circle, Bessemer, Alabama.