Breastfeeding: A Confession.

One of most useful things anyone ever said to me about parenting came from my husband’s mother. I was a new mom feeling guilty about having to supplement breast milk with formula and she said, “Honey, the ‘right way’ to do things is however you want to do them.”

I’m going on KC Live today to talk about helpful accessories for breastfeeding mothers, and while I don’t normally post about what I’ll be talking about before a segment, I’m going to share something with you here: breastfeeding is wonderful…for women who are not me. It was one of my worst experiences in motherhood. I felt like an engorged, leaky cow tethered to a fence post just waiting for some screaming, unappreciative blob-human to come along and give my life purpose.

When Savvy was an infant our little family went to Indianapolis for my sorority sister’s baby shower. The baby shower turned into a girls’ night out ending with me leaning over a hotel bathroom sink, squeezing tequila out of my boobs in hopes that I wouldn’t get my baby drunk when she inevitably woke up at 6am. If you’ve never tried to wring your own breast out like a wet washcloth, let me be the first to tell you, it’s as painful as it sounds. And don’t even get me started on the time I got a clogged milk duct (I shuddered even as I typed it.)

For people who love the experience of breastfeeding or didn’t love it at first, but worked like hell at it for the sake of their child; I respect and commend you. Breastfeeding is a beautiful bonding experience to some people, just not to me. To me, it was awkward, painful and gross. There I said it. So freaking gross. There was no technique, support group, or product that could have made me love nursing the way some mothers do, but there are things that can make it more bearable. And that’s what I’ll be talking about today on KCL.

So if you’re a new mom reading this, I want you to know, the “right way” to do things is however you want. You don’t owe anyone an apology or explanation. To paraphrase my mother-in-law, you do you, Boo Boo.

Savvy 1 month

Savannah’s Birth Story

Announcing Savannah Carter Kuhlman!

Born 7/9/13

8lbs, 10oz

21.25 inches

Our first family photo:

I can’t believe how the last 2 weeks have flown by! Savannah Carter made her debut via induction on July 9th. Kevin and I had set the date about a week and a half prior, so the day before was pretty much about killing time and getting through the anticipation. We went out to lunch at Pig and Finch where I ate about 10 pretzel bites with cheese (YUM). My husband is usually an emotional rock, but when it comes to me being in the hospital he gets really jumpy and stressed. This was apparent when he spilled his water all over the table and accidentally stabbed the waiter’s hand with his knife as he tried to clean up the spill. I laughed way too hard.  Afterwards we played outside with Avery, blowing bubbles, sharing gelato and soaking up the sunshine!

The day before I gave birth to sweet Savvy girl!

Around 6 pm the night before the induction, I got a call from the hospital maternity coordinator saying I had been put on the wait list since they had so many full rooms. I was so disappointed and beyond ready to meet my baby so I decided to take matters into my own hands and try to induce labor myself. I made my husband go on a 2.5 mile walk with me in the sweltering heat, stopping every 20 feet to do deep squats. I did not bother to change into work out gear or put my hair up. In other words, I was a hot desperate mess, squatting through our neighborhood like a pot-bellied mad woman. And guess what…my water didn’t break. And I was really sore and miserable. Epic fail.

I woke up at 3am hoping for a call. When 6:30am rolled around I called the hospital to see if there was any news but was just told to wait. Around 10:30 a.m. they finally called and said we could come in at 11. I have been preparing Avery for this for weeks now, talking her through the whole process so she wouldn’t be too traumatized when she saw me leaving with overnight bags. I took a deep breath and got down in front of her and said very seriously, “Avery, Mommy is going to go to the hospital now to have the baby…” and she cut me off and said “Okay, Mommy!” and gave me a goodbye smooch. Apparently it was just another Tuesday for her.

I hadn’t been able to eat anything since the night before so I was feeling a little weak on the drive over. This is precisely the moment when my husband declared that he was “starving” as the piece of pumpkin bread he just ate was “tiny” and turned the car into the McDonald’s drive-thru where he proceeded to stare at the menu blankly for about 3 minutes as if he had never been to a McDonald’s before, then order a burger AND a McChicken and scarf them down in under 60 seconds. Truthfully I was glad he was eating because he was already a little wobbly from nerves. However, if he would have eaten french fries in front of me at that point I may have considered a trial separation. At least until we went home and I didn’t have a night nurse anymore.

Bracelet on! I’m in!

Can you tell we are excited to meet our baby?!

The birthing center is completely new since I had Avery at the same hospital just two years ago. It is basically the Wynn Las Vegas of birthing centers. It’s so nice, I can’t believe they let people bleed there.

Moving in

Ready to get the pitocin party started!

Once we got settled, they broke my water and gave me a pitocin drip. For the next few hours I basically just waited for things to kick in. I had family there to entertain me and lots of ice chips. They even let me have a Popsicle because I had gone so long without eating. We just sat around talking, laughing, and being excited!

Thank goodness for my amazing Mommy. I can’t do anything without her!!!

 

Around 5pm my doctor came in to check on me. I was dilated to a 5 and hadn’t really made much progress in the past 5 hours. She gave the nurse an order to kick up my pitocin and let me know she was heading out for a speed running class and that she would return shortly. Side note: my doctor has four children, a husband, a medical practice and, oh yeah, in her spare moments between bringing new life into the world she takes speed running classes just to improve her time. What?! She’s superwoman!

 

So I settled in to wait out another few hours and that’s when I felt it. A contraction. Like, a serious god-awful contraction that seemed to have developed some immunity to the epidural. It was crazy. I never ever felt my contractions with my first child so I was completely shocked at how painful it was. Then they just kept coming in waves. I tried to tough it out, clutching my little drip button, but the baby was just coming too fast to keep up with the pain medicine. Marisa (who is an R.N. herself) went out in the hall to find our nurse and told the lady sitting at the desk that we needed the anesthesiologist right away. Apparently the lady was a little busy because she basically dismissed her and told her to press the call button. Marisa came back in the room, took one look at me in pain, marched right back out into the hall and demanded the anesthesiologist. The lady jumped out of her chair to find him and within minutes they were giving me more medicine! LOVE that girl! My mom and husband were also by my side the entire time supporting me and putting on strong faces, even though I know they were both nervous to see me in pain.

 
 

 

Everything happened really quickly after that. I dilated from a 5 to a 6 to an 8 to a 10 within less than an hour. I was covered in sweat. My doctor had to leave her class to rush back. She bolted into the room in her  neon jogging outfit, threw on some scrubs, and I pushed for less than 9 minutes before my sweet little girl made her debut. It was AWESOME! I was so excited when I got to see her that I screamed in excitement because it all happened so fast!

 

I think this would make a cute Nike ad. Just Did It!

Savannah weighed exactly the same as Avery did at birth, only she has a bigger head and measured an inch and a quarter longer!

Little Savvy sweetie face!

Sisters meet!

Savannah’s going home outfit

So far my sweet girls are amazing! Avery is so helpful with her little sister and she hugs and kisses her every day. Savannah is almost two weeks old so she’s a little more active and I’m not getting much sleep at night, but I keep reminding myself how fleeting this time is when she is so dependent on me. I am slowly learning the ropes to being a mother-of-two. My husband and parents have been incredible. My dad and Kevin grill delicious, healthy meals for us every night while my mom does all the dishes and helps me with the girls. I truly don’t know what I would do without all of their love, encouragement, and support.  

These two little faces make me melt!

First We had eachother then we had you

4th of July: The Pregnant Patriot

Waiting on our new little American Girl!

Showing Sofia Vergara a thing or two about a woman with curves!

This year was one of the best 4th of July holidays we’ve ever had. The weather was actually pretty cool so we went over to a friend’s house to swim, eat, drink (lemonade) and hang out by the pool.

Might as well flaunt it at this point!

 This was Avery’s first time on a raft or “bed” as she called it and once we got her on she just wanted to relax and float around all afternoon!

Chillaxing

After naptime we headed over to Leawood. We ate at Mestizo (the skirt steak tacos are not to be missed!) and then hung out in the commons area in Park Place where they had a cover band playing everything from Duncan Sheik to Eagle Eye Cherry. It was kind of random compared to your usual hot dogs and Lee Greenwood, but eating Mexican food and listening to 90s music is pretty much the dream for me so I was happy as could be. If only they would have played a little Everclear it would have really made my night. There were lots of kiddos running around so Avery had fun splashing in the fountain and watching the balloon artist. They had a craft table for kids and various other giveaways but it wasn’t loud or crowded which made for a pleasant experience for this 9 month pregnant lady and our toddler. We didn’t stay for fireworks, but we still had a perfect Independence Day of family fun, celebrating America!

 

Kuhlman, Party of 3. Soon to be 4.

Family Date Night

I went to my check up and got a great report. My doctor decided to put a date on the calendar for an induction, which means the final countdown has officially begun! Last night we decided to have a family date night, just the three of us. We went out for Mexican food and then took Avery over to the Plaza. We went to the park where we took our wedding pictures and we all made wishes and threw pennies in the iconic JC Nichols Memorial fountain.

I told my husband that I feel like having a baby is a lot like getting married. Waiting to get pregnant is a lot like waiting to get engaged. Once you make up your mind that you are ready you start to obsess over it more than you care to share with anyone. When it finally happens you set a date, sign up for email checklists, spend hours on Pinterest, and are unable to talk of anything else. By the time the date is actually approaching you feel like you have been waiting your entire life.

Then the day comes. And in the blink of an eye, it’s over.

On our honeymoon in Maui as Kevin and I walked along the beach, I was so relieved to be married to him yet I still felt this little let down that the actual wedding was over. When our first daughter was born I was terrified of the labor part and could not wait to get it over with, but once I actually experienced it, I loved it. I adored holding her in my arms and yet I missed having her safely inside my belly where I could lie quietly in bed in the middle of the night and feel her little hiccups from inside.

I have never been one of those ladies that says, “Oh, I love being pregnant!” Not even close. I was really sick my first trimester on top of having a stomach illness that couldn’t be treated due to my pregnancy stage. I ended up in the Emergency Room only to be told there was nothing they could do to help me. It was a terrifying experience and it made me realize how vulnerable I was. 

Even if you have an easy pregnancy there are little things that can get to you. You miss out on some trips, some parties, a good friend’s wedding. There’s no sushi or cocktail hour. There are aches and pains and mood swings. But when you look at the scope of your entire life there is something profound and humbling about being so fortunate to be someone’s one and only Mommy, providing everything they need and getting to know them before anyone in the world has even laid eyes on them.

Right now I’m just trying to stay balanced. I’m enjoying all the time I can giving Avery my undivided attention while also trying to keep my excitement at bay over finally getting to experience the birth of our new baby and seeing what her sweet little face looks like. With each day that passes we are one step closer to our new beginning as a family of four. I am both extremely thankful for today, and SO excited to see what (or who!) tomorrow will bring.

2009

2013

 

Maternity Photo Shoot

 

“Your children are not your children. 
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. 
They come through you but not from you, 
And though they are with you, they belong not to you. 
You may give them your love but not your thoughts. 
For they have their own thoughts. 
You may house their bodies but not their souls, 
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams. 
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. 
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday. 
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.

-Kahlil Gibran (excerpt)


So I’m not a huge poetry buff, but I remember hearing Toni Morrison quote this poem on the Oprah show years ago. She was talking about how she coped with the loss of her son and for some reason it really resonated with me. Particularly the line that our children come “through” us, not from us. Wow. When you do all the work and worrying of carrying and caring for a child, that is a tough concept to wrap your head around.

When I was pregnant with my daughter Avery everything seemed like a whirlwind. I was still the reigning Mrs. Kansas so I had public obligations in addition to working full time. After she was born, I remember lying awake in my bedroom in the early hours of the morning listening to her breathe and I told my husband I felt like someone had put up a giant clock in the front of my brain that was counting down the hours until she would grow up and leave us. I felt a sense of dread. Even though I beam with pride after every step she takes toward independence, the past 24 months have flown by in the blink of an eye.

This time I am a little older and wiser and I realize how much I will miss feeling the baby move in my belly after she’s born. I realize I may never be pregnant again and I need to appreciate each step along the way.

We were referred to photographer Juliann Courtney through a friend. I sent her a Pinterest board of pictures I like (found here) which is a tactic I highly recommend before a photo shoot and Juliann totally surpassed my expecations, capturing the elegant, natural portraits I had in mind. Avery was a little tornado running around the house that day and Juliann managed to document every sweet, peaceful moment despite her little moving target!

Maternity Portraits:

 

 

5 Things You Should NEVER Say To An Expectant Mother

Avery’s 2nd birthday got me thinking about how much I actually enjoyed the hospital experience when she was born and how much I am looking forward to the next one in just 6 short weeks!

 
 

Our first family picture

I always make a point to tell my friends who are expecting how EASY my labor was, because it’s so uncommon to hear positive labor stories. There’s something about getting a group of women together talking about childbirth that seems to bring out a bunch of Debbie Downers. I get that it is a momentous rite of passage and it can be a bonding experience to share details, but before you know it, you are just an innocent mommy-to-be all excited to talk about being pregnant and you are bombarded with labor horror stories.

 

5 things you should never say

Here are the top 5 things I wish people wouldn’t have told me when I was pregnant with Avery:

 

5. “The doctor told my neighbor’s cousin she was having a girl and it came out a boy!” Really. We just painted the room pink and have a closet full of monogrammed nonreturnable clothes and blankets that have been washed in special baby laundry detergent. I have been drafting her recommendation letter to Tri Delta and the wording for her wedding invitation. Here’s hoping your neighbor’s cousin has a sense of humor and was going for a neutral theme anyway. 

 

4.  “My epidural didn’t work.” Well, mine did! Didn’t feel a thing. Watched Golden Girls on DVD the whole day, chatted with the doctor between pushes, and didn’t break a sweat. So this turned out to be a totally unnecessary and unhelpful piece of information for me to worry about.

 

3. “I was in labor for 36 hours.” This is actually what my mom tells me every year on my birthday so I guess she has a right to say it. Apparently I was a horribly complicated C-section/NICU delivery. (Turns out birth and guilt are the gifts that keep on giving.) It doesn’t really matter how long you’re in labor, it matters how you are feeling during that time. 

 

2. Anything relating to a miscarriage or a baby that was born with health issues that is not your own experience. In my opinion, if it happened to you, it’s your reality to share or not. But I went to dinner with some girlfriends one night who were talking about a woman who lost her baby at the very end of her pregnancy. I smiled through dinner and then went home and cried and cried to my husband. Pregnancy makes you feel vulnerable and paranoid enough without hearing about all the bad things that have happened to someone else you don’t even know.

 

And the number one thing I wish I never heard…

1. “They accidentally left a sponge in me when they stitched me up.” SERIOUSLY? That can happen? Don’t you put that evil on me, Ricky Bobby!

 
 

So, who knows? Maybe I will have a terrible labor this time around, but I’m not going to stress about what might happen. I’m looking forward to experiencing all the sweet first moments with the new baby and sharing all the excitement and love she will bring into our lives.

 
 

My brother holding newborn Avery for the first time

So glad I got pictures of her in this cute onesie in the hospital because she outgrew it right away

That moment when you fall in love with your husband all over again

 
 

Only 6 weeks until Round 2!

Avery giving the baby belly a smooch

 
 

You Have A Baby…In A Bar…Prego at the Bachelorette Party!

The only “hangover” I had at this Bachelorette Party was my baby belly!

This past weekend I headed down to Wichita for Marisa’s family bridal shower and bachelorette party (see her DERBY THEMED shower here!) I should remind everyone that I am now over 7 months pregnant. Not exactly in peak party condition, but I put on my sequined maternity top and held my own with the other girls. (Next time I am up at 2am, I will likely be cuddling my newborn!) 

Couple things: nothing reminds you that you’re no longer the young, fun sorority girl you once were like being the 28 year old pregnant lady in the bar. One guy actually wished me a Happy Mother’s Day. (Hey thanks, kid! Buy me a shot…of Botox!) But another young gentleman did offer to buy me a cranberry juice. I politely declined on principle, but basically I took it as a sign that I’ve still got it. And don’t think I didn’t text my husband to remind him that I’ve still got it. (He seemed disappointingly unthreatened.) 

The other thing I was reminded of (since I don’t go out to bars much…or at all, really) is how lucky I am to be married and “off the market.” I mean GEEZ. Some of these guys on the dance floor were just so creepy and rude. Anyway the important thing is that Marisa and I will soon be old married ladies together and we can sit around in our yoga pants, drinking white wine, watching Bravo and talking about how cool we were in Tri Delt. Basically, living the dream.

Bestie Bride

Since my sweet, beautiful little cousin Lauren is a Tridelta legacy, I took it upon myself to teach her some classic sorority picture poses, like the surprise face and the arm pop. As you can see, she is a natural.

My adorable nieces

 

Designated driver reporting for duty

My cousin Allie is pregnant too, expecting a baby girl in August so we were virgin cocktail buddies!

Busting some moves on the dance floor with my cousin and my sister

Bridesmaids!

It was only fitting that I crown her the new “Mrs.” in Kansas!

Saw this on Pinterest and thought it was cute! Note to self: Must make a blinged out chalkboard to use for different parties!

 

Getaway: Babymoon at The Phoenician in Scottsdale, AZ

Vacation time!

My husband had the idea to take me on a Babymoon a few months ago. We talked about a few different locations: DC for touring (we both love American history), San Antonio for the Riverwalk (we both love Mexican food) and eventually settled on The Phoenician in Scottsdale. We both love lying around a pool in the sun doing nothing. (I know, it’s uncanny how much we have in common.)

A few things I learned on this trip:

1. I immediately regretted not bringing Avery. Within the first five minutes, we saw the sweetest little toddler with her mommy and daddy and we were so jealous. I had to stop myself from asking if I could just give her a quick squeeze to get my baby fix.

2. I got over that. About ten minutes after we checked in and headed to the pool, we proceeded to spend a full day reading and napping in the sun. Of course we missed Avery, looked at her pictures, and probably talked about her way too much, but since we were only away from KC for one full day we embraced the freedom and relaxation. And Avery got some good bonding time with her grandparents. Win-win.

My pool read. Highly recommend for light summer time reading. Basically a Nora Ephron movie in a book.

3. Being 6 months pregnant made me feel ridiculously confident in a bikini. I have never been too excited about showing my midsection, but there is something about a pregnant gal in a swimsuit that makes strangers smile approvingly and comment on your body directly to your face. I got so many sweet compliments on my lil belly that I started thinking I should wear more tube tops in my day-to-day life. Then again…maybe that was the virgin Pina Colada talking.

Kuhlman, Party of 2.5 checking in!

This picture does not do the resort justice. We had a huge room with a nice big bathroom, coffee bar, and balcony.

 

Morning view from the balcony overlooking Camelback Mountain and the golf course

Pool time!

The first night we had a late dinner at Il Terrazzo. Like any normal adults, we had a photo shoot/dance party in our hotel room before going out for the evening. Doesn’t everyone do this?

Didn’t actually need to bring any maternity clothes on this trip. I found this dress at Nordstrom Rack which is the greatest place on earth to shop for cute vacation stuff. I thought it warranted more than one pose.

My husband is from St. Louis and therefore feels he must rap and dance whenever a Nelly song comes on Pandora.

Dinner was wonderful. We got a half order of the Spaghetti with Meatballs, San Marzano Tomato Sauce, and Black Garlic as well as a half order of the Fettuccine Carbonara with House Cured Pancetta and Farm Egg. The REAL treat was dessert: Chocolate Pudding served in a little silver pot, topped with caramel and whipped cream. Everything was made from scratch and well worth the calories!

We dined al fresco overlooking the pool

The next morning we got our Starbucks and walked around the resort. Kevin beat me at two games of Bocce ball. Or so he says. I don’t know the rules so he could have been making them up. (Note to self: google Bocce ball rules.)

I caught this picture of Kevin just a second too late, making it appear as if he is either gesturing rudely at an innocent passerby or taking the game way too seriously.

Notice the lizard in the bottom left square

Kevin dropped me off at the spa for my Mommy-to-Be massage and headed on a 2.5 hour hike to conquer Camelback Mountain. 

My rugged outdoorsman

Ever since our honeymoon in Maui, I always make us take what we now refer to as “Senior Pictures” on vacation. I thought these turned out well!

Spent the afternoon at the pool and went to happy hour at Relish Burger Bistro

View of the golf course from our table at Relish and the Koi pond at feeding time

 

On our way to dinner, we stopped at the Thirsty Camel Lounge where we sat outside overlooking the Phoenix lights. The terrace is covered with cozy outdoor furniture, fire pits, a sushi bar, and palm trees and it smells faintly of cigar smoke and tequila (ah, vacation). So relaxing. We had dinner at J&G Steakhouse which is an Asian/French fusion Steakhouse with fantastic live music. The musician sang everything from Billy Joel to Coldplay to Eric Clapton. He even made Eddie Money’s “Two Tickets to Paradise” sound classy and mellow somehow. We started with the Peekytoe Crab Cake because who could resist ordering that? It came on a bed of avocado and was served with pink grapefruit and a ginger lime broth. Loved it. Kevin ordered a wedge salad and a filet with roasted mushrooms and I had the Steamed Shrimp salad with avocado and Champagne dressing. We went back to the other restaurant for the Chocolate Pudding for dessert and took a stroll through the Cactus Garden which was surprisingly creepy at night.

Sunday was brunch day! We scheduled a later flight home so we could enjoy one more day of the amenities, including the water slide. One of the many reasons I adore my husband…he is a brilliant attorney, husband and father, but he is still a kid at heart!

PRICELESS!

Excited to get home to our Princess!

 Unfortunately we flew home right as the thunderstorms hit Kansas City. They actually closed the airport right as we were supposed to land and we ended up having to make an emergency stop in Tulsa to refuel before we could head back to KCI. Luckily we arrived safely at home in time to get a pretty good night of sleep after sneaking into Avery’s room to kiss her chubby little cheeks while she slept, of course.

I can’t say enough wonderful things about The Phoenician. It is the perfect place for a babymoon or couples getaway. I think the only thing we would do differently is that next time my husband would bring his golf clubs. We definitely want to return, maybe even with kids. Then again, maybe not…