Must Have Product: Sarah Wells Pumping Bag

Welcome to my first product review!  I can’t think of a better product to introduce to you first: Meet my Sarah Wells Annie Breast Pump Bag in brown.

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When I returned to work after having Vivian, I didn’t feel much like my pre-baby self.  You see, I normally took pride in my appearance.  I would spend some time getting ready for work every day and enjoyed adding interesting pieces to my professional wardrobe.  I vowed to myself during that first pregnancy that having a baby would not impact my work in anyway (let’s all laugh a little at that thought), including my overall professional presence. Then I actually birthed said baby, and my entire world changed.

My back-to-work look was something like this: pants two sizes larger than my pre-baby pants – but I had lost a little more weight, just enough to give that baggy butt look – a shirt with some sort of bodily fluid on it, dark circles under my eyes from three months of sleep deprivation and THE BAGS. SO. MANY. BAGS. I had a work bag, a lunch bag, a diaper bag for daycare and the hideous pump bag. Just in case I didn’t feel bad enough about my new look, I was sporting an ugly, black generic pump bag. For those of you who have not had the experience of pumping, that shit goes everywhere with you – work, date night, girls’ night, vacation, the office holiday party. The weight dropped, my pants fit better and I eventually got a solid nights sleep but I still had the bag. For 12 months I carried around that bag and for 12 months I couldn’t wait for the day I could leave it at home.

When I became pregnant with my son, I knew that I wanted to make going back to work a little less awful. I couldn’t really control the weight fluctuation or bags under my eyes, and the bodily fluid just appeared on my clothes no matter how hard I tried to avoid it – but the bag – the bag I could change. After determining I had spent 260 hours the year after my daughter was born attached to the pump, I figured I could use something a little more attractive to stare at for all that time. And so began my search for a pump bag.

When I saw the brown Annie bag by Sarah Wells on Amazon.com, it was love at first sight. Now that I’ve been using the bag for several weeks, I have to admit, it did not disappoint.  Between the high quality and awesome features, I couldn’t have asked for much more. The bag itself looks more like a designer handbag than a pump bag. In fact, I get compliments on it from childless, pumpless co-workers often.

My favorite part of my pump bag is the easy access it the pump itself. My Spectra S2 fits great in the side pocket, with room to spare. I checked my Medela and Hygeia and those fit without a problem.

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The inside of the bag is just as roomie. What use to take three bags to haul, I now fit into one. Yes, I actually lug all that shit around every day.

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The only problem I have found is that once I jam all my stuff in there, it’s impossible to zip. If the bag had a fabric or leather zipper panel, the space inside the bag when zipped would increase significantly. I just leave mine unzipped, but this may not work when traveling.

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I use a Sarah Wells Pumparoo for my pump parts. I love how big (and cute) the wet/dry bag is. My flanges, backflow protectors, and ice pack fit easily in the main compartment.  There a small front pocket too that holds my other pumping necessities (like coconut oilcleansing wipes and hand sanitizer). At some point, this bag will be great for a potty training toddler who needs the occasional outfit change on the road (and a place to put soiled pants). The wet/dry bag has a nice button handle on the side that would make it perfect for clipping onto beach bags for pool day! The only thing I don’t love is that there is little insulation so my ice pack defrosts pretty quickly (I switch it for a new frozen one midday).

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Going back to work sucks, and the baggy butt look is never recommended, but this bag is a little piece of style in a very messy and sometimes frumpy new world.  Want one of your own?  Sarah Wells bags are available on Amazon.com and Buy Buy Baby.  Get yours with an exclusive promo code for Hippie Momma Drama readers. MOMSROCK will get you 15% off of Sarah Wells products on Amazon.com through April 30!

Here’s the reason I pump, no matter how hard it gets.  What’s yours?009

 

 

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The Sweater Still Fits, Asshole: A Birth Story

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Vivian’s birth story begins well before I ever went into labor. You see, my pregnancy with Vivian was planned, but I hadn’t really thought about the birth thing.  At 25 weeks pregnant, Brian and I walked into our first birth preparation class. The stars aligned and we ended up with a childbirth educator who had personally experienced a birth full of interventions and an intervention free birth in a birthing center. She gave factual information about the pros and cons of each intervention (you mean an epidural may increase the chance of a cesarean?!) and alternative pain management techniques (like hypnobirthing, pushing positions, counter pressure and breathing techniques). I left those classes feeling empowered and capable – and excited to fill my doctor in on my wishes – the desire for a natural, intervention free birth.

My appointment came with my OB (who I pretty much picked out of the yellow pages, by the way. I had done more research on our plumber – this method of doctor selection is not recommended.  Try this instead). As I explained to the doctor my wish for a natural birth, he informed me that I “didn’t want that.” When I explained the medical procedures I wanted to avoid unless medically necessary (like an episiotomy and IV fluids) he told me I had no choice – he was the doctor and all.  He informed me that I really shouldn’t worry about it anyway because I had an 85% chance of having a c-section because of my height and I was incapable of birthing a baby over 6 pounds (what the what?!?). Within the same breath, he handed me a consent form for a cesearan. When I asked about the risks of the major surgery, he told me that he’s a great surgeon and I’d recover quickly (how’s that for informed consent?). I asked if he’d allow a trial labor, at which point things got weird. My doctor told me that we could try but that if I gave birth vaginally to a baby over 6lbs, it would be similar to him “wearing my sweater and giving it back – it would never fit again.” Yes, my OB, the one I was suppose to trust during one of the most important and vulnerable moments of my life, just compared my vagina to a sweater. First I was sad, then I was pissed.

I had walked into my appointment feeling empowered and capable and walked out feeling defeated and inadequate. How could my body have already failed me? How do short people still exist if we are incapable of giving birth (which, by the way, he never was able to answer. I mean, evolution is a thing…)?  I called my yoga instructor, who happened to be a birth doula, to see if this was possible – if I was doomed for a cesearan. She recommended I seek a second opinion and sent me the name of another doctor in the area. I called the next morning and scheduled a consultation. During our meeting, which I came to armed with a birth plan and filled with tears and doubt, the doctor told me that I was capable of giving birth as I desired. She let me know that sometimes circumstances do change during birth and that a c-section was always a possibility, but that I was not doomed because of my height. At 30 weeks pregnant I changed doctors.  Another important thing happened at 30 weeks pregnant – remember my yoga instructor? I hired her as our doula and began learning about hypnobirthing.

Based on the medical complications that my previous doctor had listed in my chart, and an elevated blood pressure, my doctor was uncomfortable with me being pregnant much beyond 40 weeks. After discussion of options, risks and benefits, we opted for a membrane sweep the day before my due date (see that – informed consent!). Three hours later, while at work, I noticed regular contractions 3 to 5 minutes apart. I peeked my head into my bosses office, who was a mother of two, and told her I thought it may be time. She swiftly packed my things and walked me to my car with strict instructions to go straight to the hospital. My contractions were steady but not very intense so I went home, calling my husband’s office on the way.  His unmarried, childless co-worker answered the phone. Upon hearing my voice (I never called my husband’s office directly) immediate panic came over him. “He’s in a meeting. I can pull him out. Is it time?” I laughed and told him we had some time and asked for my husband to come home after his meeting. On my drive home a peace fell over me. I knew my baby would be born soon, and I felt prepared to bring her into the world.

I took a shower and ate a small meal when I got home (Tuna, actually. Don’t eat that when you’re about to birth a baby). My husband came home shortly after and we went for a walk around the neighborhood. My contractions became much stronger, causing me to stop each time a wave came and went. A few hours later our doula arrived to helped.  I bounced on a birthing ball, moved into different laboring positions and Brian used counter pressure as the contractions became more intense.  Several hours later we went to the hospital.  The car ride was the most uncomfortable part.  Not only could I not get comfortable, but it was a moment of in-between: I left my home with a bag and would return with a baby.

When we arrived at the hospital, I told the charge nurse in labor and delivery that I was planning a natural birth and asked for a nurse who could be supportive. She rolled her eyes and sent me to triage. Clearly, she was not my supportive nurse. In triage, I was told that I had not dilated past 3cm (which I had been earlier that day at my appointment) and that they would call the doctor. They came back several minutes later and told me that the doctor on call was… Drum roll please… The doctor who was concerned about my sweater – the doctor I had fired. I panicked. No way. No way was that man going to ruin this experience. I asked them to call my new doctor and have her deliver. Several minutes later the nurse came back and said that my new doctor would be the one to deliver (phew!).  The staff “allowed” me to walk the halls for 45 minutes to get things moving. 45 minutes later I was 5cm dialated. I was going to have a baby. And soon.

I moved to a delivery room and started using my hypnobirthing techniques. During each contraction, I imagined the breath going into my uterus, surrounding my baby. As I exhaled, I imagined the air rushing out of my body with the word “progress.” And it was working. I soon moved to 8cm dialated and the nurse called my doctor to tell her I was getting close to push. I quickly moved into transition, where contractions felt almost constant. I vomited the tuna I had eaten earlier that day (told you that was a bad call) and my water broke simultaneously.  My body then paused – a “laboring down” moment. I rested while my body prepared for my baby to enter the world. My doctor arrived while I was laboring down (and 9.5cm dilated) – just in time. Before she could even get settled in, I began feeling the urge to push. I’ve heard people describe their pushing phase in different ways – some people describe it beautifully, as they imagined their baby swimming into the world like a mermaid. Not me. As my baby descended, my uncomfort increased. I came to the conclusion at one point that I was, in fact, incapable. I could not push this baby out. No way, no how. I quickly realized that walking around with a baby half out wasn’t really an option, and entered the threshold of no return. I was going to pretend I was pushing out a ginormous poop (not as beautiful as the mermaid imagery?) – and that I did. My doctor asked if I wanted to catch my baby and I reached down and lifted 7 pound 13.5 ounce Vivian into the world.  I had become a mother.

After Vivian was born, I started hearing about other women who were treated poorly by their care providers, many of which didn’t change doctors, and ended up with terrible traumatic birth experiences that led to things like PTSD, PPD, and PPA. I walked into motherhood feeling like I could accomplish anything, which came in handy at 3am – while so many walked into motherhood feeling inadequate and fearful. This was the beginning of my passion for birth, my questioning of doctors, and a new approach to holistic living.

Oh, and just in case my orginal doctor is still concerned – the sweater still fits, asshole.

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And so was born a blog

Several weeks ago, I posted a status on Facebook about an experience I had at Target where a man thought I was pregnant 9 weeks after delivering my son. I tried to take the situation with grace, and posted about all the wonderful things my stretched out body had recently accomplished.  The post went viral.  It was pretty neat at first, seeing the number of shares grow and grow.  A few news stations and magazines picked it up, like Cosmopolitan and Today.com, and soon the growing number of shares wasn’t neat, but rather sad.  They say that news stories are usually the man bit dog, not dog bit man stories – the unusual and unexpected.  What was so unusual and unexpected about a woman loving her body, despite her “flaws”?  A lot, apparently.  I received messages from strangers thanking me for sharing my story, comments on my post from women who had gone 25 years hating their postpartum bodies, stories shared about women not swimming with their children for years for the fear of someone seeing their stretch marks.  Really?  What is society doing to women for us to feel this way – for years?!  I couldn’t believe that so many women felt so badly about themselves and were self-conscious of themselves as people and, equally as important, as parents.  And then I read a few comments.  What unrealistic, unnecessary, and even cruel expectations fellow humans have for us – for mothers (newsflash: if a women’s priority barely two months after giving birth is fitting in her prepregnancy pants, good for her, but most of us are just trying to shower on a somewhat regular basis and drink enough coffee to pretend we are awake).

And so was born a blog. This blog, to be specific.  It seems my very honest story of a trip to Target helped a few women feel a little more confident – a little more normal, even – for a couple of days.  We should feel encouraged and empowered and normal and appreciated and not alone far more often.  So here I will document my stories – my usually messy, often awkward, but always good hearted stories.  There will be talk of parenting, breastfeeding, holistic living, probably poop, a few swear words and lots of laughing – so if any of those things make you uncomfortable this may not be the place for you.  Actually, scratch that, this is EXACTLY the place for you because we should all do a little lightening up.