A Birthing Center Birth || Aria Josephine

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One week ago exactly, from the time I’m typing these words, my midwife agreed to break my water. Five hours later, Aria Josephine slid (for lack of a less graphic word) into the world and made us all fall in love all over again. From that minute on, it’s been a whirlwind of snuggles, sleeplessness, staring, and trying my darn best to soak up every last bit of these early days with my third girl.

I don’t know if it’s because it’s my third pregnancy, but everything about this time around felt so natural — not easy or smooth all the time, mind you, but very, very natural. Knowing what to expect makes things scarier in ways, but it also provides such a peace of mind that allowed me to trust my body and my instincts in ways I never have before. And I think that trust, ultimately, is what made this birth such a beautiful experience.

I know I don’t usually share such intimate things on my blog, but for the sake of anyone who is as obsessed with reading birth stories as I am (it’s a weird mom thing…don’t ask…) or for any of you who are pregnant, considering a non-hospital birth, or are curious about our story, I wanted to share all the details of that night in all their birth-y glory. Read on at your own expense and be prepared for all of the details of an unfiltered birth experience.

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After two unmedicated hospital births, I knew I wanted to give birth at a birthing center if I ever got pregnant again. Evie and Mara’s births were beautiful, but I craved more freedom, less mandatory intervention, and the opportunity to make this labor as fast and unencumbered as possible.

I’ll include the same disclaimer here that I did when I shared Mara’s birth story — I fully believe that all births are “natural births” so I won’t use that terminology here, I also had relatively low-risk and smooth pregnancies each time, so I can’t say that I would have made the same decisions I did under different circumstances — but I also won’t shy away from sharing about why I chose to forego medication and trust my body, because I’m really damn proud of myself. And you should be too, no matter how or through what means you bring a human into the world.

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May 19-20

I was 39 weeks and 3 days and had been having regular but mild contractions for days. I knew it wasn’t labor, but each time I timed them and a new wave came I got excited hoping they’d increase slowly but surely. After days of it, I was getting really emotionally exhausted and just ready for baby to get here.

A spring snow storm was on the way (we’re talking over 20 inches of snow) and with contractions happening every 10 minutes apart for most of the day, I was convinced baby was coming soon and neither AJ or I wanted to be stuck in the mountains (where there isn’t a place to give birth except in emergencies) when I went into active labor. We decided to head to Denver, book our AirBnb early for the week, and if baby came that night, great, if not, we’d do everything we could to get here while we were there.

Baby did not come that night, in fact. She made us wait two more days (full of all-day prodromal labor). During those days we did all of the labor inducing things I could think of. I walked countless flights of stairs, had sex lots of times (tmi, I know, but I told you I’d spare none of the details, right?), hooked myself up to my breast pump, bounced on my birthing ball, and ate spicy food. The contractions were still steady, but too short and not progressing.

May 21

9:00 AM— After lots of research and ok-ing it with my midwife, I convinced myself the night before that if I didn’t go into labor on my own, I’d try castor oil first thing in the morning to see if that sped anything up.

I took less than half the recommended dose of 2 tablespoons at about 9 AM (shaken with orange juice to help it go down) and by about noon I had a bowel movement and ramped up contractions. I knew that was to be expected though, so AJ and I decided to go “mall walk” like a couple of 78 year olds to see if that helped.

Surprise, it did.

12:30 PM — The combination of walking and the effects of the castor oil had my contractions coming every six minutes or so and they were definitely increasing in intensity, but weren’t lasting more than 30-40 seconds. I felt like it could be early labor, but also didn’t want the contractions to stop out of nowhere like they had everyday before.

1:50 PM — I had an appointment with my midwife scheduled already, so I decided to track my contractions as well as I could and see what she thought I should do. When she saw me, the first thing she said was that my “eyes looked like I was in labor” and I updated her with where I was at. At that point I was dilated to 5 cm and my cervix was thinning but not completely thinned, I was encouraged that progress was happening and knew that these early contractions were helping get everything ready. She did a membrane sweep as well which can speed things up even more.

We both agreed that we should stay nearby, try to get contractions moving along, and see where things went. She called the midwife on duty to let her know I was there and in the meantime, I walked up and down the flights of stairs at the birthing center probably 20 times to keep the contractions coming and hopefully speed them up.

3:30 PM — We were settled in our birthing room and the midwife had me on a “routine” to help encourage early labor to move into active labor. I sat on a birthing ball and pumped for 10 minute increments and also took doses of herbal tinctures (blue/black cohosh and cotton root bark) intermittently according to her schedule. (Side note: don’t attempt these things without your midwife’s supervision or approval…there are mixed studies on the effectiveness of the herbs, but I trusted her and was ready to try just about anything short of pitocin to get things going). We did two rounds of this routine and although the contractions were still coming (she’d pause the pumping to listen to baby’s heart rate each time as well to make sure the “induction” wasn’t stressing baby), they weren’t progressing to an active labor status quite yet.

4:30 PM — We decided to get some dinner, walk around a bit more, and then come back to the birth center for another round of ball/pump/herbs and then she’d check me to see where I was at.

7:00 PM — By this point, I was dilated to 6 cm, but contractions were still relatively mild (I would definitely say they hurt, but weren’t at the point that I needed to make noise or stop moving through them). I was 75% effaced and baby’s head was extremely low (the midwife could touch it so easily with each check it almost shocked me that I wasn’t more uncomfortable).

8:00 PM — We decided to break my water. This seemed like a scary call to make because once your water breaks, there’s no turning back…but my midwife said that she felt comfortable with the decision because of how low baby’s head was, how dilated I was, and because of my history of uncomplicated labors post-water breaking. (See below for the reality of labor once your water breaks in all its adult-diaper-y goodness).

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From here on out, my timeline is really messy, because things kicked in quickly after breaking my water. Active labor came on fast and my midwife drew me a bath in the incredible birthing tub that I had literally been dreaming about my entire pregnancy.

I spent hours in the bathtub, rocking on my hands and knees through contractions, focusing on breathing deeply, distracting my thoughts, and feeling strong through each of them. It was late, and I was getting tired which made me nervous, but I was determined to keep my labor progressing as much as I could and not do anything that could slow it down.

10:00 PM - 11:00 PM — I tried getting out of the tub several times to walk around the room (as much as you can walk around once your water breaks and you’re moaning your way through contractions). I used a “sling” hung from the ceiling to support my weight and squatted down during contractions to encourage baby to move further down. At this point, the contractions were intense and, as much as I hoped it wouldn’t happen, I had very painful back labor with each and every one of them. I needed AJ to apply intense counter-pressure on my pelvis to counteract the burning in my back, and ultimately, I ended up back in the bathtub because it at least soothed the rest of my body during the contractions.

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May 22

12:00 AM — I had been feeling lots of pressure (I thought it was a true bowel movement at first) and after lots of trips to the toilet, knew I’d be pushing soon. Baby was sitting SO low that resisting the urge to push was intense.

I still had about a centimeter to dilate and my midwife said there was just a lip of my cervix left to go and that she thought she could slide it over enough to let me push. We tried several positions for this…for some reason, the tub didn’t feel comfortable to me, I was getting light headed, really tired, and the contractions were so intense that I felt like being on my hands and knees would help move baby down and let me push more easily.

I had several contractions on the bed, on my hands and knees with AJ bent over me by my head applying counter pressure to my back (which wasn’t even helping at this point — I kept telling him to push harder but he physically couldn’t push any harder than he was, which if you’ve seen the man, is impressive). The midwife was behind me, ready to coach me through pushing and I tried pushing a bit at a time and although it helped a little bit, I didn’t have the overwhelming urge to push like I was expecting.

The last hour was the most intense part of transition and I slowly moved from the bed to the tub and finally to a birth stool because I really felt like my body wanted me to be upright for the pushing phase. (I pushed reclined in a hospital bed for both of my other two and was pretty convinced after all of my research and reading during this pregnancy that this position is one of the most unhelpful for an unmedicated labor).

I won’t sugar coat it…this part was hard. Labor is WORK. Aside from the pain of the contractions, my body was physically exhausted and I gathered every last bit of energy I had left to get this baby here.

1:05 AM — Aria Josephine was born. On a birthing stool, which is strange because I didn’t even consider that option before going into labor, but once I needed to push, it felt so good to be able to sit down, be upright, and use the stool to help me pull up, bear down, and push. My midwife coached me though “controlled pushing” which is something most hospitals don’t encourage (I had an episiotomy both times before because of the rush to get the baby out). I pushed with each contraction in short bursts, holding her there until my midwife told me to push again. It took only a few minutes, and I touched her head with my fingers, and pushed her out, no tearing or episiotomy required.

From there, the midwives immediately handed her to me and we slowly walked our way (through the post-birth shakes and blood) onto the bed to rest and birth the placenta.

For more than an hour, Aria laid on my chest, bonding, nursing when she was ready, and allowing both of us to recover. The midwife and nurse took her vitals while she was on my chest and eventually, probably two or three hours later, did her apgar test while I took another bath to clean up and relax.

We bonded as the three of us in the bed for most of the night. The midwives made me a bowl of adaptogenic porridge (seriously the most glorious meal of my life) and I spent most of the night in awe of this little life that I worked so hard to bring into the world.

At 6 am the next morning we packed up and went back to our AirBnb (I was hesitant about the birthing center’s quick release time, but knew that as long as everything went smoothly, there wasn’t a reason for us to stay longer than that).

A week later, I’ve been so happily surprised with how much easier my recovery has been in comparison to my other births. I’m fairly positive it’s due to the fact that I didn’t tear (something that can usually be avoided except in emergencies or rare occasions), and because I didn’t treat this birth like a “medical event”, but rather like a continuation of my daily life.


This birth was by far my favorite experience of the three, not because it was “easier”, less painful, or less exhausting (it wasn’t), but because I made such a concerted effort during my pregnancy to trust my body, let go of fear of the unknown, and not think of labor as something to “get through” but rather a beautiful and important (albeit really difficult) part of my journey in becoming Aria’s mama.

If you’re pregnant and hoping to do things with as little intervention as possible, here’s a quick run down of things I did towards the end of my pregnancy and throughout labor to (maybe) shorten my labor and keep me going throughout it:

  • Spent lots of time on my birthing ball during my third trimester (helps move baby down in the pelvis and position them in an ideal position for birth).

  • Read lots of birth stories (seriously so helpful). My favorite books were Birthing From Within and Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth.

  • Ate 4-6 raw dates per day

  • Drank Red Raspberry Leaf tea (an entire box during the last few weeks — it’s so good!)

  • Walked everyday, and especially throughout the Braxton Hicks and prodromal labor contractions

  • Had sex at least once a day if I was up to it (semen helps soften the cervix and climaxing encourages contractions)

  • Breast simulation/pumping (only at term and I didn’t go overboard until I was in Denver and committed to getting the baby out. It was super effective at keeping contractions going).

  • Squat/lunged/skipped stairs to encourage proper positioning in the pelvis

  • Utilized deep breathing, envisioning the contractions as “waves” helping me open up, and practiced staying calm throughout contractions

  • Used a Tens Unit during transition (it didn’t take away any pain, but the electrical currents at least provided a different sensation for me to focus on)

  • Communicated with AJ the entire time

Welcome to the world, sweet girl, thank you for letting me be the one to get you here.

Conversations on Confidence & Raising Daughters

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One of the most common questions I’m asked as a mama of multiple girls is “are you going to try for a boy"? Well meaning strangers see AJ with his daughters and jokingly suggest that he’s “going to have his hands full” when they’re teenagers, or that it’s a shame he’s so outnumbered.

Although we’ve never been discontent with our girl gang, the idea of instilling self-confidence and individuality at a young age in my girls weighs heavy on my mind. Raising boys, which of course I have no experience with but know through chatting with friends, research, and watching my own brothers grow up into men, is naturally a different experience and being a mom of only girls is a mental adjustment I’m still working on.

I’m keenly aware of just how closely my five and three year old watch me. Everyday when I get dressed, put on makeup, size up my ever changing body in the mirror, or make snide comments about my body that I don’t think they’ll understand, I’m aware (usually after the fact) of their little brown and blue eyes watching me and their growing minds processing how I see myself. Will they resent me when they’re older for getting eyelash extensions? Am I letting them try out my lipstick too early? Is their wardrobe too “girly”? Am I modeling a balanced perspective of femininity? Did they see me scrolling Instagram admiring the wardrobe/lifestyle/body type/life phase of someone else? How do I, a young mom still very much figuring this whole self-confidence thing out for myself, instill these vital traits in my daughters?

This post is less of a “how to” guide (because in the realm of parenting, those don’t really exist) and more of a conversation around the subject of self-confidence and a few ways I’m working on modeling it in my day to day life in front of the girls. Of course, the same concepts can apply to raising boys too, and whether you’re raising boys or girls, I’d love to hear your tips and suggestions on the subject!

Let them do “big” things

All kids love “helping” their parents do adult-y things and, despite the fact that their efforts to help or join in usually aren’t all that helpful, I think it’s vital for kids to try their hand at the things mom and dad are doing AND feel reinforced in their efforts. For us, it’s usually letting the girls “get ready” with me in the morning, even if they smear lipstick all over their faces or pick out mismatching outfits. It’s letting them stir the cookie batter, even though you know it will be messier and take longer. It’s letting them help clean up and giving them the time to scoop snow with daddy, even if the snow all ends up back in the pathway. These simple (slightly inconvenient) gestures instill confidence in my girls through simply giving them a safe space to experiment, help, and learn new things.

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Don’t classify their appearance

I’ve made this mistake SO MANY TIMES and I’m sure I’ll make it a lot more, but I think especially with girls, it’s so important to let them take the lead when it comes to what they love to wear, how they like their hair done, and even what kind of toys they play with. A few months ago, I was helping Evie get ready for preschool and she walked in with an entirely pink outfit on; from head to toe, bright pink. I mentioned something about that outfit being really “girly” and asked if maybe she wanted to change her pants or something, and for a few weeks afterward she was obsessed with making sure her outfits were “girly enough” and didn’t become “too girly”.

Regardless of my personal taste (which tends to be super neutral, especially for kids), I’m working on letting them pick clothes/toys/hair styles just because they love them, and not necessarily because it fits a certain aesthetic or stereotype.

My girls love beautiful things, as most girls do, and little surprises like their You & Me Tassel Necklaces from Sela Designs are the perfect little accents to start conversations around inner beauty and highlighting it with beautifully made things that they truly love.

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Model self-care

For the first few years of my motherhood journey I rarely made myself a priority. Of course, it’s not easy when you’re raising babies or toddlers or multiples, but as my girls have gotten older and as I’ve done the same, I’ve learned that in order for me to raise them well and lead by example I’ve got to give myself time to recharge.

Self-care may be trendy at the moment, but in practice, it isn’t always easy or glamorous. Sometimes it means forcing a naptime because I can’t function without sleeping. Sometimes it means letting my husband take over bedtime so I can squeeze a shower in after he gets home from work. However it looks each day, I’ve been working on modeling language around caring for myself (especially easy for them to understand while I’m pregnant) and separating it from them. For example, I’m trying not to say things like “mommy needs alone time because you’ve been wearing me out today”. ;)

As they grow up though, I hope they’ll be able to look back and see that self-care is an act of courage sometimes, and that I modeled it well most of the time.

Take the focus off of their appearance early on

Girls grow up with conversations centered on their appearance from such a young age. And, of course, there’s nothing wrong with telling a girl she’s beautiful (that’s important too!), I’m working on mentally rewriting my own script for when it comes to talking to my girls and complimenting them.

I’ll try to focus equally on their character, their choices, or their talents, instead of their appearance only. Pieces like my Round + Square silk scarves or t-shirts (which my girls have been known to steal from time to time) have empowering phrases on them that help spark conversation. Instead of saying how “pretty” their hair looks, I can talk about what being “brave and kind” means or what “#equality” looks like early on, or why “Girl Power” isn’t just a catch phrase.

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I’m still very much a work in progress as a mother, especially as I think about my girls getting older and requiring more and more intentional modeling and behavior.

My job is on the internet, requires me to take photos of myself all the time, get new things, and seems very externally focused on the surface, so I have ample room for improvement and conversation around self-confidence and inner beauty.

How are you having these hard conversations with your kiddos? I’d love to hear your experiences.


*This post is part of a long term collaboration with Sela Designs and ROUND + SQUARE. All content ideas, creative direction, photos, and children are my own ;) Please do not use my photos without permission.*

Jackalo || Strong Enough for Kids, Gentle on the Planet

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Ah, children’s clothes. Although the vast majority of my kids’ clothing is secondhand or hand-me-downs, on the rare occasion that we buy a new piece for our girls, it usually lasts about as long as it takes for them to outgrow it or for them to rip a hole in it. Children’s apparel isn’t designed to last, because at the rate kids grow, why would it be? When you’re continually having to size up, wash away the ketchup stains, patch ripped knees, and wish for better options, it’s no wonder that shopping sustainably for your kids (at least for me) is one of the first things to go.

Aside from there being shockingly few options for ethically made kids clothes, when I have come across brands in the past I have a hard time justifying the price tag for the amount of wears my kids will get out of the item. If a piece lasts only one season before E & M outgrow or destroy it, what’s the point?

Luckily, "hard to find” doesn’t mean impossible and today’s brand goes above and beyond in terms of sustainability AND practicality for kids.

Marianna, the owner, designer, one-woman-show behind Jackalo, knows a thing or two about the struggle most parents face while looking for clothes that will last for children. A mother of two herself, she grew frustrated with the lack of sustainable options that wouldn’t cost her an arm and a leg, especially since her sons would play their way through each pair in no time.

She decided to take matters into her own hands and design a kid’s pant that could withstand normal rough and tumble and check all of the boxes in the sustainability field. Thus, Jackalo was born.

Their pants, the brand’s first product along with a coverall, are made from organic, fair trade cotton. The knees are doubled with a reinforced layer, to make them extra durable and rip free. To sweeten the deal, each pair comes in gender neutral colors and is able to be rolled up to save a bit of length until your child grows into them.

In this post, Evie is wearing the Ash Lined Engineer Stripe pant (paired with leopard print, of course) and Mara is wearing the Jax Berry pant, both in size 4 (they’re 3 and 5 but roughly the same size, so I went in the middle).

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Circular Consumerism

One of my favorite things about Jackalo is their Trade Up program. Marianna knows how quickly kids grow and even though her pants are meant to accommodate a wider range than most, her Trade Up program takes over when time has done it’s work and the pants no longer fit. They will take back any Jackalo pant, to repair and resell at a discount, and give you a 20% discount towards your next pair. It keeps their pants out of landfill and ensures that each pair is truly getting the maximum wear.

Jackalo is refreshingly transparent about where and how their organic cotton is grown, and even share links for customers to learn more about the milling, weaving, and assembly process.

In my chats with Marianna (I also work with her on a freelance basis, so I’ve gotten a more in-depth look into her brand than most), she’s mentioned how much of a labor of love growing Jackalo has been. Sourcing organic and fair trade materials isn’t the convenient route by any means, and neither is accepting old product back for resale, but she’s so committed to bettering the world (and our children’s quality of play) through her pieces that each extra step is worth it.

Keep an eye out for new pieces from Jackalo soon — they’re truly doing their part to create conscious and practical clothes for kids who play hard.


*This piece was sponsored by Jackalo — thank you for supporting the brands that make SL&Co. possible.*

Slow Living || Using Social Media For Good Around Your Kids

We interrupt our normal mess of fashion related posts to bring you a topic of a different kind. Something, in fact, that I've been holding off on writing about because, admittedly, I'm terrible at it. But if I've learned anything from blogging and the authenticity that goes along with it, it's that the posts that I avoid writing the longest are usually the ones most worth writing. 

I often sing the praises of "slow and intentional". And I believe in that lifestyle wholeheartedly. I try, as best I can in a world that promotes more/faster/better/haphazard, to slow down, make my choices from a place of intention, and to raise my girls to do the same. I'm an advocate for "boredom" and schedule as much intentional downtime into my 4 & 2 year old's lives as possible. But there's one area that I've always struggled to use intentionally, especially around my girls, and it's one that I already know I'm not alone in. 

Social Media. 

Of course, my girls are far too young to have their own devices or social media outlets, but the reality is that they've been born into the "digital age" and navigating that reality as a parent is far from easy. I think both my daughters understood how to work an iPhone from the time they were 18- months old. They both can run Netflix without help, answer my phone, and even like wasting time with Instagram filters with me. 

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It can seem harmless and, of course, to some extent it is, but raising children in a world so immersed in social media, connection, and immediacy means that things like comparison, discontent, self-loathing, and wandering into unsafe "online territory" can begin happening at younger ages than ever before. 

To give some balance to the fear that can drive parenting, I've determined to never parent from a "sheltered" or fear-based line of thought. So, of course, I'm not hiding my girls from all social media or pretending like it doesn't exist. However, I'm equally determined to "use social media for good" in my family - despite the times I've failed to do so. 

Here are a few habits I'm hoping to implement more consistently in my day to day to teach my girls that social media can be used for good, but that it's not the "be all end all". 


1. Set specific times to post/check social media

I put this tip first because it's the one I fail at most often. I'm on my phone around my girls ALL THE TIME and although I don't feel like I have to be off it entirely, limiting my own screentime, especially around them, trains us both to value each other's company and detach from social media all the more. 

This is one of the "cornerstones" of my Social Media Detox from several years ago and, starting now, I'm hoping to make it less of a detox routine and more of an everyday habit. 

2. Be intentional with who you follow

Although this may not seem to directly impact your kids, they'll pick up on more than you realize. If you follow accounts that cause you discontent or to compare yourself in unhealthy ways, those feelings will bleed into your day to day life. The occasional sigh when you look in the mirror or exclamation that you "wish you looked more like so and so" can stick with your kids longer than you'd ever intend. 

Instead, follow accounts that inspire and uplift you.

3.  Decide ahead of time how/when your kids can "sign on"

Having a plan in advance when it comes to social media and your kids is a simple way to reduce anxiety and parent intentionally. They'll know, as they get older, what your expectations are and how social media fits into their lives at a particular phase. 

4. Teach them from a young age to unplug

A balance that is easier to imagine than achieve, setting boundaries with screen time/social media is tricky regardless of whether your kids are in school or daycare, whether you work from home with them, or a combination of it all. For me, since my job is entirely online, I try to keep the days when I work while my kids are "plugged into" Netflix to a minimum. Instead, I let them play and make messes around me while I work - not simple, inspiring, or easy most of the time, but it creates a balance between work and play that I think is crucial for kids. 


How have you decided to use social media in your household? I'd love to hear all of the tips and ideas!

Slow Parenting || When It's Hard

Slow Parenting || When It's Hard

I scream "slow down" from my internal rooftops all day everyday. Part of my job involves advertising slow fashion brands. My closet is carefully curated to make getting dressed easier, eliminating decision fatigue. Our kitchen is stocked with healthy foods, meant to make feeding a family of four easier than rummaging through cupboards of unknown ingredients. But one of the most important areas of my life is often the hardest for me to live "slowly" in. 

Our recent move is my excuse for every stress in my life, both inconsequential and significant, but it's been over a month and the transition isn't getting any simpler. As we "ease into" (I like using phrases that downplay how difficult it really feels- words like "transition" make it seem neat and tidy, but when is it, really?) our new life, I'm realizing that my approach to parenting lately has been anything but slow. 

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