My Birth Stories + Nuroo Baby Giveaway!


Apologies for the silence around here, if you are familiar with me at all you know that I recently had a baby. Even though I hadn’t planned to take so much time off, once I met my little angel I was just obsessed with her, and I decided it would be good for me to just unplug a bit, from blogging, social media, and pretty much everything else in my life, in order to focus on the miracle in front of me. It was an easy decision because I just want to stare at her all day anyway, whenever I look at her my heart fills with so much love and joy I just want to cry (and to be perfectly honest, I often do).

As of today we are one month in and enjoying every minute of baby Sophia Rose!

To celebrate, I am teaming up with the fabulous Nuroo Baby and giving away a multi-use cover (pictured above) and a pocket tee! I love my pocket tee (see me wearing it here) because it allows me to have skin to skin time with baby, she loves it so much and almost immediately falls into a deep sleep every time I wear it. You can also get 20% off of your online order with my code: LOVEZAHRA, which is good through 2017! It is also a great gift for any mom to be.

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Winner will be announced one week from today – good luck!

My Birth Stories

Since this is my first post back after my ‘maternity leave’, I thought it would be fun to share my birth story. Since I’ve given birth twice now, I’ve learned a few lessons along the way. Hopefully there will be something positive for you to take away!

First off, having Sophia couldn’t have been any more different than Adam. For Adam, I had gone to great lengths to make sure I had my idea of a blissful natural birth. I even switched doctors mid pregnancy because I felt mine had a rate of c-sections that was too high for my liking. Side note: one thing I’ve learned after having two babies – no matter what you do to prepare, things don’t always go as planned.

With Adam I was in labor for two days and it seemed to be no end in sight. I had only dilated 3 centimeters and it didn’t look like anything would change. Tom sat next to me and held my hand, with a helpless expression on his face every time I had another painful contraction. I don’t think I’ve ever cried so much as I did then. After all of that laboring, I ended up with an emergency c-section due to baby’s falling heart rate. I remember everything happening as one big blur, and Adam was out in less than 15 minutes. I was so thankful he was healthy, but also sort of in a state of exhaustion and shock from the whole experience. Postpartum I had many issues, my legs and feet filled up with fluids and looked like balloons and I had to get a few CT Scans to make sure I didn’t have serious blood clots (thankfully, I didn’t). I was so anxious to get back to my normal routine, that I started cleaning almost immediately after I was discharged home. I ended up with an infection in my incision, which actually ruptured while I was vacuuming my room – and I had to go to the emergency room and get it stitched up again. I strongly advise against too much physical exertion after delivery – even though its tempting – there is a very good reason why they say to hold off on exercise for at least 6 weeks. I’m pretty sure I was traumatized afterwards, and that might be what made me hold off on plans for a second baby for such a long while.

For Sophia Rose,  I decided on a scheduled repeat c-section. I could have tried for a Vbac but according to my doctor there was still a good chance we could end up with an c-section anyway. It may seem crazy but, part of me felt guilty for making this decision because I felt like I was being selfish thinking of my own comfort, and I also imagined people would judge me or possibly think less of me for not even trying. Then I talked about it with my husband and other family members, and once I felt their strong support of my decision, I didn’t care about anyone else’s opinions and, more importantly, I stopped being so critical of myself.

Going in for a repeat C-Section is like going in to the hospital for any major surgery. It is scheduled for one week before your actual due date, I’m assuming so that you don’t go in to labor before it. I started off getting prepped in the operating room, where I was given a spinal block that numbed me completely from the waist down. When I looked around the room I saw all of the medical instruments laid out on the table that I knew would soon be used to slice through my abdomen. All of the sudden I was stricken with fear and my body went stiff while I imagined the worst-case hypothetical scenarios that might leave my children mother-less and husband wife-less. I squeezed Tom’s hand the whole time, praying that nothing would go wrong. Despite all of my fears, Sophia’s birth went smoothly, with just a little trouble getting her significantly large head out. Tom and I always joke about how huge his head is and how small mine is, and though I was holding my breath and fighting tears throughout the entire surgery, as soon as I heard the doctor exclaim ‘wow, she’s got a huge head!’ I laughed out loud, exhaled deeply, and cried tears of joy. Tom brought Sophia over to me and I felt a huge wave of relief.

I love that at my hospital they never take the baby away from you, not only because of my irrational fears that somehow my baby will be switched at birth (probably a result of watching one too many Dateline’s – ha!). Immediately after surgery I am transferred to the recovery room where I start skin to skin time with baby. It is so amazing how many benefits there are to skin to skin with mom- including (among other things) regulating the baby’s body temperature, accelerating brain development, and improving their quality of sleep.  Also further proving the theory that women are super-human creatures ~

I stayed in the hospital another three days, on a strict liquid diet the first two until my body could handle more. I struggled to walk around at first, but my desire to shower and change out of my gown was stronger than my pain.

I thought nursing Sophia would be easy but it turned out to be incredibly difficult. We had a hard time getting a good latch so I ended up with cracked bleeding nipples that would scab up and then bleed again whenever I tried to nurse – and yes it is just as horrible and painful as it sounds. Every time I would feed I would wince with pain and hold my breath until it was over. I was nearly going to give it up, but since I had nursed Adam for nine months and loved it, I was determined to try everything possible to get it right for Sophia. What helped me was having a meeting with a lactation consultant to diagnose what I could improve upon, and also watching numerous youtube video tutorials. The key for me was to get comfortable and relaxed before feeding, which was difficult in a sterile hospital room with people around me constantly. At home I sat in Sophia’s room away from any noise or distractions, with lots of supporting pillows. I also had to position her in a variety of ways to find her favorite, which was the ‘football hold’. Once I was relaxed and comfortable, my milk let down much easier, and if she wasn’t latched properly, I was able to gently take her off of me and try getting her to latch again, instead of just bearing the pain and adding to the damage to my skin.  In order to heal more quickly, the lactation consultant advised me to express a small amount of milk on to the broken skin, and let it air dry. That as well as a a lanolin cream soothed and helped me get through the roughest period. While my scabs healed I nursed for shorter periods of time more often. It took a good two weeks of trying, and what seemed to be nursing around the clock, but now I am enjoying the beautiful bonding connection that nursing a baby brings, without any of the pain.

I was lucky enough to have my mom stay with me for almost an entire month after, helping me with baby duties and cooking really great healthy meals so that I might heal more quickly. But even with all of the help I had, there were still moments when the sleep deprivation and pain was overwhelming for me and I would burst out crying. When that happened, I would stop doing anything I was planning on doing and I just slept. Along with getting as much sleep as I could, I made sure to stick with my pain meds – which for me was absolutely key to both my recovery and my sanity.

Final thoughts – When it comes to giving birth it is so important to be able to go with the flow – (also a key skill for parenting!). Be prepared for things to be wildly different than what you had imagined, and also different from anyone else’s personal experience. In the end if you are left with a healthy baby, that is all that matters. Other tips I swear by:  take recovery seriously, rest often and eat really, really well!

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  • I was looking all over for a 2009 photo to do my 10 year thing - and I finally realized why I don’t have any! Some of you may already know this, but in the beginning of 2009 I got into a bad snowmobile accident where I had to be airlifted to a hospital and ended up in a coma for 3 days and ended up having a huge hematoma in my head (thankfully it healed on its own) and I had to get surgery on my broken collarbone m that is now metal plated! You may have noticed I have one bumpy collarbone - that’s the one haha. That near death experience set in motion so many things that would change my life. Most importantly I started living life for myself, I thought about all the things I would have regretted if I actually died that day. I (first broke up with but then) got married to my love @tom_sandberg, started practicing yoga regularly, tried a lot of new hobbies including horseback riding, I had a baby, started my blog, quit my job, had another baby, and now I’m at this really weird point of life - trying to decide what’s next. Now that Sophia’s getting older I have slightly more time to invest in my career, and I’m still trying to figure out where exactly I want to put my energy. 2019 is my year of exploration ~ anyone else at a similar turning point??
  • Throwback to Sophia’s first birthday! She turns two soon and I’m at a loss for ideas...(Bahamian beach party isn’t in the cards this year) I’m a theme kinda girl so please share your ideas! #birthdaygirl #tropicalparty #bahamas
  • Notes on being an American born of Pakistani immigrants...
Thanks to @urdumom for the q’s - check my highlights for expanded answers
1. Were you ever labeled an ABCD? What did you feel about that? 
Ha! Yes - I would still consider myself an 'ABCD' (American born confused Desi) although I think 'intersectional' is what the kids are calling it these days. As a kid it was difficult navigating both cultures, simultaneously being both and neither. I still struggle with it, to be honest, but I'm just now beginning to see that it is such a blessing to be sort of an outsider. It ultimately made me much more emotionally intelligent, and also broadened my perspective. 
2. Did you get to travel to Pakistan with your parents as a kid? How was the experience? 
Yes! We traveled often - almost every year - and I absolutely loved it. As a kid it was fun playing with the goats and chickens in my dads village, or shopping in the huge maze of bazaars in the city. When I was in tenth grade, my parents even sent me to Pakistan because they thought I was getting too 'wild'. Long story short, they are so advanced in education in Pakistan, we realized me going to school there meant I had to go back two grade levels, so they gave up on that plan and the whole trip became an extended vacation. I was SO resentful that I had to come back to America! I LOVED Pakistan so much. But I also knew my parents were now out of major punishment options - so I fulfilled their prophecy and became pretty wild 😜 
3. Did you face bullying at school for being different? 
sure! My first name Itrat was something kids really liked to tease me about. 'It's a rat' was a fan favorite. Kids would laugh at me and say that my dad worked at the gas station while imitating an Indian accent like Apu from The Simpsons, and they would ask me why I'm not wearing a red dot. I remember once arguing with a girl who then called me a rag head, and I thought she meant my hair was raggedy, but my older brother filled me in that she was referencing our Muslim heritage. 
4. How did your parents keep your Pakistani roots alive at home? 
My parents are both from Pakistan, so we had the food, language, music, books
More in comments
  • Northern Cali folks, my sister Rania will be teaching a Spring course called Global Islam: Culture and Civilization - at American River College in (my hometown) Sacramento! The course is introductory but covers a wide breadth of topics including the origins of Islam, the Prophetic traditions, Arts and Literature, and modern concepts as well. There are still a couple of open spots so I wanted to spread the word in case anyone was interested! Swipe left for even more detail. Save this post, share it, spread the word! (Also side note: this is a throwback way back from Sophia’s baby shower - the most recent pic we have together because I was not about to post a flyer on the feed 💁🏾‍♀️)
  • All I need in this life of sin...p.s. a bunch of old guys kept asking us where we are ‘from’ (because obvs we couldn’t be from here 🙃) - and they couldn’t believe it was Pakistan either - im going to just say outer space next time...👽 #girlfriends #ladiesnight #gno
  • SO glad I forced myself to go out tonight with my girls, sometimes we forget how much we love each other’s company 💕 #gno #chicago #girls
  • She won’t even take a bite out of something she doesn’t like - I learn lessons from this QUEEN every damn day! 🙏🏾💕 👑 👧🏻
  • When you always think the song is about you 🎶 (Queen + Adam Lambert tour here we come!)
Also going to do more stand up comedy this year because, well - being a wife and mom - no one listens to me any more and I need my validation so...yeah
Also: wearing this coat all winter long because I’m a proud outfit repeater 👊🏽 (Also because I’m an old coat kind of girl  don’t @ me) ~
  • 1) hanging with my sister Nusrat who has been here visiting since New Year’s Eve - we are 13 months apart so basically we’re twins 👯 except when it comes to our personalities we are polar opposites ☯️ she has always been the one person who constantly humbled me  whenever I thought I was too cool (which was often) she would put me in my place (whether I liked it or not) and now as an adult I really appreciate that 
2) me doing Nusrat’s makeup as I’ve always been the resident makeup/hair/stylist in the family
 3) Sophia’s lewk 😍 
2019 is starting off pretty great I’d say!

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