For those of you who’ve been following the blog for some time now, then you may remember one of my very first interviews with Kelsey Oviedo. At the time she had just returned from an RV road trip through New Zealand with her hubby and while there they announced that they were expecting their first child.
Kelsey was an active yoga instructor, ICU nurse, and traveler at the time, and I was so curious to see how she was planning to navigate motherhood in her own unique way. Her interview was so full of energy and inspiration, that I was determined to get a follow up chat in with her once she gave birth.
Kelsey is now a little more than 3 months postpartum (she’s overcome the momentous 4th trimester) and I figured this would be a great time to give you guys a peek into her world.
AM: Please introduce yourself and your family to A Global Tribe of Women.
KO: Hi friends! My name is Kelsey Oviedo. I am a wife, mother, nurse and yoga teacher/enthusiast, living life on Guam.
AM: Please share your birth experience.
KO: The birth of our daughter was the most intense, emotional and empowering experience I’ve ever had. Overall, we had an AMAZING birth experience. With the help of our rockstar doula, Lynn Jones, my husband and I felt fully supported and somewhat prepared (as prepared as you can be as first time parents! Lol) bringing our daughter into the world.
As a nurse, I have seen multiple births in nursing school and had an idea of what birth would look like. I had also read a ridiculous amount of birth stories during pregnancy. Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth was such a great resource as well as The Birth Story Podcast. Listening or reading a birth story or two each night gave me a constant reminder that our bodies were made to grow and give birth to babies. This helped to calm my anxiety, knowing that SO many women have brought life into the world in countless ways, be it natural, c-section, medicated, etc.
On July 5th, at 40w + 5d, I woke up to rushes (a euphemism for “contractions”) at 3am. They started strong and consistent & we knew this would be the day we would meet our daughter! It felt like Christmas. Somewhere along the hours of labor, I started listening to some music to relax… I didn’t realize it would be the most important thing to get me through the rushes. I had to hum or sing during each one! It took me by surprise since I’m not a singer by trade, but singing was my focus during labor. I felt a little crazy at first, breaking out into song, but it gave me strength and distracted me from the intense rushes. At some point, my husband and doula were even singing along with me! Haha. It was quite the experience. Our L&D nurse still jokes about it being the first time she was ever serenaded by a patient.
At around 2pm I was admitted to the hospital at 7.5cm dilated. I thought things would be smooth sailing from there since everything had been going great. Little did I know, I would be stuck at 8cm for about 5 hours. At this point I was mentally and physically exhausted. The rushes were closer and closer together and more intense than ever. My plan was to go natural, but the lack of progress was so discouraging and I asked for an epidural. At that point our doula could tell I was losing focus and recommended hopping in the shower. There’s something about water that is SO calming. I’m thankful for her recommendation and the Naval Hospital staff for supporting it. It ended up being a game changer and a turning point in my birth experience. About an hour after taking a shower and 20 minutes of pushing, Kyla Grace was born! There were so many emotions in the 18 hours of labor, but the joy that came after meeting our daughter made every ounce of pain and exhaustion worth it.
AM: How old is Kyla now?
KO: Kyla is 4 months old and full of life, giggles, and outrageous facial expressions.
AM: How has the dynamic changed in your home since Kyla’s arrival?
KO: Home is a little more messy, but has a lot more joy! I’d say it’s a fair trade. I’ve noticed my husband and I have taken on a more team-like dynamic. When he’s home we take turns with “Kyla duty” as we call it, so each of us can enjoy our self-care time. Joel loves hashing (running through the jungle!) and I love a relaxing at home yoga session or a bubble bath. We’ve both had to learn to communicate what we need when we are feeling ‘hangry’ and sleep deprived haha. We’ve also learned to give ourselves and each other lots of grace in this transition. Overall, we love how our home and our marriage has changed and grown.
AM: What are you enjoying most about motherhood?
KO: That’s a tough question! Two things come to mind right off the bat.
1. I love the way it’s changed me. My heart grew 10x bigger after meeting Kyla. I remember getting home from the hospital and just staring at her with tears welling up in my eyes. I was overcome by the craziest, deepest kind of love. Someone once said that becoming a parent gives you a better idea of the way God feels about us; it’s an unconditional & fierce kind of love I will never be able to put into words. All I know is I am completely changed because of it.
2. I also enjoy watching her grow! New facial expressions, noises, or movements she makes on a daily basis make life so much sweeter. I’m amazed at how much she has grown just in the last 4 months.
AM: What has been the most challenging part of motherhood for you?
KO: As someone who treasures sleep and is a self proclaimed nap addict, lack of sleep has been the most challenging part of motherhood. I’m still learning to operate on less & also how to sneak power naps in when I can.
AM: If you could go back and give your pregnant self any advice, what would it be?
KO: Take time for YOU… Whatever that may look like. Read the books on your booklist. Get the pedicure or massage that you’ve been putting off. Go eat at that fancy new restaurant. Spend quality time with your significant other and girl friends.
Once your baby arrives, you will take on the most selfless role of all, becoming a mother. As much joy as it will bring, your relationships and time alone will look so much different. I give you permission now to take time for you.
AM: You recently returned to work. What has that been like, physically, mentally, and emotionally? (How did you prepare?, What’s it like pumping at work?, Please share any tips for other expecting mamas.)
KO: I knew soon after giving birth, I wanted to return back to work. It wasn’t an easy decision to make, but after some thought, prayer and talking it through with the husband, we knew it was a good fit for our family. I find so much fulfillment and purpose in my job as a nurse and in turn it makes me a better wife and mother. Having a supportive husband and friends to help out has made the transition SO much easier.
To prepare, we put Kyla in daycare a week before I went back to work to get a better idea of what the adjustment would be like. I have to admit, it was probably more difficult for me than it was for Kyla. I cried the first day I dropped her off, while she was busy having a total blast! Having the reassurance that she loved daycare and was in good hands made the first week back to work so much easier.
Another way we prepped, was storing up a solid stash of breastmilk before returning back. This part was important, because we quickly found out that Kyla drinks more milk from a bottle than she would if she were nursing. She guzzled 25-30oz in 12 hours! We were all amazed. With the freezer stash on hand, I was able to make sure she had enough milk throughout the day.
Pumping at work is a whole new experience. I set a timer as a reminder to take breaks every 3-4 hours, since things can get busy. Staying hydrated and eating snacks throughout the day has been really important to keep up my milk supply as well. Luckily we have a lactation room right outside the ICU I work in! There’s comfortable chairs and a hospital grade pump, so I don’t even have to bring my own! I definitely hit the jackpot with the setup. I also work with a dream team of nurses who make sure I am taking pump breaks and will watch over my patients while I am gone. The supportive work environment and easy access to a lactation room have made the transition to work pretty smooth.
AM: Have you had an opportunity to incorporate self-care? If so, what have you been doing and how long did it take to get back to making time to care for yourself?
My biggest nugget of wisdom for new mamas is to make time for things that fill you up. It sounded selfish at first, but I quickly learned that I couldn’t give very much if my cup wasn’t full.
My self-care comes in the form of yoga and bubble baths! I know it looks different for everyone, but wow, I never realized how important self-care was until becoming a mom. It took me 3 months to take a yoga class and my only regret is not going sooner. I was so happy and relaxed, I almost fell asleep in savasana! Do what makes your heart full and don’t feel guilty about it.
AM: I know you and your hubby love travel. Do you have any trips planned?
Our first big adventure will be heading home to California for the holidays. Kyla will be 6 months old! We’re excited (and nervous) to experience what traveling with a little one is like. We’d also like to make a trip to Japan, but there’s nothing set in stone yet. We’ll see how our first trip goes!
Ladies, I’m in awe of Kelsey’s transition into motherhood. What an amazing birth story! Can you believe she has this amazing pump room at work that provides a hospital grade pump? Wow!
What a blessing to hear her share open and honestly that having a new little one has meant that her home isn’t always perfectly organized and clean, but more full of joy. I love that she shared that it took her 3 months to actually get back into yoga and self-care. This is the reality for so many mamas, unlike the photos and messages we may see on social media. Kelsey is a real mama juggling work, marriage, and self care. This is what #hermotherhood looks like.
You can follow Kelsey and baby Kyla over on Instagram at @hello.kelsey.o.
Thank you so much Kelsey for sharing your story with #AGlobalTribeOfWomen.
Are you currently pregnant with your first child? Have you recently given birth? What’s been your experience thus far? Please reply in the comments below. I always respond.