Tag: motherhood

Baby’s First Bone Broth \\ Sweet Laurel

I’ve been doing lots of research over the past few months in order to prepare for Nico’s transition into eating solid food. Nico is still about 98% breastmilk fed. He hasn’t been super into solids, but to me, that’s ok because I love nursing him! I’ve read a few books on the topic and consulted with my nutritionist, Margaret Floyd. I love her approach as it is filled with nutrient-dense, real food and also very practical. Margaret maneuvered through my autoimmune disease and has successfully helped me with the daunting task of introducing my Nico to solid foods

One of the first foods she recommends is bone broth. Bone broth, considered around the world as a health tonic, has been used for centuries as a healing food. As real food expert Nina Planck has stated, “it is digestible, nutritious and tasty. Broth is perfect for babies (Real Food for Mother and Babies, 2009).”

I adapted this recipe from my nutritionist Margaret’s original recipe. Margaret wrote her basic approach to introducing solid food here, and why bone broth is a great choice for babies!  Read up on it, and then cook up a pot of bone broth for you or baby!

Baby's First Bone Broth \\ Sweet Laurel

Baby's First Bone Broth \\ Sweet Laurel

Baby's First Bone Broth \\ Sweet Laurel

Baby's First Bone Broth \\ Sweet Laurel

Baby’s First Bone Broth


 

Ingredients:

chicken bones, including the ligaments and joints (be sure to use bones from organic, pastured raised chickens)

1-2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

pinch of Himalayan pink salt

filtered water


 

Directions:

Put the bones, vinegar, and salt into the stock pot. Cover with filtered water.

Bring to a boil and skim any foam off the top. The foam is just any impurities coming out of the bones. Sometimes it’s there, sometimes it isn’t.

Reduce the heat on your stove to the lowest possible and gently simmer your broth for at least 8 hours, up to 48 hours. The rule of thumb is the bigger the bones, the longer you need to simmer your broth. Make sure not to cook the broth at too high a temperature! It will denature some of the proteins and create natural MSG. We put the stove at the lowest temperature and just leave it for a couple of days.Strain out the bones and veggies, and either use

Strain out the bones and veggies, then either use immediately or store in a big glass jar in your fridge. It can last for a week.

What’s In My Fridge \\ Sweet Laurel

I love this interview I did with The Chalkboard Mag! They took a look in my fridge and I got to share a little about my love of all things Sweet Laurel! One thing that’s apparent here, is that I’m a veggie lover! Yes, I know Sweet Laurel is all about sweets, but let me introduce you to savory Laurel! I sure eat my fair share of veggies. If you have any questions about some of my go – to’s, leave them in the comments! xo, Laurel

What's In My Fridge \\ Sweet Laurel

What's In My Fridge \\ Sweet Laurel

What's In My Fridge \\ Sweet Laurel

What's In My Fridge \\ Sweet Laurel

FOOD PHILOSOPHY IN ONE SENTENCE:

Eat wholesome yet delicious food every day.


 

ALWAYS IN MY FRIDGE:

Kale, coconut, chocolate, and crudité.


 

7 RECIPE STAPLES ALWAYS ON HAND:

For my recipes, pretty much any of them can be made if you have almond flour, coconut oil, Himalayan pink salt, 100% maple syrup, organic eggs, coconut milk, and cacao.


 

MUST-HAVE MUNCHIES:

I am into accessible veggies: half an avocado, cut up celery, cucumber, carrots and cooked sweet potatoes. I am not a big snacker, but I am a big vegetable eater!


 

FAVE CONDIMENTS:

Our all-time favorite condiment is Sweet Laurel vegan caramel! Other condiments on the savory side I enjoy are Primal Kitchen Foods mayo and Kerrygold butter. Yes, butter. I developed a strong craving for it during my pregnancy, and I’ve been tolerating it well, so I enjoy it in moderation.


 

INGREDIENT THAT MAKES EVERYTHING TASTE BETTER:

When I cook, I love to use some delicious savory staples like garlic, Himalayan pink salt, apple cider vinegar and fun things like cayenne pepper. When I bake, a balance of moisture enriching, yet nutrient-dense ingredients make everything taste better. I work with five core ingredients at Sweet Laurel: almond flour, coconut oil, 100% maple syrup, organic eggs, and Himalayan pink salt. These are my star ingredients and the secret to a delicious grain-free, refined sugar-free and dairy-free treat that tastes delicious!


 

GO-TO PROTEINS:

Organic eggs, wild-caught fish, organic chicken, turkey, and beef.


 

BEST BARGAIN:

I buy in bulk whenever I can through health food stores and co-ops. This is great for spices, organic nuts and other frequently used items and pricier items.


 

BEST LABEL-READING TIP:

I always check for whole-food ingredients. If the foods originate from earth and are used in their natural form, I’m good with them.


 

FAVE VEGGIE + WHAT YOU MAKE WITH IT:

This changes, but currently I’m obsessed with making kale chips in the oven. It takes just a few minutes, and my salty, crunchy craving is usually taken care of shortly thereafter.


 

MUST-HAVE PANTRY STAPLES:

Sweet Laurel vanilla extract. We make our own, grain- and gluten-free, with tequila!


 

CRAZIEST THING I BUY:

The $30 coconut yogurt. Jam packed with probiotics, a little goes a long way. I’m definitely addicted.


 

SWEETS AND OTHER INDULGENCES:

I indulge in 100% cacao from Chocovivo every day. It is not a sweet per se, but an indulgence for sure. Made from cacao beans and stone ground into chocolate right here in Los Angeles.


 

DAIRY OR NON-DAIRY FAVES:

Like I said, hooked on coconut yogurt.


 

SKIP LABELS THAT READ:

‘High-fructose corn syrup,’ ‘cane sugar,’ etc.


 

FAVORITE SPLURGE:

I love supporting small food businesses. From time to time I will go to natural food stores and just pick up a few random food products, just to try them out!


 

FOR LAST MINUTE ENTERTAINING:

I whip up my snickerdoodles! Just five ingredients and delicious.


 

FAVORITE PLACES TO SHOP:

Erewhon Natural Foods, Rainbow Acres.


 

SIMPLE GO-TO RECIPE:

My brownies. Topped with our vegan caramel, you’re instantly in dessert heaven.


 

BEST FOOD MEMORY:

Making banana bread with my mom when I was five or six. I remember tasting the batter and being instantly hooked!

 

(Photo credit: Elsie Dardon)

My Mother’s Day Miracle \\ Sweet Laurel

Processed with VSCO with 4 presetThis year has been a whirlwind. Everyday, I take a moment to think about how blessed I am, and today is no exception. I want to share the most beautiful thing that happened to me this year, as it has everything to do with what we are trying to accomplish here at Sweet Laurel. Sweet Laurel is dedicated to providing beauty and health to all through our cakes, recipes, educational workshops and our upcoming cookbook (available Spring 2018!).

If you were to tell me last May that in one year I would have a 2 1/2 month old baby sleeping next to me in bed as I type this, I would have thought you were a bit crazy. You see, the last four years had been a struggle to get my thyroid, digestive system, and reproductive system back on line. They all stopped functioning properly when I was diagnosed with my autoimmune disease in 2012. My body screamed at me to stop, rest and heal up through various physical signs, one of them being I had stopped ovulating. I eventually listened, and took a year off to heal, and and in 2015 I launched Sweet Laurel as a result of the incredible results I felt changing my lifestyle and diet in order to allowing healing to take place.

Last May, one year ago to date, I had a call with my nutritionist about my recent hormonal blood work. As she discussed the details of my hormone panel, the results were not so hot and I started to cry. Over the last few years, I’ve made my health a priority. Thankfully, my thyroid and digestive system were back to normal, but my reproductive system just wasn’t kicking into gear. I felt like I had tried everything, which is why the news from my nutritionist was so disparaging. I took a deep breath between tears and tried to accept the fact that a baby and my complete healing were just not in the cards for me quite yet.

Flash forward a few weeks. My husband Nick came home from work around 6pm and I was laid out on my back in bed. This is very abnormal for me, as I am quite a busy bee, especially around the dinner time hour. My favorite thing to do is make dinner for Nick every night so that’s usually what I am doing when he comes home. Nick immediately knew something was wrong when he saw me in bed so he started peppering me with questions. I told him I was just really tired, and I had been at the Sweet Laurel kitchen all day on my feet, which is why I was in bed. “I think you should take a pregnancy test,” Nick said. Even though I could barely get out of bed at this point, I managed to go the bathroom and find an old pregnancy test squirreled away under the sink.

And It was positive. My first response was, ‘NO!’ I didn’t understand how this was possible. Very soon after we both started crying tears of joy. Around May and the first week of June, my body kicked into gear and ovulated. This is why our sweet Nico is a miracle. I never would have imagined I’d be celebrating Mother’s Day this year, but I am, and I am so very grateful.

Sweet Laurel is all about sharing health with others, which is why I wanted to share this  story with you. Dedication toward wellness can lead to breakthroughs in your health. Wishing all the mothers our there a very Happy Mother’s Day! xo, Laurel

Processed with VSCO with 4 preset

Laurel is wearing Fillyboom’s I beleive in Unicorns dress.

New Mommy Faves \\ Sweet Laurel

I love being a mom! In honor of Mother’s Day and my first time celebrating as a mom, I’m sharing some of my most used, and favorite mom-friendly items. This week’s recipe features my Lactation Cookies, which accompanied me to the hospital when Nico was born, and have been made regularly since!

New Mommy Faves \\ Sweet Laurel

First off, Nucifera! I LOVE Nucifera, and the amazing entrepreneur who developed it. Nucifera is the ultimate pregnancy and breastfeeding safe, all in one, beauty product. I use it regularly before bed and on my face as part of my cleansing routine. By now you all know how in love I am with coconut, and this is a coconut based product, and the benefits are unending. It moisturizes, soothes, purifies, and combats various skin conditions. Nucifera can even be used as an all natural deodorant. I personally like using it under my eyes. And by the way, Nucifera is not just amazing for mothers, it is great for fathers and children alike!

New Mommy Faves \\ Sweet Laurel

Second, my Petal Soft Ballet Nursing Bra. Not only is it pretty to look at, it is oh so comfortable. I never thought nursing would change my whole outfit. For some reason, I never made the connection. Well, a good nursing outfit starts with a good bra, and this is my go-to! It is from Bravado Designs, who also makes two other nursing bras I’m digging– the Body Silk Seamless Nursing Bra, also comfy, and the Clip and Pump, which gives me mobility with my hands while I pump!

New Mommy Faves \\ Sweet Laurel

Third, a good notebook. I want to cherish each day with sweet Nico, and this helps me do! I’m a very sentimental gal, so essentially, writing down thoughts, precious moments and words of gratitude have been very therapeutic for me. Nico has made me a more organized person, and this is one tool I’ve begun to use to help in that department.

New Mommy Faves \\ Sweet Laurel

Lastly, Lactation Cookies. Do you every need an excuse to eat cookies? Well, when you’re breastfeeding, you automatically have one! Lactation enriching foods have been used for centuries to help with breast milk production, and my cookies contain just a few of the many nutritious foods know to encourage milk supply nursing. I read a book entitled Real Food for Mother and Baby by Nina Planck, and learned about the foods I should focus on during pregnancy and nursing. I highly recommend this book. Per the words of Planck, two of the most popular lactation foods are oats and beer. I don’t include either of those in my cookies, as I don’t digest either well, but have included several of the other recommended foods. These cookies freeze super well, so I typically make a batch and store them in the freezer to snack on and give to people who come over. Having a baby really ups your weekly visitors!

New Mommy Faves \\ Sweet Laurel

Lactation Cookies

Yields about 30 cookies


 

Ingredients:

2 cups almond flour

1/2 cup flax seeds

1/4 cup sesame seeds or shredded coconut

1/2 cup macadamia nuts or pecans

1/2 date paste or 7 dates, pitted

4 eggs

1/2 cup coconut oil (melted) or grass fed butter (solid)

1 cup chocolate chips (recipe below)

Maple syrup, as needed (these cookies are not very sweet, so add if need be)


 

*For Oatmeal Raisin variation

Exchange flax and sesame seeds for 1/2 cup of oats (if you tolerate). You can also add shredded coconut for texture!

Exchange and 1 tsp. cinnamon and 1/2 cup raisins for the chocolate chips.


 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

In a blender, combine the flax seeds, sesame seeds, macadamia nuts, dates, eggs, coconut oil and maple syrup (optional). Turn on low speed, and blend until batter is incorporated. Remove mixture from blender and place into a bowl. Stir in almond flour and chocolate chips. Spoon one tablespoon sized cookies onto cookies sheet. Gently press dough down with a piece of parchment paper.

Bake for 8-10 minutes. Lift parchment off pan, and allow cookies to cool all the way.

Enjoy!


 

Homemade Chocolate Chips 


 

Ingredients:

4 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate (100% cacao, organic is preferable)

1-2 tablespoons maple syrup or raw honey


 

Directions:

Break baking chocolate into one-inch pieces and place in thick saucepan or double boiler. Over a very low heat, melt baking chocolate. Once melted, take off heat, and add maple syrup or raw honey and stir. Pour chocolate onto parchment paper and spread into a rectangle, about 8×12 inches. Place parchment in freezer. Once hardened (will take a few minutes), break into small pieces and use as chocolate chips.

 

Rosebud Bath Soak for Mom \\ Sweet Laurel

Mother’s Day is just around the corner, so here’s a fun DIY gift you can give to the mommas you love! This soak includes two of our favorite ingredients at Sweet Laurel: coconut and pink salt. Both are beneficial to your body inside and out! Pink salt and coconut have benefits once digested, and several topical benefits as well. While the coconut milk powder in the recipe works to moisturize the skin, the pink salt acts at a detoxifier. Roses are used for their gratifying and soothing effect to the senses. This bath soak is a simple, yet beautiful little gift! Enjoy.

Rosebud Bath Soak for Mom \\ Sweet Laurel

Rosebud Bath Soak for Mom \\ Sweet Laurel

Rosebud Bath Soak for Mom \\ Sweet Laurel

Rosebud Bath Soak DIY Gift


 

Ingredients:

1/2 cup Himalayan pink salt (I like to use the coarsely ground salt)

1/2 cup coconut milk powder

3 tablespoons dried rosebuds

1-2 drops essential rose oil

1 8 oz glass jar


 

Directions:

Grind a few of the rosebuds in a mortar and pestle until slightly broken. Combine all the other ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine. Spoon into a jar and seal. Keep in a cool. dry place until use.

Lactation Muffins \\ Sweet Laurel

As a new mom, I want to eat the best foods for lactation! Water, water, water is great I hear, but there are so many delicious foods as well.  Flax, sesame, carrots, nuts and ginger are also helpful agents in increasing milk supply. I figured I’d make a muffin combining them. Hope you enjoy! PS- these are a super healthy breakfast muffin even if you are not a nursing mama!

Lactation Muffins \\ Sweet Laurel

Lactation Muffins \\ Sweet Laurel

Lactation Muffins \\ Sweet Laurel

Lactation Muffins \\ Sweet Laurel

Lactation Muffins

Makes 12 muffins


 

Ingredients:

2 cups hazelnut or almond flour

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt

3 tablespoons freshly ground flax + 6 tablespoons water

1/3 cup coconut oil (melted)

1/3 cup cooked sweet potato, mashed

1/2 cup shredded coconut

1 cup grated carrot

1 cup grated apple

2 teaspoons freshly ground ginger

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Optional: 1/4 cup raisins

Optional: 1/4 walnuts


 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350. Line a 12 cup muffin tray with cupcake liners.

In a bowl, place freshly ground flaxseeds with water. Allow to sit on counter for about 5 minutes.

In a separate bowl, mix the hazelnut or almond flour, cinnamon, Himalayan pink salt, baking soda, and shredded coconut.

Add the coconut oil, sweet potato, flax mixture, carrot, apple, ginger, and optional raisins and walnuts. Stir until combined.

Scoop batter into muffin tins. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Place into oven and baked for about 30 minutes.

Allow to cool and enjoy!

Easter Cookies \\ Sweet Laurel x Jenni Kayne

Last Easter, I had the privilege of working with Jenni Kayne on her annual Easter party.  As always, everything about it was beautiful. Jenni is such a talented lady. I shared a super fun recipe, and I thought you all would like it as well. These are simple yet delicious Easter cookies. They are easy to whip up with kids and beautiful to look at on the table.

Easter Cookies \\ Sweet Laurel

Easter Cookies \\ Sweet Laurel

Easter Cookies \\ Sweet Laurel

Easter Cookies

Yields 2 dozen cookies


 

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups almond flour

1/4 cup coconut oil (melted)

1/4 cup 100% maple syrup or honey

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 tablespoon vanilla extract


 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Either by hand or in a food processor, combine the ingredients into a dough. The dough will be slightly clumpy, so do not fret if the dough doesn’t look like traditional cookie dough. If the dough is a bit dry, add a little more melted coconut oil.

Between two pieces of parchment paper, roll out the dough. During this stage, the dough will join together and be much more uniform. Place parchment paper with rolled out dough in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to firm up. Remove from refrigerator and cut into shapes. Carefully transfer cut outs to cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Place cookies onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 7 to 10 minutes, until barely golden brown at the edges. Cool completely, and decorate with icing.


 

Coconut Butter Icing


 

Ingredients:

1/3 cup coconut butter

2 teaspoons 100% maple syrup or honey

1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup coconut milk


 

Directions:

Mix all ingredients over very low heat. The coconut butter can easily burn, and turn a brownish color, so be careful during this step. Color with a pinch of turmeric for yellow, beet juice for pink, matcha powder for light green or other natural food colorings if you like. We sprinkled these cookies with a bit of gold dust to make them extra fancy!

SNOO \\ Sweet Laurel

The number one piece of advice people offered me when I was pregnant was to, ‘Enjoy sleep while you still have it!’ Now, this is a very good piece of advice, but one thing I have that they likely did not have is the SNOO, by Happiest Baby. The SNOO was recently invented by Dr. Harvey Karp, the author of bestseller Happiest Baby on the Block. This was one of the first books I read during my pregnancy with Nico, and it provided an excellent backbone to infant care and educated me on Karp’s ever popular 5 S’s. The 5 S’s are the essential tools for parents to use to calm their babies. The 5 S’s are Swaddle, Side or Stomach position, Shushing, Swing and Suck. I’ve found the 5 S’s work wonders for Nico. Nick especially loves to use all 5 S’s to calm Nico.

SNOO \\ Sweet Laurel

SNOO \\ Sweet Laurel

SNOO \\ Sweet Laurel

While these tools work very well during the day, at night, the SNOO is our best friend. The SNOO is the world’s first smart sleep that boosts baby’s sleep by imitating the rhythmic sensations they feel in the womb. It is truly an amazing invention! The goal of the SNOO is to solve the number one complaint of new parents: lack of sleep. The SNOO works to soothe a fussy baby by using a good swaddle, rocking motion and white noise. It is engineered to increase rocking and noise as the baby’s cry increases. Our baby is not super fussy, but we quickly noticed the benefits of the SNOO with Nico. At night, after I’ve fed Nico, burped him and changed his diaper, I put him in the SNOO sack (the swaddle built into the SNOO). I turn it on and it starts to play white noise and rock. Nico loves the movement and it helps him go to sleep faster.  I want Nico to get all the sleep he can get because that is when infants do most of their growing. If Nico falls asleep, then wakes within the hour before he needs to feed again, he will naturally fuss a bit. If this happens, the SNOO reactivates and starts to rock him again and increases the white noise. The white noise, rocking and swaddle mimic the way he felt in the womb creates a calm and sleepy baby Nico.

The SNOO is also safe! It comes with a built-in swaddle that doesn’t allow the baby to turn from his back onto his stomach, a fear many parents have with a traditional swaddle. Because the SNOO is only used until the baby is 6 months old or can roll over, the swaddle is built for babies to sleep on their backs only. We use the SNOO as a co-sleeper, and it is stationed right next to our bed. While I’d love for Nico to sleep on my chest all night (I frequently let him nap here, never overnight, however), I prefer to have him sleep in a crib, like the SNOO, while I am sleeping. When he is in there, I can rest peacefully knowing he is swaddled up and in his own bed, whereas something could happen to him on my bed.

While I still do get up 3-4 times a night to feed him, my sleep is maximized because I do not spend much time soothing him before he gets to sleep or worrying whether he is comforted or not. I know the rocking, white noise and swaddle make him feel secure, so I am a happy camper, who can get back to sleep!  Thanks to the SNOO, I am not suffering from sleep deprivation. I usually arise rested, and if I need a nap during the day, Nico goes into the SNOO and I go on my bed while he naps! Check out this video all about SNOO, or read more on their site.

xoxo, Laurel

My Birth Story \\ Sweet Laurel

Some of you may know that becoming pregnant was a miracle for me. As a brief background for those who don’t know, I have struggled with an aggressive autoimmune condition for the last five years. I started Sweet Laurel in 2015 after changing my diet and lifestyle completely to accommodate my body’s healing process. Many of my symptoms subsided after making these changes, but the one that remained was secondary amenorrhea (lack of a menstrual period). After not having a period for four years, I suddenly became pregnant last May. My husband and I were overjoyed and viewed this as the final step in my body’s healing process. Our baby is a gift, and I’m excited to share my birth story with you all!

My Birth Story \\ Sweet Laurel

My Birth Story \\ Sweet Laurel

My Birth Story \\ Sweet Laurel

My husband, Nick, and I had our baby boy on February 27. We are overjoyed to be parents and are deeply in love with our baby Nico.

Nico Lawrence Gallucci was born at 3:39 PM on 2\27\17 at Cedar-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles. Both my dad and sister work there, and I’ve always wanted to have my babies in close proximity to them, which is one of the reasons why we chose this hospital. Nick and I were also both born there!

My Birth Story \\ Sweet Laurel

The story begins around 9 p.m. on February 26th. Nick and I had just come home from a nice long walk (4 miles!) and I sat down to do some emails. In the back of my head, I knew labor would begin any day now and I had some last minute business items for Sweet Laurel that I wanted to tie up. I was bouncing on my yoga ball and typing when I felt a little pop in my belly. I stood up I felt some water come out of my underside. Could it be my water breaking, I thought? I went to the bathroom and saw some clear fluid come out, and thought for sure it was amniotic fluid. I was glad that it was clear because we learned in my birthing class if the fluid was colored it could mean there was a risk of an infection inside the amniotic sac. I still wasn’t 100% sure it was my water that had broken, so I went and changed my pants and got back on my computer. I mentioned this all to my husband and he got really excited. After about 5 minutes, I felt more liquid come out as I stood up. I realized I needed to change my pants again, and I was confident it was my water that had broken.

My contractions started shortly after this, and from the beginning, they were very intense. For me, each contraction started in my low back. It felt like someone was jamming a shotput into my spine. At the same time, I got a nauseous feeling then and a sharp pain moved from the top of my belly down. They lasted about minute and were 3-4 minutes apart my entire labor.

I went to my bedroom to deal with the contractions while my husband packed everything up. I happened to prepare a bunch of food to take to the hospital earlier that day (including lactation cookies, recipe coming soon!) because I knew the hospital would not have very many gluten, grain, dairy and refined sugar-free options. We called my doctor and told him that my water broke and the contractions were really close together. He suggested we wait an hour or two before coming in, and I tried to, but my contractions got really intense really fast so we decided to head to the hospital about an hour after the phone call. Because my contractions were so close together for about two hours at this point, I really thought the baby could come soon and I definitely wanted to be at the hospital for the birth.

We arrived at the hospital around 2 a.m. and got admitted. I met my labor and delivery nurse, who was a godsend. She helped me deal with the contractions, massaged my back, and helped me get in comfortable positions. We told her that I wanted to have a natural birth as much as possible, and she accommodated our request in every way. However, my contractions were so intense that I could not talk or walk during them. The only position that felt somewhat good was being bent over the bed. The contractions were very difficult to deal with, but I was grateful to have this nurse and my husband with me to help me through each one.

I labored all night, and my doctor came to see me at 6 a.m. the following morning. He told me he thought the baby would be born by noon that day. I was dilated to 6 centimeters and had 4 more to go. Although I was very happy to hear this, I was also slightly defeated because I could not fathom dealing with the painful contractions until noon. Every contraction rocked me, which left me feeling exhausted after being up all night.

I decided to get an epidural at this point. It was a real struggle for me to make this decision, but it literally changed my life. The concept of not feeling contractions but dilating at the same time was so incredible. I had been fearful that an epidural would slow down my labor, but it didn’t! By 10 a.m., I was fully dilated and rested (thanks to the epidural), ready to push the baby out! My husband, who had been up all night with me, was able to fall asleep for about three hours. He really needed this rest because he was going to be very helpful during the pushing phase of my labor. At this point, the doctor took me off the epidural so I could feel my legs during the pushing. Around noon, we started pushing.

I did not expect pushing to be so intense. It was very physical and was literally a workout! To push, you have to do a special breathing technique, followed by the actual pushing, which includes a crunch type of sit up. Since I hadn’t been necessarily working out my abs while pregnant, this was difficult. Also, the painful contractions were now back full throttle because I was off the epidural for some time. My husband coached me through each push and did such a great job.

I pushed until 3 p.m. For me, this was a long time and was super exhausting. I was frustrated because we could see the baby’s head via a mirror, and it hadn’t really moved since we began pushing. He was about three inches from the vaginal opening the entire time we were pushing. The doctor came in and I literally asked him if he could just grab the baby and take him out. He told that was pretty much what he was going to do, and I got really excited because we would finally meet our baby!

All of a sudden, there were about 15 people in the room. This was different because up until this point, it was just Nick, myself, and our nurse. Our doctor was occasionally in there too. Each of these people had a job to do once the baby was born, and I am grateful for each of them!

The doctor hooked up our baby’s head to a vacuum, and while I was contracting, he had me push while he pulled on the vacuum device. After about 10 pushes, our son was born! Yes, it was a very painful moment, but it was so incredible to finally have my baby. Within two seconds, Nico was on my chest. He did so well and received an Apgar score of 9!

My Birth Story \\ Sweet Laurel

My Birth Story \\ Sweet Laurel

We are so grateful for this precious baby. He has a very sweet disposition and is so incredibly cute. Basically, he looks and acts a lot like my husband Nick, his namesake. His middle name is Lawrence, after my dad, who also has a sweet and gentle disposition. I am loving life with this precious gift, and so grateful my body has healed enough to grant me the gift of motherhood.

xo Laurel

All of these beautiful photos are shot and edited by the amazing Elsie Dardon.

My Simple Morning Sickness Remedy \\ Sweet Laurel

All the mamas out there know about morning sickness. While it is typically linked to early pregnancy, it can occur during the entire pregnancy for some women. Last summer, when I was blissfully enjoying my first few weeks of motherhood, nausea struck me from behind. I could not believe how much it affected my everyday activities. It was very hard for me to cook or bake, and my days in the Sweet Laurel kitchen were certainly difficult. I remember asking my husband to find me a face mask to wear in the kitchen and help with all the smells that were seemingly causing nausea.

Eventually, I found one concoction to ease my symptoms: lemon + water. Because of lemon’s ability to balance your body’s ph level and neutralize stomach acid, it becomes a calming remedy for nausea’s unrelenting toll during pregnancy. In the morning, I enjoyed it hot but, iced in the afternoon. I’m sure you will find what suits you best. You can also switch it up and use orange or grapefruit for different flavors. Lastly, be sure to drink your lemon water with a straw to protect your teeth! This is a trick I learned from the dentists in my family. Wishing all you mamas a beautiful pregnancy!

My Simple Morning Sickness Remedy \\ Sweet Laurel
My Simple Morning Sickness Remedy \\ Sweet Laurel
My Simple Morning Sickness Remedy \\ Sweet Laurel

 

My Simple Morning Sickness Remedy


 

Ingredients: 

1 lemon, sliced

16 ounces of water, hot or cold

Optional add-ins:

mint leaves

rosemary

orange slices

grapefruit slices


 

Place the hot or cold water in a glass and squeeze the lemon through a strainer. Garnish with optional add-ins if desired. Enjoy!