Home 2VBAC of Freya Evelyn

I’m finally getting around to typing up this birth story for our third and last baby. She was a second home VBAC and by far my easiest birth. Freya also is a rainbow baby after 3 early losses and the loss of twin boys at 10 weeks pregnant in April 2019.

If you want to read a brief summary of my first birth and detailed story of my second birth: Click Here

It was April 29, 2020 and I was 40 weeks 1 day along pregnant when I woke up after 2am for a bathroom visit. Those happen far too often at this stage of pregnancy. I crawled back in bed and proceeded to arrange my pillows comfortably. Right as I finished this tedious adjusting, I felt a faint gush of fluid in my undies. I knew instantly that it meant my water had broke so without moving, I grabbed my phone to call my husband (Matt) who was in the other room playing a video game (he’s a night owl) and I told him “my water just broke, bring me towel!”. He came racing into my room with a towel in hand and I quickly shoved it between my legs before standing up. And I was right, out came a huge amount of amniotic fluid! My water broke at 2:29am.

I went to the bathroom and sat on the toilet, letting more fluid drain out and then cleaned myself up a bit. I changed into a nursing tank top and then called my midwife. I wasn’t feeling any contractions yet so she told me to call back when they started and were becoming consistent. I had Matt go lay in the den to nap a bit, since he hadn’t slept yet that night. Then I sat in my room on the birth ball or walking around until my contractions were about 4-6 minutes apart around 4:30am. I called my midwife again and she and the birth assistant/midwife in training headed my way. The first to arrive was the assistant about 5:30am, followed by my midwife at 6am. Both of them attended my first home VBAC, 4 years earlier!

I asked for my dilation to be checked about 6:30am and was only about 3cm. The contractions were feeling more intense by this point so I was a bit discouraged at such little progress. Matt and I were doing such a good job laboring alone together that they moved to the den to give us privacy. My contractions were intense but I was grateful for no back labor so that I was feeling total relief from the pain between contractions. I hadn’t slept much so I tried to lay down and get little bits of sleep for the few minutes break I had between them. Every time a contraction came, Matt would take my hands and let me squeeze them as hard as I could. When I wasn’t laying down, I was moving between the toilet, standing with my arms around his neck/a leg propped on my bedside, and the birth ball. I knew staying vertical would help her engage so I encouraged myself to stay that way as much as possible.

The birth team only came in periodically from 7-10am to check fetal tones. By about 10:45am, I was having super bad pubic bone pressure/pain and my midwife said she was still high up in my pelvis. I asked for her to check me and she reluctantly said I was only about 6cm but maybe closer to 8cm since she only used only finger to check. In reality, she just didn’t want to give me a firm number since she knew it would discourage me again. She recommended that I lie on the bed and try the Walcher’s position for 3 contractions to help move baby lower and into the birth canal. The first contraction was very painful in this position (on my back, legs hanging off the bed, with a rolled towel under my lower back) but then the second and third contractions didn’t have the intense pubic bone pressure anymore. After I stood up, I could tell it must’ve worked to lower her down because I had a lot of rectal pressure, so I went to labor more while sitting on the toilet.

Just 15-20 minutes later, I had the overwhelming natural urge to push while sitting on the toilet and I let out a huge guttural noise while doing it. My midwife and her assistant quickly moved to the bathroom doorway and were frantically putting their gloves on. They mentioned trying to pant through the pushing instinct, just in case my cervix wasn’t ready, to help avoid swelling. But then a second wave hit me and I couldn’t resist pushing again. The assistant used the flash light to check my progress and noticed my labia was starting to part, meaning baby’s head was in the birth canal. She asked if I could move to the end of my bed, where the birth stool was, so I could avoid birthing on the toilet for easier access.

I quickly made the short walk to the birth stool and then almost immediately had another intense push happen. Before this birth, I had trained myself to bare down when I exhaled a breath instead of just purple pushing and I feel it was so much more effective. I was able to reach down and feel the top of her head once I was sitting on the stool. It gave me an overwhelming sense of realization about how close I was to being done with laboring and I was so ready to be done with it. Just a few minutes after getting on the birth stool, one solid push had her head crowning and then out it came with an audible ‘pop’ sound. Baby’s neck was quickly checked to see if the cord was around it and it wasn’t. Less than a minute later, another strong push sent her shoulders out one by and one and then she was here! The birth assistant caught her and quickly passed her up to my chest. Just like for Jensen’s birth, my first words were “I’m done!”.

I had a lot of bleeding so I agreed her cord could be cut at about 7 minutes since it had stopped pulsing. I can’t remember if the placenta came right before or right after but I know it splashed blood all over my midwife when it hit the bowl that was sitting under me. Right as they were drawing up a shot of Pitocin to stop the bleeding, it stopped by itself so I narrowly avoided needing that shot.

Freya Evelyn was born at 11:21am! 9 hours after my water broke and only about 5-6 hours of laboring with contractions. I moved to our bed when she was 15 minutes old and she immediately latched on and started nursing like a champ. I checked her for a tongue tie immediately after she was born and was so thrilled she didn’t have one like Jensen did. We were able to enjoy the golden hour snuggled up nursing on our bed before they did her newborn exam at the end of the bed. She was 8 lbs 2 oz and 20.5”. We declined the eye ointment and chose to do oral vitamin K drops instead of the shot. My midwife checked me for any tears and thankfully I only had tiny ones by my urethra and by my perineum but neither needed stitches and they both healed within a week.

Freya did have jaundice by 2 days old so she used a bilirubin blanket at home from 2-9 days old until her level was low enough to stop. Her birth was definitely my easiest one. She’s now almost 2 months old and exclusively breastfed. It’s bittersweet that she’s our last baby but I’m so happy we finally got our rainbow after the storm.

– Johna – Wanderlust Momma Smith

IG – MommaSmithx3 (DM for collaboration)

Birth team – Full Circle Midwifery based in Memphis TN/Hernando MS

4 days in Iceland!

A little belated, but here’s my full travel blog for the trip I took to Iceland from June 16-19th, 2019.

I flew on Delta Airlines roundtrip from Memphis to Minneapolis to Reykjavik. I use my mom’s travel benefits since she’s retired from Delta, so the whole trip was $40 total. Can’t beat that price for flying, and half the flights were a first class seat.

Before I go into details about my trip, I’d like to add a few key points about Iceland, especially for solo travelers.

  1. Every single person I encountered spoke English. Not just slightly, but full fledged and easy to understand English. I never had a language barrier not knowing any Icelandic. But I did learn how to say thanks (Takk) just to be polite.
  2. I felt very safe in every part of Iceland that I visited. There’s no vagrants, lewd behavior, or anything that even mildly get uncomfortable.
  3. You can use your debit card anywhere. It’s extremely common not to use cash, even for small amounts like 100 Icelandic krona (a bit under $1 USD).
  4. Don’t buy bottled water. It’s expensive and the water from the tap is the purest water in the world. And the water actually has to be cooled down before reaching the taps, so don’t feel bad about extreme long hot showers! Geothermal energy from the nearby volcanos powers pretty much everything in Iceland.
  5. The temperature in June was very mild. I mainly only needed a jacket when it was breezy or overcast. Not too hot, not too cold.

Now, on to my trip details! I’ll start with these gorgeous photos of when we flew over Iceland. So beautiful!

I arrived in Reykjavik late in the evening on the 16th and had not gotten much sleep on my flights over. So most of that evening was just a quick visit to a local market and then back to the hotel to sleep. It was summer time and I knew it would be daylight most of the time. Here’s a photo from 1am and this is as dark as it even was.

I was a bit thrown off with my jet lag and ended up being wide awake at 4am the next morning. My hotel was about 2 miles from downtown Reykjavik and the buses didn’t run that early so I decided to just walk the distance since it was an easy straight shot. My first place to visit downtown was the iconic Hallgrimskirkja Cathedral and it was a beautiful sight to see.

My next plan was to do a whale watching tour at 1pm but I had a lot of time to waste so I switched it to 9am instead. Whale watching is something I had always dreamed of doing, but I’ll warn you now, you likely won’t see much compared to what you may be imagining. We saw a lot of whales but only Minke and usually quite a ways off from the boat. But this is the wild, not sea world, so just adjust to expectations to what may happen on your tour.

While on the whale watching tour, I made friends with another solo female American traveler. We headed to a local seaside Fish & chips restaurant after the tour and it was great to have a conversation while enjoying our lunch. Don’t be afraid to talk to others on your tours, being a solo traveler doesn’t have to be a lonely experience. Here’s a pic of our lunches! The name of the restaurant was Icelandic Fish & Chips. Fair prices and great customer service.

I found out that this day (June 17) was also the Icelandic Independence Day! On the way back to the hotel for the evening, I found a huge festival. They even had several dozen tables along both sides of the street and were giving out small pieces of cake to everyone. (It was delicious!). Many of the attendants were wearing traditional Icelandic clothing too, a fun sight for a tourist.

I ended up walking nearly 8 miles this day!

For my second full day, I took a full day tour called the “Golden Circle Tour” with the company Gray Line Iceland. This tour took us to Thingvellir national park, across the Tectonic plate barrier for Europe and North America (that was also a filming location for the Eyrie/Vale in Game of Thrones), and then to Gullfoss Waterfall where I tried some amazingly delicious lambs meat stew with a beautiful view of the falls.

The next stop on this day tour was to see the Strokkur Geysir and the now non-active ‘Geysir’ which is where the original word for Geyser originated. The Strokkur Geysir is still very active and goes off every 5 seconds to 5 minutes.

On my third full day, I took another Gray Line Iceland tour over to the south eastern side of Iceland. It’s a very long day tour with lots of driving but the scenery is beautiful and keeps your fairly entertained in the long stretches. And the tour guide always has lots of interesting information about the sights and Icelandic culture.

Our first stop on this tour was the Skógafoss waterfall.

Then, we headed to the southern most city in Iceland, Vik. There’s nothing but sea between Vik and Antarctica so the waves are very violent and unpredictable in this area. I was very excited to partly go out on the beach though because it was my first time seeing a beach with volcanic black sand.

This tour also had amazing views of the glacier that makes up most of the southern part of Iceland. It’s twice the size of London and is shrinking one meter a year on average.

The main event for this tour was the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon in Höfn, Iceland. This is located on the east side of Iceland and is beside the largest glacier in Europe. Pics don’t do justice for the sheer size and beauty of this area. Probably one of the most beautiful naturally occurring wonders I’ve ever seen.

On my fourth day, I left early and headed back to the airport for my return trip home. The FlyBus was the cheapest and easiest way to get round trip transport to and from the airport. It dropped me off and picked me up right at my hotel and was about $68 USD. You can get right off your flight, go to their counter, buy a roundtrip ticket, and then hop on the bus for the 45 minute ride into downtown Reykjavík.

If you have any comments or questions about this trip, feel free to leave them below!

– Johna

Wanderlust Momma Smith

IG – @mommasmithx3

Guilt-Free Caramels with Tom & Jenny’s

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🍬 Huge thank you to Tom & Jenny’s  for sending me all of their variety of soft caramels to try! I first tried them last week in my January Love With Food box and was SO surprised to find out they’re sugar free! Not only are they super delicious, they’re nearly guilt free 😱 unless maybe you want to eat a whole bag of them like I almost did tonight…

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These delicious caramels were developed by a dentist and her husband as a tooth-friendly alternative to the sugar packed regular treats for candy lovers (like me!).
The flavors I’m sampling are: classic, coffee, chocolate, ginger, and spiced rum. I think my favorites so far are the coffee and chocolate ☕️🍫.

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These yummies are available for sale on their site here: (Tom & Jenny’s ), and it’s free shipping for orders over $25. The variety package with all 5 flavors is only $28.95! They’re $5.99 per package, plus shipping, individually.

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You can follow Tom & Jenny’s on their other social media accounts here: InstagramTwitterFacebook, and Pinterest

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– Wanderlust Momma Smith

IG – @MommaSmithx3

Contact me to arrange collaborations for honest reviews!

Breastfeeding Experiences – Traumatic C-Section vs. Healing Home VBAC

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Anyone who has followed me on social media for a while knows that I am an avid supporter of breastfeeding. I just finished the slow weaning process for my 1.5 year old second born, through baby-led weaning, and I would’ve gone a lot longer if he had wanted/needed me to. But some of my followers may not know that my first wasn’t successfully breastfed. I had polar opposite breastfeeding experiences for my two children. And I am a firm believer in “fed is best”, since we all know that a happy, fed baby is all that matters at the end of the day. I’ve decided to share both my experiences, to show that even in the most well-meaning mothers, breastfeeding doesn’t always work out. I hope that it also shows that even when you can’t breastfed fully for your first, you always have a chance to try again and succeed with future babies.

I had a vividly horrible experience for the birth of my daughter. This was followed by a wonderful, healing home VBAC birth for my son, almost exactly 18 months later. (You can read these stories here: Home VBAC of Jensen Matthew). First off, I feel that my birth experiences played a big role in shaping the foundation of breastfeeding for me and my children. I will break my experiences into two parts: my first birth vs my second birth.

Breastfeeding for Leona (born 10/14/14 via unnecessary c-section)

Leona’s birth was almost the opposite of any idea of a birth plan I had in my head. I wasn’t allowed immediate skin to skin, no holding her for 2-3 hours almost, and our first latch didn’t come for about 3 hours postpartum. At this point, she was very hungry and angry. The nurse tried to force her onto my breast while she was screaming. We were both frustrated and exhausted. It ended up in a very sloppy latch that lasted about 45 minutes. Almost right away, I could tell it was hurting very badly. The nurse on hand was not trained as a lactation consultant and I know now from experience that she was not handling my first latch or the situation properly.

By 24 hours old, we found out Leona had jaundice. The only option given for this was taking her 2 floors away for the bili-light treatment in the NICU ward. I was only allowed to come down every 3-4 hours to try and nurse her. I was also instructed on how to pump every 1-2 hours in between. By the time I was allowed in to see her each visit, she was bloody murder screaming and far too upset to breastfeed. This ended up in me crying my heart out to a nurse when she pushed a bottle of formula in my hands and said “Stop starving her, she doesn’t want you”. I felt defeated. Not even 2 days old and I was already giving up on exclusively breastfeeding my first born. The guilt, the emotions, the utter exhaustion, it was just too much for me. I ended up continuing to latch when possible, but “topping off” with formula.

My milk didn’t fully arrive until day 6-7 after the birth. I was miserable, crying uncontrollably all the time, depressed, and overall adjusting very badly to the traumatic experience mixed with exhaustion and bleeding nipples. No matter what I tried, Leona’s latch always felt like razors, and she wouldn’t accept a nipple shield. By 6 weeks old, I was still in excruciating pain while breastfeeding directly and couldn’t take it any longer. I ended up pumping as much as I could per day and giving formula when needed. She never had a full day of just breast milk. At first, I only pumped about 8-10 ounces for 24 hours. But I ordered some domperidone from a shady website based in Thailand, and that helped me bring my total to about 18oz a day.

After a couple months of this, it became clear that Leona favored the bottle over me. She was nursing at night while half asleep, but wouldn’t accept the breast any other time. By 5.5 months old, I gave up on pumping. I was tired of being tied to a pump all the time. I wasn’t able to leave the house longer than 1-2 hours and hated every minute of it. I made the hard decision to quit cold turkey on pumping and just go to all formula. The process of engorgement before drying up was pretty agonizing. And the hormone shifts made me feel like the worst mother ever. But looking back on it all, I wish that I had stopped pumping sooner and enjoyed more of Leona’s younger months. I was caught up with being “the best” for my daughter, when all I really needed was just to be the best I could be for myself and that would’ve been the best for her.

Overall, I’m proud of every drop of breast milk that I provided for her. I found out well after she was weaned that she had been tongue-tied. This is why I had such serious and long-lasting pain while nursing her. Not a single person had ever told me this. Not her pediatrician, not the lactation consultant, not the OBGYN, no one. I found out from the first dental appt when she was 18 months old. So, one of my big tips is: Have someone qualified to diagnose a tongue-tie check your baby out if you’re having painful latches even after the initial 2-4 weeks.  

Also: If you feel you have done everything possible and tried as hard as you can, then it is OKAY to stop. There’s no shame in not continuing to breastfeed if it is effecting the quality of mother you can be to your baby(ies).

Breastfeeding for Jensen (born 4/18/16 via home VBAC)

Jensen’s birth was basically everything I could have possibly wanted from a healing, home birth experience. He was born 18 months and 4 days after Leona. I didn’t even need to write a birth plan out for him, since the midwives automatically did everything that I wanted anyways. I caught Jensen myself, and he came directly to my chest. We did totally undisturbed skin-to-skin time for about 2 hours. No one ever tried to take him from me until I said I was ready to get cleaned up and for him to have his newborn exam (done at the foot of my bed, while I took pics of it myself). During these two hours, I was able to latch Jensen for the first and second time. The first time came at 9:10pm, almost 50 minutes after he was born. He was a breastfeeding champ right from the start, but again there was that familiar painful pinch that I had always felt for Leona.

During his newborn exam, the midwife noted I had felt some discomfort while latching and checked his mouth. Just like I had expected, he had a pretty bad tongue-tie. But this time, at least I knew exactly what the problem was and how to remedy it. The hard part for breastfeeding Jensen came when he was about 72 hours old. The cluster feeding spurt right before my milk arrived. I think he nursed almost constantly from 8pm to 7am one night. I cried, I wanted to quit, I wanted to give him a pacifier, and I wanted to sleep. But my husband sat with me through it all, got me anything I needed, and we pushed through it. I really had no pain after this tongue was clipped.

As for remedying his tongue-tie issue, we had called the morning after he was born and were able to schedule an emergency appt with an ENT doctor to get his tie clipped in office. The procedure was simple, quick, and relieved the pain during nursing immediately. But then we had a challenge come up when he was 9 days old. He was diagnosed with severe jaundice and we ended up having the stay over night at a hospital while he received his light treatments. They normally recommend to use formula to “flush” the bilirubin out of the system but I came in adamant that he would not be receiving anything other than my milk, straight from the breast. Thankfully, the nursing and doctor team at this hospital was breastfeeding friendly and gave me no hassle about this request. We were out of the hospital within 24 hours and back on our exclusive breastfeeding journey.

I was so paranoid about my milk supply that Jensen actually never received a bottle, ever. Not even of expressed breast milk. The one time I tried to pump for milk to be used in a breast milk jewelry piece, I was barely able to get enough. But I was able to fully breastfeed Jensen just fine. I don’t think I respond well to a pump, as I’m sure is the case for many other women. I definitely was not an over-producer. I never leaked, which isn’t a common thing. I also didn’t have a chunky breastfed baby, like many people had made me to believe I would. I constantly worried about how Jensen was on the lower end of the growth charts. But he was healthy, meeting milestones, and my skinny husband made me realize it was likely all genetics.

Jensen is about to be 18 months and we just barely made it to 17 months breastfeeding. He still likes to make sure they’re still there from time to time, but my milk supply has long since dried up. We did baby-led weaning, which means I put no pressure on him to wean. He just lost interest when I was offering the breast and eventually I realized it had been 24+ hours since he had last nursed. It was such a gradual process that I didn’t even notice any emotional chances or engorgement. I’m so happy that Jensen and I were able to share in the breastfeeding journey as long as we did. And I’m pretty sure he’s still not leaving my bed any time soon.


Every breastfeeding experience is different. They all pose their own problems, and it’s all about how we deal with the problems we are dealt. There should be no guilt when you do what is right for you and your child. As long as you tried your best for whatever you wanted to do, that’s the best you can ask of yourself.

If anyone ever needs to talk in more details about breastfeeding, I am more than happy to help as best I’m able.

Thanks for reading!

– Johna S. (Wanderlustmommasmith)

IG- MommaSmithx3

Safari LTD – Toys That Teach

This month, I am excited to have been selected to review Safari LTD for the MommyCon Parent Squad. Safari LTD is an American family-owned manufacturer of ‘Toys that Teach‘, dedicated to helping kids learn about conservation and nature through the joy of play. Their award-winning toys are hand-painted and professionally sculpted to be scientifically accurate while still standing up to the rigorous play of young children. They also offer resources to supplement the learning process, including their SafairPedia that can be found here and their iSafari blog that can be found here.

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My first impression upon receiving our three ‘Incredible Creatures’ toys is that these are life-like, vibrant, and sturdy. We received Baby Panda, Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle, and Flying Squirrel. My almost 3 year old daughter, Leona, immediately began to cuddle the baby panda and my 16 month old son, Jensen, went straight to try and chew on the head of the flying squirrel. They’re very smooth, well painted, and no rough/sharp edges (like we’ve encountered with other toys like this). The attention to detail given to each piece is truly impressive.

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Things I really love:

  • How truly realistic these toys are in portraying each animal. Leona immediately knew which animal each one was and was excited to play with them.
  • They’re all gorgeously hand-painted, while still standing up to the demands of my children playing with them.
  • This company promotes education on things like conservation, nature, and all sorts of wildlife.
  • The toys we received are the perfect size to take along with us when we travel. And they’re not too small to where I would have to worry about my youngest handling them on his own.
  • The super wide variety of toys available. Even things like dinosaurs and mythical creatures. (Totally want a dragon for myself!).

Things I sort of don’t love:

  • As with almost any toy, these make a great projectile when thrown. But, that’s worth the risk, since kids will be kids.
  • The price point of some of the larger toys could be a dampener for some families. Even though I do believe these toys are very fairly priced for the quality you’re receiving in each one.

– Overall, I would highly recommend Safari LTD products to anyone interested in their child having realistic and durable toys. They would make excellent birthday or holiday presents as well. I don’t know a single kid that doesn’t love animals! And there’s something to fit within every budget when looking to buy something as a gift. I know my children will be receiving some more of these toys on Christmas morning.

Safari LTD products can be purchased at their site Here or on their Amazon Safari Store Here

You can also follow them on their social media sites: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

I received these toys free of charge, in order for me to write an honest review of their product. I am not being monetarily compensated for my review.

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Look at those details! ^

-Wanderlust Momma Smith

Click here for my Instagram

“Baby Fever” – The Want vs. Need Struggle of having another Baby

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Baby Fever.

That moment of hearing the coo of a newborn, seeing those rosy chubby cheeks, or smelling the familiar scent of baby detergent. It’s the biological longing to reproduce, engrained in the DNA of most females, and even some males. It’s the constant internal battle of instinct vs logic.

I envy my “one and done” mom friends. Or those who are 100% sure they’re done adding to their family. At times, I wish I felt that same closure of my reproductive years, just to end the back and forth of it all. But I also feel remorse for my friends still stuck in the trying to conceive community, striving hard at the goal of becoming mothers. How can I be so selfish to want a third child, when so many just dream of having one? I feel I may seem so ungrateful for the two perfectly healthy children I have.

The past year, it’s been a constant mental battle over me having another baby. Emotionally, I long for the positive test, the first kick, the repeat home VBAC experience, the first latch of breastfeeding, and the first ups in the ring sling of a newborn squishy baby (among so many other things).

Logically, I know that a third baby would make life for me and my husband a lot more complicated. The lack of freedom for me as an exclusively breastfeeding mother, even less time alone with my husband, one more child to possibly wake us up all through the night, and one more heartbreaking cry to make car rides unbearable. Would it truly be worth the added chaos?

Another thing that makes it hard to resist another baby is that I have extremely easy pregnancies. Both of them lacked morning sickness, one of the most common and miserable symptoms of a pregnant woman. I really don’t have many symptoms at all. I’m one of the “lucky ones” when it comes to carrying my children in my womb. I truly enjoy being pregnant, every bit of it. I feel that if it wasn’t so easy for me, maybe it would be easier to be officially done. To spare myself the misery of another 9-10 months nourishing a baby within myself.

Often at times I find myself weighing the pros and cons of having another child. The things that basically were the same when deciding on having a first or second one. My husband knows he would possibly like another baby in the future, but isn’t nearly as ready as I am for it. If he was on board for a third right now, then there would be nothing holding me back from it. I would gladly dive back into the world of trying to conceive and fertility meds. Both of our children were conceived thanks to medication to force me to ovulate. Which was needed due to my PCOS condition and long, anovulatory cycles. Deep down, I would love a surprise pregnancy. Not “planning” things and having to worry about ovulation tests or basal body temping.

There’s also the worry of a third birth for me. My first birth was very traumatic and ended in a unneeded csection. My second birth was a completely healing home VBAC that was amazing in every way. I worry that having a third birth may not go as planned and I could “ruin” the happy memories I achieved with my second birth. At the same time, I know that every birth is special in its own way and will be perfect however it unfolds. I’m confident that I can have another home birth, and if not, it’ll still be a beautiful moment of meeting my new baby.

I know that in 20 years, I would regret not having a third child. There’s a piece of our family that I feel is missing, one last spot to “complete” the Smith legacy. So at this point for us, it’s really more to the matter of “when”. Do we go ahead and have our third now, while the first two are young, getting the infant years out of the way? Or do we wait until they’re school age, starting over again from the beginning of infancy?

In the end, I feel it is a need for us to have another baby. And I will have the patience for us to do so when the time is right. Bringing a child into the world is best done as a team, and I will wait for my husband to be ready for it again.

Thanks for reading a piece of my heart.

Update: On April 29, 2020, we welcomed our third baby at home! Freya Evelyn is our last baby and we couldn’t be happier. She was born after 3 early losses and twin boys lost at 10 weeks pregnant in April 2019.

– Wanderlust Momma Smith

Instagram – @MommaSmithx3

Love with Food Deluxe Snack Box Giveaway!

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~GIVEAWAY TIME~
You can enter here on my blog, on my Facebook Page, and/or on this post on my Instagram. That’s right, you can do both for double the chances!
I’ve partnered with Love with Food​ to give one lucky winner a Deluxe Box of snacks.

To enter here on my Blog:
1. ‘Like’ my Facebook Page Wanderlust Momma Smith
2. ‘Like’ their Facebook Page Love With Food
3. Follow LWF and me on Instagram: Love With Food & My Instagram

Bonus entries:

– Comment on any of my blog posts and add “LWF giveaway entry” at the end of your comment

-Share my blog anywhere you please and comment “shared on XXX” on this blog post

Then head over to my Instagram, and find this post to enter there: My Instagram

Then head to my Facebook page to enter there: Wanderlust Momma Smith

Giveaway runs from August 17-24, 2017

This giveaway is open to those 18+ and USA only, void where prohibited. No endorsed or affiliated with Facebook/Instagram in any way. Prize sponsor is responsible for prize fulfillment. Winning entry will be verified for participation. Winner must reply within 24 hours or a new winner will be chosen.

Baby Led Weaning – The Basics & Tips

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I didn’t know too much about baby led weaning when my first was born. I was a new mom and ended up getting overly excited about solid foods. I hastily offered her puréed food from a jar shortly after she hit 4 months old.

But for my second, I was all on board the baby led weaning train. Especially since he was my first to be exclusively breastfed. I knew from the start that we wouldn’t be touching solids for him until 6+ months. And just until he was overall ready for it. I even had to remind myself that reaching/grabbing for my food was a natural reflex and did not mean he was ready.

Once he was 6.5 months old and sitting up completely unassisted, I decided it was time to give it a go. His first baby led weaning meal was long slices of avocado. Easy to grip, easy to chew for a toothless baby, and full of healthy fats/good stuff. Below is a picture of Jensen eating that first “real” meal!

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I post a lot of Jensen’s meals on my Instagram/Facebook and I’ll be answering some of the main questions I receive with this blog post. Plus adding other tips along the way.

1. What are some good foods for a baby new to solids?

As I stated earlier, I started Jensen with avocado slices. Other things he had early on: scrambled eggs (once an allergy is ruled out), boiled and shredded chicken, over cooked noodles, flakey fish, ground beef (I add a bit of taco seasonings), steamed soft veggies (easily mushed with a fork or between your thumb and finger), blueberries, sliced grapes (never whole!), and basically anything else that doesn’t require teeth to properly chew and isn’t a choking hazard.

Tip: At first your baby may only appear to play with their food. Or may chew it up and spit it back out or even gag a bit. This is normal. It takes time for the swallowing part of solid food learning to happen. It was about 12 days before Jensen truly ate his first bit of a meal.

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2. When do you think my baby will be ready for solids?

I like to answer this one with the signs I look for as being ready. I wanted Jensen to be sitting up fully unsupported, over 6 months old (adjusted age), and able to move food from the tray to his mouth on his own. Reaching out for your food while you’re eating is not a sign of being ready. It’s a natural reflex of curiosity. It’s also good to note that teeth are not a requirement to begin baby led weaning. Jensen didn’t even have a first tooth until 11 months old.

Tip: I’ve always stuck to the motto of “Food before one is just for fun“. This means that food is really a learning process while baby is under one. Breastmilk or formula still needs to be their #1 source of nutrients. Always offer the breast or bottle before meals. It’s also good to remember that you don’t have to be giving 3 meals a day plus snacks at this age. Some days your baby may not even eat any solids, others they may eat more than you expect. There’s no pressure on you to get them eating solids on an adult schedule.

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3. Do I need to cook a special meal for my baby? 

Majority of the time, probably not. Unless maybe you’re having inferno firey hot chicken or super salted ribeye steaks solo for dinner. I usually gave Jensen a deconstructed version of my dinner. No added salt or seasonings, shredded or cut up into baby bite sized pieces, and soft enough for him to manage on his own. I also love quick meals for my kids and often use frozen veggies that I’ve steamed warm in the microwave. You don’t have to stress yourself to give your baby all organic/fresh foods, unless you just really prefer it that way.

Tip: You don’t have to fully skip puréed food, but I would avoid “baby cereal”. Baby led weaning is mostly about baby learning to self feed solid foods, but I think it’s still good for them to experiment with other textures. I still give Jensen purée food pouches when we go out and about, since it’s easy to keep them in my purse. You can make them yourself or there’s plenty of  brands to pick from  I personally love Happy Baby clear pouches (as does Jensen). I also give him apple sauce or other purées in his Replay Recycled plate and let him use the GOOtensil from NumNum to feed himself. Or he just dives straight in with his hands…

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4. Is it always this messy?!

In the beginning, most likely yes. Actually, even my nearly 3 year old is pretty messy most days. I try to just embrace the mess as part of the learning experience. I usually begin BLW by just putting baby in the high chair in only a diaper. It saves me a bit of laundry and makes for easier cleanup. I’ve never seen much need for a bib unless baby can’t be nearly naked, like eating in public. Starting solids does make dining out a bit challenging and/or embarrassing though. I sometimes try to put a napkin down under the high chair and do my best to keep the mess contained. It’s totally normal for baby to treat their food like tiny missles or finger paints.

Tip: The meal for baby doesn’t have to be large. I prefer to give a few small pieces of 2-4 different meal items on the tray. It gives baby a choice on what they would like to try. There’s no pressure for them to eat all of it though, let it be a laid back learning process.

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5. Yesterday my baby loved *insert food*, but now they won’t touch it. Why is that?

Both of my toddlers are masters of this. One day Leona will love mac-n-cheese, and then suddenly she acts like I’ve tried to poison her with it a week later.  Jensen used to love corn, but now he rarely touches it. Just like adults, babies have fluctuating moods for what type of food they want. That’s one reason I always offer several things so that they can chose what they want. It also may take upwards of 15-20x putting a certain food in front of your baby before they’ll try it. Patience and persistence goes a long way to establishing a balanced diet.

Tip: No two babies will be the same when it comes to the weaning process. Leona is super picky, hardly tries new foods, and doesn’t eat majority of what is put in front of her. Jensen is like a garage disposal and will eat everything in sight most days. Just do whatever works best for your current baby. And each meal doesn’t have to be a full variety of the food groups. I just try to make sure every group is used at least once in a full day, once baby is eating 2-3 meals a day.

If you have any other baby led weaning questions, feel free to comment here or PM me on Instagram (@mommasmithx2) and I’ll be happy to answer as best I can!

Products used in pictures: EZPZ fun mini mat, NumNum GOOtensil, Replay Recycled plate and utensils, all of which I love greatly!

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Tips to make Traveling with Toddlers less Stressful

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Traveling with a toddler is both super exciting and extremely stressful to even think about. Or just plain stressful! Especially if the travel isn’t for leisure. Necessity some times brings about spontaneous trips even more than planned ones.

When I travel, I usually do it with two toddlers! And no other adult help at all. My only companions being my nearly 15 month old son and almost 3 year old daughter. My husband works a lot, so most of our leisure travel sadly doesn’t include him. He knew when we started dating that I had a major wanderlust and that it wouldn’t stop even when kids came along. I didn’t really picture traveling with kids to be stressful, but as a challenge I looked forward to tackling head on.

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For both of the kids, I went on the first road trips within 2 weeks of their births. 9 days old for Leona and 14 days old for Jensen! Leona’s first trip was down to Biloxi with my mom to visit family and Jensen’s was to East Tennessee on my own to see my father.

Thankfully, newborns usually sleep majority of the ride. Just stopping to nurse on demand, allow momma to pee, and load up on calories to support my regulating milk supply. The real challenge came when they became mobile!

So, here are some helpful tips to make things a bit less stressful, and help you prepare for your adventures with your growing family. Travel doesn’t have to be terrible for anyone involved! Making memories with my children is what I live for. These go beyond the basics of “what to pack”.

1. If you think you have enough wipes/diapers/clothes, pack even more

Seriously. Pack double the amount of wipes you normally would use in a day, per each day you’ll be traveling. Wipes aren’t just for diaper changes or potty learning accidents. They’re also great for wiping faces, cleaning hands, and quickly wiping off a foreign place your child will be touching. Pack ALL the wipes!

A second and third part to this one: pack 1-2 days extra worth of diapers than what you think you’ll need. You never know when plans will be extended or if a sudden need for more diapers will arise. And pack 1-2 extra changes of clothes too. My kids tend to be extra messy while eating on trips.

2. Make sure your plans include breaks

Remember the care free days of traveling alone or with your partner? How you could easily drive straight through a road trip without more than a quick bathroom break? Even having one child, it will slow you down some. Plan your road trip or flight connections so that you have plenty of time to move at a slower pace. Plenty of times for grabbing a quick snack, stretching legs, seeing local sites, and other miscellaneous things. Unless you’re driving at night while the little one(s) sleep, then they’ll likely need freedom from their car seat prisons at least every 2-3 hours. And there’s only so many times I can hear ‘wheels on the bus’ before I’ll go insane.

3. Three Words: “Portable DVD Player” (or other video playing devices)

Whether it’s a plug-in DVD player for the vehicle or a battery powered one for the flight with head phones, I promise these will make the trip much easier for your toddler. Especially when loaded up with their favorite DVD.

A good alternative would be downloaded videos on your phone/tablet and putting them in guided access mode (where a toddler clicking the home button won’t exit out). To enable guided access on an Apple product, rapidly click the home button 3x in a row. You’ll need a password to end guided access (again by triple clicking the home button).

Netflix also now has a wide variety of things you can download while on wifi and watch even when you’re not connected to the internet.

4. Mess-free snacks

My go-to item for this: freeze dried apples. Super easy to open, hand behind me to a backseat passenger, and not worry to much about the cleanup at our next stop. Also easy to store in your carry-on bag for flights. Since not all snacks on board will be toddler friendly… or free. I also do snacks like: goldfish, other freeze dried fruits, teething wafers/risk rusks (even my nearly 3 year old loves), crackers, and basically anything that’s dry and easy to eat for them. I also will do pouches for flights or in the car if I’m feeling REALLY trusting. The Flipping Holder is a great product to avoid pouch squeezing messes!

5. Travel at the right time of day

If you’re able to drive while your little(s) sleeps for the night, then by all means do it. For me, I usually road trip with just my kids. So, I don’t have a backup driver to help trade off sleeps turns. If I don’t drive during the day, I don’t get any sleep at night. My kids usually wake up about 9am. My youngest naps around 11-12pm. Usually I will plan to leave about 10:30am. That way he is awake for a little bit watching videos before he drifts off for his nap. As long as my oldest is quiet, he will sleep 2+ hours. Then we take a break within 30 minutes of him waking again. This can include lunch and maybe a bit of walking around somewhere. Try to stick to a schedule that works for you at home, even when driving. The same strategy will go for flying. I try to book flights that leave right around when he would be ready to nap.

6. Wear ALL the babies!… Or in this case toddlers

Baby-wearing is a life saver for me. Especially when my second was born right as my first turned 18 months old. It also saves my sanity when I travel alone with my kids. I’m able to hold the hand of my oldest and wear my youngest, still keeping a hand free to pull a rolling bag. And I even throw a backpack on my back too! We look bulky, but we actually make it work easily. There are carriers you can back carry with even past 60 lbs! Tandem wearing may be a bit hefty with that though… My ring sling has been a wonderful thing when traveling by plane too. My son easily sleeps in them and they’re easy to adjust for nursing or nap purposes. And I’ve never had a flight attendant ask me to remove it for take off/landing either.

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7. Bring a bit of home for the hotel

Once you arrive at your destination, it helps to have something familiar for your toddler where ever you’re staying. For us, it’s usually always at a hotel.

I’ve tried the cribs that hotels provide and I’m not a fan of them. Plus, they’re not always available, so don’t count on them. I always bring a travel pack-n-play for my oldest to sleep in. She’s never slept in it at home but it’s something we’ve used on every road trip. You could check it for longer trips flying, but this is likely a road trip only type tip. My son co-sleeps at home so I make sure to get a queen sized bed or larger to ensure he can properly co-sleep on vacations as well.

My daughter also likes to bring 2-3 of her favorite stuffed animals and I have her pick out a blanket to bring. These little bits of home make settling into bed for the night much easier.

Also, bring a chip bag clip or two. I use these in the hotel to clip the curtains in the room together to avoid the early morning sunlight waking my toddlers up earlier than I’d like. We aren’t morning people…

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This pic was from breakfast on a solo trip to Austin, TX in June 2017

I hope you enjoyed these little tips. Feel free to comment with any questions!

Happy travels! Enjoy the memories!

Follow me on IG – @mommasmithx2

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– Momma Smith ❤

Home VBAC of Jensen Matthew

The story of my home VBAC starts with the story of my csection.

I was due on October 10, 2014 with our baby girl. I was eager, impatient, and ready to meet her face to face. October 10th passed by without even a faint sign of labor. My labor for Leona began on October 14th, around 4am, waking me from a dead sleep. By 7am, we were heading to the hospital an hour away. When I arrived to the hospital room around 8:30am, the OB promptly checked my cervix and announced “7cm, 100%. -2 station, and I just broke your waters to speed this up”. Didn’t ask my permission, didn’t warn me, nothing. This was against my wishes, as clearly stated in the birth plan I brought with me. This was the beginning of the end of the birth I had dreamed of.
By the end of the day, my daughter was born at 8:55pm via csection. I had pushed 3 hours flat on my back (against my wishes and begging) and the OB deemed me unable to birth vaginally. She said things like “losing your baby” and “you’re just not strong enough”. Things that scared me into agreeing with whatever would bring my daughter to this world safely. She was perfect when she came out screaming. 7lbs 14 oz and 21″ of pure independence and stubbornness (just like momma…).

The full story of her birth is much more traumatic and I’ll leave it at that summary instead. I strive to remember all the happiness her birth brought to my life and focus on the positive aspects. She will never know her birth caused me trauma, because it also brought me motherhood. The most amazing gift I’ve ever been given.

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Now, this leads us to 18 months down the road. My fully pregnant self chasing around a toddler and eagerly awaiting my chance for a home VBAC. And also eager to know if our second child was to be a son or a second daughter, since we chose to let it be surprise at birth (best decision ever, by the way).

It was the morning of April 18, 2016. I was exactly 37 weeks pregnant and fully expecting to be pregnant another 3-5 weeks. I had even made a Facebook post stating this around 7am that morning, while also asking for last minute guesses on the baby’s sex.

Around 8:02am, while playing BINGO on my iPod, I fell a sharp popping sensation in my groin area. At first, I just thought the baby had given me a super sharp kick. Then when I stood up, my waters went everywhere. I grabbed a blanket beside me and went to tell my mom in her office (she works from home). She gasped and practically yelled “CALL YOUR MIDWIFE!”. So I waddled back to the den, with a towel between my legs, and did just that. Missy was the midwife I always turned to, with her sweet and motherly voice and strong sense of nurturing. She sounded so chipper and yet so calm when I told her the news. I told her I would take a shower and then let her know how I felt after.

At that time, I called my husband who had only been at work a bit over an hour. He knew something was up when he answered the phone, since I’m rarely up at 8am. He didn’t drive at this point in time, so he had his manager bring him home. I remember her skidding into the bedroom 90 mph right as I exited the shower. It was about 8:45 and my contractions had started. They were coming hard and fast, right from the start. I decided to call the midwife, doula, and birth photographer just in case things were going to progress quickly.

My husband started filling up my birth pool in the den as my doula and photographer arrived around 10am. I had been watching Supernatural on TNT when my water broke and I was still listening to it in the background while laboring in the water. I had no idea at the time that I was going to birth a baby boy, who we planned to name after that show. Seems rather fitting now that I think back on it!

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My midwives and birth team arrived around 10:30-11am. I agreed to a cervical check, since I was having such intense pain in my pubic bone area. I was only 4cm but I was fully effaced. I tried to labor in the pool more but the water need to be warm if I was to give birth in it. I run very hot during labor and being in the warm water only increased my nausea. I decided to move to the bathroom, laboring backwards on the toilet.

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I think if I ever have another baby, 99% of my labor will be spent backwards on the toilet. Something about that position was very relaxing for me between contractions. It also helped me to not worry about the mess, which is a big bonus for laboring. My husband never left my side and someone from my birth team was constantly there to whisper encouragement every time I said “I can’t do this”. I really appreciated their unwavering support, because I said that 100s of times that day. I had this constant doubt in the back of my mind ever since the OB told me I would never get a baby out vaginally. But I pushed through with their support and reached my goal.

I had the urge to start pushing when I decided to leave the comfort of my porcelain throne and go to my bed. I probably started pushing long before I needed to just because it helped to ease the pain and made my efforts seem more productive. It was slow going for the crowning phase, but I thank that for my lack of needing stitches at the end of it all.

After 4 full hours of pushing, I heard the words “Reach down and catch your baby!”. I instinctively reached down and scooped up my squishy baby, pulling him close to my chest. The first words I said were “I DID IT! I’M NOT BROKEN!” and quickly followed by “IT’S A BOY!” because I felt his parts when I reached down to pull him up towards me.

Click here to see that moment! (it’s not graphic)

Jensen Matthew was born at 8:19pm on April 18th. He was 8 lbs 9 oz and 20.5″, even being exactly 3 weeks early.

The placenta came about 20-30 mins later with just a gentle push when I felt a small urge. We put it in a pot and let it sit beside me so we could do delayed cord clamping. I was able to get him to latch at 9:10pm. It was noticed right away that he had a bad tongue tie. We had it clipped by an ENT at 4 days old. Quick and easy procedure.

The midwives made sure Jensen and I were stable and then left my husband and I alone to enjoy our brand new son. We didn’t even decide on his middle name until that undisturbed hour. We decided to use my husband’s first name after our other choice (Alexander) didn’t seem to fit.

After our alone time, the midwife came back in and helped my husband to cut his cord. We left it untouched for 2 hours. Then the placenta was examined and one of the birth attendants went to prep a few small pieces for a smoothie. That’s right, a placenta smoothie! I decided against encapsulating but had read of benefits acquired just by consuming it raw. The smoothie was an orange juice base, blended with lots of frozen berries and a whole banana. It was blended so well that I NEVER would’ve guessed the unusual ingredient. And even if it was a placebo effect, I think it truly helped.

By 11:30pm, just over 3 hours after his birth, the birth team had gone home and we were left in peace and quiet. The laundry had been started by the team, they’d brought food and drink to my bed, and there weren’t any signs left that a birth had just occurred that night in our home. No machines beeping, no nurse checking on me every hour right as I nod off, and no one trying to take my baby boy off to a nursery. I curled up in bed with my new squishy baby and we slept off the exhaustion we both had from the long day. Even now at almost 15 months old, he is still breastfed and sleeping with me. Just like on our first night together. Being able to exclusively breastfeed is another amazing thing I believe my home VBAC gave to me. Since I was never able to EBF for Leona. She was supplemented from day 2 of her life and I was majority pumping by 6 weeks old. I ended up switching to all formula by 6 months. Jensen has been the opposite experience and has been only breast since birth.

I had the most amazing birth and postpartum experience for Jensen and it almost completely healed the birth trauma I experienced for my csection. I recommend home birth to anyone who is even slightly curious about it and I’m more than happy to answer any other questions you may have.

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Thanks for reliving the two best days of my life with me.

-Momma Smith

Photo Credit – Cassie Fox of Atoka, TN

Midwifery – Full Circle Midwifery in Memphis, TN

My IG – @MommaSmithx3