Holden’s Birth Story

Our perfect Holden James Pacheco entered this world on Sept. 8, 2017 at 10:17 PM after a 16- hour labor, weighing 8lbs 2oz and 20.5 inches long. My Dr suggested a scheduled induction on his due date. We went in at 6am that morning. The nurse checked my cervix, verifying I was dilated to 3cm and 75% effaced. They informed me that my cervix was tilted which is why my body wasn’t going into labor on its own. My water was bulging – but because of the location of the cervix, it wouldn’t break on its own. They used what’s called a foley balloon, inserted that inside the cervix which dilates it slightly then when they pull it out, it centers it. Fortunately I only had to have it in for an hour.

After pulling the foley balloon out, they checked my cervix again which was then in a great location and dilated to 4cm. The next step was to break my water – because it was already bulging and baby was so low, they were worried about breaking the water as they didn’t know the location of his cord. We waited for about two hours and eventually the doctor felt confident enough to break my water and they started me on pitocin to cause contractions and further dilate me. I dilated to a 7 really quickly and was having super strong contractions so things were looking good and I got my epidural. We kept going on pitocin and I kept having contractions but baby’s heart rate began to drop a bit, so they had me laying on one side because his heart would do better on that side. The epidural either didn’t work fully or settled weird because the right half of my body was numb but I was feeling a LOT of pain in my left side, as if the epidural didn’t work on one whole side.

The anesthesiologist came in to check my epidural and essentially re-did it so that I would be numb. He gave me too much and I became far TOO numb. didn’t know that was possible giving birth, but trust me it is. I would have rather gone no epidural than to be as numb as I was during this time. They upped the pitocin after he re-did my epidural and all at once things started happening very quickly – I immediately dilated to a 10, 100% effacement, baby dropped into the birth canal, and I was too numb to do ANYTHING. The contractions started stressing Holden out, because he wasn’t handling the contractions as well and his heart rate kept dropping lower and lower, the nurses kept trying different things to try and up his heart rate any way they could and even inserted a liquid that mimicked the amniotic fluid which would just go in and drain right out of me.

At one point his heart rate dropped so low we almost lost him. The entire NICU team entered my room and were ready to prep me for an emergency C section. They gave me a shot with some form of medicine to stop all contractions and kept flipping me from side to side to try and up his heart rate any way they could. I just remember feeling SO helpless with how numb I was. I heard a “sweetie, do you think you can rotate…” “Okay Nicole we are going to try this now…” (multiple times) and I literally could not do anything. I was sooo scared and couldn’t stop crying and shaking because I was so worried we were going to lose him. After a while and in a specific position, his heart rate went up and started regulating again. They didn’t want me to push and didn’t want me back on pitocin again (though I had been dilated to a 10) because they were worried he just wasn’t going to tolerate it well.

We waited a long time, another two hours or so before they decided to have me start trying again and informed me I only had an hour and a half to push because the baby can only be in the birth canal so long before they don’t survive. They put me on an extremely low dose of Pitocin and contractions began to drop his heartbeat again (later discovered the cord was wrapped around his neck). They had to take me off pitocin again, I was having little to no contractions but had to push anyway and my extremely high dosage epidural had completely worn off by then (hours later) so I literally felt everything and was pushing with nearly no help from my body. At one point I remember the doctor saying, we are going to use the vacuum on him, one tug is all I like to do and we will see how much lower that gets him. They did that and then I remember the doctor saying “okay three more pushes and if he doesn’t come out we will have to do a c-section, we are out of time.”

I prayed hard and literally pushed with everything in me. I had to have a second degree episiotomy as well to help. I even said out loud “I feel defeated, I can’t do this.” But the craziest part is I could feel how much lower he was in the birth canal and the nurses kept commenting on how much hair he had, and that was encouraging and kept me trying as hard as I could. The nurses called the other teams to prep them for my C section and I just was crying thinking I had failed (not that a C section is a failure by any means, but this is just how I was feeling after I had been trying so hard for hours but couldn’t do it). I somehow managed to push him out on those last three tries. It was seriously such a blessing he made it out the way he did or we may have lost him.

These moments were by far the scariest, most emotional moments of my entire life. They placed him on top of my chest immediately and I couldn’t do anything else besides stare at him and just cry. I look back on these photos and cry again because I am just so amazed – it almost feels like a dream. He is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen and we love him so much! He’s such a blessing to our family and has been such a joy to us this past week. I am so thrilled to be his mom.





And here’s our little Holden, a week later!

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Xo. Nicole


36 Week Update

We are just over 36 weeks now! A couple of comments I’ve received this week I haven’t yet before:

“You look like you’re ready to pop!”
“You are all belly, girl. I wish my belly had been that big when I was pregnant.” Compliment? Unsure.

There have been others but can’t quote them word-for-word…. they have just been comments making me realize the due date is quickly approaching. Baby is sinking lower and lower – he’s always sat low, but this is no joke now. The pressure is almost unbearable and literally just standing up hurts now. Two weeks ago we went to the zoo and walked a total of over 4 miles… there’s no way I could be doing anything like that at this point in time. Crazy how rapidly he’s growing now and how quickly it’s changing. A friend let me borrow her belly band – absolutely life altering! I should have been using it like three weeks ago at least haha!


We celebrated our 5th anniversary on Friday. We got to hang out all day because I had the day off of work, which I was super thankful for! We talked about going on a short trip but because I am super pregnant, that plan didn’t really work out. So instead, we are having a baby and purchasing a home for our 5-year anniversary! Which i’d much prefer anyway.

Our entire day was centered around food. We ate at a few places that all offered a lot of gluten free options and it was wonderful. So happy to have found some local places here in Columbus and am excited to find more over time.

Outfit Details:
Shirt: H&M Basics
Pants: Asos Maternity
Shoes: Steve Madden

Xo. Nicole

Hi Ohio!

We have had a lot of fun exploring our new home! We really like it here so far – there are so many houses in Columbus that have a lot of character and there are so many we are completely in love with. We are currently looking to purchase a home to start our family. With baby boy joining us in less than two months, we are really looking forward to having a place of our own & we can hopefully can get a dog too!


Xo. Nicole

Magic of Vulnerability… Infertility pt. 2

….when I say all my symptoms went away, I don’t mean all Celiac symptoms. But guys, I could eat food like a normal person again. I didn’t feel like I was getting stabbed in the gut constantly, I was gaining some weight back (it’s not good to be unhealthily skinny), and I had normal bowel movements. TMI but this is a vulnerability post and I did say it was going to be personal.

Okay so after my stomach issues went away (again this was over the course of a year or longer and about $6,000 DOLLARS OR MORE later – yes just for the stomach stuff), back to our fertility issues. After being referred to the local fertility clinic, J and I decided that we would begin fertility treatments. We decided to start with doing IUIs. For those of you who don’t know the difference between that and IVF, you will want to look it up haha.

I had never talked to someone about fertility treatments in depth before and what those entailed at all. Again I think this was my naiveness. So I guess we both went into the whole process pretty blind. I didn’t think to reach out to others and ask for help or advice or support through the process (side note – if you are struggling with infertility, my advice is to get as much support as you possibly can). As I said before, I am not super open when it comes to personal issues unless you’re someone I know super well. But I kind of wish I had opened up more throughout the process.

I didn’t know that the statistics are like 98% of people will not be successful in getting pregnant after their first IUI… so I went into the process super hopeful. You get the procedure done and then two weeks later they do a blood pregnancy test – meanwhile you’re giving yourself progesterone shots, taking chlomid, and injecting progesterone suppositories – so you’re LOADED with all the hormones. This cycle is the absolute worst! I can’t even begin to describe the emotions felt during this process. And let me just start by saying that I recognize how blessed we are to have not had to do IVF and to have it only take us two years vs. five or whatever, because it was that hard for me.

After being loaded with all the progesterone, you develop pregnancy symptoms regardless of if you’re pregnant or not. So after the first IUI and feeling hopeful, I was like ok I’m for sure pregnant. Blood test two weeks later… negative. I cried and cried and then went home and did more research. We geared up for IUI #2, still remaining pretty hopeful and positive. IUI#2 complete… new symptoms developed and I was like ok I think I might really be pregnant this time! Blood test two weeks later… negative. I cried even harder.

When above I said that I can’t begin to describe my emotions – true story. I felt positive and happy at times, I felt sad and heartbroken at times, and then I felt truly angry other times. Angry at anyone who was able to get pregnant fast, angry with God for denying me something I wished for so badly, and then angry with myself for feeling angry with God! Geared up for IUI #3. This was THE one! The fertility clinics tell you that after three IUIs you need to consider IVF because you should become pregnant by the third. So I was like ok, this is our chance or we move to IVF. But by this point I was very negative about the whole thing, which I feel shameful admitting but it’s true. I already was dead set on it being negative – we were already talking about how we were going to possibly pay for IVF after spending $6k on my medical issues and I didn’t mention the $8k we had spent applying for dental schools at around the exact same time. We were both beyond stressed. We were struggling through all of our trials but somehow our marriage was getting stronger and stronger at the same time – we were in this together. We both knew how each other felt… for once there was no “you don’t understand” to be said!

IUI #3 complete…same symptoms as the month(s) before, unsure if I was pregnant and had very very negative attitude as I said before. Blood test two weeks later… negative. Despite how negative I had been in preparing for the third IUI, I don’t think I had ever cried so much in my life as I did at this time I found out it was negative. This was the one that had to work – and it didn’t. Why me? Why us? So many questions, no answers. Nights spent praying and praying, no answers. I was emotionally, physically, mentally drained. By this point we just really didn’t know what to do and we had a decision to make. Do we save up for IVF or do we continue down the same path?

Meanwhile…. J had applied to 18 dental schools throughout the nation. Again, 8k later and we were waiting for acceptances to schools. December 1st is the day they call “Decision day.” Supposedly by midnight on Nov 31st students start getting offers and literally the majority of our friends had received an acceptance that night or within a week or two after. Nothing for us. Hopeless! We were not getting pregnant and we were not getting accepted to schools. I feel like if you’re struggling to find a spouse all you see online are engagement photos, proposals, and weddings. When you’re struggling to have a baby it’s the same. All you see are pregnancy announcements, birth announcements etc. During the time of treatments I found out that one of my very best friends was pregnant and hadn’t even been trying. My sister in law announced her pregnancy to the family at one point during our fertility treatments and of course I was SO happy for them both. Also feel shameful admitting that I was completely heartbroken too, I was feeling very sorry for myself. I just remember bawling multiple times but also knew there was nothing anyone could do for me and nothing that would make the pain go away. I was trying so hard to keep myself together and was so happy and supportive of friends and their situations but was literally dying inside. This is where having a good support system is super beneficial.

J and I had done more research about the IUI procedures and were trying to figure out the best decision for us. We had spent about $15,000 or more between my medical expenses and his dental school expenses and had spent about $5,000 on fertility appointments and procedures already. If the 4th IUI wouldn’t work, that’s $5k we could have spent towards IVF. So we were down $20k and this was literally one of the hardest decisions i’ve ever had to make but at the same time a very easy one. We both around the same time found articles that stated 4-6 IUI’s with no breaks in between would give the best shot at becoming pregnant (even though the fertility clinic tells you three – and I think this is because they don’t want you to waste money if you’re going to need to do IVF). J found an article that discussed taking a supplement which helps the male sperm, while I found an article that discussed taking a supplement for celiac which can help gain fertility. Decision made. We decided on IUI #4.

IUI #4 complete. Blood test two weeks later… POSITIVE. WAS THIS EVEN REAL LIFE? On December 30th we were out to breakfast with friends when I got the call and though I was expecting the phone call, I was not expecting to hear that I was pregnant. I was nervous but also still kind of expecting the worst I guess! I had to take a few mins outside in disbelief BY MYSELF, crying, with all sorts of mixed emotions and things running through my head. I was ACTUALLY PREGNANT. Then I had to go back into the diner and pretend that nothing was going on when all I wanted to do was scream to everyone that I was pregnant. Oh and not only that but I had to text my husband that we were pregnant. What a great way of finding out right? haha! He went into the bathroom and took a video of himself and his excitement. We have a bunch of those documented and hope to get them up on YouTube sometime in the near future.

I share all of this (with whoever is reading this) in hopes that if you or anyone you know might be struggling with infertility, find support for yourself or reach out to those you know! Those few friends who were aware and were there for me will never even understand the impact they made on our lives and our situation. Again, I recognize that everyone has their own trials and struggles and ours probably wasn’t so bad compared to the person you know who never could get pregnant and had to adopt or compared to those that took years and years to get pregnant when ours only took a couple years. But I will tell you that they were the hardest years of my life.

We move to Columbus, Ohio in 5 days because we finally received dental school acceptances. Our first acceptance on April 7th. Four months after everyone we knew had received an acceptance already.  I firmly believe that sometimes we have no control over our own lives but somehow things ultimately work out for our good. I got pregnant at a great time, we received three dental school acceptances and one to a better school than we could’ve imagined or ever have picked for ourselves (a school not even remotely on our radar) and we are off to start a new adventure together.

It is okay to struggle – that’s the beauty of this challenge, we get to see a whole different side of those we might think have perfect lives. We are human, none of us are perfect and it’s important to remember that need to try not to compare our situations to others! We each have our own path with trials and struggles along the way. If you read my whole story… props and thank you!! I do have to admit it was hard for me to write this all out but also felt relieving in a huge sense. I feel super blessed to be pregnant with our baby boy who gets to join us in 3 short months! I can’t wait to meet him and can’t wait to be his mama!

Xo. Nicole

Magic of Vulnerability… Infertility Pt. 1

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I’ve decided to participate in my friend’s Magic of Vulnerability challenge. When I was trying to think of something particular to write about, I realized there are a lot more things I could write about than I’d like to admit. I am pretty much an open book when speaking with people I know and people I’m close to, but I generally don’t write about personal things and post on social media for just anyone to see. This alone means I am already killing this challenge right?! haha.

Infertility. We’ve all heard this word, not everyone has experienced this and not that I have any enemies, but I wouldn’t wish fertility problems on my worst enemy if I did. So here’s my story…. I am currently 27 weeks pregnant with my first baby – we have a boy on the way! Words can’t express how blessed I feel to be able to experience this miracle.

Rewind to nearly 5 years ago when my husband and I got married. I would always say, “yeah we will probably wait about a year or so to start having kids” thinking that was a long time. Well, TWO years came and passed and within that time we had many struggles as newlyweds. Marriage was not easy for us! We entirely were not ready to have kids, point blank. After those years passed, things had drastically improved and we began talking more about the desire to start a family together. About 6 months after that, we decided I would go off birth control and we would no longer prevent. Maybe this was just me being naive, but I thought I would get pregnant right away with no issues whatsoever – like oh if you have sex when you’re 16 you’ll undoubtedly get pregnant so what makes this any different right? Wrong! After 6 months or so of it not working, we decided to become more serious with trying. If this is what we want, we need to make it happen! We need to strengthen our marriage and we need to work super hard for this.

I downloaded an app to track my cycle and ovulation, we timed things… we ultimately tried everything we could think of and after 6 additional months and still not becoming pregnant we decided it was time to see an OB. He basically just said – after a year of trying and you’re still not pregnant… something is wrong and at this point you’re going to need help. He referred us to a local fertility clinic and that’s when the second half of our journey started.

Meanwhile, while all this trying was occurring – I was struggling immensely with some health problems. I had been to my doctor multiple times with stomach issues. I had struggled with stomach issues my whole life (I always just figured I had irritable bowel syndrome and there wasn’t anything I could do about it). But things had gotten worse, things had gotten a lot worse. I had lost 12 lbs in ONE month and for such a small person, I was straight up unhealthy. I couldn’t keep food down. That wasn’t even the worst part about it. No exaggeration, it felt like someone took a knife, shoved it in my abdomen and twisted… the pain was SO severe!

My doctor diagnosed me with “gastritis” which essentially was just her way of saying she had no idea what was wrong with me. Gastritis is essentially “pre-ulcer symptoms.” So, “you don’t have an ulcer, but you’ll get one if you’re not careful”. She prescribed me some omeprazole and sent me on my way. After a while of that not working, I called her and told her my symptoms were getting worse – she prescribed me a stronger omeprazole type drug and when that still wasn’t working, I called in and she explained to me that it was my stomach lining needing to heal and could take months.

Well, after almost a full year of issues and my symptoms continuing to worsen I decided I needed to see a specialist. The specialist couldn’t really pinpoint what was wrong and said he thought it didn’t sound anything like ulcer symptoms but could be irritable bowel syndrome. But knowing how severe the pain was, I knew something else was wrong. I requested a blood panel for Celiac and he wanted me to have a colonoscopy and upper endoscopy done to rule out other things and determine the damage. Well, after all of the tests and procedures – turned out I was right… blood test came back positive for Celiac disease! I immediately went on a strict gluten free diet and my symptoms literally went away.

Will post the rest of our infertility journey tomorrow and more issues we struggled with during this time! Stay tuned.

Xo. Nicole

Family Announcement

Every year my family has an Oscar party. We fill out ballots, play “Oscar Bingo,” and offer prizes for winners. It is something we enjoy doing every year and look forward to! This year was even more exciting because we got to announce our pregnancy to the whole family when we were all together. I thought it would be a fun time to do it and wanted to think of a clever way to announce so this is what I came up with:

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Xo. Nicole