GLOW Leadership Programs for Tweens + Teens


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Does anyone remember, SEVENTEEN Magazine? I haven’t thought about that magazine for about….17 years. I enjoyed reading the pages and catching up on my crushes. Josh Hartnett! I admit that I would compare myself to all those images of perfection and style even though I was somewhat old enough to know that no one looks that good all the time! And I always felt I needed to have this and I needed to have that. Am I alone in this?

Instead of SEVENTEEN Magazine, it is Instagram, Facebook, Pintrest, the latest post from that really cute everything-put-together mom blogger, the fashion blogger who makes an ugly sweater look desirable, and I don’t even watch TV for advertisers to tell me what I need but if I did, we could count those, too. The point I am trying to make here is, back when I was a young lady I had a handful of magazine subscriptions that I would get each month to tell me what was cool, how to dress, what to ditch, etc. At least, I had a whole month to digest the issue before a new release would hit the mail box or the rack at the Smith’s. Now, all those similar messages are in front of my face hourly by sending updates to my phone or inbox all day long from various social media outlets that are updating new content every day or more. I like getting ideas. I like finding new ways to revamp my old t-shirts. I do. But it comes with a price. I do feel like I need certain things and I feel bummed if someone didn’t like my picture or posted something that hurt my feelings. Don’t we all like to have approval and feel a little slighted when we don’t get it?

My Daughter entered 7th grade this year. I won’t let her have instagram, which I must be the only uncool mom out there, because “EVERYONE has instagram, Mom!” 7th grade is hard enough trying to navigate class schedules, locker combinations, sports, and that fun ‘P’ word, puberty. I don’t want another outlet for my little lady to compare herself to or think the new super food salad post is something that she must include in her diet or feel rejected because someone didn’t like her post. But at some point, I am going to need to help direct her to a healthy path of social media and using her own voice to share her opinions. This is why it is so important to share two new programs we are offering at Aviva Woman. We wanted something to help our ladies become leaders, a program to help her discover and use her own voice, a program that encourages her to Be and Love. The GLOW Leadership programs (Girls Leading Our World). GLOWing Up for our 5th & 6th grade ladies and You GLOW Girl! for our 7th & 8th grade ladies. Please share if you know a young lady that might be interested in attending this after school program. It begins October 25 and concludes with a service project on December 13. Also, you can read more about the registration process.

What to Expect || 14 Weeks After Delivery



 ThermiVa works for me!

Days turn in to weeks and weeks turn in to months and there is but a few days left of the year. Life is feeling more normal every day. Body feels recovered, though waking up in the morning seems a challenge all on its own. One thing I wish for, more hours in the day/night. All in all, I really couldn't be a happier mommy even if the 'mom brain' that comes with the title leaves me wanting for more memory. I am planning on getting hormone pellets once I am done nursing. Why wait till I finish nursing? Hormone changes still fluctuate while a mother breast feeds. Why try to balance that when my body is fluctuating due to milk production. Back to the point (getting off topic is such an easy thing to do these days), I have opted for the Intimate Care Procedure. 

The heart and soul of Aviva Woman is providing Intimate Care. There isn't a place quite like us that focuses on care that too often gets brushed over or avoided all together. I am so glad that after having my 4th child I could talk with someone and be treated for my own intimate concerns. Leaking after a sneezing bout has been something that I have been experiencing for some time. I never thought anything of it until Aviva Woman. Now, I notice my body bracing every time I have to cough or sneeze. Why should I have to live like this! I know I am lucky, it could be worse. Another concern for me personally is dryness. With the hormonal changes due to breastfeeding, it is common for a woman to experience intimate dryness. That can make sexual activity less than exciting for both me and my husband, but probably less for me. My sweet husband appreciates any physical attention without comparing me to my pre-pregnant self; however, I would like to feel my body producing its own lubrication and not have to use any sort of artificial lube. 

It has been a week and a half and I can add my personal testimony that IT WORKS! I have noticed a lot more strength when I sneeze. In fact, I haven't had any dribbles for the last several days and with cold season underway, there have been lots of sneezing. This is a big win in my book. In terms of intimacy, the husband has reported that it feels "amazing." I think it puts a man in a hard corner to ask what it feels like. He doesn't want to make me feel like I was 'loose' but he did say I feet tighter. I noticed that I do have more lubrication but I still need KY if we have sex more than once in an evening. Speaking on sex, one of the benefits of the procedure is enhancing sexual enjoyment. I am still undecided if my enjoyment was a result of the procedure or if it was because my husband seemed more into me and sex than before (he has been on testosterone pellets which have really changed our marriage for the better but that is a whole other story). I do think I was able to have an orgasm more easily for whatever the cause and I could certainly feel more. It's not easy to explain without completely pouring over the anatomy of the feminine body. Suffice it to say, bedroom time has become something to look forward to rather than an act of love. 

I plan on completing a series of 3 over the next 3 months and will report as I notice changes take place.  I am so honored to be able to share my story and hear that it has inspired others to seek relief for intimate concerns. I am an Aviva Woman and you can be, too.  


What to Expect || 5 Weeks After Delivery


Managing the Bins


Looking around the house, there are several piles or bins that are crammed with stuff that doesn't belong in the given room. This is my attempt at cleanliness.  At some point, I will empty these blasted bins and find a home for all the items in them. Laundry is in piles and closets look barren. Speaking of clothes, did anything I own ever look good on me??? And did I actually like these old clothes I had before pregnancy?  I'm seeing a common theme with my house that mirrors my brain. All the various ME's (mother, wife, career woman, friend, the fun self if she is still there) are compartmentalized into different bins in my head as I try to complete tasks from each 'bin' at some point during the day or week. 'Try,' is the key word in that last sentence. This post is all about the 'Trying.'

Before focusing on the mental work, I'll brush up on the physical changes going on. The 'back door' region, I am so happy to say, is getting better. Though I still find myself wondering if ThermiVa could also be used...shall I say, behind. Things are feeling more normal. This next topic is sensitive, too. I have been experiencing some intimate dryness which is causing redness and irritation. I know this is because my body is not producing hormones right now so I am really eager to start my first ThermiVa to help with intimate dryness. Folks, its not glamorous but its the truth! Aside from the dryness, the lady parts seem to be back to normal. Yes, I have checked down there with a mirror and can say things are looking like they did before.  Thats a relief.  What I need to start doing is hitting the gym. Is there a movie, Honey, I shrunk Your Muscles?  Because I can't see anything that resembles muscle tone. 

"Men can suffer from postpartum depression,"

Moving on to the mental and emotional progression of postpartum, this area still needs some help. As I mentioned in the last post, postpartum can be a real struggle for women and its different for each pregnancy. I am still experiencing anxiety and days of sadness from being overwhelmed. I just learned that this can happen to men, too. Men can suffer from postpartum depression from lower levels of testosterone. Interestingly, my husband has been on bio-identical hormone pellets and had a placement just last week. I thought he was starting to act more moody two weeks ago! And to think, I believed he was reacting to my lousy attitude. It turns out, it could have been the male version of postpartum and not my fault after all.  Finally, a win!  For me, I have decided to try a low dose of progesterone. A new study from Yale reported that doses of progesterone helped postpartum smokers stay away from smoking. I think it helped these women maintain a more calm attitude, which kept them from picking up the smoking habit again. I have never been a smoker but studies show that lower levels of this hormone can cause all sorts of these negative feelings associated with postpartum. Luckily, our provider Tara, has coached me on the why's and how to take my bio-identical progesterone capsule. I get them at a compounding pharmacy in Sandy, Brighton Pharmacy. A word, these make you sleepy! Take them at night. I took my first one last night and was REALLY sleepy when I was waking up to feed the baby for his night feedings. By the way, I've heard people take this to help get restful deep sleep over sleeping pills.

I will let you know how this works out as I take my capsules during the next few weeks. One thought, since the last post, I think admitting that I was having a hard time adjusting and feeling seriously overwhelmed has really helped! It was extremely scary to talk about these emotional challenges. The physical changes are more humorous to describe.  It is the emotional topics that frightened me the most to share. But that is the whole point of Aviva Woman, our community's safe place for women to share and discuss intimate issues free from scorn, judgement, and pressure.  If I can't start the conversation, who can I turn to, to do so? 

Getting this out there helps me unload my emotional 'bin' for today. I still have lots of laundry and sorting to do but I will close the lid and prioritize what needs to be done now, which is rest and (background baby cry) and feed this little heart of mine.




What to Expect || 2 Weeks After Delivery


Two weeks ago I looked down at my stomach. He was moving around again. I filmed it. Its actually pretty cool. As I watched, I wondered what part of his little body was pushing out this way and that. I could feel his heel up in my rib. 'I will need to invest in a few good one-piece swimsuits for next summer.'

 Rome Everett Sands

Rome Everett Sands

And now, I sit with a sweet new little baby. He is as perfect as I could ever hope for, in every way. But lets get down to the nitty gritty.


No Tear or stitching needed from the delivery. Vaginally, I feel pretty fine. I took Ibuprofen religiously every 8 hours. The nurse offered pain pills but those never sit well with me. As far as cramps go, I have felt some discomfort if I forget to take my ibuprofen 800's. BUT, its the BUTT that has got me really worried. Things are out where they should be in! I am seriously considering ThermiVa for that region, too. Preparation H has been a god-send. HA HA, if you think this is funny but this is for REAL. My friend offered a donut for me to sit on during that first week. I never got round to getting it but wish I would have. That would have made sitting more manageable. Now that I am headed in to 3 weeks post delivery, I can sit way more comfortably but I am wondering if the, ok I will just say it, the hemorrhoids will ever go back to where they belong. 

Essentials that helped me during this first two weeks:

For the the V and the B (Vagina and Bum)

  • Prep H

  • Disposable panties (the ugly kind from the hospital)

  • Lots of pads (the kind that go in your disposable undies - My husband bought me bed wetting pads instead of panty pads - oops)

  • Panty liners (during the day for when the bleeding slows)

  • The squeeze bottle with warm water (use every time you go toilet. CLEAN AND FRESH...ish)

  • Cold Pack (well, I put this on my bum. To be honest, it didn't do much for me aside from adding to the present discomfort.)

  • Almost forgot, the stool softener (5 days passed before having a BM. I was so so so glad I took the softener.)

For the rest of me

  • I kept my phone close so I could time my feedings (CAUTION-Late night feedings can lead to mass expenses from late night Amazon purchases. It has been like Christmas every day!)

  • Lots of comfy pillows

  • Splurge on a few nice nursing bras if you plan on breast feeding. I never bought proper nursing bras before, an unfortunate mistake. Nursing is so much nicer when you have the right support and access.

  • A good eye cream. Trust me on this one or avoid looking in the mirror for the next few weeks.

  • Lots and lots of water! It helps to flush out the excess fluids from all the IV stuff they have you on at the hospital. Plus, water is essential.

  • Eat plenty! Don't skip or sleep through meals.

  • Nursing pads

  • Chapstick close by (my lips got so dry)

  • I designated an area in the house besides my bedroom to nurse and change the baby so that I could come out and hang with the family without having to go back upstairs to my bedroom.)

My Struggles

Emotionally, postpartum is a serious deal. The emotions are so strong and very real. Even though I can recognize my rollercoaster feelings, it has made them no less easier to deal with. There have been lots of tears and feelings of being overwhelmed. My little toddler came and gave me a hug and said "its ok mama" when he saw me having a little cry session. We see all these rosy pictures on social media, but the truth is postpartum is not all rosy. Baby blues are real. Having someone to talk through your feelings with, validate you, and help you realize you are still a normal human being can be a tremendous asset during these challenging few months. No one likes to post about the ugly truth of sleepless nights (thus the eye cream) because it ain't pretty to take a picture of. I don't even want to post a picture of it. But for those of you wanting to be prepared or feel included, emotional struggles are no laughing matter. Find someone who you can talk to. Don't carry the weight of your feelings alone. If you don't have anyone you can talk to, find an online group you can chat with. Facebook has a bunch of support groups. The Healing Group is a great resource and places like Aviva Woman can help nurture you back to feeling YOU again. For me, I live it moment to moment. Parts of the day can go really really well and then it can all come crashing down just when you feel like things are going smoothly. Yes, I love motherhood, I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world! But, it is tough at times, and I sometimes struggle to feel bad or sad without feeling guilty. I love my babies, I have a wonderful life. There is much to be grateful for BUT I say this for myself right now, It is okay to have feelings of loneliness, being overwhelmed, unsure, etc. The sun will shine again and life will only continue to get better as adjustments become routines.

Physically. Well, because I'm up all hours and squinting in the dark, I feel like I have a permanent wrinkle between my eyebrows. I will be getting ThermiSmooth and taking pictures of that journey along the way, hopefully as soon as next week. I could really use a few facials, not a fluffy, feel- good facial, but a glycolic chemical peel that will help clean my skin and increase production of collagen and elastin fibers. I think I look older than I should. My youth is fading away from me!!! COME BACK!  I talked about the bum,  a major issue for me right now. My Tummy is stretched. Its not as bad as I imagined but its not nice either. I wish I was one of those ladies who never get stretch marks or who get them in places you can hide. My stretched areas are front and center all around my belly button.  I don't like it one bit. I guess I can get some kind of surgery for that (I already have a c-section scar) but I really don't think much can be done about it; however, one piece swimsuits are making a come-back!


An Uneventful Labor and Delivery || Comparison of all the deliveries


So, nothing was posted at 39 weeks because there was no change to report. Boo. I couldn't help but feel disappointed because I thought I had been progressing at such a good pace. It was a conscious effort to remind myself that the baby still had a full week to cook before my due date and that, at least, I was unlikely to be 10 days late like the past two baby's were. The day before my due date I had a full sweep of the membranes. Ouch! I certainly felt that! I thought, I may go to the hospital later that day but nothing consistent developed in terms of contractions. Until, the morning of the 20th. Today, is when all the action took place. Contractions were getting uncomfortable, like bad cramps and the tightness in my abdomen. they were off and on every 3-6 minutes. I felt like it was time to head to the hospital. I'll not go into detail about all the laboring as the purpose of this is more about the journey to recovery. But I will say a little note about the different types of deliveries, as I have experienced them all now, and how I feel about each one. 

Baby One. This was a traditional vaginal delivery. I was trying to go unmedicated (no epidural) but my body stopped progressing because I simply couldn't relax. I got the epidural and had a real struggle to push out my son because he was faced up instead of down. It just makes pushing a little more difficult. They ended up sucking him out and he had a lovely suction mark on his head that went away after a few days.

Baby Two. I labored at home until my contractions were pretty close together, 2-3 minutes apart. When the crampy feeling became pretty intense I went to the hospital. Everything seemed to by fine until the nurse broke my water only to realize that the baby's head was not in the birth canal or engaged. The baby was sideways. The nurse told me not to push (why do they say that? Contractions are automatic!) and with each push I could potentially be breaking my baby's back and/or my pelvis. I was wheeled in for an emergency c-section. BUT it was midnight with only one surgeon on hand. We were waiting for the other doctor to run to the hospital but my baby's heart rate started dropping. So, the doctor reached up in there (like elbow deep!) and grabbed her by the jaw and pulled her out. I was in a gas mask and didn't know what was happening so when I finally came round again I was confused about why I couldn't feel my c-section scar. The confusion still lingered as they placed a little wrapped bundle into my arms. 

Baby Three.  The plan was to go natural, which went well all the way up to a 10. My husband was a champion in helping me through the laborious work. Everything was going smoothly and according to plan. The baby's head was still a little high so before having them break my water the doctor had me push through a couple contractions to lower the baby deeper into the birth canal. They broke my water and out came the umbilical cord, prolapsed cord is the technical term. Its supposed to be really uncommon but luck would have it happen to me. Before you know it, I was being wheeled to the surgery room with the doctor riding at the foot of the bed holding my little treasure back up in the birth canal off the life support of the umbilical cord. I was put completely under as I was not hooked to an epidural drip (unmedicated/going natural). That was scary. It took me about 90 minutes to regain full consciousness. If we didn't have any videos of those first few hours I wouldn't be able to tell you much about it. 

Baby Four. The goal was to have a VBAC, vaginal birth after cesarean.  But I wanted to make sure that if I ended up needing a c-section I would not need to be put completely to sleep. To avoid this, I opted for an epidural right away. Baby number 4 was a dream delivery. Labor was uneventful with not complications to report. Delivery was pretty standard and out came my little sweetheart. I was able to do skin to skin and had a lovely bonding moment after they sucked the poop out of his lungs...I guess that was the only thing not great. The baby pooped in the water sac and may have breathed some in. 


C-Section. The Pros +++ and Cons ---

  • Under Carriage was still in tact. No Wincing on the toilet. +++

  • Could plan and schedule a c-section so its not an emergency. +++

  • Less trauma to the baby. +++

  • Risk to the mother, especially if you are put under. ---

  • Battle Wound Scar. One piece swimsuits for me. ---

  • Long Recovery. 6 weeks low energy. ---

  • Felt like my organs took a year to get back in place. ---

  • 4-5 days at the hospital. Not much sleep to be had. ---

Vaginal Delivery and VBAC. The Pros +++ and Cons ---

  • The Under Carriage....not the same and wincing at the toilet. ---

  • Left the hospital after 24 hours! +++

  • Back on my feet in a few days. +++

  • Still tired but noticeably more energy compared to the c-section. +++

  • Baby squeezing through a tight space! ---

Have more questions? Comment below!


What to Expect || 38 Weeks


Here we are at 38 weeks. My husband is in California not due to return till later this evening. I've been having contractions off and on all week. Carrying my toddler around was sure to help progress me. I arrived at the doctors office first thing on Thursday morning with specific instructions to notify Husband at the slightest change so he could catch an early flight if needed.



Well, I had progressed! The Doc told me I was dilated to a 4 and 80% effaced. He asked if I wanted my membranes striped again. I told him my husband was out of state and wasn't quite sure what to do. Besides! I was having brunch with friends the next day!!! Can't miss out on a brunch especially when my independent days are numbered. So, we opted not for the membrane sweep. I called my husband to let him know how I had progressed. He was really worried but I told him not to worry (though in my head I really wished he was home for peace of mind). This is so odd for me. I am never this far progressed especially BEFORE my due date. I took it in good faith that my body is doing what it knows and that hopefully I will have a relatively normal delivery.

To my surprise, Blake (Hubby) elected for the early flight and left his meeting. He wanted to me home in case anything happened. He came through the door and we sat and we walked and we cleaned and we waited. No baby. I did get to go to brunch the next day.



Brunch was a blast. According to all my friends who have had babies, me dilated to a 4 and 80% effaced was like, "why are you not in the hospital"?!?!? I know. I was equally confused.  They can offer you an epidural when you are dilated to a 4. Here I am with no signs of labor. Maybe things aren't progressing like I thought. Or maybe I will just go over like all the other kids of mine. Or maybe I just need to be a little more patient as I am still not to my official due date. **Word of advice, when they tell you your due date, just add 10 days to that date.  Every day before that date will feel like a gift if you deliver before hand. 


What to Expect || 37 Weeks


I'd like to share my journey on what to expect after expecting. My name is Suzi Sands, Founder and CEO of Aviva Woman. This is my 4th and last pregnancy. I've had 2 vaginal deliveries, 1 C-Section, and a hopeful VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean). Since there is plenty of information about being pregnant but little about what happens to our bodies after delivery, we are going to start just a couple weeks before the anticipated delivery date of September 20.



My 37 week check up gave me some great news. I was dilated to a 3 and 70% effaced. Here is link that explains what dilation and effacement are. Being this far along at week 37 is major for me. I am usually 10 days past my due date and perhaps a 3 dilation when I get to the hospital in labor. 

I elected to have my membranes striped, which basically means my provider used his finger to gently separate the bag of water (amniotic sac) from the side of the uterus near the cervix. (I see Dr. Watts at St. Marks OBGYN Women's Clinic, the same clinic that provided care during my 3rd pregnancy.)  After my check-up I headed back to work. I felt relatively fine that day but did notice a lot more bleeding and mucous. This is normal as a result of the membrane sweep. **I highly recommend using panty liners all day long especially during the last few weeks of pregnancy. It keeps me feeling fresh and clean from all that 'stuff'.  

The next day of having my membranes striped or swept, I noticed more contractions. I kept track of when they would occur and how long. It's crazy, because you would think that after doing this pregnancy thing a few times I might recognize a thing or to about labor, but it is still all a guessing game at this point. My contractions were pretty irregular going from every 10 minutes to 15 minutes, then skipping an hour and picking back up again throughout the day. They felt tight and I had a little cramping but nothing major to report on. However, I really thought to myself, "Tonight is the night." And I wasn't sure I was quite ready for the baby to arrive even if my body was terribly uncomfortable. Sitting. Standing. Laying down. It all feels miserable. Right?!

Well, the weekend came and the new week started. Still pregnant. My husband had a work trip planned on Tuesday through Thursday. He was pretty anxious on whether to stay or go. I told him to go and work while he can. I can handle this. Plus, he stayed at a hotel near the airport in California, which is only a short flight. I highly doubted I would go into labor....until my 38 week check up.