Back to the Blog

How Baby Ota Was Born

It Happened One Night (Early Morning, Technically)

My contractions started 11/11/2008 at 3:30 a.m. My heart was beating very fast and I was in pain and scared. I had been preparing for this moment over the last nine months, but at this minute I wasn’t ready.

I woke up my sleepy husband, took a quick shower, and did my make-up and hair. It was silly, but I wanted to look good in the pictures with our newborn (don’t laugh!). We got to the hospital around 6:30 a.m. Luckily, the nurses were ready for us as it was slow day. By the time I got to my room, I was in terrible pain and exhausted. There was no way for me to get any rest or go back to sleep. The pain was getting worse and worse but I wanted to see if I could handle it – epidurals were not an option. I’m from the Czech Republic and the only time women there get epidurals is when they have a C-section. Most of my friends had a natural birth without drugs and I wanted to be as hardcore as them.

You Can’t Always Be Hardcore

It didn’t take me long to realize I couldn’t take the pain anymore and I wanted the drugs. The epidural was as promised, the pain was gone and I was mentally calm. It was time to get some rest before the little munchkin arrived. A couple of hours later, our baby girl was born! I had a very easy delivery (don’t hate me – especially you moms that had to go through hours of hell). We named our baby girl Lidia. Sweet Lidia, she was precious.

Whack Wrappers

The nurses wrapped her in a receiving blanket like a burrito and put her in plastic box. I was shocked by how exposed she was. She was asleep, but I couldn’t believe she was comfortable at all. The air conditioner was running high in the room and the only thing that kept her warm was little thin piece of fabric. The plastic box did not look comfy either. I guess I was expecting something else, being from Europe. I always thought, “It is America and in America they have everything and more than we do in the EU.” In Czech hospitals, every baby is wrapped in a big, cuddly zavinovacka and put into a little crib on wheels – no plastic.

Hospital Hospitality

While we’re on the subject, new moms in the Czech Republic stay in the hospital for a week. While they’re recuperating, the nurses take the babies and let the moms rest. I got kicked out of the hospital after 24 hours and that was it.

There Were A Lot of Tears (I Won’t Say From Who)

Lidia was a perfect sleepy little newborn until we got home – then the crying started. We changed her – she was still crying, fed her – still crying, tried to wrap her like a burrito in a receiving blanket – still crying and the blanket was not working like the nurses showed us. We never could wrap her the same. There was nothing I could do to make her stop crying. I felt like a failure.

Mom To the Rescue

I was very fortunate to have my mom with me visiting. When she saw my struggle and frustration she took charge. She pulled one of the family’s old zavinovacka out of her luggage and wrapped Lidia in it. The problem was solved. Lidia stopped crying and went to sleep right away.

To the Rescue of Moms!

After few nights of amazing sleep, my husband and I started wondering if the zavinovacka was something American moms need to get their no worry beauty sleep. We researched the market and found that baby swaddles in the United States are flimsy, dangerous or ugly. My husband compared them to fabric “book socks” that you use to protect textbooks! Lidia was born a couple weeks before the holidays and everywhere we went, we took the zavinovacka with us. Friends and family were amazed how easily she could sleep anywhere and how it easy it was for everyone to hold her without worrying about hurting her or holding her uncomfortably. The idea of Baby Ota was born! The name came from Baby (as in very small humans that are freshly minted) and my last name, Otahalova. There was a problem. The zavinovacka Lidia used was very fancy with lace that needed to be ironed after every wash. Back home, that’s not a big deal, many people don’t have a dryer and therefore iron all of their clothes, in, the US it’s the opposite. I had to come up with easier version. After experimenting with dozens of different fabrics, I settled on bamboo fiber because it’s durable, stain resistant, breathable and incredibly soft. With my fabric in hand, I modified a traditional pattern to look a little more modern and the Baby Ota was born!

Ivana’s Story: The American Dream Begins in the Czech Republic

Diapers, Delivery, and Debt: Things I Wish I Had Known When I Was Expecting

How Baby Ota Was Born