My Birth Story

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Jeremy, Sydney, and I went to Anchorage to pick up Papa and Nenaw (my parents) on August 11, 2012, which was our estimated due date for Baby August. We joked that it would be really awesome if we went out to dinner at the Moose’s Tooth and then just stopped off at the birth center to give birth, since we were right there by it. We were so thrilled to see my parents, and made it to the Moose’s Tooth, and all the way back home, without stopping off at the birth center. We had a great visit with them, even though they were exhausted and on North Carolina time.

We went to bed, and at about 2:05 am, I woke up and needed to poop, bad. My labor had started with Sydney in this way, but I’d had so many stops and starts with this baby, that I had put it out of my mind to consider labor until I couldn’t ignore the contractions. As soon as I was finished using the bathroom, I had a sudden feeling of not only was I in labor, but it was time to leave the house for the birth center, in an expedient fashion. I did not, however, voice this to Jeremy, and instead climbed back into bed, where Sydney had opted not to sleep that night, so I was free to paw and writhe about on the bed while making my labor sound of choice, an angry cat sound. Jeremy woke up, and asked me if I was ok. After I continued to make more sounds, he leaped out of bed, in a semi-calm fashion, and got dressed and brushed his teeth. Then he went into the room where my parents and Sydney were sleeping, and told them it was time to go.

Within 10-20 minutes, we were in the van, and on the way to the birth center. The midwives and our doula, Stella were called at some point, and I started timing my contractions. Less than 4 minutes apart. We weren’t very smart the night before, and had not filled the van up, so we had to stop for gas. While timing my contractions, I tapped on the glass to let Jeremy know they were 3 minutes apart, he got a bit freaked out. Because our midwife was at a birth at the hospital, a different midwife called me back, and I was talking to her, and was overheard by Jeremy, who was driving, and he thought I was saying I had the “urge to push”, and started to gun it, until he found out I was not feeling like I needed to push. We eventually made it to the birth center, where my cervix was checked by midwife Felicity, 5 and a half centimeters.

I began cruising the medical building where the birth center is housed, and ascending and descending the stairs, in individual steps and lunges, with Jeremy or Stella applying counter pressure. I was very happy that we had the entire building to ourselves, and we were the only people at the birth center. While I labored, Sydney toodled the building with Papa and Nenaw, and made great use of the elevators. Never had she been awakened at 2 something in the morning to play, so this was a real treat.

Stella applying counter pressure

My contractions were coming about a minute apart, and Stella said it might be a good idea to get them to be spaced a bit more, so I went to the bed, and got on all 4s, howling like an angry cat. At some point, I switched to the birth ball, which was awesome, and my hips could be free to move, and I could be supported. I opened my eyes, coming out of one contraction, and midwife Karen was there. In the quiet, respectful nature of my labor atmosphere, she had appeared, so gently, and I was greeted with a smile.

I need to take a moment to mention that while planning for this labor and birth, music was a huge consideration. Music, for me, is what makes life flow so nicely, music helps life make sense at times, and music has helped me carry on through some tough times. So, I knew that music should be strongly considered for this birth. At first, I began to put instrumental and relaxation music on my iPod, but then began to consider that there were other types of music I might like. I ended up with quite a bit of music, from different artists that help my days pass more smoothly at times, they included: John Mayer, Deathcab for Cutie, most of the Garden State soundtrack, The Fray, Coldplay, Taylor Swift, and Carrie Underwood. None of the songs were about birth, but they were all songs that I enjoy. The playlist was named Baby August, and at times during my labor, I was so very grateful for the music we had playing in the background. It added to the atmosphere, the ambiance, and really helped me to remain calm.

As labor progressed, I became increasingly more uncomfortable, but stayed fairly relaxed, with lots of vocalizations. I could feel my support system there, though my eyes were closed most of the time, their gentle, positive presence was ever present. It felt truly amazing. Most of the time, my parents were in the common area of the birth center with Sydney, keeping her entertained, and sometimes, they would enter the birth arena to quietly view what was taking place. I am so thankful, that though no expectations were discussed about them attending the birth, they were so peaceful and wonderful an addition to the birth environment.

Sydney in the common area

As labor progressed I had to use the bathroom, and asked for Jeremy to hold onto me. I was shaking and feeling increased pressure and my contractions were growing ever more effective. I knew I was in transition. I went to the bed to be checked and was 8 centimeters. I think I labored some more on the ball, then went to the bathroom again, and said I wanted to get in the tub, which was then filled, and I got in. Shortly after I got in the tub, Sydney entered the room, dressed in her swimsuit, and got in with me. She showered my belly and legs with water and love, and was just so peaceful and gentle and quiet. This is sort of a rare thing for Sydney-girl to be, and so that’s why I mention this. She realized the situation called for calm, and everyone else in the room was so calm and quiet, and she followed suit. I am so very proud of her. She stayed in the tub with me for a bit. Sydney was allowed to remain in the tub with me as long as I was not pushing.

Jeremy, Sydney and our midwife

Midwife Karin and me

I labored in there, sitting, working through contractions, becoming increasingly more uncomfortable, feeling like birth was right around the corner, and becoming a bit doubtful about whether I could give birth. I wanted to escape, and I began to feel like I could push, as my tones changed, and the midwife noticed. She checked me, and I had a cervical lip left along the front of my cervix, next to my pubic bone, so that each time I had a contraction, I got an intense pinchy feeling that translated to me as intense pain. I began to vocalize more in words, and because I knew my daughter was in the room, I tried to be aware of what I was saying, so most of what I said was, “OUCH!” The midwife left her fingers in there for a contraction and had me push to get the lip to go over the baby’s head, and asked me if I wanted to get on all 4s to try to get that to move (either out of the tub or in the tub), I decided I was NOT getting out of the tub.

Midwife helping me push the lip over the baby’s head

Moving the cervical lip, with a super cute Sydney in the foreground

I got on all 4s, and found that there was pain to be had in getting the lip to disappear. I continued to be cognizant of the fact that Sydney was in the room, but finally gave way with a word that is not so nice, and rhymes with ‘duck’. The midwife laughed and noted that the baby was likely not far behind. I continued to feel a lot of pain, and then sat back down in the tub after several minutes to be checked again. With the help of the midwife’s fingers, I was able to push hard enough to get the lip past the baby’s head, and to a position of rocking back and forth under the pubic bone. None of this was a picnic, and far more painful than I thought it could possibly be.

A note about pain: I will say that I had no idea that it would be painful at all, and I know that sounds very silly, but in my preparation for Sydney’s birth, I took HypnoBirthing that addresses comfort levels and not feelings of pain, and I had an epidural during her birth (not because of pain, but out of sheer exhaustion), so I experienced little pain. At this point, I had been in labor for about 5 hours, as compared to reaching the pushing stage in about 20 hours with Sydney, so my ability to process what was happening was different. There were many differences in my labors, and at this point, the baby was very ready to be born, quite literally around a turn, just around the corner, so close. I was very afraid at this point, afraid I couldn’t push the baby out, afraid of the pain (if it already hurt this much), and I wanted to ask to go to the hospital. But my inner dialogue was something like this… “Oh my God, I need pain relief! I need to go to the hospital. I wouldn’t make it to the hospital though, the baby is about to be born. The only way to get the baby out is to push the baby out. I can do this.”

The midwife kept reminding me to not hold back, because I was fighting what my body was trying to do, out of fear and pain. The patience of the midwife’s voice, and the whispering in my ear by Stella was incredible. At one point, I remember Stella telling me I could do it, and I started to repeat, “OK, OK, OK, OK, OK…” (While my inner voice was saying the complete: “Ok, I can do this”) over and over again. The rocking of the baby’s head continued, until one huge push, and there was no stopping what was taking place. I was no longer in control at all of my body, as the Natural Expulsive Reflex (NER) took over, and I shook all over and felt like I was yelling inside. I really wish we had video of the labor/birth at this point, because I feel like I lost all control. I know I was making noise, I felt like the baby was going to come racing out. I kept feeling for the head, and eventually I felt it. I remember feeling immense pressure and fullness as the baby’s head was emerging, especially at the front of my pelvis, and as if the skin from my urethra back were splitting, never to return to true form again. And, I couldn’t stop any of this.

While all of this was happening, Sydney was being held by Nenaw, and in all of the noise and commotion that I was producing, Sydney hid her face in Nenaw’s shoulder. She was scared. Nenaw reassured her, but she wanted to cry from seeing me in a struggle. Sydney eventually turned her head back to watch.

My midwife provided support of my perineum, and my husband waited with hands ready to receive our baby. My eyes remained closed the entire time, and on one of the pushes, the head came forth. Soon after, another push, and the shoulders, and the body slid out into my husband’s hands, and next thing I knew, our baby was on my chest. I was relieved to meet the baby, relieved to meet on the outside, joyful about everything. We asked Sydney if she wanted to tell us who the baby was, and she announced that it was “Collin”. This surprised no one, since all of us thought the baby was a boy, and everyone was elated to finally see him. Sydney stood there, looking at him, talking to him (we told her this was one of her jobs after the baby was born).

Here he is!

Sydney was so excited.

I don’t remember much, other than thinking that our Collin looked just like his big sister did at birth. He looked at me, calmly, wide eyed, as if he were in shock about what had just happened (I was too, my son). I continued to feel immense pressure, and about 2 minutes after he was born, I was informed that his cord had finished pulsating, and so it was clamped and cut. This was a choice that was incredibly important to us, so that Collin could receive all of his cord blood, to help him acclimate to the outside world and breathe more easily. The placenta was soon birthed, and Jeremy was asked to remove his shirt for skin to skin bonding to begin with our son. We were moved to the bed to begin bonding as a family. Collin was able to latch on, after he was laid on my chest again. After some time, Collin was weighed and measured. He was a whopping 8 pounds and 1 ounce and 21 inches long! (Sydney was 6 pounds and 10 ounces and 19 and a half inches long) Soon after that, I was wheeled down the hall to be stitched up (I tore in the same place as I did with Sydney). Collin was assessed and given his Vitamin K injection, a decision we weighed very heavily, and after much consideration, we decided we would rather he have a vitamin injection than a blood transfusion if for some reason he should have a bleed before his blood clotting factors became present.

I was brought back, and we were able to relax for some time, eat, and were attended by the most wonderful midwife assistant named Cindy. I really am so grateful for her presence after Collin’s birth. She was there as a gentle presence in the background, and after the midwife left, she remained there, helping me use the bathroom, showing me how to smash my uterus to make it clamp down, and just there as a resource for our family. We left the birth center about 4 and a half hours following Collin’s birth, and have been adjusting to life ever since as a family of 4.

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Afterthoughts about Collin’s Birth:

After giving birth to Collin, I felt completely different than I did when I gave birth to Sydney. There were so many differences in their births and the time immediately following. Sydney’s birth, for me, has brought up many angry feelings that are still healing. In some ways, I felt robbed of what my experience with her birth could have been. That is another post entirely. I’d do it a million times over, to get my Sydney-girl, of course, but there are some things I wish I’d known, wish I’d said, wish I’d done differently. Can’t go back, so I prepared for Collin’s birth differently. Following Sydney’s birth, there was no sense of dignity, peace or silence. There was always some sort of noise and activity, always someone coming in to look at my “bottom”, and at times, the nurses would bring in nurses that were not assigned to me, to see the trauma that had ensued from pushing her out. No sense of respect.

Following Collin’s birth, and during his birth, there was nothing but dignity and respect. I never felt barked at or talked down to, and there was silence and peace when the time was right. There was encouragement, support, comfort, and an overall environment of positive energy. I am so thankful to have given birth at the birth center, and there is nothing I would change about my experience there.

Postpartum Period:

Currently, I am 15 days postpartum. My postpartum period with Sydney was rough, to say the least. We had some trouble with breastfeeding, sleeping, stress, and all kinds of other things. I remember at some points wanting to throw her out the two story window, and being so weepy and frustrated all the time. What I did not know then, I know now. I will share.

Collin’s postpartum period has been filled with me accepting help from others, lying down to heal, napping nearly naked (skin-to-skin) with him, tons of breastfeeding, my primarily holding him, taking my time, being patient with myself, and consuming my placenta. Yes, I said it, I’m consuming my placenta. I had it encapsulated, in a process where it is herbed, steamed, dehydrated then ground up and put into capsules. Benefits include increased milk production, decreased postpartum mood disorders, and a more even keel feeling. My postpartum period this time, because of the combination of everything I mentioned above, has been incredible. I was weepy on day 2, when my parents had to leave, and I still am missing them terribly. My patience has been thin sometimes, and I feel tired a lot of the time, but I think that comes with the territory. I am joyful to have our son, to have all the love and support we have received, and I look forward to everyday.

Breastfeeding:

I mentioned that Collin latched on well at the birth center. All of that changed by our 24 hour visit with nurse Jen (she came to our home, so super nice). Collin had been refusing to nurse, had had no dirty or wet diapers since the day of his birth, and was extremely fussy. Nurse Jen looked him over, and suggested that we see the lactation consultant at the birth center after trying to express or pump milk and feed it to Collin in a spoon or syringe. I tried this, and he nursed a bit that day, but we had a terrible night filled with him crying, and my cringing because of a poor latch. Because my parents were leaving on day 2, we decided I would stay home with Collin to heal some more, and we would go to the lactation consultant on day 3 if we needed to. Another night of crying and feeling like my nipple was being sawn off with razor blades told me it was time to seek help. We saw LC Sarah, and she assessed his latch (weak and poor), saw that his lower jaw is short, and that he has a tight frenulum on his upper lip. She suggested we go see the chiropractor. I have to sing the praises of our chiropractor!!! I called, 5 minutes out, less than an hour before they were closing, and asked if we could be seen, affirmative. We were seen immediately. While there, during the adjustment, Collin peed for the first time since birth, and we borrowed some clothing of the chiropractor’s son (he’s over a year old). He also received a skull massage and cranio-sacral adjustment, and I received instruction on helping with his lower jaw. Since seeing the lactation consultant and chiropractor, Collin has been a champion nurser! At his 11 day visit with the pediatrician, he had gained 13.5 ounces since birth, and grown a half an inch! Go breast milk!

Sydney:

Sydney has really adjusted so well to being a big sister, and has worn this hat beautifully. She, perhaps, is a model big sister, and is so very proud of her little brother. Her challenge in adjusting was that she felt abandoned and unloved by me. I was able to set this straight with her, and reassure her of my undying love for her, and things have been much smoother ever since. Sydney is very gentle with Collin, and is always ready with a “Hi, Collin!!!” and “Is he awake?!” She loves to hold him and talk to him most, and has been extremely helpful with so much. She has also made a huge transition as a 5 year old: she started kindergarten!!! We are so extremely proud of her, as we always are, and are so pleasantly surprised by how well she has adjusted and acclimated to life as a big sister.

I would like to thank some people who have helped make our transition so smooth:

Midwife Felicity

Midwife Karen

Midwife Assistant Cindy

Nurse Jen

LC Sarah

Dr. Jessica (chiropractor)

Stella (Doula)

Dad & Cheryl

Jeremy’s Mom

Grams and Poppy

Nikii

Ladies that are participating in our Meal Train

Everyone who sent me a bead and a cloth

Facebook friends

And most of all, Jeremy and Sydney

Second Baby – Who Knew, Right?!?

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I will begin at a place that seems ever appropriate, the beginning. This is a story that I rarely tell the complete version of, and one I’ve never told online. Wait, what are you thinking I’m going to say?! No, no, no, not that, I’m not going to tell my conception story, that would be… ummm, weird. The story is of me, a more complete me, and how I came to be where I am, who I am today. This post may become sad, dark, whatever, I’m not sure, because as I write it, it’s a journey. It is what it is.

It all began 7 years ago, when I was working at Outback Steakhouse, in Fayetteville, NC (a military town), where I was attending college for my social work degree. It was a day that I didn’t want to work, because I wasn’t assigned to a section as a server, but rather on a shift as a cocktail (this equals little to no tips, and out in the horrendously hot and humid weather). I wanted to call in sick, but finally decided to go to work. As I was working outside, getting drink and appetizer orders, I spotted a white truck with 4 men in the back (doesn’t this sound creepy and skanky at this point?!), and since they were within a valid distance of the front door, I went to take their drink and appetizer order, and noticed that they were good looking guys, young guys, my age. But wait… let me back up, I’d sworn off relationships. Earlier in 2005, I’d had a horrid breakup, where words were said, my heart was broken, and I had a very real conversation with God about not wanting a relationship, unless, of course, He brought one to me. Well, enter God!

Conversation started, they were seated, and I was so intrigued that when my shift ended, I went to their table and invited them back to the restaurant, but to sit in my section. This was not for the purpose of tips, it was because I thought they were interesting guys, and perhaps something unseen and unspoken, perhaps a sort of destiny drove me. Still not thinking a relationship could bloom from this, of course. Time went on, they would come in, and twice, they did not sit in my section, so I scolded them when I noticed they were there. Finally, they would come (there were 2 of them that became regulars, Matt and Dingo (my husband)), and sit in my section, and each time, Dingo would NOT talk to me. I had every thought, since I considered myself an attractive, intelligent female: do I stink?!, does he think I’m weird/stupid/ugly/etc?!, is he GAY?!, etc. This went on for months, began in July, went on until about September. I finally set my phone number on the table at one point, probably in August or so, and simply said, “if you guys ever want to hang out”. That is the longest I’ve EVER waited for a phone call.

Fast forward to October, yes, you read that right… OC-TO-BER! I was in bed, studying for an exam the next day, jammies on, looking a bit rough, and my phone rings, out of state number, I have no clue, so I answer. It’s Matt, the restaurant frequenter, sounding rather inebriated on the other end, asking me to come to The Office, a bar in town, for Matt’s birthday. I’m sure I asked if Dingo would be there, for more uncomfortable moments of silence and awkwardness (which I was clearly not used to, at all), an affirmative was given, and so I went. Yes, awkward silence happened, a bit of talking, some pool, etc.

Wow, I know, you’re thinking this is getting way too long. I promise, it’s going somewhere. Fast forward again, to the three amigos, Matt, Dingo, and Me. I was living, at the time, in a house of a friend who was deployed with the Air Force, and my house became the hang out place. The three of us hung out endlessly since that day in October, hardly ever separate. We would have game nights, and even threw a party for Halloween with copious amounts of booze that only the 3 of us showed up to… Good times, and it could only possibly happen to us. We had days and evenings in the living room when Matt and I would repeatedly look at each other and wonder, “what the hell is Dingo doing?!”, because Dingo would be SO full of nervous energy that we swore he was going to wear a track in the carpet from pacing so much. I still had no clue, he’d begun to talk to me more, but was just a nervous wreck.

It all culminated on a day when Matt came over before Dingo, and we were talking, and the conversation went something like this… Matt: “You should ask Dingo out, you know he never is going to”. Me: “WHAT?! Why would I do that?! He doesn’t even like me. You see how he acts around me…” Matt: “He really likes you, that’s why he acts like that” Me: “BS! Stop screwing with me, you know that I like him. I’m not asking him out.” A bit more persuasion on the part of Matt, and I was sending Dingo a text as we waited for him to arrive. Let me put this in all caps, because it needs some emphasis… AT THE SAME TIME THAT I PUSHED SEND, (there, done with caps) I received a text from Dingo, asking me out! Holy monkeys, holy cow…. what?!… wow!

It was arranged, we had a preliminary first date, then a first date (preliminary, you ask, well, I do too… who knows), then a second date, and he moved in. No, I’m not kidding, he moved into the house that I was sharing with the deployed guy, remember. How would this be explained, not sure, but I’m sure that was an interesting email.

 

It should be said, that this was a time in my life that I’d learned to take control of some things, that I could take control of, and one of them was contraception (I was tired of not being myself, and beginning to realize it must be poisoning my system), and I only say this, because I think you can put two and two together to know that young, dating, cohabiting couples are not just sleeping when they go to bed. Ok, enough of that. Before long, (he moved in in November) April to be exact (the 26th to be more exact, if you’re keeping track of time line here, and if you are… STALKER!), I took a pregnancy test, because something wasn’t right, and it was a big fat positive (BFP, scientific, medical terms only, right?!) This was not what we had expected (not sure how, maybe we thought that our awesome invisible super hero capes of invincibility would protect us?!), but we had been planning to get married the following year. That night, he was down on one knee, ring in hand, me, with tears in my eyes and being blinded by the light that reflected off of the diamond he held, proposing, professing his love. He was leaving in May, for California, and the plan was for me to stay in Fayetteville and finish school, for us to get married, and for me to move over there with him… Again, ENTER GOD! We were married 3 days later, on April 29, in my grandparents living room, my grandfather as our minister, and Dingo’s mom having flown in for the occasion.

We first went to see his mom after we were married, since he had leave, and while we were there, we experienced a miscarriage. I’m not very sure how I feel about that now, maybe dull, unfeeling, not sure. I never wanted to lose a baby, and yet, there I was, shaking, in excruciating pain on the toilet after I passed clot after bloody clot into the toilet. Then, onward to California, to visit his family, whom I’d never met before. Let me back up quickly… while visiting his mother, he was supposed to have proposed to me at the Space Needle. Well, we all know that didn’t happen, and so his family fully expected to meet his fiance who would be going back to NC, not his wife. It all went over without a hitch, and they took it rather well.

Fast forward a bunch, our first year was challenging, and during that year, we conceived Sydney. Her birth has shaped many of the passions that I hold today, and her birth has also scarred me, physically, emotionally, and psychologically. Her birth was the reason I became a childbirth educator and a doula. She has taught me how to be the woman I am, the mother I am, and I feel complete in her presence. I feel like I’m getting ahead of myself here, but I have not always felt this way. Much of my life, I’ve felt like I was a broken person, someone that wasn’t deserving of love. So much happened to shape that belief within myself, and Sydney’s birth and presence in my life has healed so much of that. I’ve realized I don’t have to be something for everyone else, but I do have to be something for her.

With this being said, the whirlwind relationship that I had with her dad was seeming to crumble, as we made a move back to NC, bought a house, etc. I had begun a cycle of self abuse (as I was so accustomed to, because I didn’t think I was worthy of feeling happy, and this is another long blog post entirely), and was very unhappy. It was nothing that he was doing or not doing, he was wonderful the whole time… it was entirely me, living in a state of ‘what ifs’ and a time in the past. I had packed my bags mentally, was ready to leave, when he took a trip in October of 2010, but a conversation with a very good friend of mine was like a slap in the face (thank you, Christina, for doing this for me). I woke up from my mental stupor, and realized I was where I was meant to be. God put me where I was, it was His plan, and I needed to work through the BS that was ruling over me. A long email to my sweet husband, and the healing began, in our marriage, in me, in him, and forgiveness… there was a lot of that. We worked through a lot of stuff in a very short amount of time, and it was decided that upon his return, that we would start trying for another baby. We got pregnant immediately, and were expecting a baby to arrive in August of 2011.

More training for him, and in February, I started experiencing cramping and some spotting (not normal in pregnancy), and became instantly fearful. I called my midwife, Donna, and was asked to come in immediately. I went, and we found no fetal heart tones (we had never heard them). She hypothesized that maybe the baby was hiding behind the placenta, and that if I wanted an ultrasound, I could have one. I declined, went home, had no more spotting and cramping. That night, there were changes, more spotting and cramping, and in the morning, I called my step-mom to come get Sydney. Sydney spent the weekend away, thank goodness. I went in for an ultrasound that morning after Sydney left, and my worst fears were confirmed as I saw my still and silent baby on the screen. My heart cried, screamed, freaked out, but on the outside, but among the lab coated people, I remained composed. I was told to go see my midwife, and in her loving embrace, I cried with everything I had. And since hubs was in training, I had no way of contacting him, unless there was an emergency, and I knew I could do this alone, though it was not what I wanted to do, alone. I spent the next days feeling numb, and “processed” it. Eight days later, my husband’s grandmother died (my goodness we miss her so much), for which he was contacted. It was just a sad, sad time, after so much cleansing and healing. I didn’t give myself time and space to grieve (I know that now).

Upon his return from training, our year became hellacious. He made a decision to not complete training, while in another phase of training, unbeknownst to me, until I got a phone call simply saying, “Pick me up”. I will say this about what we went through, we have never been so bonded and united in an effort as we were in trudging through the insanity of last year. I would not choose to do that with anyone else, but it cemented in us a new and complete love for each other that is amazing. Though most of 2011 was horrendous, everything happens for a reason, and we surely got through it, with blessings that have abounded. Our faith in God has been renewed, and we have felt Him the entire way, holding us, cradling us, helping us to cry, then brushing us off and sending us on our way to conquer. During the year, also, my hormonal system took a huge hit, and my libido plummeted, so, though we knew we wanted to try for another baby, that seemed impossible. I went on hormone treatment, then we were told we were going to Alaska. ALASKA?! Seriously, this cannot be right! We were less than thrilled with this revelation. So our timeline to try for a baby was scrunched, and the hormones I’d chosen to take were stopped early. We tried in October with no success, but in November, we got another BFP (Big Fat Positive). He left in late November for Alaska without us, because we thought he would be deploying.

Fast forward. He did not deploy, and we came to Alaska. What an amazing place, but that is not what this post is about. We are finally at a place where I can talk about this second baby that we are expecting. We are elated, ecstatic, overjoyed, anxious, to meet our new baby. And in all of this, so much emotion has come out as we wait for the arrival, (we are currently at 38 plus weeks gestation) and most of it is stuff I thought I had dealt with, like our loss last year, my feelings toward the birth of Sydney. Not so.

I began to realize this, shortly after we hired our doula extraordinaire, Stella, and she sat humbly on our living room floor for our first prenatal visit, with her soft voice asking questions. We got to the subject of Sydney’s birth, and I found my face becoming hot with sadness and anger. I didn’t cry, but I surely wanted to. I confronted the fact that I had scared myself into not wanting an epidural, and rather than seeing it as a tool, that when appropriately used, can be useful, I viewed it as a weapon against my body, my baby, and me. And I worked through some other things about Sydney’s birth after Stella left. The other thing that I had swept under my emotional rug, was our loss last year. When I would tell that story, it would be told chronologically, with sterility and non-emotion, as if I were reading a script, or telling someone else’s story. But when I talked to Stella about it, it was MY story, and it was not told chronologically, and it was not emotionless. I cried, for the first time, really, since it happened. And the whole time, I had my husband next to me, not trying to fix anything, just being my ever present rock. Have I said how truly thankful I am for him? Words cannot even encompass that, not possible. So on I go.

What I have come to realize, in all of this, and what may or may not be conveyed in this lengthy blog post, and if you’ve come to this point and stuck with me, is that there is so much in the way, or can be in the way of just letting go and allowing things to happen. In my case, this past week, it has been labor. I am realizing, that there is a lot of stuff in the way of my stepping aside and allowing labor to start and continue. This post, is about me stepping out the the way of myself, allowing what needs to happen, to happen, and going with it. It’s about answering questions within myself that I had not confronted, and putting myself through self-therapy, and trusting that my body and baby know just what to do, and at the appropriate time. This process, getting to baby #2 for us, has been a lengthy one, and that’s why I told the whole story. The whole story must be told, in order to know how one got to where she is in a journey.

With this being said, I would like to share some of my observations, anxieties, and affirmations during this pregnancy.

We have learned so much about this baby in the short time that we have known him/her. Baby August is extremely social and curious, he/she responds quickly to anyone who speaks or puts their hand on my belly. Sydney was very cautious, and would only respond to my husband and me. Baby August is a mover and a shaker, always moving, always determined, always present. I knew this since week 10 when I was in a restaurant, and felt as if the baby was moving furniture in my uterus. Strong. Sydney has become the number one fan of our baby. She loves to snuggle with the baby at night, give hugs and kisses, sing to, and talk to him/her. Her curiosity is wonderful, and her patience is unending (it must feel like an eternity, waiting for a baby whose arrival no one can predict). I’ve noticed that in this pregnancy, I move much slower than I did with Sydney, mainly turtle speed is tops for me, so I seem to be late to everything, including vacation last weekend.

I find that I am anxious about having another baby, which I think is normal, but my anxiety stems from not wanting Sydney to be brushed aside. I was an only child, and she has been for 5 years now. I want our time as a family of 4 to be shared, not strained, and for no one to feel excluded. I want for her to know that both of our children were born and created out of love, and very much wanted. We have made it a point, as such, to include her in everything baby, and to assure that she has days that are about her. In this anxiety, though, I am overjoyed and SO excited for her to be a big sister. She is so proud that she gets to assume this role, and I am proud of her for entering this status so gracefully.

One of the things that has gotten me through challenging days in Sydney’s and Baby August’s pregnancies has been the presence of affirmations and the knowledge that my mind can create a positive framework for how my pregnancy progresses, day by day, sometimes minute by minute. Allow me to share a few affirmations that have gotten me through:

Early pregnancy (morning sickness riddled)

  • My body is creating a strong, healthy baby
  • My body is strong
  • This is a perfect design
  • I am meant for this
  • I ask for help when appropriate

Mid Pregnancy (moving to Alaska and on)

  •  Patience is my friend
  • I trust my body
  • I transition with ease to our new life
  • I guide Sydney gently in our new place

Late Pregnancy (Awaiting labor)

  •  My body is designed to give birth in the appropriate time
  • I go with the flow of pregnancy
  • I approach labor with patience
  • I ask for help when appropriate
  • I am patient with my body, my emotions, myself
  • My baby is growing to a perfect size for my body
  • I go into labor with no obstacles (this one is huge right now)
  • I step aside and allow things to happen

I do thank you so much for coming with me on this long journey. Thank you so much for your support, prayers, and positive energy.

Comments Welcome, as always!

Convenience in Parenting

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If I mention Attachment Parenting, it conjures many images, doesn’t it?  It also brings up some stigma, some judgment, and some distaste for some.  But many others who practice this method of parenting find great comfort in it.  I think that many people don’t think that this form of parenting has a place in our modern society, and see many other things as far more superior and convenient than holding, wearing, breastfeeding, co-sleeping with their baby, and for those families, that’s all well and good.  I would like to argue, though, that Attachment Parenting is not weird, and it does indeed have a place in our modern world. Sure, there are times when strollers and baby swings do offer those of us who parent attached some convenience, but allow me to offer some scenarios, and you may judge for yourself which sounds more convenient, easier, less stressful, and possibly more cost effective.  I think that most people who parent like I do, do so because it is cheaper, easier, much more convenient, and just fits with our lifestyles.

Scenario  - Attachment Parenting

It’s 4:30 am, and this is the 4th time since 11pm that you’re awake with your newborn, you’ve been awakened by gentle stirring and squeaks from her, indicating that she’s hungry.  You co-sleep and breastfeed, so you move your baby slightly to latch her on, and both of you are happy, as you drift off to sleep.  At 7, you both wake up, and get ready to face the day.  After diapering, you carry her to the kitchen to fix breakfast for your older child.  Before you fix breakfast, you put the baby in a woven wrap, latch her on as you go about your routine in the morning.  You are able to help your older child with many things, with the baby in the wrap, and your baby even falls asleep to the gentle movements and sounds of your body, which are so familiar to her.  After breakfast, you go to bathe, and take a bath with your new baby and older child.  After nursing again before leaving the house, you’re off to do errands.  During the errands, you push the shopping cart with your older child in it, and wear your baby, this time in a soft structured carrier, with legs froggied.  Baby sleeps most of the time, and only wakes to be changed, and nursed, but then goes right back to sleep.  After errands, you return home, and fix a little lunch, again, wearing your baby, then go with your children to take a nap, all together in one bed.  You nurse your newborn to sleep, and sing to your older child.  You all three fall asleep after a short period of time, and wake refreshed.  This scenario could continue, but you get the gist of what attachment parenting looks like.  Sure, there is some chaos in the lives of parents who attachment parent, but for the most part, many of the parents that parent this way have easier, more cooperative, go with the flow children that feel very loved, protected, nurtured, and often know how to express their needs more clearly since their needs have been met in the ways they have.

Scenario – Non-Attachment Parenting

It’s 4:30 am, and this is the 4th time since 11pm that you’re awake with your newborn.  You hear her on the monitor, from her room, grunting, indicating that she’s hungry.  You walk bleary eyed to the kitchen to make a bottle, and by the time you return to your baby, she is screaming in hunger.  You pick her up, sit in the rocking chair, and struggle to stay awake as you feed her.  When she has finished her bottle, you burp her, change her diaper, and set her back in her crib.  After you leave, she cries a bit, because she doesn’t smell or hear you any longer, and you are so tired that you go back to bed, letting her cry herself to sleep.  At 7am, you’re awakened again, by your grunting hungry newborn.  You get up, make her bottle, and get her up as well.  While you make breakfast for your older child, you put your baby in a bouncer with bottle propped up, so you can tend to what needs to be done in the kitchen.  As you play with your older child, and help her with things that she wants to do, you transfer your newborn to her swing, and are interrupted by your crying newborn who wants to be held by you.  You hold her, but are very busy with your older child, and the things you’re doing with your older child require two hands, and so your newborn is put back in the swing.  After another bottle feeding, you go to take a shower, and put your baby in the bouncer in the bathroom with you, and she cries through the entire shower.  You get yourself and your children ready and go do some errands.  You put your baby’s infant carrier in the large part of the shopping cart, and your older child in the front of the cart.  Your baby cries in the carrier because she is uncomfortable and hot, and wants to be held by you.  Your errands are cut short, because you grow tired of hearing your baby cry so much.  You return home, feed your older child lunch, hold your baby to feed her a bottle, and barely eat anything out of sheer exhaustion.  You then go to put your children down for a nap, but your older child fights you, because it’s still daylight and she doesn’t want to go to sleep in her room, she wants to play instead.  This ends in crying, a spanking, very much frustration, and a stressed out mama.  The baby senses the stress and doesn’t want to go to sleep either.  It takes 45 minutes to get the baby to sleep, and you’re not even sure if your older child gets a nap.  Again, this scenario could continue through the day.  Just typing it makes me exhausted.  I speak from my own earlier experiences when I say that this form of parenting did not work for us. My husband and I have had to learn the hard way, with much trial and error, what works best for our family.

When Sydney was born, nearly 5 years ago, we really and truly were clueless, with very little physical support system.  I attempted co-sleeping, since breastfeeding was the one thing I was really attached to, but I didn’t understand that I could stay in bed and nurse her to sleep, so I would get out of bed, and sit in a rocking chair for exhausting amounts of time, with both of us falling asleep, and nothing productive happening.  I was sleep deprived, anxious, and suffered from postpartum depression, which I’m sure could have been made better with more sleep and better support.  We stopped co-sleeping very early.

We tried baby wearing, but the ring sling I had, I never knew how to use, so I got rid of that quickly. I had no knowledge of other carriers (soft structured carriers, woven wraps, stretchy wraps, mei tais, etc).  Sydney spent a lot of time in a swing (which she hated) or in a bouncer (which she also hated).  It didn’t occur to me at all that we needed each other.  There is a special bond between mother and baby, where oxytocin and endorphins are exchanged when they are in physical contact with each other.

As Sydney grew older, parenting went well, but then frustrations mounted as she was becoming her own person, with her own thoughts, and could do more for herself.  We employed spanking as a form of discipline, out of sheer frustration.  I wish I could take that all back.  I wish I had never laid a hand on her.  Spanking is proven, through years and years and years of research to cause very real psychological damage to children.  Never have I felt like a bigger pile of crap, than when I was hitting my helpless daughter, and never have I seen a child change so quickly for the bad.  Her personality changed, and she was no longer my sweet little girl who was full of life.  We eventually got a clue and stopped spanking her, and our cheerful, wonderful, spunky, beautiful light of a daughter returned to us, but I do believe she is still learning to trust us again.

When Sydney was 2 and a half, we returned to baby wearing on a trip to California to visit family. We got an Ergo carrier as a gift, and still have it, and use it often.  Wearing Sydney has not only been very convenient for us, but it’s increased our bond as a family.  She loves being close to us, and we know and understand that now, and so many times throughout the day, she’s with us, physically… attached.  We love it, all three of us.

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Additionally, in November, when Jeremy came up to Alaska, Sydney and I started co-sleeping again, simply out of convenience, and I felt safer with her in the room with me.  She has grown to love this, and bedtime, which was once a challenge, and sometimes, even a battle, has gotten much easier.  We have a king sized bed, and she sleeps in between us.  I love co-sleeping.  I get to hear her, in the middle of the night say things like, “gorilla shoes”, and answer her bad dreams immediately.  It is obvious that she feels very safe in our bed, and very much wanted by us.  I wasn’t sure if my husband would respond positively to having a 4 year old in bed with us, but on one night when she decided to start out in her own room, as we went to get her, my husband was giddy to have her join us.  We will be adding a new baby soon to our family, and he/she will also sleep with us.  I now know that I can stay in bed to nurse, which is such a blessing.

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The transition from our parenting days in the beginning until now has been sometimes slow and challenging to go with.  But the results, ah, the results.  Wow.  What a difference.  Not only has it made a huge difference with Sydney, but our family is so much more tightly knit.  Sydney, who was always really intelligent, has grown so much more intelligent.  Our trust toward each other has increased so much.  We all sleep so much better.  Sydney knows that if she needs something, she can depend on us to meet her needs.

We are learning daily how to be better parents.  But there are some things that we definitely stand for and stand by.  Our family is so important to us, and nurturing it into the best family we can is very important to us.  We make every effort to research what is best, psychologically, physically, emotionally for our children.  This is how we have come to Attachment Parenting (which we simply call parenting), because all of these fit well in our lives, work well for us, and are founded in well researched practices. What we have found to be the best things for us may not be for you, and we have come to them through a lot of trial and error.  If you’re having trouble or challenges with some of your methods, it’s never too late to try other methods, we are prime examples of that.  I’m thankful everyday that we parent the way we do now.  My personal stress levels are so much lower, and I feel as if my communication with my uber intelligent daughter is so much better and effective.

Comments Welcome, Please.

Holy Baby Preparation Batman!

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I’m not sure how it was for you when you were pregnant for the second (or third, fourth, fifth, etc) time, but this pregnancy is so completely different from Sydney’s.  Both started out much the same, with epic morning sickness that was diagnosed as hyperemesis.  I lost 13 pounds with Sydney, and 9 pounds with this baby.  At 16 weeks, I was finally able to start eating, and suddenly, I started to show!  It was a miracle.  I’m carrying so much differently too, with Sydney, I gained weight everywhere, but with this baby, I’ve lost body fat that has all redistributed as a beautiful bowling bowl sort of thing out in front.  I have less hair growth, much more mole growth, and my hair has not gotten as thick as it did with Sydney.  This baby is also very active, so much more so than Sydney ever was!!!  I wish I could have gotten accurate video of what was happening last night, because it looked as if the baby was going to leap out of my skin.  Oh, and Braxton Hicks contractions!!!! Whoa, I started having those last week, and today, I took a walk with Sydney as she rode her bike in the beautiful Alaska weather, and was ever so happy to get home to sit down!  And the nesting.  Wow!  I never nested with Sydney, and when I say never, I do mean NEVER.  My house was a wreck all the time, but tonight, after having Sydney clean her room, I was greatly inspired, I guess.  I came back downstairs, and started doing the dishes, started the dishwasher, cleaned the litter box (with gloves on), swept the floors, and did some laundry earlier today.  A week and a half ago, I was doing baby laundry, to include diapers.  I even got the baby’s room organized, even though he/she will not be sleeping in that room, and put everything away.  Strangely enough, I never got around to putting the diapers away, so they sit in the middle of the floor, waiting to be folded and put away.  That might be my next task, after finishing this blog post up.

I’m sure you noticed above that I said he/she.  We are not finding out the sex, which some people find absolutely shocking, as if we have 3 legs a piece.  We didn’t find out what sex Sydney was when she was in the womb, and were not stressed or crazy in the least in preparation for her.  I do, however, believe that we prepared very poorly for her.  I say this, because we thought we needed EVERY baby item/gadget that existed, and ended up spending possibly thousands more than was necessary.  We ended up giving a lot of stuff away.  For me, this time, this pregnancy has been a breeze for preparation.  We decided from the beginning that we would be co-sleeping, so that eliminates the need for many things:  painted nursery, crib, crib bedding, nursery decoration, etc. Figuring out what to do with our precious almost 5 year old daughter, though, will be the challenge.  She is co-sleeping currently between my husband and me, which we both love.  We shall see, and I’m sure I’ll be blogging about this after the baby comes.

We will also be breastfeeding (and when I say we, I don’t mean my husband and me, because he’s not in the market for making milk), which means that we can save money there, because we will reuse our breast pump from Sydney, and we have been given some bottles, which is awesome, and my friend is sending me a bunch of stuff.  All that I’ve really done to prepare for breastfeeding is getting some awesome reusable breast pads that feel like luxury on the boob, SO SOFT.

Oh, and something I’m so excited about, speaking of luxury.  We are using cloth diapers!  We are starting with prefolds with Snappis and covers for the newborn stage, and have a small number of other types of diapers, All In Ones, Pockets, Fitteds, etc for other stages.  Some of the diapers we have are so soft that I’m almost jealous the baby gets to wear them, and not me!  I did make a joke, one day, to my friend Malia, who owns a totally awesome diaper store in Fayetteville, NC, that I was going to make my kids cloth diaper me when I am old and can no longer make it to the bathroom on my own.  I don’t know if they’ll go for it.  Baby butts are so cute, and old lady butts, well… they just aren’t.  I digress, cloth diapers are awesome.  I think I’m more excited about using cloth diapers than almost anything, well, except for the actual birth and breastfeeding.  Ok, I lie, I’m excited about it all!

So you’re curious now, perhaps, about the birth we are planning and preparing for.  Being in Alaska, we are so blessed to be confronted with how normal birth is.  There are birth centers, midwives, doulas, and home births everywhere.  When we were in NC, we were planning and preparing for a home birth with Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM), Donna Galati of Monarch Midwifery.  I loved Donna.  She was a hard ass at times, which I know I needed, but I know that she truly cared about me and my baby.  She was a huge stickler for nutrition, which is so important.  Donna is amazing!  Love her.  So you can imagine that our move to Alaska caused some anxiety in me, as I faced finding where and with whom to give birth.  I did my research before moving to Alaska, though, and found a birth center in Anchorage with 5 midwives.  I’m thrilled to have found them, and I really am excited about my upcoming birth with them.  I plan on birthing with very little interference, unless absolutely necessary.  I am excited to embark on this journey with my husband, daughter and mother in law at my side, supporting me through labor and birth.  I look forward to laboring in as many positions as possible, using a rebozo to hang, dangle, sway, etc, and possibly giving birth in water.  I am not completely set on this, because I never know how I’ll feel when it comes time to give birth, I may want to give birth on land.  I am just excited to give birth in a manner that is different than when I gave birth to Sydney.

I am sure that as I get closer to giving birth, the nesting will continue.  I am sometimes surprised by how quickly nesting mode sets in.  There are times when nothing else will do, but what is in my head to do at that time.

I would love to hear your stories of nesting, or how you prepared for your births.  Comments welcome!  Have a lovely day!

The Truth?

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Yesterday, as excited as I was to know that a news crew had gone to my former midwife’s practice, Monarch Midwifery, in Fayetteville, NC to do a story, I knew it would somehow be skewed.  And maybe this is based on the information that has been received, because really, not much seems clear about this story right now. And, really and truly, the families who are losing their rights to birth at home with a highly trained Certified Nurse Midwife, and the Midwives themselves deserve very clear answers, and NOW.

The news interviewed two of Monarch Midwifery’s expectant moms, one of which is 41 weeks pregnant.  These women, along with many others (myself included before I moved to Alaska), have planned, paid for, and anticipated their upcoming home births with joy and elation.  These moms and their families most likely do not feel the anxiety and fear of birthing with someone they may not know or trust.  The relationship with their midwife, Donna Galati, CNM, runs very deep, much deeper than most relationships with other care providers.  And what they are now faced with is great uncertainty and that very anxiety I speak of, except now, these women do not KNOW who their providers are, and will have very little time to build any relationship with him/her.  These women are being forced to birth in a place not of their choosing.

The news also reported that Dr. Dorn in High Point, NC, the physician that signed the licenses of 7 midwives in Eastern North Carolina, has not been asked to stop doing so by the North Carolina Board of Medicine.  Yet Dr. Dorn has sent emails and contacted the midwives whose licenses he signed stating that he no longer can do so, per the Board of Medicine’s mandate.  None of what the Board of Medicine has allegedly said has been found to be a new regulation or law, and has yet to be seen in writing.  There are so many questions right now.  Who is telling the truth?  Could the midwives still attend the births of their expectant mothers if this is not in writing?  What does this mean for the future of home birth in NC?  What does this mean for human rights?  When will the full truth come out about this?  These are all questions that I don’t know the answers to, unfortunately.  And I’m not sure that many do.  I do know, though, that many midwives and the families they serve are left scrambling, looking for care elsewhere until this matter is resolved.

It is a sad time, knowing that so many families are affected.  So many mothers will give birth in situations and places they had not planned for.  My opinion of the media is that they often report the surface of what is going on, and it is not until very pointed questions are asked, do they dig for the answers that need to be given.  In this case, the public receiving the information should be demanding answers, from the Board of Medicine and Dr. Dorn about what is really happening in this situation.  Until then, this story is strongly skewed in a way that can cause one side to look as if it is being dishonest, and in truth, someone is being dishonest.  We, as consumers of the services we need, must be the ones to demand those answers.

Comments Welcome.

Sad Day for Midwifery in NC… Video

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This video was just posted on ABC11 News website not long ago.  There is conflicting information, and I do know that many people, including CNM Donna Galati and her awesome team of home birthing mothers are working so hard to get things done.  There are so many people affected by this, so please do what you can, by referring to my previous blog post, in order to help.

ABC 11 News Link

Comments welcome.

A Sad Day for Home Birth and Human Rights

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My heart cries as I write this.  Today, in North Carolina, (which is a state where only Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs) are legally allowed to attend home births) the right for some CNMs to attend home births has been revoked.  The Board of Medicine has deemed that one physician in eastern North Carolina that was signing the licenses of CNMs, can no longer do so.  This is a sad day, because families (not just women), should have the right to choose where and with whom they give birth.  With this determination by the Board of Medicine, many families are left without legal care providers to attend their births.  The births that these families have envisioned and planned for, are now being encroached upon by a governing board that should have no right to revoke such a right of these families without just cause (evidence based reasons).  Home birth is a safe and viable option for low risk women, and CNMs are highly trained birth professionals who have the right to practice.  This affects many people.

While this issue may not be near and dear to your heart, as it is to mine, I would like to request that you, as my blog followers, and those who may be new to my blog, take some form of action.  I will post several suggestions of what can be done, along with a petition that I have signed.  Please at least sign and share the petition.

Petition (Please sign and share):  http://www.change.org/petitions/north-carolina-medical-board-allow-physicians-to-continue-supervising-homebirth-cnms-in-nc

Several points of contacts can be made:

Business of Being Born (BOBB)

lynn@mybestbirth.com

North Carolina Board of Medicine

1203 Front St.

Raleigh, NC 27609

Telephone: (919) 326.1100 or (919) 326.1109 | Free Long Distance: (800) 253.9653

Licensing Department:  Joy Cooke, Director (Contact web address follows)

Public Affairs Department:  Jean Fisher Brinkley, Director (Contact web address follows)

http://www.ncmedboard.org/contact_us/department/

WRAL News:  http://www.wral.com/apps/feedback/feedback/?d_id_person=207

NC Governor Bev Purdue

Office of the Governor
Constituent Services Office
116 West Jones Street
Raleigh, North Carolina 27603
Phone: (800) 662-7952 or (919) 733-2391
Fax: (919) 733-2120
governor.office@nc.gov

Senator Richard Burr:

217 RUSSELL SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510
(202) 224-3154

http://www.burr.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Contact.ContactForm

Senator Kay Hagan:

521 DIRKSEN SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510
(202) 224-6342

http://www.hagan.senate.gov/contact/

Contacting national news agencies to make them aware of what is going on in North Carolina’s families in the way of limiting their rights to choose where and with whom they give birth, is another great option.  The idea here is the put the pressure on the North Carolina Board of Medicine to re-evaluate their decision, and to consult evidence based research and data concerning the safety of home births attended by CNMs.

I thank you in advance for your help.  Any other suggestions may be posted in a comment.