Sunday, September 7, 2014

Love and Lactation

This is the start of this breastfeeding jouney...

The first days of life following a birth can be nothing short of wonderful as you get to know your new baby. This is pretty much how it went for us. We were surounded by so much love and support. People just opening their hearts and hands to our family while I had the chance to rest and love on my sweet baby. I was able to just enjoy the peaceful beginnings of this new life. It wasn't until we were about 5 or more days into it that I realized things might not be going as smoothly as I had hoped.

Sometimes the act of breastfeeding your child is pure bliss. It's beautiful, peaceful, and full of love in such a pure form...Sometimes.

Sometimes breastfeeding is tearful, painful, scary, disappointing, and stressful. Sometimes, instead of feeling more of that wonderful and powerful love hormone, you feel about 1 million other hormones filtering through your body that make you question everything.

If you know me, you know that I a completely obsessed with breastfeeding. I love everything about it. It thrilled me to nurse my children. I miss it when I am not nursing. I believe in women's right to breastfeed anywhere, anytime, any how. I believe in the beauty of it, I admire the capability, I completely cherish the sacred act of it. I cherish it for me and my children, and I cherish it for you and your children. I would love to see each woman experience the joy of breastfeeding. It's not what every woman wants and sometimes it's just not what happens, and I place no judgement on those decisions or circumstances. 

The first time I experienced nursing my child, I was terrified, but determined. My sweet girl was able to figure it out with a little help. It wasn't without complications or frustrations, but without too much delay, we succeeded in having a wonderful year of nursing. She wouldn't take a bottle well, so I pretty much strictly nursed her until she decided she was ready to be independent of me, which was around a year old. This year made me passionate about breastfeeding!

I had my beautiful boy next and that boy came out ready to eat. He nursed for an hour the first time I put him to the breast. He was a champ, he could finish eating in 15 mins by about 3 months. By far, he was my best breastfeeder. However, he wanted to eat All.THE.TIME! I didn't know if we would make it becuase I had both of my babies to take care of. We supplemented some formula to satisfy his hunger when I was desperate, and continued on nursing happily for a year. By the end of the year, I will be honest, I was ready to be done, I had been pregnant or breastfeeding for 4 years roughly and I wanted a glass of wine... Or 3 without fear of putting my baby in danger. So I weaned him. It's the one area I regret. I wish I would have allowed him to show me when he was ready to wean. Regardless, it was a wonderful year of nursing my boy. 

Fast forward another 3 and half years. My sweet 2nd baby boy came into this world so perfectly. He didn't latch right away, I just figured we would have to work at it a bit together. I had some techniques from the first two that I utilized, and for a week I nursed him as best as I could, but it hurt and he nursed for long times. I was sore, engorged and starting to feel sad and sick. I waited through the weekend, and broke down and called the midwife on Monday. I was crying as I spoke to her. She had me get in touch with a lactation consultant. When I called the lactation consultant, I was also crying... That day I think I cried for 4 hours straight.

After speaking to the midwife and lactaction consultant, it seemed that my suspicion was probaby true and part of what was causing so much distress is that I had the beginnings of mastitis. I very much dislike antibiotics, so I was less than pleased to be taking them, but I knew that I needed to get better so that my supply would be better and I could take care of me and my sweet boy.

I thought I knew so much about breastfeeding. After all, I've read many books, blogs, and researched on my own about this beautiful act, and I had nursed two children for a year each. I've wanted to become a Lactation Consiltant for a while, and I knew I had much to learn, but I truly thought I had a good base of knowledge for it and nothing could hinder me from nursing my next child. So, I have been humbled... and given the oppurtunity to learn more and grow. These circumstances have given me even more drive to be able to help others successfully breastfeed. And I hope that my own trials can help me be better at encouraging others who find themselves facing struggling breastfeeding times.

The Lactation Consultant that we contacted came over and evaluated Jude. She noticed some oral issues with Jude. She was not surprised that we were having difficulties. She watched him nurse and noticed he wasn't swallowing properly. By the time he was done, I was so sore. She weighed him and determined he wasn't getting milk really. Again, this was no big surprise since I had mastitis; he simply wasn't able to latch correctly and empty the breast. This meant clogged ducts that weren't getting better and that he was not getting the nutrition he needed. She game me some techniques to follow and we determined a game plan. I was to pump and try to offer the breast but only if it didn't hurt... Which I did. We just couldn't achieve a good latch. So I pumped. She recommended a two hour pumping and feeding schedule to boost my supply. We did this for a few days. Pumping, feeding, washing supplies, taking antibiotics, maybe eating, maybe resting, trying to snuggle my precious one and attempting to be apart of the lives of my family. Unfortunately, even though I knew that I was doing the right thing, a huge part of me wished for that first week where I was able to hold and nurse my baby. After several days, I began to see a big difference in how I felt and my supply. Things were getting better.

I tried everything I was told by my Lactation Consultant and my Midwife. It was also recommended that I take  him to a Chiropractor to see if that would help loosen him up and allow his mouth to work properly and improve his latch. I think it is helping, I know it will continue to improve. I trust this. I now know more and believe even more in this alternative therapy.

Now that my supply is better established, we are working towards breastfeeding naturally. It upsets us both sometimes, and I am trying all the techniques out there. We haven't made a lot of progress, but there have been a few hopeful occurances. He is used to a fast flowing bottle at this point. I don't regret using the bottle becuase it was what we needed to do at the time, but I know that it has contributed to a further delay in breastfeeding. I am thankful that I can feed him my breastmilk, and I value that choice, but I can't wait to hopefully one day ditch the cold machine that is replacing the warmth of my child.  I hope to see that sweet face pull away from my breast with milk running down his cheek and a huge smile on his face as if saying, "Thanks Mom". It feels like I am not a breastfeeding mommy, and it hurts a little, but I am determined to hang on as long as I can and I hold on to the hope that we will succeed.

"Breastfeeding is a mother's gift to herself, her baby and the earth."   Pamela K. Wiggins

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Jude's Birth Story

I began the pregnancy with August 7th as my due date, but an 8 week ultrasound put my due date at August 20th. We evaluated this ultrasound and moved the due date to the 20th. I think I always knew that this was probably the most accurate due date, I just wanted it to be the 7th. So, despite the realistic due date, I still had it in my mind that early August is when we would meet our newest child....I was wrong. The 7th came and went, the 10th came and went, the 13th came and brought my newest precious niece, but not my baby. Meanwhile, I was continuing to grow, not sleeping very well, experiencing signs of labor, but not having a baby.

Since my first two births were medicated hospital births, I was understandably asked if I was nervous. Really, I wasn't nervous about going into labor or even the birth, I was thrilled, excited, and anxious for it to be here. If you had asked me if I was nervous on either of my first two, the answer would have been, Yes! It was different this time. It was exactly what I wanted and needed for me, and it would happen in just the way it was supposed to. The anticipation I felt was almost like the anticipation I felt for my wedding day. What exciting and precious moments make up our lives. I didn't see it as a hurdle to endure before I could meet my little one. I saw it as a blessed experience that I got to have in unison with only my child and together, by His grace, a child would be born.  I had told Josh over and over, that while no one loves pain, I didn't necessarily want a super fast birth; it was a special day and I wanted it to be what it would be. It was a life changing day, I wanted to cherish the moments.

On August 17, I thought it was possible that my contractions were becoming a bit more regular, but I had hoped the same thing on many days prior only to be met with disappointment as I laid my head on my pillow at night with no baby on the horizon. However, this day seemed different, so I tracked all day long with little change in intensity and little sign of steadiness. Finally, they looked to remain 15 minutes apart towards the evening hours, so we thought it might be a good idea to head home and do some last minute preparations...Just in case. By the time we got home, though, I felt very little activity with my contractions. I had started to feel some back pains, but  I was unfamiliar with this, so I didn't pin it as substantial. We put our littles to bed, and Jacob poked my tummy and gave it a kiss (for the last time). I was beginning to feel disappointed, I showered, turned on the tv and settled into bed, expecting nothing more to happen.

My dear husband reached over to me in bed and told me that he knew I was disappointed, but very soon, we would have a baby, we knew that for sure. I began trying to go to sleep and watch the movie we had turned on, and a few minutes later, about 11:30pm,  I felt a small gush. I was unfamiliar with this feeling becuase my water had never broken on it's own, thus I didn't quite know if it was my water. This same sensation happend about 3 more times before I decided it most likely was my water and I called the midwife. She explained that it could be my water or it could be a couple of other items, so she told me to keep an eye on things and to call her when things got a bit "hotter". I loved her phrasing! I continued to loose my water for 30-40 minutes before anything really happened. Finally my contractions were to the point where I had to start breathing through them. I called the midwife again to let her know that I was sure to be in labor now and I was still loosing water.  She told me to keep her posted on my progress. We weren't sure how long we were looking at and I, myself,  was not prepared for how quickly this would go! Again, being totally honest, here is when my nerves did start to rattle a bit. My mom and my friend had come, we had the aromatherapy going, and we were chatting away lightly. Josh had turned Friends on both the TV sets becuase this helped distract me. I would pause and focus through a contraction.

My goal in each contraction was not to fight the contraction. I focused on leaving my throat and mouth open and tried not to tighten any part of my body. I knew that, while contraction=pain, contraction also =dialation if you allow your body to be open to what was happening. That was what I thought about during each pain. At first the chatting was nice and probably beneficial, but then the birthing ball was helpful. After the birthing ball, standing and leaning on furniture was helpful.

During all of this, we had downloaded an app to help track the contractions, so Josh was monitoring each contraction and updating me on what stage of labor it seemed I was in. About 1:30 or 1:40, when we started noticing that there wasn't more than about 2 minutes or so between contractions, it was clear that the midwife needed to be called, and probably, we should have already called her. She was 30 minutes out. For a fleeting moment, I thought, I hope she makes it, but I let go of that and trusted she would. I decided sitting in the bathroom seemed like a good plan, so I did this, and then I could not get up. I had them draw me a warm bath with aromatherapy oils, and it seemed like a very nice idea, but I didn't have time in between to get into the bath. Finally, I felt that I had a few seconds and I rushed to the bath. It did feel nicer, but the pain was still very real, getting stronger, and offering me little rest in between. I knew the same I knew earlier, so I still tried to focus on allowing the pain to work to my benefit. I left my belly in as much water as I could and leaned over the side of the tub.

In all of this, my dear husband and wonderful birth partner desired to be exactly what I needed, and he would have done absolutely anything. He was given a very introverted wife when it comes to pain. I don't recieve comfort well, especially in the form of touch. Any touch put my skin on fire, and all I truly needed or wanted was to know he was there, willing, and he was. I know he would have loved to do more for me, but he doesn't understand the depth that his support was to me in that time.
I felt my first urge to push while in the tub, and I considered for just a moment, if having the baby in the bath tub was what I wanted. It really wasn't, but for the time being, I was staying put (I wasn't exactly sure I would be able to get out when I wanted to). While still in the bath tub, I made Josh warm the water several times and I am sure I was a bit high maintenance with my turn it on, now turn it off demands, but agian, my dear husband was a willing and loving partner and did as I asked.

I felt another urge to push during a contraction. I knew the time was very near, but I also knew he wasn't quite to the stage of arrival yet. I could FEEL that. I knew that, all by myself. After this contraction and pushing urge, I thought, I would love to hear the beautiful sound of my midwife's voice. Probably 2 minutes later, I heard the front door open and a new set of voices entered my home. It was my midwife and her assistant. My mind let my body know that she was here and it was ok to finish this. She came in and looked at me and she knew that the baby was coming and soon, so she went to get things ready. She came back in and asked if I wanted to have the baby in the tub or just outside the tub, and I told her I wanted to go back into the room. I have absolutely no idea how, but with the help of my husband and the midwife, I stood up and walked into my bedroom. I remember being asked where in my room I wanted to be and I pointed and things were thrown down onto the floor. I was on my knees leaning onto a chest. Josh knew I needed some hydration and instinctively went to get me water. At first, I thought, I didn't want it, then I realized upon drinking that it was exactly what I needed. He was my rock. He brought a towel to put under my arms. I remember the first contraction back the bedroom... I bit the towel and I pushed. I could tell it was now time. The next contraction I pushed hard, and he was there, but not out, and that pain was powerful and intense, I was crying, and although I had been relatively quite throughout, I now vocalized my pain in a powerful scream through my teeth and my tears. I knew what was coming would be no easy task. About 2:15 am the next contraction came and I pushed hard and could feel that sweet head imerge, yet at the time, it didn't feel sweet. It felt like I was birthing pure fire, I again screamed and cried. I knew it was just the head and there was more work to be done, so without wasting time to wait for another contraction, I pushed as hard as I could to truly and fully bring my precious baby into the world, then the crying changed, what was a cry of pain and strength miliseconds prior was now a cry of nothing that can be put into words, maybe peace, maybe elation... and I wasn't alone. Beneath me in the steady competent hands of my midwife my sweet baby was crying and being placed as close to my shaking body as possible. I tried to pick him up and nuzzle that sweet bloody little angel as best as I could as Josh says, "It's a boy, baby," he choked through the tears. Behind me I sensed my mother crying, also. My dad and my friend waited patiently for the news to be shared after having to hear my cries. Of course we weren't completely done, but we made it over to the bed where I was able to have plenty of skin to skin time waiting to deliver the placenta and for the umbilical cord to fully finish it's job for my baby. After about thirty minutes, it was completely finished and the two of us, blood and all laid together enjoying the love high. My husband remained by my side and stood in the beauty of these moments with us. Anxiously waiting friends and family that had come trickled in to catch a glimpse of the sweet boy. At 4:00am my precious first and second born child joined us in the room to meet their baby brother. Audri was so very exctied and all aglow! Jacob was very uninterested and wanted to go see grandparents, but it was our wonderful family of 5 now and I was so happy.

I realized after he was born that not only was I never checked prior to labor to inform me of any possibly progress towards labor. I was never checked during labor. No one said, "Ok, you are an 8, just a little bit left," no one said, "Ok, you are there and he is crowning, you can push now." It wasn't necessary. Part of me wanted to know before hand, but part of me was excited to not know. As my midwife likes to say, it helped me, "Trust the process, Baby!" As for during the labor, it wasn't really an option, but regardless, my body knew exactly what I was dialted to, and it wasn't really very important for anyone else to be in on that information. My body and my baby knew exactly what to do. It was messy, it was exciting, it was painful, it was moving, it was life changing; I did scream, I did cry, and it was totally imperfectly perfect. It took less than 3 hours of actual labor, and it's 3 hours that will remind me daily of the beauty and awe of life.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Hey Jude

The hubby and I were supposed to leave for Las Vegas the Monday following Thanksgiving for a work/relaxation getaway. My hubby had a work conference and he so kindly offered to bring me along to get away and just relax for a few days. I looked so forward to very simple things on this trip. I couldn't wait to spend alone time with my husband (when he could), be all by myself sometimes, work out without a schedule, in a gym, without a babysitter, nap, take silly amounts of time to bathe and dress, and to eat great food that I didn't cook! I got to do these things, and it was a great trip,  but it did start with a stop by Target to get a pregnancy test because I was about 5 days late, I bought 2. Take one... Negative. So I patiently waited until the last day there and went for take two...also negative. Even though these tests were negative I remained cautious with my activities: no suana, no wine, no sushi! I was getting a little apprehensive that something much less exciting than a baby was lurking. When we got home, I booked an appointment at the OBGyn, they did the typical blood test one day and return for re-test exactly 48 hours later to check my levels. My levels revealed a very early pregnancy, but they wanted a sonogram to check to make sure it was developing in the right way. Finally, complete confirmation that we were pregnant! I explained to my doctor that I would be transferring care to a Midwife, and she was very supportive.

We were now perusing a whole new world, and a completely different way of doing things! I had done a tour of a birthing center when I was expecting Jacob so this place stuck out in my mind. Upon looking into this center and the midwife, I found that they were on the list of in network providers through our insurance. We went to a tour again. I was in love. I felt at home. I absorbed everything around me, the homey atmosphere, the other sweet mothers there to explore this way of doing things, and of course the lovely midwife. There are two midwives at the practice, and both happened to be there, one, just for a moment as she was on call that night. They were both perfect and I was getting very giddy about the whole thing. We had the tour and she used one of the mothers present for a mock birth scenario. I happened to be the one. We giggled through the whole thing, but I felt such a peace because I could see it. I could see myself, not simply lying in bed, but moving from place to place exploring what eased my pain and tension the most. I could see my partner doing what he could for me and loving me through the whole experience, until the moment when our precious one arrived. She asked what we were considering for a boy name, we had just recently settled lightly upon Jude, so she used that. She painted a beautiful picture of how Jude might come into the world, and it felt exactly the way it should be. It sounded perfect when she said that Jude snuggled into my arms nursed perfectly. I went home that night estatic about the road ahead and confident that if we had a boy, his name would be Jude.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Let It Be

There have been some moments in between my pregnancies that called me into a place where I required extreme and, at times, immediate help from doctors. I had two very hard situations, one that could have been life or death. These circumstances also helped me in many ways. I learned a lot about my body and it's ability to fight, restore, and reginerate after losses. I learned that I am strong. Im strong enough to allow my body to work things out when I don't understand. I'm strong enough to do what I believe is right for me despite my pain. Im strong enough to feel pain in my heart and grow from it. I'm strong enough, also, to look at a situation and ask for help because something is wrong. This is a key in my journey to a natural life. I believe in what doctors commit their lives to day in and day out. They save lives, and I understand well that there are times, when you need a person who has gone to school, studied, apprenticed, practiced, learned and successfully applies expertise in the field of medicine. And I will call upon these men and women when or should I say, if, I find myself standing on the edge of fear and desperately need the skill that they posses. Be assured that there are cautions in my mind, but they are simply warning signs posted to help guide me in making sound solid decisions for my family. I do not believe that pregnancy, in its normal state requires a doctor, nor do I believe that labor and delivery, under normal circumstances, require a medical doctor. 

WARNING: I am fully aware that those I love dearly may read this and take offense at my words because they may feel that I question them and the beauty of their experiences. Hear my heart, dear friends, understand that this is me and my goal in this blog is to clearly define where my heart and mind lie and to share with you my excitement for this blessed and exciting event! My goal is not now, nor will it ever be to criticize another's life or choices. 

What I'd really like to share, though, is why I feel so strongly about natural childbirth. Childbirth is defined as: the act or process of giving birth to children. That's just a simple definition of something that is constantly occurig in the world. But are we, as women, giving birth, or is a medical system birthing children. Because for me, while my body allowed a child to be born into the world, I can't help but feel robbed of the innate ability to birth them with my strength and with my body. My reflexes were numbed, my hormones were put at bay, my mind was clouded, and in the end, my body was largely ineffective. So who receives credit? My conclusion would be the doctors. The doctors, while only there for the big show, are the ones who tell me how I'm progressing because I have no clue, they broke my water both times, they tell me when I'm ready to push and how to push and when I can't, they act, they tell me when to stop pushing, they catch the baby, decide when to cut the babies cord, they deliver the placenta and take care of any issues that arise. They are the hero! They are the star of the show really, I just showed up with a precious package to be delivered, but they delivered it and their role much outshines mine. Why? Because I was paralyzed, literally. It's not the doctors fault really, they did what was necessary, and I appreciate that. But again, I wager that a medical system dictates what we should be in control of. And the medical system here in America says that if we take the woman's control out of the picture, it's a safer situation, and a more manageable, wait, what was the term? Oh, yes, "A more Christian" situation. (See previous post, Living the Dream) 

So, for me, natural childbirth is the way that I can achieve the simple definition and truly give birth to my child. 

My picture perfect "Birth" Day looks something like this: I begin laboring, and the excitement is intoxicating. I'm elated to be beginning this process. I call the midwife and she says to give it a bit to make sure things stay steady. They do, and I'm breathing through these easier contractions. We contact her again and let her know. She says she is packing up and headed our way, because yes folks, we are having this party in the comfort of our own home (God willing, of course). We call in reinforcements for my little loves. They don't need to be rushed away, just entertained a bit while I'm otherwise inclined. Family and midwife arrive and things are getting more intense. The hubby is saying all the allowable items and non of the non allowable items (more on this at a later time). Maybe I use the birthing ball, but most likely, knowing me, I am pacing the house and stoping when I must. The midwife suggests that a walk down the street might be helpful (depending on the time). We take our time and walk down the street, taking in the sights and sounds, as I've read these things are quite vivid during labor. We return and the midwife decides to check. I still have a bit to go, but I'm progressing well. Maybe my water breaks around this time (all by itself hopefully). After this things kick up and I am writhing in pain. Maybe I decide to take a shower or sit in my birthing tube. I might shout, "Turn on the Beatles to calm me down!" Josh will reassure the kids that mommy is just fine, and the baby will be here soon! He then reassures me, as I may be shouting that we need to get in the car and go to the hospital for drugs. I may vomit. He will remind me of the beauty and importance of what I am doing and he will remind me that I am strong. I will become more settled because maybe , "Let it Be" comes on. I will get into a place where I make very weird noises, but I accept where I am at and I am having an out of body experience. And then without necessarily having to be checked, I will inform my midwife that it is about time and I think I need to push. (My kids may be out for ice cream at this particular time) I may get into the birthing tub, or I may not. My body will dictate when I begin and I will make my baby come into this world. I may even assist in catching him or her, but the hubby will be the first to shout if it's a boy or a girl! We may wait to cut the cord, and I will nurse immediately. My midwife will assist me in delivering the placenta and preform any necessary procedures. She will stay with us and assist us and make sure that all is well. She will also make sure that Josh has food ready for me very soon after, as this will be of great importance to me! My children and family will join us and we will marvel at this handiwork of God. The baby and I will be high on oxytocin, the love hormone. It will fill the room and intoxicate those around us. 

It's not glorious, the pain is included. The possibility of ridiculousness is included. It's a bit messy and it will, more than likely, not go exactly this way, but it will go something like this, and my body and my baby will determine it. I'm ecstatic to be doing things in this way. And very soon, but not soon enough, I'll be posting the real birth story. 

"And when the night is cloudy, there is still a light that shines on me, shine on until tomorrow, let it be." 
The Beatles, Paul McCartney

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

About a Boy

In contrast to my pregnancy with Audri, Jacob was a surprise! We had just dealt with a pretty trying situation in our family and we were unsure if a second child was a great idea at this time. Yet, right before we left home for a Fourth of July party, I grabbed a little test and took the plunge... Two lines, check, yes, positive, pregnant, go time! Well, ok, let's do this!

He started expressing his personality right away. I like to say he has been giving me a run for my money since conception. While my pregnancy with Audri had some nausea and occasionally I felt pretty poorly, I hardly ever, if ever got sick. With Jacob, I got sick almost every day for a few weeks and continued feeling poorly and getting sick occasionally into my 18th week of pregnancy. While pregnant with Audri I craved steamed veggies and fresh fruit, with Jacob my mouth watered watching Wataburger commercials! While pregnant with Audri, I grew in a manageable way, all around and slightly higher, with Jacob I grew straight out and unmanageably got large very quickly.

Just before I was through my first trimester, I woke up in the night bleeding... A lot. Having some experience in this area, I felt that I knew exactly what this meant, and without too many details, I surrendered to the defeat that we had lost him. Josh, my encouraging and smart husband insisted we call the doctor either way because I was loosing consciousness and he wasn't convinced it was over. The doctor encouraged us to go to the emergency room for multiple reasons, but also gave us a shred of hope that we should keep our heads up until there was confirmation.... We got to the emergency room and waited entirely too long (or so it felt), to get that knowing sonogram...beat, beat, beat, beat,beat... He was there, probably going, "What? I'm not doing anything wrong, I promise!" I couldn't wrap my brain around it, but it was true.

My care during this pregnancy was equally as much of a blessing. I was cared for by a very reputable doctor in the area and to my great luck, she also happened to be full of spirit and love. She made me laugh and lightened every fear I had. She supported my wishes for a birth plan, and encouraged me to do exactly what I felt I needed for this pregnancy. Having grown a little in my knowledge of natural childbirth, I felt this time, I was so much more prepared. I read Dr. Sears' birth book, Josh and I discussed exactly how it would go, what methods we would use and we went over it all thoroughly with my doctor as well. Everyone was on board, and we thought we were prepared to do this. This time, my doctor gave me up to two weeks after my due date before she would make me induce, pending my health. However, by a few days before my due date, I was beyond ready to get the party started. I, again, tried everything, some new items included, such as eating about an entire raw pineapple... Said to soften the cervix. I put Audri in a stroller and didn't just walk a bit, I walked about 3 miles.

Who knows which natural remedy served its purpose, or if it was just time, but the next day I knew something was off.  My tummy was completely weird and crampy all day. I was working on homework mid afternoon that I hadn't completed for a class I had in a few hours, and about 5:00pm my cramps turned stronger and I thought this was it, but I gave it a bit and did some timing. At 5:30, I told Josh he needed to get home because we were going to the hospital. 

We arrived about 6:15pm and we were admitted at 5 centimeters dialated, I was breathing through contractions and told the nurse that I would be having an unmedicated delivery. She actually complimented me on how well I was breathing through my contractions. Yet, around 7:30pm, the nurse came in to inform me that 'just for my information,' the anesthesiologist was headed home for the night and if I didn't take the epideral now, I would not have the option to get it later. She left and I freaked out. What if I got close to the end and the contractions piggy backed again and I wasn't progressing and I had to just lay there in pain all night long with no options.... I surrendered... Again! It was my choice and no one else's, but I did feel backed into a corner. Again, within minutes, he was there with his tiny needles, and within the hour, I was feeling no pain, well nothing really, As I was napping again. I faded in and out, but this time I was awakened by my wonderful doctor coming and asking how I was doing. I was down on myself because I had gone ahead and gotten the epideral. She was unhappy, apparently she had all but yelled at the nurse for even talking with me about an epideral because it was in her notes that I wasn't having one! I felt relieved that she had supported my wishes that much, but immediately I just wished she had been there to advocate for me and remind me not to listen to the nonsense, since obviously the anesthesiologist would be back pronto were we faced with an emergency C-section.... 

My water hadn't broken on its own yet I was continuing to dialate, so my doctor broke my water and we waited a bit longer, but not much...

I braced myself for another hour marathon since I, again, felt nothing. However, it turned out that even though I couldn't feel, my reading and preparations helped me understand more what I needed to do so with all my might I pushed whatever muscles I could control and he was born 15 minutes later, 1 hour and 9 minutes shy of his actual due date! 

He was beautiful, we snuggled for a few minutes, and I was elated to be holding my baby boy. I did not however breastfed right away, yet again. They suggested he have a bath first so he would be more alert, but when they took him, they didn't bring him back right away. His body temperature was too low, and they had to keep him under a warming lamp. Finally, 8 hours after he was born I got to connect with him and nurse him. Despite the time delay, he did very well, and I was much more confident this time around. He had my heart immediately despite the obstacles it took to get him to me, we were a team, and he was my boy! 

I, again, hold this day near and dear to my heart. The memories are vivid and wonderful of how my little man entered the world! After all, I had achieved going into labor on my own and successfully breast feeding, again, both if which contined to be high on my list of birth plan must-haves. Yet, I'd be lying not to say I was disappointed. I felt that I had let myself down, I knew I could do it, and I had prepared well, but I had once again let myself be persuaded by those who find it normal and preferable to have a laboring woman still and quite... 

My education from this birth was quite simple: If God granted me a next time, I would be delivering outside of the hospital walls, barring emergency, of course. How could I go on continuing to expect a place that simply accepts natural childbirth to soothe and woo me into my birth dream. I need a place and people that go beyond acceptance, a place that encourages it, people that advocate it, and a community who believe in it. 
"If you can't be a hero, you can at least be funny while being a chicken." 
Ina May Gaskin, world renowned midwife

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Living The Dream

At the ripe age of 18, I exchanged vows with my darling. We lived off of love, quite literally, for a while, working part time and going to college. After 5 months of marriage we adopted a puppy, Jazzy, and a kitten, Boomer, to tide my inner desire to start a family. But by that time the following year, I had him convinced! 
I had a beautiful pregnancy. I was cared for by a wonderful obstetrician in Oklahoma. She reminded me of my mom: calm, comforting, strong, intelligent and kind. She was a blessing to me in many ways and I respected her because she was a great doctor, but she was very cautious and, understandably, very medical in her thinking. At the time, I didn't know much about natural birth, but I did know, I wanted a largely unmedicated birth. I made a birth plan, but I was told that at the end of the day, the priority was to deliver a healthy baby no matter what that meant. I wanted to go into labor naturally, have an unmedicated vaginal delivery, and breast feed immidiately. Simple. Well at 39 weeks I was told that, because of my "small frame" (it's ok to laugh here, God gave me fantastic birthing hips) she wasn't comfortable waiting more than a week after my due date and 2 days after my due date seemed like a good date to schedule an induction... Part of me was naively excited because I knew I'd meet my daughter that day for sure, but part of me wanted so desperately to go into labor on my own, so I tried all I could to make it happen, but I failed. 

So, early in the morning on February 21, 2008, we arrived at the hospital and began a Pitocin drip.... 

Nothing happened for what seemed like forever, I visited with family and friends, had a few contractions, took a cat nap, then the doctor came in to check and decided to break my water... 

About 30 mins later, it hit me and all at once. My contractions were intense and one after the other leaving little time in between to do anything other than hold the bed rail and writhe while my dear husband paced and internally battled his impulse to stop my pain and also to support my wishes of no medicine. 

The labor and deliver nurse was awesome, she was supportive and knowledgeable, but she offered me the epideral several times. I turned it down probably 2 or 3 times. Finally she convinced the anesthesiologist to come chat with me about an epideral. 

He came and spent 15 minutes softening my spirit to an epideral, and finally breaking my will with the simple phrase, "if you get an epideral, it will be a much more Christain experience." He meant it lightly, maybe even jokingly. Yet still, this hit me right in the heart because I was afraid. I was afraid to yell, I was afraid to scream, I was afraid to show anger and pain, to be rude to my husband, and, forbid it, to curse out loud and be the woman you hear about loosing her mind on everyone around her. 

Almost right away they came and put that teeny tiny needle (if you haven't done this before, I am using a touch of sarcasm here) into my spine. They asked me to not move during a very intense contraction while they stuck me. This was probably the most physically challenging thing I've ever done. 

Within minutes, I felt a flood of relief from the pain, and I could sense the loved ones around me breathing easier and relaxing some. I laid down, turned the lights down and tried to watch The Notebook, but fell asleep for my second nap. 

About an hour later, I was awakened by, "You're a ten, it's time to push," 


I was assured that even with an epideral, I would be able to feel enough to push. I felt nothing.... The doctor said to bare down and with all my might I exerted my energy and strained my body blindly for an hour. Finally, she came into this world and changed everything about life. 

After all the routine checks and procedures, including a bath for Audri, I breastfed. It was tricky for a while, but we finally got it. And it was bliss (most of the time)! 

I love my memories from my daughter's birth, and I do not regret a second of it because it is a part of who I am and who Audri is. It's our story. We were surrounded by doctors and nurses that were wonderful and cared for us well. In addition, we couldn't have had more love and support from all the amazing family and friends that held our hands and walked us through our first days of parenthood. All in all, it was beautiful. However, I learned from this experience, I grew from it. I learned that for me to have a natural birth, I needed more prep and practice. It would take more than just wanting it, I would really need to prepare myself and my partner. Also, I learned that I had nothing to be afraid of. One, if I prepared my body, my mind, my spirit, my partner, and my family, I could do it, and most likely I would not be the outrageous woman that I and many others had in their mind. Two, if I am, I am, it's a part of birthing and at the end of the day, I am just not scared of how I may or may not act because I believe in who I am, I believe in the body I was given and the ability to do what I know I can do. 

This is the story of my Audri, my dream come true, and how she entered our world. 

"And though she be but little, She is fierce." -Shakespeare 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Lend Me Your Ear

Pregnancy to me is a love song of life. My body is currently singing.

I am roughly 21 and a half weeks. This is my third pregnancy. My wonderful husband, Josh and I have two precious children.
 When I was little,and people would ask me what I want to be when I grow up, I would say that I wanted to be a wife and a mother. I am quite happily those things, as well as, a preschool teacher, among the many exciting roles it takes to walk in my shoes.
When Josh and I got married I would tell people that we wanted 6 kids. As God forms my next precious one, I can tell you that I look around at the laundry piles, the dishes needing care, the family medical bills, the house size, car size, the number of hours in a day and the amount of hands I have and greatly wonder whether that was a good number to start with... Non the less, God grants me eternity and invisible loving, guiding hands and I feel at peace with not knowing what the future holds. Right now, we are beyond thrilled to grow our family from a rounded family of four to a perfectly unrounded family of five.
In more recent years I have developed an intense passion for nature, health, and simplicity. Thus my supportive and loving husband was not shocked when I told him that I wanted to use a midwife for this pregnancy. This was followed by a shocking number of naturalistic "bombs" that May or may not have been expected, but were all supported by my loving partner.

I want to share my heart and my experiences in this exciting journey. I will begin my making posts describing my previous pregnancies and what brought me to this place in my next entries.

"Lend me your ear and Ill sing you" MY "song, and I'll try not to sing out of key." - the Beatles, John              Lennon and Paul McCartney