Category Archives: pregnancy

it’s good to be Mama.

I went to get an ultrasound today. It was my first for this pregnancy, and I was a little stressed out about it for some reason. I take that back – the reason is that they told me I had to guzzle down 24 ounces of water 30 minutes before my appointment and then hold it until after the ultrasound. (I really think that could be classified as abuse.) But it turns out that 24 ounces first thing in the morning isn’t too bad (except for when the ultrasound is done and you get up and your baby dances on your extremely full bladder and you think, ohmahgah why do these people hate me so much?). Truly, though, the technician was extremely sweet and she said that everything looked perfect.

I was amazed by how wonderful it felt to see my baby on that screen. I recognized the feeling – it’s something I felt with both my boys – but I guess it surprised me that I’m still in such awe of this process of bringing new life into the world. Those two lines on the pregnancy test, the swelling of my belly, the first kicks, those glimpses of my babies on the ultrasound screen, the incredible process of labor and birth and bonding and those teeny tiny little baby bodies – I love it all and I feel so honored to carry the title of Mama.

Ahh…happy thoughts.

Oh, and since we’re on the subject, here’s a I-don’t-own-a-real-camera photo of me and my belly from a few days ago. I was 20 weeks and 3 days pregnant at the time.

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Filed under on being a mama, photographs, pregnancy

as I jump back on the scene

I’m just going to jump right back in. Yes, I took a 9-month hiatus, but I really don’t have any explanation for it other than telling you I had a severe case of writer’s block. I’m back now!

It’s Monday morning and the sun is shining through the trees in my backyard. I don’t think I can properly express to you how much relief I feel when I see that the trees have leaves. Green leaves. This past winter forced me to hide inside myself and now that green just keeps inviting me outward. It’s quite refreshing.

A couple of days ago, I took some time to adjust some of my post categories and just do general maintenance on my blog. I was surprised by how badly I wanted to delete a bunch of my earlier more embarrassing posts. You know, the ones where I acted like I knew what I was doing. But I was struck by the thought that this blog is sort of like a journal. It’s a bad idea to rip out the pages of the dumb, embarrassing, shallow entries because really, whether we like it or not, those entries are a part of our past and they are a tiny little piece of the greater mosaic our lives have become now. You can’t just remove little bits here and there. So, all the posts remain (except for the ones where I talked about giveaways because those are just annoying).

I’ve been in one of those reflective moods lately. I mean, I usually am, but being pregnant (yes! I’m pregnant – 20 weeks and 4 days along) always makes me think. I love that peaceful stretch of time after the first trimester (and beyond) sickness leaves, but before the third trimester aches and pains come to visit. I love to feel my baby move and to think about when I felt my other two babies move in utero – look at their lovely little lives now! And my life! Look at how each child changes my life. They’ve opened my heart, softened me, and they embody such sweetness. How is it that we grow so hardened as we age? I want to be soft again. Life could be simpler that way, I think.

I’m starting this week by challenging myself to consider every task, every event, every conversation as assignments from God. What would happen if I chose to see things this way? I might stop rushing through the day. I might value every moment instead of classifying parts of my day as either “important” or “unimportant,” don’t you think? This moment with my cup of tea and the sunshine streaming through the windows with the sound of my boys playing happily together in the living room is just as meaningful as when I’m doing dishes, or hanging out with Ryan, or reading books to the boys – because it was assigned to me as part of my day.

I just want to slow down.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

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Filed under on being a mama, pregnancy, tea-timing

Forrest’s Homebirth

My contractions began on Friday night, May 8, around 10:30pm. They weren’t much different my normal braxton-hicks contractions, except that I felt a very slight ache in my lower back. I assumed I wasn’t in early labor, though, because I’d experienced plenty of braxton-hicks-filled nights that produced no results. I didn’t think it wise to decide that these contractions would produce results simply because there was a bit of a backache added into the mix.
After spending some time working on my “39 weeks pregnant” blog post, I realized the contractions were coming quite often and were rather uncomfortable. Still assuming they were false labor contractions, I decided to take a shower because I’d heard that warm water often caused false labor contractions to cease. To my surprise, however, I contracted three times in the shower and continued to do so even after I got out.
Ryan was gone at a band rehearsal and I knew he’d be out late, but I couldn’t seem to fall asleep. I stayed up until around 12:45am or so, and finally realized that, in the off-chance I was in labor, I needed to get my rest. I quickly fell asleep, but unfortunately, I did not rest easily. I woke up several times, and at 3am, when I saw that Ryan still hadn’t come to bed, I went to check if he was home. I met him in the hallway as he was coming back to get ready for bed and explained how my night had gone. I was still experiencing contractions with increasing achiness in my back, although they were easy to talk through. We agreed that we should go to sleep immediately, just in case. Ryan fell asleep as soon as he hit the pillow (of course!), but sleep would not come to me. I occupied myself for a little while, praying and eventually looking up random birth stories online.
Finally, around 5am, I was sick of laying in bed awake. I went out to the kitchen, cut an apple and made some toast with peanut butter, and drank a huge glass of water. I journaled a bit, but felt restless sitting down so I got up and paced the living room and kitchen. It was a very peaceful morning…despite my curiosity about whether or not I was in labor, I felt such calm in my home. I began to pray – for Forrest, for myself and Ryan, for Jack’s transition into being a big brother, for safety during the birth (whenever that would be), and for our home to be full of God’s presence.
Around 7:30am, I noticed that my contractions didn’t feel quite as strong (though mind you, they were never really that strong, just mildly uncomfortable). I laid down on the couch and fell asleep promptly, only to be woken up minutes later by a gorgeous little blue-eyed boy who was ready to start his day. I led him back to our bedroom and wearily explained to Ryan that I was desperate for sleep. Being the sweet husband that he is, πŸ˜‰ he got up and took charge of Jack for me. I started to get this sinking feeling that I wasn’t really in labor since my contractions seemed to be fading, but fell into a deep sleep before I could give it another thought.
At 9:30am, I awoke to my cell phone vibrating. It was my midwife. Still half-asleep, I didn’t answer but waited to see what her voicemail message might be. I found it quite funny that she was calling me after the night I’d had. “Maybe she’d sensed that something was up,” I thought. I listened to her message, and interestingly enough, she’d called to ask how I was doing since she was planning to go to a wedding down by the beach that afternoon. She wanted to make sure I wasn’t in labor – if I was or felt like I might go into labor, she was considering staying local just in case. I called her back immediately, and after filling her in on the details of the night, she said she’d feel most comfortable if I came into the clinic for an exam, just to be sure. She instructed me to eat some scrambled eggs, take a brisk walk, and head over to the clinic by 11am.
As we prepared ourselves to go out, I couldn’t help but feel goofy. I kept thinking to myself, “How can I be in labor? My contractions have practically gone away. I went two whole hours without one contraction! They barely hurt!” I was also concerned that she’d examine me only to find that I hadn’t progressed at all. I really didn’t want to know if that was the case – but what to do? If I WAS in labor, she needed to know. It would be bad if I ended up progressing quickly while she was 45 minutes away on a Saturday.
We arrived at the clinic a bit after 11, and my midwife examined me soon after. And, lo and behold, I was 5 centimeters dilated and fully effaced! I was shocked. I had fully prepared myself for her to say, “Oh, sorry, you haven’t progressed at all!” She decided she wouldn’t go to the wedding, of course, and gave us further instructions on what to do until things got intense. We were told to go home, prepare the birth supplies, do a little light cleaning if we wanted, and eat some lunch. We actually ended up grabbing a light lunch at Corner Bakery, but when we were only halfway done with our food, I wanted to leave. My contractions had picked up and I suddenly felt anxious to get home. I was afraid they might get uncomfortably intense while we were in public and I didn’t want that.
By the time we arrived at home, all I wanted to do was sit on my bed. I quickly set out all the birth supplies and then planted myself on our prepared bed. I’d told my mom that I was officially in labor, and as we prepared, both my mom and my dad came over and my aunt began the trek up from San Diego. Then, my midwife called and said that she felt like I’d progress rather quickly and she’d feel more comfortable if she was there to prepare. Soon after that, she and her two assitants showed up. The house was a buzz of activity but I still didn’t want to get off my bed. It seems strange to me now, because my contractions weren’t crippling at that point, but I felt uncomfortable and tired. I didn’t lay down – I sat indian-style so as to help in Forrest’s descent, but I couldn’t imagine a more comfortable place to be at that point.
My midwife checked me again, although I’m not sure what time it was -maybe 2:30pm or so? She found that I was only 6 centimeters dilated, and Forrest’s head didn’t seem to be pressing down on my cervix very well. She encouraged me to get up (and I reluctantly agreed). Ryan and I went on a walk around the block, and within 20 minutes, I’d experienced at least 12 strong contractions. We came back home and I sat on the floor in the living room with everyone else. It felt kind of awkward – Ryan, my mom, my dad, my aunt, my midwife, two assistants, Jack and myself all just sat there and made conversation. My midwife mentioned that she thought it might be a good idea to break my water if I hadn’t progressed next time she checked me. I wasn’t sure how I felt about this because I really wasn’t interested in manipulating my labor. When she brought it up again after a little while, we went into the kitchen and discussed it further. She explained that when she’d checked me last, Forrest’s head was floating slightly above my cervix and my bag of waters was bulging. She said the fluid between Forrest’s head and my cervix was preventing him from fully descending. She said breaking my water would be good because otherwise, I might stay in early labor for a very, very long time (at least, that is my understanding of her explanation). At that point, the idea of being in labor for such a long time was very unattractive. I felt good about her explanation and trusted that she wouldn’t just break my water for the heck of it, so I agreed to let her if I hadn’t progressed more by the time she examined me again.
As she expected, I was still only about 6 centimeters dilated when the time came. It was just about 5pm when she broke my water, and the intensity of my contractions tripled instantly. I took a warm shower to clean off from the busy day, and Ryan applied counter-pressure during all the contractions I experienced while showering. After the shower, Ryan and I stationed ourselves on the floor at the foot of our bed. I sat indian-style again and rocked myself back and forth through each contraction. I remember saying to Ryan at 5:15pm that I’d really like it if Forrest would make his entrance within an hour. I laughed at myself, assuming it would take much longer than that. Within a few minutes, though, I somehow communicated to Ryan that I thought my midwife should come back to the room (did I actually speak? I’m not sure!). She and the assistants came back, but at that point, my contractions were coming right on top of each other – as in, there was NO break in between. I could barely do anything but rock back and forth, with my eye closed while I hummed/moaned quietly. It was so, so intense, and I honestly hadn’t expected to feel it so quickly. One of the assistants kept askng me questions (“Do you want water? Does this feel good on your back? Would you like to try another position?”), but I couldn’t allow myself to speak because I knew it would break my concentration. One thing I knew: I was terrified to change positions. There was so much pressure and in hindsight, I think I knew that he’d come very quickly if I moved. It was so intense, like I said, and you’d think I would have wanted to do what I could to get him out, but I really was scared. I’m sure I was in the throes of transition at that point.
Within minutes, everyone was insisting that I change positions because I couldn’t very well push him out if I was sitting flat on the floor. I finally agreed and they helped me into a standing position. I put my arms around Ryan’s neck and he supported most of my body weight. I noticed that I was getting a bit of a break between contractions again, and suddenly, WWHHOOAA! Without warning or choice, my body began to push and I let out a loud grunt. It was SO strange – I literally had no control over it whatsoever. My midwife told me I MUST sit down, and I didn’t even know if I could do that. Somehow, I ended up sitting on the floor with Ryan behind me, and again without warning, my whole body heaved and pushed – and Forrest’s head came out! Just as I could feel my body preparing to push again, his little body slithered out into my midwife’s hands. I couldn’t believe it! I was so struck by how small his head was. Truly, as his head was crowning, I thought, “Are you kidding me? That’s IT?” I suppose I forgot how little a newborn head is. πŸ™‚ Ryan and I simply laughed and cried together as my midwife handed Forrest to us. He was perfect from the very beginning – a beautiful, round head, beautiful pink skin and huge eyes. I immediately noticed how much he resembles Ryan -it’s amazing! He began nursing just a couple minutes after he was born and continued to do so for 20 minutes! And, amazingly enough, he was born at 6:02pm on May 9, LESS than an hour after I told Ryan that I hoped he would come within an hour.
We sat together on the floor until he finished nursing. When the cord stopped pulsating, Ryan cut it. My midwife measured and weighed him – 22 inches and 8 pounds, 4 ounces. I put on his little diaper, dressed him in a gown that said “Welcome to the World” in tiny blue stitching, and swaddled him. Ryan took him out to meet the family in the living room, and my midwife mentioned that I had lost very little blood. When Ryan returned, he helped me into the shower and I was amazed that I was actually able to wash my hair and body without his help! I felt SO good – alert and strong and just HAPPY.
When I came out to the living room, Forrest was ready to nurse again. That’s when the afterpains set in – OUCH. In all my reading during this pregnancy, I never once read that I’d experience WORSE afterpains with subsequent pregnancies. I wish someone had told me! I was completely blindsided by the pain. I was hoping to soothe any afterpains with arnica alone, but the pain was too intense. I ended up taking Advil, and although it really only took the edge off, it definitely helped to make the pain more bearable.
We spent the rest of the evening getting acquainted with Forrest, and proceeded to get a lovely (considering we had a newborn) night of sleep!
So, I’m not sure exactly how it should be calculated – light contractions began at 10:30pm the day before, but is that when labor really began? It actually began to FEEL like labor when we were in the restaurant after my midwife examined me. Really, I don’t know how many hours it was. I just know that it exceeded my expectations! I am so grateful that we were able to have such an amazingly uneventful birth at home. I realize that it’s not to be taken lightly, and I feel so blessed by our experience. I highly recommend a homebirth to all healthy, low-risk mamas – there’s nothing like it!

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Filed under birth stories, Forrest, on being a mama, pregnancy

Still Hanging In There

I’m 39 weeks pregnant today. How did that happen?

I don’t have a whole lot to report – my Braxton-Hicks contractions are still coming pretty infrequently and I declined a pelvic exam at my appointment yesterday because I just don’t see what difference it will make. Knowing if there’s “progress” might be nice, but I’m aware that women can go into labor whether they’re dilated or not – so why stress myself out with the whole idea of whether or not I’m “progressing?” I may find out next week, but I didn’t want to bother with it this week. I don’t see the point.

I feel so ready. My midwife said I “look ready.” I don’t know exactly what she means by that, but I hope she’s right! πŸ™‚

I’ve been experiencing this weird feeling of nausea for about a week now. It comes and goes, but I often feel it when I first wake up (sort of reminiscent of morning sickness) and then occasionally throughout the day. I don’t think it’s related to anything obvious, and it comes at all different times in many different situations. Have any of you ever experienced this in late pregnancy?

I’ve heard that many women have babies closer to a full moon. Tomorrow’s a full moon. Any thoughts on that theory? I don’t know what I make of it, really. I didn’t have Jack close to a full moon.

39wks

As far as the labor and birth, some plans have changed. As many of you know, I birthed Jack into the water. I loved that experience. It felt so wonderful to be immersed in warm water, and it really helped me when I could so easily sway through those intense transition contractions. After Jack’s arrival, I decided that there just wasn’t any other way I’d want to birth – water was it. When searching for a midwife this time around, I wanted to be sure she was capable of attending a waterbirth. The midwife I chose is, of course, and I’ve been looking forward to it since the beginning.

Unfortunately, due to some misunderstanding and miscommunication, we’ve now arrived at the end of the pregnancy and we were not aware that we were responsible for purchasing/renting the tub and all the supplies to go along with a birthing pool until only a couple of weeks ago. My midwife did say she’d be happy to let me labor and birth in our bathtub, but after taking a bath in it recently, I realized that I could never get comfortable enough to birth a baby in there. It’s a simple tub with no place to lay my head, and it’s rather small. It just won’t work.

For about a week, I tried to convince myself that there was still a way to have a waterbirth. I researched inexpensive “kiddie pools,” hoses, sink adaptors, etc, but I finally accepted the fact that I couldn’t afford to purchase everything in a reasonable amount of time. In my mind, I’d created this picture of how the house might look while I was laboring. I knew where I wanted the tub to go, I saw where I’d put candles, I’d decided how to best avoid waking Jack if I were to go into labor in the middle of the night…it was all “planned out.”Β 

In the midst of my frantic researching to keep the dream of a waterbirth alive, however, I realized that I needed to let go of any preconceived ideas and just move on. Β Many women don’t labor and birth in the water, and they still have beautiful experiences. I know this is true. I resolved to fully let go of the waterbirth this time around. I prayed that the Lord would help me to excitedly anticipate birthing Forrest in a way completely different from my experience with Jack. Since then, I’ve experienced a new joy as I imagine what it may look like. I’ve worked to make my bedroom as peaceful and clean as possible. I’ve begun to see it as a sort of haven. Although a “dry birth” isn’t what I’d hoped for, I’ll just be happy to birth a healthy baby and I’ll enjoy doing it in the comfort of my own bedroom.

I’d love to hear some of your birth stories. I’m just in that kind of mood! Feel free to share in the comments section, or blog about it on your site (and be sure to let me know you did so). πŸ™‚

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Keeping You In the Loop

This week was a special week. We celebrated our three-year anniversary on Wednesday and were able to take a little vacation for a couple of days. We stayed at a nice, tucked away resort in the desert and enjoyed lots of poolside relaxation. Jack stayed with my parents and did so well. We’ve never left him for longer than overnight, and usually we’d put him to bed and then pick him up early the next morning. It was a bit hard for me to leave him for so long, but he made it through (of course)!

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I woke up to these on Wednesday, along with a sweet card, a hot cup of black coffee, and a Gap giftcard!

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It was really, really hot in the desert. On Thursday, it was about 95 degrees at midday, and we really couldn’t spend much time outside without being in the water. There was a big pool and, even better – a lazy river. We thoroughly enjoyed them both. πŸ™‚

As of Friday, I am officially 38 weeks pregnant. I only made it to 38 weeks and 5 days pregnant with Jack, and of course that makes me feel like I should be having this baby within the next 4 days, but I know it doesn’t always work that way! I’ve really been trying to be patient…some days, I do really well. Other days…well, my emotions get a bit stronger, my aches get a bit more noticeable, and my belly sticks out a little further. Those are not easy days. All in all, however, I know I’ll make it through. The Lord has already chosen Forrest’s birth day, and all I need to do is take care of myself, my family, and my home. He’ll orchestrate the timing.

I’m occasionally tempted to take matters into my own hands. Of course, there are things I’ve done that may or may not help labor to begin, but I have decided against taking any drastic measures because honestly – if it’s not time for him to come, why put myself through the stress? I really want to do this right. I want to enjoy these last days with Jack as my only child, and I want to know that I spent my time resting, not rushing.

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The good thing is – Forrest has to come out. At some point, he will be here. There aren’t any other options! πŸ™‚

I have sort of lost a lot of motivation to do things like cook elaborate meals. Right now, meals like homemade pizza, crockpot chili, lasagna, pasta and marinara, and PB&Js seem doable – but anything else? Sauteing? Roasting? Mixing and chopping and measuring oodles of ingredients? No…I don’t really think so. I’ve decided there are plenty of healthy, simple meals to be made and I better take advantage of them now. I find great joy in creating beautiful meals, but my body can’t keep up. Oh well.

I am so grateful for my husband who has been very helpful with Jack, and has also been very willing to massage my sore feet, back, and legs, make breakfast quite often, run to the store, and even make the bed or help bring in the laundry. Today, he’s helped to clean and organize items to sell on the internet, and he even let me sleep in a few extra hours.

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Filed under my delightful husband, pregnancy, tea-timing

Another Side

There is another side to homebirthing that I wasn’t aware of before: not only do I feel the extreme, undeniable need to clean and organize and prepare for myself, but also because heaven help me if I go into labor while my house is dirty!

I can’t leave crumbs on the floor, even for a little while. What if I go into labor?

I can’t leave a soiled diaper to be sprayed down and added to the wetbag in a few minutes, because what if I go into labor?

My diaper covers need lanolizing. My clean laundry needs to be folded and put away so I can vacuum our bedroom. My tomato plants need to be potted. My bathrooms need to be cleaned. I need to vacuum the living room (although I already did that yesterday. It’s dirty again, okay?)! I need to make more bread. I need to make more granola. I need to scout out some other local farmer’s markets just in case I go into labor and miss our regular market on a Saturday. I need to prepare for the all-day rummage sale scheduled at the church this Saturday! The list just keeps growing.

I’m not stressed, surprisingly. Just…highly aware of what needs to be done. Normally, I’d clean different parts of my house with the plan to clean them again in a week. Right now, I feel like I need to clean them all daily so that I’m up to date if I go into labor. Talk about a crazy pregnant lady!

I’m blogging because I needed to force myself to sit still for a few moments. But I’m still thinking about what I need to do, even as I sip on some red raspberry leaf tea in a little cup (a cup so cute that it makes me smile).

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You didn’t think I’d leave you without a picture, did you??

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For a Cute Little Bum!

I am really looking forward to cloth diapering a newborn. We began to cloth diaper Jack when he was 5 months old, and when I realized how much money we were saving in addition to that strange excitement that came along with it (cloth diaperers, you know what I’m talking about!), I was amazed that I hadn’t heard more about the benefits of cloth diapering from the very beginning.

Forrest is blessed – his first diaper covers arrived in the mail today and I’m thrilled.

woolsoakers

They’re made by Aristocrats Baby Products. They’re 100% untreated wool and are simply scrumptious. Even better, the size small fits infants from 7-20 lbs! Paying for them didn’t feel quite as painful as it could have when I realized that I’d be getting at least a year (probably more) out of these covers. They need to be washed and lanolized in order to ensure proper leak protection, and I’m excited for yet another preparatory task. πŸ™‚

In addition to Forrest’s Aristocrats covers, we’re also awaiting the arrival of some short nappy pants by Ruskovilla Oy from Nova Natural and a Clover wool diaper cover with side snaps from Tiny Birds Organics. These purchases were also easier to make because of the covers’ size ranges – the nappy pants fit from 0 months to 1 year, and the Clover cover fits up to 15 lbs. I cannot wait for them to arrive on my doorstep!

We’re planning on using simple unbleached Indian prefolds and Snappis for Forrest’s actual diapers. Although I’ve really enjoyed using Jack’s Little Beetle organic cotton velour fitted diapers, I have found that I also like the simplicity of prefolds – especially, I believe, on a quick-growing newborn!

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