Monday, November 30, 2015

I've been busy with anxiety

Anxiety and Depression doesn't always look like it.
I've been meaning to post about postpartum anxiety.  But I've been busy with kids and dealing with anxiety so I just haven't had time.  My anxiety had been amplifying over the past 6 months, and this past month it hit a new record high.  On Nov 1st we had a small earthquake, in a location that rarely has earthquakes.  It was loud, the bed shook, and my husband and I ran outside to find out what was happening.  It was just the tip of the iceberg.
I already hadn't been sleeping well for a few weeks because the baby is working on molars.  She would be up anywhere from 3-10 times a night.  It never fails that the second I fall asleep, she wakes up.  Every. Single. Time.  Every time I would try to fall asleep I would feel anxiety about being woken up.  Then I couldn't fall asleep.  And inevitably when I would eventually fall asleep from exhaustion, she would wake up. After the earthquake I would feel it while trying to fall asleep.  I KNEW it wasn't happening but I still felt it.  Then fear and panic were keeping me awake.  I went an entire week with a few hours of crappy sleep each night and I knew I was on the verge of a breakdown.
I wanted to try a few natural things first.  I started running a little to help clear my mind. I took a few trips to the store without children.  I did some crafting.  I used my essential oils.  (they usually help curb my anxiety)  All these thing were good for my soul but they weren't helping me sleep.  A friend of mine suggested getting a massage from a wonderful massage therapist that I saw once while I was pregnant with my 3rd.  So I set up an appointment.
I told her about my sleeping and anxiety issues. She talked to me about how my hormones sounded off and about how my tight neck mussels could actually be worsening my anxiety.  She suggested I look into a few herbal supplements.  I felt sore but good leaving the massage.  I picked up some supplements and thankfully I have been sleeping pretty well since. (except for the teething baby wake ups)
Day to day anything is not easy when you are dealing with anxiety or depression.  This is just a PSA to not take things personally.  I don't want to feel the way I do and I certainly don't want to upset the ones I love.  Help me out when I'm going through a rough time, remind me it will be ok, most of all, be patient because some day I'll come out of it.
I am not saying a massage or vitamins will fix everyone's anxiety but its a good start.  If you are feeling depressed/anxious reach out for help.  Know you are not alone and that you are strong enough to get help.
Little teething booger
First photo courtesy of AmberA Photography  

Saturday, June 20, 2015

5 years of guilt

     Five years ago we welcomed our first baby girl into the world.  It was a terrifying experience that left me feeling broken, guilty and depressed.  I loved that baby but I questioned everything about myself in the days that followed.  I questioned my body, my womanhood and my ability to parent. (which was all brand spanking new)
     After the first year or so, which was the beginning of writing this blog, I started to climb out of the depression I was in.  (you can read about that here, The First 6 Weeks )  My head was clear and I was feeling more like my old self.  We decided to expand our family and planned our VBAC.
     After the birth of my second daughter I was ecstatic!  But also tired and overwhelmed and I dealt with a bit of the baby blues.  Honestly the transition from working part time to full time staying home with 2 kids under 2 (with a horrible tear that took forever to heal) was more difficult that I expected.  I didn't have any friends that stayed home with their children and I felt lost.  I had done so much emotional work during my pregnancy that I felt amazing and whole again as a person but I was completely caught off guard by the pressure of parenthood.  We decided we were done having kids, that it was simply too stressful.
     So as life goes, we ended up with a third child.  The pregnancy was awful and I spent the first half of it ashamed for being pregnant, sick and just overall down and depressed.  I received a lot of negative comments about having a 3rd baby.  Mostly threats about how hard life would be with 3.  Half way through the pregnancy I worked on my emotions, dug deep, talked it out, and ended up feeling more upbeat and dare I say, excited.  The birth was wonderful, painful, and I had a great postpartum recovery.  Bonding was a breeze.
     As much as I worked on myself during those years, I never dealt with the GUILT.  And it occasionally catches me off guard.
     Times like tonight when I am rocking my youngest to sleep, I am tired and ready for me time, but I'm also enjoying it.  I don't remember "enjoying" it with my first.  I "enjoyed" more with my second but it was still a trying time.  And then I feel a twinge of guilt.  That I wasn't a better parent from that start.  I feel like I should have done something differently and handled the depression more aggressively.  That I should have found other ways to bond.  A lot of "shoulda woulda coulda" going through my head.
     Today I let go of that guilt knowing that my 5 year old KNOWS she is loved.  And that I did my very best.  That I continue to do my very best for my children.  I no longer need to hold onto guilt over a situation that I didn't have control over.  Every hug, every diaper changed, every bandaid applied, every time I've washed her hair, every art project I've swooned over, every dance party I've attended, every park we've gone to, every joke we've shared, every peanut butter and jelly sandwich I have cut into crazy shapes, every birthday party I've immersed myself in, and every bedtime song sung shows how much love I have for her.
     Happy 5th birthday sweet girl.  Goodbye momma guilt.
 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Birth Of Opal

  A little background and insight before I jump into the whole story.  My first daughter was a born via cesarean after a scheduled induction at 41 weeks 1 day.  I made it to 10 centimeters, pushed for 3 hours with a posterior (face up) baby flat on my back with an epidural.  My second child was born at 40 weeks and 3 days after a quick 4 hour epidural free labor.  I certainly expected to have this baby by 40ish weeks, or before!   This baby had been teasing me with contractions for weeks! Contractions would be about ten minutes apart then taper off into nothing.  The most annoying part was I generally only had contractions when I would lay down, so sleep just wasn't happening.  And I was honestly pretty mad I was still pregnant. It wasn't funny anymore, I just wanted to have this baby already.  Tired of people commenting about my size, about the baby not being here yet, and everyday was a battle to not lose my shit.  I was also obsessing over the baby being in a posterior position.  (Face up)  My friends and family had done a great job of keeping me busy with lunches, play dates, etc. but even with the help I was out of patience. I was still having regular bouts of nausea and overall feeling like crap.  A common theme for the past 9 months.

So there I was, 41 weeks pregnant.  7 agonizing days past my estimated due date.  It was just another, crappy, still pregnant day.  I headed out to visit with my sister in law and nieces and nephews.  (My husband was out returning a trencher, after digging up the backyard and accidentally cutting our internet cable.  Why not start a crazy project when your wife is 40+ weeks pregnant?)  The kids were excited to get out of house, something we hadn't been doing much of.  (Who's got energy for that?) I made the drive up to their house, let the kids play, had brunch, and headed home so I could try to nap.  

41 weeks pregnant in early labor
I was woken up by a contraction after sleeping for just 45 minutes, so much for a good nap!  I grumpily got out of bed and loafed around the house.  Dan took the girls out back to work on our mess of a yard.  I sat around reading a book, relaxing, and moping a bit.  (I may have shed a few tears about still being pregnant)  Around 5pm I noticed I was having contractions here and there.  I was still comfortable reading my book, so it wasn't anything to jump for joy over yet.  We had dinner, got the girls ready for bed and I kept reading my book until things got a little uncomfortable.  Mostly antsy, not pained.  I took a belly picture hoping it was the last one I would have a chance to take.   I was super exhausted from being a billion weeks pregnant, so I decided to lay down and try to rest.  I did start timing contractions while I was laying down, and I was basically willing labor to happen.   It was about 7 pm and my contractions were all over the place, 8 minutes, 15, 10, 7, 12 minutes apart.  The plan was to wait until they were about 5 minutes apart, lasting one minute, and consistent for 1 hour.  I did have to get on all 4's for each contraction, which is why I should have known this was the real deal, but I wasn't sold on the fact I was in labor.  I rocked through each contraction, laid back down, and hoped for rest.  

  I decided to give up on sleeping, and I was frustrated that my feet were freezing so I decided to take a shower to warm up.  I leaned on the wall through the contractions, but I wasn't having to vocalize through them, so I still didn't think I was in labor.  (see; Denial:  "refusal to admit the truth or reality")  After I got out of the shower I decided to put on my "labor clothes", but just for cautionary purposes.  I had to lean over the counter in the bathroom for each contraction and I was doing a figure 8 with my hips trying to get baby to turn so my back wouldn't hurt so bad.  (Baby had been face up for weeks and I couldn't get her in the ideal position, I was obsessing over it!)  

Ramping up!
I was finally warm and wasn't really sure what to do with myself, so Dan and I decided to put on a funny show.  Laughing is good for the soul, and good for labor too, if that's whats going on.  After 2 episodes, I was a bit more uncomfortable and I was feeling a constant need to pee.  I asked Dan if he could start pressing on my back to help with the pain.  He sat with me through a couple contractions, and he decided, even though I wasn't convinced, that this was it.  He started packing up stuff and loading the car.  I text a few people to give them a heads up that this *might* be it.  When he was done he came to time some contractions.  The next few contractions progressed quickly.  8 minutes, 7 minutes, 6 minutes, 4 minutes, 3 minutes........

My helpful Husband
Dan said he was calling our friend to come watch the kids so we could leave for the hospital.  I still wasn't convinced.  (I know, I should have been, but no one wants to get sent home for false labor!)  I was so "with it" in between contractions that it just didn't seem like it was time.  The back labor hurt, but I wasn't in labor land yet.  Within minutes, our friend arrived, and even she was skeptical if it was time to head out!  She said we were way too laid back and relaxed.  Irregardless at about 9 pm we took off for the hospital.

6.5 Centimeters and loving it!
Things seemed intense in the car, and I was starting to moan a bit during contractions.  I was also still texting friends and talking to Dan, it was very strange to feel so present! It was during the car ride that I was pretty convinced this was it because I was shaking terribly.  Mostly my legs bouncing and chattering my teeth.  Adrenaline is a crazy thing!  I was just hoping I was more than a 5, and that I wouldn't get sent home to wait longer.  The drive took about 25 minutes and we went to the E.R. to check in.  I stopped to use the bathroom (still having to pee a ton) and waited awkwardly in the waiting room with my shaky legs, my moaning, and my backpack.  They grabbed a wheel chair for me, and another random lady in labor, and whisked us up to triage on the labor and delivery floor.  

We got to triage and the lady who brought us up told me to put on a gown.  I said "no thanks."  She looked at me funny and said bluntly "take it up with your nurse."  Okay lady, calm it down.  Thankfully that was the only negativity I experienced during the entire labor and delivery.  Of course the nurse didn't bat an eye at me rocking my tank top.  My photographer met us in triage and started snapping pictures right away. We laughed and chatted and occasionally I would pause for contractions.  The nurse checked me, and I was happy to hear I was at 6.5 centimeters!  Hooray!  I was ecstatic.  I didn't have to be pregnant much longer, and we were finally going meet this baby.

Laboring in triage
I labored for maybe 15 minutes in triage while they got a room set up for me. This was the only little bit of laboring that I didn't listen to my body and just stand up.  I was worried about moving the monitors and I was a little intimidated by all the cords and hospital gear.

Laughing through labor
We walked to the room at about 10 pm.  I got set up with a heplok and monitors.  My midwife popped in to check on us and see if we needed anything.  I said nothing but water!  (Which she gladly grabbed for me)  Once everything was set up my nurse and midwife took off and dimmed the lights for us.   Dan continued to press on my back for contractions to make them bearable.  He set up the camera in between contractions, and I only had to yell at him once to come help me.  I labored on the bed on my knees, laying over a birth ball for a while, which was totally comfortable until I needed to use the bathroom.  Once I got in there, I felt like I couldn't empty my bladder.  It was very unsatisfying.  I only made it to the edge of the bed before the next contraction came, so I decided to just labor standing and leaning like I had been at home.  It was the only thing that helped the back labor.  In between contractions I still felt coherent, and we kept cracking jokes.  I felt more with it in between contractions than I did last time, but they also hurt like hell, which was different from last time.

Add caption
Right after my water broke!
Just a few minutes later, I felt like I needed to empty my bladder, I sat down and nothing but a trickle came out.  It was very frustrating.  I tried to pee again, and got a little grunty/pushy.  I wondered if I imagined it honestly, hoping it to be time.  I went back to the edge of the bed and with the next contraction I was for sure pushing.  I'm pretty sure I said " Oh thank God."

Our photographer went to grab our midwife.   I remember saying "I hope this doesn't take as long as last time." Because I really couldn't bear the thought of pushing for 1.5 hours again. My midwife came in ready to see if it was go time.  With my next contraction my water broke.  All over the floor, making a loud noise as it hit the ground.  It was such a cool moment!  It could have been straight out of a movie.  Pretty quickly after my water broke, Shit. Got. Real.  I literally felt the babies head move down.  It was probably the strangest sensation I have ever experienced.  The timeline is fuzzy here, but at some point my midwife checked me and I was at a 10, and a +4 station!  Woo hoo!  It was time to get down to business.  

Pushing is hard work

I crawled up on the bed and started out pushing on my hands and knees. The pain was terrible!  Way worse than I remember!  I was screaming like a banshee and I could have cared less who heard me.  Suck it, I'm having a baby here.  But then the babies heart rate stopped coming back up the way it's supposed to after contractions. So I ended up on my back and with oxygen to see if that would help babies heart rate come back up.  I would go from screaming in pain to telling myself "You are only one who could end this".

"come here baby!"
I knew that high pitched screaming was not the most effective way to push a baby out, but I couldn't help it.  I mean, that shit hurts!  Everyone said we were getting close, but it seemed like everyone said that for an hour with my last birth, so I wasn't confident they were accurate with their timeline.  I just kept yelling about how bad it hurt and that I couldn't do it.  But I also knew that I needed to get this baby out since the heart rate was crap.  I was for sure that I was tearing terribly but at that point, what can you do?  Just keep pushing! I reached down and felt the babies head.  Okay, they aren't lying to me, the baby is actually crowning.  I kept trying to put my hands down by the babies head because I wanted to help deliver, but the pain was so intense that I kept pulling my hands back.  It was such an internal battle.  (It mostly went like this "Damn it Jesse, this is your plan, do it!  Interupted by OUCH OUCH OUCH no thoughts here OUCH OUCH OUCH)  My husband kept pulling my hands back down because he knew what I wanted.  (Thanks babe!)  During the last few pushes I heard someone say that the head was out, so I did my damnedest to fulfill my own wish and helped grab onto whatever baby part I could. Apparently it was just that babies head, but thankfully my midwife had a better hold on baby and got baby on my chest! 

Holing baby girl
while still attached
to the umbilical cord
The moment we found out
she was a girl!
11:02 pm.  Baby is thankfully out!  My first words were "Come here baby!"  It was such a relief!  And I was way more emotional and present than I expected.  It took a few moments to remember that we didn't know the babies gender.  We had to move the umbilical cord out of the way, and......... its a girl!  She was perfection.  Tons of dark hair, a little bit of vernix, and she was crying perfectly.  They passed the baby down to Dan, still attached to the umbilical cord by the way, so that I could take my shirt off for some much desired skin to skin time.  (I say "I" but really the nurse did all the work.  All my muscles were jello at that point)  After the cord stopped pulsing Dan got to cut the cord.

The midwife had to take a look to asses the damage, and I was pleasantly surprised to hear that there wasn't any!  Not a stitch was needed.  I honestly couldn't believe it after needing so many stitches last time.  She said that the babies head came out at a bit of an angle, not the ideal position for delivery.  That explained why it hurt so much more than my last delivery, all that bone on bone pressure.  


It was a busy labor and delivery night, so we were left alone to continue skin to skin.  She didn't leave my chest for 2 hours.  I instantly bonded and fell in love!  I can't say I felt this with my other 2 babies.  Not this complete elation.  I think they really have opened my heart so much that letting this new baby in was easy.  She nursed, cried, and eventually calmed down and slept.  We decided on her name, Opal Mae.  Dan and I enjoyed the quiet and basked in the newborn wonder.  Those moments you wish you could bottle forever.  (But unfortunately can't) 

After 2 hours I really had to pee, and the nurse finally came back to help me get up. ( Again, jello legs!)  Opal had pooped, all over me, and we both needed cleaned up.  I used the bathroom, and Opal was weighed and measured.  8lbs 2 oz, bigger than I thought she would be, but still a perfect size.  Her head measured 14 1/2 inches and she was 20 1/2 inches long.  Her labor was less than 4 hours long and only really active for 2.5 hours.  It was such an empowering experience.  I felt strong for the first time in months.  I had felt so crappy the entire pregnancy, that I hadn't been thinking of myself as "strong".  But I totally rocked this birth.  I rocked the entire thing. 

My recovery has been wonderful.  My only complaint would be having to deal with the nursery at the hospital for 24 hours with jaundice issues.  Dan took 2 weeks off of work and I got to hang out with Opal, rest, and spend some time with the big sisters.  I only left the house for doctor appointments.  I am so in love with this wonderful baby, and in love with the interactions between siblings!  My 4 year old is always asking to hold the baby, and my 2 year old tells me she loves her and sings Rock a Bye Baby to her.  They are all so sweet together.  I couldn't ask for more.

Riding that adrenaline high!  
Maybe the whole labor/delivery/baby experience has been too good, since I find myself contemplating having another baby already.  I keep thinking "with the next one."  Which just sounds like absolute crazy talk after spending 3/4 of this year feeling like shit.  I'm sure I'll return to my senses soon. For now I will enjoy this babymoon and snuggling this baby.  There it is, the amazing, painful, and wonderful experience that is childbirth.





































Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Pregnancy Update! 32 weeks

I have to say, that I have been feeling better, for nearly 10 days now. WHOOP WHOOP!  (not every day, but I'll take what I can get)  I started taking zantac AND alfalfa tablets, and its has curbed the painful heartburn that has been making me nauseous and keeping me from sleeping.  (It was also messing up my back because I couldn't lay down flat!)  Baby also feels lower, which has to help not squish my stomach, therefore helping heartburn too.  I really don't care whats helping, I'm just glad something is, and I'm not messing it up!
I have gained about 20lbs this pregnancy, which is awesome.  At this point with my first pregnancy I had gained 45-50 lbs.  Everyone tells me I look fabulous, even if I don't feel it.  Of course I'm still dealing with those crazy people that say I look like I'm due tomorrow.  (see picture below)


I feel like we have most everything read for the baby.  Clothes, diapers, room is ready, hospital bag is kind of packed.  We still need burp cloths, a name, we need to install the infant car seat, and you know, gestate for at least another 6 weeks.  
Am I ready for the birth?  I think so?  We have a birth photographer this time, which I am very excited about.  I plan on laboring in the same clothes I did last time, and I have been reading Birthing From Within again to prepare.  
Is it a boy or girl?  I woke up the other day with the mindset that its a boy.  I don't know where that came from, but obviously it can go either way.  Every once in a while it drives me crazy that I don't know, and also that most of my gender "neutral" clothes are boyish, because what else do you buy?!?  I'm still riding on the fact that everyone who has waited to find out says its AH-MAZING.  We'll see.  We'll see.  (I can't imagine baby coming out, and me saying "meh" about the gender, so they might be right)  
Since I only feel decent some of the time, my house is a disaster.  So if anyone wants to come watch kids, clean, mow our lawn, we will not say no.  

Words Hurt

There are some words that bother me to hear when people describe their births.  The first is: "unsuccessful"  I read all the time when someone's birth ends in a repeat cesarean that they had an "unsuccessful VBAC"
Stop and think of all that word implies.

synonyms:
failedineffectivefruitless, profitless, unproductiveabortive
"an unsuccessful attempt"

Its a word we need to use less when describing the birth of our children.  I didn't have an unsuccessful vaginal birth, I had a cesarean birth.

The word "unsuccessful" does not describe the BIRTH of anything.  Birth its self is the emergence of a baby or other young from its mother, the start of life as a physically separate being.  It took me a long time to describe my cesarean as a cesarean birth, don't beat yourself up if you are not there yet either.

The same goes for describing a birth as "successful"  You can have a successful vaginal birth, along with a successful cesarean birth. Success with birth is not defined by a baby exiting your vagina without medication. There are so many components to birth.  So many ways to be proud, to succeed, and to be empowered.

Another word I hate:
"natural"

A lot of times, when the topic of how you birthed your babies comes up, I'll mention my first was a cesarean. The person I'm talking to will quickly respond "oh, I had all mine natural."

Ugh.  Again, words hurt.

When I think natural, I think organic, untouched.  I do not think of most of the vaginal births you see on tv.  Women with epidurals, synthetic hormones, nurses screaming at them to push while lying flat on their backs.  The definition of "natural" is "existing in or caused by nature; not made or caused by humankind." 

Epidurals are a great tool and option to have.  But they are still an intervention, and not without risk.  They tend to lead to more interventions.  Pitocin is a great tool to have as well.  It is definitely over used, but it does come in handy. 

People are so quick to tell you that cesareans are common and "easy", so how are they more unnatural than the birth I just described?  31.3% of women give birth via cesarean.

I wish that instead of trying to define births, by declaring them "natural or unnatural" or "successful and unsuccessful" that we just support each other in birth.  That we support choices, that we all strive for informed consent, that we help women achieve the empowered birth they deserve instead of tearing women down for making a choice that isn't our #1 choice.  I am also not saying that you need to feel the way I do about these words, just that you know the implications of the words that you use.



Tuesday, June 24, 2014

I'm still tired, nauseous, and this isn't really "flying by"

I know, sad Sally over here.  Debby downer.  But the title of this post pretty much answers all the questions that I keep getting asked.  I'm almost into the 3rd trimester, which seems fast, but also incredibly slow at the same time. I feel like I've been stuck in this "feeling like crap fog" (I'm coining that phrase) that won't fade.  I wish I could say that I was feeling great and enjoying every second of what is most likely my last pregnancy.  But in all reality, I am just trying to survive busy days with toddlers, while being pregnant.  I wish I had it in me to put on a better face, and pretend I felt amazing.  I just can't.  Hey- at least I'm showering on a fairly regular basis!  (woop woop)

After taking both kiddos to a prenatal appointment, and not getting a second to focus or think about this baby,  I decided to sign up for the "bump group".  Its group prenatal appointments, lasting 2 hours, where you get to meet other moms due at the same time as you and talk with some awesome midwives.  I figured that this extra time would be well spent focusing on this baby #3, even if it is only a few hours a month. I had my first meeting tonight.  It does feel weird being the only one who isn't a first time mom, but I'm sure my input will be a little helpful.  (or at least humorous!)

I am in a better mental state lately than I was the first half of this pregnancy though.  I'm getting more excited about having a little one again, the nursing, and mentally preparing for another delivery!  G is most excited, and was the first one to feel this baby move. H doesn't seem to care, and is more concerned with her belly, and asks if there is a baby in her belly, when I try to explain that there is a baby in mine.  We are slowly scraping together some names so we don't have to completely wing it when the time comes!

Some pregnancy and baby stats for you:
Baby is about 1 lb 9 oz
I have gained about 10-12 lbs so far
Baby heartbeat was 152 at my last appointment
Belly is measuring 1 week ahead (26 weeks at 25 weeks, no big deal)

If you have still stuck with this whiny post to the end, here's a recent belly picture!
25 weeks with #3


Friday, March 28, 2014

Journey to my second VBAC

Here we go again!  We are happy to announce that we are expecting baby #3!  MB (mystery baby) will be here some time in early October.  And we have decided to not find out the gender.  I'm not sure how I'll
make it the whole time without dying from curiosity, but I'm going to try.

Note- still feeling like crap
So far I feel like shit.  I haven't left the couch in about 6 weeks.  I'm hoping the second trimester will bring some relief to this crippling exhaustion.  I have insane heartburn most of the day, and headaches when I don't have heartburn. So I'll keep this post short and sweet until I have energy to do more.

I just had a baby appointment and so far no weight gain, perfect blood pressure, and I got to hear this little one's heartbeat.  :)

If you want to keep getting updates, follow me on my Facebook page! I promise it will get more exciting.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Dear C-section Doctor


Dear C-section Doctor.


I had a cesarean with you in June 2010 after a failed induction at 41 weeks.  I pushed for 15 minutes before you came in and told me my daughter wasn’t “coming out this way.”  I continued to push for over 2 hours.  I was finally told that my daughter was posterior and that I had made zero progress.  It was time for a cesarean.  I was not given an option for vacuum suction, episiotomy, forceps delivery, or the option to push longer.  I understand there are risks involved with every procedure, but I had no idea how much of a fight I would have ahead of me because of that cesarean.


At my six week follow up, you asked me if I was depressed.  I sat there with tears in my eyes and shook my head, whispering no.  You didn’t even lift your head from your paper as you wrote “no”.  I went through months of depression.

I found the ICAN network (International Cesarean Awareness Network) and started planning my VBAC.  I found a supportive provider despite the fact you used a single layer suture.  I beat PPD by reliving my cesarean over and over and sharing my story.  I found out that there are thousands of women who feel the same way I do.  

I had an epidural free, intervention free VBAC in April 2012.  Her head circumference was just as large as my first daughters.  

I made a lot of mistakes the first time around.  I didn’t watch my weight, I didn’t exercise, I wasn’t educated in general.  But my biggest mistake was going to a practice with a 44% cesarean rate.  You are a surgeon.  Not someone who believes in the birth process.  I think any doctor with that high of a cesarean rate should rethink their career path.  

Did you know the phrase by Edwin Craigin “Once a cesarean, always a cesarean” was to meant to warn doctors against cesareans because one of  the risks of a primary cesarean is that repeat operations may be necessary?  It has been almost 100 years since that article was published and we’ve done nothing but regress.  

I wrote this letter because I’ve wanted to ever since I left your office a broken shell of a woman.  I’m very lucky I have such a supportive network of people that have made me whole again.  Now, almost three years later, I’m grateful for the experience because it has shaped who I am today.  I hope that in the future you remember how important the birth process can be to some women and how much of a vital part you play in that process.  

Jessica Franks
ICAN of Phoenix Co-leader

Friday, September 7, 2012

You don't get a medal for natural birth............

     I keep reading and hearing this phrase "You don't get a medal for natural childbirth."  Well, that's true, but you don't get a medal for running a marathon either. Yet people don't get chastised for wanting to accomplish that!  Can you imagine if you were running a marathon, and everyone on the side lines was yelling "You can't do this, are you crazy?" , "Just stop running already!  You could be done with all this pain if you stopped running." And at every water station they had an option for you to use a vespa for the rest of the race?  Not even just an option, but people telling you that is the only way to do it, and that you are crazy for continuing to run at all.
     Now I understand childbirth and marathons are not the exact same thing.  (But they are darn close!)  For one, saying that getting an epidural is like riding a vespa, I know that's not true, but its certainly makes a difference!  I know some people that say they still felt quite a bit with their epidural, and some people who said they felt nothing.  Also, epidurals do not come without risks, so again, another unfair comparison.  List of epidural risks here  Moms are being pushed to get epidurals, but not informed of all the risks.  I know I was not fully informed with my first daughters birth.
     People won't eat canned tuna while pregnant, lunch meat, sushi, hot dogs, soft cheeses, certain fish, sprouts, unpasteurized juices, and peanuts.  They won't have a sip of wine and religiously take their prenatal vitamins.  They are completely militant for 9 months, but when it comes down to delivery, people are begging for the epidural and taking Pitocin without asking questions.  Yet, I am crazy for wanting to avoid interventions and drugs?
     I don't expect everyone to have a natural birth.  That's like asking someone who has never been for a jog to run a marathon.  I would suggest training for this marathon!  By eating well, walking, taking a birthing class, surrounding yourself with a positive birth team, hiring a doula, and writing out that birth plan!  In mine, I highlighted that I was not to be offered pain relief.  (Like I didn't know it was an option anyhow??)  All I ask is that the next time someone says they want a natural birth, try not to look at them like they have an extra foot growing out of their forehead.  Instead, suggest things that could HELP them accomplish their goal.  Its not like they are on a personal mission to see how much pain they can endure without passing out.  They are just trying to experience all childbirth has to offer,and doing it like people have been since the dawn of time. Minus the squatting over a hole with blankets in it part.  (Although, that doesn't sound too bad to me)
     So no, you don't get a medal for natural childbirth.  You don't need one.  You get the satisfaction of accomplishing your goal and all the glory that goes along with it.  You get the extra rush of endorphins, you get to push in any position you want, you get to birth with little potential for harm or side effects for you or your baby.  I don't feel crazy for having a natural childbirth.  For me, it really wasn't that bad!  I'd do it again in a heartbeat.  Rock on you natural birth mamas, you epidural moms, you cesarean moms. Rock on you moms that know your options and support each other for making your own decisions!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

2 Years and a VBAC later

Today is the 2nd anniversary of my c-section.  It is also my daughters 2nd birthday.  These two events happened at the same time, yet are different.  The first was a life changing traumatic event that I will never be completely "over", that has made me cry, grown as a person, it has made me learn, and reach out to help others.  The second was a life changing blessing that mas made me cry, grow as a person, and has also made me swell with love beyond my wildest dreams.  See, the same, but different.

This year was honestly harder than last year.  Most likely because I was lucky enough to experience all childbirth had to offer, and it really makes me miss those first few moments with my first born, those moments that I can't remember clearly.  I don't really remember the first time I saw her, nursed her, or held her.  Its all quite a blur.

Thinking back on G's birth, reminds me of watching a horror movie.  (and not just because of all the blood)  You see the girl run up the stairs, and you yell at the TV "don't go up there!"  She picks up the phone "of course the call is coming from INSIDE the house"  When I relive the day she was born, my now knowledgeable and informed self yells things!  "Don't go in for an induction, wait for her to pick her birthday" , "Don't let them break your water" , "Get up off that bed and move" , "You CAN do this!"


Several times today I have found myself thinking "If I knew then what I know now.........................."  Well, If I had all that knowledge then, I wouldn't be who I am today.  I wouldn't be passionate about education during pregnancy, about fitness during pregnancy, doulas, drug free childbirth, or passionate about VBAC.  So, even though my day started out with a few tears, I'm ending it knowing that G's birth was supposed to happen exactly as it did.  Because of that, I have a beautiful, stubborn, smart, playful and vibrant little toddler.  And for that, I'm thankful.  

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Birth Preferences (not demands, this is not a hostage situation)

We labeled our birth plan 'birth preferences' because we wanted to show respect to our care providers and nurses that would be assisting in the birth of our baby.  I worded ours very carefully, and highlighted the most important parts.  (We highlighted no pain medication and no pitocin, because pitocin a lot of time is standard procedure after delivery.)  We wished to avoid demanding things that were against hospital policy.  For example, I knew that I would have to have constant fetal monitoring and a heparin lock while laboring in the hospital.  (That is unless you show up pushing, whoops!)  Our hospital also stated they required an ultrasound upon admittance, and we were going to decline the information.  (You can decline knowing your own weight if you want to.)  I have had someone argue with me that going along with policies like this is not informed consent.  She was mistaken.  I have been informed, and am consenting.

I WANTED a hospital birth.  I trust the professionals in an emergency, and feel most comfortable at the hospital.  I am not going to go into the hospital demanding a home birth.  I think everyone should know their hospital policies, their providers policies, and standard protocol before choosing where to birth whether they are having a VBAC or not.  

Other things to keep in mind while writing your 'birth preferences'.  
  • Try to keep it to one page
  • Go over your preferences with your care provider and make sure they have a copy
  • Highlight the preferences MOST important to you 

At the end of the page, we also said "If changes need to be made, we prefer to give verbal consent."  I wanted the hospital staff to know that we weren't opposed to changing the birth plan, if a true emergency did arise, but that we just wanted to be a part of that decision.

Here is a google document link of the outline we used to write our birth preferences that you can also just print out and check what you want.  Birth Options and Preferences

Our Birth Preferences
  • I would like to wear my own clothes
  • Access to fluids and snacks
  • Free mobility
  • Access to birth tub/shower
  • Access to birth ball
  • Dim lighting and music allowed
  • Heparin Lock okay
  • Limited vaginal checks
  • No IV Fluids
  • No pain medications and please do not offer them
  • Mother directed pushing
  • Pictures and video allowed
  • We do not wish to know estimated fetal weight
  • No AROM

Requests for after baby is born
  • Husband to cut cord
  • Baby placed on mothers chest
  • Parents to hold baby for first hour
  • No Pitocin
  • Save placenta
  • Delayed cord clamping

Newborn Care
  • No formula
  • No pacifiers
  • Delayed eye treatment, vitamin K shot, and vaccinations
  • Parents to give first bath

Cesarean Preferences
  • Pictures/video allowed
  • Husband present
  • Wear my glasses to be able to see
  • Lower curtain to see baby
  • Husband to hold baby
  • Skin to skin (husband will hold baby there)
  • Baby to come to recovery room

If changes need to be made, we prefer to give verbal consent

Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Healing after a VBAC

As of writing this, I am 3 weeks post-partum.  I am feeling really good.  2 weeks ago, I was still super sore.  Everywhere.  Childbirth is the craziest workout I have had since I took my black belt test when I was 16.  My arms, neck, legs, everything was sore.  And of course my vagina.  During pushing, I developed a hematoma on my labia and tore pretty bad, but my perineum is 100% intact!  While being stitched up, my midwife said it would never look the same.  (she was right)  There goes my playboy career.

1 week PP with my first on the left, 1 week PP with #2 on right
We came home about 30 hours after Hattie was born.  We were given the option to come home earlier, but was also reminded that if I did come home, I would have a toddler all over me that didn't understand why mom couldn't hold her.  And I was still using ice packs on my crotch every 4 hours.  I was nearly as slow to get up and down as I was right after my cesarean.  Going pee was a challenge as well.  (Took 3 tries before I was actually able to go)  Going poop was way more of a challenge.  (Took 4 attempts, and felt like I re-injured some muscles in the process)  I am also using numbing spray a few times a day, and ibuprofen every 8 hours to keep swelling down.  So I can't say that the physical healing after my VBAC has been easy.  I am already back to my pre-pregnancy weight though.  A HUGE difference from my first pregnancy.  Yet another benefit of not gaining a ton of weight!

Emotionally, it has been MUCH better.  I keep thinking to myself "so this is what its like to take care of a newborn without being terribly depressed."  The first few days I felt a little numb.  Not it a bad way, just like everything that happened was so surreal.  Our wedding day took a few days to sink in too.  I keep waiting for it to hit me!  Even at 3 weeks post-partum, it still hasn't hit me.  I relive her birth several times a day, and am obsessed with looking at the birth photos.  The NSFW ones.  I am very proud of myself, but also haven't given myself all the credit I deserve.  I think once the birth seems real, that part will come with it too.  Nursing is going great.  Its amazing how much confidence you have in breastfeeding the second time around.

I feel so much more confident in my body in general.  I have been at such peace with birth even before I went into labor.  Our bodies are amazing.  I cannot tell you how exciting it was to have my body go into labor, without any form of induction.  To labor and birth without any interventions.  This entire experience just reaffirmed the trust I have in my body.

Little Miss Hattie
Can I say it was a completely healing experience?  No.  The depression caused by my cesarean forced me to find a way to heal.  The support from my family and friends made it possible for me to heal.  Making the right decisions for me and my family helped me heal.  Birthing from within classes gave me the tools I needed to work through the birth of my first daughter.  For me, it was all about feeling empowered with my decisions, no matter what the outcome. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Birth of H- Dans perspective



What should I be doing right now and what should I be getting ready for.

Where is the damn cell phone.

Pushing! Your not supposed to be pushing!

I REALLY wish our doula was here right now.

Do not get a ticket driving to the hospital.

Oh my, I see part of a baby.

OH MY, THAT LOOKS VERY UNCOMFORTABLE.

Don't forget to take pictures.

DEAR LORD... OUCH!

THANK LORD.

Sure, I would be happy to pull the baby the rest of the way out and put her on Jesse's chest.

Hey, it is past midnight! I have a birthday twin.


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Birth of H

I can't say I was totally patient that last week of pregnancy, but I was trying!  I certainly enjoyed the alone time with my daughter, before she was promoted to big sister.  A week before I actually went into labor, I had prodromal labor for 8 hours.  It started at 4 pm, with contractions 10 minutes apart, slowly increasing in intensity.  Not enough to move me from the couch, so I just tried to rest.  I eventually fell asleep around midnight, and they went away.  I had a prenatal appointment the next day, declined the vaginal check, because I didn't want to be disappointed, and we all know it doesn't mean anything anyhow.  Days went by, still having contractions here and there, but nothing exciting.

Monday, April 2nd, I decided to carry on with life, and go out in public.  (even though I HATE being harassed by people and their stupid pregnant belly comments)  I went and splurged on an Easter dress for the baby, and had lunch with my sweet G in the food court, the got harassed by some lady in the parking lot that yelled "When's that baby coming out?  I bet you're hoping soon!"  I just ignored her and continued loading my toddler into the car.  We came home, and took a nap.  Around 5pm, I noticed some contractions again, but continued picking up and doing laundry.  An hour had passed, and they seemed somewhat regular, so I decided to time them.  I'm not sure what it is about the end of pregnancy, but the closer you get to going into labor, the less you think its actually going to happen!  The contractions were 6-7 minutes apart, and a little crampy feeling.  I text my doula and a couple friends to give them a heads up.  They continued to be regular, and I tried to rest.  Around 8 pm, they became more intense, and I decided I couldn't lay down any longer.  I went and did my hair and put on my birth clothes. (black nursing sports bra, tank top and skirt)   I messaged my husband (who was drinking a beer and finishing some work in his garage office) and told him things were picking up.  He came in to see what that meant.

Things started to really pick up, and I decided to get in the bathtub to see if that helped the back pain.  Dan was following me around, timing the contractions, finishing packing his bag, and getting things around.  I had a few contractions in the tub, that were manageable, but I didn't feel like I could move much, and I just got really hot really fast, so I decided to get out.  Overall, the tub sucked.  Every time I got up to walk, I had another contraction, reguardless if I had just had one or not.  I think they were 4-5 minutes apart at this time, but Dan was so busy running around, he wan't timing too many of them.  He did tell me a few times that "you shouldn't be having another contraction, you just had one."  Thanks babe, you tell that uterus what to do.

After getting out of the tub, we set up to labor in the living room.  I felt like an animal trying to find a safe place to labor.  I remember watching my cat in labor when I was about 8 years old, I followed it all over the house, waiting for those kittens to be born, and she just kept searching until she found the right spot.  (behind the couch much to my moms dismay)  I leaned on the birthing ball and put on Super Troopers.  (what else is there to do in labor, right?)  Actually, I heard that laughter can help labor progress faster, so I though I'd give it a try.  But I can't say I laughed much, or watched much T.V.

During contractions Dan would rub my back to lessen the pain, and I started to moan a little through contractions.  All I kept thinking was that this was more tiring than I thought it would be, that I really have to do this now, and that I just wanted to find a comfortable position so I could sleep.  (I can dream!)  During the contractions, I kept repeating to myself "open open open", "you just need to get through one contraction at a time", and "your contractions cannot be stronger that you, because they are you."  All of it seemed to help, along with Dan rubbing my back.  All of a sudden, I couldn't be leaning on the birthing ball anymore.  I really couldn't feel comfortable anywhere.  I got up to go pee (another instant contraction) and when I wiped, I saw pink.  It was that moment I realized we were having a baby!  Dan got a little worried, and asked our doula (Nikki) to come over.  She said she would be there in about 30 minutes.  It was about 10pm.  Back to the living room we went.  I leaned on Dan for a contraction, then sat on the birthing ball pinned up to the couch, and leaned on Dan who sat in front of me.  I was getting pretty loud at this point, but it was helping me feel better, so I kept on doing it!

After only a few contractions on the birthing ball, I felt the need to get up again, and thought I would give standing in the shower a try.  I got up to walk to the bathroom, had another contraction of course, then sat down on the toilet because I felt like I had to poop.  I passed gas, felt better, and thought that it must have been that burrito I ate!  I got in the shower, feeling a little shaky, and leaned my head against the wall.  With the next contraction, my body pushed.  I didn't, but my body did.  I yelled out for Dan and told him what happened, and to call my friend and neighbor Kelly over to watch Ginny and to call Nikki.  (This was only about 2 hours after the uncomfortable contractions started)

It took some effort to get out of the shower, and get dried off.  Dan helped me put some clothes on, and I went back and sat on the toilet.  I kept pushing/trying not to push through contractions.  Kelly arrived during the bustle while Dan was loading the car, and asked me how I was doing.  I was mid contraction at the time and moaning and pushing pretty loudly and trying to answer her questions without being a total bitch.  (poor kelly)  We ran out the door, well, as much as someone having contractions every 2 minutes can run.

The drive to the hospital was about 20 minutes.  Dan set the cruise control at 80 and prayed we wouldn't get pulled over.  I sat in the back, holding the "o shit" handle.  At least thats what my dad calls it.  In between contractions I tried to rest.  I was thinking of how scary this had to be for Dan and told him that it sounded worse that it was.  (I had moved on to quite the guttural moan and pushing sounds at this point.)  I tried checking to see where the baby was, and felt the bulging bag of water.  My biggest worry at this point was how the hell I was going to get into the hospital.  It sounded like so much work.





My only labor picture- Mid pushing/contraction
Once we arrived at the hospital Dan ran to get a wheelchair.  I didn't feel like I could walk.  There was some crazy lady asking me questions while I was mid contractions/pushing. (Literally crazy.  The hospital isn't in the best part of town.)  Dan brought out the wheelchair and I threw a towel at him and said I wasn't sitting straight on that chair since I wasn't wearing any underwear. He wheeled me in past the crazy, into the waiting room.  I had about 15 seconds of a contraction before they moved me to check in.  (that's how fast things move when you're pushing in the waiting room)  They asked numerous questions, and all I muttered was, "ask him!"  Turns out there were talking to him, not me.  I had at least 3 contractions in five minutes, so they were trying to hurry.  My doula found us in check in.  And that's when Dan remembered to take a picture of me in labor.  (one picture is better than none!)  As soon as he did, I had another contraction.  I was whisked up to labor and delivery.

Finally!  In a hospital bed!  The midwife checked me and said the words I loved hearing "she's complete and at a +1."  (With my first birth I never made it past a -2 even with 2 1/2 hours of pushing.)  They asked me if I wanted to put on a hospital gown.  Um, heck no!  My water was still intact, and I declined them breaking it.  So, I started pushing, freely, thank God!  I pushed on my back, on all fours, and ended up in some weird side laying position.  My water broke after pushing for about 20 minutes.  I was sweating to death.  My doula thought to get a wash cloth.  That helped a lot!  After an hour, I felt like I wasn't really making progress.  Everyone assured me I was.  They said she had long dark hair.  Once I got her pushed under the pubic bone, everything hurt like hell.  A whole new pain!  Ring of fire is right, I just had no idea it could last for 20+ minutes.  At this point, epidural still had not crossed my mind, but episiotomy had.  I just wanted it to be over.  I started yelling with pushing saying things like, "shit, shit shit", "I can't do it" or "get it out" with contractions.  I never thought I couldn't do it, I just wanted everyone there to understand how bad this part hurt and how much it sucked!  But finally, after an hour and 1/2 of active pushing, I got her head out. I tore, and I felt every second of that.  (It reminded me of the movie knocked up where she yells "I feel EVERYTHING" , yeah, its just like that.)  One more push and out came the rest of her.  Sweet relief.  She was out!
I love this picture, Shock and Relief, all at once.

Dan helped pull her out, and laid her on my chest.  We waited some time before we clamped and cut the cord and we also waited on all the newborn care. We just sat there and basked in awe at our new baby, and everything that had happened!  I got some juice and gold fish crackers and got stitched up.  (I tore upward and required some stitches, but apparently have a very strong perineum!)  I was very shaky after delivery, so I had Dan hold her during the stitching.  She was calm and quiet, and still is.


Well.  There it is.  My VBAC story.  The longest short birth story I've ever read.  Only about 4 hours from start to finish.    I still can't believe that I vaginally birthed my baby.  Without medication or a heplock.  I even avoided having the fetal monitor hooked up fully.  (Our wonderful nurse just held it there off and on.)  I never even wore a hospital gown!  Hattie's birth went better than I ever could have dreamed.  Birth never goes as we plan or as we imagine, and I wouldn't have planned G's birth to end in a cesarean.  But without her birth ending how it did, I wouldn't have wanted or worked so hard for a natural birth this time.  I wouldn't be volunteering for ICAN.  I wouldn't be the co-leader of the Phoenix ICAN chapter.  I wouldn't have such a passion for natural birth.  I wouldn't be as educated on childbirth.  I just wouldn't be the same person I am today.  And for that, I have to thank both of my beautiful daughters, my amazingly supportive husband, and my family and friends.

Getting her cleaned up a bit.

7lbs 8.5oz 19 1/2 inches

Proud Daddy

Looking a little crazy on my adrenaline rush!  Love it!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Enjoying the last bits of pregnancy.

Not comfortable me on the left, comfy me on the right :)
I never thought I would be so patient as we approach the end of this pregnancy.  But, I'm feeling comfortable, I'm not bloated, sleeping is O.K. (and I mean ok, not great),  I'm 30 pounds lighter, and by some grace of God (and a LOT of hard work from my husband) we've finished everything on my "baby bucket list."
In the past 3 weeks or so we have completed the following:
-head gasket replaced in car (ouch! )
-sold our truck
-bought a "new" vehicle
-finished baby room
-made it to the zoo
-had blessingway
-kept the remainder of our family out of the hospital and ICU
-made it to the ICAN meeting
-pool fence installed
-belly cast made (but not yet painted)
-office in garage is built and even has a/c (not totally finished, but its functioning)
-and last but not least, Christmas Lights are down!!!
And of course after finishing all that, my poor husband has a lingering cold/cough/allergies mess that won't go away.  I'm up to pee 12 times a night, and he's up coughing, and our 21 month old just likes to be up.  Thankfully, they both are getting some sleep this morning.
Well.  I only have 1 week of work left.  And an ICAN meeting this week.  Nothing but relaxing, walking, and playing with my first baby until BGF gets here.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Blessingway!

The day finally came!  The Blessingway was amazing in so many ways.  I know I am one lucky lady to have so many loving and supportive family and friends on my side.  Not only support from family that lives here, but also a very loving letter and bead sent from my great Aunt in Ohio, the bead from my Great Grandmothers jewelry box.  But, before I get things out of order, lets start from the beginning.



The morning started with my friend and sister in laws decorating the dining room with flowers, quotes, birth art, fresh fruits and many little surprises.  My mom was tearing up already.  I still didn't know much of what was to happen.  Who doesn't love surprises?  The morning also started ON TIME.  That is one for the record books in this family.  And at 10 am to top it off.                  


I had requested healthy food, NO CAKE (I know, its like a pregnant sin)  and the food couldn't have been more delicious.  We indulged in some brie, crackers, pink lemonade, tea, fruit salad, and veggies and dip.  After all my hard work this pregnancy, it seemed counter productive to be eating cakes and sweets at the ceremony.  (don't worry, there were a few lemon cookies here, and they were delicious)




We started the ceremony with everyone reading their poems, prayers, or quotes.  I'm going to share a few:

"No one ever told her about this thing called 'mothering.'  Maybe because it was a journey of discovery.  Her greatest work of art, her biggest lesson in letting go, where she'd learn to nurture a 'self' to shine bright and find her own self in the process.  No one can tell you that.  You have to live it, to know it, and when you do, it changes you forever."  - Bone Sigh arts (From my Sister in Law Andrea)

"The whole point of woman-centered birth is the knowledge that a woman is the birth power sourse.  She may need and deserve help, but in essence, she always had, currently has, and will always have the power"  -Heather McCue (From my friends Nicole and Stephanie)




"Happy are those who dream, and are ready to pay the price to make them come true"  (from my Mom)

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, Plans to prosper you and not to harm you.  Plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call upon me, and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you."  Jeremiah 29: 11-12  (from my Grandma)

"The Lord is my Shepherd: I shall not want.  He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; He leadeth me beside the still waters.  He restoreth my soul; He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name' sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For thou art with me; Thy rod and they staff, they comfort me.  Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of enemies; Thou annointest my head with oil; My cup runneth over.  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the House of the Lord forever."  The 23rd Psalm  (from my Mother in Law Hattie, her husband recited this with her through every contraction of her last birth, and by the time the verse was over, so was the contraction)

"It is spring and your baby is coming.  I wish for you a mind of prayer when your baby decides she is ready.  I wish for you deep strength and patience for yourself and your body.  I wish for you courage to not doubt what your body is capable of doing.  And when Baby arrives may you be awake and enlarged by the experience.  May your love give you the energy to figure out who Baby is and what she needs.  May the journey be joy-filled."  (From my friend Kayla)

After many tears were shed, we moved on to the bead ceremony.    Basically, we went around the table and everyone who brought a bead, described what theirs meant.  Power words like bloom, strength, wonder woman, slow and steady, liquid of life, and afterward, I made a bracelet to wear.  That way I can remember everyone's kind words while in labor.



Next, we went around the table again, everyone sharing their gifts and crafts.  My friend Stephanie made me a birth art statue, Nicole brought a beautiful pregnant Willow Tree Pregnant statue, My Grandma made some beautiful cards, MIL Hattie also made a me a card, with a gorgeous beaded cross on the front of it.

My SIL Ruth made a family of handprint elephants (elephants are the theme in the baby room)  quoting " There is no creature among all the beasts of the world which hath so great and ample demonstration of the power and wisdom of almighty God as the ELEPHANT.  - Edward Topsell.



My SIL Andrea made a beautiful mandala.  On one side - A woman coming into a cycle of life with the full force of womanhood.  She dares to live the passion of what are absolutely her own thoughts and choices.  K-Vogen, the other side- A circle of loved ones around a woman giving birth to provide a space of love and energy for birth to come with ease.



From my SIL Sharon, she made a gorgeous "name" for us to hang in the baby room.  (we will share when she is here what that name is!)  Kayla made a gorgeous scrapbook page with a wonderful quote, Kelly gave me journals, to write anything that comes to mind while raising 2 children, and some much needed diapers.  My mom hand my daughter color a picture for us, and shared some sweet wishes and a thank you from G for being such wonderful parents.

Lastly, my Grandma (tried) to read a letter from my Great Aunt Sherry,
"Dearest Jesse,
When your Grandmother told me about your blessingway ceremony and the various aspects of it, such as the bead ceremony, I thought, what kind of bead could I give that would have any meaning.  And then I remembered a little elephant I found among your Great Grandmothers jewelry in a little box she kept it in.  I don't know anything about it.  Why she had it, where it came from, or what meaning it held for her.  She did like collecting elephant figurines so perhaps it held more significance than we will ever know.    So, with those thoughts I am sending it to you on this special occasion in remembrance of your Great Grandmother, Frances DeWulf.  And know too that she loved you and loves you still.  And I am sure that she is looking down from heaven and smiling.  Love and Prayers, Your Great Aunt Sherry.
"Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.  Tell God what you need and thank him for all He has done.  Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.  His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus..... For I Can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength"  Phillippians 4:6,7,13"

I feel so incredibly blessed to be surrounded by so many strong women.  Women who know how to love, and it flows from their veins.  I wish everyone could feel this much love before going on their birthing journey. I want to thank everyone who had any part of my blessingway, allowing it to happen, and making it happen.  Now, in these last few weeks of pregnancy, I have nothing but positive words, quotes, prayers, letters, pictures, artwork, statues, surrounding me and my family as we go through this journey.  I am more ready than ever.

My MIL Hattie and I








Some of the birth art and quotes


Grandma and Mom

Kelly and I

My "moments of clarity" jar for after the baby

Pregnant Willow Tree statue

Bracelet made for the baby

The other side of the mandala

more birth art

My favorite quote

my bracelet

Card from Hattie