Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Coffee Date

If we were having coffee...

... It would probably be at Starbucks because I am there more often than I've ever been in my life! Interviews, prenatal meetings, child-free work time. It's quite the expensive addiction! I'm already looking forward to a much needed work session on Friday while the girls are playing at Grandpa's between prenatal appointments with clients.

... I would tell you that I'm working hard not to say I'm "busy". I am, busy that is, but "busy" sounds negative and while I really wish I had more time for different things in my life (more blogging, playdates, a cleaner house, homeschooling the girls...) - the things that take up my time are good things. Work - which is my business and passion, so a good thing! My girls, friends and family! After that there's very little time left over, and right now, that's okay! As my sweet  friend Angela pointed out to me recently when I was talking about this being a hard season of life #harddoesntmeanbad

... I would tell you that for the first time in a really long time I have managed to consistently have a Bible Study. I've never been one to use an e-Bible. There's something that just feels off to me about flipping the pages of the Bible like I scroll through Instagram. BUT, that's what I'm doing. Using a Bible app & going through a couple of studies on the She Reads Truth app. It's been great, exactly what I need and meeting me in my full schedule (see that... trying really hard not to say "busy"). It really helps to set my day off on the right foot and when I don't get it done first thing in the morning I make it a point to do it before I sit down to do other work on my iPad later in the day.

... I would tell you about Cora's 3rd birthday celebration! I can't believe my baby is already 3! We had a very small celebration and it was honestly the least stressful hosting I've done in a long time!

... I would tell you that I *hate* the weather we're having. Where the heck is fall?!?

... I would tell you that I think I have a thrifting habit. I'm always getting things we "need" (or legitimately need) or things I've had my eye on but don't want to spend retail etc. and it's always great deals! I just find it becoming a little too easy to spend $10 here & there when it isn't really in the budget, I'm probably going to have to go back to a cash envelope for my thrifting budget.

... if I were being really vulnerable and honest I would tell you that I need to find time to work out again. It has been a rough year for my body. The first year postpartum, still breastfeeding, school, working, starting a business, other life stresses. My weight has been a bit all over the place, literally fluctuating up and down about 20 pounds. The icing on the I need to loose weight again cake would be that two people have asked about my non-existent pregnancy. *insert side eye emoji here...*

... I would tell you that I'm excited about Halloween, or Make Believe Day as we're dubbing it with our girls. This year Coralie will be Abby Kadabby and Ada will be Cookie Monster. I've finished the cookie monster costume but am only about a quarter of the way through with Cora's, I've got to get busy with that!

... I would jokingly tell you that I think I need to start writing what I wear each day in my calendar. I don't have a huge wardrobe (but it's growing!) but it's still decently sized... I'm pretty sure I accidentally wore the same shirt (different pants and accessories though...) when I met a couple in a birth class, again for their doula interview and yet again when I met them for their first prenatal. This isn't the first time something like this has happened either.

If we were having coffee, what would you share with me?

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Life On Call

One of the biggest adjustments to life as a Birth worker has been life on call. I feel like our family has finally settled into our groove of things but it has undeniably been an adjustment for our friends and extended family too. 

A little bit of what my life looks like as a birth worker over the last 6 months 
(I'm sure there will be more fun tales in the future)...

Getting your doula clothes gathered and laid out because it's beginning to storm (storms really do bring babies!)

Answering text messages and calls at all hours of the day and night.

Keeping a well stocked snack stash in your doula bag, and car, and purse because you've skipped a meal (or three) while with clients.

Driving around with your doula bag and on call bag of clothes every place you go, just in case!

Asking for the check and a box at dinner as you're placing your order, because you know the odds of making it through the meal aren't great.

Taking two cars to church, or to my Dad's or to the store because your client is "warming up". 

Having friends and your sister-in-love "on call" to host a birthday party because your client is past her "guess date". 

Going to so many births back to back that you remember what you did on Monday but now it's Friday and you're just not sure what happened to the rest of the week. Honestly you're impressed when you know the day of the week! 

Waking every 30 minutes for an entire night because you know your client is in labor and it's just a matter of time until you get the call to come.

Being half way home from the grocery store with 2 asleep kids and a trunk full of frozen food when you get called in. 

Perfecting sleeping sitting up and feeling re-energized and ready to concur the world after a quick trip to the bathroom and washing your face after 15 hours of giving every ounce of yourself. 

It's saying "I know" and "you can do it" when it is the absolute truth but doesn't help the exhausted laboring woman. 

There isn't a single thing about this job that is 9-5, unless you count trying to jam all the back office work into typical office hours while being the best work-at-home mom I can be. 

Being a birth worker is more than a job, it's a lifestyle. 
It is exhilarating, exhausting, beautiful, unpredictable, hard, and bittersweet. 

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Long Days, Short Years.

The saying is true. These days are long, so very long; but the years are short! I can hardly believe that my sweet baby is a year old and my big girl is almost three!

This year has been a bit crazy. Well, absolutely crazy.
To recap:
Ada was born at the end of July
at 2 weeks postpartum I started training to be a Birth Doula
at 4 weeks postpartum I started a new job teaching 2 days a week at a Mothers Day Out program the next town over
at 5 weeks postpartum we started suspecting that the limp Cora developed at 2 weeks postpartum was something more serious and she was later diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Until almost December every time someone would ask how old Ada was I would respond 6 weeks old... because I felt like we were in survival mode 100% of the time. God is good, and I'm not complaining, that job was an answered prayer and it was a year of hard work in school but it's paying off now that I'm running my own business and I love it!

In February I finished my training as a Birth Doula and went to my Certification Workshop for a weekend (that weekend was a hoot - if it could go wrong it basically did!)

March through May I worked diligently on getting my business off the ground while still teaching two days a week. In May I had turned down 4 inquiries for doula clients because I couldn't be on call while teaching. I took a leap of faith, literally trusting God that this was His plan for us and said I would not be returning in the fall to teach.

In June I was really worried I'd made a big mistake by giving up my "day job" because I didn't have a single inquiry for doula services. God is good and he had a plan! I was contacted about training to be a Midwife Assistant at a local birth center. It's been a busy summer, I've learned more than I could ever imagine and as of today I have finished my training as a Midwife Assistant and I'm booked for doula clients through the New Year!

I really think the theme for the past 12 months is God is Good, God has a plan and trust God!!

I have really missed blogging. I think about it at least once a week but I just couldn't justify taking taking the time to sit down and write when so many things needed my attention. Life is still busy but I feel like we're coming out of survival mode and learning to live our new normal. Tonight I sat down on the couch and didn't know what to do with myself, I literally finished training as a MA this afternoon when I passed my skills check off for neonatal resuscitation and CPR so I don't have anything to study for the moment. So, blogging it is. I really hope I'm able to keep it up.

I'm glad to be back - how are you?!?

Wednesday, March 16, 2016


Back in January a woman, Laney Sweet, who is a birth doula that lives nearby lost her husband. The DFW metroplex is a big place, but the birth community is small; while we may not all know each other, we usually know of each other and interact in groups online. The loss of her husband has become my nightmare, my literal nightmare, and while my blog doesn't have an expansive reach its time I say something about it. 

You see, Laney's husband Daniel, was murdered by a police officer. 

If you know me, I'm not one to say inflammatory things like murdered by a police officer. I support our police and don't believe they're out to get us. I tie blue ribbons on my car antenna and put a blue line on the back window of my car in support, but the fact is he's a murderer. I've sat around believing that justice will come if we wait for the courts but unfortunately it's looking less and less like that will be the case, because he's a cop. 

Laney and her husband Daniel lived in Fort Worth but Daniel traveled most of the month for work in Pest control. In his line of work, he used large rifle like pellet guns. He was working in Mesa Arizona and staying in a hotel. At the hotel, he had befriended two other people staying for business and they were hanging out in his hotel room eating pizza and playing video games. Sometime during all of this Daniel called Laney to check in. As the testimonies are being told, one of Daniels guests asked what he had in the large case by the window. It was his rifle. So Daniel opened the case and showed it to him. The guy picked it up and looked it over and they went on with their evening. (A perfectly innocent, *legal* evening!)

What they didn't know was out by the pool witnesses saw them through their window with the gun and had hotel staff call the police. Several police officers arrived outside Daniel's hotel room and with guns drawn ask him and his guest to exit the room. (The man that had been holding the rifle had left a few minutes before to call home and check in.) Officers began shouting commands at them. Daniels guest was taken into custody without incident. Daniel was being told to put his hands above his head, to crawl towards the cops and to cross his ankles. He was complying with all of the officers commands and said "please don't shoot me". As he crawled on the floor towards the officers feet he reached back (to pull up his basketball shorts? Trying to comply with the commands to put his hands up? Who knows) and Officer Brailsford took this as a threatening gesture from a man crawling on the floor and shot him five times. 

The next day, Laney hadn't heard from her husband. Work is concerned that he didn't show up. She can't reach him for him to wish their oldest daughter a good day at school, as was their routine. She called the hotel, they wouldn't connect her to his room, instead they gave her the number of a police officer. The police officer wouldn't return her calls or the calls of her frantic family. They called the police station but no one would speak to her and tell her what was going on. Finally she called the Coroner and only then did she receive Condolences and the news that her husband and father of her two children had been murdered. It took several days for the police to get back with her at all. 

As time has gone by, several more facts have unfolded. Like that Officer Brailsford was using a personal weapon when he shot Daniel and on the gun he had it inscribed to say "YOURE FU**ED". He was temporarily put on leave, 3 days I believe, and then cleared to return to work. When the investigation was turned over to authorities other than the Internal Investigations (that Brailsford's father recently retired from....) it was found that he was at fault and he was charged with 2nd degree murder. 

He wasn't taken into custody, but directly charged and appeared in court for the first time on the 15th. There he pled "not guilty". The judge did not place a bail for him to meet to maintain his freedom. What other individual do you know charged with 2nd degree murder that doesn't have to post some kind of bail??? After the hearing the prosecution offered him a plea deal with a lesser charge of Negligent Homicide. If he takes the plea his sentencing will be left to the judge (the same one who has already show preferential treatment) with the minimum being Probation and maximum being 3.75 years in jail. If he takes the plea, a jury will never see the body cam footage of him murdering an innocent man. A father, a husband. 

This is wrong. This is not justice. This could just as easily be my husband John, or your husband, or your brother or my friend. It wasn't like he was innocent but doing something fishy that we can all shake our fingers at and shame him saying oh you shouldn't have... He was living his life and through a huge misunderstanding he was murdered! I would like to think that if my husband, or your husband or Laneys husband were murdered by anyone, including the police, that justice being blind would bring some retribution but that isn't happening here. 

Unfortunately, this gross injustice isn't getting the press coverage you would expect either. According to this reporter who is choosing not to cover it, it is because he's white. So apparently we only care when those with a dark skin tone are killed by police, justifiable or not? I would like to think that my life matters too, that Daniels life mattered even though we are white. ( ) 

This nightmare, this story that sounds too crazy to be true is Laneys reality. 
If you'd like more information, this is the Facebook page ( ) where you can find pictures, articles and anything you want to know about this horrible situation. #JusticeforDaniel

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

New Beginnings - January Goals

When New Years rolls around I usually don't make resolutions. It's just not my thing. Sometimes I'll make goals for the year a few days later on my birthday, so basically New Years resolutions but less about the year and more about personal growth and goals. 

This year I made several resolutions and have many goals of things I want to get done this year. This year it's just different. I feel like I'm finally getting back on top of my life rather than letting life rule me. This is really the first time I've felt this way since about October 2014 when we moved out of our rent house. We moved, which is always a crazy time plus it included tons of work on our project house so we were staying with my dad. Love my father and that he was able to help us in this way but my Dad, Uncle, brother, John, Cora and I under one roof with one bathroom... that was a challenge. Then we learn I'm pregnant in November. Pregnancy, winter (cold and complicating house repairs), prenatal depression... we didn't find a "normal" until almost April. Even then our "normal" was trying to stay on top of our life until Ada's arrival. 

After Ada was born I was sure we'd get out of the fog and find a good, new normal routine but I started training to become a Doula at 1 week postpartum and took a job at 4 weeks postpartum. For months if you asked me how old Ada was I would reply 5 weeks old. It seemed like we got to that point and time stopped turning because we were in survival mode for what seemed like forever. I love my girls with all my being but being a mom of two girls is hard! (and every parent of more than one child said "Amen"... while moms of 3+ are laughing)

Life is finally, not easy, but manageable. I'm so excited to try new things, see what works for us. Start new routines! This year, New Years has felt like a clean slate and a new beginning.

My January Goals are:
- To finish all my required readings for Doula Training!
- To blog at least 4 times
- To get caught up on housework
- Plan a Date Night for our 5th Anniversary!

In my 2015 Year in Review Post I listed my New Years Resolutions as:

- To increase our savings account for building our house (we have a specific goal, I'm just not sharing it here for the world to see :) )
- To eliminate (again...) some of our unsecured debt (medical, credit card). 
I have personally set goals of: 
- Running a mile without stopping (one of my goals on my 101 list)
- To improve my language (I don't curse much but I don't want Cora and Ada picking up and saying words like "shut up" "stupid" etc.)
- I'm giving up cokes entirely (wahhhh!)
- Cutting back on the paper products we are using in the house and to start recycling again.  
- To be intentional with the girls. We're planning to do a homeschool preschool program next fall, so I need to start planning that out and getting prepared. We'd like to start having a family devotional together with the girls too.
For my business and blog:
- Have 4 doula clients by year end
- To blog more. I haven't decided exactly how to measure this but I wish I had spent more time blogging this year. Mommy of 2 and Doula training has created a bit of a blogging time challenge. 
I'm also really looking forward to marking some of my goals off of my 101 List

Did you make any New Years Resolutions?
What are your January goals?

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Ada Mayme - Birth Story

Ada is 5 months old now and I have finally finished writing her birth story. It's long and involves birth and associated details (and images) so if that's not your thing, please skip this post!
If you'd like to read it, you can find Cora's birth story Parts 1, 2 and 3.

On Wednesday, July 22 at 10:41 pm Ada entered this world and made us the proud parents of two beautiful girls.

L&D Day

My estimated due date had been Saturday July 18 and much to my surprise there were next to no signs that Ada would be making her arrival any time soon. We saw Kathy, my Midwife, the day before my due date and she did a cervical check & swept my membranes. I was 4 cm, 40% effaced but at a -3 station. I wasn't having any useful contractions that would be effective at bringing Ada down, while I was grateful to not be experiencing prodromal labor like I had with Cora, it was frustrating that we weren't seeing any signs that my body was preparing for labor. Earlier that week I had come down with some nasty virus that gave me a high fever (for being 39 weeks pregnant) that I just couldn't kick so I spent a day in Labor & Delivery getting fluids and monitoring baby.

After that ordeal and the fact that Ada wasn't moving a bunch (passing kick counts, but she was always pretty mellow with her movements & my anterior placenta liked to hide them, plus running out of room...) Kathy scheduled me for a Non Stress Test on the following Tuesday (3 days past EDD).
My "guess date"

The weekend, my due date & Monday all came and went with no labor signs to speak of. John decided to work from home Tuesday to be with me for the NST and to hand hold as I planned to also have my membranes swept again, this time by the other Midwife, Holly, who according to Kathy has "magic fingers". Ada gave us a bit of a scare as she totally failed her first non stress test. We were pretty sure she was just asleep, but our best attempts to wake her with Holly pinching her foot, juice and crackers weren't working. Holly & Kathy stood over the NST tape with concerned looks & sent me out for a good lunch and to come back & try again. We found it hysterically amusing and ironic that two midwives who discourage sugary drinks like Gatorade told me I should drink a coke with lunch! After a nice burrito from Chipotle and the coke they really had to twist my arm over, Ada passed her 2nd NST with flying colors. At my cervical check I was found to be at 5 cm, 50% effaced, still -3 station but she could feel my bag of waters bulging. We did the sweep & they talked to me about making sure that I called as soon as I was in labor to give everyone time to get to the birth center since we were all 30 + minutes out. Holly was adamant that I'd go quickly once contractions started.

We went home grateful that Ada was healthy and we weren't faced with needing to induce and give up my natural out of hospital birth. That evening I had some contractions. They were "real" enough to justify timing them but I was pretty sure they were associated with the sweep from earlier that day & knew deep down it wasn't the real deal. I didn't bother to tell anyone other than John.

Wednesday rolled around and Cora was kind enough to let me sleep in a bit. The morning went by uneventfully. I had a few contractions, again like the night before they were real but not close together at all. Nothing out of the ordinary for being 40 + 4. After lunch, Cora and I laid down for a nap together on the couch. As I laid there I started doing a mental kick count but kept loosing track because her kicks were so far apart. I usually did kick counts at nap time since she was usually pretty active after lunch but I figured I'd just try again after I'd slept a bit.

After our nap we got up and Cora
played while I put away laundry and did a few chores. John called at 3:00 and said he was headed home early, that he was distracted and he'd just finish working at home that evening. At that point I had just had 2 or 3 back to back contractions that required my full attention and moaning helped focus so I was beginning to suspect that early labor was on the horizon. I kept with my tidying the house and put dinner in the crock pot (cheese ravioli) to keep my mind busy and was so glad John was going to beat traffic headed home. 

My Dad texted me at about 4:15 to suggest that I hang out at his house the next day. He was nervous that I was alone and an extra 15 minutes out from him if I went into labor when John was at work. I was sure enough that early labor had begun that I admitted the contractions to him. I didn't do that lightly as I didn't want to create any undue worry. At the same time I was getting really antsy for John to get home already (and I was really regretting asking him to stop & get me Gatorade before he got home). I called him but he didn't answer much to my displeasure, he was in the store purchasing my Gatorade and called right back, he was just a few minutes from home - thank goodness!

I hadn't been timing contractions up to this point but decided I should start so I could recognize any patterns to the waves. When John walked in the door I was leaning on the couch, moaning through a contraction as Cora danced around the living room in her diaper with a pair of pajamas on her head like a hat. I quickly drank one of the Gatorade John brought home and knew I needed to get in the shower. Between hydrating and the shower, I knew it would officially be the real deal if the contractions didn't stop. Just before getting in the shower I texted Sarah, my doula to let her know what was going on since she had the furthest drive into us and kiddos to make childcare arrangements for.

John worked on tidying the house and getting bags loaded in the car while I showered. The warm shower slowed my contractions but I was certainly in labor. After I got out I notified the rest of my birth team that I was in labor (6:15). I rode out a couple of contractions but they weren't bad at all. I was able to handle them on my own easily. We decided this would be a good time for John to take Cora to my Dad's house. I gave my baby hugs and kisses as John carried her out the door with promises that "when I see you again, Sissy will be here!".
John hadn't been gone long at all and my very next contraction was really hard. I was beginning to panic that I needed his support and round trip to my dads house is about 30 minutes. I called John & asked him to please hurry. Then I called my dad to make sure that he was waiting for John at the street so John could immediately come home. My next several contractions weren't nearly as bad, but I was glad to have John back. We spent about the next hour with me alternating labor positions standing and swaying or sitting on my birth ball while John finished up some stuff for the office.
(the picture of me above is eating dinner between contractions as I swayed on my birth ball)

In between contractions I was second guessing my labor and myself. I was handling most of them leaning over, hips swaying and quietly moaning. Occasionally I'd have one hard enough to ask John to help with double hip squeezes. It just didn't feel challenging enough. I don't know if it was just that I was better equipped this time around since I had done this once before, or if maybe my labor just wasn't as difficult? Maybe all that red raspberry leaf tea I had drank did its job in making my uterus strong? Whatever the reason, it left me feeling that I didn't need to go to the Birth Center yet, I was pretty sure I hadn't had hard enough contractions to dilate further but I knew my midwives were antsy about how quickly I'd progress, especially if my water broke. I was however worried about the drive to Inanna, the birth center, it's about 25 minutes away and I know from experience that riding in a car during labor is pretty awful.

I picked up my phone to text Kathy that we'd go ahead and come in and saw that she had just texted me at 7:10 saying she needed to go check on another laboring mom and to see how I was doing. I called her back and told her we were coming in but only because I was nervous about the drive & that she should have plenty of time to take care of the other mom. She said she'd call in Holly just to make sure all our bases were covered.  I told Sarah we were headed in & she said she'd see us there. I triple checked that we had everything off the last minute labor grab list, gathered up a pillow to hold on the drive, and a towel and absorbent pad to put in my seat just in case my water broke on the way. I wasn't in any particular hurry, I rode out a couple of contractions leaning on the hood of our car. John finally got me loaded in the van and away we went.

Just off our street I tried texting Kathy to let her know we were actually on our way. My brain was foggy and I couldn't remember if that had been clear in our phone conversation before. As I texted a contraction started and I somehow ended up calling her. Since she got to hear me work through a contraction on the phone she decided she better stay at the Birth Center and another midwife was sent to tend to the laboring mom two towns away (poor momma, throughout the night I'd occasionally hear Kathy on the phone getting updates from a nurse on her. Each time her response was "give it another hour then call me back and we'll see where she is" sounded like a less than fun labor!). On the drive I also texted Kaity, our birth photographer, letting her know we were headed in but to wait until I was checked to come. I was certain this was still going to take a while. 

I had maybe 3 contractions the whole way to the birth center and other than the one on the awful bumpy road that Kathy got to hear me work through, none of them were all that hard. I was beginning to second guess my decision to go in, just sure I was wasting everyone's time. At Inanna, Lauren, my birth assistant (who we know from church as she kept Cora in nursery) met me in the parking lot. She got me inside to Kathy while John got all our stuff inside. Kathy did a check and I was at 6 cm and 80% effaced so progress had been made but I was disappointed it wasn't more. I just wanted this all over with. Sarah arrived as Kathy went to track down a thermometer and to see if the birthing room was ready. Holly arrived somewhere in all of this too. Lauren came and took us into the birthing room and we started getting set up. Lauren put our frozen chicken & dumpling casserole in the oven for my post-birth meal. I told her I expected it to take about an hour and a half in the oven so we might want to wait. Everyone disagreed and thought it aught to go in then, they were all just sure this was going to be quick. There was even a discussion of getting something from a restaurant because the casserole may not be done in time (which I seriously doubted). 

John put on my labor playlist (Pandora's Praise & Worship station), Lauren was tending to her tasks and sang along quietly to the songs. While I went to the restroom, John and Sarah got the essential oil diffuser going (lavender & lemon). During all of this Lauren asked if I wanted her to fill the tub for a water birth. I told her that I'd likely want to labor in it some and definitely do an herbal bath after the birth but that I didn't plan on a water birth. If it happened okay, but my heart wasn't set on it, so she started the process of filling the huge bathtub.

I had contractions here and there but again, nothing all that awful. I'm not sure if they were getting longer/closer because John & I weren't timing them anymore but I didn't notice a progressive change. John would do hip squeezes in contractions, we'd slow dance. I spent a couple on the birth ball with Sarah massaging my back as I read over my birth affirmations on the bed in front of me.

Kathy had me squat through a few, which I found to be pretty uncomfortable, but of course that's because it made the contraction far more effective. She also told me she would break my water whenever I was ready. I discussed it with John and we knew it would speed things up, which I wanted but I also knew it would make my contractions more intense. We decided to give it 30 minutes, see where I was at & decide then. We kept at this for the next half hour. It was a very peaceful environment during contractions, I would chat and cut up with the birth team between contractions. I was content but really felt kind of like I was the watch pot everyone was waiting on to start boiling and I wanted the process to be over with already. 

The half hour passed quickly and about that time I had a couple of hard contractions back to back. John helped me to the bathroom. As I slowly scooted into the bathroom with John's help (I was finally having the frequent, hard contractions I'd been expecting), Kaity arrived and I gave her a quick hello. Movement triggered several more close together contractions. Labor was reaching my "hard" memories.

We left the bathroom and went to the bed. Kathy checked and I was at 7 cm and maybe 80% effaced (I don't remember exactly the effacement).

I didn't feel like I should be beyond that based on the work of my contractions but it's still frustrating to hear you aren't progressing quickly to the end of the process you so desperately want to be finished with. I was also nervous about whether or not Ada had passed meconium in her water as Cora had. If we were going to have potential complications from that I didn't want to find out at 10 cm like before. So, we broke my waters. No meconium!! During all of this I was rather annoyed with my hair on my neck, I suddenly remembered that I'd seen Sarah with her hair French braided and between contractions ask her if she could pull my hair back. We all had a big laugh that my hair is what I was thinking about at that moment. Breaking my waters didn't immediately change my dilation/effacement and I decided to get in the tub for a change of pace. 

Once in the tub I felt much more relaxed. Sarah braided my hair and John poured water over my belly in contractions. At Lauren's suggestion I moved to the other end of the tub to use the shower sprayer on my belly in contractions. That was so helpful!

We labored in the tub like this for what felt like forever. I was definitely in transition and my thoughts weren't bright and happy anymore. I knew what was coming. This was about to get a lot harder and then it would only be more and more difficulty until finally it was over. That was one of the big differences between my first and second labor. I knew what was happening, I feel like I almost knew too much making it harder to get out of my own head and deal with each contraction as it came. 

After a couple of particularly miserable contractions Kathy checked my progress. I can't remember if I asked her to check,or if she offered when she was checking heart tones but I wanted to know my progress. I was only at an 8. This is when birth became much of a mental game. I knew too much. I had too much "book knowledge" about birth. In my mind I was calculating that a rough estimate would be a centimeter per hour so I was thinking that I had another 2 hours of this hard labor. The old saying is true though. When you think you can't anymore, it's because you're right there at the finish line. In hindsight, I only had another 30 minutes or so of labor.

John and Sarah kept cool rags on my neck and forehead. My next few contractions I had to work really hard to hold it together emotionally. I wanted it over and all those painful contractions had only brought me to an 8. I wanted to cry out that I couldn't do this, but I knew I could. I wanted to quit, but the only way out of this is to go through this. I regained some emotional control and had John read me some of my birth affirmation cards while Sarah took over the water sprayer. This helped so much. Listening to him say words of Truth that I will come through this and it is just temporary were such restorative words. I would focus on the lyrics of the worship songs, thinking through them between contractions. I would ride the waves of contractions that we're getting longer and longer requiring multiple breaks to gather more breath to maintain my moan. My internal montra was the same as it had been with Cora's birth "Strength, God give me Strength".

 I told Kathy I was feeling "pushy" after a long contraction. Kathy gave me the go ahead to blow the baby down with practice pushes to help take the edge off the contractions. This helped the pain, giving each wave a tangible purpose that I could work with it. John joined me by sitting in the corner with his feet down in the tub giving me his hand to hold in the waves. It went on like this for several more contractions, I'm not sure exactly how many. I knew I was getting close based on what I felt and I could hear everyone moving and shifting around getting ready for delivery. In a contraction I had an overwhelming urge to push. I wanted to make sure they knew I was really pushing and I couldn't tell if they knew based on my moan. I made a rather loud announcement to the room in general that I was "Pushing!!". 

Kathy and Holly came to the tub, Holly was telling me to get into the pushing position they had told me about earlier when I got in the tub. I could feel the next contraction rising up in me as I began to move and really didn't want to move. I don't know if I told Holly "no" but I was sure thinking it. She reached over to me, grabbed me by the shoulders and pulled me into position as the contraction began. I locked my feet into place grabbed John's arms and pushed with the wave.

As I pushed Holly exclaimed to Kathy that "she's coming!". Coming she was! The contraction ended and I could feel Ada retreating back so I flexed and held her in place waiting for the next wave. There was some chatter about making sure Kathy didn't fall in with me. The next wave came, Sarah reminded me to open my eyes. I used all my might and pushed her head out after a big rupture of fluids. One more push and she was here! Kathy caught her and pulled her right up onto my chest! Her time of birth was 10:41 pm.

I was beyond happy to have my baby here in my arms! I could hear John quietly crying behind me as I settled down In the water holding our baby. She was crying and everything was perfect!!

They draped warm towels over her and we were snuggling enjoying our first moments together. I'm not sure what all was going on in the room but I heard either Lauren or Holly say something about "oh, your placenta is coming already" with an obvious air of surprise. I looked down and sure enough the remaining water was quickly turning bright red. I knew from my doula training and first birth that this was a bit quick to already have my placenta come. 

They checked the cord, it had stopped pulsing and was white so it was clamped and John got to cut the cord. I passed Ada out of the tub to her Daddy's waiting arms and then was helped from the tub.

 There was a lot of blood coming already and I wasn't at all cold but from the moment I stood I began badly shaking (which was probably more hormonal than anything). They got me to the bed and John brought Ada to me to be skin to skin as he laid on the bed next to me. The placenta came quickly but it felt like I was birthing the placenta over and over again with waves of blood and clots gushing out of me. Holly, Kathy and Lauren were constantly working on me to get the bleeding to stop. Sarah stood at the foot of the bed handing my midwives supplies. 

Holly came up to my side and checked Ada's lungs, she was kind of grunting rather than that typical newborn cry. We suctioned from her mouth some and that let Ada cry out like they wanted.

Just a bit later Lauren came up to my side & explained that Holly needed to check me for clots or retained placenta. I have to say, this experience was worse than birth. This is the part I wish I had drugs for the pain. The hemorrhage sometimes indicates retained placenta but it was complete, I was passing some larger clots. Lauren was sweet and explained that Holly would need to put a couple of fingers inside me to check for those clots trying to prepare me for what was next. Well I'm here to tell you that she had those 2 fingers, plus her whole hand and a good bit of her arm in me clearing out clots. I'm so glad Lauren didn't exactly describe what was about to happen.

She cleared many clots but the bleeding wasn't stopping with the manual removal (while my fundus was being pressed on from the outside - a very hard physical massage of the top of my belly). They administered pitocin with an emergency shot to my thigh while Kathy got an IV going in my arm. They repeated the manual removal a couple more times (it's a bit fuzzy I'm not sure how many times this was done) and though I had now received two more doses of Pitocin through the IV my bleeding was still very concerning. I was given two doses of Cytotec which also failed at stopping the hemorrhage. Finally as a last resort before calling for emergency hospital transport a dose of oral Methergine did the trick. 

It's not a pretty picture, but John snapped this shot as they were working on me, I was not handling the pain very well (as you can see...). For the next several days the back of my head hurt from pushing it back into the headboard while they worked on me. I found it amusing to take stock of the sore muscles and random bruises I had acquired and compare them to the ones I got while birthing Cora. It's seriously a full body workout! 

I choose to birth naturally without drugs and only certain interventions but I believe Western medicine has a time & a place. I'm so grateful for the access to drugs we had as they certainly saved my life. It took three separate drugs and about an hour of constant care and treatment to get my bleeding to slow to an acceptable pace and I stayed on the methergine for the next 72 hours. I'm a prefect example of the emergencies that they're fully equipped to handle at birth centers! 

At 12:21 I went to the bathroom since I was finally stable and Kathy did Ada's newborn check.

Ada's birth was so different from Coralie's in so many ways! I loved birthing out of hospital and the freedom that allowed me. I loved going home a few hours after birth and sleeping in my own bed! Birth is such a beautiful and natural thing - I am so blessed to have the opportunity to bring my precious daughters into the world! 

The next morning with both my babies!

I've been asked if I would birth out of the hospital again and I plan to! I have always wanted a home birth but that won't be possible for me. We simply live too far from a hospital and it would just take too long to get an ambulance to us if we needed emergency transport. I absolutely will use a birth center again though and cannot imagine having a hospital birth again! Knowing that I'm a high risk for repeat hemorrhage we will balance some preventative measures that you would find in a hospital setting with some of the freedom of birth center. I'll choose to have a hep lock put into place as soon as I arrive at the birth center in labor so that if they need access for an IV the line is already established. We'll also do some homeopathic prevention during labor. I will drink some very concentrated Red Raspberry Leaf tea (and be religious about drinking it throughout pregnancy with more regularity than before) and there have been some studies that show that Dates are a natural hemorrhage preventative so they'll be a big part of my diet before and during labor.

Even with the complications, this was a beautiful day and I have no regrets. I look back on Cora's birth and have remorse about how certain things were handled under hospital policy. I seriously question whether a NICU stay would have been necessary at all had she been born out of hospital. With Ada's birth I'm confident that the interventions I received were warranted and done with consent. It was a much better birthing experience and I'm already looking forward to when the Lord blesses us with another and that baby's delivery!

Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 a Year in Review

This has been a tradition for the past couple of years. One of my favorite blog posts to write. See previous years: 2013 2014
What did you do in 2015 that you’d never done before?
I became a mom of 2 (making me a mommy of 2 under 2 for a few months), had an out of hospital birth, started my education and journey towards being a Birth Doula
Did you keep your new years’ resolutions? Will you make more in 2016?
I didn't make any, I usually make some version of a goal list on my birthday which is just 4 days after new years. I completed many of the 101 goals I set for myself on my birthday last year.
This year John and I have set some financial resolutions: 
  • To increase our savings account for building our house (we have a specific goal, I'm just not sharing it here for the world to see :) )
  • To eliminate (again...) some of our unsecured debt (medical, credit card). 
I have personally set goals of: 
  • Running a mile without stopping (one of my goals on my 101 list)
  • To improve my language (I don't curse much but I don't want Cora and Ada picking up and saying words like "shut up" "stupid" etc.)
  • I'm giving up cokes entirely (wahhhh!)
  • Cutting back on the paper products we are using in the house and to start recycling again.  
  • To be intentional with the girls. We're planning to do a homeschool preschool program next fall, so I need to start planning that out and getting prepared. We'd like to start having a family devotional together with the girls too.
For my business and blog:
  • Have 4 doula clients by year end
  • To blog more. I haven't decided exactly how to measure this but I wish I had spent more time blogging this year. Mommy of 2 and Doula training has created a bit of a blogging time challenge.

Did anyone close to you give birth?
Yes - me! My good friend Angela had her second and my oldest friend Kimmi had her first! 

Did anyone close to you die?
We lost my Great Uncle Junior recently. He was a WWII Veteran, a wonderful man and he leaves behind a large and loving family. (Uncle Junior in the middle on the left)

          What countries did you visit?
We stayed right in the good ol USA this year. After traveling quite a bit last year, we didn't even leave the state this year. We have a cruise planned for April, hopefully Ada will figure out the bottle/sippy cup so we can actually go! 

What would you like to have in 2016 that you lacked in 2015?
I look forward to having another vegetable garden! My current contract with the Children's Day out I'm teaching at ends in late May and I'm really looking forward to re-establishing a stay-at-home mom routine. I'll be working full time for my own business but I'm so excited that this job is flexible to my schedule! 

What date from 2015 will remain etched upon your memory?
July 22, 2015 - Ada Mayme's birth!

What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I have survived parenting 2 kiddos for 5 months so far. This has by far been the biggest challenge of my life! I'm proud of my work in becoming a Doula and making the leap of faith in going into business for myself! 

What was your biggest failure?
It has really been a good year. Very mellow but lots of changes with pregnancy, birth, parenting two while balancing a new job and school. 
The only thing I look back on and am disappointed with is early in pregnancy while I struggled emotionally I wish I had been more compassionate and loving with Cora. While I really wish I handled that all better, I don't know what I could have done differently, maybe identify the depression sooner? Not really a failure but a remorse. I wish I savored the time with one child and the ease of life in general that goes with that.... Again, not a failure but a life lesson I suppose.

Did you suffer illness or injury in the year?
Right after writing this last year both Cora and I got sick, for almost a whole month! What I thought was a cold with sniffles turned into a full blown lay in bed for days illness. I still look back and cringe. It was awful and I got a great big dose of how hard it is to parent while being sick yourself and the cherry on top was how sick she was too so she was extra clingy and needy when I wanted to be left alone the most. Looking back, that was also the beginning of my perinatal depression which lasted into the spring (about the time I finally got Cora weaned). 

Cora had a Febrile Seizure this past spring. It was really scary but she has had fevers since and has not had another seizure so hopefully she is in the 70 % that doesn't have a second seizure. 

This past October Cora was diagnosed with Juvenile Rhumatoid (or Idiopathic) Arthritis. We're still  wrapping our heads around what this diagnosis will mean for her. As of now it is localized to her right knee. (I've been meaning to get around to blogging about this, maybe I'll actually get it out of my drafts folder and published soon)
What was the best thing you bought?
My daughter! So, I didn't really purchase her but her birth was sure plenty expensive! It is all paid off though so there's that! 

We got an iPad and I love it! I didn't think it would be all that great, I had used a Galaxy Tab for a while in the past and didn't love it and assumed the iPad would be the same. I was wrong, it is wonderful! It's officially a business purchase and will be an essential part of my mobile office and since my personal laptop has seen better days (aka a particular toddler seriously screwed it up) I needed it for studying etc. 

Whose behavior merited celebration?
 I'm proud of how Cora has transitioned to being a big sister. There have been little things here and there that tell me she doesn't love always having to share her mommy's time but her behavior over all has been stellar!
Where did most of your money go?
Medical debt, Pregnancy/Delivery, School, Stuff for Cora & Ada.  

What did you get really excited about?
Ada's birth!
Joshua came home for almost 2 weeks after over a year in Japan!  

What song will always remind you of 2015?
I'm not really up to date on music, or really anything pop culture. I can now sing several of the songs for Little Einsteins and hear the Barney song in my sleep.

Compared to this time last year, are you:
Happier or sadder? 

Thinner or fatter?
Probably fatter. Breastfeeding hasn't been the miraculous diet it was when I fed Cora.  

Richer or poorer?
Definitely poorer, but very richly blessed!

What do you wish you’d done more of?
I come back to this every year. I miss my friends and wish to be more intentional with seeing them. This has been particularly hard and I haven't seen much of any friends since the end of my pregnancy and then before I was really getting out again I took a new job. You wouldn't think working 2-3 days a week would take up all your time but it does pretty much drain my free time. I've really learned that it's crucial to put things on the calendar! John and I weren't really spontaneous or good at doing last minute things before but now that we have children this is even more the case. 

What do you wish you’d done less of?
Watching TV. It is my biggest time suck and I find that I'm so much more productive when the television is off but I like the "company" and it helps keep me sane without adults to talk to. 

How will you be spending Christmas?
We really worked on establishing family Christmas traditions this year. Christmas Eve we went over to my Dads house and I did some baking (in a toaster and roaster oven because his oven went out the week before...) and food prep. We had a late lunch of finger foods and then went to church for Christmas Eve Services (those were quite memorable as our church as under a bomb threat). We went back to Dads for our traditional dinner of Chicken Noodle Soup and Cornbread. We opened our stockings that we all stuffed for each other (a new tradition so the responsibility didn't all fall to me, yay!) and opened our gifts from the name exchange we did before Thanksgiving. The girls got their gifts from My family & pajamas from John & me.

Christmas Day we got up and the girls got their gifts and stockings from Santa and their Want, Need, Wear, Read gifts from us. After playing some we loaded the girls up with some of their new toys and headed to my Aunt & Uncles house for the day.

The Day after Christmas we went to John's mom & step-fathers apartment to celebrate with them. 

Did you fall in love in 2014?
With my new beautiful daughter!

How many one-night stands?
I looked back to last year to see how I answered it then (no, no adultery here...)
So to quote last year, the same answer applies this year "bahaha... no" 

Who were your best friends?
Angela, Lauren, Kimmi, Kim & Tiffany
What thing did you do that was meaningful to others?
I hope that I am able to do many day to day things that are helpful and meaningful for others. Things that come to mind, co-hosted a baby sprinkle for my friend Angela, a baby shower for Kimmi, I gifted a couple of meals for families with new babies.

What were your favorite TV shows?
Well, we haven't had TV service since May 2014 so I haven't watched much network television. I have watched lots of Netflix and Amazon Prime and Hulu though. Some of the shows I've binge watched through our streaming services - the Walking Dead, Weeds, the West Wing, Jane the Virgin, Blacklist, Fixer Upper, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmit, Chasing Life (so sad this was cancelled!!), Girlfriends Guide to Divorce, Game of Thrones and probably my favorite from the year, Bloodline.  I've been hit or miss on trying to keep up with streaming some of my favorite network television shows by streaming after they're released, Greys Anatomy, Scandal, The Good Wife, How to Get Away with Murder, Brooklyn 99, Madam Secretary.
Ugh... Refer to the wish I had done less of point...

Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Nope. It's been a mellow, drama free year! I have some people getting on my nerves, getting some distance will be key but hate is too strong a word for that mess.

What was the best book you read in 2014?
In the spring when I was an insomniac I read the whole Sookie Stackhouse series (what True Blood is based on). After that I started reading for my Doula training. I've really enjoyed The Birth Book by Dr & Mrs. Sears but that's not terribly exciting for a non birth junky. So also births bit more mainstream would be Cut, Stapled and Mended by R. Rosewood and Probably my favorite, Baby Catcher by Peggy Vincent.

What was your greatest musical discovery?
Well, not a particular song but I discovered that I can stream Pandora on our TV. Streaming their Praise & Worship station really helps to keep us happier and less crazy during the evenings surrounding the girls witching hours. 

What did you want and get?
To start Doula training! 

What did you want but did not get?
I have a long list of stuff. Honestly many of them are actual needs. I need to replace most of my shoes. I cleaned out my wardrobe (most of it was worn out anyway) so I need new clothes. The list goes on & on like that but as far as significant things, I can't think of anything.  

What were your favorite films this year?
I can't even remember the last time I went to see a movie...

What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
My 26th birthday was pretty blah last year. We were all sick. I finally hauled my sick self off the couch at my dads house and dressed in time for dinner at Chuys. It was just John, Cora, John's cousin Drew & myself that went. 

What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
If we could get more work done on our house. It has a never ending list of things needing to be done and I really really miss entertaining and having friends over. After an overhaul of the bathroom I think we're going to suck it up and call it "good enough" and start having friends over again. Did I mention I miss entertaining?

What kept you sane?
Who says I'm sane?? 
Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Celebrity, none really. I go all fan girl and get excited about meeting Doulas and various Birth Workers that are long established and a "big deal" in the birth community both locally and nationally. I've had the pleasure of meeting and corresponding with some ladies who write big deal blogs in the natural birth community and are very influential in the organization I'm certifying through. 

What political issue stirred you the most?
The first thing that comes to mind is the attacks on Paris. I'm just not convinced we are doing enough to stop ISIS but I'm not sure why the answer is. I'm very concerned that America will be the target of another big attack soon. I pray continuously for the world my daughters will be living in as they get older. 
I have been really excited by Ben Carsons campaign for President. My Political Science brain and skepticism kick into play and I'm just not sure he can win, but he has my support! I think it's really cool that he is truly a statesman, a regular person who has made a real go at running for the highest office in our country. Don't get me started on all the ways I dislike Trump & feel like his campaign is hurting the Republican Party. 
I hope to get re-involved with our local Republican Party this spring with the primary elections. 
Who do you miss?
I miss my friends. A lot!
I really miss Joshua being home! I never knew how much I appreciated having him around all the time until he was off doing the Marine thing.  
I miss Jacob & Stephanie and really hope they move closer asap! 

I have missed my mom so, so, so much this year. While transitioning to a mom of 2, dealing with crazy crap with our house and working towards a JRA diagnosis for Cora (read: a sick and hurting 2 year old while I had a newborn needing lots of attention) I missed her more than I ever have before. More than I did on my Wedding Day, more than I did having Cora and becoming a mom for the first time. I grieved for her all over again. Grieving for the loss of having her here with me now. I would never wish her back from her Eternal home with our Father but I am sure sad without her. 

Who are the best new persons you met this year?
I really like my co-workers! I love working in a Christian environment with these Christian ladies. Several of them go to church with us so that's really nice that there are more familiar faces at Church. My boss, Angie, is a real gem. She's so sweet and understanding. She really puts her employees first and has such a heart for God.
Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2015.
Don't plan a vacation while pregnant with a baby and you don't know for sure that they'll take a bottle.
Okay for real though, God has a plan for us. Sometimes the plan is a temporary stop-gap to get you to His ultimate plan and it's okay to have things for the here and now. Not everything has to be forever (jobs, plans, houses etc.)
I also learned to follow my mommy gut and trust my instincts. It would have been really easy to just accept Cora's limp as a part of life, just a weird quirk or injury that would go away. I'm so glad we stuck to our guns and got her to the specialists to get an accurate diagnosis.
Quote that sums up the year:
I just asked John what my response for this should be. He said "be fruitful and multiply". I say that's certainly not a quote for 2016 ;) 
Commit your way to the Lord: trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. 
- Psalm 37:5-6