Thursday, September 26, 2013

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Mia's Birth Story

Alright kids, get some popcorn and settle in.  31 hours post broken water, and almost zero sleep for 48, Mia finally came. Here's how it went down.

Wednesday, May 8th
Today my “bloody show” (if you will) started coming out ever so slowly.  

I didn’t tell Joel till the end of the day.  I knew it might not mean anything…I knew this could last days or weeks.  We were 17 days from my due date.   The majority of first time births come 8 days past the due date, my natural childbirth instructor taught us.  We were mentally prepared for, and expecting to go 26 more days.

Thursday, May 9th
I woke up feeling a little weird.  I took a shower, and in a split second I saw the entire rest of my “show” come out and go down the drain.  Later I sat at my breakfast bar stool watching Joel make his breakfast, told him what I just saw, and that I felt weird. 

I went to work like normal, but still feeling this weirdness (I really can’t think of another way to put it), I also felt a surge of focus and adrenaline.  I decided to knock off everything on my pre-baby to-do list today – something I planned on taking at least another week. I worked harder and more focused than I think I ever have ...“work nesting” we’ll call it.  As I finished up for the day, I even wiped down and dusted my desk area and completely de-cluttered – something I only do on non-busy Fridays or before a big vacation.

I came home and got about 50 more things done, including reading the entire car seat manual and installing it – for the first time.  I left it in the car, and Joel and I joked that driving around with an empty car seat would be “like practice.”

Joel got to bed at 10, and I stayed up trying to come off of my adrenaline rush.  I finally felt tired around 11:30 and got into bed.  While I’m trying to fall asleep I felt some light cramps.  All the sudden I feel a sharp pain at what feels like my cervix (I have no idea).  I winced out loud and Joel woke up and whispers, “what?”  I say “nothing.”  Twenty seconds later I feel a gush of fluid, that scene my birth instructor said “only happens in movies.”  I got up from bed and tried to walk the 8 steps to the bathroom with my knees together (as successfully as you can imagine) and started saying “shit” over and over.  By this time Joel has sat up and says impatiently “What!” 

“Well, my water broke.”

And all of the sudden, we have Zero idea what to do.  Our class’s “scenario generator” had little to say about the rare water-breaking-before-labor-beginning situation.  Again…only in movies does this happen, they say.

We couldn’t figure out- does this mean we go straight to the hospital?  Or do we wait it out here?  What the heck do we do?

Friday, May 10th
We called our Doula at midnight, who happened to be at another birth.  The Luck! She told us to stick around home and get some rest for as long as possible.  So that is what we did….not do.

I went to sit on a pile of towels on our recliner, to save our Westin Heavenly from any more fluids.  Which, by the way, kept coming out. And out. And out. This, I did not expect nor did I read ANYWhere, thankyouverymuch every “The Top 10 Things Nobody Tells You About Childbirth” blog posts / childbirth class / the internet.

I tried to fall asleep but of course couldn’t.  Contractions were coming every 7-25 minutes…very irregular, and what I know now by comparison to be “mildly” painful.  I urged Joel – who has, like, a black belt in falling asleep, to get as much sleep as he can (after a pre-emptive Gatorade run to the apparently  “sketchy-ass” 7-11). 

He went into the bedroom, and I emailed all my co-workers every tiny detail I could think of for all the things I had left hanging.   Twenty minutes later Joel came out with the baby name book.

“Should we pick out some middle names?” he asked.  “No sleep??” I asked.  Obviously not.

We did not know the baby’s sex, so we had 2 boy and 2 girl names picked out.  We had not, however, decided on any middle names just yet.  So, we went through the book and picked out a middle name for each of our 4 options while I ate ¾ box of dry Life Cereal from my chair.  At about this time I remember that the car seat is all ready to go and congratulate myself on some dang good timing.

Needless to say we got little sleep that night…Joel about 3 hours, myself about half that.

We called my OB at 6am.  He was not on call this weekend, but assured us that he’d be as present as possible.  He knows we want to go the natural route, and from what we could tell, he also knows that the OB on call would not be as “excited” about this birth plan.  Bless him.

He told us to come into the hospital at 10am.  We knew we wanted to wait as loooong as possible before going in, and after greeting neighbors on a walk around the hood, we went in around 11:30am. 

Our doula, after getting about 3 hours of sleep after attending a birth the night before, meets us in triage and we all “hang out” trying to get my labor to progress.  I make many lunging trips around triage, go up and down the stairs, and stop for breaks to watch the Mother’s Day edition of Ellen – how appropriate.  My contractions weren’t really doing anything different, which obviously nobody liked. 

 Here's us with our snacks in triage, and me not near real labor.

Four hours later a Labor and Delivery room finally opened up and we got to settle in.  We had a nurse there who was an angel from heaven – an L&D veteran who loved a good natural birth.  She encouraged everything to try to progress labor, and I mean “everything”, if you know what I mean.  “Surprisingly” I wasn’t in the mood, I told her. 

It was 6:30pm and my OB had been encouraging us to take some Pitocin to get labor to progress for the past 3 hours (progression at this point is imperative since my water broke and there was a risk for infection, which is dangerous for the baby).  We finally gave in after some delay tactics, (and after he came in to talk it through face-to-face to make sure we weren’t trying to be idiots by going “all natural” for the hell of it) and compromised on using less Pitocin, less often than standard procedure.

This is when labor really began.  We put Pandora on Ingrid Michaelson (after a failed Dave Matthews Band attempt) and got to work.  I do not remember one contraction where I didn’t have 4 hands touching my body…rubbing my back, arms, neck, hips, etc.  Joel and Laura – the doula- put in some work.  When they say natural childbirth is hard work, it is truly hard work for all involved.

I put some serious miles on that birth ball.

Saturday, May 11th
Around 2am things started heating up more and Laura set up the bath for me and Joel to get in and try some bath laboring.  She set up fake candles to create a peaceful space and we got in, and all I could think about was how much this sucked. I could feel Joel behind me and I could tell he was getting incredibly uncomfortable in this warm tub.  He got out, and I get into a position facing the side, and Laura came and sat outside the tub rubbing my back while I labored some more.

At this point Joel came back and asked if it would be OK if he called somebody to come help for a bit…I can tell he is getting weary.  Of course, I said, and we make a short list of the people he will call until someone answers. 

My good friend Chariti came. It was 3am.  Joel put on some headphones (with my blessing!) and closed his eyes on the padded bench in our room and got a 30 minute rest.  I knew that the more rested he could be the better help he would be to me.  And, I could tell he was about to break.  I would have too, if I had the choice.  There was just no getting out of this for me.  Later he tells me that right before this point he was reciting our wedding vows in his head…he said he could really feel the “for better or worse” part… the duty and love required in marriage.

Chariti stayed for about 2 hours I think.  I remember her coming while I was still in the bath, and she was outside the bathroom chatting with the nurse about her weekend.  I remember feeling that weird “child-birth-zilla” moment and almost – almost – told her to stop talking because it was distracting and annoying me.  I remember thinking – yep – this is mid-to-late labor, when you can’t stand to hear somebody just “chit chat” in the other room.  I almost laughed but of course, did not.

I instead looked up at Laura and asked her how much longer this would take.  She said maybe about 3 hours, maybe more, and I LOST it.  “I cannot do this for that long” I whined to her like a child.  I started talking about getting an epidural and she told me that I can get one if I want.  I knew this was up to me…Joel came in and I told him the same, and he tells me the same – whatever I want. 

What I really want is for somebody to come and give me a C-section and get this over with, I secretly thought.  I decided to just keep going.  I reminded myself of my reasons (better recovery, better start to breastfeeding, less chance of a c-section), which helped a little...but not much.

I moved to the bed and was there for about 2 hours in all positions…contractions on top of contractions, with no time to breathe and rest in between like I had been promised in all of my classes….thanks to the Pitocin, like I had been warned. 

During one particularly tough contraction I heard Joel’s phone ring.  He picked it up (while standing next to me holding a hand-held fan up to my face) and I could not believe my eyes.  I tell him with big wide “I mean it” eyes to “Get Off The Phone,” using the nicest “I’m in labor so do what I tell you” tone I could muster.  He told me later that day that it was my dad on the phone, and everyone was worried since things were “taking so long.”  

I’ll forgive him this once.

The sun finally came up, and I felt like I needed to push.  I get the go-ahead and I must tell you that even at this very moment, I did not think the baby would come out of my body.  I was so beat down, and so exhausted, with my legs shaking and my husband feeding me water and honey from those tiny straws on demand, and me begging that his small hand-held fan never leave my face, I really believed that this would go on forever…this horrible, horrible Pitocin induced labor. 

I finally feel hope when the nurses come in and prepare for a birth without the OB.  Maybe, just maybe, this would finally stop.

Then all of the sudden, my OB comes in – wearing a ball cap, running shoes and workout clothes.  He says that he can be here for the next 20 minutes, but then has to go meet his daughter for a 5K race they are doing together downtown.

He slipped on booties over his shoes, and sat down in front of me (I am on my back – the one position I swore I would not be in to give birth) and I immediately begged him to make sure I don’t tear (after all this, I still ask..I know).  His assistant starts dripping oil on me like she's sprinkling fairy dust, and my doctor impatiently takes the oil from her hand and dumps the entire contents on me.

I finally understand how women who have given birth lose all sense of shame.    

I push through 2 contractions, and the baby is finally here, placed on top of me immediately.  7:23am.  At this point I cannot believe my eyes, so relieved that this is finally over. 

After about 30 seconds of me repeating “oh my gosh” Joel finally interjects and asks – “so – what is it??”  All of the doctors and nurses erupt in a chorus of “I didn’t see it, did you?”  Dr. Chavira finally picks up the baby and announces – “It’s a girl!”

It’s a girl.  What I secretly wanted and will only admit this now to you, on the internet.

Yes that is a D.A.R.E.shirt on my husband. And no, we did not plan that to coincide with a "drug-free" birth.

Dr. Chavira tells me I didn’t need any stiches and I am relieved (and thank my 6lb baby girl).  He came over to me, we said a Hail Mary and our good byes, and he headed out the door to the 5K.  His ball cap was on his head the entire time.

For the next few minutes the baby and I worked on breastfeeding and staying warm, and Joel finally looked over at me and says-slash-asks “She looks like a Mia (?)” and I instantly concur.

One thing I was surprised about was that I didn’t cry when  I first saw her (I'm sort of a crier).  I think I was too “shell-shocked.”  Later that day Joel and I have a moment alone with our sleeping Mia, and I bury my head in his chest and say behind tears “That. Was so. Traumatic.”  I really, at this moment, thought it was the hardest, most traumatic experience of my life…something I couldn’t possibly do again.

Looking back on it now, and hearing many other birth stories since, I realize it was par for the course when it comes to natural births.  And after meeting with our class participants and all their new babies, I learned that we were only 2 out of 5 that actually went natural like planned.  Childbirth is crazy!

Since that day I have felt the “trauma” less and less.  And I will do it again.  Yes! Let’s do it again. Maybe… with an epidural next time :)

Mia -  1 day old, on Mother's Day

Friday, September 20, 2013

New Mom Gift Basket

{Update: If you are here from the lovely Pinterest and happen to have the symbols "?m=1" at the end of this url, please delete them and press enter, or click here for much more viewing pleasure!}


Last weekend we celebrated my very good friend and her soon-to-arrive baby. I couldn't help but be extra excited for this shower because a) It was for my very good friend, and b) I was on the other side of the shower / celebration / anticipation / absolute and complete unknown.  What a relief to just watch, encourage, and celebrate someone else!

Since she is a good friend, I decided to give myself permission to go rogue from her baby registry and get her the things I wish I had around my house when the baby came.  I thought of so many things, but narrowed it down to these (which I found all at Target, in one shopping trip..which made the narrowing down easy).

1. Eye Mask - for all those daytime naps to heed the ubiquitous advice to "sleep when the baby sleeps!"  It takes me generally 20+ minutes to fall asleep, and with the sun out even more.  These babies cut that down to about 60 seconds when you add in lack of sleep :)

2. Her favorite wine 

3. Dry Shampoo - yes I spoke of this here before, and still attest - it is a new mom's life saver

4. Mother's Milk herbal lactation tea - and if it doesn't work, at least it tastes good

5. Facial Cleansing Wipes - anything "quick" is a new mom's dream

6. A Cereal / easy healthy-ish snack she likes - I chose Fiber One because I know she likes it, and it has Fiber - much needed at this stage

7. Personal Cleansing Wipes - I don't need to go into detail on this, just trust me...they are handy for weeks

8. Lanolin nipple cream - used constantly for at least 3 weeks. oweeee!

9. A copy of Parents Magazine (or of course any magazine for those long feeding sessions is great)

10. Another snack - anything that can be easily grabbed and eaten with one hand; these are fruit chews with added Vitamin C

11. Tank tops - I prefer the "normal" tank tops for feeding- Old Navy has great ones, shelf bra tops are great, and Target has a bunch of different styles.  I have at least a dozen tank tops that I use constantly to feed Mia in (plus I live in AZ and wear tank tops 5+ months out of the year).  

The 2-tank top trick is my go-to for feedings with other people around (the tank underneath is pulled down, the top one is pulled up - that way your back and side are always covered, and your chest/cleavage is covered - both good whether or not you use those handy feeding covers).

Looking at this list I can see a few themes: the need for food, the lack of showering and sleep, and anything revolving around breastfeeding.  Yep that pretty much sums up a new mom's life.

If you are a mom, I'm sure you could think of many other items to add / exchange.  And of course, always use your best judgement for the particular new mom you are buying for.  And don't forget the gift receipt! :)

Best wishes to all those new and soon-to-be new mamas out there!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

5 Faves Vol. 2: Healthy Oatmeal Recipes

Thanks Grace for hosting the 5 Favorites link-up this week!!

Ok, these aren't so much recipes as the are, how-you-sayy, "combos", but here they are nonetheless. Oatmeal is a major staple in my food regimen - I eat it for breakfast 5-6 times a week plus 2 eggs and about a cup of fruit.

What a huge breakfast.  I know!  People - it's the most important meal of the day.  (And, I'm breastfeeding and count this as some of my extra calories for the day.)

Anyway - 2 problems often arise with people + oatmeal: either A) they don't eat it because they think it is bland, or B) they add tons of brown sugary type toppings and/or eat too much for a major carb overload.

Well, here are my favorite ways to eat oatmeal, and they are (in my humble opinion) A) great tasting, and B) great alternatives to the high-sugar variety.

And since I aim to please - I am adding a 6th bonus!  Last week when I was talking to my husband about this post I was preparing for (by eating each recipe of course) he insisted I include HIS new favorite way to eat oatmeal.  Maybe he should get his own blog!  Er,,, see below for the bonus!

Before we get started, this is my basic oatmeal foundation pre-mix-ins:
-1/4 cup old fashioned oats (or steel cut - also good)
-1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk (and sometimes just straight up h2o)
-1 big pinch of ground flax or 2
-Cinnamon - a great spice that adds the taste of sweetness without using sugar

Microwave for 3 minutes in a tall bowl, and add the flax and other mix-ins and you're all set!  Now for my favorites:

1. Peanut Butter (1 Tbsp or less) + Strawberries

2. Peaches - This is my all-time favorite.  It tastes like peach pie, I swear.  Don't forget the cinnamon, and let the hot oatmeal warm up the peaches and mmm.

3. Raisins + Sliced Almonds (again - stir this up and let it sit for a sec to plump up those raisins)

4. Blueberries (I've done the frozen blueberry thing and it works OK in a pinch - just let the hot oatmeal heat up the berries)

5. 1/3 banana + pecans (I skipped the cinnamon here because the banana was extra ripe and extra sweet)

**Just keep in mind, when you add in nuts or PB, serious extra calories are involved. (people, don't be in denial about this)

And the bonus!
6. An egg and 2 sliced up turkey sausages.  A salty/savory edition for you salty/savory people.


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Five Faves Vol. 1

Linking up with Hallie over at MoxieWife!

1.  Dove's dry shampoo.

For thin-ish hair people like me, and a new mom to boot (who says 'to boot?') dry shampoo is a must!  Plus, I reaaally like the smell of Dove's and actually, so does my husband.  Every single time I wear it he sniffs me and says - "mm, you smell good."  

{Thanks! It's my dry shampoo signaling the fact that I haven't showered in 2 days and my hair is greasy.}

Aw, thanks babe!

2. This little awesome idea called Little Free Library. Basically, you put up a cute little book storage birdhouse type thing and people in your neighborhood/community are welcome to swap books ("take a book, leave a book").  Check out this map if you want to find a registered one near you!

I just l-o-v-e this idea. What a cool way to build community, share resources, read some books you may otherwise have never found, make reading extra fun with our little kiddos, etc. etc. etc. I know in my neighborhood there are plenty of families with little kids.  If I can convince my husband, I am totally going to turn myself into el steward of the Little Free Library Wrigley Terrace edition.  (PS. It doesn't need to be just for little kids!)  

Papa Joe, it's time to build us a Lil Library!

3. Speaking of Papa Joe (aka. my dad), he also makes the list for his super awesome article published in The Bishop's Bulletin from the Diocese of Sioux Falls, SD.  He is studying to become a Deacon and spent 3 months visiting men and women in jail.  His article is a gem of a quick read and can be found on page 12 if you're interested!

4.  The TV show Scandal.

Oh, my, goodness I am so excited Netflix just released the second season!  We watched the first season right after we brought Mia home and were experiencing a lot of couch time, and I have gone back and forth whether or not to just purchase the rest of the episodes on amazon or something like a crazy impatient person would do.  I am SO excited (if you can't tell) that Netflix just gifted me with 12 more episodes of viewing pleasure.

5.  These tall, wide mouth Ball jars I found at Target yesterday.  They sell for about a buck a piece, and are perfect for storing cold-coffee-to-have-iced-coffee-tomorrow since it's apparently still 110 degrees here.  I love that the wide mouth makes it more like a drinking glass.  I just love these jars in general.

Happy Wednesday!