Murphy’s Birth Part II

Read Part I here.

The pool brought some relief to my aching back but I could tell that it wasn’t enough to stall the labor. Carissa helped me through a few contractions, prayed for the baby and I and also brought Joey and I drinks. She and her assistant added more hot water to the pool and our wonderful photographer was snapping away. 27

It felt like no time to me but before I knew it, it was dark out. I’ll be honest, I had expected to have given birth before dark but Carissa reminded me that my water bag hadn’t broken. In fact, my water bag was so low that I could touch it with my index finger. Carissa told me I could try to break it myself. And I did try. During every contraction I was pinching and poking at the bag with absolutely no luck. I was getting pretty annoyed. I felt like I kinda wanted to push but when I did it brought me no relief and I felt as if I were wasting energy. At this point Carissa offered to break my water. This is something that she very rarely does. In fact, homebirth midwives almost never break a woman’s water. It was at this moment that I told Carissa to ‘bring me a fork or break my water for me.’ Yep. Those words came out of my mouth. A midwives tool is much different than your typical OB’s long crochet hook looking apparatus. Her tool looked more like a thimble with a little patch of ‘poky things’ at the end.

With the next contraction Carissa broke my water. I actually felt his head drop down. Immediately the urge to push was strong. Just like with Quinn’s labor the intensity hit me so hard I felt like puking. No going back now. It took just a few pushes for us to see and feel his fuzzy little head. A few more pushes and yet another familiar feeling occurred (not a welcomed one). Burning. I remember from Quinn’s birth my midwife told me to put some light pressure on his head to take away the sensation. So much relief! Finally his head was completely out. At this point I wouldn’t say I stalled but I did catch a nice (short) break. One final push and Joey brought our sweet baby boy out of the water and into my waiting arms. 80

No crying. Murphy took a minute or two to get his lungs going. Before we knew it he was singing us his birth song. And it was music to our ears. He was perfect, covered in frosting (vernix), ten fingers, ten toes and the sweetest little wrinkle on his nose. Joey said he had quite the ‘bulldog face’ with his double chin and wrinkled nose.

I’d made it very clear to Carissa that I wanted to take more time to honor and appreciate the placenta this go round…And that we did. Once the afterbirth came she took her time to show us the ‘tree of life,’ the vessels, the impenetrable water bag he was in and our awesome pulsating cord. We stayed in the pool until we were ready to hop out and get settled in our bed. 106

Murphy’s birth was incredible. The intimacy of a homebirth is like nothing else. Something really interesting I learned from this birth is that taking high doses of vitamin C during your first trimester really makes for a tough water bag! Carissa couldn’t even poke her finger through the sac during the examination of the placenta.

We’re beyond thankful to have had another beautiful homebirth with a healthy mom and baby. We appreciate all of the support, prayers and help that was lent our way. We couldn’t have done it without all of you. A huge thank you to our amazing midwife, Carissa who encouraged us along the way and did everything in her power to make this birth exactly what we wanted. And lastly our birth photographer who took photos that I will cherish for a lifetime.

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Murphy’s Birth Part I

Today (June 18th) marks three weeks since Murphy Jack joined us Earth-side on Memorial Day 2018. I want to hurry and write out his birth story before I forget all of the little details. The saying “every birth is different” couldn’t have been more true for me.

Memorial Day Eve I was cramp-y all night long. I wasn’t in pain but it was just enough to make falling (and staying) asleep rather difficult. I refused to believe I was in labor. I called my midwife just to give her a heads up. She seemed pretty sure I was in early labor and wanted me to try to get some sleep, relax and to stay hydrated. And that’s exactly what I did. Quinn and I slept in that day and Joey went to work as usual. My cramps hadn’t subsided and at this point I was getting downright annoyed. I called my midwife again and told her I wanted things to hurry up and get the show on the road or stop all together…like she has a say in that, right? (Sorry, Carissa!)

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Carissa decided to come over and I consented to (maybe demanded) a cervical check so that I could have some sort of idea of what the heck was going on. At this point I was fully effaced, ‘paper thin,’ and close to five centimeters dilated. She was totally confident we’d be having a baby that night. Joey had gotten off work early (pure luck) and was spending some time with Quinn while Carissa and I discussed plans for the day. Less than an hour later my aunt was here to pick up Quinn. I was NOT prepared for how difficult it was to say goodbye to him. I was a mess. There was something about knowing that when he came back home he wouldn’t be my ‘baby-baby’ anymore. He would be ‘big brother’ and things would be tough for a while. That hurt my mama heart pretty bad.

At one of my appointments Carissa told me that some mothers have this instinctual thing where they won’t go into labor until they know their other child/children are taken care of. About twenty minutes after Quinn left I had a major shift in my labor. My little cramps were suddenly contractions that I recognized from Quinn’s birth. By the time Carissa came back from vacuuming out her car (no joke), I was on my birth ball and Joey was in ‘go mode’ setting up the birth room and following his labor to-do list I made for him. Yes, I have an amazing husband.

[This is the point in my labor that I like to reflect on. Had we decided to have a hospital birth my water bag would have been manually broken by a hurried OB and Murphy’s birth story would end here. Thankfully, we chose midwifery care and trust the birth process.]

I remembered with Quinn my back was quite achy throughout active labor. This time I was prepared. I had two heating pads and three rice socks in various shapes and sizes. Joey hooked me up with one and it was instant relief. I spent a good bit of my labor on the side of our bed either bending over or using my birth ball. Once things picked up a bit I jumped in the birth pool for some relief and rest. I sat in the pool for maybe ten minutes when I realized it was slowing my labor, which I did NOT want. I knew I needed to do whatever made my contractions the most intense and for me that meant sitting on the toilet. I stayed there for five contractions and they were quite intense. I finally began to have bloody show which meant things were still progressing beautifully.

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From here I decided that a shower sounded like a good idea as it would relieve my aching back and not slow down my labor. The shower was incredibly intense as far as labor goes. I’m very thankful Joey was willing to jump in with me as I desperately needed his support. In my mind we were in the shower for an eternity but it was more like fifteen minutes (if that). With the way things had progressed I felt that I could go to the pool and not stall my labor.

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Part II can be found here.

We’re incredibly thankful for Carissa with Peak Midwifery who provided my prenatal care and attended the birth.

Our wonderful birth photographer was Emily Rose Photography. She can be found here and here.

 

15 Ways to ‘up your crunch’ for FREE

I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s got an Amazon cart full of things to help my family achieve our natural lifestyle goals. Things I desperately want (and some I need) that’ll have to wait until we hit the lottery. I feel like almost everyone can relate to wanting to be more ‘crunchy’ but it adds up quickly. Below are 15 ways to better yourself for FREE.

one: First thing in the morning give yourself a facial lymphatic massage. Here is a short article and great video on how to do this at home. I love doing this when I’ve got sinus issues.

two: Make some ghee. You’ll need unsalted butter (this is a pantry staple for us). Wellness Mama has a super simple recipe. You don’t need anything fancy.

three: Don’t trash your tea bags! Save them for a nice hot bath or for using on your eyes for a spa like treatment, bonus it helps take away under-eye puffiness.

four: Whip up some sole water. All you need is high quality salt, water and a jar.

five: Put some peeled garlic in a jar of apple cider vinegar and let it sit for a few weeks. When I’m coming down with something I use acv soaked garlic, minced with a drizzle of local honey. It’s a powerhouse!

six: Ditch your birth control and learn about natural fertility. This website is packed with great information on how to track your fertility to avoid and achieve pregnancy. \

seven: Listen to The Healthy Moms Podcast.  I’m a huge fan of Wellness Mama and her podcast is no exception. I’ve learned so much by listening in. I play it when we go on walks, while folding laundry and doing the dishes.

eight: Visit your local library! This is such an underrated and under used, FREE resource. I frequently forget about it as well. I use our library for lots of things. Toddler story time, requesting books, movie rental, and more. Lots of times your local library will have a schedule of programs you probably didn’t know they had!

nine: Make your own reusable shopping bag. I use old t-shirts or funny/unique shirts I find at thrift shops. They are sturdy and can be washed! On Pinterest search ‘t-shirt shopping bag.’

ten: Become an expert on a topic that interest you. At the beginning of each month I pick a topic that I’m interested in. For instance, August was the mircobiome month for me. By no means am I an expert but I have learned so much. I delve really deep into studies, podcasts relating to the gut, books, and other resources. (yes, I’m a nerd)

eleven: iPhone users, turn on your night shift! That blue light is killing your hormone levels at night. Blue light after dark is awful for you. Set your night shift for a time frame that suits you. Mine is on from 8pm till 7am (adjusted during the winter). If you don’t have an iPhone, you can get an app.

twelve: Become a minimalist. This may be my favorite one because on top of it being free, it has the potential to put some cash in your pocket! Not only that but you will feel liberated, relaxed and in control of your house again. Start with an easy room, make yourself get rid of five things. Move to the next room, then the next, and the next. You don’t realize just how much your belongings are stressing you out until you remove them.

thirteen: Learn your food labels. This one sucks, to be honest. The words are long, boring and hard to pronounce. But it’s necessary. At the very least, know what your family can’t compromise on. For us that’s GMO’s, MSG, food coloring, and a few others. Of course we have many other food standards but in a pinch, those are the ones we just won’t consume.

fourteen: Get grounded. In other words, go barefoot. It’s beneficial and feels great. I always feel more relaxed on the days I make time to go without shoes. In the summer we rarely wear them. Here is a great article on the benefits of going barefoot.

fifteen: Create your families health goals or your health mission. I love doing this. First I start off by defining what health means to us. Then once I have that nailed down I go into detail on what we can do to achieve those goals. Then I narrow it down to a few sentences. I love referring back to it and seeing how we grow. It’s also something that I look to whenever I’m going to make a big purchase. For example, will buying this new set of pots and pans help my family achieve our long term health goals? It also gives you a rehearsed line to give when people ask ‘why is your family so weird’? Haha!

 

If you have any tips on how to better your natural lifestyle, share them with us!

So long, Maryland.

It seems like the only time I write here is when we have a ‘big’ life update or something like that. I so need to get better about this. Let’s just jump right in.

The biggest news first, we’re moving to Louisiana! It was a fairly last minute decision. We’d been planning on staying in Maryland once Joey separated from the military. Long story short, Quinn and I took a quick trip to LA and once we got back to MD we decided as a family that we’d all be much happy in the south. We’re so excited.

We’re still on our journey to minimalism. We’ll never be the family who owns like 5 plates and a single pair of shoes each. That’s just not what minimalism means to us. With our move coming up it’s given us the opportunity to clean out every nook and cranny of the house. And boy did we have a lot of junk. In fact, my goal was to donate six trash bags full and I’ve surpassed that goal with ease.

Quinn will be two years old very soon. Like every parent that walks the Earth says, I just can’t believe how fast he’s growing. We’re so excited to celebrate his birthday with his daddy this year as he was deployed for Quinn’s first birthday. Weather permitting we’re planning a very small play-date type party at a park on base.

We’re so excited for August. So many positive changes are taking place for our family and we couldn’t be more thrilled. I’m hoping to update here along the way.

 

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Kisses

As I read through ‘How Would Jesus Raise A Child?’ Tonight’s reflections question hit me right in the feels. It asks ‘what have you noticed in your child that makes you feel happy or blessed’ Immediately it makes me think about how caring and kind Quinn is. This sweet baby boy of ours is beautifully empathic towards others. It makes my mama heart soar. No, he’s not walking yet. He’s taking his time as that is his nature. But the sweet tenderness and love this boy can show is out of this world. I see him look concerned for other babies as they cry, I see him smile his sweetest smile at infants. 

I think this is a question we parents should ask ourselves more often. What do you see in your child that makes you feel blessed? 
Once a day, sometimes more if I’m lucky, Quinn grabs my face so gently with both hands and kisses me. It’s easily the best part of my day. 

The big ONE!

Tomorrow my little moose turns one. sigh. Raising babies is truly bittersweet. Today I’ve been replaying his beautiful birth over and over in my head. A year ago today Joey and I went to our usual weekly midwife appointment so they could listen to Quinn’s heartbeat (no vaginal checks unless I request, which I didn’t). They were giving me the ‘you’re a first time mom so be prepared to go past your due date’ spiel. And I was A-okay with that! I loved carrying Quinn. I was so blessed with a flawless pregnancy. I wasn’t ready for him to be earth-side.

At this time (eight thirty pm) one year ago, Joey and I were walking around the neighborhood talking about what we thought Quinn would look like and his personality. Well just a few hours later we were just getting settled in bed. Joey put on his headphones and I had just finished getting all thirty of my pillows in the right spots (if you’re pregnant you understand). I heard this weird noise in my head. Guuuung clackk. I’m laying there thinking ‘what on earth was that.’ I laid there for another minute and thought to myself, ‘that wasn’t my water bag breaking, no way.’ After a quick feel around- yupp. Definitely my water! I nudged Joey, he pulled back his headphones and I whispered ‘my water just broke.’ I’m not sure I’d ever seen him fly out of the bed so fast! For some reason the first thing I did (after waddling to the bathroom) was call my mom. Because don’t we all call our moms when something big happens? We called the midwives and Joey’s parents as well. Everyone was excited.

I always like thinking back to ‘the night before Quinn.’ It was fun and so full of excitement. I cherish these two photos with all my heart. Enjoy!

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Our breastfeeding journey 

In honor of World Breastfeeding Week I thought it was the perfect time to share our breastfeeding journey. Just a little forewarning, it’s got lots of milk blisters and bloody nipples along the way!

I’ll start by saying I was prepared. I was more than prepared. I read all of the right books. Took the right classes. Spoke to many experienced breastfeeding mothers. I knew it would have it’s challenges but I was ready! Or so I thought…

We had a beautiful home birth. Truly, it was like a dream. Fast forward to getting me upstairs in bed with baby. My wonderful birth assistant is showing me how to properly hold his little body and bring him to the breast. And it felt like the most unnatural and awkward position. I felt uncomfortable and I’m sure he sensed it. He didn’t want to latch right away (despite the fact that I’m literally leaking colostrum at this point). So my BA tells me he’s in a very ‘alert’ state right now and sometimes babies are over stimulated. So they ignore the breast but that once he’s calmed down a bit he’ll latch. The little turd was just lazy, y’all. Finally he did latch. We were successful and I thought everything was going well. Until my nipples started to feel chapped, wearing a shirt hurt, then came the bleeding and cracked nipples. At this point I knew things were not going well and this was not normal. I’m so blessed to have not one but two friends who’re educated in breastfeeding. Bless their hearts. I’m sure I drove them crazy those first six weeks.

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     So my friend comes over and she shows me that my technique is all wrong. I need to hold his neck, not his head. Which surprisingly helped a lot! Things went well for a few days. I was so happy! Finally! We’ve got this whole breastfeeding thing down! And then I realized I had a milk blister. This little booger kept coming back too. I should’ve just given him a name since he was basically part of the family at this point. My sweet friend came over and watched him latch. Which was a very shallow latch. So she showed me a few techniques on getting more breast into his tiny mouth. Things were going great! And then we got thrush.

Thanks to all my preparation I knew exactly what thrush was as soon as it started so I ordered gentian violet (per kelly mom…my favorite breastfeeding resource). We only had to use that messy junk twice and our thrush issue was gone. Things were going well. I just had to remember how to hold him, always be sitting up right – in the glider and always with a breastfeeding pillow. Yeah…how’s that for ‘easy’? Oh well, things were finally going well and I was ecstatic to have overcome all of the issues that were thrown our way.

Then one day I started to notice a streak going down one breast. I immediately began to sob because I knew that we had the first few symptoms of mastitis. I was almost embarrassed. I’m a doula, I had a gorgeous home birth, I took classes. I’m not supposed to be having all of these problems. As a new mother in my very vulnerable postpartum state I just kept thinking to myself ‘if I can’t fulfill his most basic need of feeding him, what kind of parent am I going to be.’ I was so beat. The only thing worse than continuing to breastfeed (and fail) was the thought of giving in and giving him a bottle.

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     Joey came home from work with my favorite candy and just listened to me vent. I have to brag here…while he listened to me cry about how hard breastfeeding was, not once did he suggest a bottle or formula. Babe, if you’re reading this, you’re the best!

I don’t take antibiotics so catching this infection early was a blessing. I killed it quickly with lots of raw garlic, fluids, and prayer. After this bout of mastitis we really never had any more issues. We were also past the six week mark at this point. Looking back now I wish I’d pressed harder when Quinn’s pediatrician assured me he didn’t have a lip tie. With his two front down and out his upper lip tie is very obvious. Even now at nearly a year I’ll get the occasional milk blister.

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     Present day, we’ve got a new pediatrician and we plan to breastfeed until Quinn weans himself. I’m so thankful for all of the support I had in the beginning and to those who continue to support us in our breastfeeding journey. I hope and pray that when my kids have their own kids, there won’t be any need for ‘brelfies’ and the #normalizeit that goes a long with it.