Friday, February 20, 2015

Baby Callie's Birth Story

Every birth story is unique and well, Callie’s is of no exception. It all started a few days prior to Callie’s actual birth date. I began noticing that her daily movements were slowly decreasing; a sign that baby girl was conserving energy for her upcoming big day. During those few days I also noticed an increase in Braxton Hicks contraction, a burst of energy as well as an up in my appetite. With all these changes I knew that labor day was right around the corner. But exactly when was the question.
Would you have asked me what day I assumed baby girl would arrive, I would have told you January 13th, aka her due date. My first daughter was born on her due date, January 11th, so I thought Callie would be just like her sister: exactly on time. But she had other plans.
It was Amerie’s birthday weekend. She was turning 8 years-old and was feeling a bit blue because we had to skip her birthday party plans in anticipation for her baby sister’s arrival. She was threatening to be mad should her sister arrive on her birth date, leaving the pressure on me to hold out until the 13th. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.
On Sunday, January 11th, I woke up at 8:30am from some much needed rest. My husband had offered to take the 6:00am puppy shift leaving me with the flexibility to sleep in for as long as I felt I needed. I had gotten a well night’s rest despite the back cramps that woke me up a few times that night. I thought nothing of them considering I had been suffering from the same back cramps for the past few nights. I proceeded to complete my morning routine of freshening up and getting dressed when IT hit me - was that a contraction? It definitely wasn’t a Braxton Hicks and it actually HURT. Instead of the tightening I normally felt directly in the center of my tummy, I felt little tightening and more of a mild pain radiating from my lower abdomen to my lower back. 
My Birthday Girls
I finished getting ready and headed downstairs to see my family. I wished my daughter a happy birthday, then another contraction hit. I paused, breathing through it as I had learned from my home hypnobirthing CD. When the wave was over I looked at my husband and said, “I think this is it”. We both smiled, excited that the day had finally arrived, when, as usual, he cracks a joke, “Aww Amerie mommy is having your baby sister on your birthday! That is just wrong!”.  Thanks. Way to make me feel guilty. Five minutes later another wave hit and my husband finally realized that I was serious.
As my husband began cleaning the house, I started tracking my contractions. They were very inconsistent, averaging around 5 minutes apart and 30 seconds to 1 minute long.  Since the pain was manageable, I decided to get the one thing I desperately needed to get done that day: grocery shopping.

I’d like to note that at this point I was in early labor as pointed out by my husband due to my happy mood. I was laughing and very much able to work through each contraction. That natural birthing class  taught him well.

Before we left, I notified my midwife of the current situation. While she was willing to head towards my house right there and then, I told her to hold off since I wasn’t 100% sure whether or not this was the real deal. Having not been in labor before, I wasn’t sure what to expect and I didn’t want to inconvenience my birthing team should my labor be false, or worse, slow.
We arrived at the store and as I shopped my husband continued to track my contractions. Throughout our trip, the pain started getting more intense, with some waves more intense than others. These surges required me to stop, focus and breath. Unfortunately, the distraction led to an incomplete shopping trip. I completely forgot to pick up food for my birthing team and missed out on some much needed pantry essentials. At least I got it done because I was finally able to rest, relax and focus.
Once groceries were put away, I got dressed into my oh so comfy home dress my mom brought home from the Philippines and attempted to take a nap. My contractions were still 4-5 minutes apart on average and still 30 seconds to 1 minute in length. The pain was getting stronger, but it was still manageable. As I laid down to rest I noticed the waves fading, with the interval time increasing to 7-10 minutes apart. I panicked thinking that I had halted labor, but at the same time I was grateful for the ability to rest. After about 30 minutes I decided to get back up. I was feeling restless and felt the need to move upstairs where I would be laboring and delivering.
Before settling upstairs, I headed to the restroom to find brown discharge in my undies (sorry, TMI!?).  In the past, brown discharge signaled something was wrong so naturally I freaked out. I texted my midwife who reassured me that everything was normal. Apparently the stretching of the cervix can cause capillaries to rupture resulting in some light bleeding. Mid text I was still on the royal throne when during a contraction I passed what looked like an odd colored blood clot. My midwife told me it must have been mucus plug. Not sure why, but I totally assumed it would be clear, hence the reason why it’s called a bloody show. Dope. Passing my mucus plug meant progress! It also meant things were about to get serious.
I settled upstairs next to my birthing pool. I had a blanket to keep me warm, a rice sock for comfort, oils for strength and relaxation, my yoga ball to lean on and my phone on the charger, playing my hypnobirthing CD. My wonderful neighbor had just taken Amerie for a fun day with her friends, leaving me with peace and quiet. My husband had also settled with me upstairs, watching football as he provided me with whatever support I needed.
At around 2:00pm, active labor hit. My contractions were 3 minutes apart and 45 seconds to over 1 minute in length. The beginning, peak and end of each wave was more distinct and with each surge I had to stop, focus and really breath. The pain was strong, yet bearable, yet enough to destroy my appetite and induce nausea and mild vomiting. I felt most of it in my lower abdomen and some in my lower back. It felt like a super strong menstrual cramp combined with a little burn – no doubt a result of my hips opening up. I tried several different coping methods but nothing worked. The heated rice sock made the pain worse; the oils I gave up on quickly; movement was uncomfortable; and counter pressure/massaging did little for me. What did work was visualization.
When I felt a surge coming on I would immediately pause, close my eyes, place my hands near my abdomen and visualize numbing light waves radiating from my hands into my abdomen and around my back (yes, Piper was my favorite Charmed character! Ha!). While chanting the word “numb”, this numbing light would continue to circulate until the wave faded away.  While it didn’t completely stop the discomfort, it did provide me a few seconds of pain free bliss. Like a break in the midst of a storm. It was nice and it gave me something to concentrate on. Sadly, this didn’t last for too long. As soon as things progressed, my focused shifted to breathing through the pain and less on trying to numb it.
At a little before 3:00pm, I texted my midwife to provide her an update on my progress. After chatting a bit about how I felt things were moving along, she offered to head my way to hang out, palpate the baby’s position and check me vaginally IF I so desired to know how much I had dilated. Although I was hesitant to say yes, thinking things were still moving slowly, my husband pushed me to agree. Having her nearby would put both of our minds at ease knowing she’s there should things speed up. Plus, honestly I wanted to know baby’s position. I wanted to be mentally prepared to push out a breeched baby if she shifted.
While waiting for my midwife to arrive, things slowly progressed. My contractions were getting closer together, being 3 minutes apart on average and 1 minute in length. The nausea worsened and unfortunately, I was throwing up. I attempted to stay hydrated and nibbled on crackers when I could. It helped. Sort of.
At a little before 5:00pm, my midwife arrived followed by my doula. At this point my spirits were still high. I was feeling a bit tired but I was still happy and smiling. I was super excited to see them both as it meant, for me anyways, that I would soon be seeing this baby. It was also nice to have additional support for both my husband and I. My midwife visited me briefly to check on how I was doing and then proceeded to put a plan of action into place. In about an hour she would palpate baby’s position and check me vaginally to see how far I was dilated and go from there. She figured with my team there now, my labor will no doubt progress and boy did it! That was one very long hour! The contractions picked up and were getting harder to manage. The pain had moved more towards my hips and felt more like a burning sensation than a cramp. My husband offered to squeeze my hips but I found little relief with the counter pressure. Not sure why nothing worked. I realized later that the way I cope with pain is staying still and focusing. Weird.
Sometime around 6:00pm my midwife checked the baby’s position as well my cervix for dilation. Baby was head down (wohoo!!!!) and I was 9 centimeters dilated!! I couldn’t believe it! I was further along than I thought! I was in transitional labor! My cervix was stretchy and things were progressing beautifully. Hearing that I was so close gave me a boost of confidence and energy. If I’ve made it this far, then I can totally finish.
With me being so close, my midwife and doula suggested my husband get the pool ready. During the hour it took to fill up the pool, my doula continued to provide me with physical and verbal support with each wave. When my face was tense, she told me to relax it. When I started breathing heavily, she slowed my breath down. The support helped me to mentally sink deeper into my body and work with it versus against it. It’s amazing how much easier it is to get through each contraction when you relax, surrender and allow your body to do its thing.  At this point I was exhausted; so much so that I would doze off or sleep in between contractions to conserve the little bit of energy I had left. I was feeling drowsy and oddly cold.
After about an hour, the pool was ready. In between surges, my husband helped me into the pool. He asked me if I wanted my bathing suit top, but without a word, I stripped my dress off and headed towards the pool. I can hear him laugh and say, “okay then. I guess you’re going in naked”. This made me chuckle. Modesty really does go out the window when you’re in hard labor. I mean what’s a pair of boobs!? Might as well be comfortable right? As soon as I stepped in I felt immediate relief! The warm water provided just enough support to take off some of the pressure from the baby and the contractions.
Within minutes of getting into the pool the contractions started picking up. The peak of each wave was so intense that it took everything in me to make it through, including some low moaning.  My hips were burning and baby girl was consistently moving which, can I say, was way worse than the burning hips. I could feel every single little wiggle and kick and it tickled every sensitive nerve. If there was a moment I felt like Ripley from Aliens, it was when Callie was moving in my stomach during a contraction. Cringe. It was during this phase when I needed and used the most support from my husband and birthing team.
I was in transitional labor, moving to the pushing stage, and at my wits end. I started freaking out, thinking that I couldn’t do anymore. At some point I even stated that having a home birth was a horrible idea. (Sorry!) Multiple times I told my husband that I couldn’t do it anymore because I had no energy left and the pain seemed almost unbearable. Of course, thanks to the class, his response was a reminder that the moment I felt like that, it meant it was almost time to push. He held my hands through each contraction and helped me regulate my breathing during times when I would freak out and work against the surge. My birthing team reminded me often to keep my face relaxed and breathed with me as well. They helped me stay focus. I needed them and they were there for me. Without them I could have easily lost it. Besides mental support, they also helped me stay hydrated and cool since I was finally getting heated due to the warm water and the increase in physical work.
I don’t recall much of what was happening around me. I was so drained, drowsy and in the zone that my surroundings barely existed. I do recall our midwife in training arriving just in time and someone stating that it was 7 something in the evening.
After several minutes of seriously intense contractions, I started to feel the pressure to push at the peak of each wave. At first I thought it was me wanting to push but I quickly realized it was my body doing the pushing.  I found it pretty cool how distinct the beginning, peak and end of each wave felt. At the start of a contraction, I could feel the pain creeping up. It was my signal to prepare and start breathing. After several seconds of creeping pain, it would peak and my body would start pushing. After 3-4 pushes, the pressure and discomfort would dissipate and I would dwell in the moment of pain free bliss. Oh how much I appreciated each break, even if it was for only a minute! Pushing was the best part of labor. It felt so good to finally work WITH my surges instead of just THROUGH them.
In between a set of surges, my midwife checked for progress and could feel my baby’s head still surrounded by a bubble of amniotic fluid. Yep, baby was still in her sac! Of course, I wanted to feel and so I did. It was the most incredible thing to feel my baby’s head still surrounded by her temporary home. It was in that moment that I thanked God for our little miracle and praised him for his creativity. When you look at the stars or feel a baby’s head in sac you can’t help but think about how ingenious God truly is. Still feeling baby in sac had my birthing team pretty excited, hoping that maybe, just maybe baby would be born en cal. It would be a pretty cool thing to see! So fingers crossed we did.
After several minutes of pushing, little progress was made. My water had yet to break and I could still feel baby’s head about an inch or so in. I had been in the same kneeling position since I had gotten into the pool so it was time to move around. My midwife asked me to lift one leg up and keep it there during my next contraction. I knew doing so would not only open my hips to allow baby to move down but I also knew it would hurt like hell. Even though I didn’t want to move, an opinion I clearly voiced to my midwife (haha!), I did it anyways knowing it would help. And it did…hurt worse, but that just meant it was doing something. Of course, seeing progression encouraged my midwife to suggest more movement and additional position changes.
During the next few contractions I moved from kneeling on my left leg, with my right leg up to kneeling on my right, with my left up to squatting while leaning back on my husband. I ended up staying in the back lean for the remainder of my delivery as things seemed to quickly progress in that position. With each surge I breathed my baby down as my body gently pushed. Soon I felt my baby’s head slowly beginning to emerge.
Despite what I learned in class the crowning phase did not last through only one contraction. For multiple contractions, baby’s head would slowly crown, and then retract with each rest. I really thought each and everytime that I would push that sucker fully out, but I was greeted with disappointment each time the surge would end. It was then I actually wished the contractions would last longer so I could push her out faster. Of course, my midwife reminded me slow and steady meant less chance of damage or tear, which now I’m thankful for. After a few peek-a-book surges, it was finally time to push baby girl all the way out
Right before I delivered, I was pushing through a surge when I felt an odd pop. I exclaimed to my birthing team that I felt a pop and was sure my water just broke. My midwife was a bit surprised and a bit doubtful that my water had broke considering that she didn’t see anything when it happened. Of course, it didn’t matter because it was then when I could really feel the pressure of baby’s head coming down.
It took two contractions to push baby girl out. With the first contraction, I pushed her head half-way out before my wave ended. Yes, I rested with half a baby’s head out. The pressure was intense, the ring of fire “pain”, not so much. I can no doubt thank the water for the lack of fire. Naturally, I panicked a bit due to the pressure, asking my midwife what to do. She calmly told me to wait and, in the meantime, distracted me by showing me via the mirror my baby’s head. She encouraged me to touch my baby’s sweet head but unfortunately I was holding myself up and felt too weak to move. I was afraid if I moved, my butt would plop right onto the floor of the pool and squish my poor baby’s noggin. So I watched and waited.
Seeing her precious little head brought on this weird wave of energy and awareness. Instead of feeling tired and in the zone, I automatically “woke up”, excited and ready to push.
With the next contraction, I pushed with all my might and her head finally came out! Oh the relief! Her head emerged mid-surge so naturally my body was still pushing. I told my midwife I still needed to push, so with a little wiggle help from my midwife, I used the last bit of energy from the end of my surge and pushed her little body out. My midwife caught her and called for my husband to grab her as he had planned. Unfortunately, the man was in such a daze that it took her a few calls of his name to finally get his attention. Once he realized what was going on, he reached down, grabbed baby Callie out of the water and placed her on my chest. Immediately she cried and so did I.
This is the only photo I have. My plans to take pics went out the window.
Later on I learned that baby girl’s head was pointing straight down towards the floor of the pool hence the reason for my midwife’s assistance. The wiggle was to help get baby girl unstuck. After a brief discussion over Callie's ultrasounds we noticed she always had a hand near her face. My midwife stated that Callie most likely had her hand under her chin, therefore explaining why it took longer than expected to push her out and also why my midwife felt the need to do a little shimmy during my final push. When she wiggled her I could definitely feel as if something was being unstuck or pulled. No doubt she was trying to emerge head and hand first.
In that moment a flood of emotions hit me: relief, excitement, euphoria, love, empowerment. I did it. I really did it! Baby girl was finally here, her tiny little naked body nuzzled in my arms. I couldn’t believe it. I cried, proud of my accomplishment, of the work I did and the reward that followed. I sat there in a new zone, completely smitten by my beautiful, miracle baby. That was until I realized I hadn’t checked the sex yet. I opened my baby’s little legs and sure enough it was a girl! Whew! I could finally wash everything!
As I sat there, cuddling my new baby, my midwife and birthing team started prepping to move me from pool to bed. As my doula recorded some info about my recent delivery, I heard her mention the timing of Callie’s birth at 9:24pm. I looked at her shocked that it was past 9:00pm! I couldn’t believe that I had been in the pool for at over two hours, pushing for at least an hour. I honestly thought I had been in there for a shorter amount of time. It’s amazing how time becomes non-existent during those last couple of hours of labor.
In the meantime my husband had decided to FaceTime my family of six to tell them the good news and to show off baby Callie who was still in the pool with me, as butt naked as I was. Thankfully I was too exhausted and too infatuated to realize what he was doing. If I was all there I’m sure her would have gotten fussed at for exposing me!  At the same time though, I’m sure I would have laughed as I fell in love with his excitement. There’s nothing more sweet than to see your husband’s eyes light up over the birth of his new baby. That night I fell in love with him all over again.
Disclaimer: before I proceed I have to warn that things do get a bit gory. While natural, some may find the following events hard to stomach. Fair warning.
After a few moments of cuddling, it was time to move me from pool to bed. My entire team helped me as I stood up and stepped out of the pool with my still attached to the cord baby in hand. Things were going great, so it was quite a shock to see, as soon as I stood up, a huge gush of blood hit the floor. Everyone jumped in surprise then immediately got right into action, swiftly moving me to the bed so I could lie down and stop the increase of the giant mess I was causing. I was embarrassed, of course, but not surprised. The same thing happened to me when I delivered my first daughter in the hospital and I was given pitocin to help.
Once I was on the bed, my birthing team got into action. While my husband and student midwife jumped right in to cleaning, my midwife and doula focused on me. Since my iron was running low during my pregnancy, the massive amount of blood loss was a bit of concern for my midwife since it could lead to hemorrhaging. Even after the delivery of the placenta, the bleeding continued. Being proactive, my midwife instructed to give me a dose of shepherds purse tincture as well as a piece of fresh placenta to hold in between my cheek and teeth to prevent hemorrhaging while my doula started tracking my vitals every 10 minutes or so to make sure everything remained stable. I was also asked to drink as much coconut water as I possibly could and to eat some food even though I had no desire to do either. Things were looking a bit shaky at first, but after an hour or so, my bleeding slowed down and my vitals leveled out. The power of the placenta!
During this time, my midwife allowed my husband to cut the cord which was still attached to my baby and placenta. During my pre-natal visits, she suggested, and I agreed, that we would wait until the placenta was delivered and until the cord turned white and stopped pulsating, to cut it. This would ensure that my baby received all of the nutrient, stem cell dense blood from her cord and placenta. After they were detached, Callie’s little nub was sealed while my placenta was given to my doula to encapsulate.
She also checked my vagina for any tears, which, unfortunately, I did have one. Surprisingly, it wasn’t at the same site where I was given an episiotomy during my delivery with Amerie. Instead it was at an angle. My midwife concluded that Callie indeed emerged hand and head first. What I felt being unstuck during my delivery was most likely her little arm or elbow, thus resulting in the tear. Thankfully it wasn’t too bad to need stitches! 
With a sigh of relief that everything was finally looking positive for me, my midwife and doula proceeded to care for my newborn who was currently latched on and nursing beautifully. My husband weighed her in at 6lbs, 15 ounces and she measured at 21.5 inches long – a huge difference from my 8lb first born. They also checked her body as well as her reflexes to make sure everything looked normal. Of course, she passed. She was perfect!
My midwife and husband weighing baby Callie
 After a few snuggles, my birthing team closed up shop and headed out around 12:30am. If my body didn’t make such a spectacle, they probably would have made it out sooner - something I feel so bad about, especially since they never got a chance to really eat anything due to my lack of awareness. However, I have to believe that everything happens for a reason; even if it results in me being completely embarrassed! The important thing though, was that baby and I were aye okay.

Say hello to baby Callie
 As soon as they left, the three of us crashed for the night. It took a moment for the adrenaline from just giving birth to finally subside before I could fall asleep. I was happy, extremely proud of my accomplishments, and overly smitten with my little bundle of joy. Our long wait was over. Our little miracle had finally entered this world and I was not ready to take my eyes off of her. As I lied in bed next to her, examining every detail of her, I smiled and thanked God for our little gift. He gave us her. It was at that moment that I finally felt at peace, ready to finally close my eyes and rest. A new journey had just begun for our family and I couldn’t wait to see what sort of adventures we would have together. <3

My squishy little baby not even a day old!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Week 39 and 40: The Final Weeks (Late Posts Capturing Final Thoughts Before Delivery)

NOTE: Yes, this post is late, but I wanted to share my thoughts from weeks 39 and 40.

Week 39 (December 26, 2014 – January 2, 2015): Is it REALLY a GIRL!?

I hope everyone enjoyed the holidays! I know we did! I have to say that after visiting family this week, I’m sort of second guessing the sex of my baby. While the ultrasounds clearly show a girl (or the non-existence of necessary male part), my body shows otherwise.
This week several people have pointed out that my body looks as if it’s carrying a boy. Instead of high, and all around, I’m carrying low and out. From the back I barely look pregnant. While I find it flattering, the constant comments are causing anxiety to set in. What if it IS a boy!? What if the ultrasound technicians “missed” something? What do I do with all this girly stuff (since no one sells gender neutral products nowadays)? Could multiple ultrasounds really be wrong!? Then I think about all the symptoms I’ve had throughout this pregnancy, specifically those that point to “girl”, and I know I must be having a girl.
For starters, right before I found I was pregnant, I suffered from serious back acne; a symptom I contribute to the change in hormones. I also became extremely emotional and I still am today. I cry so easily unlike before and my emotions can be all over the place at times. I highly doubt testosterone would make me this sappy. But the most obvious symptom that screams high estrogen production aka girl baby is the lack of hair on my legs and armpits. In the beginning, my belly grew so much dark, thick hair, I looked like I had a very manly beer gut. Now, the hair on my belly is barely visible and the hair on my legs and armpits grow thinly at a very, very slow rate. I have gone weeks without shaving because my legs still feel and look smooth. Only the increased hormones from a baby girl can do that, right!?
Either way, I’m still holding off on washing clothes and opening products until after baby is born. You would think my natural instincts would tell me boy or girl, but I was so sure I was having a boy until the ultrasounds showed a girl. That moment killed all my confidence. I could no longer trust my own instincts which is why I’m here now confused as crap. Ahhh!
Oh well. On another note, this week’s appointment was sort of disappointing. I went in hoping for good news that the baby was head down and engaged but instead we discovered a baby who was still floating freely…so freely that she seemed to have flipped back to breech! While I was a bit disappointed, my midwife and birthing team reminded me that having enough room for baby to move was a good thing. They also reminded me that I flipped her once I can flip her again, so home I went to study more on Inversions and daily belly mapping will be on my daily to-do list until I either go into labor or until my next appointment. Here’s to hoping I can flip baby back to the head down position, get this little booger engaged and labor started before 41 weeks!
The rest of my appointment went well. We did draw my blood to test my iron levels. Fingers crossed that my levels have significantly improved. (THEY DID!! Thank you liver and Floradix!)
My Stats:
  • Urine: Good!
  • Blood Pressure: 110/68
  • Weight: 155lbs
  • Measuring: 37cm – this is most likely due to the change in her position
  • Baby’s Position: Breeched Posterior?? Boo!
  • Baby’s HR: Strong!
For the remainder of the week, I spent my time nesting and food prepping for labor day. Yes, I said food prepping! It’s important to nourish your body and stay hydrated during labor and after delivery. A couple of popular recipes to have on hand include labor aid, a yummy sweet drink that helps restore electrolytes and provide an important nutrient, calcium magnesium, that helps the muscles function – muscles that will be used during labor and delivery! Another awesome recipe to have on hand: groaning muffins. These delicious muffins are sweet, fragrant, and nutrient and calorie dense. They are perfect for pregnancy, labor, postpartum and while nursing. I’m slowly making multiple batches to freeze for during and after labor. So good!
Other foods to have pre-prepped and on hand include ice chips made with coconut water or red raspberry leaf tea, a hearty meal to heat up and enjoy right after delivery and most importantly, food for your birthing team! They gotta eat too ya know J
Groaning Muffins for the Win!
Now that everything’s prepped all I have left to do is wait; and well continue hypnobirthing, massaging my perineum and keeping the house cleaned!

Week 40….or is it 39? (January 2 – January 11, 2015): The FINAL Week!

Well, my due date has passed and still no baby yet. I was so sure she would be born on her due date considering my first daughter was born on hers. I guess she will come on her own time. She has shown to have a mind of her own. Lord help me. Ha!
This week’s appointment was very similar to my last. We checked my blood pressure, urine, weight and of course the baby’s position. To our surprise baby girl had engaged! However, WHAT was engaged was still to be decided. Every time my midwife and assistant tried to check her position, baby girl would wiggle and move all over. My midwife guessed it was her head that was engaged and not her buttocks considering most breeched babies do not engage until labor begins, but with this baby, nothing was impossible. Again, she has a mind of her own.
My midwife finally received my records and after noticing that I had an ultrasound at 7 weeks has decided to go with the OB’s due date of January 13th. This gives me 10 extra days til I’m truly considered full term.  This also means we still have a due date that can be met. Maybe she’ll be born on the 13th! Wouldn’t that be crazy! I guess we’ll have to wait and see!
My Stats:
  • Urine: Good! Still producing antibodies which I have come to find out is associated with my consumption of gluten which can be found in my groaning muffins. Who knew!
  • Blood Pressure: 105/66
  • Weight: 156lbs
  • Measuring: 39 cm
  • Baby’s HR: 140’s
  • Position: ROP and engaged

I left my appointment happy and excited. Being engaged only meant baby was coming soon! My nerves began to set in as I realized I could go into labor at any moment. Am I physically and mentally prepared for this? Yes and no. But at this point there’s NO turning back. It’s now or never. I didn’t come all this way to back out now. I have a good reason to be anxious and nervous considering I’ve never been in real labor, but that’s why this experience is going to be worth it. I finally get to experience the true strength, will power and endurance God has given me as a woman. Plus, I have a few people to prove wrong….haha!! ;)
Well, here’s to hoping baby girl arrives before the 13th. While being pregnant has been such a fun, amazing and dare I say quite comfortable ride, I’m totally ready to see this baby!!! Bring on the labor!
As for my diet, exercise and symptoms:


I'm obsessed with cuties aka clementines. So juicy, sweet, slightly tart and refreshing. Plus they're super easy to grab when in a rush. I've also been craving smoothies again. My fave combo right now includes 2 frozen bananas, 1 cup frozen mango, almond milk, 3 Tbsp of hemp seeds and a handful of greens! Nom nommy! For lunch and dinner, it's always a warm meal. Mushrooms and peas with quinoa, cooked greens, pan seared tempeh are just a few of my faves.


Still walking my pup! He's gotten so big!!


Besides Braxton Hicks contractions, my main issue has been back pain. My lower back is always sore and achy. My midwife and doula recommend a chiro for an adjustment. I think they're right. :)

Monday, December 29, 2014

Weeks 36-38: And now we wait….

It’s hard to believe that we’ve made it to full term! Although the journey was quite crazy, I am so excited to finally bring this miracle baby into the world. As we patiently wait for nature to take its course, my husband and I have been working hard preparing for both birth and baby. We’re both excited and nervous for this whole new experience, but we’re also confident that it’ll be an amazing one. Can’t wait!


The past few weeks have been quite busy when it comes to prepping for baby. During week 36 we attended an AMAZING natural birth class by doula and childbirth educator, Elizabeth Schwartz. The class was both informative and entertaining; so much so that my husband could not stop saying on the way home how awesome the class was and how excited he was for our birth. Yes, the class was THAT good! We learned so much about prenatal care, the stages of labor, comfort measures to help deal with the discomfort as well as a few breastfeeding tips. Best of all, my hubby learned how HE could help! We both walked out excited, with a better understanding on what to expect when labor day comes and feeling more prepared and ready to go. Best class ever!? I think so!
Week 36 also marked the start of my weekly prenatal visits. My wonderful birth team decided to visit me at home for this week, allowing my husband and I time to get to know them all and how they work together. All I have to say is, I have a wonderful team by my side. Add in my husband and I have a feeling I am going to be well taken care of….and also thoroughly entertained.

During my appointment we did the normal check-up routine PLUS an iron test. What we discovered from the results of my iron test completely shocked me. My iron was low. REALLY LOW. As you may have recalled at the beginning of my pregnancy, my iron levels were great; something I contributed to my beautiful, plant-based diet. However, I guess the lack of interest in green smoothies and juices throughout this pregnancy led to a serious iron deficiency. It made sense too. The low iron explained why I was so tired all the time and why I exhausted so easily. Naturally, this concerned us all and so we discussed my plan of action: take desiccated grass-fed beef liver along with Vitamin C and Floradix Iron and Herbs. Then, in a week or two, we would draw my blood and check my levels again.
It worried me that my levels were so low, so I was determined to bring them up. I started consuming daily 3 tablets or 2,000mg of desiccated liver along with Vitamin C, 20ml of Floradix and my multi-vitamin. The results? I felt better. WAY better! I had energy again. Too much actually! It was crazy how quickly I began to feel more lively and energetic and my midwife even stated my overall look improved. I have to admit, I was in denial that I could be deficient in iron – especially on a plant based diet – but when your blood volume doubles and you have to provide iron for you AND another human being, it’s silly NOT to think that a deficiency is possible. Lesson learned for sure.

As for my other results:
  • Urine: Okay. Some proteins, but overall good.
  • Weight: 150 lbs
  • Baby’s Position: ROA or Rt Occiput Position (YEAH!!! An improved position for sure!)
  • Measuring: 36 cm (Perfect since I was 36 wks, 4 days)

We also discussed the multiple procedures that are performed on babies in the hospital and the options I had for each. My midwife provided us with a binder filled with information on each procedure, including the risks and benefits for each option, and encouraged us to read it prior to making our decisions. While I already knew which option I would choose, I still read each and every article. I was surprised by how much I DIDN’T know about each procedure. While my decisions ultimately remained the same, I feel way more informed, able to back up my decision should anyone question it.

The procedures in question included:
  1. Vitamin K shot
  2. Eye Ointment
  3. Hepatitis B Vaccine

While I opted to NOT have all three done, it’s important that all expecting parents become informed of the benefits and risks of having and not having the procedure done. An informed decision is a confident decision.

Last but not least we received and went over our birthing supply list. While we had most of the items already lying around the house, it was important that we had them all prepped and ready to be used. We purchased any items we didn’t have lying around the house (such as depends, haha!) and put together our birthing supply basket. Now, when the day arrives, everything will be available and easily accessible.

Before my team left, they dropped off one last item, the one thing I would need most for birth day: the birthing pool! The moment my hubby and I saw it, we realized this was it! Baby could be coming any day now! All of sudden, we both were in preparation mode. The nesting stage had finally hit.



During week 37, my husband and I did some major baby shopping and continued prepping for birth day and baby’s arrival. That week my birthing kit had also arrived, full of everything my midwife would need to help me through labor, delivery and post-partum. Since it was the week before Christmas and the week before my last day in the office at work, I didn’t focus too much on baby; which was fine because it made the week fly by pretty fast!
My 37 week appointment was pretty routine and simple. Baby was still in the right position and my vitals were looking good. My midwife was pleased to see that instead of looking ghostly and tired I was looking lively and rosy cheeked; a sign that my iron levels must have significantly improved. Overall things were looking great and we were all excited that I had finally reached 37 weeks because it meant my midwife was legally allowed to deliver my baby at home. Any earlier and I would have had to go to a hospital. Whew.

During this appointment we tested for GBS aka Group B Strep, a  bacterial colonization that can be found in a pregnant woman’s vagina and rectum. Women who test positive for GBS may possibly pass the infection on to their baby, which can cause a variety of complications if not quickly treated. Most physicians recommend antibiotics during delivery to prevent baby from contracting an infection however, there are alternatives to getting rid of GBS prior to delivery. The Wellness Mama wrote a great article on GBS and the protocol she used to get rid of it and to prevent it in future pregnancies. Thankfully, a few days after my appointment, my midwife delivered the good news that my results came back negative. Thank you kombucha, raw garlic and coconut oil!

As for my vitals:
  • Urine: Still detecting trace proteins
  • Weight: 151 lbs
  • Blood Pressure: 119/75
  • Heart Rate: 62
  • Measured: 37cm
  • Baby’s HR: Strong
  • Baby’s Position: Head down :D



During week 38 the need to nest hit me with full force. I spent the entire weekend cleaning the house from top to bottom and getting baby’s room ready. I cleaned every single baby item that I could and put them all away. My husband and I prepared the birthing room aka the upstairs foyer with seating, blankets, my birthing ball, birthing kit, supplies, pool, etc as well as our room with baskets filled with baby essentials waiting to be used once baby arrives.  I had such a need to get things done that my husband struggled to get me to sit down and watch a movie. I finally obliged to watching one movie with my family, but as soon as it was done I was back to cleaning and organizing. By the time the weekend was over, I had everything in its perfect place. Now all I had left to do was wait; and play with my new 100% covered by insurance, Medela breast pump. Wohoo! Finally, my insurance is good for something!

My week 38 appointment was again, routine. Nothing new to discuss or report.
  • Urine: Trace proteins....still. I give up.
  • Weight: 155lbs (Wowzers! Four pounds in one week!)
  • Blood Pressure: 109/74
  • Measured: 37cm (I gain 4lbs but still measure 37cm!? Weird)
  • Baby’s HR: Strong
  • Baby’s Position: ROA

Week 38 also marked the beginning of my pre-maternity leave leave. Thanks to my fabulous boss and co-workers, I started working from home full-time, giving me more time to relax, rest and prepare. In my opinion, the weeks leading up to birthing day are just as important as the 6 weeks post-partum. During those final weeks mom-to-be should find every way possible to disconnect with work and the obligations of everyday life and begin to rest, relax and connect with baby and body as she preps for labor and delivery. I know it’s not always possible for everyone to work from home or to avoid every duty required by mom-to-be especially if she has other children, but if she can find any way to make her day just a little bit less stressful than I have no doubts birthing day will go a lot smoother.

With the birthing room prepped, baby room organized, and everything in its place, all I can do now is rest, relax and wait for baby and body to begin their labor dance. I have a feeling someone is going to be like her sister and wait til her exact due dated to arrive. We shall see…

As for the other parts of my pregnancy:


My diet has been all over the place the past few weeks. Some days I have no appetite; others I can’t get enough to eat. I’ve been enjoying lots of fruits, specifically berries, bananas and oranges for breakfast along with coconut yogurt and oatmeal. For lunch, quinoa salads are still a staple. As for dinner, cooked greens, curried veggies with quinoa, and other cooked veggies are always a go to. For snacks, hummus, Mary’s Gone Crackers Pretzels, veggie sticks, fruit, dates and almond butter just to name a few. To drink, lots of water, NORA tea, kombucha and Natural Calm for magnesium. Nom nom!

Cravings: Chocolate, greens, lemon, and seafood.



Walking lot a boss! I walk once or twice a day for at least 30 minutes with my pup. I also chase him around a bit every morning. In the evening, I try and stretch as much as I can to ease some of the pelvic pain and leg cramps.


In the past few weeks, my belly has grown quite a lot. The extra weight has caused a lot of pressure on my back, hips and legs leading to more aches and pains. The worst part is, the aches and pain come mostly at night when I’m lying down resulting in a night of tossing, turning and no sleep. Some nights are better than others. It seems to all depend on how active I am during the day. The more active I am, the more nighttime aches and pains. I’ve tried stretching, pillow support, supplements, nothing works. Relief just comes as it pleases. Ugh. The joys of pregnancy! Other symptoms have included constant hunger, stronger Braxton hicks contractions and of course, the urge to nest which usually comes with a nice energy boost. Can’t complain about that! J

38 weeks down 2 more to go! At least I hope I only have 2 weeks left! But hey, can’t rush perfection right ;)

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Weeks 30 and Beyond: The Home Stretch!

We’re down to the last few weeks and I’m feeling the pressure to get things done before this baby arrives. (Hence the reason why I’ve been silent for the past several weeks).  Top that off with the holidays, birthdays and the end-of-year chaos at work and all of a sudden, the excited, motivated, pregnant momma that I once was has been replaced with a stressed out, bug eyed, pregnant momma who wants to do nothing more but cower into a dark corner and hide until the New Year arrives. Not healthy I know. So in order to tackle the stress, I decided to name December “All About Me” month.

Yes, you read that right! During the most giving month of the year I have become self-centered and selfish. It sounds completely Grinch-like, but I promise it’s not as bad as it sounds. I don’t think….
See, the past 36 weeks I have spent my days being supermom, leaving very little time to take care of myself. This, of course, is a personal issue since I have a hard time saying no and an even harder time asking for help – even from my husband. As a result though, I have become extremely stressed, tired and behind on my duties to prepare for the birth and arrival of my baby. With only 4 weeks before my due date, I decided to take back control of my life and focus on me. This meant saying no to parties, no to volunteering, no to gift buying and yes to help, sleep and preparing for my birth. Again, I know it sounds very Grinchy, but if you had to live with the Grinch that I have become, you wouldn’t argue one second with my decision. Wouldn’t you rather have a lazy, happy, healthy, slacker for a momma then an angry, grouchy, always yelling, super busy, gift-giving momma!?  Exactly my point. And I have to say, so far, so good. More sleep, more help, and more time to myself has resulted in a WAYYYY happier, less stressed me. In my opinion, it’s the best gift I could give to my family, my friends and most importantly, my baby this holiday season.
Besides all that, the past several weeks have been quite eventful and quite busy as we continue to prepare for our new journey to begin. The nesting stage has finally kicked in. I have been feeling very motivated to thoroughly clean every inch of my home and the nursery is as prepared as it’s going to get. All newborn clothes that have been generously given or donated to us have been washed, folded and organized. I have been prepping my body and mind for delivery by drinking my NORA tea, massaging my perineum, practicing my hypnobirthing and watching videos of home births in and out of the water. While I’ve gotten a lot done I still have a lot to do. However, as part of my “Me” month, I’m just focusing on one thing at a time. I figured things will get done when they need to be done. :)
So to catch you up, here are a few highlights from the past several weeks:

Week “30”

This week I attended a henna tattoo event with my midwife and neighbor (who is also my birthing assistant) at Ten Moons Midwifery in Front Royal. It was my first “girl’s night out” in years and something I totally needed to unwind and relax. Not only did I get to hang out and chat with several acknowledgeable midwives and birthing assistants, but I also got the wonderful opportunity to have my baby bump henna’d; something I’ve been wanting to do for months!! The results were BEAUTIFUL. The talented artist and midwife, Desiree, did a fabulous job on making one of my “pregnancy dreams” come true. It made me feel more confident, more at peace and my belly felt beautiful for once. If you’re pregnant and ever get the opportunity to have your belly henna’d I highly recommend you do it (as long as the paste that is being used is safe!). The only warning I do want to give is that the dry paste does stick to your belly hairs and hurts like hell coming off. Haha!

Week 31

Nothing much happened this week. I did attend my cousins 21st birthday party which involved lots of eating and dancing. All I have to say is, it’s quite hilarious to try and dance, especially the Cha Cha Slide, when you’re THIS pregnant. Let’s just say, getting down low was not an option!!

Week 32/33

This week I had my second appointment with my midwife! During this appointment I had a chance to meet my second birthing assistant, a midwife in training and also the maker of the delicious NORA tea that I am now drinking. As part of my daily routine to mentally and physically prep my body for delivery, I’ve been drinking several cups of NORA tea as recommended by my midwife.  This delicious tea is a wonderful combo of nettles, oat straw, raspberry leaf, and alfalfa. It is loaded with nutrients, such as iron, that supports the body pre-pregnanyc, during pregnancy, during birth as well as post-partum. It is highly recommended and loved by midwives and natural birth enthusiasts everywhere! Just wish I knew about this sooner! There are many ways to prepare it but right now, HOT is the best!

As for my appointment, as you might have recalled from my last appointment, I had a mission to turn my baby from the breeched, OP position to the head down, AP position. During the weeks in between my appointments I had been doing inversions in order to get baby girl to flip head down. Well, it worked! When my midwife checked baby’s position, she was head down, but still in the OP position. One down, one to go. My next mission: get her OUT of the OP position. That means no leaning back and tons of forward leaning!
Other Stats (33 weeks, 4 days):
  • Blood Pressure: 127/75 <-- Need to work on that!!
  • Heartbeat: 100/min (??)
  • Weight: 147lbs (Not too bad!)
  • Urine: Good minus the trace of proteins. Goal: Increase protein intake!
Overall, the appointment went very well. We have a lot to think about the next few weeks, but I’m confident that things are going to go well.
To Do List:
  • Lean Forward and move baby OUT of OP position
  • Drink NORA Tea
  • Massage Perineum
  • Practice hypnobirthing
  • Research and make sound decision on several newborn “procedures”
  • And as always RELAX!!!

Weeks 34 and 35

I totally lost track of weeks 34 and 35. Work became so overbearingly busy that all I could do every night was sleep. Stress was taking over every part of my body and all I wanted to do was shut down. It’s super sad but it is what it is. Thankfully it only lasted a couple of weeks. Whew.


Mostly back and pelvic pain, some swelling in my ankles and Braxton hicks contractions.


My diet the past several weeks has been all over the place. Breakfast is usually fruit with yogurt or oats, nuts and seeds. Lunch is either a salad or a quinoa salad which I have totally fallen in love with these past few weeks. I find a favorite combo and stick with it for multiple days in a row. Some yummy combos include quinoa, cukes, tomatoes, olives, and green onions with a delicious lemony vinaigrette. Another combo I adore is quinoa with bell peppers, green onions, cilantro, corn, tomatoes and a little lime. It’s a great way to boost protein intake and it’s super filling too. As for dinner, I’m still chowing down on muh greens. I seriously cannot get enough.
Snacks: kombucha, hummus, veggies, fruit, nut butter, dates and dried edamame beans
Cravings: Chocolate, seafood


I’m still walking with my big pup. It’s only 20 minutes or so but it’s super refreshing to get outside and stretch my legs…even if it is only 30 degrees out.

As I said, things are pretty chaotic, but I’ll try my best to send weekly updates until BIRTH DAY arrives! It’s down to the last few weeks!! Exciting!!


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Week 28 and 29: We have a Midwife!!! Home birth bound.

P.S. I know this is a month late…better late than never!

The past two weeks have been extremely exciting! For starters, my husband and I made a final decision to go with a home/water birth and chose a midwife who we both absolutely adore!

For the past several months - actually, ever since I started this pregnancy journey - the desire for a home/water birth sat on the sidelines as I attempted to manage the diagnosed, “high-risk” situation I was in. As I inched closer and closer to my delivery date, my anxiety increased as I debated on how exactly I would talk to my OB about my desires for a natural birth. Our discussion about alternate glucose testing didn’t go well, so I could only imagine what sort of response I would receive when I handed him my birth plan to look over. My requirements were extensive and completely “out-of-the-norm”. I just knew that very few would truly be met. However, no matter how anxious I got, I stuck with the OB because I felt that being in a “high-risk” situation, it was the right thing to do for the safety of my baby.

Then I met a wonderful friend who enlightened me more about home births and recommended a few midwives to contact and consider. After contacting our chosen midwife, I discovered that my condition, unless severe, is not really a high-risk situation at all. While we do not know the actual length of the septum that forms my bicornuate uterus, we’re positive it’s not long enough to cause any damage to me or my baby’s development. Yep, all this time, I could have had a less stressful, WAY less expensive pregnancy. I mean, I’m grateful that the doctors were being cautious and I no doubt, enjoyed seeing my baby girl every couple of weeks, but the amount of anxiety I had to endure and the amount of money that I had to put out was not worth it at all. Lesson learned. This alone validated my decision to switch to a midwife; even if I did have to put more money out. At least I knew I would finally be in the care of women who truly CARE about me, my body and my baby and follow the same traditional methods that I so strongly believe in.

After making this decision, finding our wonderful midwife and finally making the switch, I have to say that I am BEYOND relieved. The birth plan is basically out the window (for the most part); our midwife has been paid in full so I have no more financial worries (except for getting reimbursed from insurance – that’s a story for another day); and last, I can actually enjoy preparing for my birth! I couldn’t be happier!

Besides choosing a midwife, I not only had my first appt with my midwife but I also had my babyshower! I told you it was an exciting two weeks. J


Week 28

As I mentioned above, the first thing we did this week was choose our midwife, Kim Haines, midwife and owner of Barefoot Journey Midwifery and Co-Op. After meeting with Kim at our free consultation, my husband and I both agreed that she was the perfect candidate for the new ‘provider’ position. Her personality was catchy, she was easy to talk to as well as to understand, and we both loved her attention to details. Oh, and her price? Incomparable. Just looking at her website you get an idea of all the services you get for one set price. When you consider how much you fork up for prenatal care and for a hospital birth, THIS is nothing! AND if you can work it right, you may actually get partially reimbursed by your insurance company. So basically, at the end of the day, I’m paying very little for the best care that I actually WANT! How can you say “No” to that? You don’t. J

Week 29

The following weekend after meeting and choosing my midwife, I had my babyshower! When my mom first mentioned a babyshower a month or so back, I was a bit hesitant since this was my second child and I didn’t want to look greedy. After having it though, I’m so glad we went ahead with it! It was just a small get together with family and friends that turned out to be a huge success thanks to my mom’s efforts and fabulous party planning skills. That day I couldn’t have been more blessed…and more tired! HAHA.

Oh, and the overwhelming amount of gifts! It made me realize that I still  have a lot to do to prep for this baby. Aaaah!

The next day I had my first appointment with my wonderful midwife! We went over all the details of our contract and discussed sort of how things would go from now until the day I deliver. She taught me how to test my urine for certain things such as proteins and we tested my glucose via a finger prick which turned out to be perfect. She then had me lie down flat on my back in order to feel where the baby was positioned.  Come to find out the little booger is not only diagonally breeched, but she’s also in the OP, or Occiput Posterior, position. In other words, her bum is down towards my pelvis and she’s facing outward towards my belly button as opposed to inward towards my spine. What does this mean!? Well, not much now, but if she remains like this and doesn’t move into the right position, then momma is going to be doing some serious body work to get her to adjust. It also means I made the perfect decision to go with a midwife. At least I know she’ll deliver a breeched baby if necessary. The OB would send my butt straight to the ER for a C-Section. THAT was NOT gonna happen!  

While lying down we also listened to the baby’s heart beat using a fetoscope, which was unique and different. Instead of hearing the loud, rhythmic heartbeat that you get with a doppler, I heard a faint, muffled heartbeat straight from the womb. That made the fact that I’m carrying a tiny human being so much more real! It was amazing! Thankfully, I was able to hold back my happy tears as to not scare my midwife, but honestly to hear my baby girl’s heartbeat in that way pulled the deepest strings of my heart. I fell so much more in love with her that day and my excitement to soon see her, grew dramatically.  Can’t wait!

Other notes from my appointment include:
  • Weight – 144 Lbs
  • Blood Pressure – 116/70
  • Due Date – January 2nd (Yes, we’re currently going with my LMP)
By the end of my appointment I had a list of fun things to do:
  • Visit and practice moves to get the baby to move into the optimal position
  • Schedule an all-day natural birthing class
  • Massage my perineum to prevent tearing
I also added:
  • Continue practicing hypnobirthing techniques
  • Complete billing paperwork for insurance reimbursement
  • Figure out which oils to purchase for labor and delivery
  • Rest and relax!
That last one is still a toughy, but I’m learning.
As for the rest....

My Diet

Breakfast: Kombucha, yogurt parfaits, overnight oats and an occasional smoothie
Lunch: Salads galore!
Dinner: Cooked greens, potatoes, squash and veggies usually with rice
Snacks: Apples and nut butter, bananas, dried fruit, raw trail mix, popcorn
Cravings: Anything salty, fresh, baked bread, cheese and chocolate. Horrible!

My Exercise Routine

Nothing is better than a ½ mile walk with my pup. I’m also doing some stretching when I can.

Pregnancy Symptoms 

The baby moves frequently which I love to feel. The pressure of the weight, however, has caused a lot of hip and pelvic pain. Stretching seems to give some relief but honestly, I think it’s just all part of the fun.  Gotta love it!

Short and sweet. Nothing to complain about. Nothing to brag about either. Just cruising along on the pregnancy boat. Our final destination is not too far away!