A Poem Update

So I’ve been messing around writing poems lately. Have always found them slightly corny and avoided branching out much into that area of creative writing. Lately, however, I’ve been finding them fairly fun to play with, especially since I’m a little more self assured in my writinghood. 🙂 This one got kind of heavy, but totally reflects what’s been on my heart and mind lately.

Here is a poem about my life’s recent musings. My struggles as a sick mom with three sick babies seemed so overwhelming and perilous in the two weeks I suffered through it. But now that I’m feeling better and have more energy I can’t help but be reminded that I live a life that is nothing but blessed. Meanwhile, I struggle with compassion for my loved ones that are so bad off. But I know in my heart that eternity is the seat of our existence and peace through it all can still be had.

Here goes…

Out of the ashes and into the new,
I feel I can do anything I put my mind to

The pain has cleared, my swelling gone down,
My hearing is back- I no longer can frown

A happiness and peace I can hardly describe,
Fills my soul and helps me feel high

I am no longer sick nor my babies unwell,
Life no longer feels like a temporary hell

Though my body feels better, my heart feels heavy,
For the loved ones I know whose health is unsteady

Two uncles have I whom their health I have learned,
Has reached a point of no return

Each hanging on by just a thread,
I wonder how long left in life they will tread

Some others I know deal with chronic hellish pain,
That kind that could make you go insane

I think about my love and compassion for these,
I long to destroy all the suffering and disease

I think of my blessings and things feel so right,
I’m thankful to be underneath divine light

My heart goes to you who are struggling and frail,
The seas of peaceful waters I pray soon you will sail

Trust in The Lord with all of your heart,
His love is unfailing from finish to start

He is outside of time, of bodies, of illness,
Where the soul will soon go after life and it’s distress

There is forgiveness and love beyond your greatest desire,
A pure and blinding white Holy fire

Open your heart to the powers that be,
See that your soul can be lifted and free.

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3 under 2.5: Recipe for Insanity! Preparation for Greatness.

January 19, 2014 was the first day of the rest of my life. This was the day my son was born, and the first day that I could officially say that I have 3 kids under 2.5 years old (and no twins, mind you). John and I have heard all the lame remarks in the last couple years that you could possibly imagine, such as “Do you know how that happens?!” and “You should put a TV in your bedroom,” and “Yes, they HAVE been busy…” Ha. Ha. Ha. Yeah… Soooo funny. As it turns out, true love, attraction, and fertility are an ironic mixture for a life where good times don’t come as easy as everyone else likes to think. Because let me tell you, my life is INSANITY right now.

What I endure on a constant daily basis as a stay at home mom of a 2.5 year old, 1.5 year old, and a newborn is no laughing matter. Sure, I do get a good laugh out of the hilarious things my 2 year old comes up with, and yeah, I do love to giggle with both of my girls about silly things like dancing their hearts out to Abba, and of course I love to get my newest baby to coo, and yes, I LOL on the inside at 5am when my baby sharts so hard that it scares the dog… but dear God am I exhausted, overwhelmed, and feeling like a failure more times in my daily life than not. This is HARD!!!

If I have less than 5 times a day where my stress level isn’t spiking up to the red danger zone, it’s been a great day. Nervous breakdowns have been a weekly regular for me. It took me much longer to heal from my last birth (still not quite 100% there yet) because I have had to chase 2 toddlers around when I should have been curled up in bed with my infant son. My middle child started sleeping through the night 2 weeks before my newest was born. I haven’t even really touched on the mental struggles I have with maintaining my house. Oh and did I mention I have 3 in diapers??

Do you believe me when I tell you that my life is insanity right now? Being perpetually nauscious for 4 months, 3 separate times through my pregnancies was hard. Having 3 completely natural labors/births was hard. But this… this is a whole new level up. And it happens to be my new norm for the next 5 years or so.

What I have gathered in my very brief chances to ponder what all this means for me in the long run is that I am earning my PhD in multitasking 50 things at one time. My mind is busier than downtown New York. My planning and preparation skills have become absolutely remarkable. Out of necessity, I have become a decent cook of the meals I enjoy the most. I am more confident than ever before, because I am realizing what I am really capable of. It’s no wonder to me why Moms get sad decades down the road and miss these golden early days even though they were yearning for easier days at the time- though I feel inadequate sometimes, I ultimately believe that what I am managing to accomplish is a true feat, and a testimony of my maximum potential- which I hope will never just be “a thing of the past.” While I long for more sleep and have become hysterical more than once after only a few hours of it (broken up), I can only pray that I will continue to exercise my potential self to do great things long after my kids are “easier” or grown and gone. I know what I’m truly capable of managing now. It’s really just the beginning. And I must, I WILL use this training to manage amazing things in the future alongside of and outside of motherhood.

I love, cherish, and adore being a mother to 3 incredible, beautiful children. But in my heart and soul I know that in addition to raising a best friends trio of critical thinking, compassionate, hard working, artistic, world changers, I still have work to do as a wife, a writer, and a philosopher of life whose desire is to do great things and leave an imprint on this earth and the people in it that lasts beyond my lifespan.

With my mental sanity and even my physical body being challenged constantly, let this be a reminder to myself that these days will pass more quickly than I can fathom and that I cannot let myself slow down and become sad, longing for the early days when I operated at my full potential at some far date in the future. My babies are so precious, and I do successfully make many conscious efforts to maintain peace and gratitude for my exhausting blessings (those are the truly beautiful moments of my life). So for now, I will keep on keeping on, until one day I wake up and realize that things really are getting easier. And then I will have graduated to the next chapter of raising kids. And I can never let the perseverance that I learned from raising 3 babies under 2.5 waste away only to memories and photographs. To my dearest husband and closest family and friends: please keep me accountable to never let this struggle be in vain. I am woman, I am wife, I am daughter, I am mother. And I can conquer anything through the power and glory, and blessing of The Lord.

The detailed birth story of my beautiful son Levi John!

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Greetings my friends and family who have happened upon my poor neglected blog! Just one week out from the birth of my sweet son Levi John, I am determined to write up a detailed account of my labor and delivery story before it fades in my memory. Overall, I am beyond pleased with the whole experience! Of all 3 of my unmedicated, minimal intervention hospital births, this one was my “most natural” in that my waters broke naturally as opposed to my first two labors where I allowed my doctor to break the bag for me. I also took no iv water for hydration (had 1 bag for Lena’s labor) and opted to skip a bag of pitocin after the birth which I reluctantly agreed to for Lena’s post birth, and regretted. (Supposedly helps the uterus contract back to normal and minimize hemmorage risk). I felt like it interfered with my natural oxytocin after her birth and specifically wanted to skip that this time, which I did after discussing it with my doctor. So, even though it’s in the minor details, Levi was my very most “hands off” birth so to speak. It was a longer labor than Lena’s (13 hours vs 6.5 hours), but ultimately the last 3 hours of this birth were true hard, active labor. So it really depends what I count since this time my labor was very slow to start. So here it is, my labor story! I don’t think I got too explicit but do proceed with caution. 🙂

Saturday evening (January 18th) my girls and my husband and I all went over to my parents house for spaghetti dinner. Those last couple of weeks were so hard on me and doing family outings was feeling like such a chore. However, making dinner was just about as much of a burden, therefore we opted to go have a meal prepared with love by my mom on this particular Saturday. It was so delicious. But I think I ate about 1/3rd of what I put into my bowl before waddling over and laying down on the couch. It seemed like there was a lot going on in the house that night but all I could do was lay down and keep more to myself. I feel distant, a little grouchy, and by 9pm I felt this wave of extreme exhaustion. All day I had been sniffling and somewhat sneezy. I had heard of this being a labor sign and I was convinced that it was a precursor since I had no other cold symptoms! I even told that to my mom when we first got to her house this particular night. We finally loaded up the car and headed home around 10. I was so glad to get home. It was a late night for my girls, and I went to bed at my usual bedtime, around midnight.

7am the next morning arrived with a POP! I was gently woken up by this familiar feeling and knew my water had broken. I asked John to get me a towel, and my suspicion was confirmed when I sat up and felt the fluid loss! The reason I say it was familiar is because when I first began labor with Eva, I felt the “pop” too! Strangely though, my water did not break with my labor with her. This was the real thing though. I should also add that weeks earlier, I had an intuition/premonition that my water would spontaneously break for this labor (never had that happen with my prior babies) and surely enough, it did. THREE times! But I’ll get to that later.

After I woke up to my water breaking, my first reaction was that I got really anxious. All these months leading up to the great unknown “d day” and the more recent days and weeks had me feeling pretty nervous at times. Since I had such a defining start to this big day, it was scary to take in at first. I took a little shower after I made my way into the bathroom. It relaxed me, and I prayed for peace, strength, and endurance for my imminent labor.

I don’t think I got a contraction until a good 30 minutes after my water broke. The ones that came after were also sparse and very gentle. I used this early time to my advantage to get my things together that I had been putting off. I made my phone calls to my family to inform them of the news and attempted to plan out the scenario of the coming hours. Having subsequent children really makes things tricky in this type of situation. There’s only so much planning that can be done before the true time. I am so thankful for the timing of everything with my labor with Levi. I had prayed for a morning/day labor, and it happened. I prayed for my mom to be able to be there through my labor, and she was (would have had her be with my girls if necessary). I prayed for things to go smoothly for the sake of my girls, and it did. It was so amazing how beautifully everything unfolded.

I had a good 2 hours of downtime from 7-9am before my girls woke up. I used this time to gather some last minute things, and sit. Sit and relax, and mentally prepare as best I could. Believe it or not, I started a load of laundry too. My mom and sister came over and brought me some specifically requested blueberry muffins from the Kroger bakery. It was so delicious and satisfying. I relaxed and enjoyed the morning time with my girls with the help of John and my mom and sister. Contractions were coming, but 10-15 minutes apart, and nothing painful at all.

11 o’clock or so rolled around and I began to feel a little annoyed that my labor wasn’t progressing too much. This was 4 hours after my water broke and I was wanting to get the ball rolling. I didn’t want to go to the hospital prematurely, but at the same time, I didn’t want to have to wait TOO many hours before showing up. My sister and Todd and I went on a walk down my street and back. This really helped me get more consistency in my contractions. I was having to stop and stand through about half of them, but most I could walk through, and all of them I could talk through.

When we got back, I called my in laws to go ahead and come over to help my sister out with the girls while my mom and husband and I left for the hospital. Still, I was purposefully slow in getting out the door. I even considered stopping by the mall the walk around awhile before going into the hospital.

I was getting hungry at this point but didn’t want anything heavy and I knew I shouldn’t really eat as per the Dr/hospital recommendation in the event of an emergency c section, so we opted to stop by smoothie king on the way to the hospital for easy protein.

John went ahead to the hospital and I went with my mom in her car (smoother ride). In the car my contractions were becoming more intense. Had to focus on breathing through them more, and they started coming 5 minutes or less apart at some points. My smoothie turned out to be gross. I couldn’t do more than 10 sips or so. Screw smoothie king. Jamba Juice is the way to go!

Since it was about 1pm on a Sunday, we hit a little bit of traffic trekking through the woodlands. While we sat at a light, I had a sudden, scary, rush of fluid loss! Just as much, if not more than the initial water break (I guess I did a good job of staying really hydrated all morning), and it was UNstoppable. My moms jean jacket was the only available item for helping to contain it! Sorry mom! So ironic, because John had towels in his car for this very potential occasion.

About 10 minutes after this, we were pulling up to the front circle at the hospital. Contractions were definitely coming, and before the car stopped in front of the doors, my water broke… AGAIN! Just as much fluid as both times before!!! No lie. It was so freaky! I was beginning to think that maybe Levi was closer to birth than I knew. The surprise of these two separate car water-breakings had me pretty shaky when I arrived. John was there waiting, and had a wheel chair for me. We checked in, and they gave me a room right off the bat since my water had broken and it had been 6 hours from the first time by then.

So it was around 2ish when I was roomed. My contractions were averaging about 3-5 minutes apart, some closer, some further. I’d say they were about a 5 on a pain scale of 10. I took a quick rinse off shower, did some of the protocol paper signing, and got my hep lock in my arm, and did some fetal monitoring. And of course, I got my first cervix check…. and I was 4 centimeters along, and 50% effaced. Darn! Was hoping to be further along, but I also found it funny since I was 4cms along when I arrived for BOTH of my previous labors with Eva and Lena!

I spent a good while just sitting upright in my bed, getting through contractions, and letting reality sink in that I made it through all the initial parts of labor, the unexpected triple water breaking, all the signing in, and meeting nurses. All these things during labor are quite distracting, and I was so glad to be settled into the very spot where I soon would birth my baby boy. “This is where it is going to happen. Right here in the room, on this bed,” I kept thinking.

I finally got the gumption up to do some walking around the labor and delivery wing. When John and I were making our way down the halls together, it seemed like I couldn’t get 20 feet without a pretty hard contraction. I definitely wasn’t walking through contractions at this point and breathing through them was gradually becoming a challenge, yet I would say my pain management was probably above average, compared to my past labors.

I walked about 15 minutes every hour for about 3 hours. Unfortunately I began experiencing back labor also. I spent about 20-30 minutes sitting up in the bed, about 10 minutes standing, and about 15-20 minutes on the squatting ball… Like this for a few hours. 4:30pm came around and I really felt my contractions getting hard. After 30 minutes of contractions that were significantly rough, I decided that I wanted to be checked again…. At 5pm, I was only 5cms!!! Okay, I cried. (I cried between 2 contractions only, because crying through a contraction would not have been possible- had to suck it up and breath correctly.) Things were getting SO hard, and I thought I would have been done, at least CLOSE by dinner time. I was hungry, I was tired, and a little discouraged. Some family and friends were in and out of the room which was a nice distraction, but things were really starting to suck at this point and moaning during the exhale of a contraction was pretty much the norm by now.

My nurse had discussed the fact that my baby may be face up due to the fact that my contractions were coming in 2’s and because I was having the back labor. She said that it could potentially mean it may be harder to push him out. She suggested positioning myself in a forward lean position and swaying my hips through contractions to relieve the back labor and to try to help him move to the right position. This freaked me out a little so I did exactly what she suggested after a little while.

Around 6pm there was a shift change and I got a new nurse. This definitely throws a person off. Not one of the great benefits of birthing in a hospital. However, the new nurse was a Lamaze instructor of over 20 years, was significantly older, sweeter, and just generally more loving. Maybe silly to say but she was special, and I appreciated her gentle spirit. Plus I think she enjoyed the fact that I was going for a completely natural birth.

I think it was about 7pm when I finally decided that I wanted to take a hot shower. A hot shower did a miracle in me during my extremely long labor with Eva so I was hopeful that it would help me out. When I discussed the plan with the nurse, Linda, she said something funny to me about how “If you feel like you’re going to push a baby out, pull that emergency string.” I think this image was in my subconscious during my shower. When I was in that shower, I leaned forward/down and gripped the built in seat and swayed my hips while the water was on my back. If this baby was facing the wrong way as my previous nurse suggested, I was desperate to get him lined up correctly. My contractions in this shower and in that forward position was nothing short of hardcore. I could almost feel him descending on my cervix. Things were definitely reaching a whole new level and I really think that my position and that 20 minute shower made things progress in a big way. My mom peered in as I turned off the water. “Dry me!” I exclaimed between contractions. I couldn’t talk when those rushes came, they were coming close together, my exhale was getting pretty vocal, and my whole body was getting shaky.

“Call the nurse, tell her I’m close!” I told my mom and John. She came in as I was desperately climbing up onto the bed before a contraction. My legs were still wet I think, and my hair was probably absolutely ridiculous since it was forgotten about, in a ponytail, 50% wet from my intense shower time.

The nurse checked me that one last time, and I was at 8 centimeters dilated. She scrambled to make the call to my obstetrician that he needed to hurry and get there in time. Yeah. That didn’t happen. Lol. It was pretty much the same story during my labor with Lena. They checked me and I was at 8cm, and within 10-15 minutes she was out, into the hands of my not doctor. Yep, that’s how it was this time again! My sister wanted to be there for the delivery and when she came in after I had just climbed up on the bed I looked at her and said, “It’s coming soon- if you want to be here, come stand back here (back left of me and my bed) and don’t move!” John and my mom were in position, and the nurse got ready to deliver my baby at 8:01pm, 13 hours after my water broke… the first time.

Needless to say, those last 15 minutes were extremely uncomfortable, intense, and overwhelming. I was more conscious of my birthing sounds and vocalization this time than my previous births. Maybe it’s just fresh in my memory, but I think I did get a little loud. I am certain the same can be said about my other two deliveries though. At the end it is hard to inhale smoothly and calmly too (for me, at least). And several friends and family members nearby in the hallways overheard it all. Oh well!

The time to push was undeniably primal feeling. I could feel him descending through the birth canal. What intrigued me the most during this pushing phase were the three distinct, painless, short “breaks” I had between those last contractions when he was sort of in limbo. Oh, the indescribable feeling of being so incredibly close to it all being over, yet the anticipation of the very scariest part of the whole ordeal!

There was a random older nurse lady who came into the room in the last 10 minutes or so I guess to help out my primary nurse. She was almost sort of pushy with me about my breathing, sort of sternly/loudly telling me to “breathe!!” (exhale with focus). She helped to push my leg back as well in those final moments too. She was a random addition to the experience but she got my attention above all the chaos and directed me in a way that I needed.

One of my favorite moments during the last stage was when I could feel him getting close to the end and my nurse Linda said “one more contraction and we will have a baby”… If I could sum up my internal feelings into one word at those last moments before the actual birth it would be “YUUSSSSSS!!!!!!” Because at this point, there is NO turning back, and it is like having to scale an impossible wall, and then just freaking doing it. The last two pushes (one for his head and the other for his shoulders) were the hardest pushes, but so totally doable in that moment. And when his shoulders were out, it was DONE!! I got to hold him right away and needless to say, the feelings of relief, accomplishment, happiness, excitement, alertness, and love for my newborn baby… all mixed equally into those post delivery moments is just indescribable!!

A few minutes later my OB showed up to do the hard job of checking to see if I had any tears (thank God I didn’t)! If I didn’t have uncomplicated births, I would definitely be more annoyed with my doctor for not making it for 2/3rds of my children’s births, but thankfully I didn’t exactly need his medical assistance and expertise. Not to mention the 1 he actually did show up for I ended up with an episiotomy. Coincidence? It’s debatable. I also don’t fully blame him since the hospital/ nurses make that call on when to tell him to come and I couldn’t exactly communicate the growing intensity while I was in my shower… I mean there’s only so much that can be done when you go from like 8cm to birthing a baby in a matter of moments which seems to be what I’m good at!

In conclusion, I am deeply grateful that I have managed THREE unmedicated/natural childbirths in a hospital! My birthing philosophy is obviously that of minimal intervention if baby and mommy are fairing well, and I have been beyond blessed to have manifested my desired birth plan for basically all of my children! The last part of my labor with Eva was a little crazy and didn’t go as I wished, but my subsequent labors more than made up for all that (see my older post on my abridged birth stories of my girls). There is definitely a part of me that wishes I could have done home births- in hindsight I would have been a really great candidate for that, but at the same time, I know I am a great testimony of how to do it naturally in a medical establishment. While I do take credit for all the research and mental preparation that goes into planning a labor and birth (not to mention the physical aspect), I must also give much credit to Memorial Hermann hospital and the really wonderful, supportive, understanding staff that I had the pleasure of encountering along the way! I know I am so fortunate to have had these great experiences with childbirth and I do not take that for granted at all. I also feel like I should add that I do not intend to brag or come across as prideful or arrogant because of my labor and birthing choices. While I do maintain a significant sense of personal accomplishment about my birthing achievements, I most definitely do not look down on other women’s different birthing experiences! No matter how it happens, a healthy baby is such an indescribable miracle. Being able to birth it the way nature intended in our modern society is simply a way to make it all that much more awesome, if that method is your passion and desire. Thanks be to God for allowing me to fulfill these dreams of my motherhood journey the way I have deeply desired, x3!! I wish for all my friends and family and acquaintances to have great labors and births the way that they envision and plan for too! In the mean time I am cheering all you pregnant and future pregnant ladies on to experience birthing the way nature intended. It is so worth it if you can do it too!

Even the best days of motherhood can be rough.

I sit here, finally, after hours and hours of nonstop “things” to do. “Activities!” Is the general exclamation that has been going through my head as I gallop through the day. What can I do next that will entertain, enrich, and productively make use of my children’s days? Between feeding them, changing their diapers, and making my own bathroom trips, there is little room for relaxation. I have this really bad habit where sometimes I sit myself down on the couch and check the happenings on my phone for a desperate chance to unwind, yet I find myself bored and restless, and feeling guilty that I am preoccupied with my phone in the presence of my children.

Blog Photo 2Last night at 10pm, I happily prepared some homemade evaporated milk/food dye paints for my young 2 year old to have a try at for the first time this morning. Then, the first chance this morning after morning milk and snacks, I prepared the half of the table that Eva was to paint on. I taped overlapping pieces of newspaper to themselves and to the table, then taped the large rectangular white paper over the newspaper, taped some foil down next to it to catch drops of paint that would surely drip from the brush between the styrofoam egg carton paint holder and the paper. I put double stick tape under the egg carton to keep it grounded to the foil, and snapped a picture of the awesomely prepared painting set up. I was proud, but more excited to see it in action. To my dismay, when I pushed Eva up to the table in her highchair, I realized that I had taped everything about 2 inches too far away from her. Enter: several minutes of ripping up tape, newspaper along with it, reassigning tape on the corners, foil bits, and all- to stabilize it closer to the edge. Ah, motherhood. If at first you don’t succeed, have some icing on your cake and do a little extra work.

Blog Photo 4Painting was so awesome, by the way. Eva made a pink and purple masterpiece. I showed her how to “dip it” and “brush” the paper, directed her to color all the white areas, and blotted up excess liquid. With a tiny bit of my help, she created a masterpiece! I’ll definitely be framing it in the near future! For now it hangs proudly on our kitchen/dining room wall. I am so proud of her and her creation. It would make me so happy to raise daughters who can express themselves beautifully through art, in whatever medium they most enjoy.

Blog Photo 5Directly following painting came crayon time with both my 1 and 2 year old. My younger one was a little fussy and I think she felt left out, so as soon as Eva was done, I rushed to put her painting out of reach, ripped up all the newspaper in a hurry, taped down their coloring pages, and busted out all the crayons. Not quite sure my youngest is ready for painting, so I wanted to give her the creative outlet of “coloring” so she felt more included. After over a half an hour of craft time, I was ready for a break. And this was before the more thorough clean up and “almost-disaster” where Eva reached up on the counter and almost grabbed and spilled the food dye paints everywhere! The 5 second heart attack I got from that was a nice afterthought of art time. A careless placement of those paints too close to the counter edge could have cost me so much. But this time, I got lucky.

Blog Photo 1What I have described so far was a matter of minutes of my day with my two daughters Eva and Lena. Our evening grocery trip for a few basics was another very tiring hour. Both of these art and shopping events were interesting undertakings, and there were countless other wakeful and extremely busy hours that demanded my mental and physical energy. I changed about 5 poops, I hurt my back lifting both girls at once, and made the annoying mistake of dumping out some collected rainwater on my back patio at the start of our evening backyard time, which Lena decided would be fun to sit in and crawl all over. “How could I be so careless to dump that water out right there on the concrete?” I asked myself several times when I was trying to get some fresh air and “relax.” All I could think about was my mistake and how I would later go about cleaning her up since I had already made the executive decision that it was too late, I was too tired, and the girls weren’t dirty enough for baths tonight. When does it get easier? I wonder. And then I am reminded by the little baby kicks inside my belly that his journey hasn’t even really begun yet.

Blog Photo 6I could go on… I could write double or triple the amount I have written thus far, just on the “activities,” struggles, and triumphs of my day- just ONE day of my stay at home mom life! And despite the rewarding, exhausting, productive happenings of my day, I feel mentally wound up, defeated by my unfolded laundry, and somehow a little bit bored and yearning for my own version of fun. I don’t even know what that means to me anymore. Why is it that despite all my efforts, I am left feeling slightly bothered? My bed time has come, and I am glad to rest, but my calling will resume on the flip side and I won’t even get the chance to ponder it all for many, many more hours.

Motherhood called- you forgot to take a shower today.

Hello again, and here are some updates on my world!

I have been MIA for a couple months due to my third pregnancy! I’ve been struggling to get through many hard weeks of nausea. Since I’ve been around the block a few times, I would say that I have been handling it a little better this time than with my last two (fairly sure I had undiagnosed hyperemesis gravidarum, which is basically extreme, constant, extended, all day sickness). I’ve had some exceptionally hard weeks and days this time around, but I am now 15 weeks along and feeling a little more hopeful! If my last pregnancies are anything to go by, I should be a lot better off by next month or so. I do apologize for the temporary hiatus, but just getting through the day has taken priority over any of my other side projects and ambitions, including blogging.

Since I have last blogged, I have celebrated my 3rd wedding anniversary, celebrated my youngest daughter’s 1st birthday, and my oldest daughter’s 2nd birthday! Believe it or not, they share 1 month each year where they are both the same year age. The night before Eva, my 2 year olds birthday, I kissed “my little one year olds” goodnight for the last time. Something that not too many people can say they do or have done! So far, life with a 2 year old has been pretty interesting. Eva is now saying small sentences, is gaining a hilarious sense of humor, is communicating her love for her friends and family more than ever (so rewarding), as WELL AS… becoming a little more hostile towards her younger sister at times, getting really close to being able to climb out of the playpen/crib, and throwing more silly fits here and there. With the awesomeness there seems to be some additional challenges, but I think I have always expected this based on what I’ve heard about age 2. My youngest, Lena, is cutting some bigger teeth after a couple months of no teething! She is more expressive and vocal than ever at 13 months old and she is VERY close to walking now! She glides along the couch and lower tables pretty easily and after about 7 months of her famous belly crawl, she finally figured out that it is less work to crawl on her hands and knees. She, too, is so fun to watch grow into the next stages. Her stubborn personality has really been interesting to contend with at times, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Her hair is starting to wave out on the ends where it is getting longer and she is such a snuggly love bug. My children are beautiful, thriving, and little handfuls of love.

And soon, I will have yet another little one to watch grow up! I am due on February 3rd, 2014. I am glad to have a due date that is a few weeks removed from the winter holidays. I was a little nervous about potentially being due around Christmas- I like to have things a little more spaced out, for sanity’s sake! It took a few weeks for me to actually start looking forward to restarting the whole new human being baby thing all over again, but as I carry on and as my children grow out of the baby stages (and as I see more friends and family getting new little bundles too), I am definitely more excited to get a new little love again. The thrill of having a newborn really is so amazing. However, before this can happen, the whooooolllle carrying a baby to around 40 weeks thing has to happen, plus that little thing we like to call the labor and delivery process. And you know, I just don’t think I’m quite ready for that again. Yet. I feel like after 2 un-medicated births in under a year, I’ve kind of proven my capabilities and my point, you know? Like, I did it, and I did it both times pretty well and I feel like I had closure with what went wrong the first time with what went right the second time. And now I have to have another go at it already! I do look forward to an even shorter labor time (17.5 hours the first time, 6 hours the second time) if by God’s grace the trend continues, but I must say, I’m slightly over the whole birthing thing. I’m betting in a few months after a few more pounds in my uterus, I’ll be inviting that glorious, primal, insane day to come quickly, but for now, I’m just going to push it out of my mind and wonder what my third child will be like when he/she arrives.

So these are my latest updates in my life and journey of pregnancy and motherhood. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading up on them. I am still doing monthly contributions on Hybrid Rasta Mama’s blog on the topic of humanity/authentic living, so keep an eye out for those. And I promise the next blog update you get from me will be sooner than this one was from the last.

 CarasFinalSigCaraJean

Musings on my Unmedicated Births

After two full years of pregnancy, postpartum recovery, more pregnancy, and more postpartum recovery, being 9 months out from the birth of my most recent baby is leaving me feeling GREAT! Having two daughters just 11 months apart has really been quite an undertaking. Finally, I am beginning to feel this ongoing and consistent sense of renewal in my motherhood journey. As I perceive this new season in my life, I am beginning to reflect back on my birth experiences, especially since I am beginning to see a new wave of friends who are soon-to-be new moms! I thought about sharing my detailed birth stories on my blog and decided not to post them publicly since they contain some pretty explicit details that are very personal to me and my incredible experience. If you are interested in the ‘R rated’ version, send me an email and I’ll consider sharing. But for now, I’d like to take some time (for the first time in written form) to reminisce on how I prepared for these defining experiences and what they meant to me on a non-physiological level.

I remember John, my husband, and I watching a video of a natural childbirth a few years back and being overcome with both fear and awe. I seriously questioned anyone’s ability to do that. Especially mine, since I have never tolerated pain well. I was so relieved to come to my senses and realize that childbirth was not an impending reality for me in that moment.

Fast forward about 6 months and… I’m 4 months pregnant. WOAH! Talk about irony. My previous determinations about childbirth were uncomfortably all too relevant at this point. Turns out when you know you are going to have a baby, whether 9 months away or 1 month away, this climactic life event weighs heavily on your heart and mind. Some weeks after realizing my first pregnancy, in our little newlywed apartment, I watched “The Business of Being Born” on Netflix. I was astounded. By the way, if you’re pregnant, do yourself a favor and watch it, too! After watching it, for the first time in all my life, I wondered “Could I really do it?” Could I actually birth a baby without pain medicine or unnecessary medical interventions that are presently considered protocol?

From that documentary on, I began a quest. A quest to research the possibility of a natural birth in our extremely medicalized society. That documentary pulls a lot for home births, which I decided early on that I wouldn’t pursue just yet. However, it revealed a lot of information to me about what is considered acceptable in a labor and delivery room. This was the start of my becoming informed and prepared to naturally birth a baby in an obstetrician led Labor & Delivery wing of my local hospital. The follow up books I read and recommend for additional research on the natural birth process include Supernatural Childbirth by Jackie Mize, The Birth Book by Dr. Sears, Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin, and The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth by Henci Goer.

If you are interested in a natural birth, please take note of my reading materials! Why? Because, these were a big part of the reason I was able to maintain the mental fortitude to bear through a 17.5 hour long labor and a year later, a 6 hour long labor, with no pain dulling meds- because understanding childbirth to a maximum degree and knowing that it is a perfectly designed for success is what really helped make it happen for me. The more I read and the more I reflected on my will to birth naturally no matter the “pain,” the more prepared I felt. When I would share my plans to do this with friends and family, I fully trusted the statement that I will have my baby naturally. Yes, without an epidural or other pain medications that are so frequently used. As soon as I decided that a med-free birth was for me, I committed to it, 100%. I never thought “we’ll see, I might change my mind in the moment if it hurts too bad.” It was all or nothing in my mind.

An intense moment during a contraction, sitting on a birthing ball.

An intense moment during a contraction, sitting on a birthing ball.

The reason I’ve taken the time to mention the mental preparation for my childbirth experiences is because I feel that this is what really made a difference for me. One thing that stood out to me in my self-education process is that pain is essentially a derivative of fear. And with childbirth (and many other things in life), fear comes from a lack of true understanding. In this case, understanding the process, understanding the capability of a woman’s (my) body, and fully understanding the risks of intervening with nature’s perfect way, was truly what carried me through to that moment that my daughters were placed on my chest and I could see their sweet shining faces for the first time.

For my older daughter…

I began laboring with consistent, hard contractions at 11:45pm on a beautiful Sunday evening and I labored for 17.5 hours. The last 3 hours of which, I was not progressing past 9.5 cm of dilation and was given a 20 minute “ultimatum” to either progress or get an emergency cesarean section. I did not take contractions as easily as I had hoped. In fact, I had struggled so hard breathing during contractions that for two days after the birth, my lungs/neck/chest were extremely sore. During the pushing phase, it was all forced, loud, and overwhelming (the exact opposite of what I specified in my birth plan) and I ended up with some serious afflictions that most women do not usually experience. I later realized that this was more than likely due to what is known as ‘purple pushing’, that is, when it’s completely forced and timed (as opposed to mother-led pushing where you follow the cadence of pushing with contractions). But given my time constraints that I mentioned before, sheer exhaustion from being up all night, and desperation to finally see the little creation that all my suffering was for, I was determined to finally be through with my labor!

After some extremely intense pushing, it was over. Like that, it became a memory. I had done it! I had no intravenous fluids, no medicines, no epidural. And you know what? When it was all over, it WAS over! It was so incredible to go from being at the most intense, primal, struggling, raw moments of my life to… sheer bliss (what is most often otherwise known as relief), calmness, and happiness. Within 2 hours of my beautiful, furry headed, snow white, mini-me, newborn baby Eva’s birth, I took a shower and felt new again.

Shortly after Eva was born!

Shortly after Eva’s birth!

For my younger daughter only 11 months later

For several days leading up to true labor, I remember feeling some stop-you-in-your-tracks braxton hicks contractions (painless, but intense). I welcomed these, knowing that any pain free dilation would mean getting off the hook during that hard labor! I was awakened from my slumber around 5am after a solid two days of my body’s natural warming up process… to contractions that beckoned deep moaning. Though I wanted to labor at home as long as possible, we ended up making our way to the hospital after just a couple of hours of these (didn’t want to make a car ride too dilated). I was disappointed to find that I wasn’t as far along as I had hoped upon our arrival. Despite this fact, my labor progressed pretty quickly once we were there. Both times I labored, I agree for my obstetrician to break my water. Though I was very hesitant both times, it turned out to be an excellent catalyst for moving the labor process right along. Once that took place, it was show time within a few short hours.

I labored less than half the time as my first daughter’s birth, and I got my perfect ending that I didn’t get with my first birthing experience! From the time of my first “hard” contractions early that am, my labor lasted a little over 6 hours. During the weeks and months leading up to this birth, I think I was more nervous than the first time around. However, it turned out to be a bit more manageable than my first. Same hospital, same obstetrician, and my nurse was the best friend of the nurse who helped deliver Eva! She was so supportive of my birth plan and encouraged in those final moments when I felt extremely vulnerable that my body would “know what to do.” This is what I had told myself all along! I trusted, gave in to my instincts, and Lena June arrived before my obstetrician did! No lie!

And 11 months later... Lena June!

And 11 months later…
Lena June!

I highly recommend committing to an un-medicated birth if you and your baby’s health allow! I think that if you take the time to read or watch some of the aforementioned movies and books, you’ll find (as I did) that the case for it is strong in both statistics and intuition. I count it a true blessing (x2) that I was able to experience back to back all nat-ur-al births that ended with two beautiful and healthy daughters. I couldn’t have done it without the unconditional support of my husband and mother who were there in the delivery room with me both times.

Being able to tell everyone “I DID IT” (unmediated, as planned) was beyond gratifying. I am somewhat of a humble person, however I had zero qualms about sharing my accomplishments (and still do) with anyone who will listen. I would say that naturally birthing my two babies has empowered me on a very deep level to be the mother I was meant to be. Surely all other moms feel a great sense of accomplishment no matter the type of labor and delivery experience, but I have a sense of primal womanly pride that I was able to actively get through the roller coaster of labor and delivery that my body was perfectly able to accomplish. Most women are capable, but I would say that our minds are the key to whether or not we can tap into these capabilities. Truly, I am most complete knowing that I did it the hard way- natures way.

I sincerely hope that every woman can experience her baby’s birth in the way that is best for the two of them- no matter the level of medical intervention. I support life, in all situations where it can be assisted by the hands of a medical team. And secondly, I support a labor and birth allowed to manifest in its purest and most untapped version, wherever the health of mama and baby is not compromised.

I hope you enjoyed reading my reflections on my birth preparation process, abridged stories, and post delivery reflections. If you have any interest in natural birthing, I hope I have encouraged you to continue on your quest. Best wishes!

CarasFinalSigCaraJean

Green Living: An Introduction

When I became pregnant with my oldest daughter, my life changed in many ways. I learned that everything that I ate, breathed, and put on my skin would be passed along to my precious unborn baby. And I realized that for years I had unknowingly been using products that contain known harmful ingredients. Boy did this open a whole can of worms. Enter: completely new lifestyle and lifelong quest to choose the most natural and healthy options over synthetic chemicals and toxins. Along with pregnancy, birth, and mothering young children, “green living” has been a huge interest of mine since late 2010.

Living green actually means a lot, to a lot of different people. I think the most general definition, for those that are not as familiar with the topic, would be: a conscious effort to minimize exposure of environmental toxins, seek holistic treatments, minimize direct impact on the environment, and an all around attempt to live a more self-sustainable life style with simple/nature based options. Its now been about 3 years since I have taken on this consciousness and I have found my endeavor to become “green/earth conscious” has been very rewarding. Knowing that I am not slowly poisoning myself or my family and the environment and not wasting money on toxic products has been an obvious benefit. But honestly, understanding that I am a being of nature that can greatly benefit from healing (or otherwise useful) things that come directly from nature has truly enlightened me as a human being. I feel more connected to the planet we live on, knowing that its more pure substances provide the highest amount of benefits for my body or even my environment. A big example of this is essential oils (which I will, no doubt, be expanding on in future blog posts). I know that by the merit of my own deeds, though seemingly insignificant, I am taking a small amount of action against a way of life that is damaging to humans and environment. I guess you could say that this is a way for my to fight the status quo in my own way, to hopefully help affect the change that we so desperately need as a civilization.

So how do I apply this to real-life? For me, this means many different things. To name a few: cloth diapering, having the hobby of reading the ingredients on just about everything, avoiding certain harmful ingredients, buying and eating organic wherever possible and feasible, doing as many do-it-yourself projects from home as possible, reusing anything and everything, choosing natural fibers in products over plastics and/or synthetics, pursuing a diet that is simple and plant based as much as possible, avoiding petroleum, avoiding the word “fragrance” on ANYthing, minimizing my general consumption of any given product, avoiding pharmaceuticals as much as possible, utilizing the therapeutic benefits of essential oils, and choosing nature and simplicity over what is usually accepted as the norm in today’s society.

As I continue to add to my site here, I will take specific aspects of my own personal “green living” approach and expand on them. I hope you will find that such a lifestyle is not as extreme as one might believe. It’s actually a very freeing thing to live more simply and naturally! My interest in this topic and gradual attempt to shift to a more earth conscious way of life has spilled over into other areas of my life as well. For example, I am beginning to evaluate the amount of waste my family produces makes me question what it is that I am consuming… and, do I really need it? Naturally I have become more minimalist in my approach in food consumption, pharmaceutical consumption, pest repellent, beauty regimens, and overall consumerism. And after all that, I just know I’m leaving some things out. What I ultimately mean to say is that the green living approach really begins to overflow into other areas of life and can become an actual mindset that is applicable to other things.

What’s fun about it is that it’s not just all or nothing! You can really pick and choose what is most feasible and makes most sense to you and utilize it the way you see fit. I am definitely not a perfect example of what it is to “be green” and I have a long way to go to be where I’d like to be with it (for example: I would like to make my own laundry detergent, quit buying and using plastic bags altogether, grow my own food, etc) I do, however, think that I can be a little bit helpful to those that are interested in it and maybe just don’t know where to begin, or to those who are in the game with me and just want to learn some new ways to reconnect with and respect this earth a little more. I am always down to learn some new things, so if you take the time to share your tips and secrets, I would love hear them!

I can’t wait to share my various approaches with you. What I’d like to do is title any post where I specifically expand on this aspect of my life is title it “Green Living: _______” to distinguish it from my other posts. You will definitely find me mention some of these things amongst my other reflections though! Hope you enjoy what I have to offer. Until next time…

CarasFinalSigCaraJean