Monday, May 9, 2016

What am I doing?

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We moved recently.  And it's actually been 6 months, but a bit less since we've been in the house we purchased.  But I definitely still feel like it's a new thing.  There have been a lot of things to which I have had to adjust, more than usual.  I've never moved as a mother before, or owned a house.

But the dust began to settle in the last few weeks and I now feel all of the little items left over from moving have been checked off the list and the house, while missing some key pieces of furniture, is more or less in order.  My son has been spending some time playing independently and I'm optimistic this might increase as time marches on (I know it will--it's just so hard to picture).  It's left me thinking about what it is that I will do with my time going forward.

I have been staying home with our son full-time (I worked part-time previously) mainly because of the move.  If we had stayed where we were I didn't have any intention of leaving my job.  So by default, I became a "SAHM".  But with only one babe who does actually sleep now (I have an evening again!), I have to consider what's next.

I have been thinking a lot over the past few months about going back to work.  Should I or should I not?

If I don't, what else should I be doing with my time?  I have held off starting up with new Creighton clients in our new town because I wasn't sure about work.  If I go back to work, I cannot be handling new clients.  I can maintain my current clients, but growing the ministry is not feasible.  I have considered other home business-type endeavors as practically all of the "SAHMs" I know have some kind of "on the side" income-producing activity.  But all require an investment of money or time in education and that seems silly as a person with a very viable career option and expensive training as a Creighton practitioner.  I should stick with these things for which I am already prepared and in which I have already invested my time and finances.

But the other day I thought, what about the things that went by the wayside when I was just surviving?  (Survival mode lasted much longer here than I feel like it was supposed to--but this kid didn't sleep through the night until he was a year old!)  So the two things that came to mind were baking all of our bread and blogging.  OK, I says to meself, start with those two things and see what happens.  See where those things take your time and your mind and then come back to the question.

So I decided to start blogging again.  I took a look at my draft posts to figure out where I should start.  There were unfinished posts about family trips and the ordinary day to day.  And then there were posts about having a new baby.  And posts about faith.  I had to ask, Why am I blogging?  What's the point?  Is this for my mother-in-law to know what we're doing?  Is it purely for my own record-keeping?  A diary of sorts?  Is it to be informative or helpful to others?  My blogging has always been all over the map because I want to chronicle our life, but I also have other things to say.

But in asking this question about my blogging, I realized that this needs to be the question I am asking about what the next step is for me.  Basically, what is the Main Thing?  I remember hearing the phrase "Keep the Main Thing the main thing" when I was growing up in church events, retreats and the like.  Am I keeping the Main Thing the main thing?  What is the main thing? 

The main thing is living for the next life, not this one.  The most important thing about living this life is to prepare myself and others for the next.  It all boils down to that.  I knew this, but I had kind of forgotten.  Similar to when I realized the primary purpose of my marriage to my husband was the work of being his personal evangelist, I had an epiphany that I had not been letting this purpose, the Main Thing, inform my musings about what's next.

So now I am asking, Is what I am doing (or considering doing) serving the ultimate purpose of evangelizing the people I love and with whom I come in contact?  What is the most important thing I can do for my son?  Bringing him up in the faith.  Is my choice supporting that?

Even though I'm still just as unsure as before about the right answer, I feel so much more at peace about not knowing by simply remembering what the most important thing is and reminding myself that it is the question to ask myself when I am uncertain.  It won't necessarily mean that the answer comes to me right away because I asked it, but it ensures I am headed in the right direction.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Quick Takes-vol. 31

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--- 1 ---
First off--Wow!  What is even happening here???  It has been since before my son was born that I participated in 7 Quick Takes.  Two days before, actually.  I was actually having contractions while I wrote it and didn't realize it.  Want to read more about that before I start down the tangent of the entire story?  I'm gonna stop.  You're welcome :-)  Basically I wrote that post, announced I'd had a baby, shared his birth story, and then dropped off the face of the blogging world.  Then I showed up to tell everyone why (it's a good reason and a post worth reading if you want to really get to know us).  I did a guest post about why working part-time worked well for our family before disappearing again.  Then I decided I was going to blog during Lent and wrote one super long post about cloth diapering!!  And then that was it.  I have once again decided to take this up again, at least briefly, to share some things I'd like to share and to see if writing again will be good for me (it always is).
--- 2 ---
I have never even linked up with our new host, Kelly.  And here we are with the same name.  I see her at the meetings, but I've avoided her because I never attend her Friday party.  I wasn't even sure if we were still doing the ol' template (We're not!) so I had to check and save this new little header.  Good for me, I'm up to speed!
--- 3 ---
I'm not going to bother with a lengthy update about things since I've been gone because I imagine any readers I have left at this point know me well enough that they have been following me either on social media or IRL and know what's going on so I will keep things relatively brief.  We live in Maryland now, my husband has a new job, our son is extremely busy with everything that needs to be done around his house (rearranging throw rugs, pretending to vacuum, using keys, walking the dog inside, etc, etc, etc) and I am staying home with him full time.  For how long?  Not sure.  More on that in my next post.  We own a house now and we live in a very different area and manner from how we previously we're living.  It's very different and I'm still not completely used to it, 6 months later.  We miss our friends and our church and I miss my old job very much.  I say this all to be honest, but it doesn't mean we aren't enjoying life here.  It's just been a very different move for us from all past moves because of the circumstances (buying and owning a house, having a child, me not having a job, leaving the place we had lived the longest and the place we had made a home).
--- 4 ---
Now that you're up to speed (the 3 people reading this who are not my mother or my husband's mother), we'll move on to current events, as I think Quick Takes should be about current things of the past week.  However, quick question: Do you use the names of our kids and spouse on your blog?  I used to use my husband's name until he wanted to try to be a little more anonymous online so now he's just "my husband".  It's not like we think he can't be found (it's pretty easy to do a little searching and figure it out and his name still appears in older posts), but it helps.  I have not used my son's name actually on my blog and I think maybe not even on Instagram or Twitter.  I use it on my personal Facebook though.  I just haven't decided.  Seems like what does it matter if it's easy enough for someone to figure out?  Pros and cons?
--- 5 ---
Speaking of your kids' privacy...anyone follow the Instagram account @assholeparents?  I've seen photos with this tag before and couple months ago decided to follow because some had been funny.  I had previously seen the same idea of photos taken of a child who is upset and labeled "reasons my child is crying".  Somehow that title seemed better to me than saying "I'm an asshole parent because I won't let her eat raw chicken."  What are your thoughts on this idea?  I have been saying to my husband that while it does sometimes seem funny and maybe it helps to vent frustration of these silly tantrums all of our kids have, I'm not sure about the forum aspect.  I have occasionally sent a photo of my son in meltdown mode to his grandmother, but I don't share it publicly.  Why?  Because I don't share photos of myself in meltdown mode.  And that's my choice.  There's a lot of articles out there about how we all only share the good on our social media accounts and we shouldn't be plagued with jealousy of each other's "picture perfect" lives because there are plenty of not good things we aren't posting.  No one posts a status update about a fight with her husband.  She posts "So happy to be married to a man who puts my needs above his own!!! :-) :-)"  (By the way, tell him that, not me--I don't really get why people do this?)  But anyway, back to the point--if we, as autonomous adults make the choice to only show the good (which is perfectly normal and fine--it's called privacy!), maybe we should consider respecting the privacy of our children in this respect.  My son doesn't have the ability to say, "Hey, ma, I'm kinda embarrassed about losing my cool over you taking that pellet of dog food out of my mouth this morning.  Please don't post a video of my meltdown on Instagram."  But he's just as much of a person as I am.  All of us parents with the ability to share these photos with literally millions of people also had these types of meltdowns and difficult moments, but ours were allowed to happen without permanent documentation or having it shared with everyone.  We constantly warn our kids about the permanency of internet postings, worrying they will harm their reputations or future job prospects.  What about what we are putting out there?  What are your thoughts, blogging world?  I'm genuinely asking, I'm curious if I'm off-base here.  (Sorry, this definitely should have been its own post.)
--- 6 ---
Speaking of behavior, after what was a really bad week last week for my son, he's had a really good week this week.  We've had some really great times together that have made me so happy he's my little guy and so glad we get to spend so much time together.  I hope he feels and begins to understand how much I enjoy his company.
--- 7 ---
Anyone have any fun plans for Mothers' Day?  I'm still a rookie at being honored on this day, but I'm looking forward to it!
Last year--I love how he looks so excited that I'm his mama!

For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain't The Lyceum

Friday, March 4, 2016

How we cloth diaper

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We do cloth diapering at our house.  Well, I do cloth diapering at our house.  My husband doesn't really participate (even though he asked me for months after our son was born when we would start--I think when finally faced with a poopy cloth diaper he just couldn't do it).  I do at least 90% of the diaper changing though anyway.

"Does this diaper make my butt look big?"
We did not start cloth diapering until our son was probably 5 months or so.  Knowing that he would be born just before the start of a NJ winter and that our only access to our washer required going outside and sometimes digging the door of the basement out of the snow, we thought it best to wait until spring to start with cloth.  I think even still I would have done disposable for around the first 1-2 months because of that crazy-frequent amount of diaper changes you do with a newborn.

When I did start with cloth it was still only part-time because I was working part-time.  I tried to do cloth as much as possible when I was home with him.  This didn't turn out to be as much as I would have liked because I was not stocked properly or because my husband did a change and used a disposable.

In November we moved to a new state.  I left my job and was now with our son all day every day.  However, we lived in a hotel for about 6 or 7 weeks so it was full-time disposables.

Starting in January in the new house with my indoor laundry facilities and new supplies, I started back to cloth.  It's going great and I have definitely learned what works best for us and what I prefer.  I think fully understanding your cloth diapering wants and needs is almost impossible before actually doing it, the same way fully understanding anything about having a baby is difficult before actually having your baby.  I feel pretty good with how I do things now so I thought I'd share now.

We have used a Pampers Baby Dry disposable at night since he was probably 4ish months because he's just way too heavy of a wetter.  It's the only thing that works after many attempts so we won't be touching that, even though I'm not crazy about Pampers.  (More on that below.)
Common side effects of cloth-diapering include: increased butt-size, increased cuteness, and paper cravings.

What we use
  • 10 Oso cozy prefolds: I like how thick these are and they remind me of the Econobum prefolds.  They are finally starting to shrink up so I hope to be able to just tri-fold and lay them in the covers, but as they started they were very long and required an additional fold.  Because they are so thick, I made both a front and back fold.  If you have questions about exactly what I mean with these, I can elaborate in a separate post with pictures.
  • 3 Econobum prefolds: These were the first cloth diapers I used and they baffled me to start.  (I'll explain further below.)  I now really like the whole Econobum system because the prefolds fit my baby well and the cover is also easy to use.
  • 4 Prefold covers (1 Flip, 1 Thirsties, 1 Econobum, 1 Diaper Safari): My favorite cover is by far the Flip.  I wanted to love the Thirsties because shouldn't you love double leg gussets?  But it just doesn't fit my baby well.  I have actually never used the Econobum covers with anything but the Econobum prefolds but I really like the covers and looked into getting just the covers separately (they only come with the prefolds).  It's not surprising though because they are a lot like the Flip and made by the same makers (I guess all a sub-brand of Bumgenius?).  The Diaper Safari was a quick, cheap buy on Zulily to fill that frequent need of just 1 more cover.  I've only used it a few times but it's a disappointment.  It's obviously an error diaper as it contains this random superfluous snap on the one side, but I think it's mostly a fit issue.  It does its job though.
  • 5 Pocket diapers (1 Silver Cloud, 2 Bum Genius, 2 Bumkins stuff-it): The Silver Cloud pocket was initially an error.  I thought I was ordering a cover.  It didn't come with an insert so then I had to go and buy a set of 2 inserts.  It has turned out to be great.  I got a 2 pack of some kind of Bumkins super-soaker inserts and it was great for taking him to the doctor or for times I was maybe a little more concerned about a cloth diaper holding out.  I picked up the Bum Genius 2 pack while we were in the hotel and have been really happy with those too.  The Bumkins were a recent Zulily buy as well to round out the collection and they have been a HUGE disappointment.  I don't know if they haven't been washed enough to reach maximum absorbency, but each time he's worn one I have had to change his onesie because he's soaked through.  I have both included inserts in the shell and still this is the result.  Granted, he's in it for awhile, but the Bumgenius and Silver cloud have both handled the same amount of time without any trouble.
  • Toilet diaper sprayer: I actually have not used this a ton because once I was using cloth a lot the poops were more solid and this wasn't as necessary OR I was lucky enough that he just went when he was in a disposable.
  • Bumkins disposable diaper liners: Getting much better about remembering to put one of these in the diaper.  It's basically an insurance policy that they baby will not poop in the diaper.  Oh, wait--it's not?  Supposedly it's to allow you to lift the solids out of the diaper and throw right into the toilet to save on cleaning poop out of the cloth, but it seems to be the other thing for me.  On the rare occasion he does poop when he's in the cloth and has the liner he never seems to be totally on the liner and there's always at least some clean-up, but it helps. 
  • Planet Wise diaper pail liner: This goes into just a tall kitchen trashcan with a push-button flip top lid.  It goes into the wash with diapers.
Remember to size-up those clothes :-)
How we use it
1. When I get the baby up in the morning he is in his overnight disposable.  This is where he usually has his big poop to clean up and luckily it's in the disposable.  Then I change him into a prefold and cover.
2. After breakfast and some playing, we get ready to go to the library.  This is around an hour and a half after he had the prefold put on.  I put him in a pocket diaper and get him dressed.  The pockets are good for outings because of the lasting power and his clothes fit a little more smoothly for being in public.
3. When we get home from the library and/or errands, he's usually been in the pocket diaper for 2-3 hours.  Depending on how long it's been, we usually play or eat lunch and then I change him into a disposable.  He can go almost 4 hours in a pocket diaper if needed.  The disposable is good at this time because then he's set for his nap and unlikely to wake because of being wet.  He also tends to have an afternoon poop while he's in it and that saves some clean-up!
4. He changes into 1 last prefold for the rest of the day until it's bedtime.

Diapers get washed on Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday nights.  I don't usually do the pre-rinse that I often see recommended and it hasn't been a problem so far.  Sometimes I will pre-soak.  I wash in hot water with Tide Original Powder detergent and do a second rinse.  Everything goes into the dryer, but sometimes I hang up the covers to try to prolong their lives.

The naptime/afternoon disposable kind of happened by accident but turned out to seem like a good idea.  Before I rounded out my stash it seemed I was often short and needed a disposable.  I got lucky with the timing and realized it could be a good routine until we got our new diaper sprayer hooked up (a part got lost in the move so I haven't had it to spray the poopy diapers).  We have the new sprayer now this week and the new diapers arrived, but the disappointment in the lasting power of the Bumkins is halting the cessation of the disposable.  Hopefully the absorbency improves with washes though.

Why we use it
I would say the biggest reason I was led to cloth diaper is for environmental reasons.  I am certainly not perfect, but I try to keep the environment and sustainability in mind with the choices I make.  The tying second reasons are probably cost and reducing exposure to whatever is in disposables.  It's crazy how fast you're literally throwing your money away with a kid in disposables, never mind 2 or 3 at once!  All in all, it just feels right to me and a completely natural (as in not forced or coerced) decision.  I can't even think how long it has been that I just assumed I would cloth diaper.  Definitely years before I was even married.

A few other notes...
A Snappi'd Econobum prefold
I mentioned before my confusion with the Econobum prefolds.  That's because before I started cloth diapering I thought that prefolds always needed to be folded around your baby and fastened with a Snappi (or old-fashioned pin).  Fold was in the name!  I could not figure out how these prefolds that just barely folded and Snappi-d around my 5 month-old would ever fit him more than a week.  Well apparently Econobum only meant them to be tri-folded and laid in the cover.  It worked great for him from about 8 months until recently.  Prior to that it just seemed like they were way too wide for the space he had between his little legs.  I felt like it was putting his hips into a developmentally-wrong wide spread.  It was probably fine, but it looked uncomfortable to me.  Now the issue is that the rise doesn't always seem high enough, but so far it's still ok.  So to anyone else baffled by prefolds, they don't have to be folded and fastened!

We are currently using 7th Generation disposables because that's what I can get in regular stores like Target.  I thought these were good for non-toxicity and the like before having my baby but that was before I knew there were other brands not available in regular stores that were much better and that 7th Generation diapers are not really all that great (but they are chlorine-free and many of their other products do hold-up, but not all).  My favorite brand would be Bambo, then Earth's Best, then Honest, then 7th Generation.  (See resources below for why I made these choices.)

Additionally, we do have cloth wipes but they don't get used much.  I assume it's different with a boy versus a girl, but most of the time I don't need to do wiping with just wet diapers.  Poops come 1-2 times per day and the ease of just using the disposable wipes has won for now.  However, I am looking into a good recipe for a solution to keep in a spray bottle to start using the cloth wipes.  They DO get used to wipe little guy's nose when he is sick though because they are so soft and and are much easier on his tender skin with so many wipes throughout the day.  (I have even been known to use them instead of tissues!)

So there you have it--that's what cloth diapering looks like for us/me :-)  Obviously, I'm no expert, but maybe this will be helpful to someone.  Links to resources below:

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Guest post at Bluebird Songs

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I am super excited to share that Stephanie of Bluebird Songs invited me to guest post for her while she is nesting and settling in with her new little man :-)  I decided to share a bit about why I've been happy with my decision to be a (part-time) work-outside-the-home mama.

Hi, everyone!  I'm so excited to be invited to share with you today, especially since I have been blogging too little in the last year to even consider myself a "blogger"!

Just over 8 months ago, I gave birth to my son.  I think for the most part when I was younger I had envisioned being home with him full-time.  But we all know how those visions can change once you are an adult and can see what real life actually calls for.  I think when I was first pregnant I initially insisted I was going back to work just to prove a point to myself, others, and at work (I was afraid my hours were decreasing because of my pregnancy.)  However, I've found that it was a really good decision for us.

1. I needed an outside influence.
At first I wasn't sure when I would go back to work...continue at Bluebird Songs

Friday, June 19, 2015

Where have I been?

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I know, I'll give you a minute to pick yourself up off the floor.

My blogging seriously dropped off there.  It initially started because of the loss of our first pregnancy which rolled into just a huge increase in other activities and being busy being pregnant and teaching Creighton, and working, etc etc etc....

Then having our baby, a "high needs" nurse-every-hour-and-scream-incessantly-from-gas-or-not-being-held who still sleeps only 3-4 hours at a time at almost 8 months.

But if I'm honest, I know what's kept me away.  It was my own decision.

I wanted to be present.  Present in the life we were building here in our little town.  I wanted to build our friendships and community here, not in the online world.

Don't get me wrong--I've loved being a part of the online community and I've been so thankful for its presence in my life.  You see, the first 4 years we were married we didn't have much in the way of friends.  After 2 years in Atlanta we still only had the mildest of relationships, even in my Bible study.  Then we started moving, fast and furious.  While we did make some lifelong friendships in the other places, our time was too short to truly have our lives there.

Without you, my dear blogging friends, I would have been without community and friends for far too long.  I was in far-flung places, even overseas, and the constancy of your friendship and involvement in our lives felt like I had my community no matter where I went.

But we have been here in NJ for 2 years now.  And we were meant to be here and meant to connect and build and be a part of a family.  We found answered prayers for good friends, for both of us and as a couple.  We found good Catholics and role models for our son.  We have a son now.  We have a dog.  We came here as 2 and while there are (just!) 4 of us now here in the house, there are so many in our family.

When Brice found this home for us (not just the house, but the town and the church as well), I hadn't seen it physically.  But I had visions of what I wanted this home to be.  I wanted it to be a place of hospitality.  I wanted there to be people and laughter, good food and music.  I wanted there to be comfort and love.  I wanted there to be a baby.  And a dog.

From the photos sent to me while the house was being chosen.  This porch is now the site of many gatherings.
This kitchen is sometimes packed with people...
This room is now home to a baby :-)  
We have our sons, one here on earth with us.  We have Lilly dog.  We have found a dozen "godparents" for our son and a family with which to celebrate and share.  They are our answered prayers incarnate.  The people, the laughter, the food (oh, so much food!  And drink!), and music--they all happened.

Being fully present in this amazing life was more important.  I'm hoping to eventually come back to share a bit more often than I have in the last year.  But if I don't, you'll know why.  I'm still here, I still follow all of you, even if my participation is not what it once was.  My journey to today was very much fueled by my relationships with all of you and I know every one of you understands this season and my choice.  Thanks for being here :-)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The birth story

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I know I promised to have the birth story up within a few days, but getting it all written out in a nice way just had to wait.  I jotted down a short version so I could go back and improve it though.  If you aren't interested in birth stories, feel free to skip right over this post.  I don't really feel like this is a particularly difficult birth story to read, but it's up to you :-)

I'll start by saying a few things about birth and my feelings about labor in general.  First, I would highly recommend that anyone having a baby, especially for the first time, should take some kind of birth class.  This is even more important if you are hoping to do a natural or unmedicated birth.  But even if you're not, I think your odds of having a less stressful and/or less scary birth experience are much better if you have an idea of what to expect.  I was lucky enough to have witnessed births and have a lot of knowledge about the birth process, but even with that I think it was still best to take a class, especially for the benefit of my husband.

Second, I did have a birth plan, but I made a point of telling everyone that it wasn't all that specific and I promised not to get hung up on things since being a nurse I know enough to know that trying to plan your birth with a typed sheet of paper can be silly.  (Anyone seen What to Expect When You're Expecting and love the part where Elizabeth Banks freaks out about how this isn't in her birth plan?)  As it turned out, most things if my birth plan went the opposite, but it's not like I ended up with an overall feeling that everything went wrong.  On the contrary, I thought my birth was a good experience and I'm more than ready to try it again.

I didn't know it at the time, but apparently I began having some contractions Thursday night.  I pointed out to Brice that my belly was very square-looking, but I assumed it was just the position the baby was in.

The next day I had a midwife appointment at 2pm.  She asked if I had been having any contractions, to which I said "no".  She didn't really believe that could be true, so she kept watching my belly during the appointment.  When she went to use the doppler my belly got square again and she said "These are contractions".  Oh, how about that!

I had taken my car to have two recalls repaired in the morning so when I got home I went to pick up the car, still having some contractions.  Apparently telling men at a car dealership that you are currently having contractions is a way to get your car brought to you really fast!  When I got home I still had a follow-up with a client.  I was still having the contractions and I told the client and just kind of tried to pay a little bit of attention to when they were coming.  It varied a lot, but it was probably 10-12 minutes apart most of the time.  After I got home from meeting with her the doula we hired wanted to know if the contractions were timeable and what they were.  (She was in Vermont for the weekend and wanted to figure out if she needed to come back.)  So a little after 6 I went up to my bed to try to time the contractions and see if they might be slowing down and going away or if this might be it.  They were still irregular, but not stopping.  Our friends were going out to celebrate someone's last day of work before starting a new job, but I just didn't think we should go sice activity was not going to help the contractions slow down and I still thought it might be just a false alarm.  So we decided to order Chinese food.  When we were eating, I had a feeling that this might be my last meal.  After we ate we decided to watch the episodes of the Office where Pam was in labor and wouldn't go to the hospital :-)

It got worse while watching the Office, around 9 or 10.  I even began to throw up a couple of times--very familiar to my past experiences with my monthly visitor.  Brice sat with me through them, but he went to bed at midnight, with my encouragement.  He wanted me to come up, but I knew I wouldn't be able to sit still in the bed and would keep him up.  (I still wasn't really sure if this was it).  I stayed on the couch, but I definitely couldn't sleep and just kept using the timer on my iPod to keep track of contractions and texting the doula.  I continued to feel sick to my stomach and throw up.  I think it was around 5am when she asked me to check in and I said they were less than 10 minutes apart so she got ready to drive back.  I ended up waking Brice up at 6am.  I told him that if I had any idea how helpful he was going to be during contractions I never would have let him go to bed!  I laid down on the bed and we did contractions there for a long time with music and counter-pressure on my back from Brice.  Brice was in touch with the midwife and the doula.  She suggested getting in the shower so I tried that and it turned out to be really wonderfully helpful.  I kept telling Brice that labor actually felt very familiar to me from my past experience with my monthly troubles.  The doula arrived at our house around 10 with electrolyte replacement drinks.  This was a bit of a concern for everyone since I was headed into hard labor dehydrated.  We all decided to go to the hospital at 11 when my contractions were less than 2 minutes apart.  I made sure Brice took one last bump photo:
Isn't this like the best face ever??
It really was a beautiful day as we left for our super-quick drive to the hospital (3 minutes if we hit green lights).

Brice was able to leave the car at the door and come in with me in the wheelchair while the doula was parking.  He did exactly what he was told to do in our class when I had a contraction--he told the guy that was helping us that he needed to stop and be there with me when I was having a contraction.  It was really cool to see him doing so well.  I got my bracelet and was registered and then the doula came in to stay with me while Brice got the car parked.  My nurse came and got me and the doula and got me settled in the room (it turned out to be the same room the where the doula had her third baby).

I was 6cm when the midwife first checked me.  I was so glad she was the midwife on call--she was who I was hoping to get and she was totally awesome the whole time.  I had hoped to have a water birth so I tried the tub.  Unfortunately, the baby was still turned the opposite way of how he needed to be (the back of his head was at my back) so I was unable to be in a comfortable position that would also help the baby turn while I was in the tub.  (This position for him also led to lots of back labor.)  I ended up getting out of the tub and into the shower instead.  I spent a long time in the shower again, and then back to contractions on the bed.  I also ended up getting a bag of fluids (I didn't want an IV) because of my dehydration.  I tried putting a foot up on a stool and rocking to see if that would help him turn.  When the midwife checked me again I was still at 6cm.  I was having a lot of pressure so I thought it would be better than that.  The midwife decided she should break my water, thinking there might be less pressure for me and that it might help me dilate more.  I continued to go back and forth between the bed and shower, standing bent over the bed with my foot up on the stool, swaying, trying to get him to turn still.  When the midwife checked me again I was still only 7cm at around 9something that night.  Since I still hadn't made much progress the midwife recommended pitocin, but also epidural for rest since I'd had no sleep.  She was really awesome and gentle about what she recommended and didn't push me, but I could tell it was what she thought was best.  Brice and I talked a bit and the doula as well.  I didn't want the epidural, or the pitocin (it was all the opposite of my birth plan), but I remembered our childbirth instructor in the back of my head warning that it was most important to get my vaginal birth.  Knowing what I knew about chances of a c-section if I continued to not progress, it seemed like the best plan to go ahead with the pitocin.  If I had gotten any sleep (at this point I had been awake since 7:45 on Friday morning), I would have considered trying the pitocin without the epidural.  But I definitely didn't want to get stuck and exhausted while trying to push.  I wanted to do everything to avoid a c-section and this seemed best and everyone agreed and supported it.  I was really, really scared of the epidural though.  (I was quite scared of not being able to move during contractions since I was contracting hard and fast at that point.)  I didn't have to wait for the epidural (which was good since I was so nervous about it).  The guy came in around 10something.  This was definitely where I lost my cool and got very upset and started crying.  I started saying the Hail Mary to try to be calm and Brice was awesome and was saying it with me.  (The doula later said she was so impressed with how we handled that together.)  Of course now that I had the epidural, I had to have fluids constantly and have the fetal monitor on constantly.

I calmed down after it was over and then it was very weird to see contractions happening but not feel them.  There was a lot of activity as everyone tried to get settled and I kept thinking I had to go to the bathroom :-)  We eventually got to sleep for maybe an hour and a half.  The nurse came to check on the monitor a few times and the third time or so I told her I felt like I needed to push.  She was excited and had the midwife check me.  I was fully dilated!  I began getting ready to push--I texted the doula to come back in from where she was resting, I donned my "pushing" headband, my necklace with Malachi's name, and my glasses.  I got my Rosary beads (the same ones we used when we prayed for both babies) and I read some prayers from my Mother's Manual that my friend gave to me at the start of this pregnancy, including one for the midwife (she appreciated this!).  I also texted friends and family to let them know I was about to start pushing around 1:20.

First I pushed normally, basically on my back but turned a bit to one side and the other.  Brice was awesome at remembering all of the specific instructions about how to push (something he was good at paying attention to while I was kinda like, yeah, general idea, etc, etc!)  After a few pushes, I finally began making progress.  I felt confident during everything since the midwife had told me the birth would be vaginal, no matter what since he was low enough at this point.  I did have to ask to have the epidural turned down some because I couldn't feel well enough.  They ended up turning it back up later though because they thought I needed it, but I didn't feel like I did.  This led me to believe that things were happening that I wasn't seeing and probably didn't want to see!  I tried pushing with this bar across the top of the bed and a sheet tied to it to hold onto and I liked that a lot.  I had some very good pushes that way, but I couldn't seem to get the baby's head under part of my pelvis.  I wanted to try pushing in some other positions, but he was having some signs of distress (heartrate dropping when I pushed) and I had to stay in a certain position.  At one point they did see some meconium so the midwife told me that we needed to have a pediatrician present at his birth to check him out.  She also told me she needed to call for the back-up physician to come just in case.  To her credit, the midwife was really good about staying calm, but I knew it was a bigger deal than that.  I could see on her face that the doctor was going to be needed.  When she arrived the midwife and the physician watched some pushes and the monitor and then decided vacuum assistance was needed.  And then the doctor said I needed an episiotomy.  Cue second freak out.  This one was much shorter  though as I was assured that this really was a better idea than tearing naturally (the doula was looking and told me later that my swelling was more than she'd seen and she agreed with the episiotomy).  Remembering that I had the epidural to get me through the repair process anyway, we went ahead.  I was told to return to pushing normally and the vacuum was used very briefly to quickly get the head under that part of my pelvis that was causing the problem.  And then I just pushed him the rest of the way out!  They threw him immediately onto my chest and instead of crying like I thought I might, I laughed because I couldn't believe there was a whole baby on my chest!  I had such a disconnect with what I was doing and the result somehow.  It was just too weird to think that this was the little thing moving inside of me.  Brice did cry :-)  He was taken away right after that.  His cord had to be clamped right away due to the meconium.  We listened for him to cry as they were doing all of his checks.  His Apgars were 8 and 9 and he weighed 6lbs 12oz.  They brought him back to me for a few minutes and he did latch and had some colostrum.  The peds NP explained that his breathing was off so they would take him away for assessment.  Brice went with him and they tried to do the EKG he needed because of the possible heart block (the reason I had all those fetal echocardiograms while I was pregnant).  Brice was gone with him for over an hour and then ended up coming back without him since he was frustrated at how the EKG was being handled.  It was good he had somewhere to go though while I was getting stitched up and it gave us all a chance to get a good look at the placenta, something he would not have enjoyed :-)  The doula stayed with me until Brice got back, but it had already been such a looooong labor for her so she left before they brought the baby back.  All of his checks were fine and I didn't get upset about him needing to be gone so long.  It was all fine in the end.

So very little from my birth plan went the way it was supposed to, but I didn't walk away disappointed.  Everything that had to be changed came individually and was addressed one thing at a time and there were good reasons for each change.  I wouldn't change anything unless I had the opportunity to make labor progress faster so that those changes didn't need to happen :-)

As far as the epidural...while some women might be disappointed to have gotten to the 11th hour and then had an epidural, I am glad I went as long as I did.  I know what labor is like and I know I can handle it on my own without drugs.  I had a very long and hard labor and I did it on my own for a long time.  I certainly always wondered what labor really felt like and since most women seem unable to describe what it feels like I would say that I'm happy to describe it to any woman who doesn't know.  I also think that my past experience with very similar pain made it so much easier and not as scary for me and I can definitely see how women without my experience would be much more nervous and doubt their ability to deal with labor.  And this would be compounded if you have an epidural early.  I would certainly doubt my ability to handle labor naturally for a future birth if I had an early epidural with a first birth.  But in the end I would tell women they can definitely do it, but only if you want to and it's important to you.  Knowing that I had the advantage of labor feeling familiar to me I can tell how hard it would have been without it and natural birth is great--if that's what you want.  I hope the next time goes a little more like what I hoped this time would be, but even if it doesn't, that's fine, because it's not a good idea to be rigid about something so out of your control.

I also ended up being absolutely amazed at how well my husband handled everything.  He told me he didn't think natural was what he would have chosen, but he was really supportive of me wanting to do it and he did so, so well.  (Medical things and blood are not his thing at all.  Tip for similar husbands: take off your glasses at the end--very easy way to cope!)  Again, I think the class we took was really beneficial for him.  I was also extremely glad that we had the doula and I would definitely recommend that route as well.  (And I want to point out that I never once yelled at him and told him he did this to me or that it was all his fault!)

So let's see...I did not have a waterbirth like I wanted, I did have an IV, I did have an epidural, I did have pitocin, I did end up on the continuous fetal monitor, I did have an episiotomy, the cord was clamped immediately instead of waiting for the pulsing to stop, and I did not get to hold him for very long on my chest at all (though I did get him for a minute, maybe 2).  But I didn't have a c-section and I was fine and healthy and so was he.  So it was all great :-)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Unto us a son is given

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I shared the following on Facebook, but since not all of you follow us on our Facebook page (you should--over on the right!), here is the news:

Facebook wants to know, "what have I been up to?" Well, Facebook, I had a baby! I began having contractions on Friday while most of you were reading my Quick Takes about how I still had time and sending good wishes (I read them while I was in early labor!) He was born Sunday morning at 3:49am and weighed 6lbs 12oz and was 20 inches long. As you can see, he is also the most handsome baby ever born :-)

We came home this morning and I fully intend to share his birth story in the next couple of days. Thanks to all of my long-distance blog friends for your prayers and encouragement!


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