Tuesday, November 6, 2012

End of Days Playlist

Someone was asking me recently about music and labor. I found music so therapeutic at the end of my pregnancy and during the difficult parts of my labor. Music can be so healing. It can be very spiritual. It can help you find strength. It can help set your frame of mind. It can help set a mood. Music did all of these things just when I needed it.

I thought I would share my playlist with you.

Imogen Heap- The fire, Sleep,
Zoe Keating- Fern, We insist, Legions, Frozen angels
The Innocence Mission- Happy bday, It is well, A wave is holding
Iron and Wine-Great heights, Love and some verses
Rising Appalachia- Across blue ridge mntns
Besides Daniel- Buckets
The Brilliance- Breath, Shephard strong
The Album Leaf- The light, Tied knots
Neko Case- Hold on
Noise Ratchet- A way to the heart
Sufjan Stevens- Transfiguration, To be alone with you, Happy bday
Jeff Buckley- Hallelujah
Feist- Intuition
Of Monsters and Men- Slow and steady, Love love love
Explosions in the Sky- Its natural to be afraid, Your hand in mine
Bon Iver-Perth
Little Dragon-Twice
St. Peter St. Paul Cathedral Choir
Molly Parden- Song for my mother
Tyler Lyle- For love to come, She dreams in colour, Love story,
Azure Ray- Safe and sound
Marissa Nadler- Love again
Rosie Thomas- Paper airplane
Coldplay- Now my feet won't touch the ground, God put a smile on your face
Sigar Ros
Angus and Julia Stone- Hold on
Ingred Michaelson-  Keep breathing

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Rowan Declan's Home Water Birth

This pregnancy was such an interesting pregnancy, and was such a reminder to me that every pregnancy is as unique as the child you are carrying with it. Among my three previous pregnancies, this one was most like my pregnancy with Aidan. I had a car accident when I was about 23 weeks pregnant, and from that moment on, I had an irritable uterus. It was a bit worrisome, having so many contractions from such an early time. It was HUGE relief when I finally hit 37 weeks, knowing that he would most likely be healthy if he was born from that point on. I went to a pool party with the ladies from church when I was about 39 weeks pregnant, and had some serious contractions that day and some bloody show that evening. I thought it might be the start of things. And it was, sort of. I continued to have contractions every day from that point on. Not like practice contractions, but like real labor contractions. I would have a day off here and there, but for the most part, I would contract pretty regularly throughout every day and every night. It made me pretty anxious as I waited for things to pick up. Every day I would wake up with such disappointment to realize things had not progressed and I still had not met my baby. Every day, I would wake up with a new stress and a new worry. I spent the next 3 weeks trying to keep busy. I took many walks, took the kids to the zoo, took them to Centennial Olympic Park, took them swimming, I walked the dog 3 times a day, and just kept as busy on my feet as possible. At 41 weeks, I went to the Monastery of the Holy Spirit, and spent the day in prayer. I was loosing faith: faith in my body, faith in creation, faith in the process. My whits and my nerves were certainly strained. Before I knew it, I was 42 weeks pregnant. By God's grace, I was given a peace that day. I knew it couldn't be much longer. I knew that if I had made it that far, I could make it as long as it would take.

Around 2pm on August 7th, the day I hit 42 weeks, I started having regular contractions. I had contractions through the previous night, but it was like 1-2 per hour and nothing to write home about. I was so stoked to finally have a pattern brewing. I spent the day alone in my room hiding out. I tried to keep things going by giving my labor some "natural stimulation" and used some random methods to release my own natural oxytocin. This seemed to help a lot so I kept this up throughout the day. A couple of hours later, I noticed I was getting some contractions that required a bit of work. I was soooo hesitant to let my doula and midwife know. My labor had been so up and down, I didn't want to get my hopes up. I went ahead and let them know what was going on, and kept them updated over the next few hours. My midwives and my doulas all decided to come over sometime that evening (can't quite remember what time it was when they showed up). I have a history of fast labors and I think they all wanted to be certain not to miss anything. Not long after the midwives showed up, my mom came over as well.

When everyone got here, I felt like I was just having a good evening hanging out with friends. It certainly didn't feel like I was in labor. I don't know if it was the mix of new people, the change in scenery (because I left my room to walk the rest of the house) or what, but I felt my contractions start to drift apart. They kept up in strength, but were loosing the pattern and with that, I lost a little bit of hope. So I went back up to my room to have some time to myself, to rest and pray, and regain my focus. After falling asleep for a while (I think everyone in the house went to sleep for a while), I woke up and freaked out that maybe my contractions disappeared. It was the next morning and I was still pregnant. Not like my previous labors at all. I was mad and frustrated. Where the heck were my contractions?! What the heck is going on?! My photographer and doulas were all in the room with me when my photographer asked if she could pray with me. It was like she knew all of my worries and fears when she spoke with God and poured them out for me. Her prayer was such a blessing, and I just laid in bed and wept for a moment. I think we all cried a bit.

 When my midwife woke up and we'd all had breakfast, I had her check me to see what was going on. We were all surprised to see that I was at 8cm. I had a bulging bag of water and the baby was "floating" as she put it and just not coming down. Basically, we were waiting on my water to break at this point for my labor to progress. Evidently, I have some super strong bag of waters or something, because over the next couple of hours, I tried EVERYTHING to get my contractions more frequent or to encourage my water to break. I danced, I stomped, I walked, I got in and out of the birth pool, I squatted, I sat on the toilet, I pushed a little with each contraction that I did have, but it wouldn't budge. I had a constant pressure that wouldn't go away. Not like "I need to poop/push the baby out" pressure, but just like, my contractions never fully went away. It was so odd knowing that I should feel like I was almost done, but felt like I wasn't in labor hardly at all. I talked with my doula and husband about asking the midwife to break my water. I KNEW in my heart that's the next step I needed to take, but it was so hard to take that step. In my previous labors I had a labor that gradually built and by the time pushing came, I was in la-la labor land and ready to just push the baby out. This time, I was walking around just like I am today and I knew the second my water broke, it would only be minutes before I'd be pushing my baby out. I told everyone there I felt like I was about to bungee jump or something. I was so nervous, but also excited, and knew it needed to happen. I also have to interject here and give my midwives and doulas a virtual high five. No one pressured me into this intervention at all. They actually all reassured me that they were all fine with letting my labor go on as it was and had no problem waiting. But I felt so stuck, and I knew at the bottom of my heart that this would make the difference I needed.

Soooooo, I had another cervical check after lunch, and my midwife broke my water as I requested. I can't quite remember exactly what time this was, but I do know that everyone had just finished up lunch. My cervix was almost completely gone and my water was still just hanging out there. So, she broke it, gave me a depends, and I stood up to help the baby fall into place. It didn't take very long before my contractions picked up and moved on to the next level. I stood by my birth pool and practically jumped in at one point when I felt my "pushing" contractions coming on. I've always said that pushing contractions feel like throwing up, but out your butt, haha. I tried squatting, but that killed my hips. I felt like I needed to be able to move my legs back and forth during each contraction. I'm sure it looked to everyone else like I was flopping around like a fish in the water. I probably looked a hot mess. I was roaring an growling with each contraction and flip flopping all over the birth pool. I was glad to be in the water because it made it so much easier to move around as much as I needed without much effort. Finally, my favorite position was leaning back so that I could bend and adjust my legs when I felt the baby coming down through my hips and pelvis. It was when I got in this position that I finally submitted to pushing. Up to this point, I'd give little grunts here and there, but didn't give any REAL pushes. Well, once I pushed, my body hopped on board and pushed with me. Talk about a roller coaster ride. My body and I were pushing whether I wanted to or not at this point. And for some reason I was mad and wanted a break.I did NOT want to push anymore, but I was just getting started.. I remember wanting to just poop and take a nap. HA! We think the dumbest things sometimes in labor. Anyhow, I probably pushed for 3-5 contractions. They were super weird and sporadic contractions. But the second to last contraction, I felt Rowan crowning and I yelled out to everyone that the baby is coming. Then with the next contraction I gave it everything I had. I was done and didn't want to do this any more. It was at this point, when I remember feeling the ultimate intensity of everything I had been through in my entire pregnancy put into one moment. This same moment, I felt the power of God surge through my body while His hands were bringing forth His child. This was the moment I had to deal with any and all fears, and I had to set aside my self and my fears and allow God's hands to work. I pushed out his head, took a breath, and then pushed out his body in the next breath. I looked down and grabbed him out of the water and pulled him to my chest. He was super quiet and just looked up at me and gave a little whimper. I was just amazed. I was amazed that I just did that on my own, with only God's guiding hands. I sat in the pool and just loved on my new baby. This baby that I had waited and waited for. Who took me to the brink of my sanity over the past few weeks. This baby who brought me closer to my God as I pleaded for guidance and assistance from in ways I hadn't in years. I sat and breathed in his beauty. I looked him over and over again and thanked God for my awesome little man. It was such a great relief to have him in my arms. I had daydreamed of his fat little cheeks and here they were. I just relished in him and his perfection.

About 20 minutes after he was born, we cut his cord, I birthed the placenta, then I moved to the bed. After an exam I was glad to hear that I had nothing more than a little stretching and bruising, but I didn't have any tears that needed to be repaired. While I rested and got my exam, I pretty much just watched my husband while he snuggled our new little pooper. He brought him back to me so that I could nurse, and Rowan did great, and I barely had to try to get him latched on. I think he nursed for about 45 minutes. After he nursed, the midwives helped me get cleaned up and then I got back in bed and relaxed as they did Rowan's exam and took his measurements and weight. After that, they cleaned up and left us to enjoy our new baby and relax.

All in all, I am soooo happy about how everything happened. Home birth seemed just so easy and natural. I never felt the need for anything that the hospital had to offer. The midwives had everything I needed. And gave just the right amount of care. I felt like they gave me the space that I needed, but also gave the perfect amount of care that I needed. It was the perfect balance. I'm so thankful to have been given the opportunity for a home birth, I wish every mother could have this option if she wanted it.

Looking back over my four birth experiences, I can't say one was harder/better/easier/more challenging than the other. Each one came equipped with unique blessings and unique struggles. Each birth and each child shaped me in a new way in becoming a mother to each child. Each birth also revealed something new about myself, and I feel like I learned so much about God in each experience as well. It's in those most difficult moments when we meet our real self and our faith is truly tested. I'm so thankful for those moments and what they have shown. It's the most humbling and most character-building moment a person can go through.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Recovery and Paula Abdul

Recovery is an odd thing. I've never broken a bone (maybe a toe). I've never been seriously ill. I have had two surgeries when I was a teenager, and I'm pretty sure that my mother kept me medicated through recovery to the point where I don't remember what recovery was like. Unfortunately, I cannot medicate myself through this recovery since I am a mom now, and all. So I am very present and well aware of what this recovery entails. It includes many ups and downs.

It looks like I have injured my sacroiliac joint. This is good and bad. It's good because I was really worried that I had broken my tail bone in my car accident and that birthing this baby was going to be a problem. I am TERRIFIED of having surgery while awake, therefore I am terrified of c-sections. I am thankful for their life-saving properties. But I'm pretty sure that if I ever had to have one, I'd have to be put under. I'm not afraid of many things. I actually have an abnormal absence of fear in many situations where it should be a good quality to have. I am afraid of two things: I am afraid of slugs (or any slug-type thing) and I am afraid of having surgery while awake. So good news is, my injury should not contribute to a moment when I might have to face my fears. And the bad news is that it takes quite a while for the SI joint to heal. More good news is that if I take it easy and do things just right, then I should be feeling pretty dandy in time for this baby to be born.

Some things that I have learned that make things worse: sitting "Indian style" or cross-legged (Two very hard habits to break), squatting, bending over, and twisting. So, my job as a mom and everything that it entails is pretty much made more difficult for a while. My kids DEMOLISH the house every day. They are still pretty young, and while they can "help" clean up, it's still in my hands at the end of the day to make sure everything is back in it's right place. One thing that I have learned about Aidan, is that if I don't get things back in their place then he starts wreaking havoc. So it's better to help him daily keep things in order so that things don't get out of control.

But Dale has pretty much become Mr. Mom and has been filling my shoes. It has helped tremendously so that I can avoid all of the things that seem to irritate my bum and make things more painful. Even so, I feel like my recovery process is sort of (in the words of the great Paula Abdul) "two steps forward, and one step back." I start to feel really good for a couple of days, then I start feeling pretty rough again for a short time. It's become sort of a cycle, I've noticed.

I'm doing my best at trying not to get bored of this. I am really bad about just ignoring pain and moving on. If I weren't pregnant, I probably would just be trying to do things like normal. Silly, I know. But I am motivated by my pregnancy to get better faster, and to have a healthy birth. I want good things for this baby. So, I'm doing my best to stay chill, avoid things that might aggravate, and do more things that will help.

One thing I've got to do, is figure out some creative things around the house that are not super messy, that can help me entertain the kids. They are getting some SERIOUS cabin fever and are at each other's throats.

I love if you all could be in prayer with me: about my healing and about my mothering through my recovery. Thanks a bunch!

Monday, April 16, 2012

We Have Found a Replacement!!!

So this past week has included some much needed R&R and some time spent researching cars. Dale was really awesome during his "Spring Break" and took over ALL household duties so that I could rest. By Thursday, I was starting to really start to feel a difference. Today, I am so very thankful that I was able to take a break. Aside from a few lingering aches I am feeling so much better.  So, Dale went and checked out one of the vans we were looking at today. But before I get into that, I'll give you our strategy. We don't do car payments. We have enough payments in life (student loans, mortgage, bills, bills, bills, etc) , and prefer to stay away from an additional payment if we can. So, when I say that we were looking at cars, we don't look at car lots, but through individual sellers. Dale had our tax returns set aside in savings, and little did we know that we were going to "get" to spend that on a new car. When I wrecked our Honda, I had already put our Ford on the market. My plans were to sell that and use that money to put towards a van. We needed a van since we're about to have baby #4. Wellllllll, when I wrecked the Honda, we decided to simply replace the Honda with a van and keep the Ford. 

Which puts us to this morning. 

We were looking at vans. 

I had put in some calls to some people whose vans I was coveting and wound up setting up a test drive. Dale took his dad and went for a test drive. And well, it turns out we had a winner. I didn't expect to find a winner so fast! But looks like we found a pretty good van for a very small amount of money (well, a lot for us, but very little in terms of automobiles). 

Now I feel like I can finally start moving past all of the nonsense from the last few weeks. All loose ends are finally starting to wrap up and things might even start getting back to normal in the very near future. 

Now I just praise God for having an amazing husband who so wisely sets funds aside for days like today, who says "No" to eating out every now and then, has taught me how not to be so much of an impulse buyer, and I thank God for giving us the resources to be able buy this van today.

Monday, April 9, 2012

An Update on My Health

Today, it has been 10 days since my car accident. I thought I'd give an update on how I am doing. Surprisingly, I thought I'd feel much better by now. This past weekend (Easter weekend) was very difficult for me. I went to two church services (midnight and 11am), waffle house with the hubs after midnight mass, and I also went to lunch and an Easter egg hung with my mom's family. I wanted to have more fun, but I think I was more of a cranky by-stander than anything. Many apologies to my family and friends for that. The kids had great fun, and I'm so thankful for that.

When I got home yesterday, Dale sent me straight to my room to lay down. I wanted to cry with every step I took. I'm still in lots of pain. I honestly don't feel any better than the day the car accident happened, unfortunately.

I laid in bed for a while last night, trying to fall asleep, and started to struggle with some contractions. Thankfully, they were irregular. But they were very uncomfortable and there were way too many. I started to get nervous. I drank a couple of glasses of water and laid down. They continued. I ate a Popsicle. I don't know why I thought this would help, but I wanted it to help because I really wanted a Popsicle. Unfortunately, the contractions continued. I kept telling Dale, "My uterus is very angry."   I wanted to try to drink a glass of wine to stop the contractions, but could not because of the pain killers that I am taking. So, I tried to take a bath. I really didn't want a bath. I was really tired and wanted to be dry in my comfortable bed. But I needed these contractions to stop. The bath didn't really show any immediate results.

So, my problem solving skills went to work even harder. I started thinking: when you go to the hospital, they give you magnesium sulfate to stop contractions sometimes. Once upon a time they gave you terbutaline (some places still do, even though this is currently a controversial drug to give for this). Anyhow, both of those things cause muscles to relax. Dr's used to prescribe IBprohpen (but it's also linked to miscarriage so this is controversial as well). The basic idea is that inflammation is associated with pre-term labor. The wheels continued to turn. Well, I was given magnesium sulfate in labor once due to my high blood pressure. Another mild supplement my midwife suggested I take to prevent high blood pressure is this stuff called "Calm." My chiropractor also suggested a similar product for my migraines. So I have this magnesium powder stuff sitting around my house that is an "anti-stress" drink, and seems to be pretty multi-functional. It's good at preventing migraines, good at preventing high blood pressure, and after some googling on Dale's and my behalf, we learned that it is also good to calm an irritable uterus. So, what the heck. I gave it a go. I drank it as fast as I could. And I guess it worked pretty well, because I finally fell asleep after about 4 hours of struggling.

This morning, I still have some tightening in my belly, but it's not painful like it was last night. I have definitely learned a lesson and I am now submitting myself to the rest that I know I should be doing. I am only 25 weeks, and still have a ways to go. Dale is taking this week off of work (something I'm sure he wanted to do last week to help, but it was Holy week). We have many plans to piddle in the yard, cookout, spend lots of time in the sunshine, and pretty much just "Stay-cation" this week. I'm going to finally call today to make a doctor's appointment. I also want to see about going to visit my chiropractor (it has been WAY too long since I have seen him). Most of all, I'm going to rest. I had many plans to tackle some projects around the week while Dale is home, but those are just going to have to wait. Last night pretty much scared the socks off of me, and I was two seconds away from going in to L&D to get a dose of meds to stop pre-term labor.

As a mom, it often feels like we don't have time to be sick. It's the cruelest thing in the world for a mom to be out of commission. But sometimes we are. Sometimes we are sick or hurt, and we have to take a break. I'm normally the "tough it out" kind of person. Most of the time, I just try to ignore my aches and pains and go on with life. That's pretty much how I survive motherhood. But there are times in life that require rest and healing, when toughing it out makes things worse. I think I had forgotten that this past weekend. I was trying so hard to just "be better" even though I did not feel better. Just because I wanted to "be better" doesn't mean that I am. This is going to be a struggle for me, to sit and wait, and slowly let my body heal from this. Totally no fun. Especially when the weather has been so awesome. But I guess I'm gonna have to do it.

So, if you want to see me. You are welcome to come to my house. You will probably find me either bedging out on the couch or laying on a blanket in our front yard soaking up the vitamin D. But it looks like I'm not going anywhere for a little while....

Monday, April 2, 2012

Passing the Baton: The Baby

Today was a good day. I spent the day alone with my youngest. Dale took the older two to work with him today. I have to say that Liam is very good at being the youngest. Even though he's 20 months old, we all still call him "Baby" and it is very fitting.He loves being babied.

We pretty much did a lot of nothing today. Dale and I spent the day on the phone trying to track down my missing driver's licence, which seems to be the key to us concluding all of the business that we need to wrap up in order to send our car to car heaven. After that was done, I had nothing to do. I cleaned a little bit around the house. Liam "helped." We played with some toys. He peed once in the potty today. We had a tickle fight. We took a nap. Then had anther tickle fight. Then started wondering what we were going to do for dinner. Dale was going to be late tonight, and we were out of groceries. So I packed up my cute little baby and we took a very leisurely stroll to the grocery store. I have got to say that I have taken that walk so many times. But. This. Was. The. Slowest. Walk. Of. All. Time. This was my first attempt at getting out of the house since the accident last Friday. And well, I think I still have a long way to go and a lot of healing to do. Thankfully it was just me and my little one who was loving the leisurely ride in the stroller and we took baby steps all the way to Publix. For those of you who don't know, Publix is a small 1/2 mile walk from my front door. Not far at all. It was nice to get out. I was glad to have a patient companion with me and enjoyed the beautiful day and our quiet walk. It got me to thinking...

I wonder if Liam is going to have a rough time sharing the role of "baby" in our family when #4 gets here. Or I wonder if something is going to change in him where he enjoys having a "baby" of his own. I do know there are times when he gets aggravated with his brother and sister because they do baby him pretty much every second of every day. Every once in a while he begs for independence. I never worried or wondered this with the other two. They were very much ready and willing to pass the baton and become "Big Brother" and "Big Sister." But I don't really know how Liam is going to be.

It breaks my heart a little bit to hold and snuggle him and realize he's not my wee little baby any more. It blows my mind when I realize that he's going to be TWO when this baby gets here. Two seems so old. I think it's going to be a transition for the both of us. Till then, I'll cherish rare days like today where it is just the two of us. It's been a rough road for he and I. We've battled a lot together (many many MANY sleepless nights with this kid). But now that we've gotten past colic and reflux, we have grown to have sweet and peaceful days like today. I find a kindred spirit in him. He's good people.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

In other news....

In other news, I am craving cashews, bananas, and peeps. I want to eat this exactly: 3 bananas, all of the cashews in the world, 6 boxes of peeps, and maybe one cadbury egg.

I might have some sort of pregnancy/narcotic-induced munchy fest about to happen. It's probably a good thing that I have none of these things in my house.