2.0 Round 2 Day 27: Oh Baby!

Well, I know it has been a while, sorry for the lack of posts. Sometimes I’m just incredibly busy, and sometimes I just feel like my posts are a bit redundant, you know, there’s only so many pictures to post of me and little man getting our workout on each week without it becoming mundane. Things are pretty routine here.

Wait, did I say they’re routine? What I meant was up until this past Monday they HAVE BEEN pretty routine.

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Wait for it…… wait for it…….. YES! That is a fourth pumpkin and yes, it says “Baby 2015” on it.

Pregnant. Talk about life getting in the way! But in a good way. ūüôā We were very surprised, to say the least, but babies are a blessing in our book, so only happiness over here.

I never thought I’d be a mom to 4, but then I never thought I would lose my first child and in so many ways that changed everything, including our family size and how we planned it. I had always thought 2 was the perfect number, but after we had Faith, it didn’t seem right to stop there even though she was our second. So I surpassed my first expectation and became mom of 3. And now, even though it’s only 3 living children, I will always be mom to 4.

So, how does this affect my bikini body mommy routine, my blogging through the challenge, etc.? Well, it doesn’t, for now anyway. Since a healthy diet and regular exercise are recommended for low risk pregnancies, and since I have been working at this every day for almost 10 months and my body is used to this level of physical activity, I plan to keep going, listening to my body, modifying as needed, staying healthy, staying hydrated, and hope to have the healthiest, strongest, most stress reduced pregnancy yet.

Baby’s estimated debut is May 27, 2015, which puts me 6-7 weeks along. There is still time for morning sickness to set in, but I had only mild nausea with my other babies, so I am not surprised to find I feel great at this point other than that early pregnancy fatigue and needing a daily nap like you need to pee. Fight it all you want, it’s gonna happen.

I plan to keep blogging, keep doing the weigh ins and check ins. Obviously my measurements and weight will be going up, but I am really striving to gain at a healthy rate and not go into the excessive. Physically, mentally, emotionally, I have never been at a healthier point during any of my other pregnancies, certainly not with nutrition and hydration, so I’m excited to see how staying fit through pregnancy impacts me in a positive way. Any of you moms out there wondering how these workouts fit into a pregnant daily scenario? Now is the time to hit the subscribe button and follow along with my journey as it heads down this new path. I’m committed. I found out Monday about our new addition and have been doing the BBMC workouts every day as well as walking to run errands most days as well, pulling my little guy in the wagon. In fact, it was probably a comical sight, seeing all the pumpkins yesterday loaded into the wagon along with my little guy and my trusty 32 oz. big cup of water, walking the mile back from Fred’s, my girl skipping along beside me after school.

I’m looking forward to the good, the bad, and the awkward that pregnancy brings. I’m keeping up my positive energy forcefield. My goals are still in sight, some of them are just going to take a little longer to achieve and new ones are on the horizon. I’m excited!

My BBM Journey: Day 66

I think when I started this challenge I hoped I would stick with it, but was nervous that I would fall off the wagon. Here we are though, day 66 and still rockin’ and rollin’! I saw the picture Briana posted this morning of her day 75 progress, the one where she is wearing the red dress. Whoot whoot! She looks great, doesn’t she? I am not there, but I saw that picture and I thought, “I’m going to be there. In fact, I’m getting closer every day!” Positive thinking, people, don’t under estimate the power of positive thoughts. Like wise, don’t under estimate the power of negative thoughts. Those will kill your dreams before they even have a chance to take flight.

I wanted to do a recipe post today, but alas, my cabinets are pretty bare and my meals are more budget friendly odds and ends than spectacular clean eating creations. I know my progress is a bit inhibited by budget restrictions, but I have come to terms with it and continue to do the best I can. Meals have been heavier on the pasta and bread than I would like, but I know my life goes in cycles and spurts, it won’t be like this forever. I refuse to focus on the negative, instead I am focusing on all the things that are good and positive.

I feel like I don’t have a whole lot to say today, but I hate to go days without checking in. I’m just keepin’ on keepin’ on, and really that’s what this whole thing is really about. It’s not just about the glamour of results or having daily epiphanies, it’s about the consistent grind, the daily getting up and getting it done.

Today’s motivational photo is a shout out to the amazing little girl that keeps us all laughing and active. She NEVER stops singing and dancing.

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Happy Hump Day, everyone! Keep it smiling and positive!

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What is BBM?

Bikini Body Mommy, a movement led by Briana Christine, and you can find out more at http://www.bikinibodymommy.com

Did you miss my first post outlining my goals? Find it here.

https://natasiachampion.wordpress.com/2014/04/05/my-newest-project-an-overview/

Looking to find some inspiration on Pinterest? You can follow me there too.

To get my daily posts through the  90 day challenge in your inbox, hit the subscribe button at the top left of this page, right under my profile picture.

And finally, has this post delighted, inspired, or amused you? Feel free to share it with your friends.

My BBM Journey: Day 43

Another Monday! I knocked out this morning’s workout early and got into some gardening before lunch. It is hot and incredibly humid out there today and I poured sweat turning over a stip of dirt by hand, just me and the shovel. It was a spot that looked tacky with black landscaping plastic showing through a sparse sprinkling of decayed mulch where the previous tenants at this house did basically nothing with the yard other than mow. I couldn’t take it any longer and thought at the very least some zinnia seeds thrown out there with bachelor buttons and sunflowers would look better than the plastic, so I made it my morning project.

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Not bad for not having a tiller! I plan on planting my seeds this evening when it gets a little cooler.

We had a beautiful Father’s Day yesterday. This year the holiday fell on my hubby’s birthday too, and we did a family golf excursion. I know it sounds funny, but he’s the only one who plays. The rest of us had fun just being with him and enjoying the sunshine and being outside. We needed 2 carts, but the kids loved being out there with dad and my daughter especially was busy as his special club holder and putter getter.

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My sister was there with us too, her first experience on a golf course and learning a little about the game. She mostly helped out with this guy and had tons of fun driving the cart. (And scaring me a little once she got the hang of it and was comfortable.)

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I got a good deal of exercise wrangling the little man and helping my hubby ball spot.

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The kids ate pretzels and cheez its and got hot and sweaty and just had an all around blast.

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And apparently we really wore my little guy out, because this is what he looked like for the last 4 holes.

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So, it was a very nice and relaxing rest day, even though we stayed active. I hope everyone else had a great Father’s Day and that you got to spend time with that special dad or dads in your life. ūüôā

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What is BBM?

Bikini Body Mommy, a movement led by Briana Christine, and you can find out more at http://www.bikinibodymommy.com

Did you miss my first post outlining my goals? Find it here.

https://natasiachampion.wordpress.com/2014/04/05/my-newest-project-an-overview/

Looking to find some inspiration on Pinterest? You can follow me there too.

To get my daily posts through the  90 day challenge in your inbox, hit the subscribe button at the top left of this page, right under my profile picture.

And finally, has this post delighted, inspired, or amused you? Feel free to share it with your friends.

My BBM Journey: Day 36

Happy week 6!! We’ve made it half way through! That is incredible. Today’s strength workout was essentially the fit test from 1.0, and the very first time I ever did that was about a year ago. I laughed a jaded and discouraged laugh that day as I pitifully modified everything, did 4 tricep dips before having to collapse for the remainder of the minute, and the elbow plank, modified to my knees was just no. No, uh-uh, NOPE. I felt so out of shape when I woke up the next day and literally had to crawl to the toilet to pee in the morning. I didn’t think I was ever going to move again, let alone do well at that set of exercises.

Today? I have far surpassed my expectations of a year ago and am even stronger than the beginning of this year. At the beginning of 2014 I didn’t even think I’d ever be able to do each exercise every day with my crazy life, and not only have I gotten them all done for like 3 weeks in a row, I have successfully added a 20 minute run to each day, every day last week. Don’t sell yourselves short, friends. You are incredibly capable, strong, and stubborn enough to make it over even the most difficult hurdles. You’ve got this!

I have not only had the pleasure of embarking on this fitness journey, but I have been seeing the positive impact it has had on my family. My sister has been right beside me since day 1 of this challenge and I’m so incredibly proud to see her initiating runs and helping me stay on track with exercise, making healthier choices for her life, even vocalizing her regret for bumming and smoking cigarettes in the past as she felt the effects in her lungs on our runs. She has bravely tried some clean eating meals that she has become fond of and continues to give others a chance even though she’s not so crazy about them. As she is going to be 18 in a few short months, I am so humbled to be able to contribute to her success as a new adult with healthy habits. I’m proud of you, Mee-may!!

And my kids! I am floored with how enthusiastically they show up each morning, ready to help me get it done. This morning we had just finished our routine and I heard rhythmic stomping on the floor in the other room. Upon investigation I found my daughter doing mountain climbers all on her own. She knew the names of so many exercises we’ve done and was going through them all like a pro. I realized in that moment, even if I don’t lose a single pound or a single inch more, it’s all worth it. Watching these young people bloom and grow into healthy, well adjusted human beings, that’s where it’s at. It really did my heart good.

___________________________________________________________________________________

What is BBM?

Bikini Body Mommy, a movement led by Briana Christine, and you can find out more at http://www.bikinibodymommy.com

Did you miss my first post outlining my goals? Find it here.

https://natasiachampion.wordpress.com/2014/04/05/my-newest-project-an-overview/

Looking to find some inspiration on Pinterest? You can follow me there too.

To get my daily posts through the  90 day challenge in your inbox, hit the subscribe button at the top left of this page, right under my profile picture.

And finally, has this post delighted, inspired, or amused you? Feel free to share it with your friends.

My BBM Journey: Day 20

Another week in the books! I am super proud to have gotten every day in this week too! Yesterday I almost talked myself into not doing it, but got it in after lunch anyway. It really is true, you never regret getting a workout done, but you can sure regret missing them.

Today’s inspirational photo is actually a short video of the first minute of today’s workout. I know many of us are reluctant to show our bodies on camera, especially publically to the world on something like this blog, but if I waited til I got to my perfect goal body, it would literally be years of missing out on capturing great little memories like this. YEARS. And you know what? This is me today. When I walk out of my house, everyone is publically going to see me anyway, so why is a camera different? (Besides the fact that it really does seem to add 5-10 lbs.)

I want to encourage you to embrace your beauty today. You are a magnificent, unique person. You are working to change the flaws and be the best you that you can be, but you will never completely get rid of every little flaw. And you know what? Most people don’t see them when they look at you anyway. In fact, I want to encourage you to see yourself today the way your small children do. My daughter walks up to me, and I’m covered in sweat, my hair is a mess, no make up, with all my mommy pooches hanging everywhere, and she says, “Mommy, you,re so beautiful.” And she pushes the hair out of my face mid plank and asks for a kiss. THAT, my friends, is who you are to the ones who love you. Don’t let the mirror lie to you. Today, with your flaws and your imperfect body and your hard work to be a better you, you are beautiful.

So, with that said I’m sharing this video of my little guy working out with me. And even though a part of me cringes at myself on camera, I am choosing to see instead the positive influence I’m having in my kids life, I see the changes my body has made thus far, the progress, I see the hard work, and I see a mom who has been to Hell and back for her kids and bears the “war wounds” of being a mom. That’s all the stretch marks, mommy pooch, extra weight, etc. are, just the war wounds of being a mom. Wounds heal. Just keep being a fantastic mom to your kids. They think you are beautiful.

 

 

___________________________________________________________________________________

What is BBM?

Bikini Body Mommy, a movement led by Briana Christine, and you can find out more at http://www.bikinibodymommy.com

Did you miss my first post outlining my goals? Find it here.

https://natasiachampion.wordpress.com/2014/04/05/my-newest-project-an-overview/

Looking to find some inspiration on Pinterest? You can follow me there too.

To get my daily posts through the  90 day challenge in your inbox, hit the subscribe button at the top left of this page, right under my profile picture.

And finally, has this post delighted, inspired, or amused you? Feel free to share it with your friends.

My BBM Journey: Day 18

I have been so busy, I just haven’t been super creative in the kitchen. Today for lunch I sauteed some fresh veggies, added a handful of whole wheat pasta and sprinkled some shredded cheese on top. Simple, delicious, economical. I try to stay away from pasta, but when I do use it I make sure it is mixed with a lot of fresh veggies and that it is whole wheat. I find that whole wheat pasta fills me up more too, all the extra fiber I’m guessing.

Anyway, I will try to get some more meal posts and recipes in soon. In the mean time, today I will be sharing last night’s beautiful evening for inspirational photos. Now that my sister is back, we have a baby sitter to watch the kids while we take our short evening motorcycle rides. ¬†I can’t emphasize enough how awesome she is to let us slip away for 45 minutes or an hour to get some time to ourselves, even if we don’t talk much, it is nice to be together without work or kids or other distractions. These evening rides have helped off set the fact that he works 70 hours a week and I’m a 24/7 mom. Little man still bed shares, so we don’t even get night time to ourselves. Most nights hubs falls asleep on the couch and wakes up at 4:30 am for work still in the living room. So yeah, the motorcycle is really becoming a great asset to our marriage. ūüôā

Last night we rode through “down town” Cadiz to get to Barkley Lake State Resort Park to scope out possible camping options for this summer.

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We saw this guy doing some evening fishing on Barkley Lake.

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And then we crossed the bridge just in time to catch a fantastic sunset.

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What do you guys do to get away with your significant other?

 

___________________________________________________________________________________

What is BBM?

Bikini Body Mommy, a movement led by Briana Christine, and you can find out more at http://www.bikinibodymommy.com

Did you miss my first post outlining my goals? Find it here.

https://natasiachampion.wordpress.com/2014/04/05/my-newest-project-an-overview/

Looking to find some inspiration on Pinterest? You can follow me there too.

To get my daily posts through the  90 day challenge in your inbox, hit the subscribe button at the top left of this page, right under my profile picture.

And finally, has this post delighted, inspired, or amused you? Feel free to share it with your friends.

My BBM Journey: Day 11

Day 11. I was busy early yesterday with an appointment and then I had company, and by the time the afternoon rolled around, I just couldn’t find the pep to get my workout in. I could have done it in the evening, but since our computer doubles as our TV and the hubs was home from a long day at work, I couldn’t take his relaxation time away, so I doubled up this morning and did yesterday and today’s workouts all in one shot. Man! Kicked my butt too, but I felt good to be staying as honest and true to the challenge as I could.

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My sister is back home for a week, so I missed my sweat partner, but I get her back next week, so I’m looking forward to that and keeping it in high gear.

My hubby recently got a motorcycle and this one happens to be wife friendly, in that the passenger seat is very comfortable and designed for longer trips. I have never been a motorcycle enthusiast, I certainly can’t drive one, and I don’t even have a tattoo (yet) but I have been LOVING the little evening rides I’ve been able to take with him. Maybe it is the fresh air, maybe it’s the fact that I can hug him for more than two seconds before a little body pushes in between us and jealously yells, “He’s MY Daddy!!” At any rate, it’s been great.

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Kentucky has some really beautiful scenery, just about anywhere you go there is something interesting or quaint or lovely to see. The back seat of the motorcycle is a great place to see the sights and I usually take my camera with me when we ride.

023We live within minutes of Land Between the Lakes and often find ourselves driving near or over the water of Barkley or Kentucky lake. On this particular ride we didn’t get far before realizing I had brought my expensive DSLR but not the camera bag and a thunderstorm was heading right for us. I still got a shot or two of one of Barkley Lake’s many coves.

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So get out and get some fresh air, friends, however that may be, with ¬†the kids, or with your ¬†significant other, or even just by yourself. Have your morning coffee on the back porch and watch the sun come up, or take a walk and watch the sun set, or lay out under the full moon and count stars. Don’t underestimate the power of the outdoors, the calming effect of nature when you take time to observe. It’s ok to waste 5 minutes watching that bird looking for a worm from your kitchen window, or watching that squirrel try to find that nut he hid last fall. Take time to watch the sun glinting off the lake water, or count all the rustic old barns you see on a stretch of highway, and just enjoy the every day little things we tend to take for granted in our busy world. I promise, it will do your soul good, it will make you smile, and you know what they say, laughter is the best medicine, so I’m pretty sure smiling is a close second.

___________________________________________________________________________________

What is BBM?

Bikini Body Mommy, a movement led by Briana Christine, and you can find out more at http://www.bikinibodymommy.com

Did you miss my first post outlining my goals? Find it here.

https://natasiachampion.wordpress.com/2014/04/05/my-newest-project-an-overview/

Looking to find some inspiration on Pinterest? You can follow me there too.

To get my daily posts through the  90 day challenge in your inbox, hit the subscribe button at the top left of this page, right under my profile picture.

And finally, has this post delighted, inspired, or amused you? Feel free to share it with your friends.

 

Full Circle

This is one of those posts I do every once in  a while where it starts as a status and I have to export it to my blog because it is just bigger than a status.

So, once upon a time I had a little girl who I loved very much and wanted very badly. She was born sick and I could not breast feed her, so I pumped my very heart out every day right into the milk she never got to drink. She passed away at 17 days and all that liquid love I had worked so hard to make, that I had set my alarm religiously day and night to wake up and pump, she never got any of it, and there was bag after bag in the NICU freezer, all the staff was so proud of me, my supply took up a large proportion of the space. But she never got any of it and in my grief I looked into donating that frozen love, as frozen as my heart, to some other babies whos’ mommies wanted to breast feed but for various reasons could not. I began the process and had sent in the final paper work with my signatures when I got a call from a nurse at Kosair. She had tears in her voice when she told me that my milk had been thrown away by mistake. She knew how much this donation meant to me. I cried and cried that day, somebody had taken my tearful labor of love that I had worked so hard at and they had just thrown it away. I was devastated.¬†

I used to dream of holding my little girl, lovingly nursing her while rocking and singing to her. When she was in the NICU these are the images I would pull up in my mind while I pumped. They had told me the milk would flow easier if I thought about my baby while pumping, so I did. I thought of her and silently cried, letting the tears roll down my cheeks in the quiet room, as I wished I could hold her and I pumped, praying for the day I could just see her eat, even if it was through a bottle. By the first week I was getting 3-6 oz per breast, per pumping, and in case you don’t know, that is enough to feed 3 or 4 brand new babies.

But she didn’t get to eat, not from my breast, not from a bottle, not even through the tube they put down her nose. The medicines she was on made her throw it up, and she lost so much weight, from 5 lbs. 10 oz. at birth to barely above 3 lbs when she passed.¬†

And then some one threw away my milk and no babies got to benefit from all that love.

 

Fast forward to now. I had my second daughter who I nursed for 4 months before stress caused my milk to dry up and I thought my dream had come true at that time, but then I gave birth to my son in late December of 2012 and have been nursing him full steam since that time and there is no indication that my milk is in jeopardy! I am so happy and so fulfilled.

My little man nurses so well in fact that the extra milk I pumped right after he was born was still in the freezer 4 months later because he won’t take a bottle. I thought if he would take a bottle we could get a sitter and have mommy and daddy night out, but he is making sure that doesn’t happen. So, 20 oz or so of milk was frozen in my freezer when I saw something on a forum on Facebook in one of the mom groups I’m part of. Another mom was having trouble with her supply and her little guy was having trouble with the formula they were having to supplement with. She was asking if anyone was willing to donate some breast milk.

So today, just 30 minutes ago in fact, a broken hearted dream I had a little over 4 years ago was realized, and when I was not expecting it. As I handed over those bags of milk to that mom with gratitude shining in her eyes, I’m not sure if she could see the gratitude in mine. I’m sure she certainly couldn’t know how much it meant to ME to be able to do this for her, and even though it is technically Gavin’s milk I gave away today, I did it while thinking about my precious little girl Skye.¬†

Vanquishing Fear – An Epic Tale

My mom had 8 children, 7 naturally drug free and one (me) a classical incision emergency C-Section. (I was breech, and her second child.) The first 3 were hospital births and the last 5 were unassisted home births. That’s right, 6 vaginal births after a C-section, 5 of those at home with only my father and I helping. So you can imagine I had a very strong back ground in natural birth and a woman’s body being able to bring her child into the world.

When I became pregnant with my first child I originally planned a hospital birth, but used midwives for all my prenatal care. When I was 8 months along we moved from Colorado back to Kentucky and near our family. Rather than try to transfer to a new doctor so late in the game and with my mom now available to support me along with my husband being a licensed paramedic, we chose to have an unassisted home birth. All my prenatal care had been normal and the baby appeared healthy. My last appointment had been at week 35 and every thing was great. I went into labor on my own at 5 days before my due date and labor progressed normally and in a timely manner. However, I had experienced a nagging fear from the early part of my pregnancy that something would go wrong at birth. It was irrational, with no reason to believe it, and I tried to chalk it up to first time mom fears and fear of having no family support out in Colorado. Even after I moved home I still had this nagging, unexplained fear, even with my mom to support me and telling me there was nothing to worry about. So I labored at home for 12 hours before my water broke on its own around midnight. All night I labored and since this was my first baby I mistook pressure for the urge to push and started pushing too early, which wore me out. By the next morning, other than being tired, there was no reason to believe anything was really wrong, but I just couldn’t explain it, I was afraid something was wrong. I said we needed to go to the hospital.
Long story short, about the time we got in the car, the real urge to push came and for the 15 minute drive to the hospital I was holding back from pushing and was afraid I would deliver there in the car. I kept trying to take my pants down because I was sure that baby was coming, but I had to stop because the contractions were coming fast and furious. We got to the hospital, they wheeled me to a bed, the doctor barely got there in time to catch the baby, I was nearly crowning on arrival. 2 pushes and out came my baby girl, 5 lbs. 10 oz. But something was wrong with her skin. She was very red, not bloody, but her skin was fire engine red. The top layers of her skin were coming off over her whole body, but other than that her APGAR scores were perfect.

Our first Daughter Skye, minutes old.

Our first Daughter Skye, minutes old.

They didn’t know what was wrong with her, so she got transferred an hour away to the Children’s hospital where there was a NICU and that is where she stayed for 17 days enduring every test imaginable, being kept in sterile isolation and wrapped in gauze like a mummy, we weren’t able to hold her because of the risk of infection. Her case went to 10 different states, over 100 specialists consulted on her case, but nobody could figure out what was wrong. She passed away barely an hour into day 18 most likely from infection that had set in because without being able to attach a traditional I.V., they had to use her umbilical vein much longer than was recommended and then finally had to put a direct line into her chest.
We were so devastated. Our first and only child was gone.
I tortured myself thinking about what had I done to cause this, or what could I have done to prevent it. Every doctor reassured me that this was just an unexplained mystery, that there was nothing I could have done that I didn’t do. They ruled out skin diseases, infections, and various genetic defects. To this day nobody knows what was wrong. Genetics seemed to be the most promising avenue to research, but since they didn’t know what to test for (having tested for all known genetic disorders that fit¬†her various symptoms) and since she was no longer living to positively confirm, we were left in the dark.
I no longer felt even remotely strong or empowered. I looked around at all the happy mommies and babies and they mocked me. I had been told that women had been doing this for ages, that it was perfectly natural. I had seen it over and over with my own eyes, yet I had failed. I had not brought a healthy baby into this world. I did not have a baby. Despite a strong desire to birth naturally I had to give my baby over to every intervention imaginable and in the end, those did not work either. I was the very picture of fear and disillusion and defeat.
I became pregnant with my second child by what I consider divine intervention. We were actively preventing pregnancy as well as not in any state of regular intimacy (or intimacy at all, it was more like just going through the motions in order to have the illusion that life would go on and we could somehow recapture what we had lost, which of course, we could not.) However, about 6 weeks after we buried our daughter, I found out I was pregnant again. I was a mess, I didn’t know what to feel. I wanted to be happy, but mostly I was so afraid. What if it happened again? What if it was some genetic thing they had not picked up on? Calling one of my first daughter’s doctors did not help, he told us flat-out we should terminate the pregnancy until we could have more genetic testing done. So you see, from the very moment I picked up that positive pregnancy test, my second pregnancy was wrought with fear.
Because of the outcome of our first birth, my husband and I knew we would not be able to have a home birth. In addition, I was treated as high risk and underwent test after test. I saw a Maternal Fetal Medicine specialist and had more ultra sounds than I can count. The last 10 weeks alone I had 1 ultra sound each week where they took 10 different measurements each time and if baby was not in the right position they worked until she was. The whole 9 months was amazingly stressful. By the time my due date arrived I was literally begging them to induce me even though I didn’t believe in that, it’s just that I was a bundle of shot nerves. Thankfully, I went into labor on my own 2 days before my scheduled induction. I labored at home all day and by 9 pm we decided to go to the hospital since ¬†transition with my first baby had gone so fast and because I was worried about getting hooked up to an intravenous antibiotic as soon as my water broke. I arrived barely dilated and the nurse was going to send me home after the token hour of monitoring, but 30 minutes later my water broke. I didn’t know until after the fact that they hooked me up to some pitocin once I was officially admitted to keep things moving along and that made my labor very painful and the contractions very intense with almost no time in between them. By the time I hit 5 cm I gasped for the epidural. I could not imagine half a night of this pain, strapped into a bed, not able to move or get out of the bed, and barely able to catch my breath. The contractions were 40 seconds apart and I had no ability to focus and breathe. The nurse went out to call for the epidural, and as soon as she stepped back in about 5 minutes later I was beginning to bear down. She checked me and I had gone from a 5 ¬†to a 7-8. She told me it was too late to get the epidural and called for the doctor instead. It was the same doctor who had delivered my first daughter and once again he entered the room with barely enough time to throw on a gown and catch my little girl – my perfect, beautiful, healthy 7 lb. 10 oz little girl. We were over joyed! ¬†At that time I didn’t care about how the staff had trampled over my wishes on many points, that the doctor stuck the needle for the numbing agent in my clitoris for a SECOND time (he had done so with my first birth also) to sew up the same place I had torn with my first delivery, that the nurse who had been attending me during labor was almost rude the whole time, and that the doctor shoved the scissors into my husband’s chest and demanded that he, “Stop crying and cut the cord,” and then almost did it himself before my poor hubby could wipe the tears out of his eyes at the sight of our dreams being fulfilled. It did bother me that even though I had been promised time with the baby on my chest, that turned out to be 30 seconds before they whisked her away for long minutes and brought her back to me wrapped and capped, all of which I promptly undid to be able to look at her perfect body and skin and hair. There was no way I was going to keep her tightly wrapped up, not after what I’d been through with my first daughter.

Me and our second daughter Faith, a few hours old.

Me and our second daughter Faith, a few hours old.

As time went on and I had months and then years to review my 2 birth stories, I just felt disappointed. Obviously my first daughter’s birth and entire life was traumatic, my second daughter’s pregnancy was extremely stressful, and then the birth was definitely lacking. As someone who had originally wanted an unassisted home birth, my second daughter’s birth was gravely lacking in so many ways. By the time I became pregnant with my son this past year, I had long since decided I wanted something different, yet I wondered if I could ever really have what I wanted. I was more confident about my pregnancy and birth since having my second child, who remains one of the healthiest children I’ve ever known, yet I knew my husband would still never go for a home birth and honestly, I didn’t want to go that route either. We were now living in Tennessee and a friend referred me to the Vanderbilt Nurse Midwives. They are very hands off when it comes to interventions and amazingly supportive of empowering women and providing the most meaningful birth experience possible, yet they deliver at Vanderbilt, one of the leading medical centers in the nation, located in Nashville. It seemed like the perfect match for me. My entire 9 months of prenatal care just confirmed it more and more, and by the time I neared my due date I was down right excited to give birth, something I had not felt with my first 2.
I went into false labor on my due date. It was just strong enough for me to drop my daughter off with my friend, but after a few hours it stopped. Normally I would have been disappointed, but I was very calm and I knew my baby would come when he was ready. I was in and out of false labor the next day, my 40 week appointment, and I had my midwife check me and she asked if I wanted my membranes stripped. I was ok with that, but she said that while I was dilated a 2, I was only 50% effaced and she couldn’t really strip them. However, that night I began having some really good contractions. I was sure this was it. They continued until around noon the next day. My husband had decided to stay home from work and we dropped my daughter off at my friend’s again. As soon as we did, they stalled again! I was ok with the baby coming in his time, but I was anxious about all the false alarms and putting my friend’s life on hold and having my hubby miss work unnecessarily, something we could not really afford. So I called my midwives and they recommended that I try a castor oil cocktail. Within 2 hours of drinking that I knew we were really going to have a baby.
Vanderbilt is about 40 minutes from my house and since it was the middle of rush hour, we decided to go on to the hospital even though I normally would have waited a little longer. However, knowing how fast I tend to progress, I was more comfortable with being in Nashville even if I had to take a walk in the parking garage for a few hours. We checked in and they took us to a triage room in L and D to check me and monitor me for an hour. I was still 2 cm, but I was 90% effaced. My pain was still very manageable and my midwife (it just so happened my primary was on call that night, out of several that could have been) was reluctant to give me a room. I was sure that it wouldn’t take much monitoring, they would see I was in labor for sure. Apparently the monitor was not on my belly correctly because even though my labor was definitely progressing, after an hour the nurse came in and said, “I guess they’ve slowed down, huh?” I shook my head, “No, the exact opposite, they are getting stronger for sure.” She adjusted my monitor and checked me. I had dilated to a 3 and was completely thinned out, but my midwife wanted to monitor me a little longer since they could not see my contractions on the monitor. Another 30 minutes went by and the contractions had gotten pretty intense. I had to focus through them. After a really strong one I told my hubby to tell them I had to pee.
The little triage room didn’t have its own bathroom, so they helped me across the hall. My hubby went in with me to help me with my gown. I will never forget what happened next! I sat down to pee and he was casually scanning the bathroom interior. A hard contraction began, making him glance in my direction and his eyes got big as saucers and he said, “Oh my god!!” in such an intense manner that I completely forgot the pain and looked at him. “What??!” The look on his face and his pointing finger made me look down, afraid that I might somehow have started crowning without knowing it. Turns out I had passed a ridiculously large amount of bloody mucus, a rope almost as long as my fore arm. I started laughing just as the contraction peaked, which made it sound more like a hysterical sob, and my midwife knocked on the door urgently and asked if we were ok, which only made me laugh harder.
Needless to say, they quickly helped us gather our things and head over to a room. I got one of the 2 delivery rooms that Vanderbilt offers with a labor tub and between that and actually getting to have my primary midwife deliver me, I already felt this birth was a success. This was enhanced as I met the nurses who would be attending me. I was almost surprised to find each of them happy and energetic, a glorious relief after the non chalent, almost rude nurse who had been present while I labored with my second child. One nurse bustled about filling the tub while another walked me through paper work, being very sweet and patient while I stopped to have contractions. Another nurse was reviewing my birth plan with Claire, my midwife, and the whole air was nothing less than joyful, like everyone was my personal friend and they had been waiting 9 months just for me to have my baby. It was amazing.
As soon as the tub was full I was helped into it and allowed to get in my zone. They dimmed the lights and very quietly and almost with an air of sacred went about their tasks, allowing me to labor on my own, breathing through the contractions. I had never taken a class on child-birth, but I had self-educated and with every breath I focused on relaxing every muscle in my body, not even scrunching an eye lid, embracing the pain, taking them one at a time, envisioning a portal opening in my mind, slowly, easing my son into the world. It was just me in my zone, in the tub. My hubby was resting and checking Facebook, my doula, who I had originally planned on having there, was not able to come at the last second, and Claire was checking on a few things while I labored, my mom wasn’t even there. She had been present for the first 2 births, but wasn’t able to come all the way down to Nashville from Kentucky. But everything was as it should be, I felt calm, I felt powerful, I didn’t feel lonely, I just felt like I was the only one who could birth my son and I was ok with being in the tub, alone, laboring. Time ceased to exist. It was just one contraction at a time. There was no before and there was no after. (I later realized I was in the tub for just over an hour.)
About the time my breath got wavery during the contractions, Claire appeared and sat with me, gently encouraging me, telling me how wonderful I was doing, how I was so strong, bringing my baby down. She very gently stroked my arm and even though I had not directed her to do any of this, it was perfect timing and perfect support. At one point she had me move from a sitting position to leaning over the side of the tub. I went through maybe 4 more contractions like that and then my body began to push involuntarily. I knew I was very close. That was a very familiar sensation. My husband had just put a music CD on and we were barely into the second song when I told them I needed to get out of the tub. (Vanderbilt policy is that you can labor in the tubs but you cannot deliver in the water.) When I got in the tub I was dilated to 4, and upon checking me when I got out I was only a five. I saw what looked like doubt cross Claire’s face and she quietly said to the nurse, “She’s only a five….” I think she was thinking I may have gotten out too soon, but my husband spoke up and said, “No, you are going to see, it is going to go very fast from here.”
Unlike the doctor and nurses who had delivered my second child, Claire nodded and started getting things ready for a baby to be born even though I was only half way dilated. I was starting to lose control. I was told to breath through and focus, but it didn’t matter what I tried to do to focus, my body was trying to push with every contraction. I was told that my cervix was swelling, to not push, but my body continued to take over. Claire quickly asked the nurse for some Litocain and I barely felt the sting of a needle way up high and knew she was numbing my cervix. Then she began to apply counter pressure through 3 or 4 contractions. If I hadn’t requested my very own self to have no I.V. inserted when I got the room I would have sworn someone had secretly slipped me some pitocin. My contractions were so intense and no time in between them. And then I was given the green light to push. Oh, how I pushed! 2, 3, 4… a nurse grabbed one of my legs and pulled it back when my brain couldn’t register Claire’s command to pull my knees back. My husband was directed to pull the other knee back. Another great push and my baby’s head was out. I think they told me not to push for a second, then I was allowed. It took a few more and out he came, his shoulders had gotten stuck for a second, that’s why I had needed to push so much more than with my daughters. From 5 cm to baby out took no more than 15 – 20 minutes, I know because the song that was playing on the CD was maybe the 4th or 5th track. Everyone was surprised at how quickly that had happened, even me!
And then, bliss. That moment of relief when my baby was out, screaming in indignation¬†at the world he had entered, on my chest, all 7 lbs. 15 oz. of him. He stopped crying when he heard my voice, looked at me for a moment, then, as if becoming aware once again that he had been ejected from his warm home, he began wailing his lamentations once more. He was precious, every screaming bit of him! And my wonderful birth experience didn’t end there, I was able to hold my son on my chest for at least 20 minutes, nobody rushed me. Everything they did to check him over was done with him in my arms. The only reason they finally took him when they did was because I got curious about how much he weighed and told them to take him. They weighed him and brought him right back to me and I nursed him.

The moment of bliss, captured by one of the nurses for me.

The moment of bliss, captured by one of the nurses for me.

I had torn in the very same spot as the first 2 births, but this time, instead of screaming louder than I had while giving birth, I didn’t even feel the needle that numbed me because, apparently, female midwives must know more about the importance and sensitivity of the clitoris, as well as its location, something my OB had failed to grasp in his many years of patient care, considering he stuck me there not once, but twice. I barely felt the four stitches I received. My entire experience was perfect, just as I had always imagined, everyone respected my wishes, my baby was not once out of my sight with out my direction, he roomed in with me and only went to the nursery for his hearing test and PKU, which I was welcome to be there for. I could not have wished a more perfect experience into existence, and since this is the last baby we plan to have, it was an amazing ending to such an important chapter in my life, my child-bearing. And even though my first 2 births had been natural with no pain medication, this was the very first time I felt truly amazing and confident and powerful – and it is a beautiful thing!GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

Memories in Time

I was thinking about something this morning. People who really know me know that I’m all about taking pictures. I mean, not just during the Holidays or special occasions, I take pictures almost every day. I take pictures of random, ordinary moments, sometimes just a quick snap shot, sometimes taking it to the picture editor and embellishing it a little. I post many to Facebook, but there are some that just sit on my computer for a while until I finally decide I’m ok with deleting them or I move them to a named folder to keep for good. My friends and family have varying degrees of the opinion that I’m “picture crazy”, and others who are more of an acquaintance might think I’m silly, annoying, or even a little self-absorbed.

Well, you have to understand my history to understand my pictures.

I was born in the 80’s, into a world of Polaroids, long before the digital age. It wasn’t nearly as easy or as cheap to take and keep pictures around as it is today. You had to keep the photos in album books if they were going to stay nice, and film and books cost money and you had to keep buying them. To get a good portrait shot, you had to pay a photographer and pay for copies of those photos, and then you had to buy frames and all that. This, of course evolved a little, but pretty much was the norm until the very late 90’s, early 2000. Needless to say, my parents having 3 kids at that time, and 8 by the time it was all said and done, had better things to spend money on.

In addition, when I was 9, my family moved from a big, normal house into a tiny 31 foot travel trailer to travel west and begin a new life of adventure and pioneering. (Long story for a different day.) We had to down size to the very barest of minimals to fit us all in. After giving precious items to friends and family, many things just had to be pitched, including a lot of photos. It sounds harsh, but my mom did what she had to do and a drawer full of pictures and Polaroids that had never made it into albums had to be thrown away. I remember she cried while those memories went into the trash. Baby pictures, birthdays, family snap shots – all gone. To this day, I have no pictures of myself as a baby except for the few that my aunt has shared from the ones she kept. Sometimes, and Facebook has been a great thing in this respect, a long-lost memory surfaces as a very old picture is scanned and shared by family or friends that my mom reconnected with in the past few years. It is rare, though.

Between that time and the years we lived in Colorado and then Kentucky, disposable cameras were cheap and made it much easier to take pictures, but developing still cost money, and after moving so much, we learned to travel light and we didn’t take many pictures that have survived. There is a small handful that each of my sisters and my mom have, pictures my dad hand-picked before he died of the cabin he built and the years in Colorado.

Then, in 2005, I moved out on my own and was introduced to a world of rapidly evolving digital cameras and camera phones. I was young and single, so I had very little incentive to take pictures for a little while, but then I got married, a year later we were pregnant with the first grandchild on Hubby’s side and moving a thousand miles away to Colorado to open our first restaurant. My mom in law bought me my very first, very own digital camera. Suddenly, pictures were so easy to take, and storing them on our new laptop was incredibly easy too. No more developing charges, bulky photo albums, and any “bad shots” could easily be deleted. It was life changing.

But the biggest piece of this puzzle fell into place later that year, the reason why I like to capture so many ordinary moments.

Many who have read this blog and followed it even a little know that in 2008 we lost our first baby girl to a surprise and mystery condition she was born with. She lived 17 days, all of them in a NICU unit, and while I took pictures and a few videos, I did not realize she would die and how many memories I would not make. I didn’t take nearly enough pictures, and even if I had, there would be none of the ordinary moments we take for granted. There were no pictures of her first bath, her first time getting dressed up for church, her first steps, her first birthday, her first day of school, and there certainly weren’t any every day moments to remember and smile over. What’s worse is that the time I did spend with her is missing huge chunks in my memory. I have blocked out most of the traumatic days of her in the NICU laying in pain, unable to be held by us, a blur of doctors and medicine and sterilization. Those are the only memories she is part of and many of them are lost.

We were blessed, by surprise no less, the following year with our rainbow baby Faith. From about half way through that pregnancy (the point where I begin to remember life again, the months directly after Skye died are almost completely gone, I vaguely remember very little, clips here and there) I had decided that no matter the outcome, I was not going to wait to spend time with her. I was going to make memories and make the most of her time with me, whether that was days or years. I talked to her all the time, just as you would a friend, when she was in my belly. I told her what I was doing, how things looked, my hopes, my fears, why I was doing a certain chore and how. Someone watching me would have pegged me as insane, walking around the house talking to “nobody” about needing to do the dishes and why one brand of soap was better than another.

I took pictures of my pregnant belly, but I really began taking pictures when Faith was born and I just never stopped. Over the past 3 years the picture-taking has really evolved as I found fabulous free picture editing sites to fix flaws and enhance the mood of the shot, add frames, etc. and Facebook has been invaluable for storing my pictures in albums. In fact, after my first computer crashed, I learned a valuable lesson. I lost even more of the few precious memories I had, pictures of Skye, on my old laptop, and would have been utterly devastated if I had not put pictures on Facebook and videos on YouTube. So yeah, I post A LOT of pictures on Facebook and my friends may or may not think I’m a little obsessed, but I don’t care. I know that several times I have needed to download them back off the web to have them.

Memories friends, you can’t buy those. They are priceless.

Just a Fall day at the park with my girl.

 

Every time I snap a picture of this little girl loving life, I think of another little girl who is not here. She never got the chance to go down the slide.

 

Another every day memory. One day she’ll be grown up and this picture will be all I have. I don’t take it for granted.