Saturday, March 26, 2022

Overnight Baked Steel Cut Oats

We don't have a microwave, so I've had to get creative with pre-made HEARTY breakfasts these days. Breastfeeding hunger is real and I'm a bit of a mess on days I don't have pre-prepared food on hands. I'm actually loving baked oats way more than I expected to. I was getting tired of the two recipes I had on rotation, so I modified this recipe today for a change of pace!

Baked Steel Cut Oatmeal (makes 4 servings)

1 cup steel cut oats

1/4 cup pecans (or chopped nuts of choice)

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

2 scoops collagen powder

1/4 cup maple syrup

2 cups milk of choice

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 Tbs butter, melted and cooled slightly

1 egg

1 cup frozen blueberries

Mix all ingredients together in a medium bowl and stick in fridge overnight. 

In the morning, stir again and pour into an 8x8 baking dish.

Bake at 375 for 40 minutes.

Try not to eat the whole pan in one day!

Friday, December 10, 2021

Isaac's Birth Story

So I went to bed on the December 9 at 41 weeks pregnant, after weeks of false alarms and emotional highs and lows. I was exhausted in all the ways. At my appointment that day, I'd talked about coming in for some sort of induction a few days before hitting 42 weeks, and I was defeatedly sure my body was just going to wait it out.

Instead, I woke up suddenly at 1:45am with fluid trickling down my leg. I had fallen asleep, as always those last few weeks, on my left side with a pillow propping my top leg way up to give baby as much room as possible to wriggle down into the pelvis when he was ready, and he was finally ready. I laid in the dark for a minute, savoring the quiet relief that this was finally it, and then I was seized with a deep, long, strong, painful contraction and NOTHING has ever hurt so good. I knew it was happening this time, and I got up to go to the bathroom, shower, and put on my labor outfit and a pad. I don't even know what else I did between then and the doula arriving at 3am. I timed contractions from 0147 to 0208 and they were all over a minute long and 2-3 minutes apart. After 7 contractions in 20 minutes, and the bone-deep knowledge that even though prodromal labor was painful, THESE were the deep, real contractions I remembered, I stopped timing. 

Angela arrived at 0300, shortly after mom and dad did, and we walked to the hospital. I had to waddle slowly... really slowly during contractions... and I was just so happy knowing I was finally about to meet this baby! I felt like a warrior queen. I had waited and been patient and trusted, and this was finally happening on its own.

I got monitored upon arrival at 0330 and no one disputed the fact that I was in labor. I got checked before getting into the tub around 0410, and I was still at 3cm but more like 80-90% effaced although baby's head was still at -2 station. Ross had strung up some Christmas lights in the bathroom, and I soaked in the dark on all fours, listening to "Colorblind" by myself, collecting myself and trying to wrap my mind around what was about to happen. I swayed my hips to the words, "I am ready, I am ready, I am ready I am fine. I am covered in skin. No one gets to come in. Pull me out from inside. I am folding, and unfolding, and unfolding I am..." The words that had carried me thorough many anxious pregnancy walks worked to get me in the zone. It was all happening at last and I was ready for all of it.

It gets fuzzy after that, as the intensity grew. With Noah and Rosie, I loved Vanessa's detailed doula timeline and pictures. Neither Angela, nor the nurse, nor I had time to make notes or take pictures after this point. I might have tried listening to more of my playlist, but by the time the lab tech came in to draw my blood, it was becoming quickly apparent to me that this was not going to be a "rest between contractions" kind of labor. They were long, strong, intense, and building on top of each other pretty quickly. The buoyancy of the water wasn't providing relief, and counter pressure from Angela quickly became uncomfortable. 

I got out of the tub shortly after 0500 and got in all fours on the bed. That didn't feel right either, so Angela got a peanut ball for me to drape my arms and upper body over, and that was it. That's where I stayed. For some reason, it felt best to hold onto the bed handrail with my right hand and grip for dear life and almost pull my hips to the left during contractions. I squeezed Ross' hand with my left hand, forearm resting on the ball, with my forehead resting on top. 

At first, I was fighting panic. It was all happening so quickly! The nurse's note quotes me saying, "I can't keep up with this intensity" at 0519. Around that point, I asked for an epidural and Angela told me to get through two more contractions. I knew in my head I didn't have time to run a bag of fluids and start an epidural. Nor did I really want to. What I was really saying was that this was wildly overwhelming and I needed help. But then Dr. Sisk arrived at the bedside (at 0548 according to the notes) and I knew I was close to the finish line. I scooted my knees forward and my hips back a bit and sank into it. My mind sank back into my body, my weight sank back into my hips. Instead of tensing up and straightening out, I moaned and opened up my hips and swayed gently in the small breaks between contractions. 

I remember at the very end, I finally found a rhythm in my head. It was something like a low moaning and exhale through a slow count of 4, then the contraction would peak, and I could breathe in again as it eased up, sway my hips in the pause, and then sink into the next wave. That counting helped a lot and eventually I could hear my voice start to catch as I moaned. I knew my body was starting to push. After a few of these contractions, the Fetal Ejection Reflex kicked in in earnest. I think I had 1-2 contractions where I knew THIS WAS IT, although I'm not sure I said anything out loud. I assumed they could all hear it in my voice! The next 1-2 contractions, I wasn't just crowning. I think around that point someone might have asked about switching positions, but I zoned them out and instead shouted, "his head is out!" 

They whisked the sheet off and the doctor was there to catch the baby. When his head was all the way out, I was expecting them to tell me to breathe and wait for the next contraction, but instead they told me to push. I tried once, but it wasn't with a contraction and I was wrapping my mind around the fact that all wasn't entirely well and something must be stuck. Instead of panicking, I took a deep breath and DID push more effectively and after another 2 pushes (I think), he slipped out and all was well. It wasn't the water birth I wanted, but I was on all fours and I asked them to pass him under my the way I'd envisioned meeting him. They passed him under, I rolled to my side, and curled around him on the bed. We did it! The two of us worked as a team and we met face to face at last. 8 days past his due date and just in time for his Birth Day. 

We finally had the first snow of the season that night, and a new season of our livest started that day as well. 

Thursday, December 9, 2021

41 Weeks

I wrote almost an entire post here and somehow deleted it all. Fitting. I'm writing this 4 months after the fact and post-dating it, because such is life right now. I couldn't being myself to blog in real time by the end of pregnancy, because I really didn't expect to be pregnant on my due date, let alone beyond that. Yes, the physical discomforts were wearing on me, particularly the left round ligament pain, but I was unprepared for the mental aspects of the last few weeks of waiting. 

On Friday November 12 I was 37.1 weeks pregnant. We finished our homeschool term, I recorded my podcast interview with Kori and Fallon, Noah lost his first tooth (I cried), and the kids had their last week of preschool and co-op as we started our newborn quarantine. I slept like a rock that night, after months of 3-5am insomnia! 

At the end of that weekend, on the early morning hours of November 14 (37.3) I had time-able contractions every 10 minutes for 2 hours, but they petered out. The kids and I made baby's Birth Day cake that day, just in case. My homebirth cart was set up, the bathtub was clean, the newborn supplies were ready and waiting in the bassinet, my parents were on-call for the big kids, our maternity pictures had come back, and excitement was peaking. 

Then that Monday, at 37.4, my midwife had to back out of our contract. Not because anything was wrong, but because Nebraska is stupid (my words) and had launched another one of their campaigns to "investigate the credentials" of homebirth providers. I was devastated. I cried on and off for 24 hours straight. I knew I was excited for my homebirth, but I hadn't realized just how much I was looking forward to the experience until it was no longer an option. I had two counseling appointments and lots of tearful conversations over the next few days. I informed the doctor he was now Plan A and talked about what we could do to make the hospital as home-like as possible. I hired a doula after all. I wrote my first-ever birth plan. With a sinking heart and tears in my eyes, I moved labor and postpartum supplies from the birth cart to a hospital bag. I tried not to attach meaning or a story to the facts. For a few days, I had nary a Braxton-Hicks contraction, and I had a brief reprieve from the hip pain and swelling. I processed the heck out of things, in hopes of creating safety for my body and baby and getting things started again. I felt like I was having to turn all of this around really quickly-- I didn't realize how much I had been counting down to 38 weeks! I was in a hurry to be ready by that day, which felt incredibly rushed.

Then 38 weeks came and went. Baby did, of course, re-engage after a week or so. We celebrated "Thanksgiving" the weekend before the real holiday. I'd hoped to eat a big meal and walk that baby out. I loved the food, but the long walk just induced a good nap. So I didn't go into labor before my doctor and the doula went out of town for the long holiday weekend. I assumed things would kick in once they both got back. Advent started that Sunday, and when the dinner prayer ended with the words, "come Lord Jesus, come quickly!" We started adding, "come baby brother, come quickly!"

Again, I had to confront just how much I'd been counting on 38 weeks, as we approached 40 weeks and I continued to be shocked I hadn't gone into labor. After passing the due date, shock turned into despondency. I stopped timing my spurts of prodromal labor. I started to understand why women would say, "I thought I was going to be pregnant forever!" I knew in my head that I wouldn't, of course. But going to bed with excitement each night quickly turned into going to bed with despair and dreading another sleepless night with no baby in the morning. It was like groundhog day! 

I started to fear my body really had forgotten what to do. I started to wrestle with Rosie's birth story and my mind tried to tell me that maybe my labor with Noah was the exception, and my body failing me was the rule. All lies, of course, but it was an actual mental battle to trust that baby would be born "when the days of my pregnancy had been completed" like the Bible says in these instances. I started to fear the cascade of interventions that I'd be pressured into with each additional day I remained pregnant at my "advanced gestational age."

Meanwhile, I tried to really soak in the last days of life with my 2 big kids, the end of my last pregnancy, the kicks and wiggles, the unique relief of submerging an aching belly in the bathtub. I told baby we couldn't wait to meet him and it was safe to come out now. I oscillated wildly between contented anticipation and anxious suspense. I had to repeatedly claim hope when doubt threatened to take over. 

The weather helped a lot. We were having one of those magical sunny Novembers, so I would rest in bed during rest time, and then shoo the kids outside for the afternoon while I sat in the sun, propped up my feet, and read Labor with Hope and the latest Outlander book. 

On December 1 (39.9), I read this excerpt by Hannah Brencher in light of Advent, and it reassured me:

“I think it is far too easy to package up the story of Elizabeth and say, "See!? Elizabeth is someone who was waiting for something, and then God showed up." Yes, this is all true. But anyone who has felt the waiting period knows the feelings and longings and pain of another day unfulfilled leaves scars. It isn't something you get over instantly (or sometimes ever). It stays with you.

The waiting changes us.

It turns us into different versions of ourselves.

Even though the Bible makes it clear that waiting is an unavoidable part of life, it is still so hard to be able to say, "All of this has a purpose. All of these unfulfilled yearnings are turning me into a steadfast person." That's not something we easily utter or can tell someone else when the waiting has taken a turn for the "too long."

No matter where you are today, God sees you in the waiting. He counts every prayer. He knows what your heart yearns for and the Bible says that if you cannot specifically ask for it, God will still know your desires by the groans of your heart. That is our God.

He is a God who does not dismiss us when the waiting feels endless. He is a God who does not walk out on us or use the waiting to punish us.”

Yet I felt like I'd earned the right to try some home induction tactics by 40 weeks. My due date appointment still showed a healthy baby with good amniotic fluid levels. The day AFTER my due date, I got "induction acupuncture" which did exactly nothing. So I said, "screw it" and after weeks of staying isolated and close to home, we trekked into Omaha for a fancy dinner as a family of four. I was craving a mussels platter from Darios, and I was also trying to reverse psychologize that baby out. "Maybe if I say, you can't come tonight because I have plans, he'll actually come." Alas, labor did not start but we made some really sweet memories. The wait was wearing on all of us, and it was hard for the kids to understand, too, why the baby wasn't here yet when I'd told them he'd be here by Thanksgiving. Rosie was quite offended when baby still wasn't here by his due date, and Noah was needing reassurance that the baby would actually be here no later than 42 weeks (I was needing that reassurance, too).

At 40.4 that Monday, I felt like I was totally within reason to try some more aggressive methods of induction, especially after another round of minute-long contractions every 3-5 minutes for an hour and a half at 1am that morning. I tried pumping over the weekend and had done the Miles Circuit more times than I could count. Chiro, PT, and spinning babies were on repeat. So on December 6, I got my membranes swept. It was totally painless, which told me my body was probably close to being ready and I wasn't interfering unduly. It would either work, or it wouldn't. (I was at 3cm but only 50% effaced with baby's head at -2 station when they checked). I took a nap that afternoon and I SWEAR that when I woke up at 3:30pm, I felt a pop and a small gush of fluid. I called the doula, my doctor, my parents. We got the kids to bed after dinner, Angela came over along with Mom and Dad, and I just kept cramping. Nothing escalated. I finally told the doula to go home after all, and I went to bed really discouraged. Mom and Dad stayed the night, but nothing came of it. I still wasn't in labor by the next morning and the lie that my body had forgotten what to do was playing heavily on my mind. 

I finally went in after 24 hours of this, and while my fluid levels were lower on ultrasound, the amniotic fluid test strip was negative, SO then I just felt stupid and like I was a first time mom and not a third time mom in terms of knowing what my body was doing. It was embarrassing even though, in hindsight, it shouldn't have been. I was just SO READY to meet this long-awaited baby!

On December 8, I read this advent devotional by Hannah Brencher:

“Mary's response is faith, never fear, throughout the entire story. She arguably had every reason to freak out over the story unfolding before her, but she stood firm in her faith and scripted that faith into an anthem.

I can think of several instances in my life where I did not sing a Mary song. Instead, I rehearsed back a familiar anthem of fear to myself. Fear that God would not show up. Fear that promises would not unfold. Fear that I would take the next step only to trip and fall.

Every day, I can choose to glorify God for what he is doing, or I can script a solo story where everything weighs upon my shoulders. 

In your own story, you will often be faced with the same choice: faith or fear. Trust that God will do it or fear that it's all up to you.

…Today you can soak in the reminder that he is a God who picks you out of the crowd for a divine purpose. He makes no mistakes. He never gets it wrong. He's not playing head games with you. He does not spoil his children only to pull the rug out from underneath them.

He walks with you. He covers you. He goes before you and follows behind you. You are precious to him, and he is delighted by your "yes." And even if you live your whole life with a thick film of fear over your eyes, he won't think to love you any less.

You have a choice, though. Every single day. Faith or fear. How will you respond?” 

In spite of these good words, by 41 weeks on the 9th, I was getting really anxious I'd need to induce. The fluid levels looked good, but Dr. Sisk kept me on the monitor for quite a while at my appointment to make sure baby's heart rate was okay and he was really just napping and not stressed. While I sat in the recliner listening to his steady heartbeat, I closed my eyes and visualized going into labor that evening once the kids were asleep. I imagined changing from the outfit I was in, into my labor outfit, bouncing on my exercise ball, calling the doula, relaxing in the tub, walking to the hospital. I saw it all in my mind's eye. 

So when I had evening contractions that petered out again (1 minute long, 5-7 minutes apart after dinner for an hour), I went to bed pretty annoyed. Well, that's putting it mildly. I had some profanity-laced thoughts for God in my journal entry on "December freaking 9th" in which I insisted I was taking my OWN day of PTO tomorrow because Ross had been off all week, ever since my false alarm Monday, and nothing was happening. I vented, "I didn't want to re-start homeschool and germ exposure a measly 2-3 weeks postpartum. I wanted and planned for 5 weeks of REST after this baby was born, and this isn't (****) it. The first week was nice, the second was antsy, and this week has been ridiculous. It's been 3 weekends of meal planning and grocery lists thinking, 'surely this is the last pre-baby,' and here we are well into another (effing) month!"

I ended up falling asleep easily after getting all of that out of my system!

Monday, December 6, 2021

The In-Between

A friend sent this to me last night and it made me tear up when I read it this morning. I've been feeling this deeply but hadn't really seen it put into words anywhere. Because the internet it fickle, I'm pasting the whole thing right here so I can remember.

The article is from and it was written by a Midwife named Jana Studelska

The Last Days of Pregnancy

The last days of pregnancy are a distinct time of in-between. It's a tricky time for mothers, as these last few days are biological and psychological events.

She's curled up on the couch, waiting, a ball of baby and emotions. A scrambled pile of books on pregnancy, labor, baby names, breastfeeding, and not one more word can be absorbed. The birth supplies are loaded in a laundry basket, ready for action. The freezer is filled with meals, the car seat installed, the camera charged. It's time to hurry up and wait. Not a comfortable place to be, but wholly necessary.

The last days of pregnancy - sometimes stretching to agonizing weeks - are a distinct place, time, event, stage. It is a time of in between. Neither here nor there. Your old self and your new self, balanced on the edge of a pregnancy. One foot in your old world, one foot in a new world.

Shouldn't there be a word for this state of being, describing the time and place where mothers linger, waiting to be called forward?

Germans have a word, zwischen, which means between. I've co-opted that word for my own obstetrical uses. When I sense the discomfort and tension of late pregnancy in my clients, I suggest that they are now in The Time of Zwischen. The time of in between, where the opening begins. Giving it a name gives it dimension, an experience closer to wonder than endurance.

I tell these beautiful, round, swollen, weepy women to go with it and be okay there. Feel it, think it, don't push it away. Write it down, sing really loudly when no one else is home, go commune with nature, or crawl into your own mama's lap so she can rub your head until you feel better. I tell their men to let go of their worry; this is an early sign of labor. I encourage them to sequester themselves if they need space, to go out if they need distraction, to enjoy the last hours of this life-as-they-now-know-it. I try to give them permission to follow the instinctual gravitational pulls that are at work within them, just as real and necessary as labor.

The discomforts of late pregnancy are easy to Google: painful pelvis, squished bladder, swollen ankles, leaky nipples, weight unevenly distributed in a girth that makes scratching an itch at ankle level a feat of flexibility. "You might find yourself teary and exhausted," says one website, "but your baby is coming soon!" Cheer up, sweetie, you're having a baby. More messaging that what is going on is incidental and insignificant.

What we don't have is reverence or relevance - or even a working understanding of the vulnerability and openness a woman experiences at this time. Our language and culture fails us. This surely explains why many women find this time so complicated and tricky. But whether we recognize it or not, these last days of pregnancy are a distinct biologic and psychological event, essential to the birth of a mother.

We don't scientifically understand the complex hormones at play that loosen both her hips and her awareness. In fact, this uncomfortable time of aching is an early form of labor in which a woman begins opening her cervix and her soul. Someday, maybe we will be able to quantify this hormonal advance - the prolactin, oxytocin, cortisol, relaxin. But for now, it is still shrouded in mystery, and we know only how to measure thinning and dilation.

I believe that this is more than biological. It is spiritual. To give birth, whether at home in a birth tub with candles and family or in a surgical suite with machines and a neonatal team, a woman must go to the place between this world and the next, to that thin membrane between here and there. To the place where life comes from, to the mystery, in order to reach over to bring forth the child that is hers. The heroic tales of Odysseus are with us, each ordinary day. This round woman is not going into battle, but she is going to the edge of her being where every resource she has will be called on to assist in this journey.

We need time and space to prepare for that journey. And somewhere, deep inside us, at a primal level, our cells and hormones and mind and soul know this, and begin the work with or without our awareness.

I call out Zwischen in prenatals as a way of offering comfort and, also, as a way of offering protection. I see how simple it is to exploit and abuse this time. A scheduled induction is seductive, promising a sense of control. Fearful and confused family can trigger a crisis of confidence. We are not a culture that waits for anything, nor are we believers in normal birth; waiting for a baby can feel like insanity. Giving this a name points her toward listening and developing her own intuition. That, in turn, is a powerful training ground for motherhood.

Thursday, December 2, 2021

40. Weeks.

Welp, this is what it feels like for all my pregnant cohorts to deliver before me, to feel like the last month of pregnancy lasts forever, to feel like the baby is never going to come. I couldn't bring myself to write a 39 week update because I thought surely he'd be here the next day, then the next...

I've had a few more nights of prodromal labor that amounted to exactly nothing, though, so if I went through a lot of denial, anger, and bargaining after changing birth plans, I've gone through depression and acceptance in the past two weeks. Just today, I really felt like I was able to accept that he really is just that cozy and safe in there. Likely the warmest, securest, safest place you'll ever be, I guess. Reframing it has helped. I no longer feel like something's "wrong" and he's not going to be able to come out. He's just not in a rush and so far, that's okay. I'm not going to harshly evict him just because I'm uncomfortable. Time to practice what I preach ;-)

I went to PT yesterday and felt like baby "dropped" a lot by this morning. His AFI was 16+ and HR 143 at today's OB appointment, I measured at 38 weeks which maybe corroborates with the feeling of "dropping" and also reassures me maybe he's not ginormous yet. His head was down and flexed and ready to go! I went to acupuncture for gentle "induction" after lunch, and then to the chiropractor ("you are not STILL pregnant!"). Then we had our first outdoor playdate in ages which certainly kept me distracted, if not self-conscious about how little we've seen other people these days.

Pregnancy in the time of this stupid virus has brought a lot more stress than I anticipated, given that it seemed to be fading out when we got pregnant back in March, and this isn't my first baby. However, the world as it now presents itself and affects personal relationships has had its tremendously stressful and isolating moments, and even normal cold and flu season after Rosie's RSV scare is enough to keep me in hiding. I've been SO GRATEFUL for the sunshine and unseasonably warm weather, and the kids mostly seem to be getting along and enjoying the change of pace... for now. I'm hoping this lasts!

They're getting pretty tired of the answer to, "what's the plan for tomorrow?" simply being, "waiting for baby brother." While on the one hand, it's a wonderful illustration of Advent, on the other, it's getting fairly monotonous.

After he didn't come by Thanksgiving like we initially told the kids, we all placed bets on when he'd be born. Winner gets to pick the next place we get takeout from. Rosie was the first to place her bet, confidently saying he'd be born on his due date (today). I bet that he'd come last Saturday when my doula got back in town. I had 3 hours of contractions that night, but clearly no baby. Noah bet November 30, which came and went. Then tonight at bedtime, Rosie sadly said, "I guess baby brother forgot it was his due date!" Ross voted for Dec. 4 which was offensive at the time ("you're betting on me being uncomfortable for another week?!") but doesn't seem so far-fetched now. 

I can't believe November wasn't baby month, after all the prodromal labor, let alone the significant birthdays and milestones and memories it holds. But maybe this is part of God doing this new thing. It's all new. This baby exists because God wants him to exist, not because he fits some neat and tidy narrative, as much as my brain like that sort of thing.

Baby brother, I love that you're chill and safe and you know what you like. But also, gosh, we are so ready to snuggle with you on the outside. As fun as your copious wiggles are on the inside, we are just ready to meet you in full after 9 months of experiencing you in part!

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

38 weeks

Oh my stars. Did I just post on Instagram last week about having an experience of calm at the end of pregnancy for once? Just kidding. Let's see... last Friday I had a huge podcast interview and immediately afterwards I felt like baby wiggled around a bunch and "dropped" and I was having lots of pressure. I slept like a ROCK that night after getting home late from my homeschool book club. The best I've slept all pregnancy, I think. Saturday, I had a massage, got my breast pump (finally), ran some errands, and probably didn't hydrate enough. Saturday night, I was up for 2 hours with regular contractions every 10-12 minutes. All day Sunday I had Braxton-Hicks and tons of discomfort. 

Monday, my home birth midwife came over to tell me that she was having to cancel the rest of her contracts for the year based on circumstances that are 100% outside of my control. Insert *record scratching* in my brain. What?! 

I spent the whole afternoon alternating between shock, crying, and staring at my phone trying to talk to people and find ANY way to still make this homebirth happen. I knew I was so excited about it, but I don't think I realized how much I'd invested in it in terms of a corrective emotional experience until it was taken away at what is really the very last minute. No one's going to take a new client at 38 weeks. Even if they were willing to since I've had homebirth prenatal care and could essentially transfer my records from a reputable midwife, they're likely booked AND next week is a holiday. Those are the answers I was getting. Or else people suggesting I drive to another state to deliver in an AirBNB. Sorry, but to me that's not a HOME birth. At least not the kind I was wanting. 

I wanted to see what it was like to trust my body and be surrounded with a team I've gotten to know for 9 months who ALSO trust my body. I wanted to know what uninterrupted labor felt like in a safe environment that I was in control of. I wanted to birth in the water. I wanted to shower in my own shower and sleep in my own bed. It felt like I went from an entire pregnancy of looking forward to how completely NORMAL it felt to have the midwife come to me and to think about starting and ending labor in the comfort of my own home to being paralyzed at the thought of arriving in the hospital and experiencing the high levels of stress I had last time when the team was questioning my body and therefore I was, too. Just... no. I was devastated and it felt like all doors were closing in my face after free, easy, access to the idea of a homebirth from day one of this pregnancy. What the heck!?

It brought up lots of baggage from the last 3 years, too: Why can't anything go the way I planned? Why would something that felt so right go so wrong? Why did I get my hopes up only to be disappointed yet again?! And then, of course, fears: does this mean something bad will happen and I am going to NEED to be in the hospital? After crying all night (seriously, my eyes were swollen the entire next day) I reached out to a new set of people as well as to my counselors because I knew I needed to reframe. I talked with the OB on the phone and asked A LOT of questions about making a hospital birth more like the birth experience I'd been planning on this time. I talked with a doula acquaintance that I'd just seen last week who was actually willing to take me on this late in the game simply because she knows me. 

I also started challenging myself to reframe because I needed to get ahold of myself after being in shock for 48 hours. I realized I was partly so upset because of the loss of control and all that brings up, but also partly because the hospital has become really stressful to me between Rosie's 2 hospitalizations and working in a hostile environment during COVID with a horrible manager. I wanted to bypass the whole thing. Maybe I'll never know why I don't get to. But maybe this is an opportunity to address ALL of it and REALLY turn the page on an entirely new chapter. Not just to have a corrective emotional experience around birth and marriage, but around parenting and holding my ground and believing in myself and not really caring so much what other people think of me. I'm educated and informed and my no one cares more about my body and my baby than I do, thank you very much. So. Time will tell. 

My doula does leave town for the holiday next week, so I've been telling baby that it's safe to come any time between now and next Tuesday! What's WILD is that after the midwife came over this Monday, I felt like the baby UN-engaged from my pelvis and weeks of Braxton-Hicks contractions just STOPPED. For a full 24 hours, nothing but occasional baby kicks. Like he KNEW he couldn't come until we had a safe place for him to arrive in. Last night, I started having Braxton-Hicks again and baby has been moving a ton and re-engaging and that's all encouraging. Poor guy. I'm sure the stress hormones were a shock to his system, too.

I teared up a little as I moved things from my birth cart to the hospital bag last night. I really was the most prepared, excited homebirth mama-in-waiting you ever did see. Setting up the birth cart and envisioning the magic was SO fun. Filling the hospital bag and trying to write a birth plan that didn't sound defensive wasn't nearly as fun. But today Rosie asked about the coconut water, apple juice, and applesauce on the stairs and I told her I needed to pack it in my hospital bag so I had energy during labor. (The kids are also sad homebirth is no longer happening, especially Noah. He loves a good party.) She took it up stairs for me and said, "so baby brother has energy, too, because what you eat he eats!" We are all so ready to meet him. As fun as feeling the kicks are, seeing them will be even better.

So. Here's the little "survey" I planned to write this week before everything hit the fan! But it's still a fun recap of what I think/HOPE will be my last pregnancy update!

How far along? I'm technically writing this at 37 weeks and 6 days. Today feels big. We have a new birth plan in place with a provider, a location, and a doula. I sent my birth plan (the first one I've ever written) to the OB and spent an hour on the phone with the doula talking about my birth preferences. Our family maternity pictures arrived in my inbox! My podcast interview for Freely Rooted came out!

Weight gain: I will maybe check tomorrow morning, but as of 37 weeks it was up 26 pounds, which is basically on-par with the first two even though I'm eating way more food. I did start this pregnancy a full 20 pounds heavier, so this is by far the most weight I've ever carried and I feel it in my knees the last few weeks. But I've worked so hard to nourish my body better this time and I'm so hopeful it pays off postpartum!

Stretch marks? Shockingly, no new ones! My sweet belly is just stretching and stretching on baby's behalf.

Sleep: Meh. I'm so used to not sleeping. Let's just say I've read A LOT of novels in the middle of the night this pregnancy! At least I'm not panicked about it like I was at the beginning. I'm also pretty sore and generally have to rotate from side to side because my glutes cramp up after about 90 minutes on one side. And the left side, as always, remains the more painful one. Especially where the round ligament attaches to the pubic bone.

Best moment of the week: Maternity pics and the podcast are both like little presents today after a hard few days. So was my conversation with the doula who just made me feel a lot more at peace.

Miss anything? I so badly miss not being out of breath all the time. Being able to bend at the waist and pick stuff up off the floor will be nice again, too.  Although the last few months are teaching me these kids are big enough to be expected to do more and more of this themselves.

Movement: Lots of little kicks and wiggles as well as hiccups once or twice a day most days.

Cravings? I've actually been craving sushi (philly roll with smoked salmon) or else a pot of mussels from Dario's. Neither is easily accessible right now.

Aversions? Food is so tedious. I've mastered some of the reflux I was having with baking soda in water before bed and being vigilant with digestive enzymes with meals, but I still just have a sour stomach most of the time. Noah's fighting off a stomach bug so I'm sure that's not helping me either.

Symptoms: Of pregnancy? LOL all of them. Low-key nausea, low-key heartburn, shortness of breath, nasal congestion, fatigue, insomnia, back pain, hip pain... But also mystery, delight, anticipation, awe... it really is the best of times and the worst of times.

Signs of labor? Lots of Braxton-Hicks, occasionally some painful contractions. Definitely a sense of baby being lower. But aside from those two hours Saturday night, nothing that could actually be considered pre-labor. But... so weird... my boobs have been more sore again in the last week and I swear I smell like milk all the time now!

Belly button in or out? Oh it's been basically an outie since the end of the first trimester, if not sooner. It's allllmost in umbilical hernia territory but it's barely hanging on. Hopefully I can rehab the separation there without surgery over the course of the next year.

Happy or moody? Less anxious than I have been, which is good. Mostly just tired. It's been a wild ride. Really wanting to soak up the last few days with baby on the inside AND with Noah and Rosie. I feel like I "lost" a few days in the scramble of the changes this week.

Looking forward to: Being in labor and not constantly wondering if today is the day! MEETING THIS BABY.

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Birth Plan

 I scribbled this on a paper after thinking for a while. I have never written a birth plan out of fear of being one of "those" moms, because, "you know what happens when you come into the hospital with a birth plan..." (thanks, work). But after my second birth, I knew I needed to not just assume that everyone was on my side in terms of being in control. I wanted to communicate confidence, surety, and a sense of calm. Here's what I scribbled out and texted to my doctor:

-I was a NICU RN the first 8 years of my career and have been an IBCLC the past 6 years.

-I had low-intervention births with our now-7 and 4-year olds.

-I know how birth plans make clients look ;-) But I'd love for this experience to be as homebirth-like as possible.


low lights

water labor

lots of positioning and pushing options

labor down and no coached pushing

ice chips (chewing them helps my anxiety right now)

minimal interruptions

minimal doppler surveillance

delayed cord clamping

look a the placenta afterward


erythromycin or Hep B

no internal exams unless emergent

no routine pitocin in 3rd stage of labor unless actually hemorrhaging 

no bath in hospital for baby

UNDECIDED (ask first)

saline lock

Vitamin K