Wednesday, September 27, 2017

baby whit // a birth story.


Each birth story is unique, raw and real - teaching us about love and, ultimately, about ourselves.

When I birthed Cormac six years ago (at precisely 4:44pm on a blazing hot July day) that first night I thought nothing of writing his birth story, but spent the entire time bedridden, still with zero feeling from the waist down, catheter inserted, completely exhausted, with absolutely no idea what to do with the sweet, hungry, crying baby whose diapers my husband had to change.  I didn't write his story until months later, when I finally felt like I had processed it all, and was not in a new mama haze.

// Read that story here //

I remember after birthing Finola I sat up that entire first night (she was born at 9:12pm) grinning happily to myself, high on birth hormones, and writing out her birth story in my head as she rested peacefully in my arms.  I refused to put her down.  Everything had gone in such a way I wanted to replay it over and over in my mind.

// Read that story here //

Flash forward four years.  I'm older.  Maybe a bit wiser, but mostly older.  And much more tired.

Hubby and I finally decided, after much prayer and deliberation, to give it another whirl, leave it up to God and see what happens.  We wound up very quickly with a positive pregnancy test back in early January.  (Oh, those Christmastime conceptions!)

While I didn't blog much about it, mostly tiny blurbs on Instagram, this pregnancy was very similar to my others.  Lots of first trimester all-day nausea, a lovely second tri, and then a very uncomfortable third tri.  Weirdly, I gained the exact same about of weight each time, although this time I focused more on eating healthy, rather than hitting the gym every single day as I did with Finola. Being older I was simply more tired, more busy with the other two children, and to be honest it just got really uncomfortable doing cardio.

Even without being on the treadmill all the time I really thought this baby would come early, like Finola did.  But at my 36 week check I was only dilated 1-2cm (versus 5cm at that point with Fin!)

So I decided to stop getting cervical checks.  It is optional at my midwife practice and honestly I was feeling a bit unprepared to give birth anyway, as our nursery was basically a hollow shell at that point.

The month before my due date was spent hustling to get the nursery, and my mind, prepared for a third baby.

In that final week I thought I could go into labor at any time.  The Braxton-Hicks contractions I'd been having for quite a while got a bit more intense but nothing timeable.  Almost every night I'd wake up from them, or severe heartburn, and then go back to bed after an hour of no real action.  In truth, I dreaded going into labor during the night because I didn't want to go into the process super tired, and didn't want to stress about getting in touch with someone to come stay with the kids.

I believe I was mentally blocking this labor.

My due date of September 13th came and went.  I couldn't believe it.  Wasn't the third baby supposed to come early and basically fly out???  Kidding.  I didn't really think it would go quicker but honestly did think I would go early.

I was mentally preparing for the labor and birthing as best I could.  It was the same "plan" as last time, but this time I'd be incorporating my essential oils into the process.  Every day I diffused oils like Valor, Peace + Calming, and Release in our home - to help get my mind and body supported for the birth.  I applied Joy and Sacred Mountain to my skin and my diffuser bracelet regularly to feel grounded and happy for baby's arrival.

I had also read a couple books on hypnobirthing, although I admit I didn't wholeheartedly buy into it -- an "easy, pain-free birth."   To be clear, I think that can happen...but when you doubt something I don't think your brain is able to hurdle that doubt and block the pain.  You have to truly believe it...

...and I was more in the "This is going to hurt like hell, but I'm powerful enough to let my body do it's job" mindset.  Warrior versus zen mama.

We hired a doula again to be there as my liason with hospital staff and emotional support birthing coach.  I know most people just have their husband/partner be that...but Paul knows he is best appreciated as a silent encourager who is simply present with me.

Here is how it all officially went down - early on a Saturday morning, with the other two kids already safely in Louisville with their grandparents (phew!)

3:30am
I woke up with a contraction that was stronger than the usual Braxton-Hicks.  Knowing I was several days past due and that I could be in labor at any time, I got up immediately, noted the time, and tentatively started gathering some last minute items to put in our bags.  I had slept in the comfy tank dress I had worn the day before because I really wanting it to be my "birthing outfit" -- as opposed to a hospital gown.  As the contractions continued every ten minutes or so, I washed my face, brushed my teeth, and got ready to leave.  Something in my gut (or uterus) told me this was it.  The contractions were now about 8 minutes apart and there was noticeably more pressure.  And some bleeding, which was another good sign.

4:30am
Texted my doula to let her know about the consistent contractions, and that I planned to call my midwife soon.  I told her most likely would be heading to the hospital.  Then I woke Paul up and told him that Baby's arrival was imminent!  Called midwife office and when the midwife on duty called back she said she would meet me at the hospital.  I reminded her (as I was told to) that last time I went really quickly.  But I think that since my last check (weeks ago) was only 1-2cm no one seemed really worried.

5:00am
Texted doula that we were headed to hospital and would meet her there!

5:30am
We arrived at the hospital, which was quiet in the early morning hour.  Encountered a random person, presumably a new dad, who led us to the floor where we were supposed to check in.  I had been having pretty intense contractions since we arrived -- and was finding it hard to concentrate on his friendly and excited banter.  Paul chatted with him while I silently breathed through each surge.

When the nurses at registration heard my last check was 1-2cm (weeks ago!) they had me fill out a bunch of paperwork and then put me in triage.

Triage nurse : "Here is a gown to put on." 

Me : "Um...can I just wear this?" gesturing to my tank dress.

Triage nurse, blank-faced : "Um...I guess so."

She immediately starts to hook me up to the fetal monitor.   I interject that I don't want to be hooked up to the fetal monitor.  She says she needs to have at least 15 minutes of fetal monitoring.  I agree only when she tells me she will then take me off the monitor.  I did not want to be stuck to a machine in any way.

At this point, with the doula not having arrived yet, I am direly wishing I had brought a copy of my birth plan.  I was having some scary flashbacks to my experience laboring in the hospital with Cormac, when I felt completely alone and that none of my birth preferences were being adhered to.  I now knew I had to speak up for myself and make sure things happened the way I wanted...or at least as much as I could.

By this point the contraction intensity was about a seven and they were only about two minutes apart.  The nurse checked me and pronounced me 5-6cm dilated and 90% effaced.  Good progress but I was surprised I wasn't farther along.

I was very anxious to get to my labor/delivery room and out of triage.  All the tub rooms were occupied, but I was told I would at least have a shower.  Waiting to get unhooked from the monitor was taking what felt like a lifetime.

6:20am
Finally, when the contractions were starting to become blinding, and still no sign of my doula or midwife to check me, I was brought to my room, still hooked to monitor.  I got through a few contractions lying on the table, and then asked if I could labor in the shower.  The contractions were now about only a minute apart.  This forced the nurse to unhook me from the monitor.  I was feeling very nauseous, and the pressure "down there" was becoming so intense that I had to stumble bow-legged to the shower, legs shaking violently.  Mentally I was trying to hold it together, trying to be calm and breathe through each contraction steadily, in through my nose ABCDEFG, out through my mouth HIJKLMNOP, or something to that effect.  I knew I had to stay on top of every contraction, but was finding it very difficult.

Paul, for his part, knowing I did not want to be touched or hear his chipper words of encouragement, set about plugging in my diffuser, dropping in some Peace and Calming, and texting my doula for her status.

6:40am
My doula arrives I believe at approximately this time.  I feel a sense of relief in some ways that I finally have someone to help me through the last, most difficult waves.

In the 45-60 seconds of relief between contractions, I kept asking for my midwife.

"Where is the midwife?!?!  She needs to check me."  I knew I was close.  I felt all the things I felt when I transitioned with Finola.

Including : the sense that I could no longer deliver naturally.  I was starting to feel panicked.

"Okay, I am too old for this.  I need the epidural.  Order me the epidural now." 

Both Paul and my doula told me I could do it, I'd done it before, etc. etc.  I was hearing none of it, as I felt literally like I would die if I couldn't push the baby out soon.  The "urge to push" is what I was experiencing.  In fact, most likely I had transitioned in the shower and probably reached 10cm fifteen minutes prior.

I was then informed the midwife was on her way.  I was disappointed it wasn't one that I saw regularly.  In fact, this was the midwife I'd only seen one time throughout my pregnancy!

7:00am
Midwife gets there, I get on the table quickly to be checked, still dripping wet and naked from the shower.  She immediately exclaims happily, "You're complete!  You can start pushing!"

Music to my ears!

For the next seven minutes, I was in the zone.  Conscious of everything.

The huge light descended from the ceiling.  The room filled with people.  Women.  Paul was the only male.

The doula and a nurse held my knees up by my head as I quickly recalled how to "bear down" and push when a contraction happened.

"Here's one!" I exclaimed and did whatever I could to make that baby come on out.  Yep, I totally pooped on the table and I couldn't care less.

I screamed each time I pushed.  Not the gutteral, animal moans I did with Finola.  High-pitched shrieks.  Three of them.  In the back of my mind I silently apologized to any other laboring mamas hearing me from neighboring rooms.

7:07am
I felt the baby's head come out.  There was no stopping now - I gave another loud shriek and pushed!

The rest of baby slid out quickly.

The greatest relief.  Honest first thought : "I did it...and I'm never gonna have to do it again."  There was no sadness...just absolute certainty.

Somewhere in the chaos of the room, with Baby shrieking all kinds of new baby cries, I heard Paul announce, "It's a boy!"

I felt ambivalent about the gender.  Baby was out.  Baby was crying.  It was good.

I cried, too.  A brief, ugly cry.
this is real.  the best feeling.  

When they handed him to me and I marveled at his tiny size.  So much smaller than the other two.  Long delicate fingers and toes.   I held him close while the midwife went immediately about the business of delivering the placenta, etc.

"Whitman Paul is his name," I heard Paul say, so they could write it on the board.  But they only wrote Whitman, along with the date and time.

"Baby Whit,"  I said lovingly to him and him alone, knowing the name would be perfect for him.

The birthing hormones were surging through my body as I put him to breast not long after.  He latched as if he had been practicing every day for the past nine months.  We were off to a good start together.

Everything ended well, baby in arms, a beautiful boy.  Praise be to God.
"...and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have its richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body."  - Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

We LOVE you Baby Whit.

And because your journey began way back in January, with a completely overwhelmed mama finding out she was preggo...
...here is a look back at all of it.

Friday, September 8, 2017

ten years.

Today we've reached double-digits.
Ten years of marriage!  
We've gone from nice tans and well-chiseled abs...
To...well, sort of pasty and our abs have gone taken a leave of absence for one reason or another.
But hey - at least we still travel, right?  

We have had lots of fun, both pre-kids and with kids!
We've been blessed with two smart and lively blondies...who give us challenges, of course.  

I look forward to this eleventh year, raising one more tiny baby with you, getting through more reno projects, Cormac's first year of kindergarten and all the new things for our smart + perceptive + sensitive kid,  and Finola's mood swings and BIG joyous personality that both delight us and wear us out.

I promise that someday I'll nag you less about the renovations.  Someday you'll come home and I'll have made a more creative meal than "chicken + rice + cheese" (AKA whatever I had left since somehow we've eaten everything fresh) or "I seriously cannot cook tonight so can you please get us takeout???" 

Someday I'll have more interesting things to say, besides "Oh my gosh Finola {-did the most hilarious thing in Target today!"} or {-made me want to cry in Target today."} 

Someday we'll spend an entire Saturday binge watching TV shows again, and go on late night walks, and take super romantic vacations, and it will be so very "adult" again.

But until that 'someday,' which I know will come much quicker than either of us want it to, please know this:
Ten years later I still love you dearly.  Our life is less simple, but no less lovely.  

Ten years later you are still the only man I would ever marry.

I pray for many, many more years with you.

Happy anniversary!

(PS : Your present is this blog post...and a baby!) 

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

oils + my birth plan.

I am kinda stunned to be typing that I am officially 39 weeks.  It's about to get real, ya'll!

This is my third time around, and is is my very first official oily birth plan. 

Had I heard that term a few years ago I would have been like, "Welp, that sounds gross."

However,  I've learned that essential oils can truly support you physically and mentally before, during, and after childbirth. 

With Finola my doula brought oils to warm so that my midwife could soften the perineum and prevent tearing or the need for an episiotomy.  That was amazing in that my recovery time was MUCH shorter not having to heal from that!  At that point that was my only experience with essential oils, but it was a positive one.
Since becoming a part of Young Living and researching oils and birthing I know that this time I want to incorporate a few other oils into the process. So here it is, my...
Release - to diffuse in the days leading up to my due date -- or as soon as I start having official signs of labor.  This has a beautiful scent and promotes the release of negative emotions.  I really want to go into things with a positive mindset so that the experience is the best it can be for both me and babe.
Peppermint - for nausea support, something that I experienced last time when I neared the transition stage.
Valor - I have a roller blend which consists of several oils, but mainly Valor, which I call 'brave mama' that I use regularly.  I plan to roll on shoulders during the birthing process to promote empowerment and confidence!  I've also recently been putting drops on my lava stone diffuser bracelet to boost my bravery for this birth.
Peace + Calming - to diffuse in the birthing room, for obvious reasons.
Frankincense - to anoint the baby after birth.  Perhaps more of a symbolic, romantic thing...but I love the idea of this so my Frank will be ready.  Plus, it is such a lovely grounding oil. Also can be used in direct application to perineal area during birth.  Frank is a wonderful skin support oil!

Other oils in 'My Bag' :
Panaway roller - comes in starter kit and I basically always have a roller ball fitment on it!   This one is good for aching muscles! Also to roll on temples/back of neck for headaches!
Thieves roller  - for general wellness support - can't go a day without this one!
Rose Ointment - for lips, décolletage, any other dry/chapped skin issues.
Fennel - to support a healthy milk supply
Gentle Baby - to wear and diffuse once babe has arrived.  The most beautiful scent!

So those are the oils what I will have on-hand for myself and my birth support team at the hospital (hubby, doula, midwife, and nurses.) I have already made sure this is all going to be acceptable.  I'm not sure all traditional obstetricians would be cool with all the oily goodness, so if you desire an oily birth make sure to talk in-depth with your doc/midwife WAY ahead of time (like, as soon as you know you are preggo) about their views and what may or may not be allowed in the birthing room. (It may inspire you to choose a different doc/venue!)

I also make sure that eating/drinking will be allowed if need be during my labor process.  While I want to labor at home for as long as possible, I also know that "stuff happens" and if I have to spend a lot of time in the labor/delivery room I might need sustenance.  Not all hospitals are cool with that, especially if you think you might opt for an epidural.  So again, ask ahead of time.

A few books I've read + found helpful:

As with all plans, it could change at the last minute!  I've learned to expect the unexpected with birthing babies.  But, it is nice to have a some sort of plan you desire written out and discussed with your birth support team in advance, so everyone is on the same page with your desires, whatever they may be.

Have you used oils during pregnancy + birthing?  If so, what else would you recommend?

Monday, August 21, 2017

nursery inspirations for a third babe.

I have only four weeks until my due date...which is pretty crazy.  Even crazier is the fact, as of writing this, our nursery for Baby Three is no where near being done.   Eek!

Eventually it will get finished, I know.  Even if baby has to sleep in a pack-n-play for a few weeks (not ideal, but we would survive.)

Here is what I am dreaming of for this babe's nursery....
source : @paigejonesphoto (instagram) 
I love the white walls, and minimal decor in this inspiration pic.  Our nursery is tiny, so bright, white and simple is ideal!  Baby's new nursery is our former 'master bath' - so it is conveniently located next to our room for night feedings.  However, the furnishings will have to be different than our former two nurseries (see Cormac's in this post and Finola's in this one) due to the size.  Um, and my style!

My style has completely changed in the past six years!  What you'll see in this nursery is more of a minimalist,  boho-style, rather than traditional.   We are selling our white sleigh crib and instead using the very simple IKEA Sniglar crib (in the picture above) which we bought four years ago after second-guessing Cormac's big boy bed after Finola was born.  I am glad it will get some additional use!

I can no longer fit my HUGE IKEA white chair + ottoman in the baby space, so we will most likely be seeking other, smaller options for my nursing chair.
source : domino
Other items we already have for the room :  the existing changing table dresser (kinda huge, but with three spacious drawers will serve as basically ALL of baby's storage - as there is no closet in this room.)   Also, I have a piece of art that I for sure want to hang over the crib, as well as a new light fixture that I am in love with!
source: project nursery
Other desires...
+ Plants!  A fiddle leaf fig in a cute basket would be ideal.  And various hanging in front of the window in some white macrame hangers.

+ A bold rug!  The walls will be white, so I'd love some big personality on the floor.
source : project nursery

Here is what we started out with...
Baby's room six years ago...a little drab and dark!  Um, and a bathroom.
Since this pic all the bathroom fixtures are gone, and we have painted the walls bright white and installed new wide-plank flooring.  Still so much to do, but so exciting to start completely over, with a fresh space.

I'll be sure to post some before + afters when all is complete!

Happy Monday! 

Monday, July 17, 2017

six years.

his first selfie.
The thirteenth marked six years since Cormac was born, and I became a mama.

As I reflect on his birth and motherhood, I realize how much both of these things changed me so much as a person...and I thank God for that.  I often refer to Cormac as my "lifesaver baby" as, while I won't go into specific reasons, his arrival in the womb has always represented grace for me.  Grace that God gave me to forgive myself and to move forward and make changes in my life.  I don't believe having a baby is a "fix all" for anything, but having this baby certainly changed me for the better.
golden hour.

Cormac is smart (sometimes smarter than me), logical, joyful, analytical, highly sensitive to stimulus, thoughtful, and perceptive.

Lately he is obsessed with math and Legos and Power Rangers.

He is learning chess from Daddy and seems to love the strategy of it all. {insert blank-face emoji from me}

He likes time to himself more now, or time one-on-one with me or Hubby.  While he loves time with friends (it has been so fun to see actual friendships blossom in the last year!) he seems to take after me in that large groups and over-stimulating atmospheres are not his jam and can stress him out. Totally get it, dude.

He is literally my biggest fan when it comes to essential oils and being supportive of my business venture in that.  He asks me questions daily, always want to help me practice teaching, smells the oils and has me guess which one it is, and -- the best part -- tells me how he prays for my business. What?!?!?  Yes, he seriously tells me that.  Since I know how God values the prayers of little children, I feel like this is the most precious thing my son could do for me.
The past year has contained some awesome milestones for little Mac...
  • He learned the fine art of sarcasm.
  • Overcame extreme fear of water and getting water in his eyes.  Now swims like a fish!
  • Figured out how to tell a (funny) joke.  Like, actually having a punchline.  "Was that funny, Mom?  I made it up."  
  • Proficient at 3rd grade level math. Okay, well, at least he can do reasoning and computation that I didn't remember doing until 3rd grade.  (Learned mostly from dad.) 
  • Can read and sound out words. (Does not initiate reading books by himself, though.)
  • Can articulate that he is overstimulated and needs personal space.  (Learned mostly from mom.)
I'll close this birthday post with a slideshow.  (I know these are out-of-fashion but my kids LOVE them.)  I put some of our favorite pics from past year to Cormac's favorite song of the moment.


I'm glad you are so happy, Mac!  You make me happy to be a mama.  

Thursday, July 6, 2017

roomie reunion : savannah, ga!

I am very fortunate that nearly every year for the past six years I have been able to spend a long weekend with two of my best friends from my college years.  
No, we weren't sorority sisters.
(None of us were the sorority type.)

We didn't even ever attend the same college.

We were randomly placed together 
God-appointed into each others lives
for so many reasons, I believe!

Anyway, our friendships have survived over the years, I have shared our adventures here on this blog. Here is yet another...

Savannah, Georgia!

With me in my 3rd trimester of pregnancy, this was one of our tamest girlfriend trips yet...
and I think we were all kind of fine with that.

No "crazy first night" this time, I didn't harass any celebrities, and no one got kicked out of any pools.  The only tears were only briefly shed mid-day by the least expected one of us all.
I'm proud of us, ladies!  (No promises next year, though.) 

I found Savannah to be dreamy, low-key, laid-back.  So, so Southern and charming.

We rented the CUTEST cottage on Tybee Island, only a tiny walk from the beach.   We made some homemade meals, sipped some handmade cocktails and mocktails, relaxed on the beach for a day,  spent another day exploring the city by on-and-off trolley, and even did a pizza + movie night.
my sweet friends shared this adorable room...so the preggo lady could have the big bed.  LOVE YOU GUYS!
homemade guacamole and fish tacos.
spanish moss covered the trees of Savannah.
I'm sorry.  I could not keep a straight face pretending to be Forrest, Forrest Gump.  (The bench scene was filmed at one of the parks.)
Someone had the bright idea to put a pregnant lady in a tree. 😳 It took both my sweet friends to hoist me up here.
Due to my recent read of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, I was a COMPLETE geek over the Mercer Williams house.  We took the tour and I loooooved it! 
I couldn't partake in the wine-drinking this year, but Beth bought this bottle for the appropriate label. 
our little rental.  
I adored that our address was Cedarwood - one of my favorite oils!!!!!!!
this made me want to paint every wall in my house white.  
My bedroom. So perfect.  I want to come back to this sweet, artsy cottage with my little fam!
Could she be any prettier?
views on Tybee.
My virgin pina colada. 

Me and my beach bump.
more shots of our rental...just 'cause I thought it was so adorable.

If I love you I make you guacamole.
Whose is real?  
Yummy watermelon 'cocktails + mocktails' on our sun porch.  Hmmm...bar franchise idea?
some adorable succulents at our brunch stop.
There were literally posted warnings about the dangers of these historic steps.  #yolo 
Forsyth Park!
open-air trolley we rode around all day, hopping on and off.
In the beautiful Bonaventure Cemetery on our last day.
a farewell airport selfie. 
I loved that we got a little beach/totally chill relaxing time, 
as well as some city sight-seeing.

Perfect combo and, as always, great company.

Who knows where this next year will take us all, but I love that we continue to take these trips and make memories all over the country.

(Next up, the world?) 

Our 40th birthdays are happening in just a few year...
Let's do it right, ladies!!!! 😉 

+ + + + + + +

Reader, I hope you never stop adventuring with your best friends.