Monday, December 16, 2013

Ridley Is Here!

As I type this, 4 ½-day-old Ridley is sleeping peacefully in my lap. We are ecstatic, in love, and so grateful to have him here! Big sister Norah is doing incredibly well and loves to help with everything, including diaper changes and comforting him when he cries. She says he is her baby! She loves him so much -- she’s been talking about him for months, and finally he is here. A real, actual person who will forever be her little brother. Wow. What an amazing time this is for us!

Now that it’s been a few days and I finally have a moment where both kids are content, I thought I would write Ridley’s birth story. I did the same for Norah and I like to look back at it every so often, just to remember the experience.

A few weeks ago, my midwife estimated that the baby was probably around 8 lbs. I had been working so hard the whole pregnancy to avoid having a big baby -- eating no refined carbs or sugars, and just eating healthier foods in general. But apparently, it didn’t work. So I just started hoping he would come soon and not get too much bigger!

My due date, December 7th, came and went. On the morning of the 8th I started having contractions every 10 minutes or so, but they weren’t very painful and weren’t getting any closer together, so I mostly ignored them. They continued all day, though, so in the evening I finally decided to let my midwife, Amy, know what was happening. She told me to rest as much as possible in case things started picking up. She also said a chiropractic adjustment may help start labor if things hadn’t changed by morning.

We had already taken a nap late in the afternoon, so we ended up staying up until around 12:15, and then I read the “40 Weeks” and “Labor and Delivery” sections of my two pregnancy books before settling in around 12:50 or 12:55...which is exactly when I got my first big contraction.

I knew immediately that this was it. I had two or three strong contractions just a few minutes apart before we started calling people. Travis’s mom would be here in 20 or 30 minutes to stay with Norah, and Amy and our doula, Laura, would meet us at the birth center. In the mean time, we rushed around getting stuff together. Mostly Travis rushed while I directed him like any good wife would do. :-) I was busy trying to find a position I could tolerate during contractions. Leaning over things was the most comfortable at that stage. Sitting was also good because it eased my lower back pain a bit.

Faye arrived just as we were about to get in the car. She wished us well as I leaned over the trunk of the car breathing through a contraction, and then we were off.

Travis slowed way down during each contraction to make the ride more bearable for me.

I am referring to my midwife’s online notes for some specific times, etc.:

“1:58 AM: Arrival at Labors of Love Birth Center”

When we got out of the car I realized I could hardly walk and could NOT stand up straight. The pain in my belly was making me hunch over. As soon as we arrived, Amy checked my dilation: 8 centimeters already!!!

“2:10 AM: Mother got in tub as soon as vitals were checked.

               Membranes are intact.

               Second midwife called.

               Frequency and duration [of contractions] are all over the place from 1.5 to 4.3 minutes apart and lasting anywhere from 39 seconds to 90 seconds.  This is similar to her labor pattern with the last baby.”

I was feeling more back pain than I had during Norah’s labor, which we sort of expected since Ridley was in a posterior position. Overall, though, the pain seemed more manageable this time (thank goodness!), and the tub helped somewhat. I also was able to completely relax in between contractions. (During Norah’s birth I remember experiencing some amount of pain constantly, even between contractions.) I just laid there for a while on my left side, thinking that may encourage him to move to a better birth position.

During contractions, it helped to vocalize. I would “ah,” and as the intensity increased, my pitch got higher and my volume louder. Amy reminded me to try to keep the tone low to help myself relax enough to dilate. Once, at the end of a contraction, I joked, “Just remember, I’m a soprano!” I was staying mostly positive and was optimistic that the pain would be over soon and we would have our baby.

A few times, Amy suggested doing a “rotation,” where I would do a few contractions on one side, a few on all fours, a few on the other side, etc. It wasn’t comfortable to move around a lot, but I did spend some time on all fours.

Things are a bit of a blur to me, but I know that Travis was with me constantly, encouraging me and holding my hand. Just like my labor with Norah, he tried doing things to help make me more comfortable. I even asked him to try pushing on my lower back. But when I was in the middle of a contraction I couldn’t stand to be touched. His words and presence helped me the most.

“2:39 AM: Reports a slight urge to push with some of the contractions. Not strong or with every contraction yet.”

I remember feeling an uncontrollable urge to push when I had Norah. This time that feeling came on more gradually. It felt like things were taking forever. I couldn’t wait to get to the pushing stage because I remembered that pushing made the contractions hurt less.

“3:07 AM: Reports that pressure and slight urge to push come and go.  Recommend changing positions every couple of contractions.”

I didn’t take the recommendation at that point.

3:25 AM: Rupture of membranes. (Water broke!)

3:27 AM: “Spontaneous pushing.”

I tried to figure out what position I wanted to be in to push, and ended up sitting at the end of the tub, which is what I did for Norah’s birth. (I think it’s so cool that Norah and Ridley were both born in the very same birthing tub!)

I think it was around this time that I asked if we should warm up the bath water again, but the midwives were sure that Ridley would be born any minute and it wasn’t necessary.

3:36 AM: Amy checked to see if I might still have a “lip” of cervix still in the way. I did have an anterior lip, just like I did with Norah. I tried getting on all fours again to see if that would help.

I labored a little longer and still had the anterior lip, so Amy helped guide it over Ridley’s head as I pushed. They had also done this when Norah was born. (Sorry to keep comparing.) At 3:56, Amy reported that I was fully dilated, and “continuous pushing” began.

Things were starting to go slower than we all expected, and at some point the midwives did decide to warm up the water for the birth. I was ready to be done and have the baby in my arms. I kept asking what was taking so long, as if anyone would be able to give me an answer. They were encouraging me by telling me he was moving down, slowly but surely, and instructing me to try curving around him so he would have nowhere to go but out. I tried. I didn't have any trouble putting chin to chest, but bringing my legs up to my stomach was really painful. Contractions were very intense at this point and I couldn’t stand to be touched. I think I yelled at Amy a few times. :-/ She was trying to give me a target to push toward.

“4:21 AM: Head visible.

4:22 AM: Crown.”

This part was insane for me.

When Norah was born I felt like I had control over my pushing, and I could stop and allow time for stretching when it got too painful.

This time, all of a sudden my body kicked into high gear and MADE me push his head out much faster than I wanted to. When I resisted, I couldn’t breathe, but when I went with it the pain was unbearable. This was the only time I really screamed. I remember saying, “I can’t stop pushing but it hurts SO MUCH!”

But it didn’t last long before his head was out, and I was almost done. It would only take one more contraction and he would be out.

Well, the next contraction came, and I pushed, and he stayed put. Things got scary when they decided to flip me over onto all fours. I have done enough research to know that this means the shoulders are stuck. Being on all fours opens up the pelvis to allow more room for the shoulders to pass through.

I remember Linda (the other midwife) saying, “Three minutes.” Three minutes since his head was born. I was pushing as hard as I could, and they were instructing me to push even when I wasn’t having a contraction. They were tugging on Ridley, reaching in to grab a shoulder and pulling on his head. I remember Amy saying she couldn’t tell which shoulder was trying to come out first. Travis and I were both terrified, and I couldn’t see what was going on. Travis had to watch.

Finally, at 4:25, our little boy emerged. I heard Amy say, “Come on, baby,” as she stimulated him. She reported that he was born with poor muscle tone (limp), but improved quickly. Travis says he was also purple. I stayed put for a few seconds, not wanting to see if something was wrong with him. When I was sure everything was okay, I finally turned around. I had to maneuver over the cord, which was very short.

They placed Ridley on my chest briefly, but three minutes after the birth they clamped it and had Travis cut it. I’m still not entirely clear on why this had to be done so quickly. Normally they will wait much longer. It had something to do with the cord being so short. They said it stopped pulsing quickly and they knew the placenta had detached already. I guess they did tell me afterward that once they knew it was detached, they wanted to get it out quickly so they could make sure I wasn’t bleeding profusely behind it. (There was no reason to think I would be, but they needed to check.)

Anyway, once the cord was cut, the midwives gave Ridley to Travis so they could help me get up and out of the tub. As they helped me onto the bed, I became concerned by their urgency and asked them if I was okay. They said yes and gave me some explanation that I don’t remember. They were wanting me to get the placenta out quickly, and at the time I didn’t know why. I was having a hard time with it even though it should have been a piece of cake in comparison to a 9 lb. 1 oz. baby.

Once it was out and they were satisfied that everything was normal, I was finally able to focus on getting to know my baby! Travis had been lying on the bed next to me the whole time, holding Ridley so that I could see him, but I wasn’t able to focus on him while I was receiving constant instructions.

We marveled over our dark haired baby boy, completely covered in sticky vernix from head to toe. I confirmed that, yes, he was a boy (no one had said it and that was the first chance I had to check!), and we just took it all in, including his delicious newborn baby smell. I was able to nurse him -- he latched right on! That was amazing to me because I had had so much trouble nursing Norah. He nursed for quite a while before I finally unlatched him because it was giving me such painful cramps.

Then Linda came to do the newborn exam, and of course we were curious to know how big he was: 9 lbs. 1 oz., 22 inches long, and a 14.5 inch head! (Amy told me the biggest head they’ve seen was 15 inches -- it broke the mother’s tailbone!!)

After the midwives had a chance to assess things, they were able to explain one aspect of the birth that was puzzling. Amy said that Ridley’s shoulders were not actually stuck. We could not have known this before the birth, but afterward it was discovered that because of Ridley’s size and my petite stature, my stomach muscles had separated beyond what is normal. Linda said that there were about “6 finger widths” of separation vertically down the middle of my stomach, and they think that as a result of that, once his head was out and he was down lower, I just did not have the physical capacity to push him out. The muscles weren't where they needed to be. That was evidently the trouble with getting the placenta out as well.

I am just relieved to have Ridley here, and glad that we weren't planning to have more children in the future, because I would be afraid we would have the same situation again. I’m just not built for big babies!

At least I (somehow!) avoided stitches this time! I only had a small tear, and now, at one week postpartum, I am feeling almost back to normal!

We are all doing wonderfully and enjoying our time together while Travis is on break for a few more weeks! And just today, interacting with both of our children, a blissful feeling of completeness swept over me. The last piece of our family puzzle is firmly in place now, and I can’t wait for all the new experiences to come. But for now I’m more than content to snuggle my sweet baby boy as my little girl -- big girl! -- consistently blows my mind with her understanding of the world.

This is all I could ever want.

Bonus photos:

Ready to go home!

Norah Meeting Ridley

Saturday, November 16, 2013

37 WEEKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

WOW! This pregnancy has FLOWN. I can’t even express how fast it has gone by.

I have just been so busy this time! With Norah, I was teaching fewer lessons, not raising a toddler, not spending so much time cooking homemade food (which has been a huge focus of mine lately), etc. etc.

So, very little time for sitting around learning all about parenting and birthing and breastfeeding and fetal development, not to mention blogging. Sorry. Poor Ridley. But he’ll get PLENTY of attention once he’s born. :-)

I’m going to try to do a succinct update, but this is probably going to end up being a pretty long post.

I don’t even know where to begin.

House: Not selling yet. Things keep happening where we think we can afford to sell it (doesn’t that sound so backwards?) and then we realize we can’t quite do it. We have to put in new flooring first, because that will be much cheaper than offering a flooring allowance.

FlyLady/decluttering: Took 10 steps forward and 5 steps back. Tried to have a yard sale, ended up with a ton of stuff that didn’t sell, didn’t know what to do with it, brought it back in the house. Been trying to sell, took some to Goodwill and some to consignment. But selling online is a big hassle...I just can’t bear to give good stuff away when we so could use the money. I am desperate to get everything super clean before Ridley arrives.

Nutrition: Doing awesome! We have been sticking pretty well to a “real food,” almost Paleo type diet. It has been easier than we thought to give up wheat, sugar, and processed foods. And I just feel so good about nourishing my family with healthy food. Of course, we still occasionally have those days when I forget to plan dinner, or I’m lazy about it, or we’re out and about or visiting someone, and we eat Chinese or Pizza or meat that isn’t grass fed and organic…. but overall we’re doing really well.

Pregnancy: I’ve had some minor discomforts, but nothing too bad! Tons of Braxton Hicks lately, which I think was the case with Norah at this stage also. Belly is measuring right on target, and Ridley is supposedly about average in size, though that’s just an educated guess on the part of my midwife. I definitely think my belly is smaller than it was at the end of my first pregnancy, which is hopefully a sign that he will be smaller than Norah was. He is head down and has been for the last 10 weeks or more, but he is in a posterior position, with his back facing my back (or at least he was at my last appointment). So I am supposed to do literally hundreds of pelvic rocks (on hands and knees) a day, and also 300 squats, a whole bunch of kegels, tailor sitting (good posture) as much as possible, blah blah blah...I don’t think I’ll quite get up to as many as I’m supposed to do, but I’m working on it. The pelvic rocks especially should help him get into the right position. If he stays the way he is, it will make for a longer labor and a more difficult delivery. We don’t want that. I also may go back to the chiropractor and see if he can do anything to help. Midwife mentioned that idea.

Thoughts, feelings, etc.: I had a few weeks recently where I just felt run down all the time and wasn’t accomplishing anything. I’m so glad I mentioned that to my midwife and got on some extra supplements. They really helped and I’m feeling much more lively and happier as a result. I’m getting really excited, but glad to (hopefully!) have a few more weeks to prepare. Nothing is ready. Also glad to have more time to get him in the right position, and to wrap my mind around having to go through labor again. I’m scared sometimes. Other times I feel fine about it. I feel like I should be practicing some meditation techniques or something. With Norah the entire thing was so ridiculously intense and fast that there was no way I could relax through contractions as I was supposed to, or try different positions, or stop screaming. I just need better coping skills I guess. At least I’ll have a doula this time. The thought that helps me the most is that no matter what, it’s not me, but my body that will deliver the baby all by itself. There isn’t much I have to do other than let it happen. So, like last time, I’ll get through it knowing that the pain is necessary for the end result. And it is so worth it.

Nursery: Nonexistent, and we’re fine with that for now. Norah’s nursery was a place to keep her things. She didn’t sleep there much until she was several months old. So Ridley’s things will go in Norah’s room with Norah’s things. I’ve made some room.

Norah, the big sister to be: Doing awesome! Where do I even begin? Perhaps with some cute photos of her playing outside and throwing leaves:

She’s doing so great with potty training and we try to only put diapers on her at night. That was a major goal I wanted to accomplish before Ridley comes. We’re still working on it, but she understands and usually cooperates.

She is talking amazingly well for her age, as always. But just in the last few weeks I have had the realization that I am having full blown conversations with this child! She also has begun to correct her own pronunciations. She has especially worked on her “L” sound, which started with the word “stroller.”

Bed time is much easier than it has been in the past. She is usually cooperative with brushing her teeth (she even asks to do it sometimes) and getting ready to read a few books, then will lie down with her blankie. Sometimes she wants me or Travis to stay with her for a few minutes, sometimes she’s ok with us leaving the room right away, and rarely she puts up a fight and wants us to sleep with her or wants to sleep in our bed. She does usually wake up at some point and get in our bed, which concerns me a bit since we’ll have a newborn in our bed soon too. I’m really not sure how we’re going to handle that.

She has a big heart and can’t stand for anyone to be hurt or upset...she is very concerned even for characters on tv if something happens to them or someone takes their toy, etc. If a baby is crying, she just can’t take it. She keeps saying, “Don’t cry!”

She is going to be an amazing big sister. She has been asking Ridley to come out for months. :-) Lately, she keeps thinking of things she wants to do with him and for him, and she insists that he won’t cry! She wants to use a washcloth to give him a bath, show him her toys, give him a pacifier, feed him a bottle (though I keep telling her he’s going to drink Mommy’s milk…). I know she will do anything to make sure he never cries. :-)

My goodness, I think I’ve about covered everything! I only have one more week of teaching(!!!), and then my due date is December 7th. Hopefully by then things will be all ready! With Norah, I had decided that she would probably be born on May 19th (4 days past the due date), and she was! So this time I have chosen December 5th. Just a tad early this time would be nice, I think. :-) We’ll see if it works again!!! I hope to update again soon. Until then…!

Monday, August 19, 2013

24 Weeks

(I look so much bigger in these pictures than I feel!!!)

Yesterday I realized that we only have about 3 ½ months left until we get to meet this baby boy!! Wow. This is FLYING by. I hope we’re ready! For now, I love feeling him moving around all the time. (And I do mean ALL the time!) Norah even got to feel him the other day!

Next week I’ll update on our ultrasound, which is this Thursday (can’t wait!), and on house stuff. It is taking us longer than I had hoped to actually get our house on the market, but I’m sure by next week it will be. It just keeps raining! (We want to take our pictures when it’s not so gloomy and when we have a chance to mow the lawn.)

I’d like to use this blog post to talk about: food.

Food has been entering my awareness more and more in the past couple of years as I keep running across informative studies, articles, documentaries, etc. At first, I was shocked every time I read that certain foods I considered healthy may contain harmful and disease causing substances. After a while, it became overwhelming to even remember which foods are safe and which are not.

So, here’s how I simplify it.

What is food?

Unprocessed Meat, poultry, fish...
Dairy products made through natural processes
Other animal products such as honey and eggs
Things that come from plants (fruits, veggies, herbs, seeds, nuts, oats…)

Can you think of anything else that is food? I can’t. But if asked to name the products they eat on a daily basis, most people would have a much longer list.

So, what ISN’T food?

Man made chemicals.

Plain and simple. If you buy pre-made packaged anything, it very likely contains chemicals, which are NOT FOOD, and which are TOXIC. Eating chemicals causes disease and just an all around state of poor health. Obviously, chemicals are especially harmful to children (and unborn children), who are still growing and developing.

If you are buying packaged food, you can read the label and see exactly what’s in it.

But chemicals are hiding in other foods too.

Animals exposed to hormones or antibiotics will have those substances in their meat, milk, and eggs.

Produce is grown with pesticides, which are toxic. I have even read, but not confirmed, that organic foods aren’t much better, because farmers almost always use some form of pesticide, even if it’s a “natural” one (which are also harmful to us), or they may just use LESS chemical pesticide and still be considered organic!

Genetically modified foods are everywhere as well, and they have not been proven to be safe for consumption. In fact:

“The organs of rats who ate genetically modified potatoes showed signs of chronic wasting, and female rats fed a diet of herbicide-resistant soybeans gave birth to stunted and sterile pups.”


“GMOs require massive amounts of pesticides, herbicides and fungicides.” 


There is also one category of...uh...things we eat, that I do consider food, but not good for you. Actually, I would call it a “filler.” 


“Gluten containing grains like wheat, barley and rye require special attention because they can be particularly damaging to your health. All grains, including other non-gluten containing grains like oats and corn, are bad because they contain gut irritating lectins and mineral binding phytates.”

“When it comes to things that we, humans, are not adapted to eat and digest, wheat and its gluten protein is probably at the top of the list. It’s very sad that wheat is so omnipresent in our society though and many health conditions would probably not even exist if it were not for our high consumption of wheat.”

Come to think of it, I would put sugar in a similar category. It’s natural (so, better than artificial sweeteners), but not in any way good for you.

Now, on to application. Now that I know what to avoid, there is an AWFULLY long “Do Not Eat” list!!

So far, I’m improving, but FAR from perfect. I am still at the point where I make many exceptions, because sometimes my desire for a certain food, or the convenience of it, outweighs my concern.

I am:

  • Drinking raw milk (no antibiotics or hormones, more nutrients)
  • Buying only local eggs from free range chickens, though I still need to incorporate more eggs in my diet
  • Buying as much local organic produce as possible, even if there’s still a possibility of the presence of pesticides
  • Eating maybe 50% fewer grain products, and also around 50% less sugar (when I do eat wheat products, I try to at least make it whole wheat/whole grain)
  • Almost entirely avoiding everything processed/ pre-made
  • Completely avoiding fast food, but if I have to (like, on road trips) I try to find something I know won’t be too processed, like a salad
  • Almost entirely avoiding eating out, mostly to save money. But a perk is knowing where my food comes from and what’s in it.
  • Eating MORE veggies...because when you cut out all the junk, you have more room in your tummy for nutrient rich foods! I like to make smoothies with fruit, plain Greek yogurt, and spinach (which I can't taste in a smoothie). I add honey if it isn't sweet enough. I do like the taste of most veggies, but it's an easy way to get some extra greens.

I try to stick to this with Norah, too. The hard thing is that she has already been exposed to some junk foods, and of course, she likes them! Juice (which has lots of sugar!) and crackers seem harmless enough, but I’d rather have her stick to whole foods.

The great thing is that when I combine healthful eating with a moderate amount of exercise (I don’t consider myself very active, outside of doing what needs to be done around the house), I have noticed a difference in my energy level, which has always been on the low side.

There is a  reason I chose now to start working on this. I want to be as healthy as I can be while I am pregnant. I didn’t know all of this (I did know some) when I was pregnant with Norah. I was told back then that wheat products, especially white carbs, would cause the baby to put on extra weight. I cut back a little, but not as much as I could have, and Norah was 8 pounds 4.5 ounces at birth. She wasn’t huge, but she definitely was chubby, and it didn’t bode well for my recovery.  My midwife told me at the time that if I had torn any worse, I would have been going to the operating room. I want to do everything in my power to have a healthy baby, AND a healthy me!

I’m heading in the right direction, anyway. :-)

Now for some photos:

Norah wanted a "cozy spot" in her closet at nap time one day. :-)

We did manage to take a couple pictures for our house listing today:

The bedroom is not perfect, but we're still working to declutter, and I am really proud of the work we've done so far. I'm even more proud to say that except for the rugs and a few personal items I removed for the photo, this is an accurate representation of what our bathroom has looked like for the past couple of months, since I started getting serious with the Fly Lady stuff. :-)

Like I said, more on house stuff next week! Stay tuned!