Nurse A Baby All Day Strong!

Nurse A Baby All Day Strong

“I’m not telling you its going to be easy

I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it”

-Art Williams

“Breastfeeding is a Mother’s gift to herself,

her baby and the earth.”

-Pamela K. Wiggins

Hello Friends,

Happy fall! Today I am inspired to talk about my nearly six year journey with nursing. As for you who don’t know me, I have three small children whom I have continuously nursed through infancy, to toddlerhood, through pregnancy and tandem nursed four of those years. If you are not familiar with the term Tandem nursing or breastfeeding (I perfer the term nursing, it is close to my heart) this is not an easy commitment in the slightest. A little information to share is, tandem nursing is when a mother is nursing an older child when her baby is born. She continues to nurse her older child and her newborn at the same time. Just think of a tandem bicycle, it is a two for one : ). Another interesting fact is this term tandem nursing is not used when a mother is nursing twins or higher multiple babies.

I can remember when nursing would engulf thirty to forty percent of my days. From one baby to the next, I am so luck I had and still have these amazing daily experiences. All of time has enabled me to create solid bonds with my babies. My five year old still likes to have her “bobo snuggles.” It is her comfort, she falls fast and sound asleep as do I most nights.

Nursing is one of the most selfless tasks we can do for our children. It is also one of the most fulfilling memories and current everyday life event I have been so blessed to endure. I have always been so lucky. I have had from the start of my nursing career an over abuntant supply of breast milk.

There was one point in my life when my son James was ten months old and I was nursing him on demand on an average of four to six times a day. I had a distant friend, whom I heard had her twins premature at thirty three weeks. Her brother a client of mine, was sharing her story about the babies that they were in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit). I felt the urge to help her. I was so saddened by the story. I have slightly been in her shoes with my first nephew being born at thirty five weeks, my mind and body was compelled to reach out to her.

So what did I do next? I was compelled to offer my breast milk to her, I am not sure how I even went about offering this to her. Hearing how tiny and sick her babies were in combination with her brother saying something about her using the hospital’s donor milk until they were strong enough to go home. His sister a fellow mother and a distant friend was exhausted mentally and physically. I felt this deep need to help her and help her tiny babies. Her boys were home from the hospital, they were almost six weeks old, we got in contact. I started pumping for those babies two times a day, as well as nursing James on demand. My body knew it needed to help, my milk began flowing so healthily.

We would randomly text back and fourth, she would send me pictures of her tiny twin babies. I would look at the pictures and feel this maternal need to help them with the milk their mommy was struggling to produce. Here I was with this over abundant supply of breast milk, why wouldn’t I help her?  I progressed to pumping anywhere between three to five times a day for this sweet friend. On an average good day I would pump eight ounces and on an excellent day I would produce upwards to thirteen ounces. Her husband would come to my house and pick up the milk and give me little bits of info on his boy’s health and growth, he would share more pictures of his sweet boys.

I proceeded to pump until I felt my friend was strong enough to go solo. I progressed to pump for their babies for three months. I also got slightly burnt out, knowing my friends babies were healthy enough put my mind at ease to stop.

I then continued to nurse James, until I  was pregnant with my third child. I continued nursing through my entire pregnancy, I can remember times when it would hurt so bad. But I knew it was what was best for him and it felt natural and normal to keep nursing him. This is exactly as I had done with Violet when I was pregnant with James, it felt right for my body.

After Hugo was born I tandem nursed both of my boys, the strong bond and benefits of nursing them together was amazing and even more so beautiful. It brings a tear to my eyes just thinking about it. My two year old and my tiny baby, would gaze at each other as they held hands, while filling their tiny body’s with my yummy milk. One of the sweetest, most genuine memories I have.

When Hugo was four months old my sister Amybeth had her first and only home birth, of little miss Isla Jane. What an amazing empowering birth experience I was so luck to be a part of. This sweet baby girl was born with a cleft palate soft palate. A cleft can form on any part of the pallet most commonly found palates are the orofacial palate and cleft lip palate located on the hard palate which indicators are found on the lip or the roof of a babies mouth.  Isla Jane’s specific form of cleft was formed on her small flap of tissue that hangs down in the back of her throat.

This condition most likely formed during the sixth week of my sisters pregnancy, there were no signs of a cleft on any ultrasound my sister had. This flap of skin you know of is most commonly called a uvula, or the hangy thing in the back of your mouth. Isla was born with hers being completely split down the middle. Leaving her with a gap or a hole that continued to proceed on down her throat. When Isla would try to nurse my sister it sounded like she was a little clucking chicken and she never fully formed a suction onto my sisters breast.

For you and I it would be equivalent to us drinking out of a straw with ridges that would have a giant hole in it. As you can imagine this sweet baby’s frustrations with nursing. A day after my sister had experienced her empowering homebirth, her midwife discovered Islas cleft. My sister’s family was rused to the NICU, where there were immediately shown a specific bottle with a nipple created for babies with this condition, this specific nipple is called the haberman nipple. Amybeth, her husband Matthew, one day old Isla Jane and their midwife showed up at the hospital with a frozen bag of my milk. She was then given donor milk, because of the hospital regulations on outside breast milk.

My sisters images of nursing her baby were thwarted, she now had this image imbedded in her mind of her baby only being able to drink out of this specific bottle. Her one day old daughter was now labeled with a special need. I immediately started pumping milk for her when she went at the hospital. I know how it is in there and I knew her milk supply was going to suffer for this traumatic shock. Again me having an ample supply of breast milk, my instincts flew in and that was the only way I knew I could help her and her family.

Being my sister and one of my best friends, I was once again compelled by my heart. I dedicated a huge chunk of my time to nursing and pumping. I was on demand nursing my four month old, along with nursing my two year approximately three to four time a day. I added into my daily routine, pumping for Isla any where from two to four times a day.

I nursed a baby and pumped all day strong! My milk was flowing, my sweet niece was home and growing healthily. My sisters milk finally came in full force. Isla was never able to form a suction to my sisters breast, despite of this my sister committed to pumping for Isla. As you may know most moms might have let this defeat them and that would have been the end of pumping. Amybeth was not one of them, she used it as more motivation, she knew in her daughters future she was going to have to endure surgery. She knew her milk was what was going to keep her baby strong and healthy.

All of this strength led Amybeths milk to be just as plentiful as mine. She pumped and pumped her days away. There were times I would go over to her house and she would be pumping while her baby was crying in her swing and she was so patient. She would have to finish up pumping and then proceed to have to prepare her bottle and feed her baby. With all of the added stressors my sister was a champion. She did not let any of that hinder her, I was and still am so proud of her. I can only imagine her everyday life of pumping and feeding. What an amazing woman she is.

I pumped almost two months for Isla, until my sister had a freezer full of milk. Her milk was flowing. She hadn’t needed my help the last three weeks I pumped, I just wanted to ease her mind to know she had support and she was not having to jump into formula. My sister contunied to pump until isla had her cleft surgery when she was almost ten months old. Her surgery was rough but she got through it, my sister and her husband were strong mostly amazing. Islas surgery was an all around success her cleft palette soft palette was repaired in one surgery. Strong little girl, she is a trooper. My sister continued to pump until her daughter was one, I am so proud of her. What a committed, loving mother.

I stopped nursing James at the beginning of the summer, it was hard. He would still nurse today if I let him. I just felt he was ready as was I. I had this strange feeling when I stopped tandem nursing, I had so much more time to spare. That’s why I started this blog! I continue to nurse Hugo on demand daily, he has increasingly slowed his milk intake. With his love for food : ) I will savor every nursing moment, as he is my last nurser.

Lots of love to all of my fellow nursing mommies, keep the love and the milk flowing! Help other mothers in need if you can, even if it is encouraging words or sharing your nursing ventures. We call all use inspiration from each other. Until next time friends!

Keeping True To Myself

Keeping True To Myself

As long as you

are keeping true

To yourself, you

will always find

happiness.

-Amber Riely

Be happy, be yourself

if others don’t like it let them be.

Happiness is a choice.

Life isn’t about pleasing everybody.

-unknown

Hello Friends,

I can’t believe these summer mornings are turning into chilly fall mornings. I love fall it makes me feel so excited for what is to come! Here I stand at 5:40 AM in my slightly chilly, calm and oh so silent home. Soon to be filled with running feet and happy little faces well I can only hope for the happy and not fit throwing children or husband for that matter : ) I have my days too, today is on my side!Some of these mornings I battle myself on how I am going to pull all of this all off? But I am doing it day after day. I am here constantly changing my life each morning after the next. One year ago you would never in a million years have found me awake at this time. One year from today I can feel big change I can see happiness and success in my future. Some days I find myself unsure,but I am keeping momentum with my vision day after day. What is trying going to hurt? It can only be helpful at this point.

I still have my struggles, is any of this really making a difference? I believe it really is. Here is to a fall filled with amazing days, early dark nights, love, laughter, mind freeing stories, smiles, good sex, carefree editing, filling my mind with amazing books, inspiration, sisters, and all of the children in my life! I have never felt more like myself in my entire thirty two years, this is who I am. It is freeing to finally find me and I see so clear. Let us all be true to what makes us happy and not to everyone else. Make time for the things that make you feel good about your body, your mind and your soul every day!

All of this today, yesterday, tomorrow, even next week is bringing me closer to loving my life stories, all of the good, the bad, the laughter and even the fit throwing, chaotic children, messy home filled days. Let us all love each and every moment, we are in charge. Don’t forget to smile when you are in the throws of your life stories! Until next time friends!

My Empowering Second Birth Experience: And Then There Was Two

imageMy Empowering Homebirth 

“I gave birth at home

Not brave…

Not crazy…

Just educated”

Hello Friends,

Here is the continuance to my soon to be life changing birth experience.

With the shocking news of my second pregnancy at hand and witnessing my sisters soulful home birth, I was forever changed and my perspective was on a whole new level. And yes, it was still childbirth. But the calmness the gentleness and, only the people you choose to be at your birth are present. There are no strangers dressed in blue, aimless wandering in and out of your ” birthing room” scanning your bracelet, carelessly asking your name and birthday. No tubes, no iv’s, no stiff hospital bed, no monitor strapped to you belly. We are not sick when we are giving birth, then why in the hospital are women treated as cancer patients? We are enduring one of life’s most amazing experiences! We don’t need to be strapped to a monitor laying flat on our back. If you have ever known a pregnant women or personally gone through the crazy, amazing life experience you will know she would never lay on her back.

 We as Women need to wake up to change when it comes to our bodies and our births. There are more choices out there. The pressures of our loved ones and society, I know how hard it is. A home birth is a 180 to hospital birth, and it may seem with it’s given name. Your imagination can only lead you there, but until you have been blessed to experience the entirety of a home birth, you will never know the magnitude, the empowerment and the peace that it brings a mother, her baby and her family it changed everything for me.

From my nephew Finny’s homebirth, I was determined I was going to have a home birth. I would never subject myself or my new baby to what I had previously endured. And with the experience of Finny’s birth, I was affirmed of my decision. Rex was not immediately onboard with my past C-section history. When it came down to it, I put it out there truthfully. “My body my choice.” I was certain, I was 100% this was my birth path. 

I was thirty-eight weeks and two-day pregnant, I had just had a fresh shower with my one and only sweet daughter, Violet June. She was two years and two months old. In my light pink, terry cloth, bathrobe, I snuggled with my one and only child for the last time, before she was soon to be my oldest. My sister Jenny called while we were snuggling,, I answered.

“Geez…I am so sick and tired of peeing myself.” I told her on the phone. I had done it once in the shower,  and once getting my bathrobe on and now while I was laying in bed with June. “Are you sure that’s not you water?” Jenny responded to me.

“Of course it’s not my water, I am only 38 weeks pregnant.” I answered back to her, I have never experienced my water breaking with June and to add she was two weeks overdue. So mentally I had prepared myself to be long overdue. I mentally thought I had an entire month of pregnancy ahead of me. Little did I know! I hung the phone, snuggled my one and only sweet baby girl, soon to be one of only two. (Ps We had just had a close friend who is a custom worker build, June’s very first big girl bedroom set, she was giving her crib to her new baby brother, what a good big sister she was going to make!)

I quietly heaved myself out of her bed, as quiet as a giant bellied, 38 week pregnant Mama could be. I stood up and in my pink terry cloth robe, a small gush, rushed down my legs. Thought’s of what my sister had said on the phone, lingered in my mind. “Oh my, was that really my water or did I just pee again?” I questioned myself, I quietly stomped my swollen feet into my room and closed the door. I dialed my sister Jenny as fast as I could. “Ummm… Jenny… I think it is my water, but I am not sure?” I told her

I could hear the excitement in her voice, “Call Carol!” She urged me. My heart pounding, I called my midwife and gave her a run down, she said it sounds like I have a slow leaking water. If you think of a woman’s water breaking you think of the gushing, river of water. A slow leak is exactly as it sounds. It is a tiny tear in the sac, the amniotic fluid or “the water,” (breaking or rupturing) is coming out at its own pace. So in my case you may feel like you are slightly peeing yourself every five minutes. Which is hard to differentiate, with a baby smashing your insides and laying on your bladder. Any woman who has carried a baby can relate to the constant accidents and incessant peeing.

And so, I would off and on have this unfamiliar slow leak. Small gushes and giant gushes of warm clear fluid streamed down my legs.

With my water now ruptured, and I was Group B Strep positive. Group B Strep also known as GBS is a type bacteria or an infection found in a womans vaginna or rectum.  The bacteria is normally found in 25% of all healthy adult women AKA 1 in 4 women carry this bacteria. In pregnancy, Women are tested for GBS, it can be known to pass to the baby during childbirth.  GBS is a leading cause of life-threatening infections in newborns, including pneumonia (lung infection), sepsis (blood infection), meningitis (infection of the lining of the brain and spinal cord), and other problems.

With my GBS and previous c-section the clock was ticking. Legally my midwife can only allow a birthing Mother 24 hours with this infection before complication such as the above listed may present worry.

At my home on my terms, my sister Jenny and her eight month old Finny arrived, her other two bigger boys were at home with their dad. My braxton hicks contractions that I had been enduring for the last few weeks were weakly and lazily, coming and going every thirty minutes ,if that. Braxton Hicks contractions, also known as prodromal labour or practice contractions, or incorrectly as false labour, are sporadic uterine contractions that sometimes start around six weeks into a pregnancy. However, they are not usually felt until the second trimester or third trimester of pregnancy.

My husband, Rex at work and could I reach him? Ummm… nope… Of all the panicked times he answered the phone, “Are you in labor? So, you need me to come home?” He asked me this question dozens upon dozens of times. When it was actually happening, his phone would ring and ring and ring. I could not get through, I finally called his supervisor and that’s how i got a hold of him. I was slightly panicked he would not make it in time.

Rex finally was home, and a few hours later my midwife and her assistant arrived. We were at home and the afternoon ticked by, the evening came, we were all patiently waiting for my labor to start. It had almost ceased to exist. I somehow frightened it away. I kept thinking to myself,  “maybe I really was peeing myself? ” It was dark, my one and only daughter, June was nursed and sound asleep in her big girl bed. My midwife and her assistant retreated to the futon in the lower family room, we joked about them snuggling and spooning each other. My sister went to bed on my couch. With a rapid heart beat, I could feel in my arms, I nervously, tried falling asleep flopping and heaving from side to side. I kept perfectly arranging and rearranging my eclectic, array of my eight fluffy pillows. As Rex would referred to as my wall of pillows. I barely, nervously, anxiously, dozed off.

My sister Jenny woke me through my gasping, incessant drooling and snoring. She sweetly urged me to get up, that the clock was ticking and maybe a walk would help to get things moving along. My husband, daughter and midwives, were fast asleep. We went out the front door for a midnight walk, the time was moving fast my contractions were off and on, weakishly every thirty minutes still.

Jenny and I on our late night, ever so dark morning hour stroll, she was cracking me up. She was encouraging me to do lunges, and squats I kept gushing, there were even hilarious fart moments. I have amazing memories of that night with the two of us, lots of laughs and lots of gush farts. Hey I couldn’t help it I had a giant belly, I gained 54 lbs after all, yikes!

We returned into the house, still the same, I walked up and down my three flights of stairs at least ten times. Still nothing but one giant tired, anxious, Mama. The early morning hours approached, Carol and Myrta submerged sleepy from the downstairs living room.

“Any changes, Shelly?” Carol sweetly asked. I responded, nothing new to report except more gushes of fluid. She had me lay on my couch and double checked with a lithium paper that it in fact was my water and not pee as I kept suspecting. We were all half and half, hoping it wasn’t a ruptured membrane and just an end of a third trimester, giant bellied Mama, peeing herself. Carol checked my babies heart beat and he was perfect in there, he was head down, positioning was ideal for birth. We were just lacking the labor pains that I was hoping would have come and gone by this point.

Carol spoke to me about my fears, about my body, she suggested we light a candle and sit in a circle and say a prayer, she spoke to me about releasing any worry from my mind and any doubts I was holding onto. With the sun slightly rising, a tall flickering candle, we circled on my living room floor. I was surrounded by My sister Jenny and two loving midwife’s, Rex and June were still asleep and I was ok with that.

Gazing into the flickering light, I released my fears of pushing out my baby. I had a worry that when it came time to pushing I was not going to know how to get my baby out of my body. I released tears of joy and tears of fears of having another c-section, my pains of my first birth, each woman said encouraging words to me. We release thoughts of positivity and healthy birth into to universe. My lips quivered of course I cried, my sister cried. I felt so much love and warmth.

Morning approached, my dear friend Shay entered my home with her eight month old baby girl Arden, and her amazing positive presence. “What a beautiful day to have a baby Shelly.” She genuinely smiled to me with her sweet southern accent. He face made me tear up.

My progress, still the same. I tried disgusting tasting tinctures, I choked down the dreadful castro oil and orange juice with vodka. Yes vodka, it relaxes a laboring mother. I was determined to try anything, I was not going to the hospital! I started get contractions or intestinal cramping, my breathing started to get heavy. It was not the contractions I wanted, I had sever stomach pains I was sweaty, queasy, I was going to puke, but I didn’t. Those waves left me and I was now left with no contractions.

My midwife asked to speak to my husband and I, she sat on the floor up against my bookshelf. I bounced on my birthing ball with my hair braided to my left side, in my emerald-green nightgown. Rex sat in a chair to my right. I embraced my giant belly as I bounced up and down on the ball. She gently told us, everything I knew she was about to say. I was GBS positive and with my history of c-section we were approaching 22 hours of a ruptured sack. The dreadful words came out of her mouth.

“Shelly, we are going to have to move you to the Hospital.” I lost it, I had no emotional filter or control. I tightly held my belly and sobbed and sobbed, myself into heuristics. I couldn’t stop.

“It’s not fair!” My lips quivered with tears streamed down my cheeks unto my green nightgown. “It’s not fair!” I repeated time and again. “I worked so hard for this.” I spoke trembled under my tears.

Rex held me, I lost it I couldn’t keep it together. Luckily June was at a close Friend’s house and she did not have to see her Mommy like this. Jenny and Shay held me and comforted me in a small circle. They both affirmed to me this is what I needed to do to meet my son and have a healthy son, it was going to be ok. And everyone was going to be there every step of the way.

PS I never knew while this was happening. I kept asking for my other sister Amybeth, I had no clue where she was, I kept getting angry at her for not being there. And little did I know she was plagued with a horrific case of, influenza B. I was so sad, but out of our hands, I couldn’t have influenza B much less my newborn baby with it. I missed every moment without her.

Rex was frantically gathering all of our things for the hospital. With my birth pool set up in my kitchen, and longing for my home birth. Rex sweetly told me to get in and relax before we headed to the hospital. I resisted him at first, how could I relax? Relaxation was a distant island to my soon to be drifting away future. I finally gave in, I got in the pool I  floated in the warm birthing water, I accepted what was to come. I gave into the thoughts of a C-section. I actually thought of how much easier it would be than having to endure the pains of birth.

Carol my midwife gently put her hand on my shoulder and said to me, “Shelly, it is time.” She held out a towel and helped me out of the pool. I dripped water on my way up the stairs to my bedroom, half way up I stopped and gazed down onto my living room floor at the hospital bag and the car seat I hadn’t intended on using for at least another month. I looked around at my home and how ready it was for me to have my son in.

I got to my room in my soaking wet sports bra, I made it to the foot of my bed and then, my breath was stolen from me. I had the most intense cramping, these unfamiliar feelings had not dawned on me at the moment that I might be in labor. I held my body up at the foot of my bed and held onto my hard as a rock belly, I swayed back and forth, taking deep breaths blowing out my breaths. The cramping paused and then I tried for a second time to pull off my wet bra, but I atlas I couldn’t. I was stopped in my tracks by another intense, breath-taking, hard as a rock feeling over my body. “Are these contractions?” I asked myself. It stopped again, I made myself move confusingly to my bathroom with my wet bra still in tacked, I made it to my bathroom sink. I strongly put my hand on the counter with my head down swaying back and forth. I was breathing deep again, my thoughts were how I couldn’t imagine riding in the car feeling like this.

My dear, sweet friend, Shay, slowly entered my bathroom. “Is everything ok, Shelly? Do you need some help?” She calmly asked me with her baby in her arms. It was happening again and again. Shay stayed with me for my next couple of contractions, she happily watched. She was as confused as I was to what was happening. I told her “I do not want to ride in the car, this is going to suck so bad.” My breath was stolen away by another rock hard contraction.

My sister, Jenny stood at the door way. Shay whispered to her, sharing her last moments spent with me. I heard her feet scurry off and up came my midwife, Carol. Yet another wave overtook me, I had to stop, I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t talk, all I had was my breath, my labors sounds started to chime in. Carol flooded me with questions, I answered in my blurry, painful confusion. She told me we were going to just wait and see what happened. We still had two hours and if I were to go into active labor in that time, we might just be able to stay at home. She raised her hand above her head, praying for a miracle. Not sure of what she was saying. My longing labor pains that I so desperately wanted were here, and WOW! Did I ever forget their intensity. My friend, Shay packed her eight month old baby girl, Arden on her back. Arden was calmed by her Mommy and the ever so familiar sounds of birth. Shay rubbed me in my dark, calm and fluffy bed. I labored a while longer, it was at least forty-five minutes. Carol insisted in checking my cervix. Something she usually does not do, but this was a completely different circumstance. Carol did not speak the number to be directly but I was dilated to a five and a half. One being as big as one fingertip and ten being as big as ten fingertips and ready for baby to come out.

I asked if I could return to the pool, Carol told me not to get too comfortable in there. But she agreed to let me try, I waddled my way down the stairs as fast as my body would allow. A contraction once again stole my breath and I had to stop, I began swaying my hips back and forth and laboring moans filling the air. I almost ran into the pool at the pause of my contractions, at the rate I was going it was only a matter of minutes I had before another one over come my body.  I am pretty sure as I leaped into the water I made a giant splash, no one said a word. I got into my the comfortable position that I could at the time. I was on my knees, they were spread as wide open as possible. I had my arms crossed over the side of the pool, I would cradle my head with each contraction. I am not sure where Rex was at this point, I think he was sitting on the sidelines in fears of what was happening. I could hear one of the baby’s making sweet coos. I felt safe, I felt so much love, it felt right and it was happening for real this time.

Jenny got in the pool with me, she was prepared with a swim suit. There was a point I felt she was actually laboring with me. She rubbed my back. My soothing music played in the background, I looked up and saw a flickering candle. Shay stood on the outside with Rex while Shay was holding Arden checking the temperature of the pool. With my eyes closed I could hear Jenny and Shay both affirming to me,” Shelly your body is doing exactly what is it supposed to be doing, accept these contractions, you are strong. You are capable.” She reassured me. With a momentary break in my contractions, I gazed up at my sweetest, seven month old nephew Finny, calmly and happily playing on the floor mimicking my laboring sounds.

In this pause Carol leaned down and whispered the best words I have ever heard, “Shelly we are going to set up for a home birth, you are going to have your baby at home.” I will forever remember that moment, tears of joy filled my eyes I hugged her I could not believe her words. Shay and Jenny both cried, it was really happening. Rex was still confused, but ready to do whatever he needed to do to help out. I was having my son at home, in my kitchen. In my most amazing birthing pool surrounded by only loving, supportive people. My birth I had always imagined and dreamt of night after night. Only the people I wanted to share this amazing experience with, were with me and I was safe and in my own home.

I labored in the pool, my sister in the pool with me. At one point she was holding up my body as I rested back on her. And then in a moment’s time I began getting nauseous and dry heaving, I threw up. It was calm, my body was doing what it was made for.  My midwife was trusting of me and I was of her. And then my loud laboring roars, turned into the deepest grunting sounds. My whole pregnancy I was terrified I was not going to know what to do when it came time to push my son out. And lo and behold my body took over, I was involuntarily bearing down. Deep grunting sounds filled the air. I was comfortably resting back in the pool, Rex on the outside of the pool holding my hand. Jenny was still in the pool and squashed over to one side.

She later told me at one point she had to pee so bad, but didn’t want to leave me. Carol told her it was ok to go in the pool, Jenny was surrounded in my bodily fluids as I was of hers. When I was in this state, I only wanted darkness. My sister and Shay had made me cold wash cloth, upon cold wash cloth with a lovely lavender scent. I kept demanding of a colder wetter rag. I could feel my son in my birth canal, that little stinker kept coming down and going right back up. There was one point when I just wanted to push with ever being in myself to get him out. At that point Carol raised her voice to me,” If it is burning and stretching back off, let your body do the work.” I heard someone’s voice say, “Surrender to the pain Shelly.” With a the ring of fire slowly approaching, I remembered I let go of everything in my mind and body. I let my body float in the water, I let my body do what it was made for. It hurt like Hell, it was the most intense, real feelings I had ever experienced in my life at that point.

All I remember is grunting and thinking I ripped my critters open and then I reached down and submerged my baby boy out of the water. Jenny was directly behind me at this point. I pulled my son on my chest, I held his tiny bottom in my hand I kissed his head.  I cried, “I did it babe, where is he where is Rex?” I cried tears of joy, I looked around and he reached his hand down. “I did it Carol, I did it.” I cried more and more tears of joy. I held him on my chest and someone wrapped a towel around us in the water. I felt euphoric, I was holding my baby I was at home just as I had dreamt of doing.

Moments later, Carol asked if I could get out of the pool and make it to the couch to deliver my placenta. With helping hands in every direction I was hoisted out of the pool with warm towels and blankets wrapped around me and my newborn baby. I shivered on my way to the couch. I laid there trying to process what had just happened. I nursed my nameless son, I instantly was in love with him. I often wondered during my pregnancy how I would love another baby as much as I loved June. But It was automatic. Carol asked if I could push to help my placenta be born. I took a deep breath and blew it out of my mouth, I did this several times. Carol instructed me to breath in and hold my breath and push, when I was pushing my son I involuntarily pushed. I never had to think about it, I was focused. A few good pushes and I pretty sure I said “F*c* yes, that felt so good!” And then my ultra shivering, overcame me, I was losing mass amounts of blood. Carol quickly and confidently administered a shot of Pitocin into my upper thigh (these times are what Pitocin was created for), and I was quickly given a tincture. Carol said,” Shelly you need to tell your uterus to clamp down and shut off!” Demanding like, my ears and body were open. I loudly stated. “Uterus clamp down and shut of!” With every being I shouted those words, I was in charge of my body and it was going to obey. And moments later, my body listened and my shivering dissipated. I was laying on my couch with my nameless son, snuggling and nursing. We chose to burn his cord, it was another amazing experience on its own. It was lovely and in walked our oldest daughter, June. She was confused I held her and tandem nursed my two babies, they gazed in each other’s eyes and nursed together. It was amazing I did! And that night my family got to sleep soundly and comfortably in our own beds. It was a breath of fresh air compared to my five night stay at the hospital first birth experience.

I want to tell other Mama’s you can do it to. It is our bodies and our choices. I can never describe the empowerment that day gave me. I carry that experience along everywhere I go. I finally was able to forgive myself and know that I held the power the entire time. Know that you have a voice and mostly it is your body and your body, so make the best choice for you and not for anyone else.

Until next time friends!

Losing Myself

Losing Myself

“ Until you’re broken, you

don’t know what you’re

made of. It gives you the

ability to build yourself

All Over Again, but

Stronger than EVER”

My life revolved around June, she was my world my everything. I forgot my husband existed, in a small way I blamed him from making my choice to be induced. (Silly me it was my choice.) All jokes aside I held this baby until she was six months old she slept in bed with Rex and I until she was fourteen months old. I carried this crazy guilt surrounding her birth, I was so hard on myself. I could not forgive my first words, I could not forgive the loss of control at her birth. It haunted me for years, it ripped my marriage apart it stole my spirit from me.

I let this happen to myself, there was no one else to blame. Being my first baby I had no clue what I was doing. I just knew it was my job to take care of her and left my husband idling in park at the curb outside of our house. Poor guy with him dumped out with the garbage. Now that I am in metaphor mode, I straight up treated him like garbage. Which came right back to me, I deserved it. I didn’t see it at the time but Juney’s birth experience was molding my life, I was letting it control me.

Here it goes, I never really talk to anyone about this. I was living with a hidden post partum depression, I was embarrassed to talk about it. After all in 2012 the c-section rate was 33% in the US, I was just one of millions of women suffering from this after shock. We should all just get over it right? It is so common after all, sweep you feelings under the rug with the rest of the women, right? Wrong, wrong, and wrong! Probably the worst thing we could do to ourselves, and the worst thing I could have done for myself and my baby.

 

Inspiration to a Home Birth

“She believed

she could

so

she did.”

“It always seems

impossible until it is done.”

-Nelson Mandela

I was now pregnant with my second child, June was about fifteen months old. I opted out of the traditional hospital birth.  In spite of my first emotionally, physical pounding, life wrenching experience. My sister, Jenny had just had her first home birth with her third son weeks before I found out I was pregnant. When I first heard mention of her having a home birth my immediate response was. “What are you crazy or something?” It was the unknown, it was not normal, it was tabu. Only Crazy hippies had their babies at home. People who had no idea what they were doing had their babies at home. I pictured her with blood soaked towels and her husband catching the baby everything in dismay. Wow! I was misinformed as many americans are. In third world countries this is a complete norm.

In the 1800s, when a Chinese woman would begin labor she would be accompanied by the prayers of her mother and her mother-in-law to help aid in a “easy” delivery. A Taoist priest would arrive and whisper soothing prayers into the laboring mother’s home. When it would come time to deliver her baby, she would squat on her bed. Once her baby was born into the world, her midwife would cut and bind the umbilical cord, and then gently encourage her placenta to be born . Her newborn baby would not be bathed for three days, until all sights and feelings of evil had dissipated from the newborns surroundings. Yes that is a little intense, but what our country has created as a societal norm and what other countries norm is, it is quite different.

My inspiring sister Jenny and her best friend Shay had both experienced happy, healthy home births.

With post partum in my shadows. If you are not familiar with the term postpartum depression or PPD is a temporary depression that comes along with pregnancy and birth. There are two different kinds one is the early onset, most often referred to as the “baby blues.” These “baby blues” are the most mild case and affect up to 80% of women after they have their baby. These blues usually clear up a couple of weeks post birth without treatment. The post partum depression PPD is much more severe and affects 10% to 16% of women. For me I had severely sad thoughts, thought I wasn’t good enough, that I was a failure, that I could never do anything right, the list goes on and on. The most severest cases are women having thoughts of hurting themselves or hurting their baby. I was lucky my PPD never got to that point.

My thoughts and feelings softly slowed after witnessing my sisters harmonious home birth and hearing about her best friend Shays successful home birth. With my second pregnancy at hand, I had a chance for a fresh start. A whole new beginning, I still could not seem to free myself from my downward thoughts.

After experiencing my sisters most amazing, beautiful, real life “natural” birth, my eyes were opened. There were other options out there. It was amazing it was filled with love, water, intense labor sounds, uplifting words, peaceful music. Her home was filled with trust, love and so much peace. A pot of miso soup was on the stove, there were soothing sounds of nature. We made her washcloths with essential oils, lavender and vanilla scented. Everyone who was there was there because they loved Jenny. The calm and peacefulness and the amount of love that filled her home it was incredible. Her children were even present. It was the polar opposite of my bright piercing lights, Pitocin in an I-v, vomit filled, terrified with every inch of my being, circus room filled with strangers dressed in blue, hospital birth. To be continued…My friends!

My First Birth Experience

My First Birth Experience

“Being a Mother

is learning about strengths

you didn’t know you had,

and dealing with fears

you didn’t know existed.”

-Linda Wooten

“We must be willing

to let go

of the life we,

have planned

so as to have

the life that is waiting

for us.”

-Joseph Campbell

Hello Friends,

I have been wanting to share the birth of my first born for a long time. Here is my experience in its entirety. It is a long story. I am going to share all of my birth experiences, so keep an eye out for them!

 I am so excited, to share my words and I am here to tell other Mamma’s there are so many options out there, don’t just give in to fear, live with information and knowledge. Know that you do have a choice and you mostly have a voice when it comes to our babies and mostly our bodies. Here it goes!

The Idea of Baby Bliss

Our first pregnancy was so exciting I was so happy when I took that first positive pregnancy test, and the second line was really there. I was ecstatic, I was twenty six and Rex was twenty seven. We were young but not too young, I was healthy. Rex was scared yet excited to become a father. We had no idea what we were about to get ourselves into. My birth experiences up until this point consisted of watching my Mother give birth to my little sister when I was thirteen, quite the traumatic experience for me.

When I was twenty four I was so lucky to experience the first birth between me and my sisters. My nephew, Kelton was born at thirty five weeks and his lungs were not fully developed. From the first moment to the first month of his new life  was spent in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit). My emotions and feelings of birth were all over the place. Both of these birth experiences were pretty traumatizing, as excited as I was to be pregnant I was so terrified. I watched my sister’s first experience of being a Mother and nothing went as planned.

As the societal norm we planned hospital birth, because that is just what you do. Right? Well at the time that is what I thought was the right thing to do. We opted for midwives, the clinic we choose was big, a little bigger than I would have liked. At the time of my life it was all I knew and it was comfortable so I just went along with it. The clinic I went to had four rotating Midwifes, who would pass you around from appointment to appoint. When it came time to going into labor it just depend on who was on call. Two of midwives I loved and one was ok and the fourth was much younger and inexperienced. Needless to say she was not my favorite, and I felt very uncomfortable around her. I knew I wanted to have midwives opposed to doctors so I could have a more “natural” birth experience.

I had the perfect birth plan. My husband and I took the birthing classes, I was mostly clueless and information less. The plan was written it was going to be natural, I was going to do what my body was meant for. I had mentally prepared myself for my labor my entire pregnancy, I listened to my pregnancy affirmations. I practiced my breathing. I was connected with my baby. It was a girl, the moment we found out she was a girl this extreme wave of happiness overcame me. I already had her name picked out she was going to be Violet June Bond. I had many dreams of holding her and nursing her, I could hardly wait the ten and a half months for her to come out.

And so my due date had come and passed as many, many first time Mammas experience. Well those arduous days kept passing and slight signs of labor were in my future. The days turned into a week a week turned into a week and six days. Every one of those day’s I would recieve calls and texts did you have your baby, are you in labor? Shouldn’t you just get induced aren’t you sick of being pregnant? I finally turned off my phone and was not going out in public anymore, if there was someone I really wanted to talk to I would call them myself.

I was trusting my body to do what it was supposed to do. Finally at my forty one week and six day check up. My husband Rex, sister Jenny and my Doula, Elisa all at my side. And in walked my least favorite Midwife, her lack of confidence showed when she wouldn’t even look into my eyes when she was telling me how dangerous it was to continuing on being pregnant past fourty two weeks. The entire time she seemed unsure about what she was saying her voice was shaky. My husband took what she said very serious, he had no clue of the process of pregnancy or childbirth, he hung onto every word this confiden lacking, young woman’s words. I was a raging ball of emotions and hormones at this point. Hey I was ten and a half months pregnant, can you blame me? Rex inturned freaked out which freaked me out. I was forty one weeks and six days pregnant. My sister Jenny and Dula Elisa tried telling me I was fine and I did not have to be pressured into anything I didn’t want to do. With that we left the appointment and the midwife strongly urged us to call the hospital and scheduled an induction. I left feeling confused, shaken up, I had no idea what to do. Part of me just wanted to be done being pregnant, I wanted hold my baby. Thoughts raced and raced in my mind.

The Difference Between a Doula And A Midwife?

Just a bit of information if you are not familiar with the term a dula. A Doula is a birthing coach, a woman who assists women during and after childbirth. She is someone who is there as support for the laboring mother, she keeps the laboring mother’s mind focused, positive, calm and peaceful. She was an essential part of my birthing experience. I am so blessed to have an amazing woman in my life who just so happens to be a Doula and buy the way she has the most soothing voice and knows exactly what I need to feel and hear while I am in labor. A Doula is essential to accomplish an actual real life “natural” childbirth. If you have the right Doula she makes all of the difference in the world during the most intense birthing moments to the to calming waves and pauses between contractions. The same goes for your care provider if you have a trusted Doctor or Midwife these people can make or break your birthing experience.

A Doula often gets confused with a Midwife, she is not the same. A Midwife is a person who is most commonly found to be a woman but can be a man, she or he is trained to serve and assist women pre, post and during childbirth. A Midwife is a person who serves as an attendant, but is not a physician.

I say “she” for me, because I see birth as an experience that women can share deeply with each other there is this amazing bond that we can connect in a whole new light, it is emotional it is soulful it is beautiful. Men or women who have not experienced this amazing experience just connect with a different mindset and approach. This can also be an amazing thing for the newcomer to the birthing experience. Whether it be birth or another life experience if a person experiences anything in life, we can relate at an entirely different level than if you haven’t. Our husband’s or a partner’s can connect in their own way, I believe there to be this sacred bond that birthing mothers share. It is an indescribable feeling and one of the most powerful and memorable experiences I have had the joy in enduring in my life .

Being a woman who has attended five births, two hospital births and three home births. I find myself to be well seasoned to the birthing experience and the major differences and benefits between hospital and home births.

My Doomed Induction

With the fear of my least favorite midwives words correlated with my husbands fears. The  night of my forty one week and six day check up. I let my fear’s defeat me, I called and scheduled my dreadful induction for eight PM that same evening. I was packed and ready to go. I was going to have my baby girl, I was going to get to hold her and kiss her for the first time. With no signs of labor we were off to the hospital.

I was induced with Cervidil, a gel healthcare professionals use to induce labor. This is applied directly onto the cervix. My Midwife administered my first dose one hour into my check in. What midwife would you suppose was on call? Oh my least favorite, non eye contact making, slightly shaky midwife that’s who. With a bad taste in my mouth to start with. She applied another dose into the night, this Cervidil was going to help “naturally” induce labor. The main risks associated with Cervidil, (as with most medications used for labor induction) is the medication can cause too many contractions, which can affect baby’s heart rate over time. After I was maxed out on the allowed Cervidil dosage, the new midwife and nurses began mass quantities of Pitocin.(Pitocin is a hormone commonly used to induce or continue labor pains or even control the bleeding after labor is known as pitocin. Occasionally it is also used to trigger the milk secretion for breast feeding. It may also be used for other health conditions based on the advice made by a midwife or doctor).

This tedious induction started approximately eight hours after this medication was administered to my cervix four times. My labor pains were intensifying minute by minute hour by hour and finally I could not take it. My natural childbirth stolen away from me. I was in the hands of medication at this point.  Or I stole my birth from myself from my own lack of knowledge and decision making skills.

With my birth plan of having my “natural” childbirth down the drain. I labored in the bath tub surrounded by my amazing birth team. My amazing sisters and Doula there to support, love, and ever so rubbing hands all over my body. I cursed like a sailor,  I moaned loud, I roared like a lion. When I am in labor my voice is the only thing I am in control of so I use it and I use it powerfully.  

Rex scared he confined himself to the corner of the room, most of my labor terrified of not knowing what was happening or what was yet to come. It was all pretty big blur at this point. Atlas I could not take it and I gave into the dreaded Epidural that I had promised I would never get or subject my baby to. At this point, my pain was so high and I was now twelve hours in and no big sign of progression. My mind was asking if there was any way I could keep on going into this dark and painful abyss? My body surrendered, I gave up.

My birth when from intense feelings of life and labor, probably the most intense experience of my life. It is called labor for a reason people, it is hard work! I was then morphed into numbness, quivering, jaw uncontrollably chattering, nausea, vomiting, dry heaving. It went from, full of life to drained of life in a matter of an hour.

Just Another Name On The Labor And Delivery Floor

Of course now I was in the hands of the “Midwife” and ever so rotating nurses who didn’t know my first name. Scanning my wrist band not looking at me asking my name and date of birth every five minutes. Like I gave a shit what my name was, I couldn’t control my nervous system and was vomiting through my entire body. Yet I was still asked what my name was.

Hours later I was almost there, I even remember them saying it was almost time to push I was dialated to a nine. Those words gave me a small bit of hope. My sixth nurse at the time, prepared the set up for the newborn about to greet this world. Another cervix check and soon another, she kept trying to flip my sunny side up baby in the right direction.

Sunny side up or posterior refers to the fetus being face up, this can cause the baby’s back to extend straight or arched along the mother’s spine. Having the baby’s back extended often pushes up on the baby’s chin. Where proper or “text book” positioning is the complete opposite, face down. The science is the sunny side up or posterior  back of baby’s skull rubs on the back of your pelvis causing bone on bone friction. Whereas if the baby were in the proper or “text book’” position her face would easily slide through the front opening of the Mother’s pelvis. None of us are a “text book” we are real people and should be treated like a people, not like a dusty book sitting on a shelf.

And then the ever so dreadful words were said for one of the first of several times, “failure to Progress”. My mind was defeated once again. What does your mind go to when someone tells you, you are a ”failure to progress?” As you can imagine, defeat, stomped down, you can’t get up.  I still envisioned myself pushing Violet out of my body, I could see her, she was right there. I was so close.

The Oh So Common C-Section

The polar opposite of my planned “natural” childbirth was swept right under my feet. I didn’t stand a chance. A dreadful scrub nurse entered my room with her golden chef’s hat flopped to one side. She entered my labor room in her hat praising about her c-section and how everyone in hollywood was doing it. That nowadays scars were hidden beneath our bikini line. I was still in my mind set I was getting my baby out of my body, on my now ever so skewed terms. The chef’s hat or scrub hat this nurse was wearing didn’t even dawn on me at this point.

And then the words we said again, “failure to Progress,” over and over. This was roughly nine Pm the day after the start of my induction. My Midwife and on call Doctor ready to get home and go to bed was more like it. I was told my hips were too narrow and I probably wouldn’t be able to push a baby out vaginally and with this constant “failure to progress” at stake that a C-section was what needed to be done.

Dressed In Blue

Shaking , nauseous, physically and emotionally exhausted my spirit broken. My emotions let down into the saddest hysteria of bawling, crying, quivering, utter defeatment, I could not control myself at that point. I didn’t know how I was going to live with myself, I felt I was robbed of my beautiful birth of my first born.

I regained consciousness enough to be wheeled down the bright sterile hallway, bright light blurring my vision. I entered into a scary tiny room surrounded by strangers in full on blue suites covering their mouths and wearing goggles as if I had some fatal, airborne illness. I felt like I was in the movie E.T. Terrified still shaking and off and on dry heaving nothing left inside of my stomach to purge. I was met by my husband, Rex and my sister Jenny. Relieved to see their faces, they too were dressed in some strange white suites. There I was in this sterile, circus of a room. The bright lighting pierce through my already blurred vision and foggy mind.

The Doctor told me she was going to do a poke test to make sure I was numb enough to begin. I had a coughing fit overcome me and all I could envision was her stabbing my baby in the head with her scalpel, that’s how dark and far gone I was. I could feel nothing at this movement, it is so hard to describe I could feel my body being rustled about but numbness at the same time. I heard my daughter cry, I got sick again and vomited behind the blue curtain. I lost a ton of blood my husband and sister were shoved back by the anesthesiologist. The Doctor and Midwife were panicking shouting to give me more of this and that. I could not make out the words, I was lifeless, I felt nothing.

I could not enjoy what was supposed to be one of the most beautiful, blissful experiences women get to have. Something I had been dreaming about since I was a young girl. This was the birth of my first daughter and I felt as if I were dying.

My husband not sure to stay with me or go with the baby, he said “Juney,” he cried his emotions were in that moment he was meeting his daughter for the first time. I am so happy they got to share that moment together. My sister never left my side she wiped my vomited upon face she caressed my forehead. I can remember the  love and sincerity in her touch on my skin. I heard my husband say something about meeting my baby.

Unforgivable and Unforgettable Words

And then I was about to say the most unforgettable words, these words would mold the next five years of my life, “take her away, take her away from me, get her away.” Were the first utterances to my baby girl. I said this with my eyes rolled back into my head and the stench of vomit on my face and the lingering feeling of death laying on top of my body. These words haunted me day after day. 

We were reunited approximately one hour later. The nurse brought her to me with my oxygen on my nose she was so sweet and tiny. She was in a paper diaper with a pacifier in her mouth. I immediately tried to nurse her my body felt numb, but my brain took over and my maternal instincts flew in. And she did it she nursed! We had our first bonding moment, it was nothing like I had imagined but she was in my arms and I immediately fell in love with her. She was mine and I made her after all.  I did imaging nursing her and that was real. I was a zombie of myself but I was holding my baby girl, I couldn’t believe she was finally here.

The next six weeks were an even bigger blurr, I emotionally and physically was in so much pain. I had the hardest time processing my daughter’s birth. I blamed myself, I blamed the midwife, I blamed the doctor for stealing away my perfect vision of her birth. I never held myself accountable, that I should have taken charge. I should not have let them take over and scare me into what my body was created to do.

The birth of Violet changed my mindset and forever changed me. I let it set a dark mood over the next five years of my life. I should not have been so torn down by it, but everything happens for a reason. I was so lost and drowned by this experience I let it run my life every day life, until I recently woke up and accepted my past as my past. And accepted that I am in charge of making my future. If I had not experience this birth I would not be here telling you about this and I would not be able to help give other parents wisdom and knowledge.

I want everyone to know that you can have a voice, you can and do have a choice. You can say no, do your research before you get scared into something. Understanding everything in birth or everyday life is the opposite to our worries and our doubts. We should never make rash decisions based on fear, worry or doubt. Our choices we make today are the choices that mold our future. If you have exhausted all of your resources and intervention is the only way to go, the only way to make sure you and your baby are safe then that is what interventions were created for. Not just because we are untrusting of our body or impatient. This is your body and your baby! Mostly your life after all take charge of it and know you have a voice, so speak up! Until next time friends!