Sunday, May 28, 2006

Cassandra's birth story

Ok, here is Cassandra's birth story. I'll try not to go into too much gory detail (for the squeemish), but some terminology you just can't get around. So, here we go...

***At 1:30pm on (Friday) May 19th, my water broke. My bag had never ruptured on its own (the Dr. always broke it artifitially) so at first I wasn't sure if I was just having bladder problems or if my bag had really broken. It wasn't the huge gushing thing you see in the movies or read about in books... it was more of a slow on-and-off trickle. I put a pad on and sure enough I started to soak the pads with this watery, pale-yellow fluid. As soon as I realized that my water had actually broke, I excitedly called RD to tell him the good news. Afterward, I called my midwife. She told me call her back when I started having contractions that I couldn't sleep/rest through. So I waited... and waited... No contractions. Had lots of Braxton's but nothing regular or painful. So, I went about my day as usual but I did get the kids' bags packed and made preparations to have "uncle" Kris and "aunt" Rebekah watch them overnight. At 7pm when the kids got picked up by Kris and Rebekah, I STILL wasn't having contractions. Oddly enough, my parents were already down here visiting/babysitting my sister's kid, Amara. They came over to visit/play cards and they brought me my favorite blizzard from DQ... mint Oreo with chocolate soft serve. The whole time I ate it I kept thinking that my parents wasted their money because I was just going to vomit it up later during delivery (I'm a big puker during labor). But, I thoroughly enjoyed every bite of it . At about 10:30pm, my midwife called to check on me. STILL no contractions but lots of amniotic fluid! She told me to get to bed as soon as possible because we'd probably be having a long night and any amount of rest I could get would be absolutely benefitial. Like I could sleep! I tried, really I did, but I was just too giddy to sleep. We decided to watch a movie (Undercover Brother) so I could still visit but perhaps get some shut-eye, but, I just couldn't fall sleep. The movie ended around 12:30am or so. We said goodbye to my parents (as they were staying at my sister's) and no sooner did they leave and I finally started getting tired... and... the contractions finally started (approx. 1:30am). We laid a shower curtain over the mattress and put one of those blue hospital absorbency pads down on the sheets where I would be laying. I put on an old grubby IWU shirt and a pair of black work-out shorts and tried to go to sleep. RD passed right out but I couldn't. My contractions started hard right off the bat. After tossing and turning for about an hour, I woke RD up and told him I was going to move to the La-Z-Boy recliner in the living room. Like the sweetheart he is, RD got up too and moved to the couch so I wouldn't be alone. At that point, I not only couldn't sleep through the contractions, but I couldn't even rest/relax between them. RD called our midwife to give her an update. We decided she should now come to our house and prep for baby. We waited an hour for the midwife to get here and by the time she walked in, I was pretty far into labor. (Let's just say she didn't get to the knitting she brought along in case she had to kill time.) I was starting to get into the "zone" where time and surroundings start to become a blur. I vaguely remember drinking fruit juice, eating cheese and crackers, the midwife setting up her birthing stuff, and RD and the midwife preparing my herbal bath (for right after delivery). I was just rocking away like crazy in the recliner- it was the only thing that gave me comfort. RD says I almost broke the poor thing with all the rocking I did. When the contractions got really intense, I noticed that my hands were starting to go numb- I wasn't breathing slow enough/getting enough oxygen. That's when my midwife started to coach me. She made me put my head down (chin to chest), relax my shoulders and arms, to breath very slowly, and to exhale with an open/relaxed mouth. That helped a lot. Sometime during my "zoning" phase, I did throw up... but it was only one time AND it wasn't the mint Oreo blizzard! Ha! I got to keep it! :-) At some point I remember RD trying to walk me to the bathroom so I could urinate. It was SO hard to walk about the house. It was just one contraction after another with very little reprieve. The midwife tried a couple different times to listen to the baby's heartbeat, but just couldn't get a good reading. Eventually, she told me we were moving to the master bedroom so I could lay on the bed (since it was already prepped with a shower curtain and absorbency pad). I could hardly walk there. But, I managed to get up, hobble to the bed, lay on my back, and she finally could hear a good heartbeat from the baby (yeah, no fetal distress!). They sat me back up and told me to walk back to the living room where all the birthing stuff was set up. I pleaded to stay in the bedroom because it hurt too bad to move like that again. RD and the midwife quickly ran out to the living room and carried all the birthing stuff right up to the edge of the bed where I was sitting. At that point, the midwife said she was going to do a quick internal exam to see where baby was. (This was actually the first internal I had! Our midwife will do them if we ask her to but she doesn't like to do them- can't blame her. She said we'd have to bake her a pie as payment. :-) I guess she figures we've done this twice before, things are apparently working right, and I only have one partner. Why do them, eh?) She looked up and said that the baby was in the birth canal, only two knuckle-lengths away from the vaginal opening. A huge clear plastic mat was laid down on the floor and the birthing stool (which was a wooden cresent-shaped chair with carved handle bars on the sides) was pushed up right to the bed. We were ready to start the pushing. At first, we tried getting me down on my knees, squatting, with my hands on the birthing stool handle bars, but that was terribly uncomfortable for me as my knees were sliding on the plastic mat causing me to slowly do the splits. So I got up, sat on the birthing stool (which had two of those hospital absorbency mats draped over it), leaned back on RD (who was sitting on the edge of the bed with his legs on either side of me), and put my feet up on the midwife's knees as she sat on the floor in front of me sitting Indian-style. After a few lazy attempts at "pushing" (which was more of a "let's ride out the contraction instead"), my midwife confronted me saying, "Is there a REASON why you don't want to push?! Come on, make some noise. Grunt! Moan!" So, I did... and it worked! When a contraction hit, I made NOISE and I actually felt the desire to bear down (which was absent with Benjamin's birth, my first no-drug birth). My midwife helped me along by putting her fingers inside the birth canal near Cassandra's head and told me to push them out. It gave me something to focus on. As the baby's head crowned, she said something about the baby having a head-full of dark hair. RD got excited and tried to look down there and see for himself. I remember feeling an awful burning sensation- I even said something out loud about it. The midwife said the baby's head was right at the opening. She took her fingers and swiped around the vaginal opening helping it stretch a bit more. With one or two more pushes, the head was out (no tearing or episiotomy needed!). One more push and the rest of her body slid out, the midwife catching her (5:09am)- total pushing time: 25 min.s. Talk about immediate and intense relief! In a matter of seconds, the midwife placed Cassandra on my chest (I was still wearing a t-shirt) cord still attached and everything. I remember saying, "I did it! I did it!" while RD held me from behind looking down in awe at our daughter. Even though she was messy with birth she was so beautiful... and so alert. We took my shirt and bra off (modesty went out the window a long while back) and let her lay on my bare chest, covering her with receiving blankets to keep her warm. There was no screaming or fussing. She was so content and quiet... looking up at me and checking out her surroundings. After the umbilical cord stopped pulsing, the midwife let RD cut the cord. I had a couple of contractions and we knew I was about to deliver the placenta. The midwife grabbed the empty Schwann's ice cream tub we kept for the placenta and placed it between my legs. Cassandra went to daddy for a moment. The midwife was still sitting on the floor so she had me lean forward, put my hands on her shoulders, and she pushed a few times on my abdomen. After a couple pushes on my abdomen the placenta basically fell out into the ice cream tub. That was probably the yuckiest/goriest part of labor. We put a couple of those hospital absorbency pads between my legs and we walked back to the recliner where I nursed Cassandra. She was a natural pro right from the start! After letting her nurse just the one side, we all caravanned upstairs to the only bathroom with the tub, filling it with the herbal bath RD and the midwife had prepped earlier. Both Cassandra and I got in. Apparently with this herb bath, the baby can be submerged up to the head and it's ok- it actually helps heal up mommy and dry up baby's cord. Cassandra only liked it if we had her submerged up to her head. We took Cassandra out, dried her up and weighed her. Right there in the bathroom I ate cheese and crackers in the tub and the midwife did newborn screening stuff (like the APGAR) which she passed with flying colors. After I cleaned up and dried off, we all went back downstairs and I finished nursing Cassandra on the other side. At that point I started shivering uncontrollably. The midwife assured me this was normal as the blood that had rushed to my abdomen during labor was now returning to my outer extremities. The shivering went away after about 20-30 min.s. From 5am-10:30am, Cassandra nursed both sides 5 times! In fact, all that first day and night, that's ALL she wanted to do. And if she wasn't nursing, she wanted to be laying in my arms right up next to my bare chest. We were inseperable practically that entire first day and night.

Well... that's basically the story of my homebirth. Would we do it again? In a heartbeat! I realize that homebirthing isn't for every couple, but at least for us it was a perfect fit. We had an awesome midwife that not only educated us, closely monitored the pregnancy, and coached us during labor and delivery, but she really cared about us as a family. Unlike the 5 min./$80 visit to the OB where you're just a name and/or number on a chart somewhere, our midwife spent about 1 hour per prenatal visit (the initial consultation alone was 2 hours and free!) getting to know us as a couple, as parents, as a family. I'll write more in another blog about more of the pros we experienced in having our child at home. But for now, I'm signing off. Later-

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Pics of Cassandra

Benjamin and his little sis.

Arianna proudly displaying her little sister. She kept asking me for a little girl. Her wish came true.

Both dad and Cassandra are tired from the sleepless nights.

"I'm already a thumb-sucker."

This is Cassandra's typical sleeping pose... the gaping mouth.

Cassandra looking up at Grandma E.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

We had a baby girl!!!

I promise to get some pics and a story of our homebirth experience, but as of right now I just wanted to let everyone know we had a healthy BEAUTIFUL baby girl this morning. She was born at 5:09am, weighed 8lbs and was 19 in. long. Her name is Cassandra Leigh (still debating to nickname her Cassie) and boy does she ever like to nurse! I swear that's all I've been doing today! Our homebirth was absolutely wonderful- I would do it again hands down! There were absolutely no complications- praise God! My water broke yesterday at about 1:30pm but I didn't start having contractions until 1:30am. So between 1:30am and 5:09am, that was the extent of my labor! *yawn* Alright, I'm going to sign off now. I'll fill you all in with the gory details later. Thank you for all your prayers. Everything went SO smoothly.

Friday, May 19, 2006

It's time for BABY!!!

That's right folks! This afternoon (around 1:30pm) my water broke! I'm having contractions but nothing painful as of yet. Though I've had to contend with trickling amniotic fluid all afternoon, the not-having-pain thing freed me up to spend some last minute quality time with the kids, get their bags packed, and visit with a few friends and family. So now we're kid free and enjoying these last few moments alone together before the baby arrives. Not sure how much I'll be blogging after I sign off on this message, but for anyone interested, I'll give you the low-down on my homebirth experience afterwards. So far so good. Please pray for RD, the baby, and I, that all goes well and that the baby is healthy. This is such an exciting time!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

What the heck is a "trans fat"?

Ok, practically everytime I go to the grocery store I see the "no Trans Fat" emblem on all sorts of stuff. I hear about it on the radio. I see it on TV. I even got something from the FLYlady the other day talking about how we should consume a diet that eliminates as much of it as possible. (FLYlady went so far as to compare trans fats to dog poop.) What the heck is it and why on earth is it so bad for you?

Just for grins I started looking at the labels on the food that's in my pantry and it's unbelievable how many "normal" foods contain the fully/partially hydrogenated oils. The worst one I found yet was our peanut butter.

Saw the midwife today...

Saw my midwife this morning and baby looks fine and healthy. I measured right at 40 weeks so she's really not all that concerned about me being "overdue" as of yet. We decided together that we're going to wait until this upcoming Monday (5/22/06) to start natural induction. We'll start with a technique called a "cervical sweep" which is where she'll basically go in and sweep the opening of the cervix removing any leftover mucus plug and stimulating the cervix itself. She said it's sorta painful but most of her clients start labor within a day of having one done.

Here's some new info: because I was weaning Benjamin at the time I conceived and I wasn't yet having regular menstrual cycles, my midwife said it is quite possible that I didn't conceive baby #3 for up to 6 weeks after my last reported period! She said that makes it pretty tricky in figuring out a realistic due date. So... I could be right on schedule and not really "overdue" afterall. Only time will tell.

Monday, May 15, 2006

More on labor...

Talked with my midwife today and we went ahead and scheduled an appointment for this Wednesday AM. We'll be discussing whether or not RD and I are interested in using natural forms of "induction" (castor oil, manipulation of the cervix, etc.). She wanted to wait one full week from my "due date" before talking about induction as our dates may be incorrect (one full week will put me at this Thursday). I'm slowly coming to grips with the fact that one's due date is really a mere stab in the dark.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

I thought tonight was the night... :-(

At 6pm this evening, I started having constant/mildly painful contractions, felt especially right below the belly-button when I moved or walked. As the evening progressed, the menstrual-like cramping felt like it was getting worse. With great excitement, I packed an overnight bag for the kids (just in case) so they'd be ready to go to "uncle" Kris and "aunt" Rebekah's house. I called my midwife around 8:15pm to give her a "heads-up" and she told me to get as much rest as possible, sleep during (or between) contractions, and to call her as soon as I started having to "work through" some tough contractions. I then called Kris and Rebekah to give them a "heads up" as well but decided to let the kids sleep at home as this may be a false start to labor. After putting the kids to bed, I snuggled on the couch with RD (around 9pm) and slept while he played video games. Slept until about midnight (when I really had to go to the bathroom) only to find out that my contractions had stopped altoghether. :-( I tried puttering about the house, decluttering, getting the crockpot ready for tomorrow, getting the dishwasher ready to run, etc. hoping that I could conjure up the same contractions from earlier... but nothing. It's all so frustrating! I was so hopeful this evening because the cramping sensation was so similar to what I had when I went into labor with Arianna. But it stopped for some reason. -sigh- In God's timing... it's ALL in God's timing. I just need to be patient and bank on the fact that God knows exactly what will happen and when.

Friday, May 12, 2006

A day feels like a month

Benjamin was born one day before his due date... Well... May 10th has come and gone.

Arianna was born ON her due date... May 11th has come and gone.

Here it is, May 12th... and still no sign of impending labor. -sigh-

Ok, well, I've got this holiday weekend. All of my babies have been born on holidays. Arianna was actually born ON Easter Sunday and Benjamin was born on Labor Day weekend. There's still hope! Perhaps this kido is simply waiting for Mother's Day weekend, right?

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Nothing... Nothing...

For those of you who may be curious about labor updates... there isn't any! Nothing! I've been trying everything to shake this baby loose and nothing seems to be working. I've tried walks, I've tried moving furniture, exercise, excessive nesting, um... having alone time with RD, I've even tried praying! But alas... nothing happens. Here's a way cool fact about labor and delivery. I've always heard/thought that something in the baby's pituitary gland sends a signal to mom's body letting her know that they're all done cooking and want to come out... hence, the onset of labor. But according to my midwife, that's not true. She said that no one really knows why labor starts. It just does. Yet another beautiful example in my eyes that God exists and is in control of everything. Anyways, I will be sure and inform y'all when labor does start. I'll just wait until a contraction ends and blog real quick. ;-) The big day is this Thursday (11th) so any day now. (I feel like a walking time-bomb.)

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Psalm 63:1-8 and sleepless nights

"Oh God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; my soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. Thus I have seen You in the sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory. Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips will praise You. So I will bless You as long as I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name. My soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness and my mouth offers praise with joyful lips. When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches, for You have been my help, and in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy. My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me."

There was a little footnote in my Bible about v. 6 (in bold) concerning sleepless nights. Thought it was interesting, especially since I'll soon be experiencing many of those myself.

"A cure for sleepless nights is to turn our thoughts to God... There are many reasons we can't sleep- illness, stress, worry- but sleepless nights can be turned into quiet times of reflection and worship. Use them to review how God has guided and helped you."

I found this to be very encouraging this morning when I read it. Got me thinking and brainstorming about ideas on how I can "reflect and worship" the Lord when I'm in the midst of all those up-coming middle of the night feedings. Obviously having a Bible handy would be helpful. But maybe even having a hymnal on the nightstand, or a CD player near the bed with praise music to listen to, or a list of prayer requests for the family and baby to pray through while nursing. Hmmm... Instead of meditating on the amount of sleep I'm losing, I could be meditating on Scripture. It sounds like a no-brainer... don't know why I didn't think of it sooner. :-)

Friday, May 05, 2006


Read this and thought it was an interesting article about keeping romance alive even amidst the hullabaloo of life. With a new baby entering the scene soon, it would be very easy for RD and I to let things "slide" within our marriage as we'll be consumed for awhile with the needs of a newborn. But, it's imperative that we work diligently (daily) to keep our marriage fresh and vital. It amazes me to see how in-tune the children are to RD and I's relationship. When we're upset at one another, the kids sense it and are, in turn, irratable, moody, and disobedient. But when RD and I are actively loving on one another, it's like their worlds are ok and they are so much better adjusted and behaved. What a wonderful gift to give your children... a vibrant, beautiful, and growing relationship with your spouse.

Children helping in the kitchen

Here's a few recent pics of Benjamin "helping" me make cookies. Hey, sampling the dough is a very important process in cookie making. (I think he thoroughly enjoyed it!)

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

D. Family reflections on Parenting

Was crusin' through the Choosing Home website I mentioned in an earlier post and came across a wonderful article that reflects RD and I's heart concerning parenting. Here's the link to the article: Choosing Home Article

After much prayer and much diligence in seeking the Lord's wisdom in parenting, RD and I find ourselves drawn to such parenting experts like the Ezzo's and the Pearl's. But, as with any man-developed philosophy, nothing can compare to the flawless Word of God. The concept of "balance" has been key for us as we seek to honor the Lord in the way we parent. We are extremely leery of anything extreme. So even when looking to the Ezzo's and Pearl's for advice, we try desperately to measure it against the Word of God, our final authority.

Every couple must find the balance between the two extremes of permissiveness and authoritarianism. As Christian parents, we need to find that balance in light of God's Word. Hope this article helps you mothers out there that are struggling (along with RD and I) to find that precious, delicate "balance".