Friday, June 20, 2014

The Birth of Estella Maris


The Birth of Estella Maris

This is the long version...it's the only way I know how to do birth stories. :)

On Estella's due date, Luke left town for a soccer game in Charleston, SC.  {Several people thought we were crazy...but I didn't feel like the baby was coming anytime especially soon}. His team left earlier that morning on the team bus, but to hold out leaving as long as possible, Luke drove himself and didn't leave until about 5pm. He also only drove half way on Friday and drove the last three hours Saturday morning to minimize his distance from us should he have to turn around. 

What I thought would be my last belly pics--either 39+2 or 40+2 (I just know it was a Sunday :))
I had some contractions Friday and Saturday but nothing painful or close together. As soon as his game ended Saturday night, Luke started the six hour drive home to us {It makes me tired just to think about him driving a total of nine hours that day and playing a soccer game!}  Luke was anxious the whole time he was gone, worried that I would go into labor while he was away. Both of us were relieved when he started his drive home. Ironically, as soon as he was on the road, my contractions started getting more painful and consistent. We were hopeful that I would have the baby Sunday or Monday. But...that wasn't the case.

Having been through two labors before, I knew these contractions were not labor contractions. They were {mildly} painful and consistent, but they were also dependent on my position and didn't get progressively closer together or more painful. After days of having these contractions, I decided to stop taking the herbs my midwife had recommended to tone/prepare my uterus for labor. They were doing their job, but I figured all the contractions could be causing undue stress on the baby if my body wasn't ready—which is clearly wasn't. 

I was supposed to have a prenatal appointment on Tuesday, but my midwife, Nancy, had to cancel just as I was leaving to go to her house. I was disappointed because I was overdue and just wanted to know how I was progressing. So, the next day I called expecting to have an appointment, but Nancy said we would have to hold off another day because she needed to go visit the two new babies she delivered the day before. Emotionally, I wasn't doing well at this point. After a weekend of false labor contractions and then having my appointment postponed twice, I just wanted to be seen...and I was ready to have my baby.

Thursday afternoon I finally had my appointment. Luke and the kiddos came with me, which was great because Nancy hadn't met them yet. At the appointment, my midwife checked my progress. I was 2-3cm, and we asked her to stretch and strip my membranes. I was six days late, and I didn't feel super comfortable going past a week overdue. 

The evening I lost some mucous and had some cramping. More of the same continued in the morning. I remember calling my midwife on the way to an 11am doctor appointment for Gemma {she had a cough} to give her the update.  At that point, I was having contractions that took my breath away for a moment but nothing too crazy or consistent. After Gemma's appointment, Luke and I got the kids lunch and tucked them in for their naps, and I did last minute nesting!  I was running around getting laundry finished and cleaning up the house. 

At 1:30pm, I called Nancy to let her know I was having very painful contractions—I knew they were the real deal. Yet, I had been so busy running around that I hadn't timed them. Nancy said to time them for half an hour and then call her back. During that half hour Luke and I hung out—me lying on the bed during contractions—and took a couple final belly pictures. I think that is also when I called my family to ask them to say some prayers for us. 
41 Weeks!  Just 2 hours before we met our sweet Estella!
Smiling in between contractions.

Just after 2pm, I talked to Nancy and told her that my contractions were between 3.5 and 6.5 minutes apart--she said that she needed to be there!
Breathing through a contraction before Nancy arrived.
I am guessing Nancy arrived at 2:30/2:45pm, and I was 6cm dilated at that point.  She worked on getting her supplies set up, and Luke filled up the birthing tub. I labored in the water for a little more than an hour.  Probably around 4:30pm, I asked her to check me again because I was in so.much.pain, and I figured it must be time to push. 

Rosaries hanging on the edge of the tub in my line of vision to encourage me in my suffering.
j
Meanwhile, the kiddos woke up from their naps...and we were still without a sitter, as the people on our "list" were not yet available.  Luke turned on a show for them and came back to be with me.  The sitter showed up shortly.
My little Gem coming to say hi to Mama when she woke up from her nap.  How could I not smile with that ray of sunshine in the room?
Sure enough, I was ready to push.  I got back into the tub--we weren't insistent on having a water birth, but we were open to it.  However, I found myself to be too physically uncomfortable in the water and got out and onto the birthing stool.  Both Augustine and Gemma were born while I was in a bed, so the birthing stool was new for me but I thought it was good and helpful.  

The last twenty minutes of being pregnant, starting just before I got checked for the last time and ending with the birth of Estella were probably the most painful twenty minutes of my life.  Then again, maybe it just felt that way at the time!  Labor pain is so hard to remember--thank you, Jesus, for that!  Anyway, I pushed for probably ten minutes {my most common phrase during that time being, "I can't do this"--not great, but an improvement over the, "I'm going to die" that prevailed at Gemma's birth} and then our sweet Estella Maris was born.

While on the birthing stool, Luke was sitting on the bed right behind me to support me, and Nancy was in front of me to catch the baby.  It was neat being able to, more or less, see the baby being born.  Right when she came out, Nancy rested Estella on her leg so she could unwrap the cord from her neck, and then Estella came right up to my chest.  The way I was holding her was concealing her gender.  I asked Luke and Nancy if they knew if she was a boy or a girl, and neither of them did.  I rolled her away from my body to check and announced that she was a girl!  We were all happy and surprised--the same reaction we would have had if she was a boy, I suppose :).   

On my bed with my sweet baby girl just after she was born.  Nancy had been warming her blanket with a heating pad and then put it against her to keep her warm as we cuddled.
Nancy realized I was bleeding more than she would like and quickly gave me a shot of Pitocin.  Within a couple minutes after that, I delivered the placenta and moved onto my bed.  Augustine and Gemma, who were in the living room with a couple sitters when the baby was born, came in briefly to meet their baby sister.  Then we had the sitters take them out to Chick-Fila for dinner so we could relax with the baby and Nancy could do everything she needed to do.  {We also asked them to pick up sushi for our dinner!!  I always crave sushi while I am pregnant and have always wanted to have sushi and red wine for my first postpartum meal!}

Augustine and Gemma loving on their new baby sister.
Sushi and wine!!  Yum!
Proud Papa.




Nancy did my stitches while I cuddled and nursed my sweet girl.  I sucked down a protein drink and snacked on some almonds.  Nothing was rushed.  It was great.  At some point, Estella got her Vitamin K shot and was weighed/measured.  She was 7lbs, 3oz and 20 inches long--our heaviest baby by 6 ounces.      
Healthy baby!

I took an amazing herb bath that smelled delicious!  When Nancy left, just 3 hours after Estella was born, everything was all cleaned up, as though we had not just had a baby in our room! 

Our sitters arrived home with the kids around 8pm, bringing with them big smiles and sweet gifts for the baby.  Luke got them tucked in, and one of our sitters {who also happens to be a post-partum nurse at the hospital where Augustine was born} stayed around for another hour to to help us as needed.  She joined us for our sushi and wine, and then we called it a night.  
Our friend/babysitter/postpartum nurse, Priscilla!

My midwife, Nancy.
Having a home birth was everything we imagined it to be.  It is definitely not for everyone, but it is the ideal situation for Luke and my preferences.  We are so thankful that Nancy was willing to work with us so late in the game {I didn't meet her until I was almost 38 weeks pregnant!} and that we had a safe labor and delivery.  Glory be to God!!





Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Prelude to Estella's Birth Story

Estella's pregnancy was a little different than my other two--which were very similar.  The only significant difference between the first two is that Augustine arrived a week late, and Gemma surprised us by being nine days early! 
Spilling the beans!!  So excited for our new addition :)
Estella's pregnancy was routine for me in that I was nauseous until about 18/20 weeks, my iron levels were low, and I consistently measured small.  But overall, her pregnancy was more uncomfortable for me.  I had some {not too serious} varicose veins, which was probably more of a vanity issue for me than anything else {the things we go through for our babies...yet it is SO worth it!}  I also found it difficult to be pregnant through the {Colorado} winter because I wasn't able to get out and walk most days like I did with my previous pregnancies.
20 weeks pregnant--half way there!
And then there was the whole switching midwives and moving across the country at 37 weeks pregnant thing, which wasn't as stressful as most people assume but definitely brought it's fair share of challenges.  Most women are over being pregnant those last few weeks and just can't wait for their little one to arrive, but with so much going on with the move, Luke's season starting, and us getting settled, we really weren't ready for our new baby to arrive until a week before her due date.  I didn't even meet the midwife who would be delivering our baby at our home until I was almost 38 weeks pregnant!  Thankfully, she was calm and confident and positive about the whole thing from the start, which gave us a lot of consolation about our decisions regarding the baby's birth.

Ready to meet our little one...very pregnant {39 or 40 weeks}

Stay tuned for the part where the baby is born...soon, promise!

        

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Spoiler Alert

Well, folks, it's been awhile...a long while.  I think the biggest reason I haven't blogged in the past nine months or so is because my laptop crashed, and I do everything on my iPad now. 

And no one has time to blog on an iPad. 

Right now, I am sneaking onto my hubby's laptop, but since he works from home, these opportunities are few and far between. 

Anyway, I just wanted to quickly share with you our most exciting news since my last post...

On April 4th, we welcomed a beautiful baby girl into our family!  I had just found out I was pregnant around the time I stopped blogging.  I never meant to go this long without updating you all, but life happens.  We have had a very eventful nine months, and I hope to update you on the highlights of that time soon.

In the meantime, please welcome Estella Maris!!  Stay tuned for her birth story--hopefully in the next week or so.   
Our three littles after Estella's Baptism on April 13th. 

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Me and Running

Believe it or not, I used to run.  A lot, actually.  I started running my senior year of high school when I quit volleyball and soccer so I could run cross country and track for my school's team.  To be honest, I wasn't that good, but my natural niche for running--along with my competitive nature--made me good enough to do decent at that level.

The next year I walked onto my college track team at the University of Wyoming, a Division I school.  My race was the 800m (half mile), and I competed in several meets that year.  I mainly saw running as a good way to stay in shape and unfortunately wasn't really motivated to improve as a runner. 

Running at that level is a pretty painful endeavor--it is very mental and requires a lot of discipline.  I felt more pressure than I bargained for because from my perspective I was just doing it for "fun," but my coach expected more than that {and rightly so}.  Even though it was a great experience, I felt a sense of relief when I transferred universities in the middle of my sophomore year and quit running competitively entirely for the most part.
 
I didn't run consistently again until four years later when I decided to run a half marathon.  After twelve weeks of training, I ran the race with a friend, felt really good while I was running, and finished in one hour and fifty-one minutes.  And then I mostly stopped running again.

Why this trend?  Well, because running isn't fun.  Mostly, not even a little fun.  I mean I have had fun running, and I have had great runs, and I do always start to feel a little better about running five minutes into my run...but it's just so painful {which is mostly my fault--you see, I have a hard time just going out for a leisurely jog.  I have to run hard and fast or else it's just not worth it to me.  My goal is always to get it over with as quickly as possible...and the faster I run, the faster it's over}.   

So basically, this is my relationship with running:  I do it because I can and because it's good for me and because I like to train and set goals--but I don't do it because I love it because I don't love it...but I wish I did.  I don't hate it, but I don't love it either.  I guess it's a love/hate thing, heavy on the hate.    

Thankfully, as a Mom to small children, I feel like my "exercise" is built into my life--lifting weights babies all day, vacuuming {over crumbs}, unloading groceries {with one hand}, carrying two babies up flights of stairs {and bleachers at soccer games}.  And, of course, taking walks {whilst pushing a double stroller}.  These are all great forms of exercise in my book.    
 
Another reason I don't run {much} anymore is because for the past 4+ years, I have been pregnant, nursing, or both.  I am one of those people who gives up all strenuous exercise during pregnancy {though I am a firm believer in being in good shape for pregnancy and do take a lot of walks}. 

And, after Augustine was born, I never started exercising again because I didn't want to delay the return of my cycle. 

Which is fairly irrational.    

BUT, when your baby is 14 months old, still nurses through the night, you don't have your cycle back, and you are afraid youwillnevergetitbackandneverhaveababyagain you pull out all the stops...so, no strenuous exercise for me.

After Gemma was born, however, I consciously decided not to be irrational :).  Cycle or no cycle, I was going to pick a race and train for it.  When Gemma was 16 months old, it was still a "no cycle," but I decided it was time to run.

Now I have run a couple road races in the past few years without training for them. 

It's painful. 

That pesky competitiveness doesn't let me show up and walk/run--oh no, I run way faster than my body is expecting or ready for and then feel like I am going to die, literally going.to.die afterward.  See, running is fun...

So, this time I trained for 5 weeks and then ran in a 5K.  It was still a challenge and I pushed myself to meet my goal, but my recovery was so much better!  I actually placed first in my age group, which felt great...but is mostly comical and doesn't say much about my running.  It was a pretty small race, after all, and at 30 years old, I got the advantage in the 30-39 age group.  Still, it gave me hope that I still had a little something left, if I ever decided to become a runner again.

So, anyone who is thinking about becoming a runner, do it!  It might not be fun {or maybe it will for you}, but you CAN do it.  Just one foot in front of the other over and over and over...and it really does feel great when you finish!  Really!       

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Sailing

*This was from Labor Day 2011 when I was pregnant with Gemma. Somehow it got lost in the draft box {...with 48 of its friends...I'm so bad at blogging}.

Last Monday {Labor Day}, Luke and I thought it would be fun to rent a boat and spend some time on the lake in our neighborhood.  As we were approaching the rental stand--beach clothes on, picnic and towels in hand--Luke said, "If there's enough wind, we will get a sailboat; otherwise, we'll just get a paddle boat."  Because what fun would sailing be without any wind, right?  Right??

After speaking with the boy renting out the boats, Luke decided to go with the sailboat, which I was excited about.  I have enjoyed sailing the few times we have gone before, and with Augustine on deck, a paddle boat seemed like a lot of work.

So, off we went.  Augustine and I munched on our lunch, while Luke attempted to eat his sandwich--as he steered with one hand and magically balanced our boat across the water with the other by pulling and releasing a rope.  For those who haven't been sailing {with an amateur}, it requires a fair amount of concentration and focus.  I had to spoon fed Luke his pasta salad and take over the steering ever-so-briefly while he popped open his bottle of hard cider, but before we knew it a half an hour had passed and we were uneventfully on the other side of the lake.

That's where the trouble started.

In an effort to go perpendicular from where we had come, Luke maneuvered the rope and steering rod over and over again...but each time we could only get so far before having to catch the wind going the other way, resulting in our little boat doing circles for about 30 minutes.  At that point, Luke gave up on venturing into that part of the lake and we started heading back to shore. 

Up to this point, none of us felt like our lives or livelihood or good humor had been threatened.

Now is probably a good time to mention that Augustine started the boat ride wearing a t-shirt, diaper, and swimsuit, but after a few false "potty" alarms, in which I took off everything below his waist and held him over the side of our moving sailboat to do his business, we decided to leave him naked for awhile.  BUT awhile after that, we couldn't believe that he still hadn't peed, so we put his diaper back on just to be safe. 

Sure enough, only minutes later, I reach down to feel his diaper, and the warm sensation tells me that he has just peed {we are in the midst of potty training}.  "O'well," I think, "we are on a boat, so it's not like he could have gone on the potty anyway." 

So, here we are, on the opposite end of the lake from where we started, trying to get back to the dock.  I figured 30 minutes out, almost 30 minutes going in circles, and now 30 minutes back.  Ain't no thing. 

But it didn't turn out that way.  In fact it took us two hours, nearly capsizing on several occasions, Luke peeing in his empty cider bottle while sailing through rough waters, me nursing Augustine through the worst of the waves, a light rain, and some threats on my part to get back. 

Let's just say there was definitely enough wind!  

And what ever happened to Augustine and his diaper?  Well, like I said earlier, I knew he peed in his diaper, but then he was squatting down in the boat to play in the water that spilled over the edge of the boat when we nearly tipped {more than once}, making his diaper soggy and inflated.  At some point Luke noticed and said, "Augustine's diaper looks really wet!"  "Yeah, he sat in some water and made it balloon," I said, while flippantly reaching over with one hand to take it off for his comfort.  And, let me just tell you, there was a lot more than pee and pond water in that diaper...and now it was all over my arm!  By the time we got back, we all needed a shower...and I needed therapy.

*Day 3 of the 7 day blogging challenge down.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Seven Quick Takes: A Trip and Family Culture

Ok...bear with me.  I know it's not Friday anymore.  It's Monday.  But, I was hoping to get some more pictures for this post before I published it since I took, you know, one over the course of four days.  But since no one can get those pictures to me for awhile, I am just going to post this anyway.  Take that Day 2 of the 7 day blogging challenge.  I got this--totally got this :)  

1)  I took the kids to Massachusetts to visit my husband's family last weekend because he was on a long road trip for soccer--go ahead, tell me I am the daughter-in-law of the year.  A self-proclaimed martyr right here.  I kid, I kid {sorta}.  

2)  While we were spending our days cooling off in the pool, walking the mall, playing in the sand, visiting the aquarium, and eating ice cream like it was our job, my hubby was adjusting to a three hour time zone change, traveling from VA to Phoenix to LA to Vancouver, playing three soccer games in five days, and being generally exhausted.  On the bright side, being away from Gemma home meant he was sleeping through the night, which is always more than I can say.

3)  In all seriousness, spending time with my in-laws can be quite stressful for me, but I had this amazing Confession the day before we left for our trip {Thank God for that}, and I think it really helped.  I went into the weekend encouraged to have a positive attitude and inspired to be charitable, patient, meek, and merciful.  I wouldn't say I knocked the ball out of the park in practicing those virtues, but just having them on my mind and praying for them did seem to make a difference.  Baby steps.

4)  Augustine's favorite part of the trip was visiting the New England Aquarium.  Both he and Gemma love all things fish.  His eyes were glued to the tanks as he excitedly identified several of the fish he has seen in books--and, of course, in Finding Nemo {pretty cute when he shouts, "it's Nemo!!" but even better when he shouts, "it's a powder-blue surgeonfish!!"  Thank you very much, Animal Encyclopedia}.       

5)  My favorite part of the trip {in close contention with eating ice cream from Dairy Twist every night...} was watching the kiddos interact with their aunts/uncles/grandparents.  In the past, they have both been shy and clingy during our visits, but this time {thanks to Skype?}, they both seemed pretty comfortable just doing their thing and enjoying the family. 

6)  Perhaps on this trip more than any other, I realized how differently my husband and I were raised.  I am not here to say which way is better, as I am sure there are pros and cons to both of our upbringings, but as a psychology major, it is really quite intriguing.  {Obviously, parental/family influences are huge, not to mention the impact of culture/geography--growing up in the midwest vs the east coast}.

7)  Some of the differences seem really minute, like the fact that my husband's family never locks their doors, or even shuts them for that matter.  And then you have my family where everything was always locked {totally developed some OCD up in here}.  And there then are some weightier issues that would be boring to talk about here but that I definitely have opinions on.  I want to sit down with Luke and decide how we want those issues {and even the minute ones} to look in our family.  I want to write out a "family culture."  A mission, of sorts, to outline what is good and acceptable and expected and normal for us.  A little family identity, if you will.  I think that's important.

This is day two for me of the seven day blogging challenge hosted by Jen.  I wanted to join the party sooner...but, alas, my computer was broken.  It has been great reading blogs all week via my iPad, but typing on my iPad?  No time for that!     


     

Sunday, July 28, 2013

What I Wore Sunday: Mint

Happy Sunday, Ladies!! 

This morning our family enjoyed blueberry pancakes before Mass.  As we had run out of the "just add water," variety, I whipped up some of these {+blueberries}, and they were amazing!  Both my little ones gobbled them up--slathered in a think layer of peanut butter, of course, because that's how we do it around here.  As an added bonus, the recipe uses half whole wheat flour, as well as apple sauce instead of oil--a keeper for sure.

We decided last minute to attend the 8:30am Mass instead of the 11am Mass, so I only had 20 minutes to get the kids and myself ready!  Since I didn't have a lot of time, I grabbed the dress I just bought to wear to my brother-in-law's rehearsal dinner {...in less than two weeks!  So excited for Christian & Jacquie!}.  I tried it on at Marshell's, whilst corralling my two youngsters into the dressing room stall over.andover.andover.  At one point, I did have to run out of the dressing room with my shirt half off to grab an escapee.  Fun. 

Amid the chaos, I was able to catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror, and I fell in love with this dress.  I really like the color, and it makes me feel feminine.


 Dress: Pinky{?} via Marshell's
Chunky Heels: Merona via Target
Earrings: handmade from New Mexico--Christmas gift from my aunt
Bracelet:Stella & Dot--raffle prize at MOPs
Ring: Francesca's
Little Miss is wearing a dress from Children's Place.
    
In his homily, our priest cited an article he read about the plight of America {sorry, I don't remember the source--I was listening, whispering a book to my baby, and trying not to be drawn on by my toddler all at the same time ;)}.  Basically, the author of the article suggested that we are a nation of hedonism, relativism, and materialism {and one more equally uplifting -ism that I can't remember right now}.  As depressing as it was, I know there is truth to it. 

He also mentioned that Princeton professor, Peter Singer {the same winner who supports infanticide}, believes that anyone who prefers the human species to any other species is guilty of "speciesism," in the same vein as racism {gag me}. 

On the bright side, he also talked about Pope Francis' beautiful new Encyclical, "Lumen Fidei" ("The Light of Faith").  You can read an overview of the encyclical here.      

Hope you all have a great Sunday!  Visit Fine Linen and Purple for more WIWS!

My computer has been broken for the past month or so...making it impossible for me to blog.  However, I have been reading blogs galore, via my iPad and have really been wanting to participate in Jen's 7 days of blogging challenge...so I am starting today!  Wish me luck!