Wednesday, October 29, 2014

10 Things I've Learned in Our First Year of Marriage

1. Make plans and throw them out the window.
For example: the much longer, less ideal labor we experienced last week and celebrating our first anniversary in sweatpants and a newborn baby for a shirt.

2. Consider his dreams and chase them together.
Daniel is GREAT at this--he's always encouraging me in my goals and offering to help in any way he can.  Without him, this blog and photo business wouldn't exist--he constantly reminds me to keep a "What's the worst that could happen?" attitude about putting myself out there, which isn't always in my nature.  He has no interest in writing or photography, but because he has an interest in me, he invests himself in it and cheers me on.

3. Take opportunities to miss each other.
Daniel and I spent a few nights/weekends apart this past year when one of us was traveling for work.  Even though there are many nights we don't even touch (hey, I've been pregnant all year and not always feeling super cuddly), I found it incredibly hard to fall asleep without him. At the beginning of the year I'd try to talk myself out of missing him--"Married or not, I'm still an independent woman!" Blah blah blah. I eventually realized giving in to pining after my husband made me stop, reflect, and appreciate him and our life together so that when we saw each other again I was excited and affectionate rather than coldly self-sufficient. 

4. Kiss hello and goodbye.
Every morning when Daniel leaves he leans over our bed to kiss me. He's had a crazy busy year at work and could easily let that consume him, but this small gesture makes me feel like he's still mindful of putting me first.  Because of that, I try to be downstairs and undistracted when he gets home so I can open my arms and ears to show appreciation for his work ethic and that I missed him throughout the day.

5. Throw away your expectations.
This one. This one is my struggle.  Daniel could book us a trip around the world for my birthday, but if I was hoping for fresh flowers, I'd act disappointed.  Get rid of your rule book on how your spouse should love/surprise you and just be together.  If he does something out of the ordinary to express his love, great! If not, don't punish him--instead, appreciate how he takes care of you on a daily basis and keep his love languages in mind, too.  He might be putting in more effort than you realize.

6. Keep learning.
You may live together, but you don't know all there is to know about your spouse. Don't let yourself get bored, because there's no reason to--ask lots of questions and try new things together.  Lately Daniel and I have been doing a lot more childhood storytelling--having Edie here and dreaming about experiences we'd like to give her is making us reflect a lot. And it's fun! I love learning about the experiences that made my husband the man he is.

7. Hug/kiss/touch after an argument.
You may not want to (I usually don't), but it works--I promise.

8. Be needy.
Everyone likes to feel like an expert on something, I think.  Don't try to do something your spouse is better at by yourself.  I don't know how many times Daniel has asked me, "Why didn't you ask for my help?"  after I failed at a project.  We all want to feel needed, and working on something together reminds us that we're on the same team.

9. Budget for the unexpected.
Again--a baby, for example. Or your kitchen plumbing getting backed up two days before your due date.

10. Remember who made your spouse.
Before you let yourself think your husband is pretty much the worst/most annoying human being on the planet (I mean, how dare he leave a few pieces of cereal in the sink? He obviously did it just to show how little he appreciates you cleaning the kitchen when he was at work!), remember whose he is and the vows you made between the three of you.  Is it worth it?

Cheers to year two and fighting to keep the newlywed feelings alive! 


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Meeting Eden: Baby Girl's Natural Birth Story (Part Two)


"I bet we have a baby by noon!" Teresa said as Alice Ann filled the tub and Daniel helped me undress and get in. Teresa told me to try hands and knees because discomfort probably meant Edie was moving down and putting pressure on my bottom through each contraction.  I stayed in the tub as long as I could stand the heat. Daniel wiped cold towels along my neck and rubbed my back with lavender oil, and pretty soon I felt the urge to poop, which was what we were waiting on.  That sensation means your body is ready to push, and when you can't help but give in, it's go time.  Even though I'd learned this, I was pretty tired by this point from staying up all night with diarrhea and contractions two minutes apart. I told them I thought it could be the castor oil coming back to get me, so I got out of the tub and sat on the toilet.  Nothing came out--I figured it was time to bring this babe into the world.

I told them I'd planned to try squatting, so they brought me a birth stool so I could rest my legs for the first bit of pushing while in the squat position. I began pushing three to four times with each contraction.  I asked Teresa how I could know if I was doing it right, and she told me to use the same muscles I would during a bowel movement. Alice Ann placed a hand mirror under me so I could see how things were opening up.  I stayed on the stool for a while, and my contractions started to space out.  We talked a lot in between them until I realized things were stalling.  I asked what I could do to "get her out faster," and Teresa told me to walk around the room to see if that helped like it did earlier that morning. I took two steps and a contraction came on strong, so I hurried back into my squat on the stool and pushed.  I ended up doing this little get up, take two steps and sit back down to push dance for the next hour. After no signs of progress, Alice Ann suggested I stay standing and slow dance with Daniel. He supported me through contractions as I stood in a wide-legged squat and leaned into him.  

At this point I started to feel a little discouraged, like I wasn't doing it right.  Teresa offered to check baby's position.  I got on the bed and she waited for a contraction to feel for Edie's head.  This is when we found out she was stuck behind my pubic bone, which wasn't moving for her the way it was supposed to.  Teresa told me to turn on my side and push for two contractions and then roll over and push for two more to see if we could wiggle her down.  Side lying made me feel like crawling into a hole to die, and I remember asking if they could just pull her out.  They kept telling me I was going to bring her down and each push moved muscles and made progress.  I asked if they could see her head and they said no, but that didn't dictate whether or not I was moving her.

It was two or three o'clock by this point, and I was really starting to doubt their encouragement. I was mostly starting to doubt myself, and I began saying things like, "I can't do this." I had never felt so exhausted, and we still couldn't see Eden's head. I thought she might not even be real--we weren't getting anywhere.  I asked if I could just go to sleep and start over tomorrow, but I knew that wasn't possible with the pain I was in. I begged them to let me take a break and get in the shower so Daniel could rub my back.

We stood in the shower for an hour or two and I squatted and tried to push with each contraction. I was crying again and Alice Ann brought me the birth stool to sit on under the water.  I told her I couldn't do it. "And I'm not just saying that--ask Daniel, I'm an incredibly determined person but I really have nothing left. I can't push anymore--my body is done." She kept telling me to say, "I can do this" out loud, but I wouldn't. I crawled off the stool and onto the floor, where I stayed in the hands and knees position for a few minutes before collapsing against the wall. I couldn't see straight. "I'm going to pass out. I'm passing out," I told them, and Alice Ann asked me if I would drink tea if she made me some. I said, "I don't know," and Daniel started forcing me to take sips of water.  

I asked if this is what it felt like to be dehydrated because I'd never been before.  I realized I'd had less water in the past 24 hours than I usually drink over the course of an hour any given day, and I'd been up all night having diarrhea. "I have nothing left," I told them again.  By this point it was past six.  Teresa suggested I get back on the bed and push on my side again and she'd check to see if I was using the right muscles.  Daniel helped me across the room and I got on the bed, but I couldn't get myself to really push.  "I know we're doing this all naturally, but would you be up for an IV of sugar water? It's not a medical intervention--you just need some energy." Teresa asked.  I told her I didn't care at this point and that they could send me over to the hospital and cut me open. "It's been over 24 hours, isn't my time up?"  She told me that since I was progressing we could stay there. I didn't think I was progressing.

I got hooked up to an IV while Daniel rubbed my back, and I soon found myself starting to talk and joke around again.  I asked Daniel to take my top leg and hold it, and I began pushing on my own.  Alice Ann said, "Yes, Jordan! Good!" and Teresa said she was going to use her fingers to push against the muscles I should be using.  It hurt REALLY badly and kind of made me mad, so I pushed back as hard as I could. She said I was moving the muscles around my pubic bone so it could move out of baby girl's way. I alternated sides and pushed for a while, but her head still wasn't coming down.  I moved to all fours--nothing.  My contractions started to space out again, and after a while they were over ten minutes apart. I had more energy, but my body was over it.

"Why are they slowing down?" I asked Teresa.  She said my uterus was tired--I'd been pushing since 10 a.m. and in labor since yesterday--most women don't last that long.  After a long stretch of very few contractions, she brought in an herbal tincture to put under my tongue and an electric breast pump (nipple stimulation can bring on strong contractions).  After hooking me up for twenty minutes, my contractions were back and stronger than ever. I pushed, and as soon as each contraction was over, they'd hook me back up to the pump. Suddenly I didn't feel any relief--they were coming one on top of another. Baby's head was still nowhere to be seen, though. I asked at what point we would give up and I'd get transferred, and Teresa said we'd evaluate in an hour, but we could have a baby by then.  

Alice Ann had been checking Edie's heart rate with a doppler every 15 minutes, and baby girl wasn't phased at all by the long labor or crazy contractions.  Teresa kept telling me it was completely due to my rigorous exercise routine throughout my pregnancy, and Alice Ann told me most women would have been transferred for a c section hours ago due to the baby getting stressed out.  As the night went on, they would laugh each time they listened to her heart beat. "She's just hanging out in there," Teresa would say.

Sometime around nine, she said, "Okay, I hate even suggesting this and you're going to hate it, too. But this is our last resort. We're going to do hospital position for a couple of contractions--just a couple, okay? Get on your back and pull your legs wide."

I did as I was told. I pushed and made all kinds of crazy low Tarzan woman noises.  It was uncomfortable.  Teresa asked me if I could hold my breath while pushing, and I tried it.  Daniel was rubbing my arms and shoulders when she yelled, "Yes--a full head of dark hair!" And Daniel jumped up to stand behind her. I pushed again, and he exclaimed, "I see her, babe! She has a full head of hair! I see her!" I asked him if he really saw her and he was so excited, I had to believe him. That was all I needed--she existed and her daddy could see her--I had to get her out so we could meet her.

I stayed in that position for a while before getting up on my own accord. I crawled off the bed and all of a sudden being upright forced me to push harder--I felt like baby girl was trying to crawl out of my bottom.  I squatted beside the bed and gave it everything I had, and I guess based on how I looked and sounded, Alice Ann knew it was time to grab the mirror and put gloves on. Joy, a birth center nurse, came into the room at some point to assist in caring for us post-birth. 

"I had planned on catching her, but babe, do you want to catch her? Can Daniel catch her?" I asked while trying to breathe. Alice Ann explained to him that she would back him up but he could catch her, and to let her turn her head.  

Teresa told me to look down at the mirror with my next push if I could keep my eyes open.  I yelled something like, "My baby! I see my baby!" and I felt her head move.  "Is there anything I need to know about this whole 'ring of fire' business?" I asked.  Alice Ann told me it would be any minute, and Teresa said she could talk me through it but I'd really have to listen to her instructions. I asked what I needed to know and she said to let her crown and then let off--let her rock back so she could stretch me gradually, and then push her to crowning again and hold her there.  Then I could do little grunt-pushes and ease her head out. "But I can talk you through it when we get there," she said.  I guess I wasn't up for waiting, because I held the next push as long as I could until she crowned, sucked in a big breath, and pushed again, then did as I was told with the little pushes.  I heard Alice Ann and Teresa both saying, "Good! Good, Jordan!" so I figured we were doing okay.  Daniel asked if it burned and I said, "It burns, but it's not that bad." I felt more calm than I'd felt all day--I was working to bring my baby out.

And suddenly, her cone head was between my legs and I noticed how much bigger it was than I expected.  I put my hands on her hair and listened to Alice Ann explain to Daniel to let her turn and throw up, and then she would probably be out with my next push. Daniel tells me she did just that--I could only see the back of her head--and then Teresa said I could bring her out whenever I was ready. 

At 11:08 p.m., 31 hours after my water broke, I took a deep breath and held it. I don't remember what that last push felt like, but I do remember standing up and turning around so my husband could hand my daughter to me.

"It's a boy!" I yelled as he passed her to me backward and I felt between her legs before I could see her. Everyone burst out laughing as I realized it was just the umbilical cord and I was more tired than I thought. 

Eden let out a big cry and I asked if I could do skin to skin.  Alice Ann helped me onto the bed and put a blanket over the beautiful baby girl on my chest. Edie latched fairly quickly as the birth team wiped blood off of us.  When the cord stopped pulsing, Daniel cut it and I delivered the placenta.  Alice Ann was checking our latch when I suddenly felt a strong, warm flow of liquid between my legs.  "I think I'm bleeding," I told her and Teresa checked me and said I needed a shot to stop it immediately.  They ended up giving me two shots--my body wanted to get rid of everything after 30 plus hours of labor, I guess.  They cleaned me up and informed me I didn't tear (hooray!).

Joy checked our vitals as Eden nursed, and when everything looked good, the three of us were left alone to bond for a little bit.  We stared at our girl and picked apart her little features.  We decided she looks like her mommy (which we've been told by everyone who has met her since then) but has her daddy's feet, for sure.  Daniel told me he was so proud of me. I told him I couldn't believe we did it after all of that--I really didn't think I was going to be able to.

Alice Ann and Joy came back in to check our vitals again and record all of Edie's measurements.  She weighed seven pounds, four ounces and was nineteen inches long.  Joy helped me up and told me they wanted me to try to pee, which I was able to do just fine. She cleaned the blood off of my legs and asked if I could wipe the blood out of my butt crack because she wanted to leave me with "a little dignity," which I found funny considering I'd been naked in every position imaginable in front of the birth team all day long.

Alice Ann brought me my clothes and I got dressed before getting back in bed.  Joy went over postpartum care for both baby and me and then left us to get our stuff together and get Edie dressed.  She checked our vitals one more time, then watched us put the babe in her carseat, and we were headed home just before the sun came up.


Although my labor was long, I wouldn't change a thing. My husband was not only by my side the whole time, he played an active role in keeping me relaxed and recognizing where I was in labor based on how I was acting.  The care and encouragement I received at the birth center pushed me to do the most challenging, most beautiful thing I've ever done, and we are forever indebted to Kameron, Teresa, Alice Ann and Joy for helping us bring our baby girl into the world.  

Also, the recovery has been AMAZING--I was able to get up and walk immediately and I felt like myself the next day. It's been awesome not having any pain distracting me from catering to little lady. :)


Monday, October 27, 2014

Meeting Eden: Baby Girl's Natural Birth Story (Part One)

My water broke on Friday, October 17th at 4:05 p.m. I had my bloody show the night before and woke up with somewhat strong contractions, and by about three they were a steady six minutes apart.  I had done my morning workout, cleaned the house and taken a shower, then decided I should try to rest and read a little to see if anything changed and it was just the false labor I had been experiencing for weeks. By four they were stronger and four minutes apart.  I told myself I'd get up, go downstairs for some water and call Daniel if they were still going after that--I was kind of in denial. I rolled over and stuck my right leg out to climb out of bed, and there it was--the big gush we were hoping wouldn't happen until well into labor. I was Group B Strep positive, which meant I couldn't stay home to labor if my water broke.  I had to get to the birth center ASAP for antibiotics because Edie was now exposed to the bacteria.  (GBS isn't dangerous to adults--it's a common bacteria we carry that sometimes colonizes in the birth canal--one in four pregnant women tests positive for it shortly before their due date and has to receive IV antibiotics every four hours during labor to prevent baby from inhaling the infection.)

So at 4:08, after changing my shorts, I called Daniel and told him to come home.  He called the birth center on his way, and we were there within an hour. He said, "I'm so excited, babe!" about 10 times during the 20 minute drive--I love him.  I received my first dose of antibiotics and then the midwife on call, Kameron, sent us out to get dinner and walk around Target. She said we should enjoy our evening together and get my mind off of labor--anxiety and feeling pressure to move things along can stall the process.

So we slowly made our way through Target as my water leaked through my pad and down my sweatpants.  I had that I'm-dreaming feeling the whole time--nothing felt real--I didn't care my pants were soaked in public. I thought we were going to meet our girl that evening, and I couldn't really care about anything else.

My contractions picked up in intensity while we were out. I ended up walking circles around our car in the Chipotle parking lot while Daniel ordered our food.  We half-watched Moonrise Kingdom in the lobby of the birth center while we ate and I bounced on a yoga ball. After my second dose of antibiotics, Kameron checked me for the first time.  I was at four centimeters.  She suggested we try to get some rest for a few hours because she thought we might have "a long day ahead of us." That was the first time a long labor had even crossed my mind and I hoped she was wrong, but we took her advice.  We took a hot shower (the BC is set up like a spa--each room has a big bed, giant soaking tub, and big walk-in shower) and Daniel rubbed my back so I could try to relax. When we got out I realized how uncomfortable lying down was at this point, so I sat up criss-cross-applesauce on the bed and sort of hummed through contractions.  I did this for the next few hours as Daniel stroked my arms and hands.

Kameron came back for more antibiotics and told us she didn't want to wait until 20 hours into labor to get proactive.  (Since my water broke, I had 24 hours to get the babe out before I was sent to the hospital for a c section due to the risk of infection becoming too great.)  She asked if I was up for taking castor oil--a natural laxative that has been used to intensify labor/contractions for a long, long time.  She brought it to me mixed with juice and I chugged it before I could think about it. I was on the toilet within the hour (this is probably a good time to warn you--this isn't really the beautiful, easy natural birth story I dreamed I'd have, but it got Edie here so I wouldn't change a thing).

After several more hours of bed-sitting and emptying my bowels, Kameron came back and suggested I get in the bath.  She was about to be off the clock and told us Teresa would probably check me shortly after she arrived.  I tried out various positions in the tub and was surprised by how uncomfortable hands-and-knees was--I figured it'd be one of my go-to labor positions after we learned a bunch of them in our Bradley class.

Teresa came in as I was getting out of the tub and we filled her in on how things were going. She observed me through a few contractions and suggested we take a short walk by the lake out back before she checked me.  I got dressed and we went outside, where we made it maybe all of 20 feet down the trail before we turned around, and that took a ridiculous amount of time because I was having to stop and lean against Daniel through each contraction. We got back to our room around seven and Teresa checked me.  I was at seven centimeters and relieved to hear I was definitely in active labor. I asked her how long she thought it'd be before I hit transition and was ready to push, and she said something about thinking we could have a baby by 9:30 because the process of getting from seven to 10 was generally pretty quick.

She was right about the last part--I was at a 10 by 10 a.m. after crawling around the birth center on all fours and taking another hot shower.  Transition came on strong and I found myself kneeling over the bed crying and shaking uncontrollably. I had told myself I'd be a lovely, silent laborer, but suddenly my quiet humming through contractions turned to low, loud moaning. I didn't plan it, but I remember reading it in Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, and it definitely provided a little relief.  Teresa came in with Alice Ann, the midwifery student we'd had the privilege of getting to know a little at our last few prenatal appointments, and they assured me this was transition and that meant we were getting close to meeting baby girl.


Part two coming soon--it gets more exciting! (Hint: I have a baby!) :)


Sunday, October 26, 2014

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Edie's First Week

This time last week I was beginning hour six of pushing out the sweetest babe. I'd do it all over again for this face, no question.  But more on that story later :)

This little lady has completely captured our hearts.


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Fall, Leaves, Fall

Every leaf speaks bliss to me
Fluttering from the autumn tree.

-Emily Bronte, "Fall Leaves Fall"

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Fresh Apple Fall Treats

As yummy as pumpkin-flavored everything is, I'm a huge fan of fresh apple in the fall (and all the time!), too.  And with the best farmers market around, I'm itching to try a few new recipes.





Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A Love Letter to You, Dear Readers

Dear Sweet Readers/Wonderful Friends,

I love you.  I need to get better at telling you that.  You are such an encouragement to me--as I open my life to you daily, you welcome me with so much love.

I've received some of the kindest words from you throughout the past year, especially following a big victory (our wedding, getting pregnant, buying a house) or huge trial (the babe's first ultrasound).  You've been there through the celebrations and the sorrows, and for that I want to say thank you.

I know my blog isn't one of the prettiest or most popular and it probably never will be, but I continue to write every day because of this unexplainable connection I feel with you, my community, my friends. Thank you for doing life with me, cheering me on in my faith and marriage and encouraging me in this new journey toward motherhood.  I long to make you proud, but even more so I long to live my life openly and honestly so you might not feel so alone in some of the less lovely moments.  I hope to continue getting better at sharing mine with you.

I love you. You are so wonderful.  I wish I could send each one of you flowers.


Monday, October 13, 2014

First Anniversary Idea: Plant A Tree

Last weekend Daniel and I explored the most wonderful local nursery, Westwood Gardens, in search of the perfect anniversary tree.  We're just looking for now, but it was a fantastic fall-feeling day and the Japanese Maples were turning all kinds of beautiful colors--it was awesome.  

When I was trying to come up with a gift idea under the paper theme for our first anniversary, I immediately thought I might need to put a little spin on it to make it something Daniel might really enjoy.  Guys just don't like pretty Rifle Paper Co notebooks and stationary like we do.  :)

After visiting this nursery without him, I decided to clue Daniel in on what I was thinking so I could know what kind of tree he'd like and where he might want to put it before I went about digging a big ol' hole in our yard.  We decided to go look together. 

I'm not sure if and when we'll purchase a tree, but our trip to Westwood Gardens made for a lovely little afternoon date! I got a little distracted by all the pretty succulents. Can you blame me?

Happy gifting, lovebirds!


Sunday, October 12, 2014

40 Weeks Bumpdate

So, here we are, friends--the babe is due and I'm still very pregnant.  No real complaints though--it's  common to go past your due date--we've been prepared for this.  We are very excited, of course, but I'm also feeling a new sense of peace about letting her come when she's ready.  It'll be very soon, no matter what! That doesn't mean we aren't thinking about pulling out all of the natural at-home stops soon--we have our 40 week appointment tomorrow morning and we'll be discussing those kinds of things with our midwife.  The birth center likes to avoid going too far past a due date because they don't want us to have to go through the stress of scheduling an induction date and have it hanging over our heads and forcing us to try and beat the clock, which I really appreciate.  I will say I hope this is our last bumpdate, but she may very well still be cozy where she is next week.


Baby Size: Possibly nearing or at 8 pounds now. Please come soon, homegirl--I don't really want to push out a teenager! :)

Weight Gain: Still at 17 pounds.

Symptoms: Woke up with painful contractions a couple of times this week, but they fizzled and I was eventually able to fall back asleep, so not the real deal.  I get lots of them when I work out, too.  Feeling pretty intense hip and low back discomfort, especially if I do anything for too long--lie down, bounce on my yoga ball, walk, clean, anything. I have to change what I'm doing often.  

Exercise: Well, I kept running six days a week up to my due date! I really can't believe it--that was my "Haha, yeah right--that would look ridiculous" goal.  It makes me want to tell every newly pregnant mama, "You can do it--I am NOT a runner--if I can do it you can do it!"  So my routine this past week has been the same, plus a lot more hip hop dancing randomly throughout the day and running up and down the stairs over and over.  

Cravings:  Daniel fulfilled my fair food craving from last week by bringing home the most incredible gluten free batter recipe and ingredients--we may have spent a good chunk of the weekend making corndogs, fried cheese, fried pickles, and apple fritters.  YUM. What else are you gonna do when you haven't made any plans because you don't know whether or not you'll have a baby this weekend?

Edie, when will your birthday be? We are so excited to meet you!


Saturday, October 11, 2014

Saturday Morning

Fall is the happiest season, our neighborhood is kind of really cute (as is our pup), and my husband makes delicious breakfast. I'm one thankful lady.