Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Introducing Lorelai

Alright. I don't know how ready I am to write this, but it needs to be done. I don't know why, but this birth story seems more vulnerable and humbling than all the others. Probably because I went in a cocky know-it-all and then nothing went the way I thought it was going to. Ready for this ride? Here we go.

The day started out with excitement of course. The boys were with my parents, so in the house we had me, Roger, the girls, my doula Kristy ( , the doula she was training (Bailey), 4 midwives (, and a few of my friends (Susie, Ruby, and Kellie). The plan was this- Everyone arrives at 8:00AM. We break my water at 8:30 AM. I have contractions in the birthing pool until about 10:00. Then it's time to get out and push a baby out. Done by 10:30. Cleaned up and everyone gone home by noon. 

Heavenly Father, though, had very different plans for the day. I'd gotten several blessings throughout the previous weeks. They had promised me the birth I wanted. They had promised me that she would be born healthy. They promised me that I would have the strength to deliver this baby safely at home. All those things happened. I just didn't know that the birth I wanted was not the one I had planned...

(this is how I feel about red raspberry leaf tea. Super gross, but I was trying to behave and drank as much as I could choke down)

Everyone did come at 8:00, as expected. It took about half an hour to set up the birthing pool, get my stats, see where baby was and establish introductions or what not. Then we figured it was time to get this party started. We went upstairs to have the midwives break my water, but when they checked to see where Lorelai was, she had moved way up in my uterus. Why does this matter? Because if baby isn't where she needs to be and my water breaks, the umbilical cord is likely to start coming out with the fluid, followed by baby's head, which could prolapse the cord. If the cord is prolapsed, baby gets no oxygen. SO- we didn't want my water to break before Lorelai was properly in place. The midwives jostled her into place and then tied my waist super tight to hold her in place. We did this pretty much all morning. I was having contractions the whole time, but not always crazy strong ones. 

Around 10:30, the midwives needed to leave for a few minutes. They presented me with Castor oil (in apricot juice so it wouldn't be so yucky) and told me it was completely up to me if I used it and explained that the adverse side effects are exactly why it works to induce labor. They left and I asked for a priesthood blessing. Roger had given me several, so I felt a little guilty asking for another, but this one was a blessing of healing, so it needed 2 people instead of one and also used anointing oil. Jared, Susie's husband, came and helped with that. At first, I was just as frustrated as before since the blessing used words like, "in time" which are very vague to me. The blessing did say I'd have the strength to deliver her, though, so that was comforting. Kristy told us later that during the blessing is when she could feel Roger's parents there the strongest. I decided at that point that the grossness of drinking castor oil would be worth it if it meant that Lorelai would come same day. So I drank it...

And then had a good cry. I was SO frustrated. Emotionally and physically. Here we had reached the time of day when I thought I would be about DONE giving birth and the end still seemed forever away. I was starting to feel like I was holding my friends and everyone hostage. They hadn't signed up to be here all day! Luckily, everyone was So supportive. 

I tried really hard to be up and moving as much as I could, but I ended up spending most of the day on the birthing ball. Juliana was an amazing doula and helped rub my back and my arms. At one point in the day, she was playing with my hair and I'm surprised how much that relaxed me. Paisley did her part as well making sure I was fanned down when I got hot.

Around 1:15, after I had been checked again and my water had again not been broken for the same reason, contractions were at least strong enough that no amount of relaxing was going to make them stop. I decided to get in the birthing tub- that lasted like, 10 minutes total. The water was pretty toasty and it was strange to be in the middle of the room with so many people and my butt hanging out. I also tried to eat a little bit, but the heat made me totally nauseated. When I got out, I sat on the birthing ball again, but totally felt faint. Roger was holding me and I let him know that I felt like I was going to pass out. They got me to the couch and gave me oxygen and checked my blood pressure and oxygen. I had to sit there for a while.

After that, Roger and I went upstairs to just be alone for a minute (get your mind out of the gutter- that was NOT happening today!). It was kind of at that point that I realized how stressed out I was about having a full audience. I tried to take a nap, but that also wasn't happening. I went outside and visited with the midwives for a while. My contractions started picking up, so we decided one more time to see about my water breaking. (We made good use of the tub, later, though when Paisley put on her swimsuit and had the time of her life for almost an hour!).

Same story. I felt SO defeated!! Heck, at this point, all they could feel was Lorelai's hand, not even her head. At that point, we also realized that every time I was leaning forward or spending time on my hands and knees that she was popping out of my pelvis, so whatever progress we'd made to that point was completely gone. My new instructions were to lie on my back or side. I was "ordered" to take a nap (I say ordered because it  was more of a very strong suggestion and given with complete love.) Everyone agreed to go to dinner at that point, which, turns out, was exactly what I needed. I took a little nap and then things started happening.

When I woke up (around 6:15), the only people at my house were my girls and my doulas and Roger. I sent Roger to go get me a salad because I realized how hungry I was. He left and I came and sat in the recliner for a while. My amazing doulas massaged my feet. I couldn't eat any of my salad because my contractions were SO close together. They were hard and lasting 1-2 min each. Kristy recommended that I let the midwives know. They happened to text me while I was typing my text to them. I let them know that they should probably start making their way to my house. Just after pushing send, my water broke!! (7:05)
I know this photo is not flattering, but it's about as real as it gets. My water had NEVER broken on it's own before and this was so exciting! The midwives had me get on my hands and knees immediately so they could make sure the cord hadn't tried to come first. They also checked Lorelai's heart to make sure there was no duress. Luckily, all was well and like a light switch, we were back to birth being a joyful experience. Everyone happened to come at just the right time, though Ruby missed the birth by a few minutes.

Now, remember that I had a plan. I was either going to squat having this baby, have her in the birthing tub, or have her on my hands and knees. Squatting was out as I was exhausted physically. We'd put the tub away. No way was I going to hands and knees while still feeling the side effects of castor oil. So I was kind of at a loss. Someone suggested the birthing stool and I was down for that.

I'll spare you the more embarrassing parts between choosing the birthing stool and the actual birth, but let's just say that it's a good thing the people around me had a good sense of humor.

At this point (around 7:20), it hits me what has to happen next. Am I really up for this part? Can I actually do this AGAIN?! Well, I remembered the part of the blessing where it said I could, and so I did. I screamed super hard and pushed her out as fast as I could because no way was I going to prolong this in any way! At 7:28, I delivered our last baby into her daddy's arms. Several comments of, "Wow! She's not nearly as big as we thought she'd be" were flying around the room.

After each of my other births, I knew that there was still another child. I finished delivering babies with triumphant feelings of being powerful and strong. This time was different. This time, the thought that came first was, "I am NEVER doing this again!!" I was exhausted. I was vulnerable. But I was done. She was finally here. The pregnancy pains would finally go away. And my family was finally complete.
It took about half an hour before the placenta was delivered and Juliana had the opportunity to cut the umbilical cord.
About that point, it was time for me to get checked out. Daddy was excited for some skin to skin contact, so he and the girls got to bond with Lorelai for a bit.
All things checked out fine with me and I was able to settle in bed and collect myself for a few minutes. The girls had the opportunity to learn about the placenta, what it is, how it works, etc. Apparently, mine was healthy, but finished. Castor oil or no, we probably would have had a baby that day anyway.
Then came the fun part!! They brought her back upstairs and did all the necessary checks. We were all a bit surprised that she weighed 8 lbs 1.5 oz because she LOOKED so small!! She was 21" long, though, so I'm sure that helped. She was able to get her Vitamin K shot and everything looked good. 

These are my amazing midwives. I've never felt so empowered and strengthened by other women!! What an incredible experience! Everything was relaxed when it needed to be and in a moment when things could have been scary, they knew exactly what to do and how to handle the situation. I'm incredibly grateful!!!
My parents brought the boys home and met Lorelai. Sweetest thing ever!! Our family is complete!!
Thank you so much to my sweet friend Susie for taking photos and sharing Jeremy (Lorelai's future husband). Also much gratitude to Ruby who cleaned my house while I labored. Thanks to Kellie for being one of those people who helps keep me grounded and feel like I can handle whatever comes my way. Thank you to Kristy, my doula, who has now been there for FOUR of my babies and is honestly one of my favorite people on the planet. Thank you to Bailey, who jumped in and was right there for me- you're going to make an incredible doula!! I can't forget to thank my girls who would honestly make great doulas and midwives one day if they so choose.

But most of all, I need to thank my husband. I wouldn't want to take this journey with anyone else. He takes care of me in so many ways. Watching him take care of his children and still make time for me is very humbling. I hope I can serve and nurture him as he does me. 

Oh! And it would be incredibly ungrateful of me if I didn't also express gratitude to my Heavenly Father. I'm so grateful for his patience with me as I came many times crying and sobbing that things were simply too hard or taking too long. I'm grateful for these incredible children that He has trusted me with. I'm also grateful that He sent His son so that my family and I can return to live with Him someday.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

In Defense of Me

Disclaimer: This is not meant to sound angry. These are simply ramblings of a tired, hormonal, incredibly pregnant mama.

I understand that I am a bit scatterbrained. I have many ideas and not much follow through. I get that people see me as a generally happy person whose words don’t work right. I didn’t finish college, which many people think is just stupid of me. I’m a dreamer, forgetful, and absolutely terrible at time management.

But for once, could you just trust me? There is one area in my life that I actually know a thing or two about; my body and how it gives birth. I’m so incredibly tired of having to defend every decision we’ve made with this baby simply because none of it is mainstream. I’m going to go over a few specifics and explain to you why I’m choosing each of them.

#1. Having a 6th child in the first place. Many people think we’re being irresponsible or ask questions like, “You know how that happens, right?” People raise questions about finances and fitting them all in our house. But here’s the thing. We like our kids. We enjoy their company. We are fascinated as they learn about life and how to treat people and how to become good citizens. Yeah, it’s hard. Yeah, I yell. Yeah, I complain. But I wouldn’t trade it for the world. We have CHOSEN to have each of these kids and we are grateful they are part of our family. They help us become who we are. And one other thing- we’re good parents.

#2. Having the baby at home. I’ve had five children. That’s an entire handful. During each of these births, there has been a very specific pattern. While I’m not stupid enough not to realize that every kid is different and this one could very well break every pattern piece that I’ve dealt with, I’m confident that most of this birth will be much like the other five. I’ve had good experiences and bad in giving birth. I’ve been treated like an idiot by some doctors and nurses and been respected by others. Of the five births, three of them were without pain medication. Three of them (I found out rather quickly) there was no point for me to be in a hospital. My Dr only delivered one of those three. Being without pain meds meant I knew what my body was doing and I was in control of it. I know my body’s timeline, it’s signals, and it’s strengths. I’m so grateful to have a body that functions the way that it should and that I have instincts that help me along. For those of you who don’t trust me anyway, I also have the most incredible support system including a husband who has done enough research on childbirth to write a college thesis and a doula who has attended over 1,000 births. I’m also not stupid enough to deny that if something feels wrong or off or if I feel there is any danger to me or the baby, I will not hesitate to go to a hospital.

#3. Having the midwife break my water on a day that I choose. Again, I’ve had five children and noticed patterns. One of those patterns is that my water doesn’t break on it’s own. Sure, if I go to 42 weeks, it very well might. But that brings me to the second point. I have decent sized babies. I have been induced in different ways for the last four kids and I’ve been grateful for that. Let me give you some perspective. My smallest baby was 7 lbs. She was 2 weeks early, induced with Pitocin because of kidney problems. My largest baby was 3 days before the due date, induced only by breaking my water and had a placenta healthy enough to stay pregnant another week or two. This would have had me deliver a 10 or 11 lb baby. I feel confident that my chances of complications would go up by waiting too long to give birth. Also, people discount the mental part of the game. I’m trying to do so much right with this pregnancy. Trying to be a good mom to the other children, trying to not overload my husband with a million extra tasks that I simply can’t do, and trying to learn boundaries and how to let go of all kinds of emotional crap through therapy. Having a giant question mark over my head pertaining to when this baby will make her debut is causing far more stress than it would on a normally functioning, non ADHD person. Scenes playing over and over in my head of “What if it happens this day” and “What if I wait until that day” have literally taken over my nights. I’m not sleeping well. While, again, I’m not stupid or naïve enough to think that she can’t come on any different day, having a day on a calendar to look forward to takes so much of the stress off of me. An end date. Not to mention that my body is so physically done. Dealing with SPD (it pretty much feels like bone on bone when I walk), being overweight, carrying this perfect baby, and having other unmentionable issues have taken their toll. I just can’t risk being pregnant for 2 extra weeks. I need to be done as soon as safely possible.

I’ve had five healthy children. I have an amazing support system. I’ve had several priesthood blessings.  While I do appreciate it when you try to be polite when I tell you that I’m doing these untraditional things, it still hurts to see the disgust on your face or to have you straight up question me. We’ve done SO MUCH research. We have prayed and consulted and done more research. You might think that I’m just a silly girl with silly ideas, but please. Trust me on this one.

I would like to add that just because this is the way I do things, it does not by any means think it’s the way everyone should do them. I know my labors are short. I know they are easy. If they were long, I would welcome an epidural. If they were hard or scary or we’d had a history of anything going wrong, you bet I’d be close to medical intervention. How you choose to have your baby is part of who YOU are and your journey to become such and I will support you however you choose. You are an amazing rockstar for sticking to your guns.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

The Greatest Showman

Want to read my novel on my relationship with the Greatest Showman? Oh good!!

So this particular subject and blog post have been on my mind for DAYS. I'm not exaggerating. When it first came out, one of the first things I heard about it was from a friend that I love and respect. She voiced her concerns over the historical inaccuracies and mistreatment of those with disabilities. For good reason, too. She will be helping her ridiculously adorable son for most of his life fight for every opportunity- she even had to fight for his life when the whole world was against him (doctors included). She's the most incredible mom!! Anyway- being an empath, this kind of thing really had me thinking hard about this movie!!

In the meantime, my newsfeed and instagram and family members were abuzz. EVERYONE seemed to like this movie. My mom couldn't stop talking about the incredible message and story. And if anyone knows my mom, they'll know that she would NEVER be an advocate for treating people poorly. I was SO confused!!

Then I was invited to go see it. I'll admit, I went in wanting to be able to point out the blatant flaws and mistreatments and horrible things in this movie. But there weren't any. At least, not any that encouraged people to be rude or justified the way those with disabilities, physical abnormalities, or anything else. The movie acknowledged that PT Barnum exaggerated the truth (putting stilts on the already tall man, stuffing the fat man with more pillows, etc). He even at one point said that he couldn't trick anyone else into giving him money and that people pay for the pleasure of being hoodwinked.

And the music!!! Oh, and the DANCING!!!! It was like watching White Christmas for the first time all over again!! I was entranced. I cried. I laughed. And I couldn't get enough. But did I love it? In principal, COULD I love it?

So I sat on it. I came home and read more about Mr. Barnum's not stellar way of treating people and starting his business. And I listened to the soundtrack- over and over and over again. Those who know me well know that I do NOT like things on repeat. And yet I found myself listening to album 3 times in one day! I also couldn't stop talking about it. To anyone who would listen, I presented my moral dilemma. And then I talked to the person who instilled in me my moral compass- my mom. I said to her, "MOM! Did you know that he purchased these people from their families? Like, bought them from their homes for money?" and she had the most beautiful response. I don't remember the exact words, but it was full of compassion and love, much like my mother herself. She reminded me that at the time, many of these people were literally hidden, neglected, and their families were often ashamed of them. Whether or not their lives were improved by PT Barnum, we don't know for sure. Maybe they were. Maybe they weren't. But they at least had a chance at something different.

So with that on my note, I started thinking about standards. How many historical pictures to we shame and feel anger at because we hold them to today's standards. Is it, in any way acceptable NOW to purchase people? No. Is it ok for any kind of slavery now? No. And yet.... Do we try to change our US history because former presidents owned slaves? Do we smear their name at every chance we can? No. Why? Because his accomplishments were greater than his misdeeds. And- did he really know better? Many people slam Christopher Columbus for the terrible things he did, but how much do we know about what were HIS choices and what were by command of the crown? Remember he had to ask many people to fund his trip. We don't know what he had to agree to to get said funding. But do we refuse to live on this continent because of his misdeeds? No. We're grateful to be here anyway. His accomplishments, in the scheme of NOW, outweigh his misdeeds. After writing this today, I found this video that I found fascinating:

What if in 50 years, scientists find that the best way to keep children completely happy and cancer free is to lace all of the kids food with weevils and weevil bits? Do I want to be called a terrible mom because now, without that knowledge, I'm doing everything in my power for my children NOT to eat weevils? No. We don't know exactly what the thoughts were in PT Barnum's time. The world was a strange place where all kinds of things were acceptable. It doesn't make it ok for now's time. But he's dead. That's between him and Heavenly Father at this point. His judgement has already passed.

What good has come since his time? We're able to see people's differences for what they are and without fear. We can find out what causes disabilities and we understand now that they are people worthy of as much medical attention, care, and respect as everyone else. Do they always get that? No, because people are still people.

Anyway- I digress. So back to whether or not I'm ok to like this movie, lol. I realized that one thing different here was that I went into the movie already knowing a bit about PT Barnum's shady past. How many movies have I watched "inspired by true events" that I LOVED and then found out that wasn't really what happened, but then still loved the movie? Remember the Titans- Gosh, still one of my favorites, even though not really the way it was. Also, did you know if a movie is "inspired by" true events, it's mostly fiction. If it's "based on" a true story, it sticks closer to the truth. So there is that.

I'm almost done, I promise!! So I listened to the soundtrack- a LOT and my son said to me, "Wow, Mom. You must really love this!" and it kind of decided it for me. I love this movie/music/story for what it was, what it is. And I went again at the very next opportunity. I went in allowing myself to love it and guess what- I SO did!! THIS story (whether accurate or not) is about family. It's about accepting yourself for who you are. It's about appreciating what and who you have in your life. And the DANCING. I just can't get past the dancing.... AMAZING!!

So there you go. Go see it.