Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Colden's birth story

I love reading birth stories and so I have the funnest time writing my own! (You can read Bridger's here).

For those who don't want the messy details, here is the short version: I was induced on April 7th. Colden was born at 7:15 PM and weighed 8 pounds and 5 ounces and was 21.5 inches long. I'm so happy I was able to make my goal of having a natural birth!

The long version:
Pregnancy & preparation
Ever since we started thinking about a second child (early last summer), I have been researching natural and alternative birth methods. I read a couple books by Ina May, watched the Business of Being Born (I recommend it but beware of lots of naked mommies), and read lots of natural birth stories. I even interviewed a couple of birthing centers. That's where you give birth with a midwife and have most of the technologies a hospital does, it's just more home-like. I really wanted to do that but most insurances still don't cover birthing centers (ridiculous!). And I still really liked the midwife group I used with Bridger's birth so we opted for a natural birth in the hospital. 

I think I wanted a natural birth mainly because I wanted to prove something to myself (maybe even others as well). I firmly believe that pregnancy and birth is a normal and healthy part of a woman's life. I believe that the pains of childbirth are normal and healthy. I wanted to feel everything. That sounds crazy to some people. But I wanted to be aware of my body and work with it. I wanted to prove that labor and childbirth could be joyful!

I stayed somewhat active throughout my pregnancy. But starting in January (thanks to a Christmas gift from my awesome in-laws), I started practicing yoga regularly again. Other than the amazing genes that were given to me, I think yoga helped me prepare the most. Yoga is all about your breath and being mindful of your body. My instructor encouraged us to pick mantras each class to repeat throughout our practice. I used to roll my eyes at this and just repeat, "inhale, exhale" to myself. Eventually I created some mantras that have great personal meaning and that I had my doula repeat to me during labor. I also attended a weekly prenatal yoga class. This was AMAZING. Basically it was just resting in different postures but so relaxing and helpful in the last few weeks of pregnancy.

We also hired a doula. Doula is just a terrible name for a birth assistant. I totally recommend mine, Marcie Hunter. I met with her early in my pregnancy and then a couple more times near the end. She was fabulous! She was all about supporting me in whatever kind of birth I wanted. I told her that my goal was a natural birth but that if my labor was terribly long and awful, that I would get an epidural. And of course, if a Caesarean was necessary, I would do that. She was very supportive of all of this. She has helped many moms during all kinds of births. But her experience helping moms through natural labor is why I hired her. Nate is wonderful and supportive of all of this too, but he's never helped anyone through natural labor. I wanted them both to support me during birth. And that's what they did! She gave me lots of info about birth and different choices that I could make in the hospital. She gave me a list of positive affirmations and I chose some of my favorites for her to read while I labored. She also helped me make a list of birth preferences to give to her, my midwives and the nursing staff. 

I didn't want to limit myself to one "type" of natural birth, so I created my own list of birthing tips based on things that jumped out at me in stories from other women, Birth Matters, Guide to Childbirth, Baby Catcher and Hypnobirthing.

Heartbeat issues
On Thursday April 3rd, I had my 39 week appointment with my midwife (I was meeting with Sue this time). All three of the midwives are great, but Sue is my least favorite. She's the most medically-minded and thus the least supportive of natural birth. Anyway, as she listened to Colden's heartbeat, she noticed an irregularity. It sounded like it was skipping every third beat. She said it wasn't a great cause of concern and that in 99% of cases, it goes away after birth. But she suggested a non-stress test. She was never great at finding the baby's heartbeat anyway so I was doubtful of her prognosis. Plus, she was the one who wanted a non-stress test when I was pregnant with Bridger. This led to me being induced. And since I was hoping for a natural birth this time, I wanted to let labor occur spontaneously. Being induced increases the risk of complication and can make for a very painful birth experience. My gut told me that everything was okay. So I opted out of the NST but planned to come into the office on Monday morning to listen to baby's heartbeat again. (Note: at this appointment, I was 2 cm dilated and I think 60-70% effaced).

Monday came and we walked down to our local nursery as a family and made plans for our garden. They have an awesome playground there and Bridger had a blast. There was also a bunch of small farm animals for him to check out. I'm glad we took him that morning because it ended up being our last outing as a family of three! We went from there to the doctor's office to hear the baby's heartbeat, with plans to eat at Chik-fil-a for lunch and then to go shopping after. 

A nurse listened to Colden's heartbeat for a long time and the same irregularity/arrhythmia was there. She called the midwife on-call, Jennifer Cook. Jennifer suggested the NST and indicated that she would probably induce, depending on the results. So to the hospital we went. At this point, I was pretty bummed. This is not how I pictured my birth. I wanted to go into labor on my own, to labor in the comfort of my home. I didn't want a painful Pitocin labor. And I hadn't even finished editing my birth preferences! (My doula and my midwives had a copy, but I had nothing to give the nursing staff). I had assumed my whole pregnancy that I would go past my due date. My bag wasn't packed. My soothing playlist wasn't loaded onto my iPhone. The house was a wreck and I just wasn't ready to bring a baby into the world that day!

Nate dropped me off at the hospital for the NST and he took Bridger to Aunt Lora's house. I gave him some instructions for my hospital bag and then he picked up some lunch for us. A perinatologist looked at the NST results and consulted with Jennifer. Jennifer called me and indicated she would like to induce that day or I could wait and do another NST at the end of the day to see if the results would be any different. She was doubtful they would change. After consulting with Nate who had just walked in with my hospital bag, I took a deep breath and told her we would like to go ahead with the induction. The big catch? She wanted to have me admitted to UVRMC. Deep sigh. I had my heart set on interacting with the amazing (and natural-friendly!) nursing staff at Orem Community. I loved the big homey rooms and the quiet atmosphere of that small hospital when I had Bridger. But Jennifer wanted Colden to be near UVRMC's bigger (better?) NICU, just in case. Another deep sigh. Again, in my gut I knew everything was fine but playing it safe was, of course, a good idea.

Knowing I would be limited to liquids after being admitted, I wolfed down some lunch that Nate had brought in. We walked upstairs and started the admitting process. We had to wait about half an hour or more because there weren't enough rooms (!!!). We later learned from the nurse that they had delivered 6 babies between 12pm and 2pm that same day. While we waited, I texted family and close friends an update. I talked with my doula who was in Salt Lake with family. She wasn't going to be able to come for a couple of hours and was working on finding a doula to step in for her until she got there. We got admitted around 3:00 PM.

A baby by bedtime
Pretty soon after we got admitted and I got into one of those gorgeous gowns (that someone died in yesterday), I talked with my mom on the phone and started to feel a little better about what was happening. Mostly, it was just nice to think that I would be able to hold my baby soon and not be pregnant anymore. Around this time, Jennifer Snell, who was to be my stand-in doula for the time being, arrived. While we talked with her and got her up to speed, I was feeling better and better and getting excited. Labor time had arrived! All of the breathing, relaxation, mantras and good thoughts I had been preparing with were about to come into play! And at the end, I would be rewarded with a sweet little baby!

And it didn't hurt that I had such an amazing view! (Of Timp as well as Chik-fil-a! ;)
Jennifer S. was a delight (I would also recommend her as a doula!). Even Nate liked her. (Mostly because she grew up in Canada too). She was so supportive and friendly. After the nurse checked me, (3 cm dilated!) she looked up a Bishop's Score for me. This just tells you how ready your cervix is for labor. Jennifer Cook (midwife), came in, checked me and confirmed that I had a "very soft, favorable" cervix! Yay! This meant I was already well on my way. Things were looking up! I remember saying, "I'm 30% done already!" I was also Jennifer Cook's only patient that night! So nice! She was in and out constantly. Before they started the Pitocin, Jennifer S. suggested I get moving a little to see how it would move things along. I had the bed raised and leaned over it and swayed. This movement caused my, ahem, backend to hang out. Jennifer Snell helped by pinning it closed. It's funny I was worried about modesty at this point when in just a couple hours any shred of modesty was long gone. The nurse (who was delightful also, I wish I remembered her name!) started the Pitocin at 4mL/hour at 4:00pm. This is a low dose.

Since Bridger came relatively fast, everyone expected me to go quickly. I remember hopefully remarking that we would have a baby by bedtime!

Enjoying my tigers blood flavored ice chips. 
This is really turning into a long post! Phew! Anyway, the contractions started right up and they got me a labor ball. (Just an exercise ball). I sat on that while I leaned over onto the bed. Each time I had a contraction, I would lay my head down, breathe deep and sway a little. Nate held my hands and/or stroked my hair. Jennifer S. whispered encouraging things and pushed on my back. My doula, Marcie came in around this time (5:00PM). Marcie took some notes for me and when she came in, she noted that I was 4 cm dilated, 80% effaced, in a good mood and laughing. Jennifer Snell was having a good time and said she hadn't attended a birth in a while and asked if we minded if she stayed to help and take photos. We said sure! (Glad we did!) Marcie took over massaging my back during contractions with tennis balls. Nate continued to hold my hands (and letting me squeeze his hands!) and stroke my hair. Jennifer S. started reading off some of the mantras and positive affirmations I liked the best. I repeated these to myself and took deep inhales and exhales. As soon as a contraction was over, I looked up and smiled at everyone, so grateful to have such a good team!

Jennifer C. broke my water around 5:30PM. When Dena broke my water when I was in the hospital for Bridger, I just remember a little trickle. This time it was BIG gushes for a while. At 5:45 I was 5 cm dilated and Jennifer C upped my Pitocin to 8mL/hour. Around 6:00PM Marcie noted that I was becoming more serious during contractions.

They didn't have a good working telemetric monitor that would allow me to roam around the room. Jennifer C. would have been fine with me doing intermittent monitoring, but since we were worried about Colden's heartbeat, I had to wear the monitor constantly. After being on the ball for a while, the monitor for Colden's heartbeat wasn't picking up much at all, mostly because of the position I was in. In order to get a good reading, Jennifer C. put in an internal monitor around 6:15PM. This goes right on baby's head, so I had to get into the bed. Having to be still like that in bed can make labor harder. But my awesome team helped me up and continued their support. The contractions were worse up there but really, they weren't terrible. Just felt like really bad menstrual cramps, mostly in my lower back. By 6:30 I was at 6cm and 90% effaced.

I love this photo. Nate was so much help.
Each time a contraction started, I would turn onto my side and lean into Nate. Someone, many times Jennifer C, would give counter pressure by pressing onto my hip and thigh. I would squeeze Nate's hand with my left and Marcie's with my right. Jennifer S would read mantras. All reminded me to relax, to accept the pain instead of fighting it. I moaned a lot. The new nurse, Heidi was in and out too. I think she felt a little unnecessary since there were so many people helping me. I remember laughing a little to myself at Heidi when she took a turn giving counter pressure on my knees. She was kind of weak and wasn't very helpful with that particular exercise. But she was doing her job just fine. Anyway, at the end of each one, I would look up and smile. I was so lucky to have so many people helping me! I loved looking up to see so many supportive faces around my bed.

At 7:00 PM I was checked and was at 7cm. I think I kind of cried out at this point. It seemed like I had so far to go and suddenly my contractions were almost constant. No time in between them. But at 7:10, Marcie noted that I said, "I could do this for another hour or two." When I did have a break at about 7:13, I said I wanted to get on my hands and knees. I thought this would relieve some of the pressure off my back. As soon as I did, I thought, "oh this is WORSE!" And immediately, I screamed the Lord's name in vain (something I still feel terrible about, I feel it's worse than swearing, but maybe it was more of a prayer than cursing!) and every part of my body screamed PUSH! I was yelling and moaning constantly now. It huuuuuurt! I yelled "I'm crowning!" and "HE'S COMING!" Heidi pushed everyone out of the way to check me. I remember asking everyone in the room if everything was okay. Seemed so crazy to already be pushing! Everyone answered that everything was just fine.

The worst part of all my labor was the time between crowning and his head coming out (I should note that this was really less than one minute, according to the photos Jennifer S. took!). Jennifer C came rushing in and without enough time to put on gloves, she squatted down and got ready to catch my baby. (Remember I am still on my hands and knees!) I felt his head come out and Jennifer C. instructed me to give little pushes. (This helped me have no tears or stitches!) I felt his shoulders come out and then the rest of his little body and the cord. Everyone helped me turn over and sit up. He was wiped off real quick and then placed into my arms! That immediate skin-to-skin time is so precious! After a few minutes, Jennifer C took the cord and pushed everything in it into Colden and then Nate cut the cord. After a few minutes, they weighed and measured him while Nate looked on. Jennifer C. helped deliver my placenta and we were all done! I have to say that trusting my body and giving birth without (much) fear was a beautiful experience! I love the strength and confidence it has given me. This experience has inspired me! I'm thinking about becoming a doula myself. I want to help other women give birth joyfully and without fear too!

So much happiness while holding Colden! We breastfed a little before heading up to the mother/baby floor and he latched on so well!
Heidi, RN; I don't know this nurse's name, I think she came in to weigh Colden; and my midwife Jennifer Cook.
My doulas: Jennifer Snell and Marcie Hunter
Bridger stayed the night with Lora, Scott and Erika (bless them!).  They brought Bridger to meet his little brother pretty soon after we got into the mother/baby ward. Bridger was actually pretty cute with him. After they left, I tried to take my sister Mandi's advice and just sleep as much as I could, even when the nurses came in. Nate stayed with me and Colden. I was a little teetery and nauseous but pretty much normal by the morning. My recovery has been pretty fast compared to last time and it's nice not to worry about caring for stitches.

The minimum stay in the hospital is 24 hours. I did not want to stay a minute longer! Our room was tiny and the bed was pretty terrible. Bridger really had no room to play in there when Nate brought him back on Tuesday afternoon so they didn't stay long. I had a few visitors and talked with family on the phone quite a bit but I was bored and wanted to go home. Nate, Scott and Erika cleaned up the house really good for us on Tuesday. After Colden's bilirubin test, we were able to leave the hospital at 8:00 PM. I was so glad to be out of there and start this new chapter of our lives!

Bridger has had a few tantrums, the first night at home all together was the worst. But since then he has done really well. Colden is a sweet little baby! This transition is going well thanks to his sweet demeanor and all of the wonderful help we have received from generous family and friends!! We love having him in our family!


Phew! That was long! Thanks for reading! Next up: dealing with a kidney stone 4 days post-partum!!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Preparing for a natural birth

I've been attending an amazing prenatal yoga class the last few months and it has made all the difference in my pregnancy. I LOVE this class. I leave feeling so relaxed and peaceful. Our awesome teacher usually begins class by helping us choose an intention. She usually quotes Buddha or some famous yogi to get us inspired. A few weeks ago she read this Lakota prayer and I felt so connected to it. I looked it up and finally printed it out so I could read it each day.

With each class, I usually have a mantra that I repeat to myself throughout the practice. I've collected several favorites that mean a great deal to me which I hope will be helpful during labor. I believe this prayer will be meaningful as well.

While this was intended to be said to their own Deity, this prayer relates so much to what I believe as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. "Teach me how to trust the blessings of my spirit." What a beautiful thought. Knowing my gifts and trusting those is something I need to work on.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Hippie hair

The last few months, I've seen pins and links floating around the internet about using alternatives to shampoo. After seeing so many articles, I gave it a chance. This trend is often called the "no-poo" method. Now I don't really believe that the ingredients in shampoo are comparable to poop. I was attracted to this trend because (1) I like the idea of eliminating unnecessary chemicals or ingredients I don't understand; (2) I've had to wash my hair everyday or every other day due to grease since I can remember. I barely have enough time to shower, let alone wash, dry and style my hair everyday. (OK, if you really know me you know that I usually skip the styling step. Whatever). ANYWAY, I was mainly attracted to the idea that I wouldn't have to wash my hair as often and have it still be clean (or at least appear so???). Also, the idea of spending pennies every month on my hair was appealing. I started this as an experiment and wanted to really give it a chance. 

Wanting to keep it simple (and sidenote: washing your hair with eggs, applesauce or honey just sounds crazy) I stuck with a baking soda wash and an apple cider vinegar "conditioner". Basically, I would take a tablespoon of BS and massage it into my scalp after my hair was wet. I would let it sit while I washed my body etc and then washed it out very thoroughly. Then I separated my hair into 3 sections and dipped each section in a apple cider vinegar/water dilution (2 tablespoons per cup of water) for several seconds. Then I washed that out thoroughly. 

Every article I read talked about a "transition period" where your hair gets super greasy but you have to hold off another "wash" until at least 4 days. (Otherwise the baking soda would probably dry your hair out). 

I took out the big camera every few days to document. Don't laugh at my lack of selfie skills.
 Directly after drying after my first "wash." It was super tangly after I got out the shower. And it just felt dry. But smelled like...nothing. (Nate will agree). VERY static-y. My thoughts: mmm, keep pressing on.

A day after my second wash (5 days after my first wash). Not too shabby. I never really felt like it was very greasy until the 4th day (when I planned to wash). I did start to notice a waxiness at my roots. I couldn't easily run my fingers through my hair at the base. 

Second day after my second wash. Not looking bad, but getting frustrated with the waxiness at the roots.

After two weeks since my first wash, I started researching the waxy weirdness at my roots. I figured I should be about over my transition period. A few articles mentioned that hard water can cause issues with the whole process. Basically, our (very, very) hard water was reacting with the baking soda and causing the dry, waxiness. (A simple solution would be to get a water softener but since our landlords didn't bother to get one while their own children lived in this house, I didn't waste any time on calling them). So I tried at my next washing what some suggested, making a distilled water and baking soda solution. I did exactly as suggested. I massaged this solution into my hair before I even got it wet in the shower. I tried to be really thorough. I didn't let it sit, I washed it out immediately. Then I did my normal apple cider vinegar/water conditioner. But I'm starting to wonder if rinsing my hair with water from the shower head just canceled out all the effort with the distilled water?

At this point, I was getting frustrated. I wanted to keep this simple but now I have to buy distilled water to wash my hair? It just seemed silly. But it did make a difference. My hair was softer directly after the distilled water wash. 

Now I'm on day 2 after my third baking soda wash (first wash with distilled water). And it feels softish. But already starting to feel icky. My hair is very static-y and very dry at the ends. I know I could use a trim, but the ends just feel and look awful. I did buy a boar hide hair brush which is supposed to help distribute the sebum (natural hair oils) throughout all your hair. It seems to help!

But gosh! I actually miss a thick, rich lather of shampoo in my hair! It's so easy and nothing to figure out! You just wash and you don't have to worry about the chemistry of your hair. But I did have to wash a lot. So I'm gonna stick it out a few more weeks to give this no shampoo thing a real shot. I think the next time I do a wash, I'm gonna kick out the apple cider vinegar and just use normal conditioner. And if I don't like this baking soda thing after a few weeks, maybe I'll look for a cheap natural shampoo. Or maybe a homemade shampoo? Or maybe I'll just go back to the fake stuff!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Jeni's Homemade Granola Bars

 My sister-in-law gave me this recipe a few years ago and I must have made it wrong back then because I never really liked it. Luckily, Nate talked me into trying it again recently and now we love it! This has replaced store-bought granola bars in our house (normally a staple for every grocery trip). I love being able to make these! And they are delicious! The best thing is, you can tweak the recipe to fit the tastes of your family.

Jeni's Homemade Granola Bars
(my edits in italics)
Makes about 12 2.5"x 5" bars

2 C oats
1/4 C brown sugar (I use 1/3 C)
1/4 C wheat bran or flax seed (optional, I've only tried wheat bran)
1 C flour
3/4 t salt
1/2 C honey (I use 1/4 C)
1 egg, beaten
1/4 C olive oil
1/3-1/2 C applesauce (depending on how moist you want your granola. I use closer to 1/2 C)
2 t vanilla or almond extract (Not a fan of almond, so I can't comment on that)
2 t cinnamon
Mini chocolate chips, M&Ms, raisins, nuts etc to taste (We're boring and have only ever added chocolate chips but we use 1 C or 1/2 a bag).

Mix all dry ingredients together by hand. Then form a well in the center and add all the wet ingredients, mix by hand. Then add your chocolate chips or whatever else. Pat onto a greased cookie sheet. 

Bake at 350 for 18-22 minutes, depending on how hard or soft you want them. Let cool. Cut up and freeze extra. (We store our's in a large Ziploc in the cabinet and they're usually gone within a couple of days!)

Honey is expensive, so I add more brown sugar and less honey. Thus, I need to add a little more applesauce to make up for the moisture lost with half of the honey. Make sense?

Let me know if you try these and what you add in! I need to try some more fun add-ins! 

Sunday, January 26, 2014

How great thou art!

When through the woods and forest glades I wander,
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees, 
When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur
And hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze, 
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to thee, 
How great thou art! How great thou art!
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to thee, 
How great thou art! How great thou art!

How Great Thou Art verse 2
LDS Hymnbook #86

Photo taken last October on the Squaw Peak trail

Monday, December 9, 2013

My favorite painting and an outing to the MOA at BYU

Last week we went to the new Carl Bloch exhibit at the MOA at BYU. Some of the paintings are on loan from a private castle/estate in Denmark and have never been loaned out before and will never be loaned out again. Pretty sweet we got to see them! I shared with Nate that while he feels closest to God outdoors, among His creations, I often feel closest to God viewing religious art (especially this one). Carl Bloch and others at this exhibit have a beautiful gift that speak to my soul. So glad we went.

Brian Kershisnik's Nativity 
I loved seeing this painting too (I think it's part of their permanent collection). It's larger than life, literally. And I love that it gives a realistic portrait of Mary nursing, with midwives looking on (as I believe it is unlikely in a city as large as Bethlehem that she did it all alone) and Joseph's prayer of gratitude. I find it interesting to think about all the unmentioned people that must have been involved: family and friends that Mary & Joseph traveled with, the innkeeper, midwives etc etc. And that contrasted with what we can't see, the numberless angels singing praises to our newborn Lord. I would love to have this in our house. I haven't been able to find prints of this. Only reproductions for $1400+ soooo..... 

We walked around a bit reminiscing with a mint brownie and old-fashioned donut. I made Nate drive all over campus so I could see the new buildings. Bridger enjoyed chasing the ducks! And while I am really jealous students now have a Chik-fil-a in the Cougareat, Nate and I agreed it's probably for the best it came after I graduated. I would have weighed 200 pounds. 

While in the Cougareat, I had some awkward eye contact with an old flame from before I met Nate. I couldn't help smile as we walked past, because here I am with my hunky husband with our adorable toddler on his shoulders. Just a good moment once again realizing I am so very happy with this path I have chosen. 

Also, I am so excited to take Bridger to the renovated Bean Life Museum this spring! It's gonna look amazing! I took some paparazzi photos as we drove by.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


The last two years I have done a weekly post of things I am grateful for during November. That did not happen this year. I blame it on the toddler. So despite that and my lack of daily FB posts of gratitude, I am a grateful person.

I'm thankful for the perfect two little hands and two little feet we saw on the ultrasound last week. So comforting to know he is growing healthily and well.

I'm thankful for the little toddler lips that kiss me on the lips for longer periods of time everyday. He cracks up afterward each time, like he knows this is getting awkward. Love him.

I'm thankful for the strong hands that work for us everyday. So, so grateful I can stay at home to goof off, I mean be with Bridger ;)

I'm thankful for this weird old house. It's ugly but works for us. I think of Feist's song Mushaboom a lot. It's following our life creepily well. I blogged about it a couple years ago. We were dreaming about babies and living in a second-floor apartment back then. Now we are making a home from a rented house and dreaming about owning acres on a little dirt road. Let's hope it keeps following our lives!

I'm grateful for the word of God. Since I got my iPhone, I've been reading my scriptures using the Gospel Library app. But I've gone back to the real deal the last few weeks and I love it. I love seeing all the highlighting and notes I've taken since I was 8. There is just something special about turning a page and touching each word.

I'm grateful for breakfast. The last few months I've been making real breakfasts more and more often. I don't know why I was so lazy before. Cereal and milk for me. Dry cereal and a banana for Bridger. I'm a stay at home mom for goodness sake! I have the time to make breakfast. It started with these blueberry biscuits. I'm sad berries aren't in season anymore. Now it's often grits and eggs. Homemade biscuits and jam. (I hyperventilated when my mom's peach jam ran out this week!) Pancakes or waffles. Or even sausage or bacon with eggs and grits or biscuits. Makes me think of my dad. He always made breakfast for us everyday before school/seminary. Too many times I slept in and didn't show him any appreciation. But Dad, I noticed and I am carrying on the tradition!