Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Pregnancy Favorites

I was pretty lucky to have a relatively easy and uneventful pregnancy. That being said, even the easiest pregnancy still comes with it's aches and pains and difficulties. I wanted to put together a list of my pregnancy favorites, the things that really helped me make it through those nine (let's be honest it's ten) months.

Altoids Smalls Mints I never had really bad morning sickness, but I would get queasy at times especially around certain smells. These mints are perfect cause they aren't too big but they are strong enough to cover mask a smell. I would keep a container of them in my purse at all times.

Crane Humidifier About a month into my pregnancy I went out to Colorado to visit with family, after I got back my nose was so dry and I kept getting nose bleeds. We registered for this humidifier for Walt but I ended up using it a lot during my pregnancy.

Champion Fitness Ball This was a recommendation from our Birth Boot Camp class, more on that to come. They make all different sizes of fitness balls, I went with the 55 cm cause I'm pretty short (5'2"). I sat on this a lot toward the end of my pregnancy. It made me sit up straighter and apparently helps the baby get into position. The night I went into labor I had been sitting and bouncing on it for about 2 hours, so maybe it helped!

Trader Joe's Coconut Coconut Oil I've become a little obsessed with coconut oil--I use it on all different kinds of things. At the beginning of my pregnancy I was using cocoa butter to prevent stretch marks but I wasn't really a fan of the smell. I decided to start using coconut oil instead and I didn't end up with any stretch marks on my stomach. (Also a good thing to have around if you're breastfeeding cause it can help prevent and treat cracked and dry nipples)

Birth Boot Camp About 15 weeks into my pregnancy my midwife asked if we had thought about taking any kind of birth classes. It was something I had thought of but just hadn't researched much. This was her recommendation and I'm so thankful we decided to take it. It was a little bit of an investment but was very informative! I strongly recommend the in person classes, we had to watch one online cause we were both busy and missed the in person class and it just wasn't as engaging or helpful. This class definitely helped both Kyle and I know what to expect and learn different pain management techniques in order to have a natural birth.

Aveeno Calming Body Wash During my second trimester I started taking baths, it really helped at the end of the day when I was achy and every muscle in my body hurt. I poured a little bit of this body wash in the bath as it was filling and it made light bubbles and made the whole bathroom smell really nice. Plus it leaves your skin soft and not itchy like some bubble baths do-nothing is worse than getting out of the bath and feeling like you need to take a shower.

Earth Mama Angel Baby Third Trimester Tea I bought this pretty late into my third trimester. It is a Red Raspberry Leaf Tea which is supposed to help prepare your uterus for labor as well as prevent early and late term labor (not sure how it can do both haha). Make sure you check with your doctor before you drink it. By this point in time I was super warm all the time so the idea of drinking warm tea sounded miserable. Instead I would brew it and then pour it over ice. It doesn't taste like raspberries, but has a nice early/floral taste to it. I have no idea if it worked but I do know that Walt was born the day before his due date and my labor was only 11 hours, so maybe it did help!

Other favorites that can't be bought:

Going for walks--I went to the gym a few times a week until about 30ish weeks. Then I started taking Buddy for a walk almost every day instead. I really think the walks helped my body prepare for labor and move Walt into the right position. There were days that I just wanted to lay on the couch but I went anyways, and then laid on the couch...

Rest--Which leads into this point. Rest! I had such a hard time with this, I wanted to be up and moving and getting things done. But my body was tired and I would get grumpy and sore if I pushed myself too hard. Learn how to take naps now, it will be helpful once your baby gets here and you sleep in 2 hour increments.

Avoid comparison and give yourself grace--I loved following other pregnant moms on instagram and reading their blogs. Too often, especially in the early stages of pregnancy, I found myself comparing every little detail. They look like they haven't gained as much weight as I have or she's still going to the gym everyday, how come I'm not. I had to realize that every pregnancy is different and I needed to listen to my body instead of focusing on others. I also had to put my scale away because it was causing me unnecessary stress. In all fairness, I would sneak it out about once a week and weigh myself just to make sure nothing crazy was going on but no more daily weigh-ins for me. Trust your body, give yourself grace, and avoid comparisons.

What things did you love during your pregnancy?

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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Walt's Birth Story Part 2

**Same warning: This is a birth post and while I don't go into graphic detail, if you're not interested in birth maybe don't keep reading**

Also, some of these details are a little fuzzy to me cause I was in my own world for most of the labor, I zoned out and just focused on getting through each contraction. In fact Kyle said, "I don't know how you're going to write Part 2 cause your eyes were closed for like 6 hours." haha! Maybe we can convince him to write his version of Part 2 as well...

Alright so I left off with us getting to the hospital, which was around 5:30 am May 21st. We made it up to Labor and Delivery and had to get buzzed in cause it was after hours. The buzzer wasn't working, it was almost like someone left it off the hook cause we could hear the nurses talking but no one was answering us. Let's just say a lady in labor standing waiting for a door to open does not go over well. I was about to open the door and let the alarm go off when they finally buzzed us in. The hallway that the door opens to is like 500 feet  (probably an over exaggeration) long and I was dreading this walk. I had already been down the hallway earlier that week and my contractions were way more intense by this point. Thankfully two nurses came down the hallway to meet us with a wheelchair.

We got into a room and they had me lay down on the bed, which I was not excited about cause I had a hard time with the contractions while laying down. I laid on my side and grabbed onto the bed every time I had a contraction which seemed to help some. They hooked me up to monitors to make sure Walt was doing okay and then asked a bunch of questions. I honestly don't remember if I answered any of them or if Kyle just answered all of them for me. I was in my own little world by this point and not up for talking. The only thing I liked about being hooked up to the monitors was that the nurses could tell when I was having a contraction and when it peaked and helped me breathe through it. Walt hated the monitor though and started moving like crazy which made the contractions worse.

Throughout my pregnancy I had really bad heartburn, thankfully I had been able to control it by taking Zantac twice a day. But it was not working at this point and I had horrible heartburn. Breathing through contractions is already hard but when your throat feels like it's on fire it's nearly impossible. I asked the nurses if there was anything they could do and they said they would check with the midwife. They also checked to see how dilated I was, I was at 4 cm, which was awesome to hear cause I had been at 1 cm the whole time we were at the hospital on Monday. The nurse came back after talking to the midwife and said "You're having a baby today! You're admitted!" I was excited and nervous all at the same time--it was really happening!

I asked to get out of bed at this point, they let me and brought me a "birth ball" to sit on (which is really just an exercise ball mixed with an office chair for stability) I sat on this while they took like six vials of blood and got me hooked up with an IV port cause I had to get antibiotics during labor. They also gave me heartburn medicine through the IV and it helped immediately, I was so thankful for that!

My contractions were getting stronger at this point (I feel like I'm going to just keep saying this, there is no other way to describe it...) I tried sitting on the ball but it wasn't comfortable. I needed to find a spot where I could rest in between contractions. Kyle moved things around on the bed and raised part of it and put a stack of pillows so I could rest my head. I was also feeling dizzy at this point, I think it was from all the blood they took. Right around this time the nurses switched shifts and Gina came in, she was amazing. She brought me some grape juice, which helped the dizziness go away. I'm not a big juice drinker but I probably drank a gallon of grape juice during labor haha! I kept laboring and things got more intense--the contractions were stronger and closer together. I asked to be checked again and I was at 6-7cm.

At this point I asked if I could go into the tub so they moved us into the "big tub" room. I don't remember moving into this room or how all of our stuff got into that room, but somehow it did! I sat on the toilet while they filled up the tub, and then moved into the water. Caysi showed up to take pictures, so thankful she was there even though I never said anything to her. (Again, in my own world and wasn't up for talking) Everything felt so much better once I got in the water. I felt like I could rest between the contractions and the pain wasn't as intense. I kept laboring and my water broke at while I was in the tub which was a very crazy feeling.

I love that you can see my very pregnant belly in this picture

I remember getting really hot at one point, probably from the water and the fact that I had this huge plastic glove on my left hand to keep my IV port from getting wet. Caysi started fanning me, which helped so much and they got the AC turned down. I also convinced the nurse to take the glove off, since the port was getting more wet from all the sweat inside the glove. I think that was the most I talked during labor. The midwife and her student came into check how I was doing, they checked me and I was still at 6-7cm. They tried to get me to change positions in the water but I couldn't wasn't very cooperative. They finally convinced me I should get out of the tub for awhile and find a different position to labor. I was not happy about getting out of the water, the contractions were so close together and much more painful out of the water. I started to get discouraged, it seemed like things weren't moving along anymore.

I ended up back on the toilet leaning back and Gina kept telling me I needed to lean forward but I just couldn't. I sat in the shower for awhile and Kyle sprayed me with water. I knew he saw my frustration and I remember looking at him and knowing he felt like he couldn't do anything to help. I think we both let out some tears and felt discouraged for different reasons. He never doubted my strength but I know he wanted to take away my frustration but couldn't.  I felt like I was hitting a wall, I said "I don't think I can do this" and I heard Caysi say "that means you're close!" And I remembered from our Birth Boot Camp that I was probably in transition and getting really close. I tried to refocus and decided to listen to the advice Gina was giving and go out to the bed.

I ended up standing next to the bed and leaning forward. I have no idea how long I was in this position but I know the contractions started changing at this point. I had the urge to push but I knew it wasn't time yet. Kyle kept telling me to do "horse lips" which is basically just pushing your lips out and letting your breath out that way. This keeps you from pushing with your exhale. Between this and making low groans I kept myself from pushing on most of the contractions. During the whole time Kyle was making sure I was drinking water and grape juice and never left my side. Several times I told Kyle, "I feel like he is coming...I just want to push." He kept me calm and reminded me not to push just yet. Gina came to check me at some point, she probably heard my noises get louder and more intense. (I had a sore throat for two days after labor from all the grunting and low noises I made) She checked me and said something like "You have no cervix left and he's at the +1 station" I remember being confused and asked her "How dilated am I?" and she replied, "You're at a 10! You're ready to go!" I wanted to cry out of excitement, I was finally there! This was happening and my little boy was going to be in my arms so soon!

They got me back in the tub because that was where I wanted to deliver. It felt so good to be in the water again. Gina called the midwife and let her know what was going on. I remember having a really strong contraction and Kyle said "don't push just yet." And just then I heard Candis (the midwife) say "If you need to push, you push!" She had just walked in and that was the best thing I could've heard. She coached me through how to push and told me I was going to have to push through the pain that was going to come.

The pushing was hard but it felt like it had a purpose and my body wanted to push. I felt like I was just going along with what my body was trying to do on its own. I had to switch positions for a little while, I moved to my knees and leaned up against the side of the tub I think this helped him move down a little more. Then I went back to sitting with my back against the tub which allowed me to rest between contractions.

Everyone was really encouraging and they kept telling me how good I was doing. At one point they started talking about how they could see his head, and I remember how excited Kyle was. Candis told me I could reach down during the next contraction and feel his head, I did this and it was so crazy. It gave me all the motivation in the world--my boy was so close to coming in the world and he just needed me to stay focused a little longer. The pushing got really intense at this point, I think it's what they describe as the "ring of fire". Basically everything is getting stretched beyond any point of comfort. It took extra focus and determination to push past this pain.

Finally during one of the big pushes they told me his head was out! They had me do shorter pushes to get his shoulders through and the next thing I knew my son was on my chest. I immediately started crying, he was here! All the pain and frustration was gone, my little boy was here. I came out of my "zone" and remember looking at Kyle and seeing the joy in his eyes. We were both so overwhelmed with love for this boy. The nurse hit the call button and announced "We have a baby boy born at noon!" They delivered my placenta and once the cord stopped pulsing asked Kyle if he wanted to cut the umbilical cord. He did and I just kept staring at my little boy. He was just so perfect. Candis commented on his size--the midwives had thought he would be close to 7 pounds, but clearly he was bigger than that. She said something like "where were you hiding that boy?!"

Love the emotion of this picture, one of the happiest moments of my life captured

The process of getting me out of the tub and back to the bed was going to take a little bit so they asked Kyle to do skin to skin with Walt. Kyle was so excited to hold his son and had been waiting for this moment. He held him for awhile while I got cleaned up and a few stitches.

They delayed newborn procedures to let Kyle and Walt have skin to skin and then I was able to hold Walt for awhile while they finished up stitching and pushing on my stomach (seriously worse part ever...) Walter was 8 lb 9 oz and 20.5 inches long. Big boy!

A boy and his daddy

Adorable feet
Back in mommy's arms
Overall, I was in labor for about 11 hours. Labored at the hospital for 6 of those hours and pushed for about an hour total. I wanted a natural birth and I was so thankful the nurses and staff never questioned me. No one ever asked me what my level of pain was, no one ever offered me an epidural or warned me that it was my last chance to get one, and all the nurses and midwives were so encouraging every step of the way. I know natural birth is not for everyone, and everyone should be able to birth they way they chose. I was grateful for the support I was given in my choice because I know that is not always the case.

Kyle was the most incredible husband during this whole process. As you can see in the pictures, he never took his eyes off of me. He was there for all 11 hours and made sure I was staying hydrated and kept telling me how amazing I was doing. When I look through these pictures I see the love he has for me, and the love he has for Walt. He is selfless, supporting, and the best husband and best friend I could ever ask for. He knew exactly what I needed and even though I barely opened my eyes for 6 hours, I always knew he was there. He was praying for me and never once doubted my strength. He kept telling me how proud he was of me and that our boy would be here soon.

These pictures are one of the most amazing gifts I've ever been given. I asked Caysi if she would be interested in taking pictures during labor for me, realizing this was asking a lot of her (she's 6 months pregnant) She not only agreed but was so excited to be a part of Walt's birth. I never acknowledged her during birth because I was in my own world but I knew she was there and I knew she was praying for me and encouraging Kyle. She reminded him to eat and drink cause he was so fully focused on me. There is no way I could ever repay her for all she did and most importantly for the memories she captured.

During the last part of my pregnancy I put the hashtag #waitingonwalt on my pregnancy pictures. Well we waited on Walt and he came at exactly the time he was ready to come. He is one special little boy and we love him more than we ever thought possible.

We waited on you, you came in the perfect time, and now you are forever part of us

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Walt's Birth Story Part 1

**Fair warning: This is a birth post and while I'm not going to go into graphic detail, if you're not interested in birth maybe don't keep reading**

During my pregnancy I started following people on Instagram who were also pregnant and I read a lot of birth stories. I never really thought I would be one to post about birth, but it was such a special event and taught me a lot about myself, my body, my husband and his strength, and faith.

On Monday (May 18) I had my weekly Midwife appointment. I had been having fairly strong contractions on and off for about a week at this point and was at the extremely uncomfortable stage. I spent a lot of time walking that day--mostly around the house cause it was rainy and humid outside. That night the contractions got more consistent, Kyle and I went to Walmart cause I wanted to walk around some more. The contractions were about 5 minutes apart and lasting a minute, which was what everyone said was time to go to the hospital. We decided around 12:30am to head to the hospital...long story short I was not making any progress after an hour of walking around the hospital and since I wanted a natural birth we decided to head home. I'm so glad that wasn't the night, I ended up with a horrible headache and almost threw up in the car on the way home. There was no way I could've gone through labor in that condition. I took some tylenol and Benadryl (at the midwife's suggestion) and went to bed.

Tuesday was spent mostly resting, but Tuesday night the contractions picked up again. I took a Benadryl and went to bed. Wednesday is a busy day for Kyle, he came home at lunch time and took a nap (probably the best decision ever!) and I was feeling good, convinced labor wasn't going to happen for a week or so. I ended up taking a nap around 5pm, woke up and Kyle needed me to run something up to the church for him before the youth services started. I came back home and took Buddy on a walk and then sat on my exercise ball and watched TV for most of the night. I had some contractions, but that had been happening for over a week at this point and I thought nothing of them.
Wednesday, little did I know this would be my last "bump picture"

Buddy was super snuggly all day, even sat hugging my belly, think he knew Walt was coming
Kyle got home from church and we played a few rounds of Mario Kart on the Wii (yes we are super cool) and then I went into a weird "I need to clean everything right now" mode. Kyle, being super sweet, sent me to bed and said he would take care of cleaning things up. I went to bed around 10:30 and just couldn't get comfortable. I took a Benadryl but still couldn't fall asleep. My contractions had picked up and I felt like I had to pee every time I had one, so I was in the bathroom like every 10 minutes. Finally I just went out and watched some TV and Kyle came out there with me. After about 20 minutes I told him he should go to bed, thinking something might come of these contractions and he would need the rest. After he went to bed I sat on the exercise ball and tried to find something to watch that would distract me--I settled on Friends but barely made it half way through an episode before the contractions started getting a lot stronger.

I decided to go take a bath and see if that would calm things down (really not wanted to have another false labor trip to the hospital). I sat in the bath and listened to Penny & Sparrow's Struggle Pretty album. The contractions stayed pretty consistent in the bath but I still wasn't convinced I was in labor. Kyle had woken up and came in to check on me, I told him I wasn't sure if this was the real thing but I would let him know and told him to go back to sleep. (He later told me he knew I was in labor at that point and couldn't fall back asleep) Not too long after that I had three contractions back to back, maybe 10 seconds in between each one. That's when I knew this was happening. I got out of the bath and told Kyle "this is real, I'm in labor." And then I sat on the toilet which sounds strange but it was one of the only places I felt comfortable during contractions.

Kyle brought me water and helped me breath through the contractions. He put a call in to the on-call midwife to check with her what we should be looking for before we head to the hospital. She called him back and he talked to her for awhile and told her what was going on. Then she asked to talk to me, I had two contractions while I was on the phone with her. She said she would let the nurses know we would probably be in soon, but that I could stay home and labor there longer if I felt comfortable with that. I wanted to be at home still, the contractions were intense but not unbearable. I tried to move back to the exercise ball but it wasn't comfortable. I ended up leaning on it and Kyle used a scarf to lift on my stomach with each contraction. I went back to the toilet for a bit while Kyle started getting all of our bags moved close to the door. Around 5 I decided it was time to head to the hospital, the contractions were getting very intense and I wasn't looking forward to car ride and the last thing I wanted was to sit in traffic. Kyle opened the garage door to load the bags and it was POURING, he came and asked me if I wanted to wait for the storm to pass before we headed out. I think I gave him my "are you joking?" stare and said "no, we are going now."

So we headed to the hospital. I don't remember much about that drive--I stared out the window and focused on breathing through each contraction. The rain died down a little on the trip out there. We pulled up to the Labor & Delivery area and it started pouring even harder than it was before. Running while in labor isn't really an option, but I walked quickly with the umbrella and made it inside right as another contraction hit and I had to stop to make it through.

Part 2 to follow cause I have to go take care of this cutie...
Spoiler alert, he's enters the world in Part 2 and I fall in love