Category Archives: Natural Birth

Almost to Due Date!

39 weeks, 3 days.

Can you say, “ready”?

In the last three weeks, a combination of motherly nesting instincts and a bite in the butt from the spring cleaning bug has sent me into high gear. I have scrubbed all our floors and baseboards (the whole house is ugly tile:)), cleaned our tiny bathroom, washed baby clothes, washed comforters, bought new sheets, changed out curtains, rearranged furniture, bought new furniture, gutted a dresser and turned it into extra storage for linens and towels (yeah, regretted moving that thing by myself later), hung things on the walls in Rosie’s room, cooked and frozen lots of THM muffins and meals for after baby Samuel is born, and heck, I even cleaned the vacuum. What newborn doesn’t love a clean vacuum?!

I’ve felt contractions on and off for the last few weeks, but nothing that sticks around for more than an hour or so. Feeling lots of low pressure, too. Hopefully this is all good pre-labor work and it will mean a smooth, quick birth. 🙂 But, we’ll see… reminding myself to trust the Lord in whatever happens…

The hardest part about the end of this pregnancy has been hip pain. Oh, the hip pain! Thankfully, visits to see our dear family friend who is a Chiropractor have helped so much. It was getting so bad I felt like I couldn’t walk or pick Rosie up anymore. Now… well, I just waddle pretty bad. 🙂

My older sister had my sweet baby niece a few days ago! It was the second birth I’ve had the honor of being present for, and it was such an awesome experience. She came so, so quick! I can’t wait to read Bambi’s side of the story, because watching it was pretty stinking amazing.

In these last weeks, I’ve pretty much resigned myself to my house. Even a short trip to the grocery store wears me out, and I end up leaning on the grocery cart to get myself out the door and back to the car. Haha. If we go way overdue, I plan to rent Frozen and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire when we get desperate for something to occupy our time while we wait. 🙂

If you’re praying for me, I sincerely appreciate it. Please, pray that…

-I am patient and keep a good attitude until “Labor Day” arrives,  and that I keep my mind “stayed on Him” (Isaiah 26:3).

-That I don’t worry about Rosie, or feel sad for leaving her while we go to the birth center. She is my sweet little buddy, and I hate to leave her for any amount of time! Pray she is calm and happy and manageable for whomever ends up here to watch her, and is happy to have her “Bubba” come home!

-That labor is smooth, my mind is still “stayed on Him”, and for productive, efficient contractions that lead to a quick birth of a healthy baby!
Thank you to everyone who has been checking on us and taking care of us. We are so excited to become a family of four, and can’t wait to meet this sweet little boy! Hoping to post a birth announcement soon… (And remembering that it wasn’t long ago that my sister posted the same thing…)

Waiting,
H

Pregnancy Update: 11, 12, 13 weeks?

Here it is, my first pregnancy update! 🙂

It took a little while for me to be excited about being pregnant again. Don’t get me wrong- we were always excited about another person in our family, but first-trimester nausea and initial shock kept me from remembering the things I enjoyed about my first pregnancy. Once I got past  those things and started pulling out my old maternity clothes… I finally got the warm fuzzies. 🙂

We interviewed a new midwife last week, and I have to say- I am incredibly excited and thankful to have found her and the birth center we chose this time! With Rosie, we met several midwives at a birth center in our town, but we never knew who would be on call when delivery day came.  In the end, it was a midwife we had never met! (You can read all about how that turned out here. :)) This time around, we are hiring a midwife. In her words, she will be at my birth unless she is “dead on the side of the road.” We pray that doesn’t happen! 😉

All that to say, we got some blood work done a few weeks ago, and those results showed I would now be 11-12 weeks pregnant. Well, after talking to the midwife, we realized that by my cycle I should be about 13-14 weeks pregnant- same as my older sister!!! Kathaleen, our midwife, scheduled a sonogram for tomorrow so we could determine a more reliable due date. We are so excited to “see” our little baby for the first time! We don’t plan on being able to determine the gender quite yet, but if we can….. 🙂

On another note, I am excited to share that I have been reading what is becoming a top seller on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, Trim Healthy Mama! The authors, Pearl Barrett and Serene Allison, were kind enough to send me a copy to read and review. I’m excited to implement the lessons they’ve learned throughout my pregnancy. I’m still in the middle of reading the book, but I’ve already tried some of their recipes and ideas in the kitchen. I can tell I have much more energy and a generally better attitude when I’ve eaten the way they’ve suggested. I can’t wait to finish the book and share what I learn with you all!

Anyone else pregnant? Or have two babies close together? I’d love to hear from you and keep up with you! Leave a comment or use the “Contact Me” button and send me an email!

Love,
H

Our Story {And an Announcement!}

I’ve been asked a couple times about my and Kip’s “timeline” of how we met, started dating, got married, had a baby, etc. I posted the semi-short version here, and we also have something to add to our major milestones!

About this time two years ago, I met a guy at a sand volleyball game. I had recently come home from a 6 week stay in Romania, and also happened to be ending a year of “no dating” that I had felt convicted to take. My roommate at the time jokingly asked me, “So, now that your year is up, are you going to run out and snatch a guy?!” We laughed and I emphatically said, “No!” I was in no hurry, though something in me sensed that big changes were coming… I just didn’t know what changes those were.

I continued to run into this guy at a couple more sand volleyball games throughout the Summer, and once he tried to impress me by almost throwing me into a swimming pool and doing handstand push-ups. It worked.

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I came home all giddy, but was so embarrassed at how excited I was about someone I hardly knew. This was very unlike me. Not long after that, my excitement grew (and was validated haha) because this guy ASKED ME ON A DATE! …right after he told me how he had an accident on his motorcycle that day. I think he was trying to impress me… again. Obviously it worked again because I agreed to go out with him. I only requested that we not take said motorcycle on this date. 🙂

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This is how we celebrated the 1 year anniversary of our first date and 6 month wedding anniversary last year. Just a few months pregnant with Rosebud…. 🙂

Two years ago this weekend, I went on my last first date. It was the most special, thoughtful date I could have imagined. The Denton Square (my favorite place), Recycled bookstore, ice cream, and good, no-nonsense discussion about The Lord, ourselves, our views, our dreams.  We agreed to keep getting to know one another as friends for another month or so, and if we did decide to date we would do so for 6 months and then evaluate where the relationship was going. “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but the Lord determines his steps…”

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Dating ❤

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The night Kip proposed. 🙂

Well, we fell in love. Fast. A week later we were dating, a month later “I love you’s” were exchanged (and meant), and six months from our first date we were married. It was a whirlwind, and it was and still is wonderful. I have this man and know I can count on him for all my days.

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We made a big decision shortly after we were married. We knew we wanted a family together, and we wanted to believe the Lord that we can trust Him and that “…like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth.”  (Proverbs 127:3-5) I wouldn’t say we were trying, but we were waiting, trusting, and resting. In May of 2012, we discovered we were pregnant with our little Rosebud. We were ecstatic, thankful, and eventually impatient. 🙂 We couldn’t wait for our little girl to be in our arms.

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From motorcycle rides around the square to nursing babies in the car at weddings…

Now we have this wonderful seven-month-old girl, full of personality and smiles for everyone. She tries to crawl, chews on anything you give her, and has the funniest, sweetest laugh. We love her to pieces and can’t imagine our world without her. We may not be able to take many vacations, buy new furniture, or purchase our first home early in our marriage. But, we’ve found tremendous wealth in her love, and we’ve seen that truly, “children are a heritage from the Lord.” Funny… when you lose your life, you seem to find it.

Well, here we are a year and a half into our marriage, and we have a new milestone to add. I’ll just leave you with this picture of our little lovebug. She wanted to be the one to tell you. 🙂

Eeeeeee!! <3

Eeeeeee!! ❤

Love,
H

Birth of a Mother

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“The most difficult part of birth is the first year afterwards. It is the year of travail – when the soul of a woman must birth the mother inside her.

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The emotional labor pains of becoming a mother are far greater than the physical pangs of birth; these are the growing surges of your heart as it pushes out selfishness and fear and makes room for sacrifice and love.

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It is a private and silent birth of the soul, but it is no less holy than the event of childbirth, perhaps it is even more sacred.” -Joy Kusek

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This quote has come to mind a lot lately, as I’ve faced many nights of waking every hour with baby Rosebud as of late (hence  the sleeping pictures). It’s a tough season.

Holding fast,
H

Pregnancy in Hindsight

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My sister entertaining me during early labor. 😉

Pregnancy is such a good season of life. It grows a woman in more ways than the size of her belly. When I first saw those little pink lines on a pregnancy test, I had no idea what to do next. What books should I read? What clothes do I wear when I start to show? Can I drink this Dr Pepper? Well, thankfully I have a great resource in my sister, Bambi (who blogs over at In the Nursery of the Nation), and she handed over some great books and thoughtful advice.

In hindsight, there are a couple things I’m glad I read and continually referred back to. There are also a few things I wish I had done while our bun was in the oven.

Here are the resources I found most helpful:

  1. “The Naturally Healthy Pregnancy” by Shonda Parker. This was my go-to book for info on diet, vitamins, herbs, etc.
  2. This Post on “What to Wear during Pregnancy”
    “Walking With Dancers” is one of my favorite blogs. She is honest, encouraging, and a captivating writer. I first
    discovered her blog when I re-pinned a pin to this article on Pinterest. Pin pin pin. Pin. (Is that enough “pins?”)
    She  gives some great ideas of what is best to wear for each trimester.
  3. I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ll say it again! If you are pregnant, watch The Business of Being Born.
  4. Maybe the most helpful tool I found was other Moms. The more recent the Mama, the better. 😉 Some people drove me crazy telling me their experiences (mostly how late their babies were… an overdue Mother does not appreciate your heartfelt story of your 2-months-late-delivery), but many were very helpful and encouraging when it came to random little questions or concerns I had. Find a community of Mamas and make some friends!
One of the last pictures of be at my biggest. Eek!

One of the last pictures of be at my biggest. Eek!

And here are a few things I will do next time around, Lord willing:

  1. I will stay active. I will walk with the stroller, continue Pilates, and/or find a prenatal yoga class. I will build strength and stamina for labor, which was exhausting!
  2. I will eat more. Yes, I said more! Towards the end of pregnancy I wasn’t eating very well. I honestly just wasn’t always hungry, but I think it’s because I wasn’t active. I will follow a more consistent diet.
  3. Towards the end of pregnancy and during labor, I will walk more. Especially during labor, next time around I want to try to walk more through contractions. I think my birth with Rosebud could have moved a lot faster if I had been up and about, using gravity to help bring her down.
  4. Lastly, I will buy more nursing bras. End of story.

What were some resources you found helpful for pregnancy or birth? Let me know in the comments! (Ya know, for next time around! ;))

Why We Chose Natural Birth

When we decided to deliver our little Rosebud at a Birth Center instead of a hospital, we got lots of questions and comments.

“Why would you go through all that pain if you don’t have to?” “How can that be safe?” “It doesn’t seem sanitary.” “Are you crazy?” “That’s such a hippy thing to do.” “My cousin tried to have a natural birth and had to be transferred to a hospital and almost DIED on the way.” “What if you need a C-Section?” “Are you scared?” “You know, there’s no medal for having a natural birth.”

It seems that for every choice you make as a parent, someone has roughly 7.65 horror stories of others who made the same decision. Choosing natural birth is no different. Knowing that most people do not have ill intentions behind their questions or stories, I tried to respond as graciously as I could while still sticking to our choice. However, I wanted to take some time to answer some of those questions here so hopefully I can provide some information on any who might be hesitant about natural birth or any who might genuinely think we’re crazy.

1. “Why would you go through all that pain if you could choose to have drugs instead?”

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First of all, we didn’t come to this decision very quickly. I won’t pretend that I am very brave, or that I have a very high pain tolerance. On the contrary, I am quite the wimp. I read birth stories, watched documentaries, and talked to many Mamas. I finally came to realize that I was not sick, I was pregnant. The pain of labor is purposeful. Unlike breaking a bone or  being wildly ill where you may need medication, labor was just that- labor. It was work, but it was a natural process and as long as I had a healthy, normal pregnancy I didn’t need any unnecessary intervention.

Secondly, my reading and research showed me that unnecessary medications for delivery did not have a good track record. Since birth moved into the hospital, several different drugs and methods have been used to “take away the pain” and have had devastating side effects. I highly recommend seeing “The Business of Being Born” (free on YouTube and Netflix). I watched this documentary several times throughout my pregnancy for inspiration and to remind myself why we made the choice we did!

2. “Is it safe?”

Yes. Certified Nurse Midwives are highly trained and experienced in what they do. They handle healthy, normal pregnancies and deliveries. If any intervention (C-Section, Pitocin, etc..) is necessary, they will detect that quickly and a transfer to a hospital will be made. Otherwise, choosing a good birth center or even delivering at home with a midwife is safe, sanitary, and normal.

3. “Would you do it again?”

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Yes. But I’ll be honest. Immediately afterwards, I wasn’t sure I would ever have a baby again. Ha. (I know I’m not the only one who has felt that way!) And honestly, I’m still scared of the next time around! But I know what to expect now, and in hindsight I know what I could have done differently to help my labor move faster: walking more, drinking water early on, and (hopefully) having a water birth. All of which I am free to do in a natural birth setting, as I am not hooked up to any machines or IV’s. I enjoyed feeling in control of my actions as I gave birth to my baby. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
And as for the comments about it being a “hippy” thing to do, I just say “please meet my husband.” “Hippy” is #1 on the list of words that DON’T describe him (though it might be in the top 5 that do describe me :)), but he IS a man who researches and makes decisions based on facts. Many people spend more time researching a new computer or car than they spend researching their options for birth! And while there is no medal for having a baby naturally, I will say there is a wonderful sense of  strength and awe at what God does within the heart and body of a woman in labor.

These are the most common questions and comments I’ve received, but I am always open to more. Feel free to leave me a comment or contact me! I’m not shy. 🙂

Love,  H.

Be Still My Soul: Rosie’s Birth Story cont’d

Update: Read the entire story here!

Read part one of our story here!

“Okay, okay. It’s okay.” I knew I wasn’t quite far along enough to worry- that is, I knew I wasn’t about to have a baby right there on the balcony. But the midwife “on call” did not answer my call! Aaaahh!

I went inside and my sister smiled (she was just a little excited) and asked me what she said. “Uhh, she didn’t answer…” Smile fades. “She didn’t answer?!” I decided to wait another hour and I’d call again. Contractions continued to creep in around my tummy and lower back. Stronger, longer, and closer together…

At 1:15 in the afternoon I called again, and was told that the scheduled midwife was sick and to call the birth center. I gave the center a call and they told me to come on in and “Kathleen will check you out.” Um, Kathleen? I don’t know Kathleen. In all my weeks of prenatal visits, this is the one midwife I had never seen and now she was about to deliver my baby?? What if she’s creepy? What if she drops Rosie? What if she’s too mean or too nice or too old, or, or, or…. I was tempted to cry, but I knew if I lost control then I’d never get it back!

Right as we were leaving, I realized that when I called there were two midwives at the center. It was Sunday. That could only mean one thing… someone else was in labor, too. Someone was in that big beautiful room with that big beautiful birth tub I had imagined myself in. That someone was not me. Oookay. Just “keep it together…”

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My family encouraged me as I told them the news that we would probably not have the water birth we wanted. Kip and I got our birth bag and paraphernalia together and drove the short 5 minutes to the center. At my last appointment I was dilated to 2 cm, and I was hoping to be further this time. When we arrived, we met Kathleen, the woman who would eventually deliver our baby. Immediately we knew- God ordained her to be our midwife. She was such a lovely woman. She was assertive but sensitive, straight-forward but empathetic. Exactly the personality type I needed! She checked my cervix and, LO AND BEHOLD… I was still at 2cm. No progress. Hmph. Needless to say, I was disappointed again. She sent me home to labor more where I would be more comfortable.

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Notice the tea. It definitely helped contractions- it also definitely tasted awful.

We spent the next few hours at home, snacking on fruit while I sat on the exercise ball and had strong contractions every 5 minutes. Kip and I sat outside on our balcony for about an hour, enjoying the weather and getting funny looks from our neighbors. At 4:00 P.M. I sent Kathleen a text, asking if she would check me again. I was starting to feel desperate, but I kept telling myself to “keep it together…” She told me to come in at 5:00 P.M.

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An hour later we were driving to the center, and that 5 minute drive didn’t seem so short anymore. I remember having one contraction in the car and moaning in pain, then feeling embarrassed because it seemed like I was so loud in that small car. (Ha. Loud. Yeah. That concern soon went out the window.) Kathleen checked and said I had progressed to a 3, which I was ecstatic to hear. At least something was changing! She said I could go back home, or I could stay and “see how things progress.” Once I had another contraction I knew I couldn’t handle being in the car again. We stayed.

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Now, here’s where it all gets blurry. The hours seemed so long and so short at the same time. I walked, leaned on the bed, sat on the ball… I did everything I could to get through one contraction at a time, every 3 minutes or so. But the one thing that was my security, that kept me together and helped me feel any sense of comfort was my incredible husband. He was wonderful. He knew what to say, when to say it, and when to be silent. He left my side only once for about three seconds to stretch his legs and take a break. He reminded me that the Lord was taking care of me, he encouraged me to continue and to push through the pain. He was the physical form of the Lord’s hand with me. I knew it the whole time.

One small other thing- I made a playlist on my computer that I wanted to play to help me through labor. Mom and Kip tried everything to get it to play, but it just wouldn’t. I really didn’t care, but I’m so thankful my Mom decided to play one song on her iPad. It wasn’t on my playlist, but I’ll never forget it. It was just what I needed to hear. (I never asked- Mama, did you pick that song on purpose?! :))

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“Be still, my soul: The Lord is on your side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
Leave to thy God to order and provide.
In every change He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: Thy best, thy Heavenly Friend through stormy ways leads to a joyful end.
Be still, my soul: The waves and winds still know His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below.”

I still had the tub on my mind, whether I actually delivered in there or not (it was a significantly smaller tub than the one we planned on, and it was not designed for birth). I had heard over and over about how soothing laboring in the water was, and I just. wanted. IN. I was told to wait until I was at 6cm so I wouldn’t risk slowing labor down. But at 5cm I was ready for that water and dadgummit I was going to get in. I guess I was complaining so much about it that they finally began filling up the tub. It took a long time to fill it up, but even the sound of the faucet running was helpful- at least SOMETHING was happening! 😉 I tried to walk some more, and I made sure to pass by the tub between each contraction to check on its progress.

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At 8 P.M. when the tub was full, my sister told me I could get in. I quickly lowered myself into the water while the last little bit poured in from the faucet. Bambi stuck her hand under the water and exclaimed, “It’s ice cold!” The hot water heater broke before we could get the tub completely full! But the water we had was somewhat warm, and I probably would have stayed in even if it had ice cubes floating in it. It felt soooo good to feel a little bit weightless, a little bit normal and a little bit relaxed. Around this time, my brother and sister-in-law arrived. They had come to pray with us, but once they heard our dilemma they became my water heater: a boiling pot on the stove, a coffee pot, a Keurig, and cups in the microwave were all used to heat up water so my Mom could periodically bring some in to warm up the bathtub. I have no clue how long they did this for me, but it sure helped and I was very, very thankful for them. Afterward my brother said, “I always wondered why they said to boil water when a woman was in labor! Now I know!”

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I reached transition during this time, which is what everyone claims to be the most painful part of labor. I learned they were 100% right. Once right after a contraction, my sister/super-doula mentioned that she heard it might help if they poured water over my stomach during a contraction. I really didn’t think anything could help me at that point, but I think I mumbled “Sure, we can try” or something along those lines. She did it once and then I wouldn’t let her stop. She and Kip sat by the tub and poured water over my tummy for about two hours (or so she says… to me it felt like 10 million). The pain continued to climb, as did my voice, but the water pouring over me and the sweet words from my husband and his tears dripping onto my shoulder kept me going. He was with me.

I eventually moved to the bed around 10:20 P.M.  My fingers were pruny and I wanted to have a little more mobility. I had accepted that I wasn’t going to have a water birth long ago. At this point, I just wanted any dang kind of birth that would get this baby out! My sister asked if I wanted to change into a dry shirt. I think I said “yes” but wouldn’t let them help me change- the contractions were coming too quick and I was too tired. I laid on the bed and had a baby right then and there. Just kidding. I fell asleep. Yep, asleep!! Suddenly contractions that came every 2-3 minutes slowed down to 10 minutes. After about a 20 minute rest, Kathleen came in and told me I needed to let her try to get things going or I needed to get up and walk some more. Walking was the last thing I wanted to do.

Up to this point my water had still not broken. They had asked me several times throughout labor if I wanted them to break it, but I wanted to wait. I heard the contractions got way more painful once the water broke, so I was perfectly content to give birth to that baby in her water bag. But it was “time to get things moving,” she said, so I opted to have my water broken. Uh, HELLO! It was go-time after that. It seems like I almost immediately felt a difference in my whole body. I began to push, which was less painful than it was just hard work. HARD work. It was actually a relief to push. I felt like I was being active instead of just waiting for the next contraction to happen. Kip and Bambi kept commenting on how they could see the baby moving down by the way my tummy looked. “Good,” I thought, “Can I have my C-section now?!”

I was doing my best to “keep it together,” but I wanted to quit. I grew louder. At some point I asked for drugs (haha), and then changed my mind. I kept saying, “I can’t do this anymore. I can’t.” And every time, Bambi would say, “You are doing it, Hannah! You’re doing so good!” Kip stayed silent and wiped my face with a cold washcloth between contractions. My strong, silent comfort on one side, my knowing, encouraging sister on the other, each holding one of my hands. And then there was my sweet Mom, who I knew without a doubt was praying for me. She was talking to God through my labor, and He was answering her. They’ll never know how much I needed all of them right there.

After two hours of pushing, Rosie-Lou seemed to be a little stuck. Her head was visible, but she wasn’t moving down anymore. The word “episiotomy” seems to be kind of a taboo word in Midwifery, but something needed to be done. Kathleen gave me the option, and we took it. I received local anesthetic, a small incision, and minutes later Rosie was born. (So that “ring of fire” I had heard so much about? I never felt it!) They put her on my tummy, but I could barely raise my head to look at her. I was worn. out. The first thing I did was reach down and make sure she was actually a girl. 😉 (Hey, sometimes those sonograms don’t see everything, ya know?) She was the sweetest, tiniest little thing I had ever seen. Her eyes were wide open and she had the sweetest little cone head. Once she calmed down, she heard Kip’s voice and turned towards him… She recognized her Daddy’s voice! My heart melted. At 2:05 A.M. she was finally here in our arms, and that 22 hours of labor (first contraction to birth) was finally over.

After Kip cut the cord, and Rosie was all bundled up, our dear friend Justin (who did our wedding video!) came in and took some wonderful pictures of our new little life. He got some photos & video while he stayed with us until we left the birth center at 5 in the morning. It was his birthday as well, and it was so sweet of him to spend the first hours of his day sharing it with Rosie!
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See the rest of the photos at Justin W. Lowe Productions here!