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The Birth Story of Cooper Jack

March 28, 2019

Welp, I figured I might as well post the littlest love’s birth story here since big bro and big sis got the same treatment!

It still blows my mind how unique each of my births have been. You think I would learn this having gone through it three separate times, but pregnancy is a strange and wonderful thing…you literally forget these feelings each and every time 😂

So we’ll get down to the nitty gritty, and let me warn you the content beyond this point may be graphic. Read at your own peril!

I had convinced myself that baby #3 would be early…and by early I meant 4 days past my guess date. Finley came 13 days past, Paige came 6 days, I thought 4 was a reasonable guess…well, in true form, baby decided he was happier with 7 days past. So on March 6th, I was 41 weeks pregnant and sadly heading to my 41 week appointment that I was so certain I would miss.

My mom and I dropped the big kids off at school and went to Local Coffee for some “breakfast”. I was starving so I grabbed a yogurt and a hippie bar to tide me over. I also wasn’t feeling super awesome and had been battling nausea the last few weeks of my pregnancy, another thing I had never dealt with before!

My midwife, Nikki, hooked me up for a non-stress test which is standard protocol for 41 weeks and beyond. Cooper was a little sleepy so I ended up having to eat a honey stick to get him to wake up long enough to pass. He passed with flying colors! After that, we talked about getting a biophysical profile. Unfortunately, Nikki didn’t have the equipment to do one at her office, so we discussed where to go get one that afternoon. I really didn’t want to go to the hospital because I knew they would be unhappy I was 41 weeks and still pregnant. I didn’t want there to be any reason for them to keep me there. So I paid out of pocket and went across town to Nikki’s sonographer that afternoon. I was pretty stressed having to go through all of these tests yet again (I had to do them with Finley too) because it just adds pressure to the already stressful situation of feeling like you’re on a timeline to have a baby!

After my 41 week appointment, my mom and I killed time by walking through the new IKEA 😊 I joked it would send me into labor…little did I know! I had been having lots of Braxton Hicks throughout the store and my appointment but thought nothing of them although they were starting to capture my attention. While at IKEA, I started feeling even more nauseas so we headed home to rest and try to eat.

At home, I spoke with my Nurse Practitioner at the hospital and it didn’t go well. She expressed a lot of concern over the fact I was still pregnant. This was really upsetting to me because I knew the baby was fine and I was fine…there was no need for her concern at this time and I told her I’m always late. The phone call ended and I started crying and cursing…A.LOT. Luckily, Jeff was on his way home to take me to the BPP appointment and helped calm me down. At this point I felt so awful that the only thing I could stomach for lunch was bone broth.

Jeff got home and took me and my mom to the BPP appointment. Cooper did great on that too and while on the table I started feeling more intense BH. I kept thinking, are these real contractions?? Or just BH?? I honestly couldn’t tell. I grabbed a green juice after the appointment because I couldn’t even think of food, but knew I needed to ingest something.

The appointment ended at about 3:30PM and we started heading home. In the car, I noticed a change about the BH…they were down much lower and had a different feeling. I had about 3 in the car on the way home, about 10 min apart, so I texted my birth team to let them know this MIGHT be the start of labor.

When we got home, I laid down to rest and time the contractions. They were more than manageable, in fact I could sleep during them and basically ignore them, but they were about 5 min apart for several hours. Eventually I got tired of timing them and figured I would know if it was the real deal if I could no longer ignore them.

Around 6PM I got up to make myself some food since I wasn’t feeling as nauseas and I hadn’t really eaten all day. Scrambled eggs and toast for the win 🙌🏻 Then I went upstairs to help put the kiddos to bed. Around 8PM I texted my midwife and told her I had a headache and was exhausted and wanted to go to bed so I was going to take some Tylenol and a bath to see if it helped slow things down. Believe it or not, I was NOT excited to be in labor because I just wanted to sleep!

I got in the bath and just listened to hypnobirthing scripts and tried to relax. I figured the bath would either slow things down or pick things up, and I quickly realized that things were not slowing down. My mom came to check on me and I asked her to start making the bed for birth. My dad and Jeff helped her while I finished up in the tub.

I got out of the tub around 9:30PM and talked with my sisters on video chat so they could “watch me in labor”. They kept remarking how manageable it looked because with each contraction I would lower my head, get really quiet and just breathe and sway. I could tell that active labor was just about starting because the contractions were capturing my attention and couldn’t be ignored, so I texted the birth team that this was definitely labor and to be on standby. Little did I know things would pick up so quickly.

The beauty of this labor was that my labor with Paige was so textbook that I could tell exactly where I was in terms of progression this time around! And I was very present throughout. I also remember thinking that while the contractions were intense, they felt totally manageable. Pushing on the other hand was more challenging this time around! (Perhaps because “little man” was 9lbs 😳)

As my labor intensified, Jeff was also much more aware of how far along I was. He called our doula, Amanda, at about 10PM and told her that this was very reminiscent of Paige’s birth (which progressed VERY fast) and that she needed to head over. She calmly said she would be heading over shortly…but on her end she was frantically texting the others to head over NOW! She also told us to call Nikki and have her start heading over. Jeff called Nikki and I had her listen to me go through a contraction. It just so happened to be double peaked and I could tell she knew that too, and she calmly said, “I’m on my way!”

Amanda arrived around 10:30PM and Nikki around 10:50PM. Amanda got right to work on the hip squeezes which I have needed each labor. They felt amazing and made the contractions that much more manageable. Nikki started checking the baby’s heartrate, got a urine sample, and took my blood pressure and temperature. We dimmed the lights and I got to work.

Both with Paige’s birth and Cooper’s I favored the same labor positions–on the toilet 😳 leaning back and squeezing my hips, and draped over a birth ball on with my knees resting on the ground. I just go back and forth between positions based on how things are feeling. Around 11:10PM, I felt like I needed to be over the birth ball because I was having a lot of downward pressure. Sure enough, as soon as I got to the ball, I said, “I think my water is going to break!” And SNAP! It was like a rubber band popping. With Paige it was like an explosion, so this was slightly different. Then with each subsequent contraction, more water would come out, which was so weird!

I was also very aware of where Cooper’s head was and knew that my body would start pushing soon. With the next contraction, I could feel his head crowning and I started to feel the urge to puke. With each contraction I would dry heave into a trash can 😭 Nikki put some peppermint essential oil in the trash can which helped IMMENSLY! This was actually the first labor that I did NOT throw up 🙌🏻

I was actually trying to slow down the pushing as we hoped our birth photographer would arrive. Unfortunately she missed it, but we had some beautiful post birth photos and lots of fun with the birth team when she arrived!

As Cooper was crowning with the first pushing contraction, I could tell he was a biggun’ because it BURNED! When the contraction ended, he went back in and I knew right then that I did NOT want to hang out with a crowning baby again. With the next contraction, i said enough is enough and I gave a big push to help get his head out. I have to admit, pushing was so hard this time compared to Paige’s birth that I was having a hard time keeping my cool. I knew I was so close to meeting him though, so I just kept going. The next contraction I just wanted it to be over so I went primal and gave it all I had to get the rest of his body out. Jeff was ready and waiting, headlamp and all, to catch his 3rd baby!

Nikki did a quick check to make sure Cooper was looking good and placed him in between my legs and said, “Pick up your baby when you’re ready, mama!” I actually took a minute to take it all in because I was still in disbelief that this baby was born in about 2 hours of active labor 😳🙌🏻 I picked him up and began sobbing. He was here!

My mom heard some noises and came downstairs to make sure everything was ok. As she got to our door she heard a baby cry and asked if she could come in. She met her grandson within 2 minutes after he was born! She was so emotional and Nikki got a wonderful photo of it.

Within 2 minutes of Cooper being born, I told Nikki, “Here comes the placenta” and sure enough, labor was officially over! Seriously, so fast, it was amazing!

Nikki got my vitals and the baby’s, Amanda loved on me by massaging my legs and feet. My mom got me some rice pudding with mango to get some food in my belly and Amanda made me my fave, a placenta smoothie 😂 don’t freak…it is like a dime sized amount of placenta and can’t even be tasted. But it is super effective! The placenta is chock full of oxytocin and can stop hemorrhaging even faster than pitocin. Needless to say, I had no hemorrhaging 👍🏻

It was such an amazing birth and so similar yet so different to the others. I am beyond fortunate to have had the ability to birth the way I wanted and to have it in such an intimate setting. Thank you to the birth team for supporting our little family and helping us safely birth these amazing little humans!

P.s. if this makes no sense, know that I haven’t slept in 3 weeks 😂

The Birth Story of Paige Cosette

December 8, 2016

Disclaimer:  If you are grossed out by gory details “bloody show” or words like “placenta” I advise skipping this post.

This pregnancy felt quite different from the get go than my first pregnancy with Finley.  I knew the date of conception within a 48 hr window, whereas with Finley, I was taken aback to find out I was pregnant.  And by week 6 of pregnancy, I had pretty uncomfortable nausea that lasted until nearly 22 weeks.  I had a feeling from the beginning that we were probably pregnant with a little girl, but I remained in denial all the way until her birthday!  There was no way we were going to have a sweet little girl…I was destined to be a boy mom 🙂  Needless to say, we were ecstatic to confirm that she was in fact a little girl!

Another difference between pregnancies was my patience near the end, for sure!  With Finley, I felt I could wait forever for him to decide to show his cute little face, but with Paige, I began to feel impatient almost as soon as I was full term.  I really think that this can be attributed to the fact that the guys at the gym were constantly remarking about how I was “still pregnant”…all before I even hit 40 weeks!  That constant mind chatter can take its toll.  I’m so glad she decided to show earlier than Finley though!

Ok, here is the story:

At 40 weeks 5 days, I woke up feeling like I needed to move.  This was Thanksgiving day, and I normally would do a Turkey Trot with my family, but given the fact that I was super pregnant, I figured a long walk would be great.  My mother-in-law and sister-in-law and I (and Finley) walked 2 miles to Whole Foods for coffee and tea.  My body was pretty tired after the walk there, and I decided it would be silly to walk 2 miles back, so we got a ride from Jeff.  When we got home, I just tried to rest and relax, so I took a nice hot (luke warm) bath and read a book.  I think I might have also taken a nap??  Basically, I enjoyed the day and didn’t do much.  Just before bed, I began to feel a little antsy, like “Ok, baby…let’s get this show on the road”, so I decided to do acupressure (about 3 rounds) and the first 2 phases of the Miles Circuit…which basically entail napping, ha!  After falling asleep multiple times during the two exercises, I decided it was time for bed.  My mother-in-law asked if I felt anything, and I replied with my standard answer, “Nope.  And if this goes down like it did with Finley, I won’t feel anything until I just wake up in labor.”  And sure enough…that is what happened.

At 3:30AM I awoke to what felt like round ligament pain.  It was sharp and shooting and I shot out of the bed because of it.  The more awake I became, the more I realized that my stomach was bothering me also.  I went to the toilet and my body began “the big clear out”.  At that point, I was fairly certain that I was in labor, although the start was so mild that it had me wondering.  I texted my doulas and midwife to let them know that I either had a bad dish at Thanksgiving, or that I was in the early stages of labor.  My midwife told me to go to bed and to rest, which I did, but simultaneously began timing my contractions.  At this point, every contraction felt like an intense menstrual cramp, but they were all manageable.  Other than having to go to the bathroom until I had emptied myself of EVERYTHING, I was able to lay down and talk through all of my contractions.  My contractions were about 3-5 minutes apart and lasting anywhere from 45 to 90 seconds…I was obsessively timing them.

Around 5:45AM I asked Jeff if he could make me toast and eggs because I felt like I could eat and that I should.  We watched the news and ate breakfast together while I bounced on my birthing ball.  Around 6:30AM my midwife called me and told me to stop timing my contractions, that I would know when they changed, and that she wanted me to do some self-care:  take a shower, take a nap, etc.  I thought she was crazy for suggesting that I would be able to do these things, but she was TOTALLY right.  I took a shower, blow-dried and straightened my hair, and cut my fingernails.  Then I laid down to continue sleeping.  Around 8AM, I found I was having to moan or vocalize through my contractions, so I decided that things were picking up a little bit and that I should probably finish prepping some of the home birth stuff before things were too intense for me to focus and be useful.  I got up, stripped the bed, ran 4 loads of laundry, changed into my birthing outfit, re-made the bed with clean sheets, then the shower curtain layer, and then the birth sheets on top.  I opened up the birth kit and put the pool, liner, hose, and tarp in the bathroom for Jeff to start working on.  By the end of all this prep, I found I was having to lean over and sway my hips during contractions while also vocalizing softly.  This was about 9:30AM or so.  I also began to have Jeff do hip squeezes on me and continued drinking water and labor-aide in between contractions.  Jeff felt it was a good time to call in doula support, so I texted Amanda and asked her to start heading over.

Amanda arrived around 10AM and by then I could not speak during contractions and needed to be bent over or on all fours to work through them.  I kept alternating between laboring on the toilet leaning back and then draping myself over the birthing ball while having Jeff or Amanda do hip squeezes on me.  Within an hour, I began to get a bit unnerved by what I felt were very strong contractions.  I felt like I just couldn’t stay ahead of them or get on top of them, but I was also very confused.  I knew I was obviously in labor, but I had no idea where I was in the labor process.  I was having pretty intense contractions, but my water had not broken and I still hadn’t had a bloody show.  This made me think that I wasn’t dilated very much.  I began to doubt myself at this point.  Amanda felt we should call my midwife Nikki so she could listen to me through a contraction.  Nikki suggested that I get into the shower and try to relax my body so my contractions could intensify.  I was astounded…INTENSIFY!!??  I felt I could hardly handle them as they were!

Getting into the shower proved to be a bit more difficult than originally anticipated.  Jeff was filling the birth tub and had removed our shower head to do so.  I went with Amanda to the downstairs shower, but could only get luke-warm water because the water heater was maxed out filling the birth tub.  So, I climbed the stairs to the second floor where I got into Finley’s shower.  The hot water felt great, but the contractions were so intense at this point that the hot water really only felt good for a few minutes.  While I was in the shower, I kept remarking how I could feel this intense downward pressure with each contraction.  I was amazed that I could feel my body shifting and opening and I could actually feel the baby moving downward.  I never felt this with Finley, but looking back, it is because I spent the entire 15 hour labor with intense back labor.

At one point in the shower, I remember looking down and remarking that my belly looked like a torpedo.  It was the baby shifting position and moving down.  All good things that I had no idea were happening because I was so doubtful!  I remember before I got into the shower, I had the thought (but didn’t say out loud), “I understand why people like epidurals…pain relief sounds good right about now!”  But by the time I was getting out of the shower, I remember thinking, “There is NO WAY I could get into a car and go to the hospital for that epidural right now.  I would straight up die.”  Just before I got out of the shower, I vomited.  This was a good sign because it was likely the peak of transition.  With Finley, I vomited THE.ENTIRE.LABOR.  So not constantly vomiting was another awesome perk of this labor with Paige :-).  I ended up asking to get out of the shower because I thought the water was getting cold and I wanted to get into the birth tub.  Fortunately and unfortunately, my midwife had a loose policy that laboring mamas must be checked before they get in the tub, and she wasn’t there yet.  I remember moaning over the sink saying, “I think I need Nikki now!  I think I need her!”

My doula Amanda called her again and was describing what I was feeling and how I was coping with contractions.  I didn’t know it, but Nikki was already headed to the house.  In my mind, she didn’t believe me that my contractions were super intense and she thought I was being a weakling dealing with them (oh the crazy thoughts of a labouring mama!!).  Nikki and Amanda then asked me to “check myself.”  I remember looking at Amanda with an exasperated gaze like, “WHAT?!?! I don’t know how to determine how dilated I am!”  Little did I know was that they were trying to get me to feel the baby’s head.  Apparently they knew it was down quite low based on my contractions, but it never dawned on me.  I reached up to check my cervix and couldn’t find it for the life of me, but I did feel something hard.  I told them I felt something hard and they said it was the baby’s head, but I still was in disbelief.  When I removed my hand, I had blood on my fingers and I excitedly said, “Look!  Blood!”  How funny that by seeing blood I THEN believed I was actually going to have a baby.  Feeling the baby’s head just wasn’t enough to convince me 😉

We then made the trek back down the stairs which I tried to do quickly between contractions.  When we got back to the bedroom, Jeff decided it was a good idea to lay out the plastic sheeting I bought to help protect the carpet.  Great timing!  I draped myself over the birth ball and kept saying, “They are so strong!  I feel like everything is being pulled down.” And just at the end of one of those first few contractions there was a, “POP!” And a spray of water…all over Jeff’s legs! Immediately after the water broke, there was Paige’s head, ready to bust out. I was so alarmed that a) my water broke on its own (with Finley, my CNM broke it for me) and b) I had a baby crowning already (agree they broke my water with Finley I had nearly 3 hours of labor Abd 45 min of intense pushing left)!!  I began sort of panicking at this point because I was in zero control of my body, and there was so much power working from within me to get Paige out. 

I had the one contraction where my water literally exploded and Paige began crowning, then with my second contraction, my midwife swooped in to save the day!  She had gotten caught in traffic behind a terrible accident and things progressed for me at home much faster than expected! She calmly asked, “OK Alyssa, want to get in the tub now??” No check was needed because I was obviously fully dilated…baby’s head almost out? Check 😉 My response?  “I can’t move!!” The next contraction, out popped our little Sweet P. into her daddy’s arms.  It was all over so fast!

So from start to finish, labor was about 9.5 hrs, but active labor was a whopping 2.5 hrs or so!  When asked about our home birth, I always say, “It was everything I had hoped for, yet nothing I expected.”  My body amazed me once more, and I calmly laboured in the comfort of my own home while I witnessed my body go into labor unprovoked, ease into labor gradually, move the baby down in a manner that I could actually sense, break my bag of waters without intervention, and push a baby out without any effort on my part. If anything I was trying to keep from pushing!! The whole experience was unbelievable and I so hope we get to do it again! 

The postpartum recovery was even more amazing though. My midwife and doula stayed for almost 2.5 hours, taking vitals, helping me shower, cleaning up, starting laundry, making placenta smoothies (was delicious by the way), helping prep food for me, smudging herbs, and loving on us. Finley got to meet his little sister in his house, 2 feet from where she was born. The whole experience was truly epic. 

Test!

August 25, 2016

I’m testing the blog to see if it works. If it does, I’m hoping to start writing again a little bit 🙂 if not, I’ll have to decide if I want to start from scratch.

Cocozia Plus Chocolate FTW!!!

January 17, 2015

I was recently contacted about reviewing Cocozia’s newest product–Chocolate Coconut Water–and I happily agreed!!

I have to admit, I was not sold on chocolate coconut water. I thought it would be like watered down chocolate, but it was actually quite good! It tasted a bit like a really light chocolate milk 🙂

I made a delicious smoothie with it that tasted more like dessert than anything else, but I kid you not it was chock full of protein and healthy fats!

Cocozia Chocolate PBB Smoothie
– 1 container of Chocolate Cocozia
– 1 frozen banana
– 2 tbsp White Chocolate Wonderful Peanut Butter
– 2 scoops Chocolate Progenex Protein Powder
– a handful of ice

This was a great post workout supplement and DELICIOUS!!

The Birth Story of Finley James Tetrault

December 8, 2014

So, let me preface this by saying that this birth story is being written from the VERY BEGINNING, to include my journey towards understanding my body and womankind in general, all the way through labor and delivery.  I am writing all of this out because I want a place to come back and reflect should I experience these struggles again and I also think that this topic is something that a lot of women experience but don’t actually talk about.  I think it is SO IMPORTANT to talk about these issues and to help women understand that we are all different but all of our bodies WORK.  In my journey to get pregnant my biggest fear was that my body was BROKEN, that I couldn’t have babies and that I spent my whole life trying NOT to get pregnant so when the time came to actually get pregnant the ultimate irony would be that I was incapable of doing it.  I also want to state that I won’t be gory, but the details from this point forward may be graphic for some, so YOU’VE BEEN WARNED!

About 2 years ago, I was taking the pill like most young women in America, and I noticed that I was no longer able to have a cycle.  I gave it one more month before I tossed in the towel and sure enough, no cycle in January 2013 either.  I decided to go off of the pill to see if that was the problem and I was still unable to have a cycle off the pill.  I began to get really worried…where was it!?!  Normally, you miss a pill and your cycle shows the next day, here I was 3 months and nothing.  I began investigating…

After countless tests at the doctor’s office, I decided to take things into my own hands.  I knew that my body was out of its normal equilibrium and started reading a book called WomanCode to try to bring my body back to its normal stasis.  I also started doing something called seed cycling to bring my 60 day cycles down to a normal range of days.  My cycles went from 60 to 45 to 31 days on the seed cycling protocol!  I couldn’t believe it!  My strategic eating and nutrition supplementation was working and my body was responding accordingly.  After my 31 day cycle, I expected to have a 28 day cycle next because this was the optimal cycle length that seed cycling was striving for.  I tracked my ovulation the entire time and day 14 came and went with no ovulation, so did days 15, 16, 17…25, 26, 27, 28…you get the picture.  I was devastated.  What the heck was going on?!  And when day 31 came and went and no cycle, I lost my mind.  I was going to do a full on hormone cleansing diet after my cycle showed because there had to be an answer for our struggles to get pregnant.  We had been trying for 6 months at this point (although we only had 3 chances because I was having 60 day cycles), and no luck.  Then, one night (around day 48) I had a dream that I got a positive pregnancy test.  The next day, I figured I would take one (it had been a while…why not?) but expected it to be blank like all of the other hundreds of tests I had taken 🙂  But it wasn’t…and that is the beginning of Finley James’ journey into our loving arms.

My pregnancy was very uneventful and in all reality, very easy.  I know I was lucky to have mild discomfort during the 1st trimester (I called it the HCG hangover…I really just felt mildly hungover for about a month), no problems with our baby’s development in utero, and no other aches and pains.  I was able to work out up until about 2 days prior to my delivery and I was so thankful for that.  The only thing I wish I had known in hindsight was to just allow myself to be blissfully happy.  I was so afraid to allow myself to be happy for the fear of discovering something terrible during an ultrasound or blood test or whatever.  I wish I could have just allowed myself to be a bit more carefree.  I finally got to this point around week 30-32…I knew everything was going to be just fine and I just needed to relax and enjoy what was left of being pregnant.

So, back to the deets.  I was 41 weeks and 3 days when I went in for my second NST and everything was great; however, my fluid was cloudy and I was only dilated 1 cm, 60% effaced and the baby was at -2 station.  He was also still posterior.  I decided to allow my midwife to strip my membranes and then spent the next 48 hours doing spinning babies exercises to try to get him to flip anterior.  I started having contractions about every 5-7 min (mild ones, but real ones!) and they lasted about 1-1.5 minutes.  This started about 24 hours after the membrane stripping and kept persisting through my next NST.  On Wednesday, I was pretty disheartened that Finley hadn’t arrived yet because I was up against the clock and feeling pressure from my midwife to induce via Foley Bulb on Thursday night.  I was an emotional wreck trying to decide how to proceed…did I allow them to induce me?  Did I hold out until baby decided to arrive?  I had my second NST at 41 weeks and 5 days and the medical team became slightly concerned.  Finley was getting “excited” enough for them.  He needed to elevate his heart rate by 15 bpm over his baseline heart rate and sustain that elevated heart rate for 15 seconds, but he was only holding it for 10 seconds.  This meant he FAILED the NST.  This really made me angry because I didn’t understand what that 5 seconds he wasn’t sustaining for meant and didn’t feel that I got a good medically founded explanation.  After that, we did a Biophysical Profile and everything looked great (fluid levels, etc), but my midwife still felt we should induce Thursday night.  I had her strip my membranes again and left sobbing, totally torn about what to do.

That day, I continued to feel  the normal contractions and they were definitely more noticeable, but I was so distraught that I just kept ignoring them.  Hubby suggested super spicy Thai food for lunch, so he picked some home and came home from work to eat with me.  We also watched some funny videos to try and lift my spirits…this one was my favorite 🙂  My friend Andrea also asked us to come over to dinner at her house so we could unwind, hang in the presence of great friends and company, and eat delicious food.  Before that I had my one final ditch effort at going into labor:  acupuncture.  I went and saw the acupuncturist (if you live in Dayton and are pregnant and up against an induction, GO SEE HER!!! She has a 48 hr guarantee of sending you into labor :-)).  Because of my tight deadline (induction within 24 hrs) she amped up my session and gave me STEM treatment along with some pressure points for turning the baby.  I had contractions during the procedure like I expected but didn’t feel all that different afterwards.  I did not have high hopes that anything I had been doing thus far would work.  We went and hung out with Andrea and her husband, had lots of laughs, delicious food and a glass of wine to help me unwind.  It was the perfect “last supper” although I didn’t know it at the time!

We called our Bradley Instructor on the way home to talk about options for delaying induction and felt really confident about postponing the induction if we had to deal with that the next day.  I went to bed at 11:30 PM and still felt the exact same.  If I only knew I would be waking up at 12:30 AM in labor, I would have gone to bed earlier!

I woke up at 12:30 AM with the most insane urge to go to the bathroom.  I actually thought that I had been poisoned by Andrea 😉 (we talked about putting Castor Oil in the food to help speed things up!) or that I had the flu or something.  I went to the bathroom and back to bed, only to feel the urge to go to the bathroom again about 2 minutes later.  After 3 trips to the toilet, I noticed that these trips were all about 2 minutes apart and that I was moaning…not normal for me.  It was at this moment that I figured I should start timing my bathroom trips.  Sure enough, the moaning was about 1-1.5 minutes long and occurred about every 2-3 minutes.  These were contractions??  They were nothing like I expected, although I knew I was still in the early stages of labor.  I was experiencing my BIG clear out. The other thing I did not expect in labor was my body’s desire to clear EVERYTHING out…cue:  incessant vomiting.  It truly felt like I had gotten a really bad stomach bug!  I woke Hubby to tell him I thought I was in labor and he told me to lay down and rest if I could.  I told him I had to move through contractions and they were really close so I didn’t think I could rest.  He called my doula and she suggested a bath, so he drew one for me and I was able to catch a few minutes of shut eye in there.  I had to get out after about 10 minutes because I was shivering uncontrollably (something that also continued throughout labor!).  It was at this point that I knew this was for real and that we should finish packing our hospital bags.  I left out things like underwear and coming home outfits because I didn’t know what would fit or what the weather would be like…it was great because it gave me a task to focus on!

Hubby called my doula at 2:30 AM and told her we wanted her to come join us in laboring at home because things were getting a bit more heavy.  I had started vomiting and was having back labor at this point and we could use the extra set of hands!  She showed up around 3:30 AM, walked straight into the house and began working her magic immediately.  For any of you in Dayton that are in search of a doula, get with me for her contact information…she is out of this world amazing!  She proceeded to apply counter-pressure and massage my back to combat the back labor I was having for the next 12 HOURS of labor.  Hubby and I were SO thankful that she was there.

I decided I wanted to leave for the hospital no later than 6:30 AM to avoid rush hour traffic, and I’m so happy we left when we did.  I felt much more secure once we got to the hospital and the labor tub they had for me was amazing…way better than what I had set up at home!  I had about 3-4 contractions in the car on the way to the hospital and thought they would be terrible, but they were actually not bad at all.  I just kept moaning low and keeping my whole body as limp as I could.  My doula rubbed my knee to comfort me through them as she drove.  The contractions REALLY intensified when we got to the hospital and I had about 6-7 on the way from the car to the Labor and Delivery Ward.  I was insistent on walking the whole way and CLIMBING THE STAIRS!!  I thought it would for sure help the baby drop and he sure did!  He was at zero station, almost +1, and I was dilated to 6 cm, 90% effaced.

The worst part of the entire labor process was the fact that I had to stay still for an NST when I got to the hospital.  They needed a 20 minute read and I was NOT comfortable staying still.  Eventually, they realized this wasn’t going to happen, so they gave me a mobile monitor and things got much better.  Most of the NST was taken as I sat on the toilet 😉  I also didn’t want an IV, but since I had been puking so much, I figured this would be a good thing.  I got a few syringe fulls of saline (to allow me to stay mobile) and some Zofran to combat the nausea…that didn’t work all that well, but luckily my stomach was empty :-/

Once the NST was done, I was allowed to get in the labor tub and OH MY GOODNESS was that divine.  Unfortunately, I was so comfortable in the tub, that my labor stalled…for 5 hours.  My midwife had me get out of the tub and move around, doing exercises through the contractions (not fun) and then when I still hadn’t gotten past 7 cm, she announced she thought we should break my water.  I quickly agreed…although to begin with I didn’t want this to happen because it was an intervention, but after 12 hours of labor I was definitely OK with this intervention.

This got very intense after my water broke, but I still felt I could handle them until about an hour before I made it to 10cm.  I never actually though, “I need an epidural!!”, but I did start to lose control during the contractions.  I was reminded to keep my moans low and to stay loose.  I said a few times, “I don’t think I can do this!!”  “I think I’m dying!!” and this quickly alerted me that I was going through transition.  I knew I was close to the end and my birth support team reminded me of that too.

Before I knew it, I was at 10cm and cleared to push.  I thought I would LOVE pushing, but I actually found it really frustrating.  I was mentally berating myself about how terrible I was at pushing because I had such a tough time getting his head out!  Little did I know that I was naturally birthing a 10 lb baby.  After 40 minutes of pushing, my midwife announced that I needed to get the head out on the next push because they couldn’t find the baby’s heartbeat (he was really low in my pelvis), so I pushed with all my might and definitely felt the ring of fire.  It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be and I think it is because I had been stretching for the last 40 minutes.  When Finley’s head was finally out, I looked down and thought I had pushed out his whole body (his head was THAT BIG), but then my midwife said, “one more push and you’ll have his body out!”.  I barely pushed, in fact I think I could have sneezed, and there he was!  A BIG warm squishy baby right on my chest…I was in awe, and Hubby teared up looking at his new baby boy.  The first thing I asked, “Does he have all 10 fingers and toes!?!?!”

My birth experience was so so amazing.  I actually told my husband I didn’t think we could top it ever again (although I hope we can!).  My husband was amazing and so sweet during all of it, my doula was fantastic and so crucial to the whole production…I love her dearly!!  My midwife, oh my midwife, how I loved her.  Any military members or dependent wives that are delivering at Wright Patterson AFB, Jane Vesel is your key to an amazing birth experience.  If you want to go naturally, she will be there to support you and I felt that I couldn’t have done it without her.  Despite how long this narrative is, I actually skimmed over quite a few details (I need to go feed my baby!!), so if there is anything else you have more questions on, feel free to contact me with them.

Bottom line though:  I have never been more amazed with my body before or proud to be a woman.  My body DOES work and I can grow a baby, naturally deliver a baby, and feed that baby all with my body (just like Jim Gaffigan says).  I want to apologize to my body for always thinking that it wasn’t good enough, or skinny enough, or strong enough.  I now know that I am good enough and my body is amazing.  I couldn’t be more proud to be me 🙂  I hope that every woman that wants to have a baby is able to have this experience too because it is the most empowering experience in existence! Girl power!

xoxo

Alyssa

Old Factory Candles–A Review!

November 8, 2014

How many of you have been searching for clean burning and chemical free candles?  I know I have!  So when Old Factory Candles contacted me about reviewing their clean burning soy candles I was ecstatic!  Just what I needed to escort me into the beautiful fall and winter holidays.

The candles come in a themed set of 3.  You can buy them on Amazon and if you’re a Prime member, they are a great quick gift for the holidays!  Free shipping and arrival in 2 days, not bad eh? 😉

I thought the packaging was cute and the candle size is also really nice.  They are petite but are promised to burn for 20 hours total per candle with the scent intact the whole time 🙂  I hate when the scent leaves after the first burn!

I chose the Fall Harvest Collection.  I felt it would be perfect for this cool Fall weather we were experiencing! The scents are all very rich yet subtle.  But seriously, check out all of these scents!!  Some of them are a little risque 😉

Fall Harvest
Pumpkin Spice
Cranberry
Autumn Leaves

Happy Holidays
Christmas Tree
Candy Cane
Gingerbread

Winter Wonderland
Hot Cocoa
Roasted Chestnut
First Snow

Romance
Rose Petals
Champagne
Dark Chocolate

Fresh & Clean
Lemongrass
Olive Blossom
Fresh Linen

Spa Day
Cucumber
Lemongrass
Green Tea

Vacation
Sea Breeze
Hawaiian Lei
Awapuhi

Coffee Shop
Coffee Bean
Hazelnut
Chai Tea

Man Cave
Straight Razor
Leather
Mahogany

High as a Kite
Cannabis
Incense
Bag O’ Cookies

New Born Baby
Baby Powder
Baby Shampoo
First Blanket

50 Shades
Leather
Vanilla Sex
Jasmine Bubbles

I knew exactly what I would do to break these candles in!  A luxurious bubble bath 🙂

The candles burned brightly and were really delightful smelling.  Their smoke was clean and it was really nice to know I wasn’t burning a bunch of toxins into the air the baby and I were breathing!  Because I couldn’t find exactly what ingredients were in the candles, I emailed the company rep and here is the answer I got: “Our candles are free from parabens and phthalates, which is very rare in the world of scented candles.  We pay more for our fragrances and work with a fragrance company to produce a line of pure fragrances that combine with our natural wax to make the purest-burning candle possible.”

Woohoo!  I will definitely buy Old Factory Candles again in the future, maybe even for gifts for a lucky few at Christmas 😉

What do you look for when buying candles? Is it only about the scent?  Or is it also about the ingredients?

xoxo

Alyssa

Pregnancy Recap

November 8, 2014

Well well well, here we are at 41 weeks pregnant and 1 day 🙂 I’m not going to lie, this is so surreal.  I mean, I knew that I was pregnant, and I knew that I would most likely blow past my “due date”, but never did I really imagine myself sitting here, typing this at this point in my life!

All in all, I feel very lucky that I had such a wonderful pregnancy.  Don’t get me wrong, it was full of ups and downs, but I’ve ultimately reached a point of such peace with my body and this process and my baby that I am completely happy where I am, sitting here and typing all of this out 🙂

For all the pregnant women out there, let me just give you a few of the things that I’ve learned along the way.  For those who have been there and done that, you’ll have to let me know if you agree with any of the things I’ve said here:

1.  If you decide you want to get genetic screening, be prepared for the possibility of an emotional roller coaster.

— Although I don’t regret choosing to get the genetic screening options that we did, in the heat of the moment, I COULD NOT handle it.  We were told at week 20 that our baby had a choroid plexus cyst (CPC) on his brain and that this was a common marker for genetic issues like Trisomy 18 and 21.  Learning this in combination with all of the raging hormones and the “fear of finding something terrible” was something I couldn’t handle.  It turned out that everything was just fine, but in the moment, I couldn’t see past the fear of this discovery.  So lesson learned:  remain objective about everything you learn during pregnancy and TRUST THE STATISTICS!!

2.  Ultrasounds are both joyous and stressful…especially if you act like I did in the above.

— Every ultrasound, I started out completely breathtaken with the awe of seeing my sweet baby on the screen in front of me.  “It is a baby!! I knew it!!” would race through my mind and then about halfway through, I found myself completely struck with panic.  “What if they find something? Then what?”  At our 28 week ultrasound we were checking to make sure that the CPC was gone and the ultrasound tech (someone very young and inexperienced) commented, “WOW, your baby’s head is REALLY big.”  Our baby’s head was measuring 4 weeks ahead of where it should be, yet still within the normal percentiles.  So, there really was nothing to worry about, but of course my mind began racing “Is there something wrong?  Is his head too big?”  The curse of motherhood…always worrying, even before you meet your sweet baby.  I made a decision right then and there to ignore that comment and to trust the process.  My midwife told me if I started to measure abnormally (fundal height) that I could get ultrasounds at that point to check on the baby’s progress, but if all stayed normal then we would just proceed as we normally would.  It still took a lot of positive thinking and repetition to keep my mind from freaking out after this.  This, however, was also the turning point for me in the pregnancy when I decided “I won’t be scared any further…and I will stop looking for what’s wrong and start enjoying all that is right!”

3. Hire a doula!

— Although my husband has been a total sweetheart and tried his best, there are still some things that husbands just cannot know or be prepared for.  My doula, although pricey, has been such a lifesaver.  She is experienced, knowledgeable, loving, kindhearted and a killer masseuse.  Even though I am still waiting to give birth, it gives me a very warm and comforting feeling to know that both she and my husband will be there to support me.  I think it is the “support trifecta” and I couldn’t imagine not having both of them there 🙂  She is a great comfort to my husband too!  Takes the pressure off of him just a smidgen too 😉

4. Take birthing classes with your spouse!

— Not only is this a great way to bond with your spouse  over the pregnancy and the impending changes headed your way, it also helps to arm you both with knowledge of the process.  Many people think “This is a natural process, why do I need to learn about it?”  Knowledge is power people.  Knowing how labor starts, what to look for, how to respond, and what is normal and what is abnormal is so great to have in your arsenal of knowledge.  Especially for people who get panicky when it comes to pain.  Having the knowledge also helps you plan ahead for what you would like your birth to be like.  We did the Bradley Method and loved it; however, there are lots of options for people who don’t want to spend 12 weeks learning all the minutiae 🙂

5. Don’t fall victim to the “I’m pregnant I can eat whatever I want” belief.

— Don’t get me wrong, I let myself indulge when I wanted to, but I am so thankful that I stuck to my healthy eating habits and workouts.  I truly believe that it made pregnancy so much more enjoyable because I felt GOOD.  I worked out 5+ days a week, walked the dogs several miles a day, kept lifting weights, swimming and running.  Running had to take a back seat at 28 weeks because of pubic bone pain/discomfort, but everything else has remained about the same!

6. Trust the process.

— Pregnancy is a miraculous experience and while it is highly medicalized, publicized and glamorized, it is also a completely natural process.  When I think back to everything I did to sustain a healthy pregnancy, I’ve realized that I really didn’t have to “do” much.  My body knew what to do and the baby knew what to do…essentially, I just existed, didn’t eat a few “risky foods” and carried on with my normal life.  I would have saved myself so much stress and anxiety if I had just trusted the process from the very beginning.

7. Learn to nod and smile.

— When it comes to pregnancy, labor, delivery and child-rearing, EVERYBODY has an opinion.  Oh, and EVERYBODY has to share it.  For some reason, the women who were most traumatized by pregnancy, et al, really are the ones who love to share.  I think it is a method of healing for them, but unfortunately, for many pregnant women it is more scarring than helpful to hear these stories.  Pregnancy has been turned into something “scary” rather than beautiful.  We proselytize fear and anxiety rather than embracing and celebrating the beauty and the miracle that is pregnancy and motherhood.  This is another reason why I think that knowledge is so important for pregnant women…it helps to combat fear when you know the facts and the stats 🙂  So when someone starts to tell you their horrific tales of pregnancy, labor and delivery, either stop them and say “Thank you, but I’m only looking for happy and positive stories during my pregnancy” or just turn your brain off, nod and smile.  I did the latter because I had a really hard time telling people to politely “shut up”.

I’m sure I could keep writing for days, but these are the things that surface in my mind from the past 41 weeks. What do you have to say about your pregnancy experiences or lessons learned?

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