Tuesday, January 14, 2014

A Farewell Post

I've decided to say 'goodbye' to this blog.  It's been almost a year since I've posted, due to lack of inspiration, lack of time and being discouraged that I accidentally lost all my photos here.

I've recently decided to start a new blog called "Ben and Melissa do."  You can read more about it here.  Please do join us in our new space!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

{Catching up on} Asher: Months 1 & 2

I'm going to do some "catch-up" posts, going back to share updates.  So we'll be a little out of order for a bit. ;]

If I had to describe Asher's first month in one word, it would be "growth."  Man oh man did that baby grow.  Born at 8 lbs 8 oz, he was weighing it at 9 lbs 4 oz at one week old.  At 2 weeks old he was up to 10 lbs, 9 oz.  We squeezed him into size newborn clothes for about the first week of his life (most of the tags do say 5-8 lbs) and then we gave up and moved him up to 3 months sized clothing.  We also barely got a chance to put newborn diapers on him.

We found out at his 1 week appointment that something was bothering his belly.  (He had mucous in his stool, a taut, gassy belly and a bit of rash on his bum.)  Naturally, I cut dairy from my diet first.  Things started to clear up right away.  Apparently we make kids who can't handle dairy.  I blame it on the fact that Ben grew up on a dairy farm...lol.

At his 2 week appointment we found out that he had thrush, and we're still battling it.  It's not bad, bad... but sometimes I feel I'm just managing it, not really getting rid of it.

In his second month, Asher had his 6 week check up and weighed in at 12 lbs 7.5 oz.  This boy loves to eat.  It's so mind boggling to me that I feed him exactly the same way I did his older sister (exclusively breastfed, on demand) and he is SO much bigger than she was at this age.  A friend suggested to me that Ziva must have gotten skim and Asher drinks half & half.  Hehe.

Asher got his first cold in his second month and it was absolutely no fun at all.  Poor boy.  I was the only one in the house who didn't get the cold.  For a week straight, about one feeding a day, post-nasal drip (I assume) would trigger his gag reflex and he'd throw up an entire feeding all over himself and me.  Every night Asher and I would climb into the shower to wash the puke off.  Oh how happy I was to be done with that!

Side note, and I'm not being compensated to say this, the Nosefrida is amazing.  It sounds disgusting, but it's so worth it.  And it's really not that gross.  It worked so much more effectively and quickly than the bulb nasal aspirator.  And amazon was amazing, I don't know if my order was packed by a fellow mom, or what, but by some miraculous feat I ordered it one afternoon and it came the next day.  I selected 2 day shipping.  Oh yeah, and if you're bored, read the reviews.  They're hilarious.

And a few extra photos from the 2 month shoot.  I want this framed for my wall...


Friday, March 22, 2013

Asher's Story


***It took me awhile to come to terms with the way Asher's birth ended up going.  In my mind I was going to have a perfectly pretty, relatively easy (2nd birth is easier right?), home water birth.  I pictured this perfectly serene scene where I catch my baby under the water and pull him to my chest.  I didn't leave any room for flexibility in that plan.  That's what I pictured and that's how it would go.  Oh, how wrong I was.  I still feel a little vulnerable sharing such a personal thing, this birth.  But looking back, Asher's birth may not have been "pretty" but it was beautiful, because it results in our boy.  I want to share to empower and inspire other women.  I hope you enjoy reading. =]***

January 17th, 2013 (one week past my due date) we needed groceries.  (For the past 3 or so weeks we had stocked up, thinking it might be the last trip before the birth, then when the cupboards got low and we had to shop again I was bummed out.)  So out we went as a family to Target, and then Hannaford.  I was feeling light contractions the entire trip, but had been feeling them off and on for a couple weeks, so I didn’t say anything.  I didn’t want to get my hopes up.  This was around 6:30pm.  Towards the end of our Hannaford trip I told Ben, “You might want to buy a loaf of bread.  I don’t think I’m going to be baking any.  I’ve been having contractions since we left the house.”

I had done laundry at my parents’ house that day and had been feeling a dull back ache the entire day, but kind of ignored it, again, not wanting to get my hopes up.  We left the grocery store and stopped by my parents’ to pick up the clean laundry.  My sports bra I planned to wear in the birth tub was in that laundry, so, just in case I needed it, I decided it would be good to pick up.  I told Ben to let my mom know about the contractions, but not to let anyone get their hopes up. ;] 

We got home, put Ziva to bed, folded the laundry I think, and watched an episode of Raising Hope.  I wanted to finish the pair of wool pants I was knitting for Ziva’s doll.  Just in case I suddenly became busier… ;]

Around 10:30 we decided to go to bed and I slept off and on.  I think the fact that contractions were waking me up was getting me super excited and that didn’t help with the sleeping.  After awhile of waking up off and on I grabbed my phone and downloaded a contraction timer app.  I tried timing for awhile by myself but I was distracted by trying to operate the timer, plus pay attention to breathing, so I woke Ben around 2:30am to push the button on the timer.


We timed for about an hour while he set up the tub stuff and made coffee for himself.  He made me an English muffin with peanut butter and I ate a granola bar. 

{English muffins, coffee, and hose from the kitchen sink going into the birth tub.}

{Eating an English muffin.}

Around 3:30 we decided to page our midwife, Josie, as things were progressing.  Contractions were about 4-5 minutes apart, lasting for about 45 seconds or so.  I was managing by getting on all fours when a contraction hit.  I was still happy and talking between them, though.  Josie decided to get her things together and be on her way up.  This is when it got real for me.  The midwife was on her way to our house in the wee hours of the morning.  I texted my mom to say, “The midwives are on their way!  You can come whenever, and please bring your exercise ball.”  She was going to be there to watch Ziva, so I wanted her available for whenever she woke up.

Mom showed up around 4am and brought in the ball.  I sat on it in the corner of our bedroom and bounced through contractions for quite awhile.  It was a nice change.  I noticed that my contractions slowed down a bit once she came and we figured it just threw off my groove a little.

{On the ball.} 

Josie arrives next and sets up all her things, takes my vitals and listens to the baby during a contraction.  Everyone looks and sounds good.  She leaves Ben and I to labor in the bedroom and sits in the kitchen with mom to chat and work on cross-stitch.

{Setting up!}

This is about the time that I stop timing contractions (but Josie still was) and I stop looking at the clock all together. 

The student midwife, Molly arrives.  I labor in the bedroom, then a bit on the toilet.  (Not comfortable for me!)  I labor for awhile in the living room with everyone there and I notice that Josie and Molly are wearing the same pattern of Smartwool socks.  As I’m on all fours in the living room I mention that I meant to vacuum the carpet that day. 

Things start to get more intense and as I’m laboring on my bed my mom comes in.  I remember saying to her, “I’m wondering about getting in the tub.”  She gets Josie for me.  Josie suggests I try the shower first, so as not to slow down the contractions.  I get in the shower and stay there for awhile with the hot water beating on my back.  Again on all fours, I’m staring at Ziva’s rubber duckies lined up on the edge of the tub, and contractions stay steady.  I go straight from the shower to the tub.  It feels SO good.


Ziva wakes up for the day and Ben tells her, “Today is a very special day.  Mommy is having the baby.”  She comes into the bedroom and asks if she can get in the tub too.  I say, “Not right now.”

{Ziva entertaining Molly over breakfast.}

{Eating breakfast.}

{I loved talking to my girl while I was laboring.}

{Watching and waiting.}

I labor for a long time in the tub.  I was so exhausted and kept falling asleep between contractions (while sitting up in the tub) and I would startle myself awake.  Ben was sitting in the corner of our bedroom next to the tub and I remember waking up one of those times to see him asleep against the wall.  I was in and out of the tub a couple times, sitting on the toilet to try to bring baby down, doing lunges with one foot up on the bed, “dancing” with Ben.  Things weren’t going as quickly as Josie had expected them to be so at some point (probably around 10am or so) so offers to check my cervix.  I say yes, because I’m really just hoping for a sort of gauge at how much longer this would be.  I was afraid I would be barely dilated and to my surprise I was 10cm, with just a lip of cervix on one side!  (This happened with Ziva too.)  I was so relieved and happy.  I had told a couple people already that I was, “ready to be done.”  Haha.  The problem was I was feeling absolutely no urge to push.  Nothing.  I was at 10cm, still trying to just breathe through contractions. I got back into the tub and tried to push anyway, so see if it would help the lip of cervix move aside.  It just felt weird and ineffective.

{Birth tub cat nap.}

Details begin to blur at this point.  I do some pushing while Josie pushes with her fingers on the nerve the baby’s head should be hitting to give me the urge to push.  Baby’s head was not coming past my pubic bone.  At one point I reached inside and felt the baby’s head, but I felt like it was still so far up!  (It really wasn’t.)  I was getting really discouraged and doubting my ability to birth this kid.  Ben could see it in my face and continually told me how great I was doing.  I don’t remember this but apparently I rolled my eyes.  I kept thinking I was bound for hospital transfer and a c-section.  This is why you need good support!  They weren’t going to let me believe this.  I kept quoting to myself "The power and intensity of your contraction cannot be stronger than you, because it is you." and "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." (Phil. 4:13)

Josie gave me some Black Cohosh in a shot glass to give my uterus a “boost,” it tasted like dirt, and I washed it down with some juice.  (Naked, Blue Machine.)  I drank that juice through my whole labor, I didn’t want anything to eat, but they kept sticking this straw in my face so I drank, knowing it was probably a good idea.  The taste of that juice will probably always remind me of my labor.

{Doing some pushing in the tub.  See this guy?  He barely left my side.  Honestly, I don't know if I could've done it without his support.  It was so vital.}

At one point the water in the tub starts to cool down, so Ben scoops some out with a bucket-like baby tub to make room for warm.  He sets the baby tub on the edge of the birthing tub to get a better grip and when he picks it back up we hear a big “whoosh!” of air as it cut a hole in the top of the tub!  I stick my hand over the hole while everyone else freaks out for a second.  Ben runs outside in a t-shirt to get some heavy duty tape out of the car.  Molly relieves me of holding the hole shut.  We wouldn’t have had this tape to fix the hole if we hadn’t borrowed my uncle’s pop-up camper that summer and accidently ripped a hole in the canvas.  Happy accident.

We try to do a squatting push, with Ben standing outside the tub and me standing in it, him linking arms with me and me squatting when I had a contraction.  That was awkward feeling and not working either.

I didn't include this part in the original publishing, but, if I'm trying to empower and inspire women, I need it to keep it real.  So here goes...

A big part of why I needed to "come to terms" with Asher's birth and why I didn't think it was "pretty" is because of this.

During the ineffective pushing phase, I was effectively pushing something else out.  I felt SO embarrassed.  But, that Naked juice does claim to be "fiber-full."  I, of course, was never made to feel like I was gross by any member of my birth team.  Josie kept reassuring me that in order for baby to come out everything needed to clear out of my pelvis, but I still felt disgusting.  There's nothing more humbling, in my opinion, than pooping (more than once) in a room full of people.  Except for maybe putting it on the internet.

I felt like this needed to be shared.  If more birth stories share the yuckier details, then hopefully less women will feel embarrassed when s&^% happens. ;]  No one wants to taint their birth story with poop.  I , however, don't want to add to the plethora of "perfect" birth stories and put false illusions in womens' heads.  Mamas, I'm here to say, (and honestly this is mostly for myself) you can poop during labor and still have a beautiful birth.  Every birth is beautiful.  Don't believe the voice in your head that makes you feel small and disgusting.  Your body is doing a miraculous thing!

I got out of the tub and into a position our other midwife, Sarah (who was on vacation in Australia during my birth) calls the “dangle squat.”  Two kitchen chairs were brought into our room and placed in front of our dresser, facing each other.  Ben sat on the dresser and rested a foot on each chair.  I then stood between the chairs with my back to him, and he linked his arms through mine.  When the next contraction came on, I climbed up onto the chairs and squatted into my push.  Josie had her hand inside me, making some room for baby’s big noggin to come down.  This time it worked!  Baby’s head moved down!  I felt so much pressure and I knew this was it.  Josie told me I could get back in the tub now; she knew how much I wanted a water birth.  I wasn’t about to climb down off those chairs when I had just pushed so well.  I didn’t answer her verbally; I just went ahead and pushed my baby’s head out with the next contraction.  The cord was wrapped around the shoulders.  One more push and he was here.  At 12:06 pm on January 18th, 2013, Josie handed my baby up to me and I looked down to see a head full of dark hair.  (Yes!  I've always wanted a hairy baby!)  We had planned on Ben telling me our baby’s gender, but in the moment I completely forgot and almost immediately looked between the legs.  “It’s a boy!” I said.  (Yes!  I was right this time!)  

I walked the two steps to my bed and layed down with my brand new little guy.  My Asher.




All is right in the world as the midwives check up on me and Asher on our bed.  The news is shared with those waiting in the living room.  (My mom, Ziva, and my sister.)  After a bit, Ben gets ready to cut Asher’s cord.  He jokingly asks if he can use his Leatherman, and Josie tells him he could have if we had sanitized it ahead of time.  Ben brings Ziva into the bedroom to meet her brother and she says, “I think I’ll just get away…”  She takes a little while to warm up to him. =]

My mom comes in and asks me what I’d like to eat.  I ask for scrambled eggs and she cooks them, then brings them in and feeds them to me while Asher is having his first feed.


{He latched on right away and did so well!}

{Ben holds Asher for the first time and Asher decides to poop for the first time, on Daddy. lol.}

{8 lbs, 8 oz!}

{1st diaper}

{My guys}

{Real life!}

{Big sister!}

{One of my favorites, so much joy.}

It’s amazing how much changes when that little person finally emerges.  Another person is suddenly sharing the air in the room.  There is so much raw emotion, as the birthing mother goes from working through pain and anguish to immediate relief and elation.  Everything after birth seems like a cake walk.  When else would I be smiling and laughing as I get stitches in a very tender area?  All I want to do is stare at my baby, while I simultaneously want to tell everyone I've ever met the good news.

{The next morning.  So tired!}

I’m so proud and ecstatic to have gently brought our son earthside in the comfort of our own bedroom, surrounded by people we trust and love.  I’m proud of my body’s ability to birth an 8 lb, 8 oz, 20" long baby with a 14” head!  


Thursday, March 21, 2013

{Catching up} The Bump Slideshow!

Put together this quick little thing.  We got a little lazy at taking pics towards the end, and the last two are completely different.  But that's okay.  Here's me growing with Asher. =]

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Mama Date

I've been reading The Five Love Languages of Children.  I'm not that far into it, and it says you can't recognize a primary love language in a child under 5, but I'm fairly certain that Ziva's primary love language (for now) is quality time.  She's become really good at independent play since Asher was born, but, oh how she loves to be played with.  The other day I took the time to do Hello Kitty puzzle with her (100 pieces!) and she kept coming over to me and kissing me.  She loves to be read to and play games.  A couple of her favorites are Hi Ho Cherry-O and Sequence for Kids!

We went on a special date last night.  Just the two of us.  The pictures aren't great quality (camera phone, dark room, moving people), but you can see the joy in her face, so I thought I'd share anyway. =]


She loved it.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Oh hey there!

Well.  I didn't mean to have such a blog hiatus.  It's been so long.  Firstly, if there is anyone who reads my blog and doesn't follow me on instagram or is my friend on facebook, you deserve this:

{6 days old, note the fuzz!}

For the last 2 months (yes, 2 months today!) we've been loving on our boy and getting used to this family of 4 thing.  My birth story is drafted up all discombobulated in a pink notebook.  And I hope that soon it will be here.  Organized.  With pictures.  =]

Secondly, during today's 2 month photo shoot, Z took some photos of me and Asher.  There was no prompting or directing.  So I thought it might be fun to share a little segment called;
"Real Life by Ziva"

{This is real life.  This is usually how/when I'm checking facebook & instagram.  Gotta love it!}

{THIS is real life!  Me holding Asher with a giant mess behind me.  He loves to be held.  I try to savor it and ignore the mess, but sometimes it gets to me.}

{This is our boy. 2 months new.}

I'm not making any promises, but I hope to be back in this space more often, and soon with Asher's story!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

31 weeks


How far along: 31 weeks (!!!!how??!!!)

How big is baby: 3-3.5 lbs, about 16 inches

Total weight gain: Oh, some.  Leave me alone.

Maternity clothes: Are evil.  Am I the only one who has to constantly pull up maternity jeans?  It's like, I wash them and they fit okay for 2 hours, then they get all baggy in the legs/butt and I'm just pulling on them every 5 minutes.  I've kind of just switched to leggings as much as possible.  They stay up. =]

Sleep:  It's been good lately.

Best moment of the week: Nothing profound really, just enjoying the little things of pregnancy that I'll miss.  Such as a little random bulge sticking out (foot? knee? elbow? 
bum?) and me gently pushing it back into place.  =]

Food cravings:  Nothing really.  I do love me some dark chocolate daily though. 

Food aversions: Nothing.

Symptoms: Been a bit sore recently.  Trying hard not to complain. =]

Movement: Oh yeah.  Sometimes I'm worried that my skin/uterus won't stretch enough and he/she will punch through.  This kid is strong!

Gender: Surprise!

What I’m looking forward to: Newborn snuggles.  And birth.

What I miss: My normal person jeans.  Could be awhile. ;]

Next appt:  Next week.

Reading: Not childbirth related, but child related; Give Them Grace.  Reading slowly, along with the hubs, then discussing the chapters.  So far, it's good.  And a little intense.  Child-rearing is not for the faint of heart.