Saturday, March 4, 2017

Jackson's Birth Story

Everything was different this time, still beautiful, still empowering, supported, magical, and transcendental, but so very different in its own way from my first birth story. Another reminder not to compare one experience to another, or one child to another, they are each totally their own people, with their own stories, and their own experiences, different in their own beautiful ways.

At my 39 week check up I was already 50% effaced and 3cm dilated. At my 40 week check up I was already 60% effaced and 4cm dilated. The midwife told me the options that I could opt for to naturally speed things along (herbs, strip my membranes etc...) which I declined as I still had 2 more weeks to stay at the birth center (after 42 weeks I would need to transfer to birth at a hospital). She told me that pre-labor was already done.  First time around all of that 2 weeks of effacing and beginning dilation was all at once within 12 hours, then 12 hours after that I had my daughter. This time my body was easing into birth.

On and off for those two weeks, and into my 40th week I had some contractions, starting on Tuesday Feb 21st, I thought it was going to be go time (the day after my 40th week appointment). I told Jason, this is what I felt with Jocelyn, we are having a baby tonight! And he signed out of work and started his 3 week paternity leave right then and there (the last week he had been working from home waiting for this moment). After counting contractions 18 minutes apart for pretty much all day, I went to bed at 8, laid down and they pretty much stopped so I let go of being impatient and tried to rest my body.

The next day I pumped, we bought red raspberry leaf tea, I bounced on the yoga ball, I walked every morning with my mom around our block. Jason and I took advantage of the time we had together, with Jocelyn in school before new baby and went out to lunch together, at taco deli, and the next day bouldin creek cafe, the next day at kabobalicious. I ate a ghost pepper. Still nothing. A day later I ate ANOTHER ghost pepper, and nothing happened (looks like baby boy takes after his daddy's high tolerance for spicy foods and was unfazed).  On Friday I sat out by our pool with my mom and meditated in the nice sunshine and cool breeze while she swam. Finally after letting go of all expectations, I headed to my last Saturday yoga class at the day before 41 weeks, breathing in surrender and breathing out fear, and knowing baby would come soon enough. Saturday we all went to lunch at Asia Cafe, my mom and Joss with me and Jason. I was SO hungry and I don't remember eating this much towards the very end of pregnancy with Jocelyn. I had green beans and kung po, and these really delicious sweet pea greens that we love to get there, with white rice and iced tea. We all left with very full bellies.

I woke up Sunday more tired than I can ever remember being. I woke up and pretty much as soon as my mom and Jason were able to wake up and take care of Jocelyn I went straight back to bed (around 11am) and slept HARD for several hours. It was the new moon, a solar eclipse (referred to as a "Ring of Fire" and coincidentally also on Johnny Cash's birthday 2/26) and the weather forecast had predicted thunder and lighting. All indications pointed to perfect time for baby's arrival. That feeling of being so tired made me think to myself, this is my body's way of getting ready to use all of my strength - inner strength, mental strength, everything I've got. Sunday night was the Oscars, and after putting Jocelyn down to bed, I laid in bed and was restless. Earlier mom had given Joss her bath and Joss had a major meltdown while in there not wanting to get out, so I went in to help her calm down from a VERY loud and very strong emotional tantrum that I sat there with her and let her breathe through her strong feelings and felt that it was another indication of our family's soon to be new arrival. Jocelyn's own way of intuiting the changes to come and letting go of all her own fears and uneasy feelings and crying it all out. After she let go of all those feelings, I helped her out of the bath and we snuggled up in her towel and I braided her hair. I helped put her to bed, with Jason, and then after Joss went to sleep really easily, I went to my own bed to lay down. But I was so restless. I had been feeling contractions on and off for the last couple weeks, and didn't want to get my hopes up. Especially with everyone asking me if baby had come yet, and wanting myself to finally have the baby and already feeling sensitive and impatient but I was just too restless so I got up and my mom and Jason were downstairs watching the awards show together, and I sat on the yoga ball with them.

I decided that maybe I should time my contractions again to see where they were at, and I noticed that they were coming every 2 minutes. The midwives had advised that I call in once they were 5-7 minutes apart with my second child, and so Jason said YOU SHOULD CALL THEM. I said, we can wait and see what happens, because when we had called before and went in with Joss they had sent us back home once, and when we went back in they were so strong I couldn't talk or stand. Not like this time, where I could walk and stand and talk. My stomach felt like a ball of concrete, flexing super hard through each contraction, a sensation of menstrual cramps hugging my belly around my sides like with Joss, but I felt more in control, and less fearful of them this time. Finally after about 30 minutes of them being continuously 2 minutes apart I called and they told me to head into the birth center. Jason grabbed the food bag so we'd have snacks and my ice water, and our birth bags had already been in the car for the last few weeks, so I changed my clothes into a loose dress to labor in (out of an old pair of Jason's boxers), hugged my mom and grabbed a couple towels to sit on in case my water broke in the car. The whole time wondering if this was really happening, or if it was a false start like last Tuesday, and if we would be sent home after we got there. As we drove over I realized, Hey! Today I'm exactly 41 weeks!

We got to the birth center at 10:30pm and had to wait in the car a couple minutes for the on-call midwife to open up. As soon as Jason saw the lights go on inside, he helped me out of the car and my water broke. Glad I brought the towels to sit on. Samantha met us at the door and brought us in, I told her, "either i just peed my pants or my water just broke," and she said, "good thing you're wearing dark leggings you can't see it!" Haha, I got into the Ananda room and we had the whole birth center to ourselves. No one else was there. Christine (student midwife from centering) and Sam (on call midwife) were the only ones there with me and Jason, it felt quiet, and private and calm and peaceful. He started my playlist and essential oil diffuser (lavender and stress away), hung my labor necklace on a hook on the wall in full sight from the tub and bed, dimmed all of the lights and started the birth tub with nice warm water. They checked me and I was 80% effaced but very soft, and 6cm dilated. All vitals for me and baby strong. I sat on the birth ball with Jason while the tub filled, and my waters consistently would leak with each contraction. I was very centered and calm and was able to do yogic breathing, and yoga poses, deep squats, and prayer hands. I felt total surrender, and was quiet and calm and super aware of everything. I enjoyed the playlist and loved all the great additions I added as suggestions from my friends after asking on facebook for strong female vocalists (since my original list was all beta band, washed out, beach house, stevie wonder, miike snow, tv on the radio, david bowie and male dominated).

My contractions progressed, and I continued to enjoy laboring in the tub, and on the ball, trying to stay moving around to keep things moving forward. Christine came in and asked if I wanted her to give me a guided meditation, and I said okay. She had me picture myself on a surf board, with a large hole in it so my belly would fit comfortably, while I pictured myself floating over the warm waves getting closer to a beautiful island with a baby basinet that has a beautiful muslin blanket blowing in the wind. She asked me to imagine what color my surf board was, if there was anything on the surf board, words or patterns (it turns out, surprisingly my surfboard was white with hot pink racing stripes - I'm not a "pink" person, but my daughter is, so I guess she was helping fuel my strength and meditation). All the support that was given was all offered only for my approval, giving me the option to shake my head no, to stop the meditation, or say if I didn't like anything happening to leave me alone, or be quiet. I felt totally in control, and respected, my body and my choices trusted, but also totally supported. Even all the vitals that were taken, were taken around my position, I didn't have to change what I was doing so they could check my belly or pulse, I kept doing what I needed to do and they accommodated and adapted to my position and needs. It was a wonderful, supported, women-centered and a totally empowered experience start to finish.

I kept doing yoga. Jason was a great support, and since we had the place to ourselves they said we could walk around if we wanted to. So I walked with Jason to the kitchen to refill my ice water and looked at the photos on the wall of all the baby pictures in the hallway, which looked like a lot of the midwives home photos. We returned to our room, and I remember being cold and asking for the heat to be turned up (twice - unlike with Joss when I felt too hot and only wanted colder water, colder air). The room finally got warm enough and soon there after I lost my modestly and wasn't interested in wearing anything or being concerned with being naked in front of anyone (signaling that baby would be coming soon). In between contractions Jason and I were joking, and talking, and it just felt so tranquil and I felt so aware and present, and comfortable and well, normal. Lots of eye contact and conversation, humor and joking together. In between contractions I felt enough time to relax and recharge, and knew to take advantage of that. Jason and I mostly were there together on our own, they came in every 30 minutes to get my and baby's vitals, but other than that we were by ourselves in the privacy of our room and just listened to music and had our space together. I liked putting the jets on in the tub, and the lights in the water. It was really relaxing.

At about 2am we saw some flashes of light in our window and I got really excited, "The thunder and lightning is here!" And I felt so grounded and spiritual, continuing to breathe through my contractions, trying to channel all of the power of the lighting and the storm into my body for strength. Focusing on moving the energy down my body to sit down into the contractions with yoga squats, and use Ina May's "horse lips" breathing to get through the peaks of sensation, and feeling super Earth mama, storm powers, full on hippy strength and spiritual awareness. Haha, FULL ON. Jason went back to refill my ice water again, and when he came back told me that he asked Sam and Christine if the storm was here because we saw lightning through the blinds in our room. They told him, "No that was just the garbage truck," and when he came back to our room and told me that, I lost all control and started laughing as hard as I could remember ever laughing. I laughed so hard that it brought on stronger contractions, and I laughed through them, full belly laughs. I was laughing SO HARD. Jason told me, you better quiet down or they will think you've totally lost it in here. And soon enough Christine cracked open our door to peak in and said, "This IS laughter, right? Everything okay in here?" And I was cracking up and said yes, we're just laughing, everything's okay. It was so damn funny, she closed the door and let us have our privacy again, and I told Jason, my doula is the garbage man! My most spiritual experience is brought to me courtesy of the trash man. Laughing so damn hard.

Later Christine came back to check me and asked me why I was laughing, I told her and I started laughing again, really laughing hard, and I said that our baby's spirit animal is a raccoon, [more uncontrollable laughter] or she suggested a bear (since she's from Canada and that's who used to riffle through her trash up there). We laughed some more and contractions continued to increase. The bowl of ice water and cold compresses came into our room for my forehead and back of my neck (heavenly). Which also signaled to me that I was getting closer, since that was when I was working through active labor with Joss, and they had the cold compresses for me. Since I had been cold in the room and wanted the heat turned up I wasn't sure if the compresses would feel good, but they did. Jason kept them rotating through to stay cold on my skin, and kept me hydrated with my ice water.

Time at this point gets a little squirrelly for me, but I'm guessing around 3am I was heading into transition when the contractions were getting so strong I could no longer power through them silently with just horse lips but started vocalizing and screaming my way through them. At that point Christine wasn't the only one in there checking on me, but also Sam, and the midwife assistant Georgina (who they told me would be there towards the end when baby would arrive). Christine asked me to share why I was laughing earlier with Sam, so I did and again started laughing again, so uncontrollably through my super strong contractions that I had been screaming through just a couple minutes ago. HAHA laughing through birth! I never would have imagined.

I was holding onto Jason's hands REALLY tight at this point, and was switching from facing him holding hands crossed in front of me, to turning in the tub to lean back into him with my hands over of my head holding onto his hands. They asked if I wanted to be checked to see if that would help me along to know my progress, and I said yes. I was 90+% effaced, and 9+cm dilated. After a few more strong contractions, and me telling Jason that I was done, and that I don't think I could do it, and asking him, if he wanted to go ahead and take over for me from here on out (signaling, transition and baby was coming soon, and that I still had a sense of humor), Sam calmly told me I could do it, and I looked at Jason and he told me I've done this, I can do it again, I'm doing it, and I felt confident and recharged, and nodded my head at Jason and tried to visualize continuing to sit down into my contractions and not run away and up and out and away from them. Then "Rhiannon" by Fleetwood Mac came on and it gave me more strength (Thank you Stevie Nicks!) Christine told me to make guttural vocalizations, to get low in my belly and growl, and I had no idea how to do this, I was mostly screaming, and trying to growl and think of a Bear, Jackson's spirit animal tearing through trash cans, and powering me through. Sam told me, "Its not long now, you'll meet your son soon." And I told her sarcastically, "Yeah, not soon enough." HAHA. My humor this birth! So different from last time.

At that point I said I felt like I needed to push and they told me to listen to my body, if that's what my body wants to do then do it. I braced my feet on the handles in the tub, grabbed a handle in my left hand, and Jason's hand in my right and let the contractions build and pushed down as hard as I could, I remember seeing Sam look in the water, and gesture to Christine to come closer and look, Christine told me I could reach down and touch my baby's hair if I wanted to. "Lots of hair!" They all exclaimed. They reminded me to keep my knees open, and to push DOWN, it was hard, and he was partway through, and it burned and I felt a lot of pressure, but they told me "yes, there is a strong sensation, don't run from it," and to let it build. I said I needed a break, and meditated into that strong feeling, and then knew there was only one way to get through this, and that is down and out. Then three pushes later and Jackson was out and up on my chest. I DID IT! It was such a relief to finally have him on the outside up on my chest. I told Jason, "Papa, meet your son!" Jason asked me quickly, do you want a picture? I said, YES! and he grabbed our camera and took some of the most beautiful pictures of the first minutes of Jackson's life on the outside. Born at 4:40am. 6 hours after we arrived at the birth center. I told Jason to text my mom that he arrived! Later they told me that I pushed for only 7 minutes and he was born! I told them, I knew it was only 3 pushes maybe 4, but it felt like an hour. 7 minutes! Definitely much quicker with the second baby. Wow!

My placenta stayed inside, and they had me stand up and go lay on the bed with Jax on my chest and still attached. They gave me a shot to help loosen my placenta to deliver it, and after all my blood stopped pulsing through the cord, they had me cough and push the placenta out. They clamped the cord, and asked Jason if he wanted to cut it, he said no again like with Joss (its kinda hebbie jebbie haha especially for us vegans), but they asked if I wanted to, and I said yes this time, so I did, which was kind of cool. Then they inspected my placenta and all was intact and looked great. They asked if I wanted to see it and I did and they showed it to me. Not quite as big as Joss's three pounder, but I would say it was at least 2 1/2 lbs. I had them prepare it to be processed and encapsulated (which was a new service they offer that they didn't before with Joss). I ended up getting 143 pills (a full jar) out of it, and think its awesome that they offer vegan gel caps so I've been taking them this time around. Pretty awesome.

Anyway, after that, I needed to get 3 (or 4?) stitches, it was the same area that I had been stitched last time that tore naturally, but before it was 9+ stitches, so this time much easier. They said that when he started to crown, they put their hand around to see if there was cord around his neck (there wasn't), but when they did that he shot out one of his hands like he was doing a superman pose to come out into the world. Christine said as soon as he did that she knew I would tear a little bit, pushing his head and an arm, but I did it and it wasn't so bad. My little super man.

We rested on the bed, Jason napped a little bit, and Jackson immediately latched and took to nursing like an old pro. He was pretty vocal for the first 30+ minutes, and even came up out of the water crying, so they didn't have to use the squeezy bulb to clear his mouth/throat or anything like we did with Joss. We laid on the bed for a while in privacy, and they continued to come in every so often to get our vitals and check on us. They said that since we've birthed there before we could leave in 4 hours, rather than 6 this time as long as all vitals were normal and strong. We thought that we would have Joss and my mom come to the center to meet him there, but decided we would have Joss go to school, and we would go home and let her meet him after school so we could get settled into bed and not disrupt her schedule either (as per previous advice of her school and teachers and for less chaos all around).

The midwife team came back for the baby exam and we got his vitals, weight, measurements, and he received a K vitamin shot and had his foot prints put on our keep sake birth certificate, baby book, and a small canvas that we had people decorate at my birthday party/baby shower that we will also have Joss and family continue to decorate with hand and finger prints in colorful ink. They asked me to guess how big he would be, and I said about the same or less than big sis. Turned out, he weighed 9lbs 13oz, was 23 1/2 inches long, with a 14 1/2 inch head, and 14 inch chest circumference (bigger than sis, 9lbs 9oz, 22 1/2 inches long). Little big man! Born exactly like big sister, on 41 weeks and 1 day. I supposed if I were to have a 3rd, I will be prepared to go into labor on 41 weeks, and deliver 41 weeks and 1 day! That's just how long I bake them in my tummy. And of course a full head of dark blonde hair, and blue eyes. I wonder if they will change to be brown like daddy and big sis, or if they will stay light and be like mine? Either way he is very very cute, and such a little snuggle bear.

My phone had been playing my birth playlist on shuffle the whole time and only had 1% battery left after his newborn exam, so I called my mom and asked if Joss was awake yet (it was 7:30 she wasn't yet), and I told her that we will be home in an hour or two, and to let Joss know that she has a little brother and she will get to met him after school, and asked my mom if she could drop her off like a normal school day. My phone then died, but I realized that Jocelyn's nap mat was with us in the Subaru and I needed to be sure my mom was okay driving Jason's truck. I called her on Jason's phone, making sure that my mom was comfortable driving Jason's truck to drop her off, and she was so we were all good. By then Jocelyn was awake so I asked to talk to her and told her the exciting news and she was really excited! My mom said that she told her when she first woke up and they did a little dance downstairs and got really excited to meet him soon after school.

By 8:30am we were dressed and ready to go home. I had completed all of his social security paperwork, and birth certificate forms, and we made sure everything was all bagged back up into our labor bags to take home with us. The postpartum team had a shift change at 8am, and the two new gals gave me a review of checkout procedures, which all came back to me from when I checked out with Joss 3+ years ago. They also showed me how to check my own vitals and baby's for the next few days before we came back in for a 3 day wellness exam again. They took one last round of vitals of us, then released us right at 8:45/9am. We came home and  my mom was there to greet us and see new baby, as I got back up into bed and started my week long bedrest as per the midwives (1st week in bed, 2nd week on bed, 3rd week around bed). My mom thankfully decided to reschedule her physical therapy session for later in the week (which was scheduled for 1pm that day), since Jason was very tired and didn't feel like he would be up to driving her there and was able to rest at home with me and baby instead after our long night.

Then after school, Grandma picked up Jocelyn and brought her home to meet new baby brother. She was so sweet, and gentle with him, and washed her hands first and sang to him. And in true Jocelyn form, she told me randomly when she was holding him, "When the great ship sank 2 lives were lost." I asked her, when was this? and she told me, "When the great ship sank." So maybe Jackson was on the titanic when it sank in a past life? Sometimes I'm not sure what Jocelyn sees and hears, but she is definitely connected to the spirit world and I just have to listen to what she says and wonder where it comes from. I took some really sweet photos of them together, and a little video and my heart melts to see them both together. So sweet and gentle together, and loving, and my two beautiful babies.

In the meantime, its now day 5 and I'm healing well, still some discomforts, and AABC no longer does 3 day postpartum home visits, so we had to go in, they rescheduled last minute for me to go in on Wed, instead of Thurs, on day 2, and everything was great, all healing and vitals perfect. Unfortunately though for Joss, that Tuesday night she threw up in her bed, and had diarrhea and thew up some more. I finally woke up my mom to help, and so grateful that my mom was here to help with Joss. Joss ended up sleeping in my mom's room with her, and we kept her home from school Wed, Thurs. and Friday to recover from the stomach bug. When we were at the birth center Wednesday, they however didn't have my placenta capsules ready (since originally they scheduled me to come in thurs), so told us we had to go back to pick them up the next day, and later that night also texted me saying they forgot to take one of the tests for blood oxygenation and I would have to go back again with baby (not just send Jason to get my pills). So I loaded back up on Day 3 again and went in again Thurs, Ox blood test was all perfect (100% on foot, 98% on hand). Yesterday, Day 4 we had our first meal train sign up bring us some food, Keryn, Bailey, and Jamie stopped by and Joss luckily had some fun running around outside with Bailey, since she's been home from school all week and cooped up. More throw up yesterday, some fever, and stomach bug issues...  Keryn was okay with them playing together outside, and Joss was so happy to have someone her size to play with, while I sat outside by the pool with Keryn with our baby boys (hard to believe Jamie is already 8 months).

There was a moth, a small butterfly, a cricket, and a lady bug in the pool that Joss and Bailey pointed out and I saw they were all still alive so I helped fish them out to save them, and Jax mostly slept their whole visit. Today, day 5, Saturday we have been home all day, and by the end of the day Jackson's cord fell off! Cute little belly button! Luckily I don't have anything that I need to get out of bed for, since the last three days had a lot of activity for me, when I should be staying in bed, and all of the activity made me start bleeding some more, though aside from that my healing is all going much smoother than the first time. Relaxing a few more days before I can be more mobile and self-sufficient. 2 more weeks with my mom here, though she's been sick the last couple days, so hopefully she can feel better soon. Joss luckily seems to be better today, and we are planning on having her head back to school Monday.

So here we are, new baby boy, family of four, and so grateful to have grandma's help here especially this past week with Joss being so sick. Today its raining, and my new bookclub book arrived in the mail that I'm going to read while I nurse (A Man Called Ove). Its hard to believe its only been / already been 5 days... motherhood is a total time warp! Surrounded with love, chaos, cuddles, smiles, tears, laughter, fun, challenges, music, and heart-warming full body emotion of gratitude and happiness.

Welcome Baby Jax!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Welcome Baby Jax!

Jackson was born yesterday, happy healthy water baby! We are over the moon in love with this new little guy, and I will spend some time to write down all the details of his birth story while they are fresh in my mind hopefully in the next day or two.

His birth couldn't have gone any better or any more peaceful, I am so grateful to our birth center and all the support we have had throughout pregnancy, labor, birth, and postpartum. We go back in tomorrow morning for a check up. I'll write more after that.

Born 2/27/2017, 9lbs 13oz, 23 1/2 inches long, 14 1/2 inch head. Double Pisces with a Capricorn rising, born on a new moon, after a solar eclipse (a "ring of fire") and johnny cash's birthday put me into labor (2/26) with his birthday at 41 weeks +1 day, exactly like his big sis.

So grateful, so full of love!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

40 +4

I have now eaten TWO raw, whole ghost peppers. The first one I ate on Tuesday didn't seem to have much affect, so I ate another one this morning. This boy apparently already has his Daddy's tolerance for spicy food. I've been walking every morning with my mom around my neighborhood. Eating pineapple every day. Eating bananas. Dancing, squatting, pumping, doing yoga, bouncing on the yoga ball, stretching. Visualizing birth, breathing, and meditating. I mowed our backyard, went to Costco, and am trying to move him on out! Come on Jax! Going with my official EDD I'm now at 40 +4, and if you go with my unofficial ultrasound dating, I'm at 41 +4. This means I have 10 more days to birth at the birth center (I have until 42 weeks). Jax WILL come this week, he will be a Pisces (yay!), but I'm hoping that I don't have to resort to caster oil to coax him out. Joss is being so great waiting, its hard to be so patient! I'm really proud of her, and she's already such a proud big sister. <3 <3

Finally letting go of some of my household and mom responsibilities and letting Jason and my mom take over helping so I can just concentrate inward, on myself, my body, and get into my lizard brain without thinking of, needing to, and prioritizing taking care of everyone else. Tuesday I thought that I was going into labor, but it was a false alarm (menstrual cramps like when I went into labor with Joss, some contractions 18 minutes apart, mild) and though he would be here by that night. He didn't come,  and by bedtimes the contractions stopped. In any case Jason took off of work and started his paternity leave, but we are still waiting. Luckily he gets 3 weeks, so this time off is good for us, and him to rest up to prepare for baby too and he's already replaced the 2nd fan in our living room that was broken, and helped with a lot of things around the house that he hasn't had time or energy for with so many long working hours. Hoping baby Jackson comes soon, but we continue to be patient, because that's all we can do.

Of course last night our washing machine finally died, its an older machine, the one that came with the house when we bought it 6 years ago and looks like its from the 80s or early 90s. Its worked up until now for the most part, but looks like we will be going on a field trip to home depot today (so I can walk as much as possible up and down the isles) to buy a new washing machine. Jason wants to replace the dryer too, so they are a matching/stackable set, but I only want to get a new washer to save money. We'll see what we end up with, either way a new front loading washer will be excellent! And perfect timing before we start back up with cloth diapering again.

Its supposed to get up to 90 degrees today. So much for winter this year or lack thereof. I don't know if I've already posted this, or just talked about it with friends and my family, but being pregnant in Texas winter isn't what I hoped for or imagined. I much prefer being pregnant in Texas summer. Basically being pregnant in winter here means you never cool off, and you don't get a winter at all. The coldest I was this year, was summer in Northern California (which I'm grateful for). Granted this year we have had an unusually mild/warm winter, but still with my increased body temperature there is just no cooling down part of the year, which I feel like is the only way that I can love to live in such a hot climate, the few months when we get a break. Plus at least in summer there is lots of swimming, and everyone is already hot and miserable so you just do what you do in Texas to enjoy the heat, drink topo chicos, eat spicy tacos, jump in barton springs, and sit in AC. If there is a third, I will try to plan to be pregnant in summer. There is a trade off though, this pregnancy has been much easier in a lot of ways, less discomforts, food aversions, nausea, but the time of year/weather has been the hardest part for me. Not really ready for 90 and 100 degree days again yet, but so it goes. Swimming with babies makes it all worth it.

Yesterday when we went to lunch (at Bouldin Creek! yummmm!) we already started to see some blue bonnets on our drive through Zilker on the side of the road. Since its been unusually warm, they are already starting to show up. Spring is springing! I think this means that before Grandma Jill leaves we will need to have a blue bonnets family portrait with the four of us, and some with Grandma too. I love this time of year in Texas, so beautiful, all the leaves on the trees are starting to come back, and our pomegranate trees are getting ready to bloom again. In a couple months my mom's group will be heading back out to Inks Lake for our annual camping trip with kiddos, i'm so looking forward to it, will be a new adventure with both baby Jax and with Joss, but I'm excited to go and know it will be a blast and lots of wonderful memories.

Time to get dressed, and go for a walk before it gets too hot out. Then wake up Jason and go to home depot to find a new washing machine. More dancing this afternoon, spicy food, and I also read that I should be eating dates and drinking red raspberry leaf tea.

Monday, February 20, 2017

40 Weeks +1

Yesterday was my due date, and I went in for a checkup today with Jason, who's off work today. I made some progress since my last checkup last week at 39 weeks, and am now at 60% effaced (from 50% last Tuesday), and 3cm dilated (from 2cm last Tuesday). The midwife said that means I'm done with pre-labor! Woo-hoo! Such a different experience this time around.

Baby is happy and healthy, strong heart beat, and movements, my blood pressure and weight are great, everything is going just fine. We talked about what I need to be extra aware of now that I've passed my due date, just like what we went over with Joss at this point. I need to make sure he continues to move as usual, and if there is any decrease in movement to count movements within an hour (lay down, see how long it takes to get to 10 movements, if it takes longer than an hour call).

Last night we had a very strong thunder storm, and Jackson must have felt the change in pressure, or heard the loud cracks because he was doing jumping jacks all night. It was very sleepless for both of us, with all the thunder, lightning flashes, discomforts of being 9 months pregnant, and a LOT of weird dreams with ghosts. After dropping Joss at school was able to get back into bed and take a little bit of a nap before my appointment which helped.

Today I'm looking for dream catchers, for both me and for Jocelyn's rooms (she's had a lot of weird dreams lately too), and I need to smudge the house, especially upstairs bedrooms. Clear the air. All of the waiting, and anxiety must be stirring up the house ghosts. So I need to calm all that energy down, and remind the spirits that this is my house, and hopefully get some more peaceful rest again.

At my appointment today we also went over all the next steps for following appointments, which was all familiar since I did the same with Joss who was born at 41 weeks. They offered to strip my membranes today, but I declined, and prefer to let nature do its magic in due time, since I still have 2 weeks before I need to be sure he's born (to stay at the birth center). My next appointment is for next Monday, and they will hook me up to a monitor that spits out tape monitoring his heart beat and movements. I did this with Joss and remember it from last time. Its 30 minutes laying down on my side hooked up to the monitor, then 30 minutes of my usual check up with the midwife. If after 41 weeks still no baby, at 41 +5 days they will start me on a breast pump and give me some herbs, and if at 41 +6 days still not in labor they will resort to caster oil. Ann, my midwife today said that I will not be waiting another 2 weeks to have baby, since prelabor is already done. Again, SO different from last time!

In the meantime, I'm continuing to rest, and walk as much as I can, eating spicy food (went to Taco deli for brunch today with Jason before my appointment, YUM!), and drinking/eating pineapple. Squats, and yoga. Also, at this point we can officially say that we are having a PISCES! Which is super cool, in that our family of four represents the four elements EARTH (me), FIRE (Jason), AIR (Joss), and WATER (Jax). I have a Pisces rising, so already feel connected to Jackson on a level that is pretty cool regardless of how the rest of his star chart turns out when he's born. Yay water baby! Visualizing another water birth, and kissing those big Fosse Meeler baby cheeks. Soon enough, and I'm continuing to be patient. Emotional, tired, sleepless, restless, A.D.D., sensitive, and as best as I can be patient. I feel good though in my body, I feel strong, and prepared, healthy and beautiful with my big belly. I will miss feeling him when he's out, so appreciating all of these last moments while they are still here with me.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

4 days Until 40

Yesterday I went into the birth center for my 39 week check up. All my stats and baby Jax are still right on track, looking good and healthy. Surprisingly I am already 2cm dilated, and 50% effaced. This means my body is already preparing for birth, but it could still be another week until my contractions start up. Such a contrast from my first, with Jocelyn, I labored 24 hours total, 12 being the pre-labor, and those first 12 hours that were hard work at home took me up to 4cm and 50% effaced. This time, all I had to do was get up out of bed, after a more uncomfortable than usual sleepless night. Still no regular contractions, though some continued Braxton hicks that are still scattered and not regular.

I had been feeling a new sensation that I brought up with my midwife, a central, isolated sharp pain right about my belly button in a small circle. She asked if I had any blurred vision, and I said yes that I get ocular migraines and this past week have had several, and 3 in just the last couple days alone. I told her that I've always dealt with these migraines so its not different inside or outside of pregnancy for me, but triggered by additional stress. She ran some tests on my urine to make sure that it was a sign of preeclampsia, which it wasn't (no protein in my urine, and normal/low blood pressure). She did say that I was dehydrated and to drink more water (which I already do a lot, but its Texas so I pretty much have to constantly be drinking water). Also I haven't had any spotting or bleeding, so she didn't think that it could be my placenta detaching in that area.  She said that most likely its part of Jackson's position and early labor, with my effacement and dilation already starting. My pre-labor sensations were so different with Jocelyn, so I'm continuing to keep my mind, body, senses, and feelings open to what's to come as brand new and open to the experience which so far has already been so much different in a lot of ways.

The good news is that everything looks good, I'm healthy, his heart, my heart all perfect in tune and rhythm, and we have nothing to worry about. I just need to drink more water and continue to wait patiently. Honestly I'm not in a rush, these last few days with Jocelyn as my only child (on the outside) as so valuable to us as a family, and to her transition as a big sister, so we are soaking it all in, and ready for Jackson when he is ready to come to us and join our wild Texas bunch.

2 more of my moms from centering gave birth to their babies! At least the ones that I am sure of, that so far I believe puts us up to 4 out of 10 of us moms. A few of the other moms who started in our group had to leave for various other family reasons, but at our last centering meetings we had 2 of our core 10 with babies. I'm not sure who has the latest due date, but we'll see who's next... So looking forward to having our mini reunion with all of our little ones together.

In the meantime, I have my freezer stocked with Lasagna, Tamales, and frozen burritos that I made with lots of love for my family and the postpartum weeks to come. My labor bag is packed, I just need to bring my diffuser, oils, and speaker for music on my iphone. I also am going to work on a few playlists today (though last time we didn't really use music like we thought we would, it was just sort of there in the background - bob marley, and beach house). Everything is ready and feeling good and set for Jax, my sweet friend Crystal set up our mealtrain, and so this time around will be easier than last as far as keeping us all fed.

We took some family maternity pics this past weekend too, with my mom helping take some of the photos, and though we keep our kids pics private (our family pics are super cute with Joss, but they won't be posted online), here are some of me and my belly with Jax. Jocelyn had a lot of fun painting and decorating my belly in celebration of her little brother. I'm wearing my beautiful birthing necklace, with all of the charms, tokens, beads and love that were contributed to help me along in my journey through labor and delivery.

Here's the labor/birthing necklace on its own, with love from all corners of the country. I feel so much support, love and strength. Each piece is so special and sentimental in its own way, and Jackson will love having this piece of his history when he is older, just as his big sister cherished hers and her her own birth story. Thank you fam!

Since my 39 week check up had some progress, Jason's work allowed him to work from home for the rest of the time before he starts his 3 week paternity leave. It is such a breath of fresh air, such a relief, and so amazing to have him work for a company that respects his family time and our needs as much as they do. I know part of it is also working for such a larger company where so much weight isn't balanced on Jason's plate alone (which had been the trend of both of our careers to work for small businesses over the last decades). There are parts of working in a small growth-focused start up that has given us both as parents and providers strong senses of ownership, authority, and work ethics, but goddamn, having more help when we need it, with a strong team that he can manage is such a blessing. He's worked so hard to get here, and I'm so grateful for my hard-working partner, and proud papa.

Trying now to relax as much as I can, and caught up on some reading for my parenting book club. My mom's wrist/arm is feeling better all the time, and we have another physical therapy session today before we pick up Jocelyn that I will take her to. We really found a great facility to help with her therapy, and hopefully we can continue to keep taking her even after baby comes to keep her healing (now 10 weeks after her broken wrist). Even with a healing broken arm, its been so great to have Grandma here to help with Joss, and help with little things around the house, dishes and laundry, letting out Zombie, and helping us with grocery shopping. Such a relief to know that we can be ready at any time to deliver Jax, because Grandma is here to watch Joss... so grateful.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

38 Weeks and Counting

I had my 38 week check up yesterday at the birth center and so far no signs of early pre labor. Everything is right on track where it should be with fundal height, my weight, his heart beat, and my blood pressure. I love the birth center, the midwives and the care that is given there with all the caring, warmth, support, compassion, and love that feels more like family than care providers. Since my mom was there with me this time, Ann the midwife doing the exam invited us back to the ultrasound room for a quick look inside for my mom, which was so nice of them to do that for us since usually we don't do any more ultrasounds from here on out.

Jackson has moved, from being on my left side like he had been for several weeks, over to my right side. He is still in a perfect position to labor without being breech, but I need to continue to point my belly button down towards the ground when I sit, so make sure he continues to line up in the optimal position when time comes to labor.

I did a lot of prepping for postpartum yesterday. Bought the new coconut oil for my birth bag, trader joe's now has all these tiny little individual packets of oil that are perfect for diaper bag and birth center bag! So I got those and threw them in. I also made his labor necklace, and Jocelyn loved looking at all of his beads and wore the necklace around to sing a few songs after blessing it herself. Such an awesome big sister!

Thank you to everyone who contributed! <3 I love how Jocelyn and Jackson's necklaces are each unique in their own ways, and both are so full of love and support.

I also made a couple rice socks yesterday, with some cute socks I found at Target. A mom friend asked if I would put lavender in them, which I didn't but think that's a great idea that I might need to add. These were awesome to use to prop up Jocelyn when she was a new born for late night side-laying nursing, and also after being in the freezer felt soothing for healing, or with heat in the microwave for my sore neck and shoulder after all the nursing.

Aside from that, I also made Jocelyn a night time clock, to hopefully help her get more into the rhythm of bedtime. She's bee stalling more and more lately, which is common in her age, but also common for a bigger sibling getting ready for a new baby. Regression is normal, and we are trying to help her through the transition with all the changes as much as possible. My parenting bookclub suggested using a clock like this, as a physical, tangible, visual to show her how much time is left for books and songs. If she stalls she will miss out on those things as a consequence, but if she participates then there might even be some extra time for extra books or songs in our bedtime routine. Last night was the first night trying it, hoping it will get better the more we get used to it.

A friend from my crunchy mama's group asked if she could set up a vegan meal train for us, so I'm so looking forward to having that much more mom support this time around with our second. It will make things a little bit easier to have some food and also nice to have some visitors during those early weeks. We haven't done a whole lot of meal prepping yet, I'm planning to get on that some more next week with some tamales, some enchiladas, and maybe a lasagna and my mom can help make some double baked potatoes... I need to buy some little plastic tubs from the dollar store to help organize our free-standing freezer with all the frozen food prep. Right now I just have a bunch of the burritos in there I made in the very bottom of the freezer.

And other than that, now I rest, and try to take it as easy as possible until baby arrives. I pretty much feel like aside from the food I have it all ready for him, and for me to go to the birth center. Tomorrow I take my mom back to the physical therapist for her wrist, Jason found a place after she arrived, so I called first thing on Monday and got her in for some treatments. She goes back again tomorrow, and I'll keep taking her to appointments until baby arrives. She said there are some things she can do at home after the putty she ordered arrives (should be here today). We'll bring that with us and the therapist will show her how to use it at home for continued strength and healing.

Everything else is going fine, we've had a couple of hot days in the mid 80s lately, and I'm hoping we get some more cold ones back. So much for being pregnant in winter. Granted this is a good 30 degrees cooler than summer, so I shouldn't really complain. Time to shower and have a friend come over to help her with some of her Quickbooks issues and questions, and then take a shower and maybe get outside for a maternity photo shoot with my mom's help taking pictures. Jason took some great ones with me towards the end of pregnancy with Joss, but with his work schedule we haven't been able to do it together yet. Maybe this weekend if my mom's hand isn't able to shoot yet. We'll see...

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

18 days and counting...

Mom arrives in 2 days! Woo hoo! So excited. My last centering session was yesterday, and it was so great to have BOTH Jenny and Annie bring their babies to see everyone and tell us their birth stories. So powerful, and beautiful, woman-supported, natural birth center births make my heart sing. So much strength and love, and gentle caring for mom and baby. Jenny also brought a big bag of postpartum supplies that she didn't end up using to give to the group, and not many people wanted to take anything, so I ended up taking a bunch of supplies home that I'm sure I will use (Sitz bath sachets, bed liner pads, some witch hazel pads, postpartum healing spray, and I think a couple other items were in there). Yay free stuff, and mom community! I'm so looking forward to our reunion when all of us have had our babies and we can line them all up together on the couch for their cute pictures. This time around since its a bigger group than the first time I did centering, we don't set the date ahead of time, but we wait until the last baby is born, then schedule a couple weeks out. I really hope we all stay connected and continue to get together with our babies. So much love out to all the upcoming birth stories to the February mamas!

So far aside from just being big and hard to sleep comfortably, I feel pretty great in my body. This pregnancy overall I think has been easier than my first. No real food aversions (unlike EVERYTHING with Joss, including white rice and sautéed onions), morning sickness only lasted the first 3 months (rather than 8 like with Joss), and even though I've cut back to only getting in for yoga once a week on the weekends, I have little to no back pains (unlike with Joss when I needed that 3x a week dose of yoga to stay comfortable). Its amazing the difference it makes when I am home, versus working 50 hour work weeks in a job I really didn't like up to my due date. I think that must have a lot to do with it. Yes, there is still the stress of the life of being a mom to a 'threenager,' and taking care of the house and cooking, but its what I love to do, and I have more support and finally a community that I can call my own who is living the family life as well this time around. So it feels good, and I'm less stressed. Less isolated and ultimately I think Joss makes things easier. Not to overlook how incredible of a partner Jason continues to be, he's taken on the role of provider with a lot of pride and strength, and I'm so so grateful. Having Joss though, I think brings me the light that is at the end of the birth tunnel, reminding me of all the joys to come, even through tears and tantrums, that this is what its all about - FAMILY. You don't really know how much your world will change as a first time mom, until it does... and I still don't know how much my world will change as a second time mom, but I feel like having Joss here to share my pregnancy with makes everything feel better.

February 1st! Rabbit, Rabbit, here's to hoping for a less chaotic month, and more love and compassion to come. Making concerted efforts to ensure that there is an abundance of love in my home, and my communities, brining peace to my world and those within it. I feel like for the sake of my mental health, and for the love of my son, I need to delete facebook from my phone, and only login when I'm at my laptop. There is so much in my feed that constantly wears me down, and though I feel its my civic duty as an American to stay informed - especially now, I need to draw a line, and remind myself that I can watch the news, and read online at my computer -  not 24/7 on my phone... at the very least, for these next few weeks when I need to concentrate on baby, and baby's new life. I also realize that makes me privileged, to be able to unplug, and I actively acknowledge, and continue to learn how to acknowledge my privilege daily. Last night was the first meeting of a new bookclub that was put together by a woman I contacted through my birth center community. We collectively chose to read, Between the World and Me, which was a hard read, but an important one that I recommend everyone read. Our discussion was difficult, but important, and I'm really glad to have these new women in my life to read together and have sometimes hard, and sometimes escapist (our next book will be fiction) discussions with- particularly during these times of political uncertainty.

My other bookclub meets this weekend, and will be at my daughter's school lead by the Montessori School's Director, Lisa. I've enjoyed being a part of the bookclub with Lisa since Joss started going to school there, and am happy to have the community of parents that attend to discuss parenting together.

In the meantime, I have all of the ingredients prepared to start assembling our post-birth burrito factory. Homemade black beans, and Jason's homemade Spanish rice, tortillas and vegan cheese. Just need to assemble, wrap in foil, and freeze. I took the car in for the re-inspection, and renewed registration, so that is all good, just waiting for the sticker to come in the mail now in a week or so. I've been doing a lot of running around this week, so today I'm going to try and just relax and Netflix and chill as much as possible, fold some laundry, do some dishes, and hang with my animals. I also started watching the Netflix Documentary series, Making a Murderer, since I've been on a documentary kick lately, and after watching episode 1, I'm looking forward to episode 2.