Monday, November 25, 2013

Baby Shower Guessing Game Winners!

When my mom was here I was showing her stuff from our baby shower and she found all of our guest's guesses on birth times, weights, and heights! I have been meaning to post the winners, and runner up, but... well... I've had some more important things on my agenda like snuggling, nursing, changing, and playing with the lil pumpkin. So! Without further ado, congratulations to MIKE! and to JODY! They were both the closest on one of their guesses and pretty close on their other two:

Here were her actual stats:
Weight: 9lbs 9oz
Height 23 inches
Time: 7:26am

Closest Weight: 9lbs 6 oz
Height: 20 inches
Time: 10:02am

Weight: 8lbs 1 oz
Closest height: 22 inches
Time: 6am

And runner up for closest on one of the guesses:

Weight: 7lbs 4oz
Height: 19 3/4 inches
Closest time: 7:45am

Jocelyn is now six weeks old (as of last Saturday), and when we went into the birth center for our final post-natal check up (last Wed) she weighed in at 12 lbs and 3 ounces! She is a healthy, growing, happy baby, and I am also all perfectly healed up and given the green light to once again go about my usual activities, exercise etc. I haven't gone to postnatal yoga yet, I'm not sure if papa is ready to have her for a whole hour by himself- its a challenge enough for him to take her while I jump in the shower once a week for 20 minutes. Haha, we're figuring things out and will get there eventually. I might need to pump and leave a bottle for him once I finally get it together to go to yoga, just in case. I really miss it! And my body is still working on getting back into my regular clothes, but I'm not putting too much pressure on myself and am okay with that. I've been walking with her in my baby bjorn around our neighborhood quite a bit, and also at our appointment was told its okay to put her in her stroller, so we had our first stroll this last weekend too. No running with the stroller yet (not until she can hold her head up completely), but I really enjoy strolling her around our neighborhood. Its been rainy and cold the last couple days though, so we'll have to wait for things to clear up again.

I also wanted to post that I went to one Baby Love class at the Birth center while my mom was still here and Jocelyn was 2 1/2 weeks old. It was really great to go and learn baby massage with some other moms and cute babies. Jocelyn had two diaper changes and nursed before the hour was up, but that's pretty normal for such a young baby. She didn't fuss though, which was awesome. She's a pretty mellow baby most of the time anyway so I wasn't worried about that. We haven't been back yet, but I'm hoping to get more active in attending and hopefully meet some more mamas to build our community of friends with lil ones. It takes a little bit more "get up and go!" for me to get out of the house on my own with her, but I'll get there. I really liked the class, and I think she liked it too.

This whole journey and experience of motherhood has been so rewarding, challenges and all. Its amazing to see how far we've come and how much further we have to go as parents (first steps, grade school through college and beyond). At our six week appointment I told the midwife how fast these first weeks had gone by, and she told me, "They say the first 18 years are like that." I'm trying to soak up each and every moment. Take lost of photos, give lots of kisses and cuddles, and enjoy the whole experience in the present moment - even the fussy times, the sleeplessness, and my new fragrance and hair product (baby barf). Treasuring it all, and trying to be as patient and present as I can be for her.

That being said, I no longer have time to write as much as I used to, but I do have plans to get my vegan blog back up and running and include posts on vegan parenting. Who knows when I will be able to get it together to start it up again, but here's the link... stay tuned:

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Happy Two Week Birthday!

Mostly written on her two week birthday, though posting later after Grandma Jill helped me with baby while I could sneak in more time to write and edit... apologies for any typos, baby comes first!

Its hard to believe that it has been two weeks already since we welcomed our daughter into this world, and at the same time, only two weeks! It has been a whirlwind of love, cloth diaper changes, spit up, kisses, cuddles and adjusting to sleeping in two hour increments through the night, and above everything else so much fun! Time sort of blurs in these first days and weeks with our newest family member and before too much time continues to pass I want to write more about her birth day to keep all the details I can remember. Before I go back to October 11th when I went into labor, I want to also say that yesterday for her (day before) two week check up, she weighed in at 10lbs! She is in perfect health, and so is mama. We had our first successful outing into the real world, and Gramma Jill and Papa J were there to help us through all the excitement of putting on a full outfit (both mama and baby's first in a while). Here we are at our birth tub, where both of our lives changed and began a new beginning two weeks later- in the Zen Room at AABC North. Our labor necklace was hanging on that light fixture behind me and and was in perfect view throughout my laboring, filling our room and tub with all our collected blessings of love. Thank you to all who participated in that with us!

Okay, so let's rewind a bit. One thing about having your due date come and go, is that you not only get so eager to meet your lil one, but everyone also is curious to know if the baby has arrived yet. My dad gave me some of the best advice when we broke the news to him, when she was just 3 months old in my tummy, to never tell anyone your exact due date, but tell them a date that's a few weeks later. That way when/if the baby is late you won't have anyone constantly asking if you've had the baby, when you are so pregnant, and so ready to have the baby, and have the added annoyance of people checking in on you (as if you wouldn't announce as soon as she is born- haha). Well, I pretty much did follow his advice in telling everyone that her due date was "around Halloween" but with my blog counting down the weeks, it was hard to really be tricky and not let people know that her true EDD was Oct 4th. Having family and friends check in on us didn't really bother me though, if anything, it did make me feel more loved, and supported, and happy to have so many people eagerly waiting to welcome her into the world with all their love and care.

So Oct 4th came and went, along with my last full day at work. By my check up on Monday October 7th, I was 2cm dilated, but still no baby. I called into work and told them that I would not be coming in that week, as dilation had started, and having trained my replacement that whole week before I felt like all my loose ends over there were tied. I made it to Yoga Tuesday night, and found out that the class I skipped the Saturday before (the day after my due date) was actually cancelled, so I didn't really miss anything and enjoyed having my pedicure. Wednesday came and went, and so did Thursday. At that point, I had been given several suggestions for helping to move labor along, from the birth center, from friends and family. Since October 4th I had been walking (waddling) with my husband around our neighborhood blocks. Some nights getting just down to the end of the street (after about 15 minutes - haha this is REALLY slow considering how fast of a walker me and my husband usually are), only to have to go pee SO BAD, we would have to waddle back, pee and then try to make it around the block again. We had a few people, some of my yoga moms included suggest eating pineapple. So a couple nights we walked the 6-7 blocks over to Target to buy a can of pineapple. Make a lap in the store and then walk home. Amongst all the other things we tried and I posted in my previous blog post.

By Thursday, I finally decided to figure out how to use my breast pump, and try pumping. I figured it out, and the midwives had suggested to use it on and off for 10 minutes at a time for at least an hour to really make any sort of difference in my progress. I did that a few times during the day on Thursday, and found that it was incredibly uncomfortable, and hoped that nursing would be nothing as intense as the double pump suction (not to mention how awkward I probably looked trying to hold both of them on there- before finally cutting up an old sports bra into a hands-free device to hold them in place). After still no signs of labor that Thursday night when Jason came home from work, I finally decided, "This baby will always be in my belly, and will graduate college remotely from in utero, and I'm OK with that."

When I woke up Friday morning around 7am, I came downstairs to start our usual morning kale smoothies, and felt strong menstrual cramps. Not wanting to get too excited, I didn't think this was really "IT" yet, but paid attention to how long the sensation lasted, and if it happened again. I had already loaded a contractions app on my phone and got to timing. They were coming about 10 minutes apart, and definitely felt like something was happening. When Jason came downstairs around 8am I told him the exciting news, but that he should go to work and I would let him know if anything progressed and would call him back home. By his lunch time, they were getting more intense, still just a strong menstrual cramp-like sensation in my lower belly. I told him that he should probably come home because this was it! Labor (pre-labor) was starting! When he got home, since it was in the afternoon, we called the birth center to tell them my pre labor had started, and we were at home and would be calling again once they were regularly, consistently close together and at least a minute each.

We looked through our paperwork from the birth center again and remembered that if they get to be 4-1-1 (4 minutes apart, 1 minute long, and like that for 1 hour) to call the birth center. Jason also found all the birth partner handouts to look over again. We used the app, while I bounced on our yoga ball, Jason massaged my lower back and we watched TV and I played candy crush. This went on for a while, and so I told Jason to go relax and we need to both get our minds off of it. So he went to game, and I started making some oatmeal chocolate chip cookie dough. By 8 o'clock I had made a batch of cookies (and wrapped up a big log of cookie dough in the fridge for later - this being in retrospect the most brilliant idea in the world!) and waddled into the office were Jason was gaming and told him, I hadn't been timing the contractions but they were getting really intense, and he should probably hang out with me to time them, since I wasn't able to really concentrate enough to do it myself. I also had no concept of time at this point- whatsoever. At this point the yoga ball was no longer comfortable. Leaning over the bar in our kitchen, or the back of our couch, or sitting on the toilet were the only comfortable things I could do to get through the contractions. They were about 2-3 minutes apart and at least 1 minute long.

He called the birth center, and on Oct 11th, the North center was completely full, and only one birthing room was open in their South Location, so we loaded up the car and my water hadn't broken so we grabbed a big stack of kitchen towels on our way out for me to sit on just in case. It was starting to rain, and Jason hadn't been down to the south location before (I had for a few yoga classes), so I was trying to get back into my logical brain and help him navigate, while also wanting to play Bob Marley on his iphone. Though I'm not too much of a reggae fan, Bob Marley was a comforting choice for me to relax, and feel back at home (in Mendo), and let positive vibes wash over me and not let any fear or hesitation in. I had to figure out his phone to play in our car while he drove, so again getting back into my logical brain. We finally got down to the South Center, and were let into the building by the on call midwife. The only room available was the "Folk.Life" room, and it was rustic and had a large oval birth tub, but these weird wood-carved rabbits were perched up above the bed and I thought they were really creepy. I told Jason, "Look at those creepy things!" And asked him to hook up his phone with the ipod dock and keep playing the Bob Marley that we played in the card ride down. At that point the midwife came in and said she would check me. Heather, who is the clinical director in charge of AABC was on duty that day for some birth center inspections, so she had a strong air of confidence and authority that relaxed me. I really liked her. She also said that on her way down to the South Center (she also is usually up North), she saw a car driving super slow with their hazard lights on and thought that was us on our way down. Haha, Jason just laughed and said, "Definitely not us." I know that the drive to the South center is at least 30 minutes from our house, but it felt like we were there immediately. Knowing Jason we probably were. haha. Again no concept of time, everything was, "having a contraction." versus, "not having a contraction."

In my mind, after being 2cm on Monday (though not fully effaced), and after a full day, 13 hours at this point of laboring (pre-labor), and those last few hours being pretty intense at home, I thought I would at least be 5cm, and fully effaced. I was fully effaced but only 3cm! Since being down there at that room, my contractions had also slowed down, and were no longer the intense floods of rushing tides that were washing over me back and forth like they were when we were at home. They told me that Cat was on the way to help with my Birth (since she told me she wanted to be there for me and I was excited to have her!) but that I should really go back home to do some more laboring at home and call again after a few more hours after I progressed more. As we were packing up our birth bag, and saying, "Sayonara!" to those weird lil wooden rabbits, Cat arrived and I told her that we were going to go home and call back in a few hours. I felt really bad that she came all the way down to the South Center, but she and the other midwife Heather assured us that this happens a lot with first time moms and to try to get some rest.

As soon as we were back in the car Jason told me, "Tyler that was weird, as soon as we got down there it seems like your contractions stopped, but at home they looked a lot more intense." I told him it was weird, because they were more intense at home, but maybe because I was trying to use my logical brain to help him navigate, and being in the new room I had never seen before (with those fucking wooden rabbits!) slowed me down and my body was not relaxing into doing its thing. Almost immediately after walking back through our door at our house, my contractions started up again like they did when they were intense before we left. They did say while we were down south that one of the moms up north was pushing and so in a few more hours one room up north would most likely be free for us and to check back in a little later. So at home again, they were back up to the usual pace of 2-3 minutes apart and at least 1 minute sometimes 1 and 1/2 minutes long. This happened regularly for the next 3 hours. I tried laying down in bed spooning Jason, I tried the birth/yoga ball thing some more (definitely NOT comfortable), and also had Jason start a bath for me and pour a half glass of red wine (the first alcohol I'd had throughout pregnancy). I labored a little bit in the bath, with barely any of my body submerged so I had jason grab a bunch of wash cloths to soak in the water and lay over my huge belly sticking up out of the tub. While I was in there I noticed that the contractions were spacing out to more like 3-4, sometimes 5 minutes apart, so we thought that we were slowing things down so I got out of the tub, even though that was the only comfortable laboring place I had been in so far. I only could drink about 3 sips of the wine and really just wanted a lot of ice water.

I spent most of my time sitting over the toilet, peeing a lot from all the ice water I was drinking, and being in pretty much the only comfortable position I could find for myself (aside from leaning over a counter top). Jason and I also tried "slow dancing" where I hung my arms around around his neck and onto his shoulders, but really by 11:30 it was so intense, I was starting to cry during those contractions, that were back to 2 minutes apart and lasting for a minute or longer. There was just no real downtime to rest. Jason called the birth center, and they were preparing the Zen room, as the woman in there had checked out and it just needed to be cleaned and would be ready by midnight. We waited a little bit longer, while I screamed through a few more contractions, still all with the sensation of being very strong menstrual cramps throughout my belly- like lightning bolts. The North center is only a 10 minute drive, unlike the 30 minute drive to the South location, so we finally got in the car about 20 minutes after calling, and my water still was intact, so I sat on that pile of dish towels in the car ride again just in case. I also should mention, that at this time, my belly is not only incredibly huge- but having the long legs that I do, and with our small Mazda 3 barely fitting our huge rear-facing car seat the front passenger seat is pushed all the way forward so I am packed in there like a puzzle piece.

We got to our usual North Center (no navigation help needed to get him there, and honestly I don't even remember the drive over), and I remember stepping out of the car to have another contraction and leaning over the trunk of our car to try and make myself more comfortable. Jason told me to come over and get inside, as the midwife was there opening the door for us. Next thing I know we are in the Zen Room, which was the room that I told Jason on our very first tour was the room I wanted to birth in. Funny how things work out like that. Usually you can have a choice, but with all the babies being born that night we were also just so thankful that we had a room, and one we had seen and toured, were familiar with and only a few minutes drive away from home. My contractions did not slow down this time, and were as regular as they were while we were laboring for the last 3 hours. In my head I thought, "After all this hard laboring for the past 3 hours, I bet I'm only 4cm!" Heather was there and checked me again, and what do you know, she told me, "You are 4cm." HAHA, I told her I was thinking to myself I bet that's all the dilation that I'll have, and though my breaks between contractions were still just 1-2 minutes apart, I sneaked in a couple laughs at myself. She told me and Jason that we wouldn't be sent home again, but that we would be staying there. She also did see that my contractions were more intense then the ones down south, and Jason told her how he was really surprised when they virtually seemed to stop at the other location. They told us that is common, and why they sent us home to move things along more easily in the comfort of our home.

They had asked me if my water had broken, and it still hadn't. They also asked if I had any strong feelings of back labor, and I didn't- all of the sensations were still in my belly and like lightning bolts of menstrual cramps. They gave us a lot of privacy, just me, Jason and my big belly in our room. I definitely wanted music playing, and asked Jason to turn off the Bob Marley because it was annoying me, and to instead play some Air. As for my positions, I mostly wanted to stay on the toilet through my contractions, and I tried to lay on the bed, and spoon with Jason, tried hanging on him, and still nothing felt good but sitting over the toilet. The next time they came in to check my vitals, and my baby's heart beat (everything perfectly steady), I asked if they could fill up the tub for me. They said of course, but to wait to get in until after its full. I labored some more and listened to Air and remembered to ask Jason to hang my labor necklace up so I could see it during the birth. The light fixture over the tub was perfect, so he clasped it there above me, and also took out my two large crystals. My moonstone that we bought the day we found out we were pregnant for health and wellness in pregnancy and birth, and my large polished slab of labradorite that I love for intuition and relationships. I immediately lost any sense of modesty I had, which to me was surprising because I am pretty modest as far as being nude around other people. I had however been having no problems sitting on the toilet with an open door with the midwives and assistants coming and going from our room before that, but I was wearing a long tube-top maxi dress, so still pretty covered up.

Once I got into the tub, I had initially left on my little black sports bra top for modesty's sake, and was so excited to have a big enough tub to cover me all up with water. We joked with the midwife how my belly was completely out of the water in our tub at home, and not much else fit in the water either (especially with my long legs anyway) and how good it felt to be in a big tub. She left and let us have our privacy to labor together in our room. Shortly thereafter my top just came off because it was incredibly uncomfortable against my skin. I still had no concept of time, didn't know if we had been at the birth center 20 minutes or 2 hours. I didn't have any concept of self consciousness either, and felt so normal and natural to have women coming in the room to check me and my progress without a stitch of clothing on and being okay with that. I didn't really realize any of this until after the fact, but what all the classes and midwives told us was true, your sense of modesty really does just go away, and you get into your "lizard brain" and just let nature take over. By this point I was still getting out of the tub every time I had to pee, and Jason was helping me in and out of the bathroom, but that was about the last piece of my logical brain functioning my body.

Being in the tub again though, I felt that my contractions were spacing further apart from each other, so I thought that I should get out and try to do some laboring on the bed to keep things moving forward. There was also a birth ball in the shower, but I really didn't like it when we were at home, so I didn't use it. As soon as I got out, and laid on the bed they were so intense and uncomfortable they were again right back to being on top of each other, just a minute or two apart. The midwife came back to check up on my progress, and asked if the tub was too hot. I told her (or maybe Jason did at that point) that the water was fine but we thought it was slowing down my labor. She said that my contractions were so close together, spacing them apart would actually be a good idea for me to try to get some rest in between to reserve more of my energy. But since I was out of the tub, she said she would check my vitals and progress on the bed because its easier for her to see everything that way. At this point I think Cat had just arrived at the birth center after helping with another delivery (down south I think), and it was 3am. Heather checked me and my waters still hadn't broken, but I was now at 6cm. She said that they could break my waters for me if I wanted to, but if they did I would go from 0 mph to 60 mph really quickly. I turned over to ask Jason, and he told me, "its all up to you." So I told her, "Yes, could you?" By about 3:30am Cat had come in and Heather and her manually broke my water. It was a huge flood and it surprised me how warm it was. I told them that, "Haha, I don't know why I was imagining it to feel cold haha." I was laying on about 5-6 plastic/cotton pad things on the bed to protect the sheets, and they helped me roll over to the side and get up without getting my water everywhere. Cat told me there was some meconium in my waters, but that is normal for a past due baby, and there shouldn't be any complications.

I got into the tub and again no concept of time really, but contractions were getting so strong, like large ocean waves, washing over me - still no back labor, just the strong menstrual cramps - and by strong, I mean, STRONG cramps - like lightning bolts. It felt good in the water, but still very intense. Jason and Cat reminded me to breathe, and Cat rubbed some essential oils on my shoulders and Michelle (who was our midwives assistant throughout centering) got me set up with a bowl of ice water for cold compresses that Jason kept on my forehead and the back of my neck. I was vocalizing a lot, and using a lot of the "horse lips" technique to blow out my air through loose lips to try to relax more into the contractions, and not let my body fight them, but sit down into them. Heather came back and checked me again, and I remember that I was almost fully dilated but there was a small lip that was still there so they gave me a small shot of some herbs in a tonic that Cat mixed and had me chase with a shot of apple juice to help my cervix soften. Jason told me later that it was Colloidal Silver, but all I heard them say was, "Herbs..... Will Help..... Drink." I was also being reminded to relax my body, which I was trying really hard to just stay loose and was wiggling my hips underwater to stay as relaxed and loose as I could, and trying to breathe out and not scream out, and figuring out how to do this at the same time, and during contractions almost felt like the first time I was learning how to use my body (which in this way was the first time I was using my body to have a baby). I was getting the hang of it, but I definitely had to be reminded and was so thankful to have such a strong support team there helping. While I was wiggling my hips, I heard Heather, Cat, Michelle, or Roswitta (who I think was there the whole time also assisting) tell each other, and me, "Look at her! There you go, Dance that baby out!"

At that point I asked Jason to play some Beach House (which I actually wanted was Washed Out, but couldn't pull my mind together enough to remember their name correctly, so I just asked for Beach House instead, which was also good and relaxing). More contractions, more ice water through a straw out of my thermos (thank you Jason!) more cold compresses on the back of my neck and on my forehead, and every time my vitals and my baby's vitals were checked in the water everything was looking great. I was given another shot of the "herbs" this time without the apple juice, and also since I was doing a lot of panting was given a few puffs on the oxygen mask. The tub had to be filled up a few times, since the water was slowly draining while I was in it, but it was nice to keep having the water refreshed. I was completely oblivious, until much later how attentive everyone was for me, and am so thankful I didn't have to think or worry about anything, but to just be present in my body and let my body's ancient wisdom do its thing that women have been doing for centuries. I do remember saying a couple times, "I don't know if I can do this." which Jason and Cat followed up with, "You are doing great!" and "You've got this!" (Earlier in Labor I didn't like Jason telling me, "you've got this!" through my contractions, because it made me feel like he was telling me I had something, like an illness, or a zombie infection. Also, it was annoying because all I wanted to say is, "NO SHIT. You think I don't know I've got this baby in me wreaking havok!?" So I told him to tell me, "You're doing this, you're doing great!" instead. haha I'm such a weirdo. Anyway, at this point they could have told me anything and as long as the baby was still doing fine, it wouldn't bother me). I didn't realize it at the time, but that was my signal that I was in transition (no longer questioning semantics and linguistics) and pushing would happen very soon.

Finally I started to feel the uncontrollable sensation of pushing, and Cat told me to just go with it, if my body wanted to push to just push. I cannot imagine what it would feel like to have those pushing sensations and be asked to resist pushing which some women do (when they are not fully dilated). I had three shots of the Colloidal Silver not sure when the third one happened exactly, and another few breaths with the oxygen again not sure when as far as timing. I do remember looking at the labor necklace and hearing the Bob Marley come back on our ipod which I felt was really fitting and helped me to relax and trust my body and the people helping me. From that point on I was turned to face the opposite direction in the tub, and pushing was happening with each contraction. This part also felt like being a new soul in a new body and trying to figure out how to operate the new parts for the first time. There were some handles in the tub that I was holding onto and pushing my feet against, and really sitting down into the contractions, holding my breath, letting it build, then using the strength of the contraction to push down through the base of my spine/my bottom, and not through my legs. It was tricky to get the hang of this but I got it after a few times, and with the help of the awesome 4 midwives and birthing coaches gathered around the tub, with Jason behind me keeping my ice water full and the straw at my mouth whenever I asked for it, and cold compresses forever rotating through on my neck and keeping my hair off my face.

She finally started to crown, and the midwives told me I could reach down and feel the top of her head, after all of them exploded with excitement, "Look at all that hair!" I felt the top of her head and it was more motivation than ever to keep pushing and meet her, which I know I would do so soon - though still no idea if I had been pushing for 15 minutes or 4 hours at that point. All of her vitals were great and strong and so we were able to continue on laboring in the water. Though I thought it would only be a few pushes after crowning, it was a lot of sensations of strong pressure in my pelvis, and a strong sense of energy I felt traveling through me (both figurative and literally) and then about 20 or 30 or maybe more pushes happened until finally her head was out, and all the midwives were so supportive and excited to help me along it filled the room with so much love and strength. They kept me pushing and she was finally out and immediately brought up out of the water and placed on my chest. After that everything was a rosy blur. I was holding my baby, and all the work that my body had done, for almost a year had accomplished this crazy amazing magical thing that is creating a new little person, a life, a little body, mind, and spirit and I was finally holding her and looking into her eyes on the outside. Everyone was impressed with her size, and said that they didn't expect such a large baby that my torso hid her well, since I'm so tall. They called her birth time at 7:26am.

The midwives suctioned out her mouth and nose, and had me wait for another contraction to push the placenta. This part was a little harder than I expected it to be, but so much easier than everything else, and plus it didn't matter because I was holding Jocelyn in my arms. The midwives were also super impressed with the size of my placenta, and were making guesses on how much it weighed (and later took out a scale and said it was 3lbs! most are only 1-2lbs, so who says a vegan can't make a big healthy kale-powered baby and placenta! haha). That first moment she was on my chest, I looked back at Jason, in retrospect impressed that he didn't pass out and was still there with me watching everything and continuing to be the awesome rock of support that he is and told him, "Here's your daughter Papa!" Later he told me that he was worried after she was born how much blood he saw, but the midwives told him that was all totally normal and not more than to be expected. They drained the water while we let her cord blood drain back into her before clamping. They cut the cord and wrapped her in a blanket and gave her to papa, while they rinsed me off and then brought me over to the bed. We did all our vitals and everything was great, and the three of us were up in the bed together to rest and relax and hang out to be checked a few more times before getting the okay to go home. They said they wanted to keep us there until a bit after noon, around 2 or 3pm.

I did get a few stitches, which I didn't feel at all, after some shots of Novocaine (or something like that) and after 2 weeks the stitches have already all dissolved and have healed almost completely. We both took to nursing without any issues, and after settling into a bit of snoozing, cuddling, and family bonding time, I asked Jason if he could go home to let our dogs out and feed them, since we had last let them out the night before at midnight. Papa J headed out and then by the time he came back we all took some time napping together in the big fluffy bed in our birth room, while occasionally the midwives would come in to check our vitals. After a few hours they asked if we wanted to have her bathed, and if we wanted to bathe her of if we wanted them to for us. It was so nice that they asked, and the whole experience was about us as a new family, and what we wanted to do, trusting our judgement and decisions which was so relaxing and reassuring. They wheeled a bath right to the side of our bed and I had our assistant bathe her for me, while I kept my hand in the water on her sweet little toes while I could continue to just rest and relax laying in bed. She loved her bath, afterwards she was wrapped up and handed back to us, so she never left our sight, only our arms for those few minutes in the bath, though still right there within reach.

We had her feet stamped, and unfortunately did not get a keepsake birth certificate because the last one they had was misprinted, so at least I got her feet stamped in my little birth book. They said we could get a new one on her 2 week appointment, but unfortunately we forgot, so we will have to get it at her 6-week, and her feet will probably be a bit bigger, but that's okay. As long as we finally get one to frame and put up in her room. Papa J filled out all her paperwork for her social security card, and her official birth certificate while laying in bed next to me. We also had her get the K vitamin shot in her thigh, which they did while she was nursing and she didn't have much of a reaction to it, she barely fussed. After all of that, we had been approved to go home, since we said we wanted to go home as soon as they said it was okay rather than hang out at the birth center. By 3 we loaded her up and packed up our birth bag, my huge placenta (which is in our freezer awaiting to be planted under a tree in our yard), and of course forgot a baby blankie and baby hat in our room which hopefully will be of use to one of the next Birth Center babies. Putting her into her carseat for the first time was so rewarding, after having it empty in our backseat for so many weeks, awaiting her arrival.

We went through the steps our dog trainer advised us to when bringing her inside, and the dogs were curious to smell me, and her scent on me and Jason- and also were excited to get their new dog toys in celebration and as a distraction from our baby which they minded us and kept their distance from her. The next couple weeks are a blur. We didn't sleep the first night, I didn't mostly because I was so amazed just, staring at her and that night we had a huge thunder and lightning storm that brought us 12 inches of rain. We saw this as a way all the elements and earth gods were welcoming her into our world with a big light show and much needed downpour. By night two we were into a good night time nursing/changing rhythm, and daytime waking hours that it wasn't as challenging as an adjustment as I was expecting. She pretty much has kept up her sleep pattern of 2 hours at a time throughout the night, and after I change and nurse her, sometimes she needs to be burped, but most times will just fall back asleep and we can get enough rest for the night for me to be awake all day the next morning. We had a home-visit check up on day three, and she had to get  lil her heel pricked for the genetic testing, but again she was nursing while the midwife did that so she didn't fuss much. All of our vitals again were excellent, she didn't have any jaundice and mama was healing up very nicely, but still advised not to leave bed rest yet.

The first week I couldn't really do much aside from nurse and change diapers, so I just stayed laying in bed, while Jason helped out so much, cooking cleaning and attending to me, our dogs, cats, and household while I stayed on bedrest. He also changed some diapers, and immediately showed his strengths as having the magic touch to instantly calm her down by just holding her if she was being a bit fussy and didn't need a change or milk. My mom flew in from California that Friday, and Jason's boss was SO awesome in giving him a second week off to stay home with us, which was great for all of us since that first week went by so quickly. The second week went by pretty quickly too, and by the time Jason went back to the office on that following Monday it dawned on me that its almost Halloween! I have a really cute little lady bug costume for her, and we have tons of vegan candy and treats to hand out to our trick or treaters. My mom is here for another week to help out some more with cooking and cleaning, and we've been going on walks every day in my neighborhood to get some fresh air and I'm getting to be a pro with the baby wearing techniques with a wrap and with a baby bjorn!

After this huge long post, what I can say to sum up my first birth experience and Jocelyn's birth story to the best of my ability, is what I wrote for my first facebook post after her birth:
"It has been an incredible adventure of a day- body, mind, and spirit! Though we aren't posting photos of her, I will say hearing her coo, snore, and happily snooze snuggled beside me is the most magical and surreal gift. Feeling grateful and blessed, and pretty tired. Thank you for all the love sent our way! Feeling it all! Xoxo"

Monday, October 14, 2013

Welcome Jocelyn!

We are so happy to have welcomed our beautiful, healthy baby girl Jocelyn into our family on Saturday morning with the sun rise. She is perfect! 9 pounds, 9 ounces, and 23 inches long! A very big, healthy vegan girl! I am truly at a loss of words to describe all the emotions, feelings, and sensations that come with giving birth, but if it makes any sense, the best way for me to describe my experience is through the combined sensations of pushing her in those last moments, with the images of seeing her for the first time come up out of the water, and then feeling her be immediately placed on my chest, and realizing that all laboring leading up to that moment (24 and 1/2 hours total) almost felt, "easy," putting that moment into perspective. "Oh that's all I have to do to get to this moment? I wouldn't trade any of it for, this moment."

 She was a natural water birth, with no complications and surrounded by love, support and the combined experience of four (maybe five? my eyes were closed most of the time) midwives sharing decades of deliveries together to welcome her to us. Cat my awesome yoga teacher, who has been with the birth center for six years, and is just finishing up her student midwife requirements delivered her for us, and Jocelyn was one of her first water birth deliveries! She took such great care of us the whole time, and her energy, and support let me completely follow my body's wisdom and let go of any sense of hesitation, and relax out of the urge to fight the sensations that my body was sending me as I moved rapidly through the final part- active labor and pushing (which was about the last 5+/- hours all in the birthing tub).

 I feel so lucky to have had Cat deliver Jocelyn for me, and am so proud to help be a part of her process to complete her journey in becoming a full midwife herself! She is such a natural care giver, and has so much positive energy about her that i couldn't have asked for anyone more wonderful, caring and competent. So much love her way. And though I didn't have any doubts about her abilities, there was no way I could have felt any doubts at all having all the other midwives there to help support her (if she needed them) and to help me and the birth in general, and mostly be there just in case they were needed, or if any complications came up (though no complications did!). All those women there helping me filled the room with such a beautiful, powerful, energy of strong women, helping us (mama and baby) do the most magical thing that our bodies can do, make life. It was the most amazing experience that we have ever had, individually and as a family, and though we are all three tired, and I'm still a bit sore, we are feeling so blessed, and full of love moving into the next adventure of our lives together.

I also want to mention that another powerful energy that brought me strength during my birth was all the blessings that were sent to us and strung into our labor necklace! As soon as we got to the birth center I asked Jason to attach the necklace to one of the light fixtures hanging over the birth tub to be right there with me the whole time through my labor. Though my eyes were closed most of the time, when I would open them and look up at all the treasures and beads from our loved ones, it reminded me of all the love we have in our lives, how thankful I am to be going through this experience, happy, healthy and supported, and really appreciate all of the contributions that were sent to us to welcome our sweet baby. It really brought me a lot of strength when I needed it most. Thank you so much to each of you!

Speaking of strength, I also need to mention how strong and wonderful Papa Jason was during the whole experience. He couldn't have done a better job of being the rock holding me together when I was having the strongest contractions, and giving me all the love and care that I needed through keeping my forehead cool with ice water compresses, keeping my hair out of my face, keeping me hydrated with ice water through the whole labor, and offering me his hands to grip onto so tightly to pull me through the strongest contractions all while keeping me oblivious to the fact that I was almost breaking all of his fingers time and time again, though he kept offering them to me when he would see another one coming. Thank you papa, your baby loves you so much, and she is already such a lucky girl to have such a loving strong daddy to have all her own. We love you!!

Once I have more energy I will post more of the full story, with some pics (though we are still choosing to not post any of her face for her privacy but my goodness is she a cutie!!) but in the meantime, I wanted to share our good news, and wish our daughter a very, very happy birth day, and many more to come! Here's to our new life together ahead!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Breathing and Laughing

40 weeks and 6 days today. I'm going back in with Jason for another checkup this morning to see what kind of progress my body's made since Monday's visit. I've been feeling some more sensations that are cluing me into my body preparing to go into labor, but no laboring yet. Most of the people I trust know what they're talking about at this point have told me to just relax, and stop thinking about it, and things will happen. Also that due dates are not a science, but an estimation, and all our bodies work and move at difference paces and cycles. So I'm really making an effort to be as lazy as possible, and just give in to doing "nothing" (this is hard for me, but I'm reminding myself that when I do "nothing" my body is actually still doing a lot, and so I need to give my body that chance and energy to do its thing). I also think that keeping a sense of humor right now is also really important. I think actually a sense of humor all the time is important. Haha, life is funny even through its more challenging moments, and it will surely be a lot funnier with our new little one.

Jason's been giving me head massages (my favorite way to relax when we watch tv together), I've been going for daily walks around our neighborhood and trying to nap a few times a day. Getting some more cleaning in that I can. Baking treats for post labor, and took a long bath last night and laughed how I barely any of me fits in the tub (less than half of me submerged). It was still relaxing though, and trying to pamper my body as much as I can. I've been soaking in all the cuddles from my dogs too who aren't used to me being home during the work day, and having fun watching our crazy cats fly up and down our carpeted stairs after each other while the dogs are sleeping which is pretty hilarious. I'm so thankful to be where I am right now, with my family, and my home, and my health, and trust in my body and nature to know when the time is right to do her thing. Breathing, and laughing as much as possible in the meantime.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Waiting Game

Some of my readers might be wondering if my posts have slowed down because our baby has arrived and I've been wrapped up in new mama hood! The answer is not yet, but we are doing everything we can (naturally, and non-invasively) to help move the process along. My body is getting things going, and we have had some progress, as of yesterday she was dropped more than last monday when I visited the midwives for my checkup, and I am 2cm dilated, though not fully effaced. Things are looking good though, and right on track, though I'm a few days over 40 weeks now. I go back this Thursday (if not before to deliver!) and if still no baby at that time, they will start to give me some herbs to take, and if need be, get me started on taking caster oil (which is derived from a bean, and vegan).

So far my body has been feeling the following new sensations- more pressure in my upper thighs, which sometimes spreads throughout my entire lower back and abdomen, menstrual cramps in my stomach and lower back, more "cervical twinges" (sort of feels like quick lightning bolts shooting up my vagina), and more tightness and pressing down sensations in my whole torso area (which I've been experiencing now for the past 1-2 months - my Braxton Hicks). My knuckles still feel funny and are sore, but other than that I feel like my usual self, and with her dropping down my boobs no longer are resting on the top of my big belly haha, and I can once again, and have been eating all kinds of spicy foods without heartburn! Rejoice!

So what can I do to help bring on labor? As recommended by my midwives, I've been doing the following...
  1. Walking. Jason and I have been walking around our neighborhood the past few nights, and we are so happy that the weather has FINALLY been cooling down enough to let us enjoy a nightly constitutional without returning home to be covered in sweat. When I walk my waddle is now in full force, but I can feel my uterus getting to work with twinges, and braxton hicks, so I've been trying to walk as much as possible. Now parking the farthest away that we can at the grocery store, and taking a few extra laps around target when we shop there. We've also tried taking our dogs with us, but they are a little bit too much for me to handle right now, and too much for Jason to handle them both at once, so they haven't walked with us much. Today I'm going to head around the block a few times, and if I get too hot, come back home and get on our treadmill.
  2. Making Love. The release of hormones during climax and the prostaglandins that are in sperm can help to thin the cervix and bring on contractions. Though at this stage of pregnancy there are some obstacles (mainly my huge belly) to make things work, we've found that taking a long shower together is the best way to accomplish this one, and its also pretty fun too. :) *blush*
  3. Spicy Food. I was so happy that I pretty much didn't have to give up my love for spicy food throughout pregnancy, with the exception of a couple months in my third trimester. Once she started dropping, I have found that my tolerance for super super spicy foods is back to normal (meaning no heart burn). Yesterday I ate a big slice of my homemade lasagna, and covered it with ghost pepper powder. Jason then came home and made a big batch of his ghost pepper and habanero salsa, and we ate two huge bowls full. My eyes were happily watering, my nose running, and my love of spicy foods will hopefully help move things along.
  4. Bounce on a Birth Ball. (A yoga ball). One of my midwives recommended that I sit and bounce on a birthing ball to help move things along, and whether or not this is actually helping, its been pretty fun to turn on some music and sit/bounce/dance which usually results in me laughing and telling my baby to, "Come join the fun already!" haha, its pretty hilarious to me, and even more so to my dogs who look at me like a crazy person when I do this. My favorite music so far for this is the new Nine Inch Nails album, I just completely love Trent Reznor and Hesitation Marks is pretty great, pretty dancey, but still totally the NIN sound. 
  5. Relax. The power of mind is also an important part to consider. I think that now that I am not working as of yesterday, my mental energy is no longer being poured into my work, but open to relax and work with nature, my body, and have the freedom to just let go of any external stresses and be ready to welcome our new baby into our family. With all the super-nesting that has set in, "I am not in labor yet! Let's scrub the house with a toothbrush!" mentality is hard for me to suppress, haha but I've been putting serious effort into putting my feet up, and napping throughout the day, in between loads of laundry, vacuuming, dusting, organizing, cooking, etc, and trying to rest up as much as possible, as I know that I need to conserve my energy for laboring. 
  6. Breast Pumping. I haven't tried this one yet, but the hormones that are released when nursing, are the hormones that help move along contractions. I have an electric breast pump that my insurance provided totally free of cost, so I might go ahead and try to use it. They say 10 minutes on, 10 minutes off. And continue that way for a while to really move my body along. If I am still not with baby by this Friday (41 weeks), I will start trying that. Might as well.
My midwives also recommended that I look into seeing an acupuncturist, or a chiropractor to help moveˇ things along. I've been curious to go to either one of those, as I've never done either of them, but unfortunately my insurance doesn't cover either service so it won't fit into our budget right now. We are trying all the above free stuff for now, and hopefully she will make her entrance soon enough. They also recommended I try taking Evening Primrose oil orally, however, what Jason and I have read about taking that (as well as taking Caster Oil), there are some possible complications that we want to avoid - like rupturing my waters prematurely, (or causing diarrhea), and so we are going to first just try to let nature do her thing, and not go there yet. Its a really exciting time, and also a really good practice in patience and letting go of control and trusting nature. 

The only wall that I'm up against, is that if my baby waits longer than 42 weeks to deliver, I will no longer be eligible to deliver at the birth center, and will need to go to the hospital - which is what I want to avoid if at all possible. They did reassure me that there are other things we can also try before getting to that point, such as the herbs I mentioned above, and so hopefully I will have my baby before that point (visualizing myself in the birthing tub, in the beautifully remodeled Ananda room, surrounded by the love and energy of the midwives, my husband, and visualizing myself birthing my baby there), but I know that whatever happens will happen, and I am just thankful that I have everything that I need to deliver safely with the company of caring loving people, and of course my super dad Jason. 

In the meantime, since my belly is so very huge, when I'm out in public more people are really noticing me and approaching me. Which means more belly blocks than ever lately haha changing my body language to keep strangers from touching me. I'm totally accepting of engaging in polite conversation and hearing their blessings, but all while keeping my eyes on their roving hands haha so weird! How people react to a pregnant lady. They always first ask when I'm due, and lately when I say, "Last Friday," their reactions are really funny to me! Haha, "And you're walking around doing grocery shopping?!" (Yes, My husband is here helping, and I feel fine, gotta stock up the fridge before she gets here!) or, "And you're still driving?!" (Yes, its quicker than walking at my pace these days, haha) I just tell them, "Thank you! I feel great, here's hoping she comes soon." Its not like I'm an invalid, haha. Yes I've very pregnant, but I am still an (almost) fully functioning human being. Haha, mostly I think in part to all the yoga that I've done throughout pregnancy. (Again, SO thankful for the birth center's yoga program!) Last Saturday, the day after my due date, instead of going to yoga, I went to get a pedicure. I felt that I needed a long foot massage more than I needed the work out, and though I sort of wish I would have done yoga - THEN the pedicure, it felt great to sit in the massaging chair, and get the full half leg/foot massage, mask, and have someone paint my toes all pretty for delivery. Especially after finishing another, and my final full-time week of work at the office. It was definitely what I needed, and now my toes are super cute, in bright "Salsa" Red.

Since Jocelyn still isn't making her entrance, I am hoping that I can make it to yoga tonight. Now that I'm without being stuck with my 9-10 hours committed to the office before heading to yoga, I feel like I can get over there without over doing it, or exhausting myself, and hopefully the yoga will do its thing and help move my baby along! I also miss all my yoga mamas, and this may be the last time I will get to see all of them (before we all start up with post natal yoga). We'll see! Either way, if I make it to yoga I will be happy, and of course if I go into labor before I can make it to class, I will be SO happy! We'll see...

We have also had a few of our friends offer to help us out with food after baby's born, so we decided to go ahead and put together a Take Them a Meal website. (If you would like the link to our page, send me a comment and I'm happy to share!) My mom will be flying in a week from Friday, and will be here with us until November, so we set up our meals needed schedule for Nov - mid Dec. Its definitely hard for us to ask for help, but we're also letting ourselves say yes, and accept any help that's offered, which I'm sure we will appreciate even more than we already realize yet. So grateful for our awesome friends, and Austin community! 

And now I'm off to walk around the block, and enjoy this cool 75-80 degree weather. All the windows in our house have been open the past several days and I've even added a couple blankets to our bed at night (I can't remember the last time I slept with more than just a sheet). So happy Fall is here, and soon to be enjoyed with my lil baby girl. 

Friday, October 4, 2013

40 Weeks

For those of you wondering if we have welcomed our new addition into our family yet, we are getting closer and closer, but still have not had the blessing to kiss her face to face. I've been working full time up until today, and have been so tired after work that blogging hasn't been a priority, but eating, and then getting to bed as soon as possible has been my routine. Today is my EDD (and TGIF!), and we are hoping that tonight's New Moon, will bring our new little moonbeam into the world with us. Casting love charms, and birthing wishes all weekend long... trying to get as much rest now as possible. Here I am, after work today, home at last, on my due date... come on baby, we are so ready for you!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Costco Run

We always spend way more than we intend to when we go to Costco, and today it didn't help that we forgot we had to renew our membership. Oh well! Pantries are now completely stocked, tubs of mixed nuts are stashed under my night stand ready for midnight snacking while I'm up around the clock nursing, what little room was left in our freezer is now full of frozen organic fruits and berries for our smoothies.

I've been feeling more cervical twinges, and pre-labor symptoms, but no active labor yet! Tomorrow I will see the midwives, and get an internal exam to how much (if any) I am dilated, and how much further down she's dropped since last week. Its also my step brother's birthday tomorrow, Happy birthday Josh! Libras rule!

I train the new girl tomorrow as well, then after that I will play out the rest of the work week, full time as usual to continue to help with training, and then take it from there... Since Jocelyn's due date is on the new moon, its possible that regardless of all the mental preparation I've been doing to be okay with going against "The Plan" she might be completely right on plan after all. Haha, my mom said for us two girls we were both born on new moons, and my brother was born on the full moon. We'll see when Jocelyn decides its her time.

We also received a couple more last minute additions for our labor necklace, that I've tied on from Grammy Pam, and are now completely fully equipt, and ready to go into action. Birth bag is locked and loaded in our car, in her carseat. All pre-made foods are frozen and ready for Jason to grab to take with him to the birth center to eat while I labor, and then keep us easily fed after she's born and we are sleepless zombies.

Liz also called today which was so great to hear from her! She's so sweet, and said that she knows we're getting close, and asked if there was anything we needed. I told her we were all set with baby supplies, birth bag, frozen foods etc, and as soon as I started to tell her we don't need anything, I remembered the midwives in centering reminding us to accept all help that's offered after birth, that we will appreciate and really need it! So instead of the usual polite, "no you don't have to," that I'm accustomed to saying whenever anyone tries to help out or give me anything, I rewired my brain to accept her offer, and said, "The only thing I can think of needing help with is after she's born having enough food, since I know we will be hungry zombies." And of course, Liz is the best! She said she was thinking of making us a vegan casserole, and also thought about making us a bunch of individual smoothie packs with fruits/berries etc, since she remembered how into my daily smoothies I've been throughout pregnancy (and before for that matter). Its not instinctual for me to allow other people to help me do- pretty much, anything. Since I was super young, I've always just fell back on relying on myself and my own skills/hard work to do everything - from finding my own sense of happiness, to buying my first car, and I'm just now learning in my 30s, that if help is offered to welcome it! So I'm not only completely grateful to have friends like Liz offer her help, but also proud that I've letting myself open up enough to let others help out. So stoked for the Austin vegan community, and for the Austin Area Birth Center community to get involved with and meet awesome friends, and to give and receive support.

Really excited for tonight's series finale of Breaking Bad, and hoping to get a good night's sleep. Its been harder and harder to sleep much, but I know that my body needs to rest as much as possible before labor. 10-15 trips to pee in the middle of the night doesn't help, but I'm trying to think of all this interrupted sleep as the dress rehearsal to around the clock nursing. It will all be a lot easier when I'm not tied to a full work load outside of the house. I know that having a baby will be hard work, but honestly, this is the kind of hard work that is so completely fulfilling, satisfying, and truly work that is something to be genuinely proud of, in love with, and happy to build the best possible future for. Careers are great too, and I'm sure there will be more time in my future to work on that, but right now, I so looking forward to the rewards of all the hard work that goes into being a new mom. Are we there yet???

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Last Call

The final countdown is in full effect, I'm still going strong, and awaiting our lil pumpkin who has gone through so much with me over these last 9 months, growing and building strong bones, brains, a healthy heart, and hands and toes!

Today I went to Yoga, and it was so great to get to class and see everyone there. At this point heading to the classes on Tues/Thurs nights after work just seems like too much, and so last week when I wasn't at those night classes after work, a lot of my girls thought I had my baby! It made me realize how much I will miss all of them, and am so thankful for Saturday's class, as I still have enough energy to get there. Today's class felt so good. Such a loving, supportive community of women, I really feel so thankful to be a part of this experience at the birth center. I miss Sara the Thursday night instructor, but I am looking forward to heading to her post-natal yoga classes after baby is born, after I'm all healed up (6 weeks after labor). Cat today told me that she signed up to be called when I go into labor to assist, which is so awesome! I was hoping she would be there, her energy is so great, she's been such an amazing support, and source of strength and love throughout my pregnancy, I was hoping somehow she would be there with me, but didn't really know how to ask, and if she could- with her schedule. So awesome!  She also told me that I can come by class after baby's born (a couple weeks after healing) to share my lil one with the other mamas, since we've all become so close and that when I was out last Tuesday night (and then also on Thursday) everyone was asking about me. It makes me feel so loved, and supported to have these women around! And I would love to bring lil Jocelyn in to see everyone she's been stretching with, after she's on the outside with us.

After yoga, I got going with the tamales and made dozens of them that are all freezing up nicely in our freezer, along with another dozen burritos that I whipped out as well, with some of Jason's homemade pinto beans, and homemade spanish rice.

Feeling like everything on our list is checked off, and now we can just settle back and relax, and await her arrival. The only last thing that I have on my list of to dos, is to train the new girl at my office, who starts on Monday. I plan to continue to work full time all next week with her, to help train her, and to also finish out the work week for a full pay-period, but really at this point, Jocelyn arriving at any time between now and then feels like the right timing- if that's what she decides. For the last several months I had also been writing a full binder of all the processes of every aspect of my job, so even if I don't make it back to work on Monday, the new girl still has about 100 pages of instructions on everything I do haha, yes, I know I am completely ridiculous. My bosses didn't even ask or expect me to do any of that, but its just who I am. If I feel I have a responsibility I put my mind to it, and give 100%, 100% of the time. Which is why I am so excited for motherhood, and raising a healthy, confident, intelligent, caring, happy, strong, peaceful, and compassionate young child into the beautiful human being that I'm sure she will be - with the ability to make her own choices in life, and do what she loves and aspires to become.

Every night I've been dreaming of her birth and holding her in my arms, and last night I dreamed that when I gave birth to her, she came out of my mouth- haha. But she was totally perfect, dark hair, and I immediately knew when she asked me to feed her, just by looking at her eyes, and we nursed, and it was natural and perfect, and I realized that I am now a mom. It was such an intense, strong feeling of just being exactly where I need to be, the right time, the right place, like everything was just as it should be - that's the best way I can describe it.

We have also decided on her middle name! Which, like her photos, we have decided to keep private. But its a great one, that we both like a lot and it took some time, but we found it, and its all her own. Speaking of photos, after skyping with my mom, she said, "But Ty, all your readers should at least get ONE pic of her after she's born!" Haha, and Jason and I have agreed that we are okay with having her picture taken and posted (on blogs/facebook/instagram) as long as her face isn't in the picture. So most likely a photo of her in my arms bundled up, a picture here and there of her perfect little fingers and toes, may appear from time to time, but we do want to keep her privacy as much as possible. That being said, we cannot wait to meet her, and for all our family and friends to meet her, so sooooooon. xoxox!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Pregnancy and Birth Traditions Around the Globe

Last night it was so good to see Chenoh and Jason made us a super yummy chili dinner. I washed some baby carrots and grapes to snack on too, and showed our baby's god mama Joceyln's room, and my big belly. Chenoh brought over a perfect, tiny addition to add to my labor necklace, only this lil piece is for the baby to wear. Its a small white shell, that she told me to tie around her wrist after being born for good fortune and luck, which is a native american tradition she liked and wanted to share with us. So Jocelyn's lil shell has a beautiful piece of peacock blue thread that Chenoh tied through it, ready to tie around her new lil arm. It will most likely not stay on her too long, but I like that blessing from her goddess mama, so we will honor it for her, and welcome her new life with that blessing.

In thinking of this tradition I hadn't heard of, I was curious to learn more about other cultures traditions, blessing and rituals. Here are some cool traditions from around the world for pregnancy, birth and baby bonding time. I really find all of these super interesting, and it reminds me that we are all a part of this process and beautiful cycle, of birth, life, death, growth, renewal, and evolution - regardless of where in the world we live, are from, social status, and beliefs etc. And it all stems from the mama!

Taken from this site, Some really interesting ones:

Mommy-to-be taboos

Internationally, moms are bound by one unified desire: to have a safe, easy pregnancy. However, the list of precautions one follows varies significantly across borders.
Bali: You won’t catch any Balinese mommies- to-be eating octopus—doing so allegedly brings about difficult deliveries.
Bolivia: No hand-knit booties for Bolivian babies! Knitting while pregnant is believed to cause the umbilical cord to wrap around the baby’s neck.
China: For the duration of their pregnancies, Chinese women make a conscious effort to steer clear of evil spirits, funerals and sex.
Guatemala: Women in this country, particularly those of Mayan descent, may remain at home throughout their entire nine months because they fear any influential exposure to illness, evil spirits or even the ill will of others.
Inuit: Inflating balloons or blowing bubbles with gum is avoided during pregnancy to prevent premature rupturing of the membranes.
Mexico: Mexican women are urged to only bathe in warm water—water that is too hot is thought to lead to circulatory problems, and water that’s too cold could make the pelvis rigid and lead to a long, hard birth.

Dedication to incubation

Giving up sushi-and-sake date night may be a little tough for some American mamas, but rest assured that pregnant peers around the globe face gestational adjustments of their own.
In China, the personality and disposition of an unborn child is thought to be strongly influenced by the state of his mother’s mind and body while expecting. For this reason, Chinese women are strongly urged to control their thoughts and actions —meaning no gossiping, no temper tantrums and no hard physical labor while baby is incubating.
For a woman in Ethiopia, pregnancy is viewed as extremely natural. So much so, in fact, that she experiences little to no changes in her day-to-day life during the majority of her pregnancy.
Pregnant women in Polynesia are nurtured and pampered by the entire community throughout the duration of their joyous gestational period. In addition to their every whim being tended to, a midwife visits regularly to administer much-deserved massages.

The presence of presents

Baby showers are all the rage in the U.S., and for the most part, just about any gift goes. (Breast pads? Diaper rash cream? Bring ’em on!) However, other cultures have different ideas about what to give a new family and when to present it.
China: Gift-giving before birth is considered very unlucky in Chinese culture—not to mention you could be stepping on grandma’s toes! The mother-to-be’s own mother is typically responsible for the new baby’s entire layette. A month before birth, the maternal grandmother sends a gift of clothing for the newborn to hasten delivery, then three days after the baby arrives, she visits with the remainder of her grandchild’s wardrobe and gear.
Egypt: Seven days after baby arrives, Egyptian parents throw a sebou to celebrate the birth. During this event, the new baby receives his or her name, and religious gifts and jewelry are brought for the baby and new mom.
Greece: For Greek families, the birth of a child brings great joy to the entire community. Several days after birth, a newborn may receive customary gifts from her family and friends, including silver and gold coins or special stones to help ward off the “evil eye.”
Japan: Although very close family members may get to welcome a new baby at the oshichia—a naming ceremony that takes place seven days after birth—most family and friends have to wait a couple months to share their congratulations. Friends and family don’t meet the new addition or bestow gifts of money on the new parents until mom and baby have had ample time to bond and heal.
Tibet: Three to four days after birth, family members from near and far gather to celebrate the pang-sai, or cleansing of the baby, for his or her journey into life. Gifts of food and clothing are presented to signify wishes for an abundant life; the child is then given a name by the most respected person in attendance.

Pain management

Because epidurals haven’t always been—and still aren’t always—an option, foreign cultures have developed some seriously stunning ways for mamas to keep their calm during labor.
China: Since the ancient Chinese view childbearing as an age-old women’s vocation, custom dictates that fear and apprehension be abolished from the process. To help with this, women often drink a strong herbal potion to ease the pains of labor.
Guatemala: Guatemalan women believe speedy delivery can be induced by drinking a liquid created by boiling a purple onion in beer.
Korea: Stoic by tradition, Korean women often refuse pain management in favor of quietly making their way through labor and delivery.
Morocco: During birth, the gabla, or midwife, massages the pregnant woman’s stomach and vulva with olive oil to make the baby’s passage easier. She also prepares a variety of herbal infusions from mint, thyme, cloves and cinnamon to ease the pain of contractions.
Native America: Early American-Indians used a mixture of blue cohosh root and water to speed up delivery.
Niger: Muslim tradition allows only a woman’s husband to touch her genitals, so midwives in this African nation facilitate labor by offering the mom-to-be herbal drinks and sprinkling herbs over her abdomen.
Sri Lanka: This country is heavily influenced by Buddhism, which supports the idea that suffering during birth is linked to sins committed during previous lives; thus, it’s a source of pride for a woman to go through childbirth without expressing her pain.
Taiwan: It’s respectful to not cry out when bringing a baby into the world, so as not to disturb the other inhabitants of the village.
Togo: Keeping quiet during birth ensures you won’t attract the attention of any evil spirits.
Vietnam: For Vietnamese women, silence is golden. In fact, their emotions can be so bottled up that it’s not uncommon for the walls of the perineum to tear from stress during birth.

Rite of passage rituals

In many cultures, bringing a baby into the world is a sacred event—one that, when filled with certain actions and rituals, can help protect a new baby’s life. Unlike here in the U.S., where we generally dispose of the umbilical cord and placenta, many cultures believe these “leftovers” can influence a baby’s future.
Cambodia: After birth, the mother’s placenta is carefully wrapped in a banana tree leaf, placed beside the newborn for three days, then buried.
India: To symbolize the “openness” of the womb during birth, pregnant Indian women leave their hair down, remove any jewelry and leave all doors in the house open. After birth, the umbilical cord is gently placed around the child’s neck.
Japan: The umbilical cord is cleaned and placed in a kotobuki bako—a keepsake box that is made to protect the precious memento and ensure a positive mother-child relationship down the road.
Mali: The placenta is considered a very powerful force that can affect a new baby’s mood or make him ill. To avoid any negative repercussions, the placenta is washed, dried and placed in a basket to be buried by the father.
Mexico: During birth, all of the doors and windows are closed to protect mother and baby from evil forces that could make their way in during such an intimate, exposed process.
Morocco: Much like Indian women, Moroccan mamas steer clear of any restricting forces by leaving their heads uncovered, their hair down and their belts unfastened to provide a smooth, open passage for their wee ones.

What’s in a name?

Naming a baby isn’t always about thumbing through a book and picking the most pleasant-sounding moniker. For some, the process is highly complex and filled with social and religious rules and taboos.
Africa: Different areas of Africa use different techniques, but all tribes take great pride in naming their newest additions. The Zulu choose names that are relevant at the time of a child’s birth, so the name may reflect the social circumstances and time frame in which the baby was born. The Yoruba in Nigeria choose names that, in the future, will lend information about a child’s background.
China: Chinese babies receive their official names after birth—and many times, they’ll be given up to four more throughout their lives: one for childhood, one for school, one for adulthood and another upon death.
Greece: Greek names are often chosen to honor earlier generations. Customarily, a child’s first name is after his or her grandparents, while the middle name is borrowed directly from the parents.
Hawaii: Hawaiian names are unique for each new child, and have very deep family meanings that are thought to be extraordinarily powerful. Most of these symbolic names are unisex, as well as somewhat complex so as to avoid attracting evil forces.
Native America: The Inyana tribe so respects their elders that the maternal grandmother chooses a newborn’s first name and the paternal grandmother offers the middle.
Philippines: Children are rarely named at birth for fear that an elder or ancestor will take them into the next life. Children are given generic or unattractive nicknames until they are healthy and can be given proper names. They may receive up to 10 names during a lifetime.
Saudi Arabia: In accordance with Muslim tradition, Saudi babies are given their names seven days after birth in an aqiqah ceremony. Relatives and friends gather and watch as the infant’s head is shaved and his hair placed on a scale with silver or gold that is then given to the poor.
Switzerland: In this country, it’s considered unlucky to share your child’s chosen name before he or she arrives.

Postnatal practices

From postbirth healing and baby bonding to maternity (and paternity!) leave, the world works on different timelines.
Bali: The first few months after birth are dedicated to healing—and holding. Babies in Bali don’t touch the floor for the first 105 days after birth, but instead are held continuously by their mothers and other close family members.
Bulgaria: Bulgarian mamas are, by far, the most pampered ladies on the leave scale; not only do employed moms-to-be receive 45 days of fully paid leave before their babies arrive, they receive two full years of paid leave once they’ve given birth. Oh, and they also have the option of tacking on an additional year of unpaid leave before they return to their jobs—which will patiently await their return for 3+ years!
Canada: In addition to 15 weeks of maternity leave for a new mom, there are another 35 weeks of paid leave to be divided between mom and dad so that both have plenty of time for bonding with baby.
China: During a ritual referred to as “sitting the month,” new moms take an entire month off from their duties to simply stay in bed, heal and connect with their newborns.
Cuba: Cuban mommies get six months of maternity leave to take care of themselves and their wee ones before returning to their daily duties.
Guatemala: As a part of la cuarantena, family members and close friends take over household duties while a new mama goes through 40 days of healing and mother-infant bonding.
United Kingdom: On the other side of the pond, British mums receive 39 weeks of maternity leave paid in full, and an additional 12 weeks with partial pay.


Here's some more after birth traditions for mama and baby from this site:
Puerto Rico  
Growing up in a Puerto Rican family, I always saw newborn babies wearing a bracelet with a black charm in the shape of a fist. I later learned it is called mano de azabache and is meant to ward off evil and bring good luck to the baby. Many people provide new parents with this bracelet for their baby.
Trinidad and Tobago
I asked around to learn about some of the baby traditions in Trinidad, where my husband and his family are from.@SammyTAlexander mentioned that when people visit newborn babies, they usually put money into the baby’s hand. I immediately remembered that my mother-in-law had actually done this when she first met our baby boy! Apparently, it is meant to bring prosperity and good blessings to the newborn. Another custom I  learned about from @bytesdog is that some parents do not allow people to come in their house after 6 pm, since the evening dew will make baby sick.
Silvia Martinez of Mamá Latina Tips shared that in many families in Mexico, the women of the family – grandmothers, aunts, sisters – nurture and take care of the new mom for 40 days after the birth of a baby. These women help with the cleaning, cooking and older kids. The new mom’s only job is taking care of the new baby.
The Bahamas
“An old time tradition here in The Bahamas is burying the navel string of the newborn in the yard,” said Michelle G. Roper of Sapphire Ridge Chronicles. “It is believed that you will always find your way back home no matter how far you may travel. Another tradition is to tie a black ribbon on the wrist of the newborn for several weeks to ward off evil spirits.”
“In Brazil, a typical tradition is that the expectant mother prepares a basket with souvenirs that are given to each person that comes to the hospital to visit when the baby is born. These souvenirs usually match the chosen theme that has been picked for the baby’s nursery. Some of the most often used souvenirs are refrigerator magnets, customized notepads, sachets and even tiny bottles of perfume. Most of the time there’s a tiny message saying the baby’s name is thanking them for visiting. They are much like favors that are prepared for baby showers, only they are given to those who visit at the hospital,” shared Eren Mckay of Embracing Home.
Muslim Families
Faiqa Khan of Native Born provided some insight into customs of Muslim families: “Soon after their birth, the heads of newborns born into Muslim families are shaved within their first month. The hair that has been removed is then weighed and the equivalent of the weight in silver is given to charity. For families, this tradition is extremely important as it signifies the inclusion of the child into the community as well as a reminder to always keep those in need in mind. Because Muslims live in all parts of the world, this is a custom practiced everywhere from Pakistan to France and in the U.S., as well.”