Brooks Thomas: A Birth Story

To read Emory Catherine’s birth story, click here. To read about my postpartum experience with her, click here.

Brooks Thomas Redinger // Born Saturday June 15th, 2019 12:04pm // 7lb 12 oz // 19.5″

Our sweet Brooks has been here for over a week. I just adore birth stories, and treasure writing out my own to look back on when all of the beautiful, hard, painful, wild details have gotten a bit fuzzy. Here’s Brooks’ birth story!

Prodromal Labor & Early Labor

Almost a week before Brooks actually made his arrival, I experienced the hell that is prodromal labor. Seriously, this could be used as a torture device. Since I have an “irritable uterus,” I’d been having strong Braxton Hicks contractions for over a week–but they were never timeable or regular, just very uncomfortable.

On Sunday evening, Matt, Emmy and I were sitting eating dinner and I had a very strong contraction that actually made me laugh because of the intensity. And then came another. And another. Four minutes apart, lasting 45 seconds – 1 minute long. And this went on for over an hour. We decided to text our midwives and have my parents go ahead and head this way (a 2.5 hour drive) so that they could be here with Emmy when we decided to head to the birth center.

But about an hour later, they abruptly stopped. I tried bouncing on the ball, walking, telling baby it was okay to come–but nothing. Done. Enter the emotional rollercoaster of prodromal labor.

The next Friday I was woken up at 5am with similar contractions. Every five minutes, lasting a minute, for over 2.5 hours. These were even MORE uncomfortable. It was so hard to make the decision to ask my parents to come again, since my mind knew these could fizzle out. But I was nervous about who would take care of Emmy (I think ultimately this anxiety is what contributed to my labor taking a few days to really kick start), so we asked them to come. Sure enough, an hour or so later, they fizzled out. I went on a long walk, and they kind of picked back up to the point where I needed to breathe through them. And on we went through the day with very uncomfortable, borderline painful contractions that were simply inconsistent.

After chatting with our midwife, we decided to come in later that morning for a membrane sweep. It’s here that I’ll start the swooning over our birth team, since I want them to know just how amazing and supportive they are. I was at 2cm and about 50% effaced, and the sweep went fine. Cindy encouraged us (since my parents were in town) to go on a date, so that we did. We headed out for a lunch date, bought Emmy some new shoes at Nike, and I got an ice cream cone from Kilwins.

On and on these annoying contractions went until they fizzled around 10pm that night.

Labor & Delivery

As frustrated as I was that these contractions weren’t the “real” thing, I was able to get some rest until at about 12:30am I was woken with a VERY strong contraction. Definitely had to close my eyes and breathe through it. And then, about seven minutes later, another one. Strong. Intense. But definitely not getting my hopes up. And then they came. Seven minutes apart, 1:10 long, for about two hours. I got in the shower to see if that would help, and that’s when Matt woke up and came to check on me. He suggested I text our midwives just in case, and Cindy asked if I wanted to head to the birth center. I replied, “Probably home for just a bit more, but if they keep up like this it won’t be long.” And not as soon as I could hit send, WHAM came a brutal contraction that I had to moan through. I immediately texted Cindy back, “Never mind think it’s time to go.”

We arrived at the birth center around 3am and I was checked and only at 4cm, 50-60% effaced and at a -2/-3 station. I should’ve probably been encouraged since I’d clearly made progress from 2cm earlier in the day, but these contractions were so painful that I thought surely I’d be at least a six. I hopped on the birth ball with my head resting on the bed and worked through contraction after contraction as we waited to see what my body was doing. My vitals and baby’s were checked and we were both doing great. I decided to get in the shower, which was surprising since during Emmy’s labor getting in the shower was actually my breaking point where I decided to transfer to the hospital, but thankfully this time the shower was heaven.

At this point I was VERY tired. I’d had about two hours of sleep in 24 hours, and these contractions were killer. Unfortunately, even with their intensity, they were still oddly far apart and not lasting as long as we wanted them to. I kept falling asleep in between each contraction only to be woken up moaning through the next one. (I’m SUPER primally vocal during labor.)

At some point I asked if I could get in the tub, and Cindy recommended I be checked so that I wouldn’t get in the tub too early and stall labor. When she checked me I was at 6cm, which again was disappointing since I felt that I should be at a 7/8 based on the intensity alone. But, Cindy, being as amazing as she is, celebrated the 6cm and said it was the perfect point to get in the tub.

The tub was amazing. Felt so good. But it also made me insanely sleepy, and I dozed in and out which made my contractions become even further apart–the opposite of what we wanted. So Cindy suggested I get out of the tub and walk around to try and really get things going.

The birth center was quiet (we were the only ones there) and dawn was breaking–along with my mental strength. The contractions were SO PAINFUL and I was losing it. I started sobbing, saying I couldn’t do it anymore, saying how tired I was, saying how much I missed Emmy, and just crying in general. (A good doula would probably note here that this is generally a great sign! When mom starts to say she can’t do it anymore it means the end is often nearing!) I sat in the rocking chair in one of the rooms, watching the sun rise, and cried through a few more contractions. Matt gave me an incredible pep talk, and told me that physically my strength was NOT failing, but that mentally it was and I needed to keep my head in the game. I knew he was right–my body was strong and still had the reserves to see this through, but I had to mentally fight just as hard. We had a verse that we kept praying over me throughout labor, “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid, for God goes with you.” (Deut 31:6 & Joshua 1:9) and we both would repeat it out loud.

We went back to the birthing suite and I got back on the ball. At some point the intensity ramped up even more, and I tried the nitrous oxide (laughing gas). It was helpful for about 50% of the contractions, but it’s no epidural. It’s kind of like having a strong cocktail. It’d take the edge off the mild contractions, but do nothing for the intense ones.

At some point I got back into the tub, and started vomiting (thankfully Matt had grabbed a sickness bag). Classic transition signs! I hate that I vomit during labor (who wants to throw up on top of a contraction?!) but I try and accept that it’s just my body doing the work it needs to birth a baby.

Around 10:30pm I was checked again and I was at 8-9cm with a bulging bag of waters. Cindy said that she was confident that once my water broke, I’d progress to a 10 almost immediately and be ready to push. She said she’d like that to happen naturally, but that she could break my water for me if that’s what I wanted. I decided to wait and see if these super intense contractions would do the trick, but they wouldn’t. I asked Matt if he thought I should have her break my water, and he recommended I wait for 10 more contractions. TEN!!!! I didn’t even want to have ten more contractions PERIOD, let alone wait through them to make a decision! But I did. I kept breathing and moaning and yelling and after 10 or so contractions I asked Cindy to break my water. (Note: I think it’s around this point that the other midwives arrived, but I can’t be sure! All of sudden they were just all there!)

I knew that having my water broken would make the contractions even more intense and painful, but I needed progress to be made. So Cindy broke my water and immediately I felt his head move down into the birth canal. And, as predicted, immediately the contractions became almost unbearable. I tried nitrous again but it wasn’t even touching them. Cindy asked if I could sit on the toilet since it’s a great position to push in, but as soon as I sat down I threw up everywhere! (Side note that midwives/nurses are the absolute best since they get puked on and pooped on and literally all of the bodily fluids and are still so kind and like “omg no big deal!” when really you’re mortified.) I immediately wanted off the toilet and decided to get back in the tub.

The water felt good but the pressure in my back was excruciating. Two of the midwives were reaching underwater to try and provide counter pressure through the contractions, but it wasn’t enough. I literally wanted someone to take a sledgehammer to my back. They suggested I move to a hands and knees position, leaning over the tub wall. Honestly the thought of even moving made me want to scream, but somehow they got me in that position and were able to provide enough pressure to take the worst part off.

This is when it gets to be the worst pain of my entire life. (So sorry if you’re reading this preparing for a natural labor! You can do it! Promise!) I was screaming like a banshee through each contraction, gripping the side of the tub and pushing as if my life depended on it. Matt and the midwives kept encouraging me to control my pushing and blow my breath out, but I was on a kamikaze mission to push this pain out. The “ring of fire” is a very real thing, and doesn’t just last through one contraction.

I was told to get into a lunge position (LOLLLLLL) and in my head I think I cursed them out, but thankfully just said “no” out loud. But they were adamant, and so they picked my leg up to get me into position. Lots of screaming. Matt was at my head trying to get me to control my breathing. At one point Cindy said that once he was delivered, she’d pass him up through my legs for me to catch him. This was wildly encouraging because it meant the end was near.

With a few more screams his head was delivered. I reached down and felt it, and waited for the next contraction to come so I could push his body out. And then he was there. Up between my legs, and I grabbed him and brought him to my chest. The instant relief was mind blowing. I’d done it. He was here.

12 hours of “real” labor, 20 minutes of pushing. Welcome, sweet Brooks.

The midwives quickly moved because his cord was wrapped around his neck twice–which explains why labor took quite some time and contractions had a hard time getting closer together and longer: he couldn’t really drop down properly because the cord had been shortened by the wrapping. Thankfully he’s a strong little dude, and was never in distress at any point.

He opened his eyes immediately, and just looked around. It’s common for babies born in the water to not cry, and cry he did not. He just looked around and took in the world. Such an amazing moment to just sit and watch his first moments of life on the outside.

After he was born, Matt cut the cord and I handed Brooks to him so I could deliver the placenta (which took a few more very painful contractions–much different than my experience with Emmy), and then we moved back to the bed to snuggle up for the first hour. We ordered McAllisters for lunch, had his newborn exam done in the bed with us, and initiated breastfeeding. I took a shower. And magically, within four hours of him being born, we were headed home to rest and bond in our own space. (I get teary-eyed thinking about saying goodbye to Cindy as we loaded up the car, since she’s just the best and I absolutely couldn’t have done this without her.)

One of our sweet midwives Abby performing Brooks’ newborn exam

Brooks Thomas, you’re a chill little dude, and have been since the moment you arrived. We love you so stinking much, and remember to always be strong and courageous, and do not be afraid, for the Lord your God goes with you. (And mommy and daddy, too.)

Thoughts on Adding Baby #2

I had to check the last time I posted a blog. It was five months ago, which is actually sooner than I thought, but I also hadn’t posted for four months before that. Basically, motherhood = quicksand for blogging. 

I’m 34 weeks pregnant today with baby boy. His sweet sister is 20 months, and I’m having all the feelings about adding another child (let alone a boy!) into our family. I’m documenting this for my own “dear diary” sake, but I’m taking you along for the ride.

Physically
Physically, this pregnancy has been much harder than Emmy’s, even though I’ve been about 100% more active. With Emmy’s pregnancy, I spent almost all of the time on the couch. Not because I felt terrible (although there were those days), but because I was just lazy. Now I’ve got a toddler to chase after, and I try and get to the gym twice a week. Pilates has also helped a lot, but I’m still dealing with SI joint pain and restless leg syndrome–which should be used as a form of torture if it isn’t already.

Emotionally
Woooooooooah doozy. I’ve got a lot of feels. Mainly because I, like most parents of one child, am having a *really* hard time thinking that I can love another child as much as I love Emmy. I know, I know–I will be able to and it’ll be amazing how much my heart can expand (as much as my hips? hopefully). But that’s no consolation for what I’m feeling now as I walk through the “big feelings” stage with Emmy. She has no clue what’s going to hit her. She’ll be 22 months when he arrives. Bless it.

Thankfully, I know that I was obsessed with my little sister when she arrived, so I’m hoping Emmy takes to the role as I did. I also know that grace upon grace upon grace for our little girl will be super important. She’s not even two, for crying out loud.

I also am having a hard time wrapping my head around caring for two kids. Honestly it seems impossible, but thankfully there are those of you who do this for a living and are still alive, so that gives me hope. I just can’t wrap my head around getting two kids in and out of the car, run errands, whatever. Like, I’m already sweating thinking about that. Two kids + fluctuating hormones + a Florida summer = WOW that lady needs a towel or a shower or both.

BOY?!
Not going to lie, my first thoughts when we found out it was a boy (even though my mama gut had told me it was a boy from very early on), was, “What do we do with a boy?!” I only have sisters, Matt only has a sister, and I’ve really only babysat girls. I’m actually still wrapping my head around what it’ll look like to add a boy to our family. My one comfort in this nervousness is that we KNOW that God is the one who knits families together, and he’d only send us the one right child for us. And THAT makes me excited.

What’s his name????
Because I sometimes think we’re part of the royal family (Emory *Catherine* is a nod to Princess Kate), we keep our babies’ names tight lipped until their arrival, just like the royals do. There are only three people who know his name: me, Matt, and Emmy. And Emmy can’t really say it, so our secret is safe ;) We’ve had complete strangers ask if we have a name picked, and we don’t even tell them.

Will you have more? Is this the last one since you’ll have a boy and a girl? 
I don’t love that everyone asks this, but I know I wonder it about my friends, too. Honestly, we don’t know! I can see us both being “done” and adding one more–but I think only time and experience and listening to God’s will for our family will tell. Postpartum was REALLY hard with Emmy, and if it’s the same this go-round then I’ll obviously be less inclined to have a go at “third time’s the charm.”

Will you breastfeed? 
Also, another interesting “not your business” question, but I seem to be into answering those, SO: yes. I will breastfeed. I will maybe breastfeed for one day. I will maybe breastfeed for one year. I will maybe breastfeed until it makes you uncomfortable. Breastfeeding was insanely difficult and painful with Emmy (did you see a lactation consultant? did you try essential oils? was she checked for a lip/tongue tie? it was probably your latch. #momgroups) and while we tried a lot of things, ultimately it was not the right decision for us to continue (mainly thanks to PPA and DMER, google it) and we stopped after about 8 weeks. I’d really love to go longer with baby boy, but obviously my mental health has got to come first, so formula is never off the table.

Will you try for a home birth again? 
No, we are delivering at a birth center this time. Honestly, laboring at home (for EIGHTEEN HOURS) was so so so hard. I thought that it would be all comfy cozy and help being in “my” space, but I think it actually made it worse. I felt trapped once nighttime came, and had a hard time getting in the right head space. I think a birth center will be the best of both worlds for us. They’ve also got nitrous oxide (laughing gas) if I need it to take the edge off (they compare it to having a cocktail, and it wears off immediately once I take the mask off if I don’t like how it makes me feel). Another huge perk of a birth center is that they’ve got anti-nausea meds on hand–which will be amazing if my body decides to vomit like the exorcist with this birth like I did with Emmy’s. #transition

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Obviously, despite all of the trepidation I’m feeling, we are beyond excited to meet our sweet little guy. I can’t wait to see what he looks like, if he has hair, what his personality is like, etc. I can’t wait to hold him against my chest once he’s born, and to make him feel safe and loved like we did with his sister. And I can’t wait for her to meet him, and hopefully she’ll realize he’s here to stay.

And no, his name is not Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor.

xo, A

 

Emory Catherine // A Birth Story

Sharing the birth story of our sweet baby girl, Emory Catherine. Named after her great grandfather, born on Sunday 8.20.17, 7lb. 11oz, 19″ long and so, so loved.

Saturday, August 19th

I woke up at 8:00am after what seemed like the first full night’s sleep in awhile, and felt like my water *might* have broken. When I got up and told Matt, it was pretty clear it had! We called our midwife and she came over to confirm, and told us to just chill out and wait for contractions to begin. Matt went to take a shower and I decided to clean the house (of course).

At 11am contractions started. They were regular from the beginning, at around 4 minutes long and 1 minute apart. We labored at home for basically the whole day. Contractions were intense, but totally manageable. I even decided to bake some homemade blueberry muffins in the afternoon! After a few hours they hadn’t gotten any closer or more intense or longer, so we hooked up the breast pump to get them going. That helped a little, getting them to around every 3.5 minutes and lasting around 1:10 minutes.

At 9pm, our midwife came back over and checked me. I was at 5cm, and still rocking through contractions that seemed pretty do-able. She decided to stay and she and Matt got everything ready for birth at home. My best friend Kara arrived around this time to be our photographer (which is where all of these beautiful photos come from).

Contractions were definitely painful at this point, but I was getting a good break in between and felt like I was still staying on top of them. Around 11pm I moved into the birth tub, we dimmed the lights and put on some music and waited for things to really get started.

 

Sunday, August 20th

Around midnight (AKA now the 20th) I was checked again, and was in transition at 8cm. It was like a light switched—all of a sudden contractions were 2 minutes apart, insanely painful, and I wasn’t getting a break in between. Essentially there was no moment from that point on that wasn’t without pain, it was just a matter of how much.

We tried moving to the bed, and then back to the tub, but it was all terrible. I started getting the shakes, and somewhere around 1am started vomiting. I knew that I was expending energy I didn’t have, but there was definitely no stopping it.

At 3am I hit my breaking point. I asked to be checked again, and was still at 8cm. I’d been in transition for three hours at that point, and was totally shocked to hear I hadn’t progressed. I was still throwing up and shaking violently. All of a sudden I instinctually knew it was time to go to the hospital. My midwives and Matt tried to stall me, since I’m sure that everyone thought I had to be so close to delivering her. They suggested I try 5 minutes in a hot shower, and see how I felt after that. So I got in the shower with Matt and it was like knives—I was screaming, and at some point looked at Matt and said CALL 911 RIGHT. NOW. (For the record, I only wanted paramedics to come because I thought they carried narcotics on the ambulance and it’d be the fastest route to relief—but they don’t so it didn’t matter.)

At 3:30am I finally made it clear that we were going to the hospital. I’d been in labor for 17 hours at that point, with 3.5 hours in transition. There was a very real chance that we’d get to the hospital and there wouldn’t be anything they could do to relieve the pain, since I was so far progressed. And my midwives were concerned with me delivering in the car (my thoughts? great! get this freaking baby out! I don’t care where!). But I knew we had to go. So we packed up and headed there, with everyone (including myself) thinking that surely I’d deliver her in the car. (Side note: Matt and Kara were frantically grabbing a diaper and a onesie to bring with us, and Kara laughs now thinking how I stopped to tell them exactly where the packed emergency hospital bag and diaper bag were. #typeA)

We made it to Shands Hospital and got to L&D around 4am. Our midwives had called ahead and I think everyone at the nurses’s station thought for sure I’d be delivering any minute. I was admitted into a room ASAP and was told they’d paged the anesthesiologist for an epidural. When there was talk about having to do a CBC blood test first to test my platelet levels, and then wait for the results, I asked what narcotics they had—but none were available since I was so progressed and Emory wouldn’t have enough time to get them out of her system.

Our nurse Olivia was a saint. She was exactly what I needed. She kept talking to me, and kept me focused. The anesthesiologist arrived and thankfully decided that I could have an epidural. I was checked first to make sure she wasn’t crowning (again, everyone thought I’d be delivering any second) but I was STILL AT 8CM. I think it was then that I had this overwhelming feeling that I had made the absolute right decision to transfer to the hospital.

Everyone left except Matt, our nurse Olivia, and the anesthesiologist. It took her about 30 minutes to place the epidural, which was basically torture since you have to hold completely still while they’re doing it (it’s incredible how still you can hold in the midst of excruciating pain, but I think the fear of paralysis was the driving factor). I was still contracting every 2-3 minutes at this point. Once it was in, I had a hot spot on my right side, so we had to up the dose. Thankfully, the epidural was on a pump system, so I could determine how much or how little I wanted—this was important because I wanted as little of a dose as I could manage. We had to increase the dose to get my right side covered, and around 5am, after 18 hours of labor, including five hours of transition, I finally got relief.

That’s a look of delirium.

Matt got a quick nap and I settled into a state of alert delirium. I had the epidural in for about an hour or so and was checked again. 10cm! Finally. At around 7:30am they decided they wanted me to start pushing, which is weird when you have no urge to push. We just had a shift change, and our new nurse Katie was literally an angel. She had attempted a home birth herself and had to transfer, and then had a successful home birth after that. I think she was also a midwife. God totally sent her to us because she knew what we were wanting out of this experience.

I started pushing with Matt holding one leg and our midwife holding the other, and Katie was sitting coaching me through it. There weren’t any doctors yet, so it was pretty calm. My pushes were strong and effective, and I thought we were pretty close at that point (um, wrong. not quite). We tried a few different positions, like on my side and on hands and knees (which I was shocked I could even move into since I had an epidural in place, but again, I was keeping it at the lowest dose I could). I was most effective lying on my back, which, ironically, goes against most things I know about birth physiology.

For some unknown reason, I had this belief that I’d push for like 30 minutes and she’d be here. But she got stuck behind my pubic bone, and it took a while for her to navigate her way past that. I was so discouraged to hear after an hour of pushing she was still stuck! But, you push like you eat an elephant: one push at a time.

After 2.5 hours of pushing, the OB team came in and prepped for delivery. Since we were at a teaching hospital, this meant everyone and their mom. At this point my epidural had pretty much worn off, so I was feeling it all again. I’d push and then cry, push and then cry. I remember looking at different people in between pushes and asking them to “please help me!” I couldn’t understand why the heck she wasn’t out yet. But then at 9:43am, after 23 hours of labor, sweet baby Emory arrived with a head full of hair and a good cry! The doctors told me to reach down and grab my baby, and it was totally surreal. I think that moment is burned in my memory forever.

Some additional thoughts on the experience: 

I have absolutely zero regrets about transferring to the hospital. Do I wish we got the home birth we wanted and prepared for? Of course. But we had to do what was right, and that was getting mom some pain relief to finish the race.

Will we try again in the future for a home birth? (That’s IF we have more kids, which right now sounds down right nauseating!) Maybe. The pain I experienced was borderline traumatic, mainly since it lasted so long, so that’ll always be in the back of my mind. But I’m also not against trying again and seeing what happens. Ask me again in a few years :)

And a final note: My husband is an absolute rock. I cry thinking about it. I can’t imagine what he went through seeing me in excruciating pain and not being able to help. And I’ll never forget looking over as soon as she was delivered and seeing him weeping. He was my champion during labor and delivery, and there are seriously no words for how amazing he’s been postpartum (which is a whole different story). Sometimes I don’t think we’d survive without him! People talk about how much more you’ll love your husband when you have a baby, but nothing can prepare you for it. I think my heart might burst if I keep talking about it.

xo,
A

The Second Trimester

Read about my first trimester here and why we’re choosing a home birth here!

Most people talk about how quickly pregnancy flies by. “Oh, I can’t believe we’re heading into the third trimester!” But for me, the most impatient person in the world, this is crawling by. I know I should be savoring this, but I am so ready to meet our little girl!

Feeling // Thankfully, the second trimester has been physically uneventful. My morning sickness bit the dust around 13 weeks. I did start getting migraines every few days, but seeing a chiropractor knocked those out in a few weeks. I did have more energy (although not the “surge” of energy they talk about!), and have loved seeing my belly grow! However, I also started having some killer SI joint pain (low back) around 16 weeks, and it’s still going strong. Sometimes it’s immobilizing, and makes it hard to be as active as I would have wished. And pubic bone pain has made a terrible bedfellow (who knew pubic bone pain was a thing?!).

I finally felt sweet babe kicking right at 20 weeks. It feels like a heart palpitation in your belly, or like big, underwater bubbles. Now that she’s bigger and stronger, they’re definitely more defined punches and kicks! Matt was able to feel her around 24 weeks, and he loves it—although sometimes I think Little Bird thinks she’s playing hide and seek with her daddy and will immediately stop kicking once his hand is on my belly!

Emotionally, the second trimester was pretty rough. For reasons that I probably won’t be sharing, we had a time where we thought we weren’t going to be able to deliver at home, and would be forced into seeing an OB and delivering at a hospital. To most that’s nbd, but to us it was devastating news. We still have some road bumps to cover before we’ll know 100% that we’re able to deliver at home, but we’re at about 90% now, which is reassuring. Obviously we’re being prayerful about this, and I’d love prayers for a continued ability to give this whole thing up to the Lord. We could still have a home birth, but something happen where we have to transfer to a hospital during labor, and I need to be emotionally prepared for that. Letting go of the control part of birth has been really, really hard for me, but I’m thankful that we worship a God who I love and trust and who will use all things for His glory.

Appointments // Weekly chiropractor appointments (with a Webster technique certified chiro), biweekly acupuncture appointments, and appointments with our midwives every four weeks. We did the gestational diabetes test (passed!), and the 28-week labs and everything came back great. I will have an injection of Rhogam at 28 weeks since my blood type is O-, meaning I am Rh-negative (Google it).

Bodywork // In addition to the Webster technique and regular adjustments by my chiropractor, I’m trying to do the following things as often as possible (goal: daily; actual: weekly) to help my pelvis stay balanced and my ligaments and cervix stay open and not twisted with the goal of helping baby girl get head down and in the anterior position:
+ Walking
+ Psoas Release (Activity #5 on Spinning Babies)
+ Pelvic tilts (AKA cat/cow with the focus on the cat)
+ Child’s pose
+ Deep squats (heels on the floor)
+ Sitting less on the couch and more sitting on the ball or in a “tailor sit” on the ground

Craving // Chocolate! Sugar! Fruit! And Starbucks’ Matcha Green Tea Lattes.

Hating // Slowly getting back into (decaf) coffee. Still don’t love eggs.

Other thoughts on the second trimester // This might be unpopular, but it’s something that has been on my mind. When we have shared our home birth hiccup, and that we’re worried about being forced to deliver at a hospital, soooooo many people have said “well the only thing that matters is a healthy baby!” And man, that’s just not the right thing to say (even though I know they mean well).

Sure, a healthy baby is of utmost importance. That’s a duh, you know? No one gets pregnant and is like, “I don’t really care if the baby is healthy!” So it’s a given. But that’s not the only thing that is important, and it’s this kind of language that tends to invalidate suffering and complicate mourning. I, as a mother and a woman and a human being, have every right to have desires and wishes and needs that surround my birth experience. I have certain things that may even be traumatizing to me if they do/don’t happen. So when those wants/needs aren’t met, it can lead to suffering on my part, which then requires mourning if I want to be able to move on in a healthy way. But when everyone tells you that the only thing that matters is a healthy baby, you start to think that there’s something wrong with you, and that you should just “get over” the loss of these hopes and dreams that you had taken away from you.

Obviously I don’t think you should risk the health of your baby for these wants/needs. That’s part of the sacrifice a mother makes. But that’s not the situation I’m talking about here. I really just wish people could learn to sit with another’s pain and say, “Man, that really just sucks. I’m hurting for you and I wish I could change it.” Having those types of conversation helps a person to grieve appropriately and validates their pain. So let’s learn how to sit with that and want a healthy baby.

The First Trimester

Matt and I were celebrating our one year anniversary when I woke up feeling…off. I had had a low backache a few days before, and that morning I woke up with a wave of nausea–the kind where you feel it in the back of your neck and feel like you might pass out. It passed as quickly as it came, but when Matt left for work I decided to take a pregnancy test.

We had been trying to get pregnant for months. And months. And months. I was so used to a negative pregnancy test, I just thought I was going through the motions (again). It was also the day before my missed period, so I knew I might be testing too soon. And, to top it off, I’d been charting my temps and thought they weren’t high enough. I had already given up on this cycle.

My friend Katie had recommended these ovulation predictor strips that came with pregnancy tests. These are waaaaay cheaper than the kind you normally buy at the drug store, so they were great for my monthly habit of peeing on a stick.

I waited the two minutes and came back in to check. SUPER. FAINT. LINE.

Cue test #2.

SUPER. FAINT. LINE.

Cue trip to the drug store, where I bought two more pregnancy tests that I thought might be more accurate. I knew that a line is a line is a line but I needed another brand to tell me that! So after another test: TWO. PINK. LINES. Clear as day.

But, of course, that’s never enough, so I took the digital test. Within a minute, it read: YES+

I was shocked. Genuinely. After you see what feels like a million negative pregnancy tests, you’re convinced you’ll literally never see a positive one. But there it was.

Matt came home for lunch and I was able to give him a “gift” for our anniversary: the positive tests. We were both ecstatic and overjoyed, and Matt said, “It’s a Christmas miracle!”

That was December 12th, and to say that I’ve enjoyed the first trimester would be…insane. Here’s our first trimester update:

Feeling: The first few weeks my pride got a hold of me. We found out just before week 4, and I was feeling great. I just knew I’d have an easy pregnancy.

WRONG.

Weeks 6-12 were full of nausea; all day, every day. There was just no relief. Weeks 8-10ish were also full of vomiting that never brought any relief.

I was also wildly exhausted, and sleeping a lot. To those of you who have to go to work every day feeling like this, I applaud you. #badassery

Appointments: We got in with my OB’s office pretty quickly, but didn’t have our first “real” appointment until week 8 where they did the dating ultrasound. Seeing that flickering heartbeat was…surreal. I know a lot of people say that, but it was honestly still kind of shocking. I didn’t even cry, and I am a CRIER. Matt and I were just so happy to see Little Bird’s heart beating away at a rapid 178bpm.

We had another ultrasound at 12 weeks to check for Down Syndrome (negative), and this time Little Bird looked much more like a baby! As soon as the wand was on my belly, she started jumping and dancing. The heart beat was still strong and beautiful at 161bpm, and we were able to see baby’s arms in little fists by the head and how she was laying.

I had recently read a study about how ultrasound techs were challenged to guess a baby’s sex between weeks 11-14, and how the techs were 98% accurate at 12 weeks! So we decided to have our tech take a guess.

She knew immediately what Little Bird was (girl), and was very confident! Later that week, our genetic screening blood test (also negative, thankfully!) confirmed the sex of the baby. (Side note: isn’t it crazy that they can tell the sex of the baby by drawing MY blood?!?) Knowing what Little Bird is has made this so much more real.

Finally, we made the decision to transfer care to Gainesville Midwives for the rest of our pregnancy and have a home birth since we’re low risk and I don’t love hospitals. My dear friend Kerri is a midwife, and we’re so excited to have her caring for us and Little Bird! We’re prayerful for a smooth, uneventful pregnancy and birth so that we can do this in the peace of our home.

Craving: Wendy’s spicy chicken sandwich // Sonny’s BBQ // crab legs (I put away 3lbs of these) // fruit // french fries // McDonalds (can’t you tell I ate really healthy in the first trimester?!) // phô // anything vinegar-y

Hating: Coffee! I can’t stand it. // eggs

Other thoughts on the first trimester:

  • My friend Madison keeps telling me, “pregnancy is NOT for the faint of heart.” And she couldn’t be more right. The worry is insane. The first trimester was primarily filled with worrying about miscarriage and whether or not the baby was okay. Now that we’ve moved into the second trimester, the worry has simply shifted to hoping that baby doesn’t have any diseases or growth issues. I know worrying is a new constant since I’m a mother now, so I’m trying to settle into that and lean onto my Heavenly Father who loves this sweet baby even more than we do!
  • Creating a registry is overwhelming.
  • Natural birth books are wildly outdated. Someone write a new one!
  • Not 100% if we will share baby’s name. The name is something so personal and I love the thought of announcing along with the baby’s birth. Seems so regal. (I know we’ll miss out on monogrammed gifts, but I’m so particular about monograms anyway that might be a good thing!)
  • I’ll share more about why we’re choosing the home birth route and what that looks like. It’s definitely not for everyone, but it’s so important to know that you have options in birth!