When three people you helped have babies randomly meet at a table at a le leche league conference and send you a picture of themselves together
I’m happy to share my birth story to be encouraging, to spread positive birthing energy out to all women (and everyone else needing some positive ju ju) in the world and if anything else just to entertain.
Sadly there’s plenty of scare around the subject birth and it makes me mad to think many women get discouraged or think they don’t have the strength to give birth on their own.
I ask you to please respect the intimacy of the photos in this post and to not use or copy them.
At 39 weeks 5 days I lost my mucus plug. It was a Friday, my husbands birthday and he was out celebrating with the guys. I called him and he came home 2 hours later. Thought for sure I would get to hold my baby by the end of that weekend considering I’ve had a good amount of surges that week. That weekend nothing happened. It was hard because as much as I wanted to stay mellow I got really excited thinking things had started. Then on Monday evening right around midnight my water broke. Brian went to pick up his brother from the airport while I went to bed early. 45 Minutes in I woke up feeling this urge of having to pee really bad. I shot out of bed and noticed my panties getting wet halfway to the toilet. I remember thinking did I just really pee my pants?! I called our midwife after Brian got home and she suggested I’d go back to bed and get some sleep in case things started progressing. Although I learned the previous Friday to not get too excited I couldn’t help but getting giddy about getting to actually meet my baby now very soon.
The night passed by… Tuesday morning I texted our midwife to tell her nothing happened yet and she suggested I’d go for a (another!) long walk. So, sweet hubby walked for an hour around the neighborhood with me.
We had a checkup appointment with our midwife later that afternoon and talked about natural ways to induce. My midwife mentioned acupuncture and I decided to give that a try since I’ve never experienced acupunture.
I made an appointment for that same evening 5.30 pm. The acupuncture itself wasn’t relaxing at all. The therapist said inducing labor with acupuncture was the least pleasurable one out of all acupuncture experiences. It didn’t matter to me. I was willing to try anything natural to get this party going.
The session took an hour, and by the time I walked out of the therapists’ home my belly had dropped. I came home and Brian noticed immediately. I told him I felt the baby drop during a surge while laying there with about 25 pins in my body. It was the coolest weirdest feeling and not subtle at all.
The Therapist predicted I was going to have a boy, She was one of those people that is spiritually connected and in tune with her senses and energy. Intuitive and very direct about it. As I was gathering my stuff to leave she said let me know if you need me again tomorrow. Somehow I felt like she knew nothing was going to happen that same evening.
I went home and went for another long 1,5 hour walk with Brian. That night I went to bed without any expectations or hope, just tiredness.
Wednesday June 8.
I woke up at 6.30 am. I decided to go for a short walk, on my own. I needed time by myself to think and process. I had now passed 24 hours after my water had broken and I was starting to wonder how this story would end. I told myself everything was going to be just fine. No need to start worrying. No matter what I was closer to meeting my baby with every minute passing by.
Checked in with our midwife at 9 am. She suggested I could try 2 things to help things move along.. A couple of herbs and a sequence of things including nipple stimulation, or castor oil. I wanted to try a combination of nipple stimulation and castor oil. So we got dressed and left the house to pick up a breast pump from our midwife as well as a quick stop at Target for some castor oil. Target didn’t have castor oil. But while in there my little false labor surges I’d been having had turned in to stronger ones.
I could not help but think what the heck am I doing in a store, I don’t feel well at all! We drove to wheatsville and while I stayed in the car dealing with the oncoming surges Brian ran in for some castor oil. Once home I started timing my surges and noticed they were 5 mins apart. I texted Christy, our midwife and she told me one of the other midwives would stop by soon to come check on things.
An hour later Chandra arrived. It was 3.00 pm. I was sitting on my birthing ball and feeling pretty uncomfortable to be cheery and to entertain. Brian had speedy cleaned and prepped the whole house with candles, pillows, essential oils and indian instrumental music (my favorite soothing kind).
He had said earlier he thought the baby was going to come today and right he was. I went to the bathroom and noticed blood for the first time. Things started picking up. Thank god I had not taken the castor oil yet as my body was now cleaning itself out on it’s own. I couldn’t stop going to the bathroom so I labored there for a while. Chandra had called Jenni, our other midwife to let her know things were progressing. The surges started to get more and more intense. I loved being in the bathroom where I was close to the toilet. My favorite position during each surge was either sitting on the toilet, on my knees or leaning over the edge of the bath tub.
I had no idea how far I was dilated. I didn’t need to know. My body was doing it’s thing and I knew I was going to meet my baby very soon. I vomited and murmured ‘Is this transition?’ I don’t remember talking much after that as my body started pushing pretty soon thereafter. Wow what an incredible feeling. My body collected this immense strength towards my belly with which it contracted and pushed the baby down. First with longer breaks in between. Then faster with barely any or sometimes no break. It was the best feeling ever. Even tho at this point I felt totally out of my own body in trance mode. Nothing mattered anymore, I lost concept of time, space, everything. Just me and these incredible pushes.
His head started appearing. I pushed for a total of about 45 minutes apparently. His head took a while to be all out, but after that his body followed immediately. And all of a sudden there he was. 9.18 pm. Crying right away. I had delivered an 6 pound 13 ounce boy, our son on all fours on our bathroom floor and it was the coolest most magical thing I’ve ever done!
The following 5 days I drunk my frozen placenta which was cut into little pieces, stored as ice cubes in smoothies. It contains oxytocin, a hormone that reduces pain and increases bonding with baby, it also contains thyroid stimulating hormones, interferon and prolactin, which is believed to boost the immune system, energy, recovery and milk supply. As much as it may sound gross to some, I didn’t taste it at all in my smoothies. Im not sure if it did anything special for me since I haven’t experienced recovery without consuming my placenta but I will tell you I felt great days after giving birth. Happy! Also my milk supply was very rich once it came in on day 3.
And all of a sudden there were 3 of us. I feel so lucky for being able to give birth peacefully at home. It’s true there’s no place better than home or your own bed. I’m very excited for the new times ahead of us!
At Nina, Brian, and Thatcher’s six week postpartum visit with Christy, Jenni, Haven, and Chandra…it was a big love fest !
As our practice is evolving, Jenni and I are helping more people learn how to chart their menstrual cycle. This is a skill I think everyone who has a uterus and ovaries should learn how to do. It can help you know when is the best time to conceive a baby if you are trying to, and, conversely, not conceive if you are trying not to. Fertility charting has many names: cycle monitoring, natural family planning, and menstrual tracking, just to name a few. I have a fantasy that every middle school kid learns this skill to help them know their bodies better and feel like they have some control before and as they start to experience their sexuality.
A normal menstrual cycle length is 21-35 days, with 28 days being the average. It is measured from the first day of bleeding (cycle day 1) to the first day of the next bleeding. The menstrual cycle is regulated by hormones produced in the brain and in the ovaries. These hormones fluctuate throughout the cycle causing many signs for us to notice; signs that can tell us if our cycles are healthy and when we are most likely to conceive a pregnancy during ovulation. There are several different things to pay attention to during the cycle to help interpret the signs of ovulation. We encourage people to pay close attention to their basal body temperature upon waking first thing in the morning, their cervical mucous consistency and the look and feel of their cervix (yes, it changes!), and the rise in the luteinizing hormone (LH) in their urine (often referred to as ovulation predictor kits, or OPKs). We have been using these three clues to help people figure out when the best time to conceive by insemination or intercourse might be.
There are many great books about cycle monitoring that give thorough explanations of all the signs to watch for while cycle tracking, please see descriptions in resource list below. These books have charts showing how to read temperature variations throughout the cycle and share some of the other physical and emotional changes to notice during ovulation. The Beautiful Cervix project online has great pictures to compare with if you are viewing your cervix using a speculum, as some people choose to do.
To help people track their cycles, Jenni and I created a chart for our clients to use. Please feel free to download and use this chart for yourself. MB Fertility Chart
Period Repair Manual by Lara Briden, ND
A new book I just discovered. The author does an amazing job describing the hormones and their functions in the reproductive and endocrine systems and outlines specific ways to “fix” your cycle if it has strayed from normal.
A New View of a Woman’s Body by the Federation of Feminist Women’s Health Centers
This older (1995) book is a fabulously detailed yet accessible book to have. Very do-it-yourself, and the illustrations and pictures are really good.
Taking Charge of your Fertility by Toni Weschler, MPH
This is an extremely thorough delve into cycle monitoring, get to learn so much that you didn’t know you didn’t know about your fertility cycle. Their website has lots of information as well.
Honoring Our Cycles by Katie Singer
I love this very simply explained way to watch for fertility signs; this is a great book with lots of pictures and charts.
A Cooperative Method of Natural Birth Control by Margaret Nofziger
An old classic, first published in 1976. This was the book I first used to learn about natural family planning when I was younger; it was the only book I could find on the topic!
The Moon Mysteries book by Nao Sims and Nikiah Seeds, and their Moon Cycle Chart downloadable chart http://www.moonmysteries.com/moon-cycle-chart
Many of the above books are written with heterosexual people in mind as the target audience. They are filled with great information, but if you would prefer less hetero-normative or gendered language, check out the fertility sections in these books and the following online resources:
The New Essential Guide to Lesbian Conception, Pregnancy & Birth by Stephanie Brill
The Ultimate Guide to Pregnancy for Lesbians: How to Stay Sane and Care for Yourself from Pre-conception through Birth, 2nd Edition by Rachel Pepper
My Period and Me: A Trans Guy’s Guide to Menstruation by Wiley Reading http://everydayfeminism.com/2014/11/trans-guys-guide-menstruation/
La Loca Loba has a 5week online course on RADICALLY AND CONSCIOUSLY MOONING: http://www.lalobaloca.com/radically-and-consciously-mooning-an-online-knowledge-share.html
|Jenni and I LOVE Aviva Romm and often recommend her remedies to clients. Her books are great! Her blog is great! and her online classes are great! Here is an offer for parents that will be very helpful in raising and treating your children. Check it out.
This amazing person birthed her second baby last September. Kat planned two homebirths but both of her babies decided to arrive early, thwarting their mother’s plans. Kat writes about her birth experience and how her Mama Bear instincts rocked the hospital on the Birth Without Fear blog. Now she’s spending her days rocking tandem nursing!
It has been a long and bureaucratically intense process but Jenni is now a fully licensed Texas midwife! Though Jenni has been attending births as an assistant and helping with MotherBloom office work for several years, she has not been able to work as a primary midwife until now. Jenni worked for several years as a Registered Midwife in Ontario, Canada, helping families at home births, as well as having hospital privileges. When she moved to Austin, in 2011, she started the process of becoming licensed in Texas but we knew it would be a long road since there is no reciprocity between Canadian and American midwifery.
We are very happy to be able to share client care responsibilities equally now that Haven, our 9 month old little one, is getting more active and vocal. Jenni and I plan to be able to provide even more personalized care and different types of services as we grow our practice together.
Jenni and I co-wrote an article with our friend Roan and it was published in the final issue of Squat magazine. Check it out!
PDF of Full SQUAT Journal attached.
This whole final issue is great
Last Thursday at our group prenatal we made several recipes that everyone enjoyed. I tried to make them easy for people to prepare. The menu included: “clean out the refrigerator” quinoa salad, sautéed greens, “cashew cheese” dip, and chocolate pumpkin truffles.
1 cup leftover cooked quinoa
1 can black beans, drained and soaked in just boiled water for 10 minutes
2 green onions, chopped
half green pepper, chopped
small daikon radish, chopped
small amount purple cabbage, chopped
small amount kale, chopped
Mix all together in large bowl, I like to chop vegetables in very small pieces
Dress with combination of these: olive or sesame oil, soy sauce, a bit of honey, rice or other vinegar, salt, freshly ground pepper
Mix salad and dressing well, allow to sit for a bit before eating for flavors to meld, Enjoy!
1 bunch kale, collards, or other green of your choice, chopped (I like to cut the rib out of the middle of the leaf and chop into small chunks, then cut the leaf into bite size pieces)
1-2 TBSP olive oil, coconut oil, or ghee
1-2 TBSP rice vinegar
1-2 TBSP nutritional yeast
Melt oil or ghee in skillet over medium heat, do not allow to smoke. Add chopped rib pieces and sauté for 3-5 minutes, then add greens. Sauté for several minutes, until greens are easily chewed when tasted. Remove from heat, add rice vinegar and nutritional yeast. Mix well and enjoy.
Cashew Cheese Spread
This recipe is from Heather Crosby at Yum Universe. We really like her cookbook.
1 1/2 cups cashews soaked 2-24 hours, then drained and rinsed
1/3 cup pure water
2 TBSP lemon juice
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
In a blender or food processor, puree together all ingredients until super smooth. Enjoy!
This last recipe I tore out of a Wheatsville Breeze newspaper years ago and just recently actually made it….two times in the last week 🙂 It’s very tasty with the coffee liqueur but we made it with apple juice for group prenatal. I replaced the vanilla wafers with gluten-free short bread cookies I found at Wheatsville and I replaced powdered sugar with combination of maple sugar, coconut sugar, and cane sugar- and I used half of the sugar the recipe calls for.
Seeing happy families !
This week two things happened that made my heart sing; there were actually more heart singing moments but these two stick out regarding my work as a midwife.
The first was this:
Meira turned two years old this week ! I helped Meira’s mom at her birth two years ago and now they are expecting a sibling in a few months. It’s so fun watching families grow, not only in number of children but watching the babies I caught grow so much during their parent’s next pregnancy is very heartwarming. Speech and motor development is fascinating to watch month by month during prenatal visits. And the transition from being the baby to being big sister, though usually challenging for everyone involved, is also sweet to see from an outsiders perspective. Happy Birthday Meira!
Second was this:
We had great group of moms at our Group Postpartum Gathering. The weather wasn’t great but so many of our late summer, early fall babies brought their moms to our office for a sweet time together. There is nothing a new parent needs more than hang out time with other parents and babies! These ladies had a lively discussion and shared tips and ideas that are working for them in caring for their new little ones. Dr. Karen Rayne also came over to talk about relationships and sex after having a baby- a topic not often discussed in our culture, but one that everyone has questions and concerns about. I am hopeful that these mothers continue to feel supported in their parenting and continue to rely on their intuition and curiosity in caring for their babies into childhood. And I am hopeful I will continue to see them and watch both the mothers and the babies grow.