Kidz Kraze Consignment Sale Is Around The Corner!

Kidz Kraze Spring Sale

“I’m a first time mom… I need everything…  He has no winter clothes… We need shoes… I love girl clothes, and I just can’t stop buying… It’s all so expensive!”

We’ve been there! The semi-annual Kidz Kraze Consignment Sale has been the solution for many! Whether you are in need of everything, clothes for your ever-growing toddler, or Christmas presents for your nieces and nephews, Kidz Kraze is for you!

Offering superbly organized and gently used consignment merchandise from hundreds of local families just like you, this is truly a “one-stop-shop”.

The Spring Sale runs from March 16 – 23 at the Candler's Station Shopping Center (beside Cici's Pizza!), 3700 Candler's Mountain Road. Visit the Kidz Kraze site here for more details on when you can shop and how to volunteer, allowing yourself to be eligible for pre-sales galore!

We especially have a heart for the moms behind the sale who have continually showed their support for local small businesses, charities, and those in our community in need. To learn more about the charitable work happening through your support of Kidz Kraze, please check out the about section of their website.

Mark your calendars today and don't miss this incredible savings opportunity!

Reflections: An Interview with Karen Young

At the start of each year, we often take time for self-reflection, starting new projects and making resolutions. Many of us begin the new year with hopes to improve ourselves. What a perfect time to feature a series of posts on gaining wisdom! Over the course of this month, we'll continue to post interviews with experienced mothers and feature stories written by women about what they've learned, and are continuing to learn, about motherhood. Thank you for starting the new year with us. We wish you all a very happy and inspired year of growth! ~TMC ---

I asked my mom if I could interview her about motherhood.

She said yes.

Because she's my mom.

And she's awesome.

And I begged a little.

Here's what we talked about!

---

Q: How many children do you have? What years were they born? A: I have 2 daughters, one born in 1981 and the other in 1983.

Q: But you love your first daughter more, right?  'Cause she's the best daughter?  Mom, hello? *Crickets chirping* 

Q: What are some of your memories about being pregnant? A: When I was pregnant with my first child, my friend was pregnant with twins at the same time. I gained about 10 pounds MORE than my friend…and she delivered her twins a month early!

With my second pregnancy, it felt so different, I was sure it was a boy. It wasn’t.

I also remember that I went into labor with my second child during the season finale of M*A*S*H - February 28, 1983. It was a really good episode!

Q: You had two miscarriages, both after your second child. Did that affect your decision to not have more children? A: Not really, I was a working mom with two little kids and at 35-36 years old, I just didn’t feel like I had the energy to start all over with a newborn.

Q: Where did you get maternity clothing? A: I made some, shopped at a maternity and children’s shop in town and got some clothes as gifts. I wore a lot of the same pants over and over with different tops.

Q: Did you have special nursing clothing? A: Yes, nursing bras, my maternity tops and anything loose-fitting.

Q: Did you take any classes or read any books about pregnancy? A: Yes, definitely. Our local hospital had a program run by some of the nurses for husbands and wives (or you and your support partner). I think it lasted six weeks. The last week included a hospital tour. I also read some books about breastfeeding and baby development. No Google for me!

Q: Did you know what to expect during labor? A: For the most part. My husband was there the whole time. I was mostly monitored by nurses and the doctor was only there at the end for each delivery.

Q: Did you get a lot of advice from your female family members or friends? A: Not lots.

Q: What do you remember from your labor(s)? A: I had horrible hemorrhoids after my first child’s labor and I was VERY AFRAID of that during the second labor. I also remember being chastised by the nurse after my first labor. She said that my diet during pregnancy caused my hemorrhoids. Stupid woman.

My message to laboring women - “Do not push like you’re going to the bathroom!”

I remember that after my first labor they used a UV light for healing (of stitches, maybe?). It was kind of awkward because they stuck this giant light between my legs.

Also, I had to have an enema before my first labor, but they discontinued that policy by the time I had my second.

Q: Did you have an induction medication or epidurals? A: I don’t really remember, but I think I had an epidural with both labors.

With my second child, labor stalled and I was a week past my due date. I was induced to continue to labor. During the induction meds, the doctor and my husband were discussing the Civil War at length and I found that fairly irritating. I had to remind the doctor that “I was the patient”.

Q: Did you deliver at home, a hospital, or somewhere else? A: 2 hospital births

After delivering my first baby, I was put in a “ward” with other mothers for a time until I was moved to a private room for a day.

Q: How did you feel when you saw your baby the first time? A: I was excited to see that my first child had LOTS of hair. I did NOT want a bald baby. Bald babies would have been sent back for further cooking!

I didn’t have ultrasounds during either pregnancy, so I was, of course, happy to know whether the baby was a boy or girl.

With my second, I was really surprised since I was certain it was a boy. My second daughter also had hair, so she was allowed to stay.

Q: Did you breastfeed? Why or why not? A: Yes. I breastfed because I was cheap and it was easier. I did have some trouble once I got home from the hospital, but I eventually figured it out. I exclusively breastfed until I went back to work (5 months with my first, 6 months with my second) and then both babies were fed formula at lunchtime, but I still nursed in the mornings and evenings.

Q: When did you start solid foods? A: We started solids around six months and we used rice cereal. I was advised to start solid food if “the baby seemed hungry” even with nursing/formula. We introduced one new food at a time and I used some jarred food and made some of my own.

Q: Where did your babies sleep? Did your children share beds/bedrooms? A: We had a bassinet in our room for a few weeks with each newborn before moving them to a crib in a separate room. When we moved our second child out of our room, she shared a room with her two-year-old sister.

Q: Did you keep baby books for each child? A: We had a baby calendar for both of them, but I’ve misplaced them. I did save cards from their baby showers and some major holidays.  

Q: Do you remember any difficulties you had? A: I was concerned that my first child was a month old and wasn’t sleeping though the night. (I nursed at 11 pm.) I talked to nurse friend and she suggested using a pacifier instead of nursing (as long as my child was gaining weight). It took about a week of the baby waking and getting a pacifier instead of nursing.

I don’t remember when my second child started sleeping through the night, but I don’t remember it being an issue.

I remember that in the winters, bathtime was an issue because we had a drafty, poorly insulated house. We would take the kids to the basement to bathe in front of the woodstove.

With both girls, c.1984

Q: Did things get easier or harder with subsequent children? A: Easier, because I had experience. My attention was divided between two children, but I felt like I knew better what I was doing.

Q: Were your children well-behaved? A: I think they were both well-behaved. My second child was a little less “cooperative”, particularly during church time. However, I thought they both had a good attention span for their ages especially compared to some other children (friends’ children) of similar ages. I’m not sure if it was due to good parenting or just good luck. We did a lot of “looking at book time” and I think that helped with their ability to sit still.

Q: What do you remember most fondly about your babies' first years? A: I remember that I enjoyed watching my parents with my children.  My father was retired by that time and it was fun seeing him play with my girls because that was something he was often too busy to do with his own children.

Q: How much TV time under 2? A: Not much. We didn’t have many TV stations, and we couldn’t always get the PBS station. The girls watched some TV at the babysitter’s house. We didn’t get a VCR until late 1980s, but we didn’t really watch a lot of videos either.

Q: And no video games? A: No video games.

Q: Did your children have any serious illnesses? A: My first child needed a hernia operation when she was 6 years old.

My second child needed a hernia operation at 6 months and she had walking pneumonia during kindergarten. She also had some trouble with croup when she was in kindergarten and eventually had some asthma issues.

Both girls had the chicken pox – ages 6 and 4.

But no broken bones!

Q: Did you stay home with your children or did you work outside the home? A: I was an elementary school teacher, so I worked full-time, but was home during summers. My husband owned his own business and had a more flexible schedule. If the kids were sick, usually my husband stayed home with them.

Q: Since you worked, who watched your children? A: We used private, "at their home" babysitters.

Q: What were some of your hardest/saddest moments as a parent? A: It was always hard when one of the kids was sick or injured. Fortunately they weren’t ever seriously sick. And it was difficult watching my children struggle with normal adolescent issues. I was hard being unable to “fix” everything.

Q: Do you have regrets as a mother? A: I don’t really have regrets because ultimately I’m happy with how things have worked out. Sure, it would have been nice to have more money or a bigger (less drafty) house, but basically I was happy with our decisions at the time. I think we did the best we could with what we had. And honestly there isn’t any point in feeling bad about past decisions. They’re over.

Q: Are there special mementos you cherish from (or of) your children? A: We still hang a lot of their handmade Christmas ornaments each year and I really love looking through old photo albums.

Q: Are there things mothers do today that you think are crazy? A: I think too many parent let their children dictate what happens in the home, in the store or in school. It’s crazy that a parent would have an out of control child and say, “I just don’t know what to do.” Parents shouldn’t act (or be) so helpless.

I think that using “time outs” as a discipline tool is silly. Sometimes you need a little cooling off period (both as a parent and as the child), but I think that parents who believe that there should be NO physical punishment or correction are absolutely wrong.

I think that kids now get way too many material things. They just have too much STUFF. And because they have so much, they don’t appreciate or take care of their things the way they should.

Parents should require that their children take care of their things and make sure that they’re put away. It teaches them to respect their home.

And I don’t understand parents who don’t expect their children to contribute to the chores of a family. It’s important for kids to have “jobs” within the home. Giving an allowance is fine, but children shouldn’t be paid to do the dishes or make their beds. Those are jobs that everyone has because they’re part of a family and those are the responsibilities of each person in the house.

Q: What’s your biggest piece of advice for mothers raising children today? A: Teach your children personal responsibility.

Q: What were some of your proudest moments as a mother? A: I remember that a family member without children commented about how fun it was to spend time with my children. And I remember feeling very proud when people complimented me on how well-behaved my children were.

I’m also proud of having two grown daughters who are independent and am proud of the way they’re living their lives. I’m proud of the men they’ve chosen to be with, too.

My husband and I wanted to raise children that we would enjoy spending time with once they were adults. I feel like we’ve succeeded.

The whole family, January 2013.

---
See.  I told you my mom is awesome. 

First Moments of Motherhood: Emma Claire's Birth Story

At the start of each year, we often take time for self-reflection, starting new projects and making resolutions. Many of us begin the new year with hopes to improve ourselves. What a perfect time to feature a series of posts on gaining wisdom! Over the course of this month, we'll continue to post interviews with experienced mothers and feature stories written by women about what they've learned, and are continuing to learn, about motherhood. Thank you for starting the new year with us. We wish you all a very happy and inspired year of growth! ~TMC I'm going to start this post off with a humdinger of a sentence:

I had an elective induction.

Before the Natural Birth Police storm my front door, I should share the back story to my daughter's birth story.

When I was 14 years old, I met a boy at church camp. We fell hopelessly in love with one another at 21 and married at 22. Vowing to love and honor him in sickness and in health, I discovered that I was no longer staring at the 15 year old boy I met so long ago. As the words left my mouth, as I gave myself to him only and him completely, he stood before me in an iconic dress blues uniform. Deep blue coat with red piping, gold buttons adorned with the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor - he was beautiful in every way. With his chest out, shoulders back, and pride few can fathom, he vowed the same to me. Four years prior, he was pledging to defend the United States and her Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. He promised to sacrifice his day to day for the freedom of this country; knowing full well that it may demand the ultimate cost of his life.

On August 14, 2010 I became the wife of a United States Marine.

I didn't know then how much it would define my life. I didn't comprehend how marrying a marine would determine a good percentage of my existence. I wouldn't say that I was misinformed or ignorant - I just simply wasn't aware. One of my good friends, a Navy chaplain, performed our wedding ceremony. As he addressed us, in front of our friends and family, he told me of the responsibility that I would have as a marine spouse. I remember walking down the aisle after our "first kiss as husband and wife" and having a pit in the bottom of my stomach. I was terrified, happy, anxious, scared, and excited ... all at the same time! I knew in my gut that life had changed for me - for us.

 

 photo by: Sabrena Deal/S. Carter Studios (http://www.scarterstudios.com/index2.php)

A year and a half after our wedding I was helping my husband pack his belongings for yet another deployment. We had thought long and hard about when we wanted to start trying for a baby and we determined that after he returned from his 7 month deployment, we would begin trying. While he was gone, I made every effort I could to get my body "baby ready." After gaining a significant amount of weight on birth control, I promised myself I would lose at least 30 pounds while he was gone. It seems like a lofty goal, but I did it. I took myself off of the birth control immediately after he left so that I had an ample amount of time to recover. I bought fertility tests and a fertility monitor, pregnancy tests, and did a ton of research on the most effective ways to get pregnant.

I became what I like to call a "Knock Me Up Nutjob." My focus was all on a baby.

April 2012 arrived, my husband returned home. I was ready. He was ready.

April 2012 passed, and I still wasn't pregnant.

Punch me in the face.

May 2012 arrived. I decided to stop obsessing.

May 21, 2012 arrived and so did the two pink lines. I was pregnant. I peed on 8 pregnancy tests just to be sure. Panic ensued. I feared miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, anything and everything. To top all of this off, we found out that my husband would be heading to recruiting school and we had a move coming up.

Though I would not define my pregnancy as difficult, everyone else tells me it was. I had serious morning sickness resulting in having to use two anti-nausea medications just to get me to eat even just a little bit of food. In my first two trimesters I lost a total of 30 pounds. In addition, I faced uncertainty of the health of my child. (You can read that story here.)

Despite any illness or difficulty in pregnancy, my husband had to leave for recruiting school in San Diego at the beginning of my third trimester. His parting words were, "Don't have that baby until I get back." So ... I crossed my legs and held on for a long 8 weeks without him. About 3 weeks into his schooling, he called to tell me where we were expected to move so he could recruit for the Marine Corps the next three years. Basically the conversation went like this:

Him: "So ... we're moving to Wyoming." Me: "Haha, okay... I'll get to work on finding us a house up there."

We were expected to be in Wyoming on February 2, 2013. I should mention, however, that my due date was January 21, 2013.

From the beginning, I shared with my midwife that I would be moving and we weren't sure when exactly, but it would be before I delivered or immediately after. She is used to working with military families and promised to help in any way she could. As soon as we found out when we were expected to move you can imagine the panic that came into my life. Not only did I have to find us a house in a place we've never been, find renters for the home we own in North Carolina, plan our movers, transfer all of our information and utilities, and 5,508 other things  ... I ALSO had to deliver a child. The stress took its toll on my body and I began having contractions at 37 weeks. Many mornings I would be standing in my bathroom hunched over the counter just praying and asking God that "this was it" and that "my Emma was on her way." Needless to say ... it wasn't time. At my 38 week appointment my midwife determined that (sorry if men are reading this) my "cervix was viable for induction." Now, before anyone loses their cool and starts yelling about "unnecessary interventions by medical professionals" here's what you should know ...

I asked to be induced. 

My midwife, as much as she didn't want to admit it, did NOT want to induce me, but understood why it had to be done. Her only stipulation was that it be done at 39 weeks, and if my cervix wasn't ready, at 40 weeks. My health, along with my baby's health, were of her utmost importance. I was scheduled to be induced the following Monday on January 14, 2013. I breathed a sigh of relief.

On that Monday evening I walked into the hospital, I was placed in a room, and the process started. Cytotec was placed, and contractions increased. More Cytotec was given. I dilated a little bit. At 3:30AM my water broke on its own and Pitocin was administered.

Now, for all of you women clutching the computer screen and screaming "NOOOOOO!!! NO PITOCIN!!!!!!!!!!!" - just hold on and bear with me. It gets worse before it gets better. The Pitocin did its work and I was contracting, but unfortunately it made me very sick. With my vomiting and crying and increased contractions came a great amount of panic. I barely remember this point, but my husband told me it was hard to watch. I clutched his hand, I leaned against my mom's chest, and I remember uttering the words I didn't want to say, but knew I had to ...

"I need the epidural now."

I knew going into my induction that epidural would be on the table. Despite my desire to have an epidural-free labor, I understood that my labor would be lengthy and that it would be unrealistic of me (after a certain point) to go without. I had promised myself to try, but as soon as I lost control or I was not progressing, I vowed that I would get an epidural - without shame. (That's the key point! No shame!) In the 13 hours that I was in the hospital I had only dilated 3cm. I requested Zofran for my nausea and Stadol for my pain and I waited on the anesthesiologist.

He arrived. And I wanted to kiss him on his mouth. But I'm a married woman.

As he administered my epidural I talked to him about how I shouldn't have gone to college, but instead invested all of that money into a boob job and lyposuction so that I could be Miss America. He tried to muffle his laughter and hide his face, but really, the ridiculousness that poured out of my mouth (thank you, Sir Stadol) was too good not to laugh at. He made a quick exit, my husband went home to shower, and my mom and stepdad took some naps.

Exactly an hour and a half after my epidural was administered, I was checked.

And I was 10cm.

And my husband was at home. Showering.

He sprinted into my room to find me smiling and happy and in Stadol-world. Then I started to come back to reality. To come off the high, if you will. It was time to push. They dialed back my epidural. I began to feel everything. Every contraction, in all it's strength, it was surreal. To go from feeling nothing to feeling everything. I pushed, and pushed, and pushed, and pushed some more. I laughed and chatted in between pushes. My mom to my right, husband to my left. My mom, who has seven children of her own, assured me I was doing well. But my baby wasn't coming. The nurse had this look on her face, puzzled, like something wasn't right here. She said she would be back and was hoping that my midwife could help things along.

In came my midwife, and she had to turn my baby who had spent the past hour of pushing being slammed against my pelvic bone. The poor girl. She was turned, and I started to push some more. They kept telling me to let the contractions build. I held onto my husband's bicep (which is part of the reason I was knocked up in the first place ... ironic.) and I pushed with all my might. The contractions continued to build. I remember talking in between them, trying to keep my spirits up. And then there was "that push." You know the push I'm talking about. The push where everyone shrieks, "WE CAN SEE HER HEAD!" Only, my mom added, "AND SHE'S SO BALD!" 

As soon as they saw head I was pushing like a crazy person. Every contraction I pushed harder and harder and harder. Then the burning. Oh the burning.

I breathed.

I pushed.

It burned more.

I breathed.

I pushed.

Her head was out.

Her shoulders.

And then I got the green light. My midwife says, "Okay, if you can reach go ahead and pull her out."

So I did. I reached and I grabbed her shoulders and pulled her right out. I sat her on my stomach. My eyes filled with giant tears, she started to cry a loud, healthy cry. I did it. I had a baby.

At 3:41PM on January 15, 2013 after almost 24 hours of labor and 2 hours of pushing, I had delivered a 7lbs, 3.3oz baby girl that will forever wear the name, Emma Claire. She was dreamy and that moment immediately defined my existence. My husband held her in his arms as he paced around the hospital room. He stared at her like she had hung the moon. He was captivated and more in love with her than he ever thought possible. My mom stood in the background and texted my siblings who anxiously waited on me as I pushed for 305 years. We welcomed our daughter into this world. This crazy, hard to fathom, impossible to comprehend Marine Corps world.

With her new pink skin, wide blue eyes, and perfectly bald head, my daughter entered the world. Ten days later she would be moving to Wyoming. But that's another story for another day.

I have found that not all birth stories are the same. Would any woman love to have an all-natural birth with no medication and no interventions? Absolutely! We would also love it to be pain free, to glow the whole time, and to not poop on the table as we push. The reality is - the labor and delivery is just as unique as the child! During my moments of stress I would often say, "If only I had gotten pregnant two months later!" or "I wish we would have waited until we moved to begin trying to have a baby!" But now? I wouldn't dream of anything different. I prayed over and over that God would protect her from any affects of the induction and epidural. He did just that. Not once did her heart rate drop or increase. She was discharged 24 hours after her birth. Her lungs were strong. She was as healthy as a horse.

 

On August 14, 2010 my life changed dramatically as I became the wife of a marine.

On January 15, 2013 my life changed forever as I became a mother.

 

photo by: Megan Jones/Megan Jones Photography (meganmcjonesphotography.yolasite.com)

Following the Path That Found Me

cloth diapers

January is often a time for self-reflection, starting new projects and making resolutions. Many of us begin the new year with hopes to improve ourselves. What a perfect time to feature a series of posts on gaining wisdom! Over the course of this month, we'll post interviews with experienced mothers and feature stories written by women about what they've learned, and are continuing to learn, about motherhood. Thank you for starting the new year with us. We wish you all a very happy and inspired year of growth! ~TMC--

Hello everyone, my name is Sara and I'm a "natural" mom. I'm a breastfeeding, cloth diapering, baby food making, natural childbirth advocate and I have no idea how I got here. You can read in my bio that I didn't grow up as one of those girls who day dreamed about the day when I'd earn the title of 'mother'. But now that I've got it I have to admit I'm quite surprised at the path motherhood has taken me on thus far.

I guess you could say that our planning process began before we even got pregnant… but we were totally clueless that it was happening.

When the hubs and I got hitched we signed up for a class that taught Natural Family Planning (NFP).  I won't dive into too much detail but it's basically birth control without the birth control. Natural. Effective. Awesome. I had been on the look out for a new gynecologist ever since making the move to GA so when our NFP teacher recommended a Christian-based practice that wasn't far from our house I thought I'd hit the jackpot. And after going to the practice and meeting the staff I was sure of it. Jackpot, all the way! Oddly enough it took me actually getting pregnant to realize that the 'doctor' I had seen at my first annual visit was actually a midwife. I guess I REALLY trusted my NFP teacher's recommendations and did little research on my own. Oh well. I was totally in love with her so I never thought twice. I was pregnant and a midwife was going deliver our baby. The plan was falling into place.

We started the usual schedule of pregnancy check-ups and one day while waiting for the midwife to come into the room, I noticed a flyer on the corner table promoting a child birthing class. It had dates and contact information and something about a "Bradley Method" so I thought, what the heck, may as well see if we can't get some birthing wisdom. It's customary, right? Once again… for whatever reason I did little to NO research on the Bradley Method before scheduling our classes. It was only after a very pregnant Bradley coach was sitting in our living room teaching us how to 'simulate sleep' during labor that the hubs and I fully realized it was a natural method of childbirth. No drugs. Very little intervention. Au Natural. She was a wonderful coach and completely sold us on the method so we thought, cool… let's run with it. I started out thinking, "Yeah, I'll try this naturally but if I decide that I can't handle it I won't be above getting an epidural". But after each class I became more and more confident in the fully natural Bradley method and the more confident I became in my own ability to successfully deliver without any medical intervention. The more I learned the more I fell in love with the miracle of childbirth. Another piece of the plan... laid out for me to follow.

So, we have a midwife and are going to bring this baby into the world without any medical intervention. Right on. What's next in the progression of what I like to affectionately call our 'hippy dippy decisions'? Choosing to breastfeed for at least a year, make our own baby food, and opt for cloth diapers over disposable. WHAT? Through a series of unidentified events that flowed through our birthing classes, research by the hubs and I, a desire to avoid letting a child completely bankrupt us, and talking with other new moms, we went full-fledged "natural". I never imagined I would consciously make the decision to nurse for a full 12 months, spray poop off a piece of cloth then throw it in my washing machine, or puree fruits and veggies on a weekly basis, but sometimes you have to follow that path that is laid out for you instead of trying to construct your own from scratch.

I'm so thankful that I had an open enough mind to embrace all the new ideas that were being thrown my way. The decisions my husband and I made surrounding my pregnancy and childbirth made such a strong impact on my life that I've even added becoming a birthing coach and even a midwife to my life's TO DO list. Gaining the right wisdom to suit your needs doesn't always come from the places you expect. Sometimes it just falls in your lap and you run with it.

"Wisdom" of The Soon-To-Be Mom

January is often a time for self-reflection, starting new projects and making resolutions. Many of us begin the new year with hopes to improve ourselves. What a perfect time to feature a series of posts on gaining wisdom! Over the course of this month, we'll post interviews with experienced mothers and feature stories written by women about what they've learned, and are continuing to learn, about motherhood. Thank you for starting the new year with us. We wish you all a very happy and inspired year of growth! ~TMC--

When I first found out I was pregnant I'm sure my oldest sister probably thought to herself, "Oh crap, here it comes..."

Over the past few months I have texted her at least four times a week asking random questions about aches, pains, breasts, hips, and lady parts. As my oldest sister, with three children of her own, it is her responsibility (opinion warning) to be my living, breathing, and talking version of What to Expect When You're Expecting. 

   My sister has handled me well, but as with most new moms I began my pregnancy in search of as much information as I possibly could. Despite my upbringing with six siblings and experience with babies as a nanny and "Auntie Kels," becoming mom is an entirely different ball game. Don't get me wrong, I've got the job of auntie on lock. Give them lots of candy and treats they shouldn't have, let them watch as many episodes of Fresh Beat Band as they want, and under no circumstances put them to bed when you were instructed to. If they cry, you just give them back. If they bite you, you just give them back. If they are in a bad mood, well you get it by now, just give them back! However, the one growing inside of me right at this moment, the one that could come out at any point in time over the next few weeks - I can't give her back. She's mine. And I've checked all the baby and pregnancy books - kids do NOT come with a return policy! There is no label on them that reads,

"If dissatisfied with lack of sleep, sore boobs, mastitis, crying (even your own), and lady parts on fire please return to hospital to have baby shoved back inside." 

   When I found out that this month's theme would be Gaining Wisdom I realized that I have been seeking wisdom as a pregnant woman and soon-to-be mother. From asking my sister a slew of weekly questions to reading from blogs and books - the past nine months have been based around gaining as much knowledge as possible on pregnancy, labor, pumping, and all things baby related. Quite frankly, I've scared myself more than I've educated myself! But as I prepared to write this post I thought to myself, "What is wisdom when it comes to being a new mom?"

Let me first define wisdom: "(n) The quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment; the quality of being wise."

Laughable, right?

   Nothing about that definition applies to a new mom. Nothing. Experience? Being an aunt doesn't qualify me for being a mother. Knowledge? Two days ago I had to ask my midwife why my stomach and back hurt so bad throughout the day only to find out I have been having false labor. Good judgement? When someone shared the benefits of co-sleeping to me I asked her (sarcastically) if it is 'as beneficial' for our baby to co-sleep with our yellow and black labradors instead of me. (She didn't think it was as funny as I did. Actually she didn't find it funny at all.)

   We seek the wisdom and the knowledge of others because we know absolutely nothing. By asking others we are receiving opinions and ideas that we hope to apply when our children come into this world. The simple truth remains, however, that it is ultimately our decisions and choices that guide how we raise and nurture our children. It's important to be educated, to seek the wisdom and knowledge of others, but in the end we gain the most wisdom by doing it. Applying little things here and there, but never living by the books, the blogs, or the opinions. I believe whole-heartedly that there are two births that occur when we have our children. The birth of the child is obvious, something to remember and cherish, but in that moment there is the birth of the mother. Things change for us in that moment. Our existence is no longer defined by our accomplishments, our goals, our tasks, or our agendas. Our world is immediately wrapped around the baby that just ripped apart our downstairs and has spent the past 10 minutes screaming at us because our boobs are seemingly defective. Get comfy ... It will be 18 years before you get a break and unfortunately those boobs will never shrink back to normal.

   When I did research on this post I skipped over all of the "new mommy" questions and went right to the gut of things. I wanted to hear moms tell me what their children do or have done that have made them proud. I wanted to slide past all of the breastfeeding/pumping questions or post-labor healing tips and tricks. With days (or weeks) to go I needed to read that this is all going to be worth it. I needed to see women in my life brag about their children and how parenting, regardless of how difficult, has its rewards. The task before me is a daunting one and in my search of wisdom I've often just returned scared or confused. I hoped to find the light at the end of the tunnel that says, "You'll get through it and it will be awesome." So, I posted on my personal Facebook account asking mothers what has been one of their proudest moments. You know what most of the ladies responded with?

"I can't choose just one!"

   I read each response. I poured over the brags and the flaunts and praises and I smiled to myself. I sought comfort in my time of fear, and I found it. Maybe that's all the wisdom I need to glean right now. Maybe, just maybe, I just need to know it's worth it; that the pride outweighs the challenges.

So for now I'll sit back and wait on my daughter to make her grand entrance into the world. And when I feel like I have no idea what I'm doing or am fearful I will focus on what's to come:

Pride, confidence, wisdom, and the birth of a mother. 

Book Review: One Recumbent Mommy by Rachel Blumenthal

One of the things that drew me to The Motherhood Collective community last summer was the embracing of all mothers.  When you gather a community of women together, you are bound to come across different birth experiences, parenting styles, and overall philosophies.  The Motherhood Collective supports mothers.  In a culture that seems determined to divide women over their birth and parenting decisions, a community such as this is essential. When Rachel Blumenthal, author of One Recumbent Mommy: A Humorous Encounter with Bedrest approached me to review her book, I wanted to bring the review to this site.  Rachel is a Northern Virginia mom, like myself, with two young children.  After an uneventful first pregnancy, Rachel became pregnant again in July of 2008.  In November of that year, her 20 week ultrasound showed an incompetent cervix and Rachel began a 15.5 week hospital stay of strict bedrest.  One Recumbent Mommy tells the story of that time.

What drew me to Rachel's story is that there's not alot out there dealing with this topic.  There are shelves upon shelves of books covering the ups and downs of pregnancy along the What to Expect vein.  You probably have one or two of these books on your own bookshelf right now.  And for most women, these books are all that's ever needed. I was fortunate to have two uneventful pregnancies.  Many women are the same.   But for some, bedrest is a part of the pregnancy experience.  And for those, especially first-time mothers on bedrest who may not yet have a strong support network, it's nice to know that there are others out there who can empathize.

Rachel's book is actually the compilation of several months of blog posts, written during her hospital stay and beyond.  The tone is informal and candid.  Exclamation marks abound.  The topics discussed within the pages range from the mundane, such as her struggles with the hospital food service, to the serious, trying to keep her baby safe as the weeks stretch on.  Reading this book is, as you would then expect, like reading an online journal.  The voice is not that of an expert, it's that of a friend.

A book for every pregnant woman you know?  The ideal shower gift? Perhaps not.  But for those that find themselves unexpectedly in a bedrest situation, One Recumbent Mommy provides encouragement (and a happy ending).

Rachel hasn't forgotten the little ones, either. Wherever I Am, I Will Love You Still, illustrated by Juliette Kopp, is a companion picture book that shares the hospital bedrest experience through the eyes of a small child.  The language is simple, the tone positive, and the colors cheery.  Again, maybe not the first book you think of when preparing a young child for a new sibling, but most definitely fills a need for the young child that finds himself confused by his mother's sudden (and lengthy) absence.

 

Both books are available through Amazon and Rocket Science Productions, or at Rachel's own site, rachelblumenthalbooks.com.

 

Disclosure: I received a copy of both books for review.  No monetary compensation was received .  All thoughts and opinions are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of The Motherhood Collective.

Happy Birthday...A Healing Birth.

Reading the birth experiences of other mothers gives us a real appreciation for the strength we have in childbirth. Hopefully these stories will inspire you. ~TMC --- The following is a letter that I wrote to my son on his 5th birthday. I hold his birth dear to my heart--it was a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) and a healing birth in many ways. Not only that, it started me on my journey towards becoming a doula, a job that I adore and love. Through my work, I get to help educate mothers and their partners about all the choices that surround the birth of their baby, and help them become advocates for themselves. Not only that, I get to meet babies--loads of sweet, salty smelling babies--born to parents who adore them. How perfect! ---

Dear Sawyer,

On the eve of your birth, I want you to know that you are the reason I am so passionate about my work.  Not only birth work in general, but more specifically, working with moms and dads and helping them understand their choices when it comes to vaginal births after cesareans.  You were my first vbac, and when I lifted you onto my chest, your breathing filled my lungs, and all my hopes and dreams for you mixed together in one sweet, soft song.  Your baby smell—that salty, warm smell—filled the room and it might have been minutes (or maybe seconds, I can’t be sure) that I locked eyes with you and knew that I had been given a most precious gift.

Your birth brought about a range of emotions in me—complete joy followed by sadness for what I had missed before.  My previous birth, a c-section, had given me a beloved baby girl, but also a deep scar that was not only physical but also emotional.  As you were born, as I held your soft body, as you nuzzled into my neck, I could feel the scar coming apart. This scar that I had held so tightly began to unravel around me—my previous choices, peoples comments, the physical pain, the missed moments—they began to fade away.  Before I knew it, I had forgiven myself and believed in myself again. This confidence might have started with your birth, but it did not end there—it flooded over into other aspects of my life.  I mothered with more assurance, I lived with more determination, and I let go of the past and looked to the future.  I began to find a passion—a passion for birth and for mommies and babies.  Not because I believe that the way a woman births is the most important thing, but because I believe that the way women and babies are respected and treated at this most intimate moment is the most important thing.

I did not know it right away, this life work that I would be called too.  I have watched many mommies lift their babies to their chests since you were born.  I have watched daddies look on with awe as their sons and daughters are born--by strong, confident, precious women.  I have watched, and secretly remembered you each time—my Sawyer.  You are full of life and mischief, and wonder and love—all rolled up with a lot of danger and no hesitation.  You embody everything they say about little boys and red-heads too: you are hot headed or as easy going as can be, and you change minute by minute or hour by hour.  You have a love for life and people, and there is no challenge you cannot conquer, no mountain you cannot climb (literally.)  I can’t begin to imagine what you will be one day—a fisherman, an astronaut, a musician, a documentary maker.  I know you will give your Daddy and me plenty of trouble, but I don’t doubt that you will love the Lord with your whole heart.  You have always had a soft spirit and I pray every day that you continue to see the world with a twinkle in your clear, blue eyes.

Sometimes I sneak away in the middle of the night, and sometimes I am gone for days at a time.  I might miss a game or two, but I want you to remember that birth work is important work. It changes women, it unites marriages, and it grows strong families.  I want you to remember that I found myself again because of you.  I want you to remember that I will never forget the feeling of you, and the way you fit perfectly in my waiting arms.

Happy 5th Birthday to you…my Sawyer.

All my love,

Mommy

--- Do you have a birth story you'd like to share with our readers? Please submit it here or email us at submissions@themotherhoodcollective.org.

How to Interview a Pediatrician

Pediatrician How to Interview a Pediatrician: Ask the following questions!

  • Can I call you day or night?
  • Who is the Physician that covers on call when you are not available?
  • What are your available office hours? What's your weekend availability?
  • What situations deem that I go straight to the emergency room?
  • Do you have a "well child" and a "sick child" waiting room?
  • How much do you charge for an office visit? How about rechecks?
  • How much do you charge for routine vaccinations?
  • How far in advance must I schedule an appointment?
  • How long will I be kept waiting to see you on an average basis?
  • What are your views on breastfeeding? Bottlefeeding?

A physician's personality and style will probably rank as high in importance as his or her availability and affordability. Your personal preferences and instincts will weigh heavily in your choice.

I recommend you interview two to three pediatricians before making a choice. For referrals, speak to your primary care provider, a childbirth educator or ask family and friends.

A Story of Miscarriage

Hands

At the Motherhood Collective, we recognize that not all pregnancy stories have happy endings.  We're committed to supporting women through their childbearing years and while we understand the pain of labor and empathize with that 2 am feeding, sometimes the grief of motherhood is far greater.  Stories about infertility, miscarriage and child loss are stories of motherhood, too.  We are thankful for those of you willing to share your personal experiences, especially the painful ones.  It's our hope that stories like these will help mothers connect with and support one another.  Thank you, Laura, for agreeing to tell your story.  ~TMC --

On July 2nd, we had an appointment scheduled for a first sonogram for our second baby. Due to circumstances beyond our control, I had to cancel that appointment. On Friday June 29th, our unborn baby went to be with the Lord.This is our story.

June 29th was weathered by the Eastern half of the country as the heatwave gave birth to a giant freak windstorm: the derecho. Ninety mile per hour gusts swept through the narrow passages between our 1920s row house. Our daughter, Joanna was asleep before the storm hit, but woke up when the power went out. Our little family waited through 40 minutes of strong winds and frequent lighting and thunder. The winds died down, the lightning danced over the mountain and the power remained off. I held my sweaty baby and sang show tunes to try and lull her back to sleep. My back and stomach were cramping, but my face kept smiling. After all efforts to sing failed, I made her 4oz of a midnight snack and she was eternally grateful. She conked out a few moments later.

When I earned my freedom, I went to the bathroom in the dark.

There was blood.

I checked again with a flashlight.

More blood. Like a period. But more. “Your will be done. Your will be done..” I chant like a monk. It brings an eerie calm to know that all things work for the good of those who love Him, even if 'things' involve losing a pregnancy at 12 weeks.

Do we go to the hospital? Do we wait it out? Who do we call? How do we even get phone numbers?

We have no internet to google "heavy bleeding during pregnancy". We have no internet to look up phone numbers of local doctors. We have limited light to find paperwork that may have a phone number of the hospital. We have no power to control our outcome.

We called our dear friends, Derek and Michelle, to watch our sleeping babe so we can go to the Emergency Room. The city is in darkness. The hospital is running on auxiliary power and only the vital machines are running. No vending machines, bathroom lights or television to distract from our thoughts.

12:30: We arrive, check-in, and they tell me they’ll get me back to triage as soon as possible.

1:00: Nurse Betty took my vitals and told us, “Usually you’d be back there by now, but tonight is kind of a disaster. The power outage caused a lot of car accidents and we don’t have any beds. Even the beds in the hall are filled. We’ll get you back there as soon as we can, Sweetie.”

2:00: Guy with a tree branch between his toes comes in cussing. Sits near the overweight mother and daughter and adjacent to a homeless gentleman.

2:45: I’m taken in the back to have an ultrasound. The nurse first tries on my stomach but my bladder is too full and I have too much gas to get a clear picture. She also says I have a tilted uterus. Thanks. So I pee and we try a transvaginal ultrasound. She quietly wiggles the wand to get snapshots of all of my important innards. I can tell when she finds the baby. It’s not moving. She goes to the screen where it shows the heartbeat. It’s a straight line; no heartbeat. She says nothing as she goes to the next screen.

4:15: I’m wheeled into a hallway.

4:30: Vitals are taken by another nice nurse who assures us that we will be seen soon.

5:13: Started hating the doctor and his stupid face.

5:15: "Where the hell is his stupid face."

5:35: Doctor comes in, confirming that there is no heartbeat. He said the baby was smaller than 12 weeks, so it likely stopped thriving around 10 or 11 weeks. He gives me drugs, sets up an appointment for another ultrasound and says he wishes us luck in the future. His face isn't nearly as stupid as I presumed.

6:00: The 3rd nice nurse returns with ginger ale and drugs. She genuinely asks "How are you feeling". I love her. She sends us on our way.

Derecho Damage

 

We arrive home in the sunlight at around 6:30 after weaving around tree branches once more. Traffic lights are still out, but the birds are chirping and the heat has not yet begun its terrible reign upon our powerless heads. It’s a gorgeous morning. We thank Michelle and Derek profusely for watching Joanna for us in our emergency. I’m still in shock and can’t really accept their “I’m so sorrys”. I’m still in the logical stages of the news; emotions haven't hit yet.Although I was only 12(ish) weeks along, I could feel that he was a boy – I just knew it. We were calling him Buddy because he would be joining us for Christmas.

 

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Aftershock

[June 30] Jonathan moved Joanna’s pack n play to the living room to watch her from the couch with his eyes closed. She thankfully entertained herself while Jonathan snored.

About 1/5 of Lynchburg is doing fine, with power, AC, water, and only a few leaves scattered across their lawns. When the traffic lights get dark, you can see lawns with debris, broken tree trunks, and smashed cars. Strange winds. We decide that our powerless home isn’t safe for our baby so we pack our things, dump our trash, wrangle the cat, and head north to my parents’ house.

Jonathan’s grandmother called me. She said that God knew our baby wasn't well enough for this world so He took him to Heaven. I started crying and she apologized for making me upset - I was crying at the beautiful image of God taking care of my sweet baby.

We arrived at my childhood home and my mom watched Joanna while Jonathan and I had some quiet time to process. It was the first time we'd been able to just sit in an air-conditioned room with no 'next step' to plan. We sat and talked about what happened. We talked about that it may be God's will that Joanna be a role model and older sister to her sibling instead of an Irish twin. We talked about how we didn't want to push down the sadness but rather use it to remember him. We talked about the nice nurses. We talked about what movies we wanted to see. We just talked. It was so nice to just talk.

I think the hardest thing is that I’m going to miss imagining what he'd be like.

10-25% of pregnancies end in a miscarriage [according to the American Pregnancy Organization], yet few women talk about their experiences. I didn't want to be silent about our loss. If anything I want those 10-25% to know they aren't alone.

We're placed into communities for a reason: to be with each other. We're here to help, hug, humble, and grow with together.

If you’d like to read more or know of someone that would benefit from hearing our story, please share this link: http://www.housebrokenmom.blogspot.com/search/label/miscarriage

Kidz Kraze Children's Consignment Sale is Around the Corner!

“I’m a first time mom… I need everything…  He has no winter clothes… We need shoes… I love girl clothes, and I just can’t stop buying… It’s all so expensive!”
We’ve been there! The semi-annual Kidz Kraze Consignment Sale has been the solution for many! Whether you are in need of everything, clothes for your ever-growing toddler, or Christmas presents for your nieces and nephews, Kidz Kraze is for you!

Offering superbly organized and gently used consignment merchandise from hundreds of local families just like you, this is truly a “one-stop-shop”.

The Fall Sale runs from September 10 – 15 at the Lynchburg First Church of the Nazarene on Wards Ferry Rd. Visit the Kidz Kraze site here for more details on when you can shop and how to volunteer, allowing yourself to be eligible for pre-sales galore!

Mark your calendars today and make sure to swing by the last day of the sale to shop 50% off and visit your friends from The Motherhood Collective!

You Just Never Know (Until You Know)

learning

tools of the trade by juliesorgeway  

I want to talk about my five-month-old, and pee, and the Dunning-Kruger effect.

Nine years — almost my entire adult life — I have worked as an educator. My husband is a college professor too. Education, facts and research are a big part of our lives, and we were willing suckers for every baby book and doodad that claims to be somehow educational. Black and white brain stimulating mobile? Check. Baby sign language? Alphabet sheets to somehow ooze literacy into his wispy baby head? Check check. But even after just a few months with our little boy, I feel like, cliché or not, really it's I who have most to learn.

Most people are familiar with the paradoxical phenomenon called the Dunning-Kruger effect, even if they’ve never heard of it before. Basically two Cornell researchers did a bunch of observations indicating that in general, the more you actually know about a topic, the more you worry that you don’t know enough. And, not coincidentally, the less you truly know, the more likely you are to overestimate your own expertise! Now, if you're like me, you can instantly, snarkily think of one or two people in your life who this just perfectly applies to. But maybe it’s more useful if we each were first to try applying it to ourselves.

Raising my hand right here: I was a classic Dunning-Kruger parenting “expert” before my baby was born. Reading and note-taking are kind of my favorite thing ever, so I researched the very soul out of every single newborn issue I could imagine. Nine glorious months of page-turning and highlighting! I knew that parts of my pregnancy, birth, and parenting journey would be out of my hands, and parts I could do my best to control. Statistics and anecdotal evidence alike were ready and confident on the tip of my tongue. I spent time reading birth stories of every possible variation of experience. And I don't regret any of that reading, or thinking, or planning. It helped me do pregnancy my way, and made so much of the unknown feel safer to me. Yet within a few weeks of my actual son’s actual arrival? Even though in fact I suddenly had much more experience, I felt so much less of an expert.

Despite having great support, I found there were so many things that felt harder than I had anticipated. It isn't that nobody warned me; on the contrary I had several honest mama friends who shared their hearts and tried to prepare me for the changes newborn life would bring. But nothing really could. So many of the shortcuts, tips, and tricks that had been “lifesavers” for my mama friends didn’t work for me, or for my baby, at all. Even some of the issues I thought I would feel most passionate about, in my prenatal fits of highlighting, ended up falling away as I found myself with a new, smaller set of certainties. Here are just a few of the things I held on to in those early days:

  • Things will get easier. Even though every age will have its challenges, newborn life is a tough adjustment for almost all new parents. The roller coaster cliché is true. But it will be okay.
  • It’s only a little pee. Let’s just say my standards of what constitutes a true midnight laundry emergency have… evolved.
  • Don’t mess with happy. Whether it’s the baby’s happiness, or my own, I have realized how much I tend to over-meddle. He's asleep with his head flopping to the side? That can't be comfortable... maybe if I just "fix" it... You see where this is going, right? It’s not always wise to try to perfect something that is already working out okay.
  • Let him see you smiling. He looks to me so often in this phase of his life. Okay, at first he mostly stared at my hairline or maybe the ceiling fan, but pretty soon he realized it's the parents who are the first center of his universe. So I don’t want to always have my brow furrowed, to always be worrying about the next thing that could somehow be better. I want him to see me smile, because really? We have a lot to smile about.

And even any of these, I know, might not ring true for any one reader in particular. My point is: Not one of them would have seemed like an important idea to me back when I was an expert. And it's this change, from the researched knowledge to the experienced, that no one could really prepare me for.

I still read a lot, when I can fit it in. I still care about doing the best I can to make reasonable decisions on issues that come up. But as my little boy grows, I continue to realize how much is probably out there that I still really don’t know. There are times when I imagine all the questions ahead of us, all the things I don't even know I don't know yet, and within me anxiety starts to rise. But when it does, I try my best to remember good old Dunning-Kruger, take a deep breath, and remind myself that maybe, just maybe, the less I feel like I confidently know “for sure” as a parent, the more I’ve actually learned.

--- The Motherhood Collective is on Facebook. Like us, then comment on our giveaway post for a chance to win a family photo shoot from Adam Barnes Photography. Our contest ends when we hit 500 Likes!

Beatrice's Birth Story

Lauren & Bea

July is birth story month at the Motherhood Collective. Reading the good, the bad, the ugly and the BEAUTIFUL experiences of other mothers gives us a real appreciation for the strength we have in childbirth. Hopefully these stories will inspire you. The Events Preceding the Birth of Beatrice Elise   I began contracting shortly after we went to bed, but this was common for the evenings, and since I had been cleaning so vigorously I was not surprised. Throughout the night as I rose to use the restroom (too many times to count at that point) I noticed they still hadn't stopped, but again, no big deal. At 6am Sunday morning I woke Adam and asked if he would massage my lower back, again, cleaning must have made me sore.

It was a beautiful fall day and I enjoyed layering up in a sweater and boots! We got our Starbucks and met up with friends who were visiting our church. On the way to church Adam asked me to at least text Laurie, my Doula and dear friend, with an update. I obeyed.

I chatted with friends after church, all the while "plie-ing" and moving. Once we were back in the car, Adam insisted I call Leslie, the Midwife, Laurie, and Barbie, friend and Assistant Midwife. I felt ridiculous, again, I just KNEW I wasn't in labor. I left messages with all three and went and joined dear friends over a delicious lunch! I asked Adam for seconds, thinking that if for some strange reason "this was real" I should eat as much as I could.

Leslie called back and suggested I head home after this lunch and nap. Either I was up for another night of contractions, or active labor was on the horizon. She asked me to stay hydrated, and she was glad I was eating such a large lunch.

I chatted with my dear friend Julie, and at Adam's prompting, finally headed out around 2:30pm.

Instead of going straight home, Adam asked if I would instead enjoy a rainy day drive with the heated seats. We had a few errands to run for the nursery, and I couldn't see why not! We drove to T.J.Maxx and I began to time my contractions on the way. Adam had previously downloaded this nifty Contraction Timing App for his iPhone, and it was nice to just tap "start" and "stop", and let it do all the recording.

We drove to Joe Beans (where I got a decaf caramel spice latte) then to Lowes where I sat in the parking lot timing contractions and Adam ran inside. At this point I was noticing that these silly contractions were all roughly 50 - 60 seconds long. Through our excellent childbirth classes I knew that contractions of this length were worth noticing. This frustrated me slightly, and I began to think I was timing them incorrectly. I called Laurie, who was also our childbirth instructor, and left another message.

Once we finally reached the house at 6:00 pm Adam and I both spoke to Laurie who told me I was indeed timing correctly and she thought active labor was beginning. WHAT?! She urged me to rest in a completely dark room for an hour and to have Adam call her at 7:00 pm with a status report.

 

The Birth of Beatrice Elise  I don't talk much about my birth choices... but before I tell the rest of the story of Beatrice's birth I must inform you of my decisions. And they are simply that, my decisions. This is not a decision I feel is right for every woman. But it was right for me. My decision is not better than the decisions of other mothers. It was best for me. I do not judge the decisions made by any other mother, I ask that you do the same for me.

We chose to plan a home birth with Certified Professional Midwife, Leslie Payne and Doula, Laurie Flower.

Here is a link to an excellent, albeit a little "new-agey", film, I agree with their final statement. "Accept your responsibility. Find YOUR truth." This is ALL I believe. We as mothers are responsible for seeking out our truth.

OK, I'm off of my soap box. Now onto the story of this precious girl's arrival…

At the end of the last post it was 6:00 pm and we had just checked in with our dear friend and Doula, Laurie. I tried my hardest to rest, but quite frankly I had missed my window for resting while I was gallivanting around T.J.Maxx! I attempted to lie down, but found it was more comfortable to pile all six of our pillows into a tower on our bed and rest my head while sitting up.

Adam went downstairs around 6:45pm to make himself a bowl of grits and relax, apparently thinking things were about to slow down. Poor guy. At 7:00pm, right as Extreme Home Makeover was beginning, I believe I experienced my first Active Labor contraction. Sitting was no longer an option, and neither was ignoring these signals from my body. It was time to get to work. I jumped up and let my body move through the intensity, then called downstairs to Adam.

He came bounding up the stairs and I informed him it was time to call Laurie, Barbie, our dear friend and Assistant, and Mauresa. Things had changed and I needed my support.

Laurie said she was on her way, Barbie had just gotten off work and she would be over with a few of my food requests, and Mauresa would be there as soon as possible with the dinner we were to have eaten together in her home at 8:00 pm.

I believe at this point Adam brought me one of my birth CD's, (which I had just made a few days prior), filled with quiet music. I changed into my "birth outfit", consisting of my bikini top, a pink jersey dress and a pink headband, (inspired by my friend, Erica).

I must tell you that even though I could acknowledge that things had changed, I truly did not believe I was in Active Labor. I kept thinking that everything would end, that I was making a fool of myself by calling everyone over, and that I would just be changing out of my birth outfit later that evening.

After changing I continued to try and rest in between contractions. I will tell you that I began crying tears of joy. My “bringer of joy” was on her way.

Laurie arrived at 7:30 pm, I remember her holding me and crying with me. What a miracle. My little girl was coming. Then it started - I entered "labor land". The following times have only been relayed to me by those in attendance. I literally felt like I was in a land of my own. And what a wonderful place it was!

Laurie worked through a few contractions with me upstairs, but as soon as Mauresa arrived with food, she insisted I head downstairs to eat! I ate Mauresa's delicious soup in the den on my birthing ball, while Laurie kept asking for "carbs" for me.

After eating some soup and bread, I starting working with the stairs - climbing up and down sideways while holding on to the banister, with deep squats on every step. After doing a few sets of singles we switched to two at a time working with the contractions. Laurie suggested we labor in Beatrice's nursery for a little while, using her glider to alleviate some lower back pressure. What a joy it was to be in my soft lit nursery bringing my little girl into the world. Barbie arrived and quickly prepared some wonderful warm compresses for me. I was able to rest my head and arms on the glider and rock back and forth on my knees while Barbie and Laurie applied the compresses.

I wanted to start working with my body again. We went out into the hall and this would be the point when my ballet background kicked in; I thought it might, and hoped it would, but I didn't know to what extent. I used a section of wall and did deep grande-plies in second, breathing deeply and working with each contraction. I loved this so much that they suggested I continue what I was doing, but in our shower. We have a wonderful shower with two shower heads, and the lower one can be aimed right on your back.

I entered the shower around 9:00 pm and adored it! They brought my music in, lit candles and kept refilling my water bottle again and again. I was never alone, yet I was granted the utmost privacy. I always had a supporter right outside of the shower, they rotated, Laurie, Barbie, Adam, Laurie, Barbie, Adam. They read scripture over me, prayed for me and Beatrice, brought me frozen peppermint compresses (heaven!) and surprised me with a book full of prayers and notes from friends. In between contractions I was able to talk and laugh, and during I was fully engaged in the work of my body. I believe it was at this point that I began to talk to my body and to Beatrice. Don't laugh, but in this deep guttural voice I started saying things such as "down", "open", "good girl, Beatrice", "come on little girl", and so much more. I began using my entire body, not just my legs, but my arms and hands to stretch and almost dance. It helped immensely to keep my body loose and to keep me from tightening anything. I also found my animal moan at this point. I loved hearing it echo on the shower tile, I loved how it reverberated inside me. It felt so wonderful. It reminded me of vocal/acting relaxation exercises.

Leslie, my spectacular midwife was called at some point and arrived around 10:30 pm while I was still in the shower. Apparently I was in the shower for a whole 2 hours. I depleted the house of its hot water supply, and still remained in the shower. I vomited up all of my extra large lunch from that afternoon, (again, it felt so wonderful), and still I remained in the shower, I absolutely loved it! Leslie, didn't mind my singing or my shower dancing or my other-worldly birth chants, she just watched me carefully and asked to hear Bea's heartbeat every once and a while. Oh, the heartbeat! Every time she would put the doptone up to my belly and I could hear my little one's strong heartbeat it was as if I was filled with a brand new dose of energy.

Around 11:00pm, they informed me that the den and the birthing tub were ready. They had Adam climb in the shower with me to share a couple of moments with me before we transitioned to the next phase. It was like a dream. He massaged me and told me what a magnificent job I was doing. What a gift.

I remember getting out of the shower and someone wrapping me in a towel. I remember Adam trying to help me down the stairs, but I must have been in the middle of a contraction, because I wanted no assistance.

Then it happened. I walked into my dream come true. For months I had dreamed of this moment, and it was here. I had written a "wish list" for my birth during my fabulous Childbirth Education Classes but never did I imagine it could look so beautiful. There were candles everywhere, the windows were down and the sound of pouring rain and a cold soothing breeze were slipping in, there was a roaring fire in the fireplace (my one request everyone thought was crazy, but it was PERFECT for this cool night), my carefully chosen music filled the air, and surrounding the huge birthing tub were the best support team anyone could ask for. I burst into tears. I couldn't believe this was the night for the birth of my child.

I climbed into the tub, and after an hour in a cold shower, it felt incredible! I felt so light and buoyant. Everything I had heard about laboring in the water was accurate. I loved it. It did change the feel of labor completely, but with coaching and encouragement I was able to feel the transition and change with it. I continued to move, moan, dance and speak in my low birthing voice. Not once did I feel ridiculous or silly. Everything felt so right. I could feel my body working to deliver my baby, and I wanted to help as much as I could.

At around 1:30 am they suggested I get out of the tub and try to use the restroom. I complied, but as I was climbing out a contraction came on, and I had to MOVE! I apparently took off around the house circling and circling the main floor; shaking out my limbs and marching to keep anything from tightening. I must have seen the blinds were all open, and I was appalled! Barbie scrambled to close all of the curtains and out of the corner of my eye I saw her fly across the dining room. I later found out she had tripped over Laurie's suitcase! What dear friends I have. After the contraction came to an end I attempted to use the restroom, but to no avail. Adam told me that they needed me to rest and relax at this point (apparently I was working too hard). They tried to have me lie down, but I despised that position, instead we moved to the den doorway, and while I hung on the door frame, Laurie and Barbie swung my hips from side to side as I moaned, "surrender". (I wish everyone could hear my husband's impression of me at this point.) The doorway failed to let me do what my body wanted, so I grabbed Adam and hung from his neck while continuing the same rocking. This felt so great, and truly helped relieve my lower back pressure.

I climbed back into the tub, and again, things changed. After throwing up again, (my poor helpers - I vaguely remember them scrambling to find something for me to vomit into), there was a moment where I lost my confidence. But with one look into the eyes of my amazing support, and one request that they assure me I could do this, I was back on track. I began chanting my new mantra, of, "I can do this. My body can do this." Adam climbed into the tub with me and in between contractions they had me recline into his arms to rest. Again, it couldn't have been more beautiful.

At 2:40 am I had a contraction different than all the ones before and at the end I felt my body pushing. What?! You must remember I had thought earlier that I was only fooling myself, and somehow I still couldn't believe it was true. It felt like only minutes had passed. In astonishment I told Leslie I felt like I needed to push. I knew she was going to tell me I was crazy, so I asked if she needed to check me or something. She told me that there was no need. I had known what my body needed till now, and that Bea's heartbeat was wonderful, so I needed to do what I needed to do.

Pushing naturally isn't really pushing. It's more like falling. There is nothing you can do to stop it. Your body just does it. I hate to compare it to this, but it's truly like vomiting. Your body has such power that you can't resist it. It is impossible to fight against it, and you simply need to relinquish your control and let your body do what it needs to. With every contraction I had three or four rushes of pushing. I could literally feel her descending. It was magnificent. The pressure was insane and the stretching sensation unlike any other, but all together amazing.

One or two contractions into pushing I felt my water break. What a feeling. It was as if a giant balloon had just burst inside of me. After five or six contractions I asked Leslie to help me understand where she was in the descent. She described how she was working her way underneath the pubic bone. It felt so right. After five or six more contractions it was truly time.

With my husband holding and supporting me from behind they coached me into a position where I could use my whole body. With the next contraction she began to crown. The next contraction brought her a little farther, the next contraction even farther. Leslie told me to feel the top of her head and I couldn't believe it. It was such a small portion, what a miracle the overlapping of an infant's skull is. Over the next few contractions the rest of her head began to emerge until I could put my entire hand over the top of her head. AMAZING!! I think that so many talk about this point feeling like a "ring of fire", and a burning sensation. But I truly could only call it stretching, crazy stretching.

Then, at 3:38 am, Monday, the 27th of September, a day before her due date, there in the birthing tub, it happened. With the next contraction and the four rushes that accompanied it I pushed, pushed, pushed and then SHE BURST FORTH!!! All of her! It was if she exploded into this world! No head, and then waiting for the next contraction for her body, no, my precious little one came flying into Leslie's arms.

I couldn't believe it. Here was the child that grew in my womb, that was bringing joy into such darkness. I couldn't believe it.

She was immediately placed in my arms and when I looked up, every eye was full of tears. My husband, her father, was sobbing tears of joy as he held us both. Here she was. I swear I could hear the angels singing, and my mother, now in heaven, joining in the chorus! She was so beautiful. My daughter. My Beatrice Elise.

 

If you have a birth story you'd like to share with our readers, please submit it here.

Welcome, Friends!

Pregnant Mom

Welcome, friends, to the Motherhood Collective Blog!
We are thrilled to launch this new online project and hope that it becomes a trusted resource and place for both education and support. We are grateful to our staff of lovely writers for sharing their thoughts about pregnancy, birth, infancy and parenting.

It seems fitting that we begin our project with an emphasis on birth stories, as this is the birth of our new project. Here at the Collective, we are committed to sharing our stories, information, helpful hints and hopefully the concept that "an educated mother is the best mother". We hope to introduce you to some new ideas and reassure you that you have many choices as you travel through parenthood.

Please, explore our new site and familiarize yourself with our local resources. Enjoy the words of our blog writers. Our group has grown because of the knowledge and enthusiasm of our members. If you have resource information to add, have a personal birth story to submit or are interested in contributing to the blog as a regular or occasional writer, please contact us. We want to hear from you!The Motherhood Collective

We are so excited to watch this site grow and change based on the interests of our audience and varied experiences of our writers. We have a lot coming up for you, including some great giveaways from our sponsors. Come, join us on this journey! (ANd check back tomorrow for another BIG announcement you don't want to miss!)

 "Nurturing the mother to grow the child."

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