How To Help A Friend Who's Miscarried

October is Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Month. For me it’s always nice to see the facebook and instagram posts from other mothers, showcasing their support and experiences. As someone who has miscarried, it’s something that never really leaves you, even after you’ve had another baby and have appeared to “move on”.

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Simone's Birth Story

This pregnancy wasn’t always easy for me, in that it followed my miscarriage and left me nervous. I worked through these emotions during the pregnancy in order to enjoy it and prepare myself for labor via therapy, acupuncture, yoga and prayer. Once I passed the 20 week mark and had a normal and healthy ultrasound, I felt so much relief, but it didn’t quite absolve all my fears.

As time drew nearer to delivery, I became excited and curious: who would this baby be? Would it be a boy or a girl? Simultaneously I became nervous about my earlier decision with my husband Erick that he could attend a work meeting in California when I was 38 weeks pregnant. At the beginning of my pregnancy it hadn’t seemed like such a big deal, but with my due date closing in, I became apprehensive. Our logic had been that my son was born at 40 weeks 1 day and it seemed unlikely that I would go early. So away Erick went to San Diego at 38 1/2 weeks and I abstained from anything and everything I could think of that would promote labor: no caffeine, no acupuncture, no eating dates, no pregnancy tea.

It didn’t really matter, though, because the baby had it’s own schedule. I skyped my sister in law, who was 3 weeks behind me in pregnancy, to catch up on our pregnancies and possible upcoming deliveries. As we were chatting I felt such intense pressure on my pelvis, but assumed it was that the baby had dropped and was pushing on my bladder. I went to the bathroom, but the pressure remained. “I’m just feeling so much pressure on my pelvis” I told her before logging off, but since Erick wasn’t due home for another 48 hours, I pushed those thoughts of labor away.

We were expecting a snow storm that night, and my brother was also away for a work trip, so my other sister in law had invited me and Jeffy to sleep over their house so that the kids could play the next day in the snow. Still feeling the pressure, I packed my hospital bag, Jeff’s overnight bag and even the baby’s car seat and off we went. I wasn’t 100% certain it was a great idea considering they live 15 minutes further from the hospital than I do, and they basically live on the side of a mountain on a rural dirt road, but I weighed my options and realized that even IF I were to go into labor at least I wouldn’t be home alone with Jeff. So off I drove, stopping by my parents house on the way to let them know I was sleeping there (see, I thought I might need my dad to get me off the mountain) and also grab a name book since I was still undecided on names at that point.

That evening, after the kids had gone to bed, I began to notice discharge with pinkish streaks in it after using the restroom. I became nervous, but a quick google search informed me that it could be hours, days or even a week before the baby came: it was just the sign of the body preparing for labor as the cervix began to thin. I tried to push any thoughts of labor away, but deep down I was concerned: my firstborn had come quite quickly and I worried once my body began the process there would be no hindering it. I contacted my mother and a good friend of mine, but we all remained hopeful that it would be a day of two, as Erick was scheduled to fly home Thursday and it was late Tuesday night.

I woke up to some contractions, only mildly stronger than braxton hicks and thought ok, they’re building, what time is it? I was disheartened when I saw that it was only 2:00am. I texted my sister, Sharon, who lives in L.A as I realized it was her birthday. Strangely enough, I noticed that I texted her at 2:13 exactly, the date of her birth. We had a good laugh and then I got quite serious with her, telling her I thought I might have a baby on her birthday. I went back to bed, only to wake again at 3:30 and again around 4:30. The contractions were getting a bit stronger, and I found myself in disbelief. I was exactly 39 weeks that day, it was snowing like crazy and my husband wasn’t home.

Upon waking up the hustle and bustle of the kids at 7am, I went downstairs and told my sister in law that I thought the baby was coming. She was shocked, but told me to contact Erick immediately. I knew he would still be asleep, so I left him a text message for when he got up. My dad showed up and cleared the driveway with my brother’s snowblower, preparing for if I needed to leave. I said I wasn’t ready yet and went upstairs to shower. I felt the contractions building in the shower, sometimes to the point of doubling over, but mostly I felt sorry for myself that my husband might not be there. I tried to get any feelings of self pity out of my system, because I knew I’d need the mental stamina to get through labor.

My mom called me after my shower and we made a game plan. I had my 39 week appointment at 1:40pm that day, and we decided that she would drive me there and plan to stay if I were truly in labor. Erick called me upon getting my texts and was rushing out of his meeting to the airport to catch the earliest flight that he could. He said he was in a 7am meeting when I texted him a screenshot of my contraction timer, and knew he had to leave. After getting approval from his boss, he jumped up and shouted: I’m gonna have a baby! and ran out of the ballroom while being high fived by his colleagues.

He called me from his uber telling me the earliest flight still wouldn’t get him in until 8:30pm due to a connection at LAX. I said maybe he’d make it. He said “don’t hold it in Deb” and tried to be encouraging by being excited that the baby was on it’s way. I said I was scared and he said “today is the day we get to meet our baby girl”. It was the first time he had said he thought it would be a girl, and I was hopeful that he was right.

I spent the rest of the morning distracting myself from my somewhat regular contractions by chatting with the children and watching them play. By the time my parents came to pick me up, I was packed and ready to go to the hospital. We left the house and my sister in law solo with 5 kids under the age of 7—she’s a champion for getting through those 48 hours solo!

On the way to my appointment I felt moments of pain, wondering when the contractions would build and become so painful that I would really be in labor. At this point, they hurt, but I felt I could still function and communicate in between them. When I was in labor with my son, Jeff, they had progressively become so strong that at a certain point I was unable to communicate at all and felt so inwardly focused.

I was relieved to discover that I was, in fact, in labor: I was 4cm dilated and 80% effaced at my appointment at 2pm. I knew that meant I would have the baby that day, as with my son my labor progressed quickly. They walked me from the midwifery office down to labor and delivery where I got settled in. Everything felt surreal. The midwife told me that my labor might slow down from being in the hospital, and it did. My mother and I walked the hallways for about an hour or so, during which we chatted and I had to stop every so often for a contraction. I returned to my room where I sat on an exercise ball. The strange thing about using the exercise ball was that it seemed to absolve all the pain of my contractions. If I got off the ball and stood up or rested on all fours, my pain doubled. My mother and I chatted about this: was it the position of the ball that helped?

The nurse returned and said the midwife wanted to monitor my contractions and the baby’s heart rate. I asked if I needed to get off the ball and she said no. “oh, she said, the baby’s heartbeat is irregular.” My mother asked “do you think it has anything to do with the ball?” to which the nurse replied “no, the ball is fine!” but I heard my mother and something clicked for me. I got off the ball immediately, as the irregular heart beat answered our earlier questions as to if the ball was helping or hurting me in labor.

As soon as I got onto the bed in all fours, I felt more contractions and the heart rate leveled out. I sensed that the midwives were not totally relaxed, as they did not leave the room from this point on. I thought to myself “time to get serious, Deb” and I began to breath heavily and focus on the birthing process. It felt a bit strange, this labor, as the contractions were not as painful as they had been with my son, Jeff. With his birth, I felt I had no choice but to moan and move and get through labor. With this labor, everything seemed to be a bit more mental, as if my mind was holding labor off at bay. After a while my midwife checked me and deemed that the baby’s head was still quite high in the canal. She asked me to “bear down” on the next contraction to try to move things down. At my next (and seemingly mild contraction) I pushed down on my pelvic area as my midwife gently pushed on my lower back—and my water broke! After that, they told me to begin pushing the baby out.

I felt so anxious at this point, it was if I could not visualize a baby in the birth canal, much less being born from me. All my anxieties about losing the baby during pregnancy seemed to manifest in my mind at this point and I began to cry while on all fours. “I’m too scared!” I told the midwife who was at my head, holding my hand. She told me I could do it, that I was strong and I could birth the baby successfully. I began to hyperventilate because I was so anxious, and the nurse and midwife at my head talked me through some different ways to slow my breathing down and relax. I was so worried, but I knew I had to listen to them. I remember thinking “You have to push the baby out, or they’re going to take it out!”

I worked on slowing my breathing and pushing when they encouraged me to do so. I felt as if I would never have the baby, and if I did, it wouldn’t be alive. I know that’s dark and awful, but after the fact that the last labor experience I had was a miscarriage, it haunted me.

I pushed and screamed and squeezed my midwives forearm. They told me to continue pushing like that and I continued my cycle of pushing and screaming and squeezing. They told me the head was coming out, and my midwife asked me if I could try a new position, to which I said sure. They turned me onto my side, almost in a sideways bridge position with both feet on the bed with my torso on it’s side and asked me to push again. The baby was out! I felt so relieved, but the baby was blue and sleepy, and they told me it was simply stunned, for it hadn’t spent much time in the birth canal. It had been only 9 minutes since my water had broken! And 45 minutes since they said the heartbeat was irregular! Time is so aloof in labor, it felt like hours.

As they woke the baby, I couldn’t believe it was over. I had had a healthy baby. They held her up to me and I saw that it was a girl. A GIRL! I was so shocked and happy and felt so proud of myself for overcoming a strange labor with mild contractions, a fearful mind, and a husband on an airplane.

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Life Notes

This Week marks 7 weeks of baby Simone being at home. She is a true delight: eating,  sleeping and smiling are her main activities. We obviously have all sorts of nicknames for her already: Princess Peach, peachie, sisi and lil Sim.

 

This week was also my first week at home alone while Erick attending a work conference in Seattle. That meant getting up and getting TWO kids out the door for Jeff's preschool drop off. We were late both days, but only by 5 minutes so I'm considering it a win. 

The weather seems to be warming up, which would be so lovely,  although we've been outside every afternoon anyway, with Jeff playing and Simone sleeping. 

 

We've had a garden for two summers now, and unfortunately I've been pregnant and neaseated for both so I haven't been a strong participant. Looking forward to actually helping with the garden and more importantly actually eating the harvest this year. Does anyone have a good garden layout or plan for vegetables that grow well in New England?

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Thrift Tips & How I save on Shopping

One of the best ways to thrift is to know high quality brands and their price points. Thanks to the internet, you can search right from your phone in the middle of a thrift store to see what something is really worth. I recently purchased a Parisian Longchamp backpack at a consignment store for $22.50—a quick google search would tell me that this retails for $125 at Nordstrom and $142 on Amazon. Conversely, you can get caught up purchasing something for too much if you’re too quick to assume that it’s a good deal, just because it’s at a consignment shop. Search before you buy! And know the brands that you like the style of or find to be of high quality.

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Deb's Deals: December

Lo and behold they were both still there! This doesn't always happen,  as waiting for the discount often means you lose the item to someone else who's already content with the consignment price. I scored B.O.C black leather clogs for $12.00 instead of the $49.95 they retail for on amazon.  They are in New condition, and two hours later I'm already wearing them on a cold December day.

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Week 27: Loving Pregnancy

I recognize that some women don’t receive the opportunity to experience pregnancy, that life is short, and time being pregnant is even shorter in comparison. I have known friends to lose pregnancies, to birth children already in heaven, to care for sick children who pass away, who lose children to accidents. How can I, possibly, in the face of so much loss and heartache complain about heartburn? I choose to remain content, to be thankful for this opportunity, this baby. It is the start of my role as a mother of two, and I need to be flexible and grow as the days bring me closer to that role.

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Easy DIY Pumpkin Spice Latte

I’ve been trying to perfect making lattes at home, partially because they’re so expensive at coffee shops, but also because I can add whatever I want to make them healthier (coconut oil, anyone?). I save my daily latte for an afternoon treat, and usually make it when Jeff is napping. Last year I ventured into making pumpkin spice lattes at home and have whittled it down to this process. It’s not exactly like Starbucks, but without any sugar added (I use maple syrup instead) it’s a pretty decent healthy version—and it even has real pumpkin in it (unlike Starbucks!). Let me know if you have any substitutes or suggestions, I’m still working to perfect this recipe.

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Fear in Pregnancy

The interesting thing is that I've been trying to be positive,  remain hopeful, and overall be thankful this pregnancy. I relish in each symptom, every kick and can't wait to meet the baby growing within me. But try as I may,  fear has taken root in my heart. I thought I had outsmarted it with my thankfulness and faith, but this morning I woke with anxiety so strong, I wasn't sure how to differentiate my dream from reality.  

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I'm Pregnant! June 2018

Really, I can't believe it. 10 months after miscarrying it had become normal to me not to be pregnant. Every passing month wasn't necessarily easy, but it was what life had brought my way and I adapted. Two weeks ago, on a drive up North to close on our condo, I realized I had a still small voice in my head, telling me I couldn't do it. I couldn't get pregnant, and I wouldn't. It was on that drive that I decided to stop that thought, to rebuttal back with "I can and I will!". It was hard to change my mentality, after so many months of accepting that I wasn't pregnant and wasn't holding my baby, it was difficult to even think those little words, but I tried. And maybe it was all for a reason, because maybe my body was already in process of being pregnant.

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DIY: How To Take Passport Pictures at Home

I've always gone to a drug store to get my passport pictures done, "professionally". I was worried that I wouldn't be able to have the right size, spacing or focus to be accepted by the Department of State's Guidelines and that would set me back in the process. But looking over their website I realized that they never specified it had to be a $14.99 photo from Walgreen's, but rather the specifications were mostly regarding size, having a white background and not smiling. 

So, in order to make the process easier (and cheaper!) on myself and my son, I decided to try to do it at home. I quickly grabbed my son one morning, put a fleece on him and zipped it up (he was still in his pajamas lol) and told him that we were going to take a picture so he could go on an airplane. Since he is a toddler boy and obsessed with all moving vehicles, that was enough incentive for my normally camera shy kid. I sat him on a stool adjacent to our kitchen oven and snapped a few shots: 

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DIY: 4 Ingredient Kitchen Cleaner

Making my own cleaning products always appealed to me, but I got the final push the day I saw my toddler son actually lick the countertop on our kitchen island. All I could think about was what he might get in his system as my husband had recently purchased a Clorox cleaner, and I had used it! I tend to buy cleaner products such as 7th generation and method,  but having vinegar and oils on hand already it seemed like the easier and more cost effective option. I buy big bottles of vinegar for under  $2.50 at Aldi, which is far less expensive than natural cleaning sprays, and with far less ingredients. 

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Easy DIY PooPourri!

I'm not a fan of synthetically scented things, perfumes, candles and sprays like febreeze often give me headaches. So when I tried Poo Pourri I was not only impressed with it's natural ingredients but also it's efficacy in our sole bathroom. When I realized I already owned the esential oils in the original citrus scent Poo Pourri, I simply purchased small glass spray bottles and can refill on demand at a fraction of the cost!

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To Teach or Not To Teach

As much as I enjoyed learning, I loathed the schedule. The very schedule I thought would be perfect for a mom, working part time on alternate days. It was hard to keep up with the schedule, I taught in the afternoons, arriving at school around noon. Some weeks it was Monday, Wednesday & Friday and others it was Tuesday & Thursday. I never caught on.  Was I a stay at home mom? Or was I a working mom? Basically I was both and I felt like I couldn't keep up with either job description. Projects, grocery shopping and general housekeeping fell to the wayside as I squeezed in as many mom-like activities with my son on my days off. Other days I rushed out the door frazzled, trying to squeeze in grading, prepping, photocopying and meetings. 

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Aldi Grocery List: What I Buy & How to Save

The wonderful thing about Aldi is it's price point on organic goods. I've been shopping at Aldi for about a year, and avoid going to the "regular" grocery store as often as I can, for fear of spending more on the same items I could buy at Aldi. People have asked me what it is exactly that I buy there, and how much cheaper is it, really? Throughout my time of shopping at Aldi, I discovered that I typically spend about $20-30 less per visit than at other grocery stores, all while buying many of the same items I would typically buy at any other store. In fact, I find that I am more apt to buy all organic at Aldi, whereas at another store I might skimp because of cost.

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5 Things to Know About Aldi

The reason Aldi is so much cheaper and concise is that they don't use brands for food. The foods they offer may very well be from a certain brand, but they are labeled with Aldi brands, similar to Trader Joe's (they are, by the way, owned by the same company as Trader Joe's).  So, for example, you can buy Kind brand granola bars at Target for $3.09, but you can buy the same granola bar branded as an Elevation bar for $2.99. Or Organic Milk for example, a half gallon can be up to $5.49 at my local grocery store, whereas at Aldi, it comes at a price of $2.95. It makes eating organic affordable. 

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How to Create a Perfect Bouquet!

This past weekend I went with my sister and my sister in law to Boston for a fun handmade bouquet class. It was a beautiful spring day here in New England (finally!) and the florist we worked with was so helpful, I can't help but share some of her tips for keeping bouquets beautiful!

We started by going over the flowers we would use to make our bouquets. Included were: 

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Fun Toddler Activities in The San Francisco Bay Area

During my time in the Bay Area I never knew about this gem. I discovered this hack via instagram and found it to be true during my last visit. You don't have to pay for entry into the de Young Museum, rather, you can walk past the admissions desk to the tower and ride the elevator to the observation deck for free. It offers 360 views of the city and the bay, it is stunning!

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Easy Turmeric Tea Recipe

I am a yes (wo)man, especially when it comes to health kicks so of course I opted to try a cup of her tumeric tea when she offered it. I was expecting it to be bitter and strange, as I've only really consumed tumeric in curries, but it was surprisingly sweet and delicious. I felt great afterwards and found myself wanting to refill my mug. During my stay at her house we drank it daily, and since returning home two weeks ago, I haven't stopped yet. I find myself in the routine of making this every morning when I first get up. I like the routine, but mostly I like the way I feel starting each day off on a health kick.

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