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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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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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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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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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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Pregnant With Grief

As I slowly approach what would have been my due date, it still feels like I've been through an entire pregnancy. Turns out, I've been pregnant the entire time, only just with grief. It's almost as if I thought the pain would go away, but instead it grew with me every month that passed during the time I was supposed to be pregnant. What would have been a life is just the shadow of sadness over mine. 

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My Miscarriage Story

It was draining, it was painful, and it was emotionally insane. The strangest part for me was how long it went on. It felt like forever. I was actively bleeding for about 3 hours straight, so much so that I had to remain in the bathroom over the toilet--I really felt like I was going to go crazy in there. You don't really want anyone with you, but you also feel so alone. You literally watch your hopes and dreams go down the drain, and it is beyond upsetting. What's worse is that it seems to be just the beginning of the grieving process, which for me, has taken months to recover from. 

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How To Help Families After the Napa Fires

The recent fires in Northern California have really hit home for me. Having just moved away from the San Francisco Bay Area this time last year, I have so many great memories and friends there. Notably, look at little Jeffy visiting his first Sonoma Vineyard at a mere 6 weeks old:

 
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Interestingly enough, he wasn't the only baby there. That's one of my favorite parts of the California lifestyle, people are so overtly kind and laid back--parents can easily go out to a brewery or winery and bring their baby. Now that's the way to live!

Having so many memories in Napa and Sonoma it is devastating to read the news and see the spread of the fires. Knowing the location of the fires and actually checking with friends to make sure their friends and family were safe was an eerie feeling. When disasters happen it can be hard to feel the impact of it, we are quick to feel sorry for what has happened, but often just as quick to go back to our everyday lives. This one felt so real for me, perhaps more upsetting to me than hurricane Maria that hit Puerto Rico, even though their devastation may have been worse (it was).

It's upsetting enough to think so many people lost their homes, but it's worse to consider 23 people lost their lives. A friend of mine recounted that one of the strangest things about visiting Napa after the fires was to see entire neighborhoods burnt down, with only washing machines and dryers remaining as evidence of the homes that were once there. 

For more pictures of the aftermath of the fires click  h   ere

For more pictures of the aftermath of the fires click here

This was a neighboring place for me, a place I went when friends were in town visiting, a place people escape to for Honeymoons and Anniversaries, a place where families live. During my time in the Bay Area I was part of a mother's club and sought both information and friendship through this club as I began my journey of motherhood. The Petaluma Mother's Club taught me so many things about motherhood, I loved their holistic and crunchy take on motherhood. They are collecting donations of gift cards to distribute to displaced families through the end of 2017. This is one way to give to local families, even from afar! 

The Petaluma Mother's Club is accepting donations of gift cards to help with local families who have been evacuated or affected in some way from the recent fires. Click here to access more information on their website or send gift cards electronically to service@petalumamothersclub.org 

Please consider helping these families as they regroup after a difficult time. 

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Reflecting on Las Vegas: How Can We Instill Kindess In Our Children

When I first heard the news about the Las Vegas shooting I initially tried to ignore it. It seems as though something awful and impactful occurs regularly now, and it's really starting to become overwhelming emotionally. It's as if I thought that maybe if I just pretended I didn't know about it, maybe it wouldn't have happened. But upon returning home from work, I sat down to read the news. I felt so sad for the families affected, sorry for our culture that hate and violence have continued to occur, and afraid for the world our children are growing up in. I have so many questions on my mind: Who has this much hate in their heart? Why is anyone allowed to own that many guns? Why are these bump stock devices legal and allowed on rifles anyway?  What kind of world are we bringing our children into? and will it ever get better? 

What's happened in Las Vegas doesn't seem like it could be real life. To hurt more than 500 people and murder 58 all in the span of 15 minutes seems inconceivable and so very terrifying. There are so many things that concern me regarding this shooting, amongst the many others we've had in the U.S in recent years, but the biggest question that I think needs addressing is why do these events continue to occur? It's not all about the guns (don't worry I know the guns are a big part of the problem, I'm just saying something else is off producing people who stockpile guns and ammo and pull the trigger.)

 
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So what can we do to make the World a better place? We can continue to love our children, teach them how to be respectful humans who value the life of other people and show that same love and kindness towards others. When I was a child there was a song in Sunday School that always confused me. It was titled "JOY" and stood for "Jesus, Others, You". As a child I thought it was strange to put many people ahead of myself, it was almost as if my childlike mind couldn't understand the concept. But as an adult I can see the value in that lesson, that although we are naturally inclined to be selfish and think about our own desires, it is important to consider others to create a more peaceful and loving world. 

It doesn't happen on it's own and it doesn't happen at school. Raising a respectful human being begins at home. How do we show our children a love so great that they are able to go out into the world and share it? It takes selfless and dedicated parents to raise respectful children and foster an attitude of caring and helpfulness. It stems out of considering others before ourselves. We have to put aside some of our own selfish ideals in order to consider our children first. Maybe we want to watch a movie or go on our phone when we could be reading stories to our children. Maybe we'd rather eat dinner in front of the television instead of sitting at the table and communicating with our kids. But we need to lay down our selfish ambitions along with our phone from time to time and just be with our children. Watch them play, listen to their mumblings. It takes a great amount of patience, consideration and above all, time. But listen to your children, treat them with dignity and respect, and demonstrate what it is to be kind. 

Children copy what they see, and develop in how they are treated. We don't need to offer them the world, rather we should show them how to function properly and successfully in the world. Kindness and respect are far more important of a gift to our children than the newest scooter or coolest toy. How we treat others and how we work to develop care and consideration in our family culture has a lot to do with creating a better and happier culture. If we consider kindness, maybe we will be able to reach those who are hurting, and help to make these tragic events fewer and further between. And maybe I'm just a dreamer thinking this could help, but it's worth a shot and I'm willing to try. 

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