Preparing for Birth

I thought I’d share a few of the things I have done during my pregnancies to help prepare for birth, in hopes it may be helpful to others. 🙂

All through pregnancy:

Walked as close to daily as possible

Read up on how birth works, including some positive birth stories

Went to the chiropractor!! (Webster method certified; ask them to work on your ligaments as well as your pelvis/low back to make sure your uterus is positioned optimally to help with baby’s position. I try to go minimum once a month, but I prefer every 2 weeks/whenever I am uncomfortable.)

500-1000mg of vitamin C daily (to strengthen the bag so your water is less likely to break before labor)

Lots of protein (I aim for 70-100 grams from 20 weeks on), leafy greens 5-7 times per week, orange/yellow veggies, mineral rich foods, good fats, etc

The last 4-6 weeks

Process fears and other strong emotions in whatever way works best for you… journaling helps me the most. (This is important as those fears and such can hinder labor, even if they aren’t about the birth specifically.)

Dates daily for the last several weeks (I did Larabars… the dates have been shown to help prepare the cervix)

Olive oil on perineum, to possibly reduce tearing

Squats (half squats are fine too, the main point is strengthening the pelvic floor.) A caution here: don’t go too crazy with pelvic floor exercise as it can actually really slow things down if it’s too strong. Practice relaxing the perineum.

I stretched at least once a day… I picked an “anchor” (with Caleb I stretched while I was in Noah’s room waiting to make sure he was asleep) so that it happened daily. Tailor sit, bend one leg and keep the other one out straight and reach out to it, then do it with the other leg… get on all fours and arch your low back up and down… the main point is that your low back and pelvis are as flexible as possible, so whatever stretches are comfortable and target those areas are good.

I slept! Get as much rest as possible the last weeks especially. You never know when you’ll go into labor and the more rested you are, the better it’ll go.

Practiced relaxing daily… I found the app Expectful really helpful for guided pregnancy meditations. It is pricey though so you may want to find another option… there are other apps and things online.

Read lots of birth affirmations; find your favorites; write them down and read often

Third trimester/red raspberry tea, to nourish and tone the uterus

I took warm (not hot) baths… for relaxing and focusing on baby. This also can help slow labor to help you get rest if needed… I used baths for that with Noah and Caleb.

I tried to spend time daily connecting with my babies–thinking about meeting them, thinking about the cute noises and faces and smells, talking to them, etc. It helps both of you!

It’s also a good idea to refresh on the stages of labor and the signs for each stage right towards the end–I found it helpful, especially in Caleb’s birth, because knowing the signs of which stage I was in, particularly transition, made it so I was able to better work with my body.

If you’re planning a hospital birth (and even if not–transfers happen!), make sure you, your spouse, and anyone else you’ll have knows exactly what you do and don’t want. If they’re pushing something you don’t want, the questions to ask are “is baby okay?” “Is mom okay?” If yes to both, then “why this needed?” You can always refuse. You can ask for a different nurse. You’re in charge. Remember that!

That’s all I can think of at the moment… let me know if you have questions or things to add to the list! 😊

Advertisements

Dinner With 2…

Children, that is.

When were coming to the end of our 6ish weeks of church and freezer/crockpot meals, I was rather concerned that it was “impossible” to make a decent meal at a decent hour. But, I thrive on challenge (even though I moan a lot sometimes lol) and decided I would give it my best shot.

Well, it turns out it is possible… but, like seemingly everything with a toddler and a newborn, it requires quite a bit of strategy and forethought and determination and flexibility. Here’s my current strategy:

Step one: plan simple meals while Caleb cluster feeds at night

Step two: use the Walmart pick up app to shop, also at night. Buy as much pre-prepped as possible… chopped, washed kale, baby carrots and shredded carrots, frozen chopped onions, etc

Step three: have my husband pick it up on the weekend

Step four: start prep as early as possible. Sometimes I chop veggies a few days in advance at night, or during Noah’s nap. I also generally start some part of the meal at around lunch time, like baking sweet potatoes or spaghetti squash, roasting beets, etc.

Step five: start preparing to make dinner about 2 hours before we plan to eat… 1 hour minimum

Step six: secure small children. I wear Caleb (he normally naps around when I make dinner). Noah either cooks with me in his learning tower or I buckle him in his seat and feed him frozen peas or something similarly small, easy, and not too filling. Sometimes he colors, but it doesn’t tend to last very long. This is the part I was most worried about, since there’s really no way to keep Noah with me in the kitchen and he tends to panic when he can’t get to me, so putting him on the porch where he can’t open the door doesn’t work yet. (he’s getting better though… he plays fine alone, but since we lived in a tiny condo most of his life he isn’t used to being away from me)

Step seven: actually cook. Haha. And try to set the table, too. It’s often a bit of a whirlwind (I tend to be a messy cook anyway but it’s another level these days) but somehow we get through. Usually my husband helps with Noah or with the food towards the end, once he’s home.

And he usually does the clean up as well, since Caleb tends to cluster feed from after dinner till past 9 or so, and just because he’s helpful like that. 🙂

And that’s it! Haha. I’m trying to include leafy greens and an orange veggie nearly every evening. And the more veggies the better! I’m working on branching out and cooking with veggies I’m less familiar with, too… for me those have included beet greens, beets, canned artichokes and more. Also just experimenting with different ways to cook the same veggies, like chopping Brussels sprouts finely and sautéing with carrots and red cabbage.

We are working on cutting nightshades out of our diet, at least temporarily, in hopes it’ll help with some health issues we have. And I don’t do well with gluten, so those additional limitations provide extra opportunities to be creative.

Here are some recent meals:

“Ultimate winter salad”–spinach, chicken. roasted beets, candied walnuts, cuties, red onion, goat’s cheese, and homemade balsamic dressing. It was amazing!! I made the dressing and spice mix for the chicken and roasted the beets while Noah napped. I should’ve done the walnuts, too, as I ended up burning the first batch I attempted. 😩

Dijon mustard and spinach chicken, baked sweet potato, roasted Brussels, and riced cauliflower. (I cheated and used frozen riced cauliflower, and the sweet potatoes I baked at lunch time. I think I chopped and tossed the Brussels in oil then too)

Grilled grass fed steak and zucchini, (courtesy of my husband) roasted beets, Brussels, sweet potatoes, onions, and mushrooms. This dinner very successfully met the “mostly plants” rule I’m attempting to adopt!

Creamy lemon asparagus chicken pasta with steamed baby carrots. Used canned chicken breast to make it faster and Noah and Peter zested and juiced the lemons for me.

Pesto chicken with mushrooms, shredded carrots (I bought them that way), chopped spinach and beet greens, and red onion served over baked spaghetti squash. I baked the squash and chopped the greens, onions and mushrooms earlier in the day.

Turkey sausage and veggie stuffed butternut squash. I chopped the zucchini and onion during lunch time and the mushrooms I chopped the day before when I chopped that meal’s mushrooms. I just had to cut the squash and apples in the evening. Then when I was getting started cooking Noah kind of fell/sat on Caleb’s face (Caleb had been chilling on a blanket on the floor), which of course made Caleb cry and Noah started trying to pour salt on everything so I had to move him into the bedroom which made him cry, too, so I turned the food way down and went in bed with both boys… Caleb nursed and I read a book to Noah. My husband got out of the shower shortly after so he saved the day and finished cooking with Noah. 😅 In the end, it turned out amazing and Caleb was okay. Exciting times.

Asian meatballs, steamed broccoli, brown jasmine rice, sautéed carrots, chopped Brussels, and red cabbage. I made the meatballs while Noah was napping.

Motherhood and the News

While I was pregnant with Noah, we were going through one of the craziest elections yet.  And as it narrowed down to the final candidates, I became more and more upset. Both choices, in our opinion, were terrible. And thinking of the possible long term effects of either choice had me shaking in fear. I read a lot about it all, as I agonized over the decision. It was a terrible feeling, sometimes, knowing that I was bringing a child into this mess.

I had him and then, several months later, the votes were cast and we had a new president. That day something sort of snapped in me. I decided I was done.

Done being afraid, done obsessing over the political mess, done allowing these people to rob my joy in my son and in motherhood and, well, in life.

For me, this meant cutting back enormously on what I allowed myself to read and watch. I realized that for me, at this time, being well informed on all the tragedies and potential awful things in the world was only hindering me from doing the things I CAN do, because it was causing me to spiral into anxiety and paralyzing me.

For me, knowing more in this stage of my life does not lead to action. So I chose to shut most of it out and focus on what I can do in this time of my life, which is mainly taking care of my two sons, encouraging and supporting my fellow moms of little ones the best I can right now, making food, and keeping house to the best of my current abilities.

I’m Tired

Pretty much anyone can say that nowadays, in our culture. It’s almost a badge of honor or something. There are so many jokes about needing coffee to wake up and get through the day and so much habitual staying up late.

I’m tired, too. Tired because I haven’t slept through the night in 2 years. Tired because I’m needed all day AND all night except maybe 1 or 2 hours during the evening (and that time is mostly used up preparing for the next day) Tired because even though we go to bed as early as we can (after spending a little bit of time together and preparing for the next day) we’re still getting significantly less sleep than we need. Tired because I don’t get to wake up naturally anymore; I have a nearly 2 year old alarm clock who doesn’t have a snooze button. Tired because generally when my nearly 2 year old naps, my 2 month old doesn’t… so neither do I.

And I don’t drink coffee because it gives me heart palpitations and increases my anxiety. Besides, I’m not low on coffee… I’m low on sleep.

I say all that to just say–if you can sleep, please, please do. Do it for those of us who can’t.

Sleep is so important to our health… emotional, physical, and mental. It’s not something to skip willy nilly. It isn’t a waste of time. It’s healing and restorative and a blessing.

Sure, some people overdo sleep, but I think we mostly have the issue of not getting enough in our culture.

Ugh, that stinks!

Noah just fell and hurt his hands… he was upset until I came and simply noticed his pain—“ouch! You hurt your hands!” Then he was okay again and went off to play.

It’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately; we don’t really want people to lecture us about how to avoid the pain, or tell us why it’s not so bad, or that we’re okay. We just want someone to notice; to really see us. To say, “ugh, that stinks!” And then we can move on from our angst and figure out what to do about the situation. (Unless, of course, we are actually seeking help.)

I wonder why that’s so hard for most of us to do… why do we always try to make it (the noise of their whining, if not their pain) stop or to lecture them? I guess it’s insecurity, in a sense—needing them to be okay so we can be okay. Or needing to fix their problem so we can feel better. But what if they can fix their own problems, after we offer a bit of empathy? What if all they need is a listening ear and maybe shoulder to cry on?

#recentponderings #empathy

Postpartum is…

Cozy moments

Messy hair

Baby squeaks

Breakfast in bed

Bodily fluids in abundance

Sleepy smiles

The full range of emotions

No schedule

A learning curve

Awe over the miracle of new life

Endless thirst

Adjusting expectations

Nourishing your healing body

Asking for help

Pjs all day

Aches and pains

Being needed 24/7

Diaper changes

All kinds of changes

Slow walks around the house

Nursing, and then nursing again… and again

Growing into your new role

A beautiful challenge

It’s life to the fullest, right from your bed.

P.S. to those reading from Facebook, I will not be able to see any likes or comments left on there. (This blog is linked to Facebook so it posts automatically.)

Caleb’s Birth Story!

(Partly written as it happened, and partly written afterwards. Sorry if it’s confusing!)

January 2nd

Woke up around 6:30 because of a rather strong contraction…

Had them all day, not very strong but quite a few strong enough to stop me. They’ve been roughly 10-20 minutes apart, I haven’t been timing.

I cleaned and tidied the house, and then Suki and Leo came over to talk and play. Noah and Leo played the most they have yet, which was really sweet to see.

Noah napped and I showered, cleaned a bit, rested and listened to birth affirmations, and knit.

Brian, Richie’s cousin, and his family came over right as Noah woke up, and they’ve been here since (it’s 7:40 right now). Jenn and Doug and Family came as well. We’ve had a good time… their boys are playing nicely with Noah, and Bella started a lemon squeezing party. She and I made lemonade as well. They all ate Chinese and I ate soup from Mrs. Ursu (I was planning on eating Chinese, but I suddenly worried about accidentally eating gluten and having a stomachache as well as contractions.)

After they left, I finished the green baby hat.

January 3rd

Had a nice warm bath, and then went to bed…slept/rested some and then contractions got strong enough to where I was making noise during them and got out of bed… had the bloody show at about 4:30am.

Stayed up for a little over an hour, timing contractions (8-10 minutes apart, over a minute long), journaling, drinking water, and having a little snack…

Noah woke up and wanted me, so I snuggled him back to sleep and then laid down myself… dozed and rested for almost 2 hours. Contractions got more uncomfortable so I got up and used the bathroom and am sitting in Noah’s room again.

We’re all up and Peter is painting… Noah’s been having a rough time and my contractions are to where I’m moaning through them. This last one I had Noah moaned with me, haha. It’s 10:40 right now.

It’s 11:30am, contractions are spaced out but strong when they come. Mama came, and Emily and Cheryl came and got Noah.

Cathy is coming soon.

12:06, Cathy just got here.

12:30

She checked me and I’m 6cm dilated! His heart rate is steady, and my vitals are good.

Definitely getting to be less fun at this point… they’re about 5 minutes apart and quite strong. I’ve asked Peter to stop painting the bathroom and start helping me through contractions.

Writing this on January 4th now… quite a bit has happened since my last entry!

The contractions rapidly intensified and grew closer together… it freaked me out a little bit and I struggled to stay relaxed and calm (which of course made it more difficult!). Cathy reminded me to focus on my breath, which helped some.

At one point I got ahold of myself and realized that I was probably in transition already and really needed to relax and allow my body to do the work it knew to do. I knew that the more I surrendered to transition, the sooner it would change to pushing… and the sooner I’d meet my baby. I sat in the rocking chair and focused really hard on my breath and on keeping my body relaxed and my thoughts positive. I thought about how strong and capable my body is, and how soon I’d be holding my baby.

That helped tremendously and it was much easier to handle— though, as is usually the case for transition, some of the sensations were quite intense. It was definitely a very conscious effort to surrender to them.

Hannah came when I was in the chair… I told her between contractions (which were one on top of another at this point, so it was hard to say much at a time, haha) that I was pretty sure I was in transition… she mentioned that I was much calmer than last time and I said well, I wasn’t a bit ago, haha.

Not long after she arrived, I felt the contractions change to the expulsive, pushing kind… I could feel him getting even lower and felt the intensity of the contractions move to the top of my uterus. I also noticed that my breathing pattern changed. I told Peter and Hannah to let Cathy know, and she confirmed… I moved to the toilet for a short time, which felt good. They set up a makeshift birthing stool for me, and I transferred to that.

Had to stand up between contractions as much as possible to keep my feet and legs from going numb… once I figured out how to do it carefully it wasn’t too uncomfortable to stand.

After Cathy told me to stop letting my breath out during the contractions (I’d take a deep breath, hold it for a bit while my body pushed, and then take another deep breath and repeat till the contraction ended.), he started moving down and out quickly. It was only after a couple of contractions with me adding a tiny bit of effort that his water broke and he was born! All in one contraction (if I remember right). Peter caught him and he and Cathy untangled him from his cord and handed him to me… they helped me onto the bed (we had a stool and my legs weren’t numb this time so it was way easier!) and I enjoyed looking at my new son. It was a very sweet time and I felt more “in love” right away compared to last time, I assume mostly because with Noah’s birth I was half dead with exhaustion!

Then the placenta was delivered a half hour later, and we had a bit of a scare with bleeding… but thankfully it was over quickly and everything turned out to be fine.

Shortly after that, we successfully latched and he had a good feeding on both sides. This was probably the best part for me, since it was SO very difficult with Noah. (He wasn’t able to latch and feed for days after birth) I was quite hungry this time and had two kinds of soup, cornbread, lots of water, chlorophyll, tea, and some snacks.

Noah came to meet him after we were all cleaned up and stable… I sat on the rocking chair and Peter held Caleb. I snuggled Noah for awhile and we talked about the baby, and then Peter let us hold him… Noah was intrigued and touched him gently. He was a bit unsure what to think, as well. When my sisters were about to leave he started crying because he thought they were taking him… once he snuggled up to me in bed on the other side of me from Caleb he felt better about everything again. 🙂

Here are a few pictures of Caleb today. 😊