Friday, January 16, 2015

Cookies For Milk


 Before Christmas, I posted a picture on Instagram of some lactation cookies I made and I've had quite a few people ask me for the recipe I used...so today I'm finally getting around to sharing it!

For those of you not familiar with lactation cookies (because I know I definitely wasn't before having a baby), they're basically just normal cookies with a few added ingredients that are supposed to help increase a nursing mom's milk supply. I originally looked for a recipe for these cookies when Henry was having issues gaining weight. I assumed that I most likely just had low milk supply, and so I was looking to do anything I could to help increase it, especially if it involved baking a batch of cookies! (However, as I shared in his one month update yesterday, we eventually found out that he had a tongue tie/lip tie which is what was likely causing the lack of weight gain!)

The ingredients in these cookies that are supposed to help boost your milk supply are the oatmeal, the flaxseed meal, and the brewers yeast. From what I've read, brewers yeast seems to be the most crucial ingredient, so be sure not to leave that out and also be sure you're getting the right type of yeast, as there are other kinds out there. (FYI: I found my brewers yeast at Whole Foods, but I'm sure other speciality food stores/home brewery stores carry it as well)

As far as taste goes, these cookies honestly just taste like normal oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and they're SO good! Both Cam and my mom have eaten quite a few of them and seem to enjoy them just as much as I do...even though they're obviously not lactating, ha! :)


Granted, I can't really say just how much these cookies actually do to increase milk supply. I'm sure everyone may have different results, so who knows whether the ingredients really do make a big difference in the amount of milk you're making or whether it's just a placebo effect that's all in your head. Either way, I definitely think they're worth making for this reason alone - breastfeeding is a LOT of work and it totally deserves a batch of delicious cookies! Plus, it also makes you pretty hungry all the time and so these guys make a great little snack (that you can eat one-handed!) any time of day.

 Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Lactation Cookies
Recipe adapted from: Just Mommies

Ingredients
3 cups of oatmeal (steel-cut or old-fashioned)
2 cups of all-purpose flour
1 and 1/2 cups of brown sugar
1 (12 oz) bag of chocolate chips
1 cup of butter, softened
2 eggs
4 tablespoons of water 
3 tablespoons of brewers yeast
2 tablespoons of flaxseed meal
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 teaspoon of salt 
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of baking soda

Forgot to include the salt in this picture...whoops!
Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
2. Mix together the flaxseed meal and water, and then set aside for 3-5 minutes. 
3. Cream butter and brown sugar together until light and fluffy. 
4. Add eggs one at a time and mix until blended. 
5. Stir flaxseed mixture and add with vanilla to the butter mix. Beat until blended. 
6. Sift together dry ingredients, except oats and chips. 
7. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture and mix until fully incorporated.
 8. Stir in oats, and then stir in chocolate chips. 
9. Scoop or spoon cookie dough onto baking sheet.

10. Bake for 10-12 minutes, depending on size of cookies. 
 Makes approximately 3-4 dozen cookies. 

I was going to wait to share this recipe with a post about my experience with breastfeeding. However, right now we're still in the thick of getting the hang of things and so I feel it's way too premature to talk about it just yet. But because I love these cookies so much, I wanted to go ahead and share this recipe ASAP for my fellow nursing mamas out there. I'd highly suggest giving these cookies a try, and if you're going to visit a nursing mom, these could be a great gift to bring along!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Henry // One Month

Before Henry was born, I was really consistent with sharing "bumpdates" and it was a lot of fun to keep track of all the changes throughout my pregnancy. Now that he's here, I decided that I'm going to do monthly updates so I can keep track of his progress as he grows! He seems like he's changing so much every day, so I know it will be fun to look back on these in the future.


Henry turned one month old on January 8th, and I really can't believe how quickly that first month flew by! That was the day I took these photos, but I'm still trying to figure out the format I want to use for these monthly pictures so included a few different ones this time. My plan is to sit down and write out one of these updates each time he turns another month older, and then I'll plan on sharing it a few days later...once I've had time to actually finish it and upload the photos that is! :)

So without further adieu, here's what our little Henry boy was up to at one month old...


Height:
He was 21.5'' when he was born and it definitely seems like he's grown some but we won't know for sure until his two month appointment next month.
  
Weight:
This has been the biggest challenge during the first month...basically Henry was a big boy when he was born at 9lbs 8.7oz, and he had lost about 7% of his birth weight when we left the hospital, which is pretty normal. However, when we took him for his first pediatrician appointment 2 days later, he had lost more weight and was down to 10% below his birth weight...so that was somewhat concerning. We saw a lactation consultant during that first week, and at his two week pediatrician appointment he was back up to 9lbs 3oz. Even though he was not quite back up to his birth weight, the pediatrician was happy his weight was going up and seemed to think things were all good. However, I still had a sneaking suspicion something was still not right. We went back to see the lactation consultant when he was 3 weeks old, and sure enough, he had hardly gained any weight over that past week. However, we've since figured out what was causing the issue and I'm happy to report that he is now on the right track with gaining weight! We had another lactation consultant appointment last week (so the day before he turned a month old) and he was weighing in at 10lbs 1.8oz...so definite progress! :)

Health: 
After his brief stay in the NICU on the day he was born, Henry has been a pretty healthy boy! At 3 weeks old, we discovered that the issue with his weight gain was actually being caused by a tongue tie/lip tie that was preventing him from breastfeeding properly. This is a somewhat common issue, and I was happy that we were able to catch it so early. He had a frenotomy to correct the tongue/lip tie on Friday January 2nd, and it's made a huge difference in his ability to breastfeed. Other than that little hiccup, he's doing really great...although he does get the hiccups here and there! He also seems to have some gas sometimes that tends to bother him in the evenings. He has started to get a little bit of baby acne, but has managed to keep pretty much all of the hair he was born with so far!

Likes:
Mornings (that's usually when he's the happiest!), looking at our Christmas tree, riding in the car, being in his swing, taking baths, listening to music, going for walks, being held, and snuggling in bed with his mom and dad...he is a very cuddly little baby!

Dislikes:
Being hungry, having his diaper changed, sleeping in his bassinet, and bright lights.

Wears:
Before he was born, I (and most of the people who attended my shower) had a feeling he was going to be a big baby and so we really didn't have too many newborn clothes. So I was pretty surprised when he ended up fitting into primarily newborn stuff for the first few weeks! (Thankfully my sister-in-law had a bunch of newborn stuff she let us borrow to help tide us over!) Around 3 weeks, he started fitting into more of his 0-3 month clothing and that's all he's wearing now. He also wore newborn diapers in the beginning as well, but we switched him to size 1 diapers around 3 weeks as well.

Eats:
100% breastmilk, with the exception of the handful of formula bottles we had to supplement with back when we had some concerns about his weight gain.
 
Sleeps:
We're still working on this :) For the first two weeks after he was born, my mom was staying with us so she would often stay up and hold him in the middle of the night/early morning so we could get some more sleep, and that was a huge help. But I was still getting up to feed him (and then usually pumping after) at least every three hours, so it's not like we were getting a ton of sleep...but I don't think anyone does the first month just because newborns have to eat more frequently. And because we've been so focused on making sure he's been gaining weight this first month, I've been doing a lot of on demand feedings and so his sleeping seems to change from day to day. Sometimes he'll be really awake between feedings, other times he'll take short cat naps, and then sometimes he'll really pass out for a longer nap. He'll usually take 1-2 long naps during the day at some point and thankfully this usually happens when we put him in the car to go somewhere. At night, sometimes he'll go 3-5 hour stretches, but other times he'll wake up every 1-2 hours. And he's not a fan of sleeping in his bassinet yet as it seems like he'd much prefer to be in bed with us! I'm not crazy about this since I'd really love to be able to put him down in his bassinet in between feedings at night, but I have to keep reminding myself that he's only a month old :)

Favorite Things: 
I'm planning on doing some more in-depth posts down the road with links/details for some of our favorite baby gear items, but a few things we've loved so far this first month have been footie pajamas (especially the ones with zippers, which he's wearing in the photos!), little baby hats (seriously the cutest thing ever), soothie pacifiers, pacifier leashes, our Solly Baby wrap, and our combo swing/bouncy seat.

Milestones:
 -His umbilical cord stump fell off when he was 8 days old
-Had newborn photos taken when he was 9 days old (and I'll be sharing those soon!)
-He got his first tub bath when he was almost 2 weeks old
-On Christmas Eve, he rolled from his tummy to his back twice in a row! But he hasn't done this since, so I'm thinking it may have been a fluke...
-He celebrated his first Christmas :)
-Went for his first walk in the stroller on New Year's Day
-In this first month, he hasn't smiled for us yet but he does smile a lot randomly throughout the day and when he's sleeping and it's SO cute...I can't wait until he starts doing it on purpose!
-Also, his hair is still brown like it was when he was born (and it loves to stick out all over the place which is pretty adorable) and his eyes are still a dark gray blue...but we're curious to see if either will change as he gets older!


The fact that he's already a month old is bittersweet; it feels like time is already passing so quickly, but it's also so exciting to watch him grow and learn new things. We just love this little guy so much!


Monday, January 12, 2015

Style // Golden Globes Fashion Favorites

Happy Monday everyone! 

Although I will have quite a few baby-related posts coming your way this month, they're not all going to be like that...and to prove it, I thought I'd start this week off by sharing my picks for best-dressed from last night's Golden Globe Awards! I saw lots of people on social media complaining about how lackluster they thought last night's showing on the red carpet was. I personally wasn't blown away by most of the choices, but overall, I didn't think the fashion was terrible. 

Here are the ladies whose looks stood out from the crowd for me last night: 

I think everyone can agree that Jennifer Lopez (in Zuhair Murad) WON the Golden Globes last night...this look is perfection. The dress is amazing on her and the fact that she's 45 is insane.

I am a big fan of Emma Stone and I typically like her style. But I loved this amazing Lanvin pantsuit, I just thought it was such a great, fashion-forward choice that fit her personality. Also, I definitely LOL-ed at Tina and Amy's 'Big Eyes' joke about Emma, ha!

Silver dresses were huge last night, but this Chanel gown on Dakota Johnson was my favorite!

 Red dresses were another trend and I loved this beaded Armani Prive on Allison Williams.

Sienna Miller in Miu Miu

Naomi Watts in Gucci

 Anna Ferris in Reem Acra

 Amy Adams in Versace

All images via US Weekly

I did watch the show and was it just me or did everyone look like they had done some intense spray tanning before? (I know it's Hollywood, but geez!) Also, I feel like it must have been really hot in the room or something because everyone looked like they could have used a blotting paper or a little powder touch-up before going on stage. (Not trying to be critical, I just kept noticing it!) And although I love Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, I thought they were just ok this year. My favorite part of the show was George Clooney's speech and his sweet shoutout to his new wife!

But as far as movies, I'm super out of the loop this awards season! Cameron and I love going to the movies and we normally try to go see a bunch of the films that are generating buzz at the time of the year. But since Henry was born, we haven't a chance to go at all and so I haven't seen any of the nominated movies! (And it might be a little while before we'll get to go since he's still nursing pretty frequently!) But with how fast things go to DVD these days, it won't be long before I can rent them and watch from my couch :)

So tell me...
What movies have you seen and enjoyed lately?
Who was your favorite on the GG red carpet last night?

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Henry's Birth Story

Happy New Year everyone! (Albeit slightly belated...)
I hope you had a wonderful holiday season :)

The past few weeks have been a little surreal - we've been adjusting to life with a newborn and basically hibernating at home, enjoying the Christmas season. However, we put away the decorations this past weekend, Cameron headed back to work this week after being home for almost a month (which was awesome!), and now we're attempting to get in to our new "normal" routine.

I'm definitely feeling inspired as far as blogging goes, there are so many things I'm looking forward to sharing! (And it's not all baby related either...) But when I sat down to think about what I wanted my first post of 2015 to be, I couldn't think of anything more fitting than Henry's birth story! And since he is one month old TODAY (fastest month ever, seriously) it seemed like perfect timing :)

To be honest though, I did debate a little bit over the past few weeks about whether or not this was something I wanted to share here on my blog or not. Obviously, it's a very personal experience and it keeping it to myself would be totally understandable. However, one of the things I've enjoyed most about blogging for the past five years (so crazy to me that I've been doing this for that long!) is the sense of community I've discovered. I know that for me personally, I love reading other people's birth stories and really got a lot out of reading them both before and during my pregnancy. Henry's birth was an incredibly intense experience for me and has definitely had a huge impact on me as a person. And so after thinking about it, I decided that it is definitely something I wanted to post about. This blog has been a really special way for me to document so many major life experiences and so I'm excited to share the beginning of this next chapter here today!

Disclaimer: First, this post is long...like embarrassingly, unnecessarily long because I didn't want to leave anything out...so don't say you weren't warned! Second, I felt it was important to be completely honest about my experience...so if you don't want to know specifics, you may want to skip today's post ;) Finally, if you're pregnant...read at your own risk. When I was pregnant, I feel I got a lot of value out of reading very positive birth stories that made me feel empowered vs. scared about the experience. And although I would describe my overall birth experience as positive, it was definitely not all sunshine and rainbows.  So if you're pregnant and trying to avoid things that might make you nervous about labor, maybe skip it? But it definitely has a happy ending! :)

*****************

 First things first, I was fortunate to have a really great, easy pregnancy right up until the day I went into labor. I know a lot of people get to that point where they're just over being pregnant and just want the baby to get out...but I really never got there. I was kind of the opposite actually and as much as I was excited to meet the baby, I was also a little sad about my pregnancy being over because it had been such a happy time and I felt really great.



I personally did not want the baby to come early. I was really busy with work in November and felt like I hadn't had the chance to tie up a lot of loose ends I wanted to take care of before his arrival, and so I really did not want him to come before his due date. My last day of work was the day before Thanksgiving, and then my family was in town for the holiday and so I really wanted to enjoy that and then have a few days to transition into baby mode. So that first week of December, I was officially on maternity leave and started to transition into baby mode. I slept in, made some last minute Target runs with my mom, and Cameron and I finally finished the nursery.
 
On Thursday Dec. 4th, which was my due date, I had my 40 week appointment with the midwife, which was actually my final group appointment. Throughout my pregnancy, I had opted for the majority of my prenatal appointments to be group appointments where I'd go in for a two-hour session with the midwife along with a bunch of other expectant moms vs. having an individual appointment. The first part of the session would almost be more like a class where the midwife would talk about various pregnancy-related topics, and then the second half of the appointment each person would get time alone with the midwife for a short individual exam, and then while you're waiting, us preggos would all get to chat about whatever material we covered in the first part of the appointment. (Also, I've received some questions on my thoughts on how I liked having a midwife, and so I'm actually thinking to do a more in-depth post about my choices for prenatal care if anyone is interested!) Anyway, there were two other first-time moms-to-be in my group appointments who were both due within one day of me. When I went to my appointment on Dec. 4th, I was pretty surprised to hear that the one had already had her baby and the other was in the hospital pushing while our appointment was going on! I thought most first time babies were late, so hearing that news kind of made a light bulb go off for me where I suddenly felt like ok baby, let's get this show on the road already!

When the midwife checked me at that appointment, she said I was already 3 cms dilated, 80% effaced, the baby was super low in my pelvis, and that she would expect him to come at any time now. She did sweep my membranes at that appointment, which I hoped would get labor started ASAP. Because I was seeing the hospital midwives, it's actually a group of people vs. one specific person, so that meant whoever was on shift when I went into labor would be the one that would deliver the baby. I didn't have a problem with that because I had a seen a few of the different midwives throughout my pregnancy and they all share a very similar philosophy when it comes to care and their approach during labor. However, I had spent the most time with the midwife who was running my group appointments and really liked her a lot. She let me know at that 40 week appointment that she would be on shift that Sunday, but that she would be surprised if I didn't have the baby before then. 

The next day (Friday 12/5), I felt like I was finally fully in the mindset of wanting the baby to come. I had brunch with my friends, photographed the nursery, got a pedicure with my mom...and waited. I hadn't really been having much in the way of Braxton Hicks contractions though, so I wasn't too sure if labor would start soon or if I still had weeks to go. Saturday morning, my mucous plug came out (gross I know, but like I said, I wanted to share the full story so I don't forget how this happened for next time!) which made me excited and I wanted to keep encouraging any signs of labor. We went for a walk, I ate a bunch of pineapple, but still no sign of baby!

Sunday morning (12/7), I was starting to feel a little annoyed that I still hadn't gone into labor yet...but around mid-morning, I started having some irregular contractions. I wasn't sure if it was anything I should pay attention to or not, so I took a shower and thought we'd plan to do some more walking. Since my parents were still in town, we decided to head up to Mt. Tabor. Not only is a beautiful park, but with all the hills I'd heard of it being nicknamed "Mt. Labor" so I figured it was worth a shot! While we were walking, my contractions started getting more regular and intense, but I didn't want to say anything and make my parents freak out and tell me I needed to get to the hospital in case it was just a false alarm. But I told Cam that I thought this could finally be happening, and so we thought having a good meal before what could be a long night was the best plan. We decided to go to a brewery here in Portland that we hadn't taken my parents to yet, and my contractions started getting stronger. By the end of the meal, I was awkwardly standing next to our table because it was uncomfortable for me to sit down and I knew that we needed to get home and start timing contractions.

I made Cam take these final bump pics between contractions before we left for the hospital :)
When we got home, it was around 4pm and my contractions were about 3-4 minutes apart and approximately a minute or so long. They were uncomfortable but nothing that I couldn't get through, and I knew I wanted to stay at home as long as I possibly could. So I walked around, sat on the stability ball, and kept timing. We did call the hospital to let the midwife know that I was in labor, and she said that since I was doing well handling contractions at home to just stay there and come in whenever I felt ready. After a few hours, my contractions started getting stronger and closer together (still about 1 minute long but between 2-3 minutes apart) and I started feeling like we should get ready to head to the hospital. We left our house around 7:30 or so, and made it to the hospital quickly since we only live about 10 minutes away. We'd driven there so many times for prenatal classes and appointments that it was a little surreal to actually be there because I was in labor!

When we got there, I had a few contractions walking in where I had to stop and pause until the contraction was over before I could keep walking, but overall, I was still feeling pretty good. Once we got in the hospital, the first step was going to triage so they could check to make sure that I was actually in labor before I'd get admitted. I was really hoping that all those contractions at home had helped make some progress! When we got to triage, I changed into a hospital gown and they hooked me up to some monitors to check my contractions, along with how the baby was handling them. It was definitely a little uncomfortable being hooked up to monitors in the little triage room while having contractions and it made me glad that we didn't wait any longer to go to the hospital. The hospital we went to is also a university, and so medical students are also involved in the process. After I was hooked up to the monitors, one of the midwifery students came to introduce herself and check my progress. When she told me I was already 6cms dilated and definitely in labor, I was excited!


Some time after that, the midwife came in the triage room and since it was Sunday, it was the midwife from my group appointments! I was so pumped that the person who I had gotten to know best during my pregnancy was going to be the one to deliver our baby. She said they were getting my room set up and that even though I wasn't planning on having a water birth, they would still bring the water birth tub into my room so I could labor in there vs. trying to have to use the smaller bathtub if I wanted to get in the water during contractions. She and the student midwife seemed really impressed with how I was handling the contractions that happened while I was in triage. I was pretty surprised that when the contractions came, instead of being loud (which is what I thought my reaction would be, ha!) I got really silent and turned my focus inward to get through each one. One of the things that our instructor used to tell us in prenatal yoga when we would do more challenging poses is that "you can do anything for a minute" and so I just kept telling myself that until each contraction passed!


After that, Cam and I went down the hall to get set up in the room where our baby would be born. We met our nurse who was on shift, and she was really sweet and nice, which made me glad because one of my potential concern about labor was having a nurse who I didn't click well with. I gave them the birth plan I had written out, and the nurse and the midwives reviewed it with me. We talked about my preferences for labor as far as being offered pain medication, and I let them know that I knew my options but that I wanted to have a natural birth if possible. I asked them not to offer those interventions to me during labor, but if I changed my mind, I would ask. Everything was going smoothly and so I opted to do intermittent monitoring so that way I would have more freedom to move around. I was drinking water and feeling good and so they said that getting an IV was optional, and so I decided not to. After getting settled in, I felt like I was doing fine and so the midwife and midwife student left the room, the nurse came to check on me periodically, and it gave Cameron and I had some quiet time to relax a little...through contractions of course!



At some point, I had Cam turn Christmas music on Pandora and that was pretty soothing. I spent some time on the bed as well as moving around the room, sitting on the stability ball, etc. as the contractions kept coming. A little while later, I decided I was ready to get in the tub and so the nurse started getting that ready for me. The contractions were getting stronger and I was eager to get in the water, but unfortunately the water was a little too hot so the nurse kept working to bring the water temp down. After what seemed like forever, the tub was finally ready! (I'm have no idea exactly what time it was by then, but I'm guessing it must have been around 11pm or so at this point?) Getting in the water felt so good, especially because the contractions were getting more intense. I tried my best to just relax into the water while listening to the Christmas music...and in between the contractions, it was actually kind of nice! My nurse was really great about checking in on us, but I really enjoyed that she gave us some space so Cam and I could have a little time alone. After awhile, the contractions were getting more and more intense and I wanted to see how much longer until I could start pushing. I remember telling the nurse that I wanted to get out of the tub at 1am and have the midwife check me to see how much progress I had made. I remember telling myself in my mind if had made it to at least 8cms when they checked me that I could make it the rest of the way without getting an epidural. So I got out of the tub...and after that, my memories start to get a little bit more hazy...

This is the last photo from before our son was born (sorry if it's TMI)...and it was pretty much the turning point in my labor where things started to get way more intense and I did not want ANY photos taken :)
The contractions seemed much more painful once I got out of the water, but I got settled on the bed and the midwife came to check my progress. Sure enough, I was at 8cm...so that confirmed my original decision of not getting an epidural because I remember thinking, I'm almost there and it won't be much longer until the baby is born! I wanted to get back in the tub to keep laboring, but the midwife said that since I wasn't planning on actually giving birth in the water that it would probably be best to stay out of the water until I could start pushing. I feel like I can barely remember the period of time where I went from 8cms to 10cms; I know the contractions were intense, but I feel like it must have gone kind of quickly? At some point when the midwives checked me, my water broke while they were checking me, but I barely even felt it happening. (Cam said he thought it broke when they checked me and I was at 8cms, but honestly things were kind of a blur at this point!)

However, when my water did break, they noticed that there was some meconium in the fluid and so there was some concern that the baby may swallow some before he came out. They let me know that as a precaution, the pediatric team would be present when he was born just to make sure everything was ok. I honestly wasn't concerned because they made it seem like no big deal, and at that point, I was starting to be in a lot more pain and so all I was thinking about was pushing the baby out. Eventually though, I did get to 10cms and it was time to start pushing! I tried pushing in quite a few different positions, including in the bathroom. In all our labor classes, they said a lot of people liked to spend some time pushing in the bathroom because it's easier for your brain to let go and bear down...however, I remember hating pushing in there and it made me feel really panicky. I tried pushing in a few different modified squat positions on the bed, but eventually wound up pushing on my back, mainly because this position allowed me the greatest chance to rest between the contractions.

After I had been pushing for awhile, I wasn't making much progress. The midwives checked me again and realized that although the baby was head down, it turned out that his body was slightly tilted to one side. They also realized that there was one edge of my cervix that was still not completely effaced and so his head was getting kind of caught up on that when I pushed. At this point, the midwife wanted to get him into a better position and she thought it would be best for me to lay on my left side for a half an hour to try to use the pull of gravity on his back to try to get him to rotate into the correct position. This would also get his head into a better position to efface the remaining cervix so I could push him out. However, I was already 10cms dilated and in a lot of pain so the idea of just laying still for a half hour sounded torturous.

I remember being in so much pain that I was having trouble speaking or thinking straight, but I do know that an epidural was brought up around this time. I was told that it was still an option for me even though I was fully dilated. However, I didn't even have an IV in and so the thought of having to wait for the anaesthesiologist and sit still for that sounded worse than just sticking it out. The midwife suggested we try having me lay on my side for just a half hour and if that didn't do it, then we would talk about how to manage the pain if it was going to take longer to get him in the correct position. I honestly wanted to say that I just wanted to have a C-section at that point because that's how bad I felt, but I literally couldn't even get the words out because I felt so terrible. So I laid there through each contraction. At this point, I was not being quiet any more but I was literally screaming through each one. (Also, my Christmas Pandora was still playing the background while this was going on and I definitely should have told someone to turn it off. Pretty sure the entire soundtrack to the Nutcracker played while I was in the worst pain of my life...not ideal, ha!)

After what felt like forever, a half hour had passed. The midwife checked me again and was happy with the progress that had been made with the baby's position, and so it was time to start pushing again. I was really tired and so the midwife actually had me start pushing in the position in was in, laying on my side. And then...things got ugly. Each time I went to push, I ended up involuntarily throwing up. It was really awful. I hadn't eaten for hours at this point, but apparently it didn't matter because I just kept puking. And puking. It takes a little while to get the hang of pushing when you've never done it before, and so when I would start pushing and then puke, it would really break my concentration and so I wasn't making much progress with my pushes at all. The midwives and my nurse were so amazing at just staying calm and bringing fresh pillows and towels and trying to clean me up in between pushes, but man, it was disgusting. I remember looking at the clock and seeing it was some time early Monday morning, but it felt like I was in a time warp. I was worried about how much time was going by, as well as how much longer this was going to take.

At some point, I rolled onto my back and started pushing in that position. This is when they could see the baby's head, and everyone acted really excited. (I did reach down and could feel the top of his head and that was super weird!) I remember thinking that if only the top of his head was visible and I was already in this much pain, I didn't know how I was going to get him out. I would push and some more of his head would be visible...and then it would go back in...basically it seemed like one step forward, two steps back. After pushing and pushing, I remember the midwife having the nurse call in the pediatric team because she said the baby would be out within the next half hour. I was literally in so much pain I felt like I was going to blackout so the thought of doing this for another half hour sounded unbearable.

At the end of labor, I remember feeling scared. I was in so much pain and just really thought he was never going to come out. I think the fear made me kind of panicky so when I pushed, I wouldn't sustain the pushes for long enough and so they weren't very effective. Honestly, at that point I really did not think I could do it. However, I just kept thinking about how the sooner this could be over, the sooner we'd get to see our son. Eventually I tried pushing into the pain as hard as I could to just get it over with already, and I think that's when I really started making progress. At this point, there were a bunch of people in the room and I knew he was almost out. My legs were up in the air and being supported by Cam on one side and the nurse on the other and so I just gave a few more big pushes. They helped pull my legs back even further towards my head, and then all the sudden the baby's head came out! The midwife was the one that delivered him and once his head was out, she helped maneuver his shoulders out. (Or so I was told because I was completely out of it at this point and didn't even realize this was happening) And so at 5:39am on Monday 12/8, our son Henry was born!


Feeling his body finally come out after all that pain and exertion was a feeling unlike any other. It was a huge sense of relief and I couldn't believe I did it! However, when his head came out, the midwife realized that the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck, and so that's why she helped get the rest of his body out as quickly as possible. Once he came out, the midwife handed him right over to the pediatrician and I only caught a glimpse of him for a split second before he was taken across the room, and I just remember seeing that he had a lot of hair! Because the cord was wrapped around his neck, they had to cut it right away (I didn't even realize this was happening at the time because they did it so quickly) I guess he was doing more grunting instead of crying when he came out and because they already had concerns about him swallowing meconium, that's why they had to take him over to the little warming table across the room from my bed to make sure his breathing was stabilized.

And that's when the feelings of relief I had over him being out were instantly replaced with concern over whether or not he was ok. When he came out, I was basically delirious from having been in so much pain and it seemed like everything happened really, really fast and so it's tough to remember exactly what happened and when it happened. I know Cam was over by the pediatricians and taking some photos in those first few minutes after he was born, while I was just laying there waiting for them to bring me my baby. (I asked Cam about what was happening during this time because I was so out of it I barely remember anything. He said I just kept asking over and over again if the baby was ok and kept saying that I just wanted him to be ok) According to the time stamps on the photos on my iPhone, they did bring him over to me for me to see him less than 10 minutes after he was born and I finally got to get a better look at him. I remember thinking he was so cute and I was surprised that I instantly saw resemblance to my family in his face. (I actually initially thought that that he looked kind of like baby pictures I had seen of my sister) But I didn't get to hold him yet as they still needed to make sure his breathing was under control.

Cam took these right after he was born :)
As this point, I can't remember if Henry was still in the room or if they took him across the hall, but I know that pediatricians were taking the necessary steps to ensure that he was breathing ok. While this was going on, the midwife and midwife student worked quickly to get my placenta out. This was super annoying since instead of cuddling my baby while that was happening, he was apart from me and I had nothing to do other than focus the how uncomfortable what they were doing was. Delivering the placenta isn't painful compared to delivering the baby, but having them kneed on my stomach to make sure it came out quickly wasn't the most pleasant experience either.
 
However, finally, finally, they brought my baby back over to me and I got to hold him for the first time. (According to my iPhone photos, this was just under an hour after he was born)  I know that everyone tells you it's an emotional moment, but nothing can really prepare you for it! This little person had been growing inside me all these months and now he was here! It's so weird because it's like I already knew him, yet I wanted to just hold him and study every inch of his perfect little body. And really, he wasn't that little! He was 9lbs, 8.7oz and 21.5 inches long and I was sort of in disbelief that I had just pushed him out, ha! He had a little hat on but he had a ton of hair and just looked so cute. (I realize now looking back at the pictures that he also had a little thing over his nose when I held him to help with his breathing but I honestly didn't even notice it at the time) I had wondered what he'd be like for the past 9 months, but holding him in my arms in a way it was just like I had already known him all my life. I just remember snuggling him and bawling my eyes out because I was so happy he was born. (Pro tip: Don't wear mascara when you're having a baby or if you do, make sure it's waterproof...I definitely didn't get the memo on this, ha!)



After I got to hold him for a few minutes, they had to take him across the hall to get him ready to go to the NICU, since they wanted to continue to monitor him. It was definitely sad...but I was also so worn out that point, plus I wanted to make sure that he was healthy. Also, despite his birth being really hard, I made it through relatively unscathed and only had to get two small stiches after he was born. I was super thankful about that since I know things could have been much worse given that he was such a big baby :) And it was actually worked out really, really well because Henry was born at 5:39am and both my nurse and the midwives were going off shift at 7am that morning. The fact that they were able to be there through my whole labor, his birth, and to make sure everything was stabilized afterwards really meant so much to me. They were all so incredibly amazing and really made me feel like I could do it when I didn't believe in myself. They were kind, calm, patient, and caring and made me feel like I was strong, even at my weakest point. It was especially meaningful to have my midwife, Elizabeth (on my left in the photo below), who I had gotten to know over my pregnancy, be the one to deliver our son. I can't ever really put into words how much I appreciate her (and the midwife student and my nurse) for really getting me through the most intense experience of my life, and I honestly don't think I could have done it without their support.



Not long after he was born, Cam went down to see our parents who were waiting and told them the good news. My parents came in to see me, and I was still pretty emotional at that point. I was happy to see them though after what I had just gone through. My parents, along with the rest of our families, knew before the baby was born that we were almost 100% certain that we were going to name him Henry. Cam and I both really like that name, and it was also Cam's great grandfather and great uncle's name, so we both like that it has a family connection. But when my parents came in to see me after the baby was born, that's when I told my dad that we were having Henry's middle name be William, after him. Not only is William my dad's name, but it was also his dad's name and his grandfather's name and so I thought it would be special for our son's middle name to have a connection to my family, especially since my dad didn't have any sons. (Plus Cameron and I just like the name William too) My dad had no idea that we were planning to do that, so he was really touched and it was really special to be able to surprise him.

After that, Cam's parents came to say hello, and then all the grandparents went with Cam to see the baby, who was still across the hall getting ready to go to the NICU. They had him hooked up to a CPAP machine at that point to help with his breathing, but I was happy that our families got to see him (even though I was sad I wasn't there to witness that first moment because I was still not quite able to get out of bed at that point) The rest of the afternoon is kind of a blur - the baby was taken to the NICU for monitoring and Cam and I transferred from the labor floor to the mama/baby floor. We took a nap and had a meal (both of which were so nice after labor!) and then spent the rest of the afternoon down in the NICU with our baby. By 5:30pm that day, Henry was doing well and was able to be released back to our room, where he remained for the rest of our time in the hospital :) Although it wasn't ideal for him to have to spend time in the NICU, it really gives me so much more compassion for families whose babies are in there for much longer. Our sweet Henry was only there for less than 12 hours, but I realize there are so many other families that are dealing with far more traumatic situations, and my heart goes out to them so much more now.

Cam took this picture from the NICU of the sunrise over Mt. Hood the morning Henry was born:)
Henry's birth was definitely the hardest thing I've ever done in my life, and it really taught me so many things. I think that during my pregnancy, a part of me secretly thought I was going to go in and be one of those women who has a natural birth like it's no big deal, and that it wouldn't be all that painful. Well, I was wrong. However, on the day we were discharged from the hospital, the midwife on shift at that time came to check on me before we left. We talked about my birth experience and how I felt about it, and at that point, the pain was still pretty fresh in my mind. I told her it was harder than I thought it would be be and I was just really glad it was over. I think she really helped provide some great perspective on the whole experience because she reminded me that even though it was really hard, at the end of the day I did it and there is a lot of value in that. When it really mattered, I showed up and gave it everything I had and that's really something I should feel proud of. It reminded me that there really is something so worthwhile and beautiful about enduring pain and hardship to reach such an amazing end goal. She also talked about how as a mother, there will be a lot of hard days ahead where I'll probably doubt myself and feel like I can't do it. That's when I can look back on this birth experience and really draw strength from it, knowing that I can get through incredibly tough experiences. She also talked about the importance of sharing this birth story with Henry one day in the context of letting him know that he is so loved and is so important to me that I would get through any amount of pain and hardship in order to bring him into the world.

(That's also just another example of what I like about the whole midwifery care philosophy because they really provide such awesome support and recognize that birth is such a huge life experience for a woman to go through)

At the end of the day, I do feel happy I had a natural birth, even though it was really, really tough. Obviously the most important thing was that our baby boy was born and it honestly wouldn't have mattered to me how he came out, as long as he was OK. However, the fact that I was able to birth a 9 and 1/2 pound baby without any drugs is something I am pretty proud of!



And although I am happy I was able to bring our son into the world, I couldn't have done it without Cam's support. He was so great caring for me throughout my pregnancy with Henry, and before the birth he was really adamant that he wanted to take an active role in supporting me during labor. When I was in labor, he never left my side (except for the few times when I asked him to go get me something, ha!) and as cheesy as it sounds, he really was my rock throughout the whole experience. He just stayed really calm and kept telling me what a good job I was doing and how much he loved me. When I was at my worst, throwing up and screaming, he was right there next to me holding my hand and believing in me, and I couldn't have gotten through it without him. It wasn't until after labor was over that he finally broke down and let me know just how hard it was for him seeing me in so much pain and I know it wasn't easy for him staying strong for my sake while labor was going on. (Plus, he did admit that at one point I puked on him...definitely don't remember that, ha!) He has continually told me over the past month just how proud he is of me, which has really mean a lot to me and going through such an intense experience together has had a really amazing impact on our relationship. I am so thankful he was there for me during Henry's birth, I love you Cameron :)



We stayed in the hospital for two days after Henry was born, and had a really positive experience while we were there. All the nurses and everyone who cared for us was really great, and it was a nice way to start our life as a family of three! Looking back at these photos, Henry has already changed so much! When babies are first born, they can definitely be kind of puffy, for lack of a better word. After all, going through birth is kind of traumatic for the baby too, plus they do lose some of that fluid after they're born. When we were in the hospital with Henry, I just remember I couldn't get over how cute he was...but I feel like he has gotten cuter every single day over the past month. (I know all parents say that, but I swear, it's true!) Here are a few more photos from our time in the hospital...it seems like forever ago now!

Henry with his parents and grandparents on the day he was born :)
Cameron still sporting his visitor badge from the NICU :)
Really glad my parents could be there from Michigan for Henry's birth :)
Cameron and his parents :)
Me and the grandmas
Henry and his (middle) namesake
Some of the flowers we got in the hospital :)
 
Little man getting ready to go home from the hospital...he looks so tiny!
I love this little giraffe outfit so much :)

The picture when we finally left the hospital...after taking a million pictures walking out, ha!
(These are just a few of the pictures from our "real" camera...I have a million more of Henry's sweet little face from our hospital stay on my cell phone...and all the days after. But I figured I'd keep those just for me to look at when I want to cry about how fast the time is going...)

If you're still reading this post, you get a gold star :) I realize that it's crazy (insanely) long and that no one really cares about all these details as much as I do. But I wanted to share my story all the same and I'm glad I have it written down while it's still (semi) fresh in my mind. (Also, please excuse any typos/grammatical errors - life with a newborn hasn't left much time for proofreading this novel!) Thanks so much for all your kind words about our sweet Henry, I really all the love this past month!

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