Sunday, May 4, 2014

The Birth Story of Ezra McCormick

Ezra is 5 weeks old today. It has taken me this long to be able to write his birth story for a few reasons. One, life with 10 children is a little bit busy and two, it wasn't my dream birth. Not to mention my choice to be autonomous with both my pregnancies and births by doing my own self care and deliveries comes under much scrutiny. So many things about birth are uncontrollable and unpredictable. It leaves one feeling pretty vulnerable at times. Anyways, back to Ezra's birth.

A week before his birth I began having some uncomfortable contractions. This was different for me since I usually don't have discomfort with them unless I'm in labor. On top of that I also started losing a lot of mucus, too, and the only time that had happened while not in labor was with my last pregnancy and I went into labor two days later. But no. Not this time. My body decided to give me uncomfortable contractions and lots of mucus all week. Oh the anticipation and aggravation of not knowing. That and the middle of the night dance parties hosted by my “octopus”, as I affectionately called him, wore on my mental and physical state.

Two days before his birth I had contractions on and off regularly. All.Day.Long. Of course that repeated the day before he was born, too. *sigh* So, on the day he was born and said pattern started again I had visions of baby never being born and me being in a state of perpetual psych-out labor. Christina, my friend and doula, was checking up on me regularly. Of course I didn't know what to tell her besides, “I really don't know what's going on.” I didn't want to have her come over if it wasn't the real deal. I was hoping/expecting a quick labor and wanted her to be sure she made it in time. Did I also mention I was expecting a girl? Yeah. I wasn't right about that either. Lol

Christina had found a track from Hypnobirth called “Come Out Baby” and asked me if I wanted to try it. I had been curious about Hypnobirth anyways so I thought I'd give it a try. There I was that afternoon relaxing and talking to Rivka and telling her it was okay if she came out if she was ready. Yeah, despite this blaring mistake he decided to come out that day anyway. I didn't feel or sense anything different, but I was more relaxed. My body kept doing what it had been doing the previous week. More labor. More contractions. But no changes. Later that afternoon things kinda felt like they were getting into more of a pattern. I still wasn't calling Christina. I figured my body was still just faking me out.

I kept mostly to myself that afternoon as to not allow my irritation to bother anyone else and to help stay more grounded. I used my essential oils to help in this and drank some Labor Aid that I had made up for labor in case the contractions were just from being dehydrated. Things seemed to get slightly more exciting around 5:30, so I decided to call Christina, but I made sure to tell her that I still wasn't sure if this was really it or how long she'd actually have to stick around. Of course she didn't mind, but I hate putting people out.

By the time Christina arrived around 6:15ish I knew I was definitely in labor, but things were still spread out and progressing slowly compared to my last birth. Tom, Christina, and I talked, laughed, relaxed, and just rode the waves of this season. Labor went on uneventful. I mostly sat until I felt the wave come on and then I would get on my knees or stand and lean over something or someone through it. This went on slowly building throughout the evening. We called another friend who had requested to be there for my labor to come around 8:00. She arrived shortly after. Her job was to take pictures. She also did some massage on my back which felt great until things got pretty intense. Christina and Tom were there like my rock any time I needed them.

Around 11:15ish things were so intense that I just kept feeling like I would lose my mind from the pain. Everything before that was tolerable. I impatiently asked for someone to get me my Aconite homeopath because I could just tell I would need it to get through the rest of this journey. I went into the bathroom to use the bathroom again for the millionth time and felt desperate to be done with this crazy ride. Of course Tom just looked at me helplessly and acknowledged my feelings. By then I knew I wasn't going to be going anywhere else since the waves were coming right on top of one another. My plan, since it worked out so nicely last time, was to birth on the toilet. It helped me to relax my bottom and made for very little clean up. Yeah, I know. But I hate messes, even if I don't have to clean them up. I was really hoping and wishing my water would just break since I sensed this would be over soon if it did (not that I was right about anything else thus far).

Minutes later my water splashed out sounding like a giant water balloon hitting the floor. Not long after that I could feel that dreaded and welcomed feeling of pressure that only a giant Nitz melon could bring. I thought I might just sit over on the toilet and relax allowing that fetal ejection reflex to kick in like before allowing my baby to be gently and easily born into the world. Nope. Not going to happen. It felt like torture. Okay. How about squatting? Yeah. No. Not going to happen. Anything other than standing slightly leaned over felt like torture.

It was my plan to catch my own baby. The one that I grew. In my body. It only made sense to me that I would be the one whose hands would guide her (Ha!) into the world. I reached down and could feel a hairy head. Yay! This would be over soon. As my body told me to push and more head came forth I realized that I have T-Rex arms and would not be catching my own baby. During this pushing time I felt such a struggle going on inside me. It just really felt different. I wanted, needed to get this baby out. I looked at Tom who was sitting on the side of the tub in our tiny bathroom and told him he was going to have to catch the baby. He looked at me calmly and then looked at Christina who was standing behind me and told her that there is no way he can get over there and that she was going to have to catch the baby. Yeah, I don't care. Someone catch the baby please. Baby Rivka,er Ezra was born into Christina's hands at 11:53 a.m. She quickly handed me this slimy, floppy human who had a huge meconium bowel movement all over himself and me.

Time stood still while my heart went into a panic. My baby felt lifeless in my arms and as I looked down at him he was not moving at all, had no muscle tone, and was very pale except for his purple head. I squatted down looking at him. I rubbed him with a towel and prayed that my baby was okay. I had never experienced this before. I also noticed that I was bleeding a lot and passed 3 pretty big blood clots. Baby Ezra perked up, opened his eyes, and started crying. I knew then that he would be fine, but I was losing too much blood. In my mind I knew at some point during delivery my placenta had to have partially detached compromising his oxygen a bit and must be what was causing this bleeding. I did what I knew to do to increase oxytocin; held my baby skin to skin, smelled his beautiful head, and prayed.

I started feeling lightheaded and knew this placenta needed to come out now. There was blood everywhere. Tom just kept asking for towels to mop up the blood. I asked for cayenne pepper to help stop the bleeding. I handed Ezra over to Tom. I was feeling too weak to hold him. Next I asked for some Angelica to release the placenta and squatted. The placenta came pretty quickly after that. I was still bleeding but not as bad. My brain was pretty foggy at this point and I was just trying not to pass out. All I could think of was, “I'm covered in blood and birth goo. I don't want to have to call 911.” lol At this point Christina asked if I wanted the Shepherd’s Purse. I was glad she reminded me of it since I was having to concentrate so very hard to stay conscious. The bleeding finally stopped. I knew I was no longer in danger.

Now to make it into the tub to clean both of us up a bit. Somehow I managed to get in long enough to wash Ezra and I up. My brain was still quite fuzzy during this time and I felt very out of breath. Christina sat by my side keeping a watchful eye on us while Tom cleared the floor of the blood and towels. Things are pretty fuzzy from this point on, but I somehow made it into bed with my baby. We were both going to be okay.

Now, many people may read this and say that this is why they want to be in a hospital and that homebirth isn't safe. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I would have to say that I wouldn't change where I birthed. My baby was brought safely, gently, and in love into this world. No one panicked while I was in labor from a drop in fetal heart tones. No one scared me that my baby would die if I didn't birth him in their time. No one rushed me into a surgical birth that would permanently damage my body and make my recovery incredibly long and hard compared to the birth that I had. My baby was not robbed of the plethora of benefits from having a natural physiological birth. I take responsibility for my pregnancies and births with much thought, research, and prayer. I am grateful for the knowledge that I have gathered over the years. I am grateful I was home. 

Ezra McCormick weighed in at 10.3 lbs. and was 23 inches long.
 



Ezra at 5 days old
Ezra at 10 days old

Grabbing hold of the tzit tziot

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A Doula's Perspective



I recently was blessed to be able to attend my second birth as a doula. I have to say that I am addicted. What a fulfilling feeling you get from serving these laboring mamas! Outside of the calling of wife, mother, and sharing the Good News there is no other service that brings me such joy and peace.

This is my account of the last birth I was privileged to attend written for my sweet and very strong client, Denise.

A Doula's Perspective

I got the much anticipated call around 6:30 a.m., jumped out of bed, and readied myself for what the day may bring. I prayed on and off the entire 45 minute trip for this precious family's dreams of a natural, healthy, and peaceful birth to unfold before us. When I arrived Denise seemed to be in the early active phase of labor. She had a faint and hopeful smile and such a beautiful countenance about her. Scott was getting things together and was speaking in hushed tones giving his brother instructions.

I wasn't there but a minute or two and Denise had a contraction. They were short but breathtaking. She would start feeling the surge and kneel down at the coffee table to ride the wave of her contraction. She seemed serious, but completely in control. When it was over she mentioned how strong and hard it was. She was feeling all of the pain in her front to lower abdomen and was very nauseous on and off. She mentioned that she had thrown up before I had gotten there. Her contractions had started around 4:30 that morning. That made me start to think that she was further along than I had originally mentally assessed. Her contractions seemed to come one on top of the other with little rest in between. She breathed well through them moving from birth ball, kneeling, and to the bathroom. She seemed so in control and able to converse in between them that I had thought that surly things would be getting much stronger. Around 8:15 Denise's water broke. After the second time of her vomiting I felt strongly that we needed to get to the hospital. I let her and Scott know that we needed to get going now. For the record, Scott wanted to leave 15 minutes before that. Her contractions really started to build more and more and it was taking her longer than I wanted to get out the door and into the car. One of the sweetest memories I have of the labor is Scott supporting Denise with her hands around his neck through a contraction right by the back door. They finally got in the car and we were off to the hospital 15 minutes away.

We arrived at the hospital at what I would guess was 8:45. I walked into the emergency entrance to Denise gingerly getting into the wheelchair, Scott giving the desk information, and a nurse ready to wheel her off. Denise started having another contraction so I asked the nurse to please wait while I helped her breathe through it. I held Denise's hand and coached her to moan through it and silently prayed in my mind for Abba to please be with her during this very tough time to come. Poor thing! She was so uncomfortable for this bumpy ride and continued to have contractions closer together and decidedly more intense than before.

We got up to the room and a nurse handed her a specimen cup and a gown to put on. At this point Denise had already said a couple of times that she was having A LOT of pressure in her bottom and was feeling pushy. I reiterated this to the nurse who seemed to not be in any hurry at all and more concerned about her urine specimen. lol Denise breathed through contractions as she got undressed, got her gown on, and headed for the bathroom for that sample. Denise seemed frustrated by this, but tried to give it. She couldn't or just gave up and told me, "I can't do this right now." I told her jokingly that I don't know how in the world they expect a pregnant laboring woman to even reach to pee in a cup.

Denise made her way to the bed and got in the best she could saying the entire time how much pressure she was feeling. When her next contraction came she was half grunting half breathing through them. The nurse came in and examined her. She was complete and ready to push but the doctor was still en route. Denise asked for Scott who was still downstairs. The nurse kept telling her to breathe through the contractions. My heart went out to Denise who was truly felling such intense urges to bear down. It felt like torture to me to ask her to breathe through these contractions. But breathe she did, just like the powerful woman she is. The doctor finally arrived and they broke down the bed to my dismay since it left little room for position change. Scott finally arrived and I could sense the relief she felt. It's amazing the comfort a husband can bring a woman with just his presence. Somewhere around this time staff came in with all kinds of forms for Denise to sign. This was both comical and annoying to me at the same time. They're reading her all of this stuff and she's just trying to make it through contractions. She opened her eyes long enough to sign these papers that I doubt she even heard what they said and then took her fingerprint. It was amusing because they were so serious and insistent but annoying because they were breaking the mood and atmosphere of her birth.

Finally all of the red tape had been taken care of and she could get down to this business of birthing her long awaited son. I stood on her left coaching her and keeping her cool with a damp cloth and Scott stood on her right holding her hand and whispering in her ear. There was a lot of pushing and for what seemed a very long time. I'm not sure on the time period since I couldn't find the clock. She was so calm and controlled in between contractions. The doctor talked to both mom and dad asking questions now and then. At one point she had been pushing a while and the seriousness in the room seemed to increase...hope started to deflate. The doctor started asking Denise about how far she got with her last birth. You see, Denise was attempting a VBAC. It was her hope, her dream, her goal. We all told the doctor that the last birth, her sweet Kennedy, went about this far. I had so wanted to initiate a position change or two earlier but the doctor seemed determined to have her in the usual position. When it seemed to me that the doctor was going to suggest another C-section I asked him if he would allow us to help her push in a different position to which his response was, "You can, but I don't think it will help." Shortly after, he lowered the bed a little saying that he thought a more straight path would free baby up to come through the birth canal.

You see, right before that I think a miracle happened in the room. The doctor reassured Denise that baby would be coming out one way or the other. At first I thought it was just a cheap reassurance that we would get a baby even if it had to be by C-section, but then he said baby would be coming "this way" implying vaginally. Once again hope soared through the room and Denise was empowered with new strength, new resolve to bring this baby into the world. It wasn't long and baby Gavin came forth into this room and into his mom's capable arms who had prayed for him, hoped for him, longed to give him a beautiful and peaceful start on the journey of life. Denise was such a great laborer and her hard work and resolve had paid off. It was a blessing and a privilege to be a part in her journey and the beginning of little Gavin's. Thank you, Scott and Denise, for allowing me to serve you. May the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob bless your family and keep you through the days to come.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

More on Planning

 2013 Daily Planner small

Today I'd like to post a link to a guest post on Amy's blog Raising Arrows. I enjoy quite a bit from Amy's blog. It's one of my go-to blogs when I need tips or encouragement. Today she posted an article by the creator of Daily Planner on how to use a planner. It's very informative for those who don't know how to use a planner or just can't seem to make one work. 
 "Written schedules are not laws that can’t be changed, but rather they serve as guide to help you plan what is reasonable. Freely modifying your schedule is not a sign of weakness; it is a sign of strength. It is important to make wise choices that are best just for today."
She is also offering free shipping for her 2013 planner. I've never used this particular one, but you might like to check it out.

The How and Why of Using a Planner in 2013

Shalom,
Julie

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

30 Days of Soup

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_qGRhaDwxiKg/TOBroMP4WUI/AAAAAAAAAOI/V3O-JeZTRes/s1600/ChickenNoodleSoup.jpg




This coming month I'm doing 30 days of soups. It's just that kind of weather and we love soups. My husband and kids aren't the types that need meat at every meal so I get no complaints from them. Soups are also a great way to stay hydrated during the winter when we typically drink less.

As I said in my post Meal Planning Saved My Life  it makes for an easier cooking month to double and freeze half of the months meals. Below is my menu. DF means double and freeze. PL means planned leftovers. If a soup has cream in it it is better to take out your PL and freeze before you add the cream. When you reheat your soup you can add your cream in at the end so it does not curdle when reheated.

I've included links for most of the recipes for your ease and enjoyment.

May you have a blessed time as you use your heart and hands to serve your family!

Shalom,
Julie

6th- Sherried Tomato Soup  & Grilled Pesto, Tomato, and Cheese Sandwiches
7th- Cauliflower Soup & Focaccia Bread
8th- French Onion Soup  & Caesar Salad
10th-Vegetable Soup and Cornbread
12th-Baked Ziti, Caesar Salad, Rolls, and Cake (James' Bar Mitzvah)
13th-Corn Chowder w/Chilies & baked potates
15th- Broccoli Cheese Soup in bread bowls
19th- PL Sherried Tomato Soup & Challah
20th- Corn & Cheese Chowder in bread bowls
21st- PL Sherried Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
22nd- PL Italian Meatball Soup
23rd- Lentil Chili and cornbread
24th- PL Homemade Chicken and Noodles
25th- PL Corn Chowder w/Chilies & Challah
26th- PL Italian Chicken Soup
27th- PL Broccoli Cheese Soup in bread bowls
28th- PL White Chicken Chili w/Mexican Cornbread
29th- PL Brazilian Chicken Soup
30th- PL Savory Kale, Cannellini Bean, and Potato Soup
31st- PL Corn & Cheese Chowder
1st-  Cheeseburger Soup & Challah
2nd- PL Vegetable Soup & Cornbread
3rd- PL Lentil Chili & Cornbread
4th- Taco Soup served w/sour cream and tortilla chips

Monday, December 24, 2012

Meal Planning Saved My Life


Meal Planning Saved My Life

(or just saves me gobs of time)


Many ladies have asked me about my once a month meal planning. I promised to post my menu from last month on Face Book, but I’ve decided to blog about it instead. I hear all the time from other mamas about how they should be better at meal planning or how they could never plan a whole month at a time. It’s really not that difficult. It just takes a 2-3 hour commitment once a month, a good day planner, your collection of recipes, and some peace and quiet. I know that last part will be the hardest to come by :oD

Before I post my menu from last month let me give you a few tips and ideas to maximize your efforts. 

  1. I’m sure you all do like me. You print out a recipe you find on the net and then it disappears, gets thrown away, or ruined. Well, no more!  Get a 3” three ring binder to place all of your recipes in. Buy clear report sleeves to slide in your recipes. This keeps them clean and easily organized. You can also conveniently tear a page out of a magazine with a recipe on it, slide it in your sleeve, and try it out when you feel inspired. Organize your recipes in any way you like. Mine are in this order; breads, soups, main dishes, sides, desserts, drinks, and “to try later”. I also have a box of recipes on index cards.

  2.  Go through your recipes and find your favorites. Now is the time to plan for a small budget or upcoming holidays in mind.

  3.  Get a nice Day Timer. I use one from Walmart called Family Plus. It’s a perfect weekly/monthly all in one planner and will fit most needs for being organized.

  4.  Plan out holidays or special meals first. This allows you to get the hard stuff out of the way and gives you an idea of how to budget the rest of the month’s meals. For me I go straight for the holidays - and there are a lot in the Bible :D- and birthdays, again there are a lot when you have nine kids. After that I just start planning out the rest of the month saving Sabbath meals (Saturday) for planned freezer meals. This keeps my prep day more gratuitous, if you know what I mean. 

  5. As you pencil in your meals for the week, write down the grocery list directly at the top of your planner (if you use the one I suggested there is a place for this). This saves time and keeps some of the monotony at bay. I shop for all of my non-perishables and freezable foods once a month. This tremendously cuts down the time I spend during my weekly shopping trips. Not everyone can do that, but you will still have your weekly list already made out for you. It’s so nice not to have to worry about it on a weekly basis.

I’ve always wanted to do the whole Once a Month Cooking thing, but cooking 30 meals for 11 people sounds like a breakdown just waiting to happen. What I can do is double quite a few of my meals to freeze for another time in the month. It takes very little extra time to double your meal since you’re already chopping, peeling, sautéing, etc. anyway. For example; one of my meals was Fettuccini Primavera, Salad, and Garlic Knots. I doubled the veg part of the Primavera, bagged half in a freezer bag, and labeled it Fettuccini Primavera. It was then put in the freezer for whatever day we would have that meal later in the month when I would thaw it and prepare the rest of the meal. All that was left for me to do was boil pasta, throw a salad together, and make garlic knots (these can also be pre-made and frozen). The other nice thing about having pre-made meals in the freezer is when you don’t feel like having whatever is planned out that day you can grab one of your freezer meals instead. This works out nicely when you have a particularly taxing day or kids get sick.

 So, here it is: 
November Menu 
 

This will give you an idea of what I do and how it works. I’m not including recipes. THAT would be too much work ;) If you want you can just Google the recipe and find one that will work for your family.

I hope this blesses your home as it has blessed mine.
Shalom,
Julie

Friday, December 14, 2012

I Love Fluffy Bottoms



  

Yes, I love fluffy bottoms with leopard prints. I never, and I mean n e v e r, thought I would be that weird, crunchy, cloth diapering mom. I mean that’s just sick. Ya know! But here I am. Sitting back watching all those other moms with their babies in those old plain, white, noisy diapers with the exact same character on them as everyone else’s kid and thinking to myself, “my baby sure does look super cute in her awesome fluff that makes her bottom look twice as big.” You want to know what’s worse?!? Come a little closer and I’ll whisper it. Shhhhh! I make and use reusable baby wipes. There. I said it. I know what you’re thinking, cause I thought the same thing. Gross, right?!  Not even close.

Cloth diapering has opened up a whole new world to me. Anyone who cloth diapers or has looked into cloth diapering these days knows that there are about a jillion different options and levels of commitments. Seriously! It’s mind blowing. I began this adventure almost a year and a half ago and if you read my original post My New Adventure you’ll know that I made a commitment to CDing no matter what. Well, I stuck to it and it’s been almost too easy.

A jillion different options. You think I’m kidding!? Just do a search for cloth diapers and see how many different companies, types, fabrics, colors, shapes, sizes, etc. come up. The list goes on and on. I’ve used just about every type of CD that’s out there which is important since every baby is different and every momma’s needs and preferences are diverse. It’s good to find a friend or CD community that you can draw knowledge and experience from. I had a friend give me multiple types of diapers, so I was able to get a feel for what I liked best.

What am I using a year and a half later? Pretty much the cheapest pocket diaper out there. I started out using pre-folds and covers. I thought they were nice and easy until I ordered two KaWaii bamboo minky pocket diapers from theluvyourbaby website. Is it possible to fall in love with a diaper???I do believe it is :o) And it was love at first sight. Anyone who has gotten fluff mail can tell you how exciting it is to open up that package and pull out the coolest accessory a baby can wear. It was so soft and fluffy and bright and….well, I know... it’s just a diaper, but it felt like the Ferrari of diapers to me. These diapers cost me less than $11 each which is a great price considering the piece of junk Fuzzibunz brand diapers cost me $20 bucks a pop. Those things didn’t hold in vapor.

My KaWaii bamboo minkies are soft, absorbant, easy to use and care for, adorable to look at, and nowhere near as bulky as most CDers. I have about 20 of them and they’re just as beautiful and functional as when I first purchased them. They come with two inserts and I use them both. I have a toddler and a two y.o. who wear them at night with only a rare leak to speak of. That’s way less than when I used disposables. What’s even more amazing is in almost a year and a half I’ve only had one blow out of the back of the diaper and it happened just the other day. A.MAZE.ING. I’ve never had a disposable hold in messes like these do. The few times that I’ve used disposables since my journey in CD Land I've found myself grumbling under my breath about how I "hate stupid disposables." And I sure hate throwing money in the trash, too!

If you want to know all the mesmerizing details of my CD life (the how tos) you’ll have to check out my next post :o)

Shalom,
Julie