Wednesday, January 3, 2018

David's Birth Story

My blog is basically dead, but I love birth stories, and I just had my second baby, so here it is!

The story begins the week of December 19, which was my due date. I had been feeling pretty normal-miserable, like I remember feeling with Nancy at about 35-37 weeks. Things were hard but not unbearable. I was still getting some sleep at night, though I was getting heavier and heavier and could tell that David was putting on some weight. At my 36 appointment, I was measuring about 33-34 cm. I was measuring the same at 37 weeks, and the midwife suggested I think about getting an ultrasound. I was enjoying feeling kind of small though, and because David was moving around all the time and his heartbeat was fine, I didn’t want to spend $160 just to be told that everything was okay. I knew my body, and my body was doing just fine. I was confident that David was just an easier pregnancy than Nancy, and a slower one too. He was taking longer to “cook,” and that was just fine with me (well, at that point anyway). Then we sort of jumped to the 39-week appointment, and by then I really did feel like I put on some weight (4 pounds after only gaining 1 pound the last time). With the weight, everything got even harder. I was SO tired out so early in the day even if I did barely anything with Nancy. Matthew was home by this point—he had graduated, hooray!—but still hadn’t really adjusted to spending all day home, or spending all of his free time taking care of Nancy, so it was kind of hard on him and we had some meltdowns over it where he felt like a single parent, I felt like I was doing my best and was super frustrated with myself that I couldn’t do more with Nancy just because it was so, so hard.
December 19 came and I shocked everybody at work when they’d ask when I was due and I’d say, “Today!” E
verybody kept saying I was too small and didn’t look like I was about to have a baby and yada yada. At first it was nice but eventually it made me feel desperate, like the baby would never come and I really was going to be pregnant forever and maybe he wasn’t growing enough and why wasn’t this pregnancy exactly the same as my first one, etc. It was really hard to reach 40 weeks and nothing. I knew I wouldn't have to wait much longer, and two weeks isn’t THAT long, but I was ready to be done at 39 weeks and hadn’t mentally prepared myself to go even past 40, let alone to 42. So, nothing happened on December 19. I really felt discouraged and started to worry about being induced and having an unnatural, overlong, painful labor that would end at the hospital. A different midwife saw me at my appointment and she basically insisted that I have an ultrasound the next day. I tried to push it off but she basically gave me no choice. I still felt like it was unnecessary, and honestly I still do, but I understand why they pushed it—they wanted to have as much information as possible and to know if there were any severe problems. I didn’t feel close to labor but I didn’t feel bad, either. I mostly felt like I felt with Nancy at about 36-37 weeks, which was also discouraging because that likely meant two more weeks of misery.
I tried to work as much as possible over the next few days because my job was one thing I could do without feeling totally exhausted (though walking across the parking lot and through the library was getting very, very tiring). O
n Friday, Dec 22, my sister-in-law watched Nancy while Matthew and I went to get the dreaded ultrasound. It took forever to get to West Jordan because there were at least three car wrecks on the freeway, even though there wasn’t even any snow!
The ultrasound was pretty much exactly what I expected. Baby’s movement and growth and everything looked fine. My fluid levels were normal. I was just small and the tech predicted Baby would be here within 1-3 weeks. (Super helpful! Not!) He didn’t really give me a new due date but confirmed that the due date from my 20-week ultrasound (December 25) was more accurate than this one. Ugh. Also we forgot to bring a flashdrive so our only pictures of the ultrasound were on our phones. The tech kept laughing at David’s big pouty lips on screen and saying that we could lick them and stick him to the wall. It was fun to see him and reassuring that everything was fine, but I was annoyed at the bother and cost when I knew everything was fine to begin with.

I finally began to mentally accept that this would probably be a January baby and I would just have to suck it up and get through Christmas. We had a nice Saturday—Unc and Daniel and Matthew and Nancy and I went to the All-Together Playground in the morning. I thought I was walking around pretty well but Unc thought I was barely keeping up and marveled at how attached Nancy was to Matthew. It has been hard for me to be apart from her for so long—she has bonded with Matthew more than me and wants him always, and I miss her. Lately she has began cuddling more with me though, and I put her down for her nap today for the first time in FOREVER it seems, so we’re working on it. I couldn’t believe how big she was when I changed her diaper though. GOOD LORD. She is huge. She also weighs 26 pounds apparently. Yikes. The playground was fun, but Unc and I were tired and ready for lunch pretty soon. I showed them the library and my office and then we went home. That evening after Nancy’s lap, my sister-in-law took her and Matthew and I went to see Star Wars: The Last Jedi. I had a few contractions during the movie but didn’t think anything of it. I left to pee during the Rose/Finn scenes... loved the Luke/Rey/Kylo stuff.
After the movie, we got Nancy and went home and ate and got ready for bed and I was still having contractions now and then, but around midnight I was thinking, hmmm, these seem to be coming somewhat regularly. So Matthew downloaded an app on his phone to time them and I ended up using that app ALL NIGHT LONG. Yep, the contractions came roughly every 20-30 minutes from midnight to 8 am the next morning and I did not get a wink of sleep. Matthew woke up around 5 or 6 or something and I told him I was pretty sure I was in labor, especially since I’d started pooping at 2 am and then having diarrhea/pooping the rest of the morning. Exactly like I had with Nancy. The system was clearing out! He was worried because he was supposed to lead choir and sing two solos, and I didn’t want to be alone in the house with Nancy. We called my mom and told her I was in early labor and we’d need her to take Nancy, and then I asked if Sarah could come over and stay with me while Matthew was gone. She did and it was probably the sweetest time of the whole ordeal.
Sarah was very excited for baby and reassured me that this was exciting news and I was probably right that this was the real thing (my greatest worry that it wasn’t, that it would all go away, or that it would take much longer than I hoped, maybe even all day) and that it would progress quickly. She even told me that Grandmama was here in our house—she felt her presence. That made me cry because during the middle of the sleepless night I got a little scared thinking about labor again and wanted to pray but couldn’t bring myself to pray to a male figure or father of any kind, so I simply prayed to “Mother” and I really felt like someone or something was there, a “Mother” of some sort. Sarah also said that Grandmama was watching over Nancy right now too, which we guessed explained why Nancy slept in for so long.
I can’t remember a lot of the rest of the morning, except that Matt had my phone and I had his (because his was timing the contractions) and I got texts asking if Matt needed to go home and to just go and leave the choir. Ha ha. Matt had apparently announced it at practice or something.
Matthew got home, skipping the last song, and my contractions were about 5-10 min. apart and getting a little more intense. I did not like being touched during them, which was unusual and different, and I couldn’t find a comfortable position. I just squeezed Matthew or Sarah’s hand and tried to breathe through them and not clench up or tighten my muscles or fight the sensation, which did seem to help a little. Labor felt low down and dull, like I remember it being with Nancy, but much more in my butt than I remember. Once the contractions had been coming at 5 min. intervals (or thereabouts—5 to 7 min) for close to an hour, I decided that was close enough and we needed to go to the birth center. It was somewhere between 11 and noon. Matthew had quite an ordeal trying to get a midwife to answer the hotline. He called, left voicemails, left texts, and eventually got a student at the birth center who called the midwife, who was in Salt Lake, but said she would hurry back and meet us there in about half an hour. The contractions were getting harder and I was getting a little nervous about being at home and having to possibly labor in the car without any help, so I got Matthew to call again and tell the midwife we were going to go to the birth center and wait for her there. The car drive was uneventful. I had one contraction about a minute after we arrived at the birth center, and then suddenly everything stopped, like David had sensed we were in a strange new environment and he wasn’t sure about coming here. I was discouraged again, and bored on top of that, and impatient, and ended up just lying down on the bed and trying to rest for about 20 minutes. 20 minutes of nothing, not one single contraction, not even a weak one. I was pretty upset and was going to have us leave and go home for a few more hours, but THEN I had a very intense, two-minute long contraction that would have made me make Matthew turn us around and come right back because I was suddenly sure that we were going to have this baby soon.
After that, the contractions returned, and we stopped timing them, just waiting for them and trying to endure. A doula and the midwife arrived and checked me (it’s always so uncomfortable but knowing how much I’m dilated is a huge mental boost) and said I was at a 6, which was pretty encouraging. Over halfway there! The doula’s massaging was pretty ineffective—her hands were cold—but I liked having her there anyway and she found a position for me that really seemed comfortable and helpful. I was on the bed on my knees leaning forward onto the exercise ball, holding her hands while Matthew rubbed my lower back. The contractions were intense and I was sweating or shaking through them so I felt like I was making a lot of progress, but after what seemed like a good long while, the midwife checked me again and I was only at a 6.5. A freaking 6.5. I was so annoyed.
By the way, I wasn’t sure why but I didn’t feel like laboring in the tub this time around. The tub just seemed too small and I didn’t feel like getting wet or going through the same experience as I had with Nancy. I liked the bed and the ball best.

After checking me, the midwife said I had a cervical lip. Not a surprise since I’d had one with Nancy too. Anyway, the best way to get Baby past it so the contractions would actually push Baby against the opening of the cervix was to have her hand up in me while I was having contractions. Supremely uncomfortable, but it worked. I sat on the super uncomfortable birth stool and Matthew and the doula held up my sides and my knees and I squeezed them like they were my lifelines because they seriously were. The midwife was very calm and seemed to know what she was doing, but I hated the way she didn’t communicate with me. She just acted like of course I should know what was going on and kept making comments about how I needed to lean further back or was pressing too hard against her shoulder or something—yeah, sorry, I know your comfort should obviously be the first thing on my mind here. And I was more than a bit angry at her when she told me to try pushing a little with the next contraction and I was like, no way! I’m not pushing. I’m at a 6.5! I’ll tear! And she said, no you won’t. You’re almost at a 10. I mean, my mouth dropped open. A FREAKING TEN?!?!? HOW LONG WERE YOU PLANNING TO SIT ON THAT? So yeah, I was flabbergasted—I’m almost at a ten? I asked, Can you feel the baby’s head? And she said yes she could. And I just kept repeating it—you can feel the baby’s head? You can feel the baby’s head? YOU CAN FEEL THE BABY'S HEAD? I couldn’t believe it. We were SO CLOSE to meeting our baby! It gave me a huge mental wave of strength at a time when I really could use it because the pain was very intense, more than I remembered even with Nancy (not surprising since my brain had to block that stuff out so I would even get pregnant again), and I just could not get comfortable at all once a contraction started. I did NOT like the birthing stool—I wanted to be leaning forward. But the midwife wasn't budging, so somehow I made it work—with the next contraction, I pushed. I hated pushing, by the way. I couldn’t really “feel” the urge or even the pushing itself. I just closed my mouth and held my breath and that sort of made it happen because the air that I wanted to let out in a scream stayed in and forced everything downward. I still did scream a little bit but not nearly like I had with Nancy. It was more a lot of shaky low moaning and whimpering. Still, the midwife told me to try to keep it in and hold my breath so it would all go to the pushing.
Finally, with one of these pushes, she exclaimed, “Ladies! We’re having a baby!” and I felt “stuff” come out and a shift or a drop from inside. So, presumably, Baby was now “past” the cervical lip. I got very excited but the worst part—CROWNING—was just around the corner. Suddenly all the midwife students were there in the room and there were towels everywhere all over the floor and then we were all just waiting and waiting for the next contraction. Oh my god it seemed like such a long wait. Then it came and I pushed because I was excited and I was at a ten *or almost* *who knows?* *maybe the midwife but of course she wasn’t telling* and HOLY HELL IT WAS THE WORST PAIN I’VE EVER FELT. Also, once I pushed it felt like I couldn’t stop. It really felt like I lost any kind of control I had and my body just took over and was like yep, yep, we’re getting rid of this, it doesn’t matter what happens to you. So yeah, I knew right away I was going to tear and I recognized it and I was like to hell with it I can’t do anything anyway. But yeah, it tore and burned and hurt every bit as bad as I remember with Nancy and worse. Strangely, though, I only felt it on one side. It seemed to take David a lot longer to actually come out than Nancy but it was still pretty quick. One thing that was different this time was that I definitely felt like a poop was coming at first, but then once I went with the “okay I’m going to poop” feeling it suddenly became very clear that it was NOT a poop and that’s when the burning and HUGE BABY COMING THROUGH sensation came and then I started screaming/crying because it hurt so much and I actually didn’t stop crying even when David came out at last and I heard his sweet little cry. Mentally I was relieved but physically I was shaken up all over again and traumatized and couldn’t stop crying because it was so INTENSE and painful and harder than I remembered. I had my eyes closed when he came out and kept them closed for a little while just to feel like I was protecting myself. Still, they handed him to me pretty quickly and holding him and sobbing for a while felt pretty good, like I could have done that for quite a while.

Finally, when I could stop thinking swear words and saying “Oh my God,” I turned to Matthew and said something I can’t remember like we have a baby or something stupid. They wrapped him in a towel and got both of us over to the bed and I still hadn’t delivered the placenta and didn’t want to ever be touched down there ever again, but after a few minutes the midwife gave my stomach a little push and “plooop” it came out like a jellyfish, more surprising than painful. I never actually got a good look at the placenta but it seemed smaller than Nancy’s.



7 pounds, 20.5 inches, born at 2:22 pm
It felt like we only got to cuddle for a few minutes before the midwife wanted to sew me up. I swear I was still shaking from the adrenaline. I was a little incredulous—now? Really?—but she was serene, obnoxiously so, and then she had the nerve to tell me I had to not kick her—like I had any control over my shaking legs while she was poking me all over down there. I asked them for laughing gas but she got in a few pokes before they brought it to me. Once they got me that, I calmed down a lot more and was able to relax. I can’t believe she started trying to numb me before they even got me the gas! Fortunately, there was one student there who was absolutely my kind of person. She had tattoos and her hair in cornrows and she was take-charge and assertive and vocal and communicated with me and looked me in the eyes and was like, “Ruth. Go away from here. Find another place you can go and just let it go.” She was everything I needed right then and I was really grateful she was there and wished she had been there sooner/through the whole thing. I’m sure the midwife knew what she was doing and was very experienced, but she just did not communicate enough with me or make me feel comfortable. The student just radiated strength and support and I was immediately comfortable with her.

Once they got me the laughing gas I did a lot better, as I said. I really like that laughing gas. It makes me talkative and a little bit "tipsy" (at one point I teasingly yelled at Matthew, "Take your shirt off!" so he could do skin-to-skin with David), but I still understood and processed everything going on around me. It just felt slower and a bit foggier and funnier. At one point, I said “OW” but didn’t feel the need to move, just to say “Ow.” I only had first-degree tearing, which I counted as a major, MAJOR blessing. I couldn’t remember how bad it was with Nancy, obviously, but after a day or so at home I knew that it had been worse with her because this time around I was able to sit, cross my legs, go to the bathroom, sit on my legs, sit in different positions, and I’ve already even almost stopped bleeding after only just over a week! I haven’t had to use nearly as many frozen pads, witch hazel, or anti-bacterial spray either.

After they finished sewing me up, it was nice to have the worst part over and then get back to snuggling with David and Matthew. David had been chewing on Matthew’s bicep and I wanted to let him latch on me. He actually did a pretty good job! Even though my nipples were like OW, they also remembered what it was like and it was a lot easier for me after having gone through all that crap with Nancy and pumping beforehand. Mainly I just wanted to look at him, of course. We took a lot of pictures and called our families. Last time I had spoken to Sarah she called me in the middle of active labor and I had to hang up on her because a contraction started. She was giving me a Nancy update and I was just like, “Okay, I have to go now, a contraction is starting.” Ha ha. It wasn’t quite as exciting to tell everyone this time because they all already knew that I had been in labor all morning. Still, everyone was excited to have a Christmas Eve baby! 


So there you have it. My second experience with natural childbirth. Worse than my first in some ways (the anticipation and fear going in were stronger because I remembered how bad it was and I couldn't help but compare it to my first, and then be disturbed/taken by surprise when things strayed from the first time) but better in others (I knew what was going on, knew what to expect, and had a much quicker physical/mental/emotional recovery and quicker bonding with Baby). Giving birth naturally is by far the hardest thing I have ever done, but I don't regret it, or being pregnant, even though I hate that last month of the third trimester, because I know how lucky I am to be able to get pregnant, to be healthy enough to carry my babies to term, and to have as few interventions as I've had to have my children. I have never felt such a deep, fierce, passionate love for anything in my life as I have felt for my babies and I can't imagine life without it. I have especially loved how quickly David has taken to nursing and how much of a bonding experience it has been for the two of us. At one point, I was sick but still nursing (wearing a mask and hand sanitizer) and Matthew said, "You're a little jealous of this baby, hon." I asked him what he meant and he said I had an expression that just said, "This is my baby and the world can go to hell." Ha ha. He gets me.

To sum up: David Charles Covington was born at 2:22 pm on Sunday, December 24, 2017, after I'd been in labor about 14 hours (but "active" labor only about 3 hours, and I pushed for just 8 minutes). I thought it somewhat fitting that Nancy had been due March 24, and came on the 18th, and David was due the 19th, and came on the 24th. They are so far opposites in everything. Through Nancy's pregnancy, I got a very distinct impression that she was a "strong" baby, and through David's, I felt impressed that he was going to be a "quiet" baby, though I still associate his quietness with strength and resilience of a different kind. I love them both. After having a baby in 2016 and another in 2017, my goal this year is to NOT get pregnant. I mean, look at this 40-week-pregnant face. 

40 weeks!
A week after giving birth. I lost ten pounds immediately, and another ten-ish the next week. Still have ten-ish to go, but not going to worry about it yet, because nursing makes me crazy hungry!



Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Nancy's Birth Story

So I am woefully late writing down my birth story and pregnancy seems blissfully long ago now, but I wanted to share it anyway. We took a Hypnobirthing class in January and were the only ones in the class who were NOT birthing in a hospital (we went to a birth center), and I remember being a little freaked out by that, but the class gave me so much confidence in my baby's ability to be born and my body's ability to have a natural birth (though it was much tougher than I realized).
My last pregnant picture (38 weeks, I think):
I was 39 weeks pregnant on the dot when I woke up March 17 at 7 am with "gas pains," and they kept waking me up every hour to poop. I ended up staying home from work but felt very well-rested and was able to nap and eat and relax the whole day in between the cramps (which I thought could be Braxton Hicks since I hadn't experienced them yet). We had a baby appointment at 5:30 pm, where they checked me and said I was 90% effaced, 1 cm dilated, and the baby's head was "right there" (but she had been low down and engaged for a long time). The midwife told me, "Girlfriend, you look like you're in early labor!" However, I didn't get excited because I was in denial--I had mentally prepared myself for a 42 week pregnancy, ha ha. After we got home, the contractions got more intense. I still had good energy and had made it through most of the day just fine with slow dancing/low moaning/very little discomfort at all, but around 7 pm I began needing Matthew to do hip counter-pressure on me to help me through each one. We timed them, but they were pretty sporadic. I had tried eating a little bit in the evening but threw it up. Believe it or not, I still wasn't 100% convinced this was true labor until about 11:15 pm and I went from moaning to screaming (I was trying to muffle it by screaming into pillows, but our landlady told us later she could hear me and was glad to see when our car disappeared, oops) and feeling overwhelming pressure. We called our midwives - in between screams/groans, I was trying to tell them that we hadn't really effectively timed the contractions (because we were both focused on me and not on the timer), but the midwife said, "I'm timing you now and you've had two a minute apart, so you should come in!" Ha!) and after the phone call I started to get bloody mucus, which excited/panicked me, because it finally seemed like proof with a capital P, I guess, that something was actually happening (no duh). 

We drove to the birth center, which in spite of being 5 min away from our apartment, felt like an alarmingly long way to go. I had to do one contraction in the car by myself without any help from Matthew, and I remember yelling as loud as I could and nearly fainting from pain because I had no one to do counter-pressure on my hips. When we got there, I tried to talk but had a contraction in the middle of the front door and just doubled over. A midwife immediately came and started rubbing my hips and it felt SO good. They checked me and I was dilated to a 6, so they told me to get into the tub, which was warm (not scalding hot, like I would have wished), but at that point, I was too far gone to feel helped out by anything other than counter-pressure.

In the tub, I really wished there were a chain hanging from the ceiling I could yank on while squatting. My mind was very frustrated that no one had thought to supply this - it seemed so reasonable, so doable, so simple, and yet it was not there. It seemed like just a few minutes but was actually an hour that I labored in the tub--I remember the midwives scurrying around a lot, trying to get me the GBS antibiotics, but as it turned out I barely got an hour's worth because we arrived at midnight and Nancy was born at 1:49 am. One of the midwives told me I had beaten her record by giving birth less than two hours after arriving at the birth center. So it was a rather quick labor, but those almost two hours sure felt like a long while.  

Every contraction was intense and frightening but the rest periods and the midwives' encouragement combined with the fact that I did not feel tired at all (in sharp contrast to the miscarriage, when I was completely exhausted and just wanted to sleep) let me keep going. Among all the thoughts that went through my head what helped me the most was remembering from class the affirmation of "Yes" instead of "Oh no" when each contraction started, accepting that we were having a baby tonight and that "the only way out of this is THROUGH," and complete confidence that my body was taking care of my baby and I did not need to worry about Baby at all. 

I wanted them to check me but didn't want to have not made any progress, so I was so grateful that when they checked me again I was dilated "all the way" and just had a cervical lip to get Baby's head past. Picturing the toy baby in the pelvis from our class and the way the teacher curled her body around to breathe it under the pelvis helped me envision what I needed to do with my body--things got more intense when I focused on pushing this way but the midwives said I was making amazing progress and I finally reached in and felt her head, which gave me a huge boost of excitement and much needed reaffirmation that things were progressing. By then I was feeling "ripping" and "burning" and was definitely screaming (I was hoarse the next day) through the contractions but the progress and my energy helped me through. My water broke with a big pop and I remember screaming to everybody, "My water broke!" and looking at Matthew like "oh wow this is really happening" when Baby's head was just a hand's length away. It was only 2-3 contractions later that Nancy Louisa came out all in one whooshing surge. She looked very roly-poly - like a Mr. Potato Head-sized doll, I remember thinking, but then she uncurled and my goodness, limbs everywhere! I knew I was torn up pretty bad (2nd degree... yay...), and it still hurt, but everything afterwards was much, much easier to bear. The placenta came out SO easily with the slightest push from me and I felt nothing. Peeing was harder - it took me maybe 15 min and I was shaking like crazy from adrenaline but that was it. Being stitched up for 45 min for vaginal tearing was NOT fun at all but they gave me laughing gas and I was still on an oxytocin kick from the 2 hours they gave me to recover and bond with Nancy and Matthew first) and I was SO HAPPY to no longer be pregnant and that Nancy was healthy. I never questioned that she would be, which I know was a tremendous blessing. 

Nancy weighed 7 lbs 9 oz, was 20 inches long, and was (and is) absolutely perfect.

Me the day after giving birth (I sweat off about 20 pounds over that weekend--crazy!):

:

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Why I Want to Have a Natural Childbirth

When I was little, I never questioned that I would go for a natural childbirth. My mom had done it with all of her children (except maybe the twins? I can’t remember if she had an epidural or not), and had gone through epidurals/C-sections with some stillbirths, and my memory is that she always spoke most negatively about those times. She didn’t like not feeling in control of her body; she didn’t like having a long, painful, slow recovery; and in all these cases, it seemed as if all decisions had been made by the doctors and she had had no say in the matter. She never held back in describing how painful her natural childbirths were, but she also talked very positively about how smooth and wonderful the recoveries were, in contrast to the times when she had a C-section or an epidural.

So it was natural for me, all the way, with my hypothetical six children, until I actually got married and began seriously reevaluating the size of the cervix and the size of a baby’s head. Then, for a while, I did a 180. Drugs. Definitely drugs. All the way. I would take an epidural, feel nothing, and sleep until it was time to push (for an hour or two) the baby out. Isn’t science the greatest?

This positive, cheery mindset lasted roughly up until the moment when we actually decided to start trying to get pregnant. By this point, a lot of my friends had gone through a lot of childbirth. Some had epidurals; some went all natural. Some went somewhere in between. No one’s story was the same. Every woman had a unique experience, and what surprised me the most was how every story had hallmarks of pain, fear, and uncertainty. There were still the seemingly perfect “I had an epidural and it was wonderful!” stories and the “I went all natural and it was the best experience of my life!” stories, but the ones that really made an impression on me were the hard-hitting, no punches pulled, “I had a BABY and it was crazy and insane and HARD HARD HARD and I didn’t know what I was doing but everything worked out and we’re both okay” stories. And these came from both epidural mamas and natural childbirthing mamas.

So now I was in a pickle. It seemed as though complications could still exist with epidurals. It even seemed like epidurals were more likely to create scenarios where perfectly healthy women with perfectly healthy babies ended up getting C-sections, as if it were a simple procedure and not major surgery that is difficult to recover from.

I was gradually starting to come back to the natural birth method. Why? First, epidurals and hospital births in general are expensive—much more so than giving birth at a birth center or doing a home birth. Second, the best childbirth stories I heard—the ones that came closest to my best-case scenario vision of low pain, swift recovery, and positive experience—were, without exception, natural childbirths. Surprisingly (to me, anyway), they often came from women who were quick to confess that they were not super tough and had a healthy fear of/respect for pain, and would not tough out circumstances that warranted medical intervention. Third, everything about the hospital scenario repelled me. My mom has spoken often about her disgust with having to be monitored constantly and ordered around by the nurses and doctors into certain positions that worsened the pain. Looking back, it seems she got to enjoy the worst of both worlds—an unfriendly, restrictive hospital environment that prevented her from moving, relaxing, and taking charge of her body during a critical time, without drugs or pain relief or even the necessity of having to be there because the baby was in critical condition (we were all fine at birth). Having relatives for doctors has taught me they are just regular people who make mistakes, like everyone else, and that I usually know my own body’s needs better than anyone else. The best doctors will try not to stand in the way of your body fixing itself, but will defer to the wisdom and natural processes of the body. This has always just made sense to me. I wanted to feel safe, empowered, and in control as much as possible of what was happening to me during childbirth. I wanted to be able to try natural pain relief methods for as long as possible and to move, eat, moan, and be in communication with my body’s needs directly rather than rely blindly on the suggestion of nurses and doctors. I also wanted to be mostly left alone, with people I loved and trusted and who wouldn’t make me feel pressured to cater to their needs or their schedule. And the more I read and researched natural childbirthing methods and stories, the more I resonated with women who felt the exact same way. In fact, natural childbirth seemed not only the most natural way, but the optimal way to give birth in any circumstance. I went from fearing it to thinking duh, of course, why isn’t this what every pregnant woman hopes and wishes for? Fourth, I’ll just add that having a water birth has always sounded wonderful to me. My whole life I have been drawn to water. It rejuvenates, comforts, and heals me in a way I don’t fully comprehend. It’s always been a form of physical, mental, and spiritual therapy for me.     


Now, all that being said, I am not anti-epidural or anti-C-section or anti-doctors. Of course there are circumstances in which hospital births are beneficial and necessary for the health of the baby and the mother. If circumstances arise in my pregnancy that necessitate our having to give birth in a hospital or via C-section, I will be disappointed but I will be grateful for that option. I don’t judge any woman for her choice in how to have a baby—that decision is between a woman and her body. I don’t believe in one right way to give birth for every mother. I can only say what I believe right now for me. 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

So long, 2014

This post title can be taken several ways. Firstly, it's been SO LONG since I've written. Sorry for the long dry spell. I have still been writing every week in my journal but for some reason couldn't muster up the interest in doing a blog post. I've probably driven away most of my readers, and that's okay. I'm of the opinion you should mainly write for yourself anyway, and that's what I'm doing more and more these days.

Secondly, 2014 was a loooong year and a turning point for me personally. A lot of things changed (and a lot stayed the same), including some major stuff in our lives that I've been looking forward to since getting married.

Thirdly, obviously, so long, farewell, auf wiedersehen adieu 2014. You were a good year to me. Lots of doubts and things up in the air became happy and secure realities. I'll fill you in on the highlights:

1. I graduated with my master's degree from BYU in June. Being done with school feels absolutely incredible. I still can't get over how much I love not having homework, not writing papers, and not stressing out 24/7. Not crying, stressing, or panicking every week about some school thing or another is pretty fantastic. So far I haven't missed school one iota. I'm still glad I went through the program and got my degree, but I went through seven straight semesters without a single break and was really feeling exhausted, ornery, and unhappy near the end. Writing my thesis was kind of a nightmarish experience. I'm relieved that it all turned out well, but at the moment I am just so thankful to be out of academia. The pressures, perfectionism, bureaucracy, and obfuscation I encountered daily were a constant source of stress, misery, and frustration that I desperately needed to cut out of my life. I feel much happier and in a good place now. Speaking of which...  

2. I was blessed almost immediately after graduation to get a job as an event publicist at the Orem Public Library. It's a part-time job with flexible hours working in a beautiful environment with awesome, creative, friendly people who love books and movies as much as I do. I get to host events, write press releases and manage the library's social media, write for the library blog (it's justbrowsingopl.wordpress.com, if you're interested), write the library newsletter, and mix up my routine with a bunch of different projects and programs that come our way. It's the first job I've had where I actually enjoy thinking about it during my free time. When I was little, I would have been overjoyed to spend all day at the library, and now I get to do that, and yes, it's just about as awesome as I expected. Also, I get to check out movies free of charge - DREAM COME TRUE.

3. Matthew graduated with his bachelor's degree in December. HUZZAH!!! He worked very hard to graduate this year and even took five semesters in a row without a break. Despite his exhaustion and overloading on classes and work hours, he got great grades (say that five times fast) and graduated Magna Cum Laude, same as me. When I met him and we became engaged, he was only a freshman at UVU and I was pretty nervous and tired at the thought of waiting for him to get all of his schooling before we could leave Provo, start a family, do big things, etc. But I'm so glad we've had this time together and been able to grow close and learn more about each other and work through the stresses of school together.

4. Matthew was accepted into Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions to get a degree in physical therapy! It's a three-year program that starts in May and is located in Provo, so we'll be sticking around for another three years. Although someday we'd like to move out of Utah, for now we're happy to be close to our families, to live in an affordable city, and that I can keep my awesome library job for a while.

And now here are some pictures from 2014!

Valentine's Day 2014


 Easter - we got very craftsy


We visited the newly opened Bean Museum


Sarah and I went to Nauvoo on a work/vacation trip


May 28, 2014 - our 3-year anniversary!


My oldest brother moved to Utah with his family in June, so we got a shot of all the siblings. I am still the shortest :(



July 2014 - we hiked Stewart Falls and both went under the waterfall for the first time!


Matthew went first and then told me, "Take off your socks." Wise words.


Sarah and Hannah spent the night with us on July 3 and we got to see the parade and fireworks together on the 4th!


I turned 26 on July 18th - my mom made me this GORGEOUS trifle.


In August we went up to the U and did a photoshoot with my sister



We planned to hike Timpanogos in August but failed, so we ended up doing it early in September. There were a LOT of students on the trail.



Halloween! I was lame and didn't dress up. Booooooo.


Thanksgiving 2014



My good friend Emily invited Matthew and me to a murder mystery dinner party in November. It was such a blast! I loved it. It was set in the 1920s in Chicago - I was supposed to be a reporter and Matthew was a high-rolling gambler. We worked really hard on our costumes (yes, that is a fake cigar made from tape and cardboard) and not so hard on our accents. Someday I'd love to throw one of these. Maybe when we actually get a dining room?


We attended Ancestry.com's fabulous Christmas party in the beginning of December. The food was absolutely amazing. I piled a ton on my plate and ate every single bite. The theme was the roaring 20s, so Matthew got to reuse his stylish vest from the murder mystery :)



Christmas morning 2014 - so happy to see the magic snowfall


Yep, I need a haircut.


Hopefully I get to write a little bit more in the blog in 2015. With Matthew starting graduate school, us planning to move from our apartment of four years in August, and finally a year without finals, I do feel like this will be a big year of change and happiness for us.  

Sunday, January 12, 2014

December 2013 Media Inventory

Guess the year wouldn't be complete without me finishing up this month with some books and movies!

Movies:

The Nativity Story: This was the first time I'd seen this, and I liked it. The ending was a bit like um what now guess we have to wait for the sequel to find out what HAPPENS NEXT?

While You Were Sleeping: Such a cute movie!

The Heat: At first I thought it was okay, and then gradually it just got . . . lame.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey: The movie of the month! We watched this (and all the special features) to get ready for . . .

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug: I thought it was great, but it is on a different (i.e. lower) level of epicness and awesomeness from LOTR in my opinion. And it's super long - I somehow forced myself to see the entire thing without a bathroom break and this was not a good idea.

Pacific Rim: Pretty cool movie. Lots of battles in the water where I couldn't really tell what was happening. Also a lot of stupid moves on the parts of humans and aliens.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn: So sweet and touching. I almost forgot that this is pretty much a Christmas movie.

Won't Back Down: Kinda fun, but I'm a sucker for movies about angry moms reforming schools.

The Decoy Bride: I expected this movie to be totally cheesy and awful, but it had David Tennant and the girl who voices Merida in Brave, and they totally saved it! It was only somewhat cheesy and awful.

American Girl movies: I got really into "the mood" and watched the Samantha, Molly, and Felicity movies. The Samantha one is the funnest to make fun of, but the Felicity one was my favorite for reals this time. I also think Felicity is most faithful to the books. Molly stinks.

Miscellaneous Christmas movies: Miracle on 34th Street (the newer one), The King is Born, A Child's Christmas in the Wales (favorite!), A Christmas Carol, Hans Brinker (shout out to this one - it is really quite fun, especially when you haven't seen it in years but you still remember the funny parts), The Polar Express

Books:

American Girl books: I really got into my past this month - I read all the Molly books and Kit books, and a few random others. It was fun going back.

All Creatures Great and Small: I was too tired to find an exciting new book to read, so I just returned to this old favorite by James Herriot. I just love his stories - the content and the style.

Theater:

The Light in the Piazza: Ooooh this play/musical about a girl vacationing with her mother in Italy bothered me. The acting was excellent and the story was intriguing and the music was okay but I just felt like it went from temporary left everything unresolved and was far too (like unbelievably) optimistic about a lot of things. It went from temporary fairytale to full blown Never-ever-whatever-land.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

November 2013 Media Inventory

Only one more month to go! It's surprising how fast this year has gone by. And at the same time, the months and days seem to go pretty slowly. Here's what I watched and read in November:

Movies:

Sorry, Wrong Number: This movie was surprisingly dark for an old classic. I thought I knew where it was going, and then--whoa.

Anne of Avonlea: Loved it just as much as Anne of Green Gables. Anne. Miss Stacey, and Marilla are my role models.

The Orphanage: I saw this in October, but saw it again with Matthew in November because I liked it so much. We can't wait to play creepy Spanish games with our kids!

The Sound of Music: I was in the mood (you'll see why soon). It was so (remifasolatido) delightful. The songs are still going through my head.

The Waltons Thanksgiving (both of them): This month I got stuck on a Waltons binge-fest. I have been watching my favorite episodes from each season every night while I work on miscellaneous stuff. As of now I'm still interested and I'm in the seventh season. Our kids are definitely gonna be little Walton-ites if this keeps up.

Labyrinth: What the weird. This film reminded me of something I would come up with in a dream after eating too much one night - it would seem like a really cool and awesome idea while I was asleep and then I'd wonder what the heck I was thinking when I woke up. But it was so weird and wacky and awkward and tacky enough to just be sort of . . . cool? At any rate, I now have a good excuse for David Bowie to show up in future crazy dreams.

I am Sam: I really enjoyed this tender and poignant film about a mentally challenged father trying to raise and keep his daughter, not least because she has the beautiful name of Lucy.

Catch Me if You Can: I've seen this one before but it sure is a rollicking good time. Matthew also liked it.

The Intouchables: Matthew and I saw this at the International Cinema and it was SO good. Highly, highly, highly recommend.

Star Trek 2: Love, love, love this movie. And it makes three amazing movies in a row that I watched this month! I was on a roll.

The Magic of Belle Isle: Ehhh... didn't care super much for this one. In fact, I'm not entirely sure I saw the ending.

Something Wicked This Way Comes: Good film to match a good book. Made me miss October.

The Inn of the Sixth Happiness: I don't know why I was in the mood for this, but I was. I haven't seen it since I was an early teenager or thereabouts, so there was a lot of nostalgia in seeing and crying and laughing at the old familiar parts. It is wonderful how movies you watched as a child come to take on new meanings when you watch them as an adult.

Bernie: I watched this in January, so I guess it's my beginning and end of the year movie. Matthew saw it this time and we were both really interested in dead bodies at the time (I'm not going to elaborate unless you ask), so it seemed to fit. Surprisingly, my favorite part this time around was 100% the music.

Frankenweenie: A little weird, a little creepy, a little cute. Sounds about right. I don't think I'll see it again, though - the heart and soul of the whole thing was missing for me. The little dog was adorable, though.

Austenland: Ok, so here's the thing. I know it's pretty much a ridiculous premise and plot and the lack of characterization and background and depth is appalling, yada yada. But is it bad that I thoroughly enjoyed and was entertained by the entire thing from beginning to end? Could it have to do with the fact that I watched it in a theater filled with gasping, squealing, whispering girls? Yeah...

Frequency: Fantastic film. Still has the intensity and the emotional and spiritual punch from the first time when I watched it.

Miracle on 34th Street (the older version): Watched this on Thanksgiving with my family. This time I especially loved the conversation between Fred Gailey and Doris about what things are worth believing in. And yes I actually believe Edmund Gwenn is Santa.

Books:

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall: This is the first book I've read by Anne Bronte. I really loved Wuthering Heights and could not get through Jane Eyre (although I need to give it a second go-round now), and this one fell in the middle of those two for me. It was well written and engaging, but rather belabored and long-winded. And the protagonist got on my nerves.

I Am Not a Serial Killer: The best word I can come up for this one right now is enthralling. Really, seriously, enthralling. I was impressed.

Catch Me If You Can: This semi-autobiography was even more interesting, tricky, and unbelievable than the movie. There were some good insights as well and I thought the author did a good job of presenting his life without over-analyzing or moralizing it.

Theater:

The Sound of Music: I went on a whim to usher for this production of The Sound of Music, which turned out to be done with large puppets (and one human, strangely, to play the part of Mother Superior). I was too far away unfortunately to really appreciate the detail of the puppets, but what I saw was cute and creative. They did a lot of fun marionette tricks that got a lot of laughs. The music really is all you need to have an enjoyable time though.

The Nightingale: I thought I had missed this show when I forgot to sign up to usher for it at BYU, but then they did a free performance at the Provo library and I got a great seat. I sometimes don't care too much for the "children's" shows they put on, but this one was actually probably one of my most favorite. I loved how they incorporated dance, music, and Chinese into the story and the costumes were really beautiful as well.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

October 2013 Media Inventory

Movies:

Lincoln: Pretty good film. I was disappointed it only focused on a small part of Lincoln's story, but it did tell a compelling story, and I love anything to do with Civil War history.

Ramona and Beezus: Such a cute film, and the beginning of my "Comfort Movie October Fest." I especially love the added romance between Aunt Bea and Uncle Hobart - it's like Ramona for adults!

The Words: I thought this was going to be a lot better than it was. Then I was going to settle for it being just a little better than it was. Then I was disappointed that it turned out to be so... pointless.

Puss in Boots: Meh. I lost interest at Humpty-Dumpty. Wish they would do the fairy tale.

Monsieur Lazhar: Of all the films I've seen about inspirational teachers, this was pretty solidly in the middle.

Ballet Shoes: I liked this a lot more than I thought I would. Sweet, interesting story, great acting and characters, and of course, ballet.

The Princess and the Frog: I love this movie! If I'm being honest, the plot is really just sort of so-so, but the look and characters and music are just incredible. I still have all the songs running through my head.

Mud: Continuing with my Louisiana theme... Some fine acting in this film - the conflict and story got a little muddled (ha!), but the acting was excellent.

Wreck-it Ralph: Another super great recent film. There are so many fun and creative details.

Seven Samurai: It had been a long time since I saw this film, but I was in the mood, and very much enjoyed it. I'm glad I watched it at home this time and took my time (I think I watched it over three days).

The Syrian Bride: Great film. Touching, informative, and interesting all at the same time. I loved the family members' individual struggles and dynamics. I just wished there were more of it.

Sons of the Great Bear: My first and probably last experience with German westerns. Weird. I still can't believe I actually watched all of it.

Cinderella 2: Around this time in the month I became obsessed with Disney. I'd never actually seen this movie, so, you know, now I can say I've done it.

Robin Hood: Yes, yes, yes - I approve very much of this film. See my entire post on it below.

Cinderella 3: A little more interesting than Cinderella 2, but still... oh let's be honest. The sequels are always worse.

Arthur Christmas: Fantastic film, and just what I needed to start feeling all Christmasy at this time of year.

Proof: This movie struck me as the sort of movie that would make an okay play and a pretty dull movie - and so it did.

Moneyball: Excellent film that makes me care about baseball, money, and of course, Brad Pitt.

The Jungle Book: I specifically was craving this film. What I noticed about it this time was how haunting and layered and meaningful some of the music is - "Trust in Me" in particular seemed this time to have more sinister, deeper implications than I'd ever noticed before.

World War Z: Not quite what I was expecting from a zombie film. It seemed somewhere in between telling an epic disaster story and a character's personal journey, and didn't quite succeed at either (though Brad Pitt, as always, delivered his usual excellence).

Meet the Robinsons: Cute. Fun. Creative. Colorful. Entertaining.

The Little Mermaid: I was... not impressed. I didn't grow up watching this movie, and watching it now only reaffirms my beliefs that the only parts worth remembering are the songs.

The Adventures of Robin Hood: Matthew had never seen this before - a situation which I simply HAD to rectify. Although I didn't discover and popularize this film in my family until my teenage years, the lines, characters, and adventures all seem an integral part of my past. It doesn't even seem outdated or cheesy to me - just awesome.

Anne of Green Gables: Because I love Anne and it's always been too long since you've seen this.

The Orphanage: Wonderfully and beautifully scary Spanish film with a sweet and poignant message about motherhood as well. I liked it so much I took Matthew to see it later in the same week.

The Thin Man: A classic murder mystery/screwball comedy. There were definitely some good moments of acting/dialogue, but the overall murder plot seemed almost an aside to the comedy and an excuse for cleverness. The end didn't quite explain and resolve itself in a satisfying way.

Books:

The Ladies no. 1 Detective Agency: Beautifully written and insightful book that is both simple and deep. I want to read the later books in this series eventually.

The Castle of Crossed Destinies: A bit like King Arthur meets Canterbury Tales meets postmodern poetry. It's sort of frustrating and sort of fun.

Wit: A Play: I felt I related a lot with this play about a poetry professor who is dying of cancer and struggling to deal with it and her life's study of John Donne's poetry. I'm writing my paper on it, so I should have a lot more to say about it in two weeks.


Portuguese Irregular Verbs: Oh academia - so delightfully ridiculous and humorous and serious you are! I want to read more funny books about touchy and snooty professors.

Something Wicked This Way Comes: I thought this would be a fitting read for Halloween, and I was not disappointed. Strange mix of the real and the fantastic that I wasn't sure would work, but it did. There are so many themes in the conflicts - good versus evil, weak versus strong, and normal, simple, averageness versus unknown, supernatural, specialness, to name a few. I'm keeping my eye out for the film now.