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    Chiropractor Mama Dr. Dolly and professional photographer Elisa B. share about adventures in intentional and natural parenting while living in Virginia's beautiful Blue Ridge.
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Elisa’s Birth Story

I went into labor on Sunday afternoon around 5:30. I had been hungry all day – no, famished – and had just woken up from a nap. Edward was tired and asked me if I wanted to rest with him for a little while and so we went back to bed and five minutes later I felt a gush and gasped and said I had to go to the bathroom right now! It turns out that the mucus plug had released and my water had broken at the same time. Lucien’s head was right there though, so we didn’t see much water for a while because his head almost immediately stopped the flow.

We called my mom, who hopped in the car to come down, and the midwives to warn them that labor had started though they wouldn’t come right away. We made and ate dinner, and my mom arrived by 8. Contractions were going well, but we decided to go to bed around 10 since things weren’t progressing quickly and there was no point in staying up. Edward and my mom were keeping track of my contractions on a timer so that they would know when to have the midwives come, so each time one began I would call out “lap”. I alternated between feeling sorry for them because I wasn’t doing anything and resenting them for not also being in labor!

By midnight the contractions were strong and I couldn’t handle them lying down, so they would bring my up onto my knees in the bed. Pretty shortly after that my labor got much more difficult because I started to get sick in between contractions. I would have two contractions, vomit, have two contractions … I’m not good at getting sick in the first place and losing a lot of fluid in addition to the physical strain of the vomiting was taking a lot out of me.

Throughout the night Edward and my mom were always available (rubbing my back, reading me scripture, and praying with me) and Brynne and Deren were quietly there to offer advice, suggest something new, and watch over me. I felt safe knowing that they were there, and everyone was so assuring – telling me what a good job I was doing and how strong I was. I really had to dwell on those positive moments because I kept wondering why he wasn’t here yet and thinking I was never going to be able to do this well – the way I wanted to.

Contractions slowed down in the early morning until noon. At least the vomiting had stopped, I thought, but Brynne told my mom that if I couldn’t get fluids in and keep them down I would have to go to the hospital.

This was a low point for me because I didn’t want to go to the hospital – I wanted to have Lucien safely at home. I was tired from hours of contractions and not being able to keep anything down, and worried what would happen if I went to the hospital and how we would be treated. I was disappointed that I was still in labor and that contractions had actually slowed down instead of speeding up toward the finish line. I wanted to cry – I felt so sorry for myself – but I was pretty sure that if I did that I would never stop and then I really would wind up in the hospital out of my own doing.

Finally in the afternoon Deren asked me if I wanted to take a rest or speed things up (I had been able to drink, but contractions were not increasing). Since resting only brought contractions, during which I couldn’t rest, I said I wanted to speed things up. At this point my mom kept reminding me that Lucien would be here soon – while all I could focus on was how much I wanted him here so the labor would be over and we could get some rest! Deren gave me herbs to stimulate the contractions, and as I finished dilating Brynne pushed the cervix up over his head and the show was on!

I asked Edward later how long I was actively in the pushing phase of labor. “It was what, 30 minutes?” More like an hour he said. I didn’t really feel the urge to push until the midwives told me to start pushing – and then wow! This is the part I remember least well. I felt like I was completely in my body, but not in the room. Things were happening to Lucien and I, people were taking care of us, but from a distance. We had work of our own to do.

As he arrived the midwives brought him up to me – I was the first to hold him. His first cry has a whisper – a tiny little “wah”, so polite.

Once his head was out, the rest was quick and soon we were on the bed inspecting each other. It turns out he was a much larger baby than we had anticipated. I had only gained 26lbs. in 41 weeks, so we were anticipating a 7lb. baby, but he was 8lbs. 12oz.! No wonder he took so long! I think I have surpassed in one labor all of my mom’s combined hours of labor with ten children, and birthed a larger baby. Not something a title I was trying for, but I’ll accept it.

Even after the birth I have felt self-criticism and defeat so near. I’ve wondered if I could have had him faster if I had been stronger or braver. I’ve wondered if I did okay – but he is here and mom and Edward have been so quick to tell me I did well. For days afterwards I’ve needed Lucien near me to make sense of what went on, and I am willing now to say, when people ask “I had a hard labor”.

Looking back I realize I was prepared for to surrender to what came with labor, but I hadn’t thought I would need to actually pursue what was uncomfortable or painful. I expected it to come to me, and instead I wound up chasing after it, in order to ultimately attain relief. I would absolutely have a home birth again. I can only guess what interventions there would have been for us at the hospital when we just needed time. Lucien and I were surrounded by love and care the entire 25 hours we labored, and we brought him gently into this world.

–Elisa
Elisa Garvis Bricker December 2 at 5:52pm
I went into labor on Sunday afternoon around 5:30. I had been hungry all day – no, famished – and had just woken up from a nap. Edward was tired and asked me if I wanted to rest with him for a little while and so we went back to bed and five minutes later I felt a gush and gasped and said I had to go to the bathroom right now! It turns out that the mucus plug had released and my water had broken at the same time. Lucien’s head was right there though, so we didn’t see much water for a while because his head almost immediately stopped the flow.

We called my mom, who hopped in the car to come down, and the midwives to warn them that labor had started though they wouldn’t come right away. We made and ate dinner, and my mom arrived by 8. Contractions were going well, but we decided to go to bed around 10 since things weren’t progressing quickly and there was no point in staying up. Edward and my mom were keeping track of my contractions on a timer so that they would know when to have the midwives come, so each time one began I would call out “lap”. I alternated between feeling sorry for them because I wasn’t doing anything and resenting them for not also being in labor!

By midnight the contractions were strong and I couldn’t handle them lying down, so they would bring my up onto my knees in the bed. Pretty shortly after that my labor got much more difficult because I started to get sick in between contractions. I would have two contractions, vomit, have two contractions … I’m not good at getting sick in the first place and losing a lot of fluid in addition to the physical strain of the vomiting was taking a lot out of me.

Throughout the night Edward and my mom were always available (rubbing my back, reading me scripture, and praying with me) and Brynne and Deren were quietly there to offer advice, suggest something new, and watch over me. I felt safe knowing that they were there, and everyone was so assuring – telling me what a good job I was doing and how strong I was. I really had to dwell on those positive moments because I kept wondering why he wasn’t here yet and thinking I was never going to be able to do this well – the way I wanted to.

Contractions slowed down in the early morning until noon. At least the vomiting had stopped, I thought, but Brynne told my mom that if I couldn’t get fluids in and keep them down I would have to go to the hospital.

This was a low point for me because I didn’t want to go to the hospital – I wanted to have Lucien safely at home. I was tired from hours of contractions and not being able to keep anything down, and worried what would happen if I went to the hospital and how we would be treated. I was disappointed that I was still in labor and that contractions had actually slowed down instead of speeding up toward the finish line. I wanted to cry – I felt so sorry for myself – but I was pretty sure that if I did that I would never stop and then I really would wind up in the hospital out of my own doing.

Finally in the afternoon Deren asked me if I wanted to take a rest or speed things up (I had been able to drink, but contractions were not increasing). Since resting only brought contractions, during which I couldn’t rest, I said I wanted to speed things up. At this point my mom kept reminding me that Lucien would be here soon – while all I could focus on was how much I wanted him here so the labor would be over and we could get some rest! Deren gave me herbs to stimulate the contractions, and as I finished dilating Brynne pushed the cervix up over his head and the show was on!

I asked Edward later how long I was actively in the pushing phase of labor. “It was what, 30 minutes?” More like an hour he said. I didn’t really feel the urge to push until the midwives told me to start pushing – and then wow! This is the part I remember least well. I felt like I was completely in my body, but not in the room. Things were happening to Lucien and I, people were taking care of us, but from a distance. We had work of our own to do.

As he arrived the midwives brought him up to me – I was the first to hold him. His first cry has a whisper – a tiny little “wah”, so polite.

Once his head was out, the rest was quick and soon we were on the bed inspecting each other. It turns out he was a much larger baby than we had anticipated. I had only gained 26lbs. in 41 weeks, so we were anticipating a 7lb. baby, but he was 8lbs. 12oz.! No wonder he took so long! I think I have surpassed in one labor all of my mom’s combined hours of labor with ten children, and birthed a larger baby. Not something a title I was trying for, but I’ll accept it.

Even after the birth I have felt self-criticism and defeat so near. I’ve wondered if I could have had him faster if I had been stronger or braver. I’ve wondered if I did okay – but he is here and mom and Edward have been so quick to tell me I did well. For days afterwards I’ve needed Lucien near me to make sense of what went on, and I am willing now to say, when people ask “I had a hard labor”.

Looking back I realize I was prepared for to surrender to what came with labor, but I hadn’t thought I would need to actually pursue what was uncomfortable or painful. I expected it to come to me, and instead I wound up chasing after it, in order to ultimately attain relief. I would absolutely have a home birth again. I can only guess what interventions there would have been for us at the hospital when we just needed time. Lucien and I were surrounded by love and care the entire 25 hours we labored, and we brought him gently into this world.

Sneak Preview

CB106363Yesterday, we had a wonderful adventure at our local Charlottesville Fire Station.  I can’t wait to share the details with you.  Not only can little ones sit in the driver’s seat of the fire engine, but they can experience the lights and siren, too.  Oh, boy! Stay tuned for this week’s Tuesday Travels post when I post photos and details of one of the best kept field trip secrets in Charlottesville.

Thanks for those of you who showed up to the “Make Babyfood from Scratch” class at Whole Foods on Thursday evening.  We’re going to have an encore class soon at a time that’s more convenient for moms with young’uns.  There was enough demand for more information that soon enough I’ll either create a series of posts with the class information on this blog, or I’ll write up an article for a magazine.  Either way, I’ll definitely let you know.

Before this month is over, I will feature an exclusive interview with nationally-acclaimed folk music artist/song writer Ellis Paul of The Dragonfly Races.  Learn from a professional music artist the beautiful and subtle differences in writing quality songs for children compared to adults–but, even better, writing music that can be shared by both.  Also, learn how to help your children instill a love of music from an early age.

I’ve received numerous comments and e-mails about the “41 weeks and 1 day pregnant…seriously” post.  Thank you to all of you who share your past-“due” pregnancy stories and triumphant birth stories with me.  I love it.  Yes, I know I never posted the conclusion to the seemingly never-ending pregnancy.  But as you can see, my son, now one and 1/2 years old was born healthy and happy.  I’ve responded to many of you individually through e-mail with my birth story.  I’ve hemmed and hawed about whether to post something so personal, challenging, and amazing on my blog.  And, I’ve decided to not put it “out there” for anyone to read at any point in time.  However, if you e-mail me, there is a strong possibility that we may end up sharing our very personal and significant birth stories through e-mail.

I’m always interested in learning more about what YOU would like to read about on Traveling with Baby.  I read and heart every comment and e-mail.  So, keep the feedback coming, and I’ll continue to keep it real.

Baby Stats Winner!

Thanks to all 3 of you who played the Baby Garnecki Stats Contest. Congratulations to Kristen who e-mailed me her prediction which is noted below. She came the closest on weight and birthday, although Allycia was a very very close second! I enjoyed reading Heather’s prediction description about the Reformation Day baby.

Congrats Kristen! You will receive a special chocolaty treat for your winning guess.
Kristen C:

birthday: 10/29 at 8:30a.m. after a morning walk and a quick dash to the hospital because you are ready to push.

gender: a boy, 21 inches, 8 lb 12 oz

name: Elijah Steven (just a guess because that is exactly what my cousin-in-law just named their newborn)

It’s a HE-Necki!

Calvin Kai Garnecki was born on Tuesday, October 30th at 5:06 AM.  He weighed in at 8 lbs. 8 oz. and measured 22 inches.  His head circumference was 14cm.  This healthy boy got triple 10s on the APGAR!

He’s adapted to nursing extremely well, although I’m still getting used to the initial soreness.  He’s very calm and content.  The only times he’s fussy is when he’s getting his diaper changed and from midnight to 3AM which is just his active period when nothing in the world can console him.  The rest of the day and night, he’s sleeping or nursing like a champ.

I’ll post pictures soon.  And, I’ll also figure out who came the closest to guessing baby’s birthday and statistics.  Everyone was WAY off on the name, but hey, thanks for playing!

Just for Fun Baby Stats Contest

1. GUESS when baby will be born: day & time

2. GUESS baby’s stats: gender, length & weight

3. GUESS baby’s name: first & middle

Whomever comes the closest to guessing correctly in each category will be recognized in a future post on this blog, and maybe I’ll even send you a really cool prize.

I’m already post-due, so you’ve got a fairly narrow window for guessing baby’s birthday.  Yeah, the name thing is really out there, but if you’ve read my previous posts on names, at least you know what NOT to guess.

Have fun and thanks for playin’!

41 weeks + 1 day pregnant . . . seriously!

Yes, I’m still pregnant.  I’ve tried every induction method to date (minus rupturing the bag of waters), and obviously none have worked.  I even tried the castor oil and my worst fear came true, for yet the umpteenth time this pregnancy, I barfed . . . 2 hours after having castor oil.  It never even made it to my bowels to work as a laxative to get things moving in that direction.

Either I am carrying the world’s most stubborn baby or my uterus just refuses to contract in such a way as to get things rolling.  Or, it’s a combination of both.

I’m baffling everyone with my ever so slow progression of labor.  No, it’s not unusual for a first baby to be 2 weeks overdue, that’s not the crazy part.  What’s crazy is that I had serious signs of early labor at 37 weeks, and then I was dilated to 4cm since 38 weeks with the baby’s skull very descended and engaged ready to go in addition to at least 50% effacement.  All in all, it appeared as though I would most likely deliver EARLY and definitely not too overdue.

And yet, every exam revealed more dilation and effacement with the baby’s movement and vitals still normal and healthy.  Although I don’t get checked again until tomorrow, I’m pretty sure I’m somewhere between 7 and 8cm dilated.  I’m not even kidding.  No, I’m not in pain, although sometimes I’m a little uncomfortable when walking or sitting.

Have I had painful contractions?  Not really.  I’ve had lots of contractions, sometimes even 5-10 minutes apart for hours on end, but they’re typically painless.  I’ve had a handful that feel like mild menstrual cramps, but they’re seldom regular and they haven’t kicked into active labor.

On Saturday, I hit my wall.  I’ll call this transition.  Most people define “transition” as that period when a mom is dilated to around 7-8 cm and the physical pain is intense.  This is usually the timeframe when she’s grumpy, angry, desperate, yelling expletives, cursing her husband for getting her in this situation, asking for pain meds, and just hitting the wall.  Usually, it only lasts 20-30 minutes, then it’s time to push out the baby.

No, I have not hit any major physical pain areas of labor just yet (although 8 months of heartburn have plagued me to extreme frustration and irritation).  The most bewildering thing to me is that I have mentally prepared myself to deal with the pain of the birth process.  I know it will suck, I know it may be the worst pain I ever endure, and I know it may surpass even the worst menstrual cramps I’ve ever had (and I’ve had some so severe that I wished I would die).  I am ready to embrace physical pain.  What I was never prepared for was the pregnancy that would never end. . . one that isn’t exactly covered in the textbooks . . . one that defies all labor induction methods. . . one that just baffles everyone.

Steve says my biggest hurdle isn’t necessarily the physical pain of childbirth (pain sucks for everyone, let’s face it), but my biggest and most intolerable factor is that this is utterly trying my patience.

I’ve heard from so many people that I should have had this baby by now based on the way I’ve been dilating.  Or that certain induction methods are fail-proof.  Well, they all fail on me.  Those that tell me that I’ll have a fast active labor because I’ve progressed so far, I just block that out.  If it takes me this long (weeks) to dilate this far, then how do I know I won’t be pushing for 4 or 5 hours?  I’m just going to mentally prepare myself for it, and if it’s all over in less than 2 hours, then hey, I won’t be disappointed.

When people tell me I’m not in labor or the baby will come when it’s time . . . well, that just pisses me off.  Just because my labor doesn’t look like everyone else’s doesn’t mean it’s not labor.  Sure, you can have Braxton-Hicks contractions for months on end, but that doesn’t mean they’re contractions that progress you toward active labor.  My contractions may mostly be painless, but I’m definitely progressing.  It’s just VERY VERY SLOW.  Of course the baby will come when it’s time, but PLEASE don’t tell me I’m being impatient.

If I was impatient, I would have had a hospital birth.  Had that happened, by now, they would have broken the bag of waters, given me pitocin which may have escalated into them offering me an epidural or wheeling me off to get a cesarean section.  And, by now, I’d have had the baby.  But no, I’m not willing to go that route.  And, Steve and I don’t think there’s been anything negative or harmful to trying an eggplant recipe, warm baths, stout beer (yes folks, it’s okay to have a little alcohol at the end of pregnancy), rupturing of membranes, acupuncture, sacral massage, herbs, etc.

I took Sunday off from thinking about pregnancy and labor.  Mostly because I wanted to be home to run to the toilet after taking the castor oil.  I also didn’t want to go to church and be be reminded yet again by people that I was still pregnant.  Like I’d forgotten the obvious.

Steve answered the phone and ran interference for me.  We listened to a sermon on CD, cooked together, and just enjoyed a day at home alone together without being busy or without any routine associated with pregnancy or inducing labor.  Yesterday was wonderful.  And last night, I finally had a decent night of sleep for the first time in at least a week . . . thanks to a shoulder massage and lavender oil.

I’ve had 5 acupuncture treatments for labor induction to date.  She’s only really charged me for the first one because she said, “It’s not your fault you have a stubborn baby!”  The most she’s ever done on a pregnant mom (aside from me) into active labor is 3 treatments; yet the average amount of treatments is only 1.  Yes, I’m defying the odds because I am an anomaly.  So, every day, they set me up an appointment to come in the next morning for another treatment.  Hey, it’s not harmful to the baby, and it’s relaxing.  I’m not expecting anything to happen because nothing has happened thus far.

I’m just gonna keep taking each day as it happens, and at some point in time . . . hopefully THIS YEAR, this baby will be born, and we can start a new chapter as new parents.

Until then, know that I do appreciate the love, support, and concern from friends and family.  I’m over my transitional period of being pissed off at the situation and the things people say to me.  But, your best bet is to not ask me if we’ve had the baby yet . . . trust me, you will know.  I’ll call many of you, and others will read about it on the blog.

At this point, we are continuing to pray for a healthy baby.  If we hit 42 weeks, we will go in for a biophysical stress test at a hospital.  Steve’s grandparents return approximately on Wednesday.  So, we’re praying the baby is born before then so that I can labor and birth in privacy in this house.  Unfortunately, we thought I was in early labor last Thursday, so they went away to visit a relative and to give us space and privacy.  How were we to know that early labor would last so many days thereafter?  We thank you for keeping us in your prayers.  That’s the most wonderful thing you can do for us right now.

___________________________________________________________

Read my summarized  birth story in my letter to my son when he turned one.

–By Dr. Dolly
Twitter me: drdolly

Music to Labor By . . .

Labor may be long, but I want it to be as relaxed as possible.  So, I plan on having some relaxing, upbeat, positive songs and CDs in the stereo. I’m requesting song or CD suggestions from YOU.  Comment back with ideas.

For now, I’m planning on using the following:

  • On and On – Jack Johnson
  • In Between Dreams – Jack Johnson
  • Peace Like a River: The Hymns Project – Chris Rice
  • Amusing – Chris Rice
  • Feels Like Home – Norah Jones
  • Overdressed – Caedmon’s Call
  • Long Line of Leavers – Caedmon’s Call
  • Various songs performed by Eva Cassidy, John Mayer, Sheryl Crow, Diana Krall, Snow Patrol, Coldplay, David Gray, Dave Barnes, & Mazzy Star

Anyway, I expect labor will last far more hours than the number of CDs and songs I have listed, so please give me some ideas!!