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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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Holly’s Story

Dolly and I realize that we’ve got the boys covered. Between Calvin and Lucien we’ll be able to comment on a great deal of mommy-hood. However, we do have some friends who are expecting little girls. I interviewed Heather, and featured her on the blog last week. This week I wanted to feature my dear friend Holly, who is also expecting a little girl!

I interviewed her a few weeks ago, when she was at 36 weeks, and we are anticipating the little one’s arrival any day now!

Breaking the News: My husband, Jason, and I had been trying to conceive for more than a year, so he’d become very invested in and knowledgeable about the process. He could read a fertility chart with alacrity! We both had longed for and prayed for a baby, and admittedly had harbored fears of infertility, even only after a year. I can’t say that I invested a lot of thought or planning into my announcement of the news. I remember feeling a mixture of elation and bewilderment when I first saw the smiley face on the pregnancy test. I wanted to tell Jason right away. Jason was doing his morning ritual of checking email and baseball news, and I immediately went in and told him we needed to stop and have a big breakfast to celebrate a big change in our family. This was a Monday or Tuesday, so I think he was initially confused as to why. So I spelled it out, “We’re pregnant!!” and a huge smile crept over his face, and I even think he was a little teary.

Birth Plan/Prenatal Care: We hope and pray for a natural birth and will be seeking the support of a doula to help us achieve that goal. My husband and I have also attended birth classes and done reading (yes, Jason has faithfully been reading Penny Simkin’s The Birth Partner) and had discussions to prepare. I know Jason will provide a lot of support, and we’re trying to be creative about a variety of relaxation strategies and positions to help us through the first stage of labor. I can’t say we have a strict philosophy that completely rules out the possibility for medical intervention or pain relief, but we do understand that such medical interventions are overused in our medical system and can actually hinder the labor process. I also know from the stories of some women that medical pain relief—if used wisely and not indiscriminately—can help to assist women who are completely exhausted or progressing extremely slowly in having the birth experience they long for and even prevent C-sections.

We chose our OB based on his reputation for supporting couples in having the kind birth experience they believe best and his decades-long experience in delivering babies and handling any complications. I’ve really appreciated his laid-back style and his genuine desire to avoid medical intervention or c-sections unless deemed truly necessary for the safety of the baby. Admittedly, sometimes he can seem too laid-back (after you’ve describe yet another of your incredibly unique symptoms, and he nods and chirps, “yeah, that’s normal” for the hundredth time ;)). But I’ve appreciated this and interpreted it as a conscious attempt to reduce the anxiety that many women feel during pregnancy. The stories I’ve heard from his previous patients and from the nurses who’ve worked with him at Martha Jefferson have confirmed this impression. One RN mentioned that he deliberately seemed to keep a low profile during the laboring process, because he didn’t want to be tempted to interfere with strategies for coping that were working or to rush the process. I think that’s pretty unique.

Healthy Measures: I have to say that I’ve been more conscious of my nutrition since learning I was pregnant. I have to give part of the credit to our OB, who has a reputation in town for being strict about weight gain during pregnancy. Rather than succumbing to my previous fantasies of copious indulgences and a license for eating during pregnancy, I’ve found myself deliberately trying to cover all the food groups, to avoid excessive simple carbs (my definite weakness), and to stick within reasonable calorie limits (though of course I’ve never deprived myself or the baby). I love to eat. I was blessed not to struggle with morning sickness during this pregnancy and have instead had a raging appetite, which I’ve needed to keep in check. Jason and I have also been committed to eating a lot of fresh produce and buying organic whenever possible.

Wise Words: Probably the best advice has been to take all advice and especially any parenting books with a grain of salt. There’s not a single strategy or parenting style that is best for your baby, as long as you’re providing a nurturing, loving environment for your child. Jason and I will probably be weaving a parenting tapestry from the advice we’ve received from multiple sources.

Challenges: One challenge early in the pregnancy was that Jason had accepted a grant to do some academic research at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island during the months of August and September. That meant he was away for a substantial portion of my first trimester. We’d also just adopted a new puppy (before our discovery of the pregnancy)—an adorable little Boston Terrier—and I found myself occasionally weary with caring for and training him and keeping up with life and work without my husband’s help. To top it off, we were keeping the pregnancy a secret until well into the second trimester, so I couldn’t call upon the sympathy of friends of co-workers. Fortunately, I had revealed the news to some of our dear friends locally (Elisa and her husband), and they went out of their way to support me, feed me, and help with the puppy.

More recently, I’ve been struggling with the aches and pains of the last month of pregnancy and many consistent bouts of Braxton Hicks contractions in the evenings and at night. And I’m sure Jason is becoming weary of the spurts of groaning and sighing that often accompany my effort to dress, tie my shoes (maybe that’s why he’s pushing me to buy Crocs), pick up dropped objects, and climb stairs.

Memorable Moments: I’ve learned that I am not in control—not of the timing of conception, the ultimate progress of the pregnancy, and the experience of childbirth itself. After all, Jason and I did not ultimately create this baby. God has been gracious and sweet in showing me this and teaching me to acknowledge that my own sense of control over how everything turns out is false. Not to suggest, of course, that we can’t make good choices in the best interest of this baby.  But I believe learning that I am not completely in control during pregnancy will help when I inevitably confront feelings of inadequacy as a mother.

This pregnancy has brought so much renewed joy and excitement into my life. I’m sure like most women anticipating motherhood, I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude for this baby girl and a deep yearning to meet her, know her, and love her well. It also gave me the freedom and excitement I needed to leave a job that was not fulfilling and to begin to consider anew what my calling is in the world—what I can contribute as a mother and wife and how my other gifts and passions might be used.

I’ve been trying to imagine the moment when Jason and I see and hold our little baby girl for the first time. The emotional impact of that moment probably can’t be understood fully until you’ve experienced it. I know that having a baby can strain a marriage, but I also look forward to the immense sense of oneness and shared love we will share when we encounter her and begin learning what it means to love her.

PS To see Holly’s maternity preview from her photo session click here.

Heather’s Story

Heather is a good friend of mine, and is pregnant for the first time. She’s about 33 weeks along and expecting a little girl named Noel Virginia (I can’t wait to meet her!). I asked Heather to share some of her thoughts on pregnancy, and she was happy to oblige. I’m hoping to follow up in a few months when she is a new mommy!Finding Out: I took a pregnancy test a couple of days after I’d been feeling totally different (SO SLEEPY) and just had a feeling that something was up. With 3 positive tests, it started to sink in that we were going to have a baby! My husband got home from work that evening to find me sitting on the couch waiting for him. I can only imagine what look I must have had on my face, whatever it was prompted him to ask me “What did you buy?!” (hahaha). When I told him what that look really meant he was teary eyed and speechless for a few minutes…. it took a little while for the reality to sink in for both of us, we’re extremely excited to meet our baby girl!  


Birth Plan/Prenatal Care: After looking at our options and doing some research my husband and I decided to have our baby at home. Noel and I have been receiving excellent care from our midwife, Liz O’Shea. I’ve been going to see her every 4 weeks for a visit since I was 12 weeks along, we start going every 2 weeks until she’s born this week. We’re coming close to the end… I guess I should say the beginning! At 36 weeks she’ll come by for our home visit, making sure everything is set up and ready for our little girl’s arrival. 

 Healthy Measures: I’ve been watching what I eat – making sure I’m getting plenty of protein, not too much sugar (sometimes you just HAVE to have it though!) plenty of veggies, drinking pregnancy tea, and taking my prenatal vitamins. Exercising, drinking plenty of water, and trying to stay as low stress as possible. My hubby has been a huge help in reminding me to care for myself and our daughter!Wise Words: I’ve been so blessed to be surrounded with other mothers who have been encouraging me and keeping me focused on what I need to do for myself and my daughter. The advice just keeps coming and I’m doing my best to soak it in and apply it! What have you learned so far? I’ve been reading plenty of books on natural pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, and caring for your child’s health, just to name a few – Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, by Ina May Gaskin, The Thinking Women’s Guide To a Better Birth, by Henci Goer, Ina May’s Guide to Breast Feeding, by Ina May Gaskin, How To Raise a Healthy Child in Spite of Your Doctor, by Robert S. Mendelsohn. I’ve also watched, The Business of Being Born, and Orgasmic Birth, along with various other videos provided by our Bradley Method class. The Bradley Method – Natural Husband Coached Childbirth – was a 12 week class my husband and I just finished with. They’re really big on nutrition, exercise and informing you of all of your options for making the best decision for your family. It was a lot of fun for my husband and I, and it really gave him a lot to think about and prepare for her birth. P.S. Everyone must read this just for fun!! – Belly Laughs: The Naked Truth About Pregnancy and Childbirth, by Jenny McCarthy 

 Memorable Moments: The first 16 weeks were filled with nausea and being exhausted. After that 16 week mark it was like flipping a switch, I felt SO much better! If you had asked me then if I’d plan on having any more children I probably would have slapped you! Now though my thoughts are completely different, I haven’t even met her yet and I know that this is TOTALLY worth it. Aside from some aches and pains of a growing womb and child I feel wonderful. Although I do have my moments of feeling fat and pudgy, I get over feeling sorry for myself when I remember that my extra fat storage is good for my little girl and in time it will be gone.  I think I’ll miss feeling and watching her squirm around inside of me, but I’ll get to hold my baby, so I think that will make up for it! I am looking forward to my next pregnancy … somewhere down the road of course. I think I’ll be better prepared for all of the little changes that occur during pregnancy and not freak out when something completely normal happens. For example leaking colostrum way before I thought it would be an issue – that was a weird sight to see, but totally normal.  I can’t tell you how many times in these past few weeks I’ve opened a door into or walked into someone with my stomach. Or seeing that tight space that before pregnancy would have been a piece of cake to squeeze through, then going for it only to get stuck! Also my nephews must think that my big round belly is a target for them to jump at – they do a good job of keeping me on my toes!   

PS For a complete sneak peek from Heather’s maternity session click here.