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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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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.

Books on Birth and Parenting

I have to say that when I was newly pregnant (tired, at times emotional, nauseous, etc.)  perusing the long aisles in the bookstore for helpful books seeming like a daunting task. Friends and family came to the rescue and recommended books to read and among the many that I read I’ve narrowed it down to a few that I recommend as “must reads” for new and expecting moms.

Keep in mind that part of my journey to motherhood included a home birth, but these books are wonderful even if you are questioning the typical medical model and want to read more about natural birth, or if you planning on a hospital birth or a birthing inn and want to minimize the number of interventions you and your baby receive.

Ina May’s Guide to Childbirthby Ina May Gaskin. I’ve been lucky enough to hear her speak and Ina May is a wonderfully candid and even humorous person to listen to. This book is full of wonderful and affirming birth stories written by mothers. She also has a new book out titled “Ina May’s Guide to Breastfeeding” which I’m looking forward to reading.

Birthing from Within: An Extra-Ordinary Guide to Childbirth Preparation by Pam England. This book was on my own mother’s shelf and she recommended it to me. I can tell you that while I was in labor this was the single most helpful book. It encourages you to protect your birth space, contemplate your expectations about labor, and truly enter in to the process of birth. I can’t do it justice!

Diary of a Midwife – The Power of Positive Childbearing by Juliana van Olphen-Fehr.

The Business of Being Born (film documentary by Ricki Lake) Also available streaming on Netflix! While I was pretty sure from the start the home birth was for me, Edward took a little more convincing. This movie sealed the deal. It’s a wonderful documentary on the differences between hospital and home birth.

The Happiest Baby on the Block: The New Way to Calm Crying and Help Your Newborn Baby Sleep Longer by Dr. Harvey Karp. Have a fussy baby? A colicky baby? Want to know the basics of soothing a newborn? I highly recommend this easy read – and I recommend you read it before baby’s arrival to smooth the process of becoming a parent. After baby arrives you may be too tired to read anything for a while! I think Edward especially benefited from this book, since this was the first part of parenting he could really take part in.

You may notice there aren’t a lot of parenting books in this category. In part, this is because we haven’t had any real issues and Lucien is only ten weeks old. This is also in part to the fact that when I asked my other parenting mom’s what books I ought to be reading, they promptly replied “burn them all! There is already too much guilt involved with motherhood to be reading books that will make you feel guilty for what you’ve done or haven’t done.” I guess ignorance can be bliss, but I’ll probably find myself at the library or on Amazon at some point.

YOUR TURN: What books have you found helpful in your quest for parenting advice?

Extreme Parenting

We went a few weeks ago for our 6 week check up with our midwives, Brynne and Deren of Mountain View Midwives. I have posted before on my birth story about how much we loved and appreciated our home birth experience.

Our midwives have always taken the time to talk with us, let us make our own decisions, and are so supportive of the mothering process in general. This visit was a simple check up and there wasn’t anything pressing to talk about – Lucien has been growing, eating, and sleeping well (he is in the 75th percentile for length and the 90th for weight, and is sleeping about 6.5 hours at a stretch during the night now that he is 10 weeks).

While at our visit, Brynne and I got on the subject of parenting types. We have taken Lucien with us everywhere  from a very early age. We went to a bridal show at three weeks, a wedding vendor Christmas party at 5 (with an impromptu dinner out with friends afterwards), we’ve been home over the holidays to stay with family, and the list goes on! While I imagined holing up with my little newborn over the winter months, that was not our reality – and I don’t really regret it.

When I mentioned how on-the-go we’ve been she said, “I’ve seen two extreme types of parenting that work well for people – the first is the schedule parenting. These parents have baby home at a certain time, do bedtime a certain way, etc. and that works well for them.”

Then, she said, “On the other extreme are the “rock band groupie” type of parents. These moms and dads take baby wherever they go and baby eats and sleeps whenever and wherever and these parents are happy too. The parents who languish in the middle are the ones I see who are struggling and unhappy.”

Thank goodness we had this conversation! I had been feeling a little guilty that we weren’t part of the scheduling crowd. How wonderful to be given the freedom to call ourselves part of the “groupie” parents who chose this lifestyle because that’s what works well for us. We have changed diapers in restaurant booths and nursed in public places, and that works well for us – we have a happy, healthy boy to prove it.

YOUR TURN: What parenting style works well for you? Are you finding yourself in the middle, and is that working for you and your family?

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.