November 26, 2013

Genevieve's Birth Story

What a daunting task – trying to put into words the hardest, most intense, miraculous, life-giving, four days of my life. I will do my best to adequately express all the emotions and details involved in the birth. When I was pregnant, I found reading other birth stories to be so uplifting and encouraging, especially difficult births. It gave me confidence that despite the circumstances of the labor, I will get through it. It also helped me realize that no two births are the same and I must hold my expectations loosely. Most birth stories are not simple, textbook, 12-hour labors, but labor will come to an end and you will hold your beautiful baby.

I am going to be very honest and vulnerable in this story. I’ll also be sharing a lot of details about childbirth. If that’s ‘too much information’ for you, then perhaps you should just read the condensed version here. 
Otherwise, enjoy!
The birth of Genevieve Lark:
Monday, November 4th:
It all began on Monday morning, November 4th. I had been feeling a little crampy in my back but nothing noteworthy. That morning I used the bathroom and, lo and behold, I lost my mucous plug. I had my 38 week appointment with my midwife at 11 am and conveniently my mom was already planning on going with me so she could meet my midwife before the birth. Jennifer, my midwife, noticed my uterus contracting and made a mental note of the progress. I felt the cramps but at this point I couldn’t really feel the start or end of a contraction. I had to touch my belly to feel the uterus tightening in order to know I was even having a contraction. She also told me that Genevieve was fully engaged in my pelvis. During the appointment contractions went from 15 minutes to 10 minutes apart. I was officially in early labor. My mom and I chuckled because we’d both known that I would go into labor early. I called my office and told them I was officially going on maternity leave.

I was so glad my mom was with me! We ran to the grocery store to stock up on food and get all the last minute details in place. I let my birth team know that things were starting. I felt like I was floating, my mind was so scattered but I also felt so calm and full of peace. I spent the rest of the afternoon cleaning, eating and resting, knowing that this could last a while. By 4:00 pm contractions were 8-10 minutes apart but easy to work through. My mom left and Michael came home from work. We spent our last few hours alone together. That evening we walked around our neighborhood hoping to get things going. By 7:30 contractions were more like 7 minutes apart. I wanted to distract myself, so Michael, my mom, my mother-in-law, and I played a round of dominos. By the end of the game I was over it and wanted to focus on the contractions. At 9:30 I iced some birthday cupcakes for when we would celebrate Genevieve’s birthday. And then I was ready for bed. Everyone left and I tried to ‘sleep’. I was really restless and just wanted the heated pad on my back. Contractions were 6 minutes apart. Karlie, my doula and dear friend, showed up at midnight and we all tried to get some sleep. I woke up at 5 am and barely felt contractions. It was so strange because all night I was feeling so much. When contractions pick up and slow back down, it’s called prodromal labor.

Tuesday, November 5th:
Tuesday morning we woke up, ate some breakfast and took a walk in Shelby Park. It was so nice to spend a few hours outside getting some fresh air. Contractions picked back up and were again at 6-8 minutes apart. 
Savoring the last moments of pregnancy
My midwife came over around noon to check on me and see how things were going. She asked if I wanted to be checked to know my cervical dilation.

Here’s where things get vulnerable: When I was young I experienced sexual abuse. Because of this I have had issues with annual check-ups, intimacy with my husband, and even wearing tampons. It is something that I have worked through in counseling, some physical therapy, and just time. But it is still difficult for me to physically get my pelvic floor muscles to relax. It’s a condition called vaginismus. It definitely crossed my mind that this would play a role in labor but I never really gave it much thought because I didn’t want to believe that my dreams of a natural, vaginal birth could be hindered by trauma I experienced years ago.

Suffice it to say, Jennifer tried to check my dilation but wasn’t really able to because it hurt me too much and the last thing she wanted to do was cause more trauma. Everyone who was at my house left so I could be alone with Michael. I was feeling really down after the failed cervical check and I started crying. After 2 hours of feeling weepy, my mom, sister and a couple of close friends came over to cheer me up. Contractions were still regular but I could work through them by simply breathing. They gave me massages and lifted my spirits. My midwife came back over and felt it would be best if everyone left so I could try and get some more rest. I cried again and we went to bed at 6 pm. In the middle of the night the contractions got really intense. Michael got up and made me some eggs, lit some candles and helped me through the contractions. I knew that this was still early labor and I was just so tired, I wanted to go back to bed. So I worked through contractions the rest of the night, falling into deep sleep in the minutes between them.
Working through contractions
Wednesday, November 3rd:
Wednesday morning my mom and Karlie came by the house. They lifted my spirits once again and painted my toenails. I then had a chiropractor appointment at noon to see if my chiropractor could help with the intense hip pain and to help baby get into a better position. For the next 2 hours Karlie, Michael and I walked around the neighborhood, stopping when contractions hit. Our midwife came back and checked my cervix, this time with a little more help and coaching from Karlie and Michael. I was only 4 cm dilated. Jennifer decided to take some blood to make sure it wasn’t an infection causing the contractions because I wasn’t really progressing at all. Jennifer left to run my blood to the lab. Right after she left I had an intense contraction and noticed clear fluid running down my leg; it was around 5 pm that my water broke. Contractions felt like they were picking up so we called our midwife and Michael started setting things up. I was so excited that something was happening! Jennifer showed up at 8 pm with all her supplies (By the way, midwives come with LOTS of supplies. She had 3 trunks full of equipment). By 9 pm the tub was set up and I got in. Mary, the midwife assistant, also showed up at this time. I was in the tub for about 30 minutes but couldn’t really feel the contractions anymore. I could tell that the warm water was slowing labor down, but it really did feel so good! I got out of the tub and at 10 pm Jennifer checked me again. I was still tensing up really bad but it seemed like my cervix had made progress. At that point we believed we were in active labor. 

From 10-12 Michael and I worked through contractions like champs. We were pulling out all of our tricks from our childbirth classes. I remember thinking, ‘why am I so alert?’ ‘This isn’t that bad, I mean the contractions are really intense but not impossible to work through’. By 2 am my midwife checked me again and could not feel any cervix, we thought this must mean I was fully dilated. It was so strange because I had no urge to push. For the next hour, Michael and I were in the nursery while the birth team got rest and we were seeing if I could ‘push’. But nothing. Karlie had to leave at 5 am to go back to work in Chattanooga and I started feeling frustrated. We were so close to meeting our little one, we were absolutely exhausted and I knew things were strange.
Karlie snapped this picture as I stared working through contractions in the tub.
Thursday, November 4th:             
By morning my midwife knew that something was not right. We decided to get me on the bed and try some assisted pushing. She wanted to feel my cervix while I pushed during a contraction to get an idea of what was going on. With the help of Mary and Michael, I was able to fully relax so Jennifer could do another cervical check. They massaged my legs, used hot compresses and even lavender oil. It was at this point that Jennifer realized what was really going on. In the gentlest voice and with tears in her eyes, she told me that she was finally able to feel the cervix for the first time. Jennifer had been concerned that the reason I was not progressing was because my pelvis was too small. But after that last check she knew I had room to get my baby out. However, I was only 4 cm dilated with a very posterior cervix. Because of my previous trauma my pelvic floor muscles were so tight that she was not able to do an adequate exam the night before; the muscle felt like a bone. She had to put transferring to the hospital on the table because instead of being 10 cm dilated without the urge to push, I was barely in active labor and my water had been broken for over 12 hours. It is my midwife’s and Vanderbilt’s policy not to wait more than 24 hours after the membrane has ruptured due to the risk of infection, especially without any progress. Because I was exhausted, they thought maybe an epidural is what I needed to facilitate the relaxation of the pelvic floor.

This is when we hit rock bottom. We were pretty much told that after 3 days of consistent contractions, and what we thought was the end in sight, we were starting all over. We were still in early labor. I was exhausted, Michael was exhausted and we did not know what to do. I was in shock. I didn’t know how to process it all. I remember not feeling any emotion, like I was numb. I asked her if we could have a minute and once she left, Michael and I sobbed in our bed for almost an hour. So many thoughts were racing through my head – What do I need to pack for the hospital? Will I be sleeping at the hospital tonight? Should I just get a C-section? How will we pay for it all? So I am not having a home birth? And more than all of that I was thinking that I can’t do this anymore. I have no energy. I have no drive. I am done. Can someone just knock me out for the next 3 days? And as I am feeling those emotions, contraction after contraction continued to hit me. These were really hard to work through emotionally because I had thought they were transition contractions and now I know these were only early labor contractions. I was struggling.

I left Michael in the bedroom and went out to see my midwife and her assistant. Jennifer recommended that Michael try and get some sleep because if we were to transfer to the hospital he would need as much energy as possible to support me. It’s all a blur what happened next. I needed my mom. Conveniently she was across the street at my sister’s house waiting to come over. Once she arrived I broke down in her arms and continued to work through contractions. Next thing I remember, I am laying on the couch in my mom’s lap and Jennifer and Mary are sitting next to me. Jennifer told me that we do have a time constraint because my water had broken but she affirmed me that I could do it. Because I was able to relax during the last cervical check, she told me, my body knows how to relax but I have to keep doing that in order to progress. I didn’t want to be a victim to my abuse, something from which I thought I had already healed. Everyone in that room really believed that I could overcome this. Michael came out from the bedroom because he didn’t want to sleep and told Jennifer in tears that he could not be away from me and that he really wanted this home birth for my sake. He switched places with my mom and we got down to business.

Two things needed to happen in order for us to continue with a home birth. First, I needed to fully relax my pelvic floor. I was not going to progress if this didn’t happen. This would be quite a feat because I had spent years struggling to do this. Leg massages, warm compresses, and lavender oil are what it took to help me achieve this. I think the fact that I was utterly exhausted also aided in the relaxation. Second, I needed to have more intense contractions. So we used pressure points, different positions, nipple stimulation and black and blue cohosh. Jennifer wanted to do another check. With Michael’s encouragement and Mary relaxing the muscles in my thighs, Jennifer was able to check my cervix without any trouble. There was a lot of blood and I was 5-6 cm with the cervix moving more anterior, which meant things were progressing! If I had not shown progress at this point, we would be going to the hospital.

This is when everything got real. Something happened in this moment. I really believe it was all the prayers that were said for us that morning because the hope and strength I felt right then was powerful. I actually believed I could have a home birth. With my new wave of energy I managed to get all my clothes off, I took another dose of black and blue cohosh and I was doing nipple stimulation all in hopes of getting things going. My midwife laughed and said, ‘This is what a laboring woman looks like’. It was such a contrast from the night before when I thought I was in active labor. All my inhibitions were gone and my only thoughts were getting this baby out. I could care less about a water birth, who was there, if it would end but being filmed, how I looked, etc. My 'plans' and expectations went out the window. It was raw and intense.

I was officially in labor land. Other moms who have had natural labor know what I am talking about. I was focused and in another world. I wasn’t really talking between contractions I just wanted to labor uninterrupted. I worked through a few contractions on the couch, then I moved to the bedroom with the yoga ball on the bed and worked through contractions standing up leaning on the ball. I even tried on my hands and knees in the shower to see if the warm water would help. Through every single contraction I needed Michael by my side and Mary massaging my legs. It was the only way I was able to fully relax all my muscles. My body was developing a routine and system for working through each contraction. 

I moved to the bed and once there, I didn’t want to move. I was leaning up against Michael and using his hands for stability. Unfortunately, a water birth was off the table. I needed Mary and Michael to actively assist me through each contraction and they couldn’t have done that if I was in the tub. I didn’t expect to be so vocal. I was seriously loud. They were deep, primal groans that came from who knows where. I learned later that I was so loud my neighbors across the street thought there was someone in their house ;) The low groans helped me so much! It’s like I got lost in the noise and the vibrations in my head. It’s what I focused on during each contraction.

As they intensified, I knew I had to throw up. I remember vomiting quite a few times and feeling so much relief. It was hard though because I would finish a contraction then during the break I would be throwing up and then move right back into a contraction. That was tough. Jennifer checked me again and I was 7 cm. More progress! Anytime Mary would leave the room, I would yell out, “Mary, I need you! Another contraction!” She never got a break! Such a rock star.

I started to get the urge to push so I gave it a try during the next few contractions. It felt so amazing to finally be doing something proactive. Jennifer wanted to check me again before I got serious with the pushing to make sure I was fully dilated. I was only 8 cm. She instructed me to not push, to fight the urge because pushing right now could mean damaging the cervix. My goodness this was the hardest part of the entire labor process. I got flat on my back and when a contraction came on I would breathe through it as long as possible until the urge got too strong and then I would vibrate my lips to fight the need to push. It was excruciating. I still remember how I felt looking up at my ceiling thinking I was dying. No joke, I thought I was dying. I looked at both Jennifer and Michael many times saying things like “I can’t do this, I can’t handle any more contractions, I want to die”. But there comes a moment that you realize – there is no way out. I can’t push pause. I think I even said something like can we try for babies next year, I am not ready. It was seriously overwhelming. My dear husband was totally prepared for this. He knew that when I was giving up, that was a good sign. So he really got in my face encouraging me every second. I was in transition. About 30 minutes of fighting this urge, my midwife checked me right when a contraction hit. I didn’t know what she was doing at that moment but I remember thinking she was ripping something. I yelled her name and dropped the F-bomb. She was moving the tiny bit of cervical lip over the baby’s head. I asked her if I could push now and she said yes.

When it’s time to push, it’s like a whole new surge of energy hits. Out of instinct I stood up at the foot of my bed and during the next contraction I pushed with all my might using my midwife for support.  It was so relieving! In our childbirth class we were instructed to take 2 breathes and then push for a count of 6. That went out the window. By the time I had pushed for 6 seconds, I was just getting started. I probably pushed for 20 seconds at a time. I was using the power of the contractions with the pushing and it really did feel so much better. My groans got louder and deeper, if that is even possible, and I yelled out, “If anyone is in the living room they can come in!” My mom, sister and our videographer stood at the door as I pushed again squatting on the bed with Mary and Michael supporting each arm. There was a lot of bleeding and my midwife wanted me to lay back on the bed with Michael supporting my body so she could get a better look of what was going on.

I remember feeling my baby move down the birth canal. It was incredible. During the next contraction my midwife said “I see her blonde hair.” Whoa. I couldn’t open my eyes though. I was so focused that I kept my eyes closed the whole time. By the next contraction I could tell she was starting to crown. I felt what is known as the ‘ring of fire.’ It is an intense stretching, burning feeling but honestly, it didn’t even phase me at that point. I was so ready for it all to be over. It could not have been more than 3 contractions that her head was out. Michael started to cry and I could hear the gasps from the onlookers. I opened my eyes for a minute and remember seeing them all at the door. I was so glad my mother-in-law made it at the last moment, too. After 33 minutes of pushing, at 3:57 pm, I birthed Genevieve Lark into this world.

She was immediately put on my chest and I just said over and over again “hey baby, hey baby, hey baby”. Michael was crying and I was just in shock. I was out of breath. I’ve heard people say this and I found it to be true, my baby was both a stranger and someone I have known all along. The familiarity was from the bond we had while she was in my womb. I was so happy that it was over but I didn’t feel total relief because I knew the placenta was next and then potential stitching. Things were still burning down there. After a few minutes of bonding and waiting for the cord to stop pulsing, Michael cut the cord and Genevieve was separated from my body. My placenta was not detaching on its own so I started to breastfeed to try and keep the contractions going. She is a natural latcher and did great! However, it was 40 minutes after birth and my placenta was not moving. I gave Genevieve to Michael and carried her out into the living room to meet the family. He also held her skin to skin to keep her temperature regulated and to encourage the attachment between the two of them. Jennifer had me stand up off the bed and gave me a shot of Pitocin in my thigh. She was worried about me hemorrhaging. Once she gave me the shot, one contraction later I birthed the placenta. I only needed a few minor stitches for one 1st degree tear and with a shot of Novocain, my midwife was able to suture me up right there. Jennifer then weighed and measured Genevieve. She was 6 lbs 13 ounces and 20.5 inches long.
Jennifer and Mary
Thank you, Lauren for the beautiful pictures. I can't wait to see the video!!

Everyone left the room so Michael, Genevieve, and I could have some time just the 3 of us. Everyone else started to clean-up in the rest of the house. I will always treasure that time. After 15 minutes I was ready to get cleaned up. So with Michael’s help I took a shower and washed my body off. By the time I was done my room had been completely cleaned. The bed was remade with clean, fresh sheets. Michael’s family brought champagne and we sang Happy Birthday and ate the cupcakes I made 3 days earlier. Then it was time to rest just the three of us. And let me tell you, the morning after, waking up in our bed with the sun shining in the window and our baby cuddled up with us, that was pure joy!
The first morning together 
My reflections 3 weeks later:
-Birth is hard. I don’t care what type of labor and birth experience you have. It is hard. Enduring birth makes you a champion. I am amazed by all women who give birth.

-I would choose a home birth every time. Had I labored in the hospital I would have faced two traumas – the physical challenges from abuse and my fear of hospitals after my surgeries as a child. Not to mention, there is no way I would have had a natural birth in a hospital with such slow progression. I would have had interventions. My home was where I needed to be in order to fully relax and feel safe. Our house feels so sacred and special now.

-Thankfully my daughter was never in danger. If that were the case, I would be the first in the car to go to the hospital. Her heart rate was perfect and she endured that long labor beautifully. All the hiccups along the way were handled perfectly by my midwife. Jennifer and Mary really believed in me and stuck with me for 4 days to help facilitate the birth I really desired.

-I was able to tap into some deep inner strength in order to relax my body. Women have the incredible ability to this. I am definitely stronger than I ever thought possible and I now feel capable of anything! I really feel like the last evidence of the abuse that I experienced was released during this labor. I accomplished something I didn’t think I would ever overcome. I believe that my next birth can happen in water.

-Having a natural birth was so meaningful for me. I experienced labor the way that so many generations before me had also experienced it. I feel connected with sacred femininity and so amazed that I actually did it! Feeling my daughter move down the birth canal and learning to read every sign of my body was so empowering. I did it! I endured the hardest moments of my life and survived. My body knew what to do and I had to surrender to the process. I still can’t believe I did it. I must also add that you really do forget the intensity after the first few days. Right after birth I told Michael that Genevieve is never having siblings and here I am talking about my next home birth.

-Education makes all the difference! No, it doesn’t necessarily guarantee an easy labor but it helped us immensely. Michael knew what to do in every stage of labor and he was not freaked out when things got super intense. He knew what to expect, and so did I. Not to mention, the only reason we were able to endure 4 days of labor is because we knew how to handle early labor. I knew that rest, food, and drink were essential. Michael and I knew that there were times to simply rest and times to get labor going. Pacing myself and using the tools I learned in our childbirth class made all the difference.

-My goodness, my husband. I have to end on that note. He went through labor with me. He did not leave my side and was always there with me through each contraction. Yes, I was feeling the pain of labor but he was right there with no sleep, supporting and encouraging me. After Genevieve was born, Michael kept saying how amazed he was with me. He had never seen me so strong and powerful. There was a primal beauty to the whole experience. And those days after birth I was so overwhelmed with my love for him. He really did go through it all with me. The depth and intimacy of our love for each other increased exponentially because of this experience.

You can read about our decision for a home birth here.
Here and here are the ways we prepared for birth.
And this tells about our first 2 weeks as parents. 
I adore my new family.

November 21, 2013

The early days

We survived the first 2 weeks of parenthood. 
And we have relished every moment.
The interesting thing about a home birth is that once everything was cleaned up and our family said their ‘hellos’ to Genevieve, Michael and I were left alone with a new baby. No nursing staff, lactation consultants or a nursery as an option. It was a little daunting at first. And we actually missed the last 4 weeks of our child birthing class because she came early. Of course, this is when early infant care is discussed. My midwife gave us instructions for early care – like taking the baby’s temperature every 2 hours, dosage of ibuprofen for me, and how to care for everything ‘down there’ after needing some minor stitches. I was still in such shock from it all that I just needed sleep. So ‘sleep’ we did. Genevieve did great those first few nights, with 4-hour stretches of sleep. I had to wake her up to make sure she was feeding often. We were so exhausted we slept with the light on the first night and didn't even notice. I would feed, Michael would change diapers. It has slowly became our new normal.

Some of the highlights from the first days:
-Genevieve looks like her momma. I mean it’s sort of alarmingly similar. My baby picture is identical. She has my nose and lips. We are so curious to see what other family members she takes after once she grows out of the infant phase.

-Breastfeeding is both so natural and difficult. I was very blessed to have a baby that latched on from moment one. That aspect of feeding has been a breeze. However, everything else can be so overwhelming. Is she getting enough to eat? What about all the different types of poop and the amount of diapers? One breast is starting to get really hard, is this engorgement? Should I pump to help or will that mess up the milk supply? How do I know when one side is empty, and what if she only feeds for 5 minutes and loses interest? Is my let down really fast because she starts to gag and cough within minutes of eating? Should I try different positions when feeding? I feel a lump, could that be a clogged milk duct? And my goodness, no one told me it would hurt so bad when she latched before my milk came in. Thankfully I have my ‘go-to mommas’ to text all the questions I have, plus my midwife who came for a follow up at 24 hours, 48 hours and 1 week. Things are a lot smoother already. It's amazing how feeding feels so natural so quickly. 

-Sleep deprivation is tough. I am so grateful to have the best partner in the world helping me through this new season. Michael and I are in this together as we try to figure out the best sleeping arrangement, who gets up when with baby to change the diaper, taking shifts to soothe her cries so we both can get a few hours of sleep at a time. We are just doing the best we can. And are now starting to figure out tricks that work for us and Genevieve. For example, she hates being swaddled. She hates lying flat on her back. She would rather be propped up. Most of her cries are gas related and burping her and rubbing her stomach is really helpful.

-We love our “quiet alert” times with Genevieve. Every few hours we get some moments where Genevieve is so alert and just taking in the world around her. We stop everything we are doing to just stare at her and talk to her. It’s amazing how you can stare at a baby for hours on end, getting so excited about every little sound and expression. These are the moments that make the rough nights all worth it.

-I had no idea that every task would take so long with a newborn. I am a list maker and I love to feel like I accomplished something each day. But I've learned that the list must be really short. Making the bed, eating lunch and doing a load of laundry is about all I can get done right now and I've become content with that. It is forcing me to slow down and really spend time with Genevieve. Besides taking Genevieve to visit Michael at work and a midwife follow-up, I have not done any errands by myself. It still feels absolutely daunting to take her out of the house. I love my slow days just the two of us and I am not quite ready to venture out into the world. And honestly, I think this is how it should be. My body is still recovering and my baby is adjusting to this new world. Taking it slow in these early weeks has been wonderful

-It's hard not to be concerned about anything 'unusual' as a first time parent. I have learned that - flaky skin on feet and hands, slightly yellow eyes, purple hands and feet, irregular breathing, yellow, green and orange poop, strange noises, spit-up episodes, and little white bumps are all normal in a newborn. My goodness, there is so much going on with a baby adjusting to the world. I have really tapped into my motherly intuition these last two weeks so I can find peace with all the changes going on. And having my midwife and pediatrician's help and guidance has definitely put my mind at ease. 

-These are 4 things I loved having in my first weeks of motherhood:
1. Earth Momma Angel Baby nipple butter – it was the one thing that kept me from getting cracked and bleeding nipples those first few days. It is lanolin free, all-natural, safe for mom and baby. I highly recommend this product.
2. Earth Momma Angel Baby ‘bottom spray’ – thankfully, I only had a minor first degree tear. My midwife debated whether or not to suture but decided to in the end. A lot happened down there and it can be terribly sore and uncomfortable. This spray has wonderful things like witch hazel, cucumber extract, and lavender oil to soothe and relieve any discomfort.
3. Arnica gel – this is an all-natural muscle relief gel. During labor I used so many muscles. It was the most intense work out of my life. Ask Michael, he can tell you how strong I flexed those muscles during those final contractions as I used his arms for stability. Massaging this gel on my arms, legs and back have really helped my muscles relax.
4. My placenta pills – so I told you I would talk about placenta encapsulation, here we go. There is some debate on how effective the placenta really is for postpartum treatment. Some will say it doesn't have any effect to the recovering mom but I have 5 different mommas who have personal testimony of the benefits to these pills. All it involves is cleaning, pressure cooking and grinding the placenta to a powder and putting it in a capsule, like a vitamin. There is no taste and these pills are a lifesaver! For those who don’t know, the placenta has so many benefits for a new mom. It’s one reason why most mammals eat their placenta after birth. Sorry, I don’t care to take a knife to it but having it as a pill was no big deal at all. Here are some of the benefits:
-During pregnancy your hormones are raging high. In the days after you deliver, your hormones plummet. By taking the pills each day, you lessen that dramatic decrease in hormones. This decrease is thought to cause Postpartum depression. So by taking these pills following birth, you lessen your chance of the ‘baby blues’. Not sure I can confirm this but those who have had postpartum depression and then took these pills in following pregnancies noticed a major difference.
-It also replenishes iron levels.
-It helps reduce bleeding and aids in contracting the uterus back to pre-pregnancy size.
-It increases milk production.
-It also increases energy level.

Around night four I started getting really weepy. Michael was about to go back to work and I was feeling overwhelmed. When the sun starts to go down, I feel anxiety coming on. Nights are just really hard. But Michael says, ‘Must be time for your placenta pills’ and he puts me to bed early. Maybe it’s just the much needed sleep, but either way, after taking the pills I really do feel so much better. It might not be for everyone but it is something I would definitely suggest pregnant mamas look in to.
The first picture is the day I went into labor, the second picture is 2 weeks postpartum. I am so amazed and shocked by the design of a woman's body to change so drastically so fast! Breastfeeding does wonders, that's for sure. I am looking forward to 6 weeks postpartum so I can start some serious workouts. 

Here are some more pictures of our precious baby:
Visiting Daddy at work
First bath
We love our Sakura Bloom sling. Momma can breastfeed and have both hands free. 

It’s amazing that you are actually here. We have to remind ourselves that you aren't going anywhere, that you are ours. Your dad and I spend our early mornings and evenings staring at you. These last 2 weeks still feel like a dream. You are perfect in our eyes and we could never have imagined the depth of love we have for you. The sweet noises you make when feeding or sleeping melt my heart. And watching your dad fall in love with you has been the highlight of parenthood. Thinking about you getting bigger makes me sad but I've learned that you really have to be so intentional about living in the present because I now know that it really does go by fast. So I will simply hold your 7 lb body, smile at your tiny newborn onesies, and soak in this moment. Thank you for being patient with us as we try to interpret your cries and adjust to around the clock feedings and diaper changes. We will never be perfect but we will certainly love you more and more each day. You have made me a mother and I am so honored to step into this role. I love you, my precious girl. 

November 11, 2013

Week 38 - Introducing Genevieve Lark

Week 38
November 4 - 10
A week I will never forget. 

My intuition was right. I was certain I would go into labor before my due date. Many people told me that that is what all moms say, but I just knew she was coming early. Monday morning after my 38 week prenatal, I started to go into labor. Contractions moved from 10 minutes apart to 6 minutes apart by that night. I labored at home all day Tuesday and Wednesday with constant contractions at 5-8 minutes apart. On Thursday morning things started progressing. After 30 minutes of pushing, Genevieve was born at 3:57 pm on Thursday, November 7th in our bedroom. She was 6 lbs 13 oz and 20.5 inches long. That's the short version of the story.

Here is the bump progress from start to finish:

Here are some bullet points from the experience:
-We had an extremely long labor. 
-I had a lot of challenges to overcome.
-I have never worked so hard in my entire life. The strength that was required of me was so deep, I am still in awe. I never knew I was that strong. 
-I experienced the lowest lows and highest highs, emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually.
-I had to release all expectations and ideals for the birth (like not having a water birth).
-There were moments when we considered transporting to the hospital.
-I have never been so in love with Michael and his constant support. He never left my side!
-My birth team are my heroes.
-I am forever grateful for Jennifer, my midwife, and Mary, her assistant. They believed in me and walked me through every contraction.
-We brought our daughter into this world in a safe, comfortable, sacred space.
-My home means so much more to me now that it is the place we birthed our baby.
-Even with the intense challenges, I would choose a home birth again.
-We are now a family and we are so in love with our daughter.
-I will never be the same. 

I am in the process of piecing together the labor and birth, working through the timeline (4 days is a lot to remember), trying to find the right words to use and really allowing myself to feel all the emotions involved in birth. I will share the details once I have properly given this experience the time it needs to process.

But until then..... here is our baby girl! 
Enjoy the pictures. We are totally, absolutely smitten. We have the best baby in the world. She is so peaceful and snugly. Every day we fall more and more in love. 
Genevieve's first picture
Welcome to this world. You were worth every moment of the last 9 months and every second of the last week of labor. You have made us a family. Our hearts are so full. 
The journey is just beginning.