Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Oswin's Birth Story

AB Mills Photography

I'm officially a mom of three. It hasn't fully sunk in yet. We found out we were pregnant in August, and I posted this announcement in December. Here we are on the other side at newborn life again, and I couldn't be happier.

*As with my other birth stories, this gets pretty real and raw. Read at your own risk. *

*All the awesome pictures in this post were taken by our videographer and friend, Alexis Mills, who also did our maternity photos. She can be found here and Facebook *

AB Mills Photography

Three things made my last weeks of pregnancy extra difficult psychologically:

1. My babies come fast, so we were instructed not to wait too long to get to the birth center. 
2. Despite my history of going past my due date, I had a false alarm at week 37, which put me on early alert for "any day now." 
3. Baby #3 gave me more false contractions than my previous two. 

I was anxious and irritable during my last two weeks of pregnancy. Sweet pregnancy moments like this maternity shoot were behind me, and I was more than ready for baby to come. 

AB Mills Photography


Thursday was Zane's first official day of advanced leave for six weeks. I had a my 39 week prenatal appointment. The midwife and I discussed membrane stripping the next week if I felt worse than I did that day. I was grumpy. I went straight to my chiropractor appointment and impulsively added on an acupuncture treatment, which aids in natural induction. I hate needles, but I was so over being pregnant.

Thursday night was awful. I was so stressed about baby coming or not that I sobbed myself to sleep. Not a pretty picture. 

Friday morning, still pregnant. We had a lot planned that day, so the day went by quickly. Determined to not repeat the previous night, I had a glass of red wine (scandalous), magnesium supplement CALM, and chamomile tea. I was relaxed and went to sleep easily.  

I woke up at 1:55am with contractions.  I called the midwife at 2:48am, after an hour of them coming 3-7 minutes apart and lasting for 1-1.5 minutes. We decided to meet at the birth center at 4am. 

Zane's mom came to stay with the girls, I texted our videographer, and we were off. I only had three contractions in the car. Every time one subsided, I worried that I wouldn't get another one, and this would just be another false alarm, which I don't know if I could have handled. 


The midwife and birth assistant had just discharged another mom, so they were exhausted from not sleeping all night. She took our vitals and said that given my history of fast births, I could labor there a few hours to see what would happen. 

Alexis (our videographer who also took these phone shots), Zane, and I hung out for a couple hours. Alexis timed my contractions for me, which was helpful because every time the midwife came to check on me, it seemed I was between contractions. She kept implying that it may not be real labor, which made me anxious to prove to her that it was, but I couldn't make my contractions come any more regularly. They were sometimes 10 minutes apart, but would last for 2 minutes. They gradually got more intense, which was reassuring, though painful. 

The midwife gave me a large dose of magnesium, but my contractions never went away. She suggested that maybe it was early labor. 


When the sun came up, we walked around outside. Alexis and Zane were both very convinced it was true labor, which was helpful, because I needed encouragement that I wasn't crazy.

Zane left for about 30 minutes to get Chick Fil A, during which time Alexis applied counter pressure to my back (Zane's job) during contractions. When he came back, I took one bite of the chicken biscuit, had a contraction, and put it aside. It made me want to vomit.



This position of me standing behind the couch and Zane pressing on my back was my preferred way to labor. There were some contractions where his counter pressure completely removed the pain, so much that I wondered if I was really having a contraction. I'd ask him to lift his hands, and the pain would return. Counter-pressure works wonders!

Oswin was ROT for the last couple weeks in the womb - Right Occipital Transverse, which is a type of posterior, which means back labor. I had done lots of spinning babies stuff to try to help her, but she liked that position. I only labored vertically and did lots of tummy lifting to encourage her to turn.



After three contractions in a row pretty close together, I got in the tub. A couple minutes later I had an intense contraction that reminded me of Amy's birth. I started crying and asked Zane to pray for me. I sobbed into a towel on the side of the tub, not wanting to feel the pain that was about to come.

These photos make labor look so serene and peaceful. Though it was painful, I wouldn't want to labor any other way. 


During my sob fest, the new midwife (on-call midwife changed at 9:00am) came in and said hi. The contractions picked up in intensity. She checked my progress. I was 8cm, and my cervix was stretchy, so she said to push whenever I wanted. The last time she took Oswin's doppler heart rate, Oswin was completely anterior, the perfect position for birth.

I tried a couple pushes, but it didn't seem like the right time. My legs were falling asleep from the kneeling position, so I sat back and stretched them out.

The midwife told me to let them know when I felt the burn so they could support baby's head.

I soon got a crazy painful contraction that included my first push. I moved back to my corner of the tub in my relatively comfortable position, and let the contractions come. I moaned and groaned and grunted through them, thinking, "I can't do this another time."

I heard many voices, including the midwife who caught Amy. Everyone was very encouraging. Alexis and Zane changed out the cool wash cloths on my head and neck.

I felt her descend through my pelvis and growled through the push to get her head out. I took a break, and the midwives said, "Don't stop!" So I pushed her entire body out in one push, which was unlike my previous babies. With my first two babies, I pushed out the head, took a break, then pushed out the body. Oswin came out in one long, exhausting push at 10:18am.

They said, "Deborah, look at your baby." But I was too exhausted from the push, so I said, "I can't. Give her to Zane."

Zane helped catch her, and he lifted her out of the water. He said it was the most amazing experience.

AB Mills Photography
I turned over and said some things about how much that sucked, but when they passed me Oswin, joy came over me. She was screaming! She has a great set of lungs. I kissed her head and told her I loved her.

AB Mills Photography
I had another contraction, which I had to breathe through. I had forgotten about after contractions. They were pretty bad.

The midwives drained the tub and helped me step out with Oswin still attached to me via cord. I felt a contraction coming and squatted down, worried I'd drop Oswin. I said, "I'm gonna poop!" They said, "That's okay!" But instead I delivered the placenta. They wrapped it up, put it in a bowl, and helped me to the bed. This was the first baby that we could delay cutting the cord, so it was strange for me to hold her with the cord.


Apparently when I took the break pushing her out, she was only out to her nose, so she had some light bruising on her cheeks that went away by her second day of life. 

I didn't tear at all, and my bleeding was very normal. Oswin was perfect and nursed within an hour, which helped the after contractions along. My tailbone has been sore ever since, most likely due to all the back labor. My uterus was sore for a couple days, but the cramping has subsided for the most part. 


We were discharged at 2:00pm. The girls were at home waiting for us. Zane kept them in their bedroom while I got Oswin out of the carseat and sat down with her. He filmed them running out to meet her. It was like Christmas morning. 


Daisy said Oswin was adorable. We asked Amy what she thought, and she said, "Good." Amy asked about her going back into my belly, and we explained it was a one-way trip. 

This recovery period has been amazingly easier than after my previous two babies. My parents have helped so much, and Zane is completely off work and school. He can focus 100% on us. Our 2-day postpartum visit and Oswin's first doctor's appointment were a breeze. It felt like Zane and I were on a day date.

3 days old
I'm not sure what the weeks ahead will look like when grandparents go home and eventually when Zane goes back to work, but I'm enjoying these short first days of life, knowing that Oswin will grow up too fast.

My other two unmedicated birth stories:
Daisy's Birth Story
Amy's Birth Story

Our amazing birth center:
Labor of Love

Our wonderful photographer/videographer:
AB Mills Photography
Oswin Peace's Birth Video on YouTube

Friday, March 17, 2017

DIY Foam Headboard

We recently upgraded to a king size bed. After two pregnancies in a queen, I knew I needed more space for the last three months. Plus, I like to cuddle, but not sleep and cuddle. I don't like to touch when sleeping, so I wanted more space between us. (Sounds so unromantic, but we really do love each other).

Our queen mattress was a hand-me-down from Zane's college roommate's parents, so we had been sleeping on it for nearly 10 years, and who knows how old it was when Zane inherited it. Gross.

We visited a mattress store and were hopeless about ever affording to upgrade. King mattresses are minimum $1000. I researched beds that ship to you folded up in boxes, like you get from Ikea. Sleep Like the Dead was a great resource because it has a bajillion unbiased reviews. We ended up getting a mattress and platform frame from Amazon for a fraction of the cost of a mattress store mattress.

Platform frames are pretty nice, because you don't need a box spring and there are several more inches of storage space under the bed. Win!

Our mattress: Zinus memory foam
Our platform frame: Zinus 14''
We also needed headboard brackets, which had mixed reviews, but we had no trouble with them.

We've been sleeping on this bed for several months and are very happy with it.

Let's get to the headboard. Our bed is under a window, and when we sold our queen bed frame, we were without a headboard for months. I apparently liked sitting up in bed, because I went through withdrawals for a little while, not sure where to use my laptop. (I'm currently writing at the kitchen table, so I obviously adjusted).

I knew I would want to breastfeed #3 comfortably in bed, so project headboard began.


We measured our bed, the height to the top of the mattress and the height I wanted the headboard, and did our calculations.

We bought a $30 piece of MDF board and a 2''x4'' from Lowes. They cut the board for us to 78x26'' and cut the 2x4'' in half to give us two 48'' long pieces.

In retrospect, I would have gone with 76'' or 77'' long because it does hang off the edge of the bed a little. I would also have done 20'' or even shorter. Our headboard is very tall at 26''.

Since everything was cut at Lowes, we only had to assemble at home. Zane screwed the board into the 2x4's.


We had a queen size memory foam topper with no queen mattress anymore, so I cut two pieces at 26'' wide. It is already 78'' long. I think we bought this for $70 on Amazon a while ago, so it was good to repurpose it.



We carried the board into the bedroom and set it next to the headboard brackets to mark where the holes needed to be. Then we carried it back to the garage, and Zane drilled holes for the bolts.



I used Gorilla Glue to glue down the bottom layer of foam. Zane got a nice shot of my 33 week baby belly.


We spot-glued the top layer of foam.



We used one of our old queen flat sheets to secure the foam onto the board.



I always wanted to have a staple gun, and we finally got to use it for this project.



We screwed on the headboard and slept with it for a few nights before I could finish a prettier cover. The nights without a pretty cover had me second-guessing the project. I looked pretty shabby, but after I finished the cover, I was happy with our decision.

This fabric was formerly the curtains in our bedroom, but I love it more as a headboard cover.


Someday I'll get prettier pillows and a fluffy bedspread, but for now, we're very happy with our new headboard. It's super comfy and I love the bright colors with our mismatched pillow cases.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Two Super Easy Paper Christmas Crafts for Kids


Looking for something [basically] free to do with your kids this Christmas season? Here are two cheap ideas that my kids (and their friends) loved. 

Materials Needed for Both Crafts: 

1. Construction Paper - Green and any other additional colors of your choice.
2. Scissors
3. Glue Sticks
4. (Optional and not pictured) Christmas stickers



Craft #1 - Paper Mosaic Christmas Tree

1. Draw a large triangle on a white page. 


2. Cut green construction paper into small triangles.


3. Glue green triangles onto large drawn triangle. Start at the bottom and work up. 


You may have to adjust your child's triangle if the shape isn't quite tree-like.


4. Decorate! We used Christmas stickers, but you can also use other colored paper pieces or markers. 



 Craft #2 - Paper Christmas Tree

1. Cut a Christmas tree out of green construction paper. If free-handing a Christmas tree is too scary, try printing out a picture of a Christmas tree and using it as a pattern.

2. Cut out small pieces of other colored paper.

3. Optional - cut out a star in yellow. (This was kind of hard!)


2. Glue the star and geometric ornaments to the tree! Again, you can add decorations with glitter, markers, stickers or whatever you want!


We took this craft to a kids Christmas party, and it was a hit from ages 2-7. You can go as simple or complex as you want.

Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Baby #3 Coming This Spring

I haven't blogged about personal things recently, partly due to pulling back on social media and partly because I'm busy with kids. I can't figure out how moms blog regularly. My most consistent blog years were pre-kid. Now I can hardly get a moment to write in my journal, let alone compose a readable post.

My first pregnancy was tediously shared on this blog. My second was about half the amount of sharing, and this third pregnancy is will follow the downsizing pattern.

This is my pregnancy announcement post, gender reveal post, and name reveal post all wrapped into one.

We're Pregnant Again

We found out we were pregnant in late August, right before a family road trip to Chicago. It was planned, so Zane was never unaware that I could be pregnant. After a date night, Zane and I bought a test, and I tested positive as soon as we got home.

I told most people by randomly saying, "I'm pregnant." The best part of spitting it out without a buildup is the shock on people's faces. They're totally not expecting a pregnancy announcement, so you get to see the full surprise turn to excitement, which turns to chiding for springing it on them.

After we heard the heartbeat, I announced it publicly on Instagram (because I'm not on FB, and Zane never posts anything) with what I'd like to think is a creative picture: 
"Elsa and Anna would like to make a royal announcement that a baby snowman will be joining the family just in time for summer!!!"

First Trimester

Morning sickness wasn't too bad. Every food seemed gross except whatever I was craving at the moment, which was a lot of macaroni and cheese. I also ate plenty of toast and mashed potatoes. It wasn't the best eight weeks (nausea started at week 6, ended at 14), but I got through it with lots of naps. I'm very thankful to have two trustworthy kids who can play (or watch too much TV) while I sleep.

Daisy was glad when I stopped taking so many naps, but she knows that mommy's with babies in their bellies need lots of rest.

Boy or Girl? 

After many conversations with people about what I thought I was having, what I felt I was having, what it would be like in either scenario, we finally had our 20-week ultrasound. 

We're having another girl!

I didn't realize I had an expectation until it wasn't fulfilled. I must have entertained too many thoughts of having a boy, because it took me a few hours to adjust (and I felt mom-guilt for not being excited immediately). Now I am very excited, and so are the girls, who were wanting a sister anyways. Daisy wanted both, actually. 

So, What's her Name? 

Another common question for pregnant mothers. I don't know how moms who don't find out sex or tell the name get through nine months of questions. It's exhausting. Or maybe I'm just more exhausted this time around because it's #3, and I don't have as much mental energy to ponder.  

Her name is Oswin Peace. 


Oswin

I had a list of girl names that went with Daisy and Amy, including Bonnie, Tracy, Penny and Siggi. None of those names seemed right. I forced myself to think of names that sounded like her sisters' names. It was limiting and felt like I was giving her leftovers. She'll get plenty of hand-me-downs in her life. She deserves a first-choice name. 

Oswin means "God's friend." If she really wants to be like her sisters, she can go by Winnie. 

Peace

If Daisy Love wasn't hippie enough, we're going to name a kid "Peace"? 

Peace has significant meaning just like Love did. I have been anxious, irritable, and even depressed this year. Acknowledging these negative realities sent me on a journey through counseling and self-evaluation, discovering Godly purpose and seeking peace along the way. 

The thought of three girls caused me anxiety, worrying about dynamics between them, upsetting the harmony between Daisy and Amy, someone feeling left out, etc. I felt God saying, "What if this baby surprises you? What if she is a source of peace?" I latched onto that hopeful thought, probably because it's my deepest desire. 

There are many possibilities for peace in, from, and through Oswin. Maybe she will be a peacemaker. Maybe she'll be the personification of peace. Maybe she won't, but peace will be her gift to the world. Maybe her mother is commissioning her to seek peace throughout her life. Maybe she'll be a reminder to me of my goal to provide a peace-filled home to my family. Or maybe she'll be a reminder that part of God's redemption plan is peace in Him.

Whenever we talk about Daisy's middle name, Love, I tell her about how much God loves us, and it is a reminder to me of His crazy big love. Hopefully Oswin's name can be a teaching moment for us too. 

Zane and his girls and my 20 week baby bump

I'm due May 1, but if she's like her sisters, she'll come sometime after that. 


P.S. I read through this post where we announced our pregnancy with Daisy. I'm filled with a renewed sense of joy and awe as I look back at what God has done in our lives. 

Monday, November 7, 2016

Pokemon Costume: Bulbasaur


In June, my daughter had a Pokemon birthday party, (which was right BEFORE Pokemon Go came out - just FYI), and since I put so much work into Daddy's Ash shirt, I wanted to repeat some of the costumes for Halloween.

However, I didn't want to force my daughter to be Charmander again, so I asked her who she wanted to be. If she wanted to be a character from XY (she said Bonnie at first), then I would have coordinated our family costumes around that. Luckily she chose Bulbasaur, so we stuck with the Indigo League theme. (See Why Pokemon XY is Better Than Indigo League for more geeky info on that).

The good news was that I only had to make one Halloween costume this year!

The bad news was that it was Bulbasaur:
via http://pokemon.wikia.com/wiki/Bulbasaur

This entire project was me figuring it out as I went, so this isn't a tutorial.

I started with a garage sale backpack that the kids do not use or love and green fabric. 


Added some leafy stuff. 


The casing reminded me of a green jester hat halfway through. 


I used our Charmander hat as a rough estimate for the Bulbasaur hat. The one pictured below was too dark, so I ended up making another one from teal fabric. 


Finished product: 


I'll admit, I am proud of this costumed. I think his face looks more authentic than the Pikachu and Charmander hats we bought from a costume store. 


Here's our group costume for Halloween. 


And a shot of Bulbasaur from the back Trick-or-Treating. 


My favorite part of the night were the kids (all boys incidentally) who recognized Bulbasaur.