Sunday, December 28, 2008

do you need a little 'feel good'

she's paying it forward over on her pretty little cyber-space of goodness.
sign up for a treat and join in her compassion while you're there.
loves, lin

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

good tidings of comfort & joy

{five gratefuls}
::a full heart, full belly, full mailbox::
::when a*love comes home from work and luc says, "i'm so happy to see you!"::
::the happiest christmas growing up memories ever::
::yearly pecan logs from amy::
::the comfort of an old true friend::

happy winter from the stoyan family. we wish you full hearts, too...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

click. click. click. flash!

a weekend spent in the mountains with my parents. christmas is just around the corner. a new fresh babe on the way. and my camera is busted. perfect timing, eh. if it wasn't completely on the fritz - i'd have pictures to show you. just picture this:

*me. 5:30am friday. mittens, scarf, boots. britney's rolling stone cover. all by myself. on an airplane to my mama's house.

*the prettiest bowl of oatmeal brulee at 'eggs in the city.'

*dinner in my sister's new apartment. penne rosa made by nat. cinnamon rolls made by steen. snuggles from pretz.

*scaredy cat faces on me and my mom at the creeeeepiest antique store in the world.

*a room full of different kinds of folks. at the obama 'change is coming' house meeting. briana, mom, me. heads nodding. tears streaming. hope brewing. feeling like i had a 'seat at the table.'

*me and cath leaving 'the children's hour' with beautifully wrapped christmas packages for the kiddies.

*mom, dad, me. i'm an only child for the weekend. eating yummy spaghetti at the kitchen table together. dad reading the paper and me and mom chatting about holiday card visions.

*a prenatal with my mama-midwife. in the pretty yellow bedroom. big round belly and swishy-swooshy happy baby heart beeps.

*staying up waaaay tooo laaate printing and snipping and tying and wrapping our christmas cards.

*me and red dog fast asleep on the couch downstairs. me and red dog climbing the stairs for the comfy bed in the wee hours with sleepy eyes.

*an early bowl of cereal with my dad before he left for work.

*me. 4:00 pm monday. two suitcases stuffed full of wrapped presents. a carry-on with the few items of clothing that still fit. hugging my mama and our yearly holiday adventure good-bye.

*picking up my lukey boy at his cousins. his "i-missed-you-tears" and the biggest snuggle hug. ever.

i better get this memory catching machine fixed. soon.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

"my belly is full of light and love"

at 31 weeks my baby weighs about three pounds and five ounces. he's turning a nice pink color and his fingernails probably reach the end of his fingers. his iris's can now dilate and contract in response to light.
" belly is full of light and love"


from an email i sent out this week:
"...thank you so much for sharing your words with me. they are powerful and very valuable to me as i'm navigating my coarse. the insight that you shared with me is something that i was hoping the women reading my blog by the hundreds would take away from this weeks worth of birth stories. a little bit of empowerment.

this week has been so theraputic for me. there was something that clicked in me once i said my fears outloud and sent them out to the universe. a circle of loving women that came out of the wood work to share their birth piece/peace with me. i feel braver. still scared. yes. very much. but the fact that this babe will come how he needs to is sitting better with me. i will do my part. the rest will turn out how it turns out..."

my baby boy will be born at his perfect moment

lucas and i have a story. he was born in the wee morning hours of my birthday. it's our day. i worked really hard for him. a labor of love. he wanted me to remember that everytime we share our day. i love him for knowing that i would need that. my sweet boy. such an old soul.

lucas jude born april 7, 2006

need some more birth love?

soulemama's home birth

nienie's "i'm a queen - look what i just did"

leslie keating's sweet baby mae is finally here

the lovely midwife briana and the birth of her baby brother

a beautiful birth anthology by tamara of today's modern mother

the birth of a mother - holly and her baby natalie

thank you for sharing this healing week with me.
goodnight loves,

dear miss jessie: watch your mailbox for your first issue of MOTHERING magazine. i couldn't be happier to be sending it your way.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

this woman's work - day seven

Birth; the emergence of something new. I love it. The birth of a woman as a mother as her baby is delivered is the most sacred, powerful thing I have ever witnessed.

For as far back as my conscious memory goes, I have had an awe and fascination of the process of growing and birthing new life. As a 4 year old, I loved the pictures of a growing embryo in our family encyclopedia. I stuffed my baby dolls in my shirt and “birthed” them and of course they were nursed. Until I was 9 years old, I received baby dolls every Christmas and can still remember their names and beautiful little faces. The shape of their little baby fists, chubby, dimpled feet, the texture and color of their hair and the new baby doll smell are still clear memories that can take me instantly back to that idyllic time in my girlhood. This very moment I am taken back to 1964. I’m in the back seat of the family car with Baby Christy, a full sized Madame Alexander with long, blond hair. She’s wearing a hand-me-down blue corduroy jumpsuit and snuggled in a soft receiving blanket in my arms. The little mama and baby doll bond was strong and magical. I mothered instinctually and no one interrupted.

Although my childhood dolls were put away, I never outgrew my love of birth and mothering. My early childhood experiences were the seeds of a passion that blossomed when I was born as a mother 33 years ago. Although the labor was long and came with the challenges common to a first birth, I was ecstatic with this new wee one. His beautiful face, wisps of brown hair, little fists, long toes and newborn smell are still fresh memories to me as I picture him in his aqua colored gown and thermal receiving blanket. In contrast to my childhood play, my instinctual parenting impulses were not respected. From the flat on my back labor to the nurse who rolled her eyes when I expressed my desire to breastfeed, I was hindered from doing what seemed intrinsically best. Still, I loved my boy with all my heart and looked forward to having another baby someday.

Five years later, Lindsay was born. I knew to stay away from the hospital as long as I could. Laboring at home, I ate, drank, walked around, rested, showered and talked to my friends and family. I arrived at the hospital at noon. Remembering my previous long labor, Chuck left me to go out for lunch. I was alone in a small triage room, strapped to a narrow gurney. There was a red Craftsman toolbox for ambience. A nurse came in and did the standard prep of the day, shave and an enema and left me in the bathroom. I called for help. No one came. Finally someone helped me back on that gurney and I tried to say, “My baby is almost here.”
“Couldn’t be”, they said. “You were just 5 cm. when you came in.” My husband came back, the doctor showed up as did an uninvited anesthetist. I was given an epidural with no information or consent, just the instruction to curl up in a ball. Within minutes, I was wheeled to a big, bright delivery room and was coached through pushing my baby out. I heard a cry and someone said, “It’s a girl.” I felt so joyful to have a daughter and wanted her in my arms. She was taken somewhere else. At least my husband gave me a report. “She doesn’t look like Jeff.” I was taken next to a recovery area behind a curtain. I asked for my baby to nurse. “We usually wait until you are settled back in your room”, I was told. “No! I want my baby now.” A most beautiful round faced bundle was placed in my arms. Although my legs were not my own, I could sit up and nurse and my sweet baby was eager and able to suckle without any trouble. We were left alone and it was peaceful at last.

I remember my mom coming to the hospital shortly after I got to my room. She exclaimed what a beautiful little girl we had and we chose her name then. Lindsay Ann. I ached to go home. I missed Jeff and wanted him to see his sister. Young siblings weren’t allowed in the hospital. I spent the night there and asked to go home the next day. My doctor came in and told me it wasn’t common procedure to be discharged so soon. Did I have a plan for birth control?? When I assured him I would figure something out, he said I could go. Off we went in our yellow VW. Home at last. Those first days are foggy to me. I remember what Lindsay wore home because I had picked it out weeks in advance. Fortunately she nursed like a champ and was an easy little one to care for. It took me several weeks to clear the fog and feel like myself. I know now that it’s a common post epidural complaint as the body rids itself of the medications.

Fast forward 5 years to the birth of Natalie Brynn. Maybe it was the confidence born of experience or maturity or both. This time I would make decisions regarding my baby’s birth. Chuck and I attended a childbirth class held in my OB’s clinic. The teacher was a mother of 10, the last 2 born at home. She was beautiful, articulate and spoke respectfully of mother’s instinctual knowing and the sacred nature of the newborn. I could feel the empowerment taking hold in me AND in my husband. My OB had a birth suite in his office. I knew it was an option but my earlier experiences had left me feeling inadequate to birth without intervention. Although the thought of the hospital made me uncomfortable, that’s where I pictured myself having my 3rd baby.

On a Wednesday evening, just days before my estimated due date, I felt different somehow. I put my children to bed, cleaned up the kitchen and made plans for childcare the next day. During the night gentle contractions came rhythmically and I knew my labor was beginning. In the morning, I sent Chuck off to work. Labor made him nervous and I wanted calm, peaceful energy around me. I called my friend Stephanie to come over instead. We went to Albertson’s and walked around the neighborhood. I ate lunch and rested. I called Chuck to come home in the afternoon and we went to the OB’s office around 3 PM. I was 5 cm. An office nurse brought me a gown and said, “The birthing suite is ready for you. Your baby will be born soon.” I couldn’t believe I would be having my baby out of a hospital! I was so excited. I had also asked a friend from work to come to my birth. Pam was a nurse with the sweetest, peacefulness about her. She arrived as I was in full transition. She knew what to say and what I needed. We walked and she helped me in the bathroom. I didn’t get in the bed until I felt ready to push and then I laid on my side with Pam supporting my leg. A little baby girl was born just before 5 PM. Chuck and I were surprised at how quickly she came and how peaceful and trusting those around us were. I was able to hold my baby and nurse her right away and we called for Jeff and Lindsay to be brought in. My parents arrived and it felt like a festivity. Her name was announced and pictures were taken. You could see the glow and feel the bursting happiness on all of our faces. It just kept getting better. I was home, showered and tucked in bed in my own home before 9 pm that night! Something was so right this time.

What made this birth different?

The people around me
Support to follow my instinctual, maternal knowing
A peaceful environment
Respectful care of me and my newborn
Trust in the process of birth, my own, my husband’s and the care providers
A belief that birth is normal, not an illness or an emergency waiting to happen

natalie brynn born february 13, 1986

If I wasn’t already passionate about the incredible power of women’s bodies and the sweetness of undisturbed newborns, well, now I was a hopeless birth junkie. I continued to read and study everything I could about birth. I had 2 more beautiful baby girls within the next 3 years and learned very valuable lessons from their birthings too. My heart and hands were ready when my babies were old enough for me to begin training to help other women have optimal birth experiences.

As a new doula driving through a strange neighborhood in the dark, I wondered what I was getting into. Trish was 39 weeks pregnant, a single mom and worried sick about the approaching birth of her third child. When I found her house, she welcomed me in and we embraced like old friends. This soulful woman shared her birth history with me; a cesarean birth at age 16 for failure to progress and a traumatic vaginal birth three years later. She was shaking as she recalled her experiences. For this baby she was seeing a different doctor but the prospects of a better birth sounded dismal. Her doctor had been suggesting for weeks that another cesarean would be the way to go and nightmares about being cut again kept her from sleeping. The next day, I accompanied her to a prenatal appointment and met her doctor. He was rough, disrespectful and mentioned the likelihood of another cesarean. She was in tears by the time we left. On the ride home, I suggested she talk to a midwife. Not knowing that she had any options at this late date, she was more than willing. We stopped at a CNM’s clinic and for the first time, Trish was treated kindly and listened to. I saw her stand a little taller and step into her power. She personally requested her records from the doctor and hand delivered them to the midwife the next day. Two days later after a good night’s sleep, her labor started. Trish had found her safe place and peacefully birthed a beautiful baby boy.

The childhood seeds that blossomed with the birth of my first baby, reached fruition when I began catching babies as a homebirth midwife 4 years ago. The path was made clear and doors were opened that allowed me to answer the calling to midwifery. There is no one right way for a woman to birth her baby; each birth and baby has its own story. I do believe that every woman deserves to be informed and respected. The birth environment and the people in the birth space can make all the difference. If knowledge replaces fear and respect replaces uniform protocols, women will come into their power and birth their babies in the very best way. An empowered woman can strengthen her family. It’s a beautiful thing.
Love, Cath


do you feel like sharing your own story? today is the last day to post it on your blog and email me the link to i will post a list of all of them tomorrow afternoon to end this birth story adventure. and don't forget to leave loving comments here - as many as you wish. invite your friends to this women's circle. i will collect all the comments you leave and the birth stories you link to and pick one of you for a year of MOTHERING magazine, my favorite and will be announcing the winner tomorrow afternoon also.
love, lindsay

Monday, December 8, 2008

this woman's work - day six asked for my insights into home birth? I don't have many. I was always and am still a bit uneasy about the whole thing. I attribute that not to some cosmic warning of danger (after all, vastly more children through the ages have been born in homes than anywhere else), but to the fact that babies in America are just born in hospitals. It's tradition. Americans (including me) feel this gnawing self-inadequacy so we pay others to do everything for us: make our food, make our clothes, educate our children, entertain us. So why not just order a c-section like you would a pizza? Right? So home birth runs against my tradition--it's scary to put something so significant and grave into my own hands. At least if there is a problem in the hospital, I don't have myself to blame. But at home?

Our first 2 hospital births were fine. Super hard (as if I have any place saying how hard it was), but still fine. But I will admit that the hospital setting wasn't the best place to tap into the inner strength of a birthing woman and bring a new human life into the world. The nurses (the doctors are never around) made me nervous, the cold floors made me tense, and the beeping and flashing lights all around were just...inorganic. Yet somehow Amelia managed to transform into a super hero anyway and I just stood by in amazement. Seriously, she disappeared into a phone booth sometime during labor and came out as a full fledged super hero.

So when she suggested a home birth for our 3rd child, I never doubted her ability to do it. Frankly, after watching her give birth to a nearly 11 pound baby...naturally...without medication...v-bac...I was pretty sure she could do anything. My real concern was that I wasn't up for it. That something bad would happen (why do we always make decisions based on the worst case?) and that Amelia would need me to be a super hero too and that I just wouldn't be able to. Not that I thought the nurses (the doctors are never around) would be able to, but at least it would be them that had to be the super heros, not me.

I guess ultimately the decision to have a home birth (twice) came down to trust. I trusted my wife's intuition and strength. I trusted billions and billions of home birthed humans on this planet. I trusted mother nature and I trusted God. We prayed and I felt OK about it. Still uneasy, but confident.

That's it. Our third child's birth was about a easy as they come (relatively speaking). Three hours of labor and out he came into a nice warm bathtub. Amelia was amazing. Our fourth child was about as hard as they come. Many draining ours of frustratingly slow progress followed by a few very intensely frightening minutes of chaos. But both times, the home birth experience was peaceful and good and warm and quiet. There were no doctors there (as usual) and the floor was warm and my amazing wife was a super hero.

Home birth still makes me uneasy and I won't say I'm comfortable with the idea. I certainly don't blame anyone for feeling more comfortable going to a hospital. But as long as I know that God is with us and that Amelia is in the phone booth, even I can break with tradition.

My advice to you is to do what you FEEL is best and what God tells you to do. Birth ANYWHERE is a miracle and women who do it ANYWHERE are super heros.
God bless you!

Friday, December 5, 2008

this woman's work - day five

Four births….all with completely different stories.

*First birth – my plan was for a natural birth with midwives in the beautiful birthing center at the hospital. We had 24 hours of labor, never dilating fully, an epidural, c-section, and a big Gabriel Joseph was born. It all went so fast and I was so glad he was safe, but at a loss as to what had happened. Nobody could really explain.

*Second birth – we’re in New Pittsburgh town, very far away with a really big belly. I had a midwife helping me with a planned VBAC (Vaginal Birth after Cesarean). My mom flew in hours before I left for the hospital. I had little contractions all night and left for the hospital in the morning. I labored all day and my midwife said I could do it. I felt panicked. “What if I can’t do it? What if I just can’t birth a baby?” It was almost dinner time and I pushed out my very own, only baby girl, Faith Astoria, 10 lbs. 5 oz.Hmmmm… bigger than my first baby, yet she came out the right way. I was so empowered that I could do this.

*Third birth – New Pasco town, a new house, new confidence, perfect pregnancy, wonderful midwife, wonderful support, short labor, warm quiet home, soothing tub.A couple of pushes and Asher Bird was in my arms.
Incredible. I’d never gotten to hold my baby immediately like that. We just stared at each other for a couple of minutes. He didn’t make a sound. He was who he is now. I was on cloud nine. I knew this was a God-given ability.
asher bird {born at home} september 16, 2005

*Fourth birth – This was a harder pregnancy, harder birth and harder baby. None of my births have been “cookie cutter.” I’m grateful for the adventure though. Again, my warm house, wonderful midwives, supportive husband. In the early, early morning, Elias River finally came. He was my “are you really willing to work for this baby? Do you really want to do what God wants, baby? Do you believe children are worth giving everything for baby?”He was here.I cried, like real baby sobs. It was hard, but everything was ok.
elias river {born at home} march 30, 2008

These births, this process, has felt like progression in my life. I don’t think I could be who I am today without these experiences. I can understand now why God makes it this way and why it’s so hard and why it’s so painful. It was never supposed to be easy. It’s not bad pain, like breaking your leg. It’s good. It’s “are you willing to do this?” pain.It’s like climbing a mountain, your feet have blisters, your whole body hurts, you need air, you need water, but you still keep going.

I have a way higher appreciation for my children now and realize how important they are. It took miracles for them to come to me and God wants me to remember that for their whole lives. I feel like I can do just about anything in life now if I can do the hardest thing God gave me to do and I feel more confident. I’m so glad I believed in my ability and found what I wanted. All of my births were wonderful because I got my children.

Home birth has come to mean different things to me. The more I’ve though about it and researched it, it just seems normal. The hospital seems like the place you go when you have problems, right? My memories of homebirth are warmth, closeness, only people I trust around me, peace, spiritual life, and empowerment.
There’s definitely something about being in your comfort zone. I also remember it being the hardest thing I’ve ever done and painful. All four of my births have been very different which does leave it to be a little uncertain.I think some people are right for homebirth and some are not.Hopefully, EVERYONE takes the journey to find out what is best for them.
Love, Amelia

Thursday, December 4, 2008

this woman's work - day four

My plan was to labor at home for our second birth. Then at the last possible moment show up at the hospital with husband, birth ball, odwalla bars, doula, pjs, music, pictures and battery operated candles all in tow. Approaching my due date I felt empowered, all of the mantras taught to me by the midwives revolved around and around in my head. I knew which newborn procedures I wanted to waive and how I was going to navigate hospital routine. Most of all, I knew that I could do this. My body was meant to do this. I had a plan and an amazingly cooperative doctor. Everything was in place.

My plan, however, did not include being 14 days over due, my doula not making it, an induction, and an epidural. But the empowerment stayed with me. I counseled with my doctor. I made good decisions. I avoided a cesarean twice by working with my baby.

Day 14 after my due date we had a nonstress test that showed some low heart rate tones. The doctor I didn't normally see told me we needed to go to the hospital right then. Right now. This minute. She couldn't believe my doctor had even let me go this late. I said I wanted to wait to talk to him.

After much prayer, discussing together and counseling with our doctor we decided to check in at the hospital later that night. We tucked 2 year old Noah sweetly in bed, whispering that his baby brother was coming, and left him with my patient mother.

Our doctor was at the hospital and induced labor with a cytotec pill. I tried to get some sleep while mild contractions were starting. An hour later I woke up to talk about an emergency c-section and nurses bustling around the room, prepping for a move to the Operating Room. My doctor said our baby's heart rate was decelerating rapidly and he had been watching it and waiting longer than he usually would because he knew our intentions of a vaginal birth. He said if we were any other patient, he would have already been in the OR, but stopped to talk to us instead.

This sounds simple, but I knew what was going on. While I was sleeping I had moved over onto my right side. My baby always turned my belly into a punching bag in the middle of the night when I would lay on my right side. I would just switch to the left and he would stop kicking. I knew my baby. I asked Dr. Barton to let me change positions and wait just a little longer. The heart rate calmed down within seconds and so did the bustle in the room. He also removed the cytotec pill and gave me a shot of caffeine to slow the contractions.

Labor stopped for awhile then started up fast and furious on its own. Waves of determined contractions overwhelmed my entire body. I remember Dave - so concerned, warm washcloths, unbelievable pain…then an epidural, peace, quiet, and anticipation.

All together 5 hours of labor and 15 minutes of pushing gave us our Gage. He was born exactly the way he needed to be, despite my plans, right into Dave's hands – quiet, slimy and beautiful.

{Gage's left arm was across his neck and up by his ear. Dr. Barton said this was probably why his heart rate was decelerating when pressure was put on my right side.}

And then the hospital staff quietly left us just momma, papa, and baby for a good hour before any measuring or cleaning. Our requested hour of bonding time. This was incredible. This was heaven. I was amazed at the immense love I felt for this baby boy, amazed at the journey it took to bring him here, and amazed to see his face all his own. Gage. My Gage. And plan or no plan, he was here.
Love, Jessie

gage christian born july 14, 2007

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

this woman's work - day three

I believe I was 17 weeks pregnant, just woke up from a nap. Mamacat and I were the only ones home, "Come into my office, I have a present for you" mom says. It was cozy and warm in our house, there were yummy smelling candles burning in mom's office, I plopped down on her comfy chair and she handed me a pretty bag with tissue paper. Inside were the cutest pair of red leather baby booties. My immediate reaction was to start crying, my smart mother had caught onto my secret pregnancy, I had been scared and alone for 17 weeks, too fearful to get the words out, although I'd really wanted to. Mom cried and talked with me, I told her I was scared and didn't know exactly how to take care of my pregnant self. That day was the beginning of my HUGE learning experience. We got me a special liquid prenatal vitamin from Good Earth since I cant swallow pills. I asked my mother to be my midwife, from what I knew, I didn't want to have my baby in the hospital, I wanted to do it by myself at home without drugs. We looked into hypno birthing classes but wouldn’t be starting those until a few weeks before I was due.

Only a few weeks later I was able to have an ultrasound. My mama and Jade were with me. Chaz was late, he always made me very nervous during this pregnancy, I was so so lucky to have my family and friends my super support system during this pregnancy, or I swear, I might've gone crazy. At the ultrasound the tech showed me all my little baby's parts and heart and every little organ. I started to get really hot and dizzy, she had me lay on my side to take a break from the ultrasound, they got me some water. When I started to feel better we resumed and found out we'd be having a girl. I was very excited to hear that, I remember the first person I called to tell the news was my dad, he congratulated me.

I was working at DogMode, I loved that job and my boss and co workers were excited and supportive. I just had to make sure crazy doggies weren’t jumping on my growing belly....and let me tell you, it was growing! Jump to the end of March- my mom journeyed to Washington to assist in Lucas's birth. I was too pregnant and needed to work, or I would've liked to accompany her on this trip. While my mom was gone I got sick, nearly got pneumonia- my voice sounded like Marge Simpson's-but I was trying to hang in there. Some days I would come home from work and cry. My back was KILLING me and I never knew a person's feet could hurt so bad, I would crawl around on my hands and knees to avoid the pain that walking gave me. My entire body was swollen. When I'd wake up in the morning my rings would be stuck on my fingers, I had sumo wrestler feet and ankles, my face and nose felt huge. I felt uncomfortable all the time. I was only 6 months pregnant.

April 7, Lucas Jude was born, I remember our computer was down and waiting nearly an hour for our first photo to download on cath's old computer of our newest nephew. That birth was a whole other story. I think it was the following Friday that my mother/midwife got back into town. We had a prenatal scheduled. We found that my weight gain was kinda high in just a week's time, I was spilling protein in my urine, high blood pressure and pitting. NO wonder I hadn't been feeling too well. My mom immediately told me to lay down, take it easy. She needed to make some phone calls. She called Sonya-homeopathic practitioner, we'd end up making a trip to her home in Orem so she could evaluate me. We also called Dallin Moody ( who baptized me) to meet us at this appointment.

At Sonya's she told me I was really sick and that my liver was overworked. She gave me some remedies, I remember belladonna and acidophilous. Dallin gave me a sweet blessing that made me feel better. The next day I went to BetterBirth and had my blood drawn and some labs taken. I was still spilling a lot of protein. My mother midwife put me on bed rest and scheduled me with an OB that the midwives worked with. Until this appointment I was not allowed up. Mom started to research my condition. Toxemia or Pre eclampsia was my diagnosis. Basically pre eclampsia is a disorder that occurs only during pregnancy and the postpartum period and affects both the mother and the unborn baby. Affecting at least 5-8% of all pregnancies, it is a rapidly progressive condition characterized by high blood pressure and the presence of protein in the urine. Swelling, sudden weight gain, headaches and changes in vision. There isn't a known cause for this disease. I was scared!

At 30 weeks gestation, at my appointment with Dr. Christensen they checked my protein in urine again and blood pressure, both were high. He examined me a little more and did ultra sound to check on my baby but concluded that I needed to be put on bed rest and admitted to the hospital immediately. I remember calling Chaz and crying while I told him what was happening. Mom got me some soup from Wild Oats and we headed to LDS hospital.When we got the hospital they monitored my blood pressure again and decided it was too high and at risk for seizure....So they gave me an IV of magnesium sulfate to help my blood pressure. THIS WAS HORRIBLE! My body was on fire from the inside out, it made me vomit. I was miserable but it brought my pressure down a little.

My mom found diet to be key in keeping my liver as healthy as possible and in keeping blood pressure as low as possible. At this point I was put on a pristine diet with no toxins. Everything had to be organic, natural, no artificial flavor or color, no msg, no added anything, no extra sugar or fat.& I needed to put as much protein in my body as possible to make up for all I was losing. I had to watch everything. You' be surprised how much of what you eat is not-so pure. You'd be even more surprised that the hospital I was staying at fed me worse than horrible for my sickness. Fake, processed meat, jello, instant mashed potatoes, sugar-filled yogurt and desserts. My mom had to bring in my meals to avoid eating the poison I was offered at the hospital. We asked if there was a time we could speak with the hospital's dietician. He didn’t know much either, he did say there was an alternate menu I could choose from and substitutions I could make, which were helpful BUT not good enough.

My goal was to stay pregnant as long as possible, keep getting nutrition to my baby so she could continue to grow and keeping all my symptoms as low as possible, the only cure for toxemia is to deliver your baby, so at this point I needed to try and keep everything under control to a certain point until symptoms were too dangerous for my baby or myself. So we knew I'd be delivering early, now it was just a matter of how far I could get until then.

After the first day I got to remove my blood pressure cuff and they just begin coming in every 4 hours to get a reading, check my reflexes, and ask me the same slew of questions every time: "how is your vision, do you have any pain in your upper left abdomen?" Since we knew I'd be delivering early, they gave me two shots of steroids to help baby's lungs develop faster.

We decided the only thing the hospital was doing for me was boring me and feeding me bad food. I knew I could be on strict bed rest at home where I could feed myself better easier and be in the company of my family. My doctor would always come check on me in the early hours of the morning, so this is when my mom came to catch him and request I be discharged, since she was my midwife. We proposed that I was at a stable enough blood pressure (still high) to be on bed rest at home. We promised to keep a chart of my blood pressure every four hours just as they were doing in the hospital. He was okay with that, we had to still go in twice a week to have ultrasound to measure baby's growth, amniotic fluid, check blood pressure and a weekly non-stress test. I had to do a 24 hr urine analysis, but this was good news. Hallelujah!

I made the family room couch my house/bed. I ate, slept, hung out, and took care of myself there. On special occasions I could go on outings, I had to be in a wheelchair but I remember taking a gateway trip and even one to target and the mall. I lived for these funny outings! Chaz and I decided to give our baby a name, now that we were going through this crazy and scary sickness, she needed to have a name, we already liked Presley, but now we agreed, that Presley Brynn is who she would be.

Things on my house couch were okay, for the most-part, even though my blood pressure was still high, we were maintaining its level. My wonderful midwife of a mother kept doing her research, there were so many remedies and herbs that were helpful at this time. I remember taking calcium magnesium which was sort of the same as the mag sulfate they gave in my IV in the hospital, we also learned that the herb alfalfa was extremely good for cleansing the liver so it could do its job. I also could soak my swollen feets in Epsom salt which had magnesium in it as well. I made the alfalfa tea twice a tasted like grass, but I knew it was good for my baby and I so I did it. My bi weekly appointments were okay, baby was still growing slowly and my symptoms were always about the same. Presley remained in the breech position.

I took it one day at a time, each day I made it was so helpful, happy to me. Each week-a miracle. Now, 34 weeks- the night before my appointment I was having these silly repeated kicks in my belly, almost like she was knocking to get out. Before I fell asleep that night I remember thinking in my brain, that it might be time for my Presley to come now. The next morning, we had arranged for Christine to take me to my appointment, my mama had other appointments to attend to and Steen was just as involved in my 'bloodps' (blood pressure as we called it) as I was. I remember as we got onto the freeway talking about how at 34 weeks, my baby should weigh about 5 pounds. We got there and went through the drill, blood pressure-high, protein in urine-high, now time for the ultrasound. Amniotic fluid lower than before...and judging by measurements, Presley wasn't growing anymore. "You're going to have your baby today, Natalie" the nurse says to me. !!!panic!!!

Christine and I then try getting ahold of mom, she's not answering, she's busy. We leave messages. They schedule an emergency c-section because of her position. I call Graham to get ahold of Chaz and let him know. They then admit me and say they'll need to do the mag sulfate again. I ask them to refrain until my mom gets to the hospital, we've now gotten ahold of her and she's on her way. They say its too risky and they cannot wait and do it anyway. This again! I'm hot and miserable, and now anxious and scared, right as my mom walks in, I puke. I get to see my dad and my grandma and get prepped for surgery. Chaz makes it just barely in time as they roll my bed into the operating room. They give me the epidural and I feel like its hard to breathe but I am awake for the whole thing. It seemed like it was just minutes and my baby was out, I didn’t get to see her they passed her through a window and begin suturing me back up. After surgery I'm resting in my room waiting for my epidural to wear off so I can see my little one. Everyone else has been in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit to visit her but me. Chaz shows me a picture of her.She has dark hair and she is 3 lbs 4 oz. 19 inches long. I think it was probably 10:00 at night when I ask if I can see her. They ask me to try sitting up, if I feel dizzy or nauseous, then I shouldn’t be up, I feel slightly dizzy but I tell them I'm okay and to take me to her. They wheel me to the NICU and take her out of her little incubator for me.

She is a little thing but feisty. Never needed any help breathing. Just hooked up to a feeding tube and and IV. I hold her for as long as they will let me, Oh Prelsey Brynn, you are here.
Love, Natalie

presley brynn born may 12, 2006

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

this woman's work - day two

If this were a hand written letter, it would certainly have tear stains on it but this is a subject very near and dear to my heart...a story I LOVE to share! I can't promise this will be short.

The years before Tyce made his arrival into our family were filled with hope, anxiety, heartbreak, patience, anger, hope again and on and on. It really was an emotional journey to our first born son. When we finally decided that it was time to submit our adoption papers, it was as if the weight of decision making was lifted off our shoulders. We had now done all we could do...and now, it is up to God. God's will would prevail. As the months ticked by, we wondered if we would ever be parents. We were approved for adoption on December 22, 2004 and it would be a year until the Lord's plan for us would be manifest. On November 30, 2005, I recieved a phone call from our case worker at LDS Family Services. She asked if Mark and I could come in today for a visit to update our "financial information". I didn't buy it. I knew this was it!!

When we got there, we were given a box from "Build a Bear" and in it was a bear dressed in a little boy outfit, a scrapbook page with priceless pictures of a sweet 15 year old girl and an ultrasound picture of OUR son! Words really cannot express the emotion I felt at that moment. It was like a dream. I cried and wondered when I would wake up. The spirit was so strong and I KNEW that this would happen. I instantly fell in love with that young girl and could not possibly comprehend what she must be going through at that moment. We learned that this precious baby boy was due December 28, 2005...just a mere 4 weeks away. As we left the agency...we just could not wait to tell the world...and that is just what we did! We decided to enjoy the moment despite the fear that until this baby was 2 days old and relinquishment papers were signed...she could change her mind and keep him (which I would not have blamed her for doing...but it was a real fear for me).

The next week, we got to meet McKelle for the first time. She looked so young and it broke my heart. We were so nervous that she wouldn't like us...that she wouldn't want US to raise HER son. Turns out she was nervous for the same reasons. She was worried that we wouldn't want to raise a child from HER family...silly girl. We had a great visit. We fell in love with her. Then we went home and we waited. We wrote letters back and forth to McKelle and got to know more about her, her family and Tyce's birth father.

On December 21, 2005, I was visiting teaching when my phone rang. My heart jumped when I saw my case workers number on my phone. I answered to find out that McKelle was in labor and it looked like Tyce would be coming tonight. I immediately ran home and told Mark and then, we waited some more. At eleven o'clock that evening, we got another call that Tyce was here!! He was 8 lbs 3 oz and 21 1/2 inches long and completely healthy with a little bit of hair. McKelle was doing well and we could expect to have "placement" in a couple days...they would get back to us. I was not prepared for the next onset of emotions. I was a wreck. Would she change her mind. Now that she met him...could she let him go? Was I really going to be a mom?

The hardest thing for me was the fact that McKelle wanted those 2 days in the hospital to herself. We were not asked to come visit. We completely respected her wishes and understood but it was still very hard. So...the days went by and on December 23rd, we got a call in the morning that she had just signed the relinquishment papers and Tyce was now legally OUR SON!!! How relieved we were. We were going to bring our son home from the hospital that night! It really happened! And then I cried. I tried to put myself in her shoes. She had just signed her title of MOM over to me...a stranger. How was she doing? Was she having any regrets?

When we got to the hospital, our emotions were very close to the surface but the Holy Ghost was right there with us and I assume that he was with McKelle very strongly as well. I know she was being lifted up at that time. The first time I saw my son was amazing. McKelle wheeled him in his little plastic hospital bassinette and he was so sweet and so beautiful. I just looked at him and I hugged McKelle and we cried. For the next hour or so...she clung to her little boy. And then it was time for her to say goodbye. How do you say goodbye to your baby? How is that possible? How is someone so brave? It is a mystery and I still just don't know.

She moved to hand him to me several times before she finally just did it. I could see the pain and torment in her eyes and it broke my heart. I wasn't even feeling my own joy at that moment. I was haunted by the ache in her eyes and certainly in her heart. She didn’t stay after that. it was just too hard for her.

The next several days were a blur. Full of sleepless nights and time spent gazing at my new son. I will be honest and say that he didn’t feel like MINE for several weeks. I felt as if I were babysitting. There was a sense of guilt over my happiness at his birth mother’s expense. I felt as if the rug would be pulled out from under me at any moment and we would hear that McKelle had changed her mind and some signature had been missed allowing a loophole for her to reclaim Tyce. All these were fears of mine and it prevented me from fully opening my heart to motherhood until some time had passed and I finally allowed the Holy Ghost to fill my heart with peace. Once this happened…I finally allowed myself to bond fully with my son. He has been my life for the last two and a half years. The best years of my life so far.

tyce douglas born december 21, 2005

Little did I know that the Lord had in store for me another miracle. One I never thought was possible for me. I got pregnant! It was amazing…after 8 years of infertility the test was positive. I couldn’t tell you how many pregnancy tests I have taken over the years but I can tell you that they were never positive. We had adopted our son two years earlier and were anxiously awaiting another match to adopt again. We were excited and totally okay with adopting as a way to grow our family but there was always that part of me that felt broken. That longed to really be a woman and do what women should be able to do. To grow and birth a baby. I had already grieved that loss and moved on and now I found myself with the opportunity to do that exact thing. It was overwhelming and exciting and I was scared to death that I would lose this baby to miscarriage. I just put my faith in the Lord that he would surely not give me this blessing and then take it away after all this time and I was right.

My pregnancy was wonderful and I loved all of it. I miss it. I had two main fears through this whole pregnancy. That I would not love this baby like I loved Tyce. Tyce was my life and my heart. The second was that I would love this baby more than I loved Tyce because I was able to carry and give birth to this baby. Both were very wrong. It is amazing how your heart can grow to add a whole new section just for the new babe.

I had planned on having a natural childbirth in a hospital setting. I had labored all day…even going to the pumpkin patch with Tyce and grocery shopping. I was doing really well. Breathing through my contractions. Mark was massaging my back. All was well, until my water broke. WOW…that was intense. Little did I know that my body was going to go from nothing to 10 cm dilated in four hours. Once we got to the hospital, the contractions were just one to two minutes apart and very intense. I couldn’t catch my breath and began hyperventilating. I decided at that time to go ahead and get the epidural. That hurt too and I am still numb on my outer right thigh…but it was and is still worth it.

After the epidural…my birth experience became very peaceful and relaxing. When it was time to push, I did so with much anticipation. I couldn’t wait to see my new son. When he came out, I watched Mark. He was in awe of what was happening. He was right there and saw it all…yes…ALL! That was the sweetest sound I had ever heard. My baby crying on my tummy. He was so clean and pink and perfect. His daddy stayed with him while I got “fixed up” and then I got to really hold him and see him. He looked just like me! I was overwhelmed with the love that I felt for him. I was no longer worried that I couldn’t love him like I loved Tyce and that was a huge relief for me.

During the time in the hospital…I really reflected on McKelle (Tyce’s birth mom). How did she do this and then turn her title of Mom over to me? How did she survive? I have a whole new respect for her on top of the overwhelming admiration that I already had for her.

kaze markus born october 16, 2008

All in all…with my experiences with adoption and a “home grown” baby…my dreams have come true and I am content (until I want another!) Only the Lord knows the plan for me and my family and so far…I am very grateful for what we have been given. Both the good and the bad.
So, in essence, that is the story. Believe it or not, that is the short version. It is such a sacred and special experience that it is really hard for me to paraphrase it.
Love, Daisha

Monday, December 1, 2008

this woman's work - day one

summer 2003. i'm pregnant. i knew i wanted to have my baby in the pretty birth center in salt lake. i have a great respect for home-birthers but that didn't feel like the right choice for me nor did a hospital birth. i had found a happy medium. a great solution. toward the end of my pregnancy, cathy asked me the "why not a home birth?" my reasons: ...i wanted a natural labor and wanted to be able to do things my way. but i didn't want to be at home. i didn't want to be in labor while someone was in my kitchen doing dishes or doing laundry.....or heaven forbid...people watching tv or playing video games. i wanted to be the only "thing going on" i wanted a to be in a place that wasn't exactly my home....but a place that felt cozy and safe. and i wanted to be heard.
the salt lake birth center and becky, my midwife, felt like a perfect fit. perfect.
you know, my delivery was going to be #100 at the birth center. all kinds of festivities were going to be held to celebrate. but that's not quite what happened. parts of "my" birth story are a little fuzzy. but that's really ok with me. i think i remember it the way i want to remember it. and i really don't want anyone else to write it for me.

i was in early labor all that day. lindsay and i walked the fashion place mall, i have a very happy memory of our lunch at macaroni grill that day. then more mall walking. i think lin bought us that sweet brown blankie that day too. feelings of being scared and excited took turns coming over me.
and the night came, and the labor got real. and hard. and harder. i probably could have stayed at cathy's longer, but we went to the birth center. and labor got harder. and i wasn't progressing. how could this be? i was having hard core contractions and not dilating? we tried all kinds of things. becky checked me again. and i saw her look at cathy. and i knew. i still hadn't progressed and we had to move. another calendar day had gone by. i was tired. we transported to the hospital. i had no idea what was going to happen. i hadn't planned on being there.
an epidural, pitocin, a near c-section. another day goes by with my family camped out in the hospital waiting room.

and finally. the birth of my baby boy. and honestly...when i got that baby boy, my little reno, in my arms....i was so tired...but the "way" he got here....didn't matter anymore. he was safe. healthy. sweet.

going to the birth center a couple of weeks later for a check up brought a twinge of sadness over the way things "should" have been. the picture of cam's birth i had planned in the pretty suites there and the way things would just flow naturally. its not how it ended up. and it was ok to grieve about it.

i've come to believe that, for me, its not so much about "the birth" really. and that's just my own opinion. i choose to focus on the layers.....the bond i had with my baby when he was in my belly. all those months where i made choices based on the fact that they were affecting a growing babe in my body. the sweet baby belly rub i got at the day spa days before he was born.the meditation. the music we heard while he was safe inside me. the thoughts and dreams i developed for this little boy i had yet to meet. he kept me sane as other parts of my world were falling apart.

the bond that was made when i first touched him. when i felt his little self on the outside of me. getting him to nurse. giving him life. learning the ways of mothering this babe.

and he still keeps me sane as other parts of my world fall apart. its about having him here. and getting him here didin't go according to my plan. but was never my plan to make in the first place. love and peace to you my brave, sweet linny. that is my amy

cameron daniel born january 19th, 2004


do you feel like sharing your own story? post it on your blog and email me the link to i will post a list of all of them at the end of the week. and don't forget to leave loving comments all week long here - as many as you wish. invite your friends to this women's circle. i will collect all the comments you leave and pick one of you for a year of MOTHERING magazine. my favorite.
love, lin

"this womans work" - kate bush

being invited into someone's birth space is such a sweet honor. i've been witness to such sacred events only a few times.

the first overwhelmed me. i was there to video the event. i was young. i was scared. she was loud. the babe was born. i felt myself gasp for air and tears stream down my face. new life.

the second was my dear aunt amy. there was a reverence to her laboring hours. people spoke in whispers, the birth suite was dimly lit, sarah mclachlan played on repeat as she swayed in a wooden rocking chair while i rubbed her feets and tears streamed down my face at the reality of the painful work she was deep in the throws of.

the third was my littlest sister jade. i arrived at the hospital just after she'd received her epidural. i brushed her hair back and whispered in her ear, "this is it. you're doing it. your boy is on his way." i held her shaky hands in awe of what her tiny jadey self had been doing for the previous nine months. i left her there to do the big work and cried my eyes out all the way home.

and of course i was very much present at the birth of my first babe. i'd planned to have a homebirth. everything was in place. all things delegated. this is what i remember:
two weeks late and counting. new slippers. my comfy couch. my mama holding my feets. smiley face socks. nick at nite. andrey waking for work. my red plaid blanket. amy arriving with ramen and sunmart ice. the birth pool. my birth skirt. dancing with andrey. big deep breath. amelia arriving with a hug to acknowledge the work i was doing. a caramel candle. bob marley's greatest hits. my squeezing belly. the pain in my back. will he be here by dinner? hours. more hours. even more hours. the stoplights on the way to the hospital. walking with andrey down the hall. frantic. waiting on the IV drip. asking for my dad. waiting on the epidural. the epidural. i. can't. breathe... and the rest is a mushy mess that i can't really remember.

until my boy is born. on my birthday. my husband tells me how cute he is. i think i hear him cry. he's whisked away. "go with him!" i tell andrey. he came back washed and clean, poked, prodded and bottle fed. then i finally saw him. lucas jude.
something about being posterior. something about him being very much tangled up in the cord. something about him being 9+ pounds took us from my sacred birthing space to the hospital. the trauma of that part weighs heavy on my heart.

i am thankful for the days i spent laboring in the peace of my own home. i am thankful that my voice was heard when i knew i needed to move my production to the safety of the hospital. i am thankful for the modern technology and medicine and the kind doctor that allowed me to safely birth my boy. i am thankful that he is healthy and happy and just plain perfect. i am terrified to do this again.

i was given assignment by my mama midwife to go back and explore that day and say outloud the fears i have for the upcoming birth of this baby boy. i decided to do that here. in order to do that i asked some the bravest/wisest/sweetest people i know to help me. i wanted to hear words from them of their own (all very different)birth experiences. not really to compare them to my own but more to find the empowerment that i needed to remind me that i can do this. that our bodies are made to do this. that each babe will come when and how it needs to. each has their own story.

they were each willing to let me share their stories here, too. a new story each day this week starting later this afternoon. do you feel like sharing your own story? post it on your blog and email me the link. i will post a list of all of them at the end of the week. and don't forget to leave loving comments all week long here - as many as you wish. invite your friends to this women's circle. i will collect all the comments you leave and pick one of you for a year of MOTHERING magazine. my favorite.

let me remind you, however... being invited into someone's birth space is an honor. respect these lovely women and their stories. turn your voices down to a whisper and enter their sacred space with me. do you hear the sweet music? smell the candles? feel the reverence?
love, lin