Friday, April 8, 2016

Bennett Rae's Birth Story

**Just a disclaimer--this is a no-holds-barred birth story complete with talk of bodily fluids--if you want just the basics read the first paragraph and then you can scroll down to beneath the asterisks to the final portion and the pictures**

******Short version************

On Monday, March 28th I basically did everything in my power to get my body to cooperate and kick into labor. I had my membranes swept, took herbs, used the breast pumped, used oils, got a chiropractic adjustment, had the kids and Roy stay with Ammah so I could relax, vacuumed vigorously, and tried to will my body into labor. By 9:30 I was having regular painless Braxton-Hicks contractions every 10-15 minutes, but nothing strong or uncomfortable. By midnight I was getting tired and was almost ready to throw in the towel and go to bed. I was pretty sure if I did that things would peter out and I would wake up still pregnant. Then I had a few strong and uncomfortable contractions, and one I had to breathe through. I texted my midwife at 12:30, called my mom to come over, woke Matt up and we got the birth pool set up. Only an hour and a half later, at 2:02 am, Bennett Rae came into the world so quickly I caught her myself! She was 21 1/2 inches long, her head measured 15 inches around, and she weighed 10 lbs. 8 oz.! Our biggest baby! We feel so blessed!

*******Long version************

I think Bennett’s birth story started on Thursday, March 24th. That morning my midwife, Susan, came over and swept my membranes for a second time (something that can naturally bring about labor if the baby is ready), I was having pretty regular Braxton-Hicks contractions (painless, but the uterus “practicing” a contraction…like flexing a muscle), and I had gone to the chiropractor to make sure everything was aligned and ready to go.

Then I went to pick Tatum up from school…and she had caught a stomach bug. I immediately felt my body put on the brakes—it knew another baby needed me more at that moment. It was pretty amazing (even if frustrating) how quickly my body stopped any signs of baby coming because I knew my attention was pulled in another direction.

Tatum was sick for a few days—the longest she’s ever really been down. But we oiled and rested and while we didn’t go to church on Easter morning, but that afternoon she was doing so much better we got together with family and had our egg hunt and Easter dinner. That day I was one week past due—and soooo ready to have that baby!!!

Monday I talked to Susan again and we agreed she would come that evening and sweep my membranes again. All day long I mentally prepared for that baby. I oiled. I did lunges and squats. I snuggled with Kenna and let all those feel-good oxytocin hormones flow. We agreed the girls and Roy would spend the night with Ammah so even if the baby didn’t come I’d have a restful evening. 

But when Ammah picked Tatum up from school I got a call—her fever was back and she complained that her neck hurt. That’s always a flag to look into things more, and I could feel my body shutting down again. But then my mom went over and we think it was more of the full body ache that accompanies the flu, and she’d just had a little relapse from such a big day on Sunday.

So I willed my body to relax. Again, I oiled with every feel-good and relaxing oil I had. I went to my chiropractor again and she straightened me out and hit all the right pressure points to encourage baby (again). I did one last big grocery shop to stock up on necessities. At home I picked up the house, and by the time Susan arrived I was blasting Sia and finishing up vacuuming. She walked in, looking around and nodding and said, “I’m liking the vibe in here” with a big smile.

After she swept my membranes (again) and I was about 5 cm, she left me with herb tinctures to take every 15 minutes for the next three hours, and I was going to use the breast pump for 15 minutes on and 15 minutes off. Not only that, but I oiled up, put the diffuser on, drank some Ningxia Red (cause if I was going to have this baby Lord knows I needed energy), and made myself a protein shake. Then I settled down at 9 to start the herbs and pumping.

I was having some Braxton-Hicks contractions, but nothing uncomfortable or too strong. And really, they would only show up when I would get up and move around. I started timing them around 9:30, and they were between 8 and 15 minutes apart for the next couple of hours. Pump. Herbs. Oil. Pump. Herbs. Walk around. Pump. Herbs. Oils. Pressure points. Pump. Herbs. Oils. Hip dips. Pump. Herbs.

By midnight I still was just having painless Braxton-Hicks, although sometimes they would feel stronger. If you’ve ever been desperate to have a baby you know the crazy feeling of WANTING to feel some discomfort! I was also starting to feel tired. Sometimes the contractions were 11 to 14 minutes apart still—not very encouraging. Matt had gone to bed, and I felt if I just went to bed things would peter out and I would wake up the next morning still pregnant. NOT what I wanted.

I had been watching Downton Abbey, but needed something in the background I knew by heart and would elicit those feel-good hormones. Flipping through our DVD library I came across one of my all-time favorites—Little Women. The 1949 version with June Allyson and Margaret O’Brien. Just the opening music makes me happy, and how appropriate since I was about to bring another little woman into this world. Yup, it definitely hit the feel-good buttons!

Then I had one pretty strong and uncomfortable contraction. Five minutes later, another one that was definitely not comfortable. A Braxton-Hicks two minutes later, and then a couple of uncomfortable ones 5 minutes apart. I was just thinking about calling Susan, when I had one where I had to actually stop and breathe through. I texted her the contraction record at 12:30 and let her know they were getting uncomfortable—and she responded she was headed our way.

I woke Matt up to start blowing up the birthing pool, and called my mom to head over. It seemed odd to get things so prepared with just a handful of uncomfortable contractions, but knowing my body births fast it was better safe than sorry!

I got my earbuds in and tuned into my Hypnobirthing tracks and got in the zone. Susan arrived, followed by my mom and Elizabeth who is also a midwife. Susan and some local midwives team up so there are always two midwives at a birth—one for baby and one for mama if needed. They had started filling the birth pool and by 1 am I definitely knew we were having the baby that night. I was having to breathe through contractions and focus on relaxation.

I attempted the reclined relaxation position described in the Hypnobirthing book but found I much preferred to be moving around. I went through a lot of contractions sitting on the toilet (it helps you relax down south and open up), and then used the birthing ball while kneeling and rocking over it. I used oils to help ease the discomfort, but by then was vocalizing through contractions. I asked Matt to rub my lower back and hips, and after just a couple more contractions I got the urge to push which was quite surprising! I even said, “I feel like pushing!” and Elizabeth was instantly in the room.

They were still trying to get the birthing pool water warm enough to get in—I can’t tell you how badly I just wanted to climb in there! By then I think it was around 1:45…but I was in laborland so who really knows?! I walked across the house to the other bathroom and while in there had a definite pushing instinct and was vocalizing pretty loudly and emptied my bowels. Susan poked her head in with her eyebrows raised and I assured her it wasn’t baby—just poop. Ahhh the filters we lose during birth…

From there they let me know the water was warm enough and I ever-so-thankfully climbed in. I wedged my phone in the cup holder of the pool and swayed back and forth with my eyes closed, willing my body to relax and making whatever noises my body needed to make. There was a whole lot of “Oh Jesus” and a few “Have mercy-s” in there! Pretty soon after getting in (I think the water gave my body a few minutes of a break which was much appreciated), I could feel Bennett moving down, and reaching down I could feel the top of her head and learned that we had another baby with a full head of hair.

Taking a side trail—with Tatum and Kenna I had torn before. Not terribly, and normally it wouldn’t have been an issue. However, getting stitched up with Tatum was excruciating—way worse than pushing her out. It wasn’t until I was getting a couple of stitches after Kenna was born that we realized that my body…for whatever reason…doesn’t respond to lidocaine. You know…the stuff that numbs? Which explains why no matter how much they used, I could still feel the needle and thread going through each time. NOT FUN. So THIS time around I was determined to not need stitches! If you want to talk about what I did prior to birth to help that just let me know. I also oiled (of course), and used oils down south as soon as I knew I was in labor to help soften things up. But back to the birth—I just wanted you to know why this was so on the forefront of my mind…

So I think I said out loud I could feel the head, and as the urge to just push the baby out and get it over and done with was taking over my body, I willed myself to slow down, slow breathing, and I held her little head so that it was slowly coming out. I’m not sure what I sounded like on the outside but I did most of this with my eyes closed and in my head I was very calm and talking myself through it. I still had my headphones on so I’m sure that was helping too. I was on both knees bent over in the water, feeling her head come out, and felt I needed to open my pelvis more to let her birth so I pulled my right leg up so I was just kneeling on my left knee, and as I did that she came out and I pulled her up onto my chest.

Honestly, I was so in shock I had just caught my baby that I just leaned back and took a minute with my eyes closed. Bennett Rae was born at 2:02 am. She came out squalling and announcing herself to the world! Only an hour and a half after I texted Susan. Definitely the fastest labor by far!

When I had caught my breath I got to take a look at my new little girl. Chubby cheeks, dark hair, clearing her lungs quite loudly and covered in vernix. A cute little bum that fit in my hand, fingers long and the nails still a little purple, and I noticed the cord of my headphones disappeared beneath that little body. When Susan took the earbuds out of my ears and tried to pull the cord she couldn’t, so I lifted Bennett a little bit and we saw she had her first tightly wrapped around the cord!

I got out of the pool before birthing the placenta and moved to our bed, that precious little bundle still on my chest. Once there I birthed the placenta, but again had a bit of retained membrane. This happened with Kenna and I had some minor hemorrhaging, and that danged membrane hung on for a couple of hours before coming out. This time we did some things beforehand to strengthen my blood, I took lots of Vitamin K to promote clotting, and cut down on things that could potentially thin the blood. My overall blood loss was about half of what it was with Kenna, and thankfully that membrane came out after 15 minutes or so. And guess what? I had some minor tearing, but no stitches! Hallelujah!!!

*******************************************************************************

Matt and I got some time alone with the baby, and in that time we talked about her name. The front runner for the name from 18 weeks on was Carina, but Matt wasn’t sold on it. I loved the middle name Rae, but at first Matt said it sounded like a boy’s name. Then I suggested Bennett for a middle name. Since the girls are already Palmers, I love the idea of having some of my family name in there as well, then when they’re older they can use Palmer as their middle name if they want—like I use Curran as my middle name now. Bennett is Ammah’s (my mom’s mom) maiden name. Not only that, but when I looked up the meaning and saw it meant “blessed” or “blessing” I felt it was perfect. Not to mention the fact it’s the last name of one of my favorite literary heroines. So we toyed around with Carina Bennett…but still weren’t settled. On Monday while Matt was in class he texted, “What about Bennett Rae?” and I loved it. We still decided to wait and see her face before making a final decision, and seeing those pink chubby cheeks we felt that our surprise blessing’s name was Bennett Rae.

We did the newborn exam and found Benny Rae to be 21 ½ inches long, her head was 15 inches around, and she weighed a very surprising 10 lbs. 8 oz.!!! Our biggest baby! So if you’re pregnant and they’re trying to scare you that your baby is too big to birth naturally—take heart! I’m only 5’4” and this big baby has been the easiest recovery!

Thanks for reading this novella. I love births and love talking about them, so if you have any questions at all please feel free to ask!


We really thought we were done with our two girls, and I feel like God whispered, “but you don’t know what you’re missing” and gave us a surprise. Our hearts are thankful, even though I know we have a lot of challenging days ahead. For now, I’ll just get back to snuggling this squish and smelling that newborn head!

Taking a minute to catch my breath
She had a pretty good grasp on the cord!


One proud daddy!

She was already sucking on her fingers
So lucky to have Susan as a midwife!


So blessed!!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Kenna is--WHAT?!--ELEVEN WEEKS?!

Okay, so we took photos at Week 7...but I didn't get around to editing them.

And then she began taking her long nap in the morning when the lighting was best in her room...so we kept putting it off until she was awake...and then not doing it at all!

So this morning right before she crashed again we were able to get some 11 week photos! But first, here she is at 7 weeks!


And a few more because she was so expressive that day!

Like expressing SHOCK


Skepticism


Amazement


And sleepiness




Shortly after this we celebrated my 30th (wait, what?) birthday, Fourth of July, and my Dad's 54th birthday (they were just babies when they had me!)

Tatum, Ammah and I went to the Edmond Parade


Then we drove north to Tulsa to go to the aquarium and watch the fireworks. Three words: hot, humid, and hot. 


Kenna is a total Daddy's girl


In garden news we have a jungle in our backyard again! And we scored a major deal at Target for a picnic table! Then I, being tired of soggy cushions on our current patio furniture and having a fire pit in a table that's just not practical for either windy Oklahoma or toddlers, sold our patio set and bought new chairs, a bar cart, and a teak coffee table and the difference was only $5! Score! The old coffee table got a coat of outdoor spray paint and is now on the deck with chairs that take up less room and dry off much faster!

A couple of shots from April so you can see the difference:


we were getting a bit of late snow


Then here is early June:




And now in late July:




And here's the latest harvest--lots of onions and carrots!




And here's a few day to day shots of my adorable girls:







she's still working on that whole eyes-straight thing


Kenna has gone from having three modes: sleeping, nursing or angry, to being a VERY happy baby!!!



And it only took ELEVEN weeks but Tatum finally wanted to hold Kenna again!




Which finally brings us to the point of this blog post--how did my baby get to be ELEVEN WEEKS?!



My little squishy weighed in at 13lbs 10oz and 24 1/2 inches long for her two month well-baby check up! We just make big babies round here!

That's the news on the kiddo end of things. For Matt and I we've had a very unexpected side business spring up--teaching about essential oils. It started as more of a ministry and it still is, because anytime people feel better or have a weapon to fight things like depression or anger or high blood pressure or scoliosis or an autoimmune disease, it is a blessing. 

Yesterday I got sick. A head cold with all the usual aches, runny nose, cough, sneezes, soreness and all-around misery of the thing. I felt it coming on when I was up at 5 am for a feeding. All day I hit the oils. And I didn't sit down unless it was to nurse or use the bathroom--very bad when you're sick but I had a lot of things to get done! 

Last night I had Matt do a VERY modified and VERY fast technique called the Raindrop Massage on me. You basically use a number of oils along the spine. There's a specific order, amount of drops, height from which they are dropped on the spine, and way to massage them in.

Matt's method was shake shake shake, rub rub rub. Next oil. Shake shake shake rub rub rub.

Not very exact. However, I am NINETY PERCENT BETTER this morning! If it wasn't for a little tickle in my throat and a bit of a cough I'd have no other symptoms! Hallelujah!

Anyways, I don't really "sell" oils, host "parties" or any of those typical things you think of when you think of something like this. I educate. I am a research nut and blessed to have an outlet for this. I owe not plunging into full on post-partum depression to the oils. They have changed our family's lives and regardless whether I continue teaching or not we will always be stocked!  

So if you think you've tried every "natural" remedy for something (like I thought I had with my migraines), give me a shout and let me do some research for you.

Until next time my lovely friends and fam!


Monday, May 26, 2014

Kenna's Second Week


As Kenna is uncurling and waking up a bit more we are seeing a bit more of her little self. And it does seem like she is going to be having a mind of her own!






She is our squeaker and squealer, very often grumpy at this time. We're still getting to know each other, and it seems she prefers to be snuggled or swaddled :-)


Tatum is warming up to Kenna, too. When we go somewhere she asks if Kenna is going to go with us, she "plays" with her by bringing toys over to her when she's lying on the activity mat and shows them to her, and 
asks about her when she wakes up. She's not overly in-love yet or trying to take over as a mommy like I've heard other toddler girls do, but she doesn't seem to dislike or be angry that Kenna is around.



I did survive my first week at home with two kids. It would help if Kenna would start sleeping longer stretches at night, but hey, some NingXia Red and I was able to keep on trucking!

Last Monday we made crowns, and that pretty much wiped me out for crafts for the week, lol.  Luckily they were played with nearly that long!



And Kenna, who had been nursing sometimes as often as every 30-45 minutes, took a bottle! Hallelujah Mama gets a break! Ammah tried first, but it seems Daddy had the magic touch!





In other news, Tatum will be getting glasses this week! We began noticing that one eye was crossing when she looked at things up close, so we took her to the doctor's last week. (in this pic her eyes are dilated from drops and the crossing was more pronounced than it usually is)



Its something that she'll hopefully grow out of, and you know I'll be using my essential oils (frankincense) as well, but for awhile you'll be seeing a mini-librarian Tatum.

We made it a family affair to go try on glasses, and here were a few she tried on at first:




When we put on a certain pair, this girl perked up like it was a new toy. She saw herself in the mirror and started her happy dance, her little butt shaking back and forth like it had a motor in it! We could hardly get her to look at us to take a picture because she wanted to look at herself.




We pick them up later this week, and hopefully she'll still have the same reaction!

After picking them out, we went to grab lunch with my mom and Ammah. Tatum had decided to carry her doll around in the carrier, just like I was carrying Kenna around.


And Mom and Ammah both got some snuggles in from Miss K



Oh, and Roy has taken up his guard-dog approach to Kenna as well. Usually he can be found lying next to her bouncer or swing, or on the floor next to (or on) the activity mat with her.