Change of Plan?

I've never had an epidural. Both Judah and Layla's labors were extremely focused on letting my body go through the labor and delivery process on its own. The name of the game was as few interventions as possible. 

In fact, my entire birthplan for Layla's delivery was, "I'd like this birth to be exactly like it would be if it was 1000 years ago...except, just, you know, in a hospital."  That got some fun looks from the staff (but it worked! All I had was an amnihook...which could have been made from a river reed from the Euphrates... so it still works).

By the grace of God, awesome coaching from Jesse, and it being way too late for an epidural by the time I started begging for one (both times), I delivered both kids without pain medicine. With Judah, I did get Pitocin (the smallest dose possible) to speed up labor, as my water had broken and the hospital has a limit on how long you're allowed to have broken water without progressing  to a certain dilation.

It was getting the Pitocin that made me think that completely unmedicated childbirth (no Pitocin) would be different or less painful. This was why I so wanted to deliver Layla old-timey style (spoiler alert: it wasn't the Pitocin after all that was to blame; it was the 8 lb human moving out of my vagina that was the cause of the pain. SHOCKING).

I remember being in recovery, maybe an hour or two after having Layla, and saying, "You know, that was fun and all utterly horrendous in every way, but I think if we have another baby, I might go for the epidural."

And Jesse was all:

he even stormed out of the room just like that. ;)

We changed practices when we found out we were pregnant with #3. We moved to a group that has midwives as well as OB's. I hadn't loved how weird I was made to feel in an OB-only practice that didn't have a ton of experience with the kind of birth I wanted.

This message of, "um, sure okay, you can have your baby like that," from some doctors there turned into full on pressure from them during my labors to let them intervene, to give drugs, to hurry up, and made the whole thing pretty stressful (as if it isnt enough on its own!) as I was made to feel like sticking to my birth plan (strange and foreign as it seemed to them) and letting my body try to do its job in its own time was putting my babies in danger (I never heard anything conclusive on this "danger" or any concrete symptoms of babies in distress, so I didnt appreciate them playing that card). We figured a blended practice with midwives and OB's working side by side would be much more receptive.

As the weeks of this pregnancy passed, I thought more and more about what was most important to us and to me (of course, always/only assuming healthy baby/healthy momma foremost). The more I weighed things, the more I felt like I wanted to allow for an epidural this time.

I have written about how with neither Judah nor Layla did I have that glowing, magic moment of being handed my fresh-from-the-womb baby and it just rocking my world. There was no happy crying or serene Mother Mary feeling of meeting them. This is because I was out of my mind with the sudden transition from worst pain of my life into disbelieving "it's over?" I was shaking uncontrollably and couldnt even really absorb that there would be no more labor and that the baby was HERE.

over 2 hours after Judah's birth when I came out of the OR and anesthesia after needing to have a very complicated tear repaired.

Now, I wasn't catatonic. I did breastfeed both babies immediately and do skin to skin and look at them. But I was so utterly flustered and still in panic-mode, that it was kind of just robotic, and I didnt enjoy those first moments like possibly I should/would have had the labors not been so all-consuming. I really grieved for these once in a lifetime moments afterward.

finally falling headlong in love with her...45 minutes after birth. I hate that she's in a plastic box and not MY ARMS.

So at the top of my "What do I want this time?" list was to be present emotionally and mentally for the moment of meeting Noa.

To be honest, a big part of my two natural deliveries was an element of  "let's see if I can really do this." Let me assure you, that is all gone now. I clearly CAN do it (what does that even mean? My uterus is efficient and by the time I was begging for drugs, there were humans hanging out of me and it was too late...not a lot of heroism or willpower on my part involved).

I've done it twice. I have that experience. It's in the scrapbook (as are the tatters of perineum that I blasted through in a pushing frenzy to liberate myself from hell). And weighing all the factors, I don't feel like the benefits outweighed the drawbacks for us.

I wouldn't say we regret the path we took with the first two at all. I love knowing that I felt everything in the process from beginning to end (even if it was torture) and that I have that in common with women throughout history. And boy are there women who make natural, crunchy, hippie birth look beautiful and calm and peaceful and it's just so obviously a great fit for them. And yet I am a high-strung, panic-prone control freak of a sissy and after two tries, I'm open to a new birth plan that might be a more cohesive fit with my personality.

So as I'm talking to the midwives at my new practice every appointment during the first months of this pregnancy, hilariously, I start to feel pressured by them to NOT get an epidural this time! I'm all, "y'all, give a momma a break...let me win just once!" Can someone just throw me a damn thumbs up for once?!?!

As I'm all squirmy and trying to hold my ground, the midwife says, "well the first time you didn't know what to expect so that's why it was so traumatic, and the second time you thought without Pitocin it would be easier, and when it wasn't, it was really shocking and scary. But THIS TIME, you know what to expect fully, so it will be soooooo much easier."

And I'm like, wow, that is some next-level rationalization, lady. You so crazy. It's okay to acknowledge that childbirth hurts!

At my next appointment I started seeing the OB's again. P.S., I LOVE midwives. I am related to some, and very awesome friends with others, but this particular one just kept pressuring me in a way that bordered on dismissive of my feelings and options every time I saw her, and that is NOT something I am willing to deal with time time around. Burn my nursing bra and hear me roar!

The great news is that my favorite doctor from my former practice is now at my current one. She delivered Judah's placenta (I was too fast for her to make it in time to catch him!) and we love each other.  I asked her about getting an epidural and the chances that doing so might slow down labor and eventually lead to an emergency situation and C-section (which is my biggest PLEASE NO of all). This is something you hear about a lot in natural childbirth books/conversations, and I wanted to know how much of a statistical correlation there was.

The doctor said that while studies do show that epidurals result in slightly more C-sections than unmedicated labors do, that my personal history with childbirth is far more indicative of how things will probably go. She said I dilate very well, am an efficient pusher and have never had any issues that would point to not being able to progress and deliver even with anesthesia, and that these factors are far more telling than global statistics. She said, "honestly, if you don't get a vaginal birth with this practice, you couldn't get one anywhere," meaning, they are all about the vag and they are not going to just be like, "okay it's been 2 hours,  let's get you a c-section before I clock out!."

So I am planning on taking the epidural as soon as it is offered this time, and even allowing them to induce me whenever they say I'm ready.

Confession: I feel a little guilty typing that sentence out. Like I am betraying someone or some group. I have never legitimately thought less of women who get ALL the interventions just for fun or even have elective C-sections (though I was probably too prideful of my own path/choice), but for some reason I feel like my choice to go a different path this time might open me up to some judgement.

I don't like disappointing people OR feeling judged but I am committed to standing firm in the land of: "Oh well. My babymaker, my birth plan. If you don't like, go play in your own amniotic pool."

I still plan on doing some hippie fun birth things like encapsulating my placenta (totally okay if that freaks you out bigtime!), taking the primrose oil starting this week, not cutting the cord for a good while, not being separated from Noa at all in the first 30-45 minutes.  The thing is, I had wanted most of those things too in previous labors, but was so out of it that I didnt speak up (and Jesse was so concerned for me that he didnt fight for the post-birth stuff either!) and so I didn't get them.

This is likely the last baby that will come from my own body. I want to milk (right?) every memory and be as present as I possibly can, and after lots of thought, prayer and talk, we feel like this is right for us.

As a fun bonus, our photographer is doing her first ever birth session with us! I would have NEVER said yes to this if I'd planned on going natural because it's just not super pretty-looking on me, and the poignant post-birth moments that birth photography captures so well might not have even happened if I was so PTSD-feeling as I always have been before. And when there's a photographer and two big kids involved, I'd love to just cut down on the chaos and unknowns if at all possible.

yeah, no need to frame this one (but let's totally put it on the internet. hello naked haunch!) . i spy AMNIHOOK!

Now I know what youre thinking. Because I think it myself, and about 90% of jokers that I tell this to like to remind me: "Well, you might not get a choice!" or  "Noa might have other plans!" or "This is your 3rd baby, you might not even make it to the hospital!"

Yeah, thanks guys and no duh. I punch your face.

OBVIOUSLY all of this is predicated hugely on "If everything looks good and healthy and goes like we hope."  I may  go into labor at 38 weeks and arrive at the hospital at a 8cm and have it be too late to get anything but a belt to bite down on. I may run to the potty to go #2 and end up holding my baby instead, like those ladies on that show who have no idea anything is going on. There could be a freak emergency that has me forever singing the praises of Casear and his magical section!

No matter what happens, I look forward to sharing Noa's birth story afterward and comparing it with our other experiences. But it was also important to me to express where we are before anything happens and how/why we want to approach this delivery a little differently.

I think the #1 best thing I learned from all of our childbirth education and experience is that women have choices and should feel empowered to make the ones that are right for them, their bodies, and their families during childbirth.  This is a pretty cool benefit of living when are where we do.

Motherhood is a vernix-covered magic mushroom of a miracle and there is no "right" path of how we all get there each time.

I'm not sure I was on that page a few years ago, and may have been a bit hippie-judgemental and high-horsey that my choice was BEST. I hate that I probably felt that way and may have made any other momma sfeel judged in any way.

Breast/bottle, biological/adopted, c-section/vaginal, rock your momma-story how you feel is best.  Loving our babies and doing our best for them is what makes us a rah-rah team of hardcore GIRL POWER, not one particular decision in a lifetime of millions.

Now then, who wants a dose of my placenta? Take two and call me in the morning.


Baby Favies

I love a good mood board. One snapshot of a bunch of different items that capture a style and a feeling of a room, an outfit, a season, pretty much anything.  They are a great resource on Pinterest, and will often give you a great snapshot of your personal taste and style when you come across one that sings for you.

A friend recently asked me about doing a post with my favorite baby Noa items, so I threw together a fancy (to me) white compilation. 

Compared to the things I liked/bought for Judah and Layla, my style has come light years. Not only is my taste level much more thoughtful, but the items I am choosing to buy are actually much more meaningful since I love each one so much. I have ended up spending much less on this baby (even factoring in hand-me-downs), and yet I find a lot more joy and quality in Noa's stash than I did by buying meh things in bulk before.

Of the 15 items pictured, I own about half already. Some are DIY-able by me and so I won't need to purchase, and some are just wishes. The majority are handmade or from small businesses, which--as a small, handmade, business owner myself--imparts another dose of love and thoughtfulness into the item as well.

What are your favorites? Do you have any must-haves, or drool-inducers of your own in the wide world of new baby items that I need to know about?


My Real-Life, Well-Dressed Toddler Son. Ramen + Quinoa

It's a sign of how out of it I have been that a wonderful, unexpected, priceless milestone happens for Judah this summer, and it slips my mind to blog about it.

"Hello, Posterity? This is Keight. Sorry I forgot to feed you."

It starts with Layla.

I added a little kid version of a hipster infinity scarf to my Etsy shop last fall. The cover model was this girl, who looked impossibly squnchable in her bunny print, posing like a veteran...poser?

toddler sold separately

Shortly after listing these, a customer asked about how they would look on boys, so I made Judah try one out for me and took a photo to show the customer a boy look. I also went ahead and ultra-hipster-fied him and had a full photo shoot complete with stage-mom directions in front of our house.

Because I'm 31 and was lacking any healthier hobby options, I guess.

The pics were hilarious. Somewhere between my "okay now give me Blue Steel" and his "Jeepers, Ma! I so dont want to be doing this," we landed into a pile of fabulously ironic and painfully cute poses and expressions.

I remember thinking he looked so big when I was taking these 11 months ago. Clearly I was delusional because he is TEENSY here.

But my favorite for sheer hilarity was the one I decided to post on my Instagram feed:

the duckfaced pout, the hand in pocket, the defiant chin. it's all so perfectly hipster. can't you just hear him extolling the virtues of kimchi or savagely critiquing a craft beer here?

Well my buddy, Emily, saw this pic and made a comment that, "Quinoa would love this" with hashtag #MIWDTD.

My immediate reaction to this comment was that Emily had maybe eaten some magic mushrooms becuase she surely was not making sense. But when I searched that hashtag I found a treasure of an Instagram feed belonging to the creator of the insanely viral Pinterest board: My Imaginary Well Dressed Toddler Daughter (hence #MIWDTD).

Created by  Tiffany Beveridge, the board (and Insta-feed) takes some of the more ridiculous children's fashion ads in existence and puts a story to them via brilliantly witty captions.  Like such as (...the Iraq):

Quinoa is basically the little girl who is cooler, richer, more gluten-free, and far more fashionable than you could ever hope to be. If you've heard of something, that means that she was into it, like, forever ago and is already completely over it.

So once I found the MIWDTD Instagram feed and instantly followed it, I decided to tag Judah's pic with that same hashtag too, since the boy in the pic could TOTALLY be a friend of Quinoa...or at least a  solid frenemy.  We brainstormed what his name would be: Gingham? Chai? Yolo? Nofilter? Neon? 

And then to my wild delight, Quinoa's "mom" herself popped in and commented on Judah's picture! 

Um, my child, being a hipster doofus, in a published work?! uh-duh!

So I sent her the pic and signed the release. I continued to follow Quinoa, laughing all the way (HA HA HA), and saw as the release date for the book was announced and then the advance copies went out, figuring Judah hadn't made the cut since I had never heard a final word. I wasn't too surprised since most of Quinoa's material is taken from work by real professional fashion photographers, in real ads, with much more over-the-top clothes and settings. I thought about asking Tiffany if Judah was in the book, but was too chicken to hear the rejection outright.

But the day the book came out we were by a bookstore getting dinner, and I said, well, let's go look at the book, just to be sure Judah's really not there, and buy it anyway since it's hilarious and perfect coffee table/guest bathroom reading.

I went to the front to ask for a copy and Jesse (the man) went to hunt it down without help. We both came towards each other holding the copies we had found and leafing wildly through it. 

"SHUT UP NO WAY!" I screeched. "PAGE 14 PAGE 14!!! HE'S IN HERE!"

You guys, she named him RAMEN! Just so beyond perfect as said noodles are a favorite of mine and a go-to during the rough-tum-tum weeks of pregnancy for me. 

And that caption, sheesh, she is spot on!

I was freaking out and making a slight scene screaming about him getting a FULL PAGE! and then forcing the kid to pose with the book.

Naturally we bought a copy (and so did my parents) and proudly display it in our living room (we've yet to get him to autograph it...a genius idea my dad had!). I also sat down and read the entire dang thing cover to cover in one sitting, cracking up all along the way. 

I give this book two thumbs way up (even if it weren't for page 14!), and since we donated the photo for free we see no profit for it's sales, so that is NOT why i give my thumbs.

All jokes aside, I have no intention of ever directing my kids towards modeling--even if they were "right" for it, so this was such a fun, once-in-a-lifetime thing for Judah to get to be a part of (especially since it was already done just for fun in the privacy of our own yard by the time we realized it would be published.. No stage = no stage mom potential!). He's set for life on at least one of his "two truths and a lie," and will always have a handy interesting fact about himself to put forth. 

Get a copy for yourself. Ramen/Judah will gladly autograph it for you.

Thank you, Emily for introducing me to Quinoa. Thank you, Tiffany for your rapier wit and for including us in your work. And most of all, thank you, Quinoa for being a paragon of what we should all aspire to, and for already being so totally over it by the time we caught on.