Saturday, December 27, 2008

Grandparents visit!

Mark's parents stayed with us Friday to Tuesday. The first two days were very low-key, with my mastitis...the first picture records a common sight during their visit: Grandpa E. reading book after book to Graeme. Boy did Graeme love that! I imagine Grandpa can still recite a few of Graeme's favorites verbatim, considering he read many of them 20+ times :-)

They brought gifts from Laura and Adam, and the crayon roll Laura made Graeme was (and still is) a big hit! He loves to say "roll" and is very particular about rolling it up every time he uses it...it's quite funny.



Here's Aunt Alyssa with cousin Andrew and Graeme enjoying some reading time


And a shot of Grandpa and Grandma E. with "the boys"

Friday, December 19, 2008

Miserable Mastitis

I've nursed for 20 months with no problems...until yesterday. My left breast was mildly sore, but then I came down with a fever, bodyache and chills quite suddenly. Went to the dr. today for an antibiotic prescription, but I am loathe to take it. www.kellymom.com has some suggestions for treating mastitis naturally...so I have to decide what I'm going to do. Mark's parents are arriving this evening for several days, so I don't want to be miserable the whole time. I covet your prayers!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Fun Pictures!

Wearing Cole (a.k.a. how I get anything done!)


"Hello?" Graeme likes to answer the "phone"


Graeme "helped" me decorate the Christmas tree...he put curly ribbons all over the bottom - it was quite festive!



Graeme's favorite new word: "mo-man" - here he's loving his snowman :-)

Monday, December 8, 2008

Playdough!

I made homemade playdough for Graeme today...I've made it before, but liked this batch better - it will keep for 6 months (so the recipe says). Today was Mark's first day back to work :-( so I wanted to give Graeme a project. He's sitting here right now playing with it again, so I think it's a hit! (If anyone would like the recipe, post in the comments and I'll post it for you.)

Graeme's vocabulary is expanding - he learned two words today: playdough ("dough-dough") and snowman ("mo-man"). "bowl" and "oil" are two other recent additions to his vocabulary. Oil is funny - it sounds like "whooo-eeel" and he likes to repeat it over and over.

Footnote: And the last pic isn't the greatest of me - I didn't get my makeup on until later in the day. At least I managed a shower before breakfast - I was very glad for that LOL! (Cole slept in...wish he'd continue that trend, but I know that won't necessarily last for long.)



Wednesday, December 3, 2008

"Month of Meals" - need your suggestions!

I'm going to make a month (or maybe even two month!) meal plan over the next few days. I figure, while Mark is here to help out, I'll go ahead and do my least-favorite (and therefore most procrastinated) meal chore: planning! Having a plan for a whole month will be a huge asset in making sure we end up eating dinner...or at least, so that we don't eat pancakes or grilled cheese too frequently ;-)

So, please, share any and all suggestions for a "New mom of two" meal plan - i.e. make-ahead, crock-pot, use-in-multiple-ways, easy recipes.

And you can bet soup & sandwiches will be on there a few times, so if you have neat tips for quick put-together meals for those days when things are all topsy-turvy, do share!

Any ideas I gather, I'll post here:
FamilyFun's "Month of Meals" for December - if nothing else, the categories gave me some great ideas (like "blast from the past" or "Meat-free Friday")

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Pictures of the boys...

First, a picture of the big brother. He is SOOOO big to me, now! I didn't realize how big he was, physically, until I have this little baby to compare to. Graeme is such a helper and so sweet with his brother...sometimes that can be dangerous LOL - he'll bring his trains or truck over to "share" and I have to keep him from slamming it on top of Cole's head. But at least he wants to share :-)I thought I'd share a picture of both Graeme and Cole - I think they share the same nose/lip area :-) Or at least, they look a lot alike!

Then some pics of Cole! Cole is a deep sleeper. He'll be awake for a long stretch and nurse a lot, then he zonks off for anywhere from 2-4 hours. It's been really nice at night...he usually only wakes up once or twice to nurse, though I could be blurry on that, since we co-sleep, I don't wake up very much half the time.

And finally, I thought I'd share a picture of both Graeme and Cole - I think they share the same nose/lip area :-) Or at least, they look a lot alike! Graeme is the second pic - he was about 4 days old, I think.





Saturday, November 29, 2008

Jackson Cole is here!

He arrived Wednesday at 2:45pm, after 9 hours of labor and 30 minutes of pushing. Cole was 9lbs. 4oz, 21 1/4 in. long, and he has dark hair! I will write out an extended birth story soon...I went into labor on my own early Wed. morning, and the birth was without any interventions or medication. Don't ask me right now whether I'd do it again LOL - but we're just delighted that God saw fit to answer our requests as He did! The recovery so far, compared to the cesarean, has been great. I couldn't believe I could walk after just 5-6 hours, and took a shower the next day...

Cole is a good-natured baby so far. Very alert, laid-back, easy-to-please (mama milk and a clean diaper!). Graeme is fascinated by his baby brother. He likes to give him kisses and is very gentle with him. He also is enjoying nursing! I feel a bit like a milk-machine right now, but I know we'll all settle into a routine soon. Graeme really impressed us with how well he responded to everything...he rose to the occasion like the big boy he is.

Enough chat - some pictures!




Saturday, November 22, 2008

Blessings...

...no baby yet, so the biggest blessing is yet to come :-)

But at my appointment on Thursday, we had an OB who we really like. She had a c-section with her first, then 4 VBACs with her next children...so she is both supportive and understanding about the issues surrounding a VBAC. She wanted to know how sure we were of my due date - if we knew when conception was. I explained to her that I was still nursing, and had no idea when conception was, as my cycles were still so irregular. (She told me she actually tandem nursed with a few of her children, which was cool, because that's not exactly a mainstream concept!) She was able to strip my membranes, and said I am 75% effaced and the cervix is very soft - 2.5 cm dilated still. The baby's head was nice and low again.

So she went to talk to Dr. Taylor, the head OB, and came back and said we could schedule an induction for either Monday or Friday. We first said, "Friday, like tomorrow?!" No, she meant NEXT Friday - as in, I'll be 42 weeks and 5 days next Friday! We were shocked. That would not happen in most hospitals, but she was very relaxed about it. She is also of the opinion that this baby isn't a gigantic one, definitely not in the 10lb range like Graeme was (who knows, really, but, hey!) so they're comfortable letting me go that long.

We *almost* went with Monday, but are still convinced that it is much better to let my body go into labor on its own as opposed to induction, so we set it up for Friday. She told me to pig-out on Thanksgiving dinner and come in at 5am on Friday morning :-) (She's the attending OB both Monday and Friday. We'd love to have her deliver our baby!)

The membrane sweep caused me to have contractions 5 min. apart for 2 hours early Friday morning - I called labor and delivery, assuming they would want me to come in, but they said to wait to see if they got any closer together...and sure enough, I went back up to bed and they faded off. I was disappointed - thought that was "it" for sure!

So I am continuing to learn that if your body is not ready for labor, nothing you do can force it to "go". As Ivy said in a comment recently (I loved this!), God has the baby's birthday picked out...and He's the only one!

I continue to have spouts of prodomal labor...it can be quite intense, which tends to get me excited. So I'm striving to basically ignore anything, so as not to exhaust myself!

I can't imagine what it's like to go into labor early, or to not have any contractions until, boom, it's the real thing!

I told Mark that with our next baby, I'm going to determine what I think the due date is, then add 2 weeks to that date! That way I don't stress myself or anyone else out about being "late". LOL!

I'm not "late". I'm exactly where my body is designed to be. So we wait, with expectation that God will continue to lead and provide.

Oh, and my doula decided to cancel her out-of-town Thanksgiving plans just to be available for my possible induction on Friday! I didn't expect her to make that choice, but was very grateful, as we really have a nice connection, and Mark and I both feel really comfortable with her. That was just an added blessing!

Monday, November 17, 2008

'Nother update...

The non-stress test was fine. The little guy kept moving around, but fortunately the tech had a sense of humor and just laughed and kept adjusting the fetal monitor. I was only supposed to be hooked up for 20-30 minutes - ended up on there for an hour b/c the doctor was delivering a baby...so that was a little uncomfortable.

I was amazed to see some of the mainstream medical practice "in action" - this is my first experience with all the medical intervention stuff, since we worked towards a birth center/home birth last time...I will admit that I fervently hope to have a successful VBAC this time so that I feel more comfortable with a home birth next time. It's so much more enjoyable of an experience.

The dr. didn't even check my chart to see that 1) I was a VBAC and 2) I was Group B Strep positive. She came in the room and said, "Let's schedule an induction! How's tomorrow?" - I then told her I was a VBAC, and she quickly retracted that offer - "Oh, well, we don't like to induce a VBAC, so we'll wait, then." There was an intern with her (aren't you typically asked if it's okay with you to have an intern examine you? I wasn't even asked...). They did an ultrasound to check my fluids, which were great, more than ample amount of fluid. Then the Dr. did a vaginal exam, then had the intern check and asked what he thought my cervical position was. He said - 4cm and -3 station. No way! she replied. "She's only at 2cm and I can't even feel the head!" She proceeded to check me AGAIN! So I was given 3 vaginal exams - only giving more opportunity to sweep that GBS bacteria into the uterine area (sigh!). If I make it to Thursday, I will be checking in advance and specifically requesting only one vaginal exam, please!

So she could not sweep my membranes again, which I was hoping for, b/c the head had gone back up, and if she did the sweeping, it could push the head even further out of the birth canal.

Now, the positive is that none of this really means anything. It's funny how dr.s feel like they just have to have a number to tell some kind of "progress". The reality is, mamas go into labor at all kinds of dilations - so someone who might be 1cm dilated could go into labor the next day and have a 6 hour labor...and someone who is 4cm dilated may take 18 hours to get to 10cm!

It was a fun trip (tongue in cheek!) that basically told me nothing helpful, except what I knew, that baby and I are doing fine :-)

She even suggested that I jump up and down to get the baby's head further down. That was pretty funny. She was serious, bless her heart!

Hoping we don't make it to Thursday for another non-stress visit...but oh well. We have a week before the "final straw" - they will induce me on Monday if nothing happens before then. Prayerfully, we won't make it to that point :-)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Update...

...the brief version: Nothing is happening :-)

The longer version: Sweeping the membranes didn't hurt nearly as much as I remember from last time. Dr. Fugate said it was b/c my cervix has really dropped, so it was easier to access. Apparently I misunderstood last week and I was only at 2.5cm dilated last week, this week it was a very stretchy 3cm.

We had the "what to do next" discussion. She feels baby is around 8.5lbs by now...I'm sure she's close! I gained 5lbs in one week, which is what happened with Graeme - those last 4 weeks, I gained 5lbs every week! Okay, I'll admit that I indulged a few times this week (had ice cream for the first time in weeks LOL!), but not enough to cause a weight gain of 5lbs!! I don't know what it is about my body. I've felt a little swollen some days, so a bit of it may be water retention. Sigh.

If I make it through the weekend without labor, I go to the hospital for non-stress tests next Monday and Thursday. Thursday, Dr. Taylor, the head OB, will see me and discuss our options. There are two: 1) They do a teeny bit of pitocin to kick-start contractions - or break my water, or both. I will be interested to see what he thinks about that. Dr. Fugate felt comfortable giving me just a bit of pitocin, but I recall Dr. Taylor being rather hesitant to use it, as it does increase my risk for a uterine rupture. I'll be doing research on that in the coming days. 2) schedule a cesarean.

I woke up quite discouraged, as nothing happened overnight. I visit several forums that support natural birth and VBACs...and I read posts all the time about natural induction methods - and it seems I am quite in the minority as far as this stuff just doesn't seem to work for me. With Graeme, I learned that if the baby doesn't wanna come out, nothing you do will get labor started. But I was sincerely hoping that this time, since I've been having contractions off-and-on for, what, 4 weeks?!, that maybe the membrane strip would be what I need. Now, it could still help - maybe today, right? But it is easy to get into the trap of hoping and longing for labor to happen all day - whether I'm having some contractions, so I think "This is it!" or with the membrane stripping: "Surely something will happen now!" Honestly, I was hoping to be one of those like I've read about - that 6 hours later, they're in labor! What is up with my body?! Castor oil, cohosh, EPO, walking (and walking and walking)...hey, even the pineapple and the eggplant parmesan - none of these things seems to do anything for me! Mark jokingly suggested jumping up and down on a trampoline??!!!

Most of all, my struggle is trusting God. It is a constant battle within my heart and mind to submit to the Truth - God's Words to me - instead of believing the doubts, fears and frustrations that fill my feelings. Many times, I *know* the Truth, but my *feelings* don't match, and I have to really do battle within my spirit. I thought this morning "What can I do today to keep my spirits up?" And it occurred to me the answer was in The Spirit - not in boosting my "spirits". I humbly ask that ya'll would pray for me, that the Spirit would have full reign over my spirit.

Mark has a way of encouraging me so well, and his words yesterday helped me. As the verse says,"God's ways are not our ways; His thoughts are not our own". And further, God's way is always best. If God knows that a vaginal birth is the very BEST thing for me and our baby, He will cause my body to go into labor at just the right time and in just the right way. There is no mistake in God's way of doing things. Mark showed me that I tend to focus on the wrong parts of this - I focus on how I want it to be, and second-guess and doubt when it doesn't seem to work out my way...but isn't my body in God's hands? If He wants me to go into labor, I will. If the end result of all of this is once again a c-section, no one has failed. We did everything we could this time around to support a natural birth...and if God does not grant us one, there is a reason for it, whether I ever see it or not.

It is hard to know which "side" to take this time around. Yes, Graeme was a big baby. But from all accounts, my body can handle it. The midwife-model of care believes that in most cases, our bodies do not make babies "too big" for the woman's pelvis (obviously there are exceptions). [Pessimistically, I have to ask: when do you begin to believe that you are an exception??!] My 5'3" mother birthed two almost 10lb babies naturally...both post-date by 3 weeks. So from the midwives perspective, I have a genetically greater chance of going post-date and having a big baby. Some woman "cook" babies longer.

From the medical community, we have the perspective that going past 42 weeks statistically increases your risks...the longer you go past that point. Dr. Fugate tried to do the scare-tactic on me - basically that the reason I couldn't birth Graeme last time was that he was "too big" for me, b/c I went so late (how does she know this?). However, my surgical report states that I was +3 station (that's as low as the baby can be without his head being out!) and 8cm dilated - I had actually gotten to almost 10 when we were pushing at home. The doctor offered forcep or vacuum delivery as options - but he felt that b/c of the funky position Graeme's head was in, being OP and kinda wacky, he felt a c-section was the best option. So the needed changes this time were: keep baby in a good position and try to clear my diet of things that might contribute to over-growing a baby (I've worked hard at this, but what can I say?!) Since we've chosen a hospital birth, they won't LET me go 43 weeks, unless I were to simply not show up for a schedule c-section! That's part of the pressure I'm feeling.

We definitely learned a lot last time. The trouble is knowing what knowledge to apply when. Meanwhile trying to keep it all in the perspective that "God's way is best".

So, though I definitely ask you to pray that God would grant us a natural, vaginal birth with a healthy mama and healthy baby, I also ask that our thoughts, feelings, and decision-making would be guided by the Spirit of God, who alone knows what is best for us.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Tomorrow....

...I go to the dr. and she's going to sweep my membranes. (Info here and here)

According to the research, stripping the membranes is a relatively safe and usually effective means of inducing labor, **if** the mama's body is ready for it. I will mention that my midwife did this with me when I was trying to induce Graeme's labor, and it wasn't the "magic" that one would hope for. This pregnancy is quite different, of course, the baby is in a good position, I'm already at least 3cm dilated (prob. 4 by now!) so I feel fairly positive about it. Pray for me, as I'm actually a wimp when it comes to inflicted pain. I was surprised at how much of a trooper I ended up being during Graeme's acutely long labor. The pains of labor are at least productive and have a little being wrapped up in them...inflicted pain is entirely different, in my opinion! So I don't like the membrane-stripping :-( But if it works, it's totally worth it.

I spent the afternoon and evening preparing a double-batch of lasagna and two chicken pot pies for the freezer...I figured I might as well do some meal preparation, as most everything else is as ready as it's going to be.

Thanks to everyone who's reading who is praying and thinking about us. We appreciate it so much! :-)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My All-Natural Household Cabinet (Part 1)

Emily's post inspired me to create my own list and product review of the natural bath and home products that we use. I always find it interesting to read what other people use, so hopefully this helps someone :-) I run a Frontier cooperative through my yahoo group (see link on the left side) - it allows me to purchase many products I would not otherwise be able to afford...anyone is welcome to join the group! I won't be running another co-op until probably January, maybe December...depends on how adjusting to baby #2 is going. My friend, Bridget, runs them too - we alternate months.

Bi-O-Kleen Products (I purchase these on Drugstore.com b/c Frontier does not carry them. Once you purchase from Drugstore, you get credits for purchasing, and they often send incentives to get you to buy again, and with the free shipping, it turns out to be a good deal.

Bac-Out - Love this stuff! I use it for any elemental stain/odor issue, whether it be laundry or carpet or kitchen. Sprayed on poopy diapers, it helps neutralize odor and starts the cleaning process while they sit in the pail. Sprayed on Poco (our chihuahua's) stains on the carpet, it neutralizes the odor and effectively removes stains. I squirt a bit in an especially dirty load of laundry, such as in my kitchen towels (we use un-paper towels, so sometimes there's dried milk, food, etc. on the towels) or diapers.

Automatic Dish Powder
This is the *best* natural dishwasher powder! It smells fabulous, you only need to use 1T., and it works wonderfully.

Soy Cream Cleaner for Bathroom and Kitchen
I like this, too, though it's not as exciting as the other Bi-O-Kleen products I've used...If you like a cream cleanser, this one is great. I use it mainly for sinks and toilets. The smell is not as wonderful as the other Bi-O-Kleen products, which is probably why I'm not as excited about it LOL! But it works fine, so I'm not sure what else I should expect.

Dishwash Liquid, Lemon Thyme
Mmm, another yummy smelling Bi-O-Kleen product! I will say that it doesn't suds very much, which does not mean it's not cleaning - suds are a mental thing for us, really. So it's a little thing that I have to admit I miss when I use this. I also feel like I have to use more than I think I should, to feel like things are clean. I recently tried a "fresh and natural" dishwashing soap from the grocery store - I think Palmolive brand - and honestly, it does clean better than this product. So I'm not sure that I'd get it again. I'd probably recommend the Dr. Bronner's over this for dishwashing...but this one smells great ;-)

Oxy-Bleach Alternative
With GSE, this contains naturally deoderizing agents, and it works almost as good as bleach for whitening. I often soak any white shirts that have stains in the sink with a scoop of this. I add 2T to my diaper load every few loads, to freshen and whiten. Like all the Bi-O-Kleen products, it smells fabulous :)

Life Tree Fresh & Natural Bathroom Cleaner
Just got this a few weeks ago and I cannot rave about it enough! Made with Tea Tree Oil and Lavender Oil, it smells wonderful - as I clean my bathrooms, I am treated to a relaxing aromatherapy experience! With no harsh chemicals or smells to worry about, I feel fine if Graeme "helps" me clean the bathroom (which is an added bonus - he can start learning at a young age!). And it works! I was frankly quite surprised at how well it works. Now, I haven't tried it to remove mildew or anything, as we haven't had too much of a problem with that here, but as an all-purpose bathroom cleaner, this stuff is awesome. In the Frontier co-op, it was around $3.00, which is quite reasonable. I am planning on trying some of their other products.

Dr. Bronner's Liquid Soap
Another deal I buy from Frontier, Dr. Bronner's works for lots of things. I've used it as a dishwashing soap, mixed my own kitchen spray with it, mop floors...I like the new orange scent for the kitchen. I will say that the castille after-scent is a little strong for me - so when I used it as a spray, sometimes it would annoy my nostrils. So I actually don't reach for it a ton, compared to some of my other products - however, I know of a lot of people who "swear" by Dr. Bronner's.

Deep Steep Liquid Hand Soap
This is a recent area I decided to make a change in - I've just been using Dial liquid antibacterial hand soap for our sink soap. But, after recently reading on how the over-use of antibacterial products is adding to the increase in anti-bacterial-resistant strains of bacteria, I decided to try to "naturalize" this area of our household - since Deep Steep was on sale last month at Frontier, I decided to try it. I have three scents: Rosemary Mint (kitchen), Tangerine Melon (guest bath), Lavender Chamomile (kids bath). I like all three for where they are. The scents are exactly as described. The Tangerine Melon, however, is the most yummy smell - it got raves from my dinner guests last week! I think they were making excuses to use it LOL! Definitely a beautiful hand soap.
I will also comment that first, I transferred us to using bar soap at the sink - but it just makes such a mess. I was using it in the kitchen as well, but realized that it was not the best choice for washing up after handling raw meats - the bacteria will sit on the soap and multiply...so though I valiantly tried to do the bar soap thing, it just isn't my favorite.

Alrighty, this turned out to take a bit, and we need to get lunch, so this will be Part 1! I'll come back to post bath/body products. :-)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Early Christmas present - BRIO!






So our son is definitely all-boy. We found a Brio train table with a full set of tracks and lots of trains on Craigslist for $200! (Exactly like this one) Came with, I don't know, 50+ pieces of track; several buildings and stations and bridges and stuff; and maybe 25+ trains/vehicles! Considering some of the trains themselves are $50 and the stations and such are $20+ each, and all the track...we were SO excited to find it!

It's in great shape (the only catch is they GLUED the track together - it's like hot glue or something, so it comes apart fairly easily and is cleaning up fine - but I would have never imagined to GLUE the track together! That's the whole point, right? Creativity? Design?) It will be part of his Christmas present from us and I believe one of his grandparents wanted to contribute :-)

Graeme needed NO instruction. He sat by the car for the longest time, taking each train out of the bag, one by one, playing with it, making "choo-choo" sounds...he was completely focused and amazed! The timing of this is perfect, as he has just in the past few weeks started *really* "playing" with vehicles, legos, stuff like that - putting them together, making noises, scooting them around - spending lengthy amounts of time doing this. So this track is going to give him hours of play for many, many years to come - and his brother I'm sure will enjoy it too!

Quick baby update...

Saw the OB yesterday. She wanted to strip my membranes, which I declined - maybe next week (appt. is Thursday) if I haven't had baby by then. I don't want to risk my water breaking quite yet if my body isn't ready.

I'm 3cm dilated, 50% effaced and the baby's head is quite low...so, definitely ready to go! Baby's back is right in front still. She's still saying he's not huge yet, so that's good, though who knows, really.

I can tell you my hormones are saying they're ready - I'm struggling with being easily irritated and irrational (more than usual, that is ;-) I'll have contractions every once in a while, like this morning, kind of off-and-on all morning. Nothing serious though.

Mark's whole platoon is on "baby-alert" LOL! Even the commanding officer of Quantico is aware (I'm sure not holding his breath or anything, but the whole chain of command is aware...) They're taking up a collection for a baby gift. Mark doesn't know that many in his platoon right now, so I think that's awfully nice of them.

Please continue to pray that this little guy will make his appearance sooner rather than later; that we will have patience and wisdom with each decision we have to make during the process; that I will feel better soon (I've got a cold/achy bug of some sort just showed up today) to have strength for the labor; and my "dream/desire" is to have not necessarily the shortest labor or easiest (though those would be awesome!) but to have a SAFE, NATURAL delivery. I would love to not tear very much. I would love to only have to push an hour or two. I'd love to have the baby during the daytime so Graeme doesn't have the trauma of trying to go to sleep with a stranger (he's still nursing to bed, so this is going to be interesting...). And I, obviously, greatly desire to avoid a c-section this time :-) So minimal intervention is the key, as well as going into labor sooner - the later I go, the more they talk about wanting to do something (even though I haven't even hit the due date yet!)

Ok, that wasn't so short LOL! Hope to have a new one to share pics of VERY soon!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Verse for today

Proverbs 21:1 "The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will."

Kingdoms rise and fall according to God's providence. I'm thankful to be reminded this morning that all things are in Christ's control - the King of all kingdoms and Lord of all men!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Picking up sticks

My son's latest fascination: collecting sticks! The way Graeme says it is more like "tic". We got him out of the car from church (after he took a nap on the way home - hence the half-awake look) and he proceeded to walk around the yard (even though it was "coooooohhhhold") and collect as many sticks as he could cram into one hand.


And here's a video so you can hear some of Graeme's latest verbalizations :-D

video

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Birth Update...

I know, these aren't as fun as pictures, so I will try to get some pics of Graeme today to post :)

Went to the dr. yesterday. She wanted to strip my membranes, but I declined b/c there's a risk of breaking your water if they do that, and there's no reason to be doing that at 38 weeks!

She approved everything on my birth plan!!! I was totally surprised, and then relieved. What a blessing.

She told me that they may want to put in an internal fetal monitor if they can't get a good read with the external. Well, I'm doing some research on that today and found that it's a strap they SCREW into the baby's head. What?! So I'm probably going to talk to her about that next week (if I don't have the baby before then) and express my concern regarding that. I'd probably have to sign a consent form or something if I really pressed declining that one, but I'm not wild about screwing something into my baby's head.

They also got a slight positive on my GBS screen (the most common bacterial infection in newborns - something like 40% of mothers carry it naturally - it doesn't hurt us as adults). But my midwife called this morning and told me that I can request to have it done again, and there are alternative treatments to antibiotics. If you test positive, they will give you antibiotics in the hospital every 4 hours to pass in to the baby's system. I'm also not wild about that...so technically if I had a 12 hour labor, I'd get 3 doses of antibiotics! Yuck! It increases the baby's chances of thrush during the first few days of nursing, which would not be fun at all.

My midwife called this morning to tell me she received my post-operative report from Graeme's birth and she was extremely encouraging. She said they reported that I got to 8+cm dilated and 2+ station, which meant I was less than 1 inch from the baby's head coming out! So I've been through almost an entire labor, it was simply his positioning, full occiput posterior, that caused the c-section...and frankly, had I had a midwife who had some ideas about re-positioning, I probably could have avoided it. But, God had a reason for everything that happened, and I just continue to seek to learn from our experiences and apply that knowledge to this time around. Marilee said she thinks I will have a much easier, quicker labor this time, if this baby stays in a good position! Like she says, my body is completely capable of a wonderful birth, and we've done everything we can do this time to encourage optimal positioning.
As of right now, I can feel his bottom and back right in front of my belly, which is perfect :-)

At the visit yesterday, I'm 2cm dilated already - doesn't really mean much - like, it doesn't mean I'm going into labor tomorrow or anything...but good to know I've got a head start LOL!

Thanks so much to those of you that gave input on the birth plan. It helps a lot to hear from people who've birthed in a hospital - I didn't have to think through all that last time around, so I appreciate the input!

And can I say, my doula continues to be awesome! We've been e-mailing back and forth about all this stuff, and she isn't pushing anything, but offers lots of information and encouragement.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Birth Plan Rough Draft

I thought I'd share my rough-draft of our birth plan. Feel free to make suggestions. The parts under each section (During Labor, After Labor, etc) are bullet-ed in the document - I can't get that to happen in this post, so it's a little jumbled looking.

Birth Plan for: Amanda Marie Evans , due 11/10/08
My support people will be my husband, Lt. Mark D. Evans, and my doula, Sarah Winfrey, CD

I am pursuing a VBAC after an unplanned cesarean with my first child, now 19months old. I am aware of the risks associated with a VBAC, and have done all I can during this pregnancy to stay healthy, encourage optimal fetal positioning, and prepare for a natural birth. I will greatly appreciate the support and expertise of the staff to help me achieve a healthy, natural vaginal birth.

During Labor....
I prefer to have a heparin or saline lock.
I would like to use the wireless fetal monitor, if available.
I plan to not use medications, so please refrain from offering them. I am aware of my options and will ask for them if I change my mind.
I would like the atmosphere of the room to be as calm and quiet as possible. I would like dim lighting as much as possible, and would ask the staff to help keep the atmosphere relaxed.
Ultimately, I want to be able to walk around and move as I wish while in labor.
Please perform the minimal number of vaginal exams.

During Birth...
I would like as much freedom of positioning during birth as possible. I'd prefer pushing in a squatting or semi-upright position, including using a squat bar or being supported by my husband.
If possible, I'd appreciate warm compresses and/or perineal massage during birthing to avoid tearing, if the members of the staff are comfortable with doing that.
I would like to use spontaneous, self-directed pushing. Please refrain from counting or directing my breathing.
I prefer not to have a routine episiotomy, and would rather experience a natural tear if necessary.

After Birth...
I would like to bond with my baby immediately after delivery, unless medically indicated. Please delay eye drops and Vit. K shot until after the breastfeeding period.
My baby is to be exclusively breastfed – please don't offer him bottles, pacifiers or supplements.
We do not want our baby to be circumcised.
I would like continuous contact with my baby unless a medical situation arises that requires separation.
Please ask before administering any vaccinations.

In the event of an emergency cesarean...
Please allow my husband as much access to the baby as possible, since I will not be able to bond/breastfeed immediately afterwards.
As soon as it is medically possible, I'd like to have the opportunity to breastfeed and bond with the baby.
I'd prefer the minimal amount of sedative medication afterwards, in order to be able to breastfeed the baby.

Thank you for being a part of our birth. We respect and appreciate your assistance and experience.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Doula and covets...

I have a doula! Her name is Sarah and she was great to talk to on the phone. I felt a connection with her as we talked, and I think she is going to be just what I need. She's coming to the house to meet with us tomorrow morning and help me get a birth plan constructed. It's such a relief knowing I finally have someone who will be there with me and do all she can to help me achieve a natural birth. She just did a delivery at Dewitt (the hospital we'll be going to) and said they are very relaxed and flexible, which was GREAT to hear!

And now for some "covets"...mainly for my mother, who wanted to know what we need for the new baby. But also to share cool things that I'm currently drooling over LOL! It's fun to shop :-)

Diaper Bag! The ones we have for Graeme just barely fit all his paraphanlia - and it's funny that the older he gets, the more I find myself taking along somehow...books and shoes and cups and snack dishes and diapers...you get the picture. I love the look and size of this one (and she has some other cute bags in her shop)


The Learning Tower (this is something I'd like for Graeme, and I just think it is so cool!)


There are two kits you can purchase - a playhouse and an easel - that make it a really cool contraption.
I asked Mark if he could build it, and he said no - between the unique design and finding the perfect wood. One of Graeme's favorite things right now is "helping" in the kitchen - so there have actually been times where we both sit on the floor and mix pancakes or muffins or pudding...yes, on the floor LOL! I just can't hold him up to the counter while mixing something. But invariably, he wants to be "in" on the action! And he loves mixing (and licking the bowl LOL!)

Gypsy Mama Bali Baby Breeze

I used a Moby wrap with Graeme, and liked it - but it stretched out a lot once he hit about 15-18 lbs. which made it uncomfortable for both of us. It's also a rather thick fabric, and when I tried wearing it in the winter, I got so warm! So I've done a lot of research and found a wrap that is a hybrid between stretchy wraps, like the Moby, and stiffer wraps. This particular wrap is light-weight and beautiful. And with a toddler desiring my attention, I will be wanting to wear the baby a good deal more than I did with Graeme.

I've actually been wearing Graeme in this Maya sling that I purchased used.

I love the ring sling! I can't believe I didn't try it sooner. It's perfect during pregnancy, because I can adjust the tension and height of where Graeme sits...I have used a pouch like this, but it's not adjustable, so it doesn't fall in the right place for us.

Okay, Graeme is waking up from his nap, so that's all I have time to share right now!

Friday, October 17, 2008

It's a....

...BOY!!! Woo-hoo! We're excited to be welcoming another "man-child" as Mark says into the family. If you have any great Welsh/Irish names, please do share :-)

Stats: the baby was only weighing (according to their estimate, which can be +/- 1lb) 5lb 10oz...so someone tell me what else is in there LOL! Baby looks good and placenta is in an ok place for a VBAC, so that's good news.

[P.S. Sorry to say that our printer doesn't work with our home-computer...I'll have to wait until Mark is home long enough this weekend to scan some of the sonogram pics in - they got some cute ones!]

Update: We've actually decided to pursue a natural birth at the hospital. There are several reasons for our decision, but the main ones are: 1) they will support a VBAC; 2) if we were to birth at home and have an emergency, the closest hospital is 15 min. away *without traffic*...but in the D.C. area, traffic can be completely unpredictable, and the trip could take as much as 45 min. potentially...and that could mean our baby's death - yes, the risk for uterine rupture during a VBAC is 1% (and studies show for a home-VBAC, 0.1%) - BUT, if it *were* to happen, both Mark and I agreed we'd never be able to justify it to ourselves; 3) the greatest risk during a rupture is to the baby, not as much to the mother (or at least, not as time-crucial)...which I did not realize until a few weeks ago.

So...we are praying that the Lord will provide a wonderful doula to help support me during the birth. I've been calling/e-mailing for the last week and a half and am somewhat frustrated because everyone that's been recommended to me is unavailable at such short notice - they can only take a certain # of clients within a time-frame - so I have to keep reminding myself that God can and will provide the right person. I will be writing a birth plan and making decisions about what I want to do/not to do at the hospital...and packing a hospital bag...and packing a bag for Graeme...all in the next week or so!

Update on Mark: he starts TBS (The Basic School - Marine advanced infantry training for officers) this Wednesday! ACK! For the first week and a half, he'll have a full, time-consuming schedule - mostly sitting around doing paper work and having meetings and such, but they will not be allowed to leave during the day - so he'll probably be there from 6am - 7/8pm. So it would probably be good for baby to hold off until after that period, when his schedule will normalize for the most part (minus the occasional all-night amphibious landing and stuff like that).

Whew! Hopefully that catches everyone up :-) Lots going on here, it's never dull!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Menu Plan Monday



(P.S. - I am going to post what baby #2 is, I just have one more phone call to make b/c I want to tell my grandparents personally and don't want them to see it on my blog!)

I actually have all my dinners planned for this week, so I thought I'd share! :) Next up, I'd like to start a "Toddler Meal Tuesday" or something...Graeme eats much better when I plan his meals for the day.

I'll start with last night's dinner b/c that affects the rest of the meals.

Sunday: Ham, mashed potatoes, green beans,Apple pie with homemade pie crust
(check out these recipes - they made the best apple pie I've had in a long time - Mark said it was *really* good, and he doesn't typically get super-excited about food LOL! I used the following alterations for the pie filling: 2T. flour/1 T cornstarch instead of 3T flour, baked at 350 for 50 min. perfect!, added cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves to the sauce, put 2/3 of the sauce over the apples first than the rest over the crust - and next time, I will bake the bottom crust for 10 min. first)

Monday: Portugese Sausage and Kale Soup (I've made this Rachel Ray recipe before, and I highly suggest it as a "staple". I just use regular italian sausage)

Tuesday: Chinese Sweet n Sour Chicken (one of my fav. techniques to make from "How to Cook without a Book"...I can almost cook it w/out the book LOL!)

Wednesday: Leftovers

Thursday: Mom's Bean Soup (great northern beans, leftover ham, carrots/celery/onion, molasses - easy recipe and great to freeze...will freeze 2 batches for when baby arrives) with cornbread and salad

Friday: Breakfast (prob. french toast from homemade wheat bread, omelet or frittata - another technique from How to Cook W/out a Book - and smoothies)

Saturday: Leftovers

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Riding Daddy's motorcycle

Graeme loves sitting on Daddy's motorcycle with him. He's a little scared whenever Mark starts it up...but I think it's all a pretense and if he could, he'd put the key in and take off LOL! I don't know who is enjoying it more (Mark, probably - this is a dream come true!)




And Graeme loves his "cart" - better get out of his way when he's pushing this thing - he goes insanely fast!

Kiddie ice cream cone...

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Cleaning my washer

A friend on AMH posted this link with directions on cleaning your washing machine out. We have had increasingly stinky dipes since moving - like a strong ammonia smell, not just pee-stink. Thought it might be the water, so I've been experimenting with different washing routines, but nothing has helped remove it, and it's getting worse. Graeme woke up with a blister from his diaper this morning :-( So momma decided something drastic needs to happen. I broke down and got some bleach today at the grocery - after cleaning the washer, I am going to run a capful of bleach with all of our diapers - might even do 2 loads so the washer isn't too full - and see what happens. I'm glad the commissary has sposies for $5/40!!! It's funny, but I don't like using them (besides the obvious "green" reasons) b/c Graeme doesn't have hips or a bum, so when he wears sposies, all his pants fall off LOL! He doesn't get that from me, I can tell you ;-)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Six of my quirks (thankfully, only six)

Ivy tagged me to share 6 of my unspectacular quirks. Wish my husband was here, because he'd have no trouble helping me with this one, I'm sure. Neither would my sister or mother LOL!

So here are the tag rules
Link to the person who tagged you
Post the rules on your blog
List 6 unspectacular quirks you have
Tag 6 bloggers by linking them
Leave a comment on each taggee's blog to let them know they've been tagged.
What is a "quirk", anyway? (from Wikipedia)
A quirk is an odd habit. Most dictionaries list this word's origin as "unknown". However, as the surname arises from the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea, and because the island is somewhat notorious for idiosyncratic behaviors, we may find the word's origins there.Manx surnames have fluctuated in their pronunciations and, hence, their spellings. Prior to the twentieth century, the most common variant for this "phylum" was Quark.
Amanda's Un-fabulous Quirks (some of these are more like confessions):

1. I've developed a preference for iced coffee in the morning. So I brew the coffee, put 1/2 cup milk in it, fill the mug the rest of the way with ice, and that's how I like it. I don't like it hot very much - only if I get a coffee out do I like it hot (like at Starbucks - I tried their pumpkin spice coffee last week - Graeme and I treated ourselves (he got some new little cars and IFabulous got a coffee) - it was YUMMY!)

2. I'm a book-starter with a passion. I love starting new books - inspirational, life-changing, desparately needed fabulous ideas....and then the book resigns itself to a nice place on my shelf. :-(
I will say that I tend to actually read through books that tell me "how to", cookbooks, and parenting books for some reason.

3. I am "prone to clutter as the sparks to fly upward". It is one of my great aspirations in life to reform. And I am working on it every day.

4. I don't just *love* to listen to classical music. I'm rather appalled to admit that, but it's true. I do have moods where I want to listen to something specific, and there are CDs that have collections of great classical pieces that I enjoy listening to from time to time - but I am by no means an avid classical music enthusiast. And I honestly just do not enjoy listening to classical piano music. I can't enjoy it.

5. I need to brush my teeth before I take my shower.

6. I prefer only ketchup on hotdogs and hamburgers, and chicken fingers. My husband think that is a very strange habit. I can eat them with mustard or mayonnaise or sauce, but I just like ketchup best.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

34 week belly pic


Here it is, finally :) Me in all my baby glory! No, we don't know if we're having twins...that's the most common question I get. (Definitely on the top 10 - "Things not to say to a pregnant woman") And then one of my sweet boy - still my baby for now :-)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Just a funny...


I bought a big tote full of over 100 Mega Blocks today at a consignment sale
We were out washing them and Graeme decided to climb in the tote with the blocks and take a bath, too. It was great fun! One of our scores was a Little Tykes firetruck, which he loved...firetrucks are his latest fascination.

I'll post pics of everything I got tomorrow, along with a belly pic, I promise!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Brownie recipe (with carrot and spinach!!!!)

I had to make these to believe it - there is a total of 1 cup of spinach and carrot puree in this recipe, and you can't taste it! I made a simple cocoa frosting to put on top, which only added to the scrumptuous-ness. Hey, if you're gonna make brownies, might as well have some veggies in them, right?!

To make the purees:
  • Carrot: steam carrots until soft. Puree in a blender or food processor until smooth and creamy. Add water if needed. Can freeze in 1/2 cup portions - and this is an easy add-to-pancakes or french toast for an extra boost of nutrition.
  • Spinach: steam spinach until wilted, only about 1-2minutes. Puree in blender/food processor until smooth and creamy. I like adding this to scrambled eggs or things like meatloaf or meatballs.
(from Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld)

Ingredients:
  • 3 oz. semisweet chocolate
  • 1/2 cup carrot puree
  • 1/2 cup spinach puree
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 T butter or margarine
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 3/4 cup oat flour, or all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat an 8x8 baking pan with cooking spray (or I used my Pampered Chef medium stonewear pan)
  2. Melt the chocolate in a double broiler or over a very low flame (I put a small pyrex glass dish over simmering water in my saucepan on the stove - it works perfect)
  3. In a large bowl, combine the melted chocolate, purees, sugar, cocoa, butter and vanilla and whisk until smooth and creamy, 1 to 2 minutes.
  4. Whisk in egg whites. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt with a wooden spoon
  5. Pour the batter into the pan and bake 35-40 minutes (don't over-cook!). Cool completely in the pan before cutting into 12 bars. *It's important to let them cool before eating, it's not until they're completely cool that the spinach flavor totally disappears*.
Enjoy! You really need to give it a try :)

Midwife Visit yesterday

The midwife came again yesterday - she'll come once more in 2 weeks, then every week after that until the baby is born. Marilee is her name, and her assistant is Wendy. I like both of them a lot - their personalities mesh well with mine, which is wonderful! And I just love that she comes to my house. She does that b/c she likes to get to know her clients in their own environment, so that they feel really comfortable with her being there for the delivery. After yesterdays visit, I am genuinely excited about a home birth again - I have days that I'm worried about it being like last time, and I have better days - it was an encouraging visit, which I needed! :-)

Here's what we covered yesterday:
  • I'm going to start taking Evening Primrose Oil (500 mg/3x daily) - it works to soften the cervix, and adds stretchiness to all the tissues of the uterus, which is esp. important for VBAC mommas, to aid in stretching out the scar tissue areas and keep them pliable for the labor.
  • Asked her about uterine rupture - a very, very slim risk for VBACs, but a serious one. I obviously feel comfortable enough with the risk to have a home birth, but sometimes it has bothered me - just having that possibility, though extremely slim, is in the back of my mind. Her response helped a lot - she explained there are warning signs they are diligently watching for during a VBAC labor: the baby's heart rate being a key one, as well as whether the uterus is soft between contractions. If there is *any* indication that there even might be a rupture, they will rush me to the nearest emergency room, no questions asked, and call ahead for them to be ready to do an emergency c-section. They also carry all the equipment for stopping severe bleeding that they would have in a labor/delivery room - I don't know what it's called...that was good to know. VBACs can sometimes bleed more post-delivery, so she has VBAC mommas start a regimine of extra iron supplements at about 36 weeks, to boost the hemoglobin levels to decrease any need to go to the hospital post-partum for loss of blood. What comforted me the most was how thoroughly she answered my questions, and how calm and yet confident she was about how to handle it all, were anything to happen.
  • I need to get a belly band to support my belly. I carry low and all up-front, which some mommas just do, and it can actually contribute to the baby having difficulty descending through the pelvis - since the baby's head ends up sitting forward of the pelvic bone, instead of above it. Why didn't anyone say something about that LAST time???!! Duh!
  • Everything looks good! Baby is ROA right now (right occiput anterior - that's pretty good :) Graeme was OP (posterior) and that's what we want to avoid.
  • Marilee *does* want me to get an ultrasound - I asked her if, at this point, she still wants me to pursue getting one - b/c she likes VBAC mommas to get one to confirm that the placenta is not located over the c-section scar. So, we should find out what this baby is, if I can get one scheduled in time LOL! (On the other hand, no complaints if baby gets here early ;)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

You can teach an old dog....




...new tricks! Remember awhile back when I tried the Fly Lady clean sink thing? Honestly, it didn't last for very long, and I got bogged down in self-pity and discouragement (like usually happens when I don't get something right the first time - perfectionist, ugh!) - however, I determined to do what I could. Okay, maybe having an empty, shiny sink every single day was a little much. While Mark was gone for 10 weeks, I determined to never leave the kitchen a mess. I'm almost embarrassed to say that LOL - but yes, before this, I could leave the kitchen a mess and it wouldn't bother me...until I went into it again to do something else.

I realized tonight that I am officially in-the-habit of cleaning up my kitchen before moving on!!!! There is hope! I can change! It crept up on me, and all of a sudden, I just realized it.

So, for those of you reading this who might need encouragement or feel embarrassed about a habit you wish you could master, I have these words to say to you: it can happen. Like the Little Blue Engine, remember: "I think I can, I think I can...." :-) Just keep chugging!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Busch Gardens

We went to Busch Gardens a few weeks ago with Uncle Brian, Aunt Alyssa and Andrew. It was fun! Graeme got to ride a few kiddo rides, including the carousel, which just fascinates him. It rained for a few hours towards the end of our visit, but we stuck it out until it got really bad LOL! So, without further ado, the pictures:





Yellow-wo-wo-wo


Graeme's new favorite word (and fav. color!): Yellow! Though, he says it more like "Yellow-wo-wo-wo". It became his favorite when we went to Johnny Rocket's two weeks ago, and he got a yellow balloon. He and the balloon were inseparable for two days. And it's still alive! He still loves his balloon. One day he took a nap with it...that's how much he "wuv'd" it :-)