9 months of grae


Oh Grae Goldie locks…
Nine months is an age I look forward to EVERY TIME.
It is so much fun and it never fails to disappoint.
It’s where the personality far outgrows what can be contained in the small body.
Grae says: mama, dada, buh-bye, papa, MmmmMmmm, boo and a couple other wanna-be mimics if she’s in the right mood.
She waves, gives fives, plays peek-a-boo with her blanket.
At her 9 month check-up, she weighed 14 lbs 1 oz and is officially in the 0%.  When the doctor came in I said “I don’t know what you want me to do, because she doesn’t take a bottle, so I can’t supplement with anything and she will hardly tolerate solids, just barely.”  He laughed and said I’m doing all I can do.  She’s happy and healthy and that means it’s only calories she’s burning off faster than piling on.  She is just a petite little thing.  (She’s wearing a 1-2 month dress (as a shirt) in the pictures above.)
Her heart is also sounding the same.  We go back in the spring to the primary’s specialist to have a listen and see where to go from there.  Not a lot of news about that, but I’m still feeling okay about it.
The good news is that she finally eats solids on the reg.  Crackers, blueberries, bananas, avocado are the top of her list.
She’s had a major bout with constipation this month which means we’ve had to start giving her apple juice every few days.
I am a sugar-phobic when it comes to my babies, but apple juice does the trick to keep those bowls a-movin’, so I have to get over myself.
She also takes acidopholus like a champ!  Loves the plain flavor and always begs for more.
She had the flu over new years and it was awful! Brady, Grae and myself all had it, but poor Grae seemed to have it the longest.  Vomiting and water diarrhea for over a week.  She’d seem to get better one day, and then diarrhea would resume the next.  Luckily, she threw up only a day or two and then drank pedialite really well and never got dehydrated, which is what makes the flu so scary for babes.  It was a LOOOOONG two weeks with us being sick, but we’re alive and well to day and feel blessed that it skipped over the big girls.
She says “Mmmmm!” when she eats anything.
She’ll try to mimic me when I hum a little tune. (heart melter!)
She has 3 teeth on top, two teeth on bottom and basically feels like nursing a baby shark.
She doesn’t bite down in on big clamp.. she nibbles and chews as she eats and it’s soooo hard.  I’m not sure she even realizes what she’s doing, which makes it hard to stop.  If I gasps or yelp in pain, it hurts her feelings and she just melts right into a puddle.
Last week she broke the skin. (ooooowie!) Any any any tips on this would be great.
So far, I have been just ending the nursing session when she starts to nibble.  One week she’ll do great, the next week I’m being bit at every feeding. Oh mercy!
The big girls tote her around everywhere making other people nervous every minute, but I think it’s so dang cute seeing them do it and they have yet to drop her, so I’m chalking it up to sibling bonding.
The best thing is as the girls are awkwardly hanging on to her for dear life, she is content as can be.  Completely unphased that her life is being risked. ha!
She calls “mama!” out all day long.  “What?” I say, “mama!” she says, “what?” I say.. on and on all day.
When daddy gets home she always hears the door and says “Hi Dada!”.  It’s basically what dreams are made of, I tell you.
Every time she gets excited she starts bouncing wherever she is.
Throughout the day when I’m holding her she’ll put her mouth to my chest and bounce as she bonks her face on my skin saying “Mmm-Mmm-Mmm”.
When she gets tired she finds my skin on my chest and lays her head down on it.  If I’m not wearing a v-neck, she’ll pull my shirt down to allow enough skin for her to lay her head.
She is also finally napping on a schedule (of sorts).  She’s up at 7:30 everyday and 10:00 is the magical time where she is always ready for a nap.
I rock her and nurse her and before she’s out, I lay her in her crib and she rolls right onto her tummy and doesn’t make a peep.  She usually sleeps for 1 – 1.5 hours and then goes back down between 2 and 3 for another short little cat nap.  Then she’s ready for bed by 7.
A few weeks ago, after weeks on weeks on weeks of almost no sleep for the both of us, in a zombie-like phase I got desperate enough to lay her down in her crib and walk away.  I knew she was unbelievably tired but would not give in and would wake every time I put her down in her crib.  We were both at our wit’s end.  I left the room and let her cry for a couple minutes to regain my patience and start over again.  To my amazement, after a few minutes she just rolled over and went to sleep.  So the next day, I laid her down for her nap in her crib and walked out.  Fussed just as I left the room, then rolled over and went out.  That night, she didn’t even fuss, just rolled right over when I put her down and has been sleeping like a dream ever since.  No one is more shocked than me about this.
I had a horrible experience with “sleep training” my first baby, then refused to do it my second-round, but never needed to because Stella slept through the night at 2 months old and loved her bed.  Grae has been a completely different set of sleeping issues and it turns out, that letting her fuss that one single night has made all the difference in the world.
I love finding the thing that works, and for me, it’s been different every single baby.  Such a lesson in judging others for their choices.  I have been forced to make different decisions every time.
I will say that since Grae has been sleeping in her own bed 1/2 (or so) of the night and napping, I feel like a totally renewed woman.
I have had little bouts of depression sprinkled into this post partum time, so getting a decent amount of sleep/down time during the day has helped immensely.
Quick bit on nursing..
Now that Grae is eating more solids, I can feel my milk isn’t as full.  This happens to me each time the solids start and I’ve been lucky that Grae hasn’t wanted solids as much and to be able to have made it until now with little to no nursing issues.  I have been taking fenugreek and blessed thistle in this transitioning time, but have this week really focused on offering her milk before solids.  This rounding the corner from full-blown milk-a-thon all the time, to dwindling to naps and bedtime nursing is always hard on my mama heart.  I feel the end coming, but I have to allow this journey to turn however it may.  Grae has been nursing a lot this week and I feel like we’re not quite to the end yet and that has eased me.  I think It’s been more on my mind this time as well because we’re almost to the age Stella quit nursing so this will be my longest go with it.  I’m not sure I’ve been more grateful for anything as I have been for such a great nursing experience with Grae this time around.  We have had such a great attachment through nursing, I have had a wonderful supply – my best yet.  I haven’t had to supplement and have felt so good about exclusively nursing from the source (due to her refusal of bottles).  I haven’t had this experience before and it’s been a great one that I’ll hold close to my heart.  Nursing is far from easy, so making it through to this round feels like a great accomplishment.  More though, just something I’m grateful to have had with Grae.  It’s been what I needed this time.  I know that.
And speaking of big girl milestones, this lady is on the move! She has been army crawling for a bit, but just in this last week or two has really taken off where she can get to point A to point B with ease.  The last few days she has done a belly-off-the-ground crawl.
I think it’s safe to say, she’s mobile.
Of course, she only crawls in the 5 minutes or so a day she allows me to put her down.
She’s a mama’s girl, that’s for dang sure.  She’s definitely gotten friendlier with other people, but there’s still no other person in the world she’d rather be with than me.
And what a coincidence, because the feeling is mutual.
I love this baby madly.  With the very depth of my soul.
Life is good with our Grae Babe around.


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welcoming stella


This week on the blog I am recounting my birth stories for my own documentation purposes.  Normal posting to resume next week! :)

Because I had delivered early with Harlo, I thought for sure Stella would come early as well. By 38 weeks I was as good as ready to deliver.  The fridge had been stocked, the floors had been mopped, the home birth stuff was organized and ready to grab.  I was so anxious to have a home birth after months and months of reading and planning it after I had delivered Harlo in the hospital.  I had learned so much about what had gone wrong, what could have been different, what my options were.  I felt so empowered to be taking control of my experience, even if that meant stepping outside of my comfort zone.  I didn’t know a single person who had delivered naturally or at home, except my midwife, so I leaned a lot on books and my bradley classes to get prepared.  I had started preparing months before I even got pregnant so to be at the end of my pregnancy just had me so excited to finally get to experience what I had been studying over the last year and a half.  I had really thrown myself to a natural approach to parenting after Harlo was born and I felt such a purpose in this lifestyle.
By the time 39 weeks rolled around, I already felt overdue.  By 40 weeks I was as miserable as a beached whale.  The one part of my “plan” I had overlooked was the possibility that I would go overdue.  But like many other aspects of birth and motherhood, God knew exactly what my soul needed to experience, and going overdue was definitely one of those things.  In those weeks I had been waiting to deliver, I learned more about patience and faith than I had in my entire life leading up this day.  I tried every single old wives tale and tactic to naturally get labor going, all to no avail.  That Monday, I decided to give up completely.  I surrendered to God’s plan, rather than push my own.  I threw my hands in the air, made peace with the fact that I may indeed be pregnant forever, put on some lipstick and had my husband take me out on a date.  It was a good night.
I slept well enough that night, and was excited to be waking up at 9:00.  Harlo had slept in.  I went to her crib to get her for breakfast and as I was bringing her to my (used to be) hip, I felt a little pop along with some leakage.  At 40+ weeks, I knew for certain it could very well be myself peeing my pants, and it could also be my water breaking, so I waited for a minute.  I sat on a white towel and waited for more to leak out.  It did, and clear as day, I decided it was my water.  HALLELUJAH!!!!!! My water had broken.  I was FINALLY going to have this baby.  I called Brady who had barely made it to work and told him to come right back home.  I mosied on, fed Harlo breakfast and then got in the shower, shaved my legs, washed my hair, exfoliated.. all that stuff that makes a girl feel extra fancy. Brady got home in time to see me doing the finishing touches on my toenails (which I’m sure was a sight) and I was happy as a clam.  I had called Janae to let her know I’d be missing my weekly midwives appointment today and she said she would free her schedule and to let her know when I wanted her to head over.  She told me it was fine if my contractions didn’t start right away, and to just enjoy my day until they did.  So, I took that advice, put on my favorite dress (that still fit) and took my family out to lunch.  We met my sisters and mom at Durangos, ate a delicious lunch while everyone nervously exchanged glances and kept staring at me.  This was a first for all of us experiencing a home birth and the nagging feeling like I should be heading to the hospital, I’m sure, was consuming everyone.  After lunch, I still was having very little contractions and leaking a little enough water that a pad was doing the job, so we decided to head to Target.  I bought Harlo a baby doll that she could enjoy when my baby doll was born.  It was a beautiful summer day, and I was going to have a baby!  Life seemed perfect.
We got home around 1:30, just in time to put Harlo down for a nap.  My contractions still weren’t getting regular so I decided I would snag a nap while my 18 month old slept.  I rocked her and had a sweet moment of gratitude as I knew it might be the last time I rocked her slumped over this big belly of mine.  Stella wiggled inside my body, uncomfortable to be squished by her big sister.  I looked so forward to watching their sisterhood begin.  I laid Harlo down and headed to my own bed around 2:00.  I sat down just as a nice, tight contractions wrapped around my belly to my back.  I smiled, it’s what I had been waiting for.  I laid down, but a couple minutes later another one hugged me, and 2 minutes after that, another.  I called Brady in and asked him to start timing.  I got out my birth ball and leaned over it on the stronger ones.  They were coming even and strong.  I was so ready, I felt excitement flood over my whole body.  We called Janae around 3, and told her to not rush, but maybe start fixing to head this way.  I texted Trisha, our doula, the same thing.  By 3:15 though, things took a turn for the intense and I called Janae back and told her to maybe head over sooner rather than later.  She was already on her way.  At 3:30, Trisha and Janae both arrived and I was in full labor.  I was in a wonderful birth zone, completely unphased by anything that was going on around me.  I wasn’t talking or carrying on anymore, I was completely consumed by my body’s efforts to bring my baby into this world.  I kneeled and slumped over my birth ball while Brady put pressure on my tail bone.  Each contraction had a magnificent power to it.  My body felt so strong and powerful.  Between each contraction, the most amazing peace poured over my body.  Chills crawled up my spine in euphoria, and then another powerful wave would crash over me.  It was a wonderful rhythm and I felt each wave bringing my baby closer to me.
My body started to feel heavy and I wanted to lay down, but as soon as I shifted my weigh to lay, I felt uncomfortable.  Brady sat against my bed as I rested my body on to his.  On my contractions he would push me foward so I could curl around my belly, and in between I laid my head back on his shoulder and almost slept during the peace.  After some time, I felt like I needed to go pee.  “Just know, when you empty your bladder, that will bring your baby down and it will probably get a bit more intense.” Janae warned.  I nodded and headed to the bathroom.  Just after emptying my bladder, a big wave came crashing over me and I felt Stella slide a little deeper into my pelvis.  Brady rushed to my side and I leaned onto his strong back for support.  I got off the toilet and a nice warm bath was all ready for me.  I didn’t ever remember them running the water, but it was totally full and looked so inviting.  I slipped off my shorts and stepped in to the perfectly hot water.  I quickly thought back to a time not so long ago that I had got into the tub while laboring.  It was my favorite moment of labor with Harlo and the nostalgia brought back such sweet memories.  I sat in and felt the water devour me in comfort.  I felt cushioned and light everywhere.  Brady poured hot water over my neck and the water leached into my tank top in a wonderful sensation.  I had a strong contraction, I felt an amazing power inside push my baby down even farther.  I could tell exactly where she was in my body.  The contractions eased up and I felt Stella wiggle and readjust into her own little comfort.  We’re doing this, Stella.  You and me. I thought.  Another powerful contractions consumed me again and this time, the intensity made me nauseous.  Just like she knew it was coming, Janae handed me a bowl.  “It’s not fun to throw up, but doing so will help your push your baby down.”  As I heaved into the bowl, kneeling in my bathtub, I felt my body push Stella even further.  She passed through my hips and settled right into my pelvis.  Another contraction came and the intensity had me yelp and panic.  “You’re doing great, Cass.  If it feels better, you can try a quick 2 second push.” Janae coached and like she knew exactly what was going on in my body, that 2 second push was just the medicine I needed.  Then I pushed for another 2 seconds and because it numbed the discomfort, I wanted to push again.  Suddenly I felt extremely hot and had to get out of the tub.  Right. Now.
In what seemed like one swift movement, I leapt out of the tub and kneeled next to my birth ball again with a towel draped over my back and hips.  Just as the thought came across my mind that I couldn’t do it anymore, I felt this incredible weight on my pelvis.  Like someone had set a stack of text books right onto me.  “She’s coming!” I blurted.  “Let’s check ya,” Janae suggested.  She hadn’t checked me since she’d been there.  I had no idea how long she had been there, either.  Time seemed to slip into a completely different universe.
I laid back onto a comfortable area of pillows and blankets that had been set up on my bedroom floor sometime that I hadn’t noticed.  I leaned back and before she even had to check me, she said “Oh yep, there’s her head.  Go ahead and do what you need to do.”  I reached down as I let my body push as much as it wanted and felt the top of her head.  I can’t quite explain it, but I felt absolutely nothing after this.  The pressure of the push and Stella’s body completely numbed any discomfort I was having.  Time stood still as the heavens opened up.  I felt angels all around me.  Brady snuggled close to my side whispering encouraging words.  I was deep in my birth zone working with Stella on what we both needed to do.  I wanted her here in my arms so badly, but I somehow knew that my body needed a little time so I refrained from pushing as hard as I could.  I felt Stella wiggle herself as her shoulders came closer to earth side.  I just merely held her down as I grunted questions to Janae on how I was doing.  “You’re doing it.” she said with a smile.  The top of Stella’s head came out, then her eyes, then her face. “Okay, let that shoulder drop,” Janae said and then she said the words I had waited my entire life to hear “Okay, Cassidy.  Reach down and grab your baby.”  I wrapped my two hands around her shoulders and in the most euphoric sensation, pulled her body out of mine and laid her delicious weight onto my chest.  I felt as if I had taken her right from God’s arms.
“Stella!” I squealed “Stella you’re here! I did it! I did it!” “Oh my Stella! My Stella!!!” I exclaimed as Brady wept into my shoulder.  She was here.  My Stella was here! She was bright eyed as she stared into my face like she had been searching everywhere for me and now she had found me.  My soul felt the exact same way.
Stella was born at 5:26pm, just 3 hours after my contractions started.  I couldn’t believe how little time had gone by.  Harlo, who had been picked up by Auntie sometime during my labor came in just minutes after Stella was born, and was able to meet her while she was still attached to the cord.  She loved her purely and instantly and it was magic for my soul to see.  Stella, who had come out of the womb rooting for food was happily latched right away, just vivacious and full of life as ever.  It was so wonderful to see my baby so alert and receptive right after delivery.  I too felt just wonderful, like I hadn’t delivered a baby at all.
Later that night, I stood strong holding my baby in my bedroom, the baby I had delivered right in this very room just a couple of hours before.  I opened the door and felt the warm, damp summer air fill my room.  A monsoon had passed by our little piece of the desert and the smell of a fresh summer rain consumed me.  I had done it.  I had seen the very capabilities of what my body could do and I was overwhelmed at the instant confidence and respect I had for myself.
Our Stella was here and everything seemed just right in the world.
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welcoming harlo

This week, for my own documentation purposes, I am recounting my births on the blog.  If this is your cup of tea, stick around!  If births aren’t your thing.. normal posting to resume next week. :)

I haven’t ever written a detailed birth story for Harlo.  Her birth was mixed with such a rhythm of highs and lows.   I’ve never known how I could write about it, even though there is some negative  aspects and still get the point across of just how perfectly imperfect it was to my soul.  That being said, this is the story of how my little warrior of a  spirit, Harlo, made her way into this world….

A cold, wintery day in December, I had just finished my doctors appointment.  I was dilated to a 3, which was exciting news to us first-time parents.  I kissed my new husband goodbye and headed home to the house we had moved to just two weeks before.  I was due in only a couple weeks now and there was still a lot to put away and get settled before the new baby would arrive.  The day strolled on and I had noticed some tightening in my belly.  I’d had braxton hicks contractions and these felt similar, but definitely bigger… I was sure “real” contractions were supposed to hurt, so I didn’t think this was anything to worry about.  I unpacked the rest of the boxes in the baby’s room, and folded a load of her sweet, brand new, teensy tinsy clothes and wondered seriously how an actual baby would soon be living in our house, wearing these clothes, nursing from my body.  It just seemed so surreal.

After a few hours of the tightening in my belly, I began to time them.  To my surprise, they were coming every 2 or 3 minutes, like clock-work.  I called a sister and a handful of friends to ask if they thought I might be having contractions. I didn’t want to alarm anyone and be the cliche first-timer who thought she was in labor weeks before she was actually due.  I decided to put off calling Brady to come home early from work and see how the night dragged on.  By the time he walked in the door, I was almost sure this was something to be noted. “Don’t freak out,” I said, “But I think I’ve been having contractions…” Brady stared at me in a panic, “since when?” he asked “Um… since about 1:00pm?” It was now 6:30.  We both had no clue what to do, but I decided I would get in a warm bath to see if that settled things down.  If it didn’t, we’d head to the hospital, we both agreed.

Brady made me a delicious dinner of tuna helper (go easy on us, we were very newly-wed!) and brought it to me in the tub.  He sat on the floor and ate beside me where I balanced my plate on my big, round belly.  I could feel her moving around like crazy, and she nearly knocked my dinner right into the tub.  It was so relaxing spending that time in the tub.  I loved chatting with Brady while he sat on the floor next to me, letting our imaginations run wild of the adventure to come.  As I sat in the tub, the snow began to fall.  We live in the desert where snow is a special treat and we laughed about how fun it would be if our baby was born in a real live snow storm!  I got out of the tub to put some sweats on and pack a few things in case we went to the hospital.  The contractions were still coming, but they weren’t painful yet at all.  I wasn’t sure what to do.  As I packed, I realized there were a few items I hadn’t purchased yet, but would need if the baby did in fact come.  We were still a couple weeks away from my due date and I had assumed I would have more time.

Around 9, left the house to go to Target.   The news reported a huge storm, the biggest we’d seen in years maybe.  Brady was growing concerned about the icy roads and we decided that we better make our way to the hospital sooner than later.  We stopped at Target on the way to grab a robe, some nursing bras and some snacks for Brady.  We had no idea what to expect, but the printed list of “what to pack when you’re expecting” felt like it was helping.  During our stroll through Target we bumped into an old school friend.  She asked me when I was due, “Well.. I don’t know for sure, but I think I might be in labor right now.” I said.  Her eyes tripled in size and she urged me to get to the hospital!  After that, I had a few contractions that made me feel like leaning over the cart.  We decided it was probably time to pick up our pace.

We checked in to the hospital and since I was still more than 2 weeks from our due date, they took me to a small room to be checked and monitored.  I was dilated to a 5 now and having regular tightening that they assured me were in fact, contractions.  After the hour of monitoring was over, I had progressed almost to a 6 and that meant they would be keeping me.  I was going to have this baby, tonight.

I slipped into my hospital gown at about midnight, my jaw trembled with nerves.  We didn’t know when we should call our family, but knowing that everyone was probably in bed by now and it was still so early to know, seemed like we should wait until anything more exciting happened.  We got checked into our room, signed a slew of paper work and got my IV’s hooked up.  “I”m going to start pitocin to help speed things along,” the nurse said.  This was something I hadn’t ever talked to my doctor about and had only read about pitocin briefly in one of my birth books. “Um… Do I have to have pitocin?  I didn’t really want to be induced.” I said, sheepishly.  The nurse had herself a little chuckle “If we don’t give you pitocin, you’ll be in labor FOREVER!” she warned, “This IS your first baby.” “I know, but… I was dilated to a 3 earlier today and now I’m at almost a 6, so isn’t that pretty good?” I urged.  “Being a 6 doesn’t mean much.  Some people stay at a 6 for days!  Let’s get this pitocin started and if you don’t like it for any reason, we can always take it out later.”  That seemed like a fair request, and she clearly wasn’t giving up.  If a nurse was recommending it to me, I assured myself that it was fine.  “Okay, do you want your epidural now?” she asked.  I was surprised.. I wasn’t in any pain yet.  “Um.. I think I’ll wait.  I don’t feel like I’m in pain right now.” She gave me a knowing half-smile, “Well, once we start the pitocin, you’ll probably want the epidural.” she said and she turned on her heel and walked out.

It was 1:30 now and Brady was getting tired.  He got himself settled on the vinyl couch across the room and tried to fall asleep with the incessant beeping and hushed hospital noise.  I felt like getting any sleep would be impossible with the news of my upcoming delivery, but I knew I should probably try to get some rest – I think I had read that somewhere.  I closed my eyes and tried to feel my baby girl as she wriggled inside my belly.  Knowing she was doing well helped me to relax.  Just then, the nurse was coming back in. “Time to check you again!” she announced as she flipped on the light.  I was still at a 6.  “Hmm.. I’m going to bump up your pitocin.” she mentioned, “But let me know if you have any problems!” she said as she noticed I was about to question her, and rushed out of the room.  I tried again to doze off listening to the sound of the monitor on the baby’s heart beat.  I loved hearing that divine swishing and beating of that little miracle inside of me.  I laid there with my eyes closed trying to get lost in that miraculous sound and before I knew it (one hour to the dot later), the nurse was back to check me again…. I was still at a 6.

I waited for the clock to strike 7 before I called one of my sisters.  It had been a long, sleepless night and I had been dying of anticipation to talk to one of them.  Soon Brady was up after maybe two hours of very interrupted sleep and he was calling his family.  I was still at a 6 as we knew well from the last 7 times I had been checked.  They upped my pitocin (again) and called to have someone come and break my water around 9.  I had been in labor since the afternoon before and they assured me it was time.  An on-call doctor came to my bed to greet me and break my water bag.  It was very strange to feel like a 100 lb barrel of water was being emptied out of me.  “I’m not sure if I’m peeing my pants,” I said, concerned. “You’re not!” He chuckled and told me I’d be feeling the water drain off and on for the next little while.  He motioned to the nurse to bump up my pitocin monitor yet again. “Let’s hope that gets this baby here!” He said as he left the room.  I felt another tightening come on, but this time it was welcomed with a soul-clenching pain.  Thirty seconds later, another, and before that one was over, there was another.  I felt like my body was being crushed from the inside out.  I gripped the side rail of the bed to hang on for dear life as the contractions squeezed and clenched my insides.  I squeezed the rails so tight that my knuckles turned white and my arms began to shake.  I tossed and turned trying to find a comfortable position, but before I could get to one, another contraction was coming and it was just as consuming as the last.  I yelped in pain “The epidural!” I said through held breaths.  I was stunned by how quickly the pain came once the water was no longer there to cushion each contraction.

An anesthesiologist was soon at my bedside, although I hardly remember through the wreckage that was happening inside my uterus.  We tried to time the procedure between contractions, but at this point my contractions were “piggy backing” which meant one was coming on top of the other, with no break in between.  “This will help with that!” the anesthesiologist said and I think I could have kissed him on the face.  He left my room, Brady came back to my side.  After 10 minutes, I was still in the grueling state.  I felt the same, but now one of my feet was asleep and felt like it was being stabbed with a thousand needles all at once.  “It needs time to kick in,” said the nurse (a new one now, my 3rd since I’d been there.) But 30 minutes after that, I felt the same.  My foot was still miserably asleep and there was no numbness anywhere on my whole body.  They decided to call the anesthesiologist back in, he re-did the epidural and this time added a stronger, quicker medication. “This is what we use on c-section patients,” he told me as the hot fluid spilled into my back. “You’ll be feeling better in no time!”  I laid back and almost immediately felt relief from the contractions.  I began to feel heavier and heavier until I could no longer move anything but my shoulders and arms.  I began to panic.  I was sure my back was hurting me and I needed to reposition, but I couldn’t.  I couldn’t pull one shoulder off the bed, let alone move my hips.  “Help me!” I begged Brady “Help me move to my side! I can’t move! Help me move to my side!”  My heart rate was escalating with panic and the baby was feeling the tension.  With help from the nurse, he pulled while she pushed my huge, awkward body to its side.  I grabbed the railing with my arm to keep myself from tipping back over.  I reached down to touch my leg and where my leg was supposed to be felt like a big, lifeless sand bag.  It was a sickening sensation.  “I”m going to throw up!” I announced and the nurse handed me a bag to puke in.  I threw up and threw up with a room full of relatives and nurses and I didn’t even have the body strength to roll discretely to the side.  I’d stop throwing up and then I’d recognize the numbness in my body and it would trigger a vomit fit all over again.  I hadn’t eaten since the night before so I had almost nothing left to vomit, but over and over and over again, I continued to heave.

By lunch time, after the dozenth or so time I had been checked, they announced I was still at a 6.  The sisters and in-laws and parents that had mosied in decided they were safe to take a break for lunch but made us promise we’d call if any news changed.  Brady was hungry, but felt guilty to eat in front of me because he knew I must be hungry by now too.  It was true, I did feel hungry, but I was too afraid to throw anything up that I swore I wouldn’t be mad if he ate in front of me.  It had been a couple of hours since my epidural was placed and finally the suffocating numbing was starting to soothe.  They told me I could push the button for another dose of the medication at any time, but I warned the lives of anyone who touched it.  Every time I even thought of the numbness, I would be dry-heaving into my elephant bag.

At 1:00, my pitocin was bumped up yet again in hopes to progress this poor baby a little farther.  A blanket of snow covered the hospital roof that we could see out our window and they had told us that the snow storm, which was the biggest in decades, brought in a slew of laboring mothers.  People were delivering babies in monitoring rooms because all of the delivery rooms were full. “Be glad you got here first,” they teased.  I asked where my doctor was and if he would be here soon, I still hadn’t seen him since I had checked in to the hospital more than 14 hours ago.  “He’s in surgery right now but he’ll be by to see you before too long.” our newest nurse (number 4 in the rotating staff) said in a very professional tone as she checked me again.  “A 6?” I asked before she told me. “Possibly a 6+.” she said as she re-positioned my covers and went to leave the room.  “Can I sit up more?” I asked.  “My back is still aching!” She assured me that it was probably in my head since I had had my epidural hours ago, but humored me by sitting me up-right.  It felt better to be up after so many hours of laying down flat, even if it was all in my head about the aching.  “Do you want me to push your epidural button? You really shouldn’t be feeling any pain.” but I insisted no one touch the epidural button.  The thought of it made me nauseous and I grabbed for my elephant bag.  Along with the nausea, I felt itchy all over.  I kept scratching at my arms, my neck, my chest, my face.  “Sometimes Pitocin makes people feel itchy,” they told me.  I just felt miserable.

Our families returned and filled the room.  I felt self conscious I didn’t have better news for them, but was actually feeling quite content myself to still be pregnant.  I knew these were the last moments I’d have with her inside and I wanted to savor them.  I had waited for this day to come, but now that it was here, I wasn’t sure I was ready.

Just before 2:00, my newest nurse came in to uncomfortably check me again for her hourly chart routine.  “You’re complete.” was all she said as she pulled the stirrups from my bed and dropped the bottom off. “I’m a ten?” I said “Yep.” she answered as she opened cupboards, rolled out baby beds, and transformed my hotel-looking room into a full-blown operating room.  Anxiety started creeping in. “Is the doctor coming?” I asked “He’s delivering a baby next door, and then he’ll be in here,” she said “Can you wait a minute to start pushing?” I agreed without hesitation.  It was surreal to know my life would be completely changing in such a short time.  I felt like I needed a minute to digest the news.  She left and our family came in congratulating us and hugging Brady and chatting about, but I couldn’t hear anything.  Panic hit and I burst into a fit of tears.  My sister ran to my side “Cass, it’s okay.  Are you scared?” I didn’t know what I was, but I nodded through sobs. “Do you want us to call the doctor?” I shook my head.  I tried to calm the sobbing so I could get a word out – “Can I be alone with Brady?” I blurted.  Puzzled, and I’m sure worried, everyone agreed and quickly shuffled outside my room “We’ll be right out here,” my dad said as he left and closed the door behind him.  Brady held me in his arms while I sobbed and sobbed.  I hadn’t slept in 31 hours and the exhaustion was catching up to me.  Everything was going to change and I knew it was so happy and exciting, but the impact of it all overtook my body.  I wanted to remember what our life was like with just the two of us, expecting this little miracle baby.  I wanted to remember this moment right here – our last moment as a single couple before we became parents. “God, please let me remember this moment.  Please help this moment last.” I prayed over and over.  Soon, I felt nice and calm.  Brady whispered reassuring words into my ear with his big hand over my belly and I realized that we were growing up.  The kid that I fell in love with not so long ago was now a man at my side.  We would be parents and I felt proud to be coming into this journey with him. Where panic once consumed me, peace had poured over.

The nurse came in and asked if I was ready to start a few “practice pushes”.  I felt ready, and I felt relieved to feel ready.  She directed Brady to hold onto one of my legs, and I was thrilled to be able to place it myself in his arms.  6 hours after my epidural, I had finally gained some movement and feeling back.  The nurse told me what we would be doing and prompted me as we saw a contraction come up on the monitor.  She began to count to 10 as I pushed, but she stopped early “Okay, whoa! No more pushing! You’re going to deliver without your doctor!” She ran to the hall and yelled “I need some back up!” and picked up the phone and started arguing with someone, “I told him I needed him in here next! We were next in line.  I’ve got a mother crowning in here…. well we may have a baby without him then!” and she hung up.  “He skipped your room and he’s delivering twins next door.  Try not to push and he’ll be in as soon as he can.” I had to consciously tell my body to relax as I felt like I wanted to push.  “She has hair, babe.” Brady whispered as more nurses came in and suited up in what looked like a hazmat suit. “You can see?! Hair? How much?!” “Lots!” he grinned.  Suddenly I wasn’t even remotely nervous.  My baby,  MY BABY, had hair. A few minutes went by before Dr. Lunt was rushing in.  We hadn’t seen him since our appointment in his office the day before. “I hear you’re trying to deliver without me!” he joked as he leapt into a yellow gown and gloves.  If I wouldn’t have been so consumed with the fact that my baby had hair, I’m sure I would have thought of a quick-witted joke about how I had been lying in this bed for the last 26 hours, but I allowed the opportunity to slip by.  “Okay, let’s try this again, on this next contraction…” he began and I geared myself up.  I felt a slight tightening in my upper abdomen and pushed as hard as I possibly could “Okay, great Cassidy, great job.. Here she comes!” and I looked over the drape just in time to see a beautiful head of black hair with a squished little face and big, luscious lips attached. “Whoa! She’s sunny-side-up!” He exclaimed. “Okay, tiny little push to get her shoulders out.” he coached and one second later – at 2:50pm – he placed what was absolutely and undoubtedly, the most perfect human to grace the earth, right on my very chest.  She wailed a perfect wail, she waved her perfectly pink arms, her eyelashes stuck to her cheeks with vernix, her pointy little nose scrunched up to pronounce a set of the most beautiful, bubbly little lips.

My body began to almost laugh out in joy.  “Brade! Hahawwww! Look at her! Look at her!” I just kept saying over and over.  She was so beautiful.  I hadn’t expected her to be so beautiful! “She’s here! Brade, she’s hehehere!” I squealed.  I kissed her tiny hands and realized my lips had been thirsting for her skin my whole entire life.  I kissed her head, I kissed her hair.  Her skin was soft and warm and I knew that she had just come from Heaven.  The doctor shook my husband’s hand and congratulated me on a job well done before he headed out of the room. “She’s beautiful!” I heard him announce to my family just outside.

We sat there in awe, staring at the miracle that had just entered our life.  It seemed that there never was a life before her, that she had been here all along, of course she had been.  We hadn’t decided on a name for sure and I told Brady he could choose when we saw her, but as I looked down on her shining little face, the name Harlo nearly fell out of my lips. “She’s  Harlo, babe.  She’s my Harlo.” Of course she was, I thought.  Of course!  She’s the one I had been told about, she’s the one I had waited for.  She was Harlo and she was here in my arms.  I was her mother, and she was mine.  My very own.  The heavens shone directly down on us, I could feel it all around me.

Twenty-six hours of labor later, she was completely posterior (face up).  The weight of her body had been right on my tailbone and spine the whole time, which had explained the aching in my back.  After we had tried nursing which wasn’t going so well, and cleaned her up, we had our family come into meet her.  It was so magical showing off our very own baby.  I had dreamed of this day my whole entire life.  Just then, my sandwich was being delivered and I tried unsuccessfully to bring my sandwich to my mouth.  I was so exhausted that I literally didn’t have the strength to lift my arm to feed myself.  I have never felt exhaustion like that in my life, but I was so consumed with happiness I barely noticed as Brady fed me bite by bite.

After the family let us settle into our recovery room, I started asking when we could go home.  Another night in the hospital seemed like too much to bear, but they told me we had to stay 24 hours at least from the time the baby was born.  I agreed, but as the hours dragged on I felt more and more homesick.  I was relieved to not be checked for dilation every hour, but now my bleeding was being monitored by the hour as well as Harlo’s temperature, her feedings, etc.  I knew it was helpful, but I just wanted a couple of hours of sleep.  I was so desperate for my own bed, my own shower, my own baby in my own home.  I pushed through to the next day and asked to be checked out as soon as the doctors came into our room by 8am.  We got cleared, but all I had to wait for was the nurse to administer my Rhogam shot before leaving.  Harlo had her daddy’s positive blood, and my blood was negative so I needed the shot.  We packed our bags, asked for the shot and were basically waiting by the door by 8:30am.  They told us they were waiting on the Rhogam to be delivered and it would be just an hour or so.  We waited, and waited, and waited and waited.  I was feeling so sore, like a train had driven directly through my body.  I was swollen and sweaty and so so tired.  By 1:00 the Rhogam still wasn’t there and I felt a serious meltdown about to come over me.  I paged the nurse (again) and begged for the shot.  We wanted to go home so badly.  I asked if I could just come back when it arrived.  In a moment of desperation, I called my doctors office and asked if they could give me the shot and I would stop by on my way home (it was next door afterall).  After that the nurse rushed in and barked that I didn’t need to call my doctor, she was just finishing her lunch and she would be right in.  We got into a little bit of a heated discussion and before I knew it (not really), I had my shot and was walking to the elevator.  They asked if I wanted to wait for a wheelchair, but I couldn’t wait another second.  I would have run if I had to.

We loaded up our sweet baby, I got into the car and buckled my seatbelt and the meltdown ensued.  I cried and cried and sobbed and cried some more the whole way home.  I was where anxiety meets exhaustion meets impatience meets pure bliss.  I was feeling every single emotion possible and it just came spilling out of my eyeballs.  I felt like I had just been run through a rigorous system at the hospital and sobbed to Brady that I couldn’t ever do it again.  This would be our only child, I thought.  I cannot have another baby.  Just then, I felt a spark inside myself.  I felt like I had missed something.  Something very important and something I needed to do in this life.  I had no idea what it was, but it was something.  That spark inside me grew and grew.  When we got home, before I headed for the shower, I sat down and searched “birth books” on amazon.  I ordered 3 to start and immediately started feeling better.  I knew an answer would be in one of them.  I got Harlo out of her carseat to try to feed again.

I looked at her face and knew.  This is the one that is going to change everything.  I knew I was a different person than I was 2 days before.  I knew I was being called to something so much higher than I felt capable of.  I knew that Harlo had been sent to me specifically for a purpose and she was the perfect girl for the job.  Comfort washed over me. This will be the one that will change everything, I felt again, and everything is going to be just fine.

This part of the birth story usually feels like the end, but for me, this was actually just the beginning…



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sharing joy | welcoming Grae

I had a really unique and touching experience this week and it has inspired my outlook for this blog so much.

On Sunday, we went to someone else’s church to see off a friend on an LDS mission.  While we were there, I noticed a friend of mine who was fresh from having a baby.  We happened to be at her ward this week.  I waved as I bounced my restless baby in the back row and snuck a peek at her little newborn snuggled close to her.  Just as the meeting was coming to a close, I passed her again in the back and quickly whispered to her that I was glad to have seen her and asked how she was doing.  She told me she was doing great and before she hurried off to feed her babe, she mentioned that she was glad to have run into me because she wanted to thank me for allowing April to post my birth video.  She said that she had watched it just two days before giving birth to her own baby and that it really helped her and empowered her to walk into her own natural birth confidently.  Right as she spoke these words to me, my eyes began to fill with tears.  I couldn’t believe it.  I was so flattered, so honored, so grateful that we could have shared this beautiful experience together in some way.  I thanked her so much for telling me and as she walked away, the closing hymn began… “Because I have been given much, I too must give.”  One of my favorite hymns were such a clear and definite answer to my prayer.

My body trembled as tears streamed down my cheeks, holding my own little miracle babe, in whose birth I was changed miraculously and forever.  Because I have been given much, I too must give.  I thought.  And I haven’t been able to get the phrase out of my head since.

Here’s the thing,

I was blessed to have had a good friend video my birth with Grae and even though I have been so thrilled with the outcome of the video, I have felt a little too vulnerable to share it.  Because it’s a home birth, I’ve been worried about the criticism.  Because it’s me, I have worried about the judgement.  I have wondered truly where to draw the line with what I share and what I don’t share here.  As the number of followers I have has gone up, so has my anxiety and my walls to guard myself.  I think too much before I post things, and I’ve been waiting for some answers about this.  How much is too much? You know?

Because my videographer (April Davis) is a talented and dear, dear friend of mine and I am so proud of her work, I agreed to let her post it on her great lifestyle blog and decided to wait to post it on mine until I felt a little better about it.  Honestly, I’ve just been putting it on the back burner.  But when I ran into Andee, I knew that it was time to share it.  Because it is an important part of our story.  Because it changed me as a woman.  Because I am able to share the joy and love and beauty I’ve been blessed with and pray sincerely that it may bless someone else.

My favorite article of faith says this,
We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.

So today, I am sharing with you one of the very best, most trying, incredible, painful, miraculous, soul-changing days of my life.


A huge thank you to April for being there to document this video, Errin Andrus for taking pictures, my darling doula and birth-assistant Trisha who has blessed my life, my marriage with Bradley classes and for being so comforting to me during the births of my girls.  To my sweet midwife Janae for being the best woman and midwife I have ever known – for teaching me how to be a woman and for sweetly helping me welcome my babies earth-side.  My gratitude has no words!

And to my love, Brady.  For being my partner in this life and my biggest supporter.  For loving me fully and completely and without hesitation.  For seeing our babies into this world with me and raising them along side me.  I love you.


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