Sustainably Single Parenting

Making the most of life's journey alongside my three!!!

Homebirth Story: Nohra Florence March 4, 2013

Name: Nohra Florence

Born: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 at 9:52am

Birth Stats: 7lbs 4oz, 21 ½ inches

For some reason I keep telling people that I was in labor for ten hours. That’s not true. I was in labor for ten hours with Terra, 18 hours with Amara, but not even a full eight hours with Nohra, and four of those eight were spent lying in bed, doing guided meditations, repeating the words “open” and “relax”.

I felt that first “real” contraction around 2:40am on Wednesday, February 20, 2013. I was 41 weeks and two days pregnant. I knew that I could go into labor at any moment, but I’d figured that I’d go into labor around 2am no matter the day, because both of my previous labors had begun around 2am as well. I was feeling a little anxious because I was overdue and those first few contractions weren’t very heavy at all. I didn’t want to jump the gun and get uber excited about this really being labor until I was absolutely sure. I lay in bed and played around on my phone, I wrote a poem. I waited about two hours, about eight consistent contractions, before calling my midwife and committing to being in labor.

Hearing my midwife’s voice was extremely reassuring. I told her that my intention was to rest, but that I’d been so excited I couldn’t do anything but wait anxiously for the next contraction. I told her that they weren’t heavy, but that they were certainly much different than Braxton Hicks. I felt silly about not knowing without a doubt whether or not they were true labor contractions, especially with this being my third labor, but my midwife wasn’t worried one bit. She told me that she’d be around when I called her to come over later; I hadn’t wanted her to come right away. She also suggested that if I wasn’t able to get back to sleep I should at least try to get some rest.

I wanted to rest. I’d not gone to bed until after 11pm and I was tired, but I was also giddy and upset with myself for not going back to sleep after feeling that first contraction before 3am. I knew that being angry with myself would get me nowhere while birthing. I needed to be gentle to myself and listen to my body and go with the flow. I repeated Ina May Gaskin’s words of advice: loose mouth, loose bottom. No scowling allowed. No tensing up. No negativity. Just ride the rushes. No pain, just…interesting sensations which would require all of my attention. I knew I’d have to work with my animal self in order to get my baby out. This was not the time for self-loathing or doubt.

I decided to listen to some guided meditations. There’s one on positive thoughts that I enjoy and I knew that imagining a wonderful birth and a chubby baby would be more beneficial than wearing myself out being restless. I enjoyed the meditation so much that I did another after the first one. Then another. Then another. I kept doing the meditations until 7am, when I heard my oldest waking in the next room. I’d been so relaxed during the meditations that it wasn’t until I rose from the bed that I focused on the contractions again. They were certainly heavier at that point. It wasn’t long before they were difficult to integrate.

“It’s Nohra Day!” the girls kept shouting. They’d been patient so long and were possibly more excited than I was to meet their new sister. It took a lot of energy to get them set up for breakfast; I had to stop to focus on the contractions every few minutes and I wasn’t sure when I should contact my midwife again. I went ahead and called her at 8am. I still wasn’t 100% that I wanted her to come so soon, but something was telling me that I should have her start on her way. She is the greatest midwife, so patient, so wise. She told me that she’d be right over after gathering her things.

Baby had still been breech at my prenatal appointment two days earlier, so I knew that a second midwife, one I’d only heard of, would also attend my birth. I wasn’t extremely nervous about delivering a breech baby at home. I knew the risks, but I also knew I was in good hands with the midwives, and that more than anything I trusted my body, my baby, and the birthing process. She would come out alright, I just knew it.

When my midwife arrived I’d just set the girls up to play on their computers. I kept feeling the urge to take a shower and after witnessing me integrate a few contractions my midwife agreed that it sounded like a good idea. I expressed my awe of the birthing process with her before getting in. Labor is so intense, so overwhelming to the senses, a unique and fulfilling journey every time. I hadn’t fooled myself into thinking that having done it twice the third time would be easy, but it did shock me that it was as difficult as it was to stay loose through the onslaught of contractions.

I got into the shower and it felt so wonderful. The heat, the massaging pelts of water rushing over me as my body swayed to the waves of clenches and pulls. It was great. I’d never had the urge to get in water during my other labors, but different babies require different practices at their births, and I was open to doing whatever it took to help my daughter come safely earth-side. My water must have broken while I was in the shower, but I never felt it happen.

About twenty minutes after I got into the shower the hot water ran out. I felt a strong urge to push while using the toilet and upon standing I lost my mucus plug. I started to get really excited that it was really happening. After months of anticipation I was really going to meet my baby soon! I told my midwife that I’d lost my plug and that I felt like I needed to make a bowel movement, but that I was afraid of pushing. She reassured me that I wouldn’t push the baby out into the toilet, so I relaxed and used the bathroom like usual.

I went and put on my robe, met the second midwife, spoke gently to my children, and then headed back to the bathroom. The rushes were very heavy and it took my entirety to handle them without fighting back, clenching up, resisting. Squatting really helped me to integrate them, but being in that position also made me want to bear down. It got to the point where I had to get off of the toilet because I needed to find a position to birth my baby in.

An intense contraction took me to my knees and I rocked back and forth on all fours as it peaked, then passed. I couldn’t stand after that. I was in the hallway at this point and the midwives were in the living room. I told them that I was going to start pushing, and crawled into the living room where there was more space. My littlest one, intuitive as she is, jumped off of her seat at the computer and screamed, “Amara! Nohra’s coming out! Mama’s pushing!”

Both of my girls ran to the living room. At first they stood behind me, lifting up my robe, trying to see if the baby was coming. At this point I was dealing with a contraction, but the girls weren’t bothering me. I’d spent months prepping them and was very pleased to have them there to witness their sister’s birth. Transition began; I knew because my body felt completely at ease. I could breath. I could speak. I could choose to think of birth defeating me, or of me conquering. I chose to think positively. This was it, Jet. You can do this. No one can do it for you. The faster you do it, the sooner it’s done. Get it done,  get to meet your baby. Show the girls that birth can be amazing.

Transition ended and I once again had the urge to push. It wasn’t heavy, but I tried to push anyway. It felt strange. I’d forgotten how to do it, and my abs were much weaker than they’d been for my first two births. My body hadn’t been a natural enema during this labor, as it had for my previous two, so my first push produced a bit of poop. I’d reached down during the push and felt my vagina. My midwife asked, “What do you feel?” And I said, “Like I’m pooping.” Lol. I knew being self-conscious at this point wouldn’t help me so I put the embarrassment aside and focused on working with the contractions.

The next one came and I thought to push but wasn’t committed. I tried it out but didn’t feel my body take over my thinking it through until I’d pushed several times and the contraction was past its peak. I found myself screaming, not in pain, but a vocal match to what my body was doing. Contraction after contraction I allowed my body to do what it needed to, my mind to shut off, myself to find breath and the strength to keep pushing long after I’d reached my maximum capacity and my lungs should’ve been completely empty.

I pushed. I screamed. I reassured my daughters that Mama was alright. I pushed. I felt my baby moving through my bones. I pushed harder. I heard my midwives saying “She’s head first!” and I pushed again, leaning back onto my feet from my hands and knees position, catching her in my arms as she slid out onto the floor. I’d done it. I’d given birth. I cried tears of joy to welcome her. My midwife gently unwrapped the umbilical cord from Nohra’s neck and Nohra began to cry.

She was beautiful, just like her sisters. She was covered in birthing gunk, but her sisters didn’t care. They came up and greeted her, kissed her, exulted. They’d watched the whole thing; they saw her coming out and were perfect observers. They were so happy to have had the chance to see everything and I was very happy to have had them there with me. Especially since I did not have the girls’ father.

The birth was amazing. I have no regrets. I have absolutely nothing negative to say about it. The fact that my husband wasn’t present didn’t debilitate or overwhelm me. The situation is unfortunate, but I know that ultimately I’m giving my girls a much better, more peaceful, more balanced life without him in it. I am absolutely elated to have her here with us. She is so perfect. We are all pleased with the new member of our team.

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I Should Feel Fine March 1, 2013

So far I am keeping it together…mostly.

I wouldn’t quite call it baby blues or postpartum depression.

I am just…slightly…less happy today. I also felt this way yesterday…and the night before.

The day before last I made my first true attempt to start back on my coursework for the Directed Study I’m taking this semester. I couldn’t find the time to read more than twenty words of my textbook. I felt like such a failure. I was so overwhelmed.

I’m doing wonderfully with the housework, and with keeping the girls on their daily homeschooling schedule, I’ve stayed caught up with the bills (which I’m paying primarily with my school loans, though we did eventually qualify for some government aid and, though my politics disagree with welfare on the whole, we would be a lot worse off without at the moment).

Things are okay. Quite honestly. I should be happy. There aren’t any dishes in my sink. I only have one load of cloth diapers waiting for me to fold. Nohra was NINE POUNDS at her one week checkup! My milk is so abundant that next week I’m going to start donating it to women who have lower supplies. I should feel fine!

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But I don’t. I’m feeling kind of low.

I’ve tried not to think about my husband…my…I don’t know what else to call him. I mean, he is still my husband, for the time being. Although I haven’t seen or spoken to him since May, and although I filed for divorce in August, and although he’s being charged with a felony for what he did to me, I still call him my husband. He will probably keep that title indefinitely.

I’ve tried to stay in good cheer and not spend too much time considering the things I haven’t been able to accomplish. My midwife tells me to go easy on myself. She says to keep in mind that it has only been a bit over one week since I gave birth and the fact that I’m even keeping up with the girls’ schedule is amazing. She says that most women find caring for three children difficult even when they have a partner’s assistance, so I shouldn’t get upset with myself for not being able to do everything so soon after the birth.

I am upset with myself though. I’m upset for not being able to find the time to accomplish more coursework before the birth. I’m upset that I’m not finding the time and energy to accomplish everything now. I am not upset at my babies; not one of the three. They are everything wonderful to me. I am upset that I cannot spend more time and energy on them exclusively.

Being upset doesn’t help anything really. It motivates me somewhat to do better the next day, but ultimately it just highlights everything I haven’t done. My midwife says to try focusing on the things I have been able to do, and to try to feel good about that. I’m trying, but it isn’t easy to disregard the growing mound of additional obligations.

I know that I will get through this. I know that I will be strong. I just wish the days were ten more hours long.

 

Just Got Real February 25, 2013

Wow.

Nohra has been here for five days and sometimes it still seems like a dream to me. I really have three children.

I really have three beautiful little girls.

Nohra is absolutely amazing, my calmest child by far. Her temperament is incredibly mellow. I know that she may not keep this personality, but it’s much appreciated at the moment.

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My sister was able to come the day after Nohra’s birth to help me out and she’s leaving tomorrow. It has been so wonderful having her here. Everyone assured me that things would work out, and everyone was right.

I couldn’t have asked for a better midwife or a better birth. This is the first birthing experience that I’ve had where I can say without hesitation that it went perfectly. My neighbor/friend was amazing the day of the birth; I received such an immensity of love and help from her. Another friend let me borrow her dehydrator to prepare my placenta for encapsulation, and I’m quite honestly shocked by how much my sister committed to being useful. I feel very cared for and I am so appreciative.

Everyone who has helped me through this has helped to make it the best transition imaginable.

Thus far I am doing well to keep myself from thinking any sad thoughts. I may come close to considering something negative, but I quickly brush it away. There is so much to do right now. So much to accomplish in the next six months. I cannot bother with the unknown, the pain of the past. I need to stay strong for my curly girls. I need to stay strong for myself.

At this moment I feel so incredibly capable. I do not know what will become of our situation. I do not know what I will do or where we will live after I graduate, but…today I feel like I can make it work out somehow. Today I am not worried about our future. Today I know it’s going to be fine.

Everything is going to be just fine.

Maybe I am dreaming?

 

Welcome earth-side Nohra Florence February 22, 2013

She’s here!

Nohra wearing her first outfit ever.

Nohra wearing her first outfit ever.

I am so happy to announce the birth of my third daughter.

Nohra Florence was born at home on Wednesday, February 20, 2013 at 9:52am.

She was 7lbs 4oz, the smallest of my brood. 21 1/2 inches long, lanky like her father,and oh so cute!

Her features are the perfect combination of both of her sisters’.  She is another unique mix of my husband and I.

Shortly after her birth. She is so attentive, strong, and curious!

Shortly after her birth. She is so attentive, strong, and curious!

And guess what? She came out head first! I’m not sure when she turned, it must have been while I was in labor because she was still breech at my prenatal on Monday. I’m so glad that I trusted her, that I trusted birth. I knew she’d come out alright 🙂

I will write up and post her birth story sometime soon, but for now I will just tell you that labor was more intense than I remember it being. It’s a journey every time, but I stayed strong. I labored for ten hours, and pushed for about eight minutes before she was born. So incredibly worth it, even these crazy postpartum contractions are bearable when I look into her eyes!

Terra holding Nohra

Terra holding Nohra

Amara holding Nohra

Amara holding Nohra

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My big girls watched their baby sister being born and handled everything so well. The months of prep that we did really paid off; they were well prepared for the experience and able to enjoy it without any fear.

I am in love, once again. I cannot think of anything negative. I do not know how things will go these next few months or any of that. All I know right now is that I have a lovely, healthy newborn. I am going to indulge in her newness, her perfection, our bond. I am going to cherish this time getting to know her and enjoying her with my daughters and everything beautiful.

Nohra smiling in her sleep :)

Nohra smiling in her sleep 🙂

All of the circumstances I deal with will somehow unfold. At this moment I cannot imagine anything having less than a beautiful outcome.

 

Resolutions December 31, 2012

2013 is going to be a very eventful year. My third daughter is due in February, my oldest will turn six, my second will turn four.

I will graduate from Emerson College with my master’s in Publishing and Writing, and possibly begin my career in the publishing industry.

I will continue coming to terms with myself; my failed marriage and the abuse I suffered throughout my eight year relationship transformed me. I do not consider every aspect of my marriage to have been negative. I do, however, realize that a lot of my identity was determined by my husband. If not directly, then by my attempts to conform to what I felt he requested of me.

Oftentimes I do not know if the thoughts I have are my own. Am I doing things because I like to do them or because I have been conditioned? Am I making decisions based on my attempts to keep him happy, or am I doing what’s best for my daughters and me? It would seem that with him out of the house, charged with a felony, over 1000 miles away, and unable to contact me due to the restraining order, I would have a better hold over my identity, but I don’t. Not yet.

I don’t know what type of music I like listening to anymore. I don’t if my political views are the same. I question my opinion of almost everything. I am not free if he still lives within me. I need to know what I believe. I need to relearn me. I used to be a pretty cool human being.

 

So even though the New Year’s Resolution thing is a little lame, the timing is perfect and there are several things I’d like to focus on in 2013:

Learning more about me – (outside of my relationship, even outside of being a mother)

Wearing my hair naturally – I haven’t used a relaxer (chemical straightener) for over eight years, and that transition was difficult, but I still feel discontent with the way I’ve styled my hair. I am still conforming. I am still blow drying and straightening, still damaging my curls. I would like to learn how to wear my hair in its most natural state. I know that it will take some time and I may feel intimidated by the newness of my appearance, but I believe it will pay off in the end.

Being confident -For so long I have internalized all of the negative things my husband said about me. It’s not worth listing those things, they are not true. I need to relearn my good qualities, redetermine my value, and let the beauty I have within me shine through. I was once the most fearless person in the room; I was bold without being brazen, confident but not cocky. I want to feel that certainty again. I want to exude self-confidence.

Meditating daily – Lately I try to meditate before getting out of bed in the morning and before going to sleep at night. Meditation is helping me to be at peace with things, to be positive about my future, to not be hindered by my past. I am enjoying the uplift that I get from each session and look forward to making meditation a habit.

Attaining physical fitness – I used to be incredibly fit. I could do 100 standard and 20 one-handed push-ups. I could run for hours. I had the body fat percentage of a body builder. It made me feel good to be strong and able-bodied. It gave me confidence to know that I was an animal who could protect herself from harm. I never showed off my six-pack, I didn’t even like to wear shorts. It wasn’t about the suitors I could attract with my body, it was about feeling powerful. I want to rebuild my strength. I know that I am due with my third child soon, and that I won’t be able to do everything I want to do right away, but I am setting my goals high for physical fitness and I will be working toward them in 2013.

Living more sustainably – We already make our own laundry detergent, bathroom cleaner, and dishwasher solution. We eat organic and local foods and shop our farmer’s market. I cloth diaper, breastfeed, and do lots of other crunchy things, but I’d like to start living even closer to nature. My main focus will be on the foods that we eat. I want to maximize our veggies, get better at gluten-free cooking and dive deeper into the paleo diet. I also want to be more frugal. I want to start making my own soap. I want to sew my own diapers or master EC. So many things really, but I am excited to be starting them all.

 

I don’t expect to fulfill every resolution as though they were items on my bucket list. I don’t see these objectives as things I can do and then be done with. These are aspects of my life that I want to focus on, get better at, and continue on with throughout the rest of my days.

I look forward to the new year and the things that I will accomplish in it. I know that every day will involve becoming a more complete me. Welcome 2013.

 

I’m Not Really Complaining… December 7, 2012

“Let me know if you need a massage,” a girlfriend asked me yesterday.

“I don’t think you’d want to massage my vagina,” I replied.

My husband would say that I have a low tolerance for pain; he was doubtful that I could go through with birthing our first daughter naturally and medication-free because of how much I complained about the smallest things. Paper cuts and pregnancy are different than birthing. Complaining gets you nowhere when you’re in labor, but it helps me out in other instances.

Similar to saying aloud, “I’m embarrassed,” after tripping in front of a crowd, I will say, “my pelvis aches” to my classmates when they see me waddling around. It brings a sense of acknowledgement to the way I’m feeling and it helps me to be at ease with my discomfort.

31 Weeks

Today – 30 Weeks

People think I’m trying to be funny when I refer to my fetuses as parasites, but what better name for them is there? I love my unborn daughter, but she is just a little bit selfish. I don’t think she really cares how I feel about the way she sucks the nutrients from my body and then jabs her feet into my stomach so that it’s impossible to eat. She doesn’t consider how I might take offense to the pain in my pelvis being a result of the position of her spine.

Oh no, things are right fine on the inside. She has her xylophone –my ribcage, she has her trampoline –my bladder, she even has a nifty place to store her phalanges –my belly button. I’m thinking that she won’t take too kindly to hugs because every Braxton Hicks contraction incites a brutal fight between her extremities and my organs. I wish she could understand me when I tell her that I don’t like the contractions either, but they occur for her benefit.

So yeah, pregnancy is not walk in the park. It’s a waddle wherever you are after 30 weeks, and it’s going to take two to three times longer to reach your destination safely.  I’m trying my hardest to stop picking up my other two daughters as much, it’s no longer convenient to have a washer and dryer in the basement, and it takes me several minutes to walk from the front seat of my mini-van to the back to strap the girls in and then back to the front to start driving.

I’m not complaining. Not really. I know that this will all pay off in a matter of weeks (when the pain strengthens in intense waves repeatedly, peaks, and then tapers off through days of afterbirth cramps). Someday I will hold my third daughter, in all her innocent and chubby glory. I will gradually forget the discomfort I felt while she grew inside of me, and years from now I will crave this experience again.

Tonight, however, I will pout a little and ice my vagina.

 

Birth Plan December 5, 2012

I originally wrote this birth plan in 2007 for my first birthing experience. The biggest change was making “we” into “I” and “our” into “my”. Heart-wrenching, I know. At least I have a detailed birth plan and I won’t have to worry about being misunderstood.

 

Jet’s Birth Plan

EDD 2.11.13

I am delighted to be sharing this experience with you, the birth of my third daughter. I have done everything in my power to prepare for an uncomplicated, low-intervention, vaginal birth, and healthy baby. Though I am fully aware that situations may arise during labor and delivery which could result in my desires for this experience to go unfulfilled, I have created this birth plan in hopes of being as involved  and informed as possible, maintaining a pleasant atmosphere for everyone.

Listed below are my desires for the various stages of this experience. Thank you for all of your assistance, patience, expertise, and support!

*My daughters have spent my entire pregnancy learning about birth, babies, and what it will mean to have a new sister. They are very excited to be a part of the birth and as long as they are handling things well and behaving themselves I would like them to be allowed to stay with me throughout this experience.*

 

Labor:

  •    Room equipped with tub, birthing ball, and squatting bar. Same room for delivery.
  •    I do not consent to artificial induction, augmentation of labor, enema, or shaving of pubic hair.
  •    Freedom of movement, bathroom usage, choice of music and lighting.
  •    Avoidance of internal fetal monitoring, continuous external monitoring, and vaginal examinations.
  •    Portable IV if usage becomes necessary.
  •    Allowed to wear contact lenses, suck on ice chips, drink water, and try different positions.

Delivery:

  •    I do not consent to any medications (pitocin, epidural, general anesthetic) apart from local anesthetic if stitching a tear  (but please ask me for my permission before applying local anesthesia or stitching me).
  •    Avoid episiotomy. Try massaging, hot compress, or perineum support.
  •    Freedom of position choices (gravity enhancing), music, and breathing method.
  •    No “directed” (officious) coaching, allow me to trust the instincts of my body.
  •    Avoid, at all costs, cesarean section, vacuum extraction and/or use of forceps.
  •    I do not consent to the attendance of non-essential personnel or phone calls.

After Birth:

  •    I would like to hold my baby immediately.
  •    Please wait to clamp the cord until it stops pulsating, give my daughters the opportunity to cut the cord.
  •    I would like to breastfeed immediately after delivery.
  •    Apgar and any other tests/procedures can be performed while I hold her.
  •    I do NOT consent to ANY eye drops being used on my baby.
  •    I ask that I be allowed to assist with Baby’s weighing and bathing in my room.
  •    I do NOT consent to the vitamin K shot, suctioning, or ANY vaccinations.
  •    I will encourage spontaneous delivery of the placenta stimulated by breastfeeding.
  •    I would like to keep my placenta if it is intact.
  •    Please allow me freedom of movement after birth, with assistance immediately following.
  •    If my baby needs to be warmed, please let my abdomen be the place, avoid infant warmer.
  •    If Baby somehow happens to be male, I do NOT consent to a circumcision.

 

*I plan to breastfeed exclusively. I do not consent to my baby being given any bottles, pacifiers, formula, or water without my approval.*

*I do not consent to my baby being given any medications without my approval.*

*I do NOT consent to any separation from my baby without my approval.*

*In the event that my baby is not well I would like to be as involved as possible with her care.

*In the event of an emergency cesarean section I would like to be kept awake.

*I would like to be released from the birthing facility as soon as possible.

 

Once again, I am delighted to share this experience. Thank you for your support 🙂

~Ms. W
Nine weeks to go!