Sustainably Single Parenting

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

Beautiful Mama Blog Award March 18, 2013

A huge THANK YOU to Julia of Wailings of a Work at Home Mom who nominated me for the Beautiful Mama Blog Award! Julia continuously reminds me that one of the greatest joys of motherhood is reliving your childhood with your children. I always thought I’d be a wonderful mother because I could empathize so well with children. I was a great babysitter, the coolest camp counselor, and the biggest clown all-around. I thought I’d never lose my playful spirit, my outgoing persona, my zest for adventure. I may not have lost those pieces of me, but they’ve certainly been suppressed by the negativity of the past eight years. I want to enjoy life the way I used to; back when I was making life and life wasn’t making me, back when I saw beauty in the simplicity of things, as children do.

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Rule of the Award:

  • Click the above image and use it in your acceptance post.
  • List three things you love about motherhood.
  • Nominate as many moms as you like and let them know of the award

 

Motherhood is amazing for a zillion reasons, but if I have to narrow it down to three…

  1. Pregnancy and Birth-  no matter how discomforting, trying, grueling, intense, or any million types of difficult these stages can be, they are also amazing, sacred, awe-inspiring gifts from nature. Nothing humbles me more. I cherish the sacrifice, and in those hours, days, months, I am the strongest woman I’ve ever been, fueling my passion to become the strongest mother the world has ever seen.
  2. Watching them grow– It’s bittersweet to watch your babies growing so quickly into the unique people they’ll be. Part of you wishes they could be babies forever, part of you wants them out of the house for all but holidays. They are so beautiful, you hope to capture every quirky grin and cute costume and milestone. They are so beautiful, and you cannot help but to think of the future, when people will desire them, and you hope you’ve taught them well enough to choose wisely.
  3. Learning from them– Being a mother has taught me an enormous amount. From how I behave when I’m disappointed to how to unconditionally love someone. But I’ve not only learned emotional lessons; teaching them forces me to learn things, pleasing them forces me to try things, keeping them safe has given me the drive to create harmony in our household, and they constantly inspire me to be the best mama I can be.

 

Other mama bloggers who deserve this award (even if they’re not blogging about being mothers):

 

Thanks again, Julia!!!

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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.

 

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?

 

I’m Having Another Homebirth!!! January 4, 2013

If I could successfully land a front handspring right now I would do five or six of them in a row. I am so excited! I’m having another homebirth!!!

I was trying my best to be positive about the disappointing reality of having to deliver Baby #3 at a birthing center. A birthing center wouldn’t be nearly as unbearable as delivering at a hospital. Still, every time I considered it I freaked out a little inside.

Taken 12/29/12 - 33 weeks

Taken 12/29/12 – 33 weeks

  • If I go into labor at 2am, like I have these past two times, who is going to drive me to the birthing center?
  • Even if I have someone willing to drive me there, what about my children? I’ll have to wake them up and get them dressed at 2am and then travel the significant distance from our house to the center, in LABOR!?
  • What if I have to take a taxi, with my two children? In labor? At 2am? In the cold of February?
  • If we take a taxi to the birthing center, how would we get home?!
  • How am I going to labor in a moving vehicle with cranky children?!
  • How am I going to calmly ride the waves of my contractions while being terrified that my water might break all over someone’s car?
  • Okay. Say I go into labor sometime in the afternoon. Say the kids are dressed, my friends are available, my car is functioning, and it’s not all that cold…but what if my labor starts out as strong as it did last time? Last time there was never a break in how strong the contractions were from start to finish the entire ten hours!
  • What if the midwives at the birthing center discourage me for coming in because I don’t “sound” like I need to come in yet? I never “sound” bad when I’m laboring. I pride myself on being able to keep it together. But my labor won’t progress until I’m comfortable knowing that I am where I need to be. Does that mean I’ll wait at home too long and not be able to make it to the birthing center? Or will I be in labor twice as long because I am uncomfortable not being where I need to be?
  • What if Baby stays breech?! At my last prenatal appointment the midwives wanted to schedule me for an external cephalic version just in case my exercises didn’t do the trick of turning baby. A VERSION!?! Do you know what that means?! Do you know what that might do to me and Baby?! Do you know HOW OPPOSED I AM TO HAVING A CESAREAN SECTION UNLESS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY?!!? Did you know that babies can successfully be born breech vaginally?

BBBThere were so many things about going to the birthing center that filled me with anxiety. I was still going to go, but only because I didn’t have any other option. Should baby stay breech, however, they will not even allow me to attempt a vaginal delivery. Liability, they told me. I would’ve had an involuntary cesarean section. I used to work at a hospital in the labor and delivery department. I’ve seen c-sections performed. I do not EVER want that to happen to me! Our society, hellbent on controlling childbirth, does not properly acknowledge the risks of cesarean sections, yet doctors are no longer being trained to handle vaginal breech deliveries. It saddens me.

I’m still living off of my school loans so we’re still broke as can be, but let’s just say, where there’s a will, and a very amazing midwife, there’s a way. I’m going to have a homebirth for Baby #3!!! Just over five more weeks and Baby is coming 🙂

 

 

Birthing Baby #3 November 7, 2012

I’ve decided to deliver at a birthing center.

After this delivery I’ll have birthed in a standard hospital (though we weren’t there very long before I delivered her), I’ll have had a homebirth (absolutely wonderful to experience), and I’ll have given birth at a place that’s a bit in-between one’s home and a medical facility.

The decision wasn’t easy, per say. After two successful, drug-free and intervention-free vaginal deliveries I really don’t see the need to leave my house while birthing, but…I’ll be alone. This time, not only in spirit, but I won’t have his body to knead like bread through the waves of contractions. I also don’t know if my mother or sister will be with me. So, even though I know that I have the strength to delivery my baby safely and peacefully, I’d rather not be alone.

I wanted to hire a homebirth midwife. I interviewed some and met one that I really liked, but that was months ago, when I thought I’d be better off financially by this time. However, I am not receiving child support, and with all of my other expenses I cannot afford to hire a midwife who isn’t covered by my insurance.

It does sadden me. I know that I’m fully capable of delivering my baby without anybody’s assistance. But with two little ones in the house who need tended to, and with us being so many miles away from a healthcare facility, it just seems safer to be with midwives during the delivery. Plus, I really don’t want to be alone.

2009 – Terra’s Homebirth

Birthing is difficult. It challenges your core strength as a person, as a woman, as a mother-to-be. It grounds you, and sweeps you off your feet simultaneously. It empowers you while bringing you to your knees. I love birthing. I feel the strength that I typically suppress consuming me. I am unstoppable and fully capable of riding out the rushes; in, out, up, down, squeeze, opening my body.

But I don’t want to be alone. Birth is a celebration. Someone come earth-side, someone taking their first breaths, someone welcomed to life. I want to be in good spirits when I push her through my bones, I want to give her a wonderful welcome. If I am not surrounded by loved ones, or loving midwives, it will be much more difficult to not succumb to the sadness, to the emptiness, to the fears. I do not want her to come into this world and be greeted by my grief.

I need the birthing center to distract me from brooding over him during labor and delivery. I do not want to focus on my worries, I cannot spend my labor wondering what my future holds. From my experience the best way to get through a delivery is to be totally present. It’s difficult though, when the sensations make you want to push against them or run away, and what is really going to help you is to embrace them, allow them to invade your idea of comfort, reorganize your concepts of control.

It still saddens me, that I cannot have another homebirth strictly for monetary reasons, that I will give birth to our third baby and he will not be there with me, that I will bring her into this world so uncertain of what will be. But I am happy that she’s coming. I am excited to prepare for her. The girls already consider her in everything that they do and enjoy imagining the ways that Baby will contribute once she’s here with us. I will do my best to bring her into this world safely and surrounded with love.

This may not be the situation of my dreams, but I’m still going to give birth naturally, and I’m going to make her earth-side entrance as positive and peaceful as can be.

 

Woe Is Pregnancy October 12, 2012

My daughters are three and five, so my pregnancies with them seem fairly recent, but after giving birth I always gloss over how annoying pregnancy can be.

I remember the births vividly. I have no delusions about the consuming feat of labor and delivery; how much energy it takes to breathe easy through hard-hitting waves of contractions; the terrible tricks of transition. I remember well why they call it the “ring of fire” when baby is crowning, but I also remember the sheer joy and immeasurable humility of having a baby glide through my bones.

It was those subtler, constant and consuming pregnancy nuisances that I completely minimized in memory.

I remember complaining about the pain in my ribs. I don’t remember feeling like I was being pulled apart. There is a continual strain coming from my rib cage. It feels as though my ribs are being stretched to all sides and that the seven layers of skin holding them in might not prove strong enough.

37 weeks – 2007

I remember the pelvic pain and feeling pressure. I don’t remember waddling at 23 weeks because the aching in my pelvis is so strong that it hurt to put my legs together. I don’t remember there being so much pressure in my vagina that it hurt to sit down. I’m carrying around unfamiliar, weak, sore and swollen pieces of me.

I remember the practice contractions. I don’t remember being squeezed to the point where breathing becomes difficult. I don’t remember holding the bottom of my bump in a futile attempt to keep the pressure from affecting my bladder. I don’t remember being worried that they are strong enough to be a sign of preterm labor. And then, of course, I stress that it’s my stress level causing the contractions, which inevitably continues the cycle.

None of these discomforts are the same as true labor. I can handle that. When I’m in labor I am in my element, totally present, focused on creating the most peaceful earth-side entrance for my baby as possible. No screaming, no crying, no complaining, no drugs. It’s different when I’m in labor; the end is so near, and my mental commitment to staying relaxed throughout the process helps to keep things progressing positively. Pregnancy, however, is a lingering stretch of vexation, a waiting game, leading up to the day where the pain all accumulates, amplifies, and finally, finally pays off.

I’ve only got..17 more weeks of waiting…17 more weeks of rib-splitting, kicked-in-the-crotch feeling, Braxton Hicks contracting joyous pregnancy.

 

Another Homebirth? July 25, 2012

I always knew I wanted to birth my children naturally. With Amara, I labored for 18 hours in the comfort of my home, and was at the hospital for less than ten minutes before holding my first baby. I’d already considered the fact that birthing at a hospital wasn’t always necessary. I’d done my research, knew the pros and cons, and even spent a period of time working in the same labor/delivery unit my daughter was born in; still I knew that the next time I delivered I wanted a homebirth.

Terra was born at home. Ten hours of labor, two pushes, no interventions. I am completely satisfied with both experiences, but there was a beauty about giving birth at home which wasn’t present in my hospital delivery. I have to start planning now, for my third baby’s birth.

I love my current OB/GYN and the midwives he uses, but I will part ways with them soon as no one at that practice attends homebirths. I do not know if I will really have another homebirth (mostly because I am no longer in my home, but in a condo) nevertheless, I want to build a relationship with a midwife who does them regularly. There are more options in New England for birthing outside of a hospital than there were in southern Illinois, I just haven’t found the time to research them thoroughly.

I am 12 weeks along at the moment, so I still have some time left to figure out where I’ll feel the best about birthing. For now, I am going to reread Ina May Gaskin’s Spiritual Midwifery, which has done wonders to prepare me for my last two births, and I am going to spend the rest of my pregnancy planning for my family’s future, bonding with my daughters, and continuing to build my strength.

Giving birth in my rented condo will not mean as much to me as giving birth on the bedroom floor of my first purchased home. Still, having the comfort of knowing that I can labor uninterrupted by the fear of not making it to where I “need” to be in order to birth my baby is invaluable.

No matter my location, I know that I will be a happy, peaceful birther, as always. I will not cry or scream or freak out. I never saw the need to use my energy on such things. Labor is hard enough work without losing control. I plan to have a labor party. I want to laugh and embrace my loved ones. I want to be distracted from the negative aspects of raising three small children alone. I don’t want to think about who will not be by my side for the first time as I push our baby through my bones.

Most importantly, I want a successfully drug and intervention-free birthing experience. The end result a chubby baby, and a recharged supermom.