shifting energies

I’m done with pumping as of yesterday. It’s sucked up so much energy during the day for the past months while I balance work and home life, and after my surgery, my supply was down. It seemed like a natural point – Ollie’s 10 months tomorrow – to just nurse morning and night. With Evie, I nursed four-ish times a day until she started daycare at a year; but once she started going, I didn’t pump to make up for it. I nursed her until two and a half, well into our global pandemic life, and would be happy to do the same with Ollie. But the pumping multiple times a day while trying to work a meeting heavy job is not for me anymore. And that’s ok. Balancing combo feeding (aka some formula and some breastmilk) is what works for us. And so, we shift energy to other things.

back to basics

I got my gallbladder out this week and I’ve done some more sleeping and some more resting and sitting. When I am healing I tend to pull back from all things and bubble myself into a time. A book, a story, a show. Nothing too contemporary, nothing in the news. Certainly no email. No newsletters. Some mindless internet scrolling to be sure, but nothing below the surface because I am living in the moment.

I once had a boss who told me she didn’t understand I truly needed to disconnect over the weekend. I think it was that job and that role but it still is true – I shut down parts of my world when I’m focusing on others. I don’t know how to float between both, so I do a complete switch and can’t lift the veil until I’m meant to be fully somewhere else.

So before I get back into the world, for now I am reading, drinking coffee, and noticing the nature, as always. I hope you are too.

Ollie’s Birth Story

(Written 11/21/2022)

Oliver was born on July 10, 2022, at 10:46 am. He was 9 pounds, 6 ounces, and 22.5 inches long, making him significantly bigger than his big sister! This labor was so completely different from Evie’s. Early in the morning of the 10th, around 4:40 am. I was feeling a little crampy, and was losing my mucus plug. I texted the midwives at 5:40 am, telling them I was having twenty second contractions that were manageable. About a half hour later, I asked Jeff to get up and call Becca. To which he was like “Call Becca?” and I was like “JUST CALL HER.” She was to come over and watch Evie. 

At that point I also had him call Traci (who was coming to support us at the birth center) and then tried to get myself ready. Most of our items were together, but I wanted to eat and have some water, but my contractions were just too close together to do much. I asked Jeff to call the midwives and they said they’d meet us at the birth center around 7:30, which was about an hour from them, which honestly made me feel desperate. I was laboring in our bathroom, trying to eat a yogurt, and waiting for Becca to arrive. Meanwhile Jeff got the car packed up. Becca arrived and we got ready to leave, and as we did Evie woke up and I got to give her a hug goodbye. 

We headed to the birth center and my contractions were really close together and really intense. Traci met us at the parking lot, and it took two or three contractions to even get INTO the birth center. Once we were inside, after a few more contractions and a cervical check, Michelle (our midwife) said she was going to do rebozo to get the baby in a better position so that I would have more reasonable contractions. When she checked me, Michelle said, “OK, you are between 7 and 8, I’m going to say 7” and Jeff was like “centimeters?” and I just was like “NO MONKEYS, OBVIOUSLY CENTIMETERS.”

Once I had a (teeny tiny) break in my contractions, Michelle and Jeff did rebozo so that I would be more comfortable and it was like night and day. My contractions went from back-to-back and intense to reasonable 3ish minutes apart. I went from feeling like I absolutely couldn’t do the labor to feeling back to having the power to do it. At this point, Michelle drew a bath so we could labor in the bathtub. Jeff got in with me and we labored there for a couple hours. Traci kept us in music, water, and laughing, and of course was taking pictures and video of the whole thing. I felt like I needed to push not too long into this, and Michelle said I was only 9 centimeters, so to not push quite yet. At that point, I really did think I couldn’t handle the labor, so I asked for some nitrous oxide, taking some deep breaths of that.

I remember several times Michelle explaining to Jeff what was happening in my body, and at one point she mentioned that there’s some time between active labor and pushing where your body gives you a break to catch your breath, so to speak, and feeling like that was bullshit because the contractions were still strong, but in retrospect she was right, and I was in a “lull” for a little while in the tub. Once I started pushing, however, I really felt like I was in unknown territory, because I hadn’t pushed with Evie. I pushed in the tub for a bit, but Michelle asked if I was open to other positions because Ollie wasn’t progressing. So I got out of the tub and was pushing on the birth chair, and finally in bed. At this point, Michelle told me she could see Ollie’s head and I was so doubtful anything was happening. I did say several times I did not want to do this anymore, and she said (and I knew) this was a good sign and that things were moving along well.

Michelle kept asking me for three pushes per contraction, which absolutely wasn’t going to happen – I was focusing on two pushes, max. With some gentle coaxing (hah) I did try to eventually give her three pushes while Tayelor and Jeff supported my legs and Traci continued to document and be my cheerleader. Pushing, as it turns out, really hurts! I was probably on the bed for forty minutes or so before we got Ollie close to out – and at that point, Michelle told me he’d be out on the next push. I asked her repeatedly if I was going to tear, and that was my biggest fear, and she said “You’re not going to tear, you can push as hard as you can on this next push” so I did, and finally, Ollie’s head was out! Michelle turned him a bit to get him in a better position for the rest of his delivery, and I pushed again (maybe twice?) and he was out. I know I had a breather when his head was out to just gear up to push again.

Once little man was out, Michelle was like “I think he’s going to be over nine pounds” which like, good thing no one mentioned as we were pushing!! He was on my chest during this time, while we waited for the cord to stop pulsing and waited for me to deliver my placenta (which she said was very large, as well!) Delivering the placenta was more uncomfortable than I thought it was going to be, but once that was done, I was feeling great. No longer nauseated, and our chunky baby was here!! Unlike Evie, Ollie had a name from the get. I got him to latch a bit, and we just enjoyed our time together while Michelle and Tayelor cleaned up, checked us both, etc. Traci put on our non-mellow playlist (we’d started with mellow straight up this time around) and we bopped to some jams and introduced Ollie to Sara Bareilles, naturally.

This second labor was a completely different experience from the first time – in venue (no monitors, no IV, etc.) and in length (Ollie’s labor was six hours total, Evie’s was about twenty four), and in size (6 lbs 9 oz v. 9 lb 6 oz). Plus, Ollie was so long that Michelle measured him twice because it seemed like he just was SO SO long. After about an hour or so of relaxing, having some snacks, and enjoying Ollie, Tayelor helped me up and helped me take a shower. It felt amazing, and then I was helped to dry off, change, and get back in bed. It was so lovely and comfortable at the birth center, and we stayed just a few hours after his birth. Once Ollie and I were cleared for healthiness, we were ready to get home. Traci ordered us sushi and picked it up on the way for us to enjoy. We were home by 2:45, in the blazing hot sunshine of July. I was so proud of myself that I managed to do an out-of-hospital VBAC by advocating for myself, finding the right providers, support people, and of course having a supportive family. I am endlessly, tremendously in awe of Traci for being our overall birthing coach, the team from Gracefull for supporting me through a pregnancy that included thyroid management and low iron counts, on top of being a TOLAC, and of course of Jeff being there the whole way as a birth partner and Dad of the year. And of course thank you to Rebecca for caring for Evie while we were getting Ollie earthside. Traci and Rebecca hung around for most of the day taking turns with hanging with me and hanging with Evie while I rested and took in little Mr. Oliver! We are so glad he’s here, our little missing puzzle piece, who’s smiley and chunky and wonderful.

Evie: 7 Months

I know everyone says they can’t believe it because time goes so fast, but I mean, seriously, how do we already have a baby that’s STANDING? 

I’ve been journaling on paper when I can but I can’t remember everything (even though you think you will, but you can’t because who is sleeping these days?)

Here’s where we are at. She’s 7 months 5 days old (every day counts!) and here are some things she’s up to:

  • Standing – This is the past 2-3 days, she can get herself flat on her feet if she’s holding on to something – she’s almost standing in her crib and I can hardly believe it
  • Sitting – She learned how to do this April 12 – she woke up not being able to, and went to bed a sitting champion. She was about 6 and a half months old. I had to lower the crib to the lowest setting before bed while she cried nearby, cranky and ready to sleep but unable to go to bed in a raised crib any longer!
  • Crawling – She’s been crawling in earnest for about a week. She was scooting around on her stomach for a few weeks before that, but she’s cruising around now.
  • Eating – She’s into all things pretty much. She’s not CRAZY about avocado but eats it, and she loves loves Bamba, which are basically peanut butter flavored cheese puffs. She has had a lot of different things, from polenta and oatmeal to prunes to kale to cucumber, pears, different meats (some even spicy because I want her to have a higher tolerance than me!) I’ve been pureeing things for her out of ease so I have a bunch of stuff ready, but she’s also eating tiny chunks of meat, and fruit like mango and banana that’s softer, and polenta in little slices.
  • Playing – Evie loves her books. She’s into flipping through them and going from book to book to book. She loves being read to, as well, and loves all her touch and feel options. She also loves knocking over stacks of toys, and pulling on her baby dolls hair. And she loves to make noise!
  • Other stuff – Her new thing is fake coughing/laughing at everything, screaming while she crawls, crying near the Roomba (it’s terrifying, don’t know you), chewing on books, and when we imitate her noises it really makes her giggle. She doesn’t have any teeth yet, and it doesn’t seem like she’s even close, but that hasn’t stopped her from chewing on everything and eating all foods.
  • Sleep – Because I am still home, we are no schedule. Sometimes she wakes at 6 am, sometimes at 8 am. She was sleeping 6:30 pm – 3 or 4 am for a week, then went back to eating between 11-12, and last night she slept 6:30 pm – 6 am, so who’s to say. Fingers crossed that sleeping through the night becomes her new normal – it’d be nice to sleep for more than 3-4 hours at a time!
  • Signs/Language – She’s saying a lot. She talks all day long, and says “mama” and “baba” and “dada.” She loves to yell. She knows “more,” “all done,” and “eat” quite well, but she’s not signing back yet (except to slam her fist on the table when she wants more of something.) She also loves using her tongue to explore her mouth, and she loves to blow raspberries. She is just learning how to kiss which involves a big slobbery open mouth on yours, but oh how it’s cute!

That’s the majors. I’m going to try to keep track better these next few months here, but we’ll see! Where were your littles at seven months?


Evie’s Birth Story

Evie was born on Friday, September 29, at 4:55 am three days early. On Wednesday, September 27, we went out to dinner for our third wedding anniversary at an Italian restaurant called Centanni in Burbank. Jeff joked that I should wait to have her at least until the next day so we could keep our dates separate for our anniversary and her birthday. I obliged, although to be honest I was feeling crampy that night at dinner.

At 4 a.m. on Thursday, September 28, my water broke as I was sleeping in bed – a big gush. I woke Jeff up to tell him, my first thought being that we had recently taken off the waterproof cover we had on the bed to wash it (we kept it on the bed because of the animals, but that’s another story.) Jeff got up to get a towel, and I got up and changed my clothes. At this point I wasn’t having any other signs of labor, so we called our doctor’s emergency line. They called us back and told us to wait for the doctor to call us. Meanwhile, I took a shower, and we called our parents. My mom changed her flight to a sooner flight (she was supposed to come in on Friday night.)

We put some towels down on the bed and relaxed a bit, not really falling asleep again but just reading/relaxing. I had some food – waffles with peanut butter and some scones, and I think a piece of fruit? I remember Nikki telling me that once you get to the hospital they don’t really let you eat, so I wanted to eat as much as possible while I was still hungry. I remember thinking how annoying it was that my water had broken and I couldn’t really get up and walk around and be as active as I anticipated – this was not a scenario I had seen happening. Only 15% of women have their water break BEFORE they are in labor, so I really thought this wouldn’t happen – only in the movies!

Not a whole lot happened that morning; the doctor called around 8 a.m. and said to come in once our contractions became stronger. At this point, I wasn’t really having any consistent contractions. About that time, I asked Jeff to go get me some smoothies from Jamba Juice – one for now, one for later. I mostly stayed in bed, texting a bit with my doula, and reading. I drank a ton of water, too, to keep hydrated and for something to do. I took a nap around 11 for about an hour, and then just continued to rest/eat/drink. I also finished packing my hospital bag to make sure we had everything we needed. Jeff got up and cleaned the whole house, wide awake and very motivated all of the sudden. He packed the car to the extent he could and I am assuming organized someone to come look after the animals.

Around 3 p.m., I got up out of bed, bored from laying around all day and having nothing happen. I put a towel down and got out my yoga ball, rolling around in the living room and doing some yoga on my mat. Jeff and I played Rummikub, and while we were playing my contractions finally started in earnest, but still were inconsistent. At our birthing class, they mention that you should aim to head to the hospital when your contractions are 5-1-1. This means 5 minutes apart, and 1 minute long, for at least 1 hour. I was aiming for a 3-1-1, because I preferred to labor at home for as long as possible.

My mom’s plane landed around 5 p.m., and I was having contractions but they were still far apart. Around 6:30, they were about 5 minutes apart, but my mom was in a cab on the way to our house, and I was still talking through my contractions – a good sign that labor is not too far progressed – so I kept at it.

While my mom was in transit, Jeff and I calculated how many contractions I’d have to have at 3 minutes apart for an hour (20 contractions, because you include the time you’re contracting as part of the cycle; for example, you have a contraction for 1 minute, then you have 2 minutes off, before you have another contraction). Somehow it helped me to count up to that number. I was using my yoga ball to lean on and keeping track of my contractions with an app, and started to feel a little scared – this is it! I am going to have a baby! It’s happening! Ow, this hurts! – but then my mom arrived and we started to get in the car. I took my green ginger smoothie – the one for later – in the car with us and drank it on the way. Around 7:30 p.m., my mom arrived and we got ready to go to the hospital. At that point, they were about 2.5 minutes apart, and about a 1 minute long, and had been for at least 1 hour.

As soon as we got on the highway, my contractions began to slow, which is totally normal. They were only 20-30 seconds long, and I was still talking through them. It took us about 30 minutes to get to Cedars, where we checked in and were sent to a triage room. I got changed into a nightgown – I wanted to be able to wear my own clothes to labor, this was somehow important to me at the time, and I think ultimately a good call – and Dr. Brock came in as he was already at the hospital for another delivery. He did an exam and informed me that I was dilated…1 cm.

At this point it was probably 8:15 ish, so my water had broken 16 hours prior. There is conflicting advice in the medical community about water breaking and going to the hospital – some doctors want you to come in right away. But some, like Dr. Brock (and like me, based on what I have read) recommend you wait to come in. The worry is infection, but if you’re in your own home, you have already been exposed to those bacteria so you’re less likely to become infected there, rather than a hospital (full of sickies!) So although some of the nurses/doctors I saw in triage were confused that I had waited to so long, Dr. Brock got it.

At this point, I was almost discharged to go home and labor – gasp! – which would have been annoying. In fact, the only reason I had gone to the hospital in the first place was because Evie was breech, and since I was new at this I didn’t know how far along I was and I didn’t want to get into a dangerous situation where I was too far along at home. Ultimately, they decided not to discharge me because my water had broken so long ago, but they wanted to start pitocin. This is a drug they used to help move along your labor – getting your contractions going, so to speak. They were monitoring my contractions, and when I arrived I wasn’t even really feeling them (again, totally normal. Your body is “stressed” by moving to a hospital and needs to relax and feel safe again before it resumes doing its thing).

They also did an ultrasound which was hilarious because they were trying to make sure Evie was in the right position to deliver vaginally. She was, but it took three doctors looking to make sure because one of her legs was in a whacky position. I kept cracking jokes like “she only needs the one leg” and “I know it was there yesterday” and “I mean, it probably didn’t fall out, right?” but I somehow don’t think they appreciated it as much as I did.

So they moved us to a labor room, my doula Kim met up with us, and they got my IV hooked up, and started pitocin, which is a drug that accelerates your contractions, and helps make them stronger. They wanted me to be on pitocin since my water had broken so long ago but not a lot had happened in my body. They started me on the lowest dose, and my contractions started to GET.GOING. I was having contractions, and wanted to labor on the floor, on my yoga mat. This, however, didn’t quite work how I wanted to because my IV was in my hand, and every time I put my hands down my IV would get cut off and the machine would start beeping like crazy.

This went on for a while until Kim said maybe we could get them to move the IV. So they tried both of my arms and I had to lie down while they tried and of course they couldn’t get a line in. This was a pain in my ass, took way too long, and left me covered in bruises. At the time I wanted to just punch everyone because I was in a ton of pain and wanted to move around and not just be lying there. This exercise at least made it possible for me to take off my robe when they reattached the IV in the original spot. At some point in here, they upped the pitocin, and I was having really long and really strong contractions.

During this time, after a couple of 2-minute contractions, I honestly felt like, holy hell I cannot do this. I couldn’t speak, my contractions were so strong and so close together that I couldn’t get words out in between and I couldn’t tell anyone that I probably needed some drugs. In retrospect, it would have been nice to know how far along I was, but when your water breaks they minimize the cervical exams to reduce the risk of infection. Kim/Mom/Jeff were there but only in the distance; I felt like I was riding ocean waves alone. I was listening to the mix that Traci put together (which really kept me going through all of this) and trying to find a comfortable position but the IV was driving me nuts. Kim kept telling me to give into the contractions, not fight them, which was a big help because you really do feel like fighting and tightening instead of breathing through them and relaxing into them, and she kept giving me water/chapstick as needed.

Around 1 a.m., Kim asked me what I needed, and what the baby needed. At this point, I said, “The baby needs an epidural.” And so, the anesthesiologist was called, who was my Angel twice that night. They told me only one person could be in the room, so Mom and Kim left and Jeff stayed with me. Now they turned on ALL THE LIGHTS (I had had them dimmed) and raised the bed up a ton so they could put the epidural in. (Side note: an epidural is just a tube/catheter they put into the epidural space of your spine. They place it with a needle, but it stays in your back once they remove the needle so they can add more drugs if needed. It’s not actually as scary as it sounds in practice.)

The nurse kept asking if I was having contractions while looking at the monitor – which like, yes, lady obviously LOOK AT MY FACE – so when they did the epidural I kept reminding them I was having contractions because I was afraid the monitor wasn’t showing what was happening but also didn’t think I could stay still long enough for them to put it in. (Side note: they were obsessed with the monitors which was so annoying to me. I kept moving around and my fetal heart monitor would move and they’d come in to adjust it. I get that you’re trying to make sure the baby is OK but I cannot just lie here. Check every 20 minutes or something. This, by the way, is a method some hospitals use and one I probably will request next time o have intermittent monitoring.) I told the anesthesiologist/Angel that I wanted a walking epidural. He asked me what my pain level was. “I don’t know, I guess 8?” (It was not an 8, it was a 10. The pain scale is bullshit. It was the worst pain I’ve ever been in. Long rant about women’s pain and would be inserted here, but there’s not enough time in the day.) He said, “If I give you a walking epidural you will be at about a 6.”

A “walking epidural” is basically 20% of a full-strength one. I got what he was saying – if I actually wanted a break, and to rest (as it was 1 a.m. and I’d been up since about 4 the day before) I would need to get the full epidural. I was in so much pain and so tired at this point that I was like “OK just do it.” Jeff at this point made sure that I was sure (we had a “safe” word of sorts to make sure that I was good with what was happening to me) and we went through with it. The Angel told me that this was the last contraction I would feel, and then put in the line and the pain was taken away within 5 minutes. The Angel left and the lights were dimmed and Kim and Mom came back in, and everyone could finally rest. I talked to Kim for a bit about how I was feeling, and she reminded me to move from one side to the other (I could still feel my legs/move them) which could help from one side getting too numb and also help to keep the contractions going, even though I couldn’t feel them.

Now, at this point, before I got the epidural, someone theoretically should have checked me out to see how far along I was. But they did not. So, after a few hours of sleep from about 2 a.m. to about 4 a.m., Dr. Brock came in, doors wide open, looking at my chart, slamming drawers, wondering where the nurse was. He asked me how many centimeters I was when I got my epidural, but I was groggy and sleepy and just was like “What?” Kim told him no one measure me, so he got the nurse and then did a cervical exam. At which point he told me, “The good news is you’re fully dilated. The bad news is her feet are coming down, so we need to do a C-section.” Then he left the room for the nurses to prep me for the OR. They also prepped Jeff and Kim after I told them I wanted my doula in the room (initially they said only one person, but I pushed back.) They also gave me some antacid which I should have asked for sooner, because all through my contractions I had the WORST heartburn to add insult to injury, but this stuff worked INSTANTLY.

They got us ready to go in and brought me in first, where the Angel was waiting to give me whatever drugs I needed for the C-section. At this point, I was nervous, but tired, and ready for Evie to arrive. The team was getting everything ready, and I started to feel anxious as they put up the cover so I couldn’t see my stomach – it was a little too close to my face but they fixed it. Once they got me cleaned up they brought in Jeff and Kim. The whole thing seemed very fast. I remember someone asking me if I could feel something and being nervous (I have no idea if I can feel this, why don’t you give me some more, just in case?) and then smelling burning, but not feeling anything, not even pressure. At a couple of points, I felt very nauseated, but Angel took care of it and gave me something.

Evie was born at 4:55 a.m., and the first thing Jeff said was “Look at all of that hair!” Jeff was taking photos and video and even got some video of Evelyn being born, which he told me later the nurses were concerned with because he kept standing up to see and they didn’t want him to faint. I remember Dr. Brock mentioning that it was OK that she wasn’t crying yet, so that made me feel better. They delayed the cord clamping for about a minute, and then they got her over to the table to weigh/measure her.

She was 6 pounds, 9 ounces, and was 20 inches long. Then they brought her over to me for some skin-to-skin contact. I was very out of it and couldn’t really hold her on my own, but the nurse/Jeff helped me. Then they took her back and were working on sewing me up. Jeff cut the cord and was with Evie, and Kim stayed with me. I started shaking (normal and due to all the hormones) and Kim just talked to me and asked me how I was. I felt nauseated again, and almost threw up, but Angel put something in my epidural and I felt better immediately. Then they brought the baby back again and showed her to me, and I told them I didn’t want to hold her because I didn’t feel good. When they were done sewing me up, we went to the recovery room, where my mom met us! Evie was finally here!

I spent the next few hours in a haze, tired from the delivery. I couldn’t feel my legs, and had to wait in the recovery room until I could, for I’d guess an hour or two. Then they brought us to a regular recovery room. For the next couple of days, we got the hang of Ms Evie. We saw a lactation consultant, learned how to breastfeed a bit, and I recovered from my surgery. I got a catheter in for most of Friday and after having to pee every 20 minutes for almost 10 months, it was my very favorite thing. I couldn’t stop talking about how great it was! What an invention!

We didn’t get a ton of sleep, but we were happy Evie had arrived (although she didn’t get a name until late on September 29.) My dad got to town the night she was born and came and met her with Ana and Traci. I was pretty out of it for those couple of days, on some meds. Once they took the catheter out on Friday night, I was to walk around and tried to do some laps on Saturday. On Sunday morning we went home, after about two days in the hospital! The pain lasted a few weeks, with it hard for me to move around on my own, but by my two week check up I was feeling about 90 percent. In the end, I was fine with our C-section because I had the chance to labor and attempt to deliver Evie vaginally until her feet came down, creating a dangerous situation for her. Ironically, she was born on the same day my original OB wanted to schedule her c-section, just 12 hours earlier. She certainly came into the world on her own terms, and we’re so glad she’s here and healthy!