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Forest is growing up! Where did September go? I swear it just began and now here we are in October. I know where September went, the first half was spent in a muddied haze of trying to navigate parenthood and the second half was spent trying to continue working out those kinks within the confines of the house. Every afternoon I look at the clock and wonder where my day went. The most productive things I do come in spurts and I rarely accomplish much off of any to-do list. Maybe I get to sweeping the floor. One day I managed to dye my hair. I’ve been wanting to finish his scrapbook for days, no over a weeek, but never get to. I have to get the diapers hung, that’s a given, but most days the biggest things I do are change diapers and sit on the couch and feed the little dude. And find time to feed myself…somehow.

Some days I might get a few hours of respite when he takes a nap and some days I end up continually tethered to the couch in a maze of feeding, dozing, moving to the crib or MamaRoo—where depending on his mood I get 10 minutes or 30 minutes to myself, another diaper change followed by more feeding…wash, rinse, repeat. And sometimes nothing gets done other than keeping the baby happy. It’s those moments that I wish just for a few hours of adult time, of wishing that I wasn’t breastfeeding. Wishing instead for that bottle of formula that takes longer to digest so I can actually get three hours between feedings instead of 1-3 hours depending on how much he felt like taking off of me at any given feeding. And then there are the other moments where I stare down at him, and he’s so adorable and hilarious as he’s searching to latch, with the cute faces he makes as he’s desperately looking for that thing that gives him milk. I told Chris he’s like a drug sniffing dog, he can sniff out that there’s milk in some proximity to his face if he’s laying on me. I really need to get a video (don’t worry, not showing that here!) of him latching on when he’s really hungry because it is hilarious. He’s like a magnet, drawn in completely and quickly, and then instantly happy once the milk flows.

So, I have a love/hate relationship with breastfeeding. I love it because I love seeing him so happy when he’s eating and he’s so adorable when he’s milk drunk and falling asleep, but I hate it because it tethers me down and is incredibly frustrating that I can’t share in the feeding with anyone else. Yes, I could pump and bottle feed, which is what we’re going to be doing eventually for during the day when he goes to daycare, but for now we felt it was best to strictly breastfeed (though we try to give him one bottle a day of pumped milk so that he doesn’t forget how to latch to a bottle for daycare in a few weeks). It’s frustrating since I’m the one who gets up at night to feed him, and since Chris is back at work now I am usually the one who stays up with him if he’s being difficult to get to sleep. The night time feeds are a little easier now that I stopped pumping at night (though I might bring it back here in a few weeks to built my stash up a bit more) and since he typically only feeds from one side at a time at night. However, sometimes I wish he’d drink from both sides so he would sleep a little longer and also to ease up on the pain of the other breast he doesn’t drink from. Now that I eliminated the pumping in exchange for more sleep I can get his diaper changed when he wakes and his feeding done in about 15-20 minutes, unless he’s being particularly difficult and falling asleep on me but waking up when I put him in his cradle, then sometimes we battle for 30 minutes to an hour. Sometimes he also needs some comfort nursing and no one else can do that. We introduced the pacifier a week or so ago to work on that comfort nursing and that helps but only in certain circumstances and he doesn’t always like it. I know all of the frustrating times will be forgotten when I go back to work and am missing him and missing being able to feed him throughout the day, but it still doesn’t make it any easier when the frustrating times are happening in the present.

One thing I’ve been trying to figure out with him is a choking issue he seems to have at times when feeding. It scares the crap out of me when it happens, and I flip him up to my shoulder and pat his back and try to get him to cough and breathe. I did some reading on the issue and it seems likely that my let-down is more forceful than he can handle at times. It makes sense, as I can hear the milk enter his mouth and he just gulps it as fast as he can. From my reading it seemed that the laid-back position is best for trying to ease up on the flow, letting gravity taper off some of the force. That position seems to help a lot when I need it but I don’t always need to use it.

I didn’t really mean for this to be focused on breastfeeding, but since that seems to be what defines me these days that’s what I’m writing about. I actually had a lot of other things to write about but I’ve forgotten what they were between starting this post and dealing with Forest throughout the day. So, here’s some more photos from today’s photo shoot and from the week.

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I’m figuring out this Moby wrap thing, mostly so I can carry him out when I go to hang the diapers. It’s really too hot to carry him in at the moment. It’s probably good for indoors but I haven’t found the need to use it inside yet and he’s usually sleeping in the car seat/carrier when I am out and about. I need to try our Ergo carrier soon.

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The only way I was going to eat breakfast one morning.

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FYI: Overalls aren’t really that great for changing diapers.

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lycoris

In the last week I’ve managed to spent a few hours in the garden doing a bit of weeding. It hasn’t been much but it has been enough to start trying to recover from two months of rampant and unchecked growth. Somewhere in the midst of it all there have been a few garden surprises such as this yellow lycoris. We planted the bulbs two years ago and I don’t believe they came up last year, however this year they sprung up and provided a happy surprise near the pathway and our front deck.

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This luna moth has been hanging out near the front window by our stairs. I saw it one night, in the deep recesses of the early morning hours when few are awake—such as parent’s of newborns—as I went to flip on the lights to our upstairs living area. The switch is at the top of the stairs and I happened to look down at the window to see the moth sitting on the edge of the window outside. I forgot to mention it to Chris, likely because I was in a half asleep stupor and just wanted to feed the baby so I could go back to sleep, but he saw it the following day and mentioned it to me again. It stayed there for several days and now I need to go out front and see if it is still there.

melon

Since I pretty much abandoned the vegetable garden in late July, I was dumbfounded to see that this Bidwell Casaba melon plant was thriving and produced a fruit! Very few plants were still alive in the vegetable garden and most of the melon plants were gone except this one and the moon and stars watermelon, which isn’t doing much growing but is still alive. Let’s see if it can mature more and we can enjoy a sweet harvest!

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Another plant that has seemed to thrive in abandonment is the brown cotton…or at least I think this is the brown cotton. I also planted some green cotton but it was either the green cotton or the brown cotton died and I don’t remember which. I guess I’ll find out when the pods open!

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The okra was also thriving but I just never made it out in time to keep up with the harvest so now I’m just letting it all go to seed. Hopefully my tags are still legible so I can determine which varieties are which in the rows.

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Chris has been spending some time in the vegetable garden this week finishing the perimeter herb beds that we started back in late spring. He’s made a lot of progress by finishing digging out the beds, putting in the wood for the modified hugelkulture, and picked up some free composted horse manure to add to the beds. He’s ready to get going on fall and winter vegetables but I’m just not there yet. Frankly I was ok with just postponing growing anything for the next several months and focusing on cleaning up what has been neglected first, but if he’s ready for all of that then kudos to him!

There’s more going on in the garden and I’m sure I’ll share that as I get to more weeding and discover plants that were thriving among the weeds.

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Oh man. Forest at three weeks means that he’s still a pretty good baby, but last week’s evening woes are carrying over into week three, making everything after 5pm until 10pm a festival of crying, feeding, and diaper changing. If it isn’t umpteen diaper changes in an hour, paused by about a 10 minute session of general contentedness, followed by the need to feed for 15-30 minutes, alternated back again with some diaper changes, punctuated with some more crying that we can’t decide what it means (usually means he’s gonna need a diaper change in the next five minutes…he’s just preparing us in advance), followed by another bit of ‘Oh, maybe I can do some chores for a few minutes”, only to get called back for more crying. He wears us out.

We have a few mini-meltdowns in the middle of the day but that usually just means he needs his diaper changed about five times in an hour. It isn’t unusual to change him and then sit down to feed him or put him back in the swing or Mama-Roo only to have him very vocally tell you that, ‘Oh, just kidding, I pooed last time, but this time I needed to pee.’ This can happen in a five minute period. Let me tell you, I’m looking forward to having him potty trained! As soon as I can get a better grip on things around here and he can hold his head up, I will be introducing the Elimination Communication. The sooner we can work out this diaper thing amongst the evening meltdowns, the better.

Overall, he’s doing really well. I need to be working in more tummy time during the day but by the time I feel like I can do it I’m ready for him to really sleep for his 1-3 hours so I can have some time to myself (Like writing this blog post. My goals for doing more today were dashed. This is what I can realistically aim for today.). I’m getting a little more daring in going out in public with him. To be honest, I was completely scared to go out by myself with him a week ago, the thought perplexed me. So far his only outings have been relatively short, eating out twice, trips to the doctor’s office (for me and for him), a trip to the hospital for his second round of newborn blood testing (OMG, sending a newborn to the general lab area where all other sick people go is completely nerve-wracking. Woman across from us had a 9 month old…who either had ‘asthma or pneumonia, we don’t know’. Um, greeeaaat. Don’t cough over here!).

The trip to the hospital was with my mom, so I had some help. He was in meltdown mode after his heel was pricked for blood—of course!—so we found a spot to nurse him in the hallway corridor where some chairs were set up facing the windows. I had taken a bottle of formula for him but really wanted to nurse him, so I did. It wasn’t too scary and of course it wasn’t a giant public space. Then we went over to Academy so I could get some new running/walking shoes, and hit up Chick-Fil-A after. After I had nursed him at the hospital he went to sleep and all was going swimmingly until I came out of Chick-Fil-A and found him crying in the car with my mom. I pulled off into an adjacent parking lot and changed him but of course the next thing he wanted was to eat and we were still twenty minutes from home. I attempted to drive home but the crying didn’t stop so we pulled over to a gas station and nursed him in the car there. He just needed a 10 minute sip of milk and we were on our way after that. Even if I’d had a bottle I know we’d have had to still pull over because he can’t hold the bottle up himself yet. So, it’s this kind of maneuvering I’m trying to navigate.

Today I went to a breastfeeding support group back at the hospital, which ended up being really nice. I learned a lot of new things, commiserated with everyone else on the 5pm-10pm meltdown situation (we’re not alone, thank goodness!) and then went to Target to pick up a few items. I survived! Of course he didn’t need to nurse after I’d nursed him at the breastfeeding group, so that helped. It’ll be those other longer situations that I’ll have to navigate. I don’t have a large stash of milk built up yet for bottle feedings, but that doesn’t eliminate the fact that I’d still need to pump if I didn’t feed him directly from me. So, I’ll be figuring that one out as time goes on, but for now I know I can at least do short 1-3 hour errands with him. Plus, I’m starting to get stir-crazy around here. I like being at home but there’s only so much a person can take. Yesterday I spent 30 minutes sitting in the garden path, weeding. I was hoping for at least an hour but Forest had something to say about that. Oh well, baby needs food, baby gets food. Having that dose of Vitamin D was wonderful and after getting down and dirty I can’t wait to really start doing more work out there in a few weeks. I’ve got to figure out how to bring Forest out so he can hang out but not get bit up by mosquitoes.

Anyway, it was a big week last week. My mom was here to help out for the week since Chris returned to work and then over the weekend my brother, sister-in-law, Zoe, and Grayson came to visit. It was a little stressful at first having a whole houseful of people, and Chris and I were pretty tired, but we were glad to introduce Forest to everyone. I think Zoe really loves her cousin and will be happy to play with him when he’s a little less fragile. Grayson, well, he’s interested but not so interested yet. I think those two, when Forest’s bigger, will be a handful!

Anyway, here’s some more photos from the week:

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I ventured outside yesterday to walk around for a few minutes. The air was warm but with a tinge of autumn to it. I missed summer, y’all. I’m a little disappointed by that, missing the growing season and seeing the garden in its peak fullness. We still have a few months left before a frost and freeze, but a lot of plants will start their trend towards dying back for the season in the coming months. I’ve missed a lot of blooms over the last few weeks but I did snap a few shots of what I could find amongst the weeds, like the African blue basil above.

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The brugs are still sky high and blooming. The sky behind that—that’s an autumn blue sky.

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ginger
I’ve been pleased with the gingers in the ‘tropical’ section of the garden. They have thrived this summer and bloomed, like this butterfly ginger. It smells divine!

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Cassia corymbosa

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I need to harvest the roselle that has thrived on the side of the house.

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The flowers from the roselle are beautiful, too.

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It took all summer but the variegated brugs bloomed as well.

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And of course there’s weeds all over the path!

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I can’t wait to do some more gardening in the coming weeks as I recover from my c-section and get used to toting Forest around.

diapers

(Yes, that’s one day’s worth.)

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twoweeks

Last week on Forest’s one week ‘birthday’, I decided that I needed to take weekly photos of him this year. Let’s hope that as time goes on that I don’t get lazy and forget!

Forest had his two week check-up today. He made us look like total rookie parents in the doctor’s office by first completely barfing up the bottle we were giving him, something he’s only done three times since he has been born, and then we couldn’t find the burp rags we had tucked into his bag so we had to suffice by cleaning him up with paper towels and Kleenex. Of course I found the burp rags later after I rummaged through his bag. And then there was a poo explosion on the exam table, so that was fun! On the good side, he’s growing like crazy and has surpassed gaining the weight he lost after being born, returning to his birth weight and then gaining an extra pound on top of that! The doctor told us that we could basically stop supplementing, something I’d already started tapering down or eliminating completely from a lot of his feedings. He has also grown an inch and a half since being born. We could tell he had grown quite a bit but weren’t sure just how much.

Something we’re thinking about giving him is a pacifier. We’ve had some rough evenings lately in which he has fed but then continues to go ape for several hours, acting like he’s hungry but not really nursing very well, latching and then pulling off only to whine and move his head around like he wants to nurse. The doctor thought perhaps he just needed to suck on something to soothe himself, so we’re contemplating adding that in when he gets so fussy that nothing seems to help. A lot of times we’d resort to giving him a bottle but he’d only drink a smidgen and just reject it too. It’s been a completely frustrating process during these frenzy times. And of course this has usually happened near bedtime and we’re just ready to go to sleep. I’ve been trying to let Chris sleep through it while I deal with it since he’s back at work, but sometimes I just need his support to get through the madness.

Sometimes his issue isn’t feeding, it’s diapers. Last night we changed five diapers in an hour during one of his ‘I’m hungry—no I’m not’ frenzies. They were all dirty in some fashion. The kid just does not like dirty diapers. Last Monday we transitioned to our Bum Genius cloth diapers. We were very happy to finally get started using them but after a few changings we quickly realized the 20 diapers we had were not going to be enough. I sent Chris down to Buy Buy Baby to get 15 more and I think we’ve got a good supply for now. It took a few uses to figure out which tab settings to set them to, but I think we’ve got them as snug as leak preventable as we can get at the moment. Switching to the cloth diapers has been an eye-opener for us, realizing just how expensive and wasteful disposable diapers are. We still have disposables on hand for when we may need them, but we’re definitely glad to have phased them out as our primary diapering source.

I got the all-clear to start walking for what is comfortable for me today, holding off on more strenuous exercises until six weeks postpartum. For this I am very thankful to be able to start doing a mile or two walks once again. I’ve lost about 30 lbs of my pregnancy weight with another 20 to go—yes, I gained 50 lbs with Forest! Add on another 15 to that to get back to my ‘happy with myself’ weight, I’ve got a good 35 lbs left to lose. I already feel skinny compared to what I was this summer, but I’m definitely not back to an kind of ‘fighting’ weight. The most glorious of all of this is that I have ankles once again! My feet aren’t pudgy!

I promise this space isn’t going to be a complete baby blog, but for the moment that’s what I’m wading through. I took a few garden photos the other day and I may try to post some of those soon. Until then, here’s some more photos of Forest!

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Misti Chris 1

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On Saturday, August 30th Chris and I went out to Sam Houston National Forest to take photos before Forest arrived. Over this last weekend we wanted to recreate the same scene to include Forest’s arrival so we drove out to the same spot in the forest yesterday afternoon to introduce Forest to the forest! Other than a trip to the pediatrican earlier in the week, it was his first trip out. Chris’ dad and step-mom were in for a few days to visit and so we made an afternoon of it, stopping for lunch in Montgomery before heading out to the forest. Timing his feedings with my own eating needs can be a bit precarious at the moment, but it all worked out. We got ourselves a spot in the corner and threw a blanket over his car seat and managed to all eat lunch without Forest waking up and asking for his own meal.

Out in the woods we stopped along the side road we had taken two weeks ago and I fed him while Chris and his dad walked around an area that two weeks ago had a field of liatris blooming. It looked like they’d come in and mechanically cleared the area, the underbrush of the red-cockaded woodpecker cluster, which was a bit disappointing. We had a few bumps along the way with a fussy baby who didn’t nurse enough only to get upset and want more a little while later and then a diaper change that was required. But, we got some photos and I think they turned out pretty well. I’m now wanting to capture as much as I can of this little guy before he grows up even more.

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Misti & Forest 091314

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This one is my favorite!

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This is probably my other favorite despite that he has some sort of rash going on on his face. He’s in an awkward clothing size right now. He fit newborn clothes for all of 1.2 seconds, and while he can wear some 0-3 month onesies pretty well he hasn’t quite filled out enough for some of his 0-3 month ‘fancy’ clothes. We had to roll up his jeans and his button down shirt was a little bit too big for him.

I love, love, love this dude! Our little family is doing pretty good, still getting into the swing of things and trying to go with the flow around here.

It’s been a week now since we’ve had Forest in our life. With the postpartum hormones and my general sentimentality it doesn’t take much for me to break out in tears, especially when I think about how quickly the week passed by. The time at the hospital seemed to creep slowly, but of course by the end of the day and the visitors left I’d think that it all went so fast. And here we are now a week later and my baby is a week old and only going to grow older with each passing day, it makes me want to grip the reigns on time even more tightly.

We’re settling into a routine here at home. Chris has two weeks of paternity leave, with the first week being primarily spent at the hospital and this second week being spent here at home. We’ve got our feeding schedule down and of course we’re starting to have some cluster feeds thrown in during the evening which throw things off a bit. At the hospital we had to deal with Forest having too low of a blood sugar during the first 24 hours of his life. At first it wasn’t expressed to us how dire the situation could be if we didn’t get it up to a certain level. I was breastfeeding and he latched on pretty darn well right away. I knew that I wasn’t going to have much other than colostrum for him until my milk came in but everything I’d read and everything everyone said assured me that this was ok. Apparently though, with the larger babies this isn’t really the case and it took one knowledgeable nursery nurse to inform us the consequences of not supplementing with formula during that first 24 hours. So, we settled into a breastfeed for 10-15 minutes per breast followed by 20-30 ml of formula during each feeding. At first we were on an every two hour feeding schedule. That means you feed every two hours, starting from the time you begin feeding. So if it takes an hour to get through a feeding you only have an hour of downtime to sleep or take care of whatever else you need to. It was quite rough that first night or two.

Because we wanted to primarily breastfeed we wanted to begin weaning him off of the formula after a few days. We got advice from multiple nurses who all had similar input regarding weaning him off of the formula, basically reducing his formula intake to 10 ml per feeding after breastfeeding. This was not an easy night to get through. Finally the morning we were discharged the neonatologist came by to check on him and talk about the heart murmur that had been heard the previous day, and we got her input. She basically told us that the nurses were right for regular sized babies but for babies of his size that it wasn’t the right thing to do. He was needing more milk because he was a bigger dude and until my own milk came in and came in well, which could have been several more days at that point, giving him the formula after breastfeeding was what we should continue to do. We weren’t seeing any nipple confusion or latch issues so we weren’t worried on that end. So, that’s what we did. I’d breastfeed and he’d be happy to do that until he’d sucked what colostrum was there dry, and then we’d switch him over to formula where he’d down anywhwere from an ounce to two ounces at a time. This satisfied him and he’d get through a three hour feeding schedule just fine.

Now a week later my milk is in and ramping up since I’ve also been pumping too. If he’s a lazy feeder, which is usually the middle of the night, I tend to pump a little more. We’re still in the supplement with formula or pumped milk phase, though he is reducing his supplementation intake which I’m taking is a good sign that he’s getting more from me when I breastfeed. We’ll see how things change over the next week in this regard.

Chris and I have a pretty good night routine at the moment. I’m sure it will change a little when he goes back to work next week so that he can get a little more sleep and of course it’ll change once again when I go back to work in November. But for now I do the breastfeeding initially and first diaper change when we wake him up, and then Chris will do the formula or pumped bottle while I pump after the breastfeed. Sometimes he’ll fall back asleep easily, other times he takes a little bit longer to get back to sleep. Being on the 3 hour feeding schedule helps a lot as we can generally get 2-2.5 hours of straight sleep in between those feeding times. I’m noticing that my body has already adjusting and is starting to wake up on its own on those 2-2.5 hour cycles, but we do set the alarm to be sure to get up.

Forest is such a good baby and rarely cries unless it is something specific like a wet or dirty diaper or he’s hungry. And as soon as you take care of either of those items, he’s golden.

As for life around here, I’m still having to take it easy with the c-section recovery. That’s something that is hard to do as I want to be doing all of the little chores around here and I know that with the cool front that is coming this weekend it will entice me to be outside! My mom’s coming next week and has offered to pull weeds and trim plants for me, so I may sit outside in a chair with Forest while she gardens for me. It’s been nice having this week with Chris at home. It’ll be hard for me to send him off to work next week but the upside is that we will get to have lunch together every day since we live so near the office.

I’m sure there’s more I’m forgetting to write about. I’m trying to keep up with all of the little sayings we’ve got for him already and just ordered some photos to start for his scrapbook. We’re planning on doing a photo book as well and I need to order announcements. In between all of this I have find time to take a nap or two.

Here’s a smattering of photos from the last week, including a few from the time in the hospital.

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Warning: This is a very long post, at more than 6K words. I had to write it all down for my sake. Photos at the end.

As I said in my post announcing the birth of Forest, his birth was not anything near what I’d envisioned all of these months. It all probably started with his 36 week ultrasound and his estimated weight at that time being 7lbs 5oz. With still another four weeks to gestate my midwife was concerned he was going to be quite a large baby. She scheduled a 39 week ultrasound for a followup measurement. It is widely documented that measurements this late in the game on an ultrasound aren’t highly accurate, but paired with her tape measurements of my fundus at appointments, which were consistently showing up about two weeks over what they should be each time, it was likely Forest was going to be on the bigger side of average.

At our 39 week ultrasound and appointment the tech found him to be 9lbs 5oz. My midwife became very concerned with the possibilty of shoulder dystocia at this time. Previously I’d been wanting to hold off on any cervical checks for dilation until 40 weeks but prior to this appointment I’d become increasingly curious if anything was going on, mostly because I’d not had many Braxton Hicks contractions, which I know that not all women get. I didn’t feel like I was close to labor at all. As we talked, the topic of induction was brought up due to the great possibilty he would be large and waiting for him to come on his own would just allow him to grow larger and increase the risk for shoulder dystocia and other complications. I then consented to a cervical check to determine where I was even at and to see if I was even a candidate for induction at that time.

I don’t recommend cervical checks. In fact, as I write there will be a lot I don’t recommend. Talk about painful! And all that to find out I was only 2cm and 60% effaced. At least I was somewhere but I wasn’t anywhere near as far I was just randomly dreaming I would be. However, it was enough for her to highly recommend being induced and for us to decide that it was the option we should choose. It was very difficult to accept and I did some crying over having to come to terms with this birth not being what I’d wanted to go through.

My midwife’s plan was to have me head to the hospital on Sunday, August 30th to check in mid-afternoon and have a round of Cervidil placed to ripen the cervix more. I was to have that for 12 hours and then be started on Pitocin the following morning to ramp up contractions and she would come in later that morning, Labor Day, to break my water. Before leaving she handed us a piece of paper with the information to give to the labor and delivery nurses on Sunday afternoon.

We had to return to work for the rest of the day and were still trying to take in all of what had just happened. There was also the part of having to tell our parents. In our original plan we’d decided that we’d wanted to labor at home as long as we could and would go to the hospital to have the baby without a lot of people being around in the waiting area. We felt that it would be less stressful than to have many people trying to check in with us for progress or asking us questions, and would allow us to calmly and peacefully labor and have the natural birth we wanted. Being induced changed all of that and we were trying to figure out the best way for our family to plan to come down but still allow us to have a birth as close to our original birth plan as we could. We held off on telling anyone at work what was happening until we could give our parents a call.

Sometime later, mid-afternoon, I received a call from my midwife’s office and spoke to my midwife’s husband, the main OB in the office. He was supposed to be the back-up for my midwife on Labor Day in case I needed a c-section or additional help with any possible shoulder dystocia issues but unfortunately he was not available as my midwife had thought. The plan for induction was scrubbed and I was told to show up at the office on the following Tuesday for my 40 week appointment and to have another ultrasound. At this point they couldn’t schedule the induction for any other time that week since it seemed everyone else wanted to postpone their inductions for the holiday weekend and cram up the weekdays instead. It would be a wait-and-see approach.

Meanwhile, despite the initial letdown of having to schedule an induction I had already began processing it and was accepting that the weekend was looking like I would have Forest. So when plans changed it threw me for a bit of a loop but at the same time I was happy to have one last weekend for ourselves again and for us to do a few final things around the house. It would also give us a chance to try all of the natural induction techniques/ideas that are floated about. We tried all sorts of things but I drew the line at castor oil. I had read and watched enough videos on You Tube to know that it could work but I was not interested in the violent upset stomach that came with it. And of course none of those other techniques worked for us. No contractions or real twinges to be excited about. By the end of Labor Day I knew that the chance of induction was likely but wasn’t sure if it would be earlier or later in the week.

Tuesday morning we got up and finished packing the car. We’d had a lot of stuff packed for over a week, since the time we’d gone down to Surfside to visit friends. I needed to throw a few last minute items together and then we left a little early to get breakfast tacos at the gas station and return a Red Box movie. The appointment we had was the earliest I’d had at the office and it was very quiet when we arrived at 8:30. The receptionist waved me in and said she’d sign us in so we sat down to wait. Meanwhile the doctor’s office called me while I was sitting there and I mistakenly swiped ignore instead of accept on my phone. I don’t know what I was thinking, probably that I was sitting in the office right then so why would they be calling me?

Shortly after, my midwife’s nurse came out to say that the doctor had called and said for us to head on over to the hospital to check in for the induction. Chris and I were a little taken aback because we’d been expecting to talk to our midwife or the doctor first before any plans were made. We began asking all sorts of questions that the nurse couldn’t really answer so she went back and got her phone and called my midwife. When she answered I pummeled her with all of the questions that were on our mind, particularly wondering if the plan of action was still the same—Cervidil followed by Pitocin later on. Turned out that the plans had changed as the doctor thought I was dilated enough to skip the Cervadil and we could go straight to Pitocin. This wasn’t what I was wanting at all, knowing that contractions on Pitocin are stronger and can offer little respite once they get going. I had been hoping that the Cervadil would start contractions enough for me to skip the Pitocin, or least offer up a different chance of keeping with as natural of a birth at possible. I wasn’t happy with this new change but after we both talked to the midwife to get reassurance for her and her husband’s concerns we accepted the course of action and headed for the hospital.

At this point we began discussing how to inform work and our parents. We began by calling my mom and I finished wrapping up that conversation with her as we pulled into the front drop-off area at the hospital. Chris and I had decided that our parents could drive on down and he would send them text updates every few hours but we wanted them to stay at the hotel and wait before coming up to the hospital in an effort to keep everything as calm as it could be while I was in labor. Briefly Chris called his mom and I texted a coworker to let her know we’d not be in that day, or the rest of the week.

It felt a little like we were going for a hotel stay with the amount of stuff we’d packed, but we didn’t know how long we’d be there so we had options for several days. Up on the labor and delivery floor we were buzzed in to the secure ward after we let them know we were there for an induction. The labor and delivery wing is split off from the recovery wing and we wandered a few minutes trying to figure out where we needed to go since the nurse’s station wasn’t situated up front. After finally figuring out where the nurse’s station was and informing them why we were there we were directed to the L&D room 3. We were in the room by about 9am and three nurses came by to begin going over my medical history and to give me a gown to change into. We had a good view facing south and I could look out the panoramic windows at the clouds floating through the sky.

With the natural labor I had planned on having only a hep-lock placed in case of the need for an IV later on in labor but now that I was going to be started on Pitocin I had a full on IV inserted into the back of my right hand which would flow the saline and Pitocin for the rest of the day. I was also hooked up full time to the external fetal monitors which were a super pain in the ass as they tended to slip every time I moved. In addition I had a blood pressure cuff attached to my arm that came on every 15 minutes to measure my blood pressure automatically. It took about two hours for the medical work up and to get everything inserted and going, so by 11am the Pitocin drip had started. The drip was turned to 8ml/h initially and it took awhile for me to really feel anything, at least an hour. The nurses were very nice. One of them had had four natural births and another had had one epidural birth and another natural birth. Needless to say I was incredibly jealous of their natural birth opportunities. One of the nurses wasn’t all that keen on the fact that we had a birth plan but we gave it to her anyway despite her protestations and the fact that it had already been changed.

One thing I was very happy about was that I was able to drink water during this time. We’d been told that it would be ice chips and popsicles only but when I found out I could actually drink water I was ecstatic! Not only that, when lunch time rolled around I was given a liquid only food tray which consisted of some broth, a popsicle, jello, and juice. I had been thankful that I’d eaten two breakfast tacos and some zucchini bread that morning. The lunch tray boosted my mental happiness a bit knowing I would have some energy to get through the afternoon. I’d been worried that I’d be laboring on nothing, especially after hearing stories from others who weren’t able to eat.

Sometime shortly after lunch my midwife came to check on me and to break my water bag. I was dilated to 3cm at this point. This is another procedure I don’t recommend. Cervical checks were painful—hahahah—this was worse! The Pitocin had started kicking in a little bit so I had begun to feel contractions but they were still relatively mild. By breaking the water bag it would speed along the contractions and get the process moving. I felt like she was up there with her crochet needle for hours instead of minutes and would have loved nothing more than for it to have been over with or not to have happened at all. At last I felt the trickle of water come out and both she and another nurse spoke with relief that it was clear. I have no doubt that if there had been meconium in the water it would have been an immediate trip to the OR for a c-section at that time. Since it was clear, I was able to continue laboring on the Pitocin which was amped up a few points. After that, every time I felt something leaking onto the pads that were situated beneath me on the bed I would tell Chris that I couldn’t quite tell if I was peeing or if it was the amniotic fluid. And every time I changed positions more fluid would leak out. It was on the gross side.

While the contractions were relatively mild in the early afternoon I tried to quietly nap or shut my eyes for a few hours. Chris sat on the long bench along the window playing music from the Mumford & Sons station on Pandora and reading various things on the internet. He spent quite a bit of time trying to figure out how to get a wireless speaker system to connect to my computer and ended up running out to get some lunch and a cord to connect the speaker to the computer while my contractions were light and manageable.

Sometime around 2:30 I had another check and was up to 4.5cm dilated. The Pitocin was dialed up again to 16 ml/h and by then contractions rolling consistently. I was able to ride through them fairly well, breathing through them and taking them as a wave. It was really only about 10-20 seconds of pain and tenseness followed by the release and then I could talk again. It was strange feeling the slow wave in my abdomen, my belly rising and tightening. The first time I started feeling the contractions after they had started the Pitocin I thought it was Forest moving, doing his push up to the top of my stomach bit, only to realize that it was a contraction instead. Since the contractions were coming in harder I began feeling them in my lower back. Chris was able to heat up a homemade rice towel that our Bradley birth coach teacher had given us. It came in extremely handy and relieved some of the tension in my lower back during those strong contractions.

At nearly 4pm the OB came by to see how things were going. I’d met him for the first time when my midwife had come in to break my water several hours earlier. The Pitocin was dialed up again to 18ml/h. By 5pm the contractions were much stronger and were coming every two minutes and lasting about a minute each time. I’d been laboring in the bed the entire time and hadn’t gotten up except for a few times to use the restroom. That was a feat in itself, getting up for the bathroom. We had to unplug the fetal monitor and the blood pressure cuff and then I had to walk with the IV into the bathroom. Trying to time getting up on the downside of a contraction and get up fast enoough to get across the room before another started was an ordeal. I think I only made it once, before the contractions were coming faster, to the bathroom before a contraction and at least once I had to stop midway and lean on the door for support to get through the height of a contraction. I’d started feeling nauseous not long after the last dial up of the Pitocin and was offered some anti-nausea medication which I gladly accepted. The heat from the rice towel started bothering me and I switched to needing a cool rag on my forehead instead.

It was around 6pm that I began fighting the contractions instead of rolling with them. The nurse came back in to check my cervix again and I was still at 5cm two hours after the Pitocin had been amped up again. It was disheartening. I was hoping for at least 7cm. The nurse had been talking to my midwife after the cervical checks and it had been suggested that if I hadn’t dilated further, for the nurses to insert an IUPC to measure the effectivness of my contractions. We’d never heard about this device before so we put to use some of our Bradley class training in regards to weighing the risks and benefits of various interventions. Since I was fighting the contractions and feeling down about not progressing further, the word epidural came out of my mouth. Chris convinced me to hold off for at least an hour. After we got more information about the IUPC we decided to go ahead and have it put in so we could determine if the dosage of Pitocin was too high or too low before making a call on the epidural. I got upset about the thought of having the Pitocin being dialed up again, feeling that if I was fighting contractions now, how was I going to be hours later? Chris really tried his best to keep me from continuing down the epidural path, saying that he really thought something was about to happen, that I’d be turning a corner soon. Meanwhile he’d been texting our Bradley birth coach, Becca, for advice and mentioned that maybe we should try getting up on a birth ball or sitting in the rocking chair that was tucked in the corner next to the bench Chris was sitting on. Becca even offered to come up and work through it with us, which I turned down. I didn’t want more distractions and felt like what control I had, I was quickly losing. To me more people in the room just equated things to spin out of control.

Meanwhile since I mentioned the word epidural the nurse checked on the anesthesiologist to see if he was even around in case I firmly decided on getting an epidural later on. We waited out that hour between 6 and 7 and sometime near 7pm the anesthesiologist came in to talk to us and see how things were going. The nurse had also given us the option of Stadol being dripped through my IV but after talking to the anesthesiologist he did not recommend going that route for pain relief due to the fact that it was a narcotic and that it could last anywhere from 15 minutes or 2 hours depending on the person. The anesthesiologist was on the cocky side and while he tried to come off nice he also had an attitude. Despite that, we trusted the information he was giving us and we told him to give us a few minutes to think about it. We would have waited longer to decide but he was heading for a two hour surgery in which he couldn’t leave. Paired with the increasing liklihood that the Pitocin was going to be turned up after the readings from the IUPC came back, I didn’t think I could handle two more hours of Pitocin contractions without some kind of pain relief. That, and I was worried that I wouldn’t dilate further and it would increase my chances of ending up in a c-section. If I could relax some, then perhaps I would be able to progress further and still birth him vaginally. At this point I’d labored for 8 hours on Pitocin contractions.

This is the part of the story that if I’d known what was to come I would have gotten my ass out of the bed and tried something different for those two hours. It might not have affected the outcome of the story but I wonder what that option would have lead to. It’s not something I dwell on much, but I do think about it.

We opted for the epidural. It happened to be a shift change so we had a new set of nurses and I was just getting to know the new main nurse helping me out. Chris opted to leave the room and get dinner down in the cafeteria while the anesthesiologist put in the epidural since he doesn’t have a good history with seeing needles—he faints. The anesthesiologist had me sit up on the edge of the bed and the nurse had me slightly slouch in order to provide a good curve for the epidural to be inserted. Of course I’m having these wretched contractions all the while this is going on, so I’m trying to breathe through them all and having to listen to the anesthesiologist try to distract me by carrying on a conversation and telling odd-ball jokes. I really just wanted to tell him to shut up and leave me alone but I was chasing the pain relief, too. He poked something into my spinal area that hurt/shocked me and I was about to flip out on him if it was going to continue like that. I’d tolerate the contractions instead of something that horrid. Apparently it wasn’t the right spot or something and he apologised and finally got it into the right spot.

It took a few minutes for the epidural to take effect. I was still feeling the contractions and the feeling of cold washed through my body as the epidural coursed through my blood. Chris came back in the room and I they got me situated in the bed. Since I wouldn’t be able to walk with the epidural I had a catheter inserted to collect urine. I was happy that the epidural was working when they got that going as I only felt a little pressure and nothing else. Soon they were asking if I felt the contraction that was showing up on the monitor and I was happy to report I was not. It felt relaxing but a little surreal not being able to feel anything lower than my breasts.

I laid back in bed and Chris came over to sit closer to me since I wasn’t able to move myself well. The nurses came back in to check on me as did the anesthesiologist before he left for his surgery. I mentioned that I felt like the epidural was higher than it was supposed to be as my arms seemed a little numb. The anesthesiologist checked my ability to feel in certain areas—I’m not sure if he just pressed with his fingers at this point or if he used some ice in a glove like he ended up doing later on—but he seemed ok with the epidural and its reach. My blood pressure dropped at this point, too. It had been high, abnormally for me, which I didn’t know until after they did the epidural. It dipped down into the 90s/60s, which when I’m really fit and healthy it can be that low, but going from the 150s/80s down to that it was a bit of a shock to my system.

After the anesthesiologist left I continued to lay back and shortly after I started getting the shakes. Chris thought I was cold but I wasn’t and the nurse said that the shakes are a side effect of the epidural. At this point I had some control of my arms despite the fact they were quite numb, however my arms were shaking quite uncontrollably. Chris was sitting on my left holding my hands and arms as best as he could. I was tired and trying to relax and sleep a little so my eyes were closed for a lot of it. I’d jolt and he’d hold my arms down again and keep asking if I was cold, to which I consistently replied that I was not. The nurse came back in awhile later to check my dilation and I’d gone from 5cm to 7cm over the hour. That was great to hear! Progress was being made!

Meanwhile I continued to get the shakes but I felt the epidural creeping upward still, slowly numbing my arms even further and feeling as if the epidural was settling in at my shoulders. I mentioned once again to the nurse that I felt the epidural was too high, both in terms of elevation on my body and as far as intensity on the drip. I’d always heard that you could still feel to push with an epidural, but everything below my breasts felt dead to the world. I tried to test myself to squeeze my butt or twitch my leg a bit and nothing would happen. The nurse said everything was fine, that I would definitely know when to push and that blood pressure had stabilized and everything was looking good with me and the baby. I took her for her word but still felt quite uneasy.

This is when things started getting freakier for me. I began having problems trying to clear my throat of some phlegm and continually tried to swallow or cough it up but could barely muster up a weak and pitiful cough that was not going to scratch my throat in any way to hack up anything. . Breathing felt labored, whether it was or it wasn’t in apperance from another perspective, but I felt like I had to focus on breathing. I continued to have the phlegm issue and asked Chris for an ice chip to see if that would help swish it down my throat. I’d had a couple of ice chips before after receiving the epidural and had swallowed them down fairly easily so I thought I’d try another ice chip to relieve the itch in my throat. Biggest mistake ever.

Immediately the ice chip was stuck in my throat and I had no energy in my throat muscles to get it down. I sat there wheezing, trying to force words out of my mouth as I leaned over towards Chris asking for help. I know my eyes got wide and I saw my left arm flail about in the air. I had no perception that I was moving it or if it was moving on its own. I couldn’t feel it. Chris began pancking and I tried to hold my head up and continued to weakly cough as he flew out of the room for the nurses station. I really thought I was going to choke to death there and die. There was absolutely no control, I felt, of getting out of the situation.

Shortly after Chris ran out to the hall, at least three nurses came in and began assesing the situation. They were concerned but not nearly as concerned as I thought they should have been, or at least that’s how it appeared to me. Apparently, because I was attemping to cough, my airways were open enough that they weren’t excessively worried, at least not yet. When I was able to mumble something I repeated that I had told them several times that I had thought the epidural was too high, that it was more of a dose than I needed and it was too high up on my body. Chris explained to them about the phlegm and how I couldn’t clear my throat and how we ended up with an ice chip. The nurses went out to try to get ahold of the anesthesiologist but he was still wrapping up his time in surgery. I didn’t hear this part of the conversation but Chris says that after one of the nurses told the other nurses the anesthesiologist was still in surgery that the other nurse demanded he be taken out of surgery to come and check on my epidural and situation. The nurses then checked my dilation out after they got me able to cough what I could up. I was at 9cm! I was thrilled with this news but still reeling from what had just happened. The anesthesiologist was coming up as quickly as he could but in the meantime he had given them orders to turn off the epidural and put me on oxygen. As soon as the epidural started wearing off up top I began feeling better immediately. That, paired with having the oxygen, calmed me down. It’s hard to accurately express how serious the situation felt to me and appeared to Chris.

Eventually the anesthesiologist came back into the room to check on my situation and I know that he and Chris stepped out of the room for a bit and there were some words said. I’m not sure what exactly but the anesthesiologist did come back later and apologise for something he said. I don’t know if it really was too high of a dosage or not, but the explanation was that sometimes the epidural doesn’t just stay lower than the insertion point, that sometimes it’ll travel upwards. That’s fine, but when a patient is telling you that they feel like that is happening, don’t ignore them!

I was so happy to have the epidural off but knew that as it slowly wore off in my lower extremeties I’d begin feeling contractions again. I was fairly ok with this happening at this point in time, and it would allow me to be able to feel when I needed to push. I was hoping that now that I was at 9cm that it wouldn’t be terribly long before I’d be at 10cm with all systems go and ready to push. My midwife and her husband the OB were headed towards the hospital after the nurses had explained to them what had happened with the epidural. Since I was so close to being fully dilated, it seemed that transition and pushing were near.

It was around 11pm when my midwife arrived to check on me. I could feel a little bit of pressure as she checked my cervix this time around but it wasn’t painful or uncomfortable, I just knew that the epidural was wearing off more. And then the bad news came. I was still at 9cm and -2 station, the -2 station being the bad part in that the baby was not moving down at all. This had been part of the concern, that his head was too big and he wouldn’t come out vaginally, or if his head would come out that his shoulders would get stuck and we’d have the dystocia problem. It was at this point that I was upset with myself for not trying to get out of bed before the epidural, to do squats or something in an effort to move his head down. My midwife voiced her concerns and Chris and I looked at each other and knew that it was time to consent to the c-section. I’d tried as hard as I thought I could, maybe not enough—I don’t know—, but that was the situation we were presented with. I was mostly fearful of having to turn the epidural back on, wondering about laying on the OR table and not being able to cough or talk, wondering if I was going to choke again.

Things got moving quickly after that, preparing the OR and me for surgery. Chris was handed the typical blue surgical coverings to go over his clothes so he could be in the OR with me. I got a blue hat to cover my hair and had my earrings taken out. I tried to blow my nose as much as I could before going in so whatever phlegm I had would be out and not dripping down my throat. The anesthesiologist came back in and pushed in a different medication into the epidural tubing for the surgery. It worked quickly and I began numbing up once again. I asked about how long the surgery would take and was told about an hour. I just kept going over it in my head that how was I supposed to get through that hour without being able to feel up to my shoulders? I felt out of control once again.

The OR was just down the hall from our room and behind double doors. Chris was told to wait just outside the doors until they were ready for him, which freaked me out even further. I know it isn’t like he would be able to do anything to help me, but I needed him. I tried to converse with my midwife for a few minutes as they were setting everything up. Music was put on, I heard nurses counting instruments over and over again, and then I started zoning out a bit as the medication creeped upward once more. I remember the anesthesiologist at my head and I guess nurses and maybe the midwife and doctor down lower as they rocked me on the sheet saying something like “One Ninja” and transferring me over to the OR table.

I closed my eyes after that and focused on the oxygen tube that had been placed in my nostrils. I had tried to keep my eyes open as long as I could but started feeling dizzy lying flat on my back. I actually felt like I was tilted with my legs in the air and head down, which is probably what gave me the dizzy feeling. The anesthesiolgist tested out my feeling once again with a glove filled with ice and was satisfied with the answers I gave him about where I could and couldn’t feel the cold. I guess soon after that they began cutting me open. It was after midnight on September 3rd. I remember feeling my left arm in the air, mostly from my shoulder, and asking the anesthesiologist why my arm was in the air. He said I had kept putting it down below the curtain and he’d been trying to get me to move it backwards. I told him once again that I felt I couldn’t breathe well, that I couldn’t move my arm, and all of the complaints I’d had earlier. He stated back that my blood pressure was good, my pulse ox was good, and that everything was fine on his charts. He even told me to try to press back on my arm, and I did with what might I could even though I couldn’t feel anything, and he said that I was strong and things were ok. I gave up trying to protest after that and focused solely on breathing the oxygen. I tuned out even more.

Briefly I felt a tug and pressure up my abdomen and into my chest, which freaked me out but went away quickly. Very shortly after I heard Forest’s cries and I remember thinking in astonishment that there had really been a baby inside me! I wanted to open my eyes but dared not until somehow in the din of the OR and haze of my head I heard someone say to look up. I did. He was being held over the curtain and I saw his little feet and legs, covered in blood and goo from being inside me. I looked as long as I could but felt the dizziness take over again and quickly shut my eyes. I don’t remember much after that, just Forest’s cries and then I fell asleep. I moved in an out of consciousness a few times, hearing noise and various conversations but focusing on nothing in particular and then slipping back into the haze. I heard Chris come over to my left with the baby and he wanted me to open my eyes. I think I flicked them open once but immediately got dizzy and mumbled something about “I couldn’t”. I don’t remember much more in the OR after that.

When I woke up again they were prepping to ‘Ninja’ move me back over to my bed. That move threw me off more and the dizziness turned to nausea, something I had been trying to avoid the entire time. I still had little control over my throat at this point and it was all I could do to focus on breathing still. As soon as I was back in my bed I told them I needed to sit up, that I was going to throw up. I was still scared to death of choking at this point. The movement of the bed as they wheeled me back down the hall, bumping over a doorway threshold, just enough to bring the vomit up. They finally elevated my head up to where I felt I had some control and could meekly cough up anything that was in my throat. I just tilted my head down and started spitting what I could muster, not caring. I had no idea where Chris was at this point in time. The nurses came with these blue conical shaped barf bags and held them up to my face. Finally I was able to open my eyes enough to not feel dizzy and was able to focus on what had just happened.

Chris came in and had been at the nursery with the baby for the last while. He’d left Forest to get his bath and sit under the heat lamp for a bit to come back and check on me. I let him know that I’d been sick and that I’d not been very aware of anything that had gone on during the surgery. One of the things I had been looking forward to was hearing the lullaby music that gets played over the hospital’s intercom system when a baby is born. We’d heard it at the breastfeeding class we’d taken and I had been excited to hear it play for my son. Chris was excited to tell me about it, that he and Forest had gone over and pushed the button ‘together’, but I was incredibly sad to know that I had not heard it at all.

Slowly the medication began wearing off once again and I was able to feel my upper body a little better. It was nearly 1:30am and I still hadn’t seen Forest. I decided to call my parents to talk to them for a few minutes. Chris had already let everyone know that we were all ok and that the baby had arrived, but I knew my parents were going to want to hear from me. I didn’t talk long, just long enough to say that I felt pretty crappy.

Not long after Forest was wheeled into the room in his hospital bassinet. Chris got him out and brought him over to me! He was adorable! He looked just like the last ultrasound photo we’d had the week before! I held him for awhile and we took some photos with him before finally settling in for the night. We were definitely in awe of the little dude that had just arrived, even if it had been a bit traumatic for us. It was nearly 3am before we tried to get some sleep and after I’d attempted my first round of nursing. Needless to say we have very little sleep between 3 and 7am when we were moved to a recovery room. My parents and Chris’ mom and step-dad came by at nearly 8am and I could barely keep my eyes open. Before they came though, Chris opened the window in the recovery room, which faced east, for Forest to see his first sunrise. We’ve marked the sunrises pretty much every morning since.

There’s a lot more to write about and to say about having Forest in our life. But, I think I’ve written long enough for this post. His birth wasn’t what I had planned but we’ve come to terms with our decisions and believe we made the right ones with the information we had at the time. The c-section recovery hasn’t been as difficult as I imagined, but I of course have weeks left to recuperate before I’m capable of doing normal things again. We definitely feel that our Bradley classes helped us immensely in making appropriate decisions and weighing all of the pros and cons of the interventions we had. We love our little dude and we are constantly amazed that he’s in our life!

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