Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Isla's Birth Story

You'd think this being my third birth, I'd be an old hat at the whole birth deal and the baby would just walk right on out, right?

Well, her birth was beautiful and stunning, but also full of unexpected twists. 

I'll start at the beginning... on Monday, April 18 I was 39 weeks and more than ready to get this show on the road! My midwife was extremely supportive and offered to do a membrane sweep to get things going.  I had been having tons of contractions and after the sweep, I had a ton more, but I expected it to still be a couple more days.

Wednesday afternoon, one o' clock sharp, I stood up from the sofa to let my mom inside from her grocery store errand and felt a gush - my water had broken! There was no doubt about it, we'd be having Baby Girl in the next 24 hours!

There was such a rush of emotions - adrenaline, anxiety, excitement - I had to take a minute to just settle myself and get focused! I was equally thrilled and equally nervous about what was to come.  Since we were having a home birth, there was a lot of preparation to get started on - I changed our sheets, organized our home birth supplies, took a freezer meal out to thaw, and called up Chris and our birth team to come on over.

I fully expected this labor to be slow, slow, slow for the first few hours, then suddenly kick into high gear at transition and be super fast after that.  And for the beginning, it absolutely was: manageable contractions about every five minutes, just painful enough to breathe through. Just like my last birth with Chase, my goal was to have fun during the whole process!  We totally did - two of my dearest friends, Nina and Emily, were there for support for Chris and me.  It was lovely to have such a light-hearted way to spend the afternoon, especially since I was starting to get impatient as the afternoon wore into evening and my contractions were still irregular and I wasn't nearing transition as fast as I expected. 

During every contraction, I made my way to Chris, who wrapped his arms around me and held me close.  One of my favorite parts of labor is the incredible feeling of closeness with Chris - it's such an intimate thing, and feeling supported by him was amazing.

Around 6:30, Nina reminded Chris to make sure to eat something to keep his strength and energy up (another reason to LOVE having extra support at a birth, extra people to support hubby!), so I took a little nap while everyone ate dinner downstairs. 

Time started to blur a bit after dinner.  I felt myself start to slip inside my head and body more as labor went on - the pain wasn't necessarily worse yet, but I felt things changing and knew I would need all my concentration and energy for the next few hours.  We all agreed it wasn't quite time to get in the birthing tub yet (we didn't want to slow labor down), so Nina suggested a nice warm shower which ended up being perfect.  As soon as I was getting out of the shower, our midwife team arrived.

Suddenly, I felt like I was nearing or in transition. Contractions were hard and fast, with a ton of pain in my back.  I got into the glorious warm tub (and as always, immediately felt some pain relief).  Chris rubbed my back during contractions, while I held on for dear life to Nina's and Emily's hands. They were all tireless the whole long day and night, massaging me and encouraging me.

After hours of hard labor, I couldn't believe I wasn't ready to push.  I felt like I HAD to be at ten centimeters, but I didn't feel "pushy" even a little.  Augustine, our amazing and skilled midwife, checked me for dilation and suggested I get out of the tub to labor on my hands and knees for a while.  I spent some time on the bed, moaning in pain with each horrible contraction, complaining about how it was so much more painful than my last two labors.  I COULD NOT believe how painful these contractions were - I had awful back labor, which felt ten times worse than normal contractions.  The stabbing pain was absolutely overwhelming - as much as I tried to accept the pain, to let it do its work, I couldn't let go of it. I was petrified that this would last for hours and hours more - how could I possibly stand it?

By this point, I was absolutely desperate to be done with labor.  I just wanted our baby out!  Augustine had another suggestion, to try laboring on the toilet. Apparently women frequently labor well while on the toilet, so in hopes of doing ANYTHING to get the baby down and out, I tried it out.

I'm not sure how long I was there, but I finally started feeling like I could push.  Augustine came in and asked me if I was comfortable, if I wanted to move to the birthing tub.  But at this point, I was pretty sure I would need a crane to get me up.  I had absolutely zero energy left to move even a few feet.  Augustine gently asked me if I was sure - if I didn't move now, I'd be having our baby on the toilet.  At that moment, I didn't care if I had the baby in the middle of Grand Central Station, I was absolutely not able to move until that baby was out of me!

And yet, one more reason to love love love having a midwife instead of a normal hospital birth - Augustine totally and completely followed my lead.  She expertly slipped a chucks pad under the toilet seat (so the baby wouldn't fall into the toilet!), wedged herself into our tiny water closet, and prepared to birth our baby in a horribly uncomfortable crouched position against the door. 

I'm not quite sure how everyone managed to fit in the 2 feet by 4 feet space that our toilet is in: Nina there supporting me, Augustine ready to catch, Chris next to me, an assistant midwife and Emily in the doorway - it was amazing.

Finally being able to push was the biggest relief.  Knowing the pain would soon be over and we would finally meet our baby girl was a huge boost.  As excruciating as it was to feel our baby girl moving out, it was also thrilling to know that it was only a short time left before we were two separate beings. I kept hearing Nina's encouraging words on repeat in my head: "After today, you will never not know what her face looks like!"  

8 minutes of pushing later, and our baby girl finally entered the world. I reached down and pulled her up, up onto my chest against my heart. I was so grateful it was all over, so thankful to see her sweet face all covered in vernix, I couldn't stop the tears from streaming down my face.  

She was beautiful, perfect, gorgeous in every way. The feeling of her weight on my chest is something I will never forget - those first moments with each of my children as they came into the world, safe and full of promise.

Isla Marielle was born at 12:31 am on Thursday, April 21.  Our daughter - our dream come true.

Isla was born sunny side up (face up - usually, babies are born facing backwards), which is why I had such horrific back labor.  She also had the cord wrapped around her neck as she was coming out, which was a total non-issue for our highly experienced midwife.

After her birth, my amazing birth team helped us over to the bed so I could hold Isla skin to skin and nurse her.  I had to be stitched up a bit (ouch), and then my mom brought up champagne for us all to toast to new life.

Finally, at 3;00 am, Augustine gave us some final instructions for postpartum care; Emily and Nina kissed us goodbye, and Chris and I snuggled together in the bed with Isla between us.  I was sore and tired, but nothing could dim the joy at seeing our sweet daughter lying there.

As overjoyed as I was with our incredible little baby, I had some intense feelings after Isla's birth. Vague feelings of disappointment, even though I had nothing to be disappointed about. I had thought I knew what to expect, how I would react and handle birth. I had expected to rock my birth, to be strong and brave and empowered. Instead I was railroaded, bowled over by a pain so intense I couldn't have imagined it. It wasn't the peaceful waterbirth I had envisioned; it was raw and animalistic, out of control and entirely unexpected. I had to grieve a little bit, let go of my hopes for what I had wanted and accept what I had been given. I had to let go of my embarrassment for my long birth, with loud guttural moans and tears of pain.

Time and time again, my children have taught me important lessons about life.  Isla's lesson began before she was even born: sometimes HOW you arrive somewhere is not as important.  Sometimes the journey isn't going to be peaceful, predictable, and as expected. Sometimes (ok, most of the time), things will be out of my control.  The important thing is to keep going, plow through as gracefully as possible, and be grateful for the end result.

It's been almost five weeks since Isla arrived, and even though she is our third baby, I'm still completely overwhelmed by how much I love her, how much my heart has expanded to love her so much, and somehow even love her brothers even more as I watch them tenderly hug and kiss her. I'm spending every moment soaking up the beautiful newborn stage, so bittersweet since I'm aware how quickly it goes!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016


We are thrilled to introduce our sweet little Isla Marielle!  Born April 21 at 12:31 am, weighing 7 lbs 8 ounces.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Baby Girl's Cherry Blossom Nursery!

I'll be honest: I've been planning out the perfect baby girls' nursery for years and years.  Something peaceful, bright, feminine but not girly - and even in all my dreams, I couldn't have imagined a room that turned out more perfectly!  I'm so happy with it!
This room used to be Cole's room.  In January, we moved Cole into Chase's room so the boys could share.  We did this for a couple reasons:  First of all, Cole had been begging to share a room (even his bed!) with Chase.  He loves his brother! Also, we thought it would be easier to transition Cole to a new room than Chase (being older and slightly more flexible with a new routine).  Lastly, since I just painted Chase's room two years ago, I super didn't want to paint it again, and Cole's old room really needed new paint.  The boys have loved sharing a room together and I had an absolute blast making Baby Girl's room perfect!
Ok. So photo overload ahead of Baby Girl's cherry blossom nursery.
I first repainted the dark gray walls to a lighter gray.  When you walk in the doorway, the first thing you see is this canvas painting I did.  Don't look too close, I'm a total novice painter, but the effect is good and it was free (I already had the canvas and paints): 

The ornate frame on the opposite wall to the door was a $1 yard sale find.  It was originally silver with a broken mirror, I tossed the broken pieces and spray painted it white.  And Baby Girl's name starts with an "I" :)
The empty frames behind the crib were all hideously ugly frames I purchased from thrift stores for $.10-$1.00 each and spray painted.

The crib was a very generous hand-me-down from my sister and her family! Our old crib was 18 years old and really starting to show its age.  I love the white on this one, it's so fresh and clean!
I sewed the pillow (it might be one of my favorite things in this room!) and ordered the crib bumper offline.  Ok, so the bumper was a fiasco.  I have had my heart set on a cherry blossom crib set from Restoration Hardware for years and years...but unfortunately, they discontinued the line last year!  And I could not find ANY fabric that matched even a little.  I scoured ebay for months, searching for sheets or pillow cases, anything I could finagle to make the bumpers.  Ebay had a couple sets for sale occasionally, but the bidding would go up to $65 +, without shipping!  I was trying really hard to do this whole room for less than $50 if possible.  Just as I resigned myself to making do with plain pink, I found a set for sale - for only $20, on a Varage Sale website in Louisiana!  It took forever and a lot of persistence to get in contact with the buyer and convince her to ship it to me, but I think it was totally worth it!
I sewed the bed skirt from some plain pink fabric, then added a painted on cherry blossom design. The original Restoration Hardware version had it embroidered on, but I took the easy way out!
I made the mobile from fishing line, a couple sticks from our yard, and some scrapbook paper birds.  It's hard to see well, but it looks really beautiful in person.
Paper lanterns! To be honest, I've had the paper lanterns so long I don't even know how much they were.  They were super cheap from the paperlanternstore.com.  The other hanging balls I made - one pink tissue paper, one silver lame, and one with pink flower cutouts pinned onto a Styrofoam ball.  All hung with fishing line.
Oh! this chair. I am so so happy with this chair! I still had our old rocker from Chase and Cole, but it is getting OLD.  That thing was like 19 years old! It squeaked and didn't have padded arms - so I really really wanted an upholstered rocker.  I spent SO many hours rocking Chase to sleep and nursing him in the rocker, I wanted something really comfortable and luxurious.  But again, everything I liked was so expensive! Finally a couple of weeks ago, someone posted this leather rocking recliner for sale on a Facebook site - she was only asking $25! After I made arrangements to come pick it up, the seller let me know that it was actually in worse shape than she thought with some marker marks, tears in the back, and small holes in a couple places - so she let me have it for free!

After a scrub down and some super glue hole patching, the chair was looking better.  I didn't love the cream color, but I didn't want to reupholster, so after a lot of research I came back to my old standby - spray paint! Rusteoleum brand makes a vinyl upholstery spray paint - I took a chance on it and I absolutely could not be happier! The coverage was great, there's no cracking or peeling, you can't even tell it's been painted.  It's so comfortable and I'll be happy to even take a few naps or spend some nights in that comfy reclining chair!
Across the room from the crib is the changing table and mural I painted. I originally found a vinyl wall sticker of a cherry blossom tree I loved and wanted to copy, but couldn't figure out a way to project it onto the wall.  So, I did it freehand.  It took forever, but I think it turned out ok.


I couldn't find pink blackout curtains ANYWHERE! But I did some measurements and a flat queen sized bedsheet was almost the perfect dimensions for the window.  I hemmed them, added the blackout lining, did the grommets, and decided at the last minute to paint on the cherry blossom design on the curtains as well so they would match the bed skirt. I think the total cost for the curtains was around $20 - $9 for the sheet, and $11 for the blackout fabric and grommets (I used a coupon at Joanns).


My mom found this adorable bird cage and bird cage hook hanger for us!

This lamp I found for a dollar at a yard sale when I was pregnant with Cole! I had painted the pink stripe blue while it was in his room.  I quick repainted it pink and added the cherry blossom ribbon around the lampshade.

There's a built in desk and shelving area in the room - I mostly used things from around the house we already had to decorate here.
Some things I purchased - the white vase was an ugly one painted white from the thrift store.  All Baby Girl's hairbows and headbands are in the basket!
I tried my hand at using watercolors for this cherry blossom painting.  Not the best, but the effect is good from a distance.
The little bird was also like ten cents from the thrift store and just needed a quick coat of paint.
My mom also bought this wall quote for us to hang above the closet.  I love love love this sentiment for our little girl!

Hamper is Chase's hamper ($2 yard sale find) repainted and a new lining.

And the finishing touch is these beautiful cherry blossom fabric bins from Restoration Hardware, a gift from my mom.

All that's missing is Baby Girl! Come on out, baby, we can't wait to meet you!
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