Integrate. Streamline. Simplify.

Hi! This is the first post of my business and personal blog merge! Exciting stuff. Changin’ things up.

It’s all part of this ‘simplify my life’ crusade I’m on right now. I had a busy life before I was also trying to support a small human’s growth and development. Now, I feel like it’s double time. Working from home I feel like I’m constantly being pulled in a million different directions. Marketing. Laundry. Managing. Vacuuming dog hair covered floors. Bookkeeping. Playing outside. Meal prep. Client follow-ups. Blogging. Dishes. Social media managing… now… “throw that person a baby” as Jim Gaffigan would say.

Over the past (almost five!) years, I’ve loved creating, building, and growing my business (Organizing Solutions KC & INTL). Most of you know that it has been my baby. It’s taken me to new parts of the country. It has connected me with some really amazing people who are very dear to my heart.

Buuuttt…. I have another baby now, Veda Jane! It’s hard to believe she’s almost five months old now. Things are starting to balance out more now where work and home are concerned. I’m losing the business social media pages and just keeping it simple here at organizing-kc.com.
All encompassing.

Refocused priorities. Reign it in. Scale down the to-do list. Make it lighter.

Like my hair! I just cut off about 6 inches! And oooooooh my god does it feel good! Before her, I wouldn’t have even considered it. Long beautiful hair looks so great blow-dry styled and curled up all fancy like… but ain’t no body got time for that. Not me, anyway. To keep it from being in the way,  I was just wearing it on a big bun on top of my head which was so heavy it was starting to give me headaches. Now: Wash. Scrunch. Go.
It’s a beautiful thing.

My meal prep game has been on point for the past few weeks. Kelly and I are really getting into a good little weekly food/grocery list system. It takes away that whole “crap, what’s for dinner?” thing plus it’s fun mixing it up and trying out new recipes.

Slightly related: I lost 40 lbs of baby weight! That’s pretty amazing. My body is starting regain it’s strength and I feel more balanced the more the relaxin leaves my body and my hormones stabilize.

I’m so exciiiited about the upcoming holidays! I can’t wait to see everyone! Gma sent the cutest first xmas clothes for Veda! I’ve already gotten some pretty amazing gifts in the mail from my long distance friends and family. Feeling preeeeetty loved right now!

I’m super excited to see what the next year holds. They just keep getting better and better.

4 Months

I started this new blog with high aspirations of writing in it regularly. Ha. Ha.

It’s been a busy few months with little miss Veda Jane, or, as I sometimes like to refer to her, Queen Veda. Her personality is starting to develop more each day which is really cool to watch and participate in. She likes (see: demands) to be introduced to new objects on the reg. She absolutely loooooves getting out of the house and seeing all kinds of new things. I feel like she’s getting bored at home easily. Though, as of right now, there’s been several days of freezing rain keeping us inside most of the day, so I’m sure that contributes to her/our cabin fever. It’s hard to keep her attention for very long because she’s scanning the environment at an amazing rate. She’s already played with every single non-sharp kitchen utensil we own (and a couple of the sharp ones). She gets cranky if we’ve stayed inside too long. This kid neeeeeds the outdoors. Babies need fresh air. Hell, we all do. And really, “a breath of fresh air” is a thing for a reason. Side note: this morning when I was stepping out into the screened porch for a big ol’ gulp of it I stepped on a slug. Poor little guy. Never even saw it comin’. RIP.

Lately we’ve been focused on sleep. A week or so into month 3, she started waking up a lot during the night. Up until then, she had been waking once or twice a night. For a couple days there she was waking up on the hour every freaking hour. Google told us this was a ‘four month sleep regression’ but I better like to think of it as a ‘your baby is at the developmental stage of learning how to enter REM sleep’. As Ashley at Home Holistic said during Mommy + Baby Yoga, it’s not a bad thing. The term regression has such negative connotations. And, thank god, it didn’t last forever (though, while I was “in it” it felt like it was going to).

She’s back to going to sleep around 7:30p, waking up for a change and feed around 2am and waking up around 6am. At 6, we usually bring her back into our bed and I nurse her there while we all lay around waking up and finally drag ourselves out of bed around 7am. This works pretty well for us, I’d say.

We co-slept for a few months with her but right around the 3 month mark, she started getting squirmier at night and none of us were really getting good sleep. Thankfully, we had a pretty painless transition to sleeping in the crib in her room at night. She’d been taking frequent naps in the Rock ‘n Play and sleeping in it at night in our room beside our bed. To get her more used to sleeping in her room, I just started moving the Rock ‘n Play into her room for naps during the day and putting her in the crib to play when she was awake and happy. And BAM, Momma and Daddy get their bed back! Clearing out all of the bedside baby paraphernalia felt really good.

Kelly and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary last month. HOLY crap! What?! I love that I feel like I’ve known him my entire life and yet I’m still learning more about him everyday. One of the reasons I respect and value him so much is that, as an individual, it’s important to him to keep growing and learning. He’s evolving as a person right along with me. And a really cool thing is that we are also both doing it together as a couple. It’s a pretty remarkable partnership. I couldn’t have dreamt up a sexier teammate.

The fact that Kelly and I both work from home right now is completely and totally righteous in almost every way. Kelly spends half of his lunch hour playing with her to give me a mid-day break. (Nap time isn’t considered to me to be a “break” since I’m still “on” and in that “ok, how many things can I get done before this ticking bomb explodes… er, I mean my kid wakes up” mode.) He also takes Veda and Copper out on a walk after work to give me some time in the house alone. I reeeaaaalllly love this quietness. It’s an amazing reset.

As I wrote in my last entry, trying to find that whole balance between being a busy executive and super mom is really hard to do.
The older Veda gets and spends less time sleeping, the more time out of my day I spend actively engaging her. Books, toys, walks, songs, house plants, yoga, Copper, kitchen utensils… rinse, lather and repeat. As her awareness increases, it’s really important to me to be there seeing things for the first time and learning with her. It’s such an amazing process to be a part of. Children’s exponential growth and innate desire to learn is what drew me into being a nanny for all of those years.

The more of the day I spend with her, the less time I have for things like follow-up emails and marketing campaigns. My 40 minute nap times (if we’re lucky) are filled with mad dashes through the dishes, laundry, and dinner prep. When Kelly is taking care of Veda, I chose to do things like make our household’s natural cleaning and body products or some yummy lactation muffins instead of attending business networking meetups or working on search engine optimization.

It seems like my shifting priorities have started really taking shape, and not in the way that I had always imagined. I had envisioned that I’d be this super efficient working mom that would somehow manage to both be dedicated to her work and family. I’d pack my kid around with me everywhere I go, manage and grow my business while my house stays clean, I stay on top of the laundry situation, and feed my family healthy meals.
I’m realizing now how utterly naive and stupid that was.

The past few weeks I’ve been working on a bomb ass Organic Cleaning Workshop that I’m suuuuper excited to teach in a couple weeks. That has taken up most of my “do the dishes/laundry/take a shower” breaks. While I am soooo excited to bust out the cleaning ingredients and play with different essential oil combinations with some of my favorite ladies, I will be equally relieved when it’s over. Having the added pressure of another project on my to-do list is not very cool.

I feel like 2016 is going to be a year of simplifying for me. I’m not sure what all that entails, but I do know that it is absolutely necessary. I have already done quite a bit of it in the later half of this year (mostly by necessity). Already, I am no longer going out on house-call organizing jobs. The work I have been doing has been from home with small business development and remote e-organizing. Honestly, I just don’t know what I have the time for at this point.

Today I deleted a bunch of mobile apps on my phone. I am so tired of the constant chatter coming in from every direction. I definitely don’t have the time or desire to go in those directions. I’m really thinking I need to  e-streamline… like purging outdated files, closing accounts I never use, start the year with a fresh inbox and filing system.

This also means changes for my business and website. While I will still do organizing jobs with help from the talented Nicole, I need to trim the business to-do list. I wish Veda slept all days sometimes just so I could get some work done. No longer do I want to walk by my whiteboard full of  to-dos and feel totally unable to do it all. I am prioritizing. Instead of trying to grow this business, I’m going to focus on Veda growing.

I’ve been working on simplifying both my business and personal blogs, deleting the business social media pages that don’t get the attention required, and leaving several of my business networking groups. Already, I can feel the weight lifting off of my shoulders. I still have quite a bit of tweaking to do but I’m started in the right direction. I see my business life evolving into more part-time consulting/teaching workshops and leaving a ton of that day time open for Veda. I’m really excited about the changes. It’s taken a few months of some serious introspection, but I’m pretty happy about how these changes will have a really positive effect on our family.

Overall, I think I could really do without the whole first 3 months.  Dealing with an extremely unpredictable little person who is actually going to grow up and become a real live person someday, but right now just seems like a mostly screamy, sometimes adoringly cute, little ball of muscle… is soooooo exhausting. After that, though, things have started to get a whole lot better. Schedules and routines are so amazing.

I’m so excited to be present with Veda as she grows and learns about living and loving.

Organic Cleaning Workshop

Saturday, December 12th at 1pm

hOMe family holistic center
7927 Floyd St, Overland Park, KS 66204

Are the household cleaning products you’re using *really* safe for your family and the environment? Most of the “green” cleaners found in stores aren’t actually safe; often times they are packed with toxic substances such as dyes, fragrances, and carcinogens that are harmful to our skin, respiratory tracts and entire endocrine system as well as polluting waterways and wildlife.

We’ll talk about some of the most common store bought household cleaners and explore the ingredients. What we find may surprise you.

At this workshop, learn how to clean your entire house with just a few common and inexpensive all-natural ingredients and essentials oils that are safe for your family and still leave your home sparkling clean and smelling fresh.

Do you have questions about how to clean a certain area without harsh chemicals? What’s the best bathroom and kitchen cleaner? How do you get rid of stains?

Join us to create your own organic cleaning kit with everything you’ll need to clean your house from top to bottom safely and naturally. As we compile the cleaning kit, we will talk about each ingredient and some of it’s best cleaning uses. You’ll create a cute caddy of organic cleaning products to use at home, customized from a variety of essential oils.

Space is limited to 12 people. Register online here. The cost is $50 and includes complete cleaning kit.

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5 Weeks

Veda is five weeks old today.
Holy crap. Five weeks have already flown by… and at times, dragged on and on forever.

Connecting and communicating with a new person is always kind of challenging. With a new baby, it’s like trying to read the mind of a very small and adorably squishy sociopath. It’s a good thing there’s all that beautiful oxytocin floating around to keep a woman sane.

Good thing, it’s been easier and easier each week.

After sleeping for what seemed like two days after that insanely long labor, having to stay in bed all day that first week majorly sucked. It’s a good thing my amaaaazing sexy husband was here to take such good care of us. Keeping me hydrated by refilling my water glass was a huge task on it’s own.  And then there was the cooking and cleaning… this man, I tell ya. He’s the absolute best. Though I’m not a stay-in-bed kinda person, it’s exactly what my body and Veda needed. It was magical just to hold and stare at Veda while laying in bed getting to know her. Breastfeeding is really hard (and painful) that first week, but I stuck with it, raw nips and all.

Week two was easier. One word: MILK! I also received my placenta pills and after taking those, the post-partum bleeding eased up a bit. Thank goodness, too. Except to wake up once to eat, Veda started sleeping through the night. This was SO welcome. Kelly and I were very appreciative to finally get some decent sleep. After those first days in bed sleeping with the bedroom curtains closed, we started opening up the house to get full sunlight during the day and taking Veda outside in the sun for a little bit each day and kept the house dark at night. That really helped Veda tune her circadian rhythms.

Week three Kelly’s parents flew up from Houston to visit. Being the first real visitors we’d had, it was really nice spending time with them. We had our first outing to the Strawberry Swing which was preeeeetty cool. Pretty bummed I hadn’t been able to participate that season. Henry bought Veda a super cute Carly Rae Print. I also started mommy+baby yoga class which was sooo refreshing. It was amazing to connect with other mothers and babies who were in similar life spaces.

Week four was pretty cool in that my body fiiiinally started to feel semi-normal again; for a minute there it seemed like I’d never feel normal. Evening family walks became regular again without all the pelvic discomfort of the previous weeks. Veda and I started to really get on the same page in communication and we finally worked out our daytime routine. Also, she started responding with more clear eye contact and smiles. Veda smiles are the best parts of my day, they overflow my heart with pure joy.

As a business owner and non-profit volunteer who really loves to work, having a newborn constantly needing my attention was hard to transition into. I naively thought that I’d automatically be really great at balancing being a mother to a newborn with also doing my work in the business and non-profit.

Well, it’s been five weeks now and I feel like we are finally getting into a good balanced routine. On the average, Veda has been taking a long morning nap after we wake up, have breakfast and play a little bit. She’ll sleep for about 1-3 hours which gives me enough time to brush my teeth, clean-up the kitchen, start laundry, and put away the basket of clean clothes that’s been lurking on our bedroom floor.

If there’s any time after house stuff, then I sit down, check my business logs, update the books and start working on the Tiny House Collective to-do list (which is never ending – please help!). Today, though, I wanted to use my work time to write. After trying to put her in her bed twice after she’d fell asleep nursing, and one small nap in her swing, Veda’s made it clear that she prefers to nap on me today, so I’m wearing her in my new Sakura Bloom Ring Sling as I write this.

The last few weeks have taught me a lot about balance. The first few weeks out of bed I was still in my “I can do both” mode. Looking back, I felt as if I was rushing through nursing Veda and there was anxiety around getting her to sleep. I was yearning for that free time to go to work. Instead of primarily focusing on Veda’s needs and development, I was looking forward to that nap time when she’d be sleeping and I could get some work done. I was trying to multi-task baby+work instead of just focusing on each separately. Sending emails while breastfeeding didn’t really work out too well.

I think that in the beginning it’s a lot easier to forget that newborns will grow into real talking walking people. It’s easy to see them as cute little needy balls of muscle. New babies aren’t the best at communicating their needs, and as a parent, it takes a while to be able to understand them. I was holding her most of the time, nursing a ton, making eye contact, talking to her, and carrying her around with me as Veda my newborn baby… but up until a few days ago I don’t think I was REALLY tuning in to Veda, the person.

I think she and I had our moment a few days ago on the changing table when I felt like all of a sudden her awareness was really starting to increase and she was actually seeing ME as a person, too. I felt something click inside my head afterwards and it really made me realize that I hadn’t been being an awesome mom OR executive. Instead of trying to be both, mom and executive roles were going to have to take turns. When Veda is awake and learning, I really want her time with me to be quality time and for it to be well spent. When I’m doing work I want it to be focused and well thought out work.

I started remembering back to my nanny days when I would patiently spend time with each child, talk to and play with them without anything I had to rush off and do. I was being paid to take the best care of their child, I wasn’t thinking about rushing through diaper changes or feeling pressure to get them to go to sleep. I realized that I needed to take the same approach with Veda. I already clean my house like I’m getting paid to do it but that’s also how I should parent. Giving 100% separately instead of 50% simultaneously.

And while it’s been pretty hard, the past few days I’ve been keeping my phone in the other room when Veda’s awake. We’re spending more time in her room reading books and more face to face Veda only time. When I’m working (however rare that is) I’m spending dedicated time to focus and accomplish goals. So far those accomplished goals are few and far between, mostly stuff like do a load of laundry and make dinner. For example, I started this blog at 9am and have been working on it a few mins at a time when I can all day, it’s after 5pm now.

I’m now reaching for accomplishing just one work goal a day and updating this thing somewhat regularly.
I had to let go of the disappointing feeling of not getting as much work done as I’d like to and started focusing on how amazing it is being the best parent I can be.

Self analyze. Prioritize.

Veda Jane’s Birth

We’ve been conditioned in America to think that once you hit 40 weeks pregnant, the magical baby cooking timer automatically goes off, labor starts up, and is followed by producing a baby. Welp, that’s not often the case. Most first time mothers are pregnant for an average of 41.5 weeks if let go until their bodies naturally induce labor (which recent studies show is initiated by the baby signalling she’s reached full lung development – pretty fascinating stuff).

After my 40 week mark, a lot of people kept texting and emailing me, asking “Have you had that baby yet?”. My response was usually a factual “Nope, and I’m not expecting to for another week or two. Did you know that the average length of pregnancy is 41.5 weeks for a first time mother?” That usually quieted most inquirers, and I had hoped, gave them a grace period in which they knew not to ask me again.

Having accepted a new position doing work for a non-profit organization at 40 weeks pregnant, there were a couple upcoming meetings the next week that I had really hoped to attend. I asked Veda if she wouldn’t mind until waiting until after the 41 week mark to make her debut. I wasn’t your typical 40 week pregnant lady. I didn’t feel super impatient, and I wasn’t SO SICK of being pregnant. Thanks to my long torso, I had just in the past week started to become physically uncomfortable and started having to wake up during the night to run to the bathroom. I felt pretty patient and was determined to leave her arrival time up to her.

At 12:01am on Friday, July 17 at 41 weeks and 2 days pregnant, I woke up with my first real (ie: painful) contraction. I remember thinking it was funny because she had been a good baby and waited until after my meetings were over to get this party started. Also, I thought it was interesting because my mother-in-law had also started labor at 12:01am with my husband, Kelly.

Due to my last week of smashed lungs and amped up snoring, Kelly had been sleeping in the other bedroom. I knew labor would most likely take a while so I just turned on my phone, fired up my contraction app, and tried to go back to sleep, remembering what my midwife, Cheryl, had said about sleep in early labor being key for good birth outcomes. Well, the idea of trying to sleep seemed to be a cruel joke. A few contractions in, Kelly had heard me moaning through them from the other room and came to check on me. I let him know that I had been having contractions since midnight and showed him the log on the contractions app where he then took over tracking them. He seemed kind of surprised. It was almost like we had forgotten that this was actually going to happen, we were just so used to being pregnant, I had almost thought I’d stay pregnant forever.

8:00am – 8 Hours In
I stayed in bed until around 8am with consistent 1 minute contractions about every 8 to 10 minutes. Kelly went upstairs to his office and notified his work that he wouldn’t be at work due to me being in labor. I texted my friend Nicole who was set to take birth photos and let her know the scoop. She offered to come over around 9:30am and I told her not to worry about it yet, since I was averaging around 8 minutes apart and had been told that contractions needed to be 5 minutes apart or less before shit gets real. I moved into the living room and took a few minutes to re-read my birth affirmations and let them really sink in.

1:00pm – 13 Hours In
I knew not to get too excited during early labor because these things can take a long while, especially for first time moms. So, Nicole and I strung up my labor beads while I read through the positive and uplifting messages in between contractions. Kelly baked some bacon for BLTs and Nicole and I watched some Grand Hotel on Netflix for a couple episodes.

I had mentioned to Kelly earlier that morning (actually, shouted from the toilet) that our toilet seat was very uncomfortable. I didn’t really think much about it other than that. When Nicole and I were hanging out with Netflix, Kelly ran out to run some pre-birth errands. He came back with a new, far more comfortable toilet seat! As soon as I saw him walk through the front door holding a new toilet seat I squealed, “I love you so much!”. I was really surprised and I felt really loved and listened to. It’s the little things this man does for me that makes me feel appreciated and valued. Contractions were a little more spaced out during the day, but still consistent.

10:30pm – 22.5 Hours In
Once darkness hit, it seemed like contractions started getting more intense and closer together. Throughout Friday night and into Saturday morning, contractions were about 5 to 7 minutes apart and lasting for 1 to 2 minutes each.

2:00am – Saturday July 18 – 26 Hours In
I had a really hard time getting any sleep. My lower back started to become really uncomfortable when I tried to lay down even between contractions and I had to move from our bed to the couch to sleep. We basically created a pillow throne on the couch with stacked pillows on my back and sides to create a softer sitting-up sleeping position with my legs extended out onto the coffee table. I’d like to say I got a few minutes of sleep, but I don’t recall any.

7:00am – 31 Hours In
After another sleepless night of constant contractions about 5 to 7 minutes apart I was feeling pretty worn down. We called my doula, Jessica, over to see if she could do some acupressure to help progress labor and/or help me relax in order to get some sleep. I got as comfortable as possible on my couch pillow throne and she used lavender oil while she massaged me and helped me relax through acupressure. I wasn’t able to get any sleep in, but I was able to calm my mind and rest in between contractions.

Jessica suggested that we inflate the pool and fill it with some warm water to relax in. We wanted to keep the water warm up until delivery to save us from having to empty and refill the pool multiple times so Kelly ran to the pet store, bought a fish tank heater, and rigged up a way to dangle it in the water without touching and melting the plastic. On his way home, Kelly stopped at McGonigal’s and brought back a bunch of delicious smoked brisket and turkey to munch on.

1:00pm – 37 hours In
Jessica and Nicole both left and with the afternoon came more spaced out contractions. I focused on sitting on my couch pillow-throne and getting as much rest as possible.

8:00pm – 44 Hours In
Nicole came back over after an afternoon at home refreshing. A little while after Nicole got back, my midwife, Cheryl and her assistant Shoaf arrived, followed shortly by the arrival of Jessica. We all gathered in the living room to talk. Cheryl and Jessica both explained to me that they thought I was experiencing “prodromal labor” which is basically like practice labor that isn’t progressive. Inside my head, I was saying “yeah right!”. I knew that I was in active labor, and had been having regular contractions, at times less than 5 minutes apart, going on 43 hours. In my research of prodromal labor, it said that contractions can space out from a few hours or stop all together for a few days and pick back up again. The longest span I had between contractions by that point was about 18 minutes.
This was my first pregnancy and delivery though, so I deferred to what the professionals were saying. I was cringing at the thought of these contractions lasting for a week. These contractions were extremely painful and I was unable to sleep through them. I knew that long term, this wouldn’t be sustainable.

Kelly and I decided to go on an uphill walk in our neighborhood to try to progress things. I was feeling frustrated about the prodromal labor conversation and while we were on our walk, I only had one contraction. When we got back to the house I decided that I’d try to get some rest and everyone except Nicole left.

2:00am Sunday – 50 Hours In 
Pretty much as soon as my midwife and doula left, contractions started kicking into full gear again. They were always more intense at night, and this one seemed to be more intense than the last two nights. I was having contractions that were lasting about 2 minutes every 4 to 6 minutes. I hadn’t gotten any sleep yet and was starting to really feel exhausted. Kelly and Nicole were taking turns having sleeping shifts. Whoever was awake would sit with me, rub me, give me water and offer me food. I was thinking that surely it was getting closer.

5:00am – 53 Hours In 
Kelly called Cheryl and Shoaf to come back over. I knew that my contractions weren’t close enough, but they were lasting for much longer and were becoming more painful. Cheryl checked my cervix and said that it was 70% effaced and that I was dilated to 4cm. Which, in the grand scheme of things didn’t mean a lot because often women will walk around dilated to 4cm weeks before delivery. She mentioned the awful “prodromal” word and again, I refused to take it to heart. They left shortly after but assured me that they would be in town close by if I were to need them.
I could tell that Cheryl still didn’t think I was in active labor. I think for the most part I had been handling the pain more internally during contractions. My awesome pre-natal yoga class had taught me some excellent techniques for dealing with pain as well as amazing breathing exercises so I feel like from an outside view, it may have just looked like I was experiencing some mild contractions, while inside I felt something very different.

7:00am – 55 Hours In
Jessica came back over Sunday morning and stayed with me for most of the day. As previously, contractions slowed to around 6-8 minutes apart throughout the day time. Jessica stayed with me while I spent most of the day in the pool. She massaged me, poured water over me and spoke encouraging words. Kelly held my hand, hugged me when I cried, and reminded me that soon Veda would be here and this pain would be over. Nicole made me what was basically the most delicious egg sandwich ever created, too bad I could only eat a few bites.

5:00pm – 65 Hours In 
Jessica left to have dinner with her family while Kelly, Nicole, and I tried to get a wink of sleep in where ever we could. Kelly took shifts sleeping in the back room on an air mattress and while I sat propped up on my pillow throne, Nicole curled up in the chair.

7:00pm – 67 Hours In
Around this time Sunday evening while Kelly was sleeping and Nicole and I were sitting in the living room, I decided I was so very tired of being in labor. I knew that if something didn’t change I was going to majorly crash out and might not be able to finish this delivery at home. I was on day three of no sleep, intense back labor, and I was wearing out, fast. I had been in relatively good spirits through this entire process so far, keeping a positive attitude, doing a good job of managing my pain, and even staying lighthearted and joking around between contractions but I knew Veda needed to come out sooner than later.
I had a quiet talk with Veda and I told her that she needed to get serious about working her way down and out. I told her that I would help her as much as I could but that we needed to get this show on the road as a team and that I needed her help, too. Nicole and I gathered some of her baby clothes and hung them on a lamp by the birthing pool. I wanted to be able to look at them and visualize her being here with me and wearing them.
I had Kelly put on a playlist of all of my favorite fast paced girl jam workout songs and turn it up pretty loud. Copper looked at me like I was crazy. He didn’t care for the noise much. :)
I then got into the pool and loudly sang my way through my contractions while I squatted and moved my hips in a figure 8. It was time Veda and I got serious about doing this thing. I started to be able to feel her moving down more, which unfortunately came with an intense amount of pressure my sacrum, but I could tell we were making more progress. I was happy.

10:00pm – 70 Hours In
Jessica returned to a livingroom of bright lights, loud music, and a happily in pain laboring woman. I saw the look of surprise on her face as she walked through the front door. She smiled back at me.
Shortly after, Cheryl and Shoaf returned as well. I was still in the pool, music cranked up, figure 8 squats swishing the pool water around. Cheryl pulled up a chair next to the pool. The expression on her face said she had information that she didn’t want to disappoint me with, I knew she still had in mind that awful “prodromal” idea. She asked me how I was feeling and I had explained to her what I had been working on the last few hours. She reluctantly asked if I wanted her to check my cervix. I told her that I did, I was curious about what kind of progress Veda and I had made that evening.
As she was checking my cervix I had a contraction. I saw the expression on Cheryl’s face turn to that of surprise. Without saying anything to me, she and Shoaf left the bedroom and went back into the living room to talk to Kelly, Nicole and Jessica. When I walked into the room everyone was smiling as Cheryl and Shoaf started scurrying around unloading the birth kit and setting up supplies.
“What? What did she say!?” I asked. She said I was dialed to 7cm and when I was contracting I went to 9cm. She said we were getting ready to have a baby. OH THANK GOD, I thought as I breathed a sigh of relief right before I started having another contraction. I got back in the pool and started my rest/squat 8’s cycle.

3:00am – 75 Hours In 
Cheryl asked me what I thought about getting out of the pool. By this time my lower back pain was absolutely unbearable. Every contraction I had was overly intensified and it felt like a thousand ice picks were being stabbed in along my lower back and sacrum. At this point my water had still not broken. Cheryl and I talked about how we needed the water to break to kick start the delivery process and how that needed to happen very soon because Veda and I have been in labor for a long time and her heart rate was starting to vary. She told me that either she could break my water or I could. My entire birth plan had centered around non-intervention so I asked her how I could do it on my own. She instructed me to squat and push.

I tried squatting on the living room floor and I couldn’t stand the back pain in that position. I tried squatting at the edge of the couch and that was too much. I tried getting on my hands and knees, getting on just my knees, sitting on one knee and one foot, and sitting on the toilet. I couldn’t stay in any of those positions for more than a few seconds, let alone long enough to push. The pain was absolutely unreal.

Up until this point I had kept a considerable amount of control over my pain, but at this point I really started to lose it. Finally, I decided that I absolutely had to break this water and I returned to the living room, squatted holding the coffee table, and pushed through the pain. It felt like a water balloon had popped out of me and onto the floor. Cheryl looked at the fluid with her flash light and I saw the expression on her face change. I asked her what was going on.
She said that there was meconium in the sack with Veda and that she was breathing it in. It meant that she was under stress and that I would have to push her out as soon as possible. Fear and anxiety started to set in just as this huge storm rolled in, complete with loud thunder, lightening, and what sounded like a monsoon downpour. It was so surreal, it felt like we were all in a dramatic movie.

4:00am – 76 Hours In
My lower back pain intensified. I tried to mentally focus on bringing Veda earthside instead of the pain, but it was becoming impossible. I’m the type of person who absolutely can’t stand whining or people who complain. Up to this point I hadn’t whined or complained and had mostly kept a positive attitude but I started to mentally lose my composure. Because of the meconium, I was unable to get back in the pool. Again, I tried what seemed like a million different birthing positions and I couldn’t stand the pain while in any of them. I started complaining about my back pain and they reassured me that it was normal. Intuitively though, I didn’t feel like everything was ok. I had felt like Veda had moved or changed positions and was putting even more pressure on my sacrum. I took a time out for myself and walked into the kitchen to lean on the counter. I had to give myself a pep-talk. I told myself that I could do this and that I HAD to. Jessica and Nicole came in to reassure me through my tears that I was doing a good job even when I told them “I felt like I was being a baby”. Nicole said, “Labor is hard, you’re allowed to feel pain, this is very painful. You aren’t a baby. You’ve handled this amazingly so far.” That made me feel better. I tried sitting on the toilet, but that seemed to be the worst position for back pressure. I again tried squatting in the living room, on hands and knees, and on the edge of the couch. Nothing was working.

5:00am – 77 Hours In 
Cheryl told me to come into the bedroom. Kelly held my hand while I tried pushing on my knees, pushing on my hands and knees and on my back. I didn’t feel like anything was working and the fear was at an all time high. I started thinking that I wasn’t sure if I could do this and I was worried about what was happening to Veda. Was she ok? Would she come out? Would I have to go to the hospital?
I could tell that Cheryl was concerned. After Shoaf would check her heart rate with the monitor, they would look at each other and I would just be instructed to push. I could no longer tell when I was having a contraction because of the back pain. I just had to push whether I was having a contraction or not.

Cheryl told me to get on my hands and knees. She checked the position of Veda and said that she had turned again. Cheryl turned her head and that seemed to let up a little bit of the back pressure.
I returned to my back and Kelly gripped my hand as he and Cheryl counted for me to push. Having never been through this before, I had no idea what muscles to use or in what area I was supposed to push. Cheryl told me to push like I was taking the biggest poop of my life. As I was pushing they were all shouting at me to hold my breath. In my mind, I thought I was holding my breath. Kelly kept saying “Hold it! Hold it!” as I was pushing. I thought I was holding it but I couldn’t feel her coming down at all.

6:00am – 78 Hours In
Cheryl told me that if I didn’t get her out ASAP we were going to have to go to the hospital. Through my tears I said, “No, I can do this. I know I can!”. Cheryl said “Ok, then, let’s do this.” Jessica ran to grab an extra top sheet that was in our birth kit. She twisted up the sheet and handed one end to Cheryl and one end to me. Cheryl wrapped the sheet around her waist, sat criss-cross in front of me and had my put my feet on her knees. Kelly and Shoaf held my shoulders up as I pulled on the sheet and pushed with all my might. I finally realized that I hadn’t been fully holding my breath, that some had been leaking out my nose as I pushed. So this time I pulled, pushed, and held my breath for the entire duration of the push. For the first time, I felt Veda move down and I thought “OH! THIS is how to do it!”. It literally felt like I was moving a parked tractor with my body.

I pushed again and as I was pushing I heard everyone say “I see the head! There’s her hair! I see her nose! There’s an ear! Her head is out!” After she unwound the umbilical cord from Veda’s neck, Cheryl asked me if I wanted to take a break and I shouted “No!”. With another strong push, the rest of Veda’s little body came rocketing out toward Cheryl (along with a bunch of other disgusting bodily fluids) and she was finally here at 6:26am! Because of the back pain, I didn’t feel burning or stretching from her head or body coming out and I only had a couple small tears that didn’t require stitches.

Cheryl placed Veda on my stomach and started sucking the meconium out of her mouth and nose as Shoaf rubbed her with the towel. She was pink, alert and started crying. She opened her eyes and looked at me and instantly all the fear I had about her health and well being disappeared, I knew she was just fine. It was the most amazing feeling to finally gaze upon her with her looking back at me. Her umbilical cord was pretty short, so she lay on my stomach until it stopped pulsing while Cheryl checked her vitals and breath. I then easily pushed out the placenta, which felt like a slippery blob of jello coming out. Kelly cut the umbilical cord and then Veda was wrapped up in a towel and handed to him. I absolutely loved seeing him hold her for the first time.

Cheryl, Shoaf, Nicole and Jessica left the room to clean up the rest of the house and take down the pool. Kelly, Veda, and I just layed in the bed together swimming in a sea of endorphins. Finally, the past 78.5 hours of pain, uncertainty, and fear were over. We were together at last basking in pure happiness and relief.

After the house was clean and everything was back in it’s place (which, this in itself was the most amazing thing to wake up to the next day), everyone returned to the bedroom for the assessment and weighing of Veda. I had guessed she’d be 7lbs because to me she looked small. Turns out she was just a long 21 inches, and weighed in at 8lbs 9oz.
She was healthy and we were all happy.

It was a long, painful, and exhausting experience but it was truly amazing. My doula has this saying that I love, “Not everyone gets the birth that they want, but they get the birth that they need.” I definitely didn’t want to be in that position for 78.5 hours, but it really taught me a lot about myself. I went into this home birth naively thinking that I’d be able to handle it well and that everything would be right as rain (which, speaking of, there was a LOT of it during delivery). I didn’t think that I’d come to the point where I was doubting myself and my ability to actually do what needed to be done. If it wasn’t for the amazing support of  Nicole who helped me to see that it’s alright to be vulnerable and surrender to pain, the comfort provided by my doula Jessica, and the confidence and encouragement of my amazing husband, I don’t know how I would’ve made it through those very tough final hours. When it’s all said and done, I’d do it again in a heartbeat. Not only did this experience help me to share life with this amazingly beautiful small person, but it taught me a lot about myself in the process.

Below is a collection of pictures that I accumulated through a variety of 4 devices throughout the birth. Some of them are dark and some of them are blurry. Real life.

Labor (1) Labor (2) Labor (3) Labor (4) Labor (5)

Labor (7)Labor (11)IMG_6486 Labor (10) Labor (9) Labor (8)  Labor (12) Labor (14) Labor (15) Labor (16) Labor (21) Labor (20) Labor (19) Labor (18) Labor (17) Labor (22) Labor (23) Labor (24) Labor (25) Labor (26) Labor (31) Labor (30) Labor (29) Labor (28) Labor (27) Labor (32) Labor (33) Labor (34) Labor (35) Labor (36)  Labor (37) Delivery (3) Delivery (2) Delivery (5) Delivery (6) Delivery (8) Delivery (9) 1 Delivery (9) Delivery (10) Delivery (11)  Delivery (14)Delivery (13) Delivery (15)  Post Birth (1)Post Birth (2) Post Birth (3) Post Birth (4) Post Birth (5)

How to Prepare for a Home Birth

In the last blog, I wrote about why we decided to have a home birth. This entry is where I’ll talk more about how to prepare for one. Since you’ll be at home, it’s important not only to have the medical supplies that you’ll need (your midwife will help you with this one), but to also have all the other important items on hand that will help your labor and birth go much smoother.

First things first, Learn about the Birth Process:

The birth process is a fascinating and amazing thing to me. When I became pregnant, I had no idea just how much about pregnancy, labor and birth that I DIDN’T know. The books and documentaries that I listed in the last blog taught me so much about the culture surrounding the hospital birth environment, standard birth procedures, and more natural birthing methods that aren’t always popular in the hospital environment (such as: not being rushed through labor with a time constraint, being able to eat/drink freely, delayed cord clamping, keeping your placenta, and over-all less unnecessary interventions).

I think it’s a good idea to watch several different types of home birth videos on Youtube.com if it’s something you are considering. There are soooo many videos of real women in real time going through this process and it definitely gave me a better perspective of what I might expect and whether or not that was the kind of experience I wanted to have.

Childbirth Classes:

Finding a local birthing class is definitely vital to learning more about the process. It’s a great way for you and your partner to interact and get advice on positions, techniques, and methods you might want to use during your labor and birth. There are so many different kinds of birthing classes out there ranging from The Bradly Method to Hypnobirthing, to Lamaze Classes. We had my pre-natal yoga instructor and doula come to our home for a personal birthing class where she taught us more about how the process usually goes, good positions to labor in, as well as showing my husband some great touch techniques to help ease pain and help me to relax.

Choosing a Midwife:

Finding a Midwife should be done early in your pregnancy. We found our awesome midwife, Cheryl, when I was about 13 weeks and she’s been our primary pre-natal care provider through the entire pregnancy. We found her through a network of local midwives and was highly recommended by some friends in the area.

I talked to several midwives before I found Cheryl. Since it was important to us to have one primary care provider who would be with us through the whole adventure, we wanted someone who we knew we’d jive with. We wanted a midwife who was experienced, down to earth, straightforward and had a good (i.e. slightly odd) sense of humor like ourselves.

When interviewing your Midwife, make sure to ask any and all questions you can think of concerning what kind of pre and post-natal care they provide. Make sure to ask any type of questions that may be important to you regarding your values or what kind of services you expect and would like. A great list of questions to ask while interviewing a midwife can be found here.

Having a home birth with a midwife is a very personal experience. Make sure you find a midwife who you feel like you can really connect with and open up to. It will make all the difference when it’s time for your little one to join the world.

Hiring a Doula:

A doula is similar to a labor coach. She will be with you through out your labor (even before your midwife arrives) and will play a major supportive role for you as well as your birth partner – both physically as well as mentally. She will be there to help you get into more comfortable laboring positions, will help physically ease your pain by massaging key pressure points, and will provide the extra emotional support you and your partner need to make it through long laboring hours.

Most likely, your partner will not know as much about labor and birth as your doula. She will be there to provide extra information an insight about the birth process suggesting things you or your partner may do to improve your experience while helping to keep your partner from being overwhelmed. Since your doula is going to be up close and personal with you through labor, like your midwife, it’s important that you choose a doula who you are comfortable with and feel a connection to.

Compiling Your Birth Kit:

Medical Items – My midwife had us order our custom birth kit (detailed list in link) online from www.birthwithlove.com

In addition to the items that came in the custom birth kit, she made sure we had the follow items on hand:
12 Newborn Diapers – A minimum of 12, they can go through that many in just one day.
1 Box of Baby Wipes
Towels: 4-6 Old Bath Towels, 2-3 Hand towels – Washed on hot and dried on high.
2 Comfy Nightgowns for Labor
Laundered Baby Clothes and Baby Blankets – Have both indoor and outdoor weight depending on the season.
3 Flanned Backed Waterproof Table Cloths 
1 Set of Old Sheets for your Bed 
Overnight Menstral Pads – I bought a huge package and turned half of them into Padscicles.
3 Large Sturdy Black Trash Bags – It’s a good idea to use the thick variety so animals aren’t tearing into it when you set it out to be picked up by the trash men!
3 Ziploc Gallon Freezer Bags – To transport the placenta to be encapsulated.
Big Plastic Bowl for Placenta
Crock Pot
– To keep warm wet wash cloths in that you can use as compresses to help prevent tearing your perineum.
Fractioned Coconut Oil – For Perineal Lubrication and Massage (I bought this kind on Amazon)
Lysol or Clorox Wipes – A new, full container for clean-up.
Ibuprofen & Arnica Gel

Additional Items for a Water Birth:

Pool – We borrowed a pool from our midwife.
Liner – Purchased in our birth kit.
Electric Mattress Pump
Faucet Adapter – This was kind of a pain to find. We went back and forth to the hardware store three times until we found an adapter that ACTUALLY fit the faucet.
Lead-Free Water Hose – My husband tried to get me to use the hose that was hanging in the garage… uh, no way. After the thought of spiders and who knows what else hanging out in there, I demanded a new hose.
Extra Towels to Dry Off 
Extra Flannel Backed Waterproof Table Cloth
Bikini Top or Sports Bra
– I chose to get a string bikini top with maximum chest exposure (my husband is big fan of this ;) ) for skin to skin contact and to be able to easily untie it for breastfeeding after birth.

Items for During Labor:

Birthing Ball – This is a great tool to use for sitting and rocking on during labor. Check out this video about using it in labor.
Essential Oils – These can have amazing effects on labor by relaxing and calming or even energizing and speeding up labor. My go-to is Lavender oil. Check out this post for a few examples of different EO’s to use during labor.
Music – Same effect as using essential oils, music has the ability to calm you or energize you. Make a play list with a variety of your favorite music that you might want to listen to at different stages in labor. For me, I love nature sounds, so I’m getting a playlist of rain forest type of sounds ready to go for when I want to close my eyes and pretend I’m in the trees.

Preparing Your Home:

Clean – A week or two before you’re due, have your house deep cleaned, it will help you to relax and feel better about birthing in your space. Clean everything that might come in contact with you and your new baby and store it in bags to keep it clear from dust and debris.
Have Meals Ready – It’s a good idea to pre-cook some freezer meals to have on hand for after the birth when you aren’t going to feel like doing any cooking but it’s still important that you are being properly nourished.
Get Birthing Supplies Ready – Have your birthing kit, towels, and other birthing supplies sorted and ready to go. Keep them all in one handy area where your midwife will know where to find them.
Check your Wallet – In case there are any last minute cravings or supplies you might need, it’s a good idea to have cash on hand if you need to send someone out to fetch a few things for you.
Birth Affirmations – These are lists of positive and encouraging says that you may want posted in your laboring area to refer to and to keep your mind focused. A couple of my favorites that I’ve posted on my bulletin board in the dining room where I plan to have the birthing pool are:

Veda and I are a team working together.
I relax so Veda can relax.
Veda senses the peace I feel.

I can do all things through breath which strengthens me. Breathe in peace. Breathe out love.

I embrace the wisdom of my body. It knows what it’s doing. I trust my body. I surrender with confidence.

My mind quiets. My body opens. Veda descends.

The power and intensity of my contractions can not be stronger than me because they are me.

Food to Have On-Hand:

In addition to having energizing and nourishing food for while you are in labor, don’t forget that your partner, midwife, doula, and photographer will also need to eat. Having a fridge stocked with some foods they like (ask them before hand to make sure there’s food they enjoy and are able to eat) is a good way to keep their energy levels up as well! We’ve stocked up on lots of nuts, berries, healthy snacks, and easy sandwich items for those who will be here with us.

For the laboring mom, nourishing foods that are easy on the stomach (think about foods that aren’t horrible coming back up) are good to have on hand.

Hydrating Drinks with Electrolytes – Coconut Water, Gatorade, Fruit Juice, Raspberry Tea
Bendy Straws – You might not feel like drinking from a glass, when I’m sick, I always prefer a straw.
Rice Cakes
Peanut Butter
Honey
Oatmeal 
Nuts
Fruit – Fresh and Dried
Smoothies – Fruit, protein, juices
Lollipops – A great way to combat dry mouth!
Mints or Breath Strips – If there’s any vomiting you may want to “freshen up” instead of having to go to the bathroom to brush your teeth.

Once Labor Starts:

Labor Activities: Baking/Cooking/Movies/Chores – Make a list of activities you can do during early labor to keep up your morale and distract yourself from focusing on the pain or any negative emotions. Going on with with your normal daily activities can help to progress labor and keep you from dwelling on the less pleasant aspects of labor.
Empty Washing Machine – You’ll likely be doing a lot of laundry after labor, so making sure your washer is empty and popping any
Hook-Up Hose for Filling Birth Tub – Even if you may not need to fill it up right away, having everything ready to go will save you time and frustration if it’s all hooked up and ready to be turned on when you’re feeling the urge to submerge!
Have Dedicated Child-Care for Other Children – Even if you’re going to labor and birth at home, you will want someone to either come to your home to be with your other kids or you might want to send them to a friend or family member’s home. It’s a good idea to plan this ahead and have someone on-call who can help out with the kiddos.

Know your Back-Up Plan:

Know your Hospital Route and Layout – Familiarize yourself with the hospital you would be transfering to and map out your driving route. It’s also a good idea to go ahead and get a tour of the labor and delivery area even if you never have to use it.
Hospital Bag – Have a hospital bag packed with some of the things you might want with you in the event of a transfer to the hospital. Check out this entry for a list of things you might want to include in your bag. 
Prepare your Car – Make sure you have a full tank of gas in your car and that both parents have practiced with and installed the car seat in order to know how it properly works.

And there you have it! These are most of the things you will likely need at your home birth. One of the most important aspects of a home birth is to be calm and comfortable. Everyone has their special clothing, items, and people who make them feel the best, surround yourself with those things and people to help support your amazing home birth experience! Thanks for reading! Happy birthing!

-Post by Shawna in Kansas City